Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Holocaust Survivor, Young Man Form Deep Friendship

Posted on: No Comments

By Paul Tennant ptennant@eagletribune.com, CARL RUSSO Staff photo. Apr 4, 2016Kyle Fay

ANDOVER — Fay Glick, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor, has a gift for beating the odds.

As a young woman in Nazi-occupied Poland, she stood in line for a train that was headed for a death camp. Instead, a German soldier pulled her out of the line and she ended up in a work camp, where she and other prisoners made munitions for the Third Reich.

“I never saw my parents again,” she recalled. Neither did she see her three sisters. They were all most likely murdered, she said.

Many years later, after migrating to the United States, she and her husband Benjamin Glick, whom she met in Germany after World War II, took a bus from Haverhill, where they had been living, to Framingham.

She didn’t know anybody in the town, but she walked into the Fitts Insurance Agency and asked the owner to help her husband set up a tailoring shop.

“He said, ‘I’d like to help you,’” she recalled – and sure enough, the insurance man helped Benjamin Glick establish his business, which went on to thrive for more than 30 years.

A few years after Benjamin started his tailor shop, Fay decided it was time for them to buy a home of their own, so she looked at a house that was for sale, liked it and offered the owners $14,000, which they accepted.

“I bought the house without my husband,” she said with a laugh. There’s a Yiddish word for that kind of pluck: chutzpah.  Today, Fay Glick lives at Atria Marland Place, a senior living community on Stevens Street. Age does not appear to have diminished her zest for life. Mary Mazza, activities director at Atria, said it’s remarkable that this woman, who suffered so much during her younger years and lost all of her immediate family members, always has a smile.

During the last few months, Glick has struck up a close friendship with Kyle Mittelman, a young man who made his bar mitzvah at Temple Emanuel on Feb. 28.  Kyle, a seventh-grader at Doherty Middle School, explained that bar mitzvah is “when a Jewish boy becomes a Jewish adult.” In preparation for this milestone, he was expected to carry out a service project. Kyle decided that for his project, he would visit and make friends with the elderly residents of Atria Marland Place. “It was Kyle’s idea,” Mazza said. Kyle and Glick quickly formed a bond. When he made bar mitzvah at the temple, he had to read from the Torah in Hebrew.

Written Hebrew does not have vowels, making it very challenging for people who don’t speak it every day. Kyle’s friend at Atria Marland, however, speaks Hebrew – besides English, German, Polish and Yiddish.  She helped her young friend with conversational Hebrew, thus giving him more confidence with the language. Now that he has made bar mitzvah, Kyle could have ended his visits to Atria.

That has not happened, however. He helps prepare meals on Saturdays and continues to visit Glick and his other friends at the community. He gladly participates in games with the residents. “He has a deep compassion for seniors,” Mazza said. “They look forward to him coming here.”  Kyle will turn 13 later this month. Mazza said it’s rare for a person so young to have such a large store of compassion and empathy.

From Glick, he has learned firsthand that being Jewish can be dangerous – and too often fatal. This woman was a girl of 16 in Poland when the Nazis conquered her homeland and began putting Jews in ghettos and concentration camps. Her family was initially taken to a ghetto in Czestochowa. “I was trying to work to get food,” she recalled. She swept streets among other tasks. Eventually, the Germans segregated parents from their children.

Kyle paid rapt attention as his Hebrew tutor described her experiences as a prisoner, stripped of her freedom and dignity because of her religion. Describing the treatment she suffered as “horrible” and “cruel,” he said it troubles him that people can be tortured and killed because they are different.

Kyle said he would like to be a chemist some day, “but I’ll probably be a casino dealer,” he said with a chuckle.  Glick, who used to love going to casinos when she was more independent, laughed, too. “He’s a good boy,” she said. Kyle is the son of Joel and Beth Mittelman of Andover.

Benjamin Glick, who died in 1995 at 77, had a brother Leo Glick, who operated the Louie the Tailor Shop on Merrimack Street, Haverhill, from 1950 until he died in 1987 at 75. Benjamin was imprisoned at Auschwitz, where he was forced to make uniforms for German soldiers. Leo survived eight Nazi death camps, according to a July 27, 1987, Eagle-Tribune article.

