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    Tucson Insurance Blog

    Friday
    Sep272013

    Drivers Aren't Using Turn Signals According to Survey

    We all remember the experience of first learning to drive. You couldn’t wait to get on the road, so you quickly learned the driving rules to show your parents you were prepared to take your driving test. When the day of your road test finally arrived, you dutifully went through the prescribed paces, making sure to use turn signals so the test administrator would evaluate you as a safe, reliable driver. But when a driver’s license was placed in your eager hands that seemed to be the end of any need for turn signals. Or so says a survey conducted in August 2005 by Response Insurance, a national car insurer.

    According to the National Driving Habits Survey, fifty-seven percent of American drivers admit they don’t use turn signals when changing lanes. The numbers revealed men as the main culprits: sixty-two percent of men don’t use signals when changing lanes, while only fifty-three percent of the women who responded admitted the same. Drivers in the 18 to 24 demographic lead the pack with seventy-one percent failing to signal. Only forty-nine percent of drivers in the 55 to 64 age group admitted to this behavior.

    Despite their shared behavior, respondents admitting to non-use of turn signals often shared different reasons for this pattern. The researchers categorized drivers into groups based on their rationale for ignoring the use of signals:

     

    • Impulsive: At forty-two percent, this category represented the largest group of guilty drivers. Their reason for ignoring the use of signals is a whimsical approach to lane changing, doing so whenever the mood strikes them. They feel they don’t have enough time to both predict and then signal their impending lane change.
    • Lazy: Accounting for twenty-three percent of non-signaling drivers, this group couldn’t offer any reason other than honest laziness for failing to signal a lane change.
    • Forgetful: Seventeen percent of respondents fit this description; these drivers said they don’t use a turn signal because they forget to turn it off after the lane change.
    • Swervers: The zigzagging twelve percent in this category admitted they spend their time on the road constantly changing lanes. Their lane changes are so frequent, they felt they would be continually turning signals on and off.
    • Ostriches: The eleven percent in this group believe signaling is simply not an important act when changing lanes.
    • Followers: This category had eight percent of the guilty respondents; they believe when other drivers don’t signal, they shouldn’t have to either.
    • Dare Devils: The smallest number of drivers fell into this category. Seven percent of those who don’t signal said this style of driving adds excitement to driving.

     

    Monday
    Sep232013

    A Complete Approach to Commercial General Liability Coverage

    All businesses utilize risk management techniques in some format to reduce liability exposure.  No matter how hard you try, however, you can never fully account for the actions of others. On any given day, your business could be found on the wrong end of a lawsuit for injuries or damages caused to a third party as a result of your operations. Commercial General Liability insurance is your first line of defense in these situations.

    Take for example broadcast production employees who ignore safety standards when operating electrical equipment. They are remiss even though they have been thoroughly trained in accepted procedures. The negligent handling of broadcast equipment can not only result in bodily harm to the employee, but injuries or even death to unaffiliated third parties.

    As a manufacturer, you are potentially liable for every product you ship.  While quality control may be stressed throughout your organization, the fact remains that no person or machine is perfect. Harm caused to a third party from a faulty product could lead to a lengthy courtroom battle.

    Visitors to a long-term care facility can also be the victims of unforeseen events. A floor mat with torn and uplifted edges or an extension cord placed across a heavily trafficked area can certainly be the starting point for an accident.

    That’s why, in spite of your best efforts at removing all the obvious potential hazards from your business, you might still find yourself being sued. Commercial General Liability insurance is your best defense against devastating claims that could destroy your business.

    Commercial General Liability insurance is designed to protect business owners from a variety of exposures.  It can cover liability arising from accidents on or off premises, to products sold by the insured that result in injury to the user, to contractual liability, leaving an owner free to concentrate on managing their business.

    Just as important, Commercial General Liability coverage protects owners even if their company isn’t legally liable for a claim. Legal defense costs are continually rising; and the expense to defend oneself against a claim whether justified or not can be financially devastating to a business. The fact that Commercial General Liability insurance pays for expenses such as attorney’s fees, witness fees, and police reports is an important coverage feature. Another significant consideration is that coverage goes beyond the basic expenses of a legal defense to cover any reasonable expenses the business owner may incur at the insurance company’s request to assist in the planning of their defense. Finally, the liability policy will also fund the premium for any bond the court requires, ensuring that the judgment will be paid if the business owner is found legally liable for an injury or property damage.

    Thursday
    Sep192013

    Research Proves Using Seat Belts Cuts Hospital Bills

    Evidence of the importance of wearing a seat belt while in a moving vehicle is not a recent discovery; many studies have been conducted to compare the hospital costs for victims of crashes that wore seat belts against those who did not wear them.   In 2001, the National Safety Council revealed that the average inpatient costs for crash victims not wearing seat belts were 50% higher than victims who were wearing seat belts during the accident.

    In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the deaths and injuries that result from not wearing a seat belt cost an estimated $26 billion annually in medical care, lost productivity and other related costs.

    Recently, the Minnesota Seat Belt Coalition has been conducting its own research to determine how the use of seat belts impacts the cost of health care. Using Minnesota vehicle crash records from 2002, the group has discovered that hospital costs for unrestrained crash victims were 94% higher than hospital costs for those using seat belts. They estimated that increasing seat belt usage in Minnesota to 94% from the current rate of 84% could reduce the cost of crash-related hospital care an average of $19 million annually over the next 10 years.

    Many people might wonder how a simple piece of equipment could be so effective in reducing crash-related hospital costs, and potentially save their life.  To understand how a seatbelt works, one must first examine a basic principle of physics called inertia.

    Sir Isaac Newton is credited with refining the concept of inertia in his work entitled Laws of Motion. Newton’s first law stated that, “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight ahead, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.”  Put simply, an object will continue to move in an straight line until something interferes with its path.

    Take that basic premise and apply it to a moving vehicle, which contains a driver and passengers. If a vehicle is traveling at 40 miles per hour, inertia should keep it moving forward at this pace, undisturbed. However, other factors like air resistance and friction caused by the interaction of the tires and the road surface are continually slowing it down. The car’s engine is designed to compensate for this energy loss and keep the car in continuous motion.

    Separately, everything inside the car has its own inertia. Even though the passengers’ inertia is separate from the car’s inertia, while the car is traveling at 40 miles per hour, the passengers are traveling at 40 miles per hour as well. At this point, both the car and the passengers have the same inertia.

    If the car were to suddenly stop because it impacted with another object, the passengers’ inertia and the car’s inertia would be completely independent. The force of the impact would bring the car to an abrupt stop, but the passengers would still be traveling at 40 miles per hour. Without a seat belt, the inhabitants would continue to move forward at 40 miles per hour until their path was obstructed, usually by a steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield. Depending on where and how the passengers landed, they could be killed instantly, injured severely, or walk away from the crash unharmed.

    The deciding factor in this equation is the seat belt. A seat belt applies the stopping force to the sturdier parts of the body over a longer period of time. If it is worn correctly, it will apply the major portion of the stopping force to the rib cage and the pelvis, which are better able to handle it than other body parts. The belts extend across a wide section of the body, so the force is not concentrated on a small section of the body and cannot do as much harm as the impact of an object in the car. In addition, the flexible seat belt material stretches to keep the stop from being too sudden.

    This simple piece of equipment relies on the properties of physics to save both lives and millions of dollars in health care annually.  It could save you money in taxes and health insurance costs.  The three extra seconds it takes to reach over and fasten the belt seem insignificant when you consider the many benefits of wearing it.  The next time you ride in a car, check to see if all the passengers are belted in; it could be the difference between life and death.

    Tuesday
    Sep172013

    Know Your Liabilities When Hiring Temporary Workers

    The importance of the temporary worker has increased in the last ten years due to gaps in staffing caused by downsizing, mergers and acquisitions. A temporary worker can be hired to fill in for an employee on leave or they can be used to augment a company’s permanent staff during seasonal fluctuations. Regardless of the reason for their employment, any business owner who hires temporaries should understand that they are entitled to certain considerations even though they will only be with you for a short time.

