Important ResponseTips after an Accident

Very few people are prepared to face a traffic accident; however, many people will be involved in one at some point during their lives. While some are minor, others are severe and require appropriate action. Even the most careful drivers may experience an accident due to the poor driving skills of others. The best way to be prepared is to know how to respond at the scene. People who know what to do can save lives. In addition to this, preparedness makes the claims process simpler. If an accident happens, take the following steps:

– Stop the car immediately, and check to see if anyone involved is injured. Do not move any injured individuals.

– Call the highway patrol or police immediately. Be sure to tell them how many people are involved, how many people are hurt and what types of injuries have been noted. The police will then notify an emergency response team.

– Find a blanket, sweater or anything available to cover injured people with. It is very important to try to keep them warm.

– Set up flares or other bright objects around the scene of the accident. This is especially important at night, and the objects will help other motorists steer clear of the scene.

– When an involved vehicle is parked in the middle of the road, pull it to the shoulder. If possible, it is important to avoid congesting the road.

– Ask the responding law enforcement officer where to obtain a police report copy. As a rule, it is beneficial to have one before submitting an insurance claim.

– If necessary, call a towing company to pick up the damaged vehicle. Avoid giving permission for repair work. The insurance adjuster will need to see the vehicle and assess it prior to the repair process.

When the accident occurs, it is important to obtain some information from the other drivers and passengers involved in the accident. If they are upset, try to calm them down. Write down the following bits of information:

– Names and addresses of every driver or passenger involved.
– Names and addresses of all witnesses at the scene.
– The make and model of every car involved.
– Insurance identification information for each party.
– License plate numbers of each car involved.
– Drivers license numbers of each individual.

Not all other parties may be willing to cooperate. If they do not have insurance, they may try to offer a settlement at the scene of the accident. They may also prefer not to involve the police or highway patrol. Since there are many things that could go wrong in such a scenario, always notify law enforcement immediately. Be sure to write down the law enforcement officer’s badge number and name. If any emergency personnel are involved, write down their names. After an accident, always contact a personal insurance agent.

In some cases, people hit an unattended vehicle. It may be impossible to find the owner or wait for that individual to return. In such a case, the person who hit the vehicle should leave a note with their name, address and phone number. Write down the details of the accident, and call an insurance agent immediately. 

Understanding Enterprise Risk Management as an Approach to Manage and Capitalize on Risks

The concept of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) has received increased attention in recent years as a fundamental shift in the way companies approach risk.  ERM is an all-encompassing approach to risk management and this can often make implementing ERM seem overwhelming.   To make the process more palatable, the Commission of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), a voluntary private-sector financial reporting organization, has released the first ERM framework.

When compared to the traditional approach of addressing risks associated with accidental losses, ERM has a holistic approach that covers both insurable and traditionally non-insurable risks including financial, operations, strategic and other risks.  The process applies to managing risk and also capitalizing on it for growth.  Proponents say that ERM may improve capital efficiencies in that it provides an objective measure for allocating resources. 

Sometimes called business risk management or strategic risk management, this systematic approach is attractive in that it ensures uniform risk identification and treatment throughout an organization.   ERM is inherently collaborative and requires a risk team including accounting, marketing, research and development, treasury and operations management. 

Released in September 2004, COSO’s Enterprise Risk Management – Integrated Framework describes the essential components, principals and concepts of ERM for organizations of all sizes.  It establishes a uniform language for identifying risks, avoiding pitfalls and seizing opportunities for growing shareholder value. 

Eight interrelated components outlined in the Framework are:

– Internal Environment – Establishes the entity’s risk culture by establishing a philosophy regarding risk management.

– Objective Setting – Involves setting objectives and forming a risk strategy.  This step forms the risk appetite of an organization, how much risk management and the board members are willing to accept.  Aligned with risk appetite is risk tolerance, the acceptable level of variation around objectives.

– Event Identification – Differentiates risks and opportunities by identifying events, occurring internally and externally, that may have a negative impact and those that may have a positive impact.

– Risk Assessment – Assesses the likelihood and impact that potential events could have on objectives.  Involves qualitative and quantitative risk assessment methodologies. 

– Risk Response – Identifies and evaluates possible responses to risk.

– Control Activities – Lays out policies and procedures at all organizational levels and in all functions, which help ensure that risk responses are carried out.

– Information and Communication – A form and timeframe to broadly communicate pertinent information enabling the risk management team to fulfill their responsibilities.

