Did I Notify My Insurer?

An insurance policy is a promise to protect you against certain types of loss, but it can’t follow-through unless it knows about a loss. Prompt notification is so important that it is a formal policy requirement. A policyholder that fails to meet this obligation could result in a claim being denied.

A policy typically requires you to do the following:

Contact the agent or insurer as quickly as practical – the practical requirement replaced the previous use of “possible,” since some companies unreasonably denied coverage because notification was not instantaneous. The difference between words is important. It allows some flexibility for dealing with circumstances that could affect how quickly you contact your agent or insurer about a loss.

Identify yourself – Perhaps one day your insurer will be able to recognize your voice over the phone and immediately pull up your file. Until then, be prepared to at least tell your insurer your full name (or, if different, the name the insurance policy is under) and the policy number.

Give adequate details – What, When, Where, Why and How. It is important that the insurer has enough information to take proper action. This information allows an insurer to open a claim file, assign the loss to a claims person and begin investigation of your loss.

Provide copies of loss-related materials to the insurer – You should not guess about whether a legal notice or request to be paid for damages is important, even when an actual lawsuit has yet to be filed. Send a copy of the information to your insurer and let them decide.

Prompt notification helps everyone

Complete and quick communication about losses gives you the best chance to get needed coverage and gives your insurer an opportunity to handle a possible claim efficiently. It also allows the insurer to control issues that could let lawsuits gets out of control, such as the ability to offer payment for medical expenses or to contact and question witnesses.

Don’t hesitate! Contact your agent or insurer and get your loss handled.

Do you owe the fee for not having health coverage in 2014? You may still be able to enroll in 2015 coverage if:

  • You didn’t know until after Open Enrollment ended on February 15, 2015 that the health care law required you and your household to have health coverage, or you didn’t understand how the requirement would impact you and your household
  • You owe the fee for not having coverage in 2014
  • You aren’t already enrolled in 2015 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace

If all of these apply to you, you can enroll in a 2015 plan between March 15 and April 30, 2015. Contact us at 309.833.1755 or through the contact us link on our website to find out more.

Information taken from the Healthcare.gov website.

My ATV is already insured on my homeowners policy…right?

We often hear individual say they don’t need an ATV policy because their homeowners already covers it.  As a blanket statement, this is a dangerous belief.  This is only true when it is used for the sole purpose of maintaining the residence.  This means that if you normally use the ATV to plow snow in your drive but one day pull your children around on a sled, you have unintentionally voided coverage.  Along the same lines, anytime the ATV is used off the residence premises, coverage does not go with you.

Since it is rare if ever that ATV’s are used for the sole purpose of maintaining the residence, the solution is to maintain a policy specific to ATV’s.  The coverage is not expensive and removes all doubt at the time of a claim.

We invite you to contact us with any questions 309.833.1755.

Independent Contractor or Employee?

Most workers compensation acts set the following criteria for compensability:

  • Employment relationship
  • The injury must be accidental
  • The injury must occur in the course of the employment
  • The injury must arise out of the employment

If you are injured on the job and want to know more about what you can do contact the South Carolina personal injury lawyers to help you. Determining employer-employee relationship is not as straightforward as you think. The two most common misconceptions regarding independent contractor status include worker not included in employer’s payroll and the existence of a written agreement between the parties stating the worker is an independent contractor. Neither of which insulate the employer from his responsibility to provide workers compensation coverage.

Once the worker has proven that at the time of the injury the worker was providing work or services for the employer, the burden shifts to the employer to prove that the worker was an independent contractor and not an employee. Courts will generally find in favor of the worker, barring any statutory exclusion.

The primary test in most jurisdictions is whether the employer has the right to control the details of the employee’s work. Secondary criteria includes whether there is evidence that the employer exercises that right, how the compensation is paid, whether the employer furnishes equipment or tools for performance of the work, and whether the employer has the right to terminate the employment relationship.

While the following is not all inclusive, it contains the highlights from the statutory criteria for determining independent contractor status:

Illinois

No rigid rule of law exists regarding whether a worker is an employee or an

independent contractor in Illinois. Rather, courts have articulated a number of factors to consider in making this determination. The single most important factor is whether the purported employer has a right to control the actions of the employee. Also of great significance is the nature of the work performed by the alleged employee in relation to the general business of the employer. Additional factors to consider are the method of payment, the right to discharge, the skill the work requires, which party provides the needed instrumentalities, and whether income tax has been withheld. Finally, a factor of lesser weight is the label the parties place upon their relationship.  The term employee should be construed broadly for purposes of the Illinois workers compensation Act.

Wisconsin

Following the amendments made to the law in 1990, all nine of the following criteria must be met for an individual to be considered an independent contractor (IC): 1) Maintains a separate business with own office, equipment, materials and other facilities. 2) Holds or has applied for a federal employer identification number with the IRS. 3) Operates under contracts to perform specific services or work for specific amounts of money and under which the IC controls the means of performing the services or work. 4) Incurs the main expenses related to the service or work performed under contract.  5) Is responsible for satisfactory completion of work or services contracted to perform and is liable for failure to complete the work or service.  6) Receives compensation for work or service performed under a contract on a commission or per job or competitive bid basis and not on any other basis. 7) May realize a profit or suffer a loss under contracts to perform work or service. 8) Has a continuing or recurring business liability or obligations. 9) The success or failure of the IC’s business depends on the relationship of business receipts to expenditures.

Iowa

In the employment relationship determination, the two most important indicators are the degree of control and the degree of independence. The evidence of the degree of control falls into three categories: 1) Behavioral control – Employer’s right to direct and control the work.2) Financial control – The extent to which the employee can realize a profit or gain, assumes responsibility for expenses. 3) Relationship of the parties regarding any benefits provided such as pension, sick pay, insurance, etc.

 Indiana

The state of Indiana has always considered ten factors when determining independent contractor status: 1) the extent of control by agreement exercised over the details of the work.2) Whether or not the one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business.3) the occupation, the work is usually done under the direction of the employer without supervision. 4) Skill required 5) whether the employer supplied tools and the place of work for the person performing the work 6) Length of time employed 7) Method of payment by the time or by the job. 8) Is the work part of the regular business of the employer. 9) Relationship of master and servant. 10) Whether the principal is or is not in business. Indiana is now considering using the IRS regulations to determine IC status:

All evidence of the degree of control and independence in this relationship should be considered. The facts that provide this evidence fall into three categories – Behavioral Control, Financial Control, and the Relationship of the Parties, similar to Iowa above.

 Minnesota

Individuals who are independent contractors are excluded from coverage under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. In Minnesota, whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor is determined by applying Minn. Rules 5224.0010 through 5224.0340.  Whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor primarily depends on control over the work or services to be performed. The greater the control the employer has over the worker, the more likely Minnesota courts will deem that individual an employee.  This applies even if there is an agreement between the parties classifying the person of the independent contractor-the courts look at the party’s actions, not the written document, to determine independent contractor status.

Provided by: Lori Gibowski, Work Comp Claims Supervisor at West Bend Mutual Insurance

National Blood Donor Month

While advances in medicine have lessened the demand for blood transfusions, the need for blood donors remains great. According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. That comes to a total of 41,000 blood donations needed every day. January has been named National Blood Donor Month in an effort to offset a seasonal period when blood donations drop significantly.

If you’ve never donated blood before, it is a simple, four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments. The actual blood donation is a safe process that typically takes 10 to 12 minutes. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and is then discarded. The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his or her body. Approximately 1 pint is given during a donation.

In  the Macomb area, contact the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center at (309) 836-2329, or the American Red Cross at (309) 837-1594.

Happy Holidays

The owners and staff of Purdum Gray Ingledue Beck wish you the happiest of holidays.  To allow our employees time with family, our hours will be as follows.

Closed December 24th, 25th and 26th reopening on Monday December 29th.

Closed at noon on December 31st, all day on January 1st and at noon on January 2nd. Regular business hours resume on Monday January 5th.

Should you have an emergency during this time, please contact Beau Ingledue at 309-333-1292.

Time to get ready…

While the amount of danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, ice, sleet and freezing rain.

A primary concern is that winter storms can knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as “deceptive killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. People die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. Because of this, it is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Know the Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify winter storm hazards:

  • Freezing rain – Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet – Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Winter weather advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.
  • Winter storm watch – A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, commercial radio or local television for more information.
  • Winter storm warning – A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
  • Blizzard warning – Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
  • Frost/freeze warning – Below-freezing temperatures are expected.

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Add these supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
    • Sufficient heating fuel
      • You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm
  • Make a family communications plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supply kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Winterize Your Home

  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Extend your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

During Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. If you or a loved one shows symptoms, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If you or a loved one has symptoms of hypothermia, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads; and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap the pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least 3 feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

Dress for the Weather

  • If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat. A hat will prevent loss of body heat.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

After Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

In addition to insuring your home, Purdum Gray Ingledue Beck, Inc. is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us at 888-833-1755 or www.macombinsurance.com today.

Apple Product Users – Please Read This!

iOS Security Alert: iPhones/iPads at Risk
Internet security firm FireEye has reported a significant new iOS security flaw dubbed “Masque Attack”. The vulnerability allows malicious replacement apps, installed through enterprise/ad-hoc (non App Store) provisioning, to overwrite genuine apps previously installed through Apple’s official App Store. The replacement can occur as long as both malicious and genuine apps use the same bundle identifier. The vulnerability has been verified for both jailbroken and non-jailbroken devices that use iOS 7.1.1, 7.1.2, 8.0, 8.1 and 8.1.1.

All apps are susceptible for such replacement except iOS preinstalled apps, e.g. Mobile Safari. In practice an attacker could lure a victim to install a replacement app with a deceiving name such as “New Angry Bird”, which is actually a malicious replacement for an email or online banking app. Using a well-designed interface to mimic the original app, the replacement app could steal sensitive information including logon credentials.

Further, the replacement apps have been shown to be able to access the original app’s local data – for example cached emails or login-tokens – which the malware can then use to log into the user’s account directly. Such attacks could result in compromising bank, email, or other sensitive accounts and information that users access on their mobile devices, including sensitive corporate emails.

Attackers can trick a user into downloading a Masque Attack app from outside the Apple-approved App Store, usually through a prompt via text message, email, or hyperlink.

Mitigations

iOS users should protect themselves from Masque Attacks by following these steps:

  1. DO NOT install apps from third-party sources other than Apple’s official App Store or the user’s own organization.
  2. DO NOT click “Install” on pop-ups from third-party web pages, regardless of what description the pop-up uses for the app.
  3. When opening an app, if the iOS shows the alert “Untrusted App Developer”, click on “Don’t Trust” and uninstall the app immediately.
  4. If using iOS 7, check the profile section by navigating to Settings – General – Profiles. Any profiles used to install a non-App Store will be shown here and can be deleted. Apple has removed the ability to see these profiles on the devices using iOS 8.
  5. Suspicious applications can be removed by deleting them, and re-installing cleanly from the App Store.
  6. If you suspect that your App was subject to this attack, change all passwords on your business/banking accounts accessed on mobile Apple devices.

This data security alert is part of the NoDataBreach risk management services provided with your Beazley Breach Response (BBR) insurance policy.

Fixed Rate Annuities

Fixed rate annuities make a great alternative to bank CD’s since they currently have a more favorable rate of return.  Fixed rate annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC, however, in Illinois they are guaranteed by the Illinois Guarantee Fund and other states have similar arrangements. The most important factor when considering the fixed rate annuity is that you will leave the money in the account for the full term to avoid surrender penalties.  With that being said, the current rates as of 7/31/2014 are:

36 Month 1.90%

60 Month 3.00%

These rates are locked in for the term of the contract.

Please contact Beau or Brad by phone at 309.833.1755 or by email at info@macombinsurance.com to learn more.

* Single premium deferred annuities. Rate guaranteed for 3 or 5 year contracts; should you choose to continue this annuity after the third or fifth year guaranteed period, the minimum rate is 1%.  IRS penalty for withdrawals before age 59 1/2.  Issued by Liberty Bankers Life Insurance Company, Policy Form.  Interest rate effective 7/31/2014 and subject to change without notice.  $10,000 minimum purchase payment. Monthly interest subject to a minimum amount of $100.  Excess withdrawal are subject to market value adjustment. Information is based on an Illinois contract.

 

PGIB Business Clients, Are You Checking Out Your Exclusive Website?

Clients of our agency have access to an enormous wealth of information surrounding human resource matters, loss control, compliance, wellness programs and much more.  Please email me for an introduction and login credentials at info@macombinsurance.com.

Client Website Intro

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