Keeping It Local In Walden NY

In October of 1990 a father and son decided to open up a little independent insurance agency in Walden NY.  Walden has a little something for everyone, as this video shows-

But, what makes this the perfect spot for us is simply this – Location.  From here we can personally reach out to some of our hyper-local insurance companies.  Kingstone, in Kingston NY, Mid-Hudson Co-Operative, in Montgomery.  We’re also close to the NYS Thruway, and that makes reaching our other NYS based companies a breeze.   The internet and telephone are easy ways to keep in touch, but that personal touch means so much when it comes to building relationships.

Keeping things local is important, local companies mean working with local risks, and that means things like wildfires in California will not increase insurance rates in the Hudson Valley.  Lower rates, local risks, and local funds being put back into the local economy.  It’s a win/win for our clients, our companies, and us.

Ensuring that the residents of the Hudson Valley have affordable, well-written insurance coverage for their homes, cars, and businesses is what we do, we’ve been doing it for 28 years now.

Need help with your workers’ compensation insurance?  We work with companies that offer real-time tracking, and that can be a huge game changer for independent contractors!  Need an insurance certificate for your next construction job, just go to our website and request one, easy as pie.  We make it our business to ensure that your business runs smoothly and can get back to work ASAP should disaster strike.  Call us, email us, go to our website for a free quote, or stop by and say “Hi”, we love to meet our neighbors.

Happy Friday Hudson Valley!  #keepitlocal  #shoplocal  #insurelocal  #explorelocal

8 Things Business Owners Should Know About Insurance

8 Things Independent Business Owners Should Know about Insurance

So, you’ve decided to take the leap and open your own independent small business. It can be a scary proposition if you don’t have any guidance up front.

One of the advantages of buying into a franchise business is you are generally given a roadmap, and some companies even recommend insurers and other vendors.

But as an independent, you’re on your own.

Here are at least eight types of insurance you should know about and consider for your business.

  1. General Liability – Every business, even home-based businesses should have general liability coverage. This provides defense and damages should you or your employee cause physical harm or property damage to a third party.
  2. Property Insurance – If you are a property owner, this coverage protects you in cases of fire damage, vandalism, smoke damage and theft. Your property coverage should also include loss of income and business interruption should your property be unusable to conduct business.
  3. Business Owner’s Policy – Commonly known in the industry as a ‘BOP,’ this policy covers general liability and offers protection for your building and business property (stock, furnishings, computers, etc.). Somewhat of a hybrid encapsulating both general liability and property coverage, BOPs offer popular endorsements (additional coverages) and are very popular with and competitively priced for small and medium-sized businesses.
  4. Commercial Auto – This protects your company’s vehicles that are used to transport goods, people, or equipment. This policy covers, trucks, SUVs, vans and cars from damage and collision. If your vehicle has lettering and/or your business logo on it, you MUST have commercial auto insurance to be properly covered.
  5. Hired and Non-Owned – If you don’t have company vehicles and you and/or your employees drive personal autos to conduct company business, you need hired and non-owned. This protects the company if the vehicle causes physical harm or property damage and is an endorsement generally offered on a BOP.
  6. Professional Liability/Errors and Omissions – This coverage protects those who provide professional services to clients. This includes insurance agents, lawyers, strategic and financial consultants, and even hair salons, among many others. This type of coverage is not covered by your general liability.
  7. Workers Compensation and Disability – In New York state, if you have at least one employee or a contract employee working via a 1099 form, you are required to carry both coverages. Workers compensation provides continued pay (usually at 50%) and medical benefits to an employee who is injured on the job. Disability insurance offers temporary cash benefits to an eligible employee who is disabled or taken ill outside of work or becomes disabled through pregnancy.
  8. Cybersecurity/Data Breach – Increasingly, businesses need this coverage to help them, and their clients recover if their private personal data is stolen. Businesses who take credit cards, store customer data electronically, or who keep detailed private personal information on file are especially at risk. This insurance helps pay for credit monitoring services for potentially exposed customers, legal fees, and professional service fees needed to recover. It also provides resources and systems to help the insured protect themselves from attack in the first place.

