Adding Outside Dining to Your Portland Maine Restaurant

Portland and South Portland Maine recently passed ordinances expanding outdoor seating options for local restaurants. These respond to indications that coronavirus is less likely to spread outdoors. Soon, some local restaurants will be able to serve patrons :

  • on sidewalks
  • in parking lots or closed streets
  • in on-street parklets.

Transitioning a Restaurant to Outdoor Dining

Outdoor dining isn’t for every restaurant. Depending on your cuisine, location, formality and clientele, you may choose not to serve al fresco. If you do, here are some things to consider.

  1. Check city rules and resources. Portland and South Portland city web sites have the ordinances and applications for permits and street closures.
  2. Up your cleaning game. During the COVID threat, you’re already doing extra cleaning and disinfecting. Outside adds new cleaning challenges: pollen, dust, litter and even insects.
  3. Keep it light – and smooth. Make sure there’s enough light for employees and customers to see well. Paint or tape the edge of irregular surface levels. Avoid loose cords and other trip hazards.
  4. Watch the skies. That includes the sun. Plan your seating to avoid excessive sun exposure during meal service, if possible. Summer thunderstorms can develop fast. Have a plan to quickly evacuate your dining area and secure umbrellas and other furniture. That will help avoid injury and damage.
  5. Beware of vehicles. Create barriers between diners and vehicles – including bikes and scooters that might be on sidewalks.
  6. Watch outdoor flames. Keep propane heaters, cooking equipment and other heat sources away from flammables like fabrics and awnings.
  7. Check your insurance. Many liquor liability policies only cover you “on premises.” Does that extend to a parking lot or street? The same with property insurance for your outdoor seating and fixtures. Ask your agent about your insurance coverage.

Do you own a Portland Maine area restaurant, cafe, food truck, brewery or other food service business? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re local business owners, just like you. We offer a choice of Maine’s top business insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.

Does Insurance Cover Loss of Business from Coronavirus?

UPDATED 4/2/2020

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease), has everyone’s attention. It’s changed behavior around the world, and now it’s here. Business owners feel it. Emergency declarations have forced many to close for the duration.

For those businesses remaining open, routines and procedures are completely disrupted. No more non-essential shopping, eating at restaurants or going to shows. No going out for drinks or coffee. Instead, people are stockpiling supplies, staying home, washing, disinfecting and keeping their distance.

COVID-19 is causing turmoil for businesses large and small. Inventory control and staffing are all messed up. Marketing and sales are on hold as clients and prospects are otherwise occupied.

What if Your Business Suffers due to Coronavirus?

Many businesses feel threatened.

  • What if fear causes my customers to stay home?
  • What if I can’t get inventory or supplies?
  • How can I keep my employees safe?
  • What if my employees get sick and can’t work?
  • What if I have to disinfect or close my workplace?
  • The government has restricted movement in my area.
  • What if economic fear or market changes cause me to lose sales?

Do My Policies Cover Business Interruption?

Unfortunately, business insurance is very unlikely to cover you against lost business due to Coronavirus. Even policies that provide “”business interruption” coverage exclude damage caused by communicable diseases. They also require physical damage to your premises by a covered peril, like fire or water.

If Not, Why Not?

You probably don’t care about the reason behind the exclusion, but there is one. Put simply, diseases are too uncertain for insurers to accurately price insurance to cover them.

Insurance companies have a lot of experience with fires, hurricanes, and other disasters. They know how to price insurance for that, and they know that these perils are local or regional in scope. They can collect enough premium from everyone to pay for the few who suffer a loss.

Viruses are extremely rare – or even unknown – until they’re widespread. And it’s hard to quantify a resulting drop in business. Profits and sales are subject to changing factors: weather, competition, consumer preferences. It’s very hard to put a dollar value on lost sales directly caused by a public health threat.

Should I File a Business Interruption Claim Anyway?

Although the chances of coverage are very small, each business situation is unique . Coronavirus is new for everyone. Insurers are trying to deal with it just like everyone else. Coverage interpretations and response may evolve.

No one wants to file a claim, only to have it denied. But, you may choose to anyway. Here are two reasons why it might be a good idea to file a claim with your insurer.

  1. By contract, insurance companies must investigate each claim to determine if coverage applies. If they find that coverage does not apply, they must show the wording in your insurance policy that precludes it.
  2. The government could create a relief program in the future that might apply to your loss of income. Government could also force insurers to create coverage, in spite of policy wording. Such government actions would probably require you to prove your loss. You might also have to show that your insurance policy provided no coverage for the incident.

Resources for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19

Congress passed the CARES Act in March, 2020 to help people and businesses weather the economic effect of Coronavirus. This Small Business Owners Guide to the CARES Act provides a good recap of the bill. It tells you how to apply for benefits, which are widespread. We encourage our affected clients to apply early if they’re affected.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million. The goal is to help small businesses overcome a temporary loss of revenue.  These are loans, not grants. They must be repaid.

The Maine CDC Coronavirus information page is a good resource for Maine businesses and citizens. It contains factual and timely information about the disease and its effect on our state.

We’re Here to Help our Neighbors

We are a local business. We live and work in Greater Portland. While insurance may not be able to help our clients directly, we still want to be accessible. We want to help where and how we can.

While our office is closed to the public, we’re available by phone, email or our website. Our insurance company partners also continue serving customers while keeping their employees safe.

Stay Safe

Public health scares and economic uncertainty create anxiety. Most business owners feel responsible for the safety of their employees and customers, as well as their loved ones.

We hope that all or our clients, friends and business partners remain safe and calm during these trying times. We’re here to answer your insurance questions.

In this anxious season, check on family and friends. Be kind to each other. Together, we can make it through.

Portland Maine Area Short Term Rental Rules

Many cities and towns struggle to balance short term rental with affordable housing. Advocates for short term rental say it encourages property improvements and neighborhood revitalization. They believe private property owners use should be free from government intervention.


Short term rental opponents say owner occupancy and long term leases foster community. They argue that short term rental erodes that community. They also contend that STR contributes to high housing prices. By removing inventory from the market, STR reduces long term housing supply.


Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth Maine are not immune to short term rental controversy. Both passed STR ordinances in 2018 after contentious debate. These laws restrict the time, place and type of short term rental activity. You can find recaps of Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth STR regulations at the bottom of the page.

Insurance for Short Term Rentals in Maine

Thinking of renting your Maine property on AirBnb, HomeAway, VRBO or another short term rental platform? Check with your insurance agent. You may need special insurance to protect yourself. STR platforms also include insurance for hosts. Most of this insurance is supplemental. It’s not intended to replace your primary insurance policy.

If you need insurance for your short term rental property in the Portland Maine area, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. If you meet Portland or South Portland’s STR laws, we may help you choose the best insurance value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Portland Maine Short Term Rental Law

This information is current as of 12/1/18 (Code of Ordinances Sec 6-150 et seq.)

  • Short-term rental operators must register yearly and pay a fee.
  • Maximum of 400 unhosted units allowed on mainland.
  • Property owners may register up to 5 STR units combined.
  • Up to 5 units within primary residence (bedrooms, separate spaces, etc.)
  • Non-owner-occupied single-family homes and condominium units may not be rented out short term.
  • Only homes or apartments used as a primary residence can be registered as owner-occupied.
  • No more than two short-term rental guests are allowed per bedroom. Two more may use other areas for sleeping.
  • multi-unit buildings have their own rules (below)
Portland Maine multi-unit building STR limits

South Portland Maine Short Term Rental Law

Current as of 1/1/2019 (Ordinance #22-17/18)

  • Unhosted non-owner-occupied short-term rentals prohibited in residential zones (single-family home owners may rent their primary homes up to 14 days per year).
  • Owner-occupied short-term rentals allowed under certain conditions in residential zones.
  • Requires city-issued registration number in STR advertisement
  • Short-term rental operators must register yearly and pay a fee.
  • Short-term rental operators must also be inspected, insured, and licensed by the city and collect Maine sales tax.
  • No more than two short-term rental guests are allowed per bedroom and six total per occupancy.

Cape Elizabeth Maine Short Term Rental Law

Current as of 1/1/2019 (Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 19)

  • Apply to Town Code Enforcement Officer for a STR permit.
  • No permit required for < 14 days per year
  • For non-owner occupied properties,
    • No more than 12 tenants at a time from May 1 to October 31
    • No more than 2 tenants per bedroom.
    • No more than 8 tenants at a time.
    • No more than 2 weeks rental per month
    • 7 day minimum rental period

Maine Sales Tax on Short Term Rentals

The State of Maine requires owners of “casual rental” property to pay 9% sales tax. Properties rented fewer than 15 days per year are exempt. For more information about sales tax on short term rental, see Maine Revenue Services Bulletin 32.

Commercial Leases in Maine – Protecting Your Business

Are you looking for a commercial lease for your Maine business? Moving your business from home or a co-working space to your first real office? Expanding your retail footprint from Portland to Westbrook or Scarborough? Just looking for new space? Either way, negotiating and signing a lease is a big move. It’s also a big commitment. And a legal contract.

A new location is an exciting opportunity for your Maine business. It’s tempting to lock in a great location by quickly signing a lease. Be a smart business person. Review it with your attorney, accountant and insurance agent first. It can save you trouble during the term of your business lease.

Why a Written Lease is Important

It’s good to have a written lease. It’s a legal contract that you can refer to whenever you have questions about your space. It’s also in black-and-white, which reduces misunderstanding when conflicts arise. And, a written lease is easy to review with your trusted advisors. 

Review Your Lease with Your Advisors – Before You Sign It

If you have an attorney, make sure they review your lease. They know what clauses are standard, and which are unusual in the Southern Maine market. They can help you negotiate with your potential landlord. Likewise, your accountant can determine tax implications of your lease. They can set you up to properly record your lease expenditures. 

Don’t forget to review your lease with your Maine business insurance agent. Your lease requires property and liability business insurance. Your agent can help make sure you meet your lease obligations.  They can also keep your property and other assets protected. Finally, they can help you build an insurance budget for your new location.

Insurance Implications of Your Commercial Lease

Depending on your operations and your lease agreement, you may need to update your business insurance.  Here are a few examples.


BUSINESS PROPERTY INSURANCE AND YOUR LEASE


Insuring building items and improvements. 
Your new space may need a build-out. Who pays for that? Who insures it after it’s done? And who owns it, and when? A well-written lease addresses those issues.

A good Maine business insurance agent can help you determine whether you need to insure improvements. If you do, they can also tell you how much it will cost. Triple net leases require a tenant to assume many expenses of the building, including insurance. Your agent can help you budget for that. 

Insuring Your Contents and Inventory
Your new place may be larger, or be an additional location for your business. If so, increase your insurance to make sure that your assets are properly protected. Don’t forget to insurer new signage, awnings, etc. 

In Case of Emergency
What does your lease say about damage to the property? What if the property is damaged to the point where you can’t operate your business for some time? A well-crafted lease outlines the extent of damage and the time limit that triggers the clause.

It’s one thing for your lease to allow you to move somewhere else in case of damage to the property. It’s another thing to be able to afford to move, and to let your customers know about it. An astute Maine business insurance agent can help you buy insurance to pay for business interruption and extra expenses. 


BUSINESS LIABILITY INSURANCE AND YOUR LEASE


Your lease may require a certain amount of business liability insurance protection. That may be more insurance than you currently have. You might even need business umbrella insurance to satisfy the lease requirements. Your commercial insurance agent can provide figures to build into your pro-forma for the new location. 


Who’s Responsible for What? 
Your lease should outline what areas you are responsible for vs. the landlord. It may address issues such as maintenance and snow removal. Make sure that you know what your lease commits you to. Share that with your business insurance agent. 


Hold Harmless Clause / Mutual Waiver of Subrogation
Many commercial leases have a “hold harmless” clause. This prevents a landlord from suing a tenant or vice versa, except in cases of extreme negligence. These clauses help to maintain good relations between the parties. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, the landlord and tenant simply pay for damage to the property they’re responsible for in the lease. Many leases also have a “mutual waiver of subrogation.” This prevents the landlord and tenants’ insurance companies from collecting from an other at-fault party after they pay a claim. It’s important to share your lease with your insurance agent so they can make sure your insurance is properly set up. 


Additional Insureds and Certificates of Insurance
Many leases require tenants to make the landlord an Additional Insured under their policy. Insurance companies are generally willing to do this when required in a lease. Some insurance companies charge extra for Additional Insureds. Check with your business insurance agent to build your budget.

Does your new location have an exterior sign or outdoor seating area? The city or town may require a certificate of liability insurance showing them as an Additional Insured. Hanging signs and outdoor seating are popular in areas like the Old Port and downtown Westbrook, Biddeford and Saco. The city wants to make sure that if your sign injures someone, your insurance will pay. Overhead signs are also common in suburban strip retail areas, such as Scarborough, South Portland and Falmouth. 

Are you looking for a commercial lease for your southern Maine business?
Call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s best business insurance companies. We can help make sure your insurance meets your lease requirements. We can also help you build your insurance budget for this location. We’re independent and committed to you.

What Maine Small Business Owners Need to Know About Insurance

Running your small Portland, ME business can be a rewarding and satisfying endeavor. However, without the right liability insurance coverage, running your small business open you up to lawsuits. Here is a brief description from Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance of the most common business liability insurance.

