Nobody’s Home: Protection Using a Vacancy Clause

There are times when the phrase “The lights are on, but nobody’s home” can actually be pretty smart advice.  Vacant buildings are more prone to arson, theft of copper plumbing, vandals and water damage.  Vacant property, often an attractive nuisance, represents a liability.

The insurance coverage pertaining to vacant buildings needs to be understood and carefully managed.  In a typical homeowners policy, the vacancy exclusion applies after a home has been empty for 30 to 60 days, after which coverage begins to diminish.  For example, after 30 days vandalism may be removed, after 60 days fire damage is removed, and so on.

If the property is a home, it is considered “unoccupied” if the furnishings are there although the resident is elsewhere. A home is only considered “vacant” when the resident has moved out and removed the belongings.  Coverage differs depending on which designation applies.

A commercial building is seen as “vacant” unless at least 31% of its total square feet is occupied and operations conducted there must be those customary to the use of the building.  Standard commercial property policies state that if a building is vacant more than 60 days, no coverage will be provided for vandalism, sprinkler leakage, water damage, theft, or attempted theft.

Homes or commercial buildings should not appear to be vacant, if possible.  Owners should maintain the premises by making regular checks, mowing the lawn, picking up mail, putting lights on time switches, and leaving some furniture inside.

Homeowners and commercial insurance policies are not designed to protect vacant buildings indefinitely.  Special policies are available, with limited coverage such as covering fire and wind damage but not theft, vandalism or water damage.

The professionals at The Reschini Group understand the various options and conditions related to vacancy clauses for home and commercial properties.  Contact us to help determine the best approach to secure the right coverage for your specific situation.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Prescription Drug Coverage: Options to Reduce Costs

While it may appear that so much of health insurance coverage is out of the direct control of businesses and the employees and families they protect, one element does in fact offer a level of control available to just about everyone – the cost of prescription drugs.

These costs can be reduced significantly, and mostly by using the same purchasing strategies applied to how consumers shop for other goods and services.  As more consumers comparison shop for drugs, more retailers will compete to win their business, which can drive costs lower.

Here are some tips on reducing the costs of prescription drugs:

  • Compare prices – Drug prices are not uniform, so consumers can save by shopping around.
  • Substitute drugs – When a doctor prescribes a drug, it pays to ask if a cheaper alternative can be used.
  • Buy in bulk – Purchasing drugs in larger quantities or for a longer period of time generally reduces the per-dose cost.
  • Use mail-order pharmacies – Mail-order or online pharmacies offer the best deals on prescription drugs, especially for patients with chronic conditions.
  • Explore an OTC option – Asking the doctor if an over-the-counter (OTC) drug would work as well as a prescription can cut costs. Many OTC drugs had previously been available only by prescription at first.
  • Insist on generic – Generic medications work the same as brand-name drugs and can cost from 20 percent to 80 percent less. This option applies to both prescription and OTC medications.
  • Inquire about assistance programs – Drug manufacturers and state governments offer drug assistance programs for elderly, low-income, and patients with disabilities.
  • Enroll in discount programs – National drug store chains and national insurance plans sometimes offer programs with additional discounts for a small monthly or annual fee.

Regardless of how one approaches efforts to reduce prescription drug costs, it remains important to never skip doses or stop taking medications based on financial issues.  Sticking to a medication schedule helps avoid more costly and potentially more complicated health issues later.

Check with your benefits provider to see how the cost of prescription drugs can potentially be lowered within the scope of your coverage.  The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help in this regard.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

 

Safeguarding Cyber: Protecting Against Ransomware Attacks

If the sneak attack that got through your IT defenses was ransomware, the damage is done. Your files are encrypted, unusable. That’s why it makes sense to supplement antivirus software with a program focused solely on ransomware.

Depending on the nature of the business, every hour of lost productivity might cost thousands of dollars, or even more. Fortunately, while ransomware attacks are on the rise, so are techniques for fighting them.

As described by PC magazine*: “The premise of ransomware is simple. The attacker finds a way to take something of yours, and demands payment for its return. Encrypting ransomware, the most common type, takes away access to your important documents by replacing them with encrypted copies. Pay the ransom and you get the key to decrypt those documents (you hope).”

