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Happy Holidays from Fitton Insurance

Happy HolidaysThe end of year is upon us already! The Fitton team has had a busy year, including the introduction of a new computer system, which resulted in quite a few changes to our processes and procedures, which helped to streamline the business in order to have more time to spend with clients.

Entering 2019, we celebrate a huge 35 years in business! In this time we have provided assistance to countless companies and individuals with their insurance needs and continue to provide outstanding service for many more years to come.

The Toowoomba Small Business Expo was a fantastic event in the style of a business to business market. It featured hundreds of local businesses coming together to promote themselves, which demonstrated the sense of community in the Toowoomba Region, and Fitton’s were proud to be a part of it.

Leading up to Christmas, Fittons extended their hands (and feet) to the Base Services, where the team participated in the Hike for Homeless through Jubilee park in Toowoomba and raised over $800 to support the Homeless in the Toowoomba community.

This Christmas, Fitton’s will be donating Hampers to the Adopt a Family appeal. This is where great organisations such as Lifeline, St Vincent’s, Salvation Army, Uniting Care and Bush Connections provide us with lists of families who need help during Christmas time.

During the Christmas period the office will close on Friday, December 21st and will reopen on Monday 7th January 2019. As always, Ron will be available on 0408 717 733, for any clients seeking assistance during this time.

Ron and the team at Fitton’s would like to take this opportunity to wish all our valued clients, associates and friends a safe and happy holiday season leading into the new year and we thank you for your continued support during 2018 and we look forward to working with you in 2019.

Insurers struggling to keep up with increased cost of climate change

Australia’s risk from a range of natural disasters including cyclones, bushfires, storms and floods is growing. If unmanaged, these risks could significantly damage homes, businesses and infrastructure and put lives at risk.

So, what does this mean for you? Higher premiums? Difficulty obtaining insurance cover? Unfortunately, both these scenarios are probable.

Over the past decade, the total economic cost of natural disasters has averaged $18.2 billion a year. A recent Deloitte Access Economics report forecasts the cost of natural disasters in Australia will more than double by 2050, averaging $39 billion per year.

Flood

Insurers can no longer afford to take a relaxed approach to pricing for climate change. An escalation in severe weather events may leave them playing catch-up, as claims costs are driven higher. If premiums are increased gradually over the next 10 years, or even longer, it’s possible to avoid sudden large price hikes.

Taking a more measured approach would allow insurers the financial strength to meet the emerging claims costs that are likely to flow through. This is a more favourable outcome for consumers, as modest premium rises are much easier to absorb than a large rise out of the blue.

A more secure future does not depend on insurers alone. Recent economic analysis has highlighted that successive governments have overinvested in post-disaster reconstructions and underinvested in mitigation that would limit the impact of natural disasters on our economy and communities.

As a general rule, every dollar spent on mitigation can save at least two dollars in recovery costs. The Australian Government’s investment on mitigation is equal to 3 per cent of what is spends on
post-disaster efforts. The rebalance of this spending allocation should be a national priority to reduce the cost of reconstruction and safeguard our communities.

Local Government Authorities (LGAs) also need to restrict and control the growth of communities deemed to be at high to extreme risk. Queensland LGAs of
Brisbane, Gold Coast, Townsville and Moreton Bay are deemed at high to extreme risk for tropical cyclones, storms and floods. In Victoria, 17.5 per cent of the population live in LGAs which contain communities at high to extreme risk of bushfire.

Something to consider, especially going into storm season.

Be prepared for Storm Season

Severe storms can strike at any time and Queensland truly is a state that can be beautiful one moment and storming the next.

Every year many homes and businesses are damaged greatly by storms and while you can’t predict the weather and its effects, you can be prepared for the storm season ahead. Bureau of Meteorology State Manager Bruce Gunn said severe thunderstorm activity increases in Queensland during spring and summer, typically peaking between October and December.

“Brisbane is particularly prone to severe thunderstorms and sees significantly more severe thunderstorm days than any other capital city in Australia,” Mr Gunn said. “The Tropical Cyclone Outlook, points to an average to slightly below average season due to the influence of a possible El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, which generally brings warmer and drier conditions to Queensland.

“On average one in four tropical cyclones in the Coral Sea cross the coast, and it only takes one cyclone to make a significant season – as we have seen with the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Debbie last year.” Some of the ways you can be prepared for storm season are:

Create a Home Emergency Plan.

When creating a Home Emergency Plan ask yourself:

  • How a severe storm could impact your home
  • The location of exit points in the house
  • Where to go if you need to evacuate
  • How to stay in contact if you’re separated from each other
  • Requirements for those with medical conditions or special needs
  • What to do with any pets
  • What to include in your Home
  • Emergency Kit
  • Check whether your insurance is adequate and current.

Create a Home Emergency Kit

An emergency kit contains essential items that you and other members of your household may need during and after a severe storm.

Your emergency kit should be able to sustain you for at least three days in case essential services have been disrupted or you have been isolated by floodwater.Prepare your home This includes general home maintenance such as checking your roof regularly to ensure its in good condition, keeping gutters, downpipes and drains clear, removing tree branches close to your home, mending and maintaining the property and securing loose items around the home.

Other tips include ensuring your home, contents and car insurance is adequate and current, identify the safest room in the house to shelter during a storm, learn how to safely turn off your power, water and gas and keep water containers, a camping stove and fuel safely on-hand.

Tune into warnings

If a severe weather warning or storm alert has been issued for your area, it’s important to gain as much information as possible to help you prepare and protect your family and home.

Talk to us about your insurance coverage to ensure it’s adequate for the season ahead and for tips on being stormwise visit
www.stormwise.com.au

Forced annual leave over the Christmas period

Forced annual leave over the Christmas Period. Is it legal?

