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    Thursday
    Jan242019

    Taking the Worry Out of Using the Internet

    Asset protection is a major consideration for any business.  As you well know, assets come in both the tangible and intangible variety.  And when you talk intangibles, the first thing that usually comes to mind is data.

    The majority of companies doing business today rely upon the Internet.  While it has opened up global-sized opportunities, it has also exposed businesses to proportionate risk.  Understanding what the risks are and managing them is crucial to a company's survival.

    Depending upon your exposure, your standard property and commercial general liability insurance may not adequately cover the risks of an external cyber attack or network security failure due to natural causes.  If your business is heavily dependent upon Internet usage or if your company performs the majority of its basic functions electronically, you may want to consider specialized cyber-risk coverage as a stand-alone policy.  Each policy is geared to specific company requirements, including the technology being used and the level of risk involved; and both first- and third-party coverages are available.

    Typical aspects of coverage include:

    ·                    Loss/Corruption of Data - This coverage deals with damages to or destruction of vital information resulting from viruses or malicious code.

    ·                    Business Interruption - If a company's network is attacked and that attack limits its capability to conduct business, the loss of income is covered.  Coverage also includes extra expenses, forensic expenses and business interruption losses.

    ·                    Liability - This coverage includes legal defense costs, settlements, judgments and, in certain circumstances, punitive damages that a company may suffer as a result of breach of privacy due to theft of data; transmission of a computer virus which causes financial loss to third parties; a breakdown of security which results in network systems being unavailable to third parties; providing IT professional services; and allegations of copyright or trademark infringement, libel, slander or defamation in the company's Web site.

    ·                    Cyber Extortion - This covers the resolution of an extortion threat against a company's network, and the cost of hiring a security firm to track down and negotiate with blackmailers.

    ·                    Public Relations - This covers those costs associated with restoring public confidence in the company after a cyber attack.

    ·                    Cyber Terrorism - This coverage includes terrorist acts covered by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) and, in some instances, it may cover terrorist acts beyond those stated in TRIA.

    ·                    Identity Theft - This provides access to an identity theft call center to report stolen customer or employee personal information.

    The cost for coverage varies with the type of coverage required. A company can purchase a policy that covers a limited number of threats to its system's integrity for a few hundred dollars, or it can spend thousands of dollars on a policy that covers the gamut of high-tech dangers.  It is generally believed that cyber insurance policies will become less expensive as they become more widely needed.

    Tuesday
    Jan222019

    Can I Borrow Your Car -- And Your Insurance?

    “Bill, can I borrow your truck? I have to pick up a new mattress.” Questions like this are routine. Friends and neighbors borrow and lend their vehicles. College roommates borrow their friends’ cars. Six cars are parked in a driveway at a party and one needs to be moved so another car can pull out. The owner tosses someone the keys and tells him to move it. When situations like these end with an auto accident, whose insurance pays – the owner’s or the borrower’s?

    In general, the vehicle owner’s policy is primary and pays first in the event of a loss. If for some reason the owner’s policy does not cover the loss or provide enough insurance to fully cover it, the borrower’s policy will apply. For example, assume that Joe has a policy with an insurance limit of $100,000 for injuries to one person and Bill’s policy has a limit of $250,000. Joe borrows Bill’s car and severely injures a pedestrian, resulting in damages of $300,000. Since Bill owns the car, his policy will pay first. It will pay $250,000 (his limit of insurance,) and Joe’s policy will pay the remaining $50,000. If Bill’s policy does not cover the loss (for example, if he had let the policy lapse,) Joe’s policy would pay all of its $100,000, but Bill and Joe might be individually responsible for paying the balance.

    The owner’s insurance will also be primary for damage to the car itself. However, the borrower’s insurance can make up for a difference in deductible. Suppose Joe has a $500 collision deductible on his car and Bill’s collision deductible is $1,000. Joe totals Bill’s $5,000 car in an accident. Bill’s insurance will pay $4,000 for the car ($5,000 minus the $1,000 deductible,) and Joe’s insurance will pay $500 (Bill’s deductible minus Joe’s $500 deductible.) If Bill’s insurance is uncollectible because he didn’t buy collision coverage, Joe’s policy will pay $4,500 ($5,000 minus the $500 deductible.)

    A person must have the car owner’s permission to borrow before the owner’s insurance will cover him. The insurance company will consider the person to have permission if he had a reasonable belief that he could use the car. For example, if Bill at one time said to Joe, “Take the car whenever you need to; the keys are on my desk,” and Joe had in fact borrowed it several times with no objection from Bill, it would appear that Joe had a reasonable belief that he could use it. On the other hand, if Bill never said anything to Joe about using the car, and Joe had to search Bill’s home to find the keys, Joe’s belief that he could use it might not appear to be so reasonable. In this case, Bill’s policy might not cover Joe’s liability for injuries or damages. Worse, Joe’s policy might not cover him, either.

    Permission must come from the vehicle’s owner, not from a member of the owner’s family. Joe will not have coverage if Bill didn’t give him permission but Bill’s teenage daughter told him to use it. However, the daughter has coverage if she borrows the car, with or without permission. A member of the owner’s family has coverage without having to prove they had permission. To be considered a family member, such a person must be related to the owner by blood, marriage or adoption.

    Before borrowing someone else’s car, we advise people to do the following:

    • Make certain you have the owner’s permission.
    • Make certain the owner has insurance in-force on the car.
    • Check your own insurance to see if it will cover damages the owner’s policy doesn’t cover.

    An insurance agent can assist you with the third item. Ask the questions ahead of time to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

    Thursday
    Jan172019

    Helping Employees Make Their Comeback After a Work-Related Injury or Illness

    The fallout from an extended injury or illness can devastate employees and their families financially, physically and mentally.  Trying to live on decreased income from a workers' compensation claim, coupled with family members having to take on additional responsibilities the disabled person cannot perform, can put a real strain on relationships.  As time passes, the additional problem of becoming increasingly isolated from their former life raises tension levels in an already highly charged situation.

    This scenario occurs more often than you might think. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2002, a total of 1.4 million injuries and illnesses in private industry required recuperation away from work beyond the day of the incident.  What's even more surprising about the Bureau's findings is that injuries and illnesses to workers aged 20 to 44 accounted for 64 percent of all injured workers.  Workers aged 65 and over accounted for only 1.7 percent of total injuries and illnesses.  The fact that the majority of workers on extended leave are workers who will need to return to work clarifies how important setting the stage for their comeback really is.

    Leslie Yerkes, an organizational behaviorist and president of Cleveland, Ohio-based Catalyst Consulting Group, Inc. notes, "Finding and keeping good people provides a competitive advantage for organizations.  So, keeping the bond strong when employees are on family leave, working virtually or out on workers' compensation is critical to not losing that employee to a competitor and to facilitate a rapid and smooth transition back into the workplace."  She recommends the following steps for maintain a strong connection and facilitating a smooth re-entry:

    ·  Clarify expectations with the employee early on as to what they can and want to do.  If job reassignment will be necessary upon their return, let them know that you are willing to explore possible options.  Get a feel for the kinds of jobs they might be interested in and realistically explore how and where they can fit in.

    ·  Assign a communication buddy to the individual who can commit to having a regular weekly update conversation with the absent employee.  Make sure that the employee has a means to receive critical information while absent from the organization.

    ·  Include the absent employee via phone teleconferencing in key events that will affect them directly.  This is critical when it comes to changes in company/departmental policies or revisions in work floor procedures.  You don't want an employee to return to work only to be reprimanded the first day back for violating a policy change that they were unaware of.  It increases the feeling that they have been left behind.  Those negative feelings might continue to grow until the employee feels compelled to find another job.

    ·  Encourage the work group to stay connected and communicate to the disabled employee that they care about their recovery.  It's like Hallmark always says, "When you care enough to send the very best."  Make sure an absent employee knows that they are truly missed by their co-workers. And most importantly, make sure the employee knows that their bosses are among those people!

    The lesson to be learned from all of this is simple.  Transitioning back into the workplace begins as soon as the employee starts their leave.  If you plan for their re-entry from the outset, it will be as seamless as it should be.

    Tuesday
    Jan152019

    Driver's Ed: For Your Teen or the Birds?

    For decades, parents have sent their teenagers to driver’s education classes. Whether their child was taught by the high school gym teacher or a true driving expert, parents took comfort knowing that their teen was learning the safest driving techniques. That is, until 30 years ago when a federal study showed that learning to drive from a professional had no effect on the number of teen car crashes and fatalities.

    More recent studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have revealed that driver training, whether taught in high school or at driving school, may not benefit teen drivers. As a result, word on the street is that driver’s education classes simply aren’t effective.

    Driver’s ed: Still worth your while?

    Despite the studies, anecdotal evidence still shows that it could be worth your time and money to send your teen off to driver’s ed. Why? First of all, teens have to learn how to drive from someone—and if you’re not up to the task, you may need to turn to a pro.

    Plus, teenagers may be more likely to listen to and absorb information from a driving instructor than their parents. After all, many teens simply “turn off” their own moms and dads. You know the old saying: In one ear and out the other.

    On top of that, if you have any bad driving habits of your own, whether it’s a lead foot or a tendency to get distracted from the road, your teen will pick up these behaviors if you teach them to drive. This is exactly why a driver’s ed class could still prove to be beneficial for your teen.

    Find the right program

    Of course, driver’s ed classes are not all created equal. That’s why driving experts urge parents to take a closer look at a driver’s education program before enrolling their teen in the course.

    But what exactly are you looking for? For starters, the program should focus on much more than simply how to pass the driver’s test. After all, you can pass the driver’s exam and get your license but still be an unsafe driver on the road. Experts say a good driving course should teach teens about risk reduction, including hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management.

    You get what you pay for

    While a public school driver’s ed class may be affordable and convenient, not all of these classes are as effective as private driving school courses. Many public school districts have been forced to cut driver's ed programs due to budget constraints. If your teen’s public school offers a course, be sure to scrutinize the program closely before enrolling your teen. You might discover it’s worth it to pay a little more for a privately-taught course.

    Most private driver’s education courses charge between $250 and $350. If you pay much less than that, your teen probably won’t get the proper driving and safety techniques.

    But how can you be sure you’re getting your money’s worth? Experts say you should look for a program that offers the following:

    • At least 36 hours of class lasting 9 weeks or longer
    • A minimum of six hours of on-the-road training, spread out over several days
    • A written curriculum or study plan the instructor is willing to share with you (When you look at the study plan, make sure it isn’t just focused on passing the driver’s test, but also about basic skills, defensive driving, safety, etc.)
    • An open door policy that allows parents to make suggestions and ask questions
    • Plenty of extra advice for parents trying to reinforce good driving skills

    You may also want to look for a course that incorporates digital teaching methods, such as computer games. After all, this generation of teens is extremely technical—there’s tons of evidence that shows today’s teenagers learn more from “interactive teaching” than a chalkboard and textbook.

    Ask for recommendations

    You may also want to ask parents of teenagers who are already driving where they sent their children for driver’s education. Your colleagues, friends and neighbors may be able to recommend a great course—or at least steer you away from a bad one.

    Stay involved

    Even if you decide to send your teen to a driver’s ed course, it’s important to stay involved with your son or daughter’s driving education. Ride with your teen as often as possible, on weekends, after school, etc. This will allow you to monitor their progress and ensure they are learning safe and effective driving skills.

    Thursday
    Jan102019

    Employers Potentially Liable for Accidents Caused by Employees Using Cell Phones

    Cell phones now allow employees to conduct business from nearly any conceivable location, but when that location is a vehicle moving at 60 miles per hour, a dangerous situation can occur for which employers are liable. 

    Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries every year in the United States according to a study in the Journal of Human Factors, a scientific, peer-reviewed publication.  Employers across nearly every industry are now highly exposed to this potentially costly liability. 

    Huge settlements, including those in the multi-million dollar range, have been awarded to individuals who have been injured in accidents caused by drivers conducting business on their cell phones. An employer can potentially be liable even for accidents that occur during personal phone calls if a company provides a cell phone to its employees or if a cell phone is necessary or encouraged as part of their job.

    State governments throughout the country are acknowledging this danger and are reacting with new legislation.  Some states prohibit talking on a cell phone while driving unless a "hands-free" device is used.  Other jurisdictions are prohibiting all cell phone use while operating a moving vehicle for certain classes of drivers, such as young drivers and bus drivers. 

    In order to help protect the safety of employees and others on the road, and also to help mitigate a company's exposure, employers are strongly urged to develop cell phone usage policies and conduct employee cell phone safety training programs. 

    Being very cautious, some companies are now strictly prohibiting the use of cell phones for business purposes while driving or requiring a "hands-free" phone.  Employers should know, however, that research including a 1997 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the likelihood of having an automobile accident increases four-fold when talking on a cell phone regardless of whether it is a "hands-free" phone. 

    Other specific safety guidelines that can be incorporated into a cell phone usage policy include:  dialing only while the car is stopped; not making calls while in traffic or inclement weather; not having stressful conversations while driving; and use of speed dialing when possible.  A strong policy should list the disciplinary consequences of not following the cell phone usage guidelines. 

    Additional measures include equipping company-owned cell phones with a sticker warning of the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone.  Employers can also add language to their cell phone bill reimbursement forms requiring employees to certify that they did not break company policy in using their cell phone. 

    While there is no guaranteed release from this new area of liability, companies with strong cell phone policies and training programs do put themselves in a much better legal position.  To maximize their protection companies need to strictly enforce cell phone policies and maintain current documentation.   Such documentation should include written acknowledgement of each employee's receipt of the policy and training, and also records of any violations and disciplinary action.


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    Copyright © 2013, Stanley M. Davis Insurance. All rights reserved.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

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