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What Contractors Need to Know About Certificates of Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 24, 2024

Contact us to learn more about certificates of contractor insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Erie, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Reading, Harrisburg, State College, and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.Contractor Insurance is crucial to protect your business financially, provide credibility to your business, and put the minds of the individuals you're working with - such as owners and general contractors - at ease.

Construction sites are riddled with hazards – sharp objects, moving vehicles, etc. - that can cause damage or injury. Insurance helps for damage or injuries that occur. Owners, general contractors, and others want to protect themselves from being held liable for injuries and damages that are not their fault, so they want to ensure that anyone they work with also has adequate insurance.

For example, suppose a general contractor hires a plumber, and the plumber installs a leaky faucet that causes damage. In that case, the subcontractor's insurance should help pay for the damages caused by their work.

This is why a certificate of insurance (COI) is essential to any construction business.

What is a Certificate of Insurance?

"A certificate of insurance (COI) is a document issued by an insurance company or broker. The COI verifies the existence of an insurance policy and summarizes the key aspects and conditions of the policy," Investopedia explains. "Small business owners and contractors typically require a COI that grants protection against liability for workplace accidents or injuries to conduct business."

The following information is typically included on a COI:

  • Name of the insurer or insurers providing the coverage
  • Insurance agent or broker's contact info
  • Name and address of the insured party
  • Name and contact info of the certificate holder
  • Name of any additional insured parties
  • Policy number
  • Type of coverage
  • Amount of coverage
  • Coverage description
  • Policy's expiration date

What's the Difference Between an Insurance Policy and a Certificate of Insurance?

A COI is a brief summary of the main details of an insurance policy used to show proof of insurance or to show that a third party is named as an additional insured. An insurance policy is a detailed contract that is much more detailed than a COI. It includes information about the terms and conditions of the policy, covered perils, exclusions, etc. If you have any questions or need to file a claim, the insurance policy will provide most of the information you need.

Who Will Ask for a COI?

COIs may be requested by the following:

  • General contractors
  • Property Owners
  • Clients
  • Suppliers
  • Government agencies, when you bid on a job with them
  • Businesses you're leasing equipment from
  • Banks and lenders

When Should You Request a COI?

Whenever you're working with a third party, and there is a chance of damage or injury that is not your fault – a faulty product or shoddy workmanship from a specialty contractor - you should request a COI to help ensure that you are not held liable for the damage or injury. For example, if you're a general contractor hiring a subcontractor (electrician, plumber, etc.), you should request a COI. Both general contractors and subcontractors should also ask for COIs from any vendors they work with.

Notes About COIs:

  • When you receive a COI, you must review all the information to ensure accuracy.
  • The certificate holder is the party receiving the COI from the party insured. Being listed as a certificate holder does not provide any protection under the policy. Only the policyholder and additional insured parties listed receive protection under the policy listed on the COI.
  • A COI shows that a policy is in effect on the date and time it was issued. Unscrupulous businesses may cancel the policy after the COI is issued. Therefore, verifying with the insurer or insurers that the party still has insurance with appropriate policy limits is always a good idea.
  • You should organize and retain all COIs indefinitely.

Don't Overpay For Contractor Insurance!

American Insuring Group will perform an in-depth review of your business to determine your specific insurance coverage needs and then compare the cost of that coverage with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price on quality Contractor Insurance.

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

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractual Risk Transfer

5 Common Mistakes Landlords Make

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 17, 2024

Avoid landlord mistakes and save on landlord insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and throughout Pennsylvania.Investing in rental property and becoming a landlord is a viable income stream for many Americans. According to Doorloop, approximately 17.1 million properties generate income in the U.S., earning as much as $97,000 annually (more than $35,000 above the median household income).

However, landlords need to make intelligent decisions, avoid mistakes, and protect their investments with Landlord Insurance to make that kind of income. Simply buying a property, making a few renovations, and renting it out – without taking necessary precautions – can lead to financial loss and more problems.

5 Common Mistakes Landlords Make

1. Not Properly Screening Tenants

When you rent out your property, you are handing it over to a stranger; therefore, it's imperative that you properly screen all tenants before handing over the keys. Although you may be concerned about quickly renting out your property and avoiding vacancies, you need to do whatever you can to help ensure that your tenants will pay their rent on time and not trash your property.

