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Watch Out for ACA-Related Risks!

Wed, 07 May 2014 12:49:48 +00002014-05-07T12:49:48Z

Since it its passage in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has been debated ad nauseam.  Yet, when over 800 employers were asked how familiar they were with the law, over a third stated that they didn't know much about it or its requirements. When asked whether they had prepared for the ACA, about a quarter of employers said no. The poll was conducted in March by Nielson Research. Its results are discussed in a news release issued by the Travelers Insurance Company. According to Travelers, the poll results suggest that a significant number of employers will face penalties for non-compliance of the ACA. These employers may also be subject to lawsuits, regulatory actions, and damage to their reputation. Don't be one of them! The poll revealed something interesting. Employers that were well-acquainted with the ACA were much more concerned  about employee lawsuits than their less-informed counterparts. Ignorance about the ACA may be bliss. However,  employers will not remain blissful if they are hit with a fine or a penalty for violating the ACA. Employers that fail to comply with the ACA may also be a target of lawsuits by disgruntled employees. Suppose an employee fails to enroll in your company-sponsored health plan. The employee is subsequently diagnosed with a serious illness and incurs large out-of-pocket expenses. The employee then sues you for negligence, claiming that he didn't sign up for benefits because you failed to properly inform him of his healthcare options. If you are a non-compliant employer, you may be also be subject to whistleblower lawsuits. Travelers notes that almost half of the poll respondents were unfamiliar with employee whistleblower protections. One of these is the Whistleblower Protection Program (WPP). Through this program, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than twenty statutes that protect employees.  These statutes allow employees to notify the government if their employer has violated various laws. For instance, your employees can report you for violating workplace safety, environmental or health insurance reform laws. For information about whistleblower suits related to the ACA, check out this fact sheet. How can employers protect themselves against ACA-related lawsuits?  First, knowledge is king. If you don't understand the ACA and the obligations it imposes on you as an employer, get help from a professional. Your insurance agent or broker is a good place to start. Secondly, learn about the liability risks the ACA presnts. Your insurance agent or attorney may be able to explain these risks. Lastly, find out whether your existing insurance policies will protect you against ACA-related claims. Your insurance agent or attorney may be able help you evaluate your existing policies and decide whether you need additional coverages. Some ACA-related suits may be covered by employee benefits liability insurance. Other suits may be covered by directors and officers liability or employment practices liability insurance. Finally, did you know that sinkholes occur in all 50 states in the U.S? You can learn about sinkholes by reading my new article.  A major sinkhole recently occurred at a vintage auto museum. You can see that sinkhole forming by watching this cool video.[...]

Think Before You Share That Article!

Fri, 02 May 2014 13:06:35 +00002014-05-02T13:06:35Z

Does your company use social media to connect with customers? If so, you want your firm's social media pages to be attractive so they will draw in visitors. Like many companies, you might enhance your social pages by sharing published content. High quality content will give your company a professional image. Unfortunately, content sharing can get you in trouble if the content you or your employees are sharing is copyrighted. Copyrighted content is the subject of an article I found in the Insurance Journal this week. This article is important considering all the content that's shared on the Internet these days. The article is directed at insurance professionals, but it is relevant to any company that shares content. The author cites the following five misconceptions about copyrights that are common among insurance professionals. If insurance professionals have these misconceptions, your employees probably do too. Copyright compliance isn't important. Like insurance professionals, your employees may be much more concerned about protecting your company's intellectual property than they are about protecting other people's property.  This is natural but it is also dangerous. Anyone who infringes on another person's copyright is subject to a lawsuit.  A copyright infringement suit is likely to be both expensive and damaging to your company's reputation. You can do whatever you want with articles you find online. As a writer, I hope you don't believe this one! As the article points out, it is important to distinguish between online and public domain. Articles that appear on the Internet are not necessarily in the public domain as they may be copyrighted. Public domain articles have no copyright, either because the copyright expired or because the article was written by the federal government. My company doesn't do much content sharing. There's probably much more sharing going on at your firm than you think. These days, everyone is eager to share information. To protect your firm against lawsuits, you need to know what your employees are posting online. If you buy an article, you're free to share it. The fact that you have paid for an article does not mean you can reproduce it. After all, if you could freely distribute any article you purchased, the publisher would never sell another copy. If you buy an article, you are paying for your use only. A purchased subscription gives you the right to use the content as you like. Don't assume that you can freely share content you've purchased via a subscription. Read the subscription agreement carefully so you understand the rights the publisher has extended to you. Suppose that you are surfing the Internet when you run across a wonderful article. You are anxious to share it so you post it on one of your social media pages. Unfortunately, you fail to cite the source of the article or the author's name. Anyone who reads it will assume that you are the author. Shortly thereafter, you are served with a lawsuit for copyright infringement. You are surprised and upset. But wait! Your firm is covered by liability insurance. Your general liability policy will cover the claim, right? Wrong! Very few copyright infringement suits will be covered by your policy under Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (Coverage A).  For one thing, copyright infringement will probably not qualify as an occurrence. Moreover, it is unlikely to result in bodily injury or property damage.  Copyright infringement is covered under Personal and Advertising Injury (Coverage B). However, this coverage applies only if you infringe on someone's copyrighted material in an advertisement. Besides copyright infringements, Coverage B also excludes claims arising out of misuses of patents, trademarks, trade secrets and other intellectual property rights. Finally, be sure to check out my new articles on Business Insurance. You can learn about Other States coverage (under a workers compensation policy) excess policies, debris removal coverage, and kidnap and rans[...]

Hurricane Prophesies

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:31:37 +00002014-04-18T12:31:37Z

For small business owners along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, I have some good news! Meteorologists at Colorado State University are predicting a milder than normal hurricane season this year. They expect nine named storms to occur, two of which will become hurricanes. The average for the Eastern Atlantic is twelve named storms, seven of which become hurricanes. In case you are wondering, a storm is assigned a name when it becomes a tropical cyclone, a storm that has wind speeds of at least 39 m.p.h.   More good news comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This year the NOAA is introducing new storm surge maps. The agency will produce a map each time it issues a hurricane or tropical storm watch. The maps use four different colors to indicate the expected storm surge, from low (less than 3 feet above ground level) to severe (more than 9 feet above ground level). Most business owners (and property insurers!) will welcome the prospect of a mild hurricane season. Still, it's important to keep in mind that hurricane predictions are not always accurate. Remember the busy hurricane season we were supposed to have last year? About a year ago, the Colorado meteorologists predicted eighteen named storms, nine of which were supposed to become hurricanes. The NOAA predicted thirteen to twenty named storms, with seven to eleven of those becoming hurricanes. The predictions were way off. In 2013 there were only two hurricanes, neither of which became a major storm. Why is this year's hurricane season expected to be quieter than normal? The Colorado State meteorologists cite two reasons: a cooling of the tropical Atlantic and the El Nino pattern that is expected to form later this year. El Nino events are associated with fewer windstorms in the Atlantic. I was surprised to learn that air pollution can also affect  hurricane formation. According to a New York Times article, pollutants in the air may cool the Atlantic Ocean, suppressing hurricane activity. In his blog at the Weather Underground, Jeff Masters explains how a massive dust storm in the Sahara Desert last August may have prevented tropical storms from developing in the Atlantic. Besides less property damage, a mild hurricane season would likely bring an added bonus: lower commercial property insurance rates. In a report called "Marketplace Realities," Willis (a large insurance brokerage) predicts that commercial property rates for "CAT-exposed risks" (meaning risks exposed to catastrophes like hurricanes) will decline by 5 to 10% this year. Willis expects property rates for all other risks to drop by 10 to 15%. The report cites the absence of a major hurricane last year as one reason for the rate drop. Another is widely available reinsurance. Finally, do you know the difference between an admitted insurer and a non-admitted insurer? If not, be sure to read my new article on the subject. Also, if you are in the construction business, check out this piece on anti-indemnity statutes. Image courtesy of [NOAA] / Getty Images[...]

General Motors and Reputational Suicide

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:16:37 +00002014-04-11T15:16:37Z

If there's one thing that can harm a company's reputation, it's a well-publicized product recall. Just ask Lululemon, the Canadian seller of yoga wear. Last March the company announced that it was recalling one of its best-selling products, black Luon yoga pants, because they were too sheer. Shortly thereafter, Lululemon's CEO resigned and sales slowed. Fortunately for Lululemon, the company seems to be recovering. Now General Motors is in the hot seat, and the problems it is facing are much more serious than Lululemon's. See-through yoga pants may have embarrassed some customers but they sure didn't cause any deaths!                 In case you haven't heard, GM is recalling over 2.5 million vehicles. The focus of the recall is an ignition switch GM used in various models of its Saturn, Chevrolet and Pontiac vehicles. The faulty switch can cause the engine to move out of the "run" position and stall. A problem can be triggered by a heavy key chain or a bump in the road. When the engine stops, the car's electrical system shuts down. With no electricity, the power-steering, power-assisted brakes and front air bags stop working. Can you imagine trying to maneuver a stalled car off the road safely with no brakes and no steering? A recall generally has little effect on a car maker's reputation. After all, car manufacturers recall vehicles all the time, usually for minor defects. However, this is no ordinary recall for GM. For one thing, the defective switch has been linked to 31 crashes and 12 deaths. Even more damaging is the fact that GM was aware of the defect 10 years ago! To see a timeline of events related to the switch problem, click here. Apparently, GM discovered the ignition switch issue back in 2001. The problem was supposedly addressed in 2003 but resurfaced the following year. In 2005 GM rejected a proposal to replace the defective switch because it would cost too much--about $1 per vehicle. I previously owned a GM car (a Saturn) for 18 years. It was not one of the models being recalled. Still, as a former GM customer, I find it disheartening to learn that GM cared so little about my well-being. Its failure to fix a product that it knew was potentially dangerous was unethical. From a business perspective, GM's behavior was downright stupid. I don't know how much GM is spending on the recall, but I'm sure the cost is more than $1 per car. Of course, the biggest cost for GM is the damage to its reputation. A good reputation takes a long time to develop. Repairing a bad one takes much longer. You don't have to be General Motors to experience a product recall. Virtually any manufacturer, large or small, may need to recall a product. A recall may be necessary because your product has a defect or because it has become contaminated. Contamination may occur accidentally or through malicious tampering. Recalls can be very expensive, both in monetary cost and in terms of reputational damage. The costs associated with a product recall are not covered under your general liability policy as the policy contains a recall exclusion. If you are a manufacturer, you can protect yourself against the costs of a recall by purchasing product recall insurance. Policies vary widely from one to the next. However, virtually all cover costs related to the recall. Covered costs may include those required for: Advertising; Hiring additional personnel to deal with the recall; Overtime for existing employees; Removing the defective products from the market; Disposing of the defective products; Recall costs incurred by retailers and other third parties; Some product recall policies include third-party liability coverage, which applies to lawsuits by others that have been affected by the recall. Many policies include the services of a crises management company, which can guide you through the recall process. If you are interested in product recall coverage, contact your agent or broker. Final[...]

Slippery Slopes

Fri, 04 Apr 2014 10:17:46 +00002014-04-04T10:17:46Z

The search continues for missing residents of the Oso, Washington area following the landslide that occurred on March 22. As of this morning, 30 people had been confirmed dead and 15 were still missing. These aerial photos show the scope of the devastation. As you can see, the slide left a deep gouge in the hillside above the town of Oso. Many of the homes that were destroyed are now buried under 15 to 75 feet of mud. Landslides happen more frequently and are more widespread than you might think. As you can see from this landslide map I found on the USGS website, landslides occur in all 50 states. They are particularly common on steep slopes where the soil consists of weak or fractured materials. The Oso area is called the Hazel Landslide. It has suffered repeated slides. The soil there is composed largely of sand and silt that was created by glaciers. The first recorded slide occurred in 1937. Subsequent events took place in 1951, 1952, 1967, 1988 and 2006. A report issued by a geomorphologist in 1999 warned that the Hazel Landslide could experience a catastrophic failure. Even so, the emergency manager for Snohomish County (where Oso is located) called the latest slide "completely unforeseen." Really? As Timothy Egan said in this New York Times article, people can be blind to risks they don't want to see. I learned something about landslides after I moved to California in June of 1983. Winter was over but the damage it had caused remained. Heavy rains generated by a strong El Nino pattern had caused landslides throughout the state. I saw several houses that had moved off their foundations. The hillsides on which they had been built were unstable, and the houses had slid downhill. The sight made a lasting impression. When house-hunting many years later, I avoided any property that was located on a hillside. Besides steep slopes and loose soil, there are other factors that can make an area subject to landslides. These include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, water, wildfires and human activity. Earthquakes can weaken slopes while volcanic eruptions generate ash and debris. Water in the form of waves (from the ocean), a river, or rain running down a hillside can cause erosion. Water was a major contributor to the slide in Washington. The Oso area had received excessive rain prior to the slide. Moreover, the Stillaguamish River, which runs through the area, has eaten away the base of the hillside. Wildfires weren't an issue in Oso but have been a factor in many other slides. Fires destroy plants that help to keep soil in place. Human activity, such as construction and logging, can make slopes more vulnerable to collapse. Previous logging activity near Oso may have weakened the hillside. Trees help disperse rainfall and retain some in their canopies. They also soak up water from the ground. None of the news coverage I've seen about the Oso landslide has mentioned insurance. This is not surprising since landslide is an excluded peril under most homeowners and commercial property policies. Landslide is typically excluded in conjunction with earth movement. It is also excluded under the flood policy that is used in the National Flood Insurance Program (although the policy does cover mudflow). Finally, don't miss my new articles. The first one explains what's covered by a liquor liability policy. The second one describes the limits found in a general liability policy. A third article explains the meaning of the term retroactive date under a claims-made policy. Image courtesy of [handout] / Getty Images[...]

The Mystery of Flight 370

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 12:14:55 +00002014-03-28T12:14:55Z

Malaysian Air Flight 370 has now been missing for almost three weeks. On Monday the Malaysian Prime Minister formally announced that the plane had gone down in the Southern Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia. The Malaysian government reached this conclusions based on satellite data as no wreckage has yet been found. The situation is bizarre! Who would hijack a plane only to crash it into the ocean? It doesn't make sense. There are also questions of liability. However, until the plane's "black box" is located, we won't know who was (or is) responsible for the loss of the plane and its 227 passengers.   One question everyone seems to be asking is how much money the missing passengers' survivors will receive in compensation. Under the Montreal Convention, international airlines are strictly liable (liable in the absence of fault) for injury or death (to passengers) that did not result from the airline's negligence. The Convention allots each passenger (or his or her survivors) about $175,000. If survivors can prove negligence on the part of the airline, the $175,000 cap does not apply. The Montreal Convention allows survivors to sue the airlines in the passengers' home country. Most of the 227 passengers on Flight 370 were either Chinese or Malaysian nationals. Thus, payouts are unlikely to be large. The Wall Street Journal estimates that survivors of the missing Chinese passengers will probably receive less than $1 million each. Survivors of a missing American passenger, on the other hand, might collect as much as $10 million. I haven't been able to find any specific details about Malaysia Airline's aircraft liability insurance. However, CNCB estimates that the airline probably has a liability limit of about $1 billion. Aircraft liability policies cover bodily injury and property damage caused by an occurrence that arises out of the use of an aircraft. Liability policies may also cover injury to passengers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the primary reinsurers for the plane's physical damage coverage will likely share the loss. The lead reinsurers are Allianz (a German insurer) and Lloyd's. Policies covering physical damage to aircraft are called hull policies. This week the Australian navy was searching a large area in the South Indian Ocean. This area is subject to high winds and huge waves. You can get an idea of how rough the ocean is there by checking out this interactive webpage from the New York Times. The search has now moved north. Fortunately, the new area has milder weather so it should be easier to search. For the sake of families of the missing passengers, I hope the missing plane (or its parts) turns up soon! Do you own or operate a non-profit organization? If so, be sure to read my new article on insuring volunteer workers.[...]

Rideshare Risks

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:38:56 +00002014-03-21T12:38:56Z

This week Uber and Lyft, two ridesharing companies, announced that their insurance policies have been extended to cover drivers who are logged into the companies' networks but are not transporting any customers. Previously, drivers were covered only while transporting passengers. Lyft will cover these drivers subject to a $1 million limit, while Uber will provide a limit of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. While this extension of insurance is a positive move, it does not address the primary problem. Drivers for these companies are relying on their personal auto policies to cover a risk that most personal policies exclude. Clearly, this is a bad idea. There are three major players in the rideshare business: Lyft, Uber and Sidecar. Drivers for these companies use their personal vehicles to transport customers. Both Uber and Lyft use a smartphone app to match passengers with drivers. Sidecar riders use their smartphones to choose the driver they want based on price, arrival time and other factors. All three companies have a similar business model. They recruit non-professional drivers to use their personal vehicles for transporting passengers. All of the companies' websites state that drivers must have personal auto insurance. Each of the three companies provides a $1 million limit in excess commercial auto liability coverage. The three rideshare companies' business model has a serious flaw. When drivers are transporting passengers, they are using their vehicles as a livery (a vehicle for hire). Virtually all personal auto policies contain a livery exclusion under liability coverage. This exclusion prohibits the operation of any covered vehicle as a livery conveyance. The owners of these companies must have known about this exclusion when they drafted their business plans. They have put their drivers in a precarious position. Suppose that a driver is sued as a result of an at-fault auto accident that occurred while the driver was transporting a passenger for hire. The driver will file a claim with his or her insurer. If the driver is lucky, the insurer will provide a defense. However, the insurer may at some point cease that defense and refuse to pay any damages based on the livery exclusion. At that point, the driver (who is probably not feeling very lucky) should be covered by the company's excess auto liability policy. But will $1 million limit be enough? Any auto accident can cause serious injuries. If an accident involves multiple injured parties, $1 million may not cover the damages. Inadequate insurance could leave a driver with a large out-of-pocket expense. Ideally, each rideshare driver would purchase a commercial auto policy. This isn't practical because the coverage is too expensive. What's the solution? I don't know but the companies need to find one. Until they do, the rideshare companies are putting their drivers (and probably the rest of us) at risk. Finally, be sure to read my new articles on business insurance. The topics are rental reimbursement coverage, signs of a dishonest agent, computer fraud coverage, and utility interruption coverage.    [...]

Residents of No-fault States Pay More for Auto Insurance

Thu, 13 Mar 2014 10:55:10 +00002014-03-13T10:55:10Z

Which ten cities in the U.S. have the highest auto insurance rates? Which ten cities have the lowest rates? To find the answer, a financial website called nerdwallet compared the averages rates charged in the 125 largest U.S. cities. The hypothetical buyer was a 26-year-old male driver with no prior accidents. The results of the study are eye-opening. Detroit's rates were the highest by far. In that city, the annual premium for a young male driver is a whopping $10,723! Winston-Salem had the lowest premium at $969. The study focused on personal auto rates charged for one of the riskiest groups of drivers (young males). Nevertheless, many of the factors that determine personal rates affect the rates used in commercial auto policies as well. One interesting fact about the Nerdwallet study is that eight of the ten cities with the highest auto insurance rates are located in states that have no-fault laws. I have no personal experience with these laws since I have never lived in a state that had one. No-fault auto laws were initially conceived in the 1920s. Yet, it wasn't until 1970 that the first no-fault law was passed in Massachusetts. By the mid-1970s, 24 states had enacted some type of no-fault law. No-fault laws have two main goals. One is to compensate auto accident victims more quickly than the traditional tort system. A second goal is to make auto insurance more affordable by reducing the cost of claims. To these ends, no-fault laws permit (or require) injured parties to seek some compensation directly from their insurers. Some states have attempted to reduce costs by restricting the use of lawsuits. These states permit accident victims to file lawsuits only if they have sustained injuries that exceed a specified threshold. This threshold may be a monetary amount (such as $2000) or a description (such as a "serious" injury). Since their heyday in the 1970s, no-fault laws have been repealed in about half of the states that had them. Currently, these laws exist in only 12 states. As is evident from the nerdwallet study, no-fault laws have not reduced auto premiums. What has gone wrong? One problem is fraud. In no-fault states policyholders are permitted (or required) to purchase a coverage called personal injury protection (PIP). This coverage is similar to Auto Medical Payments except that it is broader. Many policyholders seek recovery for the entire PIP limit. Some even stage fake accidents in order to receive this benefit. PIP has become very profitable for criminals, particularly in Florida and New York. Ironically, another problem in no-fault states is litigation. The Rand Corporation looked at the volume of lawsuits in no-fault states to that in states without no-fault laws. The comparison indicated that in their early years, no-fault laws seemed to suppress litigation. Unfortunately, this effect diminished over time. After the laws had been in effect for several years, litigation rose. Moreover, an increasing number of claimants in no-fault states hired attorneys. Rand also found that between the 1980s and 2006, both average liability premiums and premium growth were higher in no-fault states than in states without no-fault laws. During this period, several states that repealed their no-fault laws experienced a significant drop in auto liability premiums. No-fault laws' primary drawback is cost. One reason the laws can be costly, according to the Rand study, is that they shift some medical costs from health insurance to auto insurance (under PIP). The laws might control costs more effectively if they required medical insurance to be billed before PIP. Medical insurers have more experience managing health care costs than auto insurers. Rand also suggests that more states could follow Pennsylvania's example. That state allows vehicle owners to choose a low-cost insurance policy that comes with a verbal threshold. No[...]

The ACA and Workers Compensation

Fri, 07 Mar 2014 13:22:39 +00002014-03-07T13:22:39Z

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. First, one effect of the ACA may be a shifting of costs from workers compensation to healthcare plans. The reason? In the past, some workers who lacked health insurance have obtained treatment for off-the-job injuries by filing false workers compensation claims. Because of the ACA, a portion of these workers will now have health insurance. Rather than file fake workers compensation claims, they will file claims under their medical plans. As a result, some costs that have previously been charged to state workers compensation plans will instead be charged to health plans. Secondly, the ACA may help reduce both the frequency and the severity of workers compensation claims. The law is expected to increase the ranks of the insured population by 30 million people. It also creates incentives for employers to implement new wellness programs or to retain the programs they currently have. Greater access to insurance and wellness programs should make workers healthier. Because healthy workers are less like to have on-the-job accidents, they will generate fewer workers compensation claims. Healthy workers also have fewer co-morbidities, such as hypertension or obesity, which can increase the cost of claims. Thus, workers compensation claims may be smaller in size and fewer in number. The ACA may also have some negative effects on workers compensation programs. One of these is delayed treatment of injured workers. A number of communities in the United States are experiencing a shortage of primary care physicians. Injured workers are already competing with health plan subscribers for physicians. This competition is expected to intensify. Compounding the problem is the fact that physicians generally dislike handling workers compensation cases. For physicians, these cases mean extra paperwork, administrative hassles, and in some states, low reimbursement rates. As health plans draw more patients, some physicians may stop taking workers compensation cases altogether. Finally, do you or your employees travel outside the United States? Are you planning some foreign business travel? Are you exporting or do you plan to export any products overseas? If the answer to any of these question is yes, be sure to check out my new articles on foreign insurance coverages. You can learn about foreign liability, foreign auto liability and foreign voluntary workers compensation policies. Image courtesy of[Joe Raedle] / Getty Images  [...]

Should Older Workers Drive on the Job?

Fri, 28 Feb 2014 13:24:49 +00002014-02-28T13:24:49Z

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. The IIHA's statistics show that in 2012 drivers in their 60s had a lower fatality rate than drivers in any other age group. While fatality rates go up as drivers enter their 70s, the death rate for this group has been declining. Between 1997 and 2012, the fatality rate for this group declined 42% according to the IIHS. This is good news for employers given that many of us Baby Boomers are now  remaining on the job past age 65. When I was looking at car crash statistics I was amazed at how much fatalities have gone down since I started driving. For all age groups combined, the annual number of fatal car crashes has been cut in half. In 2012 there were 25,580 fatal car accidents; in 1970 there were 52,627. There are two main reasons for the reduction in fatalities: safer cars and mandatory seat belt laws. Cars are built better and have many more safety features than they did 40 years ago. Seat belts have also saved many lives. Your odds of dying in an auto accident are 1 in 732 if you are restrained by a belt and 1 in 40 if you are not. For drivers over 70, there is a third factor that has contributed to the drop in fatalities: better health. The senior drivers on the road today are generally healthier than their parents were at their age. Healthier drivers have fewer fatal accidents. As workers age, their eyesight, hearing and reaction time tend to decline. However, there can be large differences from one person to another in the extent of these changes. Also, older workers are more likely than younger ones to recognize their physical limitations and to counteract them in certain ways. For instance, an older driver with impaired vision may avoid night driving and stick to familiar routes. Age brings experience, and older drivers are less inclined to take risks. They are more likely than their younger counterparts to use seat belts, turn signals and to adhere to traffic laws. They are also less likely to engage in distracted driving, to drink and drive, or to drive in bad weather. Workers of any age can have accidents, so it's important to have a vehicle safety plan. If you don't have one yet, a number of government agencies offer information that can help you get started. For instance, OSHA provides guidelines for reducing vehicle crashes. The State of California offers advice on how to set up a safety program. The Federal Highway Safety Administration is a good source of information about older drivers. Finally, be sure to check out my new article on Lloyd's of London, a unique marketplace for buying and selling insurance. Lloyd's has been in operation for centuries and remains a major source of insurance coverage. Image courtesy of {photostock} /[...]