Insurance Savings and News You Can Use
Join the Conversation!

5 Ways to Lower Your Workers Compensation Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 10, 2019

AIG business man pushing cost buttonWorkers' compensation coverage is mandatory for most employers in Pennsylvania, and according to the PA Department of Labor & Industry, “Employers who do not have workers' compensation coverage may be subject to lawsuits by employees and to criminal prosecution by the commonwealth.”

Although it may be a necessity, there are ways to lower the cost of your Worker’s Comp Insurance premiums. To lower your WC costs, you need to understand how your premium is calculated.

How is Your Worker’s Compensation Premium Calculate?

A simple formula is used to calculate your Workers Comp premium for each employee:

RATE x (PAYROLL/100) x EXPERIENCE MODIFIER = PREMIUM

RATE:

The rate is determined by an employee’s classification code, which is based on how likely that worker is to be injured on the job. The same classification code is given to employees in the same industry who perform similar functions. It’s no surprise that pilots, drivers, and construction workers – considered among the most dangerous jobs – have a higher rating than an office worker.

PAYROLL:

This number is derived from a projection of your payroll for the current period of your Workers’ Compensation policy.

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER:

Your modifier is based on your company’s loss history – how many WC insurance claims you have submitted - compared to the average loss history in your industry. A company is issued an experience modifier of one if their loss history is average. If your company’s loss history is better than average, you will receive a lower modifier. If your company’s loss history is worse than average, you will receive a higher modifier. The lower your modifier, the lower your insurance premiums.

5 Tips to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

Review Your Classifications

A classification error can cost you a lot of money. For instance, if your administrative assistant has accidentally been assigned the classification of a roofer, you’re going to pay a higher WC premium for that employee than you need. A roofer is more likely to be seriously injured on the job; therefore, the classification code of a roofer will be significantly higher than that of an administrative assistant.

To make sure you aren’t making any costly classification mistakes, it’s a good idea to have your insurance agent review any classification codes you aren’t sure of.

Create a Safer Work Environment

Fewer insurance claims result in a lower experience modifier, which results in lower WC premiums. How can you make fewer claims? Create a safer work environment. Your business should have a documented safety program that is enforced and embraced by all of your employees.

A small reduction in your experience modifier can result in a significant reduction in your WC premiums.

Plus, in Pennsylvania, employers can receive a 5% Workers' Compensation premium discount by forming and maintaining a workplace safety committee that meets state-established requirements for certification.

Maintain a Substance-Free Workplace

An employee who uses drugs or alcohol while on the job can cause injuries to both themselves and their co-workers. Make it clear from the time you interview a potential employee that you have a zero-tolerance for substance abuse.

One way to do that is requiring a pre-employment drug test, and depending on how dangerous a work environment is, random drug testing for all employees.

Establish a Return-to-Work Program

The longer a claim remains open, and an injured employee is off the job, the more it costs the employer. A return-to-work program gets employees back to work once they are medically ready. That could mean reduced hours or reduced duties that are approved by the injured worker’s physician.

Find Out If You Can Join of a Group

In some states, employers that have been in business for a while and have a better-than-average safety history can get a group rating by joining a recognized group, which results in lower WC premiums.

How to Save EVEN MORE on Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

American Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance, so we can guide you through the process and provide suggestions for additional ways to save on your Workers’ Comp Insurance. As independent agents, we have the advantage of working with lots of insurance companies, giving you more ways to compare and save! Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Return-To-Work Programs, WC Insurance, Safety Programs

A Clean Kitchen Can Reduce Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Nov 04, 2019

AIG man cleaning kitchen counterIf you are a restaurant owner or manager, you already understand how vital a clean kitchen is to the safety of your customers. But have you ever considered how a clean kitchen can save you money, such as lowering your restaurant insurance and litigation costs?

Unfortunately, with so many other responsibilities, keeping a restaurant kitchen clean can be a real challenge. Having a cleaning and sanitizing process in place (and strictly enforced) can help make the process much easier.

First, we’re going to remind you why a clean kitchen is key to any restaurant's success and then provide some tips to help you create a cleaning and sanitizing process for your restaurant.

