Are You Ready for the Next Step?

No one likes to think about what will happen when they are no longer around or able to make important decisions, but if you are a small business owner, then nothing could be more important for the future of your company. Succession planning is the practice of drawing up a plan for what will happen to your business if you pass away, retire, or become incapacitated. You could leave your business interests to a family member or trusted employee.

Without a clear succession plan, the fate of your company could be left up to the legal system, with ownership contested in a contentious legal battle, and everything you’ve worked to build could be lost. The time to start planning is now: when you can consider your options and make a well-informed decision for the benefit of your business.

Know Your Options

As the owner of your business, you are what is termed a “key person” within the business – someone whose sudden absence could be catastrophic or fatal to the company. Particularly in a small business, one or two people may be responsible for the majority of the operations, with no one else as knowledgeable or qualified to perform the same actions. For this reason, many small businesses are unable to survive the death of their founder(s) or owner(s), and collapse within one generation. If your hope is to create an enterprise that will outlive you, it is time to make succession planning a priority.
One way that more and more businesses are starting to plan ahead is by investing in key person insurance, a type of life insurance where the business itself is the beneficiary in the event of the key person’s death or incapacitation. In the wake of a tragedy, such employee insurance can mean the difference between bankruptcy and the continued survival of the company, by providing the finances to tide the business over during the period of transition. Even if the company is unable to survive in the long run, key person insurance can provide the wherewithal to pay off debts and set the business’s affairs in order before closing down.

Key Person Insurance: Is It Right for Your Business?

If you are unsure whether key person insurance should play a role in your succession planning, ask yourself this question: Who in my business is irreplaceable? If there is any individual without whom you can’t imagine the business surviving, then it may be a good idea to consider purchasing key person insurance for that person.

Only you know what is in the best interest of your company, and only a qualified insurance agent can help you choose the route that best protects those interests. At Stuart Insurance, we are dedicated to looking to the future to protect what you’ve built. As a key player in your business, you take responsibility for its day-to-day operations. Take this step to take responsibility for its future. With agents all over the Palm City, Florida area, we are ready to sit down with you and explore your options, so call us and speak to one of our agents about scheduling a consultation today.

Why Every Contractor Needs Insurance Protection

Contractors face many challenges even when a project is moving ahead as planned. General contractors have contractual obligations and the threat of a financial loss if a construction defect claim is filed. In order to guard against losses associated with injuries or other damages, contractors need the protection provided by a product liability insurance policy.

We live in a litigious world, and there are law firms that make millions by bringing claims against construction professionals, including general contractors, artisans, and specialty contractors. Any project can run into unforeseen problems when something goes wrong and an injury, water damage, or any other incident can result in a lawsuit or claim. Your product liability insurance can save you from financial losses that go far beyond what you could afford out-of-pocket.

Product Defects and Liability for Contractors

Product liability insurance protects you against the responsibility associated with product defects. Any physical item that has been installed in or on a property that was defective, or had design flaws that were not apparent at the time of installation triggers litigation. When a lawsuit is filed, not only will the manufacturer of the product be named, but in most cases, the contractor responsible for installation of the product.

Keep your business healthy by putting the correct policy in place. The level of coverage you need to be protected will be based upon your activities, and the risks associated with those activities. Even if a contractor is not found to be negligent they will likely still be held liable if injuries or damages occur.

While construction contractors are often required to have product liability insurance, the question becomes whether the coverage is adequate and are there better policies available providing better coverage at lower rates?

At Stuart Insurance in Palm City, Florida, we’ll work to help your business get the best coverage possible – at the lowest price. We’re happy to review your current liability insurance policy and offer our professional advice and guidance. 

What Type of Commercial Auto Insurance Do You Need?

Business owners make choices every day to protect the interests of their business. Ensuring that they are covered by the right types of commercial insurance is key in protecting the business when the unexpected occurs.

If your business regularly uses vehicles for deliveries, passenger pickups, or other work-related operations, then you may be vulnerable to lawsuits or costly repairs if something goes wrong. Choosing the commercial auto insurance that is appropriate is a critical point in protecting the financial health of your business.

