Security Threat Prevention and Disaster Response

security threat prevention

Preparing for an unforeseen threat or disaster is very difficult. Criminal activity, natural disasters, and terrorism are all threats to your business, and it is important that you have readiness plans in place to minimize the potential impact of those risks.

Without prior planning, you leave your company open to financial disaster, especially if you are forced to close operations for a period of time. In addition, without a proper plan to cope with a disaster situation, your company may face lawsuits from clients, vendors, or employees claiming negligence.

Ensure Proper Security Measures

It is important to protect your facility by assessing your security measures and making improvements where necessary. Though not all security threats can be avoided, some situations can be prevented with appropriate preparation.

  • Advise management and employees to report any suspicious persons or activity in or around the facility.
  • Establish and follow visitor control procedures such as mandatory sign-ins, name badges, escorts, orientation, etc.
  • Survey locks, fences, exterior lights, and other physical security devices to ensure that they are in place where needed and in proper operating condition. Establish a monthly inspection of your security perimeter and key protective features of your facility.
  • Pay special attention to areas where you may be storing explosive, flammable, or toxic chemicals. These areas should be properly secured and inventoried, with limited hands-on contact with these materials when possible.

Without disaster planning, you leave your company open to financial disaster and potential lawsuits, especially if you are forced to close operations for a period of time.

  • Evaluate critical locations in your facility for proper security, including the electric, telephone and gas units, building entrances, transformers, outside storage units, and computer rooms.
  • If your facility has a security or fire alarm system, be sure it is operating properly and that key personnel know how to arm and disarm it.
  • Make sure that fire suppression systems are regularly inspected and maintained. Also be sure that a sufficient number of trusted personnel know how to activate, operate and shut them down.
  • Closed-circuit television can serve as an excellent crime deterrent, and when the system is equipped with a recorder it can help solve crimes.
  • Review your procedures for issuing facility keys and access cards. At a minimum keep lists of who has been issued keys and cards, and have a procedure for handling a situation when a troubled employee is terminated without returning them.
  • Discuss security with your local police department. Police departments are often very willing to provide information and support to local businesses.
  • Have your local fire department conduct a pre-planned visit to your building. While there, they can identify potential hazards and plan fire suppression priorities.

Disaster Preparation and Response

It is also important to protect your company against threats such as terrorism and natural disasters. Here are some tips to protect your employees and your company.

  • Be sure to discuss terrorism and applicable natural disaster coverage with your Midwest Insurance Group, LLC representative.
  • Keep copies of insurance policies and other critical documents in a safe and accessible location (e.g. a fireproof safe).
  • Evaluate which disasters are most likely to occur in your area, remembering to include the possibility of terrorist activity. Be sure you are prepared for all of the risks you identify.
  • Develop a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Plan. If you already have one make sure that it is up-to-date. This entails preparing for anything that disrupts your business operations and planning for a backup option. You may consider identifying backups for essential operations, supply chains, personnel, business functions, data processes, and communication channels.
  • Review your policy for off-site backup of EDP records. Ideally, these records should be backed up and transmitted or sent off-site on a daily basis.
  • Have telephone call lists available (including cell phone and pager numbers) for all key personnel so required staff members can be contacted during non-working hours from any location. Review procedures for notifying employees that your facility is closed. Remind employees that they should never attempt to enter areas that are closed by police or other emergency responders.
  • Consider establishing an alternate method for your phone service if the switchboard becomes unusable (e.g. forwarding incoming calls to a cell phone or remote number).
  • Check available emergency supplies such as flashlights, batteries, emergency generators and fuel, patching materials such as plastic sheeting, wood 2x4s, duct tape, spare fire extinguisher

Midwest Insurance Group, (MIG) is here to help explain the types of insurance policies available and how they can help protect you, your employees, and your business’s bottom line, call us at 262-646-5777.

How To Make Sure Your Homeowner’s Insurance Covers Replacement Cost

girl with drill

If you’re a homeowner or on your way to becoming one, you’ve probably heard about the increasing construction costs.

In addition to making the purchase of a new home difficult for many, skyrocketing prices for lumber and other materials are making replacement costs climb. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to rebuild your house in the event of a disaster and is one factor we consider when evaluating your coverage.

