eavy rain, storm surge, hurricanes and other severe weather events can lead to devastating floods that cause extensive damage. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flood damage totaled over $8 billion in 2017 and many of the affected areas are still recovering from the impact.
After a flood hits your business, you’ll still have expenses such as building leases, employee payrolls and cleanup costs. And because any business interruption means that your revenue will be lowered or gone altogether, you’ll need a source of income quickly.
Although flood insurance is there to help you recover and rebuild your business, you need to know how to make a claim so that you can get all of the coverage you can as soon as possible.
Starting the Claims Process
You can start the claims process immediately after a flood. However, before you call us at (281) 466-1310, you should make sure you have the following information:
When the insurer that issued the flood policy gets notice of your loss, you may be able to qualify for an advance payment before the inspection. However, these payments are at the discretion of the insurer and shouldn’t be relied on when you’re planning your recovery process.
After the claims process has started and local officials have determined that it’s safe, you should return to your property to prepare for an inspection to assess the damage.
Here are some steps to take before an inspection:
The Inspection Process
Once a claims adjuster arrives to inspect your business, make sure to record their contact information. After walking through the National Flood Insurance Program’s claims process, the adjuster will inspect your property and take measurements and pictures of the damage.
If an adjuster finds that your business has extensive damage, you may qualify for an accelerated claims process to help you begin repairs immediately. Your adjuster may also have advice for you based on your specific policy.
Making Repairs and Other Resources
When working with contractors, vendors and third parties after a flood, it’s important to keep copies of all receipts, bank statements, invoices and other documents that show how you paid for repairs. These items may be used as permanent records in case your business floods in the future, and they could affect how much you’re compensated.
Getting your insurance coverage after a flood is key, but you have other resources at your disposal. FEMA’s website has a number of resources and programs you can use to recover. You can also contact TWFG Insurance - Spring / The Woodlands for any questions on your flood policy or for resources to help you reduce your damage with pre-incident plans.
A new year brings new issues for HR professionals to contend with. Some challenges are similar to previous years (overtime uncertainty), while others are more unique and complicated (legal marijuana and employment). Despite inherent difficulties, staying tuned in to these six trends can keep you ahead of the game in 2019. Ignoring them will only put you behind.
Below are the top trends to monitor in the coming months.
1. Opioids, Marijuana and the WorkplaceOpioids have been concerning employers for the last few years, and quietly ravaging the country for even longer. In 2017, the opioid crisis was declared a national emergency due to tens of thousands dying each year from prescription painkillers. Many of these tragedies started with a legal prescription after a common medical procedure.
Beyond their deadly risks, opioids also cause absenteeism and performance issues in the workplace. Opioids are difficult to detect in a drug test and even harder to perceive without one. Knowing this, it’s critical to modernize your drug policy to address opioids and offer resources for alternative pain management strategies.
Legal marijuana is also complicating drug policies. Similar to opioids, marijuana is increasingly difficult to detect, with the growing popularity of oils and edibles. Moreover, the drug is legal for medical use in 30 states, making testing legally tricky.
You may find it easiest to adjust your drug policy to focus on workplace performance. For instance, clearly prohibiting impairment at work or the promotion of drug use through paraphernalia. Adopting a zero-tolerance policy may backfire with state laws, so be sure to have legal counsel review your policy before enforcing it.
2. Leave-related IssuesDid you know that 47 percent of employers were very challenged by cross-state leave laws and 43 percent found it extremely difficult administrating leaves in general, according to a recent XpertHR survey? With ever-expanding legislation, it’s not too surprising.
Multistate businesses must contend with different state laws, but even smaller employers can find themselves juggling laws between localities. Without proper guidance, handling common requests like family leave, sick time and reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act can be a nightmare.
The first thing employers must do is determine which leave laws apply to them, remembering that certain localities might have different rules. Other aspects, like which leaves can be used concurrently and proper leave documentation should come next. And, of course, proper employee communication is a must—not just putting policies in a handbook, but posting leave notices as well.
3. Soaring Health Care CostsPaying over $15,000 annually for each employee’s health care in 2019 sounds like a bad dream, but it’s the real cost trend. With rates surpassing $680 and $20,000 for single and family coverage, respectively, employers are scrambling to cut costs wherever they can. Yet, that can be easier said than done.
