Entries Tagged 'Sign Of The Times' ↓

FAQs on Employee Benefits Liability Coverage

A good benefits package can enhance your business by attracting employees and retaining current staff. But there’s a downside: errors in the administration of benefits can result in lawsuits against your company. If this happens, your employee benefits liability (EBL) policy will kick in. How? Here are some FAQs on this important coverage.

What is employee benefits liability coverage? Employee benefits liability insurance protects your company against suits that result from administrative errors. If someone managing your employee benefits makes a mistake and this error results in a lawsuit, EBL protects you from the associated costs. These types of suits are not covered by general liability policies, making this additional coverage a very important add-on; EBL coverage is typically added to your general liability policy as an endorsement.

What kinds of mistakes? Employee benefits packages can be extremely complex. From life insurance policies to maternity leave, these benefits involve minute details and significant administration. When an error is made, affected employees can suffer major financial losses. EBL is available to cover these situations, including:

  • Descriptions of benefits and eligibility. When explaining coverage to your employees, you or your benefits manager may convey incorrect information, and the employees are more than likely to make benefits choices based on this erroneous info. This decision could cost them down the road, and they may hold you liable for their financial burden. If a lawsuit is filed because of your error, EBL has you covered.
  • Losses of electronic and/or paper records. Maintaining records of all benefit information is essential. If your HR department accidentally loses a benefit file, the loss could prove costly. If your employee suffers because this information is missing and sues you, your EBL insurance covers the costs.
  • Enrollment, maintenance, and termination of employees and beneficiaries. If your benefit packages are complex, it can be easy to miss a detail. One mistake on a form could omit an employee’s beneficiary from that person’s plan. Mistakes such as these are covered by EBL insurance.

What plans are covered? EBL offers coverage for a full range of benefits. These include insurance benefits, financial benefits, disability and worker’s compensation benefits, and other fringe benefits such as tuition reimbursement and maternity leave.

Who needs EBL insurance? If your staff includes a large number of employees and you offer a full benefits package, it’s wise to have this policy in place. If you have few workers and offer few benefits, you may not need it, although it’s always wise to check.

As the goal is to provide coverage against large claims by employees or their dependents should they suffer financial loss due to your mismanagement of their benefits, the size of your risk will determine the coverage required. When in doubt, discuss EBL coverage with your agent, who will help you review your insurance policies and decide whether EBL coverage is necessary for your business.

Mistakes happen. If they do, EBL can provide you with peace of mind. And it may prevent the unthinkable: a suit that will sink your company.

Is Separate Coverage Required for Suits vs. Claims?

You’ve heard of employees filing a suit against their company. You’ve also heard of people making a claim against their employer to demand financial compensation. So what’s the difference? Are these the same? Do you need separate insurance policies to cover claims and suits?

Suit definition: A suit is a proceeding involving damages due to personal injury, property damage, or bodily injury. It is a civil action, not criminal. Suits also may involve arbitration proceedings and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Claim definition: A claim is a “demand” for damages. If a lawsuit involves demands for damages, it is considered a claim. However, not every claim is a lawsuit. Some claims are “requests” for damages, as occurs when an employee doesn’t file a lawsuit but has sent a letter with a complaint requesting money for specific damages. If the request is not met (or not met by a specified date), the employee may then file a lawsuit.

Insurance Coverage: Both claims and suits are typically covered by general liability policies. However, specific circumstances may require endorsements that protect against those particular scenarios.

It’s important to respond promptly to either a suit or a claim made against your company. If you are faced with one, it’s also essential to contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to determine your coverage. Often, providers must approve settlements, such as those made in arbitration, for coverage to kick in.

Ensure you have the proper policies in place by discussing options with my office

Prevent Homeowner Claims with This Checklist

A few simple maintenance tasks can help prevent major liability insurance claims. The following tasks, completed annually, will help protect you from several types of homeowners insurance claims, such as:

Liability

Inspect your driveway and walkways. Are these areas safe and smooth? Repair any broken, cracked, or uneven areas. This helps prevent accidents on your property. And don’t forget to fix fences and gates.

Winter weather may have taken a toll on your home’s exterior. Check hinges, latches, and locks to ensure they work. If you have a pool, maintaining these deterrents is especially important to keep your own kids or neighboring children away from the pool area and out of danger.

Fire damage

Change batteries in all your smoke detectors and ensure they’re functioning correctly. Also clean your dryer’s lint hose. Your lint trap doesn’t catch it all. You should clean the hose once each year to prevent fire. (And as a bonus, it also increases dryer efficiency.)

Moisture damage

Check the water heater, and if you notice any corrosion or leaks, get it repaired right away. As well, seams and caulking on doors and windows can crack over time and allow moisture to enter your home. This can cause further damage to its structure. Reseal or recaulk where needed.

You also should clean out your gutters and clear away all the debris left by winter storms. The gutter and downspout system protects your home from water damage by directing water away from your roof and foundation. When it’s clogged, it can’t do its job.

Theft

Overgrown bushes can block windows and create shelter for thieves. Trim the landscaping so everything (and everyone) is out in the open. Also check outdoor lighting for burned-out bulbs; ensure your home is well lit to discourage any unwelcome visitors.

If you’re worried about a homeowners insurance claim, this annual checkup can give you a safe home and peace of mind.

Spring Cleaning: Remember to Dust Off Your Insurance

With the arrival of spring, many homeowners equip themselves with cleaning supplies and tackle the accumulated winter grime. If you’re making a checklist for spring chores this month, include a quick cleanup of your personal insurance policies. This yearly review of your coverage should include:

Top-to-bottom cleaning: Review your home from shingles to cellar. Have you made any renovations or improvements since last spring? Did you add a room or remodel a kitchen? Examine your policy to ensure it offers proper coverage to rebuild your home to its current state.

Asset organization: Go through your stuff. Did you receive expensive jewelry for Christmas or purchase any other valuable items in the past year? Check to see if their total value exceeds the limits on your homeowners policy. If so, consider a personal property endorsement or floater to get proper coverage.

Car detailing: What is the current value of your vehicle? You might be able to save money by lowering your coverage. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if your car is worth less than $1,000 or less than 10 times your premium, comprehensive coverage may no longer be cost-effective.

Rain forecast review: Do you need an umbrella? If your assets have increased, they might be at risk if you are showered with lawsuits. Consider an umbrella policy, which kicks in if you reach the liability limit of a standard homeowner or auto policy.

To complete your spring cleaning, consult with my office to determine what changes, if any, are best for you this season.

Nine Cyber Insurance Terms You Need to Know

Cyber-crime is no longer a plot device for sci-fi flicks. It’s here, and it’s rampant. It affects countless companies around the world every day. Allianz’s Risk Barometer ranked cyber incidents as the third-highest global risk in 2016. The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average cost of a breach in 2016 was $7 million.

Clearly, cyber insurance has become an essential for business owners. However, not every entrepreneur has a healthy understanding of this coverage. What types of protection are available? What policies are appropriate for you? Where are your greatest risks? It’s important for business owners to answer these questions and get the proper coverage.

Following is a breakdown of the most common types of coverage. Familiarity with this terminology will help as you partner with your insurance provider to determine the best coverage for your company.

  • Business Interruption: A cyber-attack can limit your ability to continue operations. You may lose a lot of business while you sort things out. This covers loss of income during that time.
  • Crisis Management: If a data breach affects customers, you will incur costs to notify consumers and provide credit monitoring services for them. This also covers the cost of public relations/advertising campaigns you must run in order to rebuild your reputation.
  • Cyber Extortion: If your network is threatened by blackmailers, this covers the payment of an extortion threat. It also provides coverage for the cost of tracking down the criminals.
  • Loss of Data: Cyber-crime often involves sending a virus or other damaging code into your system. Loss of Data or Data Corruption policies cover the destruction of valuable information.
  • Criminal Rewards: If a cyber-criminal attacks your systems, you may offer a reward for information leading to the criminal’s arrest. This insurance will cover the cost of that reward.
  • Data Breach: If your data is breached, you are legally liable. This covers expenses related to that legal liability.
  • Identity Theft: A common cyber-crime is the theft of customer or employee personal information. If this happens, Identity Theft coverage gives you access to an identity theft call center for assistance.
  • Directors & Officers Liability: Company leaders may be at risk or liable for decisions made on behalf of the company. With this policy, key decision makers are protected from cyber liability.
  • Cyber Liability: This basic coverage protects you from costs such as legal fees and court judgments that you incur after a cyber-attack. It also covers unintentional cyber mishaps by your company or another company, such as transmission of a computer virus.
  • General Liability: It’s important to note that most general liability policies do not cover cyber-crimes.

