Legislative Overhaul is in the Works
Gov. Jerry Brown, Business Associations, & Labor Unions are hammering out a deal
Insurance companies that provide workers compensation insurance in the state of California have had a rough time of it lately, and have paid out more in claims than they have collected in premium. In response, Workers Comp rates have risen sharply over the last year, and in recent months insurance agents and their clients have seen renewal rates increase by 20-30% in some cases. Many insurance companies are reviewing and re-underwriting their existing policies to weed out the clients that they think are more likely to have losses, based on either each client’s individual loss experience, or based on the industry or type of business.
In response to the rising costs, Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee reports that legislative leaders are attempting to pass legislation that will reduce payments to workers comp attorneys and to the medical clinics and doctors that treat injured workers.
This legislation will take time before it is enacted, and even more time before it begins to have an effect on rates. And of course much could change during the political process and in the Insurance Commissioner’s implementation of the still-unpassed laws.
This week, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau confirmed that insurers, who compete fiercely for business, continue to pay out much more in claims and expenses than they receive from employers, even though premiums have risen 22 percent in the last three years, and more increases are in the pipeline.It’s all part of a familiar drill after the Legislature makes major systemic changes. It takes several years for new rules to be drafted and take effect and for real-world impacts – which are often different from those assumed in the legislation – to reveal themselves.
What happens to small businesses that suffer from an interruption of business?
Power outages, water damage, unavailability of employees to report to work, and the inability of customers to access your business could force you to close up shop in the aftermath of a major storm. What happens then?
The Hartford has published this terrific graphic that demonstrates the importance of comprehensive Business Income insurance protection:
For the full article and graphic, visit the The Hartford’s website here.
Will you be treated right?
When things go wrong–and even for every day needs like billing and showing proof of coverage–you want an insurance company that responds quickly and efficiently. An insurance agent can help you when the insurance company is slow to respond, but why not start out with the best?
When it comes to customer service and satisfaction, I think that The Hartford Insurance Company is one of the best available. I’ve personally seen The Hartford respond time and time again, and they are unfailingly pleasant and eager to help.
If you aren’t receiving the customer service that you’d like, and you are losing money because you are wasting time trying to fix insurance problems, call me and we’ll get you started with The Hartford immediately.
A timeline for implementing OSHA‘s new chemical warnings (HCS 2012)
Most businesses have chemicals used for cleaning & manufacturing. OSHA has changed the rules for posting notices of potential hazards.
Keep up-to-date on the “Global Harmonization System” (GHS):
1. Keep employees safer from chemical hazards
2. Reduce the likelihood of fines for non-compliance.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Take the time now to become educated on the new hazard communication standard requirements by viewing OSHA’s side-by-side comparison document at
Step 2: By Dec. 1, 2013, train all employees on the new classification and labeling system.
Step 3: By June 1, 2015, modify your current written hazard communication program accordingly.
Step 4: Also by June 1, 2015, obtain updated safety data sheets (SDS) for all chemicals within your facility. (Distributors have until Dec. 1, 2015, to ship containers and SDS.)
Step 5: By June 1, 2016, modify all labels within your facility to comply with the new standard.
Need help? Call your insurance agent
Call me to get connected with your insurance company’s loss control department. Your insurance company is interested in avoiding losses to your business and has a “Loss Control” team whose job it is to help business owners prevent accidents and claims from occurring.
Plan and follow a procedure when hiring
Does your business have a procedure or checklist to ensure that you hire the right employee who is capable of doing his/her work safely and productively?
Hiring the right employees impacts:
- Overall safety
- Workers Compensation
- Likelihood of facing a lawsuit or property loss.
EMC Insurance Companies is sensitive to this employment concern and has created an informational guide that details the benefits of prework screening in the hiring process and outlines steps employers can use to develop their unique and integrated program.
Using appropriate prework screening, you can:
- Determine whether or not job candidates can safely perform the essential physical demands of the job for which they applied, were selected and given a conditional job offer
- Use a properly constructed assessment tool that is medical in nature and legally defensible because it is based on measurable task criteria (such as written job descriptions using functional analysis data)
- Know, step by step, how to establish their pre-work screening policy and measurable protocols.
Get Help. Your insurance agent is there for you.
Call me and ask for “the Prework Screening Guide,” prepared by the Loss Control department of EMC Insurance.
Since most businesses are closed for extended periods over the holidays, and people are preoccupied with celebrations, businesses are especially vulnerable to theft over the Christmas weekend.
Protect your business by taking precautions beforehand.
Recommendations for Shipments via Truck:
- Secure your lot. High-value cargo should be staged in an extra secure compound (for example, the compound should have a chain link fence of 9-gauge material at least 8 feet high and topped with barbed wire, properly anchored).
- Use a Security Patrol in your lot.
- Secure trailers while they are being staged. King Pin Locks and landing gear locks are recommended, with high security locks on the cargo doors.
On the Road
- Close truck doors before pulling out into open view in the lot so that surveillance efforts cannot see what has been loaded on to departing trucks.
- Ensure your “Red Zone” is implemented. A minimum “Red Zone” of 200 to 250 miles. (The Red Zone area is the distance wherein the driver does not stop after pick-up).
- Encourage open internal communications and the reporting of any “out of norm” occurrences.
- Drivers should remain vigilant and maintain communication with their dispatch during extended stops at high risk areas such as truck stops and rest areas.
- Drivers and warehouse workers should not discuss any details regarding loads with anyone; specifically drop locations, routes, or contents.
- Consider a no-drop policy, keeping the trailer married to the tractor so that the tractor and trailer can be secured.
- Air Cuff® Locks or other are recommended for securing tractors anytime the driver is away from the truck
Additional On-the-Road Security
- For High Value / High Target Loads, consider using covert tracking devices which will enable geo-fencing during stops and tracking in the event of a theft. Employ theft prevention devices to disable fuel, hydraulic, and/or electrical systems.
- Shippers that utilize covert tracking systems should geo-fence and route fence staged loads.
- Consider installing a sensor to alarm the driver when the trailer door is breached.
Recommendations for Warehouses & Manufacturing/Distribution Facilities:
- Instruct warehouse personnel never to divulge any proprietary codes, passwords or identification numbers to anyone, especially over the telephone. Send repeated communications regarding this policy and its enforcement.
- Warehouse workers and drivers should not discuss any details regarding the warehouse contents.
- Keep loading bay doors closed in order to prevent surveillance efforts from seeing what items might be on the loading docks.
- Encourage open internal communications and the reporting of any “out of norm” occurrences.
- Consider implementing a procedure to authorize employees to question any unfamiliar person on the property.
- Review all physical security protocols as well as vendor/contractor access to the premises, particularly after normal business hours.
- Connect with the security system provider and confirm the conversation with them. Request a representative come to the facility to conduct any resets and/or have a pre-designated password with the alarm company that they can use to verify sharing of information.
- Review documentation and contracts in place with the contracted alarm company, paying particular attention to scheduled maintenance, system access and alarm response protocols. Obtain written confirmation from the alarm company that line security of all burglar alarms is in full service and will remain in service for the duration of the contract.
- Confirm that alarm monitoring personnel have accurate contact lists and phone numbers for employees responsible for reacting to intrusion alarm signals. It is important that everyone know their duty in the event of an emergency.
- Perform random security alarm tests each month. Update alarm call lists and require designated personnel to respond to ALL alarm calls, even if there is a suspected system malfunction. Never enter the building until police response has arrived.
Travelers Insurance Company has an especially good Specialty Investigations Group to investigate and recover stolen shipments, and their Loss Control department actively help business owners prevent theft losses.
How a personal insurance agent can help you recover from a personal or commercial loss.
The fiercest winds in 50 years caused a lot of damage in Pasadena and Los Angeles on Wednesday.
On the street where I live, I saw at least 2 cars that had been crushed by huge tree limbs that fell on them, smashing the roof and windows. “Comprehensive” auto insurance coverage, also known as “other-than-collision,” is devised to help an insured recover from just such a loss. It also provides coverage from theft.
Home owners and business owners whose awnings blew away, or whose roofs were damaged, or windows broken, or who lost business due to a power outage, should be able to recover the loss from their property insurance. Businessowners’ policies even typically provide some coverage for plants, shrubs, and trees (usually limited to $2,500 or less per plant), and may be able to include the cost to replace the trees that were torn from the ground in their claim.
The fastest and easiest way to report a claim is to call the insurance company claims hotline directly. My Safeco Insurance clients should call 800-332-3226.
Insureds who have bypassed an agent by purchasing insurance online, or directly from the insurance company, must call their claims hotline, and have no other alternative.
However, an insurance agent provides a second alternative to contacting the insurance company directly and dealing with the claims hotline. My clients know that they can always call me for assistance with the claim.
Having an agent is valuable for (at least) two reasons: an agent has a personal, continual relationship with you and should be familiar with your special situation already. Less time is spent gathering information and correcting misunderstandings. Secondly, an agent is familiar with the “inside contacts” within an insurance company, and can help a client “go up the ladder” if a problem arises and the claim is not handled to the client’s satisfaction.
For example, I recently assisted a business client who had experienced an costly auto accident. The dealership, where the Mercedes had been taken for repair, was backed up and not cooperating with the claims department. After several non-responses, and an estimate that was close to the car’s value, the insurance company moved to declare the vehicle a total loss, rather than proceeding with repair. The insured preferred to repair the vehicle. I intervened with both the dealership and the claims department, pointing out to the dealership that they were about to lose the repair business unless they offered better terms to the insurance company. On the claims side, I contacted the manager of the claims department, reviewed the valuation report, noted that the vehicle’s condition was better than the report indicated, and thus a total loss would require a larger settlement than previously thought. The vehicle was repaired, and my client was pleased.
The insurance companies that I represent have excellent, fast, and friendly claim departments, and claims are handled to the customer’s satisfaction the first time around, which is why I recommend that clients make their initial report directly to the insurance company. But if the case goes awry, I’m available to assist.
Pasadena will be green again, and the residents and businesses who are properly insured will be able to recover from their loss relatively painlessly. That’s what insurance–and an insurance agent–is for.