What Is a Workers Compensation Rating and Why Does It Matter?

Most business owners and executives understand the value of workers compensation insurance not just to protect the worker, but to protect the company as well. Fewer, however, are aware of the mechanics of how premiums are arrived at, and how their own company’s safety track record figures into their rating.  Understanding the process, however, may well enable you to qualify for lower premiums down the road, saving your business money and making you more competitive.

Industry underwriters set workers compensation premiums using a process similar to how most companies price group health insurance: They look at the actual claims experience for similar workers in your area, and if there is a history of claims, at your company specifically. Where there is insufficient local claims experience to look at, underwriters turn to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, a clearing house of workers injury and compensation data.

Generally, underwriters will take your payroll and multiply it by an average claim factor for that type of worker. This produces a baseline average of the total number of expected claims, which they subdivide as claims per $100,000 of payroll, claims per year, or claims per time unit. The frequency of claims is considered to be a close proxy for the safety culture of the individual business. They then account for the average severity of claims for that type of worker in your industry and combine the two to arrive at a baseline prediction for expected losses.

Underwriters must then try to assess your business and answer the following question: Given the policies and procedures in place at your business and your claims history, is your company likely to produce losses that are higher than the industry baseline or lower?

Over time, underwriters have discovered that the most likely future claims predictor is a past history of claims at your company. Therefore, to save money on workers compensation premiums, it behooves the company to invest aggressively in preserving the safety of the work environment, both in terms of resources and management focus.

Your workers compensation agent and underwriting team will assign your company an insurance rating, with 1 deemed equal to the average claims experience in your industry for the area.

Any rating higher than 1 indicates a worse-than-average risk for workers compensation claims. If your rating comes out higher than 1, you may be able to qualify for lower rates in future years by reviewing your safety program and the types of losses your company has incurred. Identify any patterns and refcurring themes. You may benefit from bringing in a risk management consultant for an outside set of eyeballs. Some investment in equipment or improved training may be needed, or you may need to be more vigilant for workers compensation fraud in a few cases.

Best Practices

In the long run, your safety record is a reflection of your overall safety culture. That’s not something limited to the rank and file worker and shop foremen, though. The most important link in the safety culture chain is at the top.

 

  • Invest in training your workers in all aspects of safety relevant for their jobs.
  • Appoint a senior manager with clout to monitor your safety and OSHA compliance, and empower him or her to enforce it throughout the company.
  • Empower any worker to halt work activities if he or she becomes aware of an unsafe work condition, until that condition can be corrected.

 

Everyone is part of your workplace safety culture – but senior management is the most important link in the chain, because management sets the tone throughout the organization.

ACBI utilizes a unique tool to help analyze your Workers’ Comp experience and rates.  To learn more, call us at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Several Vehicles Win Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick from IIHS

 

There were 22 vehicles that earned the top safety rating, whih is Top Safety Pick+, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for 2014. This was due to their high levels of protection during crashes and for having front crash prevention technology. Another 17 vehicles earned Top Safety Pick for their performance in crashes.

The IIHS implemented new criteria for their 2014 awards. To earn a Top Safety Pick rating, a vehicle must perform well in the moderate overlap front, roof strength, side and head restraint tests. This must occur during the first test, and the vehicle must also perform acceptable or good during the small overlap front test. This was a newer form of test, which was introduced in 2012. In addition to a basic rating for front crash prevention, the same level of performance in those tests is required to earn the higher Top Safety Pick+ rating.

Experts said they made it tougher for auto manufacturers in 2014 to pass the tests. Although the front overlap test was not used as much before, it has now been incorporated as a standard in all test sets. They also decided to provide extra recognition to manufacturers offering proven crash avoidance technology. Since 2006, the IIHS has been awarding Top Safety Pick ratings and has toughened its criteria two times. To reward manufacturers for acceptable or good performance in the small overlap test, the Top Safety Pick+ award was introduced in 2013. For this specific test, 25 percent of a front end on the driver’s side must travel at 40 mph to hit a rigid barrier. The test simulates what happens when a vehicle’s front corner collides with an object or another vehicle.

To earn the Top Safety Pick+ award now, a manufacturer must make a vehicle that not only keeps passengers safe but also prevents or mitigates front-to-rear collisions through special systems. Front crash prevention incorporates automatic braking and warnings and is supposed to help drivers who are not alert to avoid hitting a stopped or slowing vehicle in front of them. These types of systems have been appearing more and more often throughout vehicle fleets. This means there are more Top Safety Pick+ winners than Top Safety Pick winners for 2014.

Experts say that consumers who want the latest in passenger protection and crash prevention technology have many more vehicles to consider than before. They hope that manufacturers will continue this trend of producing vehicles that earn the highest safety ratings. Ultimately, they hope to see these features become a standard for all manufacturers and all vehicles.

The winners of the Top Safety Pick+ award range from warning systems to auto-brake systems. One vehicle’s system avoided a crash at both 25 mph and 12 mph. However, many of the winners of this award only qualified if they were also equipped with the optional front crash prevention systems. This means they still met the regular Top Safety Pick award standards without them, but obviously performed much better with them.

Some of the winners for 2014 for the top safety award were not winners in 2013. Some examples include the Infiniti Q50, the Acura RLX, the Acura MDX, the Toyota Highlander and the Mazda 3. All of these models had been fully redesigned. There was also a new model called the Chevrolet Spark, which is a mini-car that won the regular Top Safety Pick award. To learn more about vehicles with top safety ratings and better insurance rates for safer vehicles, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

New Estate Tax Rules in Effect for 2014

 

At the beginning of January 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act was signed. The new law outlined changes regarding gift taxes, federal estate taxes and generation-skipping transfer taxes. However, there was one highlighted exception.

Some of the changes include less favorable tax rates, but the gift tax, estate tax and generation-skipping transfer exemptions are more favorable. The federal estate tax exemption increased to $5.12 million in 2012 due to being indexed for inflation. For 2014, the federal estate tax exemption increased to $5.34 million. Estate tax rates for those valued higher than this increased from 35 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2013. The lifetime gift tax was the same as the estate tax exemption and increased equally. For 2014, $14,000 is the annual exclusion from gift taxes.

The portability of federal estate tax exemptions for married couples was made permanent for 2014. During and prior to 2009, they had to pass as much as two times the federal exemption using AB trusts. The need for trust planning was eliminated in 2010 when portability was added. Since this provision is now permanent, couples can pass as much as $10.68 million to heirs without federal tax penalties and without planning. However, even if the deceased’s estate is not taxable, the surviving spouse will have to file a Form 706 from the Internal Revenue Service to take advantage of this. If this form is not filed, the unused estate tax exemption is lost.

In 2005, the pick up tax was removed by federal law, and it was not reinstated during the recent changes. This tax was a state estate tax, which was equal to a portion of the federal tax bill. State taxing authorities were responsible for collecting it. If state laws returned to the way they were in 2001, the pick up tax would have resurfaced in 2013, and that would have meant that several states would again collect state estate taxes. However, states without freestanding estate taxes remain dormant in this area, and the pick up tax is not expected to reappear in the near future.

For state estate taxes in some places, special planning is required. Hawaii is the only state that made the state estate tax exemption portable for married couples. With states where there is a difference between federal and state tax exemptions, couples must include special planning to use both exemptions. For generation-skipping trusts, special planning is required. As stated before, the estate tax exemption was made portable for couples. It is important to remember that generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions have not been made portable. If couples want to take advantage of both spouses’ transfer tax exemptions, special planning is required. To learn more about exemptions and the new law changes, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Old Plumbing? Make Sure Your Insurance Will Let You Replace to Code

 

This winter, too many building owners will get caught by surprise: They’ll have pipes burst in the cold, doing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. They’ll get estimates to repair. They’ll file a claim with their property insurance company – only to find out that their policy will only cover a fraction of their costs.

The problem: Insufficient coverage for building code upgrades.

Here’s what happens: Building codes evolve, but buildings don’t. If you are the owner of an older building or even an historic building, chances are the previous owner has not been tearing the building apart and replacing plumbing every time municipal or state authorities pass an adjustment to the building codes governing plumbing, sewage or septic systems.

