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Risk Management Assessment & Small Business Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Wed, May 27, 2015

Tips for getting the right business insurance protection. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, State College, PA and beyond.Every small business should conduct a risk management assessment prior to reassessing their business insurance needs – preferably before they even open their doors.  Basically, this means imagining the “What ifs” and thinking about worst-case scenarios.  Think about any event that could lead to a loss for your business, estimate the cost of that loss, and determine how to best address each risk.  These losses may include material losses, liability, business interruption, or injury to employees.  

There are several factors that will determine the list of risks to your business.  The risks to a company that produces large machinery will be very different from a service business.  A caterer who rarely if ever has customers coming to their location will have very similar and – at the same time - very different risks and insurance needs than a restaurant that has customers coming and going all the time.  Each business is unique.

Here are 7 types of risk/loss to consider before purchasing or changing your commercial insurance coverage:

  1. Loss of physical assets due to accidents (fires) and nature (floods)
  2. Loss of Intellectual Data
  3. Theft of physical assets
  4. Business liability – customers or employees getting injured on your premises
  5. Business product liability – A product that you manufacture/sell causes injury
  6. Advertising slander or personal injury
  7. Loss of income

How to Deal with business risks and help lower your commercial insurance costs:

Some business risks can be minimized or eliminated with specific actions; many risks are best managed by purchasing commercial insurance.  For example, if you’re concerned about damage to your property, you could lease the property instead of purchasing it - or you could purchase insurance.  If you’re concerned about theft, you could install an alarm system to minimize loss, but you would probably want to purchase insurance as well (the alarm system may afford you a discount).

Business insurance can reduce, mitigate or compensate for exposure to business risks. An insurance agency will do a risk assessment to determine how much insurance you need and what you need to cover, and they’ll do it at no cost.  This assessment might include visiting your business, talking to you about the business or service you provide, reviewing your inventory, and reviewing any procedures to determine all the risks your business could be exposed to. By conducting your own assessment, you can combine your knowledge of your business with your insurance agent’s knowledge of insurance to create the best insurance policy to protect your business. 

Growth is Good, But ..

As your business grows, so do your liabilities!  If you purchase or replace equipment or expanded operations, you should contact your insurance broker to discuss changes in your business and how they can affect your need for expanded insurance coverage. Should disaster strike, you don't want to be caught underinsured.

Getting the Right Business Insurance is Key

Contact us for help in getting the right commercial insurance for your business. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Lebanon, York, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond with quality insurance for your business.For more help creating a risk management assessment and aligning your business insurance needs with your risk, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848.

Tags: Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance York PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

4 Kinds of Business Insurance Employers Must Have

Posted by David Ross on Thu, Apr 30, 2015

4 types of business insurance for employersYou’re about to become an employer.  Maybe you’ve been in business for a while, but now you’re ready to hire your first employee.  You’re excited; this means your business is growing.  Or, maybe you’re just starting a business and you need employees to help run that business. 

Either way, being an employer comes with many responsibilities, including ensuring that you purchase the right business insurance.  You may be asking yourself, “What insurance is required by law and what is optional?  What’s in the best interest of both my business and my employees?” 

There are four primary types of insurance every employer should take a look at – Workers Compensation Insurance, Unemployment Insurance Tax, Disability Insurance, and Health Insurance.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers Compensation Insurance coverage ensures medical and wage-loss benefits to employees who are injured on the job. Plus, it helps protect employers against lawsuits filed by injured workers. Worker’s Comp insurance requirements vary by state.  In Pennsylvania, if you employ one or more employees - whether they’re part-time or full-time (including family members) workers’ compensation insurance coverage is mandatory.

If you are a sole proprietor, Workers' compensation insurance is not required by law, which can save you money; however, if you’re ever injured on the job, workers’ compensation insurance can help pay medical bills and supplement lost wages until you’re able to go back to work.

Click here for information about workers compensation insurance requirements in other states.

