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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 Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Business Insurance

Safer Kitchens = Lower Restaurant Insurance Costs. Here's How.

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 09, 2018

For more information on steps you can take to lower your PA restaurant insurance costs in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lancaster, Allentown and beyond, contact us.Restaurant kitchens are notorious for having open flames, sharp equipment, fast-paced work environments, tight spaces, and many other safety risks.

If you can make your restaurant a safer place for your employees, you'll create happier and more productive employees and lower your restaurant insurance costs at the same time. It's that simple.

But, as we know, simple doesn't always mean easy! 

Here are Five Steps Restaurant Owners Can Take to Improve Safety and Lower Insurance Costs

#1 - Teach Restaurant Safety Procedures

Unfortunately, restaurants often experience high employee turnover so too often new employee training consists of "here's what we serve" and "here's where we keep X, Y, and Z." Just a few minutes of safety training can go a long way to a safer restaurant and fewer injuries, and the more extensive the training, the better results you'll see. New employees should be taught basic food safety practices, common hazards (falls, burns, cuts, etc.) and how to avoid them, and how to safely operate equipment.

#2 - Operate Restaurant Equipment Safely

It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions when it comes to operating restaurant equipment safely. General guidelines for equipment safety include the following:

  • Make sure equipment is turned off before plugging it in or starting it
  • Use safety guards where appropriate
  • Check for frayed cords and loose parts before use
  • Plug appliances directly into an outlet
  • Keep equipment clean between uses

#3 - Practice Fire Prevention

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are approximately 7,410 structure fires in restaurants every year resulting in about three deaths, 110 injuries, and $165 million in property damage. Cooking equipment caused three out of five of those fires. Deep fryers were involved in 21% of those fires and ranges or cooktops were involved in 14% of those fires.

Failure to clean was a factor in 22% of the fires. That's worth repeating… failure to clean was a factor in nearly one-quarter of those fires. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to avoid many fires in a kitchen is to keep your equipment clean. You also want to make sure that kitchen staff stays attentive to cooking dishes. This is where proper safety training comes in.

Employees should know how to put out a grease fire, how to use a fire extinguisher, and how to turn off gas and electrical power in the event of an emergency. An evacuation plan should be posted, and all employees should be familiar with it.

Here are other fire safety guidelines:
• Have multiple fire extinguishers at your restaurant (not just in the kitchen)
• Have exit signs and emergency lights installed
• Install fire suppression systems

#4 - Know the Most Common Injuries in Restaurants

Common injuries in restaurants include burns, cuts and punctures, sprains and strains, and eye injuries. All employees should be trained on how to avoid these injuries and what to do if they occur.

#5 - Provide Safety Equipment

Create a safe working environment with slip-resistant mats, wet floor signs, exhaust fans, thermostats, fire extinguishers, fire and smoke detectors.

Where appropriate provide employees with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and require that they are worn. Examples of PPE include dishwashing gloves, cut-resistant gloves, freezer gloves, oven mitts, aprons, anti-slip shoes, and back support belts.

Creating a safe environment in your restaurant isn't just good for your employees, your customers, and your vendors, it's also good for your bottom line!

Here’s How to Save Even More on Restaurant Insurance

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

Not only does American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance to ensure that your business is adequately protected, but we also compare pricing with competing insurance companies to make sure you get the best price.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

What is Commercial Liability Insurance and Do You Need it?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 02, 2018
Business-Liability-Insurance-2018-Tips-300Every business – no matter how big or how small – faces liability, but do you need general liability insurance? Regardless of how careful you are, accidents can (and do) happen causing damage to property and/or injury to employees, customers, vendors, etc.

And a close cousin to liability is litigation. According to a 2013 poll, 43 percent of small-business owners have reported being threatened with or involved in a civil lawsuit. And the cost of those lawsuits wasn't small. Business owners who have had to pay legal damages, often say the costs nearly put them out of business.

What is Liability?

Liability is defined as "the state of being responsible for something, especially by law." If your business is responsible (or even perceived to be responsible) for an employee slipping, falling, and hurting themselves, your company is liable. If one of your business vehicles causes an accident and damage is caused, your business is liable. And when your business is liable for something it means that it is responsible for paying for injuries, damage, and possibly more.

