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CONTRACT SURETY BONDS

CONTRACT SURETY BONDS

A contract bond is a type of surety bond that helps guarantee that the terms of a contract are met.  If a contractor does not adhere to the terms of the contract than the injured party can collect any financial losses incurred from the bonding company.  It is an additional safeguard to ensure the principal performs all items in a written contract.
A contract bond is often times synonymous with the following terms:
  • Contractor Bond
  • Construction Bond
  • Bid Performance Bond
  • Bid Bond
  • Proposal Bond
  • Payment Bonds
The two common types of contract bonds are bid bonds and performance or payment bonds.
Bid Bonds specifically protect the obligee from the Principal either backing off of the stated bid that has been accepted or submitting a low-ball bid and then not honoring the agreed upon price.  Bid bonds are typically issued between 5-10% of the overall bid.
Performance Bonds will protect the obligee in areas of the contract like completing a job when agreed upon and under the agreed upon items.  It guarantees that the contractor will perform the contract and pay for the labor and materials needed to complete the project.  Payment bonds are typically issued at 100% of the contract amount.
A surety bond is an agreement that involves three of the following parties:
  1. The Principal– The party purchasing the bond that is being required to fulfill the terms of the agreement.
  2. The Obligee– The party that is usually requiring the bond and is reimbursed for financial losses due to the principal’s failure to fulfill the duties of the contract.
  3. The Surety– The party that is responsible for paying out the financial losses of the obligee due to the prinicipal’s failure to fulfill the duties of the contract. 
Contract bonds are usually only required on larger projects by large builders or subcontractors.  It is a way to easily recover from financial burdens without having to enter into costly lawsuits against the contractor.  Typically any public project over $100,000 will require a a contract bond.
A list of common business types that will be required to have these bonds are:
  • Concrete construction
  • Electricians
  • General contractors
  • HVAC contractors
  • Painters
  • Roofers
  • Plumbers
Due to the nature of these bonds and high possible payouts, most companies will run a credit score on the principal before agreeing to issue a bond.  In addition to this, some companies may require the following other items to consider a risk.
  • Financial statements for the business
  • Personal financial statement for the owner
  • Resume of owner
  • Certificates of insurance on other commercial policies the principal may have
  • Questionnaire
  • Bank letter of reference
  • Job reference letters
  • Schedule of current projects on hand
Our agency writes through various bonding companies, as we do insurance companies.  Preferred risks will see the best pricing in the industry with a couple of our carriers, but we also have other markets that may not be considered by the preferred companies for one reason or another.  Please call us at 704-494-9495 for any questions you may have on this surety bond type or to get a quote today.
NC CYBER INSURANCE

NC CYBER INSURANCE

Cyber liability insurance is one of the fastest growing insurance policies that NC small businesses are looking to protect themselves with.  Because it is such a new policy type, there are several questions on what it is and what it covers.  We will discuss exactly those things in this article so that you can make an educated decision if this policy is right for your North Carolina small business.

 

