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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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Check Out This Social Media Use Checklist

Author TonyScurich , 10/21/2016
  Social media rules! In recent studies, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr users sent tens of millions of messages every day– and new players keep entering the marketplace. Although these platforms provide significant benefits for businesses of all sizes, they also pose a variety of risks. Everything from employment, privacy and security, through intellectual property to media-related liability. Chances are your employees are using social media, either at home or work, in ways that could put your business at risk. To limit this exposure, experts recommend creating social media guidelines based on a five-point checklist:
  1. Assess both your company’s general social media activities and individual social media campaigns, weighing potential risks against benefits as accurately as possible.
  2. Designate specific individuals and departments to develop, execute, and monitor a comprehensive and proactive social media strategy – and make a senior executive responsible for implementing it in a timely fashion.
  3. Have the policy reviewed by the relevant departments (human resources, IT, communications, and legal) and by an outside law firm.
  4. Because employees pose the biggest risk to a company, although often unwittingly,,provide educational programs about the danger of damage to the company by using social media on the job or at home.
  5. Create a social media agreement for employees to review and sign as a condition of employment and part of their employment contract. Update the agreement annually, or as often as needed, to address changes in social media that might impact your risk in new ways.
Following this checklist will help position your business to reap the enormous benefits that participationin social media offers. As always, we’re here to help you– just give us a call!  

Business Continuity Planning: A Three-Step Approach

Author TonyScurich , 10/19/2016
Every business is vulnerable to disruptions. Most companies have taken steps to mitigate the impact of major hazards. However many businesses have neglected smaller, more probable perils, ranging from inadequate fire protection and offsite data backup, through the death or disability of key personnel, to over-reliance on a limited number of vendors. While you can transfer many risks that could disrupt your business to insurance companies (through such coverages as Business Interruption and Extra Expense policies), this probably won’t be enough to ensure that the company will survive or continue its long-term growth and profitability. To prevent and/or reduce the impact of such a mishap, it makes sense to implement Business Continuity Planning (BCP). This process involves three key steps:
  • Pre-disruption planning. Assess the “risk and threat environment” of your business and take steps to reduce these hazards and weaknesses.
  • Disruption response. The extent and nature of losses will depend on the effectiveness of the emergency plans that you implement during the incident to provide a methodical, rational, and coordinated approach to dealing with the disruptions.
  • Post-disruption recovery. While the first two steps can reduce or mitigate risk, the recovery process focuses on rebuilding and restoration. Although many businesses depend heavily on central and distributed computer resources, a comprehensive BCP involves a wide variety of crucial activities that need to continue with minimal interruption.
Your BCP should not be a one-time project that involves creating a plan and then moving on to “business as usual” – but a long-term commitment to design, develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive, company-wide strategy to keep your business running effectively.. We’d be happy to review the risks facing your business and tailor a Business Continuation Plan to your needs.

Reclassifying Obesity Could Raise Comp Premiums

Author TonyScurich , 10/12/2016
Injured workers who gain weight due to inactivity or as a side effect of medication will probably receive higher workers comp benefits, thanks to the American Medical Association’s recent reclassification of obesity as a disease. That’s the conclusion of a recent six-year study of claims by the California Workers' Compensation Institute. According to the report, although this reclassification doesn’t have legal standing, the AMA’s positions often have a strong influence on lawmakers, regulators, and health care providers. Immediately after the decision, senators and congressmen introduced bipartisan bills requiring Medicare to cover more obesity treatment costs, including prescription drugs and intensive behavioral weight-loss counseling, which will give health care providers a financial incentive to use these remedies. Judging from the results of the California study, this means that businesses can expect to pay more for workers comp. The report found that the costs of comp claims that listed obesity as a “comorbidity,” or additional cause, were far greater than for claims without them. Medical benefits for comorbidity cases cost 81% more than for other cases, while indemnity payments averaged nearly 65% higher. More two in three claimants with obesity comorbidity received permanent disability, nearly five times the rate for the non-obese. Finally, the use of narcotic painkillers was significantly higher among overweight claimants. Obesity might even become a primary comp diagnosis for jobs such as long-haul trucking or office work that require employees to remain seated for extended periods. The bottom line: look for the management and financial changes stemming from the reclassification of obesity as a medical condition to create new challenges and incentives for health care professionals, businesses, and workers compensation insurance companies. We’ll stay on top of these changes to help make sure that your company has the coverage you need at a competitive rate.  

Five Steps To Stay In Business After A Disaster

Author TonyScurich , 9/23/2016
Storage Fire In Watsonville, CA Three out of five firms that suffer a major disaster go out of business or are sold. Preparing your business to survive a disastrous event involves a multi-step process: assessment, planning, implementation, testing, and documentation.
  1. Assessment: Brainstorm and list all potential losses. Then rate them on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the most disastrous and 1 having the least impact on the business.
  2. Planning: Formulate a comprehensive, detailed action plan, using both in-house and outside sources. The plan should include both steps to prevent the loss and remedies to take if the loss occurs. Be as specific as possible.
  3. Implementation: Act on the plan. Determine what steps you must take to now insure a positive outcome if disaster strikes; Who will be accountable for taking these steps when and to whom will they report?
  4. Testing: For example, if you're planning to deal with a computer crash, data recovery is essential. Test back-up media regularly to ensure that they will be available when needed. All too many businesses lose data due to malware or mechanical breakdown only to find that their backup is either corrupted or unavailable when needed.
  5. Documentation: Put the details of the plan (who, what, when, and where) in writing. Keep one copy in the office, another on the computer, a third off premises - and make sure that every manager knows these locations. Finally, review and update the plan every six months.

Although nothing is foolproof, implementing these five steps can go far to prevent a disastrous loss, or at least, mitigate its impact.

To learn more about developing a disaster plan for your business, feel free to give us a call at any time.

 

Workers Comp Prescription Narcotics Abuse: Fight Back!

Author TonyScurich , 9/2/2016
4 The use of narcotics in treating injured workers faces heavy scrutiny today - and for good reason. The latest National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI) Annual Issues Symposium found that:
  • The average cost of narcotics per Workers Comp claim rose from $39 in 2003 to $59 in 2011. This is a rate of 0.79 narcotic prescriptions per claim, up from 0.56 in 2003 - a 14% increase in eight years.
  • More than 5% percent of Comp claims that resulted in at least one prescription for if anymedication included five or more narcotics prescriptions.
To curb the prescribing of narcotics for your injured employees, start by choosing the right Workers Comp physician. In most states, businesses have the legal right to designate the physician that injured employees must use. To find a physician in your area who is board certified in Occupational Medicine, go to http://www.acoem.org/. If none is available, look for a doctor who takes patients on Workers Compensation. In many cases, urgent care clinics make great partners. Once you find a physician, talk to him or her about your business, discuss your return-to-work program and the types of transitional jobs you offer - and ask about their attitude toward prescribing narcotics. Even if state law prohibits you from requiring injured workers to see a specific physician, you can still suggest that they do so. For example, you might say, "Doctor Joan at Acme Urgent Care has treated many of your co-workers and they've gotten better quickly." Selecting a doctor who doesn't dispense drugs and only prescribes narcotics when they're are absolutely necessary can go far to help injured employees get back to work and be healthy and productive as swiftly as possible - while keeping your Workers Comp costs under control.

DOMA Ruling Complicates Benefits Administration

Author TonyScurich , 8/17/2016
1The Supreme Court decision (Windsor v. U.S.) legalizing more than 1,000 federal spousal benefits for same-sex couples will have a major impact on the administration of pensions and health plans for employers throughout the nation. For example, the high court's ruling overturning the benefits provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) means that surviving same-sex spouses under a defined-benefits retirement plan will now be entitled to receive survivor annuity payments. The decision's expanded definition of "marriage" will require companies that offer self-funded health benefits for married spouses to extend this coverage to same-sex couples. The sheer number of benefits under DOMA, together with variations among laws and regulations on the state level - especially in the 38 states that don't recognize same-sex marriage - will make implementing the Windsor decision a challenge for businesses that offer spousal benefits to their workers. To deal with this changing situation, we'd recommend that you:
    1. Have your attorney(s) review the benefits that you're providing to employees' spouses for compliance with the new requirements; ask for guidance from federal and state regulators.
    2. Implement the administration of new same-sex benefits (for example, amending your payroll procedures to update the federal income tax treatment of qualified benefits programs for spouses) as soon as possible - certainly by the end of this calendar year or the plan year.
    3. Provide complete documentation of the revisions to your plans.
    4. Before you communicate these changes to your employees, do your homework and be prepared to answer their questions.
As Employee Benefits specialists, we can help guide you through this process - just give us a call. 

EMPLOYEES AND E-MAIL: SECURITY VS. PRIVACY

Author TonyScurich , 8/1/2016
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How can you oversee your employees' use of company e-mails without violating their privacy?

According to a recent nationwide survey, more than 40% of businesses monitor their workers' e-mails. If you're one of these companies, a disgruntled employee might well sue you for invasion of privacy (the number of privacy lawsuits has skyrocketed by 3,000% during the past decade). The best way to protect yourself against this risk is to create a written policy warning employees that you might be monitoring their use of e-mail. Bear in mind that because your business owns the e-mail system - software, network access, and computers - you have the legal right to oversee workers for misusing it to violate company policy or break the law. The first step in implementing this policy is to have all employees sign a disclaimer that acknowledges the company's right to monitor their e-mail. You can do this when an employee is hired, at contract renewal, or at a company meeting - and don't forget to circulate any updates to the policy throughout the company. Apply e-mail monitoring as uniformly as possible, because singling out an individual without a clear reason to do so could leave you vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit. Finally, be sure to have your attorney review the policy. A comprehensive e-mail policy can: 1) provide an effective defense against invasion of privacy litigation 2) educate your employees on the proper use of e-mail - which should go far to reduce potential problems from misusing the system. If you'd like to learn more about how to balance protecting the integrity of your company's e-mail system with your employees' right to privacy, please get in touch with us. As always, we're here to help.

Emergency Notification Systems: Be Prepared!

Author TonyScurich , 7/11/2016
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The disastrous Japanese earthquake/tsunami of March 2011 drowned thousands of people - but the toll would have been far higher without the nation's comprehensive warning system, which combined radio broadcasts, text messages, and sirens with firefighters' door-to-door calls.

Every business needs an effective emergency communications notification system that has low-tech and high tech elements. Here's an overview of the advantages and disadvantages that each type offers:

Low-tech systems can be effective, but have serious limitations. Although calling trees are valuable for mass communications, they're slow, subject to errors, and breakdowns. Sirens and alarms provide immediate warning and can alert everyone who's in a dangerous area; however, they can't provide much information and have a limited range. Intercom systems are reasonably fast and can communicate detailed information, but usually operate in only one building.

High-tech systems provide automated mass notification of detailed warnings rapidly and accurately to a wide range of devices, including phones (land line and cell) and computers (e-mail and instant messaging) through multiple communication networks. High-tech systems can also target messages to individual groups, such as first responders. However, they don't offer a panacea. For one thing, cell phones might be turned off. Although communication with cell phones is available by voice mail or text messaging, these systems are vulnerable to a general outage of communication networks. Their "call capacity" might be a serious limitation, especially for larger firms.

For most businesses, a warning system that blends low tech (alarms and sirens) with high tech (automated notification) can provide effective communication when an emergency strikes.

When choosing a system, you should also weigh such factors as cost and ease of use.

Our risk management experts would be happy to offer you their advice.

 

Vision And Dental Care Benefit You - And Your Employees

Author TonyScurich , 6/29/2016
Voluntary Vision and Dental insurance is becoming increasingly popular among mid-sized companies as a way to bolster their employee benefits programs. Since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, benefit providers have been adding Vision and Dental care, giving mid-market companies a variety of choices among competitively priced plans that can help attract and retain quality workers. "We continue to see that benefits like these are good for driving employee loyalty and job satisfaction," says Alan Hirschberg, vice president of dental and vision products for MetLife Inc. Sales of Voluntary benefits keep growing: a survey last by industry association LIMRA International, Inc. showed that Vision coverage increased 75% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2012, while Dental care rose 1%. To help curb costs, mid-sized businesses often ask employees to pick up at least 30% of premiums for these plans. Most workers are fine with this because the premiums are relatively inexpensive. In addition to supplementing Group Health insurance, Vision and Dental plans cover tests and procedures that can reduce employers' health care costs down the road. For example, eye and dental exams can be crucial in early detection and management of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. When it comes to Voluntary benefits, one size does not fit all. For instance, highly compensated employees might want a Dental plan that covers adult orthodontics, while lower-wage workers might prefer coverage for cleaning, fillings and other basic care. Companies can also offer multiple plans, allowing workers to select the premiums and coverage they prefer. We'd be happy to work with you in tailoring cost-effective, comprehensive voluntary Vision and Dental plans that can benefit your business - and your employees.

Equipment Breakdown Insurance: A 'Must Have' Coverage

Author TonyScurich , 6/6/2016

You're facing a deadline to complete work under a major contract - when a voltage spike surges through your electrical lines, burning out computers and telephone equipment. How would you pay for replacing or repairing the damaged equipment, taking the steps needed to get back in production, and replacing lost income?

In today's high-tech electronic world, more and more companies are buying Equipment Breakdown policies (formerly known as Boiler & Machinery insurance) to protect themselves against losses from a variety of mishaps that are sometimes unpredictable and often unavoidable: everything from mechanical failure or electrical short circuits to "arcing" (faulty wiring or motor burnout. The rapid growth of Internet marketing and "just in time" inventory make businesses more dependent than ever on computers - while critical data often exists only on the Internet or online databases that can't be accessed when equipment breaks down. Depending on their size and sophistication, some businesses include this coverage in their Property insurance, while other purchase it as an endorsement to the policy. A comprehensive Equipment Breakdown policy should include:
  • Reimbursement for the cost of repairing or replacing damaged equipment (Some policies also cover green construction, disposal and recycling methods)
  • Replacement of income lost from downtime ("Business Interruption" or "Service Interruption" coverage)
  • Assistance from your insurance carrier, ranging from maintenance guidelines and checklists and crisis planning templates to identifying sources for repairs, unusual parts, or replacement equipment that can be obtained quickly.
Our Business insurance experts would be happy to help you obtain a cost-effective Equipment policy that's tailored to your needs. Just give us a call.