Shrink Control – Part 1

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Shrink Control.” For more information please visit www.ehow.com.

shrinkshutterstock_83201362What is Shrink Control?

Shrink is a term used in retail to describe theft and inventory losses of all kinds. This includes associate theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors and even damaged out merchandise. With millions of dollars lost each year in shrink, companies have created a variety of ways to prevent and reduce shrink, otherwise known as shrink control.Audits and Inventories

Audits and Inventories

inventoryingshutterstock_74309236Large retail corporations tend to perform audits and inventories throughout the year. Inventories tally how much merchandise has been lost from the sales floor, even if it doesn’t pinpoint how the theft occurred. Audits, however, can help identify associate theft. During an audit, employees performing incorrect procedures can be identified, as well as improper paperwork and missing money. Companies perform audits and inventories at different intervals, depending on the needs of the corporation or store.

Shrink Committees

Some retail stores have shrink committees, where groups of associates work together to identify shrink issues in a store and implement procedures to help deal with them. These committees work to prevent things like ticket switching and think of new ways to attach secu

rity devices to merchandise. Shrink committees are also responsible for teaching other associates about shrink control and how each individual can help reduce shrink.

Loss Prevention

Chain stores usually have some sort of security or loss prevention team in place to help deal with shrink. These are teams of detectives and investigators who track shoplifters and help associates prevent theft. Loss Prevention coordinates with local police departments at times, along with working with store associates.

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Security Devices

There are a variety of Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tags available to help control shrink. You will commonly see these on articles of clothing and accessories in shops. They will usually trigger some sort of alarm if you attempt to leave with one of the EAS tags still attached. There are also ink tags, which will spread ink over an item during an attempt to remove it. Some boxed products may have security sensors that appear to be bar codes, but actually set off the door sensors. Other products will be caged in a security case to prevent tampering or theft. All of these devices are a part of shrink control.

Understanding Construction Contractors Insurance- Part 2

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Construction Contractors” For more information please visit www.iii.org.

contractorWhat is a Floater?

An installer’s floater covers all kinds of machinery and equipment during transit, installation and testing at the purchaser’s premises. Even building materials may be covered, but the more usual coverage is for equipment or machinery that only contractors install, such as heating or air conditioning. The policy can be written to cover a single job or on a reporting form, meaning that you provide the insurer with information about each new contract you undertake.

A contractor’s equipment floater insures any type of movable equipment not meant to move on public highways. This includes such things as cranes, cement mixers, engines or power drills.

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A tools and equipment floater covers the insured property, wherever it is used, and may include such items as hand tools, power drills, hoisting machines and power pumps.

While under construction, a building has an ever-increasing value as more of it is completed. To assure the building is covered relative to its value at the time of a loss, there is a special type of policy, known as Builders Risk Insurance. With this policy, if a tornado destroys the building when it is half finished, the policy (if it is for replacement value) covers one-half of the value the building would have had if completed. If a tornado wipes out the building when it is three-fourths finished, the policy covers three-fourths of the completed value. Alternatively, you can report an actual amount for value completed to the insurance company each month. That is the amount of coverage should a loss occur that month.

Understanding Construction Contractors Insurance – Part 1

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Construction Contractors” For more information please visit www.iii.org.

kneeled_handymanYour small construction business needs several of the same insurance coverages as any other business, as well as other types of insurance specific to your industry. If possible, use an insurance agent who has experience with your type of business and who works with insurance companies that specialize in construction risks. Your agent may be able to find policies that package property and liability coverages in one policy specifically to meet the needs of small construction firms.

Property Insurance

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You may need property insurance to cover the real property your company owns and the personal property used in the business, such as office furnishings and computers. Your biggest personal property loss exposures, however, may involve valuable machinery and equipment that moves around from job to job and is not covered by standard property insurance. Such movable property is insured by contracts insurers call “floaters.”

Prepare for Severe Weather This Spring

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Prepare for severe weather, urge NOAA and FEMA.” For more information please visit www.commerce.gov.

lightningSevere weather is far more common than most realize. The five most dangerous severe weather hazards — tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, floods and winter storms, can be powerful and damaging. While spring is considered the height of season, severe weather occurs in every month of the year and in all 50 states. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather related fatalities and more than 2,600 injuries.

“Improvements in the accuracy and timeliness of forecasts and warnings, and the way we communicate weather threats are helping the public stay safe,” said Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “But this information can save lives and property only if individuals and communities know when and how to take proper action. Preparing for severe weather is a component of building a Weather-Ready Nation and is a national priority.”

“Severe weather can happen anytime, anywhere,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “We urge everyone to take steps in advance and to pledge to prepare, take action and share what you have done with others.”

Be a Force of Nature – Every one of us can help our communities prepare for extreme weather by following these guidelines:

  • online house tornadoKnow Your Risk:  The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Every state in the United States has experienced tornadoes and severe weather, so everyone is exposed to some degree of risk. Check the weather forecast regularly and visit Ready.gov/severeweather to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family when severe weather strikes.
  • Take Action, Pledge to Prepare: Be a Force of Nature by making sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather. Pledge to prepare at Ready.gov. Fill out your family communications plan that you can email to yourself, put together an emergency kit, and keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.
  • Be an example: Once you have taken action Be a Force of Nature by telling family, friends, and co-workers to do the same. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered through your social media network. Create a preparedness video and post on a video sharing site; post your story through your social media network and comment on a blog. Technology today makes it easier than ever to be a good example and share the steps you took to help us achieve the vision of a Weather-Ready Nation.

In partnership, NOAA and FEMA have developed a tool kit that can be found online that includes key information related to severe weather.

You can find more information on how to prepare for severe weather at Ready.gov.

Protecting Your Property from High Winds – Remove Trees and Potential Windborne Missiles

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Remove Trees and Potential Windborne Missiles.” For more information please visit www.ready.gov.

trees_blown_onto_home_damage_windshutterstock_93212437If the area immediately surrounding your home contains trees, outbuildings, trash cans, yard debris, or other materials that can be moved by the wind, your house will be more likely to be damaged during a hurricane or tornado. The wind can topple trees onto your house and can pick up smaller objects and drive them through windows and glass doors.
You should ensure that all trees on your property are far enough away to prevent them from damaging your home if they should fall. The distance between the structure and any nearby tree should always be greater than the height the tree will reach when it is fully grown. All storage sheds and other outbuildings should be securely anchored, either to a permanent foundation or with straps and ground anchors. Smaller objects, such as trash cans, barbecue grills, and outdoor furniture should also be anchored or, if you have adequate warning, moved indoors. You should also clear away any debris, such as fallen tree branches.

Benefits of Utilizing This Mitigation Strategy  Helps to prevent damage to a structure and its contents Helps to prevent injuries to occupants

Tips
Keep these points in mind when you remove trees and potential windborne missiles:

  • Remove large trees near your property. They can be extremely dangerous for both you and your home. Therefore, this is a job for a skilled contractor.
  • Use the straps and ground anchors also used for manufactured homes to anchor outbuildings, especially small garden sheds that are usually not placed on a permanent foundation.
  •  Secure outdoor furniture and barbecue grills by bolting them to decks or patios or by attaching them to ground anchors with cables or chains.
  • worker_pointingtobrickwallshutterstock_112356137Secure trash cans with cables or chains attached to ground anchors or wood posts firmly embedded in the ground. Trash can lids should be attached to cans with cables or chains.
  • Contact your local agricultural extension office to get suggestions on which varieties of trees will be less susceptible to storm damage.
  • Contact an arborist for assistance with pruning existing trees properly. Improperly pruning trees or damaging root systems can make them more susceptible to storm damage.

Estimated Cost
If you hire a contractor to remove a large tree, you can expect to pay about $1,000 to $1,500. Having a contractor anchor a storage shed with straps and ground anchors will cost about $100 to $200.

Car Insurance and Deer Accidents

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Car Insurance and Deer Accidents” For more information please visit carinsurance.about.com.

The number of lawsuits The number of deer related accidents spike every fall. Deer auto accident statistics are staggering. Deer have a mind of their own and react unexpectedly. The only thing you can control is your own reaction to seeing a deer in your path. Prepare yourself for a potential deer accident and learn the answers to common questions regarding your insurance.

deer_on_roadshutterstock_111051494Should I swerve to avoid hitting a deer? No! Never swerve to miss hitting a deer. A lot more damage and injury is at stake if you swerve to attempt avoiding impact with a deer. Once you swerve, you are at a much greater risk of hitting oncoming traffic, a tree, light post, mailbox, or ditch. The damage from hitting a deer is often minimal in comparison to hitting one of these other objects. Injury is also a lot more probable when you swerve to miss a deer.

The consequences for swerving to miss a deer can be significant in regards to your insurance policy too. Hitting an inanimate object with your vehicle is a collision. Collision accidents often come with higher deductibles and higher surcharges.

Swerving to miss a deer is a natural reaction. It takes focus to consider all the repercussions of swerving. A deer can cause major damage to your vehicle and cause injury, but the potential is much greater if you plow into a tree. Take your foot off the gas and keep a straight course to reduce damage and higher insurance rates.

Am I covered? Deer accidents are covered under the comprehensive coverage of your insurance policy. If you are unsure of your coverage, locate your declarations page to verify. A quick phone call to your agent or customer service representative can also clarify what coverage you have listed on your vehicle.

Sometimes after a deer accident, a tow may be required. If you have comprehensive coverage, the tow will automatically be covered as part of the claim. If you do not have comprehensive coverage, but have roadside assistance, your tow will be covered. No comprehensive coverage plus no roadside assistance, means you will be on your own for both the damage of your vehicle and the tow.

Do I have a deductible? Comprehensive coverage is often purchased with a deductible. Some companies do offer a zero deductible, so it depends on how you set your policy up. Comprehensive is less expensive than collision and is often sold with a lower deductible. If you have a deductible listed on comprehensive, it will definitely apply to a deer auto accident. Check your declarations page or call your agent to verify what your deductible is listed at.

Do I need a police report? Police reports are handy with any insurance claim; however, usually they are not required for a comprehensive claim to be paid out. It is recommended to get a police report especially if you have hit multiple deer recently. Documentation makes the claim process cut and dry. If you are able to get a report filed with the police department, get it done.

Will it affect my insurance rate? Unfortunately, a definite answer across the board of insurance carriers is not available. Insurance companies have varying rules on comprehensive claims. Many times, comprehensive claims do not affect your insurance rate, but it is something you will have to verify with your carrier.

Deer accidents are frequent in many areas of the U.S. Knowing how to react when you see a deer can minimize your injuries and insurance bills. Know what your coverage is before a claim arises. Understanding how much your deductibles are and when they apply will prevent a lot of hassle. Speak with your agent or customer service representative if you have any questions about your coverage.

Protecting Your Property from High Winds – Reinforce or Replace Garage Doors

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Reinforce or Replace Garage Doors.” For more information please visit www.ready.gov.

garage_interiorshutterstock_85743676High winds from hurricanes and tornadoes can damage garage doors or even blow them in. If wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage. Reinforcing your garage door helps you protect not only your garage, but its contents as well.

The garage door industry strongly recommends that any determination concerning the need to reinforce or replace a garage door be based on an inspection by a trained door systems technician or a qualified professional engineer. Adding weight to a garage door in the form of reinforcement may require an adjustment to or replacement of the door’s counterbalance system. Only a trained door systems technician should perform the adjustments or replacement. An inspection may find that other improvements should be made to an existing door, and if the door is old or damaged, replacement with a stronger door system may be recommended.

Tips:
Keep these points in mind when an inspection by a trained door systems technician or qualified professional engineer has determined that your garage door needs to be reinforced or replaced:

  • Because of the extreme amount of stored energy in the door counterbalance system combined with the potential impact on the counterbalance system’s effectiveness when weight is added to an existing door, reinforcing a garage door is a job that should be done only by a trained door systems technician.
  •  A local garage door professional should be able to assess the wind load requirement of your garage door, which is based on size, local design wind speed, and location on the structure, among other factors. The Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association International (DASMA) can also be of help in this area.
  • Don’t wait until a hurricane warning is issued to have your garage door evaluated; there will probably not be enough time for this service to be provided.
  • Glazing (windows) in a garage door can be broken by windborne debris and should be avoided. If glazing is installed, it should be protected. Your local garage door professional or DASMA may be able to advise you on garage door glazing and the governing requirements.

Estimated Cost
If you hire a contractor to reinforce or replace an existing two-car garage door, you can expect to pay about $600. However, this cost can vary depending on the size and type of door.

What is employment practices liability insurance (EPLI)?

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “What is employment practices liability insurance (EPLI)?” For more information please visit www.iii.org.

woman_office_worker_harassed_bybossshutterstock_62252611EPLI covers businesses against claims by workers that their legal rights as employees of the company have been violated.

The number of lawsuits filed by employees against their employers has been rising. While most suits are filed against large corporations, no company is immune to such lawsuits. Recognizing that smaller companies now need this kind of protection, some insurers provide this coverage as an endorsement to their Businessowners Policy (BOP). An endorsement changes the terms and conditions of the policy. Other companies offer EPLI as a stand-alone coverage.

EPLI provides protection against many kinds of employee lawsuits, including claims of:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Wrongful termination
  • Breach of employment contract
  • Negligent evaluation
  • Failure to employ or promote
  • Wrongful discipline
  • Deprivation of career opportunity
  • Wrongful infliction of emotional distress
  • Mismanagement of employee benefit plans

The cost of EPLI coverage depends on your type of business, the number of employees you have and various risk factors such as whether your company has been sued over employment practices in the past. The policies will reimburse your company against the costs of defending a lawsuit in court and for judgments and settlements. The policy covers legal costs, whether your company wins or loses the suit. Policies also typically do not pay for punitive damages or civil or criminal fines. Liabilities covered by other insurance policies such as workers compensation are excluded from EPLI policies.

To prevent employee lawsuits, educate your managers and employees so that you minimize problems in the first place:

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  • Create effective hiring and screening programs to avoid discrimination in hiring.
  • Post corporate policies throughout the workplace and place them in employee handbooks so policies are clear to everyone.
  • Show employees what steps to take if they are the object of sexual harassment or discrimination by a supervisor. Make sure supervisors know where the company stands on what behaviors are not permissible.
  • Document everything that occurs and the steps your company is taking to prevent and solve employee disputes.

Reducing Motor Vehicle Risks

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Reducing Motor Vehicle Risks.” For more information please visit www.iii.org.

Traffic accidents are the number one cause of on-the-job fatalities.  Effective risk management can reduce the number of injuries and deaths and the potential liability lawsuits that may result from accidents in which  employees were involved.

These are some recommended practices:

  • warped_van_imageBefore allowing anyone to drive company vehicles, check motor vehicle department records in any  state where the person previously lived or worked.
  • Prohibit driving and drinking or use of certain nonprescribed drugs.
  • If intoxication or substance abuse is proven, have a safety-oriented procedure for dealing with it.
  • Implement and enforce a mandatory seat-belt policy for all drivers and passengers.
  • Prohibit employees from using cell phones while driving. Require that they pull off the road before talking on a cell phone.
  • Recognize that aggression and hostility are personality traits that may lead to accidents.  Some drivers may need behavior modification training.
  • Require drivers to report any off-duty accidents to the company.  Review the motor vehicle records of your company drivers at least annually.
  • Limit nonbusiness use of vehicles.
  • Require employees that regularly drive vehicles in the course of their employment to complete a driver-training program that includes: safe following distance, speed awareness and control, and proper backing techniques.
  • Implement a periodic safety inspection and maintenance program for all vehicles used for business purposes.
  • Offer recognition to accident free drivers to encourage better driving overall.
  • Make sure that your work schedule doesn’t pressure drivers to speed, complete paperwork while driving or engage in other poor driving habits.
  • Have a procedure for drivers to follow after any accident.
  • Investigate the causes of all accidents and use the results as a training opportunity for all drivers.
  • Use security measures to prevent theft and vandalism of vehicles stored on your property.

Car Care Spring Maintenance Checklist – Part 3

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Car Care Spring Maintenance Checklist.” For more information please visit www.cbsnews.com.

wrench-and-timing-beltCheck the belts and hoses: A broken belt or hose can cause problems ranging from the loss of power steering to an overheated engine, but these parts are easily overlooked. Look for cracks and peeling on the belts, softening on the hoses – or ask your mechanic to do it for you. “Broken belts are one of motorists’ worst summer breakdown surprises,” says Auto Zone’s Swims.

Test the air conditioning: Turn on the cooler full blast and make sure it reaches that max chill in short order. If you suspect problems, get a mechanic to check it out soon.

Check your oxygen sensor: This one is obscure, but it is important to gas mileage. Because the sensor helps set the fuel mix going into your engine, a faulty one can cause too much gas to be used – cutting your mileage by up to 40%, warns auto repair web site CarMD. Replacing the sensor, which usually costs less than $200, needs to be done every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. And it is the repair problem that most often causes the “Check Engine” warning to light up near your speedometer, CarMD reports.

Getting a spring checkup for your car not only could avoid a summer breakdown, it could save you money on your monthly gas budget.