Why Having Small Business Insurance Coverage is a “Should” in the Present Day

I do know: as if we haven’t all been nickled an dimed to death, you’re probably pondering, “I run my business from my residence and my homeowner’s insurance coverage will cover damages.”

Should you subscribe to that philosophy, you’re incorrect…and you’ve got a lot of company who feel the identical way you do.

Today, many people are beginning small companies from their homes on account of job losses and lack of jobs to be found in the corporate sector. Most of these home-based companies revolve around the web: eBay consignment companies, affiliate promotion, website online design, creating resumes and posting them to online job sites, and a host of different small enterprise endeavors that involve, at the least, a computer.

If Your Laptop Goes Down, it Shows Lack of Professionalism and Reliability

Let me ask you this: what would happen if there was a power surge that destroyed your equipment? What about a couple of virus assaults in your computer?

Both would certainly put the stops on your corporation for awhile till you were in a position to get your system(s) repaired or purchase a brand new one. Both options would come straight out of your pocket. “Okay,” you say, “but wouldn’t these be written off as business expenses at tax time?” Yes, they might; however, for you to keep on track along with your clients’ schedules, you’ll most likely go for an immediate substitute of your computer—however—you may not have the ability to financially manage that when disaster struck. With business insurance, you would have a brand new system pronto.

This really happened to me a few years in the past after I was starting a web page design business. My husband and I used a tax refund to buy my first computer and I developed a love of website online design. Inside an hour after hooking up the system, we heard a tremendous “pop” and all of our energy blew. Ignorant me had the pc plugged into the wall and it got zapped. It even smoked.

After discovering some work was being done on nearby power lines, I appealed to the electric company with a letter explaining what had happened. They not bought me a new computer, but gave me a $200 power surge protection strip to boot.

I was fortunate that time. Who knows if the electric company would be so prepared to do that in in the present day’s financial melt-down?

Getting Some Business Insurance Solutions from the Small Business Administration

The Small Enterprise Administration (SBA) gives steerage for what kind of business insurance to contemplate for the type of business you’re running.

The sorts of insurance, with pointers and recommendations include: general liability, product legal responsibility, dwelling-primarily based enterprise insurance, internet business insurance, worker’s compensation, legal insurance, business interruption insurance, key person insurance, and malpractice insurance.

The Internet Business Insurance actually caught my eye because so many of my projects are completed through the internet.

Based on the SBA, “Net-primarily based companies might wish to look into specialized insurance coverage that covers liability for harm executed by hackers and viruses. In addition, e-insurance usually covers specialised online activities, including violation of regulations resulting from meta tag abuse, banner advertising, or electronic copyright infringement.” I didn’t even know I could be sued for these issues!

New, Free Small Business Insurance Information Out there on the Web

It’s nice of the SBA to tell us what sorts of insurance coverage to get for the kind of business we’re working, but what they don’t inform you is how one can go about evaluating our business to get the proper coverage. That is exactly why a new, free guide on small business insurance coverage is currently available and to help us all understand what the business insurance hub-bub is all about.

This guide concentrates closely on home-based mostly business insurance which is precisely what so many individuals need in the present day, and it’s a real eye-opener. The fantastic thing about the guide isn’t nearly what type of business insurance you want, but tells you, step-by-step, methods to go about getting it. The entire guide could be read online in 15 sections:

Part 1: Enterprise Insurance coverage Introduction
Part 2: Sorts of Business Insurance
Part 3: Vital Answers to Essential Question About Enterprise Insurance
Part 4: Small Enterprise Liability Insurance
Part 5: Small Business Health Insurance
Part 6: Employee’s Compensation
Part 7: Business Auto Insurance
Part 8: Enterprise Interruption Insurance
Part 9: Business Insurance Quotes
Part 10: Enterprise Insurance Brokers
Part 11: The best way to Save Money on Business Insurance
Part 12: Eight Business Insurance Tips
Part 13: Enterprise Insurance Corporations
Part 14: Business Insurance Glossary
Part 15: Enterprise Insurance Coverage Resources

No Excuses if You Don’t Have Insurance Coverage on Your Enterprise

With in the present day’s economic woes, I don’t suppose I’d be so lucky as to have the city replace my tools attributable to an power surge that was their fault. Also, as we speak, I might be up a creek if my system blew and I couldn’t complete work I do on the internet in a timely manner. I could lose clients and customers. I’d be toast.

While your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance would possibly cover the lack of business equipment resulting from a pure disaster, resembling a flood, they might not be as apt to interchange or repair a PC that was ‘fried’ as a result of a virus. This is precisely where small business insurance comes in.