Stessa recommends the following steps when screening applicants:

  • Set minimum applicant requirements
  • Request a completed rental application
  • Run credit, rental history, and background check
  • Speak with current employer and landlord
  • Interview the applicant
  • Review all applicants

2. Not Budgeting for Vacancies

Most rental property owners compare their monthly costs with anticipated rental income to determine their profit. Many rely on rental income to pay all or part of their monthly mortgage payments. However, some fail to budget for months when the unit is vacant and providing zero income.

How often your rental property will be vacant and for how long varies greatly depending on the area, the economy, the condition of your property, etc., but it's safe to say that your property will be vacant at some point.

Therefore, when estimating your cash flow, always estimate for months with zero-dollar income from your rental property and ensure that you can continue to pay your mortgage, property taxes, maintenance costs, etc., when (not if) that happens.

3. Neglecting Property and Tenants

Although rental income is considered passive income, that doesn't mean that you can be passive when it comes to your property and tenants. You must ensure that your property is appropriately maintained to comply with the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act, avoid injuries that can lead to lawsuits, and keep minor issues (a leaky faucet) from becoming more expensive repairs (replacing flooring). Landlords should regularly inspect their rental properties to watch for maintenance issues and perform routine maintenance (such as replacing air filters, testing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, checking fire extinguishers, etc.).

You should also regularly check in with your tenants to ensure there aren't any issues that need to be addressed.

4. Not Treating it Like a Business

Too many landlords treat their rental property like a hobby. To be successful (enjoying an income and avoiding unnecessary headaches), you must treat your rental property like a business. That means conducting market research before purchasing a property, keeping records (financial, maintenance, etc.), estimating costs, building a financial reserve, having a marketing strategy, enforcing the lease, knowing when and how to evict a tenant, etc.

5. Not Getting the Right Landlord Insurance

One of the biggest mistakes many new landlords make – especially if they're renting out a single-family home – is to assume their homeowner's insurance policy will protect them if the rental property incurs damage or someone is injured on the property. Insurance is all about risk, and renting your home to someone else increases risk; therefore, most standard homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage or injuries if you rent your property to someone else.

The right Landlord Insurance fits your specific needs and helps protect your property and so much more.

Don't Pay Too Much for Landlord Insurance!

As Landlord Insurance specialists, the agents at American Insuring Group understand your unique concerns and insurance needs to ensure you get the right insurance coverage. As independent agents, we compare your insurance coverage with multiple competing insurance providers to ensure you get the best price on quality coverage. 

Call (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Landlord Insurance

Lower Truck Insurance With Pre and Post-Trip Inspections

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 10, 2024

We can help you lower your truck insurance. costs in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie, and throughout PA. Call today. In 2022, there were 168,320 truck accidents, with 76,180 people injured. In 4,766 of these accidents, one or more people died. These accidents cost trucking companies millions of dollars annually, which is why Commercial Truck Insurance is crucial. However, if you want to keep your insurance premiums in check, you need to take steps to minimize the risk of your truck being in an accident.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Large Truck Crash Causation Study, approximately 10% of accidents involving large trucks are caused by an issue with the vehicle. Pre- and post-trip inspection can help lower the risk of these accidents, reducing truck insurance and other costs. Furthermore, pre and post-trip inspections, along with a Daily Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR), are required by Federal Motor Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

What is a Pre- and Post-Trip Inspection?

Experts explain, "A pre-trip inspection is a thorough check of your vehicles before they hit the road to ensure everything is working properly. These inspections are designed to detect any potential malfunctions or failure points on the vehicle to both keep your drivers safe and prevent expensive repairs.

"These inspections can be performed by your mechanics before the drivers head out for the day and by the drivers themselves before they get behind the wheel. They should be performed every day that your vehicles are on the road and logged into a central database where they can be accessed and reviewed regularly."

