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What safety assistance should you expect from your insurance company?

Except for a handful of companies who are large enough to self-insure, most waste companies obtain a variety of insurance coverages through a commercial insurance company. Obviously, the primary benefit that the company receives in exchange for paying their premium is the contractual obligation by the insurance carrier to pay the costs of claims arising from such events as vehicle accidents, injuries to employees, or damage to the firm's property or equipment. However, many waste companies also expect some level of “value added service” in the form of safety assistance from their insurance company.

Most insurers that write coverage for the waste industry have safety professionals on staff to provide special assistance to their clients. Safety efforts initiated by an insurance company are commonly referred to as loss control or risk control services. The loss control representative has two main functions. One is to verify that a current or prospective policyholder meets the insurer's underwriting requirements for business practices and safety programs. The second function is to provide safety consultation for current policyholders.

A waste company should not expect their insurance provider's loss control representative to act as their safety director or to administer their safety programs. Rather, they should see the loss control representative as a consultant, who is available to make recommendations and provide safety resource materials. Some of the loss control services that may be available to you from your insurance company include:

Physical Inspections and Hazard Identification - The loss control representative can visit your facility to help you identify such things as unsafe conditions, unsafe work practices and other hazards concerning your property or operations.

Regulatory Compliance Review - Through physical inspections and file reviews, the loss control representative can assist in making sure that your company is compliant with the regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Transportation and other organizations.

Safety Practices Review - After an interview and file review, the loss control representative can make recommendations to help your company improve employee hiring and screening practices, safety policies and procedures, and maintenance practices and documentation.

Loss Analysis - By reviewing your company's loss history regarding vehicle accidents and worker injuries, the loss control representative can help you identify trends and areas of concern, and then formulate an action plan aimed at reducing these losses.

Safety Training and Educational Materials - Your insurance company's loss control department may have a variety of materials to assist you with employee safety training and education, including safety videos, written safety meeting or toolbox talk agendas, safety posters, and other materials relating to worker and fleet safety.

Other Safety Services - Your loss control representative can assist you with other safety matters such as setting up safety or accident review committees, designing a safety incentive program, developing a safety procedures manual or designing a worker observation program.

Being proactive about safety benefits both the waste company and the insurance carrier. The insurance company saves money when fewer claims need to be paid, and the waste company saves money by avoiding deductible payments, downtime and loss of key personnel. Therefore, waste companies should take advantage of safety services offered by their insurance company.

Bruce Hooker works for Mattei Insurance Services, Inc. based in Sacramento, Calif.

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