Preparing Your Small Business For Flu Season

Preparing Your Small Business For Flu SeasonBetween January and end of March, the flu virus runs rampant across the United States. As affected employees can cut down on productivity and efficiency, it’s time to take the necessary precautions to prevent it from hitting your office. Keep in mind that although the flu season hits hardest around this time of year, it’s been known to affect people year-round. In addition to equipping your operation with a NY Business Insurance policy, heed the following advice.

Keep it clean.

Organize common areas such as the break room and restrooms. Keeping them spotless can help to mitigate some of the inherent germs that populate these areas. If you don’t have the resources or time to do it yourself, hire an outside company to regularly clean these areas.

Set up a flu drive.

Organize a drive to have certified healthcare officials conduct flu shot clinics. This is an ounce of prevention, almost literally. If you can’t offer your team full benefits packages, an event like a clinic could compensate at least partially, states Small Business Trends.

Educate employees.

Remind your employees of the peak flu season and the symptoms they could face. Encourage healthy eating habits, provide healthy snacks, and supply them with plenty of fresh water throughout the day. Send an email to them each week to remind employees to take care of themselves during this time period, as well.

Have a plan.

There’s a good chance one or more of your employees will be affected by the flu in the next few weeks. In a small business, this could severely impact your operation. Devise a plan for how you will tackle the day’s work if one or two people call out.

About The Rubin Group

Based in New York, The Rubin Group provides insurance in most of the 50 states. Our full-service insurance brokerage provides insurance and risk management services to individuals in all income brackets and businesses of all sizes and types. We understand that every client has unique coverage requirements, and we are passionate about providing the ideal individualized coverage for each customer. Each member of our team takes the time to truly understand your situation, the particular risks you anticipate – and the very real risks you’ve not yet contemplated. For all of your insurance needs, you can call (212) 201-4500 to contact us at The Rubin Group!

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Identifying Foundation Damage: 4 Signs

Identifying Foundation Damage: 4 SignsFor homeowners, foundation damage can lead to quite a bit of financial loss. While this is the last thing any homeowner wants to deal with, facing the facts and fixing the issues now before they become more severe can save you money in the long run. In addition to acquiring the best NY Homeowners Insurance to protect your investment, look out for the following 4 signs of foundation damage.

Cracked or crumbling foundation.

This is a tell-tale sign of foundation damage. Scan the underlying structure for signs of crumbling, cracking, sagging, or moisture damage.

Warped floors or ceilings.

Look for uneven flooring and ceilings. If the interior walls have space between the baseboards and the floor, this likely means that there is settling and foundation damage.

Water damage.

According to Property Casualty 360, improper water drainage is one of the leading causes of foundation failure. When soil surrounding the home rapidly expands (during wet spells) and contracts (during dry ones), this can lead to unnatural soil shifting — a process that places tremendous pressure on the underlying foundation. Cracks within the foundation and interior structure can prevent water from draining properly, which will cause more damage.

Improper window and door fittings.

If your windows and doors are jammed or hard to open and close, it likely means that the foundation has shifted due to damage. Over time, foundations are built to “give” a little, but ill-fitting doors and windows means the damage has gone beyond the leeway limits of the building materials. Further, gaps in windows and doors can lead to increased costs in heating and cooling bills.

About The Rubin Group

While foundation damage might cause stress and financial hardship, addressing these concerns immediately can prevent further damage and protect your wallet down the road. At The Rubin Group, we proudly offer comprehensive home insurance solutions for New York homeowners who seek the best coverage to protect their assets from all the unexpected hazards they might face. Give us a call today at (877) 806-7239 to learn more about how we can help protect you.

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ADA Compliance and Interviews

ADA Compliance and InterviewsFor any business, vetting and hiring qualified candidates is a must. While many business owners hardly think about the implications that their interview questions have on their liability risk, the truth is that your business likely faces additional exposures without your knowledge. The ADA works to ensure compliance across the board, from interview practices to hiring and employment procedures. Therefore, protect your business with a customized New York Employment Practices Insurance policy and heed the following advice.

Err on the side of caution.

It’s never your intention to discriminate against a candidate because of any physical limitations. Therefore, refer to the ADA regulations regarding interview questions in order to avoid asking violating questions, even if you do so unknowingly.

Real life examples.

Here are examples of situations that could violate the ADA, according to FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

  • Telling an applicant that the job requires heavy lifting on a daily basis is lawful. However, asking the candidate if they have any disability that would prevent them from being able to lift heavy boxes is considered discriminatory, and therefore, unlawful.
  • Never ask directly invasive questions such as “Do you have epilepsy?”
  • If an applicant divulges that they have some type of disability, do not ask if they are expected to recover.
  • You are permitted to ask if the candidate has ever used illegal drugs and if they drink alcohol. However, you are not permitted to ask whether or not they have been treated for any addictions and how much alcohol they consume on a regular basis.

This information might seem overwhelming, and it can be. Therefore, it’s important to speak to a well-versed lawyer who specializes in ADA compliance to reduce your risk of claims. Refer to the above-mentioned compliance guide as a template for structuring your interview questions.

About The Rubin Group

Based in New York, The Rubin Group provides insurance in most of the 50 states. Our full-service insurance brokerage provides insurance and risk management services to individuals in all income brackets and businesses of all sizes and types. We understand that every client has unique coverage requirements, and we are passionate about providing the ideal individualized coverage for each customer. Each member of our team takes the time to truly understand your situation, the particular risks you anticipate – and the very real risks you’ve not yet contemplated. For all of your insurance needs, contact us at The Rubin Group!

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What You Need To Know About Employee Dishonesty

What You Need To Know About Employee DishonestyIt’s unpleasant for employers to think about, but Employee Dishonesty is surprisingly common. Dishonesty runs the gamut from the relatively innocuous (an employee calling in sick when he’s actually planning to play golf) to the criminal. You may choose to overlook employees’ occasional white lies. However, you cannot afford to let your guard down when it comes to identifying employee dishonesty that’s criminal in nature!

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, employee theft costs businesses as much as $40 billion annually. Employee theft is so problematic that it contributes to almost 30 percent all U.S. business failures. Another shocking statistic? According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the median loss suffered by small businesses is almost $100,000 more than the median loss suffered by large employers. Here’s how to handle employee dishonesty that threatens your business.

Employee Dishonesty Insurance: The Most Important Coverage You May Not Have

As a business owner, you undoubtedly have a general liability insurance policy, workers compensation coverage, and business interruption insurance among other coverages. Do you have employee dishonesty insurance? If you’re concerned about how to insure against employee dishonesty, this coverage could be the best way to protect your interests.

What You Need to Know

Employee dishonesty insurance sounds straightforward, but there are prerequisites that must be met before a policy will compensate you for employee dishonesty losses. As noted in an article in Property Casualty 360°, these include:

  • You must be able to prove that the employee’s harmful act was intentional, dishonest, and fraudulent. This type of policy does not protect against losses due to employee accidents or negligence.
  • You must be able to prove that the employee committing the act did so with the goal of reaping financial benefits for himself or someone else. Under this prerequisite, the employee’s salary, commissions, bonuses, fees, promotions, awards, or other reasonable benefits that can be rightfully earned do not qualify as “financial benefit.”

Additionally, employee dishonesty policies have very specific “prior-knowledge” exclusions. If these exclusions exist in regard to a specific case, the policy won’t pay out. As with any insurance policy, it’s smart to discuss the pros and cons with a licensed broker before deciding if it’s a wise investment for your business.

About The Rubin Group

Based in New York, The Rubin Group provides insurance in most of the 50 states. Our full-service insurance brokerage provides insurance and risk management services to individuals in all income brackets and businesses of all sizes and types. We understand every client has unique coverage requirement and we are passionate about providing the ideal individualized coverage for each customer. Each member of our team takes the time to truly understand your situation, the particular risks you anticipate – and the very real risks you’ve not yet contemplated. For all of your insurance needs, contact us at The Rubin Group!

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The Holidays are Here! Is Your Business Ready?

The Holidays are Here! Is Your Business ReadyDespite the fact that you can buy Christmas ornaments before Halloween at many big-box retail stores, the week before Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season. The holidays are here! Is your business ready? Don’t underestimate the importance of your New York Business Insurance policy this time of year. Increased traffic equates to increased risks. You’ll also need a strategic plan to woo customers and end the year solidly in the black. Here are some tips!

Tailor Your Message

Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays? Season’s Greetings? Happy Hanukkah? Joyful Kwanzaa? You may assume that you simply need to pick one and run with it. Actually, you should consider your customers and your target customers, and ask yourself, “If they were to use a greeting, what would it be?” Does your audience skew to the secular or to the religious? Believe it or not, some customers will opt not to frequent a business that uses a secular holiday message. Others are offended by a religious holiday message. In this case, the “know your customer” business commandment is more important than ever.

Be Strategic about Black Friday

Black Friday: Most consumers either love it or hate it. Don’t assume that you must be open on Black Friday, must be open round-the-clock or at least early, and must have selected items at ridiculously low prices. Sometimes opting out of Black Friday sends a more appealing message to customers. In 2015, outdoor retailer REI took the bold step of announcing it would be closed on Black Friday. The company encouraged its customers to follow suit and avoid the Black Friday madness and spend the day enjoying the outdoors. Analysts noted this strategy was brilliant as it was in line with their customers’ core values. What worked for REI won’t work for every business. Again, know your customers! If you do choose to participate in Black Friday, make it count. You’ll have tons of competition, so make your door-busters irresistible.