– Monitoring – Ongoing monitoring activities as well as specific planned evaluations determine the effectiveness of an organization’s ERM.

The Framework also defines the roles and responsibilities of key ERM team members including management, board of directors, risk offices and internal auditors.  For more information about the Framework and to order print or electronic copies, visit

Insurance Implications For Green Construction

One of the most popular types of construction in the United States is green construction. This eco-friendly technique gained popularity because of rising energy costs, global climate change and the United States’ dependence on foreign energy providers. People all over the country are taking steps to reduce the carbon footprints their homes and business spaces leave. However, this type of construction has very important insurance implications, which all consumers should be aware of.

Buildings that are considered green have met several requirements for LEED, which is a certification formally known as Leadership in Energy and Development. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in the late 1990s. It was designed to help building owners identify and use construction, maintenance, operations and measurable designs that are better for the environment. In comparison with standard structures, green buildings use water and energy more efficiently. They also have healthier indoor environments and produce less carbon dioxide.

Several municipalities and states have adopted special building codes that require green construction elements. Stricter water efficiency standards have been enacted in California for new residential structures. Tighter energy use standards are under consideration in New York City. Green building requirements have had a major impact on construction costs, which vary by location. Although green construction demands special procedures and materials, contractors who are up to speed with these requirements are hard to find. This means that the cost of complying with such requirements may be considerably higher than the cost of using standard methods and materials. This cost issue will also affect insurance coverage.

These factors influence insurance claims:

– What is defined as a major renovation by the code, and what percentage of the building’s area is affected.

– Whether qualified contractors are available in the area.

– Whether green building codes apply to renovations or only new construction projects.

– How new materials will work with existing components, and whether integrating them will increase the cost and time required for rebuilding.

– How the use of green materials will affect the appearance of the building.

– Delays for obtaining special materials and contractors.

– The likelihood of longer wait times for special contractors after a catastrophe happens.

– The likelihood of waiting for special building inspections and approvals after a catastrophe happens.

– How the building code applies if a natural disaster occurs.

– What standards property owners must meet following a widespread disaster.

Within the next few years, experts predict that the market for non-residential green construction will grow substantially. This means that insurance companies and property owners will have to address serious questions, and the best time to get answers is before losses occur. Commercial and standard property insurance policies offer very little coverage for ordinance or law losses. These are extra expenses incurred to comply with special requirements. However, additional coverage is available. People who own properties in areas where green building codes exist should discuss these options with an agent.

On-line Insurance as Opposed to an Insurance Agency: What’s the Difference?

Just as one may use a CPA to prepare their income taxes or an attorney to help them with their estate planning, many choose to use an insurance agency to write their insurance policies. This choice is mainly made because a person feels they need professional advice during the process. Of course, everyone will have different needs and circumstances surrounding their purchase, and this is why an insurance professional’s advice can be an invaluable asset.

If you’re debating buying insurance on-line versus through insurance agency, then you should ask yourself a couple of questions:

* Do I know for certain what specific coverage(s) I need?
* Do I know all the questions I should be asking before making an insurance purchase?
* Will the on-line purchase truly result in both time and money savings?
* Can I obtain all my insurance policies through a single on-line insurance provider?
* Can I call the on-line insurance provider and receive insurance advice when needed?
* Is the personal information I’ll be providing kept secure?

You want to know exactly what coverage you need and that the insurance you’re purchasing meets those needs adequately. Insurance can vary greatly from state to state, meaning that it’s equally important for your insurance source to be knowledgeable. You certainly don’t want to purchase an insurance policy and discover down the road that it doesn’t protect you during a claim. Making an insurance purchase with an on-line company that fails to connect professional insurance advice to your personal insurance needs can leave you at risk of being without the coverage you need. You shouldn’t be the only one taking time to ask questions. The on-line insurance company must ask you questions in order to ensure they’re recommending the appropriate coverage(s).

One of the best ways to determine if you’re really saving money by purchasing your insurance on-line is to get a quote of your policy on-line. Do keep in mind that most on-line companies don’t offer multi-policy discounts, such as for home and auto. This is because most offer homeowner’s insurance through a different company, if at all. On the other hand, an insurance agency typically allows you to select coverage from several different insurance companies and can help you determine which company will offer you the most favorable rates for your particular risk type. Another consideration is that insurance agencies typically have a much more stringent screening process in relation to these insurance companies.