Worker’s Comp

Worker’s compensation insurance is required in Maine for any business with employees. As a business owner, you need to stay up to date on your state’s requirements concerning worker’s compensation insurance. Worker’s compensation insurance protects your employees when they are injured on the job. This also protects you as the employer from liability for said injuries.

Liability Insurance

General liability is one of the most important types of insurance for the small business owner to have. Liability can come in many forms. Individuals can get injured on your property or by your product. Something could go wrong with a service you provided resulting in damage or injury. Liability insurance will protect you in these situations and ensure that your company is not required to pay out of pocket for these types of liability claims.

Commercial Auto

If your company owns vehicles in order to provide services or deliveries, then you need business auto insurance. Commercial vehicle insurance can cover your drivers and your vehicles in the event of an accident. If your company uses vehicles, then you will no doubt have invested a good deal of money into those vehicles. This will protect that investment.

Umbrella Insurance

Commercial umbrella insurance policies help small business cover all their bases in one simple policy. Umbrella policies provide high limits of liabilty over your general liability and business auto policies. To learn more about small businesses, contact our friendly staff at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance serving Portland, ME at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s best business insurance companies, so we can help you find the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Why Maine is a Great Place to do Business

Are you thinking about opening a business in Maine?

If so, you should consider doing so in Portland, ME. This city stands out as a location where entrepreneurs have access to all the resources they need to find success with their new business. In fact, Portland has been ranked as the ninth best location for women entrepreneurs and number five for starting a business overall. If you are starting a business, you need to protect it with proper commercial insurance coverage with the help of Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance.

Keep reading to find more reasons why Greater Portland is such a great place to start a business.

Maine Has Great Support Network for Entrepreneurs

The history of underemployment in Maine has helped to spark several institutions that are designed to support and fund entrepreneurs. For example, The Maine Venture Fund, which was established in 1995 has currently received more than $13 million to provide startup companies. Maine Center for Economic Development, Startup Maine, Top Gun, Greenlight Maine and other resources help startup business owners to network and learn. Several Portland coworking spaces offer work and meeting rooms, including Think Tank, Cloudport, Engine Room and Peloton Labs.

Integration of  Maine Values into Business 

Another reason that Maine is such a great place to do business is the fact that this is a location where values are at the forefront of business ideas. For example, a recently opened company, American Roots, sells ethically sourced, fleece clothing made in Maine. The state is brimming with young values-based companies including GrandyOats, Heritage Seaweed and Flowfold.

As you can see, the Portland Maine area is a great place to open a business. Before you take the leap, be sure you have the proper protection for your business. The best way to do this is by purchasing a robust insurance policy from a quality insurer. Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance today. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred business insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

Contractors Liability Insurance in Maine – What does it Cost?

If you’re a contractor or subcontractor in Greater Portland Maine, you will have to show proof of liability insurance to get preferred jobs. Whether you’re a Maine carpenter, plumber, electrician or other trade contractor, people or businesses who hire you want to know that you’ll be able to pay for any damage or injury caused by your work. A certificate of insurance shows proof of liability insurance.

 

How Much Does Contractors Liability Insurance Cost in Maine?

The cost of your insurance depends on several factors:

  • What kind of work you do (type, number and size of jobs)
  • How much experience you have
  • How much liability insurance you buy
  • Whether you’re insured now, and how long you’ve been insured
  • Your insurance claims experience

 

My Job Requires $1 Million of Contractors General Liability Insurance. Isn’t That Too Much?

One million is a common requirement, even for smaller jobs. It seems like a lot of money, but it’s not when you consider how much damage or injury you could cause in a worst-case scenario. Many contracts for larger jobs require even higher limits. Fortunately, insurance companies readily provide these limits. The prices are probably lower than you think.

 

Can I Get Contractors Liability Insurance Today?

If you currently have insurance, have a proven track record of work and few or no claims, many insurance companies want your business. You can get insurance right away. If you’re new in business, or have never had insurance, it may take longer.

 

I’m Starting a Maine Contracting Business. Can I Get Insurance?

Congratulations on your big leap! Do you have lots of experience as a supervisor? Are you going out on your own after years of working for someone else? Many insurance companies will take you on as a new business with that kind of experience.

 

How Long Does it Take to Get Proof of Insurance in Maine?

Once your coverage is bound, your insurance agent can send insurance certificates to anyone who’s requesting one.

 

Do I Need to Get Certificates of Insurance from Maine Subcontractors?

Yes! Without proof that your subs have their own insurance, you may be responsible for injuries to them or damage they cause. Always collect and keep certificates of insurance from subs you hire. Otherwise, your insurance company will increase your rates at the end of your policy for your added responsibility.

