construction insurance workers

Construction Insurance 101: Beginner’s Tips

construction insurance workersIf you’re a contractor, construction insurance is an absolute must. However, not all insurance is equal and for most contractors, insurance policies are something you only think about when renewal comes around each year. At that time, many contractors will simply stick with what they have. While a policy may have worked for one year, the needs for insurance may change as a business grows and shifts. Without a prudent insurance broker, you may be missing out on important insurance that could save a ton of money by limiting your exposure.

Of course, contractors are not in the business of insurance. This leads to a lot of confusion that could be saved with a few simple tips that keep proper insurance as a lessened burden.

Get the Right Broker

Having the right insurance broker on your side can lead to much better deals. By working with the right person, you can stay up to date on the latest coverages and get the best deal for the size of your business without exhaustive research. When you don’t have the right broker, you risk losing out on better coverage, getting policies for a worse price, or not getting a new coverage that could have protected you before an incident occurred. The right broker can also help you fill out paperwork properly and help to lower your costs at each stage of your business.

Pay Per Worker

Workers’ Compensation insurance is calculated by classification of worker. Unless each of your employees makes the same amount of money and works the same hours, you could be losing a lot of money by bundling them into the same classification. For instance, a worker that makes $30 an hour should cost less to insure than workers that make $25 an hour. In fact, if a worker makes $25, it would cost less to pay them more each hour than the extra cost of insurance. Most employers would rather give their workers more money than spending it on a bad insurance policy.

Safety Training

Having the right safety training can help lower your insurance premiums. Contractors are legally required to have safety meetings every 10 working days. By showing you have properly given instruction for each potential hazard, such as how to use a harness, you’ll be better positioned to prove the employee had the right training prior to the incident. This can help against being sued by discontented employees.

At ABCO, we understand the insurance a contractor needs and can give many options in the right coverage. Contact us today to find out how we can help your business succeed.

Do College Students Need Renters Insurance?

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It’s an exciting time of year–it’s almost time for college students to head back to campus. While many students still live on-campus, if you are a college student that is going to be in your own apartment this year, congratulations! This is one of the many steps you’ll take towards independence.

Although you may be focused on getting the perfect furniture and cool decorations for your new place, you should also be prepared in case something goes wrong. Now, you probably don’t want to think about it, but there are a lot of things that can happen at your apartment, and no, that doesn’t include any fun parties you might be throwing.

What do you do if someone breaks something in your place? Or your friend hurts themselves while dancing around your living room and decides to sue you? These accidents, while scary to think about, do in fact happen, and you should be ready just in case. Renters’ insurance is a great way to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. It will protect your belongings, protect you from any liability and also cover any living expenses if your apartment becomes unlivable for a time. Let’s look at these three aspects of renters’ insurance.

Property Replacement Basics

If you own an expensive laptop, a high-quality flat screen TV or any nice furniture, you might want to take care of it. One way you can do this is by protecting your valuables with renters’ insurance. How does this work? Well, you can insure each of your important belongings in your apartment, so that if thieves come and steal your things or there’s fire or water damage that occurs, you can call your agent, fill out any paperwork, and get the monetary value of each item back. This way, you’ll be able to replace anything that’s been stolen, damaged or destroyed.

The Essentials of Liability Protection

Let’s say you’re throwing an amazing party, and someone happens to slip and fall on a rug that you have in the living room of your apartment. They sprain their ankle or break their arm, and all of a sudden, that friend of yours is suing you. While it was obviously an accident, you still are responsible. With renters’ insurance, you don’t have to worry about footing an expensive medical bill. It will cover the cost of repairs for any damage that occurred, as well as the medical expenses for your friend’s injury.

What About Living Expense Coverage?

While your landlord should have insurance that covers any cost of repairs in case of a natural disaster, like a hurricane or fire, what it won’t cover is the cost of you having to live somewhere else while the building is being repaired. Renters’ insurance, however, will cover these costs, also referred to as living expenses. Even if you only spend a few nights at a hotel, you can still run up a hefty tab. That’s where your renters’ insurance will step in, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

So, Where Can You Get a Good Renters’ Insurance Policy?