Minimum coverage requirements for commercial vehicle insurance are set by individual state laws, and are typically more extensive than the requirements for personal vehicle insurance. It may seem obvious that you need commercial auto insurance for a vehicle used exclusively for business purposes, but what about a personal vehicle that may be used in the operation of your business? If you are driving a personal vehicle for commercial reasons and are in an accident, you may be shocked to discover your personal auto insurance will not cover the damages.

Factors Affecting What Type of Insurance You Need

Every business has unique needs for all types of commercial insurance, and car insurance is no exception. Only an agent who is well-versed in this type of insurance can sit down with you and help you determine which coverage will best suit the needs of your business, but these are some factors to keep in mind:

  • The purpose of the vehicle. Whether the vehicle is used for deliveries, transporting goods or passengers, or performing another function (like a snow plow or dump truck) will be a significant determining factor in the type of insurance coverage you will need. Certain features, such as bathrooms, cooking equipment, hydraulic lifts, and other equipment may also necessitate added coverage. Similarly, some vehicles such as tow trucks require their own specific type of insurance.
  • Who owns/drives the vehicle. Are you the sole operator of the vehicle, or do various employees drive it as well? Is the vehicle legally registered to an individual, or to a business, corporation, or partnership? Is it rented or leased to anyone else? Inadequate coverage could leave you liable for someone else’s driving mistakes.
  • Who or what is being transported. If the vehicle is used to transport goods or passengers, you will want to make sure that your insurance protects them in the event of an accident. Rates may be higher if, for example, you transport hazardous materials.
  • Where the vehicle travels. As previously stated, commercial auto insurance laws are set by the state, so if the vehicle stays in state, you’ll only need to worry about your city’s laws. If, however, you cross over state lines, you may be subject to additional laws on a federal level.

At Stuart Insurance, we understand the complexity of commercial liability insurance, and we are determined to help our clients fully understand their options so that they can make the choice that is right for them and their business. We know how much your business matters to you, and we want to help protect you from the unexpected. We proudly serve business owners throughout the Palm City, Florida area, and are happy to set up a consultation at a time that is convenient for you. Contact us today!

Why a Growing Business Needs to Look Into Key Person Insurance

In a small, thriving business, the death of a key employee could cause the business to collapse. It could be an owner, a founder, a key salesperson, or another important player in a growing concern. Life is full of uncertainties. Key person insurance helps protect your business should the unexpected happen.

How Key Person Insurance Works

Key person insurance is life insurance on a key person in the business. The business pays the premiums and the business, not the deceased person’s family, is the beneficiary under the policy. If the insured key person dies unexpectedly, the business receives the payoff. The purpose of this coverage is to help the business survive the loss of a key person who is critical to the success of the enterprise.

Key person insurance can help a growing business avoid bankruptcy should a tragedy occur. The company can use the proceeds from the insurance policy to:

  • Cover expenses until a replacement can be found for the deceased key person
  • Help the business get back up to speed

Or, if necessary, it can be used to:

  • Pay off company debts
  • Distribute funds to investors
  • Pay severance to employees
  • Close the business down in an orderly manner

Does Your Business Need Key Person Insurance?

Most large businesses have a number of experienced executives and employees who can take up the slack when a key person is lost to unexpected death. On the other hand, most small to medium growing businesses rely on a few key individuals to make things work. In many small businesses, the founder is an irreplaceable key person who holds it all together, and without whom business would come to a stop.

To determine if you need key person insurance, take a good look at your business. Does it have certain irreplaceable key people whose contributions are crucial to its success? Without those key people, would the business likely collapse? If so, it would be wise to consider purchasing key person insurance.

How Much Key Person Coverage Does Your Business Need?

The amount of key person insurance to purchase for your business will be determined by balancing the financial needs of your company against the amount of the premiums. As with any other life insurance policy, the greater the face amount, the higher the premiums. Term policies typically have lower premiums than whole or variable life insurance policies.

To gauge the amount of key person insurance to purchase, consider how much it would take for the business to survive until the key person could be replaced and get back on its feet. As a general guideline, buy as much key person insurance as your business can afford.

Shop Around for Key Person Insurance

It pays to shop around for a key person insurance policy. Compare quotes on different policies ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. Our knowledgeable agent at Stuart Insurance in Palm City, Florida can help you find a key person insurance policy that will fit your budget and address the short-term cash needs of your business should the unexpected death of a key person occur.

