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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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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.

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!  

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.


Think Twice Before You Turn Down Workers Comp

Author TonyScurich , 7/6/2016
1 Most states allow company owners and executives to opt out of (or not opt in to) Workers Compensation insurance. But did you know that if you choose this option your Health insurance policy might well not pick up work-related medical claims? If you carry Health coverage through your company Group plan, you can usually arrange to be covered for work-related injuries under this policy - which then becomes "24-hour" coverage for you. However, many small business owners and managers are insured under the Health Plan of their spouse or parents - which almost always exclude work-related injuries. Let's say that you exempt yourself from Workers Compensation and have coverage under your spouse's Health insurance - and you suffer a serious injury in a work-related, at-fault auto accident. Once you have exhausted the Medical Payments coverage under the company's Commercial Auto policy, the chances are that you'll have to pick up the tab for the rest of your medical bills. You might even have to choose between limiting your treatment options or going bankrupt (unpaid medical bills are the nation's leading cause of bankruptcy). Even if you have "24-hour" insurance under your own Health policy, this coverage will not reimburse you for income lost during your convalescence. So, what's the solution? You might consider buying a Disability income policy - or decide to cover yourself under Workers Compensation, after all. As always, our agency stands ready to offer our professional advice. 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.

Home Repairs: 'Like It Never Even Happened'

Author TonyScurich , 6/1/2016
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A pipe bursts and water ruins a corner of your Brazilian cherry wood floor. A windstorm tears off half of the vinyl shingles on one side of the house. A fire burns a couple of kitchen cupboards. Although your Homeowners policy will cover such partial losses, the extent to which the insurance company must go to make everything look just the way you'd like can be tricky.

Let's say that the new siding contrasts with the older, weathered shingles or that you can't find replacement kitchen cupboards that precisely match the originally. Your claim should put you back to pre-loss condition so the new part shouldn't stick out like a sore thumb. For example, this might mean replacing the entire floor of a room even if only a portion needs repair, or repainting all four walls after damage to only one. In some states, if replaced items don't match in quality, color or size, the insurance company must make "reasonable repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas." Although other states don't have laws on matching, some Homeowners insurers have added similar "non-matching language" to their policies. Besides varying by state, insurer, and policy, the issue of patching versus full replacement can depends on insurance company adjusters. If you can't get make any headway with the adjuster on the repairs you want, consider going over his or her head to a supervisor, or file a complaint with the state insurance department. Another option is to hire a public insurance adjuster to work on your behalf through the claims process. These professionals usually charge about 10% of the final settlement.

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.

Don't Let Your Products Damage Your Bottom Line

Author TonyScurich , 5/4/2016
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Product Liability Insurance helps protect your company from damages for losses related to manufacturing or selling products or other goods.

These claims can, and do, put businesses out of business - just ask the officers of any asbestos manufacturer. Companies are vulnerable to three types of products claims
  1. Manufacturing or production flaws that create an unsafe defect in the product. For an example, just recall the recent claims against Chinese manufacturers for using dangerous chemicals in their products.
  2. Design defects that make the product inherently unsafe. (The series of lawsuits against Toyota vehicles for defective acceleration controls during the past two years comes to mind.)
  3. Inadequate warnings or instructions, such as failing to label a product properly or advise consumers about potential risks. A famous example is the McDonald's "hot coffee case."
Damages can include medical costs, compensatory damages, economic damages, and (in some instances) attorney fees and costs, as well as any punitive damages. Some sellers and retailers choose not to buy Product Liability Insurance because they don't actually "manufacture" anything. However, most states follow the "stream of commerce" model of liability, meaning that if your company sells a product, you can be held liable for damages to the end user. "Business Owners" and Commercial General Liability policies usually include some type of Product Liability Coverage (Sometimes known as Product/Completed Operations Insurance). Premiums are based upon the type of product and sales volume. If you try to reduce premiums by underreporting sales or insuring only a percentage of your sales, you'll probably face a hefty "underinsurance" penalty. Make sure to identify your products properly, too. For example; if you supply stepstools, you don't want them categorized as ladders, which have a higher premium because of their greater risk potential. For more information, feel free to get in touch with our Business Insurance professionals.

Auto Insurance: Saving $$ In Your Golden Years

Author TonyScurich , 5/2/2016
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Your Auto insurance rates are based on a variety of factors such as your driving record, mileage, the car you drive and your age.

Rates are highest for drivers in their teens and early 20, tend to fall for those aged 30 to 60-something, and then start climbing again around age 70. Although drivers in this age range tend to drive less and are more mature, their vision and reflexes are declining. They're also more likely to be injured in an accident than their younger counterparts, and to suffer more severely because they're physically weaker. Also. They often drive smaller cars, which are more vulnerable to damage. Here are five ways that senior drivers can keep their Auto insurance rates affordable. :
  1. Update your mileage. You can get a discount of 5% to 10% if you no longer commute or drive long distances.
  2. Use a telematics device. A usage-based or pay-as-you-go Auto insurance program can reduce premiums by 5% to as much as 40%.
  3. Take a class. Most states require Auto insurers to offer "mature drivers" (who can be as young as 55) a discount of 5% to 15% for completing an accident-prevention course.
  4. Exclude a driver. In some states, you might be able to drop coverage on a driver who no longer gets behind the wheel.
  5. Make your car safer. Some insurance companies offer discounts for anti-theft devices, airbags and anti-lock brakes.
Bear in mind that drivers can use some of these methods at any age and save on Auto insurance by raising their deductible or reducing coverage. To make sure you get the protection you need at a cost you can afford, just give us a call.

Data Thieves Target Smaller Businesses

Author TonyScurich , 4/29/2016

2When it comes to hackers stealing confidential client information, most people think of their primary targets as mega-corporations; banks, credit card providers, online retailers, and so forth. (American Express, MasterCard, and Sony come to mind.)

However, more than half of small and midsize businesses have experienced at least one data breach in the past year, according to a recent nationwide study by the Ponemon Institute. What's more, only 33% of surveyed companies suffering breaches notified affected individuals that their personal information was ever at risk - despite laws in 46 states that require such notification.

The primary causes of these breaches were employee or contractor error, lost or stolen laptops or smart phones, and procedural mistakes, according to the study commissioned by the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co.

The survey also found that:

  • Nearly nine in 10 respondents (85%) shared their customer and employee records with third parties by providing billing, payroll, employee benefits, web-hosting, or other information technology services.
  • Seven in 10 respondents (70%) said that data breaches are more likely to occur if they outsourced data.
  • Despite this outsourcing exposure, more than three in five businesses surveyed (62%) did not require third parties to cover costs associated with a data breach in their contracts.

"Smaller companies are targeted by data thieves, but they often don't know how to respond when sensitive information they keep on customers and employees is lost or stolen," warns Hartford Steam Boiler Vice President Eric Cernak. "Failing to act in a timely and effective way can harm the reputation of businesses and even risk legal penalties in many states."

For professional advice on helping you minimize the growing financial and legal threats to your business from data breaches, please feel free to get in touch with our agency at any time.


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