My friend called me wanting my opinion. She had booked a trip with her family, and purchased insurance through the tour provider. They had been repeatedly told the insurance provided cancellation for any reason and could be used up until the flight.

The Paris Attacks happened, and they were worried so my friend confirmed again. Same answer, “You have cancellation coverage for any reason.”

Well, her sister had to cancel on the day of the trip. Guess what? The insurance was misrepresented. To cancel she would need a doctor’s letter and it would not be for the cost of the trip. The insurance would provide a voucher for the cost of the trip to be used in one year.

If you believed this is uncommon, then I can say it is the norm now.

I booked a trip, and purchased insurance. I was told the same that the insurance would cover the trip fully. I then made a change in regards to airlines, and this was where I was informed that the insurance only provides a voucher to be used in one year.

Is this misrepresentation?

“A practice may be deceptive if it reasonably could be found to have caused the plaintiff to act differently than he otherwise would have acted,” that is according to a Massachusetts case.

Would my friend have acted differently? Yes. She would have purchased the right type of insurance that provided a cash refund.

So now what?

Well, in Massachusetts there is ample consumer protection available. The first step is to write a demand letter that requires the company to reply within 30 days or face potential triple damages in court. This will usually lead to some sort of settlement. Other states have their own consumer protection laws, which can be found here:

You may need to speak to a lawyer about a consumer issue to discover if your act was deceptive, but before that ask questions so you can make good decisions.

My friend called me on a Saturday to ask for advice. She was at the gym and the person sitting next to her felt she was too close and threw a weight at her. He had threatened her in the past. She had decided to go to the police after talking to the gym with no results except for, ‘You need to work this out amongst yourself.’ Wrong answer.

She had a bruise, a minor injury and although there was a video recording, the police did not want to get involved.

My thought went to how poorly the gym handled the situation. It did rise to negligence- the gym owes a duty to its members to provide a safe work out environment, and that duty was breached. However, the gym was as, Jessica Nagle of Nagle Law called it, ‘ethically challenged.’

Conflict is a growth industry. Because of that business need to have systems in place on how to deal conflict whether that is among employees, vendors or customers.

My suggestion is to have a written policy about how you will deal with conflict. Amongst employees, for example, this may be an anonymous hotline to report issues or for customers there may be a formal complaint process.

These small ideas would create an ethical business and also one less likely to have negligence claims.

I am snow weary. Usually this condition does not hit me until the end of February, but with two storms the feeling started early.

“The snow brings out the worse in people,” said a plow driver.

This is true- patience is lost.   Here are some other issues that the snow brings:

  1. Timing. If you have contracts or due dates on projects then be advised to make sure you have an understanding about date flexibility. The postal services are not running on time, in fact a form I sent to the court was delayed. I called until I was told it was received and recorded. If date and time is important, then you may want to consider a courier service.


  1. Liability. Yes, sidewalks, parking lots and common areas should be clean, but please recognize that in many locations there are 30+ inches of snow with no place for the snow. Think about using technology to avoid driving or at least to be understanding.


  1. Prepare. I do have the ability to work from home, but this means in order to do so I must back up my computer files. This is important for not only security reasons, but so that you can complete your work as seamlessly as possible, especially if due dates are immovable.  As an adjust professor, I have noticed that my students have not kept up with the reading on missed classes, but the classes will continue and with online classes they will be made up with many students behind.  No need to get behind if you keep up with the work and remain prepared.


Most importantly, it is a time to be able to use collaborative negotiation in order to solve issues, looking past positions to find out what truly are the issues, keeping in mind it is usually timing, liability and preparedness. Do not be stuck in your way (in ice or snow), but collaborate to find a solution. It will not melt the snow faster, but it will make it bearable.

In a two week time span the same thing happened.
I was asked about creating a business entity. I would love to create the entity for them, but the truth is that insurance is more important and you are better off by putting the money you will pay to create a business entity towards insurance.
Don’t believe me?
I will share one of the experiences. A dog walker contacted me and I listed three companies that provide insurance. Where money is an issue, insurance is a better investment unless you plan on selling your business in the very near future or have the extra money to put towards a business entity.
Did the dog walker listen?

What happened?

A dog got away from one of the handlers and was hit by a car, but scampered off and has not been seen as of yet.

The result?

If the dog is never found then sorry dog lovers, a dog is considered personal property and the dog walker will be liable for the cost of the dog only. If the dog is found and is injured, this could be a problem with the cost of the veterinarian bills which may exceed the value of the dog.

Would a contract have helped?

