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Happy New Year!

Dec 28

New Year 2017 - Small

“As the year comes to a close, it is a time for reflection – a time to release old thoughts and beliefs and forgive old hurts. Whatever has happened in the past year, the New Year brings fresh beginnings. Exciting new experiences and relationships await. Let us be thankful for the blessings of the past and the promise of the future.”

Peggy Toney Horton

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Materials And Waste Management: Prevention Pays

Dec 14

Infraestructura-para-el-manejo-de-deshechos-470x260 - SmallEach year around 1,000 trips or slips on construction sites result in fractured bones or dislocated joints, often leading to permanent disability, harming workplace morale, reducing productivity, and raising insurance premiums. Many of these accidents are due to negligence in dealing with building materials or waste.

Safe site operation requires co-ordination between the client, contractor(s), and suppliers. Before beginning a project, agree with the client on arrangements for handling materials and waste. Larger projects should include this agreement in the construction phase plan.

To reduce the risk of mishaps in storing materials, experts recommend that you:

  • designate storage areas for materials, waste, and flammable or hazardous substances
  • don’t allow storage to ‘spread’ on walkways or store materials where they might obstruct access or interfere with emergency escape routes
  • store flammable materials separately and protect them from accidental ignition
  • install guard rails if materials are stored in high places
  • keep all storage areas tidy
  • plan deliveries to keep the amount of materials on site to a minimum

In dealing with waste, decide how to manage waste streams produced during construction and assign responsibility for collecting and disposing of these materials on site.

Waste risk reduction guidelines include:

  • Have all flammable waste materials (such as packaging and lumber) cleared away regularly to reduce the risk of fire
  • Make clearing waste a priority for all workers, and be sure that everyone is on the same page
  • Include enough space for waste bins and containers in accessible locations, and set a schedule for collection
  • Provide carts or chutes for safe removal of waste from the building safely

Our construction insurance professionals stand ready to advise you on keeping your workplace safe.

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Green May Be The Way To Go, But How Will Your Insurance Apply?

Dec 07

const1112-01Environmentally-friendly construction, also known as “green” construction, is increasing rapidly in the United States. Concerns about global climate change, U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy, and rising energy costs are inspiring individuals and businesses to construct buildings with a reduced carbon footprint. This trend has important implications for settlement of insurance claims when green buildings suffer damage.

A green building is one that has met the requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The U.S. Green Building Council developed LEED in 1998 as a way to help building owners identify and use practical and measurable designs, construction, operations and maintenance practices that are environmentally-friendly. Green buildings are, compared to standard buildings, more energy and water efficient, produce less carbon dioxide, and have a healthier indoor environment.

Some states and municipalities have begun to adopt building codes that require elements of green construction. California has imposed tougher water efficiency standards on new residential construction; New York City is considering more stringent energy-use standards for large buildings. The impact of these requirements on construction costs will vary by location. Green construction might require specialized materials and methods; in the near term, contractors with expertise in these methods may be relatively scarce.

Therefore, in some places the cost of complying with green building codes could be higher than building with standard materials and methods, and that will impact insurance coverage.

The factors that will influence the claim include:

  • Whether the green building code applies to new construction only or also to major renovations.
  • What the code defines as a “major renovation.” Some codes might consider renovations affecting more than a specified percentage of the building’s area as a major renovation.
  • How will use of green building materials affect the building’s appearance? The property owner might lose enthusiasm for a repair if a change in appearance will lower the building’s market value.
  • How will the new materials interact with the existing building components? Will integrating the new materials increase rebuilding time and cost?
  • Are qualified contractors available in the area?
  • Will wait times for green contractors and materials result in costly project delays?
  • How does the building code apply in the event of a large natural catastrophe, such as an earthquake or hurricane? Must property owners meet the higher standards at a time when hundreds of properties have suffered damage.
  • After a catastrophe, will there be long wait times for contractors to haul away debris because of overwhelmed landfills and recycling centers? Will there be long wait times for building inspectors to visit and approve all of the effected properties?

