Insurance Savings and News You Can Use
Join the Conversation!

David Ross

Recent Posts

Contractor Insurance and Managing Subcontractor Risk

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 15, 2018

Contractor Risk Management is key to managing subcontractor risks. A key factor is to obtain the right Contractor Insurance.Risk management is part of any successful business, and it is especially true in an industry fraught with as many dangers as construction. Accidents that cause injury, damage, or death occur on worksites across the country every day.

Preventing those injuries is your first line of defense. That might include actions like creating and enforcing a safety management program, providing proper safety training, offering protective gear when appropriate, etc.

 

Contractor Insurance is Key to Managing Risk

Unfortunately, accidents can still occur. That’s where contractor's insurance comes in. The right coverage will protect your employees, your customers, and your business.

You probably know all this, but what happens when a subcontractor that you’ve hired is injured or causes an injury or damage? Hiring subcontractors is a prevalent practice in the construction industry because the more people you have working on a job, the more you can get done, right?

We think it’s pretty safe to say that’s true, but subcontractors also add another level of risk, which makes it essential to understand the role contractor insurance plays with subcontractors. Here’s some info that may help.

 

Subcontractor Risk Considerations 

#1 - Employee vs. Subcontractor

With an employee, you are required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, pay unemployment tax on wages, provide workers’ compensation in many cases, etc. The headaches and expenses of an employee can quickly add up.

But with subcontractors, you don’t have to pay the same taxes or provide WC insurance. Therefore, some contractors misclassify employees as subcontractors. Sometimes it’s even done by mistake because there are so many variables that determine whether or not someone is an employee.

Even the IRS admits there is no simple formula to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, and factors which are relevant in one situation may not be applicable in another. “The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination,” according to the IRS

 

Misclassifying an employee as a subcontractor can end up costing you more in fines and penalties than you would have paid if they were classified correctly. This makes it imperative that you make the right classifications. Here are some tips to do that.

Determine the Business Relationship 

First, you need to determine the business relationship that exists between you and the person performing the services including your degree of control over them and their independence. The IRS provides these three categories to provide evidence of that control or independence. 

  • Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
  • Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how the worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
  • Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (e., pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

#2 - Get Subcontractor Insurance

If you have determined that you are dealing with a subcontractor and not an employee, you do not need to worry about workers’ compensation insurance; however, you still face risks. Don’t assume that your contractor’s liability insurance will cover you in the event that a subcontractor’s work causes damage or injury. Damages caused by individuals other than your employees are excluded in many general liability policies.

Your first step is to make sure that all of your subcontractors have their own general liability coverage that is adequate to cover any injuries or damage. Have them to provide a certificate of insurance as proof. The International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) suggests the following minimum general liability insurance limits for subcontractors:

  • $1,000,000 each occurrence (the combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage);
  • $1,000,000 for personal and advertising injury liability;
  • $1,000,000 aggregate on products and completed operations;
  • $2,000,000 general aggregate.

#3 - Get Listed as an Additional Insured 

You should also make sure that your subcontractors include you as an additional insured on their commercial insurance policy to protect you against their negligence.

 

Be Prepared - Contact Us Today! 

Get affordable contractor insurance throughout PA, including Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and beyond.Accidents happen, but the right insurance will help protect your business. For more information about contractor insurance and any time of business insurance you may need, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

You can rest assured that we'll find you affordable contractor insurance at a great price because our independent agents are free to scour the market and to compare policies among lots of competing providers.

Tags: Builders Insurance, Contractor Insurance

3 Restaurant Insurance Tips to Protect Your Business

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 08, 2018

Restaurant Insurance Tips and advice for restaurant, bar, and nightclub owners in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Reading, Lancaster PA and more.As a restaurant owner, you know there are certain types of restaurant insurance that you need to protect your business.

What if a customer is injured on your property and sues you? How will you repair the damages if there’s a fire in your kitchen? There are so many “what-ifs” in any business, especially if you’re in the food industry.

While you may have perfected your Béarnaise sauce and learned how to create a soufflé that stands tall, what do you really know about insurance? How well do you know each type of insurance and how much coverage you need? Let’s face it; insurance can be complicated!

That’s why your best bet is to work with an independent insurance broker who specializes in restaurant insurance and can help ensure that you have the right coverage at the best price.

 

Here are 3 Things to Consider Before Signing on the Dotted Line

#1. Assess your Risks and Insurance Needs

Play the “what if” game to determine what kind of risks your business may be susceptible to and then consider what assets are essential to running your business – the ones you can’t do business without. An underwriter from your insurance company will determine the level of risk it is willing to take and how much coverage it is ready to provide to determine your insurance premiums.

However, it’s still good to know what protection you need. And things change – maybe your business is growing, or you sold a piece of equipment – so you’ll want to have a yearly insurance checkup with your insurance agent to make sure you still have the right coverage to protect your business.

#2. Realize that Cheaper May Not Be Better

It’s true that you don’t want to pay more for insurance than you have to, but if you purchase the cheapest insurance, and it doesn’t cover you when something happens, that isn’t protecting your business. 

Many restaurant owners increase the deductible to save money on their premiums. That’s often a good idea, but make sure you have enough available cash to cover that deductible if something happens. Before raising that deductible, ask yourself, what financial resources do I have available and what level of risk am I willing to take.

The best way to save money is to work with a broker who can get you the best price on the coverage you need by comparing prices from several insurance agencies.

#3. Understand What You’re Signing Before You Sign

Insurance policies can be complicated, but it’s essential that you understand the terms of your policy and the exact coverage that it provides. Make sure that you understand the exclusions and look for gaps where additional coverages may be needed.

For example, if you have a liquor license, general liability usually doesn’t cover that, but liquor liability insurance does. Talk to your insurance broker and ask questions - that’s what we’re here for.

Remember, the purpose of business insurance is to protect your business. To make sure that you’re covered if you get sued or if there’s a fire in your kitchen, or if any number of unforeseen incidents occur. You want to be certain that an accident cannot put you out of business.
 

Get Help. Contact the Restaurant Insurance Specialists!

Get the best restaurant insurance at an affordable price. Serving Philadelphia, Berks County, the Lehigh Valley, Allegheny County and more.Don't go it alone. Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

We specialize in quality restaurant insurance at affordable pricing, and provide prompt service not only when you’re purchasing your insurance, but also if you have a claim.

We have access to multiple insurance companies and will shop and compare both coverage and cost to ensure that you have the right insurance to protect your business at the best possible price.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Business Insurance, Bar Insurance, Nightclub Insurance

Prevent Cargo Theft and Reduce Truck Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 01, 2018

Tips to reduce cargo theft and thereby lower your PA truck insurance costs in Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Pittsburgh, Erie, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and beyond.The good news: During the first quarter of 2018, the number of cargo thefts in U.S. and Canada dropped 23% year-over-year.

The bad news: cargo theft is still costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars, and experts agree that it’s most likely under-reported. Trucking Insurance Costs are, of course, impacted by all forms of cargo theft.

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.”

There are Several Types of Cargo Theft Including…

  • Theft of a full truckload that may also include the theft of the trailer, truck, or storage container.

  • Theft of goods from a warehouse or facility storing goods.

  • Pilferage – the theft of a few pieces or a small quantity of a relatively large shipment. Experts believe that this is one of the more under-reported types of cargo theft.

  • Fictitious pickup – Technology was responsible for an increase in this type of theft that includes the use of deception such as using aliases to divert or steal cargo.

  • Hijacking – Taking control of a truck and its cargo. This form can be dangerous to drivers and carries more severe criminal penalties.

Cargo Theft Statistics

According to CargoNet®, there were 159 events involving cargo theft reported in the first quarter of 2018– a drop of 23% year-over-year. The average value also dropped from $164,185 in the first quarter of 2017 to $90,883 per event in the first-quarter of 2018. Sounds good for lowering trucking insurance costs, right?

An increase in successful law enforcement investigations is attributed for much of the decline in cargo thefts. For example, New Jersey State Police now have specialized cargo theft units working with local and county law enforcement agencies.

The food and beverage industry is still the hardest hit with nonalcoholic beverages being the most stolen kind of food and beverage freight. Household cargo was the second and electronics cargo (up 64% year-over-year) was the third most stolen commodity.

Timing of Cargo Thefts 

Most cargo thefts occur on the weekend. According to Keeptruckin.com, in 2017, 19 % of all cargo thefts occurred on Friday, 17% on Saturday, and 16% on Sunday. 37% of those thefts happened when the cargo was left unattended for multiple days without electronic tracking.

High Risk States 

The three states with the highest number of cargo thefts are California, New Jersey, and Texas, which is no surprise because California and New York contain the three largest container ports in North America and Texas is at the center of cross-border freight. 

Preventing Cargo Theft

Prevention is always the best line of defense when it comes to theft. Here are five tips to help prevent cargo theft.

  1. Driver awareness – A driver should be aware of his or her surroundings. Before getting back in the truck after a stop, they should walk around the vehicle to see if anything looks amiss. If a theft has occurred, there’s a better chance of catching the thief if law enforcement knows where it happened.

  1. Keep the cargo moving – Many thefts occur at rest stops, so if you can keep the load moving, there are fewer opportunities for thieves. For example, driver teams and mileage minimums can reduce the number of stops and keep the cargo moving.
     
  1. Tail-to-tail parking – This is such a simple approach. Whenever possible, drivers should park trailers back-to-back or tail-to-tail when parked at a rest stop to block the entrance to the trailer.

  1. Utilize electronics – More trucking companies are using things like GPS tracking devices and geofencing apps to protect their cargo. CargoNet has a tool that – RouteSearch – that is supposed to be able to identify theft risk by route. There’s even technology that can remotely shut down a stolen vehicle. If you can’t or don’t want to invest in technology, padlocks and kingpin locks can also help deter thieves.

  1. Know the “hot” spots, times, and cargo – When you’re in California, New Jersey, or Texas, be extra careful, when traveling on the weekend be extra vigilant, and when transporting food items or electronics, be more cautious.

Protecting Your Business with Cargo Insurance

Cargo Insurance is often covered by transportation insurance policies, but it’s important to make sure it’s there and to make sure you have enough coverage for whatever you’re hauling. Practicing these preventative tips can reduce the number of thefts and reduce your risk, which often translates into lower insurance premiums.

How to Get the Right Insurance Coverage for Your Trucking Operation

Contact us for the best deal on PA Truck InsuranceTo learn more about saving on all types of truck insurance, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Our independent agents work hard to find you the best insurance, comparing rates and coverage from competing insurance companies.

The result? A smart policy at a super price! So don't overpay. Instead, contact us today!

Repetitive Motion Injuries and Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 24, 2018

Workers-Comp-Insurance-Repetitive-MotionThere is a very simple way to reduce health insurance and workers compensation insurance costs: provide a safer work environment and reduce the number of workplace injuries. We said it was simple, not easy.

Musculoskeletal Disorders - Largest Category of Workplace Injuries

We spend a lot of time talking about safety in the workplace in more dangerous industries such as construction and trucking, but every workplace has its safety risks. One risk almost every worker faces is Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), also known as repetitive motion injuries. MSDs are the largest category of workplace injuries. According to OSHA, MSDs are responsible for 34 percent of all lost-workday injuries and illnesses, account for $1 of every $3 spent for workers’ compensation, and cost U.S. companies as much as $50 billion every year in direct costs.

In addition to increased medical and insurance costs, MSDs cause painful injuries that sometimes require surgery and prescription medications, reduce productivity, and decrease morale. While most MSDs are very preventable, many companies do little or nothing to reduce or eliminate MSD risks. A proactive, prevention-focused approach to MSDs can save your business a significant amount of money and your employees a great deal of pain. Preventing an injury rather than treating it just makes good business sense.

What are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

MSDs, Aka repetitive motion injuries are injuries that affect the movement of the musculoskeletal system including muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, discs, blood vessels, etc., and they can impact any employee from an office worker to a construction worker.

The parts of the body usually affected by MSDs include the arms, hands, fingers, neck, back, wrists, legs, and shoulders. Common MSDs include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis, Tension Neck Syndrome, Herniated disc, etc.

When employees are exposed to MSD risk factors, a certain part or parts of their bodies become fatigued, and when that fatigue continues more rapidly than the body can recover, a musculoskeletal imbalance occurs, which can eventually lead to an MSD.

Workplace tasks that can cause this fatigue – known as ergonomic risk factors - include things like high-task repetition (cycle time of 30 seconds or less), forceful exertions, awkward postures, static postures, quick motions, compression or contact stress, vibrations, and cold temperatures.

What is Ergonomics?

OSHA defines ergonomics as “the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.” According to OSHA, “Ergonomics draws on a number of scientific disciplines, including physiology,biomechanics, psychology, anthropometry, industrial hygiene, and kinesiology.”

By identifying ergonomic hazards in a workplace and adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment, employers can reduce physical stress on their employees’ bodies and eliminate many MSDs.

How to Develop an Effective Ergonomic Program

To develop an effective ergonomic program, you need to identify potential ergonomic risk factors by reviewing operations and work practices; examine injury and MSD history within your company and information from OSHA, insurance companies, and other sources; and survey the employees performing the jobs.

Control methods of an ergonomic program may include engineering controls or work practice controls. Engineering controls may consist of eliminating excessive force and awkward posture requirements by using mechanical assists, counterbalance systems, adjustable height lift tables and workstations, powered equipment, and ergonomic tools. Work practice controls may include training on safe and effective procedures to complete tasks, job rotation to avoid prolonged periods of performing a single task, and regularly scheduled rest or stretch breaks. 

Recognizing and controlling ergonomic risk factors is an essential step to providing a safe workplace for all of your employees and improving your bottom line. Good ergonomics is good economics. So is good insurance.

Protect Your Business With Great Insurance - Learn More

We offer PA Workers Compensation Insurance for businesses in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Pittsburgh, Erie, Hanover, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and beyond.To learn more about properly protecting your business, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

Our independent agents can educate you on your options and provide you with great business insurance at an unbeatable price! Call today to learn more.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance, Repetitive Motion Injuries

Heavy Equipment Safety and Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 17, 2018

Tips for safely dealing with heavy equipment in the construction industry, resulting in lower contractor and commercial insurance rates in PA, including Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, Erie and beyond. Whenever the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases its list of the deadliest jobs in America, some type of construction work is on that list.

According to the BLS, there were 991 fatal work injuries in construction in 2016. They listed first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers as the ninth deadliest job with 134 fatal injuries and a fatal injury rate of 18 per 100,000 workers.

Roofers were number four (behind only aircraft pilots, fishers, and logging workers) with 101 fatal injuries and a fatal injury rate of 48.6 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers.

It's Wise to be Properly Insured 

No one would argue that construction is a dangerous job, and one of the elements that make it dangerous is the use of heavy equipment. According to the Center for Construction and Research Training (CPWR), vehicles and heavy mobile equipment caused 7,681 deaths from 1992 to 2010 with about 404 deaths annually.

Plus, even when vehicles and equipment are involved in an accident, they are often not listed as the cause of death. Given these facts, it's clear that having the proper contractor insurance is key for those in the construction industry. 

Types of Dangerous Heavy Equipment

Cranes have been the most dangerous heavy equipment machinery used in the construction industry for the past two decades. CPWR found that from 1992 through 2006, 632 of all the construction fatalities reported were caused by cranes. In 2008, crane collapses caused 25 deaths and 59 injuries, contact with overhead power lines resulted in ten fatalities and eight injuries. Contact with crane load caused six deaths and ten injuries.

But cranes aren’t the only dangerous type of heavy equipment. Here is a list of the top five most dangerous construction equipment:

  1. Cranes
  2. Bulldozers
  3. Dump trucks
  4. Backhoes
  5. Excavators

Heavy Equipment Safety

Yes, experience does go a long way to ensure the safety of heavy equipment operators and those working around them. The danger comes when someone who has been working on the job for a long time is lured into a false sense of security and lets their guard down.

Distractions Can Cause Accidents

Today, one of the most common dangers may be simple distractions – both external and internal - that can affect veteran and novice heavy equipment operators alike, and many of these distractions can be avoided.

Before cell phones became so ubiquitous, many heavy equipment operators listened to radios. This was distracting enough (and could keep the operator from hearing if something is wrong with the machinery or someone is shouting at them), but cell phones have taken that distraction to a whole new level. 

Today’s cell phones allow operators to listen to music, text, watch videos, play games, check social media, search for information online and make phone calls. Some operators use earbuds to block out external noises. All of this can lead to distraction and danger.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has addressed the use of cell phones in cranes. OSHA states; “The [crane or derrick] operator must not engage in any practice or activity that diverts his/her attention while actually engaged in operating the equipment, such as the use of cellular phones (other than when used for signal communications).”

While OSHA doesn’t address this with other types of heavy equipment, it’s a smart safety measure to employ across the board to both operators and those working around heavy equipment.

Do You Have a Safety Policy? 

The best way to avoid distractions of any kind and keep your workers safe is to have a safety policy in place that forbids the use of cell phones while operating or working around heavy equipment, educate workers on that policy, and address any issues as soon as they arise.

Protect Your Business with the Right Type of Insurance

Get the right insurance for the construction industryUnfortunately, accidents still happen, but the right insurance can help protect you and your employees if an injury does occur. Workers Compensation Insurance, which is often a state mandate, can provide wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured on the job.

Commercial Liability Insurance can help protect your business from lawsuits. Various types of insurance can be combined to create a custom Contractor Insurance policy as well. 

To learn more about these and other types of commercial insurance, call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

 

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Construction Equipment Insurance, Heavy Equipment Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Restaurant Insurance and Food Truck Safety

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 10, 2018

Food truck safety tips to lower your restaurant commercial insurance in Allentown, Reading, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.Food Trucks may have started as a big-city phenomenon, but their numbers are growing in big and small towns alike. While the restaurant industry continues to grow at a steady rate of approximately 2% each year, food trucks have increased at a rate of 7.9% annually over the past five years, according to FoodTruckr.com. In 2017, food trucks were a $2 million industry.

Much of the appeal may be the relatively low start-up and operating costs. But as with any business, food trucks come with their share of risks. The right type of restaurant insurance can help protect your investment if something happens. Taking proactive steps to avoid that “dreaded something” from happening can save lots of time, money, and headaches, and avoid increased restaurant insurance premiums as well.

Here are three food truck risks you should consider and tips to help you mitigate them:

Damage to Your Vehicle

Your food truck is your livelihood, and if something were to happen to it – like a fire or auto accident – that puts your vehicle out of commission for any length of time, your business could be in jeopardy. Here are some tips to avoid damage to your food truck:

  • Vet your employees.
    We know you have a lot of things to consider when hiring someone new, but if they will be driving your truck, it’s essential to check their driving record. If they’ve had multiple accidents or speeding tickets, the chances of them damaging your truck in an accident are probably higher. Plus, employees with bad driving records could cost you more on commercial auto insurance.

  • Drive Safely.
    While your food truck is in motion, there’s always the possibility of an accident. However, there are safety measures that you can take and that you can share with your employees such as being an alert driver, maintaining your truck, Keeping enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you, etc. Mobile-Cuisine offers these food truck driving safety Tips.

Injury to an Employee

There are a lot of dangers in the food industry that also apply to food trucks like falling, burns, cuts, etc. Your employees can be your biggest asset and your biggest liability. Practicing safety in the kitchen can help save you money on Workers’ Compensation and liability costs, and it’s just good business. Here are tips to create a safe kitchen for your food truck:

  • Create and enforce a safety plan.
    This is a big one. It can be time-consuming, but it is well worth your time if it can avoid causing injury to employees or customers.

  • Train your employees.
    Creating a safety plan and then simply letting it sit in a drawer gathering dust is a waste of time and money. Make sure your employees understand and follow the safety procedures you’ve put in place. Make it clear that safety is a priority and hat your safety plan isn’t just a formality, but something that every employee is expected to follow.

  • Create a safe environment.
    Try to eliminate potential hazards by keeping floors clean and uncluttered, providing personal protective equipment when appropriate, properly maintaining kitchen equipment, and following manufacturers’ instructions.

                 

Injury or Illness of a Customer

In this litigious society that we live in, every business owner needs to be aware of liability risks. If a customer standing in lines trips, falls, and hurts themselves, they could sue you. If they suffer from a food-related illness after eating your food, they could sue you. Liability insurance is a must, but here are some steps to limit injury and illness to your customers:

  • To avoid food-related illnesses, follow food handling and safety measures such as storing food correctly, following proper cooking procedures, preventing cross-contamination, and practicing proper handwashing techniques.

  • Ensure that the area around your truck is clear of hazards such as slippery surfaces, cords, etc., and clearly mark any potential hazards you may not be able to control.

Get the Best Commercial Insurance for Your Restaurant Business 

Being proactive is important, but sometimes no matter how careful you are, accidents still happen. This is where the right insurance can help protect your business.

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in all types of Commercial Insurance. Their independence means they are free to shop the market to get you the best deal on insurance that's right for your business.  

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

 

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Food Truck Insurance

3 Ways Trucking Firms Can Save on Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Thu, May 31, 2018

Tips for how trucking companies can save on Workers Compensation Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Lancaster County, PA and beyond.Workers Compensation Insurance for interstate trucking companies can be complicated, but it is required by most states. And, due to the dangerous nature of truck driving, it is essential for the well-being of both truck drivers and trucking companies.

Determining Workers Compensation Insurance Risks

The first challenge comes when insurance underwriters try to determine a trucking company’s risks. Each state has its own workers comp insurance base rates, requirements, and rules. To further complicate matters, sometimes a trucking company is located in one state, the truck driver resides in another, and the WC injury occurs in yet another state. While there are interstate payroll classification codes available from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), those codes don’t apply to three highly-traveled states: California, New York, and Texas.

The 7th Deadliest Occupation

Another challenge is the dangerous nature of the occupation. With all the time truck drivers spend on the road, it’s probably no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists truck driving as the seventh deadliest occupation. In 2016, there were 918 fatal injuries making the fatal injury rate for truck drivers 24.7 per 100,000 full-time employees.

Health and Injuries 

What may surprise you is that truck drivers also tend to be less healthy than the average worker, which makes them more prone to other types of injuries. Drivers sit for long periods of time and then have brief periods of strenuous labor as they load and unload their trucks. Many truck drivers also have unhealthy lifestyles that include a minimal amount of exercise, being overweight, and having irregular sleep habits. This causes a disproportionate number of musculoskeletal injuries compared to other occupations and poor overall physical health that often impacts employee recovery time when they are injured. 

The most common injuries truck drivers experience are vehicle accidents, slips and falls climbing in and out of the cab or trailer and on loading docks, trains, and back injuries while loading and unloading cargo, carpal tunnel, and crush injuries caused by loads falling on the driver. Many truck drivers also attribute kidney stones and hemorrhoids to their jobs but rarely claim either as an occupational injury or disease. 

Despite its complexities, here are 3 ways trucking companies can save on workers’ compensation insurance:

  1. Develop a Safety Program

Take the time to develop a comprehensive safety program specific to your business and give a copy of your safety policies to every truck driver along with safety guidelines specific to eliminating injuries in drivers. Also, create a culture of safety by making it clear that every driver is expected to follow your safety policies or face the consequences and requiring every driver to attend at least one annual safety training to reinforce your safety policies.

  1. Perform Drug Testing

Drug testing will not only affect your workers compensation insurance costs but also your liability insurance costs. You should test every new hire and conduct random drug testing and mandatory drug testing after an accident that causes damage to property or injury to the driver or anyone else.

  1. Health & Wellness Program

An effective health and wellness program may reduce the cost of both WC and health insurance benefits. These programs can help reduce injuries and help employees recover more quickly from injuries. This may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the WC savings you could experience just by reducing obesity alone will pay for the cost of the health and wellness program.  

CAUTION - Don't Misclassify Drivers!

It’s very tempting to try to reduce your workers comp insurance costs by classifying all of your drivers as independent contractors, but the only drivers who should be classified as independent contractors are those who regularly drive for other companies. If the driver is only driving for your company and you’re designating when and where the loads are picked up and dropped off, the IRS and the state board of workers’ compensation will consider them your employees – not independent contractors.

The penalties and fines that you can face for not having WC for employees could quickly put a small or medium-sized trucking company out of business. Plus, drivers whose WC claims are denied can (and often do) sue your company for medical bills, pain and suffering (which is not paid under WC), and the loss of all wages (as opposed to the typical two-thirds of wages paid by most WC claims).

Get the Right Workers Comp Insurance for Your Business 

While workers compensation insurance for trucking companies can be complicated, the WC experts at American Insuring Group can provide affordable and reliable workers compensation to protect both your employees and your business.

Don't take chances - call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

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

Restaurant Insurance & the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point

Posted by David Ross on Thu, May 24, 2018

Restaurant Insurance and HACCP guidelines. Affordable restaurant insurance for Berks County, Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster County, Allegheny County, PA and beyond.Every year 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and over half of all reported foodborne illnesses are attributed to foodservice. 

In addition to the human cost (sickness, medical costs, lost work), a foodborne-illness outbreak at your restaurant can cost thousands of dollars and sometimes the loss of your business. It can cause negative media exposure, damage your reputation, decrease sales, affect staff morale, create lawsuits, and increase your restaurant insurance premiums.

Every food product that you serve has gone through several levels of the supply chain, and there are hazards at every level that can cause sickness or injury. Fortunately, these hazards can be reduced, prevented, and even eliminated.

Managing Food Safety via the HACCP System

Smart restaurant owners do what they can to reduce foodborne hazards, and there are many food safety management plans available. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is one of the most widely used system, and it is endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods and the Codex Alimentarius as the best process control system available today. The FDA says, “HACCP is designed for use in all segments of the food industry from growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distributing, and merchandising to preparing food for consumption.”

The History of HACCP and Food Safety

HACCP was introduced in the 1960s to produce the safest and highest quality food possible for astronauts in the space program. The HACCP Alliance defines the HACCP system as “a process control system that identifies where hazards might occur in the food production process and puts into place stringent actions to prevent the hazards from occurring. By strictly monitoring and controlling each step of the process, there is less chance for hazards to occur.”

A Proactive Approach to Food Safety

One of the advantages of HACCP is that it prevents food safety hazards rather than reacting to food safety hazards; it prioritizes and controls potential hazards. And it can be customized to your restaurant’s menu, customers, equipment, processes, and operations.

Compliance May not be Mandatory, but it's Really Smart!

Most restaurants are not required to have an HACCP plan, but it is one of the best systems available to ensure the safety of the food within your restaurant, and, as a big bonus, it is likely to help reduce your restaurant insurance premiums by lowering the number of insurance claims submitted.

 

Seven Principles of HACCP

HACCP is based on seven principles, according to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological criteria for foods. Here they are:

Principle 1: Conduct a Hazard Analysis

Identify food safety hazards - any biological, chemical, or physical property that may cause a food to be unsafe for human consumption - and take preventative measures to control these hazards.

Principle 2: Determine Critical Control Points

A critical control point (CCP) is a point, step, or procedure in the manufacturing or preparation of food where a control can be applied to prevent, reduce, or eliminate a food safety hazard.

Principle 3: Establish Critical Limits

A critical limit is a maximum/minimum level to which a biological, chemical, or physical factor must be raised/reduced to in order to prevent, reduce, or eliminate a food safety hazard

Principle 4: Establish Monitoring Procedures

Monitoring is a planned sequence of observations or measurements to assess whether a CCP is under control and to produce an accurate record for future use in verification.

Principle 5: Establish Corrective Actions

Ideal circumstances do not always prevail and deviations from established processes may occur requiring corrective actions.

Principle 6: Verify That the System Works

Once an HACCP is in place, make sure the system is operating according to plan and delivering the desired results.

Principle 7: Keep Accurate Records and Documentation

Restaurant owners should maintain the following records: a summary of the hazard analysis - including the rationale for determining hazards and control measures - and the HACCP Plan - including a brief summary of the position responsible for performing the activity and the procedures and frequency.

Contact Us for Better Restaurant Insurance at a Better Price! 

Get a better deal on Restaurant Insurance - Contact American Insuring Group in Berks County, PAAn HACCP plan is one of the best ways to ensure the safety of the food that you serve and to protect your customers, your employees, and your bottom line.

The right restaurant insurance is a safety net that protects you in the event that all of your precautions aren’t enough.

The experienced agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Restaurant Insurance, and best of all, they're independent. That means we are free to shop the market to get a plan that matches your needs with a great price!

So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online to see how we can help you save on your bar, nightclub, food truck, or any other type of restaurant insurance.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Food Truck Insurance, Bar Insurance, Nightclub Insurance

Trucking Insurance Rates and the ELD Mandate

Posted by David Ross on Sun, May 06, 2018

The ELD Mandate impacts insurance rates. We provide affordable truck insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster County, PA and beyond.It’s a little early to know for sure how the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate has affected businesses in the trucking industry, but so far, the response seems to be a mixed bag.

Some say they haven’t seen any changes to their business and some have thrown in the towel and closed up shop saying the mandate is too cost prohibitive.

The compliance deadline for the ELD mandate affects three million drivers and went into effect December 18, 2017. It requires commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) involved in Interstate Commerce, to use an ELD.

 

3 Main Areas of Impact for the Electronic Logging Device Mandate

Based on what we’ve seen so far, it looks as if the three areas that are most likely to see the biggest impact from the new mandate are insurance rates, productivity, and cost.

Insurance Rates

Safety is the driving force behind the mandate imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA). The FMCSA has said, “The electronic logging device (ELD) rule – congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21 – is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.”

The idea is that ELDs (as opposed to the paper and pen method) will capture Hours of Service (HoS) more accurately and ensure that drivers are following safety and compliance standards, which should in turn reduce the number of accidents caused by fatigue. 

According the FreightWaves, driving more than 12 hours since the last main sleep is associated with an 86% increase in crash risk and driving more than five hours without stopping (getting out of the driver’s seat) more than doubles the risk of an accident. The FMCSA estimates that the ELD mandate will prevent about 20 fatalities and 434 injuries caused by driver fatigue every year.

Safer roadways and fewer accidents should produce lower truck insurance premiums. ELDs may also reduce or possibly eliminate lawsuits in which the plaintiff alleges that fatigue due to driving outside the HoS limits is the cause of an accident. Fewer lawsuits should also equal lower insurance premiums.

Plus, some ELDs offer more features and reporting capabilities – such as GPS tracking and engine data reporting – that can be used to improve asset utilization and increase preventative maintenance. Carriers that use these more-advanced devices may be able to use this information to lower their auto insurance premiums. 

Increased Cost Per Truck Annually

Complying with the mandate carries with it some up-front costs. FMCSA estimates that the average annual cost of an ELD is $495 per truck, with a total range of $165 to $832 per truck on an annualized basis. That may not sound like much, but consider a carrier with 10 vehicles that did not have ELDs prior to the mandate. They’re looking at an additional yearly cost of almost $5,000. In an industry with tight margins like the trucking industry, $5,000 every year can have a significant impact.

On the flip side, the FMCSA projects that ELDs will save more than $1.6 billion each year from paperwork savings alone. Add to that expected decreases in maintenance costs, reduced truck downtime, and lower crash rates, and that’s a pretty impressive savings.

Driver Productivity - Up or Down?

This area is the biggest mixed bag. The general mind-set is that automating any process, should save time. ELDs will eliminate the time required to write driver information in a log book. Everything will be done automatically for them.

However, some companies – particularly smaller companies - haven’t been fully complying with HoS restrictions prior to the mandate. With the information now being logged electronically, they’ll have no choice but to follow those restrictions or risk expensive fines. These companies will see a drop in driver productivity.

According to FreightWaves, smaller carriers, which make up 90-97% of trucking companies, will experience a 4-20% decline in productivity.

Another problem some drivers have reported is that many shippers and receivers aren’t ready for the mandate, and long hold times are creating problems for drivers who are spending too much time sitting at the dock.

In a DAT blog asking for feedback from carriers, drivers, freight brokers, and shippers about the new mandate, Marina Andreyreva commented, “ELDs were installed in all my trucks before the ELD mandate. There have been many changes in dispatching. So far, all delivery times have been rescheduled due to long hold times at the shipper. Problems at shippers now heavily reflect on drivers’ hours. This must be addressed in order to operate efficiently for both drivers and company owners. Brokers need to be aware of HOS and understand the law in order to build freight accordingly.”

We Can Help Smooth Your Transition to ELD 

Only time will tell the full impact of this new mandate, but American Insuring Group is here to help smooth the transition for our trucking insurance customers. As a representative of Progressive Insurance, we can offer participation in their SMARTHAUL program.

With the SMARTHAUL program, you have two options:

  • The free use of an ELD
    This includes the monthly subscription/service fees as long as you share your driving data with Progressive. The device would need to be returned if you decide to opt-out or cancel your coverage with Progressive.

  • The compensation program
    If you purchase your own Rand McNally ELD 50 or DC200 and agree to share your driving data with Progressive, you’ll receive $100 for plugging it in and an additional $100 for each quarter that the device stays plugged in – up to $500. You will be responsible for the monthly service fees, but the $500 compensation should cover those costs.

Save Big on Trucking Insurance with American Insuring Group

Call us to save on Truck InsuranceTo learn more about the SMARTHAUL program, or to start saving BIG on trucking insurance, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.  

But don’t wait; the program is only available for a limited time.

Tags: truck insurance, Electronic Logging Devices - ELD, ELD Mandate

5 Tips to Lower your Contractor Insurance Cost

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 29, 2018

Save on Contractor Insurance by following these tipsHaving the protection offered by contractor’s Insurance just makes good business sense. Without it, one nasty lawsuit could put you out of business and your employees out of work. And don’t forget: some state and federal laws require certain types of insurance.

But finding the right contractor’s insurance is a balancing act. You don’t want to pay for more coverage than you need to reasonably protect yourself, your employees, and your business. But then again, you don’t want to find yourself underinsured if something does happen. Remember Goldilocks? You want it "just right".

Using an insurance broker who is familiar with contractors’ needs and risks is the best way to ensure that you have the right amount of coverage at the best possible price.

 

Here are five tips to help minimize your contractor insurance premiums without giving up the protection you need

 

#1) Review Your Policies Regularly

Things change. You may have purchased a new piece of equipment, hired your first employee, or sold a vehicle. You want to make sure that all of your current assets are adequately protected. When you do a review, you should consider the different types of insurance available to contractors and determine if any of them need to be added or deleted from your current policy.

Here are the five insurances you should be familiar with as a contractor:

  • Commercial General Liability (CGL) – Construction is one of the most dangerous industries, making CGL Insurance an essential part of your insurance portfolio. It protects you and your company if someone gets hurt on your property or if you or an employee causes property damage or injury on a job site.

  • Commercial Auto – If you have started using your personal vehicle to drive back and forth to project sites or to transport tools or equipment or if you’ve begun allowing employees to drive your car or truck, personal auto insurance does not provide enough coverage. You may need to add Commercial Auto Insurance.

  • Workers’ Compensation (WC) – If you have employees, you may be required by law to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance. WC is meant to ensure that your employees who are disabled due to a work-related injury are compensated for lost wages and receive the necessary medical treatment. To learn more about WC requirements in Pennsylvania, go to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

  • Inland Marine Insurance (Aka Tools and Equipment Insurance) – What’s more important than your tools of the trade? Inland Marine Insurance is designed to protect your property when it is in transit.

  • Builder’s Risk Insurance - Builders risk insurance is designed to protect your equipment in the event of losses caused by theft and other perils that can occur.

#2) Check your deductibles

Increasing your insurance deductible (the amount you need to pay when you file a claim) is one way to decrease your premiums (what you pay for your insurance coverage). If you have enough money in savings to comfortably cover a higher deductible, this may be a good choice for you. 

But be careful. The purpose of insurance is to protect you financially if something happens – an accident, theft, lawsuit, etc. If you don’t have the financial resources to cover the costs of your deductible, then your insurance policy isn’t providing the financial protection you need and could expose you to risks that affect your business – in the worst case, shutting it down.

#3) Bundle your insurance policies

Bundling is kind of like economies of scale. Sometimes if you purchase more than one insurance policy with the same provider, it can be less expensive per policy. Ask your insurance agent if bundling your policies would save you money.

#4) Know when to make a claim (and when not to)

The fact is that the number of claims you submit can affect your insurance premiums, so sometimes it makes sense to pay for certain losses out of pocket. If making a small claim will increase your insurance premiums, it may be less expensive in the long run to pay the minor loss out of pocket.

#5) Risk Management

If you can determine potential hazards and how to avoid them and implement a risk management plan, you will probably have fewer losses and injuries, which means you’ll have fewer claims. Fewer claims usually mean lower premiums. Plus, there are many intangible benefits in keeping your employees and your equipment safe – higher employee morale, higher productivity, less downtime, etc.

 

Don't Overpay for Contractor Insurance!

Contact us to save on Contractor Insurance. Serving Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, PA and beyond.As an insurance broker, American Insuring Group specializes in contractors insurance. We can ensure that you have insurance required by law, help you determine risks specific to your industry, and create the best insurance bundle to protect your business, all at a great price. Even Goldilocks would find our insurance to be "just right"!

To learn how we can help save you money on any type of commercial insurance coverage, call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance