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Is a Workers Comp Insurance Loss-Sensitive Plan Right for You?

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Apr 18, 2020

save_workers_comp_insuranceMore and more employers are moving away from the traditional guaranteed Workers’ Compensation Insurance plans into loss-sensitive plans. Loss-sensitive plans can help some businesses save money, but for others, a loss-sensitive plan can cost a company more than a guaranteed plan.

How do you know which type of Workers’ Compensation plan will yield the highest return for your business? Here are three tips to help.

Understand the Different Types of Loss-Sensitive Plans Available.

Retrospective Rating Plans

The Insurance Journal defines a retrospective rating plan as a plan “in which the final premium is based on the insured’s actual loss experience during the policy term, subject to a minimum and maximum premium, with the final premium determined by a formula which is guaranteed in the insurance contract.”

With a retrospective rating plan, an employer pays a standard premium - a combination of a basic premium and a loss projection - at the beginning of the policy year. After eighteen months, the insurer uses the employer’s actual losses to calculate a retro premium. If the retro premium is lower than the standard premium, the employer receives a premium from the insurer for the difference. If the retro premium is higher than the standard premium, the employer has to pay an additional premium.

Typically, there is a cap on the additional premium (usually 1.20 times the standard premium) an employer must pay.

Large Deductible Plan

A large-deductible plan is basically a guaranteed WC plan that includes the employer self-insuring part of its compensation losses with a large deductible. With this type of plan, the employer pays a lower premium but is then required to set up an escrow fund and reimburse the insurance company for claims up to a certain dollar amount.

Captives

The Insurance Journal defines captives as “any insurance company that is owned by one or more organizations, and that insures only the owners of the company.” There are typically two types of captives used for WC. One is a single owner, where the company that is insured has complete control over everything, including investments, operations, etc. The other type is a rent-a-captive, which is owned and run by an organization other than the insured, such as a broker, a fronting insurance carrier, etc.

Understand Your Risk Tolerance

The advantage of a guaranteed Workers’ Compensation Insurance plan is that your premiums are very predictable. You can put it into your budget and not worry about it. The cost of loss-sensitive plans can vary significantly. You can include an estimate in your budget, but the actual cost can vary, along with the frequency and timing of payments.

IF your company has a low tolerance for risk, a guaranteed plan may be a better choice. However, if you’ve created an effective safety program, provided all of your employees with appropriate safety training, have a robust return-to-work program, and have minimized workplace injuries, your loss projections should be reasonably accurate. Therefore, you may want to consider taking on more risk with a loss-sensitive plan. You’ve reduced risk within your organization, and a loss-sensitive plan could provide a higher return on your investment.

Consider the Financial Impact of Each Type of Plan

You should understand the impact each type of plan will have on your cash flow and the tax implications of each. A guaranteed cost plan may cost you more; however, it provides consistent payments, and you know how much you’re going to pay. You can put the cost of your premiums into the budget and not worry about it.

However, a loss-sensitive program can offer cash flow advantages because you’re paying for claims as they occur rather than paying an insurance company upfront for expenses that may not occur for months or even years.

Need More Help Lowering Workers’ Compensation Costs?

American Insuring Group is committed to providing the best insurance coverage at the best price. First, we offer blogs for a variety of industries to help improve workplace safety, which will help lower WC costs.

Plus, we are independent agents who specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

7 Smart Ways to Save on Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 22, 2020

Ways to Save on Contractors InsuranceContractor Insurance is required to protect your assets and your business, whether you’re a one-person independent contractor or the owner of a construction company.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t lower the cost of your insurance premiums.

Here are seven smart ways to you can start saving on contractor Insurance:

Increase Deductibles

A deductible is the amount of money that you will need to pay if you make a claim before the insurance company pays anything. In other words, if you have a $500 deductible and make a $2,000 claim that is covered, the insurance company would pay $1,500 only after you have paid the $500.

Increasing the amount of your deductible will lower the cost of your premiums, freeing up funds that could be used to buy new equipment, give raises, or however you think that money could be best used.

However, before you make that decision, make sure that you have enough money in reserve that you could pay that deductible if you made a claim. Otherwise, you could find yourself without a tool or vehicle that you need to conduct business if it is stolen, damaged, or destroyed. If you can’t pay that deductible, you can’t repair or replace that item.

Pay Upfront

Most insurance companies will discount your rate if you can pay your insurance premium upfront, rather than monthly. So, if you have the cash available, pay your insurance premiums annually.