4 Reasons to Maintain a Clean Restaurant:

Keep Your Customers Safe

The obvious reason to keep restaurants – from kitchens to dining tables - impeccably clean is to avoid cross-contamination and food-borne pathogens that can make your customers sick. Also, a buildup of grease that is not properly cleaned can cause a fire putting employees, customers, and your bottom line at risk.

Pass Restaurant Health Inspections

Health inspections are real and can occur at any time – typically one to four times a year. Having a process in place to keep your restaurant clean helps ensure that your restaurant passes health inspections and helps you avoid fines (or closure) if you don’t pass inspection.

Two of the most common health code violations are poor kitchen sanitation and cross-contamination that can lead to food illness; therefore, maintaining a clean restaurant at all times should be your goal.

Maintain a Good Reputation

Having a clean restaurant – both front-of-house areas and behind the scenes - is imperative to your restaurant’s reputation. People will not dine at a visibly dirty restaurant (at least not more than once), and having your restaurant shut down because of a health violation doesn’t exactly instill confidence in your customers.

Keep Restaurant Costs Down

A clean restaurant can help minimize the cost of legal fees and medical costs; thereby, helping to lower your restaurant insurance costs. Plus, a sanitized and clean kitchen helps cut down on food waste.

How to Maintain a Clean Restaurant?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to sanitation and food safety is the control of bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins, chemicals, and pathogens like Norovirus and Listeria, which can result in food-borne illness.

On average, one in ten people will become ill, and 420,000 will die every year after eating contaminated food, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Food contamination can occur at any time during food production, distribution, and preparation. Any surface that touches food must be regularly cleaned and sanitized – including countertops, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, flatware, tables, microwaves, and even high chairs.

Having a cleaning and sanitizing process in writing, training all employees on that process, and enforcing that process are key to a clean restaurant. Here are some tips for developing that process in your restaurants.

Basic Steps to Clean All Surfaces:

  1. Remove debris from the item by scraping or rinsing it.
  2. Remove soil by washing the object in detergent.
  3. Rinse with hot water.
  4. Sanitize with a chemical sanitizer or hot water (180F) to reduce pathogens. Sanitization reduces 99.999% of pathogenic microorganisms.
  5. Air dry. Do not rinse or use a towel to dry it after it has been sanitized.

What Should Be Cleaned and When?

While preparing food, cooks should practice basic food safety procedures, such as switching cutting boards and brushing grills between cooking fish, poultry, and red meat.

Tasks performed after each shift should include tasks such as cleaning cooking equipment; washing utensils, plates, and glassware; and sweeping and mopping the floors.

Daily tasks include cleaning out grease traps and running hood filters through the dishwasher.

Weekly tasks should include emptying, washing, and sanitizing reach-in coolers; cleaning coffee machines; and using drain cleaners on floor drains.

Monthly tasks should include things like cleaning freezers, emptying and sanitizing ice machines, washing walls and ceilings, and wiping down storage areas.

There are also annual tasks (that aren’t exactly cleaning but are important), some of which may require a professional, such as checking the fire suppression system, fire extinguishers, the hoods, and pilot lights on gas equipment.

The Webstaurantstore offers a printable checklist that you can start with, but creating checklists specific to your restaurant ensures that everything is covered.

Want to Save Even More on Your Restaurant Insurance?

American Insuring Group specializes in restaurant insurance and offers an extensive blog that provides information about how you can save on restaurant insurance. Plus, as independent agents, we can compare costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price.  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Small Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Safety

Lower Workers Comp Cost by Addressing Asbestos Safety

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 03, 2019

Asbestos-and-Contractors-Insurance-300A safe work environment translates to lower Workers Compensation and Contractors insurance costs. We talk a lot about the obvious hazards that can create unsafe construction worksites such as OSHA’s “fatal four” - falls, struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in or between hazards.

But there is a less obvious risk at many construction sites - harmful exposures to asbestos. While most manufacturers have eliminated the use of products containing asbestos, the deadly substance still exists at many construction job sites, especially older structures.

