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Trucking Insurance Rates and the ELD Mandate

Posted by David Ross on Sun, May 06, 2018

The ELD Mandate impacts insurance rates. We provide affordable truck insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster County, PA and beyond.It’s a little early to know for sure how the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate has affected businesses in the trucking industry, but so far, the response seems to be a mixed bag.

Some say they haven’t seen any changes to their business and some have thrown in the towel and closed up shop saying the mandate is too cost prohibitive.

The compliance deadline for the ELD mandate affects three million drivers and went into effect December 18, 2017. It requires commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) involved in Interstate Commerce, to use an ELD.

 

3 Main Areas of Impact for the Electronic Logging Device Mandate

Based on what we’ve seen so far, it looks as if the three areas that are most likely to see the biggest impact from the new mandate are insurance rates, productivity, and cost.

Insurance Rates

Safety is the driving force behind the mandate imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA). The FMCSA has said, “The electronic logging device (ELD) rule – congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21 – is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.”

The idea is that ELDs (as opposed to the paper and pen method) will capture Hours of Service (HoS) more accurately and ensure that drivers are following safety and compliance standards, which should in turn reduce the number of accidents caused by fatigue. 

According the FreightWaves, driving more than 12 hours since the last main sleep is associated with an 86% increase in crash risk and driving more than five hours without stopping (getting out of the driver’s seat) more than doubles the risk of an accident. The FMCSA estimates that the ELD mandate will prevent about 20 fatalities and 434 injuries caused by driver fatigue every year.

Safer roadways and fewer accidents should produce lower truck insurance premiums. ELDs may also reduce or possibly eliminate lawsuits in which the plaintiff alleges that fatigue due to driving outside the HoS limits is the cause of an accident. Fewer lawsuits should also equal lower insurance premiums.

Plus, some ELDs offer more features and reporting capabilities – such as GPS tracking and engine data reporting – that can be used to improve asset utilization and increase preventative maintenance. Carriers that use these more-advanced devices may be able to use this information to lower their auto insurance premiums. 

Increased Cost Per Truck Annually

Complying with the mandate carries with it some up-front costs. FMCSA estimates that the average annual cost of an ELD is $495 per truck, with a total range of $165 to $832 per truck on an annualized basis. That may not sound like much, but consider a carrier with 10 vehicles that did not have ELDs prior to the mandate. They’re looking at an additional yearly cost of almost $5,000. In an industry with tight margins like the trucking industry, $5,000 every year can have a significant impact.

On the flip side, the FMCSA projects that ELDs will save more than $1.6 billion each year from paperwork savings alone. Add to that expected decreases in maintenance costs, reduced truck downtime, and lower crash rates, and that’s a pretty impressive savings.

Driver Productivity - Up or Down?

This area is the biggest mixed bag. The general mind-set is that automating any process, should save time. ELDs will eliminate the time required to write driver information in a log book. Everything will be done automatically for them.

However, some companies – particularly smaller companies - haven’t been fully complying with HoS restrictions prior to the mandate. With the information now being logged electronically, they’ll have no choice but to follow those restrictions or risk expensive fines. These companies will see a drop in driver productivity.

According to FreightWaves, smaller carriers, which make up 90-97% of trucking companies, will experience a 4-20% decline in productivity.

Another problem some drivers have reported is that many shippers and receivers aren’t ready for the mandate, and long hold times are creating problems for drivers who are spending too much time sitting at the dock.

In a DAT blog asking for feedback from carriers, drivers, freight brokers, and shippers about the new mandate, Marina Andreyreva commented, “ELDs were installed in all my trucks before the ELD mandate. There have been many changes in dispatching. So far, all delivery times have been rescheduled due to long hold times at the shipper. Problems at shippers now heavily reflect on drivers’ hours. This must be addressed in order to operate efficiently for both drivers and company owners. Brokers need to be aware of HOS and understand the law in order to build freight accordingly.”

We Can Help Smooth Your Transition to ELD 

Only time will tell the full impact of this new mandate, but American Insuring Group is here to help smooth the transition for our trucking insurance customers. As a representative of Progressive Insurance, we can offer participation in their SMARTHAUL program.

With the SMARTHAUL program, you have two options:

  • The free use of an ELD
    This includes the monthly subscription/service fees as long as you share your driving data with Progressive. The device would need to be returned if you decide to opt-out or cancel your coverage with Progressive.

  • The compensation program
    If you purchase your own Rand McNally ELD 50 or DC200 and agree to share your driving data with Progressive, you’ll receive $100 for plugging it in and an additional $100 for each quarter that the device stays plugged in – up to $500. You will be responsible for the monthly service fees, but the $500 compensation should cover those costs.

Save Big on Trucking Insurance with American Insuring Group

Call us to save on Truck InsuranceTo learn more about the SMARTHAUL program, or to start saving BIG on trucking insurance, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.  

But don’t wait; the program is only available for a limited time.

