Zeiler Insurance Services, Inc. | Zeiler Insurance Services, Inc.
|Why is Business Continuity Important?
Companies today face an unprecedented number of exposures. The frequency and severity of weather-related events seem to be increasing and reliance on a complex network of technology and supply chains is expanding. Both trends leave businesses susceptible to a variety of existing and emerging risks. Managing these risks by developing a business continuity strategy is key to the survival of any organization.
Why Business Continuity?
Business continuity planning is one of the most critical components of any recovery strategy. Unfortunately, not every company develops a continuity plan. Here are a few misconceptions and realities about business continuity planning.
Misconception #1: "Our people will know what to do in an emergency."
Even the best employees cannot be expected to know what to do when disaster strikes. Leaving each to respond in his or her own way only adds to the confusion of an event. Having a well-documented business continuity plan in advance, and training your employees to follow it, gets everyone on the same page - helping to ensure an organized, safe and timely recovery.
Misconception #2: "We have insurance to cover our losses."
Insurance alone is NOT a business continuity strategy. Proper coverage is a significant and important part of the plan. But it may not fully cover some of the peripheral damages from an event, like loss of customers, loss of market share, or setbacks in development or release of a new product. Consult with us to understand what is and is not covered under your policy.
Misconception #3: "We do not have the time to develop a business continuity plan."
Time spent developing and maintaining a business continuity plan is an investment in your company. Your fixed costs will continue after an event, whether or not you are open for business. The faster you can return your operations to normal, the more likely you will recover from the event successfully. With so much at stake, your company cannot afford to NOT have a plan.
Misconception #4: "Business continuity and disaster recovery planning are the same."
Business continuity is a proactive plan to avoid and mitigate risks associated with a disruption of operations. It details steps to be taken before, during and after an event to maintain the financial viability of an organization.
Disaster recovery is a reactive plan for responding after an event. It deals with the safety and restoration of critical personnel, locations, and operational procedures after a disaster, and is a part of business continuity planning.
A Good Investment
Companies that proactively consider how to respond to events are the first to get back to business, often at the expense of competitors. A predefined business continuity plan combined with the proper insurance coverage, maximizes the chance of a successful recovery by eliminating hasty decision-making under stressful conditions. It details how to get businesses back on track after a disruption – in the most thoughtful way possible.
Think Your Business Can Withstand a Disaster? Think Again
Twenty-five percent of businesses do not reopen following a major event. It does not take a major catastrophe to shut down a business. In fact, seemingly minor disruptions compared to widespread natural disasters can often cause significant damage - power failures, broken water pipes, or loss of computer data.
A Travelers study found that 48% of small businesses are operating without any type of business continuity plan, yet 95 percent indicated they felt they were prepared.
- Is your business continuity plan predominately an insurance policy?
- Is it predominately an emergency response or evacuation plan?
- Is it predominately an IT or data recovery plan?
- Is it something you developed that sits in a binder on a shelf?
If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, then your business continuity plan may be giving you a false sense of security.
Business Continuity Planning for a Competitive Advantage
Business continuity planning is more than smart business - it helps your company remain better positioned to recover from the business interruption, property damage, financial impact, and loss of life that a natural disaster or man-made event may cause.
Start Your Business Continuity Planning
Planning for a disruption or catastrophic event should happen when business is going well, not when disaster strikes. Having a pre-defined, well-documented business continuity plan that clearly communicates how your business will respond during an event can help mitigate risk - and is one of the best investments your company can make.
POSTED OCTOBER 03, 2018 7:32 PM
|Travelers Insurance: Preventing Frozen Pipes for Businesses
Winter is around the corner and cold temperatures can reach areas of your facility that you cannot see or seldom visit, such as:
· Crawl spaces;
· Enclosed spaces (e.g., attics, lofts, roof spaces);
· Warehouses; and
· Isolated storage areas.
Cold weather preparedness is important to help reduce potential business interruptions and related losses resulting from cold temperatures.
Domestic Water Piping
In severe cold, water pipes have the potential to freeze and break. If safe to do so, make sure pipes that are located in isolated and/or poorly heated spaces are shut off and drained or protected with a supplemental heating source.
