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INSURANCE
Commercial Insurance Rates: Are They on the Rise?
Our property values are slowly increasing after the recession. Our grocery bills seem to be increasing rapidly. Gas prices are in constant flux. So do you need to worry about insurance rates? The answer is not yet. While commercial insurance prices in the U.S. increased 1 percent in the second quarter of 2015 (the most recent information available) they're generally trending downward.

The Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey (CLIPS), by consultant Towers Watson & Co., reveals low-single-digit increases in most lines, and decreases for some. This survey compared the second quarter of 2015 with coverage during the same period of 2014.

The most recent Global Insurance Market Quarterly Briefing by insurer Marsh shows a continued global decline in commercial insurance rates. As of the second quarter of 2015, Marsh reports that nine consecutive quarters have shown overall rate declines. The highest increases in the Towers Watson survey were seen in commercial automobile coverage and employment practice liability. Small decreases were actually reported in directors and officers liability and commercial property insurance. Workers' compensation pricing remained nearly steady; however, some larger workers' compensation accounts have recently experienced the first price increases in five years.

Indications point to a downward trend in prices. As noted in Insurance Journal, the Marsh study suggests that "globally, natural catastrophe losses are at historic lows, which is helping profitability but also reducing the drive for rate increases." It appears business owners can, for the moment, dismiss worries about increasing insurance rates and focus their bottom-line concerns on other areas.
Pets Are Family: Do You Insure Them Like Family?

You insure your car. You insure your house. You insure your life. But should you insure your pet? Fluffy may feel like part of the family, but is pet insurance really necessary?
In some cases, it may be worthwhile. In 2014, Americans spent over $2 billion in pet purchases and $15 billion on vet care. For those with high-maintenance or high-value animals, insurance could be a wise investment. The market currently offers several types of pet insurance. Consider your furry family members and decide if these policies meet your (and their) needs.
Health insurance
Similar to human health insurance, these policies include premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Also like people insurance, the cost varies based on the animal's age and health and the level of insurance purchased.
Life and theft insurance
Intended primarily for exotic animals, this coverage reimburses owners for stolen animals and pays benefits upon death. It's commonly held by zoos and owners of high-value animals such as championship racehorses or police dogs.
Homeowners and renters insurance
Standard homeowners and renters policies offer protection for pet owners. Depending on your situation, customization may be necessary to provide the coverage you need.
Liability Protection - If your dog bites someone, this coverage will kick in. However, if he or she has a history of biting, or is classified as a dangerous breed, limitations may be placed on policy coverage. In these cases, you may need to purchase a separate liability policy specifically for your pet.
Personal Property - Pet accessories can be pricey. Large cages or other accessories for bigger animals can be especially expensive. Keep in mind that these fall under the personal property coverage of your homeowners or renters policy. If Clifford's dog house or Morris's "gold" collar is damaged or stolen, you should be reimbursed. But check to be sure you don't need a special rider for that collar.

 

HOT BIZ TRENDS
Unleashing Employees' Creativity One Brick at a Time
Lego
Today's top employers are keen to find new ways to inspire out-of-the-box thinking and stimulate the kind of creativity that will encourage innovation.

One approach is LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, which was developed by LEGO with the goal of tapping the creative ideas and imagination that reside within the minds of a company's employees. It uses the group process, facilitators ...and LEGO blocks.

Of course, children have long found that LEGO blocks challenge their abilities and stimulate their imaginations. Now LEGOs are being used in board rooms rather than playrooms to stimulate employee creativity and assist with team building, problem solving, product development, and process improvement.

The approach is based on research that suggests hands-on/minds-on learning engages the imagination more readily; produces deeper, more meaningful insights; and opens the mind to new possibilities. The concept is based on research in three areas:
  • Play, which involves using the hands and body while the mind is unplugged.
  • Constructionism theory, which suggests that constructing an external object (building a sand castle, developing a computer program, writing a book) stimulates learning.
  • Strategic imagination, which is thought to be the source of original ideas, strategies, and approaches.
Essentially the hands find a solution that the mind isn't able to uncover on its own. Participants in LEGO SERIOUS PLAY work through scenarios using three-dimensional constructions. In the process, they often discover things they didn't know they knew.

According to one manager quoted in Quartz online, "People don't come away from LEGO SERIOUS PLAY unmoved."
TECHNOLOGY
Your Standing Desk Makes You Ache: What Would George Do?
Leg Excersize
If you're a devotee of standing desks, you may want to take a hint from Seinfeld's George Costanza and lie down on the job. At least for part of the time.

"The way the human spine is designed, we're not quite designed to be completely erect," points out Dr. Jason Freedman, an orthopedic specialist quoted in a CBSNews.com article on rethinking standing desks. While standing is easier on the body than sitting, standing for long periods of time still causes pain in the lower back, legs, and feet.

What to do? Consider "doing a George Costanza" and have a bed built into your desk. In a popular episode from the hit TV series, George wanted badly to nap on the job. Of course, the results were seriously funny, but at least one person took it, well, seriously.

Athanasia Leivaditou of NL Studio may have developed the perfect solution for today's 24-hour-a-day workers: the 1.6 S.M. of Life Desk. This attractive workspace does double duty - as many furniture pieces must when our work and living areas are shrinking - it breaks down into a bed. The piece is not yet available for sale, but CityLab writer John Metcalfe suggests DIYers should be able to duplicate it from pictures.

The health issues surrounding sitting or standing for too long are serious. Just as experts suggest sitting workers should break regularly, the answer for standing-desk fatigue may be to take breaks by shifting back and forth between sitting and standing. One expert recommends purchasing an adjustable desk to facilitate this.

And while this hybrid may not be as funny as George Costanza's desk/bed, it still may go a long way toward making our long workdays physically tolerable.
INSURANCE
Be One of the 35 Percent of Businesses That Survive a Fire
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 65 percent of businesses that experience disaster close their doors within one year of the event. Fire is not a rare occurrence. It's a genuine threat to your property. Are you taking the proper steps to protect your business from fire?

You can greatly reduce your risk of fire devastating your business by avoiding fire code violations and maintaining proper preventive measures. To keep your business out of the flames, ensure you are:

Following fire code measures such as:
  • Ensuring all exits are accessible. Don't block or lock. These should also be well marked, particularly the paths to exits.
  • Having an adequate number of fire extinguishers on hand. Check and service them regularly.
  • Limiting the use of extension cords; they're supposed to be temporary solutions, not permanent installations. They also pose tripping hazards for your workers. Generally, they're not a great idea.
  • Storing flammable liquids and hazardous materials properly or, better yet, getting them off your property entirely, if that's possible.
And taking preventive measures, including:
  • Asking a fire marshal or property manager familiar with fire codes to inspect your property and point out potential hazards as well as ways to increase your fire protection.
  • Having and properly maintaining fire extinguishers and smoke detectors and installing a sprinkler system. A sprinkler could save your business; it also will reduce your insurance rates.
  • Preparing ahead. Do your employees know what to do in the event of a fire? Regular fire drills ensure everyone will be prepared.
  • Posting evacuation routes as part of your fire plan.
  • Ensuring first aid kits are available in high-risk locations, such as kitchens. They must be easily accessible and regularly restocked.
You'll need the right insurance: It's important to cover not only the damage to your building and machinery, but your loss of business as well.

You'll need commercial property insurance, which covers structural and equipment damage as well as the cost of rebuilding, and commercial casualty insurance, which covers the loss of revenue while your business is closed. Pay close attention to limits noted in your coverage; you may need umbrella insurance or additional riders to cover specific valuables. Finally, ensure your coverage is sufficient in the event you need to relocate or close temporarily, and as a result, will need to file a business interruption insurance claim.

It's important to discuss any changes in your commercial insurance with a commercial insurance professional who has experience in your industry. Nothing could be more important to your business's survival than the right policy with the correct limits that will provide you with the coverage that's appropriate to your particular situation. A commercial agent who is familiar with the industry, and with your specific circumstances, is best able to advise you on the right coverage. Be sure your company remains in the 35 percent of businesses that can face disaster and survive. Your business depends on it.
~Alex Hastings~
Hastings Insurance Solutions LLC
~Guide One~


872 Tanglefoot Ln
Bettendorf IA 52722

563-355-0262 Office
641-494-9494 Cell
855-355-0262 Fax
www.HastingsInsuranceSolutions.com
ExpertInsuranceSolutions@gmail.com
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What is NASA's solar powered Opportunity Mars rover doing so it can spend the winter on the planet?
Worth Reading
What No One Ever Tells You About Being the Boss
By Jeff Haden
LinkedIn

People assume you don't have a boss when you're a CEO, but you actually have many: board members, investors, employees, and customers. As CEO, everything you do is under a microscope.It's a tough job, suggests Haden, but it's also the best job.

20 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Your Decisions
By Samantha Lee and Shana Lebowitz


Business Insider

You probably think you make rational decisions every day. But research suggests there are cognitive stumbling blocks that often prevent peoplefrom actingin theirown best interests. According to Lee and Lebowitz, these stumbling blocks include the blind-spot bias, the bandwagon effect, and the ostrich effect of ignoring negative or dangerous information.

How You Can Take a Vacation Without Your Business Falling Apart
By David and Carrie McKeegan

Entrepreneur.com

Getting away is hard for workaholic entrepreneurs. The McKeegans offer tips so you can relax while vacationing: plan carefully and communicate your schedule in advance; delegate responsibilities and decision-making authority; and make sure every project has a proxy. Of course, it helps to have a competent backup team that you can trust and rely on.
LINKS YOU CAN USE
This Month: Become a Great Negotiator
Among the many skills a business owner needs, the ability to be a strong negotiator is key. If you aren't the negotiator you'd like to be, check out the following tools to sharpen your skills.

5 Simple Steps To Better Negotiating

Negotiation is a problem-solving process; by viewing it as a fight, you both will be missing opportunities for creative solutions.

Become A Great Negotiator

Get psychology on your side.

7 Ways to Be a Better Negotiator

Female business owners have special skills as well as special challenges in negotiating. This article describes negotiation tactics that are particularly useful for women, and why they work.

Attributes of a Professional Negotiator

Real estate professionals' great negotiating skills can be used by anyone. This is because professional negotiators possess several common attributes.
Wisdom Quotes
Quotes on...Consumer Behavior
Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.

Stanley Marcus

Consumers want products that tell stories, have magic, and inspire.

Yves Behar

People's behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives.

Thomas Mann

Neoclassical economics insists that advertising cannot force consumers to buy anything they don't already want to buy.

Christopher Lasch
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.
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