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R&R Insurance Blog

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

Posted by Tom Driscoll

Life Insurance AwarenessWhen was the last time you reviewed your coverage?  Like other financial assets, life insurance policies require ongoing management to ensure your policy is performing up to expectations. There are a number of factors that influence life insurance policies and one major negative influencer in recent years has been interest rates. Agents and insurance companies that designed a number of these life insurance policies didn’t factor in lower interest rates, and the result has been that a number of policies are lapsing prematurely.

Learn about the Top 10 Reasons for a Policy Review and let us help give you peace of mind and assist you with reviewing your life insurance policy(s) at no cost. 

Topics: Life Insurance

Wisconsin Apprenticeships mean up to $2,500 Savings

Posted by Dan Maurer

Wisconsin Apprenticeship SavingsThis year Wisconsin contractors and manufacturers with apprenticeship programs are saving 2% on their Workers’ Compensation insurance premium.

The 2% credit (maximum $2,500) is a no-brainer for any business to claim with an active apprenticeship program, but there are few qualifications to keep in mind along with the knowledge that some insurance carriers are opting out of the savings altogether.

In an atmosphere of record low unemployment rates, and the Foxconn behemoth on the horizon, the state is incentivizing apprenticeship programs in hopes they will help fill the growing trades’ skills gap. In March of this year, Wisconsin passed Assembly Bill 508 which slashed regulations in the trades requiring ratios often higher than 4 journeymen to 1 apprentice down to 1-to-1. In September of last year, financial incentives were announced, granting a 2% Apprenticeship premium credit on Workers’ compensation insurance for Wisconsin business going into effect next month.

Who qualifies?

Claiming the 2% credit for your business is not much of a hoop to jump through, but on the other hand Wisconsin isn’t handing them out like candy. The credit only applies to insurance workers’ compensation polices with effective dates of 10/1/2018 or later. If your policy has already renewed in 2018, you’ll need to change your effective date (not always recommended) or wait until next year to claim the credit.

Your agent must notify your insurance carrier that you are eligible for the credit and provide evidence of participation in an apprentice program administered by the Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards for a minimum of 6 months. This means to claim the 2% credit on 10/1/2018 your apprentice program must have been approved by WBAS and running since March of 2018.

Not Every Insurance Carrier is Opting-In

If your insurance policy is in the pool, your company is automatically qualifies for the program. If your business is in the private market, which most are, there is a chance it might not…

When the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance announced the credit in 2017, they made it clear that this was a voluntary program for the private insurance market.  While all carriers were automatically enrolled into the program, it was left up to carriers if they wanted to opt-out.

At first there was a bit of waffling, but in the end a majority of carriers have decided to opt-in. That said, a large minority are opting-out, some of whom are big players in the construction and manufacturing markets. R&R Insurance keeps an updated list of carriers opting-in and out.

Contact an agent to see if your carrier is opting-in for the 2% credit.

Topics: Workers Compensation

College Students Need Insurance Too!

Posted by Brandy Enger

iStock_000048840808_FullInsurance needs are often overlooked for college kids in the hustle and bustle of preparing for college. It's not uncommon for college kids to have thousands of dollars of electronic equipment and a closet bursting with clothes in the dorm rooms, as well as bicycles and instruments.

 

Students living on-campus:
Generally, this coverage is part of the parents’ existing policy and will cover up to 10% of the policy personal property limits for when a student is enrolled on a full-time basis.

Students living off-campus:

Generally, if a student maintains their parents’ address as their primary address and is enrolled as a full-time student, they will continue to be eligible for coverage under their parents’ policy. Students who have established their permanent primary address off-campus and no longer maintain their parent’s address as their primary address, and students who are enrolled only on a part-time basis, will need a separate renters policy to cover their personal belongings. Make sure that your student living off-campus is protected with this low-cost policy.

What about car insurance for the student who is away at college?
If your student is more than 100 miles away from home and does not take a car with them, you will get a discount on your car insurance rate because your vehicles are not being driven by your college student when the student is away at school.

Good Student Discounts:
Students who maintain a grade point average of a 3.0 / "B" or better will qualify with most companies for a "good student discount".

Wisconsin residents interested in a free insurance analysis for their personal insurance, please contact a knowledgebroker.

Topics: Personal Insurance, insurance for college students, renters insurance, collge kids, Students living off campus, student living on campus, college insurance, dorm room

ACA Affordability Percentages Will Increase for 2019

Posted by Pete Frittitta

ACA Affordability Percentages will IncreaseThe IRS recently issued a Revenue Procedure to index the medical insurance premium contribution percentages used to determine the affordability of an employer’s plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These updated affordability percentages are effective for taxable years and plan years beginning Jan. 1, 2019. For plan years beginning in 2019, employer-sponsored coverage will be considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage does not exceed 9.86 percent of the employee’s household income for the tax year. This is for purposes of both the “play or pay” rules and premium tax credit eligibility.

This represents a significant increase from the affordability contribution percentage for 2018. The 2018 affordability percentage for the “play or pay” rules and premium tax credit eligibility was 9.56 percent. As a result, some employers may have additional flexibility with respect to their employee contributions for 2019 to meet the adjusted percentage. For more guidance on this and other compliance topics, contact a KnowledgeBroker.

Topics: Affordable Care Act

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.

 

Why Trade Contractors Need Pollution Liability

Posted by Dan Scheider

iStock-642235496Pollution liability policies are only for contractors involved in environmental or pollution cleanup … or so goes the common perception in the construction industry.

The truth is a trade contractor without a pollution policy actually has a serious coverage gap when it comes to mold, bacteria, asbestos, silica, and lead.

Insurance carriers, always adverse to risk, write General liability policies with exclusions specifically for the aforementioned substances. It would instead be the Contractor’s Pollution Liability policy picking up the tab for bodily injury and property damage claims involving these often overlooked pollution conditions. 

Just about every contractor has some exposure to these elements:

  • Plumbers have exposures to category 3 water (the water in drain pipes), mold, and bacteria. When the plumber’s work goes wrong, water damage caused by leaking pipes can lead to mold growth. A claim from a bystander alleging his quality of life was impaired due to the bacteria-abundant “category 3 water” would be excluded from a general liability policy.
  • HVAC Contractors need worry about mold, bacteria, and legionella. Condensation in HVAC systems generally is the culprit in mold/legionella issues. Should your company have installed an HVAC system with too much humidity resulting in mold, claims arising out of the bodily injury (or even claims from the mere worry of bodily injury) would be excluded from a general liability policy.
  • Roofing Contractors have exposure to mold, lead, and asbestos. Working on older buildings increases the chance of lead and asbestos exposure. Even a simple defect in the installation or repair of a roof could cause a large pollution related loss – i.e. a leaky roof resulting in mold growth. Costs associated with locating and removing mold can be extensive as the structure needs to be thoroughly inspected.
  • Electricians are not exempt either from pollution liability and have similar exposure to mold, lead, and asbestos. Imagine a contractor running wire above a ceiling and stepping on a sprinkler pipe hidden by insulation. Should water damage result in mold growth, a general liability policy would not be your go-to. Like a roofer, work on older buildings increases the chances of lead and asbestos exposure.

Some Insurance carriers offer limited scope pollution endorsements. These endorsements do not compare in scope of coverage to a properly designed contractors pollution liability policy. After a loss, it’s too late to find out if a limited scope pollution endorsement provides enough coverage.

Should you have any further questions on potential coverage gaps in your current policy, talk to your Commercial Insurance Agent or shoot me an email.

Understanding Medical Reserves

Posted by Mike Geldreich

75Over the years, R&R Insurance has designed a proven 7-step method to successfully manage workers compensation programs. Our Professional Services have become experts in analyzing medical reserve dollars and can clearly articulate how insurance companies determine the numbers. By knowing market trends, carrier calculations, and your own unique situation, there are dollars to gain.

Wisconsin is one of the top 2 states in the country with the highest medical costs. Nearly 25 years ago, medical costs were 40% of work comp claims. Today, medical claims average 75% of total work comp claims. To put things into perspective, below are average rates based on five insurance carriers:

  • Meniscus tear: $30,000 - $40,000
  • Knee replacement: $60,000 - $100,000
  • ACL repair: $45,000 - $55,000

This shift in costs can be directly correlated to several things:

  • Healthcare uncertainty in last 10 years
  • Affordable Care Act
  • Shifting costs in workers compensation
  • Lack of fee schedule in Wisconsin
  • Diagnostics
  • Actuarial pressures

So what can companies do to start minimizing medical only work comp claims? One of the more effective solutions is the integration of safety and wellness (or what R&R calls WellCompForLife). By cohesively utilizing these committees, companies are able to collectively share resources and ultimately reduce the total insurance spend.  By creating a behavioral change, employees will remain healthy and money will be added back to the bottom line.

To learn more about R&R's proven model, contact a member of our Professional Services.

OSHA 300 Log Electronic Reporting Deadline: July 1, 2018

Posted by John Brengosz

OSHA.jpgDeadline approaching: employers have until July 1, 2018 to submit their OSHA 300 log data electronically directly to OSHA.

Reporting Requirements
  • Companies with 20-249 employees and in select NAICS codes (primarily construction and manufacturing) need to submit their OSHA 300 data by July 1, 2018 for their 2017 OSHA 300 log totals. 

“Covered establishments with 250 or more employees are only required to provide their 2017 Form 300A summary data. OSHA is not accepting Form 300 and 301 information at this time. OSHA will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to reconsider, revise, or remove provisions of the "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injury" rule, including the collection of the Forms 300/301 data.

Covered establishments with 20-249 employees must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A." – www.osha.gov

Submission Year

 Establishments with 250 or More Employees

 Establishments with 20-249 Employees

 Submission Deadline

 2017

 Form 300A

 Form 300A

 July 1, 2018

2018

Forms 300A, 300, 301

Form 300A

March 2, 2019


How can we help?

The world of OSHA reporting can be complex and confusing, specifically when it comes to electronic reporting. R&R’s Professional Services team can help you navigate not only when to have your 300 submitted, but also what should be included on the log.  Many companies actually over-report injuries on their 300 log which results in inflated incident or Frequency rates.

We invite you to listen to a previously recorded webinar regarding OSHA 300 hosted by John Brengosz. For additional information and resources contact Safety@rrins.com.

Topics: OSHA