What is General Liability Insurance?

General Liability insurance – also called Commercial General Business Liability Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, or Business Liability Insurance - pays for your businesses obligations if your business is responsible for an injury, accident, etc. It pays for things like medical costs and the cost of repairs. Liability Insurance also helps cover the cost of your legal defense and any settlements you may be required to pay if you are sued.

At an annual cost of $750-$2,000, Commercial Liability Insurance is a good investment for any business when you consider the alternative. Lawsuits can cost thousands if not millions of dollars, or worse – the loss of your business. The actual cost of your premiums will vary depending on how much coverage you need, the perceived risk of your business (i.e., contractors will pay higher premiums than bookstore owners), and where your business is located (some states are known to award more damages to plaintiffs claiming personal injury).

If your business faces excessive risk, you can choose excess or umbrella insurance, which will increase your coverage limits.

You may be able to save on Liability Insurance by bundling it with other insurance policies into what is known as a Business Owner's Policy (BOP), but liability coverage with a BOP can sometimes be quite low, so make sure that you have enough coverage.

Other Types of Liability Insurance


Sometimes businesses face unique types of liability that aren't generally covered under General Liability Insurance. Here are five different types of Liability Insurance:

Professional Liability Insurance

Also known as Errors & Omissions (E&O) or Professional Indemnity Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance addresses negligence claims due to harm that results from mistakes or failure to perform. This insurance is pretty standard for doctors, lawyers, architects, etc.

Workers' Compensation Insurance

This insurance covers medical costs and lost pay for an employee who is injured on the job. It also helps cover legal fees if the employee sues. WC is required for most businesses that have employees in Pennsylvania.

Product Liability Insurance

If a product that you manufacture causes damage or injury Product Liability Insurance can help pay for repairs, medical costs, and/or litigation fees. 

Automobile Insurance

You may not think of this as liability insurance, but if a vehicle that is owned by your company causes an accident, you are liable for any damage or injuries caused. Automobile Insurance can help cover these costs.

3 Simple Steps to Buying Liability Insurance

• Assess your risks
• Find a reputable licensed independent agent
• Re-assess every year

Our Experienced Independent Agents Can Help!

Tip: Contact us to save on Business Insurance in Berks County, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley PA and beyond!What type of liability insurance and how much coverage you need to protect your business is very unique. But you don't have to go it alone!

The experienced agents at American Insuring Group can help determine the best insurance to fit your needs, and as independent agents, we're able to shop among many competing insurance carriers. We're relentless in seeking the best insurance to meet your specific needs, and to get it at a great price. 

So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

Tags: Small Business Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Business Insurance

How Good is Your Physical Damage Truck Insurance?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 26, 2018
Is your insurance for physical damage to your truck adequate or lacking? Trucking insurance tips for Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh County, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.Buying or leasing a truck is a significant investment, and trucks are the lifeblood of truckers and trucking companies. For many truckers, the loss of their vehicle would mean the loss of their job and their income. For a large trucking company, the loss of a truck may not be as significant, but it would still negatively impact their business. That’s where Physical Damage Truck Insurance comes in.

Imagine: your truck is damaged in a fire. Would you have enough in savings to pay for the repairs needed to get that truck back on the road? What if your truck were totaled in an accident? Would you have enough in savings to replace it? These are things you need to consider, and for most individuals and even businesses, the answer is no, not even close.

So, thank goodness for Physical Damage Insurance, which can help keep you in business even if your truck is damaged.

What is Physical Damage Insurance?

It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Physical Damage Insurance helps cover the cost of repairing or replacing a purchased or leased item – in this case, your truck – in the event of a loss. There are two basic types of Physical Damage Insurance: comprehensive and collision.

Commercial Vehicle Collision Insurance

Collision insurance covers damages and loss to a vehicle that is caused by a collision with another vehicle or object, a roll, or an overturn. If your truck is totaled, collision coverage will pay you the estimated current cash value - less your deductible - to replace it. This type of coverage tends to be the more expensive of the two and has a more significant impact on the cost of your insurance if you experience a loss just because it's more likely to happen.

