Category: Business insurance

ERISA

ERISA: Understand How It May Affect Your Benefits

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was enacted solely for the protection of employees and all promised to them from their employers regarding employment. Over the years that has expanded to health plans and other benefits too. According to the United States Department of Labor, ERISA currently covers approximately 684,000 retirement plans, 2.4 million health plans, and 2.4 million additional welfare benefit plans—affecting 141 million workers in the US, with over $7.6 trillion in assets.

Just over half of the employees in our country are being offered retirement and/or health benefits as ERISA is meant to work on their behalf in seeing that pension plans and other benefits are handled responsibly by employers and fiduciaries. If you have a retirement plan or other benefits at the company you work for, ERISA protection should affect you positively as those you work for are held to particular standards in terms of making sure that you not only receive what you were promised, but that they also are completely open in allowing you access to your plans and all that is involved within them.

“More than half of America’s workers earn health benefits on the job, and ERISA protects those too, as well as other employee benefits,” states the United States Department of Labor.

Through ERISA, employers are required to make sure employees are apprised of their benefit plans. ERISA administration also makes the rules regarding items such as:

  • Plan participation for employees
  • Vesting details
  • How benefits accumulate
  • Funding procedures

Accountability regarding fiduciaries is also one of the main requirements issued by ERISA – harkening back to the administration’s original mission to make sure companies do not mismanage plans, leaving employees with little to nothing – or even worse, embezzling money that was supposed to be set aside for pensions and more. There are strict penalties if ‘principles of conduct’ are not followed, meaning that they would have to pay back any lost plan funds. Employees are also imbued with the power to sue over such issues, along with the possibility of being paid through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation if a plan is discontinued.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, you may have numerous questions about the complexities of ERISA and how it applies to you. If your benefit plan has been disrupted or denied, you may also need skilled legal advice form a law firm experienced in both insurance law and business law.

Contact the Bolender Law Firm. If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on your behalf through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

separation of insureds

Separation of Insureds Clause & How It May Affect You

Let’s face it: the insurance policy is not exciting reading, and many of us overlook it despite the importance such facts (and choices) could play in our future later–with terms like separation of insureds being a perfect example. Filled with legal jargon and long paragraphs that seem to take forever to get to the point, you may find yourself taking a snooze when looking over your policy. It is a critical legal contract though, and one that could affect you and your finances enormously in the future, should the need to file a claim arise. Be sure to understand who and what are covered and for how much, peruse information regarding changes and renewals, and read over any enhancements, riders, or special clauses.

Separation of Insureds Protects Multiple Individuals

The separation of insureds clause may seem complex to understand at first, but basically it means if there are multiple people being insured on the policy, they are each protected separately within the claim. The point is who is being sued, not where the lawsuit is emanating from—as additional insureds are taken care of within your commercial general liability policy. Also known as the severability of interest clause, this part of your commercial policy should state that all provisions will apply to everyone listed under your policy.

Know What Coverage is Required for Your Business

While your coverages for business insurance may vary, California does require you to carry workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Comprised of property and casualty insurance, the commercial policy is meant to cover all the physical aspects of your business as well as liability for any harm that may come to you or third parties due to an accident or other injury. Aside from what is required by the state, the rest is up to you and should be discussed at length with your insurance agent. Getting informed about your options and making sure your business is completely covered is vital to your future, as well as those who continue to work for you and may be protected through your policy. You may also need to add more insurance coverage as your business continues to grow over the year. Be sure to review your policies at least once a year and discuss any potential changes with your insurance agent.

Contact Us for Help Now

Are you concerned about a recent claim, or are you trying to understand your insurance policy? If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, the Bolender Law Firm will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

 

claims made

Claims Made Policy: Consider This Before Terminating

While the insurance industry gets a bad rap—and sadly all too often with good reason—you probably usually feel good about knowing you have coverage in place in case something goes wrong, resulting not only in injury but sometimes opening you up to enormous liability too. There is also the possibility that expenses for such a loss could be catastrophic to your finances. Because of that, most of us are relieved to have insurance and the accompanying peace of mind, despite high premiums and the long list of complexities that accompany many policies.

Getting educated about what you need is critical. Although your insurance agent may be able to explain all the details to you, researching different types of coverage and features included in varying policies will benefit you greatly; for example, you may not understand the differences between the occurrence policy and the claims-made policy. The occurrence policy protects you with coverage even if a claim is made later after your policy has been terminated—as long as the claim is regarding an incident that occurred while your policy was in force.

And although you may be tempted to cancel your claims-made policy due to issues such as the need for broader coverage or better service from your insurance company, keep in mind that there are benefits to the claims-made policy that you may miss out on later; for instance, although the claims-made policy usually states that any claim must have happened during the time the policy was in effect only, there is exception to this with the extended reporting period.

