Business Newsletter - September 2019

imprint

2205 Point Blvd., Suite 200 | Elgin, Illinois 60123
847-741-1000 | www.lundstrominsurance.com | Fax 847-428-8857


"Serving you, your business and your community since 1956"

RM header
Vol. 27 No. 5

Protecting Your Business Against Mold 


One of the worst effects of water damage comes in the form of a fungus called mold. Whenever water enters a building, mold can form on a wide range of materials, including drywall, wood, and carpeting. Because mold survives by decomposing and absorbing organic material, it can cause serious damage within a short period of time.

Besides causing structural damage to buildings, mold can be a source of health problems for occupants, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold can produce allergens, irritants, and potentially toxic substances. People who touch or inhale certain types of mold may experience symptoms such as headaches, sneezing, congestion, shortness of breath, and irritation of the skin and eyes. People with respiratory conditions or compromised immune systems may be most susceptible to mold-related health risks.

Prevention Tips

Given the risks associated with mold, both to your building and to your employees, it is important to fix any water or moisture problems as soon as possible. Preventing mold and its growth in the first place is the best way to avoid costly damage and expensive liability litigation. Here are some tips for minimizing or preventing mold:

  • Reduce humidity. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help keep the humidity level of your building between 30% and 50%, as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Keep drip pans and drain lines clean. Avoid or remove carpeting from damp areas and install exhaust fans in kitchen and bathroom areas. To increase ventilation, open windows when possible.
  • Use mold inhibitors. Regularly clean moisture-prone areas, such as basements and bathrooms. Also, consider using paint that has a mold inhibitor when painting damp areas.
  • Maintain your building. Replace or repair a leaky roof, keep gutters clear, and make sure the ground slopes away from your building to avoid puddles around the foundation. In addition, regularly inspect your plumbing and appliances, and consider replacing water hoses every five years.

Cleaning Up Mold

If you have water damage or excessive moisture in your building, it is important to act quickly. If you dry affected areas within 24 to 48 hours, you may be able to prevent mold growth.

Once mold starts to grow, you may be able to minimize damage by thoroughly cleaning moldy items and drying water-damaged areas. Porous items, such as ceiling tiles, rugs, and papers, may have to be discarded. For harder surfaces, scour the area with detergent and water. When treating mold or using strong cleansers, limit your exposure by wearing a disposable mask or respirator, as well as gloves and goggles. Also, keep the area well ventilated with open windows and fans.

For extensive problems, consider hiring an experienced contractor, especially if there is risk of contamination from sewage or another toxin. If your heating or air conditioning system is harboring mold, keep the system off and seek professional guidance.

Insurance Considerations

Your property insurance policy may provide limited protection for mold damage; it may only cover contamination resulting from a covered peril. Mold damage may be subject to low policy limits, such as $10,000, unless the loss is the result of a covered peril such as fire or lightning, when full coverage applies. For example, if a pipe bursts in your building causing water damage, your insurance would cover the cost of eliminating mold, subject to policy limits. Unless damage results from a sudden or accidental disaster covered under your policy, the cost of treating mold is considered part of the owner's obligation to maintain a building. The expense of treating mold caused by continuous leaks or excessive humidity, for example, would not be covered.

With proper maintenance and regular cleaning, you may be able to prevent mold damage in your building. Be aware of the places mold can hide: underneath wallpaper, in ceiling tiles, under rugs, or behind furniture, where condensation may be trapped. If a room smells musty or you see a watermark, investigate to ensure that a water problem is not lurking nearby.

Three Key Steps for Mold Control

  • Control moisture using dehumidifiers and air conditioners. 
  • Clean up mold promptly and dry out affected areas.
  • Fix water problems.


Additional Insured: Not Just a Name


As a business owner, you may enter into relationships with other businesses, government agencies, and individuals. These relationships may expose you to risk, such as liability caused by another party's negligence or faulty/hazardous products. "Hold harmless" agreements—provisions where one party assumes liability by indemnifying the first party—protect your company against potential liability; however, in many situations, you may want to also be covered as an additional insured by an insurance policy owned by that party.

For example, suppose you're doing business as Contracting Company X, a general contractor, and you enter into a contract with Development Company Y, a high-end building company, to build 15 new homes. You hire Electric Company Z, a subcontractor, to provide the necessary wiring and other electrical work for the project. To protect you from any claims that may arise from Electric Company Z's negligence while working for you, you may want to require Electric Company Z to list you as the additional insured on its insurance policy.

However, your original contract is with Development Company Y. If negligent wiring by Electric Company Z results in a fire, Development Company Y would most likely turn to you for compensation. You may be protected from this claim if you're the additional insured under the policy of Electric Company Z, the named insured.

Potential Concerns

As the additional insured under Electric Company Z's insurance policy, you'll want to be aware of the following four potential concerns:

  1. additional insuredPolicy Cancellation. Electric Company Z, or its insurance company, can cancel, change, or refuse to renew the insurance policy at any time without notice to you as the additional insured. To ensure you're properly notified of such events, consider requesting an insurance certificate that provides a notice period—generally 30 days. If such notice will not be granted, which is common, request that a new certificate be presented periodically until the project or contract is complete.
  2. Inadequate Liability Coverage. Electric Company Z's liability limits may be insufficient to protect your exposure as the additional insured. Consider requesting limits that will help safeguard your interests. In addition, review your own insurance policy to ensure you have adequate liability coverage. Your status as an additional insured on another's policy is an extra level of protection; it should not be considered a substitute for the protection you have with your own insurance provider.
  3. Excess Policy. An insurance company may deem your coverage as the additional insured under Electric Company Z's policy to be in excess of the coverage under your own insurance policy. Thus, your insurance policy would be considered the primary policy for settling claims, and Electric Company Z's policy would take effect only after your own policy limits have been exhausted. To limit your risk, consider requesting an insurance certificate that specifically states Electric Company Z's policy is primary with respect to your status as the additional insured.
  4. Other Exclusions. Coverage for hazards, such as underground construction, landfill operations, or explosives, may be excluded from Electric Company Z's policy and could therefore negate your coverage as the additional insured. To help protect your interests, consider reviewing Electric Company Z's policy for inclusion of this type of coverage or request that the certificate of insurance specifically list the operation in question as covered.

Naming you or your business as the additional insured on another party's insurance policy can help protect you from liability due to negligence or faulty products. However, it may not provide you with all the coverage you need. So, if you're listed as the additional insured on another party's insurance policy, consult with an insurance professional to evaluate your risks and to familiarize yourself with what the policy will cover in various scenarios. For a review of your needs, contact one of our qualified insurance professionals.

 

For Your Information


Business Tools for Native Americans

American Indian, Native Alaskan or Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs seeking to create, develop, or expand a small business can visit the website of the Office of Native American Affairs of the Small Business Administration (SBA) for helpful tools. Specifically, the Native American Small Business Primer provides an overview of basic business principles and an introduction to available SBA resources. Visit www.sba.gov for more information.

Confidential Business Advice

SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" is offering a new easy-to-use online tool that provides small business owners with ideas and guidance on a wide variety of business topics. The SCORE website at www.score.org allows individuals to search for a mentor by industry and state, ask a question, and get a personal reply from a mentor within 48 hours. SCORE mentors are professionals with time-tested knowledge.

 

OSHA Enhances Voluntary Protection Program

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published final changes to its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) that, among other enhancements, allow participation by companies with mobile workforces. It will provide new options for contractors and other employers who may have employees at various locations. Other VPP changes for eligible organizations include a streamlined application process and outreach and mentoring. For more information, visit
www.osha.gov.

 

Sprinklers to the Rescue!


A fire can engulf a home or business in a flash. Searing heat and blinding smoke can make it difficult or impossible to reach doors, windows, or stairways that might otherwise allow for a hasty exit. Sometimes, people do not respond quickly enough to smoke detector alarms, or they may even disregard the warnings as false alarms. Be aware that smoke detectors only alert people of a fire, but do not put the fire out.

Fire sprinklers are designed to control and extinguish fires quickly so that people inside a building may exit safely. Sometimes, if the fire is easily dowsed, there may be little cause for alarm. While smoke detectors provide the initial warning signals, sprinklers can intercept a fire in its early stages.

Technology at Work

Commercial fire sprinkler systems, such as those used in offices, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, malls, and hotels, utilize heavy-duty sprinkler heads capable of spraying water over large areas. Quick-
response sprinkler systems can put out a fire long before it spreads. Because they release only a fraction of the water normally used by firefighters to extinguish a blaze, these systems may minimize water damage.

Adequately installed and maintained automatic sprinkler systems represent a sound loss reduction technique and can result in reduced fire insurance costs. Feel free to contact us to find out more about managing fire risks and discounts that may apply should you install safety equipment, such as sprinklers. Protective measures that you can implement now may pay off in more ways than one.


Did You Know?


Nonprofit Employees Satisfied

According to a recent study from Classy, creator of online fundraising software for nonprofits, 84% of nonprofit employees are both satisfied in their current roles at their organizations and aligned with leadership in their vision for the future. Those involved with their organization's fundraising efforts are especially satisfied, with 92% expressing contentment. This level of satisfaction is much higher than American workers as a whole, with just 51% of employees reporting satisfaction.

Small Business Owners are Confident

The Q2 MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index indicates that employers are experiencing a boost in confidence about the national economy and their financial future. In fact, nearly 69% of small business owners currently have a positive outlook. Results from the survey show an upward trend in confidence across all demographic groups. In fact, 58% of female business owners are optimistic about the economy as compared to 59% of males.

Digital Workers Drive Innovation

According to the findings of a report from Blue Prism, a leader in Robotic Process Automation, 87% of U.S. knowledge workers are comfortable with reskilling in order to work alongside a digital workforce. In addition, 77% of U.S, respondents have already experienced some of their daily tasks being automated. Additionally, nearly a third of U.S. respondents don't believe their businesses can remain competitive with a purely human workforce.

 

Tips on Easing Computer Strain


One by product of modern technology is the strain that computer users experience daily. Here are some tips that may help reduce neck, back, shoulder, and wrist aches that are commonly attributed to keyboard strain:computer strain

  1. Adjust the computer screen so that eyes are level with the menu/tool bar along the top of the screen.
  2. Keep the neck upright and straight. Avoid turning the neck to the side for prolonged periods while working on the computer.
  3. Keep shoulders relaxed.
  4. Keep elbows at a 90° angle, no more.
  5. Sit up straight and keep the lower back slightly curved inward. An ergonomic pillow can offer additional support.
  6. Adjust your seat so thighs are horizontal and feet are flat on the floor. Maintain at least two inches of space between the edge of the seat and the back of the knees.
  7. Use a wrist rest.

As many workers use computers as a part of their daily job tasks, it is important that attention be given to posture and body positioning to avoid physical strain.


Copyright © 2019 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.
The content of this newsletter is taken from sources that are believed to be reliable.
However, this newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal, financial, or professional counsel.


 

 

 

 

 



2205 Point Blvd. Suite 200 | Elgin, IL 60123 | p 847.741.1000 | f 847.428.8857