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DID YOU KNOW? Prepare For Back To School With Insurance Policy Review

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A back to school insurance review is vital for anyone with children living at college or boarding school. Whether it's the first year away or the last, going away to school has several insurance implications that need to be addressed to ensure adequate coverage.

Housing

Students living away from home for the first time present new worries for their parents. What if they have friends at their dorm and someone gets hurt?  What if they forget to turn off an appliance and cause a fire?  What if their laptop is stolen?

Many schools require first-year students to live on campus, so renter’s insurance may not be necessary. Some insurance companies include student housing in their definition of a covered location, but it pays to check with your agent.  If the policy language is unclear or if the policy does not automatically include student housing, a liability extension endorsement can be added to the policy for a very modest increase in premium, usually less than $50 annually.  The endorsement changes the home insurance policy to provide liability coverage to include a student's dorm room at school.  With this extra coverage, if someone gets hurt in their dorm, there is now no question about coverage.

But what about all the stuff they brought with them to school? Most home insurance policies will provide coverage for property located outside the main residence, with some restrictions – usually 10% of the property limit on the home insurance policy. For example, if your home insurance policy provides you with $200,000 of personal property coverage, up to 10% of that limit ($20,000) may be automatically covered while at college or boarding school.

There are two drawbacks to using this approach to cover property located in a dorm. First, the deductible from your home insurance policy would apply to the loss. If you have a high deductible on your home insurance policy, a small personal property claim at the dorm may not clear your deductible. Secondly, Loss of Use coverage (or sometimes called Additional Living Expense) does not extend to other locations listed on the policy. Let’s say a pipe bursts in the dorm, causing damage that will take months to repair. There is no coverage for additional living expenses you might incur while your child is living elsewhere.

If you don’t want to accept these policy limitations, a separate renter’s insurance policy should be implemented. Renter’s insurance will provide liability insurance for the dorm, or off-campus address listed in the policy, as well as the personal property at that location. The amount of personal property coverage is usually subject to a minimum amount ($20,000 to $25,000 is common), but a separate policy will allow you to secure a lower deductible, keep any losses from showing up on your home insurance policy, and provide you with Loss of Use coverage.  Expect to pay around $200 per year for a basic renter’s policy.

Whether you choose to extend coverage or take out a renter’s policy, don’t forget to list this location on your personal umbrella policy.

Itemized personal property

If you’ve made a significant financial investment in a laptop for your student, it may make sense to itemize it on your home insurance policy – much like you would a new piece of jewelry. Some insurance companies don’t like to schedule laptops, but it pays to check.  Expect to pay between $20 and $25 per-thousand of coverage.

Paying this additional premium gives you extra coverage for misplacing the laptop and accidental damage, with no deductible applied to the claim.

Cyber Liability

Free wi-fi might be a great way to attract students to a coffee shop or a study room, but it is also a great way to become a victim of identity theft. Your son or daughter might have your credit card information or other personal data on their cell phone, exposing you to financial loss.  Many home insurance policies offer optional cyber liability coverage by endorsement.  The amounts of coverage can vary widely, and there may even be customizable limits within the endorsement, so a conversation with your agent is essential.

Vehicles

If your son or daughter does not bring a car with them to school, you may be able to get a discount on your auto insurance. Most companies will provide an “away at school” discount if the school is at least 100 miles from home.

If they bring a car with them to school, coverage will need to be amended to show a different “garaging location." Depending on the state and the insurance company, a separate auto policy may need to be written if the car is garaged in a different state.

It is also important to remind your son or daughter that the insurance follows the vehicle. If they let their roommate, a friend, or a friend of a friend borrow their car, the insurance on the car pays for the claim. By extension, this means your personal umbrella would also cover the claim if the claim was severe.  Strongly discourage your child from letting anyone use their car while it is with them at school.

And DO NOT let them sign up as a driver for Uber or Lyft while they are at school. They might think it’s a good way to make a few extra dollars, but there are absolute coverage exclusions on auto insurance policies when vehicles are used as a taxi or livery service. Uber and Lyft provide their own insurance, but there may be coverage gaps as to when their coverage applies and when it does not and how it coordinates with your own policy. The risk far outweighs the financial reward.

Have questions about a back to school insurance review? 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. Miller can be reached by calling 846-307-6141.

Plexus V.P. Jesse Altman to present at Solar Asset Management North America on Tuesday

DEER PARK, Ill., March 12, 2018 -- Jesse Altman, Energy Practice Vice President and thought leader at national insurance brokerage and risk management consultancy The Plexus Groupe, is among the industry leaders set to present this week at a top North American solar power conference. Altman will share cutting-edge risk mitigation strategies for original equipment manufacturers at Solar Asset Management North America on Tuesday. The two-day conference brings together solar plant and portfolio experts from around the world.

