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5 Benefits of Prompt WC Insurance Claims Reporting

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 25, 2020

Promptly filing your workers comp claims can help lower your WC insurance costs.You’ve purchased the appropriate Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance, as required by Pennsylvania law. That’s a significant first step to protecting your employees and your business, but there’s more to a healthy WC program, including the prompt reporting of injuries and claims.

We understand that you have a lot on your plate and may wear many hats, but not reporting a claim promptly can have a negative impact on your WC program, your business, your injured employee, and your worker's comp insurance costs.

5 Reasons Prompt Reporting of Workplace Injuries and WC Claims is Crucial to Your Business

Preserve Evidence

When an injury occurs, it’s essential that the injury is investigated as quickly as possible, or you could risk losing crucial evidence. Therefore, as soon as an injury occurs, someone should document details of the injury, investigate to try to determine how the injury occurred, interview the employee and any witnesses, and of course, ensure that the injured employee receives appropriate medical attention.

Lower Cost of Claims

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) found that the median cost of WC insurance claims that were reported between one day and two weeks were “significantly lower,” and the cost rose as the time it took to report a claim rose. The bottom line is that delayed reporting can increase WC claim costs up to 51%.

Better Medical treatment

When an injured employee receives prompt medical treatment from competent, in-network healthcare providers, they are more likely to receive a proper diagnosis and effective treatment to heal faster.

Plus, even seemingly minor injuries can escalate into more significant issues if they are not immediately looked at by a medical professional.

Quicker Return to Work

The sooner you can get an injured employee back to work safely, the better it is for everyone – the injured employee, co-workers, and your business. Having a return to work program can shorten the length of time an injured worker is out of work by an average of 3.6 weeks, according to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

Health providers who are familiar with treating workers’ compensation injuries will focus on facilitating an early return to work for the injured employee. The sooner the injury is reported, the sooner that process can begin.

Decrease in Litigation

Promptly reporting an injury and keeping in touch with the injured employee throughout the claim process helps reduce employee’s fears and makes them feel as if their employer cares about them and is treating them fairly. According to NCCI research, this all translates to a lower chance of litigation.

Fraud Prevention

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), “Workers’ compensation claimant fraud and medical fraud are significant contributors to our nation’s annual $30 billion insurance fraud problem.”

Prompt reporting of an injury helps ensure 1) the injured worker receives proper medical treatment, 2) the injured worker feels they’ve been treated fairly, and 3) allows a better investigation of the incident. All this helps minimize fraud.

Quicker Closure

The longer a claim remains open, the more resources you have to use. Promptly reporting an employee injury can get an employee back to work and the claim closed more quickly.

Safer Workplace

When an injury is reported and investigated quickly, you are more likely to recognize safety issues, correct them, and ensure the safety of your employees.

One More Step: Lower Workers Compensation Insurance Costs

If you want to learn more about how to get the lowest cost on WC Insurance and other commercial insurance, give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. We shop and compare competing insurance carriers to get you the best rates on quality insurance protection. Call today.

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

9 Tips to Reduce Your Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Oct 17, 2020

Obtain affordable restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Scranton, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Reading and beyond by following these tips.If you want to protect your restaurant, you need the right Restaurant Insurance coverage, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay a higher price for that coverage.

Here are nine smart tips from the independent agents at American Insuring Group to help you lower your insurance costs.

 

Focus on Safety

Having a safety program in place, along with proper safety training and enforcement, will create a safer restaurant and fewer claims, and restaurants with fewer claims are rewarded with lower insurance premiums. Check out our blog for tips to help you create a safer restaurant – from fire prevention to knife safety.

Improve Security

Insurance is all about risk. Lower the risk – whatever that may be fire, injuries, or theft – and you’ll lower your insurance costs. Here are a few security measures to consider:

  • Security alarm systems
  • Access control systems
  • Video surveillance cameras and video monitoring
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Fire sprinkler systems

Hire Wisely

Employees are one of your biggest assets and probably one of your biggest costs, but there are steps you can take to help lower insurance costs related to employees. For example, if an employee is going to drive one of your commercial vehicles, check their driving record before hiring. An employee with a bad driving record will increase your commercial auto insurance costs.

Also, make sure all of your employees are assigned the correct PCRB classification codes. These codes - based on the probability of an employee getting injured on the job - are used to calculate your Workers’ Compensation premium. If an employee is assigned a classification code meant for someone in a more dangerous job, you’ll end up paying more for WC Insurance. On the other hand, you don’t want an employee assigned a classification code for a less dangerous job, or you could find yourself without coverage when you need it.

And finally, make sure that you promptly let your insurance company know if you hire a new employee, or an employee leaves your restaurant.

Pay Upfront

If you’re making payments throughout the year on your insurance instead of paying the full balance upfront, you’re probably paying more than you have to.

Increase Your Deductible

If you increase the amount of your deductible – the amount you need to pay if a claim is made before the insurance company kicks in - you can lower the cost of your premiums. However, you must ensure that you have money set aside to pay that higher deductible if you have to make a claim.

Carry the Right Coverage

You don’t want to have coverage you don’t need, but then again, you don’t want to have gaps in your coverage that end up costing you more when you try to make a claim. The experienced agents at American Insurance Group specialize in Restaurant Insurance, and can help you determine the best coverage for your restaurant at the best price.

Bundle 

Typically, when you buy anything in quantity, you pay less, and the same is true with insurance. You probably need several types of insurance – WC, liability, maybe commercial auto, etc. If you purchase several or all of your policies with one insurance company, you will often pay less.

Review Your Policies Annually

You have a lot on your plate, and insurance is probably not something you want to spend a lot of time on; however, Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said, “change is the only constant in life.”

And that is certainly true in the restaurant industry – you may have purchased a new vehicle, decreased your staff, started serving alcohol or delivering food, or any number of things that could affect your insurance coverage and costs. Therefore, it’s essential to make time to review your policies every year to make sure you have the right coverage at the best rate.

Work With an Independent Agent!

The independent agents at the American Insuring Group will check with many insurance carriers to ensure that you get the best price on quality insurance protection. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, commercial vehicle insuarance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Telecommuting and Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Oct 10, 2020

Telecomuting can impact your workers compensation insurance costs in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lancaster County, Alleghany County, PA and beyond. Here's what you should know.If the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of your employees to work from home, have you considered the ramifications it may have on your Workers’ Compensation Insurance? It may not be high on your radar as you continue to struggle through all the logistics of staff working from home, but it should be.

Workers’ Compensation claims can be complicated enough. If that injury occurs while the employee is at home, it can complicate it even further. The Society for Human Resource Management states, “In general, an employee injury or illness is compensable under workers’ compensation if it arises out of and in the course of employment, regardless of the location the injury occurs.”

Due to 1) a lack of defined case law in this area and 2) the limited ability to investigate incidents that occur at home, telecommuting is creating WC issues for many employers.

Injuries can and do occur while employees are working from home. Therefore, you must do your best to ensure that…

  • Employees have a safe work environment even if they are working from home

  • Both you and your employees understand what is expected of them

  • You respect their rights

  • Employees receive appropriate medical attention if an injury “arises out of and in the course of employment”

  • You have a process in place to properly investigate work injuries that occur at home.

The best way to ensure this and avoid potential WC issues is to create a Telecommuting Policy before something does happen.

A Telecommuting Policy

A Telecommuting Policy forces you to address the potential risks of working from home and lets employees know what is expected of them. Create and implement a written work-at-home contract that is signed by both employee and employer and is strictly enforced.

This contract should do the following:

  • Outline the hours that an employee will be working, including meals and rest periods. Also, include provisions regarding overtime. If the schedule changes, it should be documented via email.

  • Define where the employee will be working, whether that’s his or her home address or another physical location they chose to work from. Define the specific work area(s) within the home or other location and provide training to help them set up a safe workstation. If it is possible, check an employee’s home office to identify potential safety hazards and how to eliminate them.

  • Discourage employees from performing personal activities in their at-home workspace.

  • List what employer-owned equipment – such as laptop computers – the employee can use outside of the workplace.

  • Describe how employees should store and dispose of sensitive information.

