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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.  

EDITOR'S COLUMN: Dealing with Speed

Author TonyScurich , 9/28/2016

Don Phin

I listened to an outstanding NYC Radiolab podcast on the subject of speed. To begin with, Radiolab is one of my favorite podcasts. The subjects are always interesting, but this was one of those episodes that causes you to really do some deep thinking. Many years ago. the great thinker Buckminister Fuller coined the phrase "accelerated acceleration." In a sense, things happen faster at an ever faster rate: Speed feeding on itself.

The podcast discussed relative aspects of speed; for example, how it affects stock trading. No longer are stocks traded on the floor, but through ten thousand servers, all connected to a motherboard on Wall Street. Trades are made in microseconds. This technology-driven speed has ended the career of many old school traders. While we might bemoan the good old days, this change has lowered the cost of trading for you and me.

The whole concept of speed is reengineering the workforce dramatically. Pretty soon, there will be an algorithm or program that solves just about every puzzle -- the Watson computer being an excellent example. Our best and brightest will continue to create those tools and figure out how to put them to good use. Technology has driven the middleman out of stock trading, just as in many aspects of business and much of the retail sector

How is this affecting your company? Where will the speed of transactions have an impact on your career? Who will get squeezed out next? What new jobs will be created?

Speed is directly related to time. All of us feel the stress of this speed on how we manage our time. I describe it as running 75 mph. Many think they can outdo the other guy if they run 80 mph. Years ago this was termed the rat race – and as Lilly Tomlin reminded us, "even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat." Nothing less than a fundamental reexamination of how we do our work will be required to survive the speed of change.

I highly encourage you to listen to this podcast: http://www.radiolab.org/2013/feb/05/. The last part of it is amazing and will blow your mind. It certainly made me want to learn more about the latest discovery that is shared. I won't spoil it by telling you what it's about. I had to listen to it three times for it to fully sink in. I'd be curious to know what you think after listening to this podcast.

PS...If you haven't yet done so, get thee to the Time Management Training Module on HR That Works. In order to manage the rate of speed better we have to better manage our time.

 

The EEOC Systemic Expedition

Author TonyScurich , 9/26/2016

In an issue of Corporate Counsel an article entitled It's a Systemic World Out There discusses the EEOC's pursuing large "systemic" cases. For example, in fiscal year 2011 they conducted 580 systemic investigations, filed 84 systemic lawsuits, and settled 35 systemic cases for total $9.6 million. Although your company might not be large enough to be on the EEOC's radar screen, I can tell you that attorneys are also suing small to midsized companies on a class basis. An employee walks into a lawyer's office because they didn't receive their final paycheck, and before you know it they're filing a class-action lawsuit against your company for missed overtime and meal periods. The article provided a few golden nuggets of advice:

  1. When responding to an EEOC inquiry, don't use the phrase "pursuant to our consistently applied policy." This only invites a broader request for information.
  2. Do not submit more information than is necessary.
  3. Conduct your own statistical analysis before submitting data.
  4. Do preventative analysis looking for adverse impacts in the hiring, promotion, or termination practices.
  5. Validate pre-employment tests.
  6. Conduct preventative compensation analysis periodically.
  7. Cover all internal analysis with attorney-client privilege. This might be impossible in smaller organizations, but you can certainly retain outside counsel to instruct you on how to conduct such analysis and report back to them.
  8. Listen to your employees. As I have always recommended, you should survey your employees, including use of the Employee Compliance Survey that can be found in HR That Works.
  9. Invigorate that underutilized internal complaint system. Again, go one step further and ask if there's a problem –don't wait for them to tell you there is one.
  10. Stay current with legal trends. This is one reason why HR That Works membership is so valuable.
  11. Walk the talk. Are you sensitive to the potential for your practices to cause adverse impacts? Frankly in my experience I can tell you that some business owners could care less about whether a practice causes an adverse impact. All they care about is getting the best employees they can, damn the EEOC. Of course, few companies appreciate a risk until they're hit with it.

Finally, the article points out how large corporations can gather the data requested by the EEOC easily because they have such large HRIS systems. However, most companies with less than 500 employees don't have this data readily available, and t collecting it can be an over-burdensome process. This is one reason to make sure that you hire an attorney any time you receive a communication from the EEOC or another regulatory agency.

 

Beware Of Negligent Supervision!

Author TonyScurich , 9/14/2016
Several courts have found yet another way for someone to sue contractors. This term refers to lawsuits against you for alleged failure to exercise proper control over your employers. For example, one of your employees might be accused of injuring others recklessly while driving a truck on company business. A "negligent supervision" suit would claim that you were negligent in hiring this worker because you either failed to discover or ignored the fact that she had a record of reckless driving. You also have an obligation to supervise your staff. Although you can't foresee every incident, a court will look at whether you took reasonable steps to identify and guard against potential wrongdoing by your employees: everything from unsafe behavior on the job site to sexual harassment. It's not only about whether a worker actually committed an offence - it's about what you did to prevent it. To head off liability for negligent supervision, we'd recommend that you:
  • Set and enforce clear guidelines for interviewing and hiring employees.
  • Provide training in conflict resolution and communication. Supervisors need to know when to report certain behaviors and which behaviors to look for, such as verbal abuse, failing to cooperate with supervisors or co-workers .and making inappropriate comments.
  • Conduct regular performance evaluations to address specific behavior or job performance changes.
  • Provide multiple avenues to receive allegations of misbehavior, and have unbiased managers investigate complaints so that no conflicts of interest exist. Investigate every incidents promptly and take decisive action.
We stand ready to review your company's exposure to negligent supervision claims - and how your Liability insurance coverage can help protect you. Just give us a call.

The Malware Epidemic: Seven Ways To Fight Back

Author TonyScurich , 8/5/2016
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Recent headlines about electronic spies hacking into computer networks from the Pentagon to China reinforce the dangerous reality that a "malware" (software that accesses systems to steal sensitive financial and client information) is becoming increasingly sophisticated and widespread.

According to a recent report from the NPD Group, the average U.S. household with a Web connection has 5.7 devices - desktops, laptops, tablets, and/or smart phones -- which are highly vulnerable to malware attacks. The more workers who use these devices to access the Web sites of their employers, the greater the threat of cybercrime. To help protect the security of your company's data against intrusion from malware, experts recommend taking these precautions:
  1. Identify the business processes and data you need to protect and the risks associated with them.
  2. Limit access to sensitive data to authorized users. Provide them with strong passwords and don't allow any sharing.
  3. Make sure that employees use only secure wireless networks when connecting to your site.
  4. Provide users with strong authentication measures and anti-malware software.
  5. Know your users and their behavior. Compare details of incoming login connections with the information you have about the user. If you find anomalies, add such precautions such answering a security question.
  6. Look for corrupted devices. Authenticated users might acquire malware on their devices that puts your data at risk once they log in. For example, man-in-the-browser (MitB) attacks can hijack authenticated sessions.
  7. Secure high-value transactions. Identify these transactions and refuse to accept them from devices with suspicious configurations.
Our agency's specialists can work with you in developing and implementing a comprehensive anti-malware program for your company. Please feel free to get in touch with us at any time.  

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.

Mobile security and the ways to mitigate data risk in a BYOD environment

Author TonyScurich , 7/27/2016
Mobile devices are the mighty double-edged swords of today's workplace. On the one hand, they provide greater integration of information, on the other, they could be your business's one-way ticket to a catastrophic security breach. This week we had the amazing opportunity to speak with Anthony Kinney, Microsoft's Verizon Partner Manager, about mobile security and the ways to mitigate data risk in a BYOD environment. According to Kinney, the three main security risk areas associated with BYOD are:
  1. Data loss prevention, which has to do with securing the data on a device in the case of it being lost or stolen.
  2. Data in transit, which is most often protected by encrypting information to ensure that all communications between the device and backend infrastructure are secure.
  3. Data leakage, which is about keeping a user's work and personal information separate. In other words, "protecting users from themselves."
We asked Kinney what Microsoft is doing to make sure that moving to a pocket office doesn't mean introducing security risk. He discussed how our multilayered approach to security makes adopting a BYOD policy far less of a risk, with solutions like Secure boot technology, remote "wipe" capabilities, and automatic cloud storage (among other security solutions). What makes the greatest difference, however, are the actions a company takes to ensure that their data is secure. The way Kinney sees it, employees jailbreaking and rooting devices is one of the largest risk factors for companies who allow employees to BYOD. What those companies do is implement third-party services to "containerize the data," so it never actually goes onto the local device. According to Kinney, Windows Phone solves for this by protecting the data at the data center level before it even gets to the device. This means each document can have specific edit/view/share settings so that when it's accessed on a mobile device it can't be 'saved as' or forwarded to another cloud service, depending on what the settings permit. This way the phone fully understands the corporate policies on the document, helping IT to provide security—even at the file level. This level of device integration with your data allows your company to consider a BYOD or CYOD policy without the need for third-party security solutions—which themselves offer another point of potential failure and risk. By working with your existing desktop OS, email, and other systems, the native Windows Phone OS helps mitigate data loss risk for your pocket office by preventing it in the first place.

Car Insurance Deal-Breakers: Non-Renewal And Cancellation

Author TonyScurich , 7/25/2016

aquaplaning-83008_1280If your Auto insurance company sees you as a deadbeat or high-risk or driver, it might cancel or non-renew your policy.

Because insurers take cancellation seriously they won't eliminate coverage for a traffic ticket or two. What's more, state regulators ban cancellations under most circumstances. However, a company can non-renew your insurance at the end of each policy period (six to 12 months) or cancel the policy during the first 30 to 60 days that it's in force. The main reason for midterm cancellation is nonpayment. State regulators set the requirements, such as a written notice of non-payment, together with a 10 to 30-day grace period to pay. Some states allow insurers to cancel coverage, usually for an activity - such as a DUI conviction that involves bodily injury or substantial damage - which indicates you're at high risk for an accident; or for misrepresenting your driving history (for example, not disclosing that your teenager was behind the wheel instead of you when an accident occurred). Some companies will backdate coverage to the cancellation date, while others will not cover you during the period when you haven't paid your premiums. If you can't bring your account up to date or the company cancels you for a reason other than non-payment, your policy probably won't be renewed - which means you'll have to look for insurance elsewhere, probably at a higher rate. Depending on the reason for cancellation, some companies might refuse to write your business. In this case, you can to turn to the state's assigned-risk pool, which offers bare bones coverage at higher rates. Your best move is to do everything possible to avoid cancellation or non-renewal. For example, if you can't afford to premium payments, consider reducing your coverage rather than take the risk or cancellation. For more information, just give us a call. We're here to help!