Specialized Business Insurance & Risk Management Blog
TwitterLinkedIn

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/

How to Reduce Costly Risks in a Cleaning or Maintenance Service Business

Reduce Costly Risks in a Cleaning or Maintenance Service BusinessThe key to keeping your business costs low is preventing injuries and damages before they happen.  Slips and falls, exposure to cleaning chemicals, damage to a client’s property, and equipment hazards are common risks faced by cleaning and maintenance service employees that could leave a mark on your balance sheet and reputation.  To avoid a financial mess from a claim or lawsuit, a risk management plan should be defined and followed.

Here are some risk management tips that reduce costly risks for your business:

Make Safety Everybody’s Job

Train each employee in safety procedures that prevent damages to a client’s property, equipment breakdowns, and injuries or health risks.  With everyone involved in creating a safe environment, the risk of a costly claim is significantly reduced.  Safety tips include (but are not limited to):

  • Don’t use cell phones while driving from one site to another
  • Inspect and control cleaning site hazards before starting the job
  • Secure fragile items before cleaning an area
  • Wear protective gear that shields from chemicals
  • Warn clients of wet floors and hazard areas
  • Use proper cleaning procedures and maintain working condition of equipment
  • Lock up the building and equipment at the completion of each workday

Keep a Record of Inventory and Services Performed

Write up a contract for your client to sign before starting a new job that clearly defines services to be performed, detailed list of tasks to be completed in each area and facility, schedule, rates, and other important conditions.  Throughout each workday, record which equipment is used, where equipment and the client’s property is stored, and tasks or services that were completed.  Documentation not only helps employees stick to an agenda for a higher job performance, but it provides evidence to better defend your business if there’s ever an unexpected lawsuit. In addition, it helps to improve customer satisfaction.

Have a Backup Plan with Insurance

Insurance coverage is there to back you up financially when an unexpected claim happens.  To get the best coverage for your operational and financial needs, it’s important to know the risks your business faces and what is covered under each type of insurance policy.  Even the most basic insurance can help you avoid a substantial loss, depending on your risks.

Following a simple risk management plan that includes these components will help your cleaning or maintenance service business avoid significant financial loss and maintain customer satisfaction.  With this, you can keep your operations running as smooth as possible and continue growing your business.

To protect your cleaning or maintenance service business, NIP Group offers MaintenancePro insurance program.  Contact your insurance broker or visit www.nipgroup.com/programs/maintenancepro for more information.

Resources

https://buildingservices.insureon.com/small-business-insurance/ways-to-protect/34

https://buildingservices.insureon.com/resources/publications/risk-management

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

4 Fundamental Insurance Policies that Protect Cleaning and Maintenance Service Businesses

Basic Insurance that Protects Cleaning and Maintenance Service BusinessesFor a cleaning or maintenance service company, it only takes one messy situation to leave a mark on your balance sheet.  Damages to a client’s property, damages to your own commercial property, and injuries are, at times, unavoidable risks that can wipe your business out financially. When a claim is made against your business, having even the most basic insurance can help you avoid financial loss.

Below are four fundamental insurance policies – general liability, property, commercial vehicle, and workers’ comp – that help protect cleaning or maintenance service businesses.

1. General Liability (GL) Insurance

This coverage protects your business from property damage, bodily injury, and personal or advertising injury claims. If your employee is cleaning a floor and a client slips on it, for example, you’re covered. GL insurance by itself, however, is not enough to keep your business out of financial harm.

2. Property Insurance

If you own commercial cleaning equipment or operate your business in a commercial space, property insurance may benefit you. This coverage is there to back you up financially when a fire, vandalism, theft, or certain other unexpected situations cause commercial property loss or damage (e.g., your expensive cleaning equipment is stolen).

3. Commercial Vehicle Insurance

You could be liable if an employee causes an auto accident while driving to the next job. The cost of damages from a crash or fender bender makes commercial vehicle insurance important for businesses with traveling employees.

4. Workers’ Comp Insurance

This insurance is the protector of your most important asset – your employees.  Even with safety procedures in place, frequent exposure to cleaning chemicals, wet floors, cleaning equipment, heavy lifting, and other daily tasks can still result in an employee injury. When this happens, workers’ comp is there to pay the resulting medical costs, legal fees, and other related costs.

Although there are other insurance policies your business may need, these four are important to consider.  Maintaining a clean claims history can help lower insurance costs, so it’s recommended to standardize and follow safety procedures specific to the risks of your business. With insurance and effective risk management, your business is set up to avoid a financial mess.

Looking to clean up your balance sheet?  Check out NIP Group’s MaintenancePro insurance program that includes general liability, property, auto liability, workers’ comp, and other insurance policies custom-tailored to your cleaning or maintenance service business need.

Please note: All coverages are subject to conditions, coverage limits, limits of liability, limitations, and exclusions as contained in the policy.

Safety Guidelines for Reducing Hazards in the Electrical Trade

Safety Guidelines for Reducing Hazards in the Electrical Trade

Fatality reports for electricians are devastating, often listing slips and falls or electrocution as the cause of death. However, if the following safety precautions were in place and abided by, many of these deaths could have been prevented. Therefore the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to follow certain safety standards or pay a penalty. To protect your workers from devastating injuries and avoid significant financial loss, we’ve put together general safety measures that reduce hazards in the electrical trade.

1. Recognize Hazards

Before starting a job, it’s important to first recognize hazards within your work environment. This helps determine any areas that could result in injury or death. Hazards to look for include but are not limited to:

  • Inadequate wiring and insulation of wiring
  • Exposed or energized electrical parts, including overhead power lines
  • Improper grounding of equipment and circuitry
  • Overloaded electrical systems
  • Improper or defective equipment and ladders
  • Wet conditions

2. Evaluate Hazards

Once recognized, it’s important that each hazard is evaluated to identify how they can be controlled. Never ignore a sign of risk. An assessment of each hazard includes:

  • The seriousness of the hazard
  • Action needed to be taken to eliminate risk

3. Control Hazards

After hazards have been recognized and evaluated, you can employ safety procedures that minimize these risks and prevent injury or death. These should be followed and enforced at all times. Safety procedures should include but are not limited to:

  • Keeping a first aid kit at each jobsite
  • Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Isolating and insulating live wires and electrical parts correctly
  • De-energizing electrical devices before repair or service
  • Using “lockout / tagout” procedures
  • Grounding electrical devices and using GFCIs
  • Using overcurrent protection devices
  • Maintaining working condition and proper use of equipment

To create a safer environment, each worker needs to be trained in recognizing hazards, using equipment properly, and following the required safety procedures. If an injury or death does occur even with the proper safety procedures in place, having the right insurance can protect your business from serious financial loss. Workers’ comp insurance coverage, in particular, adds an extra layer of protection in case of an accident.

Looking to better protect your workers and your electrical trade business from significant financial loss? Check out NIP Group’s PowerPro insurance program that includes comprehensive workers’ compensation.

Info from:
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2009-113/pdfs/2009-113.pdf
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/Electrical_Safety.pdf
http://www.ehso.com/css/oshaviolations.php

5 Steps to Treating an Electric Shock Victim on the Jobsite

Treating an Electric Shock Victim on the JobsiteFor electricians or contractors working with power supplies, electric shock is a high risk that can be fatal for both the victim and your business. Response time by another person can be the difference between life and death, with records showing seven out of ten victims are revived if artificial respiration is performed within three minutes. This makes it essential for safety procedures to be established to prevent injuries and insurance coverage to be provided to avoid financial harm.

Electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical current, typically through an exposed live wire or unsafe equipment and conditions. Electric shock from high voltage, a serious danger mostly for electricians and other contractors, can cause severe burn marks, bleeding, unconsciousness, and more.

If high-voltage electric shock happens to a worker on the job, trained employees should prepare to take the following steps:

1. Turn off or separate the victim from the electrical source. Unplug or shut off the power source. If turning off the power is not an immediate option, separate the person from the electrical source by using a dry, non-conducting object, such as a wooden broom, chair, or rubber doormat. Do not touch the victim.

2. Call 911 immediately. Even if the person does not appear hurt, they still need medical attention. If there is more than one person at the scene, steps 1 and 2 should be performed simultaneously to increase likelihood of survival.

3. Apply CPR, if needed. Only after being separated from the electrical source, check the victim’s vital signs. Perform CPR or rescue breathing if breathing has stopped or seems slow.

4. Check for injuries. For burn marks, rinse with cold running water and cover with a loose, clean, lint-free bandage or cloth. If the victim is bleeding, apply pressure and elevate the wounded area if possible. If spinal injury is suspected from a fall, avoid moving the victim’s head or neck.

5. Inform medical professionals once they arrive. Be specific about what happened and notify them of all injuries noticed.

In addition to first aid, take the time to recognize, evaluate, and control hazards before starting a job to create a safe working environment. Safety precautions should be combined with comprehensive insurance coverage that includes worker compensation benefits. This protects employees and avoids costly lawsuits and fines that can be devastating for your business.

To protect your business from an electrical shock claim, NIP Group offers comprehensive insurance and risk management programs. Click the links below or contact your insurance broker for more information.

PowerPro Insurance
For commercial contractors who install, service, and repair electrical devices

HVACPro Insurance
For commercial contractors who design, build, and service heating, cooling, and ventilation systems

Info from:
- http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/electric-shock-treatment
- http://www.elec-toolbox.com/
- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000053.htm
- http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-electrical-shock/basics/art-20056695

Dog Bite Prevention Week

iStock_000004937770_Medium

Dog Bite Prevention Week

Dog bites are a dangerous risk faced by veterinarians, their staff, and owners every day. Veterinarians play an important role in their own safety, the safety of their staff and clients, and the welfare of the dogs presented for care. However, while the risk of dog bites is high in veterinary practice, it is often dismissed as an expected aspect of the job. When implementing safety measures, these measures not only include the veterinarian and veterinary staff, but also the owner and other clients and patients in the clinic and its surrounding facilities, such as the parking lot.

Did you know there are 4.5 million dog bites reported every year in the United States? Even the nicest dogs can bite, making it particularly important for dog handlers to be aware of dog biting prevention techniques. Before learning these techniques, it’s important to first understand the motive behind their biting triggers.

Preventing injuries can only happen if the causes and contexts of biting are considered. By nature of clinical practice, we restrain, palpate, poke, and perform procedures that trigger fear and sometimes pain in our patients. Escape is impossible, so biting becomes a practical defense for some animals.

Biting triggers may include:

  • Feels Frightened. Dogs that have been in a veterinary setting previously may have developed fear from the experience. Classical conditioning (think of Pavlov and his bell) often occurs; white coats, the smell of disinfectant, stethoscopes, and other innocuous stimuli become aversive or predict the possibility of an aversive event.
  • Feeling Trapped. In many veterinary hospitals, the examination room is often a small space with only 1 access door. In addition, typically the dog and owner are the first to enter and wait. Defensiveness and anxiety can occur when the pet feels that there is no escape.
  • Injured or Sick. Hip dysplasia, severe otitis, or any chronic injury can cause even the friendliest dog to bite.
  • Bites by Accident. The dog may not have learned bite inhibition.
  • Overly Excited. This likely stems from boredom or lack of stimulation. Redirect the dog’s high energy to keep it occupied and away from biting.
  •  Views You as Prey. This may occur when a person runs or screams while moving past the dog.

All dog bites can be prevented. With a better understanding of their behavior, you can employ techniques to reduce the likelihood of a dog biting you or someone else. Here are some prevention tips:

  1. Read Body Language. Pay attention to the dog’s body language for signs that it may be fearful, anxious, or ready to bite.
  2. Adjust Entry/Exit and Schedules. For dogs that may be potentially fearful or reactive, provide separate waiting and/or entry areas or schedule them for the first or last appointments of the day.
  3. Let the Dog Be Last. Allow the dog and owner to be the last individuals to enter the examination room.
  4. Postpone Greeting the Patient. Do not rush to greet the patient; instead, give the dog some time to decide about interacting and respect the dog’s space until the physical examination.
  5. Approach Sideways. Have the owner bring the dog to the center of the room and approach the dog from the side instead of the front.
  6. Feed Tidbits. Use food liberally throughout the visit to create a positive experience for the dog.
  7. Make Use of Muzzles. Use a basket-style muzzle on any dog with a history of biting.
  8. Write it All Down. Keep a medical record for each patient that includes a behavior score as well as specific information about the dog’s behavior.
  9. Protect the Client. Educate the client about safely medicating the dog at home or have the client board bring the dog to the clinic for medication administration.
  10. Keep Patients Happy. Make every effort to ensure that the dog’s visit to the clinic is as positive as possible; allow the pet to learn that visits include delicious food, consistent routine, and gentle handling.

Before a dog bite occurs in the workplace, make sure your business has insurance coverage specific to your unique risks. NIP Group provides a comprehensive PetPro insurance program and claims handling support that protects professionals who make a positive impact on the lives of animals every day.

To learn how PetPro insurance program can protect your animal care business from significant financial loss, visit us online at http://www.nipgroup.com/programs/petpro/.

Info from: http://www.doggonesafe.com/why_dogs_bite and http://www.floridapeninsula.com/blog/post/May-17-23-is-Dog-Bite-Prevention-Week.aspx

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

Will Your Insurance Carrier Be Able to Pay Your Claim?

When a large claim is made against your business, are you confident your insurance company will be able to pay it?  Your balance sheet and financial future are on the line.

An insurance carrier is not just a provider, but a long-term financial partner you rely on to keep your business out of a financial hole.  If financial obligations from your chosen partner can’t be met right away or at all (i.e., not paying your claim or slow payment), your business could be left digging for cash.  To help prevent this from happening, the financial strength of an insurance company needs to be considered before you purchase coverage.

Rating the Financial Strength of Carriers

The system used by A.M. Best, a respected rating agency, grades the financial strength of an insurance company from financially secure “A++ (Superior)” to vulnerable “S (Suspended).”  Each grade indicates how likely the carrier is able to meet its financial obligations to policyholders.

What does this mean to you?  Similar to a school system, carriers receiving a grade of “A-” and above are top performers.  They’ve shown financial stability and appear to have a positive long-term financial future, meaning they’re trusted to back you up when needed.  Carriers receiving a “B++” and below have some work to do.  They’re often dismissed by brokers and business owners because their long-term financial futures are uncertain.

A.M. Best – Insurance Financial Strength Rating Scale

 Secure  Vulnerable
 A++, A+ (Superior)  B, B- (Fair)
 A, A- (Excellent)  C++, C+ (Marginal)
 B++, B+ (Good)  C, C- (Weak)
 D (Poor)
 E (Under Regulatory Supervision)
 F (In Liquidation)
 S (Suspended)

 

To give policyholders security and peace of mind, NIP Group is only backed by “A” rated carriers. Our comprehensive insurance programs can be custom-tailored to address the unique risks of each client, helping to avoid damaging claims. In the case that a claim does occur, we’ve got you covered immediately. In other words, NIP Group is a top performer.

Need a boost of confidence for your financial future? Check out these insurance programs backed by “A” rated carriers to find one that best fits your needs.

April is Safe Digging Month – Tips to Help Your Contractors Control Exposures and Claim Costs

iStock_000013069217_MediumAn underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig before calling 811. All states have laws that require utilities be pre-located by an appropriate locator service, which can be reached by calling 811 – the national “Call Before You Dig” phone number.
The following steps can help contractors control exposures, avoid losses, or contain losses that do occur:

Take daily photos of the work site

Check utility marks to help ensure all known utilities have been located

In the event a strike does occur, once site safety is established, gather detailed documentation of where the marks were in relation to the excavation; documentation can include photos, diagrams and witness statements

Not collecting these facts immediately could seriously damage your contractor’s defense. The average utility damage claim is approximately $25,000, and as such, implementing an effective incident investigation plan containing the elements above can help you defend your contractor.

Keeping Your Greenhouse Operational While the Snow Melts

Winter greenhouseThe weight of snow can change based on whether the snow is wet or dry, as wet snow can be up to four times heavier than dry snow.  Dry snow can mostly be found in the middle of the country, while wet snows are more typically found on coastlines or by large bodies of water. When melted, three inches of wet snow or twelve inches of dry snow is equivalent to one inch of water. How can this water weight affect your greenhouse? In order to lighten the load of the snow, the best method is to melt it before it starts to pile up. Here’s a list of some snow melting tips to help you as this winter comes to a close.

  • Energy Blanket: Before the storm starts, lay out the energy blanket and turn the heat on BEFORE the snow starts to fall. This will warm up the glazing so the snow will melt on contact. Even if the snow does start to pile up, it will act as a good insulator, which will reduce heat loss.
  • Reducing Air Pressure: Double layered greenhouses are less effective at melting snow, as the second layer slows the heat transfer. By reducing the air pressure, you can deflate the greenhouse to a single layer.
  • Snow Rake: If energy blankets are not available, you can manually remove snow from the greenhouse with a snow rake. Be careful not to build the snow up too high around the sides, as it may crush the walls in.
  • Heating Cables/Water Piping: The effects of these methods are limited due to the small concentrated area of the tools and their small heat output. However, these methods can help if used with other tools.

As always, you should be sure to develop a complete plan before a storm starts. Be sure to check up on snow accumulation throughout the storm’s duration. Also, check all heating equipment before the storm, to make sure it is operational.