Insurance for Startups

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Startup companies and the power of performance-based insurance

Launching a startup business requires vision and a detailed plan to make that vision a reality. Sylvia Group offers specialized programs of performance-based insurance specially designed for startup businesses. The Sylvia Protection System (SPS) and our proprietary 360° Risk Navigator™ enable us to customize coverage precisely matched to your business' risks, exposures and goals — to your vision for what your business will become.

Key Coverages

General Liability Insurance: General Liability Insurance provides financial protection for your business in the event of lawsuits, claims, or settlements resulting from property damage or injuries caused by the operations of your business. Acts such as libel or slander are also covered and defense is provided by the insurance carrier.

Property Insurance: Commercial Property Insurance helps protect the building your business owns or leases as well as your business personal property, including tools and equipment, inventory, and furniture. A commercial property insurance policy includes coverage for assets like accounts receivable, computers and lost income for when business operations are suspended due to a covered loss. Businesses can tailor their coverage to include additional protection.

Workers' Compensation Insurance: Workers’ compensation insurance (also known as workers' comp) provides benefits to employees for work-related injuries or illnesses including medical care, wages from lost work time, and more. Workers’ compensation insurance covers a deceased worker's family with a financial benefit as well. If a worker's family decides to sue the company, it can also help cover the related legal fees. This coverage is required in most states.

Auto Insurance: Commercial Auto Insurance helps your business cover the financial costs resulting from an auto accident you or an employee is involved in with either a company-owned or personally owned vehicle being used for company business. Commercial auto insurance helps pay for damaged property and medical expenses.

Cyber Liability Insurance: Businesses of all sizes are vulnerable to cyber losses from some form of information technology failure, whether by malfunction, human error or breach. An unauthorized intrusion could rob your business of assets, damage its reputation and prevent it from operating. Cyber Liability Insurance helps your business cover the financial costs resulting from a cyber loss.

Management Liability Insurance: Directors, Officers & Entity Liability insurance (D&O), Employment Practices Liability insurance (EPLI), Fiduciary Liability, Crime, and Kidnap and Ransom/Extortion address the typical management liability insurance risks private companies face. This coverage is designed to help protect directors and partners from financially devastating lawsuits.

Professional Liability Insurance: Even if you’re an expert in your business, you may make a mistake and if the client or customer thinks the mistake impacted them financially, you may be sued. Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, or E&O insurance, helps cover you and your company if you are found negligent in the professional services you provided.

Umbrella Liability Insurance: Commercial Umbrella Insurance provides businesses with additional liability coverage to help protect them against the potentially ruinous costs of claims. Significant assets can be at risk when businesses are the target of lawsuits. If the cost of a claim exceeds the limits of a business’s underlying primary insurance policies, Commercial Umbrella Insurance extends liability coverage for an additional layer of insurance to further protect business assets.

Business Continuation: One of the first things any business owner needs to consider is how to protect against events that may threaten the future of the business, like the death or disability of a proprietor, partner or key employee or an unanticipated interruption to operations.

Business Income Insurance: Business Income coverage helps replace income lost when a business is unable to operate due to a covered property loss such as damage from a fire, theft or wind.

Let’s start with the worst-case scenario: the death of one of the business owners. What will happen to your business if you die? Many small-business owners take out loans to help grow their businesses, and often secure these loans with personal assets. If you have business loans and were to die before they were paid off, you might think your family could sell or liquidate the business to cover the debts and provide financial security for them. In reality, this rarely happens. When the family is forced to sell the business quickly, they may have to sell at a discount or during market conditions that make the business less attractive. In other cases, the business may be worth very little without the proprietor or partner. Individual life insurance can protect your family by providing funds to cover debts, ongoing living expenses and future plans, in the event that something happens to you.
Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income if you were to become sick or injured and unable to work. It’s an important type of insurance coverage that is often overlooked, as few people stop to consider what would happen to their business and their personal income if they were unable to work. In addition, business owners should consider business overhead insurance, which reimburses a business for overhead expenses in the event a business owner becomes totally disabled. A policy typically pays benefits for one to two years and helps cover expenses like salaries, taxes, employee benefits, rent, mortgage, utilities, equipment, malpractice premiums, etc. That could mean the difference between a business surviving or shuttering its doors.
Life insurance also can be structured to fund a buy-sell agreement. This is a contract among owners to buy a deceased owner’s share of the business at a previously agreed upon price in the event of death, disability or retirement.
Key person insurance is another essential component of a smart business continuation plan. Key person insurance is life or disability insurance purchased by the business on such an employee and payable to the business. When a key person dies or becomes disabled, insurance can help make up for lost sales or earnings or cover the cost of finding or training a replacement.

Employee Benefits: A good benefits program is essential for attracting new employees and retaining current ones. Surveys show that three in four workers consider benefits a decisive factor in weighing new job opportunities. Benefits like health and disability insurance and retirement plans are very desirable to employees, but they can also be costly to employers. That’s why many employers share the costs with their employees. There are also voluntary benefit programs that allow employees to purchase or increase their benefits themselves, often through automatic payroll deduction. An insurance professional can help you select the right mix of benefits and guide you through the various plan options. This section highlights the main benefit plans you’ll want to consider in crafting your employee benefits program.

