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Safety Tips that Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat Stress and Illness

Safety Tips that Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat Stress and IllnessThe physical demands of outdoor work and extreme heat is a dangerous combination.  Landscape, tree service, construction, and other  outdoor workers spend hours under the hot sun, making them more vulnerable to heat stroke, exhaustion, dehydration, and other serious health problems.  This is not only bad for their health, but bad for your business too.

Heat stress and related illnesses have been one of the many occupational hazards OSHA aims to prevent.  In May 2015, for example, the State of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) changed employer requirements to better protect agricultural and other outdoor workers from illnesses related to heat exposure.  This includes stricter regulations.

To avoid violating OSHA regulations and control hazards, enforcing safety procedures is your best bet.  Below we list some tips for protecting your workers from these heat-related health problems.

Safety Tips for Working in Hot Temperatures

  • Dress cool.  Wear light-colored, breathable clothing and a hat.
  • Stay hydrated. Thirsty or not, drink water every 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Take breaks. Rest in the shade when possible.  Eat during lunch or other breaks to re-fuel.
  • Watch your workers’ backs. Keep an eye out for signs of exhaustion and other heat illnesses.
  • Have a response plan. Know which steps to take if a worker shows symptoms of heat illness.

Each employee should be trained in safety procedures, including recognizing and controlling hazards, and steps to take in an emergency.  By creating a safe working environment, your workers are better protected from harm and the risk of a costly claim is significantly reduced.  If a health problem does occur even after following safety procedures, an insurance plan with workers’ comp will cover medical costs, foregone wages, and other related costs to take the heat off of your business financially.

NIP Group’s insurance programs include comprehensive workers’ comp to back you up financially so your employees can focus on restoring their health and you can continue growing your business.  Click the links below for more information or contact your broker.

LandPro Insurance >

For landscape and lawn care professionals

TreePro Insurance >

For arborists and tree service professionals

GrowPro Insurance >

For greenhouse and plant grower professionals

Resources

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/documents/Heat-Illness-Prevention-Regulation-Amendments.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/wp-solutions/2013-143/pdfs/2013-143.pdf

http://landscapeonline.com/research/article/17720

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?

Resources

http://cdn.zendesk.com/resources/whitepapers/Zendesk_WP_Customer_Service_and_Business_Results.pdf

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242429

 

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

Resources:

http://newsroom.thehartford.com/releases/the-hartford-reports:-more-than-40-percent-of-small-businesses-will-experience-a-claim-in-the-next-10-years

http://www.business.com/business-insurance/tips-for-filing-a-business-insurance-claim/

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.

Resources

http://www.business.com/business-insurance/9-ways-to-save-money-on-business-insurance/

http://www.iii.org/article/how-can-i-save-money-on-my-business-insurance

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.

Lawn Care Risks

Lawn CareLawn care is one of the most utilized services by consumers involved in the landscaping trade. There is hardly a development one can drive through that’s not riddled with landscaping ventures mowing, edging, weeding, weed whacking, and treating customers’ lawns.

Being that lawn care is the most popular service paid for by customers, it is important for landscaping business owners to know the risks associated with it; seeing as how they have teams out and about day in and day out to take care of lawns.

Some of the exposures associated with lawn care that the team at LawnCarePro has come to see frequently in claims include:

Heat Exhaustion
Summers are getting hotter as they come and go. This summer has been especially hot with droughts and heat waves sweeping the country. Being out in the sun working all day on top of a machine whose engine throws off a fair amount of heat puts workers at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Landscaping business owners should make sure their employees are consuming a lot of water and taking breaks from the sun if they feel over heated.

Equipment Throwing Projectiles
Large mowers that are mowing near roads may kick up rocks or any other small object and throw them into the street. If a car happens to be passing by there can be damage done to the third party’s vehicle which will result in a claim against the landscapers. There’s not much that can be done to prevent this as it’s usually a freak accident and since the grass is long it is hard to see small rocks beneath.

Injury While Trying To Fix Equipment Jams
Equipment jams; it’s just the way of the world. However, workers attempting to fix jams can get seriously injured. Mower blades freeing up while someone is trying to fix the problem are more than capable of taking off an appendage. Workers should ALWAYS turn off machinery in order to straighten out a jam in the equipment.

Over Spraying of Pesticides and Herbicides
Over spraying of these chemicals can result in injury to the home-owner. For example, during the summer it is not uncommon for people to go out into their yard bare foot or in flip flops. If there is an over abundance of chemicals the person’s feet and legs could get burned. The same can go for pets who wander out into the yard as well.

These are a few examples of the risks faced by lawn care operations every day. Of course, the cause of a claim is only limited by one’s imagination. That’s why it is beneficial to landscaping contractors to have an insurance policy like LawnCarePro, which is designed with the needs of landscaping and tree service professionals’ unique needs in mind.

For  more information, visit LawnCarePro.

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

Recognizing Lawn Care Risks

Lawn care is one of the most utilized services by consumers involved in the landscaping trade. There is hardly a development one can drive through that’s not riddled with landscaping ventures mowing, edging, weeding, weed whacking, and treating customers’ lawns.

Being that lawn care is the most popular service paid for by customers, it is important for landscaping business owners to know the risks associated with it; seeing as how they have teams out and about day in and day out to take care of lawns.

Some of the exposures associated with lawn care that the team at LawnCarePro has come to see frequently in claims include:

Heat Exhaustion
Summers are getting hotter as they come and go. This summer has been especially hot with droughts and heat waves sweeping the country. Being out in the sun working all day on top of a machine whose engine throws off a fair amount of heat puts workers at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Landscaping business owners should make sure their employees are consuming a lot of water and taking breaks from the sun if they feel over heated.

