Northbridge Insurance https://www.nbins.com Insurance solutions for Canadian businesses Tue, 19 Jun 2018 13:40:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Slips, trips, and falls: help protect your business with this incident report https://www.nbins.com/blog/risk-management/slips-trips-falls-incident-report/ Thu, 14 Jun 2018 15:54:33 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=124539 Summer’s around the bend, which means you can finally tuck the shovel and salt away. But just because ice and snow are (hopefully) no longer immediate dangers, don’t assume your… read more →

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Summer’s around the bend, which means you can finally tuck the shovel and salt away. But just because ice and snow are (hopefully) no longer immediate dangers, don’t assume your employees, customers, vendors, or other visitors won’t suffer a slip, trip, and fall on your property that lands your company in legal trouble and facing a time-consuming claims process  (though we can help you through that).

In fact, a 2015 report found that preventable accidents are a leading cause of injury in Canada, and in 2016 there were 11,495 lost-time injury claims in Ontario alone that resulted from falls. Those are concerning statistics, especially when you run a business that sees many people come and go each day – and just one bad accident could bring a costly personal injury claim against you.

The type and extent of your risk management will certainly depend on the type and size of your business, but there are some areas that most businesses should consider, no matter the nature of the building or the time of year. Fortunately, you’ll find a free template below that can help you track all the crucial elements of a slip, trip, and fall incident, helping you stay one step ahead.

Lighting

When you try to navigate a path or hallway in the dark, you’re bound to bump up against something. Don’t make it harder on your visitors by neglecting to light their way! Check your lights outside to make sure they’re all in good working order, and if you keep a box of spare bulbs in a closet or stockroom, you’ll have an easy fix when you need it.

Is there an opportunity to make things a bit brighter? Take a walk inside and outside your workplace at night to get a feel for particularly dark corners, passageways, or thresholds. While you’re at it, you could check that your glowing exit signs are working properly, too!

Click here for your free incident reporting template!

Surfaces

Spaces with uneven surfaces are begging for trouble, especially those in high-traffic areas. Both indoor and outdoor areas need your attention, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse, or if you work with anything that could spill, clutter, or otherwise affect easy movement through your workspace.

When assessing the property outside your building, you can look for things like:

  • Downspouts that drain water into parking lots or onto sidewalks. Water can make for annoying puddles – or worse, slippery surfaces that surprise your visitors.
  • Cracks, debris, potholes, and other problems on your parking lot surface. These can damage cars, but also catch shoes, ankles, or canes to cause a nasty fall.
  • Stairways in need of a facelift. Crumbling concrete is a clear problem, but so is a too-smooth surface: do what you can to make sure your stairways and walkways are slip-resistant.
  • Bumps, covers, drains, ramps, and thresholds. Any feature that sticks up or interrupts the usual landscape can be a tripping hazard, so inspect your space closely and consider marking any changes in elevation or texture with non-slip material and high-contrast paint.
  • Clean up spills and indicate where they happened. “Wet floor” signs may not be the most exciting aesthetic, but they’re important accessories for any workplace to keep on hand.
  • Make sure tiles, carpet, and other floor coverings stay put – when boards or corners start to come up, repairs should be your top priority

In 2016 there were 11,495 lost-time injury claims in Ontario alone that resulted from falls.

Entrances

How do your patrons get in and out of your building? Does an automatic door glide open to reveal a wide and clear hallway? Or must your customers fight with boxes, vases, curtains, or other clutter to get to your goods? Entrances and exits aren’t only your first and last chances to make a good impression, they could also be dangerous spaces that lead to legal trouble.

The first step is to clear away anything that doesn’t need to be there. Worried that a sparse and sterile entryway may not be very welcoming to customers? Think about hanging up some art or posters, or you can paint the walls to brighten things up. Then, commit to keeping the space clean and dry.

Furniture

Tables and chairs need to be sturdy and intact – but so should display cases, service counters, and any other furnishings that are meant to hold products (or your customers). If it’s been awhile since you took a close look at your furnishings, take a moment to check for broken parts, splinters, sharp edges, or protruding nails. Furniture that’s in good condition is less likely to painfully intercept a customer or buckle under their weight.

Observe and record

Routines can be difficult to start, but soon enough they become second nature. Make inspection a part of your daily routine and get a good recording process in place to make sure nothing falls victim to communication breakdown. Here are some tips:

  • Check all primary areas regularly, from the parking lot and entranceway to shelves and displays.
  • Commit to cleaning at a given time each day (preferably after you close up shop for the day).
  • Consider putting one employee or a small team on certain maintenance duties, so they get to know the job well and are less likely to pass over a problem or task.
  • Keep a log book to document all maintenance activities. This master record is a helpful resource for your staff to stick to procedure, and it can be crucial evidence if a claim is brought against your business.

