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Opioid Addiction Dangers for Construction Workers

Posted by David Ross on Sun, May 19, 2019

Opioid addiction dangers for the construction industry and impact on workers comp insurance costsIt’s difficult to pick up a newspaper these days and not see an article about the opioid epidemic plaguing Americans.

It is a serious issue that is costing businesses millions of dollars every year.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 700,000 people died from a drug overdose from 1999 to 2017, and about 68% of the deaths that occurred in 2017 involved an opioid. The number of deaths caused by opioid overdose – both prescription and illegal – was six times higher than in 1999.

Impact on the Construction Industry 

The construction industry is not immune to this epidemic – in fact, it is hit harder than most. The very nature of the industry makes construction workers more vulnerable to opioid abuse than workers in other occupations. In 2016, 73% of injured construction workerswere prescribed a narcotic painkiller. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, construction workers suffer from substance use disorders at nearly twice the rate of the general population.

7 x More Likely to Die from Opioids?

One study found that construction workers in Ohio were seven times more likely to die from an overdose of opioids than workers in other professions. Another study found that construction workers in Barnstable County in Massachusetts accounted for 25% of all fatal overdoses from the prescription painkillers heroin and fentanyl.  

Higher Workers Comp Insurance Costs

This creates higher workers compensation (WC) losses, and WC insurance costs for construction employees are more than double the average cost for other occupations, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training. Narcotics such as opioids account for 29 percent of prescription costs in workers compensation, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH).

Why is Opioid Addiction Hitting the Construction Industry so Hard?

If you think about it, it is not a surprise that employees in the construction industry have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Here’s why:

  • Construction is a dangerous job prone to injuries like sprains, ligament tears, and pulled muscles, which leads to pain and the prescription of opioids to ease the pain.

  • The average age of construction workers in the U.S. is 41. In Pennsylvania, it’s 44. As we age, our bodies don’t heal as quickly as they did when we were in our 20’s.

  • Most construction workers don’t get paid if they don’t work, so many are willing to do what they need to work through the pain.

  • People in their late 30s and early 40s often have families to support, which means they need to work – whether they’re in pain or not. Medication can help ease the pain and allow them to continue to work and to support their families.

  • NIOSH found that adults over the age of 40 are more likely to use prescription opioids than adults 20 to 39.

  • Repeated opioid usage creates a cycle of abuse. In other words, when an employee is injured he or she may change their gait or how they carry materials, which can lead to a second injury. Research shows that a worker who has pain in three or more areas is more likely to become addicted to painkillers.

  • Prescription opioids are often readily available on construction worksites and shared among workers.

  • The stigma around addiction makes it difficult for workers to admit there is a problem

What Can You do as an Employer?

You can help minimize opioid addiction among your workers: 

  • Improve worksite safety to minimize injuries and the need for opioids.

  • Pay attention to your workers’ compensation medical provider network. Some networks limit opioid refills or prohibit physicians from dispensing narcotics leaving that to pharmacists. Some networks control how prescription drugs are reduced.

  • Educate your employees about how opioids work, their potency, drug interactions, and how they can become addictive.

  • Recognize the signs of addiction such as multiple injuries, doctor shopping, or physicians dispensing medications.

  • Provide a strong return-to-work program for injured employees, so they can return to work without provoking another injury.

  • Provide emotional support to injured employees.

  • Let your employees know treatment options such as counseling and pharmaceutical treatment.

The Human Toll

The human cost of this epidemic is astounding, but the financial loss to construction companies is also a concern. In an industry where workers’ compensation costs are already higher than average, adding in the problems associated with opioid addiction can put a real strain on your bottom line.

 

Cut Your Workers Comp and Contractor Insurance Cost – Contact Us Today!

Want to learn more about saving on your insurance costs? Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

We specialize in construction and contractor insurance and are aware of the unique challenges you face, including the cost of workers compensation insurance. We'll help you save a bundle while obtaining the quality coverage you need to be well protected!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Opioid Epidemic

How to Handle a Catastrophic Workers Compensation Claim

Posted by David Ross on Sun, May 12, 2019

How to handle a major workers compensation insurance claim in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and elsewhere.It’s vital that any worker injury and subsequent workers compensation insurance claim is handled with care to ensure the well-being of the worker and the business. When it comes to more severe injuries and catastrophic claims, the stakes are even higher.

A catastrophic workers comp claim that is mishandled could end up costing millions of dollars. Proper handling ensures the best outcome for the injured employee and his or her family, the employer, and the payers.

