The Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) was enacted in 2010. Key parts of the law are still being implemented. Soon after the ACA was passed, speculation began as to the effects it might have on state workers compensation programs. The ACA has no direct bearing on workers compensation, but it does make a number of changes to the healthcare delivery system. These changes may impact state workers compensation programs in a number of ways.
I and my fellow Baby Boomers are aging. That means that there are more older drivers are on the road these days. If older drivers have higher fatality rates than other drivers, we shouldn't be allowed to drive on the job, right? That's not true according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Since its creation in 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been the sole source of primary flood insurance for homeowners and businesses. Private insurers have offered only excess flood coverage, which does not apply until federal flood insurance has been used up. Fortunately, some flood insurance buyers now have an alternative to the federal flood program. In October of last year a Florida company called The Flood Insurance Agency began selling primary flood policies underwritten by a syndicate at Lloyd's of London. If all goes well, more insurers may enter the primary flood insurance market.
The summer of 2014 will be the hottest on record according to article in The Independent, an online newspaper. A team of scientists in Germany have predicted that that El Nino conditions are likely to form later this year. The scientists say that the likelihood that an El Nino will occur is 75%. What is an El Nino and why is it important?
Suppose one of your employees asks for permission to use electronic cigarettes in the workplace. How should you respond? This can be a hard question to answer. For one thing, few studies have been done on the health effects of e-cigarettes. Secondly, e-cigarettes are exempt from most tobacco laws. The Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate them unless they are marketed for therapeutic purposes. Moreover, most state, county and municipal regulations regarding workplace smoking are silent on e-cigarettes. According to an article in the National Law Review, only three states (New Jersey, Utah and North Dakota) ban e-cigarettes in the workplace.
It seems like every week I read yet another news item about an employee who has committed workers compensation fraud. A scenario recently described in the Insurance Journal is typical. A worker in Texas (let's call him Fred) filed a workers compensation claim for an alleged work-related injury. Fred was receiving disability benefits because he was supposedly too badly injured to work. However, the insurer that was paying Fred's benefits discovered that Fred was not really disabled. At the time he was collecting disability benefits, Fred was operating a tree-trimming business and working as a truck driver for another employer. Fred was convicted of fraud and ordered to reimburse the insurer the $7500 he'd received in disability payments.
How important is proper maintenance? Residents of Charleston, West Virginia have learned a hard lesson about the hazards of a poorly maintained chemical tank. A tank owned by Freedom Industries, a chemical distributor, ruptured last week. The rupture caused two chemicals, MCHM and PPH, to spill into the Elk River. The river is the primary source of drinking water for Charleston and the surrounding area. After the water became contaminated, residents of the area were told to stop using tap water. The ban was in place for four days and then was gradually lifted. For the people affected by the ban, those four days must have been very long!
News stories about last week's polar vortex brought back memories of snow plows and icy roads. I grew up in America's Mid-Atlantic Region, where few people dare to venture out on the roads in winter without snow tires. I moved to California many years ago. While there are a number of things I miss about the East Coast, winter driving isn't one of them. Driving can be stressful, even in good weather. For me, driving in snow is totally nerve-wracking.
Once place I've never been but would love to visit is Yellowstone National Park. The park, located in northwest Wyoming, is unique in that it contains an active volcano. It sits on one of the world's largest calderas. Lately, a number of news outlets, including the Examiner, have suggested that Yellowstone is about to blow. An Examiner article published this week stated that a volcano at Yellowstone "could destroy civilization on earth as we know it." Wow! Should we all be preparing for imminent death? Maybe not quite yet.
Many small businesses engage in contracts as a normal part of their business. For a contract to be enforceable, it must meet several key requirements. One of these is mutual assent. This means that all parties to the contract must agree on its terms. One small business owner must have forgotten about this requirement when he tried to impose a one-sided agreement on an unsuspecting customer. The owner of KlearGear, an online retail store, tried to protect his company's reputation by enforcing a non-disparagement clause. His actions have had the opposite effect, generating a public relations nightmare. Here's a brief summary of events as reported by CNN.