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R&R Insurance Blog

ACA Affordability Percentages Will Increase for 2019

Posted by Pete Frittitta

Wed, Aug 01, 2018 @ 01:53 PM

ACA Affordability Percentages will IncreaseThe IRS recently issued a Revenue Procedure to index the medical insurance premium contribution percentages used to determine the affordability of an employer’s plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These updated affordability percentages are effective for taxable years and plan years beginning Jan. 1, 2019. For plan years beginning in 2019, employer-sponsored coverage will be considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage does not exceed 9.86 percent of the employee’s household income for the tax year. This is for purposes of both the “play or pay” rules and premium tax credit eligibility.

This represents a significant increase from the affordability contribution percentage for 2018. The 2018 affordability percentage for the “play or pay” rules and premium tax credit eligibility was 9.56 percent. As a result, some employers may have additional flexibility with respect to their employee contributions for 2019 to meet the adjusted percentage. For more guidance on this and other compliance topics, contact a KnowledgeBroker.

Topics: Affordable Care Act

Prevent Heat Illness With OSHA's Heat Safety App

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Wed, Aug 01, 2018 @ 01:48 PM

OSHAWhile it may be mid-summer, there are plenty of hot days ahead of us. And studies show that working in direct sunlight can increase the heat index by 15 degrees. If you or your employees are working in the heat, OSHA's Heat Safety App is an important one to have at your fingertips.

According to OSHA, the App allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and based on the heat index, display a risk level to workers.

With a simple click, you can also receive reminders about:

  • Protective measures that should be taken at specific risk levels
  • Drinking enough fluids
  • Scheduling rest breaks
  • Planning for emergencies
  • Adjusting work operations
  • Monitoring each other for symptoms of heat-related issues

Click here for more information about OSHA's App and for download instructions.

Topics: OSHA

Water Leaks: The Number One Loss When Going on Vacation

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Tue, Jul 17, 2018 @ 11:58 AM

house180% of Homeowners Overlook Costly Water Leak Exposure When Heading on Vacation

A study by Chubb Insurance shows that while on vacation, just 19% of homeowners view internal water leak damage as the most concerning threat to their home, despite the fact that water leaks are a more frequent risk than fire and theft. Homeowners are particularly vulnerable during summer travel season.

According to Chubb, "the time between when a leak occurs and when it is discovered is the single greatest factor in determining the amount of damage. As a result, leaks that occur while you're away result in greater amounts of damage in terms of both cost and severity."

Water damage claims have been rising over the last few years as well. In the last 10 years, the frequency of pipe bursts has nearly doubled. In addition to the increase in leaks, 90% of homeowners rate themselves as "vigilant" at preventative home maintenance, yet only 22% shut off the water main before heading out of town.

Before leaving on your next vacation, here are quick steps to properly protect your property:

  1. Be sure all appliances and hoses are in good working condition
  2. Inspect your sump pump 
  3. Have your gutters cleared of debris
  4. Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house
  5. Install a water leak detection device
  6. Add a yellow tag to your water main shut off valve in case of a water emergency. Click here to receive free tags from us!

To learn more about water leak damage and protecting your home, view the following infographic, "Don't Get Water Logged" or contact a KnowledgeBroker.

Topics: Personal Insurance, Personal Lines, water damage

Summer is Peak Season for Lightning

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Mon, Jul 16, 2018 @ 04:47 PM

iStock-908647482Summer in Wisconsin is filled with a wide range of temperatures, which can lead to severe storms. While many of us enjoy a good summer storm and the lightning show that comes along with it, we can't forget how dangerous they can be.

In May of 2018, the National Weather Service reported two fatalities from lightning strikes, including a field worker and a child playing underneath a tree.

According to AAA, lightning can strike up to 15 miles from thunderstorms - even when skies are clear. If you hear thunder, slow rumbles, or loud cracks, lightning is close enough to strike you or your home. In recent years, the average cost of lightning damage to a home was $7,639.

Our partners at West Bend Mutual provided the following tips for Lightning Safety.

Real Life Example:
Ted Marino, resident of Brookfield, WI and an R&R customer since 1984, explains the peace-of-mind he had immediately after his home caught fire from a lightning strike during a storm in 2010. Ted and Chris escaped without harm, but their house was another story...

For additional resources to protect your personal assets from storm damage, contact a KnowledgeBroker at R&R.

 

Why Trade Contractors Need Pollution Liability

Posted by Dan Scheider

Thu, Jul 12, 2018 @ 02:34 PM

iStock-642235496Pollution liability policies are only for contractors involved in environmental or pollution cleanup … or so goes the common perception in the construction industry.

The truth is a trade contractor without a pollution policy actually has a serious coverage gap when it comes to mold, bacteria, asbestos, silica, and lead.

Insurance carriers, always adverse to risk, write General liability policies with exclusions specifically for the aforementioned substances. It would instead be the Contractor’s Pollution Liability policy picking up the tab for bodily injury and property damage claims involving these often overlooked pollution conditions. 

