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4 Tips to Lower the Risk of Workers' Comp Litigation

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 25, 2021

4 Tips to Lower the Risk of Workers Comp LitigationIn Pennsylvania, almost all employers are required to carry Workers' Compensation Insurance (WC) for their employees. WC covers medical costs and lost wages for an employee that is injured on the job. WC also protects employers from negligence lawsuits. 

However, that doesn't make employers impervious to WC litigation. Under Pennsylvania law, if a workers' comp claim is denied, the injured employee has up to three years to file an appeal. And statistics show that litigated workers' compensation claims cost businesses more money, making minimizing the risk of litigation a smart move. 

Here are four tips to Lower the Risk of Workers' Compensation Litigation. 

Minimize the Risk of Injury

The best way to minimize the risk of WC litigation is to reduce the risk of injury with a workplace safety program.

 According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), every workplace safety program should include the following elements:

  • Commitment from management
  • Employee Involvement
  • A workplace analysis
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Employee training
  • Communication

Creating a safer work environment does more than lower the risk of litigation. It also helps improve your bottom line. Discover the impact of workplace injuries on your profitability with OSHA's "$afety Pays" program. 

Understand Why Injured Employees Seek Litigation

A Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) study in 2014 took a look at why employees will hire an attorney. Here are the three primary reasons:

  • Fear of getting fired just because they were injured on the job
  • A belief that their supervisors don't believe it's a legitimate injury
  • Concerns that the claim will be denied 

Once you know what can trigger an injured employee to seek litigation, you can take steps to prevent those triggers from happening. 

Communicate With Injured Employees

One of those steps is to communicate with injured employees. In that study, WCRI found that 33% of all the injured workers they surveyed were afraid that they were going to be fired. Regular communication with an injured employee can help eliminate that and many other uncertainties (which is often why people seek litigation). 

As soon as possible, someone from your company should reach out to the injured employee to ask how they're doing. But, first, you need to determine the best person to keep in touch with the injured employee. That person could be the employee's immediate supervisor, someone from human resources, etc. 

Then, you should have weekly face-to-face meetings with injured employees to show them that you value them, get updates on their medical condition, and discuss a potential transitional duty job. During these regular meetings, you can also gauge the attitude of the injured employee more quickly. 

During these conversations, you should listen to and address their concerns, assure them that their job is safe, and encourage them to focus on recovery. 

Have a Return to Work program

A return to work (RTW) program helps bring injured employees back to work more quickly. That could mean modified duties for the employee until they can medically return to their original job. In addition, an RTW helps an employee feel more productive and more connected to their workplace, which means they will be less likely to seek litigation.

The PA Department of Labor & Industry states, "Return-to-Work programs benefit all partners in the compensation system."

  • Injured workers maintain employment security, seniority, and benefits and receive personalized and effective treatment;
  • Employers retain experienced employees while reducing accident and workplace costs;
  • Health care providers are supported in their decisions and treatment strategies;
  • Unions maintain the employment rights of their members; and
  • The workers' compensation system can manage rising health care costs and provide high levels of benefits to injured workers and their dependents. 

And, of course, RTW programs help minimize the potential for an injured employee to seek litigation.

Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance

The experienced agents at American Insuring Group specialize in WC insurance and ensure you have the right coverage at the best price. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online. 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

5 Top Tips to Save on Truck Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 18, 2021

5 Top Tips to Save on Truck InsuranceAs an independent truck owner/operator or small fleet owner, Truck Insurance can be a significant part of your operating budget. While the right insurance is crucial to the well-being of you, your employees, and your business, there are steps you can take to lower those costs without compromising coverage. 

Hire Wisely

Better drivers typically mean fewer accidents, and of course, fewer accidents mean lower insurance costs. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “In 2018, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32 percent of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes.” 

Yes, we understand that good drivers can be hard to come by, but taking the time upfront to find suitable drivers and then taking steps to keep them will deliver significant savings down the road. 

Doing a thorough background check and verifying employment history and references of all potential hires is the first step. Look for drivers with clean driving records. It’s one of the things insurance companies are looking for to lower your insurance premiums. A general rule of thumb is to only hire drivers with no more than two minor violations in the past three years. 

