Murren Insurance in Fairfield, CT Personal Insurance | Car Insurance | Home | Auto | Commercial Insurance | Small Business Insurance | Get a Quote | Insurance Fairfield | Insurance Stamford | Insurance Bridgeport | Insurance Norwalk Fri, 04 May 2018 20:40:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 HOW TO OUTSMART CAR THIEVES Mon, 31 Oct 2016 03:16:32 +0000 Did you know that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, a car is stolen every 45 seconds in the U.S. for a total value of $4.1 billion? Nearly half of those affected are due to driver error — common sense mistakes that give thieves an easy target.

But even common sense won’t necessarily prevent car theft. Smart moves like parking in well-lit areas, locking car doors and windows, and never leaving the keys in the ignition may not be enough to deter professional thieves. How can you prevent your car from becoming a statistic? Follow these proven precautions:

Become an Etch Artist — Have your vehicle identification number (VIN) etched into your windshield, windows and parts. This helps discourage thieves interested in your car for the stolen parts market.

Create an Obstacle — Make your car not worth the hassle by installing a physical deterrent. Locks available for the steering wheel, gearshift, hood and tires prevent access or movement, while a steering column lock prevents hot-wiring.

Shut Thieves Down — If your car didn’t come with a smart key or wireless ignition authentication system, prevent an easy getaway by installing an ignition kill switch, fuel disabler or tire deflator.

Install a GPS Tracker — Make it easier to recover your vehicle if it is stolen by installing a GPS tracking device. Some models even allow you to shut off the engine remotely using a smartphone app.

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How to Form a Local Small Business Alliance Mon, 31 Oct 2016 03:10:27 +0000 As a small business owner, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed at the prospect of competing with the larger companies. Even though you may have a unique product or service, you may find yourself coming up against companies much larger than yours. These established firms, with their economies of scale and established market penetration, can be intimidating. So what’s a small business  owner to do?

You don’t have to be a big company in order to take advantage of the benefits of size. By aligning yourself with other small businesses with similar goals, you can get more exposure for your business than you can on your own.

Here are some steps for starting an alliance of local businesses.

Find other like-minded businesses

Start you by identifying other businesses that target customers similar to yours. In your alliance, you want to have businesses that complement each other, but don’t compete with each other. Many alliances limit their membership to just one business in each industry. You don’t want to end up with an alliance composed of seven financial planners and two house painters.

You’ll want to partner with other reputable small business owners, who are reliable and adhere to standard business practices. A good indicator of a responsible small business owner is whether they carry business liability insurance, which protects them in the case of a lawsuit. Some people choose professional liability insurance some choose general liability insurance and many select both.

Look for variety

Besides searching for businesses in a variety of sectors, look for businesses that are well established as well as start-ups. The business owners who are just getting started can learn a lot from those who’ve been in business for a while, and the established entrepreneurs may be energized by the folks who are just starting out. Include sole proprietors as well as businesses that have some – or even many – employees.

Reach out for help

Just as you want to learn from others who have started businesses before you, you can learn from those who have already started their own alliances. American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) helps small businesses start local alliances, and can put you in touch with local businesses in your area that may be looking to join forces.

Establish objectives

Your business alliance can accomplish a lot of things, so it’s important to focus on a few specific goals to begin with.

If your alliance consists of local businesses serving the local community, you may consider advertising as a group, or sponsoring a local event. Consider hosting a ‘shop local’ event once a month or coordinating a presence on Small Business Saturday.

If your alliance is focused on B2B enterprises, consider a way to share leads and referrals. Some alliances have a system for making referrals to member businesses, and may even require members to provide a certain number of leads to other members.

Involving local government in your business alliance from the start is a smart move. It makes good business sense to know your local elected officials, and it’s likely that, at some point, an issue will arise that your alliance wants to take a stand on. Knowing who to talk to and how to make yourself heard will go a long way toward getting your point across.

Share knowledge and experience

One of the biggest challenges of starting and running a business is how much there is to learn. By aligning yourself with other local businesses, you can benefit from the wisdom of their experience so you don’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel.’

If there are certain topics that everyone in the group is concerned about, you can assign different topics to members to research and report back to the group. You might have one person who researches business insurance, for example, while someone else learns about local bylaws.

Pair up

An alliance that includes multiple business may spawn other alliances where two or more companies can engage in a joint venture or co-marketing effort. If there is synergy among a subset of the larger alliance, take advantage of that and work together. For example, a travel agent could refer a pet sitter to clients who are going on vacation. The pet sitter could send an offer from the travel agent to their email list of clients.

Do well by doing good

A local business alliance can help the community as it helps its member businesses. By supporting local charities and organizations, members of your alliance can make themselves known in the community. Sponsoring a youth athletic team, walking or running in support of a local charity, or organizing a town-wide clean-up day are all ways to show your support for the community where you do business.

