Recent Posts

September 17, 2017
September 14, 2017
September 12, 2017
September 12, 2017
September 11, 2017
September 11, 2017
September 8, 2017

Insights

Avoid Compliance Issues - Start Using the New Form I-9 Form Today

Posted by Vanessa Lolli on September 17, 2017

Compliance_Corner_1.jpg

As of September 18, 2017, all employers must be using the new Form I-9. If your business has multiple locations in which new hires complete the I-9, ensure that all locations receive and begin using the new form immediately while discarding the outdated form. All collection and retention requirements remain the same for the new Form I-9.

Employment Eligibility Verification Form

Overview of Changes

For more information contact a Cobbs Allen HR Consultant.

 


Cobbs Allen Welcomes HR Assistant Cory French

Posted by Caitlin Miley on September 14, 2017

new_hire-Cory-blog.png

The Cobbs Allen Birmingham Corporate office is pleased to announce the addition of HR Assistant Cory French to our team. Cory comes to Cobbs Allen with more than eight years of experience and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Environmental Sciences from the University of Alabama.

Most recently, she worked at Milo’s Tea Company as the Administrative Coordinator, where she provided support to the VP of Administration and the HR Manager. Prior to that, Cory served as the Patient Services Manager at Brookwood Medical Center.

In her role as HR Assistant at Cobbs Allen, Cory will work with HR Director Ty Reed and focus on associate services including benefits and onboarding of new associates. Cory plans to take her PHR Certification in 2018. 


After the Storm: Disaster Cleanup and Recovery

Posted by Matthew Graham on September 12, 2017

 

wind_damge_to_electrical_hero.jpg

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and their subsequent flooding, those involved in cleanup activities will face many hazards left behind that could pose serious injury or even death without proper planning and care. Below is a list of hazards and protective measures to help during the cleanup process.

Contaminated Floodwaters

  • Assume all floodwater is contaminated unless proven otherwise.
  • Ventilate enclosed spaces with fresh air.
  • Allow only trained workers with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to clean up toxic chemicals, other hazardous waste, mold, and asbestos.
  • Use waterproof boots, latex or rubber gloves and other protective equipment. Consider using special chemical-resistant clothing, protective goggles, and a disposable respirator.
  • Keep an adequate supply of clean water available for drinking and washing.
  • Dangerous wildlife, such as snakes and alligators, may be present in floodwaters, or in areas where fold waters have receded. DO NOT approach or feed animals; contact the Parks & Wildlife Department.

Electrical Safety

  • Assume all power lines are live or energized.
  • Establish and clearly mark a danger zone around downed lines.
  • Stay at least 10 feet from all downed lines.
  • Allow only trained and equipped workers to repair electrical lines.
  • Utilize Ground Fault Circuit Interruption (GFCI) devices when using electrical equipment, regardless if connected to utility provided power sources or generator sources.

Residential Owners - The following precautions are recommended to ensure personal safety, avoid costly damage to physical equipment and minimize the financial losses as residents return:

  • Do not enter a home or building where there is standing water inside until you are sure the main power is off.  
  • If there’s evidence of flooding and you’re not sure if the main power has been turned off, do not attempt to turn it off. Contact an electrician or your electric utility.
  • Locate the main panel to see if any circuit breakers or fuses have tripped if there is no electricity upon return.
  • If there are any signs of smoke, fire or water damage near electrical outlets, immediately unplug all items in the area and contact an electrician or your electric utility.
  • If there is any indication of natural gas or liquefied petroleum leaks, leave the area immediately and contact your utility company at once.

Business Owners - The following are steps that may be taken to increase worker safety if dealing with wet electrical equipment:

  • Electrical equipment that has been exposed to flood waters must be inspected by a licensed professional using instructions from the manufacturer and industry guidelines.
  • In general, most electrical equipment exposed to flood water will require replacement. There are exceptions to this rule for larger equipment, which may be reconditioned by trained factory service personnel.
  • Inspection personnel should contact the equipment manufacturer for direct guidance on the equipment evaluation.

Debris Removal

  • Discard water-damaged and visibly contaminated materials.
  • Establish and clearly mark a danger zone around debris and where tree debris may fall.
  • Allow only trained workers with proper PPE such as work gloves, a hard hat, work boots, hearing protection, and eye/face protection to clean up debris.
  • Use mechanical equipment to lift heavy objects.
  • Up-to-date with tetanus vaccination.

Slips, Trips, & Falls

  • Use safety procedures to prevent aerial lift tip-overs.
  • Utilize fall protection.
  • Use proper ladder safety. Do not use aluminum ladders in an area where electrical hazards may be present.
  • Be aware of wet or slippery surfaces, obstacles, or uneven surfaces.

Hand Tools and Equipment

  • Only utilize equipment that you are familiar with, and comfortable with using.
  • Ensure proper personal protective equipment use when using tools such as chainsaws, hammers, nail guns, or impact tools.
  • Exercise caution when using ATV’s, tractors, or other heavy equipment, especially on slopes or uneven terrain. Please follow all manufacturers’ safety information.
Personal Health
  • Use a high SPF sunblock when working.
  • Use a Deet-based bug repellent while outside.
 

Additional safety considerations can be found in this OSHA Fact Sheet.

