October News You Can Use for business

Be Aware of Auto Policy Exclusions

Business auto policies have exclusions that limit coverage. Be aware of the exclusions and compensate for them. The top five are:

  • There is no coverage for injuries to your employees arising out of the use of a covered business auto. This makes workers’ compensation insurance not just a luxury but a necessity.
  • There is no coverage for personal property in your care, custody and control. This is because a property policy typically covers personal property. Business auto policies are liability policies and cover bodily injury and property damage to others.
  • In what is known as the “loading and unloading” exclusion, the business auto policy covers events that occur only during the actual delivery or pickup of property.
  • There is no coverage for pollution losses arising from any pollutants transported, towed or handled by the insured except for pollution stemming from the covered auto’s fuel source and oils or fluids necessary to operate the covered auto. If, however, your insured vehicle hits some other organization’s tanker truck, spilling the tanker’s hazardous cargo, there is coverage for that type of pollution loss.
  • There is no specific coverage for bodily injury or property damage caused by your operation of cherry pickers or similar devices mounted on an auto or truck chassis and used to raise or lower workers. When using this type equipment, your general liability policy usually covers any loss.

Your insurance professional can show you how to fill these exclusion gaps.


HUMAN RESOURCES News Flash: Employee Breaks Actually Increase Productivity

Some bosses believe employee breaks are a waste of time. But a growing body of evidence suggests that taking a constructive break from a mental task improves productivity.

For example, a NASA study of pilots on long-haul flights found that those who took turns having brief midflight naps showed a 16% improvement in reaction times after napping, while non-napping pilots experienced a 34% deterioration in reaction time.

Like muscles, the brain becomes fatigued with sustained use and needs time to recover. A short break can help get the creative juices flowing again. In fact, most people will readily agree their most creative thoughts come during moments of rest or reflection.

As well, there is substantial evidence that physically moving around stimulates blood flow and leads to oxygenation in the brain, which increases energy and attentiveness.

There are numerous productive ways to take a break. The ideas below will help employees regenerate. (Note that checking Facebook isn’t among them.)

  • Take a walk: Get some fresh air and a change of scene.
  • Take a catnap: Close your eyes for 15 or 20 minutes and let your mind wander.
  • Chat with a friend or colleague to get a new perspective on the task at hand.
  • Run an errand or do a nonwork-related chore.
  • Go to the gym and get some exercise.

These and other activities can boost their productivity and sense of well-being. Just be sure your employees don’t use break time as an opportunity to procrastinate.

MANAGEMENT Open Offices: Love ’em or Hate ’em

Some social scientists view the open-space environment as a way to enhance the sense of community and esprit de corps among office employees. They maintain that open configurations promote communication and information exchange among co-workers and thus foster teamwork, innovation and problem solving.

Detractors point out that the relentless noise and constant interruptions endemic to open workplaces take a toll on productivity as well as morale.

Generally, bullpen-style office configurations work best for workplaces that require a high degree of collaboration, such as newsrooms or trading floors. Workers whose jobs entail a great deal of concentration, intense focus and extremely detailed analysis tend to work more efficiently in a private office with a door.

The advantages of open-plan office configurations:

  • They allow for free-flowing communication and interpersonal exchange.
  • They’re cost-effective and help to maximize usable space.
  • They enable shared use of infrastructure and technology.
  • Equipment use is more efficient, and thus the facility is environmentally friendly.

The disadvantages of open office spaces:

  • Noise and distraction levels can affect productivity and morale.
  • It can be difficult to concentrate on high-level tasks.
  • The lack of privacy can create serious stress and insecurity.
  • Germs are easily transmitted, so absenteeism may spike during flu season.

Social scientists and managers have taken note of the complaints about cube farms. Some office designers have begun adding soundproofing materials to cubicles and experimenting with layouts that give workers privacy options, improve acoustics or offer quiet places to retreat.

A few companies have adopted sound-masking techniques, such as a pink-noise system that emits a soft whooshing sound. The system’s sound frequency matches human voices, so speech becomes unintelligible at a distance of about 20 feet.

As well, many cubicle dwellers have devised their own creative ways of dealing with the distractions and lack of privacy:

  • They fortify their partitions with books and papers to create an acoustic barrier.
  • They wear earplugs and headphones. In addition to mitigating noise, visible headphones establish a social wall that makes people less apt to interrupt them unnecessarily.
  • They use fans, desktop fountains, soft music and sounds of nature to soothe and create a buffer. Earphones or low-volume speakers pipe in music or nonintrusive sounds.
  • They are strategic about the location of their cubes, avoiding locations near reception areas and meeting rooms, as well as heavily trafficked corridors and aisles.
  • They avoid locations that make them targets for interruptions, such as spots near the coffeemaker or the copy machine.
  • They work at nonpeak times (early morning or late in the evening) when the office is quieter.
  • They ask if they can telecommute.

INSURANCE Return to Work Programs Reduce Premiums

A workplace injury can be traumatic for your employees and can increase your organization’s premiums. Injuries also decrease productivity through increased absenteeism and lowered morale. The answer for most employers is a well-designed Return to Work (RTW) program.

Studies have repeatedly shown that the longer an injured employee is away from work, the greater his or her chances of never returning. These studies confirm that assisting employees through their transition back to work benefits all stakeholders.

RTW minimizes impact

RTW is a process that returns injured or disabled employees back to work as quickly as possible. RTW programs minimize the impact of workplace injuries for both the employee and the employer.

An RTW program is tailored specifically to the employee and is based on his or her injury as well as current abilities and limitations. It includes a short-term modification of the employee’s former duties, which complies with the directives from the worker’s physician. The goal of the RTW process is to progressively advance an injured employee from absence to limited work status to full working capability. RTW is not a permanent accommodation of a disability.


There are many fears surrounding return to work. Here are a few reasons managers and physicians may feel reluctant to return an injured employee to work:

  • What if the employee reinjures himself or herself?
  • Why should my department pay an employee to be unproductive?
  • Will our managers devote the time needed to monitor injured employees?
  • As a physician, can I trust that your organization will honor the limitations of my return-to-work directive?


The RTW process, which has become well accepted in almost every industry, provides the answer to these fears. If your RTW program is properly developed and implemented, the risks are minimal and the benefits are tremendous.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of an RTW program:

  • RTW provides a clear structure to better manage injuries.
  • Employees feel supported and appreciated; this includes both those with injuries and those impacted by their coworkers’ extended absences.
  • RTW discourages fraudulent claims and malingering.
  • RTW saves the employer money.
  • Employees who might otherwise never return to work find productive employment.

Emergency plan a necessity

One of the key measures of success of an RTW program is the care that is provided after an accident. And that starts well in advance of the event.

You need to have a plan in place that is well understood by supervisors and employees and readily available online and in hard copy. Employees need to know where they can find this plan and how to use it.

When organizations implement RTW programs, they save money, lower lost-work days and retain employees who might otherwise never have returned to work – worthy results for any employer.