Specialized Business Insurance & Risk Management Blog

EPA Revises Worker Protection Standard

Pesticide WorkerStarting in 2017, the health of greenhouse, plant nursery, urban farm, and other workers will be better protected.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the 1992 Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) with elements designed to reduce the risk of illness or injury from unsafe pesticide exposure.  Employers must comply with most of the new requirements starting January 2, 2017 and certain other requirements starting January 2, 2018.

Exposure to pesticides is associated with a number of illnesses and injuries such as nausea, vomiting, neurological disorders, and cancer, just to name a few.  This is not only bad for a worker’s health and wallet, but it’s bad for your horticulture business, too.  These health risks can increase worker absenteeism, reduce productivity, and add to your costs.  The revised WPS aims to reduce preventable illnesses relating to pesticides through stricter regulations.

Who Needs to Comply with the Worker Protection Standard?

Employers can be subject to significant civil and criminal penalties if WPS requirements are not met.  This affects establishments that grow and harvest commercial plants in greenhouses and nurseries, fruits and vegetables on farms, or timber and trees in forests and nurseries.

Employers of researchers who help grow and harvest plants and employers of commercial pesticide handling establishments are also required to meet WPS regulations.

Learn more from EPA on which employers are affected by WPS and exceptions here.

Which Employees are Protected by the Worker Protection Standard?

The WPS protects pesticide handlers and agricultural workers. EPA defines pesticide handlers as compensated workers who:

• mix, load, or apply agricultural pesticides;
• clean or repair pesticide application equipment; or
• assist with the application of pesticides

EPA defines agricultural workers as “those who perform tasks related to growing and harvesting plants on farms or in greenhouses, nurseries or forests.”  This includes compensated workers that perform activities directly related to agricultural plant production, including repotting and watering plants.

What Changes Were Made to the Worker Protection Standard?

EPA made a number of changes in 2015 to the existing Worker Protection Standard.  These revisions improve safety measures, training, and access to information.  Some of the major changes include:

• Individuals under the age of 18 can no longer handle pesticides or perform early-entry work during a restricted-entry interval  (REI) (effective January 2, 2017)

• Pesticide handlers must complete medical evaluations, annual fit testings, and annual training prior to using a respirator; a record of these completed activities must be saved for two years (effective January 2, 2017)

• Eye flush water must be accessible at mixing/loading sites for pesticide handlers required to use eye protection (effective January 2, 2017)

• Warning signs must be posted for outdoor production areas if the REI is greater than 48 hours (effective January 2, 2017)

• Mandatory training on required protections must be provided to workers and handlers annually (effective January 2, 2017)

• “Enclosed space production” replaced the term “greenhouse” to include greenhouses, mushroom houses, grow houses, hoop houses, and high tunnels in its definition

• And more

How to Protect Your Horticulture Business from Financial Loss

To protect your horticulture business from paying penalties, it’s important to follow requirements specified in the Worker Protection Standard.  Standardize procedures for your employees and provide additional training if needed.   Each worker should be trained in recognizing hazards, using equipment and chemicals properly, and following the required safety procedures.  Enforcing safety not only prevents violations and worker injuries, it could help lower your insurance premium, too.

If an injury or illness does occur from pesticide exposure or other cause, make sure you have comprehensive workers’ compensation insurance coverage.  This covers medical costs, foregone wages, and other related costs that can be financially devastating for your business.  With this, your employees can focus on restoring their health and you can continue growing your business.

Find insurance coverage for your horticulture business.  NIP Group’s GrowPro insurance program includes workers’ compensation and other important coverages that can be custom-tailored to your operational and financial needs. For information on insurance coverage specific to your needs, visit nipgroup.com/programs/growpro or contact your broker.


NIP Programs develops and manages business insurance programs for industries with specialized insurance and risk management needs.


Source: epa.gov

Found a Negative Online Review of Your Commercial Business? Here’s How to Respond


Respond to a Negative Online Review of Your BusinessA negative online review of your services could discourage other prospective clients from hiring your commercial business.  In a study by Dimensional Research, 88 percent of respondents said they “have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision.”  Not so good for your bottom line.  Don’t panic just yet, though – a quick response coupled with some TLC (tender loving care) can help turn a negative review into a positive.

A bad review can happen to even the most reliable service businesses, whether it’s from a dissatisfied client (warranted or not) or a sneaky competitor using a fake name.  Monitoring both social media and service review websites helps you gauge customer satisfaction and your reputation.  It also enables you to showcase your company values to the World Wide Web and do damage control if an online user writes a less-than-stellar review.

Below we provide some helpful response tips for maintaining a positive reputation when an unexpected bad review is written for the world to see.

Step 1: Breathe

Your passion as a business owner makes any feedback more personal.  While it’s normal human response to get defensive, staying positive will get you the best outcome.  Remember, “the customer is always right” (even if they’re wrong).

After seeing a nasty review, collect your thoughts first and then respond in a professional way.

Step 2: Show You Care

It’s important to remember that other prospective clients browsing the web will read your reply.  To make a personal connection with the reviewer, send a private message first, if possible, before posting a public reply.  A thoughtful, prompt response communicating a solution to resolve their complaint can restore your reputation.  Offering a refund or discount on their next purchase doesn’t hurt either.

For example, a reviewer complained about a delay in your cleaning or janitorial service.  Although this delay may have been due to an unavoidable situation, such as an unexpected equipment malfunction or bad traffic, this is the chance to highlight your company values, not to backlash.  Your reply could include an acknowledgement of their complaint, a statement that reinforces your company’s commitment to customer satisfaction, and how you will rectify the problem or who to contact for resolution.

Step 3: Take the Good with the Bad, and then Learn from It

Comments about your business on review sites, both positive and negative, can be used to improve your product or service.  Make it a learning experience.  For example, incorporate negative reviews into your employee training with steps to prevent future issues.  Highlight positive reviews to keep up the good work.

Rectifying a negative online review doesn’t end with these steps, however.  If given another chance, make sure the client’s next experience with your business meets or exceeds expectations.  Follow up with them after service to see how it went.  By being responsive and showing you care both online and offline, you can help influence other prospects into becoming clients.

How did you handle a negative online review?





How to Get a Business Insurance Claim Resolved More Efficiently


Get a Business Insurance Claim Resolved More EfficientlyAccording to a recent study by The Hartford, four out of ten small businesses will experience a property or general liability claim within the next ten years.  Knowing which steps to take when an unexpected situation happens, including theft, property damage, and injuries, can save you a lot of headache and time.  To get fair resolution of a claim through a more efficient process, prompt response and preparation are required.

Below we’ve detailed the steps that will help you move along the claims process more smoothly.

Before an Incident

Following a risk management plan, including safety procedures, can help prevent a claim from occurring. However, even the most careful businesses can face loss or damages.  For this, preparation is important to ensure you’ll be covered financially.

  • Review your insurance policies so you know exactly what is covered and if these terms fit your business needs
  • In case of a claim, store your insurance policy, including policy number and expiration date, and the contact information of your insurance provider in a safe place

Reporting a Claim

Failure to report theft, property damage, injuries, or other incidents right away drags out the claims process and, if evidence is lost, could compromise how much you’re covered financially.

  • Contact law enforcement to file a police report and request a copy of the report
  • Contact your insurance company to have a claim filed immediately
  • Have a surveillance camera or digital camera readily available for documenting evidence to support your claim
  • Make a list of any stolen or damaged items for your insurance company
  • For any damages, get multiple estimates for repair costs and confirm with your insurance provider when repairs can be made

After a Claim is Filed

Save all copies of the evidence, police reports, and claim information.  When you can, communicate in writing for documentation.  After the claim is filed, there are more steps that may need to be taken to get fair resolution.

  • If you have a business interruption insurance policy, document the length of time your operations are shut down (e.g., from building fire damage) and income lost during that time period for later compensation
  • Ask your insurance provider for a cash advancement if money is needed to get your operations running again before the claim is settled
  • Follow up routinely with your insurance provider to keep track of progress

At NIP Group, our dedicated claims expert reviews each claim routinely to ensure they are being handled properly and promptly.  Through a customer-focused network, we’ll update you about the status of a claim, assist you with loss control, and work directly with the carrier to get you fair and fast resolution.

To get comprehensive coverage specific to your business risks and responsive claims handling support, check out NIP Group’s commercial insurance programs by visiting http://www.nipgroup.com/programs/.

Related Articles:

Will Your Insurance Carrier Be Able to Pay Your Claim?  Here’s One Way to Tell




5 Ways to Save Money on Your Business Insurance Bill

Save Money on Business Insurance

A few simple and quick actions could put more money into your business.  The components that influence the cost of your insurance bill, including your business risks and coverage selection, can be controlled to lower your premium without compromising the quality of your coverage.  With a lower premium to pay each year, there’s more money for you to continue growing your business.

Here are five simple ways to save money on your insurance bill without sacrificing coverage:

1. Implement Safety and Loss Reduction Practices

Control workplace hazards and maintain the working condition of your commercial equipment and vehicles to keep your insurance premium low (and avoid injuries).  With a lower risk of a claim, the lower your premium will likely be (see item #3).

2. Bundle Your Policies with One Carrier

Bundling multiple lines of insurance coverage through one carrier usually comes at a lower cost than purchasing each policy individually through various carriers.  A Business Owners Policy (BOP), for example, can benefit small and medium-sized businesses because it packages major liability and property risks into one insurance plan for a lower premium.

3. Ask About a Claims-Free Discount  

Your carrier may reward you with a discount on your insurance plan if your business hasn’t had a claim in years.  To get this cost benefit, avoid filing small claims that can be paid out of pocket.

4. Increase Your Deductible

A higher deductible can lower the premium you pay annually.  It’s always good to have money set aside, however, in case an unexpected claim does occur.

5. Talk to Your Insurance Broker 

Choose a knowledgeable agent that can help you get the best coverage for you and your business.  Your broker can answer questions about different coverage options and available discounts.

Following these five tips can help you save money to continue growing your business.  At NIP Group, we get businesses custom-tailored insurance coverage at a competitive premium rate to better fit your operational and financial needs.  Visit nipgroup.com/programs or contact your broker to find out how you can save money without compromising the quality of your insurance coverage through NIP Group.




TMPAA Announces 2013 "Program Marketing Campaign" Award Winners

Three Member Agencies Score Highest in Competition Co-Sponsored by the IMCA

Wilmington, DE — The Target Markets Program Administrators Association (TMPAA) announced at their Mid Year Meeting in Baltimore that 20 entries were received for the third annual marketing campaign competition. TMPAA’s co-sponsor, the Insurance Marketing & Communications Association (IMCA) has sponsored its own marketing and communications “Showcase Awards” for 55 years. IMCA provided a panel of independent judges that reviewed all TMPAA member entries for both creative design and marketplace impact.

The winning member agencies were Venture Insurance Programs from West Chester, PA, K&B Underwriters from Reston, VA and MiniCo Insurance Agency from Phoenix, AZ. Venture’s entry was for its “Suite Life” campaign in support of its hospitality program. K&B Underwriters’ entry featured its multi-media campaign in support of its “DigniCARE” senior living facilities program. And MiniCo’s entry was the launch of its new “Family of Products” campaign featuring a branded icon supporting four of its specialty insurance programs. All three Award of Excellence winners supported their entries with impressive marketplace metrics that achieved desired upfront marketing objectives.

David Springer, TMPAA President, presented the winning award plaques at the recent Mid Year Meeting. The semi-annual association meeting attracted 600 agency, carrier and vendor members. Springer commented, “The TMPAA was thrilled to continue the creative competition in partnership with IMCA. We hope to have even more entries in 2014.”

Additionally, Springer announced that two other member agencies were named runners up in this year’s competition – GMI Insurance from Valley Forge, PA and Willis Programs of Portsmouth, NH.

The Association’s recent Mid Year Meeting was held in Baltimore, MD, May 6-9. Complete details of this event are now on the TMPAA website. The 13th Annual TMPAA Summit is scheduled for October 21-23 in Scottsdale, AZ.

Program Administrators / MGA’s interested in learning more about the TMPAA and the Program Marketing Awards can visit the Association website at www.targetmarkets.com, or contact Ray Scotto, Executive Director, at (877) 347-5700 or ray.scotto@targetmkts.com.

Trenching: Risk Mitigation Safety Tips

Irrigation systems supply agricultural fields with the water they need to keep crops healthy. The system is a very basic and simple concept; however, installation of irrigation systems can prove to be quite dangerous if the proper risks aren’t evaluated. Injuries incurred during an irrigation install can vary widely – from minor to fatal – so taking the proper precautions is absolutely necessary to help and prevent accidents from occurring.

The following safety tips should always be kept in mind during the trenching process of installing irrigation systems:

  • Never dig without knowing what’s underground. Throughout the USA and many other countries there are “one call centers” that will have someone come out and mark the locations of buried utilities for you, so you don’t dig them up.
  • Take it slow and easy. Rushing leads to injuries and mistakes. If you injure yourself and have to take off work for a day or two, you will end up missing a lot of work. Know your limitations, and get help for lifting or moving heavy objects. Be especially cautious with digging and operating any machinery that vibrates or pulls you. Both can stress your muscles without your realizing it. You don’t know you’re hurt until a few hours later. Wheelbarrows are another one that can get you unexpectedly. If the wheelbarrow looses balance and starts to tip it is usually best to just let go. You can reload it in a few minutes, but if you pull a muscle trying to hold it upright, it can lay you up for weeks.
  • Wear proper work attire. Wear a back brace (one of those girdles the employees wear down at the home improvement store) while lifting and digging. Wear heavy closed-toe shoes, and long pants to protect your legs.
  • Never get into a trench that is deeper than your knees, and never sit or lay in a trench. Trenches that appear stable can collapse without warning. Remember that if you are knocked unconscious you will not be able to pull yourself out.
  • And a simple but effective measure: Keep hydrated and protect your skin from the sun.
  • Don’t leave your tools lying around. There are enough things to trip over without adding more risks yourself.
  • Keep children away from the work site. They love to play in the piles of dirt, but it just isn’t safe. Lots of kids are injured each year at construction sites.


Half of the battle of staying safe at work is knowing the risks you face when walking into a work site. The above list of safety precautions is a healthy foundation for staying safe at work. However, as we all know, accidents can happen anytime and anywhere; even with the most stringent precautions. Should an accident occur, it’s important to have an insurance program in place that is built from the ground up to address the unique risks of irrigation system installation.

For more information on irrigation insurance, visit IrrigationPro.

TMPAA Welcomes New President, David Springer

David Springer is the President and CEO of the NIP Group. NIP Group is a specialized business insurance and risk management intermediary ranked among the 100 largest in the United States. NIP Group has more than 150 employees headquartered in Woodbridge, NJ. Prior to joining NIP Group Mr. Springer held senior positions with AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. and Prudential Insurance Company.

I embrace the opportunity to serve as the Association’s 6th President and look forward to driving the TMPAA on its path of growth and expanded services for members of the group. The TMPAA is fortunate to have a wealth of extraordinarily talented members and it is the collective influence of this forward thinking group that drives the innovative spirit to provide even greater benefit to our membership. In the recent past our group has implemented a new Certified Programs Leader Certification in connection with Target University, completed its second annual Program Business Study, and retooled both the Association website and commercial site, “Target Programs.” I expect to be busy in helping to expand the current set of Program resources, and want to thank our outgoing President, Jeremy Hitzig for the tremendous job he has done over the past two years.

– David Springer

Irrigation Risk: Pipe Pulling vs. Trenching

Irrigation InstallationDuring the installation process of lawn irrigation systems, trenching is widely believed to be one of the more dangerous parts of the operation. “Trenching” is digging out the area where irrigation piping will be installed. With backfilling and a large, exposed digging chain, it carries a high risk for property damage and employee injury.

Pipe pulling is a newer method of installing irrigation piping that is becoming more and more popular. There are many advantages to using a pipe puller, for both the safety of employees and customers’ property:

  • More productivity – Irrigation Pipe can be installed at a rate of up to 60′ per minute with no backfilling required.
  • Less labor – Hours of labor costs for backfilling trenches can quickly add up.
  • Less lawn damage – Pulling Pipe with the L2 creates only a slit in the ground. It does not create a trench by removing dirt. Restoration typically involves nothing more than running the machine over the cut in the ground to compact any raised turf.
  • Less lawn restoration – both initially and in future as trench settling occurs over time
  • Less dangerous – with a massive exposed digging chain, trenchers account for numerous injuries and deaths each year.


There are many advantages to using a pipe pulling method of installing lawn irrigation pipes, and all can attribute to the safety of employees and customer property. It is a method that should be considered by any irrigation installation contractor, as it can effectively cut down on the risks that are inherent with trenching machines.

For more information on irrigation installation insurance and risk management, visit IrrigationPro.

Mitigating Installation Risk: Irrigation Systems

Irrigation InstallationIrrigation systems supply agricultural fields with the water they need to keep crops healthy. The system is a very basic and simple concept; however, installation of irrigation systems can prove to be quite dangerous if the proper risks aren’t evaluated. Injuries incurred during an irrigation install can vary widely – from minor to fatal – so taking the proper precautions is absolutely necessary to help and prevent accidents from occurring.

The following should always be kept in mind during preparation, excavation, and installation:

  • Remain aware of the location and height of overhead electrical lines in the work area. Irrigation pipes are 30 to 40 feet long and overhead electrical lines could be as low as 18 feet and can easily be touched by the pipe or the crane lifting it.
  • Be wary of underground utilities like water, gas, or possibly underground electric. Contact all the required utility companies so they can mark the location of utilities before digging begins.
  • When digging trenches, use proper trenching and shoring techniques to avoid collapse.
  • When handling irrigation pipes, beware of crush injuries. Make sure everyone is on the same page when pipes are being connected and lowered into the trench.
  • Get training on the procedures and equipment that you will use. Know the emergency procedures and first aid in case there is an accident. Wear the proper clothing to protect you from the sun, insects, and heat and cold stress. Sturdy work gloves and footwear will protect your hands and feet. Use good ergonomics, proper lifting techniques, rest breaks, and task rotation to protect your back and avoid strains and sprains.


The above guidelines represent efficient practices in mitigating risk on an irrigation installation job site. However, even with the most stringent precautions, accidents happen. In the event that an accident is to occur, whether it be injury or property damage, it is important to have an insurance program in place that is built from the ground up with the unique risks of irrigation contractors in mind.

For more information on irrigation insurance and risk management, visit IrrigationPro.

NIP Launches IrrigationPro Insurance Program to Cover Commercial Irrigation Contractors

NIP Programs, a division of NIP Group, Inc. and a leader in the design and management of specialty insurance programs, has introduced IrrigationPro, a specialty insurance program targeting contractors providing irrigation and pesticide application for lawns, crops, and golf courses. Managed under NIP’s popular SitePro program, this program provides specialized coverage designed to meet the unique needs of commercial irrigation contractors nationally.

“IrrigationPro is NIP Programs latest addition to their program offerings and provides comprehensive coverage options that are designed to address the specific risks associated with irrigation contractors,” says Donna Jantzen, President of NIP Programs. She adds, “NIP’s 20+ years of experience in serving the insurance and risk management needs of a variety of business types enables us to deliver the coverage that is most appropriate, at prices sure to be appreciated by our insureds, and all with stellar support for our broker partners.”

Goretti DeSousa, Program Underwriter, says “The irrigation program is a natural fit for us because it complements our LandPro TreePro and PlumbingPro programs. We’ve seen a lot of interest in this niche and we are excited to have a product to help our brokers protect their clients.”

NIP Programs provides independent brokers and their clients with custom-tailored coverage and stability through all market cycles. Backed by A.M. Best “A rated” insurance carriers, NIP’s IrrigationPro offers a terrific product at an affordable price, while delivering the industry’s best claims-paying ability.

For more information on either IrrigationPro or SitePro, or to obtain a Broker Kit, call 1(800) 446-7647 ext. 249 or email Program Manager Goretti DeSousa at gdesousa@nipgroup.com. Submissions can be sent to NIProSub@nipgroup.com or faxed to (732) 791-4097.