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    Tuesday
    Apr242018

    New Study Surveys Teen Driving Attitudes

    Many teens do not take personal responsibility for safe driving and continue to engage in dangerous driving behaviors, this according to a new survey commissioned by Allstate Insurance. The survey also revealed that while the majority of teens polled were making New Year's resolutions about getting better grades, or exercising more, only a small number of them were resolving to be safer drivers.

    Ninety percent of the teens surveyed said they hoped their friends would be safer on the road in 2008; but only 11 percent answered that "driving more safely" was one of their personal New Year's resolutions. Thirty-four percent of teens surveyed said that they had been frightened as a passenger because the driver was being careless, but did not say anything to the driver.

    Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said they had driven more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, 22 percent admitted to having raced another vehicle, and 19 percent reported receiving a traffic ticket. Eighteen percent of the teens surveyed said they had been a passenger in a car being driven by a teen who was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

    While the teens that were polled were willing to break the law, they were not as agreeable to looking the other way when it came to their friends. Forty-one percent of the respondents wanted their friends to stop engaging in unsafe practices including driving without seatbelts and speeding. More than two-thirds of teens surveyed said they wanted their friends to avoid technology distractions, such as text messaging, talking on a cell phone, and scrolling through an MP3 player, while driving.

    There was an important positive outcome revealed by the Allstate survey; more teenagers are familiar with driver's contracts, which means parents are taking a more active role in promoting driving safety. Approximately 30 percent of teens that have heard of these agreements have signed one. The researchers added that the dialogue opened by discussing the contract can be just as important as the signed agreement itself. However, if the contract is to be truly effective, that dialogue between parent and teen must be ongoing.

    When parents start a dialogue with their teenage drivers, they can influence their child's behavior. The survey indicated that almost half of the teens polled are having 'good conversations' with their parents about the importance of safe driving. But one conversation is not enough. Such dialogue needs to be frequent and meaningful if it is to deter teen drivers from engaging in unsafe driving behaviors.

    Thursday
    Apr192018

    You Wear It Well: Dress Codes in the Workplace

    As the manager of a business, you want to focus on those things that drive success - productivity, innovation, performance, and strategy. As you work to grow the business, you probably do not want to deal with more mundane office matters. Sometimes, however, these issues can have a major impact on employee morale, and they must be handled well. One such issue is the employee dress code. It would be nice if all employees used common sense every day and wore tasteful, professional clothing. Taste and professionalism, however, can be in the eye of the beholder. It is likely that your organization needs some kind of guidance on appropriate dress.

    If the organization has an employee handbook, it probably has a section on acceptable dress for the workplace. Is the policy too vague to be useful or overly specific? Does it comply with legal requirements? Does it require dress that is more formal than necessary given the amount of customer contact employees have? Does it allow clothing that is too informal for regular customer contact? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consider updating it. If not, make sure that you are enforcing it. Also, it may be wise to periodically remind employees of the dress code policy. This will inform new employees and reinforce the policy with veterans.

    The organization should enforce the dress code without partiality. Individuals and groups of employees should be treated equally. Federal employment laws and regulations permit employers to set employee dress codes and to treat men and women differently within social norms. It is acceptable to require men to cut their hair while not making the same demand of women. It may not be acceptable to require women to wear skirts or men to wear uniforms while not making equivalent demands of the other sex.

    Be aware that federal and state laws protect employees from discrimination on the basis of religion. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to employees who want to dress a certain way for religious observance reasons. Some men may cover their heads or wear beards for this reason; women may wear clothing that almost completely covers them up; employees of both sexes may wear certain pieces of jewelry. Unless complying with these requests would pose an undue hardship for the organization, the employees' wishes must be honored. Employers may refuse such requests if the clothing or style creates a safety hazard; in most other cases, they must make the accommodation.

    On the other hand, the law does not require employers to allow workers to display tattoos and body piercing. Rather, employers are free to make business decisions about the display of these styles. Some employers may permit it for employees who seldom or never interact with customers. Others may permit it for everyone, especially if their customers frequently have tattoos or piercings. Still others may decide that it is inappropriate for their businesses in all cases. The decision is entirely the employer's, based on the balance between business needs and the need to attract and retain good employees.