The Mesothelioma Center reports that at least 1.3 million construction workers are still at risk for occupational asbestos exposure, and asbestos causes fifty percent of all work-related cancer deaths in the U.S. Demolition workers face the highest risk.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a heat and flame-resistant mineral that was used in thousands of construction and manufacturing products (estimates are as high as 4,000) at one time and is still present in countless buildings today – especially structures (both homes and commercial properties) built before the 1970s.

Here are some of the products where asbestos was used:

  • Drywall and related products
  • Insulation products
  • Vermiculite products
  • Pipes and duct tape
  • Joint packing
  • Construction felts
  • Siding panels
  • Insulting cements
  • Textured paints
  • Roof shingles
  • Ceiling and floor tiles

Breathing airborne asbestos can result in many serious and fatal lung diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and pleural plaques. The 2018 International Journal of Epidemiology found that former construction workers are at least five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than the general population.

Most asbestos materials only become dangerous when they are disturbed by cutting, drilling, sanding, etc. Tiny fibers are then released into the air and can cause serious health issues for anyone who inhales or swallows them.

How to Identify Asbestos

If a structure was built between 1930 and 1977, there’s a chance it contains asbestos. From 1930 to 1950, asbestos insulation was very common, and from 1920 to 1990, insulation called vermiculite, which contains asbestos, was frequently used.

There were a few products that were marked as containing asbestos, but very few.  It’s nearly impossible to identify asbestos just by looking at it. The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to send samples to a lab to test.

If you suspect the presence of asbestos in a structure that you are about to work on, your best course of action is to limit access to the area and contact a trained and accredited asbestos professional.

If you discover asbestos in a structure, you are required to follow federal, state, and local regulations for the safe removal, collection, transportation, and disposal of Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM), and failure to do so can result in criminal charges or daily civil penalties as high as $25,000 for each violation.

Removal and Disposal of Asbestos

OSHA provides many resources about asbestos to help ensure that it is removed safely and that regulations are followed. In Pennsylvania, anyone handling or removing ACM must be certified, and certain federal, state, and local government agencies must be notified before starting an abatement project.

Typical removal procedures include the following:

  • Constructing a barrier to limit exposure of materials
  • Applying water to reduce dust
  • Using proper PPE
  • Providing a place for workers to wet down
  • Placing materials removed in two layers of labeled, rip-proof bags

Asbestos can be disposed of in several ways:

  • In specialized landfills that deals with toxic and hazardous materials
  • Incineration
  • A chemical bath

There are plenty of apparent hazards on job sites; don’t miss the not-so-obvious danger of asbestos. If your construction company renovates properties built before the 2000s, it’s in the best interest of your employees and your bottom-line to have someone who is certified in asbestos abatement test and remove any ACM that is present.

Want to Save More on your Contractor Insurance and Workers Comp Insurance?

As independent agents, the American Insuring Group team will check with several companies to make sure you get the best price on all of your commercial insurance needs. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp costs, Contractor Safety Management, Safety Programs

Understand Electrical Hazards to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 27, 2019

Electrical_Safety_Lower_Insurance_300Construction sites are among the most dangerous work sites in the U.S., which is why Contractor Insurance costs – Workers’ Comp Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, etc. - tend to be higher than other industries. The good news is that creating safer work sites and reducing injuries can lower your insurance costs.

Electrocution is one of OSHA’s Fatal Four – the four types of accidents that were responsible for more than half of the construction workers’ deaths in 2017. Working with or around electricity can kill you, and construction work sites present many electrical hazards.

Most electricians are aware of the dangers electricity can pose and how to avoid injury from those dangers, but anyone on a construction site can be exposed to electrical hazards and should understand how to recognize those hazards and how to avoid them.

All construction employees should be thoroughly trained on proper electrical safety.

Here Are Five Common Electrical Hazards at Construction Worksites:

Power Tools

Here are a few Power Safety Tool Tips from OSHA:

  • Don’t carry tools by the cord
  • don’t yank on the cord to disconnect it from the receptacle
  • Keep cords away from heat, oil, and sharp edges
  • Disconnect tools when you aren’t using them, when changing accessories, and before servicing or cleaning them
  • Maintain your tools
  • Follow the Users’ manual

Power Lines

Every year, workers sustain injuries and lose their lives due to electrocutions caused by overhead and underground power lines. Look up for power lines on any job site, especially any time you are framing a building, constructing scaffolding, or painting.

OSHA requires that all objects remain at least ten feet away from any lines operating at 50 kV or less, 15 feet for 200 kV, 20 feet for 350 kV, 25 feet for 500 kV, 30 feet for 650 kV, and 35 feet for 800 kV. If you have no choice but to work closer than ten feet, have the power company de-energize or move the power line.

Buried power lines can be just as dangerous, but unlike overhead power lines, buried power lines aren’t easily identified. Don’t take a chance; call 811 before digging.

Improper Grounding

Improper grounding (Aka earthing) of equipment and circuitry is the most common OSHA electrical violation. Grounding helps stabilize voltage and protect workers (and their equipment) from power surges.

Wet Conditions

Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and increases the risk of electrocution. If a worker touches water that is touching electricity, they can become the electricity’s path to the ground.  Workers should never operate electrical equipment in wet conditions.

Exposed Electrical Parts

There are usually plenty of exposed electrical parts on a construction job site such as electrical cords, temporary lighting, open power distribution units, and detached insulation parts. Contact with any of these can cause injury or even death.

These are just five of the most common electrical hazards on a job site. There are many other hazards that all construction workers should be trained on if you want to keep your workers safe, avoid OSHA fines, and keep your insurance costs down.

Additional Precautions

  • Only certified electricians should install or work on electrical systems such as receptacles, outlets, switches, etc.
  • Proper protective gear should be supplied to workers including insulated and approved head protection when working around overhead wires, face and eye protection to minimize injuries from arc blasts, and hand protection.
  • Training is key to a safe work environment.

What Other Steps Can You Take to Lower Your Contractors Insurance?

If you want to keep your Contractors Insurance rates as low as possible, find an independent agent who specializes in Contractors Insurance to ensure you get the right coverage and is willing to check with several insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price. That’s what you’ll find at American Insuring Group!  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp, Contractor Safety Management, Safety Programs

Valet Service Impacts Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 20, 2019

Restaurant_Insurance_Valet_Parking_300If you’re trying to set your restaurant apart, you may consider offering valet service. This service could make sense if you have limited parking at your restaurant or just want to offer a service that goes above and beyond what is expected.

If you decide that valet service is something that you want to offer your customers, do a little research first to understand your risks and how to protect your restaurant from those risks.

Parking lots and garages may seem like safe places, but it’s that false sense of security that contributes to the fact that one out of every five motor vehicle accidents takes place in a parking lot. Tens of thousands of accidents occur in parking lots and garages every year, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, along with property damage to vehicles and structures, according to the National Safety Council.

The good news is that the right Restaurant Insurance coverage can help protect your restaurant from liability, injuries, and damage these accidents cause.

Valet Service Options and the Risks

If you decide to hire your own drivers, they become your employees, which means your restaurant is held liable for their actions. Therefore, you would want to make sure that your Commercial Liability Insurance for your restaurant covers any incidents.

The advantage of hiring your own drivers is that you have control over who is hired to drive your customers’ vehicles and how they are trained.

Here Are Three Save Driving Tips to Share With Your Drivers:

  1. Slow down – Don’t drive any faster than 5-10 mph unless there are posted speed limits.

  2. Pay Attention – Pay attention to pavement markings and traffic signs. Use extra caution while backing out of a space. Every year, about 300 deaths and 18,000 injuries are caused by drivers backing out of parking spaces and driveways. Watch for pedestrians and other cars, and take advantage of backup cameras available in most cars today.

  3. Don’t Get Distracted – Don’t text while driving or walking in a parking lot or garage.

The second option is hiring a third-party company, which significantly lowers your risk but does take away your control of the hiring and training of drivers. You would still need insurance to protect your property if a driver causes damage.

