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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.

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Road-Test Employees, As Well As Vehicles

Jan 04

t1larg-smallChances are that you’d never buy a new truck or front-end loader without trying it out to make sure it could do the job. Do you do the same for the vehicle’s operators?

Safety experts recommend that any employee who will be driving a truck should receive a road test of his or her driving skills before being hired. The examiner should be fully qualified to operate the vehicle, and familiar with the prospective operator’s past experience. The test should include all the necessary skills:

  • use of all controls; traffic operations (including backing, parking, slowing, stopping, passing, and turning)
  • general driving habits, such as alertness, stamina, and patience
  • driving rules and regulations pertaining to the vehicle
  • handling the necessary actions/equipment for loading and unloading the vehicle

For each skill or knowledge area, the applicant should receive a pass/fail grade. Each area of weakness should lead to further training or a corresponding limitation in the scope of the operator’s approved activities. Keep records and scores of these tests as documentation in the event of an accident or claim resulting from a driver’s actions.

For more suggestions on the format or content of driver exams, contact your trade association, state department of motor vehicles. Don’t forget the benefits of a solid driver training and testing program in keeping your Commercial Auto insurance rates under control.

Your drivers are taking your vehicles and your insurance coverage on the road every time they get behind the wheel. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to make sure that they’re capable of protecting both?

For more information, feel free to get in touch with or one of our agency’s risk management professionals.

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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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