Tips for Documenting Manager-Employee Conversations

Two Woman in Black Sits on Chair Near Table

Whether a manager is congratulating an employee on a job well-done or coaching them to improve their behavior or performance, proper documentation helps both parties.

When in doubt, document. That’s the expert advice you should give your managers when discussing important job-related matters with employees. The following tips can help supervisors throughout the documentation cycle. 

(Note: These strategies pertain to day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. Harassment, discrimination and other highly sensitive matters may require a different approach and should involve your HR and legal teams.)

Proper documentation processes

Record dates and names. When holding a formal conversation related to performance, record the date and everyone involved. Never change the date, even if the conversation had been scheduled for a different day. Include full names on the first reference. First names or initials are acceptable after that. Ask all parties to verify the date and discussion points with a physical or electronic signature when possible.

Set expectations. The document should begin with a clear, concise intent. If a manager is helping an employee improve their job performance, the manager should avoid vague phrases like “It’s time to pick up the pace” or “You know what’s expected by now.” Instead, include specific details. For example:

  • “Show up at work by 8 a.m. Monday through Friday.”
  • “Wear appropriate clothing covering your feet and toes.”
  • “Meet reporting deadlines each Friday by 4 p.m.”

Highlight the good and the bad. People often think of documentation as capturing negative performance and charting a path for discipline or termination. However, it should capture the full employment record, including positive records that can lay the groundwork for stretch assignments, promotions, bonuses and salary increases. Managers should relay the full scope of documentation and how it helps both sides. If documentation solely occurs after inappropriate behavior or poor performance, employees will feel under attack and less open to forthright discussions.

Specify objective changes. If the discussion includes behavior or performance matters, focus on job-related issues. Describe actions, not personal failings. The following examples differentiate between factual descriptions and individual criticism.

  • Objective: “Yelling in a meeting shuts down the conversation, makes others less likely to share ideas and harms company culture.”
  • Personal: “You’re always shouting and interrupting, and you need to change that.”

Talk about the employee’s impact on others, both good and bad. And detail the behavior or performance you’d like to see. In the example above, you might note, “People respect your ideas. But before making a suggestion in the next meeting, please affirm the previous speaker’s point. If you disagree, offer an alternative solution without dismissing other viewpoints. Use a civil, courteous tone in all discussions.”

Include employee input. Manager-employee interactions should be two-way. When discussing inappropriate behavior or performance, allow employees to explain their side. Documents should include their reasoning. This strategy records all feedback, demonstrates fairness and enables supervisors to provide customized solutions.

Establish goals. Documents should identify agreed-upon outcomes, especially in cases involving behavior or performance improvement. This process creates a track record with clear steps for employees to take. Examples include:

  • “Beginning Feb. 14, you agree to arrive at work by 8 a.m. each day.”
  • “By 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday, you will provide a status update on your sales goals and potential leads.”

Create a timeline. A timeline may be as simple as listing the date and time of the next discussion. If specific improvements or goals are discussed, set the timing for those to occur. Examples include:

  • “We will document your arrival time each morning and review your progress two weeks from today.”
  • “The presentation you turn in on the 22nd will be peer-reviewed and free of typos.”
  • “When you return from the conference on Friday, you will have one week to deliver actionable takeaways to the team. This report will be due next Friday at 3:30 p.m.”

Follow up with the employee. Managers should document each time they discuss issues affecting an employee’s role or track record. If the conversation involves behavior or performance improvements, list specific consequences for the employee’s failure to achieve the stated goals. Consequences may include:

  • Required training tasks
  • Withheld assignments or promotions
  • Progressive discipline
  • Demotion or termination

If appropriate, managers should discuss positive aspects stemming from the communication process. Include the employee’s feedback and ask for their input on future discussions.

Other considerations

Train managers on proper documentation strategies. Training can help them avoid making personal judgments, accusations, exaggerations and legal conclusions within their documents. Remind them that words like “never” or “always” are unhelpful generalities.

Documentation should be clear, consistent and objective for all of a manager’s direct reports. Supervisors can’t keep separate or secret documents. Documentation needs to be able to withstand outside scrutiny. In a legal action, all documents will be discoverable. When creating documents, supervisors should imagine being able to present them to a jury.

Help managers avoid red flags. Examples of inappropriate documentation include telling employees they have a bad attitude, don’t help the team or don’t fit the culture. These statements don’t provide straightforward ways to improve. Further, they are open to interpretation and could give rise to discrimination claims.

Encourage managers to learn from mistakes, not hide them. Transparency is more important than perfection, and documentation errors can lead to future improvements.

Keep track of all documentation. Have a system for creating, filing and tracking documents. Keep multiple copies, including backups. Many organizations go entirely digital. At the very least, you should have digital copies. Be clear about when documents can be deleted or destroyed. Check your documentation system through internal or external audits.

Additional information

For more information on proper documentation, reach out to our Human Resources Consulting team.They can share best practices, training opportunities and third-party vendors that specialize in organizing and digitizing employee documentation.


This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2024 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

What is Flood Insurance?

