eBRIEFS Masthead

November 2012


Featured Article

Employment and Benefits Issues in the Wake of Sandy

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, employers with employees and operations on the East Coast face a myriad of questions regarding how to handle weather-related closures of their facilities, business disruptions, and evacuation and displacement of numerous workers and their families from their homes.  Generous employers are also considering ways to assist those affected by the storm.  Click here to continue.


In This Issue
Implications of Health Exchange Implementation
Open Enrolllment Season is Here
FMLA and Natural Disasters
How Well did 401(k) Plans Weather the Great Recession?
Insurance Considerations for Superstorm Sandy
Reconsidering Flood Insurance

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 Legislative/Regulatory Update

Obama Administration Extends Deadline for State Exchanges


The Obama administration has given states more time to submit plans to set up state-based health insurance exchanges, a concession to the reality that many states had delayed planning until they saw who won the presidential election. Click here to continue.

Employers Must Provide Notice to Participants of State Health Insurance Exchange by March 1, 2013


The health care reform laws amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers to provide their employees with a written notice about the State Health Exchanges and to explain some of the benefits and consequences to employees if they choose to purchase a qualified health plan through the State Exchange instead of electing coverage under an employer-sponsored health plan. Click here to continue.

IRS Extends Filing and Payment Deadline for Businesses Affected by Hurricane Sandy


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is granting individuals and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy until February 1st, 2013 to file various returns and accompanying payments normally due in October and January. This relief applies to affected taxpayers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, following recent disaster declarations for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Click here to continue.

IRS Announces Retirement Plan Limits for 2013


The Internal Revenue Service today announced cost-of-living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2013. Click here to continue.

IRS Employee Plans News


Click here to view the November issue of the IRS employer newsletter. 


 Health Care Reform

Implications of Health Insurance Exchange Implementation


The health benefits purchasing dynamic that has existed for decades in the United States, involving providers, payers, employers, and members, is likely to change dramatically with the emergence of health insurance exchanges, mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Click here to continue.

 Benefit Trends

Open Enrollment Season is Here


The fall season is a time of change, especially for HR and benefit professionals. Fall brings more than just daylight savings time change or the colors of the trees, it brings open enrollment. Each year HR and benefit professionals must provide employees with options for the next plan year. Click here to continue.

Seven Factors Driving Up Your Health Care Costs


There is no one villain in the battle against rising health care costs. Currently, the United States spends more on health care services than any other country, exceeding $2.6 trillion, or about 18 percent of gross domestic product. Most years, medical spending rises faster than inflation and the economy as a whole. Many factors -- and nearly everyone - contributes to those increases. Click here to continue.

Employers Tie Health Care Financial Incentives to Specific Outcomes


After Confluence Technologies Inc., a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer of software products for the financial services industry, introduced its wellness incentives program, the company found it was a big hit - with those who were already physically active. Click here to continue.

Big Changes in Store for Health FSAs in 2013


Thanks to health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), employees will be able to put aside a maximum of $2,500 in their health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for tax years starting in 2013. With the open enrollment season currently upon us for most employees, some employees may be just starting to become aware of this change. Click here to continue.


 HR and Payroll Issues

FMLA and Natural Disasters      


Natural disasters like Sandy raise a host of issues for employers: how do you pay your employees during suspended operations?  Whether and to what extent should health benefits and other benefits be offered?  Click here to continue.

Handling Post-Sandy Payroll


As several states and scores of employers begin the difficult task of rebuilding and/or restoring life and business after Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy's devastating effects, it seems trivial to ask questions about things like employee classification and FLSA rules. However, correctly handling such issues is key to making sure employers get back up and running as quickly as possible, and can ease employees' minds as well. Click here to continue. 

NLRB Says Your At-Will Policy May Not Violate Labor Law After All


Good news: The National Labor Relations Board has backed off its stance against at-will policies in employee handbooks - at least a little. Click here to continue. 


 Retirement Plans

How Well Did 401(k) Plans Weather the Great Recession? 

The annual Transamerica Retirement Survey offers an enlightening look at retirement plan trends from both the employer and employee perspective and provides recommendations for improvements to plan sponsors, participants and policymakers. Click here to continue. 

A 401(k) That Promises Income for Life


While anything resembling your father's pension is unlikely to return, one large company has overhauled its 401(k) plan so workers can receive a paycheck for life.... In fact, the plan is one of the first by a large employer to include annuities within the walls of its 401(k), specialists say. And in an even bolder move, the company is automatically enrolling employees into the program if they do not select other options on their own. Click here to continue.

Participants of All Ages Prefer to Receive Retirement Plan Information on Paper


The financial services industry has recently intensified its lobbying of Congress and the Administration to allow retirement plans to send out all legally required retirement plan documents electronically, unless the participant asks for paper. Click here to continue.


 Risk Management

Insurance Considerations for Superstorm Sandy


Businesses impacted by the storm should look to their insurance policies for funds to help rebuild and cover losses, including business interruption, resulting from the storm. Some covered losses may precede damage from the storm itself, including costs associated with shutdowns in advance of the impending wind, rain and flooding. As discussed below, notice to insurers and careful review of policies are important first steps in preserving rights to coverage. Click here to continue.

Risk Management Services Newsletter


Click here to read the current issue of our Risk Management newsletter.

Understanding Common Aspects of Claims Resolution


Dealing with workers' compensation claims isn't always as straightforward as one might hope. Unfortunately, as an employer, sooner or later you will have to deal with an employee injury. To help you through the process, here is a breakdown of some of the common concerns employers have while working through claims. Click here to continue.

Zurich/Advisen Poll Finds Cyber Risk Awareness Increasing


A note from Zurich Insurance indicates that the "vast majority of risk professionals say information security and other cyber risks are at least a moderate threat to their organizations," according to a new survey sponsored by Zurich and administered by Advisen. Click here to continue.


 Personal Lines

Reconsidering Flood Insurance


In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, homeowners and renters who have insurance are discovering what it covers - and what it doesn't - while those with minimal or no insurance may be recalculating their risks.  Click here to continue. 

Be Prepared for the Next CAT


The devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy drive home the point that personal catastrophe planning is an essential part of any personal risk management program. Catastrophes, whether natural or manmade, can strike individuals and families at any time without warning. Click here to continue.

Top 10 Contractor Hiring Tips for Homeowners


A home is a very valuable asset. And proper maintenance is a key factor in the retention and growth of a home's value. This factor is one reason why it is important for homeowners to hire highly qualified contractors when making major repairs or renovations. Click here to continue.

Do I have Any Control Over My Auto Insurance Rates?


The New Jersey automobile insurance marketplace continues to be in a constant state of change. Click here to continue.