Miscellaneous

Workers Compensation Benefits

Whenever an employee is injured on the job and they have to file for temporary total benefits they have available to them 104 weeks of paid time.  Anyone insured by their employers’ Workers Compensation policy has had that amount of time since early in January of 1994.  But, on February 28th, that amount of time was ruled as unconstitutional by the First District Court of Appeal.  Unfortunately this ruling is only part of a case brought on by an individual that suffered serious injuries.  Even so, it is possible that this decision could have an impact on workers compensation.

In the case mentioned above, the claimant is a firefighter who became injured while on the job.  He was covered by insurance but the injuries he sustained to his back and to one of his knees were considered severe.  As a result, he had to have surgery and other medical treatments.  His time in the hospital plus the time that he needs to recover has exceeded the allowed 104 weeks.  On top of that he required additional surgery but his time had run out.  According to his doctors it was not yet possible for him to continue his work as a firefighter.  Therefore, he decided to apply for permanent disability benefits.

His request for those benefits was reviewed by the Judge of Compensation Claims but he denied it for 2 reasons.  The first reason was that he had not reached what is called maximum medical improvement (MMI).  His body is still in the process of healing and doctors have not declared that he will never get better than he was at that time.  The second reason is, because he had not been declared as having reached MMI (assuming he does not fully recover) nobody could speculate on how much of a permanent disability he may or may not end up with.  Because of this, it was noted by the JCC that the firefighter falls into a statutory gap, meaning that there are no benefits available to him since he used up his temporary total benefits and has not reached eligibility for total disability benefits.

Apparently, this was not found to be acceptable by the still-recovering firefighter so he appealed the decision.  In the appeal, it was the opinion of the First District Court of Appeal (DCA) that, because of the cap, injured workers are deprived of court access in the administration of justice.  In addition, the cap requires that he stay home from work, go without any wages or disability pay and just wait.  According to the First DCA that goes against the notion of legal or natural justice so they ruled that the current limit of 104 weeks is unconstitutional.

Because of their ruling, the temporary disability benefits cap will revert back to the pre-1994 allowance of 260 weeks.  For the time being, though, everything else will remain as is.  Some anticipate that this decision will cause an appeal to be taken to the Florida Supreme Court, so the ruling may, for 18 – 24 months, hold the decision in abeyance.

Currently, the opinion of the First District Court of Appeals only applies “prospectively” so it cannot be applied to any rulings or findings made final before February 28, 2013 although some are hoping for or expecting the First DCA to come out with similar opinions as time goes on.

If you are in need of a Workers Compensation policy for your employees or if you would like to see if we can help you lower your premium, please give us a call at 305-270-2100.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Driverless Cars And Associated Risks

People seem to love having technological advancements in their car to enhance their driving experience.  But, what if your vehicle could drive itself?  Some car companies are supposedly working on creating driverless cars.

Safety advantages are possible since software can’t get tired, drunk or distracted and the driver could give their undivided attention to work-related tasks or personal phone calls.  As good as this may sound, though, what will happen should driverless cars collide?  Where do you point the finger if human error is not a factor?

Driverless car collisions will most likely cause a rise in product-liability actions.  Therefore, the finger may be pointed at a software failure.  But, if the collision involves a human driver, the first reaction might be to start with the assumption that human error is at fault.

Murphy’s Law

Some might say that all would be just fine with software driving your car for you… yet ‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong’.  Nobody wants to be the victim of a software glitch going 65+ mph on the highway.  Although, with no data, it may be too soon take a stand that software fallibility is more dangerous than human error and bad drivers.

Cyber Risks

Somebody playing with the software could possibly disable brakes, interrupt the car’s interaction with stop signs/stop lights or do something else unspeakable.  An individual could be ‘kidnapped’ by hacking their car, driving it somewhere remote and locking them in until ransom is received.  Another threat is taking control of a car and using it in an act of terrorism.  Who would like to have their car tinkered with by somebody who wants to ensure a collision?

Increased Product-Liability Risks

Currently, lawsuits arise against car manufacturers from events like defective brakes or sudden acceleration.  With driverless cars, people could imagine numerous things that could go wrong.  And in the event of an accident or collision, blame will fall on the software and it’s yet unknown if a glitch or malfunction will be detectable and able to be proven.

One scenario to consider is a person consuming more alcohol than they would normally because they have complete confidence in their driverless car.  If driverless cars are programmed to switch to manual during certain road or weather conditions, this person will be unfit to drive if that switch occurs.  If an accident results, figuring out who or what is to blame could cause quite the headache.

They’re not here yet but with the possibility of driverless cars becoming a reality, there are some things to think about, such as your miami car insurance.  If any kind of glitch or malfunction is possible will car companies update their policies to include coverage, require an endorsement or exclude coverage for any kind of mishap caused by an error in a car’s software?  In the early years of driverless cars, it’s not impossible for car insurance companies to want nothing to do with claims arising from faulty software created by a car manufacturer.  If this happens in the future, it would be wise to find out what is or is not covered if you start salivating over a driverless car.

Sadly, we are unable to answer any questions regarding future cars and what car insurance companies will do in response to future automotive advancements, but if you have any questions that pertain to today’s world, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 305-270-2100.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

Check our Facebook page for home, auto, and business insurance in Miami, FloridaLike us on Facebook!

Storage Items: Are They Insured?

Are you storing important belongings in a storage deposit from your home in the Miami area? Then perhaps you have already thought about searching the right type of insurance for it.

Storage deposits from these areas are used by people whose homes or properties are too small to deposit all their belongings. Very often, these people store valuable items in the storage deposits. These places are used as a practical solution to de-clutter one’s home, this is why it is very important that the objects you store within are insured.

There is no special insurance for storage deposits. Since you are renting the storage units, you don’t actually own them. However, what you can do is you can buy an insurance policy that will cover belongings stored offsite. Having the right type of coverage is your best solution to protect these items.

There are some things to take into consideration when choosing the storage unit for you. These features will determine how much you will pay for insurance. For example, you need to make sure that the units are as safe as possible, and you should also inquire the storage facility about the items they provide coverage for.

Now, there is one other thing you shouldn’t lose track of. Storing items off-site means two things: you either have too many things you can’t throw away, or you don’t think your house is safe enough to store expensive items. If the latter is your case, you will have to inquire about special insurance policies. As your insurance professional about off-premises coverage and tell them about your most valuable items. You will have to create an inventory of all the items you want stored off-premises anyway.

If you want to find out more about off-premises storage insurance solutions, contact an insurance representative from Filer Insurance today.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Smart Phones and Workers Comp

Using smart phones, be it for business or for personal use, is something that is seen everywhere.  You can see people using them at various times of the day whether they are alone or with other people.  With such high popularity, people may even be using them when doing so is not appropriate or acceptable (e.g., a funeral).  It raises a question of whether or not the line separating business from pleasure has been blurred.

Since the use of smart phones increases, the work day for some may be changing to more of an “8 to 8” (half a day) schedule as opposed to more of an “8 to 5” schedule.  Other parts of work have accelerated, such as e-mail, but with phones continually becoming more sophisticated in terms of communication, the ability to “reach out and touch some” has become almost instantaneous with phone calls, texts and e-mailing photos and/or videos from the phone.  With the smart phone possibly blurring the line between work and personal time, this could give some the feeling that they are working every waking hour.

It is possible that an employer not discouraging employees from responding to business communications (e.g., voicemail, e-mail, texts) after office hours could create a scenario in which occupationally-related injuries could occur.  With such common use and reliance on communicating via smart phones, people may be in locations during times when an exposure to a workers compensation loss could occur, yet the insurance company is under the assumption that the owner and employees only work during certain or specified hours of the day.  Some employers may have to consider the possibility that the use of smart phones is redefining the workplace and their workers compensation insurance policy may have to be amended.

In past years, insurance companies offering workers compensation were not very eager to insure businesses that were open late at night or 24 hours a day, but that could be the case with more businesses today with the use of smart phones at any time of day while away from the office.

In a recent study conducted by Accenture, 80% of their respondents were in agreement with the statement that “technology plays an important role in achieving work-life balance”.  On the flip side, though, 70% agreed that “technology brings work into their personal lives”.

It may be prudent for an employer to look into his employees’ business use of their smart phones when they are not on the clock.  The exposure to a workers compensation loss may vary depending on the kind of business that is being conducted but changes might need to be made to the workers compensation policy or with regards to when it is or is not acceptable for employees to be using their smart phone for work.  One option that may be available to some employers is to have it set up so that their staff’s smart devices only sync with the office during set times of the day.

Smart phones have somewhat brought about a new way for people to conduct business even if it is after hours or the time and place is inappropriate.  Some employers may have no concerns, but for those that do, each employer may have their own list of concerns regarding employees handling business outside of official business hours.  If you run a business and have any concerns or questions about your staff working during their personal time, please give us a call at 305-270-2100 to speak with one of our commercial underwriters.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Children At School & Car Insurance

In our last blog we focused on how to know if your son or daughter is still considered a family member and “an insured” under your home insurance policy while they reside in an apartment or dormitory while away at college.  If they are an insured there are things you can do to make sure they are covered should something unforeseen occur.  But, along with where they live, you may have given your children a car while in high school or as a gift for graduation.

To recap from the last blog, if your child moved out and pays for everything with no help from you, they are not considered a family member and not “an insured”.  In this case your homeowners policy offers no coverage for them and they need one of their own.  To take it one step further, your child would also not be “an insured” on your auto insurance policy and they need one of their own.  The only exception is if the car is under your name and not theirs.  They may only have coverage under your policy as a permissive user but only when driving that particular car.  There is a high likelihood that your policy will not cover them as a pedestrian or while inside any other vehicle.

But let us now go under the assumption that your child qualifies as a family member and “an insured”.  Your car insurance company will want them to be a listed driver.  While at college, your son or daughter will have full coverage under your auto policy as a pedestrian and while driving the insured car or even a friend’s car.

In the example of your child driving a friend’s car, let us say they are involved in an accident that results in the injury of another person, an injury to her- or him- self and damage to the car.  The insurance policy for the friend will respond first.  Your policy will come into play if or when the limits of their policy are less than what is needed.  From your auto policy you and your child will be covered with the liability coverage, Personal Injury Protection (if the accident occurs in Florida), Medical Payments, and coverage for physical damage.  Keep in mind, though, that your auto policy is limited to the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and any territories of the U.S.  If your child attends college or travels to anywhere outside of those countries, they are not covered by your car insurance policy.

On the subject of who the car is titled to, it can be easier (and possibly less expensive) if the car is titled to the parents instead of the child.  That way, the car can be on the your policy with no possible need to alter your policy to also cover a family member with their own car or get a separate auto policy for the child.

One thing to think about is your child’s roommate who may or may not have a car of their own.  If they do have one and your child will have, for whatever reason, regular use of the roommate’s vehicle, you might want to consider adding an exclusion on your policy that would exclude your child from any coverage (PIP and Uninsured Motorist may still apply) while driving the roommate’s car.  Otherwise, your policy may cover your child in a vehicle “furnished or available for the regular use of a family member.”  You could also take it one step further by ensuring that the roommate’s car is insured and with limits that would help you feel better about your child driving their car.  Related to this issue would be if someone else drives your child’s car.  A scenario above was what can happen if your child is involved in an accident while driving another’s car.  The tables are turned if your child loans their car to the roommate or a school friend.  Instead of your policy being used for any excess funds it will be the primary policy used.

When a child leaves for college, there is no set strategy or formula to use in an attempt to be prepared for any scenarios that take place.  Your child at school could rent something like skis or jet-skis (coverage may not apply), partake in social activities involving alcohol, skydive and bungee jump (life insurance???), etc.  College can be a fun time in a child’s life but for the parents it could mean a jumble of mixed emotions and concerns.  If you have a child going away to school this August or in the near future, you may have questions regarding what your child is or is not covered for under your car insurance policy.  Or, there may be concerns related to something else that may or may not require another kind of insurance policy, such as your child getting a part-time job.  Please give us a call at 305-270-2100 and we can help you with the answers to your questions.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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