Young couple in wellington boots on flooded floor

Flood insurance is a type of home or business insurance that covers flooding, which is not covered by standard home or commercial insurance.

Flood insurance can be written to cover buildings and contents and it’s designed for owners or renters. You don’t have to own waterfront property to be at risk for flood damage. Flooding can happen anywhere and it’s a year-round risk. Poor drainage, summer storms, melting snow, flash rains, nearby construction and broken water mains can all lead to damage and loss of property. Just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 worth of damage, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is the government entity that provides flood insurance.

Ninety percent of natural disasters involve flooding, and devastation is common.

Standard insurance does not offer flood protection

As mentioned above, homeowners and commercial property insurance do not cover flood damage. A separate flood insurance policy is the only way to cover physical losses to your home or building and its belongings.

When lenders require flood insurance

If your property is in a designated high-risk area, your mortgage lender will require flood insurance before approving a real estate transaction. High-risk areas are determined by flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They face at least a 25% chance of flooding in a 30-year period(the typical length of a mortgage), or a 1% or greater risk annually.

When lenders don’t require flood insurance

Should you still get flood insurance if your home or business isn’t in a flood zone? The NFIP recently reported that over 40% of all insurance claims it received were from policyholders outside high-risk areas. Fortunately, property owners in moderate- to low-risk zones are eligible for lower-cost policies, so it’s worth the investment.

Even if you’ve looked at flood maps in the past, it’s important to know that these maps are always changing. New development in your area, new infrastructure and changing climate patterns can all affect your flood risk.

What’s considered a flood?

Having water in your basement does not necessarily count as a flood, but it may depending on where the water came from. A flash rain might saturate the ground, leaving rainwater nowhere to go except into your basement, for example.

A sewage backup is not flooding, nor is wind-driven rain that enters through the windows, doors, roof or other openings in your building. These perils can be covered by a homeowners or business insurance policy endorsement called sewer backup insurance.

According to NFIP, a flood is “a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) due to:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
  • Mudflow; or
  • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.”

(Note: Even though a mudflow is a movement of earth, it is covered by flood insurance, not earthquake insurance.)

The danger of relying on federal disaster assistance

Why not rely on federal disaster assistance for flooding? This type of aid is only available when the president formally issues a disaster declaration, which happens with less than 50% of floods. And some disaster assistance comes in the form of a loan that you must repay, with interest.

What does flood insurance cover?

The NFIP offers building and contents coverage. You can buy just one type or both. If you are a renter and lease a property in a high-risk area, your landlord likely carries a policy on the building. However, your landlord’s policy won’t cover your property or belongings. You should still purchase contents coverage to protect your things.

NFIP Coverage LimitsStructuresContents
Residential$250,000$100,000
Commercial$500,000$500,000

Examples of what building coverage includes:

  • The structure and its foundation
  • Electric and plumbing systems
  • Heating, cooling and water systems
  • Built-in appliances, refrigerators and cooking stoves
  • Permanently installed flooring, paneling, wallboards, bookcases and cabinets
  • Window blinds
  • Detached garages (Other outbuildings require separate coverage.)
  • Debris removal

Examples of what contents coverage includes: 

  • Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture and electronics
  • Curtains
  • Portable and window air conditioners
  • Portable appliances
  • Carpets not permanently installed
  • Washer and dryer
  • Food
  • Original artwork or other valuables up to $2,500
  • Microwaves and portable dishwashers

What building and contents coverage don’t include:

  • Avoidable moisture, mildew and mold damage
  • Currency, valuable papers, stock certificates and precious metals
  • Outside property, such as landscaping, hardscape, wells, septic systems, pools and hot tubs
  • Living expenses required for temporary housing
  • Lost wages due to business interruption or loss of use
  • Most vehicles on the property
Private flood insurance options

If the exclusions or limits concern you, talk to your insurance agent about other policies for added protection. Some private insurance providers offer higher coverage limits and endorsements, like coverage for additional living expenses and jewelry, but these policies may cost more than NFIP insurance.

Who sells flood insurance?

Licensed insurance agents and brokers can sell NFIP or private flood insurance (or both).

Before 1968, flooding was considered an uninsurable risk and private insurance was virtually unavailable. For this reason, Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The act created the NFIP, allowing property owners in participating communities to purchase flood insurance. The NFIP provides flood insurance coverage only in “participating” communities that have adopted and enforced floodplain management practices. Homeowners in these communities can also purchase excess flood insurance from a private insurer, but they must have an NFIP policy first.

Homeowners and businesses that do not qualify for an NFIP policy can still secure private flood insurance. Your insurance agent can help you choose the best coverage for your situation.

Decide before the water rises

There is a 30-day waiting period before NFIP insurance takes effect. Some private flood insurance has a 14-day waiting period. If you’re in a high-risk area, your mortgage lender or business funder will likely require you to carry flood insurance. But even if you’re not in a flood zone, flood insurance is worth consideration.

Call your insurance agent to get help with the details!

For more information

Looking for flood insurance? Reach out to our Personal Insurance team for a quote.


