Toolbox Talks

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What are Toolbox Talks and how can they benefit a Small Business

The water cooler is a place that co-workers have often spent time each day talking with each other about what is going on within the business, the community, and their personal lives. Toolbox talks are a way to extend these conversations in to the safety programs of many types of businesses. Primarily toolbox talks take place in the construction industry. Most businesses meet for a moment each day in the morning before heading out to their daily tasks. This is a great time to implement informal safety meetings that can help your business save in many different ways.

Toolbox, Tools, Carrier, Case, Red

Why should a business implement Toolbox Talks?

A business should implement Toolbox Talks because, if implemented correctly, these talks can limit the frequency and severity of workplace injuries. One primary way a business can save from implementing toolbox talks is by experiencing less injuries by employees on the job. Experiencing less workplace injuries increases productivity and keeps insurance rates as low as possible (especially workers compensation insurance rates). This is because the experience modification rating is the main factor insurance carriers use to determine what to charge a business for workers compensation insurance. The main controllable factor a business has over this rating is the loss report. The frequency and severity of workers compensation insurance claims is the main controllable factor in this rating. Implementing toolbox talks can go a long way towards limiting injuries and keeping the experience modification rating low.

Tool, Wrench, Toolbox, Repair, Work

How to implement Tool Box Talks?

Informal Toolbox Talks are great opportunities for a business owner and key employees to prevent cutting corners, to talk about safety procedures, to remind employees about policies and procedures, to show employees how to use required safety equipment, and what the expectations are regarding safety. These meetings do not have to be long, but they do need to be intentional and well-planned. In addition, these meetings are a good time to get feedback from the employees working on the front line.

Prevent Cutting Corners

If implemented correctly Toolbox Talks can help prevent employees from cutting corners in an attempt to get a job done faster. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden told many of  his teams “Be quick but don’t hurry.” This is a great example of how an employee should look at when it comes to how fast they should work on a daily basis. In an effort to prevent employees from cutting corners, toolbox talks can be used to give example of how an employee should work quick and examples of how an employee should not hurry.

Talk about Safety Procedures

Safety equipment is a prime example of what you can talk about during these meetings. You can spend a week talking about each type of safety equipment and when the employees should use each type of equipment. Proper use of safety equipment can limit repetitive use injuries, as well as more severe accidents.

Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures are crucial to any successful business. This is true when it comes to accounting principles, when it comes to customer service, and it is true when it comes to keeping your staff safe. Having a documented policy about what employees should do in each particular situation, is always the best way to keep everyone safe. This is especially true as a business grows in revenue and the number of employees. Not all situations are able to be planned for in advance, but that is no reason to prepare for what you can.

Required Safety Equipment

Toolbox Talks can be a great opportunity for key employees to talk about safety equipment. Talk about what types of equipment are required, what types of equipment are available, and how to properly use each type of safety equipment. This can help with simple equipment like glasses and belts to help with heavy lifting, but it can also be a time when you talk with all employees about other safety equipment they can benefit from.

Safety Expectations

Toolbox Talks can also be a time when key employees set expectations for safety throughout the organization. IF the leaders of an organization rarely talk about safety, the employees working in the organization will think about safety less. If safety is a regular topic of discussion, it is more likely for the employees of the business to make safety a priority.

 

Toolbox, Tools, Repair, Equipment

It only takes one mistake to result in a severe injury to one or a number of employees. One year when a business has a large claim or a number of small claims, can have impacts on their rate for commercial insurance for years to come. Typically your claims history sticks with the business for three additional years. This time period is what is taken in to consideration when determining a businesses experience modification rating. When this rating gets to a certain level, the insurance carrier deems the business unsafe. When an insurance carrier thinks a business is not safe, it will result in higher premium. In extreme cases, it can make it more difficult for a business to get coverage in the first place. Toolbox Talks can help to prevent this injuries in the first place and these talks can help your business in a number of ways.

Some accidents are avoidable. Some are not. If a business stays active long enough, workplace injuries are going to occur. Carriers look into the claims history of a business when they are looking into offering coverage to a business, what to charge for that coverage, and if they are going to offer credits or debits to entice the business to partner with the carrier. A well-documented safety program is one aspect that can help a business gain additional credits and debits. Regular Toolbox Talks can show an underwriter that the business is taking the steps necessary to limit the frequency and severity of claims.

When planning what topics employees will talk about during toolbox talks, it may be hard to find interesting topics on a regular basis. When leaders have a hard time coming up with topics, it may be a good time to check in with both the insurance agent and insurance carrier of the business. Most carriers have material in place to help businesses implement safety procedures.

Carriers want to insure businesses that file few if any claims. They are after all in the business of mitigating risk. They want to partner with business who share an emphasis on safety and limiting claims.

Example of a Toolbox Talk:

  • Focus on only one subject for each talk.
  • Choose a topic that is industry or department specific.
  • Be specific and limit vague statements.
  • Give concrete examples from incidents from the businesses past.
  • Leave time for comments and questions.

 

Masonry

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Workers Compensation Concerns for Masonry Businesses

Masonry is a tough industry. The work is physical and takes a unique set of skills to excel. For this reason it is hard to find reliable employees who can take on all of the demands working in this industry presents. With these demands comes an elevated amount of risk. These risks are especially high in relation to workplace safety and workers compensation claims. Here are two aspects masonry business owners should be concerned about and four policies in addition to workers comp all Masonry Businesses should consider.

Wall, Old, Banner, Web Header, Mortar, Masonry

Masonry Workplace Safety Concerns

Working in the masonry business is physical. Masons spend a lot of their time bent over and dealing with weight, and working with their hands. All brings unique risks that need to be prepared for by leadership of any business. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is the first step to keeping your staff safe. Employees who are physically fit are less likely to injure themselves. Encouraging the use of adequate safety equipment is important. Back braces may be necessary for some employees, especially when they are recovering from an injury. Training new employees in the proper use of all tools is essential to limiting injuries.

Masonry Workers Compensation Concerns

Masonry businesses tend to have an elevated level of workers compensation claims and conversely businesses in this industry have higher rates for premium. There are some things a business owner can do to limit what the business pays for workers compensation coverage. First is to control the Experience Modification Rating. The Experience Modifier is the main aspect of a business that an underwriter uses to determine whether to offer coverage to a business and how much to charge for that coverage. There are recommended minimums that are required by each state, but depending upon the claims history, the revenue of the business, and the number of employees; the rate of premium for a business may be substantially higher.

The main thing a business can do to keep this rating low is to limit injured employees and limit the severity of the injuries you do have. If a business stays around long enough, eventually they are going to experience an injured employee. Focusing on workplace safety can help limit the number of injuries and result in less severe injuries. The focus on workplace safety must start at the top. If the leader of a business cares about safety and they communicate those concerns frequently, the message is more likely to stick with employees throughout the business.

Masonry Business installing bricks.

4 Additional Policies all Masonry Businesses should consider

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Inland Marine Coverage
  • Property Insurance
  • Hired and Non-Owned Auto (full commercial auto if vehicles owned)

General Liability Insurance

General Liability Insurance is the first line of defense. It is required by law for most businesses in most states and it is a requirement for most contracts a masonry business enters in to. It covers the liability the business faces to outside third parties, not employees. It is important to remember it is not all-encompassing. Even though it is the bare bones minimum required coverage, in most circumstances this coverage is not enough for most businesses.

Inland Marine Coverage

Inland Marine Insurance is designed for business that have specialized equipment that is frequently in transit. Because of the remote nature of the Masonry Industry, most equipment is either transported to or stored at a third party location. Inland Marine Insurance covers this specialized equipment while it is off property.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance is different from home owners insurance. Commercial property can be purchased for a facility whether the business owns or rents the property. It covers damages to the structure of the building and most things attached to the walls, like cabinets and some desks. Each policy has it own specifics and conclusions, so it is important to understand what you are purchasing long before you have a claim.

Hired and Non-Owned Auto

Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance is designed for when a business has employees who operate leased vehicles or use their personal vehicles for business purposes. When an employee causes a wreck while on the job, the liability for damages to the other cars involved in the accident is the liability of the business (not the employee). The employees personal auto insurance policy will cover the damages to the individuals car, but not the liability to other people injured in the accident. A commercial auto policy will pay for property damage and bodily injury claims up to the limits of the policy.

Uneven Masonry Work: Wall, Stone Wall, Stone, Old, Texture

Other coverages to consider for Masonry Construction:
Contractors’ Equipment (Inland Marine Coverage), General Liability, Umbrella Liability, Automobile Liability and Physical Damage, Building, Business Income with Extra Expense, Builders Risk, Goods in Transit and Installation Floater.

Common NCCI Workers Compensation Class Codes:

  • 5022: Mason Contractors and Masonry Construction
  • 5222: Concrete Construction—Bridges and Culverts

Workers Compensation Audit

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Here is how to best prepare for your businesses for a workers compensation audit.

