Since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, benefit providers have been adding Vision and Dental care, giving mid-market companies a variety of choices among competitively priced plans that can help attract and retain quality workers. “We continue to see that benefits like these are good for driving employee loyalty and job satisfaction,” says Alan Hirschberg, vice president of dental and vision products for MetLife Inc.
Sales of Voluntary benefits keep growing: a survey last by industry association LIMRA International, Inc. showed that Vision coverage increased 75% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2012, while Dental care rose 1%.
To help curb costs, mid-sized businesses often ask employees to pick up at least 30% of premiums for these plans. Most workers are fine with this because the premiums are relatively inexpensive.
In addition to supplementing Group Health insurance, Vision and Dental plans cover tests and procedures that can reduce employers’ health care costs down the road. For example, eye and dental exams can be crucial in early detection and management of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
When it comes to Voluntary benefits, one size does not fit all. For instance, highly compensated employees might want a Dental plan that covers adult orthodontics, while lower-wage workers might prefer coverage for cleaning, fillings and other basic care. Companies can also offer multiple plans, allowing workers to select the premiums and coverage they prefer.
We’d be happy to work with you in tailoring cost-effective, comprehensive voluntary Vision and Dental plans that can benefit your business – and your employees.
Nearly one of four people aged 64 to 75 are still at work – and the number is skyrocketing, with more Baby Boomers who reach retirement age staying in the workplace. The good news: Older workers have a lower injury rate. The bad news: Their injuries tend to be more serious and require more time away from work.
Senior workers have specific safety issues. Their retention is often shorter, they’re more easily distracted, have slower reaction time, declining vision and hearing, and a poorer sense of balance. These physical limitations lead to specific types of injuries for older workers, ranging from falls to accumulated injuries after years of doing the same task What’s more, they sometimes deny their deteriorating abilities, which can lead to them to trying to work past their new limits.
Indicators that older workers might need accommodations can be physical (fatigue or tripping), psychological/emotional (loss of patience or irritability), numbers and patterns of sick days, or more frequent minor injuries or near misses.
You can help protect your senior workers by:
- finding ways for them to work smarter, not harder
- decreasing activities that require exertion, such as working in heat or cold or climbing ladders
- adjusting work areas with better lighting, reduced noise, fewer obstacles, and less need to bend or stoop
- redefining standards of productivity
- learning the limitations of older workers, perhaps by conducting annual hearing or vision tests
Make sure that safety culture becomes an institutional value for all employees. For example, when on-the-job feedback indicates that an older worker is having trouble, don’t fire the person. This will discourage honest input from employees who might feel responsible for their co-worker’s loss of employment.
For more information on making your workplace safer for older employees, feel free to get in touch with us.
Layoffs during the recession have resulted in a shortage of qualified workers in specialized areas of construction – and the problem will probably get worse as the industry picks up during the recovery. In this environment, some contractors might be tempted to stretch their hiring standards to fill out a project roster, increasing the danger of losses from on-site injuries and defect claims, among other risks.
The past two years have seen a sharp drop in the unemployment rate for former construction workers, but not a corresponding increase in construction industry growth. This means that these workers who have been unemployed are often finding other types of work, becoming full-time students, or have given up looking for a job in the building trades industry.
Because each construction company works in a unique environment and culture, a worker from one firm going to another might not have the required expertise. What’s more, construction is a profession that takes time to learn. Tight profit margins and financial problems can pressure smaller and midsize contractors into cutting corners by hiring inexperienced workers. This increases the risk of on-site accidents and injuries –and leads to poorer quality work that can easily result in costly and annoying defective construction claims (see the article “Construction Managers E&O Insurance: Nobody’s Perfect! ”
In addition as the building industry comes out of the recession, OSHA has become far more aggressive and vigilant in monitoring worker safety.
The bottom line: Avoid the temptation of hiring inexperienced workers as a way to save money, and you’ll keep your risk of on-site accidents and injuries – not to mention your insurance premiums – under control. What’s not to like?
No matter how large or small the job in the building trade is, it’s always the best policy to carry insurance again liability for losses from injuries, accidents, or property damage during construction.
Residential building contractors need a Liability policy to protect them from lawsuits from homeowners for construction-related losses, or from workers injured on the job. Make sure that your contract requires every sub to carry their own Liability insurance and exempt you from responsibility from damage they might produce during construction. The amount of coverage you need will depend on the size of the contract. As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to have two or three times the size of the project budget.
Commercial contractors usually carry millions in Liability insurance. Contractors with higher risk of damages (for example, roofers or contractors in highly specialized trades) often take out higher coverage.
Your Liability policy will set coverage amounts (limits) for both each occurrence and overall (aggregate) values. Limits are also set for: 1) fire damage to property under construction; 2) medical expenses for injured workers on the jobsite who might not be covered under Workers Compensation; and 3) personal and advertising injury (claims that promotion or advertising caused a financial or personal loss to the owner of the home or building).
While many contractors pay their Liability premiums up front, those with cash flow problems others prefer to finance them through an indemnity corporation with a down payment and monthly payments over six months to a year.
As always, our insurance experts stand ready to help you find comprehensive Liability coverage at a rate you can afford. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time.
An increasing number of employees in the “Sandwich Generation” are looking for benefits to help them manage the demands of caring for parents and children alike. A recent nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly half of respondents in their 40s and 50s have a living parent and are either raising a young child or supporting a grown one.
“There’s an emerging recognition of the impact of caregiver stress on working parents’ ability to be productive at home and at work,” says David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons, a provider of dependent back-up care services. “Particularly as families wait longer to have children, there’s more at stake in their careers and they’re pulled in many directions, dealing with the realities of their aging parents.”
On average, access to Bright Horizons allowed employees to work six days during the past six months – productive time that otherwise would have been lost – and nearly 70% of these workers used the service for adult care.
Care.com, another provider of backup care services for employees, saw a three-fold increase last year in the number of clients that added senior care planning. IRobot, Inc. chose Care.com as an employee benefit because “we value our employees and want to support them in managing the demands on their personal lives,” says benefits analyst Cathy Blanchard. Since adding the service, iRobot has seen a 15% month-to -month increase in using the program, which has boosted productivity by reducing costs from care-related absences and distractions.
If you’d like to learn more about offering day care for adults and children as an employee benefit, just give us a call.
Benefits experts have usually focused on the role of management in implementing programs that improve employees’ flexibility in balancing their life and work. However, researchers are now calling on workers to take the primary responsibility for a creating more flexible daily life by making small, shifts in their everyday behavior.
For example, a survey by Cali Williams Yost, author of Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day,” found that nearly 75% of employees believe that work-life flexibility is only possible if their employer and/or boss provide it. Adds Brad Harrington, Ph.D., executive director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family, “ultimately it’s the individual who must solve this problem, determine their fit, and manage the process of achieving it.
Although more companies are offering flexibility programs and policies that help employees manage such life transitions such as parenthood and illness, Yost and Harrington point out that many workers find it unrealistic to work regularly from home, revise their daily schedule, or use other flexibility options. Even so, they argue, this doesn’t make work-life balance a lost cause.
“Major life events matter,” says Yost, “but it’s the everyday routine we crave and where employees struggle the most with managing work-life fit. Employees themselves need to manage work-life as a daily practice. While this sounds counterintuitive, it starts by thinking small.” She encourages employees to “make small, consistent changes in how, when and where they manage their work and their lives… taking actions that over time build the foundation for a successful work-life fit that transforms their performance on and off the job.”
That’s sound advice to share with your workers