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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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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.

 

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.

OSHA Offers Teen Workers Online Safety Tools

Author TonyScurich , 8/24/2016
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If you have teenagers, you're well aware that they're all too prone to take risks. Four in five U.S. teen (80%) have part-time jobs. Of these, more than half (52%) are in the retail sector, which includes restaurants and fast food establishments.

To help keep themselves safe on the job - and thus reduce their employers' risk-management exposure - teenagers who work in restaurants and agriculture can use interactive web-based training tools provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to OSHA, educating and training young people about safety in the workplace can help prevent injuries today and lead to a healthy workforce in the future. These resources provide practical information to protect young workers from hazards in industries where many of them are likely to work during high school and college.

The Teen Worker Safety in Restaurants eTool highlights the most common hazards in these workplaces and offers safety and health suggestions, safety posters, and electronic links to educate young workers about job safety. Areas of focus include serving, clean-up, drive-thru, cooking, food preparation, delivery, and worker rights and child labor laws.

The Youth in Agriculture eTool presents case studies that describe common hazards and offers safety solutions for teenage workers in such areas as farm equipment operations, confined spaces, and prevention of c injuries g from falls, electrocutions, and chemical exposures.

The OSHA Teen Workers page offers educational resources such as fact sheets on workplace rights and responsibilities, hazards on the job, ways to prevent injuries, work hours, job restrictions, etc.

Letting teenage workers know about these resources can benefit them - and their employers. What's not to like?


Six Steps To Protect Contingent Workers - And Your Business

Author TonyScurich , 7/15/2016
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"Contingent workers" {part-time, temporary, or contract employees) face a high risk of occupational injuries and illness. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, reasons include the tendency to outsource more hazardous jobs, worker lack of experience and familiarity with operations in a new workplace, inadequate protective equipment, and limited access to such preventive measures as medical screening programs.

Even though the safety of contract workers is the legal responsibility of the contractor, the OSHA General Duty Clause makes you responsible for protecting everyone in your workplace. To meet this obligation, and bolster workplace safety compliance, we'd recommend these guidelines:

  1. Make sure that the contractor agrees to comply with OSHA requirements. If the contractor doesn't follow safety rules, force compliance or stop work for breach of contract.
  2. Set safety compliance ground rules up front.
  3. Share accountability for safety compliance with the contractor. Although you might not be legally responsible for an accident caused by a contract employee, it's still your problem.
  4. Offer assistance. Explain hazardous conditions or processes during project orientation and stress any rules and restrictions, such as hot-work permit requirements, lockout/tagout, and confined spaces situations and needs.
  5. Document communications with contractors. Have them sign an agreement for resolving specific safety problems or for conducting inspections.
  6. Read the OSHA Multi-Employer Citation Policy compliance directive (CPL 02-00-124), which applies to contractors on your work site.

Finally, the fact that most contingent workers will only be in your workplace for a short time adds to the urgency of getting them up to speed on company safety policies ASAP.

For more information on keeping contingent workers safe in your workplace, please feel free to get in touch with us.


Opioid Abuse: Employer, Beware!

Author TonyScurich , 5/27/2016
1 Misuse of powerful prescription painkillers, whether intentional or accidental, is a rapidly growing threat to employers throughout the nation. Opioid overdoses caused more than 16,000 deaths in 2010, the latest year for which data is available; and about 12 million people use prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons. In addition to the human tragedy, opioid addiction creates a significant financial problem for both businesses - in terms of lost productivity - and their insurance companies. Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs Health insurers more than $70 billion a year; while narcotics prescriptions account for one-fourth of Workers Comp prescription drug expenses (costs that ultimately come out of employers' pockets). Government plays a significant role in dealing with this problem. The federal Department of Health and Human Services regulates Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) through the Division of Pharmacologic Therapies. On the state level, for example, California has followed the lead of Washington State by devising treatment guidelines to curb over-prescription and abuse of opioids. These measures include limiting opioid prescriptions to six weeks after surgery or injury and using non-opioid painkillers as a preliminary pain management measure in non-acute cases. However, these regulatory or legislative efforts can only go so far. No employer can afford to ignore the issue of opioid abuse among its workers - and your Workers Compensation manager is well-positioned to intervene in these cases by implementing a risk management plan that:
  • ensures that patients are treated early and effectively;
  • monitors and manages opioid prescriptions;
  • uses predictive modeling to tag potentially severe claims;
  • requires physician peer reviews for opioid prescriptions;
  • uses drug testing and screening workers prescribed with drugs;
  • provides post-addiction help; and
  • phases workers back into their jobs
We stand ready to offer our advice at any time.

10 Costly Return-To-Work Mistakes

Author TonyScurich , 4/15/2016
4 By decreasing work time lost from to job-related injuries and illnesses, Return-to-Work (RTW) programs can reduce your insurance costs (Workers Compensation, Disability, and Medical insurance), strengthen workplace morale, boost productivity - and help protect you against ADAAA litigation. Here are ten common mistakes by businesses when using RTW:
  1. Failure to manage the higher number of employees covered by the ADAAA. An expanded definition of disability has increased the number of employees under the ADA to the point that some attorneys advise against fighting disability claims.
  2. Insisting on employee release to "full duty" before returning to work. This raises Workers Comp costs and the possibility of the employee not returning to work when medically possible.
  3. Ignoring co-morbidities. Health issues that complicate or delay an employee's recovery (such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension) can increase Comp claims.
  4. Failure to commit the necessary budget or resources. The costs of absences and non-compliance with government rules is usually far higher than that of implementing an RTW.
  5. Reluctance to set transitional assignments because employees "might get reinjured." It's even riskier to have them stay at home and develop a "disability attitude" that extends the absence and boosts costs.
  6. Failure to distinguish "light duty" from "transitional work." The ADAAA permits employers to reserve less physically demanding or "light-duty" jobs for those with work-related disabilities - and these jobs should be distinct from transitional tasks.
  7. Relying on physicians to guide the RTW process. Although physicians are medical experts, they're not familiar with workplace policies, job demands, and the availability of transitional work.
  8. Failure to understand overlapping and conflicting laws. The clashing requirements of insurance companies and state and local governments can be a nightmare.
  9. Inability to focus on the goal. An Integrated Benefits Institute study ranked a focus on the employee's job as the major success factor in successful RTW programs.
  10. Believing that Workers Comp settlements resolve other liabilities. One size does not fit all.
 

Keeping Your Maintenance Workers Safe

Author TonyScurich , 3/16/2016
3A lack of maintenance or poor quality maintenance causes thousands of on-the-job accidents every year. What's more, maintenance workers face significant risks associated with their jobs.

According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics job fatality report, deaths due to poor maintenance rose 14%, year to year, in 2011, the highest level since 2006. Accidents from maintenance have a variety of causes: everything from falls caused by working heights, confined spaces or harsh environments associated with accessing equipment, and shocks and burns if power is not properly isolated, to injuries from moving machine parts, musculoskeletal problems caused by working in awkward spaces and exposure to asbestos and dangerous chemicals.

There are three types of maintenance:

  1. Routine or preventive maintenance keeps equipment working - such as a scheduled overhaul or replacement.
  2. Corrective maintenance gets broken equipment up and running again.
  3. Predictive maintenance uses tests for maintenance that is or will soon be needed.

To make your maintenance activities safer and more productive, follow these guidelines:

  • Emphasize planning and scheduling on every maintenance task.
  • Invest in affordable technology such as a thermographic camera (around $1,000) to detect variations of temperature that can reveal when a machine motor is not running properly.
  • Make sure that supervisors convey the right message consistently. Employees need to be told that accidents happen as a result of short cuts, such as failing to lock out a piece of equipment before performing maintenance.
  • Teach workers to intervene. If an employee walks by a piece of equipment that's making an unusual noise and doesn't tell their supervisor, it's the same as ignoring a co-worker who is working unsafely.
  • Get employees engaged and accountable. This can lead to culture change which makes safety the responsibility of everyone - not just of the safety and maintenance department.

For more information on maintaining your safety maintenance program, just get in touch with us.

 

Your Job Can Save You Money On Auto Insurance!

Author TonyScurich , 3/4/2016
4Engineers, firefighters, lawyers, teachers, and police officers all have one thing in common: they qualify for Auto insurance discounts with some insurers who have found that people in certain fields tend to be less risky drivers than those in other occupations.

A number of insurance companies offer discounts to those in a variety of professions - everything from architects, CPAs, and college professors through librarians, military personnel, and pilots, to physicians, registered nurses, and scientists.

Here's why: although practicing architecture or flying a plane doesn't necessarily make a driver more responsible, insurance underwriters don't have to prove cause and effect when setting rates. They need only show a relationship between these rating factors and risk.

A variety of factors can come into play in determining discounts. One Auto insurance company offers up to a 5 % discount to first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Because these people tend to work in the communities where they live, they probably don't commute long distances. First responders might speed down the road in emergencies, but not in their own vehicles, and they tend not to work from 9 to 5 - which means that they're at lower risk for accidents.

Discounts vary by occupation, insurance company, and state. Some companies offer discounts for a long list of occupations and professions, while others provide them to only a few, or none at all. Some jobs receive larger discounts than others.

Rules for discounts also vary by field. To qualify for one company's discount, health care providers must have a license to practice, as well as a degree. However, policyholders who have earned at least a bachelor in engineering, math, or science qualify for an 18% discount, even if they work in other fields.

Your occupation or profession might well entitle you to a substantial discount on your Auto insurance - even if you're retired. For more information, please get in touch with us.


Safety Training: Reinforcement Pays

Author TonyScurich , 4/27/2015

If workers don't use what they've learned in safety training sessions, they've wasted their time – and their employer's money. In many cases, the reason is a lack of reinforcement when they get back on the job. The first step in avoiding this problem is to meet with participants beforehand to agree on mutual expectations and objectives for the session. Depending on the type of training, this discussion can take place up to four weeks before the program begins. Don't wait until the day before the meeting. After the session, simply asking trainees how they liked the program is not enough – even though that's where reinforcement often stops. Instead, meet with workers individually and as a group for follow-up to help determine whether the training met everyone's expectations, the work environment is supportive of the concept(s) taught, and the participants know how to implement what they learned on the job. To reinforce the effectiveness of training, job safety experts recommend these guidelines:
  1. Be sure that the trainer(s) have a solid understanding of the participants' jobs and make the content relevant and practical.
  2. Link the training to your company's goals and objectives so that workers understand the importance and the relevance of the information.
  3. Minimize interference from the job during the session so that trainees can give their full attention to the content.
  4. Allow for reflection and application throughout the training, giving participants a chance to think about how to use this knowledge and skills back on the job.
  5. Provide opportunities for practice and feedback to reinforce the training.
We're always ready to advise you on implementing an effective follow-up program on your job safety programs.

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