For more information on what kind of insurance is right for your business, contact your independent insurance agent.  

 Philip J Bender-Tymon

Hudson Valley Agents  #insurelocal

 

Happy Insurance Awareness Day!

Happy Insurance Awareness Day!

Exciting stuff, right?

Maybe not, but it IS essential that you periodically review your personal and/or business insurance coverage. Preferably before renewal or whenever a major life or business change occurs.

Before I became an insurance agent, I took my own insurance for granted. It was simply a ‘box to check’ on life’s long list of must-dos. But it literally pays off to pay attention.

For example, as a Hudson Valley business owner, your annual payroll and gross sales help determine your premium. If you’ve grown 100% and added 15 employees and your policy is still based on the figures you gave your agent three years ago as a start-up – you could incur a stiff workers compensation penalty or premium bump.

Or say you’ve added some new and very expensive manufacturing equipment. Make sure to increase your coverage so you don’t have to pay that hefty price tag twice when the business unexpectedly floods and your new equipment is destroyed.

And don’t even get me started on cyber liability. Small businesses are increasingly targeted for data breach thefts because they are more likely to process credit cards without the data protection in place of larger businesses. If you take credit cards or store customer information, you need cyber liability.

On the personal insurance front, if you are a homeowner and you’ve built a tiny house for your mother-in-law to live in on your property, but you’re only covered for your original one-car garage for ‘other structures’ – you’ll be sadly disappointed when a huge old tree falls on the tiny house (hopefully while she’s away) and you find you’re not fully covered.

There are also set limits of coverage for your special household items, including silver, artwork, jewelry, and more. If your policy only covers $2,000 for jewelry and you inherit your eccentric (yet lovable) great-aunt’s collection of vintage Tiffany brooches, you’ll need to add a jewelry endorsement to cover the full value.

Circumstances and changes that may not occur to you can greatly impact your coverage and, in some cases, can end up saving you money. Defensive driving courses, reaching a certain age, and even getting a degree can end up lowering your premium, depending on your carrier.

It only takes about 15 minutes to review your coverage(s) with your independent insurance agent (like us, Hudson Valley Agents). We’re here to help you make sure you’ve got the best and most appropriate coverage at the best rate.

It’s your insurance – make sure it’s working for you and not against you.

 #insurelocal  #HudsonValleyInsurance  #HudsonValleyAgents

Philip J. Bender-Tymon

Making sense of commercial truck insurance

Finding excellent commercial auto insurance in the Hudson Valley can feel similar to having your teeth pulled, especially when thinking about commercial truck insurance.  Here are the 5 things to keep in mind for a smooth transaction:

1- Cognizances. You’ve got to be mindful of the different kinds of truck insurance.  While there are numerous factors to consider when insuring your truck, commercial vehicle insurance can be broken down into 4 main types:

A- Liability insurance – this is the mandatory insurance which pays for any damage you cause while utilizing your truck.  Driving without this insurance is illegal and may cause heavy penalties.

B- Physical damage coverage – not really a legal requirement, yet this insurance covers your truck against perils like fire, theft, and flood damage.

C- Cargo – this insurance covers the contents you’re carrying. It isn’t really required however some shipping companies will require it.

D- Bobtail insurance – also referred to as non-trucking liability, A term created applying to auto liability insurance for an owner/operator after a load has been delivered while your truck is not being used for trucking purposes.

2- The Basics. The information you’ll need to acquire commercial truck insurance.

Even just getting set up with truck insurance might be a tricky process, though it’ll be a little smoother when you furnish as much information as is feasible. Some insurance companies will give you a quote without having the following information, but they will need proof of this data before you can actually purchase coverage.

A- Your current insurance coverage declarations page.  If you do not possess a business insurance declaration page (no prior coverage), use a current personal auto page instead.