We know you’ve got a lot on your plate, from physics to frat parties. So, let the experts at ABCO Insurance Agency, Inc help you find the perfect renters’ insurance policy for you. Contact us today to get started.

The Essentials of Technology Insurance

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If you are a company that sells computer hardware or software to another company, you would probably greatly benefit from investing in a good technology insurance policy. You will save yourself a lot of time and money if you do so, even if the initial cost of the policy seems expensive upfront. Whether you’re a startup or a larger, more established corporation, signing up for tech E & O, or technology errors and omissions insurance, is a wise idea. Let’s look at the basics of technology insurance, and specifically tech E & O insurance.

What Is Technology Insurance, Anyway?

Technology insurance is like any other form of insurance, except specifically for technology providers and technology companies. What does this mean, exactly? Well, let’s say you manufacture and sell computer parts to a computer manufacturer that creates laptops, netbooks and desktop computers. These parts are installed in the computer, and are supposed to work in order for the computer itself to work. If they don’t, then you have a problem. Technology insurance will cover you as the computer part manufacturer and protect you from having to pay any costs for anything related to damages or malfunctions.

What About Tech E & O Insurance?

This is a more specific and granular form of technology insurance. Let’s say you’ve developed a software program that processes data for analysis, and that you sell it to a computer manufacturer to include as part of their complete computer “package”, so to speak. However, when the software is used, it either doesn’t work or doesn’t draw any analytical conclusions from the data. This makes it pretty useless, doesn’t it? Tech E & O would cover you as the software company from having to pay damages related to the errors and omissions that occurred.

Do You Really Need This Type of Insurance?

The short answer is: yes! Most commercial general liability insurance won’t cover the issues that occur with technology, while adding a tech E & O policy or a more general technology insurance policy will greatly benefit you. It is always a good idea to be insured for things that you may suspect will never happen, but could. There’s always that “if”, so it’s wise to be prepared.

But What About Commercial General Liability Insurance?

While these policies are usually great at having a wide range of coverage, they will not cover anything related to errors and omissions.  This may be considered by some to be a form of property damage, but it’s not, at least not in the more traditional CGL insurance sense. An error or omission usually just renders property less useful or useless. It’s not really outright damage to the property, so it doesn’t really fall under the scope of a CGL policy.

Get Technology Insurance Today

If you work in the vast field of technology and create products or services that are used by other technology companies or manufacturers, a good technology insurance policy is an excellent idea. ABCO Insurance Agency, Inc. can help you find the policy that’s right for you. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

Get the Facts on Hurricanes and Homeowners’ Insurance

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Did you know that the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th? If you don’t know much about hurricanes and the damage they can cause, now’s the time to learn. These powerful storms can destroy homes, boats, cars and more. They present problems ranging from flooding and water damage to violent wind gusts and even tornadoes.

In order to protect your family and property from hurricane damage, it is important to know a few helpful tips.

Before the Storm Hits

Long before a hurricane even pops up on the radar, if you live in a storm-prone area, you should have a supply of canned goods, drinking water and other non-perishable foods. You should include a manual can opener in this list as well. Remember, once the power goes out, it can take a while for it to turn back on.

Be sure that you also have a supply of flashlights and batteries. Also, if you take medicine, be aware that you may need to have enough for several days.

If you need to evacuate, be certain to board up windows or protect them with storm shutters. Secure any outdoor objects, including boats.

How Does Insurance Factor into Storm Preparedness?

While you may already know about the steps listed above to make sure your family is safe during the storm, you might not be aware of the limitations of your homeowners’ insurance policy. Keep photographs and documentation of your household valuables, and store copies of these documents in a safe deposit box at a bank or other secure location. This will help you when or if you need to file a claim.

Also, it is obviously very smart to have the claims telephone number of your agent or insurer in a safe place that is quickly located in the event of an evacuation. And of course, review your policy to see what is covered and what is not. Remember, flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowners’ insurance policies.

What to Do After the Storm

Of course, the first thing you want to do is make sure you and your family are all right and safe. That is clearly the most important thing. Once that occurs, you will want to report any property damage to your insurance agent immediately. Take photos of any damage to document it. If you’ve evacuated, be sure your insurance agent knows how to contact you.

