Insights: Can you be Liable for Employee’s Cell Phone Use?

New Developments

New Agency Partners now represents Selective – One of the region’s leading carriers entrusts our team.

We are proud to announce that Branchville, NJ based Selective Insurance Company now entrusts the New Agency Partners team to represent their excellent products and services. Selective carries an A+ rating by AM Best and is well-known for their competitive solutions for Businesses and Households.

Find out more about Selective’s products and services at Selective’s web site.

Personal Insurance Solutions

New Agency Partners attains Cornerstone status – Elite distinction reserved for Chubb’s top-tier partners.

Chubb Insurance, a leader in insuring high net worth households, recently announced that New Agency Partners has earned the elite designation as a Cornerstone Agent! This distinction recognizes the top-tier of Chubb’s agency distribution base for the ability to provide solutions for high net worth clients. By attaining Cornerstone status, New Agency Partners’ clients now have access to Chubb’s elite underwriting, service and claims personnel.

This distinction will continue to enable us to differentiate solutions for our valued clients. To learn more about Chubb’s Personal Lines products and services please refer to their website: Chubb Personal Insurance.

Commercial Insurance Solutions

Can you be Liable for Employees’ Cell Phone Use? Employers being sued at an alarming rate.

Over the past several years, people who have been injured in car crashes where the at-fault driver was using a cell phone have sued the driver’s employer as well as the driver. Often attorneys for the injured parties will look for the “deep pockets” of an employer in addition to an employee’s individual policy.

Employers can be liable for accidents caused by their employees when an employee is driving a company vehicle or using his/her personal vehicle while engaged in business-related activities (commuting is not a business related activity.) The employer can also face liability if the company provided the phone or the cell phone is an expected or encouraged part of the job.

Estimates of damage, lost wages, medical bills and loss of life from cell phone related crashes exceed $43 billion annually and are on the rise. Given this, and the fact that cell phone use is continually on the rise, it is imperative that businesses have policies and procedures governing cell phone use for its employees. Simple guidelines to follow include:

  • Ensure you have a written policy in place,
  • Require employees to acknowledge that policy in writing, and
  • Take steps to monitor compliance and consistent enforcement of the policy.

While a well-drafted policy or procedure will not prevent a lawsuit, it may minimize the risk of a costly or protracted one. Instituting a policy will not only minimize your susceptibility to a lawsuit, it will also make your employees safer drivers and keep their attention on the road!

Personal Insurance Solutions

The Price to Repair versus Building New – Why repairing your home is more expensive.

Reconstruction vs. New Construction

There are many reasons why a client may be required to obtain a property valuation, including a mortgage, establishing a selling price or for insurance purposes. While the first two basically use the same methodology, the insurance appraisal is completely different.

The insurance appraisal is used to determine how much it would cost to rebuild a home. The market value and property value have no bearing on a physical reconstruction. With the proper valuation insurance companies will often offer guaranteed replacement value which promises to rebuild even if the cost is more than what they estimate.

Why Reconstruction Usually Costs More Then New Construction

  • Economy of Scale – When contractors have multiple homes under construction at one time, they receive bulk discounts for lumber, fixtures etc. Suppliers will compete for business under these conditions. However, when you are buying just one bathtub, and must match the one that was destroyed, the cost is more expensive. This applies to almost anything in the home and drives up the cost of rebuilding.
  • Demolition and Debris Removal – New construction begins on open ground that may have some brush removal or grading of land. When a home is destroyed, parts of the home may be standing but unstable and require demolition and removal. There may also be extensive cleanup after a fire or windstorm. Some of the land may have become contaminated. Often a lot of work needs to be done before that first nail can be hammered in.
  • Use of Labor – When several new homes are being built at the same time, it is easier to schedule work for the most efficient use of time. If a home is not ready for the electrician, he/she can go to the next home. When only one home is being built, the same type of efficient scheduling may not be possible.
  • Access to the Worksite – With a new construction lot there is no landscaping, no mature trees, or even neighbors, so access to the worksite is easy. When dealing with reconstruction, there is existing landscaping as well as surrounding neighbors, fences and other obstructions that may limit access to the site. Often materials need to be staged at another site and delivered in smaller lots which drives up costs as well.
  • Building Codes and Inspections – Older homes were built when building codes were not as strict as they are today. When a home is destroyed, it needs to be built according to current building codes. You may also be required to upgrade even the undamaged portions of your home. The building code changes can add significant cost to restoring a damaged home in real costs and delays as the builder waits on inspections.

Because reconstruction cost is more comprehensive than replacement cost, the carriers use this as a better representation of what they can expect to pay after a loss. The result is proper protection for clients that insure for the proper Insurance to Value.

All insurance policies are different. Be sure to review your insurance policy for specific information about coverages available to you. Nothing in this post is meant to suggest a guarantee of coverage.