For Zachary Stiefler and Tom Austin, the moment of truth in their startup career came over coffee in Wayne.

The pair, who had left the finance world to get their MBAs at Wharton, had driven out to a coffee shop in the suburbs to meet an octogenarian who held the keys to their future. Stiefler and Austin wanted to launch a super easy-to-use online insurance marketplace, like an Amazon for the insurance industry. But they couldnt sell another carriers insurance unless they got a green light from one of the industry gatekeepers.

The industry, they were learning, was kind of like the Mafia. Thats how people kept describing it to them.

Insurance is really hard to get into and once youre in, its really hard to leave, said Austin, 29, of Maine.

Most people in their position, those looking to get appointed to sell a carriers insurance, would have to pay their dues. Work for an insurance company for a decade or longer. But Stiefler and Austin hoped this octogenarian, a retired industry man whom they had cold-emailed, would take a chance on them.

He did.

We were like, Oh, thank God, Austin said.

(The whole process took nearly a year, they said, and the Wharton affiliation helped, since a lot of industry execs come from the school.)

That was in the summer of 2014. Six months later, they joined DreamIt Ventures and soon after started selling insurance on their site, right around when they got their MBAs.

The startup is called Bungalow Insurance. Its initially focused only on renters insurance (they only sell Travelers right now but are in talks with other potential carriers), which they say is a largely underserved market and one thats growing fast. They declined to share sales numbers.


Theirs is a story that veers from the norm in the startup world.

For one, the barrier to entry is a lot higher than most. Most startups dont have to get permission to start making sales.

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- They may seem like scary truths, but how much do you really know about your auto coverage?

A survey by Insurance quotes discovered the reality behind many car insurance myths.

Firstly, 44 percent of people think car color will negatively impact their car insurance rates. That is not true, even if you drive a red car. However, they did find that the type of car you drive will affect your premium; imported car insurance costs more than American.

Another myth is that 34 percent of Americans think items stolen from their vehicles are covered by insurance. Unfortunately, this is not true either. They found that stolen items are usually covered by your renters or homeowners insurance if it is worth more than the cost of the deductible.

The truth behind this next misconception was believed by half of those surveyed. Some people think if you cause a car accident your insurance will not cover you. This is false. Liability insurance, which is a requirement to drive in most states, will cover the cost of your injuries and damage to the other car even if you are at fault. However, they will not pay for the damage done to your own vehicle.

Insurance quotes advises you check with your insurance provider for other facts about your car insurance coverage.

If you have employees, youve got plenty to worry about to ensure theyre happy and productive in their roles. But did you realize you may be required by law to provide Workers Compensation Insurance to cover your staff?

While the specifics vary from state to state, once you hire an employee in any capacity--ie seasonal, part-time or full-time--you may have a legal obligation to provide this coverage.

What It Covers

Workers Compensation insurance covers the expenses related to an on-the-job injury. That includes:

  • Hospital and doctors bills
  • Medication costs
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Death expenses
  • Legal expenses in case of lawsuit
Who Needs It?

Every state has different requirements when it comes to Workers Compensation. Some states, like Arizona, require it (Arizona requires it for any company with at least one employee, which is pretty much every business), while other states allow you to self-pay for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Texas doesnt have a Workers Compensation requirement unless it is for employees working on government contracts.

On the other side of the equation is self-insurance. If youre considering this option, make sure you qualify for your states requirements if there are any.

In California, for example, in order for a company to qualify for self-insurance, you must have a net worth of a minimum of $5 million plus a net annual income of $500,000, and post of a security deposit. For many companies, its simply more cost-effective to buy Workers Compensation insurance than to have this kind of money in reserve in case of emergency.

Related Article: Why Even a Small Business Needs Workers Compensation Coverage

Who Does it Protect?

While it may be called "Workers Compensation Insurance," it actually protects employers from lawsuits on behalf of employees injured while working. Before the existence of insurance like Workers' Compensation, employees who experienced injury or illness on the job were forced to pursue legal action against employers who might have been fined or held responsible for medical bills.

About a century ago, states began implementing a "no-fault" system so that employees could quickly receive medical and other benefits. Of course, not all claims are covered. In general, the injury or illness must occur while the employee is working in the "course and scope" of employment.

Here's what you need to know about Workers' Compensation.

Some Employees or Businesses May Be Exempt

Depending on the state where your employees do their work, you may find exemptions contingent upon the location or industry of employment. In many states household domestic servants are exempt from needing coverage.

While most states require Workers Compensation for any business, 11 states have employee threshold numbers that require only businesses with that number of staff or higher to have this insurance. In Virginia, for example, businesses with three or fewer employees are exempt.

If your company is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or family-owned business that does not have employees, you may find similar exceptions. However, remember that anyone you hire to do work for your company, be it a painter or even a cleaning contractor, can make a claim against you and be eligible for compensation benefits from your company.

Certain Professions are Required to Be Covered

While some states may set a threshold for the number of employees that a business needs before its required to purchase Workers Compensation insurance, others have regulations on different industries. In New Mexico, only businesses with three or more employees are required to comply, however, any business in the construction industry must carry Workers Compensation insurance.

Your Company May Be on the Hook and Not Even Know It

Depending on the industry you're in, your company may be on the hook if you hire subcontractors that do not have their own insurance. It is very important to independently confirm that your subcontractors have valid Workers' Compensation policies because certificates may be forged. Ask for proof of policy before any work begins, and confirm it.

In addition, insurance companies may even audit your W-2s and 1099s to make sure that your company is in compliance. If they find that employees are miscategorized or subcontractors have expired policies, you may receive a hefty retroactive premium bill in order to maintain your coverage.

Often startups are working on tight budgets and looking to cut costs wherever they can, but dont cut corners on Workers Compensation Insurance, or you might pay for this mistake down the road. In most states, the moment you hire an employee, you have an obligation to provide this benefit and as well as others.

Related Article: 9 Ways to Save Money on Business Insurance

There Are Ways You Can Lower Your Rates

While you may think that premiums for insurance have been increasing, Workers' Compensation premiums are actually at a 25-year low. In addition, there are steps you can take to lower your insurance costs such as:

  • Raising your deductible
  • Shopping around for coverage
  • Taking advantage of incentives in your state
  • Implementing a comprehensive safety program
  • Maintaining an injury-free workplace

When you invest in training and education that helps your employees do their jobs in a safe and careful manner, you reduce the potential for injuries and claims, and can even receive incentives for demonstrating your company's commitment to safety.

Check with your state to see what the requirements are in terms of Workers Compensation coverage. Not being covered appropriately could put your business at risk.

CRS recognizes and encourages floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program standards.

The actions implemented by Ogle County qualify for a 15 percent discount in the premium cost of flood insurance for NFIP policies issued or renewed in Special Flood Hazard Areas within unincorporated Ogle county on or after May 1, 2015.

For more information, contact Michael Reibel, planning and zoning adminstrator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 815-732-1190.