Insurance Savings and News You Can Use
Join the Conversation!

David Ross

Recent Posts

Save on Workers Comp Insurance Without Losing Protection

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 10, 2019

Use these tips to save on PA workers comp insurance without losing valuable protection in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Harrisburg, Reading, Lehigh Valley and more.In Pennsylvania, most employers are required by law to have Workers Compensation (WC) insurance. According to the Department of Labor & Industry, “Employers who do not have workers' compensation coverage may be subject to lawsuits by employees and to criminal prosecution by the Commonwealth.”

Workers compensation insurance is designed to protect both employees and employers. If an employee is injured on the job, WC helps pay for medical costs and lost wages. If an injured employee sues their employer, WC helps pay for legal fees and any resulting financial settlements.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to lower your WC premiums without losing the protection that it provides. 

How is Your Workers Comp Insurance Premium Calculated?

There is a simple formula that determines how much you pay for WC. You can control some things within that formula, and others you can’t, so it’s important to understand the formula before you can understand how to lower your premium costs. Let’s take a look at the formula and break it down.

RATE X (PAYROLL/100) X EXPERIENCE MODIFIER = Premium

RATE

This is one of the parts of the formula that you have little control over. The RATE for each employee is based on his or her classification code. An employee’s WC classification is determined by what duties the employee performs or “the scope of work performed” and how dangerous his or her job is along with what state they work in. There are over 700 different classification codes.

If an employee is a tree trimmer, their classification code is 106 with a rate of $22.91 in Pennsylvania. An employee with a job that isn’t as hazardous and where he is less likely to incur an injury, such as a clerical office employee (classification code 8810) has a rate of $.34 in Pennsylvania. If you plug each of those numbers into the formula, you can see how different your premium rate will be.

The only thing you can do about the classification code is to make sure that every employee is classified correctly, so, for example, make sure that a clerical worker isn’t accidentally given a tree trimmer classification code. On the other hand, if you assign a clerical classification code to a tree trimmer, you could face a sizable additional premium at your year-end audit.

Assigning the correct classification code isn’t as easy as it sounds, and it’s where an experienced insurance agent who specializes in workers compensation is crucial.

PAYROLL

Your payroll is what it is, and there isn’t anything you can do about it in the WC premium calculation except to make sure that the projected payroll used in the formula is accurate. If you think it’s too high, don’t wait for an audit. Ask your insurer to adjust your payroll number.

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER

This is where you can really make a difference in your workers’ compensation insurance premiums. The experience modifier is a score your individual company receives based on your company’s loss history compared to the average for your industry.

A score of 1.00 is assigned if your loss history is average. If you’ve had a lot more injuries and WC claims than your industry average, your experience modifier will be higher than 1.00. If you have fewer injuries and claims, your score will be lower. 

Try plugging different numbers into that formula, and again, you can see just how much your experience modifier score can affect the cost of your premium. If you can lower your modifier, you can reduce your premiums. The best way to do that is to create a safer working environment for your employees, so there are fewer injuries and fewer claims. This is the reason that we focus so much on safety in this blog.

 

We Specialize in Workers Comp Insurance, so Contact Us for Help

Save-on-WC-Ins-Protection-150American Insuring Group specializes in Workers’ Compensation insurance, and our independent agents will make sure that you get the best possible price on quality workers comp insurance.

How? We diligently compare competing rates among many insurance carriers, and then come back to you with the best deal on the insurance that meets the unique needs of your business.

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

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

Truck Insurance Safety Tips for Drivers on Unfamiliar Roads

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 03, 2019

Follow these truck insurance safety tips when driving your commercial vehicle on unfamiliar roads!As a commercial vehicle driver, you probably travel on unfamiliar roads quite often, and when you’re unfamiliar with the roads, you’re more likely to get lost – an unclear turn, an unexpected accident, bad visibility.

When you get lost, it’s easy to get frustrated and impatient and make bad choices that can lead to accidents – especially when you’re on a tight schedule.

When you’re traveling on a familiar road, you know where that sharp turn is, where traffic tends to back up, and where that unexpected stop sign is located. When you’re on unfamiliar roads, you don’t have those advantages, which makes safe driving practices even more vital 

In fact, the Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that nearly one-quarter of large-truck crashes occurred when CMV drivers were unfamiliar with the roadway.

More accidents mean more injuries, which translates to higher truck insurance costs

Here are 3 tips to help you navigate unfamiliar roads more safely:

1 - Plan Your Route Ahead of Time

Before you get behind the wheel, take a look at a map or your GPS and have your route planned. If you’re driving along and realize you got off track, pull off somewhere safe where you can refer to your map or guidance system to regain your bearings.

