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Thursday, July 26 2018

Summertime Fun Time…family trips, camping, weekend excursions, long drives up the coast.  What does this add up to in MY mind?  Driving Risks of course! 

Now many of us know that California Law requires all drivers to have Liability Auto Insurance, whether or not you own a vehicle.  But the fact is, many of us do not follow rules.

Liability insurance is coverage for other people & vehicles, should you be the cause of the accident.

Liability coverage does NOT cover YOU or YOUR VEHICLE (that is covered through your Comprehensive & Collision Coverage). With that said, the state minimum for the Liability coverage is $15,000 for bodily injury per person, $30,000 for a total bodily injury (per accident), and $5,000 for property damage (to another vehicle or someone else’s property).  

This is what is known as the 15/30/5 split limit minimum. Crazy LOW Limits!

The state recognizes that the liability minimums are extremely low.  People choosing these minimums likely have very little cash or assets, are uninformed about coverage, or just don’t care.  Also, California is the leading state with the most uninsured motorists on the road.

This is where uninsured motorist coverage comes into play. Uninsured Motorist is an optional coverage that California insurers must offer.  You must sign a waiver to decline this coverage.  Do Not Decline this Coverage!    

Uninsured motorist coverage not only covers UNINSURED motorists….it also covers UNDER-INSURED motorists!   

So, if you are hit by someone that has no insurance OR has very little insurance, your Uninsured Motorist Coverage will kick in to either pay full damages or pay the difference in damages.  Now you can choose to have uninsured coverage just cover Bodily Injury (to you and your passengers) or both Bodily Injury and Property Damage (your vehicle and your property).  That will depend on your coverage choices.  I recommend having both.

I always encourage my clients to have a minimum of $300,000 in Limits for their Liability and an equal amount in Uninsured Motorist coverage.  Why would you cover others more than you would cover yourself? 

A big question I get asked a lot is – “Well, I have health insurance, why would I need to have a high uninsured motorist coverage?”.  My answer – “You may have the best plan on the market – but do all your passengers have great health insurance?   Are you OK with paying your health insurance deductible?  What about your vehicle or property?  That would not be covered on your health plan.”   

Yes, you will pay a bit more to have Uninsured Motorist Coverage.  Is it worth it?  100% Absolutely.

If anyone has questions, or needs clarification, please reach out to me.

Enjoy the summertime rides! 

Posted by: Hadley AT 11:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 01 2017

Remember back when you were a child? Looking up to grown-ups, dressing in their clothes and dreaming about being older?  Wishing time would go faster so you could play on the ‘big’ team or wear makeup or have more freedom. Most of us ‘grown-ups’ now wish we could go back and just enjoy the childhood moments for a little longer.

We are conditioned from an early age that bigger is better. That ‘more’ is better than less. What if this was wrong? Maybe more is not always better.

Many business owners have the same dream as our childhood selves – to be bigger and more grown up. What many fail to realize is that bigger companies come at a high cost. Growing pains are real.

  • Larger Companies often have Partners, Shareholders & Financiers. These can diminish your role in the company, limit your actions, flexibility, creative decisions and financial benefits. And splitting the profits across more people does not equate to more money in your pocket.
  • Larger Companies have more Employees. More Employees means higher accountability, payroll, workers compensation, additional training, human resources issues and generally more headaches.
  • Larger Companies have more Clients. That may sound great but more Clients means more work to maintain the Clients, more risk exposure to claims, more deliverables, more vendors, more service issues and more chances some people will not be happy with your product or service.
  • Larger Companies have Larger Gross Revenues.  That might sound good, but it does not mean that they have larger net profits. Studies have shown that the ratio of gross revenue to net profit remains about the same between small to mid sized companies.  The bigger you are, the more you spend to stay big.

Growing your company along a reasonable and steady path can be a good plan. Just know that it may not be all that you think it will be. It may not mean more time off or more money or more happiness.

In fact, it may mean more work for the same or even less money and a lot more stress. Kind of like being a grown up.

If you find yourself contemplating your growth, call me.   I am happy to listen and help you evaluate the pros and cons.

