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Road leading to city with years 2019, 2020, and 2020

2021 Property & Casualty Market Outlook

Like many other sectors of the economy, the commercial insurance industry is experiencing changes to both its market cycles and its operating procedures. In particular, 2020 brought an acceleration of a hardening insurance marketplace—one that is less friendly to insurance buyers—which is now nearly two years old. Capacity has left the market, reinsurance has become more expensive, underwriting has gotten stricter and, most importantly, premiums are on the rise for nearly every line of insurance.

In the opens in a new windowCrane Agency 2021 Q1 P&C Market Outlookopens PDF file , we discuss what is driving current trends and how to navigate them.  We also provide a more in-depth look at the year ahead, including detailed information about what to expect by line of coverage in the opens in a new windowCrane Agency 2021 Property & Casualty Outlookopens PDF file .

In any economic climate, it is of the utmost importance to partner with an insurance broker who has the experience and resources to suggest ways to mitigate risk. Implementing effective long-term risk management strategies can help businesses become more desirable to insurance companies in a difficult market and sometimes even assist in negotiating better coverage terms and pricing. At Crane Agency, we understand our clients’ needs because our organization was built by business owners and families just like you. We can help you prepare for uncertainty by suggesting the types of insurance products and services to help support your commercial and personal needs.  For more information, please contact your Crane Agency Broker, or call us today.

Woman in Mask

Re-Opening Guidance for St. Louis City & St. Louis County

Effective May 18th, St. Louis City and St. Louis County, in coordination with the Economic Development Partnership, will begin navigating toward the re-opening of our community.  Here you will find their most current guidance for businesses and individuals as of May 12th, 2020.  As always, for the most recent developments and updates please visit the following:

opens in a new windowSt. Louis City – COVID-19 Coronavirus Information
opens in a new windowSt. Louis County News & Updates

St. Louis City Re-Opening Guidance (as of May 12, 2020):

opens in a new windowHealth Commissioner’s Order #8
Phase I Reopening Standards and Guidance was originally posted on 5/8/2020, and updated on 5/11/2020 to include the Health Commissioner’s Order #8 and Exhibits.

opens in a new windowOrder No. 8 Documentopens PDF file
opens in a new windowPhase I Reopening Standards and Guidance Established by Order No. 8opens PDF file

For the recent updates at the local level, please visit the following:
opens in a new windowSt. Louis City – COVID-19 Coronavirus Information

St. Louis County Re-Opening Guidance (as of May 12, 2020):

opens in a new windowSt. Louis County Department of Public Health COVID-19
Update May 13, 2020
– Business Guidance
Together, in coordination with the City of St. Louis and the Economic Development Partnership, business operating guidelines for the entire St. Louis Region have been released and posted online. The following protocols can be found at opens in a new windowstlcorona.com.

opens in a new windowHotels
opens in a new windowCommercial Office Building Operations
opens in a new windowRestaurant (with dine-in) Operations
opens in a new windowTransportation Services
opens in a new windowBusiness Office Operations
opens in a new windowConstruction, Manufacturing and Repair Services
opens in a new windowPersonal Services
opens in a new windowRetail Operations

Individual businesses can ask specific questions about how the guidance applies to their business by emailing business-covid@stlouisco.comcreate new email.

opens in a new windowSt. Louis County COVID-19 News & Updates as of 05/12/2020opens PDF file opens in a new window (download)opens PDF file

For the recent updates at the local level, please visit the following:
opens in a new windowSt. Louis County News & Updates


Crane Agency has provided some additional resources below to help assist businesses and individuals with this transition, which can be downloaded here:

opens in a new windowSAMPLE COVID-19 Exposure, Prevention, Preparedness and Response Plan – opens PDF file opens in a new windowGeneral Industryopens PDF file (download)
opens in a new windowSAMPLE COVID-19 Exposure, Prevention, Preparedness and Response Plan – opens PDF file opens in a new windowConstructionopens PDF file (download)


Additional Guidance:


Other Helpful Resources:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
opens in a new windowInterim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
.

opens in a new windowCDC Print Resources  
These resources were developed to support COVID-19 recommendations and are free for download from the CDC website.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

opens in a new windowGuidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19opens PDF file

Environmental Health Organization:

For a full list of EPA-approved disinfection techniques and tools, follow this link:
https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/disinfectant-use-and-coronavirus-covid-19

For additional information and resources, please visit the opens in a new windowCrane Agency Coronavirus Preparedness Resources page on our website.

Department of Labor on computer keyboard

DOL Issues Emergency Extensions to COBRA

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today issued opens in a new windowFrequently Asked Questionsopens PDF file under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and revised opens in a new windowCOBRA model notices. Plan administrators can use these model notices to notify plan participants and beneficiaries of their rights under COBRA and qualified beneficiaries of their rights to elect COBRA.