When accidents happen, the right report can help save the day

Even the most cautious business owner can’t control everything all the time. Sometimes slips and falls happen, and when they do, the speed and nature of your emergency response can make a big difference in how your business handles the consequences.

If you have a commercial general liability insurance policy in place, you can count on professional support if a claim should arise. However, you’ll also need a solid plan that can help you spring into action as soon as the incident happens – this is where you can include witness testimony, photos of the scene, and details of the claimant. Download our Slip and Fall Incident Report template so you can gather the info you need, when you need it!

 

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Is your emergency contact list up to snuff? Use our free template! https://www.nbins.com/blog/risk-management/emergency-contact-list/ Wed, 06 Jun 2018 17:47:45 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=121565 Uh oh. A power failure has just shut down your shop during a crucial production run. Or maybe a midnight flood has left your office three feet underwater, or an… read more →

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Uh oh. A power failure has just shut down your shop during a crucial production run. Or maybe a midnight flood has left your office three feet underwater, or an employee accidentally unleashes a computer virus. What’s your next move?

Emergencies are urgent by nature, and after the heart palpitations subside, you’ll need to spring into action. That’s where the right tool – like a detailed emergency contact list – can make a big difference. Fortunately, our downloadable template will help you create the reference your business needs.

What to include on your list?

Start from the start: your business info should be the first entry, including your company name, address, location, and phone number. This information needs to be accessible, so when you’re speaking with emergency services, you can get the details sorted right away.

Ready to get started? Download our free emergency contact list template! 

Of course, there’s a lot more to add to an emergency contact list than your business information, regardless of the type or size of your business. Consider these crucial sections:

Manager and employee info

Problem with your building? Your landlord or facility manager can be an important ally when it comes to physical mishaps or damage in your workspace. Be sure to include a couple of forms of contact info – after all, if you can’t catch them right away, you could lose valuable recovery time.

Your employees need to know when things go wrong. And if the emergency involves an employee, their emergency contacts will need to be alerted, too. Including a contact number (and email address) plus an emergency contact for each employee is a good idea.

Emergency service numbers

911 is an obvious go-to emergency number, but it’s not the only one that deserves a spot on your emergency contact list. Consider adding the numbers for poison control, animal control, your alarm system company, and any other industry-specific services you think you might need if things go awry.

Insurance info

When your business is at risk of a loss (or if one has already occurred), you’ll need to contact your insurer as soon as possible. Be sure to include the name of your insurance company, your policy number, and the direct number to their claims team to start the claims process.

Not confident your insurance coverage can come to your rescue? Check out the protection we can offer your business, whatever your industry.

Utility Companies

Utilities probably play a central role in your business operations, so it’s important to keep your utility companies in the loop. Include numbers for gas, electricity, and water service providers on your list, since these contacts can help you minimize damages if you experience something like a gas leak or a burst pipe.

Need some help finalizing your list? Consider what our Risk Services specialists can offer your business.

Other useful contacts

You may need to contact other services in the wake of an emergency, like locksmiths, taxi companies, or tow trucks. Play it safe and include all relevant services in this master list, so you won’t have to frantically track the numbers down when the time comes.

Good planning is good protection – so is insurance

Losses are tough, and recovery can be a long road. Don’t go it alone! The right business insurance policy can help with everything from the immediate cleanup to legal issues that arise after the dust settles. The best way to get a well-tailored policy for your business is to work with a broker who truly understands your industry.

Ready to get started?

Give me a quote!

 

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5 Key Business Interruption Risks (and a Free Template to Help Safeguard Your Operation!) https://www.nbins.com/blog/risk-management/key-business-interruption-factors/ Wed, 23 May 2018 16:01:48 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=117976 When things go wrong at work, you can face two types of consequences: immediate challenges and long-term repercussions. Unfortunately, business interruption risks – those factors that force you to put… read more →

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When things go wrong at work, you can face two types of consequences: immediate challenges and long-term repercussions. Unfortunately, business interruption risks – those factors that force you to put your operations and revenue stream on hold – can be easily overlooked.

In their 2018 Risk Barometer report, Allianz pinpoints business interruption as the most important business risk – for the sixth consecutive year. The report highlights some key causes that any business owner should keep in mind, and while some of these may come as no surprise, other risks are newer on the scene and tend to affect a wide variety of businesses.

What exactly is business interruption? Find out more about this crucial coverage here.

In fact, you don’t need to have a huge brick-and-mortar operation to feel the pinch (although a fire or flood could do more damage to a larger space and stock). In many cases, small businesses can suffer just as much when they’re forced to close their doors while they recover from a setback. Here are five key causes of interruption to Canadian businesses, plus a business impact analysis template with all the factors to consider in a smart business continuity strategy.

Download the form below!

 Fire and explosion

This is a more traditional business interruption scenario, but one that continues to worry business owners. In fact, according to the Allianz report, 40% of Canadian businesses fear fire and explosion more than many other potential disruptions to their business.

