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INSURANCE TOOLS FOR THE HANDYMAN AND SMALL BUSINESS CONTRACTOR

 



Handyman Monthly Auto Insurance without a Down Payment

Apr. 15th 2012

 

Vehicle coverage is necessary for many motorists, but purchasing an affordable policy may require some research. Making auto insurance installments can make it easier to pay for an expensive plan, and finding an insurer willing to provide coverage with no down payment can also lead to additional savings. One of the best ways to find one of these affordable options is to shop around online and make comparisons.

Individual coverage providers typically offer unique rates and different payment methods. Online comparisons can produce dozens of estimates and options for vehicle owners in need of adequately priced coverage. It is important for motorists to remember, however, that buying car insurance with no down payment still typically means that the policyholder must pay for their first month’s coverage upon signing.

One of the advantages to paying for vehicle coverage in installments is that the overall cost of the policy is spread out over the course of several months. This can help motorists better afford plans that include adequate levels of protection. However, payments are often accompanied by billing fees that can sometimes be as high as $10 a month. Although these additional costs are a seemingly small, there is the possibility that this extra amount can add up over time.

Options and Alternatives to Monthly Car Insurance Payments

Paying for vehicle coverage with monthly installments may increase a motorist’s potential to miss a payment. Unlike many other services, if a vehicle owner makes a late auto insurance payment, their policy may be canceled, and the motorist in question may experience a lapse in coverage. In some states, this lapse may be met with potential fines or other legal consequences. For example, in Missouri Uninsured Motorists could have their driving privileges suspended and be fined up to $300 for the first offense.

It is important for vehicle owners to contact several insurers before making a purchase to learn about alternative payment methods that may reduce these risks. Several companies may offer online services that allow installments to be automatically deducted from a predetermined account. These options are also frequently accompanied by discounts that can help reduce rates.

To avoid a possible lapse in coverage, motorists may want to consider an installment plan that requires payments every three or six months. These alternative options can also reduce the number of billing fees that a driver must pay, and consequently, reduce the overall price of a plan. Before making a purchase, vehicle owners are encouraged to take advantage of online resources and research as many options as possible.

 

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Handyman Proof of Texas Automobile Insurance

Apr. 13th 2012

 

To decrease the number of uninsured motorists in the Lone Star State, local officials and State Legislatures have created a system designed to ensure that vehicle owners can demonstrate financial responsibility after an accident. Drivers must adhere to strict coverage requirements and maintain adequate proof of insurance at all times while an automobile is registered in Texas. Consequently, driving while uninsured can net an offending motorist a number of fines and other penalties. One of the best ways to affordably meet these coverage requirements is to buy sufficient auto protection after gathering insurance quotes in Texas from online sources.

To meet state financial responsibility requirements, the majority of vehicle owners in the Lone Star State buy vehicle coverage that includes bodily injury and property damage liability with limits of at least 30/60/25. When purchasing auto protection from an insurer licensed to sell coverage in TX, motorists should obtain proof of insurance that should be kept within the insured vehicle at all times. These cards generally include the names of those insured, the name of the insurer, the policy number, company contact information, vehicle identification number, details about the automobile, and the policy effective dates. A motorist who operates an automobile without adequate proof may be convicted of driving while uninsured.

Cheap Proof of auto insurance in Texas

To assist local officials in spotting uninsured motorists and improve financial responsibility throughout the Lone Star State, Texas Legislature mandated the TexasSure program. This system was developed by the TX Department of Information Resources, Department of Public Safety, Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Department of Insurance as a way of electronically tracking whether or not a motorist is adequately insured. TexasSure gives law enforcement officers and other approved users to ability to immediately verify a vehicle owners coverage status.

For Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility in Texas, a vehicle owner may be susceptible to an annual surcharge of $250.00 for three years, with multiple convictions potentially resulting in multiple surcharges. Additionally, motorists may have their driver’s licenses and vehicle registration suspended unless the vehicle owner can maintain adequate coverage. Residents can avoid many of these consequences by buying a policy that meets state requirements.

To meet state financial responsibility requirements and obtain sufficient proof of insurance at an adequate price, residents are encouraged to shop around and compare as many quotes as possible. Similar to other products, the cost of vehicle coverage can fluctuate for many different reasons. Comparing options can often lead to lower rates. To efficiently shop around, drivers should complete on online search, where dozens of estimates can be viewed at once.

 

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Handyman Compare Top Rated Car Insurance Companies

Apr. 11th 2012

 

When it comes time for vehicle owners to purchase car insurance, they usually have many different options. There are countless insurers for motorists to choose from, and each one is likely to provide unique rates, services, and quality. When picking a coverage provider, motorists should thoroughly research their options, compare pricing information, and rate potential insurers based on their financial stability and attention to customer service.

Price is important for many motorists, and individual insurers typically employ different methods for rating vehicle owners. Often top rated auto insurance companies can provide adequate coverage at a reasonable price. Motorists can efficiently compare sample rates by using online resources. As opposed to contacting several insurers individually, shopping on the Internet can provide drivers with dozens of quotes at once.

The rates that are quoted by an insurer can fluctuate significantly after discounts are applied. Coverage providers frequently offer special savings for a number of reasons, and motorists can often cut costs by searching for applicable discounts while comparing quotes. Apart from policy price, however, it is also important for vehicle owners to consider the quality of services they will be receiving, as well as the financial stability of any potential insurers. Luckily, much of this information is also readily available online.

Shop for the Best Rated auto insurance Companies

When a motorist purchases vehicle coverage, they often remain with the same insurer for several years. In that time, a policyholder may have to file multiple claims, adjust their coverage, or relay several important questions. It is essential that an insurer is readily available, helpful, and quick to handle claims after an accident. Often quality services can be well worth a higher premium.

To investigate an insurer’s attentiveness to customer services, motorists may want to contact a company directly and speak with a customer services representative. Additionally, many vehicle owners have the option of exploring consumer Complaint Information to get a broader prospective on the service quality that different companies can offer. This information is often provided by local government, and lists the number justifiable grievances an insurer receives in a year in relation to their total number of customers.

A commonly overlooked quality that motorists are encouraged to investigate is the financial stability of any potential coverage providers. Apart from price and quality, it is also essential that a motorist’s insurer isn’t on the verge of bankruptcy. No company is entirely exempt from financial ruin, so it is important to research the creditworthiness, investment history, and overall financial strength of any potential coverage providers. There are multiple businesses that regularly rank insurers based on these qualities, and frequently publish these findings online.

 

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Handyman Shop for Cheaper Car Insurance with Free Quotes

Apr. 9th 2012

 

Most vehicle owners are required to carry automobile insurance, but policy prices can fluctuate for many different reasons. Finding cheap coverage usually requires that motorists shop around and explore their options. One of the primary reasons why prices often differ between insurers is because coverage providers typically set rates and interpret risk differently. The most affordable option for one driver may not be economical for another. For this reason, it is essential to compare sample rates.

Motorists can usually take advantage of free car insurance quotes to efficiently shop for coverage. Online resources enable vehicle owners to see several estimates at once, letting motorists efficiently evaluate multiple options. The reason why some policies are cheaper than others is because premiums are generally based on the potential that a motorist will file a claim. To determine the level of risk that a motorist represents, insurers require an extensive amount of information regarding a motorist’s automobile, desired coverage, and other personal details.

When motorists are rated by insurers, they are generally placed into one of three categories: the preferred, standard, or nonstandard market. Each of these categories represents a level of risk, which also impacts how much a vehicle owner pays for auto protection. Although motorists in the nonstandard market typically encounter higher premiums, there are some coverage providers that specialize in insuring higher risk drivers. For this reason, motorists from all markets have the opportunity to shop around and make adjustments in an effort to find cheaper vehicle protection.

Cheaper Car Insurance from Shopping Around

Apart from shopping around for the lowest rates, motorists can take an active role in Controlling the Cost of auto insurance by adjusting their desired coverage or taking advantage of discounts. Vehicle owners are frequently encouraged to purchase as much protection as possible, but omitting unnecessary coverages and adjusting deductibles can help to lower coverage costs. Many motorists are required to carry comprehensive and collision coverage that includes a deductible. Choosing a higher deductible can lower the price of policy, but in the event of an accident, the motorist may have to pay more out of pocket.

Many insurance companies offer special discounts as a way to attract new customers. However, individual companies usually promote different savings. Similar to comparing quotes, motorists can often get cheaper coverage by shopping around for the most advantageous assortment of discounts. After completing an online quote comparison, drivers should personally contact several affordable insurers to learn about potential savings.

There are multiple offers that are common among coverage providers, including reduced rates for maintaining a clean driving record or owning a motor vehicle that is equipped with a security system. Some rate reductions, however, are less common. Some insurers may reduce premiums for belonging to a specific club or organization, while others may promote discounts for majoring in a specific subject while in school.

 

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Handyman Important Info for Buying NJ Auto Insurance

Apr. 7th 2012

 

When it comes time to buy automobile insurance in the Garden State, vehicle owners are urged to research all of their option. The kind of policy and degree of coverage that a resident purchases can tremendously impact their rates and options after an accident. Low priced plans may be appealing to many vehicle owners, but they may not provide adequate protection. More comprehensive policies, however, are likely to cost more.

To make an educated purchase, drivers should consider the amount protection they need to be adequately prepared in the event of an accident, as well as the prices offered by several different insurers. To do this efficiently, motorists should take advantage of online resources to evaluate estimates. Gathering quotes over the Internet can generally produce dozens of sample rates at once, allowing drivers to quickly identify potential insurers.

Motorists in need of automobile insurance in New Jersey have two distinct options. Drivers can choose between a basic or standard policy, depending on their personal preferences and budget. The majority of motorists in the Garden State choose to purchase a standard policy because it provides several different options and the opportunity to invest in higher levels of coverage. A basic policy, however, is generally designed for motorists with few assets, and only offers the absolute minimum coverage required by law.

Buying a New Jersey auto insurance Policy

Basic insurance policies include property damage liability with a limit of $5,000 per accident and personal injury protection with a limit of $15,000 per person, per accident. As an option, motorists may choose to include bodily injury liability with a limit of $10,000, or comprehensive and collision coverage. Although this is a cheap option for many motorists, the limited coverage provided by this policy may not be high enough to adequately cover many accident related expenses.

If a motorist with a basic policy is at-fault for an automobile accident that results in $15,000 worth of property damage, their liability limits would be exceeded and the policyholder would likely have to pay the remaining $10,000 out of pocket. Comparing quotes online can often help motorists avoid complications from being underinsured by providing assistance in looking for an adequately priced standard policy.

