The MyWave portal

After glancing at your daily task list,
have you ever wished for access to
a never-ending pool of experienced workers just waiting for you to call them
into action?

MyWave, an outgrowth of ZyWave, a
broker-to-broker Web site designed for
insurance agencies, helps facilitate good
broker/client relationships by offering a
place where portal users can collaborate
with more than 200,000 other HR and
safety professionals to provide solutions
for their benefits and risk management
needs.

“One question I constantly hear from HR
managers is, ‘What is everyone else
doing?’” says Kim Solomon, client services coordinator, Gateway Insurance, Fort
Lauderdale, Fla. “MyWave allows HR
managers to see what other companies
are offering their employees in terms of
benefits, safety guidelines and general
health care questions — and the tools to
implement those things.”

Smart Business recently spoke with
Solomon about why OSHA requirements,
complex and expensive employee benefit
plans and changing legislation make
MyWave a must-have for today’s HR and
safety professionals.

What market forces are leading companies
to try MyWave?

The job market is extremely competitive
right now, so you must find ways to retain
your top talent. Another factor driving
people to find new ideas is the rising cost
of health care and insurance. Your
employees need the most current information to help them make the best health
care decisions. Regulatory requirements
are another market force that companies
deal with every day. MyWave helps you
stay OSHA compliant, so you don’t get hit
with hefty fines.

What are the most utilized and unique functions in the MyWave portal?

MyWave is a Web-based resource for
human resources and safety professionals’ needs. It provides information on legislation, contains employee communications, and offers overall advice and suggestions.

A Mywave portal gives you access to a
free online ‘community’ of more than
200,000 peers. Active discussions take
place daily in the community covering
topics that include benefits legislation,
employee relations, recruitment and risk
management. These discussions help HR
and safety professionals collaborate on
hot-button issues of the day and provide a
forum for these folks to discuss their own
specific situations.

How does MyWave complement an HR
department?

MyWaveHR provides users with a variety of information for human resources
needs, including health-related newsletters that are ready to be printed and given
to employees. MyWaveHR also contains
employer education documents that deal
with educating employers on hiring practices, how to keep employee files, FMLA
legislation and other issues that are part
of an HR professional’s daily tasks. There
is also a resource center with links to various HR and safety Web sites that have been previously researched and thought
to be the best on the Web.

Another useful feature of the MyWave
portal is its repository of benchmark surveys for both safety and HR that are done
periodically and posted for MyWave users
to get a taste of what others around the
country are doing in areas like PTO time,
P7C coverage and what they expect from
an insurance broker.

Are OSHA and other agencies on board with
the MyWave system?

Yes. Within MyWave, there is a module
called MyWave Risk Management.
MyWaveRM has thousands of documents
and resources dealing with OSHA compliance. Customized safety programs and
OSHA safety presentations can be posted
to your company’s personalized site.
Topics include: Access to Employee
Records; Blood Borne Pathogens; Crane
and Hoist; Emergency Action Plan; Fire
Prevention and many more safety related
issues. Each presentation contains handouts, instructor’s notes, a quiz and sign-in
log. MyWave also provides safety manuals
for a variety of industries. These safety
manuals are customized for you and are
ready to use immediately. The system also
tracks and analyzes OSHA recordable
losses. With just a few clicks of the mouse,
you can update and keep track of your
OSHA log, and in the event of an OSHA
inspection, it can be printed in seconds.

Additionally, MyWaveOSHA provides an
OSHA Analysis Report. This feature creates reports for divisional lost and
restricted time, department, injury type,
and body part. Most documents within
MyWave are available both in English and
Spanish.

MyWave takes special precautions to
ensure that your data is protected at all
times. MyWave keeps all user information
confidential and protects this information
against tampering and unauthorized use
or disclosure.

KIM SOLOMON is client services coordinator, Gateway Insurance Agency, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Reach her at (954) 332-1865 or
[email protected].

