Sheltering those who provide shelter

We understand that rescue missions are exposed to unique risks…
…such as those stemming from homeless residences, feeding programs, work programs, educational tutoring, and the dispensing of medications, to name a few.

Are you properly covered?
Does your current program provide coverage for your volunteers as though they were employees? What if a resident is hurt while doing work at the mission? Are volunteer drivers protected when they use their cars for mission purposes? What about your board members, are they covered for their decisions?

The Merriam Agency has been in business for over 100 years and can give you the solutions to these and many other issues unique to rescue missions and homeless shelters. Our purpose is far greater than just providing risk management and insurance services. We use our skills and resources to support those who assist the disadvantaged, disenfranchised and the destitute. Contact us for a free, no obligation quote today.

Recent Articles

  • Merriam Insurance Guide to Active Shooter Preparedness


    The following is an overview of how we counsel missions in the development of an active shooter protocol. This guide is designed to help you utilize resources in your community to craft a response plan that fits your ministry. Through this guide you will learn how to: Educate key staff on protocols the experts recommend. Draw on the knowledge and experience of local law enforcement and other first responders. Develop and implement a crisis response plan. Develop training appropriate for all employees and complete drills at least twice annually. Step 1: Research Your Active Shooter Plan You will need to select a point person within your organization to organize meetings with local law enforcement and first responders. This point person should be the chairperson of the committee that develops your crisis plan. You will need someone who writes well to take notes and organize the group’s conclusions. As the plan is being developed, you want input from both male and female staff. We encourage you to have a group of 2–4 people who meet with first responders and develop the first draft of the crisis response plan. We also recommend you request that the mission leadership team participate in some or all of these meetings with first responders. Ask the local police/first responders to walk your campus with you and point out potential issues they see. Note these carefully. These can include unmonitored means of egress, glass windows that could be shot out and walked through, or areas of staff […]

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  • The Threat of Workplace Violence


    Have you considered the threat of workplace violence? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are close to 2 million victims of workplace violence in America, annually. This includes any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, even murder. In fact, homicide is the third leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States/ In the year 2000, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there were 674 workplace homicides accounting for 11% of the total 5,915 fatal work injuries. Recognizing that such threats exist, and knowing that victims of workplace violence not only cost the employer lost workdays but also damage the employer’s reputation, it becomes especially important that steps be taken to protect your staff. There are preventative steps which can be taken to help mitigate violence as well as deal with the aftermath of workplace violence. To begin with, there should be a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence. Next, policies and procedures should be put into place which include training employees to identify behaviors that may be an indication of future violence. Ensure that all workers know the policies and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and promptly remedied. OSHA has published recommendations for workplace violence prevention programs that are available at Maintain a shared data repository of what incidents have been observed. What employees see of their fellow worker’s behavior may allow for management to better understand conditions and situations that […]

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  • Wage and Hour Threat


    One of the advantages of being a national insurance consultant and risk manager is that it allows us to see legal trends that are growing before our clients are hit with the latest threat, and thereby, we often have time to build a defense before the storms hit. One such trend that we are seeing is the rise in employment-related suits, specifically “wage and hour” claims. This is an area where few insurance policies provide automatic coverage, and most simply exclude the coverage altogether. The challenges are further exacerbated by law firms which specialize in prosecuting these types of claims—and reportedly, they are adept at cultivating relationships with your former employees who may be easily agitated into believing they have been aggrieved. In this article on this growing trend, seemingly begun in California and quickly moving east, we will look at the cause of such and offer some tactics to help avoid wage and hour claims against your organization. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted in 1938 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division. Its purpose is to: Set a minimum wage below which an employee’s pay cannot fall. Encourage full employment by establishing a maximum number of hours employees can work before an employer must pay overtime additional wages. Require equal pay for equal work, regardless of age, gender, race and other federally-protected personal attributes. Safeguard child workers. Some classes of employees are exempt from both minimum wage and overtime pay. These […]

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  • Workers’ Compensation vs. Disability Income


    Few people think about Workers’ Compensation (“WC”) insurance until it is needed. It is compulsory coverage required of most every employer for the benefit of most every employee. It is a trade-off that requires employers to provide unlimited work-related medical benefits to employees who are injured at work in exchange for eliminating liability to the employer from the employee’s allegation of negligence for the work-related injury or illness. WC provides three primary benefits: medical coverage, rehabilitation services, and loss of wages. Typically, the health and rehabilitation benefit are without limits with the goal to help put the injured/ill employee back to work as quickly as possible. However, the work wage loss is typically limited to a percentage of the gross wages, such as 2/3. Additionally, there is a cap on how much is ultimately to be paid, from a low of $478/week (Mississippi) to a high of $1,688/week (Iowa). Thirty-five states have a maximum of less than $1,000/week. The only employee who is usually allowed to be removed from the WC mandate is the President or Executive Director of an organization. Since this person may be compensated at a high wage, it is common that the amount of work wage benefit provided under WC may prove to be woefully inadequate. If they are covered under a major medical plan, they really do not need 2 out of the 3 benefits that WC coverage provides. Therefore, it is likely a much better value for the President or Executive Director to obtain […]

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  • D&O Retention Limit and what it means to you


    Q: In Directors & Officers Liability insurance (“D&O”) for my mission I notice a $5,000 Retention Limit on the policy declaration page. What is that and what does it mean to us? A: Directors & Officers Liability insurance is an essential form of insurance that provides both defense and settlement for the mission’s Board of Directors and Officers (CEO, CFO, Executive Director, etc.) if there has been an allegation of a “wrongful act.” There need not have been any actual bodily injury or property damage arising out of the alleged act, but there must be an allegation of something that was done “wrong.” Since there is no standardized D&O insurance form that all insurers use, there is a great difference between good insurance policies and weak ones. Typical, in a good policy, there will be provisions that allow not only the Board to be protected but also the mission as an entity; that is, not only will each board member be protected individually, but so will the mission.  An example of a claim that would likely need to be defended would be an allegation that an Executive Director should not have been hired by the Board if he/she is accused of some malfeasance, such as mishandling donations, a sexual abuse allegation, or some other bad behavior. All Boards ought to carry D&O insurance for at least $1,000,000. Premiums typically start around $750/year and are based on size of assets, number of board members, staff and volunteers. A “Retention Limit” is […]

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  • The Importance of Fire Drills

    Big fire in building

    The fire that occurred at The Station nightclub on Thursday, February 20, 2003, in West Warwick, Rhode Island, took the lives of 100 people in under 6 minutes. Most of those deaths were due to the smoke created.  The loss of life might have been avoided had the attendees known how to get out quickly.  Have you conducted a fire drill at your facility recently? Before a fire drill is conducted, walk through your buildings and plan the best evacuation routes. Construct diagrams with those evacuation routes, and secure them to the wall closest to where those routes are going to be located. Encourage people to frequently review the evacuation routes. Fire drills should “regularly” be held at your facilities, especially in your residential and overnight locations. You should determine how many drills are appropriate and conduct them as often as once per quarter. Your first drill of each year could be pre-announced, but unannounced fire drills should also be conducted so as to see how your staff and residents respond. Time the drills to get an idea of how long it takes in order to clear everyone out.  Note any problems that were experienced such as aiding those who are handicapped in some way. Evacuees should stand no closer than 100’ from the outside of the building so as to avoid falling debris and allow firefighters room to tend to the fire, in case one actually occurs. Prepare a fire drill procedures manual and include such details as: Who […]

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