Comprehensive Truck Insurance

Comprehensive insurance will help you pay for the repair or replacement of your commercial vehicle if the damage is caused by something other than a collision, roll, or overturn. It covers damage caused by fire, theft, hail, vandalism, collisions with animals, etc.

Neither type of insurance will cover general wear and tear such as worn brake pads, blown transmissions, or rusted parts.

The cost of Physical Damage Insurance depends on the type of truck, the goods carried, the number of years' experience a driver has, claims history, your deductible and more.

Other Types of Physical Damage Coverage

A lender or lessor may require you to have Physical Damage insurance, but it may not be enough to cover your needs. Here are other types of Physical Damage coverage you may want to consider:

Fire and Theft with Combined Additional Coverage (CAC)
This type of physical damage coverage is a limited form of Comprehensive insurance designed especially for heavy-duty trucks. It's also known as Limited Comprehensive or Specific Perils Insurance. 

Gap Coverage
Gap coverage pays the difference between the amount of money you still owe on the lease or loan for your commercial vehicle and the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle. The ACV of your truck is the actual market value of the truck. Unlike personal lines of insurance, commercial insurance does not offer replacement value (the amount it would cost you to actually replace the vehicle).

Here's an example: You purchased a new vehicle for $40,000 and then drove it thousands of miles for a year or two. At this point, your vehicle has an ACV of $30,000. But what if you still owe $35,000 on your loan? Gap insurance will cover that $5,000 gap (minus your deductible).

Endorsements

  • Insurance endorsements – Aka riders - are additions to existing insurance policies that change a policy's coverage to help fill holes in the basic coverage. Some endorsements available with commercial Physical Damage Insurance include the following:
  • Coverage for your personal belongings
  • Coverage for electronic equipment
  • Payment for a rental truck while your vehicle is being repaired
  • A single deductible for both truck and trailer
  • Increased towing limits
  • Roadside assistance

Get a Great Deal on Truck Insurance

Get a great deal on commercial trucking insurance.At American Insuring Group, we carefully analyze your needs and the risks associated with your trucking business. Then, we compare the cost of that coverage among many competing insurance companies to make certain that you receive a great deal. The result: quality insurance coverage for your needs at the best price.

Call American Insuring Group at (610) 775-3848 or (800) 947-1270 to speak with one of our trucking insurance specialists or contact us online.

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, truck insurance, Trucking Insurance, Physical Damage Truck Insurance

A Crash Course on Business Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 19, 2018

Business insurance comes in many types. Contact us for the best business insurance at a great price.Whether you’re the owner of a one-person home-based handcrafted jewelry business or a large manufacturing plant with 300 employees, you face risk every day. You could lose your entire inventory to a fire, cause an injury while driving to a client meeting, or face a lawsuit for any number of reasons.

It is true that larger companies usually face more risk, but smaller companies typically don’t have the resources to recover from an injury, damage, or loss. One nasty lawsuit can put a small company that doesn’t have the proper protection out of business!

Business insurance acts as a safety net and helps protect your business from unforeseen circumstances such as theft or accidents, but not every company needs every type of insurance. Here’s a crash course in business insurance, but remember that an experienced, independent insurance agent can help determine what risks your business may face and the best insurance to cover those risks.

The Most Common Types of Business Insurance

There are many different types of insurance, and most businesses aren’t prone to every one of the risks these insurances address, but it’s good to know what is available to you.

Commercial Liability Insurance

This is a big one that most businesses need. Liability insurance protects you from lawsuits filed by customers, clients, or anyone else who decides to sue you. The three most common types of commercial liability insurance include general liability, umbrella liability, and errors and omissions liability.

  • General Liability Insurance protects your businesses from lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage.
  • Umbrella Liability Insurance goes above and beyond general liability insurance with broader coverage. Plus, if you’re on the wrong end of a huge lawsuit, umbrella liability picks up when your general liability is tapped out.
  • Errors and Omissions (E&O) Liability Insurance (A.k.a. Professional Liability Insurance) covers you if you’re sued for negligent acts or failure to provide the level of advice or service expected by a customer. Some of the businesses that typically carry this insurance are engineers, lawyers, and consultants.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Personal auto policies are meant to cover individuals and their family members and may contain exclusions for certain types of business activities. If you use any vehicle – car, truck, van, etc. - to conduct business, you’ll want to look into a commercial auto policy to cover both liability and physical damage in the event of an accident.

Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance

WC covers the cost of medical care and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job and litigation fees for businesses that are sued by an injured worker. In Pennsylvania, It is required for most businesses with employees.

Other Types of Business Insurance

Other types of coverage may be specific to a business or an industry. For example, if a company depends on one person to continue operating, they may want to purchase Key Person Insurance to protect them if that person becomes disabled or dies. If a business serves alcohol, they should look at Liquor Liability Insurance because most General Liability Insurance policies don’t cover incidents caused by serving alcohol.

How the Cost of Business Insurance is Determined

Many factors determine your insurance premiums (the amount you pay for insurance). Here are a few:

  • Type of business: If you’re in an industry that is notoriously dangerous like construction you’ll pay more than a shop that sells kitchen gadgets.
  • Age of Business: If you’ve been in business for a while, you may see some of your insurance premiums decrease.
  • Claim History: If your company has a history of making a lot of claims, you’ll probably pay more than one that doesn’t.
  • Your deductible: Usually the higher the deductible (the amount you pay out of pocket when a claim is made), the lower your premiums.

How to Purchase Business Insurance

First, you’ll want to select an agent who is licensed to sell property/casualty insurance. Also, an agent who is familiar with your business is better suited to determine your risks and your insurance needs.

Purchasing business insurance online is probably not a good idea especially if you’re unfamiliar with insurance. Having an agent that you can talk to and ask questions, is well worth any savings you may or may not find online.

 

Are You Ready to Save on Great Insurance For Your Business?

As a broker, American Insuring Group represents several insurance companies, which means that we can compare prices among lots of competing providers, and take advantage of available discounts. The result? You get the best price on your insurance!

For a free business insurance quote, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Business Insurance, Commercial Auto Insurance

Restaurant Workers Comp Insurance: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 12, 2018

Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes from national fast-food chains to family-run diners with a single location. A safe restaurant can lower your workers compensation insurance costs in Allentown, Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond. it’s a mixed bag.

On one hand, the cost of workers comp insurance for servers, cashiers, busboys, dishwashers, and management is lower than average for all occupations. On the other hand, the cost for WC insurance for cooks is above average. 

Most Workers Comp Insurance Claims are Small

Thankfully, most injuries that occur within a restaurant are relatively minor. This translates to lower medical benefits costs, lower temporary total indemnity benefits costs, and infrequent permanent partial disability benefits.

The restaurant industry has a high turnover rate, which often means that safety training is limited, which can lead to more injuries.

Returning to Work

Getting employees back to work quickly and safety after a workplace injury is always a priority of a good workers compensation program. With the restaurant industry, the bad news is that the high number of employees who speak English as a second language can make placement in alternative duty positions challenging; the good news is that there are plenty of modified duties available. Here are just a few examples:

  • A waiter or waitress can fill in as host or hostess.
  • Some injured employees can do side work like setting up the tables or filling water glasses, salt and pepper shakers, ketchup bottles., etc.
  • A dishwasher can ask another employee to carry heavy tubs of dirty dishes so he or she can wash them.

How to Lower Your Workers Compensation Insurance Costs

Workers compensation insurance rates often come down to safety. More injuries mean higher workers comp costs, and of course fewer injuries mean lower insurance costs. It may not be easy, but it is worth it. For every one dollar spent on safety programs, businesses can save $4 to $6 from costs associated with injuries and fatalities, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Here are a few tips to help reduce the number of injuries at your restaurant:

  • Create a safety program for your restaurant and provide safety and first aid training

  • Require that all injuries – no matter how small - be reported so you can identify patterns or potential problems before something big happens

  • Offer employees incentives such as safety awards and other prizes for employees who follow your safety program.

