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5 Tips to Improve Your Workers' Compensation Plan

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 11, 2021

Workers Compensation Insurance protection in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, York, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and everywhere in PA.No Workers' Compensation Insurance program is perfect; however, if you want to improve your company's bottom line, it's imperative that you continually look for ways to improve your WC program.

Here are five tips to help any business improve its Workers' Compensation Plan. 

 

1. Get Started

This may sound like common sense, but sometimes the most challenging thing with any project is just getting started. Here are five areas that you should focus on to see the most significant impact. Pick one and get started!

  1. Improve safety
  2. Reduce costs
  3. Reduce litigation
  4. Build relationships with medical providers
  5. Get injured employees back to work 

2. Create a Culture of Safety

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2019 there were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded and 2,814,000 non-fatal work injuries that resulted in 888,200 cases with days away from work. The median number of days away from work was eight. These work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars every year, which is why workplace safety should be a top priority at any company. 

Creating a business culture that focuses on safety will have one of the most significant impacts on reducing your organization's number of injuries. That culture must be embraced by all employees at every level of the organizational chart. 

Here are three tips to help create a culture of safety:

  1. Create a safety program with a set of controls designed to help protect employees from potential harm within the workplace.
  2. Ongoing training should be a big part of any safety program. According to the National Safety Council, "Investing in workplace training is money well spent. Employers with effective safety and health training programs benefit from fewer workplace injuries and claims, better employee morale, and lower insurance premiums."
  3. Employees should be recognized and/or rewarded for committing to workplace safety practices. 

3. Set Program Goals

Bill Copeland said, "The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score." Research shows that setting measurable and attainable goals boosts performance because it motivates and challenges employees to increase their effort, allows them to focus better, and helps them prioritize. 

Goals you may want to consider are reducing the number of injuries, reducing the time it takes to get an injured employee back to work or reducing the number of litigation claims. 

Once you have specific goals in place, create a plan of action and consider recognizing or rewarding employees for helping accomplish those goals. 

4. Avoid Common Mistakes

There are certain mistakes that many employers make. Knowing those mistakes is the first step to correcting them. Here are seven common Workers' Compensation mistakes to watch for:

  1. Not having a safety plan in place or not enforcing it
  2. Not having a return-to-work program
  3. Underestimating the projected annual payroll
  4. Not assigning the correct classification codes or not changing those classifications when business operations change
  5. Listing an employee as a subcontractor – on purpose or by mistake.
  6. Poor claims management
  7. Working with inexperienced insurance agents 

5. Work With an Experienced Independent Workers' Compensation Insurance Agent

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers' Compensation Insurance. We have a clear understanding of the WC process and a proven track record of providing exceptional service to businesses – both big and small. 

The American Insuring Group's independent agents can help ensure that you get the best coverage at the lowest cost on all of your business insurance needs because, as independent agents, they are free to shop and compare among competing insurance carriers. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online today!

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

As a Contractor, Do I Really Need Builders’ Risk Insurance?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 04, 2021

Save on Builders Risk Insurance for Contractors in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, and throughout Pennsylvania.Builders’ Risk Insurance is a type of Contractor Insurance designed to help protect contractors, subcontractors, and construction companies if there is damage to buildings or structures during construction. You may ask, “Isn’t that what Commercial Property Insurance and General Liability Insurance is for?” The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no.” 

 

What is Builders’ Risk Insurance?

Builders’ Risk Insurance - sometimes called Course of Construction Insurance or Inland Marine coverage – is a temporary insurance policy that can help protect a specific renovation or new building while under construction. It is designed to protect a building, structure, materials, tools, and equipment on a job site, in transit, or stored elsewhere during construction or renovation. 

Builders’ Risk Insurance is typically purchased by property owners, general contractors, subcontractors, lenders, or architects – anyone with a financial interest in the project. Usually, we recommend that it is purchased before materials are delivered and end only when the property is ready to be occupied or sold. 

The cost of Builders’ Insurance varies depending on the type of project, the construction materials used, and the policy coverage amounts and limits. The coverage amount should include the total estimated cost of the completed project – including land value, materials, and labor. 

Sometimes, a client contract will require that you carry Builders’ Risk Insurance, and sometimes, you may be covered under the property owner or developer’s insurance. 

What Does Builders’ Risk Insurance Cover?

Every project is unique; therefore, every Builders’ Risk Policy is unique. Consequently, it’s crucial that you work with an experienced insurance agent to ensure you have the right coverage, so there are no unpleasant surprises if you need to file a claim. 

