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How to Prevent Fires in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 24, 2019
Follow these tips to prevent restaurant firesOpen flames, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals, and paper products are the perfect ingredients for a fire, and all are found in most restaurants. So, it’s no surprise that fire companies respond to more than 8,000 structure fires at restaurants and bars each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

A fire in your restaurant can cause lost revenues, injuries, death, higher restaurant insurance premiums, lawsuits, and even the end of your business, which is why it’s essential that you and your staff understand fire risks and do everything possible to prevent fires.

The right insurance can help pay for damages caused by a fire, but preventing fires should always be your first line of defense.

The Main Fire Risks in Restaurants

Cooking

It’s no surprise that cooking is the leading cause of restaurant fires, accounting for 64 percent of all restaurant fires according to the US Fire Administration (USFA). When flames get into the kitchen’s ductwork, exhaust systems, vents, and fans – all of which are prone to grease buildup – fire can quickly spread.

Heating and Electrical Malfunction

The deadliest restaurant fire in US history was at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Nevada in 1980. A result of an electrical ground fault, the fire killed 85 people. According to the USFA, seven percent of all restaurant fires are caused by heating and electrical malfunctions.

Unsafe wiring, switches, plugs, or sockets projecting heat onto a flammable or combustible material cause these fires. Often, outdated wiring is not able to handle the voltage used by today’s appliances. Commercial kitchen equipment is certified by NSF International; however, most smaller equipment purchased at retail stores is not certified and can be a hazard when used in commercial kitchens.

Gas leaks and the resulting explosions are often the most devastating fires. Thankfully, this type of occurrence is uncommon but can occur when older or neglected equipment isn’t able to support the flow of gas. Gas is released into the air and can be ignited by turning on an electrical device or lighting a match.

Other Fire Risks

Other causes of restaurant fires include unintentional, careless actions (4 percent), appliances (4 percent), other heat (3 percent), and several other categories, according to the USFA reports.

4 Restaurant Fire Prevention Tips


1 - Employee Training

  • Your workers should be trained in fire prevention methods and the importance of proper cleaning.
  • Workers should know not to use water to try to put out a grease fire because it can cause the grease to splatter and spread the fire.
  • Employees should be trained on how to use a fire extinguisher. The National Restaurant Association suggests using the acronym PAST – pull out the Pin, Aim at the base, make a Sweeping motion, and be Ten feet away.
  • Employees should know how to properly store flammable liquids – kept in original containers or puncture-resistant tightly sealed containers stored in well-ventilated areas.

2 - Regular Maintenance

  • Fire-suppression systems should be professionally inspected twice a year.
  • The pressure gauge on portable fire extinguishers should be checked monthly to be sure that the extinguisher is holding pressure and inspected and certified annually.
  • Electrical equipment should have regular maintenance and regularly checked for frayed cords and cracked or broken switch plates.
  • Exhaust systems should be inspected for grease buildup. In high-volume operations, the NFPA requires quarterly inspections and semi-annual inspections for moderate-volume operations.

3 - Installation of an Automatic Fire-Suppression System

Fire-suppression systems, which are built into stoves or oven hoods, have sensors that can detect a fire and automatically release a chemical to put out a fire and shut down the fuel or electric supply to cooking equipment. Installing a fire suppression system can sometimes lower your insurance premiums.

4 - Portable Fire Extinguishers

You should also keep portable fire extinguishers handy as a backup. Class K extinguishers are used for kitchen fires that involve grease, fats, and oils that burn at a high temperature. Class ABC extinguishers can be used on all other fires such as paper, wood, electrical, etc.

Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Understanding fire risks in your restaurant and taking steps to prevent them will help keep your employees, your customers, and your business safe.

Get the Right Insurance for Your Restaurant, Bar or Nightclub

Contact us for the best PA restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Berks County and elsewhere!If these measures fail, having the right insurance can help repair the damage.

But don’t overpay for restaurant insurance. Give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. We’ll search competing insurance companies to find affordable restaurant insurance that will properly protect your business.

Don’t delay – call the experts at American Insuring Group today!

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Contractors: “Mind the Gaps” in Your Insurance Coverage!

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 17, 2019

Tips to avoid gaps in insurance for contractors and construction companies in PA, MD, DE, NJ and elsewhereWhen you ride the Tube (aka the subway) in London, you’ll probably hear “mind the gap!” as you board your train.

“Mind the gap” is a warning to rail passengers to be careful when crossing the gap between the station platform and the train door. If you don’t “mind the gap,” you could fall between the train and the platform and cause serious injury.

“Mind the gap” is also good advice when discussing insurance for contractors! There are lots of moving parts with every construction project – from multiple subcontractors to heavy equipment and power tools. Each of those parts pose different types of risk, and if you don’t have the right insurance to protect you from those risks, you’ll have gaps in coverage that could cause serious injury to your bottom line.

Here are 3 coverages that often create insurance gaps for uninformed contractors:

#1 - Aggregate Coverage

There are two types of aggregate endorsements a contractor can purchase: a per policy and a per project aggregate. A per policy aggregate sets the total amount an insurer will pay for all of your claims during your policy’s term whether you have ten projects or 100 projects during that time.

A per project aggregate ensures that you have equal coverage on a per project or per location basis, which could significantly increase the amount the policy could pay.

Some insurance companies automatically add a per project endorsement to a contractors’ commercial liability policy, but some don’t. If you don’t clarify this from the start, you may not be comparing apples to apples thinking one insurance quote is a real deal when in fact it could leave you with a gap in your insurance. 

#2 - Professional Liability Coverage

There are two basic types of liability coverage contractors may need- general liability and professional liability. Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance usually covers liability claims for property damage and bodily injury. It helps cover legal fees in the event of a lawsuit against your company and is required by most banks and clients.

However, not every insurance claim is the result of an accident or injury. As projects continue to get more complicated and the line between the design firm and contractor become more blurred, contractors may find unexpected gaps in their liability coverage. A contractor who finds himself in a lawsuit claiming negligence, misrepresentation, defective materials, or faulty recommendations may not be covered by CGL.

Professional liability coverage (aka errors and omissions) goes beyond standard liability and covers liability for professional services such as engineering, design, and construction management operations.

#3 - Subcontractor Coverage

Many contractors work with subcontractors. If you’re one of them, you need to ensure that you have two documents from every subcontractor you work with upfront to protect your business from damage caused by those third parties: a certificate of insurance that lists you as an “additional insured” and a signed “hold harmless” agreement.

You will need to list all subcontractors that you work with and document third-party certificates with your insurance carrier, and if that carrier finds a subcontractor that is not insured, you could end up paying a much higher rate, open you up to workers’ compensation costs, and force you to take responsibility for claims that aren’t your fault.

 

Avoid the Gaps – Get the Right Construction and Contractor Insurance!

Call us for affordable PA insurance for contractors and construction companies in Philadelphia, Berks County, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and beyond.An insurance company that specializes in contractor and construction insurance– like American Insuring Group –we’ll work to eliminate the gaps in your coverage. We know what questions to ask you and what gaps “to mind.” 

So, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or check us out online. Our experienced independent agents will not only help you mind the gaps but also help ensure you get the best prices because we search, compare and analyze policies and pricing among many competing providers.

Call or click today to start saving!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

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

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

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

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 Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance, Business Insurance