The federal Fair Labor Standards Act forbids an employer from firing a worker because he filed a complaint accusing the employer of violating the law. It doesn’t say whether the employee’s complaint must be in writing. What if the worker complains verbally but never makes a written complaint? Does the FSLA’s prohibition against firing him still apply? That was the question the U.S. Supreme Court faced in a case it decided in March 2011.
Kevin Kasten, following the instructions in the employee handbook, told his supervisor that the location of the company’s time clocks might be illegal because it prevented workers from getting credit for the time they spent putting on and removing their protective work gear. (The FSLA requires employers to pay workers for this time.) Getting no response from his supervisor, he also complained to human resources staff and told them that he was contemplating a lawsuit. Eventually, the employer fired him. He claimed that he was fired for complaining about the location of the time clock; the company said it was because he repeatedly failed to punch in and out on the clock despite several warnings.
Kasten sued the company for illegal retaliation. The trial and appellate courts, while accepting his version of what happened, ruled in favor of the employer. The FSLA, they said, requires employees to make written complaints to their employers about possible violations, but Kasten made all his complaints verbally. Kasten appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor.
Writing for the six-justice majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said, ” … (A)n interpretation that limited the provision’s coverage to written complaints would undermine the (FLSA’s) basic objectives … Why would Congress want to limit the enforcement scheme’s effectiveness by inhibiting use of the Act’s complaint procedure by those who would find it difficult to reduce their complaints to writing, particularly illiterate, less educated or overworked workers?” He also noted that the federal Department of Labor has for decades held that the law’s requirements include oral complaints, even going so far as to set up hotlines for employees to make complaints.
Moreover, Breyer pointed out that other laws, regulations and court decisions have used the word “filed” in connection with oral complaints. He particularly noted that court decisions at the time Congress enacted the FLSA used “filed” with oral complaints. “Filings may more often be made in writing … But we are interested in the filing of ‘any complaint.’ So even if the word ‘filed,’ considered alone, might suggest a narrow interpretation limited to writings, the phrase ‘any complaint’ suggests a broad interpretation that would include an oral complaint.”
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas disagreed (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case). In a dissenting opinion, Scalia argued that the FSLA forbids discrimination against a worker if that worker has filed a complaint with a government agency. He pointed out that every other use of the word “complaint” in the FSLA refers to an official filing with a government entity. Further, he said that the phrase “filing any complaint” appears alongside other activities that involve interaction with a government entity. Because Kasten complained only to his employer and not to a government agency, Scalia said, he was not protected by the law’s anti-retaliation provisions.
The dissents notwithstanding, employers should be aware that this decision protects workers from retaliation for making oral complaints to their employers. Businesses should create and implement policies stating that employees who make such complaints will not suffer retaliation. Since Employment Practices Liability insurance policies cover employers for retaliation claims, insurance companies will expect employers to take steps to make these claims less likely.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around a third of all workers’ compensation claims are filed by employees only on the job for a year or less, with 13% being filed by an employee in their first three months of employment.
You can evaluate the statistics as they relate to your own company’s claims by sorting your employees into two categories – those employed longer than one year and those employed less than a year. Once all your employees have been sorted into the two groups, you can determine the frequency of claims per 100 employees from each group. If a large section of your workforce is aging and working physically demanding jobs, then you might find that your long-term employee group may have more claims. However, most employees will find that it’s their shorter-term employees that have the higher claim frequency.
It’s the lack of experience and training that’s one of the main culprits behind shorter-term employees having a higher claim frequency. The good news is that as they get more work hours under their belt and receive additional classroom and/or on-the-job training, they will gain experience and knowledge about safety hazards and become more safety conscious as they perform their job tasks.
Another factor causing new hires to be more prone to accidents is their personality traits and habits. Some workers might have a personality that leaves them with a tendency to ignore the rules. Other workers might simply believe that they should be left to their own devices if they get their work done on time. There are also certain employees that are prone to using short cuts. Maybe it’s in their nature, or maybe from habit, but either way they do it without regard to the risks involved.
As far as personality factors go, one of the best solutions will be to pre-screen applicants so that you can help avoid hiring someone that doesn’t demonstrate habits and personality traits conducive to your ideal working environment. The two types of pre-screening tests are: Behavioral assessments and personality measures.
