Benefits of Contingent Interruption Insurance

Just one brief business interruption can be incredibly costly for an organization, often leading to serious reputational damages or long-term closures. Standard business interruption policies are vital in these instances, providing protection against a variety of common interruptions, including natural disasters, equipment damage, and vandalism.
 

But what happens when one of your suppliers or customers experiences an interruption that derails your operations? To help address this concern, contingent business interruption (CBI) insurance is crucial and has a number of unique benefits.

Coverage beyond standard business interruption policies—Unlike traditional business interruption insurance that compensates the policyholder for a loss resulting from damage to its own property, CBI insurance lets businesses transfer the risk of certain losses to the property of a third party. 

Reimbursement for a number of expenses—When in place, CBI insurance can help employers cover ongoing expenses—like payroll and rent—should the insured’s revenue stream be impacted by interruptions at a third party. In many cases, it is not necessary that the customer or supplier be totally shut down to trigger CBI insurance.

Protection for a variety of scenarios—In the policy itself, the covered third-party property may be specifically named, or the coverage may simply blanket all customers and suppliers. There are a variety of scenarios where this type of coverage is useful:

Want to Learn More About CBI Insurance?

To truly understand your CBI insurance needs, it’s important to assess your exposures. CBI exposures will differ depending on the industry you operate in, but are most common in manufacturing, retail, hospitality and professional services. To get started or to learn more about CBI insurance, contact Witkemper Insurance Group and Financial Services today.

Workplace Violence Prevention

Workplace violence is a serious safety and health issue. While no federal law specifically addresses violence in the workplace, several laws impose a duty on employers to maintain a safe workplace. 

For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) imposes a general duty on all employers to provide employees with a workplace that is free from hazards. Federal civil rights laws also require employers to keep the workplace free from threats of violence, and state workers’ compensation laws make employers responsible for injuries sustained by employees in the workplace.

In addition, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Act (IOSHA) requires employers to provide a safe workplace. Indiana law also allows employers to seek a temporary restraining order or injunction against any person who poses a threat in the workplace. 

EMPLOYER’S OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE A SAFE WORKPLACE

The IOSHA makes employers primarily responsible for the safety and health of their employees. The law requires employers to provide a workplace that is free from hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. Employers must also keep employees informed about: 

The law specifically requires employers to display an official poster about these topics in a prominent location in the workplace.

Employers that fail to comply with IOSHA may be subject to penalties. Specifically, an employer may be fined up to $7,000 for any of the following:

An employer that knowingly commits any IOSHA violation may be fined at least $5,000, and potentially up to $70,000, for each violation. An employer that repeatedly violates IOSHA may be fined up to $70,000 for each violation.

Indiana courts impose further obligations to provide a safe work environment by requiring employers to hire and train their employees properly. An employer that does not adequately hire, train or supervise its employees may be sued in court and held liable for damages if it knew or should have known an employee would subject a coworker, customer or third party to an unreasonable risk of harm.

TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDERS OR INJUNCTIONS

When an employee suffers unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence in his or her workplace, the employer may seek a temporary restraining order or injunction on the employee’s behalf. The state law that allows these actions includes the following definitions:

Under this law, an employer may obtain a temporary restraining order by:

Employers will not be charged filing fees for a petition alleging that a person has:

INDIANA CONCEALED CARRY LAW

A state law allows Indiana residents and some residents of other states to obtain a license to carry concealed pistols in the state. Employers in the state, however, may choose to prohibit anyone from carrying concealed pistols on business property or in the course of employment.

In general, employers may not prohibit an employee from lawfully storing a firearm or ammunition out of plain view in a locked vehicle on business property. There are exceptions to this for: 

Any policy an employer adopts regarding firearms should be clearly and explicitly stated in the employer’s workplace violence prevention policy.

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PLAN IMPLEMENTATION FOR EMPLOYERS

Employers should create a workplace violence plan to outline policies and processes that help prevent workplace violence. If an employer elects to have a workplace violence plan, the plan will be most effective if it is tailored to the individual needs and circumstances of the employer. It should take into account the resources available to enact and maintain the program.

