Chicken or Egg:

Assessing Pre-Existing Conditions Aggravated On-The-Job

By Mike Drew, The Reschini Group

Pre-existing conditions and workers compensation can become a “which came first” scenario. Let us help clarify the situation.
Pre-existing conditions and workers compensation can become a “which came first” scenario. Let us help clarify the situation.

It’s one of the oldest riddles in history: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  And while it may be amusing to ponder that pesky and unsolvable mental puzzle, it can become infinitely more troublesome and costly when the question gets applied to an on-the-job injury.

Say, for example, that an employee has a pre-existing hernia.  That same employee suffers severe discomfort from the hernia becoming aggravated while at work, but he says nothing and does not report the event to his supervisor.  Over the next day or two, the discomfort becomes acute enough to inhibit the employee’s ability to perform his expected tasks and he ends up staying home to recover.

Does the incident fall under workers compensation or not?

Well, that depends.  If what the employee was actually doing while at work contributed to the hernia flaring up, then most likely it would fall under workers comp.  But if an investigation – to include information from a medical professional – concludes that on-the-job activity did not affect the hernia, then the answer could change.

It also becomes important to establish that the injury occurring at work is, in fact, the same as any pre-existing condition and can be connected to that condition.  Good job descriptions and a careful, thorough post-event investigation become critical in making all of these determinations.  Hiring decisions should be made carefully, because workers comp expenses can be daunting, carrying long-term implications if lost time becomes a factor.

Let the experts at The Reschini Group help to ensure that you have the proper programs and coverages in place to handle pre-existing medical conditions that may become aggravated on-the-job.  Because, unlike between the chicken and the egg, in this case it matters quite a bit which came first.


Copyright 2016 The Reschini Group

 The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

The Blind Side

 

Protecting Yourself From Online Data Breaches

By The Reschini Group

Attacks can come from unexpected directions. A right-handed football quarterback, for instance, had better hope that the left side of his offensive line can block the onrushing defense; otherwise he’s sure to be hit on his blind side.

The same rules apply when it comes to managing the risk regarding online data breaches. Most businesses realize this and have taken some steps to prevent damage, but there’s always a new “blind side” coming around the bend.Data breach concept image with business icons and

Managing the data breach risk posed by cyberattack only promises to become more difficult and challenging, as rapid and unending changes – that can make conducting business more efficient in many ways – can also open fresh doors for those with malicious intent. What’s worse, a cybersecurity breach could result from simply misplacing a laptop or smartphone containing sensitive data.

In a dramatic example of the need for diligence in HIPAA data protection policies, a provider of diagnostic imaging services discovered that one of its folders containing patient information was accessible to the public via the Internet. As a result, more than 300,000 patients’ billing information may have been exposed for months before the provider realized its error and removed the folder from public view.

The oil and gas industry faces potential exposure to data breach risks, in one example, from subcontractor personnel working onsite, with the possibility of sensitive information on customers and financial data being accessed and shared. Yet the unwanted release of private information – while damaging enough – may not represent the worst part of a data breach. That comes with the cost to repair the damage after a breach has occurred, in most cases.

Addressing cyberattacks varies by state, but in Pennsylvania, every data breach requires notification of every individual potentially affected, representing enormous costs in communication, credit repair, and image restoration. According to the 2015 Cost of Data Breach study*, conducted by IBM, the average recovery cost per lost or stolen record ranged between $145 and $154. The same study found the average consolidated total cost of a data breach is $3.8 million, a 23% increase since 2013.

Let the experts at The Reschini Group help to ensure that all of your cyber flanks are covered properly. Don’t take an unnecessary and expensive hit from the blind side.

Copyright 2016 The Reschini Group

* http://www-03.ibm.com/security/data-breach/

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Life is a Highway

Maintaining MC Number Compliance

By Mike Drew, The Reschini Group

Most heavy industry includes trucks and significant ground transportation, whether to bring raw materials to the production site, or to ship finished products to the marketplace. This holds true – perhaps even more so – in the oil and gas industry.