“The information we’re providing today will help Medicare-eligible Americans make key decisions regarding their healthcare coverage,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “As many individuals face economic hardship related to coronavirus, the Department will continue to inform workers and help them avoid incurring unnecessary health costs.” Scalia added, “This change was prompted by a letter from members of Congress –Representatives Kevin Brady, Virginia Foxx, Richard Neal, Frank Pallone, Bobby Scott, and Greg Walden. We thank them for their attention to the issue.”

In general, COBRA allows employees (and their families) who would otherwise lose their group health coverage due to certain life events to continue their same group health coverage. These events include termination or reduction in hours, death of a covered employee, divorce or legal separation, Medicare entitlement and loss of dependent status. COBRA generally lasts for 18 months but, in some cases, can last up to 36 months.

Under COBRA, group health plans must also provide covered employees and their families with certain notices explaining their COBRA rights. The revised model notices provide additional information to address COBRA’s interaction with Medicare. The model notices explain that there may be advantages to enrolling in Medicare before, or instead of, electing COBRA. It also highlights that if an individual is eligible for both COBRA and Medicare, electing COBRA coverage may impact enrollment into Medicare as well as certain out-of-pocket costs.

These documents will provide important information to COBRA-eligible individuals as they make healthcare choices for themselves and their families while assisting employers that must comply with the notice requirements under COBRA.

EBSA’s mission is to assure the security of the retirement, health, and other workplace-related benefits of America’s workers and their families. EBSA accomplishes this by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers; and vigorously enforcing the law.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Source:  opens in a new windowU.S. Department of Labor News Release, May 1st, 2020

 

3D rendering of Covid-19 virus, World Map

Reopening after the Shutdown, HSA/HRA/FSA Expansion, EEOC Updates, Preventing Burnout and more…

opens in a new window04.23.2020 Benefits Info Resources Newsletter (link)

As you may know, a new federal law expands how members can use their Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs – Member Pay), and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). We have attached a brochure prepared by Anthem outlining these changes, but please know this information applies to any carrier.  As an employer, you don’t need to do anything to make this change effective.  Here are the highlights:

Members can now use these accounts to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that had previously required a prescription. They can also use the accounts to purchase menstrual products. This will help them save on health care costs because the funds in these accounts are pre-tax.

For now, members may need to pay for these items out of their pockets and file claims for reimbursement. They’ll need to keep their receipts for these purchases. All eligible purchases they make after December 31, 2019, qualify.

They’ll be able to use their debit cards soon. Retailers are updating their systems to accept the cards for newly-approved items. Some stores may be ready now for OTC medicines and by May 15 for menstrual products. Others may need several weeks for the update.

Other updates you will find in our most recent edition of the Crane Agency Benefits Info Newsletter include our Employer’s Guide to COVID-19, COVID-19 scenarios related to available benefits, Reopening a Business After the Shutdown, Guidance from EEOC on ADA, Preventing Remote Employee Burnout, and the Form 5500 Deadline Extension just to name a few.

For additional COVID-19 related resources, please visit our opens in a new windowCoronavirus Preparedness Resources (COVID-19) page.  As always, if we can be of service in any way, please do not hesitate to contact your Crane Agency Broker Team.  Until next time, stay safe and be well.

Workers’ Compensation FAQ – NCCI COVID-19 Classification & Payroll Changes for Furloughed and Reassigned Workers

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has received numerous questions in the last few weeks regarding COVID-19 and the impact it may have on the workers’ compensation industry.  This FAQ speaks specifically to recent changes related to furloughed and reassigned workers. 

  1. What can a business owner expect when workers are furloughed but still being paid?

The NCCI has proposed a new classification code – 0012. This code will apply to payroll for workers who have been laid off (furloughed) from their jobs but are still being paid. This is a change from the existing NCCI rule concerning “idle time,” which requires payroll to be included in the employee’s usual classification.

This new 0012 classification would not be included in the premium calculation (effectively a $0.00 rate), but the employer would be required to track this payroll in their accounting records as a separate item.  The percentage allocation of payroll would not be allowed.  Consult your Crane Agency Broker if you are paying employees who are not working to determine if your current policy can be adjusted now, or if the new classification will be applied during the audit process at the end of the policy term.

  1. My business has limited operations due to COVID-19. As a result, employee job assignments and duties have been changed.  Does this affect how my payroll is classified on my current policy?

The answer to this question is, “it depends” on the specific circumstances. The first thing to remember is that it is the overall nature of the business’s operations that are classified, not the activities of individual employees (unless they are in one of the standard exceptions such as clerical, outside sales or drivers, etc.)  Therefore, it may be that the new duties are still within the scope of the original policy’s classifications.

If the business operations have changed substantially, then a new classification may apply. For example, if your business is making beer, but you are now making a hand sanitizer, that may require a new classification. The new classification would be effective on the date the change in operations was made. Your Crane broker can assist in determining if a new classification is needed.

