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Welcome to our July edition of Tow Tips!

Your home is likely your biggest financial (not to mention emotional!) investment, so it’s wise to take steps to safeguard yourself, your family and your possessions. Yet many people find themselves tempted to cut back on their homeowners coverage to try and save a few dollars. Centerpointe believes you should have the coverage you need at a cost that’s right, so we came up with some helpful tips to try and keep your premium manageable and your home safe.

Find Discounts – In many states you can qualify for discounts based on different factors: some of these include maintaining a good credit rating, or by being a policyholder with the same company (loyalty discounts) for years, while others offer savings for those with a great payment record.

Animated Construction Worker

Save Money By Raising Your Deductible – Just like with your auto coverage, if you pay a higher deductible when something goes awry you can secure a lower monthly payment.

Making Improvements to Your Home – Have you recently installed shatterproof windows to your home? How about windproof, heavy duty roofing? This can often get you a protective-device premium credit. Also included would be installing a fire alarm or if you have a security system professionally installed in your home.

Home & Auto Coverage Can Be Bundled – Your overall insurance bill can often be lowered by combining it with other coverages

Okay, so you’ve gotten wonderful coverage to protect your home in case of emergency – but how about a few around the home tips to head off that emergency?? Threats to your home and safety can come from many unexpected sources, here are a few simple protection steps to safeguard both your family and your home.

Help Head Off Vandalism & Burglary of Your Home – According to the FBI more than 2.1 million burglaries occurred in 2010, with an average dollar loss of $2,100 per incident – but there are actions we can take ourselves to help prevent these. Don’t post your vacation plans on your social media sites and be quick & careful when loading luggage into your car. Ask a neighbor to help your place look lived in: park in the driveway, mow the lawn, take out the trash cans. Leave your curtains in normal positions but do make sure and move any valuables out of sight, and maybe cover the windows in your garage so they can’t see that the car is gone.

animated fire fighterCarbon Monoxide and Fire Alarm Detectors – Yes, the unexpected middle of the night fire alarm going off in your home because you forgot to change the batteries is one of the worst sounds in the world! However, these rare annoyances are well worth the trouble when you consider the alternative. And they call carbon monoxide the silent killer for a reason – the only sure way to know if it’s building up in your home is to install a carbon monoxide detector.

Avoiding Fires – 85% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in homes: most of these deaths were from inhaling smoke and other toxic gases. As mentioned, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are an important way to combat this, but you can also: replace any worn electrical cords, keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen (where most fires originate), never leave candles burning unattended (or near drapes), place space heaters away from the wall and be sure to turn them off when you go to bed for the night. 

animated plumberRoutine Inspections – There are several items around the home you can have inspected annually to help keep equipment running at peak efficiency and to help notice any safety concerns: heating system or furnace, water heater, fireplace, vents or chimney

Inspect Your Roof Every Spring and Fall - Look for missing, damaged or curling shingles or signs of fungus or algae. Also check metal areas for rust and make sure to seal any cracked mortar or caulking around joints or chimneys. If you see any dark spots on the ceiling, or mold or dampness in your attic, make sure and get it checked immediately as roof leaks only get worse with time (never better!). 

Cleaning Your Gutters - While a dirty job, cleaning gutters is an important way to protect your home. Keeping gutters free of debris helps weatherproof and prevent damage to your home. Rotting wood, cracked foundations, or water leaking into your basement can all be curtailed by regular cleaning of your gutters.

Schedule A Remodeling Project - Let’s say you’ve noticed the roof needs repair, or perhaps while clearing the gutters you noticed some cracks to your foundation – it might be time to schedule a remodeling project. If that’s the case, you need to make sure your insurance is ready too! Be covered for replacement value, as after completion the value of your home will likely be higher – so you’ll need to recalculate the replacement value of your home.

animated home repair

Avoid Uninsured Contractors and Be Wary of Scams - When you hire a contractor you need to make sure they carry General Liability insurance (which covers negligence or omissions that could damage your property). They’ll also need a Workers’ Compensation policy to cover their employees who may get injured on the job – or those employees could end up suing you for medical or rehabilitation expenses. Builder’s Risk is coverage the contractor should also have as it covers damage to your home and building supplies (including materials not yet installed). Remember that incredible bargains for normally expensive repairs is a red flag, truly there is no such thing as a free lunch. And any home repair that you “won” but require you to pay some up-front money is a scam. Likewise, be careful not to give out personal information like your birth date, driver’s license or social security number – they can all be used for identity theft and fraud.

 

That does it for this month’s Tow Tips. Big thanks to all of our readers, and as always if you have any questions (about what you’ve just read or about your coverage in general!) please give us a call at 800-451-8766, we’d love to hear from you!


Welcome to our June edition of Tow Tips where we discuss updating your DOT number and avoiding $1,000 a day fines and possible DOT deactivation!