When deploying land-based vehicles – like trucks of all shapes, sizes, and configurations – across state lines, you can bet that regulations exist to make sure everything is done properly and safely. In this case, the key element is the motor carrier, or MC number, designated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as a U.S. Department of Transportation number. Sounds simple enough, right? Complete the proper form, register your vehicle, get an MC number for it, and you’re in business.

But not so fast, friend.Silver tanker shor from behind

The number of variables already inherent in interstate transportation – plus the nature of oil and gas industry-related materials, plus the potential for carrying material for another party, plus other parties carrying your company’s material, plus any state-specific regulations, and so many others – require the completion of numerous forms to achieve and maintain full compliance.

It can become a tangled, confusing, costly process. But here’s the stark, cold reality – the U.S. Department of Transportation can shut down an entire company that is not in full compliance. So taking the time and paying the cost to get it right, right from the start, quickly becomes a worthwhile investment.

And if all that weren’t enough, affected companies must also be careful to avoid “quick-fix” websites and individuals who promise speedy, cut-rate compliance tips. It’s not that simple, and you could open your organization up to significant lost revenue by proceeding without credible guidance.

The Reschini Group is your go-to source for the insurance-specific aspects of your transportation program, and we can help guide you to the best, most qualified experts regarding these additional compliance issues.

Copyright 2016 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Watch Those Assumptions

Understanding Excess vs. Umbrella Coverage

Umbrella

By Kitti Peters, The Reschini Group

Assumptions can be tricky. You really need to slow down, look at the situation, and make sure you fully understand all the signals before taking action. Otherwise, you could be facing a problem down the road.

Even things that would appear on the surface to be so obvious, so apparent, so unmistakable, can turn out to be the very things that trip you up later.

A great example of the dangers of assuming? Appreciating the difference between “excess” and “umbrella” insurance coverage. They may sound synonymous – and it’s easy to make that mistake, as many people do at first blush – but important differences, in fact, exist.

The danger arises in getting caught with a policy that’s restrictive, meaning you may not have the protection you assumed.

In its most general definition, an “umbrella” policy can extend to coverage that includes general liability, automobile, and employees – but it is not automatically all-encompassing. Again, generally speaking, an “excess” policy provides additional coverage to specified areas of exposure.

Each option has its own specific features and benefits, its own limitations and guidelines. But worse than possibly simply misunderstanding what each coverage option provides, acting on this faulty assumption could prove costly should an event require such a policy to become engaged. In other words, you may not be as well covered as you thought, because the rules of engagement are not necessarily as simple as they might sound.

Assuming the difference between “umbrella” and “excess” coverage may, at first glance, sound logical, but never assume. Be sure. Let the experts at The Reschini Group help you make the best choice for your particular situation, so that you have the broadest possible coverage necessary.

Copyright 2016 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Easy Money

Establishing A Workplace Safety Committee

By Mike Drew, The Reschini Group

“Click here for a free vase,” the florist’s website declares.

“Refer a friend and get a free month’s rental,” advertises the storage shed provider.

“Buy one-get one free,” the supermarket tells its customers.

Found money.  Available money.  Easy money, in all instances.

The same holds true for oil and gas companies – any company, actually – that establish a

easy money

workplace safety committee.  When this simple step gets taken, it yields a 5% discount on Workers Compensation coverage.

For such a straightforward decision, the savings can be significant.  Few businesses today can afford to pass on any available savings.  A 5% discount means dollars saved that can be used elsewhere, as needs determine.

Establishing a new workplace safety committee can be done quickly and easily.  The same can be said for companies who had once had a committee in place, and who want to reinstitute and reconstitute one now.

These committees are a proven and effective way to promote safe practices in the workplace.  They can increase awareness, boost enthusiasm, and provide employee ownership of safety and health while reducing accidents. The creation of a workplace safety committee, and its ongoing performance, represents a win-win for both employers and employees.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, in its Workplace Safety Committee Technical Assistance Manual, validated this when it stated, “Effective workplace safety committees are a proven tool in reducing workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as producing significant savings for employees.”

The Reschini Group and its Safety Consultants, trained at the Safety Sciences Department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, stands apart from other insurance brokers and providers by offering advice and counsel to all clients on establishing workplace safety committees.  Contact us to learn more.

