You’ll hear a lot about the ways to lower your work comp costs, reduce your experience modifiers and improve your loss histories. But what about the real things you can control? Your Exposures. Here’s a few tips on lowering the actual risks you may face when it comes to work comp.
- Do you conduct pre-hire fit for duty exams? More than two in three companies don’t spend the time or money on these exams, aren’t aware that they were available, or don’t know how to conduct them. The bottom line: You don’t want to hire a future Comp claim.
- Have you ever calculated the total cost of your Workers Comp claims? Only one in three businesses do so. For every dollar paid in claims, there’s at least another dollar of bottom line impact in reduced productivity, lost customer satisfaction, cost of replacing an employee, etc. Bear in mind that insurance companies have little incentive in preventing or managing Comp claims, especially when the interest rate on your modifier is in the double digits. In fact, it’s the most expensive money your company will ever borrow.
- Do you have a formal return-to-work program? Once again, less than half of companies do so, even though these plans make eminent sense. The program should acknowledge concerns and fears by both employee and supervisors. Many Comp claims take on a life of their own because managers ignore injured employees as “damaged goods,” rather than trying to nurture them back to work – and then wonder why some of them malinger on claims.
Your home is your sanctuary. It is a place where fond memories are made and relaxing evenings are spent after a busy day. Your home is a safe haven where you and your family most feel at ease. If your home is under-protected or you’ve had a recent burglary, this may compromise the security you feel in your own home.
There were more than 2 million burglaries in the United States in 2012. While that number is down from the previous year, it is still a statistic that no one wants to become a part of. Using a few simple home security tips and tricks, you can protect your belongings, thwart would-be thieves and increase your feeling of security while home and away.
Prevention begins outside your home from the minute it comes into view. Take a walk around your property with a critical eye to see what changes it needs. Here are a few you may have missed:
1. Don’t provide places for thieves to hide: Trim trees and bushes that may give someone a place to hide or unnoticeable access to your windows. You should trim back any shrubs that are high enough to block a window.
You will also want to consider the lighting of your property. Look for places around your home that are very dark and may allow a thief access to your home under the cover of darkness. Consider installing lights in various places that can light up entrances. Motion detection spotlights are the best option to conserve energy and not annoy your neighbors or yourself with the bright lights.
2. Don’t let thieves know you are not home: If you are planning to go on vacation, never announce it beforehand. We are a society that likes to share, and thieves love that about us. Sending a tweet that you’ve arrived at the airport or posting a status update on Facebook indicating that you can’t wait to leave for your cruise is a great way to alert thieves that your home is empty. Save all updates about your vacation and picture sharing for when you return.
In addition, if you are planning to vacation, have a trusted friend or neighbor stop by every day to pick up the mail, newspapers and any fliers that may be left at the door. If a flier has been sitting on your front door for days, a thief could take notice and know you are on an extended leave.
Any time you are going to be gone during the night, even if it’s just returning from work after it gets dark, you should have interior lights set to a timer. Having lights on will keep thieves guessing and will let you feel safer when you come home.
3. Keep your yard clean to prevent giving thieves an advantage: Many times, thieves will gain access to your home through a window they have broken. It is best that we don’t give them a tool to do that. Clean up your yard of broken tree limbs after a storm. Ensure your kids put away their toys after playing outside. Never leave a ladder outside in the yard; a thief could use your ladder to gain access to a higher window that is more likely to be unlocked. Use the same precautions for tools, whether they are gardening or for the barbecue; lock them up when they aren’t in use.
4. Install a home alarm system: While an alarm may not keep burglars from getting inside your home, it will deter some and bring the police to your home quickly, limiting what a thief is able to take. Home security systems will only work if you always remember to engage the alarm. You should have your alarm engaged while you are away or while you are at home as many thieves will attempt to break into one part of your home while you are busy in another. Also, some insurance companies may lower your home insurance premiums for having a home alarm system installed.
