Contractors: Our Workers’ Comp Appetite

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As one of the nation’s largest workers’ compensation insurance carriers, we have more than 350 eligible classes of business. Today we take a closer look at our workers’ compensation appetite for contractors. As a general rule, heights and depths are risks we steer away from, and we prefer three years’ prior coverage on artisan contracting risks.

We look at the story behind every account to try and understand the risk involved and will make exceptions in certain cases, but as a general rule:

  • At least one full-time employee (in addition to the owners)
  • Fewer than 75 employees at a single location at the same time. For larger work sites, we will look at egress and number of stories.
  • Generally, one year in business with workers’ compensation coverage with loss run history submitted.
  • Prefer three years’ prior coverage on artisan contracting risks, though will consider an artisan contractor that hasn’t had coverage before if they were a sole proprietor now adding new employees

Here’s an example of the type of contractors we would cover:

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What Small Businesses Should Know About Hiring Interns

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For small business owners, hiring interns can be personally fulfilling and a smart recruiting strategy. An intern can answer emails, manage your calendar and assist with projects while gaining valuable experience working at your company. There’s a lot to consider before creating an internship program, which is why we’ve provided a list of tips to consider when you set up internships can that attract top talent and add value to your business.

3 Benefits of Internships for Employers

Internships give students an opportunity to expand their skills, try an industry on for size or get a foot in the door at a company. While they’re great for building a resume, your business also benefits from hiring interns because:

  1. Interns can bring a fresh perspective to the table. Encourage them to share ideas and feedback about your company’s processes, strategies and long term business goals. You’d be surprised at the insight you can get from outside perspectives.
  2. Internship programs can help recruit future talent. Approach your internship like a training program for entry-level hires. By teaching interns your processes and strategies, they’ll be prepared to hit the ground running should you extend a job offer.

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3. Interns provide an extra set of hands. Depending on
your workload, hiring an intern can help you stay on top of short and long term initiatives. Just make sure you’re giving them enough supervision to complete assignments successfully.

As you can see, there are several benefits of internships for your company. So without further ado, consider the following points to help set up a stellar internship program students want to apply for.

1. Assess your goals for the program.

Think about the skills, projects and processes interns should be exposed to. Before recruiting, ask yourself the following questions to create an internship program with clear objectives:

    • What should my interns accomplish?
    • Who will supervise my interns?
    • How will my interns contribute to a larger business goal?
    • Do I have enough work to support a team of interns?
    • Will the interns need any training before the program starts?
    • What is the duration of the internship program?

Getting these details sorted out will help you create a strong foundation for your internship program.

2. Decide if internships are paid or unpaid.
Before hiring interns for your small business, it’s important to decide how they will be compensated. Unpaid programs are legally an option, but interns will be limited in the task they can perform.

For example, unpaid interns can shadow other employees and contribute to tasks that don’t have a business need. However, they cannot complete any work contributing to your business’s operations, like answering emails or filing paperwork.

With that in mind, you and your interns will probably get a better return on investment if your program is paid. Compensation also helps attract quality talent.

3. Check workplace and labor laws.

In general, most labor laws that apply to employees also apply to interns— including discrimination, workers’ compensation, and health and safety laws. Consulting an attorney before hiring interns can help ensure compliance with local, state and federal regulations.

4. Recruit a team of interns.

Treat the recruiting process for interns like you would for a full-time employee. It’s important to interview each candidate to ensure they’re a good fit and that details about the role are understood by both parties. If you choose to hire that person, put an internship agreement in writing so there’s no confusion about things like compensation or program duration.

5. Keep a timesheet for your intern.
Every paid intern should have a timesheet for tracking tasks they complete. Make sure they document when they come in and leave each day and subtract any meal breaks longer than 30 minutes. If they work more than 40 hours per week, you must pay them time and a half to comply with federal law.

Creating an internship program can be a rewarding experience that also benefits your business. While there’s a lot to keep in mind, keeping these tips in mind can help you find talented interns that can contribute to your business goals, help with daily tasks and take your company to the next level.

For more details about AMT Warranty Corp feel free to visit : http://blog.amtrustgroup.com/policywire/what-small-businesses-should-know-about-hiring-interns

10 Things Every Agent Should Know About AmTrust PAYO® (Pay-As-You-Owe®)

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For 20 years, AmTrust has been helping our agents protect small and mid-sized businesses across America. We understand the unique challenges you face today in both growing your book of business and protecting your insureds. One of our proven business tools to help you do so, is PAYO® (Pay-As-You-Owe®), a seamless workers’ comp payment solution.  AmTrust PAYO continues to grow in popularity across the country with agents and insureds of all sizes.  And you’ll be happy to know that each of our Three PAYO Solutions allows you to remain agent of record to help you build a profitable workers’ comp book of business.