Not all businesses will share the same level of risk when it comes to fire and explosion; the nature of your operations can determine whether or not this scenario is likely to unfold. Do you work with combustible dust, flammable liquids, complex machinery, or electrical hazards? If so, fire and explosion may be a sizable risk for your business.

Cyber events

The only risk that ranked higher than fire and explosion? Cyber incidents, with 42% of Canadian business owners admitting that a damaging cyber event is a top fear when it comes to business risk.

It’s not too surprising that more businesses than ever are concerned about cyber risk, considering how many attacks have made news headlines in recent years. And as supply chain management and industrial controls become more automated, cloud infrastructure becomes the norm, and interconnectivity spreads, any type of business operation could be interrupted with a well-placed cyber attack.

Know your risks before you build your business continuity strategy. Download this free business impact analysis template to get acquainted with your unique business interruption risks!

Natural catastrophes

More active hurricane seasons, earthquakes, and devastating wildfires in recent years are putting a lot of business owners on edge – which is no surprise, given that Allianz reported around $330 billion in overall losses from natural catastrophes in 2017 alone. For businesses, more natural disasters could mean more losses that shut down operations for uncomfortably long stretches.

And it gets worse. As globalization continues, natural disasters can bring even more risk of business interruption: a flood in one region could have a direct impact on the supply chain for a business in another region, and in the worst cases, it could bring those business operations to a halt.

Regulatory or legal changes

Globalization has changed trade dynamics in other ways, too. Uncertain political landscapes, coupled with new rules and legal changes, can shake up the way your company does business with international parties. In some cases, that can force a change in strategy; in others, it could prevent your business from growing in the ways you were hoping to take it.

Administration changes led to an unpredictable economy in 2017, and as uncertainty surrounding trade pacts continues, sudden problems could pop up for certain businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

Machinery breakdown

Anyone who works with complex equipment or machinery knows how much depends on a functioning system. When one crucial piece of equipment is lost or broken, you’re not only faced with repair or replacement costs – you could be left scrambling to fulfil orders, relocate to another facility, and convince unhappy clients to stick around while you recover.

Machinery breakdown can have immediate, lasting, and severe impact on operations, and 23% of business owners surveyed feel that it’s one of the biggest threats to their operations.

Know your risks and plan ahead with our complimentary template

Every business is different, and it can be difficult to uncover all the risks to your operations. Our impact analysis template is a great place to begin, but we have other great resources to help you build a business continuity strategy, emergency action plan, and more.

If you could use some help getting started, turn to the professionals – our Risk Services specialists have expertise in dozens of industries! Learn more about how risk management can help you mitigate business interruption risks and their consequences.

 

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Is your small business doomed? 4 red flags that may surprise you https://www.nbins.com/blog/small-business/is-your-small-business-doomed/ Wed, 16 May 2018 14:13:46 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=117896 According to the Canadian government’s most recent statistics, more small businesses fail than are created in a given year. And without the collateral and credit history to secure a loan,… read more →

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According to the Canadian government’s most recent statistics, more small businesses fail than are created in a given year. And without the collateral and credit history to secure a loan, many new owners must personally finance their venture – which makes it even more important to focus on your professional survival. So, how soon can you tell if your small business is in trouble? 

A consistent loss of revenue is certainly something to watch for (and try your best to turn around), but it’s not the only warning sign that your small business may be floundering. Look for small business red flags like the ones below – if you catch them early and act on them quickly, it could mean the difference between bankruptcy and recovery.

Staff is turning over – quickly

It’s natural for employees to move around, and many small businesses struggle with gaining and retaining a solid staff. But if you notice that more people have given notice recently, that could be a sign that your ship is sinking – and they want to get off before it’s underwater.

Keeping your business afloat is not easy, especially when you’re faced with a lack of competent and engaged staff. Recruiting, interviewing, and training takes a lot of time and energy, so you’ll want to try your best to keep your employees on board.

Connect with your employees and commit to boosting their morale: respected and appreciated employees are more likely to stay. You can also host regular meetings to tap into major issues right away, encouraging honest answers and working with your team to find solutions.

You’re lying to your partners (and yourself)

Do you find you’re making excuses, rationalizing your actions, or telling tall tales to buy yourself time? The way you communicate and present your business decisions can point to a crumbling foundation. After all, if you can’t take accountability and be transparent about your actions, you probably know in your heart that things aren’t going well.

Instead of sweeping problems under the rug, now’s the time to face your troubles and form an action plan. Every business owner has strengths and weaknesses, so take a moment to get familiar with yours: once you know where you need a helping hand, you can seek out appropriate guidance from peers and experts. This is where a business association can come to your rescue.

You’re borrowing more, paying back less

This is a classic example of the unbalanced budget, and it’s an obvious problem. But what you may not realize is where and how the expenditures, evasions, and (lack of) collections are adding up. Have you been borrowing more from your bank? Perhaps your relationship with your banker is getting less congenial and a bit more clinical. If your credit limit is suddenly reduced, you’ll want to speak with your banker about their concerns, and what you can expect going forward.

Every business owner has strengths and weaknesses, so take a moment to get familiar with yours: once you know where you need a helping hand, you can seek out appropriate guidance from peers and experts.

Another sign that you’re in hot water? You’re falling behind on your taxes. Entrepreneurs who keep putting off their income tax or payroll tax returns could chalk it up to their busy schedules, but it’s more often a sign that cash flow problems are getting in the way of CRA obligations. Keep on top of tax concerns throughout the year to know where you stand when April rolls around.

Sometimes the problem is on the other side of the equation. If your clients aren’t keeping up with their payments, and you’ve been letting their lateness slide, your books could be in worse shape than you imagine. Perhaps it’s time to get a bit strategic with your invoice system!

You have no safety net left

Not every business is lucky enough to enjoy an endless stream of support. In some cases, success or failure falls squarely on your own shoulders. However, every savvy business owner knows that, whether or not you have a big cheering section, you’ll likely need some sort of backup to help you over emotional, administrative, and financial hurdles that could threaten the future of your company.

If you’ve put all your money into your venture, you’ll want to make sure one sudden, unexpected event doesn’t drain it all away. You can’t control everything, but you can put a plan in place to handle a crisis. This is where the right small business insurance comes into play: a tailored policy that takes a variety of risks and your specific processes into consideration will help you recover from a setback.

Not sure how best to protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build? Let us help.

Request a quote now

 

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Smart Tips to Manage Stress at Work https://www.nbins.com/blog/risk-management/tips-to-manage-stress-at-work/ Wed, 09 May 2018 13:51:02 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=117794 Managing stress in the workplace can be easier said than done. After all, the noise, demands, and time constraints in many work environments can be overwhelming – and the resulting… read more →

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Managing stress in the workplace can be easier said than done. After all, the noise, demands, and time constraints in many work environments can be overwhelming – and the resulting physical and emotional stress can take a toll both on your attitude and your overall health.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental health is more than the absence of mental illness – it’s a state of well-being. Dealing with work-related stress will directly affect your state of mental health, and while it might seem difficult now, know that it gets easier once you have the right strategies in place. Here are some warning signs to watch out for, plus some effective ways to cope with stress at work.

Signs your stress may be harming your health

Everyone experiences stress a bit differently, and different people can express their discomfort in various ways. However, there are some classic signs that your stress level is reaching dangerous levels, including:

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Apathy and loss of interest in work
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Substance abuse

Tips to cope with stress in the workplace

You might need to devote some time and energy to find a stress solution that suits your routine and your personality, but here are some good ideas to cope better when your job is challenging your ability to stay calm and balanced.

  1. Don’t overcommit yourself.Avoid scheduling meetings back-to-back, and if possible, set aside a day of the week that’s meeting-free. The break can help you collect your thoughts and regain your focus. If you’ve got too much on your plate, consider delegating tasks – many people are more than happy to help.
  2. Schedule regular breaks.Sitting at your desk all day can stifle interaction, variation, and creativity – virtues that can support your physical and mental well-being. Remind yourself to get up from your seat and step away from your work to recharge with a walk or a coffee. Even a short break can leave you feeling more focused, content, and productive.
  3. Get moving.A healthy body supports a healthy mind. Physical exercisehas shown to improve the chemical imbalances in your brain, specifically by producing endorphins – chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. They not only reduce stress, but also improve your ability to sleep.
  4. Sleep seven hours a night.Too much stress can make us anxious and deprive you of a good night’s sleep, which can lead to other illnesses, like depression. Just as children have a bedtime, adults should set a time to hit the hay – and stick to it every night!
  5. Break projects into smaller steps. Managing what appears to be a never-ending flow of work can get exhausting. If you have a large project or several large projects on the go, create a step-by-step plan or a work-back schedule to help you focus on one manageable step at a time.
  6. Practise meditation.Learning to live in the moment can mean living with less stress every day. Meditation can help to cultivate this mindset by clearing away the information that builds up daily, weighing on your mind. Allocate a few minutes every day to letting go of the clutter in your head. Check out these meditation tipsto help you get started.
  7. Laugh often.If you can’t find humour in your day, then you’re taking life too seriously. Sometimes you need to actively develop a lighthearted perspective, but it’s worth the effort. Laughter not only makes you feel good, it also releases a cocktail of happy chemicals (serotonin, endorphins, natural killer cells) that boost your immune response to fight off illnesses that can arise from stress.

Playing the long game

You can’t control everything in your work environment, but with the right education and preparation, you can control how you carry around your stress at work. By taking some time to craft healthy habits to combat anxiety now, you can start to enjoy the effects in a few short weeks – and hopefully continue to manage stress expertly for many years to come.