Semi Truck in Sunset

Many of our Tow Tips readers already know that trucking companies, towers and contractors are required to have a Department of Transportation (DOT) number attached to the sides of their trucks. Trucks have to affix these numbers before they can hit the road, and all new carrier or companies have to apply for one before it can send vehicles out.

But many of you may not already know that every two years (or “biennially”) your information associated with this number must be updated: which is done by filing an MCS-150. The MCS-150 works as an update to your DOT number, giving the government the most current information on both your trucks and your company while also making sure the data available is current and accurate. You also provide specific information about your business: including whether you’re designated as a passenger vehicle or hazardous materials carrier, your mileage, and the number of vehicles in your fleet. This allows FMCSA to verify that the information associated with your DOT number is correct.

Semi Truck Wheels CloseupTrucking and towing companies need to make sure and fill in their MCS-150 paperwork correctly so the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has the right information to tally safety scores based on its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) measurement system. The data you provide is then used to analyze your safety performance within the Behavior Analysis & Safety Improvement Categories (known as the BASICS). If they have inaccurate data this can negatively impact your safety performance scores. And it’s not just something that needs to be done every two years; if you add new trucks to your fleet, change the name (or make any other large scale changes) of your business should also file a new MCS-150.

Please note, it’s not just your safety performance score you need to worry about - you may face a fine of up to $1,000 per day if you fail to update your MCS-150 in a timely and accurate fashion. Worse yet, your DOT number may be deactivated, which could cause disaster for your company, possibly shutting down operations!

As mentioned every company or carrier should file biennially. If you need to figure out exactly when that 2 years is up to file your MCS form, we can help! It’s based on your DOT number, so let’s start there. Look at your DOT number and identify the second to last digit. If the second to last digit of your DOT number is odd – you’ll file your MCS form in the odd years (2019, 2021, 2023, etc). If the second to last digit of your DOT number is even - you’ll file your MCS form in the even years. (2020, 2022, 2024, etc). Next, spot the last digit of your DOT number - this number represents the month that your biennial DOT number update needs to be filed. So if the last digit of your DOT number is a 1 you file in January, if it’s a 2 you file in February, etc.

Now that we’ve handled the when, let’s look to where to file your MCS-150 biennial update. You’ll need to complete the renewal online by requesting a pin from the FMSCA website. From there you can complete the registration online through the FMCSA registration website. In order to complete the registration online, you’ll need your USDOT number, assigned PIN, EIN/SSN and Company Official information.

If, for some reason, you aren’t able to apply online (or aren’t interested in receiving a PIN number from FMCSA) you Semi Truck Driving Through Mountainshave two options: submit a completed & signed MCS-150 via fax or via US mail. If you choose to do it via Fax the number is 202-366-3477. If you’re mailing in a hard copy, please remember forms must be received by FMCSA on or before the date your Biennial Update is due to avoid deactivation of your USDOT number and the assessment of civil penalties. Also remember to always complete, sign and date the form and when you’re ready mail to:

US Department of Transportation
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Attention: Office of Registration and Safety Information
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Room W65-206
Washington, DC 20590

If you’re at all puzzled, or thinking to yourself, “A thousand dollar a day fine??” or “What’s this even year, odd year thing all about?” or maybe even (but hopefully not!) “Wait, what DOT?!” always know that Centerpointe Insurance is here and happy to help! Give us a call and we can help figure out when your biennial update is due and how to go about getting that information updated: the last thing we want is for any company to have their DOT number deactivated or, heaven forbid, be fined $1,000 a day!


Workers' Compensation is not just one of the most important policies in your portfolio - it's also the most entertaining!

Hello Tow Tips readers, it's that time of year again! The latest Workers' Compensation Almanac has some of our favorite Workers' Compensation claims that we wanted to share - don't let these be you:

FORK IT OVER

Who knew that work as a San Diego County supervisor could be so demanding? Dave Roberts, a one-term politician, filed two workers' compensation claims for harm he said was done to him while serving his term. Roberts filed his first claim after being confronted by a man he said charged at him while waving a table fork while Roberts was preparing to Fraud Alert Warning Signsspeak at a work event. The former supervisor pleaded psychological stress from the incident, and because no one else was with him at the time, there was no one to corroborate Roberts' claim.

Roberts filed his second workers' compensation claim after losing re-election in 2016. He claimed that repetitive tasks and a stressful work environment had caused cumulative trauma to the right side of his body, starting at his hand and extending to his neck and back. Trauma was apparently common in Roberts' circles because eight of his 11 staff members resigned while he was still in office, and three female staffers filed legal claims accusing him of improprieties. The County of San Diego spent more than $300,000 settling those claims.

THE EYES HAVE IT

Tim Tokles convinced workers' compensation officials that he was impaired for life, due to a 2012 on-the-job eye injury that supposedly left him unable to read, drive, or use a computer. But the 60-year-old Holland, Ohio resident must have gotten bored pretending to be sight impaired because about a year later, he was observed parking cars and directing Computer Fraud Alerttraffic in a Toledo parking lot-one owned by Tokles himself.

