9 things to know about Liquor Liability Insurance

Liquor Liability

Liquor Liability Insurance is also known as dramshop liability in many parts of the United States. Most businesses that sell or serve alcohol are either legally required to buy liquor liability insurance, or will benefit and protect their business by having this insurance coverage.  Here are nine things to consider when deciding to buy Liquor Liability Insurance.

Liquor Liability

Dram Shop Laws exist in 43 states

“Dram Shop” laws (a law that makes a business liable if they serve a patron who is clearly intoxicated) exist in forty-three states. Each law is unique to the state it exists in. Most laws require some legal liability to be placed on any business serving alcohol or allowing alcohol to be served on a property owned by the business.

Liquor Liability Laws differ by state

Each state has their own unique laws governing liability. The best way to make sure you have the proper protection for your establishment is to partner with an independent agent who has experience offering coverage to liquor serving establishments.

Most states require coverage

In most states it is a requirement to carry Liquor Liability Insurance just to be in business. Even if the law does not require coverage, it is always best to carry some coverage to protect the business from liability resulting from the actions of intoxicated patrons.

Most Banks or Financial Institutions Require Coverage

Even if your individual state does not require coverage, many banks and other financial institutions require coverage in order to get a loan ona  property or a business line of credit.

You don’t have to serve alcohol to be sued

If you rent out a facility that allows parties where alcohol is served or sold, you can be sued because of the actions of intoxicated guests at your facility. If you allow guests to rent out your property and alcohol is served, you can protect your business with Liquor Liability Insurance.

Some states allow multiple establishments to be defendants in a lawsuit.

Most states only allow them to be defendants in a lawsuit when an intoxicated person causes bodily injury to a third party after attending the establishment. Even if the patron spent a majority of the night consuming alcohol at another location. The establishment must prove that the patron was not or did not appear intoxicated while at their establishment.

Homeowner’s and Commercial Property have Lower Limits

Some Homeowner’s or Commercial Property Insurance Policies cover liquor liability. Typically this coverage is very specific and the limits are much lower then a Liquor Liability Insurance Policy.  If Liquor Liability is covered by a homeowners insurance policy, it commonly is limited to $100,000 to $300,000 in coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Underage Drinking is not covered

Most all Liquor Liability Policies do not cover issues regarding underage drinking. This is because underage drinking is a crime. If the establishment served an underage patron, they broke the law. Any time a crime is committed it invalidates an insurance policy. This is why you see managers and bouncers acting like professional wrestlers when they encounter an underage drinker on their premises.

Alcohol Awareness Education

Many carriers offer discounts on liquor liability coverage to establishments that provide alcohol awareness education and training to employees. This is a must for any establishment that offers alcohol. Not only because it can reduce what you pay for commercial insurance, but it can drastically lower the likelihood of a severe incident occurring on your premises.

What Insurance do Bars, Taverns and Restaurants need?

Bars, Taverns and Restaurants

Small Businesses in the Bars, Taverns and Restaurant Industry have many different risks that are unique to this industry. The difference between a dive bar and a four star restaurant are as different as a beauty salon and a gun club. There are different classification codes for different types of insurance coverage depending upon the operations of your business. This is because the risks of a coffee shop, is different from the risks of a cafe or a wine bar. Which classification code the business is classified in is a large part of what determines how much they pay for commercial insurance. This may determine whether the business wants to offer a certain type of food or service depending upon how much it will impact what the business pays for commercial insurance.

Alcohol Consumption at Bars, Taverns and Restaurant

Most states determine if a business is a restaurant (not a bar or tavern) if it makes a certain percentage of its revenue from food and not from alcohol sales. The typical amount to be determined a restaurant is less than 50%. If the business makes more than 50% of its revenue from alcohol sales it is a riskier business and is thus places in a riskier classification code. This causes the business to be charged a higher premium for commercial insurance. The next main factor that impacts a restaurants rate for commercial insurance is whether the restaurant offers alcohol or not at all. If the business does not offer alcohol at all, they obviously eliminate the risk of intoxicated customers. This lowers the most costly risk a bar tavern or restaurant faces.  Also, an additional factor in the amount of premium is if the business does offer alcohol, whether or not the business offers hard alcohol or just beer and wine. Hard alcohol causes intoxication at a faster rate, because of this the business is more likely to have problems related to alcohol consumption.

