Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Safety

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.

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 CallsDrivers 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

Slips, trips and falls represent half of all liability and workers compensation claims for churches. They come from members, guests, employees and volunteers, but most of them are preventable. With regular maintenance and good housekeeping, you can protect people from accidents and injury and prevent the church from experiencing a lawsuit or claim. Below are the main areas of concern for keeping the church safe, inside and out. Follow the link to download a sample Slip and Fall Protocol which includes an incident form.


  1. Keep the facility clean and free from open hazards. If someone trips over torn carpet, falls because the handrail came loose, or trips over an extension cord, the Church would be responsible, and our own liability policy would have to respond. So, use a checklist for regular maintenance, keep good housekeeping standards and invite your regular employees or members to bring maintenance issues to your attention.
  2. Entry ways are the most common area for slip and fall accidents. Entry mats help by keeping the area dry but should be watched so they don’t roll up and pose a trip hazard. During hurricane season it’s very important to monitor the water that gets tracked in the entry ways. Have ushers use umbrellas to walk people in and have an area or bags available for guests to use for wet umbrellas.
  3. Stairs should be well lit, free from obstacles and have sturdy handrails.
  4. Kitchens often can become wet or greasy.  Clean up spills immediately and utilize non-slip mats in front of prep stations and sinks.


  1. Uneven ground, cracks in sidewalks or parking lots and raised sidewalk seams are the most common causes of outdoor trip and falls. Any change in elevation or surfaces greater than ¼ inch can easily cause someone to trip. Monitor sidewalks for uneven seams or raised areas and have those seams ground down to a variance < ¼ inch. Cracks should be filled, and large holes repaired. Sidewalks should be swept of debris.
  2. Unmarked obstacles such as curbs, transitions, parking blocks, or tree roots are hazards.  These can be address by painting a bright color or preventative maintenance.  Tree roots and landscape beds should be well mulched or partitioned to prevent foot traffic.
  3. Inadequate lighting increases the likelihood of a trip, so maintain well-lit parking lots, sidewalks and stairways. Lighting has the additional benefit of deterring vandals and creating a welcoming atmosphere.

To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.

John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI is Client Advisor & Risk Manager at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in non-profit and religious organizations. John works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at

Every five seconds there is a vehicle crash in the United States. Wouldn’t you like to know if your drivers are at a greater risk of being involved in an accident? The Driver Performance Analysis System (DPAS) is a tool that can help. DPAS is a two-phase driver performance measurement and analysis program which, when completed, is a valid and reliable measure of a driver’s traffic related knowledge and skills.

The DPAS system evaluates a driver’s capability in four critical dimensions:

  1. Traffic Knowledge
  2. Perceptual Skills
  3. Traffic Risk and
  4. Traffic Procedures

The system produces results in terms of:

  1. Score (relative to the universe)
  2. Likelihood of being involved in a crash
  3. Probability that training will improve abilities in each of the four areas.

This interactive, web-based tool can help:

  • Identify high-risk drivers
  • Improve driver abilities
  • Reduce crashes
  • Enhance hiring decisions
  • Minimize claims
  • Reduce liability
  • Instill professionalism
  • Reward low-risk drivers
  • Enhance profitability

For more information on DPAS, contact us today.

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:




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.