The one thing almost every employee wants and needs is health insurance. The most common plans are health maintenance organizations (HMOs), preferred provider organizations (PPOs), point of service (POS) and indemnity plans. Another option for businesses that want to provide employees with health insurance coverage is to offer them access to a health savings account (HSA), which is a tax-free medical savings account that must be paired with a high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP).
Compared with other popular benefits, a basic life insurance benefit is relatively inexpensive to provide. Some employers provide a modest lump sum benefit (e.g., $10,000 or $20,000), while others offer employees a multiple of their income (e.g., one or two times their annual salary).
Short-term disability insurance plans usually offer benefits that are paid for a maximum of 26 weeks, while long-term disability insurance benefits generally continue for the length of the disability or until retirement age.
Dental insurance plans generally cover part or all of the cost of cleaning, X-rays, annual oral exams and fillings. Some plans also cover major items such as crowns and restorative work. Most plans do not cover orthodontics. In some areas, dental maintenance organizations (DMOs) may be available. They function in much the same way as medical HMOs and may be less expensive than traditional plans. A typical vision plan includes an annual routine eye exam, an annual contribution towards prescription eyewear, and a glaucoma screening.
With the exception of health insurance, retirement plans are the benefit employees desire most. Commonly known as pension plans, defined benefit plans require employers to pay a fixed annual amount to eligible employees during their retirement years. They allow employers a high degree of tax savings, and in good times, favorable growth rates can reduce or eliminate the employer’s contribution. However, they can be costly to administer and may require higher contributions in times of poor or negative investment returns. Defined contribution plans allow employers and employees to contribute a set amount or percentage of pay, and retirement benefits are based on the actual performance of the funds. These plans give the employer better cost control as the contribution is defined. The amount an employee can contribute is based on a percentage of their salary up to a maximum amount defined by law.

Executive Benefits: Executive benefits help you offer your best employees a higher level of benefits and compensation, along with significant tax advantages. They also compensate for the fact that most 401(k) programs restrict the ability of executives to accumulate enough money on a tax-favored basis to fund the retirement lifestyle they desire.

This is a selective employee benefit that allows business owners to help key employees defer income and the taxes due on that income until a later date, usually retirement. The plan can also be used to provide executives with additional life and disability benefits in addition to the basic coverage that all employees receive.
Often called “Executive Bonus Plans,” section 162 plans are a simple way to reward your top people. Under this type of plan, the employee purchases a permanent life insurance policy on his or her life. The company pays the executive a bonus equal to the premium, which is usually considered taxable income to the employee and tax-deductible to the employer. The employee controls the policy, including the death benefit and the cash value, which accumulates tax-free until it is withdrawn.
Most group long-term disability policies provide roughly 60% of an employee’s income, up to a stated maximum. For most employees, two-thirds of their income won’t exceed the employer’s maximum benefit. But for highly compensated executives, the maximum benefit may amount to less than 50% of their take-home pay in the event of a disability. To address this problem, employers often purchase additional individual disability income policies on these executives to bring their total benefit, on a percentage basis, up to the same level of all other employees.
Long-term care insurance (LTCi) pays for care the elderly or people with chronic illness may need on a daily basis over an extended period, ranging from assistance with daily activities to skilled care from nurses or therapists.

Solutions for Startups

Starting a business is complicated. We can provide valuable guidance. 


Testimonials

  • “I come in contact with many insurance brokers in the course of my practice – even more so with the advent of the Affordable Care Act requirements. Some are ill-prepared or still in denial. Others call me from the car on the way to a client meeting asking for a summary of the ACA in ten minutes. On the flip side of this coin is the Sylvia Group agency. Their clients are very fortunate to have a broker who is knowledgeable about employee benefit matters. The fact that Sylvia Group invited me, an ERISA lawyer, to conduct a live client seminar on the new ACA employer information reporting requirements indicates to me that they are engaged in the process and they care about their clients.”

    – RICHARD A. SZCZEBAK, Esq., RAS Law, P.C.

  • “By giving, advocating and volunteering, Sylvia Group has proven they are dedicated to our community. Whether they are volunteering at one of our Day of Caring events or working with us to provide affordable health insurance and benefits to our employees, Sylvia Group does whatever they can do to make a difference for United Way of Greater New Bedford. The team at Sylvia Group is a trusted group of dedicated professionals, and we thoroughly enjoy working with them.”

    – MICHELLE N. HANTMAN, President and CEO, United Way of Greater New Bedford

  • “Sylvia Group is very responsive to our ever-changing needs. Jill White provided us with wonderful support when we moved our child-care program location. She ensured that our coverage was seamless and that it met all of our program, licensing and funding needs. Sylvia Group always assists us immediately when we have questions and/or requests. We know we are in good hands and that they have the best interest of our YWCA participants in mind. It's a pleasure to work with the staff of Sylvia Group; they are truly customer-focused.”