Restaurant Insurance Options for Valet Service

Here are some types of insurance you may want to consider if you decide to add valet services for your restaurant:

  • Commercial General Liability (CGL)– CGL should cover damage to customers’ cars caused by your driver.
  • Workers Compensation – State laws require most businesses that have employees to have WC Insurance. It pays medical expenses and lost wages incurred if an employee is injured on the job along with legal costs if an employee sues you over the injury.
  • Employee Dishonesty – This insurance covers lost or stolen items in a customers’ vehicle, which is not covered by CGL.
  • Garage Liability Insurance – This is a type of umbrella policy that adds a layer of protection to your General Liability Insurance and helps protect your business from property damage and bodily injury
  • Garage Keepers Coverage – This insurance covers damage to your customers’ vehicles.

As with any insurance policy, there are exclusions and limitations to these types of insurance. For example, if your driver parks and locks the vehicle properly and it is vandalized, broken into, or receives weather-related damage, your insurance would NOT cover it. The vehicle owner’s insurance should cover in that situation.

A Good Insurance Agent Can Help You With All Your Commercial Insurance Needs

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance, including Restaurant Insurance. Plus, as independent agents, we check with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get 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: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

4 Steps to a Speedy Workers’ Comp Insurance Claim

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 13, 2019

workplace_safety_lower_insurance_300Despite all of your best efforts to create a safe work environment, accidents do happen on worksites – whether it’s a restaurant or a construction site or even an office, and you should be prepared.

Knowing what to do when someone injures themselves in the workplace can help ensure that the injured employee gets immediate medical attention and that any Workers’ Comp insurance claims are processed quickly and accurately. You should have a process in place, and all managers and supervisors should be trained in that process.

Here Are Four Steps That Should Be Included in the Process:

Take Care of the Injured Employee

Your employee’s welfare should be your first priority. As soon as an injury occurs, determine the appropriate medical treatment. If it’s a serious injury, call 911 immediately. If it isn’t a serious injury, take the injured employee to a medical care facility.

Some insurance carriers offer a 24/7 injured employee hotline that has registered nurses who can provide medical guidance. If your Workers’ Comp insurance carrier has a hotline, all managers and supervisors should be aware of that number.

Survey the Scene of the Accident

Once the injured employee has received appropriate medical care, survey the scene. If it’s a severe injury, any equipment involved in the incident should be secured, and the area where the incident occurred should be cordoned off with cones or tape until the local police and/or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are finished with their formal investigation.

Even with minor injuries, surveying the scene could reveal what caused the injury. For example, if an employee falls because of a wet floor, that area can be cleaned up to avoid further accidents.

The purpose of an investigation isn’t to lay blame but to determine the root cause of the accident, so it doesn’t happen again. In that same example, if a faulty refrigerator caused that wet floor, the appliance can be fixed to avoid any additional injuries.

Collect Information

A manager or supervisor should then gather details about the incident. Write down the details of the accident – where it happened, how it happened, etc. – and any medical treatment the injured employee received. Also, talk to anyone who witnessed the incident and document what they share and their contact information. 

Complete the Incident Report

Before the details of the injury fade from memory, the incident report should be completed. OSHA requires employers to maintain records of all work-related injuries using its Injury & Illness Record-keeping Forms and to notify OSHA if the injured employee needs to be hospitalized.

Any Workers’ Compensation claims should be filed within 24 hours of the incident. 

If the injury is fairly minor but still prohibits the injured employee from performing his or her regular tasks, you may also need to consider if a transitional or modified job may be appropriate. The longer an employee is out of work, the harder it is to go back and the more it costs you. A return-to-work program can help keep injured employees off of long-term disability and save you money.

You may also want to take a look at your safety program. Did an employee not receive proper training? Was a safety procedure ignored? What can you do to help ensure this type of accident doesn’t happen again?

Want to Save on All Kinds of Commercial Insurance?

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance, including Workers’ Compensation. We can help ensure that you have the right coverage and – as independent agents who can compare costs with several companies – that you get it 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, workers comp insurance, workers comp costs, Return-To-Work Programs

Should Your Company Initiate a Workplace Safety Program?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 06, 2019

Save_Workers_Comp_Insurance_300We often discuss safety and how it can help businesses save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance, but the only way that can happen is with a company-wide culture of safety. Too often, employees ignore the importance of safety and members of upper management don’t understand the benefits of developing a safe work environment.

It takes more than lip-service or a few signs on the wall to develop an effective workplace safety program that results in fewer workplace injuries, fewer WC claims, and lower Workers Comp costs. It takes a plan, commitment, enforcement, and company-wide buy-in, but the effort is worth the results.

Benefits of a Workplace Safety Program

As an insurance company, we focus on the reduced Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs that a safe work environment can bring to a company, but developing, implementing, and enforcing a workplace safety program provides plenty of other advantages and makes good business sense.

According to OSHA, a study of small businesses that registered with the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia found a statistical correlation between workplace safety and health and the survival of a small business. The report found that businesses that failed within one to two years of start-up had an average injury rate of 9.71 while businesses that survived more than five years had an average injury rate of 3.89 in their first year of business.

Here Are a Few of the Other Benefits of a Workplace Safety Program:

  • Lower medical expenses
  • Reduced paid time off
  • Reduced litigation
  • Reduced disaster mitigation
  • Compliance with regulations, laws, and standards
  • Reduced training costs
  • Reduced recruitment and hiring costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved financial performance
  • Positive public image
  • Higher employee satisfaction

Do you need more proof that a safety program is a smart business move? OSHA’s Safety Pays program allows you to assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on your profitability. The program uses your profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales you would need to cover those costs.

How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), there are six critical elements of an effective safety management program:

  1. Management Commitment– From the CEO to the mailroom clerk, everyone within the company needs to understand the importance and benefits of a safe work environment and be willing to do what is needed to create that safe environment.
  2. Employee Involvement – Examples of employee participation include participating in joint labor-management committees, developing safety rules, and reporting hazards.
  3. Worksite Analysis – One of your first steps to creating a safe work environment is to identify potential hazards.
  4. Hazard prevention and control – This means correcting all current and potential hazards, ensuring that all parties understand and follow safe work practices, that appropriate personal protective equipment is provided, and that administrative controls are followed.
  5. Training – All employees and managers should be trained on safety procedures, including potential hazards and how to avoid them, individual responsibilities, OSHA’s requirements, what to do when an injury does occur, etc.
  6. Communication – Consistently communicating with all interested stakeholders is vital to a successful safety program. That communication should be in the form of safety meetings, informal discussions between supervisors and employees, posters and bulletins, newsletters, and a safety suggestion box.

Want to Learn More About Safety in the Workplace?

Check out American Insuring Group’s informative blog. From electrical safety to fire safety and everything in between, you’ll find plenty of resources to help you create a safer workplace. Then give one of our independent Workers’ Compensation Insurance experts a call to save big! Call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Safety Programs

Commercial Liability Insurance for Farmers Market Vendors

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 22, 2019

Liability-Insurance-for-Farmers-Market-Vendors-300As the “buy local food” movement continues to gain traction, the U.S. is experiencing an increase in the number of farmers markets across the country.  According to the Farmers Market Coalition, there were less than 2,000 farmers markets in 1994, which has grown to more than 8,600 markets today.

Many vendors have discovered that farmers markets are an easy and economical way to sell everything from produce and honey to cheeses and meats to prepared foods such as jams and pickled items and much more. As with any business endeavor, being a vendor at a farmers market opens you up to liability issues, so you need to make sure you have the right commercial liability insurance to protect yourself.

Farmers Market Vendor Liability Exposure

The two most common types of liability for farmers market vendors are general liability and product liability. General liability involves risks associated with injuries caused by trips and falls, unsecured tents, etc.

Product liability is associated with the food that you sell. The most common product liability issue is food borne illness, but violations in state health regulations – regardless of whether a consumer is harmed or not – can result in a claim.

The good news is that there is plenty you can do to minimize your liability risks and the costs associated with them. Here's how ...

5 Tips to Protect Your Farmers Market Vendor Business

Safety Training

Knowing how to handle and prepare food safely will help minimize your exposure to product liability, and food safety training for all employees might even lower your insurance premiums. Training should include why cleanliness (of hands, tools, prep space, etc.) is so important, how to prevent food cross-contamination, safe food temperatures (see below), and food allergies.

Keep Produce Clean

If you’re selling produce, it’s essential to make sure it is as clean as possible at all times regardless of where it came from or how it was grown (organic, pesticide-free, etc.). Thoroughly clean everything before setting up shop and continue to clean it throughout the day as it is exposed to dust, insects, and people.

Know Your Produce

Consumers are becoming smarter and more particular about the food they’re eating. If you’re selling produce, you should know your product – where it was grown, what (if anything) your produce has been treated with, and whether or not it is organic, pesticide-free, or GMO-free. You’ll need to be able to answer those questions if a consumer asks.

Pay Attention to Temperature

Temperature is one of the most critical elements of food safety. If you want to help ensure the safety of your customers, keep inspectors happy, and keep your insurance costs down, you need to follow food safety temperatures  – during preparation and storage.

The temperature danger zone is between 41 and 135°F. The longer food sits in that temperature range, the higher the risk of bacteria.

Maintain and keep your refrigeration equipment clean, and regularly check to ensure that it is keeping your food properly chilled.

Purchase the Right Insurance

Many farmers markets will require you to have general liability insurance to protect your business and the market. Even if they don’t, it’s a smart business move. Despite all of your best efforts, accidents do happen. Without the proper protection, one lawsuit from someone who trips and falls at your stand or gets sick after eating your food could mean the end of your business.

The farmers market may also require that you add the market and/or the municipality as an “additional insured.” An additional insured enjoys the benefits of the policy you purchase. There may be an extra fee for an “additional insured.”

Want to Ensure You Get the Best Price on Insurance?

Contact one of the experienced agents at the American Insuring Group. Not only do we specialize in Commercial Liability Insurance to ensure that you get the right coverage, but as independent agents, we can compare the cost of that coverage with multiple carriers to ensure you get the best price. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Restaurant Safety

Want Faster Workers Comp Claim Resolution? Don’t Annoy Your Adjuster!

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 15, 2019

Quick-WC-claim-resolution-300Filing a Workers’ Compensation Insurance claim is probably not one of your favorite things to do, but it’s essential when a worker is injured on the job. If you want to make sure the Workers’ Comp claim gets processed as quickly as possible - saving you both time and money - don’t annoy your adjuster.

Adjusters are busy too – juggling 150-200 claims every day - and would like to see your claims processed as quickly and smoothly as possible.  The best way to make that happen is to provide them with what they need in a timely manner to make their job easier and avoid annoying them.

Here are Four Things That Are Frequent Annoyances to Workers’ Compensation Adjusters:

Not completing the Injury Form Correctly

The first step in any WC claim is completing and submitting the injury form. All of the information on that form – social security number, birth date, type of injury, etc. - is relevant to the adjuster and helps them process the claim more quickly. If you leave a field blank, they have to interrupt what they’re doing to contact you for the information.

If you want your claim processed more quickly, gather the information in advance and fill in every field on the form accurately. Make sure names are spelled correctly, the date of the injury is correct, etc. This first report is vitally important, so double check everything before submitting it, and remember if you leave a field blank, someone else could fill it in with information you don’t like.

Not Reporting a Claim Right Away

As soon as an injury occurs, start the process of gathering information to submit the claim as quickly as possible. Submitting a claim days after an injury occurs could force an adjuster to rush through the process and make mistakes. The quicker you can get it in, the more thorough the adjuster’s investigation will be, which results in more accurate and ethical decisions regarding the claim without penalties, leakage, or delays.

Also, adjusters will prioritize claims that include lost wages, so let them know upfront if that applies to your claim. They understand that any delay in the claim is another day of potential wage loss. Providing this information up front allows them to determine if the claim is compensable and get your employee back to work on light-duty as quickly as possible, which helps keep your claim costs down.

Not Knowing the Details of the Injury

Immediately after an injury occurs, begin gathering facts and witness statements to understand exactly what happened. Send all the information you gather to the adjuster and be prepared to answer questions about the incident if they contact you.

Witness statements can be crucial in determining the validity of a claim, and adjusters will compare those statements with the employee’s recount of the incident. If they see any discrepancies, they will research further, which could prevent payment on a false claim; thereby, minimizing leakage and helping to keep your WC costs down.

Not Working With Them

Adjusters are experts regarding the compensability of WC claims. They have been trained and certified to make WC decisions, but you are the expert regarding your employees and the type of work they do. Your input is crucial to ensuring an accurate investigation.

When an adjuster emails or leaves you a voice mail with a question, reply as quickly as possible. Also send anything you receive related to the claim to your adjuster as quickly as possible including bills and medical information.

If you want to save time and money and help ensure your Workers’ Compensation claims are processed as quickly and accurately as possible, keep these four things that annoy WC adjusters in mind.

Want to Learn More About Saving on Workers’ Compensation Costs?

Although Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required for most businesses with employees, that doesn’t mean you can’t get more bang for your buck! Start saving by giving the Workers’ Comp experts at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance Reading PA

National Food Safety Month and Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 08, 2019

food-safety-restaurant-insurance-300As a restaurant owner, your number one priority should be ensuring the safety of the food you serve. Beyond the human element of food safety, foodborne illness can result in negative publicity, huge fines, possible jail time, lawsuits, and higher Restaurant Insurance costs.

In 2016, there were 5,353 cases of food borne illnesses in the U.S. attributed to sit-down dining establishments, 4,139 to fast food restaurants, and 3,116 to catering or banquet facilities.

September is National Food Safety Education Month making it the perfect time to focus on food safety in your restaurant. 

What is a Food borne Illness?

The FDA defines food borne illness as “a common, costly, sometimes life-threatening – yet largely preventable – public health problem.” The two most common food borne pathogens that cause food borne illness are bacteria (Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli) and viruses (norovirus or hepatitis A).

Anyone can get a food borne illness, but pregnant women, young children, and older people have weaker immune systems, which means they are at a higher risk.

Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening illness. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms can include abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, aches, and fatigue.

Tips to Prevent Food Borne Illness

Pay attention to these three areas - Cleanliness, keeping certain foods separated, and cooking and storage temperatures – to prevent food borne illness:

Cleanliness

Eliminate illness-causing germs by keeping everything in your kitchen clean. That includes food, utensils, cutting boards, work surfaces, and your hands.

  • Wash fruits and vegetables, poultry, eggs, or bagged produce marked “pre-washed.” Cut out damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables and rinse under running water (without bleach, soap, or commercial produce washes). Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush fruit and vegetables with a paper towel or clean cloth.
  • Wash all utensils, cutting boards and surfaces after each use with hot, soapy water, and frequently wash dishcloths in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Wash your hands frequently including before, during, and after preparing food, after using the bathroom, and after handling garbage. Use plain soap and water to wash your hands thoroughly, including the backs of your hands, under nails, between fingers, etc. Then rinse and dry with a clean towel.

Keep Certain Foods Separated

Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods while storing and during preparation. Use different plates, utensils, and cutting boards for cooked and raw foods. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and another for produce and other foods that won’t be cooked before consumption.

Pay Attention to Storage and Cooking Temperatures

Bacteria that can cause food illness multiply the quickest between 40°F and 140°F, so keep your refrigerator at to 40°F or below and your freezer to 0°F or below. Put perishable food in the fridge within two hours. Foods exposed to temperatures above 90°F should be refrigerated within one hour. Thaw or marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

Using a food thermometer, cook food to the right internal temperature.

Pay attention to these three areas, and make sure that your staff is adequately trained on food safety to avoid food borne illness. Your customers and your bank account will thank you.

Want to Save More on Restaurant Insurance?

Another way to save on restaurant insurance is to work with an independent agent like the experienced agents at the American Insuring Group who can compare your restaurant insurance costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price on your Restaurant Insurance. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Safety