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“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and just five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet

A strong reputation has the potential to be your largest asset, but just one crisis could irrevocably tarnish your image and ruin your business. According to a recent survey from Deloitte, the largest professional services network in the world, 87 percent of business executives believe that reputation is their largest risk area, and only 19 percent of respondents think their business is adequately protected. In order to be prepared, you need to identify and mitigate the potentially devastating risks to your business’s reputation.

Health and safety incidents, product recalls and regulatory investigations are just a few of the incidents that have the potential to damage your reputation; and, now that social media and other online sources have accelerated news coverage, you may only have minutes to respond to a crisis and protect your image. The failure to quickly and effectively address a crisis can result in lost business, litigation, regulatory fines and more.

The Many Forms of Reputational Risk

The damage to a business’s reputation is often the result of other risks. For example, a cyber attack that disrupts your business operations is generally not considered a risk to your reputation. However, an extended disruption could cause customers to think less of your business and its products.

Here is a partial list of risks and events that can cause damage to your reputation:

  • Product recalls or concerns over product quality
  • Allegations of poor or improper business practices
  • Health or safety incidents, involving either employees or customers
  • Regulatory investigations
  • Negative associations with third parties

The Role of Social Media

Social media can be a powerful tool to connect with customers and extend the reach of your business, but it can also be used to quickly spread negative publicity that can severely harm your reputation.

In an increasingly connected world where anyone with a smartphone can act as a journalist, any negative experience a consumer has with your business has the potential to go viral and be seen by thousands—even millions—of people. Make sure that your business has a social media presence that is constantly monitored, and that it quickly responds to any criticism or negative customer experiences in order to maintain your reputation.

Online review services can also damage your reputation and result in lost business. According to Dimensional Research, 90 percent of customers check online reviews before buying products, and 80 percent make decisions based on what they read. Clearly, the best way to ensure that reviews for your products and services are positive is to maintain effective and comprehensive quality control procedures. However, it’s important to regularly check online sources to get feedback on your products, and to identify malicious or fictitious information that could reflect poorly on your image.

Strategies to Lower Reputational Risks

There is no such thing as complete protection from the risks to your reputation, but there are strategies you can use to limit exposure and respond to a potential crisis:

  • Create strong, relevant corporate values: Upper management should create—and regularly communicate—strong corporate values that permeate every level of the business. Though these may be created by upper management, they should reflect the values of all of your employees and stakeholders.
  • Integrate a risk evaluation into business planning: Identify the opportunities, threats and assumptions that accompany your business’s plans and strategies. Don’t assume that longstanding strategies or well-developed plans are free from reputational risks; instead, develop hypothetical scenarios to identify how your reputation could be affected.
  • Promote positive interactions with customers and other stakeholders: You can strengthen your reputation before a crisis occurs by aligning your goals and connecting with your stakeholders. Customers appreciate regular and positive interactions, and you can use social media as a tool to reach out to them.
  • Develop a reputation plan: Train everyone at your company on how to recognize a reputational crisis, and put together a response team. Your plan should identify all potential risks to your reputation and map out a response for each. These responses should include key statements that identify at least three talking points and restate your business’s core values. If a crisis occurs, distribute relevant messages as quickly and widely as possible.

In the event of a crisis, it’s important to respond quickly and decisively:

  • Don’t sacrifice your reputation to protect your finances or products. It’s usually more prudent to recall a dangerous product immediately; for example, if it’s discovered that you delayed a recall at the expense of health or safety, your reputation may suffer a serious blow.
  • Respond to questions and concerns. If you attempt to stay under the radar during or following a crisis, it will only cause negative attention to linger. Instead, respond to any concerns and continue to communicate your corporate values.
  • Always remember the broad range of your reputational risks. Following a crisis, it may seem easy to only focus on preventing a similar incident in the future. Be sure to keep all of your risks in mind.

Limit Your Risks

It’s inevitable that every business will experience some form of reputational damage, but there are ways to limit your exposures and to cover losses. Contact Naught-Naught Agency today to identify your unique risks and protect your business.

