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Monthly Archives

July 2017

Risk Management for Bars, Taverns, Restaurants and Nightclubs

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

Bars, taverns, restaurants and nightclubs face unusual risks. If you own or work at one of these establishments, understand your risks and the risk management insurance you need.

Potential Risks for Bars, Taverns, Restaurants and Nightclubs

While every business is slightly different, there are common risks bars, taverns, restaurants and nightclubs face. They include:

  • Liability if guests or employees fall, slip or are injured
  • Liquor Liability if a guest drinks too much and causes an accident or other liability
  • Food Contamination
  • Fire Hazards
  • Increased Pollution Liability Regulations
  • Theft
  • Assault and Battery

Why Purchase Risk Management Insurance?

Because the risks are high for your bar, tavern, restaurant or nightclub, you need insurance. It covers any injuries, illnesses or liabilities that occur on your property. It also protects your personal assets if you are sued.

How to Purchase Risk Management for Bars, Taverns, Restaurants and Nightclubs

Contact your insurance agent for information on purchasing insurance for your establishment. Qualified businesses include:

  • Neighborhood bars, pubs and taverns
  • Restaurants with high-percentage alcohol sales
  • Craft brewpubs
  • Sports bars
  • Nightclubs and discotheques
  • Wine bars
  • Cocktail lounges
  • Comedy clubs
  • Fraternal Organizations

To ensure you get adequate coverage for your needs, discuss details about your specific establishment with your insurance agent. Factors like how long your employees have worked in the industry and the types of guests you serve can affect the type of insurance you purchase and your insurance premiums.

Ways to Decrease Your Risks

To reduce your risks, protect your staff and patrons, and potentially lower your insurance premiums, follow a few steps.

    1. Enroll managers, servers, door hosts, bouncers and all employees in regular training courses that help them learn techniques that reduce risks. Potential trainings address legal responsibilities when serving alcohol, how to recognize and prevent intoxication and food safety.
    1. Hire experienced staff. Experienced staff are less likely to engage in risky behavior and some insurance companies give lower rates to establishments with staff who have over three years of experience.
    1. Card everyone. This step ensures you don’t serve any minors.
    1. Limit free drink giveaways so you don’t encourage intoxication.
    1. Establish protocols for handling inebriated guests. Your employees should know to call a cab or take other protocols if someone has had drank too much.
    1. Be vigilant about reducing risks. Keep the floor clean, follow safe food guidelines, make repairs right away, ensure there’s adequate outdoor lighting and take other steps to reduce risks around your establishment.

When you understand risk management for bars, taverns, restaurants and nightclubs, you can take the necessary steps to protect your employees and patrons. Talk to your insurance agent for more ideas on managing and reducing your risks.

Social Media: High Risks for Lawsuits

By Employment Resources | No Comments

Most everyone knows that the use of social media has grown by leaps and bounds during the past decade. What many people don’t realize are the unique risks associated with social networking. Anyone using Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or other social networking sites should exercise extreme caution in what they decide to say online.

As an example, in 2009 a teenager in New York sued some of her classmates and their parents, accusing the classmates of bullying and humiliating her in a Facebook Forum. Whether or not the allegations are true, the teenagers and their parents require legal resources to pay for the possible judgments against them.

Many people believe a standard Homeowners insurance policy will cover them in such a situation. In fact, it probably will not provide the necessary coverage. A standard policy covers bodily injury or property damage done to someone else. It defines bodily injury as sickness, harm or disease, and it defines property damage as destruction of or injury to physical property.

Neither definition includes publishing or saying something that injures another person’s reputation. Hence, the policy is not likely to cover a Facebook post. In other words, the policy is unlikely to cover the act of making someone else feel miserable due to social networking.

A good source to consider for additional coverage is a Personal Umbrella policy. This kind of policy provides additional insurance in circumstances where a loss has depleted the amounts of Liability insurance offered under a Homeowners policy. Umbrella policies usually have a deductible of $250 to $500; but have the potential to protect the policyholder from financial devastation.

As you become more exposed to risk through social networking, choose your words carefully on any social networking site. Additionally, speak with our insurance professionals to see if an Umbrella policy is a good match for your insurance needs in an increasingly risky world.

