5 Tips for Lawncare and Landscaping Companies

Purchasing commercial insurance is a very important aspect of any lawncare or landscaping business. Properly protecting the business may mean the difference between the long-term success or failure of the business. Partnering with an experienced insurance professional is the first step towards securing the ultimate insurance package. For most businesses, time is precious. If your time is precious, partnering with an independent insurance agent is a great way for you to get multiple quotes from multiple carriers with little work on your end. Most independent agencies partner with 10 or more insurance carriers. This allows the independent agent to get quotes from multiple carriers instead of you have to call each one individually. An Independent agent shops for insurance so you don’t have to. Those independent agencies can also give your business insight about the carriers that they may not be able to divulge to you if they work for only one company. Here are four tips to help a business owner prepare for the next time they have to renew commercial insurance.

Make sure you are classified properly

There are more than 700 classification codes that differentiate businesses within similar industries. The lawn care and landscaping industry has as many as nine different classification codes. Some codes are for businesses that only cut grass. Another code is for a business that install sod and other shrubbery.  Another code is for businesses that have employees who climb high into a tree with a chainsaw to cut off limbs while in the air. Each classification code has a different level of risk and they pay a different amount for insurance premium. If your business is classified improperly it can cost you an enormous amount in unneeded premium payments.

Consider Alternative Payment Options

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance Programs offer businesses the ability to pay premium in real-time based upon the amount of payroll from the previous month. A traditional workers comp policy requires a business to pay premium based on an estimate of the payroll from the previous year or the previous three years. For a landscaping business, man hours can fluctuate enormously from year to year. This may cause your business to over pay throughout the year for unnecessary premium. This discrepancy is usually fixed during the end of term audit, but even if you get a refund you still have had cash-flow tied up in premium throughout the year. This money is tied up in insurance premium instead of allowing the business to spend this money on more immediate business needs.

Implement a Safety Program

Safety programs are a great thing to implement in to any business for a number of reasons. First and foremost, a safety program is the right thing to do for the employees of the business. In the lawncare and landscaping industry, healthy employees are productive employees.  Making sure your employees are safe will keep the employees happy and healthy, but it will also save your business immensely. Safety program will contribute to less injured employees. Less injured employees means less insurance claims. Less frequent and less severe insurance claims means a better experience modification rating and this rating is the number one thing a business has control over to keep the cost of insurance low.

Include a Return-to-Work Plan in your Safety Program

Including a return-to-work plan inside of a businesses safety program will contribute immensely to a positive experience modification rating. This is because when a business has a injured employee, limiting the amount of time the injured employee is away from work will limit the amount the insurance company has to pay for lost wages. Also, humans are creatures of habit. When an employee is injured they are taken out of their normal routine. The longer the injured employee stays away from the job, the more time they have to create new habits. The longer an employee stays away from work, the more likely they are to be on long term disability. This is the type of claim that can have disastrous effects on your experience modification rating. Getting your employees back on the job, even in a limited capacity, drastically increases the likelihood they will return to full=time employment. Talking with your managers and key employees about ways to get injured workers back on the job and back in to the company culture can have huge effects on employee morale.

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance

5 industries that can benefit from Pay as You Go

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance is a unique payment option for paying for Pay as You Go Workers Comp Premium. The program allows businesses to get coverage in place at a significantly lower amount up-front. This can benefit cash-strapped businesses that needs this money to spend on more pressing business needs. It also allows businesses to pay premium each month in real-time based upon the previous months payroll. This allows seasonal businesses to pay a majority of their yearly premium during the busy season when the business has cash on hand while allowing the business to pay less for premium during the slow months when cash-flow may be more difficult to come by.

 

 

pay as you go workers compensation insurance

Lawncare and Landscaping

The lawncare and landscaping industry tends to be seasonal in nature depending upon where the business is located. In most climates, the busy season in this industry lasts 4 to 6 months out of the year. A pay as you go workers compensation insurance policy will allow your business to pay premium in real-time based on the previous months payroll. This will allow the business to pay a lower amount for premium during the slower months when cash-flow is lower and pay the bulk of the premium for the year during the busy season when cash is plenty.