Don’t leave your business vulnerable to these prevalent attacks. To protect your assets, employees, and company future, educate yourself about cyber-crime. Learn your weak spots and speak with my office about how you can strengthen these areas with the right coverage.

Technology Can Cut Workers Comp Claims

How much do you spend on workers compensation?

Between insurance premiums and claim payouts, this figure could be significant. But by improving safety measures in your business, you can significantly impact this cost.

To keep these expenditures down, many business owners are turning to technology.

Today’s tech often gets a bad rap (”Employees are on their smartphones instead of working.” “Robots are stealing jobs.”) But technology can also prove useful in making work environments safer and reducing costs. Following are a few tools that business owners can implement in their company operations to cut risk. The results should be lower insurance costsĀ and safer employees.

Instant access - Upload manuals, instructions, and safety reports to your company website, and allow employees to access this information easily on tablets and phones while on the job. They can quickly reference the appropriate procedures for potentially dangerous situations. In case of an accident, they can easily and instantaneously complete required reporting.

Apps - Most employees now carry smartphones, and many apps are available to boost on-the-job safety. With the addition of a few apps, a smartphone can also be a flashlight, a level, or another tool. Does your business have a unique need? Work with an applications developer on the perfect app for your employees to make their jobs easier and safer.

Cameras and video - Surveillance cameras can help protect against break-ins and theft, but portable cameras and videos can do so much more. They can record safety walk-throughs for future reference and review, take pictures of hazards to report them, and photograph accident sites for accurate, instant reporting.

Drones - In addition to handheld or hard-hat-mounted devices, drones are great tools for photographing or recording a worksite for safety evaluation. Reviewing these images allows analysis of risk factors that could pose safety concerns or cause errors.

Personal sensors - Like boots, hard hats, safety harnesses, and vests, sensors can be used as personal safety equipment. These can let employees know if they have been standing too long or their heart rate is too high.

Site sensors - Sensors can be set up in at-risk areas of worksites to detect specific safety concerns: they can alert employees if they are in an area where it’s too hot to safely work, or alert them to potential hazards ahead that may cause slips or falls.

Self-driving vehicles - Unmanned trucks and cars are still a fairly new idea, but are quickly gaining acceptance. Construction crews in particular are interested in applying this new technology. Drivers of roadwork vehicles are often in danger of being struck by passing traffic. Removing drivers from these trucks would eliminate this safety hazard.

What technology could benefit your business? A quick review of your recent incidents may reveal where you need to beef up safety protocols. Once these at-risk areas are determined, consider what technology could improve employee safety in those situations. Spending a bit on technology could save you a bundle on your workers compensation claims.

Grinch Protection: Wrap Up Your Home This Season

Grinches aren’t always scary green creatures in caves. Sometimes they are masked men who pick locks and carry away all your presents in their sleighs.

Take steps to stop the Grinches this season. With the proper precautions, you can protect your home and ensure your holiday stays bright. Consider the following:

Chimneys aren’t the only access: Some people develop a habit of leaving patio doors unlocked or propping open apartment-building doors. Keep doors and windows locked. It’s also good to check window hardware regularly to verify it’s secure.

Make a list and check it twice: Create an inventory of your personal property. Be sure to include items you have purchased as gifts. This will allow you to know what’s missing in the case of a burglary.

Santa isn’t the only one who needs landing lights: You do, too. Dark, vacant houses make prime targets for thieves. Leave lights on or set a timer, to give the impression someone is home.

Don’t advertise your trip to the North Pole: Will you be traveling? Keep that under wraps. If you announce on social media that your home is empty, the wrong kind of elf might find out and decide your house is prime for pilfering.

Santa’s not yet in the building: Wait until Christmas Eve to put out your gifts. This avoids putting them on display for potential thieves.

Protect presents: If you’re expecting a package but won’t be home, arrange with the company to have it left at a local shipping center or placed in an inconspicuous area. Even better, ask a neighbor to take it in for you.

Holiday peace: Unfortunately, no matter how much you prepare, a theft could still occur. But you can have peace of mind by investing in homeowners or renters insurance. These policies will help you recover your cheer if the Grinches steal it.

Have a cheery holiday!

