Brier Grieves August 22, 2017 No Comments

Company Car Insurance Tip: Avoid Negligent Entrustment

Automobile accidents are an expensive liability for companies that rely on the use of vehicles for their business. That risk has increased in recent years, mainly due to distracted driving and a legal concept called negligent entrustment.

Negligent entrustment occurs when an employer is held liable for negligence in choosing an employee to operate a dangerous instrument, usually a vehicle. An employer can be found negligent if both of the following situations occur:

  1. A driver becomes injured while driving for company business, causes injury to a third party or damages physical property.
  2. The employer knew, or should have known, not to trust the vehicle to the driver or that the vehicle was unsafe.

If a driver is working within the scope of his or her job duties and has permission to use a company vehicle, it is presumed that the employer has trusted the driver with the vehicle. The following can be used to prove a finding of negligence:

  • An investigation of the accident scene
  • Interviews with the drivers and witnesses
  • Other applicable evidence that includes citations issued to the drivers

Companies must be able to show that they took all possible precautions to prevent accidents. If not, the actions they did or did not take might be construed as negligent entrustment.

Liability Coverage is Not Sufficient

General liability policies do not offer coverage for incidents of negligent entrustment. Although business auto policies do not exclude negligent entrustment, coverage may not be sufficient if an employee is involved in a harmful accident. Juries often award the plaintiff punitive damages in excess of any compensatory damages resulting from negligent entrustment.

How to Avoid Negligent Entrustment

Reduce exposure to negligent entrustment lawsuits by adhering to the following best practices:

  • Prescreen all individuals granted permission to drive for company business. Review their driving records annually.
  • Provide regularly scheduled driver reviews and comprehensive training sessions.
  • Maintain company vehicles to ensure that they meet strict safety standards.
  • Provide post-accident reviews and training on how the accident could have been avoided.
  • Put clear safety policies in writing to minimize risks. Follow all OSHA guidelines as well as guidelines specific to your business.
  • Define your permission policy. Anyone with permission to drive a vehicle for company business is classified as an insured on a company policy. That is why it is important to define your permission policy in a way that ensures flexibility but isn’t too broad.
  • Regularly enforce drug and alcohol policies.
  • Enforce a zero tolerance policy for driver misconduct.

By taking the aforementioned precautions, you’ll minimize the risk of your employees creating a situation in which your company is found liable. Although commercial auto insurance can minimize some liability risks, more advanced business and umbrella policies can protect against additional risks.

Brier Grieves Insurance can help you choose an auto insurance policy that is best for your business. Contact us for more information on how you can reduce your risk of negligent entrustment liability.

Brier Grieves August 8, 2017 No Comments

Wire Fraud in Real Estate

No industry is exempt from cyber crime, and the real estate industry has become a common target. As hackers devise plans to obtain sensitive information about real estate transactions, real estate professionals need to take particular interest in cyber security to protect their clients and themselves from wire fraud.

What is Wire Fraud?

In instances of wire fraud, a common ploy involves hackers breaking into a real estate agent’s email account to obtain details about upcoming transactions. Once the hackers have all the information they need, they send an email to the buyer, pretending to be the agent or a representative of the title company.

In an email to the buyer, the hackers state that there has been a change in the closing instructions and that the buyer needs to follow new wire instructions listed in the email. If a buyer falls victim to the scam and wires money to the fraudulent account, they’re unlikely to see the money again.

Red Flags

A potential indicator of wire fraud is an email that makes any reference to a Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) wire transfer, which is sent via the SWIFT international payment network and indicates an overseas destination for the funds.

However, since the emails tend to include detailed information pertaining to the transaction—due to the perpetrator having access to the agent’s email account—many people make the mistake of assuming the email is from a legitimate source. The email addresses often appear to be legitimate, either because the hacker has managed to create a fake email account using the name of the real estate company or because they’ve hacked the agent’s actual email account.

How to Avoid It

Wire fraud is one of many types of online fraud targeting real estate professionals and their clients. To prevent cyber crime from occurring, every party involved in a real estate transaction needs to implement and follow a series of security measures that include the following:

  • Never send wire transfer information, or any type of sensitive information, via email. This includes all types of financial information, not just wire instructions.
  • If you’re a real estate professional, inform clients about your email and communication practices, and explain that you will never expect them to send sensitive information via email.
  • If wiring funds, first contact the recipient using a verified phone number to confirm that the wiring information is accurate. The phone number should be obtained by a reliable source—email is not one of them.
  • If email is the only method available for sending information about a transaction, make sure it is encrypted.
  • Delete old emails regularly, as they may reveal information that hackers can use.
  • Change usernames and passwords on a regular basis, and make sure that they’re difficult to guess.
  • Make sure anti-virus technology is up to date, and that firewalls are installed and working.
  • Never open suspicious emails. If the email has already been opened, never click on any links in the email, open any attachments or reply to the email.

