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NAPLES, FL (May 15, 2018) – Katrina Varela, Communications Specialist at Gulfshore Insurance, recently graduated from the Growing Associates In Naples™ (GAIN™) program, which is run by the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. This distinguished program is specifically designed for emerging leaders and professionals in Collier County. Varela spent nine weeks learning about local government, charitable organizations, arts, commerce, law enforcement, tourism, education, and other county resources.

“We are so proud of Katrina and her willingness to take on new challenges as a part of Gulfshore Insurance and a contributing professional in the community,” said Michelle Gleeson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Gulfshore Insurance. “Katrina really embraced the time and effort it takes to successfully complete this program.”

Being a native to Naples, Varela went through the youth version of GAIN™, Youth Leadership Collier™ (YLC™), when she was a junior in high school. “I’m very lucky to have been able to experience both programs. YLC™ showed me all the opportunities that Collier County had to offer and then GAIN™ taught me how I could help strengthen and become more involved in our community.”

Varela joined Gulfshore Insurance in 2015 and assists in executing strategic brand management and marketing plans for the agency. Her experience includes creative design, brand marketing, and communications. Katrina received a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and holds two minors in Marketing and Global Communications from Florida International University. She is the Programming Chair for Youth Leadership Collier™, President of the Gulfshore Insurance Humanitarian Foundation, an active member of Naples Junior Women’s Club, and volunteers with Freedom Waters Foundation.

Hundreds of construction workers are killed every year from ladders and scaffolds, and many thousand more suffer serious injuries that are permanently disabling. And it is estimated that more than 30% of workers compensation claims costs stemming from construction sites are the result of falls from elevated surfaces.

A recent study indicated that injuries related to falls from elevated surfaces are more severe than other injury claims because these accidents result in more time away from work, damage to multiple body parts, and more short- and long-term disability leave.

Do Not Let These Accidents Happen to You

  • A worker, who was standing on the top of a stepladder, fell when the ladder shifted. He suffered a spinal injury and was out of work for four months.
  • Another worker failed to secure an extension ladder at the top and fell 20 feet when the ladder slipped away from the wall.
  • Two men were working high up in a building atrium when their scaffold collapsed. They plunged four stories to a concrete deck. One man was dead on arrival at the hospital; the other was in critical condition.
  • When a three-story wooden scaffold collapsed, two workers fell to the ground, suffering serious neck and back injuries. A third man working under the scaffolding was also injured.

It’s crucial for construction companies and their workers to implement regular safety training — and put that training to practice. Linked below are several helpful OSHA resources and fact sheets to improve worker safety at your organization:




With hurricane season quickly approaching, human resources professionals should prepare their organizations’ emergency plans now to ensure employees stay updated with crucial information and support, and to make sure business stays on track in the event we’re faced with another storm this summer.

Here’s a checklist organizations can use to prepare for Hurricane Season:

Share Disaster Plans & Emergency Resources Early

In anticipation of a natural disaster, HR leaders are often responsible for setting up communication plans and sharing information so that individual employees can prepare. Some recommended resources to share with those who may be impacted include:

  • National Hurricane Center’s Hurricane Preparedness Guidelines
  • Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Kit and Supply Checklist
  • Local Evacuation Shelter Information & Maps (including resources for pets)

Test Your Ability to Contact Employees During/After a Disaster, and Vice Versa

It is critical to encourage employees to update their emergency contact information in the organization’s system to ensure you have up-to-date phone numbers and other pertinent details on hand. At Gulfshore Insurance, we activate a secondary disaster hotline for employees only that allows us to convey critical messages before, during, and after a storm. If employees have cellular service, then they are able to call in to receive timely updates on the agency’s status of operations. A phone tree is another widely used method for communicating with employees, particularly if your organization has more than a handful of employees.

Consider an Alternative When Cell Service Becomes Difficult

While cell phone towers may go down and access to the internet or SMS capabilities may be affected, texting may provide one of the best options for staying in touch. Many organizations utilize an SMS instant-messaging system that allows them to notify employees about operations and other pertinent details. As such, it is important to remind employees about the need for extended batteries and backups in order to effectively use this system.

Extend Deadlines, Alert Vendors, and Pre-Schedule Remote Check-Ins

Business, of course, goes on in the rest of the world and deadlines still loom. If you have any vendors outside the affected areas with employee deadlines you should start working with them to get an extension. Leadership and operations teams may want to pre-schedule call-in times and provide access to a conference line. The calls will allow you to effectively plan for business continuity and report on efforts to check in with your employees.

Consider an Advance Payroll

Many of the activities HR teams will need to address in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster will, in some instances, be things that have been prepared for ahead of time. As employees get back in touch, additional needs will be identified, but access to payroll funds and cash, as well as a sense of job security, are often uppermost in the minds of staff members. The first paycheck after a storm can be is critical for employees. Remember that if extreme power outages occur, not only will banks be closed, but ATMs will probably not work either–cash is king!

Be Flexible with Attendance and Time Off Policies

Employees who have been displaced from their homes or have evacuated entirely may be anxious about job continuity even as they’re struggling with basics like getting access to food, shelter, gas, and clothing. Part of the communication prior to the weather event will ideally have provided employees with clarity around items such as pay continuity, use of PTO, or flexibility in the company’s attendance policies. As employees return to work, whenever that may be, they’ll still be dealing with numerous aftereffects. Providing consideration for additional time-off without penalty will be important to employees who must keep appointments with insurance adjustors, rebuild their homes, or find new living arrangements; this time may be with or without pay as appropriate and in alignment with the Fair Labor Standards Act for employers in the U.S.

Recently, Legionnaires disease hit the headlines when an outbreak occurred at a southwest Florida condominium. Many community associations are now asking whether they have the proper coverage in place to protect themselves if a similar situation were to occur in their neighborhood.

What is Legionnaires Disease:

Legionnaires disease is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria. Legionella is a type of bacterium found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made water systems like showers and faucets, cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings), hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use, decorative fountains and water features, hot water tanks and heaters, and large plumbing systems. The disease doesn’t spread from person to person. Instead, Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by breathing in mist, steam, or vapor that has been contaminated with the bacteria. “One example might be from breathing in droplets sprayed from a hot tub that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected,” reports the CDC.

How to Protect Your Association:

When people are infected with legionella from an establishment, its owners and/or operators can be held liable for victims’ physical and financial suffering. Since just one uninsured lawsuit can be enough to cause financial jeopardy, having Environmental Impairment Liability insurance should be considered a cost of doing business. General Liability (GL) coverage for community associations broadly excludes pollutants and bacteria; therefore a standalone Environmental Liability policy is needed to supplement these exclusions. Environmental Liability coverage is broadly available and generally inexpensive, however forms vary greatly from one carrier to another and not all policies cover this exposure. It is therefore very important that you review the policy terms and conditions with your Client Advisor to ensure that there are no exclusions for this exposure from your policy,

These outbreaks again illustrate why communities need to do their best to prevent illnesses from the legionella bacteria, and be properly insured in the event that they occur.

NAPLES, FL (May 4, 2018) – Gulfshore Insurance client advisor, Leroy Christiansen, was recently named a 2018 Top Producer by Insurance Business America (IBA) Magazine. The publication’s Top Producers list for 2018 is made up of 80 elite leading performers in the insurance industry. To be eligible for inclusion, nominees had to meet certain criteria including a book of business exceeding $750,000 in 2017.

“We are proud of Leroy’s recognition by Insurance Business America. He is a hardworking and passionate individual that knows how to navigate through the complex and ever changing industry.” said John Keller, Vice President of Commercial Sales. Keller noted that this is Christiansen’s second year in a row being named a Top Producer by IBA.

Christiansen joined Gulfshore Insurance in 2013 and services general construction and government contracting clients, delivering commercial property & casualty solutions as well as strategic risk management. He holds an Associate in Risk Management (ARM) designation in addition to the Registered Workers Compensation Specialist (RWCS) designation. Christiansen earned two Bachelor’s degrees from Saint John’s University and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Collier Building Industry Association.

To view the full list of 2018 Top Producers, click here.