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Erie - COVID-19

8 Things ERIE is Doing During COVID-19

When Erie Insurance opened for business in 1925, our co-founder H.O. Hirt inspired us with his motto: Never lose the human touch.

Well… these days, the “human touch” looks a lot different. But that spirit is still alive in us at ERIE, where we’re still here for you and the communities we serve.

Check our COVID-19 Information Center for the latest news and announcements. For questions about your specific policy, review our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.

In case you missed it: Here’s a recap of what we’re doing to help.

HOW IS ERIE INSURANCE HELPING CUSTOMERS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS?

We’re providing financial relief, flexible payment options, community support and more. Here’s what to know.

  1. Customer dividends, mailed directly to you in May: Most people are doing the right thing by staying home and not driving. We’re following suit by doing the right thing, too. ERIE is providing $200 million in dividends directly to our personal and commercial auto insurance customers, pending regulatory approval. This immediate relief represents about 30% of related auto insurance premiums over a two-month period, or 5% of your annual premium. There’s no need to call your ERIE agent or request a check – it will be mailed directly to you. Learn more about our customer dividends, announced April 21, 2020.
  2. Lower auto insurance rates for long-term relief: In addition to the dividends mentioned above, we’re lowering auto insurance rates for personal and commercial customers for long-term, steady and stable relief. Pending regulatory approval, rate reductions will vary by state and will be based on individually purchased policies and coverage options. Once approved, premium adjustments will take effect at the time of renewal and the estimated total will provide an additional $200 million in financial relief to ERIE customers. Learn more about our rate reductions, announced April 9, 2020.
  3. Flexible payment and billing options: Your local agent can help you with updating coverages. Agents and ERIE’s Customer Care teams may also be able to assist with delaying payment dates, adjusting installments, changing pay plans and waiving penalties and fees. In addition, some billing requests including deferring payments and nonpay cancellations can also be requested through erieinsurance.com/help or through your ERIE Online Account.
  4. Contact-free life insurance coverage: For a limited time, Erie Family Life is offering applicants a path to life insurance coverage without the requirement of a paramedical exam. The option to waive the exam is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The waiver provides Erie Insurance customers the ability to obtain life insurance without in-person interaction. The offer is available for applicants up to age 55 and policy face amounts up to $500,000. Learn more about the paramedical exam waiver, announced March 24, 2020.
  5. Expanding identity recovery services to extended family members living elsewhere: Social distancing directives result in many people staying connected virtually, which may result in increased exposure to cybercrime. ERIE offers identity recovery coverage with all ErieSecure Home® bundles and as an add-on to our Home Protector policies. Through August 2020, we’re extending support services to assist in recovering from a possible identity theft at no additional cost to include our customers’ extended family members, including those not residing with the policyholder. This includes:
    • Adult children (26 or older), their spouse and their children
    • Parents, including stepparents and legally adoptive parents
    • Siblings, including step-siblings and adoptive siblings
  6. Gift card reimbursement coverage: From your favorite lunch spot to that funky art gallery, our local small businesses make our hometowns feel like home. We rely on them daily – and now, they need us. So go ahead and stock up on gift cards, worry-free. Pending regulatory approval in several states, Erie Insurance is adding gift card and gift certificate reimbursement coverage to the company’s ErieSecure Home® policies. The additional feature, included at no additional cost, would reimburse customers for remaining balances on gift cards that can no longer be used at independently owned and operated local businesses due to business closures.Learn more about our gift card coverage, announced April 16, 2020.
  7. Giving back to our hometown: Erie Insurance provided a lead gift to support the Erie Community Foundation’s new COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund recently established in our home city of Erie, Pennsylvania. This fund will directly support 501(c)(3) organizations in Erie County, Pennsylvania that are providing support to those in need, administering care for children, serving elderly populations who are most vulnerable and helping those suffering hardships and job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  8. Giving back to our agents and all the communities we serve: Our agents and employees are stepping up to thank first responders, healthcare workers and others on the front lines. To boost that, we’re making nearly $2.5 million available to agents and branch offices to support their charitable work in local communities.

For 95 years, we’ve been standing by our customers in times of hardship and catastrophe. These times are unprecedented, but our mission hasn’t changed. From 1925 to today, our mission to “do the right thing” still drives every decision we make.

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COVID-19

Support Your Local Businesses Right Now

COVID-19Even when we’re told to maintain social distance, we need each other more than ever.

As the news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, it’s essential to follow public health guidance from experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local government to keep your distance and slow the spread. (Read more about how ERIE and our local agents are maintaining our commitment to serving you in our message on COVID-19.)

Beyond the health impacts, though, there’s also a community impact. Right now, things might feel lonely or uncertain – even scary. And that’s especially true for small business owners – in particular, those that have been instructed to close their doors.