But most local ordinances are clear: Owners of damaged buildings must make all repairs in accordance with the new codes,  not the codes that were in force at the time the property was damaged.

The problem: Not every insurance policy provides this specific coverage. Indeed, for a brand new building, there’s little need for it. But the exposure becomes greater the more years that go by and the more local authorities revise building codes.

Here are some examples of the kinds of issues that can befall a property owner, just with plumbing-related issues alone:

Regulations require specific plumbing materials, forcing you to replace all the plumbing in the building with copper, for example, rather than galvanized steel. Even if you only have to replace a portion of your plumbing, copper and galvanized systems don’t necessarily mix without a plumber taking specific measures to prevent the two metals from coming into direct contact.

You must renovate your property to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or some similar intervening law, which may require changes to bathing and toileting facilities that in turn require remodeling.

In one case, for example, a fire destroyed the gymnasium area of a school. The school system rebuilt the gymnasium with a larger girls’ locker room area, which the school board understood was required under Title IX, which forces schools to bring boys’ and girls’ athletic programs into parity. The insurance company refused to pay the extra costs of building the larger girls’ locker room. A court sided with the insurance company.

In some areas, like Dade County, Florida, if a home is more than 50 percent destroyed by wind, for example, you must tear down the entire home and start from scratch, raising the new structure above flood level. Not every insurance policy is designed to cover a teardown and complete rebuild. This was a frequently-encountered issue among the waterfront communities affected by last year’s Hurricane Sandy.

Check Your Policy

Some policies do provide basic protection against the additional costs of bringing a damaged building up to code. Many insurance forms today specifically exclude or limit coverage – at least on the base policy – for costs associated with replacing or repairing a damaged structure up to new building codes beyond those that existed when the policy was issued. To be protected against the risk of having to spend additional money, over and above like-kind replacement – to bring a property up to code, you must obtain an additional policy or rider, generally called “law and ordinance insurance,” “building ordinance coverage” or variations on that theme.

Commercial policies provide less coverage, typically, than residential policies, though it’s generally a simple matter to add this coverage by endorsement. The insurer simply adds a rider.

Courts have been more willing to side with homeowners than commercial insurance policyholders in code-related disputes, and many home insurance policies provide some rudimentary protection against code-compliance related costs. However, many people would do well to purchase additional coverage to protect themselves from disaster rather than deal with coverage issues after a claim occurs.

Whether it’s coverage for your home or a commercial building, these issues should be addressed with your agent, especially if the property is an older building.  If you have any questions or would like to review your coverage, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website. 

When To Replace Your Plumbing

 

Good plumbing lasts a long time. Brass and galvanized steel supply pipes can last for generations – even up to a century in ideal conditions. But ‘a long time’ isn’t forever. Sooner or later, even the best plumbing will need to be replaced. And if previous residents or owners haven’t been diligent in monitoring their pipes and fittings for problems, it could be sooner.

The Worst Case: Lead Pipes

Lead pipes – once common – have been banned in most new construction since the 1960s. If your home is older than that, though, and the plumbing has not been replaced, you may want to check to see what your pipes are made of. If you’re not sure, consult a plumber.

Lead fittings

While lead pipes have not been in common household use for a couple of generations, the use of lead soldering, joints, flux and other components is much more recent. 

Signs of Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, difficulty concentrating, appetite loss and weight loss. Long-term effects of lead poisoning can include kidney problems, developmental delays, attention deficit disorder, behavioral problems and high blood pressure. Lead poisoning can be particularly damaging for children.

Galvanized Steel

Galvanized pipes were a popular solution up until the 1960s. Most of these installations will have to be replaced very soon. This is because galvanized pipes are prone to mineral and residue buildup inside the pipes. The hot water lines typically fail first. The problem can be especially bad in areas where the water has a high mineral content, or so-called “hard water” areas.

Other Older Pipes

All pipes are subject to problems and wear and tear. Joints can begin to leak, caulking and soldering can become compromised because of temperature changes or physical stress. Seismic events and simple house settling can strain connections over time. No material is immune to these events.