    This is really what dress codes are all about. Every business projects an image, and how its employees dress affects that image. Managers naturally want to put their best foot forward with customers. At the same time, a good workforce is not easy to build and retain. A too-strict dress code will repel good job candidates and may cause valuable employees to consider leaving. Inflexibility may violate anti-discrimination laws and inspire workers to file lawsuits. It is in an employer's best interest to develop a dress code that reflects well on the business and keeps employees happy.

    Thursday
    Apr192018

    You Wear It Well: Dress Codes in the Workplace

    As the manager of a business, you want to focus on those things that drive success - productivity, innovation, performance, and strategy. As you work to grow the business, you probably do not want to deal with more mundane office matters. Sometimes, however, these issues can have a major impact on employee morale, and they must be handled well. One such issue is the employee dress code. It would be nice if all employees used common sense every day and wore tasteful, professional clothing. Taste and professionalism, however, can be in the eye of the beholder. It is likely that your organization needs some kind of guidance on appropriate dress.

    If the organization has an employee handbook, it probably has a section on acceptable dress for the workplace. Is the policy too vague to be useful or overly specific? Does it comply with legal requirements? Does it require dress that is more formal than necessary given the amount of customer contact employees have? Does it allow clothing that is too informal for regular customer contact? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consider updating it. If not, make sure that you are enforcing it. Also, it may be wise to periodically remind employees of the dress code policy. This will inform new employees and reinforce the policy with veterans.

    The organization should enforce the dress code without partiality. Individuals and groups of employees should be treated equally. Federal employment laws and regulations permit employers to set employee dress codes and to treat men and women differently within social norms. It is acceptable to require men to cut their hair while not making the same demand of women. It may not be acceptable to require women to wear skirts or men to wear uniforms while not making equivalent demands of the other sex.

    Be aware that federal and state laws protect employees from discrimination on the basis of religion. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to employees who want to dress a certain way for religious observance reasons. Some men may cover their heads or wear beards for this reason; women may wear clothing that almost completely covers them up; employees of both sexes may wear certain pieces of jewelry. Unless complying with these requests would pose an undue hardship for the organization, the employees' wishes must be honored. Employers may refuse such requests if the clothing or style creates a safety hazard; in most other cases, they must make the accommodation.

    On the other hand, the law does not require employers to allow workers to display tattoos and body piercing. Rather, employers are free to make business decisions about the display of these styles. Some employers may permit it for employees who seldom or never interact with customers. Others may permit it for everyone, especially if their customers frequently have tattoos or piercings. Still others may decide that it is inappropriate for their businesses in all cases. The decision is entirely the employer's, based on the balance between business needs and the need to attract and retain good employees.

    This is really what dress codes are all about. Every business projects an image, and how its employees dress affects that image. Managers naturally want to put their best foot forward with customers. At the same time, a good workforce is not easy to build and retain. A too-strict dress code will repel good job candidates and may cause valuable employees to consider leaving. Inflexibility may violate anti-discrimination laws and inspire workers to file lawsuits. It is in an employer's best interest to develop a dress code that reflects well on the business and keeps employees happy.

    Tuesday
    Apr172018

    Think Twice Before Drinking and Driving

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released data showing that from 2001-2005, an average of 36 fatalities occurred per day on America's roadways as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. It's this kind of statistic that has spurred all 50 states and the District of Columbia to pass laws making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

    Although you may not be a fatality if you drive while under the influence, don't think that means you're home free. If you're ticketed for a DUI, you'll face a financial toll that you probably never considered. The following list is an example of some of the expenses you can expect:

    • Bail - It can cost anywhere from $250 to $2500 for a first time DUI offender to be released from jail after an arrest depending on the jurisdiction.
    • Towing - When you're arrested, your car is automatically towed. The cost starts at $100. In Chicago, for example, the typical charge is $1,200 for the first 24 hours and $50 for each additional day of storage. If you can't afford to get your car after 30 days, the city auctions it. Other cities are beginning to follow Chicago's lead.
    • Insurance premiums - If you are convicted, your insurance rates will increase substantially for the next three to five years. This could mean anywhere from two to four times more than you are currently paying. You could even face losing coverage all together. In that case, you would be forced to find a company specializing in higher risks that will insure you, or see whether your state has an assigned-risk pool for insurance. Either way, you'll pay considerably more for coverage.
    • Legal fees - Expect anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000 depending on how much time an attorney has to invest in your case to defend you. In addition to what you pay your lawyer, you may also find yourself paying for an investigator to examine the arrest scene, and expert witnesses who can testify about the inaccuracy of field sobriety tests.
    • Fines - The fines and court fees for breaking the law vary from state to state, However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1200.
    • Alcohol Evaluation - This is required of anyone sentenced by the court for drunk driving. The cost for these evaluations starts at about $100 depending on the jurisdiction.
    • Treatment/Education Program - A conviction means you will be required to undergo treatment or education in order to get your driver's license re-issued. The extent of these programs differs greatly, and the costs can range from $300 to $2000. 
    Thursday
    Apr122018

    Playing with Fire: What Will the Tenant's Liability Insurance Cover? 

    Insurance companies, agents and buyers tend to focus on the major coverages within the Commercial General Liability policy: Liability for injuries caused by a business's premises, operations, products or finished projects, and liability for property damage. However, for businesses that do not own the buildings where they operate, there is an often-overlooked coverage that could be very important. The policy declarations refer to it as Damage To Premises Rented To You, although it has traditionally been known as Fire Damage Legal Liability Coverage. It provides limited coverage for tenants who cause fire damage to rented premises.

    Fire Damage Legal Liability is a "give-back" coverage. Coverage A - Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability contains 14 exclusions -- clauses that describe types of losses to which the coverage does not apply. The final paragraph states that the last 12 exclusions do not apply to fire damage to premises while rented to or temporarily occupied by the insured with permission of the owner, so it gives the coverage back from the exclusions. This means that, if the insured is legally liable for fire damage to premises rented or temporarily occupied, the policy will provide coverage for fire damage to premises in the insured's care, custody or control, and fire damage resulting from release of pollutants, among others.

    This coverage has several limitations:

    * It usually has a limit of only $50,000 or $100,000.

    * It applies only to the premises, not to contents such as furniture or wall coverings.

    * It covers fire damage only, not water damage or other types of losses.

    * It provides coverage only if the insured is legally liable for the damage. It does not cover liability the insured assumed under a contract.

     

    These limitations can leave a business at least partially unprotected in a variety of situations. Some examples:

    * The business's liability for damage to a rented space is $200,000.

    * The business is an auto body shop. While a car is being spray painted, a spark ignites the fumes and causes an explosion.

    * The business rents meeting space in a hotel. A projector overheats, starting a fire that damages tables, chairs, easels, and a cart holding refreshments.

    * The business's lease makes it responsible for damage to the premises, regardless of cause. A nearsighted driver crashes his car into the display window.

     

    In all of these situations, the insured will either have no coverage or insufficient coverage.

    If these limitations could cause a problem, the business may want to consider some options. It may want to look at buying a property Legal Liability Coverage Form. This policy covers the insured's legal liability for damage to property described in the policy and in the insured's care, custody or control. An advantage of this is that it provides coverage for a variety of perils, not just fire. However, it does not cover liability assumed under a contract, so it still would not cover damage caused by the nearsighted driver. A regular property insurance policy will provide broader coverage, but it probably duplicates the landlord's coverage and is more expensive than other options. The tenant may want to ask the landlord to remove assumed liability from the lease.

    To determine which coverage options are best for a particular situation, the business should work with an experienced insurance agent. The agent can explain alternatives, give an idea as to their costs, and provide information about various insurance companies' claim handling practices. Get the facts early - the time to find out about your coverage is before a loss occurs.


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