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TREE CARE INDUSTRY BACK TO WORK

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We just wanted to take a moment to share an update we recently received for the Tree/Landscaping businesses that we insure.  Stay Safe!

ISA Michigan Members and Industry Colleagues:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a revised stay-at-home order Friday, reopening several businesses in the process. The updated Executive Order, includes landscaping/tree care as a low risk industry regarding Covid-19, per OSHA.

Please read the Executive Order (EO) carefully, line by line, and follow the recommended PPE and related Safe Work Guidelines to protect employees and the public.  If we don’t follow the proper safety procedures, we could go under another stay at home order. For reference, landscaping services is located in line 10c of the EO.

Remember:

  • Limit contact with clients
  • Wear PPE
  • Provide extra sanitation efforts on any shared equipment
  • Be safe in the trees and on the ground

It is vital as leaders of your business operations that you please make sure that your employees are seen following social distancing rules, wearing masks and that you are screening your team as the CDC requires upon arriving for work each day. You should also review your county Department of Health’s recommendations for working safely. You must obey all parts of the Executive Order.

As we reintegrate into our world of production tree care that we do not lose sight of proper safety practices. Consider registering for our free Safety Awareness-Back to Workplace Mindset webinar on April 29, 2020. It’s a 1-hour presentation that will provide important reminders about work and personal controls in safety: engineering, administrative, and PPE. Join our Panelists for an in-depth discussion on how these controls work and how they affect everyone from owner to the crew.

Thank you and Stay Safe,

Brian Barnard
President, ISA Michigan

Annie Kruise
Executive Director, ISA Michigan

For additional resources to help your business and timely updates on what is happening with ISA Michigan during this pandemic, please visit the Covid-19 Update page on our website. Feel free to reach out to us at any time via the links above or at 517-337-4999.

 

Surviving as a Small Business Through Difficult Times

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The COVID-19 pandemic has hit a lot of small businesses hard since many have had to close down temporarily to help slow the spread of the virus.  There are a growing number of resources available to assist you if your business is one that will be recovering from economic losses. 

Recent support came from the U.S. Small Business Administration statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declaration, with the support of the Michigan Small Business Development Center   and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) which is the state’s lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development. 

MichiganBusiness.org reports that the “EIDL designation means that Michigan small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and nonprofits that suffer substantial economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will now have the ability to apply for low-interest loans as part of $1 billion in funding made available to the SBA by Congress earlier this month.”

Under the CARES Act, small businesses can receive up to $10M through the SBA Paycheck Protection Program. This loan can be used to pay up to 2 months payroll, rent and utilities. If at least 75% of the loan is used for payroll, then it is forgiven..you do not have to pay it back. 

For more information on the SBA loans and to get assistance you can contact Colin Hutchinson in the Kalamazoo office at (269) 231-4660

Here at Contractors Insurance Agency we wish you and your loved ones health, safety and security.  We are working remotely but we are still available to help you!  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Benefits of Crime Insurance

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As a leader within your organization, you want to trust your employees and the people you do business with. However, the reality is that no business is immune to the threat of crime and fraud. In fact, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates that a business can expect to lose 5 percent of its revenue to fraud each year.

Thankfully, companies can turn to crime insurance,
which can provide the following benefits:

Coverage for the misuse of funds. It is likely that a number of your employees have access to company funds or financial information. In some cases, employees may abuse this access for personal gain. Crime insurance can protect organizations from the misuse or illegal transfer of funds, ensuring your finances are safe from internal criminal acts.

Extortion Safeguards. While it can be difficult to imagine, employees and outside actors can extort a company for funds by holding a director or officer hostage or through other illegal methods. Without crime insurance, your organization would have no means to recoup these losses, which could devastate your bottom line.

Reimbursement for computer fraud. Computers and emerging technologies have made it easier than ever for employees to carry out crimes against their employers. Crime insurance can provide a crucial layer of protection for any money or securities lost via computer fraud, which is an important piece to an effective cyber risk management program.

Insurance for goods in transit. Goods in transit are particularly vulnerable to employee theft and, in some cases, organizations may not notice anything has been stolen until it is too late. What’s more, if the theft takes place outside of the organizations’ premises, it can be difficult to prove, often leading to drawn out and expensive legal battles. Crime insurance policies can provide ample protection for goods in transit and reduce the likelihood of extreme losses whenever you send or receive products.

Coverage for forgery and alteration. In some cases, your employees have access to checks that they can easily alter for their own gain. Effective crime insurance policies provide coverage for losses that result from the forgery or alteration of a check.

Want to Learn More About Crime Insurance? 

Even if your organization takes the necessary precautions, you could still end up the victim of employee fraud and similar crimes. The only way to ensure your company has the protection it needs is through crime insurance.  To discuss your unique risks and to learn more about  crime insurance policies, contact Contractors Insurance Agency today.

Product Liability and Completed Operations Coverage

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I want to share a story with you today about the importance of Product Liability and Completed Operations Coverage.  The reason I am sharing in this way is so that you really can relate to it and understand.  You don’t need me to throw a whole bunch of large insurance terms into an article, you need to know how this could affect you from a real life type of scenario.

Beautiful Decks by Doug has been installing high-quality residential decks for the past 10 years. Doug is a sole proprietor with no employees and has done all the work himself. For the past decade, he has purchased through his insurance agent an occurrence-based ISO CGL policy with no unusual endorsements. The policy has been in force continuously for the past 10 years.

Doug’s CGL policy always included coverage for the products-completed operations hazard.

Doug is now getting older and since he is financially secure, he has decided that it is time to retire. He sends his policy back to his insurance agent for cancellation on July 1 and the policy is terminated on that date as Dave has requested.

The Incident…

Unfortunately, Maggie, one of Doug’s customers, is seriously injured when the deck she is standing on collapses on August 31. It is later found that in May, when Doug built the deck, he forgot to properly fasten it to the wall. The collapse is the direct result of his failure to fasten the deck to the wall. Maggie’s injuries are found to have been caused by the deck’s collapse.

Maggie moves forward with suing Doug for her injuries. Doug submits the complaint to his insurer. Doug has always purchased coverage for the products-completed operations hazard!

Nevertheless, the harsh reality is that Doug’s CGL insurer has no obligation to defend or respond in any way to the suit—Doug has no insurance for this claim.

CGL Coverage Trigger

The CGL insuring agreement promises to pay only if bodily or property damage occurs during the policy period. While Doug did purchase products-completed operations coverage as part of his CGL policy, the injury to Maggie occurred about 2 months after his policy was terminated. Products-completed operations coverage of the CGL is subject to and does not override this trigger requirement—even if the bodily injury or property damage does arise from the named insured’s product or completed operation.

Products-completed operations coverage does not extend the policy period—the policy must be in effect when the bodily injury or property damage occurs.

Important Considerations

Now that you understand the workings of products-completed operations coverage, it is important to consider several other situations in which a better understanding of exactly what is included in the “products-completed operations hazard” (which is a defined term in the CGL policy) is necessary.

Policy Limits

One of the six CGL limits is the products-completed operations aggregate limit. Knowing the types of claims that fall within and, therefore, reduce or exhaust this aggregate limit is critical.

Only Products-Completed Operations Coverage Is Provided

For liability policies that are written specifically for a construction project, such as a consolidated insurance program (CIP) or “wrap-up,” it is common to provide full CGL coverage for the period of the construction and then to provide products-completed operations only coverage for some period after construction is complete.

For example, in an owner controlled insurance plan (OCIP) the full CGL policy may be provided for a period of 24 months—the anticipated life of the construction.

The coverage provided for products and completed operations in the standard CGL policy seems to get short shrift. Too little attention is paid to the basics of how the coverage works within the context of the entire policy, including the requirement that any bodily injury or property damage, even if caused by an insured’s product or completed work, must take place during the policy period for coverage to apply.

It is only after this deceptively simple concept is properly understood can the more specific issues that surround the “products-completed operations hazard” be appreciated—such as how policy exclusions and other coverage endorsements affect the products-completed operations hazard.

If you have questions about your liability policies please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our licensed agents at Contractors Insurance Agency.  We are happy to help explain everything clearly so you fully understand your coverage.

The “No Surprise” Premium Audit

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If you own a business, you are aware that one of the tasks that often comes with such ownership is an annual audit.

Most business policies are auditable, particularly those covering contracting operations. No premium audit should ever be a surprise. It’s an annual occurrence.

Be sure to advise Contractors Insurance of changes in exposure, payroll and receipts, and in your day-to-day operations. Addressing increases in exposure during the policy term allows you time to pay for the increase, rather than facing a surprisingly large audit premium and increase in policy renewal premium.

Are you pursuing new and larger contracts? Are you looking to travel farther, or advancing into new product or service areas to grow? Keeping our agency in the loop on such ventures is important.

There are three contracting classification issues that can be
a surprise when businesses are audited:

  1. Executive supervisors exercise control through foremen who oversee the actual work. Without this distance from actual field operations, the executive supervisor classification is not applicable. In this situation, the principal would most likely be considered a carpenter.
  2. Paper contractors, which have few or no employees and subcontract most or all operations, are rated appropriately with one of the carpentry classifications.
  3. Materials provided to insured subcontractors must be accounted for and provided when a business is being audited. The cost of these materials will be included in the appropriate insured subcontractor classification. Material costs are a part of the definition of an adequately insured subcontractor per ISO (Insurance Services Office), which provides insurance companies with statistical services.

Our licensed agents at Contractors Insurance are always happy to guide and assist you with any classification or policy questions.

 

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