 


Employers Must Provide Medicare Creditable Coverage Notice by Oct 14

Posted by Tracy Leeth on September 12, 2017

Compliance_Corner_1.jpg

Every year employers who sponsor group health plans must notify Medicare-eligible plan participants whether the plan's prescription drug coverage is creditable, i.e., pays on average as much as standard Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) provides two model notices for employers to customize and distribute - one for plans with creditable coverage and the other for plans with non-creditable coverage.  The purpose of this notice is to help individuals make informed decisions on when to elect Medicare Part D coverage to avoid late enrollment penalties.  There is no penalty on the employer for providing non-creditable coverage.

Contact your insurer, TPA or PBM for information regarding creditable coverage status.  Certain plans must engage an actuary make this determination.

See this Summary of Rules for additional guidance on the notice and meeting the October 14, 2017 deadline.


After the Storm: Top Employee Considerations

Posted by Vanessa Lolli on September 11, 2017

Hurricane_hero.jpg

 

In the wake of natural disasters, most recently Hurricanes Harvey and Irma making landfall on the U.S., employers need to keep several considerations top of mind when it comes to their employees.

  1. Employee Communication – If you have an established communication plan in place, notify your employees as soon as possible regarding office and business closures. If your business does not have an established communication process, quickly determine the best way to reach out to all employees by way of phone calls, text messages, and/or email communication. Be sure to communicate information about business closures, local resources or shelters (as possible and available), and return to work expectations following the hurricane or weather event.
  2. Employee Pay - When a hurricane or natural disaster hits your area, business operations will likely cease for a duration of time. While compliance with the FLSA is of the utmost importance, it’s also important to consider morale issues related to docking pay during a natural disaster. Under the federal law, you must ensure that:  
    • Non-exempt employees are paid for actual hours worked. If the business is open for partial week or partial day(s) and the employee works, the employee must be compensated for all time worked.
    • Exempt employees must be paid their full salary if your business is closed due to a natural disaster for less than a full workweek. The employer may require the exempt employee to use paid time off or other paid leave for the days during business closure.
    • If the business remains open and an exempt employee does not come into work, you should treat it as an absence for personal reasons and do not have to pay the employee if the employee is out for a full day.
    • Any employee, non-exempt or exempt, who is able to work from home during a natural disaster or subsequent business closure must be paid for hours worked.
  3. Employee Assistance – Many of your employees have been displaced during the hurricane or natural disaster and upon return to their home may discover total or partial loss. The process of rebuilding can be emotionally and financially stressful and employers can help by providing assistance in a few ways:
    • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
    • Time off with or without pay
    • Establishing a time off donation bank
    • Offering remote work options, as appropriate and feasible
    • Provide information about benefits. See more information from the Department of Labor here.

If you have questions about how you can accommodate employees when resuming business operations or if you would like to discuss any of these options in further detail, please reach out to your Cobbs Allen team today. 


Cobbs Allen in the News: Insurance & Financial Advisor

Posted by Caitlin Miley on September 11, 2017

Teneo Capital, Cobbs Allen form strategic insurance partnership

Teneo Holdings, the New York City-based global CEO advisory firm, announced that its investment banking division Teneo Capital has entered a strategic partnership with Cobbs Allen, a risk management firm providing structured solutions, commercial insurance, employee benefits, and alternative risk financing services.

The new partnership will provide structured insurance products designed to address a spectrum of the financial, strategic, and operational challenges facing companies and organizations around the world. It will leverage Teneo Capital’s deep strategic advisory and capital markets expertise with Cobb Allen’s over one hundred years of insurance broking knowledge in specialized markets.

Read the full article here


After the Storm: Post Loss Preparation for Claim

Posted by Alan McCoin on September 8, 2017

Flood_scene.jpg

 

With the excessive high winds and continuing heavy rains with rising water, it maybe days or even weeks before people can return to their homes and businesses to assess damage from recent hurricanes. The following are some tips that will assist you with the claims process:

  • Secure your property to prevent any additional damage
  • Provide photos of damaged property to depict all damages that will be claimed - If possible, provide photos of property prior to damage
  • Prepare a detailed inventory of damaged property and inventory - If possible, provide receipts or invoices as proof of ownership and original purchase price
  • Do not discard or dispose of any items that you will claim damaged until adjuster verifies damages
  • Obtain emergency repair costs (preferably in writing) prior to allowing any contractor to assist with emergency repairs - Request contractor provide photos of damaged area prior to any agreement to begin emergency repairs
  • Verify contractor’s insurance coverage prior to allowing any emergency repairs to begin
  • Do not allow any permanent repairs to begin until agreed upon with the adjuster
  • Extra expense coverage (if purchased) - Retain any/all receipts to document all extra costs incurred during the emergency period
  • Business Interruption coverage (if purchased) - Be prepared to provide Profit & Loss Statements (2 years prior to loss) to support any BI claim

 

Cobbs Allen would like you to know we are here to help. If we provide your flood and/or property insurance, please contact us. Since there are so many variables, please know that Cobbs Allen remains available to serve you throughout your claims process. We strive to provide you with customer satisfaction through an effective claims resolution experience.

Please report your claim immediately, call your Cobbs Allen Claims Team at 1-800-248-0189 or email at claims@cobbsallen.com