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    Thursday
    Oct192017

    Top Tips to Streamline the Premium Audit Process

    Are you due for a workers’ compensation premium audit? Audits are how insurance rates are determined, and it’s possible that an audit will uncover information that can actually save you money. In any case, it pays to be prepared. These five tips can help you get ready.

    1. Let your broker know when there are changes in your staffing, payroll or areas of operation. This is important not just at audit time but all the time. Your rates are based on variable rating information, including the number of employees, job classifications, the states in which you operate, etc. Updated information results in more accurate premium assessments.
    2. Get your records ready. Your auditor will need to see records such as federal and state tax returns, ledgers, checkbooks, contracts and employee or contractor tax documents. If you prepare your records in advance, you’ll speed up the audit process.
    3. Make sure you break out various types of compensation in your records. For example, to set your premium, your broker considers pay but not contributions to employee benefits packages and other perks, so it’s important to make sure your records are clear on the various types of compensation. Also make sure overtime pay is clearly defined since it’s classified as regular pay for workers’ compensation insurance purposes.
    4. Ensure that contractors have their own insurance. This is important not only from an audit standpoint but from a liability prospective as well. If an uninsured contractor has an accident while performing work on your behalf, you can be held liable. If an audit identifies contractors for whom you don’t have certificates of coverage, you can be charged for their premiums.
    5. Remain on hand to answer questions. As your auditor reviews your material, he or she may have questions or need additional data. If you are available to provide answers, your audit will be completed more quickly.

    By following these tips, you’ll be more prepared for your workers’ compensation premium audit. A fast, efficient audit process can save time for both you and your auditor, so it pays to be prepared.

    Tuesday
    Oct172017

    Paying Too Much for Auto Insurance?

    To paraphrase President Barack Obama, if you are still feeling the effects of the economic recession, then the recession is not over for you. And chances are good that you may be among those who are still trying to pinch every penny and save money wherever and whenever they can. But have you thought about saving on your car insurance? Car insurance premiums represent a significant chunk of your income each year, so it only makes sense that you should make sure that you are not paying too much for necessary coverage. If you are not getting some of these car insurance discounts, then you are likely paying more than you should:

    Safe driver who obeys traffic laws? Discount! The number one determining factor when your car insurance premiums are being calculated is your driving history and the driving history of other drivers on your policy. In fact, many insurers appreciate a good driver that they are willing to knock ten percent off the cost of your insurance for having a clean driving record. Now that's significant!

    Are you an older driver? Discount! Drivers over fifty are often eligible for many discounts on their car insurance. More and more companies are rewarding older drivers for their experience behind the wheel.

    Have you taken a defensive driving course? Discount! Defensive driving courses can help you to become a better, safer driver, and your car insurance company knows this. If you can provide proof of taking a qualified defensive driving course, you can score additional savings.

    Is your teen driver on the honor roll at her school? Discount! Students who make good grades may be eligible for a discount, as can those students who take a driver's education course. It pays to be smart!

    Is your car equipped with special features? Discount! Airbags, daytime running lights, anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices are just some of the equipment that might qualify you for savings.

    Compare Auto Insurance Rates and Save Even More

    Other than qualifying for discounts on your car insurance, you can also reduce the cost of your car insurance by comparing rates with top companies. The quickest and most efficient way to compare rates is to contact a professional insurance agent. Many drivers find that they are able to save thirty percent or more off the cost of car insurance if it's been a while since their last review.

    Thursday
    Oct122017

    Regarding Fires in Northern California

    As most of you know, the wildfires in Northern California continue to burn at a rapid pace.  All of us at Stanley M. Davis & Co. would like to extend our gratitude to all the tireless firefighters, police, volunteers and families that are working around the clock to try and save the beautiful land that we all love and treasure. 

    If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance coverage, please reach out to our office, we are standing by ready to help.

    Please donate to the many funds set up to help the families and businesses that have lost so much.

    Thursday
    Oct122017

    Returning Employees to Work Has Legal Implications

    When making the decision to return an injured employee to work, there are several significant legal issues that must be considered as a result of both state and federal law.

    The first consideration is your state’s workers’ compensation laws. While a common objective of workers’ compensation laws is to facilitate the injured worker in returning to a productive job, not all states approach this goal in the same manner.