 

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Can a business association help your small business? Absolutely. https://www.nbins.com/blog/small-business/business-association-help-small-business/ Wed, 02 May 2018 15:32:52 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=117635 As a business owner, you count on your own abilities to keep things humming along. You step in when and where you’re needed, and you’ve likely racked up an impressive… read more →

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As a business owner, you count on your own abilities to keep things humming along. You step in when and where you’re needed, and you’ve likely racked up an impressive array of skills on your resume. However, there are reasons to connect with a reputable business association, even if you’ve managed things well on your own up until now.  Here are some ways a business association can help you out.

Stay up-to-date (without losing all your free time)

In many industries, news and policy changes are constant, and it can be pretty difficult to keep up. If you’re an independent contractor, you’re already stretched in different directions – how do you find time to read up on new technologies, regulations, and best practices to keep you at the top of your game?

Well, when these resources are all gathered together in one place, it’s not so daunting. From product research and recommendations to up-to-date news and policy discussion, a business association can gather relevant, useful, and timely information for its members.  When you can get top business resources in one place instead of having to visit a dozen outlets, you’re more likely to commit to staying in the loop.

Learn from people who’ve been there before

Those who’ve been in your industry for a long time probably have a lot to offer in terms of advice and insight. And since they’ve committed so much time and attention to their career, they may be more inclined to participate in active business associations.

A mentor can be a powerful ally, especially when you’re trying to grow your small business. After all, someone who has been through a long career has picked up valuable lessons along the way and might have found some creative solutions to common challenges that you hadn’t thought of. Business association events present a lot of networking opportunities, so take advantage of them!

Enjoy strength in numbers

Ever feel like nobody’s listening no matter how loud you yell? You’re not alone. Canadian small business owners have been calling for less red tape and more liberty in the business arena for a long time, and the tide might finally be turning. However, that doesn’t happen without a concerted and sustained effort.

A business association can help advocate for better tax laws and regulations affecting small businesses, and the best results come from associations that are sizeable, well-practiced, and well-organized.

Add credibility to your name

The quality of your work should speak for itself, but in reality, an impressive title can help convince customers that your business is the best choice. Listing your association membership – especially one that resonates with peers and clientele in your industry or community – indicates that you go the extra mile to build, improve, and maintain your professional standing.

Together with greater exposure for your company, up-to-date knowledge, and networking opportunities, an impressive title can take your business farther. But are these advantages worth the membership fees that many business associations charge? Extra costs can seem unnecessary and unwise – especially for a small business that’s just getting started – but in many cases, the rewards are more than worth the expense. You just need to choose (and interact) wisely.

What to look for – and what to expect – in a business association

At the start, we talked about connecting with a reputable association – that’s a crucial detail. Whether it’s a chamber of commerce, trade association, or a more general business organization, you’ll want to be sure they have a solid network and a great track record.

For small business owners, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) is a top candidate. It’s been going since 1971, and since then has helped break through bureaucratic red tape, kept small business owners at the cutting edge, and eased the cost of necessary yet expensive services to run a profitable operation. Today, 110,000 members use their extensive services and support.

There’s no magic wand that will instantly double your revenue or multiply your customer base, but the right membership can make a significant impact on your business’ bottom line. The key fact to remember is that you tend to get out what you put in. Participating in events, visiting the resource centre often, and staying on top of relevant policy or regulation changes can keep you one step ahead.

Ready to join other savvy small business owners? Check out what a CFIB membership can do for you!

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How big data can help small businesses https://www.nbins.com/blog/small-business/data-small-businesses/ Wed, 25 Apr 2018 20:24:40 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=117510 The term “big data” covers a lot of ground. Every action that’s performed on an Internet-connected network provides data. This can include sending an email, posting to Facebook or Twitter,… read more →

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The term “big data” covers a lot of ground. Every action that’s performed on an Internet-connected network provides data. This can include sending an email, posting to Facebook or Twitter, writing a blog, commenting or rating a product, updating a profile, shopping online, using a cellphone or tablet, and swiping a credit card at a physical store. Every one of these actions generates a digital footprint.

With this amount of activity, it’s no wonder we create a lot of data. As of June 2017, we created 5 zettabytes of data, but by 2020 digital information will grow to 50 zettabytes.

But we’re not only creating a lot of data, it’s also been at the forefront of the news lately. It was widely reported that data from more than 50 million users on Facebook was gathered by a third party without the users’ permission, making it one of the largest data breaches in the social network’s history.

As of June 2017, we created 5 zettabytes of data. But by 2020 digital information will grow to 50 zettabytes.

The growing use of data can lead to an increase in cyber risk for small business owners. As data collection grows, so does the need to be careful with the digital information your business is collecting. The last thing you want to experience is a cyber breach. But while there are risks, there are also a number of ways data can be useful to businesses. And not just big businesses. Both large and small organizations are integrating data and analytics into their daily operations.