This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2023 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

WEBINAR: PERSONAL INSURANCE 101

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Join OneGroup’s next 101 Series Webinar! OneGroup personal insurance experts, Kimberly Hendrick and Dave Weaver will discuss the value and importance of an umbrella policy, personal insurance claims, and how to save money on insurance – the smart way

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Medical Malpractice Protections for Physicians

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Protect yourself and your practice against financial disaster.

Medicine is a science, but it’s never exact. Even with the best intentions, you might misdiagnose a patient, perform a procedure incorrectly or recommend an ineffective treatment. Textbook care can still lead to patient claims alleging that your services caused bodily harm, property damage or mental anguish. 

Medical malpractice claims usually seek financial awards for patients or survivors to cover medical bills, lost wages or other expenses. Medical malpractice insurance is professional liability insurance for doctors and other medical professionals. It can be expensive, but it’s your best protection against financial disaster. 

Malpractice claims are based on the premise that the patient’s injury was unintentional. According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, a malpractice claim must prove the following:

  • The standard of care was not followed.
  • The injury was caused by provider negligence.
  • The injury resulted in significant damages.

Examples of malpractice include:

  • Inaccurate or incomplete collection or recording of medical history
  • Misdiagnoses
  • Failure to test for or identify an illness or injury
  • Lab result errors
  • Surgical mistakes
  • Prescriptions or anesthesia errors
  • Poor follow-up care

In contrast, medical battery is when a doctor or medical provider intentionally touches or treats a patient without consent in a way that is harmful or offensive. Medical battery claims must prove intent, and these cases are handled in criminal courts. They are separate from medical malpractice and are usually not insured under medical malpractice policies. 

Other common medical liability exclusions are theft, misrepresentations, fraud, practicing while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, and falsifications of medical information or credentials.

Diagnose your risk

Though your state might not require medical malpractice insurance, it is crucial, because even one claim can be financially ruinous.

A 2022 American Medical Association review of medical claims revealed nearly one-third of U.S. doctors have been sued at least once for malpractice. Even though most of these civil lawsuits are dropped or end with no findings of physician negligence or error, there can still be significant costs associated with legal representation and other services.

Your risk of malpractice depends on your specialty and the location of your practice. According to a 2023 Medscape report, surgeons have the highest frequency of malpractice claims, followed closely by obstetricians/gynecologists and orthopaedists.

The report also ranked the 10 states with the highest rates of malpractice claims, from highest frequency to lowest:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Indiana
  3. Kentucky
  4. New Mexico
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. New York
  7. Oregon
  8. Missouri
  9. South Carolina
  10. Tennessee
Getting the right coverage

You can obtain professional liability insurance in two forms:

  • As an individual or group policy purchased directly from a traditional private insurance professional or through a medical risk retention group
  • As part of an employer-provided policy, such as when a hospital provides protection for its own medical team

An appropriate malpractice policy should cover the cost of indemnifying and defending you, if you are found liable.

Recognize that even when you are absolved of any wrongdoing, a malpractice claim can still involve considerable expenses. The complexity of most cases typically requires substantial investigation. You can lose income while working on case research or during court appearances. You may also need professional help restoring your medical reputation.

A comprehensive malpractice policy covers legal fees, court costs and expenses related to arbitration or settlement. It will also cover related lost wages while you’re away from your practice, and many policies will pay for reputation repair. Lawsuits can drag on for years, so this kind of financial protection is particularly important.

When choosing coverage, recognize that malpractice claims don’t always surface at the time of treatment. Each state has its own statute of limitations that defines how long a person has to file a claim. The clock usually begins at the time of the alleged injury and, depending on the state, typically remains open for one to four years. However, states have the option to extend these windows. In most states, there’s a longer time for cases to be filed when a claim involves a child, often extending until they are 18 or older.

Because claims can be filed years after treatment, you should carefully consider the two types of malpractice policies:

  • Occurrence — This type of policy protects you for claims that “occur” during the policy period. You remain protected for that policy term, even if the policy is cancelled at the time the claim is reported.
  • Claims-made — This type of policy covers you for claims that are made while the policy is in effect, or during any extended reporting period, assuming tail coverage has been purchased.

As a buffer, some claims-made policies also offer extended coverage for a predetermined period of time after the policy is canceled. Tail coverage provides important protection when you are changing insurance carriers, changing employers, or retiring from practice.

Most group practices and hospitals provide their physicians with medical malpractice insurance. However, you shouldn’t assume this employer-provided benefit gives you adequate protection. Do you moonlight in addition to working for your employer who carries your insurance?

Review the details of your existing malpractice insurance with your own independent insurance professional to confirm you have the right coverage. Consider your medical specialty, the procedures you perform, your practice responsibilities, your family assets and your long-term financial goals.

Also be aware that some liability policies provided by employers only offer claims-made coverage. This means that you may need to purchase an extended reporting endorsement (tail coverage) if you decide to leave your employer. Is this addressed in your employment agreement?

As a best practice, you should meet with your insurance professional periodically to review your medical malpractice coverage. This is especially important whenever there is a change in your career or personal obligations. When you meet, ask about other potential liabilities doctors face, particularly if you are a partner in a medical practice. These could include cyber liability and risks related to patient privacy as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Medical malpractice insurance can protect your assets and those of your employer. It can also financially compensate patients you may have injured. Speak with your insurance professional to find the right coverage for your medical practice. 

