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R&R Insurance Blog

the knowledge brokers

Recent Posts

Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2019

Posted by the knowledge brokers

ComplianceMany employee benefits are subject to annual dollar limits that are periodically updated for inflation, such as HSAs, health FSAs, and transportation fringe benefit plans. This Compliance Overview includes a chart of the inflation-adjusted limits for 2019. Although some of the limits will remain the same, many of the limits increase for 2019.

The IRS typically announces the dollar limits that will apply for the next calendar year well in advance of the beginning of that year to give employers time to update their plan designs and make sure their plan administration will be consistent with the new limits.

Contact a Knowledge Broker for more information.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance

OSHA Launches Program Targeting High Injury and Illness Rates

Posted by the knowledge brokers

OSHAEffective October 16, 2018, OSHA launched a "Site-Specific Targeting (SST) inspection program".  The goal of the program is to ensure that employers provide safe and healthful workplaces by directing enforcement resources to those workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illness.  Read the full OSHA notice here

Targeted Employers or Workplaces for SST Inspection Program:

  • All industries EXCLUDING construction, schools, or municipalities
  • 20+ employees
  • Injury and illness information submitted calendar year 2016 under 29 CFR 1904.41

How can you prepare for a potential OSHA visit?

  1. Awareness: do your company have a plan if OSHA would come knocking? 
  2. Benchmark: how does your company's injury and illness rates compare to industry peers?  Are you a red flag for OSHA? 
  3. Review applicable OSHA compliance programs compared to your company practices.

Preparing for any type of OSHA audit takes commitment from leadership.  The best success are organizations with safety teams to champion safety 24/7.  R&R Insurance can help support safety personnel with self-audits, policy review, training content, and much more.  Start the conversation with an email: safety@rrins.com.

 

Topics: Safety, OSHA

10 Tips to Prevent Chimney Fires

Posted by the knowledge brokers

house on fireWhether we're ready for it or not, winter weather is upon us. And with colder temps comes an obvious increase in the use of fireplaces. For many of us, our fireplaces/chimneys haven't been touched in months. However, chimneys account for 75% of home heating fires - meaning homeowners should actively maintain and follow the necessary upkeep.

Property Casualty 360 provides the following tips to prevent chimney fires in your home.

  1. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a professional, and more than that if creosote builds up on the chimney walls more rapidly.
  2. Consider installing a stainless steel liner that will withstand even the highest temperatures and will keep the embers contained.
  3. Watch out for soot buildup. Soot is softer than creosote, but is also flammable and should be cleaned up regularly. 
  4. Between the professional inspections / cleanings, be sure to check and monitor your wood-burning fireplace for signs of buildup or other problems.
  5. Clean the interior of your fireplace, including the floor, regularly. Sweep or vacuum up cold ashes.
  6. Your chimney has a cap on the top of it with open sides (usually covered in mesh to keep rain, birds, squirrels, and debris out). Make sure this cap is regularly inspected and replaced when necessary.
  7. Check the interior of your fireplace for creosote buildup. It is flammable, therefore too much buildup is a fire hazard and should be cleaned away with a creosote remover as soon as possible. 
  8. Anytime there is smoke indoors from your fireplace, troubleshoot and immediately correct any problems you find. Possible causes are a dirty chimney, soot or creosote buildup, other debris, a sample that isn't open or fully opened, or wood not building completely.
  9. To improve your fireplace's efficiency, you should also consider installing heat-proof glass doors to protect against heat loss and a fan or blower to direct heat into the room.
  10. If possible, burn hardwoods like oak, maple, ash, and birch. These woods burn hot and long, are cleaner to handle, and have less pitched sap. They also tend to leave less creosote buildup but can be more expensive.

Looking for additional safety tips for your home? Contact a KnowledgeBroker at R&R Insurance.

Topics: Personal Insurance

Trade Credit Insurance | A Sales Growth Solution

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock-638615786In simple terms, Trade Credit Insurance protects B2B companies or sellers of goods and services against bad debt, including insolvency, slow payment, and political risks. When these issues arise, they can be detrimental to a business. In fact, approximately 82% of bankruptcies are triggered by cash flow problems caused by issues like customer non-payment. In addition, accounts receivables typically represent more than 40% of a company's assets, and one in ten invoices becomes delinquent.

When should businesses consider Trade Credit Insurance?

Trade Credit Insurance applies to businesses of all sizes and in a variety of industries. Trusted Choice states that companies that sell goods and services on credit terms rather than requiring payment up front are exposed to the risk of nonpayment and should consider this coverage. In addition, companies that work with international exports have an increased risk and should take this insurance into account as well.

While there are alternatives to Trade Credit Insurance, they may not be the best option for businesses. According to James Daly, CEO and President of Euler Hermes, the main alternative is self-insurance, a practice many US organizations opt for. Businesses can put a reserve on their balance sheet to cover any bad debt that may occur over the year. However as Daly states, "rather than have capital in your balance sheet doing nothing but waiting for bad debt, why not purchase Trade Credit Insurance and then invest that excess capital into growth or new products?"

How can Trade Credit Insurance benefit your business?

Trade credit solutions can support sales growth while reducing trade risk and giving you the ability to:

  • Avoid catastrophic bad debt losses
  • Expand sales to new and existing customer with less risk
  • Secure better borrowing terms with a lender
  • Reduce bad debt reserves
  • Enhance credit department efficiencies and results

The value of Trade Credit protection extends well beyond the insurance policy.  A key benefit is the extensive financial database available from partners of R&R such as Euler-Hermes, the world's largest Trade Credit provider. The information available at their fingertips provides proactive notifications and protection from adverse financial issues that could be developing with your key business partners. In addition, their data is an excellent evaluation tool when making decisions on partnering or prospecting potential growth partners. 

As a partner of premier trade credit insurers, R&R can assist your company with properly protecting its largest asset - accounts receivable. Contact a KnowledgeBroker for more information.

Topics: Business Insurance

OSHA's Top 5 Most Popular Videos

Posted by the knowledge brokers

OSHAAs of 2018, the videos below are ranked as the most popular by OSHA and the US Department of Labor.

Whether you're looking to train employees, or just share knowledge with members of your organization - these videos provide insight into serious safety topics.

  1. Five Ways to Prevent Workplace Falls
  2. Stop Silicosis (Inhalation of Silica Dust)
  3. Excavation in Construction: Trenching
  4. OSHA Heat Illness Prevention
  5. Falls in Construction: Floor Openings

For more information on any of these topics, contact safety@rrins.com.

Topics: OSHA

Prevent Heat Illness With OSHA's Heat Safety App

Posted by the knowledge brokers

OSHAWhile it may be mid-summer, there are plenty of hot days ahead of us. And studies show that working in direct sunlight can increase the heat index by 15 degrees. If you or your employees are working in the heat, OSHA's Heat Safety App is an important one to have at your fingertips.

According to OSHA, the App allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and based on the heat index, display a risk level to workers.

With a simple click, you can also receive reminders about:

  • Protective measures that should be taken at specific risk levels
  • Drinking enough fluids
  • Scheduling rest breaks
  • Planning for emergencies
  • Adjusting work operations
  • Monitoring each other for symptoms of heat-related issues

Click here for more information about OSHA's App and for download instructions.

Topics: OSHA

Water Leaks: The Number One Loss When Going on Vacation

Posted by the knowledge brokers

house180% of Homeowners Overlook Costly Water Leak Exposure When Heading on Vacation

A study by Chubb Insurance shows that while on vacation, just 19% of homeowners view internal water leak damage as the most concerning threat to their home, despite the fact that water leaks are a more frequent risk than fire and theft. Homeowners are particularly vulnerable during summer travel season.

According to Chubb, "the time between when a leak occurs and when it is discovered is the single greatest factor in determining the amount of damage. As a result, leaks that occur while you're away result in greater amounts of damage in terms of both cost and severity."

Water damage claims have been rising over the last few years as well. In the last 10 years, the frequency of pipe bursts has nearly doubled. In addition to the increase in leaks, 90% of homeowners rate themselves as "vigilant" at preventative home maintenance, yet only 22% shut off the water main before heading out of town.

Before leaving on your next vacation, here are quick steps to properly protect your property:

  1. Be sure all appliances and hoses are in good working condition
  2. Inspect your sump pump 
  3. Have your gutters cleared of debris
  4. Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house
  5. Install a water leak detection device
  6. Add a yellow tag to your water main shut off valve in case of a water emergency. Click here to receive free tags from us!

To learn more about water leak damage and protecting your home, view the following infographic, "Don't Get Water Logged" or contact a KnowledgeBroker.

Topics: water damage, Personal Lines, Personal Insurance

Summer is Peak Season for Lightning

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock-908647482Summer in Wisconsin is filled with a wide range of temperatures, which can lead to severe storms. While many of us enjoy a good summer storm and the lightning show that comes along with it, we can't forget how dangerous they can be.

In May of 2018, the National Weather Service reported two fatalities from lightning strikes, including a field worker and a child playing underneath a tree.

According to AAA, lightning can strike up to 15 miles from thunderstorms - even when skies are clear. If you hear thunder, slow rumbles, or loud cracks, lightning is close enough to strike you or your home. In recent years, the average cost of lightning damage to a home was $7,639.

Our partners at West Bend Mutual provided the following tips for Lightning Safety.

Real Life Example:
Ted Marino, resident of Brookfield, WI and an R&R customer since 1984, explains the peace-of-mind he had immediately after his home caught fire from a lightning strike during a storm in 2010. Ted and Chris escaped without harm, but their house was another story...

For additional resources to protect your personal assets from storm damage, contact a KnowledgeBroker at R&R.

 

Severe Weather Checklist | Don't Get Caught Unprepared

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock_000022103389MediumWhile this time of year brings sunshine and warmer temps, it also comes with the potential of tornadoes and severe weather. Homeowners, renters, business and vehicle owners can find themselves in a financially challenging situation following a spring storm if they haven't checked their insurance coverage carefully.

An article from Property Casualty 360, provides a checklist of best practices for protecting your assets during this season of storms.

  1. Verify your home is insured for its current value.
  2. Find out what kind of home insurance policy you have.
  3. Find out if you have a specific deductible in the event of a tornado or windstorm.
  4. Understand the claims process before you have to make a claim.
  5. Does your policy have any special limits or policy features?
  6. Prepare an inventory of the contents in your home, including contents in additional structures like tool or garden sheds.
  7. Find out what kind of coverage you have if there is a power failure.
  8. Find out what your limit is for Additional Living Expenses (ALE) and how you can expect the coverage to work.
  9. Make sure your car insurance includes comprehensive coverage, for damage such as hail, falling objects and windstorms.
  10. Ask if you have coverage for a rental car if your car needs repairs.
  11. If you have a vehicle in storage, make sure you haven't forgotten about coverage while it's there.
  12. If you sustain storm damage, contact your insurer as soon as possible and start the claims filing process. For customers of R&R, we recommend adding our CSR24 phone number, as well as the phone number for your insurance carrier to your cell phone. This will ensure you have information at your fingertips should an emergency arise. Feel free to contact your Personal Lines agent for assistance!

For more information about properly protecting your family and the assets you've worked so hard to acquire, contact a member of our Personal Lines team.

Generic vs. Brand Name Drugs

Posted by the knowledge brokers

prescriptionChoosing generic drugs over the brand name is generally less expensive. However, many people question whether generic drugs are as good, effective or safe as their brand name counterparts. The perception is that since many generic items found in grocery stores tend to be of lesser quality, the same must be true for medications. Fortunately, in the case of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, generic substitutes are the equivalent of brand name drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the chemical equivalency of generic drugs to ensure they are just as safe and effective as the brand name drugs they mimic.

Employees who understand their benefit plans make more informed choices about the medical services they receive, and that benefits everyone.

 

Talk to Your Doctor

The best way to ensure that you know all you can about a drug you have been prescribed, and its generic equivalents, is to talk openly with your doctor. Below are some suggested questions that you may want to ask.

  • Is there a generic substitute for this drug available?
  • Are there any drug interactions that I should be aware of?
  • Does this medication cause any side effects?
  • If I forget to take a dose, what should I do?

Also, make sure your doctor knows about any previous reactions you have had to medications. In addition, be sure to call your doctor immediately if you have any problems or adverse side effects from a new prescription. Choosing generic drugs when available, following your doctor’s and pharmacist’s instructions fully, and talking openly with your doctor will help you make the most of our prescription drug plan. These strategies can help you not only save money on the prescription itself, but also avoid future health problems that could be costly.

To know more about generic and brand name drugs, read here.

Source: Zywave

Topics: Employee Benefits