Archive | May 2014

All About Pollution Insurance

Pollution liability coverage used to be included in most business insurance policies but that changed in the 1970’s with the emergence of many expensive asbestos claims. Now this coverage is largely excluded and must be purchased separately. Pollutions claims are not limited to large manufacturers. These claims can be filed by state and local governments, other businesses, landlords and people who live near your business. Do not allow a pollution claim to bankrupt your business; protect it with pollution insurance.

The Six Most-Monitored Air Pollutants in the United States

  • Carbon monoxide: Air levels have dropped about 51% since 2000
  • Lead: Levels of lead in the air have dropped about 89% since 1980
  • Ground-level ozone: Levels have dropped 11% since 2000 and 28% since 1980
  • Nitrogen dioxide: Levels have dropped 52% since 1980
  • Sulfur dioxide: Levels have dropped 48% since 2000 and 83% since 1980
  • Particulate matter: Levels have dropped 38% since 1990

The American Lung Society credits the Clean Air Act with the decline in air pollutants and expects that recent amendments will save more than 230,000 lives by 2020. If your company is required to make major changes or perform a pollution clean-up to remain complaint with changes to the law, pollution insurance coverage can assist you with associated costs.

What Is Pollution Insurance?

Pollution insurance is a type of coverage created specifically to manage the costs associated with pollution clean-up, as well as to cover liability claims for pollution-related injuries, illnesses or deaths. This type of commercial insurance was created in response to the problem that liability claims were bankrupting companies, and therefore victims were not being compensated.

Policies cover any type of small-scale pollution that causes contamination of soil, groundwater or property. They also provide coverage for air-borne contaminates like smoke and emissions. Many policies will even cover pollution that occurred in the past before the harmful effects of waste-products was known. For larger, more extensive pollution incidents, an environmental impact liability insurance policy may be needed.

Who Needs Pollution Insurance?

When many people think of pollution insurance, they picture large factories with billowing smokestacks but many small businesses can benefit from this coverage. Any business that uses environmentally unsafe chemicals, such as a hair salon or a dry-cleaning service, runs the risk of a pollution lawsuit. Similarly, garages, junkyard and industrial manufacturers face these charges.

Even contractors who construct buildings have a need for pollution insurance if the work they do can affect long-term air or environmental quality. A specialized form of pollution insurance called contractors pollution liability insurance can meet the needs of the construction industry.

What Does Pollution Insurance Cover?

Pollution liability insurance provides coverage for any claims brought against your company that are related to pollution of property or that causes harmful effects to people. Damage awards for these claims can be extremely costly, so having this sort of insurance can protect your business from severe financial challenges or even bankruptcy.

Most of the coverage options listed below come standard with a pollution insurance policy but some companies may require you to purchase additional endorsements to get full coverage. Be sure to read the policy details well before selecting a provider. You can expect pollution insurance to cover:

  • Legal defense fees: Pollution insurance companies will provide your company with attorneys who specialize in these matters to defend you in a pollution-related lawsuit. Your policy can also cover the costs of any other related legal fees and court costs.
  • Clean-up efforts: If your company is required by law to clean up contaminants, this coverage will compensate you for a portion of the costs. Many insurers will allow you to buy stop-loss policies that limit the amount that your company will be responsible for during the clean-up. This is beneficial if additional pollutants are identified in the clean-up process, potentially escalating the costs.
  • Operations: If your business uses chemicals or hazardous materials in the course of its operations, you will want to be sure to have coverage for accidents or oversights that may cause pollution. There are two types of coverage available:
    • Catastrophic coverage: This covers you if there is a sudden, pollution-inducing event such as a fire or explosion.
    • Non-catastrophic coverage: This covers you if pollution occurs over a long period of time and affects neighboring businesses or residents.
  • Property transfer: This protects property owners if they purchase a parcel of land or a building that was contaminated or otherwise polluted by a previous owner. If you have this insurance coverage, your insurer will cover necessary clean-up costs.
  • Errors and omissions: This coverage is specifically designed for clean-up companies and environmental consultants. It covers them for liability if they should wrongly declare a property free of pollutants or if the work they do causes further contamination.

What Is Contractors Pollution Liability Insurance?

Contractors work on other people’s property. If work that they do now uses materials that are later found to be hazardous, the contractors are liable for damages and clean-up. Many contractors went bankrupt in the 1970’s when they were forced to clean up asbestos-filled insulation from buildings they had worked on. Contractors pollution liability insurance is designed to protect contractors from these unmanageable losses.

Contractors pollution liability insurance provides contractors with coverage against claims of bodily harm or injuries and provides coverage for any related court costs and legal fees.