 

What Other Insurance Does a Maine Contractor Need?

In addition to general liability, you may want to protect your tools and equipment against theft or damage. If you have a business vehicle, you’ll need commercial vehicle insurance. And if you hire employees, you must provide workers compensation insurance. Fortunately, insurance companies can bundle some of these with your general liability policy. This reduces cost and confusion from multiple bills and policies.

 

How to Get Maine Contractors General Liability Insurance

If you have a contracting business in Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook or elsewhere in Greater Portland, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or click the “get a quote” button below. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, including MMG Insurance, Concord Group, Hanover, Liberty Mutual, Acadia Insurance and more. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

Maine Drone Insurance

Maine businesses are using drones to create unique video, capture aerial shots, and check locations that would otherwise be hazardous or difficult to access. Photographers and videographers capture unique images and videos. Marketers use drones to create compelling and  content. Real estate agents and developers use drones to show the attractiveness and potential of properties.

New Drone Insurance Program in Maine

Acadia Insurance Drone coverageWe were excited to learn today about Acadia Insurance‘s new drone insurance program.  Until today, our clients have had to insure their drones in Maine with specialty insurance programs. That meant separate billing, coverage and claims. Sometimes, it’s even meant that they had to work directly with the insurance company, with no agent to help. Insurance company financial stability isn’t a given for these programs.

The Acadia program allows Maine businesses to insure their drone with the rest of their property and liability. One bill, one claim adjuster, one agent. Acadia is based in Westbrook, Maine and already insures thousands of Maine businesses. They’ve introduced special programs inspired by iconic and growing Maine businesses, from breweries to artisans and contractors.


related post: Are Drones Covered by Maine Homeowners or Business Insurance?


Do you use a drone in your Maine business? Have you bought insurance from a specialty program or an insurance company you’ve never heard of? Do you wonder if they’ll be able to pay claims? Do you struggle to speak to a human at your insurance company? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re eager to see if Acadia Insurance can help Maine businesses insure their drones with a Maine insurance company.

Commercial Insurance for Maine Small Business

Maine small businesses face many of the same hazards as their larger counterparts. They are also unique, and as such, they have unique insurance needs. For businesses in the Portland, South Portland and Scarborough, ME area, the agents with Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance can help you to find the right insurance policy to protect their unique operations.

Maine small businesses are not legally required to carry property or liability insurance. If your business has employees, you must carry Workers Compensation insurance, though. Smart business owners know that insurance is a cost-effective way to protect their investment in property such as inventory, fixtures and equipment. They also know that business liability insurance will protect them from lawsuits alleging negligence that causes injury or property damage.

Many business contracts require proof of insurance. These include rental agreements and leases, equipment leases, and independent contractor agreements.  A Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent can help you determine what kind of insurance you need and how much. They’ll help work within your budget so you don’t buy too much – or too little – insurance. For those in the Greater Portland, ME area, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance offers the choice of several of Maine’s preferred insurers. We’re independent and committed to you. Call us at 207-799-5541.

Maine Business Insurance – How Much Does it Cost?

If you’re starting or running a business in Maine, your budget includes insurance. How much fire, auto or liability insurance do you need, and what will it cost? The answer varies, depending on what your business does. Restaurants pay more for fire insurance because of open flames and heat. Web designers pay more for professional insurance due to copyright infringement hazards. Breweries and other manufacturers spend more for product liability insurance. Contractors and food trucks pay more for auto insurance because they have a lot of equipment on the road.

Your business location affects your insurance costs, too. Business insurance in Portland or Southern Maine may cost more due to more congested roads, exposure to out-of-state travel and more a more litigious environment. But, business fire insurance may cost less in Portland, South Portland, Scarborough or nearby southern Maine towns due to strong fire protection.

Average Costs for Small Business Insurance in Portland Maine

The business clients of Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, an independent agency in South Portland Maine, pay an average of:

  • $3600 for all their commercial vehicles
  • $4500 for workers compensation
  • $1400 for business property insurance
  • $2600 for business liability insurance
  • $2750 for professional liability (Errors & Omissions) insurance

Those figures include all business clients, large and small. Some clients only need business liability coverage; others need all the insurances.

What Would It Cost to Insure Your Maine Business or Idea?

If you own a business or a startup business in Maine, we can help you find out. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred business insurance companies, so we can survey the market. We’re independent and committed to you.  Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland Maine, or click “get a quote” above. In the end, you’ll know how much to budget for insurance, and what kind of business insurance you need.