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Life Insurance with Dual Protection Benefits

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Uncategorized

By Steven Schiewe/CIC, President GII

Planning for the future, we all want to do that, but many of us are just too busy or distracted to achieve this wish or desire to prepare for our financial needs in our later years.  Life insurance with “dual protection benefits” could be your answer to being prepared to cover costs of both long term care and end of life benefits.

The Dual Protection Life & Long Term Care insurance product can offer a unique double faceted benefit of providing both living and after death benefits for the insured, financial assistance to pay for professional long term care when assistance with basic life functions becomes a reality and eventually as a life insurance benefit for your assigned survivors .  Asset protection is a major goal in your estate planning and this unique product can achieve alternative solutions which will give you a financial sense of security.

When you can no longer perform some of the basic activities of normal daily living you may need assistance or long term care.  These 7 basic activities of normal daily living (NDL) are:

  • Eating
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Transferring (walking)
  •  Continence
  • Cognitive

Long term care can be provided in a nursing home, assisted living facility, some public facilities and even assistance can be provided in your own home.   The American Council of Life Insurers in 2007 stated approximately one in four Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 and 62% of those over 85 years old suffer some limitation of these normal daily living activities.  Furthermore in their February 2007 Long Term Care Pricing Research Study it was stated that the average annual cost to provide care in a nursing home could be as high as $65,000 and today in 2011 we can assume that cost is even greater now.  The study looked further into the future and projected in 20 years time that same cost for long term care assistance in a nursing home could be as much as $207,000.

The question now is who is going to pay for this necessary service?  There are many people that believe Medicare covers these costs.  Medicare coverage is actually very limited, and it is likely that you will be paying large out-of-pocket amounts for the service.  And did you know that health insurance normally does not provide a long term care benefit.  So, would you prefer to self-insure for this potential event in your life, or would you rather prepare for it now in a way that will protect your assets from being drained rapidly in the event long term care becomes necessary?

Planning should be done while you are able to clearly think about what is important to you as you reach your later years… before it is too late you should consult with your insurance agent and perhaps in coordination with your attorney to build a financial protection plan employing this unique product that is both Life Insurance and Long Term Care coverage.  Plan now for your future financial needs; speak with your Grosslight Insurance agent about this unique Dual Protection Benefit coverage.  Our professional agents can help to make your future be more secure and less mysterious about who will pay for your needs in the later years.  Highly-rated and financially sound insurance carriers underwrite and issue your policy.  Prepare now and pay for some of those large expenses you may incur as you grow older; plan now and perhaps you will not have to deplete your “nest egg” or portfolio or put the financial burden onto someone else.

Weathering the Big Chill: ICE and States Crack Down on Illegal Workers

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Uncategorized

Monitoring the Virtual Water Cooler: Employees on Facebook and More

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Uncategorized

National Public Radio recently aired a story about how employees working at IBM feel compelled to have a Facebook page. And it’s not just the newly minted, tech-savvy twentysomethings, either.

IBM managers “all the way up the chain” are on Facebook—and if you’re not, “You feel like you’re doing something wrong,” one employee said. The company actively encourages employees to use sites such as Facebook during working hours to build professional networks and exchange business ideas.

IBM is clearly not the only company employing growing throngs of Facebook loyalists. Facebook representatives say it’s fastest-growing demographic of users is the 35-and-older crowd.

But most businesses don’t have a social media culture like IBM’s. Instead, more than half of all U.S. companies prohibit the use of such sites at the office. Such policies may create more problems than they solve.

Advocates argue that social media function like the next generation of water-cooler chitchat. They say companies shouldn’t banish social media use just because they’re afraid of it or don’t understand it.

It’s not all positive

While social media sites can create positive networks and foster a sense of community and camaraderie among employees, they can also create real headaches for employers. What should you do when social media lets you learn too much about some of your employees?

Take, for example, a New Jersey lawsuit against Houston’s Restaurant in Hackensack (Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group). An employee there created a workplace discussion group on his personal web page. The group was flagged “private” and was available by invitation only.

One member of the group, a hostess at Houston’s, showed the “private” MySpace discussion group to a Houston’s manager. Other managers soon learned about the group and asked the hostess to provide them access, which she did.