The 5% discount on Workers Compensation coverage would be reason enough.  Easy money, yours for the taking.  But the greater – and much more meaningful – savings can be realized in ensuring a higher standard of safety and health for all employees.


Copyright 2016 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Crying Over Spilled Milk

The Importance of Commercial Auto Coverage

By The Reschini Group

Milk.  Nature’s perfect food, they told us.  Pure and pasteurized, smooth and silky, nothing could be safer or more benevolent, right?  Not necessarily.

Things change when accidents happen. Be sure your coverages are adequate.
Things change when accidents happen. Be sure your coverages are adequate.

Say a refrigerated tanker, transporting thousands of gallons of milk, loses control, tips over an embankment and ruptures, spilling that truckload of milk into a nearby stream.  At that point, our old friend milk officially becomes a pollutant.  It has gone somewhere it’s not supposed to be.

While that may sound like an extreme example, it is nonetheless absolutely accurate.  Those same standards apply to trucks carrying materials not nearly as harmless as milk, too.  In the oil and gas industry, for example, that could include any waste materials or supplies required for drilling, and scores of other liquids and solids hauled by ground transportation.

Should materials somehow enter waterways or seep into groundwater tables from accidents and spills, pollution coverage – officially tagged as an Auto Pollution Broadening Endorsement – must be in place for the company transporting those materials.  The Auto Pollution Broadening Endorsement provides safeguards and the financial support to satisfy reclamation costs and other expenses resulting from such incidents.

And here’s the kicker – if a company does not have this coverage, all of those costs may have to be covered out of pocket, potentially making a very sizeable dent in bottom-line financial performance.

It’s a simple fix.  Adding the Auto Pollution Broadening Endorsement now is a quick, low-cost way to avoid a lot of pain later.  The Reschini Group can help take care of this right now, so contact us to learn more.

Then you can relax with a nice cold glass of milk.

Contact us today to learn how The Reschini Group helps uncover areas of risk in your business.


Copyright 2016 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Context is King

The Effect of Lagging Indicators on Coverage

By Mike Drew, The Reschini Group
Understanding the context in workers' compensation issues can make all the difference.
Understanding the context in workers’ compensation issues can make all the difference.

Is the quarterback resourceful – or reckless?

Is the candidate truthful – or tactless?

Is the businessperson poised – or preening?

It all depends on the context.

The same can be said for the effect of safety-related lagging indicators, two in particular – Experience Modification Rate (EMR) and Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) – that can have significant effects on insurance rates, and even on the ability of contractors to secure work, primarily in the oil and gas industry.

EMR helps to determine workers’ compensation premiums for businesses. A mathematical formula calculates an annual rate, and premiums can go up or down depending on the company’s claims experience. By learning how to monitor company processes, some additional control may be gained over those workers’ compensation expenses.  TRIR is a measurement used by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to record safety-related incidents across an organization.

While these measurements represent responsible accountability metrics, with safety remaining a top priority for companies and their employees, occasionally the impact on premiums can outpace the actual significance of safety-related events.  A single incident in a TRIR calculation, for example, can knock a company out of the running for contract bid submittals for years.

Say an employee suffers a minor accident while on the job.  After receiving prompt treatment at a hospital, he is medically cleared to return to work that same day and does so.  But because this event technically qualifies as a recordable incident, his company experiences some very real and negative financial ramifications.

In other words, the episode gets taken out of context.  The “punishment” can easily exceed the “crime.”

Yet here’s the hard truth of the matter.  The rules are the rules.  EMR and TRIR rates cannot be changed.  Safety incidents can and should be explained within the proper context, so that future work engagements can still be sought without penalty and so that premiums can remain reasonable.

At The Reschini Group, our in-house safety consultants bring a fuller understanding and context to safety documentation.  Our expertise in safety practices, covering both pre- and post-accident conditions, can explain and detail the proper context, so that a minor occurrence doesn’t need to turn into a major problem.

Contact us today to learn how The Reschini Group helps keep minor occurrences from becoming major problems.


Copyright 2016 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.