If you’re curious about how you can evaluate your own coverage in this challenging environment, here are some items to consider:

Last Review — When was your last insurance review? If it was a long time ago, your coverage amount could be too low.

Market Value — If you bought your own coverage and you used how much you paid for your home as the value, you could be WAY off.

Remodeling — Renovations and Additions cost more than ever. Make sure you insure your home for the extra work.

Talk to Your Agent — Ask your agent if your replacement cost is higher than it was previously and save yourself from big risks.

Having the right value on your coverage could be the difference between insurance saving the day or you paying out of pocket. Make sure your insurance works for you!

Call Midwest Insurance Group at 262-646-5777 to discuss different options for homeowner’s insurance.

Caring for Aging Parents As The Population Gets Older

aging parents

Thanks to healthier lifestyles and advances in modern medicine, the worldwide population over age 65 is growing. In the past decade, the population of Americans aged 65 and older has grown 35% and is expected to reach 94.7 million in 2060. As our nation ages, many Americans are turning their attention to caring for aging parents.

For many people, one of the most difficult conversations to have involves talking with an aging parent about extended medical care. The shifting of roles can be challenging, and emotions often prevent important information from being exchanged and critical decisions from being made.

When talking to a parent about future care, it’s best to have a strategy for structuring the conversation. Here are some key concepts to consider.

Cover the Basics

Knowing ahead of time what information you need to find out may help keep the conversation on track. Here is a checklist that can be a good starting point:

  • Primary physician
  • Specialists
  • Medications and supplements
  • Allergies to medication

It is also important to know the location of medical and estate management paperwork, including:

  • Medicare card
  • Insurance information
  • Durable power of attorney for healthcare
  • Will, living will, trusts, and other documents

Be Thorough

Remember that if you can collect all the critical information, you may be able to save your family time and avoid future emotional discussions. While checklists and scripts may help prepare you, remember that this conversation could signal a major change in your parent’s life. The transition from provider to dependent can be difficult for any parent and has the potential to unearth old issues. Be prepared for emotions and the unexpected. Be kind, but do your best to get all the information you need.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

This conversation is probably not the only one you will have with your parent about their future healthcare needs. It may be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. Consider involving other siblings in the discussions. Often one sibling takes a lead role when caring for parents, but all family members should be honest about their feelings, situations, and needs.

Don’t Procrastinate

The earlier you begin to communicate about important issues, the more likely you will be to have all the information you need when a crisis arises. How will you know when a parent needs your help? Look for indicators like fluctuations in weight, failure to take medication, new health concerns, and diminished social interaction. These can all be warning signs that additional care may soon become necessary. Don’t avoid the topic of care just because you are uncomfortable. Chances are that waiting will only make you more so.

Remember, whatever your relationship with your parent has been, this new phase of life will present challenges for both parties. By treating your parent with love and respect—and taking the necessary steps toward open communication—you will be able to provide the help needed during this new phase of life. Contact Midwest Insurance Group about protecting your loved ones with long-term care, annuities, and life insurance as well as wills and trusts.

Midwest Insurance Group partners with Erie insurance, one of the nation’s leading auto and home insurers, with an A.M. Best rating of A+ (Superior).

What Determines Car Insurance Rates?

car insurance rates

Your Auto Insurance Premium Is Based On More Than Your Driving History

The amount you pay for auto insurance is determined by a complicated algorithm that takes many factors into consideration. Your driving history is just one variable used to calculate your rate. Read on to learn more about what auto insurance carriers look at when they determine your premium.

Age Is A Key Factor

Younger drivers are considered the riskiest to insure due to their lack of experience behind the wheel. Most insurance carriers consider a “young driver” to be someone under age 25. Drivers older than 25 typically pose less risk, so your car insurance premiums may drop as you get older.

Your Location Makes A Difference

Your location is one of the biggest factors in determining your car insurance premium. Insurance carriers use data from more than just your state and county; they often use information from your specific zip code. Insurance providers don’t just look at whether you live in an urban or rural area, but also at the motor vehicle theft and crime rate statistics where you live and park your vehicle.1

The Car You Drive May Also Factor Into The Calculation

There is a direct correlation between the cost of the vehicle you drive and your car insurance rates. If your car were damaged or totaled in an accident, it would cost the insurance company more to replace it. But other factors, like if the make and model of your car is a frequent target of thieves or prone to passenger damage, will also cost more. I’m sure you are well aware that color can have an impact as well, red is well known to be higher in insurance costs.

