Know the Basics About Employment Practices Liability

By | Personal Insurance

By Jayson Scott a commercial lines underwriter at The Cincinnati Insurance Company

Like any business, your club has exposure to employment practices liability. Even in the most professional work environment, there are opportunities for an employee to become disgruntled with employment practices. Many times, the result is a lawsuit or administrative charge, so even a small, seemingly insignificant mistake by a manager can lead to significant financial losses for your club.
Here are examples of employment practices liability risk a club may encounter:
• A well-compensated personal trainer is replaced by a younger, lower-paid trainer and sues the club for age discrimination.
• A club manager who had recently received a raise is subsequently terminated for unsatisfactory performance following allegations of sexual harassment by several female employees and sues for wrongful termination.
• An employee who is passed over for a promotion, reassigned duties or reprimanded feels discriminated against and sues for discrimination.
Employers face increased financial risk of potentially violating evolving and complex employment laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Your directors, managers, supervisors and employees may not fully understand the ins and outs of these laws and may be unaware of new requirements, rulings and interpretations.
As the basis for employment practices lawsuits continues to evolve, so does your potential legal liability if found in violation of the law. While most lawsuits are filed against large corporations, your club is not immune. Large fitness organizations and small studios are equally at risk. Many gym owners think of their employees as family, but just one infringement of employment practices law can lead to allegations against your club.
Defending your club from any complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can be costly. Jury awards can be large and continue to grow. Regardless of the outcome, the unbudgeted expense of defending your club may cause your club financial hardship.
Make sure your club has adequate insurance protection for financial loss due to employment practices liability. While other types of commercial insurance can protect your organization from outsiders’ claims, your club may require separate coverage for employment-related claims filed by your own employees.

*This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

By | Personal Insurance

Header-Restaurant-Top-View

Life insurance is not for the person who dies; it protects the people who live. Now is an ideal time to re-examine the amount of life insurance you and your family have in force.
Would you believe that 1 in 5 families with children under age 18 do not have life insurance? An estimate of 48 percent of U.S. households are underinsured by an average of $200,000. In a 2018 survey, it was found that the most common reason respondents gave for not buying insurance was they incorrectly believed it was too expensive. Most families surveyed estimated the cost of a $250,000 policy for a healthy 30-year-old at three times its actual cost – an average of $160 a year – the monthly cost for many common expenses. Life insurance prices, especially term life, have remained at affordable levels while other daily expenses have increased.
Deciding what type and how much life insurance to buy is complicated. Our agents can help you consider the right questions. For example:
• What are your average monthly expenditures and how long will they continue?
• What is your time line?
• Will my family be able to survive financially after I am gone?
Keep in mind, Life Insurance is also important for the one who cares for the children on a regular basis. How will the major bread winner’s ability to produce income be effected if his or her spouse is not around to tend to the children? Consider the new debt or burden on family and friends because they now have to pay for child care services, like taking children to and from school/activities, while the bread winner is working?
If you view life insurance as taking care of your family, you gain a better perspective on the need for life insurance.

Simple things you can do to prepare your home or business for a storm

By | Personal Insurance


With Hurricane Florence approaching Watkins Insurance Agency, Inc and its Divisions are prepared to assist you with the prompt and thorough claims service you’ve come to rely on. Our Website, Facebook page, Local Offices and voicemails will be posting our 24/7 Claims Call Centers and Websites for all of our carriers that insure you.
It is advisable to have your insurance policies for all of your homes, cars, boats, RV’s, ATVs and motorcycles that may be in the path of the storm and understand the coverage provided in your insurance policy. Please take whatever non-life threatening measures to shelter your property from the storm. Since there is a possibility of catastrophic loss, it is always better for you to report the loss directly to your insurance carrier. Make sure you have your policies handy for you to report the claim effectively. You will need the policy number, named inured, location of the loss and type of loss. Be ready to take down the claim number, name and contact of an adjuster if provided at that time.
First and foremost, take whatever precautions are necessary to protect yourself and your family. While property preparations are important, they’re not worth risking life or health. Once the storm reaches your area, stay inside, away from windows and possible flying debris. Once the stormed has passed and you are no longer in danger of causing physical harm to yourself, take whatever measures possible to prevent further damage until you can get an adjuster on the scene.
Here are some simple things you can do to prepare your home or business:
• Know where your emergency shutoff valves are located. In the event of damage, you may need to cut off electricity, water or gas.
• Clean out your gutters. Remove leaves and other debris, first by hand, to get rid of the large particles and then with a scraping tool and water hose. This helps to prevent overflows that could cause interior damage.
• Make sure downspouts and window drains properly guide the water away from the structure. Direct downspouts at least 6 feet from the foundation. Clear any obstructions.
• Clear your yard of potential flying debris. Store lawn furniture, potted plants, bicycles, trash cans or other loose items.
• Protect your windows and glass doors. If you have functional shutters, secure them.
• Move business and construction vehicles to higher ground. Keeping vehicles and other movable property out of harm’s way can shorten the downtime faced by your organization and get you back in business sooner after the storm has passed
• Test your generator or battery backup. Be prepared for an extended power outage, especially if you have electrically powered medical equipment. Store extra fuel safely and only in approved containers. Don’t operate portable gas generators indoors or in enclosed spaces where it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Charge your cell phone and any extra batteries. Adjust settings to eliminate non-essential apps and preserve battery life. Store emergency phone numbers in your contacts, including family members, your doctor, your insurance agent and your insurance company’s claims phone number. Keep a paper copy in case you lose power.
• Stock up on flashlights, spare batteries, food and water. Keep your emergency kit supplied with provisions for each family member. Have enough food, water, and basic supplies to last at least 72 hours Don’t forget your pets. Keep extra diapers on hand for little ones.
• Check your first aid kit. Keep it stocked with the basics to treat minor scrapes or injuries; in the case of a disaster, emergency medical services may be limited to life-threatening cases. Keep several days’ supply of prescription medications on hand.
• Store a copy of important documents like birth certificates, marriage records, property deeds, bank accounts, etc. It’s best to keep a copy offsite, in a safe deposit box or digitally in a location you can access from anywhere
• Keep a home inventory. If a storm is imminent, it may be too late to thoroughly document your belongings, but even taking cellphone photos of each room can help if you need to file an insurance claim later.
• Park your car indoors or on high ground away from potential sources of damage (falling debris, projectiles, etc.). Be sure to have a tarp and waterproof tape handy to seal your windows and doors, as well.
• Keep your car fueled up. Gas pumps won’t work if there’s a power outage
• Make sure your tires and wipers are in good shape
Know how to protect your boat if a hurricane or other severe weather event is approaching. We developed these tips with help from the U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Administration. Ultimately, the best way to protect your vessel is to remove it from the water, and all other measures are supplemental in the event this can’t be done.
Whether your boat is docked, anchored, or in dry storage:
• Have a storm strategy and implement it well before the hurricane hits.
• Remove non-secure items, electronics and excess gear.
• Remove important documents and valuables.
• Make sure openings are watertight, and remove or stow non-essential canvas.
• Ensure that all self-bailing thru hull fittings are clear of debris.
• Check that batteries are fully charged and that automatic bilge pump switches are operational.
If your boat is docked:
• Double-up on chafe protection.
• Double all lines, attaching them high on pilings to allow for a storm surge. The longer the dock lines, the better a boat will move with high and rough tides.
If your boat is anchored:
• Do not tie it parallel to the shore.
• Leave plenty of room between your boat and other boats.
• Be sure to use enough line to allow for a storm surge.
• Clear all self-baling cockpit drains.
• Consider using several anchors.
If your boat is in dry storage:
• Place it in an area higher than the expected storm surge.
• Lash it to its cradle with heavy lines and consider adding water to the bilge to help hold it down. Never leave your boat on davits or on a hydro-lift.
• If your boat is on a trailer, take some air out of the tires and secure the wheels with blocks between the frame and the axles.
• Make sure all drains are free from debris and drain plugs are removed.

Tips for your child and your auto, away at school

By | Personal Insurance

A woman arriving at college

Insurance follows the car so make sure the limits of liability afforded by your policy are adequate enough to protect you and your child while they are away at school. As the world opens so do the roads and risks.
Here are some helpful safety tips for your child to follow:

• Do not leave valuables such as laptops in a vehicle
• Know the traffic laws of the town/city/state
• Know where you can and cannot park. All parking fines must be paid before you get your diploma
• Campuses have a very high pedestrian/bicyclist population. Be aware and/or give the right of way when appropriate
• Be very careful who you let drive your car. Consequently, understand that if your child is a passenger or operator of another vehicle, that vehicle’s insurance is primary in the event of an accident. Make sure the
liability and under/uninsured liability limits on your policy are adequate, in case those limits are needed for any excess coverage
• Do not text and drive
• Always have a designated driver

Employment Practices Liability Insurance

By | Personal Insurance

EPLI coverage provides vital protection especially for the small to midsize business. EPLI provides a limit of insurance, separate from the general liability to protect your business operations against many actual or alleged wrongful acts. Those could include personnel and staffing matters, hiring and firing or allegations of discrimination in the workplace. Because circumstances can vary widely, it’s important to assess your situation, consult with your attorney and speak to an independent agent who can tailor coverage to fit your needs. Four common misconceptions about EPLI are:
1. It’s only for large corporations.
Just because a business is small, doesn’t mean it is immune to charges of unlawful employment practices. The difference between large and small companies can be this: expectations. Large businesses recognize the risk and need for protection and often have legal representation advising them of the importance of EPLI coverage. Small businesses often have a familial vibe, so getting hit with a lawsuit feels impossible. It’s not!
2. We don’t have the funds to pay for coverage.
Smaller businesses may think the coverage is expensive and they cannot afford it. I say they can’t afford to go without it. EPLI claims can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars or more, not including legal defense costs.
3. The application process is difficult, and we don’t have the documentation to secure coverage.
We can help your small business apply for EPLI coverage or add it to your existing commercial general liability (CGL) policy.
4. EPLI coverage is advantageous for only certain types of businesses.
This is a common misconception. Businesses in a wide variety of industries can benefit from EPLI coverage such as distributors, manufacturers, medical and dental offices, publishers, restaurants and retail operations

Legal Fees can be Costly so f Don’t wait until it’s too late. Your policy provides you with a legal hotline and a website, which features many resources to help you prevent employee charges and lawsuits
Clickable Coverage - Employee Benefits

Homeowner liability is more than childs play

By | Personal Insurance

Before sending your children out to play, be mindful of the liability they can present.
In many cases, your homeowner insurance covers damage to your neighbor’s property if your son or daughter is legally liable, and your liability coverage – whether through your homeowner insurance or a personal umbrella policy – may respond if someone is injured on your property.
It’s always a good idea to keep track of where your children are playing and who is playing in your yard. If an injury occurs on your property, you could be liable for the medical expenses and other damages. You will want to make sure you have taken all the measures necessary to prevent injuries and to protect yourself financially with insurance.
Don’t overlook the liability that scooters and battery-powered toy vehicles can present. If your child injures someone or causes property damage while operating a toy vehicle, not all homeowner policies provide coverage. Reviewing your policies with a professional independent agent will help ensure you are adequately covered.
Also discuss any changes to your property with your agent. Perhaps you have purchased a trampoline or are thinking about installing a swimming pool. Each may be considered an “attractive nuisance” – a legal principle that makes the homeowner responsible if a child trespasses on your property and then is injured. Your liability for trampoline and pool injuries may not be covered by all insurance carriers, so you will want to make sure you are covered if you have these items. In some cases, you can protect yourself by making sure that your yard is fenced and that there is a self-closing, latching gate. Consider a pool alarm for additional protection.
And even with every safety precaution, nothing can replace attentive parental supervision when children are playing.

Construction Hazards

By | Business Insurance

By Troy Dohmeyer Construction Technical Specialist for the Loss Control department at Cincinnati Insurance
One of the most urgent issues facing construction contractors is the ability to attract and retain talent. Several factors may be in play, including the perception that construction can be a dangerous vocation. One way you can attract and retain top talent is to provide a safe workplace with people who are properly trained and alert to job hazards.
BACKGROUND
More than 1.5 million residential construction workers left the industry after the 2008 recession. Fewer than half of those employees have come back. Meanwhile, an economic upturn and stormier weather patterns have contributed to a demand for new construction that have intensified the existing skills shortage.
Contractors are finding it difficult and more expensive to adequately staff up for the demand, leading to a much older workforce with an average age of around 50. Additional training may be necessary to assure that aging workers remain safe while performing physically demanding work. Young workers may also need extra training to bring them up to speed on worksite safety practices.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Training – both at orientation and through continual reinforcement – is paramount to protecting new workers. As you plan training and orientation, make it specific to your workplace so that you send a strong and clear message on the importance of safety and how it will be implemented. The safety orientation is your employee’s first impression of how seriously you take safety. Don’t squander this opportunity to set expectations about your company’s safety culture.
ORIENTATION AND SAFETY
Some common elements of an effective orientation and safety program include:
• Encouraging workers to identify and report hazards to a supervisor
• Informing workers of their rights under Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations: they have the right to a safe workplace and the right to refuse unsafe work
• Providing site-specific information, including identifying present and expected hazards and how they are to be handled
• Outlining required personal protective equipment
• Conducting hazard assessments that are reviewed by all levels within the organization
• Knowing what to do in an emergency
• Reinforcing management’s commitment to a safety culture
The safety orientation should be just the beginning of the safety process on your jobsite. Toolbox talks each week should continue to reinforce those ideas. Follow-up is critical to make sure the orientation was effective.

Donegal’s Distracted Driving Blog

By | Personal Insurance

Zendrive’s 3-month analysis of 3-million anonymous drivers, who made 570-million trips and covered 5.6-billion miles found:
•Drivers use their phones during 88 out of 100 trips

Here’s another scary thing: Traffic deaths have shot off the charts in the last two years. As phones have become commonplace, how have they affected our everyday behaviors? Most importantly, do they impact how safely we perform seemingly mundane tasks, like driving a car?

This winter, Zendrive’s team of data scientists and policy experts dug into our 10-billion mile data set to see what we can learn about phone use behind the wheel.

We started with some commonsense assumptions:
•Distracted driving is dangerous
•Phone use behind the wheel is distracting, no matter what you’re doing
•Even a few seconds focused on your phone instead of the road can have dire consequences
•Everyone has phones
•U.S. traffic deaths are rising and distracted driving is contributing to this increase
•Phone use is very difficult for crash investigators to capture

What we didn’t know is how frequently drivers are using their phones when they are behind the wheel, at least until now.

If a tree falls, who’s responsible?

By | Personal Insurance

Fallen trees and branches are a significant cause of damage and power loss after a thunderstorm rolls through. But if a neighbor’s tree falls on your property and causes damage, who is responsible?
In most cases, it’s your homeowner policy that will cover the cost of the damages, subject to the policy’s coverage language. At first, that may not seem fair. But reverse the situation: What if YOUR tree fell on your neighbor’s yard causing damage? Your neighbor would be responsible for the repair and cleanup of the property.
Keep in mind that lightning or wind isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s just an act of Mother Nature.
However, Mother Nature may not always be in charge. In those cases, responsibility may be with the tree’s owner. For example, if your do-it-yourself neighbor attempts to cut down the tree and is negligent in the process, your neighbor may be responsible for damage to your property. In addition, if the tree was diseased and your neighbor was aware of its condition in advance, this could create a level of negligence that could make them liable. Of course, the same would be true for you if your tree happened to fall on their property.
The best recommendation is to carefully inspect the trees on your property and take action to prevent hazardous conditions. Consider hiring a professional arborist who can detect diseased trees or trim dead branches that could fall and cause damage.
Finally, review the coverage in your homeowner policy and call us if you have any questions.

Pre-season checklist for boat or RV.

By | Personal Insurance


Start the season off right! Review these tips before you even leave the storage facility.

□ Remove covers and inspect the entire vehicle to ensure everything is in good working order.
□ Make sure tires have the proper air pressure.
□ Check fluid levels and make sure there are no leaks.
□ Before starting the vehicle, check under the hood for any animals or birds that may have nested.
□ Check all batteries and cables. Replace batteries in smoke detectors.
□ Test headlights and brake lights.
□ Be sure to replace boat plugs before putting in the water.
□ Ensure state certifications or registrations are up-to-date.
□ Review your owner’s manual, or take the vehicle to a dealership or service location to make sure it’s ready.
□Take your boat to a qualified marina for a detailed inspection.

And review your insurance policy with your agent for the optional specialized coverages you may need, such as Roadside Assistance, Emergency On-Water Towing and uninsured boater. And it is a good idea to have a Personal Umbrella policy of you own a toy.