Crane Agency – November Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz

How the 2016 Election Could Affect Healthcare
November 2016 Live Well, Work Well Newsletter
November 2016 HR Brief
November 2016 Benefits Buzz

As you can imagine, there are a lot of questions after the 2016 Presidential Election.  We will do our best to keep you all updated but for now we have attached a piece that was put together prior to the election.  This article provides a brief overview of each candidate’s health care platform, so you can better understand how Trump may affect the employee benefits landscape now that he has been elected into office.

Please find attached your November Wellness Newsletter from The Charles L. Crane Agency.  The Live Well, Work Well newsletter is an employee newsletter that is produced monthly and covers topics like health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and personal finance. This month’s issue includes information on money-saving tips for prescription medications, a potential danger in your tap water and important updates on the 2016-2017 flu vaccine.

You will also find attached this month’s Benefits Buzz and HR Brief.  This month’s Benefits Buzz discusses the EEOC’s finalized rules for employer-sponsored wellness programs, the 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey results and the DOL grants awarded to six states as part of the Disability Employment Initiative. This month’s HR Brief gives an overview of why covered employers must consider the FMLA when an employee requires leave under workers’ compensation, clarifies the changes effective Dec. 1 to the “white collar” exemption rules and informs employers of significant changes coming to EEO-1 reporting obligations.

Thank you for your continued confidence in the Benefits Department of the Crane Agency.  Please do not hesitate to contact your agent or service representative with any additional questions.

Crane Agency – October Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz

October 2016 – Live Well, Work Well Newsletter
October 2016 – HR Brief
October 2016 – Benefits Buzz

Welcome to the Crane Agency October Wellness Newsletter.

The Live Well, Work Well newsletter is an employee newsletter that is produced monthly and covers topics like health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and personal finances. This month’s issue includes information on how to prevent backpack-related injuries, safety tips for celebrating this Halloween with your child and prevention strategies to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

You will also find attached this month’s Benefits Buzz and HR Brief.  This month’s Benefits Buzz discusses the approaching ACA reporting deadlines, the Marketplace’s “simple choice health plans” available for the 2017 enrollment period and the FLSA employer accommodation requirements for nursing mothers.  This month’s HR Brief gives an overview of calculating FMLA leave entitlement for employees who work overtime, alerts employers on forthcoming IRS ACA penalty liability letters, and also alerts employers about increased fines for Form I-9 paperwork violations.

On a regular basis we receive calls from clients seeking recommendations or guidance as you review opportunities to complement your Benefit offerings.  We simply wanted to remind you that on top of our robust portfolio of services provided we are happy to recommend vendors when it comes to:

  • Voluntary Worksite – Accident, CI, HI, Cancer, etc.
  • Key Person Life and/or DI
  • Payroll
  • FSA, HSA, Cobra, POP, TMA, etc.
  • Wellness/Population Health Management
  • Form 5500

Thank you for your continued confidence in the Benefits Department of the Crane Agency.  Please do not hesitate to contact your agent or service representative with any additional questions.

At Crane you are more than just a number…

At Crane you are more than just a number.  We value long term relationships with our clients, our employees and the communities we serve.  We also understand the needs of our clients because our organization was built by business owners and families just like you.  That is why our employees strive daily to exceed customer expectations with personalized service that is responsive and reliable.

We are excited to share the story of Sentinel Emergency Solutions and how Crane Agency’s Employee Benefits team partnered with UnitedHealthcare to form a winning partnership.  Please click here to view the video.

A very special thank you to Sentinel Emergency Solutions for their endorsement.

Crane Agency Joins RiskProNet International

Crane Agency is proud to announce that we have recently joined RiskProNet International.   This network of leading insurance brokers consists of 24 independently owned agencies from across the United States and Canada.  It’s purpose is to connect a global network of independent brokers to share knowledge and best practices with similar sized agencies in different regions throughout North America.  Levering relationships with more than 5,000 insurance professionals world wide, RiskProNet members are kept at the forefront of the most pressing issues facing businesses today.  We believe our clients, carriers and the entire Crane Agency family will benefit greatly from this strategic partnership.

For more information, see our press release on or visit the RiskProNet website.

The Right Property Values are Essential to Proper Coverage

An avoidable insurance mistake that many businesses make is under-insuring their buildings.   When completing the application, they are required to give a value for the building.  Often, the only reference points the owner have is the real estate value or loan amount.  They do not realize that under the terms of the property policy; it pays for the cost to repair or reconstruct the building, not the market value.

Some types of buildings, particularly older structures, have reconstruction costs which far excess the real estate value.  Also, in older cities or depressed areas, the disparity can be quite high.  In the event of a total loss, a payment of the real estate value may be sufficient.  However over 99% of all losses are partial losses requiring restoration and repair.  In this case, underinsurance can be a serious problem for the insured.  The insurance claim may be insufficient to pay for repairs, or the policy may penalize the owner for underinsuring the property.

The property should be valued based on the reconstruction cost.  Reconstruction cost is based on factors such as the type of building, size, design, materials and the local cost of labor.

The responsibility for determining the property value lies with the insured.  A building owner should have the Property valued based on reconstruction cost.  There are property appraisal firms that do this.   Larger insurance agencies may have qualified loss control consultants who can examine a building and generate a replacement cost estimate using Marshall & Swift or other software.  Either of these approaches can assist the property owner in avoiding the ‘real estate value trap.’

If you are a commercial building owner, I hope that this prompts you to have a conversation with your insurance professional regarding your building limits.







Why Workers’ Compensation Premiums Increase at Audit

A recent article I read shared the story of a Restaurateur who had a great year, only to find out their Workers’ Compensation premium doubled at expiration due to an audit.  It made me cringe!  I partner with many restaurant owners and hope none of my clients experience the frustration this business owner suffered.  When you have a profitable year, you should feel proud of that accomplishment and not blindsided by a large additional expense.

A Workers’ Compensation Policy is a contract between the Insurance Carrier and the Insured.  It states the Insurance Carrier will pay for injury to employees in the scope of their work for the Insured.  It also states that the Insured supplies payroll projections at policy inception and any adjustments are made at audit, once the policy expires.  As an insurance broker, I have found one of the easiest ways to prevent clients from receiving a large audit is to touch base quarterly to discuss how their business is doing.  This accomplishes two things:

1) It ensures that the policy payrolls are in-line with current business operations

2) It provides the opportunity to increase payrolls during the policy term, if necessary, so any additional premium may be dispersed over remaining installments.

A large, unexpected bill is never a good thing and most premium audits, unless disputed, are due upon receipt with payment in full.  That is why I encourage my clients to keep payrolls and other exposures updated throughout their policy term.

If you’ve had a great year and expanded your operation, congratulations on your success!  Just remember that talking to your insurance broker on a regular basis and updating exposures throughout the year will not only keep your insurance premiums consistent, but also help to avoid any surprises at policy expiration.

The Crane Agency Turns 130!

The world of insurance is all about risk– and risk management. So, in this industry, things like staying power and experience mean much more than they do elsewhere in the economy.

And believe it or not, The Crane Agency has now been around for over 130 years!

The nature of insurance has definitely changed a lot over that time. For example, we don’t insure steamboats any more. (Fun fact: that is how The Crane Agency got started: in 1885, Charles L. Crane, the son of a steamboat captain, began writing river marine insurance policies for barge owners traveling the Mississippi.)

But we do provide insurance for a range of situations today, representing all major property and casualty insurance companies. Our brokers are all entrepreneurs at heart, given both the independence to serve their clients and the resources to do so quickly and efficiently. With each new generation, our brokers have adapted to the changing business landscape, bringing new expertise to their white-glove service.

Though we keep an eye firmly on what the future brings, it’s still fun to take a look back over those 130 years. So, for your viewing pleasure: here are a few of the billboards we’ve had over the year. Obviously, safe driving was a concern then, and it is a concern of ours now:

And here are some of the historic buildings we have insured through the ages:

If you would like to see what keeps people and organizations coming back the Crane decade after decade, contact us. Sometimes, it’s nice to know something has been around for a while when the rest of the world is so uncertain.

Crane Named St. Louis’ Largest Employee Benefits Firm by St. Louis Business Journal

Earlier this month, the St. Louis Business Journal released its list of the largest employee benefits firms in the local St. Louis area… and Crane came out as #1 on that list.

Crane currently has 104 local, full-time employee benefits employees, and hires a total of 245 people locally. The next company on the list employ 96 and 197, respectively. For the purposes of this ranking, “local” was defined as the area including St. Louis, St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren, Franklin, Washington and Jefferson counties and the city of St. Louis in Missouri, along with St. Clair, Madison, Jersey, Clinton, Calhoun, Macoupin, Bond and Monroe counties in Illinois.

Of course, size isn’t everything. All the companies on that list have to train and supervise those employees. And all need to work hard to provide great customer service. Still, we think that our size and presence in the area makes it clear: we are dedicated to the region.

Why Rank Employee Benefits Firms?

Let’s start with employee benefits. Your benefits package is your #1 tool for attracting and retaining your best talent. That means that all organizations should want to offer the best benefits they can…within budget, and with the least amount of administrative hassle.

There are certainly many agencies who can provide benefits management. Bigger agencies can take advantage of an economy of scale: they can offer more options, provide better customization and better consulting, and leverage more resources, all while staying competitive in terms of cost. Indeed, this has been an aim of the Crane Agency for decades.

Size, though, can be a double-edged sword. When people think of large corporations, they think of impersonal companies, rigid policies, and unhelpful people housed in silos. That’s why it’s important to look at the size of the local workforce. When your agents are from the same hometown area as you, they tend to care a little more.

The folks here at Crane wouldn’t be nearly as proud if we were the biggest provider of employee benefits, full stop. We are, however, ecstatic to be the biggest in the area in terms of the local workforce.

If you want to hear more about how and why we topped the list, contact us. We’d love the chance to prove that we aren’t just big– we’re personal, too.