It may be tempting to adjust electronic devices while you’re driving. Don’t do it! Taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds can result in an accident, and when you’re driving a 50,000-pound truck, the chances of that accident being severe enough to cause an injury are high.

If you’re transporting hazardous materials, you should also be aware of any route restrictions or designated routes required by state and local townships.

2 - Don’t Make Knee-Jerk Decisions

You’re in the passing lane of the interstate when you notice that you’re about to pass the exit you’re supposed to take. When you realize your mistake, you may be tempted to try to turn onto that exit quickly. Don’t do it! It isn’t worth the chance of causing injury to yourself or another driver. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration NAFTA Safety Stats, almost 50,000 moving violations from 2004 to 2007 were classified as improper turns or improper lane changes.

If you miss a turn, get off at the next exit or go around the block instead of making a knee-jerk decision.  

3 - Communicate With Other Drivers

Let other drivers know in advance what you intend to do – even if that’s just changing lanes – by using your turn signal. A recent study reported that there are approximately 630,000 lane-change crashes annually (involving both large trucks and passenger vehicles).

Here are other ways you can try to communicate with drivers around you:

  • Use your 4-way flashers if you have to pull off to the side of the road or when traffic is unexpectedly stopped in front of you.

  • Toot your horn to sound an alarm and warn another driver of your presence. Please, note that we say “tooting” and not “laying on” your horn. The misuse of a horn has been known to cause road rage, but it is one of the few ways that a driver can get the attention of another driver to prevent an accident.

  • Turn on your headlights. It can make your vehicle more visible especially at night or in bad weather. In fact, some trucks are programmed to have the low beam headlights on whenever the engine is running, and some states require the use of headlights when the windshield wipers are on. So make sure your headlights, turn signals, and brake lights are clean and use your headlights when appropriate.

When you’re driving on unfamiliar roads, it’s even more crucial that you exercise safe driving habits to keep yourself and those around you safe. Lower trucking insurance premiums that go with fewer accidents and claims is just icing on the cake.

Want to Save on Truck Insurance?

Affordable PA truck insurance for truckers in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Allentown, Harrisburg and Reading, PA.American Insuring Group can help you save even more on your trucking insurance. As independent agents, we’re free to shop the market for you among competing insurance carriers. So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to start saving!

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, truck insurance, Trucking Insurance, Safe Driving Tips, Commercial Insurance

3 Workers Comp Insurance Claim Investigation Tips

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 27, 2019

Follow these tips when investigating workers comp insurance claims in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond,Every workers compensation insurance claim should be investigated because it’s imperative to making accurate and legal assessments related to primary liability.

To do that, you need to know a bit about the law and about medicine to create an efficient workers compensation program.

Most business owners lack extensive knowledge of both medicine and the law, so here are 3 valuable tips to help you investigate Workers Compensation (WC) claims. 

1 - First Report of Injury 

This document is the beginning of any WC insurance claim investigation, and it serves as the basis for your insurance company’s investigation making it a critical document to any successful resolution of a WC claim.

The form you use may be issued by your state’s industrial commission or could be company-specific. Whichever type of form you’re using, the information on it needs to be accurate and complete. This is an instance when you do want to sweat the small stuff.

Before submitting this form, make sure it is completely filled out and that the information is correct. Check that the name of the injured employee is spelled correctly; that you have the correct social security number, date of injury, and wage info; and any potential witnesses are listed.

Make sure information about the injury is complete and accurate including when, where, and how the injury occurred, type of injury, the body part affected, and where the injured employee received medical care and treatment.

You should also know who completed the form and even a little background about that person. It’s a balancing act; you need to trust but at the same time verify that all the information is correct.

Often, the space allowed is not enough to provide thorough information, so don’t be afraid to write “see attached” if you need more room to describe the accident including alternate explanations of what did or didn’t occur.

2 - Recorded Statements from Injured Employee and Witnesses

First, make sure you understand the laws in your state regarding recorded statements and that you follow those guidelines. Then you want to obtain as much detail as possible. You should ask questions about:

  • The claimant’s background information such as date of birth, education, work history, etc.
  • The claimant’s prior medical history including surgical history, car accidents, chemical and substance abuse treatment, mental health, etc.
  • Potential interveners such as public assistance, veterans' benefits, unemployment compensation and history, etc.
  • Working environment at the time of the injury such as the claimant’s manager or supervisor, work duties, wage history, verbal and written reprimands, etc.
  • Detailed information about the injury such as a description of injury, immediate injury symptoms, post-injury symptoms, etc.

To help avoid questions regarding the admissibility of the recordings, make sure that the employee reviews and signs a transcribed copy of the statement.

