Category Archives: Community Matters

What To Consider When Choosing A Contractor

Recently the Independent Insurance Agents Association of NY came out with a series of interesting tips regarding the choice of a contractor. This was in response to the destruction resulting from Hurricane Sandy and the snowstorm that followed the week after. The article was helpful and informative, however, in reviewing their suggestions, it struck me that these basic guidelines should be followed whenever you consider hiring a contractor to do any sort of work on your home or business.


1.) Make sure that your contractor is licensed. For example, home improvement contractors working in the 5 boros of New York City and its surrounding counties must be licensed by the county or the town or city where the work is to be done.

2.) Make sure that your contractor is insured with general liability, workers’ compensation and excess liability. To be sure of this, always ask for a certificate of insurance. You might also want to be named as an additional insured on his policies. The certificate must identify the insurance carriers (should be “A” rated) the dates the policies are active, as well as the limits of liability. No contractor should be insured for less than a million dollars in today’s litigious society.

3.) During times when contractors are in high demand, such as after a hurricane for example, it is in your best interest to obtain two estimates for the work to be done so that you have some idea as to whether or not the costs are in line.

4.) It is best to hire local contractors for several reasons: their reputations are important to them as there is always the “word of mouth factor” which can either make or break any business and they can usually be found if anything goes wrong.

5.) Beware of contractors who insist that you pay for the work in cash and insist on payment in advance. A portion of the money may be payable in advance to allow contractors to obtain the supplies needed to do the work, but no reputable contractor will insist that the payment be in cash.

6.) Always insist that the price of construction materials be part of the estimate. You may find that price increases after a major storm are due to the simple law of “supply and demand” as well as having to obtain supplies from further away. However, it is illegal to gouge and make profit resulting from the misfortune of others. A licensed contractor must list supply costs as part of his estimate for the purposes of being able to determine if the charges are reasonable.

Especially, at this time, an unscrupulous contractor may claim to have the approval of FEMA. Be advised that FEMA doesn’t approve or disapprove any contractor.

-Karen Skoler, CPCU

Donations For Rockaway Victims of Hurricane Sandy

food-clothing-for-rockawaysSo many have suffered losses due to Hurricane Sandy. You’ve all seen the news reports showing the destruction and our hearts go out to all the victims. Petschauer Insurance strongly believes in helping our community. Therefore, as of today, our office will be a drop off center for anyone who would like to donate food, clothing, blankets, and other essential items. Donated items will be brought to St. Frances de Sales Church in the Rockaways for distribution to those in need.
If you would like to donate anything, please visit our office at 66-10 Forest Avenue. Together, we can overcome this disaster!

Steuben Day Parade 2012 – Petschauer Insurance Tradition

Did you see Petschauer Insurance’s new float at the Steuben Day Parade this year? Everyone at the agency had a great time building the new float and we loved seeing some of our happy customers enjoy the festivities!

Petschauer Insurance in New York is proud to be an active member of the community! Look for is at next year’s parade and remember that you can count on us for top quality choices for your Personal, Business and Health Insurance. Petschauer Insurance offers Homeowners Insurance, Auto Insurance, Workers Compensation, Umbrella Insurance, Life & Health, Fire & General Liability Insurance to meet all of the demanding needs for your business or personal life.

66-10 Forest Avenue | Ridgewood, Ny 11385

Phone: 718.386.5050 | Email us | Website: |

Company Saves Money and Invests in Employees

WC_1209-01Safety was a major reason for the development of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at Chamberlain, a paving contractor in Laurel, MD that specializes in parking lot maintenance. During a three-year period, the company’s increases in Workers Compensation and Commercial General Liability exceeded 100%. By implementing a Safety Awareness Program, the company saw an immediate and significant decrease in the frequency of Workers Comp claims and vehicular accidents.

Because Chamberlain’s heavy equipment and trucks travel daily on interstate highways around metropolitan Washington D.C., the owners implemented an alcohol and drug policy. A local consulting firm helped develop this policy by working with the company’s human resource advisory group. The process included meetings with workers to explain the rationale for the new policy and provide an opportunity for employee input.

During these meetings, it became clear that designing an alcohol and drug policy would not magically solve all the negative effects associated with these behaviors. Employees needed a mechanism to deal with personal problems so that they could find help, take a leave of absence to deal with their problems, and then return to the company and improve their productivity.

The consultant recommended that Chamberlain use a qualified provider to implement and manage an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This firm leads quarterly training sessions for all employees and counseling on family, financial, and other problems, in addition to those related to alcohol and drugs. Each year, a significant percentage of the Chamberlain’s work force seeks help from the EAP counselor, which shows the confidence of employees in this program.

The company supplements its EAP with a drug testing program managed by a separate organization that does drug testing before employment, after accidents, when there’s probable cause, and on a random monthly basis.

Since implementing the EAP and the drug testing program, the company has enjoyed a significant decrease in job-related injuries and accidents, absenteeism, and tardiness — while reducing its Workers Comp premiums by some $50,000 a year. Chamberlain is also benefiting from an improved quality of workmanship, greater customer satisfaction, and higher employee morale. What’s not to like?

For more information on keeping your workplace safe, contact Petschauer Insurance Company today!