Go over all the accessible pipes in your home at least once per year. Look for excess corrosion or oxidation around joints, and evidence of leakage, including moisture, wet rot or mold damage around pipes and fittings. Chances are if you can spot one leak in a visible, accessible location, there are other issues developing in less visible areas.

Also, look at your water – especially after spending time away from the house. Is your water yellow or brown when you turn the tap back on? This is a sign that your pipes are getting rusty. It’s time to replace them.

Caution

Many plumbers will recommend copper pipes because of their durability and resistance to corrosion. However, be careful about connecting copper pipes directly to galvanized pipes. When two different metals come in direct contact, there is frequently excess corrosion as the metals react. To mitigate the problem, use dielectric coupling.

Piggyback on Renovation Plans

Are you planning on renovating soon? Don’t pass up the chance to knock out the replacement of part of your plumbing system. This will save you the costs of having to knock out and replace the wall or flooring covering the pipes, later. This can ultimately save thousands of dollars off your overall maintenance costs for the home.

Consider Newer Materials

In the old days, homeowners had to choose from among galvanized steel, bronze or copper pipes. That was it, and they were all expensive. PVC plumbing offered a good low-cost short-term solution in some instances, although the expected useful life of PVC turned out to be only a fraction of that of the metal pipes, so it’s debatable whether they saved any money at all for long-term homeowners.

A new material, called PEX, however, is a flexible tube designed to move water throughout the house. Because it’s flexible, it can be fed through the interior passages in walls without necessarily having to tear out the entire barrier – providing an extra layer of savings. The jury is still out on how long PEX pipes will last.

Insurance Considerations

Generally, insurance will provide you protection against damages resulting from a sudden and unforeseeable pipe failure. Your policy will probably not protect you if you have not shown due care in monitoring and maintaining your plumbing system. Insurance protects against disaster, not normal wear and tear.

For example, your insurance may cover a burst pipe as a result of an ice storm. It won’t however, cover wet rot damage from a gradual leak that accumulates over years that you should have detected and addressed. Many insurance companies are specifically excluding or restricting mold damage as a result of chronic pipe leakage or uncorrected problems.

While a sudden burst of water from a plumbing system in many cases will cover damage to the structure, it probably won’t cover the replacement of the damaged pipe. Having your pipes inspected is ultimately the way to go as well as making necessary upgrades. Doing so will help prevent water damage risks, including potentially uncovered claims.  In addition, you may also qualify for more favorable terms on your home insurance.

To review your coverage or if you have any questions, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Is It Time to Replace Your Wiring?

If your house is more than about 35 or 40 years old, chances are good that your wiring and electrical systems are not compliant with current building codes. Even where codes have not been substantially revised since construction, problems develop with things like metal corrosion and gradual deterioration of wire insulation. These can combine to cause a variety of electrical problems – some of them potentially lethal.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, faulty wiring is the number one cause of residential fires.

How Do You Know You Need to Replace Wiring?

Look for these common warning signs:

  • Are your wires made of aluminum or copper? If your wires are aluminum, you’ll probably want to replace them as soon as you can. Because of metallurgical issues including brittleness, the tendency to expand when heated and increased vulnerability to oxidation, aluminum  wiring is more than 55 times more likely than copper wiring to develop a fire hazard, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most homeowners insurance carriers will not even write a new policy on a home with aluminum wiring. In some cases, aluminum wiring can even void an existing insurance policy.
  • Do your breakers trip regularly?
  • Do you often have blown fuses?
  • Is there a burning smell when you turn on specific appliances or in a particular room?
  • Do your lights or other appliances dim or flicker for no apparent reason?
  • Are one or more outlets warm to the touch?
  • Is the plastic on one or more outlets becoming discolored?
  • Do your sockets only have two prongs?
  • Do you see “arcing,” or flying sparks?
  • Do your fingers tingle when you touch a switch or appliance?
  • Does your home lack ground fault circuit interrupters – especially in kitchens and bathrooms? These are important safety features in areas that are frequently exposed to water or dampness. These became standard in new homes built around 1990.

Additionally, some homeowners or their contractors make mistakes with upgrades and renovations – introducing hazards where they don’t exist. For example:

 

  • Outdoor wiring is not buried deep enough, or is of the wrong type, or is not protected adequately and gets damaged.
  • Failing to encase wire splices. Do-it-yourselfers are famous for this one.
  • Using bulbs with excessive wattage ratings. If the bulb burns hotter than anything a given fixture was designed to hold, wiring will eventually fail.

 

Have your home inspected

It’s usually a good idea to have a licensed electrician come to your house for an inspection every four or five years or so. You may also want to do so if you plan on adding or replacing an appliance. A large appliance can be a major draw on power supplies, and if you’re not careful, strain your home’s electrical system to the breaking point.

Can’t do everything at once?

Replacing all the wiring in a home is sometimes a necessary expense. In some cases, though, working with a licensed electrician, you may be able to mitigate the hazard by installing special connectors at specific stress points in your home’s wiring, such as electrical fixtures, where the danger is greatest. Two products currently available on the market for this purpose are AlumiConn and COPALUM. Not all insurance carriers approve these methods, so check with your carrier before proceeding.

A number of insurance companies have all indicated that they will not underwrite policies for homes with aluminum wiring, even with mitigation. A number of other companies have been willing to write policies on homes that have had an electrician do aluminum wiring mitigation. If you have any questions or uncertainty, however, contact ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website. It’s better to get answers now than to have a claim denied later because of issues with aluminum or other substandard wiring.

Most Households Lack Adequate Life Insurance

 

Researchers recently found that more than 20 percent of 24 million households in the United States did not have life insurance. Of the households that did have coverage, only about 50 percent had life insurance for all of the people living there. Experts said that more than 30 percent of adults do not have life insurance, and this is a statistic that has remained the same for the past two decades. Researchers also said that more than 50 percent of Generation X and Generation Y households said they needed more coverage. They said that 70 percent of women stated life insurance was a necessity, but only about 60 percent of men agreed with that. Of the married women observed, only about 30 percent owned life insurance even though 70 percent of households had two incomes. Researchers also said that about 30 percent of women earned more than their husbands.

These statistics may seem surprising, but what researchers found even more surprising were the comparative statistics they gathered regarding peoples’ feelings about life insurance. About 75 percent responded that they felt life insurance was important and was the best way to protect against the loss of income of a primary wage earner. In addition to this, life insurance ranked higher than any other income or asset Americans expected they would use to pay bills and manage other living expenses if a main wage earner died. Many Americans still believe that a surviving spouse will cover the expenses if the other dies, but they often do not realize just how financially devastating the loss of one income can be. The comparative statistics prompted researchers to find out why people were not buying life insurance if they knew it was important.

The most common reasons cited for not purchasing this coverage were that it was not affordable or there were competing financial priorities. However, researchers also found that people had misconceptions about the cost of life insurance and often overestimate the cost of it threefold. About 60 percent of the people surveyed said they had not been approached about buying life insurance within the past couple years. More than 30 percent of shoppers who met with sales representatives but decided not to buy coverage said their sales rep did not follow up. Another 10 percent said they were unsure what type to buy, and yet another 10 percent said they were afraid they would pick the wrong type. Les than 10 percent said they did not know enough about coverage to purchase it.

Researchers also looked at what prompts people to buy life insurance. About 40 percent of respondents said major life changes such as getting married, buying a home or having children prompted them to start shopping. Another 25 percent said they thought about coverage because of financial advisers. Twenty-five percent also said they purchased coverage because they wanted to review theirs and decided they needed more. Slightly more than 10 percent said friends or family members recommended them to an adviser or life insurance sales representative.

Many Americans today believe that life insurance benefits may not be as useful as stocks and other investments. However, in an ever-changing market, life insurance is still a good way to have the assurance of guaranteed benefits despite what is happening in the world. In addition to this, investments are normally taxed after a person dies, but life insurance avoids that tax. With solid financial planning, this money can also be kept out of estate proceedings.

One final point researchers made was that sales representatives needed to work harder to ensure more people are offered coverage and that follow-ups are made after initial contact. Researchers said that nearly 80 percent of people with existing relationships with sales reps bought life coverage, which was higher than the percentage of buyers with no existing relationships. They also said giving customers a needs-based analysis will help them make the best decision and understand how coverage works. Nearly 75 percent who received this type of analysis from an agent or rep bought coverage. To learn more about this topic, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

What Every Driver Should Know about Red Light Traffic Cameras

 

Red light cameras are for traffic law enforcement, and they are able to take photos of vehicles illegally passing through intersections when the light is red. By doing this, these cameras provide evidence for law enforcement officials. Cameras are synced with the light’s changing patterns to ensure they will only go off when there are red lights. The camera is able to take a photo of the license plate, which is scanned for an address. Law enforcement then mails a ticket to the offender. These cameras are now being used in many countries throughout the world.

While authorities remain firm in their stance that these cameras contribute to public safety, many drivers say they only scare them into making sudden stops that could cause rear-end collisions during a yellow light. They also say they believe the cameras are more for financial gain by law enforcement than for public safety. It seems they are somewhat correct about rear-end crashes. Researchers say that rear-end crashes are more common in intersections with red light cameras, but they also tend to have fewer right-angle crashes. The overall rate is mixed enough they cannot provide a definitive average by lumping the two together.

History
Red light cameras originated in the Netherlands but have been used since the 1960s worldwide and since the 1980s in the United States. Older types of red light cameras used film for their photos, which was sent to law enforcement officials to view. Digital systems started appearing in the 2000s and have gained popularity since then.

How Red Light Cameras Work
These devices are usually installed inside metal boxes, which are affixed to intersection poles in locations prone to accidents. In addition to the camera boxes, there are usually inductive loops set below the pavement to measure the vehicle’s speed as it travels through the intersection. This helps determine whether the vehicle would have been able to stop before going through the intersection. Two photos are taken for each incident for this purpose.

Some of the details the camera records are the location of the incident, the time, the date and the speed of the vehicle. In some cases, the entire incident may be captured in a video clip instead of a series of photos. However, the incident must include a photo of the vehicle entering the intersection and passing through it. Whether the images come from film or a digital device, they are sent to local law enforcement. An officer or clerk will review the data and images to determine whether a citation should be mailed. Vehicle owners can still challenge the citations if they feel the information is incorrect.

Researchers say that nearly 40 percent of violations happen within one-fourth of a second of the light turning red. About 80 percent of incident happen within one second of the light changing to red. There are grace periods permitted by some red light camera systems, which allow up to one-half of a second if drivers go through the intersection at the same time the light is changing to red.

Some states have their own laws regarding the timing of red light cameras, which vary from the averages. However, some states have laws against the use of traffic camera enforcement. People who are curious about the laws in their own states should discuss any concerns with an agent. Laws can change from one year to the next, so it is important to stay current on this issue and to know what to expect.

If you have any questions please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Workers’ Comp: Understanding How Experience Rating Works

Many people wonder why it is necessary to use experience rating to predict future losses if workers’ compensation rates are designed for this purpose. Experience rating can benefit employers. The prospects of both bad credits and debits are implicit in the majority of risk-specific programs dealing with experience rating. Since it gives an employer some influence in how much the final premium will be, this gives an incentive for them to develop their loss prevention strategies. It is also good for them to form incentives that encourage injured employees to return to work as soon as they are able. When this happens, experience rating can be beneficial to employers by increasing occupational safety and health.

Experience rating shows a refinement in processes of premium determination. It creates a net premium cost for employers, which means their costs will be appropriate for the provided coverage. Experience rating shares or spreads the cost of a loss with all group members who are likely to go through similar losses. Although the probability and cost of injuries for an entire group as a whole may not be accurately predictable, it is not possible to decide which member of the group will ultimately be responsible for costs.