Commonly referred to in the insurance industry as a ‘tail,’ you can purchase an ERP as an endorsement with your policy that may last anywhere from one to five years, or sometimes even as long as ten—and although it may be more expensive than the basic policy, it can be extremely effective for professionals like doctors in the case that a malpractice suit or other claims are brought forth after the policy expires. The ERP may also be referred to as optional or supplemental or be listed as a ‘discovery period.’ They may also be included in your original policy, but only for the very short term such as 30 to 60 days.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm. If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

business owners

Business Owners: Are You Covered for Workplace Injuries?

No matter what type of business you own, there is always the possibility of an injury in the workplace. While some sites are more prone to one or more of your team having an accident over the years while they work for you—whether you oversee a large construction crew, operate a restaurant, or any other type of company—it is critical that you have sufficient worker’s compensation insurance; and in fact, it is the law in California according to California Labor Code Section 3700.

Many different types of accidents can occur, and employees may be out of work for a range of different time periods—receiving either temporary or even permanent disability. The most common injuries that result in payments from workers’ compensation tend to be strains; for example, employees may pick up boxes or other materials at work that are too heavy and then sprain their backs or other areas such as the arms or wrists. Unfortunately, many of these injuries occur even after so many businesses have instituted their own injury and illness prevention programs as recommended by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Offering the proper education, information, and training to your employees regarding how to avoid injuries on the job can be critical to cutting down on incidents, and also helps promote a stable and safe atmosphere:

“Injury and illness prevention programs are not new, nor are they untested. Most large companies whose safety and health achievements have been recognized through government or industry awards cite their use of injury and illness prevention programs as their key to success,” states the OSHA website. “Convinced of the value, effectiveness, and feasibility of these programs, many countries around the world now require employers to implement and maintain them. These countries include Canada, Australia, all 27 European Union member states, Norway, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. This initiative also follows the lead of 15 U.S. states that have already implemented regulations requiring such programs.”

The OSHA website also points out that “California began to require an injury and illness prevention program in 1991. Five years after this requirement began, California had a net decrease in injuries and illnesses of 19 percent.”

Even with programs available and heightened awareness though, accidents sometimes cannot be avoided—and that is where insurance comes into play (in so many other areas of coverage too for individuals and businesses in the US). Not only does workers’ compensation protect your employees by providing them with medical coverage as well as compensating them for wages, but as they accept it they also give up the right to sue you regarding the injury, making it indispensable coverage all around.

Your insurance agent will be able to inform you of California’s laws and requirements regarding worker’s compensation and you should be able to purchase your coverage through them. It is also available through the State Fund.

If you are having difficulty with workers’ compensation, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

 

extended reporting period

Extended Reporting Period Could Be Your Saving Grace

Have you ever really looked at your insurance policy or examined details on items like an extended reporting period? For so many policyholders, the insurance transaction means communicating with a new agent—or perhaps one that you have had for years—and purchasing whatever coverage is necessary, putting the policy in a file, and then reminding yourself of the due dates for payment. In exchange for this ‘product’ you are buying, you receive a policy outlining all the details of how the insurance company will pay for any claims.

Most consumers are concerned with the features offered in basic auto policies, such as what types of coverage they need for bodily injury, property damage, comp and collision, and more. For homeowners, they may wonder about coverage for their home structure, the contents inside, and liability in case someone is hurt on the premises. In some cases—and especially if you are a working professional like a doctor, for instance—you may need more complex insurance in the form of a claims-made liability policy. This type of coverage protects you only if you have a policy in place when the claim is filed, however, and the policy must have been renewed continually, covering you within the time that the claim of negligence was made.

The extended report period can be extremely helpful if a claim is filed after coverage ended. Even though the event causing the claim may have occurred while your policy was in force and you were paying premiums, if the claims-made liability policy is not longer in force, the insurance company does not have to pay. With an extended reporting period in place, however (also known as a tail), you are allowed more time to report a claim to your insurance company—and this could save you from serious financial problems. Time periods for the ERP vary in length, from one to five years, or maybe even ten in some cases. An ERP for a shorter period of time may actually be included in your claims-made policy but is much shorter—usually only a couple of months at the most though. Longer ERPs are purchased as an endorsement to your policy.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

website claims

Website Claims: Is Your Business Vulnerable?

No matter how long you have been in business, you probably maintain a long list of responsibilities and tend to the majority of them daily, working with valued clients, handling employee issues like scheduling and performance reviews, managing financial issues, ordering and dealing with vendors, and so much more–and because of that, having to worry about something like website claims may come as a bit of a surprise.

It Can Be Challenging to Keep Up with Emerging Legal Issues in Business

Not only that, you are expected to know and comply with many different rules, regulations, and laws—from those related to harassment or discrimination charges that could potentially be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to varying and complicated issues that can arise after someone is terminated or quits and may seek unemployment benefits. There are complexities in hiring independent contractors and creating confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements—as well as protecting intellectual property. And those are just a few examples of what you must worry about.