As the leading energy risk management expert at Plexus, Altman delivers expertise to energy companies with complex risk management needs. He provides innovative program structures to minimize cost and maximize asset protection.

"We're excited to have Jesse at this leading industry event," said Mike Mann, Vice President and Risk Management Leader. "This is an excellent forum for Jesse to collaborate in an engaging learning and sharing environment with industry peers."

The Plexus Groupe

Plexus offers expertise in property and casualty, employee benefits, corporate retirement plans, personal lines insurance, human resources administration/consulting, benefits technology services, and mergers and acquisitions. The firm's headquartered in Deer Park, Ill., with additional locations in Chicago (downtown), Dallas, and Oklahoma City.

For more information on Plexus’s  insurance solutions and risk mitigation in energy, call 847-307-6100 or via the Web at PlexusGroupe.com.

DOL Rule Requires New Disability Claims Procedures in Place by April 1, 2018

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The Department of Labor recently announced that the delay of its Final Rule regarding disability claims procedures is, in fact, final. This means all employee welfare plans providing benefits based on a determination of disability, including health plans, stand-alone disability benefits, 401(k), pension, and other retirement plans, must have these new procedures, including new contract provisions, in place by Sunday, April 1, 2018.

Which plans are affected?

Any plan governed by ERISA with provisions for disability determinations must implement new claims procedures, whether that be long-term disability benefits, most short-term disability plans, group health plans, stand-alone disability benefits, 401(k), pension, and other retirement plans. These new procedures must be in place by April 1, 2018 and apply to all disability-related claims received on or after April 1.

The new procedures will not apply to non-ERISA arrangements, such as instances where an employer continues paying salary during a time an employee's disabled.

What do affected plan sponsors need to do?

Fully Insured Plans

For employers that maintain insured disability plans, you will want to discuss with the insurance carrier how to apply and document the new procedures.

Self-Insured Plans

Employers with self-funded disability plans or retirement plans with benefits based on disability determinations will need to update plan documents and summary plan descriptions to reflect the new requirements. These employers will also need to update their claims procedures to include the new claims denials and appeals requirements outlined briefly below.

Self-Insured Plans with TPAs

Additionally, if an employer's self-funded but has a third-party administrator (TPA), the employer should amend the TPA administrator agreement to ensure the TPA's handling claims in compliance with this new rule.

What are the new requirements?

Similar to the new claims requirements for group health plans under the Affordable Care Act, new requirements for disability claims include but not limited to:

— The individual who decides a disability claim must not have any conflict of interest or incentive to deny or approve the claim. This includes certain aspects of that individual’s compensation, promotion, termination, etc.

— Claim-denial notices must be both culturally and linguistically appropriate, including assistance with filing claims in non-English languages.

— Certain appeals procedures must be put into place, such as providing the claimant, free of charge, with any new or additional evidence considered or relied upon before the administrator may deny an appeal.

— Potential "penalty" of faster access to litigation and court decision for claimants for whom the plan administrator did not comply with the new claims denials and appeals procedures.

Let Plexus lend a hand

Employers with applicable ERISA benefits plans must have these new procedures, including new contract provisions, in place by April 1, 2018.

Have questions regarding today's Alert or other employee benefits matters? Then, contact a Plexus benefits client service team member in Deer Park, Ill. (847.307.6100), Chicago (312.606.4800), Dallas (972.770.5010), or Oklahoma City (405.840.3033). You can also visit us online here, PlexusGroupe.com. We're here to help, and we're happy to help.

Plexus Personal Insurance News & Notes: Wedding season isn't that far away. Are you covered?

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In the latest edition of the Plexus Personal Insurance Newsletter, we take a closer look at three intriguing coverage topics.

Wedding insurance: a safety net for the big day

Peak wedding season will be here before you know it, and many celebrations are  being planned as we speak. When it comes to that special day, it could pay to consider wedding insurance. The coverage covers a wide range of risk, including gift theft, wedding rings, and event cancellations. Numerous carriers offer the coverage, and we are happy to walk you through your options. Give us a call at 847.307.6100, or reach out via the Web.

Want to join a board? Make sure you have proper coverage.