Hours of Operation for Bars, Taverns and Restaurant

Aside from alcohol consumption the next largest risk that faces Bars, Taverns and Restaurant is the hours of operation. There is much less risk in a diner open from 6:00 AM –  1:00 PM, compared to a bar that serves no food and stays open until 2:00 AM 7 days a week. The latter might carry a few more risks that might turn in to insurance claims. Because of this risk the business is going to pay more in premium for their commercial insurance. Limiting these risks before they turn in to insurance claims can save your business immensely over the long term.

Types of Coverage for Bars, Taverns and Restaurant

Most insurance carriers have business owner’s packages designed specifically for Bars, Taverns and Restaurants. Here are some common coverages you will find included in those packages.

  • General Liability
  • Liquor Liability
  • Commercial Property
  • Business Personal Property
  • Workers Compensation
  • Business Income and Expense Coverage
  • Commercial Crime Coverage
  • Umbrella Coverage

General Liability Insurance covers a business for common slips and falls that happen on the property, Liquor Liability is required by law in most states and the amount of coverage is usually determined by the amount and type of alcohol a restaurant serves. Commercial Property Insurance covers damages to the building and most fixtures attached to the building. Workers’ Compensation is required by law in nearly every state and is coverage to prevent lawsuits for injuries that occur to your employees as part of normal business operations. Business Income and Expense Coverage is an addition to a Commercial Property Policy and will cover your business for loss of revenue due to being closed after damage to your premises. Commercial Crime Coverage will cover your business for crimes committed by your employees while acting on behalf of the company.  Umbrella Coverage is designed to extend the limits of existing policies when those limits have been met. It is important to note that Umbrella Policies only kick in on top of other existing policies. If the cause of the damage is not a covered peril than the Umbrella Policy will not be activated.

 

Below is a list of all the classification codes that might be included as a Restaurant, Bar or Tavern.

Business ISO General Liability:

  • Code: 16920- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- Table service, dance floor
  • Code: 16921- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- No table service, but dance floor
  • Code: 16930- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- Table service, no dance floor
  • Code: 16931- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- No table service, no dance floor
  • Code: 16940- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- Bar service only, with dance floor
  • Code: 16941- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- Bar service only, no dance floor

NCCI Class Codes:

  • 9082 – Traditional Restaurant.
  • 9083 – Fast Food Restaurant
  • 9058 – Restaurants owned or operated in a hotel.
  • 9084 – Restaurant who receives more than 50% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.

 

 

Hurricane Season is Upon us

15 Tips to get your Home and Office ready for Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season is upon us. August and September are typically the worst months for hurricanes in the United States, especially on the Atlantic Coast and Caribbean. 2017 was the worst year in a decade for Hurricane damage.  Here are 15 tips to prepare your family and small business for this Hurricane Season.

Hurricane Preapredness is more important now than ever.

Plan ahead in order to be Prepared for Hurricane Season

If you wait until a hurricane forms out in the Atlantic to start thinking about what to do in the event of a natural disaster, it may be difficult to adequately prepare your family much less a small business. Preparing in advance for the day your area experiences a natural disaster is the best way to have your family and business prepared.

Create a Formal Plan

Creating a formal plan, putting it in writing, and communicating that plan to your family, friends, neighbors, and employees is the best way to deal with a natural disaster. Incorporating the key employees and advisors is a great way to get the most complete formal plan developed.

Protect Your Staff, First during Hurricane Season

If you and your staff are at work when a natural disaster strikes, it is always important to take care of the health and well-being of your staff, first and foremost. This is more a case for areas of the country that experience earthquakes or tornadoes. These natural disasters have much less warning, but hurricanes typically give the ability to know they are coming for a few days at the least. The strength and severity of the hurricane may be a surprise, but not the fact that they are on the way.  No matter what the circumstances around a hurricane, when your community is faced with one, it is important to help your staff in any way possible.

Keep Communication Open with staff

On top of thinking about your staff first when a disaster strikes, it is equally important to design and implement an effective communication plan for your staff. Have as many forms of communication open as possible. Some staff may prefer to communicate via email or text, others may want a phone call. No matter what time of communication plan you decide on for your organization, practice it ahead of time. This will help the situation run smoothly when disaster actually strikes.

Create a Contact List

In a day and age when most people depend upon their mobile device for a majority of the information they need at any given moment. When a natural disaster strikes, cell phone reception is not always reliable. If this does occur after a hurricane, having a contact list in a safe place will come in handy when you are trying to get ahold of your family, friends, neighbors, and employees.

Hurricane Matthew Damage

Paperwork/Collection of Information

Buying a safe is advisable in the event of a natural disaster. It is important to safely store documents like birth certificates, social security cards, passports, the deed to your house, the title to your cars, the articles of incorporation etc. It is equally important to store a list of phone numbers to organizations like the local hospital, the local police, a printed list of your employees contact info, your insurance company, etc. Do not depend upon these numbers being stored in your phone. Many times when a natural disaster strikes, there is a period of time when cell service is bad or does not work at all.

Take Before and After Photos

Taking before and after photos are especially important for your home and office.  It is important to document your key equipment and the property that your business owns. It might not be a bad idea to put these photos on file with your insurance agent and carrier. The more information you record photographically, the easier the claims process will be with your insurance company.

Designate a Safe Zone within your Home and Office

Designating a meeting location within your house or office and just outside of it is crucial to keeping track of your family and staff in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. If the place to meet is inside the building, make sure it is centralized and away from windows as much as possible.

Stockpile Emergency Supplies just for Hurricane Season

Emergency supplies may be critical in the hours and days immediately following a hurricane. These supplies should include batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, entertainment, deck of cards, maybe even a harmonica. There are infinite things that can and should be included in an emergency supply kit. Planning ahead is always the best way to create this kit and checking on it periodically will help to make sure everything is in operating order.

Purchase Backup Power

A back-up generator and solar chargers are beneficial when a disaster strikes. There will more than likely be a period of time when your family and business have to go without power. Having a back up plan for power will make your family and employees much more comfortable while dealing with the results of the natural disaster.

Conduct Ongoing Maintenance of all necessary Power Equipment

Checking on the backup power to make sure it is in proper working order is highly advisable for your home and office. Also, it is wise to store the proper fuel the backup generator. If you decide to use solar as a source for backup power, the device should be tested about once a quarter.

Have a Plan for Windows and Doors during Hurricane Season

Windows and doors are important to take care of in the event of a hurricane. Even if the storm is a tropical storm or category I storm there is more than likely going to be a lot of flying debris as a result of the storm. In some way you should board up all windows and doors of any facility you own or rent. This activity takes minimal effort on your part and can save a lot of damage if done properly.

Keep Trees Trimmed

One thing many people forget in relation to hurricane season is to have the trees, shrubs, and landscaping up to date. Even in the case of the storm not being as strong as forecasted, there will still be extremely high winds. Those winds can do enormous damage to your property when they interact with overgrown tree limbs. Soem time during the month of July or August is a good time to have all the limbs on your property trimmed adequately.

Know the Location of all Power Boxes and Water Shut Off Valves before Hurricane Season

Before a storm is in the forecast, it is important to find the location of your properties water shut-off valve, power box, and surge protector. These are not parts of your property you have to deal with very frequently. For that reason, it is important to to periodically visit this part of your facility and make sure it is in proper working order. It is especially important to do this in the Summer Months prior to hurricane season.

Clean the Gutters before Hurricane Season

In addition to tree limbs and shrubs around your property, it is equally important to clean out the gutters on all properties prior to the late summer and early fall hurricane season. These gutters will be dealing with a large amount of water moving through them during the fall. If they are not cleaned it may result in further damage to the property.

What is a Ghost Policy?

Have you heard the term Ghost Policy?

It is typically referred to in regards to workers compensation insurance.  A Ghost Policy is a term used to describe a specific type of workers’ compensation insurance policy. This type of policy is issued to individual business owners that have no direct coverage value. It can be a great policy for small contractors and subcontractors who have no employees or subcontractors.

Ghost Policy

What is a Ghost Policy?

A ghost policy is a minimum earned premium policy. A policy of this nature commonly costs between $750 and $1000 annually. This is depending on the state the policy is issued and several factors related to the industry the business operates.  One major difference from a traditional workers comp policy is that a Ghost Insurance Policy has no payroll calculated into the premium.  It also excludes all owners from the policy.  This is where the term “Ghost Policy”comes from.  Now the premium will vary by carrier and includes the state expense constant, There are minimum premium amounts required to administer a policy.

Why might someone want a ghost policy?

While many business owners might think it is a waste of money to purchase this type of a policy, but it may be a preferable alternative to going without coverage for a number of reasons.  A Ghost Policy enables a business owner to have a certificate of insurance issued.  Many contracts require a certificate of insurance in order to secure financing and to do business legally in many states.  In addition, a Ghost Insurance Policy can cost a fraction compared to a policy including the owner. Also, in most cases, a Ghost Policy provides employer liability protection in the event an employee is hired or a payment is made to an uninsured subcontractor. Uninsured Subcontractors are especially important to protect your self and your business from, even if you only interact with subcontractors infrequently. Trusting that a subcontractor is self insured is a good way to get your business in to a situation no business owner wants to be in.

Do you know the early warning signs of a Data Breach?

According to a report release by released by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and CyberScout, more than 1500 business were the victim of a Data Breach in 2017. The cost of these data breaches, according to a Cost of Data Breach Study administered by the Ponemon Institute, was $3.62 million. This amounts to more than a $5 Billion cost to the business community in 2017 alone. This is a risk that your business can protect by purchasing adequate Cyber Insurance, but there are additional steps that can protect your business from a data breach on a daily basis.  Here are six things every small business should do to prevent a Cyber Attack.

Data Breach Insurance is a must for all Small Businesses.

Hire people who know Cyber Security

If you are not technologically advanced, it is imperative that you hire someone who is and pay them well. The average price of a data breach is TKTKTK. Hiring a well-trained professional to protect your business is extremely important. Paying them a good salary is the best way to keep them from being poached by the competition.

To prevent a Data Breach, Watch for Unusual Behavior

If a computer program that you use daily starts acting up, investigate it for more than just a hardware or software malfunction. Any time there is an irregularity, check that system for any further compromises.

Investigate Suspicious Files

Any time malware is detected, or an employee reports opening a suspicious file, do not take any chances. In the American system of justice, defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Well in the realm of cyber security, it is always best to assume the system is infected until proven other wise.

Run Scans to prevent a Data Breach

Anti-virus and anti-malware programs need to be up-to-date. Someone within your business should run vulnerability programs to look for missing protections or other security risks.

Check Your Credit

Customer information is not the only confidential information on your businesses server. There is plenty of information about your your business and the employees.  If you are a small business owner you should keep a tight watch on both your business and personal credit history. A drastic change in either of these reports can show your business has been compromised.

Monitor Computer System Communication for signs of a Data Breach

Your or your IT representative should regularly monitor communication patterns on your network. If use see an employee’s computer transmitting large amounts of data, especially outside of the network, it could be a sign of a hack.

 

Do you have a child heading off to college?

You better talk to your Insurance Agent about your new College Student.

Raising children can be an amazing experience, full of milestones and accomplishments. None are larger than graduating from high school. When your child does graduate from college, if they are planning to head off to college, you better sit down and talk to your insurance agent about how to most effectively navigate the next five years of your child’s life. Here are six tips for taking care of your child while they are away at college.

High School Graduate walking across the podium shows the need for talking with an insurance agent about how best to insure your college student.

Contact Your Insurance Professional

If you have an insurance agency that you partner with you should contact them around graduation time if you have not already done so. You will need to discuss what options you have for both their car and health insurance, as well as what behaviors you need to let your child know about related to risk management and insurance.

Understand the Risks Your Students Faces

It is important to talk to your teen about the risks they face when living away from your house out on their own. It is equally important to talk to them about the costs associated with their actions and what repercussions they will face if something happens that causes insurance rates to go up.  Teens often forget that the cost of owning a car includes auto insurance. Explain what a driving infraction is and how it impacts the rate you pay for insurance with numbers and concrete examples.

Shop Around

The best way to shop around for better price and coverage is to partner with an independent insurance agent. Many agents partner with one insurance carrier (captive agents) and some partner with a select few insurance carriers. This limits the amount of policies they can find for your businesses unique insurance needs. Most independent insurance agencies partner with ten or more insurance carriers. Some partner with even twenty or thirty carriers. From your perspective, the more the merrier. This is because you can call one agent and they can come back to you with numerous quotes from multiple carriers. This causes more competition and can get you better coverage at rock bottom rates.

Is your teen going away to school and are they taking a vehicle?

When your teen heads away to college, you may be eligible for lower premiums if they leave the car behind. In some cases parents will do this for the first semester or even the first year as a trial period. Once the child shows some responsibility and hopefully good grades the parents allow them to take a vehicle away with them. No matter what you decide to do for your child, it is important to keep your insurance agent and carrier in the loop.

Keep Your College Student on Your Own Policy

In most cases, it is less expensive for parents to add a college student to their insurance policy than it is for students to purchase insurance on their own. Multi-vehicle discounts are available when insuring your college student’s car with the same insurance company.

Increase Your Liability Insurance

When a college student gets into a car accident, the state minimums for liability insurance are not always enough to protect your and your child if they are sued for damages.  If you have a minimum policy with $15,000 for damages and $20,000 for medical; the damages from a serious accident can be more than this amount fairly easily. Many vehicles on the roads cost more than $15,000 and a weeks stay in a hospital can total $20,000.  If your college student is found to be negligent in the accident and the damage exceeds the limits of your policy, you can be held financially responsible for the remaining damages. Raising your liability limits may increase your premium by a few hundred dollars a year, but it may save you thousands when your college student causes an accident.

Ask about a discount for Good Grades and Driver Training

If your child is a good student or they have up to date driver training, it may be worthwhile to mention this to your agent when purchasing coverage for your college student.  Most carriers give a discount to students who maintain at least a “B” average. Another way to earn a discount is by having your teen take a recognized driver training course.

When does a Business need Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance?

Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance for Small Business

Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance is a type of insurance policy that many businesses need and far too many fail to secure. According to the International Risk Management Institute, Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance is defined as; ‘an auto that is used in connection with the named insured’s business but that is not owned, leased, hired, rented, or borrowed by the named insured’. In layman’s terms this is an insurance policy for a business when an employee of that business uses a vehicle for business purposes that is not owned by that business. This could be an employee driving their personal car for business purposes or it could be an employee driving a rental car while travelling to a conference representing the business. The insurance policy will cover bodily injury and property damage to third parties damaged by an accident that is the fault of your employee.  This policy can be purchased as a standalone policy or as an add on to your commercial auto or general liability insurance policies. Here are some things you need to know about this coverage if you own a small business and have employees who use vehicles the business does not own.

You can purchase it as a standalone policy, or you can add it on as a rider to your General Liability Insurance.

Two cars have crashed wrecked into each other at intersection with very upset man driver looking at the severe damage with wrong way sign in background. If he is driving for work, his employer needs hired and non owned auto insurance.

What exactly does Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance Cover?

Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance covers some damages for cars that employees of your business uses but does not own. It covers specifically the damage caused to third parties, but not always the damage to the vehicle your employee is driving. This vehicles that may cause a need for this coverage include:  rental vehicles, leased vehicles, employee personal vehicles

What are some examples of when you need Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance?

  • You send an employee on an errand to pick up supplies in their own vehicle.
  • An employee rents a vehicle on a business trip.
  • You send a limo to the airport to pick up an important client.
  • An employee runs out to get coffee or pick up lunch for everyone in the office.

Rental Car Agent with a business man renting a car. THe business man is asking if they offer Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance.

What is not covered under a Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance Policy?

A Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance Policy does not pay for physical damage to your employees vehicle. That damage would be covered by the employees personal auto insurance policy.  It also will not pay for the repair of a rental vehicle that is damaged by in an accident that is caused by your employee.  It does not cover accidents that occur during a commute to work, unless the employee is using a vehicle rented by the business. Another scenario that is not covered by a Hired and Non Owned Auto Insurance Policy is when an employee is running a personal errand during work hours, but they are not doing business operations.

What are the differences between Hired and Non Owned Vehicles

Hired Vehicles refer to car services like a taxi or limousine and rented vehicles your employees use for business purposes. Non Owned Vehicles refer to vehicles that are used by your employees that are not owned by the business. The most common example of this is an employee using their personal car for business related travel.

My Insurance Question: 10 Summer Safety Tips

10 Summer Safety Tips for your Business.  

Summer Safety begins and ends with dealing with the Summer Heat. Depending upon where your business is located and the industry you operate in, how you deal with the Summer Heat may be drastically different. Here are ten tips to help you protect your employees while dealing with the Summer Heat.

Construction Worker dealing with Summer Heat.

Have your A/C Unit checked

Most people think that heat related injuries only concern businesses that have employees who work out side, but when an A/C Unit goes out during the month of July it can have an extremely negative impact on your office and your employees. Having your A/C Unit checked in the Spring can prevent a bad situation from happening. The earlier in the year you get this done, the better.

Communicate with employees

Employees listen to their managers and key employees within your organization. If you communicate through those key employees what is important to the organization, the employees are much more likely to follow through with actions you want them to follow. Communication should be direct and ongoing. The more your employees hear something, the more likely they are to follow through.

Hydration

Drinking adequate amounts of water is important for all employees at all levels of your organization. That is true if they work primarily out in the elements or if they are an office employee. In the Summer this is especially true for employees who work out in the elements. Periodically providing cool drinks for your employees is always a good idea. Talking about hydration with your staff is also important to get them to take hydration seriously.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is necessary during the Summer Months. It is important for you to provide sunscreen for your employees and to talk about using it. Encourage your managers and key employees to model the types of activities you want the rest of your staff to copy.

Proper Clothing

Depending upon the industry your business operates in and the climate of the area, adequate clothing may defer depending upon the weather your employees face. Preventing sunburn and other types of heat exposure is crucial to keeping your employees healthy and happy.

Adjust your operating hours

It is important for your acclimate your employees to the weather as the Summer heat begins.  Gradually increasing exposure to the environment is the best way to help your employees deal with heat exposure throughout the entire Summer. Depending upon how hot the weather actually is and the type of activities your employees partake in, it may be necessary for your business to adjust the operating hours during the Summer months.

Take Extra Breaks

Taking additional breaks is a great way to deal with an increase in the temperatures during the Summer. When the temperatures rise, it is not a time for your employees to attempt to show how tough they are. More often than not this will result in someone dealing with a heat related illness. Protect your employees by taking additional breaks.

Notice the signs of Heat Related Illness

According to the Center for Disease Control, ‘From 1999 to 2010, 8,081 heat-related deaths were reported in the United States’. That is more than 800 people each year who die from heat related illnesses.  Familiarizing yourself and your managers with the early signs of heat exhaustion can go a long way towards preventing your employees from becoming a victim of a heat related illness.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes and other insects come out in great numbers during the Summer Months. Helping your employees deal with them will keep those employees happy and healthy. If your employees stay at your facility, there are steps you can take throughout the property to limit exposure to insects. When employees are working at third party locations, it is important to periodically talk to the employees about how to prevent insect bites.

Prepare Your Vehicles

If you have employees who operate automobiles as part of their job, it is important to help those employees maintain the vehicle so that they will be able to withstand the extreme temperatures all Summer long. It may be necessary for your business to buy car windshield sunshade and to require all employees to use them if they are going to be away from the vehicle for a certain amount of time. Making sure the AC Unit in the car is in tip top shape is important to keep your employees cool and the cars operating throughout the year.

June is National Safety Month

What are you doing during National Safety Month to make sure your Business is as Safe as possible?

Every year National Safety Month is recognized during the month of June and according to the National Safety Council, ‘National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities’. Safety should be at the top of the priority list for any successful business. Not focusing on safety is a very short-sided way to run a business. Businesses with an extra emphasis on safety tend to experience less frequent and less severe injuries to their employees. This leads to less lost time by injured employees, less insurance claims reported by the business, and lower insurance premiums as a result of the safe environment.

June is National Safety Month

Why is safety important?

Having a safety workplace can help your business in many ways. First and foremost it is the right thing to do for your organization, your customers, and your employees. If you operate a safe business it will save your business time and money by not having to deal with injured employees as frequently. It also will save your business when purchasing commercial insurance. Safe workplaces typically have a better experience modification rating than other businesses who do not emphasize safety.

How does a business design a safety program?

The design stage of a safety program will depend upon the location of your business and the industry you operate in. Obviously, if your business operates in Florida there is not much of a need for you to train employees how to operate in the snow. If you are located in Iowa, you may not need to prepare for hurricane season. The same can be said for the industry you operate in. A construction company will not need the same protocols in place as an accounting firm. Because of the uniqueness of each individual business, it is important to consult with your key employees, advisers, and even your insurance agent. All of these people can bring their own experiences to the design of any safety program and make it more complete.

June is National Safety Month and in honor of this celebration of safety this is an infograph about slips trips falls-

What should be included in all safety plans?

Heavy lifting

Any employee who has to lift heavy objects should be prepared to lift with their legs and not with their back. Many employees want to show a can-do attitude, but it is important to let all employees know that safety and their health are more important than impressing anyone with brute strength.

Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are the most common insurance claim. Especially for retail and restaurant businesses that are open to the public. Even if your business is not open to the public, it is important to prevent employees and any third parties who come on to the property to be prepared for slips, trips, and falls.

Ergonomics of the workplace

Most businesses operate in the technological age. Because of this fact, many employees spend a majority of their time sitting at a desk and typing or staring at a computer. Repetition injuries like carpal tunnel can be severe and so can eyesight damage from long-term  damage from computer usage. Being mindful of the ergonomics of the chair a person is sitting in, the equipment surrounding their computer, and the light that is being emulated from the computers can do a lot to prevent long-term damage due to ergonomics within your staff.

Tips for implementing a safety program.

Once you have designed a safety program, it is equally important to effectively implement it. This must start from the top of your organization. The more involved the owner and key employees are in the implementation of a safety program, the more likely all employees will take it seriously. There should be a schedule for ongoing meetings and they should be documented. These meetings do not have to be extremely time-consuming. Typically 15-30 minutes a week is adequate. It is important to periodically request feedback from all employees and to have some sort of open door policy for employees who may not feel comfortable speaking up in front of their coworkers. No matter what implementation you find is right for your business, it is important to document it and to stick with it. Documentation will come in handy when or if you experience an injured employee. Your insurance agent will be able to use the safety program as a way to show the insurance carrier you are taking the proper steps to prevent this occurrence from becoming a regular part of your business.

 

Portrait of young engineer taking notes for National Safety Month.

Common Types of injuries

Fatigue

Fatigue is an enormous problem in today’s business climate. Especially for businesses that operate in an have employees doing physical work. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each day to reach peak performance, but nearly one-third report averaging less than six hours.

Driving

IF you have employees who drive to multiple locations throughout the work day as part of their normal duties, you need to train those employees how to drive when they are on the job. It is a good idea to pull their motor vehicle records on a yearly basis as well. Never assume a responsible employee is also a responsible driver.

Workplace Violence

Unfortunately, workplace violence is more common than most business owners think. Each year more than two million people report being a victim of workplace violence. For this reason, it is extremely important for you as a small business owner to come up with a plan to prevent and how to deal with any and all forms of workplace violence.

Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are the most common form of insurance claim. Especially for businesses that are open to the public like a restaurant. Fortunately for these types of businesses, these claims are also typically not very severe, just frequent. No matter what type of industry your business operates in, it is worth your while to address slips, trips, and falls that may happen at your facility.

Drugs in the workplace

According to the Surgeon General, nearly 21 million Americans live with a substance use problem.  The same study showed three-quarters of these people are employed and as a result of their addiction, they miss 50% more time than employees without a substance abuse disorder. Construction, entertainment, recreation, and food service are four industries that have twice the national average of drug abuse in the workplace. If your business operates in one of these areas, drug abuse in the workplace is something you should address with your staff.

 

Hurricane Season is Upon Us!

Is your home and office prepared for Hurricane Season?

Hurricane season is upon us in the United States. As of June 12th, Hurricane Bud is already the second named storm of the season. Bud is expected to make landfall near the Baja Peninsula of Mexico this coming Thursday through the weekend. Hurricane Aletta, the first named storm of 2018, grew to a category four storm and consisted of sustained winds in excess of 140 miles per hour. This is occurring little more than eight months after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria, category four and category five storms respectively, made landfall over Houston and Puerto Rico. Forcing many to go without power for weeks and months.

These Hurricanes should be a cautionary tale that if you live in an area that has a risk of hurricanes now is the time to plan for how you will deal with these storms when they come your way.  In most places, it is a matter of when and not if you are going to deal with a hurricane. Here are seven ways to prepare your home and small business for hurricane season.

Flooded Las Olas Blvd and Palm trees blowing in the winds, catastrophic hurricane Irma.

Create a communication plan

Communication is difficult in the technological age. It is even more difficult when a natural disaster occurs. For this reason, it is extremely important to have a plan in place for how your are going to get a message to the few people who are most important.  On a day to day basis, we may not realize how much we depend upon our mobile devices, but the second those devices are taken away we all realize how important they are to our ever connected world. Having a plan in place for when they do not work and practicing it from time to time will help your family and small business prepare for a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Restock your emergency preparedness kit

First and foremost, your house and your business should have an emergency preparedness kit. What it has in it may depend upon where you live and what special needs the people who need to use it may have. If someone in your family or at your business are diabetic, there should be some supplies related to these health issues. If you have a young child or an elderly member of your family, you need to prepare for their special needs. Regardless of the circumstances your business and family face, there should be a place where you have some supplies for when a hurricane occurs.

Check insurance coverage

Most Hurricane insurance policies have a time period before they kick in. Most are at least 30 days in length, meaning if you are purchasing coverage now you may be late for a hurricane occurring in late June or early July. If you already have coverage in place it is a good idea to dust off that policy and see what may or may not be covered. Partnering with an experienced independent insurance can help you determine what coverage you have and if there is additional coverage you may benefit from.

Consider flood insurance

In many cases flood insurance is necessary in addition to hurricane coverage. Each policy has limitations to what is and what is not covered. In most cases, flooding that occurs after a hurricane has occurred is not covered unless you have a separate flood insurance policy. Most small businesses can eliminate this gap in coverage by purchasing a business owner’s package. In a state where natural disasters are common, this should be a standard part of most comprehensive packages.

Make copies of important documents

There are many documents that are extremely important after a natural disaster occurs. These documents may include passports, birth certificate, social security card, the title to your car or house, bank account records, copies of your insurance policies, and the phone numbers related to any of these documents.

Back up your electronics

If you own a small business, it is crucially important for you to back up all data that may be important. Depending upon the industry you operate in this may be a small amount of data or it may be an enormous amount. No matter how large or small, it is essential to have a place where this data is safe. Backing up your electronics at your home is equally important. There are more than likely numerous important bits of information saved on all of the devices in your house. Not to mention the many many pictures we share to all of our devices. Without a plan in place, these will all be lost after a natural disaster.

Review Your Supply Chain

If you have ever lived through a natural disaster like a hurricane you more than likely know that the world keeps on moving no matter how bad the situation is in your area. If you own or operate a small business that does business regionally or nationally, it is important to have a plan in place for how to keep the business churning throughout a natural disaster. Customers are still going to expect on time delivery of the goods and services you have contracted in advance. Thinking about these situations in advance can be the difference between a hurricane being a small slow down in business and a situation that your business never recovers from.