Protect Your Home-Based Business With the Right Insurance for Your Needs

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Owning your own business – especially one you can run from your home – is more than just a dream; for millions of men and women, it’s their day-to-day reality. In fact, the Small Business Administration reports home-based businesses account for more than half of all businesses in the U.S. Each day, millions of workers roll out of bed and into their offices without having to deal with a busy commute or an office full of noisy coworkers – and although they may own different types of businesses and offer different goods and services, most of them have one thing in common: They don’t have enough insurance to protect their businesses and their assets against a loss or liability claim. Why? Because most of home-based business owners mistakenly believe their homeowner’s insurance provides all the coverage they need for any business-related losses they may incur. The fact is – that’s just not true.

Why Your Homeowner’s Policy Isn’t Enough

Your homeowner’s policy is designed to cover your losses as a homeowner, not as a business owner. That means if your equipment or inventory is damaged or a client or customer becomes injured while doing business in your home, you’ll almost certainly be held responsible for all or most of the related costs. And that means if you operate a business from home, you should be looking into additional coverage to prevent financial losses that could take a huge bite out of your profits.

For most owners of home-based businesses, that means one of two possible options:

  • Homeowner policy rider: A rider is an “add-on” to your existing policy that provides additional coverage for your business losses. Riders offer somewhat limited coverage, so they’re really only a good option for a select few home-based business owners who don’t meet with clients on site and who don’t have expensive business equipment.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): A business owner’s policy provides far more coverage, including coverage for losses, liability issues and even work interruptions. For most businesses, a “BOP” is a better option because it provides a higher level of protection – and a lot more peace of mind.

How can I tell which type of coverage I need?

Having a comprehensive assessment of your business’ risk exposures is the best way to determine which type of coverage is right for you, as well as how much coverage you need to protect your business and your personal assets. Overbay Insurance Services is a leading provider of business insurance policies for home-based businesses in and around Waynesville, North Carolina. Our agents work closely with business owners to understand their needs, crafting custom solutions that suit every budget. Keep your business safe and sound. Call Overbay Insurance Services at 828-452-4699 and ask for a review of your business insurance needs today.

Spring Showers Are Here! Is Your Home Protected From Water Damage?

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Imagine waking up one morning to a small lake in your living room. Or coming home from work – or worse, vacation – to find your basement awash in water. Seems unlikely? Think again. That’s the kind of damage that’s typical with water backup problems caused by broken sump pumps and broken or leaking sewer lines and drains, damage that adds up to billions of dollars of damages every year – and a lot of those costs need to be paid from the homeowner’s own savings. Why? Because just like flood-related water damage, water backup damage isn’t covered by the typical homeowner’s policy. And that means when it’s time to pay for repairs and replacement of damaged items, you’ll be left high and dry.

What is water backup coverage?

Water backup coverage is additional insurance that’s added to your homeowner’s policy, providing financial peace of mind if you experience flooding or other damage as a result of broken or damaged pipes, drains and sewer lines. While you may think there’s little risk of these damages occurring in your home, statistics show more than a quarter of all homeowner’s claims arise as a result of water damage.

Like other types of “add-on” insurance coverages, water backup policies vary in the type and amount of coverage they provide. Some policies may provide coverage for damage to the structure of your home and repairs to damaged pipes or other plumbing equipment, while others may provide additional coverage for furniture, electronics and personal belonging. Most policies also provide coverage for damage caused by equipment located off your property that’s still connected to your property – like damage caused by repairs to a main water or sewer line, for instance. Obviously, the more extensive your coverage, the less risk you – and your finances – will face.

Is water backup insurance the same as flood risk insurance?

No. Flood insurance covers water that enters your home as a result of extreme storms or overflowing rivers, lakes or other bodies of water on the surface. It doesn’t provide coverage for water damage due to leaks and broken equipment. Likewise, water damage insurance doesn’t provide coverage for flooding covered under flood insurance. To be completely protected, you need both types of insurance.

Review your policy now to prevent flood risk damage.

Lots of issues can cause water damage in your home, including frozen pipes and heavy spring rains. Having your policy and your property evaluated for flood risk issues is essential for protecting your home, your property and your hard-earned savings. Call Overbay Insurance Services at 828-452-4699 to request a free policy review and quote today.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Heart Health Today

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February is Heart Health Month, and there’s no better time than right now to learn a few simple heart disease prevention techniques that can help your heart stay healthy, especially as you get older.

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Here are five easy steps you can take right now to help you enjoy better heart health for the rest of your life:

“Refresh” your diet. It’s easy to get into an eating rut, especially with the wide availability of convenience foods. Unfortunately, many of these foods are high in fats and sodium, and can have a negative impact on your heart health. Do a little menu spring cleaning and change up your eating routines by adding some of these heart-healthy foods to your routine: “oily” fish like salmon and tuna (combine with whole-grain bread or add it to a green salad for an easy lunch or supper); almonds or walnuts; blueberries, raspberries and strawberries; oatmeal (add those nuts and berries for even more of an impact); orange, yellow and leafy vegetables; melons and oranges; and yes, red wine and dark chocolate. Check out these recipes from the American Heart Association.

