GT Insurance Blog

Insurance problems and cures

Archive for May 2013

Who owns your company’s data? How do you make sure?

leave a comment »

You own your data, but you have to take steps to make sure you can control it, both legally and in the cyber world.

Do your employees use only devices your company owns?
Have they acknowledged that their information on those devices is not private?

If they use their own devices to access your information, have they agreed to let you review any and all information on those devices?
Have they agreed to let you wipe their devices if you find your information on them?

All of this should involve help from your own lawyer.

Even if you get a signed acknowledgement that you can look at their information and look at information on devices they own, you’d better be talking to your own lawyer if you run into a communication between your employee and his or her own attorney.

On the IT front, a good IT provider can help erect barriers to penetration by outsiders, and to theft of data by insiders.

But multiple platforms are complicating IT.  Mobile malware is exploding.  And many small businesses don’t keep current with firewalls and monitoring of data use.

If you’d like to discuss IT issues in more depth, try this link to IT Radix.  And we thank them for putting on the seminar that provoked many of these questions today.

The legal questions in the seminar today were posed by Colin Page, Esq.  Try this link to make contact with his law firm if you have questions on data ownership and employment issues.

Insurance and Employment Law – Outsourcing

leave a comment »

What happens when you outsource jobs?  There are benefits to outsourcing in the right circumstances.  But what problems can come up and what should you do to protect your business?

  1. If the workers are not your employees, they can escape the Workers Compensation system and pursue law suits against you.   If you don’t set it up correctly, you may violate State and Federal labor laws.  See the link below for Colin Page’s blog page laying out a real case of a problem blowing up in the employer’s face.
  2. If you create a 1099 relationship, making someone an “independent contractor”, you have to be very careful to make sure the relationship truly qualifies as an independent.  If you want detailed advice on those rules to observe, on how to stay out of trouble with your State Board of Workers Compensation and Department of Labor, and lawsuits, click on the link below to William Barrett for legal advice.
  3. Employees are generally entitled to Workers Compensation benefits if injured; in New Jersey there are very few exceptions.  Non-employees can sue outside the controlled environment of Workers Compensation.  Make sure you have someone else’s insurance in front of yours; if you have a contract with someone who doesn’t have Workers Compensation, you are probably going to be providing it.
  4. You should follow basic risk management procedures.  If you contract jobs out to another company, get their certificates of insurance for Workers Compensation and General Liability.  Have them name you as an “additional insured” on their policies.  Make sure you have your own Workers Compensation, General Liability, and Employment Practices Liability insurance policies.

For more detail or to kick ideas around, we’ve given you links below to some intelligent lawyers and to our own contact information.

Here’s a link to the Chair of Corporate Law at a large NJ law firm.  Bright lawyer, William Barrett, who has been very solid for us.

Here’s a link to a Colin M. Page & Associates blog with comments on problems with outsourcing work.

Here’s a link to information on Employment Practices Liability Insurance.  GBW Insurance, 3 Gold Mine Road, Flanders, NJ  07836.  1-800-548-2329

Flood Insurance – Hurricane Season Coming Soon

leave a comment »

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) sent us this warning/outlook for flood insurance 2013.   In summary, another tough hurricane season forecast, which means more  flooding.  And flood insurance takes 30 days to get in place.  (Click here for our flood insurance page and quick quote page.)

Hurricane Season Outlook 2013
Experts are calling for an active Atlantic hurricane season, which means it could also be an active flood season. In their annual spring forecast, Colorado State University Meteorologists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray predicted 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 additional major hurricanes. They suggest there is a 96 percent chance a storm will hit the United States.
Hurricane season is the optimal time to speak to new and existing customers about flood insurance. The prospect of potentially damaging storms provides context for the flood talk, as it reminds consumers that flood risk is real. Homeowners still remember Hurricane Irene’s impact in 2011 and the destruction from Sandy last October. While flood risk is top of mind, you have an opportunity to target existing customers without a flood insurance policy and teach them how flood insurance can help them recover from a flood. For clients in a Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA) who are within the “one mile buffer zone,” explain that floods don’t stop at a line on a map.
Show clients and prospects who don’t have flood insurance how they might be affected by hurricane season. Use the Flood Risk Scenarios tool to illustrate how tropical storms and heavy rains can cause flooding. Remind them that if it can rain, it can flood. It’s also important to let your clients know that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover floods; instead, only flood insurance provides the financial protection property owners need.
Help your clients protect their assets by encouraging them to obtain flood insurance today. There’s a 30-day waiting period before a flood policy takes effect, so don’t delay in communicating this important message.

Insurance Company Financial Stability

leave a comment »

Insurance companies are rated for financial strength.  Why does that matter?

Insurance is a promise to pay future losses.  If the company does not have a future, no payments.  And some losses are going to happen years down the line.

Property losses tend to be settled shortly after they occur.  You owned a building, it burned, the value is usually relatively easy to establish, you are paid for the loss.  The solvency of your insurance company is not of concern because of time, but because property is exposed to catastrophic threats such as hurricanes, which might bankrupt a small insurance carrier which has not prepared properly.

Liability losses, especially large losses, are usually litigated.  That can take years.  If an insurance company becomes insolvent, that will at a minimum complicate and delay settlement and payment.  An insurance company which misestimates its average losses far in the future will be in trouble.

So, how do you assess the strength of your insurance company?  While states review the strength of insurance companies within their supervision, day to day the best measurement is available from private companies that specialize in rating insurance carriers.

Without getting into a long discussion of the relative merits of the rating companies, one of the best is A.M. Best.  Ratings run from A++ to F, with additional notes for the future (stable, negative, favorable).  Here’s a link to Best’s explanation of their financial strength ratings.    You can sign into Best for free to get basic rating information on most insurance carriers.  (Some decline to submit their results for rating.  Not a great sign about the company.)

Or call GBW Insurance at 1-800-548-2329 and we can give you the information.  We are also paid subscribers and are therefore able to access detailed information as well.  www.GBWinsurance.com

Prepare for disasters in advance

leave a comment »

Hurricane season for 2013 starts in less than a month.  Preparing in advance may take more time than we have before the next hurricane.  Or you may have a couple of years before the next major hurricane strikes you.  Either way, here are some locations for preparation advice.

Residential preparation: Click here for the DisasterSafety.org pamphlet on preparing for hurricane damage to homes.

Or go to this GBWInsurance.com link for more catastrophe preparation and response info and suggestions from Travelers Insurance and Hanover Insurance.

Business preparation: Click here for the DisasterSafety.org page leading to a full business recovery preparation program.  This is an excellent introduction to developing a step by step business recovery plan.  If you would like help with this or additional resources, call us at 1-800-548-2329 ext. 101

After two years of significant hurricane damage in the Northeast, we should all be on our toes about catastrophe preparation and catastrophe insurance (flood and windstorm).  The odds of another serious storm are exactly the same as they were in 2011 and 2012.

Changes in new employee forms required by the Department of Homeland Security

leave a comment »

Effective today 5/7/2013, employers must use the current I9 Employment Eligibility Verification form.  You can get a copy of the current form at at the USCIS website. The US Citizenship and Immigration enforces this.

Every employer must complete a Form I-9 when they hire new employees. You have to retain it, with possible fines if the form is not complete or if you do not keep it.   Some of the new fields call for email addresses and employees’ foreign passport information.  

The employer must certify that ” I attest, under penalty of perjury, that 1) I have examined the document(s) presented by the above named employee, 2) the above-listed document(s) appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee named, and 3) to the best of my knowledge the employee is authorized to work in the United States.”

It’s interesting that the employer has more fields to fill out than does the employee.  And it must be completed no later than the first day of employment.  (Bold print in the original form.)  But never before the employee has accepted a job offer. 

“Reverification applies if evidence of employment authorization (List A or List C document) presented in Section 2 expires.”

Are you getting the idea of why there are 7 pages of explanation for a two page form?

Anyway, if you have questions about on-boarding a new employee, give us a call at 1-800-548-2329.  If we can’t answer a question for you, we may be able to recommend a consultant, or a labor attorney.