Should employees be driving their personal vehicles to the job site?

With a (thankfully) booming construction industry these days and growth even happening outside of our home towns, travel and transportation is more of a focus than ever. Safety should always be the first concern but liability is a close second.

Some business owners may question what the right thing to do is when it comes to employees getting to and from job sites daily. Should they drive their own personal vehicle? Or should you provide a company vehicle? What do either of those scenarios look like from a coverage standpoint to be sure you and your company are protected? Here are a few tips that will hopefully help clarify these uncertainties.

Quite simply, it is not recommended that employees drive their own personal vehicles for work purposes. Work use is typically defined by going to or from a job, transporting tools or equipment, and/or other employees riding along as passengers. An accident occurring in this type of situation could be denied coverage by the vehicle owner’s personal insurance policy as well as the business policy since that vehicle is not listed there and the driver is most likely not listed either.

If you decide to provide a company vehicle to an employee, there are a few steps you can take (in addition to adding them to your policy immediately) to avoid what we call “negligent entrustment.”

  • On the written job application, include a place to list all driving violations or accidents for the past 5 years. You should also include a section authorizing the employer to obtain and review motor vehicle records (MVR) on a regular basis.
  • Before allowing anyone to drive a vehicle for company purposes, have the individual provide proof of a valid driver’s license.
  • If the individual has lived in other states during the previous 5 years, obtain drivers’ license information for those states.
  • Require all drivers to report any violations they receive or accidents they are involved in as soon as possible. This includes incidents involving personal vehicles.
  • Check all drivers’ MVRs at least once a year.

Other important factors include:
• Vehicle Condition and Maintenance
• Driver Training
• Policy of Restricting Personal Use of company vehicles (including those vehicles that go home with employees after work hours)

Evaluating the current status of your company’s fleet safety and risk management program is extremely important. And a step further, making the effort to improve those policies where needed on a regular basis will help limit your company’s exposure to a negligent entrustment judgment, as well as help control your future insurance costs.

Can I have my roof re-shingled or do I have to do a complete roof replacement?

Roofs on homes in Florida are a hot topic of conversation these days. And with the real estate market the way it is now, they can make or break a deal from happening.

Insurance companies in Florida are more strict than ever on the age, condition and life left on a roof. Some may be open to a contractual agreement that the roof will be repaired or replaced within a certain time frame after closing, in an effort to not keep the sale from happening, but most want it done before hand.

There lies some confusion as to whether you can have your roof re-shingled or would need to fully replace the roof, which is typically much more expensive.

In most cases, just re-shingling the roof is not acceptable. The insurance company is looking for the shingles to be replaced down to the plywood rather than just on the surface.

The challenge with re-shingling is:

  1. If you just place new shingles on top of the old shingles, there is not an effective way to identify any issues with the roof decking (the plywood).
  2. If damage occurs in the future, it creates more cost for the insurance company because they are taking off two layers of shingles rather than just one.

Roofing contractors have confirmed that re-shingling may save money or be a temporary band aid for any leaks or issues but long term, it will end up costing more. There are also theories that a roof with two layers such as a re-shingle can hold in more heat, which speeds up deterioration, especially in Florida.

Why home insurance is such a hot topic with house fires

House fires can be one of the scariest and most dangerous events to experience but they serve as unfortunate reminders to homeowners about the importance of adequate home insurance. Although Florida homeowners may be more aware of summer fires that can be brought about during hot months with little rain, winter weather is cause for concern as well. The dry, winter air, as well as the combination of heating devices, holiday decorations and fire places can be a recipe for disaster. And of course there are other things that can start a house fire such as candles, electrical panels, heat lamps, overused or shorting outlets, chargers of all kinds, etc.

Home insurance provides protection for your house and the belongings inside of it in the event of an accidental fire. Your Dwelling coverage is supposed to be at what it would cost to rebuild the entire home (and keep in mind that often times a fire can end in a total loss, even if the flames are contained at some point, due to smoke or extinguisher damage). Then the Personal Property coverage would kick in for all of the furniture, contents, clothing, etc inside. These are two very important coverage limits you want to keep an eye on so they remain sufficient.

Here are a few house fire safety tips: 

Have a plan: Homeowners and their families should have an escape plan in the event a fire occurs while individuals are present.

Check your smoke detectors: If you forgot to check your smoke detectors when you changed your clocks, do so now. No really – get up and check your smoke detectors because if you don’t now, you may not later. It’s a good reminder and rule of thumb to do this twice a year when you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time.

Have your fireplace properly inspected before the start of the winter season and properly clean and put out fires after each use. Never leave burning or hot coals unattended.

Use electrical heating devices with caution. In addition to heating your home safely, if it is the holiday season, be sure to unplug all electrical decor and lights when going to bed or the home is unattended. Double check that your chargers (cell phone, computer, golf cart, gaming systems, etc) are not getting too hot.

Never leave lit candles unattended. Unfortunately, people think candles are safe and will just burn down to the wick and go out when the wax is gone. Or that they’re safe being in a glass jar. This is still a dangerous fire hazard.

Take photos or video of your belongings once a year and store with other important documents or sentimental items in a fireproof safe. This will be hugely helpful in the event of a loss.