Clearing The Air On The New Illinois Cannabis Act

To download a copy of the latest Market Blueprint, click here.

On January 1, 2020, Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize the recreational sale and use of marijuana. As a result, any Illinois resident 21 years of age or older will be able to legally purchase and possess up to 30 grams of marijuana or the equivalent amount in edibles with up to 500 mg of THC (the intoxicating agent in marijuana).

While the new law poses challenges to Illinois employers, the good news is it does provide leeway to ensure your employees’ recreational usage in no way effects workplace productivity and safety. In fact, the legislation, billed The Illinois Cannabis Act, provides some of the most extensive employer protections compared with the legislation in the other 10 states* that have legalized marijuana.

Here are the top five most common myths and misconceptions tied to the legalization along with the realities of your legal rights in the context of each, and some tips for how to best prepare your business for the impending changes.  Continue reading

Alper Voted A Top Insurance Workplace By Team Members For The Second Year In A Row

With the most recent issue of Insurance Business America, we are excited to announce that Alper Services has been the only Chicago-based firm selected a Top Insurance Workplace for the second year in a row! As the second annual Top Insurance Workplace list, 125 companies were nominated and 53 achieved the top designation based upon confidential results from each firm’s employees who were asked to evaluate workplace on several metrics including benefits, compensation, culture, employee development and diversity.

“We are proud to have been the selected a Top Insurance Workplace once again, particularly because it’s a recognition driven in large part by our own employees,” said Leslie Morse, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. “At Alper, we believe in the personal and professional success of each member of our Team of Experts.  In 2019, we kicked off the Alper Leadership Institute with a cohort of seven Team Members ranging from entry-level employees to established departmental managers. Aside from giving these high-potential Team Members tangible professional skills that will enhance their careers, ALI’s main objective is to groom leaders who will manage the implementation of the Alper Trust and ensure the firm continues to deliver boutique-level service to mid-market Clients. This summer also launched the very first Alper Producer Academy which provides a fun and exciting entry into the insurance industry for young Producers.”

For the full list of Top Insurance Workplaces, click here.

 

OSHA Issues Final Update To Standards Improvements Rule

A rule making changes in several regulations was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as part of its ongoing Standards Improvement Project (SIP). The purpose of the update, which took effect on July 15, 2019, is to simplify employer efforts to comply with OSHA regulations and make it easier for employers to determine just how they should achieve compliance. Several updates to key compliance regulations stand out as notable:

HEARING LOSS REPORTING

This final rule mandates that, moving forward, physicians must now use OSHA’s general standards rules for determining the work-relatedness of a hearing loss injury. Previously, medical professionals were allowed to follow their own protocol determining whether hearing loss is work-related.

911 EMERGENCY SERVICES

With advances in communication technology, OSHA has identified a necessary SIP update to 911 posting requirements. Previously, a call to a 911 dispatcher from a landline would provide them with a caller’s location to then relate to emergency services. Such technology is not always available from a mobile phone, which proves problematic when the caller is in a remote location and neither they nor their wireless device can be located by a dispatcher.

OSHA’s update requires that employers located where landlines are not available must post in a conspicuous location either the worksite’s latitude and longitude, or alternatively, other location-identification information that communicates to employees the worksite’s location.

PROTECTING YOUR IDENTITY

Finally, as part of the federal government’s ongoing effort to reduce unnecessary use of Social Security numbers in agency systems and programs, OSHA also has chosen to delete SSN-inclusion requirements from 19 different standards.

The full publication containing the SIP final rule can be found here

Is your company OSHA compliant? Contact Alper’s Director of Claims Management Services to set up a consultation: Regina Ruffin, RRuffin@AlperServices.com.

Client Spotlight: Windy City Wire

Chances are the wires connecting your security system, fire alarm and building automation were manufactured by Windy City Wire (“WCW”), an Alper Services Client since 2010. Based in Bolingbrook, and with distribution centers in 19 locations nationwide, WCW manufacturers and markets low-voltage wire and a series of patented packaging and storage systems that save integrators time and money. Alper is honored to provide both Property & Casualty and Employee Benefits coverage to enable WCW’s continued innovation and growth.
According to Jamie Specht, director of human resources, WCW made the move to Alper Services from a larger broker since Alper offered all the resources of larger firms, yet with the personalized service of a boutique agency. “As we continued to grow, we wanted to be sure we had not just the best-possible coverage, but also the best-possible team to identify risks we hadn’t yet seen, and help us improve our processes to keep our overall risk profile low.” Continue reading

