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Due to the impact of COVID-19, the US Postal Service is experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability. As a result, important insurance documents, including bills and payments by check could be delayed. Mail delays have resulted in the cancellation or non-renewal of insurance policies for non-payment. This can happen because bills are not being delivered in a timely manner and vice versa for the payments. Most of the time insurance agency are willing to work with clients to address the late payment resulting from the mail delays. Below are a few steps you are able to take to protect yourself.
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Written by: Jimmy Norton, CPCU
Employees or independent contractors? This question has confounded employers, accountants, tax collectors and regulators for years. Each option offers benefits and challenges. Companies often classify their workers as independent contractors (1099s) to avoid the added expense of payroll taxes, employee benefits, unemployment, and additional insurance costs. Unfortunately, the paper classification frequently does not describe the true relationship.
This past year, several states and the Federal Government took steps to clarify the distinction between the two worker categories. Regulators want to capture lost tax revenue and help workers regain entitlements lost due to misclassification by employers
Virginia passed two laws in 2020:
Who determines whom is what?
The Virginia laws use the IRS test to determine the correct classification.
According to the IRS, “The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done.”
Alternately, they use the common law definition of employee as anyone performing services for you “if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. This is so even when you give the employee freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.”
The degree of control and independence can vary and create a huge gray area. Businesses must weigh several factors which the IRS organizes into 3 categories:
Washington DC uses the following:
The ordinary rules of common law relative to "master and servant" apply in defining employers and employees. In determining who is an employee and who is an independent contractor, the Department of Employment Services considers the following:
Maryland’s Department of Labor uses similar standards to determine the difference between employee and independent contractor. Their definition specifically cites the “right to discharge” as a distinguishing factor of the employer-employee relationship.
The Department of Labor is also trying to “simplify” matters with its own updated Final Rule on Independent Contractor Status under the Fair Labor Standards Act , announced on January 6, 2021. This rule is currently under review with a proposed effective date of May 7, 2021.
The DOL rule relies on the core factors of 1) degree of employer’s control over the work and 2) the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss. If those two factors don’t agree on the same classification, the Rule lays three additional factors:
Is there an insurance implication? We will delve into that in our next post. For now, take time to review the relationship with your workers. Using the definitions above, how would you classify them?
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The Federal Government is taking Covid-19 protections seriously and holding companies accountable for the safety of their employees. They have issued citations from around 255 inspections that they carried out. The penalties from those inspections were totaling $3,403,139. We at Brock-Norton wanted to pass this info along to keep you informed.
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Congress has recently passed the COVID Relief Bill which extends portions of the CARES Act that was passed in March. As part of the relief for small businesses, a second draw option for PPP loans may be available to you. Many are still combing through the full text of legislation to provide clarity on the bill. We at Brock-Norton understand these changes may impact your business and are working to provide resources as they are made available. For a concise breakdown of the COVID relief bill, please click on the link below to read the FAQs from the United States Chamber of Commerce.
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How US courts are addressing COVID-19 claims
Over the past few months, insurance carriers have asserted that the virus exclusion and the definition of “direct physical loss” were the determining factors for throwing out thousands of business interruption cases due to Government sanctioned COVID-19 closures. But as Wakefern Food Corp v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. demonstrated, loss of physical functionality and use does constitute a covered loss. So, what does this new precedent mean for the other 1200+ cases making their way through the US court system?
Both the plaintiffs and the defendants in these cases are relying on precedence to sway the court to rule in their favor. But, as insurance contracts are contracts of adhesion, any ambiguity in the language is in favor of the party that did not write the terms, i.e. the business owners. The implication is then, hundreds of thousands of denied claims may be reversed. As this was never the intention of the business interruption endorsement on the policy, what are the consequences for the insurance industry in total?
Click below to look at the article below from PropertyCasualty360 that breaks down the case findings in the context of the policy language.
Want to learn more? Check out our blog page at www.brocknorton.com
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COVID-19 continues to affect us all. Here are Brock-Norton we are committed to keeping our clients abreast of any updates or resources that we can provide during this challenging time. As you are aware, the outbreak of COVID-19 has placed considerable stress not only on individuals and families but the business community as well. We know many are concerned about cash-flow and future revenue. If your business has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, here are a few things we can do to help:
We understand that these are unprecedented times and require unprecedented solutions. We hope that you will look for opportunities to stay positive and spread love and joy wherever and whenever possible. If you can stay quarantined, please do so out of consideration for healthcare workers and those with compromised immune systems. We will continue to provide resources as they become available.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if we can be of further assistance. We appreciate your time and look forward to continuing to be of service.
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By; Marie White
Travel Smarts for Your Money and Identity
Thieves love tourists. It’s nothing personal. They’re just looking for an easy target – someone who’s carrying cash and credit cards, tablets and cameras, passports and other identification, all while being distracted by the new sights and sounds all around them.
So how do you take it all in without allowing a thief to take off with your money, identity and other valuables? These five travel tips should help:
Remember, travel is supposed to be fun! Taking just a few common sense precautions will help make sure you’re free to wander without worry.
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By Jimmy Norton, CPCU
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all in dramatic ways. Companies have closed their doors or reduced operations out of public health concerns. Employees were furloughed or laid off until businesses could operate safely. Fortunately, disaster assistance programs like the PPP helped employers keep people on the payroll during the pandemic.
If you carry a Workers’ Compensation policy, you will soon face your annual audit. The Insurance Auditor will want to see your actual payroll records for the policy term. Here are a few important things to remember if you paid employees to stay home or perform different duties.
Workers’ Compensation policy premiums are based on gross payroll assigned to different classifications based on the type of work performed. Each classification carries a different rate based on the hazards associated with it. How do you classify an employee who sits home while on a paid furlough from work? Ratemakers in the insurance industry feel they have an answer to this question. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) announced that payroll for paid furloughed employees can be classified under a special code – 0012. This rule was put in place effective 3/1/20 and will run until 12/31/20. This expiration may be extended depending on the circumstances.
In addition to furloughs, many companies have had to dramatically alter their operations due COVID. If employees were placed in new roles during this time, then companies may be able to reclassify them into different categories. For example, a salesperson moved from outside sales to inside sales while quarantining at home. Chesapeake Employers Insurance provides other examples:
EXAMPLE: A retail store that remains open for delivery of goods but closes the showroom to consumers. Several of the retail showroom employees work from home to assist with phone orders, customer service calls, and related clerical paperwork. These employees may be reassigned to Code 8871—Clerical Telecommuter Employees. In addition, this same employer has other showroom employees delivering goods to customers. These employees would be reassigned to Code 7380—Drivers, Chauffeurs, Messengers, and Their Helpers NOC—Commercial while they are in their new role as delivery drivers. In both situations, the employees’ original job descriptions were included in the applicable store code, but their new job descriptions place them in a new code. Once the employees return to their former roles after the pandemic has passed, their payroll would return to the store code that was assigned before the employer closed the showroom.
In many cases, employees performing more hazardous work will be assigned to less hazardous work due to a change in the company operations. This means that employee’s payroll will go from a higher Work Comp rate to a lower Work Comp rate.
It will be important to notify Insurance Auditors about changes in employee duties as well as paid employees who stayed home on furlough. Auditors WILL REQUIRE that companies maintain separate payroll records, so make sure to start tracking this now. It will be much easier to track the changes now than to have to look back and recalculate at audit time. As with any audit, if separate payroll records are not maintained, then employee payroll is assigned to the highest rated applicable classification.
Good luck and please contact us here at Brock-Norton if you have any questions.
For more information on NCCI’s changes, you can visit their COVID-19 page here: https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/Insights-Coronavirus-FAQs.aspx
Brock-Norton’s website has other COVID-19 information and resources, too. http://www.brocknorton.com/covid-19.html
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Businesses all over the Washington Metropolitan area preparing to re-open and we want to make sure you are ready. Brock-Norton has created a “Re-Opening” Handbook to help you plan and manage re-opening in accordance to State and CDC Guidelines for the safety and well being of your employees and customers alike. This handbook contains provisions on cleaning, social-distancing and state specific information (MD, DC and VA) to help you get back to business. For additional information and resources, please visit our “COVID-19 Resource Page” on www.brocknorton.com.
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Written by: Venee Galloway, SBCS, CLCS, CBIA
With the COVID-19 epidemic sweeping across the globe, more and more businesses are using technology to carryout tasks. Aside from the increased use of web conferencing platforms and online adherence software, everyone is seeing an uptick in emails. Inboxes are now inundated with messages from vendors, clients and colleagues all sharing COVID-19 related information to help sustain your business during this time.
Unfortunately, hackers are taking advantage of the situation. There have been marked increases in the number of cyber attacks on US businesses. According to Evolve, a leading Cyber Liability managing general agent (MGA), over 4000 fraudulent domains containing the words “COVID and/or Corona” have been registered. These domains are, without a doubt, going to be used to execute phishing and ransomware attacks by posing as recognizable businesses and organizations.
On March 15, 2020 the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack had been leveled against their website. In Italy, the same type of attack took down their Social Security website preventing citizens from applying for their €600 relief payments. Now that we are aware of the increased potential for a breach, we want to help you to protect your systems and data from unauthorized capture.
Multi Factor Authentication – If you are not using MFA to secure your logins, then there is no time like the present. MFA adds an additional step to ensure that only authorized users are logging into your systems and applications. Many banks and social media sites have already implemented MFA, and we recommend doing the same wherever and whenever possible. Typically, once you have logged into an application with MFA, you will receive a text or email to a separate account with a validation code. That code is then entered into the application to confirm and grant access
Phishing – Phishing is a way for hackers to infiltrate a network with fraudulent emails or text messages that appear to come from legitimate users. For example, you may get an email that appears to come from within your organization or from an existing vendor. Always be sure to trust your instincts. If something looks off, then it probably is. Before opening any attachments, always verify the sender by clicking their name to view the full email address. See the example below provided by FTC.gov:
This email looks legitimate at first glance, but, upon closer inspection, you will notice several things are off. Bad grammar and misspellings are often prevalent in Phishing emails or texts. Check to see if your name is missing or a generic greeting is used. Usually if you have an account, your name and account details will be included. In the example above, the scammer used the greeting, “Hi Dear” which should immediately tip off the receiver. Also pay attention to the contact listed, does it contains an email address suffix that is not common (.in, .com.co, etc.) or a phone number that is international? If so, chances are it is designed to be a scam. When in doubt, call and verify if the correspondence is legitimate using a number you have used previously or one located on the legitimate website.
Be Proactive – The best way to prevent a cyber attack is to be proactive. Make sure you change your passwords often and keep your system, antivirus and malware detection software up to date. If you receive a suspicious email, reach out to the sender to verify their identity BEFORE clicking on any links or attachments. Purchase a cyber liability policy and speak to your Agent about other cyber-crime coverages that may help you restore your service faster in the event of a breach.
Although some criminals are always looking to capitalize in a crisis current situation, we want you to know there are countless others who want to help. For more information on phishing and how to protect yourself from email scams, please review the link below from the Federal Trade Commission on “How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams”: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams
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Written By: Jimmy Norton, CPCU
I've been studying insurance industry articles on how different policies may respond to Coronavirus-related claims. Naturally, coverage for any claim depends upon the specific circumstances. Please don't interpret this article as proof positive of any insurance protection. These are just my thoughts as I study this topic.
LOSS OF REVENUE
Fear of infection may keep people at home. If people aren't going out to meet, eat, shop and exercise, then revenue will decrease. The insurance industry treats this as a business risk and cannot provide coverage against this financial loss. Insurance policies require that there be some physical damage or Government mandate to trigger coverage.
Business Interruption insurance covers loss of net income and continuing operating expenses if your business cannot operate after a loss. This coverage requires that there be a direct, physical loss at your premises - or at the premises of a business on which your company revenue depends. The presence of an infectious disease may not be considered direct, physical damage and therefore not trigger the Business Interruption coverage.
Moreover, many Property policies contain exclusions for viruses and bacteria, so these will prevent coverage for most Coronavirus-related Interruption claims.
A company may not suffer a direct physical loss, but its income can be affected if public access is restricted due to the mandate of a Civil Authority. There is an insurance coverage that applies to this - aptly named "Business Income due to Civil Authority." It requires that access to your premises be specifically prohibited by order of a civil authority "as the direct result of a Covered Cause of Loss to property in the immediate area" of your premises. If the Government states that people cannot go to certain establishments or areas, then it's possible that this coverage could apply. Again, the Coronavirus infection trigger would have to meet your policy definition of "covered cause of loss." If your policy has a virus exclusion, then it may apply here, too.
What if my employees get Coronavirus while at work? State Work Comp Commissions may have to decide the answer to this question. If an employee files a Work Comp claim for Coronavirus, they would need to show that illness "arose out of and was in the course and scope of the employment" and "caused by conditions peculiar" to the work. In a public health situation, it might be difficult to prove that the employee's exposure to Covid-19 was peculiar to their employment for your company - unless you are in a healthcare-related industry. In the event of such a claim, your Work Comp carrier would investigate and either grant benefits or issue a denial based on the Work Comp laws of your state.
Here is a great article about this topic if you'd like to read a little more about it.
How could your company be sued as a result of a Coronavirus infection? Would General Liability provide coverage if someone alleges that they were infected at my business? Such a claim might be difficult to prove due to the very public nature of this virus. However, people have sued for worse reasons. General Liability policies respond to bodily injury or illness claims. Many GL policies contain an exclusion for communicable diseases that would prevent coverage for such a claim. Check your policy or ask your Agent if yours includes such an exclusion.
Fear of the disease may bring claims of discrimination or harassment by individuals who were denied services from your business. Employees with a cough may be ostracized or sent home out of fear of infecting the rest of the office. Asian-Americans have been victimized by racist and discriminatory attacks.
Allegations of discrimination and harassment are covered under an Employment Practices Liability policy. We have a blog post on this coverage. Click here for further reading.
Beware of emails purporting to be from the World Health Organization (WHO) or other agencies asking for sensitive information or directing you to websites with important virus information. These emails may contain attachments or links for "important updates." Hackers are taking advantage of public concern over Coronavirus. The links and attachments may release ransomware onto your computer.
The WHO issued a warning about this on their website.
Their warning states:
The World Health Organization will:
Beware that criminals use email, websites, phone calls, text messages, and even fax messages for their scams.
You can verify if communication is legit by contacting WHO directly.
Report a scam
A Cyber Liability policy that includes coverage for Cyber Extortion will respond to claims from a ransomware attack. Check your policy or ask your Agent about including the coverage in your policy.
MAKE PLANS NOW, DON'T RELY ON INSURANCE
The best way to prevent or minimize a loss is to plan ahead. As you've seen in my comments above, you may not be able to rely on an insurance policy to repay you for a Coronavirus-related loss. Risk Management will be your best defense. The CDC has a web page that provides guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to this disease. This is a good place to start.
If you send your employees on travel, be sure to check the CDC's Travelers' Health page first.
We'll be sure to update you as we learn more about this issue. If you have any questions, please contact us here at Brock-Norton Insurance.
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"Insurance audits are the best!" said no one ever. As an Insurance Agent, I realize this fact of life and have dedicated myself to improving the audit experience from "wretched" to just "mildly annoying."
Workers' Compensation policy premiums are based on "remuneration" (explained below). You pay your initial premium based on an estimate for the upcoming year. Once the policy expires, the insurance company sends an Auditor to total the actual numbers for the period. The insurance company then adjusts the premium based on the actual numbers vs the estimate. If the actuals are higher, they send you a bill. If the actuals are lower, you get a credit or a refund.
General Liability (GL) policies are also based on estimated exposures including payroll, gross sales and subcontracted costs. Other types of policies can be audited as well. This discussion focuses mainly on Work Comp.
The best approach to an audit is prepare, prepare, prepare! Auditors are people, too. They don't want to sit there for a prolonged interview any more than you do. They are often juggling busy schedules and need to get to their next appointments. The more homework you do in advance; the shorter and sweeter the audit experience will be. I promise!
Your Auditor will send a letter asking for specific reports, including:
TIP: Respond to the audit request! If they don't hear back from you, they will return the audit as NONCOMPLIANT. Insurance companies assess Audit Noncompliance Charges, which can be flat fees or a multiplying factor of the policy payroll. Essentially, they double your premium and send you the bill.
Many factors go into that final audit number. Here's a few to keep in mind:
Policy premiums are not based just on gross pay. Remuneration also includes bonuses, overtime, commissions, sick pay and vacation pay. Include those numbers in your payroll summaries.
TIP: Separate Overtime! When summarizing total remuneration for the Auditor, be sure to break out Overtime. Auditors reduce the Overtime number back down to straight pay for the audit. If you lump OT in with the rest of the payroll figures, then you won't receive the benefit of that deduction. They need to see a record of it, however. They won't just take it on faith.
On Work Comp and General Liability policies, employees are grouped into different class codes according to their duties. Each class code carries a different rate based on the history of claims paid for that work. Familiarize yourself with the class codes used in your industry. Summarize your employees & payroll by class code in advance. Auditors check to make sure that employees are classified correctly. They will ask you to describe their duties, and they WILL make changes based on the info that you give them. Those changes could result in a huge audit bill. If you've summarized the employees by duties in advance, then it will help to reduce the questioning.
TIP: Document hours worked for different jobs! Employees' work is often a mix between high hazard and low hazard. Insurance companies will lump all of the payroll into the highest hazard code. Some class codes do allow for a split between individual employees or crews. Make sure you can document the hours worked on the high hazard vs the low hazard. Auditors will not split anything without documentation to back it up.
If you use subcontractors in your business, make sure they provide you with a Certificate of Insurance (COI) that shows Work Comp and General Liability insurance. If your Sub does not have their own coverage, then the insurance company will add their cost to your policy premium basis. Some Subs are individuals and often not legally required to carry Work Comp. That doesn't matter to the insurance company. That Sub could file a claim against your policy if they are injured while working for you. Insurance companies need to charge premium for that exposure.
Uninsured sub costs will create big audit bills for you. Uninsured sub claims will go on your policy record and affect your rates for years to come. Make them carry their own coverage, so their company will pay the claim - not yours.
Please refer to our Workers Compensation Audits youtube video for more information about this topic: Youtube.com/Insurance-in-an-instant
I'm just scratching the surface here, but hopefully this information will help you when the Auditor comes a-calling. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. Good luck!!
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Here at Brock-Norton Insurance Agency we all love our pets. Almost everyone in the office has a pet, and we would do anything to make sure our pets are happy and healthy. As pet owners, we know that costs for Veterinary visits can be unpredictable.*
There are many reasons for the bill for your pet’s exam to be expensive. Your bill can include charges for:
To go into some depth about the average costs of vet visits, most routine physical exams cost around $45 to $55. Most of the times those exams will include routine vaccinations. The average costs of those vaccinations per shot are between $15 and $28. Here are some additional costs for tests and services;
On average, the typical vet visit for dogs will cost between $200-$400 and $90-$200 for cats. If an illness is discovered, the costs increase. For example, if your dog’s heartworm test is positive, the treatment could cost between $400 and $1,000. Emergency treatment is another expense that can quickly add up and run up past $1,000.
(Source: Wellness Pet Food, https://www.wellnesspetfood.com/our-community/wellness-blog/average-cost-taking-your-pet-veterinarian).
Pet Insurance is an option to help control these costs. Safeco Insurance Company offers an affordable Pet Insurance policy.
From Safeco website (https://www.safeco.com/products/pet-health-insurance)
Coverage for Your Pets
Dig Deeper Into the Details
Call us or email us for more information. We'll be happy to run some quotes for you.
*Keep in mind that is it possible for the vest costs to vary greatly depending on where you live*
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The holidays are a time of joy but also a time of increased fire hazards. We have candles, family dinners, Christmas trees, Menorahs and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Brock-Norton wants to make sure everyone stays safe this holiday season. If a fire starts, be sure everyone knows how to use the extinguisher. Here are some key tips provided by Builders Mutual Insurance Company (www.bmico.com).
Be sure everyone on the job-site knows how to use a fire extinguisher. It’s easy to PASS the test!
· Pull the pin.
· Aim low at the base of the fire.
· Squeeze the handle slowly.
· Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
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This is unfortunately a common phrase, especially in some parts of the United States.
Every year, deer collisions take place all across the country and are more likely during the hours around dawn and dusk. They have increased in recent decades, thanks to a combination of growing deer populations, shrinking habitat, and increasing suburban development, all of which make the chances of hitting a deer even more likely.
No matter where or when you hit a deer, you may have questions about the best way to respond. Learn what you should do (and not do) if you strike a deer with your car.
1. Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Spot
After you hit a deer, find a safe spot by the side of the road and move your vehicle. Turn on your hazard lights so you're visible to other motorists, and be sure that you're out of the path of traffic from both directions. If it’s foggy with low visibility, leave your lights on, but don’t turn on your hazard lights while parked. Once you're safely parked, ensure that you or your passengers haven't sustained any injuries.
2. Call the Police
While it might be tempting to immediately jump out and check on the deer or see if there's damage to your car, resist the urge. Stay in the vehicle with flashers on while safely parked off the roadway. Call the police and let them know you've hit a deer. The 911 dispatcher will alert the proper law enforcement authorities to assist you. Be sure to let the dispatcher know if the deer is blocking traffic or poses a potential threat to other drivers. Remember, laws about accident reporting vary from state to state, so don't skip this important phone call.
3. Document the Situation
If you can safely leave the car, take pictures to document the scene. Snap photos of:
Damage to your car such as loose parts, leaking fluid, broken lights, or tire damage.
The roadway and surroundings (including the deer) where the accident took place.
Injuries sustained by yourself or your passengers.
If any witnesses are on the scene, get their contact information and document their impression of the incident.
4. Don't Touch the Deer
Don't attempt to move the deer. Deer are strong and even an injured deer can have a powerful kick. Wait for the police to arrive.
5. Call Your Insurance Agent
Once you've filled out the police report, give your local insurance agent a call. They'll explain your options and coverage.
When driving, keep in mind that deer tend to be most active around dawn and dusk during the fall, and drive with extra caution during these times.
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The health and safety of your employees should be one of your biggest concerns when they are working outside in this summer heat. There are many things you as an employer can do to help prevent any incidents caused by the heat. Listed below are a few ways you can keep your employees safe out in the heat.
• Provide access to water, rest and shade.
• Schedule jobs to allow for rest or rotation of your employees.
• Schedule more physically demanding tasks during cooler times of the day.
• Train your employees to recognize heat illness symptoms and take preventative measures throughout the work day.
• Require employees to wear breathable, light clothing.
• Create and maintain an emergency action plan for heat emergencies. Communicate the plan to your employees.
• Provide first-aid training to your employees for heat emergencies.
Learn more about heat safety and download OSHA’s Heat Safety Smartphone App at www.osha.gov/heat.
These tips are provided by OSHA and Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company, www.ceiwc.com.
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When your basement floods, the floor is the first thing that needs to be replaced. This is often the most expensive part of a water damage claim. When considering flooring, it’s best to have something that durable and waterproof. Any steps you can take to reduce the amount of a water claim will help protect your insurance rates in the long run.
Elite Flooring Gallery (www.eliteflooringgallery.com) in Chantilly, Virginia is a client of ours, and they recommend Luxury Vinyl Flooring for basements. It’s an affordable waterproof and moisture proof flooring option that has great warmth and texture underfoot. Luxury Vinyl Flooring comes in Luxury Vinyl Planks that look like hardwood and Luxury Vinyl Tile that looks like tile, natural stone and concrete. Both LVT and LVP are designed to hold up in spaces that may have moisture (such as basements, kitchens, and bathrooms).
Advantages of LVF over other types of floorings:
• More durable, holds up better to scratch
• Waterproof and moisture proof
• Costs less
• Warmer on feet
• Easier on feet
• Less noisy
• Won’t crack
• Easier to clean
Information © Elite Flooring Gallery
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Phony emails have been streaming into our inboxes for years. Why do we still get duped? Scammers have crafted new ways to get our attention. We will toss the email from the African Prince, but we jump on the message that comes from our bosses. How do the scammers do it?
Sometimes, they use your own email system against you.
In April, a large nonprofit lost $21,000 to a scammer posing as their Executive Director. They used the Director's email address to instruct staff to send payment via a doctored invoice with banking information. They took the bait and sent the money.
Sometimes, they hide in plain sight.
An Engineering firm received an email invoice from a scammer pretending to be one of their suppliers. The message said they had recently changed their billing procedures and now required that all payments be made via ACH. The email address included the Vendor company's name with a slight misspelling. No one caught it. The victim sent $21,000 to the bank account listed in the fraudulent email.
These scams go by many different names: phishing, whaling, social engineering, deception fraud. At their core, they involve trickery to entice the victim to send money via EFT.
How do I protect myself?
Call the sender to verify their identity. “Did you send this email asking me to pay $40,000 to Wayne Enterprises?” Instituting a Call-Back Verification system will stop 99% of these scams dead in their tracks.
Educate Yourself. The Department of Homeland Security has a good Security Tip that explains how to avoid scams as well as steps to take if you do get fooled again.
Am I insured?
Email fraud claims are often denied because policies include this exclusion (or one like it):
"We will not pay for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by...
Voluntary parting with any property by you or anyone else to whom you have entrusted the property if induced to do so by any fraudulent scheme, trick, device or false pretense."
Several insurance carriers have developed specialized endorsements to address this gap. There is no industry standard for this coverage, so the endorsements go by different names. Most companies call it Social Engineering Fraud. Others call it Deception Fraud. The forms define the loss as an intentional misleading by a person pretending to be a Vendor, Client, Employee through the use of communication (email).
Computer Fraud and Funds Transfer Fraud are separate coverages that SOUND like they would protect you from a deception loss. However, they require that the thief hack into the victim's account themselves rather than fooling the victim into sending the transfer.
We are always available to answer your questions and make sure you have the right protection. Reply to this email or call us at 703-631-4500 if you'd like more information about Cyber Crime insurance.
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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Virginia. Brock-Norton Insurance Agency encourages its employees, and all other drivers, to put down the phone and buckle-up.
Company officials say that Brock-Norton Insurance Agency will use Distracted Driving Awareness Month as an opportunity to remind motorists of the dangers of using a handheld phone while driving and other distracted driving behaviors.
“It’s not just texting and making phone calls,” said Jimmy Norton, CPCU ,Vice President. “Drivers are using apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat behind the wheel.”
Traffic safety researchers say using a smartphone while driving can be extremely dangerous because all three types of distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive – are involved.
Throughout April Brock-Norton Insurance Agency will remind employees that anything they do that diverts attention from the task of driving is potentially dangerous. Company officials say that occasional emails will be sent to employees reminding them that grooming, eating, adjusting the radio, etc. while driving are distractions that can contribute to a devastating crash.
“We want our employees to be safe on and off the job,” said Everett Brock, CPCU, President.
In 2017, 208 people were killed and more than 14,500 were injured in distraction-related traffic crashes in Virginia. At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. Please don’t be one of them.
Other distractions, like eating, applying makeup, adjusting the radio or air conditioning, can also be dangerous. Anything that draws your attention away from the task of driving is distracted driving and can cause a crash.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Virginia. Because it involves cognitive, manual, and visual distraction, fiddling with your phone while driving is extremely dangerous. We ask everyone to make a special effort to set the phone aside while driving.
Also, please buckle-up. It’s your best defense against an impaired, reckless, or distracted driver.
We want you and your family to be safe on the road.
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Snowy morning. BMW 4 series ($45,000) and Tesla Model S ($77,000) up ahead.
Do you have enough Liability coverage to protect you in case you hit one? or both?
What if someone is injured?
The state of Virginia requires all auto policies carry at least $25,000 for bodily injury and $20,000 for property damage.
What's on your policy?
Brock-Norton recommends limits of $100,000 / $300,000 / $100,000 or higher.
Talk to us about how you can improve your protection.
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A male Salesperson filed a discrimination claim against his employer when he learned about the compensation of his female counterparts. His complaint? The female Sales staff were being paid the same amount that he was. He felt his salary should be higher because he was a male. This really happened.
A plaintiff alleged his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his age and disability. He further alleged that he was terminated in retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim and for complaining about the discrimination. Travelers spent more than $175,000 defending the case and paid $142,000 in settlement costs. This really happened.
Employee harassment and discrimination claims affect all types of companies. The EEOC has reported double digit increases in the number of cases received each year. Legal costs to combat these claims can run $250,000 or more.
How is your company protected?
Employment Practices Liability Insurance will help your company defend itself against cases like these. The policies cover Discrimination, Harassment, and Wrongful Termination claims brought by employees, job applicants, volunteers and other outside parties.
Most EPL carriers also provide complimentary advice and feedback to help their policyholders strengthen procedures and navigate potentially sticky situations.
Travelers has a EPL site with tools to help companies better understand and manage their risk.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense. Institute company policies to prevent discrimination and harassment in your workplace. Add Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination policy wording to your employee handbooks. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Small Business Resource Center is a great place to start. It provides tips and best practices advice for employers.
We are always available to answer your questions and help find you the right protection. Reply to this email if you'd like more information about Employment Practices Liability coverage.
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Great article provided by Encompass Insurance...
Given their global and cultural impact, it seems a bit hard to believe that smartphones are still a young technology. Facebook and Twitter, for example, both predate the first versions of the iPhone.
In fewer than 10 years, smartphones have gone from
non-existent to essential. According to a report from Pew Research Center, nearly 80 percent of U.S. residents own smartphones — a number that rises to 92 percent for those under the age of 30.
Because smartphones are still relatively new, it's not always easy to ensure that the technology is being used in the safest manner possible. Take steps to help ensure that you (and your sensitive data) remain protected.
Safeguarding your information
Your smartphone is an extension of you — that's one of the reasons it can do so many important things. It contains a vast repository of information about you, your family and friends, your education level and work history, your financial transactions and much more. As a result, a smartphone is an inviting target for those who would like to steal your data.
A study conducted by Nokia showed that malware intrusions are becoming more common on smartphones, representing 60 percent of all “attacks” in the mobile space.
So how can you protect all your valuable data?
Here are a few tips:
By following these guidelines — and using up-to-date security applications - you can help ensure your sensitive information remains safe.
Take a break from your smartphone
When it comes to smartphone safety, data is only half of the equation. While business and life demands may make unplugging from our smartphones a virtual impossibility, it's also important to incorporate some downtime into your schedule. Constant screen time isn't the best outcome for anyone, so try to take a break whenever possible. Even a short walk or some brief stretching can help clear your mind and allow you to refocus.
Smartphones have become deeply integrated into the fabric of our lives. Because of this, it's important to use them safely.
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By: Marie White
A friend of mine asked me to read her nephews essay that he wrote for one of his scholarship applications. It is a very good essay and clearly explains what many people don't understand about why we all need car insurance. Please take the time to read and if you have any questions about your own insurance, don't hesitate to contact me directly. Marie White
Any person can venture on an insurance company website to find the list of ten or fifteen different reasons to get insurance ranging from “It is the law,” to “Peace of Mind.” However, personally, I believe we need to look at the family to realize that not having insurance can have a devastating impact on the financial and personal well-being of all individuals. Dealing with medical cost and property damage to one’s own vehicle or that of others can be overwhelming. If one does not have insurance, the majority, if not all of his/her assets can be relinquished or lost due to the extensive costs. Whether the accident was caused by the family member or by an uninsured motorist, the damages are costly. Imagine having to personally pay for damages while trying to support a family.
Food and clothing costs have skyrocketed in the last few years. Health insurance costs are also high. Raising a family, education costs, and utility costs are incredible. Families need to work to pay for all of these. Often this means traveling an hour or better to get to work on some very busy highways. What happens if an accident occurs no matter who is to blame. Temporary loss of employment, injury, or property damages have a truly negative impact of the family. Many families have only one car, don’t live near a metro-stop or train station, and may not have someone to watch children while they are incapacitated. Any or all of these instances may occur. Where do you turn? Who can you trust?
What if your car is stolen or vandalized? Who would take care of that without insurance? The cost would fall to the family and again cut into the normal living costs.
Car insurance is the safety net to help people monetarily as well as medically. Besides helping to pay for property damages, it may also supplement your health insurance by covering injuries you may sustain as a result of the accident. It also provides legal protection for the family and possibly even an attorney to handle any legal issues which stem from the accident. It may also prevent the family from declaring bankruptcy which would impact their future buying power by changing the family’s credit rating. It could also affect their use of credit cards almost immediately. This has a major impact of family life causing even more stress than may have been previously experienced.
Your loan companies won’t stop asking for payments for the mortgage, credit card balances, or car payments. Groceries will still be needed to feed the family. Medical insurance still needs to be paid. Companies don’t stop asking because you are in a hospital bed unable to work or a family member has been seriously injured or killed. You, as the driver, have a responsibility to your family to mediate this possibility by looking at your insurance coverage.
It is important for a family to weigh the options which are offered by insurance companies. Of course, we all know that insurance is mandatory even though some drivers still choose to take the chance of not having any. More important, however, is the cost of not having insurance. Because accidents do happen, more than six million car accidents per year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the average cost of an accident is $9,300 without including disabling injuries, no one can really afford not to include car insurance in their budget.
Also, as a driver, you must be aware of what is in your policy. Some insurance covers liability others may not. You should get to know your insurance agent as well so you are fully aware of what is covered and what is not. Be insurance savvy. Your agent is not your enemy.
What is also important is that you are a safe driver. Abide by the rules of the road. Don’t drink and drive. Be aware of weather conditions. We often think about ice in the winter, but what about the rain in the spring, or the sun shining in your eyes in the summer, or even the wet leaves on the road in the fall. All of these can be hazards. Make sure your car is in safe working conditions and that your tires are not worn. Make sure your gas gauge is not on empty and your oil has been changed regularly. If you have a broken window, make sure it gets fixed. You, as the driver, are the most important person in the car. You have the life of your passengers in your hands. Distracted driving has been a major problem and is getting worse. Cell phones, texting, ear-buds, and even loud passengers can distract you. There are so many variable that affect driving. Being tired or stressed also can affect anyone and the result may be disastrous. Insurance companies cannot monitor these conditions, but you can. Again, you are responsible for yourself, your car, and your passengers. You truly are in charge.
I have learned a lot in my short two-year driving career. Fortunately I have not had to experience a catastrophe due to an accident, but I have seen other people injured because of another’s inexperience or carelessness. My family has stressed the importance of putting the cell phone in the back seat and keeping music at a low volume. Now I have other brothers and sisters who will be driving soon. Hopefully, I will have set a good example for them as well as keeping them safe while they are riding with me.
We all need this “Safety Net.” Accidents are just that, accidents. Some may be due to driver error or weather conditions, but usually no one purposely causes an accident. Insurance is your protection against whatever conditions you encounter. Your family needs this protection in order to maintain their lifestyle no matter what that lifestyle may be. Protect your family and protect yourself from whatever may occur on the highway. Be responsible, courteous, and safe.
Written by Jacob McCabe