  • Include details about how any work-related injury investigations will occur. You need to respect your employee’s privacy, but you also have the right to do an investigation of any work-related injury. Specific language is key. Require the employee to state in writing that they understand that their home-work environment must be safe and that they need to cooperate if a work-related injury occurs. That includes seeking medical treatment if needed, documenting the injury, and allowing the employer access to the workspace during regular business hours.

  • Include a Workers’ Compensation Statement that informs the employee of their protection under WC laws and that they are responsible for reporting all work-related injuries promptly.

Our Experts Will Help You Save on Workers’ Compensation Costs

Ensuring the safety of your employees and having a process to investigate injuries that occur at home can help you save on Workers’ Compensation costs.

Another great way to save is to work with one of the independent insurance agents at the American Insuring Group. We specialize in WC insurance and will compare pricing and coverage among many competing insurance carriers. We research so you can save! 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 costs

3 Hidden Construction Worksite Hazards

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 26, 2020

Lower your workers comp insurance costs in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Allentown and beyond by avoiding these hidden worksite hazards.We often discuss improving worksite safety to lower Contractors Insurance costs. A safer worksite means fewer injuries, which means fewer claims and lower insurance premiums. If there is only one thing contractors do to reduce the cost of insurance (along with many other costs), it's to focus on safety.

OSHA reported that 21.1% of all worker fatalities in the private industry in 2018 were in construction – that's one in five worker deaths. We often focus on safety measures to avoid OSHA's Fatal Four - Falls, Struck-By, Caught-In/Between, and Electrocutions. Many hidden worksite hazards are less visible and often get ignored.

Here are three of those "less visible" hazards:

Complacency

Most workers are aware of the obvious in-your-face hazards on work sites – like working around heavy construction equipment or working at great heights – and will be on high alert when working around those hazards. Unfortunately, it's common for workers to let down their guard when they are not working around the obvious hazards.

Also, when a worker performs a task repeatedly over a long period of time, they can become desensitized to the hazards involved in that task. Think back to the first time you drove a car.

You probably paid attention to your every move. What about now – five, ten, twenty years later? Do you even think about putting your turn signal on or stopping at a stop sign? After many years, it becomes easy to operate on auto-pilot. The same can be true when driving a backhoe or bulldozer or any piece of heavy equipment after a few years.

It's also important to remember that supervisors and employees do not live in a vacuum; they have personal lives that can distract them from their job. They may rush to try to get home in time for their daughter's hockey game. They may be distracted by concerns about a sick parent or financial problems. They may be exhausted after staying up all night with a teething baby.

This is why on-going safety training is vital to your employees' safety. They need to be reminded of hazards and how to avoid them, the importance of staying alert at all times, and the potential consequences of not paying attention and following safety procedures.

An Ever-Changing Workforce

As you move from one project to another, your need for employees probably changes, and you end up with high employee turnover. This high turnover, along with tight deadlines, often leads to little time for safety training.

This results in many employers providing the minimum mandatory safety training. The truth is that to protect your employees properly and keep them safe, you need to go beyond the bare minimum OSHA requirements.

Lack of Communication

Communication is the most effective tool when it comes to workplace safety. Managers must regularly remind employees about potential hazards and the importance of workplace safety. Toolbox talks are an easy way for forepersons and supervisors to supplement regular safety training and to keep safety at the forefront of their workers' minds. These talks should be a supplement to regular training, not a replacement.

 

Lower Your Contractors Insurance Costs the Easy Way!

A safe and healthy workplace helps reduce costs in many ways, including lower turnover, production losses, damage to equipment, and, of course, Contractors Insurance costs. Another way to lower insurance costs is to work with one of the independent agents at the American Insuring Group.

Our experienced agents specialize in Contractors Insurance and will compare the cost and coverage of your insurance among many insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price on solid insurance protection. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

Workers Compensation Basics: What Employers Need to Know

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 26, 2020

The basics on reducing the cost of workers comp insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, and throughout Pennsylvania.One of the most important types of insurance that almost every business needs is Workers' Compensation Insurance (WC). It helps protect both employees and employers when there is a work-related injury or illness. In Pennsylvania, most employers are required by law to carry WC for their employees.

