Just Keep Swimming…

poolpoolswimming poolBut check your insurance first!

Summertime fun often includes swimming in the pool. Whether you already have a pool in your backyard or are thinking about putting one in this year, consider whether your home insurance will cover your swimming pool (or how you might have it adjusted so that it does!)

Personal Liability Coverage

If someone is injured while swimming in your pool, the personal liability coverage on your homeowners insurance policy will pay for it. Update this coverage amount when you install your pool to ensure it’s sufficient.

Related Structure Coverage

Your insurance company may classify your new in-ground pool as a related structure, similar to a storage shed or detached garage. Increase the related structure coverage on your homeowners insurance policy to cover damage to your pool. Keep in mind that this coverage won’t pay for swimming pool maintenance.

Geography Matters

The majority of backyard pools are found in warm climates. Based on this fact, insurance costs for your pool may be cheaper if you live in the warmer southern states and more expensive if you live in cooler northern states.

Erect a Fence

To prevent accidents in the pool, many insurance companies stipulate that you surround your pool with a fence that includes a self-latching gate. Consider whether or not you have the space and ability to erect a fence before you install a swimming pool.

Consider the Diving Board or Slide

Some insurance companies won’t cover accidents that happen on the diving board or slide. That policy will influence whether or not you install one of those pool accessories.

Consider an Umbrella Policy 

Even if your homeowners insurance policy covers your swimming pool, consider an umbrella policy. It provides extra coverage after your homeowners insurance limits are met. The extra protection gives you peace of mind if you need to file any pool-related claims.

A backyard pool provides hours of fun every summer. Before you install one, though, talk to your insurance agent. Get all the facts about whether your company offers swimming pool coverage and how much it will cost.

And use these safety steps from The Pool Safely campaign to keep your friends and family safe.

CPVC ABCs

CPVCChances are that you’re using chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) – a thermoplastic material – in pipes and related products, because it’s less expensive and easier to install than copper or iron piping. Failure of CPVC components can lead to extensive water damage, and repairs can be costly and complex because these pipes and fittings are located above ceilings, behind walls, and below floors.

In case of a piping mishap, here’s what to do:

Identify the material. CPVC pipes and fittings are usually yellow, cream, orange, or gray. Don’t confuse them with components made of its distant cousin polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which has different chemical properties, physical characteristics, and functions. In general, it’s not advisable to combine CPVC components with those made of PVC.

Preserve the failed part for forensic analysis. This involves a complex chemical/materials evaluation that requires unique skills and specialized examination methods, using such advanced techniques as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. To avoid contamination during analysis: 1) don’t tape labels on the damaged part; 2) handle it as little as possible; and 3) if you can’t leave the part in its installed position, wrap it in aluminum foil before placing it in a plastic bag (the materials in these bags can leach out).

Never break open cracked pipes and fittings to see what’s inside. Leave this to a forensic scientist under controlled conditions.

Because CPVC failures can have a variety of causes from raw material flaws and manufacturing defects to improper installation and maintenance, determining which party is responsible can be difficult. However, using proper procedures for installing and maintaining these components can go far to reduce this risk.

A word to the wise… ;-) For more construction risk management tips, feel free to browse around our website or give us a call. You can trust the construction insurance specialists at Mason & Mason!

Prevent Burglary with these Landscaping Tricks

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, roughly two million burglaries occur each year. Protect your home and family from burglary when you implement five landscaping tricks that don’t compromise your home’s exterior appearance or value.

burglary1. Place Hostile Plants by Entryways
Burglars typically target easily accessible windows and doors. By placing hostile plants loaded with thorns, briars and brambles near these entryways, you discourage potential burglars. Several hostile plants to consider include roses, holly, raspberries, bird’s nest spruces, needle bushes and Spanish bayonet.

2. Trim Shrubbery Near the House
Overgrown shrubs, bushes and flowering plants look untidy, and they give burglars plenty of places to hide. They also prevent neighbors and anyone on the street from seeing suspicious behavior near your home. Protect your home when you keep shrubbery trimmed to lower than three feet tall all along the exterior of your home. Remember to trim plants away from the sides of your home too.

3. Use Noisy Ground Cover
Burglars try to be as quiet as possible, but noisy ground cover around your windows and doors alerts you to their every move. Pea gravel or other crunching stones do the trick, and you can find these burglar deterrents in colors that match your existing landscaping.

4. Install Short Privacy Fencing
Tall fences and tree barriers increase privacy, but they also obscure burglars. Install short fencing with an open design instead. If you already planted trees or shrubs, trim them so that the canopy starts at eight feet or higher off the ground.

5. Turn on the Lights
Most outdoor landscaping includes lighting of some sort. Opt for strategically placed motion-activated lighting to reduce your chances of being burglarized. Place these lights near all your doors and windows and along pathways. They frighten burglars away and warn you when someone walks near your home.

The crew at Mason & Mason encourages you to use the landscaping tricks to help prevent burglary in your home. We’d also love to find you the best homeowners insurance policy to meet your needs.

Telematics – Because Safety Matters

telematicsHow safe are your company’s drivers behind the wheel – and what can you do to help them make safer decisions on the road?

More and more auto fleet managers are using wireless telematic devices mounted inside company vehicles to monitor the speed, location, and braking information of their employees.

Businesses that have installed these systems have reduced their accident rate 15% to 20% by educating drivers, according to industry experts.

“We’ve always tried to individualize training, but in-vehicle information was hard to capture,” says Beth Lowrey of Mercury Associates, Inc., a fleet management consulting firm based in Fort Smith, AR. “Now, if we see somebody who has had a hard braking event or irregular shifting patterns, we can monitor this behavior in real time through technology and train accordingly.”

To help the cause, more sophisticated telematics systems are using in-vehicle cameras and active alarms that alert drivers immediately when they violate road safety standards “When a driver sees a light flashing, they will know that they have to take action,” explains Nancy Bendickson, senior consultant with Aon Global Risk Consulting (Minneapolis, MN).

Domique Bonte, Vice President and Director of Telematics of London-based ABI Research, believes this instant feedback empowers drivers by removing the sense that the telematics system is only there to monitor them. As Bonte sees it, “This way, a driver can improve himself without his boss or fleet manager having to do so. It’s important to reward drivers for good behavior. It can’t all be about punishing the bad ones.”

To learn how telematics can help keep your drivers safe behind the wheel – and reduce your Commercial Auto premiums – feel free to get in touch with us.

Alcohol Detection in Cars – Smart Technology?

Automakers and the U.S. Department of Transportation have extended a five-year partnership to develop alcohol detection equipment that can help prevent intoxicated people from driving a vehicle.

This non-invasive system will be able to determine when a driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%, which is the legal limit in all 50 states. The device will be unobtrusive to the driver and is activated with the ignition switch.

Currently, Nissan has developed a new concept car with multiple preventative features against drunk-driving, including a facial monitoring system, odor sensors and analysis of driving behavior.

And then there’s this…

According to National Highway Transportation Agency Administrator David Strickland, “In this age of innovation, smart technology might be the breakthrough we need to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and endangering the safety of others on our roads.”

By early 2015, the agency hopes to have a research vehicle that incorporates two technological approaches to measure BAC: touch based and breath based. Research using laboratory-scale prototypes is underway, while testing on-road prototype devices is expected within the next few years.

What do you think of this new technology? Sound off on our facebook page! We’d love to hear how you feel about this.

As always, if you have questions about your auto insurance, we stand ready to help. Just give us a call.

 

It’s a Crane… It’s a Truck…

vehicle classificationIf your business use several types of vehicles, it’s important that you classify them properly for insurance coverage purposes. Either of two policies might apply, depending on vehicle classification and whether the policy defines the vehicle as “mobile equipment” or as an “auto.”

As you might expect, Commercial Auto insurance covers your autos, while your General Liability Package policy covers mobile equipment.

It’s clear that bulldozers and pickups are autos. However, when it comes to mobile cranes and other types of self-propelled equipment, the waters get a bit muddier – and if you attach a crane or drilling rig to a pickup or flatbed truck permanently things can get even trickier.

Why should you care? Two words: coverage and cost. Depending on the policy under which the vehicle falls, coverage might vary in both specifics and the amount available to pay claims. Because the two types of policies rate coverage differently, the premium will change. There’s one mistake you definitely want to avoid. In the confusion, make sure you don’t wind up paying for a single vehicle under both policies!

However, there’s a silver lining in this potential dark cloud. The specialists at our agency can review your list of vehicles and check the vehicle classification, assigning each its proper policy, without charging you twice. It’s our job to get things right. If you’re unsure whether your current coverage is treating your trucks as cranes, or the other way around, just give us a call. We’re here to serve you.

 

Employee Lawsuits – Curb Your Liability

employee lawsuitsDisgruntled workers can sue your business at any time – and even if you win, you’ll be out time, money, and energy defending yourself from employee lawsuits.

The first step in reducing this risk is to ensure that every hire is “clean”, and made purely on the basis of job requirements. The Americans with Disabilities Act has very strict ruleas about what employers can and cannot ask during the hiring process.

To help the cause, industrial relationship experts recommend these guidelines:

  • Avoid discriminatory language when advertising job opportunities. For instance, an advertisement stating “young” or “recent grad” might discriminate against older job applicants, while “’salesman” implies discrimination based on gender.
  • Have a specific job description that gives the essential functions and abilities of the job.
  • Use a standardized interview form that asks all applicants the same questions – which must be related to the job.
  • Don’t ask applicants questions that might identify their membership in a protected class such as age, religion, or national origin, unless it’s essential to the job (For example, a parochial school can ask about the religion of a potential teacher, but not a maintenance worker).
  • Never ask whether an applicant is married, pregnant, has children, or is planning to do so.
  • Ask only questions related to the applicant’s ability to perform specific job functions, not personal items such as past history as such as drug addiction.
  • If an applicant is otherwise fit for a position, don’t refuse to hire him or her based on presumed susceptibility to injury. You can, however, set bona fide physical criteria required by a job, such as the ability to lift a certain weight.

Although these “ounce of prevention” tips can help curb hiring-related discrimination claims, your business also may need a comprehensive Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) policy to protect against employee lawsuits.

For more information, just give us a call. We’re in the business of protecting you.

Rock my RV!

RV InsuranceSo maybe you’re not Bret Michaels (because honestly… who is?), but you have just bought an RV and can’t wait to get on the road. Will Auto insurance protect your pride and joy, or do you need RV Insurance?

That depends. You might want to get an endorsement to your Auto policy that would provide coverage. However, since your RV means so much more to you than just transportation, it’s best to get specialized insurance that a typical Auto policy won’t cover. Recreational Vehicle insurance combines Auto, Homeowners, Renters, and Travel coverages into a single policy that will also insure generators, water pumps and refrigerators – items that standard Auto or Homeowners policies would not cover.

The amount of coverage will depend on the value of the RV and its contents, as well as your driving record. We can help you determine what amount of RV Insurance is right for you.

Before you hit the open road, call our office for a comprehensive RV Insurance policy on your vehicle so that you can get behind the wheel with peace of mind.

Now go rock that RV!

Scaffolding Safety

scaffolding safety

 

At Mason & Mason, we’re all about protection for our contractors. Most construction projects include the use of scaffolding, which can leave your workers vulnerable to injury. To help you prevent falls on site, industry experts recommend that managers follow these proactive guidelines:

 

 

  • Slow down or consider efficiency building alternatives. Although the pace of construction work is important, it can easily lead to careless and costly mistakes, including gaps in safety on the jobsite. “You don’t have to sacrifice speed for safety, as long as you’re working at the highest level of efficiency, and being safe plays its own role in this process,” says Mike Mumau, president of Kee Safety – North America.
  • Keep your workplace organized. Careful placement of tools can reduce the risk that they’ll injure workers by falling from scaffolding – and make it safer to move around on the scaffolding.
  • Identify potential hazards and find solutions in advance. For example, if you’re working near power lines, keep scaffolding far enough away to prevent electrocution risks. If scaffolding needs to be moved during the project, have a plan before each move.
  • Provide training. Make sure your workers are trained and up to date on OSHA requirements. “Training in the setup and construction of scaffolding can ensure a solid work space for overhead workers and guarantee a rig that will not inadvertently collapse from instability,” warns Mumau.
  • Keep reviewing the site throughout the project. Be sure to identify any new hazards that might arise during construction. During the course of the job, workers tend to become increasingly more comfortable with “routine” activities – which might easily lead some of them to neglect safety precautions inadvertently (or blatantly).

Our construction safety specialists stand ready at any time to offer a complimentary review of your job site safety programs. Remember… the safer your workers, the healthier your bottom line – and the less you’ll pay for insurance.

Having a Breakdown?

equipment breakdownIt’s a sign of the times. In today’s high-tech world, every business depends on increasingly complex electronic and electric equipment to stay in business. But what happens when these systems break down? Thanks to Equipment Breakdown insurance, YOU don’t have to have a lose it when things get rough.

Consider this nightmare scenario: You’re facing a deadline under a major contract when a voltage spike surges through your electrical lines, burning out its computers and telephone networks, and shutting down your operations. In addition to lost productivity, you’ll need to spend time and money repairing or replacing the damaged systems – not to mention the revenue you’ll lose until you can get back up to speed. The total cost could easily run into six figures.

Equipment Breakdown insurance to the rescue! “Think of this policy as Accident, Health, and Disability insurance for your equipment,” says Mark MacGougan, Assistant Vice President of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. The coverage, also known as Boiler & Equipment Insurance, can pick up the tab for: 1) repairs and replacement of equipment damaged (some policies will even cover green construction and disposal and recycling expenses); 2) expenses of limiting the loss or expediting the restoration process; and 3) income lost when a covered breakdown causes a partial or total business interruption.

Many businesses carry Equipment Breakdown coverage under their Commercial Property insurance. More sophisticated operations might prefer a stand-alone policy. Some insurance companies offer such preventive services as infrared scanning technology or onsite inspections to identify maintenance needs.

The coverage you need depends on the nature and size of your operation, the exposures you face, and the type of equipment you use. As insurance professionals, we’d be happy to tailor an Equipment Breakdown policy to fit your needs, at a price you can afford. Give us a call!