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Above-Normal Activity For 2017 Hurricane Season
The current hurricane season lasts from the beginning of June through the end of November. Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that there will be a 45 percent chance of above-normal activity. There is only a 20 percent chance that activity will be below normal levels.
Forecasters said that there is a 70 percent chance of the country seeing between 11 and 17 named storms, and they expect as many as nine of these to become full-fledged hurricanes. Of the expected hurricanes, they predict that two or three will be major events. During an average season, there are 12 named storms. Of that number, six become hurricanes, and three are considered major events. To be a named storm, there must be winds of 39 mph or greater, and there must be winds of 74 mph or greater for a storm to be called a hurricane. The predictions set forth for the rest of 2017 include an early April event called Tropical Storm Arlene, which is rare for the eastern portion of the Atlantic in April.
NOAA is prepared to stay ahead of storms and alert residents of coastal and at-risk inland areas as storms develop and approach land. To help boost their efforts and improve forecasting accuracy, NOAA added several new tools and technologies this year. NOAA's GOES-16 satellite is new and features a high-resolution camera that will give them a better look at storms as they develop. It has a much faster refresh rate, which allows for more accurate real-time tracking. Additionally, the camera gives experts the ability to look at lightning strikes within tropical cyclones. Since these strikes signify an intensifying storm, the improved imaging gives them the ability to better gauge the severity of an event.
Two new high-resolution hurricane models were added to provide more accuracy in forecasting. Forecasters will have access to a better resolution of storms at a vertical angle. This improves intensity forecasts by as much as 10 percent. Several smaller communication and forecasting tools were also added to NOAA's National Hurricane Center. They will be issuing advisories, warnings and watches for events that could become tropical storms but have not yet formed completely. Also, NOAA has a tool that residents of affected areas can use to see wind speeds. It includes an interactive map that they can click on to see exactly where damaging winds are located and expected. Be prepared and make sure you are covered for the hurricane season.
Speak to your agent about your insurance coverage at HALO Insurance and Benefits Group 314-351-HALO(4256).
Creative Programs Help Reduce Workers' Compensation Costs
When employees are injured on the job, some are tempted to take advantage of workers' compensation benefits. By implementing a program that offers good incentive to return, employers can reduce the risk of paying more benefits than necessary. Recent research shows that employers lose about 80 million work days because of injuries or illnesses that happen on the job.
The number of employees who take off more than seven work days because of injuries or illnesses stretches into the millions. This means that employers are left to deal with the high cost of workers' compensation premiums, lost productivity and disability benefits. However, by creating a special incentive program, employers can greatly reduce these costs.
When an employee must take time off of work due to an injury or illness, a physician will regularly examine that individual. These exams determine whether the worker is ready to return to his or her previous tasks. In some cases, it may be possible to get the individual back to work sooner. For example, consider a worker who is injured while lifting boxes in a warehouse. The attending physician will be examining the employee to determine whether he or she is ready to lift boxes again. If the employee has a back injury, it could be several weeks before returning to work is possible. However, if the employer offered the worker an easy temporary job in the office, the worker may be able to return much sooner. To make something like this happen, a special return program must be set in place. A solid program should have the following features:
- Addresses environmental, physical, knowledge and emotional factors that may prevent employees from returning to work.
- Makes the transition from temporary to full-time work easier for employees.
- Focuses on employees' abilities instead of their disabilities.
- Improves employee morale by increasing incentives for returning to work and staying safe.
- Maintains productivity by lowering the number of lost work days.
These programs help speed up employees' recovery processes. Recent research shows that 50 percent of employees who stay out of work for more than six months will never return to their jobs. If they stay out more than one year, the likelihood of returning to work is about 10 percent. Getting employees back to work as quickly as possible is the best way to bring about feelings of accomplishment for the injured individual. It also lessens the financial impact on the employee and his or her family. To make sure a program is as comprehensive as possible, include the following elements:
- Provisions that require meaningful tasks instead of simple busy work.
- Employee eligibility criteria.
- Provisions for alternative work assignments that benefit the employer and employee.
- Descriptions of duties the injured employee must perform.
- Provisions for situations where employees may have to take additional medical leave time after returning to work.
- Stated conditions and time parameters for temporary assignments.
In addition to saving money for employers, these special programs have many other benefits, which include the following:
- Makes it easier to keep valuable employees and obtain production from recovering workers.
- Makes communication happen between employees, employers and doctors instead of between employees and their doctors.
- Makes it difficult for employees to stay out of work longer and unnecessarily take advantage of benefits.
- Reduces the need to recruit, hire and train new workers.
- Reduces the length of time for disability payments to injured workers.
- Shows the employer's concern for the injured employee's health.
- Reduces the employer's cost of compensation claims, which makes the employer look better to insurance companies offering competitive pricing.
For employers everywhere, workers' compensation consumes a sizable portion of overall personnel costs. By having a solid return program, employers can reduce those costs and many others. In addition to this, it is easier to keep employees happy. To learn more about this beneficial type of program, discuss the options with an agent.
To learn more about risk management options, speak to an agent at 314-351-HALO(4256)
5 Things you should know about Medicare Fall Open Enrollment
Open enrollment takes place each fall. This is the time when Medicare participants can change plans, and people who are newly eligible for Medicare can enroll. Many people join a prescription drug plan or start using a Medicare Advantage plan. In some cases, people who have Advantage plans return to Original Medicare. There are several important considerations for anyone planning to make a change this fall.
1. Open enrollment lasts from October 15 through December 7. These dates are the same every year. When a person enrolls in a plan or makes a change, the new plan is effective January 1. For most situations, the open enrollment period is the only time when a person can choose an Advantage plan or a Part D plan. People who have an Advantage plan and want to switch back to Original Medicare should also enroll in a Part D prescription drug coverage plan. Medigap is also helpful to have with Original Medicare to cover costs. However, they are limited in availability during open enrollment depending on geographic location.
2. Everyone should review their Medicare coverage annually. A review is not just important for people who are unsatisfied with their current coverage. Every person should review their current coverage, find out what the upcoming year's changes are and make an educated decision. If health issues change during the year or are expected to change, one plan may be better than the existing coverage.
Members of Part D and Advantage plans receive annual notices outlining the various changes to coverage within the plan. For example, a Part D plan covering one type of prescription drug may stop covering it during the next year. For people who rely on that drug, a prescription plan switch may be necessary. Research suggests that people who compare Part D plans can save themselves hundreds of dollars by doing so every year. Always check with various plans in the area to see which ones have less restrictions and cover more drugs.
3. Know how to make changes or switch plans. For anyone considering a change, there is plenty of help available. To find the best prescription drug plan for individual needs, visit Medicare.gov. Use the plan finder tool to see the best options. To join an Advantage plan, simply call 800-Medicare for local resources. Be sure to research prospective plans online. After doing the necessary research, call the plans directly to confirm important points. Make sure drugs, doctors and chosen pharmacies are covered. For information about plans or how to pick one, discuss options with an agent.
4. Remember the disenrollment period. Although many changes are limited to the open enrollment period, there is a disenrollment period where participants can revoke their enrollment in a chosen plan. This period is from January 1 through February 14. However, this period is only for people who enroll in an Advantage plan and want to switch back to Original Medicare.
5. Understand the two different fall open enrollment periods. The open enrollment period for Medicare is not the same as the open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace. The marketplaces or exchanges are not intended for individuals who are enrolled in Medicare or plan to enroll in Medicare during the upcoming year. These exchanges are for uninsured or underinsured individuals.
For those who are newly eligible to enroll in Medicare, it is important to take the time to research all options. Enrolling may seem confusing with all of the information available. For more information about changing a plan or enrolling for the first time, discuss concerns with a licensed agent at 314-351-HALO(4256).
Inexperienced Teen Drivers Are Three Times More Likely To Cause Fatal Accidents
A recent study conducted showed that teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 were three times more likely than adults to be in fatal car accidents. Researchers chose to release the study recently since the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day marks the deadliest period for teen traffic accidents each year. More than 1,500 people were killed during the past five years in crashes where inexperienced teens were behind the wheel.
Since teens are out of school and on the road more often during the summer months, crash rates are significantly higher. Researchers said that the combination of inexperience and more time spent driving creates a deadly equation. This latest study analyzed all drivers and their crash rates per mile. The study showed that for each mile on the road, teens between the ages of 16 and 17 were:
Two times more likely than drivers between the ages of 30 and 59 to be involved in a fatal crash.
Five times more likely than drivers between the ages of 30 and 59 to be in a car accident.
Six times more likely than drivers over the age of 18 to be involved in a deadly accident.
Nine times more likely than drivers over the age of 18 to be involved in an auto accident.
In comparison with the previous year's data, researchers found that the number of teens involved in deadly car accidents increased by more than 10 percent. Insurance carriers are urging parents across the country to help reduce these numbers by talking to their teens about risky driving behavior and taking action to limit their time on the road during summer. They are hoping to encourage parents to be good role models of proper driving behavior as well. Researchers said that parents should observe speed limits, avoid using their phones while driving and always wear safety belts to set a good example.
There are several factors that contribute to a higher number of fatal accidents among teens. Distraction is the leading problem and causes about 60 percent of all teen crashes. Talking to other passengers, using a smart phone and trying to eat or drink while driving are common distractions for teens. In 60 percent of fatal accidents involving teens, the young drivers were not wearing safety belts. About 30 percent of fatal teen crashes happened when inexperienced drivers were speeding. Researchers at found that speeding was one of the top mistakes made by teens and reported by their driving instructors while the teens were learning to drive. If parents everywhere take steps to make driving safer for teens, the roads will be safer for everyone.