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.

Should You Cancel Workers Comp Insurance When You Lay Off Employees?

If a business downturn causes you to lay off employees, you might want to cancel your workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp coverage is required when you hire someone. Without employees, it’s overhead you would like to cut.

But canceling your insurance isn’t always the best move. Here’s why.

Three Reasons Not to Cancel Workers’ Comp Too Quickly

  1. It’s hard to scale up again. Do you expect the downturn to be temporary? You will need to re-apply for workers’ comp when you hire employees again. This costs time, effort and money.
  2. You may lose valuable dividends. MEMIC, Maine’s largest workers’ comp insurer, has paid dividends several years in a row. If you cancel, your business has to wait 3 years to start earning dividends again.
  3. You may lose loss-free discounts. By canceling your policy, you lose the benefit of any loss-free discounts you’ve earned. When you re-start your policy, it takes time to accumulate those discounts again.

Cost-Cutting Alternatives to Canceling Your Workers’ Compensation Policy

  1. Reduce estimated payroll. Workers’ comp premiums are based upon payroll amounts. Layoffs mean lower payrolls, so it’s fine to reduce estimates. This may create a refund without actually canceling your policy.
  2. Change payment plans. Most workers’ comp insurers offer installment plans. Spreading payments may allow you to better match cash flow without losing benefits.

Updating your Maine workers’ comp policy may be smarter than canceling it altogether. Closing your business, or have no plans to hire for more than a year? Then it’s proper to cancel your workers’ comp insurance.

Maine Workers’ Compensation Insurance Questions?

For answers to your Maine workers’ compensation questions, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. 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.

Independent Contractors and Maine Workers Compensation

Hiring an independent contractor a great way to expand your company’s products and services without adding overhead. The right sub can make you look good.

Subcontractor or Employee?

By Maine law, a worker is an employee unless they meet tests to be an independent contractor. That makes them subject to employment tax and workers compensation. If your Maine business hires independents, here’s what you need to do.

Get Documentation from Subcontractors

Workers compensation charges sub costs as payroll unless you have proof of subcontractor status. That can be a very expensive surprise. And the bill is due in lump sum.

Reduce Your Maine Workers Comp Costs

Certificates of insurance and WCB266s are “get out of jail free” cards. Use them to avoid a costly workers compensation insurance audit.

For more Maine Workers Compensation insurance tips, contact Noyes Hall & Allen in South Portland at 207-799-5541. 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.

Maine Food Truck Insurance

Food trucks have roamed the streets of Portland Maine for several years.  Now they’re popping up in places from Biddeford Saco to Westbrook, Scarborough to Freeport, Sugarloaf to Sunday River. Food truck insurance can be a challenge for an inexperienced insurance agent. Insurance companies know how to insure trucks. They know how to insure restaurants. But rolling restaurants are different.

5 Types of Insurance Every Food Truck Needs

  • General Liability  Insurance

    If someone breaks a tooth in a crabmeat roll or gets food poisoning after eating your product, they’re going to come back to you. GL coverage pays for these claims, as well as slips and falls and other injuries or damage that occur at your location.

  • Business Auto Insurance

    If you get in an accident while you’re on the move, you need to have your food truck fixed and back online soon. If you’re at fault, you’ll also need protection to pay for the damage and injury you cause.

  • Workers Compensation Insurance

    By law, you’re required to provide Maine workers comp coverage for your employees. If they’re injured at work or miss time due to an on-the-job injury or illness, workers compensation insurance pays them.

  • Business Property Insurance

    You have a big investment in your inventory, fixtures and supplies, both at the commissary and on your food truck. Insurance can protect that asset against fire, theft, equipment breakdown and more.

  • Loss Of Food Truck Income

    If your food truck is down, you have no income.  What if your fryer malfunctions, causing a fire? You could be off the road for the whole summer season. Or what if your best brewery location or outdoor venue suddenly shuts down due to a fire, windstorm or some other disaster? Business income insurance for food trucks can help you replace the income you lose following property losses like these.

Get Maine Food Truck Insurance

If you have questions about insuring a food truck in Maine, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen insurancce agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or click “get a quote” above. We’ve insured food trucks since they first came to Maine. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, including the Acadia Street Eats food truck program by Acadia Insurance. We’ll help you find an insurance solution that fits your business and your budget. We’re independent and committed to you.

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.

