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The Ins and Outs of Small Business Insurance

Being an entrepreneur makes you the boss, but along with getting to choose your own hours, location, and business plan, it also means that you’re responsible for a lot of other things like commercial/business insurance. There’s a lot more to business insurance than getting the lowest business insurance quotes. It means understanding your business’s unique needs and the potential hazards that can threaten its success.

This brief video from the Insurance Information Institute touches on the ins and outs of small business insurance, including coverage for:

Credit: Insurance Information Institute

-JK

Forklift Operator Knocks Over $100,000 Worth of Liquor

As seen in this Youtube video, “in a Russian liquor warehouse, a forklift driver hits the gas in reverse and plows into a warehouse rack filled with liquor, causing a domino effect that brings down half the warehouse. There was over a hundred thousand dollars in damage. The driver survived. No report if he is still employed.”

All joking aside, an accident like this can have a vast impact on your business operations such as Property Damage with the destroyed product. Think about the extensive clean up and reorganization; the suspense of business operations/ business income/interruption exposure. Also, from a Workers Compensation and Employee Disability standpoint, there are injured employees which means lost time, recovery, employee shortage, and training costs for other employees to fill the void. This can have a devastating impact on your bottom line.

Here are some Safety Tips For Forklift Drivers:

Maintenance

  • Each day, check that the forklift is ready for the day’s work and perform any necessary maintenance before operating.
  • Report any malfunction or poor performance to your supervisor immediately.

Loading

  • Use reverse when going down inclines and go forward up inclines.
  • Do not travel with the load elevated, and keep the load stable and as close to the floor as possible.
  • Avoid raising or lowering a load while the forklift is moving.
  • Always keep the load tilted back towards the carriage while raising and lowering.
  • Make sure the load is balanced and is within the capacity of the truck.
  • Never use the forks as a personnel elevator unless properly equipped.

Driving

  • Always make sure your driving path is clear.
  • Slow down for corners, blind spots and doorways.
  • Drive defensively by always being aware of your surroundings and watching for the unexpected.
  • Be aware of ground conditions and always take the smoothest possible path.
  • Never try to turn on an incline.
  • Cross tracks diagonally and slow down for uneven surfaces.
  • Keeps legs, arms, feet, hands and head inside the forklift.
  • Be aware of others around the job site, in case they do not see you.
  • Always give those on foot the right of way.
  • Stay out from under forks and loads.
  • Never show off or use the machine for anything other than your specified job tasks.
  • Never give anyone a ride or allow anyone who is untrained to operate the forklift.

Finally, here’s a Sample Performance Test for Forklift Operators for reference to monitor your employee forklift drivers.

Minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events before they happen. That’s what Risk Management is all about.

-JK

Disaster Preparedness For Businesses

Did you know that:

  • Only 26% of small to medium-sized businesses have disaster recovery plans in place.
  • At least 40% of businesses affected by natural or man-made disasters NEVER re-open.
  • 53% of business owners never recoup losses incurred by disasters.

If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place for your business, call your current insurance broker for help, or contact me anytime for resources. Not only is your property insurance important, but you must be proactive with your risk management plans to mitigate loss.

Disaster Preparedness-JK

 

Be Stocked and Ready For Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is a nationally recognized day celebrated on November 30th when millions of consumers spend billions of dollars at independent neighborhood shops and restaurants. In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, find out what every Main Street business owner needs to know and do to stay safe, grounded and be ready for the busy holiday season provided by Travelers Insurance Company.

Here are some nice resources provided by Travelers Insurance Company touching on the following risk management topics. Be sure to click on the links for each of these topics to learn more:

Store Safety Tips (Workplace Safety | Slips, Trips, and Falls | Fire Safety | Ladder Safety | Ergonomics)

Business Continuity (Why You Need a Business Continuity Plan | Create A Business Continuity Plan in Four Steps | Identifying Business Threats | Employee Communications and Considerations)

Supply Chain Management (Tips for Managing Your Supply Chain | Working With Overseas Suppliers | How To Identify Counterfeit Parts | Have An Inventory Backup Plan)

Cyber Threats (Employee Training | Cyber Safety Tips | Password Security | Business Continuity For Data Management | Incident Response Plan)

You can contact me for additional information or if I can help you in developing risk management plans for your business.

-JK

OSHA Releases 2013 Most-cited Workplace Violations

Fall protection was once again the most-cited workplace safety violation in OSHA’s annual top 10 violations list for fiscal year 2013. The whole list is as follows:

  1. Fall protection: 8,241 Violations
  2. Hazard communication: 6,156 Violations
  3. Scaffolding: 5,423 Violations
  4. Respiratory protection: 3,879 Violations
  5. Electrical – wiring methods: 3,452 Violations
  6. Powered industrial trucks: 3,340 Violations
  7. Ladders: 3,311 Violations
  8. Lockout/ tagout: 3,254 Violations
  9. Electrical – general requirements: 2,745 Violations
  10. Machine guarding: 2,701 Violations

The list was presented at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo in early October.

Take this opportunity to review your company’s safety policies and address any areas of weakness.

Contact me or your risk manager to find out more about how you can reduce worker injuries and keep your employees safe and healthy.

-JK

Insurance For a Men’s Retail Clothing Store

I spent some time this Saturday morning working up some insurance quotes and options for a new men’s clothing retail store opening this Fall in Laguna Beach (CA). We’re looking into property, general liability, and workers’ compensation insurance coverage for the store.

Retail Clothing InsuranceSince my brain is on the subject of insurance for retail clothing stores, i wanted to share a brief risk summary that you should think about if you own a retail clothing store.

Property exposures are limited, but if a fire should occur, the clothing provides a combustible fire load and is highly susceptible to water and smoke damage. Theft may be a concern if any of the items sold have high value. Appropriate security measures should be in place.

Crime exposures are from Employee Dishonesty and Theft of Money and Securities either from holdup or safe burglary. Employee dishonesty is controlled through inventory monitoring, control of the cash register, disciplined controls and division of duties. Theft prevention requires controls of monies kept in the cash drawers and regular bank drops.

Premises liability is always a concern in a retail exposure where the public comes to the premises. Floor covering must be in good condition with no frayed or worn spots on carpet and no cracks or holes in flooring. Sufficient exits must be provided and be well-marked, with backup systems in case of power failure. Dressing rooms must be well maintained and privacy carefully guarded. Shoplifting procedures must be fully understood and utilized by all employees.

Parking lots and sidewalks need to be in good repair with snow and ice removed, and generally level and free of exposure to slip and fall. If the business is open after dark, adequate lighting and appropriate security for the area must be present.

Products liability for this type of operation is normally low. Direct importing of clothes and tailoring can add to the exposure.

Workers compensation exposure is from lifting, which can cause back injury, hernia, sprain, and strain. What kind of training do employees receive, and what types of material lifting or conveying devices are used? If tailoring services are offered, injuries due to sewing and cutting injuries are possible.

Minimum recommended coverage:

Business Personal Property, Business Income, Employee Dishonesty, Money and Securities, Accounts Receivable, Computers, General Liability, Employee Benefits, Umbrella, Hired and Nonownership Auto, Workers Compensation. Many of these coverage’s can be included within a single Businessowners insurance policy.

Other coverages to consider:

Building, Leasehold Interest, Real Property Legal Liability, Forgery, Computer Fraud, Bailees Customers, Fine Arts, Employment Related Practices, Business Auto Liability and Physical Damage.

Have a retail clothing store and need some guidance on your insurance? You can contact me anytime to discuss. I’d be happy to help you out.

-JK

Source: Rough Notes, Inc

The Cost of NOT Buying Insurance. A True Story

Last week I got a phone call from a guy (a business owner) who sounded totally panicked. I could hear it in his voice immediately. Panicked about the need for workers’ compensation insurance. The conversation started casually,

“Um, yeah, we need a workers’ compensation insurance policy to cover our employees.”

We talk for a bit as I try to get an understanding of his current situation.

“Well it was something we kind of, um, overlooked over the past couple years.”

“Past couple years?” I ask. “So why are you suddenly looking for a policy now?”

Still no direct answer.

“Have you had any claims or losses in the past 3 years?” I ask.

I didn’t need to ask much more.

“Yes, I received notification from an attorney about a former employee of mine.”

The business, a retail bakery, received a letter from an attorney in the mail. It turns out a former employee who quit over a month ago dropped a bomb with a claim for cumulative trauma to the feet, back, neck, knees.

So here this business is at a point with a serious issue to contend with. They didn’t buy workers compensation insurance policy when they first hired employees. Their reasoning was they just didn’t want to incur the costs and figured this could never happen to them.

As an insurance resource partner, I hear this way too often from prospective clients trying to save money on insurance. Not just for workers compensation insurance either. This is for all lines of insurance like general liability, errors & omissions, property, etc.

Buying a workers compensation policy now will not do anything to help this business for a loss that has already occurred. You cannot buy a workers compensation policy with retroactive coverage. That’s like buying a health insurance policy after getting sick. This retail bread bakery is going to have deal with this claim on their own, without the support of insurance.

As if the day-to-day stress of operating a business isn’t enough, throwing this claim into the mix is sure to make things much more challenging from both a time and cost standpoint.

It doesn’t end here. In addition to handling this claim on their own, finding workers compensation insurance coverage at a reasonable cost moving forward with a standard carrier is going to be pretty much impossible. Any underwriter who sees a business with active employees and no insurance for over two years AND a claim?? No way. Costs now will be more than they would have ever paid if they secured insurance before they hired new employees.

Another potential problem this business could face is:

“It is a criminal offense for an employer to be unlawfully uninsured regardless of whether or not an employee is injured. California Labor Code Section 3700.5 specifies that it is a misdemeanor punishable by either a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, or both. In addition, the state issues penalties of up to $100,000 against illegally uninsured employers. If an employee is injured, the employer is responsible for paying all benefits and may be subject to additional liability.”

So I ask you business owners out there, are you avoiding buying insurance because you feel it costs too much? Are you one of those who think a loss will never happen to you?

Well I recommend you think again. If this scenario isn’t enough to get you to think twice, there’s probably not a whole lot more that will. Put yourself in this business owners shoes. How much do they wish now that they were paying a workers compensation premium over the past two years for a policy to help now when they need it most?

It will be interesting to see how things pan out for this business, but one thing’s for sure, this mistake could put them out of business for good depending on the ultimate severity of the claim.

Can you afford to not carry insurance? The cost of not buying it in some form or another could be the demise of your business and livelihood depending on the severity of a loss.

-JK

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