    That entitlement rests on the answer to an important question of whether or not the temporary is an “employee” or an “independent contractor”. This is especially relevant when it comes to the area of discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that temporaries are covered employees under the federal and state anti-discrimination laws if the right to control the means and manner of their work performance rests with the hiring company, rather than with the temporaries themselves.

    It’s important to note that even though the staffing agency pays the temporary based on the number of hours reported by the business owner; it is the hiring company that oversees the temporary’s work. Moreover, the temporary uses the hiring company’s supplies and equipment and works on-site. In this instance, the liability for providing a discrimination free environment is not transferred to the staffing agency, as most companies would believe. The EEOC says the liability is shared by both the staffing agency and the hiring firm.

    The issue of safety in the workplace is another area of vulnerability when it comes to hiring temporary workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has taken the stance that companies employing temporary workers are primarily responsible for compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act with regard to those workers’ safety. The rationale for this position is again based on the fact that the hiring company controls the means and manner of their work.

    Employing temporary workers also has ramifications for the hiring company when it comes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law requires employers with 50 or more employees to allow any eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave in any 12 month period, while still maintaining the employee’s health insurance benefits and usually, to restore the employee to the same or equivalent position upon his/her return. While the hiring firm does not grant FMLA leave to temporaries, they do have to count temporary workers as part of their contingent when determining if they meet the 50 or more criterion. They must also allow a temporary employee returning from FMLA leave to continue working at their site, even if that means letting another temporary worker go who was hired to replace the worker on leave.

    The National Labor Relations Board considers hiring companies and staffing agencies to be joint employers for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when both make determinations that affect the terms and conditions of the temporary worker’s employment. An important consequence of this joint employer determination for the hiring company is that it may be held liable for the staffing agency’s unfair labor practices toward the temporary worker it has hired.

    And finally, hiring companies must include most temporary employees in their employee headcounts to see if their benefit plans qualify for a favorable tax treatment under the Internal Revenue Code. However, several courts have ruled that there is no provision in either the Internal Revenue Code or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act that hinders hiring companies from excluding temporary workers from their benefit programs.

    Friday
    Sep132013

    Tips for Older Drivers As Your Reaction Time Slows

    The feeling of freedom you get while driving is one you never grow tired of. That feeling keeps people behind the wheel, even when the effects of aging make it more difficult for them to drive safely.

    As you age, your ability to react lessens. Taking medications for conditions, such as high blood pressure or cardiac problems, can add to your inability to react quickly. You may experience a feeling of being lost or confused when you find yourself in an unfamiliar environment. Sometimes you may also be overwhelmed by all of the traffic signals, road signs, pedestrians and vehicles that you have to keep track of at intersections. Distances become harder to judge, and you have difficulty in determining whether you have enough room to turn or change lanes. Likewise, knowing when to merge with traffic from the on-ramp of a highway may become difficult to judge. These are all the result of the natural aging process, but you need to take extra precautions to be sure they don’t interfere with your ability to handle your vehicle.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed the following guidelines to help older Americans drive more safely:

    • Plan your route. Drive where you are familiar with the road conditions and traffic patterns.
    • Drive during the day and avoid rush hours. Find alternative routes with less traffic.
    • Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead. Find a marker ahead of you, such as a tree, sign or lamppost. When the car ahead of you passes this marker, count “1001, 1002, 1003, 1004.” Try to leave enough space so that you reach 1004 before your car gets to the marker.
    • When approaching intersections, remind yourself to look to roadsides, as well as directly ahead.
    • Try to make left turns at intersections where green arrow signals provide protected turns. Sometimes you can completely avoid left turns by making a right turn at the next intersection. Two more right turns should put you on the street you need.
    • Scan far down the road continuously so that you can anticipate future problems and plan your actions. A passenger can serve as a “second pair of eyes.” Be careful not to get distracted in conversation.

    Many seniors are still very capable of driving, which is why a decision about a person’s ability to drive should never be based solely on age. However, changes in reflexes can put at an older driver at increased risk. If you recognize and accept these changes, you can adjust your driving habits to allow many more years of safe driving.

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