B- Drivers license numbers and basic driving records of all drivers, including all tickets. Your quote will rise exponentially if a driver is later observed to have a worse driving history than previously claimed.

C- VIN numbers (vehicle identification numbers) of each vehicle, including a rundown of safety and security features on each truck.  If you do not have the VIN number handy, just provide the insurance company with as much detail as you can in regards to the vehicle, including the year, make, and model.

If there’s any information you simply can’t find, some companies will provide you with a quote based on your estimations. However, the quote will change when they inevitably determine the facts.

3- The Factors. The key factors affecting commercial vehicle premiums.

To a degree, you possibly can control some of the essential factors which govern your truck’s insurance costs.  The key issues which come into play include:

A- Driving record – how many speeding fines or traffic offenses you or your drivers have incurred over the last few years.

B- Garaging Location – Where your trucks are kept, especially overnight. More dangerous areas may mean higher premiums.

C- Limit of liability insurance required – see below for a rundown of what you need.

  • Kind of and radius of operation.
  • Shipping hardscrabble across the country has a different liability risk factor than shipping televisions from Ulster County NY to Westchester County NY.
  • Age, condition and safety features of the vehicles can also affect the premium.

4- Methodology. Methods used to save money on commercial insurance.

There are a few key do’s and don’ts for saving money on your insurance, but maybe the best recommendation is, to be honest regardless of how tempting it could be to overstate the value of your truck or forget to mention a speeding ticket.  Some truckers even overstate the price of their vehicles hoping that they will get a good deal if anything happened to it.  That is not how insurance works.  Your insurer will discover just how much it would cost to obtain a comparable replacement.  Should you say that your truck is worth more than it is, then you are more likely to over-pay for your coverage.

Get quotes from several insurance companies before you commit to one, and present each of them with the exact same information.

Run a safety program. Ask your insurer for information on how to put one together for your business, and you can save even more.  A written maintenance plan could also save you money simply because the insurance company will know that you are serious about maintaining your vehicles.

Removing comprehensive (fire and theft) coverage from some of your older vehicles can save money as well, especially if the cost of the coverage doesn’t even cover the amount that might be paid out.

How come truck insurance so expensive? In essence, trucks themselves are expensive. Your insurance company is at risk of having to replace your whole rig!  Trucks are big as well, so, in case you do crash into something it will generally do a considerable amount of damage.  Way more than if you were in the average automobile.  Trucks are much more likely to be stolen than cars, partly because they are worth more, and also because they often contain valuable cargo.

5. ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) authorities and MC (Motor Carrier) numbers.  You will need to get an MC number from your ICC authority before you ship goods across state lines.  In order to obtain one, your bodily injury and property damage insurance coverage will need to meet the prerequisites based on weight and class of your vehicle as well as the loads you’ll be carrying.

For vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating of 10,001 pounds or higher:

$750,000 for general, nonhazardous commodities.

$1,000,000 for hazardous freight except for class A and class B explosives.

$5,000,000 for class A and class B explosives.

Non-hazardous freight under 10,000 lbs requires a $300,000 minimum.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website (FMCSA)  is an amazing resource for truckers and features all of the guidelines and advice you could possibly expect and then some!

Hudson Valley Agents has been serving the Hudson Valley’s commercial insurance needs for 28 years. We write long-haul truckers in Maybrook NY, short-haul truckers in Poughkeepsie NY, plumbers in Middletown NY, contractors in Kingston NY, electricians in Rhinebeck NY. If you use your truck or car for your business then you need commercial auto insurance.

#commercialautoinsurance #contractors #electricians #longhaultruckers #shorthaultruckers #plumbers #insurelocal #HudsonValleyInsurance #hudsonvalley #maybrookny #poughkeepsieny #middletownny #kingstonny #rhinebeckny

 

Insuring your Hudson Valley farm

“Agriculture is civilization.” – E. Emmons

Today’s blog is the first in a series of written by David J Bonne, VP for Hudson Valley Agents.  David had a  dream of providing locally sourced insurance coverage (yep, we can do that by insuring businesses with Hudson Valley insurance companies.) for the Valley’s farmers, farmer’s markets, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and wineries and he has turned that dream into a reality.

