Using Loss Data to Reduce your Workers Comp Cost

This is claims data on Workers Compensation in Oklahoma provided by Professional Insurors Business Insurance in Oklahoma City.

Using claims and loss data can be a helpful tool in reducing your future workers compensation losses.  Two types of forms that are readily available are your OSHA logs and your Loss Runs or Claims Reports from your Insurance Carrier.  
If you maintain your OSHA log year round, as required, it’s a great tool to provide you with information on where your claims are coming from.  It will give you dates, job titles, types of injuries, and days away from work.   The OSHA 301 will contain even more detailed information.  You can combine this with the Insurance company loss runs to obtain a good amount of information to track and trend.  I recommend an accident investigation form be used that contains all the needed information to complete all of your forms after an injury.   There are also several online OSHA tracking programs such as OSHATrac.com  and OSHA300Online.com  that will track your injuries and give various reports. 
If you have more than a few small claims, Insurance Carrier loss runs should be provided to you either quarterly or monthly.  The loss runs can be very basic so I would recommend asking the broker or carrier what reports are available.  Some will have very detailed reports available if you ask.  They will show many types of graphs and trends.  If your broker makes it hard for you to obtain this information, you could have the wrong broker.   In addition to trending, the loss runs will give you good information on what’s going on with the claim since the last loss run.  Look for changes in numbers such as paid (amounts already paid on a claim) and reserved (estimates of amounts expected to be paid on the claim) on all open claims.  We will discuss this in detail in another article.  
This information should be reviewed regularly by the CEO, HR Department, Safety Department, and Safety Committee.  They should all be looking at ways to improve your safety and prevent losses in the future by noticing trends.  An example might be that all claims in the certain department were from employees there under 1 year.  This would mean that they lack proper training and supervision and the training program could be altered to improve this situation.    
In addition to looking at past claims to identify a possible future claim, the claims information can be used for actuarial analysis to predict future losses.  This is very important if you are under a partially self funded plan or in a captive because it will allow you to predict your claims numbers in the future.  The more data that is available, the better the analysis will be.  Some auditors may request or require this information when performing your annual audit. 

 

Employment Practices Liability Insurance

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Employment Practices Liability Insurance, commonly referred to as EPLI insurance, is an additional insurance coverage business owners can purchase to protect themselves from lawsuits brought against them by a former, current or possibly even future employees. The type of claims that could be brought or alleged against an employer would be for discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, whistleblower retaliation, compensation disputes or other employment claims such as libel and slander. There are times when Employment Practices Liability Insurance can be extended to cover claims made by third parties such as customers and vendors. All EPLI policies will pay for the defense costs associated with a claim, however it is important to know whether defense coverage is inside or outside the limits of insurance because there are exclusions in every policy. For example, compensation disputes, also called Wage and Hour claims, are sometimes limited to defense cost only (sometimes sub limits apply) meaning you as the business owner are responsible for any award the court may grant the plaintiff.

Why You Need It

EPLI claims are becoming a growing trend in our very litigious society. In fact, according to the majority of research information available, a business owner is more likely to have an EPLI claim brought against them than they are a General Liability or Property claim. That seems astonishing to most of us that live in Oklahoma due to all the catastrophic weather related claims we see each year. However, the studies conducted show that workplace related lawsuits are vastly more frequent than others. The lawsuit award amount is staggering to say the least. According to Liabilityinsurance.org, the average out-of-court settlement for an EPLI claim is about $40,000. If the case actually goes to trial, the average award amount is $218,000, and nearly 10% of these cases can result in an award of more than $1,000,000. Liabilityinsurance.org also states that the average cost to defend a wrongful termination or employment case is about $45,000, if not more. Most of the research I read elsewhere agrees that over 40% of plaintiff verdicts ranged between $100,000 and $500,000. If a business owner doesn’t have an EPLI policy or is not independently wealthy, how could they afford to stay in business after paying for the defense and award? If you look further than the tangible cost associated with these claims and look at it from a risk management standpoint, what else could be hindering your growth? A discrimination lawsuit could impact your day to day operations due to the loss of productivity and/or morale with the rest of the staff. It could also cause another physical loss to the company by having to pull an employee from their job due to the alleged offense. Purchasing EPLI insurance transfers the risk of such claims to the insurance carrier and allows you to focus on your business.

What It Doesn’t Cover

There are exclusions in every policy and I would encourage you to take the time and read them so you have a better understanding of what is NOT covered. EPLI policies typically will not pay out for items that are covered elsewhere in a policy or on a different policy such as bodily injury, property damage, workers compensation or insurance benefits. Also, intentional acts such as assault and battery or criminal conduct are excluded. In addition, since most policies limit coverage for Wage and Hour lawsuits. You should consider having an HR Risk Assessment done to limit this potential claim.

Moving Quickly when a Claim Strikes

Professional Insurors Business Insurance offers this tornado insurance for Oklahoma.

The #1 question is “Will you make more money in the long run by getting back in business faster?”  The answer is always yes.  Of course, you pay for insurance to cover catastrophic events, that’s what it is for.  But moving quickly and giving a little to get a little will put you back to making money the way you know how.  And you might just catch a competitor slipping in the process. 

The idea is simple.  A catastrophie hits, let it be a tornado, hurricane, whatever.  Your business is a victim.  It’s a race at this point.  Get on the phone with the insurance company, get the adjuster out there immediately.  In business, everything is negotiable, so when the adjuster gets out there, begin the negotiations.  Push the process, push the agent, and push the insurance company.  The reason for all of this is your business will be back up and running while your competitor is still waiting to hear from the insurance company.  Therefore, you might just grab a few of their clients since you are back up and running. 

