Blog

Distracted Driving – You probably do it more than you think.

Posted by on Jan 17, 2019 in Auto Insurance | Comments Off on Distracted Driving – You probably do it more than you think.

When we talk about distracted driving, we often think cellphones – texting, social medias, music… We all have that guilty memory of checking a text or trying to change what playlist is on.  We know these things are dangerous to do while driving, and we do them anyway, we think that because we know we are distracted we can be extra alert to compensate.  It’s simply not true. Distracted Driving is a serious problem. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 25% of all automobile crashes are related to cell phone use.  However, cell phone use is not the only form of Distracted Driving.  Driving while tired is another major problem.

Driving tired is something we have all done.  No matter your intentions and rituals, rough nights happen.  Morning comes, you gather yourself up, perhaps gulp a cup of coffee and hit the commute to work.  Your mind is in a haze of unfocused routine – more than likely you don’t notice anything is amiss.  You drive through an intersection and catch a glimpse of a red light in your review mirror – was it red when you went through it?  You are unsure, but nothing happened.  You arrive at work; how did you get here?  The commute isn’t memorable, you’ve done it umpteen dozen times, but usually you remember something about it, but not today.  Driving in this semi-comatose state is just as dangerous as using your cell phone or adjusting the radio but what’s even worse is we tend to not recognize we are doing it until after the fact.

So, what can you do?

The most obvious is get good, quality sleep every night.  It isn’t always in our control, but there are things that can help.

When you first wake up, if it’s sunny, or you have a sun-lamp – sit facing it for 5-10 minutes.  This will help signal to your brain that it’s time to be fully awake.

Avoiding “screen” time for at least an hour before bed can help your mind enter a more restful state.

If you shower/bath at night – give your body at least an hour between bath time and bedtime.  This allows your body temperature to return to normal before attempting to enter a sleep cycle.

Stop eating after dinner.  If you can avoid food for 2-3 hours before bed you’ll sleep more soundly as you avoid spikes in your blood sugar, or discomfort from eating.

Avoid caffeine for 4-6 hours before bed.  That’s how long it takes to move through your system.

However, the best advice I can think of is wake up with plenty of time to “take your time.”  Mornings we rush out the door go by in a blur, and while we may experience a momentary spike in energy and alertness – likely from anxiety over being late – it usually ends long before you reach your destination.  In fact, it could cause you to have an energy crash while driving – the calm after the storm, which leaves your mind wondering groggily.  By waking up with plenty of time to do your routine, you’ll find your more energy levels are more even, and your brain has time to come awake and stay awake long before getting behind the wheel.

Can you be held personally responsible for a Data Breach at your company?

Posted by on Dec 20, 2018 in Business Insurance | Comments Off on Can you be held personally responsible for a Data Breach at your company?

If you are a Director or Officer, you could be.

As a Director or Officer of your company you are open to litigation risks due to the decisions you make to influence the company.  How you choose to respond after a Data Breach and how you have influenced Cyber Security measures within your company could lead you to be held personally responsible for damages following a breach.  The acts you commit as a board member, including plans and decisions need to be protected.

The precedent has been set by past legal cases following data breaches in which the directors and officers have been accused of failing to take reasonable steps to protect customer data, failing to implement controls to detect and prevent a data breach and failing to report a breach in a timely manner.  In these situations, the companies’ Cyber Liability policy did not offer legal protection.  However, a D&O policy can.

What is a D&O policy?

A D&O policy provides protection for Directors and Officers for “wrongful acts.” This can include actual, or alleged errors, misleading statements, omissions of information, neglect and breach of duty.  Without a D&O policy, as a Director or Officer your personal assets could be forfeited to cover legal costs.  With cybercrime on the rise it is important that your company have strong cyber security and a data breach plan.  Failing to develop either could be classified as negligence or breach of duty.  However, not all D&Os include data breach in their coverage.  It Is important you talk to your insurance agent to ensure your policy is tailored to include protection in such an event.

How can I increase Cyber Security?