Avoiding Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

Basic decency during driving can seem hard to come by these days. “Road rage” refers to the ability of perfectly sane people to become angry maniacs when behind the wheel of a car. On average, at least fifteen hundred people including men, women and children are killed or injured each year in America due to aggressive driving. Aggressive driving such as tailgating, cutting off other vehicles, and giving the one-finger salute are unfortunately quite common in the United States.

In fact, the problem of discourtesy when driving is responsible for as much as thirty percent of all traffic collisions. Drivers routinely ignore the basic rules of driving, engaging in overtly aggressive behaviors even to the point of murder. One of the most important situations where discourtesy results in injuries or death to other drivers is in right-of-way situations. Whenever two vehicles are driving along a path that puts them at odds with one another, the problem of right-of-way becomes boiled down to who goes first.

Right-of-way is always granted by the other driver, but the problem becomes exacerbated when drivers do not follow the rules concerning right-of-way. Unfortunately, being legally right does not mean being safe. Drivers who cede their right-of-way to the other driver might actually put themselves at risk.

Consider a common situation where, in congested traffic, a driver wants to be let in to the neighboring lane and the driver gives it to them. Before doing so, the driver must check for traffic coming from the rear. If there are two or more lanes going in the same direction, the driver also has to be aware of drivers passing him on the left, since the other driver could pass into that left lane.

Other drivers who are not aware of the first driver may not understand that they are yielding their right-of-way. Drivers must also remember to consider alternate routes. Sometimes avoiding left turns altogether can be the best choice. If a driver has missed a turn and needs to get back to the intersection, performing a U-turn might actually be very dangerous.

When you head it on the road today set an example, so that other drivers can be reassured that there is at least someone who is attempting to drive responsibly.

Why Should I Get Insurance That Isn’t Required?

By Other | No Comments

State laws or lenders require people and businesses to buy certain types of insurance. Most states require Automobile Liability insurance on all registered vehicles. If the vehicles are financed, the lenders will require the owners to carry Collision and Fire coverage. Employers have to carry Workers Compensation in most states. Mortgage lenders require borrowers to insure their buildings against loss by fire and other perils. In certain areas at high risk of flooding, lenders might require them to buy Flood insurance as well.

However, many kinds of insurance are not required by anyone. In Texas, employers can opt out of buying Workers Compensation coverage. Although nearly all businesses use computer networks, no laws or lenders require them to buy insurance against damage to their systems or damages others might suffer because of a problem with their networks. State laws do not require employers to carry Employment Practices Liability coverage.

Lenders normally do not require people who live in low-risk flood zones to buy Flood coverage. No laws require businesses to buy Umbrella policies, which provide additional liability insurance above standard Liability and Auto policies. This begs a question: If an individual or business is not required to buy certain types of insurance, should they skip them?

The reasons for passing on non-mandatory insurance are compelling. Although the future occurrence of a loss is uncertain, the cost of an insurance premium is not. Insurance can cost significant amounts of money that many people would rather put to other uses.

Further, people might believe that they are unlikely to have some types of losses and therefore do not need insurance against them. Many businesses do not carry Cyber Liability insurance for this reason. People who do not live near bodies of water often do not even think about Flood insurance. Some types of insurance can also be difficult to get. In parts of the U.S. prone to earthquakes, the market for Earthquake coverage is very limited.

There are good reasons for buying insurance even if it’s not required. Many of these policies cover jury awards in injury and damage cases, and those awards can be substantial.

Consider the following awards that would likely be covered by Employment Practices Liability insurance: 

A jury awarded $934,000 in damages to a deaf man fired by the convenience store that employed him.

An Alabama man who was fired after complaining about his employer to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was awarded $314,000.

A jury ordered an employer to pay $900,000 to a Cleveland woman for discriminating against her because of her age.

Umbrella policies would come in handy is situations like these: 

A woman who suffered injuries when she fell in a store was awarded $3.2 million.

A jury awarded $11.7 million to an elevator mechanic who was injured while working on a construction site.

People and businesses who think they don’t need Flood insurance might want to reconsider. Floods can result from melting snow and water main breaks as well as rainfall. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, people outside of high-risk areas file over 20% of Flood insurance claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding. The agency estimates that as little as one inch of floodwater in a 2,000 square foot home can cause up to $21,000 in damage.

For these reasons, it is wise to at least consider buying insurance that no one requires. One of our professional insurance agents can answer questions and help you weigh the costs and benefits of buying extra coverage. Going without insurance can be a very costly mistake. Just because it’s not required doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it.

Where Did Our Data Go?

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

During recent months I’ve been reading a large number of lawsuits related to industrial espionage, sabotage, misappropriation, and theft. Most of these cases involve a current or former employee or some third party stealing valuable financial or other information.

In several recent decisions, courts have ruled that they lack criminal jurisdiction over theft of information by an employee who had access to a company’s data base. The courts essentially held that the misappropriation in question did not violate the National Stolen Property Act, the Economic Espionage Act, or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

In the case of US v. Nosal, Judge Kozinski, known for his left-of-center opinions, engaged in a display of semantic gymnastics to rule that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was nothing more than an anti-hacking statute and doesn’t apply to misappropriation. Essentially, he argued that employees who wasted time on Farmville, Facebook, New York Times, daily Sudoku, etc. would be in violation of the Act, which is too broad for the government to enforce. If you want to see some feathers fly in a scorching dissent, read the case.

Bottom line: Make sure to buy Cyber Liability insurance; it looks like you’re going to have a hard time getting protection from the courts, especially if you happen to be in the Ninth Circuit.

Cyber Risks for Temporary Staffing Agencies

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

Temporary staffing agencies specialize in connecting client employers and employees. Whether you work in a staffing agency or are a potential client or temporary employee, discover cyber risks for temporary staffing agencies as you protect yourself.

Personal Information

Digital information theft has become almost more common than physical theft. Since the majority of staffing agencies make connections online, a variety of personal and confidential information found on cover letters, resumes and job descriptions is at risk, including:

  • Social security numbers
  • Addresses, current and former
  • Former employers
  • Other identifiable information

If this data is compromised or stolen, the agency is liable.

Breach by a Temporary Employee

Once a temporary employee is placed in a job, the staffing agency remains responsible for that employee. If the employee steals information or causes a security breach, the staffing agency could be held liable.

Breach by a Partner Employer

A partner employer may not use strict security measures. That means the agency or temporary employee’s information could be at risk or the temporary employee could easily breach the network and steal confidential information. In that case, the staffing agency could be liable.

How to Combat Cyber Risks for Temporary Staffing Agencies

Now that you know the cyber risks, learn how to combat them.

Purchase cyber insurance.

As a temporary staffing agency, make sure your cyber insurance policy us up-to-date. Ask your partner employers to purchase cyber coverage, too, that covers both full-time and temporary employees.

Secure information.

Resumes, cover letters and all data must remain secure. Use data encryption and update your IT security system, including software and passwords, regularly.

Review your errors and omissions coverage.

An E & O insurance policy protects the staffing agency if they’re negligent in recruiting, hiring or placement. However, it may exclude claims related to network security or privacy breaches, so review your Errors and Omissions coverage to ensure you’re protected.

Communicate regularly.

An open communication policy with partner employers and temporary employees ensures everyone feels comfortable sharing concerns. It also allows you to follow up and ensure everyone follows security procedures.

Write a clear Employee Handbook.

Ensure all your staff and temporary employees know the proper procedures for maintaining privacy and securing data.

Establish responsibility.

When a breach occurs, you have to decide who has responsibility. It could be the temp agency, the employer or the employee. Be clear in your contract for each job about who has responsibility.

When you know the potential cyber risks for a temporary staffing agency, you can take steps to protect the agency, client employers and temporary employees. Discuss your specific needs with your insurance agent as you purchase the right cyber insurance coverage and protect your assets.

Cyber Risks and Hacking Threats to Self-Driving Car

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

Self-driving cars are projected to be available via mass market by 2020. These vehicles are becoming more popular because they reduce accidents, congestion and fuel consumption, increase rider productivity and improve mobility. Despite these benefits, self-driving cars are at risk for cyber and hacking threats that can cause accidents, create chaos or perpetrate terroristic acts. Learn more about the cyber risks and hacker threats to self-driving cars as you prepare for the future.

How do Self-Driving Cars Work?

The technology that makes self-driving cars work is pretty amazing. Each vehicle is equipped with technological components, such as cameras, radar, sonar, LiDAR, GPS and sensors, that instruct the car on how to behave and where to go. The car also connects to a system that gives it information about its surroundings.

Ways Cyber Risks and Hacker Threats Compromise Self-Driving Cars

The same technology that operates a self-driving car also makes it vulnerable to cyber risks and hacker threats. If any part of the self-driving car’s connection or system is compromised, the car will perform improperly. Even an attack on a passenger’s personal smartphone, tablet or laptop could potentially interfere with the vehicle.

There are three distinct phases to a cyber attack on a self-driving car.

    1. Hackers access a car’s electronic control unit.
    1. They inject incorrect code into the unit.
    1. The car malfunctions and improperly brakes, moves in an unexpected direction, runs into objects or people, stops in the middle of the road or is taken over by a malicious person.

Solutions to Self-Driving Car Cyber Risks and Hack Threats

Manufacturers, researchers and security specialists take cyber risks and hack threats seriously. They’re working hard to overcome the obstacles and make self-driving cars safer for everyone.

One example is the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC). Manufacturers share threat data that’s used to correct components, networks and systems, reducing cyber risks and threats to self-driving cars.

Also, groups like the Cyber Statecraft Initiative for the Atlantic Council test vehicles and determine potential security flaws. Also known as white-hat hacking, they have discovered ways to hack into every major car system, including the windshield wipers, air conditioning unit, engine and transmission. Their findings make self-driving cars less vulnerable and more secure.

Manufactures are also investigating system updates. Right now, owners must visit the dealership for software updates. Researchers are working on reducing this delay and finding a more efficient way to perform these and other essential updates.

Researchers are also analyzing the GPS. At the first signs of erratic driving or other signs of a hack, someone can then notify authorities to access the vehicle’s system and prevent an accident or damage.

No one can anticipate a cyber attack or hack. However, the vehicle industry can secure its network and take steps to prevent cyber risks and hacking threats to self-driving cars.

Is Your Business Exposed?

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

The September 11 terrorist attacks caused immense loss of life, human suffering, and property destruction, particularly at the World Trade Center in New York City. The insurance losses from injuries and property damage were very large. However, the losses resulting from businesses in the area having to shut down for extended periods of time were huge. Businesses filed nearly 5,500 business interruption claims for more than $12 billion following 9/11. For many organizations, the loss of income coupled with continuing expenses after a fire or other disaster can be even more devastating than the damage itself.

To increase the chances that a loss will not shut operations down permanently, organizations must assess their exposures accurately by asking some questions.

What is the most the organization could lose from a shutdown? 

Commercial Property insurance policies define “loss of income” as the sum of the expected pre-tax profit or loss and necessary continuing expenses. For example, if the expected profit is $300,000 and necessary continuing expenses are $100,000, the potential loss of income is $400,000. To calculate their exposure to business interruption losses, organizations should refer to their balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and cash flow statements. Insurance companies also have worksheets available to assist with the calculation.

How much insurance should be carried? 

Once the organization knows the dollar amount of its exposure, it must decide how much Business Interruption insurance to buy. The key considerations are the length of time the insurance is likely to apply and the coinsurance percentage the organization must meet. Coverage usually begins 72 hours following the damage to the property and ends when business resumes at another location or when the building should be repaired with reasonable speed, whichever occurs first. If the organization decided that the coverage period would be around six months, it could buy an amount of insurance that would satisfy a 50% coinsurance requirement. If the interruption would last longer, higher coinsurance percentage and limits would be necessary.

How long will it take business to return to normal? 

Even after operations resume, it could be some time before revenue returns to normal levels. Customers who had gone elsewhere during the shutdown might be slow to return. The standard insurance policy extends coverage for 30 days after operations resume, but some businesses might need more time than that, especially if their businesses are seasonal. For example, a seaside restaurant in New Jersey that makes most of its profits during the summer will need additional coverage even if it can re-open in November.

How much of the normal payroll expense will continue during the shutdown? 

The organization will need the continuing services of some employees while it attempts to re-open, but other employees might not be necessary. For example, accounting staff will be needed to pay mandatory expenses such as property taxes and collect receivables earned before the shutdown. Employees who stock shelves will not be needed if there are no shelves to stock.

Does the business depend on other businesses for revenue? 

A business can suffer a loss even if its own building is untouched. A loss that shuts down a key customer or supplier or damage to nearby property that causes authorities to close off access to the street can devastate a business’s bottom line (this happened to many businesses affected by 9/11). Special insurance coverage is available to protect against this possibility. Our professional insurance agents can help you answer these questions and identify insurance companies that can meet coverage needs. With some effort and planning before a loss happens, an organization can emerge from a shut down and return to profitability.

What is Occupational Hazard Insurance?

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

Almost any job can be risky, but some jobs are more dangerous than others.  Occupational Hazard Insurance offers invaluable coverage for anyone who works in a dangerous job. Learn more about Occupational Hazard Insurance, especially if you work in a dangerous occupation.

What is Occupational Hazard Insurance?

Your risk of injury or death increases when you work in a dangerous job. Occupational Hazard Insurance provides financial resources to you or your loved ones if you suffer an injury or die while performing your job. It’s protective coverage that gives you peace of mind.

Who is Eligible for Occupational Hazard Insurance?

Employees who work in dangerous occupations are eligible for Occupational Hazard Insurance. However, each insurance carrier has different eligibility requirements.

Typically, you must be between 18 and 70 years of age to qualify for the coverage. Additionally, you may be required to undergo occupational training. Other special requirements can include licensing or a specific business model. For example, truck drivers must have a valid license and be self-employed or work as independent contractors to obtain this insurance.

How Much Occupational Hazard Insurance do you Need?

Every state implements different regulations for Occupational Hazard Insurance. Check your state’s requirements to ensure you purchase enough coverage.

You’ll also want to purchase enough coverage for your needs. Be sure your policy covers your regular bills or is enough to give your survivors adequate financial resources to meet their needs and maintain financial security.

What are the Benefits of Occupational Hazard Insurance?

Most Occupational Hazard Insurance coverage includes several benefits. Check your policy for details. In general, a policy will cover:

  • Accident-related medical and dental expenses
  • Accidental death or dismemberment
  • Temporary or permanent disability
  • Reduction in disability income
  • Severe burn benefit
  • Paralysis
  • Survivors benefits

How Much Does Occupational Hazard Insurance Cost?

Expect to pay more for an Occupational Hazard Insurance policy since you are working in a dangerous job and the insurance company takes a big risk in insuring you. Additionally, other factors affect your premium. They include your:

  • Age
  • Industry
  • Safety history
  • Amount of coverage
  • Type of coverage

Your insurance carrier may also consider other factors when determining the cost of your premium. Discuss the details with your agent.

You may also wish to shop around. Compare policies and costs as you find the right Occupational Hazard Insurance for your budget and needs.

Occupational Hazard Insurance gives you financial resources if you’re injured or die on the job. It’s valuable coverage, so discern your needs and options before you work another day.

The Importance of Proper Safety Training

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

This real-life case reinforces the need for every business to provide OSHA-required training.

A West Virginia company assigned a new employee – call him Jim – to drive a forklift, even though he had no experience or training in forklift operation “There’s nothing to it,” his supervisor told Jim. “It’s just like driving a car.” However, his first few weeks on the job turned out to be bumpy. Several times on each shift, while driving the forklift, he would knock things over. Although the supervisor warned Jim to be more careful, he continued to bump his way through the workday, leaving a trail of destruction wherever he went.

About three weeks after being hired, Jim’s supervisor instructed him to drive down a narrow aisle between two rows of stacked, loaded pallets. After objecting, Jim reluctantly proceeded down the aisle. His left foot, which was dangling outside the forklift where it shouldn’t have been, became pinned between the forklift and the wall of pallets. Jim suffered multiple fractures of the foot, together with a badly twisted knee; both injuries required surgery. Instead of going back to work, Jim went to court, filing suit against his employer and his supervisor for negligence.

His argument was clear: The company and his supervisor failed to provide safety training that could have prevented the accident. Jim’s attorney told the court that, although OSHA regulations mandated specific training, testing, and certification for forklift operators, the company had not trained, tested, or certified him. This meant that Jim should not have been operating a forklift – and if he hadn’t been doing so, the accident would not have taken place.

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia agreed, ruling there was sufficient evidence to prove that both the employer and the supervisor were negligent. When they hired the employee; they knew that federal law required proper training or certification of forklift operators. Allowing Jim to drive a forklift without proper training was an act of negligence.

The message: Failure to provide OSHA-required training is a huge mistake. Whenever you hire new employees or assign workers to new jobs with new hazards, make sure that they receive proper training from the get-go. Never allow an employee to operate dangerous equipment or perform any other hazardous job until they have completed the required training and demonstrated competence, as well as understanding the hazards and necessary precautions.