Everyone knows how much cyber is a growing concern, but it might surprise some businesses just how common it is.  It is far from being a concern for only large corporations too.  In fact 60% of cyber crimes are against small businesses.  60% of those businesses that are victims of these attacks go out of business within 6 months of the attack.  The costs are staggering when they do occur and those without cyber insurance are left with 100% of those costs.
Are you exposed to the possibility of this happening to your business?
If your company has/does have any of the following, then the answer is a resounding yes. 
  • Company Website
  • Social Media Accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In)
  • Accept Credit Cards
  • Uses Online Banking
  • Store Customer Data (Name, Address, Date of Birth, License Numbers, Credit Card Info, Social Security Numbers)
If you realize that you could be at risk, but are still confused on what types of things could happen to you, then you are not alone.  It can be very complicated.  We will discuss and clear up some of those common claim types below and explain the ways that a cyber policy will help cover those things.
SOCIAL ENGINEERING
Social engineering is a predatory type of cyber crime where an employee is tricked into sending or uploading money to someone through false pretenses.
Cyber insurance will cover those lost funds from these types of schemes.
RANSOMWARE
This is a virus sent as a link in an e-mail.  Once an employee clicks the link, the virus immediately begins to to encrypt computer files.  The imposter will then demand funds in order to recover the company’s files.  Typically bit coins will be demanded.
The cyber liability policy will cover the cost of the ransom in order to have your files recovered.
DATA BREACH
This type of attack gains the most media attention.  Large organizations like Sony, Target, and Equifax have recently been in the news for being hacked.  These losses occur when a cyber criminal breaches a company network and gains access to customer data.
Cyber policies will typically cover the following:
1. Fines by regulatory commissions and other penalties
2. Legal fees toward lawsuits from customers
3. Security expert assessments
4. Public relations firm services
5. Customer notification costs for those effected by the breach
MEDIA LIABILITY
Covers defamation or slander by an employee about a customer on social medial accounts causing a lawsuit.
Cyber insurance will cover defense in a lawsuit against your company.
FUNDS TRANSFER FRAUD
Hackers gain access to your system and transfer company funds to their account.
Your cyber policy will cover any losses incurred, not covered by your bank for fraudulent transfers.
NETWORK SECURITY
Your company site gets hacked making your system inoperable and not allowing customers access to their information.
Cyber insurance will cover lawsuits by customers for not being able to access their account.
One final myth we would like to dispel regarding cyber liability insurance, and that is that the premiums are too expensive for a small business. We write through some of the leading insurance companies in the industry, with the most competitive premiums.  Premiums start as low as $800 per year depending on the business type, size, and exposure.
Please call us at 704-494-9495 with any questions, or if you would like a quote on this valuable insurance policy today.
Truck Insurance Near Me

Truck Insurance Near Me

If you are looking for truck insurance for your business vehicle from a local insurance agency near you that can help you find the best rates and coverage, than read on to see if we can help.  Dealing with a local agency that you can sit face to face, if you so choose, can be very helpful when you are dealing the complications of commercial auto insurance.  Commercial trucks can include any of the following types of businesses:

  • Dump Truck Insurance
  • General Freight Hauler Insurance
  • Auto Hauler Insurance
  • Contractor Insurance
  • Public Transportation Insurance
  • Tow Truck Insurance
  • Non-Emergency Medical Insurance

If you own a business similar to one of the ones listed above, then you will likely have either a Federal or State of NC requirement to be able to acquire and keep a commercial tag.  Even if you don’t have those requirements, then you may have requirements from a contract that requires the same or higher limits as those required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or the state of NC.

What Types of Coverage Do you Need?

This question will vary depending on your business type, the requirements of the State of NC and Federal Government.

  • Liability Limits: You will have some limit of liability required, depending on several factors.  These limits can range from $30,000/60,000/25,000 up to $5,000,000 combined single limits.  The amount of coverage required can depend on your vehicle, radius, what you are hauling, gross vehicle weight, and if you are crossing state lines to name a few.
  • Cargo Liability: This covers the commodity that you are hauling and can vary a great degree depending on the contract requirements and the Federal or State of NC requirements.
  • Physical Damage: This covers the value of the vehicle you are driving, and the coverage required will depend either on your comfort with losing the value of your vehicle in the event of a loss or the bank requirements of the bank you are financing the vehicle through.
  • On Hook:  This covers the vehicle you are hauling in towing insurance risks.  The value of the coverage chosen should be minimally, the highest value of the vehicle you would ever tow.
  • General Liabilty: This covers your negligence outside of hitting someone with your vehicle or damage to the items you are hauling.
  • Umbrella: An umbrella or excess liability policy will cover above and beyond where your underlying policy limits leave off.  You want this policy in place to protect yourself further or to satisfy a contract..
  • Workers Compensation:  This covers your legal liability for your employees or subcontractors and may even be required by a contract even if you don’t have employees.
Commercial truck insurance takes on a whole new level of responsibility than your personal auto insurance.  You may want to consider consulting an agent that is near you, to help you with local State of NC laws and help you determine what coverage will best suit you for these requirements.  Outside of government responsibilities, you will likely encounter contract requirements that a veteran agent and agency can help you navigate.  You will also want an independent agency that can help you get quotes from multiple carriers.  Please contact us at 704-494-9495 if you have any questions or would like a shopped quote from the top insurance companies in your industry.

SHORT TERM RENTAL INSURANCE

We will discuss insurance policies for short term rentals or seasonal homes.  This can commonly be referred to as Airbnb insurance, VRBO insurance, or vacation rental insurance.

