Blog

Comp Scams: Beware Of These ‘Red Flags’

Jan 18

workers-compensation - smallWorkers Compensation fraud is a widespread and serious problem that’s not only illegal, but leads to higher insurance premiums for all businesses – including yours.

According to industry experts, Comp-related scams often involve one or more of these “red flags.” Although no one sign should necessarily be cause for alarm by itself, two or more should raise suspicions and could trigger an investigation of the claim:

  1. Monday morning report of injury. The alleged injury occurs first thing on Monday, or late Friday afternoon, but is not reported until Monday.
  2. Change in employment status. The reported accident occurs immediately before or after a strike, job termination, layoff, end of a major project, or the conclusion of seasonal work.
  3. Suspicious providers. The claimant’s medical provider or legal consultant has a history of handling dubious claims.
  4. Lack of witnesses. No one else saw the accident and the employee’s description does not support the cause of the injury.
  5. Conflicting descriptions. The employee’s account of the accident doesn’t match with the medical history or injury report.
  6. History of claims. The employee has filed a number of questionable or litigated claims.
  7. Refusal of treatment. The claimant declines a diagnostic procedure to confirm the nature or extent of the injury.
  8. Late reporting. The employee delays reporting the incident without a reasonable explanation.
  9. Elusiveness. The allegedly disabled employee is hard to reach.
  10. Instability. The claimant changes physicians, addresses, or jobs frequently

If one of your workers files a claim that has some of these warning signs, be sure to let us know. We’ll work with you and your Workers Comp carrier to check it out.

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.

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.

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.

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?

 

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.

 

Disaster Planning: Ride Out The Storm

Oct 19

 

The American Management Association recently reported that only half of the corporations it surveyed had a disaster plan. What’s more, many respondents felt that the time spent preparing a plan was too costly or that they had just never thought about it.

As insurance professionals, we find such news disappointing. After all, a disaster management plan should be a top priority for every company.

The safety of your employees and the future of your business depend on drafting a disaster management plan now. From the loss of key personnel to physical property damage, everything that can go wrong in a serious situation might very well do so. Are you prepared?

Your plan should also include comprehensive insurance coverage. For example,

Once a disaster happens, if you don’t carry a business income policy with, “Extra Expense,” coverage, you will lose money. Maybe even enough to put your business under for good. This coverage kicks in to help you replace lost revenue and expenses to get up and running fast.

For more information on adding Business Income insurance with Extra Expense coverage to your protection package, call our service team today.

 

PPE: Mistakes Workers Make

Oct 12

 

If your employees slip up in using personal protective equipment, the results can be dangerous, if not deadly.

Among many health and safety professionals, PPE comes in last place—behind engineering controls and work practice or administrative controls – because it only addresses hazards indirectly and has the most potential failure points.

One of these potential points involves interaction between the worker and equipment, when employees make critical mistakes in the care, use, and replacement of PPE.

  • Mistake No. 1: Improper care. For example, a worker takes her foam earplugs out to consult with another worker about a problem, and then rolls the earplugs again with dirty hands before reinserting them. At the end of the day, she leaves the earplugs inside her hard hat and re-uses them the next workday.
  • Mistake No. 2: Misuse. A worker wearing a fall protection harness leaves the harness loose, but pulls the lanyard tight. Another worker who uses a respirator at work decides to grow a beard.
  • Mistake Number 3: Failure to replace PPE as needed. Let’s say that a supervisor whose workers are supposed to use a new pair of chemical protective gloves each day, decides he will save his department money by telling workers to use each pair of gloves for a week before replacing them. After all, they still look fine after a week. Equipment should be changed 1)after each shift, it it’s disposable (gloves protective clothing, etc.).  2) whenever it shows signs of wear and tear or damage.  3)on schedule, if it’s reusable and must be replaced before exceeding its useful life.  and 4) after a save, for single-use PPE, such as hardhats, fall protection harnesses and lanyards.

A word to the wise …

 

NIOSH Offers Tips On Preventing Work-Related Highway Crashes

Aug 17

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Employment-related accidents behind the wheel are the leading cause of death from traumatic injuries in the workplace, killing some 2,200 people a year and accounting for 22% of job-related fatalities. Deaths and injuries from these accidents increase costs and reduce productivity for employers – while bringing pain and suffering to family, friends, and coworkers.

Preventing work-related roadway crashes poses a significant risk management challenge. The roadway is a unique work environment. Compared with other work settings, employers have little ability to control conditions and exert direct supervision over their drivers. The volume of traffic and road construction continue to increase, while workers feel pressured to drive faster for longer periods, and often use mobile electronic devices that distract them behind the wheel.

To help reduce this risk, for both long-distance truck drivers and employees who occasionally use personal vehicles for company business, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that employers follow these precautions:

  • Require drivers and passengers to use seat belts.
  • Ensure that employees who drive on the job have valid licenses.
  • Incorporate road fatigue management in safety programs.
  • Provide fleet vehicles with top quality crash protection.
  • Make sure employees receive training to operate specialized vehicles.
  • Offer periodic vision screening and physicals for employees whose primary job is driving.
  • Avoid requiring workers to drive irregular or extended hours.
  • Prohibit cell phone use and other distracting activities such as eating, drinking, or adjusting non-critical vehicle controls while driving.
  • Set schedules that allow drivers to obey speed limits.
  • Follow state laws on graduated driver’s licensing and child labor.

For more information about how to prevent work-related driving deaths and injuries, just give one of our Risk Management experts a call at any time.

 

OSHA Offers Teen Workers Online Safety Tools

Aug 10

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If you have teenagers, you’re well aware that they’re all too prone to take risks. Four in five U.S. teen (80%) have part-time jobs. Of these, more than half (52%) are in the retail sector, which includes restaurants and fast food establishments.

To help keep themselves safe on the job – and thus reduce their employers’ risk-management exposure – teenagers who work in restaurants and agriculture can use interactive web-based training tools provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to OSHA, educating and training young people about safety in the workplace can help prevent injuries today and lead to a healthy workforce in the future. These resources provide practical information to protect young workers from hazards in industries where many of them are likely to work during high school and college.

The Teen Worker Safety in Restaurants eTool highlights the most common hazards in these workplaces and offers safety and health suggestions, safety posters, and electronic links to educate young workers about job safety. Areas of focus include serving, clean-up, drive-thru, cooking, food preparation, delivery, and worker rights and child labor laws.

The Youth in Agriculture eTool presents case studies that describe common hazards and offers safety solutions for teenage workers in such areas as farm equipment operations, confined spaces, and prevention of c injuries g from falls, electrocutions, and chemical exposures.

The OSHA Teen Workers page offers educational resources such as fact sheets on workplace rights and responsibilities, hazards on the job, ways to prevent injuries, work hours, job restrictions, etc.

Letting teenage workers know about these resources can benefit them – and their employers. What’s not to like?