Generally, the more experience a driver has, the better they can handle bad weather, road rage, and other hazards truck drivers face every day. Therefore, it’s no surprise that experience is one of the factors insurance companies consider when determining your insurance premiums. To take advantage of this, only hire drivers with a minimum of two years of CDL experience. 

Statistically, there are more accidents involving both very young and very old drivers. The FMCSA reports, “Of the 4,786 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2018, 328 (7 percent) were 25 years of age or younger, and 294 (6 percent) were 66 years of age or older.” Therefore, you may want to consider hiring drivers between the ages of 26 and 62. 

3 Additional Tips:

  1. Consider using FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) to screen new hires.
  2. Consider instituting an employee retention program
  3. Improve drivers’ comfort 

Always ensure that you follow all state and federal hiring laws.

Consider Your Routes

Routes you regularly drive can affect the probability of an accident and increase your insurance costs. For example, driving in high-traffic areas or areas with a higher frequency of bad weather can result in more accidents. Therefore, if you can avoid those areas, you may be able to lower your insurance rates. 

Consider Your Trucks

Purchase the right vehicle for the right job; don’t buy a larger or more expensive truck than what you need because it could increase your insurance costs. Also, keep up with truck maintenance and install safety features in your trucks.

Consider Policy Structure

Often, combining multiple insurance policies with one company can lower your overall costs. Choosing a higher deductible will also reduce your annual premiums, but remember… you need to have the deductible amount readily available when you make a claim. 

Make Safety a Priority

Two key factors in determining your insurance rates are your DOT Safety record and your insurance claims history – how many claims you’ve filed, the size of the claims, etc. The better your record and the fewer your claims, the lower your rates. 

While you may not be able to do anything about your current claims history, you can take steps to lower the number of claims in the future, which will result in significant savings down the road. Develop a culture of safety with safety programs and ongoing safety training for your drivers. 

The Simplest Tip to Lower Your Truck Insurance Rates

Work with one of the agents at American Insuring Group, who specialize in truck insurance. They understand your challenges and needs and can help ensure you get the right coverage. Also, as independent agents, they will compare the cost of that coverage with multiple insurance companies to ensure you get the lowest rate.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online to start saving on your Truck Insurance costs.

Tags: truck insurance, workers comp insurance, Trucking Insurance, Safe Driving Tips

10 Hand and Power Tool Safety Tips

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 11, 2021

10 Hand and Power Tool Safety TipsCan you imagine trying to complete any construction project without hand or power tools? No, neither can we. But we also can’t ignore the fact that both hand and power tools present many hazards that can cause injuries, and injuries mean higher Contractors Insurance costs. 

When you work with tools every day, it’s easy to become complacent. As you repeatedly use certain tools, you almost go into auto mode, which can be extremely dangerous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, power tool injuries result in approximately 400,000 emergency room visits each year in the U.S. Staying alert is crucial to minimizing the risk of injury. 

10 Hand and Power Tool Safety Tips 

  1. Use the Right Tool – You know the correct tools to use for each task (at least you should), but sometimes a different tool is just handier. For example, using the screwdriver in your tool belt when you know the right tool for the job is the chisel you left in your truck. Or using the wrong sized bits, blades, etc., just because you don’t have the right size on hand. Using the wrong tool can cause damage or injury.
  2. Follow Manufacturers’ Instructions for Use – Don’t think you know how to use a tool better than the manufacturer. Manufacturers’ instructions are written to help you avoid damage to your tools and injury to you and your coworkers.
  3. Regularly Inspect Tools – Always inspect hand and power tools before and after use and properly repair or replace anything that is damaged before using again. Here’s what to check:
    • The handle and body casings of the tool for cracks or other damage
    • Damaged switches or faulty trigger locks
    • Make sure auxiliary or double handles are securely installed
    • Inspect cords for defects, such as cracking, fraying, or other signs of wear
    • Inspect plugs for cracks or faulty prongs
  4. Don’t Modify Tools – Don’t remove any safety guards or disable any safety devices on tools. Don’t paint tools because this can hide cracks and chips.
  5. Handle Tools With Care – The more carefully you handle your tools, the longer they’ll last and the safer you and your coworkers will be. Don’t “toss” tools into boxes or at coworkers. Don’t use electrical cords to lift tools. When not in use, keep tools in a toolbox or your tool belt.
  6. Unplug – Power tools should be unplugged when not in use, moving to a new location, replacing blades or bits, or making repairs.
  7. Keep Workspace Clean – A cluttered space can lead to trips, falls, and injuries, especially when you’re handling power or sharp tools, so keep your workspace clear of clutter. Also, be careful with power cords and air lines. Don’t let them get tangled up, and watch for cords as you move about your workspace.
  8. Make Space – Leave yourself enough room to safely operate hand and power tools without coming into contact with your coworkers or other objects.
  9. Wear PPEPersonal Protective Equipment (PPE) – such as safety goggles, earplugs, gloves, face masks, and hardhats – help protect you from injuries. PPE should fit properly and be well maintained.
  10. Get Training – Understanding how to correctly use (and not use) tools is the best way to avoid injuries. Every employee using hand or power tools should be trained on the proper use of those tools. They should also be trained on general safety procedures and the appropriate use of PPE.