Contact Us

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2024 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Trampolines and Other Attractive Dangers in Your Yard

Happy friends jumping on the trampoline in summer

While trampolines may offer hours of fun for energetic children, they bring unwanted safety risks to homeowners.

In 1934, University of Iowa gymnast George Nissen and his coach, Larry Griswold, were searching for a way to help Nissen improve his gymnastics training. Working out of Nissen’s garage, the duo built a bouncing device by connecting a steel frame to a canvas sheet using rubber inner tubes. They named the apparatus a “trampoline,” after the Spanish word for “diving board.” They later founded the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company in hopes of selling the trampolines commercially. The year was 1942.

Fast forward to now, and the trampoline has become a popular recreational item in homes. About 500,000 trampolines are sold each year, according to a study published in the Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health. But while trampolines may offer hours of fun for energetic children, they bring unwanted safety risks to homeowners.

In fact, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons have issued policy statements and recommendations strongly discouraging home use of trampolines due to the high incidence of trampoline-related injuries.

The numbers speak for themselves. In the United States, there are more than 250,000 medically treated trampoline injuries each year. These result in more than 100,000 visits to the emergency room, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And over 90% of these injuries occur in kids ages five to 14.

Why are trampolines so dangerous? Simply put, what makes bouncing acrobatically so much fun also makes it extremely hazardous. Throw in the fact that multiple children tend to use trampolines simultaneously, and it’s no wonder the activity results in arm and leg sprains and fractures, as well as serious head and neck injuries.

The leading causes of injury are:

  • Colliding with another person
  • Landing incorrectly while jumping, flipping, somersaulting or attempting tricks
  • Falling off the trampoline
  • Landing on top of the trampoline’s springs or frame
Other attractive nuisances

Insurance companies consider trampolines, swimming pools, playground sets, treehouses, ponds and fountains, among other things, to be “attractive nuisances.” An attractive nuisance is a potentially hazardous item on one’s property that can attract or lure children.

Because trampolines, swimming pools and playgrounds are especially appealing and enticing to young children, they’re a red flag for many insurance companies. As a result, some insurers may refuse to cover these pieces of equipment, while others allow them only if specific accommodations are made. Such accommodations can include:

  • Building fences and installing locked gates around the equipment
  • Padding the trampoline frame and springs
  • Digging out the ground under the trampoline to place the bouncing surface at ground level instead of several feet above the ground

It’s also common for insurance companies to cover your home but exclude liability for the risky item. They may refuse to cover any medical bills or lawsuit expenses related to the use of the equipment, unless you purchase an insurance rider with specialized coverage. You’ll also want to consider increasing your liability insurance limits or obtaining coverage under a personal umbrella insurance policy. An umbrella adds significant financial protection to your standard homeowners coverage.

Going without coverage can make you appear riskier to some companies. And don’t let your policy lapse in a hard market, either. Some companies will take it as an opportunity to drop you for good, leaving you scrambling for coverage. Sign up for auto pay to ensure your payments are made on time.

Important safety rules

If you have a trampoline or another type of equipment that could be considered an attractive nuisance, follow these safety rules:

  • Install fencing or an enclosure and lock it when there’s no adult supervision.
  • Cover frames, springs, hooks and landing surfaces with shock-absorbing pads. 
  • Place trampolines and other similar equipment far from other structures, trees, play areas and other hazards.
  • Regularly examine all equipment for wear and tear, sharp objects, trip-and-fall hazards and other potential sources of injury.
  • Post notices of hazards, but don’t rely on them. Children attracted to your equipment might not be able to read and certainly will not be held accountable for lack of adherence.
  • Don’t allow potentially risky stunts on your equipment.
  • Install alarms to alert you if someone has entered an unsafe area without permission.
  • Use proper lighting to avoid nighttime accidents.

If you’re considering getting a trampoline, a pool, a playhouse or another attractive nuisance, familiarize yourself with the liability risks associated with your decision. While these items can provide hours of fun for energetic children, they require a substantial investment in security, both physical and financial.

Your insurance professional can help you find coverage that matches your exposure. They can also help with risk management suggestions so you can enjoy your yard safely.

For more information

Looking for more information or a coverage review? Reach out to our Personal Insurance team.


This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2024 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Insuring Your ATV

Driving 4x4 in Costa Rica

Off-road, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be fun to ride and are popular in recreational areas that allow them. 

They can also be useful for getting around a farm or ranch. But ATVs can be dangerous, too. That’s why it’s important to follow safety rules and have an ATV insurance policy to protect against the financial costs of injury and property damage.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s most recent annual report on ATV-related deaths and injuries, there were an estimated 81,800 ATV-related emergency room visits in 2018. Over a quarter of these injuries involved children under 16.

Insurance is mandatory in many states if you’re riding on public lands. And while ATV insurance isn’t required when riding on private property, it’s still a good idea to have coverage. Also, if you’re financing an ATV, your lender will likely require you to have insurance. So be sure to ask your insurance professional about the various coverages available.

At the very least, you’ll want liability coverage, which is similar to what you might find in an auto or motorcycle policy. Some homeowners insurance policies provide limited liability coverage for an ATV used on your property, but there may be gaps in coverage. Ask your agent what’s best for you.

ATV insurance basics

Here are the basic coverages you’ll want to consider:

Liability coverage pays for bodily injury and property damage up to certain limits if you cause an accident. It also covers legal fees if you are sued. Bodily injury limits are usually written as an amount per person and a total amount per accident.

Property liability coverage includes damage to personal belongings as well as someone’s yard or home. Property liability is also subject to limits that are usually lower than bodily injury limits.

Collision coverage (optional) pays for repairs to your ATV if it gets damaged in a rollover or accident. Collision coverage is subject to a deductible and pays only up to the value of your ATV, so it may not be worth getting this coverage for an older vehicle.

Comprehensive coverage (optional) protects your ATV from theft, vandalism, fire and severe weather. Most policies pay the cash value of the stolen ATV.

Medical payments coverage (optional) pays for medical expenses incurred by your ATV passengers in the event of an accident.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (optional) protects you if another rider causes an accident and does not have insurance to pay for your expenses, subject to the limits in your policy.

Additional insurance considerations
  • How often and where you ride, the type and age of your ATV, and where your ATV is stored can affect your coverage and premium costs.
  • Most ATV policies cover the use of your ATV only for recreational purposes or commuting on your property. ATV racing is not covered, although you may be able to find coverage from a specialty insurer.
  • It is illegal to ride an ATV on a highway or road, and ATV policies exclude coverage in these situations.
  • Riders must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid driver’s license to be insured.
  • Coverage generally extends to other people who drive your ATV with your permission, provided they are licensed.
  • Older riders usually can find less expensive coverage than younger drivers, who are considered a higher risk.
  • An insurance professional can help you find the most cost-effective policy for you.
Put safety first

Because ATVs are dangerous, it’s especially important to follow safety procedures. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been 15,744 fatalities from ATV accidents since 1982, and 21% of those were children under 16 years old. Remember to follow these basic safety rules:

  • Do not drive ATVs on paved roads.
  • Do not allow a child younger than 16 to drive or ride in an adult ATV.
  • Do not drive ATVs with a passenger or ride as a passenger unless the ATV is specifically designed to carry more than one person.
  • Always wear a helmet and other protective gear such as eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants,and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Take a hands-on safety training course.

Drive safely and have a great time, backed by the assurance of proper precautions and good insurance.

More information on insurance for recreational vehicles and watercraft.


Call a OneGroup agent today to discuss your options: 800-268-1830.

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

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Navigating Liquor Liability in the Food Service Industry

Bartender pouring alcoholic drink into the glasses

Alcohol service can attract patrons and fun, but it also comes with a chaser of complex liabilities. 

If your restaurant serves alcohol or has a bring-your-own bottle (BYOB) policy, your liability exposure is higher than if you ran a dry operation.

You know you share responsibility for what happens to your patrons while they’re in your establishment. But did you know you could also be held liable for their actions and the damage they cause even after they leave?

Learn about the liability implications of serving liquor, how to insure against them and ways to control your risk exposure.

Liability implications

Alcohol laws vary from state to state. For example, your establishment could be on the line if you serve alcohol to an intoxicated patron who drives home and causes an accident. It depends on your local laws, but most businesses can face litigation for the intoxicated patron’s actions, including property damage, personal injury and death. 

And if you serve alcohol to a minor, even accidentally, you could face severe penalties and lose your liquor license. You must understand how applicable local and state laws function, stay compliant and have proper safety measures.

Liquor service and seller compliance laws

Most states have mandatory training programs for servers and bartenders. This ensures they comply with the requirements around serving alcohol. Training programs educate staff about the state’s alcohol laws, the impact of alcohol on the body, techniques to identify and deal with intoxicated patrons, and how to manage difficult situations.

Server compliance is not just a legal obligation. It can also help you establish responsible business practices, protect your establishment from fines and reduce your liquor liability exposure. 

Even with a robust compliance program, you still need liquor liability insurance. Liquor liability insurance covers you if an intoxicated patron harms themselves or others. It protects your business from lawsuits.

How state licensure, compliance and training affect your insurance

Your commercial general liability (CGL) insurance includes host liquor liability coverage, which protects you if you host an employee party involving alcohol. However, hospitality businesses that serve liquor on-premises, like restaurants and bars, are excluded. Don’t rely on CGL for coverage. You’ll need liquor liability or dramshop insurance (see below).

In most states, liquor liability insurance is a precondition to holding and maintaining an on-premises alcohol license. For example, your state might require you to carry minimum coverage for bodily injury, property damage or death. The insurance coverage must remain in effect during your license period and be updated or renewed annually. If you don’t have proof of insurance, you won’t be able to maintain your establishment’s liquor license.

