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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 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.

 

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.

EDITOR'S COLUMN: THE HR ALCHEMIST

Author TonyScurich , 8/19/2016

Don Phin

In one of my favorite new age books, The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho discusses four obstacles to realizing the journey towards our Personal Legend:

  1. The first obstacle is resignation to failure. We're told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. In many cases, we're the ones telling ourselves this - and we believe it!
  2. The second obstacle is misunderstood love. Says Coelho, "We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream." In a sense, we're afraid to change because the people around us might not love us as much if we do. For example, they might view us as a threat, mirror our own inadequacies, or break away from the norm or culture. Coelho encourages us to accept that love is a stimulus; that the people who truly love us want the best for us: to be worthy of the miracle of life.
  3. The third obstacle is the fear of failure. According to Coelho, "We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we might not understand how." In my personal experience, when we follow our passions we get what we ask for - just not when or how we expect it. There is no journey without roadblocks, setbacks, and challenges. This is what strengthens us. Our character is no different than our muscles: You use it or you lose it.
  4. Finally, there's the obstacle of self-sabotage. As Oscar Wilde said: "Each man kills the thing he loves." According to Coelho, the mere possibility of getting what we want fills our souls with guilt. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be so fortunate when there are so many people in pain? Do I somehow think that I'm now better than other people because of my success?' The ancient Greek term was hubris. When we become too full of ourselves and our accomplishments, the end is near. That's why the journey is never about arriving, but traveling forever. Says Coelho, "I've known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reach their goal - when it was only a step away." I know many of those people too.

When you think about your career, where have these obstacles shown up? Where do you have personal doubts about your ability to accomplish your Personal Legend? Who or what is attempting to hold you back from meeting these goals - or is this a story of your own making? Are you willing to accept that the journey toward success is guaranteed to come with more suffering than for those who are willing to simply be comfortable? Finally, are you willing to find joy in your success without the need to sabotage it?

Here are some Coelho quotes from The Alchemist:

  • "If someone isn't what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own."
  • "There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth."
  • "To realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation."
  • "The only reason why each day feels the same as the next is because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises."
  • "I'm an adventurer, looking for treasure."
  • "Making a decision is only the beginning of things. When you make a decision, you're really diving into a strong current that will carry you to places you had never dreamed of when you first made the decision."
  • "When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream"
  • "Every search begins with good beginner's luck. Every search ends with the victors being tested severely."
  • "When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others about them, you are seldom believed."
  • "When something evolves, so does everything around it as well."
  • "When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too."
  • "The world's greatest lie is that we lose control of our own lives and must let them be controlled by fate."
  • "Be worthy of the miracle of life."

EMPLOYEES AND E-MAIL: SECURITY VS. PRIVACY

Author TonyScurich , 8/1/2016
4

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.

What’s more secure; financial records locked in a filing cabinet or financial records stored in the cloud?

Author TonyScurich , 7/29/2016
Pop quiz time. What's more secure; financial records locked in a filing cabinet or financial records stored in the cloud? If you don't understand how cloud security works, you probably said the filing cabinet. It's time for a little mythbusting about how secure your paperless office could be. Last week, Cindy Bates posted on the Microsoft SMB Blog about the benefits of a completely paperless office. Like Delta Airlines, who recently switched to the paperless cockpit, it's possible for any office or organization to ditch the dead trees and move entirely into the digital space. One of the first questions decision makers ask when considering the paperless office is "how secure is this?" It's a fair question, so let's consider Delta's paperless cockpit example and overall data security. The problem with paper is that, well, it's paper. Paper gets lost, it burns, it can be misfiled and disappear. It's only as secure as its physical location. If that location is a locked filing cabinet (or a vault under Fort Knox), if someone really wanted to get to it, they could. A file in the cloud cannot burn, be stolen, accidentally left behind in a restroom, or any other number of things that could affect a hard copy of important information. For a recent example, take a look at the Internet Archive, whose scanning facility in San Francisco caught fire. Although no data was stored in their San Francisco office, if it had been, cloud redundancies would have prevented any loss. But what about a data center, such as what powers Windows Azure or Office 365? Let's start with physical security: data centers are monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A team of ninjas could, in theory, break in, but they'd still have to know which of the thousand machines contained your exact data—so unless you've upset the cast of Ocean's 11, it's significantly less likely than an office fire that could destroy physical data. In addition, with Office 365, data transmitted across networks is encrypted—so if some agency (or other villain) happens to tap the wires, they still won't be able to read your files. While a move to a paperless office does not entirely guarantee data security—there are still those ninjas to think about—it is significantly more secure than leaving your information in paper form, where it could be destroyed or stolen with greater ease. It's just one more reason to go paperless.  

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!  

What’s more secure; financial records locked in a filing cabinet or financial records stored in the cloud?

Author TonyScurich , 1/29/2016
Pop quiz time. What's more secure; financial records locked in a filing cabinet or financial records stored in the cloud? If you don't understand how cloud security works, you probably said the filing cabinet. It's time for a little mythbusting about how secure your paperless office could be. Last week, Cindy Bates posted on the Microsoft SMB Blog about the benefits of a completely paperless office. Like Delta Airlines, who recently switched to the paperless cockpit, it's possible for any office or organization to ditch the dead trees and move entirely into the digital space. One of the first questions decision makers ask when considering the paperless office is "how secure is this?" It's a fair question, so let's consider Delta's paperless cockpit example and overall data security. The problem with paper is that, well, it's paper. Paper gets lost, it burns, it can be misfiled and disappear. It's only as secure as its physical location. If that location is a locked filing cabinet (or a vault under Fort Knox), if someone really wanted to get to it, they could. A file in the cloud cannot burn, be stolen, accidentally left behind in a restroom, or any other number of things that could affect a hard copy of important information. For a recent example, take a look at the Internet Archive, whose scanning facility in San Francisco recently caught fire. Although no data was stored in their San Francisco office, if it had been, cloud redundancies would have prevented any loss. But what about a data center, such as what powers Windows Azure or Office 365? Let's start with physical security: data centers are monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A team of ninjas could, in theory, break in, but they'd still have to know which of the thousand machines contained your exact data—so unless you've upset the cast of Ocean's 11, it's significantly less likely than an office fire that could destroy physical data. In addition, with Office 365, data transmitted across networks is encrypted—so if some agency (or other villain) happens to tap the wires, they still won't be able to read your files. While a move to a paperless office does not entirely guarantee data security—there are still those ninjas to think about—it is significantly more secure than leaving your information in paper form, where it could be destroyed or stolen with greater ease. It's just one more reason to go paperless.

The Ten Commandments Of Workplace Safety

Author TonyScurich , 12/30/2015

Following these principles of leadership will help you and your employees focus on job safety:

  1. Don’t walk by. It is everyone’s responsibility to prevent any potentially unsafe acts and conditions they witness from turning into accidents.
  2. STOP! Encourage employees to stop working whenever they feel unsafe, no matter what reason they give.
  3. Focus on a safe working environment. If you expect your workers to work safely, make their workplace as safe as possible.
  4. Don’t blame the worker first. Unsafe ways of working, accidents, incidents, and ill health aren’t necessarily the worker’s fault. The problem often comes from less obvious causes, such as decisions by management.
  5. Use your workforce for ideas. Employees often have a more accurate idea than you or your managers about which safety and health practices will work, because they deal with these issues every day.
  6. Be patient. Don’t expect quick wins. Improvements will emerge over time, but only if you stick with them.
  7. Explain your decisions. Just telling workers that something is wrong or a safety risk isn’t enough. If they’re to act on the information you provide, they need to know why and how to avoid harm.
  8. Lead by example. Your behavior sends powerful signals. If you carry out your job in a safe way, your workers are more likely to do the same. If you don’t, they won’t imitate you.
  9. Focus on co-operation. Treat your subcontractors in the same way as employees by encouraging them to communicate with each other.
  10. Don’t neglect occupational health. If you look after the health, as well as the safety, of your workers today, you’re less likely to create problems for them or your business tomorrow.

Sound advice!


Three Seconds for Safety

Author TonyScurich , 7/17/2015

Rear-end collisions are the most common accidents between vehicles.1 They occur when drivers do not have enough time to perceive and react safely to slowing or stopped traffic. Increasing your following distance can help give you time to react when someone brakes in front of you.

The Three-Second Rule

Increasing the distance between you and the car ahead can help give you the time you need to recognize a hazard and respond safely. The National Safety Council recommends a minimum three second following distance.2

Determining the three-second gap is relatively easy. When following a vehicle, pick an overhead road sign, a tree or other roadside marker. Note when the vehicle ahead passes that marker, then see how many seconds it takes (count 1-1,000; 2-1,000; 3-1,000) for you to pass the same spot. If it is not at least three seconds, leave more space and increase your following distance.

Think of following distance in terms of time, not space. With a standard of 2.5 seconds, highway engineers use time, rather than distance, to represent how long it takes a driver to perceive and react to hazards. The National Safety Council also uses this standard (plus a little extra for safety) when recommending the three-second rule for following distance.3

Sometimes Three Seconds Is Not Enough

The three-second rule is recommended for passenger vehicles during ideal road and weather conditions. Slow down and increase your following distance even more during adverse weather conditions or when visibility is reduced. Also increase your following distance if you are driving a larger vehicle or towing a trailer.

Distractions, such as texting, reaching for a drink or glancing at a navigation device, also play a role in rear-end collisions. Even if you use the three-second rule, you may not have time to react to a hazard if you are distracted. It is another reason why you should avoid distractions while driving.4

  


How to Help Prevent Offline Identity Fraud

Author TonyScurich , 7/6/2015

file0001578443946Contrary to popular belief, identity fraud does not always begin online. According to Travelers claim data, 44 percent of ID fraud cases happen when a person's purse or wallet has been lost or stolen. Thieves can use the information they find inside for ID fraud, so here are some critical steps to help protect yourself and your identity.

Watch Your Wallet and Purse

Many people store personal information in their purses and wallets, making it easier for thieves to commit identity fraud. Help secure your identity by keeping your purse and wallet in a safe place and carrying only essentials when you go out. Leave credit cards you will not be using in a secure place at home. Unless it is absolutely necessary, avoid carrying Social Security cards, birth certificates or passports as they contain key pieces of personal information thieves could use to steal your identity.

Monitor Your Mail

Whether you are sending or receiving mail, take steps to help keep it safe from prying eyes. Never put outgoing checks, bill payments or financial information in your unlocked home mailbox. When you need to send out sensitive documents, consider using a secure postal mailbox or send them from the post office. If you have not signed up for electronic statements, be aware of when your credit card statements are scheduled to arrive. If they are late, call the credit card company to confirm if the statement was sent. Be sure to shred old bills and unnecessary financial records containing personal information.

Keep a Careful Eye on Your Credit

According to our data, nearly half of ID fraud cases are committed using the victim's current accounts. On a regular basis, review your credit report and bank statements to monitor your accounts, and take these extra precautions:

  • Make a list of all your credit card and bank account information, and store the list in a secure place, such as on a password-protected flash drive or in a fire-proof safe. Include account numbers, expiration dates, credit limits and phone numbers or emails of the customer service and fraud departments. If your card is missing or stolen, you will then be able to quickly notify your credit card provider to prevent fraudulent charges.
  • Review your credit report and notify the credit bureaus of any mistakes. The U.S. Government Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to receive one free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Order one report from a different bureau every four months to see credit activity throughout the year. To order your credit report, visitwww.annualcreditreport.com.

Keep Your Social Security Number Safe

Social Security numbers are often used to open fraudulent accounts or to access financial information or assets. Do not have your Social Security number printed on your checks or allow merchants to write it on them. If a business requests your Social Security number, ask them why. If it is not a valid reason, do not provide the information they request. Also, never give confidential information to an unsolicited phone caller who claims they represent a financial institution or creditor. Instead, get the caller's name, location, phone number and reason for the call. Then call the phone number on your billing statements to verify the caller's identification.

Get additional tips for helping protect your identity while you are online.

Consider buying identity fraud insurance, a relatively inexpensive add-on to your renters or homeowners insurance policy. This coverage typically reimburses the cost of reclaiming your identity and rebuilding your credit, such as attorney's and notary fees and replacement of IDs. It is a low-cost investment against a high-expense crime.


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