Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Retail Safety Tips for the Holidays

It might seem hard to believe, but the holiday shopping season is officially upon us. Across the country, retail stores are gearing up for this extremely busy time of year. For the 2018 holiday season, some forecasters say there will be a 5 to 5.6 percent increase in sales over the 2017 shopping season, including a projected 17 to 22 percent increase in e-commerce sales. Price Waterhouse Cooper predicts that consumers will spend over $1,250 during the holiday season, while the National Retail Federation is a bit more conservative, saying consumers will spend right around $1,000 this holiday season, an increase of 4.1 percent over 2017.

No matter the exact number, it is looking to be a very busy holiday season for retailers. With the predicted increase in sales, retail teams at brick-and-mortar locations must start preparing their stores now for additional traffic. Part of that preparation is to make sure the store is safe for both employees and customers.

Holiday Safety Tips for Retail Locations

Increased in-store traffic means more possibilities for individuals getting injured as they browse items or stock shelves during the busy holiday season. Stores should minimize any potential hazards to help reduce the risks for costly injuries, illnesses and potential losses.

Employees should be trained on keeping the store floor as clear as possible as boxes, merchandise and ladders can become hazards. New and inexperienced employees are at highest risk of injury. Make sure training programs are rigorous and fully indoctrinate all new workers. Assign a qualified, experienced mentor to each new hire so they can be shown the right way to do things and they have a person they can readily go to if they have questions or face a task or hazard they are unsure about.

Other tips to help keep a store safe this holiday season include:
  • Don’t block fire extinguishers: Make sure there is a clear path to fire extinguishers. Also, boxes or decorations should not block ceiling sprinklers.
  • Keep emergency exits clear: Emergency exits must always be clear of boxes, furniture or other stored items.
  • Indicate when floors are wet: Use wet floor signs to help prevent slips and falls on a slick floor. Make sure the hazard is properly cleaned up per spill clean-up policies. This is especially important during snowy months when customers are tracking snow into the store.
  • Use ladders properly: Falls from portable ladders are a major source of injury in the workplace. In fact, according to the American Ladder Institute, over 300 people die each year in ladder-related accidents, while thousands of others suffer disabling injuries. Train your staff on how to use ladders in the right way, from carrying them throughout the store, placing them in clear spaces, correct climbing tips and the correct storage procedure.
  • Follow lifting safety procedures: Back injuries can occur when you do not lift boxes and heavy items in the correct way. Employees should learn how to properly lift heavy objects to help avoid injuries and back strain, which could result in a workers’ compensation claim. Establish weight and size limits for merchandise that trigger a mandatory two-person lift. Make sure carts and dollies are used to their potential.
  • Set merchandise racks correctly: Merchandise racks should be spaced according to federal and state rules. Also, do not leave empty merchandise stands on the sales floor where customers can easily trip or walk into them causing injury.
  • Prevent employee theft: Employee theft increases during the holiday season. Retails stores can help deter employee theft by having the proper on boarding procedures, performing background checks on employees, conducting loss prevention training, have working security cameras and enforcing company loss prevention protocols.

Outdoors Safety Tips for Retail

Just as the inside of a store needs to be safe for employees and customers, the outside of the store needs to be prepared and ready for high traffic and the possibility of inclement winter weather. Parking lots, entryways, sidewalks and walkways must be clear of snow and ice at all times, especially during business hours. Additionally, remember that snow piles, while also dangerous, can prevent customers from coming into your store. Businesses should have de-icing products like salt on hand to remove ice or snow. Clearing snow and ice outside will help prevent some of the slips and falls that lead to injuries for both your customers and your valued employees.

Loss Control and Commercial Property Protection at AmTrust

Safety, especially during the hectic holiday shopping season, starts with knowledge. Having the right safety resources and commercial property protection are keys to a successful holiday season. AmTrust’s Loss Control Department can give you the individual attention you deserve, identifying specific hazards and offering solutions that fit your operation. We are dedicated to providing the right recommendations and resources necessary to create an effective loss prevention program for your store. Please contact us to learn more.

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Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Cybersecurity Checklist for the Holiday Season

The National Retail Federation is predicting holiday retail sales to reach $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion this year. With the sheer volume of transactions set to take place for retail operations (both online and at brick-and-mortar stores), now is a good time to make sure your small business has a well-defined cybersecurity plan in place. Here’s a handy checklist to consider when assessing your cybersecurity measures for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Small Business Cybersecurity Tips for a Safe & Successful Holiday Season

Secure Your Employees

All employees should be trained on the importance and methods of data security. Both physical and digital records should be safeguarded at all times, and confidential information about clients, employees or corporate affairs should always remain secured. Hackers like to target uninformed employees, so in terms of personnel, keep in mind your security is only as strong as your weakest link. This time of year serves as a great opportunity to re-distribute your data security policies to employees to reinforce its importance.

Perform background checks on new employees hired for the holiday season. Additionally, ensure each employee only has access to data related to their role and responsibility, especially for seasonal employees.

Secure Your Network

Passwords: Creating a strong password creates a better defense against cyberattacks. Remember these tips for creating strong passwords:
  • Don’t use the same password twice and change passwords frequently.
  • Use a mix of characters including letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Avoid sharing passwords.
  • Don’t keep passwords written down near computers.
  • Utilize a password manager.

For more information on creating strong passwords, check out our blog post, “5 Tips For Creating Strong, Secure Passwords to Protect Sensitive Data.”

Wi-Fi: Make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure by regularly changing its password. Also, do not allow your employees to use public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks while utilizing company-issued laptops and smartphones.

Secure Your Data

All data, whether on a personal device, computer, or server should be protected by proper encryption.

Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Systems

If a program acts up, it could simply be a software or hardware malfunction, but it could be something much worse. If malware is detected, or a user reports opening a suspicious file, don't take any chances. Assume that the malware has infected something, and don't stop investigating until you find out what, if anything, was breached. Keep anti-virus and anti-malware programs up-to-date.

Protect Your Organization with Cyber Liability Insurance

A Cyber Liability Insurance policy from AmTrust can help safeguard your company against financial loss from a cyber attack. Contact an AmTrust agent today to find out how you can benefit from a policy, and how to protect your organization from cybersecurity attacks and other data breach threats.

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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

How Male Bonding is Being Taken with New York's Paid Family Leave

Fatherhood in America has evolved over the years; The Pew Research Center found that more men are taking a more active role in child care than in the past. The demand for paid parental leave to extend to men as well as women is growing, with more companies offering paid time off to fathers as well as mothers to bond with newborns.

With New York launching one of the most comprehensive paid leave acts in the country in 2018, data is showing that men are utilizing the leave to bond with newborns. In fact, 19% of paid family leave claims were made for male bonding, a statistic showcased in AmTrust’s analysis of how paid family leave is being used in 2018.

Paid family leave can be taken for any of the following three reasons:
  • Bond with a newborn, adopted or foster child
  • Care for a loved one with a serious illness
  • Tend to family matters when a loved one is called to active military service

In 2018, both men and women can take up to 8 weeks of paid, protected time off to bond with newborns. Over the next few years, this leave will increase, with 12 weeks of paid, protected pay male bonding available to employees in New York by 2021. While our data shows that women are typically taking paid family leave back to back with DBL, there is also the option to take paid family leave intermittently, which can be an attractive option for men taking bonding leave.

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Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Nonprofit Coverage: Submission Requirements & Enhancements

Our submission process is easy. Send an email to and make sure to include: 
  • All pertinent ACORD and supplemental applications; we also accept other carrier’s applications
  • Audited year-end financial statement (or Form 990 if the organization does not have a year-end statement)
  • Brochures, promotional material describing programs and services offered and copies of all relevant contracts
  • Loss history for a minimum of 3 years
  • Schedule of drivers and vehicles, including VINs and seating capacity
AmTrust offers options to enhance coverage to include:

  • Articles, Fine Arts, Valuable Papers/Books
  • Armed Guards (contracted through 3rd party only)Nonprofit
  • Earthquake & Flood
  • Educators Liability
  • Employee Benefits (can be included in Package)
  • Immigration Counseling Liability
  • Vicarious Medical Liability – excludes physician liability; physician must have medical malpractice coverage
  • Medical Liability – excludes physician liability; Dr. must have Med Malpractice coverage
  • Special Events Blanket/Fund Raising Endorsement
  • Social Work, Foster Care & Counseling
The process is simple:

  • Submit the supplemental form, ACORD and loss run information to
  • Your dedicated underwriter will take care of the rest!
Individual coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.  Not all applicants may qualify.  In the event of a conflict with the material herein, the terms and conditions of any issued policy will control.  Any available coverage for a claim will be determined based on the facts and circumstances of the claim as well as the terms and conditions of the policy, including any applicable exclusions or deductibles.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Millennials and the Insurance Industry

Millennials. They’ve almost become a buzzword in today’s world as study after study comes out about the generation. What kind of shifts will this cause in the commercial insurance world? Read on to find out.
First, when we say millennial who are we talking about? The Pew Research Center defines anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) as a Millennial. It’s important for agents to keep in mind that some millennials are nearing 40, and many are taking on the roles of decision makers within their companies. 

According to Nielsen, the leading global information and measurement firm, millennials account for nearly a quarter of the U.S. population – about 77 million. A generation of that size is sure to have an influence on a variety of industries, including insurance. Millennials are generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media and digital technologies. A recent survey conducted by Microsoft concluded that: 
  • 65 percent of millennials start interactions with a brand or organization online
  • 64 percent of them believe that social media is one of the most effective channels for reaching brands

Nielsen has also identified the millennial generation as the top users and adopters of Smartphones.

So what does all of this mean for the world of insurance? For agents, a focus on both social media and technology can be the key to reaching and interacting with clients. It also signals that an increase of millennials working in insurance means a continuing shift in the way in which insurance business will be conducted, as well as recruitment techniques to grow the workforce.

Social Media Marketing

Social media can help you, the agent, to connect with your clients and community in a very impactful way, positioning yourself and your agency’s status in the insurance field. Make an impact by researching and writing on industry related topics that interest your clients. Be inspirational and educational in your posts. Make sure social media is something you can manage in-house, and select the channels that make the most sense for your agency . Try test posts on each channel to determine which provides the best new business leads. Read our related posts on:

Data Driven

Thanks to data mining and social media, insurance companies are starting to target their marketing directly to specific consumers. The ability to tailor their coverages and policies to the right audience can be invaluable to insurance companies. The data-driven, computer savvy, innovative mentality commonly attributed to millennials make them prime candidates to help carriers create insurance products that truly speak to the right audience.

Change in Demographics

Younger business owners are driving a huge digital shift in the business insurance industry. By 2020 over 60 percent of small businesses in the U.S. will be owned by millennials and Gen-Xers (who range in age range from about 20 to 45). With this projection in mind, it’s clear that agents who wish to thrive in the future of the business insurance industry would be wise to consider adapting to the changing environment the industry continues to innovate in an increasingly tech-filled world.

Mobile Apps

Speaking of tech, many insurance carriers now offer most of their services through mobile apps. Insurance agents can utilize these apps to give clients the ability to file claims, schedule inspections, track their claims process, direct message an agent with questions, or even submit video for appraisals.
For example, AmTrust appointed agents can create and bind policies that are designed to meet their clients’ needs with AmTrust Online. With commercial package coverage information for workers’ compensation right at your fingertips, you can get your clients set up with the products they need in minutes. Then your clients can use the system to make payments and update their information at their convenience.

If you don’t have access to AmTrust Online, you could be missing out on a big advantage in this increasingly digital industry. Find out more about AmTrust Online, and how you can join our team of appointed agents.