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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Time to Review Your First Aid Kits, Smoke Alarms and Fire Extinguishers

How many times do you walk by fire extinguishers without checking those tags or past first aid kits without peeking inside to assure the contents are complete?

Most executives do not spot check these life saving tools.  That task is delegated to maintenance.  But these decisions are life and death, not simply profit or loss.  Show your employees you care; that you lead their safety program rather than follow pro forma insurance checklists.

Start your spring cleaning here: walk through your operation and stop occasionally to check if you can easily spot the nearest fire extinguisher.  Read the label.  Is it appropriate for the work area?

Stand at each fire extinguisher station and visualize successful deployment.  Is it easy and natural?  Can you travel unharmed to the nearest fire exit using the fire extinguisher to clear a path?

Observe any long pathways between fire extinguishers and exits.  Would another canister or different fire suppression device or system help?

Take some notes as you walk through the operation.  Review these observations with the person tasked to keep the equipment updated.

Repeat the above exercise with regard to first aid kits.  Are they easy to spot?  Easy to access one-handed?  Do they have instructions for calling emergency help?

These exercises do not require a great deal of time or scheduling.  Simply make a point of checking these items every quarter, something of an internal surprise inspection.

Add ten minutes every three months to your walk-through routine.  It doesn’t need scheduling or ceremony.  Simply observe, become conscious of the emergency response routine.  Are fire exits clogged with storage or debris?  Are aisles kept unobstructed?

Is a specific person charged with de-icing fire escapes?  As you walk through your operations, take notes of these questions.  Think through an emergency evacuation, then review the written plan for your company.  Does it make common sense?  Does it raise questions for your risk manager or safety specialist?

Does your at-hire training include safety orientation and procedures?  How about on-going communications on safety issues?  Both directions?

Corporate officers lead the safety culture.  Make these inspections in view of employees.  They will engage you if they have proper concerns.  They are a great resource.

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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

Even If It’s Not Raining You Need an Umbrella

You own your home, have your own business, and drive a new car. Though you are not rich, you are comfortable. It will be a shame to lose it all if someone sustains injuries by your car or at your home or place of business.

You have insurance you say; you have standard auto liability insurance. The limits are $100,000 for a single person and a total of $300,000 for multiple people. Suppose you are responsible for any accident involving a shuttle taking ten people to the airport. Three hundred thousand dollars allows on average $10,000 per person. That is hardly enough to cover the emergency room fees let alone any surgery, rehabilitation, lost wages and other medical expenses. If there is a fatality, you may consider bankruptcy.

Your business has a small storefront on a busy street. A middle-aged executive comes into your place of business following a rainstorm. Your floor is wet and slippery, and the executive slips and falls. He strikes his head, loses consciousness, and goes into a coma. Your general business liability insurance has the same limit as your auto insurance – $100,000. It may cover part of the hospital bill, but the official says he is permanently disabled and sues you for future wages for $1 million. Since your business is a sole proprietorship, bankruptcy beckons.

Your son invites a friend over for a swim in your pool. He dives into the shallow end strikes his head and suffers traumatic brain injury. Sadly, the damage is permanent — with standard liability limits of $100,000 — well, you know, bankruptcy stares you in the face.

The inexpensive, elegant solution to the problem is umbrella insurance. When a claim exceeds your standard liability insurance limits, your umbrella insurance policy takes over and pays up to your umbrella liability limits. Most people who buy umbrella insurance extend their liability limits to $5 million.

Though you hope never to use it, for a few hundred dollars per year, you can protect your assets, and avoid financial disaster. Umbrella insurance pays when you are responsible for an injury that exceeds your standard liability limits.

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

October Is Fire Prevention Month

With over 3 million acres burned this year, California is reeling under the impact. This is around 10 times more acres than the state usually experiences.

While firefighters fight on, and our state’s resources are strapped – much of our wilderness and trails remain closed. As regular citizens we may feel helpless but we need to continue to do our part to prevent fires when we can.

October is National Fire Safety Month. Now is as good a time as any to evaluate your home and workplace so you can keep your loved ones and employees safe. Consider taking these steps that help you prevent fires this month and year-round.

Fuel Remediation

Make sure trees and surrounding areas follow the local guidelines. Clear out flammable brush and take down flammable trees. Thin the trees (using recommended proximity guidelines) .

Organize your Space

Poor housekeeping can mean an increase in clutter and fire fuel. Plus, messy hallways and blocked exits, sprinklers or firefighting equipment can hinder escape and rescue efforts. Walk through every part of your building and perform a thorough cleanup.

Maintain Equipment

Machinery, electronics and other equipment can overheat and cause a fire. Maintain all your equipment to prevent this hazard.

Prevent Electrical Hazards

Faulty wiring and other electrical hazards can spark a fire. Perform regular inspections of the entire electrical system and make any repairs immediately.

Store Chemicals Wisely

Flammable chemicals pose a safety risk. Read the Material Safety Data Sheets and labels on each container, then store and use the chemicals properly.

Allow Control Panel Access

You can turn off the electric and reduce this potential fire hazard at the control panel. Ensure the control panel is easily accessible and that key personnel know where it’s located and how to turn off the electric during an emergency.

Stock Fire Extinguishers

Based on your building’s size and occupancy, you must stock a certain number of fire extinguishers. Follow this requirement and inspect the fire extinguishers at least once a year to ensure they remain in proper working order. Also, train every staff member to use the fire extinguishers confidently.

Install Smoke Detectors and Sprinklers

Smoke detectors provide a warning, and a sprinkler system can save your building, equipment and inventory if a fire does start. Install both of these safety features, and inspect them regularly.

Designate Specific Smoking Areas

Require smoking employees and visitors to smoke only in certain areas that are far from chemicals, papers and other flammable materials. Provide ashtray receptacles and stock working fire extinguishers near the designated smoking areas, too.

Clearly Mark Exits

Post emergency exit diagrams where employees can see them. Also, mark every exit with a neon sign, and place reflective tape on the floor and doors.

Perform Regular Fire Drills

Fire drills prepare your employees for a successful evacuation. Conduct these drills regularly.

Update Contact Information

All of your employees should know who to contact during an emergency. The contact list will include the phone numbers for emergency personnel and key employees.

This October, you can celebrate National Fire Prevention Month. Take these 11 steps as you prepare your commercial property to remain safe.

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

Let’s not go Phishing this fall!

There is a lot of ‘phishing’ going on these days. As many as one in five people fall prey to phishing incidents, but over 14 percent  don’t recognize these phishing attacks. Learn more about phishing and how to combat attacks on your personal or company email.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a scam that cybercriminals use to gain access to sensitive information. It often occurs via email. The cybercriminal will send you an email that looks official but actually includes spyware, malware or other malicious software. When you open the link or download the file from the email, the criminals can access confidential information like bank account information, your social security number and other data. In many cases, you never know that your information has been compromised.

How to Recognize a Phishing Email

Phishing emails are designed to look authoritative so that you will open them and give the cybercriminal access to your computer. While these emails often look like they’re from a real company, you can usually recognize them via five signs.

    • Sender Address

      Before opening any email, look at the sender’s address. It may look similar to the official company’s address but could be slightly off. For example, it may use dot-net instead of dot-com or include a small spelling error like micrsoft or micosoft.

 

    • Graphics

      Cybercriminals do a great job of imitating the graphics of popular companies. However, the logo, colors or design may be slightly off in a small way.

 

    • Spelling and Grammar Errors

      Most companies and organizations employ a team of copywriters who write professional content that’s typically error-free. Emails with spelling or grammar errors, are possibly phishing schemes.

 

    • Links

      Email links are a cybercriminal’s primary phishing tool. You can hover your mouse over any links and verify that it matches the address of the email’s sender, a sign that the link is safe.

 

  • Threats

    Cybercriminals use threats and fear to manipulate consumers. They may say that you will lose money, face criminal charges or suffer another devastating consequence if you don’t open the email. In most cases, these threats are meant to incite fear and get you to comply with their complicit wishes.

 

Steps That Can Protect Your Email

You can’t prevent cybercriminals from targeting you. However, you can take steps to protect yourself.

  • Install spam filters and virus scans.
  • Learn to recognize phishing emails.
  • Only open email links from verified and trusted sources.
  • Delete any emails that look suspicious.
  • Train coworkers and associates to recognize phishing threats.
  • Purchase cyber insurance that protects you if you are a victim of phishing.

You can’t stop cybercriminals from targeting your email, but you can use these tips to protect yourself and your data.

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9 months ago · by · 0 comments

5 Questions Regarding Business Interruption Exposure

This is about risk mitigation. 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 insurance team 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.

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11 months ago · by · 0 comments

Hiring Considerations When Employing Interns and Employees That Are Minors

Hiring young people might be tempting for a business. After all, the labor is affordable since kids don’t demand high salaries and won’t need health, retirement and vacation benefits like their older counterparts. Kids are also enthusiastic, willing to do grunt work and able to handle hard labor. Before you hire minors, though, understand the law.

Federal Child Labor Rules

Find the rules about child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It divides minors into categories based on their age.

Children under 13 may not be employed unless the job is on a farm or in a business operated by parents or guardians.

Children who are 14 to 15 years old have several restrictions.

  • During the school session, they can work a maximum of three hours per day and 18 hours per week.
  • Non-school sessions can include eight hours of work per day and 40 hours per week maximum.
  • They may only work from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. or until 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day.
  • Hour and day restrictions do not apply for kids who are employed by parents or guardians.
  • They may not perform hazardous jobs, including driving motor vehicles, mining, operating certain power tool, logging, manufacturing or meat packing, packaging or slicing.
  • State minimum wage guidelines apply.

Children who are 16 to 17 years old can work unlimited hours per day and days per week. Certain hazardous job limitations and state minimum wage guidelines apply.

Children over 18 are considered adults and have no restrictions on work hours or days.

Exceptions to FLSA rules do not apply to kids who work as actors, deliver newspapers or work at home with evergreen materials. Agricultural exceptions also exist.

Paperwork Requirements

If you decide to hire minors, make sure your paperwork is in order.

  1. Use an official birth certificate, driver’s license or other document to verify the minor’s age.
  2. Obtain an age certificate from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division.
  3. Your state may require you or your minor employee to get a work permit available through your state’s Department of Labor.
  4. Get permission from the minor’s parent and school. The authorization form is available from your state’s Labor and Industry department.
  5. Retain employment records for at least three years. The information includes the employee’s name, address, occupation, employment dates, pay rate, hours worked and pay received.

Before you hire minors for even small tasks like filing papers or cleaning your office, check the federal laws and your state’s Department of Labor’s website. Talk to your insurance agent and attorney, too, as you make sure you’re following the law.

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Company information

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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(831) 661-5697

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