Typically, a Builders’ Risk policy will cover damages caused by the following:

  • Fire
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Explosion
  • Weather events, such as hail or lightning
  • Vehicle accident 

Additional perils included in some Builders’ Risk policies include the following:

  • Damage to temporary structures
  • Removal and disposal of pollutants
  • Costs incurred by delayed construction, such as lost rental income or loan interest
  • Changes required to meet environmental standards 

Perils that are not covered in a typical Builders’ Risk policy include the following:

  • Wind
  • Flood
  • Earthquake
  • Normal wear and tear
  • Employee theft
  • Terrorism
  • Faulty work or materials
  • Mechanical breakdowns
  • Contractual penalties 

Some policies do cover these last perils but come with higher deductibles. An extension or endorsement to your policy may also cover these perils. 

When reading an insurance policy, it is also essential to understand the difference between a “structure” and a “building.” A structure is usually temporary and is not occupied – such as scaffolding or a temporary structure built to store materials. A building is a structure – such as a house or an office building – that can be occupied. 

Why Isn’t Commercial Property Insurance and General Liability Insurance Enough?

Commercial Property Insurance is designed to cover commercial properties – buildings and everything in them - from perils such as fire, damage caused by theft, and natural disasters. You’ll want to purchase this type of insurance to protect your office space, warehouse, or other buildings you use to conduct business. However, Commercial Property Insurance does not typically cover damage to your equipment or materials when offsite or in transit, nor does it usually cover buildings that are under construction. 

General Liability Insurance is designed to protect your business if you are responsible for property damage or bodily injury to others. It does not cover your property if it is damaged. 

How Can I Get the Lowest Price on Builders’ Risk Insurance?

If you want to get the right coverage at the lowest cost, work with an independent insurance agency like American Insuring Group. They specialize in Contractors Insurance throughout Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and all points in between.

They can help you customize your Builders’ Risk Insurance to meet your specific needs and compare the cost of your coverage with several insurance companies to ensure that you’re paying the lowest price for that coverage.

Give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online for a free quote on all of your business insurance needs.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Builders Risk Insurance

Minimize Food Delivery Risks for Lower Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Mar 29, 2021

Minimize Food Delivery Risks for Lower Restaurant Insurance Costs in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.If you want to manage the cost of Restaurant Insurance, you must manage risk. Food delivery, which has skyrocketed since the pandemic began, poses new risks that need to be addressed. 

According to SevenRooms, two in five restaurants began offering food delivery services due to pandemic-related closures in 2020. Many turned to third-party delivery services as restaurants that did not formerly offer food delivery scrambled to adjust. 

In 2020, more than 45 million Americans used a food delivery app - a 25% increase over 2019. Between 2019 and 2020, Grubhub grew its customer base by 35%. On average, consumers have two delivery apps on their phones that they use three times per month. However, most off-premise orders - 78% -were still placed directly with the restaurant, and only 22% were placed through third-party platforms. 

Experts and three in ten restauranteurs do not expect the demand for food delivery to decrease significantly in 2021 once indoor dining is back to full capacity. So, whether you hire your delivery people or use a third-party, it looks like food delivery is here to stay. 

Two of the most significant risks with food delivery are food safety and food quality, which should always be a top priority with any restaurant. Ensuring the safety and quality of the food you serve in-house is challenging enough. Start shipping that food off with employees and third-party drivers in extreme weather conditions, and you have a whole new set of challenges. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help minimize those risks. 

Temperature

When it comes to both safety and quality, temperature is a key component. To begin, you'll want to keep food safe before it's picked up. Timing drivers and food delivery isn't an exact science. Keep cold foods in the fridge or cooler and hot foods in a warmer, only transferring the food to the driver at the last possible moment. 

Then consider how you keep hot foods hot during frigid temperatures and cold foods cold during hot temperatures. You may need to invest in insulated food delivery bags, coolers, ice packs, food warmers, or heat packs. 

The packaging you use can also make a difference. For example, Styrofoam containers are good insulators and help keep food hot; however, they aren't considered as environmentally friendly as some of the other options. Aluminum foil also holds in heat, keeps steam from escaping, and is relatively inexpensive but not appropriate for all food types. On the other hand, a vented container helps reduce moisture buildup, which helps keep french-fries from becoming soggy. 

Hot food should never be packaged in the same container as cold food. At the most basic level, that means not putting ice cream and hot soup in the same bag. But also consider keeping foods within the same meal separate. For example, a cold salad with hot chicken might not fare too well in a 15-30-minute car ride, so you may want to consider keeping the chicken in a separate container and allowing the diner to mix the two. This will help minimize cross-contamination and result in a more tasty and appealing salad. 

