New Law Impacts Workers’ Compensation Rules in Iowa

Posted on April 19, 2017

On March 30, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a new workers’ compensation reform bill into law, which made significant changes to the previous law. The bill will affect injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2017, and do not apply to ongoing claims.

The changes to the law impact the following areas:

  • Intoxication defense
  • Notice of injury
  • Statute of limitations
  • Suitable work
  • Commencement date for permanent partial disability benefits
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits for shoulder injuries
  • Industrial disability provisions
  • Functional impairment provisions
  • Permanent partial impairment and permanent total disability
  • Permanent total disability provisions
  • Credits for overpayments
  • Pre-existing/successive disabilities
  • Independent medical examinations
  • Commutation settlements
  • Jurisdiction over injuries occurring outside of Iowa
  • Judicial review/appeals
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Interest

A more detailed explanation of the law changes can be accessed here.

The information in the email and summaries are for informational use only and does not constitute legal counsel or advice. Agents and customers are advised to consult with their employment labor counsel before taking any action based on the information contained in the communications.

Information courtesy of AF Group. 

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President Overturns OSHA Ongoing Recordkeeping Rule

Posted on April 12, 2017

Overview

On April 3, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law House Joint Resolution 83 (H.J. Res. 83). This bill nullifies a recordkeeping final rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA issued this final rule to amend its recordkeeping regulations and clarify that an employer’s duty to create and maintain work-related injury or illness records is an ongoing obligation. The final rule did not create any additional or new recordkeeping obligations for employers.

The clarification explained that an employer remains under an obligation to record a qualifying injury or illness throughout the five-year record storage period, even if the incident was not originally recorded during the first six months after its occurrence.

This Compliance Bulletin contains information regarding the nullified final rule and clarifies which legal requirements no longer affect employers subject to OSHA recordkeeping rules.

Action Steps

The final rule is no longer valid. Therefore, employers are no longer required to comply with any of its provisions. Employers that were affected by the final rule should review their workplace injury and illness recordkeeping procedures and ensure that they are consistent with the nullification of this rule.

OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

OSHA requires employers to create and maintain records about workplace injuries and illnesses that meet one or more recording criteria. Specifically, employers must:

  • Create and update a log of work-related injuries and illnesses (OSHA Form 300);
  • Create and maintain injury and illness incident reports (OSHA Form 301); and
  • Create and display an annual summary of workplace incidents (OSHA Form 300A) between Feb. 1 and April 30 of each year.

Employers must keep these records for at least five years. The five-year retention period begins on Jan. 1 of the year following the year covered by the records. For example, the five-year retention period for incident reports created on Jan. 23, 2015, June 15, 2015, and Nov. 4, 2015, begins on Jan. 1, 2016.

Penalties for Noncompliance

OSHA has the authority to issue citations and assess fines against employers that violate recordkeeping laws. However, in general, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) does not allow for a citation to be issued more than six months after the occurrence of a violation.

OSHA is of the opinion that a violation exists until it is corrected. Therefore, according to OSHA, the six-month period to issue citations and assess penalties begins on the date of the last instance of the violation. For example, if a violation that started on Feb. 1 was corrected on May 15, the six-month period would begin on May 15, and OSHA would have until Nov. 15 to issue a citation.

OSHA also asserts that uncorrected violations are considered ongoing violations, and that each day of noncompliance is subject to a separate penalty.

The Final Rule

According to OSHA, adopting the final rule and amending its recordkeeping regulations was necessary because the previous regulations did not allow OSHA to enforce an employer’s incident recording obligation as an ongoing requirement. In fact, a federal circuit court has held that the former regulations did not authorize OSHA to “cite the employer for a record-making violation more than six months after the recording failure.” The court also noted that there is a discrepancy between the OSH Act and the regulations, and that while the OSH Act allows for continuing violations of recordkeeping requirements, the specific language in the regulations does not implement this statutory authority and does not create continuing recordkeeping obligations.

The federal court interpretation of the regulations meant that employers were no longer responsible for recording or storing workplace incidents if OSHA failed to detect and penalize employers for omitted recordable incidents within the six-month period. For this reason, OSHA issued its proposed amendments on July 29, 2015.

Impact on Employers

Because the final rule has been effectively repealed, employers are no longer required to comply with any of its provisions. This means that OSHA cannot enforce an employer’s recordkeeping obligation if the employer fails to record an incident within the first six months of when the incident took place. In practical terms, this means that OSHA will have to limit the scope of its recordkeeping investigations to the previous six months, rather than the previous five years.

