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Workers Compensation Insurance in the Construction Industry

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 16, 2018

Workers Comp insurance costs are high in the construction industry, but here's how to lower them in Philadelphia, Reading, Chambersburg, Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.We’re sure it comes as no surprise that the cost of Workers Compensation insurance is higher in the construction industry than in most industries. The main reason for this is that worksites can be dangerous places.

There’s heavy equipment being used, people working at great heights, continually changing surroundings, and too often, safety training is put off due to tight deadlines. These potential hazards often result in more frequent workers comp claims and more severe injuries, which means higher medical payments and in turn higher workers comp insurance costs for employers.

Unique WC Challenges in the Construction Industry

In addition to higher risk, construction companies face some unique workers comp safety challenges: 

  • There is usually a mix of employees and subcontractors working at the same job site, which makes it more challenging to ensure consistent safety training and the enforcement of safety procedures. Contractors should always verify that subcontractors have adequate workers' compensation coverage.
  • Falls account for an estimated 30% of all construction claim payments. Injuries from a fall are usually more severe and result in more time away from work and damage to more than one body part. Falls are also the leading cause of death for construction employees accounting for 370 of the 991 construction fatalities in 2016.
  • Skilled tradesmen usually require specialized training and undergo unique physical demands, which often means higher pay that results in indemnity benefits that are either near or at the state’s maximum level. Indemnity benefits are benefits paid to the injured employee to replace part of his or her lost income and account for about half of all the money spent on WC claims in the construction industry.
  • Finding modified duty for injured construction workers can be difficult because once a project is completed, the company moves to another location – sometimes in a different state.

How to Reduce Workers Compensation Insurance Costs in the Construction Industry

Create a Safer working Environment

It’s impossible to eliminate all hazards at a worksite, but there are steps you can take to minimize those hazards. Construct Connect offers these tips:

  • Establish a Safety Culture – A commitment to safety needs to start at the top, and it needs to be incorporated as one of the core principles of your company’s culture.
  • Create a Site-Specific Safety Plan – Each job site is different and comes with its own unique set of hazards, so a safety plan needs to be created for each site.
  • Training – Safety training should be thorough and ongoing.
  • Empower Workers to Speak Up and Hold Each Other Accountable – Everyone on a job site should feel comfortable speaking up if they observe unsafe working conditions.
  • Conduct Daily Safety Meetings – Quickly review the work being done that day and discuss the hazards involved and the safety measures and controls in place.
  • Inspect, Evaluate, and Adjust – Every day the construction site should be inspected, and as construction progresses, the safety plan should be evaluated to see if any changes need to be made.

Return-to-Work Program

Another way to reduce WC insurance costs is to have a good return-to-work program that gets injured employees back to work as quickly and safely as possible, even if that means modified duties. Research shows that there are many benefits to getting an injured employee back to work: 

  • Reduces the financial impact of the injury
  • Lowers likelihood of fraudulent claims
  • Reduces the cost of training and replacing employees
  • Promotes good morale among the injured employee and his or her co-workers
  • Can speed up the healing process

We Specialize in Insurance for the Construction Industry

American Insuring Group specializes in insurance for the construction industry in Pennsylvania and beyond. We understand your unique challenges and can help ensure that you have the right coverage. Plus, we compare pricing with competing insurance companies to make sure you get the best price on workers compensation insurance and on all other types of insurance for your construction business.

If you want to learn more about saving money on business insurance, give one of the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click here to contact us.

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

A Crash Course on Business Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 19, 2018

Business insurance comes in many types. Contact us for the best business insurance at a great price.Whether you’re the owner of a one-person home-based handcrafted jewelry business or a large manufacturing plant with 300 employees, you face risk every day. You could lose your entire inventory to a fire, cause an injury while driving to a client meeting, or face a lawsuit for any number of reasons.

It is true that larger companies usually face more risk, but smaller companies typically don’t have the resources to recover from an injury, damage, or loss. One nasty lawsuit can put a small company that doesn’t have the proper protection out of business!

Business insurance acts as a safety net and helps protect your business from unforeseen circumstances such as theft or accidents, but not every company needs every type of insurance. Here’s a crash course in business insurance, but remember that an experienced, independent insurance agent can help determine what risks your business may face and the best insurance to cover those risks.

The Most Common Types of Business Insurance

There are many different types of insurance, and most businesses aren’t prone to every one of the risks these insurances address, but it’s good to know what is available to you.

Commercial Liability Insurance

This is a big one that most businesses need. Liability insurance protects you from lawsuits filed by customers, clients, or anyone else who decides to sue you. The three most common types of commercial liability insurance include general liability, umbrella liability, and errors and omissions liability.