Consumers are beginning to realize the benefits of doing business with local companies. They are becoming aware that a local business puts more money back into the local economy, so supporting these businesses improves the quality of life for everyone in town. By forming an alliance with other local businesses, and letting consumers know about it, you’re giving them the opportunity to make the choice to support local merchants and boost the local economy.

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Small Business Hiring: Employee vs. Independent Contractor Mon, 31 Oct 2016 03:05:26 +0000 f your business has grown to the point where you can no longer do everything yourself— congratulations! That’s a big milestone for entrepreneurs and it signifies that you’re making smart business decisions. Bringing on a new employee or contractor is a smart way to ease your workload, but it’s not something that should be entered into lightly and there are some important distinctions between the two classes of workers.   When choosing between the two, keep the following considerations in mind.

  1. Defining the relationship

Before you decide to take on  a contractor or employee,  think about the type of relationship you will have with the person you’re planning to bring on. The IRS has specific parameters around the definition of an employee versus an independent contractor. Here are some factors can help you decide whether your new hire will be a independent contractor or an employee.

  • Control over their work – According to the IRS, an independent  contractor has a certain degree of control over their work, and independence when doing that work. If the business does not have the right to direct and control the work, the worker is considered to be an independent contractor. This includes the type and degree of instruction given, training and evaluation systems. In other words, a contractor can be told what must be done, but not how it must be done. A company can measure the end result of a contractor’s productivity, but not the details of how the work is performed.
  • Training – Training is another indicator of the relationship. If the company provides training, particularly periodic or on-going training, the worker is likely an employee and not an independent contractor. An independent contractor could be trained on the company’s systems and procedures, but would not receive regular training for the purpose of advancing their position.
  •  Payment and Benefits – Some business considerations may also factor in to the definition of the relationship. If you determine how the person is paid, reimburse expenses and provide tools and supplies, the person would be considered an employee. Likewise, benefits such as vacation pay, life or disability insurance or a retirement plan are provided to employees, not to independent contractors.
  1. Determine your needs

Taking on your first full-time employee is a big commitment. If your business is seasonal, or if you think you may need someone only temporarily, an independent contractor may be a better fit, at least to start. You can always bring on an employee down the road.

Many companies hire someone part time if they don’t think they have enough work to support a full-time position. A part-time employee is typically paid by the hour and does not receive benefits, but you could provide them if you want to

  1. Understand Legal requirements

Hiring an employee means you have several obligations.

  • Worker’s compensation insurance. If you have employees you are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance, which covers your employee(s) if they are injured on the job. Each state has its own regulations around worker’s compensation insurance, so consult with your state’s Division of Labor or Worker’s Compensation agency to determine your requirements.
  • Unemployment insurance. Businesses pay a tax based on the number of employees they have and how much previous employees have collected. This money goes into a state pool that is used to pay workers who are involuntarily terminated from their jobs so they can pay their bills until they find a new job.
  • Tax withholding. You are required to withhold taxes from the amount you pay your employee(s), and you must send the money to the government on a regular basis. At the end of the year, you must issue a W-2 tax statement to the employee(s) showing how much you withheld. You are not required to withhold taxes from the compensation paid to an independent contractor. You issue a 1099 tax statement indicating the amount you paid, and the contract is responsible for filing and paying their own taxes.

Other considerations

Whether you have employees or independent contractors, business insurance can protect your business from damages or injury they cause, or from negligence stemming from their work. Some independent contractors may carry their own insurance as well, but it’s good to know that you are protected  if your company is sued.

If you hire an employee, you will probably pay less in wages, but more in benefits. Depending on the number of employees you have you may need to, or choose to, offer health insurance. You may choose to offer a retirement plan. You may not need to pay into these programs but there are often administrative costs.

Expect to spend more per hour for a contractor than you would for an employee, because the contractor will have no benefits, and because of the temporary nature of the contractor relationship.

Carefully considering whether to take on an independent contractor or a full-time employee will help you expand your business the right way.

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Everything You Need to Know About Excluding People From Auto Insurance Mon, 31 Oct 2016 03:03:13 +0000

As one’s household grows, so too, does their auto insurance policy. While this is a pretty standard and expected occurrence, it’s important for people with an increasing number of licensed drivers under one roof to realize they have options. Should any of their family members threaten their driving reputation and quotes, policyholders have the option to remove and exclude them from their insurance plans, making auto coverage someone else’s problem and responsibility.


If you’re a policyholder interested in excluding one or more individuals from your policy, then you need to contact your insurance company and/or agent. Your request will have to be in writing and might also come with additional forms and paperwork, depending on who your insurance company is. It’s also important to note that requesting an exclusion may cause your rates to increase a bit, but some view this cost as a much more affordable expense than the potential damages they might be held accountable for when the dangerous driver(s) in question get in a serious accident or have repeated traffic offenses.

Whom Should I Exclude?

Now that you know how to request an exclusion, it’s important to understand WHO to exclude. You should exclude anyone you see as high-risk, unreliable and irresponsible. Individuals who show no regard for rules and regulations and could care less what happens to your name and record in the process are other obvious options. To help make the choice easier for you, below is a list of three individuals you definitely don’t want on your policy.