3 – WC Documentation

There are several documents available to you as you delve into a workers’ compensation claim investigation including the following:

  • Medical records and authorizations to discover prior injuries or conditions.
  • Industrial Commission records – Most states keep WC records on file with whatever state agency is responsible for overseeing the WC act. Although you will probably need to get authorization to obtain these records, they can contain a great deal of information about an employee’s prior medical history.
  • Central Index Bureau Records (CIB) or ISO report - Although these reports may not be admissible, they can provide information about prior insurance-related claims made by the injured employee that can lead to other information that is admissible

A thorough Workers Compensation claim investigation takes time and effort but can save you thousands of dollars and reduce your insurance costs. Follow these 3 tips to make the process go more smoothly and lead to quicker and more successful Workers Comp claim resolutions.

 

Save Big on Workers Compensation Insurance!

Contact us for all your PA workers compensation insurance needs.Workers comp insurance can be more affordable than you think!

To learn how you can save big on Workers Compensation Insurance, give the independent experts American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

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

Contractor Insurance and the Main Cause of Construction Injuries

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 20, 2019

How to avoid the main cause of injury in construction, and lower your contractor insurance costThis is the final blog post addressing what OSHA has labeled the “fatal four.” The fatal four are four hazards that are responsible for 63.7% of all construction worker deaths.

Recognizing and preventing these hazards will save lives, improve employee morale, and help reduce insurance costs.

The Fatal Four include the following hazards (statistics are from 2016):

1- Falls accounted for 38.7% of deaths
2- Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4%
3- Electrocutions accounted for 8.3%
4 -Caught-in/between accounted for 7.3%

Today, we’ll be addressing the most common cause of construction site injuries and the leading cause of construction worker deaths – falls.

 

4 Leading Causes of Falls and How to Prevent Them

 

1 - Unprotected edges, wall openings, and floor holes

Falling from a higher level can result in sprains, breaks, concussions, and death. Unprotected edges, wall openings, and floor holes can cause workers to fall from great heights. OSHA requires the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, and/or fall arrest systems when workers are exposed to a fall hazard of six feet or more above a lower level.

Guardrails – the only solution that prevents falls from happening - must be 39 – 45 inches in height from the surface, the top rail must be able to withstand a minimum of 200 pounds and the middle rail 150 pounds.

Safety nets must be placed less than 30 feet below the work area and must extend at least eight feet out from the worksite. Border ropes must have a minimum strength of 5,000 pounds.

Fall arrest systems consist of the anchorage, connecting device, and full-body harness. Arrest systems should be inspected before each use.

Other safety precautions to avoid this type of fall include the following:

  • Before cutting a hole, barricade the work area if possible.
  • Holes should be covered or guarded immediately, and the covers should be able to support two times the weight of employees, materials, and equipment.
  • Clearly mark where there is a hole.

2 - Improper Scaffolding Construction

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accidents involving scaffolding account for approximately 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths in the U.S. every year.  The BLS found that 72% of scaffolding injuries are caused by the planking or support giving way, the lack of guardrails and/or fall protection, and objects falling from overhead.  OSHA requires that employees on scaffolding that is higher than ten feet above a lower level must be protected.

Safety precautions to avoid falling from scaffolding include the following:

  • Construct scaffolding according to manufacturer’s specifications
  • Install guardrails
  • Brace or tie scaffolding to the building if height or width of scaffolding calls for it.
  • Use metal walk boards instead of wood if possible
  • Ensure safe access to and from the platform
  • Follow the load capacity guidelines
  • Wear hard hats and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

3 - Unguarded Protruding Steel Rebars

The chance for injury from a fall from an elevated position increases significantly if protruding steel rebars are left unguarded, and even the simple trip or fall can cause serious injury when steel rebars are left unguarded. Unguarded rebars can cause cuts, abrasions, impalement, and other injuries.

Assess the site for rebar-related hazards. Cap any protruding steel rebars with steel-reinforced rebar caps or wooden troughs or bend the rebar at the very least. Make sure that all employees wear appropriate PPE and those working above rebars wear fall protection.

4 - Misuse of Portable Ladders

Falls from ladders are an all-too-common cause of injury at construction sites. Improperly placed ladders can shift or fall, and workers can slip or lose their balance when working on ladders. To avoid injuries, the proper ladder should always be used for the job, it should be safely positioned on a solid surface, and workers should take their time when working on ladders.

Most accidents with ladders are caused by the following:

  • Incorrect ladder choice
  • Improperly secured ladders
  • Trying to carry tools and equipment while climbing a ladder
  • Lack of attention
  • The condition of the ladder
  • Ladder placement
  • Not taking your time

Safety precautions when using a ladder include the following:

  • Place ladders so the side rails extend at least three feet above the landing
  • Attach the top and bottom of the ladder to something secure to keep it from slipping or falling
  • Use the correct size ladder so that it can be placed at a stable angle
  • Maintain three points of contact when going up or down a ladder
  • Stay near the middle of the ladder
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down 

Imagine if you could eliminate (or at least significantly reduce) falls at your worksites. Nearly 40% of accidents would be eliminated, and you’d be left with happier, safer, and more productive employees and lower insurance costs.

