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How to Get Injured Employees Back to Work ASAP

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 11, 2018

Strategies to lower your WC costs by getting employees back to work fasterThe majority of injured workers are back on the job within four days.

The longer an injured employee is off the job, the more it costs your company and the less likely the employee will return to work, so one crucial goal of any Workers Compensation Insurance program is to keep injured workers on the job or to get them back to work as quickly as possible.

Here are two time-tested strategies you can use to get your injured workers back to work ASAP: 

1 - Communicate

You should begin discussing your Workers’ Compensation program when an employee is hired. Most employees don’t understand how a WC program works or what is expected of them if they file a claim. Letting them know there is a process in place and that there are certain expectations from the start, can help save a lot of headaches down the road.

All new employees should be given a brochure about your Workers Compensation program including the following information:

  • How medical treatment is provided
  • How and who will pay the bills
  • Your company’s return-to-work (RTW) process

The brochure should clearly state that there will always be an investigation following an accident, that the employer wants the injured employee to return to work as soon as possible, and that they will not be punished for getting hurt.

That same brochure or an abbreviated version should be given to the employee when they are injured, so they have a step-by-step guide for the process. These brochures can help injured workers understand the process and allow them to become engaged in their recovery.

However, it isn’t enough to simply hand an injured employee a brochure. One of the most effective ways to get an injured employee back to work is through direct communication. There’s a good chance that employee is confused or overwhelmed and may feel alone in the process. You need to let them know that they are not alone and that you have their best interests at heart. 

A supervisor or manager that the injured employee knows and trusts should call the worker the day the injury occurs or the following day at the latest. Let them know that you’re sorry they were hurt and ask them how they’re doing. Let them know that they are a valued employee, and you want to get them back to work as soon as they are able. Let them know what to expect and what they need to do and answer any questions they may have.

Then there should be weekly conversations to monitor the employee’s progress. A get-well card can help too.

2 - Create a Designated List of Health Care Providers

The WC laws in each state are a little different, but in Pennsylvania, employers have the right to establish a list of designated health care providers that injured employees can use for 90 days from the date of the first visit. If an employer does not have a list of selected providers, provide written notice of the injured employee’s rights and responsibilities, and properly post the list, injured employees can go to the physician of his or her choice.

The advantage of having injured employees stay within your designated network of medical providers is that you can choose physicians who are well versed in occupational health issues. These physicians will understand that getting an injured employee back to work is not only in the best interest of the employer but also the employee. Research has shown that most people recover and heal faster if they are participating in productive activities rather than becoming a couch potato.

Here are some requirements for a designated list of health care providers from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry:

  • The list must contain at least six providers
  • Three of the six providers must be physicians
  • No more than four providers may be coordinated care organizations
  • Each provider’s name, address, telephone number and area of medical specialty must be included on the list
  • Listed providers must be geographically accessible and their specialties appropriate for the anticipated work-related medical problems of the employees

It's a Win-Win

A speedy transition from injury to return-to-work is a win-win situation and doesn’t need to be complicated. If you clearly communicate your WC and RTW processes and expectations with all employees from the start, regularly communicate with an injured employee, and show concern for the well-being of your injured worker, you’ll be able to get him or her back to work more quickly.

 

Save Big on WC Insurance - Contact Us Today! 

Save on PA Workers Comp InsuranceAmerican Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance and we can save you a bundle. We shop and compare so you don't have to, and we're really good at it!

So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online and start saving!

Tags: workers comp costs, Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance

Liquor Liability Insurance: Not just for Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 04, 2018

Do You Need Liquor Liability Insurance?It will soon be that time of year when many businesses will offer their employees a chance to celebrate the season with a holiday party. At some of these parties, alcohol will be served, and, as we all know, too much alcohol can make people do crazy things!

But how much is too much alcohol?

The answer to that question is entirely different if you’re talking about a 110-pound woman who hasn’t eaten all day and a 210-pound man who has been eating from the buffet for hours.

Be Careful - You Can Be Held Liable

What happens if one of your employees drinks too much and gets into a car accident on the way home? What if a vendor who stopped by your party drinks too much and breaks a leg falling down your steps? What if one of your managers drinks too much and gets into a physical altercation with a colleague?