  • General Liability Insurance protects your businesses from lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage.
  • Umbrella Liability Insurance goes above and beyond general liability insurance with broader coverage. Plus, if you’re on the wrong end of a huge lawsuit, umbrella liability picks up when your general liability is tapped out.
  • Errors and Omissions (E&O) Liability Insurance (A.k.a. Professional Liability Insurance) covers you if you’re sued for negligent acts or failure to provide the level of advice or service expected by a customer. Some of the businesses that typically carry this insurance are engineers, lawyers, and consultants.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Personal auto policies are meant to cover individuals and their family members and may contain exclusions for certain types of business activities. If you use any vehicle – car, truck, van, etc. - to conduct business, you’ll want to look into a commercial auto policy to cover both liability and physical damage in the event of an accident.

Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance

WC covers the cost of medical care and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job and litigation fees for businesses that are sued by an injured worker. In Pennsylvania, It is required for most businesses with employees.

Other Types of Business Insurance

Other types of coverage may be specific to a business or an industry. For example, if a company depends on one person to continue operating, they may want to purchase Key Person Insurance to protect them if that person becomes disabled or dies. If a business serves alcohol, they should look at Liquor Liability Insurance because most General Liability Insurance policies don’t cover incidents caused by serving alcohol.

How the Cost of Business Insurance is Determined

Many factors determine your insurance premiums (the amount you pay for insurance). Here are a few:

  • Type of business: If you’re in an industry that is notoriously dangerous like construction you’ll pay more than a shop that sells kitchen gadgets.
  • Age of Business: If you’ve been in business for a while, you may see some of your insurance premiums decrease.
  • Claim History: If your company has a history of making a lot of claims, you’ll probably pay more than one that doesn’t.
  • Your deductible: Usually the higher the deductible (the amount you pay out of pocket when a claim is made), the lower your premiums.

How to Purchase Business Insurance

First, you’ll want to select an agent who is licensed to sell property/casualty insurance. Also, an agent who is familiar with your business is better suited to determine your risks and your insurance needs.

Purchasing business insurance online is probably not a good idea especially if you’re unfamiliar with insurance. Having an agent that you can talk to and ask questions, is well worth any savings you may or may not find online.

 

Are You Ready to Save on Great Insurance For Your Business?

As a broker, American Insuring Group represents several insurance companies, which means that we can compare prices among lots of competing providers, and take advantage of available discounts. The result? You get the best price on your insurance!

For a free business insurance quote, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Business Insurance, Commercial Auto Insurance

Restaurant Workers Comp Insurance: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 12, 2018

Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes from national fast-food chains to family-run diners with a single location. A safe restaurant can lower your workers compensation insurance costs in Allentown, Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond. it’s a mixed bag.

On one hand, the cost of workers comp insurance for servers, cashiers, busboys, dishwashers, and management is lower than average for all occupations. On the other hand, the cost for WC insurance for cooks is above average. 

Most Workers Comp Insurance Claims are Small

Thankfully, most injuries that occur within a restaurant are relatively minor. This translates to lower medical benefits costs, lower temporary total indemnity benefits costs, and infrequent permanent partial disability benefits.

The restaurant industry has a high turnover rate, which often means that safety training is limited, which can lead to more injuries.

Returning to Work

Getting employees back to work quickly and safety after a workplace injury is always a priority of a good workers compensation program. With the restaurant industry, the bad news is that the high number of employees who speak English as a second language can make placement in alternative duty positions challenging; the good news is that there are plenty of modified duties available. Here are just a few examples:

  • A waiter or waitress can fill in as host or hostess.
  • Some injured employees can do side work like setting up the tables or filling water glasses, salt and pepper shakers, ketchup bottles., etc.
  • A dishwasher can ask another employee to carry heavy tubs of dirty dishes so he or she can wash them.

How to Lower Your Workers Compensation Insurance Costs

Workers compensation insurance rates often come down to safety. More injuries mean higher workers comp costs, and of course fewer injuries mean lower insurance costs. It may not be easy, but it is worth it. For every one dollar spent on safety programs, businesses can save $4 to $6 from costs associated with injuries and fatalities, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Here are a few tips to help reduce the number of injuries at your restaurant:

  • Create a safety program for your restaurant and provide safety and first aid training

  • Require that all injuries – no matter how small - be reported so you can identify patterns or potential problems before something big happens

  • Offer employees incentives such as safety awards and other prizes for employees who follow your safety program.

Common Restaurant Injuries

In and out of the kitchen, injuries from falls and disability from repetitive motion injuries occur more frequently in restaurants than in most industries. While most injuries are minor, severe injuries, can and do occur in restaurants, especially in the kitchen. Here are three of the most common injuries in restaurant kitchens according to QSR magazine:

Burns

More than 5,000 restaurant fires are reported in the U.S. every year resulting in about 100 injuries, about $116 million in property damage, and fewer than five deaths. It’s no surprise that FEMA reports cooking as the leading cause of restaurant fires accounting for 64 percent of all restaurant fires. Other causes include unintentional careless actions (4 percent), appliances (4 percent), and other heat (3 percent). Deep-fat fryers are the top cause of burns in restaurant kitchens, according to OSHA.

The National Restaurant Association recommends these burn prevention tips:

  • Use trays, hot pads, oven mitts, or dry waiter’s cloths to help carry and serve hot dishes.

  • Be careful when removing plates from heat lamps and heat strips to avoid contact with hot surfaces.

  • With deep-fat fryers, use the correct grease level, cook at the manufacturers recommended temperatures, and don’t over fill fryer baskets.

  • Because oil and water don’t mix make sure that fryer and fryer baskets are dry after washing and don’t allow excess ice crystals from frozen foods to get into the cooking oil.

  • Keep grill and stove surfaces clean to prevent grease flare-ups.

  • Use proper cooking tools such as tongs to prevent contact with hot surfaces and foods.

Lacerations and Puncture Wounds

Most cooks have had their share of scrapes and small cuts, but serious lacerations and even amputated fingers can happen. Your kitchen staff should be trained on how to use knives properly and sharp tools should always be returned to their proper location when workers are done using them. A knife left on a counter could easily fall on someone’s foot causing injury. When a laceration or puncture wound does occur, immediately treat and disinfect the wound to help prevent infection.

Sprains and Strains

Restaurant workers can suffer from strains if they’re using improper lifting techniques, and reaching for hard-to-reach items can cause injury.

Misplaced or hard-to-reach items can cause worker injury due to overreaching or trips. Restaurant workers can also suffer from strains due to improper lifting. When these injuries occur, analgesic heat rubs, muscle ointments, and aspirin can help reduce pain and maintain productivity.

 

Get a Free Workers Compensation Insurance Quote and Start Saving!

For a free workers comp insurance quote for your restaurant or other business, call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Our dedicated independent agents will carefully shop the market, leaving no stone unturned to help you find great protection at the best price!

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

Prevent Injuries and Save on Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 05, 2018

Prevent Injuries Through Safety, Lower Your Contractor Insurance Costs in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere.We talk a lot about safety on this blog, but the truth is that reducing and preventing the number of injuries in the workplace, is one of the best ways to reduce your workers’ compensation and liability insurance costs. These costs tend to be higher than average in the construction industry due to its dangerous nature, so we’re going to keep talking about safety.

One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to be aware of where and how most accidents occur. Here are the five top events or exposures that lead to injury on construction worksites according to ConstructConnect, along with some tips to avoid them.

The Top 5 Injury Factors on Construction Worksites

#1 - Contact with Objects

Construction sites are filled with heavy equipment and dangerous tools, so it’s no surprise that in 2016, there were 29,160 cases of injuries caused by contact with objects. Being struck by objects or equipment caused the most injuries. Most of those were caused by handheld equipment or objects slipping or being swung by the injured employee. 5,220 accidents were caused by a falling objects or equipment hitting workers.

Injuries also occurred when workers hit an object or a piece of equipment. Some injuries occurred by hitting something stationery such as stepping on an object, but more happened when workers hit a moving object such as a moving part of the machinery.

There were also 3,260 injuries caused by a worker being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects.

Safety Tips:

  • Always wear a hardhat onsite
  • Avoid areas where work is being done overhead
  • Use lanyards or netting to avoid dropping tools or materials to a lower level 

#2 – Slips, Trips and Falls

In 2016, there were 24,700 reported cases of construction workers being injured by slips, trips, or falls. The majority of those injuries were caused by falling to a lower level.

Safety Tips:

  • Provide fall protection for anyone working up high
  • Keep areas where people walk clear
  • Inspect personal arrest systems to make sure that everything is in good working order

#3 – Overexertion

Construction is hard work, so it’s no surprise that in 2016, 21,150 overexertion injuries were reported. These injuries were caused by lifting or lowering objects; pulling, pushing, or turning; holding, carrying, or wielding, and other things like bending, twisting climbing, reaching, etc.

Safety Tips:

  • When lifting an object, bend at your knees and use your legs
  • Wear a back brace when lifting a heavy object
  • Take regular breaks when feeling fatigued or doing something that requires repetitive motion

#4 – Transportation Incidents

U.S. roads can be dangerous. In 2016, 3,470 injuries reported in the construction industry were the result of transportation incidents. This includes vehicle collisions and pedestrians being struck and injured by vehicles in both work zones and off the road – like on construction sites.

Safety Tips:

  • Obey traffic rules when driving
  • Be aware of what’s going on around you
  • Avoid blind spots with mirrors and visual aid devices such as backup alarms and lights
  • Control traffic using barricades and signs to alert drivers of work zones, shifting traffic patterns, etc.
  • Wear proper safety equipment including hard hats, highly visible clothing, steel-toed boots, etc.

#5 - Exposure to Harmful Environments or Substances

In 2016, there were 1,470 injuries caused by exposure to extreme temperatures and 420 injuries caused by exposure to electricity. Electrical injuries can include electrocution, electrical shock, burns, and falls, and low voltage does NOT mean low hazard.

Safety Tips:

  • In hot weather, keep hydrated, try to schedule work during the cooler time of day, bring shade, and keep an eye on each other
  • In frigid weather, provide a heated break area; ensure that workers dress appropriately with layers of loose-fitting, insulated clothing; gradually introduce workers to the cold; know the symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot; and monitor each other
  • Check electrical cords and wires before using
  • Wear personal protection when handling electrical materials

Understanding Leads to Prevention

Understanding your biggest risks for injury and how to prevent them before they happen are your first steps to minimizing injuries in a notoriously dangerous industry. Providing a safe work environment is good for you and your employees. Plus, it provides cost savings on insurance and other costs of workplace injuries such as missed days of work, training new employees, lower employee morale, etc.

 

We'll Help You Save on Every Kind of Commercial Insurance!

To learn more ways to save on contractor insurance, workers comp insurance and all types of commercial insurance, simply call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click to contact us online.

Our independent agents aggressively shop the market to find you the very best deal on quality insurance. Contact us today to start saving in Pennsylvania and beyond!

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

Vocational Rehab Can Reduce Workers Comp Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 22, 2018

Vocational rehabilitation considerations to reduce workers compensation insurance costs in PAIn 1996, Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act was amended, and Act 57 was passed.

These changes were an attempt to address the rising costs of workers’ compensation for employers without affecting the rights of injured employees.

One goal of the amendment and passing of Act 57 was to rehabilitate injured workers and help them get back into the workforce at an economic status similar to what they enjoyed prior to the disability or injury.

This may include vocational rehabilitation (VR) benefits if the injured employee isn’t able to return to the job they held prior to the injury without residual disability or restrictions.

Vocation Rehabilitation Defined

Wikipedia defines vocational rehabilitation as “a process which enables persons with functional, psychological, developmental, cognitive and emotional impairments or health disabilities to overcome barriers to accessing, maintaining or returning to employment or other useful occupation.”

Determining Earning Power and Setting a Rehab Plan

If an employee is eligible for VR, a qualified rehabilitation counselor (QRC) will interview the injured employee to determine his or her earning power. The purpose of the interview is to understand the employee’s injury and need for future medical care or treatment, to discuss work restrictions, and to develop a rehabilitation plan to get the employee back to work as quickly and smoothly as possible.

It is not limited to physical limitations, and its goal is to determine what work the employee is capable of and then place him or her in that type of job.

The goal of the plan is to promote employability and to address things like whether the employee is definitely or likely to be permanently prevented from performing their pre-injury job, whether obtaining employment with the injured employee’s current employer (where he sustained the injury) or another employer is a reasonable outcome, and what additional rehabilitation services they might need.

Rehabilitation services may include job training, physical reconditioning, or job search assistance.

Following the Progress of the Rehab Plan

As with any workers’ compensation claim benefit, it’s important that you as the employer follow the progress of the rehabilitation plan and keep in regular contact with your injured employee and the QRC. Otherwise, the claim can be drawn out and end up costing you more than it has to. Plus, the goal of a rehabilitation plan is to get the injured employee back to work whether it’s with you or another employer.

Here are 3 tools that can improve the chances of getting an employee back to work:

  1. Disability Status Reports
    The QRC will send these to you regularly, and it’s important to read through them to make sure that the employee is making progress. If they aren’t, you may want to consider an independent vocational evaluation.
  2. On-the-job Training Plans
    This is used to develop transferable job skills and should include information about a desired position for the employee, what they will need to qualify for the position, and expected wages.
  3. Written Job Offers
    If you feel that your employee is ready to come back to work, you can write up a job offer that includes the position you’re offering including the tasks and wages.

Getting Back to Work is Good for Everyone

Getting an injured employee back to work as quickly and safely as possible is good for everyone – it keeps the employee active and engaged and helps lower the employer’s costs. Sometimes vocational rehabilitation is required, but as with any workers comp insurance claim, it’s important that you stay on top of it and continue to monitor your employee’s rehabilitation.

 

Contact Us for the Best Workers Compensation Insurance Info and Options

Contact us to save on workers compensation insurance in PATo learn more about all your workers compensation insurance options and costs, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.  We have the info you need to make the best decision.

Best of all, you'll save on the right coverage for your business because our independent agents are free to research and compare policies from competing carriers, and then to select the one that's best for your situation.

So don't delay - contact American Insuring Group today to get started.

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*This blog is a summary of “Beware of Vocational Rehabilitation Costs.”

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Vocational Rehabilitation

Repetitive Motion Injuries and Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 24, 2018

Workers-Comp-Insurance-Repetitive-MotionThere is a very simple way to reduce health insurance and workers compensation insurance costs: provide a safer work environment and reduce the number of workplace injuries. We said it was simple, not easy.

Musculoskeletal Disorders - Largest Category of Workplace Injuries

We spend a lot of time talking about safety in the workplace in more dangerous industries such as construction and trucking, but every workplace has its safety risks. One risk almost every worker faces is Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), also known as repetitive motion injuries. MSDs are the largest category of workplace injuries. According to OSHA, MSDs are responsible for 34 percent of all lost-workday injuries and illnesses, account for $1 of every $3 spent for workers’ compensation, and cost U.S. companies as much as $50 billion every year in direct costs.

In addition to increased medical and insurance costs, MSDs cause painful injuries that sometimes require surgery and prescription medications, reduce productivity, and decrease morale. While most MSDs are very preventable, many companies do little or nothing to reduce or eliminate MSD risks. A proactive, prevention-focused approach to MSDs can save your business a significant amount of money and your employees a great deal of pain. Preventing an injury rather than treating it just makes good business sense.

What are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

MSDs, Aka repetitive motion injuries are injuries that affect the movement of the musculoskeletal system including muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, discs, blood vessels, etc., and they can impact any employee from an office worker to a construction worker.

The parts of the body usually affected by MSDs include the arms, hands, fingers, neck, back, wrists, legs, and shoulders. Common MSDs include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis, Tension Neck Syndrome, Herniated disc, etc.

When employees are exposed to MSD risk factors, a certain part or parts of their bodies become fatigued, and when that fatigue continues more rapidly than the body can recover, a musculoskeletal imbalance occurs, which can eventually lead to an MSD.

Workplace tasks that can cause this fatigue – known as ergonomic risk factors - include things like high-task repetition (cycle time of 30 seconds or less), forceful exertions, awkward postures, static postures, quick motions, compression or contact stress, vibrations, and cold temperatures.

What is Ergonomics?

OSHA defines ergonomics as “the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.” According to OSHA, “Ergonomics draws on a number of scientific disciplines, including physiology,biomechanics, psychology, anthropometry, industrial hygiene, and kinesiology.”

By identifying ergonomic hazards in a workplace and adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment, employers can reduce physical stress on their employees’ bodies and eliminate many MSDs.

How to Develop an Effective Ergonomic Program

To develop an effective ergonomic program, you need to identify potential ergonomic risk factors by reviewing operations and work practices; examine injury and MSD history within your company and information from OSHA, insurance companies, and other sources; and survey the employees performing the jobs.

Control methods of an ergonomic program may include engineering controls or work practice controls. Engineering controls may consist of eliminating excessive force and awkward posture requirements by using mechanical assists, counterbalance systems, adjustable height lift tables and workstations, powered equipment, and ergonomic tools. Work practice controls may include training on safe and effective procedures to complete tasks, job rotation to avoid prolonged periods of performing a single task, and regularly scheduled rest or stretch breaks. 

Recognizing and controlling ergonomic risk factors is an essential step to providing a safe workplace for all of your employees and improving your bottom line. Good ergonomics is good economics. So is good insurance.

Protect Your Business With Great Insurance - Learn More

We offer PA Workers Compensation Insurance for businesses in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Pittsburgh, Erie, Hanover, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and beyond.To learn more about properly protecting your business, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

Our independent agents can educate you on your options and provide you with great business insurance at an unbeatable price! Call today to learn more.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance, Repetitive Motion Injuries

3 Ways Trucking Firms Can Save on Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Thu, May 31, 2018

Tips for how trucking companies can save on Workers Compensation Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Lancaster County, PA and beyond.Workers Compensation Insurance for interstate trucking companies can be complicated, but it is required by most states. And, due to the dangerous nature of truck driving, it is essential for the well-being of both truck drivers and trucking companies.

Determining Workers Compensation Insurance Risks

The first challenge comes when insurance underwriters try to determine a trucking company’s risks. Each state has its own workers comp insurance base rates, requirements, and rules. To further complicate matters, sometimes a trucking company is located in one state, the truck driver resides in another, and the WC injury occurs in yet another state. While there are interstate payroll classification codes available from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), those codes don’t apply to three highly-traveled states: California, New York, and Texas.

The 7th Deadliest Occupation

Another challenge is the dangerous nature of the occupation. With all the time truck drivers spend on the road, it’s probably no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists truck driving as the seventh deadliest occupation. In 2016, there were 918 fatal injuries making the fatal injury rate for truck drivers 24.7 per 100,000 full-time employees.

Health and Injuries 

What may surprise you is that truck drivers also tend to be less healthy than the average worker, which makes them more prone to other types of injuries. Drivers sit for long periods of time and then have brief periods of strenuous labor as they load and unload their trucks. Many truck drivers also have unhealthy lifestyles that include a minimal amount of exercise, being overweight, and having irregular sleep habits. This causes a disproportionate number of musculoskeletal injuries compared to other occupations and poor overall physical health that often impacts employee recovery time when they are injured. 

The most common injuries truck drivers experience are vehicle accidents, slips and falls climbing in and out of the cab or trailer and on loading docks, trains, and back injuries while loading and unloading cargo, carpal tunnel, and crush injuries caused by loads falling on the driver. Many truck drivers also attribute kidney stones and hemorrhoids to their jobs but rarely claim either as an occupational injury or disease. 

Despite its complexities, here are 3 ways trucking companies can save on workers’ compensation insurance:

  1. Develop a Safety Program

Take the time to develop a comprehensive safety program specific to your business and give a copy of your safety policies to every truck driver along with safety guidelines specific to eliminating injuries in drivers. Also, create a culture of safety by making it clear that every driver is expected to follow your safety policies or face the consequences and requiring every driver to attend at least one annual safety training to reinforce your safety policies.

  1. Perform Drug Testing

Drug testing will not only affect your workers compensation insurance costs but also your liability insurance costs. You should test every new hire and conduct random drug testing and mandatory drug testing after an accident that causes damage to property or injury to the driver or anyone else.

  1. Health & Wellness Program

An effective health and wellness program may reduce the cost of both WC and health insurance benefits. These programs can help reduce injuries and help employees recover more quickly from injuries. This may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the WC savings you could experience just by reducing obesity alone will pay for the cost of the health and wellness program.  

CAUTION - Don't Misclassify Drivers!

It’s very tempting to try to reduce your workers comp insurance costs by classifying all of your drivers as independent contractors, but the only drivers who should be classified as independent contractors are those who regularly drive for other companies. If the driver is only driving for your company and you’re designating when and where the loads are picked up and dropped off, the IRS and the state board of workers’ compensation will consider them your employees – not independent contractors.

The penalties and fines that you can face for not having WC for employees could quickly put a small or medium-sized trucking company out of business. Plus, drivers whose WC claims are denied can (and often do) sue your company for medical bills, pain and suffering (which is not paid under WC), and the loss of all wages (as opposed to the typical two-thirds of wages paid by most WC claims).

Get the Right Workers Comp Insurance for Your Business 

While workers compensation insurance for trucking companies can be complicated, the WC experts at American Insuring Group can provide affordable and reliable workers compensation to protect both your employees and your business.

Don't take chances - call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

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

Safety Pays! 4 Ways a Safety Program Helps Your Business

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 22, 2018

Safety-Program-BenefitsAre you interested in lowering your workers compensation insurance and related costs? Would you like to improve employee morale, increase production, and reduce absenteeism? Implementing a workplace safety program can do all that and so much more.

It is true that developing a safety program takes time and effort, and it can be difficult to measure the return on investment, but research has shown that it is definitely worthwhile.

$170,000,000,000.00 Per Year!

According to OSHA, “Businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses -- expenditures that come straight out of company profits. But workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent. In today's business environment, these costs can be the difference between operating in the black and running in the red.”

And about that ROI… it’s been estimated that for every dollar invested in injury prevention, businesses will see a $2 to $6 return, according to Safety and Health Magazine. That's an ROI of 100% to 500%!

 

Here are four ways your business can benefit from implementing a safety program

 

#1. Lower Workers’ Compensation Costs

Often, workers compensation (WC) costs are one of the highest insurance costs in a business. It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone.

Three factors go into determining your workers comp insurance premiums: Classification Code, Payroll, and Experience Modification Rate. Classification codes are based on the type of business you’re in and the tasks your employees perform. There is a corresponding WC rate (which varies by state) for each classification code. The more hazards an employee is exposed to, the higher the rate. The amount of payroll a business runs annually also affects your WC premiums. There isn’t much you can do about these first two; they are what they are

But the third factor – your experienced modification rate – is something you have some control over. Every business is given MOD, which is a number that represents its insurance claim history. The average MOD is set at 1.00. If you have few or no history of claims, your MOD can go lower, which means lower premiums. The more claims you have, the higher your MOD goes, and the higher your WC premiums.

So, the best way to reduce your WC insurance premiums is to avoid workplace accidents, and the best way to do that is with an effective safety program.

In Pennsylvania, you can also receive a five percent discount on WC premiums if you have a safety committee that meets the requirements for state certification.

#2. Avoid OSHA Penalties

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stringent workplace safety guidelines that every business is expected to follow. Failing to abide by these rules and regulations can result in expensive fines.

Here is a list of OSHA’s penalties:

  • $12,934 per violation for serious, other than serious, and posting requirements violations
  • $12,934 per day beyond the abatement date for failure to abate
  • $129,336 per violation for willful or repeated violations

In the fiscal year 2017, OSHA reported the most-citied violations were 6,887 violations regarding fall protection, 4,652 violations regarding hazard communication, 3,697 violations regarding scaffolding, and 3,381 violations regarding respiratory protection 

Implementing a safety program specific to your industry and your business that follows OSHA’s guidelines can help you avoid costly fines. OSHA offers many publications on everything from roof tarping safety to preventing workplace violence to help you create a safer work environment and avoid OSHA’s penalties.

#3. Avoid Costly Accidents

Accidents can be costly. You may find yourself paying for an accident investigation, property damage repairs, insurance deductibles, administrative expenses, and recruiting, training and compensating replacement workers.

You may also face the hefty costs involved in a lawsuit. Accidents and lawsuits can also affect your reputation, which can affect sales and your ability to attract skilled employees. Avoiding accidents also can lower your worker's comp insurance premiums. 

#4. Keep Employees Safe

Ensuring a safe work environment for your employees is the right thing to do and just makes good business sense. It should be your number one priority.

Safe work environments improve employee morale and make your place of business an attractive place to work. This usually means more productive employees, better service, a better quality product, and more skilled employees. OSHA estimates that lost productivity from injuries and illnesses cost businesses $60 billion every year.

If you want to see the financial rewards of a safety program, it’s essential to have a written policy in place and make it clear that safety is a priority and that the policies and procedures will be enforced. And you should continually provide safety training and look for ways to improve your safety program.

So, now that you have the facts in front of you, will you be taking the time to develop a workplace safety program?

 

Start Saving on All Your Commercial Insurance Needs

Save-on-Workers-Comp-InsuranceTo learn more ways to save on workers compensation insurance and all your commercial insurance policies, call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

Our independent agents will compare rates and policies among lots of competing insurance providers to get you the right policy at an unbeatable price.

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Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Safety Programs

5 Ways to Lower Your Workers Comp Pharmacy Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 25, 2018

Tips for reducing your pharmacy costs for workers compensation insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley, PA and more.Often when the topic of reducing workers compensation (WC) insurance costs comes up, pharmaceutical costs are the focus. That’s no surprise when you consider that the “total workers’ comp annual pharmacy spend is approximately $3.6 to $4.1 billion,” according to a CompPharma Survey.

Looking at pharmaceutical costs is a great place to start if you want to control WC spending without sacrificing the quality of medical care your injured workers are receiving.

 

Here are 5 Steps to Help You Save

 

#1. Educate yourself, providers, and patients about pharmaceutical options

For example:

  • Lidocaine gel or cream - an anesthetic that is used to treat irritation, soreness, and itching from certain skin conditions - is about half the cost of Lidoderm – a lidocaine patch.

  • The average cost of Evzio - a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency such as an overdose - is $3,380.69 higher than the combined price of Narcan, Naltrexone, and Naloxone (alternatives to Evzio), according to Express Scripts.

  • Before approving an ADF (Abuse-Deterrent Formulations), which are not typically included in WC formularies, determine if the patient is at risk of abuse and if a more traditional (and often less expensive) opioid may be safe for them.

#2. Use generic instead of brand-name medication whenever possible

On average, the cost of a generic drug is 80 to 85 percent less than its brand name equivalent. According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), “FDA requires generic drugs to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand-name drug. The generic manufacturer must prove its drug is the same (bioequivalent) as the brand-name drug.” According to Express Scripts, prescribers often turn to brand-name medications out of “habit, lack of awareness of available alternatives, or patient requests.”

#3. Avoid physician-dispensed drugs

First, there is the concern that – due to incomplete drug histories and lack of safety checks – physician-dispensed drugs may not be safe for injured workers. Some states have rules in place for pricing and dispensing of physician-dispensed drugs, and, according to Express Scripts, “Physician-dispensed drugs cost $109.19 more than drugs dispensed by pharmacies.”

#4. Stay with in-network pharmacies

Prescriptions that are filled through third-party billers or out of network pharmacies are more expensive because they incur additional costs and do not add any value, according to Express Scripts

#5. Closely review prescriptions for specialty medications

The cost of specialty drugs is less than 1 percent of drugs used by injured workers, but accounted for 5.9% of total spending in 2016, according to Express Scripts.

Opioid Prescriptions: the Most Expensive and Most Utilized Class of Drugs in WC

Express Scripts reports that more than 50 percent of injured workers had an opioid prescription last year and 25 percent used opioids for 30 days or more in 2016. Opioids accounted for 26.6 percent of per-user-per-year (PUPY) spend and 24.3 percent of PUPY utilization among Express Scripts clients.

And it isn’t just the financial cost of opioids that make it a critical topic; it’s also the human cost of the opioid epidemic. The number of overdose deaths involving opioids (both prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled since 1999, and today ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some injured workers are taking a dangerous combination of opioids and other drugs. Opioids should be used based on evidence-based guidelines in acute phases of pain, not for chronic pain. It’s essential that injured workers understand the risks and benefits of opioids.

For more information on the opioid epidemic and the impact on insurance costs, see our infographic.

 

Approved Drugs for Workers Compensation Insurance

Several states have adopted legislation mandating a drug formulary - a list of prescription drugs created by a committee of physicians, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists used by practitioners to identify drugs that offer the greatest overall value – for workers’ compensation. In Pennsylvania, there is a bill in the House requiring drug formulary for WC as of this writing.

 

Call Us for More Information, and to Save on WC Insurance! 

We're a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agency for Workers Compensation Insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, PA and beyond.A little bit of knowledge goes a long way to saving money on your WC Pharmacy spend without risking the health of your injured employees, and since American Insuring Group specializes in workers compensation insurance, we’re a fountain of knowledge.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online. Pick our brains and let us show you how we can help you lower your workers comp insurance costs!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

10 Red Flags For Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 04, 2018

Watch out for these red flags signaling possible workers compensation insurance abuse. It’s your responsibility as an employer, to pay close attention to your workers compensation insurance claims. The majority will be legitimate claims that your employees are entitled to. But even one fraudulent claim can adversely impact your bottom line.

There are important red flags you can watch for to identify possible workers compensation fraud. Here are ten red flags. Seeing just one red flag probably isn’t cause for alarm, but if you see multiple red flags on one workers’ compensation claim, it’s a good idea to bring it to your adjuster’s attention.

Ten Workers Compensation Fraud Red Flags

#1. Questionable Incident Description

An injured employee should be able to describe the incident – what happened, how, and when - with a fair amount of detail and clarity. The details should be consistent and not change as you ask questions or when the employee describes the incident to someone else (doctor, adjuster, employer). If there’s more than one medical report, the details of the event should be the same, and the nature of the injury should be consistent with the type of work the employee performs.

#2. Lack of Witness Corroboration

If the employee usually works around others, there should be a witness, and the witness account of the accident should match the employee’s description of the accident. If the witnesses are all close friends of the employee making a claim or if the employee’s co-workers express uncertainty that the accident occurred, it may be a red flag.

#3. Delayed Reporting

Injured employees usually report their injury immediately – not days or even weeks later.

#4. Disgruntled Employee

Is the employee unhappy with his job or employer? When a workers’ compensation insurance claim is made, check if the employee was recently demoted or passed over for a promotion, if his evaluations are less than stellar and he’s in danger of termination, or if he is scheduled to be laid off. An incident immediately before a strike, plant closing, or end of seasonal employment may be a red flag.

#5. Early Morning Claims

If the employee reports an incident that occurred over the weekend or very early in the morning before the supervisor and other employees have arrived, it could be a red flag.

#6. Inability to reach the injured employee

The employee should provide his address – not a PO Box and not a friend’s address – and you should be able to contact the injured employee. If you find they aren’t home during regular working hours or if you’re always told he’s sleeping or can’t be disturbed, it could be a red flag.

#7. Shaky Finances

If an employee is having financial issues, he may see a workers’ compensation claim as a way out. Find out if the employee has financial problems, is nearing retirement, is in the middle of a divorce, or if they took a lot of time off just before the injury. Check if the spouse is working or receiving any of these payments: workers’ comp benefits, disability, welfare, or unemployment. If the employee asks about a settlement early into the process or applies for social security benefits before the incident occurred, that could be a red flag.

#8. Medical Care

Watch out for subjective injuries - such as soft-tissue and emotional - or injuries that seem to move from one body part to another; frequent changes in physicians or inconsistencies between employee and physicians’ reports; or missed doctors’ appointments or refusal of diagnostic testing. Carefully examine the medical reports to make sure there aren’t any whiteouts, and it doesn’t look like it’s been photocopied multiple times. Most employees don’t have extensive knowledge of the medical or insurance field. If he does, it may be a red flag.

#9. Inconsistent Physically Ability

An injured employee who is out of work on workers’ compensation should not be able to do similar activities to what he was doing at work. So look for evidence that he is performing those activities outside of work such as callused or grimy hands, medical reports that use adjectives like “muscular” or “tanned.”

#10. Over-eager

If the employee is pushy to settle the claim or has an attorney letter of representation dated the day of (or even before) the injury, it could be a red flag.

Final Advice: Don't Assume Insurance Fraud, But ... 

Don’t go into every workers compensation claim assuming there’s fraud. The majority of claims are legitimate. But at the same time, don’t be blind to the red flags that may indicate fraud. If you see multiple red flags, let your adjuster know. It may just help you save on your workers’ compensation costs.

 

Remember the Easy Way to Save on Workers Comp Insurance!

To learn more about workers compensation insurance, call the American Insuring at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

And remember, the easiest way to save on workers comp insurance is to buy it from an independent agent like those at American Insuring Group! We shop competing insurance providers, matching their policies to your needs, and identifying the best value for your particular situation. Get the right coverage at a great price. Call or click today to get started!

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