Combine Insurance Policies

Every contractor should have Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance, which covers your business for injury or property damage caused by the operation of your business or on your business premises. Chances are good, that isn’t the only insurance you will need to protect your business.

You may need property insurance to protect your buildings and its contents, auto insurance to protect your vehicles, or any number of other types of insurance. Many insurance companies will give you a discount if you purchase more than one type of insurance with them.

Lower Commercial Auto Insurance

If you hire drivers with bad driving records, you will pay more for your commercial auto insurance; it’s that simple. Before hiring anyone who will drive one of your commercial vehicles, check their driving records and only hire those with excellent driving records.

Another way to save on auto insurance is to evaluate new vehicle purchases. The more a vehicle is worth, the more your insurance premiums will be. So, when you are comparing the price of vehicles, don’t forget to factor in the cost of insurance to cover it. You may find a less-expensive model will meet your needs and save you a ton of money in the long run.

Identify and Minimize Your Risks

The fewer claims you make, the lower your premiums will be. Identify any potential hazards and create a plan to prevent those risks, and you should be able to reduce the number of claims.

For example, there is always the risk of your tools or equipment being stolen, so if you can minimize the risk of theft – such as installing security cameras, locks, or tracking devices – you will lower the chances of those items being stolen, which means fewer claims. Fewer claims can reduce the cost of your premiums and minimize any deductibles you have to pay.

Create a Safer Worksite

We would be remiss if we didn’t include this one. A safer worksite means fewer employee injuries, which means lower Workers’ Compensation costs. A safer worksite also means fewer third-party injuries, which could result in expensive lawsuits; thereby, increasing your CGL costs.

OSHA offers a variety of resources to improve worksite safety, and you’ll also find many tips to create a safer worksite on this blog.

Work with an Independent Insurance Agent

Independent Insurance agents – like the experienced agents at American Insuring Group – can compare several different insurance companies to ensure that you get the right coverage and the best price on all your business insurance needs, including contractor insurance. By comparison, a captive (single-company) agent can only sell policies from a single insurance carrier.

Ready to start saving? Give one of our independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, workers comp, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Commercial Auto Insurance

Will a BOP Lower Your Contractor or Restaurant Insurance Costs?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 01, 2020

Business Owners Policies to Supplement Your Contractor Insurance or Restaurant InsuranceAs a contractor or restaurant owner, you’re probably looking for ways to cut costs and improve your bottom line. A Business Owners Policy – or BOP – is a flexible and affordable way to save on Commercial Insurance, but it isn’t right for every business.

An experienced insurance agent – like the independent agents at American Insuring Group – can help you determine if it’s right for your business.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Business Owners Policy (BOP)?

A BOP combines Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance and Property Insurance – two types of insurance most business owners need to protect their business - at a discount.

Commercial General Liability Insurance, which may be required by a client or landlord, typically covers lawsuits that result in bodily injury or property damage that is caused by slip-and-fall accidents, third-party property damage, product liability, advertising injuries, and copyright infringement.

The expense of a lawsuit can have a devastating impact on a small business. According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, legal issues are costing small US businesses more than $100 billion every year. Because small businesses are more likely to settle rather than get tied up in litigation, they are often the target of frivolous lawsuits, which is costing about $35.6 billion in settlements each year.

CGL does not cover employee injuries, which are typically covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

Property Insurance covers damage to your building and its contents due to a covered cause of loss, such as a fire, explosion, storm, theft, or vandalism. Most Property Insurance policies do not cover earthquakes and floods; however, some policies cover a loss of income or an increase in expenses that result from property damage that is covered.  

For example, if a fire in your oven causes you to shut-down for a few days until repairs can be made, Property Insurance may include Business Interruption Insurance to cover the income you would lose by shutting down.

Another example is a fire in a contractor’s office that destroys files or materials required to conduct business.

Do I Qualify For a Business Owners Policy

Although they can save businesses money, BOPs are not right for every business, and not every business will qualify for a BOP. Typically, low-risk small businesses that meet the following criteria will qualify for a BOP:

  • A small workspace
  • Less than $1 million in revenue per year
  • Fewer than 100 employees
  • A low-risk industry
  • A less than 12 months of Business Interruption Insurance requirement

As a contractor, you may think that your business is not a low-risk industry. Heavy construction, along with mid-sized and large construction businesses, may not qualify for a BOP, which is more appropriate for small contractors or subcontractors. However, it’s always a good idea to ask your insurance agent if this would be a good addition to your overall contractors insurance.

Is a BOP Right For My Business?

BOPs typically have a cap on policy limits – the maximum amount the policy will pay in the event of a claim. Make sure your CGL limit is enough to cover the cost of a potential lawsuit and make sure your Property Insurance limit would cover the value of your property.

If a BOP provides enough protection for your business, it could save you money.

What Doesn’t a BOP Cover?

The basic coverage of a BOP may not cover certain circumstances. For example, contractors may discover that equipment that is transported or stored on a job site may not be covered under CGL; that is what Inland Marine Insurance is designed for.

A restaurant owner who serves alcohol may find that a BOP may not cover a lawsuit that arises from an intoxicated person served at your restaurant; that’s what Liquor Liability Insurance for your restaurant covers.  

 

How Else Can I Save on Contractor or Restaurant Insurance?

To save even more on your business insurance costs, work with an independent insurance agent like those at American Insuring Group who 1) specialize in contractor and restaurant insurance, and 2) can compare the price and quality of your coverage among several competing insurance companies.

American Insuring Group has you covered. Give one of our experienced independent agents a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

We serve the greater Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Erie, PA region and beyond.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Small Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance vs. Commercial Liability Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 23, 2020

Commercial  Property Insurance vs Commercial Liability Insurance - do you know the difference?Do you think that Commercial Property Insurance has you covered? Let’s go back to June 2019 for a moment.

Do you remember the fire and series of explosions at Philadelphia Energy Solutions? It released 5,239 pounds of deadly chemicals into the air and took more than 24 hours to extinguish. CNBC reported that it sent shock waves for miles and rained debris on nearby neighborhoods, and that “the blast was so powerful that a 38,000-pound barrel was launched 2,100 feet across the Schuylkill River, where it landed on the opposite bank.”

It was determined that the likely cause of the fire was a faulty pipe. Surprisingly, there were no serious injuries or fatalities. Five workers reported minor injuries, and experts do not believe there will be any health impact from the release of chemicals.

This is a prime example of why businesses need both Commercial Property Insurance and Business Liability Insurance. One covers your property, and one covers lawsuits.

In the Philadelphia Energy Solution incident, Commercial Property Insurance would help Philadelphia Energy repair or replace its refining complex. If the explosion was determined to be Philadelphia Energy’s fault, Business Liability Insurance would help cover any damage the explosion caused nearby neighbors or if the deadly chemicals were to have any negative effects on anyone.

According to the Insurance Journal, four out of ten businesses are likely to experience a property or general liability claim in the next ten years, and the average cost of a customer slip and fall claim is $20,000. Reputational harm claims cost an average of $50,000, and if a lawsuit is involved can average more than $75,000 for legal fees, settlements, and judgments. About 35% of all general liability claims result in a lawsuit.

What is Commercial Property Insurance?

Commercial Property Insurance helps repair or replace your physical assets, such as the building, furniture, computers, inventory, etc. if they are damaged by fire, hail, lightning, windstorms, vandalism, and explosions.  Typically, earthquakes and floods are not covered unless they are added to your policy.

The cost of Commercial Property Insurance is determined by the value of your assets, your location, the construction of your building, your industry, and how close the nearest fire hydrant and fire station are.

What is Business Liability Insurance?

There are many types of Business (Commercial) Liability Insurance that cover different liability risks. Business Liability Insurance protects your business from liability claims against your business by a third party, such as customers, suppliers, vendors, and employees.

Types of Liability Insurance

General Liability Insurance helps cover third-party lawsuits, like customers, suppliers, and vendors, but not your employees. It typically helps cover third-party personal injuries, property damage, and advertising injury. For example, if a customer were to be injured after slipping and falling at your business, they could file a lawsuit against you. General Liability Insurance would help cover the costs of that lawsuit.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required for most employers in Pennsylvania. It helps pay for medical costs and lost wages if an employee is injured on the job. It also reduces the risk of an employer being sued by an injured employee.

Professional Liability Insurance (A.k.a. Errors and Omissions Insurance) helps protect businesses against negligence and other claims made against them.

Product Liability Insurance helps cover lawsuits filed due to damages caused by a business’s products.

An experienced insurance agent can help you determine the types of business liability insurance that is right for your business.

Here's How to Save on Commercial Property Insurance and Business Liability Insurance

Here are two ways to save on the cost of Commercial Property and Business Liability Insurance:

  • Bundle the two policies into a Business Owners Policy.
  • Work with an independent agent, like the agents at American Insuring Company, who can compare the cost of your coverage with several different companies.

Want to learn more about lowering your Commercial Insurance Costs? Give one of our independent agents a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Professional Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Business Insurance, commercial property insurance, Product Liability Insurance, Commercial General Liability Insurance

What You Need About Saving on Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 09, 2020

Contractors_InsuranceFor many contractors, talking about Contractor Insurance is probably the equivalent of a root canal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Finding an insurance agent who specializes in contractor’s insurance – like the American Insuring Group – takes a lot of the guesswork out of purchasing insurance.

However, it’s always wise to have a basic understanding, so you know what questions to ask and understand what your agent is recommending. Here is what you need to know about Contractor Insurance:

Who Needs Contractor Insurance?

Obviously, contractors need contractor insurance. That includes general, concrete, excavation, masonry, sheet metal, and paving contractors. But Contractor Insurance goes beyond protecting contractors. 

Here is a list of occupations/businesses that can benefit from Contractor Insurance:

  • Appliance Repair Technicians
  • Carpenters
  • Debris removal
  • Electricians
  • Handymen
  • Interior construction
  • Locksmiths
  • Painters
  • Plumbers
  • Property preservation
  • Roofers
  • Snow and ice removal
  • Stucco and plastering

What Type of Insurance do Contractors Need?

Many factors go into the type of insurance policies you need, including whether or not you have employees and what outside parties you may be involved with (i.e., lenders, municipalities, etc.) require.

Here are the most common types of Contractors Insurance that help protect your business from injuries (employees, vendors, etc.), damage, lawsuits, and more.

Commercial General Liability (CGL)

Every contractor should have CGL because the construction industry comes with many risks.  CGL covers basic construction risks, such as lawsuits against your company, along with third-party injuries (visitors to your worksite) and property damage.

For example, if a visitor trips over a wire or slips and falls on a wet surface at your place of business or a worksite, you could be blamed for the injury. CGL typically covers attorney fees, judgments against your business, settlements, medical bills, and funeral expenses.

Another example where CGL can come in handy is f your ladder falls on a customer’s TV and damages it. CGL can help pay for the cost to repair or replace the TV. It can also help cover costs if that customer files a lawsuit against you.

Commercial Automobile Insurance

If you or an employee is driving a company-owned vehicle and is in an accident or causes damage, commercial auto insurance can help cover the cost of property damage, medical bills, lawsuits, and other expenses that can result from an accident.

If you drive a construction vehicle, transport tools or equipment, or have employees run errands for you, you should have Commercial Auto Insurance

Builder’s Risk Insurance

Builder’s Risk Insurance (Aka Course of Construction Insurance) can pay for damage resulting from fire, vandalism, or theft of tools, materials, and property while a structure is under construction.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance helps pay for repairs or replacement of your building, along with furniture, supplies, etc. if it is lost, stolen, or damaged.

Inland Marine Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance does not protect your property if it is not at the location listed on the policy. This is where Inland Marine Insurance comes in. It covers products, tools, and equipment while in transit or stored off-site (like a job site).

Workers’ Compensation (WC)

In Pennsylvania, most employers are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their employees. If an employee is injured while working, WC can help pay for medical costs and lost wages.

Providing WC insurance to your employees also helps protect you against an injured employee suing your company. In most cases, injured employees are prohibited from suing their employers if WC is provided.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance (A.k.a., Errors and Omissions Insurance) covers legal expenses if you are sued for things like unsatisfactory, late, or incomplete work.

 

👉 Contact Us to Save on Contractors Insurance!

The cost of contractor’s insurance can vary significantly depending on your coverage and your deductible. Other factors that determine the cost of your premiums include what services you provide, your revenue, your location, and the number of employees.

  • You may lower costs by bundling liability coverages into a package called a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP).
  • You may lower costs by creating a safer work environment that results in fewer injuries and fewer claims.
  • You may lower costs by working with an independent agent – like those at American Insuring Group – who can compare the cost of your coverage with several companies to ensure you’re paying the lowest premiums for the coverage.

Have more questions about saving on Contractors Insurance costs? The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Contractors Insurance and can help you get the best price on the coverage you need, whether you're in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Berks County, or anywhere in PA or surrounding states.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online!

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

4 Tips to Avoid Theft in Your Business

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 05, 2020

secure_businessEvery business is at risk of a theft occurring. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your assets, such as Commercial Property Insurance.  However, that should not be your first line of defense. Your first step should be to minimize the risk of a theft, with Commercial Property Insurance acting as your safety net if those steps aren’t enough.

According to Small Business Trends, nearly 9% of small businesses experienced a burglary or theft in 2016 with an average cost of $8,000 per incident. Burglary and theft can have a serious impact on your bottom line. Protect your assets by lowering your risk with these four tips:

Install a Security Systems

Security systems – alarms and cameras – have become very affordable, and the capabilities of the new technology are incredible. Today, it’s easy to keep an eye on both internal and external threats from your smartphone, PC, or tablet.

The more security you have, the better chance you have of avoiding problems. Often, the presence of a security system is enough to deter thieves and vandals.

Here are a few security measures to consider:

Closed-Circuit television cameras (CCTV) allow you to watch what is happening at your place of business in real-time, both during and after hours. Plus, they can capture images and record what is going on when you aren’t there. They’re a great way to protect your property, valuable items, and your employees. You can even keep an eye on employee productivity.

Place cameras in strategic locations, so you can identify faces of both customers and employees, and store the footage off-site.

Alarm Systems let you know when there is a disturbance at your doors, windows, or outside your place of business when you aren’t there.

Fire Alarms – You should install a smoke and heat detector that have both automated triggers and can be manually pulled.

Make Sure Everything is Secure

Strong locking systems should be installed everywhere. Valuables and cash should be locked up, with a safe being your best option. But remember, the best lock in the world isn’t going to keep someone out if you don’t lock the doors.

Often, businesses (and individuals) are victims of crimes of opportunity. Thieves will typically go where the pickings are the easiest, so they’ll look for unlocked doors or open windows. Make sure everything is locked up securely before leaving the building. This also applies to company vehicles and heavy equipment.

And make sure the keys to those locks are secure. The more people who have keys to your business, the greater risk there is of burglary, so limit the number of keys issued. Keep track of keys issued to employees or anyone else, and make sure employees leave their keys when they leave your company.

You may want to consider installing an access control system so that you can limit access to different people.

Hire Wisely

Safewise reported that 64% of all small businesses fall victim to employee theft. Before hiring anyone, run a thorough background check on them, especially if they will be handling cash or sensitive financial information. SCORE recommends being alert to key indicators of potential employee theft, such as suddenly working late all the time, drug and alcohol abuse, and evidence of compulsive gambling.

Other steps SCORE recommends to avoid employee theft include close supervision, the use of purchase orders, controlled cash receipts, informal audits, managing inventory, and providing a way for employees to report theft.

Purchase the Right Commercial Insurance

If, despite all your best efforts, burglary or theft does occur at your business, the right insurance can help provide reimbursement for loss or damage. If you want the right insurance at the best price, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

We will be happy to review your policy to ensure you receive the best coverage, AND we'll compare the cost of that coverage with offerings from other insurance companies to ensure you get the best price on solid insurance protection. Contact us today to learn more!

Tags: Small Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance, commercial property insurance

How Can Business Interruption Insurance Save Your Business?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 29, 2019

Business_Interruption_Insurance (2)Do you have Business Interruption coverage for your business? No? Let me ask you this… What would you do if there was a fire in your building, and you were forced to shut down while repairs were made?

If your business is shut down, you probably won’t have customers. If you don’t have customers, you probably won’t have any income to pay yourself or your employees. According to FEMA, nearly 40% of small businesses never reopen following a disaster.

That’s where Business Interruption Insurance can help.

What is Business Interruption Insurance?

Business Interruption Insurance (Aka Business Income) is typically an endorsement that can be added to most Commercial Property Insurance policies. It protects your business income that is a direct result of a loss, damage, or destruction of your property that is covered by your Commercial Property Insurance.

Additional Coverage to Consider

Extended Period of Indemnity

Some policies include a 30-day extension beyond the standard period of restoration; however, you may need more than the 30-day extension. Sometimes, it takes a while to get a business up and running following an extended closure. Therefore, you may want to consider buying an extended period of indemnity option endorsement, which increases that 30-day extension in multiples of 30, up to 720 days.

