Plan Ahead With ACA Reporting

 

 

 

Under the ACA, every applicable large employer (ALE) and every entity that provides minimum essential coverage, such as a health insurance issuer or sponsor of a self-funded plan, must comply with certain reporting requirements.

The ACA reporting rules require filing of an annual return with the IRS and furnishing of individual statements to certain employees. Take note:
•  Returns are due in early 2018 for health plan coverage offered or provided in 2017.
•  Returns for 2017 must be filed with the IRS by February 28 (or April 2 if filed electronically, since March 31 is a Saturday).
•  For the 2017 calendar year, written statements must be provided to employees no later than January 31.

Speak with the Alper Employee Benefits Team if you need any guidance on your 2017 filing requirements, EBTeam@AlperServices.com.

Michael Jones Awarded CAPI Designation By Wharton And Chubb

Left to Right: Fran O’Brien, SVP, Chubb Group Division President, North America Personal Risk Services; Michael Jones, Director of Alper’s Personal Lines Division; Chris Geczy, Academic Director of the Wharton Wealth Management Initiative

We’re proud to announce that Michael Jones, Director of Alper’s Personal Lines Division, has been awarded a Certified Advisor of Personal Insurance (CAPI) designation from the Aresty Institute of Executive Education at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Chubb.

Michael is among a group of only 38 agents this year to receive the certification after completing a one-year intensive educational program on understanding the lifestyle and risk management and insurance needs of successful individuals and families. Created by Wharton and Chubb in 2014, the CAPI program is the first of its kind to focus on a specific client segment in the personal insurance marketplace.

“The agents who have completed the CAPI program have proven that they have the highest level of skill and expertise required to understand the total family balance sheet and advise successful clients on their complex risk management and insurance needs,” said Annmarie Camp, Executive Vice President, Sales and Distribution Leader, Chubb Personal Risk Services.

“We are extremely proud that Michael has received the prestigious CAPI designation,” said David Macknin, President & CEO. “This shows his incredible dedication to the insurance industry as well as his ongoing commitment to serving successful individual and families, who have a unique set of property and liability exposures created by their assets and lifestyle.”

Courses are taught by Wharton faculty, Chubb subject matter experts and other professionals. Agents received instruction on the Wharton campus at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and through virtual classes, webcasts, reading assignments and other online activities throughout 2017.

Illinois Drivers Can Avoid A Ticket With The Click Of The Mouse

 

As many Illinois residents are aware, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has stopped sending out renewal notices for car license plates. However, the office will send renewal notices if you schedule an email reminder by registering at: CyberDriveIllinois.com.

Follow the link above, and you will see a license plate button reading EMAIL ME on the Cyber Drive Illinois homepage. By clicking it, you can register to receive the reminder email.

Owners need to have their registration ID and PIN number available. This information can be found on your current registration card (see image). If you don’t have a current registration card, contact the Public Inquiry Division at 1-800-252-8980 for assistance.

If you have any further questions regarding your automobile insurance coverage, please contact Alper Services Dir. of Personal Insurance, Michael Jones, at MJones@AlperServices.com.

A New Point Of View

We’ve moved to our new 19,800 square-foot office at 410 N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s historic Wrigley Building!

“When Howard Alper started this company back in 1966, he would have never envisioned the transformative changes the insurance industry has gone through today. Technology has changed the way we all do business. But with that change comes new opportunity, and with that opportunity comes growth,” said President and CEO David Macknin. “We have become more than just an insurance agent; we pride ourselves on being Insurance Architects because we provide each Client with the right foundations, support and personalization that should be expected. We are not a commodity, and neither are our Clients. We respect that every business is unique and approach solutions as such.”

The new space, orchestrated by OKW Architects, emphasizes dramatic Michigan Avenue views and ample natural light, with linear lighting and differential soffit heights throughout the space to create a sense of movement and energy.  More importantly, the new floor plan encourages teamwork and fosters collaboration.

A Brand New Alper Services

“Our new home and neighbors sit in the epicenter of everything that is great about Chicago,” Macknin said.  “Just look at the roster of companies who we now share an address with—it is a who’s who of technology companies, professional services organizations and financial institutions that will create Chicago’s future.”

Our new office coincides with our refreshed brand. The new standards, created by Chicago-based Swerve, are designed to reflect the differentiation we bring not only to our Clients, but the overall industry. “The landscape is changing, and the refreshed Alper Services brand is aligned with our core strengths of strategic thinking, customized planning and flexible support,“ said COO Leslie Morse.

The new space can accommodate over 75 people.  Macknin expects to continue our steady growth and expansion of our Team in 2018.

Our mailing address is:
410 N. Michigan Avenue, 12th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611

All email addresses and phone numbers remain the same.

Tips To Winterize Your Home

 

Is your home ready for winter? Freezing temperatures, ice, snow and wind can cause severe damage to your home and property. Water is the top preventable cause of damage to American homes- more than fire and theft. Approximately one in every 55 insured homes has a water/freezing claim each year. With proactive maintenance, you can reduce your risk of experiencing weather related damages to your home.

We recommend the following tips to assist you in preparing your property for unpredictable winter weather:

Build-Up of Ice and Snow on Your Roof
Ice and snow build-up can cause seepage, wall and ceiling cracking and even roof collapses. Safeguard your roof by:
• Clean your gutters before winter begins. This reduces potential snow and ice buildup.

• Keep the attic space cold. Properly seal exhaust ducts from bathrooms/kitchens/dryers to prevent hot air from leaking into the attic. Professionally insulate and vent attics to allow cold air to circulate under the roof. This decreases the likelihood of shingles getting warm.

• Keep your roof dry. Install a snow shield or ice melting system on the roof. The system should be installed at least two feet up from the exterior wall. This will help prevent moisture back up from ice dams and help snow flow off the roof. Continue reading

Client Spotlight: Erie-LaSalle Body Shop

Bob Gottfred knows all about iconic locations. Erie-LaSalle Body Shop was, for years, located (appropriately enough) at the corner of Erie and LaSalle Streets in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, until the shop moved in November 2016 to the corner of Milwaukee and Huron in Chicago’s River West neighborhood. But you won’t see Gottfred or his sons, Jim and Jay (who are General Managers and Principals in the business) changing the name because there is too much equity in the brand. Coming up with another name just won’t do the business justice. No matter where the company expands, it will always be known as Erie-LaSalle Body Shop—and that suits the Gottfreds just fine.

Since 1934, the family’s body shop has been a Chicago institution. Gottfred’s company is the longest continuously-owned auto body repair shop in Illinois—where we have seen our share of dents, dings, scratches and wrecks. The Company has expanded its service area by moving into Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, and it continues to have one of the strongest reputations in the auto repair business.

Perhaps that is why Gottfred utilizes Alper Services for the Company’s health insurance. “We have been working with Alper Services for more than three years now,” Gottfred explained. “Gregg Elstien came highly recommended to us, and we needed to see what he was all about. He is a very hands-on professional—sort of like we are.”

“We have a lot of different health insurance needs, and we were looking to work with a smaller agency as opposed to one of the larger shops. We ask our Alper representatives about the ever-changing healthcare laws and how they will affect our coverage. While nothing is certain yet, it’s nice to know I can ask them without getting rerouted to another department or team of professionals. There is something about personalized service and really knowing your clients that makes a difference to your customer base.”

Elstien makes sure that Gottfred and his two sons know that Alper has his company’s back. Gottfred mentioned that he showed interest in Alper’s Cybersecurity seminars because of the customer information and data it has on-site.

“You don’t think a body shop has data concerns, but we know more about our clients than people give us credit for,” he said.

Alper Services proves it has its Clients’ best interest at heart, no matter what policies they service—or what name is hanging on the shingle outside.

Back-To-Back—Alper Named As A “Best Practices” Agency In 2017

When you do something good, people take notice. When you do it REALLY well, people recognize you again and again.

Such is the case with Alper Services being named to an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America “Best Practices” Study Group.

For the second consecutive year, Alper Services was recognized for this designation. There are some 30,000 independent agencies throughout the U.S., more than 1,500 were nominated by a state association and/or an insurer and only 242 were awarded the Best Practices recognition. Nominations and evaluations were based upon outstanding customer retention, growth, stability and financial management.

The Best Practices Study was initiated in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual study of leading independent insurance agencies, which is conducted by Reagan Consulting of Atlanta, Ga., documents the business practices of these high performance agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.

“Being named by one of the top insurance industry organizations for the second year in a row shows that we have been doing more than a few things right since Howie Alper started things here,” noted David Macknin, President & CEO of Alper Services. “Certainly, we thank our entire Team for helping us get to this point, but the reality of the situation is that we cannot do what we do without Clients.”

So on behalf of everyone at Alper Services, THANK YOU!

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Rates Increase

 

Excerpt from the Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, LLC’s blog:

Illinois Workers’ Compensation (WC) rates jump again. Hopefully it’s a sign of a growing economy— even though rates continued to increase almost every cycle.  Since the 1980’s, the Illinois WC Act provides a formula which effectively insures no matter how poor the Illinois economy is doing WC rates continue to climb.