Some organizations are encouraging workers to utilize telemedicine or virtual care as a way to trim costs. By “visiting” a doctor online for minor health issues, patients can save a trip to the hospital. And, since it’s virtual, everyone saves money.
Another cost-saving strategy is the consumer driven health plan (CDHP) model. This strategy empowers employees to control their health care decisions and choose care that best suits them. Since employees use a savings account to help offset costs from their high deductible health plans, they are incentivized to pick more affordable options.
4. Wage and Hour ConcernsHire more workers or pay overtime? That’s the question growing businesses must ask themselves. With overtime changes looming in the first quarter of 2019, you may think it’s easier to hire more workers at lower salaries. But, depending on your situation, that may not be true.
Many states are primed to raise their respective minimum wages in 2019. What’s more, the majority of those rates are already higher than the federal minimum. If you’re considering hiring more workers, check to make sure you know how much you’ll have to pay them in your state. The same goes for federal contractors.
As for salaried employees, it looks like we won’t know anything about the overtime rule until at least March 2019. This leaves the current overtime threshold at $23,660. Experts expect that number to increase to between $32,000 and $35,000—far lower than the $47,476 rate initially proposed in 2016. This means you should keep watching for regulatory updates in the coming months.
5. New TechnologiesHR is always looking for new ways to streamline and improve its processes. In 2019, it appears that people analytics and recruiting technologies will be at the forefront of the trend, according to professional HR organization Toolbox.
People analytics is a way of tracking things like employee engagement data, training program effectiveness or ad placement success. The practice examines human data and crunches the numbers so you have a better idea of the return on investment. Need to know if your employees feel appreciated? Want to discover which methods employees are using to communicate with each other? This is where people analytics can help.
Maybe you've never heard of umbrella insurance -- it's not advertised much, and unlike car and homeowners insurance, no one requires you to carry it. But it's something everyone should consider, because for a low premium, it gives you a ton of financial protection against bad luck and unreasonable people.
What is Umbrella Insurance?
Also called excess liability insurance, this policy works with your auto and homeowners or renters insurance. Essentially, it makes sure you're thoroughly protected financially if you're found responsible for injuring another person and a court decides you should pay the resulting expenses.
What does "regular" insurance cover, then?
Your primary insurance (that's your auto, homeowners or renters insurance) typically provides some liability coverage and might be enough to pay for all the damages resulting from a minor incident. However, it probably won't be enough to cover the repercussions of a more severe unexpected accident.
Who should consider umbrella insurance?
Umbrella policies aren't just for wealthy people with lots of assets. Could you afford to lose all the money you've saved, even if it's only a modest sum? And if you don't have any assets to seize, or if your assets aren't valuable enough, umbrella insurance will protect you from having your wages garnished.
What does it cover?
Umbrella insurance typically covers things like third-party claims for medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and attorney's fees. And it doesn't just cover you, the policyholder; it covers everyone in your household. Having a teenage driver is a good reason to have umbrella insurance, for example.
Call TWFG Spring / The Woodlands for your quote today 281-466-1310.
Looking at almost two consecutive years of rising costs, the September 2018 IHS Markit PEG Engineering and Construction Cost Index report revealed an index reading of 62.1, up 3.2 points from August.
The survey’s creators expect overall costs to continue to rise over the next six months, reaching a reading of 79.8, the highest it’s been since 2012.
Contributing to rising costs is damage from hurricanes Florence and Michael, which are expected to put even more demand on construction services while materials and labor remain limited. Although the work will keep contractors busy, homeowners and businesses will have to be patient during the recovery process.
The 25 percent steel tariffs could have a significant impact on construction costs as well. In fact, a Northern Utah wastewater treatment plant saw its price tag increase by $25 million after the tariffs. With steel prices jumping by 31 percent since January, developers may rethink future large-scale projects.
FATIGUE: A JOB SITE HAZARD
A recent survey by the National Safety Council found that 69 percent of workers feel fatigued at work, exposing themselves to on-the-job accidents and injuries.
The workers facing the most risk of fatigue-related accidents are those who do shift work, particularly in industries like construction. In fact, 100 percent of construction workers surveyed reported experiencing at least one fatigue risk factor.
The survey also unveiled a disconnect between employers and employees. Ninety percent of employers recognized fatigue as a safety concern, compared to only 72 percent of employees.
HELP WORKERS FIGHT FATIGUE
It is important for employers in safety-critical industries to make sure their workers understand the risks of fatigue. In order to keep workers safe, encourage them to take the following precautions:
It is also critical to train supervisors to recognize the symptoms of worker fatigue so they can intervene and assign alternate, safer job duties when applicable.
Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help them have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
ALL DRESSED UP:
ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:
HALLOWEEN AND FOOD ALLERGIES:
PUMPKIN PATCHES & FAMILY FALL FESTIVALS
Pumpkin Fest, Field of Screams at P-6 Farms
Visitors to P-6 Farms are in for a whole lot of treats this year; check out the fall festival every weekend, October 6 - November 10, 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM on Saturdays, and noon - 6:00 PM on Sundays. The Fall Festival is a wealth of fun with the corn maze, cow train, candy cannon, hay rides, vintage park, jumping pillow, apple blasters, a hay maze and more! Plus, after dark enter the Field of Screams if you dare! Opening at dark, try to survive the haunted corn maze and the petrifying pallet maze. Ticket prices for all this and more information available on their website https://www.p-6farms.com/
P-6 Farms is located at 963 Poole's Road, Montgomery 77356. Contact them at 936 597-6062.
OAK RIDGE NORTH FALL FESTIVAL
The City of Oak Ridge North will host the fourth Annual Fall Festival on Saturday, October 6 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Along with vendor booths, the free event will feature great food, face painting, balloons, photo booth, pumpkin patch, bounce houses, trackless train, old fashion carnival games, prize giveaways and much more! The festival will be held in Marilyn Edgar Park located at 26531 Hillside Drive in Oak Ridge North. Contact Sarah McClure at firstname.lastname@example.org or 832 381-3215 for more information.
FALL COSTUME & TREAT TRAIL @ THE CAROUSEL
Chick-fil-A at The Woodlands Mall invites everyone young and old to come in costume to The Carousel at The Woodlands Mall on Friday, October 19 from 10:00 - 11:00 AM. Spend time with the Chick-fil-A cows, ridge the carousel, enjoy treats and more! For more information, contact Chick-fil-A The Woodlands at 281 364-0475. The Carousel is located upstairs, near the food court at The Woodlands Mall; 1201 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands 77380.
PUMPKIN FEST @ FAITH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Enjoy a day of family fun at Pumpkin Fest! Pumpkin Fest includes scarecrows, a bounce house, games, a petting zoo, and more, and of course there are photo opportunities for all ages. The Pumpkin Fest hours are 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Saturday, October 20, 2018. Also going on at Faith United Methodist Church is their annual Pumpkin Patch. The Pumpkin Patch is open daily, October 1 - 31, Monday - Friday, October 1 - 12 from noon - dark; October 13 - 31 weekdays and weekends 9:30 AM until dark. Faith United Methodist Church is located at 2403 Rayford Road, Spring 77386. If you would like to have a booth at our Pumpkin Fest, please call Frances Planchard at 281 543-0169.
THE WOODLANDS FALL MARKET & FAIR @ CHRIST CHURCH UNITED METHODIST
Do your Christmas shopping early; bring the kids for fun free festival activities; bring your appetite for a Texas BBQ meal; participate in a silent auction; satisfy your sweet tooth at the bake sale; and get your pumpkins all at the same time! The Woodlands Fall Market & Fair at Christ Church United Methodist Church on Saturday, October 20 from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM includes multiple vendors selling their wares, a bake sale, children's activities and a pumpkin patch - plus a fantastic meal! Christ Church United Methodist is located at 6363 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands 77381. For more information, contact email@example.com.
7 ACRE WOOD - THRILL AT THE MILL - CONROE
The 18th Annual Free Thrill at The Mill and Vendor Market will be held at 7 Acre Wood (4401 N. Frazier, Conroe 77303) on Saturday, October 27, from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Free Admission into park and vendor show, candy, and more. Tickets will be sold for extra rides and activities.
Vendors can apply online for a booth space. Call 936 890-2326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
WOODLANDS CHURCH - FALL FESTIVAL
Celebrate community at The Woodlands Church's annual Fall Festival, held after each service Saturday and Sunday, October 27 and 28; service times are 6:00 PM Saturday, and 9:00, 9:30, and 11:30 AM on Sunday. Bring out the whole family in your favorite costumes and experience the fun-filled festivities! And with the family all together, don't forget to grab some fun, family photos at the Fall photo areas. The Fall Festival includes a pumpkin patch, princesses and your favorite characters to interact with, a hay maze & ride, carnival games, inflatables, and delicious food! Woodlands Church is located at One Fellowship Drive, The Woodlands 77384; if you have questions please contact Hunter, email@example.com.
Did You Know?
One of the most common homeowners insurance claims is completely preventable. It’s not fires or theft; it’s water damage. This is not damage due to flooding, heavy rainstorms or snow on the roof – rather, it’s due to simple maintenance tasks that are often ignored or go unnoticed.
Use these tips to help prevent water damage:
How does water damage occur? It’s simple: homeowners fail to check the connection between the water line and their washing machine or other similar appliances. Eventually, the connection fails, and water leaks into the home until someone discovers the mess.
Do a quick check of all your water lines from time to time, especially in low-traffic areas of the home. If you notice anything suspicious, contact a licensed professional to come take a look immediately.
Recently, researchers at Talos—a cyber intelligence unit of Cisco—warned consumers of malware (malicious software) that specifically targets networking devices. The malware, which is known as VPNFilter, impacts an estimated 500,000 routers worldwide, particularly targeting devices from the following manufacturers:
VPNFilter Could Collect Your Information Without Your Knowledge
Once on your equipment, the malware could stop your router from working, collect information from any systems that run through it and even block network traffic. Experts are concerned over the scope of the attack, as anyone owning a router from the affected manufacturers could be at risk, including businesses and individuals.
Agencies like the FBI have also expressed concern over VPNFilter, as this particular brand of malware can be used in espionage attacks on military, security and other government organizations.
Reduce Your Risk by Resetting Your Router
Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to tell if your router is infected. To protect yourself, it is recommended that you:
For help performing any of the above steps, contact your router manufacturer or click the links provided in this News Brief.
If you’ve had a fire, water damage or another unfortunate event in your home, don’t fret. We have all the information that you need to get your claim underway so you can get your life back to normal.
When you have a homeowners insurance claim, your actions can make all the difference. Here’s how to maneuver through the claims process with ease:
Let us help you throughout the process—contact TWFG Insurance Spring / The Woodlands if you have questions or concerns.
As a means to reduce rising health care costs, innovative solutions are rising to the surface. One such solution is known as direct primary care (DPC).
What is DPC?
In this model, physicians, pediatricians and internists charge a monthly membership fee that covers most of what the average patient needs, including visits and drugs at lower prices, instead of accepting insurance for routine visits. As a result, DPC can provide substantial savings to patients. Consider the following:
Because they don’t operate under the typical fee-for-service model, many DPC providers are able to spend more time with their patients. Research shows that patients who have a good relationship with their doctor receive better care and are happier with the care they receive.
Does DPC replace the need for health insurance?
No, in fact, DPC providers recommend that their patients have some form of insurance to protect themselves in the event of an emergency. Remember, DPC is for primary care. It will not take care of catastrophic injuries, surgeries or trips to the emergency room.
How popular is DPC?
DPC is emerging as a way to combat rising health care costs and maintain a high quality of care. Those who partner with the right providers may find great success with this type of health care model. While DPC has grown steadily in the past few years, the market is still slow. Despite this, DPC providers and supporters are optimistic about its future.
As health care costs continue to climb and the prevalence of expensive chronic conditions increases, the importance of choosing the right doctor and type of care is exemplified. DPC presents a way for employees to receive more personalized health care while containing their health care costs. Moreover, DPC can be an attractive option for employees with high deductible health plans and health savings accounts, as it would provide them with the option of receiving care without paying high out-of-pocket costs.
It may be worth it for you to further investigate this model and evaluate if it’s right for your organization. For more information on DPC, please contact us today.