Unlike insurance agencies, many on-line companies will either not have the services that you need readily available or have a system that you must sign into and learn to navigate before being able to obtain what you need. One such example would be obtaining insurance documents, such as a certificate of insurance. Let’s say you’re using your vehicle to take your child and some of his/her classmates on a field trip. You learn the day of the trip that you must have evidence of your insurance before going. If you use an insurance agency, the documented can be faxed or emailed to the school or your smart phone with a quick and simple call. A second example would be how an insurance agency can help you meet some very challenging needs associated with needing a hard to place insurance policy. Despite the trend for on-line shopping, insurance agencies continue to thrive because of the solid reputations they build from customer satisfaction.

Insurance is often required – auto insurance by your employer, homeowner’s insurance by your mortgage lender, or even coverage(s) an owner of a space you’re trying to rent for a professional or personal function may require of you. Such requirements can often be like trying to understand the tax code. If you use an insurance agency, then you can email or fax any insurance requirements to your insurance agent for quick and efficient resolution.

Carefully consider how you go about purchasing your insurance. Surprises are the last things you want when it comes to the vital protection of insurance. If you have any uncertainty about what you’re really getting with on-line insurance, then you might want to rethink your decision. If you’d like to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach of on-line insurance and receive the knowledge and expertise of an insurance agent, then you may consider opting for a professional, independent agent to prepare your insurance policy.

Talking on the Phone While Driving Could Cost More Than You Realize

Americans can’t be parted from their cell phones, especially when they are driving.  A recent survey conducted by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that approximately 10 percent of drivers on the road are talking on their cell phones when behind the wheel.  This is a 25 percent increase from 2004’s levels.  Sixty percent of those drivers are using handheld phones, up from 50% last year.  Clearly the cell phone has gone from emergency aid to chic accessory.

Even though talking on the cell phone while driving may be de rigueur for the fashion forward, many state governments do not feel the same way.  Although there is no federal law limiting cell phone use while driving, many states have passed their own legislation.  For example, some states have banned the use of handheld devices while driving, but allow the use of hands-free devices.  Other states have chosen to put restrictions on driver classifications, such as bus drivers or under 30 drivers, rather than create a general ban on cell phone use.

The frenzy surrounding cell phone use while driving stems from studies which indicate that drivers who talk on the phone are more likely to cause accidents.  One recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that both handheld and hands-free phones increased the risk of a crash.  The test group included 456 participants who used a cell phone and were treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in crashes from April 2002 to July 2004.  By using phone records and interviews, the Institute calculated the increased risk of a crash by comparing phone use during the 10 minutes prior to a participant’s crash, along with their phone use during the previous week.

The increased risk stems from a situation that was dubbed “inattention blindness,” by researchers David Strayer, Frank Drews and William Johnston in a 2003 study conducted at the University of Utah.  They discovered that talking on cell phones while driving diverts the driver’s attention from their visual environment, making them unable to recognize objects encountered in their visual field.  One would think that using a hands-free phone would be less distracting, thus not increasing the risk of inattention blindness as much as using a hand-held phone.  But, the researches found that either phone type increases the risk of accident.  Why?  Well, current hands-free phones aren’t really hands-free.  Only cell phones that are fully voice activated may be less likely to increase the risk of inattention blindness.  However, further studies will need to be conducted to determine if that is true.

Meanwhile, when you are using your cell phone while operating your car, keep this in mind.  In October 2004, a Virginia jury ordered Jane Wagner, a former lawyer, who was accused of driving and talking on her cell phone when she struck and killed a teenager, to pay the victim’s family $2 million.  Wagner served one year in jail after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident.  Upon conviction, she also forfeited her license to practice law.

Why Wealthy Families Need More Insurance

Although many people assume America’s wealthiest families have nothing to worry about, they do have to worry about being targets of significant liability lawsuits. The high unemployment rates and unsteady economy have contributed greatly to these realistic fears. Unfortunately, many wealthy families do not have ample protection against such lawsuits. They also underestimate the cost of potential damages and how affordable protection is in comparison with those damages.

A recent study performed by ACE Private Risk Services found that half of the people interviewed thought the worst lawsuit they could possibly face would be less than $5 million. However, the grim reality is that lawsuit awards for serious injuries are often much higher than that amount. The individuals interviewed in the study belonged to households with more than $5 million in assets. ACE’s study sought to uncover the threat perceptions of these wealthy families. With the nation’s discourse over wealth disparity, the findings show that rich families feel they are increasingly targeted for lawsuits. Approximately 80 percent of wealthy individuals feel their money puts them at a higher risk. More than 65 percent of the individuals interviewed felt that the nation’s view of the wealthy has become more negative since 2008. In addition to this, almost 40 percent feel they are more likely to face lawsuits during the next several years.