Responsible alcohol server and seller training

Employee certification and individual licensing can affect your coverage, too. If your state requires every server to have a liquor service certification, you must comply. If you have a claim and the insurance company discovers your staff is unlicensed, it can negate or limit your coverage. Never allow servers to work a shift if their certification has expired.

Dramshop laws protect the general public from damage and losses resulting from the overservice of drunken patrons; dramshop insurance protects establishment owners and employees. If your employee is found guilty of overserving a patron who later harms another individual, your dramshop policy should cover the settlement. Without it, you could go bankrupt covering the damages alone.

Liability coverage limits

Protection doesn’t extend to the inebriated wrongdoer who injures someone else. In that case, the injured person would sue the wrongdoer and possibly your establishment to determine fault. If you’re found at fault, the wrongdoer might also sue you for overserving them. Your liquor liability insurance would cover your legal defense. 

But remember, your insurance will cover you only up to the limits of your policy. If you have $500,000 in liability limits and your court case costs $600,000, you’ll pay $100,000 out of pocket. And that may not leave anything for settlement fees.

Ask your agent to help you select the proper limits. Be ready to provide your agent with safety and compliance information about your establishment, such as:

  • Alcohol or liquor server certificates
  • Bar logs
  • Employee safety training, including preshift safety talks
  • Video surveillance systems
  • Taxi or ridesharing agreements, including complimentary ride programs
  • ID-checking procedures and wristband or stamp protocols
  • Claims history
Other coverages for food service establishments

The inherent risk factors associated with selling alcohol make the right insurance critical for restaurant owners. Here are some additional policies:

Business owners policies combine CGL and property insurance into one package. They’re often more cost-effective and manageable than purchasing separate policies.

Employment practices liability insurance covers lawsuits related to employment issues, including claims of wrongful termination, discrimination or sexual harassment. For example, harassment disputes involving management, other employees and patrons could arise. CGL doesn’t cover you if an employee sues you.

Restaurant insurance is a prepackaged insurance program that covers the main liability issues for bars and restaurants. Your agent can help you decide if a restaurant program is right for you. They can also customize it based on your operations.

Workers’ compensation insurance protects employers, including bar and restaurant owners, when an employee is injured on the job. Fights and other issues often arise in establishments with liquor on-site, so it’s essential coverage.

Control your risk exposure

The first line of defense in minimizing liquor liability is employee training. Here are a few tips to guide thetraining process:

Teach employees to recognize the signs of intoxication. Employees should be able to identify signs of overconsumption and know when to stop serving a patron. Online and in-person classes are available to train your staff. Many states require every server to be certified. Check with your local beverage authorities about training compliance.

Check IDs diligently. Door staff should check IDs to avoid serving alcohol to minors, regardless of how mature a person may look. Implement a wristband or handstamp system for people drinking alcohol. It makes it easier on servers if IDs are checked beforehand. It also reduces the chances of being conned if one person checks throughout a shift. 

Use a different handstamp or wristband each night so minors can’t replicate them. If servers are checking IDs, make sure they do it consistently. Train your servers to ask questions if an ID seems suspicious.

Maintain a bar log. Make it a habit to enter information about each shift. If a patron is refused service, enter the details in the log. If it’s a slow night, note it. If you call a cab for someone, enter the details. The purpose is to keep a record of each shift, whether it’s eventful or not. Notes should be professional and detailed in case they’re used by law enforcement or in court. Keep the bar log in a secure area, away from the public.

Promote nonalcoholic options. Encourage servers to promote nonalcoholic drinks and food items to lessen the demand for alcohol. Give complimentary nonalcoholic beverages to designated drivers.

Rehearse how to handle drunk patrons. Some patrons might get belligerent if you refuse to serve them. Train your staff on how to handle these situations, including a signal or code to alert management or bouncer staff when there’s trouble. 

It’s important to remain calm and resist the temptation to engage with an angry customer or escalate the situation. A fight could endanger both staff and patrons. Train your staff to respond in a way they’d be proud to have livestreamed (and that could happen; cameras are everywhere). Don’t let your staff be framed negatively because they momentarily lost their cool due to an out-of-control customer.

Stay vigilant during happy hour or two-for-one promotions. These discount initiatives can promote excessive drinking in short periods, leading to overservice. Some states have outlawed happy hours for this reason. 

If you run a drink promotion, limit the duration and be firm about start and stop times, such as 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Impose a drink limit per order or per person. Hire extra staff or security. Watch for signs of intoxication. Document all irregular interactions, like fights, behavioral complaints and verbal threats, along with who’s been cut off.

Use taxis or rideshares. Make getting a ride home easy, fast and painless. When you call a cab for someone, watch them get in the cab and make sure the cab driver knows their address. 

It’s important to establish relationships with reputable taxi services that have good track records. Keep a list of trusted companies you can count on to get intoxicated patrons home safely. If possible, drivers should wait to ensure passengers are safely inside their homes, and they should never leave unconscious passengers outside. In the event of a lawsuit, anyone who came in contact with that customer over the course of the evening could be called into question.

Call your agent for a coverage review

Liquor liability is more than just complying with state laws and maintaining records. It’s about cultivating a safe environment for your patrons and staff. The right insurance, staff training and documentation can go a long way to guarding your establishment from legal repercussions. Say cheers to a coverage review to ensure you’re well-protected!

