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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 MySpace.com 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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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
  claims.

• 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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Earthquake Preparation: What to do During?

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Uncategorized

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Go to a nearby safe place. If you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe. Listen and follow instructions from those charged with evacuating the premise and be sure to go to your designated meeting area and wait for further instructions.

IF INDOORS

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the build-ing or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.

IF OUTDOORS

  • Stay outdoors.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach, California, earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

IF IN A MOVING VEHICLE

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Check your local radio news station for general information.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earth-quake.
  • Contact your employer a soon as practical and “check in” so they know you are safe.
  • Follow any instructions from emergency services such as Police or Fire Department.

IF TRAPPED UNDER DEBRIS

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
  • If possible, conduct a brief self assessment of your overall physical condition:
    – Are you cut/bleeding
    – Arms, hands legs condition
    – Upper body including ribs condition Check your head, ears and neck for blood or signs of being struck by debris

Include the “what to do if…” instructions above in your plan and make sure to address logical scenarios based on your location. The USGS, US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program, offers a map of earthquake activity in the U.S. which can be used as a tool in your Earthquake Prepardness Plan.

The following key resources contributed to this article and more de-tails are available online to assist you in preparing for an earthquake:
-FEMA Earthquake Preparedness
-California Emergency Preparedness Office – Most states have an “Office of Emergency Preparedness” that can be found with a simple on-line search.
-American Red Cross

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