Protect Your Fire Protection Sprinklers
Fire protection sprinkler systems are dependent on the ability of water to flow freely when needed. Ensure that wet piping systems, which may be subject to cold temperatures, are sufficiently heated to prevent freezing.
Severe cold weather can also delay the response time of the local fire department; therefore, it is imperative to properly maintain your fire protection systems.
Lastly, if heating is lost in a building protected by wet sprinklers, it should be restored immediately. Only after exhausting all options to re-establish sufficient heat, sprinkler systems should be shut off and completely drained. If this is necessary, be sure to take appropriate precautions, including notifying local fire officials.
Some prevention strategies to consider:
· Properly insulate and/or provide approved heat tracing for water-filled pipes located in exterior walls or unheated spaces.
· Drain any piping that is not required during the winter months, if possible.
· Maintain a minimum temperature of 40° F (4.4° C) in building areas with processes susceptible to freezing, wet-pipe sprinkler systems, fire pump houses and dry-pipe valve enclosures.
· Ensure that anti-freeze sprinkler systems have sufficient concentration (appropriate specific gravity readings) of antifreeze to withstand freezing weather.
· Inspect dry systems to help ensure air settings are correct, air maintenance systems are in good operating condition, and any pipe closets are well insulated. If any heat tape or heating systems are being used, ensure that they are UL-listed for this specific purpose and are in good operating condition. Dry-pipe sprinkler systems low points and auxiliary drains should be opened and drained of any water or condensation.
· Any branch lines on wet sprinkler systems exposed or subject to extreme cold weather should be insulated and heat traced. Electric heat tracing should be UL-listed for this specific purpose.
· Fire pump test headers should be checked to ensure they have been properly drained.
· Fire pump and dry-pipe sprinkler system equipment rooms should be checked routinely to ensure the heaters are in good operating condition.
· The use of low temperature supervision can help to ensure rooms are being properly heated.
POSTED OCTOBER 03, 2018 6:04 PM
|October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month
Cyber threats have become a common occurrence for all businesses, but in spite of the increased risk of cyber attacks, many companies are not heeding the potential threat to their own operations, reputation and financial strength. Here’s a look at the key findings from the 2018 Travelers Risk Index.
POSTED OCTOBER 03, 2018 5:05 PM
|Ergonomics for the Road Warrior
The modern office for the road warrior could find you working anywhere at any time, from early mornings at the corner coffee shop to red-eye flights at your airplane’s seatback tray table. You may even work virtually, without a traditional corporate office, moving your laptop from the kitchen counter to your home office without setting up an ergonomically-correct workplace. Over time, these work situations can take their toll on the body.
Although laptops and tablets allow for greater mobility and compactness, they lack the adjustability of traditional desktop workstations. With the on-the-go workforce here to stay, it is important to avoid the discomfort, strains and sprains that can accompany poor ergonomics. Following are some tips to help road warriors improve their comfort, wherever their travels may take them.
Trading Adjustability for Mobility
The standard desktop computer consists of three basic and traditionally separate elements: the monitor, the keyboard and a pointing device, such as a mouse. These three are integrated into the laptop in a design that typically trades adjustability for compactness. According to Travelers Risk Control ergonomics professionals, adjustability is a major factor in user comfort.
That lack of adjustability in a laptop may either mean that having the laptop keyboard in an optimal position results in a difficult-to-read screen, or that positioning the laptop screen for better eye comfort places the laptop keyboard in an uncomfortable position. Fortunately, there are ways to compensate for this lack of adjustability.
Pointing Device (aka Mouse) Tips
- Consider using an external mouse (either a full size or travel size) or pointing device, which you can connect to your laptop.
- To help maximize comfort for your arm, hand and fingers, use your whole hand and arm when moving the pointing device.
- Do not tensely hold your fingers and thumb or squeeze them together when keying or using the pointing device.
· Continue to float your hands and lightly touch the keys while typing.
· Check for any special key commands (e.g., isolated cursor control, function keys and hot keys) that can provide shortcuts and reduce the use of your pointing device.
· Take short breaks to relax your wrists, hands, fingers and arms.
