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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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THE ABC’S OF HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENTS

Author TonyScurich , 10/31/2016
Bookmark and Share Because construction projects are complex operations involving a number of subcontractors under your supervision, onsite accidents or injuries resulting from their work can easily lead to litigation against you. To protect yourself against claims, losses, and expenses if disputes arise during the project, make sure that all subcontractors sign a “Hold Harmless Agreement” clause. The terms of these clauses will vary from state to state. In some cases, this clause will protect the contractor from claims by corporations or companies that did not sign the agreement. There are three types of hold harmlessagreements: Under the Broad Form, the subcontractor assumes all liability for accidents due to negligence of the general contractor, and combined negligence between the two parties. Because of its sweeping terms, this form is relatively rare – and some states prohibit it. With the Intermediate Form the subcontractor takes on all liability for accidents and negligence, but will not be held accountable for the general contractor's actions. It doesn’t matter whether the incident was the subcontractor’s fault. If both parties were negligent, the subcontractor assumes liability all for its acts or omissions. Intermediate form agreements are relatively common. A Limited Form agreement makes the subcontractor liable only for the proportional part of its responsibility for a mishap. Other parties – such as subcontractors – will be held liable under their hold harmlessagreement(s) for their corresponding part of the accident or negligence. The type of agreement that’s best suited for your needs will vary depending on the nature of the project and state laws. As always, we stand ready to offer you our professional advice.

OSHA Launches Campaign To Curb Construction Falls

Author TonyScurich , 10/28/2016
Falls are the leading cause of construction deaths. In 2014, fatalities from falls accounted for 359 out of 899 deaths in the construction industry. To curb such deaths and injuries, OSHA has joined forces with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).The Construction Nationwide Safety Awareness Campaign is comprehensive and based on three key steps for employers: Plan for safety, provide proper equipment, and train workers. To ensure safety on job sites that involve working from heights, plan how the project will be done and the tools needed. When estimating job costs, include these resources and have them available on site. For example, on a roofing job, think about such potential fall hazards – holes, sky-light, leading edges, etc. – and then select appropriate fall protection equipment, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). Provide workers who are six feet or more above lower levels with fall protection and the necessary equipment including ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear. If roof work is involved, have a PFAS with a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the device fits and inspect all equipment regularly. Finally, give workers “toolbox talk” training on potential fall hazards and the set-up and use of the safety equipment they’ll be using. The OSHA campaign has a number of training tools, job site posters, and other educational resources – (many of which target workers with limited English proficiency). To learn more about how to keep your workers from falling down (literally)on the job, feel free to get in touch with our construction insurance specialists.

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.

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.

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.

Is Your Cell Phone Policy Up To Date?

Author TonyScurich , 7/8/2016
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If not, you have a problem. For the past several years, more and more states and cities have limited or banned driver use of cell phones. Warns the Web site DrivingLaws.org, "Although employer responsibility isn't specifically defined in the cell phone legislation, there have been an increasing number of lawsuits relating to employer responsibility regarding mobile cell-phone use [by] employees."

With motor vehicle accidents the leading cause of work-related injuries, using cell phones behind the wheel ups the ante for litigation in case of death, injury, or other third-party claims. What's more, drivers injured while phoning on company time will generally be eligible for Workers Compensation.

The first step is to create and implement a cell-phone use policy for employees driving company vehicles. Although this won't protect you completely from legal responsibility, it demonstrates your forethought and responsibility.

This plan should include guidelines for:

  • Training. Provide instruction manuals so employees know the features of their phones.
  • Safety. Remind employees not to dial or talk when driving conditions are hazardous, keep conversations short, tell the other person that the employee is calling while driving, and turn off phones whenever they pump gas or use jumper cables.
  • Making calls. Discourage cell-phone use behind the wheel and require drivers to pull over and stop when dialing.
  • Voice mail/caller ID. Make sure drivers' phones have these features so they can screen calls behind the wheel.
  • Accident/injury reports. Require employees to report any accidents or injuries resulting from cell-phone use while driving.
  • Discipline. Punish workers who violate these rules or local or state laws about using cell phones behind the wheel.

We'd be happy to help you develop a comprehensive policy for drivers' use of cell phones. Just give us a call.


MANAGING SAFETY FOR AN AGING WORKFORCE

Author TonyScurich , 6/27/2016
1 Nearly one of four people aged 64 to 75 are still at work - and the number is skyrocketing, with more Baby Boomers who reach retirement age staying in the workplace. The good news: Older workers have a lower injury rate. The bad news: Their injuries tend to be more serious and require more time away from work. Senior workers have specific safety issues. Their retention is often shorter, they're more easily distracted, have slower reaction time, declining vision and hearing, and a poorer sense of balance. These physical limitations lead to specific types of injuries for older workers, ranging from falls to accumulated injuries after years of doing the same task What's more, they sometimes deny their deteriorating abilities, which can lead to them to trying to work past their new limits. Indicators that older workers might need accommodations can be physical (fatigue or tripping), psychological/emotional (loss of patience or irritability), numbers and patterns of sick days, or more frequent minor injuries or near misses. You can help protect your senior workers by:
  • finding ways for them to work smarter, not harder
  • decreasing activities that require exertion, such as working in heat or cold or climbing ladders
  • adjusting work areas with better lighting, reduced noise, fewer obstacles, and less need to bend or stoop
  • redefining standards of productivity
  • learning the limitations of older workers, perhaps by conducting annual hearing or vision tests
Make sure that safety culture becomes an institutional value for all employees. For example, when on-the-job feedback indicates that an older worker is having trouble, don't fire the person. This will discourage honest input from employees who might feel responsible for their co-worker's loss of employment. For more information on making your workplace safer for older employees, feel free to get in touch with us.

More Employees Using Benefits To Care For Children And Parents

Author TonyScurich , 6/20/2016
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An increasing number of employees in the "Sandwich Generation" are looking for benefits to help them manage the demands of caring for parents and children alike. A recent nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly half of respondents in their 40s and 50s have a living parent and are either raising a young child or supporting a grown one.

"There's an emerging recognition of the impact of caregiver stress on working parents' ability to be productive at home and at work," says David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons, a provider of dependent back-up care services. "Particularly as families wait longer to have children, there's more at stake in their careers and they're pulled in many directions, dealing with the realities of their aging parents."

On average, access to Bright Horizons allowed employees to work six days during the past six months - productive time that otherwise would have been lost - and nearly 70% of these workers used the service for adult care.

Care.com, another provider of backup care services for employees, saw a three-fold increase last year in the number of clients that added senior care planning. IRobot, Inc. chose Care.com as an employee benefit because "we value our employees and want to support them in managing the demands on their personal lives," says benefits analyst Cathy Blanchard. Since adding the service, iRobot has seen a 15% month-to -month increase in using the program, which has boosted productivity by reducing costs from care-related absences and distractions.

If you'd like to learn more about offering day care for adults and children as an employee benefit, just give us a call.

 

How Can Workers Prove Chronic Pain: Case Studies to Learn From

Author TonyScurich , 6/15/2016
Unfortunately, you can't actually see chronic pain. You can talk to someone who physically looks fine, yet is claiming they can barely stand up. Since pain is felt differently by different people, medical professionals and laypeople alike have difficulty categorizing and defining the more severe injuries. This leads to confusion and sometimes outright fraud. Let's look at how pain is defined by using a specific case study. A Question of Proof How injured do you have to be to claim injury? Do you have to be constantly writhing in agony or is it only when you make specific motions? These are specific questions that get a bit touchy. Recently, a man who filed for compensation claimed that he needed a wheelchair but was then shown to be out of his home shopping without it (and seemingly without pain) through video surveillance. They also had him on camera performing a number of other activities as well. He was arrested with the possibility of up to five years in jail. Since the amount paid out due to his injury was more than a half million dollars, it's certainly brought about some attention in his area of Florida. The man was a deputy there, and was injured when bending to get his laptop from the trunk of his police cruiser in 2007. After that, he went through surgery and stated that he couldn't walk, drive or bend, which has then been shown to be false by videos. He states that he had always been consistent in reporting his pain to be inconsistent because no two days are alike. He says that while the video may show him driving and running errands, he can only do so in limited ways. He claims his whole life is a mess, with his job ripped out from under him and expenses piling up. It's now up for the courts to decide who has the better claim and what will happen. Employer Tips  No employer wants to follow their employee around constantly to check up on their progress and verify the truth in their claims. Also, it's difficult to accuse someone who's experienced severe injuries of trying to game the system. However, sometimes it's necessary with the case of chronic pain to be more involved. Medical professionals have been shown consistently to raise costs without cause in certain areas where they have direct financial incentives to do so as well. Through questions and visits, you can start to see the character of the person behind the claim as well as the treatment they're receiving. If you do suspect foul play on either side, then your insurance company will be more than happy to help. After all, they stand to lose out on fraudulent claims too.

New Compensation Rating Formula Lowers Premiums For Most Businesses

Author TonyScurich , 5/25/2016
1 A revision to the formula for calculating Workers Compensation rates is saving premium dollars for companies in a large number of states since the first of this year. The change involves the experience modification ("mod"), the premium credit or debit that businesses receive for their claims experience. The mod compares your claim experience to that of other firms in your industry; if your experience is good, you'll get a premium credit if not, you'll receive a debit. What has changed is the "split point" between the primary and excess portions of a claim. This value is important because the primary portion of each claim has a far larger impact on predicting an employer's mod than does the excess portion. For the past two decades, the split point has been $5,000. However, inflation has both eroded the primary/excess split point and hurt its predictive power; the mod doesn't give enough credit to good experience and doesn't penalize poor experience enough. The change raises the split point to $10,000 in 2013, $13,500 in 2014, and an estimated $17,000 in 2015. In 26 of the 38 states that have approved the new formula, a survey of more than 75,000 businesses by the National Council on Compensation Insurance found that 62% of them will see their rates fall by 5% or less this year. Another 11% will enjoy decreases of 5% to 10%, while rates will stay unchanged for 4.5%. Fewer than one in four (22.5%) - mostly larger businesses - would see a rate increase. Our Workers Comp specialists would be happy to discuss the revised experience mod formula with you - and make sure that you enjoy the cost savings that it can provide. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time.