The article continues: “If you’re hit by a ransomware attack, you won’t know it at first. It doesn’t show the usual signs that you’ve got malware.  Encrypting ransomware works in the background, aiming to complete its nasty mission before you notice its presence. Once finished with the job, it gets in your face, displaying instructions for how to pay the ransom and get your files back.”

Cybersecurity insurance supplements specific ransomware software protection packages, helping to cover losses in time, productivity, and sales in the aftermath of an online attack.  No business is safe, regardless of location, industry segment, size, or level of sophistication.  It only makes good business sense to recognize ransomware for the danger it is and to make the appropriate steps to protect your company and your employees.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can help your organization understand the risks of ransomware and how best to protect your organization.  Contact us to talk more about this important consideration.

 

* https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/353231/the-best-ransomware-protection


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Sharing the Load: Utilizing Alternative Risk Financing

You’re sitting comfortably in your theater seat as the lights go down and the feature begins.  Flickering up on the big screen you see the name of the Hollywood studio that made the movie.  Then another studio’s logo appears, and another, and sometimes a fourth.

Why did it require so many studios to produce one motion picture, you start to wonder?

The fact is, it didn’t.  But it helped to spread the financial risk by having multiple studios involved.  If the film failed, the losses can be shared.  Positive returns can be split, as well.  But the prudent business always tries to minimize its risk.

The insurance industry is built on the idea of managing risk.  Business clients purchase traditional policies to protect in case of damage or loss.  Premiums are priced based on information and projections concerning the likelihood of those events occurring.

But what happens when the business client carries a higher level of risk, due to size, scope, multiple locations, or other factors?

That is when alternative risk financing – a different option to the standard insurance program – can become attractive.  Through alternative risk financing, very large companies with very large deductibles put up collateral against risk and associated losses, to spread that risk out.  By reducing the risk covered by the standard insurance policy, these large companies in effect begin to manage a portion of their own risk.

This is a growing segment that is becoming more and more attractive to large clients.  Alternative risk financing programs may generate less in commission for the traditional insurer, but clients remain connected to their insurance providers because not all risk is shifted to the alternative option.  Alternative risk financing – and the shifting of some risk internally – keeps large clients adequately insured while potentially reducing their premium costs.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can help your organization understand alternative risk financing and whether it could become a viable option for your organization.   Contact us to talk more about this important consideration or read more about Alternative Financing options and download our risk resource.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Remote Control: Telemedicine Offers Wider Care Options

You can call up a quote from Shakespeare in seconds, send a message to the other side of the globe immediately, and even buy a car, all from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.  So why not get checked by a physician?  Why not, indeed.

Such is the attraction of telemedicine – the practice of health care from a remote location, which is on the rise and has proven to be quite effective as an attractive option for many health care providers and their patients.

Using live video transmission, typically through an online app designated by the provider, doctors and patients can see each other and talk in real time about any health care concerns or questions – all without needing to be in the same exam room together.  Although telemedicine is not a complete replacement for direct patient care, it can be a useful tool for a variety of medical services, such as evaluation, diagnosis, and prescribing treatment.

Patients benefit from staying in the comfort of their own homes, oftentimes with a caregiver taking part in the telemedicine session to provide additional information and follow-up care.  The potential spread of germs and infection in clinics and hospitals is minimized.  Those patients living in rural areas, or who have difficulty arranging transportation, can access quality medical care in a much more convenient manner.  And those patients recovering from surgery or severe illness can be readily monitored through telemedicine visits.

For many patients, obtaining medical care represents a significant cost in time, resources, and money.  Telemedicine helps lower those barriers, while helping to enhance the value of regular visits with the doctor.  As access to electronic medical records expands, physicians can combine this technology with telemedicine to bring patients even higher quality care.

Check with your benefits provider to see how telemedicine fits into your medical coverage, potentially lowering costs while improving the doctor-patient relationship.  The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help in this regard.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

The Shadow Knows: Cyber Insurance Needed for Small Businesses Too

The major data breaches may get all the press – 150 million accounts exposed at Under Armour, 92 million at genealogy firm MyHeritage, 87 million at Facebook, and 145 million at Equifax, the largest U.S. credit bureau, revealing even Social Security numbers.

But that doesn’t mean small businesses are immune to cyber crime.