Prevent Food Tampering

You know what it's like driving home with hot fresh French fries in your car. They smell so good, and your mouth begins to water. You can't wait to get home and dig in, and you may even "steal" a few fries to hold you over until you get home. Many food delivery drivers face the same temptation. 

Your customers would probably be shocked to discover that a survey conducted by US Foods found that nearly 30% of delivery drivers are snacking on the food they're delivering. Gulp! 30%! One way to avoid food tampering is with tamper-evident labels. If a driver tries to open a package with a tamper-evident label, the seal is broken, and it's clear the food has been tampered with. 

Choose Your Drivers or Third-Party Delivery Company Carefully

Hiring your own drivers gives you more control over your customers' experience, but finding good drivers can be challenging. Finding good drivers starts with the hiring process, developing specific protocols, and focusing on training. TouchBistro offers more tips. 

If you're working with a third-party delivery company, make sure drivers are provided appropriate equipment for maintaining temperatures and that they aren't making too many stops before delivering your food. Restaurant Clicks offers more tips. 

Get the Right Restaurant Insurance

Despite every precaution you take, things happen. A customer gets food contamination, one of your drivers is in an accident, someone hacks into your system and accesses customer data. 

The right Restaurant Insurance – such as Liability, Commercial Auto, and Cyber Insurance - will protect your business if/when something does happen. Give one of the American Insuring Group's independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

3 Tips to Minimize the Risk of Cargo Theft

Posted by David Ross on Fri, Mar 26, 2021

Minimize the Risk of Cargo Theft to save on truck insurance in Philadelphia, Allentown, Berks County, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster, York and throughout Pennsylvania.Cargo Theft is a $15 to $35 billion industry that can drive up Truck Insurance premiums and deductibles. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there were 8,676 cargo vehicle thefts reported in the U.S. in 2017, translating to about 24 thefts every day. 

And it appears the COVID-19 pandemic is only making the problem worse. Freight Waves reported a 26.92% year-over-year increase in reported cargo thefts in September 2020 and a 91.43% year-over-year increase in April 2020.

If you want to minimize the cost of lost loads, the effort of recovery, and increased insurance costs, you need to take steps to ensure the safety of the cargo you’re shipping. Here are some tips: 

Know What is In Demand

Drivers need to know if they’re transporting in-demand commodities so that they can take additional precautions. Thieves will steal what they can resell, and they can be very focused. 

Typical targets include food and beverages (which can be quickly consumed and leave no trace), consumer electronics, and drugs. After severe storms, there is an increase in building supplies being stolen. It’s no surprise that during the pandemic in the third quarter of 2020, there was a significant increase in the theft of commodities such as cleaning supplies and PPE. 

Freight Waves also reports an increase in pilferage theft – stealing small portions of a load. Trailer break-ins and pilferages accounted for 22% of all reported robberies in the third quarter of 2020. 

If a driver knows they are carrying high-value or in-demand products, they need to be even more vigilant. 

Know the High-Risk Places and Times

Thieves tend to go where the pickings are good. According to Port Technology, Los Angeles (traffic of 9.46 million TEU in 2018) and Long Beach (8.09 million TEU) are the two busiest container ports in the U.S., so it’s no surprise that California tops the list of the biggest hot spots for cargo theft. Texas is at the center of cross-border freight, which accounts for its second place on the list. 

The NICB reported the ten states that are the biggest targets for cargo thefts are:

  1. California (1,770)
  2. Texas (1,255)
  3. Florida (921)
  4. Illinois (712)
  5. New Jersey (468)
  6. Georgia (438)
  7. Alabama (214)
  8. North Carolina (204)
  9. Indiana (192)
  10. Missouri (181) 

According to the NICB, most cargo thefts occur on weekdays, with Monday and Friday being the most significant days for these thefts. So, if a driver is driving through California on a Monday or Friday with an in-demand commodity, they should be on high alert. 

Hire and Train Wisely

Drivers are responsible for hundreds or thousands of dollars in commodities, so it’s crucial that you hire the most honest and dependable drivers (and warehouse employees). It starts with innovative recruiting. Attract the best drivers by showing that your company is a great company to work for and let them know what your company is all about with pictures and videos on your website and social media sites. Another way to attract the best drivers is to offer competitive wages. 

It’s also crucial that you screen potential hires (and warehouse workers or anyone with access to shipping information) with thorough background checks following your industry’s screening laws. Background checks could potentially include criminal records, drug and alcohol testing, driving records, and license checks. 

You should also establish best practices and provide security training, including hijack awareness and prevention, so drivers know how to protect themselves, along with your truck and your cargo. 

How to Save on Truck Insurance Costs

Another key to managing risk is Trucking Insurance. American Insuring Group offers all of your Truck Insurance needs – from Cargo Insurance to Transit Coverage and more. Give one of our independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online for a free quote. They’ll check with several insurance companies to ensure you pay the lowest price possible for your insurance needs.

Tags: truck insurance, Trucking Insurance, Physical Damage Truck Insurance, Cargo Trucking Insurance

PPE to Lower Insurance and Other Operating Costs in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Mar 13, 2021

PPE to Lower Insurance Costs in Restaurants in Cities Throughout PA, including Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Allentown and beyond.Restaurant Insurance helps protect your business if something bad happens. If a fire destroys your kitchen, Property Insurance will help you rebuild your kitchen. If an employee is injured on the job, Workers' Compensation Insurance will help pay for medical bills and lost wages and help protect you against accident-related lawsuits. 

Insurance is vital to any business's health and success, but wouldn't it be better never to have had a fire in your kitchen or an employee injured on the job? Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  

One way to prevent many workplace injuries and even help protect your customers is by providing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to your employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has PPE standards that require employers to provide specific PPE, but we recommend going beyond those basic requirements.  

While this will mean a higher up-front cost, you will make up much (if not more) of that cost by lower insurance costs, higher employee morale, productivity, fewer lost workdays, etc.  

What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

OSHA defines PPE as "equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards."  

Standard PPE used by restaurant workers include the following:

  • Gloves – dishwashing, cut-resistant, and freezer
  • Oven Mitts
  • Aprons
  • Anti-Slip Shoes 

COVID-19 has introduced a new PPE requirement – masks. 

What is Appropriate PPE?

The best way to determine appropriate PPE for your employees is to look at any potential safety (knives, ovens, and slippery floors), ergonomic (repetitive tasks or heavy lifting), or other health hazards (noise, chemicals, heat, and stress).  

Once those hazards are identified, consider controls your restaurant can put in place to keep workers safe. OSHA recommends asking three questions. Here's an example. 

Many restaurant workers get burned cleaning fryers or lowering frozen food into deep fryers.  

  1. Is there a way to remove the hazard? Install grease pans that dump automatically for cleaning. 
  2. What improvement in work practices would help? Train workers on the importance of shaking ice crystals off frozen foods before putting them into the deep fryer to avoid splattering. 
  3. What protective clothing or equipment would help? Gloves, sleevelets, and long aprons. These need to resist heat and grease to at least 400º F for anyone working with fryers. 

Other PPE Considerations

PPE should be appropriately cleaned and maintained and should properly fit the employee using it. A PPE program should be implemented that addresses hazards and the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE. It should also include employee training and monitoring to ensure it is effective. 

Training should teach employees on the proper use of PPE, such as…

  • When PPE is needed
  • What PPE is necessary
  • How to put PPE on, adjust it, wear it, and take it off
  • The limitations of PPE
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of PPE 

The proper use of PPE will protect your greatest assets – your employees, minimize injuries, and lower insurance costs.  

Another Way to Save on Restaurant Insurance

Another way to lower your Restaurant Insurance costs is to work with an agency – like American Insuring Group - specializing in Restaurant insurance. Our independent agents will compare your insurance cost with several companies to ensure that you pay the lowest price for your coverage.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online for a free Restaurant Insurance quote! 

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp costs, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Reduce Workers’ Comp Costs With Exoskeleton Technology

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Mar 06, 2021

Lower Your Workers’ Comp Insurance Costs in Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Allentown, PA and Elsewhere With Exoskeleton Technology .Would you be surprised to discover that technology used in sci-fi movies, such as Iron Man, could actually help reduce your Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs? In the film, Tony Stark builds an armored suit that allows him to save the world – more than once. The armored suit is a souped-up version of exoskeleton technology, which some businesses are now using to avoid workplace injuries and help injured employees return to work faster.

What is Exoskeleton Technology?

Exoskeleton technology is not a new concept. It has been in development since the late 1800s. Exoskeletons are “wearable devices that work in tandem with the user.” They are placed on a person and “act as amplifiers that augment, reinforce or restore human performance.” 

Using pneumatics, levers, hydraulics, and electric motors, exoskeletons can help employees move heavier objects and work longer hours, reduce injuries, avoid repetitive trauma injuries, and get employees back to work more quickly after an injury. While exoskeleton technology is most commonly employed in military applications, businesses are quickly discovering many benefits of the technology. 

