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Managing your risk – in the office!

July 28, 2014

Bryan Johnson 

 

When we think of dangerous work zones, we often think construction sites, roofers or manufacturing – but we see a fair share of workers’ compensation claims coming from office workers.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, back strains, tendonitis, and shoulder/elbow issues were the cause of one-third of employee absenteeism (2011 US Bureau of Labor Statistics).

That is an astounding number of days lost at work! Think of the cost for any company large or small – workers  compensation claims, missed production, and, maybe most importantly, employee morale.

What is the solution?  Ergonomics.

Ergonomics is a fancy term that really means designing a work environment that best fits the worker – for comfort, safety, and proficiency.

Here are instances where an ergonomic intervention is needed:

Do your employees have any of these factors?

  • Repetitive tasks – doing the same thing over and over again.  This can include sitting at a desk and typing all day.  OUCH!
  • Classic back and shoulder strain points:  Lifting things above shoulders, squatting, lifting, leaning, twisting and picking up heavy objects
  • Holding the same position for a long period of time.  Do you have team members that have to stand in one spot for hours?  Lower back strains are common here.
  • Exerting extreme force to lift, pull, or shove heavy things.  Think mail rooms, stock rooms.

 

Take a look around your office – do an assessment!

OSHA has some great tools to get you started, and to get you thinking.  The best tools are your eyes and ears. We strongly suggest having an open dialogue with yourBusinessman with back and neck pain team.  Are there common complaints?  Do you see employees wincing or rubbing their necks at their desks?  Are you going through asprin by the cases?  Are your workers compensation claims up?

Take Action

After you’ve identified the issues and have done your homework – it’s time to take action.  Have a series of safety workshops for your team.   Topics such as:

  • Correct posture, monitor height and chair height
  • Proper lifting techniques
  • Encourage breaks from repetitive tasks – get up and move around
  • Teach stretching techniques
  • Make sure your team has ample leg room and work space

Give them the right tools

  • Make sure your team has the right safety equipment, as well as ergonomically correct chairs, keyboards, and other computer equipment.
  • Give them step stools; perhaps create shelving that is at a lower – or higher – height to avoid strain from lifting or squatting.
  • Make sure the lighting is correct for their job tasks – avoiding eye strain and headaches
  • Temperature control – is it too hot or too cold?

Monitor

It’s always nice to have a process, but you have to make sure it is being followed.  Have regular team meetings to reinforce your ergonomic rules and safety regulations!

Need help?  Just ask!

At Founders, our job is to make sure your team is protected and your company remains financially sound.  An increase in workers compensation claims can really hurt both!  We have a myriad of tools that can help with loss control measures – you just have to ask!

Bryan Johnson

P&C Operations Manager

bjohnson@foundersgrp.com

5 Reasons your Business should have Cyber Liability Coverage

July 14, 2014
Cindy Donaldson Director of Marketing & Sales

Cindy Donaldson
Director of Marketing & Sales

 

 

I recently read an article by the New York Times stating the  Chinese possibly hacked into US Federal Government Personnel files. According to the Times, “They appeared to be targeting the files on tens of thousands of employees who have applied for top-secret security clearances.” WHAT???  (Read the article here)

Now, it hasn’t been confirmed that any data was stolen – but will we ever really know?  Maybe not.  The point is, if the Federal Government’s fire walls and top shelf security systems can be breached don’t you think your business might be at risk?

 

 

Before you say that your data isn’t nearly as juicy as top secret spies, think again.  Your data will be a lot easier to get to and I guarantee if you have employees, take down any type of personal information from clients – including just their dates of birth or drivers license numbers – hackers can make a buck off of you.

Here is the scary part – you can be held liable for that data and yes, you can get sued.  Beyond that you will be responsible for notifying clients and employees that their data MAY have been compromised.  Note I stressed “MAY”.  Each state, and country, has different laws on what companies are responsible to do in case of a breach.  It is important to know the law.

Here are the 5 reasons:

1.  It is not IF, but WHEN you will have a data breach and/or compromise.  As we rely more and more on technology it is simply a numbers game.

2.  The cost for notification is in excess of $200 per record!  Health Care Providers take a deep breath – yes, that can add up pretty quickly.

3. Your business could come to a halt – you need a back up plan and funds to keep you going.

4. Often times it is employee human error that results in a breach – clicking on a phishing link in an email, sending private data unsecured, not shredding private data

5. Because businesses are mobile and we tend to want everything at our finger tips. You got it:  Hackers will steal phones, tablets and laptops.  And no, having a password to get it won’t stop them.

 

FAQ’s

Do you have to wait until your policy renews to endorse your current policy or get a stand alone policy?  NO!

Is it expensive?  It depends on your limits of coverage and the size of your risk.  Each policy is customized to what you need and may have several layers – there is no standard pricing.

I don’t take credit cards, do I really need it?  Yes, Cyber Liability Insurance will also cover your business if you computer system gets hacked into and you cannot conduct business. Don’t forget if you have employees, you have social security numbers that can be stolen!

What are the CT laws?  This is from the CT Attorney General’s Office  READ HERE

 

It’s complicated and overwhelming. That’s why it is important to have an in depth conversation with your Founders Account Executives and Managers about your specific risks!

Give us a call today,  860-482-3506 don’t wait until your company shows up in the NY Times – and not in a good way!

Cindy Donaldson

 

You want to insure what???

July 3, 2014
Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner – Founders Insurance Group

For most sane people, insurance simply isn’t all that interesting. However, every once in a while the insurance world intersects with the unusual, odd, or even downright crazy risk that requires some form of coverage.

During the course of our lifetime, the vast majority of us will only come in contact with “normal” insurance like auto, home, life or business insurance.But if there is a risk of loss and a correct premium can be assigned, just about anything can be insured. It isn’t all that strange for us to hear the news of a famous dancer insuring her legs or a famous piano player insuring his fingers. But there are lots of other unique situations where insurance coverage is required that just might elevate insurance in stature to the point of, dare I say it…. “interesting”!

Back in the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s, hijacking an airliner was fairly commonplace. In 1968 alone there were more than twenty-two skyjackings. A high percentage of skyjackers were on a misguided mission to seek asylum in Cuba! Little did they know that the only part of Cuba they would ever see is the inside of a Cuban prison or hard labor in a sugar cane field.  Interestingly, fearing the loss of customers and high profits, many airlines resisted advancing airport security. While unimaginable today, many airlines went with the strategy of simply allowing the skyjacker to commandeer the flight to Cuba. The passengers on board were met with the longest flight delay known to man, complete with a free night in a “fine Cuban hotel,” (is that an oxymoron?).  So, for a short period of years, airline passengers could purchase “skyjack” insurance that among other things, compensated each traveler for up to $500 per day, quite a bit of money at the time, for their inconvenience.

Most avid golfers would consider a hole in one the shot of a lifetime. It is so rare that even the PGA tour, with some of the most talented golfers in the world, seldom ever sees a hole in one. As a result, many local charity golf events offer a new car for any golfer fortunate enough to stroke a hole in one. The problem is that the cost of a new car would likely wipe out all of the proceeds (and maybe more) from the event. So for a very low cost, event organizers can purchase “Hole in One” insurance. Here at Founders, we have sold several of these policies through the years.

Many of us have heard of wedding insurance, and that is a policy that we offer here through the Travelers. But Wedding Insurance doesn’t cover getting cold feet.Yorkshire Terrier Holding Holding a Sign Fear not! Firemen’s Fund has offered to cover the cost of a “change of heart!” The high cost associated with many of today’s weddings, makes this an attractive option for many people seeking to marry the “Runaway Bride.”

Pet insurance is becoming more popular with many dog and cat owners, especially with the rising cost of veterinarian bills. So what do you do if you have a pet that isn’t a dog or cat? Well there’s no need to worry, private insurance is available for everything from chickens to hamsters!

Last year, I think I saw a UFO. I am not crazy and until then, I had a healthy skepticism of the extra-terrestrial. Had I known that it is possible to purchase “Alien Abduction Insurance” I might not have been so frightened that night and been able to get better photos! Of course, there must be actual proof of the abduction! No kidding!

Are you a fantasy football fanatic? It seems to be a craze that is taking the country by storm even with cable sports networks dedicating shows to the hobby. If you are concerned about your fantasy football team, Fantasy Player Protect has the policy for you.  Personally as a business owner that doesn’t play fantasy football, I would prefer “productivity insurance” be provided instead for the amount of business production lost in offices each year due to this obsession.

Having a baby is a life changing event. For many couples it is also an expensive one. So what happens when the stork drops off unexpected twins or triplets? There is no need to worry as “Multiple Birth Insurance” is your solution. However, it’s important to point out that if you are utilizing fertility drugs, coverage is excluded. If you are dealing with the opposite problem, many states compel companies to cover infertility treatment.

Of course we can’t forget Lloyds of London, known for insuring things like the tongue of a restaurant critic or food taster. Of course there is mustache coverage that was offered to a famous cricket player for his trademark mustache. And….we have all heard of coverage for the hands of famous musicians, but how about a world champion Yo-Yo player?

Believe it or not, this list of available insurance coverage only scratches the surface of the exciting world of insurance. So, if you have been abducted by aliens, worried about triplets or you are a professional Yo-Yo player, we here at Founders would love to help you out!

Have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

 

 

 

How to change the image of the Manufacturing Industry

June 27, 2014

Sarah Bourdeau, CIC, AIC Account Executive – Founders Insurance Group, Inc.

 

There’s a quote/photo circulating on Linked In that says, “If you smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.”   At the CBIA’s Manufacturing Summit (think State of the Union), I was definitely in the right room.  It was a pleasure to spend the morning with many innovative manufacturing executives and the affiliated professionals who support them.

The challenges facing the manufacturing industry today are many.  The cost of business is ever increasing, the work force is aging, new employees are expensive to train and hard to find.  Add the cost of development, technology requirements, not knowing what components OEMs will need and it could feel downright overwhelming.

Listening to the presentations at the Summit, I did my share of head nodding.  I relate to the uphill battle facing our manufacturing clients because it’s very similar to the topics we discuss in the insurance industry: How do we change the image of our industry:

  • How do we accurately portray our industries to draw students, their parents and individuals interested in changing industries?
  • How do we attract the much needed young workers?  How do we provide them with the appropriate education and training?
  • How do we pass on the wealth of knowledge from our experienced technicians have before they retire?
  • What are the cultural implications of a changing workforce?  How do we address employment issues as we diversify and change?
  • How can our organizations invest in technology to increase efficiency, stay competitive and grow our businesses?

That’s quite a list.

We have such a strong culture of manufacturing in Connecticut.  The individuals who are tasked with “fixing” these challenges are experienced, they are bright and they are committed.  Ultimately, the solutions will come from PEOPLE.  We are fortunate to have some of the smartest, most dedicated people together working to make manufacturing a vibrant economic driver for our state.

Sarah Bourdeau, CIC, AIC

sbourdeau@foundersgrp.com

 

Looking For a Job? Don’t Do This-Part 3

June 12, 2014
Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner – Founders Insurance Group

The job market is tough. Even with the unemployment rates dropping, we have one of the smallest work forces in decades. So it stands to reason that competition has never been higher. This is now the third time that I have approached this subject over the past couple of years, but given its importance, I think it’s worth further discussion. In a recent new job posting, we received nearly 100 resumes! To put things in perspective, the same position just eight or ten years ago might have brought in 15 to 20 resumes.

A resume offers an employer a window into what type of candidate  you might be.

What is it that will make you stand out in a sea of competitors? Companies large enough to have the luxury of a Human Resource Department are receiving piles of resumes to sift through every day. Smaller businesses like Founders don’t have that luxury. So timefunny executive is of the essence when looking at a new batch of resumes. Recently, I received a resume that was 7 pages long! We, like most employers are looking at your past work history and education first and foremost. Making your resume clear and concise is important. With that in mind, here are some more examples of what not to do when completing a resume.

Most people will state their career objective at the top of their resume, just below their contact information. I recently received at least 10 resumes that stated an objective that had nothing to do with the insurance industry. A fabricated example would be a resume that states an objective to become a nurse. There would then be listed courses or prior jobs in the nursing field. This sends a message to the potential employer than if you should happen to receive a job offer that it will only be a temporary stop until you reach your chosen field. The cost of hiring and training is expensive, especially to a smaller business. Don’t discount yourself in the first line of your resume!

The design and structure of the resume is important too. I am not suggesting that it needs to be fancy, but it should flow and make sense. First and foremost, your name and contact information should be at the top. I recently received a two page resume where the applicant didn’t state their name or contact information until the bottom of the second page! Font size and style is also important. Since most folks have access to the “Word” program. There are many fonts to choose from, however, some fonts make it difficult to read your information. I received a resume for our current opening that the font was so odd that the resume was almost unreadable. It should be pointed out that in the electronic world of resume submissions remember to attach your resume to your submission. Some web sites will allow you to make up your resume on the spot. More often than not, the information looks unprofessional when it has been done by the third party website. Attaching your existing resume is always the better way to go.

