Effective Risk Management in the Office

While office work may not be as dangerous as many 'blue-collar' job sites, it has its own inherent risks.  The potential for injury still exists in an office workplace setting.  Work-place injuries can have catastrophic consequences throughout the business in the long run.  For example, it could cause a loss in production, possible raise in Workers' Compensation insurance premiums, and even out-of-pocket expenses.  Injured employees can put a serious strain on the workload distribution within the office.  As a manager/owner of a business, you would probably prefer to avoid paying overtime and/or hiring temporary employees to fill the workload gap.  To effectively manage risks in the office, a solid strategy is prudent.  

Here are three effective tips to make your office safer:

1.  Identify Risks

Simplest way to do this?  Take a walk around the office.  Watch out for objects that are slip, trip, or fall hazards.  Why is this important?  They are some of the most common causes of workplace injuries.  Here are some other hazards to look out for:

  • Exposed electrical cords

  • Loose Carpeting

  • Open Desk Drawers

  • Wet Floors

  • Inadequate lighting

You may also be eligible for a free safety analysis from your workers' compensation insurance carrier or the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).  Contact Cardinal Alliance Group to see what resources are available to you.  Once you've identified potential hazards, document them!  This protects your business in the event of an OSHA inspection or insurance review.

2.  Implement a Safety Program

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million nonfatal occupational injuries in the US in 2014.  An effective safety program can help businesses mitigate these injuries and their negative impacts.  Such programs typically include four elements:

  • Commitment- Management must pledge to make safety a priority throughout the company.  They should lead by example and work with the employees to make the workplace a safer environment.  This would include the creation, development, and implementation of specific safety initiatives.
  • Accountability- Employees should be involved in the development of a workplace safety program.  They would be helpful in identifying potential everyday risks and provide suggestions for mitigation of such risks.  A safety forum or an anonymous suggestion box is a great idea to have in this process.  Employees should be held liable for any violations of the business's safety policy.
  • Prevention- After potential risks have been identified, create a list of safety practices for each type of work that takes place in your business.  For example, if your business has a warehouse, a special type of ladder or forklift may be necessary to avoid height-related fall injuries.
  • Training- New employee orientation should involve risk prevention and safety training.  In addition, what new procedures have been introduced would also be included.  Training on office equipment is prudent as well to avoid injury.

3.  Promote a Culture of Wellness

It is also important to assess your office's efficacy on the promotion of employee wellness.  Many full-time employees in the US work longer than 40 hrs/week.  These long work days can take a toll on employee health and overall safety.  Wellness programs should be implemented that encourage healthy behaviors and promote a safe workplace environment.

These are just a few things that you could do to improve safety in your workplace.  Always collaborate with your employees to tailor policies specific to the office and their needs.  Effective safety initiatives will help to reduce risks to the organization as a whole and its employees.

 

Source: Property Casualty 360

 

E&O Insurance a MUST for Realtors

It's not uncommon for Realtors and related personnel of the Real-Estate field to find themselves intertwined in complex lawsuits due to circumstances they believed were totally unforeseen.

Buyers have filed complaints against Agents for various reasons, from failure to inform a buyer of a gruesome death in the home or office, or of other "pertinent" information, typically not as vulgar as the aforementioned...

Costs in legal battles, especially in Real-Estate cases are extensive and far-reaching, given the sheer value of homes and commercial properties. Luckily for agents (who might otherwise be exposed to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in fines and penalties), Insurance carriers offer "errors and omissions" policies or "E&O" to grant coverage to limit your liability in these circumstances.

Underwriters for these policies find claims relating to issues in property valuation, contract errors, escrow, structural or infrastructure issues, titling dilemmas, and mold infestation problems. Another extremely common situation arises when a Realtor is sued for failing to disclose the presence of a lien on a home or property, which binds the new owner to the previous owner's debts. Consider this protection a necessity, not unlike malpractice insurance for attorneys and surgeons. 

When an angry buyer files a lawsuit against a broker or agent for failing to disclose (something) they reasonably should have known, or for misleading the client, the client's liability is implicated and exposed. While E&O will usually cover a matter of this sort, these policies don't protect the Agent from intentional deceptive fraud. 

Coverage is typically available up to $1,000,000.00, but can be increased substantially higher or lower depending on the agent's annual revenue, as well as other concerns, including whether the individual is part of a larger Real Estate brokerage, or acts as a solo Agent. An average yearly premium can range from $500.00 to $1,500.00, but depending on location, can be much more (or less) costly. Some states require these policies; however, nationally, only around one-third to one-half of Realtors are covered, despite recommendations by state associations. 

While only ten to twenty-percent (20%) of Agents see a claim filed against them, the action is often enough to cripple the business, or effectively ruin the Realtor's main source of income. To place things into perspective, this is similar to driving a vehicle on a highway. While none of us wish for a car-accident, and even fewer of us expect finding themselves in an auto-wreck, you probably wouldn't want to accrue the risk of driving on public roads without auto-insurance. While the likelihood is uncommon, the stakes are high.

Comparing policies can be extremely difficult due to local and state regulations, as well as differences in the market per each region. As such, it's best to consult a knowledgeable Insurance broker to discuss your options so as to not fall-victim to a stripped-down, bare-bones policy or those with unnecessary "bells-and-whistle." We advise utilizing a broker to properly comb-through the fine print, and to explain the advantages and disadvantages of certain policies against others. Often, E&O policies vary greatly between one-another, and coverage differences between even neighboring states can be numerous. We do not recommend contacting a national carrier to purchase the "off-the-shelf" policy, just as you wouldn't pay $750,000.00 for a $500,000.00 property...

Don't be fooled by the assumption that because you're insured, you'll be taken advantage of by eager scam-artists, as in-fact, it's more so just the opposite. Living in a "sue happy" society, the litigious crowd has by now, learned the money often lies within those in a professional field who are uninsured. Cardinal Alliance Group recommends using a reliable brokerage to obtain a cost-effective E&O policy for any and all Real-Estate agents; saving $1,000.00 in a given year is simply not worth throwing your valuable reputation, as well as your financial well-being, down-the-drain.

If you're a member of the prominent Real-Estate industry, Cardinal Alliance recommends contacting us as soon as possible to discuss your options of a comprehensive E&O policy specifically targeted to Realtors and related personnel. Our expansive relationships with partner-brokerages and carriers offer us a unique edge for competitive rates, as well as Cardinal Alliance's individualized one-on-one client support, including claims assistance. 

Source:- Wall Street Journal

(855)-224-7890 : (855)-CAG-7890

40 W. High Street, Somerville, NJ, 08876

email: [email protected]

Insurance Carriers Enter the Arena of Cyber Warfare

A bundle package for total cyber security coverage has been released by national insurance carrier Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), allowing small and mid-sized companies to receive protection against data breach, ID theft, cyber attacks and extortion, electronic media fraud, and network security breaches. 

HSB designed the package to be underwritten for businesses averaging from $10,000,000 to $150,000,000 revenues, but has a cap of around $250,000,000. The carrier notes many of these services have been around since 2007 (data breach) and 2013 (cyber liability), but has never offered the package as a bundle for corporations until now.

HSB specializes in engineering & technical risk insurance, such as "breakdown" and inspection-related services, and has been a part of the Munich Re's Risk Solutions network since 2009.

Source - Insurance Journal 

(855)-224-7890 : (855)-CAG-7890

40 W. High Street, Somerville, NJ, 08876

email: [email protected]

 

Insurance Brokers vs. Agents: Which to choose & Why

Although people often use the terms "broker" and "agent" interchangeably, it's actually quite beneficial for you to know the difference, not to mention that retention of this valuable information will certainly make you the most-intelligent, most-revered speaker at the dinner table during the next upcoming holiday.

So what's the scoop?

Let's address AGENTS first. While the name sounds clandestine and borderline controversial, it's kind of just the opposite. In reality, there are two (2) types of agents. There's INDEPENDENT agents that work for multiple "carriers," that is the big guys in the insurance industry, and there's the CAPTIVE agents, that are literally controlled or "captive" by just one single provider.

Agents have 'administrative' liability, and therefore they're only responsible for accurate paper-processing. They have no obligation to you other than securing a transaction, and are generally apathetic should you need to file a claim; many don't mind if you become "trapped" in the system. 

Well that's frightening...So what's a broker?

Brokers are essentially independent agents on steroids (not actually, but figuratively). While agents may represent perhaps three (3) to six (6) companies, brokerages instead have relationships with upwards of ten (10) to as many as thirty (30) large-scale carriers. The greatest distinguishment, however, perhaps lies within the allegiance of the brokerage firm itself. Many brokers faithfully scan the market and utilize various carriers depending on the client's circumstances. However, many choose to transact business with the same carrier over-and-over, thereby essentially acting as an Agency, rather than as a brokerage. Our title, "Cardinal Alliance" addresses just this. Cardinal refers to paramount, and most superior, while Alliance implicates the word "allegiance;" in essence, one of our many slogans is "our greatest alliance is with you." 

Agents DON'T require licensing in most states, while brokers do, so brokers are arguably more likely to have a greater degree of specialized knowledge in any given area. Though agents may receive in-house training by one or two companies, the education standards are specifically tiered and targeted to the benefit of the company, rather than to expanding the knowledge base of the agent him or herself. 

Brokers have significantly higher liability, and therefore must analyze your business or required coverage to meet given standards, or risk losing their licenses...

How are they paid?

Similar to other fields in market-capitalist economies, both brokers and agents are compensated through a commission, often based upon the premium. BEWARE as many companies (both agencies and brokerages) may try to up-sell a package or policy that you might not actually need to create a higher profit for the agent. Cardinal Alliance Group does not engage in this process. In fact, if we offer you a package that may have increased premiums over previously-mentioned packages, it's most likely because our underwriters have justified a reasonable need for more coverage, and thus, sometimes a slightly higher premium.

What is C.A.G.? 

Cardinal Alliance Group is an extremely-Independent Brokerage, and through our vast network, we've established relationships with literally dozens of large carriers, as well as other brokerages, to ensure the best-suited, most-fitting policy for you, your family, and your business. 

Brokerages, like C.A.G., allow for a one-to-one client-centric relationship, rather than a one-time "deal" through an agency. Brokerages are in theory supposed to advocate for their clients with numerous carriers to ensure the most coverage for their clients, as well as the best price, and while we can't promise you that other brokerages will act on your behalf, we do. Every-single-day.

 

Welcome to the Nation's Most Innovative Name in Insurance

 

(855)-224-7890 : (855)-CAG-7890

40 W. High Street, Somerville, NJ, 08876

email: [email protected]

Post-Blizzard Insurance Tips

A large portion of the country, mainly on the East Coast, was recently devastated by Winter Storm Jonas.  If you have been affected by the storm and have some sort of property damage, call your insurance broker ASAP!  To have "all your ducks in a row," it may be prudent to document the damage.  Taking pictures is always a great idea; this allows the claims process to run smoothly.  The insurance company will most likely ask you to complete a "proof of claim form."  DO NOT ignore this request.  The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends taking the following steps when filing an insurance claim:

Homeowner's and Renter's Insurance Claims:

  • Create a list of damaged/destroyed items and photograph or videotape the scope of the damage, as long as its safe.
  • Save your receipts from temporary repairs, as the insurance company should provide reimbursement.
  • If the damage to your home is so great, that remaining in it is not a possibility, notify the insurance company.  Many policies will pay for additional living expenses if you need to relocate.
  • If you have a mortgage on your home, the lender may hold on to the settlement check in an escrow account until it's time to pay the contractor to repair the damage to your home.

Flood Insurance

  • Fill out the National Flood Insurance Program Notice of Loss form within 60 days of the flood.
  • Take photographs and document any items that were damaged or destroyed before removing/moving  or repairing them.
  • Keep records of all bills.

Auto Insurance Claims

  • Review your policy with your insurance broker to figure out if your vehicle is covered.  Generally winter-related incidents are covered under the 'comprehensive' part of a policy.
  • Ask your agent or broker what documentation you need to support your claim (proof of claim form, police report, etc.)
  • Keep accurate records!

Sources: - Insurance Information Institute & Property Casualty 360

(855)-224-7890 : (855)-CAG-7890

40 W. High Street, Somerville, NJ, 08876

email: [email protected]

Uber Drivers - Think You're Covered?

Ride sharing is an integral part of our contemporary times, it seems, and you may feel safe riding in the steel chariots of these app-based services. While you may love them or hate them, as a passenger, you're protected...

So what about the driver, the pilot, the navigator, the chauffeur? (Not so much)...

While passengers are protected by Uber's policies at $1,000,000.00 for general liability and the same for uninsured persons, as well as injuries, the driver doesn't receive the same royalties. And yes, while $1,000,000.00 seems "exceptional" to some, recognize that lengthy hospital stays can run-up that cost in no time.

While the ride-sharing service expressed it'd pay for damage to the driver's vehicle or the driver him or herself, so long as he or she had a valid insurance policy, (with collision coverage). This is particularly interesting, as the driver probably won't have collision coverage... (oops).  

Essentially, ride-sharing app drivers are hung out to dry when it comes to insurance for their coverage, especially when a "route" hasn't been logged through the iPhone/Android-based application.  The biggest problem? Many insurance carriers have stipulations regarding commercial use of a vehicle.  In fact, not disclosing such use may result in the policy being dropped.  This becomes a reality when the driver is involved in an accident that results in a claim. 

Uber should seriously consider creating full coverage for their drivers actively using the app.  In other words, the entire time they are working.

The takeaway: If you ride as a passenger, you're probably OK. If you're a driver, or are considering becoming a driver for a ride-sharing service, contact your insurance broker before you sign on the dotted line.

Source: - Best Lawyers

 

(855)-224-7890 : (855)-CAG-7890

40 W. High Street, Somerville, NJ, 08876

email: [email protected]