How to Save on Contractors Insurance

Creating a safer worksite to eliminate injuries is the first step to saving money on Contractors Insurance. The next step is to work with one of American Insuring Group’s agents specializing in Contractors Insurance. Not only do they understand your unique insurance needs, but they will also check with multiple insurance companies to ensure you get the best rate on your insurance coverage. So give them a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with them online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

6 Questions to Ask to Acquire the Right Restaurant Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 04, 2021

Questions to ask to get the right restaurant insuranceThe right Restaurant Insurance coverage is an investment in your business or a safety net when (not if, but when) things go wrong – accidents, vandalism, fires, etc. But the wrong Restaurant Insurance can be an unnecessary expense.

Here's what we mean…

Let's say you serve alcohol to someone at your restaurant. They get into a car accident on the way home, and your business gets sued for bodily injury or property damage caused by that person. The Liquor Liability Insurance you purchased helps cover legal costs, settlements or judgments, costs to repair damages, and medical bills. That's an investment.

Now, let's say you run a small diner. To determine your Workers' Compensation and General Liability Insurance premiums, your restaurant is classified as 0899 (Bar, Nightclub) instead of 0975 (Restaurant) as it should be. You're going to end up paying for potential risks that don't apply to your business. That is an unnecessary expense.

Here are some questions you can ask to ensure you get the "Right" Restaurant Insurance.

Is My Restaurant Correctly Classified?

As stated above, if your diner is incorrectly classified as a bar, you could be paying more in insurance premiums than you need to. On the other hand, if your bar is misclassified as a restaurant, you could find a gap in your coverage.

Do I Need Workers' Compensation?

The PA Department of Labor & Industry states, "If you employ workers in Pennsylvania, you must have workers' compensation insurance -- it's the law." Failing to carry appropriate workers' compensation insurance carries a potential $2,500 fine and up to one year in jail. Additionally, if the court determines the failure to comply is intentional, you could face a $15,000 fine and up to seven years in prison.

Do I Need Commercial Auto Insurance?

If your restaurant has a vehicle that you or an employee uses for business, you need Commercial Auto Insurance. Most personal auto insurance policies will exclude business use, so if you're in an accident while conducting business for your restaurant and only have personal auto insurance, your claim will probably be denied. If an employee uses their own car for restaurant business, such as delivering food or going to the bank, you need Hired or Non-Owned Auto coverage.

Do I Need Cyber Liability Insurance?

If you gather any type of personal information – which most restaurants do – you should have Data Breach and Cyber Liability Insurance. Don't think that just because you are a small business that you aren't susceptible to data breaches. Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report found that "Almost a third or 28% of data breaches in 2020 involved small businesses." One data breach can cost your business thousands of dollars.

Are There Any Gaps in My Insurance?

Think about your assets – property, employees, equipment, vehicles, etc. – and your potential risks – fire, injury, etc. to determine if there are any gaps in your insurance. An insurance agent specializing in Restaurant Insurance understands the unique challenges and risks inherent in the restaurant industry and knows the right questions to ask to ensure that you don't have any coverage gaps.

How Can I Lower My Restaurant Insurance?