How Can Exoskeleton Technology Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs?

Lower workplace injuries and the number of claims, and you lower your WC costs. Get injured employees back to work as quickly and safely possible, and you lower WC costs. Exoskeleton Technology has shown to do both. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one of the most common and costly types of workplace injuries is repetitive strain injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that nearly two-thirds of all occupational illnesses reported were caused by exposure to repeated trauma to workers’ upper body. 

According to Ford Motor Company, its assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead work tasks approximately 4,600 times per day or about one million times a year and concludes, “At this rate, the possibility of fatigue or injury on the body increases significantly.” 

In 2005, Ford began using an EksoVest on many of its production lines to help lessen worker fatigue and injuries. The EksoVest is wearable technology that “elevates and supports a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks. It can be fitted to support workers ranging from 5 feet tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall and provides adjustable lift assistance of five pounds to 15 pounds per arm. It’s comfortable to wear because it’s lightweight, it isn’t bulky, and it allows workers to move their arms freely.” 

Ford reports, “Between 2005 and 2016, the most recent full year of data, the company saw an 83 percent decrease in the number of incidents that resulted in days away, work restrictions or job transfers – to an all-time low of 1.55 incidents per 100 full-time North American employees.” 

While there is an upfront cost to exoskeleton technology, more companies are finding it’s worth the price. The technology helps reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries; thereby, minimizing the costs associated with workplace injuries, such as lost production, lower employee morale, etc. Plus, they’re getting injured employees back to work more quickly. All of this is leading to lower Workers’ Compensation costs. 

Exoskeleton technology is no longer limited to science fiction movies but has practical applications in today’s workplace that can help lower Workers’ Compensation costs. 

Learn More on How to Save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

As Workers’ Comp Insurance experts, the American Insuring Group agents can help you save big on  Workers’ Compensation and other business insurance needs. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online for a free workers comp insurance quote today!

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

Contractors Can Protect Their Business With Cyber Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 20, 2021

Contractors in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Pittsburgh, PA and Beyond Can Protect Their Business With Cyber InsuranceConstruction worksites are filled with potential hazards that Contractors Insurance helps cover, but there’s one threat that many contractors overlook – cybersecurity. Many think, “What information could I have that would be of value to them? I’m just a small company; they aren’t going to target my business.” 

The fact is that if you use a computer for anything – financial transactions, emails, invoicing, etc. – your company has data cybercriminals can go after. Most construction companies have limited IT experience, which makes them attractive to hackers. As with most criminals, hackers tend to take the path of least resistance.  

A 2018 survey of 1,045 small and medium-sized U.S. businesses found that more than half – 67% - suffered a cyberattack in 2018. In fact, did you know the Target data breach in 2013 started with hackers using the stolen credentials of an HVAC vendor doing business with Target? That attack allowed hackers to steal the data of 70 million customers and 40 million credit cards and debit cards. 

Don’t think your business is immune to cyberattacks. It is not, and the results of a breach can be devastating. CNBC reported that cyberattacks cost businesses $200,000 on average, and 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. These attacks are putting many companies out of business. 

The Impact of a Cyber-attack on your business

A cyber-attack can impact your entire organization on many different levels. Some of those impacts could be minor inconveniences, but some could force you to shut down your business for good. 

Potential Impact of a Cyber-Attack:

  1. Financial Losses
      • Cost of response and recovery
      • Cost of the investigation
      • Lost revenue
      • Legal and PR costs
      • A decrease in the value of your company 
  1. Lost Productivity
  2. Damage to your Business’s Reputation
  3. Legal Liability
  4. A Halt on Business Activities 

Types of Cybersecurity Threats

Hackers have discovered many ways to access your data and continue to find new ways. Here area few more common techniques.

  • Malware: Short for malicious software, malware threats include viruses, worms, trojans, and other computer programs that allow hackers to gain access to sensitive information.
  • Ransomware: A form of malware, ransomware allows hackers to encrypt your files, which they will then demand a ransom to restore your access to those files.
  • Social Engineering: With social engineering, hackers manipulate you or your employees into giving up confidential information, such as usernames and passwords, that they use to access data.
  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering in which a hacker tricks someone into opening an email, instant message, or text message and then clicking on a malicious link. 

