TRIO Blog

Tualatin High School Student Spotlight – Feb 2014

Written: February 20, 2014

Stephanie Hughes is a junior at Tualatin High School, where she is an excellent student, and a robotics team leader.  The National Center for Women & Information Technology recently selected Stephanie as an Affiliate Award Winner of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing.  She was selected by a panel of 2,000 judges from colleges and tech industry to receive this year’s award.

Stephanie is one of the top 25 technically oriented high school aged women in our region selected from over 350 high schools throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Last year, Stephanie was an active member of the Tualatin Robotics First Tech Challenge team that was undefeated and ranked #1 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Regional Competition and her team advanced to the State Championship.

This year, Stephanie served as team leader for Tualatin Robotics team #6733, who won the Finalist Alliance & Rockwell Collins Innovate Awards.

Stephanie participates in the Summer Experience in Science and Engineering for Youth (SESEY) program at Oregon State University where high school girls with an aptitude for math and science learn about careers in engineering fields as they prepare for college.  Stephanie plans to attend the OSU College of Engineering.

Her other interests include music, dance, art, Young Life and family activities.

Are you ready for Split Rating as an Oregon Employer?

Written: April 10, 2013

CalculatorBy: Ryan T. Miller, CIC

Oregon has been a role model for well managed workers compensation. Oregon employers enjoy some of the most stable work comp costs in the country and that gives Oregon a unique advantage. However, there is a national change coming that will affect every employer. To what degree depends on how well you manage your employee injuries.

Most employers have seen their Experience Modification Factor, at one time or another and understand that it can positively or negatively impact the cost of your workers compensation insurance. Companies that have more than a 1.0 Experience Mod pay more than average, while those who have less than 1.0 pay less than the average. If your company pays $100,000 per year for workers compensation, the experience mod can impact your costs plus or minus $25,000 to $50,000 each year.  Over a three year average this becomes big money.

As of January 1, 2013 Oregon, and several other States, are updating the formulas which create your Experience Modification Factor. If you are above 1.0 your overall cost will be rising, if it is under 1.0 you will most likely see a decrease.

Are you prepared for this change and ready to capitalize on it?

Do you know what your lowest possible Experience Mod Factor is, and do you have a plan to get there?

If you want to know more about why the Experience Mod is important or how to effectively manage it give us a call.

For a deep look into theses changes Read More .


 

Seven months from the opening day of the Oregon State Exchange: The participating Carriers have been announced:

Written: April 3, 2013

HealthBy Leslie A. Thomas, CBWA

Whether you are an individual, self-employed, or small business owner, healthcare reform has already affected you in some way.    Do you know enough about your opportunities and responsibilities come October 2013?  Are you prepared?  Can you make heads or tails from what is being printed in periodicals or discussed within the media?  Ten months goes by quickly, let’s all make the effort to be as educated as possible.

Cover Oregon has announced today their approved carriers for the January 2014 HealthCare State Exchange.  This list is available for your review: www.coveroregon.com.  As I peruse the list of 22, I imagine many wondering where did these companies come from.  I am taken back by the large number of dental carriers involved, but then realize this is going to be a great growth opportunity for dental insurance.

I am also intrigued by the 2 CO-OP’s that are on the list, as well.  CO-OP’s are a new concept to our industry and Oregon is currently the only State in which 2 Federal startup grants were awarded $57 – $59 million.  Funding for CO-OP’s derived as a backup plan to the Affordable Care Act when the public option of the original bill did not receive the support needed.

“CO-OP”: Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan.  Under the Health Care Reform Act, and the Department of Health and Human Services, they are described as; “Private nonprofit health insurers whose boards of directors are made up of the customers of the CO-OP.”

  • Enrollees elect the board of directors, a majority of whom must be enrollees of the CO-OP health plan.
  • Profits are meant to benefit enrollees through lowering premiums, improve health benefits, improve the quality of health care, expand enrollment or otherwise contribute to the stability of coverage for members.
  • Educates enrollees about the plan.  Because a CO-OP relies on its enrollees to help decide the direction of the plan, communication about key features of the plan will be a high priority. Through expectations of engagement and communication with enrollees.

My optimistic side says; “Yea, Health Insurance utopia!”  It all sounds so warm and fuzzy.