Common Restaurant Injuries

In and out of the kitchen, injuries from falls and disability from repetitive motion injuries occur more frequently in restaurants than in most industries. While most injuries are minor, severe injuries, can and do occur in restaurants, especially in the kitchen. Here are three of the most common injuries in restaurant kitchens according to QSR magazine:

Burns

More than 5,000 restaurant fires are reported in the U.S. every year resulting in about 100 injuries, about $116 million in property damage, and fewer than five deaths. It’s no surprise that FEMA reports cooking as the leading cause of restaurant fires accounting for 64 percent of all restaurant fires. Other causes include unintentional careless actions (4 percent), appliances (4 percent), and other heat (3 percent). Deep-fat fryers are the top cause of burns in restaurant kitchens, according to OSHA.

The National Restaurant Association recommends these burn prevention tips:

  • Use trays, hot pads, oven mitts, or dry waiter’s cloths to help carry and serve hot dishes.

  • Be careful when removing plates from heat lamps and heat strips to avoid contact with hot surfaces.

  • With deep-fat fryers, use the correct grease level, cook at the manufacturers recommended temperatures, and don’t over fill fryer baskets.

  • Because oil and water don’t mix make sure that fryer and fryer baskets are dry after washing and don’t allow excess ice crystals from frozen foods to get into the cooking oil.

  • Keep grill and stove surfaces clean to prevent grease flare-ups.

  • Use proper cooking tools such as tongs to prevent contact with hot surfaces and foods.

Lacerations and Puncture Wounds

Most cooks have had their share of scrapes and small cuts, but serious lacerations and even amputated fingers can happen. Your kitchen staff should be trained on how to use knives properly and sharp tools should always be returned to their proper location when workers are done using them. A knife left on a counter could easily fall on someone’s foot causing injury. When a laceration or puncture wound does occur, immediately treat and disinfect the wound to help prevent infection.

Sprains and Strains

Restaurant workers can suffer from strains if they’re using improper lifting techniques, and reaching for hard-to-reach items can cause injury.

Misplaced or hard-to-reach items can cause worker injury due to overreaching or trips. Restaurant workers can also suffer from strains due to improper lifting. When these injuries occur, analgesic heat rubs, muscle ointments, and aspirin can help reduce pain and maintain productivity.

 

Get a Free Workers Compensation Insurance Quote and Start Saving!

For a free workers comp insurance quote for your restaurant or other business, call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Our dedicated independent agents will carefully shop the market, leaving no stone unturned to help you find great protection at the best price!

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

Prevent Injuries and Save on Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 05, 2018

Prevent Injuries Through Safety, Lower Your Contractor Insurance Costs in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere.We talk a lot about safety on this blog, but the truth is that reducing and preventing the number of injuries in the workplace, is one of the best ways to reduce your workers’ compensation and liability insurance costs. These costs tend to be higher than average in the construction industry due to its dangerous nature, so we’re going to keep talking about safety.

One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to be aware of where and how most accidents occur. Here are the five top events or exposures that lead to injury on construction worksites according to ConstructConnect, along with some tips to avoid them.

The Top 5 Injury Factors on Construction Worksites

#1 - Contact with Objects

Construction sites are filled with heavy equipment and dangerous tools, so it’s no surprise that in 2016, there were 29,160 cases of injuries caused by contact with objects. Being struck by objects or equipment caused the most injuries. Most of those were caused by handheld equipment or objects slipping or being swung by the injured employee. 5,220 accidents were caused by a falling objects or equipment hitting workers.

Injuries also occurred when workers hit an object or a piece of equipment. Some injuries occurred by hitting something stationery such as stepping on an object, but more happened when workers hit a moving object such as a moving part of the machinery.

There were also 3,260 injuries caused by a worker being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects.

Safety Tips:

  • Always wear a hardhat onsite
  • Avoid areas where work is being done overhead
  • Use lanyards or netting to avoid dropping tools or materials to a lower level 

#2 – Slips, Trips and Falls

In 2016, there were 24,700 reported cases of construction workers being injured by slips, trips, or falls. The majority of those injuries were caused by falling to a lower level.

