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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

To Bundle, or Not to Bundle

If you’ve ever shopped around for insurance, you’ve likely been asked if you want to bundle your policies—in other words, combine your home or renters, auto and life insurance policies with the same carrier. Although you have the option to shop around individually for each policy, it almost always makes sense to have the same carrier cover as many of your policies as possible.

Benefits of Bundling

  • The discount—Most policyholders bundle their policies because of the promise of a discount. The amount varies by provider but can generally range between 5-25 percent.
  • The option of a single deductible—With bundled policies, your deductible may be cheaper in the event of a claim that affects multiple policies. For example, if your home and auto policies are with two separate carriers, and a hailstorm damages your home and your car, you’re responsible for paying both your home and auto deductibles before receiving payment. But if you bundle your policies, your provider may offer you the option to pay only the higher of the two deductibles.
  • Less chance of being dropped—If you’ve made claims or gotten tickets, having your policies bundled with one provider can decrease the chance of them dropping you.
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When it Doesn’t Pay to Bundle

It isn’t always better to bundle your policies with one insurance carrier. Here’s when it may be better to split them up:

  • If you have tickets or past claims that make your auto insurance expensive—In this case, it may be cheaper overall to buy each policy from separate providers.
  • When premiums increase—Bundling discourages people from price shopping, which makes it easier for providers to increase their rates. Most assume that you won’t go through the effort of shopping around when your policies renew.
  • If policies aren’t technically bundled—Some carriers may insure you with an affiliated company. Although you may get a discount with that company, you’ll lose the convenience of paying your premium with one familiar provider.

A Few Tips to Consider

Although discounts are the main reason people bundle their insurance policies, never assume that bundling is the cheapest option. Your needs and circumstances will dictate whether you should combine your policies with one carrier. Consider the following tips:

  • Shop for new coverage when your policies renew, and ask for the price of the individual premiums as well as the price of the bundled premium so you can decide whether it is worth it. Just make sure you compare the same coverage when shopping for quotes from each carrier.
  • Ask if the provider uses a third-party insurance company. Remember that you may save money but lose the convenience of dealing with one provider and a combined bill.
  • Ask an independent insurance agent to get prices from multiple companies so you don’t have to do the legwork. An agent that is loyal to a particular carrier may be able to offer discounts that you can’t get alone.

With multiple factors contributing to the price of your insurance premiums, it is important to shop around in order to get the best rate for your insurance needs. Feel free to contact Scurich Insurance to determine if bundling is right for you and help you take advantage of all available discounts.

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9 months ago · by · 0 comments

Safety Footwear, the Right Shoe for the Job

Whether you stand all day, operate heavy machinery or handle chemicals, you need to protect your feet as you work. Several foot safety tips reduce injuries and help you maintain a safe work environment.

When to Wear Safety Footwear

Safety footwear protects your feet against numerous injuries, including punctures, impacts, electrical shock and compression. If you work in any hazardous work environment, you probably need to wear safety footwear as part of your daily uniform. Protective shoes also protect your feet if you suffer from weak ankles or other medical conditions.

Available Types of Safety Footwear

Depending on your job and preferences, you may select safety boots or sneakers. Available in a variety of styles and colors, the best safety shoes include a CSA certification and may include:

Safety-toe – features a special toe covering that protects the foot from dropped objects

Steel insole – stabilizes feet and protects them from joint and bone injuries or problems

Metal instep – provides a barrier against glass, nail and other sharp object punctures

Metatarsal protection – reduces injuries to your upper feet and internal bones

Electric protection – absorbs shock through specially made soles

Heat resistant – resists heat-related injuries

Water resistant – repels water and keeps feet dry  

Nonslip – improves traction on various surfaces

Where to Purchase Safety Footwear

Your employer may provide strict guidelines and limitations about exactly which safety shoe you may wear, including where you may purchase this gear. If you can select the safety shoes you wear, check specialty footwear stores or online retailers. Because you want to protect your feet, select only the right shoes for your job and feet. Price should be secondary as you promote safety.

How to Fit Your Safety Footwear

When trying on safety footwear, ensure a proper fit.

  • Try on shoes in the afternoon to accommodate swelling that occurs naturally during the day.
  • Wear your regular work socks and any special supports.
  • Ensure ample toe room since the shoes typically do not stretch with wear.
  • Check for snugness around the heel and ankle.
  • Walk around a bit to check for comfort.

Care Instructions

Most safety footwear requires ongoing care and maintenance. Before you wear them for the first time, apply a water-resistant coating. Every day, inspect your shoes for damage, including sole cracks, leather breaks or toe cap exposure. Always replace your safety footwear if you notice signs of wear or damage that you cannot repair and after a puncture, impact or other event that may compromise the shoe.

Protect your feet at work when you wear the right safety footwear. Talk to your employer and check OSHA resources as you purchase, maintain and wear shoes that protect your feet every day.

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1 year ago · by · 0 comments

Manufacturing Risk Management & Safety News

Executive Order on Apprenticeships Expected to Help Manufacturers

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that will expand apprenticeship programs across the country. As a result of the order, the number of available apprenticeships is expected to increase and the federal government will increase spending for apprenticeship programs to $200 million per year.

Many manufacturers use apprenticeships to meet employment requirements and help students get hands-on experience that can’t be achieved in a classroom. A larger emphasis on apprenticeships may also help fill an anticipated employee shortage in the manufacturing industry. According to the Manufacturing Institute, there will be 3.4 million manufacturing jobs to fill over the next 10 years.

Although the executive order didn’t set specific goals for the number of apprenticeships to be added, experts believe that up to 5 million apprenticeships could exist in the next 10 years. A clause included in the executive order may also allow existing internships to be categorized as apprenticeships.

Machining Safety Tips

Using machines is common for every manufacturer, but ignoring machining safety can expose you to incredibly high costs. OSHA issued $6.8 million in penalties for machining safety violations in 2015, and the associated costs of medical bills, damaged equipment and replacement personnel is much higher.

Before your employees use any machine, you should conduct a review to ensure that they’re properly trained and that all equipment is in working condition. Also, make sure that machine guards are in place to prevent injuries and that employees wear any required personal protective equipment. For more resources on machining safety, contact us at 831-661-5697 today.

Air Bag Manufacturer Files for Bankruptcy

Japanese auto part supplier Takata recently filed for bankruptcy after many years of managing the largest product recall in U.S. history. At least 16 deaths have been attributed to the company’s faulty air bag inflators, and over 69 million vehicles have been recalled as a result.

Although Takata recently pleaded guilty to a felony charge as part of an agreement with the Justice Department, mounting costs from the recall and associated lawsuits overwhelmed the manufacturer. However, Takata executives stated that filing for bankruptcy will allow them to reorganize their finances and continue shipping replacement parts for affected vehicles.

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1 year ago · by · 0 comments

July Business Newsletter

Employee Drug Use Reaches 12-year High

The positive drug test rate for the U.S. workforce was 4.2 percent in 2016, according to the Drug Testing Index (DTI) released by Quest Diagnostics. This represents a 5 percent increase over the positive rate in 2015, and the largest single-year positive rate since 2004.

The DTI analyzed over 10 million workforce drug test results from 2016 and categorized employees into three categories, including employees with federally mandated drug tests, the general workforce and the combined U.S. workforce. Here are additional details about the DTI’s findings for specific drug types:

  • Marijuana—The positive test rate for marijuana increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing, which is used in the general workforce. Federally mandated marijuana tests only utilize urine tests, and the positive test rate increased 10 percent in 2016.
  • Cocaine—Positive test rates for cocaine in post-accident drug tests were more than twice as high as pre-employment screenings.
  • Amphetamines—Positive test rates for amphetamines have risen 64 percent between 2012 and 2016 for the general workforce. Quest Diagnostics attributes this increase to the prevalence of prescription drugs, including Adderall.

In order to create a safe, productive workplace, you need to watch out for potential drug use at your business.

Political Discussions Hurt Job Performance

Many people can get worked up about politics, but a new survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) has shown that political discussions in the workplace can have a big impact on your employees’ job performance.

The APA surveyed U.S. employees about the impact of political discussions after the 2016 presidential election, and found that these discussions have a detrimental effect on job performance and relationships with co-workers. The survey found that 40 percent of employees have experienced a negative outcome following a workplace political discussion, such as reduced productivity or difficulty getting work done. Additionally, 24 percent of employees said they avoid some co-workers solely because of their politics.

According to the APA, social networks and constant news reports can cause individuals to adopt an “us versus them” political mentality, which can lead to conflict. As a result, it’s important to encourage respect, collaboration and courtesy in your workplace to ensure that your employees feel supported and remain productive.

New Executive Order Aims to Improve Cyber Security

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order to improve the country’s cyber security and protect key infrastructure from cyber attacks. The order also emphasized the importance of strengthening the cyber security of federal agencies. According to a survey from Thales Group, a cyber security company, 34 percent of federal agencies experienced a data breach in the last year, and 95 percent of agencies consider themselves vulnerable to cyber attacks.

The executive order did not create any ongoing cyber security requirements, but instead laid out goals to assess the current state of cyber defenses and develop deterrence strategies. Here are some of the requirements of the executive order:

  • Federal agencies must draft reports on their ability to defend themselves against cyber threats.
  • The departments of Energy and Homeland Security must assess potential vulnerabilities to the country’s electrical grids. The executive order specifically mentions that prolonged power outages could pose a threat to national security or damage the economy.
  • Various federal agencies must review the cyber defense plans of U.S. allies in order to cooperate during international cyber attacks.

Apple Creates $1 Billion Fund to Support U.S. Manufacturing

Apple, the world’s largest technology company, recently announced that it will create a $1 billion fund to support U.S. manufacturing. Although the company is based in the United States, it has faced criticism for outsourcing most of its manufacturing and taking jobs from U.S. workers.

Apple’s CEO stated that one goal of the fund was to support smart manufacturing and to create a ripple effect in industries that support smart manufacturers. For more information on the manufacturing fund, visit Apple’s website.

DID YOU KNOW?

A U.S. Court of Appeals recently barred the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from requiring recreational drone owners to register their unmanned aircraft. The FAA had originally required recreational drones to be registered in order to help identify aircraft that posed a hazard, and to pass on safety information to operators. However, the court’s ruling will not impact the use of drones for commercial use, as these aircraft must still be registered with the FAA before they are used.

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1 year ago · by · 0 comments

Manufacturing Risk Management & Safety News

OSHA Program to Target Southern Auto Part Makers

OSHA has renewed a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) for auto part manufacturers in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. The REP was originally established to reduce workplace hazards in the auto parts industry, including electrical, struck-by, caught-in and crushing hazards.

Information released by OSHA revealed that the REP led to 46 safety inspections in 2016, which resulted in 143 violations. Now that the REP has been renewed, OSHA will continue to target auto parts manufacturers in the region for inspections.

Trump Administration Will Not Label China as a Currency Manipulator

President Donald Trump recently announced that his administration will not officially label China as a currency manipulator. This is a reversal from previous statements released by Trump, as he stated during his presidential campaign that he would take steps to label the country as a currency manipulator during his first days in office.

Many experts believe that the Chinese government artificially weakens its own currency to make its goods more affordable for American consumers. However, Trump recently stated that China hasn’t manipulated its currency in months, and that the current strength of the U.S. dollar is hurting exports of domestic goods.

This policy reversal is seen by some as a move to maintain China as an ally against North Korea after recent political unrest in the area. However, the decision to not label China as a currency manipulator has already had an impact. According to S&P Global Platts, an energy information provider, the stocks of 10 major U.S. steel producers fell after Trump’s announcement.

Cyber Insurance on the Rise in Manufacturing

Before now, cyber insurance has usually been purchased by consumer-facing businesses, such as health care providers, retailers and financial institutions. However, cyber attacks are now capable of taking control of manufacturing plants and products, and many businesses in the industry are purchasing cyber insurance policies to protect themselves.

According to Advisen, an insurance data provider, manufacturers paid nearly $37 million in cyber insurance premiums in 2016, an increase of 89 percent compared to 2015. Get in touch with us today at 831-661-5697 to discuss a cyber insurance policy and protect your business.

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2 years ago · by · 0 comments

What is OSHA and Why is it Important to Your Business?

Why is job safety and health important?

In 2013, 4,585 employees died from occupational incidents, and there were a staggering 3.0 million total recordable cases of workplace injury and illness.

On average, each of these 3.0 million cases required eight days away from work, which means U.S. employers as a whole paid for millions of days of lost work time. Experts estimate that workplace injuries and illnesses cost U.S. businesses more than $125 billion annually. Effective job safety and health programs not only help reduce worker injuries and illnesses, they save employers money in the long run.

How does OSHA contribute to job safety and health?

The primary goal of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to carry out the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which Congress originally passed in 1970. The OSH Act has undergone several amendments and revisions since its inception, but it is still in place “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” OSHA contributes to job safety and health by enacting regulations that forward this ideal.

Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 1902-1990, houses all the OSHA standards, though OSHA also allows states to enact occupational safety and health laws of their own under federally-approved plans. State-run programs are at least as strict, and sometimes more so, than federal standards. This ensures a minimum standard of job safety and health that all employers must follow to protect employees.

Are all employees covered by the OSH Act?

The OSH Act covers all employees except public employees in state and local governments and those who are self-employed. Public employees in state and local governments are covered by their state’s OSHA-approved plan, if applicable.

Federal employees are covered under the OSH Act’s federal employee occupational safety and health programs, which are outlined in 29 CFR Part 1960. United States Postal Service employees, however, are subject to the same OSH Act coverage provisions as those in the private sector.

Other federal agencies that have issued requirements affecting job safety or health include the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and some agencies of the Department of Transportation (DOT), including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Employees in these industries are subject to their respective regulations.

Additionally, businesses in the retail, service, finance, insurance and real estate sectors that are classified as low-hazard are exempt from most OSHA requirements, as are small businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Exceptions are discussed in 29 CFR Part 1904, which also explains which OSHA regulations exempt employers are still required to follow.

What are your responsibilities as an employer?

If you are an employer covered by the OSH Act, you must provide your employees with jobs and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm. You must also comply with the OSHA statutory requirements, standards and regulations that require you to:

  • Provide well-maintained tools and equipment, including appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Provide medical assistance and guidance for employees sustaining workplace injuries/illnesses
  • Provide required OSHA training
  • Report accidents that result in fatalities to OSHA within eight hours
  • Report accidents that result in the hospitalization of three or more employees to OSHA within eight hours
  • Keep records of work-related accidents, injuries, illnesses and their causes
  • Post annual injury/illness summaries for the required period of time

What are your rights as an employer?

When working with OSHA, you may do the following:

  • Request identification from OSHA compliance officers
  • Request an inspection warrant
  • Receive a reason for inspection from compliance officers
  • Have an opening and closing conference with compliance officers
  • Accompany compliance officers on inspections
  • Request an informal conference after an inspection
  • File a notice of contest to citations or proposed penalties
  • Apply for a variance from a standard’s requirements under certain circumstances
  • Be assured of the confidentiality of trade secrets
  • Submit a written request to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for information on potentially toxic substances in your workplace

What are employees’ responsibilities?

All employees are obligated to help prevent exposure to workplace safety and health hazards by becoming familiar with and adhering to all applicable OSHA requirements.

What are employees’ rights?

With regards to OSHA regulations, employees have the right, among other actions, to:

  • Review employer-provided OSHA standards, regulations and requirements
  • Request information from the employer on emergency procedures
  • Receive adequate, OSHA-required safety and health training on toxic substances and emergency action plan(s)
  • Ask the OSHA area director to investigate hazardous conditions or violations of standards in the workplace
  • Have his or her name withheld from the employer when filing a complaint with OSHA
  • Know what actions OSHA took as a result of the employee’s complaint and have an informal review of any decision not to inspect or issue a citation
  • Have an employee representative accompany the OSHA compliance officer on inspections
  • Observe monitoring and measuring of toxic substances or harmful physical agents and review related records (including medical records)
  • Review the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300 Form), if applicable, at a reasonable time
  • Request a closing discussion following an inspection
  • Object a citation’s set abatement period
  • Seek safe and healthful working conditions without your employer retaliation

Why is OSHA important to your business?

OSHA plays a key role in making your facility a safe, healthy place to work. Beyond providing the tools and guidance to work toward an injury- and illness-free workplace, OSHA is important in identifying businesses that are not committed to safety. Employers that do not carefully follow OSHA regulations often face hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in fines.

How can you get more information on safety and health?

OSHA provides free publications, standards, technical assistance and compliance tools to help you understand the nuances of the regulations. OSHA’s website also offers extensive assistance by way of workplace consultation, voluntary protection programs, grants, strategic partnerships, state plans, training and education to guide you in your quest for workplace safety. To learn more about OSHA and the critical elements of a successful safety and health management system in your workplace, visit www.osha.gov.

This document is an introductory guideline. It does not address all potential compliance issues with OSHA standards. It is not meant to be exhaustive or construed as legal advice. Contact your licensed commercial property and casualty representative at Scurich Insurance or legal counsel to address applicable compliance requirements. © 2009-2012, 2015 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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

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

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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