Thinking about joining a board of directors for a small non-profit organization or a community group? Make sure the organization carries directors and officers insurance. Furthermore, you may want to consider carrying your own coverage, just to have the right liability protection. Want to learn more? Let's have a conversation. For more information, contact Plexus Private Client Solutions Client Executive David Miller at 847-307-6141 or dmiller@plexusgroupe.com.

New year, same old story: auto rates are on the rise

Here is an eye-opening statistic via the Detroit Free Press: According to Insurance Information Institute data, average auto premiums expect to reach $1,150 this year -- a 25.7 percent increase from just three years ago. Distracted driving and increasingly expensive repairs to cutting-edge technology in cars are among the factors causing rates to spike. If you get hit with an increase this year and want to discuss it, contact a Plexus Private Client Solutions team member at 847.307.6100 or via the Web.

Let Plexus lend a hand

For more information on The Plexus Groupe’s personal insurance solutions, contact us at 847-307-6100 or via the Web. We’re here to help — and we’re happy to help.

Cadillac Tax delayed until 2022

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On Monday, President Trump signed a stopgap funding bill delaying the implementation of the Cadillac Tax until 2022. A provision of the Affordable Care Act, the Cadillac Tax is a 40 percent excise tax  imposed on high-cost employer-sponsored group health plans. The tax will expect to impact at least 1-in-4 employers. Self-insured employers are expected to pay the tax directly, while insurance carriers will be responsible for the tax on fully insured plans.

In short, the Affordable Care Act imposes a 40 percent excise tax on any “excess benefit” provided to an employee over the applicable dollar limit for the employee for the month. To date, the annual threshold dollar-limit amounts have been set at $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.

Under the new law, the Cadillac Tax, in its entirety, will not take effect until at least 2022.

Let Plexus lend a hand

Have questions regarding today's Alert or other employee benefits matters? We can help. Contact a Plexus benefits client service team member in Deer Park, Ill. (847.307.6100), Chicago (312.606.4800), Dallas (972.770.5010), or Oklahoma City (405.840.3033).

Want to join a growing Best Places to Work in Insurance honoree? Try Plexus.

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The new year brings new resolutions, such as a focus on eating healthier, or exercising more, or telling the people closest to us that we love them. For many, this list of resolutions also includes a vow to change jobs, to move up in their careers, to take the next step. Maybe this can be done at a current place of employment, but maybe not. Maybe it will take a fresh start at a new company to get to where you want to be.

This can be a tough decision to make. There is comfort in familiarity. Maybe your current role isn't so bad, and if you stick around, it might get better. That is possible.

So if you're going to look for another job in 2018, it better be worth your time. It better deliver a superior experience to what you already have.

That's why career seekers do their due diligence on prospective new companies.

And if you do your due diligence on The Plexus Groupe, you will find the following:

-- We're a Best Places to Work in Insurance honoree in each of the last eight years.

-- Our associates are proud of the workplace culture they have created, and a strong commitment to philanthropy and service is found throughout our organization.

-- We are a growing firm, with more than 100 employees across four offices in Deer Park, Illinois (corporate headquarters), Chicago (Loop), Dallas, and Oklahoma City.  The firm has more than 100 employees across offices in Deer Park, Illinois (corporate headquarters), Chicago (Loop), Dallas, and Oklahoma City.

-- We deliver advisory services and a superior client experience in the areas of property and casualty, employee benefits, retirement plans, personal lines insurance, HR consulting, and technology services.

-- A number of our team members have received recognition for excellence in their field. Furthermore, our associates are routinely interviewed by media, and asked to speak at conferences. We also jump at the opportunity to talk to students about our industry.

-- We offer our employees a wide variety of employee benefits, including medical, dental, life, short- and long-term disability, 401(k) retirement savings (with a generous employer match), wellness programs, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Additionally, we offer many other workday benefits, including walking workstations and complementary fruits, vegetables, waters, iced teas, and other healthy drinks.

-- Each year, we set aside two days for an all-company Team Building Event to plan ahead for the coming year, and we invite a keynote speaker to deliver an address to inspire and inform our team.

Next Steps 

Interested in career opportunities at Plexus? Click here to be directed to our Careers page for our updated list of openings.

We get it: a career search can be intimidating. It takes work. You need a reason to go on with it. And if you are going to change jobs, it better be for something rewarding, fun, legit.

To this we say: welcome. You have come to the right place.

Does your company have the right directors & officers insurance?

In late 2015, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued a memorandum to federal prosecutor — commonly known as the Yates Memo — that emphasizes the accountability of individuals involved in corporate wrongdoing. Consequently, businesses and culpable employees are both targets during federal investigations. This can lead to a number of liabilities for your organization.

