Flooded barns and lost crops are just a couple of the emergencies farmers have to deal with after a natural disaster. Thankfully, there are federal programs and resources available to help with some of the costs, but seeking them out can be confusing and time consuming. The agency you contact will depend on the type of damage you have, so a farmer may have to go to three separate agencies for help.
Disaster Relief – Helpful Links
3 STEPS TO POST DISASTER RELIEF
It can be overwhelming trying to navigate the different programs available. Here, we break it down into three steps:
Step 1: Take pictures. Disaster programs need documented damage, so take pictures before you clean up, and take note of specific losses. Save receipts for any purchases you need to make during recovery.
Step 2: Know what programs for coverage are available. There are several different programs that address different needs of hurricane relief. For example, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) handles assistance specific to farms and farmland. The Small Business Administration handles disaster assistance for businesses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency handles household damages and reconstruction.
Step 3: Be aware of important deadlines. Each program has different application processes and different deadlines. Make sure you get your applications in on time.
- If seeking the help of an FSA program, be aware that most have an application deadline of 30 days after the damage or loss occurs.
- If damage prevents you from planting, complete a Notice of Loss form and submit it to your local FSA office within 15 days of the planned planting date to determine eligibility.
- If you participate in Risk Management Agency (RMA) federal crop insurance, report the damage within 72 hours of discovery, and follow up in writing within 15 days.
Employee theft, fraud and embezzlement can cause serious financial and reputation damage to your company. Implement several safety measures as you prevent employee theft and protect your business.
Review Your Hiring Practices
Start with honest employees, and you could reduce your theft risk. Consider implementing the following pre-employment checks for all employees, particularly those who work with finances, confidential data or inventory.
- Criminal history of theft, fraud or violence.
- Civil history of fraud, collections or restraining orders.
- Driver’s license report of serious or numerous violations.
- Education verification of degrees and certifications from accredited institutions.
- Employment verification of positions, length, performance, reasons for leaving, and eligibility for rehire.
Utilize Internal Controls
Prepare for the possibility of theft with policies and procedures that limit this risk.
- Separate duties – Place different employees in charge of transaction processing and recording.
- Control access – Only authorized employees should have access to accounting systems and physical and financial information and assets.
- Authorize control policies – Develop a secure process for initiating, authorizing, recording, and reviewing financial transactions and inventory.
- Update security – Install security cameras, engrave “do not duplicate” on keys to sensitive information, and change locks and security codes when cleared employees leave.
Perform Impartial Audits
In addition to regular audits, hire impartial parties to conduct random audits. Examine financial, inventory and other records as you encourage employees to resist temptation.
Create a Positive Work Environment
When your work environment supports collaboration, fairness, and recognition and implements clear policies, organizational structure, and communication, your employees will probably remain honest. They will feel goodwill toward the company and may be less likely to commit theft and jeopardize the supportive, friendly and healthy environment.
Educate Your Employees
Partner with your employees to avoid and prevent theft. They should know your company’s internal controls, conduct and ethics policy, and discipline process. Ask new employees to review these documents and sign a form indicating they’ve done so, and review the policies at least annually.
Use an Anonymous Reporting System
Equip employees, clients and vendors with the power to report suspicions or proof of theft, fraud or embezzlement. An anonymous reporting system protects your staff while giving you valuable information that protects your company.
Investigate all Theft Reports
Demonstrate that you take theft seriously when you investigate every theft report you receive. The investigation should be thorough, prompt and transparent.
Purchase Adequate Insurance
Commercial crime insurance protects your business as it covers financial losses and liability. Your insurance agent can help you purchase the right insurance coverage and adequate policy limits.
Protect your company from employee theft when you implement several security measures. They can reduce your theft, fraud and embezzlement risk.
Builder’s Risk insurance, also known as Course of Construction insurance, covers property that’s under construction. As a contractor or construction professional, you must understand this important coverage.
What is Builder’s Risk Insurance?
A homeowner, general contractor or project manager can purchase a Builder’s Risk insurance policy during a home building project. The coverage protects the property from hazards and accidents that could occur.
What Does Builder’s Risk Insurance Cover?
The accidents and hazards a Builder’s Risk insurance policy covers include:
- Burglary and theft.
- Property loss during transport to the job site.
- Scaffolding, temporary structures and construction forms on the job site.
- Structure collapse.
- Sewer or drain backup.
- Site plans, blueprints and other valuable papers.
- Wind, hail or rain storms.
- Impact by aircraft or vehicles.
- Riot, vandalism and malicious acts.
- Debris removal after a covered accident or hazard.
Most Builder’s Risk insurance policies include several exclusions, so read the policy carefully. Your policy probably does not cover:
- Property others own.
- Subcontractor actions or materials.
- Professional liability.
- Water damage.
- Weather damage to property in the open.
- Mechanical breakdown.
- Employee theft.
- Contract penalty.
- Voluntary parting.
- Government action.
What is the Policy Length?
The typical Builder’s Risk insurance policy covers a construction project that lasts from six to 12 months. Coverage ends when the project is finished or the property is occupied.
While the policy may be extended due to construction delays, the insurance company may want proof that you are making progress. Also, only one extension is usually offered.
How Much Does Builder’s Risk Insurance Cost?
Expect to pay between one and four percent of the total construction budget for your Builder’s Risk insurance policy. The type of coverage and materials also factor into the cost. Your insurance agent will work with you to purchase adequate coverage you can afford.
Is Builder’s Risk Insurance a Requirement?
As a contractor, project manager or homeowner, Builder’s Risk insurance gives you peace of mind. However, it’s not usually a requirement. Read your project contract for details.
Purchase Adequate Insurance
As a construction professional, you should purchase the right insurance coverage for your business and projects. Insure the tools and equipment you own in case they’re stolen or vandalized. Also, purchase liability coverage that protects you if you damage the property or cause bodily injury. Be sure the finished project is covered, too, in case something goes wrong with the home you build. Provide copies of your insurance policies to homeowners, too. They need to know that you have the right insurance in case something goes wrong.
Builder’s Risk insurance protects a new home that’s under construction. Understand this coverage as you protect your assets and construction business.
Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science forecasts five hurricanes and 12 named storms for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. Natural disasters like hurricanes can wreak havoc on your company. Update your business insurance as you prepare for natural disasters.
Prepare for Wind and Hail Storms
Heavy storms that feature high winds or hail can damage your property or disrupt operations. Verify that your business insurance includes adequate commercial property and business interruption coverage.
You may also wish to check if your policy includes a separate property deductible that applies solely to wind or hail claims. Some insurance companies add a flat rate or percentage deductible to these policies, especially in areas that are susceptible to wind and hail storms.
Rising water can damage your buildings and property and affect business operations. While your mortgage lender or building manager may require you to purchase commercial flood insurance if your business operates in a flood zone, flood insurance is also important if you operate in a location that doesn’t traditionally flood. That’s because you still could experience high water due to heavy rains, storm surges, melting snow, or broken levees.
Talk to your insurance agent about purchasing flood insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Because this valuable coverage includes a 30-day waiting period, be sure to purchase flood insurance before you need it.
Purchase Adequate Coverage
If you purchased your business insurance longer than a year ago, schedule a checkup. Your company’s needs may change over time, and you want to update your business insurance coverage, too. For example, if you added expensive equipment to your operation or moved to a different location, verify that your current policy covers these changes.
Check the property value coverage on your policy also. When you purchased your business insurance policy, you may have chosen the cheaper actual cash value option that pays to replace covered property minus depreciation and wear and tear. However, replacement cost pays current market value rates and offers better protection, so consider this more expensive option now.
Finally, review your policy limits. Ensure you have enough coverage for your property, building contents, inventory, and business interruption needs.
Review your Policy Carefully
Insurance policies often include dry, boring language, but take time to review every word. You must know exactly what natural disasters your commercial policy covers. Also, be sure you understand details about the deductible and how to file a claim. Your insurance agent can answer any questions you have and help you purchase enough coverage for your specific needs.
Your business insurance gives your company valuable protection. Update your coverage today as you prepare for future natural disasters.
Your customers expect you to have safe and reliable products, and failing to meet these expectations can lead to huge financial losses. If one of your products harms a customer in any way, they can sue your business, leading to costly legal fees and settlements. These costs can easily reach six figures. While you may do everything in your power to ensure your products are safe, mishaps can still occur without warning. That’s why, to protect against claims and ensure the longevity of your business, you need product liability insurance.
Coverage for manufacturing or production flaws.
One of the key features of product liability insurance is its coverage for manufacturing or production flaws that cause unsafe defects in the product.
Protection against design defects.
Even after product testing and trial runs, potentially dangerous defects can still appear long after products. Product liability insurance can provide coverage for design errors that make goods unsafe for use by the public.
Response for packaging and warning issues.
In the event that you fail to provide adequate defect warnings or instructions for using the product, your company can be sued. These claims arise when products are not properly labeled or have warnings that are not explanatory enough to reduce consumer risks while using the product. Product liability insurance helps organizations prepare for and litigate these types of claims.
Supplemental commercial general liability (CGL) coverage.
General, there is limited product liability protection under a CGL policy, yet it may not be enough coverage to adequately protect your business. Product liability policies work alongside CGL coverage, providing protection against losses caused by malfunctions or defects in your products.
Want to learn more about product liability insurance?
Product liability is a complex exposure and managing your risk can be a major undertaking – even if you have access to all the right resources. To supplement your risk management strategies and address specific exposures, contact Scurich Insurance Services to review your insurance coverage.
OSHA recently developed a standard for confined spaces in the construction industry (29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA). These spaces can present conditions that are immediately dangerous to your workers’ lives or health if not properly identified, evaluated, tested and controlled. As a result, preparing to respond to an accident in a confined space is just as important as training workers to enter them.
One provision of the standard requires employers to develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services in permit-required confined spaces. Any employer who relies on local emergency services for assistance is required to meet the applicable requirements of the OSHA standard.
However, not all rescue services or emergency responders are trained or equipped to conduct rescues in confined spaces. When you identify an off-site rescue service, it is critical that the rescuers can protect your employees. The emergency services should be familiar with the exact site location, the types of permit-required confined spaces and the necessary rescue equipment.
Pre-planning for a rescue will ensure that the emergency service is capable, available and prepared to save your workers.
Before the start of any rescue operation, you must evaluate prospective emergency responders, and select one that has the following traits:
- Adequate equipment for rescues, such as the following:
- Atmospheric monitors
- Fall protection
- Extraction equipment
- Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for the particular permit-required confined space
- The ability to respond and conduct a rescue in a timely manner based on the site conditions, and the capability to conduct a rescue if faced with potential hazards specific to the space. These hazards may include the following:
- Atmospheric hazards
- Flooding or engulfment
- Poor lighting
- Chemical hazards
- The ability to notify you in the event that the rescue team becomes unavailable.
To ensure the safety of your workers, you must take a proactive role in securing the services of emergency responders. This includes finding the most efficient way of contacting emergency responders, conducting a tour of the project site with them and communicating any changes made to the site before a rescue becomes necessary.
Communicating With Emergency Responders
Talking with emergency responders about the hazards they might encounter during a rescue will assist in preparing for the situation. The following are some questions responders should be able to answer when you request their services:
- Are you able to respond and conduct a rescue in a timely manner based on the site conditions?
- Do you have the appropriate equipment for response and rescue?
- Are you prepared for the hazards identified at the project site?
- Are you aware of the exact location of the work site? This includes information on access routes, gates, site plans and GPS coordinates.
- Can you visit the site and hold a practice rescue?
- What is the best way to contact you? How would I communicate any changes to site conditions throughout the project?
- Could other emergencies or group training preclude you from responding, and how will that be communicated?
Complying with OSHA’s new standard will protect your workers and save you from costly penalties. Contact us today at 831-661-5697; we can provide you with our comprehensive resource, “Permit-required Confined Spaces in Construction Program and Training Materials.”