If You’ve Been Hacked

Take the following steps if you suspect that your email, or any type of account, has been hacked:

  • Immediately change all usernames and passwords associated with any account that may have been compromised.
  • Contact anyone who may have been exposed to the attack so they too can change their usernames and passwords. Remind them to avoid complying with any requests for financial information that come from an unverified source.
  • Report fraudulent activity to the FBI via the Internet Crime Complaint Center at Also contact the state or local realtor association, which will alert others to the suspicious activity.

Contact Brier Grieves Agency today for more information on avoiding real estate fraud and other types of cyber crime.

Brier Grieves May 26, 2016 No Comments

How to Break Into the World of Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate is a very lucrative field. Unfortunately, it’s also very expensive, but if you can afford it, or if you have access to credit, all you need to be successful is knowledge and a little luck. While no one can help you with the luck, there are a number of sources for information and assistance, whether you’re an experienced investor trying to learn even more, or a beginner just getting started. Here are a few of the best ways to learn about the world of commercial real estate investing.


Read books

This is a great place to start, especially for beginners. There are so many books available on real estate, even commercial real estate specifically, that you’d never be able to read all of them. The best part is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Take a trip to your library and see what they have on the subject. Of course, you might find a few books that are such great references that you want to buy a copy. Books are often forgotten as educational resources, but they are such a great resource for anyone learning about commercial real estate, or anything else for that matter.

3 Books to check out are

  • How to Succeed in Commercial Real Estate Review
  • The Fundamentals of Listing and Selling Commercial Real Estate Review
  • Commercial Real Estate Investing For Dummies Review


The internet

The internet also has a wealth of ideas and knowledge that will be helpful to you. Remember, of course, that information found on the internet is not always as trustworthy as what you would find in a book, but you can still learn a lot, as long as you check the background and legitimacy of the articles you read. There is also a lot more information to be found on the internet than in books, because it is so much easier to publish to, and it’s easier for you to access as well. All you need is a couch and an internet connection.

Some great resources include:


Find a mentor

Although finding a mentor will take much more effort and time than reading a book or searching the internet, it’s worth it. Find someone, or better yet, several people, who are experts at what they do, and ask to be a part of it. Real estate investors tend to be very busy, but if you offer to help them out, or even pay them, they may be more likely to help you in return. Being able to watch someone do what you want to do and ask questions when you don’t understand will be incredibly beneficial as you learn the process. Maybe, one day, you’ll have enough experience to take on your own mentee.

A great professional resource is a Certified Commercial Investment Member or CCIM

Find A CCIM near you

In the Tampa Bay Area we also our own expert mentors the Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors or FGCAR


Research the area you’re interested in

Learn as much as you can about the market you’re interested in. Focus on the area in which you want to buy, but also the size, price range, and type of property you like. The best way to do this is to pretend that you are already an investor looking to purchase property. Find available properties in the area and contact sellers about them. Of course, you don’t want to take too much of their time or commit to anything, but they’ll expect people to ask for information without necessarily buying the property.


Study past investors and their choices

Look into expert investors’ histories. Read about where they started and how they built their fortunes. Analyze their choices and take note of which ones were beneficial and which ones weren’t. Try to emulate their good decisions, and avoid their bad decisions, but don’t forget to add your personality to their style.

Looking for more help breaking into the world of commercial real estate? Contact us. We’re experts in the field, and we’re happy to help you with anything that you need.

Brier Grieves May 19, 2016 No Comments

How Important is Location to Real Estate Investments?

If you’ve been looking at real estate that is for sale, you may have noticed that the price varies greatly depending on the location of the property. If anything, this is even more true when it comes to commercial properties than residential properties. You may be wondering if one location is really worth more than another location. The truth is that real estate property really does go up in value as the location gets better, and for good reason. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should always buy the absolute best location, especially if it’s the most expensive. Here are a few of the reasons that real estate property in a good location might sell for more.

Attract more customers

One of the main reasons that a commercial property with a great location carries so much value is because a better location generally leads to more customers. Customers are, of course, more likely to do business somewhere that is convenient for them. They’ll also only shop in places they know exist, obviously, so a location that can be found by accident is very desirable. In fact, a prime location can actually lead to a huge savings when it comes to marketing. While a business that is hidden outside of town will be forced to spend lots of money, making sure people know it is there, the business right in the middle of town might not have to do any more than put up a sign over their door.