According to the Insurance Information Institute’s (III) 2017 reportProtecting against #cyberfail: Small business and cyber insurance, insurers foresee substantial increase in coverage among the small business segment, as these companies become aware of the possibilities of liability, especially due to a breach and the resulting response costs arising out of the possession of private data.

According to the III, 10 percent of small businesses have suffered one or more cyber incidents in the prior year, with the average cost of cyber-related losses totaling $188,400. Only about one-third of firms surveyed had cyber insurance, nearly 60 percent of respondents said their company is very concerned about cyber incidents, and 70 percent think that the risk of being victimized by a cyberattack is growing at an alarming rate.

Cyber insurance evolved as a product in the United States in the mid- to late-1990s as insurers have had to expand coverage for a risk that continues to rapidly shift in scope and nature. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 140 U.S. insurers reported writing some cyber insurance premiums in 2016.

Online criminals keep adapting their techniques and level of sophistication just as quickly as technology evolves.  Convincing oneself that cybersecurity – and the attendant insurance coverage – is not necessary, just because a business isn’t “big enough” represents a bet that could be incredibly costly if lost.  Just because a danger may be hidden in the shadows doesn’t mean it’s not there.

The cyber insurance experts at The Reschini Group can help you fashion a coverage package that makes sense for your business and your budget. Read more and download cybersecurity resources by clicking here or contact us to talk more about this important consideration.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

A Driving Force: Selecting Safe Drivers for Your Business

Anyone behind the wheel – for any purpose, whether the employer or employee owns, rents, or leases the vehicle – during work hours is considered a driver for the company.  It remains imperative, then, for employers to do everything possible to ensure that every driver operates those vehicles safely, to limit liability and losses.

Those individuals hired as drivers are easy to identify, of course.  The occasional driver, though, can easily be overlooked as companies consider the risks associated with their fleets.

Safe drivers translate into savings related to losses.  The National Safety Council confirms that the cost of losses related to vehicle accidents can be substantial.

Safe drivers mean lower liability in case of loss.  Screening, training, and monitoring performance comes heavily into play here.

Safe drivers also can burnish your image with customers and the general public.  Vehicles are visibly unavoidable on the highway.  As a visual representation of an organization, drivers operating those vehicles safely and smartly can tell a positive story about the company they represent.

Some general tips for hiring safe drivers include:

  • Establish and clearly communicate a set of consistent standards for all drivers.
  • Spend the time to accurately verify and validate the employee’s work history and safety record.
  • Conduct thorough background checks.
  • Retrieve and evaluate motor vehicle records (MVRs) for any past violations.
  • Put the employee through driving-related tests, both written and on-road.
  • Verify any special certifications related to the ability and authorization to operate certain vehicle classifications.
  • Be sure that all applicable commercial vehicle driver qualification rules have been met and documented.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can help your organization get a fleet safety program in place that works for your specific needs.  Contact us to talk more about this important consideration.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Safety Can Be Fleeting: Establishing a Workable Fleet Safety Program

Many businesses maintain a fleet of vehicles as a necessary element of their operations.  Drivers take the wheel every day, occasionally using multiple vehicles for differing purposes.  But do they know what is expected of them at all times?  What kind of training and instruction have they received?  How about purchasing fuel?  Personal usage?  Parking at their homes during non-working hours?

A consistent fleet safety program means not only cost savings, but also reduced liability, improved employee satisfaction, and enhanced safety performance.  While a program is best when tailored to the exact parameters of a specific business, here are some basic elements that every plan should include:

  • Secure and promote the support and commitment of all levels of management.
  • Issue written policies and procedures regarding all aspects of vehicle use related to the business, and ensure that all drivers have ongoing access to this information.
  • Create a roster of all drivers, including those who drive on behalf of the business using fleet vehicles, personal cars and trucks, and rented vehicles.
  • Screen and select drivers to create a reliable team of safe drivers as the key to ongoing fleet safety success. Clear hiring standards must be detailed and adhered to.
  • Offer and record completion of training to all drivers, covering vehicles safety policies and procedures, including defensive driving.
  • Formalize schedules and record keeping related to vehicle inspections, repairs, and maintenance, to avoid costly breakdowns and accidents due to faulty equipment.
  • Manage drivers regularly, offering additional training where needed. Also manage accidents carefully to better understand areas of exposure and reduce the likelihood of future accidents.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can help your organization get a fleet safety program in place that works for your specific needs.  Read more about safety issues and contact us to talk more about this important consideration.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Preparing for the Threat: Attitudes and Actions on Cybersecurity