Since some wealthy families underestimate all types of liabilities, they are more likely to carry insufficient insurance policies. This is true with homeowners coverage, auto insurance and several other types of coverage. More than 40 percent of the survey participants reported carrying under $5 million in umbrella liability coverage. In addition to this, more than 20 percent said they did not have an umbrella policy at all. For those who are not familiar with this type of insurance, it is a crucial component of personal coverage. In the event an incident consumes the maximum amount allowed by an individual policy, the umbrella policy provides extra coverage. How much additional coverage it provides depends on what type of policy is purchased. Wealthier individuals should have umbrella policies that are significant enough to protect their assets. Keep in mind that auto or homeowners policies rarely exceed $500,000 alone. There are several companies specializing in umbrella policies for wealthy families whose net worth is beyond $1 million. These companies offer policies covering between $1 million and $100 million. Premiums for such policies are higher than average, but choosing a larger deductible brings lower premium amounts.

Selecting a plan with a higher deductible and paying for small losses is a responsible choice. Wealthy families must understand where their lawsuit risks are coming from. The survey shows that more than 50 percent of these families have employees. Gardeners, housekeepers and nannies are all staff members who could become disgruntled enough to file a lawsuit. In many cases, the allegations may not even be true. Sexual harassment, wrongful employment practices, wrongful termination and discrimination are common allegations in such lawsuits. Wealthy individuals who serve as trustees of charitable organizations must also consider the organization’s directors and officers coverage, which may not be significant enough for individual protection. Auto accidents, dog bites, character defamation and slander are also common lawsuit sources. The risks are evolving constantly, and it is crucial to be properly prepared. To determine if individual coverage needs changes or additions, discuss these options with an agent today.

Environmentally Friendly Insurance for Small Business

If you’ve ever considered owning a small business, or are considering owning one, you’ve probably heard all the usual advice.  Make sure you have enough capital.  Only let family run the cash register.  Don’t take in a partner without an ironclad contract.   Location, location, location.

What you may not have heard is this one: Be careful you don’t get nailed with hazardous waste remediation and lose your shirt.

How could that happen?  You’re not opening a nuclear reactor, just an ice cream shop.

Aha!  What if the site you select for your ice cream shop ends up being in a district where the water is found to contain too many parts per million of some noxious substance or another and you have to close down or move?  Or worse, be permitted to stay, but be required by local government to hang a sign at the order window telling customers they drink your sodas at their own risk?  It has happened to a shop in the town of Finksburg, Maryland. Fortunately, the local population isn’t too concerned about that stuff in the water, and the owner didn’t have to close up shop, risking his investment and his livelihood.  But he without a doubt lost business. 

That was a mild case of the ‘environmental flu.’  Others can be much worse.

Fortunately, there is insurance for that sort of thing, and having it might even help you get financing for your new venture. Originally meant for big business, ones that might easily buy a 40-acre site that was a pharmaceutical waste dump in the 1950s and is now in need of expensive remediation, secured creditor environmental insurance now comes in sizes to fit most businesses, large and small.

These policies protect both the business owner and the business owner’s lender in the event that contamination of the business site is found and must be cleaned up.  The insurance takes care of the cost of remediation, or the loan if the owner must default because of the cost of remediation.  And it also covers liability claims, including bodily injury.  Note:  These policies cover only claims based in environmental laws in effect at the time the policy was written, not claims based on later regulation and legislation.

In effect, secured creditor environmental insurance acts much like title insurance. 

Title insurance includes an investigation of the real estate to make certain all previous deed transfers, survey and so on were correct.  If the investigation failed to find something that later becomes a problem, the title insurance takes care of it. 

Secured creditor environmental insurance policies also require an investigation into the prior uses of the land.  If a problem is later discovered, but the investigation was conducted with due diligence, then the insurance pays for the cleanup. In all cases, the policies won’t pay off if information that results in claims has been withheld.

Unlike title insurance, secured creditor environmental insurance companies also want to know what the intended future use of the site will be. 

You want to open an ice cream store?  You’d probably have no problem.  The Finksburg case is actually unusual.

Dry cleaner?  Sure, although your deductible will be fairly high, in the $1,750 range. Note, too, that managers of strip malls, where most dry cleaners are located, are beginning to require dry cleaning shop owners to have some sort of pollution liability insurance.  Cleaning up a spill at a dry cleaning store costs about $50,000 on average; the deductible will be somewhere around $10,000.

