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How a New Law Affects Group Health Plans & Cost Transparency

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The newly enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 contains a number of provisions that will affect group health plans, with most changes aimed at helping insured workers with flexible spending accounts (FSAs), cost transparency and surprise billing. Some of the provisions are permanent while others are temporary, slated to run through the anticipated end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights of The Consolidated Appropriations Act FSA carryover rules loosened The new law authorizes employers to amend their cafeteria plans and FSAs to either: Allow participating staff to carry over unused amounts from the 2020 plan year to the 2021 plan year (and…
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Leveraging HSAs to Help Your Staff Manage Health Care Costs

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

With the COVID-19 pandemic weighing on employers and employees alike, businesses can help their staff by leveraging health savings accounts to pay for out-of-pocket expenses. With increased flexibility from recent changes, more employees may see benefit from using an HSA. In 2020 congress untethered HSAs and flexible spending accounts by changing the rules that prohibited account holders from using the funds in their accounts for over-the-counter medicines and other non-prescription health products and services. That change, which is permanent, was done through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. HSAs are a great option to help employees save…
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Commissioner Rejects COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Surcharge

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

When California’s insurance commissioner in December ordered that the workers’ compensation benchmark rate for this year be cut 4.6% on average, he also rejected a recommendation that all policies be subject to a COVID-19 workers comp surcharge. When the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau made its rate filing for 2021, it also recommended that all policies in the state be subject to a COVID-19 workers comp surcharge that ranged from 1 cent per $100 of payroll for the least risky professions to 26 cents per $100 of payroll for the riskiest (such as health care workers). The Rating Bureau had…
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Why Every Business Needs Non-Owned Auto Coverage

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

Even businesses that own fleets of autos sometimes use vehicles that do not belong to them. Often, a business asks an employee to run an errand or visit a customer or vendor using that employee’s car. The organization may become legally liable for anything an employee acting on its behalf does while behind the wheel. Lawsuits and accompanying legal costs may confront the business if they have an accident. Many business automobile insurance policies cover this situation, but they do not do so automatically. This is why non-owned auto coverage is crucial. What Is Covered? The standard Insurance Services Office Business…
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COVID-19 Relief Bill Extends Unemployment Benefits, PPP and More

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, passed by Congress and signed into law on Dec. 27, includes a number of provisions that affect employers and their workers in terms of paid sick leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act provisions. The legislation also boosts unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans, as well as reopening and expanding the Paycheck Protection Program that was introduced in March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. What’s Inside the new COVID-19 Relief Bill? Paid sick leave and family medical leave The new law has not extended the obligation for…
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Your New Year Insurance Checklist

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

As 2021 gets underway and while you’re making New Year’s resolutions, you should also resolve to review the state of your business’s insurance program and we’ve made that easy with our new year insurance checklist. The best way to do that is to start by reviewing your enterprise’s activities in the past year and how they may affect your insurance policies in the new year. What you find as you go through the following checklist may surprise you. New Year Insurance Checklist Did your operations change last year? Workers’ compensation and commercial general liability (CGL) insurance premiums are based in…
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Law Imposes New COVID-19 Reporting Requirements

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

California employers already have a lot to digest after Cal/OSHA issued sweeping new safety regulations in November that include new COVID-19 reporting requirements, among other changes. Now they face additional requirements starting Jan. 1, 2021, thanks to a new law. AB 685 expands Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue stop-work orders to workplaces it deems a COVID-19 “imminent hazard.” It also requires employers to send notices to a number of parties (state agencies, local authorities, employees, contractors, and more) if they have coronavirus infections in any of their facilities. The law, which comes into effect on January 1, covers a lot of…
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Top 10 Laws and Regulations Affecting Employers in 2021

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Every year starts with a bevy of new laws and regulations affecting employers and businesses in California, and many of the new rules this time around are an outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on workers. Employers in California in the year ahead have a number of changes they have to contend with, some of which were enacted near the end of 2020 as emergency regulations or legislation. The following are the top 10 laws and regulations affecting employers in 2021. 1. COVID-19 workers’ compensation rules AB 1159, which took effect in September, is an expansive law requiring…
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Health Insurance Rates Mostly Holding Steady

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, personal and family health insurance rates are staying stable going into 2021. In fact, it’s the third year in a row of premiums barely moving in most areas, while the number of insurers writing policies in the personal market continues to grow. According to the ACAsignups.net website, which tracks enrollment, the average requested premium increase for 2021 is 2.1%, and in 18 states where regulators have approved rate hike requests, the average increase was just 0.4%. Under Affordable Care Act rules, each summer insurers must file proposed rates for the next year with the states they operate…
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California’s COVID-19 Tracking Requirement Challenges Employers

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SB 1159, signed into law in September, requires that when a California employer “knows or reasonably should know” that an employee has tested positive for coronavirus, it must report that positive case to its workers’ compensation carrier within three business days along with other COVID-19 tracking requirements. There is a lot of ground to cover in these reports and the legislation was passed without much publicity, so many employers may not even know about their obligations. And that could cost them: the fine for non-compliance is $10,000 per incident. The law goes further than merely reporting a positive case: The…
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