In the meantime, take a lesson from your childhood and enjoy the stage you are at.

Now -  I am off to play hide and seek!

Posted by: Hadley AT 04:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 13 2017

Insurance can be confusing. Even the most seasoned insurance professionals have to work hard to stay informed and ‘in-the-know’. So it’s no wonder that so many Contractors and Business Owners are confused about what they are and are not covered for, under a General Liability policy.

Here are the Top 5 Misconceptions I come across often:

  1. General Liability DOES NOT cover your stuff or your people. General Liability comes into play when someone else is injured (either physically or their stuff is harmed). You purchase the liability insurance to protect you, should a third-party file a claim against you – for injury that you or your work, may have caused.   Coverage for YOUR stuff falls under other forms of insurance such as a BOP, Inland Marine or Workers Comp (injury to your employees).
  2. General Liability DOES NOT cover faulty workmanship.  This is a big one. Many people think it does. No, liability covers any subsequent damage your work may have caused. So, if you’re a plumber and a pipe you put in bursts, the pipe work is not covered – only the water damage that is caused, is covered.  If you want this to be covered, you will need to have Contractors E&O insurance.
  3. It is impossible to guarantee that your insurance will pay a claim made against you. Insurance carriers have a duty to defend and pay out - only insofar as the policy form actually covers the damages.  Anyone can file a claim against you for any reason. If the claim is outside of what the policy covers, the carrier will not accept it.  Therefore, you should always have an outside council you can call on to represent you – just in case.
  4. A Bond is not a replacement for General Liability.  I have had a number of Contractors tell me that they do not need insurance because they have a Bond in place.  These are 2 completely separate products and have no cross-over coverage.  A Surety Bond is a form of guarantee that you will perform to a certain standard.  I like to think of it as a Bond company is hedging your integrity. They back you for a certain amount of money and charge you a fee.
  5. Additionally Insured certificates need to have both an Endorsement AND a Contract in place to be legally valid. Listing other companies to your Liability policy (or vice-versa) by AI Endorsement will only be legally binding if a physical Contract is in place between you both.  There may be some exceptions to this rule but error on the safe side and make sure you have a Contract in place. There have been many court rulings on this recently and sadly, many companies have been on the losing side.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Make sure you ask the right questions to your Broker/Agent and read through your Insurance policy. I know it is not fun reading but it is hugely important. 

I am available if you want to learn more or have any questions.

Hadley Wood

President/CEO

Posted by: Hadley AT 08:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, December 12 2016

Tis the Season…

December 1 to January 1 is a crazy time of the year for most of us.  There are parties with collegues, family gatherings, end of the year celebrations and the hustle bustle of the season.  It is an emotional rollercoaster and for many people - it is the toughest time of the year.  To make matters worse, it is also the most hazzardous month of the year! 

Key Seasonal Hazzards include:

               Fires from dry Christmas trees and candles

               Slip and Fall from Ice, Rain and Snow

               Theft – Identity Theft, Car Theft and Home Robberies

               Faulty Toy Products and Pet Products

               Food Poisoning

Here are a few tips to make the most of the season and get to January with your sanity intact:

  1. Always carve out personal down time for yourself.  This month is emotionally stressful and having a plan to zone out, meditate, do yoga, take a long walk will help keep you balanced. 
  2. Plan ahead and be prepared.  Have a December Calander schedule with all the events and parties scheduled out. Have your outfits planned, reservations made in advance, potluck contributions planned out and hostess gifts wrapped.
  3. Shop online!   Why battle the crowds?   Online shopping has so many advantages. Free shipping on many sites and tons more options. Check websites for the HTTPS and the locked icon for payment protection.  Also pay with a credit card that has protection!
  4. If you are hosting a party, ask a few key friends to come early and help.  Also make sure you have adequate limits on your homeowners/renters policy in case someone gets hurt on your property.  If you have your party elsewhere, make sure to have Event Insurance!
  5. Instead of traditional candles, use the flameless candles for anything that is near the tree or fabric.  Make sure you check the house before heading to bed for any lit candles.
  6. If you are in an area that snows, make sure to have rock ice handy for the walkways!
  7. When buying toys or pet products, it is a good idea to get Made in the USA.  If it is not, check the label and warranty closely.
  8. If you have to drive, leave early and plan for delays.  Accidents do happen but minimize this risk by not speeding to your destination.
  9. Don’t let anyone leave a party drunk (including yourself).  With Uber and Lyft, there are no excuses to risk it.  
  10. Use a little time before the New Year to refect on the ups and downs of the year.  What went well?  What did not?   Think about how you could make 2017 an even better year!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday season, a Merry Christmas and a festive New Years! Cheers to 2017!