Tags: truck insurance, Electronic Logging Devices - ELD, ELD Mandate

5 Tips to Lower your Contractor Insurance Cost

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 29, 2018

Save on Contractor Insurance by following these tipsHaving the protection offered by contractor’s Insurance just makes good business sense. Without it, one nasty lawsuit could put you out of business and your employees out of work. And don’t forget: some state and federal laws require certain types of insurance.

But finding the right contractor’s insurance is a balancing act. You don’t want to pay for more coverage than you need to reasonably protect yourself, your employees, and your business. But then again, you don’t want to find yourself underinsured if something does happen. Remember Goldilocks? You want it "just right".

Using an insurance broker who is familiar with contractors’ needs and risks is the best way to ensure that you have the right amount of coverage at the best possible price.

 

Here are five tips to help minimize your contractor insurance premiums without giving up the protection you need

 

#1) Review Your Policies Regularly

Things change. You may have purchased a new piece of equipment, hired your first employee, or sold a vehicle. You want to make sure that all of your current assets are adequately protected. When you do a review, you should consider the different types of insurance available to contractors and determine if any of them need to be added or deleted from your current policy.

Here are the five insurances you should be familiar with as a contractor:

  • Commercial General Liability (CGL) – Construction is one of the most dangerous industries, making CGL Insurance an essential part of your insurance portfolio. It protects you and your company if someone gets hurt on your property or if you or an employee causes property damage or injury on a job site.

  • Commercial Auto – If you have started using your personal vehicle to drive back and forth to project sites or to transport tools or equipment or if you’ve begun allowing employees to drive your car or truck, personal auto insurance does not provide enough coverage. You may need to add Commercial Auto Insurance.

  • Workers’ Compensation (WC) – If you have employees, you may be required by law to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance. WC is meant to ensure that your employees who are disabled due to a work-related injury are compensated for lost wages and receive the necessary medical treatment. To learn more about WC requirements in Pennsylvania, go to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

  • Inland Marine Insurance (Aka Tools and Equipment Insurance) – What’s more important than your tools of the trade? Inland Marine Insurance is designed to protect your property when it is in transit.

  • Builder’s Risk Insurance - Builders risk insurance is designed to protect your equipment in the event of losses caused by theft and other perils that can occur.

#2) Check your deductibles

Increasing your insurance deductible (the amount you need to pay when you file a claim) is one way to decrease your premiums (what you pay for your insurance coverage). If you have enough money in savings to comfortably cover a higher deductible, this may be a good choice for you. 

But be careful. The purpose of insurance is to protect you financially if something happens – an accident, theft, lawsuit, etc. If you don’t have the financial resources to cover the costs of your deductible, then your insurance policy isn’t providing the financial protection you need and could expose you to risks that affect your business – in the worst case, shutting it down.

#3) Bundle your insurance policies

Bundling is kind of like economies of scale. Sometimes if you purchase more than one insurance policy with the same provider, it can be less expensive per policy. Ask your insurance agent if bundling your policies would save you money.

#4) Know when to make a claim (and when not to)

The fact is that the number of claims you submit can affect your insurance premiums, so sometimes it makes sense to pay for certain losses out of pocket. If making a small claim will increase your insurance premiums, it may be less expensive in the long run to pay the minor loss out of pocket.

#5) Risk Management

If you can determine potential hazards and how to avoid them and implement a risk management plan, you will probably have fewer losses and injuries, which means you’ll have fewer claims. Fewer claims usually mean lower premiums. Plus, there are many intangible benefits in keeping your employees and your equipment safe – higher employee morale, higher productivity, less downtime, etc.

 

Don't Overpay for Contractor Insurance!

Contact us to save on Contractor Insurance. Serving Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, PA and beyond.As an insurance broker, American Insuring Group specializes in contractors insurance. We can ensure that you have insurance required by law, help you determine risks specific to your industry, and create the best insurance bundle to protect your business, all at a great price. Even Goldilocks would find our insurance to be "just right"!

To learn how we can help save you money on any type of commercial insurance coverage, call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Safety Pays! 4 Ways a Safety Program Helps Your Business

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 22, 2018

Safety-Program-BenefitsAre you interested in lowering your workers compensation insurance and related costs? Would you like to improve employee morale, increase production, and reduce absenteeism? Implementing a workplace safety program can do all that and so much more.

It is true that developing a safety program takes time and effort, and it can be difficult to measure the return on investment, but research has shown that it is definitely worthwhile.

$170,000,000,000.00 Per Year!

According to OSHA, “Businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses -- expenditures that come straight out of company profits. But workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent. In today's business environment, these costs can be the difference between operating in the black and running in the red.”

And about that ROI… it’s been estimated that for every dollar invested in injury prevention, businesses will see a $2 to $6 return, according to Safety and Health Magazine. That's an ROI of 100% to 500%!

 

Here are four ways your business can benefit from implementing a safety program

 

#1. Lower Workers’ Compensation Costs

Often, workers compensation (WC) costs are one of the highest insurance costs in a business. It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone.

