It’s been six months since I started this Blog.  During that time, I have enjoyed sharing relevant information and occasionally my thoughts with Georgia’s insurance agents and anyone else who may care to read my posts, and am looking forward to doing so next year.  If you have any ideas on topics that I should address or suggestions for improvements to this Blog, please feel free to share them with me.

For now, best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Holiday Season for you and your families.

Workplace Violence – Does Your Risk Management Assessment Cover It?

The events of last Friday are an uncomfortable reminder of the dangers that everyone in our society faces.  If a mass killing can occur in an elementary school in a small town in Connecticut, it can occur anywhere in our country.  While it is difficult, if not impossible to predict, when and where such an act of seemingly random violence will occur, many studies have been done on the predictors of workplace violence and what can be done to reduce the risk of such violence occurring.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during 2009 and 2010 (the latest years for which hard data is available) 1,060 people were murdered while on the job.  Of that number, 79% were killed with guns.  With a homicide rate of almost 1.5 people per day, any risk management assessment should include the possibility of work place violence and what is being done by the business owner to address that risk.  A few years ago, the Workers Compensation Division of the Texas Department of Insurance issued a fact sheet on what can be done by employers to reduce the risk of workplace violence.  Many  of the suggestions are of the common sense variety (e.g., train managers and supervisors in conflict resolution procedures), but there are some good suggestions for employment policies and security measures that can be implemented. (Click here for the full fact sheet.)

Insurance coverages for workplace violence incidents are available in the specialty markets, as well as from established multi-line carriers like Travelers.  If this subject has not been on the list of risks for producers to discuss with their commercial lines accounts, it should be put on that list.  Unfortunately, as this past year has shown, the risk of violence in our society is not on a downward trend. 


Who Can Issue an Insurance Certificate?

I received a call on the IIAG Free Legal Service line (1-800-IIAG911) last week that posed an interesting question about insurance certificates.  Who can issue them?  The caller had been approached by some third-party vendors who offered to issue insurance certificates required for real estate closings in condominium complexes for which the caller had written the general property and casualty policy. 

The caller was interested in the proposal due to the significant time savings that would result if her agency did not have to issue insurance certificates every time there was a real estate closing in a complex for which the agency had written a policy.  I had never thought about this issue, but a review of the new law on insurance certificates lead me to conclude that only insurance companies or insurance agents could issue such certificates.  My conclusion was based on the definition of “Certificate of Insurance” contained in the law.  It is defined as “any document or instrument, no matter how titled or described, which is prepared or issued by an insurer or insurance producer as evidence of property or casualty insurance coverage.”  Since the law states that any “certificate of insurance” issued “in violation of this Code section shall be null and void and of no force and effect”, if the document in question was not issued by an insurer or insurance agent, it can not be a valid insurance certificate.

I have suggested to Gould Hagler, IIAG’s lobbyist, that this question should be addressed by the Insurance Commissioner in the new regulation regarding insurance certificates on which work is now being done.   I will keep you up to date on the progress of the regulation.  In the meantime, I am interested in any experience agents in Georgia may have had with third-party vendors offering to issue insurance certificates.  Please let me know what your experience has been.

End of The Year Planning – Have You Done Any?

There are now exactly four weeks left in 2012.  Judging by the latest news coming out of Washington, D.C., there does not appear to be any significant movement toward taking action to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that will occur exactly four weeks from tomorrow.  I addressed what that “fiscal cliff” means for agency owners and others in terms of the increases in tax rates on ordinary income, dividends, and capital gains in a blog I posted back in August.  In that post, I advised that those coming tax increases, as well as the new taxes under Obamacare that will take effect on January 1, 2013, should be a big factor for agency owners who were considering whether to sell their agencies this year. (Click here to read the full blog post.)  Nothing has changed since that post to alter my advice.

A couple of months later, I had another blog post regarding a recent article in the Insurance Journal about the impact the coming tax increases will have on all taxpayers.  It was the author’s conclusion that all taxpayers should be looking for ways to accelerate income into 2012 and defer deductions to 2013.  I mentioned one way that could be done by agency owners in my blog post and referred the reader to the complete article for other ways suggested by the author. (Click here to read the full blog post.)  Again nothing has changed since that post to alter the author’s advice.

If you have any questions about my earlier blog posts or the issues raised in them, please feel free to contact me.