Be more active. Walking at least a half hour every day (or at least five days a week) is a great way to boost your heart health, but even simple things like taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator and parking a little farther from the grocery store or mall entrance can help. Other activities like kayaking, swimming and tennis – in fact, pretty much any aerobic activity – offers heart health benefits. Just check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine, especially if you’ve been leading a relatively sedentary lifestyle. Here are a few simple ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine.

Get screened. The American Heart Association recommends basic cardiovascular screening beginning at age 20 (yes, 20) for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Screening uses a comprehensive medical history and basic testing to determine a person’s medical risks for cardiovascular disease so they can take important steps to reduce those risks and improve their heart health before a problem develops. Screening is fast and simple, so call your doctor and ask about scheduling your own screening.

Reduce your stress. Yoga and meditation are great ways to relieve stress (join a class or find some videos on YouTube and try it at home), and even simple things like setting aside time each day to relax in a quiet area can help lower stress levels (a major factor in maintaining good heart health). Even simpler: Learn these controlled breathing techniques – they’re easy, can be done anywhere, and all it takes is 10 minutes to reap the rewards.

Be proactive. You can improve your peace of mind by making sure you’re prepared, just in case an issue arises – and that means making sure you have ample life and health insurance coverage. At Overbay Insurance Services, we can review your insurance coverage during a simple phone call so you can feel confident you’re prepared and protected no matter what the future may bring. Call us today at 828-52-4699 and let us help you review your insurance needs.

9 Tips to Improve Safety and Reduce Your Business’ Liability Risks

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Slip-and-fall accidents are a major cause of injury and liability costs for businesses; in fact, the CDC says about a million people are injured each year in accidents related to falls, with injuries ranging from mild bruises or small cuts to broken bones and head, neck and spine injuries. Taking steps to improve safety and reduce the risks of accidents at your place of business makes good financial sense, and it also helps ensure your employees and your customers stay healthy.

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Here are a few simple safety steps you can start taking today to reduce liability exposure at your business:

  • Remove ice and snow from sidewalks and other outdoor walkways as well as parking lots as soon as possible – throughout business hours when snow is actively falling. Use sand or salt to improve traction.
  • Keep handrails, railings and steps or stairs in good repair. Make sure stairs and entry areas are well lighted. (Good lighting offers an added bonus by keeping would-be burglars at bay.)
  • Mop up any slick or wet areas indoors and use signage to alert customers and workers to areas where the floor may be slippery. Wipe up spills immediately. Consider using a highly absorbent mat at entryways to soak up water tracked in from rain and snow.
  • If your business uses shelving, make sure all items are properly stacked to avoid falling object hazards.
  • Use cleaning products meant for businesses and commercial buildings rather than opting for low-cost products that may leave a slick or oily residue.
  • Train employees in safe practices and what to do if a customer becomes injured on the property.
  • When an incident does occur, keep detailed records about the event. Keeping records is important for your insurance agent and in the event a lawsuit is filed, plus it can help you identify issues that need to be addressed.
  • Do regular surveillance of your business to identify potential safety hazards and be proactive about correcting them.
  • Keep detailed maintenance records to document repairs and upgrades that are made so you can show you’re doing your “duty of care,” an important part of decreasing your liability risks in case of a lawsuit.

One more tip: Make sure your business liability insurance provides adequate coverage for your needs. Insurance is your first line of defense against accident-related costs, and it plays an essential role in protecting your business, your employees, your customers and your assets. Call Overbay Insurance Services today at 828-452-4699 to review your coverage and make sure your policy matches your needs.

Keep Identity Theft at Bay With 9 Easy Safety Tips

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Identity theft is on the rise in the U.S. and elsewhere too, and holidays are a prime time for ID theft and fraud, both online and at “brick-and-mortar” stores.

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To keep your information secure, follow these simple safety tips:

  • Shield your credit card from spying eyes when in the checkout line. Better yet, buy some gift cards before heading out and use those instead of your personal credit card. Register the cards online once you buy them in case they become lost or stolen.
  • Scan or swipe your card yourself whenever possible and don’t let a salesperson walk off to another room to swipe your card, especially if it’s a business you don’t know.
  • For online shopping, see if your credit card company offers virtual account numbers that are good only for a very brief period of time or for a specific transaction. Virtual numbers still charge to your account, but your actual card number is hidden from the retailer.
  • Look for the “https” when ordering online. Sites that have the “s” in their URL use special encryption to help keep your information safe.
  • Don’t click on coupons in emails unless you’re sure they’re from the actual retailer. Hovering over the sender’s name usually will reveal the actually address in the lower left of your screen. Fake coupons are a common strategy used in identity theft.
  • Also be on the lookout for fake emails saying your account has been breached. Instead of clicking, contact the credit card or bank directly from their site and ask if the notification is legitimate.
  • Use one credit card to make all purchases to make it easier to keep track of card activity. Set alerts so the card company will notify you when amounts over a certain limit are charged.
  • Keep an eye on your credit card accounts – check in at least weekly to look for any charges you don’t recognize. And if you don’t plan on applying for credit in the near future, consider contacting the credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) and having a “freeze” placed on your credit to help prevent thieves from opening new accounts in your name.
  • Invest in identity theft protection from Overbay. We offer a comprehensive protection package that provides significant peace of mind at a surprisingly affordable price. Own a business? We also offer cyber security insurance to help you protect your business from cyber threats.

Don’t let the worry of identity theft rob you of your holiday fun. Following a few basic safety precautions can help you substantially decrease your risk of having your identity stolen so you can enjoy greater peace of mind all year round.

Shopping This Black Friday? 7 Tips for Better Discounts and Greater Safety

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Turkey Day is just around the corner, and while some of us may be dreaming about how to score that extra-fat drumstick, plenty of others are thinking about the scores they’ll make the next day when Black Friday brings bargains guaranteed to make even the most reluctant shopper reach for the plastic.

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Of course, everyone knows what Black Friday is, and plenty of people hit the malls and the stores looking to make a dent in the holiday shopping list or score some goodies of their own. But there is a darker side to Black Friday, and every year, newscasts are full of stories of theft, accidents and injuries that are almost enough (almost!) to keep you at home. This year, you can increase your savings and reduce your risks of Black Friday mayhem with these simple tips:

  • Do your research ahead of time. There are several websites that offer previews of store ads, deal alerts and even buying guides for the most popular items so you can get the best possible deal. Knowing which items you’re looking for ahead of time is the best way to avoid day-of-sale panic and buyer’s remorse.
  • Sign up for email lists for the stores you love. Most stores will be sending out plenty of coupons and special deal alerts long before Black Friday, so sign up early to score the best discounts.
  • Try to restrict spending to one credit card. Not only will it make it easier to make sure you don’t overspend, but because there’s only one account to keep track of, it also reduces the chances for fraud.
  • Use gift cards instead of credit cards. There’s no risk of fraud, and with a limited balance, you can set a specific budget and stick to it.
  • Only use online coupons from reputable sources. Avoid coupons that come from suspicious email addresses or websites with which you’re not familiar to avoid accidentally downloading malicious spyware.
  • Don’t leave shopping bags and packages in your back seat where they can attract the attention of thieves. Covering them up with a sheet may seem like a wise move, but it’s not fooling anyone – especially not a thief.
  • Shop with someone when possible. When traveling in parking lots and other crowded areas, there really is safety in numbers.

Whether you’re buying gifts for loved ones or treating yourself to something special, Black Friday is definitely the day for bargain hunting and deep discounts. Spending a little time preparing for your big shopping adventure can save you time and headaches so you can focus on the holiday fun.

4 Key Mistakes Business Owners Make When Filing Insurance Claims

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Own a business? Then you (hopefully) know how important it is to have a business insurance policy in place that’s suited to your business’ unique needs. And you probably spent a fair amount of time reviewing your policy options to make sure those needs are covered. But while buying the right policy is critically important to your business’ future, that’s just one of the skills you need to make sure your insurance provides the best protection possible. The other skill: Knowing how to file a claim.

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Filing a claim may seem like an easy process: Call the insurance agent and that’s it, right? Not quite. In fact, plenty of business owners don’t know how to properly file a claim, and that means they’re at risk of not receiving their full benefits. Here’s a quick review of some of the most common mistakes business owners make when filing insurance claims:

  • They don’t contact their agent right away. As in immediately. Contacting your agent as soon as you become aware of a loss means your agent can send out an adjuster and provide you with the information you need to ensure your claim is processed as quickly as possible to avoid prolonged interruptions.
  • They don’t take pictures or videos of the damage. If your equipment or building is damaged, your first instinct may be to start making repairs right away so you can get back to business. But making any type of repair – even clearing away debris – can provide an inaccurate record of the damage and make it more difficult to support your claims. First, take plenty of pictures and videos from different angles to show all damage. Use a ruler or other object in the foreground to show scale and use plenty of light. Do NOT throw away damaged items before your adjuster arrives.
  • They don’t have an emergency response plan in place. Emergency response plans aren’t just for big corporations. Take some time to write out a plan and make your employees aware of it. Make sure your policy is in an easy-to-reach place and program your agent’s number into your cellphone.
  • They don’t perform regular reviews of their policy. Businesses change on a continual basis, adding new products, new equipment or new employees. Reviewing your policy on a regular basis is the best way to make sure your policy continues to meet your needs as they evolve over time.

At Overbay, we help businesses of all sizes get the coverage they need to keep their business, their employees and their assets safe. Call today to schedule a policy review.