Dear Valued Customer,
As Fritz, the Getman family’s Elf on the Shelf, begins making holiday magic, and we recover from our Thanksgiving feast, I find myself reflecting, as I usually do this time of year. I’m reminded how many things I have to be grateful for, both personally and professionally, and I would be remiss if I didn’t first express my heartfelt gratitude for entrusting us with your business. We understand that the marketplace provides many options, and we are thankful for the opportunity to service your insurance needs.
To that end, I warmly welcome you to our first issue of Brown & Brown Northwest Insurance’s newsletter. Our leadership team recognizes that we live in a dynamic world, where assessing risk and complying with ever-changing laws, not to mention maintaining compliance with ACA (Affordable Care Act) reporting requirements, is an ongoing activity. We are excited to provide you with this additional tool that you will receive quarterly.
Earlier this year, we filmed a commercial and our tag line was, “You earn it, we protect it.” We take that responsibility very seriously, and we hope you will take a moment to peruse the information in our newsletter and reach out to your broker with questions.
Wishing you and yours health, peace and prosperity this holiday season and always!
State of the Insurance Market
Insurance industry reports forecast positively in 2017 for buyers of property, casualty and other lines of commercial insurance. Overall rates are estimated to be near flat due to relatively low industry-wide losses in 2016. Auto insurance may continue to see slight rate increases as this line of business continues to have the highest loss ratios nationally. Businesses that focus on having a comprehensive risk management program and strategic planning stand to yield more favorable pricing than others.
In regards to workers compensation, the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), reported that the pure premium rate in Oregon will decrease by an average of 6.6 percent. However, individual class rates may vary. The rate changes should preserve positive work environments for Oregon employers.
Important Change to ACA Reporting Requirements for 2016 Returns
As we near the end of 2016, we would like remind you of an important change to the rules for ACA reporting.
In order to support the ACA’s employer mandate, employers with over 50 full-time employees (or full-time equivalent employees*) are subject to certain reporting requirements. For IRS reporting purposes, these employers are considered to be Applicable Large Employers (ALE) and are expected to file returns.
The Transitional Relief that the IRS created in 2015, which was an option that afforded ALE’s some cushion with compliance during the first year of implementation, has now lapsed. Employers with less than 100, but more than 50 employees were given an extra year to transition. Not only will 2016 be the first year that these smaller ALE’s need to observe the reporting rules, but all ALE’s will need to ensure that their ACA reporting is accurate to avoid potential IRS penalties.
Deadlines for Forms 1095-B and 1095-C
• Submission to Employees March 2, 2017
• Paper Submission to IRS February 28, 2017
• Electronic Submission to IRS March 31, 2017
We recommend that you talk to your broker about your options with regard to ACA reporting, if you haven’t already. Brown & Brown Northwest works with a variety of ACA reporting vendors that can integrate with your payroll and/or benefit administration systems, so you complete all of your IRC 6055 and 6055 obligations in an accurate and timely manner. Call us today at (503) 274-6511 to discuss your options.
*refer to the IRS website for more information on ACA Reporting & Testing
Late reporting of a claim matter can jeopardize your coverage:
Profession Liability policies such as Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), Directors & Officers (D&O) and Errors & Omissions (E&O) are written on a claims made basis meaning the claim must be reported during the policy period. When a claim is made against you or you become aware of a claim, the clock starts ticking. Many policies require you to report them immediately. Some policies have a provision requiring notice within a specified time frame. If the claim is reported one day after the policy expires, you may jeopardize coverage.
EPLI policies provides protection for allegations such as Harassment, Discrimination, Wrongful Termination or Retaliation by a current or former employee. The definition of a claim varies but usually include a written notice and a judicial or administrative proceeding against you and received by you. Claims can be received in the form of a written demand from the employee, their attorney, or by a Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) notice.
When you receive one of these notices, it is critical that you forward to Brown & Brown Northwest or your Agent immediately for reporting to the insurance carrier.
Once a claim is reported to the insurance carrier, they will work with you to respond and develop a strategy for handling the matter. Prompt reporting to your insurance carrier will protect your coverage.
Before you take action seek legal advice on a potential employment matter check with Brown & Brown Northwest as most EPLI policies have an Employee Hotline that will provide free consultative services for employment related issues by a professional law firm.
What is social engineering?
Social engineering is the art of accessing information, physical places, systems, data, property or money by using psychological methods, rather than technical methods or brute force.
How Does It Happen?