Homeowners: Here’s Help for Halloween Horrors

It’s a night of candy, costumes and…caution?

Halloween is full of fun times, but on All Hallows’ Eve many mishaps are possible.

Not to worry. From slip and falls to fires to pet bites, your homeowners and renters insurance policies are there for you.

If you have these in place, you’ll be covered for the most common HalloweenB.O.O.’s, such as those listed below:

Breakage - Unfortunately, Halloween is a tempting time for vandals. Tricksters seeking mischief may come your way. If your property or personal possessions are damaged by vandalism, contact your insurance agent to file a claim. Your homeowners or renters policy provides coverage for the “trick” part of “trick or treat.”

O‘lanterns - Halloween is the fifth worst day of the year for candle fires. Thousands of home fires occur each year on Halloween, the majority ignited by decorations. If your pumpkin goes up in flames and causes damage to your property, a homeowner or renters policy will cover any losses related to the fire.

Offenses - Will you be hosting a Halloween party this year? Will trick-or-treaters be visiting your home? If a guest or candy-seeking child is injured while on your property, your homeowners or renters policy will cover this as well. The liability portion will kick in and pay for treatment of injury or other damages. This also includes scenarios in which your puppy gets overexcited about all the ghosts and goblins and one of your trick-or-treaters sustains a nip from Fido.

Ensure you have the policies in place for these potential incidents; as you prepare for Halloween this year; add one more item to your list: Get the candy.

Get the costume. And get the coverage. Contact my office to verify your policies are current and include the necessary coverage for this season.

With this settled, you can enjoy the treats - and be ready for the trick

Don’t Leave Your ‘Home Alone’: You May Not Be Covered

Have you moved to a new home, but the old one is still for sale? Is your rental property between tenants? Have you left temporarily during a remodel? And, most importantly, do you know that insurance requirements are different for vacant properties?

Although many property owners don’t realize there is a difference, it’s a fact that if your property is vacant for whatever reason, you need a special insurance policy. Your options usually depend on the amount of time the property will be vacant and the type of coverage you want.

Common vacancy policies include three, six and 12-month terms. They can cover “named perils,” meaning only the types of losses listed (lightning, hail, fire) will be covered, or they can be more comprehensive. If the vacancy is short, you may only need an endorsement to cover this time period. Note that during this time your regular policy won’t apply. Typical options include:

  • Premises liability, in case someone is injured on your property
  • Personal property, if you are leaving furniture or appliances in the home
  • Vandalism, to cover damage or defacement
  • Burglary, for coverage of doors or windows broken during unauthorized entry and the theft of your personal items
  • Builder’s risk, to cover improvements and repairs during renovations

If you know you will soon have a vacant property, consult with my office immediately. Your provider will set up a policy to protect your home. After all, no one wants to leave their “home alone.”

Don’t Get Soaked Forgoing Pool Insurance

If you want to make a splash this summer, you’re not alone. Some 7.4 million homes, yards, and patios across the nation currently sport swimming pools. Are you considering adding a pool for your recreational pleasure? If you are, the following steps will help ensure your pool is protected, making swim time safe and secure.

Check local laws - Laws vary by town and county, so check to see if what you are adding requires any permits or must adhere to any codes. And note: a fence, and possibly a deck, may be required for all pools in your area.

Contact my office - A pool increases your liability risk. You should make your insurance company aware of your addition and discuss proper coverage. If your homeowners insurance policy includes the minimum of liability protection, you may want to increase this amount. Also consider replacement coverage in the event your pool and other outdoor items are damaged by a storm.

Practice pool safety - Taking a few precautions can help prevent that liability claim. Try the following tips:

  • Install a fence. Even if your area doesn’t require a fence, add one to keep small children from conducting dangerous unsupervised explorations of your pool. Over 3,400 drownings occur across the country each year. You don’t want one of these to happen in your backyard.
  • Clear hazards. Glass bottles, toys, and other items can be dangerous if not properly stored. Radios and electrical devices are also potential dangers. Keep these items clear of the pool area or safely tucked away when not in use.
  • Be prepared. Keep a first aid kit and ring buoy at the ready. Learn water rescue techniques and CPR. Ensure all guests know how to swim before entering your pool.
  • Use nonslip surfaces, especially on the deck directly around the pool and on the diving board. And mark depths in a prominent way.