Benefits Blog: Tips for a Successful Open Enrollment

Once a year, the floodgates fly open and a benefits bonanza begins.  It’s Open Enrollment, a slice of time when employers make benefits packages available to employees, who must then sift through options on the way to selecting the best protections for them and their families.

Open Enrollment can be overwhelming. Employees can re-evaluate their current benefits and make 
changes for the coming year, while employers must choose a 
benefits package that balances cost and value and facilitate 
the enrollment process.

Benefit
 offerings change as new demands on employees 
and employers arise. To make the
 process as smooth as possible, employers must educate and communicate with their employees 
effectively.

As employer-sponsored benefits transition to more voluntary, employee-paid or employee-subsidized offerings, employees must assume more control in making smart decisions. Benefit information should be conveyed in an easy-to-understand format providing essential information, along with any additional helpful resources.

The typical Open Enrollment process looks like this:

Notification: Employers send out an organization-wide announcement alerting employees that open enrollment will begin shortly.

Receipt: Employers distribute information about benefit plans, selection information and the appropriate forms to their employees, as well as information from selections made the previous year. 
Employers may offer employees additional information as appropriate to assist in decision-making.

Deliberation: Employees research available options and discuss with family to determine which benefits they will select for the coming year.

Decision: Employees select their benefits.

The Open Enrollment process can be improved by:

— Establishing solid communication between the HR department and employees.

— Surveying the employee population to determine their priorities.

— Customizing benefits and information resources to the life stages of your employees.

There’s a lot riding on the process and the decisions made during Open Enrollment, but by taking some strategic steps, all parties can emerge from the experience feeling good about the choices made and the benefits to be provided over the coming year.

Contact the Benefits Team at The Reschini Group for more help with your Open Enrollment questions.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Back to Basics: Top Five Ways to Avoid a Cyber Attack

Hackers and digital saboteurs are here to stay.  But that doesn’t mean surrendering to their threats and actions.  Sometimes the best ways are the tried and true ones, and that is generally true when it comes to cybersecurity, as well.

According to Cybersecurity Insiders*, here are the top five ways to protect your company from a cyber attack:

Hardware: Have secure and sophisticated hardware, which is password protected and backed up by two-way authentication. Also, it is better if you don’t overlook the effectiveness of protecting your data storage drivers. Because if neglected, then it gives an opportunity to anyone and everyone to walk away with your firm’s sensitive data.

Physical Security: Most data breaches occur when stolen equipment reaches the hands of hackers. For instance, if an employee loses his/her laptop, then sensitive data can easily reach the bad guys.  So, outline physical security strategies storing the data on the cloud, which is protected by multiple security layers, and imposing responsible security policies among all employees.

Encrypting Data:  Encrypted data becomes useless to a hacker, most of whom could not break into the encryption in the first place.

Backing Up Data: Having a backup copy of the latest data protects you even if a hacker accesses your system.  The backup needs to be done in an effective manner and must be in an immediately retrievable form.

Cybersecurity Insurance: Should an attack occur, most cybersecurity policies today not only cover the financial loss caused from data theft but also help in co-paying the costs involved in recovering data, including paying data recovery experts and buying new hardware and software.

Don’t let your guard down.  Protect what’s yours.  The professionals at The Reschini Group are available to help determine some appropriate options for your specific circumstances.

* https://www.cybersecurity-insiders.com/ways-to-prevent-cyber-attacks-on-your-company/


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Filling Gaps: Errors & Omissions for Contractors

At first blush, the very term “general liability” might strike you as a big enough blanket to cover just about any ordinary event from a insurance standpoint.  After all, “general” is right there in the name, right?

Well, not so fast, friend.

A general liability policy does offer coverage of a fair scope of routine exposures, but not all.  For those who make their living as contractors to outside clients, additional coverage in the form of an errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy many times makes financial sense.