Standard personal and commercial property insurance policies provide very limited amounts of coverage for ordinance or law” losses — extra costs incurred to meet local building requirements. Additional coverage is available; property owners in areas with green building codes should speak with our insurance agents about options and costs.

Research and publishing company McGraw-Hill Construction has predicted that the market for non-residential building retrofitting with green construction will grow to $15 billion by 2014. Property owners and insurance companies will have to address these questions much more often in the near future; the time to answer them is before the losses occur.

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Should You Have A Full-Time Risk Manager?

Nov 30

MP900400507 - SmallAs your business grows, the risks you face become more complex, potential losses grow, along with your insurance premiums. At some point, you’ll need to decide whether it makes sense to turn over the responsibility for risk management to a full-time professional.

Before making this decision, experts recommend that you weigh two key factors: 1) the cost of paying a full-time risk manager, and 2) the potential savings that this manager can generate.

The first element is relatively easy to determine, it’s the salary and overhead of the manager, plus whatever clerical support that he or she needs.

The second item requires you to analyze the extent which a full-time risk manager can:

  • Centralize and compartmentalize responsibility for risk management in a single department. This improvement in efficiency should more than offset the increase in administrative costs.
  • reduce losses by providing analysis of loss control needs, careful scrutiny of reports, and knowledge of whom to contact for specialized help. Careful attention to loss reserves and adjusting practices can help cut costs dramatically. For example, adjusting liability and workers compensation claims requires special expertise. Insurance companies generally provide adjusters, it’s always helpful to have someone on your team who can evaluate their conclusions.
  • help lower your premiums by paying closer attention to coverage criteria, negotiating with agents, brokers, and insurance companies, and using familiarity with industry terminology.

If you’d like our input on making this key decision, feel free to get in touch with the risk management professionals at our agency at any time. We’re here to serve you.

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Your Disaster Plan: Continual

Nov 17

MP900414115 - SmallYou want your disaster plan, also known as a “business continuity” plan, to be complete, accurate, functional, up to date, and able to meet your recovery objectives. To ensure that you meet these goals, there’s no better way than a “live test.”

You can create buy-in among managers and staff by providing a test scenario that’s specific, realistic, detailed, and comprehensive.

Consider this real-world example: A television communication company in Miami was completing its disaster plan when it learned that a powerful hurricane was headed straight toward Southeastern Florida. Fortunately, because the business had several days’ warning, it was able to implement the plan rapidly and communicate it to employees. Although the company was prepared for the worst, the storm struck to the south and west, near Key West.

Although there was no significant damage in the Miami area, the exercise tested important components of the plan, such as the ability of the business to:

  • protect equipment and strengthen the building in a timely and orderly manner
  • activate and maintain an alternate transmission site
  • test backup electrical generation and other equipment under adverse weather conditions
  • communicate emergency technical instructions to affiliate stations throughout the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world
  • sponsor a shelter for emergency storm personnel
  • release and recall staff in an orderly basis

A post-disaster meeting led to a number of refinements in the plan. Most important, the exercise confirmed the ability of the company to maintain important business activities at a pre-established acceptable level, with minimal impact to its customers and revenue stream.

If you’d like advice on testing your company’s business continuity plan before disaster strikes, just give us a call.

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Top High-Tech Car Safety Features

Nov 10

 

MP900438798 - smallEverybody has felt that unpleasant surprise when a car comes zooming into view after being hidden in a blind spot. Older motorists are no different, and they see warning systems against this hazard as the top safety feature in newer cars, according to a new report by the MIT AgeLab and The Hartford Insurance Company. After surveying hundreds of drivers over age 50 who get behind the wheel at least three times a week, the study found that these “mature motorists” felt more confident with cars which have at least one of 10 advanced safety technologies.