For more information

For more information, please contact Rina Corigliano-Hart, Director of Client Engagement and Outreach, at RHart@OneGroup.com.


This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2023 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wired to Succeed in Solar Roofing

Electrician installing solar panels

The solar industry is growing.

The Department of Energy reports the number of photovoltaic (PV) installations increased by 44% year over year in the first half of 2023. That’s the fastest pace ever. The upward trend in the solar roofing market is opening the door for business expansion. But this increase in demand has also left electricians grappling with the complexities of PV systems. These include long-tail liability for operational problems that might not appear for years. Even if it’s the product that’s faulty, not the installation, you may be the first party a customer expects to take responsibility for repairs and replacement expenses.

Liability lawsuits tend to name all parties associated with the system that led to damage or injury. For that reason, you should be aware of your contractual liabilities and your financial risk in the event of property damage or harm to individuals. If you are a subcontractor installing solar panels as part of a larger build, make sure you are adequately protected by either your insurance or the owner’s or general contractor’s insurance.

One way to limit your liability is to hire qualified staff. The rapid growth in popularity of solar power has led to increased demand for skilled electrical workers. But electricians qualified to install and troubleshoot solar panels aren’t easy to find. Choosing the right employees to work on solar panel installation and maintenance, and keeping their skills up to date, can protect your company from liability losses.

What types of solar roofing claims are common

As solar energy has caught on, the number of claims against companies selling these systems has risen. A recent Time magazine article notes that solar panel-related complaints to the Federal Trade Commission are up 746% since 2018.

For example, a recent lawsuit filed in Florida alleged two solar companies routinely installed inoperable systems and failed to honor warranties for roof damage. All parties involved had to hire defense attorneys and begin investigations.

Roof damage, water infiltration, fires and less-than-optimal operation are common complaints you may face, even months or years after you install a solar system. Deficiencies specifically related to electrical work have included:

  • Failing to ground solar energy elements
  • Improperly securing PV modules
  • Exceeding current limits on busbars or conductors
  • Using non-DC-rated equipment in DC circuits

Wiring problems are at the heart of many faulty installations. Those include splicing issues such as methods not rated for the specific environment or conductor type.

Alongside installation errors are design flaws, where structural framing isn’t compatible with PV panel support or wiring accommodations. Sagging roofs and hot spots along wood framing have also occurred.

In some cases, local building codes have not kept pace with solar energy. When a fire or another loss occurs, however, the property owner will most likely name all those involved in the solar energy system and let them fight over who is at fault.

Consider these questions before taking on a solar project:

  • Is your electrical business protected by insurance for solar claims?
  • Are you or your employees qualified for the intricacies of the job?
  • Have you vetted each of your solar projects to minimize your involvement in poor design or product failure?
Manage your risk

To minimize your liability, create and follow a strict risk management protocol.

  • Work with only qualified structural engineers, architects and designers.
  • Use highly trained solar specialists on your projects.
  • Know the structural requirements before installing a system. Make appropriate modifications a part of your contract with the property owner.
  • Estimate and install a system based on environmental factors such as wind and snow load.
  • Have a specialist in structural and electrical codes and employ that person’s knowledge in every project.
  • Partner with a good structural engineer who can inspect all properties for adequacy of existing framing and appropriateness of design.
  • Fully understand the financial exposures of any contract or warranty you enter into.
  • Obtain electricians insurance that incorporates the perils your solar business faces, particularly long-tail exposure to claims years after the project is completed.

As part of your risk management plan, you may wish to partner with a fire investigator who is qualified to evaluate incidents related to solar energy. In some scenarios, it may appear that the PV system caused the blaze, but other contributing factors may be discovered.

For example, a property owner may fail to maintain a solar PV system, resulting in corroded cables, loose connections and damaged wires, among other wear and tear issues. Correctly identifying such maintenance-related conditions could exonerate you or your installer.

With the ongoing, rapid innovation in the solar power industry, electricians who install PV systems may struggle to keep up with developments and hire and train labor. While there’s high profit potential for those who staff properly and manage their projects well, there’s also a high risk factor.

Building a solid risk management program is integral to succeeding in this niche. Talk to an insurance professional who understands the liability exposure you face as an electrician. Commercial general liability and professional liability insurance can help cover the cost of defending against lawsuits that could threaten your business.

Learn More

To learn more about managing your risks in the solar roofing industry, reach out to Brett Findlay at BFindlay@OneGroup.com.


This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2024 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Are your seasonal vehicles ready for summer?

Person Riding Motorcycle during Golden Hour

Before you take them out of winterization, you should make sure that your spring/summer vehicles are properly covered.

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs), boats, and motorcycles are popular recreational vehicles that start to make their way out of storage in the spring and summer months, making sure they are properly covered can protect your from a financial loss in the future.