With the holiday season upon us, many businesses shut down for the Christmas period leaving employees in limbo about their holiday arrangements. Some employers may force their employees to take their annual leave when their business is closed. But, is this allowed?

Brokerwise

What does the Award or Enterprise Agreement say?

Whether your employer can force you to take annual leave depends on the terms of your Industry’s Award and registered agreement. You will most likely need to take paid annual leave if your award or  agreement says that you must do so during the Christmas break, or that your employer can direct you to take annual leave. You can, however, try to negotiate an alternative arrangement with your manager.

For example, any in-store retail employees will be required to take annual leave during the closure of a business for the holiday period. The employer must, however, give at least four weeks’ notice before the
employee takes leave. Other industries that can also direct employees to take their annual leave during business shut down periods include real estate, hospitality, and cleaning services.

On the other hand, any health professionals, architects as well as building or construction workers cannot be directed to take their annual leave during any business shut downs (except for employees in dental or medical practices). To find more about your particular industry awards and agreements, we encourage you to visit Fair Work Australia (FWA) or speak with an employment lawyer.

The award must be reasonable

The award or agreement must be reasonable. For example, if the employee has an excessive amount of annual leave saved, then this is sufficient for an employer to force an employee to take their annual  leave. FWA have also considered it reasonable to direct employees to take their annual leave during any shut downs that the business has, such as over the Christmas and New Year period. FWA have considered the following factors are relevant when assessing the reasonableness of the employees award and registered agreement:

  •  The needs of the business;
  •  The needs of the employee;
  •  Any prior agreed arrangement/s between employer and employee;
  • The time of notice given to the employee;
  • The business’ past practices.

Key Takeaways

In short, if your business closes during the Christmas period and your award and agreement allows your employer to direct you to take annual leave, then there may not be too much that you can do. Your best chance is negotiating alternative arrangements and compromising with your manager or employer to see if they are flexible with annual leave.

For more information visit www.fairwork.gov.au

What to do with unwanted gifts

Christmas is just around the corner and while they say it’s the thought that counts when it comes to gifts, you will inevitably end up with gifts you do not want. So what are your rights and responsibilities if  you want to return gifts after Christmas?

What are your options when it comes to unwanted gifts?

Return your unwanted gift for cash or store credit. Stores that have signs or employees claiming ‘no refunds’, ‘no refunds on sale items’ or ‘exchange or credit only for return of sale items’, are a breach of the  Australian Consumer Law. Stores must take an item back if it doesn’t function how you’d reasonably expect it to, or if it’s of sub-standard quality. However, in saying this, they have no obligations if you imply
change your mind or if you find the same item for a lower price elsewhere.

Resell your unwanted gift online

If you’re unable to return your item but need the money, you could always choose to resell it or trade it in for something else. Websites like eBay or Gumtree are good options, particularly if you want a quick sale. Another option is the Marketplace on Facebook, which uses filters to advertise your items to people in your local area.

Regift your unwanted gift

A common reaction to a receiving a gift we don’t like is to return or exchange it – but what if you could recycle the gift to someone who would appreciate it more? There are a number of different ways to ensure the gift is well-received and thankfully, none of them involves asking someone for a receipt to return it!

Donate unwanted gifts to charity

Another easy way to bring Christmas joy is to donate your unwanted gifts to a charity.

Changes to the ‘Chain of Responsibility’: It doesn’t matter if you actually drive the truck

From 1 October 2018, a number of amendments to the Heavy Vehicle National Law 2012 (HVNL) came into effect. These amendments will significantly impact the existing ‘chain of responsibility’ (CoR) duties and the overall regulatory framework relating to the heavy vehicle transport supply and logistics chain.

The purpose of these changes is essentially to improve safety in the industry, particularly by sharing the responsibility for safety to all parties involved in the supply chain. It imposes a positive duty on each CoR party to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of the party’s transport activities relating to the vehicle.

Each party must, so far as is reasonably practicable eliminate public risks and, to the extent it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate public risks, minimise the public risks. A party must also ensure its conduct does not directly or indirectly cause or encourage:

  • the driver of the heavy vehicle to contravene the HVNL;
  • the driver of the heavy vehicle to exceed a speed limit applying to the driver; or
  • another person, including another party in the CoR, to contravene the HVNL.

The amendments shift liability from the traditional owner/operator paradigm to a shared responsibility on all parties in a supply chain who have control or influence over a heavy vehicle transport job.

These include:

  • an employer of the driver;
  • a prime contractor for the driver;
  • an operator of the vehicle;
  • a scheduler for the vehicle;
  • a consignor or consignee;
  • a packer of any goods in the vehicle;
  • a loading manager for any goods in the vehicle; and
  • a loader or unloader of any goods in the vehicle.

Prosecution for any alleged breach will consider the actions of each party involved, including any of the above parties. The amendments also impose a due diligence obligation on executive officers of CoR entities to ensure their entity complies with the safety duty under the HVNL.

This obligation may consequently expose executives to personal liability in some circumstances. There are also a number of specific prohibitions on asking, directing or requiring a party in the CoR to do something that an individual knows, or ought reasonably to know, would have the effect of causing a driver to exceed a speed limit, or drive while fatigued or in breach of a work/ rest hours requirements.

We suggest that parties involved in the industry, including executives of CoR entities, seek advice where necessary to understand their obligations under the new laws.

Steps should also be taken to ensure entities comply with the changes, including actively identifying, assessing and controlling hazards and safety risks and continually monitoring and reviewing control measures to ensure enforcement practices remain in place.

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