· Wherever your main workstation is located, such as an office or home setting, use an external keyboard that you can connect to your laptop. Ideally, the keys should be at elbow height.
Laptop Monitor Tips
· Angle the laptop screen so that you can see the font with the least amount of neck deviation.
· Work to position the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. You may need to elevate the laptop using books or a monitor riser, and then have a separate attachment for the keyboard and mouse.
· In the office or at home, attach a full-sized monitor to your laptop.
· For easier connection for your laptop, a docking station quickly connects a full-sized monitor and keyboard. This allows the user the ability to adjust for comfort.
Tablet Monitor Tips
· Connect an external keyboard if you have to frequently type into a tablet. This is typically available via Bluetooth.
· When typing directly onto a touch screen, vary your postures by frequently alternating your typing styles, such as typing with the tablet on a table or holding it in a vertical orientation and typing with your thumbs. This can help reduce neck discomfort caused by constantly looking down while typing on the screen when the tablet is on the table.
· Limit your typing directly on the touch screen to the least amount necessary.
· When reading only, prop the tablet at a comfortable position with the least amount of neck deviation.
POSTED OCTOBER 03, 2018 5:00 AM
|Considerations for Condominium Unit Owners
There have been many questions regarding an association's insurance policy and what a unit owner needs to insure. Coverage for an insurance claim is dictated by the language in the "Illinois Condominium Property Act".
Unit Owner's Property Insurance Should Include:
- Floor Covering, Wall, and Ceiling Coverings.
- "Additions, Alterations, Improvements and Betterments" which means all decorating, fixtures, and furnishings installed or added to and located within the boundaries of the Unit - including electrical fixtured, appliances, air conditioning and heating equipment, water heaters, or built in cabinets.
Important Points to Consider:
- Although the association policy includes coverage for water damage (i.e. pipe burst, overflow of water from a unit) to the building, the policy DOES NOT cover water damage to YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTY, "additions, or alterations and improvements & betterments" as defined above.
- "Mandatory Unit Owner Coverage" as defined by the Illinois Property Condominium Act. The board of directors may, under the declaration and bylaws or by rule, require condominium unit owners to obtain insurance covering their personal liability and compensatory damages to another unit caused by the negligence of the owner or his/her guests, residents, or invitees, or regardless of any negligence origination from the unit.
Other Considerations for your Condo Policy Include:
- Coverage for back up of sewer and drains
- Increased limits on Loss of Use
- A "Special Coverage Form" for Improvements and Betterments and Personal Property
- Extended Replacement Coverage for Improvements and Betterments
- Increased limits on Loss of Assessment Coverage
- Umbrella Liability
Please call with any other questions or concerns.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 5:09 PM
|8 Insurance Claims that Increase in the Fall
As the seasons change, so do the types of claims adjusters see. Falling leaves create a skidding hazard for unwary drivers. Running deer and other wildlife rarely bother to look both ways before they cross a road. And drivers in a hurry may decide to rush off before their windshields and rear windows are fully defrosted, providing a partially obstructed view of anyone else on the road.
Here are 8 claims that increase during the fall and early winter:
Deer are no longer confined just to country areas. As development spreads into their natural habitats, these animals can be found in highly populated areas, especially as food becomes scarcer. Hitting a large animal can be just as dangerous as hitting another car, so always wear a seatbelt. Animals tend to be more active at dawn and dusk, so watch for deer, moose, raccoons, foxes and coyotes. Most wildlife-related accidents tend to occur between October and December.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there are approximately 1.7 million rear-end collisions in the U.S. each year. Most of these types of claims occur during the fourth quarter and 87% of them are caused by drivers who aren’t paying attention. It’s important to put down the phone, stop adjusting the radio, and back up slowly, checking mirrors and windows multiple times for oncoming cars.
If you’re following a car, leave at least three seconds of time between you and the car in front of you if going 45 mph. If you’re going faster, that distance grows to 6 seconds or roughly one car length for every 10 mph of speed.
Parking lot claims
With the holidays only two months away, shoppers are flocking to malls and shopping centers in greater numbers. This means more drivers and an increase in parking lot-related claims. Damage from shopping carts, car thefts and tight parking spaces are just a few of the hazards. 25% of parking lot-related claims occur between October and December.
To lower the odds of a damage claim:
- Don’t park near cart returns. It reduces the chances of an errant cart drifting into your vehicle.
- Park further away from cars. Tight spaces can increase the chances of being hit by a car door or another vehicle.
- Park in well-lit areas and be aware of who is nearby when walking to a vehicle or pulling out of a parking space.
Snow and ice
34% of all skidding and snow claims occur between October and December. Before cold weather hits, check the tread on tires and make sure they are properly inflated. Decrease speeds on wet, icy or leaf-covered roads.
During winter months, keep the gas tank at least half full since getting stuck in snow traffic can burn fuel quickly. Also check the battery, windshield wipers, anti-freeze and wiper fluid levels. Consider leaving a shovel, blanket and some non-perishable snacks in the car in case of a breakdown.
Approximately 25% of the year’s auto theft claims occur during the fourth quarter. Cars full of gifts and other items can be tempting to thieves. Taking some preventative actions can reduce the chances that you’ll be the victim of a theft.
- Don’t leave packages, briefcases or electronics visible in the vehicle. Items like a GPS that adhere to the windshield should be removed and the ring from the suction cup wiped away.
- Take photos of high value items when you purchase them and keep your receipts to prove ownership.
- Don’t be afraid to have mall security walk you to your car.
- Make sure doors are locked and windows are closed when you leave the vehicle.
Increased fall claims aren’t limited to just automobiles. While home robberies increase about 7% in the summer, there is an even bigger increase when the weather turns cooler. That number jumps to 25% in the latter part of the year.
Smart homeowners keep lights on a timer and use motion detectors for outdoor lights. Today’s home apps let owners monitor remotely to see who is coming and going. Valuables should be stored in either a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box.
Fire and smoke
Just like summer means more grill-related fires, in the fall more time is spent indoors and fireplaces, woodstoves and candles become the culprits. According to Ready.gov, more than 2,500 people lose their lives in house fires each year, and another 12,600 are injured. Property losses from these fires total more than $7.3 billion annually, and many homeowners fail to understand that the time from a small flame to a home being fully-engulfed can be mere seconds.
Smoke and radiating heat from a fire also pose significant dangers. Smoke-related claims can account for nearly 30% of homeowners claims during the fall and winter months.
To reduce the likelihood of fire:
- Inspect chimneys annually and clean as needed. How frequently a chimney needs to be cleaned depends on how often it is used.
- Open the flue before starting a fire.
- Don’t leave candles lit in unoccupied rooms. In addition, make sure pets can’t knock them over and keep them away from curtains and clothing.
- Don’t leave pots or pans cooking unattended on the stove.
- Don’t smoke if drowsy, cigarettes can fall into furniture cushions and smolder before igniting.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets with appliances.
Water damage and freezing claims
Freezing pipes and water damage can account for 20% of claims in the fourth quarter. Burst pipes, dishwashers, water heaters, ice makers, water supply lines and toilet valves are frequent sources of water damage. Turning the main water valve off when leaving a home for several days can reduce the risk.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 05, 2018 8:44 PM
|How To Be a Good Landlord
Many people are getting into the rental housing market as an investment, hoping to make more money in rent than they owe on their properties.
There are nearly 44 million renter-occupied homes throughout the United States, and they account for about 37% of the housing market, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet, while collecting checks and watching your investment grow sounds glamorous, a rental property can be a lot of work.
What does it take to be a successful landlord? Below is some advice for landlords to help forge good relationships with their tenants.
Keep the property in great condition
It’s cheaper to keep tenants than to lose them, so it’s important to maintain a good relationship. Keep the property in good shape with fresh paint and carpeting, stay up-to-date on repairs and lawn maintenance, handle noise complaints and respect your tenants’ privacy. If your property has a feature that requires specialized maintenance, such as a pool, have a trusted company perform it instead of leaving it up to your renters. This keeps your asset in good condition and is easier on both you and your tenants.
Giving tenants options can also help you build a positive relationship with them. For example, you might consider offering a rent discount each month if your tenants agree to maintain the home’s landscaping themselves during rent negotiations.
