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Relief for Business — Overtime Pay Rule Blocked

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Just before Thanksgiving a federal judge blocked President Obama’s executive order on new overtime rules. If enacted — or when — the president’s action raises the exempt threshold for salaried executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees that are currently exempt from overtime.


The regs were blocked by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III in Texas. In his ruling the judge said, “If Congress intended the salary requirement to supplant the duties test, then Congress and not the department, should make that change.”


The block gives relief to employers — especially small employers — that would have required overtime pay for weekly pay of $455 a week or $23,600 annually or less. The new threshold would have been $913 per week or $47,476 a year. Proponents said currently just 7% of the workers in the categories noted earlier are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act.


That compares to 62% in 1975.


The Labor Department is considering legal options. “We strongly disagree with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans. The department’s overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rule-making process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule,” the department said in a statement.


Opponents disagree and the states argued the president and the department failed to take regional salary and regional economic differences into account when setting the new base rate of pay. Those same opponents also said there was a clear disregard on whether smaller private and public employers could afford to pay those increased salaries.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the cost of the implementation of the rules could be $1 billion or more.


And it gets even worse when considering those salaries will rise every three years said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who noted the Obama administration “assumes that through force of will alone, it could order a new economic reality into existence The finalized overtime rule hurts the American worker. It limits workplace flexibility without a corresponding increase in pay and forces employers to cut their workers hours.”


Meanwhile the Justice Department has asked the judge to let the rules go into place in the 29 states not involved in the suit. No word as to whether the judge will allow it.


But will action by the Labor Department and the president even matter? Most speculate the incoming Trump administration will reverse it anyway even if the judge lifts the stay. During the campaign President Elect Trump said, “Rolling back the overtime regulation is just one example of the many regulations that need to be addressed to do that. We would love to see a delay or a carve-out of sorts for our small business owners.”


By the way, Judge Mazzant was appointed by President Obama.


Source links: Insurance Journal, The Hill, MSN Money, Tri-City Herald



Tags:  Business  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Relief for Business — Overtime Pay Rule Blocked  Weekly Industry News 

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Suit to Stop Corporate Inversion Regulations

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lots of political talk these days about U.S. jobs and about corporations based in this country sending jobs — and worse — assets overseas. It’s a tax ploy known as inversion.


Political candidates from Hilary to The Donald to Bernie Sanders have decried the process. So has President Obama and in April of this year the U.S. Treasury put new regulations in place to stop — or at least slow down — the process.


It hit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrong and the Chamber is tag-teaming with the Texas Association of Business and going after the Treasury’s new regs. A suit was filed in a Texas federal court claiming the administration overstepped its authority.


Here’s how inversions work. Companies started doing them in 1983. They purchase a small company in a foreign country with a lower corporate tax rate. The U.S. company then makes it the legal tax domicile. But it’s only on paper. Corporate operations remain in the U.S.


What it does is erode the nation’s tax base. And it must be noted here that inversions are legal. These days Ireland, England and Canada are the most popular destinations.


Critics — and the Obama administration is among them — say this is nothing more than a complicated way to avoid tax obligations and put more profits in the hands of stockholders.


What brought all this to light is the new Treasury rules scuttling a merger between Ireland’s drug company Allergan Plc and Pfizer. It was a $160 billion deal and the largest inversion ever — if it had gone through.


While not commenting on that transaction specifically, Tom Donohue — who heads the U.S. Chamber — said, Treasury and the IRS ignored the clear limits of a statute, and simply rewrote the law unilaterally. This is not the way government is supposed to work in America.”


The Treasury disagrees and said the rules are within its legal authority. And the spokeswoman said the Treasury will continue to defend the new regulations.


Legal experts say the 1867 Anti-Injunction Act says no legal challenge can be brought against a tax until it is assessed. The Chamber and the association disagree and say the administration must follow the Administrative Procedure Act which spells out how agencies must do regulations.


The two plaintiffs also contend the Treasury acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner and did not give the public notice or allow it to comment.


Source link: Insurance Journal


Tags:  business  corporate  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Suit to Stop Corporate Inversion Regulations  Weekly Industry News 

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Conference Call Behavior: Women Trump Men

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Conference calls. More and more they’re replacing actual face-to-face meetings. Some are visual. Others oral only. And don’t we just love ‘em. In a way, they’re more convenient. We don’t have to pack up and travel somewhere. That said, since we don’t have to pack up and travel, our supervisors are having more of them.


Or so it seems. Heavy sigh.


And now — in a world that has gone study crazy — someone has taken a long took at conference call behavior. The firm is InterCall. No surprise, it’s a conference call provider.


Here’s what the company learned:


  Women are more polite and less pushy during conference calls than men.

  Women are also more prompt.

  They’re more likely than a man to dial in five-or-more minutes early.

  Men will come on board closer to the scheduled start time.

  Men are also more likely to text those who are late for the meeting than women.

  Men are more outspoken in conference calls and they tend to get the meeting going by talking about sports.

  Only 17% of women running a meeting will use sports as a jump starter.


Age matters in conference calls:


  Millennials are criticized for multitasking but not for their promptness.

  Just 13% of those 18 to 36 dial in at the last minute.

  Baby boomers are just as prompt and just 16% of those 46 to 60 are there at the last minute.

  Older employees are more likely to hang up and not tell others they’re leaving the call.

  17% of those 36 to 45 will do that and 11% of those 46 to 60 go away without saying goodbye.

  Just 6% of participants 18 to 35 hang up without notifying others.

  People 36 and above are three-times less likely to tell someone they’re going to be late for a conference call than those that are younger.

  Millennials are known for their courtesy on these calls but they continue to be dependent on each other during a call and admit to checking social media while on hold.

  Just 17% of the older groups do that.


Source link: Carrier Management


Tags:  business  Conference Call Behavior: Women Trump Men  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Employee Lawsuits: A New Small & Medium Business Reality

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The insurer Hiscox, USA took a look at employee verses employer lawsuits. It found the nation’s small and medium size businesses face an — on average — 11.7% chance of being hit with an employment claim. And those claims can range from discrimination to environmental issues. These are companies with 10 employees or more and fewer than 500. 


In the PIA Western Alliance states of California, Nevada and New Mexico those odds are even higher. New Mexico is 66% higher. California sits at 40% more and Nevada is 47%. 


What is good news in the Hiscox study is the 11.7% being down from last year’s 12.5%. The reason — Hiscox said — is because this year’s study was more comprehensive than last year. That gave the company more data from states with lower employee lawsuit activity and that brought the number down.


Hiscox Executive Risk head Bertrand Spunberg said, “State laws can have a significant impact on the risk businesses face from employee charges and contribute to the variation in charges seen around the country. Many of the higher-risk states observed in the study have laws that go beyond U.S. federal guidelines, creating additional obligations and risks for employers. It is important for companies, especially those operating in these high-risk markets, to be keenly attuned to any legal developments that may affect their exposures.”


Spunberg said 10 states — like New Mexico — have anti-discrimination and fair employment practice laws that are their own and they contribute to the increases. Other states have different environmental laws. Some have different laws on pregnancy and on credit checks.


Other things to watch:



  Same-sex marriage

  Discrimination against transgendered employees

  Minimum wage


All these issues — and more — can encourage suits.


Hiscox said one in five employers — 20% — will spend an average of $125,000 to defend a suit. For those with insurance and after a deductible, the cost will be around $35,000. The median judgement for those going to trial is $200,000. One in four — 25% — that end up going to trial end face a $500,000 judgment for the employee.


And with that Spunberg offered this advice, “Prevention is the best defense against lawsuits. Simple preventative and mitigation measures such as having written hiring procedures, an up-to-date employee handbook and proper training for employees on workplace discrimination and harassment are essential to minimizing risk and protecting your business.”


Source link: Insurance Journal


Tags:  business  Employee Lawsuits: A New Small & Medium Business R  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Small Business  Weekly Industry News 

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A Warming Economy: Small Business Booming

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 6, 2015


The Great Recession hit small business hard but its starting to bounce back. Well, at least bounce back in some form or another. The National Federation of Independent Businesses said optimism of small business people hit 98.1 in August. Its the highest positivity rating since February of 2007.


Former Aon Re head and now Insureon CEO Ted Devine said the reason for the positivity hike is access to alternative capital, rapidly dropping fuel costs and tax incentives. Devine reaching them however is tricky and will require some new strategy.


This is especially true of single-person businesses and entrepreneurs. A lot of the single-person businesses dont think of themselves as businesses at all. They might be moonlighting, freelancing on the side, picking up some work from old colleagues to supplement their income. Insurance isnt on their radar, but anyone serving clients can be sued or have their property ruined in a storm. So the need is there but the awareness is not, he said.


And this is where the agent comes into play. Devine suggests you begin by asking your current business clients if they do any work on the side or if they know of anyone doing work on the side.


You may not have any clients right now who own business, but theres a good chance one of your clients knows someone who has a side business or does some freelancing or offers handyman work around the neighborhood. And once you get the word out, both about small businesses need for insurance and about yourself as someone who can write those policies, things have a way of building, Devine said.


In other words, Devine says the growing economy is encouraging people to stretch.


The economy is recovering and hiring is picking up, but wages still arent growing and a lot of hiring is still in lower-paying jobs. So people are going to continue looking to other opportunities where they can be independent and pursue their dreams, he said.


And small business and entrepreneurs like these is an insurance agency gold mine if the agency and agent-and-or-agents pay attention.


Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  A Warming Economy: Small Business Booming  Business  Economy  Small Business 

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Insurance: Business & Preparedness

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Business is not always about business. A big part of business success and thats business of any size is planning. Long term planning to be exact. One of the reasons many struggle or even fail according to the 2015 MassMutual Business Owner Perspectives Study is not knowing where to go for advice.


It says business owners are busy improving operations and taking care of employees and setting up retirement scenarios for themselves. What they arent doing says the study is preparing for when they do retire. Shockingly, said spokeswoman Tara Reynolds, is just 44% have buy-sell agreements in place.


We found that business owners are spending the majority of their time working in their businesses instead of on their businesses. Its never easy to think about death or disability, but in order to raise awareness about these longer-term issues, business owners need to be confronted directly with the potential risk and damage of unexpected events, she said.


The study found 44% worry about the death of either themselves or a key employee. When it comes to disability of the same, 42% expressed concern. Whats disconcerting is 55% rarely or never think about disability and 59% never think about the effect of death.


Keeping key employees is top of mind. Two-thirds think about it frequently and 81% say keeping those employees in the company and loyal is a top concern. Almost all 90% offer benefits like health insurance (60%), good salaries (55%) and flexible work benefits (51%).


Even more interesting is 40% not having a retirement income strategy and will have to rely on the proceeds from the sale of the business to survive after retirement. Most say theyve chosen a successor and a huge percentage of the time it is a family member. What many havent done 25% is informed that family member of the succession plan.


Not only are all businesses poor at long term planning, but small businesses in particular are also not so good at planning for disaster. A Nationwide survey found 75% of small businesses those with up to 300 employees dont have a disaster recovery plan in place.


Just 18% of those with 50 employees or less say they have one.


Nationwide Direct and Member Solutions president and CEO Mark Pizzi said a whopping 66% say on top of not having a plan, they do not have business interruption insurance either. That he says could be costly. Small businesses are least likely to have disaster recovery insurance. And yet they are the ones most affected by a disaster. Thats why its essential for small businesses to have a disaster recovery plan, Pizzi said


Heres what the survey uncovered:


  Over half say it would take them at least three months to recover from a disaster.

  That said, 38% dont think its important to have a disaster recovery plan.

  Why? 26% say there is a slim change a disaster will happen in their area.

  Another reason. 37% say climate change and El Nino make it less likely their business will be impacted by disaster.

  69% admit to having a disaster evacuation plan at home.

  34% of those without a disaster recovery plan say it is a low priority.

  11% say time is not part of the decision to not have one.

  15% say cost is not part of the decision not to have one.

  44% dont have access to generators if a disaster hits.


Source links: Carrier Management and insurancejournal.com

Tags:  business  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Insurance: Business & Preparedness  Weekly Industry News 

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SEC: Brokerages & Small Business Cyber Targets

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) just released some disturbing information. It found independent insurance agents working with brokerages and/or financial advisory companies ought to consider picking up a cyber liability insurance policy.

For themselves.

Heres where the SEC started. It said over half of the brokerages in the United States have been targeted by an email scam. And as hard to imagine as it is, the scam is a trick to get the brokerage to wire client money to the scammers.

Even harder to imagine is brokerages falling for the scam. But a bunch of them did and 26% of those falling for the scam say they lost $5,000 or more.

Moving past that, the SEC chairman Mary Jo White said 88% of the broker-dealers and 74% of the RIAs it surveyed said they have experienced a cyber attack of some sort in the last few years.

Cybersecurity threats know no boundaries. Thats why assessing the readiness of market participants and providing investors with information on how to better protect online investment accounts from cyber threats has been and will continue to be an important focus of the SEC, she said.

White notes the numbers are frightening. Even more frightening is just 58% of broker-dealers and 21% of RIAs have insurance against data breaches. She advices commercial insurance agents to purchase insurance if they dont possess that insurance.

Chubb did a study of the misconceptions of cyber insurance. Though independent insurance agents at least we hope know better, Chubb found 39% of the firms it talked with think their CGL and other coverages like professional and media liability take care of cyber attacks.

Travelers recently did a panel on cyber attacks titled Hacked: The Implications of a Cyber Breach. Timothy Francis is the enterprise lead for Cyber insurance. He told Travelers New York City gathering that large firms get all the publicity but small and mid-size companies get hit the most.

In fact 62% he contends of all of the victims of cyber breaches are small or mid-size businesses. And a cyber breach for a small or mid-size business is so expensive it could end up sending them into bankruptcy.

The Ponemon Institute just revised the cost of a breach. Its now $154 per lost or stolen record. Thats up from $145 a year ago. And the average cost of a data breach is rising. Its $3.8 million up from $3.5 million last year.

One last cyber security note. The Internal Revenue Service just admitted it was hacked and that as many as 100,000 records were compromised and it issued about $50 million in refunds from those records.


Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com, Insurance Business America, Carrier Management

Tags:  Business  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  SEC: Brokerages & Small Business Cyber Targets  Small Business  Weekly Industry News 

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Two PIA Western Alliance States Among 10 Best States for Business

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 27, 2015


The PIA Western Alliance states of Arizona and Nevada are ranked eight and nine in a list of the best states in which to do business in 2015. The listing was released a week ago in a study titled Best and Worst States for Business by the CEO-based magazine Chief Executive.

The survey looks at taxes and regulations, the quality of the workforce and the states living conditions. They are defined as the cost of living, affordable housing, social amenities, crime rates and the quality of education.

Two PIA Western Alliance states Oregon and California are among the 10-worst states to do business. Theyre 42 and 50 respectively and California is the worst of the bunch.

The PIA Western Alliance state of Idaho made the most improvement between 2014 and 2015. The state jumped 10 spots from 28 to 18. High growth in the gross domestic product is the reason.

Compared with 2014, Idaho has made the largest improvement in the CEO survey, rising 10 spots to number 18, primarily due to high growth rates in GDP

The rest of the PIA Western Alliance states land somewhere in the middle.

Texas has sat atop the survey for the last 11-years. As for California and Oregon, the survey said, California and Oregon are essentially anti-business, whereas Texas and Tennessee do everything possible to make business comfortable and more successful.

One CEO who took part in the survey said, The good states ask what they can do for you; the bad states ask what they can get from you.


These are the PIA Western Alliance states:

8. Nevada no change from last year

9. Arizona dropped two spaces from 7

18. Idaho last year 28 gained a lot of ground

29. Montana last year 31 gained ground

32. Washington last year 33 gained ground

34. Alaska last year 32 lost ground

36. New Mexico last year 30 lost a lot of ground

42. Oregon last year 38 lost a lot of ground

50. California last year 50


10 Best States for Business

1.    Texas Since 2007 when the recession began, Texas has created 1.2 million jobs. Thats more than the other 49 states combined. The other states created a little more than half that many at 700,000.

2.    Florida

3.    North Carolina

4.    Tennessee

5.    Georgia

6.    Indiana

7.    Louisiana

8.    Nevada Nevada was number eight last year, too. CEOs love the business-friendly tax rates, few government regulations and a highly educated workforce and a cost of living considered reasonable.

9.    Arizona Though it dropped two notches from seven to nine, Arizona has all of the things CEOs like low tax rates, housing costs considered reasonable, great weather, etc. The state is so attractive that its attracting and keeping big businesses like Walmart, FedEX, Honeywell, JPMorgan Chase and a bunch of others.

10. South Carolina


Source links: Chief Executive, PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  business  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Two PIA Western Alliance States Among 10 Best Stat  Weekly Industry News 

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Cyber Rates: Large, Small & More

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The biggest growing insurance line these days is cyber attack coverage. It’s a hugely competitive market for small businesses. Large companies are in a different ballpark.

Willis’ Matt Keeping keeps track of such things and said things are positive for insurance buyers and some softening conditions exist. But cyber coverage for point of service retailers is rising a minimum of 10% this year and — in some cases — hits a maximum of 125% at renewal 

It’s much better to be a smaller business but smaller businesses aren’t buying. At least not now. And the reasons are ironic. 

   A staggering 95% say they do not possess cyber insurance.

   But a very high percentage — 81% — of those surveyed a cyber attack is a huge concern.

Or so says Endurance International Groups 2015 Small Business & CyberSecurity survey. The company’s CEO Hari Ravichandran said, “Cyber attacks arent just about targeting big business. In our current environment, its not a question of if your business will be targeted, but when. This should be a wake-up call to both lawmakers and the small business community that we must remain vigilant in protecting against these cyber threats.”

Here are other statistics from the survey:

   94% occasionally or frequently think about cyber security issues.

   31% of small businesses have experienced an attempted or actual attack.

   Just 11% have an IT person on staff or an outside IT consultant to handle cyber security.

   83% of owners say they handle cyber security matters alone.

   63% have security software or other measures installed to defend against cyber attacks.

   42% of small businesses have invested in cyber security protections in the last year.

   70% dont believe the federal government is doing enough to fight cyber attacks.

   83% support efforts by the federal governments Small Business Administration to provide tax incentives or grants to small businesses that invest in cyber security protections.


Source links: insurancejournal.com and Carrier Management

Tags:  business  Cyber Insurance  Cyber Rates: Large  Cyber Security  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Small & More  Weekly Industry News 

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The Business of Business in a Rapidly Changing Economic Climate

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In one of his most famous songs, popular folk singer and icon Bob Dylan once wrote the times they are a changing. And they are. The U.S. economy has been shaken to the bone by the recent recession and is still struggling to recover, and by a populace that is continuing to shop online.

Both have had enormous impact on the U.S. economy and U.S. business.

Over the last two weeks, Weekly Industry News looked at business trends in the U.S. Our first story showed eight industries that wont be a part of the U.S. business climate much longer.

Well list them at the end of this story. Last week we listed 10 big name stores that are struggling and closing stores. They are:

1.    Abercrombie & Fitch

2.    Aeropostale

3.    Barnes and Noble

4.    Family Dollar

5.    JC Penny

6.    Macys

7.    Office Depot

8.    RadioShack

9.    Sears Holdings

10. Staples


Here are 10 stores that are seeing serious expansion. You notice one easy to spot trend. The stores seeing the most growth are bargain basement offering very cheap or very inexpensive merchandise.

Three of the biggest boomers are dollar stores.

  Mens Warehouse Business is good. Look for 100 new stores. And it just completed the purchase of rival Jos. A. Bank and that gives the company 600 more stores.

  Hobby Lobby Other than becoming practically a household name because of the U.S. Supreme Court challenge, Hobby Lobby is also a solid business model and will be adding 101 new locations to the 600 it already has.

  Dick's Sporting Goods Web operations and a solid business model is propelling the company forward and it will add 105 new stores.

  O'Reilly Auto Parts Auto parts is a growing business and OReillys saw a 16% increase in business in the fourth quarter of last year. It will open 200 new stores.

  Tim Hortons The merger last year with Burger King means the two firms now possess 18,000 stores in 100 countries. To celebrate the Canadian coffee and donut shop is going to add 300 new stores to the 4,500 it already owns and operates.

  Family Dollar Its going to add 375 stores and is anxiously awaiting a Federal Trade Commission decision on whether it can purchase Dollar Tree for $8.5 billion. And by the way Family Dollar is the only retailer to make the top-10 list in the most store openings and the most store closings.

  Dollar Tree Last year the company opened 90 new stores. Another 375 are planned in the future. The business is complicated because of the proposed merger with Family Dollar and antitrust authorities reviewing the possible closure of 500 of them.

  Dunkin Donuts The Company will open 410 stores to add to the 405 they did last year. To date there are 11,000 Dunkin Donuts around the world.

  Forever 21 Business is booming and 470 stores will be added this year for the cheap merchandise clothing store. In the next three-years Forever 21 will add another 600 to double the current base of stores.

  Dollar General The biggest growth of any business is going to come from Dollar General who is adding 700 stores. By the way, it recently failed in an attempt to acquire Family Dollar who is absorbing Dollar Tree who is expanding.


As noted earlier, these are the eight industries that will soon disappear in the U.S.:

  DVD, game & video rental services: Look for a 15.1% drop.

  Solar panel manufacturing: Closures will be 8.9% by 2020.

  Apparel knitting mills: By 2020 an estimated 7.1% of the nations mills will be gone.

  Recordable media manufacturing: The industry will see a 6.2% drop in stores.

  Photofinishing services: Youll see a drop of 5.5% by 2020. 

  Mail order: Closures will be 5.3% by 2020.

  Computer peripheral manufacturing: Look for 4.5% of stores closing.

  Database and directory publishing: Youll see a drop of 4.1%.


Source: MSN Money

Tags:  business  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Small Business  The Business of Business in a Rapidly Changing Eco  The Workforce & the EconomyInsurance Content  Weekly Industry News 

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