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3 years ago · by · 0 comments

STUDY DIAGNOSES HEALTH OF WELLNESS PROGRAMS

Although more than three in four businesses offer their employees wellness programs, fewer than half believe that these programs provide an effective return on investment (ROI). That’s the bottom line on a recent nationwide survey by Business Insurance of more than 300 companies.

Check out these highlights from the study:

  • More than nine in ten respondents (93%) describe their programs as “extremely successful,” “very successful,” or “somewhat successful.”
  • More than four in five (81%) measure the success of their programs primarily by employee participation rates, while more than two in three (68%) rely on feedback from employees.
  • The great majority (85% of public companies and 70% of privately held firms and nonprofits) offer employees money or other incentives linked to participation in their programs.
  • Nearly three in four (59%) see improving employee health as the main objective of their program.
  • Fewer than one in three (28%) focus on reducing health care costs.

Experts say that employers can improve their ROI (directly or indirectly) from wellness programs by shifting focus from broadly-based activities (on-site health screenings and immunizations, weight-loss and stop-smoking programs, etc.) to individual health care — such as personal coaching, workplace safety evaluations, wellness newsletters, and classes on stress management and nutrition.

Companies can also boost their ROI by evaluating their programs at least once a year. The Business Insurance survey found that nearly one in three respondents (32%) failed to measure the participation rate or effectiveness of their programs on an annual basis.

If you’d like a comprehensive review of the benefits your employee wellness program provides, just get in touch with us.

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3 years ago · by · 0 comments

ACCOMMODATING PREGNANCY IN THE WORKPLACE

Although many women work through their pregnancies without difficulty, some of them with physically demanding jobs or complicated pregnancies might seek accommodation at some point. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not define pregnancy as a disability or disorder, but as a natural process related to reproduction.

If pregnancy is not a disability, are pregnant women entitled to accommodation? What about women with pregnancy-related impairments? Are they covered by the ADA Does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) entitle pregnant women to the accommodations they need to continue working during pregnancy? Are there state laws that entitle pregnant women to accommodation? These are the types of questions are being examined by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and other women’s legal organizations. According to NWLC, both the ADA and the PDA often require reasonable accommodation for pregnancy.

Let’s start with the ADA. The regulations interpreting the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) state that pregnancy-related impairments can meet the definition of disability if they substantially limit a major life activity. Pregnant employees with impairments that meet the definition of disability will be entitled to an accommodation under the ADA. Because the ADAAA has broadened the definition of disability to include many temporary and less severe impairments, more workers with pregnancy-related impairments will now qualify for direct coverage.

In addition, the interaction between the PDA and the ADA will often result in a heightened duty to accommodate even pregnant employees who do not meet the ADA’s definition of disability. NWLC argues that the PDA requires employers to treat pregnant women at least as well as other employees with similar limitations in their ability to work. Because the ADA requires employers to accommodate a wider variety of medical conditions, pregnant women will often have similar limitations to people who are entitled to accommodations under the act – which means that they’ll be entitled to accommodations as well. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has made it clear that the ADA requires reasonable accommodation of a temporary back injury that leaves an employee unable to lift 20 pounds for a few months. Because pregnant workers must be treated as well as employees with similar work limitations, a worker who has been instructed not to lift weights of more than 20 pounds because of her pregnancy must also be accommodated, according to NWLC.

To ensure that employers’ legal obligations to provide accommodations are unmistakable, the NWLC and a broad coalition of groups from the health, disability, and women’s rights communities are urging Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) – draft legislation which states that pregnant women are entitled to reasonable accommodations that can be provided without undue hardship to an employer. These are the same types of accommodations that are available to people with disabilities under the ADA. In addition, some state laws already give pregnant workers’ rights to workplace accommodations, as described in a recent report by Equal Rights Advocates.

Accommodating pregnant employees is also in the financial interest of employers. The NWLC provides several sound business reasons why employers should accommodate their pregnant employees in the same way that they do for workers with disabilities. Data show that the costs of these accommodations are likely to be minimal, and that providing them will have bottom- line benefits to the employer: including reduced workforce turnover, increased employee satisfaction and productivity, and lower Workers Compensation and other insurance costs.

Despite the legal and financial arguments, some employers are still not accommodating pregnant employees. This is why the EEOC recently identified “accommodating pregnancy-related limitations under the ADAAA and the PDA” as a priority area for itsenforcement efforts through 2016.

If you are an employee who was not accommodated during your pregnancy or you believe you were discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy, the NWLC would like you to share your story. Employers interested in sharing their experiences accommodating pregnant employees or in consulting about best practices are also invited to contact NWLC, at pregnancyandwork@nwlc.org.

Keep in mind that when it comes to providing accommodation ideas, Job Accommodation Network (JAN) consultants will brainstorm accommodation ideas for anyone with any type of limitation, including limitations related to pregnancy, whether or not the ADA covers the condition. So, if you’re an employer trying to accommodate pregnant employees, or a pregnant employee looking for accommodation ideas to offer your employer, feel free to contact JAN for assistance!

-Linda Carter Batiste, J.D.,

Principal Consultant with comments from the National Women’s Law Center

P.S. Speaking of job accommodations, HRThatWorks members can join us for a joint webinar with JAN on Providing Accommodations for Employees with Mental Health Impairments, to be held March 20th at 1PM EST by going tohttps://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/324256449.

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3 years ago · by · 0 comments

Why Coinsurance Makes Sense

4

Insurance spreads the risk of loss among every policyholder and the insurance company.

The “coinsurance clause” in a Business Property policy reflects the fact that the coverage divides this risk by setting premiums based primarily on the value of the property. Those who insure their property for less than its actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost will have to pay the uninsured portion of any covered loss out of their own pocket — in other words, “coinsuring” the risk — which encourages policyholders to buy coverage for the full value of their property.

The coinsurance clause usually requires policyholders to insure their property for 80% of its ACV. For example, if the property of your business is worth $500,000, you would need to purchase a $400,000 policy. If a fire caused $300,000 worth of damage, the insurance company would pay $240,000 (80% of $300,000), leaving you to pick up the other $60,000. However, if you had purchased the full $500,000 in ACV coverage — paying a higher premium — the insurer would cover the entire $300,000 claim.

We’d be happy to discuss the benefits that the coinsurance clause offers. Feel free to give us a call.

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3 years ago · by · 0 comments

Damage To Your Company’s Reputation?

2Identifying and preventing the incidences that might harm your firm’s reputation can be a challenge at best.

The explosive expansion of Web-based communications and social media has aggravated the risks of reputational damage, while dramatically reducing response time to counter these threats.

According to Reputation Review 2012, a report from Oxford Metrica sponsored by Aon P.L.C., a public company runs an 80% chance of suffering a reputational risk that can cost at least 20% of its equity value in any month over a five-year period. Privately held companies face similar risks.

These exposures can come from a wide variety of sources, from product safety and unhappy customers to regulatory pressures and behavior by managers. Examples include recent massive breaches of consumer data held by major financial institutions, and the effect on companies that faced supply chain disruptions or radiation fears after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011 — not to mention the impact of that year’s outbreak of listeria in cantaloupes. Although this infection came from a single farm, other producers (and even companies selling different types of melons) suffered a loss of reputation.

With reputational risks coming in various and sometimes unpredictable forms, experts recommend that you help protect yourself by:

  • Creating an “early warning system” to monitor print, electronic, and social media for negative references to the company.
  • Evaluating whether a negative comment should have a response (not every tweet or Facebook post matters).
  • Getting frontline employees involved in responding to reputational threats, rather than having top management and PR staff deal with them.

Our agency’s experts stand ready at any time to help you discuss your risk, review potential scenarios, and then build and test a plan for dealing with events that threaten your reputation.

Having an effective plan to deal with these threats can actually improve your company’s reputation.

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3 years ago · by · 0 comments

Curbing Corporate Identity Theft: A Three-Step Approach

2In the controversial Citizens United case, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have rights similar to those of an individual. It follows that they have identities and are vulnerable to identity theft.

Although insurance offers one way to manage this risk, it might well be a long time before a company discovers the theft — at which point, it would be too late. To avoid or minimize the danger of having your corporate identity stolen, we’d recommend a three-step approach:

  1. Storing sensitive information. Sensitive files and information (credit card numbers, medical data, Social Security numbers, etc.) might be stored on computers, external drives, filing cabinets, or mobile devices. It’s wise to consolidate and secure this data either physically behind lock and key or by using electronic network security measures. Be sure to train employees on handling, storing, and disposing of this type of information properly.
  2. Your business documentation. Identity thieves might use highly sophisticated or surprisingly elementary and low-tech techniques for delving into a company’s records and misappropriating them. These might include intercepting paper mail, stealing trash, or physically taking documents. To safeguard this information, determine what records you need to run the business, inventory them, and use electronic statements to limit the amount of mail containing company information. Never share financial details or documents through e-mail!
  3. Credit reports. Check your company’s credit reports regularly for unusual charges or bills.

The Federal Trade Commission (http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus69-protecting-personal-information-guide-business) provides a variety of resources you can use to help protect your corporate identity and confidential customer information against identity thieves.

Our agency’s professionals would be happy to offer their help — just give us a call.

 

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3 years ago · by · 0 comments

Home, Sweet (Temporary) Home

1If a disaster covered under your Homeowners insurance wrecks your home, you don’t have to couch-surf until repairs are finished.

The standard Homeowners policy will pay for loss of use or Additional Living Expenses (ALE) – such as rental and hotel costs – while your dwelling remains uninhabitable

Check out these guidelines for using this valuable coverage:

  1. Know the amount of your ALE. The Homeowners policy caps additional expenses as a portion of the Dwelling coverage (usually 20%) and sets a time limit, such as 12 months. If you believe that you’ll need more coverage, increase the amount before disaster strikes.
  2. Look for comparable digs. Staying in a hotel gets old rapidly, so you’ll want to get settled quickly. However, don’t decide too soon – you’re entitled to stay in a place that’s comparable in size and quality to your house.
  3. Count all your extra expenses. In addition to the cost of housing, don’t overlook other expenditures – everything from restaurant meals while living in a hotel and fees for boarding pets to the expense of coin-operated laundry and extra mileage for driving further to work.
  4. Remember that the key word for ALE is “additional.” The insurance company can deduct any money you save from living in temporary housing (such as the amount you would have spent on groceries from your reimbursement for restaurant meals while you’re staying at the hotel).
  5. Keep your receipts. The insurance company will generally reimburse you for expenses as they’re incurred, rather than paying a lump sum. Keep meticulous records of every expenditure, save all your receipts – and store them in a waterproof, zippered pouch.

For more information on your Additional Living Expenses coverage, please feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

 

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

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783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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