Short term rental homes are not a new phenomenon, but there has been a large increase in these as of late. This is due largely to the advent of companies like Airbnb, (Airbnb.com) and VRBO (vrbo.com). These companies make the job of leasing your home out a breeze. A lot of people don’t want to turn down the opportunity to make the extra income on their seasonal or secondary homes. If you own a home that you use as a seasonal or vacation home and also rent out, then you should make sure that your insurance policy covers you accordingly.

A lot of people don’t understand that you need to have a specific policy in place to make sure short term rental properties are covered. You need to notify your home insurance company if you move out of your home and lease it to a tenant or have it unoccupied or coverage can be denied. You also need to notify your insurance company of any changes in usage of your secondary home as well.

Most home insurance policies will exclude coverage for business pursuits on your home. This makes your standard home insurance policy inadequate for covering such losses on short term rental properties. Further, if you have a commercial policy in force, but you also use your home as secondary residence for yourself, a commercial policy won’t be sufficient coverage either. This is why you need a specialized policy that acts as sort of a personal and commercial policy hybrid.

Quite frankly, most insurance companies have yet to offer coverage for such a risk. That is just one of the reasons that a large percentage of people do not have proper insurance on their short term rental properties. Another reason is consumer education. Don’t fret though. We have multiple markets that will take on this risk and we are able to close the knowledge gap on this topic.

There are many properties that can constitute a short-term rental policy. Some of the more common types are listed below.

Common Seasonal Homes and Short Term Rental Types

  1. Beach house or condo
  2. Lake house
  3. Mountain house or cabin
  4. City condo
  5. Golf course house or condo

What coverage types should you focus on when getting a policy? There are several endorsements that should be considered. The 4 most important types coverages for short term rentals are the following:

  1. Dwelling
  2. Contents
  3. Liability
  4. Business Income

DWELLING

The dwelling is the structure you want to cover. For your home or condo to be covered it is important to make known the use of the building. Like your primary home insurance, this will cover things like fire, water losses, falling objects, lightening, wind, etc. If you use it as a vacation home and a temporary rental, this should be disclosed to your agent. Insurance companies may deny coverage even on these losses if they discover you are renting your house out, even on a short-term basis.

In many cases you can also cover detatched structures such as sheds, barns, guest houses, and garages. You want to make sure to tell your agent about these to make sure they are listed on your policy. Some policies will cover up to 10% of the primary dwelling amount. Some, but not all. You may also find that these detached structures need to be covered for more than this amount.

CONTENTS OR PERSONAL PROPERTY

These items include clothing, appliances, furniture, lawn care items, etc. It is highly recommended that you add a replacement cost endorsement to your policy so these items can be replaced instead of just receiving the depreciated actual value of them today if there is a claim. That way if you had a fire loss, you could truly replace everything with like items that are brand new.

LIABILITY

This might be the most important coverage type. If you are leasing out your home and you are sued for negligence of any kind, your liability coverage will protect you. Keep in mind you don’t even have to be at fault to get sued. Lengthy court battles can get expensive and your liability will cover these expenses. They will also cover settlements if the courts rule in favor of the plaintiff.

Do yourself a favor and choose the highest liability limit the company will offer. The cost differential is not that much and the reward for having the higher limits can be huge. Many companies will offer a limit up to $1,000,000 for liability.

BUSINESS INCOME

Sometimes referred to as loss of use coverage, business income covers expenses you would incur by not being able to rent a property due to a covered loss. For example, if you had a fire and the home had to be renovated or replaced, your business income coverage would pay for loss of rental income during this time of reconstruction. This is not always standard so be sure to ask for this if you want the coverage.

Two final recommendations.

  1. If you plan to rent out a property of any kind, you may want to consider transferring that property into a business name or LLC. This will further protect you from anyone being able to access any of your assets in your personal name. Just make certain your insurance policy is in the same name as the property owner.
  2. Consider an umbrella policy that will pick up where your underlying property policy leaves off. Again, make sure you have the correct name listed as named insured on this policy as well.

For any questions on anything discussed please feel free to give us a call at 704-494-9495. Our agents can help explain these matters to you and get you a free quote on this coverage.

Commercial Auto Coverage Options

Commercial auto insurance has several coverage options that you should familiarize yourself with and determine if they are right for your business. We will discuss several of these below.