 

It shocks absolutely no one that cybersecurity remains a growing threat to businesses, large and small, and that breaches of that security have increased both in number and in the resulting financial impact.  What may be surprising, however, are statistics compiled by various governmental and industry sources surrounding cybersecurity, including the following:

 

  • Cybersecurity remains a priority risk concern among all businesses.
  • The three largest areas of concern within the scope of cybersecurity are: falling victim to a security breach, discovering unauthorized access to financial accounts, and suffering an internal system glitch.
  • Concerns on the rise among businesses include: outsiders hacking into systems used for business operations, cyber extortion, and questions about having sufficient resources to recover from a cyber event.
  • One in five businesses have suffered a data breach or cyber attack over the past year, double the number recorded in 2015.
  • 52% of businesses say becoming a cyber victim is inevitable.
  • Only 36% of businesses worry about their employees being tricked into transferring funds, despite a 2,370% increase in losses from such scams over the past two years.
  • 95% of businesses say their operations depend on computer systems running flawlessly.
  • 23% of businesses report that they are unfamiliar with their cyber insurance options.
  • 55% of businesses have not done a cyber risk assessment, 62% do not have a business continuity plan, and 63% have not assessed the cyber security of vendors with access to their data – but 91% of these same businesses say they are prepared to weather a cybersecurity event.
  • 50% of businesses have not purchased cyber insurance.

 

The professionals at The Reschini Group can help businesses across all categories and sizes get a true, accurate, realistic picture of their cyber exposure and fashion an insurance approach to safeguard against attack or malfunction.  Contact us to talk more about your cybersecurity situation.


Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

 

[Sources: 2018 Travelers Risk Index and FBI PSA https://www.ic3.gov/media/2017/170504.aspx]

Breaking an Addiction: Smoking Cessation Programs

It’s no secret that using tobacco products is not a healthy choice.  What may not be as well known, however, are the costs in lost time and productivity because tobacco users may not be as healthy as other employees.

Studies have shown that employees are much more likely to quit when smoking cessation resources are included as paid benefits in their health plan. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that smoking cessation therapy is the most cost-effective health benefit that employers can offer.  The CDC advocates a two-pronged approach to coverage:

  1. Behavioral Modification: This type of therapy could include telephone, Internet, or in-person individual or group counseling sessions. This type of therapy is extremely important to help smokers address and change their habits and behaviors associated with smoking, plus receive ongoing support during a challenging time. Counseling has been shown to increase the rate of successful quitting.
  2. Prescription/OTC Drug: Many therapies are available here to help smokers quit. An employer might consider lowering or eliminating copays and deductibles associated with these drugs. Covering smoking cessation drugs in your benefit plan will not only improve the quit rate among those attempting to quit, but also may encourage others to try quitting in the first place.

Additional strategies include:

  • Establishing smoke-free policies throughout your workplace
  • Incentive programs for employees who quit and stay smoke-free
  • Flexible spending program to reimburse smoking cessation counseling and prescription drugs
  • On-site counseling options (or counseling referrals)
  • Employee communications for education, promoting your program, and encouragement for those quitting
  • Special event participation, such as the Great American Smokeout
  • Health risk assessments to identify employee smokers
  • Personal support and encouragement in the workplace for employees who are quitting
  • Including spouses and dependents in smoking cessation benefits
  • Many employers do not realize the full cost of smoking to their company. Smokers are much more likely to develop serious chronic medical conditions, visit the doctor more often, be absent from work with an illness, or have a short- or long-term disability, all of which are very costly for a company’s health plan and productivity. In fact, smokers cost private employers in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared to nonsmokers, according to researchers at Ohio State University.

Smoking cessation programs should be a part of any organization’s benefits package, both for the health of employees and to dramatically impact the bottom line.  For help establishing a smoking cessation program, contact the Benefits specialists at The Reschini Group.


Copyright 2018 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.