Remember that it is the employer’s obligation to maintain payroll records in a manner that accurately tracks payroll for the different classifications.

  1. Many of our employees are now working remotely from their homes. Does this result in a change of classification?

As with many aspects of the unique situation caused by COVID-19, the answer again is, “it depends.” Clerical employees who are now performing their duties from home might be switched from class code 8810 “Clerical” to class code 8871 “Clerical Telecommuter.”  Other employees, such as drivers or outside salespeople, would remain in their existing classification, as would construction workers or repair service employees.

Note that if an employee’s residence is in a different state from their usual work location, the employer will want to add that state to section 3.A. of their workers’ compensation declarations page if it is not already shown in the policy declarations.

As with any rapidly changing topic, please visit the NCCI website for current guidance and the most recent updates related to COVID-19.  If you should have questions about your specific policy, please contact your Crane Agency Broker Unit to discuss the options available for your business.

Other Helpful Resources:

Edition Date:  04/20/2020

OSHA Considers Good Faith Efforts When Enforcing Compliance During Pandemic

U.S. Department of Labor  |  April 16, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor Considers Employer’s Good Faith Efforts When Enforcing Compliance During Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued opens in a new windowinterim guidance to advise compliance safety and health officers to evaluate an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards during the coronavirus pandemic.

Current infection control practices may limit the availability of employees, consultants, or contractors who normally provide training, auditing, equipment inspections, testing, and other essential safety and industrial hygiene services. Business closures and other restrictions may also preclude employee participation in training if trainers are unavailable and access to medical testing facilities may be limited or suspended.

During an inspection, compliance safety and health officers should assess an employer’s efforts to comply with standards that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training or assessments. Officers should evaluate if the employer:

  • Explored all options to comply with applicable standards (e.g., use of virtual training or remote communication strategies);
  • Implemented interim alternative protections, such as engineering or administrative controls; and
  • Rescheduled required annual activity as soon as possible.

Employers unable to comply with OSHA requirements because local authorities required the workplace to close should demonstrate a good faith attempt to meet applicable requirements as soon as possible following the re-opening of the workplace.

OSHA will take employers’ attempts to comply in good faith into strong consideration when determining whether it cites a violation. The agency may issue a citation if it finds an employer cannot demonstrate any efforts to comply. To ensure corrective actions employers have taken once normal activities resume, OSHA will develop a program to conduct monitoring inspections from a randomized sampling of cases where the agency noted, but did not cite, violations.

This guidance takes effect immediately, and remains in effect until further notice. It is time-limited interim guidance in effect due to the current public health crisis. Visit OSHA’s opens in a new windowCOVID-19 webpage frequently for updates.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit opens in a new windowwww.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

For more information, please contact your Crane Agency Broker Unit.

###

Media Contacts:

Emily Weeks, weeks.emily.c@dol.govcreate new email

Release Number: 20-625-NAT

Coronavirus Preparedness Resources (COVID-19)

To help our clients stay informed, Crane Agency has created a Coronavirus Preparedness Resources page to answer your most frequently asked questions.  Many of our carriers have also made a variety of COVID-19 Resources available to assist clients during these uncertain times.  We have included links to their websites below:

Business Insurance – COVID-19 Resources by Carrieropens PDF file (download)

opens in a new windowEmployee Benefits Insurance – COVID-19 Resources by Carrieropens PDF file (download)

opens in a new windowPersonal Insurance – COVID-19 Resources by Carrieropens PDF file (download)

Please visit our blog for the latest Crane Agency updates, FAQs, and additional information related to COVID-19.  We have also provided many additional resources below.  For specific questions about your account, please contact your Crane Agency Broker Team. 


Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

         

What you need to know:  Take steps to care for yourself and help protect others in your home and community.

– Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

Watch for Symptoms:  People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.  Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.  People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

-Fever or chills
-Cough
-Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
-Fatigue
-Muscle or body aches
-Headache
-New loss of taste or smell
-Sore throat
-Congestion or runny nose
-Nausea or vomiting
-Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms.  The CDC has also provided a “ opens in a new windowCoronavirus Self-Checker, as a useful guide to help make decisions on when to seek testing and appropriate medical care.  This tool can be found on the CDC website on the “ opens in a new windowSymptoms of Coronavirus” page and will be updated as they learn more about COVID-19.

Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.  Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat by following the CDC’s most recent recommendations on opens in a new windowHow to Protect Yourself & Others.