A vehicle owner who wants to buy a Standard auto insurance Policy must also decide whether or not they would like to retain their right to sue. If a motorist chooses the No Limitation on Lawsuit option, they preserve their right to bring suit against another person after an accident for pain, suffering, or any other injuries. Limiting this right, however, greatly restricts a motorist’s ability to file suit against another motorist. Only after shopping around, comparing quotes and finding a suitable plan that includes an acceptable level of coverage should a NJ motorist buy automobile protection.

 

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Handyman Auto Insurance for 16 Year Old Drivers

Apr. 5th 2012

 

Once a teenager reaches legal driving age, many parents begin to wonder how much is car insurance for a 16 year old going to cost. The price of vehicle coverage can differ depending on the motorist and the insurer, but generally young and inexperienced drivers are charged more for auto protection for several reasons. Policy prices are primarily based on accident risk, and numerous studies have shown that younger drivers, especially those under the age of 25, are more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers in any other age group.

Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for motorists between the ages of 16 and 19. Additionally, an increased tendency to take unnecessary risks and a general lack of experience behind the wheel has lead to thousands of teen related accidents every year. In response to these statistics, insurers typically raise insurance rates for younger drivers to compensate for the added risk of having to pay out a claim.

Although premiums are likely to be higher for teens, there are steps that both younger motorists and parents can take to help cut coverage costs. Insurers often interpret risk differently, and as a result, some companies may offer lower rates than others. To find an affordable policy, teenage motorists are encouraged to compare as many quotes as possible. To efficiently amass sample rates, drivers can use helpful online resources to gather dozens of estimates from a single source.

16 Year Old Drivers can Reduce Car Insurance Costs

When a 16 year old motorist purchases their own motor vehicle, they are usually required to buy their own vehicle coverage as well. However, if a teenager plans on driving a family owned vehicle, it may be beneficial to join the policy of a family or friend. Although the primary policyholder’s rates will likely increase as a result adding a high-risk driver, this is often a more affordable option for many motorists. Luckily Teen drivers and parents have a wealth of valuable resources that can be used to help reduce coverage costs.

Teenagers and primary policyholders are often capable or reducing their premiums by taking advantage of discounts that are commonly offered by insurers. Many companies will lower rates for students who can maintain a 3.0 GPA or have chosen to major in a specific subject while in school. Additionally, many companies advertise special offers for younger drivers who have completed a state approved defensive driving course.

One of the more effective ways for 16 year old drivers to avoid high coverage costs is to drive safely and avoid both automobile accidents and moving violations. Creating a poor driving record can quickly lead to higher price and difficulty finding affordable coverage in the future. Maintaining a clean driving record, however, can help younger drivers quickly lower their rates. After three years, many motorists become eligible for a good driver discount that can make a considerable impact on a person’s premium.

 

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Handyman Review the Best Companies for Car Insurance

Apr. 3rd 2012

 

When shopping for automobile insurance, one of the qualities that motorists usually look for in an insurer is affordability. Although price is important in a policy, vehicle owners should also take into consideration how well an insurer interacts with customers as well as their and financial strength. It usually takes a combination of several attributes for a coverage provider to be considered one of the best insurers available. To find such a provider, motorists are encouraged to take advantage of online resources and sift through multiple customer reviews.

Because many insurers’ rate motorists using different methods and also provide unique services, finding one of the best car insurance companies available usually requires each vehicle owner to complete a small amount of research. Quotes can be efficiently compared online where motorists can amass dozens of estimates at once. Determining how well a particular company interacts with customers, however, usually involves additional research.

The quality of services that an insurer can offer is an important detail that many motorists overlook when shopping for vehicle coverage. After an accident it is essential that a motorist’s policy provider is easy to contact, helpful, and can handle any claims both quickly and efficiently. Reviews from current and former customers can often give drivers a glimpse into how well certain insurers interact with their clientele.

Qualities to Review to Get the Best auto insurance

Although customer reviews can be helpful, it is essential that motorists explore additional information as well that is less prone to personal bias. To assist motorists in choosing a coverage provider, many state legislatures maintain Personal auto insurance Complaint Comparison information, and make this data available to the public. These lists generally include a consumer complaint ratio that matches the number of justifiable grievances that a licensed insurer receives in a year, in comparison to the total number of motorists they insured in the same time period.

More information on the quality of an insurer can also be obtained by exploring fiscal information. Similar to a company’s ability to interact well with customers, it is also important that coverage providers are able to pay out claims and adequately handle their finances. No company, no matter how large, is entirely exempt from financial ruin, and maintaining a policy with an insurer on the verge of bankruptcy may lead to future complications. To avoid these potential situations, motorists are encouraged to utilize data available online that ranks insurers based on their investment history, creditworthiness, and overall financial strength. This info, in combination with the previously gathered details can usually help vehicle owners find one of the best insurers available.

 

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Handyman Cheap Auto Insurance Coverage by Shopping

Apr. 1st 2012

 

For the majority of vehicle owners, car insurance is mandatory, but the price of a policy can fluctuate for many different reasons. To find cheap coverage, motorists need to shop around, make comparisons, and take advantage of the many discounts and savings that can help lower policy premiums. Purchasing a plan that does not include unnecessary coverages, and researching alternative options available through the state can often allow motorists to insure their automobiles for a reasonable price.