It is also a good idea to separate damaged items from undamaged items. This will help your claims adjuster complete an inventory of the damage and speed up the settlement of your claim.

Be sure to mitigate, or protect against, any additional damage. Cover holes or openings in walls, windows and roofs. If you think it is unsafe to do this on your own, hire a contractor and make sure to keep the receipts of the work.

Get Homeowners’ Insurance Before the Storms Come

While it may already be hurricane season, it is still a wise idea to shop around for a quality homeowners’ insurance policy. At ABCO Insurance Agency, Inc., we will compare rates from 25 different insurance companies to make sure that you get the best deal that’s right for you. Contact us now, before the storms come.

The Ins and Outs of Business Insurance

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As a small business owner, you know that you’ve got a lot of expenses to worry about, from renting a space for your bakery to purchasing raw materials for your crafts. Depending on the type of business you own (like a cupcake shop compared to a fine crafts store), you may have more costs some months than others. It can definitely be difficult to budget.

However, one cost that is essential is business insurance. Despite misconceptions, this form of insurance is very useful and can be well worth the expense. Besides, if you shop around, you could still find a good rate.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics of business insurance.

Who Needs It?

Like many small business owners, you may feel that you don’t really need this kind of insurance. After all, will you really encounter a situation in which it would be useful? The truth is, yes, you probably will. At some point during your company’s lifespan, you may have to deal with a natural disaster, a break-in, theft or even someone suing you. Business insurance can cover all of these incidents.

What if I Have Other Insurance?

You might be wondering if you need business insurance if you have renters’ insurance. While renters’ insurance can cover some physical property, such as an expensive camera or laptop that you use for your business, it doesn’t cover everything. In fact, many renters’ insurance limit what can be covered under “business pursuits”, which means the entirety of your small business may not be covered.

What if Something Really Bad Happens?

If, say, your work laptop gets stolen, some business insurance policies will reimburse you for the total amount you paid for that computer. This is a recent change in insurance. Usually, you would get what it was worth at the time it got stolen from you. However, be aware that not all policies offer this perk, and that policies that do offer it are generally more expensive.

What Does “Liability” Mean?

This can be confusing for people to understand, because the insurance definition of “liability” differs a little from the layperson’s definition. In insurance terms, liability essentially means that if you are negligent and someone gets hurt because of it, that person can sue you.

This is different from “errors and omissions.” This term means that there was a professional mistake, or error. For example, if you are a photographer taking photos for a big charity event, and your hard drive fails or you miss an important shot of the CEO, that would fall under this category. If your business insurance policy includes professional liability, which does not usually occur, that is what would cover you if an error or omission happened.

Get Covered Today

Remember, not every business insurance policy is the same. One may be better for you than another, and you also have to factor in comparing costs and benefits. At ABCO Insurance Agency, Inc., we offer you the chance to compare rates from 25 different insurance companies. That way, you can find which would be best for you. Contact us today to get started.

Moorhead,MN, March 30, 2009--Clay County Sheriff's Dept. and local Search and Rescue volunteers check on residents along the Red River. Andrea Booher/FEMA

A Flood Insurance Primer for New Homeowners

Did you know that basic homeowner’s insurance does not cover floods? Many new homeowners are not aware of this fact. That can cost them.

Floods occur all across the United States—in all 50 states, in fact—and often strike with little or no warning. One moment, you may just have a little water in your basement. The next, your living room could have two feet of water in it. Floods are scary and can be very dangerous, and a decent amount of flood claims happen outside of traditionally known flood zones. This makes it imperative that a new homeowner has quality flood insurance.

There are some basics of flood insurance that every homeowner should be aware of. Read on to learn more about them.

What Flood Insurance Includes—And Doesn’t Include

Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP. NFIP is administered by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency). This kind of supplemental insurance covers up to $250,000 in structural damage, as well as up to $100,000 in content loss. Content, in this case, refers to objects like furniture.

Homeowners should know that the terms “flood” and “water damage” are not interchangeable. A flood is more about damage to the environment surrounding you, as well as your house. Water damage refers more to cracked or burst pipes, and is not covered by flood insurance.

Also, when it comes to the basement—probably the place where most floods begin—it is important to note that only essentials will be covered by flood Insurance. If you have a finished basement that has a high-definition flat-screen TV, that TV will not be covered by flood insurance.

But Do You Really Need It?

The short answer is: yes. Many homeowners with flood insurance only have it because they’re required to purchase it. For example, they may live in flood-prone areas, like near the mouth of a river. However, even if you don’t live near a river or other body of water, you should still consider flood insurance. Many areas that have been hit in the past by hurricanes weren’t necessarily considered high-risk areas in terms of flooding. Many people in those areas still had damage to their homes, though. Unfortunately, not all of them had flood insurance.

Flood Insurance Can Cost Less Than You Think

Even if you don’t live in a flood-prone area, you should still consider getting flood insurance. It can cost less than $1,000 a year to protect your home from flood damage. If you’re ready to insure your home against damaging floods, contact an ABCO agent today to compare rates.

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Protect Your Home While Using a Grill with Homeowner’s Insurance

Summer is the perfect time to open up that grill and start cooking some burgers. But did you know that a grill can actually be considered a hazard to your home? A flame that gets out of control, hot coals or even simple smoke damage can all be reasons to file an insurance claim. Yet if you don’t have a quality homeowner’s insurance policy, you might not be covered, leaving you with lots of expensive bills to pay. This is an obvious cause for concern.

How can you protect yourself if your grill does cause damage? And what can you do to prevent any damage from occurring? Well, read on to learn about some basics of grill safety, along with some tips about homeowner’s insurance.

Grill Safety Basics

The first thing you should be aware of when it comes to your gas or charcoal grill is the structural soundness of the grill. Check your grill for cracks or brittleness. If there are any structural issues, you may need to repair or replace it. If there are blockages, use a pipe cleaner to clean those out. Blockages can cause a dangerous buildup of flammable materials, so you want to check for this regularly.

When you’re actually grilling, keep the grill away from your house or garage. Operate it on a level surface, so everything’s even. Don’t let children or pets near your grill. Also, to protect yourself from burns, use oven mitts that reach high on your forearms. Finally, do not store or put your grill away until it has completely cooled down. If you store it beforehand, it may cause a fire.

If There’s an Issue

If in fact you do encounter an out-of-control fire or too much smoke while grilling, be careful. Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand for any events like these. Don’t automatically throw water on a flaming grill, as that could produce more smoke, causing breathing issues, as well as make the fire worse. And of course, call 911 if there is a true emergency.

How Homeowner’s Insurance Can Help

If you only have minor damage to your home, you may not need to file a claim. It could potentially not be worth it if you have a large deductible. In the case of major damage, homeowner’s insurance usually covers damage to the house and personal possessions, as well as damage to insured properties like an unattached garage and injuries to any guests.

Interested in learning more about how homeowner’s insurance can help you enjoy peace of mind while grilling outdoors? Contact an ABCO agent today.

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What Prevents Homeowners from Being Approved for Insurance?

After shopping around and finding the right insurance, some homeowners are shocked to find they have been denied coverage. It’s not as uncommon as many searching for insurance are lead to believe. There are five common factors that often lead to insurance coverage being denied.

  1. Credit History. While your history of credit isn’t the only factor in being approved for insurance, it is certainly a factor. Insurers will want to see that you are not a liability and can make your payments.
  2. Geographic Location. Depending on how risky where you live has been deemed, you may not be able to get insurance. For instance, due to the wildfires in California, it is much more difficult to get coverage.
  3. Claim History. The more claims you have in your history, the bigger risk you are to insure. Claims can do more than just higher your premium; they can affect whether you can renew or get a new policy. Typically, insurers try to stay clear of those who have filed a claim in the past three years. If you’re close to the three-year mark of your last claim, it could pay to wait the remainder of the time before trying for a new policy.
  4. House Materials. Depending on the materials used when building your home, your roof and siding could be more susceptible to damage from weather elements, UV rays, and even deterioration that begins inside. Keeping everything in working order and performing regular maintenance will help you be approved for coverage.
  5. Pet Breed. Dog owners may have a harder time finding insurance, depending on their dog’s breed. Since dog bites account for one-third of all liability claims, insurance companies tend to steer away from dogs with a history of aggression or a breed that is considered aggressive.