The truth is that your business could be held liable or responsible because you served him or her too much alcohol. That means that you might have to pay for damages to your employee’s car and the car he hit, plus any injuries. That means that you may have to pay for your vendor’s medical expenses. And it means you could be sued for any injuries sustained in the altercation. That's where liquor liability insurance comes in, but more about that later.

Dram Shop Laws Also Apply to Private Events

Pennsylvania is one of 43 states that have Dram Shop Laws. That law states that any business or individual that serves alcohol in any form – wine, beer, spirits - to a visibly intoxicated person is legally responsible for bodily injury or property damage arising out of the serving of alcoholic beverages. This law applies to not only businesses like bars and restaurants that are in the business of selling alcohol, but also to businesses that provide alcohol at private events. It can also apply to a business giving alcoholic beverages as gifts to clients, vendors, or employees.

Liquor Liability Insurance 

The good news is that there is a way to protect your business: Liquor Liability Insurance. This insurance won’t keep you from getting sued, but it will help cover the cost of your legal defense and any settlements you may be required to pay if you are sued. 

Host Liquor Liability Insurance

While businesses with a liquor license are required to have Liquor Liability Insurance as part of their restaurant insurance coverage, Host Liquor Liability Insurance protects businesses that don't manufacture, serve, or sell alcohol from liquor-related lawsuits. It helps protect companies that host social events where alcohol is served, and it is often included in your Commercial General Liability policy. 

Host Liquor Liability coverage under your general liability policy may not cover you if you are negligent in any way such as serving alcohol to a minor or violating ordinances and regulations related to the distribution of alcohol.

How to Reduce Liability Exposure

You can also reduce your liability exposure by either not allowing alcohol at business events or if alcohol is allowed, practicing responsible behaviors. Here are a few tips to reduce your liability exposure:

  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages
  • Serve food
  • Consider hosting your party at a venue – like a restaurant or bar – that has a liquor license
  • Hire a professional bartender who can recognize the signs of intoxication
  • Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who shouldn’t drive
  • Stop serving alcohol well before the time the party is scheduled to end
  • DO NOT charge employees for alcoholic beverages because then you are technically in the business of selling alcohol and all the implications that go with it.

 

Get the Right Insurance Protection - Contact Us Today

Buy Liquor Liability InsuranceIf you decide to serve alcohol at your next business function, check your commercial general liability policy to make sure that it provides coverage for liquor liability.

To protect your business from liability, give the experienced agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. You'll get great insurance protection at a great price. Contact us today to get started.

Tags: Liquor Liability Insurance, Restaurant Insurance, Business Insurance

Truckers - Here's How to Save $500 on ELD Costs

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Oct 29, 2018
American Insuring Group has partnered with Progressive Commercial to offer our Progressive truck insurance customers your option of $500 or free use of an ELD device!

It’s an easy and smart way to satisfy the ELD mandate at no cost to you. As the #1 Commercial Truck insurer, Progressive recognizes the costs of the ELD mandate and they have developed the Smart Haul program to make it as easy as possible on Progressive customers.

Lower your trucking costs with the Smart Haul program!

 

2 Smart Ways to Save With Smart Haul

#1 - Get Free Use of an ELD

Progressive will provide you with free use of an ELD device and pay your monthly subscription, as long as you share your driving data with them. There are no additional costs, however, you will need to return the device if you wish to opt-out or cancel your coverage.

# 2 - The Compensation Program (Get $500)

You can purchase your own Rand McNally ELD 50 or DC 200. If you are a Progressive customer and agree to share your driving data with them, they’ll pay you $100 for plugging it in, then pay an additional $100 for each quarter that the device stays plugged in, up to $500. 

Don't Delay - This is a Limited Time Offer!

Both offers are available for a limited time only, so act quickly to take full advantage of the benefits! Contact us today to learn more! 

Contact us to save on Smart Haul and lower your trucking costs!

