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R&R Insurance Blog

How to Avoid a Bad Driver's Impact on Your Business Auto Insurance

Posted by Dan Maurer

Despite record low unemployment, you finally hired one – a diamond in the ruff. After a 16 hour shift on-the-road, his only question at the end of the day was, “What’s next?”

Things are going so smoothly, but then a call from your insurance agent, “The insurance company is hammering me. That new driver you hired has a DUI. They’re asking you to put him in a non-driving capacity or they're going to reevaluate your insurance program.”

As an insurance agent with many accounts in Construction, I’ve had numerous bad driver scenarios like this. It’s a trend getting hit from two sides with good drivers hard to find in low unemployment labor pool and increasing auto rates from insurance carriers driving up costs. Thankfully, for commercial insureds, there are solutions to the problem – prevention and alternative insurance options.

Prevent the situation with a Fleet Safety Program. A doctor might tell you prevention is the best medicine and it goes the same with avoiding the hire of a driver with a bad record. Implementing a well thought out Fleet Safety Program will set the standard for your company and, more often than not, keep this problem at bay.

Screening company drivers is the first step to setting up a Fleet Safety Program. “Frequency breeds severity,” is a saying in the insurance industry. If a driver has a history of minor violations or near misses odds are, at some point, a major incident will occur.

The best tool at the disposal of a business owner to screen employees is a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). MVR’s are obtained through the Public Abstract Request System (PARS) program with the Wisconsin DOT. Your company can create an account here and begin screening drivers once they sign a release. There is a cost associated with running records, but nothing overly expensive.

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Insurance carriers will want to be sure your drivers fall within a tolerable range of driving violations and accidents. Each company’s standards will be unique to them, but the above chart is an example of a standard the insurance carrier will expect a company to have. It's recommended you run MVR's on employees once a year, but if you join the PARS program it will notify you if a driver has a violation preventing the need to run MVR's arbitrarily every year.

A second step in implementing a Fleet Safety Program is to give safe driver training. There are a variety of ways to train drivers but the best training topic to explore is distracted driving because it's the number one reason insurance carriers are increasing auto rates. Another topic very useful for commercial drivers is Accident Investigation training. In the case of the companies I insure, we'll bring in experts to help train your drivers at no cost.

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Explore alternative insurance options if the employee is too valuable to let go. There will be a cost to your bottom line but in many situations it is preferable to eat the cost rather than let valuable employees go.

Opening a separate insurance policy for a driver is an option. There are some circumstances where insurance carriers will outright refuse to insure certain drivers. In these cases an insurance agent can go to market with a carrier such as Progressive for a one-off driver policy. Costly - but often the only acceptable option.

Some situations can be fixed by changing work arrangements around. One solution to keep an employee with a bad driving record is to change their role by partnering them up with an employee who is able to drive. In some situations your company will be able to have the employee drive his or her own vehicle. While not usually the ideal solutions for your company, it will often appease insurance carriers and keep your coverage in place.

Companies going through these situations often entertain thoughts that insurance carriers are being overly harsh or risk averse in threatening premium hikes or non-renewing their coverage. The truth is underwriters are facing a hardening market on auto rates. It might actually come as a shock to some businesses to know that your vehicles are the single largest exposure to your company and your insurance carrier.

Insurance carriers have been losing money on auto insurance for years. The reason is that workers’ compensation claims have state-mandated limits, while auto liability does not. Innocent people hit by commercial vehicles often bring legal action. The consequences of distracted driving combined with our increasingly litigious society is the main driver behind increasing rates.

Screening employees and having a formal Fleet Safety Program is the best way to avoid a 15% auto increase or non-renewal. That said, when a company is against the wall and needs to keep an employee on the solution is to explore opening an additional policy or change their working arrangement.

Additional fleet safety resources:

Topics: Fleet Safety

Summer Boat Rental: What You Need to Know

Posted by Jenna Moehrke

iStock-951416356Have you thought about renting a boat on a hot summer day? Do you own a boat and want to make some extra money by renting it out? If the answer is “yes,” there are a few things you need to know first.

I recently came across a website for boat rentals where you can either rent a boat, or rent out your boat for a fee. Being an insurance agent, it had me thinking about coverage for these types of situations and I did some further investigating. My concerns were right—I found the statement from the boat rental company explaining that they do not offer any insurance coverage.

If you are renting a boat…

  • Each insurance company has its own restrictions on the type, size and horsepower of boats that they provide coverage to. Depending on the type and size of the boat, there may be no coverage at all from your insurance policy if something were to happen.
  • Check with your agent before renting the boat to make sure the boat fits within their guidelines

If you’re planning on renting out or chartering your boat for a fee…

  • Renting out a boat or chartering it for a fee is typically excluded from your homeowners or watercraft insurance policy.
  • You would need a special policy to cover the risk, because it’s considered a business exposure since you’re receiving compensation for it. Without one, there may be no coverage in an accident.
  • It’s best to talk with your agent before you decide to rent or charter it. They can help you get the type of policy you would need for this exposure.

More and more websites and apps are popping up every day for vacation home and boat rentals. They can be an inexpensive and fun way to spend your summer, but you want to make sure you’re not opening yourself up to a potential coverage gap. If you’re planning on providing any type of service or rental for a fee, make sure to contact your agent to get the right policy put in place.

Contact a KnowledgeBroker for more information!

Topics: Personal Insurance

A Review of Online Reviews

Posted by Tammy Cross

IiStock-1128818327 don’t know how many of you like online reviews—I know I do. A huge benefit of the internet is having so many businesses available to research and review with just the click of a mouse. Everything from contractors and restaurants, to vacation destinations and new cars. You name it…you can find it. Years ago, the only thing you could rely on was word of mouth or a good referral from a friend or relative. 

At R&R Insurance, we’re proud to say our best source of new business clients still comes from our customer referrals.  We can’t thank you enough for those, and want to you know that we take pride in assisting everyone that we work with.

Recently, we had prospective clients question why we would place them with a certain insurance company. (For those of you who don’t know, R&R Insurance is an independent agency. This means, unlike companies like State Farm, American Family, Allstate, etc., we represent many insurance companies. It’s not a one size fits all proposition.) The family was concerned that with the hundreds of reviews on this particular insurance company, not 100% of them were positive. I’ve always felt that negative reviews on an insurance company were a reflection on not only the insurance company, but the insurance agent and yes, the client. Let me explain why I say all three.

The insurance company should absolutely be at the top of the list here. Whatever scenario occurs (positive or negative), if a client feels compelled enough to tell the world about it, it’s important and should be addressed accordingly by the company. However, insurance by its very nature is a legal contract between the insured and the insurance company.  Not every claim that transpires, or every billing transaction that is processed can be guaranteed to go the way a client hopes.

Second, the insurance agent / agency needs to be held accountable as well. As an agent, they should be communicating to their insured on a very regular basis to minimize the possibility of surprises or unknowns. For example, we follow-up on all of our home & auto claims within 48 hours just to make sure things are going the way we think they should.  And if something is not covered, we try our best to be direct with our clients from the very beginning – explaining the situation, talking through possible outcomes, and providing solutions.

Lastly, are clients. While R&R and our carrier partners value being held to high standards, there are instances when clients have an expectation that is unfortunately unrealistic. And as many of us know from experience, accidents with our personal property can be incredibly emotional and cause a heightened sense of both positive and negative feelings. However, even in those cases, a great agency should be able to clearly explain what happened so their client feels more comfortable with the end result.

So, quite honestly online reviews are awesome!  And we live in world where they are readily available and should assist us in the decision making process.  But, if you do read an unfavorable review, please take a moment to consider if you have all the information needed to make the very best decision for you and your family.  And before you pull the trigger to make a change, make sure you are comfortable with the business you are working with. If you feel like the relationship is strong and they listen to your needs, then you will be off to a great start.  

Topics: Personal Insurance

Classifying Workers Correctly - New Wisconsin Joint Task Force to Enforce

Posted by Brian Bean

Contractor-vs-EmployeeGovernor Evers has signed an Executive Order 20 to create the Joint Task Force on Worker Misclassification.  

It means that there will be additional resources allocated to enforcing worker classification.  It impacts all employers in the area of workers compensation, unemployment insurance, and civil rights.  In fact, we had a visit to one of our customers within the first week of the task force being in place!

Need help distinguishing an independent contractor vs an employee?  Check out our 7 min video describing the differences from a work comp perspective: https://youtu.be/NSZ61KnEym0

Following is a link to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s website regarding proper worker classification: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/worker_classification/

In addition, here is a link to more detailed articles on this subject: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/gov-evers-signs-executive-order-creating-joint-task-force-on-payroll-fraud-and-worker-misclassification/

Additional resources:

 

Topics: Workers Compensation

Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month | June

Posted by the knowledge brokers

alzheimers ribbonAlzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month | June

Did you know that, worldwide, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias? Spreading awareness of this disease is important as it can be difficult to distinguish as the early signs closely resemble the natural signs of aging.

So, what exactly is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain that gradually destroys the ability to remember, reason, imagine and learn and is something that progresses over time. Since this disease is something that can go unnoticed, here are some things to lookout for:

Risk Factors:

  • Increasing Age
  • Family History
  • Genetics
  • Serious Head Injury

 Symptoms:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in solving problems
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble speaking or writing

For a more complete list of risk factors and the 10 warning signs or how to go about diagnosis and treatment, learn more here.

To learn more on how to spread awareness and be a part of the movement within your community, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at https://www.alz.org/abam/overview.asp and join them in going purple for the month of June.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact a KnowledgeBroker at R&R.

Best Practices for Hiring Minors

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Hiring minorsWith the employee shortage many companies are facing, attracting and retaining talent is critical. An untapped resource for many industries is younger talent – such as high school students. While minors can be a very valuable resource for employers, there are best practices to keep in mind so your organization continues operating safely and efficiently.

Wisconsin's employment of minors laws prohibit the use of certain potentially hazardous equipment by minors under the age of 18. Included on the list are jobs such as:

  • Motor vehicle driver and outside helper
  • Power driven fixed or portable machines
  • Roofing or on or about a roof
  • Use of ladders

Note: The list is not exhaustive. If you have questions about a particular piece of equipment, we encourage you to contact the Department's Equal Rights Division or visit the Department of Workforce Development’s website for specific definitions.

Additional considerations when employing minors:

  • Minors 15 and under may not be employed in "manufacturing, mining, or processing occupations." This includes occupations that require the performance of any duties in workrooms or workplaces where goods are manufactured, mined, or otherwise processed. See Wis. Admin. Code § DWD 270.13(13).
  • The Student Learner Exemption: A "student learner" is a student of an accredited school who is employed on a part–time basis to obtain both scholastic credit and employment training under a bona fide written school-work training program agreement.
  • A student learner is permitted to do some work that is otherwise prohibited if the student learner is performing service within a bona fide school-work training program
    • Sponsored by an accredited school
    • Authorized and approved by
      • The state department of public instruction,
      • The technical college system board, or
      • The department's youth apprenticeship program
  • Each school-work training agreement shall:
    • Include the name of the student learner;
    • Be signed by the parent, employer, and school principal;
    • Be kept on file by both the school and the employer; and
    • Shall provide all of the following:
      • That the work of the student learner in the occupation declared hazardous under ss. DWD 270.12 and 270.13 is incidental to the student learner's training, and shall be intermittent and only for short periods of time (i.e., for 5% or less of the total work hours);
      • Direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person.
      • Safety instructions will be given by the school and correlated by the employer with on-the-job training.
      • A schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed on the job.

 

In addition to equipment, there are other crucial elements to keep top of mind when hiring minors. A sample of these elements include:

  • Employees under the age of 16 need to have a Child Labor Work Permit signed by their parent/guardian. Employers must reimburse the $10 fee, as well as provide a letter for the employee to receive their Work Permit.
  • While the equipment list provided by the DWD is helpful, there is additional training that needs to be provided with each of the tasks or tools that minors will be using. Per OSHA, this training needs to be documented.
  • Cell phone policies are becoming increasingly important. From cell phone use while driving, to having social media accessible at employees’ fingertips, it’s important to outline the Dos and Don’ts.
    • Do phones need to be put away while driving?
    • When are phones allowed on the jobsite?
    • Can pictures with company logos be shared on social media?

 

R&R Insurance has numerous resources to help your organization attract, train, and attain young talent. To learn more, contact a Knowledge Broker.

Ladder Safety Month | March

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock-934417128To celebrate ladder safety month, now is the time to 1) review your ladder safety program, 2) conduct ladder safety training, and 3) test your ladder safety knowledge. The following outline provides an overview of using ladders properly.

Climbing Position

  • Climb a ladder by holding on to the rails and not the steps.
  • Climb facing the ladder with your body centered between the rails.
  • Use three points of contact, with at least three extremities attached to the ladder at all times.
  • Do not twist your body while climbing.

Lifting Items

  • Do not climb with hands full of gear.
  • Put any materials you need to take up a ladder into a tool bag/belt that you wear on your person.
  • Use hand lines, hoists, or manlifts to lift and lower heavy objects.

Protective Gear

  • Fall protection must be worn based on the hazard assessment if you are working on scaffolding or on the roof of the building.
  • Footwear with good support, non-slip soles, and free of mud, oil, and any other slippery debris is required when working on a ladder.
  • Safety glasses or hardhats may be required for overhead work.

Stepladder Guidelines

  • Never stand on the top two steps.
  • Fully open step ladders. Never use a stepladder in a partially-closed position.
  • Ladders must have a spreader or locking device. Open and lock cross spreaders.
  • Stepladders must not exceed 20 feet in height.

Other Guidelines

  • Do not use ladders as a work platform.
  • Keep the area around the bottom and top of the ladder free of debris.
  • Allow only one person on a ladder at a time.
  • Do not move or extend the ladder while occupied (i.e., no ladder jumping).
  • Check the ladder for damage and defects before use. If damaged or defective, immediately remove the ladder from service and get rid of it.
  • Get help when moving large ladders or working on uneven terrain.

For additional informtion, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) provides no cost ladder safety training for the workplace that aligns with OSHA's general industry ladder requirements. Click here to learn more about their program.

Topics: Safety

R&R Insurance Named #1 Bonding & Insurance Firm for 2nd Year in a Row

Posted by the knowledge brokers

RR19_Best Bonding and Ins FirmFor the 2nd year in a row, R&R Insurance has been ranked the "Top Bonding and Insurance Firm" by The Daily Reporter readers! 

Annually, The Daily Reporter has surveyed it's readers on number of questions related to Commercial construction categories (best abatement, best material supplier, best scaffolding company, etc.) as well as general business questions.  Participants wrote in company names for their top votes. 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote!

Topics: Awards

Preventing Fraud & Phishing Attacks

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Conceptual digital image of lock on circuit backgroundLarge or small, all businesses are a target for cyber-attacks. Whether it’s a fraudulent email being sent from someone disguised as the COO, or an intercepted wire transfer - businesses must continue to be diligent in preventing these situations from occurring within their four walls.

With the help of experienced professionals, we’ve developed a list of tips to help your organization avoid fraud activity (such as forged checks or stolen cards) and business email compromise.

Payments & Checks

  • Convert all paper based payments to electronic. Checks contain a company’s entire banking identity, so the more they can be avoided, the better.
  • Keep checks in a locked drawer that only specific employees have access to.
    • If using signature stamps, keep these in a locked drawer as well - but separate from any checks.
  • Monitor check orders and limit those who handle the checks.
  • Review and update the signature cards at your bank annually (at a minimum).
  • Never pre-sign checks – under any circumstance.
  • Implement ACH filters and Positive Pay.
  • Use dual authorization for ACH and wire transactions.
  • Review transactions before they’re sent to the bank.

IT Systems

  • Work with your IT department or vendor to ensure safeguards are in place.
  • Flag all outside emails as “external.”
  • Be aware of fraudulent emails (typos, poor grammar, inconsistencies in email addresses, etc.).
  • Change passwords frequently and don’t have your internet browser “save passwords.”

Employee Processes

  • Provide education to employees on fraud and fraud prevention.
  • Have a social media policy in place to limit what is being used in the workplace and while connected to the company’s wi-fi network.
  • Have a process in place for when employee involved with Accounting leave the organization.
    • Alert your bank of employees who’ve left that had banking responsibilities.
    • Change passwords that previous employees had access to.

For more information about having the right insurance in place to properly protect your business, contact a KnowledgeBroker at R&R Insurance or take the free cyber risk calculator below.

Cyber Risk Calculator

 

Sources:
Westbury Bank

Association for Financial Professionals
BVS Performance Solutions
JP Morgan Chase

Topics: Cyber

Employee Benefits: Attract, Retain, and Secure Employees

Posted by the knowledge brokers

employee-retentionA consistent challenge for majority of businesses is how to effectively attract and retain employees. With millennials making up the majority of the workforce, businesses must alter their tactics in order to stay ahead.

Like years before it, 2018 was no exception to the rising increases of health insurance coverage.  Since 2017, single coverage insurance premiums have increased by 3% while family coverage has increased by 5%. Nowadays, employees get their pick of affordable health care coverage options that best suit their lifestyle. That being said, employers must be able to differentiate themselves if they want to attract and secure talented employees.

A successful tactic for retaining employees is taking a look at the needs of the employee and stacking them against financial realities. The outcome of this is to offer meaningful benefits and cover majority of their costs.

Meaningful Benefits: Benefits employees actually want and will use.

Securing Talent

Turnover is a reality that all businesses have to cope with. But poor retention is something you can change. To do this you have to know and have these three things:

  • Know the reasons behind why employees have decided to part from your company
  • Data: have analytics and information for why people leave as well as why people are staying
  • Analyze: be able to put all of the information gathered so you can implement effective tactics and change the future outcome

Amongst the information gathered, you want to design strategies that will better your goal of securing talent. Look for patterns and brainstorm ways that you can break that particular trend (ex. Why people are leaving?).

Understanding the Millennial Mindset

As mentioned earlier, millennials are flooding today’s workforce. This makes them the prime target for your attracting efforts. Medical, dental and vision insurance alone are not going to have millennials flocking to your company. So how do you start from here? You need to understand the mindset of a millennial. They put choice and affordability at the top of their list. The main goal in all of this is to enhance lives by reducing financial burdens.

To learn more about how to effectively attract and retain employees, click here or contact a KnowledgeBroker for more information.

Topics: Employee Benefits