Management was irate when it saw that the discussion group included sexual comments about employees and customers, disparaging jokes about the company and references to drugs and violence. The restaurant fired both the creator of the MySpace discussion group and a contributing employee.

Privacy issues, legal concerns

The terminated employees sued, claiming that the company violated the federal Stored Communications Act and invaded their privacy. Guess how that turned out. The court found Houston’s liable for both violations. The award: The maximum amount of back pay available to the employees.

That’s a unique situation. Generally speaking, few laws prohibit employers from taking adverse employment action against at-will employees for their off-duty conduct.

With so many employees using these sites, it’s likely that some employees will invite management to join their Facebook pages or blogs—perhaps without realizing the full consequences.

Suppose if, instead of making some disparaging jokes about the company, an employee posted explicit pictures from her moonlighting job as an exotic dancer, or used a Facebook page to tout neo-Nazi sentiments or white supremacist ideas? Might the manager be inclined to terminate the part-time stripper on the basis of those pictures? Would the employer arguably be obliged to terminate the neo-Nazi once it learned of the employee’s racist and violent views?

What’s in your policy?

Before your company creates a policy on social networking, consider whether your business is in a heavily regulated industry (such as pharmaceuticals) or an industry that requires a particularly high level of confidentiality. The added legal complexities in those industries may weigh in favor of being extremely cautious about embracing social media as part of your company culture.

If you do decide to encourage employees to use social media at work, make it clear to all employees that they have a duty not to disclose confidential company information or trade secrets. That duty should extend even to social networking sites employees may consider “personal.”

Warn employees that they cannot defame the company or its employees. Be clear that any violation of the policy will result in discipline, up to and including immediate termination.

The lines between personal space and the workplace continue to blur. Odds are good that many forms of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are already thriving in your workplace. Who knows what technology is next.

As an employer in the 21st century, it’s best to make a conscious decision about how to address those issues with your employees. Proactively develop a policy so you don’t get stuck doing damage control—perhaps becoming the latest talk heard ’round the virtual water cooler.

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Strawberry Shortcake

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Lifestyle

Strawberry shortcake is the new It dessert, as FC’s Evan Barbour discovered; inspired iterations are all over the web. Check out recipes from a few favorite bloggers and visit their blogs for more inspiration. (Images: courtesy of the respective bloggers).

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Tracey from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures says she’s not sure she should call these “cookies” because their tender, fluffy texture is more like a scone. Whatever she calls them, we want some.

Get the recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes

What could be better than waking up to a tall stack of Angela’s (from Oh She Glows) strawberry shortcake pancakes? Nothing.

Get the recipe

Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberries with balsamic vinegar is one of those underappreciated flavor combinations; that’s why we love Culinary Cory’s simple recipe.

Get the recipe

Strawberry and Cream Cake Kebabs

When Jessica from How Sweet It Is wanted to add some fun to her strawberry loaf cake, she put it on skewers and poured on the strawberry glaze. Genius.

Get the recipe

Strawberry Chocolate Shortcake

Karly from Buns In My Oven actually uses her double-chocolate bread for the base in this tasty improvised dessert.

Get the recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

Naomi from Bakers Royale notes that her popciles are fast, easy, and low-cal, but we love them because they’re so darn cute!

Get the recipe

Chocolate Doughnuts with Strawberry Glaze

Jodie from Eat on the Cheap’s delicious-looking doughnuts with fresh strawberry glaze have ruined bakery doughnuts for us forever. We think that was the idea!

Get the recipe

Red Velvet Strawberry Shortcake

Amanda at I am Baker brings strawberry shortcake to new heights with a four-layer cake: two layers of white cake, two layers of red velvet decadence, and four layers of strawberries and airy whipped cream.

Get the recipe

Coconut Strawberry Shortcake with Cashew Cream

Healthier than your average shortcake, these little gems are nutritionist-approved, and Emily from A Nutritionist Eats guarantees they’re delicious, too.

Get the recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Trifles

It’s a sweet life for Grace, who hides a layer of strawberry jelly in her trifle, along with a sweet, decadent layer of sponge cake.

Get the recipe

Raw Strawberry Dreamcake

A Dash of Compassion’s Nicole doesn’t only offer up a dreamy “cheesecake” recipe, she also gives a lesson in how this raw-ingredient dessert comes together—and stays together.

Get the recipe

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The Green Thing

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Lifestyle

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right, that generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottle, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back in that customer’s day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into  a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right; they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then they had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen they size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

9 Steps to Avoid Negligent Entrustment

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Uncategorized

Agents can provide meaningful service to their clients by warning them about the risks of negligent entrustment.

Negligent entrustment arises when one party (the entrustor) is held liable for negligence because he provided another party (the entrustee) with a dangerous instrument, and the entrusted party caused injury to himself or a third party, or damaged property, with that instrument.

One way a business can find itself at risk of negligent entrustment is by allowing an employee to drive a vehicle on company business, when management knows or should know that the driver intends or is likely to drive the vehicle in such a manner as to create an unreasonable risk of harm. This can happen when the employer chooses to overlook the fact that an employee has a history of substance abuse, anger management and/or reckless driving.

The legal theory supporting negligent entrustment is that the company has a legal duty to investigate the driving records and qualifications of all potential drivers, and take action to prevent drivers from operating vehicles in an unsafe manner during the course of company business.

With general liability coverage there is a specific exclusion for “bodily injury or property damage arising out of the ownership or entrustment to others of any aircraft, auto or watercraft owned or operated or rented or loaned to any insured.” No matter how much general liability coverage an insured carries, there will be no coverage for a negligent entrustment incident.

Unlike general liability, a business auto policy has no exclusions for negligent entrustment. Yet even with coverage, an insured may not have enough insurance if one of its employees is involved in a harmful accident.

Because anyone with permission to drive a vehicle on company business is classified as being an insured, it is important for a company to define its permission policy before an incident occurs. Otherwise the insurance provider will do so after a claim has been filed. The rule of thumb in creating a permission policy is to ensure flexibility without creating a personal use permission policy that is too broad.

When it comes to negligent entrustment, it is also important to remember that punitive damages are not insurable in most states. Since punitive damages are meant to punish employers, to do otherwise would be against public policy.

Following are some guidelines for your clients to use to avoid the potentially devastating consequences of negligent entrustment:

  1. Read the literature on negligent entrustment to understand the risks.
  2. Teach by example, especially when driving with young employees.
  3. Put clear safety policies in writing.
  4. Enforce clearly defined driver guidelines with zero tolerance.
  5. Pre-screen all individuals who are granted permission to drive on company business.
  6. Monitor and enforce drug and alcohol policies.
  7. Review the driving records of all those with permission to drive on company business annually.
  8. Mandate training modules for all at-risk drivers.
  9. Maintain company vehicles to meet stringent safety standards.

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Four Types of Training That Should Never Be Cut

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Uncategorized

Often one of the first line items to be cut from HR budgets is training, which can be perceived by high-level executives as “a good thing to do” but nonessential to their organizations in these challenging financial times. In reality, workforce training has never been more important, and it provides a stronger-than-ever return on investment.

The recession has put employers under attack by employees government enforcement agencies. Consider the following facts:

• From 2007 to the end of 2008, employment
  claims filed with the Equal Employment
  Opportunity Commission increased by 14.5
  percent, from 83,000 to 95,000.

• In 2008, retaliation claims filed with the EEOC jumped 22 percent, from 27,000 to 33,000

• The EEOC just hired 170 new investigators for intake and investigation purposes.

• Corporate counsel reported significant rises in employment disputes in the past year,
  with discrimination suits rising by 11 percent.

• The Department of Labor recently added of 250 new wage-and-hour field investigators—a
  staff increase of more than a third—along with additional new staff in the department’s Office
  of the Solicitor.

• In December 2008, Wal-Mart agreed to pay as much as $640 million to resolve 63 class-
  action lawsuits involving wage-and-hour violations across the nation.

