One of the benefits of being part of a Chamber is having access to professional resources to help you with important business matters. In this piece, we have two Chamber member insurance professionals (Laura Baron and Tabitha Pennington) to provide some helpful tips for your business and how to be proactive should you have an incident related to theft or vandalism (which hopefully you will not). You should always consult with an insurance professional to advise on your specific situation and business needs.
Q: What are the differences between burglary, theft, and vandalism?
Laura: Burglary is the act of entering a property illegally with the intent of breaking a law i.e., trespassing, breaking, and entering. This could be an act of burglary in order to steal from the property, to illegally dwell there, or to vandalize property. Theft or robbery is a criminal act in which a person takes someone else’s property without permission. Burglary and theft may go hand-in-hand or theft can occur without burglary and vice versa. Vandalism is the purposeful and malicious destruction of property by someone who does not own the property, sometimes referred to as malicious mischief or malicious trespassing. These incidents can be tied together or entirely separate.
Q: Doesn’t my business insurance coverage already cover theft or vandalism?
Tabitha: That’s a big question. The best thing to do is to talk to your agent. Find out what’s covered. There may be property coverage as part of your commercial package insurance policy or your business owners policy may include malicious mischief, vandalism and theft coverages. Also, it’s important to go over the endorsements of a policy with the agent. This way you know what you have or should have.
Laura: You may have coverage that was required as a condition of your lease agreement. Make sure that your insurance agent is aware of your lease obligations and requirements. If your agent hasn’t seen your lease agreement it’s a good time to have them review it.
Q: What if I’m not leasing but I own the building where my business is located?
Laura: If you’re the owner of the building or responsible on a triple net lease, talk to your agent about building property coverage also known as “real property” and ask them what is covered for the “real” property and what’s covered for business personal property. This should be a quick and easy review to be sure that your coverage includes malicious mischief, vandalism and theft.
Q: Do I have to install cameras or alarms to be covered for any theft or vandalism?
Tabitha: It’s important to ask your agent about any “safeguard requirements” which may be required as a condition of coverage. Your policy may require you to have cameras, alarms or other measures in place based on a number of factors about your business which could include the age of the building, its location or other factors.
Laura: From a risk management perspective, it’s good practice to have certain safeguards in place such as proper lighting, cameras, alarms, visibility of cameras, removing blind spots, good housekeeping, gates, locks, fences, signage, security controls especially when it comes to handling cash, cash boxes and any routines associated with employees handling money. Be sure to implement safety training with employees and management as it relates to your day to day exposures.
Q: What should I do if there’s been a burglary, theft or vandalism at my business?
Tabitha: First, contact the Sheriff or Police and make sure that everyone is safe. Secure your premises and business from further loss. Then contact your insurance agent. The agent will help you assess if a vandalism/theft claim is worthwhile before you contact the insurance company to make sure it is covered.
Laura: Document the incident with notes and pictures. Video of the area and surveillance camera footage is also good. When you speak with your agent, ask them about safety hazards that would further expose your business to loss or liability and make sure you know what is covered over the deductible. A police report will need to go to the insurance company for any claims but Your agent should advise you.
Q: How often do I need to check-in with my insurance agent?
Laura: It’s a good idea to talk with your agent consistently during the year especially if you’ve grown or added to your business offerings. Or if you have concerns that you want to be sure you have coverage for. Our role as agents is to make sure that you have peace of mind and we can offer help to put your business in a better position should you have a loss.
Tabitha: Yes. Don’t just assume that paying your renewal insurance has you covered. It should be an open communication and active relationship with your agent. I suggest that if you haven’t heard from your agent in awhile, you should reach out to them at the beginning and end of the year to check in and review your business policy and coverage. Things may have changed in your business since you bought your policy and your business needs may be different. We know business owners are busy but we’re here to help, always.