From your favorite lunch spot to that funky art gallery, our local small businesses are a beloved part of what make our hometowns feel like home. We rely on them daily – and now, they need us. If you’ve got a little extra to spare in these uncertain times, here’s how you can help out your local small businesses.

HOW TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES DURING THE CORONAVIRUS

  1. Buy local whenever you can. When it comes time to stock up on pantry staples, think about supporting that mom-and-pop shop first. The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) has fascinating data about how locally owned businesses generate larger “local economic multipliers.” Your support might make a bigger impact than you think.
  2. Order takeout or delivery from your favorite local restaurants. Extra perk: No dishes.
  3. Buy gift cards or gift certificates. Many places accept contact-free payment online or over the phone. Stock up now and treat yourself to a night on the town when this all blows over. For places you rely on regularly – for example, your hair salon – buy an extra service or two now if you can, since you know for sure you’ll use it in the months ahead.
  4. Buy gifts for friends or family. Is it crazy to think about starting your holiday shopping in the spring? You’ll thank yourself later – and, hey, it’s something to pass the time! (Read our list of tips for safe online holiday shopping.)
  5. Leave a generous tip. With lower customer volume, servers and bartenders might be making less than usual. If you have it to spare, throw a few extra dollars their way. (And don’t forget to tip the delivery driver!)
  6. Buy merch or other gear. We get it – you can only order so much takeout, especially if you’re not getting your usual number of steps in. Think about buying a coffee mug, T-shirt or ball cap to show some local love. Buying merch can especially help touring musicians, who might have had to cancel shows in the interest of public health.
  7. Tune in to live streams. With bars, restaurants, and other gathering spaces closed, gig workers like musicians might be out of work. Show your support with a like and comment on your favorite local band’s livestream. (And if they have a digital tip jar, send a few dollars there just like you would at the corner bar.)
  8. Take an online class. Personal trainers, yoga instructors, and fitness pros might be out of work, too – and we all know it’s important to keep moving when you’re stuck at home. See who’s streaming and consider throwing them a digital tip as a thank-you. (Laundry piling up? Read our list of 7 must-know hacks to clean fitness gear.)
  9. Buy some cool art. Websites like Etsy make it easy to search by location and find artists in your community – and you might be going stir-crazy to freshen up your space, anyhow. Some local artists might be doing “draw-alongs” or other livestreams. Add them to the list of folks who would appreciate a digital tip, too. (Keeping the kiddos occupied with art projects of their own? Read our list of 5 stylish ways to display children’s artwork.)
  10. Leave a positive review. If you’re short on cash, boosting a local place’s reputation is worth its weight in gold. While you’re at home, type up a couple good comments for your favorite spots to leave on social media or search engines. (Get other ideas to pass the time in our list of 21 ways to beat cabin fever.)
  11. Check with your local chamber of commerce or small business association. Local groups might be planning events, discounts, or promotions unique to your area. Get connected and see what’s happening in your neighborhood.
  12. Pay it forward. If you’re fortunate to have some steady cash flow right now, remember that others might not. Consider treating the next person in line behind you – or making a donation to a charity that helps the less fortunate in your community.
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Small Business Week

Small Business Week – May 3-9

Small Business WeekEach year, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes the powerful contributions of America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs with National Small Business Week.

This year’s National Small Business Week runs from May 3-9, 2020, and will include plenty of opportunities for small businesses of all kinds to share the message.

IDEAS TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK

Need some inspiration? Here are five ways your business can participate in Small Business Week.

  1. Celebrate your customers. Every time someone walks through your doors, they’re making a choice. The relationship between a small business and its customers is something special—and something big companies just can’t match. Show your appreciation (while also driving sales) through a customer appreciation event or Small Business Week sale. Spread the word on social media and build buzz with surprise giveaways for fans and followers.
  2. Team up with other small businesses. Remind the local community how small businesses have helped shape their town by partnering with other business owners to celebrate and promote the week. Hand out coupons for the store up the street and have them do the same for you. Get creative finding ways to encourage locals to visit one small business after another.
  3. Think big with local professional organizations. Find out what your local Chamber of Commerce or similar organizations are up to for this year’s Small Business Week and see how you can get involved. Not much happening? Get involved yourself and help get something going this year. Find out what they’ve done in the past and see how you can help make this year even better.
  4. Celebrate SBA Award Winners. During Small Business Week, the SBA will be announcing the winners of several awards, including Small Business Person of the Year, which is awarded for each of the 50 states, plus D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. Take the opportunity to celebrate your favorites as they’re announced and take to social media to share the stories of the small businesses that inspire you.
  5. Say hello to your local ERIE agent. Your local ERIE agent knows small business because they are a small business. If you haven’t had your coverage reviewed recently, now is a great time to speak with an independent professional who understands exactly where you’re coming from. Check in to talk coverage (or just say hi).