This is why there is insurance. If it were possible or easy to predict, group members who do not experience loss would not have any incentive to purchase coverage. Meanwhile, the premium charge for members experiencing losses would need to include the loss costs. Serious injuries to individuals are usually rare, but the totals can be minor amounts or reach well into the millions. For workers’ compensation, the easiest rating method is manual rating. With this system, employers are categorized according to business classifications or operations. Group losses are estimated and then added as an average.

Employers are assigned to specific classifications to make sure the rates they receive are reflective of the costs all similar employers have. While each classification comes with similar risks, individual ones are different in some ways. However, experience rating is designed to reflect individual differences. Insurance providers would be able to look for employers with lower costs and avoid ones with higher costs if the rating system were only manual. The system needs to be refined to avoid such a scenario, and experience rating falls under that category.

With workers’ compensation experience rating, individual employers’ loss and payroll data are analyzed over time. The most recent three years of data is reviewed against similar groups’ risks to determine the experience modification. An employer that has better experience ratings will be given credits, but those with less will be given debit ratings.

ACBI has a unique tool to help you analyze your workers’ compensation experience and costs.  Call us today at 203-259-7580 or visit our website to learn more.

Don’t Wait For a Leak To Replace Your Roof

It’s one of the biggest and most costly mistakes homeowners make: They pay no mind to an aging roof until they see a leak from the inside. The problem: By the time water damage becomes visible from inside the home, there may already be extensive rot and mildew between the ceiling and roof.

All of a sudden, instead of just replacing shingles or laying down some new pitch and gravel on a rooftop, your contractor may be cutting into drywall or replacing sections of ceiling and roof. In some cases, you may have to go through a costly mold eradication project.

Reminder: Unless the damage can be traced to a specific wind or weather event, chances are it won’t pay for damages caused by a leaking roof. Insurance is there in case an act of God or vandalism forces you to replace your roof prematurely. Insuring you replace your roof before natural and expected wear and tear causes a problem is your responsibility.

To avoid these needless expenses, replace your roof before it leaks.

How do you know when it’s time? Look for these signs.

 

  • Do you smell mold in your attic? Are there dark or discolored spots in the wood or drywall in your attic space? Is insulation discolored or wet? Get up there with some good lighting on a regular basis and inspect it. You want to catch any damage here, before it spreads to your living area.

 

  • Is there a lot of moss growing on your roof? Moss can add weight to roofs, store moisture causing wet rot and mold damage, and compromise the structural integrity of your roofing materials.

 

  • Are asphalt shingles losing granularity? The granules on asphalt shingles are vital barriers to sunlight, which can cause your tile to shrink and expand with the temperature. When there are granules missing, the tile itself is exposed to the elements. This can cause cracking and leaks.

 

  • Are shingles curling or cracking? It’s time to replace them. The barrier to water is now compromised.

 

  • Check flashings and caulking around joints, angles, sunroofs, etc. Are the flashings in good shape? Is the caulking still intact or is it cracking or becoming separated? Repair these vulnerable areas right away, before the next rain pushes water into the gaps.

 

  • Check the area immediately around chimneys. This is a notoriously vulnerable point for roofs, because roofing materials expand and contract more than the chimney itself – creating gaps.

 

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost

Also, keep in mind that even in the event of a windstorm or other insurable event, your home insurance policy may not cover the entire cost of replacing a roof that gets damaged. This is because many insurance policies don’t  cover roof replacement costs, but rather something called the actual cash value of the roof.

This means they deduct a small amount from the allowable compensation each year as the roof gets older. The older the roof, the lower the actual cash value. In theory, you would be saving money to replace the roof anyway. Actual cash value only pays the depreciated value of the roof (after the deductible.) As the roof approaches its scheduled replacement date, the depreciated value of the roof approaches zero.

In addition, a roof that has been damaged due to wear and tear, which can no longer protect the home from water seeping in may result in a claim that is not covered. The reason for this is, damage needs to be sudden and accidental. Also policies were never intended to cover claims that can be prevented, including poor maintenance of a home. If they provide coverage for these types of claims, it would result in higher homeowners insurance rates to make up for the irresponsible homeowners.

If you would like to review your Homeowners insurance or have any questions about your coverage, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.