Pay attention to the fact that the Illinois WC statutory maximum Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) rate is $775.18. However, this rate is only through June 30, 2017 and the new max PPD will be published in January 2018. When it will be published in January 2018, this rate will change retroactively from July 1, 2017 forward. If you don’t make the change, your reserves will be incorrect.

Click here for a link to the Illinois WC rate chart. If you have questions regarding this, please contact Alper’s WC Claims Specialist, Cathy Higuera, at CHiguera@AlperServices.com or 312-654-4252. To read the full article by Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, click here.

 

Wellness Is Dead, Part II

Brian Donnelly, VP, Health & Benefits Practice Leader and Ian Shea, CEO, I M Human. 

Supporting mental and emotional well-being is one of the largest growing trends of our time. The market for mental and emotional well-being support, referred to as “Transformational Technology,” has estimates for consumer demand in the hundreds of billions.1

Google’s Head of Personal Growth and Founder of the “Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute” Chade-Meng Tang recently stated, “Within companies there is a growing awareness of the importance of employees “emotional itness”, mirroring the same journey of acceptance that physical fitness exercise took in the last century.”2

Yet mass adoption and understanding are not at the levels that reflect these trends. This is understandable when looking at the adoption curve of physical fitness after WWII and the adoption curve of nutritional fitness throughout the 80s and 90s. Personal growth and self-care practices take time to grab hold as initially people are fearful and skeptical of the benefits.

While employers recognize that well-being in the workplace is now more important than ever, considering well-being initiatives for your company can be overwhelming. There is ample research highlighting that while developing talent skills is important, developing well-being is increasingly being intertwined into the employee development offering. Research exists highlighting the growing recognition of the interrelationships between talent development and individual well-being in both the employer experience and overall workplace planning.3

The following framework around initiatives and engagement can be useful to small or large organizations interested in pursuing a well-being strategy.

  1. Guidance, Framing & Education. Consider working with an expert who has the ability to communicate a deep understanding of well-being: customizing it for your company; explaining why it is important and how best to deliver the message with relevant supporting content, research, expert input and societal trends in a manner that is real and relatable.
  2. Pacing. Adoption will take time. Initial focus should be on listening, educating and building awareness. Take time to understand what is right for your company’s culture; understand the needs and obstacles that exist and set a roll-out plan best suited for your environment.
  3. Creativity, Curation & Excitement. Bring in experts and thought leaders to help ground topics, curate group events, exercises and lectures based on specific needs and interest, package resources and information in a relevant way; and understand what stimulates excitement and triggers boredom.
  4. Needs Assessment, Data & Success Metrics. Perform needs assessment through surveys, one-on-one and group discussions highlighting where, how and in what ways mental and emotional well-being support is most useful. Set your goals and objectives and gather data (no matter how basic) as it will help build confidence and trust in the process.
  5. Champions & Early Adopters. Leadership and stakeholder buy-in will play a crucial role in de-stigmatizing initiatives and spur adoption. Who within your company has an established practice, a voice that people gravitate towards or a leadership position of influence? Empower them to lead, share their stories and be a part of the creative process.
  6. Keep Employees Engaged and Informed. Summarize data and findings and share them often. Continue to find creative ways to keep employees educated and informed and focus on creating a culture that values personal growth as more and more employees require that of their employers.

Building awareness and implementing well-being initiatives in your company is a process that takes time, but you’re not alone. Major sports teams, Fortune 500 companies, leading institutions and non-profits are all dedicating significant resources in the form of time and capital towards understanding and implementing these initiatives as the returns are significant. Price Waterhouse Coopers estimates that for every $1.00 spent on creating a mentally and emotionally healthy workplace, companies can recoup $2.30 in productivity.4

When you make well-being a priority, you can achieve a benefit and change in company culture that is readily available, improving the bottom line and more importantly the lives of your employees and their families throughout your organization. ●

This is the second article in a two part series on WellBeing in the workplace. Part one can be seen here.

I M Human works with organizations thinking through how to support the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being needs of their employees and gain a deeper understanding of this space and why it is important. Please contact Ian@i-m-human.com for more information.

1 Techcrunch – Science and technology will make mental and emotional wellbeing scalable, accessible, and cheap – Nichol Bradford – October 17, 2016
2The Guardian – Google’s head of mindfulness: ‘goodness is good for business’ – Jo Confino – May 14, 2014
3Deloitte University Press – Unlocking human potential – February 2017
4 Price Waterhouse Cooper – Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace – May 2014