June 2017

Trust Tips is a resource for members of the Trusts administered by the Florida League of Cities. Here you’ll find tips and other information from the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust, Florida Municipal Investment Trust, Florida Municipal Loan Council and Florida Municipal Pension Trust Fund

Click the hyperlinks above to contact an insurance or financial services representative directly.

  In this issue: 
  • Cut Costs and Increase Productivity with Early Return to Work Programs
  • Risk Control: Managing and Preventing Heat Stress
  • Auto Liability Claims Scenarios: Are You Negligent or Not?
  • Best Practices for Hiring the Best Person for the Job
  • MSRB Offers Course in Responsible Bond Issuing
  • Links for Further Reading
Cut Costs and Increase Productivity
with Early Return to Work Programs

Jay Goldrick
Workers' Compensation Claims Manager

According to a whitepaper released by the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, “Early Return to Work (ERTW) programs have become a popular way to cut costs while helping employees return to productivity.” The Florida Municipal Insurance Trust is a strong proponent of getting injured workers back on the job, and transitional duty assignments are a great way to facilitate that objective.

There are many benefits in implementing ERTW programs and the bottom line is that they typically save money over the long term. Some of the benefits we’ve seen by getting an employee back to work have included increased productivity, reduced claims costs that can affect an employer’s experience modifier, and an imparted sense of worth in letting the employee know that he or she is valued.

The links below provide insight into the impact of injuries, the benefits of these programs and what to consider when putting a plan together. 

The Effectiveness of Early Return to Work Porgrams

Risk Control:
Managing and Preventing Heat Stress

Robert Hees
Risk Control Consultant

It’s that time of year again. Temperatures are climbing into the 90s and humidity levels are rising. Heat stress is a n acute medical emergency that occurs during exposure to heat from an excessive rise in body temperature and failure of the body's temperature-regulating mechanisms. It is characterized by a sudden and sustained loss of consciousness preceded by vertigo, nausea, headache, cerebral dysfunction, bizarre behavior and high body temperatures and heat stress can be fatal if not treated properly.

The following is a breakdown of symptoms and preventive measures related to heat stress that may occur during these hot weather months. 

  • Heat Cramp - A heat-related illness characterized by spastic contractions of the voluntary muscles usually associated with restricted electrolyte intake and profuse sweating. 
  • Heat Exhaustion - An illness characterized by muscular weakness, distress, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, pale and/or clammy skin and fainting; usually associated with lack of heat acclimatization and physical fitness, low health status and inadequate water intake. 
  • Be as physically fit as possible. 
  • Replace fluids. It is imperative to replace the water lost by the body, as it is possible to lose 6-8 quarts or more of water-laden bodily fluids during a work shift in a hot environment. Progressive loss of fluids results in lower sweat production and can cause an increase in body temperature. The body's thirst mechanism is not sensitive enough to ensure sufficient water intake; therefore, every effort should be made to encourage all employees to drink plenty of water or low sodium, non-carbonated beverages. Cool water and/or electrolyte beverages should be made readily available.  
  • Be on alert for symptoms. Anyone experiencing some form of heat stress should take a break in the shade or in a cool environment and notify a supervisor immediately. 
Always remember: training is the key to a successful workplace.
For more information, please refer to OSHA's page on heat stress.
Auto Liability Claims Scenarios:
Negligent or Not?

Jessica Sheets
Property & Liability Claims Manager 

The question at the crux of any auto liability claim is, Which party is responsible? Many times the perception is that you, as the member, are. Your driver was cited by the police – doesn’t that mean he or she is automatically at fault? The answer is no, not always. Below are three scenarios where a great claims investigation made the difference.  

Scenario one: Our driver turned left at an intersection controlled by a regular traffic light, with two lanes in each direction, when he was struck on the passenger side by the other party who had the right of way. The police cited our driver for failure to yield. The fault is 100 percent on our driver, right?

What our investigation revealed: Our driver had nearly cleared both of the oncoming lanes of traffic when the accident occurred. The impact point was on the passenger side, rear quarter panel and bumper, which was nearly torn off. While the posted speed was 45 mph, skid marks left at the scene indicated that the claimant was traveling in excess of 60 mph prior to impact and did not swerve to avoid the accident. In her statement, the other party said that she was running late for work that morning and would be fired if she wasn't on time. She was on her cell phone when she got out of the car, post-accident. 