Maintain appropriate boundaries
Be aware of your state’s landlord-tenant laws, too, to ensure your tenants get the privacy they’re entitled to. In many areas, you’re required to give 24 hours’ or two days’ notice to enter the occupied rental property, except in case of an emergency. Give this type of notice in writing and verify with your tenants verbally to ensure there aren’t any surprises.
Provide thoughtful extras
Keeping tenants happy can involve providing them with some thoughtful extras that make them feel welcome in the home and help convey the idea that you’re a fair person who’s grateful to have them renting your property.
For example, when they first move in, give them a packet of items that make it easier for them to make rent payments. Give them deposit slips, address labels and envelopes that they can use to transfer the funds directly or mail you their checks. Or, set up an online payment portal that lets them pay securely at the click of a button. You might also consider offering an incentive if they decide to renew their lease, such as a free house cleaning from an outside company. This also maintains the home, making it a little easier to clean when the tenants do eventually move out.
Set a fair price
Compare your rental home to others in the area to create a fair price for rent. Set a monthly date for rent payments and include a late payment policy. Many landlords give tenants a five-day grace period to deliver the rent. After that, they may apply penalties for every day the rent is late.
Expect unexpected repairs
As a landlord, you’ll be responsible for repairs that can cut into your profits. Expect to allocate 10% of your rental income for repairs.
Aside from money, repairs may also be required at inconvenient times. Expect to handle your share of 3 a.m. phone calls about issues such as leaking pipes, lack of heat or storm damage. Field these calls patiently and efficiently, and let your tenants know that you’ll be available to help whenever you’re needed.
Encourage tenants to get renters insurance
Some tenants believe their belongings are covered under the landlord’s insurance policy, but that’s not the case. For example, if a fire damages the belongings inside, the tenants aren’t covered unless they have their own renters insurance policy. Many companies offers affordable, comprehensive renters insurance to assist your tenants.
With these landlord tips, you’ll know what to expect, and you’ll be able to form respectful relationships with your tenants for years to come.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 05, 2018 8:39 PM
|Understanding the Insurance Claims Payment Process
How are you paid? Who gets the check? Do you need to replace items immediately?
After a disaster, you want to get back to normal as soon as possible and we want that for you too! You may get multiple checks from your insurer as you make temporary repairs, permanent repairs and replace damaged belongings. Here's what you need to know about claims payments.
The initial payment isn't final
In most instances, an adjuster will inspect the damage to your home and offer you a certain sum of money for repairs, based on the terms and limits of your homeowners policy. The first check you get from your insurance company is often an advance against the total settlement amount, not the final payment.
If you're offered an on-the-spot settlement, you can accept the check right away. Later, if you find other damage, you can reopen the claim and file for an additional amount. Most policies require claims to be filed within one year from the date of disaster.
You may receive multiple checks
When both the structure of your home and your personal belongings are damaged, you generally receive two separate checks from your insurance company, one for each category of damage. If your home is uninhabitable, you'll also receive a check for the additional living expenses (ALE) you incur if you can’t live in your home while it is being repaired. If you have flood insurance and experienced flood damage, that means a separate check as well.
Your lender or management company might have control over your payment
If you have a mortgage on your house, the check for repairs will generally be made out to both you and the mortgage lender. As a condition of granting a mortgage, lenders usually require that they are named in the homeowners policy and that they are a party to any insurance payments related to the structure. Similarly, if you live in a coop or condominium, your management company may have required that the building's financial entity be named as a co-insured.
This is so the lender (and/or, in the case of a coop or condo, the overall building), who has a financial interest in your property, can ensure that the necessary repairs are made.
When a financial backer is a co-insured, they will have to endorse the claims payment check before you can cash it.
Depending on the circumstances, lenders may also put the money in an escrow account and pay for the repairs as the work is completed. Show the mortgage lender your contractor's bid and let the lender know how much the contractor wants upfront to start the job. Your mortgage company may want to inspect the finished job before releasing the funds for payment to the contractor.
If your home has been destroyed, the amount of the settlement and who gets it is driven by your policy type, its specific limits and the terms of your mortgage. For example, part of the insurance proceeds may be used to pay off the balance due on the mortgage. And, how the remaining proceeds are spent depend on your own decisions, such as if you want to rebuild on the same lot, in a different location or not rebuild at all. These decisions are also driven by state law.
Your insurance company may pay your contractor directly
Some contractors may ask you to sign a "direction to pay" form that allows your insurance company to pay the firm directly. This form is a legal document, so you should read it carefully to be sure you are not also assigning your entire claim over to the contractor. When in doubt, call us before you sign. Assigning your entire insurance claim to a third party takes you out of the process and gives control of your claim to the contractor.
When work is completed to restore your property, make certain the job has been completed to your satisfaction before you let your insurer make the final payment to the contractor.
Your ALE check should be made out to you
Your check for additional living expenses (ALE) has nothing to do with repairs to your home. So, ensure that this check is made out to you alone and not your lender. The ALE check covers your expenses for hotels, car rental, meals out and other expenses you may incur while your home is being fixed.
Your personal belongings will be calculated on cash value, first
You'll have to submit a list of your damaged belongings to your insurance company (having a home inventory will make this a lot easier). Even if you have a replacement value policy, the first check you receive from your insurer will be based on the cash value of the items, which is the depreciated amount based on the age of the item. Why do insurance companies do this? It is to match the remaining claim payment to the exact replacement cost. If you decide not to replace an item, you’ll be paid the actual cash value (depreciated) amount for it.
To get replacement value for your items, you must actually replace them
To get fully reimbursed for damaged items, most insurance companies will require you to purchase replacements. Your company will ask for copies of receipts as proof of purchase, then pay the difference between the cash value you initially received and the full cost of the replacement with an item of similar size and quality. You'll generally have several months from the date of the cash value payment to purchase replacements; consult with us regarding the timeframe.
In the case of a total loss, where the entire house and its contents are damaged beyond repair, insurers generally pay the policy limits, according to the laws in your state. That means you can receive a check for what the home and contents were insured for at the time of the disaster.
Please call with questions.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 05, 2018 5:00 AM
|5 Essential Tips on Making Your Car Last
Just because you’ve had your car for quite a few years and racked up 100,000 or more miles doesn’t mean it’s time to send the car to the junkyard. The fact is, if you treat your car like your baby it may still be thriving at 200,000 and 300,000 miles or even longer. Here are 5 tips to help keep your car running longer.
1. Use only the best
To extend the life of your engine, when you have your oil changed use a high-grade filter and pay a bit more for high-quality synthetic oil. In bitter cold weather, this maintains the oil’s fluidity and is also less likely to break down when the engine gets hot. While this may increase the cost of an oil change, ultimately it may help your engine to last longer. Likewise, a good filter can eliminate any unwanted particles from the oil. First double-check to make sure that these products are appropriate for your car.
2. Keep an eye on fluids
While your owner’s manual may tell you it’s not necessary to check your power steering, brake fluids and coolant for years, it’s wise to check these every 20,000 miles. If you’re doing this yourself, consider the consistency of the fluids. Any of these that feel gritty or smell burnt, point to a need for a fluid change.
Likewise, if your orange coolant is now dark red, a fluid change is warranted. Or if it has a cloudy appearance, it may mean your engine needs to be serviced. In addition, don’t hesitate to change transmission fluid every 35,000 miles or so, replacing this with high-quality synthetic transmission fluid that offers better protection if the transmission gets hot and that lasts longer. If you try to stretch well beyond the manufacturers’ recommendations, you may find yourself with an expensive repair bill to rebuild the transmission.
3. Coddle your car from the start
If your car has been parked overnight or more, don’t drive off immediately. During the period it has been sitting the oil has settled into the oil pan, leaving the moving parts of the engine without lubrication. If you wait 30 seconds or so and allow your car to warm up without revving your engine, this should be enough to allow the oil pump to work its magic.
4. Don’t forget about hygiene
Washing and waxing a car regularly can extend its life. This is particularly true during the winter and after snowstorms when road salt can break down a car body, causing rust. Road salt can even affect brakes. Once there is a thaw, drive your car in for an underbody wash to limit the damage caused by road salt. Basic winter cleanings wash away harmful road spray and debris. A good waxing in the fall and midwinter can create a barrier against salt. Use a wax that functions effectively at lower temperatures. Wax jobs in warmer seasons can also protect a car against sand and dirt that are sometimes no less harmful than salt.