The information you want is right at your fingertips to get your business covered. Find out now, not later, why small business insurance isn’t an possibility; it’s a necessity.

How to Save Money Handling Your Own Legal Matter

“Sixty percent of bankruptcies and seventy-five percent of divorces in California are done without lawyers,” according to Do It Yourself Documents, a self-help legal book and kit retailer. With the availability of so many quality self-help legal resources today, it has never been easier to handle your own legal matter. I will tell you what self-help resources are available and how to use them.

Although the information I am about to give you is based on research and experience, always remember that only a lawyer is qualified to give you sound legal advice. I am not a lawyer, but I have worked extensively in this field. Use any of the products and services I mention here at your own risk.

You have several choices when trying to handle a legal matter without a lawyer. You can do the matter entirely on your own with a self-help book or kit; you can handle the matter with aid from an independent paralegal or legal assistance program; you can handle the matter through a program such as Pre-Paid Legal Services.

SELF-HELP BOOKS AND KITS

The market is saturated with self-help legal books and kits. Which ones can you trust? HALT, an organization of Americans for legal reform, has reviewed many popular self-help guides. On their website, you can find their “Do It Yourself” section, which has helpful product reviews. In general, I will save you time and tell you HALT repeatedly recommends products from Nolo Press. All of Nolo’s books and software are created by lawyers and are updated constantly. I also recommend products from Alpha Publications. I do not recommend products from Info America or similar publishers.

Kits and books you want to stay away from are those that are not updated frequently and not written by experts. Make sure the book or kit has a help-line from the publisher you can call if you need assistance. Also, does the kit/book include the forms you need? Does the kit/book have a CD-Rom so you can type the forms on your computer? Remember, you get what you pay for.

Before you buy anything, however, I recommend you check your state court system’s website because many states provide both forms and basic instructions for free. For a complete list of state-specific resources, try DoItYourselfDocuments.com. On the left side of their homepage, find your state on the drop down menu, then scroll to the bottom of the page for your state.

If there is a state-specific version of the kit or book you want, buy that one. For example, there are many national divorce kits intended for use in all 50 states. I have never seen one of these books or kits that was useful.

INDEPENDENT PARALEGALS AND LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

Independent paralegals are paralegals that do not work under the supervision of attorneys. In California, independent paralegals are licensed, bonded, and use the title “Legal Document Assistants.” Currently, California is the only state to regulate independent paralegals. For the California Association of Legal Document Assistants, visit their website at http://www.calda.org

An independent paralegal can provide you with the forms you need for many routine legal matters and assist you with filing your documents. Typically, independent paralegals are knowledgeable about local court rules and other nuisances you may not find in a self-help book or kit. The price? Usually, 1/3 of what you’d pay for an attorney.

If you live outside of California, be sure you hire an independent paralegal with a paralegal certificate from an American Bar Association approved school. Many times, independent paralegals with 15 years of experience or more do not have these certificates because they were not needed years ago. You may want to ask the independent paralegal what, if any, continuing education s/he obtains over the course of a year to stay up-to-date on training. Also, how long, if at all, s/he worked under the supervision of an attorney to gain the required knowledge to assist you. Finally, ask if the independent paralegal is a member of a professional association or has any special certifications.

There is only one national independent paralegal franchise to my knowledge, and that is We The People. We The People does not require their owners or operators to have paralegal certificates; however, they do provide in-depth training from the company on all the types of legal matters that they cover. We The People has been in business for over 20 years.

Like the independent paralegals described above, there are also “attorney assisted” independent paralegals. These attorney-assisted paralegals typically perform the same services as traditional independent paralegals but have an attorney proofread their documents or oversee their work in some way. Prices are typically about the same or slightly higher than traditional independent paralegals.

As for legal assistance programs, most states have “paperwork helpers” in the courthouse to assist you. In California, these are called Family Law Facilitators. These programs are free to everybody; they are not legal aid, which is only available to people with low incomes. There are also occasionally programs through local civic groups, such as the YMCA, that provide similar assistance.

PRE-PAID LEGAL

There are many types of legal insurance, but the most established is Pre-Paid Legal Services ( http://www.prepaidlegal.com ) For about $25-$30 a month, you can call a “provider law firm” and get legal advice on any matter. If you decide to use the “provider law firm” to handle a legal matter on your behalf, you typically receive some kind of discount. Some programs include free preparation of a Last Will and Testament for you and your spouse. Like any insurance, you can cancel your membership at any time.