Is Pollution Insurance Coverage Expensive?

The cost for a pollution liability insurance policy will differ significantly from one business to the next. A business that uses a lot of hazardous chemicals will have higher premiums than one that uses only a few. Some factors that influence costs include:

  • The type of business being insured
  • The type of chemicals and hazardous materials used
  • The disposal method of hazardous waste
  • The proximity of the business to residential neighborhoods

The only way to find out how much you can expect to pay to insure your particular business is to review actual pollution insurance quotes from one or more insurance companies. This will ensure that the policy you choose provides adequate coverage at a competitive rate.

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Kitchen Safety for Kids

Without a doubt, the kitchen is the most dangerous room in the house. Behind every closed door is the potential for injury or even death. So, as a parent, one of my priorities has always been kitchen safety for kids.

According to the US Fire Administration, 30 percent of all house fires start in the kitchen. From 2008 to 2010, residential cooking caused an average of 165,000 house fires annually, resulting in more than 330 deaths and upwards of 10,000 injuries. But it’s not just fires that make the kitchen such a scary place. It’s knives, poisons, appliances. Everything has the potential to cause injury or even death, especially for a kid. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we teach our children kitchen safety.

Kids are very curious by nature. They like to explore, and they like to find new things hidden behind closed doors. The kitchen is the room with more doors than any other in the entire house. So, naturally, it’s the one place in the house where kids always want to go. Four bedrooms, a basement play room and a dining room full of Lego bricks, and, of course, they WANT to be in the kitchen.

So What Do We Do About It?

Certainly we could lock the doors to the kitchen; but most homes nowadays have an open floor plan, and there are no doors to lock. We could put up a gate to keep the kids out, but having to climb over it every time you need to get something can be a pain. Not to mention, the way that my kitchen is set up, there is no spot to really attach a gate. Which really leaves us with only one viable option for keeping our kids safe in the kitchen: door and drawer latches.

When we installed them in our house, we made sure to get ones that were difficult for my wife and me to get open. That way we knew that it would be next to impossible for a child to get in. The other thing that we did was to NOT put them on every door. Some things are a little more dangerous than others are, so it made sense to put latches on the cabinets with cleaning supplies but not on the one with all the storage containers. Our thinking was that if our child wanted to get into a cabinet, he could go into the one where he was not going to get hurt. Of course, now all of our storage lids are missing, but at least we never had to call poison control. Our kids never really needed to see what was in the other cabinets because they liked the one that they could go into.

Cabinets aren’t the only things that appeal to kids in the kitchen. We buy these fancy stainless steel appliances, and to the kids, these appliances are like shiny beacons of temptation. Anything that can be opened by a child WILL be opened by a child. That means the refrigerator, the freezer, the stove, the dishwasher … EVERYTHING. You need to make sure there is nothing in there that will harm your child. I never worried about the refrigerator so much; I was always more concerned with the dishwasher and the stove. The dishwasher has all of those dirty knives, and the stove has the potential to blow up the entire house. Maybe I am exaggerating a little, but if the gas is somehow left on by the hands of a little kid, we could certainly have the potential for disaster. Only put knives in the dishwasher when you are ready to wash them, and, if you can, remove those knobs from the stove and only use them when you need to.

The smaller appliances on the counter top can be a danger as well. Always leave them unplugged when you aren’t using them. We don’t need to see a child sticking a hand into a blender or playing a game of operation while trying to remove a waffle out of a toaster. Push the coffee pot back against the wall when in use so as to not scald a child who might accidentally grab it.

A lot of children’s kitchen safety is common sense stuff. Obviously, you would never leave knives lying around everywhere or leave all of your cleaning supplies where a child could get a hold of them. You need to put things away. Also, you should probably have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case a fire does start.

While childproofing is an important part of the safety process, it’s only half of what you should be doing. It’s obvious that locking things away and making them off limits to the kids can work in theory, but the most important thing we can do as parents to promote kitchen safety is to make the kitchen a not-so-scary place. As parents, we need to make the kids as comfortable as possible in the kitchen from an early age. The earlier that something like this happens the better. Think of it along the same lines as potty training. The sooner it happens, the more normal it becomes, and you don’t need to worry about accidents when you have it taken care of early. You could say the same thing about teaching children kitchen safety.

How Do We Do That?
  • Get your kids involved: Obviously, much depends on your kids’ ages; but even early, little kids can think they are helping by pretending to mix things in a bowl. Give them a couple of spoons and maybe a bit of flour, and let them “cook.” Sure, it might get a little messy at times, but much like potty training, it won’t always be that way. The earlier they get involved the more likely they will be willing to help and become more aware of their surroundings.
  • Introduce knives as carefully as possible: Never let kids use one unattended, but at least let them know never to cut toward themselves and not to grab a knife by the blade. Let them use a butter knife that is dull so they won’t accidentally cut themselves.