My skeptical side says;

  • “Will having an enrollee elected board make that much of a difference?”
  • “This industry balances its profits and losses on high number of enrollees (ages 0 – 64), monthly premiums (income stream), enrollees lifestyle choices (claims risk), negotiated costs paid to healthcare providers (physician’s & hospitals).  Will not having stock holders, be the answer?”
  • “Plan design choices come through a carrier’s necessity to offset their current and expected risk.  Government mandates also dictate plan designs.  If you were to ask enrollees of any insurance plan today what they would change?  It would range from “nothing to everything”, all dependent on the individuals historical needs.”

I will meet in the middle and finish by saying; I welcome the addition of 2 health insurance resources for Oregonians.  I am hopeful they will accomplish profitability, repay the Federal Loan with interest as stated in the agreement, and provide desperately needed jobs to our local economy.


 

Should I Buy Earthquake Insurance?

Written: February 6, 2013

When assisting clients with property Mt. Hood
insurance, this is one of the most common questions we receive. In our professionally biased opinion; our answer would be, “You should buy all the insurance you can.” However, the real answer is slightly more complex. We know that even the best insurance policy out there cannot “fully” protect you from an event. For example, the deductible for your earthquake insurance may be 10%. That’s $30,000 on a home that is insured for $300,000. The truth is that before a decision can be made of whether to buy insurance or not, we must take time to review and analyze the risk at hand.

A recent article in The Oregonian provides a substantial amount of information and a sobering dose of reality. There are a number of things that we simply will not have control of (i.e. how long power will be down, will I be able to buy food, when will a claim adjuster be available to me). These are risks that can be identified and provide us with a great opportunity to better prepare. This is what we at Miller Insurance call “TRIO” – Turning Risk Into Opportunity.

As the article states, “When, not if, the magnitude-9.0 quake strikes — let alone an accompanying tsunami — Oregon will face the greatest challenge in its history.” The report continues by saying, “Buildings will be so severely damaged that restoring full utility service will take three months to a year in western valleys and far longer on the coast.”  This statement dwarfs the standard emergency preparedness doctrine of preparing to be self sufficient for 72 hours during a disaster.

“We cannot avoid the future earthquake,” the report said, “but we can choose either a future in which the earthquake results in grim damage and losses and a society diminished for a generation, or a future in which the earthquake is a manageable disaster without lasting impact.”

So with this we encourage you to take time to truly analyze your potential risk, and how you will protect yourself, your family, and your business. Be prepared! If you need help on how to get started, useful links can be accessed on our website at http://millersince1886.com/be-prepared or call us and we’ll be happy to share with you what we have been sharing with others.

Click here to read The Oregonian’s article in its entirety: Cascadia earthquake, tsunami could cost Oregon economy $32 billion


 

Property Insurance – Should I file an insurance claim?

Written: January 26, 2013

InsuranceIt’s no surprise that many consumers are afraid to submit a claim as most insurance carriers will either increase their premiums or simply decide to stop offering coverage.

The reason a claim may affect your future premiums and/or coverage is that every claim you have increases the probability of another claim and therefore, another loss to the insurance company.

Most consumers may feel that a claim should be filed for any loss that occurs however, here is a list of items you may want to consider before submitting a claim:

1. Cost of Repairs
Knowing your deductible and having an idea of how much the damage will cost to repair will help you determine if a claim is worth filing?  If the cost of repairs is comparable to your deductible, it may be best to simply pay out-of-pocket and avoid the insurance company.

Although a high deductible will obviously mean greater out-of-pocket expenses in the event of a loss, the lower policy premiums may mean long-term savings.

2. Impact to Future Premiums and/or Coverage
Even if the repair cost is higher than your deductible, you should weigh the benefits and risks before filing a claim. For example, many experts recommend that filing a claim should be avoided unless the damage is triple the deductible. The reason? Multiple claims could result in higher rates or even dropped coverage at renewal time. So in the event of a loss, it’s important to compare the short-term expense of fixing the damage yourself to the long-term cost of potentially higher rates or no coverage at all.

Should you lose your existing coverage or decide to switch companies, you won’t start with a clean slate. Every time you file a claim, it goes into an industry database called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or CLUE. Insurers use it a lot like potential lenders use your credit score – to evaluate how much risk you represent.

As with your credit file, CLUE tracks your history for seven years, and you can pull it free once per year. You can visit LexisNexis for a free annual CLUE report. (You can get a similar report for auto claims too.)

The Insurance Consumer Advocate Network (ICAN) recommends filing no more than two claims in three years, but your agent should be able to provide advice regarding the risk of a rising premium or being dropped in the event of a claim.

3. Read Your Policy
Before filing a claim, always read your policy – declarations, endorsement, coverage limits, exclusions, etc. If you don’t understand the details of your policy, call your insurance agent or company and ask for an explanation. Then make some notes for future reference.

Your state’s insurance department may also be able to help, especially when it comes to the law and your rights. Some states maintain consumer hotlines or even publish insurance guides to help.

4. Documentation
When you call your insurance company’s claims department to file your claim, you will be given a claim number and a claims adjuster will be assigned to your claim. Make sure to keep track of names, telephone numbers, email addresses, and make notes, including dates and times of every contact you have with all involved parties.

Hopefully you also have a home inventory. If not, now’s the time to get started. We recommend taking a video of the interior of your home, including all closets, cupboards and drawers.

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If you have any additional questions or would like to know how we can help with your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to contact us.


 

WHAT OBAMACARE MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS IN 2013 AND BEYOND

Written: January 2, 2013

The Worklaw® Network firm of Pilchak Cohen has put together this quick reminder about upcoming changes.

WHAT OBAMACARE MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS IN 2013 AND BEYOND
By: Daniel G. Cohen

Obamacare - 2013 and beyondWith over 1,000 pages of text, 10,000 pages of regulations and thousands more on the way, I can’t help but think that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is going to be significantly more costly for employers than we already thought it would be. Whether you are a small business, a large business or something in between, Obama Care will have a financial impact on your business and your bottom line. The biggest changes will take hold in 2014, but some will occur this year. During a recent webinar conducted by the NFIB, 2013 was identified as the year of planning. I could not agree more.

There are several changes that kick in during 2013:

  • Starting January 1, 2013, employers must withhold an additional .9 percent of the wages of individuals who earn more than $200,000 per year ($250,000 if filing jointly);
  • Starting January 1, 2013, these same high earners will have an increase in their taxes of 3.8% on unearned or passive income;
  • Starting January 1, 2013, employees will only be able to contribute a maximum of $2500 to a health care Flexible Savings Account.
  • Employers will have to provide Notice of Exchange Availability to employees (the form has not yet been published by the federal government);
  • Employers will have to provide employees with a “Summary of Benefits coverage” form during open enrollment on and after October, 2013
  • Health Insurance costs will have to be disclosed on the W-2s of employees working for employers with 250 or more employees.
  • There will be increased thresholds for medical expense deductibility and taxes on medical devices.

 

2014 will bring the most significant and costly changes:

  • Employers with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents (FTEs) will be required to offer minimal and affordable health care to all employees and their families or pay a $2000 fine per employee after the first 30. The way this works is that an employer with 50 FTEs, which does not offer affordable insurance and where at least one employee receives federal insurance subsidies in an exchange, would pay $40,000 (50-30 x $2000). If that same employer offered affordable health care insurance, and at least one employee receives federal insurance subsidies, the employer would pay $3000 per subsidized employee or $2000 per employee (minus the first 30) whichever is less. So, a providing employer with two subsidized employees would be fined $6000. With 14 or more subsidized employees (above the tipping point for the formula), the penalty would be $40,000. To qualify for the subsidy, an employee’s household income must be 400% of the federal poverty level and the employee’s portion of the health care premium must exceed 9.5% of household income;
  • Employers will be required to report/verify employee healthcare coverage;
  • Employer health plans will be subject to non-discrimination rules which will prohibit employers from offering different health insurance plans, premium subsidies, or benefits to high earners. Non-compliance will result in significant financial penalties;
  • Small employers will incur increased premium costs when the health insurance tax (“HIT”) kicks in. This tax exempts self-insured plans and applies to fully insured plans, which will admittedly be passed on to the consumer (e.g. small employers and their employees);
  • The individual mandate will also take effect, resulting in individual taxes for remaining uninsured absent an exemption; and
  • State health care exchanges will be available to individuals without employer coverage.

 

As you can imagine there will be a lot of sorting out to do. We will keep you informed as we learn even more.

 


About the Blog

TRIO - "Turning Risk Into Opportunity" We are all surrounded by risk. It's no wonder we can easily find ourselves consumed by our efforts to control risk and we can't see how the risks that surround us can be turned into opportunities. Here we will share what we have learned to help your organization look beyond the transaction of insurance and find the hidden costs within organization.

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