Tags: truck insurance, Trucking Insurance, ELD Mandate, Electronic Logging Devices - ELD, Commercial Vehicle Insurance

Contractor Insurance and OSHA's Fatal Four

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 28, 2018

Contractor insurance costs in Philadelphia and elsewhere can be lowered by decreasing the rate of construction-related accidents.This is the first in a series of four blogs that will focus on what OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) calls the Fatal Four – the four main safety hazards that account for a majority of all construction worker deaths, and therefore have the greatest impact on workers compensation insurance costs for the construction industry.

In 2016, there were 4,693 worker fatalities in private industry, and 991 of those fatalities were in construction. That means that 21% or one in every five worker deaths were in construction. There’s no denying that worksites can be dangerous places to work.

63.7% of Construction Worker Deaths 

The Fatal Four were responsible for 63.7% of construction worker deaths in 2016; eliminating the Fatal Four would save 631 construction worker lives in the U.S. every year. Imagine how reducing injuries and fatalities that involve the Fatal Four could help your business lower contractor insurance costs, not to mention improve employee morale. 

The Fatal Four Hazards

Numbers are based on the 2016 construction industry:

  • Falls accounted for 38.7% of deaths
  • Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4%
  • Electrocutions accounted for 8.3%
  • Caught-in/between accounted for 7.3%

What are Caught-In/Between Hazards?

Caught-in/Between accidents caused 73 construction worker deaths in the U.S. in 2016. These accidents occur when someone (or a part of someone like a hand or leg) is caught, crushed, squeezed, compressed, or pinched between two or more objects including getting caught, struck or crushed from materials, equipment or a collapsing structure. Although similar to struck-by accidents, caught-in/between accidents are a result of crushing injuries and not the initial impact.

Examples of caught-in/between accidents include the following:

  • Trenching cave-ins
  • Being pulled into or caught in machinery and equipment including strangulation caused by clothing being caught in running machinery
  • Being compressed or crushed between objects that are rolling, sliding, or shifting such as between a truck frame and hydraulic bed that is lowering

Trenching Accidents

One cause of caught-in/between accidents is improperly protected trenches and excavations. A trench that is five or more feet deep needs to have a protective system, and a trench that is 20 or more feet deep requires that a professional engineer design the protective system.

This includes proper sloping and benching to avoid collapse, shoring to support the sides, and trench boxes and shields to protect workers from being crushed or buried by a cave-in.

Another precaution is to avoid using heavy equipment near an excavation when workers are inside the trench to help prevent cave-ins and equipment falling into the trench.

Machinery Accidents

Follow manufactures safety instructions and do not remove safety guards from power tools or machinery. Wear loose-fitting clothing or anything that can get caught in moving parts and pull you in. 

When power tools and machinery are not being used or when doing any repairs or maintenance on them, the tools should be properly de-energized.

Heavy Equipment Accidents

Wear seat belts and safety restraints when operating a piece of heavy equipment and don’t overload or overwork the equipment to avoid tipping it over. When working around heavy equipment, remember that operators may not have a clear line of sight in every direction, so workers should not place themselves between a moving vehicle and an immovable object.

Reducing Accidents Through Training 

To reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by caught-in/between hazards, workers need to be adequately trained. They need to understand what hazards to look for and how to avoid them. If implementing these safety measures, saves even one life, isn’t it worth taking the time to train your employees properly? And as a bonus, you'll also help lower your contractor insurance rates.

 

How to Save on Contractor Insurance

Construction Insurance for Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.Creating safer work sites is just one way to save on contractors insurance. Another way (and it's so easy) is to work with American Insuring Group. Our independent agents specialize in contractors insurance, so we can help determine the right coverage for you.

Plus, as brokers, we can compare the cost of that insurance among many competing insurance companies to make sure that you’re getting the right insurance protection at the best possible price.

To learn more, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Construction Insurance, Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

Truck Driver Fatalities and How to Avoid Them

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 21, 2018

Truck Insurance Costs are Impacted by the Rate of Driver FatalitiesEvery time a truck driver gets into his vehicle, he’s facing the possibility of an accident, and accidents that involve big rigs have a higher probability of causing severe injury, which of course impacts the cost of trucking insurance.

It’s no surprise that the transportation industry has the highest incidence of fatal work injuries. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), there were 1,388 transportation and material moving workers fatally injured at work in 2016. That number accounted for 40% of all reported on-the-job fatalities.

Increasing safety and minimizing accidents is one of your best defenses against rising commercial vehicle insurance costs and the ever-increasing shortage of truck drivers.

Accidents and Driver Error 

Most accidents that involve big rigs are due to driver error including lack of poor judgment, speeding, using a mobile device, not being aware of blind spots, driving under the influence, and driving while fatigued. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states, “Even the most well-trained, safety-conscious commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver is at risk of engaging in driving behaviors that could lead to a crash on today’s crowded highways.”

Understanding what causes truck accidents and how to avoid them is the first step. Providing ongoing safety training for drivers and enforcing a culture of safety is the next step. It may seem like a lot of effort up-front, but the payoff will be far-reaching and long-term.

 

Here are 3 tips for safe driving leading to lower truck insurance costs:

1 - Stay Sharp/Pay Attention

Truck drivers need to pay attention to their surroundings: unexpected road conditions, distracted drivers, and drivers who don’t understand how commercial vehicles operate. FMCSA suggests scanning ahead about a quarter of a mile on interstates and one or two blocks in cities and checking the mirrors every 8-10 seconds to be aware of vehicles entering blind spots.

There is a good reason why it is illegal for commercial drivers to text while driving. According to FMCSA, “The odds of being involved in a crash, near-crash, or unintentional lane deviation are 23.2 times greater for truck and bus drivers who are texting while driving.”

Other deadly distractions include eating, drinking, map reading, or any activity that takes your focus off the road. If you need to do something while you’re driving, get off at the next exit or pull over somewhere safe. 

And do not get behind the wheel of a truck when you are tired, too ill to focus, or on medications that can make you drowsy. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash, and a recent study showed that 17% were reported as having “over-the-counter drug use” when they were in an accident.

2 - Buckle Up

Buckle up; it’s the law. You’ve seen the signs, and that doesn’t just apply to passenger vehicles. FMCSAstates, “A CMV which has a seat belt assembly installed at the driver's seat shall not be driven unless the driver has properly restrained himself/herself with the seat belt assembly.” According to the FMCSA, “a safety belt is the most important in-cab safety device that will protect an occupant in the event of a sudden stop or crash.”

No matter how good of a driver you are or how uncomfortable you may think they are, you should wear a seat belt at all times.

3 - Know When to Slow Down

According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, 23% of large-truck crashes occur when drivers travel too fast for conditions. Some conditions to pay attention to are wet roads, reduced visibility, uneven roads, construction zones, curves, and intersections.

Drivers should reduce their speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by ½ or more on snow packed roads. Roads can be particularly slippery when it first begins to rain. Typically, manufacturers advise against using a retarder on wet or slippery roads. 

There’s a reason there are reduced speed limits at curves: 40% of speeding-related fatalities occur on curves. Braking in a curve can cause the wheels to lock up and the vehicle to skid, and trucks entering a curve too quickly can lose control and roll over due to a truck’s high center of gravity.

Work zones present many hazards such as lane shifts, moving workers, and uneven road surfaces and are particularly dangerous areas for truckers. In 2014, 30% of fatal work zone crashes involved at least one large truck. Decrease your speed and get into the correct lane well ahead of work zones. Leave extra room between vehicles, obey all work zone signs, watch for road workers, and be prepared to slow down or stop suddenly.

More Safe Driving Tips for Truckers

Check out FMCSA’s website for more safe driving tips. It just might save a life and help you save on trucking insurance as a bonus!

 

How to Save Big On Truck Insurance 

To learn more about saving on trucking insurance, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online. We specialize in trucking insurance, and as independent agents, we will compare the cost and coverage of multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price on reliable commercial vehicle insurance. Contact us today!

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Trucking Insurance, truck insurance, Business Insurance

4 Ways to Minimize Contractor Insurance Losses

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 14, 2018

Follow these steps to reduce contractors insurance losses  in PA, DE, NJ and beyond.Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and it’s a law that could have been written with the construction industry in mind! There are so many moving parts, activities, and different players all working on a location that has potential hazards around every corner.

So it’s essential that you ensure that you have proper construction and contractor insurance coverage to protect your business. Major losses can do more than just set your business back; they can put you out of business.

Here are four guidelines to minimize your contractor insurance losses:

1 - Carefully Inspect All Insurance Certificates

Every subcontractor you hire should provide certificates that prove they have the necessary insurance coverages, but it’s also important to thoroughly inspect these certificates, which provide only the bare minimum information such as the carrier and the limits of the insurance.

You should have a broker such as American Insuring Group who specializes in contractors’ insurance review all your subcontractors’ policies to ensure that there is enough coverage to protect you if that subcontractor causes an injury or damage and a claim is filed.

Subcontractors often try to save money by purchasing the least expensive insurance available, so you may want to require specific coverage limits, types of coverage, and exclusions based on the scope of work the contractor will be performing and the size of the project.

2 - Force Subcontractors to Take Some of the Responsibility

It’s always a good idea to have a contract in place that clearly states who is responsible for what before something happens including hold harmless or indemnity agreements to protect you from losses.

In addition, the written contract should state that a subcontractor is responsible for some portion of the deductible if they are in any way responsible for any losses. You can also shift some of your losses onto their insurance policies by requiring them to name your company as an additional insured on their policies.

3 - Consider Wrap-up Insurance

When you work on large-scale projects with dozens of subcontractors, it can become overwhelming to keep track of all the different insurance policies involved. This is a good time to consider purchasing General Liability Wrap-Up Insurance. This type of policy protects the owner, general contractor, and all enrolled subcontractors working on the project.

It can be purchased by either the owner or general contractor and is generally used for residential projects with construction costs starting at $10 million and commercial projects starting at $20 million. Wrap-up Insurance can provide cost savings, better control of insurance coverages, and the peace of mind that your business is appropriately protected in the event of a loss. Additional policies can be purchased for excess liability, professional liability, builder’s risk, and pollution liability.

Since the owner or general contractor covers the cost of Wrap-Up Insurance, you can help offset that cost by having subcontractors contribute to the cost of the insurance through bid deductions.

4 - Think Twice About Cost-Cutting Measures

The cost of liability insurance is based on the cost of the project, so it may be tempting to bring the cost of the project down by using cheaper materials. However, it’s important to remember that inferior materials can add to your losses because they’re more likely to wear out earlier, break, or malfunction in some way. You’ll want to weigh the cost savings with the risk.

Working With The Right Insurance Agency is Key - Contact Us Today! 

As you know, every project is unique. That’s why it’s so important to work with an insurance agent who specializes in contractors insurance and knows how to see that you’re adequately insured and protected. Give American Insuring Group a call at (610) 775-3848 or (800) 947-1270 or contact us online to speak with one of our contractors’ insurance specialists.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Construction Insurance, Wrap Up Insurance, Business Insurance

6 Knife Safety Tips for Restaurant Owners

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 07, 2018

Follow these knife safety tips to lower your restaurant insurance costs in Philadelphia, Reading, Lehigh Valley, PA and beyond.One of the best ways to reduce restaurant insurance costs is to improve workplace safety – especially in the kitchen.

Since cuts and lacerations are one of the most common injuries found in restaurant kitchens, it just makes sense to enforce knife-handling safety. It could take a considerable chunk out of your insurance costs and create a healthier and more productive work environment to boot!

Here are Six Knife-Handling Safety Tips:

1 - Always Use a Sharp Knife

Keeping your knives sharp is one of the easiest ways to make them safer. A dull knife forces you to apply more force, which is more likely to cause a slip and increase the risk of injury. Use a sharpening stone or knife sharpener to maintain the original sharpness of the blade.

Most knife blades are designed with a 20-degree angle on each side. If many of the ingredients you’re cutting are harder, this is perfect, but if most of your ingredients are softer, you may want to sharpen your knife to a 15-degree angle on both sides. 

2 - Use the Right Knife

Knives come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. You have your chef’s knife, your paring knife, your bread knife, your cleaver, etc. Each is made for a different type of task. When choosing the best knife for a job, consider the size of the blade and what you are cutting and the type of blade edge – serrated, etc. Here’s an in-depth guide for choosing the best knife for the job.