5. Take precautions to protect windows: If you are purchasing new windows for your home, it might be worth the upgrade to buy shatterproof glass. This would prevent anyone from breaking a window to gain access to your home. If new windows aren’t in the budget, consider adding a security film to windows. This will prevent the glass from shattering upon breaking and may deter thieves from continuing their attempt to break in.
6. Secure sliding glass doors: Sliding glass doors have incredibly flimsy locks. A thief can easily pop them in an instant, giving quick access to your home. Installing a security bar for sliding doors would make gaining access to your home more difficult. This measure of protection is a must-have for all sliding doors and windows.
7. Always lock doors and windows: Keep windows locked when you are not home, when you go to bed at night and when they are not in use. If you like to sleep with a window open at night, install window locks that only allow the window to open a few inches.
You should also keep your garage door down, even during the day. Having the garage door open invites thieves inside to look around. It gives them quick, easy access inside your home. Even if they can’t take something at the time, they can get enough of a look to see if your home is worth a visit later.
8. Change the locks as necessary: If you’ve just purchased a home from someone, your first order of business should be to meet the locksmith at your new home. You have no idea who is out there with a key just waiting for the moment to use it. In addition, if you’ve had a breakup recently, it is time to change the locks. The person may give you the key back, but you have no idea how many copies are out there. Having the locks changed is good for the peace of mind.
Keeping your family, your belongings and your home safe and secure does not involve a lot of money. A few simple changes such as the home security tips mentioned above can protect everyone and everything for years to come.
Landscaping provides more value than just a better view for homeowners or business owners. In fact, studies show that well-designed landscaping can help protect water quality, improve air quality, and even lower crime rates. A study in a recent editon of Smart Money Magazine showed that the average homebuyer values a well-landscaped home 11.3% more than it’s base price. From a real estate perspective, landscaping investments are nearly always recouped when a home is sold, and good landscaping design can greatly reduce the time a home is on the market.
As a landscaper, owner of a landscaping company, or lawn care provider, you take great care to create, plan and maintain a beautiful outdoor environment. The same care should be taken to make sure your business is protected against the risks of your trade. The right landscaping insurance can help ensure that your business will continue to thrive after unforeseen accidents, injury or property damage.
4 Coverage Types for Landscaping
Landscapers and lawn care companies require a general liability policy that provides the following coverage:
- Property damage: Includes damage to public or third-party property caused by you or your employees
- Bodily injury: Covers bodily injury or death to a third party caused by you or your employees
- Products/completed operations: Covers any products or completed work that your company sells
- Advertising injury: Covers you if your advertising causes harm to the reputation of another person; includes slander, libel and false claims about business competitors in your advertising.
What Is Business Owners Insurance for Landscapers?
A business owners insurance policy, also called a BOP, is designed for small businesses with less than $5 million in sales and no more than 100 employees. It includes a group of coverages that meet the needs of a small business owner.
Here’s an overview of the basics contained in the policy. Keep in mind you can add additional coverage, if needed.
- Property damage: Covers rented or owned office buildings, warehouses, storage facilities, garages and other property. You normally have to add a tools and equipment floater or clause to protect specialized tools and equipment.
- Business income: Protects against the loss of income and operating expenses if your business is shut down as a result of a covered event.
- Equipment breakdown: Covers your equipment if it stops working due to operator error, power surges, or other mechanical malfunctions.
A tools and equipment floater may be needed, since you work with specialized equipment that is expensive to replace. Also, if you are a sole proprietor and do not employ other workers or have business property other than your vehicle, you may be able to drop some of these coverages and just carry general liability. These two items are good to discuss with your insurance agent.
Should I Carry Workers Compensation?
Normally, workers compensation is a state-mandated coverage. If you have employees, your state most likely will require you to carry a policy. In some states, all business owners must carry workers compensation for their own protection, even if they do not hire employees.
Workers comp covers your employees in the event of job-related illness, injury or death. The policy includes medical and diagnostic expenses for treatment and pays a portion of the employee’s wages if they cannot return to work.
In most states you are not required to carry this coverage if you are self-employed and the only worker in your business. In that case, you can choose to have workers compensation or decline coverage, however it can be a very valuable coverage to have if you suffer a work-related injury or sickness.