Every day, about 90 drivers are killed in motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And, with inclement winter weather making driving conditions more hazardous, that number could worsen. For that reason, be sure to follow these six tips whenever you drive this winter:

  1. Have your vehicle serviced: The cold can have an adverse effect on your vehicle. Before the temperature drops, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop to have the battery, tire treads, coolant hoses and wiper blades inspected.
  2. Assemble a winter emergency kit: In case you get stranded on the side of the road, you will want to have an emergency kit on hand. Your kit should include the following:
  3. Plan ahead: Before you get behind the wheel, check the weather forecast. If possible, prepare an alternate route in case of inclement weather or poor road conditions.
    • • An electric flashlight, spare batteries and flares
    • • Hand warmers and a thick, heavy blanket (ideally wool)
    • • A shovel and ice scraper
    • • Jumper cables
  4. Know your vehicle: Each vehicle handles winter weather conditions differently. Consequently, you should be aware of your vehicle’s capabilities—such as its ability to stop as well as how it handles driving on snow, ice or wet roadways.
  5. Tidy up: Before you get behind the wheel, be sure to clean off any snow or ice that may have accumulated on your vehicle—especially on the headlights and taillights as well as the side mirrors.
  6. Drive smart: Driving in winter weather requires you to adjust certain rules of the road. Some tips to keep in mind:
    • Speed limits are for dry, clear driving conditions. So, it is okay to drive slower than the posted limit.
    • With suspect road conditions, it is advisable to at least double the standard following distance.
    • To help ensure that other motorists are able to see your vehicle, keep your headlights turned on—even during the day.

By following these tips, you should be prepared for driving in any winter weather conditions.

Organizations and individuals will likely face unexpected emergencies – both natural and manmade.  It is vital to have a crisis management plan in place in order to protect you, your employees, your customers and your business facilities, as well as your company’s reputation.

Some of the preparation includes winter storm emergency kits, emergency contact lists, preventing freeze-ups, snow loading and roof collapse as well as post-winter storm procedures.

  1. Secure Supplies and Information
  2. Emergency Contacts

Click here for the complete form from Liberty Mutual 

(Taken from article by Ashley Tate in Thrivent, December, 2015)

Keeping your finances in order doesn’t require countless hours.  Take just one hour a month….that’s all it takes to get your finances in better shape by year’s end.  Use this checklist for 2016, or create one of your own.  The most important to-do??  Just get started!!

  • Review retirement-savings options – Do you have multiple accounts? If so, consider rolling balances into one IRA.  It makes it easier to manage.
  • Protect the people you love – Is your beneficiary information is up to date on insurance policies as well as investment and retirement accounts? This is especially important if you’ve had a major change, like a marriage, divorce or death.
  • Prepare for a spring break getaway – Notify credit card companies when you will be on vacation to avoid a block on cards.
  • Make sure your taxes are right – If you are getting consistent tax refunds, consider changing your deductions and put the excess into an emergency fund or pay down debt.
  • Keep paperwork safe – Make sure all key documents, such as wills and passports, are safe in a fire-proof box or safety deposit box. Compile other key documents (financial statements and insurance contracts) in one place.
  • Set up automatic bill pay – Paying 10 bills a month electronically saves nearly $60 annually. If some don’t allow that, create a calendar reminder to pay electronically on or before the due date.
  • Update auto and home insurance – Report updates to your home such as roof. If comprehensive and collision insurance on a car costs 10% or more of the vehicle’s value, consider carrying liability only on that vehicle.
  • Take stock of big-picture finances – Have an annual or semi-annual meeting with a financial advisor where you can share concerns and ask questions.
  • Use up your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Submit receipts for reimbursement and plan how to use remaining funds by Dec. 31 or by March 15, 2016 if your plan allows this additional time. Figure out if you need to change contributions for 2016 during your open enrollment period.
  • Draft and update your will and other documents – If you have a will, power of attorney or health care directive, look to see if they are still what you want. If you don’t have those items in place, take time this month to get them started.
  • Make it a month of giving – You may give during the year, but if you haven’t, finish annual giving before year’s end. Keep receipts together so you can take the right deductions come tax time.

Check off these to-dos, and you’ll have your finances in better shape by year’s end.

“Phishing,” a type of cyber attack in which a hacker disguises him- or herself as a trusted source online in order to acquire sensitive information, is a common and technologically simple scam that can put your employees and business at risk. However, more resourceful criminals are resorting to a modified and more sophisticated technique called “spear phishing,” in which they use personal information to pose as colleagues or other sources specific to individuals or businesses.

A spear phishing attack is often disguised as a message from a close friend or business partner and is more convincing than a normal phishing attempt; when messages contain personal information, they are much more difficult to identify as malicious.

For businesses, the potential risk of spear phishing is monumental. A report released by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) stated that there were over 120,000 cyber crime-related complaints against businesses last year, resulting in over $800 million lost. A large majority of these attacks can be attributed to spear phishing, since the messages are designed and customized to make victims feel safe and secure.

The Basics of Spear Phishing 

Any personal information that is posted online can potentially be used as bait in a spear phishing attack. The more a criminal learns about a potential victim, the more trustworthy he or she will seem during an attack. Once the apparent source gains the victim’s trust, and there is information within the message that supports the message’s validity, the hacker will usually make a reasonable request, such as following a URL link, supplying usernames and/or passwords, or opening an attachment.

Even if spear phishing perpetrators target just one of your employees, it can put your entire business at risk.

Falling for a spear phishing attack can give a hacker access to personal and financial information across an entire network. And, successful spear phishing attacks oftentimes go unnoticed, which increases the risk of large and continued losses.

How to Protect Your Business 

Though it is difficult to completely avoid the risk that spear phishing attacks pose, there are ways to prevent further damage to your business. Make sure that your employees are aware of these simple techniques:

  •  Never send financial or personal information electronically, even if you know the recipient well. It may be possible for a third party to intercept this information, especially if the recipient is later subject to a spear phishing attack.
  •  Be cautious when you are asked to divulge personal information in an email. Even if it appears to be from a trusted source, it could be a hacker impersonating another person or group.
  •  Only share personal information on secure websites or over the phone. When in a Web browser, you can ensure a website is secure when you see a lock icon in the URL bar, or when an “s” is present in the “https” of a URL. The “s” stands for “secure” at the end of the normal “http”.
  •  Some spear-phishing schemes use telephone numbers, so be sure to never share information over the phone unless you initiate the call to a trusted number.
  •  Never click on links or open attachments from unknown sources. Even opening a file that seems familiar can give a spear phishing attacker access to personal information stored on your device.

 Ensure that your company’s security software is up to date. Firewalls and anti-virus software can help protect against spear phishing attacks.

 Encourage employees to think twice about what they post online. Spear phishing hackers often attain personal information through social media sites. Make sure that employees know how to keep this information private to protect their own security as well as that of your business.

 Regularly check all online accounts and bank statements to ensure that no one has accessed them without authorization.

 Never enter any personal or financial information into a pop-up window or a Web browser.

What to Do If You Suspect a Spear Phishing Attack 

If you believe that your business has been the target of a spear phishing attack, it is important to act quickly to limit your potential losses. The first step should be to immediately change the passwords of any accounts connected to the personal or financial information of your business or its clients, and to obtain a list of recent and pending transactions. It may also be necessary to contact law enforcement.

Next, an internal or third-party IT expert should consulted to pinpoint any vulnerabilities that remain in your business’ network, and he or she can advise you on how to avoid future attacks.

If you have further questions about spear phishing or other types of cyber attacks, or if you would like to discuss potential coverage options to further protect your business, contact Naught-Naught Agency today.

 

Simple strategies small business owners can take to identify and manage top risks,  provided by Naught-Naught Agency

Optimism is the fuel that drives the entrepreneurial spirit, so it isn’t surprising that most small business owners consider themselves optimists. Too much optimism, however, can get a small business owner into trouble. A business plan built solely on the “best case scenario” is like a house of cards—one gust of wind (or fire or wrongful termination lawsuit) and the entire business can come crashing down. That’s why smart business owners temper their innate optimism with a healthy dose of reality. In other words, they learn to manage risk.

The first step in implementing a comprehensive risk management plan is identifying potential risks. To help you get started, we have provided a list of the top 10 threats facing small business owners. As you read through the list, consider the unique risks facing your business and ask yourself whether those risks are being managed effectively.