The Quickest Way to Lower Your Contractor Insurance Cost

Contact us to save on Contractor Insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond!Another way to save on construction and contractors insurance is to work with the independent agents at American Insuring Group.

We work with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the very best price on all your Contractor Insurance needs. 

Get started by calling us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

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

Restaurant Insurance Costs and Risk Management

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 13, 2019

Risk Management Tips to Lower Restaurant Insurance Cost in PA, DE, NJ, MDHope for the best, but plan for the worst. This is true in many of life’s endeavors, but perhaps even more so in the food industry. Building a profitable food business doesn’t just happen; it’s a result of a great deal of planning.

The food industry is notorious for high employee turnover, and restaurants are filled with potential hazards. A destructive kitchen fire or nasty lawsuit could be the end of the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

Restaurant insurance is essential to help protect your business when these incidents occur, but if you can prevent them from happening in the first place, that’s even better, and you’ll lower your insurance costs in the process. 

Developing a risk management plan for your restaurant, bar or nightclub is the first step.

Here are three things to consider when creating a risk management plan for your restaurant:

1 – Restaurant Employee Training

Employees can be your greatest asset and your greatest liability. The food industry experiences a turnover rate that is higher than 70 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This high turnover rate often leads to providing minimum training to restaurant employees. Owners and managers figure, “This new employee probably won’t stay here very long; why waste time and resources to train them.” This mentality is understandable, but it’s also a mistake.

Properly training your employees helps keep them safe, your customers safe, and your business secure. After all, your employees are handling much of your restaurant’s day-to-day operations.  Here are two training areas to consider:

Safety Training
Understanding how to work safely is probably the most vital training you can offer especially for any employees working in the kitchen where there is a multitude of hazards. Employees should know how to safely use any tools or equipment they use to avoid personal injury.

They should also understand general safety precautions such as the importance of removing grease from stoves to avoid fires; how to handle, store and prepare food to prevent contamination: and keeping floors clear and dry to avoid falls.

Serving alcohol
If you serve, sell, or furnish alcohol in your restaurant, you could be held liable for any accident, injury or damaged caused by an intoxicated customer. Therefore, it’s vital that any employee serving alcohol knows how to recognize if someone is intoxicated and how to handle them.

2 – Restaurant Building Maintenance

Properly maintaining your property will help keep your employees and customers safe from injuries and your property safe from damage.

Here are some basic building maintenance tips to keep in mind when creating your risk management plan:

Keep it clean
Everything from the kitchen to the dining room should be kept clean. Spills in the dining room should be cleaned up immediately to avoid falls, countertops in the kitchen should be kept clean to prevent food contamination, and ovens and stoves should be regularly cleaned to avoid fires.

Keep it clutter-free
Exits and entrances should always be kept clear in case of an emergency and areas where people walk should be clear of clutter to avoid trips and falls. 

Keep it safe
Keeping up with general building maintenance such as lose railings or broken tile can save you from bigger repair bills and more importantly from injuries and potential lawsuits. 

3 – Restaurant Equipment

There’s a lot of equipment in a restaurant, and you and your employees rely on it to get the job done. It’s crucial that you properly maintain that equipment to avoid equipment breakdown and injuries. Here are a few things to consider:

Heating Units
Heating units such as stoves and heating lamps should be inspected regularly and any issues addressed immediately to avoid injuries and fires.

Refrigeration Units
If your refrigerator breaks down, you risk losing all of the food in it or worse causing food contamination and illness. This can cost you time, money, and more. Inspect your freezers and refrigerators regularly and address any issues immediately.

 

When Plans Fail

Sometimes even the best-laid plans fail, and that’s where insurance can help protect your restaurant business. For example, Workers Compensation Insurance helps pay for medical costs and lost pay to injured employees and protects your company in the event of an employee lawsuit. Liquor Liability Insurance helps pay legal costs in an alcohol-related claim. General Liability Insurance helps pay medical expenses and legal fees if a customer is injured.

Contact the Restaurant Insurance Specialists and Start Saving Today!

Contact us to save on restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster, Reading, Pittsburgh, PA, and beyond!The best way to determine which insurance protections are best for your restaurant is to find an experienced independent agent who specializes in Restaurant Insurance.

Get the best price on reliable coverage by working with our independent agents who will compare costs and coverages among many competing companies. Great coverage at a great price, guaranteed!