A workplace violence policy may include the following items:

Avoid Winter Slip-ups

Winter months present additional hazards that are typically not factors for employees during warmer weather – specifically, slip and fall concerns. With snow and ice-covered conditions, you run the risk of taking major falls, which can lead to serious injuries. 

Prevention

Education is essential in preventing winter weather-related injuries. Consider the following recommendations to prevent slip and fall injuries during the winter months:

If You Begin to Slip…

Contact Witkemper Insurance Group and Financial Services for your insurance and investment needs.

IRS Announces 2022 Retirement Plan Limits

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Notice 2021-61, containing cost-of-living adjustments for 2022 that affect amounts employees can contribute to 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). 

2022 Increases

The employee contribution limit for 401(k) plans in 2022 has increased to $20,500, up from $19,500 for 2021 and 2020. Other key limit increases include the following:

The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional IRAs, contribute to Roth IRAs and claim the Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) also increased for 2022. The IRS’ news release contains more details.

Unchanged Amounts

Key limits that remain unchanged include the employee contribution limit for IRAs (remaining at $6,000) and the catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan (remaining at $6,500). 

Contact Witkemper Insurance Group and Financial Services with any questions about your retirement plan.

Designing a Post-coronavirus Workplace

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has changed many aspects of the current workplace, and soon, employers should begin planning for what their post-coronavirus office will look like. Previously, social distancing and COVID-19-related best practices hadn’t been a topic on the mind of most employers or employees. By updating office layouts, encouraging new behaviors and expanding remote work options, employers can help prevent the spread of future diseases, and protect the health and safety of employees.

Physical Changes to Workplaces

As employers prepare for employees who will be returning to the office, organizations can consider the following best practices for their office space:

While updating practices to best prevent the spread of illnesses will also require changes in behavior, employers can take a step in the right direction by ensuring their physical office space is aligned with encouraged behaviors of employees.

Behavioral Changes

While every business is different, there are practices many organizations can implement and behaviors they can encourage. Common post-coronavirus adjustments may include:

Technology Considerations for Employers 

Beyond updating office layouts and encouraging virus-resistant practices, some employers are considering how the use of technology can aid in efforts to prevent the spread of diseases. Some organizations are tracking employees’ distances through cellphones or other devices, and even screening employees and guests for high body temperatures. Employers can also consider installing or expanding the use of hands-free voice assistants, such as Amazon, Google, or Apple devices, with the intent of reducing the use of shared technology surfaces used by multiple employees. While not all of these changes will make sense or be feasible for all organizations, employers can consider how updated business practices can encourage social distancing, and reduce the touching of shared surfaces—both during and even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Expanding Telecommuting Options

According to a survey of U.S. employers by the Computing Technology Industry Association conducted in 2019, more than two-thirds of respondents across a range of different industries and professions reported increased productivity when workers telecommuted full- or part-time. While the feasibility of remote work varies depending on an employee’s job responsibilities, expanding remote work options offers other benefits as well. These additional benefits can include:

Notably, by expanding remote opportunities post-coronavirus, employers can reduce the amount of human interaction that takes place at a physical location. Also, by allowing remote work, employees who are sick are less likely to physically attend the office. Best practices for expanding remote work include creating outlined companywide remote practices, rather than leaving remote work approval requests up to the subjective opinion of a manager. As employers consider how they can best create remote work policies, many considerations factor into the equation.

Preparing for Future Pandemics 

Even after reopening, health experts warn that businesses should also be prepared for future pandemics. Additional waves of COVID-19 could reemerge in the near future, and employers should create plans that account for partial or full closings of office locations.

Prepare Your Post-coronavirus Office 

As employers plan for how to operate post-coronavirus, creating preventive best practices can set up organizations for success. While the easy return-to-work procedure will be to fall back on existing practices, the COVID-19 pandemic allows an opportunity for organizations to consider how creating an updated workplace with virus-resistant practices, as well as expanding remote work opportunities can prepare them for future pandemics. 