An E&O policy for contractors covers the policyholder for negligent acts and omissions that may harm his or her clients. An E&O policy is also known as a professional liability insurance (PLI) policy, and is often deemed an essential coverage for professionals who provide a service for a fee.

For example, say a contractor did a substandard job installing equipment for a business client.  Under general liability coverage, it would be up to that contractor to replace the work at cost.  But with E&O coverage, the contractor’s insurance provider would be able to pay the claim, thereby saving the contractor those out-of-pocket costs.

E&O coverage fills a potentially significant financial gap for contractors.  A word of warning, however – it can be difficult to acquire this additional coverage if the contractor has been subject to similar issues with clients in the past.

It’s always a good idea to see where any possible gaps in your liability coverage may exist.  Talk with the professionals at The Reschini Group to learn more.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Unabated: Current Cybersecurity Trends

It’s such an obvious question, but one that bears repeating: Does your business have adequate contingency plans in the case of a cyberattack?

From malware and loss of data to reputational damage, the fallout from an attack could harm your business significantly, and from a number of different and distinct directions – not the least of which is business interruption and the major loss of income it could represent.

Here are a few of the most common cyberattacks seen in 2019 and continuing so far this year, according to FounderShield*:

Malware Attack – When a cybercriminal installs malicious software in your system without your consent, wreaking havoc on your daily business operations.

Phishing Attack – When a cybercriminal sends fraudulent communications via email that may seem legitimate—typically appearing from a trusted source—but instead is meant to install malware or trick people into handing out personal and sensitive information.

Man-in-the-Middle Attack – When a cyberattacker stealthily slips into your system between a two-party transaction, such as public Wi-Fi, interrupting your traffic by installing malware, giving the cybercriminal plenty of time and space to steal your information.

Denial-of-Service Attack – When used by competitors, Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks overtake your networks to drain your resources and bandwidth by stopping your system from fulfilling authorized requests—from clients or customers, for example.

SQL Injection Attack – When a cyberattacker uses malicious code to force your Structured Query Language (SQL) servers into divulging sensitive information, potentially modifying your data, administrative operations, or operating system.

Mitigating such data breaches requires substantial costs in notifying customers, providing credit-monitoring services, restoring files and computer systems, dealing with lawsuits, and paying regulatory fines, all of which create additional financial losses following the cyberattack.  A cyberattack could also put your reputation at risk. While plenty of trustworthy companies experience breaches, such an episode erodes a brand’s image of security and trust.

The threat from cyberattacks continues unabated, so make sure you’re adequately protected with cybersecurity insurance.  Talk with the professionals at The Reschini Group to learn more.

* https://foundershield.com/cyber-insurance-trends-2020/


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Who’s Who: Subsidiaries Covered Under Policies

When in the course of building, expanding, and simply conducting business through the years, changes occur in staffing, locations, even terms of ownership as partners join, percentages of proceeds shift, and other variables ebb and flow.

That’s completely natural and justified. But what happens when an insurance claim enters the picture? Are the lines of demarcation as clear to an outside agent as they might be to those inside the enterprise?

Every insurance policy states “Who is insured.” The importance of knowing who that pertains to specifically swiftly moves into high relief, however, when terms of that policy need to be carefully examined on the way to determining payment of damages.

Subtle differences may exist, so be sure to understand the specifics in your unique structure. A good organizational chart, kept up to date and checked for complete accuracy, must be there for a third-party agent to use. If that chart is out of date or in any way inaccurate, it can be a significant challenge to say it should not be used.

When your coverage comes into play for any reason, make sure all of your documentation paints the most current and accurate picture of how your business is structured, including ownership percentages, how those owners are invested and compensated, and any other pertinent terms. Also, make sure all affected parties inside the organization have reviewed and agree to what those documents show.

It’s critical to know who’s who when it comes to how a business is owned and operated. Contact the professionals at The Reschini Group to learn more.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Report Card: Filing the Form 5500 Annual Return

Data drives decisions.  Data reveals trends.  Data is the lifeblood of business and government.  And data provides the underpinning of one of an employer’s most important documents each year – the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefits Plan.