Demystifying surety bonds

Construction projects can take a nasty
turn in a New York minute. A host of
problems can cause a contractor’s business to fail, leaving projects at a standstill.

“It happens all the time,” says Michael
Popick, AIP, Vice President, Gateway
Insurance, Fort Lauderdale. “When a construction project is not bonded and the
subcontractor fails to complete the job, the
projects stalls, delays are massive, and it
costs a lot more money to find somebody
to complete someone else’s job.”

Smart Business spoke with Popick
about how these issues could be mitigated
with a surety bond and why a number of
misconceptions may be stopping project
owners or contractors from obtaining this
important and accessible insurance.

What is a surety bond?

A bond is a three-party instrument
between the surety, the contractor or general contractor, and the project owner or
financial institution. A bond shows that a
hired contractor has the capital and where-withal to finish the project.

Car accident insurance or hurricane
insurance are anticipated losses that get
factored into underwriting and pricing
these policies. But with surety, claims and
losses are not anticipated. We try to underwrite them out, so if somebody doesn’t
qualify for a bond, we’re not going to give
them a bond.

Are surety bonds always required?

Bonds are required under the Miller Act
for public work valued at over $100,000.
The private sector doesn’t have that
requirement, but many times it is used as a
rule of thumb. Public work is responsive to
guidelines and codes, and it usually is managed by administrators, engineers and
architects with experience in contract
supervision. Private work contracts and
specifications vary widely in form, and if
architects and engineers are not involved,
private owners may not be familiar with
construction operations and procedures.

Why do some projects commence without a
surety bond?

The biggest misconception out there is
that you have to sign away your entire life.
That’s not true. Bonding companies don’t
want to get into your personal home, and
the Florida Homestead Act prohibits that.
The main requirement is that you have to
finish the job at all costs. Another misconception is that there is a mountain of paperwork involved. There are some forms that
have to be filled out and some financial
information that has to be generated, but
there’s not an overwhelming amount of
paperwork. It’s really less than the paperwork associated with a small bid.

Are surety bonds accessible?

Most people can qualify for a surety
bond. We go through an application
process and check references, and credit
checks are done to support character. If
you’ve got bankruptcies, then you’re not a
very good credit risk. Bonding is more of a
line of credit than it is insurance, and
you’re borrowing against that line of credit
every time you issue a bond. Right now, the
surety market wants to write more and
more business, and it is doing what was not typical five or six years ago. Some of the
people we write today were not bondable
just two years ago. Now I can get them a
$3 million bond.

What are components of the qualifying
process?

A common term we use in bonding is
called the ‘Three C’s,’ or character, capacity and capital. We look at character to see
what kind of contractor you are. Do you
pay all of your bills? Do you have a lot of
liens against you? Do you finish jobs on
time? Determining your capacity tells us if
you have the capability to do the job. For
example, if you were renovating kitchens
last week, you probably can’t tackle a multimillion dollar project next week. Finally,
a review of capital reveals if your firm is
financially strong enough so that, in the
event of a surprise, you can still pay sub-contractors and suppliers so everyone
stays happy.

What can smooth the application process?

A CPA — plain and simple. Any company
seeking a bond should consider hiring an
accountant that specializes in construction. That can make or break you.
Bookkeepers are not acceptable because
construction accounting has to be done in
a very certain way to optimize your financial statements.

Who pays for the surety bond?

The contractors usually pass the cost of
the surety bond to the general contractor
or the project owner. Depending on the
rate, they might not be able to pass the
entire amount through because the general
contractor will only give a certain point,
but often the entire amount is passed
through to the ultimate owner or whoever
required the surety bond.

MICHAEL POPICK, AIP, is Vice President, Gateway Insurance
Agency, Fort Lauderdale. Reach him at (925) 332-1875 or
[email protected].

The big chill

Insurance concerns can make even the
coolest HVAC contractors sweat. Areas
of exposure are large, with employees working on other people’s property, operating company vehicles, and working with
ladders and other dangerous equipment.

Fortunately, a recent workers’ compensation code change, coupled with improved
and proactive safety and risk management
strategies, has Sunshine State HVAC contractors putting the chill on certain insurance concerns.

“NCCI and the state of Florida finally listened to the HVAC industry and developed
one code for the air conditioning industry,”
says Joseph Piechura, vice president,
account executive, Gateway Insurance
Agency in Fort Lauderdale. “This code is
subject to the FIorida Contracting Class
Premium Adjustment Program (FCAP) with
a workers’ compensation credit starting at
10 percent and maxing out at 25 percent.”

Smart Business recently spoke with
Piechura about best practices for managing and mitigating HVAC contractor insurance risk.

What special fleet issues challenge HVAC
contractors?

Auto fleets historically have provided special risk management issues for business
owners and high exposure to liability
claims. Air conditioning contractors are no
exception, and they have some special
issues to be underwritten. HVAC vehicles
are mainly used during congested daytime
road conditions, and drivers often are utilizing cell phones for communications.
Additionally, these vehicles can have
restricted or limited visibility and usually
carry tools, ladders and miscellaneous
equipment that may not get properly
secured.

What are other areas of concern?

There is significant general liability exposure to be considered when performing air
conditioning system change-outs. First, a
brief inspection for pre-existing water
damage and existing mold and mildew
conditions can mitigate any subsequent
claims. Second, workers should be mindful of where tools and equipment are placed
while on-site. Third, if using ladders,
employees should confirm adequate room
and angle for ladder safety. They should
always utilize firm, solid surfaces.

What paperwork should be considered?

Issuances of certificates of insurance in a
proper and timely manner can facilitate the
issue of draws and properly define what
the HVAC contractor is responsible for.
The time to determine if the certificate
holder’s requirements can be met is before
signing the contract. General contractors
or developers often seek the help of a
lawyer or risk manager and try to make the
subcontractor responsible for its scope of
the work — plus protecting the master
contractor over and above normal terms.
The insurance provider should be willing
to review the insurance terms of a contract
as part of its agency services.

What are elements of a proactive risk management strategy?

A number of strategies can be employed
to help rein in auto fleet risk. First, it’s crucial that drivers read and understand a policy regarding personal vehicle use, and all
drivers should participate in a mandatory
defensive driving class. It’s also a good idea
to perform periodic motor vehicle records
checks on all drivers to catch recent driving incidents. All employee drivers should
be aware of the acceptable limit for points
on their license and the speeding maximum acceptable on any ticket they receive.
From a maintenance standpoint, performing weekly visual inspections of all units
and following the prescribed maintenance
schedules can best protect your drivers
and the public. Finally, many companies
are utilizing GPS units in their vehicles to
monitor the movement of their drivers.

What if something goes wrong?

We always promote that companies have a
disaster plan that covers workers’ compensation claims, auto claims, general liability
claims — with a focus on a fast response to
any trouble. The first rule of thumb that
should be communicated to all employees
is, in case of an accident, to never admit liability and always report the incident. Every
company vehicle should have a basic accident kit consisting of a disposable camera to
take pictures of an accident and paper to
draw the scene, including street names,
directions of the units involved and the driver information exchange. For a general liability occurrence, it’s important to be patient
with the client and try to understand his or
her situation. In the case of a workers’ compensation claim, employers should always
report the injury. The report can be closed if
there is not payment but failure to report the
claim could cost an employer much more in
the end.

Companies that are based in an area subject to natural disasters should create and
test a comprehensive recovery plan and
should make sure all important documentation can be accessed by key staff members if the worst happens. A good plan
should include strategies that address the
loss of building usage or the loss of electricity and telephone communications.

JOE PIECHURA is vice president, account executive, Gateway
Insurance Agency, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Reach him at (954) 332-1873 or [email protected].

Construction risk primer

Have you ever wondered who’s driving
the 15-ton dump truck that’s filling up
your rearview mirror? If you’re a building contractor and it’s your vehicle,
it’s crucial that you know exactly whom it
is you are putting behind the wheel of this
potentially dangerous equipment.

