Protect Yourself: Tips for Entrepreneurs & Franchise Owners

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LA-based Gaspar Insurance offers insider tips to small business owners on how to best protect their assets and their organization while saving money.

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Bottom line, when starting a new business discuss potential policies with your agent and understand what you are getting

Starting a new business involves risk, which is why many entrepreneurs buy into established franchise brands -- they get instant name recognition and a pre-established business plan. Los Angeles-based Gaspar Insurance, which is the exclusive insurance provider for several major franchise chains, has drafted a new business owner checklist to help entrepreneurs and franchise owners.

"We provide all-inclusive insurance packages to a variety of local and national businesses, both franchise and otherwise, and even the sharpest business people often don't know how to protect their own business," says Timothy Gaspar. "From frozen yogurt chains to global import/export companies, modern businesses face incredible challenges in today's risky economy and litigious society. It pays to learn what options are available for business owners."

1. EPLI: Your employee sues you for harassment even though it's totally unfounded, are you covered? Unless you have EPLI (employment practices liability insurance) probably not. EPLI Insurance protects you from lawsuits from employees arising from sexual harassment, wrongful termination, wage & hour disputes, discrimination, etc. Even a totally unfounded lawsuit can cost $40,000 or more to defend. Coverage can be standalone or an add on to your business insurance policy and premiums run from $300 to several thousand dollars depending on your industry and number of employees.

2. On the Road: Do you ever send your cashier to the bank or your receptionist to the office supply store? If your employee gets into an accident while running an errand, the business owner is liable. Make sure your business insurance includes non owned and hired auto insurance under your liability. This coverage is very inexpensive (around $100 a year) and well worth it.

3. The Standard: If you find yourself saying "My employees are all 1099, I don't need workers compensation," think again. Unless your independent contractors have their own workers compensation coverage, you need to have workers comp. Most states also levy serious fines for going without this coverage - so don't skip it.

4. Import/Export: Many policies limit coverage of your property while it's outside your business location, particularly if that property is outside the U.S. If your business ships goods to customers or if you regularly have supplies shipped to you, Ocean/Marine & Transit Coverage is something to think about.

5. Partnership Protection: Many small businesses are partnerships between friends or family. Often times one person puts up the capital while the other provides the inspiration for the business. If something happens to either party, the business is in serious jeopardy. With any business partnership involving two or more people, life insurance is a must.

6. Deadbeat Insurance?: Believe it or not, you can insure against deadbeat clients. This insurance covers you for clients that don't pay their bills, stiff you or skip out of town on a bill. There is a catch though, generally the insurance carrier will have oversight on who you extend credit to. Vendors that have shaky credit or less than stellar financials may not pass muster, but in those cases you probably wouldn't want to extend credit to them anyway.

"Bottom line, when starting a new business discuss potential policies with your agent and understand what you are getting," Gaspar says. "Price is important but don't skimp on your coverage, you'll pay much more later."

Timothy Gaspar Insurance Services brings creative protection solutions to Los Angeles residents and business owners. Specialties include casualty and property insurance, estate and collectibles coverage, identity theft protection, even kidnap/ransom policies. For more information, please contact Timothy Gaspar Insurance Services, 6345 Balboa Blvd. #290 Encino, CA 91316, or call (818) 609-7575 ext. 260.

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