Behavioral assessments will ask an applicant extremely direct questions, such as about personal drug use and theft. It’s easy to assume mistakenly that the applicant would just lie and answer the question as it should be answered. However, behavioral assessment questions are so blunt that the applicant is often caught not paying attention and will answer the questions honestly without even thinking about it or realizing they’re admitting to a bad behavior. The behavioral assessment will allow you to know the exact nature of the risk the applicant poses.
Personality tests will examine an applicant’s personal characteristics, attitude, and opinions. The questions are much more indirect than a behavioral assessment. The responses can help you evaluate and rank various job applicants based on the possible risks they pose.
In closing, using both tests together can be a very potent risk control tool. Employers that utilize such pre-screening tests also find that they can save significantly from better avoiding hiring an applicant that’s not very likely to stick with the job, and from potentially reducing their number of Workers Compensation claims.
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Most companies will need to undergo some remodeling, repairs, or possibly even an expansion at some point or another. Such work is most often outsourced to a vendor.
Before you hire a vendor to do work at your facility, you want to protect the financial security of your business and make sure that their liabilities don’t suddenly become a liability for you. For example, you’d likely feel bad for all involved if a contract worker suffered an injury working on your project. However, you might not realize that you too could be involved. If that injured contractor wasn’t insured, then it could involve an expensive lawsuit against your business. Such scenarios often prompt business owners to question how they can best protect themselves when hiring a vendor.
You might get lower bids by vendors not licensed and insured, but an unexpected injury later could result in insurmountable legal costs that would far surpass any savings. It can’t be emphasized enough just how important it is to hire only reputable, licensed, and insured companies.
How Do I Know If My Vendor Is Licensed?
Finding out if a contractor is licensed isn’t very difficult, as any licensed contractor must display their state licensing number on all marketing and advertising materials, such as phone book, billboard, and newspaper ads; the company logo on their building sign or company vehicles; and even the materials they pass out to the public.
How Do I Know If My Vendor Is Insured?
Finding out if a contractor is insured isn’t quite as simple as looking at their ads, but it’s a vetting step that you certainly don’t want to skip. Never work with a vendor that doesn’t have Commercial General Liability insurance and Workers Compensation. At a minimum, the Commercial General Liability insurance policy will cover advertising injuries, personal injuries, bodily injuries, and property damages.
If your contractor doesn’t voluntarily offer to show you a certificate of insurance as proof that they’re covered by a Commercial General Liability policy, then you should ask for it. Don’t accept that they’ll bring it by after they’re hired and don’t forget to check that the expiration and effective dates will be congruent with the dates of the project.
What Else Can I Do to Protect My Business?
Additionally, you might consider taking the following steps:
- Make a list of approved vendors that are both licensed and have shown proof of insurance.
- Ask the contractor’s insurance agent to mail you their certificate of insurance.
- Ask that your company be added to the contractor’s General Liability policy as an additional insured until the project is completed.
- Consider only hiring a contractor that has insurance limits equal to your own.
- Ask the contractor to sign a written legal contract indemnifying your company from a liability claim.
- Never work with a contractor that will need to use your tools or equipment to complete the job. Don’t even lend such items to the contractor. If your equipment or tools are defective and cause a contractor to be injured, it could result in a lawsuit.
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When making a significant purchase, you do your homework. Consumer reports on electronic gadgets to safety ratings for cars and inspection of a new house are all part of your homework. Why wouldn’t you think you should do the same with insurance?
Myth #1: Most people believe all insurance is the same
It’s not. Not all insurance companies are all financially equal. That can cause some problems in the future for claims. To do your homework about the financial strength of the insurance company, go to A.M. Best Co. They are an independent provider of insurer ratings.
Myth #2: Every insurance company provides the same coverage
Most insurance companies provide similar coverage, but every insurance company is different. That can mean unique conditions and limitations.
Myth #3: All customer service, including claims processing, are the same with every insurance company
Every company is different and that means different standardized policies for handling claims and basic customer service calls. You can go to your states Department of Insurance to find out where you company ranks with customer complaints.
Myth #4: There is no flexibility in the cost of your insurance
Contact us and we will work with you on how we can save you money based on your lifestyle or any other possible changes to your deductible. We can also shop around for you to find the policy that fits your needs.