Mittens, the Family Cat

While a fluffy, cute member of the family, Mittens also has a wild side with which you are all too familiar. She is open about her late-night romps with her neighborhood friends, often coming home as the sun rises. She’s practically nocturnal! Those crazy hours coupled with her sassy attitude are a recipe for disaster for you and your record, so nip this problem in the bud while you still can — before Mittens brings you down with her.

Your Six-year-old Who’s Going on Sixteen

Six-year-old Ben is your pride and joy. He’s cute and sweet, but let’s be honest — the boy is growing up too fast. Rather than run the risk of him growing up, stealing your car and running away, it’s probably best to exclude him from your policy to keep that from happening. You might not be able to stop him from physically growing, but you will darn sure try to stop him from leaving you!

The Neighbor Next Door Who Thinks He’s ALWAYS Welcome

Sure you let him borrow a cup a sugar once, but does that really warrant unannounced pop-ins or the dreaded ‘surprise I was waiting for you to get home from work’ visit? The answer is obviously no, but that doesn’t stop your too-close-for-comfort neighbor from doing just that and more. A sweet, eager individual with no concept of social norms, this neighbor is here so often you’re worried he thinks he’s actually a part of the family. While you technically shouldn’t have to cover him on your insurance, the lines that surround your whole relationship — and evidently your property— have been blurred. So, just to be on the safe side, you better exclude him. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll get really comfortable and decide to take your car for a spin and get locked up for grand theft auto — maybe then at least you’ll get to cook in peace again!

Reality Check

Obviously, these examples of potential exclusions are extreme and ridiculous, but that’s just the point. Auto insurance exclusions are a serious issue that should be treated as such. They shouldn’t be added to policies willy-nilly and on a whim, but rather after serious thought and consideration has been given to the situation. It can be a pricey and potentially lengthy process that should only be implemented after you have determined there is no other feasible option.

You should only opt to exclude drivers with repeated violations such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding or any other behavior that shows a disregard for the law. It’s also important to note that exclusions can also apply to non-related roommates. Depending on your policy and location, it might be a smart idea to exclude any irresponsible roommates you might have, should they try to drive your vehicle without permission and thus endanger your reputation and record.

We do hope you’re never presented with having to exclude a family member from your auto policy. Keep in mind, it’s only advisable when the said-driver is extremely toxic. Most of the time, excluding a single driver will only lead to higher rates for everyone involved.

You’ll know they are a real risk if they cause you to be subjected to higher rates, or worse, put you in danger of losing your coverage altogether — those are costly expenses worth the fees that come along with an exclusion.

If you are seriously considering opting for an exclusion, talk with your insurer to explore all of your options and alternatives. They should help point you in the right direction for your future.

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Deadly Driving: A Look At Teen Drivers Mon, 31 Oct 2016 03:00:50 +0000 If you’re seeking a car insurance plan, there are many, many factors that get taken into account, particularly if you have a family with kids in it—kids who will one day likely be sitting behind the wheel of your family car. Getting your teen started down the road with a learner’s permit can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in your entire adult life. Most teens are ready and eager to hit the open road, but there’s a lot of consideration that needs to go into making sure your teen is safe and insured properly for any circumstance that may arise. Teenagers and younger drivers are hands-down the most accident prone demographic on the road: They crash more, seem to think less, and tend to engage in more risky behaviors, like drinking and driving or texting while behind the wheel. You want your teen to be safe, and you also want them to be taken care of by your insurance plan. If you’re curious about the proper way to be sure your teen is well cared for by your insurance plan, check out this handy guide to the best insurance for your young driver. Every parent’s ultimate desire is for their teen to stay safe, but the odds of your 16-year-old getting into a fender bender are too high to not make entirely sure that your insurance policy is reliable and effective for any situation. Whether you’re the parent of a soon-to-be-driving teen yourself or you simply want to be more aware of those young folk you share the road with, the following infographic takes an in-depth look at some of the dangers that are present among teen drivers today.


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The Case for Car Seats: Never Leave Home Without One Mon, 31 Oct 2016 02:57:59 +0000 Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury and death among children of all ages in the U.S. The lifesaving power of seat belts and booster seats is well-proven, but with safety recommendations and regulations changing practically yearly, it can be difficult for parents to keep up. How can parents know when a high-priced booster seat is worth it? When is a rear-facing seat safer than a front-facing seat? And now that you can buy booster seats for kids who weigh up to 90 lbs, does that mean we really need to?

Luckily, consumer safety organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, breaks down the latest research in child car safety and provides extensive guides for parents who need to know more about choosing and using the booster seat that’s right for their child. In the event of an accident the way you fit and fasten your car seat is more important than how many bells and whistles it came with. Unfortunately, as you’ll see in the graphic below, it turns out that many well-meaning parents or caregivers aren’t actually their child seats properly.

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