The right Restaurant Insurance coverage helps protect you, your restaurant, employees, and customers, but that doesn't mean you should pay more than you need to for that coverage. Here are a few tips to lower your Restaurant Insurance costs:

    • Focus on Safety
    • Improve Security
    • Hire Wisely
    • Pay Upfront
    • Increase Your Deductible
    • Carry the Right Coverage
    • Bundle
    • Review Your Policies Annually
    • Work With an Independent Agent

We Specialize in Restaurant Insurance!

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Restaurant Insurance. As independent agents, we will compare the cost of your coverage with several companies to get you the lowest price possible. So, give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp, commercial vehicle insuarance, Cyber Liability Insurance

Safe Cleaning Tips to Protect Your Restaurant Customers

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 28, 2021

Safe Cleaning Tips to Protect Your Restaurant Customers and help you save on restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, PA and points in between.The COVID-19 pandemic reminded restaurant owners and managers of the importance of proper sanitation - whether they’re running a food truck or a fine dining restaurant. So perhaps it’s a good idea to continue some of those additional precautions even as the mandates are lifted.

The fact is - COVID or no COVID – every restaurant should be kept clean for the safety of the business and its customers and employees. Dirty restaurants can lead to food-borne illnesses, making customers sick, which can lead to lawsuits, damaged reputations, and higher Restaurant Insurance costs.

Here is information to help ensure that your restaurant is adequately cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected to help prevent cross-contamination of food and the spread of germs and viruses.

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

Cleaning is removing visible debris and deposits – such as dirt and spills - on the surface using a vacuum, duster, degreaser, soap, or detergent. Cleaning does not eliminate germs.

After a surface is cleaned, sanitizing helps eliminate many microorganisms and reduce the growth of bacteria. Any surface that comes in contact with food – such as cutting boards, countertops, serving utensils, pots, pans, etc. - should be regularly sanitized. They should be sanitized whenever you’re switching to a different type of food or ingredient, when you’re done with one food prep task, or every four hours. Sanitizing kills 99.9% of bacteria.

Surfaces that are frequently touched – such as light switches, door handles, phones, cash registers, bathrooms, etc.– should be regularly disinfected using bleach or other disinfectant. You should disinfect at least once a day, but more frequently during cold and flu season or a virus outbreak. A disinfectant kills 99.999% of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

How to Sanitize Food Prep Surfaces

WebstaurantStore suggests the following process:

  • Wipe the surface of any visible debris.
  • Rinse the surface with soap and clean water.
  • Sanitize the surface with a food-safe sanitizer, following the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Allow the surface to air dry for at least 30 seconds.

How to Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces

WebstaurantStore suggests the following process:

  • Wipe the surface of any visible debris.
  • Rinse the surface with soap and clean water.
  • Follow the directions on the disinfecting product you’re using, including how long to keep it on the surface and whether or not to rinse it off.

Restaurant Cleaning Checklist

A restaurant cleaning checklist can help ensure that all employees know what is expected and that cleaning tasks aren’t overlooked. The checklist should include both the kitchen and dining areas and have daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

Prevent food poisoning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these four steps to avoid cross-contamination and food poisoning:

  • Clean (your hands, surfaces, fruits and vegetables, etc.)
  • Separate (cutting boards, food, etc.)
  • Cook to the right temperature
  • Chill – refrigerate promptly

CDC COVID-19 Guidelines Worth Continuing:

  • Urge employees to stay home if they don’t feel well.
  • Require employees to wash their hands frequently - particularly before, during, and after preparing food or after touching garbage. Employees should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Have enough supplies – soap, towels, no-touch trash cans, etc. – to support healthy hygiene.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, phones, cash registers, bathrooms, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Use touchless payment options.
  • Post signs and posters to promote healthy hygiene habits among the staff.

Save Even More on Restaurant Insurance!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group will compare competing restaurant insurance carriers to get you the right insurance coverage at the lowest price. So, give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Pittsburgh PA, Safety Programs, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

4 Heat-Related Illnesses Construction Workers Should Watch For

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 28, 2021

4 Heat-Related Illnesses Construction Workers Should Watch ForAs the temperature continues to rise, so do heat-related illnesses among construction workers. The first step to minimizing your risk of these illnesses (and lowering your Contractor Insurance costs) is to understand potential illnesses, how to avoid them, and how to treat them.