Below is an article from Risk and Insurance that tells a story of this situation.

http://www.riskscenarios.com/risk_scenario/paying-back-the-viking

Cyber Nightmare

Emerging Risks 

Cyber Liability Insurance - Professional Insurors Business Insurance OKC.

Data Breach or “Cyber Crime”

 As a Commercial Risk Advisor, I am seeing numerous stories and articles related to a new Emerging Risk that is affecting thousands of businesses and millions of people across the world.  What could a risk of this magnitude be you might be wondering?  The answer is Data Breach or Cyber Crime.  This has become such a problem that the cost of loss is the highest in history at around $5.5 million and climbing.  This type of risk comes in many forms such as viruses, internet fraud or identity theft, to name a few.  The hackers are becoming more deviant and savvy about how they attack organizations sensitive information.  One article indicated that a company overseas did not even know their system had been breached for nearly 7 months!  That is a long time for unwanted criminals to be inside a large organizations database collecting personal information.  A growing concern now is the amount of employees inside the organizations that are helping these criminals breach databases and assisting in their crime.  According to DataBreach Today.com, in 2011 the FBI charged 22 individuals in California for stealing $8 million from three large banks.  The individuals charged were either inside prison orchestrating the crime or worked for the banking institutions themselves.  That type of risk is very hard to catch even with the best security measures in place simply because employees will know their way around the system.  On October 3, 2012, Nationwide Insurance Company of Columbus, OH and Allied Insurance experienced a data breach and it affected 534 Oklahomans.  The compromised information included social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birthdates and even their marital status.

In Germany, crime statistics compiled by the police indicate that about 60,000 cases of cybercrime were recorded in 2011.”  These are alarming statistics being released and as business owners and citizens we should be very concerned with the safety of our personal information and how it could affect the business itself due to such a loss.  If a person experiences identity theft they only have 90 days to dispute the charges, file police reports and resolve the crime.  If the theft goes unnoticed by an individual for more than 90 days, the debt becomes theirs to pay off.  Now let’s think about this for just a moment.  If a major organization doesn’t even notice they have been breached for 7 months, how would one individual know they are a victim within 90 days?  That means it is time to start being vigilant about this risk and protecting yourself, your business and your clients.   


Risk Management of Data Breach

What You Can Do

 An article posted on Entrepreneur.com in April 2010 reports the Federal Trade Commission posted these 5 steps you can take to help prevent a data breach.

 1.  Take Stock- know what information you’re keeping, how far back it goes and which records qualify as sensitive.

 2.  Scale Down- Only collect those pieces of data that you really need to make your business more efficient.  Do not store credit card numbers you don’t need or make the clients give their social security number as an identifier unless absolutely necessary. 

 3.  Lock it- Keep physical records in locked boxes and secure locations and digital records must have safeguards. 

 4.  Pitch it- Information such as paycheck stubs, bills and investment records etc. should only be kept for one full year.  After a year, get a shredder and shred the information.

 5.  Plan ahead- Prepare for the worst.  Put an action plan in place for how you will handle a data breach. 

 A risk such as this does not discriminate on the size of the business.  No business is too small or too large to be a victim.  Criminals don’t care where they get the information or how much they do get, as long as they achieve their goal.  As a Commercial Risk Advisor, I strive to advise you on these types of risks and how they could impact your business.  There is a financial risk due to these types of crimes.

With that information now being known, take the appropriate steps to minimize your exposure. First, I would consider is purchasing a Crime Policy and a Cyber Liability policy.  These polices can be called numerous other names such as Technology Liability, Data Breach Liability or Computer Fraud, to name a few.  It is very important that you are covered for your financial loss as well as the third party’s financial loss.  These policies are very inexpensive especially if you compare the numbers to what an actual loss could cost a company.

Insurance is about bringing you back to whole after a loss.  Risk Management is about being proactive, minimizing your risks and having strategies in place to make you more prepared to handle risks as they surface.  Make sure that you can recover from this widespread and now worldwide threat.  Educating yourself is crucial in protecting yourself.  The more you know, the better you will be protected.  There are other numerous ways that we can help you discover your risks and implement the best plan of action for you and your growing business.        

Traveling Abroad on Business

Professional Insurors provides this commercial insurance solution.

Below is a great article from Risk & Insurance magazine relating to traveling abroad while on business.  A good story for Oklahoman's with regards to the oil & gas industry. 

 

The steel door to the jail cell in the Mexican town of Tuxpan closed with a jarring “clank”.

On the other side, a police captain walked away, coughing once, before moving out of sight.

For the moment, Ernie Herrerra, a field engineer for a Fresno-based oil exploration company, was alone in that jail cell. He was alone and in acute pain.

He knew, above all else, that he had to stay calm.

He had to think, he had to. But it had all happened so quickly.

He felt like he was in a dream, but it wasn’t a dream. The throbbing in the back of his neck made that all too clear for him.

Ernie had just finished a day working with core sampling crews in the Mexican state of Veracruz. There were three crews in action, probing for the kind of crude find that would make his company and its business partner, a major multinational energy conglomerate, very happy.

It had been a long, hot day, driving dirt and gravel roads, visiting the test sites, talking to the drilling teams, gathering data for his report back to headquarters.

He was finished, driving down from the foothills to his hotel room in the town of Tuxpan, when he saw a jeep barreling towards him on the mountain road.