This annual report filed by employee benefit plan administrators is used by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to consolidate the main annual reporting requirements for employee benefit plans.  The Form 5500 series is intended to protect the rights and benefits of plan participants and beneficiaries by assuring that:

  • Employee benefit plans are operated and managed in accordance with certain prescribed standards
  • Employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries are provided with or have access to sufficient plan information

In addition, the Form 5500 series is an important compliance, research and disclosure tool for the DOL. It is also a source of information and data for use by other federal agencies, Congress and the private sector in assessing employee benefit, tax and economic trends and policies.

Small welfare benefit plans that are unfunded or fully insured (or a combination of unfunded and insured) are exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement. A small welfare benefit plan is one that has fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year.

A welfare benefit plan is unfunded if benefits are paid as needed directly from the general assets of the employer. Plans that use a trust or separately maintained fund to pay benefits are not considered unfunded. A plan is insured if benefits are paid through insurance policies. If premiums are paid by employees, the employer must forward the employee contributions no later than three months after receipt.

The Form 5500 series must be administered completely and carefully.  Contact the Benefits team at The Reschini Group to learn more and to set up a meeting.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Not Quite Enough: General Liability Insufficient for Cyber Coverage

Take a look at your business’ general liability insurance policy, and you’ll probably see a reference to property damage.  To the uninitiated, that sounds like it covers a multitude of potential events – even an online hack or attack, right?

Wrong.  Seriously wrong.

Cyber liability insurance is not automatically included in a general liability policy.  Cyber liability insurance, priced and purchased as its own policy, can pay for expenses if a small business suffers a data breach or malicious software attack, including customer notification, credit monitoring, legal fees, and fines.

According to Insureon.com, when criminals infiltrate a network, steal data, or hold data hostage, the business they steal from could be held liable. A data breach at a small business can end up costing thousands of dollars in customer notification expenses, legal fees, and fines or settlements.  In fact, the average cost of a small business data breach is $86,500, according to the Internet security firm Kaspersky Labs. The coverage included in cyber liability insurance pays these costs, allowing your company to survive a breach.

And don’t assume that hackers won’t come after small businesses.  A recent report by Verizon found that 61% of all cyberattacks hit small businesses, and that those attacks often succeed because small businesses are less likely to have a strong defense.

Cyber liability insurance is key for companies that handle sensitive information, work in the cloud, operate in cybersecurity, or typically handle:.

  • Credit card or bank account information
  • Medical information
  • Social Security or driver license numbers
  • Customer names, email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses
  • Cybersecurity for other businesses

Contact the professionals at The Reschini Group to learn more about fashioning an appropriate cyber liability insurance package for your business.  Your existing general liability policy may not be quite enough.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

 

Showing Your Cards: Insisting on Pre-Employment Physicals

Poker has always been a game more reliant on intent and projection than on the actual collection of cards in a given player’s hand.  That’s what makes it a gamble.

But if a player would show his or her hand before the betting and calls began, all of the excitement and tension would immediately disappear. The gamble would be over.  The outcome would be immediately known.  Safe and predictable.

To apply this example to the operation of a business, unlike a poker game, no one wants to gamble with outcomes.  The idea of a safe, predictable set of facts and conditions sounds perfect.  So let’s not hide the cards we hold.  Let’s show them all, right up front.

One of the best ways any business can pursue this strategy comes in the form of conducting pre-employment physicals, performed by a licensed physician, to determine a candidate’s physical fitness for the job an employer wants to fill.

Sounds so obvious and logical, right?  But not every employer insists on this simple process – or they bring candidates on before the process has been completed – and in either case, the consequences can be costly, embarrassing, and damaging to short- and long-term profitability.

For example, say a company hires and places a group of new employees into its field operations before receiving the results of their physicals.  One of the new recruits suffers an injury almost immediately.  The physical may have given the employer enough information to keep this person from a job with conditions that he was not capable of safely executing.

It’s imperative to remember that you as the employer are responsible for whatever physical conditions are present among your employees.  That means in the example that the employer was on the hook for medical costs and recovery programs for the injured employee – all of which might have been easily avoided by not rushing the person into an inappropriate role.

A pre-employment physical examination helps to guarantee the employer of a lower rate of absenteeism due to sickness, injuries, or occupational hazard.  It also helps avoid workers compensation issues, lost production, and higher operational costs.

In short, the benefits far outweigh the costs.  Show all your cards right up front and take the gamble out of operating your business by conducting and abiding by pre-employment physicals for all new hires.  Contact the professionals at The Reschini Group to learn more.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Touchpoint: Preparing a Summary Plan Description (SPD)

Benefits packages represent a two-edged sword – they’re incredibly important in providing for and protecting yourself and your family, while they also can be rather challenging to read and fully understand.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Labor requires employers to provide each employee with a Summary Plan Description (SPD).  This key compliance document for virtually every Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan “is the primary vehicle for informing participants and beneficiaries about their rights and benefits under the employee benefit plans in which they participate,” according to the DOL.

The SPD must be written so as to be understood by the average plan participant and must be sufficiently comprehensive to inform participants about their rights and obligations under the plan. Also, ERISA and underlying DOL regulations include strict requirements for the content and delivery of SPDs.

The SPD must be automatically distributed to plan participants by certain deadlines. It also must be provided upon a participant’s request. The SPD must include specific types of information, such as the plan’s eligibility rules.  Virtually all group health plans subject to ERISA must provide participants with an SPD, regardless of size.

ERISA does not require that a plan document be in any particular format. However, the plan document must address:

  • Benefits and eligibility;
  • Funding of benefits;
  • Procedures for allocating and delegating plan responsibilities;
  • Plan amendment and termination procedures;
  • Designation of named fiduciary; and
  • Required provisions for group health plans, such as COBRA rights and HIPAA compliance.

ERISA does not require plan administrators to provide a new SPD booklet every year. An updated SPD must be provided every five years if material modifications are made to the SPD’s information during that time period. If no changes are made, then an updated SPD must be provided every 10 years.  It is typical, however, for plan design changes to be made each year, particularly for group health plans.

A “wrap” document supplements existing documentation to fill in the missing ERISA-required provisions. When a wrap document is used, the ERISA plan document comprises two pieces: 1) the insurance certificate or benefits booklet; and 2) the wrap document itself.

Employers who fail to prepare an SPD may face serious penalties.  Contact the Benefits team at The Reschini Group to learn more and to set up a meeting.

Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group


The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

A La Carte: The Need to Customize Cyber Insurance

“You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”

So said Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web.  And who would know better?

In that same spirit of seeing the Internet as a loose conglomeration of ideas and innovation, with billions of people passing through at any given time, no wonder the world of cyber insurance can be so difficult to pin down.

As a result, most cyber insurance is sold a la carte.  Because each business owner has a distinct set of needs, employee variables, interactions with other entities in the supply chain and customer channels, and other factors to consider, assembling an insurance plan to meet all of those needs – each of which remains fluid and subject to adjustment at all times – can require a lot of homework and planning.

Policies in this sphere are highly customized collections of modular coverage terms.  Premiums and payouts can depend on a company’s history, data risks and exposures, current practices, financial health, and more.  The wise business owner does not select a cyber protection policy based on cost, but rather on need.

When it works well, the premium for a cyber policy matches the business’ risk profile.  To save on premium costs, in other words, make your cybersecurity systems stronger and tighter.  Regardless of how well your cyber operations function, though, making sure you’re protected remains a paramount goal.

Contact the professionals at The Reschini Group for guidance on building a cyber insurance policy tailored to your precise business needs.


Copyright 2020 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.