Commercial Insurance for Maine Business Start-Ups

Commercial insurance is requisite for any business in the modern world, including start-ups. In fact, new businesses or start-ups have the most to lose if things go south. Therefore, it’s vital to protect yourself in the best possible way – including getting commercial insurance. In Maine, this type of coverage is not mandated, but if you are serious about running a successful business, you need to get it.

Purchasing commercial insurance might be the difference between death and survival  for your start-up. If you are planning to open a new business in The Pine Tree State and need coverage, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in Portland, ME is the place to look. We offer the following commercial insurance coverage options for start-ups:

  • General Liability Insurance for Start-Ups. GL pays for losses arising from settlements, claims, or lawsuits that your start-up may face due to injuries or property damage caused to third parties.
  • Professional Liability Insurance. Many creative and tech startups would face disaster if sued for copyright infringement, programming error, printing mistakes and other gaffes. Professional liability insurance protects you and your reputation by defending you and paying damages you might owe.
  • Property Insurance for Start-Ups. This covers physical assets owned by your start-up. This includes your investments in inventory, structures, equipment and company vehicles (commercial auto insurance). Damages caused by wind and hail storms, fire, smoke, collision and vandalism fall under this category.
  • Flood Insurance.  Flood damage isn’t covered by business property insurance. That’s why you need flood insurance for your start-up. Remember that flooding can occur anywhere, anytime. It helps to be covered from the resultant losses.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance. In Maine, if you have employees, you’re required to provide workers comp insurance. Your employees are an essential part of your business. Ensure that they are taken care of in case of an accident that results in injury, disability, or missed work.

Other coverage options are available, but these are the most important. Commercial insurance is the best way to make sure that your business doesn’t go under after an unfortunate event. For more information on commercial insurance from Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in Portland, ME, call us at 207-799-5541, or visit our website to get the answers you need.

How Much Does Lawn Care / Landscaping Contractor Insurance Cost in Maine?

 

Maine’s growing season is short. Landscapers and lawn care contractors only have a few months to earn money. That means they must watch expenses carefully to be profitable. Too much overhead can be the difference between profit and loss for a Maine contractor. 

How Much Does Landscaping Liability Insurance Cost?

Prices vary depending on:

  • Whether you specialize or not – pesticide or heavy tree work specialists pay more for insurance.
  • How much experience you have – seasoned businesses with good experience pay less than start-ups.
  • How much you make – higher revenues means higher insurance costs. 
  • If you plow in winter – If you take on lots of commercial plowing jobs, you’ll pay more for coverage.

If you’re a single operator in Maine with a mower or two, you’ll probably pay less than $1500 a year. If you have heavier equipment to insure, you’ll pay a bit more.

 Do I Need Workers Compensation Insurance for My Landscaping Business?

If you have employees, yes. If not, you may or may not have to buy workers’ comp, depending on the legal setup of your business. For example, if you’re a “dba”, you can choose to cover yourself under workers compensation, but you’re not required to.


 

Related Post: Who Needs to Buy Workers’ Comp Insurance in Maine?


 

How Much Does Lawn Care Equipment Insurance Cost?

You can insure tools and equipment like deck mowers, weed trimmers, hand mowers and hedge trimmers on a contractors package policy. The price varies with the value of the equipment. It usually costs less than $3.00 per $1,000 of value. Some policies offer replacement cost coverage (new for old). Other policies cover depreciated value. Ask your agent what they’re quoting.

How Much Does it Cost to Insure My Landscaping Truck and Trailer?

Business vehicle insurance costs more than personal. For a brand new 1/2 ton pickup, budget about $1500 per year – more if you plow commercially. Even though it’s more expensive, it’s still a good idea to buy the business policy. You want to be covered properly.


Related Post: Should a Maine Contractor Insure Vehicles in a Business Name?


 

Can I Store My Lawn Care Stuff in My Garage at Home?

Storing fuel or equipment in an outbuilding  can VOID COVERAGE for that building on your homeowners policy. If you have gas cans and mowers in your detached garage, and a fire starts, destroying the garage, your homeowners policy will NOT cover the rebuilding cost – even if the mowers or fuel had nothing to do with the fire.

Talk to your homeowners insurance agent about how your policy deals with this. Another option: insure your garage on your contractors policy. You want to make sure you have insurance help to rebuild after a disaster.

Have questions about contractors insurance for Maine landscaping or lawn care business? If you live and work in the Portland Maine area, call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent at 207-799-5541. We represent many insurance companies, so we can recommend the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.