At the end of each insurance term, a workers compensation audit takes place for all businesses. For most businesses this is a straight forward process. Depending upon the size and scope of a business, the audit can be difficult. The first step to a smooth process is during the actual purchasing of insurance a year prior. Taking an adequate amount of time to talk with your agent about the intricacies of the business is always the best way to start the insurance term off on good footing. Partnering with an independent insurance agent can make this process a bit smoother because they act as a true middleman and not a representative of the insurance carrier. They can tell you what the pros and cons of each carrier are. This can help throughout the year and especially during the audit process. Here are five ways to ensure this process goes off with out any hitches.

Man in a suit pointing straight forward with the word audit in big white letters.

Communicate with your agent

Establishing open communication lines with your insurance agent is always a good idea. You do not have to talk to them frequently. When you are purchasing coverage, filing a claim, changing something regarding your policies, or preparing for an audit; it is a good time to not rush through the conversation. Taking an adequate amount of time to notify your agent of any situation relating to your business (especially changes to the business that might impact your insurance policies) is the best way to operate. It may be helpful to set expectations when you purchase insurance. Ask your agent about their preferred method of communication and the time period you can expect them to get back to you within. The more proactive you are in communicating with everyone involved in the insurance process the better.

Have paperwork in order

Having all necessary paperwork ready to go in advance of an audit will make the process move much more smooth. Your agent should be able to help you prepare for this process. Most carriers have a list of documents that will be needed for an end of term audit. Some common things needed are payroll records, accurate job descriptions, and the hours worked for each employee need to be prepared in hourly, weekly, and yearly numbers. The more detail the better.

Payment and Disbursement Records

Accurate records of all payments made to the carrier and any disbursements made back to the business need to be included in the audit. Not having these numbers available gives an auditor a reason to dig deeper into other aspects of your business. It is always the best policy to be open, honest, and organized from the beginning of the audit.

Certificates of Insurance

It is equally important to have a detailed list of all certificates of insurance issued and all of the subcontractors and general contractors involved. The main reason for providing documentation of certificates is to make sure these contractors are not listed as employees. Some states consider some types of contractors to be employees unless otherwise stated. This can drastically impact premium payments.

Experience Modification Worksheet

The experience modification worksheet is a document published yearly with the state governing body within the state a business operates. This worksheet includes the loss history for your business during the past three insurance terms not including the most recent term. The current term is not included because some claims may not be closed from the past year. If the business has had a large number of claims or a large amount of small claims this worksheet will show the true loss history. This can help the carrier determine how much of a risk your business actually is.

Lady wearing a business suit with a clip board staring at a financial statement during an audit.

An quick and accurate workers compensation audit is always in the best interest of a business. The auditing process can be extremely frustrating without preparation, but like many things in life it is better to do things right the first time. This is never more true then during a workers compensation audit. Setting up your insurance relationships in the first place and monitoring them throughout the year, can save a lot of heartache during the auditing process.

 

6 Industries with Unique Workers Comp Risks

Janitorial Services, Electricians, Lawncare, Restaurants, Trucking and Floor Installation are Businesses with Unique Workers Comp Risks

Unique Workers Comp Risks Can be difficult for a small business to prepare. In most states, Workers Compensation Insurance is required by law for most businesses. Each state has some exceptions that allow some businesses to go without coverage if they meet certain criteria. Even when a business meets this criteria, many times it is still a good idea to secure some form of workers compensation insurance. Each industry has their own unique issues when it comes to maneuvering through the workers compensation system. Proper on-boarding of all staff, focus on ergonomics in the workplace, a well-documented safety program, and an effective return-to-work program all impact what a business pays for workers compensation premium. Here are six industries that have very unique risks associated with workers compensation.

Janitorial Services Companies

Janitorial Services work both in commercial establishments and in private residencies. If the employees of the janitorial services company are W-2 employees, workers compensation coverage is required by law in most states. Some states have exclusions depending upon the revenue of the business and the number of employees, but securing coverage is still a wise decision in most cases. If the business uses independent contractors to get the cleaning accomplished, in some states those are still recognized as employees. This means the requirement to secure coverage is still law. An independent insurance agent can can help you determine if you are required to carry coverage or not. In order to keep claims low and minimize the amount a business pays for premium, it is important to have adequate safety protocols in place. workers should know what chemicals they are working with and how to safely use them.

Electricians

Electricians are an industry where many within the profession are independent contractors. Depending upon the state the electrical contractor or the business is operating in, workers comp may or may not be required. In most instances, it is smart to go ahead and secure a policy. If you contractor is a small business owner and they are the only employee within the business, a ghost policy may meet the requirements for coverage that many business will require in order to enter into a contract.

Lawncare and Landscaping Companies

A Lawncare or Landscaping Company has extremely high turnover. Because of this trend, workers compensation claims tend to be higher in this industry than in other industries. Because of the elevated amount of claims and especially because of the driving risk attached to most landscaping companies, Workers Compensation Premium is elevated. Focusing on developing a safety program and documenting all aspects of the program can help a business keep premium low. Documentation can also prevent premium from increasing too much after a year in which a business experiences more claims or one severe claim.

Restaurant Industry

The Restaurant Industry is another industry that frequently experiences elevated claims rates. The fact that the employees interact directly with the open public frequently creates a risk of cold and flu. There is also an elevated risk of injuries from slips, trips, and falls. Creating a culture within a restaurant where everyone is encouraged to focus on the safety of themselves and their coworkers is essential. Creating light duty work for injured employees can help get injured employees back on the job quicker and limit the damage of a claim.

The Trucking Industry

Trucking Companies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are as small as one employee who is an owner operator. Some businesses have dozens of employees who drive for the business. No matter how big or small the business is, the health and safety of the drivers is paramount. No Trucking Business can be successful without good healthy drivers. Because of the sedentary nature of the job, it is important to encourage healthy lifestyle habits with your staff. Taking adequate breaks, Getting enough sleep, and taking some time to get some form of exercise are essential to the health and well-being of the staff at a Trucking Company.

Floor Installation

Floor Installation Companies install carpet, hardwood, or any other type of flooring to both new homes and existing properties. They can do installations for commercial as well as residential properties. Employees tend to work on the ground and this can cause a lot of back injuries. Providing employees with appropriate safety equipment can go a long way towards limiting the number of insurance claims filed because of an injured employee.

 

 

5 Industries that benefit from Pay as You Go Workers Compensation

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance can help businesses save on premium and prevent gaps in coverage 

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance is a way for seasonal and cash strapped businesses to pay Workers Compensation Insurance Premium in real time. With a Pay as You Go Policy, the premium is based upon the previous months actual payroll. A traditional workers compensation insurance policy bases the monthly premium on an average of the previous year or the previous few years payroll numbers. Depending upon the age of your business or the industry the business operates within, this number can be dramatically different from year to year. The differences get ironed out during the post term audit and the result is either a credit to the business or additional premium owed. Either way this adds an unexpected aspect to the businesses costs. A Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance Policy eliminates this uncertainty by allowing the business to pay their premium each month based on the accurate, real time revenue numbers of the business. Here are five different businesses that could benefit from this type of insurance policy.

Commercial Cleaning

A Commercial Cleaning Company can benefit from a pay as you go workers compensation policy because of the uneven payroll from year to year. Depending upon the health of the economy, businesses may change their service from year to year. As the economy goes, more businesses decide to move cleaning in house or cut back on the frequency of cleaning. When the economy is better, more businesses decide to take on the services of commercial cleaning businesses. Because of all these differences, payroll can be dramatically different from year to year. With a traditional Workers Comp Policy, monthly premium is determined by the average payroll over the course of the past 3 periods. An audit is conducted at the end of the term to determine if there is a refund or if more premium is owed. Pay as You Go allows the business to pay premium in real time based upon the previous months payroll. This prevents cash flow from being tied up in premium unnecessarily and it can prevent a business from having a surprise at the end of the term where it owes additional premium.

Bed and Breakfast

A Bed and Breakfast Business in most areas of the country is extremely seasonal. If the business is located near a ski resort, the busy season is predominantly in the Winter Months. If the Bed and Breakfast is located near a lake, the business takes place predominantly in the Summer Months. No matter the location of the business, there are more than likely times of year when the business is busy and other times of the year when business is slow. A Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance Policy will allow the business to pay more for the insurance premium during the months of the year when there is more business and likely more cash flow. This type of policy will also let the business pay less for premium during the months when business is slow.

Retail

A Retail Store can benefit from a Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Policy for many of the same reasons as a Bed and Breakfast and a Commercial Cleaning Company. Business can be drastically different throughout the year and from year to year. Because a Pay as You Go Policy allows businesses to pay premium in real time, the business can budget much more effectively. This also allows the retail business to free up cash that can be used on much more immediate business needs.

Landscaping

A business that operates within the Lawncare and Landscaping industry is heavily dependent upon the weather. When heavy rainfall causes your business to be closed for extended amounts of time, this can effect payroll dramatically. It also can impact revenue. Both of these factor in to what a business pays for workers compensation premium. The ability to pay premium based upon the previous months actual payroll numbers increases the accuracy of insurance premium.

Food Trucks

In recent years, Food Trucks have become a booming business. Some run year round. Depending upon where the business is located, they are only able to be up and operating a certain part of the year. When this occurs, it means the business may have to go extended periods of time with little to no revenue coming in. With a traditional workers comp policy, this can be difficult to plan for. If a food truck business goes with a Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Policy, it allows the business to pay more premium during the busier months when there is more cash on hand, and pay less during the leaner months.

Workplace Safety

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Why Workplace Safety is so Important for Small Business

When a worker is injured at work, it costs the company money. It costs the company money in the form of lost work hours, reduced productivity, decreased employee morale, increased insurance rates, and even possible litigation. Productivity is lost when other workers have to stop work to deal with the injury and the other employees have to pick up the slack while the injured employee is not able to work. Workplace Safety is a important for any small business for a number of reasons. At the top of the list should be the health and well-being of the staff. When employees are safe and healthy they are happier and more productive employees. Here are three reasons to focus on creating a safe workplace and three tips to create an effective workplace safety program.

Construction Workers wearing a hardhat, holding a measuring device and documenting a companies workplace safety program.

Why should a Small Business create a Workplace Safety Program

Focusing on Safety Creates Loyal Workers 

Small businesses most valuable asset is always the people they employee. Businesses that take care of their employees the best have employees who best take care of the companies customers. Attrition and absenteeism can be extremely costly for a small business. Focusing on workplace safety can reduce employee turnover by creating a workforce that is healthy and happy. When employees are happy, they are much more likely to stick around.

Reduce Workplace Stress

Making workplace safety a focus of a small business will lead to a less stressful work environment. Some stresses are not able to be eliminated. Working out in the elements, being on your feet for long hours, or working with heavy equipment are necessary aspects of some businesses. The environment within which these employees deal with these issues determines how much stress those employees ultimately take on. Employees that are under less stress, are more productive employees. Taking regularly breaks and having regular talks about safety topics can go a long way toward keeping your staff fit for the job.

Less Absenteeism

Workers want to operate in a safe environment. Absenteeism increases when employees are under undo stress. When an employee does not feel safe, they are much more likely to not come in to work more often then when they work in an environment where their care and well-being is valued. Absenteeism has been shown to drop when effective safety programs are implemented in to the workplace.

White and Blue background with the word Safety in multiple colors.

How to create a safe work environment?

Extensive Workplace Safety Training

When a business has employees who need to use dangerous tools and equipment in order to do their job, it is important to take an adequate amount of time to properly train those employees how to use the equipment in a safe manner. Lack of training can lead to employees taking shortcuts or not using the equipment in the manner it was designed to be used. This can lead to enormous risk for your business. It is always best to have employees use the correct tools, to maintain those tools properly, and to have adequate supervision when dangerous equipment is in use.

Focus on Ergonomics

Ergonomics is a hot term in the workplace safety world. This is because more industries are requiring employees to have a sedentary lifestyle. Working in front of a computer is not what humans are designed to do. When people are sitting with bad posture and in a workstation that is not conducive to comfort, repetitive use injuries are more likely to develop. Ergonomics and posture are important for small businesses to focus on regardless of whether the business has employees who sit at a desk for eight hours a day , employees lift heavy material as a normal part of their workday, or the employees operate a loading dock with thousands of pounds being loaded and unloaded regularly. A strong focus on ergonomics should be a part of any workplace safety program.

Create a Workplace Safety Committee

The best way to develop a business culture that values workplace safety is to get the employees involved at all levels of the organization. Creating a safety committee is a way to get all levels of the organization to be thinking about and contributing to a culture of safety. the safety committee should have at least one employee from each department within the organization and should meet on a semi regular basis. The meetings do not need to be exhaustive or time consuming, but they should be regular and routine.

Yellow and Black road sign that reads Safety First.

How Should a Business Best Deal with an Injury in the Workplace

4 Time Periods To Prepare For Before An Organization Experiences An Injury At Work

If a business stays in business long enough, the business is going to experience an injured employee at some time. How a business prepares for and reacts to an injury on the job, goes a long way towards the long term success of the business. Preventing injuries will result in less insurance claims and the claims that are processed will be less severe. When a business is well prepared to deal with an injured worker, the injured worker will be cared for quickly. This will get the injured employee the benefits they deserve quickly and back on the job in a timely manner. This will keep the severity of the claims under control and positively impact the businesses experience modification rating. Finally, businesses that are prepared to get an injured employee back to work in a limited capacity will benefit from happier employees and lower rates for workers compensation insurance now and in the future. Here are four time periods to prepare your business for when it inevitably has to deal with an injured employee.

Co Worker carrying another employee after an injury at work.

Pre Claim

Before an injury occurs to an employee, the best thing an organization can do is put in place a system to prevent injuries and prepare for how to deal with them when they do occur. Creating a safety committee is a great way to get multiple key employees involved in developing a culture of safety within an organization. This committee can develop an incident response plan, an incident report form, a safety plan, and even a return to work program.

Day of the Injury

First and foremost, it is always most important to take care of the injured employee. Taking care of the health of any employee should always be of utmost importance to any business. Keeping someone on staff that is trained in first aid and CPR may be helpful. If you do have trained employees the manager on duty should use those skills to adequately take care of the injured employee until medical personnel arrive or the employee can drive to the medical facility themselves. Assessing the scene is crucial. If the business is open to the public, it is important to keep customers away from the injured employee. If the business operates in an office setting, it may be a good idea to keep other employees away from the area of the injured employee. Remember, the other employees in the organization are watching the way you treat an injured employee. How business leadership treats an injured employee speaks volumes to all employees throughout the organization.

Week after the Injury

In the week after an injury, or the week after the injury is reported to management, it is important to have open communication with the employee about the workers compensation process. Do not expect the employee to know how to maneuver the workers compensation system. Some medical facilities may know how to process workers compensation claims and others may not. Going to the proper facility can speed up the time to get claims paid. It can also speed up the amount of time before the injured employee gets their benefits. Explaining this to them can ensure this process runs smoothly. Keeping the employee happy from the beginning can help the process move smoothly throughout.

Month after the injury

Eventually the employee will be ready to return to the job. Creating a return to work program can get injured employees back on the job quicker. The quicker an employee gets back on the job, the more likely they are to return to full time permanent employment. Getting an employee back on the job can limit the severity of an insurance claim. This will positively impact the experience modification rating of the business. This rating will impact what the business pays for workers compensation insurance in the future.

 

15 Terms to Know When Renewing Workers Compensation Insurance

Insured

The insured person is the business or entity involved in an insurance relationship that is protected under the policy. The insured can be an individual, a business, or a non-profit organization.

Insurer

The Insurer is a term referring to the insurance carrier who is offering coverage under the policy.

Additional Insured

An additional insured is anyone, other than a policyholder, who is also covered by an insurance policy. This coverage may be limited to a single event or in some instances it lasts the lifetime of the policy.

Carrier

The Insurance Carrier is the company who is providing the protection provided under an insurance policy. Some carriers have only captive agents who offer only their products while others partner with independent insurance agents who sell the products and services of many carriers. The carrier is responsible for processing a claim, not an insurance agency.

Underwriter

The underwriter is the person within the carrier who makes a decision to offer coverage or not, and what to charge for that coverage. They make this decision based upon the policies of the state they are offering coverage in and the appetite of the carrier they work for.

Agency

The agency is the business that helps individuals and businesses decide which types of insurance are best for their situation. The agency acts as a middle man who sells the products and services of a carrier. They do not service the policies when a claim arises. It is a good idea to keep your agent in the loop when a claim arises so they can hold the carrier accountable if they do not live up to their end of the policy terms.

Producer

The term producer, also referred as the agent, is the salesman in charge of finding the proper products and services for both individuals and businesses. The producer is your first point of contact between the insurer and the insured.

Named Insured  

Any person, business or non-profit organization who is specifically named as an insured on the insurance policy. It is important to realize that this is different from entities who are unnamed but may fall within the policy definition of an insured.

Date of Injury (DOI)

The term date of injury refers to the date the injured employee first experienced an injury. If there was an incident, it is the date of the incident, but for long term use injuries this is the date the injury was brought to the attention of the business or organization.

First Report of Injury

The first report of injury is a form a business must fill out during the workers compensation process. This term refers to the date the employee first reports an injury to their superior. This may be the same day as the date of injury, but it also may be at a later date. It is important to develop some type of incident report and require managers to fill them out any time there is

National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI):

NCCI is the term that refers to the National Council on Compensation Insurance. NCCI gathers data, analyzes industry trends, and provides objective insurance rate and loss cost recommendations to the states it partners with. States that use NCCI typically enjoy lower rates on workers compensation insurance premium.

Experience Modification Rating

The experience modification rating is a term that refers to a number used by insurance companies to gauge both the past cost of injuries and the future chances of risk. This rating has a strong impact on whether a business will be offered workers compensation insurance coverage and what the carrier will charge for that coverage.

Loss Ratio

The loss ratio is a ratio of the insurance claims paid by an insurer in relation to the premiums earned from the insured. It is usually calculated over a one-year period.

Hammer Clause

A ‘Hammer Clause‘ is a provision within an insurance policy. The provision gives the insurer the right to settle an insurance claim for an undisclosed amount. If the insured decides not to agree with the settlement they must take on some of the risk involved with moving forward without a settlement. On some policies, the insured takes on all of the risk, but most of the time the amount is either 70/30 or 50/50.

Assigned Risk Provider

The assigned risk provider is commonly referred to as the pool or the state fund. This term applies to a workers compensation system. In the United States, the workers compensation insurance systems are governed by the state and not the federal government. Each state provides for a provider of last resort. This provider of last resort provides workers compensation coverage for businesses that cannot find coverage on the open market. In some instances, the business cannot find coverage because of the industry the business operates. In other circumstances, the business cannot find coverage because of their claims history (the business has a lot or a severe claim on the record). The Assigned Risk Provider offers coverage almost always at a higher rate then the open market. In most states, once you are in the pool you must stay in the pool for 2-3 years.

Swimming Pool Maintenance

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NCCI Class Code 9014 | Swimming Pool Maintenance

NCCI stand for the National Council on Compensation Insurance.  NCCI is the main governing body in most states for workers comp codes. Not every state partners with NCCI for their workers compensation system, but those that do tend to enjoy favorable rates on insurance premium. The classification codes set by NCCI generally include a variety of operations related to what the employees do on a daily basis. Swimming Pool Maintenance Companies are given NCCI Class Code 9014. Other businesses included within this class code are Janitorial Services (both residential and commercial), Chimney Cleaning, Environmental Clean Up, Exterminator, and Carpet Cleaning. Swimming Pool Maintenance Companies are unique businesses that exist within a niche.

Swimming Pool Maintenance Equipment on the side of a pool.

Only a few carriers are willing to quote swimming pool maintenance companies. Because of the specialization of this industry, there are risks that faces these businesses that other industries do not face. When the company adds construction to their list of operations, carriers are much less likely to offer coverage. This is a good reason to partner with an independent insurance agent because an independent agent can give you unbiased advice. They can give unbiased advice because they are not tied to one carrier. This allows them to advise you on the products and services of the entire market instead of just the one carrier a captive agent represents. When you are thinking about expanding your business, it is wise to consult with an insurance professional (like an independent agent) to determine if the expansion creates new risks and if those risks are worth the potential new revenue from the expansion. Regardless of who a business  decides to use as their insurance agent, the knowledge of an experienced insurance professional is extremely valuable. Determining what risks your business faces, how to best protect against those risks, and what level of risk the business owner is comfortable with are all aspects of insurance that should not be taken lightly. When determining how to best insure your swimming pool maintenance business, here are seven types of insurance all Companies should consider.

Swimming Pool Cleaner operating underwater.

General Liability Insurance (GL)

General Liability Insurance covers a swimming pool maintenance business for common property damage and bodily injury to outside third parties. Common slips, trips, and falls are common claims covered by a general liability policy. In some instances, a GL Policy will provide reimbursement for medical costs, funeral expenses, and eve court awarded compensation up to the limits of the policy.

Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation Insurance is a policy that is required by law in nearly every state across the country for nearly every business that employs people. If a swimming pool maintenance company is owned and operated by one person, a ghost insurance policy might be ideal. If the business does have employees, a workers compensation policy needs to be secured. A workers Comp Policy provide injured workers with medical costs and some wage replacements for the time they are hurt and not able to work. The amount of wage replacement is typically 60%. The business benefits from having the peace of mind to know they cannot be sued for injuries that occur as a part of normal business operations.

Commercial Property

Commercial Property Insurance is needed regardless of whether the business owns or rents the facility. A Commercial Property Insurance Policy is sold on a replacement basis or on an agreed upon amount. It is almost always best to secure a replacement basis policy. This is because over time the price to build a structure rises. Also, there may be new ordinances and laws that the new facility has to abide by. In addition, if the property needs to be completely rebuilt instead of repaired, it is expensive to remove all debris before new construction can begin. A replacement level policy will cover these cost up to the limits of the policy.

Business Auto Insurance

A Business Auto Insurance Policy is needed for a swimming pool maintenance business if they own vehicles, but also if the business has employees who use their own personal vehicles for work. Also, some form of insurance is needed if the employees drive leased vehicles. If the business owns the vehicles, a traditional business auto policy will suffice. If the business has employees who use their own vehicles or who use rented vehicles, a hired an non-owned auto policy needs to be added to the suite of coverages a business purchases.

Inland Marine Coverage (Floaters)

Inland Marine Coverage is needed by a swimming pool maintenance business if they have expensive equipment that is frequently transported to third party locations. If the equipment is stored at a third party facility, if the equipment is transported on a trailer, and if the equipment is transported attached to the outside of a vehicle; it is only covered by an inland marine insurance policy. The equipment is not covered by a business auto or a hired and non-owned auto policy.

Umbrella Insurance

An Umbrella Insurance Policy is a cost effective way for businesses to ad to the limits of all existing policies. An Umbrella Policy sits on top of the existing policies and it kicks in when the limits of those policies have been met. If the limits of an existing policy are met, the umbrella policy will kick in to cover any additional costs up to the limits of the umbrella policy. The key to an umbrella policy is that the underlying loss most be a covered loss by an existing policy.

Business Owner’s Package (BOP)

A Business Owners Package is frequently referred to as a BOP. This is a good way to purchase insurance for two reasons. One it saves the business money. Insurance carriers are more aggressive with discounts when they know they will be getting more business from a small business. Also, a BOP is a good way for a business to purchase insurance because it prevents there being a gap in coverage. A gap in coverage occurs when a claim occurs and there is an exclusion with both policies related to the claim. For example, if the business purchases a business auto policy from one carrier and an inland marine policy from another carrier, there may be an exclusion on both policies when an accident occurs. If both policies are purchased through the same carrier, the likelihood of a gap in coverage is much smaller.

 

Wind and Hail Damage

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Five Tips to prepare you business for Spring Wind and Hail Storms.

In most of the United States, Spring brings about an elevated risk of property damage related to weather events. At the top of the list of weather related insurance claims is Wind and Hail Damage. The damage may be caused to a businesses equipment as well as property. If you own a business that has extensive property and equipment, especially if it is stored outside and you live in a high risk area, you need to prepare your business for Spring Weather. Here are five things to look out for as you prepare your business for the Spring weather season.

Analyze What Weather Risks Your Business Faces

It is important to first determine what risks you face and the likelihood of an event occurring. If you live in Kansas, it is obviously more important to prepare for Tornadoes as opposed to Hurricanes or Earthquakes. Having a discussion with the key employees within your organization can help you determine what risks you, what risks you do not face, and what level of risk exists for each liability. Partnering with an independent insurance agent is a good way to find out about risks you may not realize you face and how to best protect your business from the risks that do exist.

Inspect The Property

Prior to the Spring Season, in preparation for wind and hail damage, it is important to do a thorough inspection of the entire property. Have someone who is trained examine the roof, the gutters, the HVAC System, and any specialized parts of your property. If there are trees on your property, make sure they are properly trimmed to avoid damage to the facility.

Secure All Equipment

Especially if you live in an area that is prone to wind and hail damage, it is important to secure a designated spot for all equipment and other valuables at the beginning of the Spring Season. Equipment stored outdoors should fastened securely to prevent it being lost or stolen after a storm.

First Keep Your Employees Safe

When a storm hits, it is the right thing to do to take care of your employees. Keeping an eye on the weather forecast will help you determine if employees who work outside need to be taken off the job. Keep employees away from windows and if necessary, take shelter in the safest portion of your facility. Put an emergency plan in place ahead of time and practice it from time to time.

Don’t Forget Insurance

Severe weather can hit anywhere, especially in the Spring Months. If you live in an area that is likely to experience wind and hail damage, it is important to speak with your independent insurance agent about what is the best package of insurance for your business to secure. First and foremost, do not base your decision to buy insurance solely on price. Margins for insurance carriers are extremely tight. Credits and discounts are not substantial on insurance premium. If one carrier offers a policy that is noticeably lower in price than a number of other carriers, there is usually a reason for that lower price. The reason for a lower price on premium is rarely because the carrier offering the lower price is known for offering additional limits or providing exceptional customer service. Partnering with an independent insurance agent allows you to get unbiased recommendations about each carrier because the independent agent is not tied to only one carrier.