Benefits of Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections

The benefits of pre-and post-trip inspections go beyond lowering Truck Insurance costs. They also help…

  • Ensure your trucks are running efficiently and at peak performance
  • Minimize the risk of breakdowns by spotting mechanical problems early
  • Prevent minor issues from becoming more expensive repairs
  • Keep your drivers and others safe
  • Keep vehicles from going out of service and drivers on the road
  • Maintain compliance with the law
  • Save money – insurance costs, more extensive repairs, lawsuits, legal fines, etc.
  • Reduce liability
  • Assist in claim investigations
  • Avoid negative publicity

Pre- and Post-Inspection Tips

Smart Trucking offers a comprehensive pre-inspection guide for truck drivers, but here are some things to check:

  • Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
  • Parking brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lights, reflectors, and signals
  • Tires
  • Suspension
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Fluid levels
  • Belts and hoses
  • Electrical and air lines
  • Gauges
  • Air brake warning system
  • Seat belts
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rear vision mirrors
  • Emergency equipment
  • Applicable paperwork

Additional Tips:

  • Use a calibrated tire gauge (not the kick test)
  • Double and triple-check the brakes because 30% of vehicle component failure truck accidents are attributed to brake problems.
  • Develop a routine for pre- and post-inspections.
  • Budget at least 10-15 minutes.
  • Keep accurate logs.
  • Report potential problems immediately.

More Tips to Keep Your Vehicles Safe and at Peak Performance

Keeping your trucks safe and at peak performance should be an ongoing process and not end with the pre- and post-inspection. Here are some additional tips:

  • Inspect your vehicle when you stop for fuel (some drivers are required to do this by law).
  • Use all of your senses while driving to detect problems – listen for odd noises, pay attention to unusual odors, and notice if the handling or braking seems off.
  • Regularly change the oil.
  • Replace brakes about every 50,000 miles.

Don't Overpay For Truck Insurance!

The Truck Insurance experts at American Insuring Group ensure you get the right insurance coverage for your specific needs. As independent agents, we compare the cost of that coverage with multiple  insurance companies to make sure that you don't overpay for Truck Insurance!

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

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, truck insurance, commercial vehicle insuarance, Trucking Insurance

Business Travel and Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 03, 2024

Contact us to learn more about business travel and workers comp insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Allentown, Reading, Lebanon, and throughout Pennsylvania.Workers' Comp Insurance is designed to help pay medical costs for workers injured while on the job. However, approximately 1.3 million business trips are taken daily in the U.S., and whether or not employees are covered under Workers' Comp when traveling can be a bit murky.

What is Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Insurance?

"Workers' Compensation (WC) is 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," according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. "The workers' compensation system provides an 'exclusive remedy' to employers and employees and is designed to simultaneously achieve the goals of safer workplaces, prompt compensation and treatment of those it protects, and reduced litigation costs to all parties."

Failure to provide WC coverage for employees can lead to heavy fines and civil and criminal prosecution.

What is a Work-Related Injury or Disease?

"If you are injured in Pennsylvania, you are entitled to Workers' Compensation benefits if the injury occurred while you were in the course and scope of employment," one attorney explains. "However, the 'course and scope' issue is not always that simple, and in fact, is the basis for a lot of Workers' Compensation litigation." 

WC claims for injuries that occur on the clock on the job site are typically relatively cut and dry. For example, if an employee is injured while using equipment at work, that is generally considered a work-related injury and covered under Workers' Comp. If an employee develops carpal tunnel syndrome after keying in data for years at work, that is probably a work-related injury covered under Workers' Comp.

That "course and scope of employment" can make WC claims a bit complicated. For example, what if an employee is injured in an accident on his way to or from an employer-sponsored event? What if an employee is injured while running an errand for their boss? Whether or not these are examples of injuries that occurred during the "course and scope of employment" thereby covered by WC is not always clear.

Typically, the following examples are covered under Workers' Comp:

  • Injuries that occur when traveling between job sites.
  • Injuries that occur while running an errand at the request of the employer.
  • Injuries that occur while traveling to or from a training session, conference, meeting, or similar work-related event.
  • When travel is an integral job duty (i.e., couriers and delivery drivers).

An injury that occurs while commuting to and from work is typically not covered by WC Insurance.

Considerations for determining if an injury occurred in the course and scope of employment:

  • Did the injury occur while the employee was furthering the employer's interests?
  • Who requested that a service be performed?
  • Was the task being performed a regular task?
  • Did the employee extend their trip for personal benefit?
  • Was the employee engaging in illegal or prohibited activities?
  • Was the employee engaged in activities unrelated to business?
  • Was the employee driving while intoxicated?

There are many nuances courts look at when determining whether or not an injury is compensable. For example, if an employee is injured while getting lunch, they are typically not covered under WC insurance. However, they are usually covered if they also pick up lunch for the boss.

Minimizing Risk

You can't eliminate all risks to your employees, but here are some tips for minimizing the risk of injuries while traveling for work:

  • Make social events optional.
  • Only send employees on business trips when necessary.
  • Avoid sending employees on errands.
  • Limit the use of company vehicles for work only.
  • If an employee is traveling internationally for work, check the laws in the country they're traveling to.

Don't Overpay for Workers' Compensation Insurance!

At American Insuring Group, we offer cost-effective worker's compensation insurance from various competing insurance companies. We'll work hard to get you the best price on quality insurance to protect your employees and business.

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

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp, Commercial General Liability Insurance

Respiratory Protection for Contractors

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 27, 2024

Use Respiratory Protection to help save on Contractor Insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie, and all across Pennsylvania.Complying with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard will help keep workers safe, help you avoid fines, and lower Contractor Insurance costs. Construction workers can be exposed to harmful airborne contaminants, such as dust, smoke, gases, fumes, solvent vapors, and mists. These contaminants can cause respiratory issues, cancers, disease, or death.

This is why NIOSH sets Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs) for airborne contaminants, and OSHA sets legally enforceable Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) that employers must comply with.

Employer Responsibility

Employers are responsible for ensuring these airborne contaminants are eliminated, that engineering controls are in place, and/or that appropriate respiratory protection is provided. Employees need to be trained on the proper use, fit, maintenance, and storage of respirators.

OSHA requires employers to do the following:

  • Ensure that only NIOSH-certified respirators, “with the proper design for the application,” are used

  • Ensure that respirators are used and maintained properly

  • Ensure that workers are not exposed to contaminants that the respirator is not designed to protect them from

  • Keep track of respirators

Types of Respiratory Protection

“There are two main types of respiratory protection—air-purifying respirators (APRs) and atmosphere-supplying respirators (ASRs). Each respirator type provides a different level of protection based on its design.

Therefore, choosing the right type of respirator for the specific exposure is important. To do that, you must identify all respiratory hazards in your environment and the amount of exposure,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains. “Additionally, each type of respirator has an assigned protection factor (APF). This indicates the level of protection you can expect to receive from that respirator.”

Air-Purifying Respirators

“APRs use filters, cartridges, or canisters to remove gases, vapors, aerosols, or a combination of contaminants from the air,” according to the CDC. They do not supply an additional source of oxygen.

Types of APRs include the following:

  • Filtering Facepiece Respirator (FFR) – the most commonly used respirator

  • Elastomeric half mask respirator (EHMR)

  • Elastomeric full facepiece respirator

  • Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) 

Atmosphere-Supplying Respirators

“Atmosphere-supplying respirators provide clean breathing air from a source independent of the work area. These respirators will protect wearers from many types of airborne contaminants (particles, gases, and vapors) and, in certain cases, oxygen-deficient atmospheres,” the CDC explains.

Types of ASRs include the following:

  • Supplied-air respirators (SARs)

  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs)

  • Combination SARs/SCBAs

Silica Dust – The Most Prevalent Contaminant in Construction

In construction, silica dust, AKA respirable crystalline silica, is one of the most prevalent airborne contaminants. According to OSHA, approximately 2.3 million American workers are exposed to silica dust - a common mineral found in the earth and materials such as sand, concrete, stone, mortar, and stone. It is used to make glass, bricks, artificial stone, and more.

“Respirable crystalline silica – very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand you might find on beaches and playgrounds – is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar,” OSHA explains. ”Activities such as abrasive blasting with sand; sawing brick or concrete; sanding or drilling into concrete walls; grinding mortar; manufacturing brick, concrete blocks, stone countertops, or ceramic products; and cutting or crushing stone result in worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust.”

Concrete workers, masons, tile workers, road construction workers, site preparation workers, and drywall workers are most likely to be exposed to silica dust and, therefore, need to be protected from it.

“NIOSH recommends the use of half-facepiece particulate respirators with N95 or better filters for airborne exposures to crystalline silica at concentrations less than or equal to 0.5 mg/m3,” according to the CDC. “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also specifies the use of at least a 95-rated filter efficiency [29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.134].”

Protect Your Workers and Your Business With the Right Contractor Insurance

The right insurance helps protect your workers and your business, but you don’t want to pay more than you need to. American Insuring Group is a Trusted Choice independent insurance agency. That means we can check the cost of your coverage with many competing insurance brands to ensure you pay the lowest premium.

Ready to save? Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

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

How to Minimize Landlord Liability

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 20, 2024

Learn to minimize liability to save on Landlord Insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Lancaster, Lebanon, and throughout Pennsylvania.Being a landlord can be financially rewarding; however, to be successful, landlords need to understand potential liability issues, take actions to prevent them, and ensure they have the right Landlord Insurance. Liability issues can come in many forms.

7 Common Landlord Liability Issues

  1. Criminal Activity
    If a landlord's negligence, such as failing to provide proper locks on doors and windows, allows criminal activity to occur, they may be held liable. If the landlord is aware of recent illegal activity on or near the property and doesn't warn their tenants, they could be held responsible for any subsequent criminal activity.

  2. Injuries
    If a landlord fails to maintain common areas properly and someone incurs an injury, the landlord may be held liable. For example, a landlord fails to remove snow and ice from the property's walkway, and someone slips, falls, and breaks their leg.

  3. Negligence
    In Pennsylvania, landlords can be liable for negligent maintenance, such as mold exposure, vermin, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  4. Dogs and Other Pets
    Allowing pets can increase income and create a bigger potential tenant pool but also raises a landlord's liability. For example, if the landlord knows that a tenant's dog is dangerous, they can be held liable for injuries caused by that dog.

  5. Invasion of Privacy
    A landlord's need to enter a unit and a tenant's need for privacy are sometimes in conflict, creating invasion of privacy issues. If a tenant feels a landlord invaded their privacy, they may sue them.

  6. Libel or Slander,
    "Libel involves the act of publishing a statement about an individual, either in written form or by broadcast over media platforms such as radio, television, or the Internet, that is untrue and threatens to harm the reputation and/or livelihood of the targeted person," Investopedia. In contrast, slander refers to "unwritten or unpublished defamatory speech." If a tenant feels their landlord committed libel or slander against them, they may try to hold them accountable.

  7. Housing Discrimination
    The Fair Housing Act is "the federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate in any housing-related transaction based on seven protected classes," which include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status. If a landlord violates that law, they could be taken to court.

7 Tips to Mitigate Landlord Liability Issues

  1. Be Aware
    Be aware of what is happening within your property and the neighborhood so you can take appropriate action if needed.

  2. Take Safety Precautions
    Safety precautions may include a security system, better locks, or outdoor lighting.

  3. Create a Comprehensive Lease
    Every potential liability issue should be addressed in the lease, who is and isn't responsible for different scenarios should be spelled out, and the lease should be reviewed and signed by the landlord and tenant.

  4. Screen Potential Tenants
    "When you screen a prospective tenant, you are doing your due diligence to ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk for liability. By screening tenants, you can reduce the chances of being sued by someone who was injured on your property or had their personal information stolen," experts "This also helps to protect your current tenants from harm."

  5. Regularly Inspect the Property
    As you walk around your property, look for any issues, such as burnt-out light bulbs, broken locks, and crumbling walkways, and make repairs before they become a liability issue.

  6. Properly Maintain Property
    Investing in regular property maintenance provides many benefits, such as getting higher rent, preventing more costly repairs, and minimizing the risk of litigation.

  7. Get the Right Landlord Insurance
    Landlord Insurance is a type of homeowner's insurance that covers damage to your rental property and helps protect you against any lawsuits related to the property. Requiring your tenants to have renters' insurance can lower your liability risk.

Protect Yourself Against Liability and Other Risks With the Right Landlord Insurance

American Insuring Group offers comprehensive landlord insurance to cover a range of risks, from property damage to liability claims. Our affordable policies protect your investment and give you peace of mind. We get you the best price on landlord insurance by comparing competing insurance companies for you!

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

Tags: Landlord Insurance, Commercial General Liability Insurance

How to Minimize the Risk of Cargo Theft

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 13, 2024

Reduce cargo theft and save on Truck Insurance in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Reading, York, and throughout PA.Cargo theft can increase Commercial Truck Insurance and other costs, and 2023 was a good year for thieves but a lousy year for trucking companies when it comes to cargo theft. In the second quarter of 2023, there were 566 cargo theft incidents in the U.S., a “57% year-over-year increase compared to 2022,” according to FreightWaves. The total value of those thefts was $44 million in goods, with the average shipment value per event at $260,703.

What is Cargo Theft?

The FBI defines cargo theft as “The criminal taking of any cargo including, but not limited to, goods, chattels, money, or baggage that constitutes, in whole or in part, a commercial shipment of freight moving in commerce, from any pipeline system, railroad car, motor truck, or other vehicle, or from any tank or storage facility, station house, platform, or depot, or from any vessel or wharf, or from any aircraft, air terminal, airport, aircraft terminal or air navigation facility, or from any intermodal container, intermodal chassis, trailer, container freight station, warehouse, freight distribution facility, or freight consolidation facility.

For purposes of this definition, cargo shall be deemed as moving in commerce at all points between the point of origin and the final destination, regardless of any temporary stop while awaiting transshipment or otherwise.”

Cargo thefts can happen anywhere along the transportation process; however, according to FreightWaves, most cargo thefts occur near warehouses and distribution centers, unsecured parking lots, and company truck yards and premises. Any cargo can be targeted – from expensive electronics to beverages and food. Cargo thefts can be carefully planned by a sophisticated group of thieves or, on the fly, by inexperienced thieves.

3 Common Types of Cargo Theft

  1. Fictitious Pickup – “This type of cargo theft relies on subcontracting the shipment to a legitimate motor carrier and having the shipment misdirected to another address,” Tank Transport Fictitious pickups are on the rise, according to FreightWaves, with 127 more year-to-year in the second quarter of 2023.

  2. Pilferage – Pilferage or leakage occurs when only part of the shipment is stolen. A few boxes could be stolen, or the thieves could open a box, remove some items, and reseal the box. With this type of theft, the driver may not even realize they’ve been robbed.

  3. Grab and Go – With the grab-and-go method, criminals follow a shipment until the driver pulls into a truck stop or restaurant. When the driver leaves the vehicle, the thieves steal as much merchandise as possible. The grab-and-go method is most often used to steal high-value or high-tech cargo.

13 Truck Driver Tips to Minimize the Risk of Cargo Theft

  1. Stay alert by paying attention to your surroundings (especially at night), watching for occupied vehicles in parking lots, distribution centers, etc., watching for anyone following you, and being aware and looking for possible hijacking ploys.

  2. Try to keep an eye on the truck at all times, but if you need to leave it unattended, only do so for short periods.

  3. Park in safe, secure truck parking lots with good lighting and 24/7 security whenever possible.

  4. Subscribe to a reporting service that monitors area thefts., such as FreightWatch or CargoNet.

  5. Frequently communicate with your company and all members of the supply chain.

  6. Screen drivers to avoid entrusting your cargo to dishonest and untrustworthy drivers.

  7. Use technology, such as hidden GPS trackers in the shipment, intelligent routing, advanced locking technologies, etc.

  8. Preplan Your Route to help you identify safe places to stop and high-theft areas to avoid.

  9. Vary Your Route so you don’t become predictable.

  10. Arrive at the pickup location fully rested, fueled, and fed because it’s less likely that a thief will follow you for several hours.

  11. If picking up a loaded, sealed trailer, check that the seal number on the trailer and bill of lading match.

  12. Keep information, such as the license plate number, container number, and truck description, with you at all times.

  13. Don’t share information about cargo or trip details on social media, the radio, etc.

How to Get Affordable Commercial Truck Insurance

The right insurance helps protect your business from the loss resulting from cargo theft, injuries, damage, liability, etc. At American Insuring Group, our experienced agents help you get the right trucking insurance coverage at the lowest cost by comparing multiple competing insurance providers.

Call us today to start saving: (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

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

Effective Accident Investigations Can Lower Workers Comp Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 06, 2024

Contact us to learn more about saving on Workers Comp Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, and throughout Pennsylvania.When a workplace accident occurs, it’s in the employer's best interest to investigate the accident. Investigations provide many benefits, including lower Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs.

What is Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

“Workers’ Compensation (WC) is 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 PA Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) explains.

If an employer does not have WC Insurance and an employee files a WC claim, the employer will be required to reimburse the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund in relation to the claim, including costs, interests, penalties, attorney fees, and fees under section 440 of the Worker’s Compensation Act. Failure to carry WC coverage can also result in “grave civil and criminal risks.”

What is an Accident Investigation?”

The PA DLI defines an accident (incident) Investigation as “An organized process using written procedures that are applied every time an accident occurs regardless of its severity.” According to the PA DLI, “The purpose of the accident investigation is to determine the direct cause of the incident and to prevent similar occurrences by documenting facts, providing cost data, and reinforcing the joint labor-management commitment to safety in the workplace. Identifying the causal or contributing factors in a workplace accident provides the opportunity for these facts to be evaluated in order that corrective actions may be taken.”