Possibly as it would have given the amount to which the dog walkers are liable, limiting exposure.

Would the business entity have helped?

Not at all. The idea is that a business entity protects personal assets, but the business entity or the individuals involved will have to make some sort of payout, and had there been insurance, then the insurance company would have made payment.

Remember, insurance and business law go hand in hand.

It is summer vacation time! This may involve an airline, a hotel, a rental car and dealings with service businesses all to make your vacation a success.


But, things can go wrong as I discovered in Turkey when our airline cancelled their flight and we were left at the mercy of chaotic, disorganized Turkish airport.


Thankfully, back home and safe and sound (after a harrowing taxi cab ride at 90 miles per hour going down one way streets the wrong way with a driver who did not speak English). However, there are repercussions, expenses that I incurred and I want to be put back to the place I would have been in if the trip had gone smoothly.


What to do? Just like I advise in business- keep records, receipts to prove what happened to you. Write it all down and make notations so that you know what you have. This is your evidence. As I have mentioned before most cases are lost because there is not enough evidence to prove what has happened to you.


Start making phone calls, sending emails and writing letters. Your letters and emails should be direct with what happened to you and what you are looking for in compensation.


This is a process of persistence and patience, but I am sure it will all work out.

True North Business Consulting provides legal services and mediation. For more information contact us today!


Kerri Salls of the Exit This Way Radio Show interviewed Cynthia Pasciuto of True North 
Business Consulting.  The podcast can be found here with lots of valuable advice and an
engaging conversation that you do not want to miss!

I was recently was interviewed by Dr. Georgianna Donadio of the National Institute of Whole Health (NIWH).  NIWH provides credentialed individuals with educational programs.

Our conversation was about starting a business and included legal, marketing and management information in a short 20 minute segment.   To listen go here.


“You need insurance.”

I say this to all my clients, which is surprising because you may not know that the legal profession and insurance profession are often at odds with each other.  Each profession believes that they are the only solution for a business. As a licensed insurance advisor and attorney I look at both and can tell you that both legal documents and insurance coverage are needed.

If you are a service business with an office (can be a home office, too), then you need a legal contract that explains to your client your services, your fees, how you get paid and providing protection in case something goes wrong. However, an agreement can only go so far.

What if something goes wrong?

What if your client trips or slips in the snow or ice at your location.  What legal document is going to protect you? 


A property insurance product will provide you with peace of mind protection.  You can also get insurance that provides protection for mistakes you may make while conducting your profession.

Remember to review what you currently have, and give True North Business Consulting to make sure that your business is protected legally and you have the right insurance products.


Many small business owners have a home office.  This can be very convenient, limiting travel and expenses like rent.  When it comes to accounting, I am sure there are ways where a portion of the space is a possible expense to your business, but there are legal ramifications that you should consider.

First, if you are working from your apartment where you are a tenant, then you need to make sure that having a business on the premises is allowed.  Many leases do not allow you to work from home.  From the landlord’s point of view this may be due to the increase in traffic or that you may be storing goods on the premises.  Plus, you may be need services like additional cable lines that the landlord was not planning on.

What about if you own a condo?  This time is may be the condominium association that could have rules about a business on the premises.  But, what if your business is just online and you do not have people coming by? It may not make a difference according to your condo documents and the board. 

If you are a homeowner, then your concern is advertising and keeping your liability at a minimum.  If you want to place a sign outside, then you need to make sure with the city or town that you are allowed to do so.  In addition, if you have anyone visit your residence please make sure that it is safe-especially clean walkways.

In all of these cases, you do need to register with the town to tell them you are doing business there.  Think about buying insurance for your protection plus reviewing leases and condo documents.

A few times a year, usually when the seasons change I take the time to organize.  This time I was ruthless in my cleaning leading to bags of trash and donated clothing.  I then decided to do the same with my office.


I had certificates from completing mediation courses, collaborative law and as an e-learning instructor. I went to my local frame shop, purchased some frames and hung them up.  Because I have taken these courses I can put myself out as a professional- a mediator, a lawyer and educator.  This also means that as a professional I need to meet a standard of care that is above those who do not have the same knowledge.


This is why insurance is important.


If you are in the same circumstances where you are a professional, then you need to make sure that you have the right kind of liability insurance.  Once you have insurance you should also make sure that you acknowledge it in your contract with your clients. It lets them know that you are a true professional in your field.


If you work with someone else in a contractor or subcontractor relationship, then you need to make sure that they carry insurance, too.


Insurance and law go together.  Where one is not able to help you, the other can.