Contractors need liability insurance

Independent contractors are increasingly working at all types of businesses. From plumbing to consulting, companies are seeing the benefits of hiring so-called 1099ers.

Because of their status as contractors, they don’t receive many of the benefits that employers usually provide. One of those benefits is liability insurance. If anything goes wrong while on the job, the insurance can cover it.

According to Insureon, those reasons include:

– Covering lawyer fees and damages if the employer sues over the work provided by the contractor

– Making sure that the employer doesn’t have to pay the costs if the contractor is sued

– Being compliant with statutory requirements

The type and how much insurance is needed varies based on a contractor’s responsibilities. For example, those in construction, or others who work with heavy machinery and tools, may need insurance for bodily injury and property damage.

Those who are contracted to provide advice, such as accountants, financial planners, interior designers and landscape architects, need to be concerned about liability risks, according to Trusted Choice. The company, which works with small businesses on insurance matters, says these contractors need to be covered for losses their clients may have as a result of the contractor’s recommendations.

Contractors who work as caterers should consider insurance for product and liquor liabilities. Trusted Choice notes this covers them if they serve food and alcohol at functions where guests could be injured because of food poisoning, for example.

Contractors who are unsure what kind of insurance to buy should consult with a licensed agent.

Unraveling Car Insurance Urban Legends

There are many commonly held beliefs that get passed on from person to person regarding car insurance. While some of these beliefs have been around for decades, it does not mean they are necessarily true. Luckily, the experts at InsureUS, serving residents in Cypress, TX, are here to help.  We have put together a quick list of some commonly held beliefs about car insurance that are not true. 

The Color of Your Car Matters

A myth has been circulating for years that red colored cars cost more money to insure. This myth has probably started with the conception that most sports cars are red. Because sports cars are fast and the owners can be reckless, the idea is then that ANY red car will see a hike in premium. The truth of the matter is that most insurance companies will not even ask what color car you have. Companies are more concerned with knowing the year, model, engine size, and safety features the car may have.

Speeding Sports Cars

The idea that sports cars cost more to insure because the drivers of them typically get more speeding tickets is completely false. In a survey conducted, the majority of speeding tickets are dished out to people driving sedans or SUVs. In fact, on the list of the top ten cars that receive speeding tickets, there was only one sports car mentioned. Insurance rates are determined by driver history, the type of car and the features the car possesses.

Thieves

Another commonly held misconception is that car thieves only want to steal new cars. While a new car may look enticing to a potential burglar, the truth is that older cars are typically stolen more often. This is because people are holding on to their cars longer and older stolen cars can be sold for parts. If you are expecting your insurance premiums to go down because you have an older car think again! There are many other factors that come into play when determining your car insurance premium. 

Luckily, if you are located in Cypress, TX, the experts at InsureUS are here to help.  We are available to answer any questions you may have to get you on the path to understanding the truth about car insurance. 

Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 7-13, 2017

There will be trouble. Expect it. Prepare for it.

According to NOAA, on average, 12 tropical storms will form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico during the hurricane season which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. Six will become hurricanes.

In the Central Pacific Ocean, an average of three tropical storms, two of which become hurricanes, form or move over the area during the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. During a typical 2-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by an average of 3 hurricanes, one of which is classified as a major hurricane (winds of 111 mph or greater)

What damage does each category of hurricane cause?

Category 1 – 74-95 mph winds

Don’t take a Cat 1 hurricane lightly. At this wind speed, you may have roof and siding damage. Dead trees will fall; branches will break. Power outages will last for several days.

Prepare: Trim trees, service your generator, make sure you have water, food, and an up to date emergency kit.

Category 2 – 96-110 mph winds.

Downed trees will block roads. Power can be out from days to weeks.

Category 3 – 111-129 mph winds

Expect devastation to buildings. You may lose your roof, gutters and siding. Power will almost certainly be out for at least two weeks. Water will be a problem. Fill bathtubs before the storm to use for flushing toilets and bathing.

Category 4 – 130-156 mph winds

You’ll be evacuated if this storm heads your way. Make plans before hurricane season for a place to stay for a minimum of two weeks. Your house will sustain major structural damage. There will be no water or power. Your pets cannot survive this storm. Make plans to take them with you.