As employees reenter the job market, post-coronavirus practices will be top of mind. By being proactive and establishing appropriate measures and practices, employers can not only help prevent the spreading of diseases—but put employees at ease, knowing that necessary steps are being taken to ensure the health and safety of those who will be spending time at the office. 

Contact Witkemper Insurance Group and Financial Services for your insurance and investment needs.

Benefits of Product Liability Insurance

Your customers expect you to have safe and reliable products, and failing to meet these expectations can lead to huge financial losses. If one of your products harms a customer in any way, they can sue your business, leading to costly legal fees and settlements. These costs can easily reach six figures. While you may do everything in your power to ensure your products are safe, mishaps can still occur without warning. That’s why, to protect against claims and ensure the longevity of your business, you need product liability insurance.

Coverage for manufacturing or production flaws—One of the key features of product liability insurance is its coverage for manufacturing or production flaws that cause unsafe defects in the product.

Protection against design defects—Even after product testing and trial runs, potentially dangerous defects can still appear long after production. Product liability insurance can provide coverage for design errors that make goods unsafe for use by the public.

Response for packaging and warning issues—In the event that you fail to provide adequate defect warnings or instructions for using the product, your company can be sued. These claims arise when products are not properly labeled or have warnings that are not explanatory enough to reduce consumer risks while using the product. Product liability insurance helps organizations prepare for and litigate these types of claims.

Compliance assistance—Although specific rules vary by state, the majority of organizations with more than one employee are legally required to have workers’ compensation insurance. In other words, this form of coverage not only benefits employees but it is also required by law.  

Supplemental commercial general liability (CGL) coverage—Generally, there is limited product liability protection under a CGL policy, yet it may not be enough coverage to adequately protect your business. Product liability policies work alongside CGL coverage, providing protection against losses caused by malfunctions or defects in your products.

Want to Learn More About Product Liability Insurance?

Product liability is a complex exposure, and managing your risk can be a major undertaking—even if you have access to all the right resources. To supplement your risk management strategies and address specific exposures, contact Witkemper Insurance Group and Financial Services.

Benefits of a Business Owner Policy

As a business owner, there is no shortage of things that you need to manage on a daily basis. Whether it’s supervising employees, connecting with new clients or anything in between, there is only so much time in the day. That being said, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that you and your business are covered in the event that an insurance claim is brought against you.

A business owners policy (BOP) is a good option for small and midsized businesses, and it can offer you plenty of advantages, including:

Broad coverage—BOPs cast a wide net of protection by bundling a number of different types of coverage into one plan. In general, BOPs provide commercial property, general liability and business interruption coverage in one policy.

Cost savings—Every dollar counts for small and midsized businesses, and BOPs can provide cost savings by combining the aforementioned policies so that you don’t have to go out and purchase each one separately. 

Coverage for medical expenses—CGL policies will provide protection for your company if a nonemployee is injured on your premises or in an incident related to your operations. Coverage for medical payments can be triggered without legal action and allows for smaller medical claims to be settled quickly and without litigation.

Customization—While BOPs cover multiple types of risk for your business, you don’t need to worry about buying something that you don’t need. These policies can be tailored to fit your business’s needs with additional coverage for risks such as cyber liability, equipment breakdown, personal and advertising injury, and more.

Learn More About Business Owners Policy (BOP) Insurance 

There’s no shortage of responsibilities or risks that come with being a business owner, so make sure that the product of all your hard work and long hours is protected. Contact us today to learn more about keeping your business safe with a BOP.

Get help with insurance needs for your business. Contact Witkemper Insurance Group and Financial Services.

INVESTING FOR THE LONG HAUL

Financial market ups and downs are challenging, to say the least, for many investors. Saving for retirement makes you a long-term investor, but it is important that you shape your investment strategy by revisiting a few fundamental investment concepts every 6 to 18 months, regardless of market conditions.

