Dear Valued Customer,
I hope this finds you and yours well, and I hope that you had an opportunity to enjoy some down time with your loved ones this summer. An idea that is becoming cliché is “slowing down to speed up.” I noticed that when I had the discipline to disconnect for a while, like I did on our family vacation this summer, I was ten times more productive when I got back.
In an earlier issue, I shared that our theme for 2018 is car racing – whatever your perspective about that, I think we all agree that there are some obvious similarities between business and car racing: the need to stay focused, reliance on a “crew,” etc. While slowing down to speed up doesn’t fit our car racing theme, we are not tied to literal meanings. When I tell my team to keep their foot on the gas, they know me well enough to realize that taking a time out – or pulling over for a tune up, if you will – is implied. It is also part of our culture at Brown & Brown Northwest. We are a work hard, play hard office.
Especially during the summer, there is a flurry of activity at BBNW and these last few months are no exception. One highlight was our second annual “Cub Lunch,” when teammates brought their kiddos to the office for lunch, crafts and games. Almost without exception, teammates were out every week attending events we sponsored or participating in golf tournaments. Spoiler alert: we won the local Chubb Charity Challenge golf tournament!
That is just a summary. I also must mention that BBNW survived the “mother of all relays” one more time, with employee teams completing our third Hood To Coast and second Portland To Coast relays.
Lastly, over Labor Day weekend, some of our top sales executives, along with their supporting servicing teammates and some of our carrier partners, attended The Portland Grand Prix. It was an appropriate and relevant way for us to wrap up summer and something I will never forget! The transformation of Portland International Raceway alone was impressive, between the energy of the crowd and the action on the track there was no shortage of adrenaline. The level of technological complexity and team synchronicity was awesome.
As we stare down the track at the last few months of the year, I think you will find the content of this newsletter timely, so I hope you will take a few minutes look through it. I encourage you to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your broker and, and not just during summer, to slow down to speed up. Thank you, as always, for entrusting us with your business.
Jessica Getman, President
Brown & Brown Northwest Insurance
State of the Market: Terrorism Coverage
In response to the orchestrated attacks of September 11, 2001, which resulted in $40 billion estimated insured losses, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) was signed into law to provide a government reinsurance backstop in case of large-scale terrorist attacks. The TRIA program was renewed in 2015 as the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA) and requires that business insurers offer terrorism coverage for the types of insurance included in the act.
However, there has been no qualifying event in the U.S. since 9/11 because terrorism is narrowly defined as “any act that is dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure and to have resulted in damage within the U.S. (or outside the U.S. in the case of a U.S.-flagged vessel, aircraft or premises of a U.S. mission). The act must be committed as part of an effort to coerce U.S. civilians or to influence either policy or conduct of the U.S. Government through coercion.”
That’s not to say that the threat of a terrorist attack isn’t present today. A terrorist attack can occur anytime, anywhere with devastating consequences not only on those directly targeted, but also those operating within the surrounding community. The terrorism threat is dynamic and evolving, as seen in the 2015 San Bernardino attack and the Orlando night club shooting in 2016. Recent terrorist attacks in the U.S., Canada, France, Brussels and the UK illustrate the ongoing risk, harm, and frequency of terrorism globally.
Domestic terrorism and so-called ‘lone wolf’ attacks are also on the rise. Recent U.S. events such as the 2017 Las Vegas music festival shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 are unlikely to qualify as an “act of terrorism” under TRIPRA. The marketplace recently responded to the need for a more comprehensive insurance option with standalone terrorism coverage that offers a broader definition of terrorism, defining it as “an act or series of acts, including the use of force or violence, of any person or group(s) of persons, whether acting alone, on behalf of, or in connection with any organization(s), committed for political, religious, or ideological or similar purposes including the intention to influence any government and/or to put the public or any section of the public, in fear.”
Unlike TRIPRA, an attack does not have to be certified by the government as a “act of terrorism” to trigger coverage for first party property damage and business interruption claims and/or for third party liability. It can include “active shooter” sublimited coverage, riots, civil commotion and service interruption with worldwide coverage and no minimum casualty count or loss amount.
While almost any business could benefit from the right terrorism coverage, certain industries such as schools, public entities, healthcare facilities and large office/commercial buildings are especially susceptible to this unique risk. Contact your Brown & Brown Northwest agent for more information.
New Healthcare Purchasing Option on the Horizon for Small Employers
As healthcare premiums continue to climb, many small employers have been stuck between providing benefits that employees demand and managing their benefits budget. Association Health Plans (AHPs) may provide an option.
On June 19, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a final rule that gives small businesses more freedom to join together as a single group to purchase health insurance in the large group market or to self-insure. These benefit arrangements are called Association Health Plans (AHPs).
By forming AHPs, small employers can avoid certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms that apply to the small group market. According to the DOL, this reform provides small employers—many of whom are facing higher premiums and fewer coverage options—with a greater ability to gain the regulatory advantages enjoyed by large employers and increase bargaining power. This will ultimately provide small employers with more affordable health insurance options.
However, in exchange for lower premiums, AHPs may cover fewer benefits since most will not be subject to the ACA’s essential health benefits (EHB) reform. In addition, most AHPs will be exempt from the ACA’s rating restrictions for the small group market, which means that AHPs may base premiums on factors such as age, industry and gender.
AHPs purchasing fully insured medical benefits can begin operating on September 1. Existing self-insured AHPs can begin operating under the new rule on January 1, 2019 and new self-insured AHPs can begin on April 1, 2019.
Brown & Brown Northwest Insurance is actively monitoring the development of AHPs. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Chris Rowell (firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-790-9357).
Office Safety is Everyone’s Job
Do you ever see a utility worker on top of a telephone pole or a construction worker balancing on a steel beam high above you and think that you could never work in such hazardous conditions? While those workers do have more dangerous jobs than an office worker, they may actually be safer. This is because they are trained to be aware of the hazards that come with the job and follow safety procedures. Safety awareness is the best defense against accidents and injuries.
On the other hand, many office workers do not see why they should be concerned with safety. It is true that office hazards seem less severe than those in a manufacturing plant or on a construction site, but an injury can be just as painful and create just as much of a financial setback for the injured worker. Most disabling injuries in the office are related to slip and fall accidents, but there are several ways injuries can occur:
• Walking on slippery floors or uneven surfaces, especially when wearing high heels.
• Going up or down stairs without using the handrail.
• Using chairs with casters that may roll away when you try to sit on them, lean back too far, or lean forward to pick up something off the floor.
• Poor housekeeping including floors littered with tangled cords, discarded papers, spilled liquids, and other small items. Always keep the area around you free from debris or other items that do not belong on the floor and clean up any spills or messes as soon as you discover them.
• Office machines also cause their share of accidents. Electric machines should always be unplugged when being cleaned and they should not be used if any sparking or smoking occurs.
• Lifting and carrying supplies to and from the storeroom can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Be sure that the pile is light enough to handle easily and low enough to see over. When lifting a heavy box, bend your knees and lift with your legs. Always ask a co-worker for help if something is too heavy to handle alone.
• Desks and file cabinets present special hazards. Drawers should have safety stops to prevent the contents and drawer from tumbling onto the user and drawers should be closed when not in use. It is easy to trip over or bump into an open drawer or cabinet.
All employees should be empowered to look around the office, identify and address possible safety hazards. Serious hazards that need attention should be reported to the supervisor immediately. By developing a safety conscious culture, appropriate actions can be taken to avoid or minimize hazards and prevent employee injuries.
Media coverage of workplace violence tends to misrepresent the scale and nature of the problem by only publicizing shocking yet isolated incidents. Most workplace violence is not newsworthy but can be equally worrisome. Incidents often include physical violence, harassment, intimidation and other threatening behavior. Failing to adequately prevent and cope with violent incidents in the workplace can lead to increased workers’ compensation costs, absenteeism, property damage and negative publicity. Recognizing the risk of workplace violence and taking preventative action is essential. “Workplace violence” can be defined as violent acts directed towards a person at work or on duty. These acts are classified into four types of situations:
1. Criminal: The perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employees and generally commits a crime in conjunction with violence (shoplifting, robbery, trespassing).
2. Customer: The perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business and becomes violent while being served by the business (clients, customers, students, patrons).
3. Co-worker: The perpetrator is a current or past employee, or a contractor who works as a temporary employee of the business.
4. Domestic: The perpetrator has no legitimate relationship with the business but has a personal relationship with the victim and threatens or assaults them at their workplace (family member, boyfriend or girlfriend).
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 70% of U.S. workplaces do not have a formal policy or program to address workplace violence prevention. There are various measures that can be taken to minimize the risk of violence.
• Protect your employees using cash-handling policies such as locked drop safes, small amounts of cash to carry, and notices to visitors or clients that limited cash is available.
• Explore the use of cashless transactions.
• Install bullet-resistant barriers or enclosures with appropriately high and deep counters where interaction with the public is necessary.
• Ensure good lighting, both internally and externally.
• Limit the number of unlocked entrances.
• Design buildings and parking areas so that they do not have hiding places.
• Place garbage areas, outdoor refrigeration areas, and storage facilities in a way that does not expose employees by forcing them to walk distances alone and/or in poorly lit areas.
• Make use of security devices such as closed-circuit cameras, alarms, card-key access systems, panic-bar doors locked from the outside and GPS-enabled devices in mobile workplaces.
• When possible, increase the number of staff on duty at opening and closing hours.
• Review work practices and staffing during money drops and pickups.