Below, we outline some of the ways data can be helpful for small businesses:

Improving decision making

The right data can help companies become more informed and efficient. With that, a company can make better business decisions, which in turn will help them become more competitive. But with so much information available, it’s important to establish what information is important in order to achieve your business’ goals.  For example, while web traffic is one of the most important pieces of data a business owner can have, for many organizations it fails to offer any actionable insights. But when a business owner is able to see which demographics and customer segments are spending the most time on their website, that data can be used to improve marketing efforts.

As a small business owner, it might be overwhelming to gather and organize your data. You might not even be sure where to start or be worried about how much it will cost you. Thankfully, there are several ways your small business can gather and analyze data without breaking the bank. Platforms like Google Analytics or IBM’s Watson Analytics can assist with gathering data, so that you can extract long-term data to reveal trends and other valuable information.

Understanding and interacting with your customers

Data is a great tool to better understand your customers preferences. You may think you know your customers and what they want, but big data will provide a definitive answer. By analyzing the data your company collects, you can identify consumer trends and predict market opportunities.  In a recent research report, the Boston Consulting Group shared that businesses that create a more personalized experience for their customers will see their revenue increase by 6 to 10 per cent. This will also help you be more agile and responsive to the ever-changing needs of your customers.

For example, a restaurant in the New England area, Farmstead Table, took advantage of big data by using a point of sales platform to not only process credit card payments but track anniversaries, birthdays, favorite meals, and other customer data. With that information they could save time but more importantly, target customers with relevant messages that generate repeat sales.

Utilizing social media

Social media has become a crucial part of digital communications strategies. In 2015, Facebook influenced 52 per cent of consumers’ online and offline purchases, up from 36 per cent in 2014. And 71 per cent of customers who have a positive service experience via social media are likely to recommend that company to others. That’s why it’s so important for companies to be active on social media.

Using tools like Social Mention and Twilert, you can set up alerts and notifications whenever a subject you’re interested in is mentioned online, like your business name, the products and services you offer, or any relevant keywords. By tracking these mentions, you can be sure to respond to customers as often as possible. This helps you make sure your company is a part of the conversation, and allows you to tailor your responses to generate more interest and improve customer satisfaction and engagement. Using these platforms, you can also leverage positive customer experiences.

Improving operations

Running your business smoothly and efficiently can be easier when you effectively leverage data. Whether it’s data related to your warehouse operations or your customers, it can be analyzed and used to improve operational processes and actions.

Once you’ve got a handle on how to utilize data with your company’s current offerings, you can start to research potential new services you could offer because of data. For instance, Rolls-Royce added a data-based element to one of their products. Using sensors in the jet engines they manufacture, they can monitor the performance of those engines even after they sell them. Using this data, they can monitor the performance of the engine in order to predict maintenance needs, and can offer this as a service to their customers. Servicing now accounts for 70 per cent of the company’s annual revenue.

Data is an extremely useful tool for any small business. And while innovation in your company is important, it’s also important to protect what you already have. Want to learn about how we can help protect your small business? Our experts have a wealth of industry expertise – find out how we can help your business!

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Express Claim: our latest and greatest innovation for auto claims https://www.nbins.com/blog/insurance/express-claim-for-auto-claims/ Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:12:27 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=116227 There’s no doubt about it: auto insurance claims aren’t fun. The process can be long and frustrating, and with every form you fill out or call you make, you’re reminded… read more →

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There’s no doubt about it: auto insurance claims aren’t fun. The process can be long and frustrating, and with every form you fill out or call you make, you’re reminded of your loss. But a fender bender shouldn’t turn your life upside down – and our Express Claim service is here to help make sure it doesn’t.

Learn more about the process in our infographic!

What’s Express Claim all about?

Express Claim is an online appraisal process for auto insurance claims. We’ve developed a program that can dramatically reduce the time and effort involved: with a half-day turnaround on appraisals, small and large losses can be processed quickly, and you can receive your payment sooner.

The best thing about Express Claim? The experience is completely digital, so it makes things easier for everyone involved. It begins with a call to our claims team, and from then on, all you need is your smartphone (and access to mobile data or Wi-Fi) to help your adjuster produce an appraisal, process your claim, and get your settlement started.

How Express Claim works

It all starts with a call to the Northbridge claims team following your auto accident. If the damage is minor and no one was hurt, you could be eligible for Express Claim.

All you need is your smartphone and access to mobile data or Wi-Fi to help your adjuster produce an appraisal, process your claim, and get your settlement started.

When you call us to report your claim, an adjuster will text or email a link to your phone. This will connect you to the Express Claim platform, and this is where you’ll share all the necessary information.

Your next step will be to open the link and snap some photos of the damage to your vehicle – along with the vehicle’s VIN number, license plate number, odometer, and any other images that may be needed – and tap to send these directly to your claims adjuster in real time.