Vehicles with a high safety rating, lots of safety features, and theft-deterrent systems, however, may help offset these costs and lower your rate.

Married Couples Typically Save More On Their Premiums

Being married can be a plus when it comes to auto insurance rates. Some insurers think that married people lead less–risky lives. Married couples save 4% to 10% on car insurance, although you may save even more depending on your state of residence.2

Primary Vehicle Use

The typical insured driver has a personal use policy, which means that their car is used to commute to work and run personal errands. But if you’re using your vehicle for business and to drive between clients, you may want to consider a business auto insurance policy to make sure you have adequate coverage.3

Insurance carriers run these variables through their own refined algorithms. Car insurance companies have different ways of calculating the cost of insurance, which is why rates may vary so much from carrier to carrier. You may be able to save significantly by comparing auto policies and shopping around.

Midwest Insurance Group partners with Erie insurance, one of the nation’s leading auto and home insurers, with an A.M. Best rating of A+ (Superior).

To discuss your insurance policy and coverage options in Wisconsin, give Midwest Insurance Group a call today at 262-646-5777.

Cyber Risks And Liability | Protecting Against Cyberattacks

cyber risk

Smishing Explained

Most businesses and individuals are familiar with phishing, a cyberattack technique that entails cybercriminals leveraging fraudulent emails to manipulate recipients into sharing sensitive information, clicking malicious links, or opening harmful attachments. While these email-based scams remain a pressing concern, a new form of phishing—known as smishing—has emerged over the years, creating additional cyber exposures for businesses and individuals alike.

Smishing relies on the same tactics as phishing. The sole difference between these two cyberattack techniques is that smishing targets victims through text messages rather than emails. As a growing number of individuals utilize their smartphones for both personal and work-related purposes (e.g., interacting with colleagues and clients on mobile applications), smishing has become a rising threat. In fact, recent research found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of organizations experienced smishing incidents in the past year, while just 23% of the workforce recognizes this term.

With these numbers in mind, it’s evident that businesses need to address smishing exposures within their operations. The following article provides an overview of smishing and offers best practices for businesses to protect against this emerging cyberattack technique.

What Is Smishing?

Smishing follows the same format as phishing, using deceiving messages to manipulate recipients. These messages are generally sent via text, but can also be delivered through mobile instant messaging applications (e.g., WhatsApp). In these messages, cybercriminals may implement a wide range of strategies to get their targets to share information or infect their devices with malware. Specifically, they will likely impersonate a trusted or reputable source and urge the recipient to respond with confidential details, download a harmful application or click a malicious link. Here are some examples of common smishing messages:

  • A message claiming to be from a financial institution, saying the recipient’s bank account is locked or experiencing suspicious activity and asking them to click a harmful link to remedy the issue
  • A message impersonating a well-known retailer (e.g., Amazon, Target, or Walmart), encouraging the recipient to download a malware-ridden application to receive a gift card or similar prize
  • A message claiming to be from an attorney or law enforcement, saying the recipient is facing legal trouble or criminal charges and urging them to call an unknown number for more information
  • A message impersonating the government, asking the recipient to click a suspicious link for details on their taxes or participation in a federal loan program
  • A message claiming to be a research organization, requesting the recipient download a malicious application to complete an informational survey
  • A message impersonating a delivery service, informing the recipient that they are receiving a package and providing them with a fraudulent link for tracking the item

Smishing Can Have You Download Malware

If a recipient is tricked into doing what a smishing message asks, they could end up unknowingly downloading malware or exposing sensitive information, such as login credentials, debit, and credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers. From there, cybercriminals may use the information they obtained from smishing for several reasons, such as hacking accounts, opening new accounts, stealing money, or retrieving additional data.

Since individuals may use their smartphones for work-related tasks, smishing has the potential to impact businesses as well. For example, an individual who falls for a smishing scam could inadvertently give a cybercriminal access to their workplace credentials, allowing the criminal to collect confidential data from the victim’s employer and even steal business funds.