Unemployment Insurance Tax

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a joint state and federal program financed through federal and state employer payroll taxes. It provides temporary payments to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own.  Each state has its own unemployment insurance program, which includes additional eligibility requirements, but they all follow guidelines established by the federal government.

Most employers must pay federal employer payroll taxes if they pay employee wages of $1,500, or more, in a quarter or if they have at least one employee during 20 weeks in a calendar year.  Most employers are also required to pay state unemployment taxes. In Pennsylvania, all employers providing employment to one or more workers must register Form PA-100 with the Office of UC Tax Services.

Employment that is not covered under the UC law includes the following:

  • An individual employed by his or her son, daughter or spouse
  • A child under the age of 18 who is employed by his or her parent
  • A student in the employ of an organized camp that did not operate more than seven months in the preceding calendar year

Disability Insurance

Some states require that employers provide partial wage replacement insurance coverage to their eligible employees for non-work related sickness or injury. Currently, if your employees are located in any of the following states, you are required to purchase disability insurance:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of disability insurance available if you decide to purchase it for your employees: short-term and long-term.

Again, if you are a sole proprietor, Disability Insurance is not required in Pennsylvania; however, if your family relies on your income, you may want to consider disability insurance for yourself to help pay medical bills and supplement lost wages if you become sick or injured.

Health Insurance

If you have more than 50 employees you are required to provide health insurance benefits to your full-time employees.  If you have more than 50 employees and don’t offer health benefits, you may be subject to a penalty call the shared responsibility payment.  96% of employers in Pennsylvania are exempt from the shared responsibility requirement. 

Learn more about all your business insurance needs and options. We serve Reading, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg, Lebanon, York, Pottstown, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond with high quality commercial business insurance.Contact Us for All Your Business Insurance Needs

If you’re an employer, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 for more information about required and recommended business insurance, including health insurance, disability insurance, workers compensation insurance, or any other insurance your business may need. We've been helping businesses like yours acquire affordable, high-quality insurance for over 25 years.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, workers comp, workers comp insurance, Disability Insurance, Health Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

Should You Add Drone Insurance to Your Business Insurance Policy?

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

It’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  No, it’s a drone!

 

Drone insurance for your business. Serving Philadelphia, Lancaster, Reading, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley, Lebanon, State College, PA and beyond.Businesses are discovering many uses for drones – also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).  In fact, total spending for military and commercial drones is expected to reach $89.1 billion over the next ten years.  This translates into approximately 30,000 small commercial drones in use by 2020, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Commercial Application of Drones: Implications for Commercial Insurance

Drones are already being used by real estate brokers to get images of properties from the air, by farmers to monitor crops, by insurance claims adjusters to view damaged property, by the Forest Services to monitor fires, and by movie companies in film production.

Almost any job that currently requires an aircraft is a good candidate for a drone, since drones are considerably less expensive to operate.  Major online retailers are already planning on using drones to deliver packages.  Plus, drones can provide safer options and prevent worker injuries in many cases.  For example, if you own a construction company and you need the top beams of a building inspected, would you rather send a man several hundred feet off the ground or a drone? The bottom line is that if you are operating drones for business purposes then it's critically important to add drone insurance to your business insurance policy. 

Other potential uses for drones include:

  • News: aerial reporting
  • Insurance: claims and underwriting operations
  • Service: table service at restaurants and bars!

Commercial Insurance Implications for Businesses Operating Drones: A Closer Look

This proliferation of drones increases the need to address commercial insurance liability and coverage issues, most notably - personal injury and invasion of privacy.  Drones are excluded in about 99 percent of Commercial General Liability policies available today.  Legal issues include “trespassing” drones; airspace ownership laws; and the question of federal aviation laws vs. state laws. In addition, many drones have high-powered cameras, infrared sensors, facial recognition technology, and license plate readers, which also brings up concerns regarding invasion of privacy, spying, stalking, and harassment.

Insurance Companies Scrambling to Supply Drone Insurance Coverage

It's wise to buy drone insurance from an independent business insurance agent.In February 2012, congress mandated that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) find a way to integrate drones into U.S. airspace by September 2015.  With that deadline looming, the FAA is nowhere close to finalizing its plans.  This lack of regulation and the fact that there is very little loss history available at this point makes it challenging for insurance companies to develop policies. It's therefore likely that drone insurance rates may vary widely among insurance providers. Therefore, it's helpful to acquire drone insurance protection from an indepdent insurance agency who is free to shop around among competing brands of insurance providers in order to help you obtain the proper coverage at a fair price.

Drone Insurance Risk Factors - Similar to Aircraft Insurance Risks

Since drones are regulated by the FAA, many of the same questions that an underwriter looks at with an aircraft will also apply to a drone, such as its function or intent, its takeoff and landing location, whether it will be operating over a populated area, and its flying altitude.  However, a drone is not a manned aircraft.  Underwriters will need to look at liability, personal injury, and invasion of privacy, property and workers’ compensation when creating insurance policies for commercial drones. 

Currently there are about 21 insurance companies that write aircraft product liability policies – up from just nine a few years ago.  Someday requesting insurance for drones and drone-related operations will become routine, but for now we’re faced with the challenge of keeping up with the issues that come along with quickly advancing technology. 

Providing drone insurance for Philadelphia, Lancaster, Reading, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg, York, Erie, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.For more information about drone insurance and other commercial insurance needs, contact American Insuring Group at (800)947-1270 or (610)775-3848. As an independent insurance agency, we're postitioned to help you save on insurance by shopping your needs among many competing insurance providers. Call today.

Tags: Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Drone Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance York PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

Commercial Liability Insurance and ADA Title III Compliance

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Apr 06, 2015

The Largest Minority Group in the U.S: Americans with Disabilities

Do you have the right commercial liability insurance and knowledge to properly address ADA requirements?More than 50 million Americans – 18% of the population – have disabilities, making them the largest minority group in the country.  In addition, approximately 71.5 million baby boomers will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030; many will require special provisions to meet their age-specific physical needs.  

There are many reasons for your business to provide accessibility to disabled individuals.  First, it’s the right thing to do.  Second, each of these individuals is a potential customer and studies have shown that once people with disabilities find a business where they can comfortably and easily shop or get services in, they become repeat customers. And finally, the Americans with Disabilities Act allows individuals and disability rights organizations to bring lawsuits against businesses that do not comply with the Act, knowingly or unknowingly. In such cases having the right commercial insurance can be critical to your financial protection. 

What is ADA?

The ADA, signed into law in 1990, is a federal civil rights law that prohibits the exclusion of people with disabilities from everyday activities such as shopping, eating in a restaurant, or seeing a movie.  Thanks - in great part - to the ADA, people with disabilities are living more independent lives and participating in more activities within their communities. 

The ADA is Confusing, But Your Business Can be Held Liable Regardless of Your Intent

Unfortunately, the ADA laws can be very confusing and often frustrating to small business owners, and although there are some exceptions given to smaller businesses regarding the ADA rules against disability discrimination in employment and the requirement that employers provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees, the adoption of Title III of the ADA in 2010 applies to every business that serves the public - regardless of the size of the business or the age of the building. How confident are you that your business is in full compliance? Do you have the proper commercial liability insurance protection to help shield you from unknown risks?

Title III applies to businesses that provide goods or services to the public (known as  “public accommodations”).  There are 12 categories of public accommodations, including stores, restaurants, bars, services establishments, theaters, hotels, recreational facilities, private museums and schools, doctors’ offices, shopping malls, and other businesses.  Essentially, any business that regularly serves the public (with the exception of private clubs and religious organizations) is considered a public accommodation.  

Know the Most Common ADA Violations and Prepare Accordingly

These businesses must take steps to ensure that their facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities.  Here are seven of the most common areas of violations:

  • Parking lots
  • Exterior ramps
  • Paths of travel
  • Signage
  • Restrooms
  • Lobbies and reception areas
  • Accessibility to goods and services 

How Can I Protect My Business from ADA Title III Lawsuits?

If your business isn’t compliant, you can lose potential customers and open yourself up to lawsuits, heavy fines, and legal fees.  Although it is impossible for businesses that serve the public to completely avoid the risk of ADA lawsuits, there are a number of steps you can take to minimize your risk:

  1. Have your property inspected by an ADA compliance expert.
  2. Read through the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
  3. Read through the ADA Small Business Primer
  4. Take the online course, “At Your Service: Welcoming Customers with Disabilities.”
  5. Know the difference between ADA requirements and state and local building codes.  “Grandfather” provisions that are often found in local building codes do not exempt businesses from ADA Title III compliance.
  6. Don’t ignore letters from plaintiff’s attorneys threatening ADA lawsuits.  Sometimes claims can be resolved with little cost if addressed prior to extensive litigation.
  7. Provide training to your employees and staff on how to address questions or concerns about disability access from customers.
  8. Discuss your liability insurance with your insurance agent

 

Knowledge is Key to the Right Business Insurance Protection

For more information about commercial liability insurance, contact American Insuring Group at (800)947-1270 or (610)775-3848. We'll help you get the right business insurance protection at the right price using our pool of competing insurance providers. Contact us today.

Tags: Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Commercial Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance York PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

Construction Insurance Premiums Tied to Construction Safety

Posted by David Ross on Wed, Jan 21, 2015

Construction Insurance protection and tips. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, State College, Lebanon, York, PA and beyond.Every employer is responsible for insuring a safe working environment for his or her employees. If you’re in construction, workplace safety should move to the top of your priorities because more than 20% of the work-related fatalities in 2013 occurred in the construction industry. 

STEP #1: Identify Construction Safety Hazards

First, you need to identify potential hazards.  OSHA lists the following hazards for individuals in the construction industry:

  1. Falls (from heights),
  2. Trench collapse,
  3. Scaffold collapse,
  4. Electric shock and arc flash/arc blast,
  5. Failure to use proper personal protective equipment, and
  6. Repetitive motion injuries.

STEP #2: Address Construction Hazards

Next, you need to address those hazards.  OSHA has identified the following as some of the most frequently cited hazards:

  1. Scaffolding – Approximately 2.3 million construction workers regularly use scaffolds, and it is estimated that 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities related to the use of scaffolding occur each year.  To help avoid some of these injuries and fatalities, you need to ensure that scaffolding is erected by a competent person using stable supports on solid footing and that it is inspected regularly.  Scaffolding should be sound; located at least 10 feet from electric power lines; equipped with guardrails, midrails, and toeboards; and accessible by ladders or stairways.
     
  2. Fall protection – Falls account for the greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry.  They’re caused by unstable work surfaces, failure to use fall protection equipment, and human errors.  Using guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers and restraint systems, you can prevent many deaths and injuries caused by falls.
     
  3. Ladders – there are approximately 24,882 injuries and 36 fatalities each year due to falls on stairways and ladders used in construction.  To avoid some of those falls, you need to use the right ladder for each task, inspect ladders regularly, ensure that ladders are long enough to safely reach the work area, and never over-load ladders. 
     
  4. Head protection – You need to ensure that workers wear hard hats where needed to reduce serious head injuries that can result from blows to the head, from falling objects, or other hazards.
     
  5. Hazard communication – In order to avoid chemical burns, respiratory problems, fires and explosions caused by not recognizing the hazards associated with chemicals, you should maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and make the information accessible to employees.  Plus, you need train employees on how to read those MSDS and provide personal protective equipment, a written spill control plan, and spill clean-up kits.
     
  6. Electrical – Electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions can be serious workplace hazards in the construction industry.  To avoid these hazards in your workplace, ensure that all electrical tools are properly grounded and extension cords have grounding prongs, locate and identify all overhead electrical power lines and inspect and ensure that equipment and materials never come within ten feet of those lines,  and maintain all electrical tools and equipment.

Ensuring the safety of your employees is important to the health and safety of your employees and the health and safety of your business.  Neglecting the safety of your employees can cause lawsuits, higher health insurance premiums, higher construction insurance premiums, and higher workers compensation premiums and related costs. 

Get the Right Construction Insurance

Get the right construction insurance at the right price from American Insuring Group.To learn more about reducing your construction insurance costs while acquiring quality insurance protection, contact an American Insuring Group agent at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848. We're Independent Insurance Agents, so we're free to shop among many competing insurance carriers to find the right insurance at the best price, including construction insurance, worker's compensation insurance, and every other type of insurance your business may need. Contact us today. 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Accident Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance York PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

Drunk Patrons & Restaurant Insurance: Are You Protected?

Posted by David Ross on Thu, Nov 20, 2014

Will Your Restaurant be Held Liable for Accidents? How Much Can Restaurant Insurance Help?

Restaurant insurance protection for drunk drivers via liquor liability insurance. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, York, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Erie, Pittsburgh and beyond with quality business insurance for over 25 years.Let’s say you own a restaurant.  One night, a group of friends enjoy dinner and a few drinks at your restaurant.  They decide to go to a club where they dance and consume more alcohol.  Then, they go to a corner pub to wind down with a few more drinks.  On the way home, one of those friends causes an accident that injures or – God forbid – kills someone in the process.

Who is responsible?  You and your restaurant?  The club?  The pub?  That depends on which state your restaurant is located.  If it’s in Nevada, none of the establishments will be held responsible for injuries caused by intoxicated patrons; all of the responsibility lies with the person directly causing the injury.   However, many other states place the responsibility elsewhere.

Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Statute

In Pennsylvania, all of the establishments could be held responsible – even your restaurant.  Under Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Statute, a licensed drinking establishment can be held liable for injuries caused by intoxication if the establishment served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual or to a minor.

Not only could you face administrative and criminal fines and penalties, but you could also be sued in civil court for damages that person might cause after leaving your establishment.  You could lose your liquor license. If you serve alcohol to a minor, the establishment's owner, operator, or the server could face a term of imprisonment of three months to one year, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Determining whether a server should have realized the extent of a patron's intoxication is fuzzy.   How the alcohol affects a person is what matters, not how many drinks were consumed. 

When is a Driver Considered Legally Drunk in Pennsylvania?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol concentration is .04 percent or greater.
  • School bus drivers are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .02 or more.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood alcohol concentration is .02 or more.

How to Protect Yourself, Your Employees, and Your Business

If your establishment serves alcohol, all of your servers and managers should undergo some type of training in alcohol service, such as the National Hospitality Institute’s Techniques of Alcohol Management or Pennsylvania’s Responsible Alcohol Management Training Program (RAMP).

RAMP, created by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, helps licensees – such as restaurants, hotels, clubs, and distributors - and their employees serve alcohol more responsibly.  RAMP certification offers practical advice on detecting fake IDs, using the FEAR method of carding, and identifying a “visibly intoxicated patron.”

But, what if that person was not intoxicated when he or she left your restaurant and is of a legal drinking age?  You could still be held responsible.  If an incident does occur, your best defense is a written policy and documentation that you adhere to that policy.  Review the policy with your employees regularly. 

Liquor Liability Insurance - Important Restaurant Insurance Protection

Liquor liability insurance can be an invaluable form of restaurant insurance protection. It can help protect your restaurant business from highly damaging lawsuits into the millions of dollars resulting from property damage and injury caused by intoxicated customers who purchased alchohol in your establishment.

These policies may differ significantly by insurance provider in terms of costs and coverage details. This is why you should consult the independent insurance professionals at American Insuring Group. We offer policies from competing insurance companies. We'll help you find the right restaurant insurance policy at the right price. 

Contact us to learn more about restaurant insurance and liquor liability insurance. We serve Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, Lebanon, Lehigh Valley, Allentown, Reading, Erie, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond. Call today.Contact an American insuring Group agent at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 to find more ways to protect your business with the right restaurant insurance.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Liquor Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Accident Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance York PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

Business Insurance & More: 4 Tips to Keep Your “Baby” Safe

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Protecting Your Baby - Business Insurance and Beyond

Protect your business with the right commercial insurance. After all it&squot;s your "baby"! We can help you get great business insurance at great rates. We serve Philadelphia, Lancaster, Reading, Allentown, the Lehigh Valley, Pittsburgh, Erie, State College, PA and beyond.Business insurance is important because if you’re a small business owner, chances are good that you have a lot of heart, sweat, and maybe even a few tears invested in your business. Sometimes, your business becomes your “baby” – something that you want to protect from danger, just like you protect your family.  Aside from getting good commercial insurance coverage, how do you go about protecting “your baby” from outside threats, such as fire, flood, or theft? 

Preparation is the key.  It determines if and how quickly a business can recover from a set-back.  Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t prepare and don’t have a plan to protect their business from outside threats.  Start your plan NOW with these four tips:

1. Keep Your Eyes Open
You should monitor your place of business for suspicious activity 24/7. Security cameras can be used for two purposes: investigation and deterrence. Surveillance cameras are a cost-effective way to keep an eye on your business even when you aren’t there.  Some security cameras have DVR or remote monitoring capabilities, which allow you to watch, record and/or play back video.

Types of security cameras include…

Infrared (IR) security cameras

Dome cameras

Pro box cameras

Pan tilt zoom cameras

Hidden cameras

Click here for security camera basics.

2.  Be Armed with Alarms
Many commercial codes regulate smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) protection. Depending on the size and layout of your business, consider upgrading or adding smoke and CO detectors to ensure that you and your employees are properly alerted in case of an emergency. If your business is home-based, remember that the National Fire Protection Association a smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. 

3. Protect Your Company Files
The loss of certain data could force your business – particularly if it is a small business – out of business. All essential paper documents, such as employee files, leases, insurance and tax documents should be kept in a fire-resistant and waterproof safe.  No safe is foolproof; however, they do give a degree of protection to your paper documents.  Here are some tips about buying a safe from SentrySafe, the nation's largest safe manufacturer.

Today, it’s simple and inexpensive to back up electronic files, so that you can access them even if your entire office building was under water or engulfed in flames.  Electronic files should be backed up daily to an external hard-drive, a CD, a DVD, and/or a USB Flash drive that is stored somewhere outside your business, or - better yet - backed up online.  This way your files are still accessible if one of your computers is damaged or stolen.  There are several online backup services that will automatically backup your data on a regular basis without your lifting a finger. 

4.  Safeguard your Computers
Cyber security isn’t only a concern for big corporations, like Target and Home Depot.  Small businesses can be just as vulnerable, so you need to keep operating systems, web browsers and anti-virus packages up-to-date. Don’t put off those update reminders that pop up on your screen; it’s important to update them regularly to prevent malicious software attacks on your computer and network.  Cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can’t be ignored.

Implementing these four safety measures can help provide peace of mind that your “baby” is safe and allow you to focus on your business and your customers. 

Learn more about your business insurance options and pricingThe right business insurance can also help provide peace of mind (you might even sleep as sound as a baby!), so contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 to find out how insurance can provide additional protection for your “baby.”

Tags: Business Insurance Philadelphia Pa, Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

Workers Comp Insurance Rates, Safety, and OSHA

Posted by David Ross on Wed, Sep 24, 2014

Worker's Compensation Insurance Costs

According to a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor report, Workers’ Compensation accounts for 2.8 percent of the total cost of a production, transportation, or material moving employee’s compensation and 3 percent for construction and maintenance employee’s compensation.  Businesses interested in reducing those percentages do what they can to improve workplace safety; thereby, reducing the number of workers’ compensation claims and providing a safer and healthier environment for employees.  It’s a win-win situation.

Like Games? Try OSHA’s New Tool to Help Identify Hazards within the Workplace

Check out OSHA's game to lower worker's comp accidents, which can lead to lower workers compensation insurance ratesOne of the first steps to creating a safer workplace is to identify potential hazards; if you don’t know a hazard exists, how can it be properly mitigated?  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created an interactive, online, game-based training tool to help small businesses effectively identify hazards within the workplace.  This tool, with both an owner and worker mode, is designed to help both company leaders and workers to not only identify hazards, but also learn how to abate and control those hazards. 

Currently, the user can choose between three different scenarios:

  • OSHA Visual Inspection Training
  • Manufacturing Facility
  • Construction

 

OSHA Visual Inspection Training

The "OSHA Visual Inspection Training" scenario, which contains a saw, industrial chemical mixer, scaffolding and fall protection for inspection, shows users how to identify hazards on items found in the workplace; become familiar with typical hazard categories; and understand common relationships of hazards to equipment components and operations.  It offers the user an opportunity to practice a visual inspection and find hazards. In this scenario, the user can view equipment from 360° to look for hazards. The user can also talk to the employee and observe the employee at work to identify additional hazards.

Manufacturing Facility & Construction

The Manufacturing and Construction scenarios, which focus on the principal skills needed to effectively identify hazards in the workplace and reinforce the key components in the hazard identification process, allow participants to experience the entire workplace. The manufacturing scenario allows the user to be a part of the safety committee in a hovercraft parts manufacturing facility.  In the construction scenario, the user must identify and mitigate hazards to maintain a safe workplace throughout three phases of a construction project.

5 Key Components in the Hazard Identification Process

This tool helps owners and workers understand the five process components in identifying hazards:

  1. Collect information: Review all information (manuals, safety data sheets, OSHA data, etc.) you may already have available to find hazards that have already been identified by others.

  2. Inspect workplace: The most basic (yet important) component of inspection is the simple visual inspection. Inspecting the equipment and the surrounding work areas allows the user to look over the equipment without any obstructions that might exist while the equipment is being operated. Certain hazards might only be recognizable when the machine is not in operation.

  3. Observe the operation: Another good way to identify hazards during an inspection is to observe the equipment in operation. Watch the operator and note any hazardous situations. Observing an operation gives the viewer an opportunity to see how the task is actually completed. This can provide insight on additional hazards that would not be recognizable otherwise (positioning of controls relative to the worker, noise and dust levels, by-passing or improper use of safety functions). This can only be done when workers are present and production is underway.

  4. Involve employees: A great way to gain insight into workplace hazards is to talk to the equipment operators. Often, they are aware of issues that may not be apparent during an inspection. Talk to the workers and listen to their feedback.

  5. Investigate incidents: Whenever an incident occurs, use that as an opportunity to learn about hazards that may have been overlooked.

To find out more about this new tool, check out https://www.osha.gov/hazfinder/

Lower Your Workers' Compensation Insurance Costs

Let American Insuring Group help you control your workers’ compensation premiums. We're an independent agency representing multiple competing brands of workers' comp insurance, so we can help you find quality insurance at a great price! 

Contact us to save on workers compensation insurance. We serve Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, York, Lebanon, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Pittsuburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.Contact us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie and beyond.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Accident Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance York PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

How to Avoid Penalties in Workers’ Compensation Claim Denials

Posted by David Ross on Thu, Aug 28, 2014

Workers' Compensation Insurance

Workers' Compensation Insurance is a type of small business insurance that is mandatory in most states, and covers employees for work-related injuries. A typical "workers comp" insurance policy pays lost wages and medical expenses incurred due to a work-related accident or injury, while also protecting the employer against accident-related lawsuits. 

How to protect your business from dishonest workers compensation insurance claims. We serve Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, the Lehigh Valley and beyond with quality workman's compensation insurance. Contact us today.What About Dishonest Worker's Comp Claims?

Unfortunately, there are dishonest people in this world, and there are times when a Workers’ Compensation claim should be denied, such as when the employee isn’t hurt on the job or it’s an old injury. 

As many states begin taking a closer look at denials of workers’ compensation claims, now is a good time to evaluate how your company is handling workers’ compensation claims.

 

Workers' Compensation Claims Processing Tips

While state laws vary, there are some important best practices to follow:

  • Keep detailed written documentation about the incident.
  • Understand the claim forms, timelines, and the correct state agency to send the paperwork to.
  • Ensure that all information on those forms is accurate.
  • List a specific legal reason explaining why the claim is being denied and the basis for that denial.
  • Provide instructions to the employee about steps he or she can take if they disagree with the denial.

Here are some practices to avoid:

  • Don’t simply state, “The injury did not take place. Denied.”
  • Don’t disclose Protected Health Information (PHI) without written permission to do so or if required by law.

 

No One is Perfect. If a mistake is made, here are some best practices to follow:

  • Don’t ignore the mistake. Correct it.
  • Cooperate with state agencies. 
  • Provide complete and detailed responses.
  • Continue to keep detailed written documentation.
  • Pay close attention to timelines.
  • If you aren’t sure about something, consult an attorney.

No business wants to pay penalties for Workers’ Compensation claim denials, so following these best practices can help your business avoid or minimize those penalties.   

How to Get a Great Deal on Worker's Comp Insurance 

American Insuring Group, Ltd. offers cost-effective worker's compensation insurance from a great variety of competing insurance companies, enabling you to get a great deal on high-quality WC insurance. 

For more information about Workers’ Compensation insurance, claims, or denials, contact American Insuring Group at (800)947-1270 or (610) 775-3848

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Fire Safety & Commercial Insurance - 6 Ways to Reduce Risk

Posted by David Ross on Mon, May 26, 2014

What a Tragedy Taught us About Fire Safety & Commercial Insurance

Reduce your long term workers compensation insurance and commercial liability insurance costs by following these fire safety tips. We serve Reading, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, York, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond with quality commercial and workers compensation insurance.On March 25, 1911, the US witnessed one of the deadliest industrial disasters in American history – the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City.  The fire resulted in the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and 23 men – who were working on the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors.  Some died from the fire, but many were killed by smoke inhalation or falling or jumping to their deaths.   

This horrible tragedy led to legislation that improved worker safety standards, including better building access and egress, fireproofing, fire extinguishers, alarm systems, and automatic sprinklers.  More than one hundred years later, the lessons learned from this tragedy still apply. 

Here are some reminders on how to avoid workplace fires and injuries, thereby reducing the long-term cost of your commercial and workers comp insurance by minimizing both the number and severity of your insurance claims.

6 Tips to Avoid Workplace Fires & Injuries

Give them a way out. If the doors to the stairwells and freight elevators in the Triangle Factory weren’t locked to prevent theft, many of the 146 workers who perished would have survived.

Enforce smoking bans. Although smoking was banned on the Triangle Factory floor, it was common knowledge that workers often snuck cigarettes in.  The suspected cause of the Triangle fire was a discarded match or cigarette.

Quickly get rid of scrap material. Two months’ worth of highly flammable fabric cuttings (hundreds of pounds) were in the scrap bins in the Triangle Factory.

Keep them separated. Fabric hanging close to the scrap bins helped the fire spread more quickly.

Make it easy to spread the word. There were no working telephones on the ninth floor of the Triangle Factory, so workers there didn’t know about the fire until it had reached their floor.  Working, audible fire alarms and emergency communication systems could have made all the difference.

Regularly inspect your fire escapes. Twenty people died when the flimsy fire escape at the Triangle Factory collapsed.

Be Prepared with the Right Commercial Insurance

Contact an American Insuring Group agent at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 to ensure that you have the proper workers compensation insurance and commercial insurance to protect both your employees and your business. As independent agents we offer insurance solutions from over 25 competing insurance companies to give you the best options at the best price. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, York, PA and far beyond. Call today.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Fire Safety, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance York PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County