Risk Briefs: Insurance News and Articles
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On January 1, 2014, a number of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) more significant provisions will go into effect. This means that many employers renewing their health plans on or after January 1st can expect big changes to their plans and, most likely, their premiums. However, some small group employers (typically those with no more than 50 employees) may have the option of delaying these expected changes with off-cycle renewals.
Off-cycle renewals allow employers to change the renewal date of their health plans. Since some of the ACA’s 2014 changes do not apply until the renewal date, health plans renewing earlier in the year will experience premium increases sooner than those renewing later in the year. Regardless of a plan’s natural renewal date, an off-cycle renewal can change a plan’s renewal date to late 2013, thereby effectively delaying implementation of the changes, and the expected premium increase, until late 2014. More...
Many homeowners believe that switching insurance companies is the only way to save on their windstorm (hurricane) insurance premiums. Unfortunately, companies with the lowest premiums may not have enough money to pay claims after a storm. Rather than buy insurance from an insurance company without the capital to pay losses, homeowners can reduce their premiums by taking advantage of wind mitigation credits.
Wind mitigation credits are premium discounts based on the ability of a home to tolerate strong winds without experiencing damage. According to one estimate, if homes were constructed in a manner beyond that which is currently required by building codes, the average losses per year would be reduced by over 70%. This is why increasing a structure’s wind resistance, or hardening, allows homeowners to save on their windstorm insurance premiums. More...
Workers’ Compensation (WC) provides medical, disability, rehabilitation or death benefits to employees who have suffered a job-related injury or illness. Employers are generally required by their state’s law to provide WC coverage to employees. Since most employers purchase insurance to satisfy this statutory obligation, it is important to understand how WC insurance premiums are calculated.
The formula for calculating the starting WC premium is (Payroll / 100) x (Premium Rate). To understand this formula we need to discuss three elements that play a big part in calculating the premium. More...
Collecting personally identifying information from clients, such as names, social security numbers and credit card numbers, is common practice. This means that protecting against a data security breach is (or should be) a priority for virtually every organization. Unfortunately, when it comes to implementing data security measures, many organizations overlook a significant and somewhat obvious threat: the copy machine.
Commercial copiers have come a long way, and though they may not look it, they are powerful computers. Today’s generation of networked multifunction copiers are “smart” machines capable of copying, printing, scanning, faxing and emailing documents. To manage incoming jobs and heavy workloads, these copiers require hard disk drives capable of storing a lot of information. And, since they are often leased, returned and then leased or sold again, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends including copy machines in an organization’s data security plans. More...
Businesses often prepare an inventory of valuable property to simplify the process of filing an insurance claim in the event of a loss. For some reason, papers and records rarely make the list, even though losing these documents could disrupt business operations. Fortunately, insurance is available to cover the unbudgeted and often significant costs of dealing with a loss of business papers and records.
Valuable Papers and Records (VPR) coverage is a type of property insurance that covers the cost to research, replace or restore information that is lost when papers and records are damaged or destroyed. This insurance generally covers papers and records owned by the insured or in the insured’s care, custody and control, and it is often found in property insurance and small business owners’ policies. Large or unique risks may require a separate, stand-alone policy. More...
Insurance companies such as Geico and Progressive started selling personal insurance online over a decade ago. So is it safe to assume that business insurance can also be sold online?
We decided to explore this endeavour and we’re not the only ones. Plenty of insurance agencies offer business insurance, but very few can offer clients an online quote.
Just because the tool is out there doesn’t mean business owners will use it. Getting a quote for business insurance is significantly more complicated than obtaining a personal quote. Some of the other agencies that are offering business quotes are approaching it quite differently than we did. More...
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released final rules pursuant to the Affordable Care Act (Act) that are designed to help consumers shop for and compare health insurance options in the individual and small group markets. According to the HHS, these final rules will promote consistency among health plans, protect consumers by ensuring that plans cover a core package of health benefits and limit out of pocket expenses.
To make it easier for consumers to make apples-to-apples comparisons among health insurance plans, the final rules create uniform standards of coverage and value.More...
The Affordable Care Act’s Individual Shared Responsibility provision requires nonexempt individuals to obtain minimum essential coverage for themselves and any nonexempt dependents. Starting January 1, 2014, those failing to get the required health insurance will have to pay a monthly penalty.
