August, 2014

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Risks, Exposures, and the Need for Accountants Professional Liability Coverage

Accountants Professional Liability Insurance

Accountants play a big role in the financial health of their clients. It’s a huge responsibility, and most accountants, CPAs, tax preparers, and other accounting professionals carry some form of accountants professional liability insurance because, even small accounting mistakes can result in costly problems for a client. And the reality is that dissatisfied clients sometimes turn to a judge in order to recover damages. If an accountant should ever find his or herself on the receiving end of a lawsuit, their legal costs could increase exponentially.


There are some very real risks of a malpractice suit, or claims made against the insureds by reason of a negligent act, error, or omission in the performance of professional accounting services and that is the reason why every accountant needs professional liability insurance, which covers an accounting business if one of their clients should bring allegations that the work performed for them caused them a financial loss in any way.


Examples of situations where errors could result in litigation


For example, an accountant audits the financial statements of a client but fails to recognize that there are irregularities associated with employee embezzlement during the audit process, or because they are overburdened with work during tax season and they fail to file a client’s return on time, that client could hold them responsible for any damages they may suffer.


Simply by making a technical error in their calculations or failing to include certain pertinent information in a client’s tax return, they could be sued. When a lawsuit is filed, even if the accountant feels that they are not at fault, they’re still going to spend time and money defending themselves against those charges, or may end up trying to settle the charges out of court.


There have been instances when an accounting firm was acting as a trustee on a client’s behalf and failed to include vital documents, resulting in penalties and interest charges, or a client may hire an accountant to set-up investment properties and the accountant registers them as a corporation instead of a partnership, creating additional tax liabilities, at which time the client could be inclined to seek litigation to recover any damages.


The risks and exposures are vast to those in the business of tax preparation and accountants professional liability coverage is one way to deal with dissatisfied clients. Speak to an agent about any questions or concerns.


photo credit: samikki cc

Why Blogs are Important to Insurance Web Design

Insurance Web Design

Insurance web design is vital in today’s market. Generating sales in the insurance industry is difficult for two reasons: Competition can be fierce, with plenty of agencies vying for the same share of the market, and it can take an awful lot of work to perform this task and do it well enough to succeed. An important aspect of any insurance agency web site is providing information, and doing it in an interesting, even entertaining way.


This is generally accomplished by writing regular blogs. The word blog is short for “web log,” which means a kind of online journal or diary. The first “bloggers” wrote mainly about their personal lives and experiences. But over time, blogs began to show up all over the web, and featured all types of information on almost every subject, including insurance.


In just a few short years, blogs have skyrocketed to become a form of conversational marketing used by all types and sizes of businesses, from big brand name corporations down to mom and pop-style companies. And now even insurance agents have come to appreciate just how much blogging can enhance their prospects.


Insurance agents understand the potential of good content


Blogging is getting the attention of web-savvy insurance agents for many reasons, including:


  1. New content for search engines


Websites need to have good content in order to keep search engine rankings up. Hosting the blog on the agency’s own website allows flexibility to add new content quickly.


  1. Keep visitors coming back 


By writing interesting posts on a regular basis, visitors are given a reason to return.


  1. Educate online visitors


A blog is a way to educate visitors about relevant insurance issues that may be out of place on other sections of the website. Giving someone valuable information puts him or her one step closer to buying from an agent when they’re finally ready.


  1. Engage visitors


Enabling comments on a blog can often begin a back and forth dialog with customers, and answering their questions presents the agent as something of an expert.


The most important thing to remember is blogs, while integral to insurance web design, take time and maintenance. This means taking the time to post at least once a week!


photo credit: Thomas Rockstar cc

Why the Neighborhood’s Favorite Backyard Needs Protection

homeowners insurance nj

The dog days of summer are in full swing, and everyone in the neighborhood wants to congregate at the Millers’ house—because the Millers have a veritable backyard of playground delights that reflect a myriad of risks for their homeowners insurance in New Jersey: a shimmering grotto of a swimming pool, a Jacuzzi that seats seven, and even a pool slide that deposits swimmers right into the 9-foot depths under a waterfall. Alongside the sparkling pool sits a full-size trampoline, just waiting for wannabe Olympic gymnasts to tumble and flip on. To the rear: a batting cage, complete with a mechanical pitching arm. A large outdoor kitchen complete with refrigerator, barbeque grill, rotisserie, and stove top means preparing meals are a snap. Add to that a plasma tv enclosed for protection from the elements, a sound system, an ornamental fire pit, a separate enclosure for the two large dogs, and altogether it adds up to an idyllic setting that nevertheless represents a variety of risks that could leave the happy couple liable for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What could happen?

Oh, so many problems, starting at the walkway, where someone could slip and fall. That sparkling pool and spa present a drowning hazard, and unless secured with a fence, could be considered a dangerous nuisance that attracts children. The trampoline is a common source of backyard injuries, from simple sprains to broken bones, concussions, and even paralyzing spinal injuries. When it’s batter up at the cage, beware of hard balls flying at lightning-fast speeds, causing injury to those who are caught unawares and get hit in the body or the head. Burns can occur if one should fall into the fire pit’s flames, or carelessly put a hand on the hot stove or barbecue. Bites are always a possibility whenever one has dogs on the premises, no matter how friendly they appear to be. And of course, electronics that are kept outside are prone to theft.

Protection is the best way ahead

Contact a professional for guidance on how to sidestep these and many more risks with homeowners insurance in New Jersey. Whether one’s backyard is a simple grassy square or a miniature amusement park, it’s best to be covered for the unexpected.


photo credit: Bradley Wells cc

General Exposures and E&O Insurance for Insurance Agents

E&O Insurance for Insurance Agents

Insurance agents understand all too well the many challenges they face when selling their services and products to consumers. A misplaced word here, an exclusion of important information there, and they can end up in a court defending their actions, and could ultimately end up paying out a large settlement for an unfortunate and unintentional error.


E&O insurance for insurance agents can help with the burden of litigation should a customer decide that they are unhappy with the results of either their purchase, or an incident that took place for which they believed they were covered, only to discover that they were not.


Types of concerns and exposures faced by insurance agents


One example of a routine exposure many agents face has to do with quote sheets. The exposure lies in the possibility that, if one customer service representative (CSR) uses a quote sheet that does not ask an important question, and this results in an insured not purchasing adequate coverage, whereas another CSR’s quote sheet would have asked the appropriate question, an invariable practice standard has been violated. The plaintiff attorney would point this out in a court of law and there would be little or no defense against the accusation.


Another area of concern is when a CSR ends up being behind on a client’s policy renewals, which can create significant E&O exposures, such as missing errors and making mistakes in an attempt to try to rush through the process or, even worse, delivering their policies late. If a policy is delivered late, any “duty to read” responsibility on the insured’s part is heavily diluted.


An agency’s Standard of Care requirement is a complicated matter in itself, because the applicable standard is case and fact specific. When an agency charges fees in many, and probably the vast majority of jurisdictions, it elevates its Standard of Care requirements considerably. A key to meeting this higher standard likely involves new procedures and much tighter monitoring of whether these procedures are being followed in order to avoid situations that could result in litigation. These are prime examples of why E&O insurance for insurance agents is a necessary and vital product to have.


photo credit: citirecruitment cc

The Importance of Renters Insurance for Millennials

Renters Insurance NJ

The Millennials generation is getting older. The oldest of this generation have been out of college for a few years now and many of them were forced to move back in with their parents when the recession hit. However, these same young adults, as well as the ones who have graduated after them, are starting to move out of those safe homes and into the housing market.


Unlike their parents, millennials have shown a preference for renting rather than actually buying a house. Perhaps this is because of their initial struggles moving out and their vivid memories of the recession. Whatever the cause, it is important for these young adults to make sure they are covered by NJ renters insurance.


This generation faces constraints that their parents most likely managed to avoid, such high debt levels as a result of student loans. This debt, as well as tighter credit standards that lenders now impost on potential borrowers, is preventing them from becoming homeowners, but could also prevent them from making the smart decision to get NJ renters insurance.


In fact, according to a 2013 survey from the Insurance Information Institute, only 35% of renters had insurance coverage, as opposed to 96% of homeowners. This may be because millennials, many of whom are new to living on their own, assume that their landlord’s insurance will cover them. However, what they do not realize is that their personal possessions are not covered if stolen or damaged without the possession of NJ renters insurance.


While this benefit should be enough to convince these college graduates to invest a little bit of their money into renters insurance, another benefit that it typically provides is coverage of living expenses should the rental space be inhabitable do to a fire or other disaster on the coverage list.


Most recent college graduates are certainly low on cash and are looking for the cheapest way to live while they start their careers and save their money. However, at an average of $12 – $15 per month, renters insurance should be a no brainer, even for the most cash-strapped graduate because of what it can save them if anything were to happen to them or their property while renting that first apartment.


photo credit: kadluba cc