Other Helpful Resources from the CDC:
opens in a new windowCases in the U.S.
opens in a new windowGuidance Documents
opens in a new windowCommunication Resources
opens in a new windowCDC Print Resources


COVID-19 Federal Legislation

opens in a new windowFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) took effect on April 1, 2020, and provides eligible workers with paid leave for reasons related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Covered employers should post notice of the FFCRA requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. A copy of the notification is linked below, along with a link to the US Department of Labor website, which provides additional guidance on paid leave requirements related to COVID-19.  We have also provided an FFCRA Compliance Bulletin, which includes frequently asked questions issued by the DOL to assist employers and employees on their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA, as well as a resource on the US Chamber website that outlines what businesses need to know.

opens in a new windowU.S. Department of Labor – COVID-19 and the American Workplace

opens in a new windowUS Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and other EEO Laws

opens in a new windowU.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission- Coronavirus and COVID-19

opens in a new windowUS Chamber – FFCRA:  What Businesses Need to Know

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes two new significant paid leave laws:  (1) the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, and (2) the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.  Both statutes address absences from work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Both provisions are effective April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)
 This act creates a new form of FMLA leave covering up to 12 weeks of an eligible employee’s inability to work or telework “due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.”

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)
Employees covered under the EPSLA are entitled to paid leave for several different types of absences related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
– Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
– Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19
– Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis
– caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2)
– Is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons
– Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Due to the speed at which these laws were enacted, the US Department of Labor has created a Q&A page to address questions and provide additional guidance:

opens in a new windowUS Department of Labor – Families First Coronavirus Response Act Q&A

For the latest information, we have also included a link to the US DOL News Releases page and Blog:

opens in a new windowUS Department of Labor – News Releases

opens in a new windowUS Department of Labor Blog

opens in a new windowCoronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

With a massive $2 trillion allocated for businesses, individuals, federal agencies, and state and local governments, the CARES Act is designed to distribute capital quickly and broadly.  Below you will find links to additional information, along with a few attachments, that may help covered businesses access the additional resources available through the recently passed stimulus package:

opens in a new windowUS Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

opens in a new windowThe Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Actopens PDF file  (download)

opens in a new windowUS Chamber – Resources & Relief Info for Small Business

opens in a new windowUS Chamber – What Small Businesses Need to Know

opens in a new windowUS Chamber – Cares Act Small Business Guide & Emergency Loan Checklistopens PDF file

Other Helpful Resources:

opens in a new windowCoronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act – Crane Agency Blog (04.08.2020)
opens in a new windowThe Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) – Crane Agency Blog (04.08.2020)
opens in a new windowFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act Q&A – Crane Agency Blogopens PDF file (03.31.2020)
opens in a new windowState Quarantine and Isolation Statutes (National Conference of State Legislatures)
opens in a new windowState Action on Coronavirus – COVID-19 Related Legislation (National Conference of State Legislatures)


opens in a new windowCOVID-19 Reopening Guidance and “Show Me Strong” Recovery Plan Microsite

This microsite includes reopening guidance for businesses, including resources at the federal, state, and local levels.


Employee Benefits COVID-19 Helpful Resources:

Many of our carriers have made available a variety of  COVID-19 Resources to assist clients during these uncertain times. We have included links to their websites below:

opens in a new windowAetna – What You Need to Know About COVID-19
opens in a new windowAnthem – Coronavirus Resources Center

opens in a new windowBlue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois – Alerts & Announcements
opens in a new windowCigna – Coronavirus Resource Center
opens in a new windowUnited Healthcare – COVID-19

Monthly Wellness Newsletter and Benefits Info Updates:

opens in a new windowJanuary 2021 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates
This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates including Reminders of the Importance of Focusing on Employee Mental Health, FAQ from Final Rule on Tip Regulations, COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage, an Attraction and Retention Newsletter, and Highlights of the Stimulus Bill including Special Rules for FSA’s. The FSA rules are very important to pay attention to as the Act provides temporary special rules for health and dependent care FSA’s that would give employees additional time to use these funds.

opens in a new windowDecember 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates
This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates including a 2021 Benefit Limit Infographic, Sample Beneficiary Update Form, Impact of a Biden Presidency on HR/Workplace topics, Ways to Manage Remote Workers & a reminder of the Catch-up Provision as it relates to OT Exempt Workers.

opens in a new window12/21/2020 – Emergency Stimulus Package Update
On Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, Congress passed an emergency stimulus package designed to deliver approximately $900 billion in COVID-19-related aid. Notably, the bill provides funding for unemployment benefits, small businesses, direct economic payments to individuals, vaccine distribution and rental assistance. This article provides an overview of what is included within the emergency relief bill.

opens in a new windowNovember 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates
This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates including A Recent Ruling on Transparency as it relates to Healthcare, Updates to Annual Limits, Ways to Stay Connected During WFH, 2021 Minimum Wage Rates, the 2020 Annual Health Survey and a final Compliance Checklist for 2021.

opens in a new windowOctober 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates
This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates including Tips for Open Enrollment during COVID times, Recognizing Requests for ADA Accommodation, Supporting Employee Behavioral Health, Updates to State Leave Requirements, Combating Pandemic Fatigue, Updates to DOL FAQ’s on Employee Leave Under FFCRA among others.