Nuclear reactor?  Get real.

Start a Safety Committee to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Safety Program

If employees don’t feel involved and represented in their company’s safety program, it is unlikely the program will be successful.  A workplace safety committee is a tool that, if created and conducted properly, can increase the effectiveness of a safety program by:

  • Providing structure and assigning responsibility for carrying out a workplace safety program;
  • Enhancing a cooperative attitude and bringing together strong interaction among various areas of an organization;
  • Serving as a communication vehicle for employees to voice safety concerns;
  • Serving as a tool for employers to promote safety to employees; and
  • Spreading the responsibility of the safety program among employees.

A safety committee will only be successful, however, if it is carefully created with structure and support.  As with any safety initiative, it is imperative that management be visibly and actively involved.  Members should serve on the committee and attend regular meetings.   Other committee members should be chosen for their enthusiasm, potential expertise and communication skills.  The committee should include representatives from all the various departments but not become so large that it becomes cumbersome and ineffective.

To ensure that the committee doesn’t become a place for employees just to voice complaints, the committee’s goals should be clear from the start.  Its primary role is always to promote and ensure the success of a company’s safety program.  

The specific responsibilities of the safety committee may include:

  • Develop strategic safety goals and annual action items;
  • Participate in development, monitoring and updating of safety program and possible safety incentives;
  • Hold monthly safety meetings;
  • Hold regular workplace safety inspections and help identify workplace hazards;
  • Participate in accident/incident investigations;
  • Ensure maintenance of injury and work hazard records;
  • Perform review of illness and injury records;
  • Organize regular safety training programs;
  • Consult with outside experts when necessary;
  • Address employee complaints and suggestions regarding safety issues;
  • Make safety recommendations to management; and
  • Communicate with employees and management about safety issues and goals.

Every group needs a leader and a safety committee is no exception.  A workplace safety coordinator should be assigned to head the group.  For many companies this will not be a separate position but rather an added role to an individual’s existing position.  The coordinator is responsible for leading the committee, scheduling and heading safety meetings, serving as a point-of-contact with outside agencies and retaining safety records and documents.  Safety meetings should be well documented and the records should be retained for at least a couple years.   Many safety committees prepare an annual report to overview the safety trends within the organization, advertise their results, and identify outstanding safety issues. 

For companies beginning a new safety committee, the following first meeting agenda is a good starting point:

  • Establish the role and purpose of the committee;
  • Discuss the commitment required from each member;
  • Develop an agenda for what the committee hopes to achieve, both long and short term;
  • Assign action items to the members of the committee; and

Take meeting notes and post the minutes as well as committee goals and action items.

Five Tips to Keep Your Most Precious Cargo Safe on a Summer Road Trip

As the warmer summer months arrive, many families blow the dust off their suitcases and hit the road for a much-needed vacation. Of course, you should go through the normal checklist for your vehicle, such as checking your oil levels and air in your tires. But, for those traveling with babies and children, there may be some additional precautions to take before heading out on vacation.

Most parents are accustomed to the usual disturbances and distractions caused by children crying, spilling snacks, and fighting with their siblings in the backseat. Such incidents may be unavoidable, especially during lengthy road trips that test a child’s ability to sit still. However, there are a few tips to help you keep your focus on the road and ensure your family safely arrives at the destination. Add the following to your pre-takeoff checklist:

1. Check all child seats in the vehicle.

Even if you feel certain that your child’s safety or booster seat has been properly installed, double check it. You might have unknowingly made a mistake during the installation or after quickly moving it from one vehicle to another. According to the National Safety Belt Coalition, incorrectly installed car seats and misuse are responsible for the serious injuries and deaths of children in car accidents everyday. You may even consider taking your vehicle to an expert that can show you the correct way to use and install a booster or child safety seat. You can find a listing of certified child passenger safety technicians in your area at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website.

2. Invest in a child safety mirror.

Such mirrors have become popular with parents that find themselves frequently traveling with their children. Most of these special mirrors are inexpensive. They are also easy to install; you just attach it to your rear view mirror. Now, you can occasionally see what your children are doing in the backseat without actually turning around and taking your eyes off the road. Your children will be less likely to get into mischief when they see that your mirror is essentially like having eyes in the back of your head.

For smaller children and infants in rear-facing car seats, you can use an infant mirror that attaches to the back seat’s headrest or rear window. It will be positioned so that you can see the baby when you look into your rear view mirror. Plus, your baby may be less fussy along the trip if he’s preoccupied with the entertainment of his/her own reflection.