Safety Tips:

  • Provide fall protection for anyone working up high
  • Keep areas where people walk clear
  • Inspect personal arrest systems to make sure that everything is in good working order

#3 – Overexertion

Construction is hard work, so it’s no surprise that in 2016, 21,150 overexertion injuries were reported. These injuries were caused by lifting or lowering objects; pulling, pushing, or turning; holding, carrying, or wielding, and other things like bending, twisting climbing, reaching, etc.

Safety Tips:

  • When lifting an object, bend at your knees and use your legs
  • Wear a back brace when lifting a heavy object
  • Take regular breaks when feeling fatigued or doing something that requires repetitive motion

#4 – Transportation Incidents

U.S. roads can be dangerous. In 2016, 3,470 injuries reported in the construction industry were the result of transportation incidents. This includes vehicle collisions and pedestrians being struck and injured by vehicles in both work zones and off the road – like on construction sites.

Safety Tips:

  • Obey traffic rules when driving
  • Be aware of what’s going on around you
  • Avoid blind spots with mirrors and visual aid devices such as backup alarms and lights
  • Control traffic using barricades and signs to alert drivers of work zones, shifting traffic patterns, etc.
  • Wear proper safety equipment including hard hats, highly visible clothing, steel-toed boots, etc.

#5 - Exposure to Harmful Environments or Substances

In 2016, there were 1,470 injuries caused by exposure to extreme temperatures and 420 injuries caused by exposure to electricity. Electrical injuries can include electrocution, electrical shock, burns, and falls, and low voltage does NOT mean low hazard.

Safety Tips:

  • In hot weather, keep hydrated, try to schedule work during the cooler time of day, bring shade, and keep an eye on each other
  • In frigid weather, provide a heated break area; ensure that workers dress appropriately with layers of loose-fitting, insulated clothing; gradually introduce workers to the cold; know the symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot; and monitor each other
  • Check electrical cords and wires before using
  • Wear personal protection when handling electrical materials

Understanding Leads to Prevention

Understanding your biggest risks for injury and how to prevent them before they happen are your first steps to minimizing injuries in a notoriously dangerous industry. Providing a safe work environment is good for you and your employees. Plus, it provides cost savings on insurance and other costs of workplace injuries such as missed days of work, training new employees, lower employee morale, etc.

 

We'll Help You Save on Every Kind of Commercial Insurance!

To learn more ways to save on contractor insurance, workers comp insurance and all types of commercial insurance, simply call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click to contact us online.

Our independent agents aggressively shop the market to find you the very best deal on quality insurance. Contact us today to start saving in Pennsylvania and beyond!

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

The Truck Driver Shortage and Truck Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 29, 2018

We can lower your PA truck insurance costs. We serve the greater Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie areas. We probably don’t have to tell you that there is a shortage of drivers in the U.S., but have you ever considered how that shortage may affect the cost of your truck insurance premiums?

Bob Costello, the chief economist for the American Trucking Association (ATA) recently reported a 50,000-driver shortage, and if the U.S. economic climate continues to improve, that shortage will likely increase. While autonomous trucks should help ease some of that shortage, it’s going to be a while before they make any real impact.

Why the Trucker Shortage?

An improving economy is increasing retail and industrial demand, thereby growing the need for truck drivers. Earlier this year, the U.S. saw a record high demand for truck freight, which is excellent news, but it also means that the demand for truck drivers will continue to increase.

Hours of Service Rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours-of-Service Rule requires a driver to be off duty for 10 hours after driving for 11 hours, which means that any trip that is 300 miles or more requires the driver to stay overnight somewhere. Understandably, many drivers don’t want to be away from their families five days a week. Those who are willing to do it, usually require higher pay from an industry that has an already tight profit margin.

Aging Workforce

Approximately 46% of the general workforce is over 45 years of age; whereas, according to the American Transportation Research Institute 56% of truck drivers are over 45. This higher age is no surprise because federal law requires that drivers must be at least 21 to get an interstate commercial driver’s license and drive an 18-wheeler. That leaves a three-year gap between high school graduation and turning 21, so these new graduates can’t even consider a career in truck driving unless they’re willing to wait. Congress has talked about lowering the age to 18, but so far nothing has been done.