Prevention

As with any risk, your first step should be prevention. Here are ten security tips from the FCC for small businesses:

  1. Train Employees in Security Principles
  2. Protect Information, Computers, and Networks from Cyber Attacks
  3. Provide Firewall Security for Your Internet Connection
  4. Create a Mobile Device Action Plan
  5. Make Backup Copies of Important Business Data and Information
  6. Control Physical Access to your Computers and Create User Accounts for Each Employee
  7. Secure Your Wi-Fi Networks
  8. Employ Best Practices on Payment Cards
  9. Limit Employee Access to Data and Information, Limit Authority to Install Software
  10. Passwords and Authentication 

When Prevention Isn’t Enough, Add Cyber Insurance!

Prevention should ALWAYS be your first line of attack. Unfortunately, hackers are continually finding new ways to access your data, so keeping up with changing cyber-security threats can be difficult, which is why Cyber Insurance is so crucial. 

Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. As independent agents, we will research insurance costs and coverages among many companies to ensure you get the lowest price on all your insurance needs! 

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Cyber Liability Insurance, Cyber Insurance

3 Tips to Keep Drivers Safe and Save on Truck Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 13, 2021

3 Tips to Keep Drivers Safe and Save on Truck Insurance Costs in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and in PA and beyond.As you know, good drivers aren’t easy to come by, so keeping them as safe as possible on the road should be a top priority. Keeping your drivers safe has the added benefit of lowering Truck Insurance costs and other costs associated with accidents. 

According to CNBC, people who drive for a living – driver/sales workers and truck drivers – are in the sixth most dangerous job in the U.S., with 96 fatal injuries and 78,520 non-fatal injuries in 2018. If you can lower the number of your drivers involved in accidents, you can reduce employee turnover, increase employee morale, and decrease costs, such as insurance premiums, claim payouts, lost workdays, etc. 

Here are three tips to help keep your drivers safe, lower the number of accidents, and improve your company’s bottom line. 

Encourage Defensive Driving

Dictionary.com defines defensive driving as “the practice of using driving strategies that minimize risk and help avoid accidents, as by predicting hazards on the road.” Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Looking Ahead – It takes longer for a truck carrying a heavy load to stop than it does a car, so truck drivers need to look ahead to see and anticipate potential hazards, such as stopped traffic. 
  • Keeping Eyes Moving – Drivers who are on the road a long time often become complacent to their surroundings. Truck drivers should always be scanning their environment – looking at what is ahead and around them and using side and rearview mirrors to see what is behind them.
  • Maintaining a Buffer Zone – It’s impossible to predict what other drivers will do, and trucks have very limited maneuverability, so truck drivers should always establish and maintain a buffer zone around their vehicle. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “If you are driving below 40 mph, you should leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. For a typical tractor-trailer, this results in 4 seconds between you and the leading vehicle. For speeds over 40 mph, you should leave one additional second.”
  • Having an Escape Route – Maintaining a buffer zone should minimize the need to swerve; however, sometimes stopping in time just isn’t possible. Drivers should always consider escape routes available to them if they need them.
  • Keeping Cool – Driving can be stressful, and there are plenty of inconsiderate drivers on the road. Becoming angry or aggressive while driving doesn’t help. Aggressive driving can include passing where prohibited, following improperly, erratic lane changing, etc. Between 2003 and 2007, aggressive driving played a role in 56 percent of fatal crashes. Truck drivers need to keep their cool at all times and slow down to allow aggressive drivers to get well ahead of them. 

Properly Maintain Vehicles

A poorly maintained tractor-trailer is not only a danger to your drivers; it’s a danger to everyone around the vehicle – other drivers, pedestrians, bikers, etc. A blown tire or a faulty brake can be deadly. Plus, a well-maintained vehicle will last longer. 

Therefore, it is in your best interest to maintain your fleet with a regular maintenance schedule. That schedule should include a plan to prevent brake wear and failure, testing to avoid engine problems, frequent oil changes, replacing parts subject to wear and tear, inflating tires to the right levels (which will also help you save on fuel bills), and more. Here are 14 maintenance tips for trucks. 

Another component of vehicle maintenance is the pre-and post-trip inspections. Federal law requires drivers to submit a Daily Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) for each power unit they operate. These inspections include checking the brakes, turn signals, lights, fuel system, and much more. 

Pre- and post-trip inspections help save time, money, and lives. A pre-trip inspection helps ensure drivers are operating a safe vehicle before they hit the road, and post-trip inspections allow time to fix issues before they need to go back on the road.  