3. Get some road trip entertainment for the kids.

Any parent knows that a bored child is typically much more likely to act up and get into trouble. This is a distraction that can be alleviated by packing your kids some new, fun activities to keep them entertained and out of trouble. Think about what your child may enjoy – books, games, puzzles, coloring books, a travel diary, movies, video games, and so forth. If your vehicle doesn’t have a DVD player, you may consider purchasing a portable one.

4. Give the kids frequent breaks.

Whether it be at a restaurant, rest stop, park, or even a local attraction, try to stop every two or three hours for a break. Pit stops may extend your overall travel time, but letting your kids burn off some energy and stretch their legs will be well worth it during long road trips.

5. Reassess your insurance needs and coverage.

About two weeks before your travel date, assess your auto insurance policy to make sure it’s congruent with your needs and offers sufficient financial protection. Most parents, especially new ones, don’t think about reviewing their auto insurance plan before they head out on vacation with a child in the backseat. However, raising a child is a huge financial responsibility that could prompt an increase to property damage or liability coverage.

6 Helpful Tips for Preventing Theft & Fraud in the Workplace

Sharing confidential company information, stealing equipment and manipulating data are all serious offenses in the workplace. Employee fraud and theft rates have increased in the past decade. These crimes now equal an average of five percent of a company’s annual revenue. The following tips help prevent fraud and theft in the workplace.

1. Check references thoroughly. Many employers avoid checking candidates’ references. They often make the mistake of assuming that a candidate would not put a reference on the list if that contact would not give a glowing report. However, many candidates provide erroneous phone numbers for personal references. In addition to this, previous employers may reveal important information about that worker’s history and tendency for fraud or theft.

2. Conduct pre-employment background checks. This is an important step for any employer to take. However, it is especially important for employers hiring people who will handle cash or have access to sensitive financial information. Keep in mind that there are only certain pieces of information that can be used in hiring decisions. Since each state’s laws vary regarding the use of criminal history information use, be sure to contact the local EEOC for specific laws and guidelines.

3. Use audits when necessary. Auditing can create suspicion and mistrust among employees, but it may be essential for detecting fraud and theft. When employees know they are being monitored, they are less likely to take such risky steps. Keep in mind that criminals take advantage of weak controls, so audits are a good way to close those gaps. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers helpful tips for areas of the business to monitor and how often to audit various areas.

4. Develop a code of conduct. Telling employees not to do certain things will not ensure obedience. However, a written code of conduct establishes guidelines and gives employees a better idea of the company’s principles. After it is written, this document should be signed by all new and existing employees. There are plenty of great free templates available online. Keep in mind that it is important to include policies specifying company data protection. Be sure to go over the code of conduct during orientation sessions for new employees. It is also important to review the code each year. Some items may change. For example, a company may develop connections with new agencies or businesses, and specific conduct codes may be needed to guide employees in dealing with specific companies.

5. Take management seriously. Creating and communicating a business climate is one of the best ways to prevent fraud or theft in the workplace. This also shows employees that these issues are of the utmost importance. The following steps are easy and help keep employers informed:

-Make sure employees know they can speak freely with employers any time to discuss concerns or report violations.
-Reconcile statements regularly to detect fraudulent activity.
-Implement strong internal controls.
-Always trust individual instincts.
-Offer help to employees when they face difficult times or stressful situations.
-Conduct frequent one-on-one reviews with employees.
-Investigate unusual transactions.
-Make employee vacations mandatory.

6. Know what to look for. Research shows that workplace criminals commit crimes because they feel unappreciated, are under pressure or feel that management practices are unfair. They usually feel that they are owed something for these misinterpreted offenses. With that thought in mind, look for the following red flags:

-Unexpected changes in behavior.
-Employees who prefer to work after hours, take work home or be unsupervised.
-Workers who are exclusive or very protective of their work spaces.
-Employees who refuse to take vacations.
-Financial records disappearing frequently.
-Unexplained debts showing up on financial statements.

An employee who appears to be very dedicated to work may be an honest worker, but some individuals who seem this way have their own reasons for their behavior. Many financial violations show up while an employee is on vacation. Workers using a suspicious individual’s work space may discover incriminating evidence. Employees who take work home or want to work after hours may simply want privacy to perform their dishonest deeds. Diligence and careful monitoring are the keys to preventing workplace fraud and theft.