You Need Insurance Regardless of Your Business

While it might be comforting to think that insurance is something that only the big companies need to worry about. Insurance is something that all businesses need to worry about. Indeed, the smaller you are as a business, the more vulnerable you are to a wide array of risks that can only ultimately be dealt with by adequate business insurance protection.

When you run your own business, you take on obligations and responsibilities above and beyond that of the average citizen. In fact, it can be seen as somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you probably go into business hoping to make a profit doing something you love while providing a benefit to others. On the other hand, all those others are affected by what you do — good or bad. It’s the latter that can get business owners into trouble if they don’t seriously think about serious business insurance protection.

Let’s take small business liability insurance as an example. Without this form of insurance protection, a business owner is putting themselves in unneeded and unnecessary financial risk.

Small business liability insurance is that which essentially protects a business from the threat of a lawsuit. It differs from other kids of protection many individuals might already be familiar with because it covers assets from the risk of being attacked by a claim of misconduct carried out by you or your business. If somebody decides to sue your business, not only could you be on the hook for the damages awarded, but the legal fees involved can often be staggering, even if the lawsuit is frivolous. Things like small business liability insurance, as part of a comprehensive business insurance package, are meant to deal with just such instances.

If you don’t think that your business is at risk like this, you might want to reconsider. No business is too small or irrelevant to be untouched by the risk of a lawsuit. In fact, the smaller you are, the less you’ll be able to count on your own resources to address the crisis of a legal proceeding, or the damages awarded as a result.

Perhaps for no sector of business is this reality more apparent than with small offices providing services of various sorts. While the amount of resources at your disposal is tight, the extent to which you may have an impact on the public is very considerable. And the extent to which that same public can come back and bite you can be similarly considerable, too. This goes for real estate professionals, management consultants, tax preparers, lawyers, doctors, and so on. No one is immune from the threat covered by business insurance that includes things like small business liability.

No matter how competently you think you run your business, how much emphasis you place on customer satisfaction, how well thought of you are in the business community, or the lengths to which you strive for excellence and achievement in your profession, you can be hit by a lawsuit. And, very often, you won’t even have seen it coming. Even some service provided as a sub-contractor for someone else can be seen as having done harm to someone. If that someone decides to sue, there are costs that have to be covered. Good business insurance will cover it. More specifically, good small business liability insurance will cover it.

Let’s take the management consultant industry as an example of where business insurance that includes small business liability is necessary.

The duties and responsibilities associated with the job of being a management consultant are considerable. In such a capacity, you use your expertise in the field of management to advise people professionally on a whole range of matters related to the proper running of a business. This can includes things as simple as staffing to something more sophisticated like public relations. Good management consultants provide a professional service noted for the extent to which comprehensive solutions are offered to meet challenging business environments.

This is precisely why management consultants need to be covered by good business insurance that includes small business liability insurance.

The extent to which their advice and solutions impact people can be almost limitless. In fact, if you tried to figure out who might sue you for advice you gave a client, you might never be able to do it. There will always exist people who simply perceive themselves to have been hurt by something you did. And they’ll sue you for it.

Alternatively, even the best management consultants make mistakes. Sometimes they could have legal ramifications. Other times, they could have professional ramifications. Indeed, things like errors and omissions insurance or professional liability insurance exist because professionals make mistakes. Not only do they make mistakes, but they make mistakes that violate the professional principles involved in their industry. It happens. It’s why even management consultants need good business insurance and liability protection.

Of course, whether you’re a management consultant, real estate agent, tax lawyer, or healthcare specialist, the specifics might be different, but the insurance risks are much the same. As small business owners with offices that need to be protected from the threat of financial loss, business insurance and small business liability insurance is simply a smart solution to that end. They literally help protect the small guy and gal from the swamp out there that could digest everything they’ve worked for. And that swamp could include the unwanted lawsuit.

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With Counterfeiting on the Rise, Brand Security Plays a Vital Role to Both Large and Small Brands

According to the Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce®, counterfeiting is one of the fastest growing economic crimes of modern time. Once a cottage industry, counterfeiting has become a sophisticated network of organized crime, accounting for 5 to 7 percent of world trade, worth an estimated $600 billion a year.

Until relatively recently, the black and grey market economies did not pose a significant threat to brand owners. The black market operates illegally outside government-sanctioned channels with the buying and selling of goods and services, while commodities in the grey market are distributed legally, but through channels that are unauthorized by the original manufacturer-commonly referred to as diversion. Customers who would frequently shop in one of these two markets now have the ability to browse the Internet for the same products, posing an even deeper threat to a brand’s reputation and integrity, impacting the world’s biggest brands and smaller brands alike.

With the growth of global brands and the Internet, brand owners face threats from counterfeiters and brand pirates who are attempting to generate large profits by illegally producing credible look-a-like products to sell at deeply discounted prices. Brand owners are being forced to take a closer look at their supply chains and police the whereabouts and authenticity of their products at all times.

In the past, such luxury and high-end goods as designer clothes and accessories, spirits and perfumes, were most likely to be counterfeited. However, times have changed with technological advancements in digital imaging, cameras, scanners, artwork software, color and inkjet printers, aiding counterfeiters and brand pirates to generate a profit from any branded item-pharmaceuticals, electronics, software, cigarettes, hardware and food items like baby formula. Even automobile and aircraft parts are being counterfeited. It has been reported that the majority of counterfeited goods are coming from China, North Korea, Taiwan, India, Russia and parts of Africa.