Even Online Businesses May Be Affected by Discrimination Lawsuits

As the digital age has progressed over the last few decades, methods of doing business have changed enormously too thanks to the internet. We all do many things differently, and much of that is due to the ease that online processes offer—especially for consumers. With that, many of the same legal issues carry over—even if you haven’t thought it about it, and especially for issues with discrimination. Because so much access is provided today over the internet and many businesses are technically run online, all companies must make sure that suitable access is provided on their websites for those who are handicapped. If you fail to do so, you could find yourself being sued with an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) website claim.

ADA Website Issues Are Often Filed as Title III Claims

An ADA website claim falls under what are known as Title III claims, lumped in with other discrimination lawsuits related to issues like lack of access for wheelchairs in parking lots or gas stations, or lack of access or allowance for service animals. Most website claims are filed regarding lack of access for individuals who are visually impaired, but sometimes also for those with hearing impairments when videos are included on websites without sufficient communication for the deaf. Along with being pressed for a settlement, your business may then be forced to show continued compliance in the future.

Contact Us for Help

If you are concerned about an ADA website claim or another business dispute, please contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm. We will aggressively pursue litigation if negotiating a settlement is not possible, using our extensive knowledge of civil procedure, and corporate and commercial code law. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

copyrights

Copyrights, Trademarks, Patents: Understand the Differences & What You Need

As a company owner, you may have accrued numerous assets after years in business. You may own real estate—to include your business site—company vehicles, a large amount of office property and inventory, and other investments that relate to your industry. What about intellectual property though? You, your business partners, and independent contractors working for you either temporarily or long-term may be busy creating items that are truly some of your most valuable assets, and they must be protected.

As you begin producing different types of work, innovations, and perhaps even major inventions, you may be confused about what security measures you need to take, and how to do so; however, with the expert legal assistance of a firm like Bolender Law Firm, you will have a better understanding of your options regarding materials, negotiating licenses, preparing applications for registration, and more.

The terms copyright and trademark are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually denote very different types of intellectual property law, along with patents. We’ve included brief information regarding each, so you can think about what may apply to your needs, and what type of protection your intellectual property requires:

  • Copyrights – whether you are applying for your own or asking permission to use a copyright assigned to another entity, this grants exclusive rights to the creator of an expression of art, whether that may be a book or a screenplay, software, music, or more. Copyrights are covered for a period of 95 years if they were published after 1922, but before 1987. If they were developed but not actually published before 1978, the work is covered for the lifetime of the creator, and an additional 70 years after that.
  • Trademarks – this type of intellectual property protection becomes critical when you are creating a brand. By registering a trademark (such as a logo), you allow your company and its products to be distinguished from that of the competition; likewise, the service mark denotes the services you offer.
  • Patents – this license is reserved to grant exclusive rights for inventions—usually for about 20 years from the time of application. During that timeframe, others may not manufacture the invention for their own purposes, use it, or sell it.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

business owners

Business Owners: Have You Updated Your Insurance Policies Lately?

Owning a business is full of rewards and challenges—all of which you may experience daily. While in the conceptual stages, thoughts of running your own business may have entailed a much different type of luxurious, fantasy scenario, once you get down to the brass tacks of owning a company, it is easy to become mired in a long list of constant tasks, from employee scheduling to inventory and ordering, dealing with vendors, other businesses—and of course, the ever-necessary customers. Along with all of that comes a huge emphasis on managing finances and taking care of issues like insurance.

For the average small business there can be a variety of different policies required, and it is critical to be sufficiently covered—as well as to understand what types of coverages you have so there isn’t a misunderstanding later or a denial that could have been prevented; however, if you think the insurance company is denying you in bad faith, consult with an experienced insurance law firm like the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible.

In the meantime, all insurance policies should be reviewed and updated if necessary at least once a year. Here are some typical policies a small business may need to consider:

  • General liability – this type of business insurance is critical in protecting you, as well as your employees—providing bodily injury and property damage coverage in the case of any claims that may arise. This type of insurance should cover expenses incurred due to such a claim, from any required investigations on the part of the insurance company to medical expenses, legal fees or settlements, and more.
  • Professional liability – meant to protect you and your business in the case of a claim brought against you when a client alleges there was negligence, this insurance could be critical to saving your company should an issue arise in the future. Professional liability policies can vary greatly too, so make sure to review and update yours yearly to make sure you have the proper coverage.
  • Workers compensation – as a business owner, this is one type of insurance you will probably always have to deal with as it protects your employees if they are injured on the job, insuring them for medical payments and lost income when they cannot work—either temporarily or permanently, depending on the severity of the case. Understand your policy, and work with your insurance agent to make sure you are properly covered according to the state law.
  • Property insurance – even if you don’t own the building where your business is located, you may have plenty of contents that need insuring. Stay up to date on your policy every year by reviewing what you may have added (or gotten ridden of) at your office that needs to be insured.

If you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!