Here are the top 10 safety features for older motorists (in order):

  1. Blind-spot warnings alert drivers when another vehicle is approaching unseen and also help with parking.
  2. Crash mitigation systems detect imminent collisions and can help reduce passenger injuries.
  3. Emergency response systems alert paramedics or other emergency personnel if there’s an accident.
  4. Drowsy driver alerts warn motorists when they nod off or otherwise become inattentive.
  5. Reverse monitoring systems help drivers (especially those with reduced flexibility) judge distances and back up safely by warning of objects behind the vehicle.
  6. Vehicle stability control reduces crashes by helping steer a car if it veers offline or has trouble navigating a curve.
  7. Lane departure warning alerts motorists when they drift from a lane.
  8. “Smart” headlights illuminate the road more effectively by responding to the direction the driver is steering and the vehicle’s speed.
  9. Voice-activated command systems allow motorists to use a car’s features without losing focus on the highway.
  10. Automated parking assist calculates the angles and steers the car into the space, reducing driver stress and increasing the number of potential parking spots.

How many of these safety features does your newer car have?

 

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Home Security Systems: Myths And Reality

Nov 02
thief-1562699_1920Don’t let negative rumors about home security systems keep you from adding this valuable protection for you and your family. Before you buy a system, consider these myths and realities:
Myth: No one will break into my home.
Reality: Burglars can target any home anywhere, and they’re seeking unprotected targets like yours. In 2011, the FBI reported more than 1.5 million residential burglaries, an average of more than one a minute.

Myth. Security systems cost too much.

Reality: According to the FBI, burglaries cost victims an average of $2,185 in 2011. A security system that costs $50 a month (a mid-range figure for most systems) can provide more than three and a half years of protection for the money and valuables you might lose in a home burglary, not to mention helping ensure your peace of mind.

Myth: My pet will set off false alarms

Reality: Many home security systems are pet friendly, designed to distinguish between pets and intruder.

Myth: Having a security system won’t lower my insurance rate

Reality: Because insurance companies can save a ton of money when policyholders use quality alarm systems (which reduce the chances of burglary claims significantly) they offer these customers a sizeable discount on homeowners coverage. You can use these savings to offset the cost of your system.

Myth: Because I have insurance, I don’t need a security system

Reality: Insurance can’t bring back irreplaceable items, such as family heirlooms or other valuables, which a home security system can help protect. What’s more, many people don’t want to deal with filing a claim and receiving an insurance settlement.

For more information on the benefits that alarm systems can provide, feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

 

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Wrap Up Policies; The CCIP Solution

Oct 26

 

Wrap-up or “Wrap” Construction insurance can be a highly effective tool on large or complex building projects to reduce premiums, minimize cross-litigation, and speed the claims process by providing General Liability, Workers Comp, and possibly other coverages for the general contractor and most – if not all –subcontractors under a single package policy. There are two basic types of Wrap coverage: owner-controlled insurance programs (OCIPs) and contractor-controlled insurance programs (CCIPs).

Although each type has its advocates, more and more project owners prefer have the general contractor sponsor the program because they:

  • often use the same subcontractors, who are familiar with the safety requirements of the program – an essential element in a successful OCIP; Shouldn’t this read CCIP?
  • usually have more control than owners over safety programs and are more experienced in the administration of OCIPs: payroll reporting, claims management, working with the insurance company, and so forth
  • have a financial incentive to minimize accidents and injuries on the project (because insurers usually require the general contractor to pay a six-figure deductible, andin many cases, to prefund these potential losses)
  • often have more financial resources than the project owner to provide letters of credit, collateral, or sureties the insurance company requires for projected and developed claims under the program.

However, in some cases, an OCIP can be a better solution than a CCIP. For instance, many owners might be ready to assume the risks of a Wrap-up – and to share the savings with the general contractor for a job completed safely. Picking the best approach for each project should be a win-win for all parties involved. Our Construction insurance specialists would be happy to offer you their input.

 

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