Farm to Table Series, Pt 1 – The Farm

When it comes to insuring your assets such as your farm, it’s really easy to make a mistake and either over insure your properties our of sheer paranoia, or under insure them in order to try to save money.  Also, there is a broad spectrum of insurances to choose from, and picking the right coverages for the right amounts can be critical to keeping your farm afloat.

The first thing you should know is that one size does not fit all when it comes to insuring farms.  Thinking about your liability exposure first, the more acres you have, the greater the exposure is, just on the math alone.  Nosy wandering trespassers, subcontracted laborers, employees, visitors, and customers can all get hurt easily on farm property no matter how hard you try to prevent it.  Sometimes even the smallest, most frivolous claims can turn into tens of thousands of dollars in defense costs.  Depending on the size, type, and structure of your farming operations, some non-attached parcels may not be covered correctly, if at all.  These are the things that must be discussed with your agent before accepting your policy terms.

Next, there is the issue of properly insuring farm property which can fall into several different categories and is rarely lumped into one.

  • Non-attached buildings for instance.  On a standard homeowners policy and maybe even on a country squire/small hobby farm policy, non-attached buildings are usually sub-limits of the home-dwelling amount.  However, on a standard farm, those other buildings usually cost way more to repair or replace than those sub-limits afford.  In many cases, the barn alone can cost much more than the farmhouse, and in most cases, there are quite a few outbuilding structures such as run-in sheds, barns, utility sheds, garages, etc.  In all those situations the farm owner needs to be aware of the settlement option on those buildings.  Are they insured for full replacement value, actual depreciated cash value, or possibly an agreed upon value, and for the correct amounts?  With a standard farm policy, you can usually pick and choose which buildings to insure and set an agreed upon value.  This can be a helpful tool in controlling your costs.
  • Farm equipment is another aspect of farm property.  On a home or hobby farm policy, the contents coverage as a sbulimit of the home may or may not suffice here, but on a standard or larger commercial farm, it most certainly will not.  Properly insuring farm equipment can be tricky and requires the advice of a really good agent.  In many cases, the farm equipment can swarf the building coverages.  A realy good tractor can cost upwards of $250,000, not to mention irrigators, duster, plows, bailers, wagons, combines, the list goes on.  Once again, having the correct settlement option and valuations on your equipment is vital.  Also, are you co-insuring your equipment?  Many policies offer the option and in some cases only offer this optoin to co-insure.  Which means you may still be on the hook for a good portion of your loss in the event of a claim.  Then there is choosing the right dedctible as well.  Is your equipment scheduled or just blankedted with one lump sum of coverage, and is that the correct way to do it in your specialized case?

Now, on to your crops and/or livestock.  Crops and livestock are not automatically covered under ANY policy.  They have to be endoresed and specified in the policy.  Once they are, how do you know exatly what they are covered for?  Tornado, flooding, pestulance, pests, or wildfire?  Before buying crop insurance, it is vital that the farmer submits an accurate representation of the planted aceage they have per unit.  If they underreport, there may not be reimbursement for all losses they could realistically experience.  Livestock also has many different options and requirements.  There is mortality insurance, transit coverage, auction coverage, cattle cage, pasture, etc. An equine racehorse farm would have very different needs than a cattle farm or a crop farm.  Make sure you have the correct insuracne policy in hand.  Crop and livestock coverage can be partially funded by the USDA as well.

Workers Compensation is also vital to having a legally operating farm when you employ people.  Contrary to what some believe, there are NO EXCEPTIONS for farm workers, they must be insured by a worker’s compensation policy in NY.