In light of such statistics, there are four types of training that should never be cut. These programs—essential for most workforces— are training in the prevention of unlawful harassment and discrimination, prevention of workplace violence, prevention of wage-and-hour law violations and adherence to the organization’s code of conduct. There are sound return-on-investment arguments for each one.

1. Training to prevent discrimination and harassment

The EEOC charge numbers cited above represent only the tip of the iceberg. They do not include harassment and discrimination charges filed with state enforcement agencies, in state courts or those related to conflicts that settle before the charges are formally filed.

In the event of a layoff, employees who are terminated might perceive that they were targeted for belonging to one of the legally protected categories, such as age, race, gender or national origin. Employees who haven’t been laid off might view filing a harassment or discrimination claim as “job security,” falsely believing that such a claim makes it impossible for an employer to terminate their employment.

The return on investment

Many courts have held that regular—generally, that means annual—harassment prevention training allows an employer to establish an affirmative defense to avoid liability in cases where the allegedly aggrieved employee has not suffered any tangible job detriment, such as a demotion or termination. (If there is a tangible employment action, such as a termination, this affirmative defense is not available.)

Additionally, numerous courts have held that employers that do not train in harassment prevention, or do so only sporadically, can be subject to punitive damages for negligence. Conversely, if an employer can demonstrate it made good-faith efforts to comply with harassment and discrimination laws by training employees, punitive damages can more likely be avoided.

2. Workplace violence prevention training

Incidents of workplace violence are in the news nearly every day. Homicide is the second-leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the U.S., according the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recently revised report, which covers 2008. And while workplace homicides fell by 18 percent in 2008, workplace suicides rose from 196 cases in 2007 to 251 cases in 2008, an increase of 28 percent and the highest number ever reported by the fatality census, according to the BLS.

Many employees and former employees are feeling desperate—over layoffs, terminations, foreclosure on their homes, their plummeting (or nonexistent) retirement accounts. In nearly every case of extreme workplace violence, there were many early warning signs that were ignored because employees and supervisors were not trained in recognizing them and taking appropriate action.

The return on investment

Not only can proper training of employees and supervisors prevent an incident of horrible tragedy from occurring, but it also can be used as a legal defense should an incident occur. Employers that show they have acted prudently to protect their employees by conducting training will likely avoid multimillion-dollar jury awards finding that the employer was negligent or assessments of punitive damages.

3. Training to prevent wage-and-hour violations

Current economic conditions have resulted in drastic cost cutting and the slashing of work hours and overtime, which can lead to unwitting violations of wage-and-hour laws. Wage-and-hour violations most frequently occur simply because employees do not have accurate information on how to properly record hours or supervisors lack training in wage payment practices.

The return on investment

As with other types of training, programs for employees and supervisors in this area can help not only to prevent violations, but also to establish a legal defense—in this case, by demonstrating good-faith compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Employers that have instituted a wage-and-hour training program and have instructed employees and supervisors in proper wage-and-hour record keeping and payment practices can avoid the liquidated damages that can arise from a willful violation of the law. Employee class-action wage-and-hour lawsuits are a substantial threat to U.S. employers, and wage-and-hour training for employees and supervisors can minimize the risk of such suits, potentially saving an employer millions of dollars in violations and liquidated damages.

4. Ethics and code-of-conduct training

Employers are being scrutinized for ethical violations like never before. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 strongly encourages training on an organization’s code of conduct and requires education about systems available to employees to report ethical violations. Additionally, federal sentencing guidelines mandate training on ethics and legal compliance for all organizations as one of the two ways in which an organization’s sentence for criminal misconduct might be mitigated.

The federal sentencing guidelines clearly state that employers can be held liable for their employees’ illegal conduct. Employers can substantially mitigate potential fines and punishment for criminal violations if they take proactive steps to prevent unethical and illegal conduct through an effective ethics and compliance program, including training. Conversely, the lack of an effective ethics and compliance program can be used by a fact finder to increase fines and liability.

The return on investment

Ethics training can prove an essential defense should an ethics lapse occur, demonstrating to an enforcement agency that your organization took ethics seriously enough to train your entire workforce. Such good-faith efforts can make regulators less likely to assess fines or penalties and can lessen public relations damage to the organization.

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