Extra Expense Coverage

If your property is damaged, you may incur additional expenses to keep your business running. Those expenses could include the cost of moving to a temporary site, leasing equipment, paying overtime, etc. Extra Expense coverage pays for expenses that are above and beyond your normal operating costs but are required to keep your business running after your property is damaged.

Service Interruption Coverage

One in four companies experience a power outage at least once a month, according to Bloom Energy, and it’s estimated to be costing the U.S. economy $150 billion annually.

If a utility company – such as electrical, gas, water, telephone, etc. – experiences damage to a property that is not on your premises but causes an interruption in your business operations, or an actual financial loss, Service Interruption Coverage may kick in.

Contingent Business Interruption (CBI)

CBI covers your business income loss that is a result of loss, damage, or destruction of properties owned by suppliers of goods and services that you need to run your business. The damage must be the type of damage that your Commercial Property Insurance policy covers.

Leader Property Endorsement

This endorsement helps protect your business if an off-premises facility within a certain distance of your property incurs property damage that affects your business. This endorsement is good for restaurants that rely on the customers coming from another venue, such as a casino, stadium, or amusement park.

Interruption by Civil or Military Authority

If a civil or military authority denies you access to your property, this type of policy may cover lost business sustained during the time you are denied access. This type of thing can happen during a hurricane, winter storm, flood, etc.

 

How to Save Big on Business Interruption Insurance

Sometimes it’s hard to think of every risk that your business may face, and insurance policy verbiage can be complicated. This is why an experienced insurance agent is vital if you want to understand your risks and options and protect your business.

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Commercial Insurance. They can not only ensure that you have the right coverage they can also ensure that you pay the lowest price for that coverage by shopping among many competing providers for you. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

 

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, commercial property insurance, Utility Service Interruption Insurance, Business Interruption Insurance

Workers Comp Costs, Musculoskeletal Disorders, and Ergonomics

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 15, 2019

Ergonomics_Workers_Comp_CostsWhen it comes to increasing workplace safety and reducing Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs, your mind may immediately go to improving safety among construction workers, drivers, or maybe factory workers. These occupations are notoriously dangerous. We often hear about a worker breaking his or her leg after a fall or sustaining a concussion after being struck by something.

These are legitimate safety concerns. But there is another threat to safety that many employers overlook – workplace ergonomics, which can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and be just as costly to employers.

MSDs are injuries, pain, stiffness, tingling, burning, cramping, or discomfort in the musculoskeletal system, which includes muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, and ligaments. The disorder can affect your neck, shoulders, arms, legs, feet, hands, and the upper and lower back. Examples of MSDs include muscle sprains, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendinitis.

This disorder can be caused by acute trauma like a car accident, but bad ergonomics, such as repetitious motions, vibrations, and awkward postures, can also cause MSDs.

If your employees work in a relatively safe work environment, such as an office, you may not spend much time thinking about how you can improve safety to lower your Workers’ Comp costs. If the majority of your employees work in environments where other types of injuries are more prevalent, you may dismiss the impact of MSDs on Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs.

You may want to re-think either of those attitudes.

The Cost of Workplace MSDs

An estimated 126.6 million Americans are affected by MSDs, according to Science Daily. That’s one in two adults. The cost of the disorder is estimated at $213 billion every year.

And workplaces are not immune to the impact of the disorder. According to ErgoPlus, MSDs account for almost 400,000 injuries every year, account for one-third of all WC costs and result in 38% more lost time than the average injury or illness.

MSDs often result in chronic pain, disability, and mobility issues. The World Health Organization reports that MSDs are the second largest contributor to disability worldwide. The direct cost of MSDs in the workplace is about $20 billion, but the indirect costs, such as lost productivity, product defects, etc. can be much higher.

Employers and employees can work together to reduce MSD risk factors by understanding ergonomics and taking steps to minimize the risks

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of increasing efficiency and reducing discomfort by helping the job fit the worker instead of trying to fit the worker to the job. It can involve engineering controls, such as improving the design of tools or workspaces or automating certain processes. That could mean providing workers with ergonomically friendly accessories such as adjustable tables or chairs, footrests, or lumbar support.

Administrative controls can include actions such as job rotation, reviewing injury logs, and providing employee education, such as discussions on MSD risk factors, how to be mindful of postures, and how to avoid awkward positions.

Reduce MSDs in the Workplace

The first step to reducing MSDs is to learn how to recognize the risk factors, which include highly repetitive tasks, high-force loads that increase muscle effort, and awkward or sustained awkward postures.

ErgoPlus offers this advice to help reduce the risk of MSDs:

  1. Maintain a Neutral Posture by keeping the body aligned and balanced when sitting or standing.
  2. Work in the Power or Comfort Zone, which means lifting close to the body between the mid-thigh and mid-chest.
  3. Allow for movement or stretching if you’re working for long periods of time in a static position.
  4. Reduce excessive force
  5. Reduce repetitive or excessive motions
  6. Minimize contact stress, which is caused by continuous contact or rubbing between sharp or hard objects and body tissue
  7. Reduce excessive vibration
  8. Provide adequate lighting

Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs

Whether you work in a highly dangerous or a relatively safe industry, your workers can be affected by musculoskeletal disorders, which costs both you and the injured worker big time. Learn to recognize ergonomic risk factors and how to reduce the risk of MSDs to improve the safety of your workplace and the well-being of your employees and lower your Workers’ Compensation costs.

Another way to save on WC costs is to work with an agent who can help you identify potential risks and has experience with Workers’ Compensation Insurance, like the independent agents at American Insuring Group.  Why not give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online?

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance Philadelphia Pa, workers comp, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

What do Ototoxic Chemicals, Hearing Loss and Insurance Have in Common?

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Dec 10, 2019

chemical_hearing_loss_insuranceKeeping workers safe helps businesses save money with lower Commercial Insurance costs, higher productivity, higher employee morale, and more. There is one hazard in many workplaces that is easily overlooked – Ototoxicant chemicals.

Exposure to Ototoxicant chemicals can cause hearing loss or balance issues, even if workers are not exposed to loud noises. The risk of hearing loss increases when workers are exposed to both ototoxicant chemicals and elevated levels of noise. One study found that “exposure to organic solvents along with exposure to loud noise on the job, and smoking each increased a worker’s risk of hearing loss by 15-20%.”

Depending on the dose of the chemical, the length of exposure, and the noise level, the hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. According to the CDC, chemicals tend to affect the more central portions of the auditory system, which not only make the sound less loud but also distort words, making word-recognition more challenging.

Plus, any health and safety professionals are concerned that hearing losses caused by ototoxicants can go undetected because many hearing tests don’t indicate the cause of hearing losses.

Hearing loss can cause accidents, increasing the number of workers’ compensation claims, which could have a direct result on how much you pay. Plus, employees can file a complaint with OSHA if they believe their working conditions are “unsafe or unhealthful,” and you could be held liable for an employee’s hearing loss.

Who is at Risk?

Ototoxic chemicals can be found in pesticides, solvents, metals, and pharmaceuticals. Hearing loss can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption of the chemical. 

According to the CDC, workers in manufacturing, mining, utilities, construction, and agriculture are more likely to be exposed to ototoxic chemicals. Activities that often add a high level of noise exposure along with the exposure to ototoxicant may include:

  • Printing
  • Painting
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing occupations in subsectors such as machinery, petroleum, fabricated metal, and more
  • Firefighting
  • Weapons firing
  • Pesticide Spraying

Prevention of Hearing Loss Due to Ototoxic Exposure

Your first step should be to identify if there are ototoxicants in your workplace. Ototoxicants include toluene, styrene, carbon monoxide, acrylonitrile, and lead. Review Safety Data Sheets for ototoxic substances.

“When specific ototoxicity information is not available, information on the chemical's general toxicity, nephrotoxicity, and neurotoxicity may provide clues about the potential ototoxicity,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states. “Most chemicals that are known to affect the auditory system are also neurotoxic and/or nephrotoxic. Information on whether a chemical produces reactive free radicals could also give some clues about the agent's potential ototoxicity.”

If you can replace the hazardous chemical with a less toxic chemical, that can reduce your workers’ exposure to ototoxicants. If that is not possible, use engineering controls to limit exposure. Controls can include enclosures and isolation to both ototoxicants and noise. Good ventilation also helps control exposure to hazardous chemicals like ototoxicants.

You should also provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees who are at risk of exposure. Avoid absorption into the skin with chemical-protective gloves, aprons, arm sleeves, etc. Also, provide hearing protection if workers are exposed to high levels of noise.

OSHA also requires that employers provide health and safety information along with training for employees who are exposed to oxotoxic and other hazardous materials.

More Ways to Lower Your Commercial Insurance Costs

Creating a safer work environment will help you save on Commercial Insurance costs, such as Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Liability Insurance. Finding the right insurance agent can also help you save on Commercial Insurance costs.

American Insuring Group specializes in Commercial Insurance, and as independent agents will check with several companies to ensure that you get the best price on all your Commercial Insurance needs.  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to see if we can help lower your Commercial Insurance Costs.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

A Clean Kitchen Can Reduce Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Nov 04, 2019

AIG man cleaning kitchen counterIf you are a restaurant owner or manager, you already understand how vital a clean kitchen is to the safety of your customers. But have you ever considered how a clean kitchen can save you money, such as lowering your restaurant insurance and litigation costs?

Unfortunately, with so many other responsibilities, keeping a restaurant kitchen clean can be a real challenge. Having a cleaning and sanitizing process in place (and strictly enforced) can help make the process much easier.

First, we’re going to remind you why a clean kitchen is key to any restaurant's success and then provide some tips to help you create a cleaning and sanitizing process for your restaurant.

4 Reasons to Maintain a Clean Restaurant:

Keep Your Customers Safe

The obvious reason to keep restaurants – from kitchens to dining tables - impeccably clean is to avoid cross-contamination and food-borne pathogens that can make your customers sick. Also, a buildup of grease that is not properly cleaned can cause a fire putting employees, customers, and your bottom line at risk.

Pass Restaurant Health Inspections

Health inspections are real and can occur at any time – typically one to four times a year. Having a process in place to keep your restaurant clean helps ensure that your restaurant passes health inspections and helps you avoid fines (or closure) if you don’t pass inspection.

Two of the most common health code violations are poor kitchen sanitation and cross-contamination that can lead to food illness; therefore, maintaining a clean restaurant at all times should be your goal.

Maintain a Good Reputation

Having a clean restaurant – both front-of-house areas and behind the scenes - is imperative to your restaurant’s reputation. People will not dine at a visibly dirty restaurant (at least not more than once), and having your restaurant shut down because of a health violation doesn’t exactly instill confidence in your customers.

Keep Restaurant Costs Down

A clean restaurant can help minimize the cost of legal fees and medical costs; thereby, helping to lower your restaurant insurance costs. Plus, a sanitized and clean kitchen helps cut down on food waste.

How to Maintain a Clean Restaurant?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to sanitation and food safety is the control of bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins, chemicals, and pathogens like Norovirus and Listeria, which can result in food-borne illness.

On average, one in ten people will become ill, and 420,000 will die every year after eating contaminated food, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Food contamination can occur at any time during food production, distribution, and preparation. Any surface that touches food must be regularly cleaned and sanitized – including countertops, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, flatware, tables, microwaves, and even high chairs.

Having a cleaning and sanitizing process in writing, training all employees on that process, and enforcing that process are key to a clean restaurant. Here are some tips for developing that process in your restaurants.

Basic Steps to Clean All Surfaces:

  1. Remove debris from the item by scraping or rinsing it.
  2. Remove soil by washing the object in detergent.
  3. Rinse with hot water.
  4. Sanitize with a chemical sanitizer or hot water (180F) to reduce pathogens. Sanitization reduces 99.999% of pathogenic microorganisms.
  5. Air dry. Do not rinse or use a towel to dry it after it has been sanitized.

What Should Be Cleaned and When?

While preparing food, cooks should practice basic food safety procedures, such as switching cutting boards and brushing grills between cooking fish, poultry, and red meat.

Tasks performed after each shift should include tasks such as cleaning cooking equipment; washing utensils, plates, and glassware; and sweeping and mopping the floors.

Daily tasks include cleaning out grease traps and running hood filters through the dishwasher.

Weekly tasks should include emptying, washing, and sanitizing reach-in coolers; cleaning coffee machines; and using drain cleaners on floor drains.

Monthly tasks should include things like cleaning freezers, emptying and sanitizing ice machines, washing walls and ceilings, and wiping down storage areas.

There are also annual tasks (that aren’t exactly cleaning but are important), some of which may require a professional, such as checking the fire suppression system, fire extinguishers, the hoods, and pilot lights on gas equipment.

The Webstaurantstore offers a printable checklist that you can start with, but creating checklists specific to your restaurant ensures that everything is covered.

Want to Save Even More on Your Restaurant Insurance?

American Insuring Group specializes in restaurant insurance and offers an extensive blog that provides information about how you can save on restaurant insurance. Plus, as independent agents, we can compare costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price.  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Small Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Safety