If you wanted to do a more complex legal matter on your own, you could obtain a pre-paid legal membership and call your provider law firm any time you had a concern. If desired, cancel your membership when your legal matter was resolved. Be very sure that each time you call your provider law firm, you make it clear that you are not calling about the same thing you previously called about. They will charge you if you do. Be very specific and say, “I have called about this issue before, but I have a new concern…” Be prepared to wait a day or two for the provider law firm to call you back with your requested advice or information.

Many employers offer pre-paid legal insurance as a benefit. Before you sign up, be sure to check with your employer–it may be completely free to you.

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Better Legal Billing: Win Win Client Options

In the old days of legal billing, lawyer’s invoices — usually a single page of elegant letterhead–contained only the phrase, “legal services rendered,” and a hefty dollar amount. No time breakdowns, no list of activities performed or equipment and supplies used–just a final, usually shocking, charge.
But client demands and the evolution of sophisticated billing software have led to more detailed invoices today. Itemized statements have triggered discussion among businesses about whether hourly billing is the best way to be charged for legal services. As the legal profession becomes more competitive and dependent on high quality customer service, lawyers need to embrace alternate billing methods.
Fixed or flat fees, contingency fees, non-refundable retainers with discounted hourly fees, blended hourly fees and variations on those themes are becoming increasingly common. But many law firms have been slow to join this trend — lawyers still perform approximately 95 percent of their corporate legal work on an hourly basis.
What does that mean for your small business? If your company is currently working with a law firm or looking for legal counsel, try requesting alternate billing options. While many law firms rarely initiate different options, they’ll negotiate when brought to the table. If you want something better than the old “bill by the hour” deal, try presenting one of these billing structures:
Project billing for routine issues
If your legal needs include large but repetitive tasks, consider a flat-fee approach, also known as project billing. If you need legal assistance on a large research project involving several repetitive tasks with a fair amount of predictability for cost estimation and time duration, request a dollar cap for predetermined services. Be sure to compare estimated costs at the equivalent hourly rate–a projected cap that far exceeds any likely bill is really no cap at all.
Once you get a project billing estimate, don’t hesitate to shop around. Making an informed decision — shopping around, comparing prices and services with other law firms — is good business sense, especially if you intend to hire a firm for a single project. If you anticipate establishing a long-term relationship, mention this as you’re negotiating a project amount — a firm may provide a better deal if it expects future work from your company.
Results-oriented options
Forget the image of personal injury attorneys taking a third of any verdict or settlement. Consider instead contingency fees — fees based on the outcome of the case and the performance of your counsel. Creative use of contingency fees can create efficiencies in even the most high-level corporate settings. If you retain a lawyer to help your company avoid litigation, couple a reduced hourly rate with a bonus for successfully lowering your litigation outlays.
You also can establish an incentive based on a percentage of money won or saved in trial. If you’re a defendant in a case where the plaintiff has a strong shot at a $1 million settlement, negotiate a flat fee if the case goes to trial, plus a bonus if the plaintiff ends up getting less than $1 million. If you’re a plaintiff and estimate your case is worth between $1 and $2 million, you might negotiate services for a flat fee plus a percentage of any settlement over $1 million.
Contingency fees turn the matter into a shared risk or shared incentive, making the law firm your business partner, not just representation. Contingency fees can work well with both flat fee and reduced hourly fee arrangements. Because a number of variations on the “pay-according-to-success” theme exist, you should ask firms for the options they’re willing to discuss.
Multi-layered tasks
If you’re shopping for a firm for substantial legal work involving a number of legal specialties, consider using blended hourly fees. Rather than each attorney billing at the usual hourly rate, the firm calculates in advance an “average” rate based on the anticipated time each attorney spends on the matter.
The value of this arrangement is twofold–it helps define responsibility in a project and it provides a fair price schedule for the client, who avoids paying a senior partner’s hourly rate for research that should be conducted by a junior associate
Legal “Insurance” Firms without in-house counsel that frequently hire legal services might consider contracting with a firm. In this legal billing option, firms and clients agree to a specific charge per month in exchange for a predetermined set of legal services. The contract fee permits the client to pick up the phone and talk to the attorney without needing to eye the clock. This approach works like a legal insurance policy. It encourages companies to contact their counsel on non-litigation, non-crisis matters, and to save money in the long run by engaging in more preventive legal action.

Just as in business, the impetus for change comes from consumer demand. The sooner businesses take the lead in securing more effectively tailored billing methods from their legal counsel, the sooner they’ll get better, more cost-effective legal assistance.