Equipment Throwing Projectiles
Large mowers that are mowing near roads may kick up rocks or any other small object and throw them into the street. If a car happens to be passing by there can be damage done to the third party’s vehicle which will result in a claim against the landscapers. There’s not much that can be done to prevent this as it’s usually a freak accident and since the grass is long it is hard to see small rocks beneath.

Injury While Trying To Fix Equipment Jams
Equipment jams; it’s just the way of the world. However, workers attempting to fix jams can get seriously injured. Mower blades freeing up while someone is trying to fix the problem are more than capable of taking off an appendage. Workers should ALWAYS turn off machinery in order to straighten out a jam in the equipment.

Over Spraying of Pesticides and Herbicides
Over spraying of these chemicals can result in injury to the home-owner. For example, during the summer it is not uncommon for people to go out into their yard bare foot or in flip flops. If there is an over abundance of chemicals the person’s feet and legs could get burned. The same can go for pets who wander out into the yard as well.

These are a few examples of the risks faced by lawn care operations every day. Of course, the cause of a claim is only limited by one’s imagination. That’s why it is beneficial for lawn care operations to have an insurance policy like LawnCarePro, which is designed with the needs of lawn care professionals’ unique needs in mind.

For more information, visit LawnCarePro.

Pesticide Safety and Risk Management

PesticidePesticides are a mix of chemicals whose primary use is repelling, destroying, and generally mitigating an array of pests. “Pests” refers mainly to insects, plant pathogens, weeds, birds, roundworms, and microbes that can destroy property or spread disease.

Pesticides are very useful, however, many of the chemicals used in pesticide mixtures are also harmful to humans and pets as well as the pests they are meant to deter. The danger can also be multiplied if the applicator doesn’t know what they’re doing when mixing or doesn’t store them properly.

Following these safety tips can help in mitigating the risk involved with pesticide use:

  • If you decide you must use pesticides, always read the label first and follow the directions to the letter, including all precautions and restrictions.
  • Don’t use products for pests that are not indicated on the label and don’t use more pesticide than directed by the label. Don’t think that twice the amount will do twice the job.
  • Use protective measures when handling pesticides as directed by the label, such as wearing impermeable gloves, long pants, and long-sleeve shirts. Change clothes and wash your hands immediately after applying pesticides.
  • Before applying a pesticide (indoors or outdoors), remove children, their toys, and pets from the area and keep them away until the pesticide has dried or as recommended by the label.
  • Don’t spray outdoors on windy or rainy days. Take precautions to keep the pesticide from drifting or running off into the vegetable garden, pool, or neighbor’s yard.
  • Remove or cover food during indoor applications.
  • If using a commercial applicator or lawn care service, ask for information about potential risks and safety precautions to take.
  • Don’t buy more pesticides than you will need. If you have leftover pesticides, check with your local government to determine whether your community has a household hazardous waste collection program or other program for disposing of pesticides. If no community program exists, follow label directions and any state or local regulations regarding disposal.
  • Keep the telephone number of your area Poison Control Center near your telephone or saved in your cell phone

http://www.epa.gov/

Pesticides are very useful in keeping lawns looking healthy. But we must always keep in mind that pesticides are toxic and can cause injury or illness if not used properly, just like any other tool. However, even with the most stringent precautions, accidents happen. In the event of a claim it is important to have a program like LawnCarePro, an insurance program designed with the specific needs of lawn maintenance professionals in mind, to reduce the risk of coverage gaps.

For more information on lawn care insurance, visit LawnCarePro.

NIP Introduces LawnCarePro Business Insurance Program, Targeting Lawn Service Providers Nationwide

NIP Programs, a division of NIP Group, Inc., is pleased to announce the launch of LawnCareProTM, a specialty business insurance program designed specifically to serve lawn care professionals nationwide. This program provides important coverage for lawn care services, particularly those engaged in the application of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and organic lawn treatments, segments that have traditionally been difficult to insure. NIP Programs is a leader in the design and management of specialty business insurance programs, ranked among the top 100 in the nation.

“We’re pleased to be able to introduce the LawnCarePro program,” said Donna Jantzen, President of NIP Programs. “Lawn service providers have unique exposures, especially those engaged in the application of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and organic lawn treatments. These exposures add complexity to the underwriting process, and LawnCarePro provides more value to our independent brokers along with greater security to our insureds.” Jantzen goes on to say, “The LawnCarePro program covers property, business automobiles, and a variety of specialized equipment that is used within this industry. In addition, it also provides limited pollution liability coverage for qualified risks. This is a high-quality, specialized and customizable insurance solution for these unique businesses, and provides the insured with better protection while saving them money.”

The LawnCarePro program offers standard business coverages, such as General Liability and Property, along with a host of optional enhancements, including Business Auto, Equipment Coverage, Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), and more. The program even offers Umbrella Liability and Workers’ Compensation coverage. LawnCarePro is underwritten in partnership with a carrier partner that’s been rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best.

“LawnCarePro was designed to be the most competitive and comprehensive coverage serving green industry service providers,” says Jantzen. “We can help brokers to custom-tailor a policy that perfectly fits the needs of their client’s business, so that their clients can focus on what they do best: providing service and support to their customers.”

For more information on the LawnCarePro program or to obtain a Broker Kit, call 1 (800) 446-7647 ext. 249 or email LawnCarePro Program Manager Monique Evans at mevans@nipgroup.com. Submissions can be sent to NIProSub@nipgroup.com or faxed to (732) 791-4097.