Compliance Overview: Wrap Documents For Benefits Plans

 

Wrap Documents for Welfare Benefit Plans

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for employee benefit plans maintained by private-sector employers. Under ERISA, employer-sponsored welfare benefit plans, such as group health plans, must be described in a written plan document. In addition, employers must explain the plans’ terms to participants by providing them with a summary plan description (SPD).

The insurance certificate or benefit booklet provided by an insurance carrier or other third party for a welfare benefit plan typically does not satisfy ERISA’s content requirements for plan documents and SPDs. Continue reading

Navigating The Labor Conundrum

Beyond skilled labor shortages stemming from the layoffs of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, the construction industry faces much deeper systemic issues that pose significant risk to your business. The industry is challenged on both ends of the labor spectrum – both supply of workers, as well as the productivity of those employed. According to a study by the Associated General Contractors of America, 70% of construction firms report they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions, and the majority of builders today rank labor shortages at — or near the top — of their list of concerns. And as older talent retires, younger workers tend to shun careers in construction in favor of higher-prestige work in the tech industry. While increasing productivity can offset labor shortages by boosting the output of each worker employed, the construction industry faces challenges on this front, as well.  In fact, between 2005 and 2015, while other industries saw productivity increases of 2%, construction productivity increased by just 1% over the same period. And to make matters worse, construction companies also point to uncertainty around immigration reform as another, more-recent, contributor to worsening labor shortages. Continue reading

Bridging The Manufacturing Labor Gap

 

Mind the gap!

As technology and fast-evolving supply chain practices take hold, the future of American manufacturing will be increasingly high-value, high-tech and automated. Decades of offshoring, coupled with increased automation, has eliminated most low-skilled jobs leaving behind a set of higher-value jobs that are harder to fill. In fact, manufacturers and labor unions face a growth-constricting gap between the workers they need for this new paradigm and the talent they can actually find.

Current statistics illustrate the conundrum in greater detail — six out of 10 manufacturing positions remain unfilled, and it takes an average of 74 days to fill a skilled production position. Over the next decade, 3.5 million domestic manufacturing jobs will open — with 2 million of those jobs going unfilled due to the skills gap. And when you consider that for every 100 new jobs in manufacturing, 190 are created in ancillary fields, the domino effect of these unfilled positions on the greater economy is profound. Continue reading

National Life Insurance Day – May 2, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life insurance isn’t a topic that people are clamoring to discuss with their financial adviser. However, many people are unaware of what their policy provides. More importantly, we see quite a few cases where the premiums that are being paid to an insurance carrier will be insufficient to provide coverage beyond age 80.

When was the last time you reviewed your life insurance policy? 

Alper’s Financial Services Team is available, at no charge, to review your current life insurance policy. Our policy review form is only one page and will allow us to:
– Assess if your policy is performing “as planned”
– Advise you of the creditworthiness of the insurance carrier
– Advise if the policy is about to expire

To review your current policy, please contact Mark Jacobson at MJacobson@AlperServices.com.

Five Things To Know Before Renting A Car

 

As you plan for summer vacation, keep these five tips in mind when booking a car for your next trip.

1. Prepaying For Gasoline
Prepaid gasoline charges appeal to our desire for ease while traveling, and fear of missing a flight while stuck at the gas pump. As airport security lines have increased, rental companies have come up with new options for quick car refueling, and are giving them the hard sell at the rental desk.
Unless you are completely sure you will return the tank empty, or you have a pre-dawn flight that would make it worth the money not to have to refuel yourself, don’t fall for this. Even the option of being charged only for the fuel you actually use is tipped aggressively in the rental agency’s favor because of the high fee for having them refuel.

2. Don’t Buy Extra Insurance
For business purposes, your business auto insurance policy covers your business rental under your “full coverage” policy. In general, the coverage you have for your main vehicle extends to your rental vehicle, because the rental is considered a replacement vehicle under the policy.

3. Your Credit Card Provides Some Coverage
Anything your own car insurance does not cover, it is likely that your credit card will. In some cases the credit card  coverage is as good as or better than your auto insurance. In others, it is intended to be secondary insurance to help cover anything your auto insurance does not. Of course, you will need to pay for your car rental using that card! Consult with your credit card company before your trip.

4. Check Your Vehicle Before Departure
When you pick up your car, check it inside and out for anything that could potentially be considered damage before you drive away. Look for scratches, scuffs, loose parts, working power windows and mirrors, etc. Don’t assume that the car rental company has noticed any damage, big or small.
Your best protection: Take photos or a video of a slow walk around the car, and “kick the tires,” so to speak.

5. Don’t Leave The Final Inspection To Chance
The vehicle return process has been sped up to allow travelers to make their flight. Park, take your belongings, leave the key on the dashboard and walk away without speaking to anyone directly.
If it feels unsettling just to leave the car without an agent checking it over, it should; the most serious complaints about car rental companies in recent months have been disputes over damage claims. If no attendant is present at drop-off, the dispute later becomes your word against theirs.
Your best protection: Again, take photos or a video of a slow walk around the car.

Don’t Forget!
As a renter of the vehicle, report claim damages to Alper Services. Things to submit:
 Rental Agreement
Photos/Video
Rental Accident Report

*Note: Personal Rentals are for “personal use” and are subject to an individual’s personal auto policy for coverage. Many auto policies are different. Please contact your agent to review your personal coverage before you to on your next trip!
Source: Smarter Travel

 

Client Spotlight: 33 Realty

Insurance providers do a lot of things for their clients. Risk management. Employee benefits. Liability coverage. If you’re in the real estate, property management and construction business such as the team at 33 Realty, you have a host of other needs. For example, each property needs its own protection, and within its general contractor division, it has a host of other protection and liability needs to address.

But how many times has an insurance broker brought a trend to a Client to think about—even if it had nothing to do with its policies?

Stacy Karamanos, CFO of 33 Realty, qualifies Alper Services’ Micah Kafitz as a trend watcher as much as an Insurance Architect, and his knowledge and insight has made him a part of the 33 Realty team.

“Alper Services is always on top of its game, both for insurance issues and other related activities that affect our business,” Karamanos said. “In the past couple of years our industry has seen an increase in electronic bank fraud attempts, and Micah was one of the first people to discuss the best ways to protect our Company in light of the alarming trend. In fact, Alper was so early in identifying the trend that Micah’s team equipped us with a thoughtful e-commerce fraud mitigation strategy—even before some of our banks presented their fraud prevention product offerings to us, which is truly impressive.”

33 Realty was recently named one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the country and as 33 continues to expand its business offerings, the insurance portfolio has kept up with that growth. Karamanos was quick to point out what makes Alper Services such an invaluable part of the organization.

“We have been working with Alper Services since 2013, when we only had a few employees and a mess of an insurance package,” Karamanos explained. “We were unsure of the adequacy of our coverage levels, as we were not relying on any one agent as our ‘go to’ resource. As a result, there was no cohesive strategy for insurance across the various business lines. Once we met Micah, he showed us how insurance could be a cohesive resource to help us mitigate risk as we grow our business, and Alper was well poised to grow with us.” She noted that with Micah and Alper Services being on top of the trends and issues that face 33 Realty’s business, it adds a layer of knowledge that other insurance organizations don’t bring to the table.

“Micah and the Alper team spent the time to review insurance coverage downstream—ensuring we were requiring the right amount of coverage from our vendors. They regularly review all policies and vendor contracts to ensure they have the right protection which ultimately mitigates our risk and eliminates any audit penalties to which we would otherwise be subjected. It’s an above-and-beyond service that we don’t ask for but know that Micah and Alper will bring to us.”

Looking Back At Moving Forward

 

Regardless of the industry, the past year was marked with “we never thought we’d see that happen” moments. This held true in our own business, as well. Yet in the midst of this constant swirl of change, one thing remained consistent — Alper Services’ commitment to putting your business at the center of ours.

Here are few snapshots of how we improved and evolved last year: Continue reading

#MeToo Is An Opportunity For Introspection

Market Blueprint

As the #MeToo movement has so poignantly illustrated, nobody should ever be harassed or abused by those in power. What started as an entertainment industry issue has now shed light on the prevalence of workplace sexual abuse — and the institutional suppression of victims— in athletics, religious institutions, hospitality, gaming, finance, government and certainly commercial real estate.

High-profile allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in commercial real estate predate the #MeToo movement. Some more notable cases include an April, 2017 sexual harassment, gender discrimination and wrongful termination claim filed by a former female salesperson against the prominent Los Angeles brokerage NGKF, the firm’s former managing director Michael Arnold, and two other executives at the firm. One of the executives named in the suit is the firm’s director of operations to whom the plaintiff reported the issues and who responded “there was nothing he could do.” And in January, 2018, the Financial Times uncovered numerous counts of sexual harassment and exploitation at a London charity event, The President’s Club, heavily attended by executives in the UK commercial real estate business. Allegations of abuse and exploitation of women are also surfacing at top industry conventions including the International Council of Shopping Centers (“ICSC”) RECon Convention and the Le Marché International des Professionnels de l’Immobilier (“MIPIM”) conference.

In the decade from 2005-2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received about 85,000 sexual harassment complaints, 1,700 of which were from the real estate profession.

  • That’s 1,700 real estate professionals who felt their workplaces were hostile
  • That’s 1,700 companies and executive teams who had to hire attorneys, insurance professionals and public relations experts to investigate and address these claims
  • According to EEOC statistics, 80% of these claims were filed by women
  • Worse yet, 75% of claims were accompanied by some form of alleged retaliation by the employer/accused

Since the #MeToo movement took hold, Alper Services has received a large number of inquiries from Clients wanting to ensure their workplaces, leadership, and employees are not part of the next case. Drawing upon decades of experience, our answer is simple— use the movement to take an inward look at your company from top to bottom. Ask yourself if everyone is working to create a culture of openness, fairness and zero tolerance. Top leadership must also lead by example and all levels of management must identify and remedy issues before they arise while at the same time creating open communication channels and taking quick and fair disciplinary action whenever required.

Your Alper Services “Team of Experts” is here to ensure you have the right mix of legal, cultural, human resources and insurance protections to combat harassment and to ensure nobody in your organization will ever have to use the phrase #MeToo.

Think Manufacturers Aren’t Affected By The #MeToo Movement? Think Again…

As the #MeToo movement has so poignantly illustrated, nobody should ever be harassed or abused by those in power. What started as an entertainment industry issue has now shed light on the prevalence of workplace sexual abuse— and the institutional suppression of victims— in athletics, religious institutions, retail, restaurants, hospitality and gaming, finance, government and commercial real estate.

While the manufacturing industry has yet to have any high-profile #MeToo cases, this speaks more to the industry’s separation from the limelight, and is not an indicator of a lack of harassment cases. In fact, based on 8  years’ worth of sexual harassment claims (2010-2017) filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity commission (EEOC), the manufacturing industry has the third-highest number of cases—third only to the hospitality and retail industries. Out of 57,718 total claims made in that 8-year period , 6,764 (or 11.7%) were from those employed in manufacturing; and 83% (5,614) of those claims were filed by women. Continue reading