PAYO Benefits to You

1. Proven sales tool to create and close more new business and proactively protect your renewals

2. Strengthen your insured retention as seamless renewals and simplified audit makes it less likely for your insured to shop at renewal

3. Defend your book of business against the large national payroll agencies and PEOs that sell insurance

4. Save your agency time, and money by reducing the chance of cancellation, reinstatement and premium collection issues. This will also save your insured money on late payment fees and reinstatement fees.

5. Receive your regular full work comp commission and reduce the chance of commission chargebacks

6. Easy to qualify for an AmTrust PAYO quote on all Three PAYO Solutions

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  • Risk must meet AmTrust underwriting guidelines
  • Risk must generate a minimum of a $1,000 in annual work comp premium

7. Easy to quote and bind PAYO accounts though AmTrust Online. You can select PAYO or PSR – PAYO Self Reporting from the payment drop-down box on the quote indication screen.

8. Offer your insureds a PAYO solution any time during the policy period

  • New business – at policy inception date
  • Renewal – at effective date
  • Mid-term – anytime on your current book of AmTrust business
  • BOR – ability to BOR policies mid-term based on certain criteria. Ask your local PAYO Regional Sales Manager for details.

9. AmTrust helps you gain the competitive edge needed in today’s marketplace by providing you with three comprehensive workers’ comp Pay-As-You-Owe solutions. You remain the agent of record and local insurance expert on each.

  • Traditional PAYO – Automated solution – Offer your insured the ability to stay with their current payroll company or choose one from our local AmTrust approved payroll partner network. Establish a reciprocal referring relationship with one or more AmTrust approved payroll partners on a local level. Great new business lead source. Ask us for our approved payroll partners list for your region.
  • 3rd Party Facilitator – Automated solution – Offer your insured the ability to stay with their payroll company of choice and still keep you as their local insurance expert. Helps when competing against national payroll agencies.
  • PAYO Self Reporting (PSR) add flyer link – Offer your insured the ability to self-report their payroll, based on their desired payment frequency. Works well for insureds using Intuit / QuickBooks, proprietary payroll software, national payroll companies or other payroll software. A $200 premium bearing deposit is required.

10. Insureds want PAYO – “Be The One”… to tell your insured about the benefits of PAYO!

  • No upfront money needed to bind coverage at policy inception or renewal
  • Enjoy cash flow benefits of paying premium based on “actual” payroll each pay period, not estimated payroll made 12 months in advance
  • Simplified audit process to reduce the chance of large audit surprises
  • No Installment fees on all three of our AmTrust PAYO solutions
  • Better control over workers’ comp business expense

Contact your local PAYO Regional Sales Manager, who is available to you as a resource.  Take advantage of our expertise to help you select and sell the best PAYO solution for each of your insureds

  • No other carrier has specialists dedicated to servicing their payment plans
  • Let us educate your producers and account managers on the inherent benefits PAYO provides to your customers

For more details about AMT Service Corp feel free to visit: http://blog.amtrustgroup.com/policywire/10-things-every-agent-should-know-about-amtrust-payo-pay-as-you-owe

Six Things Every Agent Should Know about Our Workers’ Comp Insurance

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Working hard to provide reliable, affordable coverage

When it comes to workers’ comp insurance, every business wants options and value. At AmTrust, we can help you provide your customers with both. Main street businesses all over the country, and all over Pennsylvania, rely on the AmTrust name because we offer:

  • Customized coverage, backed by the services and financial strength of a Fortune® 500 company
  • Reputable service, supported by an “A-” (Excellent), FSC “XV,” Stable Outlook rating from A.M. Best
  • Experience as one of nation’s largest writers of workers’ comp insurance that gives us the insight to anticipate and accommodate the changing needs of businesses serving dozens of industries

Here are six ways AmTrust can help you build a profitable workers’ comp book of business:

1. We work with multiple rating companies.

  • By tapping into our network of LCMs, we can give our agent partners a competitive edge
  • Our affiliate LCMs provide us with a range of pricing options that you can build into your coverage proposals for your customers

2. We have an extensive coverage appetite.

  • More than 350 classes of eligible business
  • Coverage includes artisan contractors, beauty shops, buildings, doctors and dentists, grocery stores, private schools, professional offices, retail and wholesale stores, and restaurants
  • Wide range of low-risk preferred class codes gives you the flexibility to earn competitive commissions

