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Low Cost Ways to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease in the Workplace

February 8, 2016

darlene_sullivanWe all know that heart disease is the number one killer of Americans today.  But, did you know that someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds or $108.9 billion is spent on this disease alone? According to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans will have a heart attack this year. Even though these statistics are frightening there is good news.

There is staggering evidence that eating a healthier diet and increasing physical activity on a regular basis can reduce your risk of heart disease. These two behaviors alone can cut down on the other risk factors of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.  Since employees spend most of their waking hours in the workplace, it is the perfect place to provide ways to educate and motivate individuals to live a healthier lifestyle.  According to Wendy Pernerewski, CEO & Founder of Employee Health Management, you can implement the following health strategies at little to no cost for your employees. Start with one or two strategies and communicate them often.  Wellness communication is key to the success of your employees engaging in your programs.  Build upon the success of the initial strategies by adding more and making sure the C-suite is involved in the communication. This in turn will create that culture of health we’ve all been hearing about.

Physical Activity: 

  1. Is there an area around your office building that is safe to walk? Create a walking map and mileage to post for employees.
  2. Encourage employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator with posters about how many calories they can burn when they choose the stairs.
  3. Walking Meetings are great way to keep people moving and productive. Keep their creative juices flowing with fresh air on a nice day.
  4. No on-site fitness center? No problem! Negotiate a corporate discount with the local YMCA or gym. Encourage your employees to take advantage of this discount.
  5. Leverage the American Heart Association Walking Program for individuals to have a way to track their physical activity and see their progress.

Healthy Eating:

  1. Work with your vending machine vendor to provide healthier choices.
  2. Onsite cafeteria can provide a healthy option for the day along with calorie content appleof each choice.  People tend to make better choices when they see the amount of calories the plate of french fries has versus the fruit salad.
  3. Provide healthier meeting snacks.  Skip the usual bagels, muffins and pastry and bring on the fruits, nuts, yogurt, cheese and vegetables with hummus.
  4. Invite Weight Watchers to provide onsite workshops and weekly weigh-ins.
  5. SuperTracker from the USDA can be used by employees to learn more about healthy eating and track the types of foods and calories they are eating.

There are numerous ways to start engaging employees in better healthy to reduce their risk of heart disease without breaking the bank.  If you create awareness around prevention, motivate individuals to engage and provide an opportunity to practice these new skills, your company can be successful.

Darlene Sullivan

Group Benefits Account Manager

dsullivan@foundersgrp.com

Safely Travel the Globe This Winter

January 25, 2016

GarmaWhether your idea of a perfect mid-winter vacation is jet-setting to St. Barts, staying in a luxury villa in the south of France, yachting around the Mediterranean or checking out the latest hot spot, making sure you and your family are safe should be at the top of your itinerary.

Vacations are a time to unwind but there are also risks associated with traveling, which can be impacted by your destination as well as your economic status.

Here are six travel tips that will allow you to focus on your tan instead of your safety:

  • Diversify Your Money: Split up your cash and credit cards (ie – keep some on you and some in your hotel safe). This ensures you have access to funds even if you’re mugged or lose a bag.
  • Guard Your Identity: When you’re standing in line waiting to board, keep your tickets and passports concealed. Similarly, remove your luggage tags after arriving, which display your personal information. And don’t leave hotel key cards lying around after you check-out. While it’s debatable how much personal data they contain, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Blend In: Don’t advertise your affluence. Leave the flashy jewelry, designer clothes free-vector-tourist-globe1and pricey electronics at home. Love taking photos with your expensive camera? Snap away but keep it tucked away in a bag when it’s not in use. If you’re going to be traveling with fine jewelry or valuables, consider travel insurance.
  • Skip the Taxis: Transportation is one of the greatest vulnerabilities for wealthy travelers. Ask the resort or hotel you’re staying at to call a car service they’re familiar with versus simply hailing a cab, or make advanced transportation plans with carefully selected and trained drivers.
  • Avoid Status Updates: It may be tempting for your kids to post a photo of the infinity pool they’re lounging by, but social media can inadvertently put your family’s safety at risk by providing details of your whereabouts and activities. Not only does it advertise that your home is sitting vacant but it also makes your family vulnerable to risks like kidnapping.
  • Prep Your Electronic Devices: Be sure to have a fully charged communications device like a smartphone with you at all times and set up a PIN lock. Make sure your security software is up to date and strip any unneeded data from your devices, which protects you if they’re stolen or infiltrated. Also turn off your Bluetooth function, which can enable eavesdropping.
  • Plan for the “what ifs”: No one likes to think of the worst case scenario, but ensure that multiple people have a copy of your itinerary and that you’ve scanned your travel documents (passports, travel insurance policies, etc.) and e-mailed them to yourself. Also make sure each person you’re traveling with has an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact programmed into their cell phone and that you have the contact information for the nearest Embassy or Consulate where you’re going.

With the right preparation, your winter travels can be smooth sailing!

Garma Waldron

Personal Lines Account Manager

gwaldron@foundersgrp.com

OSHA Fines Surge in 2016, Adding 25 Years of Inflation

January 18, 2016

Mark Greco

Fines imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are set to jump by approximately 80 percent this year, the first increase in a quarter century.

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 allowed federal agencies to raise their penalties each year to account for inflation. However, OSHA and a handful of other agencies were exempted. A provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 that was signed by President Obama in November of last year essentially cancels that exemption, allowing OSHA to raise citation fines based on the cost of living increases that have occurred since 1990.

In addition to the one-time “catch-up” increase, which is around 80 percent and must fines19occur by August 1, OSHA will also be allowed to make annual cost-of-living increases in citation rates going forward. To put the increase in real terms, OSHA fines for a “serious” violation are going from $7,000 to $12,600 and “repeat” and “willful” violations are jumping from $70,000 to $126,000.

While this may seem like a huge increase, OSHA fines remain small compared to those issued by other agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

OSHA is also expected to approach inspections differently, focusing on quality over quantity, which means if a company is being inspected, they’re more likely to incur several penalties.

So how do you make sure you’re prepared for an OSHA inspection and don’t even have to worry about this increase? Know what regulations apply to your business and ensure you’re in compliance. Don’t wait for an inspector to come knocking – proactively identify any gaps and work to close them. Not only will you avoid fines, but you’ll ensure you’re conducting business in a safe and healthy environment.

Mark Greco
Commercial Account Executive
mgreco@foundersgrp.com

 

 

Living in a Winter Wonderland: Tips for a Safe Home

January 12, 2016

Jemeli BentlyDespite the unseasonably mild start this year, Old Man Winter is here and with his arrival comes more time spent indoors, colder temperatures and winter storms.  Snow, ice, wind and cold can cause in-home dangers.  However, with a little knowledge and preparation, you can ensure your home weathers the chilly months and you have a safe and event free winter.

Here are eight tips for making sure your home is safe this winter:

1)      Tune Up Your Furnace – Schedule a maintenance visit with your HVAC company to have your system professionally cleaned and inspected and make sure it’s being properly ventilated to the outside.  Also be sure to change your filter frequently (usually monthly – check your furnace manual or ask your HVAC company).

2)      Give Your Fireplace, Chimney and Roof Some TLC– Clean out your fireplace or wood stove and have your chimney inspected and swept, if needed.  Also inspect your roof, repair any leaks and replace any missing or damaged shingles.

3)      Clear Your Gutters and Down Spouts – Remove any leaves and debris from your gutters so melting snow and ice can properly drain.  Also make sure your downspouts lead water to at least three feet from your home and if not, add extensions to avoid foundation problems.

4)      Winterize Your Home – From installing storm windows to adding insulation to sealing cracks with caulk and applying weather stripping around door and window frames, winterizing your home can not only save you money on energy bills but also help you avoid issues, like ice dams.

5)      Prevent frozen pipes – Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like those that feed irrigation systems, exterior water faucets, swimming pools and pipes going into unheated interior areas like garages most frequently freeze. Make sure you drain water from supply lines and close inside valves.  Also make sure that pipes feeding unheated areas are thoroughly insulated.

6)      Check Your Fire and CO Detectors –From space heaters to candles to unattended stove tops, home fires increase in the winter.   Ensure both your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and that they have new batteries.  Also make sure you have detectors and fire extinguishers on each floor of your home.

7)      Trim Your Trees – While they may not be inside your home, trees on your property need to be trimmed to prevent branches from falling on your home or bringing down power lines.

8)      Be Prepared for Storms and Power Outages – From stocking up on snow melt, nonperishable foods and bottled water to ensuring your snow blower, shovel and roof rake are accessible and ready to go (including fuel), be prepared for winter storms.  When snowstorms hit, also make sure your heating vents aren’t blocked by snow, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  In the event there is a power outage, make sure you have a safe alternate heating source as well as a hand-crank radio, flashlights with new batteries and backup battery or solar-powered chargers to keep cell phones charged.

If possible, do maintenance heading into winter to avoid emergency repairs, which are not only harder to get scheduled but also often more expensive.  A little prevention will go a long way in giving you peace of mind and ensuring you can enjoy winter from the comfort of your safe and warm home.

Click here to access our safety checklist

Jemeli Bentley

Personal Lines Account Manager

jbentley@foundersgrp.com

Don’t Let “CEO Fraud” Compromise Your Business

January 7, 2016

bryan_johnsonTechnology has made the workplace more flexible and productive – from working virtually to conducting business on smartphones while on the go – business efficiency has increased dramatically.  While these advancements have innumerable benefits, there are also associated vulnerabilities.

If your organization relies heavily on e-mail communication to conduct business, you need to be aware of business e-mail compromise (BEC)BEC or “CEO fraud” is a rapidly growing scam targeting businesses that pay foreign suppliers using wire transfers.  “CEO fraud” traditionally occurs when legitimate business e-mail accounts are hacked through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques.

For example, your accountant gets an e-mail from your CFO who is traveling on business, requesting that he transfer funds to a vendor as soon as possible.  Since requests frequently come by e-mail, he wires the money, only to later find out the CFO didn’t send the e-mail request.

Here are three steps your company can take to ensure you don’t become one of the growing numbers of companies to fall victim to “CEO fraud:”

1) Scrutinize e-mail requests for fund transfers and look for telltale signs medium_e-mail_fraudof “CEO fraud.” Consider setting up an intrusion detection system rule that flags e-mails with slightly different e-mail configurations or extensions (CEO@legit-company.com vs. CEO@legit_company.com).

2) Follow up on e-mail communications in person or by phone to verify that a request is legitimate.  Always use the phone number you have on file for the requestor vs. the one listed in the e-mail.

3) Know your customers’ habits and pay attention to out of the ordinary requests or those that urge secrecy or immediacy. Consider requiring sign off by at least two executives for large transfers and hold requests for international wire transfers for an additional time period to verify legitimacy.

Armed with this knowledge, you can continue to enjoy the many benefits of technology while protecting your company.

Bryan Johnson

P&C Operations Manager

bjohnson@foundersgrp.com

How to Cultivate a Healthy Workplace in 2016

December 30, 2015

 

frank_buonocoreAfter the ball has dropped and glitter has settled, people start thinking about their New Year’s resolutions.  From exercising to dieting, personal development and health tend to be the focus of most goals. However, given the amount of time Americans spend working, a new year also presents an opportunity for businesses to support their employees as they strive to live healthier lives.

Not only do workplace health programs boost employee morale and company reputation, but they can have the added benefit of a healthier workforce with fewer absences and chronic illnesses.  This also translates to less demand for health services associated with lifestyle risks like inactivity and obesity.

 You don’t have to roll out an official wellness program to help your employees be healthier in 2016.  Here are four tips for creating a healthy work environment:

  1. Get active. Help employees incorporate activity into their workday.  Hold walking meetings or encourage employees to form a lunchtime or pre or post-work walking group.  If you have the budget, give employees an activity tracker, which allows them to see their progress and can foster healthy competition (ie – tallying which department has the most steps).
  2. Clear out the junk. If you have a cafeteria or vending machinesAssorted Donuts on white, make sure there are healthy food options available and provide employees with free filtered water.  Similarly, skip the donuts and choose healthy snacks and lunches for office celebrations.  If you have outdoor space, you can institute a workplace community garden for employees to plant and cultivate vegetables.
  3.  Provide a healthy environment, education and resources.  From holding seminars on weight management or healthy eating, to offering an onsite gym or walking trail, to featuring health tips, recipes and employee success stories in employee newsletters, to ensuring the office environment has sunlight, plants and ergonomic options (think standing desk stations and active desk chairs), make sure the environment your employees are working in promotes healthy living.
  4.  Help manage stress.  Encourage employees to disconnect from work at the end of the day and ensure leadership leads by example and doesn’t require employees to always be “on,” which can lead to burn out and illness. If budgets allow, bring in an expert to teach meditation or yoga.

To find out what resources or programs would work best for your workplace, ask your employees for input.  You don’t have to spend a lot to provide a healthy work environment and any investment you make will pay you back in the form of a healthier, more energetic and productive workforce.

Frank Buonocore, jr., CPCU

Senior Vice President

fbuonocore@foundersgrp.com

Yes you can insure your Chanel or D&G – and you should!

December 22, 2015

dianna_christinatChanel, Marc Jacobs, and Dolce and Gabbana – not only do these designers have the most beautiful clothes, but they also have some of  most expensive ones. If you have these names in your closet (or dreaming about having them), you might want to brush up on designer clothing insurance .

 

Risks for Designer Wardrobe Loss

Like many things, clothing is an investment.  Perhaps your closet is worth iStock_000050238620_Largethousands. For some of you, it could be millions.  So why not spend some time itemizing and protecting it?

Fire

This doesn’t need a lot of explanation.  A house fire could destroy your wardrobe very quickly.  Even if your house doesn’t burn to the ground, water & smoke damage could render your clothing unusable.

Natural Disasters

Some carriers, such as AIG,  will cover losses typically excluded in a traditional homeowner’s policy such as a loss due to flood.  As with a house fire – a flood could render your clothing forever lost or just a moldy mess.

Burglary

As with any fine article, we strongly suggest you schedule your high end clothing.  In the event of a burglary an itemized list with current values will ensure you are reimbursed by your carrier for your stolen articles.

About Insurance Policies for Designer Clothing

Insurance for designer clothing is just like that for your home, business, car, etc. Not all carriers offer it, and coverages differ from state to state.   The policy will depend on:

  • Value of the wardrobe
  • What you want covered
  • How much you want to pay for the premium
  • How much of a deductible you want

To learn more about how your designer clothes can be protected from damage and loss, contact Founders Insurance Agency .

Dianna Christinat

Assistant Personal Lines Manager

dchristinat@foundersgrp.com

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