Perhaps it’s time for a refresher on the
due diligence required for construction
safety and a review of certain cost-saving
measures that can mitigate the expense of
Florida general contractors’ insurance.

“Construction industry risks are unique
and insurance costs are variable,” says
Debra Zambrana, vice president, Gateway
Insurance. “It’s crucial for any general contractor to be competitive and educated in
order to survive in the Florida marketplace.”

Smart Business recently spoke with
Zambrana to review Florida’s construction
risks and some straightforward methods to
help general contractors decrease exposure, save money and promote safety.

What is a major misconception about Florida
construction insurance?

We’re getting client requests to add additional insured endorsements, along with a
waiver of subrogation endorsement. These
two endorsements are redundant because
an insurer can’t sue its own insured, even if
it’s an additional insured. When we explain
this redundancy, often they still want to
include it. They can get a blanket waiver of
subrogation that allows them to do as
many as required during the policy term,
but they have to pay for it.

To illustrate the point, consider a subcon-tractor working for a builder: The subcon-tractor is the named insured. The builder
comes in and says he wants to be listed as
an additional insured with a waiver of subrogation. The subcontractor then pays for
the privilege of being able to authorize
these endorsements, but they’re really not
necessary because they’ve already waived
subrogation since the insurance company
can’t sue its own insured.

Can contractors reduce their workers’ compensation insurance premiums?

Absolutely. The Florida Contracting Classification Premium Adjustment
Program (FCCPAP) helps mitigate some of
the high costs of workers’ compensation
coverage for 87 different contracting classification codes that can qualify. The program, designed to reduce the premium by a
calculated premium credit, is based on a
company’s total payroll divided by the
number of hours its employees worked for
a period. This method encourages employers to pay a better wage so in the long run
they can qualify for the credit.

How do contracts help reduce construction
risks?

We’re talking about subcontractor risk
transfer. A general contractor working
with subcontractors must be able to pass
on his contractual obligations to an at-fault
subcontractor. If a subcontractor is working on his or her job, the general contractor
is going to be involved if there’s a major
accident, no matter who is at fault. Work
orders and purchase orders should never
be used in place of a contract, even if the
contractor and subcontractor have worked
together for years without an incident. A
job should not start unless there is a contract. It protects both sides. An attorney
should review these contracts every year
because laws change.

What if a subcontractor waives workers’
compensation coverage?

General contractors must, along with a
signed contract, insist upon seeing a sub-contractor’s certificate of workers’ compensation coverage. When a general contractor works with an uninsured subcon-tractor, their workers’ compensation policy extends to the sub. In the case of a
workers’ comp audit, if the general contractor cannot provide a certificate of
insurance for every subcontractor they
utilized, they are going to pay a higher premium. A client of mine went through an
audit that revealed they did not have an
insurance certificate for one subcontractor, and it would have cost them $7,400 in
additional premiums had we not noticed
this omission. The subcontractor in question actually did have insurance and provided the certificate.

How can contractors mitigate negligent
entrustment liability?

Negligent entrustment occurs when an
entrustor knew, or should have known, of
an entrustee’s incompetence, inexperience or recklessness, creating a risk to
someone else. Contractors with proactive
training and safety programs can mitigate
this liability. For example, do they offer a
drug-free workplace? Do they drug test
their drivers and all employees? Do they
test drivers for drugs and alcohol in the
case of an accident?

Instituting a driver’s contract is an excellent way to reduce negligent entrustment
liability. All drivers should sign the contract to show they were trained and have
read and understand certain procedures.
Additional programs like fleet safety and
preventative maintenance programs, safety checklists for vehicles and drivers, pre-employment motor vehicle record
checks, driver physicals, driver training
and others help prove you are proactive.

DEBRA ZAMBRANA, MBA, AIAM, is vice president of Gateway
Insurance. Reach her at [email protected] or (954)
332-1860.