And remember to treat your knives well. They are not made for opening cans or boxes; they are made to cut food. Using them for other tasks can quickly damage your blade making it dull and unsafe.

3 - Know How to Cut With a Knife

Always use a cutting board to protect your hands and your knives and to allow you to cut consistently. Knowing how to grip the knife and how to hold the food you’re cutting is also important. There are two basic ways to hold a knife – the handle grip and the blade grip. The food you’re cutting should be placed on a cutting board on a stable, flat surface. Protect your fingertips by curling them inward, using your knuckles to guide your knife.

4 - Be Alert

Commercial kitchens can be hectic places, but pay attention to what you’re doing when you’re holding a sharp knife. Even a moment’s distraction can cause an accident and an injury.

5 - Store Knifes Correctly

Every knife should have a specific storage space – NOT in a drawer – where it is kept when not in use. A knife block or roll will not only help protect your employees but also keep knives easily accessible and protected, so they will last longer. Don’t leave knives laying on the counter between uses. They can easily get knocked off and cause an injury.

6 - Keep Knives Clean

Do not leave your knife on a cutting board or in a sink full of soapy water. Immediately washing your knife and returning it to its designated storage space will help keep your employees safe and prevent contamination keeping your customers safe.

Safety Training Pays in More Ways Than One! 

It’s essential that restaurant employees are adequately trained on knife safety and that you make it clear to everyone that safety is a priority in your restaurant. So remember to follow these knife safety tips to protect your employees, reduce accidents, and lower your restaurant insurance costs.

Save On Restaurant Insurance - Contact Us Today! 

Your Trusted Choice Independent Restaurant Insurance AgentsAnother way to take a bite out of restaurant insurance costs is to work with an independent insurance agency like American Insuring Group.

Not only do we have agents who specialize in restaurant insurance who make sure that you get the right insurance for your individual needs, but we are also insurance brokers, so we compare costs among many competing insurance companies to find you the best price for that insurance!

High quality insurance protection for your restaurant at a great price - now that's a real win-win for your business! So give American Insuring Group a call at (610) 775-3848 or (800) 947-1270 to speak with one of our restaurant insurance specialists, or contact us online.

Tags: Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs, Restaurant Insurance

Trucking Insurance and Problems With Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 30, 2018

ELD problems and the impact on truck insurance costsThe transition from paper logging to electronic logging devices (ELDs) that was mandated by the Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) late last year has been anything but smooth for many drivers.

ELD Problems

While some have reported no significant issues, many drivers have experienced frustrating problems such as service outages, unresponsive in-cab units, software glitches, and dropped Bluetooth connections.  As you’ll see below, these issues can ultimately affect your truck insurance costs if not properly addressed.

Some ELDs are not tracking location, miles, and hours accurately, and some aren’t working at all. And many drivers are finding less-than-responsive customer service representatives to help them fix the problems. 

Challenges for Drivers and Inspectors

Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to switch to a different device because many are sold with two- or three-year contracts that are expensive to get out of even if a driver is having problems resolving their issues with customer service.

The new mandate is also creating challenges for commercial vehicle inspectors because there are so many different devices and each one operates a little differently. It’s nearly impossible for inspectors to be familiar with every device. 

The ELD Mandate

Regardless of the problems drivers are experiencing, the mandate isn’t going away. As of December 18, 2017, the FMCSA requires commercial motor vehicles involved in Interstate Commerce to use an ELD.

The regulation, which includes very specific guidelines, is intended to enforce the federal hours-of-service rule. This rule states that truckers can’t be behind the wheel for more than eleven hours a day within a 14-hour workday, and must be off duty for at least ten consecutive hours.  

ELD manufacturers had two years to meet the required technical specifications, but some waited until the deadline to self-certify their units. There are now 330 devices that have been approved by the FMCSA, and all of them are self-certified. The FMCSA is not involved in the certification process.

The Consequences of Not Complying

If a driver is found to be out of ELD compliance – despite all the technical glitches that are occurring - he or she can be put out of service for ten hours. It can also affect a driver’s compliance, safety, accountability, and CSA score.