An essential step for motorists looking for cheap auto insurance rates is to compare quotes. Like many other products, the price of vehicle coverage can fluctuate depending on the provider. To find an affordable policy, motorists must compare the prices of as many plans as possible. One of the more efficient ways of doing this involves completing an online search. The Internet can provide motorists with dozens of estimates at once from numerous sources.

While shopping around, motorists should consider the impact that coverage can have on a policy. Often the types of protection that are added to a plan can have a significant impact on price. Omitting unnecessary protection from a policy can allow motorists to significantly lower their premium. For example, roadside assistance or MedPay may not be necessary if a vehicle owner already obtains these benefits from other sources. Once a desired level of coverage has been chosen, drivers should compare similar policies to get accurate price comparisons.

Comparisons to get Cheap Car Insurance

Apart from unique rates, individual insurance companies also typically offer a variety of discounts. Insurers frequently advertise special offers that can be utilized to lower coverage costs. By comparing multiple insurers to find one that can offer the most applicable assortment of savings, motorists may end up with considerably cheaper auto protection.

Discounts are generally awarded for a wide range of reasons, but several offers are more common than others. Motorists can usually get reduced rates for maintaining a clean driving record, insuring multiple vehicles at once, or for driving a vehicle that is equipped with additional safety features. Because each insurer generally offers a different assortment of savings, it is important to make as many comparisons as possible.

If a motorist is unable to find cheap coverage on their own, they may want to investigate affordable options that may be available through the state. In locations such as New Jersey and California, many motorists are given the opportunity to buy a minimalistic plan at a lower rate. Additionally, the Washington State Department of Licensing requires special discounts for motorists who complete Driver training programs that have been officially approved. These resources can help vehicle owners find affordable auto protection with a small amount of research and minimal effort.

 

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Handyman Auto Insurance Requirements in North Carolina

Mar. 31st 2012

 

Automobile accidents can be costly for all motorists involved, but buying adequate insurance can help motorists pay for a wide range of damages. In North Carolina, vehicle owners are required to maintain a minimum amount of auto protection to legally driver, but purchasing additional coverage can be a wise investment. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that in 2010 there were over 6,536,000 licensed drivers in the Tar Heel State, each of which must purchase liability protection before getting behind the wheel.

Residents must maintain bodily injury and property damage liability with minimum limits of 30/60/25, in addition to uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. Finding a willing insurer generally requires little effort, but to find cheap car insurance in NC a motorist usually has to shop around and compare numerous quotes. Prices usually vary because premiums are usually based on a driver’s accident risk, and individual companies often interpret risk differently.

In North Carolina there are dozens of companies that are licensed to sell automobile insurance. Getting quotes can be a time consuming process for motorists who contact insurers directly, but luckily residents have the option of searching online. Comparing estimates on the Internet allows vehicle owners to see dozens of sample rates from a single website. While shopping, however, it may be beneficial to gather quotes for policies that include more extensive coverage.

Consider Additional NC Car Insurance

According to 2008 Traffic Crash Facts provided by the NC Department of Transportation, there were over 214,000 reported traffic accidents in the Tar Heel State. If a resident is involved in an automobile accident, liability insurance may not be able to cover many of the damages. The auto protection required by the state only covers damage that the policyholder is at-fault for. To be prepared for a wider range of damages, NC residents are encouraged to consider pursuing additional protection.

Damages caused by flooding, hail, falling objects and other sources commonly associated with hurricanes and tropical storms are usually covered by comprehensive coverage. This added protection also pays for damages caused by fire, vandalism, and theft. Adding collision coverage to a policy will help motorists pay for damage to their own vehicle caused by a collision with another automobile. There is a wealth of options and additives for vehicle owners to choose from that can considerably improve any policy

Most NC residents have the resources to efficiently shop around and find an adequately priced policy. It’s important to remember, however, that driving without adequate coverage in the Tar Heel State is illegal. If an uninsured motorist is involved in an accident, they may still be personally responsible for all at-fault damages. This could mean heavy financial losses for an unprepared motorist. Additionally, residents convicted of operating a motor vehicle without sufficient coverage could have their license suspended and face numerous fines.

 

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Handyman Affecting How Much Car Insurance Costs

Mar. 29th 2012

 

Vehicle owners are often curious about the cost of automobile insurance, but policy prices usually fluctuate for many different reasons. The claims history, vehicle details, and personal information of individual motorists can all have a noticeable impact on coverage costs. This also means that prices are likely to be different for individual drivers. To answer the question of how much does car insurance cost for a specific motorist, vehicle owners should shop around and make quote comparisons.

Coverage costs are primarily based on a vehicle owner’s risk of filing a claim. To determine a motorist’s level of risk, insurers generally analyze extensive amounts of information that can all have a statistical impact on a driver’s likelihood of filing a claim. These details could include a person’s age, gender, marital status, address, level of education, and credit rating among many other particulars.

Additionally, the make, model, and year of an automobile, as well as a motorist’s desired level of coverage, can noticeably impact policy prices. Once a vehicle owner’s level of risk has been determined, insurers typically group motorists into specific categories, or markets. These categories include the preferred, standard, and nonstandard markets, with drivers in the riskier groups generally paying more for vehicle coverage.