3. We are leaders in loss control.

  • Equip your customers with the resources, training and confidence they need to create – and maintain – a safe workplace.
  • Loss control specialists provide every insured with an in-depth risk assessment, on-demand safety education, expert training and ongoing support
  • Strategic approach to loss control will lead to not only increased safety, but also direct cost savings for your customers’ businesses

4. We provide unparalleled claims management.

  • Averaging more than 20 years of experience per adjusters
  • Our claims adjusters are able to maintain focus due to below industry average workloads – AmTrust adjusters handle 115 claims per month vs 140, the industry average
  • Team approach to the claims-filing process between the injured worker, employer and medical professional. In Pennsylvania, our triage-trained nurse case managers assess each severe injury and then work with an adjuster to ensure the claim is filed successfully

5. Our technology ensures a quick turnaround.

  • Online system targets our most select job classes, enabling same-day binding of coverage with minimal underwriting
  • Allows you and your policyholders to view policies and claim details whenever and wherever it’s convenient
  • With our Direct Submit system, you can generate a quote indication that will be submitted directly to an underwriter for consideration

6. We give customers a say in how they pay.

  • To help you accommodate your customers, AmTrust offers an array of payment options.
  • These include AmTrust AutoPay (direct debit), electronic check (online or by phone) and Pay-As-You-Owe® (PAYO®).
  • PAYO® offers a simplified automated process that eliminates the need to write checks or pay individual invoices to maintain coverage. It also allows policyholders to bind their workers’ comp coverage without putting any money down at the inception – or renewal – of a policy.

Supporting you every step of the way

At AmTrust, our commitment to your success doesn’t end the moment a policy is written. It continues throughout your relationship with your customers. Whatever you need to support them – from our submission platforms to our payment options – we have you covered.

For more details about AMT Warranty feel free to visit: http://blog.amtrustgroup.com/policywire/six-things-every-agent-should-know-about-our-workers-comp-insurance

Tips to Help Throw a Safe 4th of July Company Party

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Planning to celebrate America’s Independence with your coworkers this Fourth of July? While many companies are closed on the actual day – it’s a federal holiday – many employers still have a get-together the first week of July for their employees.

Holiday parties are a great way to connect with coworkers, but take steps to help make sure you are being safe while enjoying. Here’s a few safety tips to keep in mind brought to you by AmTrust’s loss control team:

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Fireworks: AmTrust recommends that everyone stay away from consumer fireworks and enjoy what is sure to be a better show at a public display done by professionals. In fact, 250 people seek emergency room treatment every day from fireworks-related injuries in the Independence Day season. Show your community support and help insulate your company from potential property damage, general liability and possible workers’ compensation injuries by attending a public event in your city.

Heat: Having an outdoor picnic is a fun way to celebrate the Fourth of July with coworkers. But be mindful of the summer heat and watch out for signs of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Shade, plenty of water and cool towels can help prevent these issues, but pay attention to the weather and consider moving the party indoors if temperatures are rising to an extreme. Sun block is also a must for outdoor parties.

Food contamination: Potlucks are a staple for summer get-togethers, but for a company party you are better off hiring a professional service to reduce the risk of food borne illness.

Grilling: If you choose to use a grill to serve hot dogs or hamburgers, we still recommend hiring a professional. But if you choose to do it yourself, make sure to always supervise the grill while in use. Check gas grills for any leaks. Keep children away from grills at all times. Ensure grills are never used indoors or in a garage, and at least two feet away from siding, decks and other flammable materials.

Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages should be limited at company parties. Consider hiring professional bartenders instead of letting employees serve themselves. Other methods such as drink tickets help control consumption.

Insects: Mosquitoes, bees, ants and other insects can all be uninvited guests at a summer party. Special candles and bug spray can help keep some of these bugs at bay. Be on the lookout for bees and other bugs whose stings can cause allergic reactions.

Driving: Finally, make sure you encourage employees to use safe driving practices. Remind employees to buckle up, follow speed limits and put their phones away while driving. If alcohol is served, employers should arrange for transportation home.

For more details about AMT Warranty feel free to visit: http://blog.amtrustgroup.com/policywire/tips-to-help-throw-a-safe-4th-of-july-company-party

National Insurance Awareness Day: Three Ways Your Small Business Can Celebrate

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June 28 has been designated as “National Insurance Awareness Day.” Although the origin of this designation is unknown, it is observed each year on this day to serve as a reminder to review your insurance policies and make sure your small business has the coverage it needs.

In recognition of National Insurance Awareness Day, here are three ways you can celebrate!

#1. Talk with your insurance agent. Set up time to sit down with your insurance agent and review your policies to help make sure your insurance coverage is still appropriate for your small business. An in-depth review can help uncover gaps in your small business insurance coverage, or ensure that you have adequate coverage limits. Have you hired new staff? Have you added a new product or service? These are examples of how changes in your business could require a change to your policies.

#2. Remind your employees of safe workplace practices. Injuries to your workforce can slow down your small business’s production. The cost for workplace injuries can amount to thousands or even millions of dollars. While workers’ compensation insurance is designed to help protect your small business and your employees, avoiding injuries altogether is ideal and setting aside time to remind your employees about workplace safety is a great way to keep it top of mind. For example, you could schedule a team meeting to get everyone together to review safety policies and provide updated safety literature!

#3. Make sure your company’s data is protected. Cyber security risks are a fast-growing concern for today’s business world. Cyber crooks don’t just target large businesses – small businesses are at risk, too. While there is no way to guarantee your business won’t get breached, the best way to mitigate the cost of a breach is to be prepared: secure the business, get a plan in place, and make sure everyone knows their role in preventing and responding to a breach. Check out “Why Do Small Businesses Need Cyber Liability Insurance” for more information. A Cyber Liability Insurance policy can help provide peace of mind that your business and its assets will be protected.

AmTrust offers a wide-range of coverage options for your small business. For more up-to-date news, tips and information on the insurance industry, subscribe today to the AmTrust blog.

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For more details about Amtrust Warranty feel free to visit: http://blog.amtrustgroup.com/policywire/national-insurance-day

June is National Safety Month: Tips to Help Avoid Workplace Accidents and Injuries

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The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable injuries and deaths in the workplace, at home, and on the road by focusing on promoting safety through education, training, and providing a wealth of information resources. As part of this mission, the NSC has designated the month of June as “National Safety Month” to bring awareness to the importance of safety.

AmTrust supports the NSC’s mission of promoting a safer workplace and as such, we have provided some safety tips for helping prevent accidents or injuries in the workplace.

 

Practice Effective Tool Safety

Tools are an essential part of completing tasks while on the job site. However, tools can present a workplace injury hazard. Power tools present hazards when considering the source of their power (gas, electric, etc.) and the force at which they operate (like jack hammers or saws). But basic hand tools like wrenches, hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, and others can present dangers of injury as well. Here are some key points to keep in mind to help prevent an injury from a hand tool or power tool:

Hand Tools

  • Inspect the tool before use – do not use a tool with a loose or cracked handle.
  • Use the right tool for the job – do not use a tool for anything other than it’s intended purpose.
  • Operate tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles and gloves.
  • Perform regular maintenance on tools.
  • Keep the floor surface clear of any debris or tripping hazards.

Power Tools

  • Disconnect tools when not in use.
  • Avoid using power tools in wet locations; if unavoidable, ensure that adequate Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Protection is installed and properly functioning.
  • Use a cord with a three-pronged plug and grounding pin, or double-insulated tools with intact insulating housings.
  • Ensure cords are not a tripping hazard.
  • For gasoline or diesel powered equipment, shut down the engine and let it cool before refueling.
  • Use guards for moving parts of power tools – this helps protect the operator and others from rotating parts such as a saw blade.

Preventing Slip and Fall Injuries/Accidents

Slip and fall injuries are types of losses that can present a significant cost to your business. With some careful planning, you can help reduce the potential of slips, trips and falls in your small business location.

Remember to:

  • Keep the floor clear of fallen objects
  • Clean up or report any spills
  • Check your pathway for any obstructions — drawers, supplies, trash cans, power cords, etc.
  • Keep an eye out for uneven floors or changes in floor level
  • Use proper footwear
  • Use handrails when ascending or descending stairs
  • Watch out for loose, torn or worn flooring
  • Report poorly-lit areas or burned out bulbs/non-functioning lighting

Read our related post on Fall Protection and Prevention: Tips and Safety Training Ideas.”

Driving/Vehicle Safety

If your small business requires the use of vehicles, periodic refreshers in safe driving practices may help reduce your chance of incurring expenses, downtime costs, missed deadlines, and dissatisfied customers caused by worker injuries or deaths from traffic accidents.

We’ve provided a few safe driving practices, but this is not all encompassing. Contact your local chapter of the National Safety Council, driver education, Department of Transportation office, or highway patrol office if you wish to arrange comprehensive defensive driving courses.

Here are some examples of safe driving practices:

  • Verify driver’s Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) records yearly to ensure licenses are valid and to discover any violations (e.g., speeding tickets); consider assigning those with unacceptable MVR’s to other duties.
  • Permit only trained and properly licensed people to drive specialized vehicles.
  • Check tires, lights, horn, and brakes of company vehicles before driving; repair or replace as needed.
  • Wear safety belts to prevent being ejected in event of accident.
  • Rest as needed – a drowsy driver can be very dangerous.
  • Be aware of the distribution of the cargo weight (shifting loads may cause loss of control).
  • Follow vehicle owner’s manual for braking techniques (e.g., many manufacturers advise against pumping anti-lock brakes).
  • Do not exceed maximum speed limit.
  • Count the number of seconds it takes to reach a fixed object which the vehicle in front passed, and then keep at least two seconds of distance behind that vehicle if the road and weather are favorable; maintain more time if they are not.
  • Check blind spots before changing lanes; look over your shoulder or use mirrors if you do not have a rear window or if the load blocks the view from a rear window.
  • Stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots.
  • Pull over to side of road when making or receiving a phone call, texting, or using any electronic device.

Refer to our transportation safety section to get additional resources for commercial auto and fleet safety.

Electrical Safety

Working with (or around) electricity poses a serious injury risk in the workplace. Here are some potential electricity risks and how to help minimize or eliminate them.

Tools and Equipment
As mentioned previously in this article, tools present a risk due to their power and the fact that normal use of electrical equipment causes wear and tear that can result in improper function of the tool/device, short-circuits, or exposed wires. By remembering safe practices such as, but not limited to, disconnecting tools when you’ve finishing using them, not operating tools in wet conditions, and using guards and protective equipment, you can help maintain a safe level of power tool and equipment use.

Power Lines
Power lines can carry extremely high voltage. Not only do they pose an electrocution risk, but also a risk burns. Power lines can be either overhead or buried under ground, which is an additional risk when excavating.

  • Check first for overhead power lines before starting any work; call your area’s underground utility locator to ensure there are no buried underground lines before beginning any excavation work.
  • Have the utility owner’s authorized representatives de-energize and ground lines when conducting work near them.
  • Perform job duties around power lines with the assumption that they are energized.

Extension Cords
Extension cords are a necessary device for any job site; however, cords pose a hazard when they are worn, have exposed wires, or a loose connection on the plug-in end. These conditions can increase the hazard of electric shock.

  • Use extension cords that are 3-wire type to ensure proper grounding.
  • Do not modify or attempt to repair extension cords.
  • Use cords and connection devices with strain relief.
  • To remove cords from receptacles, pull them on the plugs – not the cords.

Additional Electrical Safety Tips

  • Electrical equipment, electrical circuits, and power supply systems should be grounded.
  • Inspect electrical systems to ensure that the path to ground is continuous. Utilize a small, inexpensive plug-in socket tester to ensure circuits are properly wired and grounded. Test GFCI- equipped circuits using the test button on the unit.
  • Use double-insulated tools and ensure that any metal-framed tool has proper grounding cord and plug

Office Safety

While an office may be quieter and neater than a plant or jobsite, it can still contain machinery, chemical, slip and fall, and fire hazards. Here are some hazards found in most office settings along with ways to help eliminate or minimize their risks.

Machines (copier, shredder, fax, printer)
Only employees trained to use these machines should be operating them. Remind users to keep body, hair, clothing, and jewelry away from moving and/or hot parts. The machines should be plugged in to properly grounded outlets, and defective or damaged power cords should be replaced. Only qualified technicians should service or repair machines.

Slip and fall risks
Keep power cords out of walkways. Furniture, storage, and equipment should not be blocking aisles or walkways. Clean spills immediately using non-slip floor cleaners and waxes. During inclement weather, place walk-off floor mats at doorways to help reduce the buildup of slippery conditions on floors. Adequate light should be provided in all areas where employees walk, and handrails should be in place for stairs. Read our related post on “7 Simple Ladder Safety Tips.”

Fire hazards
Smoking should only be allowed in designated areas with adequate ashtrays. Portable heaters should be discouraged in the office, or if permitted, they must be kept clear from combustibles. Employees should avoid overloading electric circuits.
AmTrust Loss Control Resources

Visit the Loss Control section on our website for more information on the topics outlined above, and much more. Check out this video about AmTrust’s a wide range of loss control information and resources.

AmTrust offers a wealth of loss control resources, including risk management support. Also, visit our blog regularly for more up-to-date news, tips and information on the insurance industry. Subscribe today to the PolicyWire blog.

For more details about Amtrust Warranty feel free to visit: http://blog.amtrustgroup.com/policywire/tips-for-national-safety-month