Laundry is a fact of life, some people love it and some find it a dreaded, but necessary chore. You know to wash your whites in hot and your colors in cold and when you put the wet clothes in the dryer you always make sure to clean the lint trap before turning it on. Good to go, right?
Not quite. You need to clean out the vent from the dryer to the outside of your home one to two times a year. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, obstructed airflow due to lint buildup causes 15,500 fires a year. These fires result in approximately 30 deaths and over 400 injuries making dryer fires the number two source of fire in the home. Perhaps just as dangerous, a gas dryer that’s improperly vented or has an exhaust clogged by lint can cause carbon monoxide to fill the laundry room – a very lethal oops!
Warning Signs of a Clogged Vent
- Clothes take longer to dry
- Clothes don’t fully dry
- Clothes are hotter than normal at the end of the drying cycle
- Outside of dryer gets very hot
- Outside of exhaust vent flap doesn’t open very much indicating low exhaust velocity
- Laundry room becomes more humid than usual
- Burnt smell is evident in laundry room
Benefits to Cleaning the Vent
- Improves the efficiency of your dryer thus reducing your energy costs
- Dryer will last longer with less repairs
- Clothes have less lint left on them
- Makes you safer from fire in your home
Experts recommend cleaning your dryer vent at least once a year. If you have a large family or a lot of furry pets and do many loads of laundry a week, you should clean the vents at least twice a year.
Regardless if you choose to clean the vent yourself or hire someone to do it for you, for the safety of you and your family, it’s time to add this task to the annual spring cleaning chores. It’s almost as fun as washing all the windows!
Happy Spring Cleaning!
Personal Lines Account Manager
Avoiding worker’s compensation claims starts with smart hiring but continues with employee training and safety programs.
As I blogged about recently [read more here], companies can save major worker’s compensation headaches by implementing a series of smart hiring practices. Once those practices are in place and fully vetted, quality employees are entering your workforce, the worker’s comp avoidance job is done, right? Not so fast. In order to keep worker’s compensation claims in the category of rare occurrence, an organization must have a sustained commitment to keeping its employees safe and knowledgeable.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, every employer has an obligation to provide and maintain a safe, healthy workplace for employees. This protects employees of course, but also protects employers from dealing with a higher rate of worker’s compensation claims.
Implementing a comprehensive safety and health program will help employers of all sizes better manage their risk. Here are some best practices to consider:
Create a culture of safety and health — Make sure safety is a part of your workplace culture, with buy-in at all levels, from supervisors and managers to new employees. Establish a mentor program so new employees have a specific “safety” person they know they can consult with.
Provide training — Provide job specific, hands-on safety training to new (and existing!) employees, and make sure to involve supervisors and managers in both that process and follow-up and enforcement. If your employee population includes workers who are not native English speakers, provide training in other languages. Above all, encourage questions from your employees. The give and take will help instill confidence that the training is sinking in.
Make them stand out — Sometimes you just have to be a little different. During orientation, provide hard hats, eye protection, safety vests of a different color and name badges to help your employees identify and support new hires.
Focus on proper ergonomics — Whether they are desk jockeys or out in the field all day, make sure your employees have the right equipment for their job and that they are trained on how to use it properly. OSHA has found that $1 of every $3 in worker’s compensation claims are the result of ergonomic injury. Do not ignore this crucial area!
Guard those machines — Manufacturers and others who use heavy equipment in the workplace need to ensure the machines have proper safety mechanisms in place and that they are in tested working order. Train new employees in safety practices related to the equipment and the relevant safety mechanisms.
Drive safe — If you have company vehicles, make sure you are routinely checking motor vehicle registration information on all employees with driving responsibilities. To boost driver safety education, consider enrolling employees in a course offered by your insurance carrier. Regularly inspect your vehicles and maintain them in good condition.
Implement a return-to-work program — A comprehensive return-to-work program protects your employees AND your bottom line. It can include accommodations such as modified duties or schedules, new tools that can help an employee work with a disability or injury, or employee reassignment, either temporarily or permanently.
Still have questions?
Give Team Founders a call! 860-482-3506!
Smart hiring practices (and retaining good employees) help protect against Workers’ Compensation claims
Just as all employees are not equal in skill-set or ability to produce, all employees are not equal in terms of their potential to file Workers’ Compensation claims.
An oft-held assumption is that an older workforce is more likely to file excessive worker’s compensation claims. That’s true in certain cases, particularly in the leisure and hospitality sectors, but overall the data shows that it’s not age but tenure that has the greatest impact, and it might surprise you to learn that workers with shorter tenure file more claims. Indeed, one study published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine shows that injury reports were four to six times higher for workers during their first month on the job.
Recent research by The Hartford underscored these findings. The carrier discovered that the first year in an employee’s tenure poses the highest risk, with the first month twice as risky as the rest.
Unquestionably, retaining good employees over the long term is a top way to reduce your worker’s claim liability. But whether due to your organization’s growth or employee retirement/moving on, you’ll be hiring. When it’s time to do so, these practices can help you guard against the risk of future worker’s comp claims.
Comprehensive pre-employment screening — Criminal, motor vehicle, and financial background checks can help discover problems before you hire, as can drug screening. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 30% of the population has a criminal record. Take the time to know who you are hiring.
Verify applicant information — According to Careerbuilder.com, more than half of all job applications contain inaccurate information. According to ADP, there are discrepancies in nearly half of employment, education, and reference checks provided by applicants. While some of these may be minor, invest the time and resources required to verify.
Post-employment controls — Once you’ve hired, periodic physical exams and medical assessments and random drug testing can help guard against worker’s compensation and negligence claims against you.
In short, new hires can pose serious risks for your organization, but careful on-boarding and training can help curb potential losses. Be persistent in your efforts. Risk management for work-related injuries is an ongoing process that provides benefits not only to new hires, but all employees and your organization as a whole.
Still have questions? Give Founders Insurance Group a call – helping people manage their Work Comp claims and process is what we do best!
Commercial Lines Account Manager
“Thank you for the dinner and a very pleasant evening. If your car could take me to the airport; Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news immediately.” —Tom Hagen, consigliere to Godfather Don Corleone
Putting aside the murders, corruption, strong arming, and illegal and unethical behavior of all stripes, Marlin Brando’s Godfather was a pretty good guy to have on your side.
In real life, a good non-mob godparent takes a strong interest in a child’s life, a protector who supplements and augments the traditional parental role. Like a good godparent, a good insurance company is there to protect you as well, but can’t help if you don’t report what’s going on, and promptly.
You need to file insurance claims fast, regardless of who’s at fault, otherwise, you could jeopardize your coverage, create future risk, and cause more problems.
The Don would not approve of such delay, but if that’s not enough to convince you, here are the top five reasons why you should promptly report a claim.
Guarantee you’re actually covered — It would be very bad, indeed, to actually find yourself unexpectedly not covered in an accident, but that can happen if you don’t report claims promptly. Your policy defines specified conditions and requirements for coverage, and one of them is usually your duty to report a loss just as soon as practical after the loss occurs. Do. Not. Wait.
Get relief faster — The sooner you report the claim, the quicker your carrier can investigate, determine liability and damages, and begin paying on the claim. Prompt reporting means an easier investigative process, which speeds up everything that follows — like getting a check!
Improve the chance of getting your deductible back — Let’s say you’re in a car accident that’s not your fault. Your insurance company will pay your claim and then go after the at-fault driver’s insurance company for the damages. This is known as subrogation. The best part about it from your standpoint is if your carrier is successful in the subrogation process, they will be able to collect not only what they paid you, but be able to reimburse you for any deductible you had to pay. Again, the faster you report the claim, the more likely this will happen.
Prevent additional damage — If there’s fire or water damage to your property, prompt reporting means your carrier can swiftly dispatch specialists who work around the clock and can immediately begin remediation work, preventing further damage. This ultimately lowers claim costs and helps keep premiums low.
To better defend you — If someone is injured in a claim that involves you, your carrier can negotiate a settlement early in the process, which often means better outcomes for you. Late reporting could allow key evidence to be lost or destroyed, leading to a not-so-positive outcome for all parties involved.
Remember, your insurance policy is merely a promise until you have a claim. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. The Don would no doubt approve.
Some great advice from our friends at Chubb Insurance
Even if you have just one valuable piece of jewelry, you need to consider whether or not you have the right kind of jewelry insurance and the right amount of coverage. According to Chubb Personal Insurance, $1.5 billion in jewelry is either lost or stolen every year in North America. While your jewelry may be just a sliver of that amount, it likely holds both financial and great sentimental value for you, and losing it to theft or some other type of loss would be devastating. Unfortunately, most people will find that their jewelry is either uninsured or underinsured because they don’t understand how personal property coverage works, and they believe some of the myths that are out there about jewelry coverage.
If you think you have all the jewelry coverage you need under your homeowners insurance policy, you could be wrong. While your home insurance policy does provide jewelry coverage, it is likely quite limited.
Most insurance companies limit jewelry coverage to $1,000 – $5,000 after your deductible. In addition, this coverage only applies if the jewelry is lost due to a specific “covered peril” outlined in the policy.
- If your jewelry is damaged or lost accidentally, you likely have zero coverage.
- If you think jewelry insurance is too expensive, you should think again. It is far less expensive to properly insure your valuable pieces than it would be to replace one of them if it were lost.
- If you think obtaining jewelry appraisals is time-consuming and not worth the effort, wrong again. We can help guide you through the appraisal process and make sure that you understand its importance in making sure your items are neither under- nor over-insured.
- Last, if you think you don’t need special jewelry coverage because your home is safe, you may be in for a rude awakening. You cannot protect your home and belongings under every circumstance, even if you have a home security system.
- And adding special jewelry coverage protects your jewelry when it is outside of your home, with better coverage limits and all-risk coverage that is not subject to your deductible.
How Can You Purchase Additional Jewelry Coverage? You can increase the coverage limits on your valuable jewelry in two ways.
- You can increase the “special limits of liability” for the jewelry category of your homeowners insurance policy. This increase in your jewelry “blanket coverage” will provide a higher overall coverage limit for all of your jewelry.
- If increasing your blanket jewelry is not the right option for you, you can add a scheduled personal property rider to your home insurance policy. This will increase the individual coverage limit on specified items, and it will provide all-risk coverage for those items. This means that the scheduled items will be covered for accidental loss outside of the home, damage and many other potential risks.
What Can You Do To Better Protect Your Jewelry From Loss?
Besides insurance coverage, it is important to protect your jewelry from loss at all times.
Here are some tips for protecting your jewelry at home. Invest in a home security system. This will help secure all of your personal property as well as make you eligible for an additional discount on your home insurance rates. Store your jewelry in a safe place, such as a safe in your home or in a safe deposit box at a bank. Prepare a detailed inventory of your valuables. Include the date you purchased each item, how much you paid for it and where it was purchased. Keep any other pertinent information as well, such as receipts and a photo. Store your inventory in a safe place away from home. Get appraisals. Only a proper professional appraisal can provide you with the true value of your items and how much insurance coverage you need.
For more information about Jewelry coverage – give me a call!
Platinum Accounts Executive – Founders Insurance Group
Anthem Cyber Attack Information:
Anthem was the target of a very sophisticated external cyber attack.
These cyber attackers gained unauthorized access to Anthem’s Information Technology (IT) system and have obtained personal information from its current and former members such as their names, birthdays, member health ID numbers/Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data.
Anthem’s investigation to date indicates there is no evidence that credit card or medical information, such as claims, test results, or diagnostic codes were targeted or compromised.
Once the attack was discovered, Anthem immediately made every effort to close the security vulnerability, contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and began fully cooperating with their investigation. Anthem has also retained Mandiant, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, to provide incident response and security assessment services.
Anthem is not aware of any fraud that has occurred as a result of this incident against its members, but all impacted members will be enrolled in identity repair services. In addition, impacted members will be provided information on how to enroll in free credit monitoring.
Anthem has created a dedicated website (www.AnthemFacts.com) where you and other members can access information such as frequently asked questions and answers and a telephone number that members can call 1-877-263-7995.
Was my information accessed?
Anthem is currently conducting an extensive IT forensic investigation to determine what members are impacted. The Anthem teams are working around the clock to determine how many people have been impacted and will notify all Anthem members who are impacted through a written communication.
What information was compromised?
Anthem’s Initial investigation indicates that the member data accessed included names, dates of birth, member health ID numbers/Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and employment information including income data.
Was there any diagnosis or treatment data exposed?
Anthem’s investigation to date indicates there is no evidence that medical information, such as claims, test results, or diagnostic codes were targeted or compromised.
Was my credit card information accessed?
Anthem’s investigation to date indicates there is no evidence that credit card information was compromised.
Do the people who accessed my information have my Social Security number?
Anthem’s investigation to date indicates that the information accessed included names, dates of birth, member health ID numbers/Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information. Anthem is working to determine whose Social Security numbers were accessed.
How can I sign up for credit monitoring services?
All impacted members will receive notice via mail which will advise them of the protections being offered to them as well as any next steps.
When will I receive my letter in the mail?
We continue working to identify the members who are impacted. We expect the mailing of letters to begin in the next two weeks.
My children are on my insurance plan, was their information also accessed?
Anthem is currently conducting an extensive IT forensic investigation to determine which members are impacted; however, adults and children were impacted.
Do the people who accessed my information know about my medical history?
Our investigation to date indicates there was no diagnosis or treatment data exposed.
Do the people who accessed my information have my credit card numbers and banking information?
No, the investigation to date indicates that information accessed did not include credit card numbers, banking or other financial information.
Has anyone used my information yet?
We are not aware of any fraud that has occurred as a result of this incident against our members.
Am I at risk for identity theft?
Anthem is currently conducting an extensive IT forensic investigation to determine which members are impacted. We are not aware of any fraud that has occurred as a result of this incident against our members, but all impacted members will be enrolled in identity repair services. In addition, impacted members will be provided information on how to enroll in free credit monitoring.
Do I need a new member ID card and number?
Anthem is working around the clock to determine how many people have been impacted and will notify all who are impacted. Anthem will provide further guidance on next steps.
How can I be sure my personal and health information is safe with Anthem, Inc.?
Safeguarding its members’ personal, financial and medical information is a top priority for Anthem, and because of that, they have a state-of-the-art information security system to protect the data.
Anthem has contracted with Mandiant – a global company specializing in the investigation and resolution of cyber attacks. Anthem will work with Mandiant to ensure there are no further vulnerabilities and work to strengthen security.
What is Anthem doing to help members potentially affected by this incident?
All impacted members will be enrolled in identity repair services. In addition, impacted members will be provided information on how to enroll in free credit monitoring.
Where is the data now? And who can access my information?
Evidence indicates that the data was uploaded to an external file sharing service. This file sharing service, at Anthem’s request, has locked down the account and data so that it cannot be copied, accessed or removed. Anthem and the FBI are working with the file sharing service to access the data and further secure it.
Workers’ Compensation claims in the health care industry can get costly. Due to the high physical demands put on the health care professionals by clients – musculoskeletal disorders, or MSD’s, are the leading cause of claims, especially in the home health care and nursing home sectors.
MSD’s can be classified as any injury or strain to tendons, muscles, bones, cartilage, bones, nerves or joints caused or aggravated by tasks such as pulling, pushing and/or lifting.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) – nursing aides, orderlies and attendants had the highest rate of MSDs with more than 7 times the average rate for other industries.
Help your employees reduce the risk of an MSD injury by:
- Have ongoing ergonomic training for your employees – especially office staff to avoid things such as neck and wrist strain.
- Have the proper equipment for your team including but not limited to lifting devices, adjustable beds, raised toilets and proper grab bars in showers as to alleviate and/or avoid employee lift assistance. Manual lifting should be minimized in all cases and eliminated when feasible.
- Already have proper equipment? Great! Don’t assume your staff is using the proper form. Many back strains can occur from twisting motions when helping patients transfer from bed to chair and other like movements.
- Catch it quickly. Injuries will to happen in even the best run institutions! The key to managing your Workers’ Compensation losses is to insure employees are notifying you of any injuries immediately. Next – keep the lines of communication open between the injured employee, your HR Team and health care providers. Getting that employee the proper care and back to work as soon as possible is vital!
MSD’s can be very costly for your healthcare organization – open communication and training with your staff can help you have a safe and happy work place in 2015!
Commercial Lines Account Manager
Founders Insurance Group