As a landscaper or lawn care provider, you most likely spend a lot of time in your vehicle traveling to different jobs. When you drive, you are at risk of a commercial vehicle accident during the course of business. Your personal auto policy will most likely not provide coverageif you’re using your personal vehicle for commercial use. Make sure you have all your cars, vans, trucks and trailers insured with a commercial vehicle policy. Any vehicles you use for business purposes can be added to this policy.
Compare Landscapers Insurance Quotes
General liability, business owners policies, workers compensation and commercial vehicle coverage are the keys to a well-maintained risk management plan for your landscaping or lawn care business. While these are pretty straightforward coverage options, it’s important to consider that the process of finding the right coverage to protect you might not be so simple.
Researching insurance options that fit your needs and budget is a process you shouldn’t take lightly. Understanding how much your business is worth and what kind of legal issues you could face are both things you can discuss with an insurance agent or a lawyer before you buy a policy. When you shop smart, you’ll get the coverage you need to go about your business confidently.
Every day, professionals in a wide range of industries face liability risks, including financial and legal professionals, architects and designers and even health and wellness practitioners. Even so, professional service providers may not recognize the risk of a lawsuit until a client or patient suffers a loss or personal injury. The best way to prepare is by taking preventive action. Investing in professional liability insurance makes sense when you work with clients who pay you for your expertise, knowledge, advice and care.
Professional Lawsuit Statistics
- From 1986 to 2011, the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) collected $6.46 billion from professional liability claims.
- The FDIC spent $1.77 billion funding professional liability insurance claims and investigations.
- Since August 8, 2013, the FDIC has approved lawsuits against 122 institutions on behalf of 987 individuals.
- 52 other lawsuits have been approved involving anything from attorney malpractice to fidelity bond malpractice.
- In 2012, there were 369 authorized director and officer defendants.
What Is Professional Liability Insurance?
If you are looking for a professional liability insurance definition, you will find that it is slightly different depending upon your profession. For example, a private practice physician’s professional liability coverage will be geared toward the risks of the medical profession, whereas a realtor’s concerns are related to buying and selling homes. However, it is essentially defined as legal protection from “errors and omissions” that may occur as a result of performing professional services. This means it will cover you for mistakes you make as well as your negligence – things you fail to do – that result in a client’s loss.
In practice, it means that if a client claims that your services, advice, or expertise have caused a personal or professional loss, you have insurance that will cover your legal defense and the costs associated with resolving a lawsuit. Litigation can be a drawn-out process that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Professional liability insurance is a reliable way to protect your business assets. If you’re sued, professional liability insurance coverage helps pay for defense costs as well as any settlements or judgments that you must pay.
Who Needs Professional Liability Insurance?
This form of business insurance appears under a variety of names because of the many different types of professions that need this type of coverage. Anyone from a home remodeler to a heart surgeon should consider purchasing professional liability insurance coverage.
A few specific types of this insurance are:
- Malpractice insurance: This is specifically designed to assist medical professionals accused of negligent behavior or mistakes. Everyone working in the healthcare and medical fields should evaluate whether this is a necessary coverage or not. Even if you are a health professional who is employed within a clinic or hospital that has its own malpractice insurance, it is a good idea to evaluate personal malpractice coverage for your own protection.
- Errors and omissions liability insurance: Professionals who buy errors and omissions insurance include consultants, lawyers, brokers, financial advisers, real estate agents, architects, designers and even insurance agents. These professions are based on knowledge and advice; those who act on that advice are at risk in one way or another and may deem that the services you provided resulted in injury, damage or loss.
- Directors’ and officers’ liability insurance: This type of coverage specifically deals with any negligent behavior or errors committed by top ranking company employees.
Others that may want to consider professional liability coverage include engineers, dentists, not for profit organizations, contractors and transportation businesses.
Why Do I Need Professional Liability Insurance?