Posted by: Hadley Wood AT 02:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 04 2016

We all know there are tons of similar companies out there.  What sets one apart from all the others is their Competitive Advantage.

Every business needs to apply competitive advantage strategies in order to remain relevant, progressive and at the top of their game.  Before even evaluating your businesses competitive advantage, you must first understand these three components:

KNOW YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE INSIDE AND OUT

You must know everything about what you sell, where your company is headed, it’s flaws and perks. 

KNOW YOUR TARGET MARKET

If your target market is ‘anyone and everyone’ you do not have a target market yet.

KNOW YOUR COMPETITION

Research them, look at their clients, what are their weakness and strengths?

Once you have a firm grip on the above you can structure your Competitive Advantage and brand your company with it to set you apart from the rest of the competition.

Each business will have to create their own specific advantages but there are some that can translate across all businesses:

Value Added Benefits:    Maybe you can offer your clients an additional benefit for working with you such as a free download of specific industry information; cost savings to other affiliated businesses; referral incentives; client loyalty programs, and more.

A Narrow Niche:  It may seem counterintuitive to limit your market but if you can laser focus the scope of your target market you will be connecting more with your actual customers…saving you time and money.  You don’t want window shoppers, you want actual buyers.  Create your marketing around them.

A Streamlined Process:  If your process is faster & easier for your clients than your competition, then your business will attract more clients. Maybe clients can order online, or easier return of items. Investigate the competition and improve on it!

Excellent Customer Service:  One of the most frustrating parts of doing business is the lack of great customer service.  Have a trained, live person to talk with your clients and a procedure in place for your employees, to make sure the client is always happy. Client retention is a huge asset.  

Cutting Edge Technology:  If you can’t scan documents, accept all types of payments, have an up-to-date tracking system, use all the key Social Media for marketing - among many other things, you will not be in business long.  Your competition will fly right past you. Invest in the technology and retain a great I.T. person to help you manage it and stay on top of new innovation.

Proper Risk Management:  If you have high employee turnover, compliance issues, holes in your business insurance, unreliable vendors or subcontractors, minimal capitalization, etc. you will be at a disadvantage against your competition. Assess your risk management techniques and evaluate ways to improve them.

So what makes you and your business special?   Figure that out and you have your Competitive Advantage!

Posted by: Hadley AT 02:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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“When I first approached Hadley to get business insurance I was, honestly, a little scared. She helped make me feel better about it and helped me understand what I needed and why I needed it. My favorite part was when she told me what I didn't need. This told me that she really IS looking out for my best interest and that it was about her integrity and not about her making money. Although she wants to make money, it wasn't going to be at my expense due to my lack of knowledge and my ignorance about business insurance products. I trust her with all of my insurance needs.”
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“I am so happy that I was introduced to Hadley regarding insurance for my technology business. She is so knowledgeable, listened intently to my needs, and provided such a fitting product that was loads better protection vs. what I was receiving from a different insurance provider. Thank you Hadley for giving me the peace of mind that my business is as well protected as possible!”
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“I have been working with H. Linwood for over 6 years now and they have continuously saved my company thousands of dollars in insurance premiums. I was able to take that savings and increase my marketing and now my company is doing better than ever.  I am so thankful that you are on my ‘team’ of support.” 
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“I was referred to H. Linwood a few years ago when I started my business.  They helped me understand what my company needed to protect itself and explained the process to me.  They made the whole experience painless, easy and affordable.  I now refer them to all of my business associates and they have thanked me!” 
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