However, because some OSHA records span entire calendar years, employers that fail to create injury and illness records in a timely fashion risk the possibility of keeping inaccurate records or reporting erroneous information to OSHA. Therefore, employers should not interpret this legislative development as an opportunity to bypass or contravene existing OSHA recordkeeping obligations.

This Compliance Bulletin is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.

© 2017 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Johanna Rundlett named a 2016 Wellmark Promise Award Winner

Posted on March 20, 2017

Johanna RundlettJohanna Rundlett has been named one of Iowa’s top agents by Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® as part of the company’s annual Promise Awards. The Promise Awards recognize Wellmark agents and agencies for their success during the past year as well as their dedication to serving the needs of Wellmark members.

Johanna is an agent at A W Welt Ambrisco in Iowa City. Johanna has been in the insurance industry for six years and enjoys spending time with friends and family, camping, and being outdoors.

“Wellmark agents are trusted advisors for our members,” said Sean McTaggart, Vice President Sales and Performance for Wellmark. “We are proud to honor Johanna for her hard work and commitment to integrity and excellence.”

This is Johanna’s second consecutive year winning Wellmark’s Promise Award.

Johanna can be reached at (319) 887-3772 or jrundlett@awwelt.com.

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March is National Ladder Safety Month

Posted on March 10, 2017

You need to use a ladder for some household jobs, such as cleaning the leaves out of your gutters or touching up the paint on your exterior trim. However, if you reach just a little too far, you may suddenly find yourself on the ground! A fall from a ladder can cause major injuries, some of which can be fatal.

 

LADDER SAFETY BASICS

Setup with Caution:

  • Make sure that you select the right ladder for the task you are doing by checking the length of the ladder and its duty rating.
  • If you are doing work near power lines, never use a metal ladder because they conduct electricity.
  • Before using a ladder, inspect it for damage to the rungs, spreaders and safety feet.
  • Do not place a ladder in front of a door that is not locked or guarded.
  • Place ladders on steady surfaces that are flat and firm.

Usage Warnings:

  • Do not be in a rush to finish a job, especially when working up high.
  • Make sure that the weight your ladder is supporting does not exceed the maximum load rating.
  • Do not allow more than one person on a ladder at a time.
  • Stay centered between the rails of a ladder at all times and do not lean too far to the sides when working.
  • Never step on the top step or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.
  • Come down from a ladder if you start to feel dizzy or tired.

Safety First

Kids are curious by nature and most are also fascinated by tools and gadgets. Do not leave a raised ladder unattended—a curious little one could come by, climb up and take a big tumble.

There are approximately 2,000 ladder injuries every day. Whether you use a ladder at work or at home, make sure to follow these tips to stay safe!

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AW Welt Ambrisco Named Leading Partner by EMC

Posted on March 03, 2017

Iowa City, IA, March 3, 2017 – AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance of Iowa City, Iowa has been named a Leading Partner by EMC Insurance Companies, which means the agency is one of the highest-performing EMC agencies in the country. This designation places the agency in the top 20 percent of all EMC agencies nationally.

The Leading Partner award is based on key indicators including retention, profitability and growth, which are reviewed over a three-year period.

EMC developed its signature Agency Performance Value (APV) tool in 2005 to measure an agency’s performance against all other EMC agencies nationally. Agencies are evaluated on loss ratio, premium volume, policy and premium growth, policy and premium retention, and the position of EMC within the agency.

About EMC

EMC Insurance Companies is among the top 50 insurance organizations in the country based on net written premium, with more than 2,300 employees. The company was organized in 1911 to write workers’ compensation protection in Iowa. Today, EMC provides property and casualty insurance products and services throughout the United States and writes reinsurance contracts worldwide. Operating under the trade name EMC Insurance Companies, Employers Mutual Casualty Company and one or more of its affiliated companies is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit www.emcins.com.

