A little homework assignment before filling your next prescription

Health care is a hot topic of conversation lately in politics since the Affordable Care Act and now numerous methods of reform are being discussed. But also with regard to the economy since the cost of care seems astronomical lately. Many argue that one of the drivers behind a lot of that cost increase is prescription drugs.

According to data analyzed by 3 Axis Advisors (a health care research firm), retail prices for 460 prescription drugs are increasing by an average of 5.2% in 2020 – more than double the projected rate of inflation for the year. Many manufacturers are raising the prices on existing drugs as well, so it isn’t just new therapies being introduced.

While patients typically don’t have a say in the diagnosis or treatment plans they receive from medical professionals, they do have a choice (and a right) to look into where they get prescription medications from. You, as the patient, owe it to yourself to do a little bit of research and get your drugs at the lowest cost possible to you.

Here are a few ideas to explore so you can be sure you’re doing all that you can as an advocate for yourself:

• Sourcing for lower cost – A common misconception is that one drug will cost the same regardless of where you have the prescription filled… Publix, CVS, Walgreens, Winn Dixie, etc. There are tools such as GoodRx that allow you to search specific drug names and find the cost at different retailers in your area.

• Coupons – There are websites online, the manufacturer itself, and retailer coupons that can provide significant savings. Some pharmacists will check for coupons on your behalf but not always.

• Websites such as Drug Store Unlimited that get drugs from other countries can also save money.

• Patient assistance programs – Ask your doctor about programs available in your area that may offer advice and guidance, more so with Medicare but also for individual health plans.

Just a few minutes of your time before you fill your next prescription could be very beneficial to you.

What exactly is a sinkhole and do I have coverage for it?

With sinkhole activity up all around the state of Florida and especially a few big ones in the news lately, many people are wondering what exactly a sinkhole is and if they have adequate coverage for the damage one could cause.

To first clarify what a sinkhole is – it is a depression, cavity or hole in the ground caused by some sort of collapse. Some believe these are a result of a soil issue, earth movement, nearby development, erosion, or running water such as a broken pipe underground. There are several things that can cause a sinkhole to open up and unfortunately, they can happen rather quickly and unexpectedly. Because there are not always indications or warnings, sinkholes can be very dangerous.

When there are symptoms of sinkhole activity, they typically include the following:

  • cracks in interior joint areas, windows or doors
  • cracks in exterior block or stucco
  • windows and doors become harder to close properly
  • depressions in your yard, other yards near you or the street
  • deep cracks and separation of paved concrete walks and drives
  • circular patches of wilting plants
  • sediment in your water
  • neighbors with confirmed sinkhole activity
  • observation of an actual cavity beginning to open

In order for a claim to be covered as a sinkhole loss, there must be “actual physical damage to the property covered arising out of or caused by sudden settlement or collapse of the earth supporting such property only when such settlements or collapse results from subterranean voids created by the action of water on a limestone or similar rock formation.” More simply stated, not all direct collapses from settlement problems fall within sinkhole coverage.

At this time, most home insurance companies in Florida do not provide sinkhole coverage unless you have an underwriting approved sinkhole inspection.

It is important to note that a sinkhole differs from catastrophic ground cover collapse. This coverage is almost always on home insurance policies in Florida. There are a few things to consider as somewhat of a rule-of-thumb when it comes to catastrophic ground cover collapse such as:

  • the abrupt collapse of the ground cover
  • a depression clearly visible to the naked eye
  • structural damage to the building including foundation
  • the structure being condemned or vacated by government authority or official

Because sinkhole activity has grown to be just about as common as hurricanes and water damage in Florida, it is very important for all home owners to understand what coverage their policy has and pursue endorsements and inspections as they see fit to protect their property and belongings from damage. If you ever suspect sinkhole activity, it is advised to secure the location from people and pets and then contact local authority and your insurance agent.

Are you required to provide paid time off for your employees to vote?

It’s almost Election Day in one of the biggest election years of the recent past. More so than ever, people are emotionally charged and the media is explosive about Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020. It’s been a controversial year, to say the least. While this may cause strain or stress for some, you can help alleviate that from your employees by encouraging and accommodating them to vote.

It may come as a surprise but the majority of states in the U.S. require that employees be given time off to vote and often times, that time is paid. Although Florida is not one of them, it may be wise to formulate a policy outlining your offer and expectations for their voting leave time.

Here are some suggestions that may be helpful. If you have employees outside of Florida or are curious what another state’s requirements are, we’d be happy to share.

• Do not schedule any company or departmental meetings on election day
• Work with your management team to cover absences
• Provide a set amount of paid time off (even if not required in your state and even if it’s just one hour)
• Trust your employees and anticipate long lines, it could take longer than you think
• Be flexible and prepared for last minute voting leave requests

Given the current pandemic situation, it’s more important than ever to BE FLEXIBLE. Schedules may not be what they were before and some staff members may still be working from home or juggling children.

The more supportive you are as they try to fulfil their civic duty on top of an already full plate, the more they will see and appreciate the value in being a part of your team and work family. Be sure to communicate this plan with your team so they know their voice matters and you want it to be heard.

How a proactive strategy on risk management may help lower commercial auto insurance rates

With commercial auto insurance rates consistently increasing, many business owners are looking for any ways to reduce cost, all the while keeping their employees safe. Contrary to what most people realize, this can be addressed proactively rather than reactively.

Here are a few ways companies with commercial automobiles can manage their losses and in turn, keep insurance rates as low as possible…

Make safety a priority: Running MVRs (Motor Vehicle Reports) prior to hiring a prospective employee is huge. This shows you factually how safe of a driver they are, which is also a reflection of their character in many ways. Staying on top of their driving records is equally as important, which can be done with ongoing MVR monitoring.

Offer trainings and education: Distracted and Defensive Driving courses have been proven to be highly effective in encouraging techniques that promote safety and awareness. These can be made as a requirement to obtain access to a company vehicle or, similar to a CE course for a license, something that has to be maintained semi-annually or annually as a refresher. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), distracted driving claims 9 lives per day — approximately 3,500 per year. This data also states that more than 1,000 people are injured daily in accidents in which at least one driver was distracted. In 2019, distracted driving was a reported factor in 8.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes. Defensive driving is just as important in recognizing accident prevention methods, identifying the importance of seat belts and always being fully aware of surroundings.

Update your technology: We recently talked about the “tattle tales of driving habits” in telematics. Front facing cameras and GPS systems are among the most commonly used now that gain popularity by the day. Optimizing technology pays for itself in the real-time data you receive. There are also apps to detect distracted driving or disable certain modes of technology that serve as a distraction.

Vehicle Maintenance program: Maintaining a commercial fleet can be extremely helpful in keeping everyone safe. There are apps and software programs that do the heavy lifting of this and keep check-ups consistent. Without a system in place, it’s essentially unmanageable and will be a major headache, rather than a seamless process you can count on and not have to worry about.

Having a policy in place is one of the most beneficial plans you can make and stick to. Implementing these few things can ultimately reduce the amount of claims for damages and injuries, as well as paint a picture of how you as the business owner view risk management… all things that can come full circle and help bring rates down.

Trade Tip: How to Hire & Retain the Right People in Construction

It’s no secret that in the construction industry, one of the biggest battles business owners face is finding good people and keeping them. In exploring efforts that could enhance the hiring process to be sure you’re getting the right people in the right seat from the get go, we found the following tips:

HIRING NEW FOLKS:
Lean on local or close by schools and industry specific programs. This is a great resource because students graduate and immediately look for employment, oftentimes with the intent to stay in the community where they already have roots. A lot of times, this can start early on at the intern level, which gives a huge opportunity to mentor and mold them to become a more long-term member of your team.
Get plugged in to apprenticeship programs that are gaining huge popularity and admitting more students constantly. These teach the perfect balance of employment and academics in certain trades so that students can learn and work at the same time.
Consider pre-employment physicals or health screenings in addition to the drug testing, background checks, etc that you already have in your hiring process. This can paint a picture of the prospective employee’s overall health and well-being so you can be sure you’re investing in a long-term relationship and a reliable player for your team.

RETAINING THE GOOD ONES:
Focus on culture and how your team feels over what they’re being paid. You may think they care more about their paycheck and yes, benefits are important too, but you might be surprised at how much your team culture and morale means to them. That may be flexible schedules, employee appreciation efforts, team building events or performance-based competitions and incentives.
Emphasize and encourage training. A team that never stops learning together will always succeed. Providing them with courses and material that can make them better and help your team grow together is proof that you want them around for the long haul.
Be transparent and celebrate the small wins. As imperative as it is to be open about and share financial information, the state of the company and growth goals, it also speaks volumes to celebrate and show appreciation for the daily strides in the right direction. The construction industry in general can easily get hung up on measuring success by landing the monster jobs but the little ones count to and as long as you’re transparent and honest, your team will buy in, feel like a piece of the puzzle and genuinely care.
Stay on top of technology and provide your employees what they need to be efficient, safe and profitable. There are many apps and tools out there that could make jobs run more smoothly and most of the time, it’s worth the relatively small upfront cost to invest in those. Making your employees feel as if they have support in that regard alone goes a long way.
Show how much you care. This speaks for itself but is incredibly important and should be a top priority.

It seems to save everyone time, effort, money and headache to get the right people in the right seat early on in the game. Then keep them happy and well taken care of for a long-term relationship of them serving your clients while also fostering a culture of a work family.