According to WebMD, "Heat exhaustion is strongly related to the heat index, which is a measurement of how hot you feel when the effects of relative humidity and air temperature are combined. A relative humidity of 60% or more hampers sweat evaporation, which hinders your body's ability to cool itself." A heat index of 90 degrees or more significantly increases the chance of a heat-related illness.

Certain factors can increase your risks of a heat-related illness, such as obesity, certain prescription medications, the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney, and heart problems. Also, adults over 65 can be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

Here are four heat-related illnesses to look out for when you're working in hot and humid conditions – inside or out.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the most common heat-related illness and can occur when a person is exposed to high temperatures for several days without adequate fluids.

There are two types of heat exhaustion – water depletion and salt depletion. Water depletion can cause excessive thirst, headache, weakness, and even a loss of consciousness. Salt depletion causes nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and muscle cramps. Additional symptoms can include confusion, dark urine, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, and profuse sweating.

If you or someone you're working with in hot and/or humid conditions experience these symptoms, the first step is to cool them down.

  • Get them out of the heat – preferably into an air-conditioned room
  • Remove tight or unnecessary clothing,
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
  • Drink plenty of fluids (including sports drinks, which replace salt)
  • Remove tight or unnecessary clothing,

If these measures don't make you feel better within fifteen minutes, seek medical help. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke – a more serious heat-related illness that can cause damage to vital organs or even death.

Heat Stroke

Heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness and, unlike heat exhaustion, requires immediate medical attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "[Heat stroke] occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes."

A person suffering from heatstroke will experience many of the same symptoms as heat exhaustion – headache, dizziness, nausea, etc. But a person with a heat stroke will stop sweating and have a high body temperature. As a result, their skin will be red, hot, and DRY rather than cold, pale, and clammy skin like someone with heat exhaustion.

If you see or feel any of these symptoms, immediately call for medical assistance, get out of the heat, and use any methods to cool down quickly (i.e., spray with cool water or immerse in a tub of cool water). Monitor the body temperature until it is below 103°F. Do not give fluids to someone with heatstroke.

Heat Cramps

When your body lacks both water and salt, your muscles can spasm and cause cramps, typically in the arms, legs, and abdomen. If you experience heat cramps, get out of the heat, drink cool water or electrolyte-replenishing drink, and apply a cool, wet compress to cramping areas. Seek medical assistance if the cramps don't go away within an hour of treatment.

Heat Rash

Heat Rash is the least serious heat-related illness, but it can be uncomfortable. It happens when sweat can't evaporate from the surface of your skin, which can happen to construction workers working long hours in hot conditions. With a heat rash, you'll see small itchy red bumps or blisters – typically on your chest, neck, groin area, and inside your elbow. You can help alleviate the symptoms by getting out of the heat and hydrating. A cool shower and the application of talcum powder can help eliminate the rash.

Here's How to Lower Your Contractor Insurance Costs

American Insuring Group wants to help lower your Contractor Insurance costs by helping you keep you and your employees safe. AND, as independent agents, we compare multiple competing insurance companies to ensure that you pay the lowest insurance premiums while providing you with great coverage.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

8 Tips to Lower Your Commercial Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 14, 2021

Save on Commercial Insurance in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Reading, Lancaster and elsewhere.Commercial Insurance is an excellent investment for any small to medium-sized business. Liability insurance, workers' compensation, or any other type of commercial insurance is designed to help protect your business. But that doesn't mean you should pay more than you have to for that coverage.

Here are some tips to help you lower your Commercial Insurance costs:

Create a Safer Work Environment

Whether you run your business out of an office or a Jobsite, creating a safe work environment is your responsibility. And it's in your best interest as fewer workplace injuries mean lower expenses, including lower Workers' Compensation and Commercial Liability premiums.

There are several measures every business can take to create a safer work environment:

  • Create a culture of safety
  • Use signs to alert employees about potential hazards
  • Provide PPE when appropriate
  • Keep things clean
  • Maintain equipment
  • Implement safety protocols, etc.

Develop Safer Employees

Safety training should be a part of any employee training – especially in higher-risk occupations, such as restaurant, trucking, and construction. But even an office presents certain hazards, such as ergonomic injuries, eye strain, and fires.

The Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) offers various safety and health training and articles based on hazards, industries, etc.

Minimize the Risk of Theft or Damage

Prevent employee theft by doing background checks on potential employees and hiring employees who don't have a criminal background. Have a written policy on employee theft and make sure all employees understand those policies. Divide payroll and billing responsibilities, restrict access, keep track of inventory, etc.

Protect your business assets from theft and vandalism by installing solid doors and good locks and ensure that your exterior building entrances are well lit. In addition, consider installing security systems – cameras and alarms.

Protect your information from being stolen through cyber-attacks by training employees on security principles, providing firewall security for your internet connection, ensuring proper passwords and authentication is used, etc.

Combine Your Insurance

Many insurance companies offer a discount when you combine or "bundle" different types of insurance – such as commercial auto and commercial property insurance. And did you know that depending on your business structure, you may even be able to bundle business and personal policies to save even more on insurance premiums?

Maintain Good Credit

Often, insurance companies will look at a new business owner's personal credit history before providing an insurance quote, and typically the better your credit history, the lower your premiums. Establishing good credit under your business name – especially if your personal credit is less than stellar – could also help lower your insurance premiums.

Increase Deductibles

The deductible is the amount that you pay out of pocket when you make a claim. The higher you set your deductible, the lower your insurance premiums should be. However, before selecting a high deductible to lower your insurance premiums, make sure you will be able to cover that deductible if you have to make a claim.

Review Your Insurance Policies Annually

In business, as in life, things change. For example, this past year, you may have purchased or sold a company vehicle, made improvements on your property, added or eliminated an employee. Any of these changes can affect your insurance premiums and the amount of coverage you need, so it's essential that you review your policy each year.

Work with an Independent Insurance Agent

The agents at American Insuring are independent agents, which means we aren't restricted to working with one insurance company, unlike most of our competitors. Instead, our agents will check with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the lowest rate possible on your insurance needs.

For a free quote, give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Dump Truck Safety and Insurance Savings Tips

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 07, 2021

Dump Truck Safety and Insurance Savings Tips in Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, and throughout PAEvery type of truck – including dump trucks - comes with its own set of unique hazards. If you want to lower the cost of your Trucking Insurance, you need to understand those hazards so that you can reduce the risk of accidents, damage, and injury.

In 2016 (the most recent data available), there were 8,206 dump truck accidents severe enough that the vehicle had to be towed – a nine percent increase over 2015. That same year, 5,483 dump truck accidents involved injuries and 367 fatal dump truck accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA).

There are two main types of dump truck hazards: driving hazards and operational hazards.

Operational Hazards

When the bed of a dump truck is raised for unloading, it can become unstable, especially when it’s on an uneven surface. This can cause tip-overs, rollovers, unbalanced loads, and crushing injuries. Working in freezing temperatures can add to the risk, as loads can become stuck inside, causing the vehicle to tip over as the dump body is raised.

“The amount of risk depends on many factors. These factors include dump site layout, dump site stability, truck performance, amount of light, decision-making abilities of equipment operators, and weather conditions. Important tasks for safety professionals are to quantify work site risks, to provide guidelines for identifying when risks are too great, and to determine what can be done to reduce these risks,” stated NIOSH.

To minimize these risks, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recommends that drivers:

  • Keep tires properly inflated and ensure they are not worn.
  • Ensure the load is evenly distributed.
  • Never overload the upper portion of the truck bed.
  • Keep the truck and trailer in a straight line when backing up, and never move faster than walking speed.
  • Stay in the cab with your seat belt on during the entire dumping process.
  • Never attempt to exit or jump from an overturning truck.
  • Dump only on level surfaces
  • Never dump when surfaces are uneven, loose, or not adequately compacted.
  • Use antifreeze in cold weather to prevent material from freezing and sticking in the truck bed.

Driving Hazards

As with any truck, dump trucks present unique driving hazards. The larger size – length, height, weight, ground clearance, etc. – and unique nature, creates additional driving challenges, such as shifting loads, larger blind spots, and longer stopping distances. And a higher center of gravity means they can roll over more easily.

When a truck is involved in an accident, there is a higher risk of more severe damage, injuries, and fatalities. In 2019, 5,005 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents, and 118,000 were involved in injury crashes, according to the National Safety Council. Large trucks account for 10% of all vehicles involved in deadly crashes.

Any employee operating a dump truck should receive ongoing safety training. The FMCSA offers these safety tips for truck drivers:

  1. Be vigilant
  2. Signal for safety
  3. Know when to slow down
  4. Maintain vehicle
  5. Buckle up
  6. Stay sharp
  7. Practice work zone safety
  8. Never drive distracted

Lower Your Trucking Insurance Costs

Understanding the unique hazards dump trucks present and how to avoid those hazards to minimize damage and injuries is the first step in lowering your trucking insurance costs. The second step is working with an independent agent at American Insuring Group.

We specialize in trucking insurance, so we can ensure you have the right coverage. Plus, as independent agents, we compare the cost of that coverage with multiple insurance companies to ensure you get the best price for that coverage. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, truck insurance, Trucking Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

How to Protect Your Business From Construction Defects

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 31, 2021

How to Protect Your Business From Construction Defects while saving on contractor and construction insurance in the greater Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Allentown, Lancaster, Reading, Pittsburgh, Erie regions and throughout PA.Let's face it – no one is perfect. Not even contractors. Construction defects occur, and contractors can be held liable for those defects.

One significant lawsuit has the potential to put you out of business, which is why it's imperative that you understand potential construction defects, how to prevent those defects and potential lawsuits, and how to protect your business with the right Contractors Insurance.

What is a Construction Defect?

Modern Contractor Solutions magazine defines a construction defect as "a defect in the design, the workmanship, and/or in the materials or systems used on a project that results in a failure of a component part of a building or structure and causes damage to person or property, usually resulting in financial harm to the owner." Construction defects can lower a home's value and can even cause bodily injury or property damage.

Construction defects come in many forms. A defect can be as simple as an improperly painted room or as complicated as a foundation that affects the structural integrity of the building.

Some of the most common and most costly construction defects include the following:

  • Structural Integrity
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Doors, windows, and glass
  • Finishes

According to FindLaw, courts typically categorize construction defects into four categories:

  • Design Deficiencies, which typically relate to "building outside of a specified code." For example, a poorly designed roof can cause water penetration, poor drainage, etc.
  • Material Deficiencies are the use of inferior building materials. For example, using cheap windows that – even when properly installed – leak.
  • Construction Deficiencies is poor quality workmanship that can lead to several issues, such as water infiltration, cracks, plumbing leaks, pest infestation, etc.
  • Subsurface Deficiencies are the lack of a solid foundation. For example, subsurface conditions that are not properly compacted and prepared for adequate drainage can lead to a structure moving or shifting, flooding, etc.

And there are two types of defects – patent and latent. A patent defect is an obvious flaw that can be easily seen, such as a crack in the foundation or flaking stucco. In contrast, latent defects are hidden issues that aren't as easy to identify, such as plumbing that is improperly installed that causes leaks and damage. These defects may not be evident until well after a project has been completed.

Anyone who works on a project – contractors, subcontractors, developers, suppliers, architects, and engineers - can be held liable for construction defects. Laws regarding construction defects are complicated and vary by state.

Currently, in Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations on construction defects is two years from discovery, and the statute of repose is 12 years after completion of construction. Lawyers.com explains, "A statute of limitations sets a lawsuit-filing time limit based on when the potential plaintiff suffered harm, a statute of repose sets a deadline based on the mere passage of time or the occurrence of a certain event that doesn't itself cause harm or give rise to a potential lawsuit."