The most important reason to have the protection of professional liability insurance is unforeseen claims against you. If for any reason a client or patient feels wronged or harmed by your services, you can be at risk of a lawsuit. If you are covered by a reliable professional liability insurance company, and have set a coverage amount that is adequate for the risks you face, your personal assets are protected.
Another important reason why you may need individual professional liability insurance is if you are concerned that your company may not support you during the legal process. For example, if for any reason there is a conflict of interest, your company’s insurance policy won’t provide coverage. The costs of legal defense and possible settlement or judgment may then be taken from your personal financial assets.
If you maintain a standard of excellence within your business operations, you may feel that the extra cost for professional liability insurance isn’t worth the expense. However, service providers are often blindsided by lawsuits can bankrupt them or their company.
Examples of Professional Liability Insurance Claims
Professional liability claims range from simple errors to major snafus. For example:
- A commercial client hires a design firm to design an office building to specification, including space for specialty equipment and existing office furniture. When the project is complete, the client company discovers that the existing furniture and equipment will not fit into the space, and they must pay an additional $30,000 to retrofit the space. The result is a claim against the design firm.
- A firm hires a marketing company to produce an ad campaign, and is sued by another corporation for copyright infringement. The client firm, in turn, sues the marketing company for the cost involved in the legal process as well as for damages to their reputation.
- A real estate agent fails to disclose a known problem or defect in a property, such as a problem with mold or radon. The home buyer learns of the problem after the sale is complete, and sues the agent for not disclosing the problem and for the additional costs involved in remediation.
- A surgeon removes the wrong kidney; or, the surgeon recommends a surgery which the patient later learns is not beneficial and can even be life threatening.
Find Affordable Professional Liability Insurance
The cost of professional liability coverage will vary widely depending on your profession and your risks. A sole proprietor who installs cabinetry may not face as large of a potential risk as a brain surgeon, but both professions need coverage. Other factors include the frequency of claims in your industry, the size of your company, and whether you’ve had liability claims in the past. Professional liability insurance costs can vary from $500 to $15,000 per year, depending on the type of work you do.
DART—Days Away, Restricted or Transferred—includes injuries resulting in days away from work, injuries resulting in restrictions from normal job duties or injuries resulting in both. OSHA uses the DART rate to determine which employers will be targeted for inspection in its yearly Site-Specific Targeting (SST) Inspection Program.
But during this year’s SST program, OSHA plans to skip inspections for those businesses that made it on the hit list but have had low DART rates in two of the three years between 2011 and 2013. There are exceptions to this, some of which include:
- Your business didn’t respond to the survey and send in the required OSHA data.
- Any of the Certified Safety & Health Official (CSHO)-calculated DART rates from 2011-2013 are at or above 3.6.
- Any two of the DART rates are below 3.6, but any two of the CSHO-calculated DAFWII case rates are at or above 2.2. (DAFWII stands for Days Away From Work due to Illness or Injury).
To protect the health and safety of workers nationwide, OSHA created the SST Inspection Program to proactively examine employers with the highest rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. Each year, employers must report their injuries and illnesses on the “OSHA Work-related Injury and Illness Data Collection Form.” Using data collected from the surveys, OSHA creates an annual “hit list” of employers targeted for a programmed inspection. The “hit list”—a primary list and a secondary list—consists of up to15,000 employers with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses.
There’s no guarantee that OSHA will bypass inspections based on prior years’ DART rates beyond this year, but always aim to keep your DART rate low. For more information on OSHA’s SST program, its 2014 hit list and its inspection plan for 2014, contact Tower Insurance Agency today.
After a long, dark winter, spring’s bright sun and warm winds are, well, a breath of fresh air. The only downside? All that sunshine spotlights your leaf-filled gutters, cracked sidewalks and the dead plants in last year’s flower beds. Dwight Barnett, a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors, shared this checklist to help you target the areas that need maintenance so you can get your chores done quickly, leaving you time to go outside and play in the sunshine.
- Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.
- Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.
- Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.
- From the ground, examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.
- Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
- Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home’s foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.
- Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.
- Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.
- Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.
- Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.