Revisit Your Risk Tolerance

What level of investment risk is suitable for you? Are you still an aggressive investor, or has your personal situation changed since the last time you evaluated your risk tolerance? Are you still a long-term investor, or are you getting close to retirement and therefore need to be more conservative? If your needs have not changed and you still are investing for the long term, this may not be the time to change your investment mix. 

Don't Chase Returns

How many people do you know that bought into the “hot stock” they read about, without evaluating the risk involved? This is a risky strategy, as such stocks may be overvalued and end up losing money instead of making it.

Diversify

Every asset class (investment category) has its ups and downs. If your portfolio is well diversified, you will be in good position to benefit when an asset class excels—as opposed to chasing returns after the fact. For example, when growth stock funds were excelling, value funds were not; when stock funds declined, bond funds did well. Over the course of time, a well-diversified portfolio can provide increased performance while decreasing risk. In addition, diversification is a disciplined approach to investing, rather than relying on emotions or impulse.

Keep Investing Through Payroll Deduction

When the market is down, you are buying more shares or units for your dollars. Investors should actually feel good about buying in when the market is low; ideally, when you reach retirement, those shares will be worth more.

Invest for the Long Haul

Remember your long-term goals and invest for the long haul, rather than for short-term market swings. Statistics show that staying the course, rather than switching in and out of funds, is typically the wiser choice. Often, investors make the mistake of selling when the market is declining, and buying back when it is going back up. This is the opposite of what they should be doing to maximize returns.

What About Current Events?

The uncertainty surrounding current events poses significant challenges for investors. One thing we do know: the stock market hates uncertainty. Thus, having diversification of investments is key! A mix of investments—cash, bonds, stocks—will help minimize the risk of a large loss.

Though a large event may cause a serious market reaction in the short term, often the market balances out after the event has passed. The secret to weathering all types of market swings is to resist the temptation to panic or overreact. Stay disciplined, keep a long-term approach and maintain a diversified portfolio balanced appropriately for your particular risk tolerance. These basics of long-term investing can be your blueprint for not just surviving, but succeeding in the market. 

Contact Witkemper Insurance Group and Financial Services for your insurance and investment needs.

 

FAQs about workplace wellness programs

When you are considering implementing a workplace wellness program, you may have a lot of questions. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about wellness initiatives. 

We can’t do a comprehensive program right now, but is it still worth doing something?

Absolutely—even a small activity can plant the seeds of success for your program to grow. Engage in some low-cost activities, like providing a health and wellness bulletin board or newsletter. You can also coordinate walking groups or encourage managers to hold walking meetings when it is nice outside. These small steps can promote a healthier workplace.

There is so much we could do in our program. Where do we start?

After you have secured management support, researching the health needs of your employees is the best way to identify which activities will resonate most with your employees. Make sure the first programs you develop are fun and interactive, because they will be the first impression that employees get of your wellness program. Start with programs that have broad appeal instead of those that might only be of interest to a smaller, more targeted group. In addition, because there are many regulations governing workplace wellness programs, make sure to review legal considerations or consult with legal counsel before implementing a wellness program. 

We have tried health and lifestyle programs but participation is small. What can we do?

Keep trying, and be patient. It will take some time for your program to get going. Remember that, ultimately, you are trying to change workplace culture, and change is a process that happens slowly over time. One approach that has proven successful for employers, though, is to offer incentives for participation or attendance. For instance, you could offer free healthy snacks if employees attend a wellness meeting. Another approach is to invite people in the organization who are well-liked and respected to participate in your program in the hopes that it will encourage other employees to join as well.

We have a lot of work to do in the area of nutrition. How can we avoid getting the reputation of being the “food police”?

In educational sessions, talk about the health issues around fats, added sugars and portion sizes, but avoid demonizing unhealthy foods. If people feel like they are being attacked for their lifestyle habits, they may be reluctant to participate in future wellness initiatives.