opens in a new windowSeptember 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates
This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates related to IRS Guidance on Payroll Tax Deferment (which starts today for those willing to participate), Strategies to Reduce Benefits Costs, Open Enrollment Notices, ACA Pay or Play Penalties, Encouraging Employees to Take PTO and DOL Guidance on Tracking Hours for Remote Workers.

opens in a new windowAugust 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates
This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates related to COVID-19, Remote Working, Cholesterol Awareness, Affordability Percentages, Stress Management, FMLA Forms, & Virtual Benefit Fairs.  We have also included our August Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz.

opens in a new window08.11.2020 – Pandemic Relief Update
On Aug. 8, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order and three memorandums to address pandemic relief in response to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. After ongoing negotiations for a relief package between the White House and lawmakers collapsed, the executive actions extend pandemic unemployment benefits, student loan payment deferrals, eviction protections for renters, and payroll tax cuts. The linked News Brief explains further.

opens in a new windowJuly 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates
There are a number of updates related to COVID-19, Returning to Work, PCORI fees, OSHA Guidance, FLSA, & FFCRA Leave included on this update.  We have also included our July Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz.

opens in a new window06.04.2020 – Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020
Congress has passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, which is a bill that provides borrowers with greater flexibility in spending Paycheck Protection Program funds without compromising forgiveness eligibility. The bill has been sent to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law. This In the Know article provides an overview of the bill.

opens in a new windowJune 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates
Updates include Common Employment Practices Claims Arising Out of COVID-19, Guidance for handling the influx of remote work requests as offices and work sites reopen, HSA/HDHP Limits Increase for 2021, Guidance for creating and maintaining a strong company culture in the remote workplace, COVID-19 Guidance for Section 125 Mid-year Election Change Rules, Exploring options to help employees manage their chronic conditions during these uncertain times, an Employee Welcome Back Packet (which requires customization on your end to make this specific to your situation/company) & a Welcome Back to Work letter.  We have also included our June Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz.

opens in a new window05.11.2020 – DOL Issues Emergency Extensions to Cobra
On May 7, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued additional answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how employers should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. The additional FAQs were added to guidance that the EEOC originally issued on March 18, 2020, and updated on April 9, 17, and 23, 2020. The attached HR Compliance Bulletin contains the EEOC’s FAQs.  Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, employees may have questions about their dependent care benefits, including whether they can make changes to their pre-tax contributions. The attached Compliance Bulletin highlights key legal rules for dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs) and summarizes how the rules apply to employees impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.   

On May 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued new model notices that group health plans may use to use to comply with COBRA notification requirements.  Use of the models is not mandatory but considered to be good-faith compliance with COBRA’s content requirements. As explained in a set of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) the DOL also issued on May 1, 2020, the updated model notices aim to help qualified beneficiaries better understand the interactions between Medicare and COBRA.  The notices can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra

Other updates include our Sample Return to Work Action Plan Discussion Guide, Post-Coronavirus Workplace Preparedness Checklist, Post-Coronavirus Workplace Preparedness Checklist, our HR Toolkit focused on Onboarding Remote Employees & a Guide to Creating a Return to Work Action Plan.

opens in a new windowMay 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates

opens in a new window04.23.2020 – Crane Agency Benefits Info Update
Reopening after the Shutdown, HSA/HRA/FSA Expansion, EEOC Updates, Preventing Burnout, and more…

opens in a new windowHR Tool Kit – Employers Guide to COVID-19opens WORD file

04.22.2020 – Benefits Accounts & High Deductible Health Plans

Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts
If you have an HSA or  FSA, you can now purchase over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medications without the need for a prescription.  Feminine hygiene products have also been deemed qualified medical expenses and can be purchased with both HSA and FSA funds.  Both are permanent changes to the eligible expenses list and include retroactive purchases made after 12/31/2019.  Retailers are updating their systems so you may need to pay out-of-pocket for these expenses and file claims for reimbursement so please keep your receipts.

HDHP (HSA Medical)
The IRS announced (Notice 2020-15) that High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) can cover the cost of testing and treating of COVID-19 before participants have met their deductible without losing the plan’s status as an HDHP.  This means individuals enrolled in an HSA that covers the cost of COVID-19 related expenses will remain eligible to make tax-advantaged contributions to their Health Savings Account (HSA).