Compare How Much auto insurance May Cost

Insurance costs are largely based on How companies interpret risk and the personal information of vehicle owners is frequently used in this process. Although many insurers generally target drivers in the preferred or standard market, there are some policy providers who can financially benefit from insuring riskier motorists. To benefit from these potential prices differences, motorists are encouraged to shop around and explore all of their options before making a purchase.

Comparing as many quotes as possible can be an effective way of determining how much coverage is going to cost, and which insurers can offer the lowest rates. Traditionally, to find this information, motorists would have to contact several companies individually for pricing information. However, vehicle owners can also utilize online tools to evaluate multiple sample rates at once.

Because the cost of vehicle coverage can easily fluctuate, frequently comparing estimates online can help motorists save money by providing opportunities for drivers to adjust their existing policies or switch insurers. Additionally, these resources can help to identify methods for reducing coverage costs. For example, motorists can try adjusting their desired level of coverage, or shop around for a company that can provide an applicable assortment of discounts.

 

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SBA Updates Set-Aside and Protest Procedures for Women-Owned Small Businesses

Mar. 27th 2012

 

On Thursday, January 12, 2012, the Small Business Administration issued an interim final rule, which alters the protest procedures pertaining to its Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program. The changes serve two primary functions. First, when the SBA implemented the WOSB program by publishing a final rule in the Federal Register on October 7, 2010, it established set-aside thresholds of $5 million for contracts pertaining to manufacturing and $3 million for all other contracts. As part of the new interim rule, those thresholds have increased to $6.5 million and $4 million, respectively, to account for inflation.

Second, the changes ushered in as part of the interim rule, make the protest procedures for the WOSB Program consistent with the SBA’s other set-aside programs. For example, under the procedures that existed before issuance of the interim rule, if a contracting officer received a protest on a WOSB set-aside and, nonetheless wished to make an award, that contracting officer would have to issue a written determination concluding that doing so was required to prevent significant harm to the public interest. This requirement is inconsistent with the procedure outlined for other programs. Under the interim rule, a contracting officer may issue an award, despite a protest, if he or she makes the simple determination that doing so is necessary to protect the public interest.

As there have been few reported protests involving the WOSB Program, the new rules should not cause wide-spread confusion. If you are considering a protest, however, you are encouraged to read the changes and consult with a legal professional if you have any questions.

 

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Handyman Contractors Must Take Ethics Compliance Seriously

Mar. 25th 2012


There has been a noticeable increase in the number of contractors proposed for debarment and in the tenacity with which alleged ethical violations are being investigated. Government contractors who receive contract awards in excess of $5 million are required to have a written Code of Business Ethics and Conduct pursuant to the requirements of FAR 3.1002 and FAR 3.1004. (Also See FAR 52.203-13 and 52.203-14). This requirement is very important in light of FAR 9.104-1, which states that to be determined responsible, a contractor must have a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics. It is incumbent upon federal contractors to take these requirements seriously and to not only have a written code, but to conduct themselves in such a way that ethical conduct is built into the culture of the company.

In our experience, when companies face the possibility of suspension or debarment it is typically because a rogue employee does something foolish, or because someone simply does not follow the rules. Most frequently, the act that comes to the attention of a suspension and debarring official is not something that was done with the knowledge, or approval, of company management. In determining whether the company, and its management, should be held responsible for the misconduct of an employee, however, the suspension and debarring official will be very interested in whether the company has a Code of Business Ethics and Conduct in place, whether there is a compliance program, whether there is on-going ethics training, and whether the ethical culture of the company is effectively communicated to every employee.

Simply having a Code of Business Ethics and Conduct in place is not enough. Too many companies have drafted a code, conducted one round of training, and have had virtually no follow-up for a number of years. That sort of a superficial ethics program will not convince the government that your company has done everything possible to avoid unethical conduct and will increase the risk that the company will be implicated in the misconduct of an offending employee. Our recommendation is that contractors periodically, at least once a year, review and update the company’s Code of Business Ethics and Conduct, that an on-going ethics compliance program be put into place, and that both management and other employees have frequent training. The consequences of not taking the government’s ethics requirements seriously can be devastating.

Michael H. Payne is the Chairman of the firm’s Federal Practice Group and, together with other experienced members of the group, frequently advises contractors on federal contracting matters, including ethics compliance, and presents ethics training and compliance seminars.

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Should I Pay A Contractor Cash?

Apr. 5th 2011

Should I Pay A Contractor Cash? Don’t make a large down payment and never pay with cash. Never pay a contractor’s employees directly with the employee’s name on the check. Make checks payable to the licensed contractor’s company name only. Make payments based on the pre-negotiated schedule. Request the appropriate lien waiver/ release in exchange for each payment made. Don’t make the final payment until the job is complete (exception – pool contracts). Keep detailed records of all payments made throughout the project.

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Items to Look for in a Handyman Contract You Sign

Apr. 4th 2011

Items to Look for in a Handyman Contract You Sign — Contractor information: Company name, address, telephone number and license number. Homeowner information: Name(s), address and the job site address. Date the parties entered into the contract and estimated date of completion. The agreed upon payment schedule. The cost of the project: The subtotal amounts for each trade and a grand total of the contract price listed. Drawings and plans (if any) approved and signed by all parties. Make sure you read and understand the contract before you sign. Check the contractor’s license status on the day you sign the contract, even if you did so earlier. License status can change overnight.