Who is subject to the penalty?
The penalty, which is calculated monthly, applies to individuals of all ages, including senior citizens and children. An individual is liable for the penalty assessed against any other individual who can be claimed as a dependent for federal income tax purposes. If an individual files a joint return, that individual and their spouse are jointly liable for the penalty. Penalties will be paid by including them with an individual’s tax return.
On January 25, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published its omnibus Final Rule regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
According to HHS, the Final Rule “greatly enhances a patient’s privacy protections, provides individuals new rights to their health information, and strengthens the government’s ability to enforce the law.” Here is a brief summary of some of the Final Rule’s provisions.
Breach Notification Standard
Previously, an incident involving the impermissible use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) was generally not considered a breach unless an internal risk assessment revealed a significant risk of harm to those whose information was compromised. Under the Final Rule, an impermissible use or disclosure of PHI is presumed to be a breach unless an internal risk assessment demonstrates that there is a low probability that the PHI has been compromised.More...
To help individuals understand their health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act (Act), employers are required to give employees written notice about Affordable Insurance Exchanges. The Act’s March 1, 2013 deadline for employers to start giving this notice to all employees was recently pushed back by the Department of Labor (DOL).
Under the Act, the DOL is required to define the scope of the notice requirement and provide guidance on how the requirement can be satisfied by issuing regulations. Unfortunately, these regulations aren’t finished yet, and the DOL has taken the position that employers should not be required to comply with the Act’ notice requirement until the regulations are done.
According to the DOL, “the timing for distribution of notices will be the late summer or fall of 2013, which will coordinate with the open enrollment period for Exchanges.” More...
2/5/2013 Photo courtesy of Pamela Malfavon, © 2013
One of the most common phrases you’ll hear from an insurance agent is don’t wait until it happens to you to get coverage.
On Sunday, February 3rd our very own agent, Pamela Malfavon, noticed smoke coming from the balcony below her 6th floor apartment at Midtown 24. When she looked down and saw that there was a fire, she immediately called 911 to report it. Afterward, she went downstairs to alert a Midtown 24 employee that there was a fire in the building.
The fire was put out before causing any severe damage, and fire fighters speculated that it may have been caused by a cigarette or a candle. Even more of a mystery to all tenants is who will pay for the damage to the building and is the property that was lost in the fire covered?
Under the Affordable Care Act’s Employer Shared Responsibility provisions, “large” employers with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees may be subject to an annual $2,000 or $3,000 penalty (tax) per qualifying employee. An employer may avoid the penalty by offering health coverage to at least 95% of its full-time employees (and dependents) under an “affordable” plan that provides “minimum value.”
A plan will generally satisfy the “minimum value” requirement if it covers at least 60% of health care costs. To be considered “affordable,” the employee’s required contribution for employee-only coverage cannot be more than 9.5% of the employee’s household income for the taxable year.
In the context of determining whether a plan satisfies the affordability requirement, the Internal Revenue Service recognized the likely inability of employers to ascertain the household income for each of its employees. As a result, the proposed regulations recently published by the IRS allow employers to take advantage of three safe harbor provisions.
On January 2, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service published proposed regulations regarding one of the Affordable Care Act’s more controversial provisions—the Employer Shared Responsibility (penalty) provision. Under this provision, an employer may face an annual $2,000 or $3,000 penalty (tax) per qualifying employee depending on whether health coverage is offered to full-time employees.
Starting in 2014, a “large employer” may be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provision if:
- the employer does not offer health coverage to at least 95% of its full-time employees, and at least one of the full-time employees receives a premium tax credit for purchasing individual coverage on an Affordable Insurance Exchange, or
- the employer offers health coverage to at least 95% of its full-time employees, but at least one full-time employee receives a premium tax credit to help pay for coverage on an Exchange.
We are pleased to announce that Voices for Children of Broward County is the winning charity of Setnor Byer's $5,000 Charitable Giving Facebook Campaign.
And because all of the Charities support such wonderful causes, we'd like to increase our donation to $10,000 and provide our 2nd place winner, Hispanic Unity, with $2,000. And split the remaining $3,000 with all others! More...
