‘Green’ Upgrades May Mean Checking Your Coverage
As Kermit the Frog once said, “It’s not easy being green.” Despite many obvious advantages to the greening of your commercial space, green upgrades may mean your current insurance coverage could be insufficient in the event of a loss.
Over the last few years, green building improvements have continued to help building owners cut costs. A number of corporations across the US have installed vegetative roof systems in their buildings and have benefited from the shading and cooling properties that reduce energy consumption.
Experts predict the green market will double over the next few years. As quoted by EarthShare, a 2011 study by MIT indicated that sustainability is now on the agendas of 70 percent of the country’s corporations. In response, insurance carriers now offer coverage options for these growing green initiatives.
Some coverages for green initiatives that have been or are being developed are:
- Coverage to replace normal HVAC systems with green systems upon loss.
- Coverage for the installation of alternative plumbing systems for reduced water consumption.
- Coverage for the use of materials that emit fewer indoor air contaminants.
- Coverage for the cost of recycling building materials after a loss.
- Coverage for increased business interruption after a loss due to longer construction periods required for green rebuilds.
Discuss your green coverage – before you suffer a loss – with your advisor, who can suggest options.
Brain Training is Big Business, But do we Need it?
You may not know much about brain training, but you’ve probably heard of Lumosity, an online brain-training site that promises to improve your brain for under $100 a year.
Lumosity is not alone; these days brain training is big business, estimated to become a $3 billion industry by 2015. Brain-training software is targeting companies, individuals – even children. As Dr. Gregory Bayer, CEO of Brain Resource, says: “the brain, we’re finding out, is much like muscles in the body. If you exercise it, it gets better.”
Busy entrepreneurs might think that brain training will help them focus. And indeed it might. Brain games are widely believed to stimulate neuroplasticity by encouraging neurons to work more effectively and efficiently through creating new connections. This is the sort of activity an adult brain needs to stay sharp; however, sharpness can also be achieved through keeping your brain fit. You don’t need a program to do it; you just need to start using your brain.
In a recent article on Entrepreneur.com, author Nadia Goodman quotes David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work. Rock suggests that while multitasking is a vital skill, “it reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ.” He recommends 20 minutes a day of concentrated focus to help overcome the distractions that are part of every entrepreneur’s daily life.
If, as author Goodman suggests, we come to an understanding of our brain’s limitations and learn to work around them, it’s unlikely we’ll need brain games to improve our productivity.
Companies Still Need Brick and Mortar ‘Motherships’
Even though companies are finding abundant benefits in shifting to telecommuting and mobile-friendly office environments, many are still seeing value in maintaining a physical presence; with CEOs such as Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, who recently banned working from home, we’re far from seeing the end of bricks and mortar.
In today’s economy, the last thing you want is for your customers to think you’ve called it quits. Yet that’s exactly the message you risk communicating if you shift entirely off-site. And while a loosely connected company of creatives may be able to get away with working from anywhere, most robust companies need to come together at a “mothership” – the new slang for company headquarters.
However small, having a central HQ lets the public know you exist: It offers a stable place for collaboration and creates a brand-reinforcing space for clients.
Many forward-thinking companies are also using their bricks and mortar after hours to host community events; this gives them another way to get people through the door and demonstrate what the organization does during its working hours – something that obviously won’t work for virtual companies.
In fact, the ideal arrangement may be a marriage of old and new. With bricks and mortar still a necessity, studies show employers are modifying – not getting rid of – their office spaces.
By becoming more flexible, companies are reducing resource consumption and desk space. By 2020, office space will decline by 17 percent, with a 7 to10 ratio of desks to workers. But the “mothership” will still be there.
CGL Policies Offer Business Owners Peace of Mind
A commercial general liability policy (CGL) provides coverage for bodily injury to a person, or damage to the property of others caused by a company’s negligence. Although you never think it will happen to you, damage caused by negligence does happen, and it’s something you should prepare for.
Effectively, your CGL offers broad coverage and peace of mind. If you read an insuring agreement – which is at the heart of the CGL policy – it says: “We will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as compensatory damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ to which this insurance applies.”
But your coverage doesn’t end there: Your CGL also covers personal injury liability, including libel and slander, as well as advertising injury, a very important addition for many businesses.
For the last several years, courts have repeatedly ruled that the CGL policy is not a performance bond.
This means that a CGL policy does not cover the quality of a company’s advice or services. As a result, a business owner is less likely to low-bid a job and perform poorly, because the owner is not able to rely on an insurance carrier to assume that risk.
Following are several factors you should be aware of when deciding if your company needs CGL cover:
A few of many business exposures covered under CGL:
- Additional insured coverage when you sign agreements or contracts.
- Premises and operations liability for persons injured or items damaged while on your premises, or due to your business operations.
- Tenant’s liability, which protects tenants in the event they damage someone else’s property. For example, they accidentally start a fire in rented premises.
Benefits of having CGL cover:
- A legal defense for covered claims.
- Payment of bonds and court costs associated with a claim.
- Limited financial remuneration when assisting the carrier in the defense of a claim.
There are exclusions under CGL cover, but understanding all of them can be tricky. Forms differ, and different jurisdictions render very diverse opinions. Here, however, are some general exclusions:
- Intentional injury is excluded. Generally, there is coverage if you act in self-defense.
- Loss of property owned by others in your care, custody and control is excluded. If you repair equipment such as computers, you may need additional bailee coverage (protecting individuals who, with the approval the property’s owner, have temporary possession of someone else’s property.)
- Faulty workmanship is excluded.
- Liability arising from an aircraft, auto or watercraft is excluded. However, entrusting an automobile to a negligent employee may trigger coverage, depending on the coverage form and the jurisdiction.
- Perhaps most importantly, CGL cover excludes losses arising out of your employees’ injuries.
While the CGL policy offers broad coverage, it may not protect all your company’s exposures as your business grows, particularly when you begin to hire employees. For assistance in selecting the right policy for your business, contact your advisor.