13 Tips for a Safe Halloween

13 Tips for a Safe Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and many consumers may not realize how frightening this night could really be for their personal safety, property and bank accounts. But Trusted Choice® independent agents can help families better prepare for Halloween hazards that may come in disguise or under the cloak of dark.

Where Does Your Insurance Premium Go?

Where Does Your Insurance Premium Go?

It probably seems like you pay a lot of money for your business insurance. You might be wondering where your hard earned dollars are going when you pay your insurance every month or year... Our industry could do a better job of explaining what typically happens to the average insurance dollar you pay. This entry will attempt to explain just that. 

Is Your Business Ready for 3D Printing?

Is Your Business Ready for 3D Printing?

Times are changing and technology continues to get better, faster, cheaper. 3D printing is still a relatively new technology, but one that is getting more useful and more affordable. If you are a manufacturer of almost any kind, a 3D printer many be more of a necessity now than ever. Here are some of the reasons you may want to consider adding a 3D printer to your inventory if you haven't already:

Employment Practices Liability Insurance for Restaurants

Employment Practices Liability Insurance for Restaurants

Employment Practices Liability Insurance, also referred to as EPL or EPLI is becoming more of a necessity for restaurants rather than simply a nice coverage to have. A standard EPL policy protects business owners from claims by employees for discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, failure to promote and other employment related issues. 

Don't Make Yourself a Target for Lawsuits

Don't Make Yourself a Target for Lawsuits

You've worked a long time and have built substantial wealth. You want to enjoy the better things in life. Hey, you deserve to! Just be aware that nice things come with a price other than sticker price... Auto accidents are the biggest reason for large claims. You are much more likely to be involved in an auto accident and lawsuit than a personal injury lawsuit occurring at your home. I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of people out there that may look to take advantage of you if you are at fault in an accident.

Commercial Drones: What Business Owners Need to Know

Commercial Drones: What Business Owners Need to Know

The use of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), has recently grown in popularity, particularly for business owners. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that approximately 30,000 drones will be used for commercial purposes by 2020. The commercial use of drones creates insurance liability and coverage implications,ranging from personal injury to privacy invasion and aerial surveillance to data collection. You need to protect your business before flying into the “drone zone.” 

New Year, New Laws

New Year, New Laws

Happy New Year! As a business owner, I'm sure you're extremely busy with planning and growing your business right about now. However, it's good to make time to stay compliant with some of the new laws affecting California employers.

25 Ways to Winterize Your Life

25 Ways to Winterize Your Life

Control your comfort and home energy costs over the winter season. The tips below can keep you warm and keep money in your pocket, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Don't Wait Until the New Year to Start Your Business Resolutions

Don't Wait Until the New Year to Start Your Business Resolutions

It's hard to believe that we're in December already. It seems every year most people start with good intentions for life changing behavior and major self improvements. The problem is that most people jump in on January 1st and hit their wall on the 3rd. 

Food Liability Insurance Program Now Live

Food Liability Insurance Program Now Live

BayRisk Insurance Brokers is proud to have aligned with the Food Liability Insurance Program (FLIP) administered by Veracity Insurance. This program is designed for artisan food manufacturers, small catering companies, and mobile food vendors including street vendors and food trucks or trailers.

We Just Redesigned Our Website, Should You?

Technology moves fast... The way the public searches, views and consumes information is rapidly changing as well. If you have not made changes to your website in the past three to five years to keep up, now is a good time. We just redesigned www.bayrisk.com here are the reasons:

Is Your Business Being Held Hostage?

Is Your Business Being Held Hostage?

Picture this... It's Monday morning and your staff are getting settled into a very busy work day. Next thing you know the screens goes blank and you get a pop up message telling you that your server has been locked

The Perils of Multitaking

The Perils of Multitaking

Multitasking is usually considered a good thing. Many job listing will ask for and many applicants will claim to have multitasking abilities. When looking at your employees and operations, you should make clear what your definition of multitasking is.

What Does Loss Control Mean?

Loss control can mean different things. It can also mean different things to different people... From an insurance carrier and broker point of view loss control is a risk management technique that seeks to reduce the possibility that a loss will occur and/or reduce the severity of those that do occur.

Don't Rely On Your Homeowners Policy For Business Property

A BayRisk, we help thousands of small businesses. Helping small businesses often means helping home based businesses. When you have little or no employees, why spend a fortune on office space when your job probably allows you to work from home? Working from home is great; we encourage it! However, we are often met with objections on covering business contents because these home based business owners and consultants think their homeowners policy covers them for their business contents. 

Most common homeowner policies have a limitation on business owned contents of $2,000. If you have a new laptop loaded with software and a decent home office with desks, chairs, printers, etc. that were purchased with company money, you will not have enough coverage in case of a loss. Also, if you are traveling there might be limitations or no coverage for your laptop. 

Most Business Owner Policies (BOPs) will cover business contents for a very nominal charge. A one person operation can likely purchase a BOP for about $500 per year vs. just buying liability for $425 per year. $75 seems like a very small price to pay to avoid any gaps between your homeowners policy and your Business Owner Policy. Also, most small BOPs carry a low deductible of $250 or $500 per year and most homeowners policies will have a $1,000 deductible. 

You can get a quote from us and our trusted insurance carriers that can include your business contents for your home based business. Think seriously about protecting your contents and contact us if you have any questions about properly protecting your business in general. 

You're A Millionaire, Now What?

If you live in the Bay Area, have a good career, own a home and have some decent savings, chances are good that you are already a millionaire. Acquired wealth comes with added exposures and liabilities. You may have a second home, extra vehicles, toys like boats, motorcycles, ATVs, but  when was the last time you really reviewed your insurance and personal risk management?

Let's look at the added liability exposure for a millionaire. The most common personal liability claims, other than auto related, are dog bites and golf related injuries. In either scenario injuries can add up quick. Consider the loss of income by the injured party and possible punitive damages and you will definitely run out of underlying liability coverage on your homeowners policy. Libel and slander are also becoming more of an issue for households. Social media opens liability exposures for you and your children via the web. It is now common for suits to start from bullying or slander via social media.

You don't have to be a celebrity or major league sports player to be a liability target. Unfortunately, there are opportunists out there that can come after you based on the car you drive, where you live or what they think you are worth. We advise our clients to add a personal umbrella to their coverage portfolio. Umbrellas are very inexpensive to add. Premiums are typically from $200 to $400per year for the first additional $1,000,000 in coverage. They tend to go down as the coverage goes up, so you many be able to add a $5,000,000 umbrella for about $1,500 per year. The likelihood of having a large claim is small, but for the cost and protection, it is extremely wise to add an umbrella. Protection from opportunists is priceless. 

Loyalty is an amazing quality and most people are loyal to their insurance agents. However, there comes a point when you may outgrow your insurance agent. Your agent, especially if they are not independent with many company choices, may not be properly equipped to guide you through your exposures and insurance needs. You have worked very hard to get where you have to lose it because you were not adequately insured.

It's nice to be able to say that you are a millionaire, but it's even better to stay one. Consult with us on protecting your family and assets or let us know if you have any questions about personal umbrellas. We will be happy to provide a review of your exposures and help manage your risk like we have for our private clients for decades. 

Insuring Your Teen Driver

Well the kids are back to school and some of you parents may be dealing with new drivers this year. You knew the time would come and have probably been dreading it since you bought them their first baby teething key set. What you may be dreading just as much is the effect it will have on your insurance. This blog entry will not go into depth on the dangers of teen driving and risk management of your new driver; we're sure you're already giving them your own lessons on that. This will help describe some of the things you can to to protect your insurance rates while protecting your teen driver.

  1. Focus on grades. Most carriers have a "good student discount" where 3.0 GPA's or better students can receive hefty discounts. Encourage your kids to keep their grade high not only for obvious reasons, but for the savings as well!
  2. Choose the right vehicle. Even if you can afford to get your child a new car and they beg you for one, consider getting a used vehicle that you can afford to self insure for physical damage. There are great and safe used vehicles that will help save hundreds of insurance premium dollars per year vs. a new model. 
  3. Limit Usage. Most carriers will rate based on annual mileage. Make a commitment with your teen to limit their driving and check the mileage with them regularly. Carriers are cracking down on tracking mileage and may require proof anyway. This is a good way to keep premium down and limit chance for a loss. Work up from a school only commute to limited personal use once they have proven their abilities. 
  4. Limit passengers. This is easier said than done, but do your best to enforce 1-2 only. In California, 16-18 year old drivers are only allowed to drive solo or with passengers if there is an adult (25 year old or older) in the vehicle as well. Studies have shown that accidents are far more likely to occur with multiple teens in a vehicle due to distraction (no surprise there...). Limiting passengers will reduce claims, to keep your rates low and protect your children and their friends from injury.
  5. Be sure you are optimizing discounts. Ask you independent agent about discounts available that you may or may not know about. The biggest is the home and auto discount. When rates go up for adding your teen, you want to be sure you are taking advantage of discounts available. 

So what's the average cost to add a teen? In California average rates will rise approximately $1,500 to $2,000 per year. Rates can be higher depending on the vehicle they will be driving. This seems high, but insurance companies know that new drivers cause accidents and charge appropriate premium. Have questions about insuring your teen driver, contact us! BayRisk's personal client department has been insuring Bay Area families for decades and can help.  

Workers Compensation Experience Modification 101

Workers' compensation insurance is a major expense for most businesses. If you're an established business, you probably already know about experience modifications (x-mods). Whether experienced or not, you should familiarize yourself with this important and potentially huge premium saving factor.  Please spend a few minutes to read below about what an Experience Modification is an how it can save or cost you thousands of dollars every year. 

WHAT IS AN EXPERIENCE MODIFICATION?

The Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) is the agency that determines your x-mod based on your actual losses vs. your expected losses. After base rates then your x-mod is then calculated into your premium which will either lower or raise your total premium.

HOW IS AN EXPERIENCE MODIFICATION CALCULATED?  

The formula is actually very complicated... For the sake of this intro session, all you really need to know for now is that if you have little or no losses your x-mod goes down. If you have high losses or frequent losses, your x-mod goes up. If you're REALLY interested and love math, read this. (I dare you!)

DOES AN X-MOD REALLY MATTER?

Yes! An experience modification matters greatly in what you will pay for workers' compensation insurance. This system was designed to reward businesses with favorable claims history and to penalize businesses with poor claim history. Though complicated, it is actually a great system that rewards businesses that are minimizing work related injuries. 

WHAT DOES AN X-MOD LOOK LIKE?

The "pure modification" starts at 100. At 100 you are neither penalized or credited for experience. It is essentially the "break even point". If you have a modification at 80 you would be credited 20%. If you have a modification of 120 you would be surcharged 20%. If you have an experience modification, contact us and we will gladly locate your WCIRB Risk Summary Report and provide it to you at no cost. 

HOW DO I GET AN EXPERIENCE MODIFICATION? 

The WCIRB will not issue an experience modification until you have three years of experience and until your premium is at $13,000 per year (base rate). Because it is costly to aggregate loss information from carriers and calculate modifications, the WCIRB will not calculate on small accounts. 

HOW DO I IMPROVE MY EXPERIENCE MODIFICATION?

Okay, so you know all about x-mods and have yours. Whether you are over 100 or under, there is always room for improvement... There are several ways to reduce claims and reduce your experience modification. Here are just a few:

  • Implement a safety manual that all staff must adhere to. 
  • Hold routine safety meeting to discuss procedures and change as needed.
  • Perform background checks for new hires to be sure they are not routine offenders of the workers' compensation insurance system. You do not want to be their next victim...
  • Make sure your equipment is regularly checked and replaced if needed. 
  • Designate a manager as an internal loss control coordinator. Give them the classes and skills they need to help you minimize your losses.

Lastly, work with an insurance broker who understands your business and may have some of the above already available for you to utilize... Hint, hint... Contact us to learn more about workers' compensation insurance and experience modification. For extra credit, you can learn more via this link at the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau

What Does Surplus Lines Insurance Really mean?

We often need to place insurance through "non-admitted" insurance carriers, but don't worry, non-admitted does not mean non-regulated. Our friends at the Surplus Lines Association of California does a great job defining what it means to do business with surplus lines carriers:

The Policy

Surplus line insurance policies are sold by “nonadmitted” carriers through licensed “surplus line brokers.” Other insurance agents and brokers must go to a licensed surplus line brokerage to access non-admitted carriers. When such companies are on California’s LESLI, (List of Eligible Surplus Line Insurers) they are regulated.

The State Of California

Since 1937, The Surplus Line Association of California, a nonprofit statutory advisory organization, has monitored surplus lines and advised the California Department of Insurance (CDI) regarding non-admitted carriers and surplus line brokers to protect California companies and citizens.

Non-Admitted Or Surplus Line

Non-admitted does not mean non-regulated. Nonadmitted carriers on the LESLI have been reviewed and approved by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) for surplus line insurance in California. Non-admitted carriers on the LESLI are actually “admitted” insurance carriers in their state or country of domicile

other than California. Surplus lines have been written by non-admitted carriers since the 1800’s, and generally are used when a risk is unusual, unusually large or when coverage is not available from carriers licensed in California.

Solvency Regulations

Non-admitted insurers on the LESLI must demonstrate to the State of California their financial stability, reputation and integrity; maintain a minimum of $15 million in capital and surplus at all times; have 3 years seasoning (or qualify for an exception); have a valid license to transact insurance in their domicile; file financial information with the Department of Insurance and adhere to specific capitalization, investment and solvency standards established under the California Insurance Code.

California Law

The California Department of Insurance (CDI) is the official regulatory agency for insurance in California, including the surplus line industry. The Surplus Line Association of California is officially a nonprofit advisory organization, which performs statutory duties for the CDI. The Association’s recommendations

are considered and incorporated into the legally binding decisions of the CDI when appropriate.

LESLI

California’s LESLI was first issued by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) in 1995. Licensed surplus line brokers are forbidden by law from using non-admitted insurers that are not on the LESLI (with narrow exceptions). Make sure your carrier is on the LESLI!

Non-Admitted Means…

  • Insurance carriers not licensed by the State of California (also called “surplus line carriers”)
  • Carriers on the LESLI (are actually “admitted” insurance carriers, licensed in a state or country of domicile other than California)
  • Carriers that must meet strict surplus line laws and regulations in order to provide insurance to California businesses and residents
  • Carriers regulated by their state or country of domicile, including stringent requirements regarding reputation and integrity, capitalization and solvency, licensing and business practice

What Is The Surplus Line Association Of California?

  • A nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization, the Association has been working with the California Department of Insurance (CDI), since 1937, to maintain a responsive and lawful California surplus line market 
  • The Association performs statutory duties within the California insurance industry under the direction and supervision of the CDI

 What is the LESLI?

  • The "List of Eligible Surplus Lines Insurers"
  • Established and regulated by the CDI
  • Monitored by The Surplus Lines Assiciation of California

Who Regulates Surplus Lines Transactions In California?

  • CDI legally regulates transactions
  • SLA monitors and advises
  • Brokers and agents have strict compliance responsibilities to promote and protect consumer awareness

Summary

The Surplus Line Association is charged with and committed to the protection of California consumers of surplus lines of insurance. It is the only organization with an advisory and statutory relationship with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) regarding such transactions. A nonprofit organization, the Association has been working with the CDI, since 1937, to maintain a responsive and lawful California surplus line market. This document is an introduction to the market, its participants, regulations and the role of the Association as it works to protect you. 

A full copy of the brochure by the SLACA can be viewed here. If you have any questions about Surplus Lines policies or non-admitted insurance carriers, please feel free to contact us.

Employee Fatigue a Silent Risk In the Workplace

How Employers Can Help Prevent Employee Fatigue

Employee fatigue issues should be handled with the same care and attention as other job-related hazards. Here are some helpful tips to keep employees awake, alert and safe on the job.

  • Vary work tasks throughout the day.
  • Offer regular breaks during the workday, so employees can reenergize and refocus on their workload.
  • Switch to blue-enriched white lighting in the office. Research indicates that cognition-enhancing blue light during the day improves mood, concentration, productivity, and the quality of sleep at night.
  • Create a company sleep challenge. Talk about a fun way to engage in friendly competition. Employees can use an activity tracker (e.g., Fitbit) or an app (e.g., Sleep Cycle) and log the number of hours slept each night.
  • Always encourage employees to notify a department manager or supervisor if they feel fatigued during the workday or otherwise not able to complete their work.

Meetings on the Move

Statistics show that when people walk 45-60 minutes per day, they sleep better at night. With this is mind, many companies conduct employee meetings while walking on an indoor track. This novel idea not only increases workplace productivity and employee engagement, it also creates a healthier company culture.

Educate Your Employees

Employers can also minimize the risks of workplace fatigue through employee education. Explain to employees the dangers posed to themselves and others while working when overly tired. Encourage them to develop and maintain a healthy sleep routine with the following tips.

  • Make sleep a priority. Go to bed at the same (and reasonable) time each day.
  • Eat light, nutritious meals and avoid eating or snacking right before bedtime.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Minimize their consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Practice relaxation techniques after a long day and before going to sleep.
  • Resist the temptation to read or watch TV in bed.
  • Turn off smartphones, tablets and laptops well before turning off the light.
  • Seek immediate treatment of sleep disorders from a licensed physician.

Employees are likely your most valuable asset for your business. Make sure you take care of them by helping them take care of themselves. Not only will you be helping to avoid work realted injuries, but you will be improving productivity and likely overall job satiffaction. If you can't do all the above yourself as busy business owners, consider bringing in outside consultants to help.