Just about every contractor has some exposure to these elements:

  • Plumbers have exposures to category 3 water (the water in drain pipes), mold, and bacteria. When the plumber’s work goes wrong, water damage caused by leaking pipes can lead to mold growth. A claim from a bystander alleging his quality of life was impaired due to the bacteria-abundant “category 3 water” would be excluded from a general liability policy.
  • HVAC Contractors need worry about mold, bacteria, and legionella. Condensation in HVAC systems generally is the culprit in mold/legionella issues. Should your company have installed an HVAC system with too much humidity resulting in mold, claims arising out of the bodily injury (or even claims from the mere worry of bodily injury) would be excluded from a general liability policy.
  • Roofing Contractors have exposure to mold, lead, and asbestos. Working on older buildings increases the chance of lead and asbestos exposure. Even a simple defect in the installation or repair of a roof could cause a large pollution related loss – i.e. a leaky roof resulting in mold growth. Costs associated with locating and removing mold can be extensive as the structure needs to be thoroughly inspected.
  • Electricians are not exempt either from pollution liability and have similar exposure to mold, lead, and asbestos. Imagine a contractor running wire above a ceiling and stepping on a sprinkler pipe hidden by insulation. Should water damage result in mold growth, a general liability policy would not be your go-to. Like a roofer, work on older buildings increases the chances of lead and asbestos exposure.

Some Insurance carriers offer limited scope pollution endorsements. These endorsements do not compare in scope of coverage to a properly designed contractors pollution liability policy. After a loss, it’s too late to find out if a limited scope pollution endorsement provides enough coverage.

Should you have any further questions on potential coverage gaps in your current policy, talk to your Commercial Insurance Agent or shoot me an email.

Understanding Medical Reserves

Posted by Mike Geldreich

Mon, Jul 02, 2018 @ 10:47 AM

75Over the years, R&R Insurance has designed a proven 7-step method to successfully manage workers compensation programs. Our Professional Services have become experts in analyzing medical reserve dollars and can clearly articulate how insurance companies determine the numbers. By knowing market trends, carrier calculations, and your own unique situation, there are dollars to gain.

Wisconsin is one of the top 2 states in the country with the highest medical costs. Nearly 25 years ago, medical costs were 40% of work comp claims. Today, medical claims average 75% of total work comp claims. To put things into perspective, below are average rates based on five insurance carriers:

  • Meniscus tear: $30,000 - $40,000
  • Knee replacement: $60,000 - $100,000
  • ACL repair: $45,000 - $55,000

This shift in costs can be directly correlated to several things:

  • Healthcare uncertainty in last 10 years
  • Affordable Care Act
  • Shifting costs in workers compensation
  • Lack of fee schedule in Wisconsin
  • Diagnostics
  • Actuarial pressures

So what can companies do to start minimizing medical only work comp claims? One of the more effective solutions is the integration of safety and wellness (or what R&R calls WellCompForLife). By cohesively utilizing these committees, companies are able to collectively share resources and ultimately reduce the total insurance spend.  By creating a behavioral change, employees will remain healthy and money will be added back to the bottom line.

To learn more about R&R's proven model, contact a member of our Professional Services.

OSHA 300 Log Electronic Reporting Deadline: July 1, 2018

Posted by John Brengosz

Mon, Jun 25, 2018 @ 04:44 PM

OSHA.jpgDeadline approaching: employers have until July 1, 2018 to submit their OSHA 300 log data electronically directly to OSHA.

Reporting Requirements
  • Companies with 20-249 employees and in select NAICS codes (primarily construction and manufacturing) need to submit their OSHA 300 data by July 1, 2018 for their 2017 OSHA 300 log totals. 

“Covered establishments with 250 or more employees are only required to provide their 2017 Form 300A summary data. OSHA is not accepting Form 300 and 301 information at this time. OSHA will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to reconsider, revise, or remove provisions of the "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injury" rule, including the collection of the Forms 300/301 data.

Covered establishments with 20-249 employees must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A." – www.osha.gov

Submission Year

 Establishments with 250 or More Employees

 Establishments with 20-249 Employees

 Submission Deadline

 2017

 Form 300A

 Form 300A

 July 1, 2018

2018

Forms 300A, 300, 301

Form 300A

March 2, 2019


How can we help?

The world of OSHA reporting can be complex and confusing, specifically when it comes to electronic reporting. R&R’s Professional Services team can help you navigate not only when to have your 300 submitted, but also what should be included on the log.  Many companies actually over-report injuries on their 300 log which results in inflated incident or Frequency rates.

We invite you to listen to a previously recorded webinar regarding OSHA 300 hosted by John Brengosz. For additional information and resources contact Safety@rrins.com.

Topics: OSHA

DOL Finalizes Rule to Expand Association Health Plans

Posted by R&R Insurance

Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 12:05 PM

Association Health PlansOn June 19, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a final rule that gives small businesses more freedom to join together as a single group to purchase health insurance in the large group market or to self-insure. These benefit arrangements are called association health plans (AHPs). The final rule allows working owners without other employees, such as sole proprietors and other self-employed individuals, to join AHPs.

The final rule allows employers to join together to form an AHP that is a single ERISA plan if either of the following requirements is satisfied:

  • The employers are in the same trade, industry, line of business or profession; or
  • The employers have a principal place of business within a region that does not exceed boundaries of the same state or the same metropolitan area (even if the metropolitan area includes more than one state).


Most AHPs will not be subject to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to include Essential Health Benefits (EHB), which requires small group plans to cover a core set of 10 major items and services, such as mental health care, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs and emergency services. Most AHPs will also be exempt from the ACA’s rating restrictions for the small group market, which means that AHPs may base premiums on factors such as age, industry and gender. The final rule requires AHPs to comply with certain consumer protections and anti-discrimination protections that apply to the large group market (learn more).

R&R will continue to keep you informed as we monitor developing guidance regarding AHPs and other benefits matters at the federal and state levels. For a more complete understanding of the new AHP rule, click here to read more.

Topics: Compliance, benefits

Best Practices for Hiring Minors

Posted by Jamie Vanderveldt

Thu, Jun 14, 2018 @ 04:04 PM

iStock-164526286With the employee shortage many companies are facing, attracting and retaining talent is critical. An untapped resource for many industries is younger talent – such as high school students. While minors can be a very valuable resource for employers, there are best practices to keep in mind so your organization continues operating safely and efficiently.

Wisconsin's employment of minors laws prohibit the use of certain potentially hazardous equipment by minors under the age of 18. Included on the list are jobs such as:

  • Motor vehicle driver and outside helper
  • Power driven fixed or portable machines
  • Roofing or on or about a roof
  • Use of ladders

Note: The list is not exhaustive. If you have questions about a particular piece of equipment, we encourage you to contact the Department's Equal Rights Division or visit the Department of Workforce Development’s website for specific definitions.

Additional considerations when employing minors:

  • Minors 15 and under may not be employed in "manufacturing, mining, or processing occupations." This includes occupations that require the performance of any duties in workrooms or workplaces where goods are manufactured, mined, or otherwise processed. See Wis. Admin. Code § DWD 270.13(13).
  • The Student Learner Exemption: A "student learner" is a student of an accredited school who is employed on a part–time basis to obtain both scholastic credit and employment training under a bona fide written school-work training program agreement.
  • A student learner is permitted to do some work that is otherwise prohibited if the student learner is performing service within a bona fide school-work training program
    • Sponsored by an accredited school
    • Authorized and approved by
      • The state department of public instruction,
      • The technical college system board, or
      • The department's youth apprenticeship program
  • Each school-work training agreement shall:
    • Include the name of the student learner;
    • Be signed by the parent, employer, and school principal;
    • Be kept on file by both the school and the employer; and
    • Shall provide all of the following:
      • That the work of the student learner in the occupation declared hazardous under ss. DWD 270.12 and 270.13 is incidental to the student learner's training, and shall be intermittent and only for short periods of time (i.e., for 5% or less of the total work hours);
      • Direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person.
      • Safety instructions will be given by the school and correlated by the employer with on-the-job training.
      • A schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed on the job.

 

In addition to equipment, there are other crucial elements to keep top of mind when hiring minors. A sample of these elements include:

  • Employees under the age of 16 need to have a Child Labor Work Permit signed by their parent/guardian. Employers must reimburse the $10 fee, as well as provide a letter for the employee to receive their Work Permit.
  • While the equipment list provided by the DWD is helpful, there is additional training that needs to be provided with each of the tasks or tools that minors will be using. Per OSHA, this training needs to be documented.
  • Cell phone policies are becoming increasingly important. From cell phone use while driving, to having social media accessible at employees’ fingertips, it’s important to outline the Dos and Don’ts.
    • Do phones need to be put away while driving?
    • When are phones allowed on the jobsite?
    • Can pictures with company logos be shared on social media?

 

R&R Insurance has numerous resources to help your organization attract, train, and attain young talent. To learn more, contact Jamie Vanderveldt.

National Safety Month | June

Posted by Maureen Joy

Fri, Jun 08, 2018 @ 08:23 AM

National Safety MonthAccording to the National Safety Council (NSC), June is National Safety Month and the focus is on reducing the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities. Throughout the month, the NSC will be providing weekly materials centered around the following topics:

  • Week 1: Emergency Preparedness
  • Week 2: Wellness
  • Week 3: Falls
  • Week 4: Driving

Below are additional ways to get engaged and continue expanding your safety culture:

Lastly, the NSC has provided the following list of ideas engage employees throughout the month:

  • Distribute the downloadable NSM materials*
  • Create bulletin boards, newsletters or blog posts
  • Hold a safety trivia contest with weekly prizes
  • Make an activity out of identifying hazards where you work and live
  • Throw a safety fair, lunch ‘n learn or celebratory luncheon
  • Encourage others to take the SafeAtWork pledge at nsc.org/workpledge
  • Share posts on your social media channels using #No1GetsHurt
  • Provide safety training — watch for special NSM discounts or free opportunities
  • Show you care about safety by making a donation to NSC

How is your organization taking part in National Safety Month? Contact safety@rrins.com for additional resources.

Topics: Health and Safety