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What to Do After a Car Accident

Posted on February 22, 2017

BE PREPARED

Uh oh, you just got into a fender bender on your way to run a quick errand. What should you do now? Stay calm and read on to learn how to react to make sure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

HOW TO REACT AFTER A CRASH

  • Get out of your vehicle and provide assistance to anyone who is injured.
  • Call the police or highway patrol immediately.
  • Take photographs of your damaged vehicle and the scene. Note the date and time that the images were taken.
  • Protect the accident scene the best that you can and move your vehicle into a safe place.
  • Once the police arrive, give them as much information as you can about what occurred. Do not admit fault; simply give the facts.
  • Ask the investigating officer for a copy of the police report, as you may have to submit it with your insurance claim.
  • Take as many notes and write down as many details as you can remember about the accident, and then call A W Welt Ambrisco Insurance, Inc. to report your claim.
  • Keep all records of correspondence that you have regarding your claim, including the date, name and title of the person that you talked to about the accident.
  • Keep a record of any expenses that you incurred as a result of the accident. Depending on your policy, you may be entitled to reimbursement for those expenses.

GET THE FACTS

Sounds easy, but many people forget to do this after an accident for one reason or another. It is important to get the names, address and phone numbers of everyone involved. Also, gather a description of the car(s) and license plate number(s), and make sure to get the insurance company and the vehicle identification number of everyone involved when you’re at the scene of the accident.

BOTTOM LINE

Getting involved in a wreck can put a serious crimp in your day, not to mention the damage it can do to your wallet. The more prepared you are, the easier it is to handle the fallout from an unexpected accident.

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The IMT Group Names AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance 2017 Gem Agency 

Posted on January 27, 2017

IMT Group, a leading provider of personal and commercial insurance products in the Midwest, recently announced its list of 2017 Gem Agencies, distinguishing AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance as one of the qualifying recipients.

The IMT Group is proud to recognize AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance as one of the highest performing IMT and Wadena Insurance agencies in its six state territory (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). Of the approximately 980 IMT Group agencies eligible for consideration, only 86 of the top performing agencies received the Gem distinction this year.

Each year, The IMT Group awards the Gem distinction to only those agencies that demonstrate outstanding performance in the areas of rank, growth, loss ratio, and profitability. Last year, AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance was one of the Top 125 IMT Group agencies to produce a positive premium growth or policy count growth. In addition, AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance also sustained a favorable loss ratio.

The IMT Group is proud to have AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance represent IMT and Wadena Insurance Companies. It is the superior performance and unwavering commitment of Independent Insurance Agencies like AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance that enables IMT to continue to live up to their slogan, “Be Worry Free with IMT!

You may find more information on The IMT Group by visiting www.imtins.com.

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Prevent Frostbite this winter

Posted on January 13, 2017

This past month’s temperatures proved that it is in fact winter here in Iowa, and with freezing weather comes the need to increase your awareness about frostbite symptoms, treatment and prevention. Although everyone is susceptible to frostbite in cold climates, taking a few simple precautions can help you prevent frostbite, keeping you safe and healthy this winter season.

Symptoms:

  • Skin discoloration, along with burning and/or tingling sensations
  • Partial or complete numbness of the affected area
  • Intense pain

If frostbite goes untreated, the affected skin gradually darkens within a few hours, and once the skin is completely destroyed, it turns black and looks loose and frayed, as if it is burnt.

To reduce your risk of frostbite:

  • Protect your hands, feet, nose and ears by bundling up in warm, layered, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Go inside to warm up periodically, even if you do not feel extremely cold.
  • Do not drink alcohol before or during exposure to cold weather, because it may prevent you from realizing that your body has become too cold.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes, which can narrow your blood vessels and increase your risk of frostbite.
  • Get out of the cold when your skin appears red or if you experience any pain.

If you think that you have frostbite, move to a warm location and place your affected body part in warm water until it is soft and sensation has returned. Then, wrap the area in clean, sterile dressing and visit a doctor for follow-up care.

People who suffer frostbite on their extremities are also susceptible to hypothermia, a dangerous lowering of body temperature. Check for symptoms of hypothermia and treat them first before tending to frostbite injuries.

We hope you and your family stay safe and warm this winter season!

 

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Insurance Resolutions for 2017

Posted on December 29, 2016

The new year is upon us! You may have already figured out your personal resolutions for the new year, but we have a few more to add to the list. Our suggestions for your INSURANCE resolutions for 2017: (more…)

Happy Holidays from AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance!

Posted on December 22, 2016

Happy Holidays!

It’s hard to believe 2016 is nearly over! We have thoroughly enjoyed working with you in all your insurance and risk management needs this year and look forward to continuing our partnership in 2017. Our office will be closed Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 26 for all of us to spend our families. But, if you need to reach us, please call (319) 887-3700 to be directed to our after-hours service.

We hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend with your friends and family!

From,

All of us at AW Welt Ambrisco Insurance

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