    Your state's approach probably falls into one of the following three categories:

    • States that provide for a specific number of weeks of rehabilitation and a limited amount for training for the injured worker. After training is complete, the worker is considered rehabilitated. This training component also limits the employer’s liability to find another job for the claimant.
    • States that are considered defined benefit states. A worker is paid for his temporary total disability. If disability reaches a predetermined percentage of body loss, however, the employer can issue a lump-sum payment and close the case, whether the worker can return to work or not. Rehabilitation is a minor part of this approach.
    • States that use loss of earning power as qualification for benefits. Once a worker is injured, his workers' compensation benefits will continue for life unless he is proven to have an earning power. In these states, the employer at the time of injury must offer a job to the injured employee if one is available within the employee’s physical restrictions. If this is not possible, the law requires that rehabilitation efforts begin.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also presents certain legal considerations concerning the manner in which an injured employee is returned to work. The first consideration is regarding the collection and maintenance of the injured employee’s medical information.

    The ADA requires employers to collect this information to determine how to accommodate an employee’s disability and whether the employee is capably of performing a specific job. However, the ADA also mandates that employers:

    • Treat this information as a confidential medical record.
    • Maintain this information on separate forms and keep the forms in separate files.
    • Not use this information for any purpose that is inconsistent with the ADA.

    There are also specific rules regarding the disclosure of such information. Supervisors and managers may be informed about necessary restrictions and accommodations arising from the disability. In addition, first aid and safety personnel can be informed if the employee’s condition may require emergency treatment.

    Another key consideration under the ADA is whether or not the returning employee is eligible for a particular job. The law says that if an employee can perform the essential parts of a job, they are eligible, even if certain minor aspects of the job cannot be performed. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations as necessary so that the employee can perform the job. This is what is commonly referred to as a “light-duty” assignment.

    Decisions regarding necessary accommodations must be accomplished through a joint process involving the employer, employee, and the employee’s doctor. A company refusing to make reasonable accommodations is at risk for a lawsuit. A worker who refuses reasonable light-duty work risks having their benefits or employment terminated.

    Tuesday
    Oct102017

    Consider Cost of Car Insurance when Shopping for a New Ride

    Most consumers will usually put forth a great deal of effort and time into searching out the best price for their new car. After all, the majority of America will have a budget for any large ticket purchase. One common mistake that consumers make when budgeting for a new car is only comparing what they can afford with the sticker price or loan payment for the car.

    If cost is an issue, especially if choosing a car on the highest end of one's budget, then it's vital to factor in how much insurance will cost on the new car. It's important to remember that car insurance prices will vary based on several car factors: sticker price, safety features, cost of repair, vehicle specific features, and high vs. low profile of vehicle.

    Sticker Price

    The greater the sticker price of a new or used car is, the more expensive it will be for an insurance company to replace it in the event of an accident. Therefore, the more expensive a car is, the more expensive the insurance will be for it. The added cost of insurance must be factored in to know if a car is truly affordable.

    Safety Features

    Safety features can have a big impact on car insurance. Features such as anti-lock brakes, airbags, automatic seatbelts, traction control, and airbags are statically proven to greatly reduce the number of accidents and /or injuries that occur while driving a car. The overall safety, class safety rating, and "crashworthiness" of a vehicle is also a factor. Certain states mandate that a discount be given for vehicles with certain safety features. So, be sure and check the safety rating for the car and applicable state law. Five stars indicate the highest safety rating and one star the lowest. 

    Repair Cost

    The cost to repair the car is another factor that will influence insurance cost. The more expensive a car is, the more expensive the parts will be in the event it ever needs a replaced or repaired part. Then, there are certain brands of cars that usually require a dealership or specialty mechanic for even the simplest repair. These cars usually require brand-specific tools and diagnostic equipment. All of this will result in higher insurance rates.

    Car Specific Features

    There are certain car features that will impact insurance cost. Hard top vs. soft top, number of doors, and size of engine would be feature examples. As a general rule, domestic cars and minivans are some of the less expensive types of vehicles to insure.

    Profile

    Some cars are easier to steal and more valuable to car thieves than others. These "high profile" cars are considered magnets for auto theft, and therefore more expensive to insure. Crime databases and local insurance agents can apprise buyers of what cars are considered high profile for their area.

    All of the above influences on car insurance can dramatically increase the bottom line cost of acquiring a new car, as they can alter car insurance from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It's vital to seek an insurance estimate before deciding if a car is a good deal.


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