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

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Bar Insurance, Nightclub Insurance

5 Questions to Ask about Commercial Truck Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Fri, Jan 04, 2019

Ask your truck insurance agent in PA, NJ, and DE these questions to help you find affordable trucking insuranceAs a business owner, you wear many hats, but let’s face it, you can’t be an expert on every subject. Knowing the right questions to ask someone who is an expert is often key to running a successful business. How to find the best trucker’s liability insurance for your business is a good example.

The first step is finding an experienced and reputable insurance agent that specializes in truck insurance - like the independent agents at American Insuring Group. We’ll find you the right coverage at the best price, and we’re always happy to answer any of your questions.

 

Here are 5 questions to ask your insurance agent about Commercial Truck Insurance:

1 - What is covered - and perhaps even more important – what is NOT covered?

To understand the answer to that question you first need to understand the four basic types of liability insurance available to you:

Primary Auto Liability Insurance is the very minimum insurance you should have on your truck and is required in every state. It covers any damage or injuries to other motorists that result in an accident that is considered your fault. It’s important to make sure that you meet limit requirements on this type of insurance, and it’s often prudent to go beyond the bare minimum.

General Liability Insurance covers your truck when it is not on the road such as when you’re parked on a parking lot, stopping at a restaurant, or loading your vehicle.

Non-owned Trailer Liability & Trailer Interchange covers physical damage to a trailer that you are hauling but do not own while it’s in your possession. This type of insurance is usually not included in your primary or general liability insurance.

Motor Truck Cargo Liability Insurance covers damage to the freight or commodity that you are hauling in the event of things such as fires or accidents.

Because each policy is a little different, it’s important to ask your insurance agent lots of questions about which types of liability insurance you need to protect your assets and then go through what-if scenarios with them.

2 - If I’m in an accident, how do I submit an insurance claim?

You should submit a claim as soon as possible because the faster you file the claim, the faster it can be settled. You can contact the insurance company’s claims department directly or contact your agent to guide you through the process.

3 - If I’m in an accident, how much will my truck insurance policy pay?

This is vital information to know if you want to ensure that you’re adequately covered. You may decide to take a higher deductible to lower your premiums, but you need to understand that this will also reduce the amount you’re paid in the event of an accident. You have to then ask yourself, “Do I have enough cash on hand to cover that deductible?”

4 - Do I have to pay my entire insurance premium at one time?

Most insurance companies offer several options for payment such as making monthly installments rather than paying it all in one lump sum. However, you will save money by paying in full up front. 

5 - How can I save on premiums?

We already mentioned that you could increase your deductible to lower your trucking insurance premiums, but one of the best ways to reduce your insurance costs is to decrease the number of claims you make by carefully vetting and training your drivers. Driving records and credit scores can affect how much you pay for insurance, and well-trained drivers can reduce the number of claims, which will also affect your premiums. 

 

Take the First Step to Save on Truck Insurance Today!

Contact us today to save on truck insurance in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, PA, NJ, DE and far beyond.Another great way to save money on your insurance premiums is to work with an independent insurance agent like American Insuring Group. We will analyze pricing and coverage among many competing insurance carriers to deliver the right coverage at the best price for your particular needs.  

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

You can also learn more about  your Commercial Trucking Insurance options on our website.

Tags: Trucking Insurance, truck insurance, Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Comply with OSHA and Save on Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Fri, Dec 21, 2018
Following OSHA's rules and guidelines can help you save on workers comp insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, PA and far beyondThe Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has a lot of rules and regulations for business owners, and sometimes, those rules and regulations seem like nothing but a nuisance. However, not complying with them, can result in hefty fines.

The good news is that OSHA’s intention is to protect employees from workplace injuries; therefore, following OSHA’s rules can help create a safer work environment for your employees and, in turn, lower your workers compensation insurance premiums.

We’re here to help you better understand OSHA, its rules and regulations, and to help your business comply with them.

About OSHA


OSHA, established in 1971, is a government agency that is part of the US Department of Labor. Its primary purpose is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” OSHA’s rules and regulations cover most private sector employers and their workers along with some public sector workers.

Since OSHA was established, workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths have decreased significantly. “Although accurate statistics were not kept at the time, it is estimated that in 1970 around 14,000 workers were killed on the job. That number fell to approximately 4,340 in 2009,” according to OSHA. “At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled and now includes over 130 million workers at more than 7.2 million worksites. Since the passage of the OSH Act, the rate of reported serious workplace injuries and illnesses has declined from 11 per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.6 per 100 workers in 2009.”

Fewer workplace injuries and illnesses not only lower insurance premiums, but they also create healthier workplaces and happier employees.

