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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.

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.

OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

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 Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19opens PDF file

opens in a new windowOSHA Cornerstones – Q1 2020opens PDF file

Additional Resources:

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

 

Benefits Brief – January 2019

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.

We made the list! 2018 St. Louis Largest Employee Benefits Firms

For the 3rd year in a row, Crane Agency is proud to announce it has made the opens in a new windowSt. Louis Business Journal Largest Employee Benefits Firms list.

At Crane Agency, we know our clients benefits package is their #1 tool for attracting and retaining the best talent. Offering a strong benefits package shows employees that a company is not only invested in their health, but their future.  Our Employee Benefits team understands the importance of delivering timely service and simplifying the administrative process, so you can focus on what matters most… your business.

For more information, please contact us today.

Crane Agency – May Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief, Benefits Buzz

Welcome to our May Wellness Newsletter.  The opens in a new windowLive Well, Work Well newsletter opens PDF file is an employee newsletter that is produced monthly and covers topics like health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and personal finance.  This month’s issue discusses reasons to quit smoking today, offers tips for alleviating spring allergies and covers the importance of aging well as you near retirement.

You will also find attached this month’s opens in a new windowBenefits Buzzopens PDF file and opens in a new windowHR Briefopens PDF file .  This month’s opens in a new windowBenefits Buzzopens PDF file is already outdated with the passage of the AHCA today, but it provides an overview of the future of certain Affordable Care Act taxes and fees, explains the cost-saving potential of generic drugs and highlights the Department of Health and Human Services’ promotion of ACA Section 1332 waivers.   This month’s opens in a new windowHR Brief opens PDF file explains the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) plans to maintain its bipartisan strategic enforcement plan in the coming years, discusses President Donald Trump’s labor secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta, and his comments on the overtime rule, and highlights the highest increase in the quits rate since February 2001.

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 – April Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief, Benefits Buzz & Compliance Updates

Welcome to our April Wellness Newsletter.  The opens in a new windowLive Well, Work Well newsletter opens PDF file is an employee newsletter that is produced monthly and covers topics like health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and personal finance.  This month’s issue provides information on how phlegm can help fight off illnesses, lists tips on how to monitor rice intake to minimize arsenic consumption and highlights the importance of getting enough calcium.

You will also find attached this month’s opens in a new windowBenefits Buzzopens PDF file and opens in a new windowHR Briefopens PDF file .  This month’s opens in a new windowBenefits Buzzopens PDF file provides an overview of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and its implications, and explains the most recent extension to the existing transition policy for certain noncompliant health care plans under the Affordable Care Act.  This month’s opens in a new windowHR Brief opens PDF file discusses best practices for retirement preparation, explains the value of health literacy and provides insight about millennial retention.

On March 24, 2017, Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew the American Health Care Act – their proposed legislation to repeal and replace the ACA.  As a result, the ACA will remain in place at this time.  The attached opens in a new windowACA Compliance Bulletin opens PDF file provides an overview of the proposed legislation and the impact going forward.

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 – March Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief, Benefits Buzz & Compliance Updates

opens in a new windowCrane Agency – House Republicans Release ACA Replacement Planopens PDF file
opens in a new windowCrane Agency – Market Stabilization Proposed Rule Issuedopens PDF file
opens in a new windowMarch 2017 – Live Well Work Well Newsletteropens PDF file
opens in a new windowMarch 2017 – HR Brief – Crane Agencyopens PDF file
opens in a new windowMarch 2017 – Benefits Buzz – Crane Agencyopens PDF file

Please find attached your March 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 provides tax preparation tips, examines lowering workplace stress levels and lists tips for spring break travel plans.

You will also find attached this month’s Benefits Buzz and HR Brief.  This month’s Benefits Buzz looks ahead at what the ACA might look like under President Trump, discusses the challenges to becoming health care literate and explains block grants and their importance.   This month’s HR Brief gives an overview of company culture and its importance, provides an update on the status of the delayed overtime rule and briefly explains how the national average wage increase may impact your company.

In other news, we continue to receive a number of questions regarding the impact on Health Care Reform (PPACA) as a result of the Trump administration.  On February 15, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a proposed rule to help stabilize the individual and small group markets. It is the first example of how the Secretary of HHS may reduce the “economic burden” of the Affordable Care Act, as directed in the January 20, 2017 Executive Order issued by the White House. The proposed changes impact a number of existing regulations specific to individual and small group market plans, effective for the 2018 plan year.

The proposed rule does not directly impact large group or expatriate health plans, but rather intends to help stabilize the Health Insurance Marketplace, provide more flexibility to states and insurers, and give individual health plan consumers more coverage options. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the proposed changes aim to help protect enrollees in the individual and small group markets while future reforms are being debated.  We expect more details from the current administration this week and welcome any/all questions as your advisor.

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 – January Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz

opens in a new windowJan 2017 – Live Well Work Well Newsletteropens PDF file
opens in a new windowJan 2017 – Benefits Buzz – Crane Agencyopens PDF file
opens in a new windowJan 2017 – HR Brief – Crane Agencyopens PDF file

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Please find attached your January Wellness Newsletter from 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 a summary of how the New Year may impact your benefits, explains the difference between making a lifestyle change focused New Year’s resolution versus a quick change focused resolution and offers information on National Blood Donor Month.

You will also find attached this month’s Benefits Buzz and HR Brief.  This month’s Benefits Buzz discusses the latest developments with the overtime rule delay, highlights the delayed ACA reporting deadlines and provides a brief overview of President-elect Donald Trump’s plan for his first 100 days in office.  This month’s HR Brief explains the significance of the DOL overtime rule being blocked, offers suggestions for handling post-election tension in the office and provides insight for retaining millennial workers.

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.