opens in a new windowApril 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates

opens in a new window03.27.2020 – Crane Agency Benefits Info Update
Understanding the Stimulus, Remote Work Ergonomics and Managing Remote Employees Quick Guide, Safe Grocery Shopping Tips & the FFCRA

opens in a new window03.25.2020 – Crane Agency Benefits Info Update
FFCRA FAQ, the CARES Act Stimulus Package, Employee Compensation and On-Boarding Remotely

opens in a new window03.24.2020 – Crane Agency Benefits Info Update
State Protections, IRS Guidance on Paid Leave Tax Credits, Student Loan Deferrals, and HIPPA Privacy Rule

opens in a new window03.21.2020 – Crane Agency BenefitsInfo Update
Anthem COVID-19 FAQ, Coronavirus Relief Laws, HIPPA and COVID-19, Tax Day, Telemedicine and a Wellness Toolkit for Mental Health

opens in a new window03.18.2020 – Crane Agency BenefitsInfo Update
Coronavirus Aid Package, Easing Employee Stress, Carrier Updates and FAQ’s, All Savers Healthiest You (UHC)

opens in a new window03.16.2020 – Crane Agency BenefitsInfo Update
OSHA Guidance on COVID-19, Relief Bill, CDC Interim COVID-19 Guidance on Gatherings, DOL FAQ’s, COVID-19 Employee Communication Letter and a WFH Guide

opens in a new window03/11/2020 – Crane Agency Benefits Info Update
IRS HDHPs Update, WHO Declares COVID-19 a Pandemic, DOL Guidance on COVID-19 and FMLA, Wash Your Hands, CDC FAQ and Protecting Workers’ from a Pandemic (OSHA).

Other Helpful Resources:

opens in a new windowAnders CPAs & Advisors
opens in a new windowEyeMed
opens in a new windowGuardian
opens in a new windowLincoln Financial Group
opens in a new windowMetLife
opens in a new windowMutual of Omaha
opens in a new windowPrincipal
opens in a new windowReliance Standard
opens in a new windowSunLife
opens in a new windowThe Hartford
opens in a new windowThe Standard
opens in a new windowUnum
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Crane Agency Quality Control & Risk Management COVID-19 FAQ and Helpful Resources:

opens in a new windowCrane Risk Management COVID-19 FAQ’s and Helpful Resources opens PDF file  (download)

opens in a new windowKey Recommendations for Employee Safetyopens PDF file
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. What advice should I provide to employees and school faculty on limiting the spread of COVID-19?
  2. What tips for keeping people safe at home?
  3. What can the transportation industry do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

opens in a new windowCDC Recommendations on How to Protect Yourself
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. What are the steps that an individual can take to avoid contracting COVID-19?
  2. How can I protect others from COVID-19?
  3. When should a person wear a facemask?
  4. What are the latest updates on COVID-19?
  5. How can schools, healthcare professionals, healthcare facilities, health departments, and laborites prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The CDC has also created a “ opens in a new windowCoronavirus Self-Checker, as a useful guide to help employees make decisions on when to seek testing and appropriate medical care.

 

This tool can be found on the CDC website on the “ opens in a new windowSymptoms of Coronavirus” page and will be updated as they learn more about COVID-19.  Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.  Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat by following the CDC’s most recent recommendations on opens in a new windowHow to Protect Yourself & Others.

opens in a new windowEmployee Rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) Posteropens PDF file
US Department of Labor

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. What are an employee’s paid leave entitlements?
  2. Which employees are eligible for the act?
  3. What are the qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19?
  4. How will the act be enforced?

opens in a new windowOSHA Publication on Preparing Your Workplace for COVID-19opens PDF file
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (US Department of Labor)

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. How does the COVID-19 outbreak affect workplaces?
  2. What are the steps an employer can take to reduce exposure to COVID-19?
  3. Which jobs are classified as low risk, medium risk, and high risk?
  4. How do I protect workers living abroad or traveling internationally?

opens in a new windowOSHA’s COVID-19 Main Webpage
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (US Department of Labor)

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. How does COVID-19 spread and which workers are at risk?
  2. What are some potential sources of COVID-19 exposure?
  3. What makes COVID-19 different from other coronaviruses?
  4. How is COVID-19 diagnosed and treated?
  5. What are the control and prevention techniques for different industries?

opens in a new windowOSHA Guidance on Standards Applying to COVID-19
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (US Department of Labor)

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. Which federal OSHA standards apply to protect employees from COVID-19?
  2. Which state OSHA standards apply to protect employees from COVID-19?
  3. What are the workers’ rights and responsibilities in relation to COVID-19?

opens in a new windowCOVID-19 and the American Workplace
United States Department of Labor

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?
  2. How does the FFCRA apply to my business?
  3. How does the COVID-19 outbreak intersect with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
  4. How does COVID-19 intersect with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLCA)?

opens in a new windowCOVID-19 Sample Jobsite Safety Planopens WORD file
National Association of Home Builders

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. What are the responsibilities of construction managers and supervisors regarding COVID-19?
  2. What are the responsibilities of construction employees regarding COVID-19?
  3. What are the protective measures that should be taken at a job site?
  4. What steps should be taken to clean and disinfect a job site?
  5. What are the steps that should be taken if an employee tests positive for COVID-10?
  6. What are the steps that should be taken if an employee has close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19?

opens in a new windowDaily Questionnaire for Jobsite Employees and Visitors
Missouri Chapter – The Construction Association
Provides guidance on the following question (Scroll down to the “Daily Questionnaire” on the left)