Cybercrime is a tricky and quickly evolving crime industry, making it hard to protect against.  However, it is important that every measure is taken to prevent an attack.  Here are a few techniques to improve cyber security:

  • Security software. Installing, and updating, security software on every computer within your network is a strong defense against cyber-attacks.
  • Install firewalls. Firewalls can protect your network from potential hackers.
  • Train employees on common “phishing” techniques, such as suspicious links in emails masquerading as Google docs.
  • Have a strict “plug-in” policy. Ensure your employees know not to plug in flash drives, tablets, etc. or insert CDs/DVDs/Disks into work computers, especially if the item is not familiar to them.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN’s offer advanced encryption and authentication protocols and can be used to access your company’s network remotely rather than depending on a remote-access server.
  • Have a plan ready for when a data breach occurs. Unfortunately, it is no longer a matter of if, but rather when a breach will occur.  Already having a protocol in place to ensure those effected by the breach in a timely manner could mean the difference between an embarrassing loss of data, and a legal case for negligence.
  • If you are a publicly traded company ensure you are incompliance with all Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidelines regarding cyber breach, data loss and shareholders.

Most importantly you should talk to your insurance agent regarding Cyber Liability and D&O policies to ensure your policy is tailored to cover any gaps in coverage.

Lone Workers – a rising demographic with unique risks.

Posted by on Dec 10, 2018 in Business Insurance, Franchise Insurance, Property Insurance | Comments Off on Lone Workers – a rising demographic with unique risks.

What is a Lone Worker?

Lone workers are classified as any person whose work is completed in isolation from other workers. They do not have direct supervision and are expected to fulfill their duties efficiently while adapting to any unforeseen circumstances and are generally expected to use their best judgement. With the increase in technology and automation the number of lone workers is rapidly increasing.  There are many industries in which employees may find themselves working alone, either on location, out in the field, or at home. This leaves great potential for safety concerns.

How can you minimize the risk to lone workers?

Having a safety strategy which details the policies and procedures of completing an employee’s duties is essential to a safe work environment.  Lone workers should receive training in safety protocols prior to being left unsupervised. Safety protocols should include:

  • Detailed outline of expectations
  • Identifying potential risks
  • Proper training with equipment
  • Inspection and maintenance of equipment/vehicles prior to each use.

However, accidents and illness can still arise and finding yourself injured or in danger while alone is a frightening prospect.  To minimize the risk to lone workers, employers should consider implementing the following actions.

  • Ensuring employee has access to communication device, such as a phone or radio
  • Install automatic warning devices, e.g. panic alarms, no movement alarms, automatic distress message systems, (alert that must be actively canceled to avoid being activated)
  • Establish check-ins
  • Procedures and training for hostile situations
  • Easy access first-aid kits and training
  • Locking and securing place of work, installing mirrors or cameras to monitor blind spots.
  • Implementing correct incident or near-miss reporting procedures

While many of these concepts will not prevent an incident from occurring, they can ensure someone is notified of a problem in the event the employee is incapacitated or unable to call for help themselves. Lack of timely treatment or aide puts lone workers at a higher risk of long-term disability versus other employees.

Who’s responsible?

Ensuring the safety of employees is the responsibility of the employer.  While lone workers are generally at higher risk than other employees within an organization, it is up to the employer to minimize risks by establishing and enforcing safety policies.  Employers should also only place capable employees in isolated working conditions after carefully vetting them.  An employee who does not follow regulations is still the responsibility of the employer.

Winter Weather Liabilities

Posted by on Nov 26, 2018 in Business Insurance, Personal Insurance, Property Insurance | Comments Off on Winter Weather Liabilities

Winter is more than cold weather, snow and hot cider – it’s also winter storms and ice, which means potential hazards and costly liabilities. If you deal with either commercial or residential property it is important to know what side effects of winter you are responsible for.

Who’s responsible?

Legally, snow and ice are the same as any other hazard present on a property, and the property manager can ultimately be help liable for any injury caused by such hazards.  It is important to be vigilant when it comes to removing ice and snow promptly.

Residential rentals such as single-family homes or duplexes often pass responsibility for snow and ice removal to the tenant.  This should be out lined clearly in the lease agreement and must include language describing areas that need to be cleared of snow/ice, time line for prompt removal and the consequence for failure to comply within a certain amount of time.  It is important to be as precise and detailed as possible to avoid disputes and unnecessary liability.

How can you minimize risk?

Larger properties, such as commercial buildings and parking lots, you may want to consider hiring a snow removal company.  There are several such companies, some large and some one-man shops.  It is important to choose wisely when hiring independent contractors.

It is important the contractor have sufficient resources to meet your needs, such as a plow that has the clearance to handle the higher end of average snowfalls in your area.  Determine how quickly they can be on site to begin removing snow, and what kind of priority guarantee you’ll receive that the task will be done within the required time frame. If they have a number of clients, will you be the first, last or somewhere in-between, property they get to after a major snow event. It is vital to get the specific conditions and time constraints for removal in writing.

Make sure the company has all the necessary insurances, which cover both operations and their employees.  You do not want to be held liable for a worker being injured on your property while in the act of preventing such injuries.

However, be advised that hiring a removal service does not absolve the property manager from liability.  It the hired company does not show up or does a poor job and the snow/ice causes an injury on your property, you are still liable.  It is recommended that you, or someone you trust, can inspect the work and have a contingency plan in place if necessary.

Snow and ice removal from walkways and parking lots is not the only snow/ice hazard that can occur.  While slips and falls are certainly the most common type of injury, icicles and other accumulations of heavy ice or snow above walkways can also cause serious harm.  Icicles should be knocked down safely and other areas of buildup should be addressed.  If an area is consistently an issue it may be best to reroute foot traffic through an alternate entrance or walkway.  The best way to avoid these hazards is to properly maintain eaves and downspouts.  Ensure water drainage from melt off is directed away from walkways. Inspect eaves for obstructions and leaks – daytime melts can often turn into dangerous ice buildup overnight.  Plus, since water expands as it freezes, a small leak could become a major fault before winter has subsided. Consider investing in roof heaters to avoid ice damming in areas of the roof where snow and ice accumulate – such as “roof valleys”.  Ice dams can cause serious damage to the integrity of a roof, leading to leaks, mold and other expensive repairs.

For additional information on risks and coverage, or to determine your liability contact Concklin Insurance Agency today.

Open Enrollment – Quick Tips

Posted by on Nov 9, 2018 in Personal Insurance | Comments Off on Open Enrollment – Quick Tips

Forms and application for health insurance coverage

The Open Enrollment for 2019 Marketplace plans began November 1st, 2018 and will close December 15th 2018.  All plans purchased during this time will go into effect on January 1st, 2019.

Many people find the process of enrolling on the Marketplace to be both intimidating and frustrating.  Here are some tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Open Enrollment – Quick Tips

1. Find out if you are eligible.

A complete list of criteria can be found at https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/eligibility/

2. Gather up all your documentation before you begin your application.

This includes current coverage information, household financials and size.  For a complete check-list of required information follow this link cms.gov/outreach-and-education/marketplace-application-checklist.pdf.

3. Pre-filled Applications

If you are using the pre-filled application because you had Marketplace coverage in 2018 it is still important to review your application. Update any changes to your household and income to ensure you are getting the correct rate.  Failure to do so could result in being over-charged or receiving fines for under payment.

4. Give yourself plenty of time to enroll.

Open enrollment ends December 15th, and it is easy to let the time slip by.  Set a reminder in your calendar to complete the process well in advance of the closing date.  This way if you have any challenges there is time to address them.

5. Remember there are 5 ways to apply for coverage:

 

1. Online

Visit the www.healthcare.gov/login website to apply online

2. By phone

Call 1-800-318-2596 to apply by phone

3. With in-person help

Visit https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/#/ and enter your zip code to find the closest in-person location to you.

4. Through an agent or broker

Contact our very own Kim Mondus will be happy to assist you.

5. With a paper application

Download the application  and instructions.

 

Will I be penalized if I don’t get insurance?

With the repeal of the Individual Shared Responsibility Tax in 2019 persons who do not get minimum essential coverage in 2019 will not be charged a penalty.  However, the mandate that each person have essential coverage is still in effect, and the penalty will still be enforced for 2018 on persons who did not meet the coverage requirements in 2018.  The decision to not get Health Coverage should not be entered lightly.  If your main concern for not seeking coverage is due to cost, please reach out to your local agent today.  There are more options than you may realize, and many benefits for the unemployed, students and elderly.  Please contact us today.