Frozen Pipes

Posted on: No Comments

Water FaucetHere at Fitts Insurance, we took MANY water pipe claims this week.  Our mild winter came to an abrupt end with the record freezing temps this past weekend.  Frozen pipes, burst pipes, flooding, water damage, and the resulting clean up were on tap for some clients. And though we may be out of the deep freeze at the moment, there is still some winter left to weather. 

The following information on how to prevent or deal with frozen pipes may be needed next week or next winter.  In either case, this is information that homeowners, tenants, and businessowners alike should know or have on hand as a reference for when it is needed.

There are three common causes of frozen pipes according to the American Red Cross and any one, or a combination of them, can cause a pipe problem:

  • Rapid drop in temperature
  • Poor insulation
  • Thermostats being set too low

Not all pipes need special care but those that are exposed to the outdoors, nearest the building’s outer walls, or under the foundation are the ones that are most at risk.  And since Mother Nature is beyond taming, that leaves us with doing our best to protect ourselves and our property from her harsher moods.  So what can you do?

  • Set your thermostat to the same temp day & night.  Nights are usually colder, so turning down the heat is not a good idea
  • Use heat tape, heat cables or foam sleeves to wrap the pipes
  • Remember water freezes at 32 degrees. When it’s in the 20s and teens, we are already well below freezing!
  • Make sure you have enough insulation in the outer walls to keep the cold out
  • Check to see that your garage door and other exterior doors are closed
  • Open hot & cold faucets to a slow drip
  • Seal any leaks or cracks that allow the cold air in
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to allow heat to reach un-insulated pipes near exterior walls (remove any household cleaners and chemicals out of the reach of children)
  • Know the location of your internal shut off valves in case a pipe bursts or leaks
  • If you are going away, shut off the water supply line to your washing machine
  • Drain and shut off all outside spigots
  • Mark the shut off to the main water supply line so it can be easily identified
  • If you are going way, set the thermostat to 60 degrees
  • Have someone check on your house when you can’t be there
  • Use a temp-controlled thermal convection powered hot water recirculation valve
  • Use a product called ICE LOC which prevents pipes from rupturing by taking up the expansion of the frozen water
  • Use a RedyTemp, a device which utilizes an internal water contacting temperature probe to monitor the temp of the water inside the pipes

Having done all you can, you still may find it was not enough and your pipes have frozen.  Now what?  Here are a few options to try:

  • To thaw a frozen pipe, first check the pipe for  the area where frozen
  • Heat the area around the frozen part with an electric space heater, a hand-held hair dryer, or a heat lamp with a reflector to prevent a fire.  NEVER use a blow torch or open flame!
  • DO NOT use electrical appliances in or near standing water
  • If there is flooding, turn off the main water valve and call 911

Should you find that in spite of your efforts, the pipe remains frozen, keep the faucet(s) open and call a plumber immediately.

You can find more information, pictures, diagrams, step by step instructions and video at:   http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Frozen-Water-Pipes

Should you have a claim from a frozen pipe or have a question, you can call us at 508-620-6200 or email us at info@fittsinsurance.comYou can also put a claim in directly by contacting your company.  Claims information for your company can be found on our website: www.FittsInsurance.com.

PROTECTING A BUSINESS FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUITS

Posted on: No Comments
By now, employers should all realize and understand that sexual harassment is illegal. However, what employers might not be aware of is that the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings in June of 1998 that expanded what is termed sexual harassment; expanded the responsibility that employers have to provide a work environment that’s non-hostile; and did away with harassed employees having to prove that their company holds some responsibility or that their career suffered from lack of promotion, firing, demotion, or such. Employers are now directly responsible for employee behavior, thereby giving harassed employees more recourse in bringing about legal actions against employers. Work-related harassment and discrimination cases have been climbing steadily since the Civil Rights Act of 1991 allowed for trial by jury, compensatory damages, and punitive damages in legal cases involving discrimination. In fact, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the amount of annual employment harassment and discrimination cases being filed grew by more than 13% between 1997 and 2009.