 

  • Show them what certain appliances do: Kids will listen, but nothing resonates unless they have a visual. We can tell them that the stove is hot, but unless they see it, they won’t really know. Short of touching the heat, let them see how hot it can get.
  • Let them see what is behind the closed doors: Tell them about the dangers that you are locking away. If they are anything like my kids, they will look at it once, become bored and move on.
  • Always supervise your kids: Let’s face it, things will inevitably happen and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Communication is BY FAR the most important thing that we can do when it comes to promoting kitchen safety for kids. We can hide everything, but that doesn’t mean that the dangers aren’t still there. Having your kid know what the dangers are will give you better piece of mind. And who knows, maybe one day they will make you breakfast in bed.

Electrical Contractors Insurance

ECIC 'Part P' A4 WebWorking with electricity can be dangerous. Whether you are an independent electrician or run an electrical company and employ other electricians, it is important to be prepared to manage the hazards of your profession. You know the risks of working with electricity, but what about the risks of not having the proper electrical contractor insurance? This article will help you evaluate your risks and understand what kinds of insurance you might need to protect your bottom line in this business

The Dangers of Electricity

  • More than 30,000 non-fatal electric shock accidents occur each year.
  • From 2003-2010, 1,738 people died from exposure to electric current in the workplace.
  • From 2003-2010, an average of 217 people died each year of electrical shock in the workplace.
What Is Electrical Contractors Insurance?

Electrical contractors insurance or electrician insurance protects you from the risks of the electrical business. The policies normally include three main components.

The Three Key Components:

  • Property damage coverage: Covers damage to any office or warehouse space you rent or own; you can also add a clause or endorsement to cover your tools and equipment
  • General liability: Covers you and your business if a third party sustain bodily injury and property damage as a result of your work activities
  • Workers compensation: Covers your employees if they are injured, become sick, or die due to a work-related incident

The property damage and general liability coverages can be bundled together in what is called business owners insurance policy, or a “BOP.” This is a business insurance policy for small businesses that make $5 million or less a year and employ fewer than 100 people.

Additional Insurance Options for Electrical Contractors

There are many more options that you can add on to your BOP to fully protect your business investment. Here are a few examples:

  • Commercial vehicle insurance: Whether you are a sole proprietor or you have a team of electricians, you most likely drive vehicles for business purposes. Personal auto policies are typically not sufficient to cover your risks when you drive a personal vehicle for commercial purposes.
  • Business income or loss of income insurance: This protects your income if you have a work disruption that prevents you from performing work.
  • Equipment breakdown insurance: This insures you against equipment breakdowns and mechanical issues.
  • Inland marine insurance: This covers your equipment as you are transporting it to and from jobsites and can also cover specialized construction or electrical equipment.
  • Life insurance: A number of flexible life insurance options are available. For example a policy can be structured to provide for your family’s needs in the event of your unexpected death or it can be structured to provide for business continuity.

Business insurance can be tailored to your specific needs. For example, if you do not have office or storage space or payroll obligations to other employees, you may be able to just carry general liability.

 Do You Need Workers Compensation?

Electrical contractors who hire employees will likely be required to carry workers compensation by state law. Workers compensation laws vary by state, with some requiriing workers comp if you have a certain number of employees and others requiring you to carry it if you are in business, whether or not you hire staff.

This policy covers your employees if they are injured or die as a result of a job-related incident, or develop a work-related illness. It covers your employee’s medical diagnosis and medical treatment. Also, if the injured employee is unable to work for a period of time, the workers compensation will reimburse the lost income.

Sole proprietors and electricians who work as independents are normally not required to carry the coverage.

 What Is an Umbrella Liability Policy?

Another coverage you may want to consider is an umbrella liability policy. This policy protects you if your liability insurance coverage limits are not enough to cover a liability claim. Electrical work can sometimes cause accidental deaths or massive property damage, and this type of policy can protect your business and personal assets in the event of a large legal claim.

 Review Electricians Insurance Quotes

As an electrical contractor or electrician, you face dangers and hazards all day long. Be sure to protect yourself and your investment in your business by carrying the proper electrical contractors insurance.

Taking time to research the proper policies that cover your risks is something you should consider. Finding an agent who can give you an advantage and produce several rate quotes before you buy might be a good use of your time and money. Most agencies will give you a quote for free – but it’s a good idea to make sure you’re looking at several policies before you buy, to make sure the coverage is adequate and the price matches your budget.