I know that I have mentioned this in the past, but if possible, have someone proof read your resume. In addition to poor grammar, I have seen resumes that have very obvious errors, like forgetting to capitalize your name. A current example would include an applicant that intended to type the beginning of a parenthesis, but instead typed the number “9.” We all make mistakes and a simple mistake like that isn’t the end of the world, however if there are multiple ones on the same submission that will usually cause us to place the resume in the “reject” file. Insurance requires precise note taking as we are binding a contract putting several hundred thousand dollars on the line for the client as well as the insurance company. Attention to detail is very important.

Next on my list pertains to the interview rather than the resume. I am often amazed by the number of interviewees that have not taken any time to research the company, namely taking a look at the company website. During every interview cycle, we come across several people that have never looked at our company’s website. In the age of the internet this information is readily available. It is also available for your history as well, so remember that things you say or post on the net will likely be available to a potential employer.

Speaking of the internet, nearly all of our resumes come to us via a job website. This makes it easy for a job seeker to simply “press the button” and “carpet bomb” every position, whether the job seeker is qualified or not, to send out resumes in mass. I have actually called job seekers that didn’t remember that they had sent me a resume just a week or two before!

I have a tremendous amount of empathy for job seekers, especially in this difficult economy. It saddens me every time that we have to place a resume in the “reject” pile. But with the large number of applicants we are receiving for a new opening, it isn’t practical to call fifty people in for a screening interview, so put your best foot forward and know that we take this responsibility seriously.

Good luck and have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

 

 

 

 

Does the Affordable Care Act Discriminate?

June 8, 2014
Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner – Founders Insurance Group

Many people have claimed that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ends discrimination in the health insurance business. After nearly twenty eight years in the insurance business a statement like that catches my attention. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines discrimination as “the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.”The key word in that definition is the word “unfairly.”

Before we dive into the definition of discrimination, let’s talk about what it means to insure someone or something. The function of insurance is to take a large risk and spread that risk among a large group of people in an effort to lower the exposure to that risk for everyone. A great example would be to take a snapshot of a 1,500 square foot home lost in a total fire. By the time the structure is replaced, the contents have been replaced; the additional cost of a rental home for the duration of the time to rebuild along with other costs, the claim will easily surpass $400,000. So the homeowner has a choice, (assuming that there is no mortgage); to take on the entire $400,000 risk or spend in the neighborhood of $750 per year and let the insurance company take on that risk instead for a set period of time. The homeowner knowing full well that the majority of folks that take out that policy will not have a $400,000 loss. The end result is that the policy mitigates the loss exposure to the homeowner.

When the insurance company assesses the amount each person must pay to cover their risk exposure, the company will take into consideration a number of factors in determining the cost of the policy. Is the home in an area prone to hurricanes, like a beachfront home? How old is the home? An older home will generally cost more to replace than a newer home. How well is that home protected from fire by the community? Is it located far away from a fire station or fire hydrant? Is there a paid fire department or a volunteer fire department? These are just a few of the many questions asked. After all of the questions have been answered, the company will assign a premium amount based on all of the factors involved. It is reasonable to expect a home sitting two hundred feet from the ocean  will see a higher premium than a home away from the ocean that sits a half mile from the fire department. The reason is simple, the greater the risk, the higher the premium.

Going back to our definition of discrimination, when speaking of insurance, it is reasonable to say that one person or group is being treated differently than another person or group, but, is it discriminatory? The answer is no and the state insurance department is there to assure that is the case. This is true when we speak of auto, business, life or health insurance as well. A low risk driver will pay less than a higher risk driver and so on.

Assigning a proper premium to the amount of risk exposure is often confused by the buying public as discriminatory when in fact 99.9% of the time it is not. Based on that confusion, the ACA marched along with a campaign to take advantage of that confusion. Aside from those that could not obtain health insurance at all, (I believe that there should be, but that is a subject for another blog), the ACA was set up to end discrimination where in fact was very little to begin with in the first place. So for example, women would no longer be charged more than men for their health insurance. Secondly, young people would no longer pay the actual price to cover their risk exposure, but a discriminatory price instead. Thirdly, some groups would have to pay fees while other groups had their fees waived by the government.

Let’s take the male/female argument first as it is a fairly simple one. Woman use the medical system more than men and therefore the amount Health care cost imagepaid out in claims is more. The ACA has now said that this is illegal. But remember, insurance premiums are based on the actual risk. So the end result is that the risk for woman has not changed. So the cost must be recovered somehow and the result is that men are nowpaying more than their actual risk demands! Now before I get a bunch of letters from angry women, it should be noted that in life insurance as well as in auto insurance, the claim payout for women is generally less than it is for men and as a result, women most often pay less for life insurance and for auto insurance than men do. It would be like charging a good driver with a great driving record a price that is the same for a poor driver. In the case of young people, their rates are as much as 40% or much more than their true cost should be. This has been highly publicized and the reason is that young people must now cover their own cost and the cost of others too.

Lastly, some organizations have had fees waived by the government as the result of political favors. Those fees are there with good reason based on the structure of the ACA. The end result is that those that did not receive a waiver will now be paying their own fees plus an additional amount to cover the fees waived for others. This will be reflected in future insurance premium increases.

So let’s return to our definition of discrimination and the all-important word, “unfairly” contained in the definition. Is it unfair to charge the appropriate rate for a risk or is it unfair to charge more than the appropriate rate for a risk in the name of “fairness?”

The ACA has largely replaced a perception of discrimination with real discrimination and barring any change in the legislation, it looks like it’s here to stay.

Have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

 

A False Sense of Security

May 27, 2014
Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner – Founders Insurance Group

Recently, I was away overnight to visit my daughter and her husband. After a wonderful evening, where fun was had by all, I returned to my hotel located in a wealthy town on the east coast. Due to strict anti-smoking laws, I retreated to the hotel’s parking lot to our car for an after dinner pipe while I read the evening news on my iPad. When finished, I closed up the windows and stepped out of the car to find a man leaning against the car in the blind spot away from the view of the cars mirrors. He was clearly looking to assault or rob me or both! I had no idea how long he had been lurking in there. As he stepped toward me, I stepped back out of reach and maneuvered around the car beside mine, effectively keeping him out of reach. The car was parked close to the rear entrance of the hotel and I was able to get away into the hotel before he could grab me, all the while he was sneering inflammatory comments at me. The hotel security responded quickly, he was caught and removed from the property.

As I mentioned, this was in a well to do area where the crime rate was very low. After returning to my room, I was pleased that the situation had not turned into something far more dangerous. As the next hour passed by, my thoughts centered on my disbelief that this took place in a “safe” area on the heels of a wonderful evening. The thought of something like this happening to me was the farthest thing from my mind while I happily sat at the dinner table that evening. While not very shaken up, I was in a state of disbelief. Things like that don’t happen there and things like that happen to the other guy.

In the days since this happened, and with the benefit of hindsight, I was reminded how often in our dealing with clients or potential clients that the “other guy” attitude tends to prevail over the concept that “sometimes bad things do happen to good people.” The number of people that purchase low auto insurance limits or ask for lower home or business insurance limits out of a false sense of security is staggering. Sometimes, these requests are done for economic reasons, but more often, they are done because people build a false wall security around some of life’s potential hazards. Unfortunately, there are companies and agents in the Funny nerd peeking from behind the desk isolated on white backgrmarketplace that are all too happy to sell the price without talking about the pitfalls.

As a matter of principle, we do not sell insurance coverage by using fear as a sales tool. We believe an informed consumer is a safer consumer when it comes to selecting coverage. Sadly, we are in a marketplace where there are actually companies that battle over who can get their potential customers sold a policy in the shortest number of minutes! If you take a moment and think about it, the public will sometimes spend more time selecting a menu choice in a nice restaurant than the amount of time taken when selecting a coverage amount that will financially protect everything that they have ever worked or saved for from a financial perspective. It is true that some just don’t want to be bothered because let’s face it; insurance isn’t a very interesting subject for most people. But interesting or not, it is a vital component of long term financial security. However, I believe that most often people make bad insurance choices because of a false sense of security. The law suit happens to the other guy. The fire happens to the other family. A major illness happens to old people, and so on. Often times this is even true when a client initially claims that the cost of the coverage is what is driving their choice for less coverage. This is especially true with folks that have never had a loss and have been lulled into a false sense of security.

I believe that we all need a bit of a false sense of security or we would spend our lives worrying about everything! But there needs to be balance, as with me in the parking lot that night, our world can change very quickly and often times when we least expect it. Insurance would not have protected me in that parking lot, but it was a strong reminder that when we get up in the morning, no one plans on having a life altering accident that day. Yet it happens hundreds of times each day around the country and in many cases to people that thought it would always happen to the “other guy.”

Have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

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