You or Your Car: Who is Insured?

Auto insurance policies are written in complex legal language and most people will purchase a policy without fully understanding what – or who – is actually covered. So if you get in an accident while driving another person’s car, will your auto insurance policy cover you? What about while you are driving a rental car?

The fact is that each policy is different and typically the liability coverage follows you to any vehicle you are driving – as long as that vehicle is not excluded. Understanding the fine print in your auto insurance policy is important. But unfortunately, most people don’t realize how important until attempting to file a claim.

Comprehensive and Collision Auto Insurance: What’s the Difference?

The comprehensive and collision auto insurance policy will follow your vehicle – not you. If you choose to loan your vehicle to a friend or relative then your auto insurance, in most cases, will remain in force. Even so, there are several situations under which your vehicle may not be covered based upon the terms of your specific policy. Close family are usually covered, but if a family member frequently drives your vehicle, he or she should be listed as a driver on your auto insurance policy. Some auto insurance providers limit the level of coverage for people operating a vehicle who are not listed as drivers on the policy. It is important that you understand your auto insurance coverage before allowing another person to drive your car or other vehicle.

Your current auto insurance policy may or may not  cover you when you are driving a rental car,or will not pay the costs of a rental car if your vehicle is damaged, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Some auto insurance companies require you purchase supplemental insurance for rental vehicles, while other companies cover you in any vehicle, and the policy will clearly state that non-owned vehicles are covered.

Bodily injury coverage typically follows the policy owner, rather than the vehicle. You may want to consider adding PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage to your auto insurance for more protection, as the policy can be written to cover medical expenses and lost wages.

Do You Have Enough Car Insurance Coverage?

What does your auto insurance policy state? At Stuart Insurance in Palm City, Florida, one of our friendly agents would be happy to answer your questions about your auto insurance policy, and what is covered should you be involved in a car accident.

Driving Safety Tips for the Summer in Palm City

Ah, summertime – road trips, family vacations, and … teen drivers. If you have a teen driver in the family, he or she is going to want to drive more than during school days. Keeping everyone safe becomes more of a concern during the summer months. There are thousands of younger drivers on the road, who don’t have extensive driving experience, increasing the risk of an accident.

Driving experience makes a difference. A teen driver may not respond to a sudden road hazard the way a more experienced driver would and are also more prone to error. You can reduce the risks for your teen driver by ensuring he or she understands the types of dangers that come with summer driving.

Be extra careful when driving on congested highways and streets. There are higher numbers of people on the roadways, travelling to vacation spots in cars, SUVs, and RVs. Always drive with extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Highway pileups can be a disaster and are usually the result of drivers following too closely.

Check your tires! The last thing you need is a blowout. It is not only a hassle, it is extremely dangerous if you are travelling at higher speeds on highways. Before heading out on your family vacation, or allowing your teen to get behind the wheel, check to ensure that all four tires are in good shape. During the hot summer months, the air inside the tires expands creating a higher potential for a dangerous tire blowout.

Bicycles and motorcycles are sharing the roadways. All teen drivers must be carefully educated to watch for and avoid bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Road construction – watch for it! Many accidents occur in construction zones. Watch for the cone zones, and teach your teen to slow down, be extra cautious, and follow the speed limits and warnings.

No texting while driving. Teens are attached to their phones, and it can be difficult for them to avoid looking at or sending a text while behind the wheel. Parents have the option of installing safety apps that make it impossible to text while the vehicle is in motion.

Beware of drunk drivers on holidays. Drinking and driving contributes to a high percentage of fatal accidents across the USA. On holidays, the numbers ramp up even higher. Avoid driving during holidays if possible, and if you must be on the road, operate your vehicle with extra caution.

Summer Safe Driving Rules: A “Must” for Teens

Statistically, the summer months lead to higher numbers of auto crashes caused by teen drivers. At Stuart Insurance, we want everyone in our community to stay safe and we are here to help. Do you need to put auto insurance in place to cover a new driver in the family? Talk to us – we always look for the best deals for our clients from the auto insurance policies available. We are happy to review your current insurance and help you find something that gives you better coverage at a lower rate. Call today and speak with us about your auto insurance, and drive safe!

