Today’s marketplace likes green practices, and most companies are striving for a smaller environmental footprint. From printing less to recycling more, businesses are looking more and more green.
However, even green companies make messes. Even if your business operations are as green as can be, you may still need pollution liability coverage. Your standard liability coverage may not cover this type of incident, so you might want to investigate supplementing it with an environmental liability policy.
The professionals at greatest risk (and therefore in greatest need of this coverage) are contractors. Most job sites pose pollution risks, despite the use of best practices. Broken pipes, leaking fuel tanks, oil spills, and other hazards happen, and they can result in contaminated soil and/or potential health hazards. But contractors are not alone. Any company, no matter how careful, can experience a fire or a spill.
This type of insurance is available to property owners, specialists, and just about any company with the potential for a pollution-related problem. Typically it covers cleanup as well as third-party claims of bodily injury and property damage resulting from a pollution or contamination event, whether it happens suddenly or over a period of time.
There also are environmental policies for specific types of businesses, such as errors or omissions policies for environmental consultants, and contractors’ policies for remediation firms. Ask your agent about the coverage and limits that are appropriate for your business. When a pollution disaster strikes, your pollution insurance could mean the difference between cleaning up and shutting down.
HOT BIZ TRENDS
“Watercooler” Moments Are Actually Good for Business
You work. You play. You live in two separate worlds that seldom collide.
This was the way it was for previous generations. Today’s workforce, however, is introducing a new dynamic; the lines between work and home are blurring.
At the heart of this change is the development of close work friendships. Socializing with coworkers is now more than polite conversations during meetings. Millennials, in particular, are sharing their lives with fellow employees, discussing home as well as work with coworkers as they bike together on weekends.
Why should we care? A recent study, conducted by the O.C. Tanner consulting firm, revealed work friendships can actually be good for business. More than 70 percent of those who reported having best friends at work are happy with their jobs, and three-quarters of those with work besties said they feel confident tackling work challenges. Employees without close friends at work said they are far less likely to feel this way.
To take advantage of the blurring line between work and home lives, businesses may want to create more opportunities for employees to develop at-work relationships. This will look different for each company, but fostering an environment of socialization is the goal. Make meetings shorter and break times longer. Invest in team-building exercises. Create fun spaces in the office where employees are encouraged to gather and bounce ideas off one another.
By creating an environment that naturally cultivates more “watercooler” moments, organizations encourage employees to forge inside/outside relationships. And according to the Tanner study, these friendships will pay off in spades.
Seeking Balance? Dump the To-Do List for a “Break” List
If work-life balance is so important, why is it so much work to find that balance?
Most of us struggle with balance, and in an effort to achieve it, we use a strategy we think will work called the to-do list.
It seems that everyone has one that list of things that must be accomplished in a specified time frame. Perhaps these are activities we choose. Or maybe they’re chores foisted upon us by work or family responsibilities. Whatever the case, taming the to-do list is a must-do for most of us. And yet, we don’t.
“It turns out that only 41 percent of items on to-do lists ever get done,” notes Travis Bradberry, who writes for Entrepreneur and some online magazines, and who also recently coauthored a book titled Emotional Intelligence 2.0. What’s more, to-do lists wind up defeating their purpose, says Bradberry: “All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia…Uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them.”
Swap your to-do list for a “break” list
If it’s balance you crave, it’s time to schedule downtime. In a recent Lifehacker post, Adam Dachis tells us you can accomplish much more if you “swap your to-do list for a ‘break list.'”
Jen Uscher, writing for WebMD, is on the same page. In her article “Five Tips for Better Work-Life Balance,” she points out, “Beat burnout by making more time for the activities and people that matter most to you.”
Adds Uscher, “Build downtime into your schedule.” In other words, put your downtime on your to-do list.
Are You Susceptible to a Product Liability Suit?
Does your business manufacture, sell, or distribute products? If so, you are susceptible to a product liability suit. Increasingly, consumers are bringing liability suits, and the awards are high. These days, you need product liability insurance.
Product liability insurance is a business policy that protects your company against claims for loss or injury due to defects or to the failure to provide proper warning about your products. It covers legal fees, medical costs, and awarded damages.
Product claims cover a broad spectrum, but most boil down to a few basic issues. Complaints against your products typically come in one of three forms:
Manufacturing or production flaw: This claim asserts that your production process resulted in a defect that makes the product unsafe.
Design defect: In this case, the product design itself is said to be unsafe.
Defective warning or instruction: This charge claims that your labels provided insufficient warning regarding risk.
It is important to realize that your business can be held responsible for a loss or injury, even if you didn’t manufacture the product. If you were part of the process of placing the product in the consumer’s possession, you can be held legally liable.
The coverage each business needs will vary greatly. It depends on many factors, such as the size and scope of your business, your industry, your location, and the products you produce. These factors will affect the policy terms as well as the cost of coverage.
To ensure your coverage is appropriate, provide detailed information on your business to your insurance provider. Be forewarned: some companies have underreported to save on their premiums and, as a result, have incurred penalties or found they had too little coverage.
Keep costs low by minimizing your risk. This will result in fewer claims and lower premiums. Ensure your manufacturing processes are safe, and maintain detailed records of your procedures. Test products thoroughly. Establish a quality assurance program. Keep accurate logs for all of your processes. If you use any third-party products, request and file warranties for everything.
Maintaining these high standards of safety will demonstrate to your customers and your employees that you adhere to reliable business practices and a type of goodwill that’s priceless from the perspective of today’s engaged consumers.
The business world is a dynamic environment. Your manufacturing operations, sales processes, and products are likely to change over time. It’s wise to review your product liability coverage at least once a year. Consult with your insurance provider to see whether you should change any terms in your policy, including the limits; you may outgrow your policy as your business expands. Be sure to communicate regularly with your agent to keep your policy current with your business needs.
Planning for the future
These best business practices cannot guarantee your business will be lawsuit-free. However, they will provide the best protection possible should you ever face a claim. This allows you to operate without constantly worrying about legal disasters, and will free you to focus on other business opportunities, company growth, and your business’s continued success.
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