Three factors go into determining your workers comp insurance premiums: Classification Code, Payroll, and Experience Modification Rate. Classification codes are based on the type of business you’re in and the tasks your employees perform. There is a corresponding WC rate (which varies by state) for each classification code. The more hazards an employee is exposed to, the higher the rate. The amount of payroll a business runs annually also affects your WC premiums. There isn’t much you can do about these first two; they are what they are

But the third factor – your experienced modification rate – is something you have some control over. Every business is given MOD, which is a number that represents its insurance claim history. The average MOD is set at 1.00. If you have few or no history of claims, your MOD can go lower, which means lower premiums. The more claims you have, the higher your MOD goes, and the higher your WC premiums.

So, the best way to reduce your WC insurance premiums is to avoid workplace accidents, and the best way to do that is with an effective safety program.

In Pennsylvania, you can also receive a five percent discount on WC premiums if you have a safety committee that meets the requirements for state certification.

#2. Avoid OSHA Penalties

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stringent workplace safety guidelines that every business is expected to follow. Failing to abide by these rules and regulations can result in expensive fines.

Here is a list of OSHA’s penalties:

  • $12,934 per violation for serious, other than serious, and posting requirements violations
  • $12,934 per day beyond the abatement date for failure to abate
  • $129,336 per violation for willful or repeated violations

In the fiscal year 2017, OSHA reported the most-citied violations were 6,887 violations regarding fall protection, 4,652 violations regarding hazard communication, 3,697 violations regarding scaffolding, and 3,381 violations regarding respiratory protection 

Implementing a safety program specific to your industry and your business that follows OSHA’s guidelines can help you avoid costly fines. OSHA offers many publications on everything from roof tarping safety to preventing workplace violence to help you create a safer work environment and avoid OSHA’s penalties.

#3. Avoid Costly Accidents

Accidents can be costly. You may find yourself paying for an accident investigation, property damage repairs, insurance deductibles, administrative expenses, and recruiting, training and compensating replacement workers.

You may also face the hefty costs involved in a lawsuit. Accidents and lawsuits can also affect your reputation, which can affect sales and your ability to attract skilled employees. Avoiding accidents also can lower your worker's comp insurance premiums. 

#4. Keep Employees Safe

Ensuring a safe work environment for your employees is the right thing to do and just makes good business sense. It should be your number one priority.

Safe work environments improve employee morale and make your place of business an attractive place to work. This usually means more productive employees, better service, a better quality product, and more skilled employees. OSHA estimates that lost productivity from injuries and illnesses cost businesses $60 billion every year.

If you want to see the financial rewards of a safety program, it’s essential to have a written policy in place and make it clear that safety is a priority and that the policies and procedures will be enforced. And you should continually provide safety training and look for ways to improve your safety program.

So, now that you have the facts in front of you, will you be taking the time to develop a workplace safety program?

 

Start Saving on All Your Commercial Insurance Needs

Save-on-Workers-Comp-InsuranceTo learn more ways to save on workers compensation insurance and all your commercial insurance policies, call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

Our independent agents will compare rates and policies among lots of competing insurance providers to get you the right policy at an unbeatable price.

Click or call today!

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

Bar Insurance 101:  Alcohol and Liability

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 15, 2018

Alcohol impairs judgment, and impaired judgment can lead to damage, injuries and even death. In Pennsylvania, if you serve alcohol to a person who causes damage, injury, or death, you may be held liable. And in addition to the costs related to damage and injuries, you may also find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Are You Protected in a Potential Lawsuit Against Your Restaurant Business?

 

Are you properly covered with the right insurance to protect your restaurant, bar or club against a lawsuit?

One nasty lawsuit can significantly affect your bottom line or even put you out of business. While you may not be able to control all of your customers’ actions, there are steps you can take to protect your business such as knowing the laws in your state, knowing how to identify when someone is drunk, and having Liquor Liability Insurance as part of your restaurant insurance policy.

Learn more about restaurant insurance

 

Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Law

Pennsylvania is one of 43 states that has a Dram Shop Law, which means that a business or individual who serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is legally responsible for any injury or damage that person might cause. 

Restaurants, bars, clubs, taverns, or any other business that serves alcohol – whether it’s beer, wine, or spirits could end up paying the bill for damages done by an intoxicated customer.

That means that if you serve alcohol to someone who is “visibly intoxicated” and they get into a fight at your bar, one or both parties can sue you. If you serve someone who is “visibly intoxicated” and they fall and hurt themselves on the way to their car, they can hold you responsible for their injuries. If you serve alcohol to someone who is “visibly intoxicated,” and they cause an accident driving home, you may be held responsible for damage and injury to all parties involved.

The Law Applies to Private Events as Well

Dram Shop law applies not only to businesses that serve alcohol, like bars and restaurants but also to private events and can apply to someone committing other liquor violations, such as serving alcohol after hours or to minors.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Of course, your best bet is just not to serve “visibly intoxicated” customers and avoid the damage or injury before it happens. But sometimes that’s easier said than done.