Consider the Use of Technology

Consider using technology to help keep your drivers and your fleet safe. Do your research to determine what will work best for your drivers and your fleet. Some technology to consider:

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) – According to the NHTSA, ESCs are designed to “reduce untripped rollovers and mitigate severe understeer or oversteer conditions that lead to loss of control by using automatic computer-controlled braking and reducing engine torque output.” The NHTSA states, “We believe that ESC systems could prevent 40 to 56 percent of untripped rollover crashes and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes. By requiring that ESC systems be installed on truck tractors and large buses, this proposal would prevent 1,807 to 2,329 crashes, 649 to 858 injuries, and 49 to 60 fatalities at less than $3 million per equivalent life saved while generating positive net benefits.”
  • Eyelid Monitoring – This type of system uses a cabin-mounted camera to monitor drivers’ eyelids and alert the driver if their eyelids droop.
  • Automatic Brakes – This type of system uses radars to apply automatic brakes if an imminent crash is detected.
  • Continuous Remote Data Feed – Computers can warn drivers if disturbing driving habits, such as swerving, are detected. Safety managers can also use videos.

Doing what you can to keep your drivers safe just makes good business sense. 

Ready to Save on Truck Insurance?

Another thing that makes good business sense is having the right insurance coverage at the lowest price. Because American Insuring Group specializes in Truck Insurance, we can help you determine the right insurance coverage for your business, whether you're in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, or elsewhere in PA and the tri-state area. Because we’re independent agents, we research multiple carriers to ensure that you pay the lowest premium for that great coverage.

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

Tags: truck insurance, Business Insurance, Trucking Insurance, Cargo Trucking Insurance

Opening a New Restaurant? Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 06, 2021

Protect Your Restaurant with the right Restaurant Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown, Lancaster and all of Pennsylvania.You know what they say, “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst and make sure you have the right Restaurant Insurance!” Okay, we made that last part up, but it is true. 

One accident has been known to put restaurants out of business. So, before all of your hopes are dashed, think about how you can prepare for the worst. Thinking ahead will help you minimize the “worst” scenarios – such as fires, food spoilage, and accidents - and help ensure that you have the right insurance coverage if the “worst” does happen. 

Here are five things to consider to help you prepare for the worst. 

1. Employee Training

Yes, employee turnover rates in the restaurant industry are high. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurants-and-accommodations sectors' turnover rate was 74.9 percent in 2018. 

But it is also true that employees are your greatest asset and some of your highest risk. While we’re talking cliches… Your business is only as strong as your weakest link. Employees should be regularly trained on safety procedures, customer service, and - if your restaurant serves alcohol - alcohol service. 

Safety Procedures:

  1. Help avoid employee injuries by teaching proper lifting techniques, using equipment properly, appropriate personal protective equipment, etc.
  2. Keep your customers safe by training employees how to handle, prepare, and store food properly and what to do in the case of a fire, robbery, etc. 

Customer Service 

Help minimize litigation issues by providing customer service training to employees who interact with customers.

Alcohol Service

In Pennsylvania, it is against the law to serve alcohol to a "visibly intoxicated person," and your restaurant could be held legally responsible for injuries and damages caused by an intoxicated person you served. Any employee serving alcohol should know how to recognize and prevent intoxication and how and when to refuse service. 

One of the best ways to prepare for the worst is to have a comprehensive and on-going training program appropriate for each of your employees. 

2. Maintain Equipment

You rely on kitchen equipment to run your restaurant. If a refrigerator malfunctions, food could spoil, causing food loss or worse - foodborne illnesses. If your stove malfunctions, you won’t be able to cook food for your customers, or worse – it could cause a fire. The best way to avoid equipment breakdown is with proper maintenance. 

You should have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly maintenance checklists that employees understand and follow, such as temperature checks on refrigerators and ice machines, cleaning schedules, inspection schedules, etc. Not only will this help your equipment last longer, but it will also help minimize unexpected breakdowns and potential disasters. 

3. Maintain Your Restaurant

Minimize the risk of property damage and injuries to customers and employees by maintaining your restaurant. Keep your kitchen – countertops, floors, equipment, etc. - clean to avoid grease fires, food contamination, and employee injuries. Keep aisles and exits clear of clutter. Address any tripping hazards, such as loose tile or worn carpets. Make sure outside walkways and parking lots are safe and promptly remove snow and ice following a storm. 

4. Follow Health and Safety Regulations

Every restaurant has a set of health and safety regulations issued by local, state, and federal entities they must follow. As a restaurant owner, you should be familiar with and understand those regulations or risk fines, a loss of reputation, or even possible closure. 

Standard regulations include employee hygiene, food storage, and equipment safety. Remember, those regulations are designed to keep everyone safe, so following them will also help ensure your employees' and customers' safety and the success of your business. 