Upon being confronted by visiting insurance investigators, Tokles explained that he still couldn't see well enough to drive, but was able to direct cars into parking slots. Investigators had eyeballed Tokles behind the wheel, so when it came to Tokles' true abilities no one was left in the dark.

In August 2017 Tokles was charged with first-degree misdemeanor theft and pled guilty. A judge then ordered him to pay back the nearly $15,000 he had collected in workers' compensation benefits from 2012 to 2013, and to serve five years of probation. We bet if Tokles' first payment is late, no one at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation will turn a blind eye.

PSYCH CENTER WORKER NOT CRAZY ABOUT HER JOB

Wendy Jarvis, 51, of Marcy, New York must have been hoping for early retirement last year when she reported that a patient in her care had violently attacked her and other staff members; Jarvis also filed for workers' compensation.

But the state of New York investigated, and Jarvis's story came unglued. No other staff persons were attacked, as she Scam Warning Signshad claimed, and video recordings from the psychiatric center showed that in fact Jarvis lunged at and knocked her patient to the ground. Jarvis was subsequently arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and filing a false workers' compensation report. In a news release, New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott called Jarvis's attack "disgraceful and unforgivable," and claimed it was an effort to enrich herself at the expense of a patient who remains in the state's care.

 

 


Welcome to the November Edition of Tow Tips!

For many Tow Tips readers the holidays may be filled with laughter & cheer but they’re also filled with a lot of work - and a vast majority of that work is done on the road. And here at Centerpointe Insurance we’re all about safety on the road!

Last month we shared ways to recognize and avoid dangerous obstacles while driving. This month we thought it might be fun to share some Road Safety Tips we found from around the world to highlight some similarities (and a lot of differences!) in our approaches to road safety.

 

BRAZILBump Road Sign

As an alternative to hiring a larger police force, many towns in Brazil resort to speed bumps. Some are huge and so steep they look like concrete cylinders. In theory, lombadas should be painted with bright stripes and there should be warning signs as well as signs at the bumps. But that doesn't always happen.

 

AUSTRALIA

Kangaroos are particularly dangerous and will hop across the road directly in front of your vehicle, and then hop along the road rather than hop off it. Emus also run across roads and have no sense Road Hazards in Australiaof directions and how to get out of the way. Off the main highways many roads run adjacent to farms that are unfenced, and stock on the road are common.

 

RUSSIA

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel: “Be prepared to stop immediately when a traffic light turns to amber, as residents tend to anticipate the green light. Drivers frequently pass on the right, tailgate, cross solid lines or make illegal U-turns. They often fail to use turn signals, yield right of way, slow down to let others pass or dim high beams for oncoming traffic. Few people use seat belts. Some drivers swerve dangerously from lane to lane on wide boulevards, ignoring painted lanes and other drivers’ signaled intentions.

 

CHINA

Roundabouts - Roundabouts are not explained in Chinese driving  test material, apart from that drivers on the roundabout should give way to vehicles entering without priority. So roundabouts have the ridiculously inefficient situation where only the vehicle that gets there first has priority and then only if it is bigger or travelling faster or with more “purpose”. Take care. Keeping to the outside of the roundabout is recommended.

Road Sign

 

FRANCE

Be sure to pack reflective jackets (gilets) for everyone in the car. Make sure they are within reach inside the car. You need a breathalyzer/alcohol kit in your car. While the $13 fine for not carrying one has been postponed indefinitely, you are still required to have an approved breathalyzer in your car.

 

SOUTH AFRICA

Thieves have been known to employ various methods to make a vehicle stop, enabling them to rob the occupants. One such method is the placing of large stones in the middle of the road. In the circumstances, it is prudent to carefully drive around the stones or obstacle, rather than stop the vehicle

Warning Road Sign

INDIA

Cows are holy in India, in fact a whopping 30% of the world's cattle live here. You will find them casually ambling along main roads in India, sometimes blocking traffic, and all you can do is wait for them to meander out of the way. Or if you're traveling at high speeds (you or your driver, not the cow), swerve to avoid them.

 

GERMANY

Running out of fuel on the Autobahn is illegal, as it as seen as a preventable circumstance, and leads to stopping on the Autobahn, which, as stated in rule 2, is prohibited. Passing on the right is strictly prohibited, and if caught engaging in such actions, heavy fines will apply.

 

SAUDI ARABIABeware of Surprises Road Sign

Saudi Arabia is routinely ranked as having some of the world’s highest number of accidents and fatalities. A Saudi Arabian study from 2012 estimated that by 2014, one person would die every hour on Saudi Arabia’s roads. With no national speed limit, lack of police enforcement, an abundance of fast cars and frequent rule breaking, the fatality rate is unsurprisingly high. Studies show that women tend to be safer drivers than men and since they are prohibited from driving, a macho and competitive attitude has developed on Saudi Arabian roads, increasingly the overall danger.

 

CANADA

Just be late. Being late for work or an appointment is better than endangering your life or the life of someone else.