The employer’s first step is to ensure that the injured employee receives the right treatment as quickly as possible. There should be a plan in place to handle any workplace injury including catastrophic injuries. The welfare of the injured employee should be paramount at this point.

3 Things to Keep in Mind:

1 - Show Compassion and Build Trust

Any injury can be scary for an injured employee and their family, but a catastrophic injury carries with it many additional fears and stress factors. The injured employee will likely have thoughts about whether or not they’ll be able to work again, how they’ll support their family, and how will the injury affect the rest of their life.

Meanwhile, in addition to worrying about their injured loved one, family members are likely thinking about how they’re going to pay the medical bills, take care of the injured person when they get home, and how they are going to juggle everything – work, kids, etc.

Someone from the company should visit the injured employee in the hospital. This provides a chance to express concern, get and give information, ensure the employee and family understand the process, get a feel for the employee’s attitude, and discover the extent of the injury and the prognosis.

Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they might be going through. It’s essential that you show that you care and that you try to build trust with the employee and his or her family. If you want to have the best outcome and help prevent litigation, show them that you are not the enemy, but that you are working with them toward the same goals.

2 - Determine the Cause of the Accident

It’s always vital to determine the cause of an injury, especially in a severe injury. Did a machine malfunction? Was it a lack of training? Is it a guarding issue? The answer to this question will help determine how the claim is handled.

For example, if the injury was caused by a machine malfunctioning, the employer may seek money through subrogation – pursuing a third-party that caused an insurance loss.

3 - Thoroughly Investigate the Injury

The only way to determine a cause is with a thorough investigation that determines what happened, how, when, where, and why. That includes talking to the injured employee, taking witness statements, reviewing video, and examining the site where the injury occurred.

In the case of a catastrophic workers compensation insurance claim, it’s a good idea to think of the site of the injury as a crime scene. Although crime may not have been committed, it’s essential to preserve the scene to help determine the cause.

All evidence surrounding the accident should be preserved until the investigation is complete. That means roping off the area and keeping employees away. Also, regardless of how gruesome the scene may be, do not attempt to clean it up until the claims adjusters and any other professionals have a chance to examine the area.

The claims adjuster will need to bring in additional experts such as a nurse case manager, medical advisor(s), safety experts, and home health experts.

Bottom Line

Mishandling of any workers’ compensation claim is a problem, and those problems are magnified when it comes to catastrophic claims.

 

Do You Have the Right Workers Comp Insurance Protection?

To learn more about workers compensation insurance, and to make sure you are properly covered, give the experienced independent agents at the American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online. We’ll make sure you’re properly covered, AND we’ll help you get a great price too!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Insurance

8 Practical Insurance Tips for Small Business Owners

Posted by David Ross on Sun, May 05, 2019

Contact Us for Commercial Insurance for Business Owners Wearing Multiple HatsAs a business owner, you wear many hats, and sometimes all of the responsibilities can seem overwhelming.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert on everything – accounting, marketing, insurance, etc. Finding a trusted professional in many of these areas helps ensure the success of your business… not to mention your sanity.

Your commercial insurance protection is one of those areas. It’s something you need to protect your assets, your employees, and your business, and a good insurance agent can guide you through the process.

 

Here are 8 practical insurance tips for small business owners from the experienced agents at American Insuring Group:

1 - Consider What Assets You Need to Protect

Sit down and make a list of all the assets you want to protect. The obvious assets are buildings, computers, vehicles, furniture, and inventory that you own. But other things to consider are things you lease and customer goods that are in your care.

2 - Don’t Forget Intangibles

Sometimes you need to protect things that are less tangible than buildings and furniture such as your income, your reputation, your customers, and your employees. This is where insurances such as workers’ compensation, key person life insurance, and business interruption come into play 

Then there is the area of liability that has the potential to destroy your business if you don’t protect it adequately. We live in a very litigious society, and your liability can be unlimited, so taking the highest limit you can afford is often the best approach.

The risk is different for every business, but here are some types of liability insurance:

  • General liability
  • Builders Risk Insurance for contractors
  • Inland Marine Insurance
  • Errors and Omissions or Professional Liability Insurance
  • Liquor Liability Insurance

3 - Identify your Insurance Responsibilities

Sometimes a third party – such as a client, lender, or landlord - may require that you have certain types of insurance. Ask for any insurance requirements from these individuals in writing.