5. Technology

Use technology to your advantage but also protect yourself from potential risks associated with technology. 

For example, security cameras can help protect your property from thieves and vandals and fraudulent Workers’ Compensation Insurance claims. A computer or point-of-sale device can save you time, allow you to accept credit cards, and store customer information that can be used for marketing purposes. But, in the wrong hands, that information can create problems for your restaurant, your employees, and your customers, so take steps to keep that information safe and secure. 

Be Prepared With the Right Restaurant Insurance!

Sometimes, despite your best-efforts, accidents do happen, so you need to be prepared. Insurance can help protect your business if you’re sued, experiences property damage, etc., so you can get back to business. 

American Insuring Group can help you prepare and, as experienced independent agents, help you obtain the lowest price for the right restaurant insurance coverage. We're independent, so we're free to shop among many competing insurance carriers, resulting in a lower price than you're likely to receive from single-brand agencies. Contact us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

The Cost of Failing to Provide Adequate Workers’ Comp

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 30, 2021

Avoid the cost of failing to provide Adequate WC Insurance. Get the right workers comp insurance from American Insuring Group. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown, and all of Pennsylvania.Most employers in Pennsylvania are required to have Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance. Failure to carry adequate WC can result in civil and criminal penalties. Therefore, employers must understand their WC obligations. Here's what you need to know... 

What is Workers’ Compensation?

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry defines Workers’ Compensation as “mandatory, employer-financed, no-fault insurance which ensures that employees disabled due to a work-related injury or disease will be compensated for lost wages and provides necessary medical treatment to return them to the workforce.”

The goals of WC are simple:

  • safer workplaces
  • prompt treatment and compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses
  • reduced litigation costs

With only a few exceptions, Worker’s Compensation insurance is mandatory for any employer in Pennsylvania who employs at least one employee. If ALL workers employed by that employer fall into one or more of the following categories, they may be excluded from mandatory WC. This is a general list, minus the fine print.

  • Federal workers
  • Longshoremen
  • Railroad workers
  • Casual workers
  • Persons who work out of their own homes or other premises not under the control or management of the enterprise AND make up, clean, wash, alter, ornament, finish, repair, or adapt articles or materials for sale that are given to them.
  • Agricultural laborers making less than $1200 per year
  • Domestic workers who have not elected to come under the provisions of the WC Act (they must notify the Department of Labor & Industry)
  • Sole proprietor or general partners with no other employees
  • People granted exceptions due to religious beliefs
  • LLC’s in which only the employees are members of the LLC
  • Executive officers who have been given an exclusion
  • Licensed real estate salespersons or associate real estate brokers

Workmen’s Compensation rules for independent contractors can be complicated. Merely referring to someone as an independent contractor doesn’t mean the Department of Labor & Industry will agree. Here are a few factors that may indicate an individual is not an independent contractor but an employee.

The individual…

  • Performs duties assigned by the employer
  • Works hours set by the employer
  • Uses tools, equipment, or materials that the employer provides

The bottom-line is… before you assume your employees are exempt from Workers’ Compensation Insurance, check with your insurance agent or the Department of Labor & Industry or risk facing civil or criminal penalties.

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, the estimated cost of WC Insurance in Pennsylvania is $1.34 per $100 covered in payroll.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Employers are required to report all injuries to their insurer or program - in the case of a self-insured employer - the person responsible for managing their WC. 

Employers are also required to submit a First Report of Injury to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within seven days if the injury results in the loss of one or more day, shift, or turn of work. If the injury results in death, the employer must file a First Report with the Bureau within 48 hours. The injured workers and the employer’s insurer should also receive copies of the First Report. 

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Refusing to file a Workers’ Compensation claim on behalf of an employee is against the law.

 If an employee is injured, and the employer does not have WC insurance, the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund will pay the employee’s benefits. The employer will be required to reimburse the fund, including costs, interest, penalties, and other fees. 

Injured employees covered under WC insurance have very limited ability to sue their employers. However, that is not the case when the employer fails to carry WC insurance. Employers without WC are open to litigation for workplace injuries and illnesses. And often, the damages awarded are higher than what the employer would have paid for WC insurance. 

Employers who fail to maintain WC coverage could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. If the courts decide the failure to comply was intentional, the employer could be facing a felony charge that carries a fine of up to $15,000 and up to seven years in jail. 

Getting the Right Workers’ Compensation Insurance

American Insuring Group specializes in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. We can help you determine 1) whether or not your business is required to carry WC and 2) how you can get the best price on quality insurance protection if it is needed. Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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