In Pennsylvania, driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher is illegal, but according to the NHTSA, “… even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability. In 2016, there were 2,017 people killed in alcohol-related crashes where drivers had lower alcohol levels (BACs of .01 to .07 g/dL).” 

AlcoMeters Breathalyzer offers this chart to help estimate how many drinks will impair a person’s judgment. But remember, everyone absorbs and metabolizes alcohol at different rates. Things like weight, sex, medication and even what a person eats can affect their BAC, so the chart is just an estimate. Sometimes you need to use your best judgment.

Here are seven signs that a person may be intoxicated:

  1. Slurred speech
  2. Glassy or bloodshot eyes
  3. Change in behavior
  4. Difficulty finishing a thought or sentence
  5. Stumbling or falling
  6. Impaired fine-motor skills (such as trouble opening their wallet and paying for a drink)
  7. Slow reaction time

Even if you identify someone who is drunk, it isn’t always easy to cut them off. Here are some tips:

  • Tell someone else like a manager or another bartender if you’re cutting someone off.
  • Enlist help from the customers’ friends.
  • Calmly explain your policies and don’t be confrontational.
  • Trust your judgment and stick to your decision.
  • Offer to call them a taxi.
  • If they become belligerent, call security or the police.

But, as you know, all best-laid plans can go awry, and that’s where Liquor Liability can become a safety net.

What is Liquor Liability Insurance?

Liquor Liability Insurance helps protect companies that manufacture, sell, or serve alcohol. It covers damages caused as the result of selling, serving, or furnishing alcoholic beverages and the cost of defending against any lawsuits filed by the intoxicated customer and/or their victim.

It’s important to note that your Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance may not cover when alcohol is involved. Plus, some banks require Liquor Liability Insurance and many states insist on it if you have a liquor license. In Pennsylvania, the Liquor Control Board requires current liquor liability coverage for $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate.

Don't Risk It 

Without Liquor Liability Coverage, you could find yourself responsible for damage and injury costs, legal fees, and civil damages that can ruin your reputation, will most certainly hurt your bottom line, and could potentially put you out of business.


Take No Chances - Get the Right Coverage at a Great Price 

The experienced agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Restaurant Insurance. We can help you get the right insurance to protect your business.

Our independent agents are free to shop the entire insurance market among many competing insurance providers. That means savings for you! Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online to start saving.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Bar Insurance

The Construction Boom and Builders Risk Insurance Rates

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Apr 03, 2018

Tips to lower your builder's risk insurance costs in PAThe construction industry is booming – both new construction and remodeling - and it looks as if that trend will continue. Construction has a 4.5% projected growth rate over the next five years.

In fact, construction is expected to be one of the fastest growing industries into 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Real output in the construction industry is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2020.


This is excellent news if you’re in the business of building or remodeling houses. It translates into big opportunities for builders. Unfortunately, it can also bring higher risk, making now the perfect time to let the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group review your Builders Risk Insurance to make sure you have the right coverage to adequately protect your business.

 

What is Builders Risk Insurance?

Builders Risk Insurance is a type of property insurance unique to the construction industry. It covers structures or building materials during construction. It provides coverage for damage from events such as fire, wind, theft, hail, explosion, lightning, and vandalism. Builders Risk Insurance is typically written for three, six, or twelve month periods, and can be extended (although usually only once) if the project takes longer than anticipated.

This insurance pays for damages up to the coverage limit, which should be based on the total completed value of the structure including not only materials but also labor costs. The best way to determine that value is to look at the construction budget.

Standard Exclusions

Standard exclusions on builders risk insurance include earthquake, employee theft, water damage, weather damage to property in the open, war, government action, contract penalties, voluntary parting, and mechanical breakdown. Another typical exclusion results from faulty design, planning, workmanship, and materials, which can be covered by Professional Liability Insurance.

Here are a few more things that you should know about Builders Risk Insurance:

  • It doesn’t cover the property of others
  • Subcontractors must have their own insurance
  • Tools and equipment are not included
  • Accidents on the job site are not covered
  • Once the building is completed or occupied, the coverage usually ends
  • It doesn’t cover professional liability

Does the Booming Industry Mean Higher Builders Risk Insurance Premiums?

Historically, Builders Risk Insurance has been safe from dramatic increases. Increases tend to be small and incremental. And experts don’t foresee that changing even with the increase in construction projects. However, 2017 was the costliest year ever for weather and climate disasters in the U.S. totaling $306 billion. The U.S. was hit by 16 weather events that caused more than a billion dollars in damage. Previously, 2005 held the record at $215 billion.

Most experts agree that the cost of this damage will only slightly increase builders risk insurance premiums particularly with frame construction and construction in areas that are prone to catastrophes.

How to make Builders Risk Insurance Work for you in this lucrative market

  • Cover Your Entire Project - Many builders purchase builders risk insurance because their lending institution requires it, so they only cover the bare minimum: labor and materials. These are the parts of the project the banks have an interest in, but you need to protect your interests as well, which include overhead and profit.

  • Spell it out with a detailed contract – Make it very clear in the contract who (contractor, owner, designer) is responsible for what if something goes wrong. The American Institute of Architects offers comprehensive contract templates.

  • Don’t be Naïve – Whether your company is big or small, you do face risk, and if you don’t have a lot of cash flow even a small amount of damage can be catastrophic.

  • Hire good subcontractors – Verify that all of your subcontractors have certificates of insurance with adequate limits. You may also want to secure a waiver of subrogation and list subcontractors as additional insured for both operations and completed operations for the project. This way, if there is a lawsuit, the subcontractor’s insurance will defend the contractor.


Contact Us to Review Your Business Insurance Policies 

Now – while business is booming – is the perfect time to review your business insurance policies!

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Contractors Insurance and finding ways to lower your risk while reducing your costs.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. We’ll be happy to review your policy to ensure that you have adequate coverage to protect your business.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Business Insurance, Builders Risk Insurance

5 Ways to Lower Your Workers Comp Pharmacy Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 25, 2018

Tips for reducing your pharmacy costs for workers compensation insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley, PA and more.Often when the topic of reducing workers compensation (WC) insurance costs comes up, pharmaceutical costs are the focus. That’s no surprise when you consider that the “total workers’ comp annual pharmacy spend is approximately $3.6 to $4.1 billion,” according to a CompPharma Survey.

Looking at pharmaceutical costs is a great place to start if you want to control WC spending without sacrificing the quality of medical care your injured workers are receiving.

 

Here are 5 Steps to Help You Save

 

#1. Educate yourself, providers, and patients about pharmaceutical options

For example:

  • Lidocaine gel or cream - an anesthetic that is used to treat irritation, soreness, and itching from certain skin conditions - is about half the cost of Lidoderm – a lidocaine patch.

  • The average cost of Evzio - a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency such as an overdose - is $3,380.69 higher than the combined price of Narcan, Naltrexone, and Naloxone (alternatives to Evzio), according to Express Scripts.

  • Before approving an ADF (Abuse-Deterrent Formulations), which are not typically included in WC formularies, determine if the patient is at risk of abuse and if a more traditional (and often less expensive) opioid may be safe for them.

#2. Use generic instead of brand-name medication whenever possible

On average, the cost of a generic drug is 80 to 85 percent less than its brand name equivalent. According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), “FDA requires generic drugs to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand-name drug. The generic manufacturer must prove its drug is the same (bioequivalent) as the brand-name drug.” According to Express Scripts, prescribers often turn to brand-name medications out of “habit, lack of awareness of available alternatives, or patient requests.”

#3. Avoid physician-dispensed drugs

First, there is the concern that – due to incomplete drug histories and lack of safety checks – physician-dispensed drugs may not be safe for injured workers. Some states have rules in place for pricing and dispensing of physician-dispensed drugs, and, according to Express Scripts, “Physician-dispensed drugs cost $109.19 more than drugs dispensed by pharmacies.”

#4. Stay with in-network pharmacies

Prescriptions that are filled through third-party billers or out of network pharmacies are more expensive because they incur additional costs and do not add any value, according to Express Scripts

#5. Closely review prescriptions for specialty medications

The cost of specialty drugs is less than 1 percent of drugs used by injured workers, but accounted for 5.9% of total spending in 2016, according to Express Scripts.

Opioid Prescriptions: the Most Expensive and Most Utilized Class of Drugs in WC

Express Scripts reports that more than 50 percent of injured workers had an opioid prescription last year and 25 percent used opioids for 30 days or more in 2016. Opioids accounted for 26.6 percent of per-user-per-year (PUPY) spend and 24.3 percent of PUPY utilization among Express Scripts clients.

And it isn’t just the financial cost of opioids that make it a critical topic; it’s also the human cost of the opioid epidemic. The number of overdose deaths involving opioids (both prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled since 1999, and today ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some injured workers are taking a dangerous combination of opioids and other drugs. Opioids should be used based on evidence-based guidelines in acute phases of pain, not for chronic pain. It’s essential that injured workers understand the risks and benefits of opioids.

For more information on the opioid epidemic and the impact on insurance costs, see our infographic.

 

Approved Drugs for Workers Compensation Insurance

Several states have adopted legislation mandating a drug formulary - a list of prescription drugs created by a committee of physicians, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists used by practitioners to identify drugs that offer the greatest overall value – for workers’ compensation. In Pennsylvania, there is a bill in the House requiring drug formulary for WC as of this writing.

 

Call Us for More Information, and to Save on WC Insurance! 

We're a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agency for Workers Compensation Insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, PA and beyond.A little bit of knowledge goes a long way to saving money on your WC Pharmacy spend without risking the health of your injured employees, and since American Insuring Group specializes in workers compensation insurance, we’re a fountain of knowledge.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online. Pick our brains and let us show you how we can help you lower your workers comp insurance costs!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

Truckers: Safe Driving Tips & Truck Insurance Savings

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 18, 2018

Safe truck drivers can save more on trucking insurance. We provide insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh and beyond.If you are one of the 12 million drivers registered to operate a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) in the U.S., you play a big part in keeping our highways safe – even more so than drivers of passenger vehicles.

