High blood pressure — A hidden danger for your truck drivers

Doctor with patientIf you’re running a logistics business or division, you know how important it is to have reliable and healthy truck drivers. Although most health conditions are easy to diagnose and treat, there’s one in particular that’s tricky to spot — High blood pressure. That’s because high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) often doesn’t show any symptoms, and that’s a real problem.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to significant problems for your truck drivers including:

  • An enlarged heart, a big risk for heart failure.
  • Aneurysms in blood vessels, which can be fatal.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Vision problems and blindness.

It’s estimated that over 65 million Americans (around a third of the adult population) have high blood pressure, and one in three of those people aren’t aware they’re affected.

Why high blood pressure is a real issue for truck drivers
Truck drivers have a greater risk of high blood pressure than others, mainly due to the nature of their work. Some of the causes of high blood pressure include:

  • A poor diet with too much salt — Eating healthily on the road is a real challenge, and many truck drivers will opt for fast food. Unfortunately, the high proportion of salt and lack of other nutrients is a risk factor.
  • Too much alcohol – We hope you already have drug and alcohol testing policy and procedures in place to ensure no drinking on the job, but you can’t control what happens after hours.
  • Lack of exercise — Spending almost all of their working life behind the wheel of a truck leaves little time for exercise. Being overweight or obese significantly increases the chances of high blood pressure.
  • Stress and anxiety — Dealing with other road users can create significant stress for long-haul truck drivers.

Dealing with high blood pressure issues for your drivers
As with most health issues, prevention is much better than cure. That’s why taking a few simple steps could reduce the risk of high blood pressure in your drivers, help them stay healthy, and reduce downtime due to sickness. Some of the steps you can take include:

  • Education and training — Let your truck drivers know about the risks of high blood pressure including why and how they could be impacted. Encourage them to get tested and provide clear, simple ways for them to get training on how to avoid the issue.
  • Policy changes — Introduce policies that encourage healthier behavior. Give truck drivers a 30 or 45 minute break each day that they can use to exercise. Incentivize them to eat more healthily by providing discounts for particular types of restaurants or meals.
  • Support and resources — Get some help in place. Arrange for a nurse to come on site to provide blood pressure testing and personalized advice on what your truck drivers can do. Provide maps of where to find restaurants with healthy eating options on the popular trucking routes. Introduce a formal wellness program into your workplace.
  • Health insurance and medication — Even with all these preventative measures, you will still have some drivers who develop high blood pressure problems. In those cases, you’ll want to ensure they have the right health insurance and get access to the doctors and medications they need to control their medical conditions.

If you want to keep your truck drivers healthy and happy, you can start right now. Just using one or two of these suggestions could significantly reduce the frequency and impact of high blood pressure problems. That means healthier employees, less time off sick, and a more efficient trucking operation.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

blood pressure trucking

Employee Benefits: Financial Wellness

Employee Benefits: Financial WellnessThe importance of Employee Benefits remains a crucially high priority business owners should provide for their employees.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute conducted a study examining Americans’ satisfaction with health care. According to the EBRI, 69 percent of respondents reported that benefits were very important when choosing a job- another 20 percent indicated they were somewhat important. And health insurance ranks at the top of that list. Six in ten employees (58 percent) listed health insurance as the most important benefit; a retirement savings plan in contrast trailed behind at 18 percent.

Competitive organizations need benefits plans not only to attract employees but to keep a high rate of retention in their company. Employees are more satisfied with their job overall and are less likely to leave it when they have a good benefits plan.

But it goes beyond simply providing the plan- a successful employee benefits plan must have active employees. Educating and communicating with them on their options and how to get the most out of their benefits can help business owners ensure their dollars are being spent wisely. Employees are also aware of what they’re getting and are appreciative of the effort employers are making to take care of them.

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we understand an effective Employee Benefits program is key in hiring and keeping top talent and in helping employees with life needs. We’ll help you strike the right balance in offering employees a benefit plant that is attractive, offers more choices, flexibility, and customization with your organization’s financial ability by spending smarter, not more. contact us today for more information.

Small Businesses Fail to Notify Customers of Data Breach

Small Businesses Fail to Notify Customers of Data BreachSmall Businesses Fail to Notify Customers of Data Breach

With the added convenience of online tools, going paperless also adds new risks for businesses. Data breaches are growing more and more common as companies take their operations virtual. According to Verizon Wireless’s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report in 2012 there were 855 recorded incidents, totaling 174 million compromised records.

Over 80 percent of breaches utilized some form of hacking. Use of incorporated malware followed at just under 70 percent. Breaches also span across all industries including Accommodation & Food Services, Retail, Finance, Insurance, healthcare, and information.
It isn’t just high profile companies either. Cyber criminals are streamlining their method to include high-volume, low risk attacks against weaker targets. Cyber criminals are opportunists- they will infiltrate a company with little or low protections, such as small businesses who haven’t yet taken the time to assess their security and/or don’t have the large resources of a corporation to delegate the task.

  • 79% of victims were targets of opportunity.
  • 96% of attacks were not highly difficult.
  • And, on the detection side:
  • 85% of breaches took weeks or more to discover
  • 97% of breaches were avoidable through simple or intermediate controls.  

There are several steps small businesses can focus their mitigation efforts. Business owners should Implement a firewall or ACL on remote access services and change default credentials of POS systems and other Internet-facing devices. If a third party vendor is handling those items follow through and make sure they’ve taken the necessary precautionary measures. Whenever possible, eliminate unnecessary data and check your security status regularly to ensure there are no gaps.

Our goal is to help mitigate losses in the first place to protect the value you’ve created in your business – whether you’re a large construction company, multinational food processor, a local enterprise or a Connecticut manufacturing plant. As your advisor, we’ll make a tangible difference to your business by providing you with a better understanding of the exposures and liabilities that exist in your daily operations and implementing programs to safeguard against them, minimize losses, reduce claims, and ultimately provide significant opportunities for savings. Contact us today for more information about our Connecticut Business Insurance - (877) 602-2305

Connecticut Retirement Planning

Connecticut Retirement PlanningConnecticut Retirement Planning

People are living longer. It’s great. We are reaching old age in better health and increasingly can look forward to long, happy lives. But the extra years can be extra cost- how does living longer affect retirement planning?

Over the past 170 years, in countries with the highest life expectancies, the average lifespan has grown approximately 2.5 years every decade, or about six hours a day. However, longer life spans also places additional strains on the economy. If we live longer, that requires more medical care, more years of retirement, and significantly higher cost.

Forbes estimated that you needed at least 8 times your ending salary in order to cover retirement expenses until age 92. However, that is the minimum requirement. It also assumes you have other outside savings, and that you receive Social Security payments, and that your income is growing by 5% a year over general inflation with no breaks in employment or savings. This may not be the case for everyone.

Retirement is a growing concern. Medical costs are higher. A rapidly growing population of older adults are expected to strain Social Security’s current resources. Economic difficulties have made it difficult for some to save for retirement at all. Some have lost savings. Some dire estimates say nearly half of Americans aren’t financially prepared to retire.

However, despite the doom and gloom, retirement is not impossible. It just takes planning and foresight implemented today. At Sinclair Risk and Financial Management,  our Connecticut financial planners offer a number of retirement planning strategies both to individuals and companies alike. We’ll evaluate your assets and income, speak to you about your risk appetite, and assess what type of vehicle makes most sense for your present situation and your vision for the future. We will then present you with alternatives and discuss the benefits, risks, and tax implications, among other key issues.Contact us today for more information. (877) 602-2305

Business Insurance: Technology Distractions in the Workplace

Business Insurance Technology Distractions in the WorkplaceBusiness Insurance: Technology Distractions in the Workplace

The day of a desk with just a single computer is no longer. Smartphones laden with apps, tablets, Kindles, and multiple desktop screens have taken multi-tasking to a whole new level. These are great improvements, but how much are we distracted by them? Are they really worth it?

The Wall Street Journal recently examined exactly how much technology distracts us. According to one survey, 53 percent of people said they waste at least one hour a day on digital distractions. Another survey of over 500 employees showed that technology accounted for 60 percent of workplace distraction.

45 percent of respondents kept at least six items open at the same time and 65 percent said they used more than one device in addition to their main computer.

Searching for documents constituted another large portion of time. Respondents spent at least 30 minutes daily searching for emails and documents. Monetarily, the cost of searching comes to $3,900 per employee per year for an employee paid $30 dollars an hour.

The survey also examined the ability to concentrate among heavy tech users. The study showed that two out of three people communicated digitally with someone else while they were at an in-person meeting. The majority of recipients also stayed connected after work hours, during vacation and even in bed.

Limiting your time with personal devices during the day can help ease distraction. Lock your phone away in your drawer and only take it out for breaks. Schedule in “tech time” after you’ve completed a task to send a text or check email. By focusing on one task at a time, you can help ease the tempting allure of all your tech devices.

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management is not your typical independent insurance agency. We tailor Connecticut business insurance products to protect your business against unforeseen losses – and we’re excellent at doing so. But we go way beyond just the policy.

Our goal is to help mitigate losses in the first place to protect the value you’ve created in your business – whether you’re a large construction company, multinational food processor, or a local enterprise. As your advisor, we’ll make a tangible difference to your business by providing you with a better understanding of the exposures and liabilities that exist in your daily operations and implementing programs to safeguard against them, minimize losses, reduce claims, and ultimately provide significant opportunities for savings.

Flood Insurance: Rethinking Coastal Living?

Flood Insurance Rethinking Coastal LivingFlood Insurance: Rethinking Coastal Living?

Homeowners in New York and New Jersey are still struggling to repair homes and businesses damaged by Hurricane Sandy. However, aside from clearing all the debris, there is something else to consider when rebuilding; the impact of the storm on coastal living and flood insurance. It has led many to question the wisdom of building on fragile, storm-vulnerable areas, and raised the question of just how much owners want to pay for that ocean breeze.

It isn’t simply a matter of rebuilding. As a result of exorbitant claims in high risk flood areas, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy could send the already high cost of coastal living through the roof. Newly mapped flood hazard zones will expand, accounting for Hurricane Sandy’s vast reach. And according to the New York Times, homeowners in storm-damaged coast areas could face premium increases as much as 25 percent under new legislation to reform flood insurance. Finally, expensive requirements for homes being rebuilt in flood zones could make rebuilding costs extremely costly for many coastal owners.

In the published Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the report concluded it was very likely the frequency of heavy precipitation events will increase over many regions as the climate continues to warm over the next century. Government groups are calling for flood insurance reforms that takes into affects areas now at risk because of climate changes such as rising sea levels.

It is an unintended consequence of government subsidization of flood insurance risk that has encouraged many to build along coasts highly vulnerable to extreme weather. It is a balancing act between not wanted to push out lower-income residents who, with heightened premiums might not be able to afford living on the coast, to having an insurance solutions that reflect the high risk of living along the shore.

Should the federal government continue to subsidize flood risks? Should highly vulnerable, flood-prone areas be rebuilt? Or should there be stricter laws about building in high flood risk areas? What about the home and business owners who currently live there? It’s a difficult topic with no clear answer- we’d love to hear from you.

Homes and buildings in high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance. These areas have a 1% or greater chance of flooding in any given year, which is equivalent to a 26% chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. Contact a Sinclair representative to see if your home is in a high-risk flood area. (877-602-2305).

Lessons from Sandy: Protect Your Valuables with Private Client Group Insurance

Lessons from Sandy: Protect Your Valuables with Private Client Group Insurance

Superstorm Sandy caused devastating wreckage across the East Coast. As businesses are beginning to recover their losses and rebuild, the art industry has been hit particularly hard. The damage shows the importance of protecting your high end valuables with private client group insurance. Lessons from Sandy Protect Your Valuables with Private Client Group Insurance

Fine art insurers are facing claims up to half a billion dollars for artwork destroyed when waters flooded the Chelsea district of Manhattan, where many New York art galleries are located, according to Reuters. One insurer expects to pay out $40 million in claims, and brokers and underwriters say the total loss could reach $500 million.

The value of high net worth coverage can be seen in the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. Having such high value collections also significantly increases your risk. Art insurers previously expressed concerns that art storage warehouses had accumulated too many costly pieces in a single location, exposing them to significant losses if the facilities flooded or caught fire. Yet despite the warnings and seeing the damages from Sandy up to 60 percent of individuals who qualify for high new worth policies remain with standard insurance carriers, leaving them exposed and underinsured.

Standard homeowners policies do not cover valuable art collections, jewelry, or any high worth collectibles. To make sure you are covered in the event of damage, you need an additional floater or high net worth policy to get adequate protection.

Part of the issue is a lack of knowledge about an item’s worth. Many homeowners amass collections of art, antiques, jewelry, and other collectibles, but are unaware of how much their collections are actually worth. To protect your collectibles, an appraiser should assess your collection every few years, so you have reliable, updated reports on how much everything is worth.

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we have access to particular markets that enable us to craft custom homeowners and auto insurance programs that reflect the true value of your property, your risk profile, and your personal circumstances throughout the world. We’d love to sit down with you and discuss more about the special programs and private client group insurance coverage we can develop just for you. Contact us today for more information.

United States Still Holds Manufacturing Sway

U.S. Still Holds Manufacturing Sway

United States Still Holds Manufacturing Sway

It’s been said that American manufacturing is on the decline. But, that’s not true for certain industries according to the Wall Street Journal.

The United States remains a global leader in manufacturing some of the world’s biggest products. Caterpillar inc, makes it’s large mining trucks in Illinois, despite the face that most of them are shipped overseas to Latin America, Australia, Asia, and Africa. No. 2 competitor Komatsu make their large scale mining vehicles less than one hundred miles north. Together, the two brands account for 85% of global sales of mining trucks.

The U.S. recorded a $509.7 billion deficit in trade in manufactured goods, mainly due to huge lacks in larger categories such as consumer electronics and clothing. However, in certain industries, such as aircraft, industrial engines, excavators, railway and mining equipment, the U.S. exports far more than it imports.

These industries produce smaller numbers of very expensive goods. The U.S. enjoys an advantage due to expertise from building high-tech weaponry and military equipment; the technology is then applied to other products. Capitalizing on this competitive advantage is part of the effort to create more well paid manufacturing jobs. The administration is budgeting more money for research into the manufacturing process, especially focusing on what WSJ casually refers to as “the big stuff.”

From a local Connecticut machine shop to a company with international operations, Sinclair Risk & Financial Management has the vast experience required to serve the complex industry of Manufacturing. Contact us today for more information about our Connecticut manufacturing insurance programs.

Manufacturing: What is Crowdfunding?

Manufacturing What is CrowdfundingManufacturing: What is Crowdfunding?

The idea of crowdfunding is simple. Large groups of people contribute small amounts of money for a project. Yet, this simple idea is fast taking hold of the business world, and could change the face of manufacturing.

Take Kickstarter for example. An online phenomenon, Kickstarter is a venture capital site that helps inventors, artists, designers, etc, get funding to transform their designs into actual products. Some projects have garnered millions of dollars in funding. Since it was launched in 2009, 2.5 million people have pledged $350 million dollars, funding more than 30,000 creative projects.

The success of Kickstarter has propelled the idea of crowdfunding into the spotlight, popularizing a new model could alter the face of manufacturing. Traditionally, an inventor would pitch their idea to venture capitalists or try and sell their technology to an established company. It is a distinct top-down structure where the public is given what the inventor creates. Crowdfunding upends this model. Instead of going to venture capitalists for funding, projects get their start with consumers. The consumer not only holds the purchasing power, but is involved in choosing the product in the first place.

Crowdfunding also offers an alternative to entrepreneurs in a difficult economic environment. In 2012, the total number of loans distributed in the U.S. by the Small Business Administration dropped by nearly 20 percent. Nearly 98% of business plans received by accredited investors are rejected, according to Forbes.

Crowdfunding is fast becoming a major source of innovation. It allows easier access to capital, and greater input from consumers. In the world of constant connectivity that social media has created, crowdsourcing has become a new business model that places the consumer at the beginning and end of the development process.

What do you think about the new crowdfunding model for manufacturing? Is it here to stay or a momentary trend? We’d love to hear from you.

From a local machine shop to a company with international operations, Sinclair Risk & Financial Management has the vast experience required to serve the complex industry of Manufacturing. Contact us today for more information about our Connecticut manufacturing insurance programs.

Employee Wellness Plans: Heart Attacks Costly on all Sides

Employee Wellness Plans Heart Attacks Costly on all SidesEmployee Wellness Plans: Heart Attacks Costly on all Sides

Heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases are tragic, costly, and painful. The goal of employee benefits and wellness plans is to reduce risk of chronic disease and improve employees’ health. But what exactly are the costs? Why are employee wellness plans so important?

According to Employee Benefit News, a study presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Los Angeles reported that every short-term disability claim cost employers about $7,943 on average in lost productivity. Long-term disability claims cost $52,473 on average. That’s approximately 60 days of work for short-term disability claims, and 379 days for long term claims.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Acute coronary syndrome costs Americans $150 billion on average. Of that group, 47% who have the condition are working adults under 65 years.  With its status as a top killer in the United States, heart disease is also one of the most preventable afflictions.

Wellness programs that help employees to reduce pressure, improve their diet, exercise more, and maintain their blood sugar levels can all help reduce the risk of heart disease. More than ever, employers are playing a crucial role in helping employees stay healthy and manage chronic diseases more effectively. Both the company and individual benefit from lower health costs and reduced absences.

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management is at the forefront of this approach, providing employers with a proprietary Wellness Program designed to promote health employee lifestyle choices along with a strategy to create and sustain these behaviors.

Wellness programs have significant benefits for employers and individuals, boosting retention and driving loyalty. Let Sinclair help enrich your benefits plan with a wellness program designed to promote your employees’ health. Contact us today for more information. (877) 602-2305