The nature of smishing has made this cyberattack technique a significant threat. This is because individuals are typically not as careful when communicating on their smartphones compared to their computers, often engaging in multiple text conversations at a time (sometimes while distracted or in a rush). After all, research from Experian found that individuals between the ages 18-24 exchange around 4,000 texts each month. Considering these findings, individuals may be less wary or observant of a text message from an unknown number than an email, making them more likely to interact with a malicious text.

Furthermore, many individuals falsely assume that their smartphones possess more advanced security features than computers, thus protecting them from harmful messages. However, smartphone security has its limits. Currently, these devices are unable to directly safeguard individuals from smishing attempts, leaving all smartphone users vulnerable. That’s why it’s important for businesses to take steps to protect against smishing.

How to Protect Against Smishing

To effectively minimize smishing exposures and prevent related cyberattacks, businesses should:

  • Conduct employee training—First, businesses should educate employees on what smishing is and how it could affect them. Additionally, employees should be required to participate in routine training regarding smishing detection and prevention. This training should instruct employees to:

o Watch for signs of smishing within their text messages (e.g., lack of personalization, generic phrasing, and urgent requests)

o Refrain from interacting with or responding to messages from unknown numbers or suspicious senders

o Avoid clicking links or downloading applications provided within messages

o Never share sensitive information via text

o Utilize trusted contact methods (e.g., calling a company’s official phone number) to verify the validity of any request sent over text

o Report any suspicious messages to the appropriate parties, such as a supervisor or the IT department

  • Ensure adequate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) procedures—Apart from providing smishing training, businesses should establish solid BYOD procedures to ensure employees act accordingly when utilizing their personal smartphones for work-related purposes. Such procedures may include using a private Wi-Fi network, implementing multifactor authentication capabilities, conducting routine device updates, and logging out of work accounts after each use. These procedures can help deter smishing attempts and decrease the damages that may ensue from smishing incidents.
  • Implement access controls—Another method for limiting smishing exposures is the use of access controls. By only allowing employees access to information they need to complete their job duties, businesses can reduce the risk of cybercriminals compromising excess data or securing unsolicited funds amid smishing incidents. To further protect their information, businesses should consider leveraging encryption services and establishing secure locations for backing up critical data.
  • Utilize proper security software—Businesses should also make sure company-owned smartphones are equipped with adequate security software. In some cases, this software can halt cybercriminals in their tracks, stopping smishing messages from reaching recipients’ devices and rendering harmful links or malicious applications ineffective. In particular, smartphones should possess antivirus programs, spam-detection systems, and message-blocking tools. Security software should be updated as needed to ensure effectiveness.
  • Purchase sufficient coverage—Finally, it’s vital for businesses to secure proper cyber insurance to protect against potential losses stemming from smishing incidents. Businesses should reach out to their trusted insurance professionals to discuss specific coverage needs.

Conclusion

In summary, smishing is a serious cyber threat that both individuals and businesses can’t afford to ignore. By staying aware of smishing tactics and implementing solid mitigation measures, businesses can successfully protect against this rising cyberattack technique, deterring cybercriminals and minimizing associated losses. For more risk management guidance, contact Midwest Insurance Group today at 262-646-5777.

Midwest Insurance Group partners with Erie insurance, one of the nation’s leading auto and home insurers, with an A.M. Best rating of A+ (Superior).

Insurance Needs for HVAC Contractors

HVAC

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems in residential and commercial structures. They work with appliances, water heaters, toilets, and sprinkler systems in new buildings and existing structures. Due to the wide variety of tasks these contractors perform, they may need specialized coverage to protect against liabilities.

This article discusses the potential exposures HVAC contractors may face and common types of construction insurance for them to consider.

Potential Exposures

It can be challenging to control risks in the construction industry. Here are some of the most common risks HVAC contractors may encounter:

  • Injuries—HVAC contractors often perform physical work and may be susceptible to injuries while moving equipment and tools into tight places. Third parties may also be injured either at project sites or from malfunctioning equipment that results in fires, shocks, or carbon monoxide exposures.
  • Property damage—Damage to a client’s property can occur both during a project and after its completion. Since HVAC systems often involve flammable gasses, fires and explosions can occur.
  • Auto accidents—Any business that utilizes vehicles is susceptible to auto accidents. These accidents could lead to serious injuries or fatalities. Additionally, vehicles involved in accidents could be rendered useless due to substantial damage.

Common Types of Construction Insurance

HVAC contractors should have adequate insurance to manage their risks. Primary forms of coverage for these contractors to consider include:

  • Workers’ compensation—Workers’ compensation insurance covers costs associated with employees’ work-related injuries or illnesses. Slips and falls can lead to strains, and lacerations may occur while using sheet metal. While injuries are infrequent, they can be severe and require extensive medical treatment, resulting in a loss of ability to work. Workers’ compensation insurance is critical coverage, as it takes care of the injured employee in the event of an accident. This coverage can pay medical bills associated with work-related injuries and compensate employees for lost wages—which can occur if injuries are severe enough for doctors to recommend taking time off. What’s more, workers’ compensation policies typically come with employer’s liability coverage, which can help protect employers if lawsuits are brought against them for their negligence (whether actual or alleged) in workplace injuries.
  • General liability—General liability insurance covers third-party claims of injury or property damage caused by routine operations. This type of insurance can protect HVAC contractors from liabilities stemming from active job sites, including injuries to the public or clients, or damage caused during installations. In addition, HVAC contractors face liability exposures if they work in occupied buildings or customers come into their offices or showrooms. General liability insurance can also cover damage to a customer’s building caused by a contractor. Additionally, it can provide coverage for instances of reputational harm or advertising injury.
  • Completed operations—Completed operations claims occur when injury or property damage results from finished work. This coverage can protect businesses that provide services and does not apply until after their work is done. Since HVAC contractors work with flammable gasses, there may be a chance of fire or explosion after operations have concluded, thus emphasizing the need for this coverage.
  • Commercial auto—HVAC contractors may use trucks or vans to transport employees, materials, and equipment to a worksite, posing various auto exposures. Commercial auto insurance can cover damage to company vehicles, damage to others’ vehicles, and medical payments stemming from auto accidents. Physical damage insurance covers damage to company vehicles, while liability insurance covers damage to other vehicles. Hired and non-owned coverage takes care of rental vehicles and employee-owned vehicles used for business reasons.
  • Property—Damage to a company’s physical assets, including buildings and business property, may result in property claims. Even if HVAC contractors work out of their homes or do not have their own buildings, business assets such as equipment, tools, and computers are still at risk of property damage. Property insurance protects only from the perils outlined in the policy. For example, floods are generally not considered covered events. In some cases, additional coverage may be necessary.
  • Inland marine or equipment floater—Since commercial property insurance only covers business property at the location listed on the policy, inland marine insurance may be necessary for property stolen or damaged during transit. Because HVAC contractors typically travel to job sites with tools and equipment, equipment floater policies can also help protect them from transit-related risks. Installation floater coverage may also offer protection for materials and supplies exposed to fire, theft, and water damage.
  • Commercial umbrella—Commercial umbrella insurance can provide additional coverage if HVAC contractors’ claim costs exceed their existing policy limits. For example, if a contractor’s policy limit is $1 million, but they incur a loss totaling $2 million, an umbrella policy can help cover the difference. Otherwise, these costs may have to be paid out of pocket.
  • Cyber liability—HVAC contractors are increasingly depending on technology to conduct their operations. After all, complex projects often require digital information transfers and contactless financial exchanges between clients, contractors, suppliers, and other third parties. While technology helps contractors perform these functions, digital operations increase their risk of suffering financial losses from cyber events. Cyber liability insurance can help HVAC contractors by providing coverage for first- and third-party cyber claims.

Conclusion

Midwest Insurance Group partners with Erie insurance, one of the nation’s leading auto and home insurers, with an A.M. Best rating of A+ (Superior).

To best mitigate their risks, HVAC contractors should explore all insurance policy options to secure sufficient coverage catered to their specific operations. For more information, contact us today at 262-646-5777.

Contractors’ Pollution Liability Insurance

pollution

Contractors, no matter what industry they work in, face environmental risks stemming from operations on a daily basis. For most contractors, a single pollution incident or loss can seriously damage their reputation, operations, and even their balance sheet. Making matters worse, pollution incidents can be sudden or occur gradually over time.