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs):

ATVs offer an enjoyable riding experience and are commonly used in designated recreational areas. However, it’s essential to recognize that ATVs can also pose risks. To mitigate these risks, follow safety guidelines and make sure to obtain ATV insurance. While insurance is mandatory in many states for riding on public lands, it’s still advisable to have coverage even when riding on private property. If you’ve financed your ATV, your lender will likely require insurance as well. Remember that specific ATV insurance requirements vary by state, so it’s essential to check your local regulations to ensure your ATV is in compliance. 

Boats:

Most boat insurance policies provide liability protection. This covers your boat for bodily injury and medical expenses, damages to others property, and any injuries or losses caused by people you give permission to drive your boat to be covered. It also protects against damages or losses due to collisions, fires, lightning, vandalism, and theft.

This includes:

  • the boat
  • the hull
  • machinery
  • fittings
  • furnishings
  • any permanently attached standard equipment

What’s not included is:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Defective machinery or failure due to lack of maintenance
  • Damage from wildlife, including sharks, insects, and zebra mussels
  • Damage from mold
  • Damage from ice or freezing

You never plan for your boat to be in an accident, but if it is, having your boat insurance policy updated will protect you from financial loss and get you back on the water sooner.

Motorcycles:

Whether you own a brand-new bike or have been riding one for years, it’s good to have an understanding of the insurance you may need. Knowing what the right motorcycle coverage is for you will prepare you for almost anything that comes your way. Standard motorcycle insurance policies cover bodily injuries, property damage, and liability to others. Prepare for this summer’s many journeys by contacting your insurance agent early to help you find the right coverage.

Learn More

Having the right insurance ensures peace of mind, whether you’re cruising on your ATV, sailing your boat, or hitting the open road on your motorcycle! If you have questions about protecting your recreational vehicles, reach out to our Personal Insurance team. They’re happy to help you stay updated about ways to save.


This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2024 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

How to Protect Your Business From a Hurricane

Hurricane season

When hurricane season is around the corner, the best thing you can do for your business is prepare.

Fortunately, hurricanes and tropical storms never come unannounced. There’s usually adequate time for you to craft a mitigation and response plan.

In general, businesses within 50 miles of a shoreline tend to have a greater risk of hurricane-related property damage and loss. But even if your business is more than 50 miles from the coast, it’s still a good idea to take precautions. In 2023, for example, Hurricane Idalia caused extensive inland damage and flooding in both Florida and Georgia.

Here are six ways to prepare your business and employees for a hurricane.

1. Review insurance policies. The best time to figure out your insurance coverage is not in the wake of amajor storm. Review your policies now and familiarize yourself with how to file a claim after a disaster.

Most standard property insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for floods and hurricanes. If you think your business may be at risk for storm damage, contact your insurance professional and update your policies. Ask about adding hurricane and flood riders to your commercial building policy.

In addition, consider business interruption insurance. Business interruption coverage can replace lostincome if you’re forced to shut down because of a covered event.

If you have suppliers that are vulnerable to hurricanes, you may want to purchase contingent business interruption insurance. This can replace lost profits if one of your suppliers is affected by a major storm.

2. Establish a disaster plan and emergency contact list. Create an emergency business response andcontinuity plan. Your plan should include:

  • Varying levels of response based on hurricane impact
  • Contact information for employees, suppliers and vendors 
  • Evacuation routes
  • Recovery measures for after the storm passes

3. Inventory your business equipment. Create your inventory using paper, a laptop or tablet, or a smartphone app specially designed for taking a property inventory. Photos and videos (both interior and exterior) can provide useful backup when insurance adjusters are recording your losses.

4. Secure your building or office space. If your building has exterior glass frontage, clear out those sections as much as possible. Cover all windows and doors, or at least those on the first floor, with shutters, plywood or paneling. Brace doorways against floodwaters with sandbags or heavy plastic sheeting and duct tape.

Unplug all electrical equipment, including refrigerators, coffee makers, calculators, fax machines, printers, copy machines, computers, phones, cable TV, etc.

Remove and secure any swinging or portable outdoor signs. Secure all loose objects, such as potted plants and trash cans, that might cause damage (or be damaged) during strong winds.

Check drains, gutters and downspouts to ensure they are clear and able to drain off the heavy rain that usually accompanies a hurricane. Clogged drains could cause roof collapse from the weight of accumulated water. Additionally, interior damage can occur if water on the roof becomes deep enough to cover vent pipes and seep inside the building.

If you have business vehicles, move them into a garage or park them as closely together as possible. Remove all keys and secure in them a separate area.

5. Back up your data off-site. Make sure you have an updated off-site backup of all crucial business-related data. It could be on an external hard drive or kept in cloud storage. This will help preserve valuable data if there’s physical damage to your business.

6. Protect your employees. Your employees are your biggest asset, so give them adequate time to secure their homes and make personal preparations. Encourage them to stock up on necessities and develop a personal emergency plan to protect themselves and their loved ones. Establish a messaging system to provide every employee with important storm-related information.

One of the most important ways to prepare your business for a hurricane is to meet with your insurance professional and review your policies. Most losses from hurricanes are due to storm surges and flooding. Ensure you fully understand your coverage and risk exposures.

For more information

If you have questions about insurance for your business, reach out to our Business Insurance team.


This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2023 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.