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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Data security breaches clearly pose a significant risk to organizations that collect or maintain customers’ personally identifying information in electronic format. Unfortunately, too many organizations do not fully understand the risk.
Here is confirmation that a data security breach can be a huge problem.
700 Approximate number of Barnes & Noble locations nationwide
63 Number of locations with tampered credit and debit card PIN pad devices
3 Number of days before a federal class-action lawsuit was filed
THREE whole days before any action was taken!!!
Unfortunately, the concepts of right and wrong often may not influence the decision to breach a contract. This is particularly true during difficult economic times when parties to a contract often use the threat of litigation to forcibly renegotiate the terms of their agreements. Needles to say, when asking a party to honor their contract, it is unsettling to hear someone respond with “sue me.” More...
By Elizabeth Ferrin
Some self-storage managers have adopted a strategy of using sophisticated algorithms and demand analyses designed to maximize revenue when calculating their rents. This means that customers will receive a different rate for storing at the same facility. A customer who calls twice in a single day may receive two different quotes. More...
The U.S. Longshoreman and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (Act) was enacted to create a uniform system to compensate longshoremen and harbor workers for workplace injuries that did not depend on the precise site of his or her injury. However, the Act states that such compensation will be provided “only if the disability or death results from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States.” More...
The passage and continued implementation of Healthcare Reform, as well as its uncertain political future, have placed employers in a precarious position with their health benefit programs. More...
The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (VPA) is a federal law designed to promote volunteerism by protecting volunteers from liability if an injury occurs while they are volunteering. Many organizations relying on the services of volunteers assume that the protections afforded by the VPA extend to the organization itself. Unfortunately, this assumption is incorrect, and the consequences of this misunderstanding can be severe.More...
Today, condominium residents are feeling the pain of their neighbors' financial struggles, particularly in the form of budgetary shortfalls created by unit owners defaulting on their obligation to pay assessments. Assessments, which represent each unit owner’s share of the funds required to pay the association’s common expenses, are the life-blood of an association. The revenue generated by assessments enables the condominium association to undertake the maintenance, management, and operation of the condominium community. Unfortunately, the current slump in the housing market, particularly in Florida, has hit condominium communities especially hard. More...
On August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered near Mineral, Virginia was felt from Alabama to Ontario. Many of those affected did not know that earthquakes could happen in places like New York City, Washington D.C., or Philadelphia. These people held the common, but mistaken belief that earthquakes generally occur only on the West coast of the United States, particularly in California. Unfortunately, the reality is that earthquakes pose a national threat.More...
Completing an application for insurance can be time-consuming and tedious. Nevertheless, the application is important because an insurance company will use an applicant’s answers to determine whether to offer insurance and how much to charge. In making these determinations, insurance companies generally have the right to rely on an applicant's answers without conducting their own investigation. However, insurance companies may be entitled to deny coverage to those who provide false or incorrect information on their application. Since a denial of coverage can be devastating for an insured, it is important to understand what is required of insureds when they are completing their insurance applications.More...
It is not uncommon for insureds, even sophisticated ones, to be confused about the precise meaning of the coinsurance clause found in their property insurance policies. In fact, many insureds fail to appreciate the effects of the coinsurance clause until they are endured after a loss. While experience may be the best teacher, it is rarely the cheapest, particularly when the lesson involves the coinsurance clause a/k/a the coinsurance penalty. More...
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