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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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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. 

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!  

Working With Third-Party Administrators Helps Control Claims

Author TonyScurich , 4/13/2016
1 Third-Party Administrator (TPA) adjusters form the front line of defense against unnecessary claims expenses, including such traditional cost drivers as fraud or opioid pain medication addiction. They're the ones who determine how soon employees will mend and return to the job, the length of claims, and whether closing a claim will require additional resources, such as attorney involvement. It makes sense that the more closely you monitor the adjusters of your company's TPA, the lower your Workers Comp claims costs - and premiums. However, adjusters today are running on overload more than ever. In addition to managing larger caseloads, they face growing real-time information demands, increasing communication speed, and expanding regulations - which distract them from such cost-control practices as staying in contact with injured workers. Says one claims adjustment expert, "The fastest way of getting an injured employee to hire an attorney is making them feel like you don't really care about their injury. So you end up with a lot more claims than necessary going to attorneys, which leads to higher claim costs." It makes sense to work closely with your TPA adjuster by following these guidelines:
  1. Interview adjusters before they're assigned to your company.
  2. Review the adjuster's claims notes on a regular basis.
  3. Audit the TPA's services periodically to make sure that the adjuster is meeting your expectations.
  4. Develop close relationships with claims examiners and their supervisors.
We'd be happy to work with you and your TPA adjuster on keeping tabs on your Workers Comp claims costs. Please feel free to get in touch with us.  

Side Job Doesn't Prevent FMLA Claim

Author TonyScurich , 3/9/2016
In the California case, Richie v. AutoNation, an employee out on CFRA (FMLA) was fired by his employer when he was found to have been working at a restaurant he owned during his leave period. The company's leave policy prohibited outside employment during leave. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, stating that FMLA/CFRA (the California equivalent) has a process to follow in shortening FMLA leave if you believe that an employee no longer qualifies for it. You cannot create your own rule or process and, in a sense, do an end run around FMLA protections. The court ruled that because job reinstatement is mandatory, the only way to stop leave properly is by following the CFRA process and questioning the medical opinion of the employee's doctor.

This decision reminds us that ignorance of legal requirements is no excuse. In this case, the company argued that it had a good faith defense because it was not aware of this limitation on managing leave. The court essentially said "So what? It's a mandatory statutory obligation, which you can't avoid." As a different court stated, "A showing that an employee is unable to work in the employee's current job due to a serious health condition is enough to demonstrate incapacity. The fact that an employee is working for a second employer does not mean that he or she is not incapacitated from working in his or her current job."

Some additional notes:

  1. The decision reminds us that an employer's policy on secondary employment during FMLA leave must be the same as that for employees who are not on FMLA leave. Otherwise, the policy itself violates the law.
  2. Second, the court overturned an arbitration decision in this case which allowed the court's good faith defense. Although review of arbitration is very limited, the court will step in if the arbitrator misapplied the law.
  3. Finally, whether it's FMLA leave, ADA accommodation leave, use of PTO or sick pay, etc., if you doubt the veracity of any employee's story (i.e. they were playing soccer or lifting pianos this weekend), you must follow the proper procedures so that you don't find yourself trapped like AutoNation did in this case.

Audit? What Audit?

Author TonyScurich , 2/24/2016
1Whenever you're asked to bid on a job, you're usually required to certify that the price is firm and that there won't be any unexpected expenses and cost overruns once the project is underway. Because this is standard practice in the industry, it's understandable that some contractors are surprised that their insurance costs don't operate the same way -- especially when the contractor has asked agents for "bids" on the insurance package. Neither Workers Compensation nor General Liability, two of the key coverages in Construction insurance, usually set fixed premiums. Because payrolls and/or revenues the contractor pays or earns during the policy period determine the premiums, and there's no way to know these costs in advance, the premiums will also be estimates. Once actual payrolls and revenues are known (usually after an insurance company audit after the end of the policy period), the company will set the final premium based on these figures. The contractor -- you -- will then receive either a refund (if your insured losses were lower than expected) or a bill for the additional premium due (when these losses are higher than expected). Although it's never pleasant to owe more money after a policy has expired, keep two things in mind: First, if the insurer were able to predict the final results accurately, it would have charged this amount in advance. Second, an additional premium due after an audit shows that you had a better year than expected -- and that's always good news! If you have any questions about how your insurance works or how premiums are calculated, just give us a call. We're here to help.

Disability Insurance: Differences Between Short & Long Term Policies

Author TonyScurich , 3/2/2015
Scurich Insurance Services, CA, Insurance ServicesYou know you should probably get disability insurance at some point. After all, you never know when an accident or illness will make it difficult for you to work. With both short and long term policies available, however, the choices can be confusing. Knowing the differences between these polices will help you sort out which one is better for you. The Long and Short of It  Short term disability is insurance that kicks in once you have exhausted the sick days available from your employer. Though policies vary, short term disability typically last about six months. While you might see payments that are nearly the same as your usual salary early on, they are often reduced to a percentage of that amount within a few weeks. Long term disability is designed for those catastrophic events that have the potential to mark the end of your paycheck-earning days. In many cases, long term disability begins when short term policies end. While some plans last only five to ten years, a more viable long term disability insurance policy lasts at least until you are 65 years of age. You Need Both for Complete Coverage  Given the overview outlined above, it is easy to see the place for both types of insurance in your life. Short term disability insurance is the ideal way to ensure coverage if you come down with pneumonia that sends you out of work for two weeks when you have already used up nearly all your sick days. Long term disability insurance is vital if that bout of pneumonia turns out to be a more serious illness that requires extensive care that could result in you being out of work on a permanent basis. Protect your assets and your family by ensuring that you have the necessary insurance coverage should you find yourself unable to work.

Gutter problems

Author TonyScurich , 9/23/2014
In an earlier article, we discussed tips to get your home ready for the fall season.  These tips are important, so there could be no potential denial of coverage should you need to file a claim. In this article, we want you to know what happens when you don’t clean out your gutter and the potential damage it could cause.
  • GutterLeaking gutters.  On the extreme side leaky gutters can also cause leaky roofs, mold, and it can rot away at the surroundings.
  • Leaky roofs.  If your gutter is filled with debris, any rain, snow, or ice, won’t be able to go anywhere, causing a leaky (and expensive repair) roof.
  • Basement leaks.  Gutters usually end up at the foundation of the house.  If there is any damage to the run off, then the water can wind up in your basement.
  • Rotted Wood.  Some houses and/or foundations are made of wood.  If the gutter is not properly taken care of, the build-up will cause wood to rot.
  • Cracks in foundation.  Same principle as above.  Any debris left can create cracks in the foundation.
This fall, don’t let your gutter get the best of you.  Stay tuned for Scurich’s tips to clean out your gutter. Content provided by Transformer Marketing.  

Let's go shopping!

Author TonyScurich , 7/2/2014
Scurich Insurance Services, CA, Let's go shopping!Are you looking for a great deal?  Who isn’t?  I know, I’m always on the lookout for a great deal that I can brag about later.  One way to search out for great deals is to do some research.  You see, every month offers some kind of great deals, and July is no exception. 4th of July The 4th of July is not just about fireworks and barbecues.  For the shopping expert, it’s also a great time to get fantastic deals on summer clothing (50-60% off), get yourself new patio furniture at discounts of up to 50% off and grills will have favorable discounts as well! For the gamer, video games are on sale. Go on vacation Did you book your summer vacation yet?  No?  That’s a good thing.  July is a great time to book a trip that is scheduled for late August.  Disney World hotels has some fantastic deals at the end of August.  Cruises throughout Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Mexico are also on the best trips list. Crank up the A/C Yes, it’s true that the best deals can be found in August or September, but July will give you 20% off air conditioner units.   We don’t anyone to melt from the heat. Isn’t nice to know that you don’t have to wait until Black Friday, Cyber Monday or after Christmas to find great deals? Content provided by Transformer Marketing.

Ac-hoo! Springtime is here

Author TonyScurich , 4/2/2014
Scurich Insurance Services, CA, AllergiesSpringtime is known for many things, including beautiful blooming plants and flowers.  Getting ready to plant new crops, warmer weather, longer days and allergies. Allergies bring watery, itchy, irritated eyes; runny noses; uncontrollable sneezing and plain sinus misery.  The most common allergies come from pollens, animal dander, mold spores, dust mite and cockroaches allergens. Here are a few tips to help you with your allergies this Spring season:
  • Head over to the pharmacy and stock up on allergy medications.  Talk with your doctor to see which ones will work the best for you.  Antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays should be at the top of your list.
  • You can also ask about allergy shots.   An allergy shot could mean the end all of all allergy medications.
  • Dehumidifers and air purifiers work great in the home.
  • Get mattress and pillow coverings.  Mattresses and pillows host a ton of allergens.  Getting a cover for the mattress and pillow and washing them once a week or so, will keep allergens to a minimum.
Before settling on any specific medical treatment for your allergies, please consult your doctor for the best treatment plan. Content provided by Transformer Marketing.

2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Re-cap

Author TonyScurich , 2/26/2014
Scurich Insurance Services, CA, 2014 Winter OlympicsAnother Winter Olympics season has come and gone and it was a nail-biter, right up until the end.  The United States had received the most medals up until the closing weekend, when Russia dominated in the events. Russia came through in the end, earning a total of 33 medals with 13 gold medals, 11 silver medals and 9 bronze medals.   The United States came in second,m earning a total of 28 medals with 9 gold medals, 7 silver medals and 12 bronze medals. Norway came in third with 26 medals, 11 of  the medals are gold, 5 silver and 10 bronze medals.   Here is the breakdown between Russia and the United States. Russia won the gold in the following categories: Biathlon-Men's Relay Bobsleigh-Four Men and Two Men Cross Country-Men's 50 km Figure Skating-Ladies, Pairs, Team Short Track-Men's 1000m, Men's 500 Men's 5000m Skeleton-Men Snowboard Men's Parallel Giant Slalom Snowboard Men's Parallel Slalom The United States won the gold in these categories: Alpine Skiing-Men's Giant Slalom, Women's Slalom Figure Skating-Ice Dance Freestyle Skiing-Men's ski halfpipe Freestyle Skiing-Men's ski slopestyle Freestyle Skiing-Women's ski halfpipe Snowboard-Men's slopestyle Snowboard-Women's halfpipe Snowboard-Women's slopestyle The complete list of all 2014 Sochi Olympic winners is here. Congratulations to all Olympians! Content provided by Transformer Marketing and http://graphicsweb.wsj.com/documents/sochi-medal-count/