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A review of many lawsuits and claims against firms in the construction industry reveals that one of the key causes of disputes, and thus litigation, can be summarized as “unmet expectations.”
Whether it’s a clear case of the contractor failing to deliver what was promised (such as work that doesn’t meet project specs), or an evolving standard on the part of clients (workmanship issues), an unhappy client/contractor relationship creates a fertile breeding ground for allegations of liability. Although we review your Liability coverage program and needs regularly, good risk management also requires other measures to help minimize or prevent such actions.
For example, when negotiating agreements, it’s crucial to define project parameters clearly. Never begin work until the agreements are completed fully. According to one industry study, companies experienced far more claims when they provided services before a completed agreement.
It also helps to be selective in choosing clients. A potential client’s history of past litigation, complaints against you or other contractors, and their reputation for fairness and financial stability all indicate what you can expect in future dealings. If there are one or more red flags, proceed with caution.
Beyond the specifics of any agreement, it’s also critical to manage the client’s expectations. Although it might be tempting to brag about how great the final product will be and list numerous examples of superior work during the negotiation (and pricing) process, the fact is that the higher the client’s expectations, the greater their dissatisfaction when you don’t meet those expectations. Be clear about what you can accomplish within a given budget and the effects of making changes once the job is underway. The more the client is prepared to accept what happens during a project, the less likely that they’ll immediately go to the mattresses once a problem arises.
It’s always better to negotiate expectations with your clients now, than to have their attorneys negotiating settlements later.
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Builders and contractors who buy Commercial General Liability policies with the impression that they will keep them safe from allegations of inadequate or faulty work should beware. It’s important to know that a CGL policy does not provide coverage for work that is faulty. In order to qualify for payment under a CGL policy, there must be a specific type of occurrence that causes property damage. The terms in a CGL policy define an occurrence as an accident. This includes repeated or continuous exposure to conditions that result in bodily injury or property damage. The damages or injuries must occur during the policy period in order to qualify for coverage. These injuries or damages must not be intentional. CGL policy terms specify that property damage is a physical injury to tangible property. This includes all losses of that property that happen as a result of the occurrence. It also covers the loss of use of tangible property that is physically unharmed.
When disputes arise as a result of defects in a building project, there are several factors that must be considered to determine whether the occurrence requirements and property damage requirements have been satisfied. The factors include the work or products that the contract states the policyholder was required to provide, the policy’s definitions, the alleged faulty construction job and the nature of the cause of the faulty work. These dispute conditions apply to defects in a structure sold or built by the contractor. They also apply to defects in a product that the contractor manufactures and sells independently.
If you have this coverage or are considering it, one of our agents will be able to analyze the policy’s terms. We will be particularly interested in the definitions of property damage and occurrence in the policy. This is crucial because each state’s law differs regarding such issues. Our agent will be able to advise whether or not the policy is in accordance with state laws. Some policies’ terms may indicate coverage for situations that a state’s laws may not provide coverage for. Keep in mind that state laws supersede anything written in an insurance contract. Some states specify that third-party property damage is a requirement for potential CGL coverage. Many states also specify that there is no coverage under a CGL policy for replacement or repair of damaged goods provided by the contractor. It’s also important to know that the work of a subcontractor is not covered under this law.
New Jersey was the leading state in addressing and defining defects in a CGL policy. A clear distinction was made between the replacement and repair of faulty materials. This was not considered as property damage covered under the CGL. However, third-party damage to a property may be covered. Since New Jersey’s definitions emerged, many other states have embraced the state’s view of business risks not counting as third-party property damage in the terms of a CGL policy. To better understand what the terms mean, what is covered and what state laws are in effect, contact one of our agents.
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As every business owner knows, risk is an unavoidable part of doing business. However, it is manageable and controllable. Although it is a challenge that requires time and experimentation, finding a perfect balance between profitability and peace of mind is essential. It’s impossible to eliminate risk completely, so it’s important to set realistic goals. Policies that are enacted in an attempt to fully eliminate risk could actually hamper business growth.
The Importance of Risk Management. The common concept of risk management among small business owners involves simply purchasing regular insurance protection. Other aspects of protection often escape consideration. Risk management is much more complex than simply purchasing insurance and implementing rules. These are both necessary parts of every plan. However, there are many other things to consider.