How to Limit Liability

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is a well-known proverb that certainly applies when it comes to liability. Your first goal should always be to prevent liability by taking the following measures:

  • Draft well-crafted contracts that set expectations
  • Fulfill the terms of the contract
  • Keep schedules realistic
  • Provide quality workmanship
  • Hire reliable and competent subcontractors
  • Perform and document periodic inspections
  • Keep communication professional and reasonable
  • Ensure everyone working on the project is adequately insured

How to Protect Your Business

Sometimes, despite all of your best efforts, errors do occur, which is why the right insurance is crucial to any construction company's success. The following types of insurance can help protect your business from construction defects:

  • General Liability Insurance – covers injuries (other than employees), property damage, libel, and slander
  • Completed Operations Liability Insurance – covers a completed job or service
  • Professional Liability Insurance – covers lawsuits related to failure to deliver services, negligence, and errors and oversights
  • Builder's Risk Insurance (sometimes called Course of Construction Insurance or Inland Marine coverage) – covers damage that occurs while a building is under construction

Get the Right Contractors Insurance and Start Saving

The independent insurance agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Contractors Insurance, so they can 1) ensure you have the right coverage and 2) ensure you pay the lowest price for that coverage by shopping the market extensively for you.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online for a free estimate.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

5 Tips to Reduce Restaurant Kitchen Fires

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 24, 2021

5 Tips to Reduce Restaurant Kitchen Fires and to save on restaurant insurance in Reading, Allentown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster, and throughout Pennsylvania.Restaurant Insurances – such as Commercial Property Insurance and Business Liability Insurance – helps repair damage caused by a kitchen fire and get your business up and running again.

But, there’s no denying that a fire will have a negative impact on your business – possible interruption of business, injuries, brand reputation, etc. Therefore, doing what you can to prevent kitchen fires is key to a restaurant’s success.

“U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 7,410 structure fires per year in eating and drinking establishments between 2010 and 2014,” according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). “These fires caused average annual losses of three civilian deaths, 110 civilian injuries, and $165 million in direct property damage each year.”

Don’t become a statistic. Follow these five tips to minimize your risk of a kitchen fire in your restaurant:

Provide Proper Training

We understand the restaurant industry has a high employee turnover rate, so it’s tempting to skimp on training. However, to minimize the risk of a fire, all kitchen staff should be trained on fire prevention, how to quickly extinguish different types of fires – including grease fires, and your restaurant’s evacuation plan in the event of a fire.

Minimize Grease and Grease Buildup

NFPA reports that a failure to clean was a factor in 22% of fires in eating and drinking establishments. All kitchen surfaces should be regularly cleaned, with particular attention paid to grease and grease buildup. Grease is a combustible energy source and can make a fire spread more quickly. Exhaust hoods, duct systems, and ventilation systems are prone to grease buildup; however, grease can also buildup on walls, floors, and other surfaces.

Maintain Equipment

According to NFPA, cooking equipment is the leading cause of structure fires in eating and drinking establishments – accounting for three out of five fires (61%) and 38% of direct property damage. All kitchen equipment should be regularly maintained and inspected, so they are in good working order.

Provide Fire Extinguishers and Install Fire Sprinkler Systems

A small fire that is quickly contained will cost you less than a fire that has spread. Your restaurant should have at least one Class K fire extinguisher, which is explicitly made for grease fires. Extinguishers should be regularly inspected, and kitchen staff should be adequately trained on how to use them to extinguish a fire.

Your kitchen’s automatic sprinkler system should be your last line of defense since this type of system will only be activated for larger fires. However, NAFP reports, “in eating or drinking establishments, direct property damage per reported fire was 75% lower when wet pipe sprinklers were present, compared to fires with no automatic extinguishing equipment present.”

Fire sprinkler systems should be regularly tested, inspected, and maintained to ensure they are functional and up to code. 

Prevent Electrical Fires

Only 9% of structure fires in restaurants were caused by electrical distribution and lighting equipment; however, wiring, lighting, electrical cords, etc. accounted for 21% of direct property damage, according to NFPA. All of the electrical appliances used in a kitchen can overload an inadequate electrical system and cords can fray or melt.

To prevent electrical fires, don’t overload outlets or circuits. Inspect electrical outlets and cords regularly and replace damaged electrical outlets or cords. Also, keep combustibles away from electrical equipment and encourage kitchen staff to report any potential electrical hazards they notice immediately.

The Right Restaurant Insurance Can Help!

If a fire does occur in your restaurant kitchen, the right insurance can help get you back on your feet. American Insuring Group specializes in Restaurant Insurance and can make sure you have the right coverage at the lowest price. We're independent agents who shop the market, so you get quality protection at the best price. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online for a free estimate.