As a farmer, you have many obligations, not just to your family and employees, but to your vendors, distributors, and even your insurance company.  Like any insurance policy, there are strict requirements on the part of the policyholder to safeguard their property and minimize the chance of a loss as much as possible.  If you are not familiar with your obligations to your insurance carrier, then it is time for a review of your policies.  If you have not discussed your insurance with anyone in quite some time, then you are overdue for a review of your current policies.  Farm insurance is not something to let stagnate or keep buried in a drawer somewhere.

The next installment in our Farm To Table series will be on distilleries, vineyards, craft breweries, and meaderies.

Please contact Dave Jr for further information:  845-778-2141 or davejr@hvagents.com

#farmtotable  #farminsurance  #eatlocal  #insurelocal  #farmtotableinsurance  #HudsonValleyInsurance

Plan for the financial future of your small business

Today we are talking about financial planning for your small business and the role that insurance should play in that plan.

If you own your own business, you already know how important it is to protect what you have worked so hard to build.  Insurance is asset protection and too many owners overlook these key policies:

  • Loss of business income coverage.  This enables you to cover payroll and pay your bills if your business is unable to operate as usual.
  • Employee benefits coverage.  Coverage and benefits that help you hire and retain employees.
  • Key Person Insurance.  Is there one person who is so key to your business that without them the entire business would crash and burn?  If you answered yes, then you need this coverage.
  • Life insurance.  This is a must for family-owned businesses. It can take the stress and financial strain off of grieving family members and ensures that the business can continue to function.
  • Cybersecurity.  Protect yourself and your clients from hackers and data breaches.

David, Philip, and Kathy are experts in ensuring that Hudson Valley small businesses have the tools they need to protect their livelyhood.

We are Hudson Valley Agents.  A full-service independent insurance agency that believes in keeping things local.

#insurelocal  #BOP  #HudsonValley

 

Stress relief for small business owners

Lower Your Small Business Stress for a Happier Holiday Season

The holiday season is once again upon us and if you are a small business owner, you’re likely nervously hoping for a safe and successful season of robust sales.

Since November is Stress Awareness Month and the Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday, we thought we’d give you a few tips to ease your anxiety while protecting your business.

  • Review your current business owner’s insurance to make sure the coverage for your business contents and your liability are up to date and will cover you if you have a loss.  Some people just ‘let it ride’ as their businesses grow and when a loss happens, they might find they aren’t insured for an appropriate amount.
  • The same for your building if you own the property.  Make sure your coverage reflects your real replacement costs. And check with your tenants to ensure that they are also carrying adequate liability insurance.
  • Make sure your signs and plate glass windows are covered. Many business owners don’t know to insure them specifically because they might not be covered by a general business policy.
    One of our clients had a bar and nightclub open next to her luxury retail store where she had more than 40 linear feet of plate glass as part of her storefront.  She confessed to lying awake some nights wondering if that was the night she’d receive ‘the call’.
  • Consider adding a central station burglar and fire alarm system that will notify the fire, police, or monitoring agency. Maintain fire extinguishers annually and consider installing an automatic sprinkler system. Not only will these help protect your business, you’ll receive credits that will lower your insurance premium significantly.

It may seem like a lot of work, but if you work with your independent insurance agent, he or she can help you navigate through it and find you the best coverage at the best price.

In closing, we’d like to wish everyone a joyful, safe, and successful holiday season from all of us at Hudson Valley Agents.

And relax. We’ve got you covered.

(P.S. If not, give us a call!  We’re really good at this.)

#shoplocal  #smallbizsaturday  #insurelocal

National Insurance Awareness Day

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word insurance as, “A thing providing protection against a possible eventuality.” and Merriam – Webster defines insurance as, “A means of guaranteeing protection or safety.”.   Insurance is our business so we have always defined it by the protection it provides our clients as well as ourselves but not everyone sees insurance the same way.  Today’s blog post is about increasing awareness of what insurance does for you.  We’ll do our best not to speak in the same tired cliches our industry is known for and offer you a fresh perspective on what many think of as a boring industry.