5. Play it cool
You don’t need to accelerate from zero to 60 in record time. And you don’t have to be the kind of driver who feels compelled to stomp on the brakes at every light or try to throw the car into reverse before it’s fully stopped. All that constant stress can age your car and may take it off the road long before its time.
Ultimately, if you take the time to keep up the maintenance and treat your car right, you may find yourself able to watch the odometer spin several hundred thousand miles more than you might have thought possible.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 05, 2018 5:00 AM
|Motor Vehicle Accidents in Workers Compensation
Today’s cutting-edge technology allows cars to steer themselves, maintain safe following distances, brake automatically, and warn drivers of nearby vehicles. Yet, despite these safety improvements, motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in the United States have generally been on the rise over the last several years.
This troubling trend is also impacting workers compensation (WC). Though there has been an overall decline in WC claims, the frequency of claims for MVAs has increased in recent years. These accidents can be very severe and are responsible for a significant portion of fatal WC claims.
So, what might explain this dangerous trend? A striking similarity in the growth and popularity of cell phone, and particularly smartphone, use over the same time period suggests that distracted driving may be a factor.
This NCCI Research Brief, “Motor Vehicle Accidents in Workers Compensation,” takes a deeper look at these issues and examines recent trends in the frequency and severity of MVA lost-time claims for all NCCI states combined. The study also looks at the classes most involved in this trend and factors affecting MVA frequency.
Among the major findings in the report:
- The frequency of claims from MVAs increased, while the frequency of all claims decreased from 2011 to 2016. Workers compensation has experienced a long-term decline in overall claim frequency, thanks to automation, robotics, and continued advances in workplace safety. However, for WC MVA claims, the story is quite different, with frequency declining for many years and then suddenly turning upward. From 2000 to 2011, both overall claims and MVA claims were decreasing, but a noticeable divergence occurred in 2011. From 2011 to 2016, the frequency of all claims declined by 17.6%, while the frequency of MVA claims increased by 5.0%.
- MVA frequency increases from 2011 to 2016 occurred in the classes where MVAs are most common. As expected, certain classifications, which are predominantly based on the use of motor vehicles, such as truckers, taxi drivers, and salespersons, generate the majority of MVA claims.
- The rapid expansion of smartphone ownership since 2011 may have been a factor in the rise in MVA frequency. A wide variety of external factors may contribute to MVAs. However, it is striking how the increasing popularity and use of smartphones coincides with this growing trend of MVAs. By the end of 2010, approximately 27% of all cell phones were smartphones. But by the end of 2016, that figure had tripled to 81%. According to a publication by the National Safety Council, a minimum of 27% of crashes involve drivers talking and texting on cell phones. However, the report also states that “there is strong evidence to support that underreporting of driver cell phone use in crashes is resulting in a substantial underestimation of the magnitude of the public safety threat.”
- MVA claims cost 80% to 100% more than the average claim because they involve severe injuries (e.g., head, neck, multiple injuries). MVA claims tend to represent a higher share of the costliest claims. Over a five-year period, MVA claims accounted for 28% of claims above $500,000, versus just 5% of all claims.
- Over the last five years, more than 40% of fatal WC claims involved an MVA. An MVA claim is 12 times more likely to result in a fatality than a non-MVA claim.
So what steps are being taken to address the rising number of MVAs occurring in the United States? Several efforts are already under way to discourage distracted driving:
- Cell phone blocking through smartphone apps that prohibit calls or texts while a vehicle is in motion
- Several states have implemented bans on cell phone use and/or text messaging
- Self-driving autonomous vehicles are already being tested in various cities and states across the country
Will these efforts to reduce distracted driving be successful? What other solutions might the future hold? NCCI will continue to closely monitor trends in MVAs and share our findings.
View the complete research brief, "Motor Vehicle Accidents in Workers Compensation (PDF)"
POSTED AUGUST 24, 2018 6:52 PM