The Yates Memo specifies that businesses must identify all culpable individuals during a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation. This will likely result in frayed relationships with employees, longer investigations and higher defense costs. Additionally, the DOJ will expect your business to cooperate during both corporate and individual cases, as the Yates Memo removed many protections for individuals.

To ensure that you are adequately protected, you need to examine your business’s directors and officers (D&O) insurance coverage before an investigation takes place.

Primary Focus of the Yates Memo

The Yates Memo consists of six “key steps” to encourage businesses to focus on individual accountability as well as to encourage federal attorneys to bring civil and criminal charges against culpable employees.

Two of these steps will have a large impact on the focus of investigations:

1.  Businesses must identify individuals involved in corporate wrongdoing to qualify for cooperation credit in case resolution.

2.  Federal attorneys will target individuals during the onset of an investigation. They will not focus solely on the business as a whole.

Employees’ Reactions

Because businesses must identify culpable individuals to receive cooperation credit during a federal investigation. The priorities of your business and your employees will likely diverge over the course of a case.

Additionally, the Yates Memo states individuals don't have to partake in wrongdoing to be a target of investigations. Board members, directors, officers and managers that do not provide sufficient oversight of their respective responsibilities can be found negligent and targeted during a case. This broad range will likely make it more difficult to determine who caused any wrongdoing.

While it is in your business’s best interests to conduct thorough internal investigations and find all culpable individuals, employees may be less willing to reveal relevant information and may even request their own legal counsel to represent their best interests. And, if your D&O coverage provides funding for this defense, there will be less funds available to provide protection for your business as a whole.

Protection for Individuals

As the Yates Memo emphasizes individual accountability, it takes away protections that individuals could turn to when resolving cases. The key steps in the memorandum specify the following:

→ There must be a plan to resolve any related cases involving culpable individuals before corporate cases are handled.

→ Resolutions between businesses and the DOJ will provide no protection for culpable individuals.

→ Civil charges against individuals will not account for the ability to pay financial penalties.

These points will serve to lengthen cases because businesses need to cooperate with individual and corporate cases. This means that your business must continue to devote time and resources to internal investigations and provide for legal counsel. As a result, your current D&O coverage is likely inadequate given the new priorities found in the Yates Memo.

D&O Coverage Considerations

To ensure that you have adequate D&O coverage to defend both your business and its employees during an investigation, you should review the following topics:

→ Type of coverage: Ensure that your D&O policy will provide adequate protection for all parties involved in a case. Coverage should include funds for your employees’ defense, any additional funds your business provides for their defense and your business’s defense if you are sued by a third party as a result of a federal investigation.

→ Investigation coverage: Consider purchasing investigation coverage as an endorsement to your D&O policy. This will help protect you from the financial burden of lengthy internal investigations.

→ Policy limits: Consider raising your policy limits to ensure that you have adequate protection. Defending more individuals and assisting federal prosecutors will lead to longer cases and higher defense costs.

→ Conduct exclusions: Examine your current D&O policy to see if it has conduct exclusions for fraud, dishonesty and other misconduct. These exclusions may also include final adjunction provisions, which prevent carriers from withholding funds until a case has been resolved.

→ Balance between indemnification and insurance: Conduct a review of your business’s balance between indemnification and D&O coverage. If you provide for the majority of a case’s defense costs, you may face severe financial hardship after it's resolved.

Let’s have a conversation

The risk prevention experts at The Plexus Groupe transform complexity into simplicity to empower growth-orientated companies like yours by reducing exposures, improving cost efficiencies, and protecting your most valued assets.

Have questions regarding directors & officers coverage? You have come to the right place. Contact Plexus Vice President of Executive Liability Willie Lindsey at 847-307-6100 or wlindsey@plexusgroupe.com. We will work with you to protect what you have earned and achieved.

Disclaimer and publishing credit: This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2016 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Plexus Financial Services introduces redesigned PlexusFs.com

We are pleased to unveil the redesigned Plexus Financial Services website, which is now live. The new PlexusFs.com has a fresh new look and houses a significant amount of valuable and interesting content for retirement plan participants and retirement plan sponsors. Site enhancements include more than 20 new videos and a series of electronic flipbooks on a variety of financial topics. Upon reaching the site,  use the "Menu" bar at right to scroll through the various sections.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or observations regarding the functionality, design, and display of PlexusFs.com, please reach out to us here.

We hope you enjoy the new PlexusFs.com, and as always, we welcome your feedback.

Disclosure regarding Plexus Financial Services

Plexus Financial Services, LLC (“PFS”) does not provide specific investment, tax, and/or legal advice and the information referenced/provided is not specific to any company’s or individual’s circumstances. The materials referenced/provided are general in nature and provided for educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reputable and reliable; we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials and caution you to use personal diligence in review before relying or acting upon any information presented. Any general information referenced/provided is not be construed as personalized investment, tax, and/or legal advice. Always consult an advisor, attorney and/or tax professional regarding your specific situation.

This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin and does not provide any information regarding any offers or services directly provided by PFS. The information referenced/provided is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of any offer.

PFS is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Plexus Groupe LLC. Advisory services are offered through Plexus Financial Services LLC, a registered investment advisor with the SEC which transacts business in states where it is properly registered, or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements, member FINRA (www.finra.org) and the SIPC (www.sipc.com). SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by the Commission nor does it indicate that the adviser has attained a particular level of skill or ability.

You may request receipt of PFS’s Form ADV, Privacy Policy Statement, Code of Ethical Behavior, and Conflict of interest Policy at any time by written request to info@plexusfs.com. For additional details or questions regarding this or any information provided by or related to PFS, please visit our website at www.plexusfs.com. Plexus Financial Services is located at 21805 Field Parkway, Suite 300, Deer Park, Illinois 60010. To contact us by phone, please call (847) 307-6222.

When Black Friday comes, be wary of parking drama

In our latest Plexus Personal Insurance Newsletter, we take a closer look at some timely home & auto issues to ponder as the holiday season starts and 2018 approaches.

Thinking about home renovations? It pays to talk to your insurance agent.

If planning renovations to your home, loop in your insurance agent, who can then contact your carrier if necessary. While this could lead to a rate hike, it could save the day if disaster strikes. For instance, if you suffer a construction-related loss to your home without telling your insurer, you could be facing a deductible of 10 percent of your home's replacement cost. Want to learn more? Contact Plexus Private Client Solutions Client Executive David Miller at 847-307-6141 or dmiller@plexusgroupe.com.

Shopping on Black Friday? Look out for door-busters -- and fender-benders.

The Friday after Thanksgiving brings big sales and big crowds to shopping centers. It can also bring people closer together . . . to exchange insurance information. According to Farmers Insurance, parking lot accidents increase in number by 25 percent on Black Friday, per NerdWallet.com. Talk about an unwanted complication at the end of the year.

The (scary) facts on distracted driving

Auto rates have been on the rise, and distracted drivers getting into accidents have played a role. Travelers Insurance has put together a short interactive quiz on distracted driving, including this question: "At any moment in the day, how many people in the U.S. are using phones or electronic devices while driving?" Hint: the answer is more than a handful, to say the least. Take the quiz and see how you do.

For more on Plexus’s personal insurance services, contact a  dedicated Plexus Private Client Solutions team member at 847.307.6100, or contact us via the Web.

New shingles vaccine approved

By Integrated Health Concepts, LLC

On October 20, 2017, the FDA approved a new shingles vaccine (also known as herpes zoster). Adults aged 50 years and older can use the vaccine, called  Shingrix.

Patients that received the older vaccine for shingles are encouraged to speak to their physician regarding revaccination with Shingrix once it becomes available.

The new vaccine’s efficacy to prevent the development of herpes zoster (HZ) at four years' follow-up was 97 percent overall in subjects older than 50 years of age, and around 90 percent in participants older than 70-years-old1. Contrast these results with the current vaccine, Zostavax. The efficacy of Zostavax to reduce the burden of illness from HZ falls from 61.1 percent at Year Four to 37.3 percent at 11 years post-vaccination1.

Adverse reactions of Shingrix reported by study participants included pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, followed by muscle pain, fatigue, headache, shivering, fever, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Integrated Health Concepts has been in contact with multiple payers and has learned that some will add Shingrix to their preventive drug list immediately, meaning $0 member copay, as Zostavax is now, while others will follow the ACA regulations and not add Shingrix until one year after publication in the Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Let Plexus lend a hand

Have questions regarding this newsletter or or other employee benefits matters? Contact a Plexus client service team representative in Deer Park, Ill. (847.307.6100), Chicago (312.606.4800), Dallas (972.770.5010), or Oklahoma City (405.840.3033). We’re here to help – and we’re happy to help.

Publishing credit: Content provided by Integrated Health Concepts, LLC, a pharmacy consultant for The Plexus Groupe. 

References 1. [Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2017 Aug 3;13(8):1789-1797. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2017.1317410. Epub 2017 Apr 20.]

2. [Package Insert Accessed 10/31/17 via FDA.gov website.]