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Florida lawmakers made texting and driving illegal in July of 2019 and in October of 2019 they made hand-held phone use illegal in school and work zones. The law included a “warning period” until January 1, 2020, so enforcement has been lacking since becoming law.

Florida is the 45th state to make cell phone use while driving illegal. I find that interesting since we have the 4th highest accident rate of any state – what took so long?

Here is what you should know about the new laws:

  1. Hands-Free Mobile Device Policy
    If your company is not already using a Hands-Free Mobile Device Policy which has been signed by all your drivers, then your insurance agent/risk manager must still think it is 1980.  Email me and I’ll send you a policy.
  2. Texting While Driving is now a ‘Primary’ Offense
     This means that your drivers can and will be pulled over if they are using their phones while driving.  It was previously considered a ‘secondary’ offense, meaning they could only be ticketed for using their phone only if they were pulled over for another reason (i.e. not using a blinker).
  3. The Penalty
    A first offense results in a small $30 fine.  A second offense is a fine up to $100 and three points on their license.  The points are the big issue here.  Those points will hurt your insurance underwriting and they could potentially eliminate a driver from being an acceptable driver on your insurance.  How valuable is that employee if they cannot drive a vehicle for you?
  4. Can Drivers Use GPS?
    Drivers can still use their phones for GPS, but drivers cannot hold their phone in their hand while driving.  Drivers must pull off the road to put in coordinates to their GPS.
  5. Hands-Free Phone Calls
    Drivers may talk on the phone while driving, but again, they cannot hold their phone while driving.  Headphones are allowed while driving, but only in one ear.

It is important that you communicate these points to your drivers because their driving habits will affect your cost of insurance and their status as an acceptable driver on your insurance.

At Gulfshore Insurance, we provide insurance and risk management for businesses.  We work with more than 10,000 clients throughout Florida and we are happy to assist you with training materials, safety programs, and insurance for your business.

Jeffrey Sanders, TRIP is Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. Jeff works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis, guidance, and insurance. Comments and questions are welcome at jsanders@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Natural disasters have been on the rise in the last decade, and according to a new analysis, it’s causing a spike in home insurance rates across the country. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 2018 saw 850 “natural catastrophes” across the world—a jump from 740 in 2017 and just 500 a decade earlier. The disasters have racked up damages to the tune of $350 billion in some years – and those were just the insured losses.

A recent report noted that 2017 and 2018 brought the costliest back-to-back years on record for economic losses solely due to weather-related events. As insurance companies struggle to keep up with two years of higher-than-expected losses from natural catastrophes, homeowners may see increases in rates, particularly in more disaster-prone parts of the country.

“Every year in the United States, natural disasters account for tens of billions of dollars in damages,” the report reads. “A significant portion of those damages falls on the shoulders of insurance companies. When insurance companies experience huge loss from natural disaster-related claims, they compensate for that loss with an increase in home insurance rates.”

Average home insurance rates have risen in every state in the last decade, mainly due to natural disasters, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. And Florida’s average rate is the highest in the nation. Florida tends to have most of its damages caused by hurricanes, such as Hurricane Irma, which hit the state in September 2017 and caused $11.1 billion worth of damage, with the vast majority of that to homes, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Hurricane Michael hit Florida in October 2018, causing $6.4 billion worth of damage to the state.

You can read the full analysis of the decades’ worth of NAIC data by clicking here.

We know that workplace injuries are costing your business money in a many ways; increased insurance premiums, cost of hiring and replacement, lost efficiency, additional training, increased paperwork and administrative costs, and more.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional truck drivers suffer more injuries than any other industry.

Why are these injuries happening?
A recent 10 year study out of Washington state gives us the statistics behind the leading Truck Driver injuries…

  • 40% are due to Musculoskeletal Injury (strains, sprains, pulls, overexertion, etc.)
  • 19% are due to Falls from Elevation or Same Level (mostly getting in or out of the vehicle)
  • 12% are due to being Struck By or Against an Object (falling object, swinging door, etc.)
  • 9% are due to Vehicle Crashes

 

Most of these injuries are preventable with the proper training, planning and awareness.  Keep your employees safe and your premiums and other injury costs down by taking a proactive approach.

Musculoskeletal
Scenario: Moving containers or equipment (boxes, crates, bins etc.)
Solution: Provide proper lift training and “strategy”.  Employees should first evaluate, then lift.  Use mechanical aids when necessary.

Falls from Elevation or Same Level
Scenario: Falling while entering/exiting the vehicle and trailer/loading area.
Solution:  Use the “3-Point Contact” rule when entering or exiting – no jumping.  Provide proper step conditions (step ladder to cab/trailer).  Provide training and reminders that employees cannot jump from trailer or cab.

Struck by or Against an Object
Scenario: Struck by container or loose cargo.
Solution:  Provide ample equipment to secure/store cargo properly.  Replace binders/straps if they are worn.  Train employees on proper stacking and loading techniques.

Crashes
Scenario: 29% of all crashes are Rear-End Collisions.  Most of these are due to following too closely.
Solution:  Use a “4-second rule” when following another vehicle.  Reduce speed increase following distance in poor/wet conditions.  Constantly discuss and remind drivers of the importance of keeping proper following distance.  Provide trainings and information about proper following techniques.

Investing in safety and training for your employees will pay dividends by keeping insurance premiums and injury related costs down over the long haul.

At Gulfshore Insurance, we specialize in insurance and risk management in the trucking and transportation industry. We work with more than 10,000 clients throughout Florida and we are happy to assist you with training materials, safety programs, and insurance for your business.

Jeffrey Sanders, TRIP is Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. Jeff works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis, guidance, and insurance. Comments and questions are welcome at jsanders@gulfshoreinsurance.com

We know that employee workplace injuries drive up your cost of insurance. It is also no surprise that employees who work in physical trades are more susceptible to a workplace injury. Knowing the most common workplace injuries across all types of construction companies can help you prevent them from occurring.

Here are the Top 5 Workplace Injuries for the Construction Industry.

Cuts & Lacerations:
Construction workers are always at risk of cuts and gashes from a myriad of potential dangers. However, these are often the easiest to avoid. Make sure you crews are using and wearing their PPE!

Falls:
Slipping, tripping and falling should always be of concern. A fall from just one or two steps up on a ladder can result in broken bones and severe injury. Remind your crews to use extreme caution and proper technique with ladders and scaffolding and keep work areas neat and clear of tripping hazards.

Head Injuries:
The two main causes are falling objects and workers hitting their head on objects. Hard hats can prevent most of these injuries – be sure your crews are using them!

Burns:
Burns are always near the top of the list of most common construction injuries. Hot equipment, exposed wires, chemicals, etc. are all contributors to this category.

Heat Stroke:
It should be no surprise that heat stroke makes it into the top 5 in the state of Florida. If your employees are exposed to the elements, give them the tools they need to be protected from the heat. Water coolers, Gatorade, tents for shade. These are small expenses that will go a long way for moral and the safety of your employees.

At Gulfshore Insurance, we specialize in insurance and risk management for construction industry. We work with thousands of contractors throughout Florida and we are happy to assist you with training materials, safety programs, and insurance for your business.

Jeffrey Sanders, TRIP is Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. Jeff works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis, guidance, and insurance. Comments and questions are welcome at jsanders@gulfshoreinsurance.com