 

OSHA Employer Responsibilities

As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe workplace that is free from OSHA-recognized hazards. Here are three ways to do that:

  • Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
  • Establish and update operating procedures and safety training and make sure your employees understand them.
  • Ensure that employees have safe tools and equipment that is properly maintained.

It is also your responsibility to follow OSHA requirements, which include the following:

  • Post the OSHA poster that informs employees of their rights and responsibilities in a prominent location.
  • Report all work-related injuries to the nearest OSHA office within eight hours.
  • Keep records of all work-related injuries and illnesses and ensure that employees and their representatives can easily obtain employee medical records.
  • Post and correct cited OSHA violations.

OSHA also encourages all employers to adopt an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Click here to learn more about your OSHA responsibilities.

 

Employee Complaints

There are two main types of complaints employees can file with OSHA against your company as his or her employer:

Safety and health complaint
If an employee believes their work environment is unsafe or detrimental to their health, they can file a confidential report with OSHA requesting an inspection of their workplace.

Protection from retaliation complaint
If an employee who submits a complaint to OSHA feels they have been retaliated against, they can file this type of complaint with OSHA.

Your best defense against both of these complaints is to do your best to create a safe work environment, follow OSHA’s rules and regulations, and keep an open line of communication with your employees.


OSHA Inspections

OSHA can inspect your worksite for any number of reasons including a complaint from an employee; after a severe injury or illness; a referral of a hazard from another federal, state, or local agency, or individual; or if you’re in a high-hazard industry or have experienced a high rate of injuries.

Typically, employers are not notified of an inspection in advance; however, understanding the process can take some of the stress out of the experience.

Preparation
Before conducting an inspection, OSHA compliance officers research the inspection history of the worksite.

Opening Conference
The compliance officer will explain why OSHA selected the workplace for inspection and describe the scope of the inspection, walkaround procedures, employee representation and employee interviews. Both the employer and employee can have a representative accompany the officer during the inspection.

Walkaround
The compliance officer and the representatives will then walk through the portions of the workplace covered by the inspection, inspecting for OSHA violations and hazards that could lead to employee injury or illness.

Closing Conference
After the walkaround, the compliance officer holds a closing conference with the employer and the employee representatives to discuss their findings.


Start Saving on Workers Compensation Insurance Today


Understanding OSHA’s rules and regulations can help keep your employees safer, reduce the chance of an inspection and potential fines, and reduce workers comp insurance costs.

Your Trusted Choice Independent workers compensation insurance agents in PennsylvaniaTo learn how your business can save on workers compensation and all other commercial insurance costs, call our experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Our independence allows us to compare coverage from competing insurance carriers, so you can be confident of receiving the best deal on the right protection for your business in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown and far beyond!

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

The Right Way to Insure Food Trucks

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 09, 2018

Insurance tips for your food truck businessIn 2015, the food truck industry was valued at $856.7 million, and it is expected to grow to $996.2 million by 2020. There are many reasons for this growth including the seemingly easy entry into the restaurant business that it provides.

Low Start Up Costs

You can purchase a food truck for as little as a few thousand dollars, but like any business, it’s imperative that you protect your assets and your business. One way to protect both is with the right insurance.

Insuring a food truck can be a little tricky because it has many of the risks associated with commercial vehicles as well as those associated with restaurant insurance, not to mention all the risks that all businesses face, plus a few that are unique to the food truck industry.

4 Unique Risks

For example, it is more difficult to regulate temperatures on a food truck, which can increase the risk of food contamination and food poisoning. Plus, the small food prep area in food trucks create a greater chance of accidentally exposing customerswith food allergies to allergens. Slip and fall injuries can occur both inside and outside of a food truck, and trucks can be easier to break into than brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Another consideration is Workers Compensation Insurance. In Pennsylvania, It is required for most – but not all - businesses with employeesto have WC insurance. If you fall into the “not all” category, you may be tempted to forego WC coverage to “save money.” But kitchens can be dangerous places where injuries can happen, and medical bills can quickly add up to significantly more than the money you saved.

Don’t Skimp on Insurance

It may be tempting to try to save money by only purchasing the minimum insurance required by law or by the venue where you park your truck, but that minimum may not be enough to protect your business.

For example, many festivals require a minimum $1 million in general liability coverage. You can purchase liability insurance to cover just that event, but then you leave your business open to risks when it’s not at the event. Plus, buying insurance on an event-by-event basis can be significantly more expensive than purchasing it on a yearly basis.

If you keep the big picture in mind when purchasing insurance for your food truck, you allow your business the flexibility and freedom it may need to grow along with the protection you need to stay in business.

To ensure that you have the proper protection, it is best to consult with an independent insurance agent who specializes in food truck and restaurant insurance. We can help determine any mandated minimum insurance requirements along with any additional risks your business may face.

