Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Injury at Work – The Risk and Cost

Insuring your business and the people who work for you is just common sense. Besides, the obligation you have towards your employees, claims for compensation for sickness or injuries in the workplace, can be huge. But your employees may not be the only ones who work in your business premises. What about contractors and their subcontractors?

It Could Happen To You

Compensation to employees of contractors and their sub-contractors who are injured while working at site is a complicated and often contentious issue. The contractor may claim that all the required coverages are in place, but if an accident occurs and they are not, the liability could fall on you, and the primary employer. That is what happened recently at the new Tesla electric vehicle plant. A worker of a subcontractor working on the expansion of the factory was injured while on the job. It soon emerged that the subcontractor was in violation of employment laws and in breach of regulations regarding wages, overtime and workers comp.

Tesla had no knowledge of this, but when the facts came to light, they were dragged to court along with the subcontractor. The end result? The injured employee was awarded a $550,000 settlement.

Tesla is a huge organization with a vast amount of financial muscle. They will be able to absorb the monetary shock of the settlement. But what if something similar happened to you? The courts do not award settlement based on the ability of the employer to pay. It is on the basis of the amount of injury and the liability for it. In the Tesla case, the worker had fractured legs and ribs and a concussion. These are major injuries but, sadly, not uncommon in such cases. Would you be able to absorb a half million dollar payout? Or would that ruin you?

Get the Protection You Need

The vast number of insurance products available can be confusing to anyone who is not an insurance professional. Many business owners think they have the coverage they need when they do not. Part of the reason is the confusion that exists about coverage types. For example a person may read about employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) coverage and presume that since he has liability coverage, he is already protected. Not so. Liability coverage and EPLI are different and both are critical to protecting your business.

Remember that insurance is not a gamble, a luxury or just an expense. It is the shield that will protect you when you are faced with liabilities that could ruin you and your business.

When business imperatives demand that contractors need to be employed, the amount of paper work involved can be voluminous. Issues like workers compensation can easily fall through the cracks.Therefore, you as the principle employer must ensure that the contractors provide proof of their insurance coverage and that they add you as an additional insured party on the policy so that you are not in the firing line if things go wrong. In addition talk to your insurance agent to understand your possible liability and the claims that could be raised against you and get the insurance coverage you need to protect yourself and your business. If you do not have workers comp, liability coverages and EPLI you are leaving yourself dangerously exposed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Include Home Protection in Your Remodeling Plans

There is more to home remodeling than giving the house a makeover and adding new features together with creature comforts. These are the main considerations, of course, but overlooking the protection of your renovated home could be a big mistake, one that may lead to massive financial loss. You have your home insurance policy, but that will not cover all your expenses if your home is damaged or destroyed. And then there are the hassles of repairing or rebuilding it, which are too many to list. That is why building in protection as part of the remodel is so important. Here are some factors to keep in mind when doing the planning.

Fire Protection

  • Wherever possible, install a full residential sprinkler system with a water flow alarm. Ensure that the system is checked annually to keep it in working condition.
  • Replace existing smoke or heat detectors with multi-criteria systems that detect combustible gases, carbon monoxide, smoke and heat. This will significantly increase the level of protection.
  • Install centrally monitored fire detection units in areas where the fire risk is the greatest – attics, garages, kitchens, laundry rooms and other similar places.
  • Where water based latex paint, stains, and polyurethane / acrylic coatings have been used, use fire retardant additives to reduce the fire risk.
  • A whole house surge protection system will protect electronic equipment from damage if there is power fluctuation or surging.

Protection from Water Damage

  • To prevent major water damage install a whole house automatic shutoff system which will detect and turn off water if the flow is excessive or if water is collecting in the wrong places.
  • Water leaks commonly occur below HVAC units, skylights, terrace doors, washers, sinks and wherever, other such appliances, are installed. Installing moisture detection devices at these points will provide an immediate alert of a leak, when it is detected.
  • Replace rubber hoses at water supply points for washing machines, dishwashers, sinks, toilets and so on with steel braided hoses which are less prone to damage, leaks and failure. All hoses should be replaced every 5 years or as advised by the manufacturer.
  • Install floor drains in the laundry room and other places where there are water connections to carry away water in case of pipe or tank failure.
  • Protect yourself from equipment damage by installing point-of-use water shutoff systems at the water supply points for HVAC units and similar devices.
  • Install the washing machine at the lowest level to minimize damage if a major leak occurs.
  • Install a sump pump of the right size, to remove water that may enter the basement after heavy rains.
  • An automatic backup generator will ensure that all protection devices and equipment will function, in the event of a power outage.

Factoring in these changes as a part of remodeling your home may increase the cost, but the peace of mind that follows, makes it worthwhile. Talk to your remodeling contractor about the many options available. In addition, it is possible that having theseproactive measures in place, could result in a reduction on your insurance premiums. To know more about how safety features can reduce your insurance costs, contact your insurance broker.