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01 Oct

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Do you need garagekeepers coverage?

October 1, 2016 | By |

If you run a shop, do some towing, or allow other truckers to park on your premises, you may be held legally liable for a loss to a non-owned auto. A garagekeepers policy provides physical damage coverage for trucks, tractors, or trailers that you do not own but are in your possession for service or storage as part of your garage operations.

Direct primary garagekeepers coverage will compensate the vehicle owner even if you are not responsible for the loss, such as in the case of weather-related damages. This type of coverage can protect your operation and preserve goodwill in your business relationships.

Property-of-others

If you are working on a loaded truck owned by someone else, you can also be liable for any damages to the client’s cargo, including theft; since the cargo doesn’t belong to you, your cargo policy will not respond. A property-of-others endorsement will cover losses to clients’ cargo while their vehicle is in your possession.

For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

15 Sep

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Is an individual doing work for me an independent contractor or employee?

September 15, 2016 | By |

Several tests can be used to determine whether an individual qualifies as an independent contractor or employee for the purposes of state and federal laws. Fundamentally, all of these tests seek to answer the question, does the company control how the work will be performed (suggesting an employer-employee relationship) or does the company deal only with the results of this work (suggesting an independent contractor relationship)?

Five of the most common tests are:

  • IRS Factor Control Test (or 20 Factor Test): used in regard to IRS withholding, Immigration
  • Economic Reality Test: used in regard to Fair Labor Standards Act, Workers’ Compensation, Discrimination
  • Relative Nature of Work Test
  • ABC Test: used in regard to Unemployment benefits
  • Common Law Test (or Right to Control Test:) used in regard to Discrimination, ERISA, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, National Labor Relations Act, Labor Management Relations Act

The test used depends upon the particular statutes or government agencies involved. Please not that these tests are only guidelines and are not applicable in every situation. Therefore, a worker may be considered an employee under one statute, but an independent contractor under another.

Misclassifying employees as independent contractors carries financial risks. In addition to penalties and fees, companies may also be charged with liabilities including back taxes and overtime. This may also open the company to lawsuits related to:

  • Denial of ERISA and other benefits
  • Denial of Workers’ Compensation
  • Denial of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Discrimination for failure to accommodate for a disability
  • Failure to include the individual in employee count which resulted in the company appearing not to be required to comply with Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, WARN Act, Affirmative Action, or other state or federal employment laws
  • Failure to retain proper tax forms for employees
  • Disputed ownership of rights to completed work

For more information and relevant forms, visit http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Independent-Contractor-Self-Employed-or-Employee. For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

01 Sep

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What is Workers’ Compensation?

September 1, 2016 | By |

Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated program, and is required of certain employers by law in most states. It covers wage-loss benefits, medical treatment, and rehabilitation for employees who suffer a work-related injury or illness. Workers’ compensation also includes employer liability coverage, meaning that employees who receive these workers’ compensation benefits cannot file suit against their employer in connection with the work-related injury or accident, with few exceptions.

When an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness, the workers’ compensation policy covers the costs of the employee’s wages and medical care, and many workers’ compensation policies have programs which help to facilitate recovery and expedite return-to-work.

Premiums for workers’ compensation are determined by business classification and payroll. Classifications group businesses with like businesses, and these classification categories and determined by rating bureaus. Payroll is determined on an individual basis by a premium audit. A premium audit typically includes the insured submitting information about the business’s owners/officers, employee gross payroll, job descriptions, and subcontractors. When an audit is completed, the insured receives a statement that outlines the classifications, payroll amounts, rates, and other policy changes.

Cost Management

There are several ways an employer can manage the cost of workers’ compensation.

  • Choose your insurance agency carefully. Exclusive and captive agents are limited to offering only one carrier for workers compensation, while independent agents represent multiple insurance companies, and have the ability to compare policies for the best value.
  • Implement a formal safety program. Many employers who implement safety measures, such as written safety procedures, prompt claims reporting, and return-to-work programs, find that they are able to effectively reduce the costs of workers’ compensation.
  • Talk about safety with your employees. Provide training for injury prevention, and allow for meetings that address safety issues.

For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

15 Aug

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Does a driver need to be tested for drugs and alcohol after an accident?

August 15, 2016 | By |

drugflow

FMSCA regulations require alcohol and drug testing of drivers who are required to have a CDL.

Alcohol tests must be taken two to eight hours after the accident occurred. Drug test must be taken within 32 hours of the accident. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the driver must be available for testing, or it may be assumed that the driver has refused testing. A refusal is considered the same as a positive test.

For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

01 Aug

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What is Occupational Accident Insurance?

August 1, 2016 | By |

Occupational Accident Insurance provides medical, disability, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits, but it’s not Workers’ Compensation.

Medical Coverage

Our Occupational Accident Insurance offers our clients freedom of choice; they aren’t directed to a network of doctors or hospitals, rather, they can see their family doctor or specialists recommended by their doctor to treat covered accidental injuries, up to the limit of the policy.

Temporary Total Disability

If an individual is unable to work due to a covered occupational accident and medical treatment is necessary, our occupational accident insurance provides compensation for lost income, with some plans offering weekly maximum benefits of up to $700 per week for up to two years during recovery.

Continuous Total Disability

Should a covered injury result in a permanent total disability, individuals may be eligible for a Continuous Total Disability benefit once Temporary Total Disability benefits have expired.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment

Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefits are designed to help individuals and their families adjust to lifestyle changes that result from permanent critical injuries. The included death benefit will provide for dependents should an individual not survive a covered accidental injury.

For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

15 Jul

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How do I insure my auxiliary power unit?

July 15, 2016 | By |

Physical damage coverage is provided when auxiliary power units (APUs) are permanently attached to a tractor; however, the value of the APU must be included when determining equipment values for insurance coverage. At the time of a total loss, the APU is surrendered because it is included in the salvage value of the tractor.

APUs can be insured separately on an inland marine floater policy. This allows the APU to be insured with an optional lower deductible and provides the flexibility to remove the unit from the tractor at the time of a loss when no damage occurs to the APU.

For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

01 Jul

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What is a Constructive Total Loss?

July 1, 2016 | By |

A Constructive Total Loss (CTL) is a loss in which the item insured is not totally destroyed but is so severely damaged that the insurance company considers it uneconomical to repair. The insured item will be totaled-out and the title surrendered to the insurance company. Often, a loss equal to 50 or 60 percent of the stated value of the item is considered a CTL. This means that it is important to accurately state the value of insured items to avoid taking a personal loss in a CTL situation.

Here’s an example of a possible CTL:

Jeff purchased two new flatbed trailers, a “lead” and a “pup,” which cost $40,000 and $45,000, respectively. He figured that he would be able to repair any damage to the trailers himself, so to save money on his premium, he insured the trailers for only $15,000 each.

Jeff then had an accident that caused $12,000 in damage to the lead and $9,500 in damage to the pup. He thought that his $15,000 in coverage would cover his costs to repair the trailers. The Claim Adjuster, however, determined that the accident constituted a Constructive Total Loss on the two trailers, and Jeff would receive $30,000 from the insurance company.

Jeff could have repaired his two trailers for $30,000, but because they were totaled-out, he had to surrender the titles of the trailers to the insurance company, meaning that he no longer owned the trailers and could not repair them. The Claim Adjuster was able to sell the trailers to a salvage buyer for $40,000. He was able to reimburse the insurance company for Jeff’s claim and generate a profit of $10,000, which was given to Jeff.

Jeff was left with $40,000 to replace $85,000 in equipment. Had Jeff used a more accurate stated value, his insurance premium would have been higher, but in the case of an accident, his trailers would have been restored to pre-loss condition, even in the case of a CTL.

For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

23 Jun

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Workers’ comp vs. Occ Acc: what’s the difference?

June 23, 2016 | By |

Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated program, and is required of employers who employ three or more employees at any one time, or employ one or more employees for 35+ hours per week for 13 or more weeks by law in most states. It may cover wage-loss benefits, medical treatment, and rehabilitation—related medical expenses—for employees who suffer a work-related injury or illness. Workers’ compensation also includes employer liability coverage, which may provide protection to an employer if an employee sues the employer in indirect relation to a workers’ compensation claim, often covering legal defense costs, up to the policy limits. Workers’ compensation doesn’t eliminate the issues of an unsafe workplace, however, and employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe working environment for their employees. Click here for specific answers to frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation.

Occupational accident insurance may provide medical, disability, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits, but it’s not workers’ compensation—it isn’t state-regulated or state statutory. Occupational accident policies may cover wage-loss benefits, medical treatments, and rehabilitation for employees or covered independent contractors, but only up to the policy limits. Employers are allowed to choose their coverage and deductible amounts, based upon the employer’s perceived risk.

While workers’ compensation policies typically involve a higher cost to the employer, they may offer more comprehensive coverage, particularly in terms of employer liability, which is not a component of occupational accident coverage. However, owner-operators and other drivers who qualify as independent contractors are not always covered under state workers’ compensation laws; while employee classification is determined by the federal government, workers’ compensation laws are determined by the state government. For these drivers, employers may want to consider occupational accident coverage.

For a useful infographic delineating the differences between workers’ compensation and occupational accident policies, click here. For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

21 May

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Pre-Employment Screening

May 21, 2014 | By |

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched its Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) to allow commercial motor carriers to access driver inspection and crash records as part of the driver qualification and hiring process. Learn more about this national database in this data sheet.

Read more by viewing the attached PDF.

View PDF

Pre Employment Screening

21 May

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Occupational Accident Insurance

May 21, 2014 | By |

It is the third most common insurance policy purchased by Owner Operators. It provides medical, disability, accidental death, and dismemberment benefits, but it’s not worker’s compensation! What is it? Learn more in this data sheet!

Read more by viewing the attached PDF.

View PDF

Occupational_Accident_Insurance