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What is Workers' Compensation Insurance?
Workers' compensation insurance provides coverage for medical benefits and wage replacement when an employee is injured or killed on the job. When an injured employee accepts workers' compensation payments, he or she legally gives up the right to sue the employer later for damages or negligence. This is commonly known as the compensation bargain, and it is meant to provide a compromise between the two sides. One of the problems solved by this bargain is employer insolvency. If employers did not have workers' compensation insurance, they could lose their entire company to pay for damages awarded to an injured worker by the court. For this collective liability system to work, individual immunity is a necessity. It ensures the adequate compensation of injured parties.
Compensation plans may vary from one jurisdiction to another based on several factors. However, payments to injured claimants may be made on a weekly basis. In this instance, workers' compensation is similar to disability insurance. It provides compensation to replace lost wages at the same rate or almost the same rate. Also, claimants receive compensation for their medical expenses. This insurance works similar to traditional health insurance when covering medical costs. If a worker is killed on the job due to unsafe conditions or negligence of the employer, the dependents of the deceased worker may collect benefits. When this happens, the insurance is structured similar to life insurance. It pays for funeral costs and other final expenses.
It is important to note that workers' compensation insurance is not similar to a judgment from a lawsuit. If an injured worker or the survivor of an individual who was killed on the job filed a lawsuit, other damages may be awarded. For example, compensation may be made for pain, suffering and punitive damages. With workers' compensation insurance, these extra damages are not recognized. The coverage only pays for expenses directly related to the incident. Today, injuries may be verified by more than one medical professional. This is because workers' compensation fraud has been on the rise in recent years. Dishonest doctors and other professionals have worked with people to fake injuries and create false documentation. The cost of fraud is then distributed to everyone who pays for workers' compensation insurance. An agent can help by giving tips to prevent workers' compensation fraud and tips for identifying it. To learn more about workers' compensation coverage, discuss with an agent at 314-351-HALO(4256).
How To Stay Safe From Cyberattacks
The Department of Homeland Security works constantly to battle cyber threats. The agency's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center is open every day of the week and all year. It combines intelligence from law enforcement and the private sector as well as from federal, state and local government agencies.
Online Safety Strategies
NCCIC offers a variety of suggestions for preventative strategies to help its partners. These are some valuable tips for staying safer online:
Do not click on a link in an email whether it is from a legitimate sender or not.
Scan attachments instead of opening them immediately or automatically.
Avoid giving out personal information online or over the phone to unverified entities.
Use strong passwords, and use different passwords for each online account.
Keep anti-virus programs, browsers and other programs updated.
Contact a company directly to verify the authenticity of an unsolicited offer.
Make sure that any visited site URLs are legitimate and secure.
Do not answer personal questions that are sent to a mobile phone or tablet via SMS.
Setting Stronger Passwords
One of the easiest ways for thieves to access data is by using a hacking program to guess easy passwords. Several sophisticated programs can quickly identify word and number combinations. When choosing a password, it is better to mix capitalized and lowercase letters among numbers. Do not choose a known word followed by a number or two. Whenever possible, use special characters as well. For example, the password "lightbulb88" is weak. "88Lightbulb88*" is still somewhat weak even though it contains a special character and more numbers. An ideal password is longer and may be something such as "L90&rwP7e88Dk*" or a similar combination of numbers, letters and special symbols. Such passwords are harder to crack.
Most people choose simpler passwords because they are easy to remember and do not need to be written down. However, they do not realize the extensive negative impact of a thief accessing just one account. Do not store passwords on a computer. If the computer is a trusted private device, write the passwords in a journal or notebook on the desk. People who share a computer can write their passwords in a personal locked journal or store them somewhere safe. Avoid taking photos of passwords or using auto-save options on a browser. Learn more about how to stay safe online by speaking with an agent at 314-351-HALO(4256).
Lack of Clarity Leaves Widow in Legal Battle over Life Insurance Policy
Life insurance is an important part of every family's financial plan. Families need the right kind of life insurance (term, whole life, universal life, etc.). They also need enough coverage to replace the policyholder's income if he or she dies. There is another decision to which families may not give much thought: Who will receive the insurance benefits at the time of a claim.
In many cases, the beneficiary will be the person's spouse. However, there can be situations where the policyholder wants the proceeds to go to more than one family member. In such a situation, it is essential that the policyholder give clear instructions to the insurance agent and company. A widow in Iowa learned this lesson too late.
Mr. Pitts assumed an obligation to provide $35,000 of life insurance payable to his two year-old daughter as part of his child support obligation. This obligation was to last until the girl turned 18 or finished her schooling, whichever came later. Four years after the divorce, he remarried. The new couple met with an insurance agent to discuss buying life insurance that would both fulfill his child support obligation and provide benefits for Mrs. Pitts. They bought a policy. Over the next three years, Mr. Pitts designated beneficiaries three times.
Initially, the daughter was to receive $50,000 and the wife was to receive any leftover proceeds. Two years later, he submitted a new form which assigned $35,000 to his daughter and the balance to his wife. Eight months after that, he submitted another beneficiary change, but the form was illegible.
After the girl's 18th birthday, Mr. Pitts allegedly asked the agent to change the beneficiary again so that she would not receive any of the proceeds. Mrs. Pitts said that she believed her husband completed the necessary paperwork, but she was unsure what he did with it. However, she also said that the insurance agent told her husband and her in separate conversations that the daughter was no longer a beneficiary under the policy.
Following the death of Mr. Pitts two years later, his widow filed a claim for the entire $108,000 proceeds from the policy. She was informed that the daughter would receive $35,000 and she would receive the rest. She sued the agent and the insurance company. Five years after her husband's death, the case had gone through three levels of state courts and was still tangled up in legal proceedings.
Because Mr. Pitts did not give clear written instructions to his insurance agent, his wife spent years in court trying to obtain her expected benefits. He may well have intended for her to receive all of the proceeds, but his failure to submit the paperwork prevented that from happening. This case illustrates the importance of documenting instructions to an insurance agent or company. It also shows that policyholders should review their policies to ensure that they are accurate. It is not enough to take someone's word for it.
This mistake created needless financial difficulty and heartache for a woman who lost her husband. All insurance buyers should learn from her experience and make sure they give clear instructions
Workers in Some Industries Tend to Get Less Sleep
People in certain occupations do not get as much sleep as most other individuals. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, most people who averaged fewer than seven hours of sleep per night belonged to the same types of occupational groups. The study looked at people from more than 90 different occupations. Most workers who had a shorter sleep duration each night worked in places where alternative shift work was common. Health care, production and transportation were three industries with plenty of sleep-deprived workers. Farmers, pilots and teachers were more likely to report ample amounts of sleep.
Groups With Too Little Sleep
The CDC analyzed nearly 180,000 employed adults who also participated in a previous phone survey regarding behavioral risk factors. Participants represented 29 states. Although there were over 90 specified occupations, the workers were grouped into 22 industry categories. With production workers, shortened sleep prevalence was nearly 43 percent. It was 31 percent among people who worked in libraries, on farms or as educators. Communications equipment operators had a shortened sleep prevalence of nearly 60 percent, and pilots had a prevalence of about 20 percent. These were some additional groups with a high prevalence of shortened sleep duration:
Health care practitioners
Health care support
People who worked specifically in psychiatric care and nursing had a higher prevalence of shortened sleep, and rail transportation workers also had an especially high prevalence. Lack of sleep has been connected to drowsy driving injuries and deaths. It has also been linked to a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, depression and obesity. Also, lack of sleep increases the risk of workplace injuries and accidents.
According to the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, adults over the age of 18 should get at least seven hours of sleep per night. There were a variety of factors that contributed to inadequate sleep. These were some of the most common culprits:
Physically demanding work
Hostile work environment
With technology always improving and evolving, more workers are tied to electronic devices and pressured to work harder even when they are at home. This change has also negatively impacted duration and quality of sleep in working adults. In comparison with all other wealthy industrialized countries, workers in the United States have the longest average work week in terms of hours spent working in a business or telecommuting.
One of the major goals of this recent study was to promote awareness of sleep benefits. Treating sleep disorders and encouraging workers to get enough sleep both help improve wellness, productivity, quality of life and even safer driving. To learn more about creating a safer work environment, speak with an agent.