While many contractors assume that environmental claims will be covered under their commercial general liability (CGL) policy, the unfortunate reality is that most CGLs contain pollution exclusions that leave contractors uninsured in the event of a pollution incident.

Thankfully, contractors are increasingly turning to contractors pollution liability (CPL) insurance to ensure they have the right coverage in place to remain secure and profitable.

CPL Coverage Basics

CPL policies provide contractor-based insurance for third-party coverage for bodily injury, property damage, defense, and cleanup as a result of sudden and gradual pollution incidents arising from contracting operations performed by or on behalf of the contractor. CPL insurance is intended to provide coverage to all types of contracting operations, including contractors who are involved in building construction and environmental firms that remediate polluted sites.

CPL policies are offered on either a claims-made or occurrence basis. What’s more, CPL policies are nonstandard, meaning each policy is different and can be modified to cover the various needs of the contractor purchasing the policy. Policies can be offered on a project or blanket program basis.

In some instances, CPL policies can also be used to cover losses from civil fines, penalties and punitive damages.

Covered Pollution Incidents 

Contractors should keep in mind that CPL insurance policies differ in regard to the types of pollution incidents that are covered. Two important considerations when evaluating CPL insurance policies are:

  • Whether or not the policy will respond to gradual releases of pollutants, as opposed to sudden and accidental releases
  • The types of substances that are considered “pollutants” under the terms of the policy

Generally, policies that cover both gradual and sudden releases of pollutants provide contractors with a broader scope of coverage. In addition, policies that provide a broad definition of pollutants are considered superior to those that contain a narrow definition. Accordingly, it is important that contractors work with their broker to find a CPL policy that is tailored to their needs.

CGL Pollution Exclusions

A primary reason why contractors obtain a CPL policy is due to the various pollution exclusions contained in most CGL policies. The pollution exclusions found in most CGL policies take one of two forms, either “absolute” or “total.”

CGL policies with an absolute pollution exclusion remove coverage for most pollution events that would occur in the course of an insured’s business operations. However, despite its name, an absolute pollution exclusion may preserve coverage for certain incidental pollution damages, products and completed operations liability, and certain off-premises work.

However, more commonly, CGL policies include a more restrictive “total pollution exclusion.” This type of exclusion effectively removes coverage for any event the insurer characterizes as a pollution incident.

Contractual Requirements

 Contractual requirements serve as another motivating factor that lead many contractors to obtain a CPL policy. In many instances, project owners and general contractors will require contractors to obtain pollution insurance that meets certain, predetermined standards.

From this perspective, having a CPL insurance policy in place can serve as an upfront sales tool during the bidding process that enables contractors to qualify for opportunities when such coverage is required.

Finding the Right Policy

Regardless of specialty, all contractors should be mindful of the pollution risks associated with their work. A CPL insurance policy can provide much-needed security in the event of a pollution incident, even in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Midwest Insurance Group partners with Erie insurance, one of the nation’s leading auto and home insurers, with an A.M. Best rating of A+ (Superior). Let Midwest Insurance Group, LLC work with your organization to find the Contractors Pollution Liability insurance coverage that is right for you. Call 262-646-5777

Insurance Needs for Plumbing Contractors

plumbing contractor

The work of a plumbing contractor involves installing, maintaining, and repairing water systems in residential and commercial structures. Appliances, water heaters, toilets, and sprinkler systems must be included and taken care of in new and existing structures, making plumbers a necessity for these buildings’ functionality and longevity. However, the plumbing industry involves inherent risks that must be accounted for. This article discusses plumbing contractors’ potential exposures and common types of insurance available to mitigate liability.

Potential Exposures

Plumbing can be demanding and physical work. Several incidents could create legal issues for plumbing contractors, including:

  • Injuries—Plumbing contractors could sustain injuries from moving heavy appliances, working in tight spaces, and performing repetitive tasks. Third parties can also be injured from slips and other incidents from completed work.
  • Property damage—Property damage is often the result of water damage, which can occur either during work or after a project has been completed.
  • Auto accidents—Any company that utilizes vehicles for travel is susceptible to auto accidents. This can result in injuries to contractors or third-parties as well as property damage to the company’s vehicles and others’ vehicles.

Common Types of Insurance

Plumbing contractors should have adequate insurance to manage their risks. The following are policies plumbers should consider:

  • General liability—The most common type of insurance within the construction industry is commercial general liability. A typical general liability insurance policy covers bodily injury to third parties and property damage resulting from work. Additionally, general liability insurance can provide coverage for reputational harm or advertising injury.
  • Workers’ compensation—Employers are responsible for providing medical care, lost wages, and other benefits to workers injured on the job. Injuries can occur from slips and fall from water, stairs, or working in an unfamiliar construction site. Chemical exposure can also happen when plumbing contractors work with chemicals on the job. While these injuries may be infrequent, they could result in a loss of ability to work. Workers’ compensation takes care of injured employees by paying medical bills associated with work-related injuries and providing compensation for lost wages. This type of policy may also provide coverage in the event of a lawsuit brought forth by an employee.
  • Completed operations—Even after a project is complete, property damage or even injuries can occur if the work was not done correctly. These types of problems can be covered with completed operations insurance. Issues include leaking pipes, which can lead to water damage or mold, and fire hazards and explosions when working with gas.
  • Commercial auto—A commercial auto policy helps policyholders avoid high vehicle repair costs, medical expenses, or lawsuits resulting from auto accidents. Since plumbing contractors utilize vehicles to transport themselves and equipment to job sites, commercial auto insurance can cover damage to company vehicles, damage to others’ vehicles, and medical payments.
  • Property—Property insurance can provide coverage to the company’s property and any personal property used in the business. Even if plumbing contractors do not own their own building, business assets such as equipment, tools, and computers are still at risk of property damage.
  • Inland marine—Plumbers must travel with tools and equipment to various job sites. Inland marine coverage can protect property in transit, mobile equipment, property in the custody of a repairman or storage facility, property commonly used in different locations, and computer equipment and digital information.
  • Cyber—Plumbing contractors are increasingly dependent on technology to carry out their operations. But technology can fail, or data can be stolen, including client credit card information. Cyber liability insurance can provide coverage for first- and third-party cyber claims.
  • Commercial umbrella—An umbrella policy can fill in any gaps in coverage. This can provide additional coverage if the business causes damages that exceed the general liability policy limit.

Proper insurance coverage can protect plumbing contractors and their businesses from liability. For more information, contact us today at 262-646-5777.

DOL Initiative to Focus on Worker Wages and Employment Rights 

workers rights

On Feb. 8, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced an initiative that will focus on safeguarding worker rights and protections in the warehousing and logistics industries. This announcement follows an earlier DOL announcement that it will add 100 additional investigators to its Wage and Hour Division.

Initiative Focus

Among other things, this DOL initiative is designed to help workers in warehousing and logistics (including delivery drivers and truck drivers) be paid all their legal wages and be safe from workplace harassment and retaliation when they enforce their rights. The initiative will also focus on employee misclassification as independent contractors.

The DOL chose to focus on the warehousing and logistics industries because of the strain the COVID-19 pandemic and global supply chain disruptions have placed on this sector of the economy. The DOL initiative will rely on “education, outreach and vigorous enforcement to increase compliance and reduce industry violations.”

Employer Next Steps

Employers can rely on this DOL announcement as an indication of the agency’s intention to increase compliance with current employment standards, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act. As a result, employers in these industries should take particular care to ensure their payroll processes and procedures, as well as their employee classification efforts, conform with existing laws. 

To assist with internal audits, employers can use DOL Fact Sheet #10: Wholesale and Warehouse Industries Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

We understand that your business is part of a complex network of logistics and manufacturing companies. We welcome inquiries from businesses of all sizes. Please contact us to learn more about what we can do for you, call 262-646-5777

The Supply Chain Crisis and Business Resilience

Smart Warehouse

Events And Situations That Affect The Supply Chain

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a supply chain crisis as businesses were forced to halt operations to slow the spread of the virus and prioritize employee health and safety measures. In addition, consumer demand increased more than 15% compared to two years ago, according to Bloomberg News. As business operations begin to normalize, the exploding consumer demand is causing bottlenecks throughout the global supply chain.

This article discusses contributing factors to the supply chain crisis, how businesses can minimize vulnerabilities, and the different types of insurance that could cover supply chain-related claims.

Factors Contributing to the Supply Chain Crisis

Since supply chains rely on people and equipment, delays and cost increases occur when there is a shortage of either. Supply chain disruptions not only create higher prices and scarcity among high-end consumer products, but they also affect basic commodities, such as generic drugs or energy, increasing the cost of living and the provision of basic needs. The following are some contributing factors to the supply chain crisis:

  • COVID-19—There is a current supply and demand mismatch resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chain problems arose as consumer demand increased and factories suspended production.
  • Cyber risk—The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to accelerate their digital transitions, resulting in more critical data being shared in far-reaching global supply chains. As cyberattacks increase in frequency and severity, they can cause operational, financial, and reputational damages that cannot be recovered or repaired.
  • Port backlog—Ocean-shipped goods are accumulating faster than workers can move them along, leading to backlogs and elevated shipping costs.
  • Truck driver shortage—According to the American Trucking Associations, there are an estimated 80,000 unfilled truck driving jobs in the United States. The driver shortage means that goods backlogged in ports and elsewhere can’t be moved.
  • Natural disasters—Hurricanes, floods, blizzards, and any natural disaster can disrupt global supply chains by postponing or pausing deliveries, closing ports, and canceling cargo flights.
  • Production issues—For example, factories closing and increasing technology demands have led to the global chip shortage, affecting auto, gaming, smartphone, and medical device manufacturing as well as other technology that requires semiconductors.

Business operations can become costlier, and stakeholder expectations for profit and sustainability may not be met during a supply chain crisis. Companies should put their energy and capital into short-term solutions that will make the most impact on their customers and stakeholders.

Minimizing Vulnerabilities

As supply chain industries continue to operate at reduced capacity, businesses can limit supply chain exposures by taking the following actions:

  • Diversify supplier base. Using a single supplier can disrupt a business’s entire supply chain should an issue arise. Having a diverse supplier base disperses the risk and reduces risk impact.
  • Have backup suppliers and vendors. There are several reasons a supplier may be unable to complete an order, including unprecedented demand or issues with their own supply chain. Identify suitable suppliers to use should problems occur with the primary supplier.
  • Prepare a risk management plan. Identify and assess all current and potential risks that could disrupt business supply chains. Prepare procedures and responses for risks and build flexibility into business processes to adapt to disruptions.
  • Aim for end-to-end supply chain visibility. Supply chains typically involve many operational stages, each with its own risks and challenges. Supply chain visibility can help mitigate risks by tracking progress and ensuring quick responses to any issues.
  • Invest in cybersecurity. Some of the most common risks that affect supply chains include data leaks, breaches, and malware attacks. Businesses should assess and improve current cybersecurity measures to mitigate supply chain risks.
  • Purchase coverage. Specialty insurance policies can help businesses recover in the event of a supply chain crisis.

Insurance Solutions

Managing supply chain risks can be difficult since the risk factors tend to be complex. The following are insurance policies that respond to supply chain disruptions:

  • Contingent business interruption (CBI) insurance—CBI insurance provides financial relief when a significant partner, supplier, or manufacturer suffers a property loss large enough to negatively impact a business’s ability to operate. This type of insurance is generally triggered due to physical property damage, such as a fire or flood, that halts supplier operations.
  • Extra expense coverage—Extra expense coverage may apply when a policyholder incurs additional expenses due to damage to the property of a supplier. For example, extra expenses may occur due to increased transportation, labor, and logistical costs.
  • Broader supply chain coverage—Supply chain insurance is designed to provide more comprehensive coverage than CBI insurance. While there is no “standard” supply chain insurance, it can be customized to cover losses caused by a wide range of events, including:
  • Natural disasters
  • Industrial accidents
  • Labor issues
  • Production process problems
  • Political upheaval, war, civil strife
  • Riots or other disruptive civic action
  • Road, bridge, and other transportation infrastructure closures
  • Public health emergencies
  • Regulatory action
  • Financial issues

Conclusion

While there is no definitive timeline for when the supply chain crisis will end, estimates range from early 2022 to 2023. In the meantime, businesses should be proactive in identifying and preventing supply chain disruptions. For more information, contact us today at 262-646-5777.