Employees

Good group benefits can help you land a great employee. (Image via Inkyhack on Flickr)

There are many factors that contribute to having a happy, productive workforce.  Human resources experts could give you a list a mile long of why things like company culture, employee appreciation, and providing meaningful work for a living wage would be near the top of that list of factors.  Group benefits, the ones that are optional, not the ones required by law, would also be up near the top of the list.  Group coverage often fulfills more than one need for your employees and can be a powerful way to express the company’s gratitude and appreciation for all the work employees do.  Providing these kinds of benefits can even be the thing that sets your company apart in the eyes of potential employees.

Here are 5 reasons small business owners should consider adding group benefits for their employees.

1.     Providing Peace of Mind

Two of the most common group benefits are life insurance and disability insurance, both of which protect the financial future of the employee and/or their family.  With these kinds of group benefits, employees can feel confident in their ability to support their family in trying times.

2.     Cost Control

The group nature of the benefits helps keep the costs down which means the company can offer things like health insurance or dental coverage because they are affordable.  It is also common practice to require that employees contribute toward the cost of many group benefits so that the costs are shared.  When you add in cost savings you may achieve by reducing turnover, benefits make good financial sense for most businesses.

3.     Tailored Solutions

Most insurance companies that provide this type of coverage will allow you to tailor the type of benefits you offer to meet the specific needs of your employees.  Additionally, there are other things, like subsidized gym memberships, which can be counted under the group benefits umbrella that are not related to or provided by an insurance company.

4.     Benefits Support

Many insurance programs offer support for their group benefits product lines that can provide real benefit to the business owner or manager.  When a group benefits package comes with this kind of support, it alleviates the need for HR staff or business owners to take time away from other things in order to answer questions.

5.     Recruiting and Employee Retention

One of the best reasons to offer group benefits is because benefits make employees happy and happy employees don’t leave for other opportunities.   The cost to the company of finding, hiring, and training a new person is likely much higher than the company’s contribution to the cost of benefits for that role.  If you are looking to attract the best and brightest people, you need to offer a work environment that doesn’t just compare with the completion, but surpasses it.  Group benefits can be the thing that turns your job offer into a candidate’s best offer.

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Worker's Compensation

Is your small business properly insured? Image via Flickr

For small business employers, understanding the ins and outs of Workers Compensation coverage and the accompanying legal requirements can be overwhelming.  Here are some of the most common questions asked by employers about Arizona Workers Compensation Insurance.

1.     How does Workers Compensation insurance help my employees?

This type of coverage protects employees who are injured on the job and ensures they will receive compensation for lost wages, payment of related medical expenses, and in some cases, monetary awards for disability and damages.  It is no fault insurance, which means payments are made regardless of who was responsible for causing the accident, injury, or illness.   Workers Compensation insurance also provides death benefits for the survivors of an employee who is killed on the job.

2.     What does Workers Compensation insurance do for me as a business owner?

While the primary intent of Workers Compensation coverage is to protect employees, it also offers some protection for companies and business owners.  If an employee is injured on the job, everything to do with that injury is handled under the Workers Compensation policy.  This means there is no need for litigation between the employee and the company and businesses don’t have to worry about or plan for the potential of huge legal fees associated with litigation.

3.     Who is required to carry Workers Compensation insurance in Arizona?

According to the Industrial Commission of Arizona, the agency responsible for the administration and enforcement of any state law that pertains to the health and safety of employees, all employers in the state are required to secure Workers Compensation coverage for their employees under Arizona Law.  The details of the law and how it is administered and enforced can be found in Article 18, Section 8 of theArizona State Constitution, Chapter 6 of Title 23 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, and the Workers’ Compensation Practice and Procedurerules outlined in the Arizona Administrative Code.

4.     If I am the only person who works for my company, do I need Workers Compensation coverage?

Sole proprietors are not required to carry Workers Compensation coverage for themselves.  However, it may not be a bad idea to cover yourself if you have an occupation that is inherently dangerous or carries a higher than normal probability of injury.

5.     What happens if I don’t have Workers Compensation coverage and an employee is injured on the job?

If one of your employees is injured on the job and you do not have the required Workers Compensation coverage, what happens next is up to the employee.  The employee can file a claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA).  If the claim is accepted by the ICA, the state will process the claim and pay for the medical expenses and lost wages that would normally have been covered by the Workers Compensation insurance policy.  The state will then charge your company the full amount of benefits paid out to the employee plus a penalty that is equal to 10% of the amount paid out or $1,000, whichever is greater.  The other option is a civil suit.  Because you don’t have the protections provided by a Workers Compensation policy, the employee can choose to file a civil suit against the company to recover damages.  The employee’s injury is the only requirement in this type of filing to prove the negligence of the employer.

6.     Are there any penalties for not having Workers Compensation insurance if none of my employees ever file a claim with the state?

According to the ICA, the state can fine your company the same $1,000 penalty for failing to carry the required coverage regardless of whether or not a claim is filed.  If your company is found not to have insurance again within the same 5 year timeframe, the fine increases to $5,000 for the second finding and $10,000 for the third.

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Small Business

Is your small business adequately insured? image via aboutTime on Flickr

One of the unfortunate realities of our world is that the threat of a lawsuit is around every corner and inherent with every employee you hire, customer you serve, or client you sign.  No matter how small your business is, what products you sell, or services you offer, there is some part of your business that is leaving you exposed to a lawsuit that could bankrupt both you and the company.

Here are 7 reasons every business needs to protect itself with the proper types of insurance.

1.     It Only Takes One

It only takes one accident, one broken contract, or one disgruntled worker to put your entire business at risk.  If your company is sued fornegligence, even winning can easily put you out of business because of the amount of money it will cost to mount your defense.

2.    Things Happen

If you own property where customers come to do business, you are open to a personal injury liability claim every minute of every day.  People fall and accidents happen but if they happen on your business premises and you don’t have insurance, you will have to pay for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses out of your own pocket.

3.   Your Corporate Shield May be Flimsier Than You Think

Many small business owners believe they have protected their personal assets from any business liability claims or judgments by using a “corporate shield”.  However, there are circumstances where that protection doesn’t stand up in court and without business insurance, you could literally lose everything you own.

4.     Exclusions Apply

If you have a general liability policy, any employment liability claims may be excluded from that policy.  If you have a commercial liability policy, property loss may be excluded.  If you are a home-based business owner with homeowner’s insurance, it is unlikely that your business assets are covered under that policy.

5.   Losses are Often Out of Your Control

If you walked in tomorrow to find your office had been robbed and every computer was gone, would you be able to replace them today and get back to business?  Losses from theft, natural disaster, and other accidents could bankrupt your business if you don’t have insurance to help replace what is lost.

6.     Accidents Happen

You may be thinking that your auto insurance policy that covers your personal auto will cover you if you are driving your car on company business.  This may or may not be true. If it isn’t true and you are in an accident where you’re at fault, you could find yourself paying for someone else’s pain and suffering out of your own pocket for the rest of your life.

7.   Other People’s Insurance Isn’t Enough

Let’s pretend you have a storefront on Main Street in your town and another person causes an accident which ends with a car coming through the front window and destroying your merchandise.  Their auto policy, if they have one, might cover the damage to the shop and for replacement products, but it may not cover or have enough coverage to compensate you for the income you lost in the four months the shop had to be closed for repairs.

Don’t wait until something happens or procrastinate at least doing something while you figure out whether or not you can afford to purchase the insurance your business needs.  The question you need to focus on is how can you afford not to insure your business.
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