Tips for Implementing a Realistic Risk Management Plan. It’s best to start with a simple plan that is easy to follow. The prime goals should be mitigation and management of business risks. After trying the plan, analyze it and make any necessary changes or additions. Consider the following steps in order to make a positive change:
1. Identify the Risks. There are some risks that are universal. However, there are also some that are specific only to certain types of businesses. It’s important to conduct a thorough risk analysis to identify them. The best way to accomplish this is to use a standard risk checklist. There is a Small Business Insurance & Risk Management Guide available from the Small Business Administration. This guide is helpful in outlining potential risks. While going through the list, pay close attention. Most business owners are able to think of other potential risks that are unique to their situation during this process. Some of the most important initial risks to consider include:
- Property losses that occur from loss of use, physical damage or criminal activity.
- Liability losses that happen to customers and are the fault of the business.
- Business interruption losses stemming from fires, natural disasters or other unpredictable occurrences.
- Key person losses or the loss of important employees, which results in a negative impact on the company.
- Employee injury losses that occur when an employee is injured on the job and must be compensated.
2. Determine How Vulnerable the Company Is to Various Risks. Consider the various risks and how much each one would cost the company. Not all types of companies are as vulnerable as others. Companies with high vulnerability to expensive risks need to make those specific areas a strong priority in their risk management plan. The risks that aren’t worth worrying about should receive a much lower priority. Keep in mind that it’s not feasible to eliminate every possible risk. However, some need much more consideration than others. For example, a paper manufacturing company should consider the risk of employees losing limbs on dangerous presses in the manufacturing line before they become concerned with possible paper cuts to fingers of employees in the inspection department. As an overall rule, the cost of preventing the risk should never exceed the amount the estimated loss that might result from that risk.
3. Create a Contingency Plan. There is more to this aspect than purchasing insurance. Be sure to implement plans that place employee safety higher than efficiency. Install a security system to protect all property from theft and damage. Avoid transactions with unknown customers. Implement plans to train supervisors to minimize loss of key employees.
4. Purchase Adequate Insurance. In addition to purchasing enough insurance, it’s imperative to purchase the right types. Some of the key types of coverage to purchase include:
- General Liability insurance, which covers the legal liabilities faced from injuries to third parties. Medical expenses, property damage and bodily damage are typically covered.
- Professional Liability insurance, which covers allegations of malpractice, negligence and other errors in services.
- Product Liability insurance, which covers the expenses related to injuries or damages resulting from a defective product. This is essential for all companies producing tangible products.
- Commercial Property insurance, which covers loss and damage costs for business properties. Business interruption is typically covered by this provision.
5. Revise as Necessary. Be sure to review and update risk management plans regularly. Reassess risks and make any necessary changes. It’s important to have regular review meetings with department heads, owners and a risk management consultant. Be sure to inform the insurance company of any changes or new risks.
Business owners who plan to raise capital from investors must be especially vigilant in their risk management planning. Having a good plan and updating it regularly is important for gaining their trust and making them comfortable with the opportunity to invest.
Farmers in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last month, are facing hard choices as a drought threatens to ruin their crops. They must weigh the costs of paying for irrigation against the chance that their fields will never get enough water this season.
A striking picture illustrates the severity of the situation, as Northern California’s Folsom Lake, a reservoir northeast of Sacramento, is seen in January at only 17 percent of its capacity. In July 2011, “the lake was at 97 percent of total capacity and 130 percent of its historical average for that date,” according to NASA.
The federal agency says it is working with the California Department of Water Resources to help the state manage its water resources. Last month, NASA released other images showing the drought’s severity. As NPR member station KQED reported, the state’s snowpack is shown in January 2013 and last month. Much of it did not return.
Here are other updates on the situation:
NASA said today that it’s working to share satellite and weather data with California farmers and water officials to help them avoid wasting water, and to use it in the most efficient way possible. The space agency says a trial run of its Satellite Irrigation Management Support system in 2012 and 2013 “demonstrated sustained yields while reducing the amount of water used by up to 33 percent relative to standard practice.”
Growers of almonds — a state crop valued at $5 billion in 2012 — have been pulling trees out of the ground while they’re still in their prime, in desperate actions driven by high water costs. The AP spoke to a grower who watched crews rip 20 percent of his orchard out of the ground. A man who does that work for a living says business is up 75 percent because of the drought, and his crews are working from sunup to sundown.
Forecasts of rain and snow were welcomed by many Californians, as parts of the state could see more rain this week than they’ve had in the previous eight months together. But Time’s Bryan Walsh warns that even with that rainfall, “much of California will still be below average for precipitation this month. Since February tends to be the wettest month for California, that means that the state still has a larger and larger rainfall deficit to make up if this drought is to ever end.”
Contact McVey Insurance today to get a review of your agriculture insurance.
The federal Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 330,000 complaints in 2009, and more than a third of them ended up in the hands of law enforcement. The damages from those referred to the authorities totaled more than a half billion dollars. The Government Accountability Office estimated that cyber crime cost U.S. organizations $67.2 billion in 2005; that number has likely increased since then. With so much of business today done electronically, organizations of all types are highly vulnerable to theft and corruption of their data. It is important for them to identify their loss exposures, possible loss scenarios, and prepare for them. Some of the questions they should ask include:
What types of property are vulnerable? The organization should consider property it owns, leases, or property of others it has in its custody. Some examples:
- Money, both the organization’s own funds and those it holds as a fiduciary for someone else
- Customer or member lists containing personally identifiable information, account numbers, cell phone numbers, and other non-public information
- Personnel records
- Medical insurance records
- Bank account information
- Confidential memos and spreadsheets
- Software stored on web servers
Different types of property will be susceptible to various threats, such as embezzlement, extortion, viruses, and theft. What loss scenarios could occur? The organization needs to prepare for events such as:
- A fire destroys large portions of the computer network, including the servers. Operations cease until the servers can be replaced and reloaded with data.
- A computer virus infects a workstation. The user of that computer unknowingly spreads it to everyone in his workgroup, crippling the department during one of the year’s peak periods.
- The accounting department discovers a pattern of irregular small funds transfers to an account no one has ever heard of. The transfers, which have been occurring for almost three months, were small enough to avoid attracting attention. They total more than $10,000.
- A vendor’s employee strikes up a casual conversation at a worker’s cubicle and stays long enough to memorize the worker’s computer password, written on a post-it note stuck to her monitor. Two weeks later, technology staff discovers that an offsite computer has accessed the human resources database and viewed Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and other personal information.
In addition to taking steps to prevent these things from happening, the organization should consider buying a Cyber insurance policy. Several insurance companies now offer this coverage; although no standard policy exists yet, the policies share some common features. They usually cover property or data damage or destruction, data protection and recovery, loss of income when a business must suspend operations due to data loss, extra expenses necessary to maintain operations following a data event, data theft, and extortion. However, each company might define these coverages differently, so reviewing the terms and conditions of a particular policy is crucial. Choosing an appropriate amount of insurance is difficult because there is no easy way to measure the exposure in advance. Consultation with the organization’s technology department, insurance agent and insurance company might be helpful. Finally, all policies will carry a deductible; the organization should select a deductible level that it can afford to pay and that will provide it with a meaningful discount on the premium. Once management has a thorough understanding of the coverages various policies provide in relation to the organization’s exposures, it can fairly compare the costs of the policies and make an informed choice.
Computer networks are a necessary part of any organization’s environment today. Loss prevention and reduction techniques, coupled with sound insurance protection at a reasonable cost, will enable an organization to get through a cyber loss event.
Content provided by Transformer Marketing.
There are often benefits to middle-market companies emulating their larger counterparts’ risk management examples.
“There is a basic risk management process, methodology that has been around for years,” said Patrick Donnelly, co-leader of U.S. broking at Aon Risk Solutions in Chicago. “But only larger companies have been able to make the investment to create the framework to go through those steps.”
Carol Fox, director of strategic and enterprise risk practice for the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. in New York, said it’s critical for midsize firms to focus on how they’re embedding risk management in the organization.
Here are 10 risk management lessons middle-market companies should heed in 2014:
1. Business continuity planning
One of the steps many larger companies have taken that middle-market companies could benefit from is business continuity planning.
“In order to have a good business continuity plan, you really need to understand your business — and that’s inside and out,” said Jim Hedrick, area vice president of business continuity planning at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Cincinnati. “A middle-market company may not have the bandwidth to do that,” he said.
2. Establishing a crisis plan
Hand in hand with the business continuity process is establishing a crisis management plan. A crisis management plan helps drive decision-making when a crisis occurs and helps ensure that information gets to the right people.
3. Testing the crisis plan
A crisis management plan alone isn’t enough; it needs to be regularly tested. “To me, if you don’t test your plans you might as well not have them,” Mr. Hedrick said. “Not only does it test the validity of the plan, but also it’s a terrific training mechanism.”
Testing the plan also helps identify “who should be in your plan and shouldn’t be in your plan,” he said. “Sometimes you have people in these events who just melt down because they can’t handle the stress.”
4. Managing supply chain risks
While the effort can be challenging, large companies have increasingly recognized the need to identify and address supply chain risks. Middle-market companies that haven’t should do so as well, experts say.
Supply chain risk is “the one exposure that I believe has changed significantly since the credit crisis,” said Mark Moreland, executive vice president for strategic consulting at Lockton Cos. L.L.C. in Kansas City, Mo. In trying to squeeze costs out of their supply chains some companies have taken steps to narrow their supply chains, reduce the number of suppliers and change their risk profile in the process, something that must be addressed, he said.
5. Defining a risk appetite
Mid-market companies should develop a clearly defined risk appetite. “This is the one thing that we are trying to do with all our clients and prospects: establishing a very clear risk appetite,” Mr. Moreland said.
“What may happen in a middle-market organization is they believe, “We know what our risk appetite is because we aren’t that large an organization,’” Ms. Fox said. But middle-market companies can find value in having that conversation, clarifying their risks and specifying how much risk they’re willing to assume and how much insurance to buy.
6. Benchmarking risk management performance
The process of defining a risk appetite also could help middle-market companies recognize how they might differ from companies they’re benchmarking their risk management efforts against.
“It allows them to benchmark on areas that are different from just insurance buying,” RIMS’ Ms. Fox said. “It gives them more data points.”
“Benchmarking is always something that clients are interested in. I think the real challenge is to get benchmarking that you can draw clear conclusions from,” Mr. Moreland said.
“Benchmarking is one of those underrated tools that I think midsize companies can use in understanding their risk,” said Mark Moitoso, executive vice president and general manager national accounts casualty at Liberty Mutual Holding Co. Inc. in Boston. “What’s really nirvana in this is it helps them establish goals.”
7. Using captives to self-insure risks
As middle-market companies become more familiar with their risks and their risk appetites, they may choose to retain more risk or find risk financing alternatives and captives can be a useful tool. Middle-market companies are increasingly embracing alternative risk transfer.
“The big growth is with the middle-market companies,” said Karl Huish, president of the Captive Services Division of Artex Risk Solutions Inc. in Mesa, Ariz. “These businesses are recognizing they have exactly the same sorts of risks that the larger companies have, they’re just smaller in size.”
Middle-market companies are starting to use captives both for risks they didn’t previously insure and in financing large-deductible workers compensation, automobile liability, general liability and property programs. And the larger middle-market companies are often doing that through stand-alone captives, while smaller middle-market firms frequently opt for group captives.
8. Addressing cyber risks
With cyber threats cutting across companies of all sizes, middle-market companies also are increasingly aware of the need to address those risks.
When insurers first introduced cyber risk policies, many buyers questioned their value, recognizing the number of incidents that were occurring but not sure about the extent of potential damage, said Patrick Donnelly, co-leader of U.S. broking at Aon Risk Solutions in Chicago. Now nearly every company is recognizing that they have some sort of exposure.
“That’s extended into the middle markets more in the past 18 months or so,” Mr. Donnelly said.
9. Return-to-work efforts
Middle-market companies can also benefit by following larger companies’ example in adopting return-to-work programs. Such programs can produce significant workers compensation savings while allowing injured workers to participate in modified work assignments while they recover from injuries.
10. Continuing education
Middle market companies always can benefit from following many large company risk managers’ lead in looking for continuing education and networking opportunities through organizations like RIMS.
“It’s not just the courses, the workshops, the online webinars, they can benefit from but the conferences and the networking by belonging to an organization,” Ms. Fox explained.