  1. What form can I give to employees and visitors entering a job site that covers their potential exposure to COVID-19?

opens in a new windowDisaster Loan Assistance / COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application
US Small Business Administration

Provides guidance on the following question:

  1. Where can I get information on COVID -19 disaster loan assistance and the application?

opens in a new windowDisaster Information Management Research Center Database – Disaster Lit®
National Institute of Health and National Library of Medicine

Provides guidance on the following question:

  1. Where can I find a database of information on COVID-19 and other national disasters?
  2. Where can I get information on the latest research and fact sheets?

opens in a new windowMissouri Department of Health and Senior Services
MO Department of Labor (Missouri COVID -19 information hotline: 877-435-8411)

Provides guidance on the following question:

  1. Where can I get information on Missouri COVID-19 test sites?

opens in a new windowCOVID-19 FAQ’s for Business & Workers
Department of Labor & Industrial Relations

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. Where can I get guidance on Federal Legislation impacting an individual’s situation at work?
  2. Where can I get information about unemployment for my business?
  3. Where can I get information about unemployment for my employees?
  4. Where can I get information about Workers’ Compensation?
  5. Where can I get information about discrimination?

opens in a new windowMine Safety and Health Administration Response to COVID -19
US Department of Labor (Mine Safety & Health Administration – MSHA)

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. What should mine operators and miners do?
  2. How does this affect employee training requirements?

opens in a new windowCrane Agency Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 FAQ
Crane Agency Blog

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. What do insurance policies cover regard COVID-19?
  2. What will my property insurance coverage provide?
  3. What will my general liability, umbrella, or excess liability coverage provide?
  4. What will my pollution/environmental policy cover?
  5. What will my workers’ compensation policy cover?
  6. What other policies might respond?
  7. What are the non-insurance issues I should consider?

opens in a new windowCrane Agency OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
Crane Agency Blog

Provides guidance on the following questions:

  1. Where can I find guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19?
  2. Where can I find additional information on Health & Safety Topics related to COVID-19?

National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI)

opens in a new windowImpact of COVID-19 on Workers’ Compensation Insurance (Video)
NCCI and the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) held a live webinar on the impact of COVID-19 and workers compensation. Experts discussed top-of-mind issues and reviewed important tools and resources that support informed decision-making for the industry.  View the video below to see highlights from the webinar.

opens in a new windowCOVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation:  What You Need to Know

opens in a new windowNCCI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

opens in a new windowNCCI – Workers’ Compensation Legislative Activity

opens in a new windowNCCI Workers’ Compensation Insights – What’s Trending


Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA)

OSHA has also created a opens in a new windowwebpage on the US Department of Labor website with information for workers and employers about the evolving coronavirus outbreak.  The CDC has provided opens in a new windoweducational materials and interim guidance for opens in a new windowBusinesses and  opens in a new windowFamilies on their website.  Recommended strategies for employers to use now:

Actively encourage sick employees to stay home

  1. Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
  2. Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
  3. Talk with companies that provide your business with temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
  4. Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
  5. Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.

Separate sick employees

  1. CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).

Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees

  1. Place posters that encourage opens in a new windowstaying home when sick, opens in a new windowcough and sneeze etiquette, and opens in a new windowhand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other work areas where they are likely to be seen.
  2. Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
  3. Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
  4. Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
  5. Visit the  opens in a new windowcoughing and sneezing etiquette and  opens in a new windowclean hands webpage for more information.

Perform routine environmental cleaning

  1. Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
  2. No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
    Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.

Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps

  1. Check the opens in a new windowCDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found on the opens in a new windowCDC website.
  2. Advise employees to check themselves for opens in a new windowsymptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
  3. Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
  4. If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.

Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19

  1. Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for opens in a new windowhow to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
  2. If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for  opens in a new windowhow to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

Other Helpful Resources:

opens in a new windowConstruction Risk Insights – Protecting Your Workers From Coronavirusopens PDF file (download)

opens in a new windowOSHA Cornerstones – Q1 2020opens PDF file (download)

opens in a new windowOSHA Guidance on COVID-19opens PDF file (download)

opens in a new windowRisk Insights – Force Majeure and Coronavirusopens PDF file (download)

opens in a new windowRisk Insights – Protecting Workers from Coronavirusopens PDF file (download)


State and Local Websites:

opens in a new windowState Health Department Directory – CDC

opens in a new windowNational Directory of Local Health Departments

opens in a new windowMissouri Department of Health & Senior Services

opens in a new windowSTLOUIS-MO GOV (St. Louis City)

opens in a new windowSt. Louis County Missouri

opens in a new windowCity of Kansas City,  Missouri

opens in a new windowSpringfield – Greene County Health

opens in a new windowIllinois Department of Public Health


National Websites:

opens in a new windowCenters for Disease Control

opens in a new windowWorld Health Organization Website

opens in a new windowNational Institutes of Health – COVID-19 Landing Page

opens in a new windowNational Library of Medicine Database
Includes webinars and further instructions on a wide variety of topics

opens in a new windowNational Retail Federation – Coronavirus Resources for Retailers

opens in a new windowUS Department of Education COVID-19 Landing Page

opens in a new windowUS Department of Labor – COVID-19 and the American Workplace

opens in a new windowUS National Library of Medicine – Database for Disaster Medicine and Public Health

opens in a new windowUS Food & Drug Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Landing Page