For many employers, WC is one of the most expensive types of insurance they need to carry, which is why working with an insurance agent who has experience with WC – like those at American Insuring Group - is essential to keeping those costs as low as possible.

They say knowledge is power, so here are the basics every employer should understand about Workers' Compensation Insurance.

What is Workers' Compensation?

If a worker is injured in the workplace or becomes ill because of his or her work environment, Workers' Compensation helps cover medical costs and lost wages if the employee is not able to work. It doesn't matter who or what caused the injury – a faulty machine, the employee, a co-worker, etc. - WC will pay those expenses.

In Pennsylvania, WC covers health care expenses (doctor's visits, surgery, etc.), ongoing care (such as physical therapy), illnesses, repetitive injuries (such as carpal tunnel syndrome), partial or total disability payments, permanent injury payments, and death benefits.

WC also benefits the employer by limiting an injured employee's right to sue an employer directly for damages that injury or illness causes.

Who is Required to Carry Workers' Compensation?

The Department of Labor & Industry states, "If you employ workers in Pennsylvania, you must have workers' compensation insurance -- it's the law." This includes both full and part-time employees, even if they are family members.

The only exceptions are If ALL employees fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Federal workers
  • Longshoremen
  • Railroad workers
  • Casual workers
  • Persons working out of their own homes or other premises not under the control of management
  • Agricultural laborers making less than $1200 per calendar year
  • Domestic workers who have not elected to come under the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act
  • Sole proprietors or general partners
  • Those who have been given an exemption by the Department of Labor and Industry due to religious beliefs
  • Executive officers who have been granted exclusion by the Department of Labor and Industry
  • Licensed real estate salespersons or associate real estate brokers affiliated with a licensed real estate broker or a licensed insurance agent affiliated with a licensed insurance agency, under a written agreement, remunerated on a commission-only basis and qualifying as independent contractors for State tax purposes or for Federal tax purposes under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

If a business does not qualify for one of these exceptions, it must carry Workers' Compensation Insurance for its employees. Failure to do so can result in the employer being required to pay back any costs paid by the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund or a work-related injury or illness, including interest, penalties, and fees. An uninsured employer may also face civil and criminal risks that can result in fines and imprisonment.

How Much Does Workers' Compensation Insurance Cost?

How much you pay for WC is based on a formula:

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

An employee's classification code determines the RATE. Those codes are based on the likelihood of that employee being injured on the job. Employees doing more dangerous jobs, such as construction workers, will have a higher rating than someone in a less dangerous job, such as office workers.

A projection of your payroll determines PAYROLL.

Your business's loss history determines the EXPERIENCE MODIFIER compared with the average loss history in your industry. An experience modifier of one is average. A lower number will reflect a better than average loss history, and a higher number will reflect a loss history that is worse than the average. The lower your experience modifier number, the lower your WC rates. 

 

How Can You Lower Workers' Compensation Insurance Costs?

An independent insurance agent who specializes in WC - like those at American Insuring Group – can help ensure you pay the lowest premium possible. By searching among many competing insurance carriers, we obtain the right insurance at the lowest price possible. So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

 

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

3 Food Safety Tips to Reduce Risk and Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 19, 2020

The best restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Erie, Harrisburg, PA and far beyond.Want to lower your Restaurant Insurance costs? Minimize risk. It’s that simple. It may not always be easy, but it’s always that simple.

One way to minimize risk is to take every precaution to ensure the safety of the food you’re serving. One mistake can result in a customer becoming ill, the destruction of your reputation, a health department inspection, a lawsuit, or even shutting your restaurant down, and of course, higher insurance premiums.

According to the CDC, every year, approximately 48 million people get sick, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. The majority of foodborne illnesses are caused by foodborne pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and most of those can be eliminated in a restaurant kitchen with strictly enforced food safety protocols.

According to the Health Care Agency, the top five causes of foodborne illnesses are as follows:

  • Dirty and/or contaminated utensils and equipment
  • Poor employee health and hygiene
  • Improper hot/cold holding temperatures of potentially hazardous food
  • Improper cooking temperatures of food
  • Food from unsafe sources

Here are three tips to minimize most of those risks.