No-Fault Automobile Insurance is designed to reduce the overall cost of insurance by making quick payments to individuals injured in an accident regardless of fault and by limiting the right to file lawsuits after the accident. Though relatively straightforward, the concept of No-Fault insurance is commonly misunderstood because there is a lack of uniformity among the minority of states that operate under a No-Fault system.
In its purest form, No-Fault Automobile Insurance, which is also known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or First-Party Benefits, allows policyholders to recover damages directly from their insurance companies even if the accident was their fault. In exchange for automatic insurance benefits, those injured in the accident cannot sue for damages under tort law.
This “pure” form of No-Fault insurance does not exist. Instead, approximately a quarter of the states adopted their own laws by adding No-Fault type provisions into their traditional insurance system.More...
As Health Care Reform makes its way through the health insurance landscape, many employers are finding it difficult to keep up. Unfortunately, the size and complexity of the Affordable Care Act (Act) doesn’t help. Nevertheless, a general understanding of the Act’s more significant provisions can help employers adjust to past changes and prepare for future ones.
Since numbers play a big part in determining how the Act will impact a particular employer, here are some figures that employers can use to see where they fit in the big picture.More...
Almost every business relies on computers, networks and electronic data to support their business operations and serve their customers. What most business owners don’t realize is the substantial exposure associated with their use of electronic platforms and the data those platforms host. Today, Cyber Liability insurance is available to business owners for the exposures associated with their use of electronic platforms.
Most businesses are not aware that standard Commercial General Liability policies do not contemplate these types of claims, leaving companies with significant gaps in coverage for cyber-related perils. Any business that collects or handles confidential information, stores client data, uses email, generates revenue online, relies on the internet for transactions or uses a network to conduct its business is in need of this important coverage.
Cyber Liability insurance is designed to protect the insured against direct and indirect loss to the Company’s assets as well as third party claims of negligence. Losses can be caused by hazards such as the transmission of virus/malicious code, denial of service attacks, physical theft of a computer/device, accidental release of an insured’s confidential data and attacks by hackers. First party coverage under the Cyber Perils policy includes:More...
When considering insurance, owners and operators of self storage facilities often focus on traditional coverages despite facing risks that are unique to the self storage industry. As a result, some of the biggest risks faced by self storage facilities remain uninsured.
To avoid this problem, owners and operators should consider obtaining specialized coverages designed to protect against the risks that come with operating a self storage facility.
Sale and Disposal Liability Coverage
Sale and Disposal Liability Coverage will pay for damages caused by a self storage facility’s sale and disposal operations involving the lock-out, sale, removal or disposition of a customer’s property. Even if everything was done by the book, the defense coverage can be used to respond to frivolous lawsuits filed by tenants.
Customers’ Goods Legal Liability Coverage
Owners and operators of self storage facilities are usually blamed when a tenant’s property is damaged. Customers’ Goods Legal Liability Coverage will pay for damages to their property that occurs at the self storage facility and will cover defense costs if a lawsuit is filed.More...
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is moving beyond its traditional role as the nation’s principal wage and hour law. In addition to establishing minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and youth employment standards, the FLSA now deals with health insurance.
Under the amended FLSA, employers must notify employees that:More...
At Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk, we have a long-standing tradition of Charitable Giving. This year, we’re launching a Facebook campaign so that fans can help us pick which Broward County Charity will receive $5,000.
Throughout the month of December, we will have a list of participating Charities on our Facebook Cover Photo. All voters have to do is Like our page and write on our wall naming the Charity they’d like to receive the donation. The Charitable organization that receives the most votes will receive a donation from Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk in the amount of $5,000. Voters have until December 31st to participate, and the winner will be announced in the first week of January 2013.
Here are the detailed instructions on how to vote:
- Go to the Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk Facebook page
- Click the "Like" button
- View the Cover Photo for a list of the participating Charities
- Place your vote by commenting on Setnor Byer’s Wall with: “John Smith (your name) likes XYZ Charity(your charity).”
Voters have to “Like” the Facebook page for their vote to count, and participants only get one vote!
This Holiday Season please take the time to place your vote to support our local charities!
If you’d like to learn more about our Charitable Giving efforts please contact us.
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Direct consultation with our Subject Matter Experts is available by contacting Martin Salcedo at .Top