Solutions to the Trucker Shortage

The shortage of drivers is a huge challenge for most trucking companies. One solution is increasing driver wages, but with high cost of fuel and tight profit margins, many trucking companies are forced to look at other ways to recruit and retain drivers.

How to Lower Your Trucking Insurance Costs

One of the most significant considerations for underwriting trucking insurance is the driver, and the driver shortage makes it more challenging to hire well-qualified drivers, which often translates into more accidents and higher insurance premiums.

Here are three tips to help you keep your trucking insurance rates down:

  1. Consider using FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) to screen new hires. This program gives you information about a commercial driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history. The FMCSA reports that companies that use PSP “lower their crash rate by 8% and driver out-of-service rates by 17%, on average, compared to those that do not use PSP.”
  2. Consider instituting an employee retention program. The longer your employees have been working for you, the lower the risk. A 45-65% driver retention rate is considered a good rate by most trucking insurers.
  3. There are also things you can implement to improve your drivers’ comfort (increasing retention) and their confidence and safety (decreasing crash rates). Here are just a few ideas: Bose seats, automatic transmissions, stabilization systems, and anti-collision systems can help.

Lower Your Truck Insurance Rates With One Simple Step!

American Insuring Group may not be able to solve the truck driver shortage, but we can help you with your insurance needs. As insurance brokers, we compare the coverage and costs of multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the right insurance for your needs at the best possible price.

So give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click here to contact us online.

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, truck insurance, Trucking Insurance

Vocational Rehab Can Reduce Workers Comp Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 22, 2018

Vocational rehabilitation considerations to reduce workers compensation insurance costs in PAIn 1996, Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act was amended, and Act 57 was passed.

These changes were an attempt to address the rising costs of workers’ compensation for employers without affecting the rights of injured employees.

One goal of the amendment and passing of Act 57 was to rehabilitate injured workers and help them get back into the workforce at an economic status similar to what they enjoyed prior to the disability or injury.

This may include vocational rehabilitation (VR) benefits if the injured employee isn’t able to return to the job they held prior to the injury without residual disability or restrictions.

Vocation Rehabilitation Defined

Wikipedia defines vocational rehabilitation as “a process which enables persons with functional, psychological, developmental, cognitive and emotional impairments or health disabilities to overcome barriers to accessing, maintaining or returning to employment or other useful occupation.”

Determining Earning Power and Setting a Rehab Plan

If an employee is eligible for VR, a qualified rehabilitation counselor (QRC) will interview the injured employee to determine his or her earning power. The purpose of the interview is to understand the employee’s injury and need for future medical care or treatment, to discuss work restrictions, and to develop a rehabilitation plan to get the employee back to work as quickly and smoothly as possible.

It is not limited to physical limitations, and its goal is to determine what work the employee is capable of and then place him or her in that type of job.

The goal of the plan is to promote employability and to address things like whether the employee is definitely or likely to be permanently prevented from performing their pre-injury job, whether obtaining employment with the injured employee’s current employer (where he sustained the injury) or another employer is a reasonable outcome, and what additional rehabilitation services they might need.

Rehabilitation services may include job training, physical reconditioning, or job search assistance.

Following the Progress of the Rehab Plan

As with any workers’ compensation claim benefit, it’s important that you as the employer follow the progress of the rehabilitation plan and keep in regular contact with your injured employee and the QRC. Otherwise, the claim can be drawn out and end up costing you more than it has to. Plus, the goal of a rehabilitation plan is to get the injured employee back to work whether it’s with you or another employer.

Here are 3 tools that can improve the chances of getting an employee back to work:

  1. Disability Status Reports
    The QRC will send these to you regularly, and it’s important to read through them to make sure that the employee is making progress. If they aren’t, you may want to consider an independent vocational evaluation.
  2. On-the-job Training Plans
    This is used to develop transferable job skills and should include information about a desired position for the employee, what they will need to qualify for the position, and expected wages.
  3. Written Job Offers
    If you feel that your employee is ready to come back to work, you can write up a job offer that includes the position you’re offering including the tasks and wages.