A driver’s CSA Score is used by the FMCSA to identify high-risk motor carriers. High CSA scores can result in interventions and fines. Five points are assessed to a driver’s CSA score for not having an ELD and another two points are assessed for being placed out of service. Ultimately this may affect your trucking insurance rates.

What Can You Do?

The FMCSA realizes that there are problems with some of the ELDs and is investigating malfunctioning ELDs, which could result in the removal of the device from the FMCSA’s list of registered, self-certified devices.

It’s essential that you understand your responsibilities if an ELD malfunctions.

The mandate allows you to use paper logs for up to eight days if an ELD is not working correctly. Extensions can be requested, and the FMCSA recently created an email address - eld@dot.gov - dedicated to extension requests, so you no longer have to send the request to one of many different FMCSA division offices. 

The FMCSA also updated its ELD FAQs related to questions about malfunctioning ELDs.

 

We’re Here For You – Contact Us Today!

American Insuring Group is committed to helping drivers protect their investment, their business, and their livelihood. One way we can do that is by providing helpful information like this.

Save on PA Truck InsuranceBut where we really shine is finding you the right insurance at the best price! That’s because our independent insurance agents are free to scour the truck insurance market among competing insurance carriers, something a single-brand insurance agency simply can’t do.

So give American Insuring Group a call at (610) 775-3848 or (800) 947-1270 or connect with us online to speak with one of our trucking insurance specialists today!

Tags: truck insurance, Trucking Insurance, Commercial Vehicle Insurance

Tune Up Your Workers Comp Program for Lower WC Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 23, 2018

Lower your workers comp insurance costs in Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Lancaster County, PA and beyond with these tipsWouldn’t it be great to this the year you decrease your Workers Compensation insurance costs? Now is the perfect time to tune up your WC program to experience cost-savings.

Take some time to look at your current program to see if any areas need to be updated or can be improved.  

Here are 6 tips for tuning up your Workers Compensation program:

1- Improve Safety

Improving workplace safety will have the biggest influence on your WC costs. A safer workplace means fewer injuries, fewer claims, and lower WC costs. Here are some tips:

  • Look for ways to improve your safety training
  • Review the current members of your safety committee. Are they still the best people for the job? Are there any gaps?
  • Schedule work-site evaluations and safety inspections for the year
  • If you’ve acquired any new equipment or created new jobs, update your safety manual
  • Review all of your safety communications including posters and brochures to make sure they are up-to-date and that they’re doing the job. HINT: There are many resources online - such as OSHA and the USDA– that offer free safety materials.

2 -Report Claims

Insurance claims should be reported the same day the accident occurs to allow WC claims adjusters to investigate the accident properly and establish compensability. Quick reporting will enable adjusters to control the course of the WC claim better.

Take a look at how quickly accidents within your company were reported this past year. If you see that it took more than a day to report any claims, review your claim reporting procedures with all managers and supervisors, and explain why prompt reporting is imperative to the quick resolution of WC claims.

3 - Keep in Touch with Your Injured Employees

You might be surprised to learn how much of a difference this can make in resolving WC claims more quickly and amicably. Let your injured employees know that your company cares about their well-being and that they are an essential part of your company’s workforce.

Here’s how:

1) Contact the injured employee the day of the accident to see how they’re doing

2) Contact them two days after the accident to make sure they understand WC procedures and to answer any questions they may have

3) Invite them to all work functions, so they continue to feel like a part of the team

4) Meet with injured employees weekly to monitor their progress 

4 - Improve Your Return to Work Program

It’s impossible to deny the benefits (for both employee and employer) of getting injured employees back to work as quickly as possible, whether that means returning to regular or light duty. Your goal should be to return at least 95% of your injured employees to work within 1 to 4 days after their injury.

Take some time to determine light-duty jobs that a recuperating employee may be able to do. Then, when an employee is injured, make sure that you give the medical provider a complete job description, so they can add any added restrictions. 

5 - Stay Current on All WC Insurance Claims

We already stressed the importance of keeping in regular contact with an injured employee to monitor his or her progress, but it’s also important to stay in touch with the claims adjuster to discuss the injured employee’s recovery progress, return-to-work status, and any permanent partial disability, which will require a modification to the employee’s job description.