Benefits of an Accident Investigation

Yes, an accident investigation will take time and resources, but the benefits it provides far outweigh the costs. And remember, the sole purpose of the investigation is not to lay blame but to determine the root cause of the accident.

Here are some benefits of an accident investigation:

  • Detects and prevents any violations or misconduct, including WC fraud
  • Ensures compliance with applicable laws and regulations
  • Helps identify hazards and shortcomings in a business’s safety and health programs and allows for corrective measures to avoid future accidents.
  • If an insurance company questions a Workers’ Compensation Insurance claim, they will launch an investigation. A thorough accident investigation performed immediately following the accident can help expedite the insurance company’s investigation and get the claim closed more quickly, which is in everyone’s best interest.

Accident Investigation Procedures

“The amount of action will depend on the severity of the accident. Follow established company procedure. Begin your investigation as soon as possible,” according to the PA DLI.

Experts recommend the following steps immediately after a workplace accident:

  1. Provide Medical Care – Address minor injuries with a first aid kit. For more serious accidents, call 911 immediately.

  2. Secure the Scene – Keep the scene as intact as possible to ensure an accurate investigation.

  3. Collect Evidence – Collect physical evidence, record or photograph the scene, study conditions and environment, and take notes.

  4. Interview Involved Parties – Interview the injured employee and any witnesses. Ask questions such as, what did you witness? Do you know the cause of the accident? Who else witnessed the accident? Is any PPE required for this task, and was the employee wearing it?”

  5. Identify the Root Cause – Remember that an accident may have multiple causes.

  6. Prepare an Investigation Report to communicate the findings to management.

  7. Implement a Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) Plan to prevent future accidents. The plan should include corrective and preventative actions

  8. Follow Up to ensure the CAPA Plan is being implemented.

Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs

At American Insuring Group, Ltd., we offer cost-effective Workers’ Compensation Insurance from multiple competing insurance companies. It's our mission to get you the best price on quality insurance to protect your employees and your business!

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

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

Toolbox Talk: Dangers of Benzene

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Dec 23, 2023

Avoid benzene dangers and save on Contractor's Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Erie, Allentown, Lancaster, Lebanon, York, and throughout Pennsylvania.To lower Contractor's Insurance costs, you need to lower the risk of exposure to hazards such as benzene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and hematological effects. Exposure can occur occupationally, in the general environment, and in the home as a result of the ubiquitous use of benzene-containing petroleum products, including motor fuels and solvents."   

What is Benzene?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes benzene as "a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable." It is formed naturally – in volcanoes and forest fires – and created through human activities. It is found in oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke and evaporates into the air quickly.

Benzene is widely used in the U.S. and is ranked in the top twenty chemicals for production volume. It is used to make glues, paints, synthetic fibers, detergents, pesticides, and more. Most exposure to benzene occurs through inhalation, but it can also be consumed in water or food. Exposure to tobacco smoke (either smoking yourself or from secondhand smoke) accounts for about half of all exposure to benzene in the U.S.

What are the Dangers of Benzene?

"Benzene works by causing cells not to work correctly. For example, it can cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can lead to anemia," the CDC explains. "Also, it can damage the immune system by changing blood levels of antibodies and causing the loss of white blood cells."

According to the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified benzene as "carcinogenic to humans." The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) has classified benzene as "known to be a human carcinogen," and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified benzene as "a known human carcinogen."

Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer. Research has linked benzene exposure to acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Exposure to benzene in your eyes, skin, or lungs can cause irritation and tissue injury.

What are the Symptoms of Benzene Exposure?

Someone who has inhaled high levels of benzene may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Tremors
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Death

Someone who has eaten foods or drank beverages with high levels of benzene may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Irritation of the stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Death

If exposed to airborne benzene, leave the area, remove your clothing, wash with soap and water, and get medical care immediately. If you swallow benzene, don' drink fluids or try to induce vomiting. Also, CPR should not be performed as it may cause you to vomit, which can be sucked into and damage your lungs. 

