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Scurich Insurance Services has been serving the Monterey Bay Area since 1924. Our mission is to partner with our customers and provide them superior service and value. We are a member of United Valley Insurance Services, Inc., a cluster of over 70 California Independent Insurance agencies, which produced over $530,000,000 of annual premium last year. At Scurich Insurance Services we understand your business and our community. Our customers look to us for comprehensive solutions. We have established relationships with more than 40 of the nation’s leading insurance providers, which allows us to deliver multiple, competitively-priced options and a team of experts to guide you through the process. When you need to file a claim, change a policy or process a certificate you can depend on Scurich Insurance Services to respond quickly to your request. SERVICES In order to provide value added benefits to our customers that go beyond the insurance policy Scurich Insurance Services offers the following additional services: Safety Programs – English and Spanish OSHA Compliance Safety Policies – English and Spanish Online OSHA 300 Log Safety Posters and Payroll Stuffers - English and Spanish Certificates of Insurance – If received before 3:30pm done the same day Risk Management Consulting Brokerage Services Represent most major insurance companies to better market your account. Safety tapes/DVD’s BUSINESS LINES Commercial Commercial Packages Business Auto Workers Compensation Umbrella Bonds Directors & Officers Professional Liability Employment Practices Liability Personal Auto Home Umbrella Recreational Vehicles Boatss Life & Health Individual Medical Individual Life Group Medical Group Benefits

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Reporting Insurance Scams: It’s The Law!

Author TonyScurich , 10/5/2016
  As you go about your daily business, insurance fraud is probably one of the furthest things from your mind. However these all-too-common scams, everything from homeowners who report a non-existent burglary to collect on their policies to drivers who stage auto accidents and file injury claims – are criminal acts that you have a legal obligation to report. If you’re aware of, or suspect, a fraudulent act that involves insurance follow these steps:
    • Inform the insurance fraud bureau in your state either through its telephone “hot line” or online.
    • Contact the fraud department of the insurance company involved. Most companies have hotlines for this purpose. If a fraud hotline isn’t available, or if you’re uncomfortable using it, write the fraud department instead.
    • If the alleged fraud involves a medical issue – such as a claim for a non-existent condition – contact your state medical board or chiropractic board immediately in order to protect the complainant, as well as other possible victims.
    • If appropriate, notify other authorities, such as the police (if someone’s life might be in danger) or your local Social Security office (in case of suspected Social Security fraud).
    • Remember that, as a witness, you must report all the details involved: full names, dates, organization, company name, the amount of money involved, etc. Provide any documentation or other information you think might help with the investigation.
    • Be patient. Investigating complaints takes time; it might be months before the investigators have gathered enough evidence to bring the perpetrators into court.
A word to the wise. insurance scams costs billions of dollars a year, driving up premiums for everyone – including you.  

Demand For Contractors Professional Liability Rises

Author TonyScurich , 8/12/2016
New approaches to building projects, as well as new techniques, are leading to increased demand for Professional Liability insurance for contractors. A few years ago, people would shake their heads at the idea of this coverage, asking how contractors could be held liable for professional risk when they don't provide professional services. However, there has been a blurring of the once-sharp lines between contractors and architects and designers, as more and more contractors are being drawn into the design process. Under the traditional "design-bid-build" method, a project would be designed, bids put out, and the project built. However, the spread of the "design-build" concept - which decreases the amount of time, and the cost, of the project involved - has meant that medium sized and large contractors often take the design responsibilities in-house, and even subcontract them to design firms. These contractors' biggest exposure is for claims filed against them for project delays and cost overruns. However, traditional General Liability insurance offers coverage only for Bodily Injury and Property Damage, and does not cover financial or economic losses. Contractors Professional Liability insurance fills this gap. Because these policies are relatively recent, only a limited number of insurance companies offer them. These companies haven't paid enough claims for underwriters to establish the underwriting history and set standard rates - which means that policies are usually negotiated on a case-by-case basis. The amount of insurance can be up to $50 million; if a contractor needs more capacity, coverage can be added through excess layers. If your firm is (or might be) taking on project design responsibilities, a comprehensive Contractors Professional Liability policy can help protect your pocketbook - and provide peace of mind. To learn more, just give us a call.

Builders Risk Insurance: A Must-Have

Author TonyScurich , 8/1/2016

Your last newsletter discussed the benefits of Building Ordinance insurance. If you're planning to build on your property or adding to an existing structure, a related policy - Builders Risk - can protect you from losses during construction, helping make sure that you finish the project.

The amount of coverage should reflect the total value of the completed structure (including the costs of material and labor, but not the value of the land). In most cases, the construction budget will be the best source for calculating this amount. The policy is usually written for a period three months, six months, or 12 months. If needed, the term can be extended once. Builders Risk covers damage to the insured structure(s) from a wide variety of causes, ranging from natural disasters (wind, lightning, hail, and lightning) through accidental events (fire, explosion, or vehicle accidents) to human activities (such as theft and vandalism). Coverage usually also includes:
  • Fire department service charges for saving or protecting property from a covered cause of loss.
  • Removal of debris from property damaged by a covered loss.
  • Losses from the backup of sewer and drains.
Most policies exclude losses from earthquake, flooding employee theft, mechanical breakdown, contract penalties, war, government action, or faulty design and workmanship. You might be able to add coverage for some of these exclusions - such as earthquakes and flooding - if the building is in an area that's prone to one or both of these natural disasters. Bear in mind that this policy does not provide Liability coverage for accidents or injuries on your property. We'd be happy to tailor a comprehensive Builders Risk product that fits your needs - and budget. Just give us a call.

The ABC'S Of Construction Liability Insurance

Author TonyScurich , 6/22/2016
No matter how large or small the job in the building trade is, it's always the best policy to carry insurance again liability for losses from injuries, accidents, or property damage during construction. Residential building contractors need a Liability policy to protect them from lawsuits from homeowners for construction-related losses, or from workers injured on the job. Make sure that your contract requires every sub to carry their own Liability insurance and exempt you from responsibility from damage they might produce during construction. The amount of coverage you need will depend on the size of the contract. As a rule of thumb, it's wise to have two or three times the size of the project budget. Commercial contractors usually carry millions in Liability insurance. Contractors with higher risk of damages (for example, roofers or contractors in highly specialized trades) often take out higher coverage. Your Liability policy will set coverage amounts (limits) for both each occurrence and overall (aggregate) values. Limits are also set for: 1) fire damage to property under construction; 2) medical expenses for injured workers on the jobsite who might not be covered under Workers Compensation; and 3) personal and advertising injury (claims that promotion or advertising caused a financial or personal loss to the owner of the home or building). While many contractors pay their Liability premiums up front, those with cash flow problems others prefer to finance them through an indemnity corporation with a down payment and monthly payments over six months to a year. As always, our insurance experts stand ready to help you find comprehensive Liability coverage at a rate you can afford. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

My Employees Are Honest - So, Why Do I Need Insurance?'

Author TonyScurich , 6/13/2016
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Fraud and embezzlement in the workplace has become an epidemic, costing American businesses an estimated $400 billion a year (6% of total revenues), according to The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Smaller firms are particularly vulnerable, because they're less able than their larger counterparts to afford extensive safeguard or to absorb the losses. What's more, one in four workers who rip off their employers have been with the company more than ten years.

Employee Dishonesty insurance can protect your business from financial loss due to the fraudulent activities of an employee or group of employees. This coverage is also called Crime Coverage, Employee Dishonesty Bond, Fidelity Bond, or Crime Fidelity insurance. The policy applies to acts by all current and former employees, as well as partners, trustees, and directors, together with volunteers, seasonal employees, and temporary workers under your control. Covered losses can include: 1) theft, robbery, burglary or embezzlement of money, securities, or physical property of the business; 2) forgery or alteration; 3) fraudulent transfer of funds; 4) computer fraud; and 5) counterfeiting cash or money orders. The amount of coverage you'll need varies with the loss exposures your business faces. As a rule of thumb, companies that handle cash and securities, need at least 20% of their annual revenue in Minimum coverage for fraud and theft losses is usually $100,000 and many policies will cover $500,000 without significant additional premiums. You can also set specific coverage levels for depositor's forgery, computer, and funds transfers. Depending on your situation, you can buy Employee Dishonesty either on a stand-alone basis or as an add-on (endorsement) to your Business Owners policy or other Commercial insurance coverage. For more information on protecting your business against light-fingered employees, just give us a call.

Have You Reviewed Your Business Interruption Policy?

Author TonyScurich , 4/6/2016

Business Interruption (BI) insurance makes sense. Consider Allison Dorst, a New Jersey resident who operates three e-commerce web sites selling sportswear. Last fall, Superstorm Sandy brought a prolonged power failure that shut down Dorst's customer-service lines, causing sales to evaporate. She'll also see lower sales because of a month-long delay in the delivery of next season's styles. Fortunately, her Business Interruption coverage will reimburse the profits lost because of this lost revenue.

Although most middle-market business owners and managers understand the need for BI, they don't always have the information they need to choose the right coverage. Some companies don't have enough insurance to remain in business after they suffer a major loss, while other businesses might be buying more coverage than they need. When it comes time to renew your BI insurance, be sure to take a close look at the insured or reported values for the policy, as well as on the various coverage extensions that apply to your business, based on its operations. It also makes sense to consider additional coverages such as:

  • Contingent Business Interruption
  • Claim preparation fees
  • Extended period of indemnity
  • Expediting expense
  • Service interruption/power outage, including overhead transmission and off-premises lines
  • Extra expenses
  • Ordinary payroll coverage
  • Selling price of finished goods inventory
  • Ingress/egress
  • Loss of attraction
  • Civil authority
  • Sue and labor

We'd be happy to offer our advice, free of charge, in selecting the amount and types of coverage that can minimize your financial risk and keep you in business after disaster strikes. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time.


Protecting A Business From Sexual Harassment Lawsuits With EPLI Coverage And Prevention Steps

Author TonyScurich , 4/4/2016
By now, employers should all realize and understand that sexual harassment is illegal. However, what employers might not be aware of is that the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings in June of 1998 that expanded what is termed sexual harassment; expanded the responsibility that employers have to provide a work environment that's non-hostile; and did away with harassed employees having to prove that their company holds some responsibility or that their career suffered from lack of promotion, firing, demotion, or such. Employers are now directly responsible for employee behavior, thereby giving harassed employees more recourse in bringing about legal actions against employers. Work-related harassment and discrimination cases have been climbing steadily since the Civil Rights Act of 1991 allowed for trial by jury, compensatory damages, and punitive damages in legal cases involving discrimination. In fact, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the amount of annual employment harassment and discrimination cases being filed grew by more than 13% between 1997 and 2009.

Any employer that's ever been involved in a sexual harassment suit can attest that the cost to settle or defend a sexual harassment lawsuit can be jaw dropping. The average award for damages in these types of lawsuits is around $650,000, and that isn't even including the secondary cost from workplace disruption, bad publicity, and those involved in the suit being absent from work.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment? The first step in protection is understanding what is defined as sexual harassment. State and federal law prohibits behavior that involves an employee in authority basing professional expectations or decisions regarding a subordinate employee being willing or unwilling to exchange sexual acts. The following are examples of such behavior:

  • Altering expectations of job performance when a subordinate repeatedly refuses advances for a date or sexual encounter.
  • A superior demanding sexual acts in order for a subordinate to receive a raise or promotion.
  • Disciplinary action, including termination, of a subordinate that refuses sexual advances or ends an existing romantic relationship.
However, sexual harassment doesn't always involve a subordinate/authority figure relationship. An offender can be anyone from a coworker to a customer or business vendor. The offender can be male or female, as can the victim. Furthermore, the victim doesn't even need to be the employee actually harassed. Anyone that's affected by the harassing or offensive behavior can be termed a victim; for example, an employee that overhears two other employees discussing a taboo subject. The two employees directly involved might not be offended, but if the overhearing employee is offended, then it can constitute sexual harassment.

Verbal, visual, physical, or written behavior that causes another employee to view the work environment as hostile, are unwanted, or focus on the sexuality or gender of another person may constitute as sexual harassment. Specific examples of such would be teasing, suggestive objects or pictures being displayed, and repetitively requesting sexual acts or dates verbally or in writing.

Protection with Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). After knowing what constitutes sexual harassment, businesses can further financially protect themselves with Employment Practices Liability insurance (EPLI). This is an insurance to protect employers when an employee makes the claim that their legal rights have been violated. Although policies vary, EPLI generally doesn't cover criminal or civil penalties and punitive damages. EPLI does generally cover settlements, judgments, and incurred legal costs arising from an array of incidences - wrongful termination, employment contract breaches, employment and promotion failures, wrongful disciplinary actions, wrongful emotional distress infliction, negligent employee evaluations, employee benefit plan mismanagement, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Coverage is specific. So, before purchasing a policy, decide who should be covered. For example, should full and part-time employees, contracted persons, supervisors, department heads, subsidiaries, company divisions, and so forth be covered or not? One other note about EPLI is that it's mandatory for employers to report incidents within a reasonable amount of time. Some policies might feature an ERP (extended reporting period) or prior acts. The length, cost, and availability vary by carrier.

Purchasing EPLI has been challenging for small companies in the past. However, the 2004 rate increases have somewhat plateaued. Some rates have even decreased. Keep in mind that EPLI cost is figured based on the business type, employee numbers, and past lawsuits associated with the business.

Prevention of Harassment Lawsuits. Prevention is the cornerstone in decreasing the risk of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Prevention steps include the following key elements:

  • If the business has EPLI, any incident should be reported immediately.
  • Create, communicate, and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for workplace sexual harassment.
  • Have an effective harassment complaint process in place and take immediate, consistent, and appropriate action when a complaint is made.
  • Thoroughly document all complaints and the following investigation and actions.
 

Curbing Corporate Identity Theft: A Three-Step Approach

Author TonyScurich , 3/21/2016
2In the controversial Citizens United case, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have rights similar to those of an individual. It follows that they have identities and are vulnerable to identity theft.

Although insurance offers one way to manage this risk, it might well be a long time before a company discovers the theft -- at which point, it would be too late. To avoid or minimize the danger of having your corporate identity stolen, we'd recommend a three-step approach:

  1. Storing sensitive information. Sensitive files and information (credit card numbers, medical data, Social Security numbers, etc.) might be stored on computers, external drives, filing cabinets, or mobile devices. It's wise to consolidate and secure this data either physically behind lock and key or by using electronic network security measures. Be sure to train employees on handling, storing, and disposing of this type of information properly.
  2. Your business documentation. Identity thieves might use highly sophisticated or surprisingly elementary and low-tech techniques for delving into a company's records and misappropriating them. These might include intercepting paper mail, stealing trash, or physically taking documents. To safeguard this information, determine what records you need to run the business, inventory them, and use electronic statements to limit the amount of mail containing company information. Never share financial details or documents through e-mail!
  3. Credit reports. Check your company's credit reports regularly for unusual charges or bills.

The Federal Trade Commission (http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus69-protecting-personal-information-guide-business) provides a variety of resources you can use to help protect your corporate identity and confidential customer information against identity thieves.

Our agency's professionals would be happy to offer their help -- just give us a call.

 

Home, Sweet (Temporary) Home

Author TonyScurich , 3/18/2016
1If a disaster covered under your Homeowners insurance wrecks your home, you don't have to couch-surf until repairs are finished.

The standard Homeowners policy will pay for loss of use or Additional Living Expenses (ALE) - such as rental and hotel costs - while your dwelling remains uninhabitable

Check out these guidelines for using this valuable coverage:

  1. Know the amount of your ALE. The Homeowners policy caps additional expenses as a portion of the Dwelling coverage (usually 20%) and sets a time limit, such as 12 months. If you believe that you'll need more coverage, increase the amount before disaster strikes.
  2. Look for comparable digs. Staying in a hotel gets old rapidly, so you'll want to get settled quickly. However, don't decide too soon - you're entitled to stay in a place that's comparable in size and quality to your house.
  3. Count all your extra expenses. In addition to the cost of housing, don't overlook other expenditures - everything from restaurant meals while living in a hotel and fees for boarding pets to the expense of coin-operated laundry and extra mileage for driving further to work.
  4. Remember that the key word for ALE is "additional." The insurance company can deduct any money you save from living in temporary housing (such as the amount you would have spent on groceries from your reimbursement for restaurant meals while you're staying at the hotel).
  5. Keep your receipts. The insurance company will generally reimburse you for expenses as they're incurred, rather than paying a lump sum. Keep meticulous records of every expenditure, save all your receipts - and store them in a waterproof, zippered pouch.

For more information on your Additional Living Expenses coverage, please feel free to get in touch with us at any time.