Wednesday, November 23, 2016

EPLI - What It Is and Why You Need It

EPLI stands for Employment Practices Liability Insurance. This is not the same as the general liability that most businesses do (or at least should) carry. EPLI is to provide specific protection to business owners from claims by employees that their legal rights have been violated or that they have been treated unfairly.

Your Employees Are Like Family

This is a common feeling among small businesses. Everyone knows everyone else and meets socially and helps each other out on family matters etc. So what is the need for EPLI? Isa supervisor who has been with you for 10 years suddenly going to sue you? Maybe! It does happen far more frequently than you think. It’s like a close-knit family that suddenly and irreversibly falls apart. The fact that the reason is foolish or illogical doesn’t matter when emotions run high. Yes, suing an employer is often an emotional reaction. Studies show that the most common reasons for employment practices lawsuits are:

  • Retaliation for a real or imagined issue – 44.5%
  • Race-related issues, both real and imagined – 34.7%
  • Disability – 30.2%

You cannot afford to ignore these numbers.

Frightening Facts about Employment Liability Lawsuits

If you still feel that EPLI is not important, the following may help to change your mind.

  • Your most innocent remark or action can be misinterpreted. Anyone can have a bad day and an act or words that were a joke yesterday could cause anger today. That anger could lead to a lawsuit.
  • The fact is that a business is 3 times more likely to be hit with an employment practice lawsuit than it is to experience a fire.
  • The courts are becoming more sympathetic to plaintiffs in such cases. The average cost of an employee lawsuit has risen by over 25%, over the last 5 years.
  • Businesses with 15 to 100 employees are the most common targets for federal discrimination claims.
  • Only about 30% of small businesses have EPLI.
  • Many business owners think that their general liability coverage protects them against employee’s lawsuits. That is not correct.

What EPLI Covers

EPLI coverage may vary depending on the insurance provider. In general, it includes:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Breach of employment agreement
  • Failure to create or enforce adequate employment policies
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Discrimination
  • Violation of FMLA
  • Workplace harassment
  • Retaliation

You probably have a number of different insurance coverages for your business. They are focused on protecting you from issues beyond your control or from actions against you by outsiders. But what about when a lawsuit comes from within? Without EPLI you could be left exposed to huge losses. Talk to your insurance broker to check if you have the coverages you need. If you do not have EPLI coverage, your broker will be able to suggest the right type of policy for your business.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Don’t Let Wildfires Burn You

Everyone who lives in California knows about the problems of wildfires. However, many do not truly appreciate how big and serious the problem is. To get a better understanding of the risks that homeowners face, have a look at the state government’s Statewide Fire Map. Your home is the biggest investment you will make for your family and it is in danger. This does not mean that you need to live in a state of panic or constant fear. Taking the right precautions to protect your home and ensuring that you have the insurance coverage you need will help to safeguard your home and your financial security.

Protect Your Home

There is plenty of material available online on how to make your home fire resistant. Study it and take the precautions you can. However, what is often overlooked is the need to create a defensible space around the house to reduce the risks of fire reaching the structure.This space is divided into 3 separate zones, each with its own specific precautions.

Zone 1: This is the area closest to the house and covers a distance of 0 to 5 feet. The key precautions are:

  • Use non-combustible material for mulches.
  • Make paths and walkways of brick, stone or concrete.
  • All plants and shrubbery in this area should be non-combustible or fire resistant. Use low height plants that are in irrigated flowerbeds or parts of the lawn that are regularly sprinkled.
  • Do not store firewood, inflammable liquids or corrosive chemicals in this area or under a deck.

Zone 2: This covers the distance of 6 to 30 feet from the house. You should:

  • Keep a distance of at least 10 feet between trees. This will reduce the hazards of a fire jumping from one tree to the next. On slopes, increase the distance between trees as much as possible.
  • Trim any branches that hang over the house.
  • Remove shrubs and dead vegetation from under the trees.
  • Keep the trees and plants well-watered.
  • Move RVs, trailers, sports vehicles etc. to a distance of 100 feet from the house.

Zone 3: This is the final zone that covers the distance of 31 to 100 feet from the house. This is where you need to:

  • Clear away all dead trees, plants, shrubs, and other such material.
  • Trim trees and shrubs in such a way that ladder (i.e. near to the ground combustible material) is minimized.
  • Clear the area under the trees of all dry plants, grass and foliage.
  • If the house is on a slope, extend this zone to 200 feet from the structure.

Get the Insurance You Need

Taking steps to protect you home from wildfires is important, but there is no way to be completely safe from them. If the worst should happen and your home is damaged or destroyed by fire, having the right type and amount of insurance coverage will cover the cost of repairs or rebuilding. Talk to your insurance broker to be sure you have the coverage you need. Do not postpone doing this. As the wildfire map shows, they can happen anywhere, at any time with no fore warning.