Sunday, May 20, 2012

California Dogs Behaving Badly

State Farm Insurance announced that California reported more dog bite claims than any other state. 527 claims were filed in 2011- a 31% increase from the previous year. The total amount paid out averaged $38,000 per claim.
The spokesman for State Farm did not have an explanation for the increase. Some speculate that:

  • California dogs are descendents of the Mexican chupacabra.
  • Left-coast dogs have an inherent disrespect for authority.
  • California’s outdoor lifestyle means more walks, thus more ankles to bite.
  • California dogs have gangs, which would explain why most victims were joggers wearing either red or blue shorts.
  • Budget cuts have forced animal shelters to lie about a dog’s sweet nature on adoption papers.
  • Agricultural pollutants have caused mutations, increasing the population of buff, tattooed, double-Y chromosome dogs.
  • Dog parks have become hotbeds of anti-human sedition.
  • California dogs don’t bite more, but California people sue more.
Whatever the reason, call Allied Brokers for homeowner’s insurance so you can protect yourself when your little Precious behaves badly.
 
Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Allied Broker’s Carrier Ranked Highest in Customer Survey

The Hartford ranks highest among auto insurers in providing a satisfying shopping experience, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Insurance Shopping Study. The Hartford is just one of many insurance providers available through Allied Brokers. Call us today - we can solve any insurance problem.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Squishy Definition of “Independent Contractor” Can Land You in Jail

In April two San Jose business owners and an employee were arrested for workers’ compensation insurance fraud and now face up to 5 years in the Big House plus $50,000 in fines and restitution.

The couple was busted when a part-time, weekend employee hurt himself on the job but reported his injury to his full-time employer instead. Fellow full-time employees who knew this was a lie ratted on him and the California Department of Insurance investigated.

What they found was that the weekend employer had not reported the man’s injury to their workers’ compensation carrier. The investigation also revealed that the employer paid part-time employees cash to keep them off the payroll and off the Employment Development Department’s radar.

With workers’ compensation premiums ranging from 1-50% of payroll and general liability premiums being as high as 15% of payroll, the expense of an employee is huge. Add that to the 8% payroll tax and Obama care, there is a growing incentive for businesses to hire only independent contractors(ICs) or consultants. More and more companies cheat by paying employees partially in cash and partially by payroll check.

A new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown makes it important for businesses to follow the rules more closely. The law targets business owners using ICs by dramatically raising the penalties for those found to have willfully misclassified workers. Fines start at $5,000 and range as high as $15,000 per violation. The size of these penalties is unprecedented in the Labor Code- previously fines were in the $50 to $100 range.

It gets worse. If the employer is found to have engaged in a "pattern or practice" of
misclassification, these fines skyrocket up to a minimum of $10,000 per violation, with a cap of a whopping $25,000 per violation.

Basically, the state is trying to reduce the number of ICs so it doesn’t have to pay disability if they get hurt. A business using a true independent contractor does not have to provide workers’ compensation benefits. Also, the money paid to an IC is not charged as payroll on the business’s insurance policies for workers’ compensation and liability. These policies are audited regularly and the policyholder is charged a premium based on a percentage of payroll.

The state is forcing employers to pick up more of the tab for employees’ care and there is no way around it. As deficits rise, look for more aggressive enforcement by government agencies. For questions about workers’ compensation and business insurance, call Mimi Watson at Allied Brokers.

Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Good Neighbor Fights Are Not Covered

Damage caused by a neighbor’s encroachment on your property is not covered by homeowner’s insurance and rarely by title insurance. Encroachments can be anything from a driveway, a portion of a home or balcony, or oftentimes fences or landscaping. In many situations, the offending party did not intend or even know they were encroaching, and the affected party bought the property with the encroachment in place.


The corner of your backyard caves in because your neighbor’s septic tank was mistakenly built on your property- who pays for it? The first thing to do is check your title insurance. As part of the purchase of your home, the title company generally provides coverage for basics like property title status, liens and lot description, among other things. Encroachments are rarely covered without the purchase of a special insurance rider.

The second thing to do is check your homeowner’s policy. As a rule, a homeowner’s policy will not provide coverage for damage caused by an encroachment. However, before making that determination, the language of the policy must be examined.

For help reviewing the fine print of your policy or if you need supplemental insurance to protect yourself from encroachments, call Allied Brokers today!

Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.
Information for this article was provided courtesy of Simon Offord at the Law Offices of Peter N. Brewer at 650 327-2900 or on the web at http://www.brewerfirm.com/.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Realtors/Homeowners Watch Out For Open House Scammers

Do you have coverage if someone is hurt at your open house? Last month a realtor client of ours had this happen to her. A man distracted her during her open house, while his female accomplice made a beeline for the basement stairs. There was a crash and a scream and the woman claimed she had fallen down the stairs. She demanded that an ambulance be called to whisk her to the hospital. Less than a week later, the homeowner and realtor were served with a lawsuit claiming brain damage. We turned the claim into her liability carrier and they told us this woman had been paid $40,000 a few years before for the same thing. Who knows how many other insurance companies or realtors have been victimized by this predator?

Make sure to protect yourself with a general liability policy which covers auto accidents and slip and fall claims, as well as professional liability which covers the advice and guidance you provide for your clients. Allied Brokers can handle all of your insurance needs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ADA Scam Alert for Business Owners

Own a business? Protect yourself from a new scam. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows a handicapped person to sue a business and recover damages without giving prior warning. Most of us are sympathetic towards the disabled -and California has made great progress in providing handicapped parking and access- unfortunately though, most laws are flawed and the ADA is no exception. It makes sense to give businesses “prior warning” and a deadline to become ADA compliant, but since this is not required, the ADA has created a legal “loophole” encouraging abuse.

Most insurance does not cover intentional discrimination against a person. Make sure you are in compliance with ADA regulations for: handicapped parking, marked walkways to and from the parking space, ramp and door access, proper signs, check-out aisle width and bathrooms. A friend in San Francisco was hit with a $70,000 lawsuit for damages and building modifications. There have been several recent articles in the San Francisco Chronicle about a wheelchair-bound gentleman lawyer who has made discrimination claims against local businesses. Protect yourself from vultures like these- learn the law and make the necessary building modifications.