6 - Fight Workers Comp Insurance Fraud

Make sure your employees are aware of the consequences of WC fraud. Post anti-fraud posters throughout your facility, start a fraud hotline for other employees to report suspected fraud anonymously, consider offering a reward to anyone who provides information that leads to a criminal conviction, and always report any suspicious claim to the Special Investigations Unit of your insurer.

 

Ready to Save? Let’s Tune Up Your WC Insurance Policy!

Contact us to save on workers compensation insuranceThis is a great time to review your WC policy for potential opportunities to save while getting better coverage. American Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance and will help you get the right insurance at a great price.

So give one of our experienced independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

We’d love to help you make this the year you lower your company’s Workers Comp costs!

Tags: workers comp costs, Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance

Workers Compensation Insurance in the Construction Industry

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 16, 2018

Workers Comp insurance costs are high in the construction industry, but here's how to lower them in Philadelphia, Reading, Chambersburg, Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.We’re sure it comes as no surprise that the cost of Workers Compensation insurance is higher in the construction industry than in most industries. The main reason for this is that worksites can be dangerous places.

There’s heavy equipment being used, people working at great heights, continually changing surroundings, and too often, safety training is put off due to tight deadlines. These potential hazards often result in more frequent workers comp claims and more severe injuries, which means higher medical payments and in turn higher workers comp insurance costs for employers.

Unique WC Challenges in the Construction Industry

In addition to higher risk, construction companies face some unique workers comp safety challenges: 

  • There is usually a mix of employees and subcontractors working at the same job site, which makes it more challenging to ensure consistent safety training and the enforcement of safety procedures. Contractors should always verify that subcontractors have adequate workers' compensation coverage.
  • Falls account for an estimated 30% of all construction claim payments. Injuries from a fall are usually more severe and result in more time away from work and damage to more than one body part. Falls are also the leading cause of death for construction employees accounting for 370 of the 991 construction fatalities in 2016.
  • Skilled tradesmen usually require specialized training and undergo unique physical demands, which often means higher pay that results in indemnity benefits that are either near or at the state’s maximum level. Indemnity benefits are benefits paid to the injured employee to replace part of his or her lost income and account for about half of all the money spent on WC claims in the construction industry.
  • Finding modified duty for injured construction workers can be difficult because once a project is completed, the company moves to another location – sometimes in a different state.

How to Reduce Workers Compensation Insurance Costs in the Construction Industry

Create a Safer working Environment

It’s impossible to eliminate all hazards at a worksite, but there are steps you can take to minimize those hazards. Construct Connect offers these tips:

  • Establish a Safety Culture – A commitment to safety needs to start at the top, and it needs to be incorporated as one of the core principles of your company’s culture.
  • Create a Site-Specific Safety Plan – Each job site is different and comes with its own unique set of hazards, so a safety plan needs to be created for each site.
  • Training – Safety training should be thorough and ongoing.
  • Empower Workers to Speak Up and Hold Each Other Accountable – Everyone on a job site should feel comfortable speaking up if they observe unsafe working conditions.
  • Conduct Daily Safety Meetings – Quickly review the work being done that day and discuss the hazards involved and the safety measures and controls in place.
  • Inspect, Evaluate, and Adjust – Every day the construction site should be inspected, and as construction progresses, the safety plan should be evaluated to see if any changes need to be made.

Return-to-Work Program

Another way to reduce WC insurance costs is to have a good return-to-work program that gets injured employees back to work as quickly and safely as possible, even if that means modified duties. Research shows that there are many benefits to getting an injured employee back to work: 

  • Reduces the financial impact of the injury
  • Lowers likelihood of fraudulent claims
  • Reduces the cost of training and replacing employees
  • Promotes good morale among the injured employee and his or her co-workers
  • Can speed up the healing process

We Specialize in Insurance for the Construction Industry

American Insuring Group specializes in insurance for the construction industry in Pennsylvania and beyond. We understand your unique challenges and can help ensure that you have the right coverage. Plus, we compare pricing with competing insurance companies to make sure you get the best price on workers compensation insurance and on all other types of insurance for your construction business.

If you want to learn more about saving money on business insurance, give one of the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click here to contact us.

Tags: workers comp costs, Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance