Mold: a silent but rapidly growing environmental exposure | Shield Agency Blog

Mold: a silent but rapidly growing environmental exposure

At first glance, mold may seem unassuming but for commercial property owners, mold can be a highly problematic hazard that presents significant environmental risk.

Although frequently associated with the aftermath of natural disasters, mold is much more likely to result from routine maintenance issues such as leaky pipes or HVAC malfunctions. Taking a proactive approach to address mold is critical to help reduce the risk of property damage, guard against personal health effects, and avoid potentially costly future claims.

The health risks of mold

Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the general public becomes aware of health risks and symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, potential adverse health risks can include a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash–with increased concerns for those with asthma or immuno-compromised individuals. Given these potential issues, commercial owners should prioritize mold as part of risk-management planning.

Industry-specific factors driving mold claims

While any business can be at risk for mold, certain sectors have experienced a significant uptick in the frequency and severity of costly environmental claims due to mold and indoor air quality issues. Here’s a look at the factors driving this trend in these sectors.

Heat and humidity create fertile breeding grounds for mold in schools.

Elementary and high schools (K-12) are vulnerable to mold growth for several reasons, including:

  • increased moisture due to painting or carpet cleaning
  • high humidity with reduced air conditioning or outdated heating systems
  • Especially during the summer, a lack of ventilation combined with heat and humidity creates a perfect mold incubator.  

Without regular maintenance, a school can rapidly experience significant mold growth. To mitigate the risk of mold outbreaks, schools should perform regularly scheduled inspections for signs of mold, moisture, and leaks, including during long breaks. The Environmental Protection Agency’s  Mold in Schools fact sheet provides additional guidance on how schools can mitigate this risk.

Renovations can lead to contamination surprises for hospitals and hotels.

Deferred maintenance can lead to delayed problems for healthcare and hospitality sectors, especially when it comes to larger projects such as roof or room renovations:

  • As a roof comes closer to the end of its useful life, the likelihood of leaking increases exponentially, as does the risk of mold growth.
  • Mold thrives where there is plenty of organic material, such as wood, paper, paint, drywall, and insulation—frequently uncovered behind walls, under carpet and ceiling tiles, and surrounding corroded pipes during routine maintenance or renovation projects.

Not having a plan to address this risk can be very costly. In addition to the costs to address structural damage, hospitals and hotels may also experience lost revenue if facilities need to cease operations or are held liable for mold-related exposures of individuals.

Putting risk mitigation plans to work

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Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology Shield Insurance Blog

Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology

Workers Expect Savvy Claims Technology: Here’s How the Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology During Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the adoption of claims technology, but many tools were already in place and poised for growth.

Even apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a significant year. According to the NOAA, 22 separate weather events including severe storms, wildfires, and cyclones totaled $95 billion in damages.

While many types of insurance bear the brunt of these disasters, workers’ compensation carriers, tasked with critical care needs that affect workers and their families, need special strategies to deliver care when catastrophe strikes.

For many organizations, these strategies utilize technology, built-in redundancies and, stepped-up conveniences like a direct deposit to ensure continuity of care, no matter the weather.

“We have to be ready for it all — hurricanes, floods, fires,” said Mark Bilger, CIO of One Call.

“In general, disaster recovery and business continuity are a staple of well-run IT management for any organization. Specifically, in claims and insurance, it’s heightened because of the critical care for injured workers.”

Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, workers’ comp claims teams were challenged with the immediate expansion of remote work, resulting in necessary changes that are likely to endure even after the pandemic concludes.

“Before work from home, One Call had a few concentrated contact centers,” Bilger said.

“After work from home, we look a lot more like the internet. We’re dispersed and we had to make major upgrades to our virtual private network, essentially 10-fold. We went from 1 gigabit to 10-gigabit capacity. We strengthened our endpoint protections and it went from firewalls in our locations to everybody’s home becoming the One Call network.”

This growth in gigabit capacity is not isolated to the workers’ comp industry; reports indicate that pandemic-related growth has resulted in an estimated global wireless gigabit market size of $19 million in 2021 and is projected to reach $70 million by 2026.

In tandem with the global wireless market, gigabit size is the growth of cloud computing. Gartner forecasted 18.4% growth in a 2020 report to a total of $304.9 billion, noting that “the proportion of IT spending that is shifting to the cloud will accelerate in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, with cloud projected to make up 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024, up from 9.1% in 2020.”

Workers Expect Claims Tech

Expectations have been set by regulation and digitization in the 21st Century that even in the wake of a natural disaster, services will continue.

“One of the technology solutions that we have had for a few years but that we pushed during COVID and any other type of catastrophic event is our claimant app, MyCare,” said Michael Jamason, SVP, business operations at CorVel.

“It gives the injured worker the ability to manage their pharmacy information, phone numbers for points of contact regarding their claim, information about payments being made to their accounts, and they can even establish their direct deposit in the app.”

Pharmacy information is especially important during disaster when medications are destroyed due to property damage or lost in an evacuation.

“We were able to utilize our partnership with our PBM to allow people to get early refills, and with mail order, we were able to even change the amounts of medication given,” said Melissa Burke, head of managed care and clinical, AmTrust.

“We expanded into other needs like telemedicine, ensuring that we have different types of providers available. We were able to expand that and ensure access in all of our states where allowed by regulatory governance, including digital doctor networks. Something important there too is transitioning injured employees. Typically a telehealth solution would be either on the frontend or the backend of a claim. We wanted to make sure that we could go back and forth depending on the state of the catastrophe,” Burke added.

Indeed, telemedicine expansion is at the forefront of many workers’ comp claims organizations’ radar. According to Mitchell’s “The Future of Technology in Work Comp 2020” industry survey, “many respondents believe that telemedicine will have the biggest impact on the industry within the next five years (32%), followed closely by artificial intelligence (30%) and predictive analytics (20%).”

The survey was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely would have boosted telemedicine’s impact on the results due to significant expansions.

For many industry leaders though, the specific technological solution is not as significant as the strategy behind the solutions. “We have to ensure continuity of care and benefits,” said Michele Tucker, CorVel’s VP of EC operations.

“Any interruption — whether it’s a natural disaster or anything else — impacts many lives and families. We’ve been doing some regular testing with payments and system recovery so redundancy is set up, and if we have an office impacted, our system allows for immediate replication and the pickup of services by another office.”

Growth Brings Security Risks

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Hot Housing Market Shield Insurance Agency Blog

How to Navigate a Hot Housing Market

How to Navigate a Hot Housing Market

Competition for homes in many cities is leading potential buyers to take steps they may not have considered a short time ago, including waiving the inspection. Lets take a look at how to navigate a hot housing market.

By Ann Carrns Published May 14, 2021Updated May 29, 2021

The home-buying market this spring is not for the faint of heart.

The main challenge is that the supply of homes for sale in most parts of the country continues to fall far short of demand. That is pushing up prices to heart-stopping levels in many markets. A lack of construction over the past decade, plus pent-up demand from pandemic shutdowns, has unleashed a national seller’s market. The median price for a single-family home rose about 18 percent in March to almost $335,000, a record high, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Daryl Fairweather, the chief economist for the Redfin online brokerage, said homes being listed for sale are selling quickly. About half sell in less than a week, usually after multiple offers.

The usual tips — like getting preapproved for a mortgage — apply more than ever. But competition in many cities is leading potential buyers to take steps they may not have considered even a few months ago, including offering tens of thousands of dollars above the asking price; agreeing to let the seller live, rent-free, in the house for several months after the closing; and waiving certain contingencies, like the right to inspect the house before buying.

Waiving inspections has long been common in competitive housing cities like Seattle, but it is becoming more frequent elsewhere, real estate professionals say.

Buyers will sometimes send personal notes to sellers to distinguish themselves from others vying for the same property, though some Realtors discourage the practice. Such “Dear Seller” letters include an introduction to the buyers and copious compliments about the house.

Mark Strüb, a real estate agent in Austin, Texas, sometimes invites buyers to write the letters, he said: “It never hurts.” He said he once had a seller with a strong sentimental attachment to the house pass over the highest offer because the potential buyer failed to write a letter, while the others vying for the home had all done so.

Dig deeper into the Hot Housing Market.

But agents often discourage sellers from reviewing such letters out of concern that the letters may reveal details about a buyer’s family status, race or religion that could inadvertently cause sellers to run afoul of fair-housing laws in their decision-making.

“It can actually backfire,” said Francine Viola, an agent in Olympia, Wash.

Buyers may note, for instance, that they look forward to gathering around the fireplace on Christmas, or that they find the home attractive because it is near a mosque. Should the seller be influenced by those details, the thinking goes, other buyers whose offers were rejected could potentially challenge the sale, claiming that they were victims of religious bias.

The Realtors association issued guidance last fall recommending that agents avoid using “love” letters. “Seemingly harmless,” the association said, “these letters actually raise fair-housing concerns.”

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Stop by the Farmers Market in Hudsonville!

TODAY June 2, 2021 9am to 1pm

at the Terra Square

Stop by to meet Joe, Sean and his wife Kat, and register to win a robot vacuum or local gift cards!!

All the details can be found at the Chamber website be sure to check it out and visit the market!


TERRA SQUARE FARMERS MARKET Shield Insurance Agency

The home of Hudsonville’s Farmers Market.
Hudsonville farmers are passionate about bringing the community together over farm fresh produce they have been growing for generations. The Terra Square Farmer’s Market will be a place where we inspire healthy, full, and abundant living. Growing together, food and community.

Click here to visit the web site for all the detais !

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Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award by Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce

Big News from the Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce!

It’s Awards Season!


The Chamber is SO excited to be hosting the Chamber Awards once again this year!

Here are our nominees for the 2021 Awards!

::::: drumroll :::::

Business Excellence Award

  • Hudsonville Physical Therapy
  • Advent Physical Therapy
  • Shield Insurance Agency

Leadership Award

  • Dr. Therese House-Vereeke
  • Patrick Waterman
  • Mary Jane Schreur

Spark Award

  • Hand 2 Hand Ministries
  • Meijer
  • Joy 99

The winners of the Awards will be announced at our official Awards Ceremony MEAL. June 17th at noon at the Pinnacle Center.

Make sure to get registered, we hope to see you there!

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Michigan Tornado Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Michigan Tornado: Be Prepared

Michigan Tornado

On average Michigan has 15 tornadoes per year. Tornadoes are known to develop rapidly, with little advanced warning. The average lead time for a Michigan tornado warning is 10 to 15 minutes and winds can reach over 200 mph, which is why Michigan residents are encouraged to prepare and make a plan before a tornado strikes.

Each year during Severe Weather Awareness Week, a statewide tornado drill is held so you can practice your plan.

BE PREPARED:

Terms:

Michigan Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. When there is a Watch, move near enough to a shelter or sturdy building to be able to get inside quickly if there is a Warning or if you see signs of a tornado approaching. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Michigan Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Supercell: A system producing severe thunderstorms, featuring rotating winds sustained by a prolonged updraft that may result in hail or tornadoes.

Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale: Rates the strength of tornadoes in the United States and Canada. There are six categories for the EF scale and are in order of increasing intensity. *It is based on wind estimates of a 3-second gust.*

  • EF0: Tornadoes with an estimated wind speed of 65-85 mph and leads to light damage.
  • EF1: Estimated wind speed of 86-110 mph with the potential of moderate damage.
  • EF2: Estimated wind speeds of 111-135 mph with significant damage potential.
  • EF3: Estimated wind speeds of 136-165 mph with severe damage potential.
  • EF4: Estimated wind speeds of 166-200 mph with devastating damage potential.
  • EF5: Estimated wind speeds of over 200 mph with incredible damage potential.

Before a Michigan Tornado:

  • Identify safe rooms built to FEMA criteria or ICC500 storm shelters or other potential protective locations in sturdy buildings near your home, work, and other locations you frequent so you have a plan for where you will go quickly for safety when there is a Warning or an approaching tornado.
  • For schools, malls, and other buildings with long-span roofs or open space plans, or many occupants, ask the building manager to identify the best available refuge. 
  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system.  The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.  If your community has sirens, become familiar with the warning tone.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.  In an emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.  Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
    • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

During a Tornado:

  • If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately!  Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
  • If you are in school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building then:       
    • Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room built to FEMA criteria, basement, storm shelter, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a smaller interior room, such as a closet or hallway, that is away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body as best you can e.g., with a heavy coat or blankets, pillows.
    • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Do not open windows.

After The Tornado

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How To Save Money on Renters Insurance

Save money on renters insurance

Top ways customers say they’ve saved money on renters insurance


Buying renters insurance isn’t always considered a priority by renters. Some might not even consider it if the rental agreement doesn’t require it. The good news is that renters insurance is generally very affordable and easy to obtain.

As noted, it is now frequently a requirement to show proof of an active renters insurance policy when you sign a lease agreement.

Even though renters insurance coverage is very affordable, you still want to make sure that you’re getting the best price for the coverage that you need. If you want to know how to save on renters insurance, this post has some valuable tips from the best source — renters themselves.

Clearsurance looked at reviews and compiled this list of the top ways customers say they save money on renters insurance. These renters insurance tips from actual customers can guide anyone who is looking for cheap renters insurance for apartments or other rental properties.

Tip 1: Ask about renters insurance discounts

There are a lot of discounts available to renters, including some that you might not even realize can help you save money. For example, when you move into an apartment, you might think that the sprinklers or other fire suppression systems in your apartment are there to protect your landlord’s property, such as the building structure.

However, since these systems are effective at putting fires out quickly, they protect your personal property too, so many insurers will discount your renter’s insurance if your apartment or rental unit is equipped with them.

The same goes for other systems that may be installed by your landlord, such as security systems and alarms.

Even information such as the building’s construction and the materials it is made from can make you eligible for discounts, so don’t be afraid to ask your insurance company about discounts.

Here’s what one customer learned about Lemonade renters insurance:

“Best customer service ever! My lemonade policy barely costs a fast food meal a month. It’s so cheap. My property required renter’s insurance (which I really did not want at the time – I thought it was pointless, what could happen to me – right?!) I found lemonade online and chose them due to their great rates. I got a lot of discounts because I have a security system in my apartment and my complex has fire sprinklers in every room, fire alarms in every room, and smoke detectors in every room.” – sam1, Lemonade Customer Reviewer (Read the full review here.)

Tip 2: Regularly review your pricing

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Chipotle gift card winner for Shield Insurance Agency GIve A Way

Shield Insurance Gift Card Winners!

Friday July 30, 2021

Every week, Shield Insurance Agency draws a winner from its clients and social media followers. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook Page to get yourself entered to win and see who the winners are!

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Send us a referral and receive cash or choose to donate to Roslyn

Shield Referral Program Supports Roslyn

Shield Referral Program

Community Minded Referral Program

Your referral can make a difference for Roslyn. Shield Insurance is helping Roslyn by donating $25 for each non-client who gets a quote from us! No purchase necessary! CLICK HERE to get a quote and we’ll donate $25 to her! (Be sure to mention Roslyn in the comment section!) You can also call or text the office and one of our agents will take a few minutes of your time to offer up a quote. Don’t forget to mention Ros!

“The highest compliment we can receive is the referral of your friends, family & business associates. Thank you for your trust!”

Meet Roslyn
Roslyn and Shield Insurance Agency Referral Program

More great stories featuring Roslyn…

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shield insurance agency educational video cover

Insurance Terms

Shield Insurance Agency & Foremost Insurance Company present Insurance Terms

Every industry has its own unique language – and insurance is no exception. Here are some key insurance definitions and terms you might come across as you consider insuring yourself or your stuff.

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