  

Here are some of the types of insurance to consider for your food truck business:

 

1 - General Liability Insurance

This insurance protects your business from lawsuits or claims made by third parties including physical injury, property damage, and legal fees.

2 - Commercial Auto Insurance

This insurance helps cover risks while you are driving your food truck. If you are in an auto accident, it helps cover the cost of medical, repair, and legal expenses.

3 - Business Owner’s Insurance

This insurance combines business content coverage and general liability insurance to cover both lawsuits and damage to your property, and it usually costs less than buying property and general liability coverage separately.  

4 - Worker’s Compensation Insurance

This insurance pays for medical expenses, lost wages, and lawsuits if one of your employees is hurt on the job. 

5 - Additional Insurance

Other types of commercial insurance you may want to consider include…

  • Umbrella Insurance, which goes above the normal limits covered by your liability and auto policies
  • Food Spoilage Insurance, which covers you if your food spoils due to equipment breakdown, mechanical failure, or power outage
  • Loss of Income Insurance, which covers some of your income if your food truck is damaged, and you’re unable to continue operations.

  

Do it Right! Contact Us for Help in Making a Smart Decision

Contact us about food truck insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, PA and more.If you aren’t absolutely sure what you need to properly protect your food truck business, give the independent insurance agents at American Insuring Group a call.

We specialize in restaurant and food truck insurance and can help you sift through all your risks and options in order to properly protect your business. Simply contact us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or click here to contact us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Food Truck Insurance, Business Insurance, Small Business Insurance, Commercial Vehicle Insurance

Contractor Insurance & Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 02, 2018

Use these safety tips to reduce the risk of electrocution on construction sites!A few weeks ago we introduced you to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Fatal Four – four safety hazards that account for the majority of all construction worker deaths (click here for our post).

Understanding how to recognize and prevent these hazards can save lives, improve employee morale, and help reduce contractor insurance costs.

The Fatal Four include the following hazards (statistics are from 2016).

  • Falls accounted for 38.7% of deaths
  • Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4%
  • Electrocutions accounted for 8.3%
  • Caught-in/between accounted for 7.3%

We covered caught-in/between hazards in our prior post, and will now turn our attention to electrocution hazards. 

 

Electrocution – Death by Electrical Shock

Exposure to lethal amounts of electrical energy causes electrocution, which is death by electric shock. The human body acts as a conductor when it comes in contact with an electrical current and electricity flows through conductors to create complete a circuit.

Exposure to as little as 50-100 mill amperes of current can cause death by electrocution. Most 120 Volt circuits carry 15-20 amperes of current, which is 300 times what is needed to kill someone by electrocution.

Electrical hazards can cause electric shock, electrocution, burns, arc flash or blast, fires, and explosions, which can lead to severe injuries or death. Common causes for electric-related injuries include getting too close to overhead and underground power wires, damaged equipment, faulty wiring, improper cord use, lack of GCFIs, and wet or cramped conditions.

According to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health, the major causes of electrocutions in electrical workers and other construction workers in the U.S. between 1992 and 2003 included the following:

  • Electrical wiring and equipment (accounted for the majority of deaths among electrical workers)
  • Overhead power lines (accounted for the majority of the deaths among non-electrical construction workers)
  • Machinery, appliances

Unaware of the Risks

Many construction workers are not aware of potential electrical hazards, which makes them more vulnerable, and it is your responsibility to make your employees aware. OSHAstates, "The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury."

According to OSHA, these the most frequently cited electrical standards involving electrical hazards in construction: 

  • General requirements for electrical conductors and equipment
  • Wiring design and protection
  • Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
  • General requirements for protection of employees

 

Electrical Safety Measures That Can Lead to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs 

1 - Overhead Power Lines

Both overhead and underground power lines carry a high voltage. Injuries with power lines are often caused by contact with heavy equipment, ladders, lifts, etc.

The best way to avoid this hazard is to be aware of the location of power lines and maintain a safe distance. OSHA’s minimum clearance distance from overhead power lines is 2 feet for less than 300 volts, 10 feet for 300-50,000 volts, and 10 feet plus 4 inches for every 10,000 volts over 5,000 volts. This area should be cordoned off. If you have no choice but to work around power lines, contact the utility company to have the lines de-energized.

Other precautions include using nonconductive tools and equipment and avoiding the storage material directly underneath power lines. 

2 - Ground-Fault Protection 

According to OSHA, all 120-volt single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacle outlets that are not part of the permanent wiring of the structure that employees use must have ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). A GFCI is a fast-acting circuit breaker that shuts of electricity when it senses small imbalances in the circuit. GFCIs only protect against the ground fault, but that is the most common form of electric shock hazard. It also protects against fires, overheating, and destruction of insulation on wiring.

