July, 2014

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Employee Retention and Connecticut Group Benefits

Group Benefits Connecticut

In Connecticut, group benefits are a valuable consideration for most employees. In fact, benefits can be even more important than advancement opportunities, company culture, and other perks in fostering employee loyalty. That’s important to consider while going through the process of recruiting new employees, which often means investing a massive amount of your company’s time.


Benefits are less expensive than many people think


Health insurance is now certainly more affordable for small businesses than it’s been in recent years, due to new offerings under the Affordable Care Act. Your company can stand out from the competition by offering any and all available benefit options (only 28 percent of businesses with fewer than 10 employees offer health insurance).


By doing so, you’ll be giving your company a recruiting edge. If you’re convinced that you should provide your employees with solid group benefits, there are certain things that your company needs to consider:


 1. Start with the basics 


You want a healthy team that won’t undergo personal financial strain and you can accomplish this by providing health insurance and disability insurance. Once your business becomes financially stable, you can then add retirement contributions, gym memberships, catered lunches and the like.


 2. Arrange for a solid group health-insurance plan to keep costs down


Often, new employees may be relatively young and healthy. For them, a bronze- or silver-level plan is appropriate (usually premiums will run $200 to $300 per employee per month). Find a plan that makes people stick to a network (an HMO or EPO), which will help keep your costs down.


 3. Disability insurance is important to many employees


Employees, particularly those with families are concerned about the possibility of not being able to provide for them. You can offer short-term and long-term disability insurance, which pays a cash benefit if an employee is unable to work as a result of injury or illness.


Connecticut group benefits can be vital to employee retention. Speak to a reputable agent today about any concerns or questions.


photo credit: USDAgov cc

Safety, Concerns and Insurance for Auto Repair Shops

Insurance for Auto Repair Shops

Because many garage owners are in the business of auto body repair, they require a specific insurance program to effectively address the unique risks and exposures their businesses face on a daily basis. The automotive repair and maintenance industry employs more than 1.3 million U.S. workers and it involves a number of serious health risks, along with the threat of bodily injury to workers and customers.


Insurance for auto repair shops can help reduce liability concerns in a number of areas, but some safety measures can reduce many issues. Owners can take the following actions to stem the likelihood of accidents:

  • Train workers to identify chemical, fire, noise, safety and environmental concerns


  • Switch to safer products, such as water-based cleaners, whenever possible


  • Inspect all tools and equipment regularly


  • Ask workers to report hazards immediately


  • Require workers to report symptoms of illness immediately


  • Wear masks to protect against cancer and lung disease from asbestos


  • Wear protective gloves and other protective equipment when working with solvents and other hazardous materials, and


  • Clean up spills promptly


By instigating safety training on these issues an owner can reduce the odds of workers comp claims, and also protect the business from damage or the threat of lawsuits. In addition to workers comp insurance, available coverages are designed to fit many needs and may include:


  1. Garagekeepers Coverage – Provides physical damage coverage for customers’ vehicles. Available coverage options are; a) that which pays only for damages the owner is legally liable for, or b) coverage that pays for damages to a customers’ vehicle regardless of any legal liability.
  2. Garage Liability Coverage – Provides liability coverage for accidents arising from garage operations resulting in bodily injury, property damage, and personal or advertising injury.
  3. Building and Business Personal Property – Provides coverage for buildings and personal business property, such as tools and computers.
  4. Business Income and Extra Expense – Provides coverage for actual loss of business income if operations cease due to a covered loss and extra expenses incurred due to the loss.
  5. Important Business Documentation Coverage – Coverage for accounts receivable, electronic data and valuable papers could help repair, replace or restore lost electronic and printed business records.
  6. Crime and Fidelity Coverage – Protects the business from loss of money, securities or inventory resulting from acts committed by employees and non-employees. This covers activities such as employee dishonesty, embezzlement, forgery, robbery and burglary.


Insurance for auto repair shops is a valuable coverage that provides much needed protection. Speak to an agent about any questions or concerns.


photo credit: misha maslennikov cc

Why Commercial Real Estate Investments are a Good Idea

New York Real Estate

The United States is still bouncing back from the recent recession, which is enough to make you hesitant about investing money anywhere that is not necessary to maintaining a good quality of life. However, because of the recent growth in the commercial real estate industry, now might be the best time to bite the bullet and make that investment. Just make sure you protect the property you purchase with Real Estate Insurance.


Currently, for examples, hotels seem to be the best investment in the New York real estate commercial sector. Because hotels, both full service hotels and limited service hotels, such as a Courtyard by Marriott generally, benefit the most from a stronger economy, now seems to be the ideal time to invest in them as the economy is just now beginning to fully recover to pre-recession levels.


In fact, in April of this year, hotel sales increased 27% from earlier in the year, making them a solid investment and outpacing the growth in another area of the commercial real estate sector, multifamily apartments, which are typically seen as the best investment in commercial real estate.


Even office spaces would be a solid investment choice for you as long as you protect your assets with New York real estate insurance. Many companies are moving away from the traditional office space in order to accommodate the amenities that the Millennials who are now joining the work force prefer. As more companies update their offices to reflect these preferences, the potential for return on an investment can only grow.


Despite still trying to recover fully from hard economic times, it is important to think of the best long-term financial decisions. It is entirely possible that the best choice for you is to look into acquiring some commercial real estate and New York real estate insurance to help achieve those long-term goals.


photo credit: eastmidtown cc

Implementing Sound Risk Management for Assisted Living Nurses

Elderly People Hanging Out

The issues of liability when it comes to providing assisted living care for the elderly is certainly a topic for discussion. Tops among those concerns for many facilities are the daily issue of the preventing of falls, which could lead to other, very serious injuries. This outlines the need for risk management for assisted living nurses who spend a large amount of their day caring for, and facilitating many of their elderly residents.


The prevention of falls is a serious concern


Because quite often, many of those in assisted living facilities are prone to falling, and being injured as a result, it is crucial to determine ways to diminish the potential for falls. Implementing a program specific to this need, and evaluating the results are all crucial in determining an effective way to minimize injuries of those residents likely to experience a fall.


Reducing risks with sound recruiting procedures


Checking references, and using background checks is important to recruiting procedures as it can help in ensuring that only the highest quality aides from reputable sources are hired, and that their previous behavior in a similar work environment was acceptable. Owners and operators should also routinely check on the quality of care being provided from time to time.


Ensuring the health of the staff is equally important


All staff should be routinely tested for contagious illnesses, especially nurses who regularly come into contact with residents, because many residents in assisted living communities have compromised immune systems and could easily catch a contagious disease. Implement a strictly adhered to policy regarding the testing of employees of the facility that will help to prevent the passage of any illness to residents.


Conducting exit interviews helps to document any issues


When employees (or patients) leave, or are removed from the establishment, it is necessary to do an interview in order to garner information in writing that may be used later if a legal case is pursued against the facility for any reason. Unhappy former employees or former residents can significantly damage a facility’s reputation. Discharge and exit interviews help to minimize that risk.


There are other risk management concerns for nurses, aides and caregivers, such as food contamination, and dispensing of medication, to name just two. Residents are prone to becoming ill or injured in a number of ways, and the costs can be devastating without the proper procedures in place. Risk management for assisted living nurses should be the cornerstone of any proper insurance program.


photo credit: @notnixon cc

Cyber Concerns and Professional Liability Risk Advisors

Hacker on Laptop

Real estate agents have to be concerned with cyber crime threats, due in large part to the new technology being placed into homes to make life easier and more convenient for homeowners. If a person can control their alarm system, door locks, thermostat and other products in their homes via their smartphone, how long would it take a hacker to figure out how to accomplish this as well? Professional liability risk advisors want real estate agents to be aware of these exposures and may provide coverage for any potentially damaging lawsuits resulting from such a breach.


Japanese-manufactured LIXIL has created a smart toilet, Satis, which is extremely expensive (as much as about $6,000), and not readily available in the U.S. Researchers at the security firm Trustwave reverse-engineered an Android app for the Bluetooth-controlled Satis. It probably won’t be long before U.S. residents can also have access to this type of technology. While the question remains why on earth anyone would ever want to connect a toilet to the Internet for the purpose of recording a “toilet diary,” even more disconcerting is why a person would want to hack a smart toilet.


There are people out there that have made it there job to prove that they can gain access to practically anything that is controlled or accessible via a computer. It is there way of showing that it’s vulnerable and it helps those in the business of halting cyber crimes to understand these new security risks associated with smart devices connected to the web.


Advantages of hacking a Satis smart toilet


An attacker targeting this device could simply download the “My Satis” application and use it to cause the toilet to flush repeatedly; raising water usage and along with it utility costs to its owner. Attackers could also cause the unit to open and close the lid repeatedly, activate bidet or air-dry functions, all causing extreme discomfort or distress to the owner.


While this may be viewed as nothing more than a prank, it does raise the question of what other security risks might exist if an attacker could easily access other items inside the home. The point here is that cyber threats are a real concern, both as a privacy issue, and also the threat of financial losses. Professional liability risk advisors can help real estate agents address these important coverage issues.


photo credit: Ian Sane cc

Insurance Agency Can Control Their Destiny Through Captives

Insurance Agent Doing Paperwork

Agents and brokers, many of whom are looking to increase control over their own destiny, are entering alternative markets through the establishment of captive solutions. This involves risk sharing that provides opportunity for the agent/broker to recapture lost income from the decreased commission income, along with the reduced contingency income resulting from the company’s reserve strengthening.


Today, much of the captive market is centered on middle market accounts. As a result, creative approaches such as group and association captives have begun to flourish, as have rent-a-captives where multiple owners are involved in the process.


Another type of captive that has been introduced since the original concept is the agency captive, which allows for establishing a long-term profitable relationship with organizations familiar with the alternative market. Through the use of a captive a producer can establish a fully owned captive or utilize the services of an existing captive (rent-a-captive).


From an operational expense perspective, owning a captive can be more efficient; however, this may require greater capitalization than using a rent-a-captive. The agency owned captive versus the rent-a-captive option should be explored on an individual basis, as buyers have normally formed captives only after a thorough analysis of individual circumstances was complete.


How captives work to the benefit of the members


Agency captives are not designed to provide insurance for their owners. Instead, they benefit the insurer, agent, or broker that owns the company. Agents and brokers are often compelled to form captives to provide markets for their clients when the insurance market is in a “hard cycle.” In any case, an individual producer or a group of agent/producers, which band together for the basis of pooling a portion of their business, can better utilize a captive.


The agent/broker acts as a reinsurer through the establishment of an agency captive (or purchases an interest in an agency rent-a-captive). Ownership in the captive can include producers, sub-producers and insureds. Another emerging alternative in the marketplace is the group agency captive. When further economies of scale are desirable, small groups of agents with significant books of business, whether homogeneous or heterogeneous, may pool their resources to form such a captive.


The captive is created so that agents/brokers can participate in the underwriting income and investment profits generated by their book of business. When the agent/broker has an ownership interest in the agency captive, this often results in an extremely profitable book of business with better risk characteristics.


photo credit: Profound Whatever cc