1. Protecting your Property

Property holdings are often a small business owner’s largest asset. Therefore, for the long-term security of your small business, it is vital that you evaluate potential threats to your property and develop a plan to manage those threats. Begin by taking a complete inventory of all your assets to determine how a loss might affect your business and how much coverage you need. Property coverage can come in many forms to suit your specific needs, but a typical policy will provide the replacement cost value for your building and the actual cash value for your business property.

You have a lot weighing on your budget already, but don’t make the mistake of planning for the “best case scenario” when it comes to your property coverage. Leaving your small business underinsured is a risk too great to take.

2. Business Interruption

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster such as a fire or flood. Is your business prepared to weather the storm if disaster strikes? If a fire causes the [C_Officialname] facility to be temporarily unusable, what would you do? Ideally, you would move to a temporary location while your permanent place of business is being repaired, but traditional Property Insurance does not cover this move or the loss of income while the permanent business location is being repaired. Ill-prepared businesses are often forced to completely shut down operations during repair, which can do irreparable damage to their brand and leave employees without work for extended periods of time. To mitigate this risk, consider adding Business Interruption coverage to your Property Insurance policy. This invaluable, though often overlooked, coverage safeguards your business by covering operating expenses and lost income while the permanent business location is being repaired. This will allow you to maintain payroll and, if needed, reallocate current employees to help with the cleanup effort.

3. Liability Losses

No matter how well you plan, running a small business can be fraught with unexpected surprises—the only way to completely avoid liability is to shutter your business. Smart business owners do the next best thing: protect their assets by carrying adequate Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance coverage. CGL policies provide coverage for claims of bodily injury or other physical injury, personal injury (libel or slander), advertising injury and property damage as a result of your products, premises or operations. A CGL policy with adequate coverage limits enables you to continue normal operations while dealing with real or fraudulent claims of negligence or wrongdoing, and also provides coverage for the cost of defending and settling claims.

4. Key Person Losses

Many small businesses are built around the talents and expertise of a few individuals. If an employee crucial to the functioning of your business departs unexpectedly due to death or injury, would day-to-day operations continue as usual or would disorder and uncertainty ensue? Would you be able to maintain your current level of performance and current revenue stream? How would you cover for the financial loss of the employee or pay for a temporary replacement during his or her recovery? Key Person Insurance can help you answer these questions with confidence. This coverage is designed to provide financial stability in a time of stress and uncertainty, allowing you to keep your business moving forward without missing a beat.

5. Injuries to Employees

Small business owners, especially those with less than 10 employees, often struggle with understanding their employee health and safety obligations. Just like their larger counterparts, small businesses have the same responsibility to indemnify workers who are injured or become ill during the course of their employment. Many businesses do not realize the full effect workplace accidents have on their organization. Beyond initial treatment costs and lost production time, on-the-job injuries have an impact on insurance premiums, which can increase your costs for years to come. Thankfully, by managing exposures and promoting safety, it is possible to control workers’ compensation premiums. Having the proper pre- and post-accident procedures in place can drastically reduce the severity of a workers’ compensation claim, and implementing a comprehensive safety program can reduce the accident rate. Together, these two steps can produce tremendous long-term savings.

6. Managing Electronic Data and Computer Resources

Small businesses often lack a formal IT department or even rudimentary internet security measures, which leaves them vulnerable to unscrupulous cybercriminals searching for an easy target. With an estimated liability of more than $200 per compromised record (multiplied by hundreds or thousands of customer records), the cost of a single data breach incident can be devastating for a small business. If your business stores customer records electronically, it is crucial that you have robust security measures in place. In addition to taking preventative measure to reduce Internet-based exposures, specialized technology coverage, such as Cyber Liability Insurance, can help protect your business against damage from cyber attacks, data breaches and other Internet-based exposures.

7. Environmental Exposures

Think of a business with significant environmental exposures. What comes to mind? Most people think of a large manufacturing, mining or petroleum operation, but these are not the only industries at risk for environmental liability losses. It is important to perform a comprehensive risk analysis to determine your own level of exposure. Keep in mind that because most commercial insurance policies contain pollution exclusions, unless you carry Environmental Insurance, you may be uninsured against significant environmental loss exposures.

8. Employment Practices

From the moment you begin the pre-hiring process until the final goodbyes at the exit interview, you are at risk for a lawsuit. In fact, three out of five employers will be sued by a prospective, current or former employee while they are in business. Although many lawsuits are groundless, defending against them is costly and time-consuming. Your business should take a hard look at whether it can afford to defend itself against accusations of wrongful employment practices. If not, there is an insurance solution called Employment Practices Liability that will protect your company against wrongful termination, discrimination (age, sex, race, disability, etc.) or sexual harassment lawsuits.

9. Contracts

When first starting out, many new business owners simply don’t have the time or expertise to adequately evaluate each clause in everything they’re signing. This oversight, however, can create major problems down the road. In many cases, small businesses become saddled with large additional risks, accepted via risk transfer from savvy suppliers or customers. While it’s tempting to shave costs by skimping on legal fees, making sure your business isn’t accepting additional and unnecessary risk can save you a lot of money over the long haul, both in legal costs and in insurance coverages.

10. Manage Your Supply Chain

Do you rely on one or more third-party suppliers to produce certain components used in your products? If you do, a disaster that interrupts your supplier’s regular business operations could have a crippling effect on your production abilities. Although you should always try to minimize potential liability through contingency planning and other risk management techniques, as supply chains grow across the globe, sometimes there is little you can do about the exposures faced by your suppliers. In a perfect world you could simply avoid doing business with companies that present numerous risks or that are unwilling to conform to your standards, but pricing constraints and niche markets limit the number of potential suppliers to choose from. Supply chain insurance is meant to cover losses you incur as a result of an interruption to your supply chain. Such coverage allows you to work confidently with suppliers who face exposures beyond your control.

Insurance is a key component of any comprehensive risk management plan, but successful risk management also involves prevention, training and contingency planning. Contact Naught-Naught Agency at 573-634-2727 to learn more about the tools and resources we can offer to help you manage risks, control workers’ compensation costs, advance safety and boost employee morale.

Investing the time and money required to maintain and cultivate a positive working relationship with your tenants can be the difference between amicably discussing and settling differences and a costly lawsuit. Working on the relationship also creates value by maximizing tenant cooperation with timely rent payments, property upkeep and longer lease terms.

Screening Potential Tenants

Conducting a background check on prospective tenants is a wise way to ensure a mutually successful experience for you and the applicant, and it is an effective risk management tool. Background checks do present some costs, but the risk of not performing the screening on tenants could have more serious financial consequences, resulting in lost income, property damage and litigation costs. Elements of a thorough background check include:

  • Criminal history
  • Credit check
  • Previous landlord verification
  • Identity verification
  • Employment verification

Take Care of Your Property

Taking measures to properly maintain the premises sends a powerful message to tenants. It proves that you take your role as building manager seriously and encourages them to take pride in the condition of their rented space. Better, it could bolster relationships and lessen the probability that they take legal action in the event of an incident or dispute. Take these measures to be prepared for maintenance issues:

  • Establish a procedure for dealing with maintenance requests that guarantees prompt service to tenant requests and maintenance issues.
  • Create, clearly communicate and promptly enforce policies regarding shared spaces, such as nonsmoking policies.

Security Measures

States and municipalities have differing legislation regarding the duties of building owners and managers. Although you may not be expected to guarantee the safety of tenants, visitors and guests, you must exercise reasonable care to protect them from foreseeable events. What’s more, security measures make tenants feel safe, benefitting your relationship with them and lowering the likelihood of a lawsuit. They can also potentially lower your insurance premiums.

Focus on Customer Service

Taking extra steps to make tenants feel welcome helps to create a cooperative relationship that is unlikely to end in legal litigation. Small gestures like the following can dramatically improve the relationship you have with tenants.

  • Prompt, polite responses to requests
  • Support during moves
  • Clearly outlined policies and swift enforcement for all tenants

Transferring Risk

Even with a positive landlord-tenant relationship, there are potential exposures that must be addressed with well-designed property and liability insurance policies. For more information, contact the insurance professionals at Naught-Naught Agency today.

drone

Posted by Jeanie Clapp in Constructor MagazineCover StoriesFeatures on April 30, 2015

BY KATIE KUEHNER-HEBERT

There is great potential for use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, on construction jobsites for all kinds of purposes – including creating marketing and business development materials, as well as for determining whether work is being performed safely, with quality and in compliance with all regulations. In the future, drones may even be able to haul small parts and handheld tools across jobsites or to high places.

Currently, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is only granting permission to use drones commercially for experimental or exceptional purposes. However, the agency in February proposed a rule to allow those who hold a recreational or sport pilot certificate to operate drones under 55 pounds for “non-recreational operations,” provided they fly in daylight, remain under 400 feet and continuously maintain visual line of sight, among other proposed restrictions.

The rule would allow, but not require, an operator to work with a visual observer who would maintain constant visual contact with the aircraft. The operator would still need to be able to see the drone with unaided vision, except for glasses. The FAA is asking for comments on whether the rules should permit operations beyond line of sight, and if so, what the appropriate limits should be.

The agency is also asking the public to comment on another possible classification, an additional, “more flexible” framework for “micro” drones less than 4.4 pounds, to determine whether the FAA should include this option as part of its final rule.

Experts say the benefits of drone use on construction jobsites would be enormous, whether or not contractors ultimately are able to operate the aerial vehicles in-house or outsource to companies authorized by the FAA.

Javier Irizarry, an associate professor at the School of Building Construction at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, has been conducting research to determine how drones could be integrated into the construction workflow to increase productivity and safety. Irizarry has been partnering with unmanned aerial systems company 3D Robotics in Berkeley, California to conduct experiments on closed jobsites of several members of AGC Georgia.

“It’s all about having a different perspective on the jobsite, and drones enable contractors to view places where they personally cannot go without costly equipment — including logistics, traffic, material delivery and storage, housekeeping on the jobsite,” Irizarry says.

BNBuilders Inc. in Seattle, an AGC of Washington member, previously used drones on jobsites until the FAA put a hold on widespread commercial use until its rules were clarified, says Pete Campbell, safety director.

“We started using drones mostly for generating marketing materials and aerial views of our projects, but in that process we found out that we could use drones for all kinds of things,” Campbell says. “We could take a close-up aerial photo of a concrete pour, to document the locations of post-tension cables, conduits and rebar built into the concrete. It’s relatively difficult to document that without drones, so we were able to take photos with drones, and within minutes photoshop them over as-built plans to determine exactly what is located in the concrete.”

Unmanned aerial vehicles could be the innovative solution to some of construction’s challenges.

Drones could also be used to photograph documentation of steel erectors to determine how much completion there is on steel roofs, and to inspect high roofs without having to actually go up on the roof, he says. Infrared cameras could be installed on the drones to detect problems with water infiltration on building envelopes.

David de Yarza, director of innovation at BNBuilders Inc., said that more vendors are developing drones to be automated, contending it’s safer. Moreover, soon there may even be drones that can change their batteries themselves and then automatically fly over jobsites three or four times a day.

Rob McKinney, safety director, J.M. Wilkerson Construction Co. Inc. of Marietta, Georgia, an AGC Georgia member, says that drones could be used to conduct safety inspections “with a better set of eyes.” “They could also be used to determine whether there are quality issues, such as leakage issues, in places where I can’t easily go to, such as on top of roofs,” McKinney says.

It also could be possible to install thermal imaging cameras on the bottom of drones, to see where there may be a heat loss or an air conditioning loss problem within the envelope of a building, says Cory Montgomery, project manager at R. K. Redding Construction Inc. in Bremen, Georgia, another AGC Georgia member.

For years, contractors have employed helicopter pilots to take photos or create videos of construction progress or completed projects, which typically is very expensive, says James Benham, president of JBKnowledge Inc., an AGC Georgia and TEXO member, in Bryan, Texas. Using drones could be a much less costly alternative.

“Contractors could use these photos and videos for business development pitches, to determine existing conditions before projects start, as well as to monitor progress during construction, and determine results after projects are completed,” Benham says. “Other interesting research includes the use of aerial photography for photogrammetry, and the use of two-dimensional photos to make a 3D point cloud, to model progress on jobsites.”

This also would allow contractors to better compare BIM models, as they could produce 3D point clouds to automatically interpret what has been accomplished, and what was supposed to have been accomplished on any given day on the jobsite, he says. Drones are very well suited for taking these kinds of images, and they can take any degrees. Drones could also take infrared photos and scan jobsites with onboard 3D scanners.

“I feel like SkyCatch is leading the way in this space with a cloud-controlled autonomous drone that even recharges itself and flies all day over a jobsite according to scan areas the user defines in a web browser,” Benham says. “The drone captures images and 3D scans and automatically relays all of this data back to the cloud system to compare, manage, view and measure daily scans and models of the jobsite.”

Other drone manufacturers are considering whether to develop drones that, in the future, could haul cargo across jobsites, Benham says.

“I think we’re years away from drones replacing cranes or cargo-bearing helicopters, but perhaps future drones can handle carrying small parts and small handheld tools,” he says.

Currently, the weight of an average drone ranges from a half a pound to several pounds, so future drones that could haul small parts, tools and construction material would have to have much bigger engines and bigger batteries.

The “touchpoint” between JBKnowledge and drones is through the firm’s SmartReality mobile app, which is augmented reality through the use of handhelds mounted on, or integrated with, drones, Benham says. Drones would be able to fly over jobsites and take photos of laminated paper targets, to render 3D models to scale on a dirt jobsite.

“This is the merging of virtual data with real world imagery, and contractors would be able show these models on their phones with video fed live from the air,” he says. “It’s currently in the early stages, proof of concept internally, but we see a lot of potential in the next two years as the imaging technology improves.”

The base hardware is still needed to get better production-ready positioning systems, Benham says. But currently SmartReality apps are commercially available for use for someone holding their mobile devices and seeing augmented reality near field or using Oculus Rift or Oculus Gear VR to view the models in virtual reality.

JBKnowledge launched the app suite in October 2013 and started selling production projects last April. There are now thousands of registered users of the app, and dozens of projects have been completed.

Ernest Brown, a construction and aviation attorney at the San Francisco law firm, Smith Currie & Hancock LLP, a member of multiple AGC chapters, says that contractors should consider outsourcing drone use to a company that hold FAA’s initial permits for specific uses, such as to perform elevated inspections of power lines or structural steel frame buildings, or to determine waterproofing details on otherwise inaccessible windows.

“Let a fully permitted and aviation-insured company perform these tasks,” Brown says. “Drones currently can’t legally be used for any commercial purpose, so if you are an employee of a construction company and you use a drone in business, then you are breaking the law. You may very well be facing fines and even imprisonment — if you are so unfortunate to be spotted buzzing people in public or crashing a prototype on the White House lawn.”

Several insurance carriers are now offering “one-off” UAV coverage under a separate aviation policy, says John L Babel, senior risk engineering consultant, North American construction at XL Group, an Austin Chapter member.

Such aviation policies cover bodily injury and physical damage, and may also cover consequential damages and catastrophic loss, Babel says. “Companies considering UAV use should examine their CGL policy. Is the UAV considered an ‘excluded aircraft under their CGL policy?” he says. “Many are now considered aircraft.”

Bradley Meinhardt, area president and managing director, aviation, Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc., a member of multiple AGC chapters, says, “If you operate drones for commercial purposes and you do not have the appropriate waiver from the FAA, you risk the potential of the insurance not responding to a claim if the drone causes property damages or bodily injury.”

To address the use of small drones used to document jobsites, the International Organization for Standardization is working on an “unmanned aerial vehicle endorsement” to the contractor’s general liability policy, which is expected for implementation in June, Babel says. This coverage will be for bodily injury and physical damage.

If contractors don’t already use aircraft, or have an aviation policy, they can either ask their insurance broker and carrier for a separate aviation policy, or ask for the ISO UAV endorsement to their general liability policy that would cover the incidental use of drones, he says.

“Contractors will have to decide whether to take on the additional risk of operating UAVs in-house, or subcontracting that work,” Babel says. “Naturally, the subcontractor would have to go through rigorous screening by the contractor to ensure that proper insurance coverage, safety procedures and risk management are in place.”

If the contractor decides to take on the risk of drone operation, there are a “plethora” of issues to consider, including the type of drone needed, pilot training, developing flight plans, operating area, regulations triggered by use of the drone in that area, weather, and other hazards, he says.

“With respect to operator or pilot training, Australia and Canada have very specific training for UAV pilots that does not require the operator to necessarily be a general aviation pilot, but still possess the skill set for understanding civil aviation and national airspace, and hopefully the FAA will require something similar,” Babel says.

 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 240 million registered motor vehicles in the United States, and an estimated one-fourth of those are used for business in some way. If you have employees who use personal vehicles for business use, you could be exposing your business to a significant liability risk.

Even if your employees have Personal Auto Policies (PAPs) for their personal vehicles, in the event of a serious accident that occurs during business use, your business could be sued to collect additional damages.

What is “Business Use”?

Activities that constitute general business use include visiting customers, picking up supplies, attending conferences, and commuting to and from work. For activities like this, the general business use of a personal vehicle is usually covered by a PAP. This is because a policy purchased for a specific vehicle is considered the primary insurance, which covers damages before any other policy takes effect.

An exception to general business use is livery, or carrying goods or people for a fee. Livery includes the delivery of items such as food, flowers, or wholesale or retail items to customers, as well as chauffeur services. Carpooling or ridesharing is not considered livery and is covered under a PAP.

Employees that work from home can still pose a risk if they use personal vehicles for business use. It may be more difficult to ascertain the driving habits of employees that work from home or the operational status of their vehicles. Communicate regularly with these employees concerning your company’s policy for the use of personal vehicles.

Employee PAP Coverage

For employees using their personal vehicles, the primary insurance on the vehicles will likely be their PAPs. You should know how your employees are covered for the business use of their vehicles. Encourage your employees to speak with their PAP carriers to be sure of their coverage and to make it clear to the insurance agents what business activities the vehicles may be used for.

Some PAPs appear to exclude coverage for business use, but they may include broad exceptions for a private passenger automobile, or pickup trucks and vans. However, some policies may be stricter depending on the circumstances. Clarification may prevent complications if a claim must be filed.

Four Ways to Reduce Risk

Though employees’ use of personal automobiles may pose a risk to your business, there are steps you can take to help protect both your employees and your business from liability.

Review driving records and create an approved-driver list: All employees that use a vehicle for business use should be cleared to drive by a manager. This process should include reviewing motor vehicle records and PAP coverages regularly and maintaining records to help reduce risk exposure.

Establish standards for personal vehicles: Even employees without any incidents on their motor vehicle records can be a risk to your business if they are driving personal vehicles that are not properly maintained. Establish company guidelines for maintaining personal vehicles. If employees are compensated for time spent driving or if they routinely use their personal vehicles for business, consider regularly collecting maintenance reports to gauge the reliability of personal vehicles.

Make the company policy clear: After you create guidelines for the use of personal vehicles at your business, be sure to communicate them to your employees in a clear and timely manner. Although it is common to have policies against the use of intoxicating substances or mobile devices while driving, reminding employees of all of your company policies is an effective way to mitigate risk.

Establish rental vehicle policies: The use of rental vehicles for business also presents exposure to risk. It may be beneficial to establish a relationship with a particular rental vehicle agency to determine which vehicles best suit the needs of your business and employees while traveling. You should also give your employees guidelines on which rental vehicle insurance coverages to accept during the rental process.

Obtaining Appropriate Liability Insurance

Additional coverage may be needed if any potential risks from personal auto use threaten your business. A standard Business Auto Policy (BAP) will protect your business from any additional liability after an employee’s PAP has paid for damages related to personal auto use.

Although employees who have personal vehicles should be required to have PAPs, obtaining liability insurance should be a priority to protect your business. In the event of a serious accident, your employees’ PAP coverage may not be adequate to pay for all the damages. Be sure to prepare a list of vehicles that may be used by employees and the type of business they may be used for, and contact Naught-Naught Agency in order to discuss your coverage options.

As you plan for the perpetuation of your business, you may want to plan to provide for all your children – both those involved in your business as well as those family members who are not.

A business owner can use life insurance to provide the children who are not involved in the business with “equitable” treatment.”

Leaving the business to the active children and life insurance to the inactive children equalizes the inheritances among them. In addition, it avoids the need for the active children to purchase the interests of the inactive children – perhaps at a time when the business may be unable to afford it.

Ask one of the qualified representatives at the NAUGHT-NAUGHT AGENCY to provide you with a customized plan. You may call your representative or simply phone us at 800-392-0423.

We can help.