Monday, October 13, 2014

It May Be Too Late!

The subject for this month's blog is a little different than my usual safety topics but equally as important.
Don't be one of those Operators that have to make frantic calls to keep their business open!

The reality is that it can happen when you least expect it. It can start after being notified by the Insurance Agent that the Company writing the policy covering the wash is being non-renewed in the next few days. And why could this happen? Very often it is the result of a carrier deciding that the claims have become too frequent.

There is a mortgage and without evidence of insurance, what do you think the bank will do??
Now the nightmare begins. The Agent often doesn't realize, until very late in the process, that finding another market to write this business is now difficult if not impossible. So, suddenly they hand off the problem to you with very little time to find another option.
Unfortunately, this could mean your only choice will be to find yourself a non-standard insurance company. That normally will leave you with limited coverage, questionable claims assistance, and substantially higher premiums. And, even if you are lucky to find a standard company to write your business, it will most likely be double the cost.
There is a pro-active solution and it's called claims management. Simply, following some of the following steps may help avoid this potential disaster:
  • Request electronic claims reports from the Agent or Company at least every 4 months. This will allow you the ability to review, on a regular basis, anything that has been posted by the insurance company. If there are any claims that you want to dispute, this provides enough time for a discussion before the renewal comes up. You should note that most paid claims are settled for the full amount even though there may be a deductible. The insurance company then in turn bills for the deductible at a later date. For instance, if you have a $1000 deductible for property damage to customers vehicles and you incur 3 claims you can expect a $3,000 bill in your future. This can be a real shock, especially if you are unaware of the claims!
  • When an incident is reported, it is important that a report be filed as soon as possible. Timely documentation is extremely critical to ensure the most favorable outcome for the customer, employee and the insurance company.
  • Not all insurance companies have the same expertise with handling claims in a particular industry group so, do not assume that your carrier will or can fight to deny paying questionable cases. To help mitigate these circumstances, it is often prudent to be personally involved in each case and provide as much information as possible to your claims examiner. The more you cooperate, the better chance you will have of having a positive result.
  • Record all incidents, no matter how small or incidental it might seem. This is important from the standpoint of reviewing claims to detect any patterns that might lead to a better understanding of why this loss occurred. The result of this analysis might help you mitigate or eliminate future problems by suggesting changes in processes or procedures.
  • When you do investigate claims that you don't feel are your fault, it is prudent to save all the paper work regarding what happened and include witness reports, police reports, pictures, video and all accident reports. It is a good idea to maintain these records for at least a year.
  • Appoint a claims committee to review all incidents, even if they are not reported to the insurance company.
Start today and implement your claims management plan at the wash. It will help insure your ability to continue to protect your  people and your assets!
A couple of reminders:
  1. For employers with 10 or more employees, there is a change in the injury and illness recording and reporting requirements from OSHA. This becomes effective January 1, 2015 for all work-related accidents. For a complete copy of this rule, click here
  2. Winter will be here soon.  If your location is in an area with snow and ice, get your salt logs ready!
A safe wash protects people and profits!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Crushed Between Two Cars

Finding good material for writing blogs gets tougher as the years fly by. But, as I research the car wash accidents that involve injuries, invariably, the most serious are a result of people being hit by cars. Case in point, a few months ago an employee in Abilene was crushed between two vehicles at a car wash. According to the story from krbc news, an employee lost control of a Van that had been customized to accommodate a handicapped person causing the vehicle to run into another employee standing in front of the car ahead. Fortunately, the injury was not life threatening.
I don't know what protocols, if any, that may have been in place at the location, but this accident clearly illustrates that they weren't followed or didn't have any.  I'm certain that, if they had the opportunity to do this over, it would be different.
Don't wait for a wake- up call.  Take steps now to develop a plan along with the proper training to eliminate or minimize this potential exposure.
Here's a few ideas:
  • Develop a driving program with written policies and procedures
  • Appoint trained designated drivers as the only employees authorized to drive customers cars
  • Enforce specific penalties for any violations to your written procedures
  • Handicapped vehicles should only be operated by trained drivers 
  • Try to avoid stacking cars
  • Employees that are designated drivers should wear distinguishing clothing
  • Drivers should wear shirts or vests that are bright and very visible
  • Establish a consistent training program(the difference between developing the written policies and training is simply, we often have good written procedures that aren’t shared with the employees).
Also, during my research, I came across something that surprised me. It shouldn't have, but it did. It turned up when I typed in car wash injury claims. They call themselves the Car Wash Accident Attorney! Don't be one of their victims, be prepared and eliminate the risk before it becomes a nightmare.
Remember, a safe wash protects people and profits.
What do you do at your wash to prevent driver error?