Ease of access

Of course, customers are not the only people who will be traveling to this business. You’ll also have a number of employees who have to commute to and from work every day. Believe it or not, being able to get to work easily and quickly is a benefit. Applicants may not think of it that way, but an employee who has an easy 10 minute drive into work is likely to be pretty happy, while a job that comes with an hour-long commute along a busy highway will probably draw fewer and less qualified applicants, unless you offer more money for the position. It’s also important to consider everyone else who might stop by, from salespeople, to deliveries, to the company that maintains your internet connection. Although this may be less important than your customers, it’s still preferable to be able to offer a convenient location.

Higher rent

So what if you don’t own a business? What if you’re only purchasing the commercial property as an investment? In actuality, all of the same principles apply. Because of this, another company will be much more interested in a property in a great location, and they’ll be willing to pay for it. On the other hand, if you attempt to rent out a property in a less desirable location, you’ll still probably be able to rent it out, but in most cases, you’ll get considerably less for it.

Higher resale value

Whether you own or run a company that is looking for a building to operate out of, or you’re searching for the best investment property, you’ll eventually want to sell the building. All of the concepts listed above will still be true decades from now. Although values change based on an endless number of variables, a property in a good location will always be worth more than the same property in a bad location.

Still a little confused? Contact us. Just because a property is in a great location doesn’t mean it’s worth the asking price, and a property that is in a poor location still may be worth considering. Be sure to consider all of the factors when looking for your property. Good luck!

Brier Grieves May 12, 2016 1 Comment

First Time In Commercial Real Estate? 6 Tips For Successful Investing

     Investors who choose commercial real estate as the vehicle to grow and preserve profits and wealth are generally on a wise financial path.  From a near-certain increase in value over time to a potentially hands-off investment if entrusted to a competent management company, the benefits that a commercial real estate investment hold over other options are plenty and proven.  Nonetheless, for every new endeavor there is a learning curve, and the more quickly it is overcome, the more fruitful the project.  Luckily, where commercial real estate investing is concerned, even first timers can avoid common missteps if the right precautions from those that have gone before are heeded. Below are 6 tips for those dipping their toes into commercial real estate for the first time. Need advice?  Look no further.

1.  Invest rather than accumulate.  It can be tempting for a first time investor to get ahead of himself or herself, purchasing several properties right away before waiting to see if the first produces a profit.  While is certainly possible for this strategy to pay off, a more prudent move is to wait and see if one property makes money before purchasing another.  This helps the investor to determine whether any tweaks or changes are needed to make subsequent investment properties more successful than the first.

2.  Understand that no property is immortal.  When investing in new construction this piece of advice may not apply a strictly, although attention should still be paid to the quality of construction and any concerns about the land it is built on.  For any other commercial real estate investment, however, it is essential that the investor realize that over the lifetime of a property it is inevitable that he or she will have to spend some money on upkeep.  From a new roof to an updated wiring, there will definitely be phases where investing in the investment will be necessary.  Make a long-term financial plan for these expenses rather than being surprised each time one arises and the property will continue to bless rather than burden.

3.  Invest in one type of property at a time.  Focusing on the success of one type of property before purchasing another allows an investor to become the master of one trade rather than the jack, or even joker, of many.  The strategy of purchasing only one type of property at a time until that type has proven successful means that fewer of the same type of property can end up netting the same profit as many of several different types would net, and for a small investment of time and money.

4. Pay attention to environmental concerns when purchasing a property.  A surprising number of commercial real estate investors fail to realize upon purchase that property owners assume primary legal responsibility for cleaning up or otherwise fixing any hazardous waste problems that the property ever faces, even after it has been sold to another owner.  The cost for clean-ups can run into the millions depending on the degree of damage.  To avoid a potential financial devastation in the future, obtain an environmental report as part of due diligence, employing an environmental assessment company if necessary.

5.  Enlist a mentor’s guidance.  When it comes to financial matters, no one wants to make mistakes.  Once an investor has erred in the past and learned from it, however, he or she is often eager to share the lesson with someone newer to the game, in hopes of saving someone else the same trouble or financial loss.  A resourceful first time commercial real estate investor will use this fact to his or her advantage, finding a mentor who has successfully invested in similar types of properties.  In addition to offering experience-based advice, such a mentor can connect a new investor with resources that he or she may not otherwise have had such immediate access to.

6.  Ensure that investments and assets are sufficiently protected.  Life happens.  In the world of commercial real estate lawsuits happen along the way.  Rather than being caught by surprise, prepare for the unexpected before it happens by making sure investments and personal assets are properly protected and insured.  In addition to purchasing the correct insurance coverage for every investment and asset, speak to a lawyer to make sure each investment is separate from the others.  This can prevent a law suit involving one property from endangering the others.

     To talk more about the best insurance coverage to protect any commercial real estate investment, please contact us.  Thank you.