3 - Lockout/Tagout Procedures

This procedure requires that a designated individual be assigned to make sure that all machinery and equipment are turned off and disconnected before performing service or maintenance. That individual will also lock or tag the energy-isolating device(s) to prevent the release of hazardous energy and take steps to verify that the energy has been isolated effectively.

Following this procedure helps safeguard employees from the unexpected energization of hazardous energy during service or maintenance. A qualified person should also be on hand when the locks and tags are removed, and the equipment is re-energized. 

4 - Maintain Cords

There are a lot of portable tools that make life much easier at a construction site, and most of these tools come with flexible cords. These cords can be damaged by staples, rubbing against other objects, or by age. If the electrical conductors become exposed, those cords can become a hazard causing shocks, burns, or even fire. It’s important to regularly inspect all equipment and extension cords for cuts, frays, or exposed bare wires.  

5 – Other Safety Measures

Other safety measures to reduce injuries associated with electrical work include the use of insulation, guarding, electrical protective devices, and compliance with OSHA’s regulations on electrical safety. OSHAoffers many resources to help ensure the safety of your workers.

The safer your employees, the lower your insurance costs. It’s a win-win!

 

Don't Miss This Easy Way to Save on Contractor / Construction Insurance!

Save on contractor insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Lebanon, Harrisburg, and more.A great way to lower your contractor insurance costs is to simply contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Our independent agents will compare the cost of your construction insurance options among several reliable insurance companies to make sure that you’re getting the right coverage at the best price!

Call today to get started.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Business Insurance

Quicker Workers Comp Insurance Claim Reporting

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 25, 2018

Faster reporting of workers comp insurance claims is good for businesses in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster, Reading, and beyond!Any good Workers Compensation Insurance (WC) program includes a strategy to ensure quick reporting of injuries and WC claims. 

Claims that are reported quickly are easier to evaluate and determine primary liability. The longer you wait, the more difficult that becomes. 

Therefore, learning how to shorten the reporting time should be a major goal when it comes to your Workers Comp program. 

Here are six tips you can take to help ensure that claims are reported quickly:

1 - Educate Management

Too often, the reason an injury isn’t reported promptly is that management and staff are unsure how to report the injury. Make sure that management knows the specific process for reporting injuries including a contact person to make sure the injury is filed quickly. Your WC insurance carrier and third-party administrators should be able to assist you with that information.

2 - Educate New Employees

All new employees should be made aware of your company’s WC process including written documentation of your WC insurer and other contact information along with written documentation regarding how work injuries should be reported and the information an injured employee will need to report that injury.

It should also be made clear to all new employees that your company places an emphasis on safety and reporting injuries promptly and that injured employees will not be penalized in any way.

3 - Keep Employees Informed

Good communication is the key to any good WC program, so it’s important that you keep your employees informed about your company’s WC process both before and after an injury occurs. This might include posters, safety meetings, etc.

You should also issue and post quarterly safety reports. State industrial commissions usually require this; however, you would do well to go beyond the minimum requirements. Those reports should highlight safety improvements within the workplace, so employees understand the critical role they play in keeping their workplace safe. 

4 - Create a Company-Wide Culture of Safety

A good WC program focuses on creating a culture of compliance and consistency where the emphasis is on creating a safe workplace and when an injury does occur that it is reported quickly, honestly, and ethically. For workers to buy into this type of culture, it needs to include senior-level leaders. Without the full support of upper management, the culture will break down. 

5 - Eliminate Accident-Free Incentives

Accident-Free incentives – where employees receive a cash incentive for a certain number of accident-free days - are well-intentioned and often look like a good idea on the surface. The idea is that employees will be incentivized to work safely to receive the reward.

However, studies have shown that this type of incentive ends up making employees feel as if they can’t report their workplace injury. If you want to provide employees with an incentive, a metric that encourages timely reporting of workplace injuries is a better idea.

6 - Make it Easy for Employees to Report Injuries

Technology offers many opportunities for employers to make it easier for employees to report injuries, which means WC claims are reported more quickly. Technology can also allow employees to provide more detail about their accident along with relevant documentation.

Because most employees today have smartphones, a good option is an app. These apps are affordable and easy to implement. Features that are included with most of these apps include the ability to upload the first report of injury to the employer, insurer, and other stakeholders; easy communication between the claims management staff and the injured worker; and payment status and direct deposit of indemnity benefits. 

 

Ready to Save on Great Workers Comp Insurance?

Contact us to save on PA Workers Compensation Insurance!The agents at American Insuring Group can help you set up a Workers Compensation plan that promotes quick reporting of injuries, which can lead to more successful resolution of WC claims. PLUS, we can help you save a bundle on great insurance!

Don’t wait - call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 to learn more, or contact us online.

 

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