Criminals can use psychological blind spots to have employees willingly give unauthorized parties access, information or property. These attacks can occur in a number of different forms, including a well-crafted spear-phishing campaign, a plausible-sounding phone call from a criminal posing as a vendor, or even an on-site visit from a “fire inspector” who demands access to the company’s server room.
How Often Does It Happen?
Attacks against business both large and small appear indiscriminate. The last five years have shown a steady increase in attacks targeting business with less than 250 employees.
Businesses of all sizes are affected by targeted attacks.
• 35 % of Large Enterprises (2,500+)
• 22% Medium-Size Businesses (251 to 2,500
• 43% Small Businesses (1 to 250)
• Campaigns targeting employees increased 55% in 2015.
What You Can Do To Protect Your Business?
Being the victim of a social engineering scam can have a wide range of effects on your business, including:
• Damaged reputation
• Lost sales
• Lower staff morale
• Losing customer base
There are ways to prevent social engineering from potentially ruining your business:
Employee Awareness is the first defensive measure. Employees should be aware what social engineering is and also aware of the types of attacks most commonly used. Background screening of your partners and adequate financial checks and balances procedures will also help to protect your organization.
For additional information on protective measures or to find out if you have the appropriate insurance coverage to protect your assets contact your Agent at Brown & Brown Northwest.
Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest – The Risk is Real!
The Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) has been getting a lot of press over the last several months regarding the significant catastrophic earthquake and tsunami threat it poses to residents of the Pacific Northwest. The CSZ is a giant fault that lies mostly offshore and extends approximately 700 miles (1,130 km) off the coast of Canada down through Washington, Oregon to Northern California. Scientific experts and seismologists have predicted that the odds of a large earthquake occurring on the CSZ in the next 50 years could be as high as 1 in 3. A powerful earthquake, along with tsunami and large aftershocks, has the potential for devastation up to five times that of hurricane Katrina. It could affect millions of people, property, infrastructure and the environment causing over $80 billion of damage.
Make sure your family is prepared…
Earthquakes can occur at any time without warning. Major threats are bodily injuries and property damage so proper preparation can save lives, reduce injury and property damage. Some important things you can do are:
• Prepare an emergency supply kit including at least a one-week supply of food and water.
• Document and discuss a family emergency plan including where to reassemble after an earthquake, reaching high ground (if necessary for tsunami), etc.
• Download the American Red Cross and/or FEMA mobile apps or view their websites for important notifications, safety and preparedness information:
– American Red Cross – http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/earthquake
– FEMA – http://www.fema.gov/earthquake-safety-home
If you live in an older home, check to see if it needs to be seismically retrofitted.
Consider Earthquake Insurance…
Your homeowners insurance policy may not cover earthquake losses. Without earthquake insurance, you will have to pay out-of-pocket to repair any damage to your home, replace your personal property, and to live and eat elsewhere after an earthquake. These expense can be substantial and devastating to your family.
Not all earthquake insurance policies are created equal…There are a variety of earthquake insurance deductible and coverage options to choose from. The deductible and policy you choose can have a significant impact on the cost as well as the financial protection that you receive. As a leading Independent Insurance Agency, Brown & Brown Northwest, has access to the top earthquake insurance programs in the marketplace. Our insurance professionals are happy to assist you in determining the appropriate coverage and tailoring a policy to meet your specific needs and financial situation. Call us today at (503) 274-6511 to receive a complimentary review and quote for the best earthquake options for you.
In the Community
In October, for the third consecutive year, Brown & Brown Northwest Insurance was recognized by The Portland Business Journal as one of Portland’s Most Philanthropic medium-sized companies, and we are thrilled!
In addition to our financial contributions, at Brown & Brown Northwest Insurance, teammates receive two, paid days to volunteer in the community through our community outreach program, known to teammates as Claws for a Cause. Cheetahs are our mascot. The obvious idea for the name, Claws for a Cause, being that we use our proverbial “cheetah claws” to go out and do good.
In addition to the many organizations individuals supported in 2016, doing everything from feeding the homeless to serving on Boards and Junior Boards, through our Claws for a Cause program we helped these organizations:
• Friends of the Children http://friendspdx.org/
• Klineline Kids Fishing http://www.klineline-kf.org/
• Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division www.sunshinedivision.org
• Volunteers of America Oregon www.voaor.org
• Medical Teams International www.medicalteams.org
• Community Vision, Inc., http://cvision.org