Category 5 – 157 or higher mph winds

Catastrophic. You will be evacuated. After the storm, you will have no place to live. Houses will be reduced to timber. Travel will be impossible for weeks. No water or power for weeks. Not only will you need a place to stay for weeks, you’ll be filing an insurance claim for everything you own. Before the storm, use your smartphone to take a video of your home, room by room. Your pets will not survive this storm. Make plans to take them with you.

Storm surge

Surging waters can be a deadly effect of a hurricane. In Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was the storm surge that broke levees in New Orleans and caused flooding six to 12 miles from the beach.

How will going into business affect family?

At some point in everyone’s career, this thought comes up: “Am I ready to follow my dreams and start my own business?”

You may have dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s in terms of being financially and mentally ready to start your own business. However, have you thought about the effects on your family? Too often this oversight can lead to a crisis at home, as well as in your business.

“It’s easy to forget that changing careers will affect your family, too. Be 100 percent certain that you and your loved ones understand the implications of running a startup,” notes Inc.com.

The good and the bad
Fully prepare them for the good and the bad of starting your own business. Do not hold back on the bad things that could happen.

Explain the hours you’re going to have to commit to your endeavor. This includes you being not able to be at as many family events.

If the family’s budget will need to be reduced, tell them. Go over your business plans with your family, giving them as many details as possible. You want their support, and you don’t want them to be surprised by any of the things that could go wrong.

“When one person goes into business, everyone in the family unit is affected,” author Pamela Slim told Entrepreneur. “If your partner and other members of your support network are reluctant to back your idea, you may want to rethink quitting your current job.”

However, this is a personal choice. From a startup owner quoted in Inc.com:

“Ultimately, I realized if I didn’t start my own company, I would always regret it, both for myself and as a role model for my children.”

Regulatory authority actions could impact small business loans

One of the chief ways small business owners raise money is through loans.

One of the chief complaints of small business owners is regulations.

The two issues have hit in a head-on collision.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was set up to protect people from falling for scams in the financial industry, and to keep a watch on companies that operate in the space. It has been so mired in controversy over its authority that it now faces dismantling by the new administration.

As the wheels turn in that effort, the controversial government agency has set its sights on small business loans, collecting information and statistics about the loans.

Banks and lenders smell trouble, according to Bloomberg BNA. Is the bureau ramping up for a new round of fair lending lawsuits? Or a whole new range of lending regulations? If it wanted to, the unelected CFPB could enact regulations with the force of law, just as if it were Congress.

The CFPB came from the Dodd-Frank Act that has been in the news lately, as calls for its repeal have run rampant.

The problem with the CFPB’s targeting how small businesses get loans is twofold.

First, there are concerns about the scope of the information the CFPB wants to collect.

The CFPB wants to use a section of an existing law that requires it to collect information about access to credit for small businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses. The CFPB also wants to collect new data on the state of small business lending. It applies to online lenders, as well as bank lenders.

Proponents say this is an effort to save small business owners from unfair lending practices. However, a Pandora’s box is opened whenever a government bureaucracy attempts to expand its so-called collection data efforts.

Lenders, including non-banks and online lenders, could simply curtail making loans to small business owners. They might fear unequal lending lawsuits if their numbers of loans to women-owned and minority-owned businesses are not high enough. Some might make bad loans just to get their numbers up, something that contributed to the housing crisis of 2008.

Some companies may find that dealing with government disclosure is timely and costly. They may find it’s not worth the hassle.

For small business owners, available lenders would be curtailed.

The second problem deals with the many complaints about the CFPB concerning its abuse of power.

The controversial bureau has been under fire for its overreach. Critics also say the CFPB’s data collection efforts may go further than what is allowed by the actual law.

First woman to run the Boston Marathon, April 19, 1967

Katherine Switzer became the first woman to run as a numbered participant in the Boston Marathon, April 19, 1967.

Switzer registered for the race as K.V. Switzer and was given a number, even though women were not invited to run.

When the error was discovered, one official tried to physically force her off the course. But Switzer’s boyfriend, also running, clobbered the official, sending him flying and they continued.

An unofficial woman runner, Bobbi Gibb, beat Switzer’s time by an hour.

Women were not officially welcome to the marathon until 1972. Interestingly, the official who pushed Switzer in 1967 was instrumental in making women part of the event in 1972.

Tips to Prevent Mold Damage to Your Home

Mold can cause severe damage and time-consuming, costly repairs to your home.  Save your time and money by addressing these suggestions to rid your house in the Cypress, TX area before it takes hold. 