• Evaluate the risk of assault when directing workers to take out garbage, dispose of grease, store items in external areas, and transport money.
• Institute policies and procedures that indicate a zero tolerance of workplace violence and provide direction for reporting and handling incidents.
• Provide training in defusing or de-escalating potentially violent situations and inform employees of the risk of workplace violence.
• Establish procedures for obtaining medical care and psychological support after a violent incident.
• Establish a crisis response plan that describes procedures to follow in the event of an emergency.
• Establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with trained counselors who can address issues related to workplace stress and violence. As a confidential service to employees, the EAP provider will assess whether management should be notified and can assist in resolving employee conflicts.
Identifying Potentially Violent Situations
There are often several red flags that can be detected before an employee commits an act of violence. Be alert and train employees to watch for the indicators of potential violent behavior. Be sure to stress the importance of reporting any of the following suspicious behaviors:
• Intimidating, harassing, bullying, belligerence and other inappropriate or aggressive behavior;
• Conflicts with customers, co-workers or supervisors;
• Making references to weapons or idle threats;
• Statements indicating approval of violence or identification with perpetrators of workplace homicides;
• Desperate or suicidal statements;
• Substance abuse; and
• Extreme changes in normal behavior.
Train supervisors not to overreact but to address the situation promptly by discussing with staff experts or human resources to determine how best to handle the situation.
Responding to Violence
It is essential that when a violent incident does occur, the response be timely and appropriate. After the incident, recognize that employees could be traumatized and provide appropriate counseling.
No amount of preventive action can guarantee there will never be an incident of violence at your workplace. However, it is necessary to train employees to respond to and report incidents of workplace violence. Training should increase awareness of workplace violence risks, emphasize the importance of adhering to protective administrative controls, and encourage employees to immediately report any suspicious or threatening behavior. Training is only one component of a successful comprehensive workplace violence prevention program. Continual monitoring and preventive adjustments by management are equally important.
Tips for Winterizing Your Home
As cold weather approaches, it is important to winterize your home to help ward against personal injury and financial disaster. Fall is a great time of year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter. As temperatures begin to dip, your home will require maintenance to keep it in good shape throughout the season. Here are some ways to prepare your home for winter:
Furnace Inspection: Your first order of business is to call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean the ducts. It is also a good idea to stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable one.
Get the Fireplace Ready: If your chimney has not been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and other undesirable accumulations, like creosote. It is best to cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. Buy firewood or chop your own – whatever choice you make, store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
Check the Exterior, Doors, and Windows: This is critical for your health and safety. Inspect the exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes and seal them. Use weather-stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows. Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you replace an entire window, be sure to prime and paint any exposed wood. If your home has a basement, consider protecting the window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
Inspect Roof, Gutters and Downspouts: If the temperature in your area will fall below 32 degrees, adding extra insulation to the attic prevents warm air from creeping up to your roof and causing ice dams. Check roof flashing to ensure water cannot enter your home. Consider replacing worn roof shingles or tiles. Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris. You may also want to install leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.
Check Foundations: Rake away all debris and vegetation from the foundation. Seal up entry points or cracks to keep small animals from crawling under and into the house. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime. Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. Secure crawlspace entrances.
Prevent Plumbing Freezes: Locate the water main, in case you need to shut it off in an emergency. Drain all garden hoses. Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off. If you go on vacation, leave the heat on and set to at least 55 degrees.
Prepare Landscaping and Outdoor Surfaces: A winter storm can ravage the outdoors to such an extent that you can experience devastating effects in your surrounding area. Trim tree branches that hang too close to the house or electrical wires. Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury. Seal driveways, brick patios, and wood decks.
Prepare an Emergency Kit: Often overlooked, it is smart to prepare an evacuation plan and kit in the event of an emergency. Ensure candles and matches or a lighter are easy to find during a power outage. Save phone numbers for utility companies in your cell phone. Consider installing a battery back-up to prevent power surges and keep computers and sensitive electronics working during power outages. Store extra bottled water, non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if needed), blankets, and a first-aid kit in a dry and easily accessible location.
In the Community: Chubb Charity Challenge and Packs of Joy
Chubb Charity Challenge Golf Tournament: BBNW is proud of teammates Nate Spere, Conner Wright and Collin Landry for winning the local Chubb Charity Challenge – by one stroke! Chubb’s Portland branch hosted the tournament where six teams played for local charities. In October, BBNW’s team will play in the national finals for a chance to win $50,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area.
Packs of Joy: BBNW teammates partnered with Cigna, Adidas and Hull & Co. to donate 20 fully loaded backpacks to the Children’s Cancer Association for their Packs of Joy school supply drive. Packs of Joy help ease the stress and financial burden of preparing for the new school year for those families already dealing with the stress of a serious illness. Backpacks are distributed to patients at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emmanuel and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.