The basics Business Insurance: What you need to know to manage your risk


managing riskAny new or existing business needs to factor the costs of business insurance into the planning process – it’s a vital mechanism for managing risks and planning for adversity. Some coverages are optional while others, like workers’ comp, are mandated by law.

There’s a great primer on business insurance that appeared in the Boston Globe this week, sponsored by Rockland Trust and written by Wayne Taylor: First rule of insurance: don’t run the risk of being unprotected. Taylor notes: “For a small or medium-sized business, not being protected for uncovered losses could mean the difference between survival and failure.”

The article offers a good overview of business insurance basics, as well as coverages that are unique to specific industries.

We’re delighted that the article includes commentary from one of our Renaissance Alliance members:

“Many small businesses have a unique set of risk exposures that larger businesses don’t always have,” said W. Jeffrey Helm, president and founder of Atlantic Advisors Insurance Agency, Inc., in Norwell. “Often the small business owner is the one who is emptying the waste baskets and booting up the computers in the morning, as well as making sales calls and strategic operating decisions.

“What happens if this key player gets injured or falls ill? The company may not yet have a lot of savings in the bank, nor access to a large line of credit. Having disability coverage, for example, or business overhead expense insurance can help provide a temporary income stream so that the business continues to operate and meet its financial obligations.”

The article suggest brushing up on “the language of insurance” and finding professional guidance. Here are two excellent resources learning more about insurance.

As for a business insurance advisor – if your business is in New England, you can’t do better than a Renaissance Alliance independent insurance agency member – fine one near you!

Insurance & the Academy Awards


movie film reel and popcornWhile insurance doesn’t feature too prominently in any of this year’s Academy Award nominees, Tom Hanks does star as an insurance lawyer in Bridge of Spies. There’s a lot of competition this year so although it’s nominated in several categories, it isn’t heavily favorited on most critics’ lists.

Even when insurance doesn’t play prominently in the script, it is a vital behind-the-scenes component of any film. The Insurance Information Institute weighs in with The Role Insurance Plays in Movies. You can also see our prior post on Behind the scenes: the film industry is risky business. Speaking of risk, one film that elicited a fair amount of criticism: ‘Revenant’ Shoot Didn’t Take Crew’s Safety Issues “Seriously,” Says Union Rep. Actor and crew safety has been on the minds of many since the 2014 – see: Death on a Georgia Railroad Trestle Sparking Calls for Safety Reforms in Hollywood.

Insurance & the Movies

If you just can’t get enough of insurance-themed films, here are some suggestions:

And for those of you who’d like a deeper diver into the behind-the-scenes business of insurance, risk management & the movies, here’s a reading list:

Security cameras turn the tables on taco thieves


If you skipped stories about robberies in California over the holidays, you probably missed a hilarious video showing how a Los Angeles area Taco shop is biting back at crime. It all started with a late-night break in at Frijoles & Frescas restaurant on December 16. Thieves threw a rock through the window to break in, ransack the place and make off with the registers. This was all depicted on security camera videos.

Clever owners Alberto and Francisco used this footage to create the following clip which has racked up more than 4 million views. See for yourself why it went viral.

It’s satisfying that they mocked the burglars while doing a fun self-promo, and it’s also a clever way to get the thieves’ images out in public. The perpetrators haven’t been found yet, but here’s hoping. Meanwhile, reports say that Frijoles & Frescas is seeing increased demand for their tacos!

Small food service shops and retailers like Frijoles & Frescas are generally covered for theft and robberies under BOP insurance or Business Owners Policies. But security cameras are a good idea, too – they help to deter crime and in the event that a crime does occur, can provide valuable information to help track down the criminals.

Here are a few resources to learn more about business security cams.

How to Deploy IP Cameras in Your Small Business

Setting Up a Security System For Your Small Business

Don’t let a valuable collection go up in smoke: Talk to your agent about insurance


Comic book big explosionAre you a collector? If you’ve amassed a significant collection, you may want to have its value appraised and consider adding specialty coverage or an endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy. Whether your collection is fine antiques, stamps, musical instruments, vintage costume jewelry or comic books, it can amass in value. You should talk over your collection with your insurance agent and see if it makes sense to protect your investment.

Take comic books. Vintage comics that were bought for mere pennies in the last century are now valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A few prized comic editions have even reached into the millions at auctions.

This PropertyCasualty360 video is a case in point. Shawn Moynihan interviews Vincent Zurzolo, COO and co-founder of Metropolis Collectibles, a large and respected rare comic book dealer. It’s interesting from several perspectives: as a business case study of a fascinating niche business, as a discussion of commercial risk management, and also in the lessons it offers to personal hobbyists and collectors about protecting investments.

Zurzola shares interesting information about Metropolis Collectibles’ huge comics collection and the risk management steps they take for protection. He also has a few words for personal collectors. He says that just the way you protect the investment in your home or car by having insurance, you should protect your valuable collections too. He says, “… collectors feel like they are insured through their homeowners insurance policies sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not and finding out when its too too late is a tragedy.” He shares a cautionary story about an uninsured client who lost a valuable collection in Hurricane Sandy. He also notes that because collectibles frequently increase and decrease in value, it’s a good idea to do an annual review every year when insurance policies are up for review. He suggests that if you can’t evaluate your collection yourself, seek the help of an expert.

Behind the scenes: the film industry is risky business


Insuring FilmsWhen the Academy Awards take place this weekend, it’s unlikely that any of the winning actors or producers will be thanking their insurers from the podium – yet insurance is a vital behind-the-scenes component in the business of making successful films. It’s one of the key factors in ensuring that “the show must go on.”

At a film industry event last year, a Lloyds’ panel spoke about insuring film and television productions, noting that the industry requires insurance to protect against production delays, damaged equipment, accidents and natural disasters, to name a few common risks. Lloyds’ panelists identified the biggest risk:

“The majority of claims come from cast or crew non-appearance, according to Elliot. The financial cost of losing a lead actor or director can be enormous. Elliot cites the case of a film production in Europe where the director suffered an illness during the production and post-production phases resulting in an insurance claim of around $2.3m.”

At Fireman’s Fund Insurance 150-year mark, Richard Verrier of the Los Angeles Times looked at the insurer’s century of work in the film industry, and how the company helped keep the cameras rolling.

“Fireman’s Fund covers about 80% to 85% of the $200 million or more in policies Hollywood spends each year to insure movies and TV shows. Premiums range from 1% to 4% of a movie’s budget, meaning that a $200-million movie may spend at least $2 million on insurance coverage.”

The company said that in 2012, the average claim paid to a film or TV producer in 2012 was $60,651, But some were substantially more:

“When Audrey Hepburn fell from a horse while making “The Unforgiven,” her resulting back injury delayed filming of the 1960 John Houston movie. Fireman’s Fund paid more than $240,000 to cover the losses.

“Spartacus” was more costly for the insurer, which paid $245,000 for delays caused by an emergency operation for actress Jean Simmons, $53,000 for star Kirk Douglas’ viral infection and $335,000 for co-star Tony Curtis’ severed Achilles tendon.

But its most expensive claim was for “Wagons East.” Fireman’s Fund paid about $15 million when star John Candy died in 1994 during production in Durango, Mexico.

The insurer paid a $7-million claim after Patrick Swayze fell off a horse and broke his legs during filming of the 1998 crime movie “Letters From a Killer,” Diaz said.”

Enjoy the Academy Awards this weekend. Insurance nerds who miss the recognition of the behind-the-scenes role their industry plays might enjoy some of these insurance related films: