You Need Employee Benefits Liability Coverage

Let’s be honest – we all make mistakes. However, depending on your responsibilities, some mistakes are more costly than others. If you are the human resource manager for your company (or even just acting as such, as many companies do not have dedicated HR managers), an honest mistake can become an unbearable financial burden for your company.

The challenges of running a business are plentiful, and with the government changing regulations at a challenging pace, keeping up with employee benefits is a difficult task. How can your business cover itself from the risks associated with an everyday mistake? You can hedge your bets with employee benefits liability insurance.

For example, say you forget to add an employee to your company’s group health insurance plan in a timely fashion. It isn’t a huge blunder, but what if that employee gets into a car accident during the morning commute to the office and then finds out that he or she is not covered by the company health insurance plan? That employee is within his or her rights to turn around and sue the company for coverage of their medical bills.

While the cost of covering medical bills for an uninsured employee can be astronomical, the cost of adding employee benefits liability insurance to your existing plan is really quite low. Contact your insurance agent today to make sure you are covered from an honest mistake.

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You Need Employee Dishonesty Coverage

We would all like to believe that when employees sign the company handbook they are promising to fully respect the property, values and private business information of an organization. Though a majority of the time employers have a good eye for hiring the ideal employees, it’s still best to protect yourself against the worst of situations, just in case. With employee dishonesty coverage, organizations can implement a system that protects the company and private business assets.

What exactly does an employee dishonesty policy cover?

From confidential records to proprietary business information, employee dishonesty coverage insures the protection of the company from dishonest acts of its employees to safeguard the company against financial loss. With reports from The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), internal fraud and embezzlement cases have increased, and businesses are experiencing approximately six percent of total annual revenue loss. Implementing an employee dishonesty policy protects employers from the unfortunate reality of dishonesty in the work place. This coverage, however, does not relieve the employer from their due diligence to have good judgment when hiring new employees and maintaining checks and balances in the work place to deter such events from ever happening.

It is hard to imagine that fraud could come directly from your employees, but the truth is that it occurs and can be a costly damage for companies without insurance protection. Guard your company by implementing controls – detailed job applicant screenings, regular inventory evaluations, effective property management, frequent password modifications and limited access to private company matters will put protection in place to shield your organization from internal corruption.

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Weddings, Vacation and Event Insurance

Insurance is purchased constantly for one specific reason – to protect individuals, property and investments from unexpected or unfortunate occurrences. Though we would like to believe that when we are hosting an event or celebration, or planning a wedding, we could avoid unforeseen disasters, it’s simply not reality. With upfront fees, deposits and countless expenses accumulating, insurance coverage should be considered as a means for additional protection.

When would event insurance be applied?

It’s the horror stories that no one wants to become reality. Whether it’s the inability to attend events due to unanticipated weather destruction, sudden hospital admittance of the bride or groom, event reschedules caused by postponed construction or vendor cancellations – insurance protection can allow affected parties to recoup lost finances.

Depending on the occasion and budget, event insurance costs can range from minimal to all-inclusive for appropriate protection. If you’re looking to apply event insurance, start by evaluating the inclusions of general liability, liquor liability, cancellation and third party damages, as these will most likely cover all basic needs.

Protect yourself against the “worst case scenarios.” When the unexpected happens, insurance coverage won’t alleviate the stress and frustration, but will at least protect the investments of your expensive undertakings.

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Meritless Claims Can Still Hurt You

Most every business owner will tell you that they know the possibility of a sexual harassment allegation or employment discrimination claim against their business is out there. However, most would also tell you that they don’t think such exposures really exist in their business – it is, after all, a small business where everyone knows each other, right?

The Problem:  Not only can a business be exposed to a frivolous claim without merit, but also many business owners do not realize they are not protected from claims related to Employment Related Practice Liability.

Some of these claims include:

  • Gender, age and other types of discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Wrongful termination or discipline
  • Negligent compensation
  • Promotion or hiring decisions
  • Breach of employment contract
  • Emotional distress/mental anguish
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Libel/slander

Defending your business against allegations of any of the above errors can be very expensive, regardless of the merits of the claim. If business owners are found to be in the wrong, the accuser may be awarded a sum significant enough to put you out of business. Fully understanding the extent to which an error in your company’s Employment Related Practices policies affect your bottom line leads to placing emphasis on protecting your business.

Most states, including North Carolina, are “employment at will” states. This means that employers can let staff members go without documented reason. Many employers, however, feel that this law protects them from wrongful termination lawsuits. This is not true. Even though your business may be employment at will, it can still be damaged by a wrongful termination suit.

The Solution: Work with your insurance professional to learn about the various Employment Practices Liability insurance products that are available to you to protect your business against such exposures. Generally speaking, the trigger for an Employment Related Practices Liability policy is an allegation. As soon as an allegation is made, notify your agent so that they can be involved with all communications between the parties. Getting involved as early as possible can help mitigate many claims to keep them from becoming full-scale lawsuits. Beyond that, there are many loss-control services that help put systems in place and train employees to avoid errors in the first place.

Our advisors at SIA are focused on providing our clients with the most comprehensive program available, including protecting them against Employment Related Practices Liability claims.

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Out of State Workers

These economic times are trying for workers in every industry – especially construction. Contractors have to find work wherever they can. Oftentimes this means leaving their hometowns to travel out of state to obtain contracts. The problem is when contractors cross state lines, gaps in their insurance policies may surface.

Every state has its own statutory laws regarding benefits to injured workers and specific requirements for required coverages. Leaving your home state, you may enter a state with laws different from the ones that dictated your policy. In some states, sections require that you list specific states on your compensation policy to avoid being fined for noncompliance. These fees can amount to hundreds of dollars.

So, how can you avoid these gaps in coverage and the penalties associated with noncompliance? Before you enter into any contract out of state, discuss the coverage that you currently have with your insurance agent. Understanding the availability of your insurance carrier to provide coverage out of state will help to reduce the aforementioned gaps.

Remember that agents review your policy on a quarterly basis, and these intervals are good times to discuss possible changes in your travel schedule and home address as well as coverages provided by national versus regional insurance carriers.

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Avoiding OSHA Fines and Penalties

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied its largest fine in history against BP North America – to the tune of $87 million.

As an employer, it is critical to know what your responsibilities are before an accident or other event occurs. As trusted advisors, it is the goal of the independent agents at SIA Group to assist you in taking a proactive role in preventing these accidents.

Taking measures prior to a situation can make a large difference in reducing or eliminating OSHA fines and penalties. First, employers must know where their responsibilities lie. Employers have certain responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

These responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing a workplace that is free from serious recognized hazards and that complies with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSHA Act.
  • Examining the workplace conditions to ensure they conform to applicable OSHA standards.
  • Posting, at a prominent location within the workplace, the OSHA poster (or the state-plan equivalent) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Keeping records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Reporting to the nearest OSHA office within eight hours of any fatal accidents, or an accident that results in the hospitalization of three or more employees.

In addition to these responsibilities, OSHA has provided a list of the 10 most frequently cited standards that cause employers to incur fines and penalties. These standards are the cause of far too many preventable injuries, illnesses and deaths. They include:

Contact us today to see how the trusted advisors at SIA Group can help you proactively ensure the safety of your company and employees.

Back to the Tennis Match

So where are we on health care reform?

“I know I heard something about it in the news the other day, right?”

It seems that keeping up with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is like watching a big tennis match.

So far in 2011, on Jan. 19, in the first big vote of the new House of Representatives, the Republican majority voted to repeal health care reform. They were successful by a vote of 245 to 189 – thus fulfilling many of the campaign promises of the incoming representatives. Score: 15-Love.

On Jan. 31, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida issued a summary judgment declaring the PPACA to be unconstitutional. This was the case in which governors and attorney generals from 22 states joined Florida, claiming that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. Shortly thereafter, Florida and Alaska stated that they would halt implementation of the new law. Score: 30-Love.

On Feb. 2, the U.S. Senate took up the vote to repeal health care reform. They rejected the amendment to repeal by a 51-47 straight down party lines, with independents siding for the Democrats. Score: 30-15.

On Feb. 23, Senior Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the health care reform law, stating Congress was acting within the bounds of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution when they passed the law. Score: 30-all.

Enough already! The sad truth is that it is not over yet, and I believe we will keep seeing this back and forth for some time. Just how long exactly? Well, one of two things has to happen.

First would be a vote in the House and Senate to repeal the legislation, and the President would have to sign the bill. That will not happen until 2012, when the elections might shift the power in the Senate and most likely require a Republican president. The other thing that could create a match point would be for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case and make a ruling on the constitutionality of health care reform.

Although we are sure they will take the case sometime, it could take years. The court could be waiting to see how more of the cases standing in the lower courts fall before they decide to make their own decision. And knowing the big issues don’t take place until 2014, they have some time.

So, once again it is the law of the land and we must comply. We will do our best to keep you informed and compliant. Please feel free to visit our Health Care Reform Toolbox (http://www.siahcrtoolbox.viprespond.com). You will find all the model notices and employee communication pieces to help you stay in the game.

Until next time, the score is 30-all, and we will keep an eye on the game and let you know how it turns out.

Photo source: Qrodo Photos