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Contracting in Arizona, Consumer Tips

Apr. 3rd 2011

Write a detailed plan for your project. Use yellow pages, the Internet, friend recommendations, local publications, newspapers or trade magazines to find your bidders. Keep a detailed list of all contractors you have contacted while trying to obtain a bid. Get 2-3 detailed estimates with a description of the exact work to be performed, material and equipment to be provided. Make sure bids are dated and the correct contractor’s company name and license number are listed. Verify the contractor’s license status with the ROC or visit the ROC website at www.azroc.gov. While not required by statute, it is a good idea to make sure the contractor is insured and can provide proof of insurance. Check at least 3 references of recently completed projects. Require a written contract. Make sure you read and understand the contract before you sign. See ARS 32-1158B. Check the contractor’s license status on the day you sign the contract, even if you did so earlier. License status can change overnight.

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American Society of Safety Engineers offer safety tips for women in construction.

Mar. 3rd 2011

As the construction field continues to grow, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is providing workplace safety tips aimed at helping reduce injuries and illnesses for women in the construction industry. Both men and women working in construction are susceptible to reproductive hazards.

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Handyman, Chicago Spire’s Foreclosure Marks the End of an Era

Nov. 30th 2010

Handyman, Chicago Spire’s Foreclosure Marks the End of an Era: Foreclosure lawsuits mounting atop the $2-billion Chicago Spire project come at a time when the Windy City’s glut of condominium inventory has forced developers to make other deals.

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Handyman, A New Landmark for the Glasgow School of Art

Nov. 26th 2010

Going up against an icon, Steven Holl has released his plans for a new building that will rise directly across from the Mackintosh Building at the Glasgow School of Art.

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Handyman, amendment stating that employees may be classified as exempt from the FLSA’s minimum-wage

Oct. 24th 2010

An amendment stating that employees may be classified as exempt from the FLSA’s minimum-wage, overtime, and timekeeping requirements based upon the amount of their compensation alone.  Even though the FLSA directs the U.S. Labor Department to establish the parameters for certain exemptions, historically the agency has taken the position that it is not currently authorized to adopt any exemption that is based solely upon an employee’s compensation level.

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Handyman, Flexible Work Terms and Conditions; Proposal: Yet Another Burden for Employers

Oct. 19th 2010

At the same time human-resources professionals are wondering how they can keep up with the work necessitated by existing employment laws, Senators Bob Casey (D. PA). and Tom Harkin (D. IA) have introduced S. 3840 to “permit employees to request, and to ensure employers consider requests for, flexible work terms and conditions . . ..”  This objective sounds benign enough; as usual, the devil is in the details, many of which would be supplied by what would no doubt be extensive regulations prepared by the U.S. Labor Department.

Under this bill, employees would have a right to submit an application for a change in how many hours they must work, the times they must work, and/or where they are assigned to work.  At a minimum, the application would have to state the change sought, the impact the employee “thinks” it would have, and how “in the employee’s opinion” this effect might be handled.  The proposal does not say whether the time an employee spends preparing this application would have to be counted as hours worked.

An employer would then be required to consider this application, including that management would have to:

•   Meet with the employee about the matter within 14 days;

•   Provide a written decision with 14 days after that, including stating the grounds for any such denial in terms established by the law and regulations;

•   Entertain any request for reconsideration the employee makes pursuant to his or her “right” to do so within 14 days;

•   Meet with the employee about the reconsideration request within 14 days after it is made;

•   Provide an adequate written decision on the reconsideration request with 14 days after that;

•   Permit the employee to attend these various meetings with “a representative of [his or her] choosing” (subject only to the representative’s having unspecified “qualifications” that regulations would define); and

•   Postpone any such meeting if the employee’s representative is “not available” to attend.

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Handyman, Seventh Circuit Clarifies Overtime Damages For Misclassified Employees

Oct. 4th 2010

Courts and litigants have struggled over how to figure overtime due to an employee who was misclassified as exempt and who was paid a fixed salary for his or her hours worked.  The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires that non-exempt employees be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rates for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

However, for a misclassified salaried employee, satisfying this requirement necessitates a couple of threshold determinations.  First, the regular hourly rate must be derived indirectly and after-the-fact, because the employee was not paid on an hourly basis.

Second, a court must decide how this rate will be used in computing back-pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek:  Is the employee due 1.5 times this rate for those overtime hours, or is the correct approach to calculate overtime premium by multiplying those hours times one-half of the regular rate?  The answer depends upon whether the employee’s salary is seen as having been his or her straight-time pay only for the first 40 hours, or instead for all hours worked. If the salary covered only the first 40 hours, the employee has received no pay for the overtime hours and is owed 1.5 times the rate.  But if the salary was the employee’s straight-time compensation for all hours worked in a workweek, including overtime hours, then the employee is due only the half-time overtime premium.  How this gets resolved can have tremendous significance in situations – such as class actions – involving large numbers of overtime hours.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) recently weighed-in on this in Urnikis-Negro v. American Family Property Services, 2010 WL 3024880 (August 4, 2010)(opinion below).  The plaintiff was misclassified as exempt under the FLSA’s administrative exemption, was paid a fixed salary, and worked varying numbers of hours each workweek (usually far exceeding 40).  In fashioning its overtime award, the lower court followed an approach taken by several federal appellate courts and relied upon the U.S. Labor Department’s longstanding interpretive rule known as the fluctuating workweek calculation (“FWW”) (29 C.F.R § 778.114(a)).  See, e.g., Clements v. Serco, Inc., 530 F.3d 1224, 1230-31 (10th Cir. 2008); Valero v. Putnam Assoc. Inc., 173 F.3d 35, 39 (1st Cir. 1999); Blackmon v. Brookshire Grocery Co., 835 F.2d 1135, 1138-39 (5th Cir. 1988).  The lower court figured a regular rate by dividing the employee’s weekly salary by her total hours worked in the workweek, and then calculated her overtime premium by multiplying one-half of that rate times her overtime hours worked in the workweek.  The employee asked the Seventh Circuit to overturn this, contending that the FWW method was inappropriate to her situation.

