Make men’s health a conversation starter this ‘Movember’

Shannon-HudspethMen are from Mars, women are from Venus, and gender stereotypes are for a different, less egalitarian era. But one stereotype about men really is true: as a whole, males are much more likely than females to avoid doctors, skip out on routine screenings, and pass on preventative care. Men often don’t see a doctor until real damage is done.

In fact, men are so inclined to skip out on physicals, tests, flu shots, and the like, that a worldwide charity called the Movember Foundation sprang up in 2003 to draw awareness to the health issues faced by men such as prostate and testicular cancer, conditions that are often highly treatable when caught early.

The need for opening up dialogue on men’s health remains great in America. Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh, head of the International Society of Men’s Health and a urologist in New York City, told NBC News at least 40% of American men in their 40s have never had a cholesterol test and one-third skip out on an annual physical.

Eye-opening research by two Princeton economists, Angus Deaton and Anne Case, show that death rates for middle-aged whites in the U.S. are rising dramatically not because of chronic, perennial killers like heart disease and cancer, but rather suicide, drug overdoses, and alcoholic liver disease.

Businessman with back and neck painCultural norms that encourage boys to “tough it out” and “walk off” the pain extend into adulthood, leading many men to shrug off not just physical pain but also psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. The Mayo Clinic notes that these ailments are often undiagnosed in men, who frequently self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, risky sexual activity, and other unhealthy coping mechanisms. This has the unfortunate effect of layering physical risk on top of poorly treated mental conditions, a toxic combination.

Too many men won’t initiate conversation about their health and well-being. Whether rooted in notions of masculinity or downright fear, this self-imposed culture of silence creates the worst kind of risk: that with no possibility of return, and for no good reason.

Employers can make a difference by establishing wellness programs that will help the men (and women!) who work for them stay healthy (which keeps the bottom line healthy, too.)

Loved ones can help by opening up a dialogue. Even a simple, “Hey, how have you been feeling?” can be enough to start the ball rolling.

Shannon Hudspeth, SPHR

Thinking about hiring domestic staff? Following these smart practices will help minimize risk

Steve DavisBusy professionals reaching ever higher levels of success often find that as their assets grow, free time shrinks. To recapture some of life’s most precious and ever dwindling commodity, many families hire domestic staff in the form of housekeepers, nannies, drivers, chefs, and other personal service providers.

Once your family’s needs go beyond just having a weekly cleaning service for some laundry and light dusting, you may be considering retaining full- or part-time employees to tackle a variety of tasks, including childcare and elder adult care.

Before doing so, it pays to have a comprehensive risk management strategy in place that will protect your financial assets and more importantly you and your family members against a new suite of potential perils that come with the territory.

Best practices for hiring domestic help start with proper screening procedures and continue with having the right insurance in place. Indeed, there’s really no difference between hiring someone to help in your personal life versus hiring a new employee at your business.

Too many smart executives, who wouldn’t dream of hiring a key employee who didn’t thI7C1CJFQundergo a substantial vetting process, don’t follow that same practice when hiring someone at home — even though domestic employees may have unlimited access to their home, knowledge of financial affairs, credit/debit card privileges, driving duties, and most importantly, unsupervised responsibility for the safety of children or elderly parents on a daily basis.

Whether you’ve already employed domestic staff or are just thinking about it, here are several aspects to consider, courtesy of our partners at ACE Private Risk Services.

The laws are complex — The U.S. Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, and Fair Labor Standards Act each have a strict set of guidelines for families employing domestic staff to follow. Each state also has its own labor department with guidelines. Violating these guidelines can result in fines and liability lawsuits that are not only costly but damaging to a family’s reputation. Is your new hire an employee or independent contractor? What are the tax implications of hiring a domestic employee? What are your obligations to pay overtime and how is it measured?

You’ll need a team — To answer these important questions and to help with other aspects of hiring domestic help, you should seek guidance from a range of experts, including household risk advisors, attorneys, accountants, employment agencies, background checking firms, identity theft consultants, and insurance agents.

It pays to be thorough — These advisors can help perform a comprehensive screening process that includes substantial background checks, interviews, reference checks, and document validation. In addition, they can write employee contracts and produce an employee manual that clearly spells out expectations for all parties.

You’ll need more than the typical insurance portfolio — Even the best household management practices cannot completely eliminate all risk. Insurance plays a critical role. At Sinclair Risk, we’ve helped many high-achieving families manage risk associated with hiring and employing domestic staff. We work with carriers that offer comprehensive insurance coverage that protects against perils such as reputation damage, kidnap and ransom, and other perils that the average household does not face. Talk to us today about how we can help you navigate the complex world of employing domestic staff.

Stephen Davis
Vice President

Hiring a contractor? Don’t get caught without ‘Additional Insured’ protection

It’s that time in your home’s life that fortunately only comes around once every 20 to 25 years or so…roof replacement time! Or maybe it’s time to tackle a big task with a shorter life span, like painting the house.

Either way, for projects at this scale you wisely skip the DIY approach and instead find yourself in the market for a contractor.

Let’s take roof replacement as an example. The roofer contractor you’ve zeroed in on came with a great recommendation from a friend, supported by an attractive portfolio and sharp online presence. Is he insured? Of course! You sign a contract, pick out the shingles and are ready to go, right? Not so fast.

Even though your contractor has proof of insurance and you carry homeowner’s insurance, you could still face a coverage gap and corresponding risk, plus the potential of higher premiums should you have to file a claim on your policy because of a peril related to your roofing project.

To close the gap and eliminate all potential pitfalls, make sure your roofer at the very least adds you as an “additional insured” to his general liability policy before you sign the contract. It’s easy and cost efficient for him to do so and the right move for both of you.

When you’re added as an additional insured, it means the insurance carrier underwriting the policy extends its coverage to you for a certain term. There are many reasons for why this can come in quite handy. Consider these two examples:

Your contractor is in your attic checking the roof sheeting. It’s dark and he accidently falls through a hole in the floor and gets hurt. If you are named as an additional insured, you’re protected against a lawsuit because his policy coverage for accidents such as this now Constructionapplies to you as well. However, as part of the contract between you and the roofer, it’s important to include a “waiver of subrogation clause, which would prevent the contractor’s insurer from pursuing your insurance company (or you) for costs related to any worker’s compensation claim that may be filed. No claims filed against your policy means your premiums stay in check.

Another important clause to your additional insured policy is “completed operations” coverage, which essentially means the coverage survives the end of the job. Let’s suppose the roof is complete and the contractor has cleaned up and gone on to his next job. The following day, a UPS driver is walking up your driveway to deliver a package and steps on an overlooked roofing nail, causing an injury. The driver sues, but since this was the fault of the roofing company AND you had additional insured with completed operations coverage, the roofer’s insurance carrier is still yours in this case and will handle the litigation and any payout. You are liability free and again, your homeowner’s insurance stays untouched.

Additional insured clauses are an easy way to protect yourself when contractors are working on your home. They are commonly used and take almost no time to secure, so make sure you insist on one for your next home improvement project.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant