DID YOU KNOW? Carfax is Your Friend AND Foe

DID YOU KNOW? Carfax is Your Friend AND Foe

Did you know that some repair facilities, including Midas and Pep Boys, share your vehicle data with Carfax?  Did you also know that Carfax sells this data to some insurance companies?  This data exchange is not a one-way street – Carfax also receives vehicle claims data from insurance companies. 

Work Shield Featured in Dallas Innovates

Work Shield Featured in Dallas Innovates

The Plexus Groupe is not only proud to offer Work Shield as an innovative workplace harassment protection plan to our clients, but we use the confidential reporting platform in our own company as well.

Work Shield founder Jared S. Pope was recently featured in Dallas Innovates as a cutting edge start-up that is making a difference in the #metoo movement.

Wildfire Victims Are Largely Under-Insured

Wildfire Victims Are Largely Under-Insured

California’s massive wildfires over the past year have highlighted that many residents were under-insured – and an insurance expert believes several factors are to blame.

DID YOU KNOW? Beating Black Ice Could Mean A Better Insurance Rate

DID YOU KNOW? Beating Black Ice Could Mean A Better Insurance Rate

Winter is officially here and the arctic air has arrived, making it dangerous to be outside, much less on the roads. Even though we like to think we’re accustomed to tough Midwestern winters, the fact is we all tend to forget to adapt our driving styles when the season arrives. 

Balancing Fun and Frugality: Tips for Baby Boomers on Being Resourceful, Having Fun

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Most of us admire the frugal friend or relative who always seems able to set aside money for unexpected expenses and fun vacations. Some people just have a knack for being resourceful when it comes to saving and spending money. If you’re a member of the Baby Boomer generation, don’t make the mistake of turning your life into a no-fun zone. The trick is to find a happy medium between saving and spending so you’re less likely to give up on it.  Remember, it is never too late to plan for tomorrow. Plexus Financial Services, LLC can guide you to your goals.

Take Care of Your Business First

Being frugal and saving money won’t get you far if you’re unprepared to handle an important expense like health insurance. If you can, continue on your employer’s health care plan post-employment. If you lack coverage, make sure to sign up for Medicare — there’s plenty of information online to guide you through the process of finding a plan that covers ancillary healthcare expenses such as dental, vision, hearing, and prescription medications.

Another good way to cut expenses is to discontinue a life insurance policy if it’s no longer necessary. If your life circumstances permit - if your children are grown and on their own or if you have sufficient income to cover your needs - you really don’t need a life insurance policy anymore and can better use that money in other ways. 

Email Lists

Go ahead and enjoy your favorite restaurant or retail stores; just make sure you sign up for their email lists. You’ll earn coupons, receive free offers, and get a jump on other promotions as they come up, which are great ways to save money. If you want to really get organized about it, set up a separate email address for all those coupons and offers so you don’t clog up your primary email address and risk losing track of emails that can save you money.

Don’t Forget the Library

Remember how much fun it was to visit the library when you were a kid? All those books and movies, and all you needed was that magic little card that doesn’t cost a cent. You can relive those happy visits and save money by borrowing great books and movies you love whenever you want. If you have kids, introduce them to story hour, which is a wonderful source of free entertainment that public libraries still offer their patrons.

Make Credit Cards Work for You

Credit card reward points are a great way to save for a family vacation, especially if setting money aside in a vacation fund is a problem. Use low-limit cards to pay bills and buy groceries and start racking up points. If you’re handy at managing credit cards, you can finance a nice vacation — just make sure you’re able to keep paying off those cards. Remember, racking up a bunch of credit card debt is the opposite of what you’re trying to do here, so be careful about this option if you’re not so good at managing money.

Parks Are Free

If you live in a community with a good parks system, you’ve got a terrific source of free entertainment anytime you want, especially if you live in an area that’s not conducive to walking or jogging. Many parks have tennis or soccer leagues you can join for free or at a minimal cost, so why not enjoy a little friendly competition while getting some exercise and fresh air?

Used Sports Equipment

If you’re an avid golfer, you know that the game can be quite expensive. In fact, golf clubs are among the most expensive sports equipment on the market. You can save hundreds of dollars by opting for used clubs at a second-hand sports store (such as Play It Again Sports). And who knows: You might finally come across the putter of your dreams.

Living frugally doesn’t mean you have to cope with boredom. If you can’t find ways to have fun, scrimping and saving may quickly seem a pointless waste of time. Stick with your plan and be sure to combine resourcefulness and entertainment. You’ve earned it!

Written by Jim McKinley

Money With Jim

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NEWSLETTER: November 2018

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9 ACA Employer Mandate FAQs for Employers and their Brokers

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still in effect, despite efforts to dismantle it. This means its employer mandate is still in effect, and something employers and brokers can’t ignore. Plexus Technology Services, which delivers innovative technology reporting solutions to companies needing to report ACA information to the government, provides 9 ACA FAQs (frequently asked questions) about the employer mandate for employers and their brokers.

 

What is the ACA employer mandate?

Employers with 50 of more full-time employees must offer those workers and dependents the chance to enroll in minimum essential coverage under an employer-sponsored plan.

 

What is “full-time” under health care reform?

Working at least 30 hours per week or 130 hours in a calendar month. A special rule covers “seasonal workers” and others not continuously employed.

What is the look-back method for counting full-time employees?

Count the number of full-time employees during each calendar month and divide by 12.

What is an offer of health coverage?

Employees with 50 or more employees must offer coverage during a plan year. Employees must pay their share within 30 days of due date.

When is employer coverage considered unaffordable?

If the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage exceeds 9.69 percent of their household income for the taxable year.

How are wellness programs treated?

If a wellness program provides medical benefits, it will likely be treated as a group health plan, subject to non-discrimination requirements.

How are stand-alone wellness programs treated?

If they don’t pay for medical benefits, they are not treated as group health plans.

Who handles the Summary of Benefits and Coverage?

The insurer prepares the SBC, and the plan sponsor distributes it. A self-funded plan prepares its own SBC.

What are the two employer mandate penalties?

No Minimum Essential Coverage: $2,260 per full-time employee.

Inadequate Health Plan: $3,390 per full-time employee.

Have questions regarding these ACA mandates and filing? Contact a Plexus Technology Services associate in Deer Park, Illinois at 847-307-6100, Chicago at 312-606-4800, Dallas at 972-770-5010 or Oklahoma City at 405-840-3033. We’re here to help and we’re happy to help.

Content provided by New Equipment Digest.

PROPERTY & CASUALTY NEWSLETTER: November 2018

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The Plexus Groupe’s Property and Casualty November Newsletter shares the Top 10 OSHA violations in 2018:

10. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection

This is the first appearance of this construction standard on the list.

Standard: 1926.95
Number of Violations: 1, 536

9. Machine Guarding

Inspectors cited machine shops and manufacturers for point of operation and for guards that were not attached to machines.

Standard: 1910.212
Number of Violations: 1,972

8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements

Employers lacked competent persons to provide training as well as no written certifications that the training occurred.

Standard: 1926.503
Number of Violations: 1,982

7. Powered Industrial Trucks part 2

OSHA inspectors found forklift drivers who were not certified. In addition, employers failed to recertify drivers every three years.

Standard: 1910.178
Number of Violations: 2,294

6. Ladders

Ladder use continues to be a problem in the construction industry. Inspectors found broken steps, use of top steps and ladders not being used as intended.

Standard: 1926.1053
Number of Violations: 2,812

5. Lockout/Tagout

A general industry standard, employers did not implement an energy control program or training.

Standard: 1910.147
Number of Violations: 2,944

4. Respiratory Protection

Fit testing, medical evaluations and respiratory programs were non-existent for employers who received this violation.

Standard: 1910.200
Number of Violations: 3,118

3. Scaffolds – General Requirements

Scaffolds were not properly decked, leaving holes where a worker potentially could fall through.

Standard: 1926.451
Number of Violations: 3,336

2. Hazard Communication

Failure to train and not maintaining data sheets led to this violation for many auto repair shops as well as hotels.

Standard: 1910.200
Number of Violations: 4,552

1. Fall Protection – General Requirements

Topping the list once again is fall protection. Roofing contractors failed to provide PPE.

Standard: 1926.501
Number of Violations: 7,270

If you have questions about this newsletter or any of the OSHA safety violations identified, contact an insurance expert at The Plexus Groupe at 847-307-6100.

DID YOU KNOW? Driving For Dollars Can Be Costly

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As a consumer, I love the idea of Uber or Lyft. When my family and I were on vacation overseas this summer, it was very convenient to secure a pre-arranged trip and feel confident that we wouldn’t be taken advantage of as tourists.

As an insurance professional, I’m less than thrilled with the idea of Uber. Just before my son left for college, I overheard him talking to a friend.  “Yeah, I wish I could drive for Uber, but my car is too old.”  I mentally patted myself on the back for providing him with a not-so-pretty, but well-maintained '98 Buick Century.

From an auto insurance standpoint, the problem with Uber is coverage for an accident while the driver is “on the clock." Most, if not all, personal auto insurance policies exclude liability coverage, medical coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and physical damage coverage when a personal vehicle is used for a fee.  Examples of this exclusion include the following from well-known insurance companies:

Policy Example 1

Vehicles used for a fee. We do not cover any person for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation use of a vehicle while it is being used as a public or livery conveyance, including while it is being used for ride sharing in connection with a ride sharing program, for a fee.

“Ride sharing” means the use of any vehicle in connection with a ride sharing program during any time period the driver is logged into an online-enabled ridesharing application or digital network as a driver, when the driver accepts a requested ride, is en route to pick up a passenger, or is transporting a passenger until the passenger departs the vehicle.

Policy Example 2

NOTICE TO POLICHOLDERS – RIDESHARE EXCLUSION

The following sections of your Personal Auto Policy contain an exclusion which states coverage does not apply when “your covered auto” or a “nonowned auto” is being used as a public livery or conveyance:

Part A – Liability Coverage

Part B – Medical Payments Coverage

Part C – Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage; and

Part D – Coverage for Damage to Your Auto

The exclusions are clarified to specifically indicate no coverage exists when there is utilization of an online-enabled application, digital network or other form of communication used to connect passengers with drivers using vehicles for the purpose of providing prearranged transportation services for compensation.

Note that these exclusions are written to be as airtight as possible. In example 1, the exclusion applies when you are “en route to pick up a passenger” and “until the passenger departs the vehicle."  Uber provides their own insurance, but the app must be on, even when the driver is waiting for a ride request.  In addition, what constitutes “departing” a vehicle?  What if the passenger gets out of the vehicle, realizes she left her purse in the back seat, and is injured as she gets back in the car to retrieve her purse? Has she “departed” the vehicle?

In Example 2, the company reminds you that there is no coverage and then clarifies the exclusion with a separate Notice to Policyholders. Note that this exclusion even mentions transportation services for “compensation”.  It does not limit the exclusion to money.

But what if you have your heart set on becoming an Uber driver? You have the time and you want to earn some extra cash.  Can you get coverage?

As with most insurance questions, the answer is “it depends”.

It depends on the insurance company that covers your car and it depends on the coverage that is offered. It is important to remember that your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company.  The insurance company spends millions of dollars per year employing attorneys to write the contract language and get that language approved by Department of Insurance (DOI) offices in every state in which they do business.  Think of the contract language as a wall.  Inside the wall is the coverage you want.  Outside the wall is everything the insurance company does not want to pay for and every word in the contract is a brick in that wall.

One well-known insurance company offers an extra-cost endorsement to provide coverage while your vehicle is being used to provide rides for a fee. The endorsement is almost two pages long, contains approximately 1,000 words, and is entitled LIMITED RIDE SHARING COVERAGE.  Note that the endorsement includes the word “limited”.  That’s because the insurance company is taking great pains to limit the amount of coverage they are going to provide when you start your side hustle with Uber.

So, before you hit the “I accept” button on the Uber application, consider the costs against the benefits. You may have considered the loss of free time, the wear and tear on your car, and the possibility of dangerous passengers, but you also need to consider the insurance implications and how your policy may or may not respond.  Talk to your agent and make sure you understand the financial risks involved.

Have questions about insurance coverage while driving for a ride-share company? David Miller has answers. Miller, who writes the monthly, DID YOU KNOW? blog is The Plexus Groupe’s Vice President, Client Executive for Private Client Solutions. He can be reached by calling 846-307-6141.