In 2015, large trucks traveled 279.8 billion miles in the U.S. 11.9% of fatal motor vehicle accidents involved at least one large truck or bus and 7.6% of nonfatal accidents included at least one large truck or bus. The rate for fatal work zone crashes is even higher - 30%.

Taking measures to drive more safely not only makes our roads safer for everyone, but it can also help you save on commercial vehicle insurance.

What Makes Trucks More Dangerous?

The sheer mass and size of a large truck increase the likelihood of more severe damage and injuries than a passenger vehicle. The legal weight limit for a truck is 80,000 pounds (about 40 tons) – without any oversize or overweight permits. The average automobile is about two tons, and a bicycle is .75 tons.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out that a 40-ton eighteen wheeler crashing into a passenger vehicle is probably going to cause a lot more damage than two passenger vehicles crashing into each other. In fact, seven out of ten people killed in vehicle accidents involving large trucks are occupants of the passenger vehicle.

In addition to the impact of a truck’s size, large trucks can also create significantly stronger wind gusts that can push smaller cars around. Taller vehicles like CMVs have a higher center of gravity, which can cause them to roll over more easily. And the higher ground clearance of many commercial vehicles can push or pull smaller cars under them during an accident.

Large trucks also have operating limitations that result in substantial blind spots, less maneuverability, and increased stopping distances.

Blind Spots

Large trucks create huge blind spots for truck drivers that limit visibility that many car drivers aren’t aware of. One study found inadequate surveillance of the truck driver caused 14% of large truck accidents.

These blind spots are located in sections of the lanes on both sides of the truck. The right side is the most dangerous blind spot because it extends further back. Other blind spots include about 30 feet behind the truck – large trucks don’t have rear-view mirrors, so drivers need to rely on side mirrors - and about 20 feet in front of trucks.

It is true that 80% of accidents that involve a truck are caused by the driver of the passenger vehicle – not the truck driver. Practicing defensive driving is the best way to avoid accidents caused by other drivers. That means being vigilant about watching your surroundings. You can do this by keeping your distance, maintaining a safe speed, staying focused and alert, and keeping your eye on the road.

Limited Maneuverability

The size and length of trucks can make taking sharp turns more challenging. When turning right, watch for vehicles on both sides before making the turn to avoid the “right turn squeeze.” Take extra care when turning in tight spaces such as truck stops and work zones.

Work zones are particularly hazardous for truck drivers. There are often lane shifts or uneven road surfaces. You may need to make a quick stop, and you have to watch for moving workers, equipment, and confused car drivers.

So be even more vigilant in work zones. Slow down, leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you, look ahead for changing traffic patterns, be alert to vehicles entering your blind spots, watch for road workers and flag crews, and obey all work zone signs and signals.

Increased Stopping Distance

A truck needs more stopping time than a passenger vehicle especially when it’s carrying a heavy load and when road conditions are slick with snow, ice, or rain. A fully loaded truck traveling at highway speeds needs a distance of almost two football fields to stop – and that’s when the roads are in good condition.

Being aware of the blind spots, limited maneuverability, and increased stopping distances large trucks cause is the first step to safer driving and to protecting your employees and your business. The right commercial truck insurance adds another layer of essential protection.

 

Need Truck Insurance You Can Afford? Contact Us Today 

Give the experienced agents at American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 a call, or contact us online. As insurance brokers, they can compare the prices of several insurance companies to ensure that you’re getting the best protection at the best rate. For more information on truck insurance, click below.

CLICK TO SAVE ON TRUCK INSURANCE

 

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, truck insurance, Trucking Insurance

10 Red Flags For Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 04, 2018

Watch out for these red flags signaling possible workers compensation insurance abuse. It’s your responsibility as an employer, to pay close attention to your workers compensation insurance claims. The majority will be legitimate claims that your employees are entitled to. But even one fraudulent claim can adversely impact your bottom line.

There are important red flags you can watch for to identify possible workers compensation fraud. Here are ten red flags. Seeing just one red flag probably isn’t cause for alarm, but if you see multiple red flags on one workers’ compensation claim, it’s a good idea to bring it to your adjuster’s attention.

Ten Workers Compensation Fraud Red Flags

#1. Questionable Incident Description

An injured employee should be able to describe the incident – what happened, how, and when - with a fair amount of detail and clarity. The details should be consistent and not change as you ask questions or when the employee describes the incident to someone else (doctor, adjuster, employer). If there’s more than one medical report, the details of the event should be the same, and the nature of the injury should be consistent with the type of work the employee performs.

#2. Lack of Witness Corroboration

If the employee usually works around others, there should be a witness, and the witness account of the accident should match the employee’s description of the accident. If the witnesses are all close friends of the employee making a claim or if the employee’s co-workers express uncertainty that the accident occurred, it may be a red flag.

#3. Delayed Reporting

Injured employees usually report their injury immediately – not days or even weeks later.

#4. Disgruntled Employee

Is the employee unhappy with his job or employer? When a workers’ compensation insurance claim is made, check if the employee was recently demoted or passed over for a promotion, if his evaluations are less than stellar and he’s in danger of termination, or if he is scheduled to be laid off. An incident immediately before a strike, plant closing, or end of seasonal employment may be a red flag.

#5. Early Morning Claims

If the employee reports an incident that occurred over the weekend or very early in the morning before the supervisor and other employees have arrived, it could be a red flag.

#6. Inability to reach the injured employee

The employee should provide his address – not a PO Box and not a friend’s address – and you should be able to contact the injured employee. If you find they aren’t home during regular working hours or if you’re always told he’s sleeping or can’t be disturbed, it could be a red flag.

#7. Shaky Finances

If an employee is having financial issues, he may see a workers’ compensation claim as a way out. Find out if the employee has financial problems, is nearing retirement, is in the middle of a divorce, or if they took a lot of time off just before the injury. Check if the spouse is working or receiving any of these payments: workers’ comp benefits, disability, welfare, or unemployment. If the employee asks about a settlement early into the process or applies for social security benefits before the incident occurred, that could be a red flag.

#8. Medical Care

Watch out for subjective injuries - such as soft-tissue and emotional - or injuries that seem to move from one body part to another; frequent changes in physicians or inconsistencies between employee and physicians’ reports; or missed doctors’ appointments or refusal of diagnostic testing. Carefully examine the medical reports to make sure there aren’t any whiteouts, and it doesn’t look like it’s been photocopied multiple times. Most employees don’t have extensive knowledge of the medical or insurance field. If he does, it may be a red flag.

#9. Inconsistent Physically Ability

An injured employee who is out of work on workers’ compensation should not be able to do similar activities to what he was doing at work. So look for evidence that he is performing those activities outside of work such as callused or grimy hands, medical reports that use adjectives like “muscular” or “tanned.”

#10. Over-eager

If the employee is pushy to settle the claim or has an attorney letter of representation dated the day of (or even before) the injury, it could be a red flag.

Final Advice: Don't Assume Insurance Fraud, But ... 

Don’t go into every workers compensation claim assuming there’s fraud. The majority of claims are legitimate. But at the same time, don’t be blind to the red flags that may indicate fraud. If you see multiple red flags, let your adjuster know. It may just help you save on your workers’ compensation costs.

 

Remember the Easy Way to Save on Workers Comp Insurance!

To learn more about workers compensation insurance, call the American Insuring at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

And remember, the easiest way to save on workers comp insurance is to buy it from an independent agent like those at American Insuring Group! We shop competing insurance providers, matching their policies to your needs, and identifying the best value for your particular situation. Get the right coverage at a great price. Call or click today to get started!

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

Construction Insurance 101: Protecting Construction Equipment from Theft

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 25, 2018

Lower Your PA Construction Equipment Insurance Costs With These Important TipsHave you ever arrived at one of your construction sites eager to start the day only to find that a piece of heavy equipment is missing, and a $250,000 lump is forming in your throat?

Theft of building materials, tools, or heavy equipment can set a project back and cost you thousands of dollars, not to mention raising your commercial vehicle insurance rates.

But it isn’t just about the cost of replacing the stolen equipment; it’s also the associated costs of theft such as lost productivity, rental fees, project overrun penalties, and higher insurance premiums.

Construction Equipment Theft Trends 

Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) reports indicate that theft accounts for more than fifty percent of heavy equipment loss and is increasing up to 20 percent each year. Experts estimate that losses (including associated costs) from construction site theft is $1 billion or more each year.

How To Protect Your Construction Site From Theft 

While those statistics are frightening, there are steps you can take to make your site less attractive to would-be thieves, to make it more difficult for them, and to help reduce theft on your job sites:

Develop and enforce a theft prevention policy
First, you need to assess the job site. Some safety measures apply to any job site, while others are more site-specific. For example, some job sites – such highway projects that move every day - are more difficult to secure than others. All of your managers, employees, and subcontractors should be aware of the consequences of theft and specifically your prevention policy.

Secure your job site 
For some job sites, fencing is your first line of defense. Ideally, fences should be made of a see-through material (so thieves are visible from the outside), at least eight feet high, with barbed wire or razor tape at the top. Since gates tend to be the most vulnerable part of fencing, have only one entrance whenever possible and use high-security padlock that uses a key rather than a combination, which is easily shared with thieves. Keep track of who is assigned a key and where those keys are at all times. Post “Warning: No Trespassing” signs along the perimeter of your worksite. Lighting – which is low-cost, flexible, and can be used with other security devices – around the perimeter directed at the job site is also a key deterrent.

Secure your equipment
Lock up all tools and building materials in storage boxes and cargo trailers with tamper-resistant locks and chains. Securing heavy equipment can be as simple as removing batteries or lowering blades and buckets. You can also add additional security measures such as locks that immobilize controls or keep the wheels from moving, alarms, and fuel and ignition cut-off switches.

