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Warning Signs of Workers Comp Insurance Fraud

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 10, 2019

Use these warning signs to reduce the risk of workers comp insurance fraud, and then save on WC insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and elsewhere.The majority of employees are honest, and the majority of workers compensation insurance claims are legitimate.

Unfortunately, there is a small group of people who commit workers compensation fraud, and they cost companies billions of dollars every year in rising insurance premiums, production delays, and training costs. 


What is EMPLOYEE Workers Comp Insurance Fraud?

Workers Compensation fraud occurs when a WC claim is filed that is not entirely truthful to get money or extended time off. Fraudulent claims include faking or exaggerating an injury, claiming an injury that occurred off the job, or claiming an old injury that didn’t heal.

Workers comp fraud is a serious crime, and one of the fastest growing types of insurance fraud in the U.S. Estimates place the cost of WC fraud to companies at $6 to $7 billion every year.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize WC fraud by both employees and providers.

One of the first steps is to recognize common warning signs.

 

13 Warning Signs of EMPLOYEE Workers Comp Fraud

Protect your business from WC insurance fraud by recognizing the warning signs of fraudulent claims:

  1. No witnesses
  2. An injured employee refusing treatment
  3. Delayed reporting of injury
  4. Conflicting or inconsistent report of the incident
  5. An employee with a history of making WC claims
  6. An employee with a history of frequently changing addresses, jobs, or physicians
  7. Suspicious medical providers or legal consultants
  8. An injury that occurs just before or after a weekend or holiday
  9. An injury that occurs right before or after job termination, layoff, end of seasonal work, a strike, or the end of a project
  10. An injured employee working a side job
  11. An injured employee doing activities that would not be possible with the claimed injury
  12. An injured employee who is difficult to get in touch with
  13. An injured employee who hires an attorney and tries to get a quick settlement

Never accuse an employee of fraud. If you see two or more of these warning signs, notify your insurance company immediately, but remember these are just potential signs that there could be an issue. It doesn’t mean that every workplace injury that occurs with no witnesses is fraudulent or that every injured employee who is hard to get in touch with is lying. They are just indicators that there may be a problem. 

How to Minimize Employee WC Fraud

  • Follow a screening process for all new employees by conducting thorough background checks of all applicants, contacting references, and watching for red flags such as a spotty work record or a criminal record
  • Create clear WC policies and establish a zero-tolerance policy on WC fraud
  • Clearly communicate these policies with new hires and provide WC fraud training
  • Create a culture of safety to reduce opportunities for fraudulent claims
  • Install video surveillance
  • Consider establishing ways that employees can report suspicious or fraudulent claims anonymously
  • If you suspect fraud, notify your insurance carrier immediately and provide supporting documentation.



What is PROVIDER Workers Comp Insurance Fraud?

Unfortunately, it isn’t just employees who commit WC fraud; providers of WC benefits such as medical and legal professionals sometimes take advantage of WC programs with unnecessary billing, fake clinics, kickback schemes, and inflated worker injuries or service costs

8 Warning Signs of Provider WC Fraud

  1. Billing for services never received
  2. Billing for equipment never used
  3. Billing for treatment that was never performed
  4. Duplicate billing
  5. Higher than usual bills for services performed
  6. Billing for procedures that don’t make sense for the reported injury
  7. Increasing visits
  8. Ongoing medical services that don’t improve injury

WC fraud can cause a ripple effect that touches everyone. Fraudulent claims create additional costs for insurance companies, which can turn into higher insurance premiums for employers. Increasing business costs can cause an increase in prices customers pay, a decrease in employee benefits, or even job cuts.

 

How to Get a Great Deal on Workers Comp Insurance

Our Trusted Choice independent workers comp insurance agents will help you save on the best workers comp insurance for your business. Call today.To learn more about preventing and recognizing WC Fraud and ways to save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance, contact the WC specialists at American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

Our Trusted Choice independent agents will work hard to analyze and compare plans from competing WC insurance carriers, so you’ll get the best price on quality protection.

Call or click today to get started!

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

7 Questions Truckers Should Ask About Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 03, 2019

Truck Insurance Questions to ask your insurance agent in PA, NJ, DE, MD, OH and more.Your truck is your livelihood and the best way to protect it is with the proper truck insurance. By "proper" we mean insurance that covers your specific needs and doesn’t leave any gaps – all at the best price.

The best way to do that is to work with an independent insurance agent – like those at American Insuring Group – who specialize in truck insurance and have the freedom to compare coverage and pricing from several different insurance carriers and then present you with options and recommendations.

Knowing the right questions to ask your agent is important because it will help reveal the depth of their knowledge so you can decide if they are right for you.

Here are seven questions to ask your insurance agent to make sure that you get the right coverage at the right price:

How long have you been selling truck insurance?

The risks, costs, and required coverages involved with an 18-wheeler are significantly different than those of a regular car. Having an agent knowledgeable in truck insurance can help ensure that your investment is adequately protected.

How much coverage is right for me?

A minimum of $1,000,000 liability insurance coverage is mandatory for most commercial trucks, but it’s important to remember that trucks can cause a lot more damage than a car. Ask your agent to take you through what-if scenarios and different limit options available to you. Also, ask about the benefits and costs of an umbrella policy, which can protect you in the event of a catastrophic loss.

Do you offer broad form cargo coverage?

Depending on what you are hauling, the standard $100,000 of cargo coverage may leave gaps in your coverage, so your agent should understand the types of cargo you haul and the risks associated with that cargo. Ask your agent if they offer broad form coverage, which protects you against specific risks not covered by basic cargo insurance.

What is my deductible and do you offer a combined deductible?

Increasing your deductibles should lower the cost of your premiums, but it’s essential that you ensure that you have enough available cash to pay that higher deductible if you need to pay it.

You may have coverage on multiple items such as your tractor, your cargo, and another damaged vehicle (the one you hit), but each of them may come with a separate deductible. With a combined deductible – which doesn’t usually cost much more – you only pay one deductible for all lines of coverage or all vehicles in one claim.

What affects the cost of my premiums?

The most common things that affect your premium costs are age, driving record, years of experience, what you’re hauling, the age of your equipment, area of operation, criminal record, and credit score. If you know what factors are affecting your premium, you may be able to take steps to fix that factor before your next renewal or go with a carrier that doesn’t put as much emphasis on a particular risk.

How quickly can you react to my needs?

Ask them how quickly they can get you your certificate of insurance and how quickly they can change your policy. If you haul different cargo from day to day, you need an agent who can quickly update your policy for you. Ask your agent, “How easy is it to reach you, and if you’re out of the office is there someone else who can help me?”

Most (but not all) insurance companies now have 24-hour claims services. Don’t assume anything; ask your agent if it’s available to you. 

What discounts are available?

Some discounts are required by law such as for airbags or anti-lock brakes, but there are often other discounts that may not be required or as standard but may apply to you. Potential discounts can include paying in full, packaging, prior insurance savings, and more.

 

Ask the Truck Insurance Pros at American Insuring Group!

Experts in truck insurance in Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA, MD, OH, NJ and DE.A good truck insurance agent can not only protect your investment but also be a great asset to your business.

When you’re ready to purchase your next policy, give the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

We’ll be happy to answer these and all of your questions to help you get the right insurance at the best price!

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, truck insurance, Trucking Insurance

How to Guard Against 4 Hazards at Brew Pubs and Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 24, 2019

Brew pub hazards and restaurant insurance protection in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster, PA and moreAccording to the Brewers Association, craft brewing was a $26 billion industry in 2017 and accounted for more than 23% of the $111.4 billion U.S. beer market. While overall beer sales were down about 1%, craft brewing grew at a rate of 5% by volume.

As the demand for craft beers increases, the number of craft breweries continues to rise! For many, making craft brews is fun: creating original recipes, coming up with clever names, and watching people enjoy your creations. In fact, many of these craft breweries are started as hobbies among a bunch of friends or family members in someone’s garage. 

However, it’s important to remember that once you begin selling your beer or if you decide to open a brewpub or restaurant, you need to treat it like a business and that includes addressing safety and risk management. The safer your brewery or restaurant, the safer your workers. Safe workers mean fewer injuries and expenses and perhaps even the difference between a thriving business and one that is forced to shut its doors.

Insurance is Important; Prevention is Key

Insurance will help protect you, your workers, and your brewery or restaurant, but prevention is always your best bet.

There are a surprising number of hazards during the production of beer: grain mills with sharp parts, mash and lauter tuns with boiling ingredients, chemicals, overflowing kettles, pressurized fermenter tanks. Then there hazards common to many industries such as the use of heavy equipment and ladders. 

If you want to keep your workers safe and protect your business from lawsuits and Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) fines, it’s important to recognize potential hazards and address them BEFORE someone is injured or worse.

 

Here are 4 Common Hazards in the Brewing Industry:

1 - Carbon Dioxide Poisoning

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless gas produced during beer fermentation. It’s heavier than air, soit can collect at the bottom of confined spaces and containers such as tanks. When it accumulates, it can lead to dizziness, loss of consciousness, and even death.

According to Crowcon Detection Instruments Ltd, a toxic gas detection equipment manufacturer, “Exposure to as little as 0.5% volume CO2 represents a toxic health hazard, while concentrations greater than 10% volume can lead to death. Because CO2 is completely odorless and colorless, there is no physical indication of danger until it is usually too late.”

Carbon monoxide detectors should be used in confined spaces where CO2 can quickly accumulate, and those areas should only be entered when absolutely necessary. The buddy system can also help avoid issues with CO2

2 - Heavy Equipment

As the volume of beer production increases, breweries to use forklifts and other equipment to move heavy loads like raw materials, pallets of kegs, and cases of beer. It’s essential that a qualified person trains anyone who is going to be operating any of this type of equipment before operating the equipment. 

3 - Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances

Brewers use a variety of hazardous chemicals and toxins such as caustics and acids used in sanitization that can cause irritation, sensitization, corrosion, fires, and explosions. Workers need to be trained on proper handling of hazardous materials, the use of personal protective equipment, and first aid. OSHA requires that safety data sheets be available for every hazardous chemical used. 

4 - Slips and Falls

Falls are one of the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. The use of ladders and catwalks in breweries can create falling hazards. Guardrail systems, safety nets, personal fall protection systems, and training on the proper use of ladders can help prevent falls from higher levels.

Spills should be cleaned up immediately, floors should be kept clean, and any potential hazards clearly marked.

Brewing beer can still be enjoyable, but once you begin selling your beer or decide to open a restaurant, it’s important to assess hazards and take a few safety measures to protect your workers and your business. The right insurance coverage – whether that’s genera liability, workers’ compensation, or liquor liability insurance – provides protection when safety measures fail.

 

Save on Great Insurance for Your Brewery, Brew Pub or Restaurant

Insurance-Savings-Breweries-Restaurants-PA-175Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online to get the right insurance at the best price for your brewery or restaurant.

Our independent insurance agents will compare plans and costs among competing carriers and present the best insurance solution to meet your needs.

Call or click today to get started!

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Brewery Insurance, Brew Pub Insurance

Prevent Struck-By Hazards and Save on Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 17, 2019

Save on Contractor Insurance by preventing these struck-by hazardsA few weeks ago we began discussing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Fatal Four. These are four safety hazards that account for the majority of all construction worker deaths.

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

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

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

We covered caught-in/between hazardsand electrical hazardsin previous blogs. Today our focus is on the second highest cause of fatalities (9.4%) among construction workers – struck-by hazards.

What are Struck-By Hazards?

There are a lot of moving parts at a construction site and many hazards that can cause struck-by injuries. When a worker comes into forcible contact with an object that is flying, falling, swinging, or rolling, a struck-by injury can occur.

The four most common causes of struck-by hazards in the construction industry are flying objects, falling objects, swinging objects, and rolling objects.

Prevention:

Your first line of defense against this type of injury is being aware of your surroundings and using hard hats and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Hard hats should be worn on job sites at all times. They should be properly adjusted to sit firmly and securely on the head, and they should be inspected regularly for cracks, gouges, dents, and other damage. Exposure to sunlight and cleaning solvents can damage or weaken a hard hat, so they should be cleaned with mild soap and stored out of direct sunlight. 

If a hard hat is damaged or worn out, replace it immediately. It’s much cheaper to replace a hard hat than it is an employee.

Employees should also be equipped with additional PPE where appropriate. PPE that can protect against struck-by injuries may include safety glasses, face shields, and steel-toed boots. All PPE should meet American National Standards Institute standardsand all should be inspected regularly and replaced when damaged or worn out.

Here are preventative measures for each of the most common types of struck-by hazards.

Stuck-by Hazard 1: Flying Objects

Nail gun discharge accidents are the most common cause of flying-object injuries. However, thrown debris or tools, a tip flying off a saw blade, or any other object that is flying around the work site can also cause injuries.

Prevention:

Employees should stay clear of the line of sight when a nail gun is being used. And because nail guns create enough force to penetrate plywood and sheetrock, employees should also be aware if a nail gun is being used in an adjacent room. Check out “Nail gun Safety and Workers Compensation” for more information about nail gun safety.

Additional safety measures include regular inspection of all power tools, the use of protective guards, and wearing safety glasses, face shields, or goggles when working with power tools.

Stuck-by Hazard 2: Falling Objects

This type of injury can be caused by falling tools or materials falling off edges or suspended from a crane.

Prevention:

Areas, where work is being performed overhead, should be cordoned off, so employees avoid those areas. Employees who are working overhead should use toeboards, screens, debris nets, and catch platforms to keep tools and materials from falling 

Employees should also be aware of suspended loads and never walk or position themselves under those loads.

Stuck-by Hazard 3: Swinging Objects

Sometimes materials that are being mechanically lifted can begin to sway and can strike a nearby worker.

Prevention:

Employees should be aware when a load is being moved and avoid the swing radius of that load. Workers should also make sure they aren’t in a blind-spot of the heavy equipment operator.

Stuck-by Hazard 4: Rolling Objects

Moving vehicles or heavy equipment usually causes this type of injury, but it can also be caused by objects that roll, move, or slide into an employee.

Prevention:     

First, heavy equipment operators should be adequately trained in how to operate the machinery safely. Second, other employees should be aware of where heavy equipment is being operated and understand where the operators have limited or no visibility.

Contact Us and Get Ready to Save on Contractor Insurance!

These preventative measures can significantly reduce worksite injuries and death, which can lead to lower contractors’ insurance premiums. Another way to lower your contractor insurance costs is to contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. 

As independent agents, we always compare the cost of your construction insurance among competing insurance companies to make sure that you’re getting the right coverage at the very best price!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Save on Workers Comp Insurance Without Losing Protection

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 10, 2019

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

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

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

How is Your Workers Comp Insurance Premium Calculated?

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

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

RATE

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

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

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

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

PAYROLL

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

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Truck Insurance Safety Tips for Drivers on Unfamiliar Roads

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 03, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 - Plan Your Route Ahead of Time

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

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

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

2 - Don’t Make Knee-Jerk Decisions

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

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

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

3 - Communicate With Other Drivers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to Save on Truck Insurance?

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

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

3 Workers Comp Insurance Claim Investigation Tips

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 27, 2019

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

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

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

1 - First Report of Injury 

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 - Recorded Statements from Injured Employee and Witnesses

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

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

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

3 – WC Documentation

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

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

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

 

Save Big on Workers Compensation Insurance!

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

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

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

Contractor Insurance and the Main Cause of Construction Injuries

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

 

4 Leading Causes of Falls and How to Prevent Them

 

1 - Unprotected edges, wall openings, and floor holes

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 - Improper Scaffolding Construction

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

Safety precautions to avoid falling from scaffolding include the following:

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

3 - Unguarded Protruding Steel Rebars

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

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

4 - Misuse of Portable Ladders

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

Most accidents with ladders are caused by the following:

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

Safety precautions when using a ladder include the following:

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

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

The Quickest Way to Lower Your Contractor Insurance Cost

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

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

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

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

Restaurant Insurance Costs and Risk Management

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Restaurant Employee Training

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

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

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

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

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

2 – Restaurant Building Maintenance

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

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

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

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

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

3 – Restaurant Equipment

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

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

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

 

When Plans Fail

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

Contact the Restaurant Insurance Specialists and Start Saving Today!

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

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

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

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Bar Insurance, Nightclub Insurance

5 Questions to Ask about Commercial Truck Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Fri, Jan 04, 2019

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 - How can I save on premiums?

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

 

Take the First Step to Save on Truck Insurance Today!

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

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

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

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