Recently, two very important acts regarding California Workers Compensation and COVID-19 were signed into law.

SB 1159

On September 17th, 2020 Gavin Newsome signed into law Senate Bill 1159, which creates three statues in regards to workers compensation benefits for COVID-19 claims.

  • This new law now includes illness or death resulting from COVID-19, under specified circumstances, as an “occupational injury” and is eligible for workers compensation benefits.
  • Takes place immediately until January 1st, 2023
  • Employers must report any COVID-19 cases to their claims administration

This new law creates a presumption that an employee who reports COVID-19 symptoms contracted the virus at their workplace. This presumption is only valid if the employee contracted the virus during a workplace outbreak and was present in their workplace in the 14 days before taking their COVID-19 test.

 

Workers Compensation COVID 19

An “outbreak” exists if, within 14 calendar days, one of the following occurs
at a specific place of employment:
(A) If the employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment, 4
employees test positive for COVID-19.
(B) If the employer has more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment,
4 percent of the number of employees who reported to the specific place of
employment, test positive for COVID-19.
(C) A specific place of employment is ordered to close by a local public health
department, the State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational
Safety and Health, or a school superintendent due to a risk of infection with COVID19.

 

AB-685

Bill AB-685 will go into effect on 01/01/2021. This will require employers to do the following:

  • Notify employees, in writing, of any potential exposure to COVID-19 from a “qualifying individual” within 1 business day
  • Include instructions to contact the local health department for testing
  • Instructions for home quarantine, isolation, and monitoring of symptoms
  • Available rights under state and federal laws
  • Safety plans

 

CA SB1159 Legislation requires employers with five or more employees to report
positive COVID-19 tests to their Claim Administrator within three business days of
receiving employee notification.

 

For help with your companies workers compensation insurance, reach out to one of the insurance professionals at Don Williams & Associates today at 408-402-3646 or online here.

What is the best home insurance option for residents in San Jose?

If you’re like most homeowners in San Jose, your home is your most valuable asset, and should be protected as such. When your home is damaged or destroyed, you need your claim settled by an insurance company that understands the importance of the place you call home.

 

Regardless of whether you live in San Jose, Los Gatos, Campbell, or any other part of California, your homeowners insurance is one of the most important insurance policies you can have.

A common question we receive from clients who are looking for home insurance in San Jose is, who are the most competitive carriers? It is important to understand finding out who the best home insurance provider in San Jose is will depend on a few different factors. No two homeowners insurance policies are created equal and each individual client has their own unique insurance needs.

Who are the most competitive carriers?

Here is a list of the current homeowners insurance carriers that we have found to be the most competitive for clients searching for home insurance in San Jose. These companies currently have the best rates, coverage options, and customer service:

Safeco Insurance

Who is a good fit for Safeco?

Safeco is everything you look for in a homeowners insurance provider. Great rates, great customer services, and all the coverages and endorsements needed to to ensure your home is property protected.

Safeco also offers really affordable pricing for high value homes, rental properties, and any jewelry or fine art you may need specifically insured on your homeowners policy.

Safeco is one of the few carriers that will insure your secondary home, without requiring to insure your primary home. Always best to keep the two properties with the same carrier though.

They are also one of the few carriers that offers the option to pay on a monthly recurring credit card, with no additional fees.

Who is not a good fit for Safeco?

If you live in an area that is considered to be in a high wildfire risk, Safeco is not going to be an option for you. For these types of homes you may want to ask us about our next carrier…

 

 

Nationwide Insurance

Who is a good fit for Nationwide?

Depending on your homes location Nationwide can be much more accepting than other carriers in regards insuring properties located in high wildfire risk areas. Nationwide also offers a large multi policy discount for packing your auto insurance with your home.

If you are purchasing a new home they offer a new home purchase discount, a claims free discount,  as well as an age of construction discount for homes that were built relatively recently.

 

Who is not a good fit for Nationwide?

If you have a very high value home and your dwelling coverage exceeds $2M you currently would not be eligible for a policy with Nationwide. They do have a separate Nationwide Private client division that we have access to that can attend these clients needs.

 

 

Who is a good fit for Mercury?

Mercury has extremely competitive auto insurance rates, so if you want to insure your home with Mercury we always recommend packaging your auto insurance with them as well. Like Nationwide they also offer discounts for new homes, customers who are loss free, and for having a monitored fire or burglar alarm.

 

Who is not a good fit for Mercury?

If your property has a fireline score above 4 it is almost always going to be ineligible with Mercury, but we can always double check on that for you.  They also are not as competitive for clients who have had multiple losses in the past 3 years.

 

Who is a good fit for Travelers?

Travelers has very good rates for high value homes and offers a discount for newly purchased homes and newly built homes. Like Safeco, they will also insure your secondary residence without having to insure your primary home.

They also offer a large multi policy discount that you will want to take advantage of, as well as a loss free discount. They also offer a DIC(difference in conditions) endorsement if your home has to be placed with the California Fair Plan.

Who is not a good fit with Travelers?

If you are only interested in insuring your home and nothing else, they are probably not the best fit for you. They give greater discounts for bundling all of your policies together.

 

These are simply some of the carriers we have found to be the most competitive for those purchasing home insurance in San Jose. We have access to a number of other carriers who may also be able to provide you with an even better overall value.

 

How to make sure you have the right coverages in place

Every home is unique, and therefore requires a carefully crafted policy. To make sure you not only have been placed with the right insurance carrier, but are also receiving the most valuable combination of coverage and pricing, you need to work with an independent agent.

At Don Williams and Associates we have been helping homeowners in the Bay Area and all of California insure their properties for almost 60 years. An independent agent gives you access to a wide range of companies, different product types, claims assistance, can make the process of switching from one carrier to another extremely easy, and you are also supporting a local business.

 

Contact us today at 408.402.3646 for your personalized homeowners insurance proposal!

What is the workers compensation experience mod, one may ask? The workers compensation experience mod is designed to measure whether a companies workers compensation losses are worse or better than expected.

The base rating for a mod is 1.0, which represents the industry standard for your type of business. If a companies losses are worse than expected they will have a mod higher than 1.0(debit mod), meaning they will pay more in workers comp premium than a business of the same type that has a lower experience mod or even a mod below 1.0(credit mod).

For example, if we have two identical restaurants, they will each have their own mod based on their own loss experience. XYZ restaurant has on ex-mod of .80, which means they will be paying less than the industry standard due to having a better loss history(credit mod). ABC restaurant has had a hard time implementing their employee safety program and has sustained a number of losses over the years. They have an ex-mod of 1.20(debit mod). If the original workers comp premium for both companies was $10,000, XYZ restaurants premium will be modified to $8,000, while ABC restaurant will be paying $12,000.

How is the mod calculated?

The workers compensation experience mod is calculated by the California Workers Comp Insurance Rating Bureau.  The workers compensation experience mod takes into consideration the frequency and severity of claims a company has had compared to companies in the same industry with similarly classified employees. Typically, the frequency of losses has a larger impact on the experience mod than the actual size of a companies losses. One large loss will not have as significant of an impact on your mod as 3-4 smaller losses.

Your Ex-mod is based on a three year period starting 4 years before your current policy inception date. So, a companies x-mod for 2020 will include their loss history and payroll for the years of 2016,2017,and 2018, not 2019.

A workers compensation loss consists of two parts. The primary loss threshold, which prior to 2017 accounted for the first $7,000 of a loss. The Excess portion of a loss, which prior to 2017 represented dollars paid out above the $7,000 threshold. California now uses split points, which determine a companies primary loss threshold. Based on your type of business this can mean your primary threshold ranges anywhere from $4,500 to $70,000. It is important to note that the first $250 of every claim is now excluded from the x-mod calculation.

So, if I had a primary loss threshold of $8,000 and incurred a $16,000 loss, I would have a primary loss of $7,750.

To keep this as simple as possible, an x-mod compares your actual losses to your expected losses.

Ap+Ee/E

Ap=Actual Primary Losses: The cost of losses incurred with each loss up to the insureds primary loss threshold.

Ee=Expected Excess Losses: Average losses expected for businesses of similar size and industry in excess of the primary loss threshold.

E=Expected Losses: The total losses expected for businesses in your industry and of similar size.

 

How do I lower my x-mod?

  • The first, and most obvious, thing you can do to lower your workers compensation costs is to reduce workplace accidents. Make sure you have a proper employee safety protocols in place, a return to work policy in place, and proper employee training to avoid any workplace injuries.
  • Make sure your insurance policy has all of the correct job classifications and payroll numbers
  • Get quotes from a broker that has experience writing workers compensation insurance. An agent from Don Williams & Associates can help find the right policy for your business!

 

Contact us today at 408-402-3646 for your personalized California Workers Compensation Insurance proposal!

A critical part to running your California business is making sure your employees are safe at work. Workers compensation coverage protects you and your employees from any work related injuries and illnesses.

In California, as in most states, workers compensation coverage is required. Even if your business is headquartered in another state, as long as you have employees working California regularly your business needs to carry workers compensation coverage.

California Assembly Bill 5

In September 2019, California Assembly Bill 5(AB5) was signed and went into effect on January 1st, 2020.

The new bill changes how workers in California as classified. Under AB5, companies that hire independent contractors have to reclassify them as employees unless that can prove that:

  1. They are free from control or direction in work performance
  2. Perform specialized services that differ from a clients usual business
  3. Maintain an independently established business offering services to clients

This also know as the “ABC Test”. Here is an example:

Scott, a licensed electrician, is hired by Wildcat Grill, a new restaurant, to make updates to the building.  Scott is not considered an employee of Wildcat Grill for 3 reasons:

  1. He was not under control or direction of Wildcat Grill in regards to installing the new wiring
  2. The work performed by Scott was outside Wildcat Grills usual scope of business- restaurant vs electrical work
  3. The work Scott did is consistent with work he is Customarily engaged in providing other businesses with(electrical work)

Exceptions

Certain businesses have exceptions to the new bill such  accountants, engineers, physicians, lawyers, marketing professional, barbers, and manicurists.

As the bill technically went into effect January 1st, 2020, the part that impacts workers compensation insurance went into effect July 1st, 2020.

 

Now what?

As the bill technically went into effect January 1st, 2020, the part that impacts workers compensation insurance went into effect July 1st, 2020.

  • This new bill now means that a worker whom you may have classified an an independent contractor before July 1st is now considered an employee after July 1st.        
  • If you hire a contractor and the contractor maintains workers comp coverage for themselves and their employees make sure you obtain a certificate of insurance for have on file come audit time.
  • It is critical to make sure you have the proper workers compensation policy in place that has your payroll is correctly classified to avoid ending up with a huge bill after your yearly audit.

We are here to help in in anyway possible with these new updates. Make sure to give Don Williams and Associates a call  at 408-402-3646 and see how one of our Risk Management Professionals can make sure you are not one of the many business owners who is over paying for workers compensation insurance.

Today we are going to look at the top 10 most financially costly causes of loss that appeared on workers compensation claims in 2019. These injuries may not occur more frequently than others but the costs associated with these claims add up to billions of dollars.

 

Not only do you want to avoid having any injury costs and a claim on your CA workers comp insurance, but you also don’t want your essential workers to be left on the sideline for extended periods of time.

 

Here are Liberty Mutual indexs 10 most costly causes of workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019:

Cost(Billions)

  1. Overexertion involving outside sources                                                                                                                    $13.11
  2. Falls on same level                                                                                                                                                         $38
  3. Being struck by an object or equipment                                                                                                                    $22
  4. Employee falling to a lower level                                                                                                                                 $4.98
  5. Other exertions or bodily reaction                                                                                                                              $3.69
  6. Roadway incident involving motorized vehicles                                                                                                      $2.70
  7. Slip or trip without falling                                                                                                                                             $2.18
  8. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects                                                                                                  $1.93
  9. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks                                                                                                                   $1.59
  10. Struck against an object or equipment                                                                                                                       $1.15

 

Some of these injuries can happen in a setting as casual as an office or as busy as a construction site. As a business owner in California, what can you do to mitigate these risks? Not only do you need an employee safety program in place and proper employee training, but you need to be able to financially protect your employees. If you are looking for CA workers comp coverage give Don Williams & Associates a call and see how we can help protect your business!

 

Insurance companies have been put in a very tough situation these past few years. California has been devastated with uncontrollable wildfires, leaving the insurance industry with over $26 Billion in losses. This has resulted in thousands of customers experiencing non-renewals from their long time insurance carriers, making it difficult for customers needing to obtain California fire insurance.

 

According to the department of insurance around 350,000 homeowners insurance policies were dropped in the last four years for these very reasons. The Los Gatos hills, in particular the 95033 area code, has been one of those areas where finding  insurance companies has become difficult. This has not only impacted the insurance market but has had a significant impact on the real estate market in these impacted areas.

 

 

 

Many customers wonder how insurance companies decide whether or not their home is located in an area of high risk. Insurance Companies use different fire scoring models but the most popular is using satellite data to calculate a properties fireline score. This takes into consideration factors like road access, slope, amount of surrounding fuel(types of trees, brush, etc.)  and the time it takes for the fire department to respond. Typically these scores range from 0-1(low), 2-3(moderate), 4-12(high),13-30 (extreme). These scores can be vastly different based on different scoring models.

 

Insurance companies also take your protection class into consideration. This provides insurance companies with data about your surrounding community. Your protection class score is based off your communities ability to prevent and mitigate fires. Factors that go into your protection class score include the nearest fire stations location, resources available for the fire department, proximity to water, equipment available, capability of water supplies, and more.

The 2020 fire season in California has unfortunately already started off with an increase in fire activity. The CZU, SCU, and LNU lighting complex fires have destroyed thousands of structures and burnt almost 1,000,000 acres.

When hard times like these arise it is crucial that you have taken the time to ensure that you have the proper insurance policy in place and have taken to necessary steps to mitigate any fire damage to your home.

Here are the two most important steps you can take to make sure your home is properly protected.

Financially Protect Your Home During Fire Season

 

  • With only a few companies in California willing to insure homes located in these areas it is extremely important to find an independent agent. Why an independent agent? An independent agent has the ability to check with a number of different homeowners insurance providers and will also have access to surplus lines carriers, who specialize in insuring these unique risks. We also have access to the California Fair Plan, which can act as a last resort for finding homeowners insurance.

At Don Williams and Associates we not only have access to a variety of homeowners insurance carriers, but we have a long history of writing these types of risks and understand this market like the back of our hand.

  • Mitigate Fire Hazards On Your Property:

1.Make sure you create a defensible space around your home by clearing all debris and brush that is directly surrounding your home.

  1. Make sure any propane and fuel tanks are a minimum 30 feet away from your home
  2. Make sure your smoke detector is working property. It also does not hurt to install a monitored fire alarm.
  3. Trim any overhanging tree branches that touch or come close to your home.
  4. Remove Debris from the roof and gutters
  5. If you are installing a new roof it would be smart to consider using a roof with noncombustible materials. Metal, tile, slate, and concrete roofs are going to be more fire resistant than a wood shake roof.
  6. Make sure your street and driveway have enough clearance to allow firetrucks to access your property
  7. Use Home Defense Fire Retardant(https://phos-chekhomedefense.com/)

 

 

If you are a California resident that needs help finding California fire insurance you can also fill out the form below and one of our homeowners insurance experts will reach out to you immediately.

Homeowners Insurance Request

 

 

 

Restaurant owners are some of the most passionate business owners. They work tirelessly to make sure they consistently please their customers by providing amazing food and service. However, the restaurant business comes with many obstacles.

One of those obstacles is making sure you protect your employees by minimizing any workplace hazards. Restaurants, bars, and caterers all have to make sure employees are operating in a safe work environment. Having procedures in place to properly handle food, sharp knives, hot liquids, and a number of other hazardous materials is essential for all restaurant owners.

What is Workers Compensation?

Workers Compensation pays benefits to employees who are injured or contract a disease on the job.  Workers Compensation is mandatory in California for all employers, even if you only have one employee. In California, you can purchase workers compensation through the State Fund or from a private insurer.

 

What Type Of Benefits Can an Injured Employee Recieve?

Medical benefits

Medical benefits account for more than half of the total workers compensation benefit payments in the U.S. This covers any medical expenses that an employee incurs due to a work-related injury or illness.

Disability Benefits

Disability benefits are designed to replace your employee’s loss of income after a work-related injury.  Although there are four classes of disability the most common is a temporary total disability. In this scenario, an employee is expected to recover from the injury and return to work but cannot work during the recovery period. The weekly benefit for a worker with a temporary total disability is two-thirds of your average weekly wage.

Injured employees can also receive rehabilitation benefits, as well as death benefits to their surviving family.

 

business property insurance Los Gatos CA

How is My Rate Calculated?

Your Workers Comp rates are calculated based on a few different factors:

  • Annual Payroll
  • Number of Employees
  • Class Code
  • Experience Mod

Your payroll typically includes employee wages or salaries, bonuses, paid time off, commissions,etc.

Your class code is determined by the operation of your business, in this case, restaurants. Restaurant class codes can vary based on the type of restaurant(full service, fast food, bar).

Experience Mod

The experience mod is a method for calculating workers comp premiums based on your individual loss history. Your experience mod measures your loss history to that of other companies in your industry.

An experience of 1.0 means that your business performed precisely the way a company of your size and class should perform. When your mod goes over 1.0, it means that you have higher than average losses and results in an increase in premium. A mod below 1.0 is a credit mod and means that you will be getting a discount on your worker’s comp premiums.

How Do I Keep My Workers Compensation costs down?

The best way to keep your workers compensation costs down is to find an independent agent who has access to a variety of workers compensation carriers. This will not only provide you with many different carrier options but independent agents also have access to carriers who offer pay as you go insurance.

Instead of estimating your annual payroll and potentially overstating that amount, pay-as-you-go relies on real-time payroll to calculate premiums, which results in more accurate premium payments. This means that you will be less likely to be on the hook for a large audit adjustment at the end of the policy term because of under-reported payroll.

Another way to lower your workers compensation costs is to implement a safety program that all employees are required to follow. Preventing injuries can not only save lives but it will save you a lot of money on your workers compensation premium. The goal is to mitigate and remove any possible hazards that can lead to workplace injury or disease.

Restaurant Safety Program:

  • Implement a safety procedure to avoid cross-contamination and foodborne illness
  • Make sure all kitchen spills are cleaned immediately
  • Require employees to use protective equipment like cut resistant gloves for food prep
  • Make sure employees who use chemicals are properly trained with how to use them safely
  • Allow breaks from repetitive movements
  • Have employees avoid any awkward lifting
  • Never leave hot oil or grease unattended
  • Potholders, gloves, or mitts required when handling food on the stove or oven.
  • Provide proper storage for knives
  • Make sure knives are properly sharpened

 

 

Contact Don Williams & Associates Today

For over 60 years we have followed proven methods to reduce the cost of your workers compensation insurance. Give us a call today and find out how we have been helping restaurants in California save on workers compensation. Call 408-402-3646 or fill out a form here.

We look forward to helping with your restaurants insurance needs!

 

Homeowners insurance is one of the most important insurance products for any homeowner in Los Gatos. If you’re like most people, your home is your most valuable asset.  Your home is where your family will build memories that will last a lifetime. To protect such an important asset, making sure you have the proper insurance policies in place is imperative.

Homeowners insurance policies can differ based on the type of property you own, the different types of coverage you choose to protect your home with, and the amount of coverage you choose to carry.

Here are 5 tips that every homeowner in Los Gatos should follow when reviewing their home policy:

  1. Make sure you have sufficient dwelling coverage. What’s dwelling coverage? Dwelling coverage provides you with protection to replace or repair your home after an insurable loss like a fire. The one problem we see way too often when bringing on new clients is that they are currently extremely underinsured. The amount of dwelling coverage their current policy provides them with would simply not be enough to rebuild their home in the event it was destroyed. That’s where our job comes into play. We properly educate clients in making sure they have a sufficient amount of coverage to replace their home in the event of a major loss.
  2. Personal Liability coverage. Your liability coverage protects you against lawsuits for any bodily injury or property damage that you or a family member are found legally responsible for. This coverage includes legal fees and any court awards up to your policy limits.  If you have a pool, a trampoline, dogs, etc. you could be at risk for a major liability claim. We always recommend our clients carry at least $500,000 in personal liability coverage.
  3. Get an umbrella policy.  An umbrella policy protects you when the liability coverage on your homeowners insurance or auto insurance are exhausted from a major claim.  If you are in a serious auto accident and the other party suffers injuries that will now sideline them from being able to work for months, or years, they can sue you for lost income, medical bills, and pain and suffering. These costs can add up quickly. Without an umbrella policy you may be left having to pay for some of these expenses out of pocket. How do you know if you are carrying enough umbrella insurance? Depending on what you want to protect we like to recommend carrying enough liability insurance to cover your net assets. Not only will an umbrella help you sleep at night but they also very affordable. Sometimes they can also provide you with a discount on your auto and home insurance.
  4. Cover your valuable articles. Whether it’s your engagement ring, a piece of fine art, or that expensive piece of jewelry passed down to you from your grandmother, you need to make sure these items are properly insured. Homeowners insurance policies all have different limits of coverage for jewelry and fine art and these limits are typically not nearly enough to replace these special items you have acquired over the years. Some companies will give you the option to schedule these items on your homeowners insurance policy for a specific limit. These items then typically do not have a deductible and are covered for most types of losses. Others offer a personal article floater policy where you can have all of your valuable items insured together. Make sure you have a copy of a recent appraisal. Many companies require appraisals for items insured up to a certain limit.
  5. Find an Independent Agent. Many customers don’t fully understand how important this is. At the end of the day, many things separate one agent from another. The ability to proactively service their policyholders, their knowledge of the insurance industry, products, and different situations that may present themselves to their clients. An independent agent gives you access to a wide range of companies, different product types, claims assistance, can make the process of switching from one carrier to another extremely easy, and you are also supporting a local business.

For more information on how we have been helping individuals with homeowners insurance in Los Gatos give us a call at 408-402-3646 or fill out our online quote form and see how we can help you. https://www.donwilliamsinsurance.com/quotes/

Homeowners Insurance in Los Gatos, Ca.

I’m pretty confident that if you asked anyone who has ever owned a rental property you would get an overwhelming response that it’s not as lucrative or easy as they thought it would be. In fact, owning a rental property can be a major pain, and end up costing you a ton of money!

I certainly don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer”, and I know that if it’s done right it can be lucrative, but from an insurance agent’s perspective, I don’t see a lot of people doing it right.

So you’re probably thinking, “Well Chris, you are an insurance agent. What do you know about real estate or rental properties? Why should I take advice from you?”

I’m not a real estate agent, and I don’t own a rental property. However, several of my friends/family/clients/co-workers own rentals, and because I insure a bunch of their properties, I’ve had a first hand account of the process, and I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do.

Continue reading →

I was recently asked this question by one of our Don Williams & Associates clients, and thought I would share the answer here for our readers.

There are a lot of things that go into homeowners and auto insurance rates, one of them being credit. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who don’t like the fact that insurance companies use credit in their underwriting.

Some people have absolutely no idea that it’s used in the rate at all.

At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do about it though. Insurance companies have been using credit in their rates for decades, and that’s not likely to change.

By the way, insurance companies don’t pull your credit like a mortgage company or credit card company does. There is no negative impact on your credit as a result of an insurance company looking at it.

When I say “pull” what I mean is that the insurance company is doing what’s called a soft inquiry, which is not the same thing as having your credit pulled (hard inquiry).

When does credit play a role in insurance rates?
It’s important to understand that insurance companies don’t continuously check or monitor your credit. Usually, they only check it when you first get a quote and/or sign up with them in the very beginning.

This means that if your credit score increases (or decreases) your insurance company does not automatically know about it.

So, to my customers question of whether or not his increased credit score will lower his rates, the answer is not automatically.

What has to be done on our side as the agent is contact the carrier the insurance and ask them to do what’s commonly referred to as a “re-score”. This is when the insurance company can re-run the person’s credit (soft inquiry) to see if there is any positive bearing on the rate.

This isn’t something that the insurance company is going to let the agency do every single year, so it’s not worth even asking unless there has been a significant change in your credit score, and only you as the customer would know if that was the case.

If you’d like to get a better handle on your credit rating, it could be helpful to setup credit monitoring. We hope this was helpful! As always, leave us comment below if you have any questions.