Clean and Sanitize

Perhaps more than any other industry, cleanliness is crucial in the food industry where cross-contamination is always a concern. First, you need to make sure every surface in your kitchen is clean – from cutting boards to stovetops (which also helps avoid fires). Make sure every tool in your kitchen is regularly cleaned and sanitized – from dishes to cooking utensils. And don’t forget those hidden spaces like ovens and refrigerators.

Regularly wipe down surfaces, and make sure that whatever you are using – a sponge, rag, etc. – is actually cleaning the surface and not just moving the dirt around, creating a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Regularly replace disposable items and wash rags daily.

Every food contact surface, utensil, food prep equipment should be washed, rinsed, and sanitized at least once every four hours. Ovens, stoves, grills, and hoods should be thoroughly cleaned every night.

And don’t forget about the role your employees play in keeping your restaurant clean. Train them about the importance of cleanliness and how to maintain a clean restaurant and remind them frequently with posters, signs, and on-going training. Advise them not to come to work when they are sick, and make sure they wash their hands regularly.

The CDC recommends employees wash their hands during these critical times:

  • Before, during, and after preparing any food.
  • After handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Before eating.
  • After touching garbage.
  • After wiping counters or cleaning other surfaces with chemicals.
  • After touching pets, pet food, or pet treats.
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

To properly wash your hands, the CDC recommends following these five steps to prevent the spread of germs:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Pay Attention to Temperatures

When cooking, remember that some meats, like beef or lamb, can be served rare or, in some cases, raw; whereas, pork and chicken must be cooked thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to ensure that food (especially meats) are cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures.

Also, remember to keep food out of the “danger zone” (40°F - 140°F) where bacteria can grow most rapidly. Keep hot food at 140°F or higher and cold food at 40°F or lower. Don’t leave food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.

Bacteria can be reintroduced to food after it is safely cooked, so put leftovers in shallow containers for quick cooling and then refrigerate them at 40°F or lower within two hours.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria or other microorganisms from one person, object, or place to another. Preventing cross-contamination is key to preventing foodborne illness. Keeping everything clean is your first step, but there are other things you can do.

The three main types of cross-contamination are food-to-food, equipment-to-food, and people-to-food. To avoid food-to-food cross-contamination, thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables and keep raw and cooked food stored separately.

Avoid equipment-to-food contamination by making sure all equipment and surfaces are thoroughly washed and use different cutting boards, utensils, and containers for different types of food, such as raw meat and poultry products to avoid cross-contamination. Replace cutting boards when they develop hard-to-clean cuts.

People can also transfer bacteria through their bodies or clothes while preparing or serving food. Remind employees to wash their hands frequently and to keep their hair pulled back or restrained in a hair net.

Protect Your Restaurant with The Right Insurance

Sometimes despite your best efforts, a customer will become ill. The experienced agents at American Insuring Group can make sure you have the right insurance coverage to protect your restaurant against potential lawsuits and, as independent agents, compare pricing among many competing carriers to ensure you get the lowest price for that great coverage.

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

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance Berks County, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

8 Tips to Lower Contractors Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 29, 2020

lower_contractors_insuranceContractors need to carry certain types of Contractors Insurance to protect themselves, their business, and their employees, and many contracts require specific insurance coverages.

But that doesn’t mean you have to pay higher premiums than necessary. There are ways to lower your premium costs without affecting your coverage. Here are eight tips to help you lower your insurance premiums.

Increase Deductibles

If you have financial reserves that would allow you to assume some additional risk, you can increase your deductibles to reduce your premiums. If the difference in the premium is enough to cover the deductibles on one or two claims, it probably makes sense to make the change - IF you have money available to pay the higher deductible in the event of a claim.

Review Your Policy

Over time, things change in your business. You may need to hire an additional employee or let one go. You may purchase a new vehicle or sell an older piece of equipment. Your current insurance should reflect your current circumstances.

Let your insurance know about these changes and review your policy at least once a year to make sure that you have proper coverage AND that you are not paying more than you need to.

Bundle

You probably need more than one type of insurance. For example, Commercial Liability Insurance helps protect you if a third-party sues you (and is a requirement in most contracts); however, Workers’ Compensation protects your employees and your business if an employee is injured on the job (and is required by law). Many insurance carriers will offer a discount if you purchase or combine more than one policy with them.

Lower Your Commercial Auto Insurance

Employees with good driving records who drive your vehicles will help lower your costs. On the other hand, employees with bad driving records will increase your premiums. Before hiring anyone who will be driving any of your commercial vehicles, check their driving record.

Also, consider purchasing less expensive vehicles to lower your Auto Insurance premiums. Sure, a sleek new truck with all the bells and whistles will be fun to drive, but is it worth the additional expense of higher insurance premiums? Maybe it is, but it’s important to factor insurance costs into your buying decisions.

Focus on Safety

Safety should be a priority at any construction site. It’s just good business sense to keep your employees, customers, vendors, etc. safe. Plus, a safer worksite minimizes the number of employees injured on the job, lowering your Workers’ Compensation Insurance. It should also minimize the number of third-party injuries, lowering your Commercial Liability Insurance. Use the safety information, tools, and resources provided by OSHA to help ensure a safer worksite.

Do Good Work

This is another one that makes good business sense but will also help you avoid lawsuits and thereby lower your Contractors Insurance costs.

Pay Attention to the Workers’ Compensation Formula

Your Workers’ Compensation rates are determined by a formula that looks at several factors. Ensure the information being used in that calculation is accurate and that everything is calculated correctly.  

One factor that affects your rate is your employees’ classification codes, which are based on the likelihood of that employee being injured on the job. Make sure that the correct classification codes are given to every employee. For example, an office worker who is less likely to be injured on the job should not have the same classification code as your electrician. If they do, you may be paying more than you need.

Another factor is your business’s loss history, which is reflected in the experience modifier. A modifier of one is average. A lower number will reflect a better than average loss history, and a higher number will reflect a loss history that is worse than the average. A safer worksite should result in fewer claims, thereby lowering your experience modifier and your WC costs.

Go with an Independent Insurance Agent!

An independent agent – like those at American Insuring Group – will compare insurance rates amng several different competing insurance companies to help you get the lowest rate possible. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to discover how we can help you save more on your Contractors Insurance costs!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Small Business Insurance Reading PA, workers comp costs, Contractor Safety Management

How to Handle a Questionable WC Insurance Claim

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 01, 2020

Handle questionable workers compensation insurance claims properly, and reduce your WC costs in Philadelphia , Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Berks County, PA and beyond.Most employers in Pennsylvania are required to carry Workers' Compensation (WC) Insurance to pay medical expenses and lost wages if an employee is injured or develops an illness on the job.

The majority of WC claims are legitimate; however, Workers' Comp fraud is costing businesses billions of dollars every year. WC fraud occurs when employees fake an injury, exaggerate an injury, claim an injury occurred at work when it did not, etc.

If an employer doesn't want to pay more than they have to for WC Insurance, they need to be on the lookout for questionable claims. Here are 4 valuable tips:

Report All Injury Claims

Even if you suspect a claim is not legit, you must report all injury claims to your Workers' Compensation Insurance carrier. Failing to do so could result in hefty penalties.

To do this, complete an injury/illness report. Some employers have their own reporting forms, and others use forms from their WC carrier or state WC agency. You should have every type of workplace accident report form available to avoid legal issues. Fill out the form with the injured employee if possible or deliver the form to the doctor who attended the employee first.

Typical information requested on these forms include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Date of injury
  • Where the injury occurred
  • A description of the injury or illness
  • When the employee became aware of the injury or illness
  • The date the injured employee received AND returned the form

Inspect and Document

You can help any WC investigation by gathering information as soon as an injury occurs while the information is fresh in everyone's minds.  That includes surveying the scene of the accident, collecting information (such as talking to witnesses and writing down the details of the accident), and completing an incident report.

Try to determine the leading cause or causes of the accident and answer (in writing) the following questions:

  • Were company rules and regulations followed?
  • Were there any witnesses?
  • Did something unique happen that caused the accident?
  • Could the accident have been prevented?
  • If it could have been prevented, why wasn't it?
  • Is the risk still there?

As soon as possible, take photographs where the accident happened and any potential causes of the accident. Ask the doctor to document the state of the employee's injuries.

If there are witnesses, get the following information from them:

  • Their name
  • Their address
  • Contact information
  • A summary of what they saw

Let Your Claim Handler Know if You Believe a Claim is Questionable

The claim handler has experience and training in investigating WC claims – both legitimate and false claims, and they have the authority to deny a claim. However, you know more about your employees, your work environment, and the circumstances of an employee's claim than the claim handler.

If you feel a claim is questionable, you must let your claim handler know so that they can conduct a proper investigation.

Continue Communication

Once a claim is filed, the employer must continue to communicate with the carrier. Immediately forward any relevant information, such as medical documentation. Your claim handler may ask for additional information, such as the number of lost workdays, the RTW status, etc. If you want the claim resolved quickly, respond to claim handlers promptly.

 

How to Immediately Lower Workers' Compensation Insurance Costs:

If you want to lower your WC costs, work with an independent insurance agent like the pros at American Insuring Group. We can offer you lots of choices in WC insurance carriers. We'll make sure you get the right coverage at the right price. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, WC Insurance, Workers Compensation Insurance Fraud

5 Outdoor Dangers for Construction Workers and Tips to Avoid Them

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 25, 2020

Lower your risks while working outside and save on contractors insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond!The construction industry is notorious for being filled with potential hazards that cost construction companies billions of dollars in higher Contractor Insurance premiums.  Common hazards include falling from heights, electric shock, scaffolding collapse, etc., but have you ever considered the hazards of working outside.

On a beautiful spring or fall day, working outside seems like a real blessing – definitely better than being stuck inside an office or manufacturing facility. But working outside does pose additional health risks that can cause everything from mild discomfort to severe injuries and even death.

Understanding these dangers and how to prevent them, are essential if you want to keep your workers safe and your expenses down. Here is a list of outdoor hazards that you should be aware of and train your employees to avoid.

Lyme Disease

Hazard:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania has had the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the U.S. since 2011.

"Untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of your body for several months to years after infection, causing arthritis and nervous system problems,” according to the Mayo Clinic.  Plus, ticks can transmit other illnesses, such as babesiosis and Colorado tick fever.

Prevention:

Ticks are most active between April and September. During those months, try to avoid wooded and bushy areas, use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET, and use products that contain permethrin on clothing.

Sun Exposure

Hazard:

One of the best things about regularly working outside is a killer tan. Unfortunately, the same thing that creates that tan can also cause skin cancer.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun,” and “about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.”

Prevention:

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least a 15 SPF before going outside, even on cloudy or cool days, and reapply regularly, especially if you are sweating. Check the SPF’s expiration date. Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible as it acts as a barrier against UV rays.

Insect Stings and Bites

Hazard: 

In Pennsylvania, people working outside need to watch out for stings from insects such as bees, wasps, and hornets, and bites from both venomous and non-venomous spiders. While most insect stings and bites only cause mild discomfort, some can result in a severe allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention and can even cause death.

Prevention:

Try to avoid attracting insects by staying away from strong-smelling products, such as colognes and some soaps, shampoos, and deodorants. Wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible. Try to ignore and not swat at a single flying insect, but if attacked by several stinging insects, run away from them.

Any workers who know they are prone to severe allergic reactions from insect bites or stings should wear medical ID jewelry and carry an epinephrine pen.

Poisonous Plants

Hazard:

If you come in contact with plants, such as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, the urushiol oil from those plants can cause an itchy rash, bumps, or blisters. For some, the rash can be relatively minor, but for others, it can cause severe swelling or trouble breathing or swallowing.

Prevention:

Wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible, learn to identify poisonous plants, clean tools and clothing that may have been exposed to the oil, and immediately wash skin exposed to the oil with soap and water.

Extreme Temperatures

Hazard:

Both heat and cold stress can cause health issues that range from slight discomfort to death. Heat stress disorders include heat exhaustion, heatstroke, heat cramps, heat rash, and fainting.

Several factors contribute to the dangers of cold stress: temperature, wind, dampness, and cold water. Cold stress can occur in mild temperatures that are coupled with rain and/or wind. Cold-related illnesses include hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot.

Prevention:

Reduce heat exposure by ventilating areas of high heat and use cooling fans and personal cooling devices (cooling vests, heat reflective clothing, etc.). Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, drink plenty of liquids, and try to schedule heavy work during cooler parts of the day.

When working in frigid climates, prevent cold stress by wearing at least three layers of clothing. Wear a hat, insulated boots, and insulated gloves.

Lower Contractors Insurance Costs the Easy Way!

Preventing these outdoor dangers can help lower your Contractors Insurance costs. Another way to lower your insurance premiums is to work with one of the independent agents at the American Insuring Group.

We will compare costs and coverages among many insurance providers, and find the best combination of protection and price to meet your needs.  So call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to start saving!

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

Restaurant Safety and Outdoor Dining Tips

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 11, 2020

Outdoor dining tips to help restaurants saver on insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, PA and far beyond.The rules and restrictions put in place by Gov. Tom Wolf, during the COVID-19 pandemic, forced many restaurants to get a little creative. At first, only take-out and curbside pickup were allowed, and then in early June, restaurants were given the okay for outdoor seating.

Many restaurants that hadn't offered outside seating before the pandemic, quickly adapted. And even as we moved into the green phase and some of the restrictions on indoor dining were lifted, many diners continued to feel safer eating outside.

Even without the fear of COVID-19, many people enjoy outdoor dining. Still, restaurants need to remember that outdoor dining presents a few challenges, including risks that could affect the cost of Restaurant Insurance.

Here are tips to ensure the safety of your customers and staff:

Food Safety

Food safety should always be a priority for restaurants, but as the temperatures rise, it becomes even more crucial. According to the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), there is a "Danger Zone" – temperatures 40 to 140 degrees F - where bacteria can grow more rapidly. 

If you are in the "danger zone" (which will often occur with outdoor dining in the summer), don't leave food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, and if temperatures are above 90 degrees, that time goes down to one hour. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees F, or colder and hot foods should be kept at an internal temp of 40 degrees F or higher.

Weather

Bad weather can be just a nuisance or an actual danger to outdoor diners and restaurant staff.

Restaurant managers can keep an eye on the weather and be more prepared for bad weather by uploading a weather app to their phone.

A roof, partial enclosure, or even table umbrellas can help keep diners dry and protected from the hot sun.  Other ways to keep diners cool are fans or mist sprayers. Also, make sure your staff provides cold water to customers on particularly hot days.

As the weather begins to cool, you can extend your outdoor dining time with patio heaters to keep diners warm on chilly fall evenings.

Bugs

Bugs are just a part of summer living, but that doesn't make them any more tolerable when your customers are trying to enjoy their meals al fresco! Consider adding mosquito-repelling plants (such as lemongrass or scented geraniums) or a commercial bug zapper or bug light. Do NOT spray insect repellent around food or customers.

Smoking

According to the PA Department of Health, smoking is not banned for "structures such as a deck or patio that is not enclosed by walls and a ceiling." You should still have a policy in place, especially if you decide to extend the ban to outdoor spaces at your restaurant.

Pets

Americans are obsessed with their pets, and many would love to bring their dogs along with them when they eat outside. While many states (17, according to Michigan State University's Animal Legal and Historical Center) are beginning to allow pets into outdoor areas of restaurants, Pennsylvania is currently not one of them – unless it is a service animal protected under the American with Disabilities Act. The reasons for this restriction given by many experts are health (diseases and parasites), safety (biting), and aesthetics (barking).

Lower Your Restaurant Insurance Costs

Keeping diners and staff safe helps keep the costs of Restaurant Insurance in check. Another way to keep those costs down is to work with an independent agent (like those at American Insuring Group) who can compare the cost of your insurance with several carriers to ensure you get the best price. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Reading PA, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs