Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The 4 Things Homeowners Misunderstand About Flood Insurance

Hurricane season runs through November, but you don’t have to be living in a coastal area to be affected by flooding. During the past 54 years, the amount of rain or snow falling from the top 1% of intense storms has increased in every region, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, according to the latest national climate assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
Add to that the problem of antiquated infrastructures and sewer systems plus overbuilding and dwindling wet spaces, and the threat of flooding can affect anyone, anywhere.

From 2008 to 2012, the average residential flood claim amounted to more than $38,000, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Yet most consumers don’t know what they can do to protect their homes and belongings against a flood event.



Monday, September 22, 2014

The Future of Insurance Comes Down to 4 Things

From September 10-14, a group of young (ages 30-50) business and financial leaders gathered in Montreaux, Switzerland at the fifth annual meeting of the G-20Y summit. The mission? To discuss sustainable prosperity in the face of a world increasingly at risk.

The summit covered ten issues specifically in a series of structured discussions from which attendees then developed sets of recommendations for the G-20 heads of state and leading international financial organizations. The topics ranged from energy markets, to food security, to global financial reform and other topics.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Add cyber liability to your auto coverage! Driverless cars face risk of hackers!

A red VW Golf jerks back and forth as it maneuvers into a parking space in the English spa town of Cheltenham. The halting efforts resemble those of a new driver, and in a sense they are -- just not from the person sitting at the wheel.

The car itself is navigating into the spot, which it manages without a scratch. The man in the driver’s seat, who has his hands resting leisurely on his lap except for the occasional gear change, is a mere onlooker in this demonstration of the latest automated-car technology.

While the idea of robo-cars whisking us off to our destinations may sound like science fiction, the technology exists and is largely ready for the real world. What’s harder to determine is the risk associated with the emergence of these vehicles.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tips for Answering Questions about the Flu Vaccine

Flu shot season has arrived. Unfortunately, less than 50% of adults typically receive a flu shot each year. Lack of knowledge may play a role in this low flu vaccination rate.  Below is an FAQ from the CDC regarding the flu vaccine.

·         What is the flu? Influenza (or the flu) is a contagious viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs and can lead to serious illness, including pneumonia. Influenza is not the same as the stomach "flu" viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting. 

·         Can I get the flu from the flu shot? No, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Flu vaccines are either ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious or contain no flu vaccine viruses at all. Although the nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses, they are weakened and cannot cause the flu. 

·         I don’t like shots, are there other ways to get vaccinated? Yes, for most healthy, non-pregnant people ages 2 through 49 years old, the nasal spray flu vaccine is a great option. Also, there is an intradermal shot that uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot.

·         What are the benefits of the flu vaccine? The best way to reduce the chances of getting the seasonal flu and spreading it to others is to get a flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

·         Who should get the flu shot? Everyone who is at least 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine this season. It is especially important for certain people to get a flu vaccine including:

         People with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

         Pregnant women.

         People younger than 5 (especially younger than 2) and people 65 years and older.

·         How does the flu shot work? The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. 

·          When should I get vaccinated? Ideally by October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season. It is best to get vaccinated early since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop that protect against influenza. 

·         Do I need a flu vaccine every year? Yes, for two reasons. First, the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, the flu viruses constantly change and the formulation is reviewed each year.

Click here to view the CDC’s No More Excuses: You Need a Flu Vaccine flyer.

Monday, September 15, 2014

5 Troubling Facts about Injuries in Youth Sports

Here's a headline number for you: 1.35 million.

That's how many kids were admitted to emergency rooms in 2012 as a result of sports-related injuries.

1.35 million. That's more than the population of Dallas, and it doesn't include the untold millions of injuries that aren't serious enough for an ER visit.
That's a lot of skinned knees and grass stains (and broken ankles and concussions). And, with more kids playing organized sports than ever, theses numbers will likely continue to climb.


Read More..

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The 10 Most Uninsured States Post-Obamacare

Almost all of America’s chronically under-insured states have been at the bottom of the list for decades, but a new report from WalletHub shows that some habitual stragglers have made real progress.

In fact, insured rates in some states have improved more than 10% in the Affordable Care Act’s inaugural year.

Others were less impressive. Mississippi, which ranked second-last, actually saw a 3.34% increase in its number of uninsured residents.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Draft Instructions for Employer Reporting of Health Coverage Released

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created new reporting requirements under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 and 6056. Under these new reporting rules, certain employers must provide information to the IRS about the health plan coverage they offer (or do not offer) to their employees.

On Aug. 28, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released draft instructions for the forms that employers will use to report under Code Sections 6055 and 6056.
·      Instructions for Forms 1094-B and 1095-B: These forms will be used by entities reporting under Section 6055 as health insurance issuers, sponsors of self-insured group health plans that are not reporting as applicable large employers (ALEs), sponsors of multiemployer plans and providers of government-sponsored coverage.
·      Instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C: These forms will be used by ALEs that are reporting under Section 6056, as well as for combined reporting by ALEs who report under both Sections 6055 and 6056.
On Aug. 29, 2014, the IRS also released Q&As on Section 6055 and Q&As on Section 6056. In addition, draft versions of Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C were released in July 2014. Draft Forms 1095-B and 1095-C were also updated on Aug. 28, 2014, to include instructions for the recipient of the form.
These forms and instructions are draft versions only, and should not be relied upon for filing. The IRS may make changes to the instructions prior to releasing final versions. Both the forms and instructions will be finalized later this year.
Overview of Sections 6055 & 6056
The Code Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements are intended to promote transparency with respect to health plan coverage and costs. They will also provide the government with information to administer other ACA mandates, such as the employer and individual mandates.
Code Section 6055 requires health insurance issuers, self-insured health plan sponsors, government agencies that administer government-sponsored health insurance programs and any other entity that provides minimum essential coverage (MEC) to report information on that coverage to the IRS and covered individuals.
Code Section 6056 requires ALEs subject to the employer shared responsibility rules to report information on the health coverage offered to full-time employees to the IRS and covered individuals.
Filing Requirements
Under both Sections 6055 and 6056, each reporting entity will be required to file all of the following with the IRS:
·      A separate information return for each individual who is provided MEC (for ALEs, this includes only full-time employees); and
·      A single transmittal form for all of the returns filed for a given calendar year.
Filing Due Dates

Under both Sections 6055 and 6056, the return and transmittal forms must be filed with the IRS on or before Feb. 28 (March 31, if filed electronically) of the year following the calendar year of coverage. However, if the regular due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, entities should file by the next business day. For calendar year 2015, these forms must be filed by Feb. 29, 2016, (or March 31, 2016, if filing electronically).
These forms are not required to be filed for 2014. However, in preparation for the first required filing (in 2016 for 2015 coverage), reporting entities may voluntarily file in 2015 for 2014 in accordance with the draft forms and instructions. More information about voluntary filing is available on the IRS website.
Statements Furnished to Individuals

All entities reporting under Section 6055 or 6056 must furnish a copy of Form 1094-C or 1095-C, as applicable, to the person identified as the responsible individual named on the form. Statements must be furnished by mail, unless the recipient affirmatively consents to receive the statement electronically.
The statement must be furnished on or before Jan. 31 of the year following the calendar year of coverage. The first statements are due to individuals by Feb. 1, 2016.
Where To File

Any reporting entity that is required to file at least 250 returns under Section 6055 or 6056 must file electronically. The 250-or-more requirement applies separately to each type of return and separately to each type of corrected return.
Reporting entities that are filing on paper will send paper returns to the address provided in the instructions, based on where their principal business, office or agency (or legal residence, in the case of an individual) is located.
Instructions for Forms 1094-B and 1095-B

Under Section 6055, every person that provides MEC to an individual during a calendar year must file Forms 1094-B (a transmittal) and 1095-B (an information return). This includes:
·      Health insurance issuers or carriers;
·      Self-insured health plan sponsors;
·      Government agencies that administer government-sponsored health insurance programs; and
·      Any other entity that provides MEC.
However, ALEs subject to the employer shared responsibility rules that sponsor self-insured group health plans will report information about the coverage in Part III of Form 1095-C, instead of on Form 1095-B. In general, an employer with 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalents) during the prior calendar year is considered an ALE.
Instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C

All ALEs must file Form 1094-C (a transmittal) and Form 1095-C (an information return) for each full-time employee for any month.
·      Form 1094-C is used to report summary information for each employer to the IRS and to transmit Forms 1095-C to the IRS.
·      Form 1095-C is used to report information about each employee.
These forms help the IRS determine whether an ALE owes penalties under the employer shared responsibility rules, as well as whether an employee is eligible for premium tax credits.
How to Complete Forms

ALEs that sponsor a self-insured health plan must also complete Form 1095-C, Parts I and III, for any individual (including any full-time employee, non-full-time employee, family members and others) who enrolled in the self-insured health plan. If the employee is full-time for any month, the ALE must also complete Part II. If the employee is not full-time for all 12 months of the calendar year, the ALE must complete only Part II, line 14, by entering code 1G in the “All 12 Months” column.
For other types of coverage, the issuer or plan sponsor will provide the information about their health coverage to any enrolled employees. The employer should not complete Form 1095-C, Part III, for those employees.
An employer that sponsors self-insured health coverage but is not subject to the employer shared responsibility rules is not required to file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C. Instead, these employers report on Forms 1094-B and 1095-B for employees who enrolled in the employer-sponsored self-insured health coverage.
Authoritative Transmittal for ALEs Filing Multiple Forms 1094-C

A Form 1094-C must be attached to any Forms 1095-C filed by an ALE. An ALE may submit multiple Forms 1094-C, each accompanied by Forms 1095-C, for some of its employees, provided that Forms 1095-C are filed for each employee for whom the ALE is required to file.
ALEs must file a single Form 1094-C reporting aggregate employer-level data for all full-time employees, identifying the form, on line 19 of Part II, as the Authoritative Transmittal. One Authoritative Transmittal must be filed for each ALE, even if multiple Forms 1094-C are filed by and on behalf of the ALE. For example, if an employer has prepared a separate Form 1094-C for each of its two divisions to transmit Forms 1095-C for each division’s full-time employees, one of the Forms 1094-C filed must be designated as the Authoritative Transmittal and report aggregate employer-level data for all full-time employees (for both divisions).
One Form 1095-C for Each Employee of Each ALE

There must be only one Form 1095-C for each full-time employee of an ALE. For example, if an ALE separately reports for the full-time employees of its two divisions, the ALE must combine the information for any employee who worked at both divisions during the year so that there is only a single Form 1095-C for that employee which reports information for all 12 months of the calendar year.
In contrast, a full-time employee who works for more than one ALE that is a member of the same aggregated ALE group (that is, works for two separate ALE members) must receive a separate Form 1095-C from each ALE member.
More Information

Please contact Senn Dunn for more information on reporting under Code Sections 6055 and 6056.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Is That Auto Accident Staged? Here's How to Tell.

A claimant needs some extra cash and decides that insurance fraud is the answer, so he stages a collision or just enhances the damage to his car caused by an actual impact and tries to cash in on the loss. But how can you tell the difference? You get a report for the umpteenth time today about a claim that your insureds have sustained damage to their vehicle. But something about this claim makes you think twice about it.

Whether it is because the damage was allegedly from a “phantom” vehicle, or because the parties involved have recently filed a similar claim, or because the photographs do not seem to match the description; whatever the reason, this one makes you suspicious. But there is damage and there is no claim of any injury, so what can you do? Pay the claim or investigate it further? If you want to investigate further, who can help and what will it cost?



Thursday, September 4, 2014

42% of Americans Can Not Explain This Simple Health Insurance Term

November’s healthcare open enrollment period is less than three months away, but many Americans are still woefully ignorant when it comes to healthcare. Roughly 42% of Americans—including those with earnings near the federal poverty line, who stand to gain the most from health reform—are unable to explain what a deductible is.

Another 62% don’t understand the difference between an HMO and a PPO, and a full 37% of people are unaware there is a penalty for not having health insurance.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The 6 Ways your Smart Home Will Cut Costs

Smart devices—and their associated telematics applications—are technologically advancing at breakneck speed, and their use helps insurers create statistically accurate risk profiles. The result has been personalized policies including usage-based, pay-as-you-drive and pay-how-you-drive—and now, telematics is penetrating the home insurance market.

Some insurers already have entered this arena, decreasing premiums for so-called “smart homes.”

“Houses are getting smarter every day,” says Rebecca Galovich, assistant vice president of reinsurance underwriting at Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), “and tech is becoming more interconnected. That enables homeowners to have control over the environment of their homes, adjusting thermostats from outside of the home and controlling security systems.”