Question: How does an employer check to see if a potential employee has filed Workers’ Compensation claims in the past
Answer: According to the Texas Department of Insurance – Division of Workers’ Compensation website, the following applies:
If you have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, you can file a Prospective Employment Authorization and Certification (DWC Form-156) with TDI-DWC to obtain general information about previous work-related injuries. Information will only be provided if the applicant has had two or more general injuries in the preceding five years. To obtain this information, you must have written permission from the applicant prior to the request and if the employee is covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act, the employer must have made a conditional offer of employment.
One of the most serious workplace dangers- fire- can be prevented or its impact minimized with thorough planning and training
It takes only one tragedy to remind us of the critical importance of maintaining a comprehensive fire-prevention program. A good, efficiently managed program that employees understand can make the difference in preventing catastrophe.
OSHA Regulations: Nine subparts of 29 CFR 1910 contain specific fire-prevention standards. 1910.155 through 1910.165, Subart L is dedicated to Fire Protection, 1910.38,.39 Fire Emergency Action Plan. The other eight are Subparts E,H,M,N,Q,R,S, and Z.
Among the more common fire safety violations are those dealing with:
- Electrical Grounding
- Ignition sources
- Design and construction of storage containers
- Transfer of flammable liquid
- Ventilation of storage areas
- Cleaning of spray areas
- Smoking Rules
Specific OSHA requirements vary according to the structure and activity of your workplace, but basically, there are two key managemaent tasks involved in fire prevention and protection.
- A system to protect workers from fire. This system must include:
- Proper maintenance and testing of smoke detectors, alarms, sprinklers, hoses, and portable & fixed fire extinguishers
- Adequate emergency access to, and egress from, the workplace
- Training for personnel who maintain fire-safety equipment
- Training for all employees in fire-emergency procedures
- A written Fire-prevention plan if you have more than 11 employees
- First Response Arrangements. If you decide to use a fire-fighting brigade of your own, OSHA provides detailed regulations. Whether you choose that approach or rely solely on local emergency authorities, you need to establish a close relationship with the local force. Invite them to become familiar with your facility and maintain good communication.
All employees should have training in the following:
- Alarms- locations, sound
- Emergency phone numbers
- Exits, routes, meeting places
- Use and location of fire extinguishers
- When/how/if to attempt to extinguish a fire
- Fire prevention, especially housekeeping and electrical safety
A practice evacuation is the best way to assess how effective your training has been.
Source: Business & Legal Resources
Home improvement projects usually take off in the summer, when many homeowner’s gut the kitchen or add a bathroom. But what happens when a contractor’s negligence causes those plans to go up in smoke- literally?
Doug Clark’s 4,800 square foot home was hit by lightning in 2014, igniting a fire that destroyed the top floor of his home. During repairs, another storm came through and ripped off the roof, causing extensive flooding. Then, the contractor failed to properly secure the home, and the new AC Unit was stolen, along with jewelry, lawn equipment, and two generators.
The result: a $400,000 insurance claim paid by Doug’s insurance company. Luckily, Doug was insured with a company that specializes in high-value luxury and waterfront homes.
“We made a mistake- we hired a friend of a friend, who was a contractor. We didn’t give it a lot of thought. I had four children ad two puppies, and we needed to be back in our house as quickly as we could”, says Mr. Clark.
Often, a high-net-worth homeowner will file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance carrier, versus directly with the contractor who caused the damage. Their homeowner’s insurance policy will likely provide a better claims experience and afford better insurance coverage. For example, if a contractor has a $1 million policy but the renovation damage totaled $3 million, the homeowner would file a claim for the full amount with their own insurer. That insurer would like seem reimbursement from the contractor or its insurance company.
Also, high end homes are more likely to incorporate pricey materials or fixtures, not to mention valuable artwork or antiques, and a contractor’s liability policy may not cover these items.
Claims from renovations frequently include water damage from pipe breaks, broken windows, fire, and sometimes theft of building materials.
“There are so many things that could go wrong,” says Dan DiClerico, a home expert at HomeAdvisor.
We recommend that you stay in touch with your insurance agent before and after a home improvement project to ensure you have sufficient coverage. After a major renovation, policy limits may need to be increased so that a homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild the home. Some projects, such as replacing a roof or installing impact-resistant windows, may qualify for an insurance discount as well.
For those about to embark upon a home improvement project or other renovations, here are a few things to consider:
- Verify Everything. Fully vet your contractor. Make sure the firm holds a state license, is bonded, and has required insurance, including general liability and workers’ compensation. We also recommend verifying the insurance coverage of subcontractors.
- Keep copious records. Retain copies of all paperwork involved with your project- proof of licensing, binding and insurance, contracts, invoices, proof of payment, progress photos and all project related correspondence.
- Take inventory. Before starting a home improvement project, make a detailed list of all the items in your home. This includes furniture, appliances, personal possessions, and note the date you acquired them and the purchase price. Consider taking photos or making a video. If you do experience a property loss, your inventory will assist in the settlement of a covered loss of claim.
Source: Jumbo Jungle, Robyn A. Friedman
IMPORTANT WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INFORMATION!
Did you know that if you elect not to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance, you are still required to follow certain non-subscription procedures, even if you purchase an alternative type product?
A non-subscriber is required to file the DWC Form-005 with the Division of Workers Compensation annually between Feb. 1 and April 30 of each calendar year. The law also requires written notices be posted in the personnel office, and in a prominent place where employees can see them regularly, stating that you do not have workers compensation insurance. A written notice must also be given to new employees upon hire. Employers with five or more employees also have ongoing requirements to report monthly any injury that results in more than one day lost from work, including all occupational illnesses and fatalities.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance provides employers and employees with the MOST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE & PROTECTION AVAILABLE and it is more affordable than ever with further rate reductions coming!
Please contact our office to discuss the benefits and protections afforded by subscribing to the Texas Workers Compensation system. We encourage you to obtain a quote, so you can make an informed decision regarding what is best for you and your business. In the meantime, questions and answers regarding requirements of a non-subscribing employer can be viewed at the Texas Department of Insurance’s website.
Failure to follow the Division of Workers Compensation non-subscription rules can be very costly.
Further, in the event that Workers Compensation premium is simply not affordable at this time, there are alternative products available that will provide you some protection. Please contact our office for more details.
Are You At Risk?
Do you process Credit Card Payments?
Do you have a mailing list with an personal client information?
The following business types are affected by cyber attacks. Your business could be next. Are you prepared?
To get your quote for Cyber Liability Insurance, visit our Business Insurance tab at the top of this website. The quote is free but could save you thousands!
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, or medical purposes.
2018 Standard Mileage Rates Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup, or panel truck will be:
- 54.5 cents per mile for all business miles driven (up 1 cent from 2017)
- 18 cents per mile driven for medical purposes (up 1 cent from 2017)
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged from 2017)
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.
IRS Notice 2018-03 contains additional information about mileage rates.
For more on employer-provided transportation benefits, please see our section on Fringe Benefits.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment, a guidance document that contains harassment prevention recommendations for employers in four broad categories:
- Leadership and accountability;
- Harassment policies;
- Harassment complaint systems; and
- Harassment training.
For each category, the guidance lists numerous actions employers can take. Recommended actions include, for example:
- Allocating sufficient resources for effective harassment prevention strategies;
- Crafting an unequivocal statement that harassment based on, at a minimum, any legally protected characteristic, is prohibited; and
- Conducting regular, interactive, and comprehensive harassment prevention training for all employees.
The document states that while the practices it discusses are not legal requirements under federal employment discrimination laws, they may enhance compliance efforts.
To read the guidance document, click here.
For more information on compliance issues concerning discrimination in the workplace, please visit our Discrimination section.
No one pays closer attention to a travelers’ plans than cybercriminals. At a time when data breaches are on the rise worldwide, thieves are using technology to take advantage of travelers’ unsecured devices, unprotected data and unguarded identities. If you take just a few of the following steps while traveling, you can protect yourself against cybercrime—while still enjoying your time away.
Prepare well in advance. Take a few small steps, like updating your devices and double-checking your accommodation’s fine print, can greatly increase your security while traveling.
Before heading to the airport, pack with safety in mind. Always carry copies of important identity information, aside from your passport or driver’s license, in case those items are stolen. Carry these documents on you at all times so you can use them, or ones readily available at home, to confirm your identity at an embassy or airport.
Take caution when visiting very popular destinations as these places are just as likely to attract cybercriminals as they do tourists. Before you connect to a conveniently public Wi-Fi network, know the risks. Close out apps that could hold important personal information and look out for “shoulder surfers” who could be watching.
By taking these simple steps, you could avoid a potentially devastating cyber attack. With everything in this world from communication, to paying bills, to applying for loans all becoming electronically based, the necessity for greater protection is much higher. Many consumers assume that the device distributor or software contain all the protection they need however, protecting your assets starts with you acknowledging the risks ad doing your part to avoid an attack.
To learn more about how you can protect yourself while traveling, visit J.P. Morgan’s Cyber Digest.
Tis the season for expensive gifts! Don’t forget to check with your insurance agent to make certain these items are insured correctly & for the right values. Please take a minute to read the article below from U.S. News on how to insure your most valuable possessions.
Here at First Texas Insurance, we want to ensure that, not only are we part of your team, but that you have a strong financial and liability team in place. It is important to have certain professionals in place, or creditable professionals in mind, when dealing with the most important aspects of your life.
Below is a diagram created to help you begin building your strategic team! We recommend having all of the following support systems in place in the event of a catastrophic event in your life. These people may not seem too important to you now however, in worst case scenarios, you will work with these professionals very closely so, we recommend taking the time to research your choices and make your decision based on references, professionalism, work ethic, and many other important attributes that you would want these individuals to possess.
We’ve left an open bubble as you more than likely already have a trusted source in mind for dynamic life events such as a financial advisor, an arbitrator, or any other professional that would benefit you depending on the specific situation like a roofer, contractor, or independent adjuster.
In taking the time to build your team, these individuals would ideally communicate frequently and adequately, with you and each other, to work in your best interest! Be sure to select dependable, responsible, and organized professionals to ensure that your satisfaction is guaranteed across the board.