Meet Our 2019 DSY Intern

Micaela Norals

The 12th floor of The Wrigley Building has seen a surge of activity this summer as we’ve welcomed new Team Members and four interns to our Employee Benefits, Property & Casualty, Accounting and Claims Management divisions. Micaela Norals joined us in June as the seventh intern whom we’ve welcomed from the Development School For Youth’s All-Stars Project. Micaela attends the Alan B. Shepard High School in Palos Heights where she just completed her junior year and excelled in math and her culinary arts classes. Her dream college is Grambling State University in Louisiana where she intends to study nursing so she can help others on a daily basis.

Micaela is working with Alper’s Employee Benefits Division and learning about the unique relationship between Carriers, Alper and our Clients as well as reviewing the renewal process with Employee Benefits Account Managers. She acknowledges that working in Employee Benefits and learning about insurance has been insightful for her nursing career aspirations. Micaela feels she now understands what a major role insurance plays for patients, as she becomes familiar with the different types of carriers and coverage options.

When asked what is surprising about working in her first corporate environment, Micaela notes that she didn’t expect everyone to be so approachable and welcoming to an intern. We’re thrilled to have such a bright individual joining us this summer and wish Micaela the best in her senior year of high school!

Debunking Cybercrime Misconceptions

To download a copy of the latest Market Blueprint on Cybercrime, click here.

With the explosive growth in e-commerce, cloud computing, connected devices, autonomous vehicles, and manufacturing automation, digitized information is quickly becoming the world’s most valuable commodity and a treasure trove for thieves. In many ways, data and automated system controls are the new “private property” and cybercrime is like a warehouse fire. As more business infrastructure connects digitally, it becomes even easier for cyber criminals to intercept and manipulate data and systems for ill intent. In fact, two ransomware cyber attacks have occurred since you began reading this article (at a rate of one every 22 seconds and a total cost to the effected companies of $2 billion so far in 2019 alone).

Ninety-five percent of cyber attacks against companies are initially triggered by simple human error. Unlike machines, people are vulnerable to psychological trickery. Hackers directly target people inside a company, and by tricking them into opening emails or revealing insufficiently secure passwords, they then use tools like spyware and malware to take control of systems from anywhere in the world. As the stakes get higher, cyber criminals continually modify their tactics to thwart capture.

In spite of this growing prevalence, a surprising number of organizations fail to understand the true scope of the threat and are therefore vulnerable to potentially catastrophic losses should they fall victim to a cyber attack themselves. According to a 2019 study by the data-analytics company FICO, 24% of U.S. executives surveyed admitted their firm has no cyber security insurance. The study also revealed that 68% of those surveyed believed their existing cyber insurance was not broad enough to cover the entire scope of their digital risk. Case in point—in a few recent high-profile cybercrime cases, the victimized companies believed they had cyber insurance, but instead had less-robust “cyber as a peril” bolt-ons to traditional property insurance policies, which had very small sublimits of coverage insufficient to cover the scope of their damages.

Here are three main reasons why organizations underestimate—and underinsure—their cyber risk, and why they should reevaluate their position moving forward: Continue reading

Illinois Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

Illinois became the 11th state to legalize the private use of marijuana when Governor JB Pritzker signed the controversial bill into law yesterday, June 25th.  Starting January 1, 2020, any Illinois resident age 21 and older may buy and possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, or the equivalent amounts of edibles with up to 500 mg. of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The impact on Illinois employers is hazy . . .

Illinois’ “Cannabis Act” provides some of the most extensive workplace protections for employers compared with other similar acts in other states.  The law specifically states that “employee workplace safety shall not be diminished and employer workplace policies shall be interpreted broadly to protect employee safety.”

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, Illinois employers may still maintain drug-free workplace policies. Similar to alcohol use, an employer may rely on discipline or terminate an employee who is under the influence or using marijuana in the workplace or while on-duty, depending upon your stated Human Resources policies.

For a detailed analysis of the Cannabis Act, and some thought provoking questions to help your company prepare for next January’s effective date, see “Employer Insights:  Recreational Marijuana in Illinois”

Please contact Leslie Morse with questions about your HR compliance as it relates to this new legislation,
LMorse@AlperServices.com or 312-654-4251.