Hired Auto

Gives Liability coverage for a non-owned or unlisted vehicle that is leased, rented, hired, or borrowed by the insured for incidental operation of the business.

Owned Auto Coverage

Provides Liability coverage for vehicles owned by the named insured and any owned vehicles acquired during the policy period.

Non Owned Auto

Extends Liability coverage to any non-owned vehicle that is used by an employee in the operations of the business.

Any Auto Coverage

Extends Liability coverage to any vehicles acquired or bought during the policy term until the end of the policy term.

Pollution Liability

Covers bodily injury or property damage coverage due to the discharge of pollutants that are being transported or towed.

Trucker’s General Liability

This coverage gives bodily injury or property damage coverage sustained in the course of business while using products or services on premises.

Drive Other Car Coverage

Excess coverage for an executive of a corporation or partnership when driving a non-owned vehicle.

Step Down Liability Coverage

This coverage reduces the liability limits to state minimum requirements for drivers not listed on the policy.

Non-Trucking Liability or Bobtail Liability

This is liability coverage for policyholders who are under lease to a motor carrier which provides the primary liability coverage.

On-Hook

Provides coverage for the vehicle or vehicles being towed or hauled.

Garagekeepers Coverage

Provides Physical Damage coverage for a customer’s vehicle left in the care, custody, and control of the insured while at a covered location or in transit between covered locations.

Cargo Liability

Provides Liability coverage for the covered property in the care and control of the insured and being transported by the insured’s covered vehicle.

Trailer Interchange

Trailer Interchange covers physical damage to any non-owned trailer while in the care, custody, or control of the insured.

These are just some of the various coverage options for commercial auto insurance. Some of these may or not be available for your business type and some may or may not be required. It is important that you speak with your agent on what would be suitable for you. You can also call us at 704-494-9495 with any questions.

UBER INSURANCE

The wait is over. Uber insurance is available in NC! Uber and Lyft drivers in Charlotte and other surrounding cities in NC have waited patiently for a solution to the coverage gap for ridesharing insurance, also referred to as transportation network insurance.

As of 12/19/2016, we can now offer a personal insurance policy with an endorsement that can be added to it that will cover drivers who sometimes use their own personal vehicles to drive for Uber or Lyft. Insurance carriers on all personal lines auto insurance policies exclude coverage while driving for a transportation network. If you were driving for one of these companies up to this point, you were likely driving around without insurance for part of your trip.

Uber has taken the stance where they would cover a claim only while you had a passenger that you were transporting or when the Uber app matched you with your passenger you were to pick up. Your personal lines insurance policy would cover you only while you were using the vehicle for personal use. This left a gap in coverage while you were sitting with the app on waiting for a fare.

BEFORE:

Not Covered

*The app is turned on and you are waiting to be matched with a passenger.

Covered

*Match is made and you are on the way to pick up the passenger.

*Passenger is in your vehicle.

NOW:

No coverage Gaps on endorsed policies. Uber still covers you during the times stated above. Your endorsed policy will cover you while the app is on and you are waiting to be matched with the passenger.

Transportation networks are brand new, and we will without a doubt see changes in the future as the industry grows and changes. This sort of hybrid policy is a step in the right direction. Up to this point, drivers only had 2 choices.

  1. Purchase a true livery or taxi cab policy that was rated much higher than a personal auto policy due to a much higher exposure. You would also need to find a company that would allow you to add an endorsement to your policy that would allow you to use the policy for personal use as well.
  2. Take a chance and drive uninsured.

With a more affordable policy available in NC, there is no excuse for transportation network drivers driving for Uber, Lyft, or various other companies to drive without the proper coverage.

Anyone who has ridden in a vehicle for one of these ridesourcing companies cannot deny the ease of use of the app and, in most cases, the low fare cost. With so many users opting for Uber and Lyft over taxi cabs these days, we know that this form of transportation is here to stay.

If you have any questions or would like a quote on Uber insurance or Lyft insurance, please give us a call at 704-494-9495. There is no reason to have a gap in insurance coverage any longer. YOU MUST PURCHASE A POLICY WITH THIS ENDORSEMENT ADDED TO BE COVERED.

We will continue to update you on this exciting change with future articles regarding this subject.