Resorts

Resorts are the ultimate seasonal business. Regardless of whether the resort is located in a tropical climate like Florida or an arctic climate like Aspen, Colorado; the majority of the money made for the resort is made during a small amount of the year. Most resorts may have as many as 500 employees on payroll during the peak season, but may get as lean as 50 employees during other parts of the year. This is one of the perfect types of businesses to benefit from pay as you go workers compensation insurance.

Farming

For most areas of the country there is one growing season for most farm businesses. In some areas the climate is ideal for 2 or 3 growing season and some farms are able to grow some crops in the colder months like Winter Wheat, but most farms experience one growing season per year. This means the farm business has a portion of their year where they will have a significantly larger staff on payroll. This allows the business to pay more during a portion of the year when they are busy and less during another part of the year when work is slow. It also allows businesses to pay for their premium more accurately than a traditional workers comp policy that is based upon an estimated payroll from the previous year or three years.

Ice Cream or Snow Cone Shops

Ice Cream or Snow Cone Shops tend to be seasonal and small revenue businesses. Many do not have enough cash on hand at the beginning of the season to pay for a quarter or a third of the total premium in one lump-sum payment. For these types of businesses pay as you go workers compensation insurance can be the perfect remedy to get coverage in place to start up the Summer Season.

Construction

Construction is not as seasonal as other businesses, but there are definitely high and low seasons involved in the trade. Many businesses get paid in a lump-sum when the job is finished. This can make it difficult to pay premium when business is slow or you have a project that is long-term. Depending upon how the business structures their payments, their may be extended time periods when the business does not bring in much revenue. Pay as you go can help the business owner to know how much they have to pay for premium each month and gives them the ability to cut hours when they are running low on cash.

Snow Removal

Snow removal businesses are obviously only located in certain areas of the country and only operate at certain times of the year. Even in Alaska, snow does not accumulate in Summer. For this reason, most snow removal businesses only collect revenue during the colder months of the year. These businesses are also heavily dependent upon the weather. With a traditional workers comp policy, the premium payments are based off of an estimated payroll from the previous year or a number of years. In this industry the man hours can be dramatically different from year to year. Pay as you go workers compensation insurance is perfect for businesses like this.

 

 

Restaurants: 5 Ways to Save

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5 Ways to Save When Purchasing Workers Comp Coverage for your Restaurant.

Restaurant Small Businesses need to find any and every way to save money in order to free up cash for the most important business needs. This is especially important when it comes to purchasing and managing workers compensation insurance. Here are 4 tips to help you get the best out of your policy at the best price.

Partner with an independent insurance agent

Partnering with an independent insurance agent can be very beneficial for your restaurant. It will save you an enormous amount of time because they can do the shopping around for you. This can also help you get better coverage at a better price because the person doing the shopping around is an experienced insurance professional. This tactic can help you immensely the next time you are looking to purchase workers compensation insurance for restaurants.

Make safety a priority

As the owner of the business, the key benchmarks of the business start with you. If you put an emphasis on safety and talk about it a lot, the more likely that focus will foster throughout management and the staff of your restaurant. Restaurants tend to have a higher amount of insurance claims, both in terms of frequency and severity. The main reason for this is because of the amount of contact employees have with the public and the amount of time employees are physically on their feet. Because of these facts, making safety a priority is important to the long term health of your restaurant business.

Adequate signage

Slips, trips, and falls are common. Make it standard operating procedure for your employees to make sure tripping hazards are well-marked throughout your facility. This can make a huge difference in the frequency of injuries both your employees and patrons experience.

Chose Pay as You Go

Many restaurants are cash-strapped because of the seasonal nature of the restaurant industries. Certain times of year tend to be slower than the busy periods. Especially if you operate in an area that depends on tourists for a majority of your clientele. The Pay as You Go Option can help your business by allowing you to pay your premium monthly based on the real-time payroll from the previous month. This can help you get through the slow times much easier.

5 Benefits of Pay as You Go Workers Compensation

Lowers Up-Front Costs

When businesses choose the Pay as You Go Method for Workers Compensation Coverage, it allows them to get coverage in place at a drastically lower amount than with a traditional policy. This is because with a traditional policy, a large payment is required up front just to get coverage in place. This amount is usually one third of the total policy. Depending upon the size of your business, this payment can be substantial. The rest of the premium is paid in monthly payments over the last nine months of the term. For a Pay as You Go Policy, the amount to get coverage in place is commonly as little as a few hundred dollars. The is an enormous benefit of Pay as You Go Workers Compensation.

Frees up Cash

Another great benefit of Pay as You Go Workers Compensation is less up front cost to get coverage in place.  This lower fee frees up cash for your business that can be used on other more urgent business matters. Also, the fact that payments are made in real-time reduces the likelihood of over or underpaying premium throughout the year. This means during your end of year audit, you are much less likely to owe additional premium. That is additional cash that can again be used on other business needs.

Increases Payment Accuracy

Accuracy is crucial to the success of any business. This is especially true in relation to your insurance payments. For many businesses, commercial insurance is one of if not their largest business expense. Pay as You Go Workers Compensation allows a business to partner with a payroll company to pay their insurance premium each month based upon the actual hours their employees worked the previous month. This benefit of Pay as You Go prevents the business from overpaying or underpaying throughout the year and having a surprise  during the end of term audit.

Reduces Mid-Term Audits

Not only does Pay as You Go Billing allow businesses to more accurately pay what they owe each month, free up cash, and lower up-front costs; it also reduces the likelihood of a mid-term audit. These audits can be timely for your business and can take several employees away from their day-today tasks. Because the payments are done in real time and are more accurate, they reduce the need for mid-term audits and shorten the amount of time needed for an end of term audit.

Allows the Business to Budget more effectively

Because the insurance premiums are paid in real-time based upon the previous months payroll and not on an estimate of last years payroll, Pay as You Go Workers Compensation allows businesses to more accurately budget other business needs. This is because payrolls fluctuate from year to year and with a traditional workers comp policy the premium is an estimate based upon the previous years payroll.  Many businesses have payrolls that fluctuate from year to year and even month to month, based upon a lot of factors. If your business is one of these, the Pay as You Go Option may be ideal for your business to get your budgeting as accurate as possible.

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation

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Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation Insurance is designed to allow business owner’s to pay their insurance premium’s monthly instead of in one lump sum. In many cases this can help business owner’s free up cash their business so desperately needs for other more urgent expenses. If you are a business owner who is cash-strapped or you manage a business that is seasonal, a Pay as You Go Option may be just what your business needs.

Pay as You Go

How is Pay as You Go different?

With a traditional Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy, employers have to estimate their annual payroll and pay 25% of that total for a workers comp deposit. This is typically followed by 3 – 6 monthly installments to the insurance company in order to make up the difference of the premium. If you are a small employer in a less risky class code like clerical, office or a small retail business; your cash-flow may not be impacted by this payment all that much.  If you are in a more risky classification code or your payroll is large, than this 25% payment can be significant. It can cause your cash-flow to be tied up in insurance premium instead of on more immediate business needs like inventory.

How does Pay as You Go Benefit a Business? 

Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation benefits employers in three main ways:

  1. It allows businesses to pay their premium monthly instead of in one large payment.
  2. It can free up cash flow for more immediate business needs.
  3. It may prevent mid-term audits because both payroll and premiums are calculated monthly instead of yearly.
Monthly Payments

Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage benefits businesses by allowing them to pay premium monthly based on payroll instead of having to pay a 25% up front payment based on premium. In many cases, this is a great option for seasonal businesses like construction, farming or landscaping. These industries sometimes have a hard time forecasting payroll because of the weather and many other factors. If your business deals with these types of issues than Pay Go may be a great option for you and your business.

Frees up Cash

Another benefit of Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation Insurance is that it frees up cash flow for more immediate business needs. With a traditional Workers Comp policy typically twenty five percent of the premium is due all at once. This is an estimate of your payroll and may be significantly different than your current payroll. This can cause your initial payment to be more or less than what it should be. Now this typically gets ironed out during the end of term payroll, but it still causes your business to either over pay or under pay your premium on the front end.

Prevents Audits

Business owner’s benefit from Pay Go Workers’ Compensation Coverage because it can  prevent audits from happening more frequently than are necessary. An end of term audit still happens, but Pay Go prevents audits from happening mid-term.  With the monthly payment format there is less risk of over or underpaying the premium.

Winter Driving Safety Tips

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Every Winter when temperatures dip and snow and ice begin to come down, businesses are forced to make hard decisions about when and how they will have their employees operating motor vehicles.  In some parts of the country, not driving in icy conditions is simply not an option. Unless the business can deal with minimal operations for an extended portion of the Winter. For that reason, it is extremely important to prepare your staff to deal with the risks your business faces out on the roads.  Here are several tips to help you get to where your going safe and sound.

 

Adequately Maintain your Vehicles

Proper maintenance should be done to all vehicles in the fall before the temperatures drop. Having a mechanic on staff or a dependable mechanic that you trust is important. This mechanic should be able to help you determine how much anti-freeze your vehicles need for the conditions you face in your area, whether you need to switch to winter tires and if you need to keep chains available for the vehicles you use.

Have a few staff members monitoring the Weather

Keeping an eye on the weather forecast is important during the Winter Months.  It is important to have more than one employee who is responsible for monitoring the conditions and for them to know what conditions are simply too treacherous for your staff to be out in their vehicles. It is important to have more than one employee responsible for this activity because employees call in sick, go on vacation and leave your organization. it is important not to be stuck in a situation where you are not available and the staff does not know who is in charge of monitoring the conditions.

Drive Slowly

The only way to drive safely on ice is to go slow. Having four wheel drive vehicles may help your staff get out of a ditch after they have run off the road, but it will not prevent slipping on ice. Driving slowly and giving yourself plenty of distance is always the best way to drive when you are dealing with snow and ice.

Procedures for when an Employee is Stuck

When an employee is stuck somewhere for some reason, it is beneficial for them to have a Winter Safety Kit in the vehicle with them. Many sporting goods stores have most of the supplies you may need to keep handy. An emergency sleeping bag or at least a blanket should be available. Some snacks and bottled water are a good idea as well. A shovel, an ice scraper and other tools may be beneficial to help get them out of many situations.

Stay Home

The best way to prevent having to use any of these tips is to stay off the roads and do not drive unless you absolutely have to.

 

 

 

 

Snow Removal

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Ensuring Adequate Insurance Coverage for Your Snow Removal Business

The Snow Removal Businesses have a certain amount of risk associated with the nature of the business.  The risks are unique to both the health and safety of your employees, the maintenance of your equipment, as well as the risks the business faces towards outside third parties.  Because of those unique risks, it is especially important for snow removal business owners to speak long and honestly with their insurance agent about the activities the business does and does not partake in on a daily basis.

Tractor being used as a part of a snow removal business.

Here are four insurance policies that are essential to protect your business if you are working in the snow removal industry

1. General Liability

General liability Insurance is a type of coverage that will protect your business from the liability it faces to third parties you and your employees come in contact with. It will cover both bodily injury and property damage that occurs because of the actions of your organization.

2. Workers’ Compensation

Depending upon which state you operate in, the classification your business is place in and the number of employees you have; a snow removal business is more than likely required by law to carry workers’ compensation coverage.  A workers comp policy is commonly referred to as the ‘Exclusive Remedy’ because it covers your employees for injuries that occur on the job while giving the business owner the confidence to know they cannot be sued for injuries that occur as a part of normal business operations.  Because of the nature of the work in the snow removal business, employee s are exposed to extremely cold temperatures every time they are working for the business.  For this reason, it is important to secure work comp coverage regardless of whether it is required in your state or not.  It can be the ‘exclusive remedy’ that can protect business while providing proper care for your injured employees.

3. Commercial Auto / Hired and Non-Owned Auto

Commercial Auto Insurance is needed for businesses who own vehicles to operate the snow removal process for the business. If your business uses leased vehicles or you have contractors and employees who use their own vehicles, you will need to obtain a separate policy called Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance.  Hired and non-owned auto coverage will cover the liability your business faces to the damage of other vehicles or the property of third parties.  The damage that is caused to your employee’s personal vehicle will be covered by your employee’s personal auto policy.

4. Inland Marine

A Commercial Auto Policy will cover the vehicle your employee is operating, but it will not cover the trailer or any equipment being transported on the trailer. Inland Marine Coverage will protect all of your specialized equipment while it is in transit on a trailer or in use off premise.  Taking some additional time to speak with your agent and to do an adequate inventory of your equipment can go a long way towards properly insuring all of your businesses equipment.

 

Construction

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Workers Compensation Concerns for Construction Businesses

In the Construction Industry there are many risks your business faces in relation to the health and well-being of your employees. Carpenters typically perform construction work on both the interior and exterior of properties. Now the exposures vary depending upon the size and nature of the job. Injuries due to cutting, sawing and hammering can be frequent and severe. For this reason, it is extremely important for a Construction Business Owner to partner with an experienced independent insurance agent with whom they trust. It is equally important to have an extended conversation about exactly what it is your employees do and do not do on a daily basis.

Construction Hammer and Nails lying on the floor.

There are many types of common injuries employees experience in the construction industry.  Electrical burns can occur while installing electrical work. The potential injury due to falls from heights is higher than in other industries. If you do or do not work on roofs, than you need to tell your agent. Remember, the agent is in the business of analyzing risk. If you do not tell them exactly what you do or do not do, it is in their best interest to always assume more risk. This can cause your business to pay additional premium for workers compensation coverage. Now this mistake usually gets cleared up at the end of term audit, but regardless of whether you under or over paid for coverage, it can negatively impact your business. In a worst case scenario it can cause your business to have a claim not be covered by your carrier. For this reason, it cannot be stressed enough to take an appropriate amount of time to make sure your agent is placing your business properly for the activities your business partakes in.

 Constrution workers, working outdoors.

Additional Insurance Programs for a Construction Company

  • General Liability
  • Property Insurance
  • Commercial Auto

General Liability for Construction Businesses

In relation to General Liability Coverage, job-site exposures vary based on the work being done, whether the work is underground or at heights, and whether it is inside or outside.  Careful attention must be paid to the type of brick as well as to the mix of the mortar being used ont he project. Strict process need to be in place to ensure all specifications are followed and changes are only made with proper permission. .

Construction Property Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance Exposures may occur both at the carpenter’s own location and out on the job site. These can include an office where there is storage of materials, equipment and vehicles. If the carpentry business owns the building then commercial property insurance should be purchased. Business personal property can also be covered for furniture and other assets that stay at the primary location.

Commercial Auto for Construction

In the construction industry, Commercial Automobile Insurance Exposures are generally limited to transporting workers, equipment and supplies to and from the job site.  There is a definite need to monitor driving records of all employees who will be operating a company owned vehicle. You also need to be mindful of the age of the vehicle as well as the condition and maintenance of all vehicles used by employees.

 

Restaurant Workers Compensation Insurance

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Common Workers Comp Risks Faced by a Restaurant

The Restaurant Industry is a service based industry and there is an extreme amount of contact with the public. Most businesses that operate in a service based industry tend to have a larger amount of injuries to their employees, but those injuries tend to be less severe in nature. For instance, businesses like construction, roofing or floor installation have less claims, but those claims tend to be more severe because of the nature of the work. Because of the amount of contact directly with the public, employees are exposed to a large amount of risks that can cause an increase in workers compensation claims. Luckily those incidents tend to be less severe in nature, but the need to address these risks is high for business owners and managers in the restaurant industry.

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Restaurant Workers Compensation Coverage

Workers Compensations Liability, like in many industries, primarily results from slips, trips, and falls. These incidents typically result as a result of frequent interactions with customers. Cuts and burns happen with an elevated amount of frequency for kitchen staff. There are also extensive risks relating to back injuries that occur as a result of awkward lifting. Extensive training related to safety procedures is a must to keep incidents to a minimum and the rate of workers compensation insurance premium low. Having a well-documented safety program that includes a detailed return to work program can help immensely if your restaurant has a severe injury to an employee or if you have several claims during a particular term. In an industry that works with the public as much as the restaurant industry does, there are going to be accidents and injuries. When those incidents occur, if you have these safety programs in place and they are documented, your agent can show your insurance carrier that the incidents are more of an outlier and not indicitive of how your business will perform in the future. This can prevent or at least limit the amount your premium will rise after a term when you have a severe or several claims.

Because employees in most restaurants are low-wage earners, staff turnover is often high. Well-trained employees with an incentive to do their best have the fewest accidents. These employees have even fewer accidents when they receive clear direction from management. There are many ways to develop incentives to get your employees involved in a  safe work culture.  Company incentives to encourage long-term employment are positive signs of good management and a focus on employee retention can help you save when purchasing commercial insurance.

Birds Eye View of a Restaurant

 

Common Restaurant Workers Compensation Class Codes:

  • 9082: Restaurants
  • 9083: Restaurants—Fast Food Service
  • 9084: Bar, Pub, Tavern and Nightclub

 

Key Terms for Workers Compensation Insurance

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7 terms to familiarize yourself with when purchasing Workers Compensation Insurance

Insurance is like many industries, there is a lot of industry jargon. This jargon is hard to understand, even for people who are experienced business owners or even some people who work in the insurance industry. Here are 10 terms that a business owner should familiarize themselves with before renewing any commercial insurance policy. Especially before purchasing or renewing your workers compensation insurance coverage. Here is a list of 10 terms you might will more than likely hear as you talk with your workers compensation insurance agent.

 

Average Weekly Wage (AWW)

The Average Weekly Wage is a term that is used to determine an employee’s rate of temporary, total, partial disability or permanent total disability. It is usually determined by dividing the employee’s total wages for the previous year by 52. This will be important to have an accurate number and not an estimate. The policy will be audited at the end of the term and the more accurate your numbers are on the front end, the less likely you are to have to pay additional premium at the end of the term.

Date of Injury (DOI)

If the injured employee was hurt as the result of one individual event, the date of injury is the specific date the injury occurred. If the injury was caused by repeated exposures, what most would consider a cumulative injury, this is the date that the worker knew of should have known that the injury was caused by work.

First Report of Injury (FROI) 

Following an on-the-job injury, employers are usually required to file a first report of injury form.  This form should be filed with the proper state administrative agency who oversees workers compensation insurance.

Return to Work (RTW)

Return to work is a part of a businesses safety program that incorporates the injured worker in the business activities even before they are able to return to full time permanent work. This is important because humans are creatures of habit and the longer they stay off the job, the more likely they are to never return to full time employment. When this occurs claims can get out of control and negatively impact your loss ratio. A businesses loss ratio is one of the main factors carriers use to determine how much to charge a business for workers compensation premium.

Loss Ratio

The relationship of incurred losses compared to the earned premiums expressed as a percentage. If, for example, a firm pays $100,000 of premium for workers compensation insurance in a given year, and its insurer pays and reserves $50,000 in claims, the firm’s loss ratio is 50 percent ($50,000 incurred losses/$100,000 earned premiums).

 

NCCI

NCCI stands for the National Council for Compensation Insurance. According to their website the mission of NCCI is, ‘To gather data, analyze industry trends, and provide objective insurance rate and loss cost recommendations’. NCCI is currently used by 35 out of 50 states to determine workers compensation premium rates.

Pay as You Go

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance is designed to allow business owner’s to get coverage in place for less up front costs and pay premium each month based on payroll. With a traditional Workers Comp policy typically twenty five percent of the premium is due all at once. This is the minimum a business can pay to get coverage in place. The rest of the premium is usually paid in nine monthly payments. With the pay as you go option businesses can get coverage in place for as little as a few hundred dollars.  Additionally, business owner’s benefit from Pay Go Workers’ Compensation Coverage because it prevents audits from happening more frequently. An end of term audit still happens, but Pay Go prevents audits from happening more frequently and makes the difference owed much smaller. With the monthly payment format there is less risk of over or underpaying the premium.