Instead, empower employees by teaching them the benefits of healthy eating and the positive impact it can have on their life (more energy, better sleep, etc.). Encourage employees to add more healthy foods to their diets and make healthy foods available at work to encourage employees to grab an apple rather than buy a candy bar out of the vending machine. As employees begin to eat healthier, they will notice how unhealthy foods make them feel sluggish, and they will begin to avoid them on their own.

CEO and leadership support is important, but they will probably never come to lunch-and-learns or walking groups. How can we show their support to employees? 

Some of the best support management can provide is HR and financial resources for the program. Endorsing a policy change that supports wellness is another important type of high level support. In addition, you can plan a program kick-off and have leadership visibly present and participating. Get the event on their calendars early, or ask leadership to write a short email or intranet post that demonstrates their excitement about the wellness initiative.

Some employees are suspicious about the motives of the program. What can we do about it? 

Employees may be hesitant to share their health information and participate in wellness activities because they may feel like employers shouldn’t be monitoring their health. Wellness programs may also cause unhealthy employees to become nervous about their job security, especially if your company has recently gone through downsizing. 

The most important thing you can do to curtail suspicion is to encourage honest, open communication. Tell your employees not only what you are planning, but also why you are doing it. Discuss the benefits of wellness programs for the company and for the employees. You can mention the high cost of health care as an incentive for creating the program, but also talk about how you value your employees’ well-being and want to equip them with the resources to live healthy lives. Reassure them that their personal health information will be protected and only used for wellness purposes.

Source: Wisconsin Worksite Wellness Resource Kit

Need more advice about adding wellness programs to your benefits package? Contact Witkemper Insurance Group about employee benefits for your company.

How AMA’s New Obesity Classification Could Impact Your Bottom Line

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently reclassified obesity as a treatable disease. This new classification has the potential to increase your workers’ compensation costs because doctors may need to treat a worker for obesity, as well as an on-the-job injury.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines obesity as a person’s body mass index (BMI) being 30 or higher. A person’s BMI is determined by height and weight and is a reliable measurement of a person’s body fat. According to the AMA, one-third of Americans are considered obese.

Increase in Costs

Historically in workers’ compensation, obesity has been classified as a comorbidity, meaning it’s a condition that occurs at the same time as, but is independent of, an injury or illness. The new classification of obesity may cause doctors to feel a greater responsibility to advise patients about their obesity if the doctors will be reimbursed for the treatment.

Usually, doctors and other medical providers only document the medical issues they intend to treat and for which they seek reimbursement. 

But, for example, if a doctor is treating an obese patient for a sprained ankle, the patient’s weight may play a factor in his or her recovery. For this reason, the doctor could feel obligated to discuss the weight problem with the patient. Therefore, the doctor could claim treatment for two things: the injured ankle and obesity—and subsequently increase the cost of the workers’ compensation claim.

In one case, the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board determined that an injured worker was entitled to weight-loss surgery following an on-the-job back injury and that the worker was entitled to disability benefits as he prepared for, underwent and recovered from the surgery. This was based on his doctor’s opinion that the worker would continue to suffer back pain from the work injury if he did not lose weight. Therefore, the worker’s employer had to pay for the back injury as well as the weight-loss surgery, which significantly increased the costs for the employer.

Obesity can also become a secondary claim and increase costs. If an injured worker’s BMI exceeds 30 as a result of a medication they are prescribed or because they cannot exercise due to the injury, they are considered obese and can receive treatment.

Changes in Treatment

Obesity may require medical attention before treatment of most work-related injuries and illnesses, according to research done by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute. Treating obesity first can extend the patient’s time away from work, causing the employer to pay more in compensation.

A study conducted by Duke University, RTI International and the CDC states that obesity complicates surgery and increases the healing time of fractures, strains and sprains, which are common workplace injuries. The study also discovered the following:

We’re Here to Help

In order to avoid increased costs on your workers’ compensation claims, consider job modification or accommodation to ensure that the workplace is safe for obese workers. Instituting a wellness program can help keep your workers healthy and safe, as well, and may become a standard risk management practice for employers. 

For more information on workers’ compensation and overall workplace health and safety, contact Witkemper Insurance Group.