‘Tis the Season to Say “Thank You”

Without your customers, you would not have a business. It’s important to thank them during the holidays. Depending on the size of your customer base, you could send holiday cards, gift baskets, or promotional items. Those are nice touches, but customers will truly appreciate something they’re sure to use: a discount! Thank your loyal customers with a generous coupon or discount code. It will be a win-win for them and for you!

You’re busy preparing for the holiday rush, so let us make sure your insurance is sufficient to protect you during this hectic season. Contact us at The Rubin Group, 877.806.7239.

 

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Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

Is Your Business Hurricane ReadyAs a New York business owner, you undoubtedly wear many hats. On the day to day, you oversee various business developments and administrative responsibilities that keep your business thriving. In addition to these responsibilities, however,  you also have to anticipate the possibility of a catastrophe affecting your business. In light of this hurricane season, it is imperative that you secure your investment with a robust New York Business Insurance policy. Furthermore, protect your business by adhering to the following hurricane preparedness checklist.

Hurricane Checklist for Businesses

According to the International Hurricane Research Center, it’s crucial that you do the following:

  • Safeguard windows and glass doors with storm shutters or plywood so they’re not shattered by airborne debris.
  • Well before a hurricane forecast, have your roof inspected to make sure it can withstand hurricane-force winds.
  • If a storm is forecast, place sandbags in areas that could flood.
  • Remove valuables and important documents from the building when a storm is on the horizon.
  • Move electronics to higher elevations and place furniture on risers or cinder blocks in case the building floods.
  • Turn off utilities when you leave the building in advance of the hurricane.
  • Have a battery-operated radio or TV, three-day supply of water for each employee, nonperishable food, batteries, flashlights, fire extinguishers, tools, first-aid kits, etc. on site in case you and/or employees must shelter in place in your place business during a hurricane.

Living in a coastal state, it’s especially critical to take hurricane preparedness seriously. Do what you can to secure your business and take steps to minimize damage should a hurricane hit. Also, make sure your insurance is sufficient to protect you in the event that you do suffer storm damage. Contact us at The Rubin Group, 877.806.7239 for assistance.

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Is Your Business ADA Compliant?

Is Your Business ADA Compliant?If you think your New York Small Business is immune from Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements because you have just a few employees or none of your employees are disabled, think again. All businesses are required to follow ADA requirements. These requirements exist to protect the huge percentage (about 40%) of Americans who are considered disabled. Is your business ADA compliant? If not, here are some ways to reduce the odds of being hit with a noncompliance lawsuit.

Take All Complaints Seriously

If someone alerts you in writing, via phone, or in person that your business is not ADA-compliant for one reason or another, do not become defensive. Instead, view the notification as an opportunity to bring your business into compliance with the law so you don’t find yourself in an expensive legal battle. Respond promptly and courteously to the information and outline the steps you’ll take to remedy the problem and become compliant. The expense of installing a ramp or adding more handicapped parking spaces pales in comparison to the expense of defending your business in a lawsuit – especially if you lose the lawsuit and the plaintiff is awarded damages.

Hire a Consultant

If you’ve given little or not thought to your business’s ADA compliance, it’s smart to hire a Certified Access Specialist to evaluate your business and provide feedback. This puts you in control and gives you the information you need to gradually bring your business into compliance on your terms and timeframe.

Focus on The Biggest Problem Areas

Most complaints about businesses not complying with ADA requirements focus on lack of access from the parking lot to the inside of the business. Make sure you have enough handicapped parking spaces, ramps or elevators wheelchair users can use as an alternative to stairs, countertops that wheelchairs can fit under, etc. You can find a list of requirements on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website.

In addition to complying with ADA requirements, make sure you’re covered in case a customer or employee (disabled or not) is injured on your premises. Contact us at The Rubin Group, 877.806.7239, for all of your business insurance needs.

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New Overtime Rule: What Your Business Needs to Know

New Overtime Rule What Your Business Needs to KnowRegardless of what industry you’re in, big changes regarding employee compensation are fast approaching. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a rule changing the threshold governing which employees are entitled to overtime compensation. Employers across the country are scrambling to identify ways to reconfigure employees’ roles and schedules in an effort to neutralize the effect of the new rule. As we discuss the new overtime rule, ensure your Employment Practices Liability Insurance is up to date .

The Fine Print

Currently, employees who earn $455 per week ($23,660 per year) are exempt from overtime compensation. When the new DOL rule goes into effect December 1, the exemption criteria skyrockets to $913 per week ($47,476 per year). In other words, soon, many more employees will be entitled to overtime pay for any hours they work beyond 40 per week. Additionally, the rule states that employees will need to earn $134,004 to be considered highly compensated employees. That is a $34,004 increase from the current level. The DOL last changed the overtime threshold in 2004.

Big Decisions Ahead

It’s no surprise that many businesses strongly oppose the new rule. In fact, the National Retail Federation declared them a “career killers.” The fact that the new rules prohibit employers from offering comp time (future days off) in lieu of overtime pay eliminates one option businesses had to avoid overtime pay. Employers seeking to minimize the financial burden of the rules must decide if they are going to reclassify employees, adjust hiring and salary practices, or reallocate scheduling and workloads. With the right approach, the rule may have a silver lining. It could lead to improved employee morale and greater productivity.

Whenever there is a significant change in labor law and employee practices, it’s wise to reevaluate your employment practices liability coverage. Contact us at The Rubin Group, 877.806.7239 for peace of mind that your coverage is sound.

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What You Need to Know About the New SOLAS Weight Requirement

What You Need to Know About the New SOLAS Weight RequirementIf you’re involved in the ocean freight industry, Inland Marine Insurance will protect your financial interests should your vessels be damaged or involved in an accident. Effective July 1, 2016, a new Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention requirement about container weight goes into effect with one key goal: protecting your vessels and crew. Read on to learn what you need to know about the new SOLAS weight requirement.

What is It?

The new SOLAS requirement mandates that all containers must be weighed before they are placed on the vessel. The World Shipping Council has advocated for this container weight requirement for years. Shippers can either weigh the full container or weigh the container and its contents separately and add them together. Weight estimates are not allowed. This requirement is in place because incorrect container weights have a detrimental effect on vessels, terminal equipment, trucks, and the people who work with these containers. The rule seeks to halt the widespread erroneous weight designations on cargo manifests.

Who will be Affected?

Who will be affected by this requirement? Anyone involved in the container supply chain will be impacted. Shippers will be required to weigh containers using certified equipment that meets national calibration standards. An individual representing the shipper must sign and verify the weight. Booking agents will need to know and share the weight with vessel and terminal operators who use container weights to create storage plans.

What Else You Need to Know

Each port’s procedures for declaring containers’ verified weights may vary. Some require including the weight in the instructions to the shipping company. Other require the weight be listed in a weight-certification document. Regardless of the specific requirement for how to communicate the weight, that weight must be a verified gross mass weight rather than an estimated weight. Ports will refuse to load containers without a weight designation.

This update, at first glance, may seem like a hassle to implement. The SOLAS regulation, however, is straightforward, reasonable, and may even reduce harmful risks to your business or employees. If you have questions about whether the SOLAS requirement may affect your marine insurance policy, contact us at The Rubin Group, 877.806.7239. We are always here to help!

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How to Reduce the Risk of a Public Liability Claim

How to Reduce the Risk of a Public Liability ClaimIf you own a business, especially a small business, you wear many hats. You’re in charge of hiring, new business development, IT, accounting, and perhaps even cleaning the office. You don’t have much extra time in the workday to deal with an unpleasant surprise, like a public liability claim. Though you cannot safeguard your business against all risks, but you can mitigate them by instituting a sound Risk Assessment and Management strategy.

What is a Public Liability Claim?

The reasoning behind this type of lawsuit is that customers should be able to assume that when they visit a public place, like a restaurant or grocery store, that they’ll be safe. If a customer becomes injured in a business and can prove that the business could have taken steps to prevent the cause of the accident, that person can file a public liability claim. There’s a legal term, duty of care, that means the owner of occupant of a building must take steps to ensure that anyone who has a legitimate reason to enter that building is safe. If something happens at your business that causes injury to a customer, vendor, employee and it’s proven you were negligent, that means you’ve breached your duty of care. Slip-and-fall injuries are common reasons for public liability claims. If a spill happens at your business and you don’t quickly place barriers or signs alerting people to the danger, and you don’t clean it up quickly, and someone slips and becomes injured, you could be subject to this type of suit.

Reduce Your Risks

Now that you know what a public liability claim is, educate your staff, identify what risks your business is most susceptible to, and develop a plan to reduce them. Having a spill-response plan that is beneficial to any type of business. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls represent the leading cause of hospital emergency room visits, perhaps because they can happen anywhere.

Other risks are more specific. If you run a restaurant and a customer becomes ill after eating food that was stored at an improper temperature, improperly cooked, or cross-contaminated, you could face a public liability claim. If you’re in the construction business and a bystander is injured by falling debris because you didn’t adequately fence off the jobsite, you could be at risk.

Every business has unique risks they must protect against. One thing that all businesses can do to protect themselves is to have a comprehensive insurance policy that covers them should their most probable risks occur. Contact us at The Rubin Group, 877.806.7239, for skilled guidance crafting a policy that covers your unique circumstances.

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