Getting Back to Work is Good for Everyone

Getting an injured employee back to work as quickly and safely as possible is good for everyone – it keeps the employee active and engaged and helps lower the employer’s costs. Sometimes vocational rehabilitation is required, but as with any workers comp insurance claim, it’s important that you stay on top of it and continue to monitor your employee’s rehabilitation.

 

Contact Us for the Best Workers Compensation Insurance Info and Options

Contact us to save on workers compensation insurance in PATo learn more about all your workers compensation insurance options and costs, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.  We have the info you need to make the best decision.

Best of all, you'll save on the right coverage for your business because our independent agents are free to research and compare policies from competing carriers, and then to select the one that's best for your situation.

So don't delay - contact American Insuring Group today to get started.

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*This blog is a summary of “Beware of Vocational Rehabilitation Costs.”

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Vocational Rehabilitation

Contractor Insurance and Managing Subcontractor Risk

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 15, 2018

Contractor Risk Management is key to managing subcontractor risks. A key factor is to obtain the right Contractor Insurance.Risk management is part of any successful business, and it is especially true in an industry fraught with as many dangers as construction. Accidents that cause injury, damage, or death occur on worksites across the country every day.

Preventing those injuries is your first line of defense. That might include actions like creating and enforcing a safety management program, providing proper safety training, offering protective gear when appropriate, etc.

 

Contractor Insurance is Key to Managing Risk

Unfortunately, accidents can still occur. That’s where contractor's insurance comes in. The right coverage will protect your employees, your customers, and your business.

You probably know all this, but what happens when a subcontractor that you’ve hired is injured or causes an injury or damage? Hiring subcontractors is a prevalent practice in the construction industry because the more people you have working on a job, the more you can get done, right?

We think it’s pretty safe to say that’s true, but subcontractors also add another level of risk, which makes it essential to understand the role contractor insurance plays with subcontractors. Here’s some info that may help.

 

Subcontractor Risk Considerations 

#1 - Employee vs. Subcontractor

With an employee, you are required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, pay unemployment tax on wages, provide workers’ compensation in many cases, etc. The headaches and expenses of an employee can quickly add up.

But with subcontractors, you don’t have to pay the same taxes or provide WC insurance. Therefore, some contractors misclassify employees as subcontractors. Sometimes it’s even done by mistake because there are so many variables that determine whether or not someone is an employee.

Even the IRS admits there is no simple formula to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, and factors which are relevant in one situation may not be applicable in another. “The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination,” according to the IRS

 

Misclassifying an employee as a subcontractor can end up costing you more in fines and penalties than you would have paid if they were classified correctly. This makes it imperative that you make the right classifications. Here are some tips to do that.

Determine the Business Relationship 

First, you need to determine the business relationship that exists between you and the person performing the services including your degree of control over them and their independence. The IRS provides these three categories to provide evidence of that control or independence. 

  • Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
  • Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how the worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
  • Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (e., pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

#2 - Get Subcontractor Insurance

If you have determined that you are dealing with a subcontractor and not an employee, you do not need to worry about workers’ compensation insurance; however, you still face risks. Don’t assume that your contractor’s liability insurance will cover you in the event that a subcontractor’s work causes damage or injury. Damages caused by individuals other than your employees are excluded in many general liability policies.

Your first step is to make sure that all of your subcontractors have their own general liability coverage that is adequate to cover any injuries or damage. Have them to provide a certificate of insurance as proof. The International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) suggests the following minimum general liability insurance limits for subcontractors:

  • $1,000,000 each occurrence (the combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage);
  • $1,000,000 for personal and advertising injury liability;
  • $1,000,000 aggregate on products and completed operations;
  • $2,000,000 general aggregate.

#3 - Get Listed as an Additional Insured 

You should also make sure that your subcontractors include you as an additional insured on their commercial insurance policy to protect you against their negligence.

 

Be Prepared - Contact Us Today! 

Get affordable contractor insurance throughout PA, including Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and beyond.Accidents happen, but the right insurance will help protect your business. For more information about contractor insurance and any time of business insurance you may need, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

You can rest assured that we'll find you affordable contractor insurance at a great price because our independent agents are free to scour the market and to compare policies among lots of competing providers.

Tags: Builders Insurance, Contractor Insurance