How Can I Minimize Exposure to Benzine?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) limits airborne exposure. "The maximum time-weighted average (TWA) exposure limit is 1 part of benzene vapor per million parts of air (1 ppm) for an 8-hour workday, and the maximum short-term exposure limit (STEL) is five ppm for any 15-minute period."

Here are steps to minimize your exposure to Benzine:

  • Don't breathe in gasoline vapors
  • Use a well-ventilated area to fuel vehicles and equipment
  • Avoid areas with excessive auto exhaust
  • Don't smoke or be in places where you can be exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Regularly wash your hands
  • Use engineering controls to limit exposure to benzene
  • Wear a respirator if needed

Don't Overpay For Contractor Insurance!

At American Insuring Group, we do more than provide you with affordable contractor insurance. We perform an in-depth review of your business, compare the costs and types of liability insurance with many competing carriers, provide you with multiple contractor insurance quotes, and share our recommendations on the best choice for your business.

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

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

8 Tips to Keep Renters From Trashing Your Property

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Dec 16, 2023

Tips to maintain your rental property and to save on insurance for landlords in Philadelphia, Reading, Erie, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, and throughout Pennsylvania.Rental properties are an investment, and the right Landlord Insurance can help protect that investment. Normal wear and tear on a property is… well… normal; however, discovering a tenant has trashed your property is frustrating as you consider all the wasted time, money, physical and emotional energy, and other resources to replace and repair damaged items.

Today, returning a damaged property to a rentable space takes more time and effort than ever. Supplies cost more and are harder to come by. Finding a good contractor to do the repairs can be more challenging. Therefore, the best approach – as is so often the case – is to be proactive by minimizing the risk of a tenant trashing your rental property.

8 Tips to Keep Renters From Trashing Your Property          

  1. Screen Potential Tenants
    All potential tenants should be thoroughly screened. Screening includes running credit, rental history, background checks, talking to current employer, landlord, and references, interviewing the applicant, etc. Always remember to treat potential tenants equally and fairly and to follow all local, state, and federal fair housing laws. Typically, tenants who are responsible with their finances, employment, previous rentals, etc., will be more responsible with your property.

  2. Collect a Security Deposit
    "A security deposit is money that belongs to the tenant but [is] held by the landlord for protection against damages," the Housing Equality Center of PA "The tenant is responsible for the rental payments for the entire length of the lease. When the lease has expired, the tenant should have the security deposit returned to them minus any damages to the property." Currently, Pennsylvania law allows a maximum of two month's rent for a security deposit for the first year. Knowing they could lose that money incentivizes many renters to take care of your property.

  3. Take Photos Before Tenants Move in
    Document the condition of your property before a tenant moves in with photos and a written document that the tenant signs to show they agree on the move-in condition of the property.

  4. Draft a Thorough Lease Agreement
    To help avoid future issues, draft a thorough lease (or rental) agreement and review it with your new tenant before you both sign it. A lease agreement is a binding contract that lays out the rights and responsibilities of you and the tenant. It should include security deposits and fees, repair and maintenance policies, your right to enter the rental property, rules and policies, etc.

  5. Schedule Inspections
    Include a provision for regular inspections in the lease agreement so you can regularly check the property to ensure that tenants are taking care of it and keep a minor issue (like a small leak under the sink) from becoming a bigger, more expensive repair.

  6. Keep the Rental Property Maintained
    As we said, minor issues can become bigger, more expensive repairs. Therefore, regular inspections and maintenance can go a long way to minimizing property damage. Plus, if the renter sees that you are doing your best to maintain and provide the best living conditions, they may be more likely to do the same.

  7. Take Immediate Action if a Tenant Stops Paying Rent
    Failure to pay rent is an obvious red flag that the tenant may not be as responsible as you had hoped and may be causing damage to your property. Don't hope the issue goes away. Instead, take immediate action.

  8. Get the Right Landlord Insurance
    Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a tenant will damage your property. It's best to consult an experienced insurance agent to ensure you have the right landlord insurance to protect your property. Due to the increased risk inherent in a rental property, a homeowner's insurance policy will not cover damage to a rental property.

Don't Overpay For Landlord Insurance!

At American Insuring Group, we offer comprehensive landlord insurance policies that cover a range of risks, from property damage to liability claims. Our affordable policies protect your investment and give you peace of mind.

You can rely on our independent agents p to provide the protection you need at the best price because we compare pricing and coverage from competing insurance companies to find the right protection at the right price.

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

Tags: Landlord Insurance