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    Tucson Insurance Blog

    Thursday
    Nov142013

    Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Auto Theft

    If you’re like most people, you believe you’re pretty well versed when it comes to protecting your car from thieves.  If that were the case, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center wouldn’t be reporting these chilling statistics:

     

    • Every 27 seconds, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States.
    • The odds of a vehicle being stolen were 1 in 196 in 2000.
    • The odds are highest in urban areas.
    • Only 14.1 percent of thefts resulted in arrests during 2000.
    • The FBI’s 2002 Uniform Crime Report, released October 27, 2003, indicates there were more than 1.2 million motor vehicle thefts in the United States in 2002 with an estimated value of approximately $8.4 billion dollars.
    • Only 65 percent of stolen vehicles were recovered in 2002.

     

    These statistics paint a serious picture that reminds us not to take our vehicles for granted.    Many times we forget basic prevention techniques that can put our cars in jeopardy.

    For example, when you leave your car, never leave the motor running - even if you think you will only be gone a couple of minutes.  Those few minutes are all it takes for a would-be car thief to easily drive away in a new vehicle.

    When you park your car, be sure to roll up the windows and lock the doors.  There are no exceptions to this rule, even if you park in your own driveway.  It’s not uncommon for thieves to try a door handle of a car in driveway because they assume that it was probably left unlocked.  If you have a garage, park your car in it and lock the garage door, even if you intend to use the car later on.  It may seem like a lot of trouble if you are planning to leave the house again soon, but it’s better than going to the garage only to find your car missing.

    When you park at your destination, turn your wheels sharply toward the curb.  This makes it very difficult for thieves to tow the vehicle.  Always put on your emergency brake and leave the transmission either in park or in gear.  If a valet parks your car, only leave the ignition key with the attendant.  It goes with out saying that if you park at night, park in busy, well-lit areas.

    Think about equipping your car with various anti-theft devices.  Ask about car insurance discounts for anti-theft devices such as alarms, window etchings, and anti-hot-wiring devices.

    Finally, when you buy car stereo equipment, be sure to choose items that can be removed
    and locked in the trunk.  Nothing is more tempting to a car thief than to see if he can make that expensive audio equipment his own.

    Tuesday
    Nov122013

    Stress Management Programs Decrease Worker Illness, Increase Productivity

    Lowering the stress level of your corporate environment may not only improve your employees’ well being but also boost your bottom line.  The demands on today’s workers are increasing and along with it, workplace stress.  Decreased productivity and morale and increased sickness, absenteeism and accidents are just a few of the side effects that can be counteracted by making yours a “healthy organization.”

    Job stress, as defined by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities of the worker.  A stressful corporate environment should not be confused with a challenging work environment, which can actually energize employees to master new skills.  When, however, the job demands cannot be met, the excitement of challenge turns to exhaustion and stress. 

    Stress causes the body to go into its programmed, biological “fight or flight” response where the nervous system is aroused and hormones are released.  Unresolved stressors keep the body in this activated state leading to physiological wear and tear.  Some of the early signs of job stress include mood and sleep disturbances, upset stomach and headache, and disturbed relationships with family and friends.  This sets up a scenario for increased illness and accidents.  In fact, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that health care expenditures are nearly 50 percent greater for workers who report high levels of stress. 

    Both working conditions and worker characteristics cause workplace stress.  It is true that what is stressful for one person may not be for another. However, scientific evidence suggests that certain working conditions, such as excessive workload demands and conflicting expectations, cause stress to most people. 

    NIOSH researchers examined so-called “healthy organizations,” or those that have low rates of illness, injury and disability and are also competitive in the workplace.  NIOSH found that these companies have the very positive combination of low-stress work and high productivity.  Specific organizational characteristics that were identified included recognition of employees for good work performance, opportunities for career development, an organizational culture that values the individual worker and management actions that are consistent with organizational values. 

    While it is helpful to provide stress management training and employee assistance programs to help your employees cope with difficult work situations, also implementing organization change to become a more “healthy organization” has been shown to cause the most direct, long-lived results. 

    To create a “healthy organization,” NIOSH suggests that companies:

    - Ensure that workload is in line with workers’ capabilities and resources;

    - Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation and opportunities for workers to use their skills;

    - Clearly define workers’ roles and responsibilities;

    - Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs;

    - Improve employee communications;

    - Provide opportunities for social interaction among workers; and

    - Establish work schedules that are compatible with the demands outside the job.

    There is no one-size-fits-all program to achieve these goals.  Factors such as the size and complexity of the organization as well as available resources and unique types of organizational stress must be considered.  In all situations, however, the process for developing effective stress prevention programs should include problem identification, intervention and evaluation.  Employers can either hire outside consultants or work through the process internally. 

    In the identification stage, information should be gathered about employee perceptions of their job conditions and level of stress and satisfaction.  This can be accomplished through group discussions or formal surveys.  If possible, objective measures such as absenteeism, illness and turnover rates should also be considered.  The collected information should help identify the offending job conditions and the location of stress problems.

    Next a set of intervention strategies should be designed and implemented.  Before any intervention occurs, employees should be informed about the changes.  The last step is evaluation to determine if the desired effects are being achieved.  Interventions should be evaluated on both a short and long-term basis as some steps may produce initial effects but not long-lasting change.  To create true and permanent organizational change, evaluation must be a continuous process.

    Friday
    Nov082013

    Do You Know How Your Deductible Affects Your Homeowner's Insurance Premium?

    As elementary school children, we were first introduced to the concept of ratios, or how one number relates to another number.  Back then we tended to think that like almost everything else we were learning, ratios were just one more forgettable piece of information we would never use.  Of course, we were wrong.  Ratios are something we constantly come in to contact with, even when it comes to our homeowner’s insurance.

    The ratio between the policy’s deductible and the premium is very real.  When the deductible increases, the premium decreases.  With a higher deductible the carrier is transferring more of the risk to you.  Yet, four out of ten Americans carrying homeowner’s insurance do not understand that simple ratio and its consequences.

    The Insurance Research Council (IRC) recently conducted a study that indicated only 37 percent of homeowners and 48 percent of renters, who have homeowner’s insurance, knew their policy had a deductible.  These same respondents also answered incorrectly when asked how a deductible increase affects a premium.  They responded that the premium either increased, stayed the same, or they did not know.

    The data for the IRC’s report, Public Attitude Monitor 2005, Issue 2, came from a survey conducted by TNS NFO, a market research company.  The survey was designed as a self-administered checklist mailed on January 1, 2005, to selected households in the U.S.  There were more than 55,000 respondents ages 18 or older who answered six questions about homeowner’s insurance.

    Many Americans may overlook the easiest way to reduce insurance costs simply because they do not understand the relationship between their policy’s deductible and the premium.  The Insurance Information Institute, in their publication entitled, 12 Ways To Lower Your Homeowner’s Insurance Costs, has this to say about the relationship between the two:

    “Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company starts to pay a claim, according to the terms of your policy.  The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premiums.  Nowadays, most insurance companies recommend a deductible of at least $500.  If you can afford to raise your deductible to $1,000, you may save as much as 25 percent.  Remember, if you live in a disaster-prone area, your insurance policy may have a separate deductible for certain kinds of damage.  If you live near the coast in the East, you may have a separate windstorm deductible; if you live in a state vulnerable to hail storms, you may have a separate deductible for hail; and if you live in an earthquake-prone area, your earthquake policy has a deductible.”

    The next time you review your homeowner’s coverage, be sure to talk with your agent about how increasing your deductible will impact your premium.  It may surprise you just how much you can save.

    Thursday
    Nov072013

    The John Foxworthy Tucson Insurance $500 Recovery Fund Postcard

    Tucson Insurance AgencyWhat’s happening in the personal lines insurance world and why you should care.  Property insurance is becoming a problem for most areas of the country including Arizona.  Losses from wildfires, tornadoes, hail, flooding, and storms are crushing insurance carriers profits. 

    This has prompted the “car insurance price war” to heat up even more so. Why? Because the profit margin in auto insurance is much better than that of property (home) insurance.  This is why you see direct writer car insurance companies growing rapidly, however, they are shunning property insurance. They will offer home insurance but will often farm it out or broker to another company willing to take the risk.  While this is becoming more common it does not have to be the norm.

    I research 7-10 Insurance Carriers for You!

    The John Foxworthy Tucson Insurance $500 Recovery Fund Postcard is to have a little fun but also to put real dollars back in your pocket and giving you superior coverage.  In Arizona there are several top A rated carriers that are competing in price for auto insurance without punishing you on the home insurance side.  Top carriers like Encompass, Auto-Owners, and Kemper Preferred are offering great rates on package policies that often provide superior value and coverage too.

    To date the “World’s Ugliest Postcard” has saved Tucsonan’s approximately $150,000.00!! Call me at (520) 444-8607 today.

    Monday
    Nov042013

    Is Stress a Ticking Time Bomb in Your Company?

    There seem to be very few constants in modern life; but one thing we’re able to count on is that stress is a normal part of our world.  It permeates almost every part of our lives and sometimes the best we can hope for is to keep it under control.

    Finding ways to keep stress under control is a major priority for business owners when they are developing their Human Resources policies.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have researched how much time is lost at the workplace due to employees missing work to deal with stress and anxiety disorders.

    When compared with all nonfatal injury and illness cases, the anxiety, stress, and neurotic disorder cases involved a higher percentage of long-term work loss.  In 2001, 42.1% of these cases involved 31 or more days away from work, with the average number of days lost totaling 25.  Compare that to the average number of days lost for all other nonfatal injury and illness cases, which was 6.

    There is also the issue of compensation claims that are filed for stress-related illnesses. An employee cannot sue in court for these types of claims if the stress is the result of the ordinary course of work.  However, if the employee can prove that the stress is the result of on the job harassment or discrimination, they can then pursue that claim in court.

    If an employee is filing a stress claim that cannot be litigated, they have two options.  If they are seeking a monetary award, they file through workers’ compensation.  In this instance, they must prove that the stress has risen to a level, which makes it impossible for them to continue to work.

    If they are merely seeking unpaid leave, they file under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  Under this statute, they must prove that the level of stress is high enough to meet the definition of a medical condition as outlined in the Family Medical Leave Act.  This may or may not be the way it is defined by the American Medical Association.  If they prove their case, they are entitled to three months leave.  Keep in mind that your company must have 50 or more employees for one of your staff members to file under the FMLA.

    For companies with 15 to 49 employees, workers can file stress claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  They can be awarded leave time sometimes over and above what FMLA provides.  However, historically the courts have not been welcoming of stress-related claims filed under the ADA unless the employee can prove discrimination.

    What can you as an employer do to lessen the number of stress-related claims?  Begin by making the fair treatment of employees at every level a cornerstone of your Human Resources policy.  You should also be sure that your Human Resources Department has an open-door policy when it comes to employee grievances.  This means that employees can file complaints or grievances against any member of the staff without fear of retribution.  Finally, consider instituting an employee counseling program managed through your health insurance carrier.

    The importance of any steps you take to alleviate workplace stress will be of special importance if you are hit with a stress-related claim.  Documentation is key to winning such a case.  The other important factor in your success is turning over the claim to your workers’ compensation carrier in a timely manner to give them as much time as possible to investigate the legitimacy of the claim.


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