The photos will allow us to start work on your appraisal right away, and while that’s being prepared, your adjuster can help connect you with a preferred collision repair centre and arrange for a rental, if you need it.

Once completed your appraisal will be emailed to you along with copies of your photos. Finally, your adjuster will call you to outline the details of your settlement.

Faster turnaround makes for a better experience

We’re committed to delivering Express Claim appraisals within half a day, and without all the back and forth that the traditional claims process can require. You won’t need to visit appraisers or inspection shops, and you can electronically sign any documents we may need to process the claim. There’s no app to download and you can even wait to call us back when you have access to Wi-Fi. Everything is done at your convenience, and in real time.

“It was perfect, easy and quick. I would definitely use it again.”

“My adjuster did a good job explaining how to do it. I would use it again. It saves on having to take the time to go get an appraisal.”

Together with our 24/7 claims service and extensive industry expertise, our Express Claim service helps take the stress, effort, and waiting time out of the auto claim process.

Have questions? We’ve got answers!

Wondering how, when, and why to use our Express Claim service? Visit our claims page to find out more about our claims process and get contact information to connect with our experts.

 

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3 tips for quicker flood recovery — and a free template! https://www.nbins.com/blog/risk-management/3-steps-to-flood-recovery/ Mon, 09 Apr 2018 16:25:42 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=116068 Warmer weather is a welcome change – as long as melting snow and spring showers don’t complicate matters. Unfortunately for many Canadian business owners, flood recovery is a year-round challenge,… read more →

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Warmer weather is a welcome change – as long as melting snow and spring showers don’t complicate matters. Unfortunately for many Canadian business owners, flood recovery is a year-round challenge, and it can be incredibly expensive if you keep product, equipment, or other important assets in your work space.

The most common type of flooding? In Canada, it’s snowmelt runoff: traced to sudden winter thaws or climbing spring temperatures, rapidly melting snow can run over the surface of the frozen ground and into streams and lakes. Rain makes matters worse, and before you know it, your parking lot could look more like a swimming pool.

The good news is there’s plenty you can do to reduce your risk of spring flooding, water damage, and all the other complications that come with it. Start with these three tips for better flood prevention and quicker flood recovery — and don’t forget to download your free water damage checklist below!

  1. Build up your defenses. Think barriers, backflow, and backups: the more physical tools and protection you have at your disposal, the better your building will be able to weather a flood. This may sound obvious, but many business owners don’t consider what smart waterproofing really entails.

First, figure out where the water is coming from. Is your workspace near a river? A lake? An overworked sewer system? A big downpour can quickly overwhelm a nearby water supply or reservoir, so keep your environmental surroundings in mind (you may even want to consult your city planning department to get a better idea of the underground infrastructure).

Step two: put some time and effort into assessing and improving the protective measures you have in your work or storage space. Some important systems and devices include:

  • Backflow prevention check valves
  • Reinforced walls
  • Watertight walls around equipment
  • Floodwalls outside the facility
  • Sump pumps with solar and backup solutions
  • Flood shields
  • Backup systems

Of course, there are all sorts of ways to shore up your shop. Not sure where to begin? Talking to a risk management professional can help identify what you already have in place, where there’s room for improvement, and any crucial elements that demand your immediate attention.

  1. Prepare for many worst-case scenarios. A wet storeroom is only one possible fate; floods can have many far-reaching consequences that you may not have imagined, like ruined equipment and lost revenue while you close up shop to clean up the mess.

Ready to develop a flood plan? Great! Just be sure to consider all the factors at play, including your assets and equipment and where they live, not to mention the best tools to help keep your business afloat in a flooding emergency – and remember that emergencies come in all shapes and sizes.

Know your policy. First things first, read your insurance policy to know what exactly you’re covered for. Property damage, business interruption, and liability insurance are critical coverages if your business is to bounce back, but you may need other coverage too, depending on the nature of your business. Your insurance broker can help you sort out the details and upgrade your policy appropriately.

Take stock. An up-to-date inventory will help you stay on top of your day-to-day operations, but it will also point to products, equipment, and other assets that may need some extra focus when it comes to flood protection. It’s important to know exactly where chemicals, oils, and other hazardous or contaminating materials are kept, because these products can cause major problems if they encounter flood water.

Predict your weak spots. Do you know your workspace like the back of your hand? If not, it’s time to do some careful investigating. Get familiar with all the nooks and crannies, the lockers and boxes that house vulnerable devices and delicate materials. These need extra protection. It’s also a good idea to mark on a map the location of cut-off points for gas, electricity, and water – and make sure that map is posted in a central, accessible location.

Look ahead. What sort of things could come in handy during or after a flood? Stay one step ahead by putting together an emergency flood kit that’s suited to your type and size of business. Here are just some of the things to consider including in your kit:

  • Sandbags, plastic sheeting, and a loudspeaker (helpful tools to help organize a response and an evacuation)
  • Flash light
  • Copies of insurance documents and important phone numbers
  • Dry clothing
  • First aid kit
  • Mobile phone
  • Blankets and food

It’s important to know exactly where chemicals, oils, and other hazardous materials are kept, since these products can cause major problems if they encounter flood water.

  1. Mobilize your people. Your staff, partners, vendors, and risk experts are your closest allies in an emergency. A well-rounded team can help you escape the disaster with minimal consequences.

Look out for your employees

Emergencies can call for evacuations, and evacuations can be chaotic. Having a list of employees’ contact details – including mobile number, home number, and the contact info for a friend or relative – can make things much easier to handle. Practice your emergency evacuation plan, so everyone knows what to do and where to go. Consider any staff that might need some extra help in the case of emergency: is there anything more you can do to ensure they can get where they need to be?

Reach out to vendors and providers

You’ll also want to gather the phone numbers of your gas, electricity, water, and Internet providers. The sooner you can contact these key allies, the quicker you can get things back on track. Specific service providers may be able to help you recover from the flood, too, especially if you contract with them in advance: look out for companies who can provide professional assistance during and after a flood, and contact them now about setting up an action plan.

Turn to the experts

It can be difficult to know when, where, and how to protect against water damage, especially when your mind is focused on your daily operations. So why not let risk specialists help? Experts in risk management have a keen eye for potential areas for improvement, and they can spot small issues that could lead to major trouble.

There’s no reason to go it alone – tap into our risk management expertise!

Request a quote

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10 ways to help prevent employee theft https://www.nbins.com/blog/risk-management/employee-theft/ Tue, 27 Mar 2018 15:23:57 +0000 https://www.nbins.com/?p=114554 Working to protect your business from theft should always be a top priority. But while some business owners might have visions of masked intruders breaking their front window with a… read more →

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Working to protect your business from theft should always be a top priority. But while some business owners might have visions of masked intruders breaking their front window with a brick or prying open the front door with a crowbar, those aren’t the only types of scenarios business owners need to worry about. Surprisingly, some of the people you should be most concerned about may already have keys into the building.

Employee theft is a significant threat to businesses, so it’s important that business owners know the details behind employee dishonesty and take the right steps to try and stop it.

How common is employee theft?

It might be more prevalent than you think, as it can take many forms, including cargo theft, forgery, data theft, cyber-related embezzlement, and theft of cash, cheques, business equipment, or client property.

In fact, employee theft costs Canadian businesses about $1.4 billion every year, according to the Retail Council of Canada, a non-profit that represents more than 45,000 retail stores across Canada.

The amount of product stolen by employees can be significant. A 2012 study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that 25 per cent of internal fraud cases result in losses of a million dollars, on average. And the Retail Council of Canada found that, on average, employees steal about $2,500 in cash or goods from their employer before they’re caught, while customers only steal about $175. Normally, the $2,500 isn’t stolen all at once but rather over time. The council also believes there are approximately 566,000 employee thefts that go undetected each year.

Employees steal about $2,500 in cash or goods from their employer before they’re caught, while customers only steal about $175.

What can you do to help prevent employee theft?

There are some steps you can take to combat employee dishonesty. Here are 10 tips to help you mitigate this risk:

  • Establish a pre-employment screening program.
    • The program should include reference checks. You may also want to perform criminal and credit checks depending on the position you’re hiring for.
  • Create security guidelines.
    • The guidelines should outline the company policy for employees who are caught stealing.
  • Use human resource programs.
    • Develop programs designed to build employee loyalty and align employee and company goals.
  • Ensure that company merchandise or property isn’t easy to steal.
    • This could include a number of tactics ranging from locking up merchandise to installing a surveillance system.
  • Establish controls.
    • The controls should be for petty cash disbursements, bank deposits, withdrawals, issuance of cheques, payrolls, reconciliation of bank statements, and payment of invoices.
  • Ensure no one employee has control over all parts of a financial transaction.
    • Separate responsibilities and functions so more than one employee deals with any given financial transaction, and organize workflow to ensure one employee verifies the work of another.
  • Perform regularly-scheduled and random inventory checks.
    • A program should be implemented to manage these checks.
  • Monitor the premises with closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance.
    • Be sure to keep in mind any applicable privacy law requirements with respect to surveillance.
  • Check merchandise records.
    • All incoming merchandise should be checked against purchase invoices, and all outgoing merchandise against shipping documents.
  • Be a social butterfly.
    • When you click with your employees, you set the stage for a respectful relationship.

Want to learn more?

As the old phrase goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And despite all the precautions you can take against employee theft, you may still find yourself and your company a victim of it. That’s why it’s important to have the appropriate insurance plan in place, so that you’re covered if something goes wrong. Our experts have a wealth of industry expertise and would be happy to help – find out how Northbridge can help you and your business today!

Click here to download a printable PDF of this tip sheet on preventing employee dishonesty.

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