The Risks of Driving for Uber or Lyft

Driving Uber LyftUber and Lyft are ridesharing services that have quickly gained popularity. At this point, they are available in most parts of the country, especially metropolitan areas. With a few taps on your phone, you can call a driver to your location. Or, sign up through the same app to become a paid driver yourself.

Many people have turned to these services as drivers for extra income because of its ease-of-use. Just sign into the app and you’re in business. You can work wherever you want, whenever you want, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It can be a convenient way to make a few bucks in the evenings or weekend.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While many people are lauding Uber and Lyft for disrupting the traditional taxi model and giving people an easy employment option, working for either of these services comes with some risk worth considering.

Financial risks
As a ridesharing driver, you are an independent contractor, not an employee of the parent company. Any losses or expenses you incur are your problem. Both services compensate drivers for damage to vehicles caused by passengers, but standard wear and tear, fuel, tolls, maintenance, taxes, and insurance are costs of the job. While injury is unlikely, you are not eligible for worker’s compensation insurance.

Since you are technically working while you drive for Uber or Lyft, standard car insurance won’t cover you if you get into an accident. Most drivers are taking this risk.

Furthermore, the job isn’t as lucrative as it used to be. Both services have increased their percentages of the last few years. Uber and Lyft now takes 20% off the top, which makes it difficult for many drivers to handle the expenses.
Uber says you can make about $25/hour. Lyft reports $35/hour. The truth, however, is far lower once you deduct expenses. The amount you can earn varies widely depending on the area, but at the end of the day, most drivers make about $9-15/hour.

Lyft’s app has functionality for passengers to tip drivers, which can improve the hourly rate significantly. Uber, however, says they want “riders and drivers to know for sure what they would pay or earn on each trip — without the uncertainty of tipping.”

Safety risks
Originally, ridesharing companies pitched their product as a safer alternative to taxis. Using social media logins, driver and passenger identities were public, making assault or crime less likely. Rating systems were designed to penalize people who behaved inappropriately.

But the rapid growth of the industry has made these basic safety features (and they are basic) less effective. Ridesharing services have to recruit new drivers constantly. A reputation-based system doesn’t work when you’re likely to never see that passenger again anyway.

Neither ridesharing app provides safety training for drivers (as this would force them to classify drivers as employees). Both services provide some basic tips for drivers to look out for themselves, but this information is sparse and unhelpful in a dangerous encounter.

OSHA reports that “data indicates that annual homicide rates for taxi drivers (and chauffeurs) from 1998 to 2007 ranged from 9 per 100,000 workers to 19. During that period the rate for all workers was at or below 0.5 per 100,000 workers.” This means that taxi drivers are killed 21 and 33 times higher than the national average.

Presumably, that’s less of a concern for ridesharing drivers because there is no cash exchange. You’ve probably seen sensational headlines, but that’s only because the industry is new and people are adjusting. The real danger lies in motor accidents, of which there are substantially more for ridesharing drivers than the average.

Finally, the background check system is weak. Lyft performs a background check on all drivers. Uber checks the background in only certain states. But there are reports in both apps of people passing the background check who know they shouldn’t.

Decide for yourself
It has become clear the rideshare driving isn’t the “way of the future” it was marketed to be. It’s a reasonable job considering its low barrier to entry, but it’s not something to build a future around. The safety risks aside, driving for Uber or Lyft doesn’t offer a strong financial incentive anymore.

Karen Consiglio
Commercial Claims


Best Office Design Tips

Best Office Design TipsBest Office Design Tips

American workers spend almost 90 percent of their lives indoors. A significant portion of that is in their designated office space. The design and layout of your company, when conscientiously thought out, can boost productivity and collaboration. Here are a few tips from Mashable on what constitutes great office design.

It’s worth the additional cost. You don’t need to upgrade on Google-level proportions (there is no evidence to indicate a bowling alley has boosted worker productivity), however an upgraded office can go a long ways to improving functionality and overall productivity. Office design can open up new lines of communication and increased collaboration.

Break spaces. Creating an appealing break space for employees not only rewards them and provides a central space where they can rest, it increases communication. Socializing with coworkers can increase rapport, creativity, and collaboration across the board.

Desk ergonomics. Invest a few dollars more in each employee workspace. A movable monitor arm allows employees to adjust the computer screen so it is at eye level to reduce neck pain. Also consider purchasing comfortable chairs will avoid low back pain and general discomfort.

Brand your workplace. Every employee and client alike should know immediately where they are when they walk into your office space. Putting your logo on a feature wall creates visual interest and an identifying brand. The physical appearance of your office has an effect. Injecting your firm’s slogans, logos, attitude, products, philosophy, or color palette showcases your company’s culture and clearly creates a strong brand both clients and employees can identify with.

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we understand that human resource issues are an important component of an employer’s risk profile. We’ll help you evaluate HR issues and exposures and help you implement programs to ensure your company’s growth in today’s challenging and highly regulatory environment. Contact us today for more information on our Connecticut Human Resource Consulting services.

Fine Art Insurance: Investing in Fine Art

Fine Art Insurance Investing in Fine ArtFine Art Insurance: Investing in Fine Art

For the past few years, the economy has been trickling into an unfortunate depression. Many people from all socioeconomic classes are frantic to find different avenues to flourish in. Many have turned to collectibles, hoping to get a good return in their investment. Although collectibles have always been notable and prosperous assets, it is no longer the same as it was before.  Unlike most unstable markets, such as gold, sports memorabilia, and fine jewelry; fine art is proving to be rather profitable investment. Fine art collectors both new and experienced should not carelessly go into the industry without a few tips on choosing the right investment. Regardless of the consistent profitability, purchasing the wrong art piece can easily turn this into a bad investment.  Here are a few tips ensure a good investment.

Firstly, spend a substantial amount of time researching and educating yourself; look through art magazines and art history books. You may also want to hire an art consultant that is both knowledgeable of the industry and understands your artistic preferences. Secondly, visit as many art galleries, art museums, and art expos as possible. Once you have acquired sufficient knowledge of the industry as well, you can start to feel the pulse of new, up and coming artists. Next, start “window shopping.” While you certainly want to look for pieces that you love, also take into consideration of the types of pieces with a good return in your investment. During this economy, it is reasonable to be selfish with your money, as many of these pieces can range from $10,000 to $250,000.

The best investments are original pieces from notable, well established artists. Whether you plan to sell the artwork in the future, original pieces will always have value. In order to avoid purchasing reproductions, assess and confirm that the piece is original.

How to evaluate the authenticity of a fine art piece:

  • Signatures- Search for the artist’s birth/death dates.
  • Hand-signed and numbered
  • Certificates of Authenticity
  • Aside from original pieces from notable artists, oil paintings also have a good return in an investment. However, there are paintings that hold more value than others.

How to evaluate a fine art valuable oil painting:

  • Portraits
  • Attractive women in dresses
  • Age- the kind of canvass and nails used may indicate the age of the artwork

Regardless of the “type” of artwork you purchase, ensure that it is off good quality. Quality includes color saturation and condition and the differences in this may substantially increase/decrease the price.

If you are an owner of fine art, we’d like to discuss how to protect your investment for the next generation and beyond. Please call us today for fine art insurance at 203.265.0996, email us, or return the form on this page.


Home Insurance: Your Fall To-Do List

Home Insurance: Your Fall To-Do ListHome Insurance: Your Fall To-Do List

Fall is here and October is the perfect month to finish up on all those home improvement projects and to-do lists. Since summer is over and the kids are back in class, Zillow has provided some suggestions to your fall checklist (and an extra fall to-do tip about finding the best rate on your home insurance policy).

Fall Home Improvement Tip #1 – In the garden Add color to your garden. Maintaining your garden for fall may just be the important point to take from this post. By trimming back trees and bushes; not only will it reduce the amount of dead leaves on the ground, but it will help prevent any fire hazard which may occur, it will reduce the mess. Another important tip is to fertilize your lawn- it will provide your grass with the nutrients required for the winter.

Fall Home Improvement Tip #2 – Fall-seasonal jobs When fall rolls around, certain things should have to get done. Have your heating system serviced with a filter change. Basic heating maintenance will ensure you have a warm space once winter arrives. Drain the hot water heater and remove the sediment from the bottom of the tank.

Fall Home Improvement Tip #3 – Required Home maintenance Check the exterior of your home. Things such as worn shingles on the roof, leaks around skylights, vents, and chimneys can cause major headaches it not appropriately fixed. Areas to check for leaks include door and window frames, around heating units, and openings around drainpipes in bathrooms and kitchens. Lastly, clean out your gutters. Cleaning your gutters is one home improvement tips that will probably be the most disastrous if not taken care of.

Fall Home Improvement Tip #4 – How to organize your garage A Garage is not a synonym for storage space. It seems often enough that garages become the ideal spot for storage. Now is the time to restore order before winter so you can park your car somewhere warm. While cleaning out your garage, trash unnecessary items by indulging in a garage sale or donating it to charity.

Fall Home Improvement Tip #5 – Review your Homeowners Insurance Policy

The professionals at Sinclair have been our clients’ trusted agents for more than four decades, enabling homeowners to protect their biggest investment. Through the relationships we’ve developed with the finest insurance companies in the nation, we can custom-build a home insurance policy for your property.

5 Simple Driving Safety Tips You Need To Know

5 Simple Driving Safety Tips You Need To Know5 Simple Driving Safety Tips You Need To Know

Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the United States. So take a moment to read these driving safety tips by the American Medical Association to help keep you and other drivers safe on the road.

Driving Safety Tip #1 – Drive with care. Plan your trips ahead of time when possible. Try to avoid heavy traffic and decide what time to leave, and what roads to take. Always wear your safety belt and drive at the speed limit.

Driving Safety Tip #2Take care of your car. Make sure you always have plenty of gas in your car, and make sure you tune it up regularly. Keep your windshields and mirrors clean and replace your windshield wiper blades when they become worn out.

Driving Safety Tip #3 – Know where you can find a ride. There may be a time where you don’t have access to a vehicle. Have some alternatives planned so you don’t find yourself stranded. Your alternative transportation plan could include rides from friends and family, taxis, bus or train, or a shuttle.

Driving Safety Tip #4 – Take a driver safety class. The best way to avoid driving hazards is preparation. Driving safety classes can teach you skills to use when you are on the road to make sure you and your passengers arrive safely at your destination.

Driving Safety Tip #5 – Drive distraction free. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drivers are distracted by secondary activities 30% of the time while driving. These distractions can include everything from eating, smoking, talking, drinking, or fiddling with electronics in the car. The NHTSA estimates that 80% of crashes involve some form of driver distraction that reduces driver safety. Being aware of these distractions, and avoiding them while on the road can help reduce your risk.

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management maintains that packaging a sound personal Auto plan is only the beginning of the client relationship. Our team of friendly, professional experts takes time to find out what drives you when you drive your car, enabling us to suggest meaningful strategies to mitigate many of the associated risks on or off the road. Contact us today for more information.

Yelp Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Yelp Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Yelp Marketing Tips for Restaurants.

What is Yelp?

Yelp is part of a crowdsourcing movement that relies on anonymous volunteers rather than paid participants. Customers can post reviews on thousands of businesses across a wide variety of industries, ranging from jewelry and auto repair shops to restaurants and nightlife.

Why does Yelp matter.

Yelp has emerged as a huge influence particularly in the restaurant industry. The site itself commands 71 million unique visitors per month. Restaurants command the largest portion of Yelp traffic, nearly a third of all reviews.

Why is Yelp important for the restaurant industry.

As a restaurant owner, it is essential to take a proactive marketing approach to Yelp. Reviews will be written with or without your involvement. If you have a business account with Yelp, it will give you an opportunity to control the content that is on your review site, and to interact with reviewers.

How do I use Yelp business account?

Think of it as an online integration of traditional customer service. If a customer’s response with a positive review, saying they had a great experience, you thank them for their feedback and invite them to come again. For negative views, tread slightly more carefully. Thank the customer for their feedback. Apologize for their experience if necessary. If you have rectified the issues, let them know it has been fixed, and invite them to come back again.

Above all, continue to engage and interact with your customer. Post photos on your site, set up deals and encourage customers to check-in to your establishment when they visit. The same basic principle of customer service applies to Yelp as in your restaurant.

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management has innovative restaurant insurance and risk management solutions for Restaurants, food and beverage manufacturers, processors, packers, and distributors. Contact us today for more information about our Restaurant Insurance Programs.

For Additional resources, see Restaurant Engine.

Business Insurance: Tips to Motivate Your Employees

Business Insurance: Tips to Motivate Your EmployeesBusiness Insurance: Tips to Motivate Your Employees

Employees are precious resources in an organization. Motivated, loyal employees boost productivity and provide the collaboration and innovative ideas a company needs to flourish. This post is

That doesn’t mean cushioning their paychecks. One of the top reasons employees leave is they don’t feel valued or appreciated at work. Inc. recently highlighted several tips on how to build a great team of motivated employees.

Personal growth trumps bonus. If an employee has an interest in something, they will be much more motivated to do it. Give them the freedom to take on a project they thought of, or let them try a new initiative. Google engineers are encouraged the take 20 percent of their time to worked on something that interests them personally. Gmail and Google News are two ubiquitous ideas that started in an employee’s “free time.”

Status matters. Sometimes giving an employee more authority will spur motivation. If an employee has a suggestion to improve a project, encourage them to draw up a plan and give them the authority to implement it.

Perks. Again, emphasis on the non-monetary. Use concert tickets as a reward for the highest salespeople at the end of the month. Providing great benefits is a huge draw to employees. Be generous with vacation time, and encourage employees to truly take a vacation, not drag their smartphone to the pool.

Recognition.  It is an innate human desire to be appreciated. If an employee works tirelessly on a project, they deserve to be recognized. Knowing they are valued and appreciated will strengthen their loyalty to the company and they will continue to take pride in their work.

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management works with companies of all sizes to design and implement Business Insurance and Group Medical options that rethink the traditional way of offering benefits and meet the financial needs of employers while also addressing the choices and flexibility employees want. Contact us today for more information about our business insurance programs.