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You can’t stand still. You need new ideas to grow your business. But if you make a mistake, it could spell big trouble.
You know about risk management. That’s why you look to us for your insurance protection. But what’s the secret to testing new products or ways of doing things without rocking the company boat?
You could start by checking out these ideas from Entrepreneur magazine.
-Small and simple. Create the bare minimum of product or service that will allow you to test it and get feedback from customers.
-Define, test, repeat. You probably won’t get it right first time so modify it as you get feedback.
-Outside feedback. Don’t rely on people who support you like colleagues and friends to give honest feedback. Ask customers and other outsiders.
-Who’s buying: Make sure you know your customer profiles and what product or service you’ll be replacing.
Check out this brief video interview with entrepreneur Adam Callinan at https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234878
The magazine also has a useful list of 10 questions you should ask to evaluate your business idea at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225514
And if you’d like to talk more about risk management in your business, remember you can always give me a call. 888-451-8818 OR visit us online at www.harboria.com
Guarding Against Rowdy Renters using Airbnb
Everybody’s doing it: Renting out empty space in their homes, or even entire properties, via the online service Airbnb. It’s a great concept both from the host’s and the renters point of view –provided everyone plays by the rules.
Sadly, that’s not always the case and the news media frequently report on homes that have been trashed, leaving owners not only to pick up the mess but also the bills for costly repairs and replacements.
According to attorney and law author Stephen Fishman, the best way for hosts to limit the risks of trouble is to screen their renters over the phone. You should ask them the purpose of their trip, whether they’ve used Airbnb before (and if so, if they can provide references), exactly how many people will be staying, whether they smoke and whether they’re bringing pets. If any answers don’t suit you, you can turn them down.
In fact, establishing good lines of communication with your renter and, if possible, looking in on them, is the best way to ensure they treat your home respectfully. But you can also check your renters out online, on social media sites like Facebook, and you should certainly make them sign a written rental agreement, as well as providing a security deposit.
Entrepreneur Laiza King, writing for the online news site Huffington Post, also suggests these 5 tips for protecting yourself:
1. If you’re not going to be around, and the property is your main home, secure your mail, either via a locking mailbox or using a PO Box for redirected mail.
2. Lock your valuables away and make sure the contents of your home are properly insured. “Though Airbnb has an insurance system that covers certain types of damage, they don’t protect debit or credit cards, checks or financial papers, jewelry, etc,” she says. (Speak to us if you’d like to discuss contents insurance for your rental property)
3. If you offer Wi-Fi, protect the details of your system. You can set up a guest-only network. And by connecting via a Virtual Private Network (VPN), their Internet activities won’t be traceable to your home. (Google “VPN” to learn more about how to do this.)
4. In addition to checking out the renter’s profile, create an emergency plan for them, explaining safety issues in the home, locating features like fire extinguishers, and providing a list of emergency numbers.
5. Install a security system. “With a security system, you can monitor what goes on in your home,” she says. “In addition, outfitting your home with a home security system may earn you more bookings as it provides your guests with an extra layer of security which may not be available in other rentals they are also considering.”
Of course, there are also risks with being an Airbnb renter. See the firm’s safety guidance on this here: http://tinyurl.com/airbnb-renter
Also, please contact our office directly to speak with your agent regarding any and all rental activity you have or may be considering. Each insurance policy may respond differently (i.e., minimal coverage may exist or no coverage at all applies) and you want to ensure that your policy has the proper coverage for any and all rental exposures.
Request more information here – harboria.com
Be and Stay a Healthy As You Cruise
More than 12 million people set off on a cruise from North American ports every year. Most of them return refreshed and with happy memories. But a small proportion don’t feel so good. They fall victim to an onboard infection that sweeps through the ship.
The most common cruise illness is Norovirus. It’s mainly a vomiting bug without long term effects. But that’s not much consolation if you’re cruising for just a week or two. It’s highly infectious, which means that once someone gets it, it roars through the “captive” environment of a cruise ship.
That said, there are several things you can do to limit the risk of becoming infected while cruising. The most important tactic is as simple as regular hand washing — because the virus spreads through physical contact, not just with other people but with virtually anything you can touch.
In fact, if you can avoid touching railings, bathroom door handles and elevator buttons, so much the better. Avoiding buffet areas, where people handle the same utensils and even breathe over the food can also help if there’s actually an outbreak onboard. And keep hand sanitizer with you or in your stateroom.
You should also drink plenty of water, but this should preferably be bottled, especially if the virus is already onboard. And when you visit ports, you should also take water from your cruise ship with you.
It’s worth noting by the way, that Norovirus is not just a cruise sickness and the above rules might help you if the illness is active locally.
Cruising also increases the risk of over exposure to the sun, so always take and use sunscreen. Warning: It may be expensive on board so buy it before you go.
The other big danger is the risk of overeating. They don’t call those midnight feasts “Death By Chocolate” without reason! Try to pace your eating across the day — and get plenty of exercise to work off those calories.
One final bit of advice: Don’t forget to take out travel insurance before your trip. Although cruise lines sometimes compensate passengers for viral infections or other hazards that disrupt vacations, it’s by no means guaranteed. With good insurance, at least you can be protected if illness wrecks your vacation. Talk to us if you’d like to know more – call, click or email. harboria.com
Some people just don’t get it. They’d rather fight than talk. They’d rather ignore than listen. Workplace disruptions happen; are you prepared?
Have you ever wrestled with this problem in the workplace — the guy or gal who always seems to be in the middle of trouble? What’s the best way to deal with it?
According to mediation specialists, the most important things to do include:
- Staying calm whether you’re involved or have to intervene — and try to calm others down.
- Invite those involved to speak in turn and make a real effort to listen so you can understand what the disagreement is about. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute.
- Look for positives to focus on, or at least things everyone agrees on.
- Focus on the problem not the individual, and on the future, not the past.
Avoid pointing the finger of blame.
These ideas came from a great article on a website that bills itself as the world’s leading mediation site. Here it is: http://tinyurl.com/mediate101
Sadly, sometimes angry employees take revenge on their employer or cause workplace disruptions to fellow employees. This is a real risk but it’s one you can insure against. Give us a call at Harbor Insurance if you’d like to learn more.
Time to say goodbye…Don’t worry. I’m not leaving! But someone at your place of business may be — sooner or later. You may ask, key employees leaving and insurance, what does that have to do with each other?
When that happens, the first thing you think about is replacing them. But it’s just as important to know how to say “goodbye” properly — especially if they’re highly valued employees.
When this happens, make sure you do the following:
- Find out and understand why they’re leaving. There could be valuable information that could help in the future.
- Find out more about the new job. They could become a useful route into a new business opportunity.
- Keep in touch with them. If they’re good, you may be able to tempt them back.
Wish them well. They’ll remember that and it could do wonders for the reputation of your business.
By the way, did you know you can insure against losing key people in your business? That could make all the difference to your short-term profitability. If this is something you’d like to know more about, please get in touch with us here at Harbor Insurance.
In the meanwhile, let’s just bid farewell together to 2017 and look forward to a good,
prosperous New Year — and continuing to work together for your business!
How much is tech time costing your business?
I’m talking about employees using their smart phones on your dollar and distracting others in the process. Or using their PC for personal purposes. You could be losing two or three hours per day per employee when it comes to tech time usage.
That’s what researchers at job site CareerBuilder say. And they got their information by talking to employees themselves. See for yourself at http://tinyurl.com/TechTime2017
What can you do about tech time costing your business as the employer or manager? Here are a few things CareerBuilder says many employers have already done:
- Ban personal calls or entire cell phone use
- Block Internet access or specific sites
- Monitor emails and Internet usage
- Limit the use of speakerphones
- Increase the height of cubicle walls — or remove cubicles altogether
Sometimes running a business is a battle and you need as much help as you can get. I hope you find these few tips useful. And remember Harbor Insurance is always here to talk about and help with your insurance needs for your business, property and even personal needs.
Whether you have a 2 person embroidery shop, 120 person office, upscale restaurant or even a mobile food service; Harbor Insurance can provides coverage plans and review your needs now and for the future with insurance that is tailored to you and your business.
Just give us a call or visit us online at www.harboria.com for more information.
A home insurance checkup should be on your radar at least once a year, if not more. Have you made changes to your home that may affect your home insurance needs? Do you know what all those bold lines on your policy coverage section actually cover and when they need to be updated?
At Harbor Insurance, we have licensed insurance agents ready to answer questions and provide suggestions on coverage you may or may not have considered. A home insurance checkup is just part of our many valuable services that we provide to our new and renewing clients on a frequent basis.
When your home insurance policy accurately reflects the property it is insuring and meant to protect, the home insurance policy is most effective. In order to maintain proper insurance coverage it is imperative to review your coverage on a regular basis with your insurance agent as well as advise your agent when any changes and upgrades are made or when plans to change something are in discussion.
It is important to alert your insurance agent of these and other changes when it comes to properly insuring your property:
Change the occupancy of your home.
Renting your home or leaving your home vacant violates the standard homeowner insurance policy occupancy ratings. Details of any change in occupancy should be reviewed with your insurance agent in order to ensure proper insurance coverage.
Start a home business
Business equipment, business liability and lost income are intricate parts of a business owner policy. Typically your homeowner policy does not provide adequate coverage and in some cases business exposures are simply not covered at all. Speak with an agent to discuss the best way to insure your new business.
Get a high-risk pet
Certain kinds of pets and even specific breeds are considered high risk animals and are not covered under the standard homeowner policy. Most people think they only have to consider certain dog breeds but this also may include farm animals, reptiles and other exotic pets too. An insurance agent can advise you on coverage for these types of animals and situations.
Add a structure to your property, build an addition or remodel your home
Building a new garage, detached in-law suite, porch or even a shed will increase the value of your home. Replacing your roof, updating your kitchen, bathrooms or flooring will increase your homes values which in turn may increases your homeowner insurance value. Speak with your insurance agent about any upgrades, remodeling or additions to ensure your are property covered before the project and once it is complete.
Jewelry, fine arts, antiques, collectibles and other high cost items may not be fully insured on your typical homeowner insurance policy. In most cases, these types of items require special coverage and possibly a separate policy in order to insure them to value properly.
When is the last time you have had an insurance checkup ? Speak with a Harbor Insurance agent in our office today. Call (888) 451-8818 or visit harboria.com .
Have you ever done something in your business activity and then thought, “That was dumb!”? You kick yourself and vow not to do it again. Don’t do dumb!
Well, it turns out we’re doing dumb things more often than we realize. And it’s holding us back. Things like:
- Avoiding controversy in your business because you don’t want to rock the boat, when you should really go in and tackle it.
- Poor use of time and failing to prioritize key tasks. Always get the important stuff done first, even when it’s the toughest job.
- Reluctance to change, when your competitors are ready to get ahead of you. Just because “it ain’t broke” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fix it!
- Organizational silos — you know, those people who stick to doing their own jobs without concern for how they affect others. We need to build good communication between each other.
I came across these tips, and quite a few more in a book by business guru Neil Smith called “How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things”. It makes you think about how we often fail to spot things that are blocking business growth.
The solution, says Smith, is to do a thorough review of your business, focusing on how to simplify things, cut costs and generate new ideas.
Even your insurance coverage should come under the spotlight. How have the risks you face in your business changed in recent years? Are you fully protected against them? Why not give Harbor Insurance a call and arrange for a brief chat to ensure all is as it should be?
Insuring Yourself For The Risks Of Living Longer…People today are living much longer than their ancestors. That’s great news. But, as we’re already seeing, greater longevity also increases the risk that more of us will fall victim to serious illnesses later in life — despite the significant advances being made in diagnosis and treatment.
It’s not something most of us want to think about. But those that do are recognizing the advantage of good insurance coverage to protect them from the financial burden that a prolonged illness can cause. Insure yourself now for the risks of living longer later.
Critical illness insurance is one of the effective tactics for protecting yourself against the risks associated with a longer life.
It usually pays out a lump sum or provides a regular income for victims of a number of specific illnesses — cancer, heart attack or a stroke for example — that otherwise might have a major impact on a family’s finances.
These policies usually pay out even if the policyholder makes a full recovery.
In fact, a key strength of critical illness insurance is that by easing financial burdens, it allows policy holders and their families to focus on what’s truly important — the potential for recovery. Contact us if you’d like to know more by clicking here.
Don’t Let Your PC Be Taken Hostage by Cyber Crimes! You’re happily working away on your computer, making good progress. Then you click on a link or email attachment and the screen freezes. A message flashes up, saying the PC has been locked and your data is no longer accessible until you pay a ransom.
Computer infection with “ransomware”, as it’s called, is one of the fastest-growing cyber-crimes of recent years, affecting not only home users but also businesses and other organizations, large and small. Cyber security experts say 2017 is heading to be the worst-ever year for the crime, which often leaves victims with seemingly little option but to pay up. Thousands of new infections are being reported every day. And even when victims pay (usually the ransom is between $50 and $200), there’s no guarantee the crooks will provide the unlocking code. And even if they do, they may also steal confidential information from PCs that can then be used for identity theft.
However, there’s a lot you can do to avoid falling victim to cyber crimes. And, even if you do get caught-out, there are often ways of getting your computer back in business without paying the ransom.
Here’s what to do:
- Make sure you have reputable security software installed on your computer and update it regularly (ideally, automatically). This will often stop ransomware infections from getting onto your PC in the first place.
- Keep all your other software apps and programs up to date. This especially applies to your Internet browser. Criminals are quick to identify weaknesses in any program but producers are usually just as quick to respond with more secure versions. If you don’t update, your software could be open to attack.
- Be wary about clicking links and attachments in emails from people or organizations you don’t know. Use the same caution on links inside unfamiliar websites.
- Make full and regular backups of both your computer operating system and your documents and other data. That way, if your machine is frozen and locked, you can reinstate your back-ups, losing little or none of your valuable data.
What if you get caught and don’t have a back-up? First, don’t panic. Shutdown your computer, disconnect it from the Internet and then restart it. In some cases, that might be enough.
If it’s still frozen, consider getting outside, professional help. There are a number of fixes for some of the ransomware currently circulating and calling in an expert might get you back in business.
If all else fails, you may have to consider paying up. That depends on how valuable your data is. But don’t use a payment method that involves an account number the crooks could hijack and use again.
Once you’re in the clear, use security software — or an expert — to thoroughly clean or reset your computer.
Do you have a business and fear the possibility of Cyber Crimes against your business? Harbor Insurance can quote and insure you with Cyber Crime Liability coverage as part of your Business Insurance Package. Contact us at Harbor Insurance today for more information. Visit us at I’m interested to find out more on Cyber Liability Insurance .