    – GAIL FORTES, Executive Director, YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts

  • “Thanks to John Beauregard and the professionals at Sylvia Group, our MassMEDIC membership has paid immediate dividends. Through the BIO Business Solutions® program, Primo Medical received a significant premium reduction on our Professional Liability policy. In addition, utilizing Chubb as our insurance provider and Sylvia Group as our broker, we’re confident that we have business partners who truly understand our insurance needs, provide outstanding loss control services and continue to work with us to lower our total cost of risk.”

    – CHRISTOPHER LAPLANTE, Chief Financial Officer, Primo Medical Group

  • "Getting the right insurance to guard against risks is absolutely critical for nonprofits, as well as other businesses; dealing with a costly claim could force a nonprofit to shut down permanently. Going with the Sylvia Group, we made the right decision and have never looked back. They have a thorough knowledge of nonprofits, where risks can oftentimes be more complex. They have gotten to know our mix of services, evaluated our insurance needs and designed an insurance program around our specific insurance coverage needs — allowing us, on a tight budget, to purchase the right amount and type of insurance at the best value. Sylvia Group staff have built strong, personalized helping relationships with our staff. I can sleep at night knowing they make sure that our insurance policies are adequate to cover our risk exposures. I have recommended, without hesitation, the Sylvia Group to my colleagues working in both the nonprofit and for-profit arenas."

    - MARIA A. ROSARIO, Executive Director, NorthStar Learning Centers, Inc.

  • “Sylvia Group is an attentive, professional and knowledgeable insurance agency. They are familiar with the ever-changing rules and regulations when it comes to independent, nonprofit schools., and John Beauregard always goes above and beyond for Friends Academy. Whether it is something small, like registering a new school vehicle, or something bigger, like filing a claim after our greenhouse was destroyed by a hurricane, he treats every question and every claim with utmost importance. Sylvia Group is invested in our program as well; John sponsors and participates in our yearly golf tournament. Sylvia Group is an exceptional insurance company that I would recommend to all my cohorts.”

    – KATHERINE FURTADO, Chief Financial Officer, Friends Academy

  • “The Sylvia Group team provides a multitude of services in all aspects of employee benefits. The team's dedication to their clientele is apparent through their willingness to provide trainings in your office, at their business and through valuable webinar resources. They are readily available to answer questions and help with any issues that may arise. CMHS, Inc. appreciates the relationship that we have enjoyed with the Sylvia Group throughout the years.”

    – JOHN WINTERHALTER, President, Comprehensive Mental Health Systems, Inc.

  • “I want to thank you for this incredible resource, ThinkHR. We will be accessing it frequently and appreciate Sylvia Group making this available to Advanced Eye Centers.”

    - PAUL C. ABRANTES, Executive Director, Advanced Eye Centers

  • “I love your staff. In the first three or four weeks after we moved over to Sylvia Group for our insurance, I have had more communication and attention from them than I had in the seven or eight years we were with our former agency! You have a great team.”

    – PAT CASSAN, Ocean Explorium

  • “I just wanted to take the time to recognize what a remarkable job Danielle Andre is doing. I cannot thank her enough for her time, her kindness and her willingness to make sure I’m comfortable with all the necessary changes that occurred from an insurance standpoint. As a whole, every Sylvia Group staff member has been friendly and knowledgeable, but Danielle has certainly gone above and beyond for me.”

    – SHANNON S., Personal Insurance client

  • “I so appreciate Julie Jennings' help with Medicare planning. It is a relief to be able to consult with a knowledgeable professional on insurance issues. I have no idea how people do this without such help.”

    – CHRIS BLACK, Personal Insurance client

  • “Working with Sylvia Group over recent years has taken our insurance issues from 'groans and moans' to 'no problem.' Rose Lopes, our Account Manager, is one of the most responsive people I have ever worked with. She responds immediately to questions or special requests. It is such a pleasure to work with Rose, who does whatever it takes to find a solution to our needs. We are very pleased… She always has our interests in mind.”

    – LYNNE FOLEY, Director of Human Resources, Five Star Companies, Inc.

  • “Sylvia Group is an attentive, professional and knowledgeable insurance agency. They are familiar with the ever-changing rules and regulations when it comes to independent, nonprofit schools, and John Beauregard always goes above and beyond for Friends Academy. Whether it is something small, like registering a new school vehicle, or something bigger, like filing a claim after our greenhouse was destroyed by a hurricane, he treats every question and every claim with utmost importance. Sylvia Group is an exceptional insurance agency that I would recommend to all my cohorts.” - KATHERINE FURTADO, Chief Financial Officer, Friends Academy

  • "Sylvia Group is by far the best insurance agency I have ever dealt with, both personally and in my business. They provide customer support that is not found in other agencies. For example, they take a personal interest in their clients, calls are always taken or returned immediately, and during reviews suggestions are made to offer the most cost effective and comprehensive coverage. When claims occur, they have always been there to facilitate the process. It has truly been a pleasure to have them represent me in my insurance needs."

    - WILLIAM N. WHELAN, Chairman, Whelan Associates LLC

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