  1. Use a critical eye to eliminate unnecessary clutter, especially around airflow points that prevent your HVAC air circulation.
  2. Controlling your indoor climate by setting the thermostat at 78 degrees F to prevent the air conditioning unit from dehumidifying during humid summers.
  3. Make sure our AC unit is the proper size for your home.  If it’s too small or large, it will not run efficiently and can lead to mold.
  4. When running the AC, shut windows and doors to prevent humidity in the air that leads to condensation and mold.
  5. Monitor the indoor humidity level in humid climates and keep it below 60 percent to prevent mold growth.
  6. If the humidity level regularly is above 60 percent, check your AC is working properly.  For example, is the temperature correct, is it cycling periodically, does it blow cold air, and are the coils clean?
  7. Watch for standing water or dampness around sump pumps, freezers, hot water tanks, refrigerators, windows, and basement doors.
  8. If groundwater is an issue in your area, cover the crawl space floor with a plastic barrier to trap the moisture in the ground and keep moisture vapor from rising into the home.
  9. Consider using a dehumidifier if you have high humidity regularly.

InsureUS

At InsureUS in the Cypress, TX area, we understand how difficult it can be to fight indoor mold.  We have a commitment to helping you keep your home safe and mold-free for your family, and help you ensure that you have the home insurance coverage necessary.

Distracted phone users drive up insurance prices

Car insurance rates are going up and you can blame the smartphone.

Insurers expect rates to rise by 8 to 11 percent in 2017 as auto accidents rise along with distracted driving.

Auto insurers say distracted driving is so bad that they are beginning to see many auto accidents with no skid marks, according to the Wall Street Journal. The drivers literally never saw it coming.

Experts expected accidents to drop and rates to lower as car-makers adopted higher tech protections, but that has not happened.

According to Allstate Corp., the striking correlation between smartphone ownership and accidents is because people do more than talk on the phone when they are driving. Maybe talking was bad enough, but now drivers are making videos, texting and using the Internet.

Virtual reality headsets pose safety concerns

For kids and young people, the top item on their list of fun things to have is probably a virtual reality kit, but according to one tech writer VR comes with a load of safety issues.

According to Scott Stein, writing for cnet.com, VR is amazing but it isn’t especially safe.

Stein points out that when VR technology is demonstrated to tech writers, it is always in an empty demo room with a staffer standing behind each person to prevent trips and slips. But nonetheless, trips happen.

Among Stein’s concerns:

VR-induced nausea – Although developers are working on this, players may frequently develop nausea in their immersive experiences. Taking breaks can help limit fatigue, nausea and dizziness.

Blind and deaf in the real world – The standout safety feature of VR is that the user is immersed in unreality while reality still exists in the form of walls and objects. Also people and pets. Stein recommends no pets or people in a room where someone is playing VR. There is no way to see toddlers or pets. No way to see the location of the coffee table or television set. If you draw the boundaries for your VR game incorrectly, you stand the chance of punching a wall.

Tripping over wires – With VR you can even lose the sense of where your own body is. Imagine how difficult cables will be in that situation. VR gaming systems may have cables leading back to gaming sets. When you play, you can’t see the cables. You don’t even have a sense of where your body is in relation to itself.

Eye damage – Users have reported troubling side effects of having an image 1 inch from their eyes. Eye strain is documented. After images are possible, so when you look out into the real world, you see images of the game. More studies are coming.

Interest rates, production costs, and regulations have made new cars cost more.

Interest rates, production costs, and regulations have made new cars cost more.

According to Experian, the average consumer pays $495 for a new car loan. That is more than the $447 they paid in 2008. The average interest rate in the third quarter of 2016 was 4.69 percent, compared to the higher rate of 6.14 percent in 2008.

Consumers were financing more car in 2016 than in 2008 — up to an average of $30,022 compared to $24,600 for 2008.

The cost of cars is also higher. In fact, according to Autotrader, about 3 million new cars should have been sold last year, just looking at population growth.

Part of the problem, says Heritage.org, is that new regulations press car prices up, just as new technology actually pushes prices down.

The price of a new vehicle is more than $7,000 higher than 2008, Heritage says. It points to new, costly fuel economy standards that are driving prices up.

Prices are also under pressure at the dealer level. According to Automotive News, franchised new-car dealers in the U.S. spent a combined $3.2 billion in 2012 to meet 61 new federal regulations. Those costs are passed along to consumers.