The Seventh Circuit agreed that the lower court was wrong to rely upon the Labor Department’s FWW method as the basis for calculating overtime owed in a misclassification case, concluding that the interpretive rule is forward-looking and is not a remedial measure.  It noted the rule’s reference to “a clear mutual understanding” between the employer and the employee, which contemplates a before-the-fact agreement on this method where the employee is paid a fixed salary.  The circuit also observed that the rule speaks of the employee contemporaneously receiving overtime compensation.  In a misclassification situation, the parties have no such mutual understanding, and there is no contemporaneous overtime payment, because the employer has treated the employee as exempt.

Nevertheless, the Seventh Circuit concluded that the lower court reached the correct outcome.  It said that, in the case of a misclassified employee paid a fixed salary to work varying numbers of hours, the regular rate is determined by dividing all of the hours worked in the workweek into the salary for that workweek.  Because the resulting regular rate represents straight-time pay for all the workweek’s hours (including overtime ones), the employee is owed the product of multiplying one-half of the regular rate  (i.e., the “half” of “time and one-half”) times the total overtime hours.  The circuit relied upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Overnight Motor Transportation Co. v. Missel, 316 U.S. 572 (1942), in which the Supreme Court used this approach under analogous circumstances.  The Supreme Court noted in Missel that its method was consistent with longstanding Labor Department guidance.

Urnikis-Negro represents a principled approach to determining overtime for a misclassified employee.  It avoids the temptation to utilize FWW as a justification, even though the Labor Department’s interpretive rule uses the correct arithmetical computation.  Rather, the decision is grounded upon binding Supreme Court precedent, which itself relied upon longstanding, historical guidance from the Labor Department.  In following this clearly correct approach, the circuit was adhering to the guiding general principle on the regular rate, which states: “The regular hourly rate of pay of an employee is determined by dividing his total remuneration for employment (except statutory exclusions) in any workweek by the total number of hours actually worked by him in that workweek for which such compensation was paid.”  29 C.F.R. Section 778.109.  Urnikis-Negro provides useful clarification and guidance for employers on a computational issue of potentially enormous practical impact in assessing potential exposure in misclassification cases.

EDITOR’S NOTEUrnikis-Negro also cited with approval the Labor Department’s Opinion Letter No. FLSA2009-3 (Jan. 14, 2009), which was a response to a 2007 Fisher & Phillips opinion request.  Fisher & Phillips did not invoke FWW in its request, but the Labor Department nonetheless predicated its favorable answer upon those principles.  Our request and the reply can be accessed below.

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Handyman, Is PDA Use Relevant As To Exempt Employees?

Oct. 3rd 2010

Our last post provoked an inquiry about what impact, if any, after-hours or off-day use of a BlackBerry® or another personal digital assistant might have with respect to employees whom an employer treats as exempt under one of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s executive, administrative, or professional exemptions.  The U.S. Labor Department’s exemption regulations for these so-called “white collar” employees require that most such employees be paid on a “salary basis” in order to be exempt.  This is where the problem might arise.

Being paid on a “salary basis” means that the exempt employee regularly receives each pay period a predetermined amount of compensation which is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work.  Subject only to a limited, specific set of exceptions, an exempt employee must receive the full salary for every workweek in which he or she performs any work, without regard to the number of days or hours worked.  To illustrate the potential consequences of PDA use, let’s consider just three of the more-common exceptions to the “no-docking” rule:

•   Proportional deductions may be made for absences of one or more full days when the employee performs no work due to personal reasons other than sickness or disability;

•   Proportional deductions may be made for absences of one or more full days when the employee performs no work due to sickness, accident, or disability when the employee has not yet qualified for benefits under an employer’s bona fide sick-pay plan, policy, or practice and when the employee has exhausted those benefits; and

•   An employee who performs no work in a workweek need not be paid the salary for that workweek.

The Labor Department has been known to apply the FLSA’s “hours worked” principles in evaluating whether an exempt employee has or has not performed work on a day so as to preclude or permit a deduction from his or her salary on account of the employee’s absence from the job that day.  Moreover, its Office of Enforcement Policy has said that no salary deduction could be made for a day when an employee called in sick but spent a half-hour reviewing files at home that day.

So, if using a BlackBerry® or other PDA for job-related purposes is often “work” (though possibly it would sometimes be de minimis), and if an exempt “white collar” employee engages in such activities during a personal-day off, during a sick-day off, or during a vacation week, can he or she be said to have taken a full day off, or to have performed no work in a workweek?

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Handyman, Chicago Officer Sues Over After-Hours PDA Use

Oct. 2nd 2010

A police officer has sued the City of Chicago (on behalf of himself and others) seeking pay for time spent dealing with work-related phone calls, voice-mails, e-mails, text messages, and work orders via BlackBerry® devices and similar “personal digital assistants”.  The officer contends that these activities entitle the group to an award of overtime compensation under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The potential for these claims has been lurking for a while now, and the relevant FLSA principles are not new.  What has changed is this:  The explosion of 24/7 electronic communication has increased the frequency with which, and has expanded the circumstances in which, non-exempt employees perform after-hours and/or off-premises work.  Join this with the strict requirements of a 70-year-old law that was designed in and for a bygone era, and you have the recipe for a lawsuit extravaganza.

The question is not whether these activities are compensable FLSA “hours worked” for a non-exempt employee – they are.  However, conventional wisdom leads some to think that things like writing a text message or listening to a voice-mail involve too little time to worry with.  But the truth is that this so-called “de minimis” concept is perilously vague, ill-defined, and unpredictable under the FLSA.  No particular timeframe is necessarily small enough to be reliably considered de minimis, and in any event the per-occurrence amount of time is not all that the courts take into account.  Other considerations can include such things as:

•   The aggregate amount of an individual’s time spent in these activities;

•   The aggregate amount of time spent by all of the individuals making claims;

•   The regularity of the activities;

•   Whether and to what extent capturing the time creates a substantial administrative burden and practical difficulty; and/or

•   Properly balancing FLSA policy favoring paying employees for even small amounts of time against the increased burden and difficulty of doing this.

Instead of hoping for a de minimis finding, the legally-preferable approach is to require a non-exempt employee to keep an accurate record of the time spent in the work.  This might be done, for example, on a special form designed for this purpose.  The employee then submits this record so that the activities can be counted along with his or her other work in order to compute the employee’s wages.

Alternatively, cases and U.S. Labor Department interpretations dealing with analogous situations might arguably support developing a reasonable estimate of how long these activities take each day.  The employer would then reach an agreement or understanding with employees in advance as to how much time it will add to their hours worked to account for handling these duties.  Even so, it remains to be seen how the courts will react to this approach, and basing pay upon anything other than the actual facts always increases uncertainty for the employer.

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Handyman, Court Might Have Rejected Donning/Doffing “Administrator Interpretation” Without Citing It. A Subtle Dig?

Oct. 1st 2010

We previously posted about the U.S. Labor Department’s Administrator Interpretation saying that unionized employers cannot exclude time spent donning and doffing certain protective equipment from compensable “hours worked,” even if an applicable union contract or practice treats the time as unpaid.  On August 2, 2010, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that unionized workers at a Kraft Foods plant could sue under Wisconsin state law for wages relating to their time spent donning and doffing certain safety gear and other items at work.  They made their claim even though Kraft and the union had earlier agreed that this time would be non-compensable under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s Section 203(o).  Spoerle v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., 16 W.H. Cases2d (BNA) 711 (7th Cir. 2010).

Before reaching that conclusion, the court said that the workers had no FLSA claim in light of the agreement between Kraft and the union.  The workers argued that Section 203(o) did not permit the union/employer agreement, contending that “protective gear is not ‘clothing’ under 203(o).”  The Court of Appeals said that this argument “is a loser for the reasons given in Sepulveda v. Allen Family Foods, Inc., 591 F.3d 209 (4th Cir. 2009).  We agree with Sepulveda and need not repeat its analysis.”

The Court’s August 2 decision does not mention the June 3 Administrator Interpretation (which specifically criticized Sepulveda‘s rationale).  Whether the Seventh Circuit’s decision should be taken as a rejection of the Administrator Interpretation is unclear, but it is tempting to see it that way.  In stating what was to be resolved on appeal, the Court described a limited question:  “[W]hether Section 203(o) preempts state law that lacks an equivalent exception.”  Given that narrow issue, the Court need not have said much (or perhaps anything) about the workers’ separate argument that “protective gear is not ‘clothing’ under 203(o).”  Nevertheless, the Court did mention that argument, emphatically called it “a loser,” and then went even farther by applauding the Sepulveda decision.  Was the Court not-so-subtly calling the Administrator Interpretation on this point “a loser” too?

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Handyman, 2010 Hurricane Season Will Be Active to Extremely Active; Scientists Predict

Jun. 29th 2010

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is issuing an especially dire forecast for tropical storm activity in the Atlantic and Caribbean basins this hurricane season.

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Handyman Insurance

Insurance might not be the first thing someone thinks about when running a business, but it should be an important consideration.   Handyman insurance is another requirement if you are thinking about starting a handyman business.  This website provides important insurance information on Handyman Insurance Coverage and quotes.

Handyman Insurance Coverage

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(Handyman Insurance ) Commercial Auto: Covers a business's owned, no owned, and hired autos against liability and physical damage losses. 

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The Handyman Insurance Program gives our policyholder comprehensive coverage for their handyman businesses, and the program is designed for Handymen who: Are hired to do a variety of miscellaneous work that would be found in a residential household environment;

Please note that standard home owner's insurance will most likely not cover business assets, and may VOID your home insurance coverage.  If your business is home-based, do you need more liability coverage than your home insurance policy covers. 

The Handyman program gives our policyholder comprehensive coverage for their handyman businesses, and the program is designed for Handymen.

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