Talk to your local ERIE agent to make sure you have the right business insurance you need this Small Business Week and for many Small Business Weeks to come. Reach out today – from one small business to another.

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Keeping Costs in Check

Keeping Costs in Check? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Cut Corners on Business Insurance

Keeping Costs in CheckOwning a small business can be one of life’s greatest balancing acts. Every day there’s the stress of managing employees, finding (and retaining) customers and monitoring cash flow. And on top of that, you’ll always feel the pressure to keep costs down — and productivity up.

For business owners looking to boost their bottom line, cutting back on insurance expenses can be a real temptation. After all, insurance premiums are usually a fixed cost. Especially if you’ve never had to file a claim, those monthly payments can feel like just another bill to pay.

But without adequate protection, an accident of any kind could be detrimental to the business you’ve worked so hard to build. Here’s why cutting corners on business insurance doesn’t pay off.

WHY IS BUSINESS INSURANCE IMPORTANT?

Like your personal home and auto policies, business insurance is meant to help business get back to normal after an accident, which can include lawsuits, property damage, injuries and more.

As a result, business insurance is a necessary expense. But that doesn’t mean it’s without return. Here are some benefits to having the right commercial insurance.

  • Stay legal. Depending on the state you operate in, certain policies may be required by law, regardless of your business’ size. For example, many states require a business owner to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, even if you only have a single employee. Your local Erie Insurance agent can help you understand  which policies are intended to comply with legal requirements and recommend the right policies for your industry and size.
  • Care for employees. As a small business owner, your employees are like members of the family. And you depend on them to help run your business. Workers’ compensation can cover medical care and lost wages if they’re injured on the job.  ERIE also offers risk control services to help policyholders identify and reduce risks.
  • Protect your business from the unexpected. Sometimes, accidents happen. The right insurance coverage can protect your business after something unexpected happens, such as if you become legally liable for injuries suffered by a customer after something like a slip-and-fall accident at your business.
  • Boost your reputation. Solid protection can instill confidence from employees and clients alike. Having coverage that’s in everyone’s best interest shows others that you’re willing to invest in their safety and well-being.
  • Qualify for contracts. Securing a new business contract often requires you to have minimum limits of certain business insurance coverages, especially if loans are involved.
  • Recover from natural disasters. Mother Nature can level businesses and make recovery seem impossible. The right coverage can help put your mind at ease and get you back to work. (Talk to a local ERIE agent about the specifics, since some coverage – such as flood or earthquake – is sold separately. Read more about protecting your business from natural disasters.)
  • Cover legal costs. Lawsuits are notorious for taking up time and racking up bills. Business insurance can help you prepare for interruptions and keep legal costs from emptying your bank account.

HOW TO CHOOSE BUSINESS INSURANCE

Finding the right coverage starts with assessing your needs and identifying the risks associated with your business. Insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. That’s why ERIE offers a variety of business insurance policies tailored to meet your specific needs. Whether you own a restaurant, an apartment building or a construction business, our custom solutions are crafted from years of experience protecting businesses like yours.

Here are some of the most common business insurance policies, and why you shouldn’t overlook them:

  • Commercial auto insurance: Whether you rely on a single car or a large fleet of vehicles, commercial auto insurance is something many businesses need. This coverage can protect your business against claims for bodily injury and property damage caused by a covered accident arising out of the use of a company vehicle.
  • Commercial property insurance: Commercial property insurance helps protect the building or physical location you work in, whether it’s owned with property coverage or leased with liability coverage for damage that’s your fault. It could also replace damaged or stolen assets like equipment and product inventory. Some policies, like business interruption coverage, can even help recover any income you lost while your doors were closed due to a covered loss.
  • General liability insurance: While specific liabilities may vary from business to business, a general liability policy protects you against covered claims alleging bodily injury or property damage.
  • Employment practices liability: Legal issues stemming from alleged discrimination, wrongful termination and harassment are growing concerns for today’s small business owner. With Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPL) coverage from ERIE, you can choose the protection that best fits your needs to help cover the costs of a lawsuit — even if the charges aren’t true.
  • Business data breach coverage: Tech companies aren’t the only ones vulnerable to hacking and data breaches. Whether someone steals your customers’ credit card numbers or your employees’ tax information, it can wreak havoc on your business. If you’re a business owner data breach coverage is a worthwhile addition.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: Often referred to as workers’ comp, this policy is legally required in most states if you hire employees. It helps cover medical care and lost wages for an employee who is hurt at work and cannot return.
  • Business umbrella insurance: No matter how careful you or your employees are, mistakes and accidents unfortunately do happen. That’s why many business owners make the smart decision to protect themselves with extra business liability insurance. Known as Business Catastrophe Liability at ERIE, this additional layer of coverage gives you extra protection and peace of mind above and beyond your commercial general liability, professional liability, business auto liability and employers liability insurance. (Check with your local ERIE agent about any sublimits that might apply.)

HOW TO SAVE ON BUSINESS INSURANCE

Many times, cutting back on your business insurance coverage can expose you to far more risk than the premiums you’ll save are worth. If you’re looking for savings, here are some tips to help keep costs in check without sacrificing protection:

  • Review your policy annually. Meet with your local ERIE agent to review your policy each year and make sure your coverage is up to date. A policy review can help ensure every asset is accounted for, and that every opportunity for savings is taken advantage of.
  • Maintain proper employee classifications. Employee class codes have implications, especially in dangerous work environments. Make sure that you and your team are accurately classified to save money and protect your workers.
  • Keep coverage during every season. During slow seasons, you might be tempted to let your coverage lapse. However, lapsed coverage leaves your business vulnerable and could lead to fees and higher rates. Every business’s circumstances are different, but generally speaking, it’s wise to consider year-round coverage.
  • Bundle your coverages. Many insurance providers offer savings when you purchase multiple policies with them. Take advantage of multi-policy discounts, get more comprehensive protection and ease the claims process by bundling business insurance with one provider.
  • Create a safer environment. Train and educate employees on workplace safety to help reduce rates and liabilities. (Bonus: ERIE even offers risk control services to help advise businesses like yours on ways to improve processes and safety protocols.)
  • Upgrade your security. Find weaknesses in your physical and digital security systems. Decreasing the chances of a break-in or data breach could help reduce payments and stop an incident from happening in the first place.
  • Pay annually. If you can afford the upfront cost, consider paying your insurance premiums annually. You’ll skip fees that might be associated with monthly payments, and you can relax knowing you have year-round coverage and one less bill to worry about.
  • Add endorsements. Endorsements can help address coverage gaps for sometimes pennies on the dollar. Ask your insurance agent which endorsements would benefit you the most or bundle well with your current policy.

PROTECT WHAT YOU’VE BUILT

You’ve worked hard to make your business what it is today, and you deserve someone who understands how to help you protect it. Your local ERIE agent is there when you need them most and can build a customized package tailored just for your business.Contact your local ERIE agent to find the coverage you need with nothing you don’t, all at a great price.

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Anti-Discrimination Laws

7 Anti-Discrimination Laws Business Owners Should Know

Anti-Discrimination LawsFair and equal treatment isn’t just the right thing to do… it’s often the law.

Whether you’re hiring for a new position, planning a promotion or letting an employee go, it’s important to be aware of anti-discrimination laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Why? Because if you’re accused of discrimination or harassment, you could potentially face a long and costly legal battle to resolve it.

These laws also protect your employees from any retaliation if they report a situation where they experienced or witnessed discrimination.

Related: 5 Reasons Employees Might Sue (And How To Keep Your Workplace Fair to Prevent It)

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the laws that could lead to a discrimination claim. Need a refresher? Here’s a quick overview of protected classifications at the federal level. (Note: This is not legal advice – for specific guidance pertaining to your business, always consult a licensed lawyer with small business expertise.)

  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII): This established that employers can’t discriminate against people because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The law also requires employers to reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely held religious practices.
  2. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act: This law amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
  3. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA): This law prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of sex and makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace.
  4. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA): This law protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination on the basis  of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment.
  5. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA): This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state and local governments. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
  6. Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991: Among other things, this law amends Title VII and the ADA to permit jury trials and compensatory and punitive damage awards in intentional discrimination cases.
  7. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA): This law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. Genetic information includes information about an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members, as well as information about any disease, disorder or condition of an individual’s family members (i.e. an individual’s family medical history).

These laws also make it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Remember: Local or state laws might get more specific than these federal laws. Be sure to familiarize yourself with any laws unique to your area, and consult a lawyer for specific legal advice pertaining to your business.

EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES LIABILITY COVERAGE CAN HELP

Even if you do everything you can to be proactive and fair in your business, you still could be faced with a lawsuit accusing you of discrimination. Even if the accusations aren’t true, a lawsuit could leave you stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

Good news: There’s time to think ahead and protect yourself.

Talk to your local ERIE agent about adding Employment Practices Liability (EPL) coverage* to your business insurance policy. This coverage may help you in the instance someone brings a lawsuit against your business for wrongful acts, such as discrimination.

Learn more about what’s included in EPL coverage or talk to your local ERIE agent for a customized quote.

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