 


Welcome to the October Edition of Tow Tips!

A towing company that drives safely is a towing company that saves lives, time and money! This month we feature safety tips that will help you avoid objects on the road.

Nobody wants to run into something, but what about when what you're trying to avoid is running full speed right at you? Or can hop, jump or even fly in front of your vehicle without warning? Wildlife happens!

And not all potential pitfalls out on the road have four legs; potholes can destroy your wheels, alignment, suspension and tires; or worse yet cause an accident while swerving to miss them!

Centerpointe Insurance is here to help your company stay safe and maybe even miss a moose! Read on to learn more

Tips to avoid hitting a deer

Tips

How to handle hitting wildlife

 

Auto Dismantling is more than a job, it's also...
good for the environment?!

 

And it's not just Auto Dismantlers! Salvage Yards and Auto Wreckers all do important work helping to keep the world a safer place.

 

WELCOME READERS TO THE AUGUST EDITION
OF TOW TIPS!

It’s not old pizza boxes or aluminum cans, nor is it piled up newspapers and empty bottles. Automobiles, yes Salvage Yardautomobiles according to the Automotive Recyclers Association, are among the most recycled commodities in the marketplace today with the industry recycling over 4 million motor vehicles annually in the US and Canada alone.

And it isn’t just the metal that is being recycled, dismantlers also recycle: gasoline, brake fluid, car batteries, antifreeze, tires, refrigerants, used motor oil, and the list goes on! In one area of New York alone 12,800 gallons of Antifreeze, 1,351 car batteries, 22,640 gallons of diesel fuel, 41,374 gallons of gasoline and 4,705 tires were kept out of landfills and recycled within one year.

There’s another positive impact that Auto Dismantlers have, Auto Dismantlingthey help keep neighborhoods free of abandoned vehicles! When junk automobiles are abandoned on the side of the street this can adversely affect the health and safety of local residents, leaving the possibility of environmental destruction. Instead, not only are auto dismantlers treating these discarded vehicles without imposing environmental impact, they are also collecting (and then sharing!) the precious resources available. This helps eliminate resource risks (depletion, sudden rise and supply) along with battling global warming, not to mention keeping the blight of an abandoned vehicle off our streets.

That’s wonderful news and great for the planet, but how about our pocketbooks?Auto Wreckers When these auto parts get recycled many are as good as new and passed on to the customer for up to 80% savings over the cost of new parts! This doesn’t just apply to the consumer either, body shops and insurance companies also save money with these lower prices for parts. Ultimately these savings can lead to lower premiums, which is more money back into the consumer’s pocket yet again! And don’t forget, according to the Automotive Recyclers Association the automotive recycling industry employs over 140,000 people in the United States and generates $32 Billion in sales nationwide; helping to support many other industries like shipping, waste removal, heavy equipment and towing.

Auto Dismantlers, Salvage Yards and Auto Wreckers all do important work helping to keep the world a safer place and we here at Centerpointe Insurance appreciate all of their hard work and dedication.

 


 

SOCIAL MEDIA - YOU'VE BEEN DECLINED

July 2014

he internet can be a very useful tool for advertising your business. These days almost everyone has a website, facebook, instagram (or a million other ways!) that describes what you do and how you do it. Your website can be great for business, but it can also create unintended consequences.

 

What you may not realize is that insurance company underwriters view your website during the process of evaluating your business for a quote. If they see something they don't like, your opportunity to get a quote can be declined.

Many of the "beauty shots" with exotic vehicles are appealing to the towing industry but to an underwriter they are a red warning flag. Some of these exotic and high valued autos exceed the coverage limits you carry on your policy. To some underwriters, this type of operation doesn't even fall under the operations of disabled vehicle towing, but is considered auto transportation.

In the 30 years we have insured the towing industry we've seen just about every imaginable object on and around tow trucks, from airplanes to military tanks. It has become common practice to include photos of this nature on websites but in today's insurance marketplace that can hurt you not help you. We also see a lot of business descriptions that imply "we do everything from A - Z, anywhere in the country" but that may also hurt you as well!

Take a look at your website and try to see it through the eyes of an underwriter. The snapshot of your rotator lowering an air conditioning unit onto the roof of a building is going to get your insurance cancelled, or at the very least, you won't have access to all the companies that quote your class of business.

It is understandable to look for every opportunity for revenue, and you don't want to miss a job just because of your website, but it is very important that your website reflect the actual things you do and where you do them. If your business has a specialization, like construction equipment hauling, be specific about the types of equipment you haul and where you haul it to. When the radius of your average business operations goes from local to long distance rates can really go up.

Type your business name into your browser and see what pops up. Are you aware that your customers can post reviews about your business? You want to make sure that negative reviews are dealt with immediately.

There are all sorts of social media today; Twitter, facebook, Youtube, and of course the worst of all, Reality TV. You want to continually make sure that on the internet your business is represented fairly and accurately.