Any employer that’s ever been involved in a sexual harassment suit can attest that the cost to settle or defend a sexual harassment lawsuit can be jaw dropping. The average award for damages in these types of lawsuits is around $650,000, and that isn’t even including the secondary cost from workplace disruption, bad publicity, and those involved in the suit being absent from work.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

The first step in protection is understanding what is defined as sexual harassment. State and federal law prohibits behavior that involves an employee in authority basing professional expectations or decisions regarding a subordinate employee being willing or unwilling to exchange sexual acts. The following are examples of such behavior:

  • Altering expectations of job performance when a subordinate repeatedly refuses advances for a date or sexual encounter.
  • A superior demanding sexual acts in order for a subordinate to receive a raise or promotion.
  • Disciplinary action, including termination, of a subordinate that refuses sexual advances or ends an existing romantic relationship.

However, sexual harassment doesn’t always involve a subordinate/authority figure relationship. An offender can be anyone from a coworker to a customer or business vendor. The offender can be male or female, as can the victim. Furthermore, the victim doesn’t even need to be the employee actually harassed. Anyone that’s affected by the harassing or offensive behavior can be termed a victim; for example, an employee that overhears two other employees discussing a taboo subject. The two employees directly involved might not be offended, but if the overhearing employee is offended, then it can constitute sexual harassment.

Verbal, visual, physical, or written behavior that causes another employee to view the work environment as hostile, are unwanted, or focus on the sexuality or gender of another person may constitute as sexual harassment. Specific examples of such would be teasing, suggestive objects or pictures being displayed, and repetitively requesting sexual acts or dates verbally or in writing.

Protection with Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI).

After knowing what constitutes sexual harassment, businesses can further financially protect themselves with Employment Practices Liability insurance (EPLI). This is an insurance to protect employers when an employee makes the claim that their legal rights have been violated. Although policies vary, EPLI generally doesn’t cover criminal or civil penalties and punitive damages. EPLI does generally cover settlements, judgments, and incurred legal costs arising from an array of incidences – wrongful termination, employment contract breaches, employment and promotion failures, wrongful disciplinary actions, wrongful emotional distress infliction, negligent employee evaluations, employee benefit plan mismanagement, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Coverage is specific. So, before purchasing a policy, decide who should be covered. For example, should full and part-time employees, contracted persons, supervisors, department heads, subsidiaries, company divisions, and so forth be covered or not? One other note about EPLI is that it’s mandatory for employers to report incidents within a reasonable amount of time. Some policies might feature an ERP (extended reporting period) or prior acts. The length, cost, and availability vary by carrier.

Purchasing EPLI has been challenging for small companies in the past. However, the 2004 rate increases have somewhat plateaued. Some rates have even decreased. Keep in mind that EPLI cost is figured based on the business type, employee numbers, and past lawsuits associated with the business.

Prevention of Harassment Lawsuits.

Prevention is the cornerstone in decreasing the risk of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Prevention steps include the following key elements:

  • If the business has EPLI, any incident should be reported immediately.
  • Create, communicate, and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for workplace sexual harassment.
  • Have an effective harassment complaint process in place and take immediate, consistent, and appropriate action when a complaint is made.
  • Thoroughly document all complaints and the following investigation and actions.

Employment Practices Liability: The Coming Plague

Posted on: No Comments

EPL articleEmployment Practices Liability (EPL) differs from other professional and management coverage since it protects the company from acts which violate the employees’ legal rights of employment.

What are these rights?

1. Sexual Harassment

2. Discrimination (sex, race, national origin, age religion or color)

3. Wrongful Termination

4. Constructive Discharge

5. Infliction of Emotional Distress

6. Violation of the Family Leave Act

The meaning of the laws regarding these rights and insurance coverage for these acts is fairly well established.  Policy language and court cases have hammered out some of the conflict.

From a risk management perspective, sensitivity training and the development and implementation of strict behavioral guidelines greatly reduces the risk of claims.

Three factors in this risk change almost daily and must be addressed.  State laws may expand the protected classes (sexual orientation) covered by employment law.  These suits are massively expensive to litigate.  Thirdly, outsiders like contractors, customers, and suppliers are now claiming under this tort.

Although States regulate insurance, insurance companies tend to be regional and national; therefore, policy language does not always represent state law or the conditions under which the laws apply.

Have your state-licensed insurance agent read policy language to assure proper coverage in each state your company operates.

The policy limit includes litigation costs and claim payouts.  Legal fees are not add-ons as in other liability policies.  So, as the insurance company lawyer negotiates at length, your available funds to settle dwindle.  This process can become a very dangerous game of chicken for your assets.  Increase limits accordingly and keep informed as to the progress of any negotiations.

Customers, suppliers and contract labor are beginning to avail themselves of this course of action.  Train all employees and implement strict behavioral protocols at all levels and duties.

Most important, assure your managers spot poor or reckless behavior early, and correct it.  Zero tolerance policies work in this area.  You wouldn’t want to work in a truly hostile environment.  Don’t turn your back on these behaviors.

Tax Season Riddled With ID Theft Scams

Posted on: No Comments

 

LAdyThe IRS says more than 3,000 taxpayers have been victimized by phone scammers claiming to be IRS agents and demanding payments by either by pre-paid debit cards, or by deposit into online payment accounts.

The IRS says it doesn’t call taxpayers to discuss their accounts, so anyone receiving such a call should hang up quickly.

Another potential danger for taxpayers is identity thieves using personal information to file fraudulent tax returns, and stealing their refunds. A number of states have enacted stricter identity verification methods to try to reduce this threat.

Tax season also brings with it an increase in email phishing scams in which criminals send emails claiming to be from the IRS, in the hopes victims will enter personal information into a false IRS or banking website.

Scammers are also trying to exploit confusion about the Affordable Care Act by demanding people pay ACA-related tax penalties to them.

All these scams highlight the importance of taking active steps to protect your identity, and the need for heightened vigilance during tax season.

Maria Cordeiro is client services manager for Chubb Personal Insurance.  Posted: 17 Mar 2015 08:34 AM PDT

Falling Ice and Collapsing Roofs

Posted on: No Comments

Roof IceWe have been hearing – almost daily – about the roofs that have collapsed in our area due to the weight of the snow and ice on them.  We have also been hearing of damage that has occurred when ice chunks and snow slides have fallen from roofs onto property, vehicles or people below them.  And if you take a quick drive you will easily see several buildings and homes with picturesque snow mounds and icicle colonies right on the edge of the roof just ready to take the plunge earthward……and hopefully no one is near when that happens.Icicles

So, we can not stress strongly enough that if you can safely take actions to prevent any of these things from happening with your property you should and if not, looking into hiring a company that can.  Beside observation, you should also be aware of signs that a roof is overburdened with snow, such as creaking noises, windows and doors that won’t open, or the appearance of sagging in roof trusses or beams.  If any of these signs appear, evacuate the building quickly and safely, and contact your snow-removal and insurance professionals.

Read more in this article from Erik Olsen, from Chubb Group.

How Ready Is Your Roof?

Although falling snow can turn almost any neighborhood into a winter wonderland, commercial building owners and managers have to guard against snow causing roof leaks or, in the most severe cases, building collapse.

Careful roof inspections and routine maintenance are important year-round, but become critical as temperatures drop and the potential for snow increases.

A Watchful Eye One of the most important preventative measures you can take to protect a roof against snow and ice damage is inspecting it on a regular basis. If conditions allow safe access to the roof, your engineering or facilities staff should make sure roof drains are clear and operating properly, and ice isn’t accumulating near the roof’s drains or perimeter flashing. If ice forms a dam near the roof’s edge or around drains, for instance, it can damage the roof’s membrane and allow water to penetrate below the roof causing severe water damage.

The inspection should also evaluate the general condition of the roof, and should include signs of damage such as unprotected roof penetrations or bolted connections from telecommunications or solar equipment that has been installed on the roof.

Protecting Against Collapse A catastrophic risk for commercial buildings is the potential for collapse if the roof is not able to support the weight of accumulated snow and ice.

In snow-prone regions, older buildings may not have been designed for accumulated snow (or may be vulnerable to large snow drifts in a corner of the roof). Similarly, buildings with large, long expanse flat roofs — such as warehouses — may be more vulnerable to collapse than buildings with slanted or shorter span roofs.

Because the weight of snow can vary considerably according to its moisture content, there are no hard-and-fast guidelines for how much snow is too much for a roof. In general terms, though, if a storm accumulation approaches a foot, it’s a good idea to consider having snow removed from the roof’s surface.

To reduce the risk of workers damaging the roof or the potential for falls, it’s a good idea to bring in a contractor with the experience and equipment needed to remove snow safely from a roof. You should meet with the contractor, ideally long before a storm, to inspect the roof and review plans to bring equipment onto the roof and to remove accumulated snow. An important consideration is how they would remove it, ideally in an even fashion so as to prevent uneven weight distribution, and where they would place the relocated snow around the perimeter of the structure.

Those discussions should also include, for instance, the contractor’s use of fall-protection procedures and equipment, and measures to reduce the risk of people near the building being struck by blown snow or falling ice.

Signs of Danger Property managers and tenants should also be aware of signs that a roof is overburdened with snow, such as creaking noises, windows and doors that won’t open, or the appearance of sagging in roof trusses or beams.

If any of these signs appear, evacuate the building quickly and safely, and contact your snow-removal and insurance professionals.

Erik Olsen is an assistant vice-president and senior risk loss control property specialist with the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.

With Record Low Temps – Here’s Some Timely Advice

Posted on: No Comments

Prevent freeze-related damage to your building

A brutal blast of cold weather is going to hit over the next few days. It’s not too late to take simple and critical action to prepare for freezing weather and prevent catastrophic damage to your organization or home.

25% of businesses involved in a major property disaster do not reopen.*

Now is the time to take preventative steps to protect your house or organization from freezing conditions by utilizing PHLY’s POINT system. Visit PHLY.com/POINT or click below to watch a video on preventing pipe freeze and subsequent water damage. You’ll also find other winter weather checklists and tips that you can download to help you survive this record New England winter.

Prevent freeze-related damage to your building
*Source: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety

How to Handle a Hit-and-Run Accident

Posted on: No Comments

   by Frankie Rodriguez

 

Imagine you come out of your favorite restaurant or out of the mall after a day of shopping only to find your bumper hanging off your vehicle. You look around to see if there’s another vehicle with damage  because, after all, misery loves company. As luck would have it, this life experience is yours alone to endure.

Your first thought might be to look for someone who may have witnessed the impact, but there is no one around. Then you remember that one of your New Year’s resolutions was to have more faith in society and you think, “surely someone left a note taking full responsibility for the damages!” You check your windshield. No note. Now what?

Hit-and-run accidents are a common occurrence. Generally, at least one hit-and-run accident is reported on a daily basis, so you are not alone. The first thing you should do is some minor scene investigating. If you have a smart phone, get pictures of the damages to your vehicle at the scene. Look around the parking lot for surveillance cameras. Businesses often have them for safety reasons and generally have a video back up. If a surveillance camera recorded your accident, the video could assist the local authorities in identifying the at-fault party. Check with the business and see if you can get a copy of the video, but I advise obtaining the video within 24 hours as many cameras with video back up are set on a loop and will record over themselves within a day.

Next, contact the local police department or private security firm responsible for patrolling the area. This is an important step if you hope to file this incident as an uninsured motorist loss. Most automobile policies require you to report a hit-and-run to local authorities for this coverage to apply.

Finally, contact your local insurance agent and report your loss. They will contact your insurance company and your adjuster can guide you through the next phase of the process.

A hit-and-run is anything but fun, but with quick action on your part, you may be able to avoid paying the price!

Share this:

Ice Melt Methods

Posted on: No Comments

Best Outdoor Ice Melting Tips for Sidewalk Safety

Winter ice and snow make your outdoor sidewalks and stairs extremely slippery. If someone visits your home and slips or falls, you will most likely be liable. Use the best ice melting solution to ensure safety around your property all winter.

More

What’s the difference between an on-line insurance provider and an insurance agency?

Just as one might use a CPA to prepare their income taxes or an attorney to help them with their estate planning, many choose to use an insurance agency to write their insurance policies. This choice is mainly made because a person feels they need professional advice during the process. Of course, everyone will have different needs and circumstances surrounding their purchase, and this is why an insurance professional’s advice can be an invaluable asset. If you’re debating buying insurance online versus through insurance agency, then you should ask yourself a couple of questions: More