If you are concerned about renewing a homeowner’s policy, don’t do it alone. Contact an ABCO agent today and we will work with your specific needs to find the right insurance company and policy for you. We take all factors into account before applying, taking the stress out of homeowner’s insurance.

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How to Save Money on Teen Car Insurance Rates

Adding a teenage driver to your policy could cost more than many unsuspecting parents realize. In some states, a rate can increase as much as 227% after adding a teen to an existing policy. While the cost will be much larger than adding an adult due to the inexperience of teen drivers, there are some ways to cut down on some of the costs.

Discounts for Teen or First Time Drivers

  • Good Student. For students with a GPA of 3.0 or above, or rank in the top 20 percent of their class, they could save anywhere from 5 to 25% on their insurance, depending on the company.
  • Driving Training Program. There are options in driving school and defensive driving classes that can save your teen between 5 and 15 percent on their insurance rates. Some insurance companies feel the driver’s education courses are part of the licensing process, but most give a good discount for defensive driving.
  • Low Mileage. If your teen only drives to school and back, or only runs errands, they could save big. These discounts start at 10,000 miles, but those that drive 7,000 or 5,000 annually could have huge savings.
  • Special Programs. Some insurance companies have their own programs set up for discounts. If your teen completes one of these programs, they could get a chunk cut out of their policy. These discounts vary highly from company to company.
  • Family Plan. Adding your teen driver to your plan could save on their premium through a family plan.
  • Student Away. If your child will be attending college more than 100 miles away and won’t be taking a car, they can get a significant discount since they won’t be driving. The discount can range between 5 and 35% off.
  • Car Monitors. Pay as you drive programs could be the best bet for a responsible teen driver that doesn’t use the car much. It tracks miles driven, braking, speed, and time of day to give significantly discounted rates.

Getting their first license and car should be an exciting time for a teen. Contact an ABCO agent today to shop around the different insurance companies and find out what discounts can work in your teen’s favor today!

ABCO Insurance - Renters Insurance

Avoid Traps When Renting Your First Apartment

Getting your first apartment can be exciting, but it can also quickly turn into a nightmare of hidden costs and financial pitfalls. For those who have rented before, it becomes far easier to avoid costs and to know what to look for in a new place, but where do you start when it’s your first time?

Understanding the snares that trap first time renters can help avoid costs, extra time and loss of your peace-of-mind.

Read the Lease

While it may seem like a good idea in the moment, it’s not a good idea to simply skim your lease agreement. This is the first and biggest mistake most first time renters make. When talking to a potential landlord, they will often word agreements verbally in a way that seems agreeable, but they are working in service of their own profits most times.

Take a Good Look at the Place

In the excitement of your very own place, you may just skim the area. It is important to look at more than how much space you have. Instead, check for damage and have it indicated on a legal document that the damage occurred before your move-in.

Also, check the security and if the doors and locks work well. It is also important to check water pressure that the bigger appliances work, and that the burners of the stove come on.

Put Everything in Writing

Don’t leave important agreements up to hoping your landlord is a good person.

This is especially important when you own a pet. A lot of first time renters assume if a lease doesn’t say they can’t have a pet, they are fine to move their furry family members in. Having it in writing protects you from having a huge issue down the line and will help clarify the contingencies of your pet agreement, such as how much extra you pay and how many pets are allowed. Other financial agreements should also be clearly written out on a formal document to ensure your agreement holds up.

Buy the Right Renters Insurance

Renter’s insurance can be difficult to figure out, and not all insurance brokers are on your side. If a water pipe breaks, you could lose out on all the new furniture you just spent your savings on. However, be sure to look over every word of the insurance agreement. Be sure to understand what type of insurance you have and under what circumstances, and not just how much value for which you are covered under the policy.

If the ink is still wet on your first apartment’s lease, contact your ABCO agent to make sure you have the renters insurance you need to protect yourself and your assets. Contact us today!