7 Exclusions to Your Typical Life Insurance Plan

Life insurance is one of the most effective ways to ensure your family is protected. Should you suddenly become incapacitated or pass away, life insurance funds can be paid at once to the named beneficiaries without any concern about taxes or delays related to probate. However, when buying a life insurance policy, the one person who truly has your back is your agent.

Every life insurance company and individual policy varies in the terms of the policy, cost, and exclusions. However, the most common exclusions and provisions found in life insurance policies include:

  • Failure to disclose a known health condition. If you buy a life insurance policy and have a health condition that you don’t reveal, the life insurance company has the right to contest the payment of benefits. 
  • Accidental death life insurance policies only cover accidental death, not death from natural causes, illnesses, or diseases. It is advised that you are covered for all eventualities, rather than only accidental death. 
  • Exclusions for illegal or intentional acts. Many policies have an exclusion in which the death benefit will not be paid if you die while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or while committing an illegal act of any type.
  • Death by suicide. This exclusion is generally written to state that if the person commits suicide within the first two years of owning the policy, and if occurs, will pay out only the amount paid in premiums, not the death benefit.
  • Dangerous activities. This exclusion can come into play in cases in which a person dies while engaged in a dangerous activity, such as mountain or rock climbing, racing, etc. If you are an extreme sports enthusiast, make sure you understand the fine print. You may be able to obtain coverage for these activities by paying a higher premium.
  • Aviation. This exclusion means that the insurance company will not pay if the insured person dies in a private plane accident, and only pays for death on a commercial flight.
  • War. Death from acts of war may be excluded in many policies.

Your Life Insurance Agent Can Help

When purchasing the right life insurance policy, get help from one of our friendly local agents at Stuart Insurance in Palm City, Florida. Your policy can be customized to meet your specific requirements and lifestyle choices.

We work closely with each of our clients, and always seek the best coverage at the lowest rates, as well as discuss the policy exclusions, so you know before you go. 

When To Time Your Life Insurance Purchase

Having a young family is the busiest time of life, and raising little ones tends to tie up a majority of the available time and attention. Young parents may forget to consider that putting a term life insurance policy in place is an important matter. Over the younger years, these policies are at their most affordable rates. Protecting your family with term life insurance can bring you peace of mind and security – you can be confident they will be cared for should you suddenly pass away or become incapacitated.

Even the wealthiest people typically have substantial life insurance so that their heirs can gain access to immediate financial support, without adding to the tax burden. For others who may not be wealthy, having the knowledge that they are not leaving their loved ones in a difficult financial position is the inspiration for putting term life insurance in place.

Unfortunately, as we age, our access to low cost term life insurance diminishes, particularly if there are any health issues. In fact, most underwriting companies deny term life insurance coverage to those over 75 years of age, even for applicants who are in good general health.

At Stuart Insurance, we speak to many people who are middle-aged and beyond who are looking for affordable life insurance. Depending on age, we have several options to choose from.

Why do you need life insurance?

The older a person is, the more they pay in term life insurance premiums. Young people often forget to consider the importance of getting term life insurance. In fact, should a young parent pass away, the benefits provided to the family will protect them from financial disaster, particularly when the individual was a breadwinner whose income supported the family.

Not a Senior Yet?

While it is never too late to have life insurance, it is far less expensive to buy term life insurance early on. Young, healthy people have more choices and are attractive customers for insurance companies. Term life insurance during these years is very affordable, and provides substantial benefits. These policies are available for a set number of years at a specific rate.

Deciding on the what term life insurance policy to buy is a hurdle that many people feel ill-equipped to manage. There are many life insurance products available, and at Stuart Insurance we understand that the subject can be confusing, and we are here to help make the process simple.
One of the services we offer at Stuart Insurance is a thorough evaluation our client’s needs now and into the future so that we can recommend the best option in term insurance. At our offices in Palm City, Florida we have agents with many years of experience helping people get life insurance at all phases of life.

If you don’t have life insurance and would like to find out what term policy is the best option for you, a quick call to set up a meeting is all that is needed to start the process. Whether we meet you in Palm City or speak on the phone, we are confident we can help.

Does Your Auto Insurance Cover Air Conditioning?

Driving a car with no A/C can be miserable during the hot summer months, particularly during a heatwave. As important as it is to your comfort and that of your passengers, automotive air conditioning can be expensive to repair or replace when it breaks down or malfunctions.

In many cases, when the A/C malfunctions, it is considered normal wear-and-tear and not covered by auto insurance policies. However, there are certain situations in which insurance coverage may be available for air conditioning damage.

Mechanical Breakdown Insurance

This coverage option is available when you buy a new car. It works in a similar manner as a warranty or extended warranty, although it covers repairs outside the scope of a warranty. The air conditioning system is a mechanical component of the vehicle. Although wear-and-tear in the air conditioning system is not covered by mechanical breakdown insurance, it is likely that manufacturer defects would be covered.

Comprehensive Coverage for A/C Damage

Comprehensive coverage applies to losses other than those incurred in an accident or collision. It covers situations such as theft, vandalism, fire, and floods. If your air conditioning system has been damaged or destroyed as a result of a fire or another event covered under your comprehensive auto insurance, repairs to your A/C may well be covered.

Coverage for Air Conditioning Damage in an Accident

Auto accidents can happen in any number of ways and cause a wide variety of damage to the vehicles involved. Like other mechanical components of an automobile, the air conditioning system can be severely damaged in a collision.

When A/C damage is caused by an accident, it may be possible to file a claim to cover the cost of repairs. The types of auto insurance that cover vehicle damage resulting from an accident include collision, liability, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Liability claims are filed against the driver who caused the accident. If collision or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is used, you will file a claim with your own insurance company, in which case there typically a deductible. If the accident has caused significant damage to your auto A/C exceeding the deductible, it may be well worth filing a claim.

Review Auto Insurance Coverage with Your Insurance Agent

We carry auto insurance to protect ourselves against liability, injuries, and property damage to our vehicles. To ensure you have the adequate coverage for all possible types of losses, it is important to discuss your auto insurance policy with an experienced agent.

Our local agents at Stuart Insurance in Palm City, Florida will be happy to review your auto insurance policy with you. We can help ensure that you have the coverage and policy limits to provide the comprehensive protection you need.

Many different factors affect auto insurance premiums, including age, gender, profession, marital status, location, vehicle age and size, and your driving record. Our agent can help you find the auto insurance coverage you need at the lowest available rates.

The Importance of Key Person Insurance for a Startup

If you are the founder of a startup, chances are that you and your co-founders live and breathe the business, and without you, the enterprise would not exist. That is why key person insurance is essential for your startup.

What Is Key Person Insurance?

Think of it as life insurance for your company. While a regular life insurance policy is designed to compensate the spouse and children of the insured in the event of a fatal or debilitating injury, key person insurance compensates the company when the insured is a key executive or employee. The company pays the premiums on a key person insurance policy, which may be expanded to cover other disabilities, in addition to death or incapacitation.

Why You Need Key Person Insurance for Your Startup

To begin with, many startups need key person insurance as investors require it in the term sheet. Investors want to hedge their bets, and founders of a startup are a crucial component in the success of an investment.

Regardless of what investors require, key person insurance is a critical asset for your startup. The sudden loss of a founder or co-founder could leave your company in a difficult situation, from which it may not easily recover. Compensation from a key person insurance policy could help pull the company through the rough period after a key person is lost and provide the funds needed during the period of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement.
If the company decides to close after the loss of a key person or founder, key person insurance benefits can help pay off debts and investors and provide severance for employees. It gives the company options other than bankruptcy in a tragic situation.

Taking out key person insurance on the team members who make your startup run can have several advantages for your company:

  • It can help replace the loss of a co-founder or key person.
  • It can be used as an asset to improve your company’s creditworthiness.
  • The cash value of the policy may be available as a withdrawal or loan.
  • It can be used to close the company after the loss of a key person.

Key Person Insurance Premiums

The premium your company pays for key person insurance will depend largely on how much insurance coverage you want, and how many co-founders or key persons you choose to insure. The amount of insurance should be based on the key person’s value to the company and on what the business can afford, without taking a toll on other areas. A value of a key person to the company can be calculated several different ways, including the cost of replacement or the percentage of overall income the key person contributes to the business.

The premium for each key person will based on an insurance agent’s appraisal of that person, taking into consideration factors such as age, current health, health history, and salary. Our agent at Stuart Insurancein Palm City, Florida can help ensure that you have the right amount of key person insurance for your startup.