 

Workers' Compensation is not just one of the most important policies in your portfolio - it's also the most entertaining!

Hello Tow Tips readers, the 2017 Workers' Compensation Almanac arrived in our offices and I wanted to share a few of our favorite stories, don't let these be you:

SPINELESS OPERATORS

If you had back surgery for a workplace injury at Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, California, call the cops -- you could be one of more than 4,400 people who unknowingly participated in a $600 million fraud scheme dubbed "Operation Spinal Cap" by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal prosecutors said the ruse occurred over a 15-year period, and the majority of cases were paid for by the California workers' compensation system. Patients were treated like livestock, herded to the now-defunct Long Beach hospital for back surgeries instead of being referred to institutions closer to their homes. In return, two physicians, two chiropractors, and a former hospital executive allegedly paid kickbacks of $10,000 to $20,000 to referring doctors for each surgery. As of last November, two defendants had pled guilty and the other three were expected to do the same. But all five are reportedly bending over backward to cooperate in the ongoing investigation.

PRANKSTER BOSS FINDS THE JOKE'S ON HIM

Aaron English liked to keep things "interesting" at Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, the Montrose Colorado facility where he was employed as a supervisor. He did this by hiding makeshift bombs around the property and in vehicles workers used, firing a potato gun at workers while they were on the job, and inserting feces into employees' lunch boxes.

But flying objects hit the fan after employee Bill Bailey was fired for complaining about the work environment, and soon after leaving the company, filed for workers' compensation benefits and disability, claiming he'd lost his hearing from the explosion of a homemade bomb made by English. At Bailey's disability hearing, English readily admitted making and detonating the bomb that injured Bailey, and proudly gave detailed information about his many other pranks. The judge ruled the water association responsible for Bailey's termination and his injury, ordering the organization to cover all Bailey's disability payments.

FINGER POINTS TO FRAUD

Ronald Scott Dee, owner of Venetian Stone Works in Irvine, California, called his insurance carrier to accuse an employee of filing a false claim for a finger he lost on the job. When the claims adjuster called the employee to investigate the suspected fraud, she learned he'd been using an old table saw without guards when the injury occurred. The employee also let it slip that while he worked for one of Dee's businesses, he received paychecks from two different companies, both owned by Dee.

This information led to an investigation of Dee's businesses - and a fistful of charges that could put Dee and his bookkeeper away for more than 60 years. Investigators found the company had operated for three years without workers' compensation insurance and was underreporting payroll, wrongly classifying employees as independent contractors, and failing to report claims.

Charges of insurance fraud were filed, and since then, additional charges have been brought by the State of California's Employment Development Department against Dee and his bookkeeper, for failure to file tax reports from 2006 to 2013 and for underreporting payroll.

4 Safety Tips You Can't Live Without!  

What can a safe workplace do for you?  The benefits of maintaining a safe work environment are many, but the first and foremost, safety is about what you can do to protect your workers.  It’s the right thing to do! 

 

A safe work environment boosts employee morale, which increases productivity.   A safe workplace also impacts your company’s bottom line both directly and indirectly.  Costs associated with incidents, worker’s comp claims, insurance costs and legal fees are minimized in a safe work environment. 

 

 

 

  • FEDERAL LAW requires that you must be trained in the safe methods of performing your job.  You need to know about the workplace hazards to which you may be exposed, how to recognize the hazards, and how to control any exposure that may be present. The best way to gain this knowledge is through education and training.
  • WHY EDUCATION?  Education teaches why safe practices and procedures are important; education affects attitudes about safety; and attitudes affect behavior.
  • WHY TRAINING?  Training improves the skills necessary for working safely.  You must know the safety and health rules; how to identify any worksite hazards, safe work procedures and what to do in emergencies.
  • WHY DOCUMENT training and education?  Experienced workers know that putting things in writing has benefits more valuable than just avoiding an OSHA citation.  Putting things in writing has value in legal proceedings, in employment matters, in dealings with other government agencies, and recording the progress toward achieving a safe, healthful workplace. 

 


5 Money Saving Tips for your Business Insurance!  

Business insurance provides essential protection for you and your business.  It can prevent the financial losses that may occur as the result of unexpected problems or accidents from affecting your finances and your ability to keep your business running.   It is necessary; however, there are ways you can save money on your business insurance. 

  • SHOP AROUND. Centerpointe can shop for you!   Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to shop to find protection suited to what you ‘re looking for:  a price that’s right without compromising coverage.
  • CHOOSE A HIGHER DEDUCTIBLE.  The higher the deductible, the lower your insurance premium, keeping in mind to not set the deductible so high it will be a financial burden for you to pay if you happen to have a loss.
  • BUY A PACKAGE POLICY.  When you buy all your business insurance from one insurer (as commercial property and general liability) you’ll likely get the best price.
  • ASK ABOUT DISCOUNTS.  Did you know that your membership in your professional association could qualify you for a discount?
  • ASK ABOUT LOSS PREVENTION RECOMMENDATIONS THAT WILL LOWER YOUR PREMIUMS. Request a loss prevention inspection and audit, then follow through with the recommendations.  Implementing safety programs, installing alarms and sprinklers could reduce potential future claims and could lower your premium.  Did you know that having a guard dog could actually increase your premium?

 

5 Dos and Don'ts for your Holiday Party!

Holiday parties are a way to introduce fun into the workday, relax and a great way for companies to make employees feel appreciated.  However, it is important to be familiar with the potential legal consequences involved with hosting a party.  Here are five legal dos and don'ts for your business holiday festivities which will keep you off the "naughty" list.

 

 

 

1. DON’T make your party about one holiday or another.  Your end of the year and/or holiday celebration should be inclusive of all employees' beliefs and cultures.  By doing so you will likely save your company from possible religious discrimination.

 

2. DO provide rides home.  Alcoholic beverages are often viewed as an essential ingredient for a party. When employers serve alcohol at a party, they may be taking responsibility for their guests' consumption. If a guest who is drunk goes on to drive drunk and/or cause damage or injury, there is a possibility that the employer will be held liable.  Offer cabs or designated drivers to send guests on their merry way and always offer plenty of food with a large assortment of soft drinks, sparkling juices and water. 

 

3. DON’T make your Holiday Party mandatory.  If you tell your employees that attendance at your Holiday Party is required, you may open up your business to a host of Fair Labor Standards Act claims by not paying hourly employees for the time spent at the party. 

 

4. DO host a family event.  If possible, hosting a family event instead of limiting your party attendees to just the employees is likely to reduce the potential for harassment issues.  A relaxed fun atmosphere combined with alcohol can quickly erode inhibitions.  Remind employees that the employee handbook still applies to holiday parties.  Be clear on what costumes or dress is or is not appropriate to wear at the party.  Also, remind employees about social media policies.  Nobody wants to relive the office party highlights on YouTube!

 

5. DON’T forget safety.  Hosting a party is a great opportunity to check for possible hazards which could bring injury to your valued employees and/or their guests.  Check your walkways and stairways for potential falling or tripping hazards.

 

Happy Holidays and cheers to the Holiday Party!  Yes, it is possible to have a legally safe party at your business as long as you take steps to limit liability.  No need to be the Grinch…with the few reminders above employers and employees alike will eat, drink and be VERY MERRY! 

 

Did you know as a valued client of Centerpointe Insurance, you would have free access to legal experts and lawyers which could give you specific legal guidance regarding your holiday celebrations, FREE OF CHARGE?  Please call for more information regarding the exclusive benefits available through our partnership with BizAssure and best wishes for a safe and wonderful Holiday Season!

 


3 REASONS AN EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR BUSINESS

An employee handbook offers a number of advantages for your business. In addition to protecting your company from liability, a well-written handbook will clarify expectations and outline policies/procedures. While preparing your handbook may seem like a huge undertaking, getting everything down on paper can actually help simplify your day-to-day business operations.

Below are three examples of what a well-written employee handbook can do for your business:

 

Protect Your Company from Lawsuits

 

Spelling out requirements for employees helps the workplace run smoothly and provides the ammunition you need to defend yourself in the event of employee lawsuits or unwarranted unemployment claims. Your handbook is the place to outline your expectations for employee behavior and performance, so that in the event that employees fail to comply, you’ll have evidence to support any decision to discipline or terminate.

 

Keep Employees Informed about Key Matters and Employee Benefits

 

Your employee handbook can clearly outline your policies and practices regarding pay, overtime, work hours and other key factors which could affect employment. Be sure your handbook also explains any specific procedures your employees will need to follow with regard to any of these matters.  You can use your handbook to spell out the benefits you provide for your employees, from workers compensation to health insurance and from paid vacation and sick leave to your 401K retirement plan. Any benefits you offer can be categorized, listed, and described in your handbook based on whether you cover the cost fully, partially, or offer the benefit at a discounted rate.

 

Ensure Consistent Application of Policies and Compliance with the Law

 

Your handbook will serve as a reliable guideline for day-to-day decision-making that can help you apply your company’s policies more fairly and consistently.  A handbook is one way to make sure the information that’s required by law to be made available to your employees is readily accessible to them at all times.

 

Don’t put your Employee Handbook on the back burner!  

 

It’s one of the single best forms of protection your company has! Find out how Centerpointe Insurance can help get you a quality & compliant handbook for a significant discount through our BizAssure partnership, and how you can keep it compliant every year thereafter completely free of charge.  Our clients are able to receive free Employee Handbook assessments!!!  Read more about BizAssure on our website or call us at 800-451-8766.


 HOW WILL CENTERPOINTE INSURANCE HELP  PROTECT  YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH BIZASSURE?

 

ARE YOU IN THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY?

 

Then we have some amazing services available for your business through our EXCLUSIVE partnership with BizAssure! As a valued client of Centerpointe Insurance you could become a BizAssure member and be eligible for many benefits such as the TRUCKABILITY example listed below.  Whether your business needs consulting, training, or legal help, BizAssure can provide you with top-notch services free of charge or at a BizAssure discount. BizAssure's Truckability Team is built upon retired law enforcement officers and a dedicated legal team that guarantees the best possible service in the industry.

 

Some of the benefits you can expect from this service: Then we have some amazing services available for your business through our EXCLUSIVE partnership with BizAssure! As a valued client of Centerpointe Insurance you could become a BizAssure member and be eligible for many benefits such as the TRUCKABILITY example listed below.  Whether your business needs consulting, training, or legal help, BizAssure can provide you with top-notch services free of charge or at a BizAssure discount. BizAssure's Truckability Team is built upon retired law enforcement officers and a dedicated legal team that guarantees the best possible service in the industry.

Some of the benefits you can expect from this service: 

  • Can guide you how to properly inspect your truck over the phone, or inspect your truck in person, making sure you're always compliant. 
  • Help you be compliant in Hazardous Materials, FMCS, and CSA criteria.
  • CSA and Roadside Inspections training will help to lower company’s overall CSA scores.
  • Mechanical Inspection Program teaches the inspection process used by State Troopers on the road. Helps mechanics master the DOT “Out of Service” criteria.
  • Hazardous Materials, monetary fine negotiation and arbitration.
  • OT Overweight Defense, in both arbitration and the courtroom.

Just another way Centerpointe Insurance and BizAssure helps you Control It All!

 



Auto Service Insurance

 

 

 

 

Keep your shop running smoothly

From oil changes to engine rebuilds, your customers rely on your dedicated service to keep their vehicles on the road. We want to bring that same attention and  care to protecting your business. Auto service insurance from Allied can help you manage business disruptions and daily risks to minimize your losses.

Covering the unexpected

Part of auto repair involves making sure vehicles are safe from unexpected problems. Our business protection can provide the same service for you shop. Auto service insurance protects your business from common risk you face, incuding faulty repairs or installs that lead to financial liability, damage to a customer's vehicle that's in your car, power outages that down systems or equipment, damaged buidlings or stolen equipment.

Extend your protection

EQUIPMENT BREAKDOWN AND UTIITIES COVERAGE:

Helps cover equipment, credit card systems and car lifts, should they break down, including instances where the utility provider is at fault.

 

EMPLOYEE TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT:

Helps cover the cost of fixing or replacing broken or stolen equipment.

 

AUTO SERVICE PLUS:

Increases protection limits for things like replacing locks, portable tools and equipment, and polutant cleanup and removal.

 

Setting the standard in business protection.

With Allied, these core coverages come standard.

 

PREMIER BUSINESSOWNERS LIABILITY INSURANCE:

Helps cover medical and legal fees if for example, a customer slips and falls in your store or if you sell or install a defective auto part.

 

BUSINESS UMBRELLA INSURANCE:

Helps protect you when your insurance doesn't fully cover your financial liabilities. 

 

GARAGE KEEPERS LIABILITY INSURANCE:

Covers damages to or theft of vehicles that are in your care.

 


5 Tips For Saving Workers' Compensation Cost!

 

 

At Centerpointe we understand the rising cost of Workers' compensation is affecting your business.  We are always available to help you make smart business and insurance choices which will save you money. Below are tips we urge our customers to take which could reduce Workers' Comp costs. 

 

1. Contact us to help you establish an "Injury and Illness Prevention Program."  As a valued Centerpointe Insurance customer you would receive free unlimited Workers' Compensation cost reduction consultations through our exclusive BizAssure Risk Management partnership.

 

2. Clearly understand your class codes.  The most common dispute with a comp carrier is the misclassification of an employee.  The WCIRB defines the parameters for each class.  Making small changes in how your clerical staff operate can save you many thousands of dollars over the long run.  Centerpointe can provide the definitions for class codes to you and help analyze your potential for misclassification.

 

3. Promote safety!  Ensure you conduct monthly safety meetings.  Promoting safety reduces the odds of employee injuries. Centerpointe provides monthly safety meeting topics for you on our website.

 

 4. Educate managers, supervisors and employees on what to do in case of a workplace injury.  Identify who will report claims to your insurance company.  It is essential that your insurance company is notified as soon as possible so they can help you arrange medical care for your employee and gather facts about the incident to prevent others from suffering the same injury.

 

 5. Implement a Return-to-Work program. Injured employees who return to work, even in a limited capacity regain their ability to earn a paycheck.  Their safe and speedy return helps control claim costs.

 

CALL CENTERPOINTE INSURANCE TODAY IF YOU WOULD LIKE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON HOW YOU COULD REDUCE YOUR WORKERS' COMPENSATION COSTS!  

 

We offer exclusive benefits and services different than other insurance agencies and are here to help you with all of your business needs.

 

5 Tips For Preventing Workers' Compensation Fraud!

Workers' Comp fraud is a large and complex problem. The possibility of fraud can be frustrating and very costly. At times it may seem that Workers' Comp fraud is out of your control, however, below are tips you can take to reduce the risk. 

 

1. Get to know your workers' compensation insurance agent as well as individuals in the company who are involved in loss control. Centerpointe Insurance offers free risk assessments and Workers' Comp XMod Analysis to our valued clients.

 

2.    Create a clear policy regarding workers' compensation.  Employees should understand the program and their obligations.  Clearly outline that suspicions of fraud will be investigated and legally pursued.  Centerpointe Insurance is able to offer free employee handbook assessments to our valued customers.

 

3. Assign a designated workers' compensation medical provider for your employees to use.  Work closely with the medical provider to ensure that the injuries are consistent with the explanation of the accident.  Ensure they have a list of duties of the injured individual, so they are able to determine when that person may return to work.  Also, ensure they have a list of light-duties you might offer which would get the employee back to work sooner.

 

4. Conduct investigations related to claims to ensure they're accurate and handled appropriately.  Investigating the details will not only reduce fraud, it could lead to procedural changes which reduce the likelihood of that injury happening to someone else.  Always ask for witnesses to explain what happened and look for inconsistencies or other red flags.

 

5. Be thorough in how you screen new hires.  Conduct background checks to look for red flags such as frequent job hopping or evidence of previous fraudulent activity.  While you cannot disqualify someone merely for filing a workerss' comp claim in the past, it could be a red flag if they filed an inordinate number.  Even if the claims are legitimate, it could mean they do not follow safety guidelines.


What is your agent REALLY doing for you?

It's not just a renewal; It's a 12 month job!

 Insurance agents in general will tell you that they have your best interests in heart and will do their very best to lower your insurance costs. It's what happens after coverage is placed that really determines the true value of a relationship with your agent. With Centerpointe Insurance Services, the work is just beginning when we place your insurance coverage. After thoroughly investigating all your insurance exposures, we follow up with an exclusive set of services and products that sets us apart from all our competitors. 

Save $800 per employee per year

Operating and managing a business these days is more and more difficult and can be overwhelming with all the new regulations and compliance issues. How would you like to spend more time focused on your business plan and also save money? At Centerpointe Insurance Services we offer the exact tool you need to help you accomplish those goals, and what is even better for most our clients, this tool is absolutely free. How would you like to make decisions based on the best professional advise you can get, and it is free. You can make as many calls as you like asking questions in the fields of legal, accounting, human resources and labor law, compensation, incentives & organizational planning, and workers comp safety programs. Sound too good to be true? This program is free to you because Centerpointe Insurance Services invested thousands of dollars on your behalf, making this one of the best business investments you will ever make. It is true; make the call today so we can enroll you. This program saves the average member $800 per employee per year. There is no reason you shouldn't be enrolled. Please call Robert Farmer or Cecilia Urcan for more information. We don't just renew, our job is empowering our clients to make the best possible business decisions. 

Your loss runs and what they mean

Every year you spend valuable time getting your loss runs to market your insurance. What you may not realize is that those loss runs can also be a valuable tool for your safety programs. Review your loss runs every year and look at what is happening with your claims activity. Focus your meetings and safety topics on the causes of those accidents. If you need safety meeting agendas please call us, we can offer a wide range of safety meeting topics that meet all OHSA requirements.

Does your agent have an exclusively appointed person in the office to help you navigate claims issues? We do.  Jim Doane, CIC is at our client's disposal every day to provide assistance on any and all claims issues. Let us do the work that you have been doing to settle nuisance claims issues and follow up with claims details. You haven’t talked to an adjuster? We will make sure your side of the story is heard and taken into serious consideration.

Your losses dictate your premium. Reducing claims is the biggest single action you can take to reduce your insurance costs. Reducing claims is the biggest single action you can take to reduce your insurance costs. Reducing claims is in your hands; let us help you from prospective employment testing to driver safety programs created specifically for the towing industry.

We can also help you with workers compensation costs. We have a new program that is designed to reduce the number of claims you have, to reduce the indemnification on any claim and what is best, the program costs and results are guaranteed. If your workers comp insurance costs don’t go down more than the cost of the program, you get a full refund. That is a 100% return on your investment. Please call us for more details. This program also includes a FREE full review of all you WCIRB activity for the prior 5 years to find any errors in processing, claims reserve errors and payroll miscalculations.

What is your agent's mission statement?

We have been insuring the towing industry for over 27 years. We are committed, experienced and dedicated to your business success. Over those many years, we have learned that focusing on the needs of our clients is the principle core and purpose of our business and defines Centerpointe Insurance Services mission statement:

“Providing an exceptional level of expertise and devotion to each customer’s needs, built on the foundation of mutual trust and integrity; and by focusing on uncovering risk exposures and providing solutions for a truly added value to the business relationship.” What’s your agent’s mission statement? What is their level of experience and dedication to your insurance needs? Centerpointe Insurance Services will focus on you, not just your renewal for all 12 months.