We will continue to monitor current events, and provide updates as they become available.  For the latest information, please visit the opens in a new windowCrane Agency Blog and follow us on opens in a new windowLinkedIn, opens in a new windowTwitter and opens in a new windowFacebook.  As with any developing situation please consult local and governmental health agencies for the newest developments.


opens in a new windowCrane Agency Coronavirus Preparedness Archive

Stay At Home Guidance

Understanding the $2 Trillion Stimulus Package, Managing Remote Employees and more…

opens in a new window03.27.2020 – Benefits Info COVID-19 Resources Newsletter

If you need help understanding the 2 Trillion Dollar Stimulus Package, you are not alone.  In this update we have included a document that provides an overview of the package, which is designed to provide financial assistance for those struggling as a result of the coronavirus (COVD-19) outbreak.  Another attachment contains answers to questions employees may have about those payments.

COVID-19 has caused many employers across the country to make significant changes to their standard procedures, including shifting their employees from working at the office to working from home. We have prepared a guide to serve as an introduction to managing remote employees which includes best practices for keeping employees engaged. It should be used for informational purposes only and not be considered as legal advice.  You will also find a Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) Poster. Applicable employers should post and/or send employees electronically no later than April 2nd.

Finally, carriers continue to schedule webinars and FAQ’s as they attempt to keep us all posted on changes as a result of COVID-19. Here are a few you may consider:

Aetna has provided the latest information on their response and steps consumers should take to stay healthy through their opens in a new windowfrequently-updated COVID-19 resource center.

Anthem will host their next session at 12:00 p.m. (CST) on Tuesday, March 31. They will cover a variety of relevant topics and look to address many of the most common questions they are receiving. opens in a new windowPlease click this link to register for the event and save to your calendar.

Cigna Group Insurance has updated their opens in a new windowFrequently Asked Questions sheet with new information.

We have included the schedule below for the next round of COVID-19 Update Briefings for UnitedHealthcare brokers, consultants and customers.  Due to the fluidity of this situation, replays are not available for the external calls. UnitedHealthcare is committed to keeping its brokers, consultants, and employers informed, and they encourage attendance to the live weekly calls., which are scheduled as follows:

As always, if you have questions we have not addressed, please do not hesitate to contact your Crane Agency team member.  We hope you have a great weekend!

Families First FAQ and the Coronavirus Relief Bill

opens in a new window03.25.2020 – Benefits Info COVID-19 Resources Newsletter

We hope this post finds you well… here are some of the latest updates related to COVID-19.

Under the opens in a new windowFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), covered employers must post a notice of the FFCRA requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. The attached HR Compliance Bulletin includes frequently asked questions issued by the DOL on this notice requirement.

As business closures increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are faced with questions about compensation and health benefits coverage for their employees. Government relief measures may provide compensation for businesses and individuals in certain situations. In other cases, existing rules on employee rights will apply. The attached Compliance Overview provides a summary of the issues that employers may encounter when terminating or suspending employment due to COVID-19.

Please also be aware of a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) currently offered by the major medical providers.  UHC has published the details of their SEP which we have attached here.  Others have simply shared the range of dates.  In essence the medical carriers are affording plan administrators the ability to hold open enrollment for those who previously waived during the last open enrollment to join between now and early April (for example, April 3rd with Anthem or April 6th with UHC) to be effective April 1st.   Major medical carriers are also relaxing the requirement that eligible employees maintain 30+ hours per week to be eligible through at least the end of May for those who wish to maintain benefit eligibility.

If you have any questions, please contact your Crane Agency Service Team.  We are here for you and will keep you posted on major developments.  For the latest information and updates on COVID-19, please visit the  opens in a new windowCrane Agency Blog.  Be well.

COVID-19 Resources from Crane Agency

opens in a new window3.24.2020 Benefits Info COVID-19 Resources Newsletter 

Crane Agency continues to monitor the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and we are doing everything we can to assist you during these difficult times.  First and foremost, we hope this finds you and your families all doing well, remaining healthy and adjusting to your new work environments for those who are now working remotely.  Here are some of the latest updates we have prepared in response to this fluid situation.   As we await word from Washington regarding the latest proposal for a COVID-19 Relief Bill, we will share some resources we have available now:

Upcoming webinars:

Resource Centers:

For the latest information and updates on COVID-19, please visit the opens in a new windowCrane Agency Blog.