Our decision: We applied comparative negligence to this claim: 25 percent on our driver and 75 percent on the claimant. While our driver did ultimately fail to yield, he believed he had reasonable time to safely execute his turn and actually did have care, custody and control of the intersection when the impact occurred. If not for the claimant exceeding the speed limit and failing in her duty to avoid an accident (by being on her phone, distracted and not swerving to avoid hitting our vehicle or braking), the accident would not have happened.     

As for our driver’s citation and the police reports: They are part of any good investigation, but are not the sole determining factors. In fact, with certain very limited exceptions, citations and police reports are not admissible as evidence in court.

Click here for scenarios two and three.

These are, of course, unique claims scenarios and not ones that we see every day; however, it helps underscore that things are not always as they may seem in an auto accident scenario and the power of good claims investigations.   

Best Practices: Hiring the Best Person for the Job 

Patti Graganella
Chief Administrative Officer

Hiring the right people fuels success in any organization. Studies show that effective hiring practices enhance financial performance, productivity, quality customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and employee retention. This all sounds great, but how do you go about accomplishing this? Take these five steps to find the next superstar for your organization.

1. Recruitment. It is so important to understand what sources to use to recruit your employment base. Many organizations use internet advertising (e.g., Career Builder, Monster), newspaper advertising, retained agency searches (i.e. headhunters), affiliate group posting (e.g., a finance officers association or insurance association), a temporary agency or employee referrals. With Florida unemployment at 4.9 percent, it is getting harder to find good people, so your employee retention is very important. Your human resource professional should have a mechanism in place to track where most qualified candidates are coming from. Focus should be placed on these resources.

2. Screening Process. A human resource professional may receive hundreds of resumes and applications for one position opening. A growing trend in many organizations (almost 40 percent) is to obtain an automated resume screening program where a certain word or phrase is plugged in and it automatically pulls all resumes with those parameters. Some organizations prefer to manually screen all applicants. That way, there is a personal connection to the candidates. These options are both acceptable and the decision to use one is the preference of the organization.

3. Interview Process. You have heard the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is so true. The interview process is very important and special care should be taken in getting to know the candidate as much as possible. Behavior-based questions, skill assessment and determining a cultural fit are essential when conducting interviews. Organizations have a limited amount of time to get a good feel for the candidate before moving to the next phase of the hiring process.

4. References and Background Checks. This is the principal means of securing information on potential hires from sources other than the applicant themselves. When conducting reference checks, usually former employers, supervisors, co-workers, educators, vendors and the like are contacted. It is recommended that the person conducting the reference check ask questions pertaining to job skills as well as temperament and cooperation within an organization. Background checks such as criminal history, credit history, motor vehicle violations, verification of education and work history are also used when evaluating a candidate. On the job application, there should be a section where the candidate authorizes your human resources department to conduct these checks. There is a growing trend for organizations (approximately 43 percent in 2015) to investigate social media when evaluating a candidate. This can be a slippery slope and a human resources professional should beware of the legality regarding religious affiliation, sexual orientation, national origin or marital status.

5. Make the Offer. When all the proper steps are taken and both human resources and the management team agree on the candidate, it is then time to make the formal offer of employment. Usually a phone call is made to extend the offer, followed up by a formal letter outlining the specifics of the job.

While these steps may seem time-consuming, a lack of due diligence in the hiring process may lead to a decision that is detrimental to your city and its current employees, and be very costly in the long run.
MSRB Offers Free Course
for Responsible Municipal Bond Issuance 

To support the educational needs of municipal government professionals who finance public projects with municipal bonds, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) now provides a complimentary online course specifically designed for these professionals. "Being an Informed Municipal Bond Issuer" provides engaging lessons to highlight best practices and potential pitfalls in the municipal bond issuance process. Read more. 
Did You Know...

The FMIT provides local governments with with a complete employee health benefits package, including medical, dental, vision, life, disability and more?  Read more.

Through a partnership with Littler Mendelson, the largest law firm in the U.S. specializing in HR/employment practices law, the FMIT offers its members no-cost live and online access to Littler's legal experts? Read more.