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 , 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 .
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.
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.
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!
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.
This UPDATED FAQ covers the general topic of COVID-19 virus to explain how various insurance policies could respond to claim scenarios related to the COVID-19 virus. If your business experiences a loss, we recommend you submit a claim to your insurer. They will give their position about coverage under your policy. No one can say for certain what might happen in the future, but we always recommend insureds should submit a claim. As always, please contact your Crane Agency Service Team with any questions and check the opens in a new windowCrane Agency Blog frequently for updates.
Dear Valued Clients, Partners, and Friends:
At Crane Agency, serving the needs of our clients, employees and communities is at the heart of our mission and today, safety is our greatest concern. In accordance with CDC guidelines, we have limited all unnecessary face to face interaction within our organization. Effective March 17th, we began transitioning our staff to work from home, where we continue to be fully operational and committed to serving the needs of our clients.
Crane Agency has added a page to our website with additional resources to help you manage this crisis. We also encourage everyone to stay informed through trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Thank you for your continued partnership.
To reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers, and the public, it is important for all employers to plan now for COVID-19. For employers who have already planned for influenza pandemics, planning for COVID-19 may involve updating plans to address the specific exposure risks, sources of exposure, routes of transmission, and other unique characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., compared to pandemic influenza viruses). Employers who have not prepared for pandemic events should prepare themselves and their workers as far in advance as possible of potentially worsening outbreak conditions. Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges of COVID-19 with insufficient resources and workers who might not be adequately trained for jobs they may have to perform under pandemic conditions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed this COVID-19 planning guidance based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as considerations for doing so.
This guidance is intended for planning purposes. Employers and workers should use this planning guidance to help identify risk levels in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement. Additional guidance may be needed as COVID-19 outbreak conditions change, including as new information about the virus, its transmission, and impacts, becomes available.
opens in a new windowOSHA Health & Safety Topics COVID-19
opens in a new windowCDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
opens in a new windowWorld Health Organization Coronavirus Guidance
Crane Agency is proud to announce that we have been identified as one of St. Louis’ Top Workplaces for the 3rd year in a row.
How does a company make the Top Workplaces list? By inspiring employees. “Top Workplaces put the employee at the center of things and focus on creating the right environment to unleash potential and inspire performance,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage, the Post-Dispatch’s research partner for Top Workplaces.
For this year, 222 organizations agreed to take the survey. Combined, they employ 94,356 people in the St. Louis area. Of those employees who received questionnaires, 46,194 responded, either on paper or online. For this year’s winners list, 150 St. Louis-area employers earned recognition as Top Workplaces based on the employee feedback. The employee engagement survey of 24 questions gathers responses regarding issues relating to workplace culture:
Alignment – where the company is headed, its values, cooperation
Connection – employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful
Effectiveness – doing things efficiently and well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas
My Manager – cares about concerns, helps employees develop
Engagement – motivation, retention and recruiting
Leadership – confidence in company leaders
The Basics – pay, benefits, flexibility, training, expectations
Employees consistently rate issues of “connection” and “alignment” most important to them, while statements related to pay and benefits rate less important. Employers are ranked among groups of similar size to most accurately compare results. Within those size groupings, companies are ranked, and those that score high enough are recognized as Top Workplaces. Crane Agency came in at number 25 out of 55 in the “midsized” category. Midsized is defined as companies with 150 to 499 employees in the region.
For the complete article, please visit the STL Today website: opens in a new windowSt. Louis Post Dispatch 2019 Top Workplaces Announcement
Dave Linhardt – Chief Growth Officer
Crane Agency’s strategic vision for the future is growth. We are dedicated to supporting our existing Producers and expanding our geographical footprint throughout the Midwest. With that, I am excited to announce opens in a new windowDave Linhardt has been appointed as Crane’s new Chief Growth Officer. Dave will be responsible for seeking new growth opportunities by identifying reputable insurance agencies to join Crane, recruiting brokers who fit our entrepreneurial model and seeking other growth opportunities that will continue to increase our brand. In addition, Dave will be responsible for mentoring our newest Producers and providing sales support that will leverage our production teams to be the best in the industry. He will also help develop and support carrier relationships for our offices outside of St. Louis, as well as oversee Crane’s expansion into the Kansas City marketplace.
Dave brings more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry to his current position. Prior to joining Crane, he held the title of Regional Insurance President for Regions Insurance, an affiliate of Regions Bank. During his time at Regions, Dave led insurance operations in Arkansas and Texas that included managing 7 offices totaling $30 Million in revenue. Before joining Regions Insurance, Dave was Regional Vice President with Hartford and CNA. He was also Regional Director at Travelers. During his time with each carrier, Dave helped cultivate talented groups of sales and underwriting professionals with one goal in mind – achieving profitable growth in a positive and rewarding culture that promotes teamwork and accountability.
If you are an established Producer or Agency Owner interested in hearing more about joining Crane Agency, please reach out to Dave by email at or by phone at (636) 537-5011. Also, be sure to look for our ad in the May-June edition of opens in a new windowMO Agents Magazine.
Happy New Year! Welcome to the opens in a new windowJanuary 2019 edition of the Crane Agency Benefits Brief. This month you will find information on several legislative and compliance updates, which may impact your benefits program in 2019. These changes include updated minimum wage rates for 2019 and the EEOC’s removal of incentive limits from employer-sponsored Wellness Plans. In addition, we have provided an overview of Paid Family & Medical Leave laws recently enacted in MA, NY, WA & DC. In the HR Brief, we have provided some updated plan limits for 2019, along with tips to prepare for “Gen Z” entering the workforce. Finally, our Live Well, Work Well Newsletter provides health & wellness tips for your work and life in the coming year.
Thank you for your continued confidence in the Crane Agency Benefits Department. It is our pleasure to serve you. Please do not hesitate to contact your agent or service representative if we can be of assistance.