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Update: New Extension Date of 12/1/17

Larger employers and those in certain high-risk industries that were supposed to electronically submit injury records to OSHA by July 1 will get a break from that deadline. On OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements webpage, an update has been added that states:

“OSHA is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time, and intends to propose extending the July 1, 2017 date by which certain employers are required to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A electronically. Updates will be posted to this webpage when they are available.”

The National Law Review reports OSHA sent an email to stakeholders which stated:

“OSHA intends to extend the initial date by which certain employers are required to electronically submit their injury and illness logs. The Recordkeeping Rule currently requires certain employers to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A to OSHA electronically by July 1, 2017. The proposal will extend this to a later date. Currently, we do not have any additional information about the timeline for this. We will let you know as additional information, including a proposed extension date, is available.”

The new rule requires certain employers under federal OSHA jurisdiction to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA injury and illness forms:

  • Employers with 250 or more employees in industries covered by OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation were scheduled to submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300 and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.
  • Employers with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries were scheduled to submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.
  • OSHA State Plans must adopt requirements that are substantially identical to the requirements in this rule.

Gulfshore Insurance is pleased to bring you this eye-opening series that explores the rise in commercial auto insurance costs; factors impacting the rise in claims; and solutions you can implement to help combat the situation. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact one of our trusted advisors. Click below to read previous articles in this series:


Commercial auto insurance rates are on the rise, and you can expect this trend to continue. Why is this happening? Right now, there are industry-wide challenges with increasing loss costs in commercial auto insurance. In a recent Insurance Journal article, insurance carrier annual statement data revealed a loss ratio of 109 percent, meaning that for every $1 of premium charged, carriers were paying $1.09 in claims costs and underwriting expenses.

While the exact cause of this troubling spike is not clear, there are potential contributing factors to the increase in auto loss:

Density: We’ve entered uncharted territory in terms of the number of miles driven. Not only does exposure to accidents increase as people drive more, the exposure of more vehicles in proximity to one another also rises. Florida is the third most populated state in the U.S., with the most populated areas being Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa/St. Pete, and Orlando.

Driver Experience: A severe shortage of experienced commercial drivers —50,000 in 2015, according to the American Trucking Association — means a limited pool to choose from. Drivers completing unfamiliar routes or lacking practice behind the wheel translate into more accidents, but companies facing intense competition for experienced drivers with good driving records may be tempted to let risk management best practices slip, like proper driver screening and training.

Distracted Driving: Distracted driving has also contributed to the rise in auto losses, with mobile devices accounting for 64% of all the road accidents in the United States in 2016. One out of four car accidents in the U.S. are caused by texting while driving, and new data shows 71% of drivers are using text messaging or email in their vehicles.  In 2015 alone, there were more than 45,700 distracted driving crashes in Florida; they resulted in more than 39,000 injuries and 200-plus fatalities. As interactive technology pervades our society, the distraction it brings behind the wheel may be leading to increased frequency and severity for insurers, with a potentially greater toll for society.

Underinsured/Uninsured Motorists: Many people today are driving without enough insurance, or simply don’t have insurance altogether. When an uninsured motorist gets into an accident, the result is the insured driver ends up paying for damages even if they are not at-fault. Florida, in particular, is ranked second in the nation for uninsured motorists at nearly 25%. And although Florida requires drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 for liability coverage, this is often not enough coverage to take care of commercial automobiles.

Increasing severity and frequency: Rising claims costs typically stem from either increased frequency or severity — but in the case of commercial auto, it’s both. Treating those injured in a commercial auto accident is more expensive than ever as medical costs rise at a faster rate than the overall Consumer Price Index. The average cost per paid bodily injury claim increased 32.1% from 2005 to 2013, and medical costs are on the rise. Vehicle damage-related losses are up nearly 17% since 2013, including vehicle repairs and medical claim costs. Concern over increased claim frequency and severity has recently prompted many insurance companies to raise prices in order to maintain margins and offset low returns on investments.

None of these trends show signs of slowing or reversing. Now is the time to reign in auto exposure, before the cost of claims balloons even further.

For companies with transportation exposure, costly auto losses can hinder continued growth. Organizations who partner closely with their insurance and risk management professionals to understand these risks – and the consultative support and tools available to manage them – will be better positioned to protect their employees, fleets, and businesses. Bottom line: your commercial vehicles are a growing liability to your business. At Gulfshore Insurance, we strive to share information with you to help you keep on top of important issues that may impact your business. As we continue our series on Commercial Auto, stay tuned for our next two articles where we highlight:

  • More Accidents, More Dollars – We will take a closer look at recent auto claims and the costs associated.
  • Just a Bump in the Road: Solutions & Best Practices Companies Can Use – We will discuss solutions available to you and risk management practices companies can put in place.

If you run a business that relies heavily on vehicles for your daily operations, you’ve likely been watching your commercial auto insurance premiums go up in recent years. For many, it’s getting harder to even find affordable coverage. What’s going on?

It comes as no surprise to many that driving is up, yet safety is down. The two trends go hand in hand: you can’t get in a crash if you’re not on the road to begin with. Here are a few recent statistics that speak to what we are seeing:

Recent Trends

  • The overall number of vehicle miles traveled increased to 3.2 trillion in 2016. More miles driven equal more cars on the road and a higher probability of accidents.
  • Motor vehicle deaths were up 6% in 2016. For the first time in nearly a decade, as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year. That marks a 6% increase over 2015, and a 14% increase over 2014 – the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964.
  • The preliminary estimate means 2016 may have been the deadliest year on the nation’s roads since 2007.
  • An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in 2016, and estimated cost to society was $432 billion, an increase of 7% from 2015.
  • Since the start of the upward trend, which occurred late in 2014, some states have been hit particularly hard. Motor vehicle deaths are up 43% in Florida.

 

 

How Do These Trends Impact Insurance?

With accident frequency at a ten-year high, auto insurers’ margins are slated to shrink in response. Auto insurance rates will likely continue to go up across the country.

A recent Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) white paper on personal auto insurance offered this warning: “There has been an alarming increase in crashes and claims reported. This, combined with the cost of the claims themselves, has led to a dramatic rise in the overall loss cost.”

In particular, one of the toughest lines of commercial insurance is that written on heavy, long haul tractors and trailers. Until a few years ago, insurance companies had a pretty good handle on commercial auto claims and costs arising from such heavy vehicle accidents. Claim frequency was pretty steady and predictable, and calculating damages and costs from bodily injuries was a fairly straightforward process. This made insurance for this type of exposure possible and profitable; insurers are not afraid of severe exposures as long as claim experience is predictable and allows for setting premium rates sufficient to pay claims and still make a profit.

The past few years, however, have seen a series of very large and unexpected judgements that have toppled old calculations, and are having a negative impact on the heavy commercial auto insurance market. Ten years ago, a $10 million claim would have been considered a large commercial auto claim. Today, it’s not uncommon to see settlements of $40 million to $50 million and even higher. And rising medical costs are a huge component of those increasingly astronomical settlements. General loss costs have also increased, by as much as 8 percent in 2015.

For companies with transportation exposure, costly auto losses can hinder continued growth. Organizations who partner closely with their insurance and risk management professionals to understand these risks – and the consultative support and tools available to manage them – will be better positioned to protect their employees, fleets, and businesses. Bottom line: your commercial vehicles are a growing liability to your business. At Gulfshore Insurance, we strive to share information with you to help you keep on top of important issues that may impact your business. As we continue our series on Commercial Auto, make sure to read our next three articles where we will highlight:

  • What’s Driving Auto Loss? We will explore the contributing factors specifically impacting the rise in claims.
  • More Accidents, More Dollars – We will take a closer look at recent auto claims and the costs associated.
  • Just a Bump in the Road: Solutions & Best Practices Companies Can Use – We will discuss solutions available to you and risk management practices companies can put in place.

Safe Travel TipsEvery activity in which a wealthy individual takes part has potential security risks, including travel. There is no question that traveling is an abiding passion of affluent people of every generation. Unfortunately, consumer safety and protection is poor in the $7.8 trillion travel and tourism industry. No one warns anyone before they buy a trip or board a plane about potential risks to their health and safety in the destination country. There are no trusted critical incident reports on deaths, injuries and missing persons who travel abroad. To stay safe, there are a number of safety precautions that every traveler should employ to ensure that their trip remains a joyous one.

Make Electronic Copies of Your Documents: Create an electronic backup of immunization records, itineraries, medical insurance cards, passports, plane tickets, travel insurance, and visas before leaving.

Leave an Itinerary and Emergency Contact: Unplugging while on vacation can be great, but try not to go too under the radar, especially if you’re traveling alone. Leave your itinerary (even if it’s just as basic as which city you’ll be visiting and when you’ll return) with a trusted friend or family member back home, and try to check in with him or her every day. That way, if something happens, they can alert authorities on your behalf.

Don’t Carry Everything Together: It might be tempting to keep your cash, credit cards, identification, and traveler’s checks in your wallet, but don’t do it. Keep any cash, credit cards, IDs, and checks you won’t be using locked in your hotel room safe. Separate the monetary and identifying items you must carry on you and carry them in different spots on your person. This safety tip prevents you from losing everything should somebody steal your wallet.

Don’t Flash Your Cash or Valuables: Keep your cash separated, with some spending money easily accessible and the rest hidden, so that you’re not showing off a big wad of cash every time you pay. Although it’s tempting to have your smartphone out constantly to look up directions or take photos, be mindful of your surroundings – thieves love to grab cell phones from people using them on trains and run off at the next stop.

Steer Clear of Animals: Cute stray dogs and cats roaming the streets may make for good photo opportunities, but resist the urge to get too close. Wild animals can carry all kinds of not-so-fun diseases (including rabies) that could ruin your trip.

Save Emergency Numbers: Remember, you can’t call 911 everywhere. Find out what the local emergency hotlines are and save them to your phone (preferably on speed dial). Also research the nearest U.S. embassies or consulates and save those addresses and phone numbers as well.

Make sure the US embassy knows where you are and if you have a special need: The US Department of State maintains international travel warnings and advisories. US consulates encourage US citizens to register with them and provide them with a contact number. That way, in case of emergency, the consulate already knows where you are and how to find you.

Remember, travel insurance for independent travelers and families is available. You’d rather not think about all of the things that might go wrong on your trip, but these things can and do happen. Gulfshore Insurance offers several good coverage options that provide for worldwide medical coverage. Contact me to find out more!

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Cyber-crime is a trend growing as fast as the Internet itself. It seems that every day there’s another identity theft story in the news that leaves us feeling vulnerable to this invisible threat.

While the compromise of corporate networks gets most of the media attention, we as individuals should be concerned — especially those with greater wealth and high media exposure. Now that personal information has become so hard to protect, financial status is much easier to discover. The explosive growth of mobile communications has created millions of new targets for criminals. Even vehicles, home security systems, and “smart” appliances can be hacked and used against someone. Anything controlled by a computer or connected to a network can be compromised.

The key to protection isn’t through a high-tech solution; cyber security is about awareness of online activity. It’s a good idea to work with a private security advisor who can offer expertise in cyber security. They not only help with background research and network security on both a personal and enterprise level, but they also provide tips and education on effective measures one can take to guard against cyber-crime.

It is also essential to insure one’s assets and reputation should a loss occur due to cyber-crime. Recovering stolen identity or lost assets can be expensive and time-consuming. And if this happens to a business leader, politician, celebrity or other high net worth individual, restoring a damaged reputation can also be difficult and costly. Good coverage provides some reassurance that you can financially recover from a cyber-crime. Not all insurance providers can meet those unique needs; it is important to talk with a trusted insurance agent who can offer expert advice on coverage solutions and recommend the best insurance companies to help protect against cyber-crime. Some carriers offer in-home safety consultations or can recommend an international personal security firm with expertise in protecting wealthy individuals and families.

It’s important to discuss these cyber risk exposures with your trusted insurance agent who can provide risk mitigation and loss prevention recommendations and, most importantly, secure insurance coverage with an insurance company that specializes in this risk.