Ernie had almost no time to react before the jeep was on him; four young men, joyriding from the looks of it. Too late, the driver saw Ernie’s SUV.

The other driver overcorrected first one way, then, overcorrected the other way.

With the driver laying on the brakes, the jeep skidded head-on into the front of Ernie’s vehicle. It was going about 35 mph when it hit Ernie.

Even though he saw it coming, Ernie was whipsawed by the impact.

Lights flashed behind his eyelids as his head was thrown back against his headrest and then tossed forward into the deploying airbag. The force of the backward motion was so severe that Ernie heard something crack and felt a jolt of pain run through his upper neck and the back of his skull.

In intense pain, Ernie wasn’t sure if he should even move.

What he could see inside the jeep was harrowing. One of the passengers in the backseat was convulsing from what looked like a serious head wound. The driver was unable to move, seemingly pinned into his seat by the wrecked steering wheel.

One of the uninjured passengers was trying to tend to his badly injured friend in the back seat. The other uninjured passenger pulled out his cell phone and dialed feverishly.

Panic overwhelmed the scene as it appeared the severely injured young man in the back seat could be in his death throes

From the snippet of the cell phone conversation that Ernie was able to catch, it sounded like the uninjured passenger was talking to the police and blaming Ernie for the accident.

The Tuxpan police chief himself soon arrived, accompanied by an ambulance squad.

The squad was too late for the poor boy in the back seat of the jeep. He was motionless and not breathing.

As emergency crews worked to safely extricate the driver of the jeep, the uninjured passengers, apart from consoling each other, were on their phones, breaking the horrible news to the relatives of the deceased passenger.

Shocked as he was by the death of the young passenger, and weakened by his own injury, Ernie could never have been prepared for what happened next.

The police chief questioned him, asking if he had been drinking and whether he was speeding when the accident happened.

Next he asked for proof of financial responsibility.

“You mean Mexican auto insurance?” Ernie said.

“Responsibility, proof of financial responsibility!” the chief said to him in Spanish.

Ernie panicked a little, and didn’t grasp what the chief was asking for. He had just grabbed a co-workers’ SUV to get back to his hotel room and had no idea what sort of coverage, if any, had been purchased.

“No,” was all he said, repeating it three times to the insistent chief.

“It’s illegal, your driving here,” the chief said. “You are under arrest.”

The chief took Ernie’s cell phone and practically dragged him from the SUV, even though anyone could tell that Ernie had a serious neck injury.

Ernie felt that if he was moved at all without neck support the consequences could be dire.

Ernie was bilingual, had to be for this assignment. But that did him no good with this police chief.

 

Ernie told him he felt he was seriously injured and shouldn’t be moved. Ernie had to grind his teeth together to fight the pain when they threw him into the police cruiser and took him to this jail cell at the police station.

Now, in the cell, Ernie realized just how vulnerable he was. He had no cell phone, and even if he did, he was totally unprepared for this situation.

He had never been given any information on legal or medical assistance should he be injured or incarcerated in a foreign country.

He wracked his brain. He was young, only 32, and had a pretty good memory. There was nothing about this in the employee handbook that he could remember.

He had been briefed on the risks of foreign travel, but he felt given his health, his innate common sense and his language skills that he’d be okay no matter where he went.

There was no one in the country he could have called besides a drilling engineer, even if he had a cell phone. What had seemed like a manageable situation was now revealed for what it was, a nightmare in the making.

Most of his conversations with supervisors before he boarded the plane in Sacramento focused on communication protocols, cyber security for the highly valuable data he would be sending to headquarters and to the company’s partners in Houston on the potential for big oil finds.

As far as protection for him, any kind of safety net, there was none. His neck hurt, but his brain was going numb with the enormity of it all.

Ernie’s accident happened on a Friday afternoon. It took 48 hours for his geology team members to put together that he was missing.

No one at Ernie’s hotel knew where he was. The team tried local hospitals, fearing he’d fallen ill or been injured. They discovered nothing.

“You think he could have been arrested?” one of the team members said.

“Doubt it,” said another. Ernie was such a straight arrow.

But sure enough, when they went to the Tuxpan police to file a missing persons report, that’s where they found Ernie.

Ernie eventually got a visit from one of his team members, an oil geologist, in jail. The geologist called headquarters and told executives there that Ernie was in custody.

 

In the meantime, Ernie’s superiors had been able to convince local contacts for their industry partners that Ernie needed to be released from jail immediately on medical grounds.

Four days after the accident, and still with no pain killers in him, Ernie is transported by federal police to Veracruz, where an X-ray reveals that he sustained a fractured cervical vertebrae.

Ernie is on a plane to San Diego, his neck in a brace, and finally medicated, when the recognition of his company’s failure to provide him with adequate insurance, and by extension adequate medical and legal assistance in a foreign land, begins to dawn on him.

“There is no way I should ever have been in that position,” he says to himself as he pops another extra strength pain killer. The more he thinks about it, goaded by the pain he is in, the angrier Ernie gets.

When Ernie lands, he calls his buddy Mike Flaherty, with whom he attended undergrad at the University of Arizona.

Mike is now an attorney specializing in employment law and international business.

“I mean am I missing something here? Did this company leave me exposed unnecessarily?” Ernie asks Mike.

“I’m in a foreign country and I spend four days in jail with a broken neck. Literally, a broken neck,” Ernie says.

“I think they have a liability there,” Mike said. “The local car rental companies in Mexico can only give your company so much in coverage, about $55,000,” he said. “Your company should have known that and made more coverage available to you.”

“With that one passenger dying and the injury to the other, your company could be looking at a serious liability and I’m not even taking into account your pain and suffering,” Mike said.

Mike sees Ernie’s case as an open and shut instance where a company failed to adequately protect an employee traveling in a foreign country.

Ernie is seen by a specialist upon his reentry to the United States in San Diego. The specialist determines that the failure to immobilize Ernie’s neck when he was first injured, and the fact that he endured four days in that state with no relief, have added to the possibility that Ernie will suffer a permanent weakness in his neck.

 

Ernie was happy to have gotten the job he had. He viewed the oil industry as an exciting place, where a young engineering graduate could travel and make a good living. But the way the company let him down in Veracruz he could not let stand.

“Ernie, can we talk?” the executive who recruited him said in one of several voice mails to Ernie that go unanswered.

Ernie just sat and listened to the voice mails.

“I’m done talking to you,” he said to the phone and to no one.

In addition to the costs of medical treatment and patient transportation within Mexico, Ernie’s company is facing a civil action from Ernie alleging that the company failed to adequately protect him while traveling in a foreign country.

The story of Ernie sitting in a stifling jail cell in a foreign country with a neck injury plays very effectively with a jury. The jury finds that the combination of a permanent injury with the pain and suffering that Ernie endured as a prisoner resulted in significant monetary damages.

His former employer, apart from losing a valuable employee, is now looking at significant premium increases next year, if it can get coverage at all.  The appropriate types and limits of insurance, as well as appropriate training of its employees may have let the oil exploration company and Ernie avoid much of this entire nightmare.

Summary

A failure to secure adequate amounts of in-country coverage and a lack of crisis preparedness adds up to major losses for an oil exploration company that sees a valuable employee injured in a foreign country.

1. Educate beforehand: As our story shows, the failure to educate an employee about the coverage network available to him and the full range of risks he could be exposed to in a foreign land could have dire consequences. Making sure an employee is briefed on how to protect himself during a crisis on foreign soil should be every bit as important as briefing him on the revenue-generating possibilities of the trip.

2. Know the coverage requirements in every jurisdiction: Different nations have different laws in place when it comes to the actions and legal rights of employees that are traveling on business. Our protagonist Ernie Herrerra was jailed because of a provision in Mexican law which requires a driver in an accident to show proof of financial responsibility or face immediate consequences.

3. Establish protocols for international travel crisis management: The time for creating well-understood protocols for managing a crisis on behalf of a traveling employee is before the employee gets on the plane, not after the crisis develops.  An entire crisis management safety net should have been constructed for Ernie Herrerra and wasn’t.

4. Purchase coverage at adequate limits: Is insurance coverage for an employee who travels internationally really the place to cut corners? It is oftentimes our most valuable employees that we trust with traveling to meet with clients or to explore other types of business opportunities. On the one hand, we want to protect these clients. On the other, these talented, top-tier performers, are the ones we can least risk alienating, or in this example, litigating against.

5. Do not lose contact: Perhaps the most frustrating piece of this story for the injured, traveling employee was that he lost contact with his company and his co-workers after his accident. If companies get one thing right in their crisis management plans they should make sure they know how to reach an overseas employee and have options for finding him or her if they drop out of sight.

My Property Insurance Deductible

Risk Management for Oklahoma business insurance clients provided by Professional Insurors Business Insurance OKC.

What does your deductible mean to you?

We are all familiar with our insurance policies having deductibles whether it’s for health insurance, auto and home insurance or commercial insurance.  In the past our standard deductibles (what we are most familiar to selecting) would range anywhere from $0-$2,500 for auto and home insurance, $250-$1,000 for health insurance and $1,000-$5,000 for commercial insurance.  Have you looked at your deductible in the last year?  Did you notice any changes to the deductible?

Right now in Oklahoma our deductibles vary greatly due to the catastrophic wind and hail losses we have sustained.  The loss amounts are in the billions of dollars for our state alone.  You might still see the above mentioned deductibles in your policy listed under “All Other Perils except Wind and Hail” and then you will see another deductible listed that states 1%-5% W/H (Wind and Hail) deductible.  What does that mean exactly?  That means that for a loss that is classified as a Wind and Hail loss, your deductible amount will be 1%-5% of the dwelling or building value listed on your declarations page.  For example, if the dwelling (house) is insured for $150,000 with a Wind/Hail deductible of 2% and you suffer a hail loss to your roof, your out of pocket portion for the claim would be $3,000.00.  Imagine what that figure would look like if your business was insured for $1.5 million and you had a deductible of 3% on wind and hail.  That’s a $45,000.00 deductible that you would be responsible for!  If you are a business owner that owns multiple locations, that deductible could apply to each location as well.  That is an amount that none of us would be happy about in the event of a loss.

As we get closer to 2013, we are seeing insurance rates and deductibles rise because of the catastrophic weather we have suffered across the nation and especially in Oklahoma.  Now is the time to really inform yourself on your coverage’s and deductibles and what they mean to your bottom line.  Taking a proactive role in risk management for your business and/or home insurance is imperative now more than ever.  There are many ways you can help reduce your hazards, and control your own premiums and coverage’s.  Talk to your agent and reach out to companies such as TCOR, Total Cost of Risk, for advice and direction for your upcoming renewal.  Even though we cannot prevent Mother Nature and across the board rate increases within the insurance companies, does not mean you can’t help control your own risks, coverage’s and deductibles.  Stay proactive and informed about your policy!   

Business Seminar Series - Top 10 Must Haves for your Employee Handbook - May 30th, 2012

Commercial insurance solutions from Professional Insurors Business Insurance OKC.

This class will examine why it is necessary to have an employee handbook, primarily focusing on the TOP TEN items that should be included in every effective handbook using supporting examples of case law. Attendees will learn what subtopics should be included in each item and will receive a sample EEO Statement and AntiDiscrimination   Policy for their practical application on the job.

  • Effective Handbooks

  • Latest Updates

  • Must-Have Policies

  • New Drug Testing Law

  • Sample Policies:

    • EEO Statement

    • Anti-Discrimination Policy

Class Taught by:

Laura Moxley, SPHR is Founder and President of Your HR Resource, a Norman-based human resources and benefits consulting company.

Your HR Resource specializes in Health Benefits, Employee Handbooks, Employee Relations, Compliance, Anti-discrimination training, Employee Complaint Investigations, and Payroll Administration. Laura has over 15 years of human resources experience serving much of that time as HR Director for a large privately held company. Laura earned a BA from the University of Oklahoma, has a Professional Certificate in Human Resource Management, and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) through the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is also a licensed health insurance producer.

Laura frequently speaks to groups on various HR topics and currently serves as Director of the Oklahoma State Council for Human Resource Management.

Laura also currently serves on the State Chamber HR Committee and the Governor's Council for Workforce and Economic Development. In 2010, Laura was named as one of "50 Making a Difference" by the Journal Record's Woman of the Year program. The program recognizes Oklahoma women for leadership in business and service to their communities.

 

 


Chris began his career at a Norman insurance agency in 1988 serving as a Branch Manager for 3 years. He joined Professional Insurors in 1995 as a Producer and became Vice-President in 2004, where he overseas human resources and agency operations & technology as well as continuing to manage his client accounts and grow the business.

Email | LinkedIn

Should my Company Consider a Captive Insurance Option?

Captive Insurance Option programs by Professional Insurors OKC.

There are several types of Captive insurance products available today.  If you are a Middle Market Customer (premiums over $150,000) it is something you should consider.  Other factors that make you a candidate:

  • Good Loss Ratio's over the last 5 years

  • Quality Safety programs in place

  • Profitable for most of the last few years

  • Entrepreneurial - you must risk "some" money to make some money

Typically these coverages can generally be placed in a captive or group captive:

  • General Liability

  • Workers Compensation

  • Commercial Auto

  • Commercial Property

You can also consider a Captive for a single line of coverage.  A good example of this is professional liability.  If you pay a high premium for this or have unfavorable terms (deductibles, and payment terms) you may want to consider a captive to insure some or all of this line of coverage or even to insure deductibles.

Professional Insurors Business Seminar Series

Business Seminars for help with Oklahoma Business Insurance.

New Hire Process - 1. 2. 3.

by Laura M. Moxley, SPHR

  • Basic Compliance requirements

  • Pre-employment paperwork essentials

  • Effective Offer Letters

  • Employment Screening Do's & Don'ts

  • Drug Testing Requirements

  • Purpose behind the Job Description

  • New Hire Paperwork Nuts & Bolts

Laura Moxley is Founder and President of Your HR Resource, a Norman-based human resources and benefits consulting company. Your HR Resource specializes in Health Benefits, Employee Handbooks, Employee Relations, Compliance, Anti-discrimination training, Employee Complaint Investigations, and Payroll Administration. Laura has over 13 years of human resources experience serving much of that time as HR Director for a large privately held company. Laura earned a BA from the University of Oklahoma, has a Professional Certificate in Human Resource Management, and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) through the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

She is also a licensed health insurance producer. Laura frequently speaks to groups on various HR topics and currently serves as Director of the Oklahoma State Council for Human Resource Management.

Laura also currently serves on the State Chamber HR Committee and the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development. In 2010, Laura was named as one of "50 Making a Difference" by the Journal Record’s Woman of the Year program. The program recognizes Oklahoma women for leadership in business and service to their communities.

BUSINESS SEMINAR SERIES - BY ATTORNEY CHRIS GRISWOLD

Professional Insurors Business Insurance provides business seminars with Chris Griswold.

Asset Protection

Business Seminar Series

  • The Purpose and "Big Picture" of the asset
  • Covering traditional asset protection methods, including entity formation.
  • Ineffective methods that give false sense of security.
  • Will multiple LLC's protect revenue streams?
  • How does this affect my Insurance in safeguarding assets?
  • Bolts of LLC's and Liabilities Involved.
  • Are Liabilities of Members protected?
  • Piercing the Corporate Veil-How safe am I?
  • How do Trusts fit into the equation?

Chris Griswold, P.C. was established in 2001 by Chris Griswold with the desire to provide top-notch legal services to the commercial real estate, energy and business communities. Chris has acted as corporate counsel for Fortune 500 companies including, Pier One Imports, J.C. Penney Corporation, and Wich Franchise, Inc. He has spent the majority of his career performing major commercial transaction work.

  • Member of the Oklahoma, Texas and AmericanBar Associations
  • Licensed in all Oklahoma and Texas state courts
  • Member of (ICSC) International Council of Shopping Centers
  • Member of Commercial Real Estate Council of Oklahoma City
  • Member of the Oklahoma CCIM Chapter
  • Member of the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council
  • OKCMAR REALTORS Commercial Alliance

Seating is limited!

When:  Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Time:   Registration - 8:30 am
Seminar time:  9:00 am - 11:00 am
Where: Professional Insurors Training Center
7301 Broadway Ext.
Suite 200
Oklahoma City, OK 73116

Cost:   $50 for Clients

$75 for Prospective Clients

Click here to Register Now or RSVP to Veda Christian  vchristian@pi-ins.com or 405-843-9191

Bonding...What is it?

bonding-services.jpg

I see quite a few contractors advertising they are "bonded and insured."  If someone is bonded, they are most likely a pretty good company.  Basically what bonding does is insure that the job gets done.  The most common type of bond is a performance bond.  Lets do an example. 

You are a subcontractor and want to bid on a relatively large commercial job and the GC or owner requires you to be bonded for that bid amount.  So you work up your bid and think it will be around a $100,000 job.  Well you now must have a performance bond that says you can complete that $100,000 job.  What the bonding company will do is ask for your financials, your job history, a list of your largest jobs, references, maybe some DNA, just kidding on the DNA.  Bonding companies are very thorough.  Basically they are assuring the GC or owner that you can complete the work you bid on.  If you were to bail out, and not complete the job, then the bonding company is on the hook to get it done.  Getting bonded is quite a process, so it benefits you to go ahead and complete the process before you ever really need a big bond.  It's like having a line of credit.  You didn't start out with a $500,000 line of credit, you probably started out with $25,000 and have built up to that larger amount.  Same thing with bonding.  You may not need a bond right now, but if you have it all set up and get the opportunity to bid a large commercial job, you aren't scrambling to get it done.

One last thing, you don't actually pay for the bond until you get the job.  So you aren't spending money to set this up for no reason.  However, for bonds over $250,000 you might incur some accounting expenses.  The bonding company will require CPA prepared financials.  But, if you are only shooting for a bond amount below $250,000 it should be very easy. 

My advice, even if you are not currently working big commercial jobs, go ahead and get the bonding process started.  That way when you are asked by one of your customers to bid on their new building project, you are ready to go. 

For more information on bonding, contact Sean Leigh.

Top 10 Workers Compensation Claim Handling Mistakes

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I know I have written several Work Comp related articles.  The reason is, I feel Work Comp is the biggest exposure for a claim in the landscape industry.  Also, typically it is the most expensive part of your insurance.  Below is an article from DIRT risk management.  The article gives a good understanding of how important handling work comp claims can be.

Mistakes are measured in time and dollars. Makes sure you avoid these 10 mistakes.

  1. Failure to Make a Timely Report of the Claim
  2. When claims are not reported timely the result is a loss of valuable time and information. When a report is received early the investigation is easier as memories are fresh and evidence is preserved.
  3. It also allows the claim representative to work with the medical provider to keep your injured employee working in a light duty capacity, thereby avoiding a lost time claim.
  4. Failure to Investigate at the Time of the Injury
  5. The injured worker’s immediate supervisor is the best investigator on a workers’ compensation claim. They typically have the most knowledge of the job and the closest relationship with the injured worker. This can be vital in determining if a reported injury is plausible or not. They may also have some insider knowledge about the worker’s extracurricular activities. All information that may impact the claim, including witnesses should be communicated to the claim representative immediately.
  6. Insufficient or Lack of Documentation of the Details of the Accident/Injury
  7. Keep complete and detailed notes throughout every step of an internal investigation. All statements should be written and signed. Take immediate steps to preserve evidence and secure the accident scene. Take pictures and make diagrams if appropriate.
  8. Losing Touch with an Injured Worker
  9. You damage your trust with your injured worker if you fail to stay in touch with them at the onset of the injury and provide information to them at how the claim is handled. Keeping the worker informed makes them feel comfortable with your organization and its motives. It also keeps the worker from feeling alienated and possibly retaining an attorney.
  10. Not Securing a Medical Release at the Time of Injury
  11. To avoid delays in obtaining medical records and delaying the compensability decision you should have the claimant sign a medical release, if possible, at the time of the injury.
  12. Not Having a Transitional or Modified Return to Work Program
  13. Companies with comprehensive modified work programs can minimize or eliminate lost-time claims by bringing and injured worker back to work sooner. It also helps the worker feel that they are valued by the organization.
  14. Identify activities that injured workers can do within your organization to bring them back as they heal and help your employees identify additional skills they possess to fulfill needs of the organization.
  15. Treating the Injured Worker and the Medical Provider with a Passive Attitude
  16. Pro-actively dealing with injured workers and doctors is the right approach to minimize your claim exposure. Develop a rapport between the provider, your organization and the injured worker to cooperatively bring the employee back to work successfully.
  17. Lack of Understanding about Workers’ Compensation in General
  18. Know the laws in the States where you do business. Some States allow the employer to direct care to a preferred occupational health clinic or doctor. When you can’t direct care, provide a panel list of doctors which the employee can choose from if they ask for treatment options.
  19. Hiring Unqualified Employees and Not Enforcing Proper Job Safety
  20. Make sure that employees are qualified and trained to safely perform the functions of their job. Regular employee safety training on the proper use of equipment and how to identify and deal with potential hazards will greatly reduce accidents.
  21. Provide clearly written safety rules and implement initiatives that promote and reinforce workplace safety. Document when an employee passes training course and other certifications. This information may be useful in the investigation and defense of a claim.
  22. Failure to Keep in Touch with the Claim Representative
  23. Form a partnership and work together to manage the claim and reach proper resolution of all issues. Ensure that there is agreement on targets for return to light duty, regular duty and completion of medical care.

When trying to control your organizations workers’ compensation claims it is imperative that the appropriate actions are executed promptly and correctly.

Managing your Work Comp cost is something that needs constant attention.  We can make sure that happens.  For more information, contact Sean Leigh.

Understanding the "Get me a Quote" Process

Professional Insurors Business Insurance provided this Oklahoma commercial insurance quote.

While many insurance agents may seem to provide quotes to customers with minimal information, there is high likelihood they are missing key coverage's.  Insurance companies are all different, however the one thing they have in common is they all like good information.  As an insurance agent it is my job to ask the questions that my insurance companies want to know.  Providing the insurance company with complete and accurate information will help tremendously in getting good pricing and good coverage.  Why would you want to pay for a policy that may not have the coverage you need?

Good information equals a good quote.  Take for instance a landscape company and a work comp quote.  There are different rates for lawn maintenance, landscape gardening and clerical.  It is important as a company to break these down by payroll in order to get the best overall pricing and coverage.  And for general liability purposes, it's important for the insurance company to know exactly what work you perform.  If you are simply doing lawn maintenance that's pretty easy.  However, if you install waterfalls, pools, outdoor kitchens, etc, your liability increases.  The reason for this is you have more exposure for something going wrong.  Now, if you as a business owner subcontracts these bigger jobs out, the insurance company wants to know if your subcontractors have their own insurance.  The reason for this is because if they don't have insurance, your general liability would be the one paying in the event of a claim. 

Insurance is transferring risk.  You as a business owner buy insurance to transfer your risk to an insurance company.  The insurance company wants to transfer the risk to your subcontractors insurance if possible.  For more information, contact Sean Leigh.

Purchasing Insurance is Simply Transferring Risk

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What is insurance?  It's a contract.  You are purchasing a contract to transfer your risk.  In that contract the insurance company agrees to pay in the event of a loss for whichever type of insurance you are purchasing, ie Auto, General Liabiltiy, Work Comp, Property, etc.  And when most people think of the cost of insurance, all they think about is the premium.  This is far from accurate. 

In a related article by a fellow Risk Advisor, Chris Moxley explains the Total Cost of Risk, outside of just the insurance premium.

Your TCOR (Total Cost of Risk) includes 3 major categories of Expenses:  Preventative Cost, Direct Cost, and Indirect Cost.  Together these equal your Total Cost of Risk.  Many people just think of their insurance cost alone but this is far from your total cost.  What is interesting is the cost you spend in one area can effect the amount you spend in another.  It is a proven fact that money spent in preventing claims or losses reduces your direct costs by several times the amount you spend.  Indirect costs are usually several times what the direct cost of a claim are so if you have some basic math skills, it doesn't take long to realize you should be spending more money in prevention of claims.  Here are some costs associated with each category that make up your Total Cost of Risk (TCOR):

  • Preventative - Safety & Risk Management, Pre-Employee Screening, Safety Equipment, Culture Management, Wellness, New Hire Training, salary of safety personnel & expenses, Personal Protective Equipment, Safety Meetings.
  • Direct- Insurance, Managed Care, OSHA Fines, Deductibles, Legal Expenses, Loss of Productivity post accident, Management time to administer Injury or attend hearings, Staff time to administer injury.
  • Indirect - Reputation with insurance carrier(s), reputation with vendors, loss of morale, loss of reputation, employee gossip, etc.

Considering all of these expenses why would anyone not want to spend more money on Preventative costs?

For more information regarding Risk Transfer and Risk Management contact Sean Leigh

What Does an Installation Floater Cover?

Professional Insurors Business Insurance offers Construction insurance in Oklahoma that covers this business risk.

What exactly is an Installation Floater?  Well this particular insurance coverage protects you from a covered loss to plant material you are about to install. 

Lets paint a picture:  You, the landscape contractor, got a contract with a homeowners association to take care of all their landscape and maintenance.  It is late March and you just bought about $25,000 worth of plant material to install on their property.  You have all the plant material off the trailer and you are placing it where you think it should be planted.  The crews you have working decide it's lunch time and head out to grab a bite to eat.  All that plant material is just sitting there.  You and the crew make it back from lunch to find all your plant material has been stolen. 

You would have coverage for up to the limit on your policy for the loss of plant material before installed.  Another scenario would be a hail storm wipes out all your plants while waiting to be installed. 

This coverage is important for anyone in the horticulture industry to have, especially all of our landscape companies out there. 

Any questions please call Sean Leigh

Inland Marine Coverage (AKA Equipment)

Inland Marine Equipment covered by Professional Insurors OKC construction insurance.

Why is your equipment insured on an inland marine policy?  Take the second word, marine, think of a boat on water, it's constantly moving.  Inland marine is equipment that is constantly moving.  An inland marine policy will cover things that you do not have a tag for:  Mower, edgers, spray rigs, forklifts, bobcats, weedeaters, etc.  Typically insurance companies will insure equipment under $3,000 in value on a blanket coverage.  Basically add up all your equipment with values under $3,000 and you will have a blanket limit for those.  Example would be, all your weedeater, edgers, blowers, shovels, rakes, misc. tools, push mowers, etc, all add up to $20,000.  Your blanket limit for unscheduled equipment would be $20,000.  Now equipment with values over $3,000, such as your zero-turn mower, spray rigs, bobcat, skid steer etc, should be scheduled on the policy with:  Year, Make, Model, Serial number and value of each piece of equipment. The scheduled items also receive a lower rate.

Should you ever have the need to rent equipment the rental place will ask if you want to purchase their insurance or if you have your own.  This part of your inland marine policy is called Rented and Leased equipment.  Think of the most expensive piece of equipment you may rent, that should be your limit for this part.  Example would be you rent a bobcat for snow removal and the value of the bobcat is $25,000, you call your agent and tell him to send the rental place a certificate of insurance showing you have "rented or leased equipment" coverage with a $25,000 limit. Also, the insurance the "rental place" place offers is typcially very limited.

Insuring your equipment is very important.  Theft of fully loaded trailers is fairly common in this day and age.  If you have any questions please contact Sean Leigh.

Ice Damming Causes and Solutions

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Historically ice dams in Oklahoma have not been a problem.  However, over the last several years the weather patterns in Oklahoma have made many of us all too familiar with ice dams.  Below you will find information that will offer some insight to the ice dams, what causes them, how to prevent them and how to deal with them when they already exist. 

Three things are required for an ice dam to form: snow, heat to melt the snow and cold to refreeze the melted snow into solid ice. Ice dams develop as snow on the upper part of the roof melts.  Heat from the building’s interior rises to cause the melt, poorly insulated building are most prone to this problem.

 Water runs down the roof slope under the blanket of snow and refreezes into a band of ice at the roof’s edge creating a “dam”. Additional snow-melt pools against the dam and eventually leaks into the building through the roof or roof trim. The worst ice dams usually occur when a deep snow is followed by very cold weather, like we are presently seeing.

Keep in mind that steep slope roof applications are not waterproof.  They are comprised of overlapping shingles designed to shed water. When ice and water go backward or up the slope of the roof, because of pooling, these steep slope applications can leak.

Once snow and ice build up on the roof it is difficult to remove. There are several potential solutions that are discussed, each of which comes with its own set of unique risks. We will discuss the solutions and their risk below. 

ØThe Hammer:Some people have reported climbing a ladder and beating the ice and snow off the eve of the house with a hammer, 2X4 or other device to break it up and remove it. The Risk: ladders and snow do not mix see bullet one.  Any time you strike a roof with any device there is a real risk of damaging the roof surface.

ØHot Water Treatment: A person can hook a hose up to the hot water heater in their home and spray hot water on the roof to melt the snow and ice. The Risk: the distance from the water heater to the roof will probably require more than one hose.  Anyone who waters in the summer knows that hoses tend to leak, especially at the joints.  This could result in scalding hot water causing interior damage to your floors and wood work.  There is also a risk of being burned when dealing with hot water in a hose. 

ØThe Snow Rake:many people suggest fashioning a long handled rake to remove the bulk of the snow from the roof. Without the heavy blanket of snow many roof surfaces will heat up enough under sunlight to melt the remaining ice.  The Risk: If using a snow rake form the ground (recommended) the homeowner still faces the hazards of sub-freezing temperatures, slip and fall risk from ice on the ground and the risk of the ice and snow suddenly breaking free from the roof and crashing into them.  Keep in mind that when using a roof rake you are bringing ice and snow toward your body with nothing to stop it from hitting you.  This method also tends to damage the roof by removing the protective granules from the surface of the shingles and or breaking the shingles as they are brittle in cold temperatures. 

ØThe Melt Sock:  This method involves placing ice melt (calcium chloride) in a thin sock or panty hose and placing it on the base of the dam thus freeing up an area for water to drain from the structure.  The Risk:  Placing anything on your roof always presents some hazards but in conditions where ice damming exists those hazards are magnified. A person is exposed to brutally cold temperatures for a period of time.  In order to reach the roof a ladder must be erected and placed against the roof.  Normally this is not an issue but when you add ice and snow on the ground, the roof, your boots and the ladder the process becomes quite risky.

A brief safety note on commercial buildings during icy weather: Many commercial structures have metal roof systems, especially to create overhangs.   This kind of roof heats up quickly in direct sunlight and will often shed large amounts of ice and snow at once because there is no aggregate or friction on the roof surface.  A good tip is to park your car back from the roof line of these buildings and take extra care when walking near them.

In summary there is no simple solution for ice dams once they occur.  Our advice is to manage the leak immediately and complete repairs and take preventative measures after the snow has melted; assess your ventilation, insulation and “hot spots” in the roof.  Material that fully seals the roof can be added to prevent leaking caused by ice dams in leak prone areas.

If you find a leak in your house drive a small nail through the drywall in the center of the leak and attach a string from the nail into a bucket.  This will minimize damage to drywall and flooring making the repair smaller and less costly.

Please call a local contractor to help you deal with existing ice dams and create a prevention plan for the future.  It is extremely dangerous to climb on your roof when it is covered with ice and snow.  Snow removal from a roof surface can be tricky and if done improperly it can cause damage to the roof surface. 

Published with permission from:

Clint Rayburn

Marketing Manager

Red River Roofing & Construction Inc.

www.redriverroofing.com

What You don't know about Work Comp (Part 3)

Professional Insurors Business Insurance Hiring Process graphic

Hiring Practices

You are probably thinking, how could my hiring practices affect my work comp?  First of all, are you hiring a criminal?  Are you hiring somebody that has figured out how to manipulate the work comp system to their benefit? Make sure you are at least doing background checks and consider drug testing applicants.  These employees you hire are the face of your company, you want to make sure they are keeping the reputation you worked so hard for.

With regards to the recommendations I have made in this three part series, we can help with all of these items.  We are setup to give access to our clients to run their own background checks for their employees.  In addition, we brought in an attorney to develop a contract for us to give to our clients who use subcontractors that better protects your interests.   Relating to the claims process, we make sure we cover every angle when a claim occurs. 

If you have any Work Comp questions or would like us to take a look at your program, please give us a call.  Sean Leigh