4 - Understand the Difference between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Value

On paper, assets depreciate, but often the value of an asset to a business doesn’t change, so you need to understand the difference between actual cash value and replacement value.

For example, let’s say you bought a truck for $50,000 to deliver your product. Each year, the value of that truck will depreciate. After five or ten years, that truck would be worth a lot less than $50,000. 

However, if that truck is totaled in an accident five or ten years later, you are going to need to replace it, so you can continue to deliver your product. If you’ve insured the vehicle at the depreciated value, you may not be able to replace it. The value of that truck to your business (getting the product to your customers) is much higher than the depreciated value of the truck.

To avoid this problem, insure your assets for what it would cost you to replace it – replacement cost.

5 - Look for Ways to Save Money without Affecting Coverage

One of the simplest ways to save money on insurance is to increase your deductibles. Just make sure that you have the available cash to pay the higher deductible if you have to make a claim.

Check if you qualify for a business-owners policy, which offers discounts and often includes additional coverage. Ask about an umbrella policy if you think you need higher liability limits.

Work with an independent agent who can check the rates with several different insurance companies rather than being locked into just one. 

6 - Find an Experienced, Professional Insurance Agent

Find an agent that specializes in your industry – such as commercial insurance, truck insurance, and contractors insurance. Look for agents that are willing to talk to you about your concerns and answer your questions.  Look for professional credentials such as CPCU, CIC, or CLU.

7 - Get Everything in Writing

When looking for the best insurance coverage for your business, ask for a written proposal and consider alternatives. Take the time to carefully read your insurance policy looking at conditions, exclusions, and limitations of your policy to ensure that there aren’t any gaps, and ask your agent questions.

8 - Review Your Policy Annually

Things change – you buy a new truck, you sell an asset, etc., so it’s vital that you review your policy regularly to ensure that you continue to have the right coverage at the best price.

 

The Best Tip of All – Let Us Help You Get Properly Covered!

Contact us when buying Commercial InsuranceAs a business owner or manager, you have enough to worry about – employees, sales, and the list goes on.

Turn to the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group to help you navigate the process. We'll work with you to ensure that you have the right coverage at the best price because as independents we’re free to shop competing providers (unlike those single-brand competitors of ours!).

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

Tags: Small Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Is Your Restaurant Sign Insured?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 28, 2019

Insurance for Commercial Signs Including RestaurantsHave you checked your restaurant insurance policy to see if your signage is covered?

What is one of the things almost every restaurant needs to attract new customers – besides great food and friendly service? The answer: a sign! You need to let people know where you are so that they can find you. Signage can even help someone discover your existence when driving by.

But what happens if that sign is damaged? What if a truck knocks it over, it gets vandalized, or it’s struck by lightning? You will need to repair or replace the sign if you want to continue attracting customers. Will your insurance cover the cost of repairing or replacing that sign? The answer: maybe.

You have a lot of things on your plate as a restaurant owner – menus, pricing, advertising, and the list goes on – so it’s easy to forget about some of the seemingly small things. An experienced insurance agent – one who specializes in restaurant insurance – can help make sure you don’t miss any of those “small” things!

Covered or Not?

Getting back to our question and the resulting ambiguous answer – “maybe.” You need to know the definitive answer to that question – “Will your insurance cover the cost of repairing or replacing that sign?” - BEFORE something happens to it.

Each policy is different, and rules can vary from state to state, but generally speaking, if your sign is permanently attached to a building that you own, you can add the value of the sign to the building coverage on your Business Owner’s Policy (BOP).

However, a large number of restaurant owners lease the building for their restaurant rather than own the building. Those business owners need to look at other options.

Tenant’s Betterment and Improvements Insurance

The International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) defines tenant’s betterment and improvements as “permanent additions or changes made to a building by a lessee at his or her own expense that may not legally be removed.” This includes additions or modifications the lessee makes that increase the value of the structure such as upgraded cabling for computers or TVs, lighting fixtures, wall-to-wall carpeting, and signs that are attached to the building.

If these improvements were to be damaged or destroyed and are no longer useable, it would be detrimental to your restaurant.

There is insurance available to cover betterments and improvements. Sometimes the property owner will add it to their commercial property insurance; however, they can also ask that it is excluded from their policy. Therefore, it’s vital that you carefully review your lease to determine who is responsible for covering any damage to the improvements you make.

You may find an insurance company that wants to add your improvements and betterments coverage to your contents coverage. Keep in mind the rate for building coverage is usually lower than it is for content coverage and often broader in the scope of what is covered. 

Insurance for Freestanding Signs 

What if you have a sign for your restaurant that is not attached to the building? In that case, you will need specific protection added to your BOP to cover any damage to the sign. And if you have more than one free-standing sign, each one needs to be listed on your policy along with a specific limit of coverage for each.

We’ll Make Sure You’re Covered for the Big and Little Things!

Sometimes it’s the “little” things that end up costing your restaurant a lot of money. As restaurant insurance specialists, American Insuring Group’s independent agents can make sure you don’t miss any of the “little” things, not to mention the big things as well! We’ll help you get great coverage at a surprisingly affordable rate.

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

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Sign Insurance

3 Heavy Equipment Safety Tips (for Lower Insurance Costs)

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 14, 2019
Heavy Equipment Contractor Insurance Safety TipsImagine trying to complete a major construction project without the use of heavy equipment like cranes and backhoes. You probably can’t. Almost every construction site includes at least a few pieces of heavy equipment to help complete the job.

Heavy equipment is one of the biggest hazards for construction workers and it causes hundreds of injuries and deaths every year, thereby increasing contractor insurance costs and affecting employee productivity and morale.

A Leading Cause of Fatalities

According to the Work Safe Center, “machine-related injuries ranked second after motor vehicle-related injuries among the leading causes of occupational injury fatalities.” Construction workers and heavy equipment operators accounted for 63% of heavy equipment and truck-related deaths. Half the deaths involved backhoes and trucks.

Rollovers accounted for the most deaths for heavy equipment operators. The most significant cause of death for workers on foot and maintenance workers is being struck by heavy equipment or trucks. Being caught in or between was also a common cause of injuries for people working on or near heavy equipment.

3 Tips to Help You Focus on Safety

A focus on worksite safety can help protect your employees, your business, and your bottom line. Here are three heavy equipment safety tips to decrease injuries and deaths and decrease insurance costs.

1 - Training

OSHA requires that anyone operating heavy equipment be thoroughly trained on how to properly and safely operate heavy equipment. This training should be a combination of hands-on and classroom instruction and should include how to identify hazards, safety features on the equipment, load capacity, how to get in and out of equipment safely, and how to safely maneuver the equipment.

And training should be ongoing.

2 - Awareness

Unfortunately, the very prevalence of heavy equipment on job sites often causes workers to become complacent, but it’s crucial that anyone operating or working around heavy equipment be mindful of what is going on around them. That includes overhead power lines (which should be deenergized if possible) and underground sewer, water, gas, and electric.

Heavy equipment operators should be aware of the swing radius of the equipment they’re operating to avoid hitting people and other equipment, especially when working in tight spaces.

Whenever possible, the area where heavy equipment is being used should be cordoned off, and workers should always try to stay away from areas where heavy equipment is being operated. If that isn’t possible, use a spotter and a radio to keep blind spots clear.

3 - Use Equipment Properly

Before operating any heavy equipment, workers should visually inspect the equipment to make sure it is in good operating condition including tires and tracks, fluid levels, hydraulic hoses, buckets, booms, and any attachments. Make sure lights, gauges, horns, and alarms are working, and that arms, buckets, shovels, etc. can fully extend. If the cab rotates, make sure it does so correctly in all directions. Workers should never use equipment that doesn’t operate correctly or appears to be damaged.

Equipment should only be used for the task it was designed for, and operators should be aware of the payload and lift capacity of the equipment and not overwork it.

Workers should know how to enter and exit equipment. Similar to climbing a ladder, operators should not carry anything as they climb onto equipment and should maintain three points of contact. Before entering or exiting equipment, make sure it is completely shut off, the parking brake is engaged, and pressure is released from hydraulic controls. Workers should never enter or exit equipment while it is in operation or while it is moving.

And finally, there is a reason the equipment is equipped with a seatbelt. If a piece of heavy equipment tips or rolls over, the seatbelt could save a life. One of the worst things a worker can do if the equipment begins to tip or rollover is to jump out of it even though that may be their first instinct. Staying inside with your seatbelt on is your safest option.

The Right Insurance – Your Last Line of Defense

Save on PA Contractors Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Berks County and more.Preventing workplace injuries and deaths should always be your first line of defense. Unfortunately, sometimes despite all of your efforts, accidents do happen. That’s where the right insurance can help protect you and your employees!

Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

We’re experts in contractor insurance. We know the risks you face and offer affordable rates on contractor insurance by analyzing the plans and comparing insurance costs from many competing insurance carriers!

The result? You get quality contactor insurance at the best rate possible. Contact us today to learn more!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

5 Factors Impacting Commercial Truck Insurance Cost

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 07, 2019

Truck Insurance Cost Factors in PennsylvaniaTruck drivers face many things they can’t control as they drive from point A to point B delivering their cargo – inclement weather, traffic, road construction, distracted drivers, and the list goes on.

It’s good to know that there is one thing that truck drivers do have some control over, and that is their trucking insurance costs!

Small businesses and owner-operators offering trucking services invest in commercial truck insurance to protect their investment from all those things they can’t control. There are many different types of commercial truck insurance such as trailer interchange insurance, cargo insurance, and more.

The First Step

There are several factors that go into determining your insurance premiums. Each insurance company weighs each of those factors differently. Your first step to controlling your commercial truck insurance premiums is to work with a good insurance agent who specializes in truck insurance, knows what questions to ask, understands your risks, and can compare costs among competing insurance companies in order to keep your costs low.

Here are 5 Factors that Affect the Cost of Your Commercial Truck Insurance, and Ways to Lower Your Premiums:


1- Previous Claims History

If you or your company have a history of high claims rates, there’s a good chance that you’ll make multiple claims in the future. Insurance companies offer lower premiums to companies that have fewer claims.

SOLUTION:
Lower the number of accidents and claims by creating a culture of safety with ongoing safety training and safety programs for your drivers.

2 - Driving Records

Insurance companies will look at the claim history and driving records of all your drivers. If they see drivers with multiple violations or accidents, you will pay higher insurance premiums.

SOLUTION:
Do thorough background checks on anyone you’re considering hiring and provide ongoing safety training for your drivers.

3 – Policy Structure

Chances are you’re going to need more than one policy to protect all of your investments. Purchasing insurance policies from different insurance companies may appear to save you money, but often bundling multiple policies with one company ends up saving you money.

SOLUTION:
Find an independent agency like American Insuring Group who can compare costs with several companies and analyze the results side-by-side to determine the best solution for your needs.

4 - Vehicles

A truck with a higher price tag will also be more expensive to insure. Larger and heavier vehicles may not be as easy to navigate as smaller vehicles, and in an accident are likely to cause more damage, which will also increase your premium payments.

SOLUTION:
Purchase the right vehicle for the job. Don’t buy a larger or more expensive vehicle than what you need.

5 - Driving Locations

Where you drive can affect the probability of having an accident. You’re less likely to have an accident driving along a stretch of country road with little or no traffic than driving a big city street during rush hour. Also, the further you travel, the higher the chance of an accident. The higher risk of an accident, the higher the insurance premiums.

Request an Annual Truck Insurance Review

Keep in mind that there is nothing more constant in life than change, and that applies in the trucking business as well – new drivers, new vehicles, changing claims rates, etc., so it’s vital to schedule an annual review with your insurance agent if you want to ensure that you have the best coverage at the best price.

Ready to Save on Truck Insurance? Call the Experts at American Insuring Group!

Contact us to save on PA Truck InsuranceAmerican Insuring Group specializes in trucking insurance, and we’re independent agents, so we’ll make sure that your commercial vehicle has the best insurance protection at the lowest price (unlike many of our competitors, we’re not locked into one solution).

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

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, truck insurance, Trucking Insurance

How to Prevent Repeated Workers Comp Insurance Claims

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 31, 2019

Prevent repeated workers comp insurance claimsYou often hear horror stories about fraudulent workers compensation insurance claims, but fortunately, most employees that make WC claims are honest, hard-working individuals.

Occasionally, you’ll run across an employee who seems to be a repeat WC claim offender. Some are legitimate claims, and some are not, but repeated WC claims can be annoying, time-consuming, and costly.

Here are steps you can take to determine if workers are trying to take advantage of the system, and ways to stop them from making repeated false claims or from incurring repeated injuries:

 

1 - Don’t Antagonize - Give Injured Employees the Benefit of the Doubt

Your first step is to remember that both you and the injured employee are human, and as humans, we all have emotions and make errors. Injured employees need to be treated with respect, or you may inadvertently antagonize the employee and make matters worse, or you may be dealing with a worker with a legitimate claim.

For example, an employee who is willing to do whatever it takes to get a job done may do things that increase their risk of injury. An employee may be naturally clumsy, or they may not be aware of the right way to get a job done safely.

If you encounter an employee who has multiple WC claims, you need to investigate it, so you know what steps to take to reduce the number of claims. It’s vital that you go into the investigation with an open mind. Start the investigation by giving the injured employee the benefit of the doubt until or unless you find a reason not to.

2 - Investigate the Injury

Investigations are essential with any WC claim but especially with an employee with repeated claims. Gather statements from the employee, supervisor, any witnesses, and the treating physician, so you can understand the extent of the injury and how the injury occurred. If you don’t think the treating physician is being honest or is not providing the best information or treatment, it’s okay to get a second opinion.

You also need to figure out the actual cause of the accident. A cause may seem obvious but upon a more in-depth inspection may prove to be a secondary cause – or not the cause at all. Review studies conducted on similar injuries; look at all potential factors; consider other factors such as previous injuries and comorbid conditions such as obesity, mental health issues, substance abuse, etc.; consider the validity of testimonies; and with all that information, make a conclusion.

3 - Talk to the Injured Worker

As mentioned earlier, injured workers are human and have emotions. Like everyone, some of those emotions are logical, and some are not. Having an open, non-confrontational conversation with the injured employee can reveal things such as personal challenges at home, psychosocial issues, or problems with a supervisor or with your company.

4 - Take Steps to Avoid Future Claims

Once you understand the reasons for the repeated WC claims – whether they’re legitimate or not – you can take steps to avoid future claims. If it turns out they don’t know how to perform their job safely, provide additional training and education. If you determine that they are physically unable to do their job effectively, consider transferring them to another job that they can perform safely.

However, if they’re trying to take advantage of the system, be respectful, but let them know that you will be watching them and will take appropriate action if abuse of the system is found, up to and including termination.

Protecting Your Bottom Line

Repeated workers’ compensation claims affect your bottom line while potentially harming productivity and employee morale.

You know what else affects your bottom line? Paying more than you need to for workers comp insurance!

To get a GREAT deal on your WC insurance, give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online. As independent agents, we’re free to shop and compare rates among competing insurance carriers to make sure that you are getting the best WC insurance at the best possible price!

Call or click today to get started.

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

How to Prevent Fires in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 24, 2019
Follow these tips to prevent restaurant firesOpen flames, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals, and paper products are the perfect ingredients for a fire, and all are found in most restaurants. So, it’s no surprise that fire companies respond to more than 8,000 structure fires at restaurants and bars each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

A fire in your restaurant can cause lost revenues, injuries, death, higher restaurant insurance premiums, lawsuits, and even the end of your business, which is why it’s essential that you and your staff understand fire risks and do everything possible to prevent fires.

The right insurance can help pay for damages caused by a fire, but preventing fires should always be your first line of defense.

The Main Fire Risks in Restaurants

Cooking

It’s no surprise that cooking is the leading cause of restaurant fires, accounting for 64 percent of all restaurant fires according to the US Fire Administration (USFA). When flames get into the kitchen’s ductwork, exhaust systems, vents, and fans – all of which are prone to grease buildup – fire can quickly spread.

Heating and Electrical Malfunction

The deadliest restaurant fire in US history was at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Nevada in 1980. A result of an electrical ground fault, the fire killed 85 people. According to the USFA, seven percent of all restaurant fires are caused by heating and electrical malfunctions.

Unsafe wiring, switches, plugs, or sockets projecting heat onto a flammable or combustible material cause these fires. Often, outdated wiring is not able to handle the voltage used by today’s appliances. Commercial kitchen equipment is certified by NSF International; however, most smaller equipment purchased at retail stores is not certified and can be a hazard when used in commercial kitchens.

Gas leaks and the resulting explosions are often the most devastating fires. Thankfully, this type of occurrence is uncommon but can occur when older or neglected equipment isn’t able to support the flow of gas. Gas is released into the air and can be ignited by turning on an electrical device or lighting a match.

Other Fire Risks

Other causes of restaurant fires include unintentional, careless actions (4 percent), appliances (4 percent), other heat (3 percent), and several other categories, according to the USFA reports.

4 Restaurant Fire Prevention Tips


1 - Employee Training

  • Your workers should be trained in fire prevention methods and the importance of proper cleaning.
  • Workers should know not to use water to try to put out a grease fire because it can cause the grease to splatter and spread the fire.
  • Employees should be trained on how to use a fire extinguisher. The National Restaurant Association suggests using the acronym PAST – pull out the Pin, Aim at the base, make a Sweeping motion, and be Ten feet away.
  • Employees should know how to properly store flammable liquids – kept in original containers or puncture-resistant tightly sealed containers stored in well-ventilated areas.

2 - Regular Maintenance

  • Fire-suppression systems should be professionally inspected twice a year.
  • The pressure gauge on portable fire extinguishers should be checked monthly to be sure that the extinguisher is holding pressure and inspected and certified annually.
  • Electrical equipment should have regular maintenance and regularly checked for frayed cords and cracked or broken switch plates.
  • Exhaust systems should be inspected for grease buildup. In high-volume operations, the NFPA requires quarterly inspections and semi-annual inspections for moderate-volume operations.

3 - Installation of an Automatic Fire-Suppression System

Fire-suppression systems, which are built into stoves or oven hoods, have sensors that can detect a fire and automatically release a chemical to put out a fire and shut down the fuel or electric supply to cooking equipment. Installing a fire suppression system can sometimes lower your insurance premiums.

4 - Portable Fire Extinguishers

You should also keep portable fire extinguishers handy as a backup. Class K extinguishers are used for kitchen fires that involve grease, fats, and oils that burn at a high temperature. Class ABC extinguishers can be used on all other fires such as paper, wood, electrical, etc.

Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Understanding fire risks in your restaurant and taking steps to prevent them will help keep your employees, your customers, and your business safe.

Get the Right Insurance for Your Restaurant, Bar or Nightclub

Contact us for the best PA restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Berks County and elsewhere!If these measures fail, having the right insurance can help repair the damage.

But don’t overpay for restaurant insurance. Give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. We’ll search competing insurance companies to find affordable restaurant insurance that will properly protect your business.

Don’t delay – call the experts at American Insuring Group today!

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Contractors: “Mind the Gaps” in Your Insurance Coverage!

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 17, 2019

Tips to avoid gaps in insurance for contractors and construction companies in PA, MD, DE, NJ and elsewhereWhen you ride the Tube (aka the subway) in London, you’ll probably hear “mind the gap!” as you board your train.

“Mind the gap” is a warning to rail passengers to be careful when crossing the gap between the station platform and the train door. If you don’t “mind the gap,” you could fall between the train and the platform and cause serious injury.

“Mind the gap” is also good advice when discussing insurance for contractors! There are lots of moving parts with every construction project – from multiple subcontractors to heavy equipment and power tools. Each of those parts pose different types of risk, and if you don’t have the right insurance to protect you from those risks, you’ll have gaps in coverage that could cause serious injury to your bottom line.

Here are 3 coverages that often create insurance gaps for uninformed contractors:

#1 - Aggregate Coverage

There are two types of aggregate endorsements a contractor can purchase: a per policy and a per project aggregate. A per policy aggregate sets the total amount an insurer will pay for all of your claims during your policy’s term whether you have ten projects or 100 projects during that time.

A per project aggregate ensures that you have equal coverage on a per project or per location basis, which could significantly increase the amount the policy could pay.

Some insurance companies automatically add a per project endorsement to a contractors’ commercial liability policy, but some don’t. If you don’t clarify this from the start, you may not be comparing apples to apples thinking one insurance quote is a real deal when in fact it could leave you with a gap in your insurance. 

#2 - Professional Liability Coverage

There are two basic types of liability coverage contractors may need- general liability and professional liability. Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance usually covers liability claims for property damage and bodily injury. It helps cover legal fees in the event of a lawsuit against your company and is required by most banks and clients.

However, not every insurance claim is the result of an accident or injury. As projects continue to get more complicated and the line between the design firm and contractor become more blurred, contractors may find unexpected gaps in their liability coverage. A contractor who finds himself in a lawsuit claiming negligence, misrepresentation, defective materials, or faulty recommendations may not be covered by CGL.

Professional liability coverage (aka errors and omissions) goes beyond standard liability and covers liability for professional services such as engineering, design, and construction management operations.

#3 - Subcontractor Coverage

Many contractors work with subcontractors. If you’re one of them, you need to ensure that you have two documents from every subcontractor you work with upfront to protect your business from damage caused by those third parties: a certificate of insurance that lists you as an “additional insured” and a signed “hold harmless” agreement.

You will need to list all subcontractors that you work with and document third-party certificates with your insurance carrier, and if that carrier finds a subcontractor that is not insured, you could end up paying a much higher rate, open you up to workers’ compensation costs, and force you to take responsibility for claims that aren’t your fault.

 

Avoid the Gaps – Get the Right Construction and Contractor Insurance!

Call us for affordable PA insurance for contractors and construction companies in Philadelphia, Berks County, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and beyond.An insurance company that specializes in contractor and construction insurance– like American Insuring Group –we’ll work to eliminate the gaps in your coverage. We know what questions to ask you and what gaps “to mind.” 

So, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or check us out online. Our experienced independent agents will not only help you mind the gaps but also help ensure you get the best prices because we search, compare and analyze policies and pricing among many competing providers.

Call or click today to start saving!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Warning Signs of Workers Comp Insurance Fraud

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 10, 2019

Use these warning signs to reduce the risk of workers comp insurance fraud, and then save on WC insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and elsewhere.The majority of employees are honest, and the majority of workers compensation insurance claims are legitimate.

Unfortunately, there is a small group of people who commit workers compensation fraud, and they cost companies billions of dollars every year in rising insurance premiums, production delays, and training costs. 


What is EMPLOYEE Workers Comp Insurance Fraud?

Workers Compensation fraud occurs when a WC claim is filed that is not entirely truthful to get money or extended time off. Fraudulent claims include faking or exaggerating an injury, claiming an injury that occurred off the job, or claiming an old injury that didn’t heal.

Workers comp fraud is a serious crime, and one of the fastest growing types of insurance fraud in the U.S. Estimates place the cost of WC fraud to companies at $6 to $7 billion every year.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize WC fraud by both employees and providers.

One of the first steps is to recognize common warning signs.

 

13 Warning Signs of EMPLOYEE Workers Comp Fraud

Protect your business from WC insurance fraud by recognizing the warning signs of fraudulent claims:

  1. No witnesses
  2. An injured employee refusing treatment
  3. Delayed reporting of injury
  4. Conflicting or inconsistent report of the incident
  5. An employee with a history of making WC claims
  6. An employee with a history of frequently changing addresses, jobs, or physicians
  7. Suspicious medical providers or legal consultants
  8. An injury that occurs just before or after a weekend or holiday
  9. An injury that occurs right before or after job termination, layoff, end of seasonal work, a strike, or the end of a project
  10. An injured employee working a side job
  11. An injured employee doing activities that would not be possible with the claimed injury
  12. An injured employee who is difficult to get in touch with
  13. An injured employee who hires an attorney and tries to get a quick settlement

Never accuse an employee of fraud. If you see two or more of these warning signs, notify your insurance company immediately, but remember these are just potential signs that there could be an issue. It doesn’t mean that every workplace injury that occurs with no witnesses is fraudulent or that every injured employee who is hard to get in touch with is lying. They are just indicators that there may be a problem. 

How to Minimize Employee WC Fraud

  • Follow a screening process for all new employees by conducting thorough background checks of all applicants, contacting references, and watching for red flags such as a spotty work record or a criminal record
  • Create clear WC policies and establish a zero-tolerance policy on WC fraud
  • Clearly communicate these policies with new hires and provide WC fraud training
  • Create a culture of safety to reduce opportunities for fraudulent claims
  • Install video surveillance
  • Consider establishing ways that employees can report suspicious or fraudulent claims anonymously
  • If you suspect fraud, notify your insurance carrier immediately and provide supporting documentation.



What is PROVIDER Workers Comp Insurance Fraud?

Unfortunately, it isn’t just employees who commit WC fraud; providers of WC benefits such as medical and legal professionals sometimes take advantage of WC programs with unnecessary billing, fake clinics, kickback schemes, and inflated worker injuries or service costs

8 Warning Signs of Provider WC Fraud

  1. Billing for services never received
  2. Billing for equipment never used
  3. Billing for treatment that was never performed
  4. Duplicate billing
  5. Higher than usual bills for services performed
  6. Billing for procedures that don’t make sense for the reported injury
  7. Increasing visits
  8. Ongoing medical services that don’t improve injury

WC fraud can cause a ripple effect that touches everyone. Fraudulent claims create additional costs for insurance companies, which can turn into higher insurance premiums for employers. Increasing business costs can cause an increase in prices customers pay, a decrease in employee benefits, or even job cuts.

 

How to Get a Great Deal on Workers Comp Insurance

Our Trusted Choice independent workers comp insurance agents will help you save on the best workers comp insurance for your business. Call today.To learn more about preventing and recognizing WC Fraud and ways to save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance, contact the WC specialists at American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

Our Trusted Choice independent agents will work hard to analyze and compare plans from competing WC insurance carriers, so you’ll get the best price on quality protection.

Call or click today to get started!

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