Pharmaceutical counterfeiting has led to extreme outcomes, including consumer fatalities, which illustrates the importance of brand security. The Food and Drug Administration saw an 800 percent increase in the number of new pharmaceutical counterfeit cases between 2000 and 2006. According to The Lancet*, the world’s leading general medical journal, counterfeit pharmaceuticals will generate $75 billion in revenues in 2011, a 92-percent increase from 2005.

Taking a Defensive Stand
Diversion, pirating and counterfeiting not only have a negative impact on the revenues and profitability of legitimate companies, but they also impact the credibility and reputation of a brand. Counter measures against these practices must be taken throughout the supply chain-from the brand owner, supplier and distributor to the wholesaler, retailer and ultimately, the consumer.

It’s crucial that brand owners stay attuned to brand security in today’s market and become familiar with the array of available anti-counterfeiting solutions. Ignoring the importance of brand security is not an option, because once the damage is done, the cost to repair it can be far in excess of what it would have cost to prevent it from happening in the first place.

To ensure their customers only receive the highest quality and safest products, brand owners have a broad range of anti-counterfeiting solutions at their disposal to protect their brand positioning and brand promise.

It’s recommended that brand owners ask themselves the following questions before implementing a brand protection strategy:

1. What level of security-low, medium or high-do we want to build into our packaging design?
2. Do we want to check for counterfeiting at the shelf or at the warehouse? Do we want our customers to be able to check for counterfeiting at the point-of-purchase by using a visible authentication feature?
3. How much do we want to invest in brand security?
4. How are we going to ensure consistency of our brand security on a global level?

Pressure-sensitive technology is versatile. It enables intricate designs and complex die-cuts, creating labels that jump from the shelf. But even more so, the array of materials, when combined with special printing techniques, can become a metaphor for the product itself.

Layered Protection
With threats to brand security rapidly growing, the need to differentiate fake products from genuine ones is increasing, as well as the need for more advanced authentication technologies that thwart counterfeiters. However, it’s important that brand owners understand that even the most sophisticated anti-counterfeiting solutions on their own cannot prevent counterfeiting 100 percent, but can signal an alert when a threat exists and thereby encourage action to be taken.

In recent years, anti-counterfeiting measures have become increasingly complex and bolstered by the installment of different layers of security. Many of today’s technologies are used in conjunction with other security features that work in concert to heighten the overall level of protection. For example, a low-level of anti-counterfeit technology that is visible to the consumer is combined with a high-level security feature containing a covert or forensic technology. The more layers of security a brand owner applies, the more difficult it becomes for their brand to fall victim to counterfeiting, pirating or diversion.

The most common anti-counterfeiting technologies employed by brand owners include:

1. Overt technology: This level of protection is visible to the naked eye, and allows the brand to be authenticated without the need of a special inspection tool. Overt technology offers only basic protection against counterfeiting, whereby:

a. Devices can include, but are not limited to:

i. Customized security papers-watermarks, paper color or visible fibers embedded in the paper.
ii. Security threads-threads are embedded in the paper and are made of a film, making a label hard to copy.
iii. Two- or three-dimensional holograms-standard holograms are used mainly for decorative purposes, but customized holograms can be powerful tools in security applications.
iv. Tamper-evident films, paper and voids-destructible/frangible films, papers and void materials show destruction upon tampering. Void labels leave a customized “VOID” alpha numeric or geometrical-shape message on the substrate when the label is removed.

2. Covert technology: The security device is not visible to the naked eye, but can be detected by a low-cost inspection tool, such as an UV light, magnifying glass or plastic film overlay. The type of tool depends on the specific protection technology used. Covert technology is an advanced level of protection with hard-to-copy security features and some level of personalization:

a. Devices can include, but are not limited to:

i. Customized security papers-UV luminescent fibers embedded in the paper, chemical protection or verification with a special reactant pen.
ii. Non-visible security threads. Customized security threads can contain ultraviolet (UV) reflection and microprints.
iii. UV prints-various colors and designs can be printed in the laminate of a facestock or liner. Standard and customized UV prints are available.
iv. Infrared (IR) taggants-can be applied randomly in the paper, a self-adhesive laminate or in a custom spectrum that works as a unique signature. IR readers can be tailored to match the custom spectrum, giving off a signal when the right taggant percentages are detected. Uniquely encoded, IR taggants are virtually impossible to duplicate.
v. Inorganic taggants-can be added to inks, coatings, varnishes, adhesives, plastics, etc. Authenticity is confirmed using a special reader that gives off signals when a particular taggant is detected.

3. Forensic technology: These security devices are not visible to the naked eye, are hidden within the product and require laboratory analysis for authentication. Forensic technology is the highest level of protection from unique and personalized security features:

a. Devices can include, but are not limited to:

i. DNA taggants-microscopic or nano materials that are uniquely encoded for a brand. Provides a forensic chain of evidence that is trusted by police and recognized by courts globally. Large botanical DNA is acquired and then segmented, shuffled and reassembled to form a unique secure signature DNA marker that becomes patented technology. DNA taggants cannot be counterfeited, digitally copied, scanned or re-engineered.

To effectively deploy one of these technologies requires close collaboration between the brand owner and technology supplier.

Brand security is an investment that directly impacts the bottom-line for a consumer packaged goods company. It does this by protecting the brand from counterfeiting and diversion. And it also protects the brand owner from potential liabilities should a counterfeit product result in a consumer injury. Due diligence to protect your brand is a vital strategy that cannot be overlooked.

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