Insurance Savings and News You Can Use
Join the Conversation!

David Ross

Recent Posts

Brake Safety Week Tips for Fleet Managers and Drivers

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 06, 2022

Follow these truck brake safety tips to help you reduce accidents and save on truck insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Erie, Pittsburgh, Allentown and throughout Pennsylvania.The best way to lower Commercial Truck Insurance costs is to minimize the risk of accidents, including brake failure. A U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study found that the most common vehicle equipment-related cause of truck crashes was brake failure, accounting for 29.4% of all truck crashes in the study. 

Brake failure can result from defects, poor maintenance, or a driver’s actions. For example, overusing brakes can affect brake performance. While not all brake failures are avoidable, many are, which makes a focus on brake safety key to minimizing the risk of accidents.

CVSA Brake Safety Week

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Brake Safety Week - August 21-27 – focuses on brake safety. It is “an annual commercial motor vehicle brake-safety inspection, enforcement, and education initiative conducted by law enforcement jurisdictions in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.” 

According to data from last year’s Brake Safety Week, “brake systems and brake adjustment violations accounted for 38.9% of all vehicle out-of-service violations, the most of any category of vehicle violations.” 

The following are two of the goals of Brake Safety Week. Both can help minimize the risk of accidents and help lower Commercial Truck Insurance costs:

  • Encourage proactive vehicle maintenance in advance of the week.
  • Remind drivers and motor carriers about the importance of proper brake maintenance and vehicle pre-trip and post-trip inspections. 

According to CVSA, if you are stopped during Brake Safety Week, inspectors will perform the following checks:

  • Look for missing, non-functioning, loose, contaminated or cracked parts on the brake system, non-manufactured holes (such as rust holes and holes created by rubbing or friction), and broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake.
  • Listen for audible air leaks around brake components and lines, and ensure the air system maintains air pressure between 90-100 psi (620-690 kPa).
  • Check for S-cam flip-over and measure pushrod travel.
  • Check that slack adjusters are the same length (from the center of the S-cam to the center of the clevis pin) and the air chambers on each axle are the same size.
  • Inspect required brake-system warning devices, such as ABS malfunction lamp(s) and low air-pressure warning devices.
  • Ensure the breakaway system is operable on the trailer, and inspect the tractor protection system, including the bleed-back system on the trailer.
  • Capture and provide data on brake hose/tubing chafing violations – the focus of this year’s Brake Safety Week.

Brake Safety Tips for Owners/Fleet Managers:

  1. Ensure drivers receive appropriate safety training
  2. Develop a culture of safety
  3. Take time to spec the best brakes for your vehicle and drivers’ needs
  4. Develop inspection checklists
  5. Conduct routine daily, weekly, and monthly inspections
  6. Perform regular maintenance on all vehicles
  7. Customize maintenance to brake type – hydraulic, air, or exhaust.
  8. Properly grease components
  9. Monitor mileage on your brake systems
  10. Replace brake shoes and other parts regularly
  11. Use Telematics Data to detect hard braking, speeding, and other hazardous driving behaviors.

Brake Safety Tips for Drivers:


  1. Perform pre- and post-trip inspections
  2. Watch air pressure levels
  3. Monitor your driving to ensure you are driving at safe speeds and maintaining safe following distances.

Lower Your Commercial Truck Insurance Costs

In addition to ensuring safer vehicles and drivers to minimize the risk of accidents, another way to lower Commercial Truck Insurance costs is to work with one of the experienced independent insurance agents at American Insuring Group.

Not only do we specialize in commercial truck insurance to ensure you have the proper coverage, but as independent agents, we also check with multiple insurance companies to ensure you pay the lowest premium for reliable coverage.

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

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

What Contractors Should Know About Professional Liability Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 30, 2022

What contractors should know about professional liability insurance for contractors in Philadelphia, Newark, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster PA and elsewhereThere are many types of Contractors Insurance to help protect your business in the event of a lawsuit. Insurance is a crucial part of protecting your business. According to Forbes, 36%-53% of small businesses are involved in at least one litigation in any given year, and 90% of all companies are engaged in litigation at any given time. 

General liability insurance helps protect you if you are sued for injuries (other than employees), property damage, libel, and slander.

However, a customer can also sue you for making a mistake, missing a deadline, negligence, or undelivered services. Typically, general liability insurance does not cover this type of lawsuit.

 As they say, “To err is human,” but unfortunately, while “to forgive is divine,” not everyone forgives when a general contractor makes a mistake – actual or perceived. And one lawsuit can cost you a fortune in legal fees and settlements or judgments (if the court sides with the plaintiff) or even put you out of business.

 Thankfully, there is Professional Liability Insurance to help protect your business from this type of lawsuit.

What is Professional Liability Insurance?

Professional Liability Insurance goes by many names, such as Errors and Omissions and E & O insurance. Professional Liability Insurance protects your business if you face a lawsuit claiming you made a mistake in your professional services - whether or not you actually made a mistake.

 Some local and state laws, contracts, or customers may require Professional Liability Insurance. However, even if it isn’t required, it’s a good investment as one lawsuit can put you out of business. According to an SBA study, small businesses reported that legal costs for litigation ranged from $3,000 to $150,000. Furthermore, “Most companies used business assets to pay the damages,” and “owners mentioned that the payment of damages nearly put them out of business, which affected them for a long period of time as they worked to rebuild the business and recoup their losses.”

 Professional Liability Insurance helps protect your business from claims of the following nature:

  • Errors
  • Omissions
  • Negligence
  • Violation of good faith and fair dealing
  • Misrepresentation
  • Inaccurate advice

 Professional Liability Insurance covers the following costs (up to the policy’s limit):

  • Attorney fees
  • Court costs
  • Administrative costs
  • Settlements or judgments

 Professional Liability Insurance does NOT typically cover:

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Fraudulent, dishonest, or criminal acts
  • False advertising
  • Employee injuries or illnesses
  • Discrimination or harassment
  • False advertising
  • Patents and trade secrets
  • Any services not specified in your policy

 How Much Does Personal Liability Insurance Cost?

Every business is unique, so the cost of Professional Liability Insurance varies.

 Factors that can affect your Professional Liability Insurance costs include the following:

  • Business size
  • Location
  • Claims history
  • Coverage limits

 You can help keep the cost of Professional Liability Insurance down by doing the following:

  • Properly training employees
  • Providing quality work
  • Drafting well-crafted contracts that set expectations
  • Fulfilling the terms of the contract
  • Keeping schedules realistic
  • Providing quality workmanship
  • Hiring reliable and competent subcontractors
  • Performing and documenting periodic inspections
  • Keeping communication professional and reasonable
  • Ensuring everyone working on the project is adequately insured

 How to Save on Professional Liability Insurance

If you aren’t sure if you need Professional Liability Insurance, reach out to one of the agents at American Insuring Group who specialize in Contractors Insurance.

We understand your unique needs and can help ensure you have the right coverage. As independent agents, we will compare the cost of that coverage with several insurance companies to ensure that you pay the lowest premium for that coverage.

So start saving today by calling us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Professional Liability Lawsuit

Do I Need Commercial Auto Insurance for My Restaurant?

Posted by David Ross on Wed, Jul 27, 2022

Get the Proper Auto Insurance for Your Restaurant Business in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Reading, Wyomissing, Lancaster, Harrisburg and throughout PA.Insurance – including Restaurant Insurance - is all about risk. The higher the risk of a claim, the higher the cost of the insurance.

The same is true of auto insurance, and let’s face it, driving can be risky. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, there were 5.24 million police-reported crashes in the U.S., which caused 2.28 million injuries and 38,824 fatalities (a 6.8% increase over 2019).

 A vehicle used for commercial purposes is considered a higher risk because it may be driven more often or by more than one driver. Therefore, if you own a vehicle used for commercial purposes – making deliveries, visiting customers, etc. – your personal auto insurance may not cover damages caused when you or an employee uses your vehicle for commercial purposes. 

3 Auto Insurance Options

Personal Auto Insurance

A personal auto insurance policy covers property damage, bodily injuries, and legal expenses. While some personal auto insurance policies include limited coverage for business use, this type of policy is typically limited to accidents that occur during personal use, such as commuting to and from work and other travel unrelated to your job/business. In addition, a personal auto insurance policy typically insures the owner and one or two immediate family members only. 

Commercial Auto Insurance

A commercial auto insurance policy covers vehicles owned by a business. It covers vehicles used to drive customers or employees, perform a service you’ve been paid for, transport goods, and other business uses. Like personal auto insurance, Commercial Auto Insurance covers property damage, bodily injuries, and legal expenses. It also typically includes additional insureds, such as employees, and covers different types of vehicles, larger claims, and more complicated legal issues.

 Hired and non-owned auto insurance (HNOA)

HNOA insurance provides coverage for vehicles your business does NOT own but uses for commercial purposes, such as running business errands, picking up supplies, and visiting customers. This includes your employees’ vehicles used for business purposes and vehicles you rent or lease to use for business purposes. HNOA insurance can be purchased as a rider to your general liability insurance or as a standalone policy. It’s important to note that HNOA does NOT cover damage to your own property – only third-party liability costs.

 How to Lower the Risk of an Accident

Studies show that 98% of auto accidents are caused by human error. The following are the top six human driver errors:

  1. Failure to wear a seatbelt
  2. Excessive speeding
  3. Distraction/in attentiveness
  4. Incorrect assumptions about other drivers
  5. Tailgating/not leaving enough space between vehicles
  6. Not checking traffic before pulling out or crossing lanes 

The fewer accidents you or your employees are involved in, the fewer insurance claims and the lower your auto insurance costs. Here are five steps to minimize the risk of an auto accident:

  1. Check employee driving records before allowing them to drive a vehicle for business purposes
  2. Provide safe driving training
  3. Research vehicle safety records before purchasing, renting or leasing a vehicle
  4. Create and enforce a policy for employee cell phone use while driving
  5. Download the National Safety Council’s FREE online Safe Driving Kit

How to Lower Your Auto Insurance Cost

The best way to lower the cost of your insurance is to work with one of the experienced agents at American Insuring Group.

We will help determine the best type of insurance for your needs and then – as independent agents – check with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you pay the lowest premium for that insurance.

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

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Auto Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

How a Return-to-Work Program Can Save You Money

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 23, 2022

A return to work program can help you save on workers compensation insurance costs in Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Reading, Allentown, York, Hanover, Lebanon and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.Workers’ Compensation Insurance (WC) is mandatory in most states, including Pennsylvania. WC helps cover lost wages, health care expenses, disability payments, death benefits, and permanent injury payments (such as the loss of a body part) when an employee suffers a work-related injury or disease. It also helps protect your business against lawsuits related to the injury. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2020. In addition, 1,176,340 of those injuries and illnesses caused workers to miss at least one day of work. 

The longer an injured employee is out of work, the less likely they will return to work. The longer a claim remains open and an injured employee is off the job, the more it costs the employer. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that absenteeism costs exceed $40 billion a year. Here are a few of the absenteeism costs cited for employers:

  • Recovery of production
  • Quality and hiring of replacement workers
  • Lower employee morale
  • Increased training costs
  • Overtime

 A Return-to-Work (RTW) program gets injured employees back to work more quickly and safely and provides many benefits to both employees and employers.

 What is a Return-to-Work Program?

An RTW program is designed to get injured employees back to work as soon as possible (based on their doctor’s recommendation). That could mean the injured employee comes back to modified duties or a temporary position to accommodate any limitations caused by the injury.

 The Department of Labor & Industry defines RTW as “a proactive approach, endorsed by many health care providers, designed to help restore injured workers to their former lifestyle in the safest and most effective manner possible. A partnership among workers, union representatives, employers, and health care providers stakeholders is developed in a collaborative effort to return the injured worker back to his or her pre-injury status.”

 What are the Benefits of a Return-to-Work Program?

Studies have shown that getting an injured employee back to work as quickly and safely as possible is the best approach for both the employee and the company.

 Here are a few benefits of an RTW for the employer:

  • Claims are resolved more quickly
  • Reduced WC claim costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Retention of experienced employees
  • Reduced accidents
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Lower training costs
  • Reduced overtime pay
  • Reduced administrative costs
  • More experienced and knowledgeable workers
  • Decreased number of grievances and arbitrations
  • Improved employee morale and employee relations
  • Shows employees that the employer cares about the well-being of its employees

 Here are a few benefits of an RTW for the injured employee:

  • Maintained employment relationship
  • Minimize loss of physical fitness
  • Maintained skills
  • Maintained pension plans, medical benefits, and group life insurance
  • Maintained vacation and sick day benefits
  • Maintained social connections and a sense of purpose
  • Focus on abilities rather than disabilities
  • Quicker recovery time

 Research shows that even co-workers can benefit from an RTW program.

 How Can We Create a Return-to-Work Program?

Despite common misconceptions, back-to-work programs don’t need to be costly or complicated but benefit everyone. SHRM recommends following the following steps to create an effective RTW program:

Step 1 – Determine who will be included in the RTW/light-duty program

Step 2 – Define what will be included in the program

Step 3 – Develop a written policy

Step 4 – Review the organization’s current job descriptions

Step 5 – Develop a bank of light duties

Step 6 – Develop a form

Step 7 – Designate an RTW coordinator

 

We Help You Save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group can help ensure that you pay the lowest premiums on WC and all your insurance needs. We shop the market for you to get you the best deal on quality insurance protection in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online to discover how we can help save you money!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Return-To-Work Programs

30 Truck Driver Safety Tips for Lower Truck Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Wed, Jul 20, 2022

Truck-Driver-Safety-Insurance-Savings-30-Tips.jpgThe key to lowering Commercial Truck Insurance costs is to incur fewer claims, and the key to fewer claims is safer drivers. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 4,842 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents last year (a 33% increase since 2011), and 107,000 large trucks were involved in accidents resulting in an injury. 

We understand that sometimes accidents are unavoidable. However, in crashes where a large truck was the leading cause of an accident, 87% were caused by the driver, while 10% were due to the vehicle and 3% to the environment, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) "Large Truck Crash Causation Study."

If you are a driver, it is your responsibility to understand how you can minimize the risk of an accident for your own well-being and the well-being of other people on the road. If you are a fleet manager, it is your responsibility to provide proper training, create and enforce a driver safety policy, and make fleet maintenance a priority for the well-being of your drivers and your business.

 Here are 30 safety tips for truck drivers:

  1. Take care of your health by eating, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
  2. Avoid drugs and alcohol
  3. Wear comfortable clothing
  4. Plan your route based on weather, road conditions, traffic patterns, construction, etc.
  5. Monitor the weather and adjust as needed
  6. Perform a thorough pre-trip inspection
  7. Perform a thorough post-trip inspection and record or report any issues
  8. Adjust the steering wheel, seat, mirrors, etc. to maximize comfort
  9. Know where everything is in your truck's interior
  10. Take regular breaks and move around
  11. Wear your seatbelt – According to the CDC, "Buckling up is both effective and required by federal regulations. But 1 in 6 drivers of large trucks don't use their seat belts (2013). More than 1 in 3 truck drivers who died in crashes in 2012 were not wearing seat belts. Buckling up could have prevented up to 40% of these deaths."
  12. Don't use your cell phone while driving
  13. Stay alert at all times and especially in school and work zones
  14. Be aware of speed limits and stay within those limits (they're there for a reason)
  15. Maintain proper stopping distance
  16. Know when you're tired
  17. Check your mirrors every 8-10 seconds to know when vehicles are entering your blind spot.
  18. Scan ahead to identify traffic issues, work zones, etc.
  19. Make wide turns carefully
  20. Use your turn signals to give other drivers notice of your intent
  21. Stay focused and avoid distractions
  22. Maintain your vehicle
  23. When in work zones, slow down, maintain extra following space, obey signs, scan for changing traffic patterns, and be prepared to stop
  24. Practice defensive driving
  25. Slow down for curves and turns
  26. Don't be afraid to ask for help
  27. Park safely
  28. Stay centered in your lane
  29. Be careful when getting in and out of your truck – never jump from the cab to the ground and use three points of contact
  30. Be careful when handling cargo by ensuring the load is stable, don't handle cargo in poor visibility, use lifting equipment properly, etc.

Save More on Truck Insurance Today!

One of the easiest ways to save on truck insurance is to work with an independent insurance agent who specializes in truck insurance and understands your unique needs, like the agents at American Insuring Group. As independent agents, we compare the cost of your coverage among many insurance companies to ensure you pay the lowest premiums for quality insurance protection.

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

 

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

10 Common Construction Site Hazards

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 25, 2022

Avoid these construction site hazards, and save on construction insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley and throughout PAOne of the best ways to lower Contractors’ Insurance (and other) costs is to create safer worksites. But unfortunately, construction sites are filled with many hazards. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), “About 20% (1,061) of worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2019 were in construction – accounting for one in five worker deaths for the year.” 

Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize risks, and the first step is to identify potential hazards. 

10 common construction site hazards and tips to reduce their impact on your business: 

  1. Falls from heights – “In 2019, there were 401 fall fatalities out of 1,102 total fatalities in construction,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Falls are a hazard found in many work settings, but construction has the most fatal falls out of all industries and represents 51% of all falls nationally.” Some causes of falls include unsecured scaffolding or ladders and a lack of guardrails or safety nets.

  2. Being struck by moving objects - Construction sites are filled with many moving objects – vehicles, equipment, materials, etc. Being struck by an object is one of OSHA’s Fatal Four, accounting for approximately 10% of all construction worker deaths. Poor lighting, too little space to maneuver, and working too closely can cause injuries from moving objects.

  3. Slips and trips – According to the CDC, “27% of the 888,220 nonfatal work injuries resulting in days away from work in 2019 were related to slips, trips, and falls.” Slips and trips can be caused by wet and slippery surfaces, uneven surfaces, etc. Most are easily prevented.

  4. Noise – Loud noise can cause a significant distraction and permanent hearing loss.

  5. Vibrations – Using tools such as drills, jackhammers, and chain saws can cause Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). “About 2 million U.S. workers are exposed to hand-arm vibration, and as many as half will develop HAVS, one expert says,” according to Safety and Health Magazine.

  6. Manually moving materials and equipment – Incorrectly lifting, moving, and handling materials or equipment can cause severe injuries, such as Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSDS).

  7. Asbestos – While asbestos only becomes a problem when damaged, it causes an estimated 255,000 deaths annually, according to the National Library of Medicine.

  8. Electricity – Electricity is an essential part of any construction worksite, but it can also cause severe injuries and even death. Electrical accidents can occur from contact with overhead or underground power cables, damaged tools or equipment, inadequate wiring, overloaded power boards, and improper insulation.

  9. Airborne materials – Invisible and fine dust material caused by cutting concrete, woodworking, and more are prevalent at construction worksites, and prolonged exposure to it can lead to illnesses such as asthma, lung cancer, emphysema, etc.

  10. Excavation/trench collapse – Collapses are all too common on construction sites. In 2020 alone, at least 21 workers died in trench collapses. The leading cause is inadequate cave-in protection.

 4 Tips to Minimize Risk

You can take steps to minimize the risk of injury caused by any of these hazards. Some are specific to the threat, such as providing adequate cave-in protection to avoid collapses or implementing a lockout tagout system to prevent electrical injuries. 

Below are four steps that can be taken to minimize the risk of many hazards:

  1. Training – Safety training helps employees recognize and avoid potential hazards at the workplace.
  2. Proper PPE – To create a safer work environment, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as hard hats, safety glasses, and gloves must be provided. In addition, employees need to be trained on the proper use of PPE.
  3. Work Area management – Work area management includes keeping pathways clear of debris and hazards, providing safety nets or guard rails where needed, ensuring that equipment and tools are kept in a secure area after use, and ensuring spills are immediately cleaned up, etc.
  4. Proper maintenance – Equipment that is regularly repaired and maintained in excellent condition helps avoid injuries.

Lower Your Contractors Insurance Premiums

Creating a safer worksite and working with the right insurance agent can lower contractors insurance premiums. The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in contractors insurance and check with multiple insurance companies to get you the right coverage at the lowest price.

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

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

Manage Risk to Lower Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 18, 2022

Lower your restaurant insurance costs in Philadelphia and throughout PA, including Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, York, Pittsburgh, Erie and more!Restaurant Insurance helps protect your business from accidents, lawsuits, data breaches, and more. However, one lawsuit or severe accident can go far beyond financial losses. They can tarnish your restaurant's reputation, cause stress and sleepless nights, interrupt business, lower employee morale, and so much more. 

So, wouldn't it be better to eliminate those accidents, lawsuits, and data breaches before they occur? While it's impossible to eliminate all risks (which is why the right insurance is crucial to any restaurant's success), you can significantly minimize many risks with these tips. 

Train Your Employees

We all know the high turnover rate restaurants experience, so it's no surprise that many restaurant staff are undertrained. However, undertrained employees can lead to accidents, lawsuits, and even higher turnover.

 "One of the primary reasons restaurant employees look for new jobs is that they want more mentorship and training (in the case of younger workers) to help them take their careers in hospitality to the next level," US Foods reports. "Handing a new staff member your employee handbook and expecting them to master a role isn't enough. Empowering your employees to feel like they have the necessary knowledge and training to be good at their job will make a world of difference for your restaurant."

Ongoing training should include safety procedures that cover recognizing and avoiding common restaurant injuries - such as lacerations, slips and falls, burns, sprains, etc. – to help lower Workers' Comp Insurance. Training should also include good customer service, food allergies, etc., to help lower Liability Insurance. And finally, employees should be trained on topics such as theft and fire to help lower Property Insurance.

When all else fails, Workers' Compensation, Liquor Liability, General Liability, and other types of insurance act as a safety net. 

Maintain Facility and Equipment

QSR magazine points out, "The foundations of delivering outstanding customer service start with a well-maintained kitchen." A well-maintained kitchen requires routine maintenance and regular cleaning. 

Routine maintenance helps keep your equipment running better and helps minimize the risk of injuries caused by an equipment malfunction. In addition, maintaining your equipment helps reduce the risk of breakdowns, which can cause business interruption, food spoilage, fires, and accidents. Click here for a restaurant equipment maintenance checklist. 

Keeping your restaurant clean helps prevent fires, accidents, and food cross-contamination. Keeping your restaurant clutter-free also helps reduce accidents. 

Utilize Technology

Many small to medium-sized business owners – including restaurant owners - believe they are immune to data breaches, but the reverse is true. "63% of SMBs report experiencing a data breach in the previous 12 months," according to Hashedout, yet 43% lack any cybersecurity defense plan. Technology, such as anti-virus software, password protection, properly securing WiFi networks, etc., has made it possible to minimize those risks. 

Another risk that can be mitigated with technology is theft. There are 2.5 million burglaries annually in the U.S., and 34% of the burglaries that happen each year affect small businesses. In addition, one survey found that "internal employee theft is responsible for 75% of inventory shortages and about 4% of restaurant sales. That totals between $3 and $6 billion annually." 

Security cameras and alarm systems can help deter criminal activity, such as theft and vandalism. Check out "Five Ways Restaurants Use Technology to Secure Their Business." 

Property and cyber insurance help soften the financial blow when these precautions don't work. 

Start Saving Today on Restaurant Insurance!

Get the lowest rate on restaurant insurance and all of your insurance needs by working with the highly qualified independent agents at American Insuring Group. We research and compare the cost of your coverage with multiple insurance companies to make sure you pay the lowest premium possible for the quality coverage you need.

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

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Alcohol and Workers' Compensation Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 11, 2022

Alcohol use can affect workers comp insurance coverage in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Allentown, Reading and throughout Pennsylvania.In Pennsylvania, Workers' Compensation Insurance (WC) is based on a no-fault liability premise, which means a workplace injury is covered by Workers Comp regardless of who is at fault. However, there are a few exceptions, such as the "intoxication defense."

"This is a relatively new defense. The Workers' Compensation Act, when originally drafted and enacted, had no intoxication defense," Rothman Gordon Attorneys states. "It was not until 1993 that the Intoxication Defense was added as a part of a nationwide trend of cracking down on drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

A string of drunk driving offenses established that because a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit (currently .08) established a presumption of intoxication, employers argued they could establish the same presumption in the workplace."

Furthermore, "Pennsylvania is the only state that does not oblige the employer to prove intoxication was the proximate cause (a material contributing factor) of the accident."

Today, the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act states, "In cases where the injury or death is caused by intoxication, no compensation shall be paid if the injury or death would not have occurred but for the employee's intoxication." However, it is important to note that the burden of proof is with the employer.

Over time, alcohol can affect job performance and threaten the health and safety of all employees and the security of your equipment and facilities. So, what can an employer do to protect itself and its employees regarding the use of alcohol? 

Create a Policy

Set a clear, legal, and enforceable written policy regarding the use of alcohol that includes enforcement, punishments, and drug and alcohol testing policies. Ensure that you have written confirmation that each employee understands the policy. 

Pay Attention to Employees

Pay attention to how your employees are acting. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management states, "Even though you must not try to diagnose the problem, there are many signs that may indicate a problem with alcohol…" Those signs include the following:

  • Unexplained or unauthorized absences from work
  • Frequent tardiness
  • Excessive use of sick leave
  • Patterns of absence such as the day after payday or frequent Monday or Friday absences
  • Frequent unplanned absences due to "emergencies" (e.g., household repairs, car trouble, family emergencies, legal problems)
  • Missed deadlines
  • Careless or sloppy work or incomplete assignments
  • Production quotas not met
  • Many excuses for incomplete assignments or missed deadlines
  • Faulty analysis
  • Relationships with co-workers may become strained
  • The employee may be belligerent, argumentative, or short-tempered, especially in the mornings or after weekends or holidays
  • The employee may become a "loner"
  • The smell of alcohol
  • Staggering or an unsteady gait
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • The smell of alcohol on the breath
  • Mood and behavior changes such as excessive laughter and inappropriate loud talk
  • Excessive use of mouthwash or breath mints
  • Avoidance of supervisory contact, especially after lunch
  • Tremors
  • Sleeping on duty

Document Reasonable Suspicion

SHRM states, "Concerns that an employee is under the influence often come from co-workers or even clients or vendors before a supervisor or manager notices." If you receive a complaint or suspect an employee is under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) at work, you need to document it properly. SHRM suggests the following steps:

  1. Receive complaints
  2. Observe the Employee
  3. Remove the Employee from Safety-Sensitive Areas
  4. Document Observations
  5. Assess the Situation
  6. Meet With Employee
  7. Prepare Transportation
  8. Send the Employee for Testing
  9. Wait for Test Results
  10. Respond to Employee's Refusal to Take the Test
  11. Respond to Negative Test Results
  12. Respond to a Positive Test Result

Workers' Compensation Benefits

If you suspect the use of alcohol caused a workplace injury, you can fight the claim; however, the burden of proof is on you as the employer. Policies regarding alcohol must be established and enforced, everything must be well documented, and a thorough investigation with evidence is crucial for successful denial of claims.

Here's How to Save on Workers' Compensation Costs!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in WC Insurance and are dedicated to helping you save on WC and other insurance costs. As independent agents, we shop the market, comparing rates and coverages among competing insurers. We shop so you can save!

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

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

5 Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 04, 2022

Save on PA Truck Insurance by Avoiding Common Causes of Truck Accidents. We provide insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, and throughout Pennsylvania.If you want to reduce Commercial Truck Insurance costs, lower the number of accidents. It’s simple but not always easy. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2019, 118,000 large trucks were involved in accidents that caused injuries. And often, due to their size and weight, accidents involving trucks are more serious. For example, in 2019, 5,005 trucks were involved in fatal accidents.

The good news is that many of these accidents are preventable. The first step to preventing accidents is identifying the most common causes of truck accidents.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver error is the cause of 94% of vehicle accidents. Other causes include failure or degradation of the vehicle’s components and the environment (slick roads, weather, etc.).

5 Common Causes of Accidents

Distracted Driver

The CDC reports, “Nine people in the United States are killed every day in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” A distraction takes attention away from driving and takes your eyes off the road, takes your hand off the wheel, or takes your mind off driving. Unfortunately, drivers can be distracted by many things – changing the radio station, arguing with a passenger, or even reading billboards.

You can’t eliminate all distractions, but you can eliminate the most common cause of driver distraction – electronic devices, specifically cell phones. According to the CDC, “At 55 miles per hour, sending or reading a text is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.”

As an owner or fleet manager, having and enforcing a distracted driving policy is crucial to minimizing the risk of distractions. If you are a driver, turn on the “Do Not Disturb” feature on and pull over to a safe place to use your cell phone.

Speeding

We get it… You have tight schedules to keep and face many things (traffic, road construction, etc.) that can mess with those schedules, but driver safety should always come before deadlines. The NSC reports, “Speeding was a factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2020, killing 11,258, or an average of over 30 people per day.” With the additional weight and size of a truck, speeding becomes even more dangerous because it takes trucks longer to stop, and when they do hit something can cause more damage.

Poor Driver Training

As we mentioned earlier, driver error is the cause of 94% of vehicle accidents, but you can minimize that risk by providing ongoing safety training to your drivers. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that implementing a driver safety program will help keep drivers safer and potentially:

  • Decrease the risk of motor vehicle collisions and traffic violations
  • Minimize exposure to liability risks and legal costs
  • Reduce insurance premiums and workers’ compensation claims
  • Lower vehicle repair bills and replacement expenses
  • Protect business operations and brand identity

Fatigue

You may be on the road for a while, not get enough sleep at night, or any number of other reasons that can cause fatigue. NHTSA estimates that in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. These crashes led to an estimated 50,000 people injured and nearly 800 deaths. Whenever possible, avoid this hazard by getting adequate sleep, checking any medication you take to see if any cause drowsiness, and avoiding driving during peak sleepiness periods (midnight to 6 am and late afternoon).

Weather

Weather is unpredictable and can change on a dime. Therefore, drivers must monitor the weather and prepare for potential hazards. If you find yourself on slick roads, slow down, keep more distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, keep your turn signals on longer, and turn on your headlights. Here are additional tips for dealing with dangerous weather.

How to Save on Commercial Truck Insurance Costs

Safer drivers mean fewer claims, which translates to lower Truck Insurance costs. Working with one of the independent agents at American Insuring Group also translates to lower Truck Insurance costs. As independent agents, we compare pricing and coverage with multiple insurance companies so you pay the lowest premiums for quality truck insurance protection.

✅  Start saving today by calling us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

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

Lower Workers’ Comp Costs By Preventing Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

Posted by David Ross on Sat, May 28, 2022

Tips to reduce waste, fraud and abuse to save on Workers Comp Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Lebanon, Erie, Allentown, Reading, Harrisburg, and throughout PA.In most states, including Pennsylvania, almost all employers are required to carry Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance. WC helps cover lost wages, health care expenses, disability payments, death benefits, and permanent injury payments (such as the loss of a body part) when an employee suffers a work-related injury or disease. It also helps protect your business against lawsuits related to the injury. 

How is Your WC Premium Calculated?

Your Workers’ Compensation premium is based on the following calculation:

          WC Premium = Classification Code Rate X Experience Modifier X payroll/$100.

Your experience modifier compares the history of your losses to what is typically expected in a class similar to your company. It is based on the following:

  • Number of Claims
  • Cost of Claims
  • Frequency of Claims
  • Severity of Claims
  • Closed vs. Open Claims
  • Claims History of other businesses in your industry
  • Years in business
  • Number of employees
  • State minimums

 The lower your experience modifier, the lower your premiums. Unfortunately, WC fraud, waste, and abuse can raise your experience modifier and increase your WC premiums. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reports, “workers’ compensation insurance fraud alone costs insurers and employers $30 billion a year.”

 What is WC Fraud, Waste, and Abuse?

The first step to minimizing WC fraud, waste, and abuse is the ability to recognize each.

  • Fraud – According to the PA Department of Labor & Industry, “An employee commits fraud by knowingly and intentionally receiving wages while collecting total disability benefits or receiving partial disability benefits in excess of the amount permitted while receiving wages.” Examples include faking an injury, inflating an injury, and reporting an injury that happened off the job. Employers and medical providers can also engage in fraudulent WC activities.
  • Waste – WC waste occurs when an injured employee overutilizes WC benefits. An example of WC waste is an employee who injures their back on the job and continues to see a chiropractor after full recovery.
  • Abuse – WC abuse occurs when an employee who is injured on the job expands their symptoms to receive additional benefits. For example, an injured employee may falsely report symptoms to prevent them from participating in a return-to-work program.

 Signs of Possible WC Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

There are a few common signs of WC fraud, waste, and abuse that you can watch out for:

  • No witnesses to an incident
  • Conflicting diagnoses
  • Refusing treatment
  • Not reporting injury immediately
  • Inconsistent or suspicious recount of the injury
  • A history of WC claims
  • A history of frequently changing physicians, jobs, and addresses
  • An injury that occurs right after a weekend, strike, or holiday
  • The inability to reach an injured employee
  • A post-termination claim
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Financial problems
  • An unwillingness to cooperate in the injury investigation

 11 Tips to Prevent WC Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

Industrial Safety & Hygiene News offers the following tips to “keep claims above board”:

  1. Create a fraud-free work environment by having a strong policy against fraud.
  2. Establish a culture of safety.
  3. Hold regular safety meetings.
  4. Institute sound hiring procedures by screening potential employees.
  5. Communicate regularly with injured employees.
  6. Follow proper WC reporting and investigating procedures.
  7. Educate employees on WC fraud, waste, and abuse and their consequences.
  8. Make it easy to report injuries
  9. Use surveillance equipment
  10. Implement a drug testing policy
  11. Choose credible medical providers that have WC experience.

 Lower Your Workers Compensation Insurance Premiums:

In addition to preventing WC fraud, waste, and abuse, another way to lower Workers’ Compensation Premiums is to work with one of the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group. Our independence gives us the freedom to shop the market to find the right insurance to meet your specific needs at the best price.

Call American Insuring Group 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