When we asked our staff what aspects of insurance they most wished our clients were aware of they told us this:

Dave Jr, owner of Hudson Valley Agents,  would like our clients to be aware of the fact that insurance “Is highly regulated by the state of NY, that is why it is less expensive in many other states”.  That explains the enormous difference in the cost of auto insurance from state to state.  For questions on this topic, please send an email to davejr@hvagents.com

Kathy would like her commercial clients to know that properly cancelling your policy, rather than allowing it to lapse due to non-payment, will make it easier for you to re-insure with that company again and it can save you money in the long run.  For questions about insurance for your business, please email Kathy at kathy@hvagents.com

 

Ashley handles our personal lines.  She would like her personal auto insurance clients to know that rental car coverage does not mean that you can rent a car while you are on vacation and your insurance will pay for it.  Rental car coverage means that your insurance company will pay for a rental car if your own car has been damaged in an accident.  For questions about personal home or auto insurance, please contact Ashley at ashley@hvagents.com

Philip wishes more business owners were aware of the differences between personal auto insurance, commercial auto insurance, and Hired/Non-owned coverage.  If you or your employees routinely travel to deliver goods or services there are policies that protect them and your business should there be an auto accident while en route to a delivery.  Ensuring that you have the proper coverage will save you a headache later on and the coverage is affordable too.  For further information on this, please contact Philip at philip@hvagents.com.

Insurance impacts our lives in so many ways, it is important to understand what your policies cover and what they do not.  We are always happy to share our knowledge, so if you have questions about your insurance, please do not hesitate to contact us, we are always happy to be of service!

#insurelocal  #HudsonValleyAgents  #NationalInsuranceAwarenessDay

 

Does your business need a commercial umbrella policy?

 

If you always carry an umbrella with you you are automatically protected from unexpected rain or snow storms, and that is always a good thing.  If your business has a commercial umbrella policy from Hudson Valley Agents then your business is protected from the unexpected and that’s a really good thing!

A CGL (commercial general liability) policy is one part of your BOP (Business Owner Policy) covers these 3 things:

  • Property damage liability & bodily injury liability coverage
  •  Advertising injury & Personal injury
  • Medical payments

A CGL will usually only pay out up to $1,000,000 and that may or may not cover you in the event of a lawsuit.  If you have a commercial umbrella policy that 1 million can become as high as 5 million!

A commercial umbrella policy will not cover things like:

  • Pollution Liability
  • Liquor Liability
  • Directors & Officers Liability

If you have questions about BOP’s, CGL’s, Commercial Umbrella coverage, or Commercial Auto insurance, please contact Kathy or Dave Jr at 845-778-2141.  #insurelocal  #HudsonValleyAgents  #HudsonValley  #businessinsurance  #assetprotection

 

Meet our staff – Kathy Livingston

Every office should be lucky enough to have someone like Kathy Livingston.  Kathy has been with Hudson Valley Agents since they opened their doors in 1990 and we hope she stays until at least 3220!

This isn’t Kathy’s first bio-blog (& it won’t be her last either!), so this time we had to give her questions that she was not expecting:

1- How long have you lived in the Hudson Valley?  40 years

2- What is your favorite place to visit in the Hudson Valley?  The Christmas Tree Shop & Mt Alvernia

3- How long have you been in the insurance biz? 26 years

4- What’s your favorite song?  It’s a hymn “Go make a difference”

5- What’s your favorite movie?  Romeo and Juliette

6 – If someone made a movie of your life who would play you? Sally Field

7- What is the best part of your day at HVA? When people thank us for saving them money and taking good care of them

Kathy is our office manager, and single-handedly runs our commercial lines.  Stop by our Walden office and say Hi one day, find out why we are the Hudson Valley’s best independent insurance agency!

#employeeappreciationday  #insurelocal  #HudsonValleyAgents