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Group Health Insurance for Business

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer mandate now (as of 01/01/2016) requires businesses with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees to provide health coverage for their employees and dependents or face a tax penalty. Many clients in the service industry have asked me “what constitutes a Full Time Equivalent?”

Here is the definition directly from the IRS –

Full-time Employee

A full-time employee for any calendar month is an employee who has on average at least 30 hours of service per week during the calendar month, or at least 130 hours of service during the calendar month.
Full-Time Equivalent Employees

An employer determines its number of full-time-equivalent employees for a month in the two steps that follow:

  1. Combine the number of hours of service of all non-full-time employees for the month but do not include more than 120 hours of service per employee, and
  2. divide the total by 120.

The other significant change that occurred on January 1, 2016 is that  the definition of a small business in California has expanded to include groups with 1-100 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.

Covered California for Small Business has expanded its eligibility requirements to allow small groups with 1-100 FTE employees to join the program as of January 1, 2016. This “small business expansion,” in combination with the ACA’s employer mandate, means that many businesses may be shopping for coverage for the first time.  If a group’s FTE number is at least 50, the employer will be required to offer coverage to all dependent children up to the age of 26. If the employer chooses to not offer dependent coverage, the employer may be subject to tax penalties under the IRS Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions.

Remember, 01/31/2016 is the deadline for open enrollment in 2016.

Please give us a call if we can help answer any questions for you!

 

CEA Announces coverage enhancements effective January 2016

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) has published coverage enhancements not previously available including options of $150,000 and $200,000 for Coverage C – Personal Property; options of $50, $75 and $100,000 for Loss of Use; increased coverage amount on Building Code Upgrade of $30,000; and a new limit for Loss Assessment in the amount of $100,000 is now available.  They have also added some sub limit items that will benefit the policyholders as well.

Along with this announcement the CEA said that on a statewide basis, rates are averaging a reduction of 10% that will vary depending on the type of policy, coverage and rating territory.

Remember that with Earthquake it is not about if, but of when.  Protection is a serious consideration in order to protect the equity that you have in your property. Please feel free to give us a call for a quote and coverage recommendations.  There is also additional information available on the CEA website which is www.earthquakeauthority.com.

Don’t forget that effective with August 2015 renewals Farmers is also offering a discount on Homeowners Insurance to those who protect their property with a CEA policy.

California Wildfires are back!

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

Every year it seems we kick off Wildfire season with a horrific event and this year is no different. After the Fire of last week and scenes of burned out vehicles on the 15, now strong winds and heavy rain have caused damage to properties in Ramona, Perris, Moreno Valley and surrounding areas. The current drought conditions seem to be in contrast with the heavy rain we have experienced but be assured that even with last weekends storms and the prediction of El Nino conditions this winter, we need to be extra cautious about protecting our property.  Here is a list of items you can perform on your property to help prevent a loss.

 

  • Contact your nearest local fire department and ask about the local fire danger levels in your area.
  • Create a defensible space around your home. Defensible space is the 100 foot radius zone around your property. Trim back all trees or branches that hang over or touch your roof. Keep plants and trees trimmed and remove all dry branches, bushes, shrubs and vegetation. Did you know that some plants are more fire resistant than others? (Learn more about that here.)
  • Keep all flammable materials at least 50 feet away from your home. These items include firewood, paint cans, propane tanks and debris.
  • If your home has a wood roof, consider replacing it with ignition resistant roofing materials.
  • If the exterior of your home is made of wood siding or other combustible home siding, consider replacing it with fire-resistant materials such as stucco, brick, fiber-cement or wood products factory-treated with fire retardant.
  • Inspect your home (including decks) for any signs of dry rot and repair these areas. Decaying wood is very flammable.
  • Review your home insurance policy. Do you have enough coverage? Every year, the cost to rebuild a home can change. Maybe you’ve made some upgrades that your current home policy doesn’t cover? The cost of labor and materials may have increased since your last policy review.

Of course, always feel free to call us for further tips, information or analysis of your property at any time.

 

 

Insurance commissioner approves new insurance product to fill gap for UberX, Lyft and Sidecar ride-hailing drivers. Farmers Insurance steps up to meet insurance need driven by new technology.

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

The following is the content of a press release issued by the California Department of Insurance this morning.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.- As demand for ridesharing or ride-hailing services continues to increase for business and personal travel, closing insurance gaps to protect consumers is a priority. Insurance Commissioner Jones announced today that he has approved a new insurance product submitted by Farmers Insurance that closes the gap in insurance coverage for drivers driving for ride-hailing companies, such as UberX, Lyft and Sidecar. Jones was joined by Farmers Group, Inc. CEO Jeff Dailey who also announced the new insurance product is available to consumers starting May 28 through its thousands of Farmers agents across the state.
“Closing the insurance gaps in ride-hailing coverage is essential to making sure passengers, other drivers and pedestrians are protected when ride-hailing vehicles are on the road,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “I’m pleased to see Farmers, one of California’s major insurers, offer a product that closes the coverage gap.”

The popularity of ride-hailing services is evidenced by the exponential growth from 2014, when Lyft reported averaging 2.2 million rides per month and Uber nearly 12 million. So far, in 2015, Lyft reports averaging 2.5 million and Uber 30 million rides monthly. Even the business community is embracing the services, noting a 20 percent increase in ride-hailing use from first quarter in 2014 to the same quarter in 2015.

The new product covers period one, which begins once a driver turns on the ride-hailing application and is awaiting a match. Periods two and three-the match and transport period-are covered by the ride-hailing company’s insurance. The new policy enables drivers to select coverages that fit their needs, including comprehensive and collision coverages, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages and medical payments coverage. Including Farmers ride-hailing coverage to a driver’s policy will add 8 percent to a customer’s premium.

“We want to thank Commissioner Dave Jones and his team for their leadership in helping to make this important, new coverage available to California drivers. As a California-based company, Farmers is proud to be the first major insurer to offer rideshare coverage to consumers in the state,” said Dailey. “We recognize the sharing economy will continue to have a long lasting effect on our state and we are committed to continue to work with the commissioner and the entire department on innovative solutions for the benefit of California’s consumers.”

Cyber Liablity

Written by Timothy Shannon on . Posted in Uncategorized

An online tech report for USA Today on December 9, 2014 had a lot to say on the impact of damage from a cyber breach. The report highlights that small business owners can protect themselves from cyberbreaches with cyber liability insurance. “In some ways, just the process of getting the insurance is protective. It makes companies look closely at their risk. That includes things like who has access to what data, where data is stored and whether any third-party vendors pose a risk.”

An August 2013 survey done by the Ponemon Institute, an independent data security organization, found that 76% of business owners who’ve experienced a cyberbreach say it is at least as disruptive as natural disasters and fires. In addition, the average cost to remediate is now $201 per record.

According to a 2014 survey conducted by Marsh & McLennan Agency only 33% of small- to mid-sized companies have a cyber liability policy, an increase over 2013, which came in at 16%.

While large cases like Target and Sony Pictures grab the headlines, Main Street business are not immune to cyber breach risk. These businesses process credit card transactions, keep employee records, and in many cases have a website that collects information from visitors and customers.

Cyber Liability and Data Breach Expense coverage is an essential safety net for any small business. The premium is comparatively small for the great value received and it complements the coverage a business owner carries in their business owner policy. If you have any questions regarding this important coverage please feel free to call my office!

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The Shannon Agency
Timothy G. Shannon, CLF, AIM, LUTCF

Phone: (800) 999-5729
Fax: (877) 625-9370