Unlikely to Recover Stolen Equipment 

Even with all these measures, determined thieves sometimes find a way especially when you have no choice but to store your equipment in an unprotected and remote location. According to the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), as little as 10 to 15 percent of equipment stolen from work sites is ever recovered. Again, that statistic is frightening, but there are steps you can take to improve the chances of recovering your property.

How to Improve Your Chances of Recovering Stolen Equipment

Keep detailed records of your equipment
Starting in 2000, equipment manufacturers began using a standard worldwide 17-digit product identification number (PIN) system. Engrave this number on all of your equipment so that police can easily identify it if it is recovered. Keep track of all equipment on the worksite including photos, make, model, and PINs.

Register your construction equipment
Register your equipment with a company like the National Equipment Register or the Heavy Equipment Registration to help law enforcement identify and recover your equipment.

Get Protected - Get the Right Insurance
The final theft protection available to you is the right insurance. Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance usually only covers your equipment in the event of damage, not theft. Builders risk insurance is designed to protect your equipment in the event of losses caused by theft and other perils that can occur, and inland marine insurance, also known as tools and equipment insurance, is designed to protect property in transit.

Contact Us for the Best Insurance to Protect Your Construction Equipment

American Insuring Group specializes in all types of commercial insurance and can help determine the best insurance to protect your equipment. Give us a call at (800)947-1270 or (610)775-3848 or contact us online.  Our independent agents are free to shop the insurance market of competing providers, matching up your needs with their policies to find the best fit at the right price. Don't delay, call today to get protected and start saving!

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Construction Equipment Insurance

Teen Employee Safety and Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 18, 2018

It pays to be aware of the workers compensation insurance risks of hiring teen restaurant employees. We serve Philadelphia, Reading, Lancater, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.Doesn’t it seem like kids grow up too fast these days? It’s easy to forget that as mature and as smart as they may seem, teenagers still lack the experience an adult has. And if you own a restaurant, there’s an excellent chance that you employ a few teenagers, which could impact your restaurant workers comp insurance costs if your accident rate increases.  

48% of all working teenagers (ages 15-17) in the U.S. work in the “leisure and hospitality” industry, which includes restaurants and other food service jobs.

This group of employees is particularly vulnerable to workplace injuries. Each year more than 210,000 teens are injured on the job, 70,000 are hospitalized, and 70 are killed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The injury rate for workers under the age of 25 is about two times higher than for older workers, and based on emergency room data, 38% of teens who are injured on the job are working in the leisure and hospitality industry.

Restaurant Industry Insurance Risks

Every workplace has its share of hazards, and restaurants are certainly no exception. Some of the most common dangers in the food industry include slippery floors, hot cooking equipment, and sharp objects like knives and slicers. Often teens are injured because they don’t receive adequate safety training and supervision or they’re working with unsafe equipment, or stressful conditions.

Most workplace injuries are preventable, and many of the same safety measures you take with your more mature employees also apply to teenagers. Proper training and supervision should be your first priorities. 

Reduce Risk With These Teen Safety Meaures 

Here are some safety measures for teens from the Texas Department of Insurance:

  • Train them on the importance of safety and on the manufacturer’s instructions for machine use and cleaning.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment and available machine guarding and enforce the use of that equipment.

When teens operate a microwave oven:

  • Train them on microwave safety, such as 1) following manufacturer’s instructions, 2) covering foods to avoid splattering, 3) opening tightly covered containers away from their face, 4) preventing the use of metals, foil, or whole eggs in a microwave, and 5) keeping the interior clean to avoid splattering and popping.
  • Place the microwave at approximately waist level and within easy reach.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment such as hot pads.
  • Make sure door seals are in excellent condition and free from food or grease buildup.

When teens use steamers/pressure cookers:

  • Train them to shut off the steam supply and wait for the pressure to equalize before opening the lid of the pressure cooker and to stand to the side and open the pressure cooker away from themselves, keeping the open lid between them and the pressure cooker.

When teens use coffee makers:

  • Train them to check to make sure the coffee filter is in place before making coffee and that the coffee has stopped dripping before removing the filter.
  • Place hot coffee makers away from the edge of counters.

 

Comply With Child Labor Regulations

Also, you should be aware of child labor rules and regulations set by the Department of Labor and your state. There are restrictions on the hours a teen can work and restrictions that prohibit teens from using or cleaning specific equipment. Once you know the rules and regulations that apply to teens, take steps to implement safe work practices, such as labeling the equipment that teenagers are not permitted to use.

It’s your responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all of your employees, particularly teens who are more vulnerable to workplace injuries, and avoiding workplace injuries can increase production, improve employee morale, and lower insurance premiums.

Protect Your Business - Contact American Insuring Group

To learn more about saving on workers compensation insurance, restaurant insurance, or any type of coverage for your business, contact American Insuring Group online or call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848. Our independent insurance agents are sure to find you the right insurance at the best price. Don't take chances with your business - contact us today.

 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Restaurant Insurance, Bar Insurance, Teen Insurance