Tag Archive | ISU- The Olson Duncan Agency

Sharefest Annual Workday 2013

This past Saturday, a few of us from my office, ISU-Olson Duncan Insurance, participated in the Sharefest annual workday. Special thanks to my wife Joanelle for joining us.

Sharefest Community Development is an organization dedicated to creating an imprint of lasting positive change in the South Bay and Harbor areas of Los Angeles County. The organization partners with churches, businesses, civic leaders, schools, and residents.

Sharefest’s annual workday is a community building day where thousands of volunteers are mobilized into the community to work on projects designed to meet tangible needs. Volunteers paint, clean, plant, refurbish, and beautify schools, parks and public facilities all at no cost to recipients.

Our job for the day was sanding and re-painting classroom doors at Jane Addams Middle School in Lawndale.

Here are some pictures from the day:


Small Business Insurance with The Hartford

Working as a broker, I work with a lot of different carriers on behalf of my clients to place their business insurance. One of the major carriers that I work with is The Hartford, an AM Best A (Excellent) XV ($2B or Greater Financial Size) rated carrier. The Hartford’s a great carrier to work with if you have a small business.

Interested in what they have to offer? Contact me anytime to discuss. Maybe we can find you something competitive backed by great coverage.

Here’s a new  video featuring their focus on small businesses insurance.


Office Waterfall

I can across this picture on Reddit today of an office getting pounded by water from a pipe burst in the ceiling:

Looking at this picture, I’ll guarantee you this business didn’t expect Niagara Falls to be suddenly pouring through their ceiling on this day.

Which leads me to the topic of insurance.

Insurance is intended to cover sudden and unexpected losses like burst pipes and fires among other things.

I talk to all different types of businesses on a weekly basis about their insurance. From offices to stores, manufacturers to distributors, and everything in between. A common  sentiment I get when discussing coverage’s is, “I don’t need that, it’ll never happen to me.”

Let’s hope this business didn’t skimp out on insurance to save money thinking this would never happen to them. Not only is there a major property loss, but what about the downtime and all the intangibles you don’t even think about that result from a loss. What if you’re the business located downstairs?

The point is, a loss can happen to anyone, anytime. Be prepared. Be proactive, not reactive. A loss to this magnitude can put you out of business for good if your don’t have the proper risk management tools in place. Don’t wait to learn the hard way.


15 Signs of Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud

Workers’ compensation fraud costs the insurance industry roughly $5 billion each year, according to estimates by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. And depending on whom you ask, fraud accounts for as much as 10% of the costs of all workers’ comp claims.

With the tougher economic times, particularly as lay-offs mount, we’ve definitely seen a trend in our agency of work-related injuries for a variety of manufactured reasons, such as for an injury that occurred on personal time.

Look for these tell-tale signs of potentially fraudulent claims. Usually one of these items alone is not enough to point to fraud, but if you have two or more of these signs, it could suggest a problem.

1. Late reporting. If you have an employee who suffers a legitimate on-the-job injury, they will generally report it right away. This may not always be indicative of a fraudulent claim, though, because sometimes the true effects of an injury may not be known until the following day.

2. The Monday morning claim. If the injury allegedly occurred on Friday, usually late in the day, but did not get reported until Monday, there is reason to suspect there might be a little more going on than meets the eye. The logic is that the employee likely suffered an injury over the weekend and does not want to pay for it themselves if they lack health coverage, or if they don’t want to foot the bill even for their health coverage deductible.

3. Lack of witnesses. Often your employees won’t be working in a solitary environment and there ought to be somebody on your staff who witnessed the accident. Still, not every claim has a witness and this should not be used solely to determine fraud.

4. Sketchy details or conflicting descriptions. Most claimants can recall the details of their injury. If the claimant seems to be fuzzy on the details and gives vague responses to questions, it could be a warning sign. Also, if the employee’s description of the accident conflicts with the medical history or First Report of Injury, there may be a problem. This could arise if, upon further investigation, the employee keeps changing the story and adding or removing pertinent information – a good reason to suspect it to be a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim.

5. Disgruntled employee. A disgruntled employee is more likely to place fraudulent claims than an employee with high job satisfaction.

6. Financial hardship at home. Workers’ compensation benefits are sometimes seen as a way out of a tight financial situation at home. Although temporary disability benefits are lower than normal working wages, the worker could use the time to “double dip,” that is, take on extra work when they are supposed to be at home recovering from the alleged injury.

7. Hard to reach. This ties in with number six. If this occurs every time the claimant is called, there is a possibility of fraud.

8. Misses medical appointments. If an employee is truly injured, they want to get better and will make sure to go to all medical appointments. Missing appointments is another reason to suspect fraud.

9. Employee is engaged in activities at home that are not consistent with the injury. If your employee reported a back injury and other employees find that he is playing softball on the weekends or renovating his yard, there is a good reason to suspect fraud.

10. Employment change. The employee reports the injury right before or after being laid off, near the end of a contract job or near the end of seasonal work.

11. Post-termination claims. If an employee files a claim after being laid off or fired, red flags should pop up.

12. Frequent moves and changes. The claimant has a history of frequently changing physicians, addresses and places of employment.

13. History of claims. If the claimant has filed suspicious or litigated claims in the past, they could be a person who feeds off the system.

14. Employee refuses treatment. There should be no reason that a legitimately injured worker refuses a diagnostic procedure to confirm the nature or extent of an injury.

15. Rigorous hobby. If the injured worker has a pastime that could cause an injury similar to the alleged work injury, the claim could warrant further investigation.

Remember, if you suspect fraud, you should talk to your broker or the insurance company claims representative to alert them. All insurance companies are required to have special investigations units that look into claims fraud. It benefits both you the employer and the insurer if the insurance company investigates and uncovers a fraudulent claim.

If the insurer suspects fraud, they can reject the claim and report their suspicions to the local district attorney’s office and the Department of Insurance.

Credit:  Atlas General Insurance Services

Business Income Insurance – Coverage to Help Keep a Business Running

When disaster happens, a business may need to close temporarily. And when closed, that means loss of income.

Loss of income is one of the main reasons most businesses don’t reopen after a serious loss. Expenses don’t suddenly go away. In fact, they may spike significantly. Without revenue, it can be difficult for a business to survive.

Business Income insurance helps keep the capital flowing when a businesses doors are shut  temporarily and indefinitely after a loss.

With business income insurance, you are reimbursed for revenues lost during downtime when your property is damaged by fire, theft, vandalism or a natural disaster. Business income will also reimburse for expenses incurred to minimize the suspension of business operations, such as rent paid for a temporary office while the damaged property is being repaired.

What’s more, options might include coverage for business interruption resulting from:

  • Loss of off-premises utility services, including water, communication or power
  • Loss to a dependent property, such as a major supplier or customer
  • Electronic vandalism for business conducted over the Internet
  • Food contamination in restaurants and food service businesses

Business income coverage is usually included under a property insurance policy, but you should double-check that you have this and understand what the terms of the policy form are. If you have a Businessowners insurance policy, business income insurance will most definitely be included under the policy.

Source: The Hartford

Firefighter Helmet Camera

Check out this video which shows a first-hand point-of-view of a firefighter fighting an interior fire of 2 story residential structure.  Pretty cool perspective.


CA Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill 183)

Pay close attention if you own an apartment building or dwelling.

Effective January 1, 2013 building owners of dwellings will be required to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors, in addition to smoke detectors.

The law is called the “Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act”, California Senate Bill 183. It requires building owners to install and maintain carbon monoxide (“CO”) detectors in all dwelling units before January 1, 2013. Such devices must be designed to detect carbon monoxide and to sound an alarm. They must be installed outside each sleeping area or bedroom and each level of every unit and would require that the devices be operable at the time the tenant takes possession of the unit.

Senate Bill 183 requires a tenant to notify the landlord if the tenant becomes aware that the device is inoperable or deficient and would require the landlord to correct the reported inoperability or deficiency. A landlord is not in violation if he/she has not received the notification from the tenant.

The new law does not eliminate the requirement for smoke detectors; that is, both smoke detection and carbon monoxide detection devices are required.

Information is available on the internet regarding the new law, and you can see the actual law HERE.

If you haven’t already done so, it is suggested that you install carbon monoxide detectors as soon as possible to your building if you own one. These detectors are readily available at many local retail outlets and internet sellers.


Water Damage Exclusions On A Property Insurance Policy

In my last blog post, I shared information on the water damage loss a client of mine suffered the week of the 4th of July.

Water damage claims can be tricky. Here’s what you need to understand about water damage when it comes to insurance coverage.

When your building and/or its contents have suffered water damage, it’s never a good situation. It’s more prone to happen if you have not been properly maintaining your building. Probably the two biggest characteristics of the building that apply to water damage claims are the roof and plumbing. If you have ever purchased property insurance for a building you own, or a space you lease, you are asked what year the building was built. If it’s over 25 years in age, insurance carriers typically want to know when the last renovation or update was made on the roof and plumbing, as it can affect your contents and the likelihood of water damage.

The property insurance policy defines water damage as “accidental discharge or leakage of water or steam as the direct result of the breaking or cracking of any part of a system or appliance containing water or steam.”

What could this mean for you? Assume for a minute that the gutters on your building are rusty and water is not being properly diverted off your roof. A rainstorm pushes water through the weakened area into your roof. Water leaks under the eaves, into your walls and starts to pool. And because it was over a weekend, your desk is now an island in a small lake. This damage is not covered by your insurance because it is due to improper maintenance, not a sudden and unforeseen event.

You should also know that flood, including the “accumulation of surface water, waves, tides, tidal waves, overflow of streams or any other bodies of water, or their spray, all whether driven by wind or not” are NOT covered under a property insurance policy. You must have a separate flood insurance policy in place to protect your business from these perils.

A general rule of thumb is water rising from the ground up is generally not covered by property insurance, unless you have your policy endorsed to include sewer or drain backup.

If in doubt about whether you’re covered or not for certain aspects of water damage, contact your agent or broker to discuss.


Nasty Water Damage Loss; Insurance Claim

Upon returning to my office last Thursday morning after the July 4th “holiday”, we received a call from a client who returned to their office after the day off, only to find every square inch of their floor covered by 2-3 inches of water.

At first glance, they weren’t overly concerned about what they saw, but as they entered the building, they realized this was a severe loss for them. It turned out the sink in the break room had been building up pressure which caused the faucet head to shoot like a rocket across the room knocking a 5-inch wide hole through a wall and sprayed water like a fountain throughout the office for over a day.

The phones had been knocked out, employees couldn’t enter the building, and the entire office was under water. They needed help, fast.

We immediately called the claim in to the carrier and contacted a damage restoration company to get in there to begin cleaning up the mess. The restoration service company ended up spending the entire day Thursday sucking up the thousands of gallons of water.

On Friday morning, I visited my client’s premises to check it out and meet with the carrier claims adjuster, plumbers, contractors, and my client.

Here are some pictures of the damage:

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The good news is insurance coverage is in place to help with this loss. Not only are the repairs being made, but there is business interruption coverage and the carrier found a temporary office to relocate our insured while their office is being repaired. In a conversation I had with our client, they told me they see the value of their insurance more now than they ever had. Unfortunately, there are many businesses out there who don’t see the value of carrying insurance, thinking issues like this will never happen to them. And when it does, they learn the hard way. With a six-figure loss like this, would your business survive without insurance?

10 Good Questions To Ask About Business Auto Insurance

On any given workday, you may have employees on the road operating a variety of vehicles. Whether you provide company vehicles or your employees use their own vehicles, commercial auto insurance is a must.

Commercial/ business auto insurance provides coverage for cars, trucks and vans used by you or your employees for business purposes. Your business vehicles are not covered by your businessowners policy or personal auto insurance, so you must buy a separate policy.

When shopping for the right coverage for your business, here are ten good questions to ask about business auto insurance:

1. Is coverage mandatory for a business that uses vehicles?

Yes. Just like with personal auto insurance, it’s against the law to drive a vehicle without insurance to cover injuries or damage to others that an employee causes as a result of a car accident.

2. Is Business Auto Insurance better than Personal Insurance?

Business Auto coverage is similar to the coverage you may carry on your personal auto policy; however, business auto exposures can be more complex requiring specialty coverages to be considered based on individual business needs.

3. How do I find out about what’s out there?

The most effective way to compare rates and coverage available to you is through an independent agent or broker. They should be able to point you to the right type of policy based on the type of business you have and how you use your vehicles.

 4. What can I do to influence the premium I pay?

The best ways to keep rates down is to make sure that you’re a safe driver, hire and employ safe drivers and use less expensive vehicles for your business.

5. What factors impact the premium I pay for Business Auto Insurance?

Insurance premiums can be affected by everything from the type of business you operate, to the type of vehicles you own; to the radius you operate your business in, and the driving records of yourself and your employees.

6. What is the reputation of the insurance company?

Make sure you do the research before moving forward with a Business Auto policy. Ask your insurance representative or go online to answer questions like — Do they have a long history? Are they reputable? Do they know your business?

7. What extra benefits are added onto the policy without additional cost?

Every insurance company is different. So make sure to ask about extra benefits when shopping around, because they could prove useful when an accident happens and save you money in the long run.

8. Does coverage vary state to state?

It definitely can. Each state has its own rules and regulations that can affect rates and types of coverage that an insurance carrier can make available to your business.

9. Are all my employees covered by my Business Insurance policy?

They should be, but there are exceptions. This is a very important question to ask when you’re shopping around for the best Business Auto policy.

10. How does the claims process work?

The process usually includes reporting an accident to both the police and your insurance company, assessing the damage, and working with a claims handler. When selecting an insurance carrier, be sure to ask about any benefits they offer in the event of an accident, like a network of repair shops where the work is guaranteed as long as the vehicle is leased or owned.

Source: The Hartford 

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