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Comply with OSHA and Save on Workers Comp Insurance

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

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

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

About OSHA


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

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

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

 

OSHA Employer Responsibilities

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

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

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

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

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

 

Employee Complaints

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

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

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

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


OSHA Inspections

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

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

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

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

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

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


Start Saving on Workers Compensation Insurance Today


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

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

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

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

The Right Way to Insure Food Trucks

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 09, 2018

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

Low Start Up Costs

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

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

4 Unique Risks

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

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

Don’t Skimp on Insurance

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

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

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

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

  

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

 

1 - General Liability Insurance

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

2 - Commercial Auto Insurance

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

3 - Business Owner’s Insurance

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

4 - Worker’s Compensation Insurance

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

5 - Additional Insurance

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

Contractor Insurance & Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 02, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

Electrocution – Death by Electrical Shock

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

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

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

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

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

Unaware of the Risks

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

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

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

 

Electrical Safety Measures That Can Lead to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs 

1 - Overhead Power Lines

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

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

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

2 - Ground-Fault Protection 

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

3 - Lockout/Tagout Procedures

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

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

4 - Maintain Cords

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

5 – Other Safety Measures

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

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

 

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

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

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

Call today to get started.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Business Insurance

Quicker Workers Comp Insurance Claim Reporting

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 25, 2018

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

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

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

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

1 - Educate Management

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

2 - Educate New Employees

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

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

3 - Keep Employees Informed

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

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

4 - Create a Company-Wide Culture of Safety

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

5 - Eliminate Accident-Free Incentives

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

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

6 - Make it Easy for Employees to Report Injuries

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

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

 

Ready to Save on Great Workers Comp Insurance?

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

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

 

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

4 Seat Belt Safety Myths for Truck Drivers

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 18, 2018

Seatbelt use can help lower the cost of truck insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, PA and beyond. Contact us to learn more.One of the best ways to reduce truck insurance and other costs is to reduce injuries, and one of the best ways a trucking company can do that is to ensure that ALL drivers wear seatbelts when they are operating a vehicle. Plus, it’s the law, and failure to use a seat belt can result in fines.

Pretty simple, right?

Seat Belts Save Truckers!

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts saved over 12,000 lives in 2001. One recent study reported that 23 percent of combination truck, single-vehicle crashes involved the driver not wearing a safety belt. There is also data that suggests that not wearing a seat belt can be indicative of other risky driving behaviors.

The good news is that the majority of people in vehicles are wearing seatbelts.  According to the NHTSA, 90% of people riding in vehicles were wearing seat belts in 2016. The one in ten who aren’t buckling up leave themselves more vulnerable to injuries and death if they’re in an accident. Younger males and commercial truck drivers are among the most likely NOT to wear a seat belt.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 84% of medium and heavy-duty truck and bus drivers were wearing seat belts in 2013. The rate for passengers in these commercial vehicles was even lower – 73%.

5x as Likely to Die Without Seatbelts – Need a Better Reason?

Here’s what the Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis by the University of Wisconsin found during an analysis of 13,854 crash victims found:

  • Persons not wearing seat belts were 5.4 times as likely to die as those wearing belts.
  • Persons not wearing seat belts were 91% more likely to be hospitalized than those wearing belts.
  • Persons not wearing seat belts were 14% more likely to have EMS transport

So, you can see how not wearing a seat belt can affect your trucking insurance costs and your company’s bottom line.

 

Here are 4 myths about wearing a seat belt to share with your drivers: 

 

#1 - I don’t Need to Wear a Seat Belt if Driving a Short Distance

An accident can happen anytime. If you have to make a sudden stop, or if you’re involved in an accident, your seat belt will keep you in your seat and help to prevent injury or death that can occur from being thrown from your seat into the steering wheel, dash, or windshield or even out of the car.

#2 - Passengers don’t Need to Wear a Seat Belt

According to a 2001 NHTSA report, 60% of all passengers killed in traffic accidents were not wearing a seat belt. 

#3 - I’m Safer Without a Seat Belt

Many people think that it’s better to be thrown clear of the vehicle in the event of a crash. Statistics show otherwise. A person is four times more likely to be fatally injured when thrown from a vehicle.

In 2016, more than 200 truck occupants and drivers died when they were ejected from their cabs during an accident. Wearing a seatbelt can keep you from being dragged along the ground, being crushed under a vehicle, and being thrown through a windshield.

#4 - If I’m a Good Driver, I Don’t Need to Wear a Seat Belt

You may be an excellent driver, but unfortunately, not all drivers on the road are. Plus, there are sometimes factors beyond your control – bad weather, mechanical failure, or a tire blowout – that can cause you to have an accident.

If you want to keep your employees safer and reduce your insurance costs, make it clear to your employees that wearing a seat belt is a requirement, not an option!

 

Here’s an Easy Way to Lower Your Truck Insurance Cost!

Your Trusted Choice Independent Trucking Insurance Agent in PennsylvaniaAnother way to reduce the cost of commercial vehicle insurance, including both trucks and cars, is to work with one of the independent agents at American Insuring Group.

We specialize in truck insurance and will compare the costs and features of competing insurance company policies to make sure that you’re getting the best price on reliable coverage.

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

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

How to Get Injured Employees Back to Work ASAP

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 11, 2018

Strategies to lower your WC costs by getting employees back to work fasterThe majority of injured workers are back on the job within four days.

The longer an injured employee is off the job, the more it costs your company and the less likely the employee will return to work, so one crucial goal of any Workers Compensation Insurance program is to keep injured workers on the job or to get them back to work as quickly as possible.

Here are two time-tested strategies you can use to get your injured workers back to work ASAP: 

1 - Communicate

You should begin discussing your Workers’ Compensation program when an employee is hired. Most employees don’t understand how a WC program works or what is expected of them if they file a claim. Letting them know there is a process in place and that there are certain expectations from the start, can help save a lot of headaches down the road.

All new employees should be given a brochure about your Workers Compensation program including the following information:

  • How medical treatment is provided
  • How and who will pay the bills
  • Your company’s return-to-work (RTW) process

The brochure should clearly state that there will always be an investigation following an accident, that the employer wants the injured employee to return to work as soon as possible, and that they will not be punished for getting hurt.

That same brochure or an abbreviated version should be given to the employee when they are injured, so they have a step-by-step guide for the process. These brochures can help injured workers understand the process and allow them to become engaged in their recovery.

However, it isn’t enough to simply hand an injured employee a brochure. One of the most effective ways to get an injured employee back to work is through direct communication. There’s a good chance that employee is confused or overwhelmed and may feel alone in the process. You need to let them know that they are not alone and that you have their best interests at heart. 

A supervisor or manager that the injured employee knows and trusts should call the worker the day the injury occurs or the following day at the latest. Let them know that you’re sorry they were hurt and ask them how they’re doing. Let them know that they are a valued employee, and you want to get them back to work as soon as they are able. Let them know what to expect and what they need to do and answer any questions they may have.

Then there should be weekly conversations to monitor the employee’s progress. A get-well card can help too.

2 - Create a Designated List of Health Care Providers

The WC laws in each state are a little different, but in Pennsylvania, employers have the right to establish a list of designated health care providers that injured employees can use for 90 days from the date of the first visit. If an employer does not have a list of selected providers, provide written notice of the injured employee’s rights and responsibilities, and properly post the list, injured employees can go to the physician of his or her choice.

The advantage of having injured employees stay within your designated network of medical providers is that you can choose physicians who are well versed in occupational health issues. These physicians will understand that getting an injured employee back to work is not only in the best interest of the employer but also the employee. Research has shown that most people recover and heal faster if they are participating in productive activities rather than becoming a couch potato.

Here are some requirements for a designated list of health care providers from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry:

  • The list must contain at least six providers
  • Three of the six providers must be physicians
  • No more than four providers may be coordinated care organizations
  • Each provider’s name, address, telephone number and area of medical specialty must be included on the list
  • Listed providers must be geographically accessible and their specialties appropriate for the anticipated work-related medical problems of the employees

It's a Win-Win

A speedy transition from injury to return-to-work is a win-win situation and doesn’t need to be complicated. If you clearly communicate your WC and RTW processes and expectations with all employees from the start, regularly communicate with an injured employee, and show concern for the well-being of your injured worker, you’ll be able to get him or her back to work more quickly.

 

Save Big on WC Insurance - Contact Us Today! 

Save on PA Workers Comp InsuranceAmerican Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance and we can save you a bundle. We shop and compare so you don't have to, and we're really good at it!

So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online and start saving!

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

Liquor Liability Insurance: Not just for Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 04, 2018

Do You Need Liquor Liability Insurance?It will soon be that time of year when many businesses will offer their employees a chance to celebrate the season with a holiday party. At some of these parties, alcohol will be served, and, as we all know, too much alcohol can make people do crazy things!

But how much is too much alcohol?

The answer to that question is entirely different if you’re talking about a 110-pound woman who hasn’t eaten all day and a 210-pound man who has been eating from the buffet for hours.

Be Careful - You Can Be Held Liable

What happens if one of your employees drinks too much and gets into a car accident on the way home? What if a vendor who stopped by your party drinks too much and breaks a leg falling down your steps? What if one of your managers drinks too much and gets into a physical altercation with a colleague?

The truth is that your business could be held liable or responsible because you served him or her too much alcohol. That means that you might have to pay for damages to your employee’s car and the car he hit, plus any injuries. That means that you may have to pay for your vendor’s medical expenses. And it means you could be sued for any injuries sustained in the altercation. That's where liquor liability insurance comes in, but more about that later.

Dram Shop Laws Also Apply to Private Events

Pennsylvania is one of 43 states that have Dram Shop Laws. That law states that any business or individual that serves alcohol in any form – wine, beer, spirits - to a visibly intoxicated person is legally responsible for bodily injury or property damage arising out of the serving of alcoholic beverages. This law applies to not only businesses like bars and restaurants that are in the business of selling alcohol, but also to businesses that provide alcohol at private events. It can also apply to a business giving alcoholic beverages as gifts to clients, vendors, or employees.

Liquor Liability Insurance 

The good news is that there is a way to protect your business: Liquor Liability Insurance. This insurance won’t keep you from getting sued, but it will help cover the cost of your legal defense and any settlements you may be required to pay if you are sued. 

Host Liquor Liability Insurance

While businesses with a liquor license are required to have Liquor Liability Insurance as part of their restaurant insurance coverage, Host Liquor Liability Insurance protects businesses that don't manufacture, serve, or sell alcohol from liquor-related lawsuits. It helps protect companies that host social events where alcohol is served, and it is often included in your Commercial General Liability policy. 

Host Liquor Liability coverage under your general liability policy may not cover you if you are negligent in any way such as serving alcohol to a minor or violating ordinances and regulations related to the distribution of alcohol.

How to Reduce Liability Exposure

You can also reduce your liability exposure by either not allowing alcohol at business events or if alcohol is allowed, practicing responsible behaviors. Here are a few tips to reduce your liability exposure:

  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages
  • Serve food
  • Consider hosting your party at a venue – like a restaurant or bar – that has a liquor license
  • Hire a professional bartender who can recognize the signs of intoxication
  • Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who shouldn’t drive
  • Stop serving alcohol well before the time the party is scheduled to end
  • DO NOT charge employees for alcoholic beverages because then you are technically in the business of selling alcohol and all the implications that go with it.

 

Get the Right Insurance Protection - Contact Us Today

Buy Liquor Liability InsuranceIf you decide to serve alcohol at your next business function, check your commercial general liability policy to make sure that it provides coverage for liquor liability.

To protect your business from liability, give the experienced agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. You'll get great insurance protection at a great price. Contact us today to get started.

Tags: Liquor Liability Insurance, Restaurant Insurance, Business Insurance

Truck Driver Fatalities and How to Avoid Them

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 21, 2018

Truck Insurance Costs are Impacted by the Rate of Driver FatalitiesEvery time a truck driver gets into his vehicle, he’s facing the possibility of an accident, and accidents that involve big rigs have a higher probability of causing severe injury, which of course impacts the cost of trucking insurance.

It’s no surprise that the transportation industry has the highest incidence of fatal work injuries. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), there were 1,388 transportation and material moving workers fatally injured at work in 2016. That number accounted for 40% of all reported on-the-job fatalities.

Increasing safety and minimizing accidents is one of your best defenses against rising commercial vehicle insurance costs and the ever-increasing shortage of truck drivers.

Accidents and Driver Error 

Most accidents that involve big rigs are due to driver error including lack of poor judgment, speeding, using a mobile device, not being aware of blind spots, driving under the influence, and driving while fatigued. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states, “Even the most well-trained, safety-conscious commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver is at risk of engaging in driving behaviors that could lead to a crash on today’s crowded highways.”

Understanding what causes truck accidents and how to avoid them is the first step. Providing ongoing safety training for drivers and enforcing a culture of safety is the next step. It may seem like a lot of effort up-front, but the payoff will be far-reaching and long-term.

 

Here are 3 tips for safe driving leading to lower truck insurance costs:

1 - Stay Sharp/Pay Attention

Truck drivers need to pay attention to their surroundings: unexpected road conditions, distracted drivers, and drivers who don’t understand how commercial vehicles operate. FMCSA suggests scanning ahead about a quarter of a mile on interstates and one or two blocks in cities and checking the mirrors every 8-10 seconds to be aware of vehicles entering blind spots.

There is a good reason why it is illegal for commercial drivers to text while driving. According to FMCSA, “The odds of being involved in a crash, near-crash, or unintentional lane deviation are 23.2 times greater for truck and bus drivers who are texting while driving.”

Other deadly distractions include eating, drinking, map reading, or any activity that takes your focus off the road. If you need to do something while you’re driving, get off at the next exit or pull over somewhere safe. 

And do not get behind the wheel of a truck when you are tired, too ill to focus, or on medications that can make you drowsy. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash, and a recent study showed that 17% were reported as having “over-the-counter drug use” when they were in an accident.

2 - Buckle Up

Buckle up; it’s the law. You’ve seen the signs, and that doesn’t just apply to passenger vehicles. FMCSAstates, “A CMV which has a seat belt assembly installed at the driver's seat shall not be driven unless the driver has properly restrained himself/herself with the seat belt assembly.” According to the FMCSA, “a safety belt is the most important in-cab safety device that will protect an occupant in the event of a sudden stop or crash.”

No matter how good of a driver you are or how uncomfortable you may think they are, you should wear a seat belt at all times.

3 - Know When to Slow Down

According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, 23% of large-truck crashes occur when drivers travel too fast for conditions. Some conditions to pay attention to are wet roads, reduced visibility, uneven roads, construction zones, curves, and intersections.

Drivers should reduce their speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by ½ or more on snow packed roads. Roads can be particularly slippery when it first begins to rain. Typically, manufacturers advise against using a retarder on wet or slippery roads. 

There’s a reason there are reduced speed limits at curves: 40% of speeding-related fatalities occur on curves. Braking in a curve can cause the wheels to lock up and the vehicle to skid, and trucks entering a curve too quickly can lose control and roll over due to a truck’s high center of gravity.

Work zones present many hazards such as lane shifts, moving workers, and uneven road surfaces and are particularly dangerous areas for truckers. In 2014, 30% of fatal work zone crashes involved at least one large truck. Decrease your speed and get into the correct lane well ahead of work zones. Leave extra room between vehicles, obey all work zone signs, watch for road workers, and be prepared to slow down or stop suddenly.

More Safe Driving Tips for Truckers

Check out FMCSA’s website for more safe driving tips. It just might save a life and help you save on trucking insurance as a bonus!

 

How to Save Big On Truck Insurance 

To learn more about saving on trucking insurance, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online. We specialize in trucking insurance, and as independent agents, we will compare the cost and coverage of multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price on reliable commercial vehicle insurance. Contact us today!

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

4 Ways to Minimize Contractor Insurance Losses

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 14, 2018

Follow these steps to reduce contractors insurance losses  in PA, DE, NJ and beyond.Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and it’s a law that could have been written with the construction industry in mind! There are so many moving parts, activities, and different players all working on a location that has potential hazards around every corner.

So it’s essential that you ensure that you have proper construction and contractor insurance coverage to protect your business. Major losses can do more than just set your business back; they can put you out of business.

Here are four guidelines to minimize your contractor insurance losses:

1 - Carefully Inspect All Insurance Certificates

Every subcontractor you hire should provide certificates that prove they have the necessary insurance coverages, but it’s also important to thoroughly inspect these certificates, which provide only the bare minimum information such as the carrier and the limits of the insurance.

You should have a broker such as American Insuring Group who specializes in contractors’ insurance review all your subcontractors’ policies to ensure that there is enough coverage to protect you if that subcontractor causes an injury or damage and a claim is filed.

Subcontractors often try to save money by purchasing the least expensive insurance available, so you may want to require specific coverage limits, types of coverage, and exclusions based on the scope of work the contractor will be performing and the size of the project.

2 - Force Subcontractors to Take Some of the Responsibility

It’s always a good idea to have a contract in place that clearly states who is responsible for what before something happens including hold harmless or indemnity agreements to protect you from losses.

In addition, the written contract should state that a subcontractor is responsible for some portion of the deductible if they are in any way responsible for any losses. You can also shift some of your losses onto their insurance policies by requiring them to name your company as an additional insured on their policies.

3 - Consider Wrap-up Insurance

When you work on large-scale projects with dozens of subcontractors, it can become overwhelming to keep track of all the different insurance policies involved. This is a good time to consider purchasing General Liability Wrap-Up Insurance. This type of policy protects the owner, general contractor, and all enrolled subcontractors working on the project.

It can be purchased by either the owner or general contractor and is generally used for residential projects with construction costs starting at $10 million and commercial projects starting at $20 million. Wrap-up Insurance can provide cost savings, better control of insurance coverages, and the peace of mind that your business is appropriately protected in the event of a loss. Additional policies can be purchased for excess liability, professional liability, builder’s risk, and pollution liability.

Since the owner or general contractor covers the cost of Wrap-Up Insurance, you can help offset that cost by having subcontractors contribute to the cost of the insurance through bid deductions.

4 - Think Twice About Cost-Cutting Measures

The cost of liability insurance is based on the cost of the project, so it may be tempting to bring the cost of the project down by using cheaper materials. However, it’s important to remember that inferior materials can add to your losses because they’re more likely to wear out earlier, break, or malfunction in some way. You’ll want to weigh the cost savings with the risk.

Working With The Right Insurance Agency is Key - Contact Us Today! 

As you know, every project is unique. That’s why it’s so important to work with an insurance agent who specializes in contractors insurance and knows how to see that you’re adequately insured and protected. Give American Insuring Group a call at (610) 775-3848 or (800) 947-1270 or contact us online to speak with one of our contractors’ insurance specialists.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Construction Insurance, Wrap Up Insurance, Business Insurance

Tune Up Your Workers Comp Program for Lower WC Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 23, 2018

Lower your workers comp insurance costs in Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Lancaster County, PA and beyond with these tipsWouldn’t it be great to this the year you decrease your Workers Compensation insurance costs? Now is the perfect time to tune up your WC program to experience cost-savings.

Take some time to look at your current program to see if any areas need to be updated or can be improved.  

Here are 6 tips for tuning up your Workers Compensation program:

1- Improve Safety

Improving workplace safety will have the biggest influence on your WC costs. A safer workplace means fewer injuries, fewer claims, and lower WC costs. Here are some tips:

  • Look for ways to improve your safety training
  • Review the current members of your safety committee. Are they still the best people for the job? Are there any gaps?
  • Schedule work-site evaluations and safety inspections for the year
  • If you’ve acquired any new equipment or created new jobs, update your safety manual
  • Review all of your safety communications including posters and brochures to make sure they are up-to-date and that they’re doing the job. HINT: There are many resources online - such as OSHA and the USDA– that offer free safety materials.

2 -Report Claims

Insurance claims should be reported the same day the accident occurs to allow WC claims adjusters to investigate the accident properly and establish compensability. Quick reporting will enable adjusters to control the course of the WC claim better.

Take a look at how quickly accidents within your company were reported this past year. If you see that it took more than a day to report any claims, review your claim reporting procedures with all managers and supervisors, and explain why prompt reporting is imperative to the quick resolution of WC claims.

3 - Keep in Touch with Your Injured Employees

You might be surprised to learn how much of a difference this can make in resolving WC claims more quickly and amicably. Let your injured employees know that your company cares about their well-being and that they are an essential part of your company’s workforce.

Here’s how:

1) Contact the injured employee the day of the accident to see how they’re doing

2) Contact them two days after the accident to make sure they understand WC procedures and to answer any questions they may have

3) Invite them to all work functions, so they continue to feel like a part of the team

4) Meet with injured employees weekly to monitor their progress 

4 - Improve Your Return to Work Program

It’s impossible to deny the benefits (for both employee and employer) of getting injured employees back to work as quickly as possible, whether that means returning to regular or light duty. Your goal should be to return at least 95% of your injured employees to work within 1 to 4 days after their injury.

Take some time to determine light-duty jobs that a recuperating employee may be able to do. Then, when an employee is injured, make sure that you give the medical provider a complete job description, so they can add any added restrictions. 

5 - Stay Current on All WC Insurance Claims

We already stressed the importance of keeping in regular contact with an injured employee to monitor his or her progress, but it’s also important to stay in touch with the claims adjuster to discuss the injured employee’s recovery progress, return-to-work status, and any permanent partial disability, which will require a modification to the employee’s job description.

6 - Fight Workers Comp Insurance Fraud

Make sure your employees are aware of the consequences of WC fraud. Post anti-fraud posters throughout your facility, start a fraud hotline for other employees to report suspected fraud anonymously, consider offering a reward to anyone who provides information that leads to a criminal conviction, and always report any suspicious claim to the Special Investigations Unit of your insurer.

 

Ready to Save? Let’s Tune Up Your WC Insurance Policy!

Contact us to save on workers compensation insuranceThis is a great time to review your WC policy for potential opportunities to save while getting better coverage. American Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance and will help you get the right insurance at a great price.

So give one of our experienced independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

We’d love to help you make this the year you lower your company’s Workers Comp costs!

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