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R&R Insurance Blog

Real Life Example: Sump Pump Denial Reversed

Posted by Brian Bean

As ouSump-Pumpr Executive Claims Consultant, I frequently assist clients and insurance company partners with difficult and complex claims situations.


Recently, we encountered a situation on a homeowner's claim involving a sump pump back-up. To set the stage, this particular client had purchased a separate endorsement on their policy for back-ups of sewers and drains. The endorsement covers water damage associated with sewer and drain back-ups. (Click here to learn more about the importance of this endorsement.)


Due to the unique plumbing used for this particular sump pump, the back-up not only caused water damage in the basement around the sump, but on the exterior of the home as well. A pipe from the sump pump leading out of the house began to leak. That water landed on the ground, and then ran directly in through a basement window causing more damage to drywall.


The carrier paid for the damages from the water that backed up through the sump, but they denied the other damage as being caused by surface water. Surface water coming into your home is not covered by this endorsement. They said that once any water hit the ground, no matter it’s source, it was considered surface water and damage caused by it was excluded.


Through a thorough investigation, I was able to determine that the exterior water damage was in fact due to the sump pump back-up. Due to our closer examination and review with the carrier, we were able to get that denial reversed and have the additional water damage covered.


Reviewing complex claims with our Business and Personal Insurance clients is a value added service that R&R is able to provide. With 20 years of claims experience, as well as a legal degree, I understand the importance of walking through difficult situations step-by-step to provide our clients the proper coverage.



Please note that R&R Insurance Services, Inc. is not a law firm. Brian Bean does not provide legal representation to clients of R&R Insurance Services, Inc., or to R&R Insurance Services, Inc.

Topics: Personal Insurance, Real Life Examples, Resource Center

Financial Impact of Changing Your Work Comp Effective Date

Posted by the knowledge brokers

cash w stethoscopeThere are various reasons as to why a business may try changing their Work Comp policy effective date: matching your Work Comp policy to your fiscal year or Package policy, request by new ownership, or you’re trying to get out of the Pool. Before you start down this road, you should first be looking at the financial impact of making this change.

It’s never as easy as it seems! We worked with a client who changed their effective date in order to make issuing certificates of insurance easier. This ultimately cost them $100,000!

A regular timeline has the Wisconsin Workers Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB) using 36 months of data to determine an experience MOD rate. However, when changing your policy effective date, the WCRB is able to use up to 45 months of data. Say you have had a year or two with costly claims, they will hang on longer due to this process. Remember: the higher the MOD, the more expensive the premium.

It must be noted: an Anniversary Rating Date (ARD) would not allow you to take advantage of a rate or rule change.
Say after looking at business analyses, claims review, and the financial impact of changing the Work Comp effective date, you determine this is the best scenario for your business. Once you begin the process of changing your Work Comp effective date, it will take five years to get back to a regular rating cycle. Not only is this a time consuming process, it could be a very costly process.

The R&R Resource Center works with businesses every day to proactively manage claims, ensure correct analyses are being performed on Work Comp insurance, and educate the pro’s and con’s of changing effective dates. The processes in place help ensure accurate data which ultimately saves you money. Contact us today for a review of your current Risk Management Program.

Topics: Risk Management, Workers Compensation, Resource Center, Business Insurance

Beat the Heat: Preventive Measures to Avoid Heat Exhaustion for Your Employees

Posted by John Brengosz

Best practices for employers with outdoor workers:

  • Train employees and supervisors in heat illness prevention, as well as how to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness and what to do if someone exhibits symptoms
  • On days when temperatures require preventive measures, increase the volume of water available to employees. California suggests one quart per hour. It is not enough to simply provide it - workers must be encouraged to drink the water.
  • Have shade available for outdoor workers and allow frequent breaks - at least 5 minutes of rest when an employee believes they need a preventative recovery period.
  • Have the ability to appropriately respond to any employee with symptoms of illness
  • Allow gradual acclimation for workers unaccustomed to working outside - it can take 4 to 14 days
  • Know where the nearest hospital is and directions to your work site in case emergency medical attention is needed

Heat-related resources

Topics: Safety, Risk Management, heat stroke, Resource Center, heat stress, heat exhaustion, Business Insurance, outdoor heat exposure, heat realted injuries for employees

4 Qualities School Administrators & Lab Science Teachers Should Find In A Safety & Liability Coverage Consultant

Posted by Paul Lessila

WI school administrators’ & teachers’ safety & liability concerns involve carrying the responsibility of ensuring students, faculty and community are covered – especially in high risk environments like laboratory science. Schools are faced with unique risks in regard to keeping their environments a safe place for students to learn and grow. Providing the best education and classroom experience should be an educator’s #1 priority and there are resources that allow you to make that the primary focus. Here are 4 qualities that you should look for when evaluating and choosing a safety & liability coverage consultant for your district, school, group or project.


School district risk and claims management requires a specialized expertise in all areas of a school’s operations function. Finding the right consultant for your group should include a representative with experience in education coverages as well as provide you with access to valuable resources that will help you make knowledgeable decisions. Your provider representative should have familiarity with your school setting, faculty and educators that are working in situations that may be considered high risk. Are you in a situation where you see your consultant only once a year or at renewal time? If so, it’s likely they do not have a strong understanding of the risks that are facing your individual students, faculty and property on a daily basis. Choose a consultant that has experience working in the same type of district, school or group setting as you will be working in together. They should also come with strong recommendations and be known for their solid relationships with the administrators, teachers and students they serve.


With experience, comes knowledge. Look for a consultant that has the breadth of knowledge to give expert advice, recommendations and lead you to resources that will provide value to the entire administration and staff. Safety and insurance coverages can be intimidating and complex at times. Having a reliable consultant that acts as an approachable extension of your team could save your district, school or group time and money. Working with a provider that goes above and beyond to create educational opportunities for you and your team will be an invaluable addition to the partnership.


Look for a provider with a mission that aligns with your district or school’s focus on providing the most successful educational experience for your students and the community. Your partner should be someone you trust to put the lives of the people who fall under your policy first as well as do the right things – even when no one is looking. Here’s an example of how Jeff Gross, Director of Business Services with the school district of Menomonee Falls is working with his insurance provider to put the students and community first.

Extensive Options

Your district, school or group faces special needs and issues day-to-day and you want to align with a provider that has a strong understanding of the risk management needs of academic institutions. These coverage needs are constantly evolving. Consultants should offer flexible and comprehensive coverages that protect your assets so your primary focus can be on education. Competitive pricing is of course, is also a factor along with specifically designed school enhancement coverages.

As an administrator or educator, the safety and security of your students, faculty and school environment are at the forefront of responsibilities faced everyday. Finding a safety and liability consultant you can trust will allow you to focus on what’s most important – education. What risks are of biggest concern for your district or classroom and how are you working with your consultant to minimize these risks?

Download the FREE Lab Safety Kit

Topics: Safety, Risk Management, Schools, Paul Lessila, Risk Management Center, amanda gilman, science labs, Resource Center, Lab Safety Guide, School science lab safety, FLINN Lab Safety, Laboratory Safety Institute, Business Insurance, chemical hygiene officer, menomonee falls high school, Client Testimonial Videos, the rainbow experiment, chemistry lab danger

Wisconsin Science Teachers Keep Students Safe In The Lab With 5 Essential Actions

Posted by Paul Lessila

Safety and chemical storage deficiencies are widespread in American schools. In the wake of recent stories about students across the country becoming injured in laboratory incidents, Milwaukee teachers are taking steps to ensure safety regulations are exceeded, colleagues are kept informed and students are safe.

Many regulations are put into place and resources, checklists and tools available for laboratory science teachers through Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Laboratory safety has been at the forefront in many industries but slower to be put into practice in the school setting. The video below shows how Menomonee Fall’s Chemistry Teacher, Amanda Gilman, is taking steps to protect the students and faculty at their school.

Teachers have a responsibility to lead by example and enforce all safety rules and practices. The need to educate students in the sciences, especially chemistry, presents challenges to educators that include safety concerns for students and faculty. Here are 5 critical factors all laboratory science teachers need to take seriously:

1. Take care of the lab & equipment.

How often are you conducting inspections of safety and first aid equipment? Be sure it aligns with what your administration requires. Record dates of when inspections are performed and include your initials on inspection tags. If you find a hazardous or potentially hazardous condition, notify administration and follow through on the status. This is a given, but defective equipment should never be used.

2. Keep good records & maintain chemicals.

It is important to update the chemical inventory at least annually and provide a copy of the list to local emergency responders (fire dept. etc). Consider the following when performing an inventory inspection:

  • Chemicals should not be stored with food or drink
  • Keep chemicals in their original containers
  • Make sure everything is labeled
  • Be sure to dispose of chemicals properly. Check labels and always follow instructions
  • Keep records of all staff safety trainings and any laboratory incidents that may occur

3. Know safety & emergency procedures.

Educate students on the location and use of all safety and emergency equipment prior to laboratory activity. Provide students with safety procedure instructions to follow in the event of an emergency / accident. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers in a designated location. Additionally, know the location of and how to use cut-off switches & valves for water, gas and electricity in the laboratory. Practice safety and evacuation drills on a regular basis.

4. Prep for laboratory activities.

Before conducting lab activities, evaluate the educational value vs. the potential risk. Have a strong understanding of the hazards of the materials and equipment being used. Conduct a thorough inspection of all equipment before any activity. Provide instructions to students before performing any work in the lab and follow up with lesson plan notes with details of any occurrences that took place during the experiment.

5. Model good laboratory conduct.

Being a good role model in the laboratory is key to providing an important example for students to follow while preparing for and conducting experiments. Be sure all students wear the necessary protective safety equipment and enforce all safety rules, at all times. Equally as important, never leave students unsupervised or allow unauthorized visitors to enter the lab.

Milwaukee-area middle school and high school science teachers are taking a stand against the upsurge in serious laboratory incidents that have occurred across the country in recent years due to experiments using highly explosive materials. In partnership with R&R Insurance based in Waukesha, area teachers have created a toolkit and on-demand webinar that will help educate other teachers and faculty on safety regulations and practices in schools, classrooms and laboratories.

The toolkit consists of some of the tips mentioned in this post:

  • chemical storage and utilization checklists
  • disposal tips
  • a guide to hazardous experimentation and avoiding accidents,
  • video & webinar trainings
  • and risk management resources and tools

What steps are you taking to ensure the safety of students and faculty in your school and laboratory?

Download the FREE Lab Safety Kit

Topics: Safety, Risk Management, Schools, Paul Lessila, Risk Management Center, amanda gilman, science labs, Resource Center, Lab Safety Guide, School science lab safety, FLINN Lab Safety, Laboratory Safety Institute, Business Insurance, chemical hygiene officer, menomonee falls high school, Client Testimonial Videos, the rainbow experiment, chemistry lab danger

The Dangers of Science Lab Experiments | Safety in Chemistry Labs

Posted by Paul Lessila

In early January 2014, two New York high school students suffered severe burns from a plume of fire that shot across their high school chemistry lab during an experiment called "The Rainbow Experiment". The dangers of highly explosive materials in high school science labs and this unfortunate recent event is a perfect segway to highlight the efforts of Amanda Gilman, Chemistry Teacher at Menomonee Falls High School in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and Chemical Hygiene Officer for the district.

Amanda's procedures in the classroom, inventory control, and safety precautions have been recognized as some of the best safety precautions used in schools today. Her unique inventory control methods help keep students and faculty safe. In this quick interview, Amanda discusses some of the techniques she uses in her chemistry lab, as well as the knowledge she gains through R&R Insurance - the provider of insurance for the Menomonee Falls School District and dozens of other schools throughout Wisconsin.



SDS Track Screen ShotR&R offers an online tool to manage all information for MSDS (SDS) - Material Safety Data Sheet (Safety Data Sheet). Schools and businesses looking for an easy-to-use, online resource for the management of chemicals in their facilities should contact a knowledgebroker.

For more information about R&R's Risk Management Center and the extensive online risk management tools we offer through this portal, contact knowledgebroker Andy Scherwinski.

More on the traumatic science experiment that severely burned 2 high school students in New York on January 2, 2014.


Download the FREE Lab Safety Kit


Additional Science Lab Resources:
The Laboratory Safety Institute
Lab Safety Guide: 40 Suggestions Poster

Topics: Safety, Schools, Paul Lessila, Risk Management Center, amanda gilman, science labs, Resource Center, Lab Safety Guide, School science lab safety, FLINN Lab Safety, Laboratory Safety Institute, Business Insurance, chemical hygiene officer, menomonee falls high school, the rainbow experiment, chemistry lab danger

Combustible Dust: An Explosion Hazard

Posted by John Brengosz

Combustible Dust PentagonHere are five examples of deadly incidents that were caused by dust, and ways businesses can eliminate the risk of a dust explosion happening in their facility.

  1. In February 1999, a deadly fire and explosion occurred in a foundry in Massachusetts killing 3 and injuring 9. A fire initiated in a shell molding machine from an unknown source and then extended into the ventilation system ducts by feeding on heavy deposits of phenol formaldehyde resin dust. A small primary deflagration occurred within the ductwork, dislodging dust that had settled on the exterior of the ducts. The ensuing dust cloud provided fuel for a secondary explosion which was powerful enough to lift the roof and cause wall failures.
  2. In January 2003, devastating fires and explosions destroyed a North Carolina pharmaceutical plant that manufactured rubber drug-delivery components. Six employees were killed and 38 people injured. An accumulation of a combustible polyethylene dust above the suspended ceilings fueled the explosion. The CSB was unable to determine what ignited the initial fire or how the dust was dispersed to create the explosive cloud in the hidden ceiling space.
  3. In February 2003, a Kentucky acoustics insulation manufacturing plant was the site of a dust explosion killing 7 and injuring 37 employees. The likely ignition scenario was a small fire extending from an unattended oven which ignited a dust cloud created by nearby line cleaning. This was followed by a deadly cascade of dust explosions throughout the plant.
  4. In October 2003, an Indiana plant where aluminum auto wheels were machined experienced an incident which killed one and injured one employee. Aluminum dust was involved in a primary explosion near a chip melting furnace, followed by a secondary blast in dust collection equipment.
  5. February 10, 2008 a deadly explosion ripped through a sugar refinery blast killing at least 6 workers and sent 62 to the hospital. “As far as we know it was a sugar dust explosion,” authorities said the day after the explosion. The blast occurred in a storage silo where refined sugar is stored until it is packaged. Sugar dust is combustible. Static electricity sparks from metal tools, or a cigarette can ignite explosions.

Elements Needed for a Dust Fire (the familiar "Fire Triangle"):

  1. Combustible dust (fuel);
  2. Ignition source (heat);
  3. Oxygen in air (oxidizer);
  4. Dispersion of dust particles in sufficient quantity and concentration;
  5. Confinement of the dust cloud

There are several ways these explosions can take place. Two primary scenarios are:

  1. A dust cloud (diffused fuel) is ignited within a confined or semi-confined vessel, area, or building, and burns very rapidly or explodes. The safety of employees is threatened by the ensuing fires, additional explosions, flying debris, and collapsing building components.
  2. An initial explosion in an area were fugitive dust has accumulated may shake loose more accumulated dust, or damage a containment system (such as a duct, vessel, or collector). As a result, if ignited, the additional dust dispersed into the air may cause one or more secondary explosions. These can be far more destructive than a primary explosion due to the increased quantity and concentration of dispersed combustible dust.

What action can employers take to reduce their exposure?

If one of the elements of the explosion pentagon is missing, a catastrophic explosion can not occur. Two of the elements in the explosion pentagon are difficult to eliminate: oxygen (within air), and confinement of the dust cloud (within processes or buildings). However, the other three elements of the pentagon can be controlled to a significant extent.

OSHA Fact Sheet on Combustible Dust Explosions


Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, dust fires, fire triangle, OSHA explosion pentagon, Resource Center, dust cloud, combustible dust, Business Insurance, deadly explosions

Electronic Reporting of OSHA 300 Log? Be Careful What You Record!

Posted by John Brengosz

On Nov. 7, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a proposed rule to require certain employers to submit injury and illness reports electronically. The proposed rule does not create additional recordkeeping or reporting duties for employers. Rather, it would dictate how this information must be submitted to OSHA. Summary of OSHA's proposal to require electronic submission of injury and illness reports.

Even though this is only in the proposal stage, you can believe that the information will be used to generate inspections in an attempt to “help”, and will create more targeting of "compliance assistance and enforcement"! The importance of completing the 300 log ACCURATELY will never be more important if/when mandatory submissions start. The main point we stress in our OSHA 300 Log webinars is that most companies are actually over-reporting their injuries on the 300. This was bad to do in the past, but would really be problematic if we get to the point where EVERYBODY is submitting their 300 log to OSHA. (currently not the case)

300 Log webinars:
Gain control over your OSHA 300 Log! Basic questions about the OSHA 300 log will be answered along with tips to keep your recordkeeping compliant and accurate. R&R offers free annual webinars - click here to register.


Originally published November 2013; last updated August 2015

Topics: Safety, OSHA, Risk Management, OSHA electronic reporting, 300 Log, Resource Center, osha 300 log recordkeeping, John Brengosz, Business Insurance, control your osha 300 log

Prepare for Successful GHS Transition

Posted by Jamie Vanderveldt

GHS_Symbols70% of all OSHA violations involve the hazard communication standard. Is your organization compliant?

According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), nearly 70% of all OSHA violations involve the Hazard Communication Standard.

Are your SDS's up-to-date and compliant with the new OSHA Hazard Communication Standard based on the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)? The new standard requires organizations with employees who work with hazardous materials to have access to SDS's that are accurate and easily accessible. The OSHA changes will compel all organizations to revisit and revise their SDS’s.

New OSHA Requirements

OSHA is requiring training on the new label elements (i.e., pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statements, and signal words) and SDS format for all employees who work around hazardous chemicals and other toxic substances. American workplaces will soon receive labels and SDSs that are consistent with the GHS.

Download a Pictogram Training Document

Effective Dates

Employees must be trained on new label elements on SDS's by December 1, 2013. More information on the new GHS deployment requirements.

Employer Responsibilities

Every organization with employees who work with hazardous materials must ensure their Safety Data Sheets are accurate and accessible. The most efficient and effective way to manage SDS’s is to use a digital database. The standard requires that organizations maintain an SDS for each chemical that is easy to access by all employees. Manual processes quickly fall out-of-date because many organizations don’t have the bandwidth to reliably keep SDS’s current and guarantee employee access, leaving them at risk of noncompliance. More information about streamlining your SDS database.

R&R's Risk Management Center Safety Data Sheet track:

  • Easy login to a single point of access for all locations.
  • All employees can access SDSs from any computer with internet access.
  • Archive and print SDSs at your convenience.
  • The RMC is fully maintained - no software updates or discs needed!

R&R Insurance Services’ Risk Management Center is a unique web-based software suite of safety and risk management tools designed to empower your organization’s risk prevention efforts. Contact knowledgebroker Jamie Vanderveldt for more information on this valuable resource for your risk management program.

Topics: Risk Management Center, Resource Center

Obese Workers More Likely To Report Injury

Posted by Maureen Joy

Has your company considered the link between obesity and occupation injury?

Journal of Obesity published a recent study by Ian Janssen, et al., which examines this relationship. A sample of 7,678 adult Canadian workers, were placed into normal weight, overweight, and obese categories based on their BMI body mass index. Findings show obese workers were more likely to report occupational injuries, with a great frequency of strains and sprains, along with falls and overexertion injuries. Interestingly, workers 40+ years, female workers and workers in sedentary occupations were particularly vulnerable. While there was not significant increased risk found with the overweight individuals, the impact of loss productivity, absenteeism and overall health costs should be further studied.

At R&R, we are seeing more and more small businesses in Wisconsin having serious discussions about the link between obesity and workplace injury. On top of that – when you factor in wellness programs that will increase the health and longevity of employees and their families – small businesses can have a lot control over their health insurance costs and the productivity of their employees - control that they don't know they have. At R&R Insurance, we call this program WellCompForLife! Join the WellCompForLife discussion on LinkedIn!

For more information about WellCompForLife, about self-funding your health insurance plan, health care reform or basic employee benefits questions, contact knowledgebroker Riley Enright

Topics: Safety, Workers Compensation, Employee Benefits, Wellness, Resource Center, Business Insurance, WellCompForLife