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Insights

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Cobbs Allen was presented today with the Silver Platinum Award by Barrett Leahy, Divisional Vice President, Specialty Human Services Division with Great American Insurance Group. This honor is given to agencies writing over $350,000 in annual premium with Great American. Cobbs is proud to partner with Great American and will continue to work with them to bring quality insurance products to our clients.

 

Pictured left to right: Barrett Leahy from Great American Insurance Group; and representing Cobbs Allen, Margaret Brooke, Felix Drennen, and Bradley Beam.


The New Brown Bag Lunch

Posted by Caitlin Miley on March 13, 2017

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I am not a morning person. I press snooze at least twice every day. I grab a breakfast bar or bagel as I rush out the door on the way to work. I always mean to get up earlier, take my time getting ready, even make myself a healthy lunch before heading to work.

But, like I said, I am NOT a morning person, and that never happens. Instead, I end up going out for lunch. And let me tell you, eating out adds up quickly—both in dollars spent and calories consumed. So one day I decided I had had enough! I wanted to save money and eat healthier (who doesn’t?).

Let’s review. I want to stop eating out so often so that I can save money and eat healthier. But I don’t have enough time to make my lunches in the mornings. Solution? Make my lunches the night before!

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve found helpful in making healthy lunches the night before:

  • Turn an average lunchbox meal (like a turkey and cheese sandwich, for example) into something delicious that you look forward to eating (use your favorite whole grain bread, add blackberry jam, baby spinach and Swiss cheese!).
  • Use leftovers from dinner the night before. An extra chicken breast from dinner tonight turns into a great lunch tomorrow!
  • Invest in a few plastic containers that are divided into sections. These are great for making “bento box” style lunches—almost like grown up Lunchables!
  • Get creative! Remember lunch doesn’t have to be limited to a sandwich or leftovers. Turn to Pinterest or your favorite recipe book for inspiration. It feels less like a chore when you are excited about trying out a new recipe!

After trying this for about three weeks now, I am a believer! By making my own lunches instead of eating out, I’m saving about $40 a week—and I still get to press the snooze button without fretting over what I’ll eat for lunch that day!

Caitlin Miley is the Communications Assistant. She manages Cobbs Allen's social media and provides a fresh perspective on variety of topics.


ACA Repeal Moving Forward

Posted by Tracy Leeth on March 10, 2017

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Earlier this week, House Republicans released legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) pursuant to the budget resolution passed on January 13th. Two bills were drafted -- one by the Energy and Commerce Committee and the other by the Ways and Means Committee. Together the bills comprise the “American Health Care Act” (AHCA). On Thursday, the bills were considered for mark-up and approved by the committees. The bills were limited in scope to revenue-related ACA provisions permitted by the reconciliation process.

The committee bills are highly controversial and have been opposed by Democrats, conservative Republicans, healthcare providers, seniors and others. Although the bills will likely be amended before potentially becoming law, they provide us with a precursory indication of potential changes to ACA.

AHCA-highlights of changes from an employer perspective:

  • Employer and Individual Mandates -- essentially repeal by reducing the penalties to $0 retroactively to January 1, 2016.  Note: Penalties for 2015 were not reduced.
  • ACA Reporting (IRS Forms 1094 and 1095’s) – no changes at this time, but simplified reporting (in the W-2 instead) is expected in future guidance. Certain information will be necessary for the government to manage current Exchange / Marketplace premium credits (subsidies) which will remain available until 2020 and for tax credits proposed to be available in 2020 (in lieu of the current subsidies).
  • Health Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – remove annual contribution limit in 2018.
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSA) – increase maximum annual contribution in 2018.
  • Over-the-Counter Medication – qualify for reimbursement from FSA and HSA in 2018.
  • Health Insurer Tax of 2% (applicable to fully-insured plans) – repeal in 2018.
  • Medicare Surcharge of 0.9% (for high income earners) – repeal in 2018.
  • Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) – reinstate as a deduction.
  • Cadillac Tax – delay (again) until 2025.
  • Pre-existing Condition Limit – maintain. Although individuals with a 63-day break in service (or longer) would be subject to a 30% premium surcharge beginning in 2019.

Next steps:

  • House Budget Committee to markup and consolidate the two bills (possibly March 15th)
  • Congressional Budget Office to score the legislation
  • House to vote
  • Senate to consider and approve
  • President Trump to sign
  • Note: Separate legislation is necessary to repeal non-revenue-related ACA provisions. According to House Speaker Paul Ryan, the additional legislation, which is expected to expand association health plans, will be presented to the House at the same time as the reconciliation bill.

See below for links to helpful resources:

Two-page summary by Ways and Means Committee

Analysis by section by Ways and Means Committee

Analysis by section by Energy and Commerce Committee

Summary of the legislation 

Energy and Commerce Committee Bill

Comparison of Tax Credits under ACA and AHCA

 


Ty Reed Selected as Mentor for Bizwomen Mentoring Monday Event

Posted by Caitlin Miley on March 10, 2017

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The Birmingham Business Journal has selected Cobbs Allen HR Director Ty Williams-Reed to serve as a mentor for the annual Bizwomen Mentoring Monday event on April 3.

The 47 successful businesswomen chosen to be mentors come from many different industries in the metro Birmingham area. They will be at the Mentoring Monday event to participate in short one-on-one sessions with attendees as well as to lead discussions for small groups of women.

“I am so honored to be part of such an amazing group of professionals through BBJ’s Mentoring Monday,” Reed said. “My career path has been guided by countless mentors—from Vivian Hernandez-Ortiz of ABC News to Taryn Hunter of CUNY Hunter College and Rose Walker of the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club. I know each of my mentors consider my success their personal responsibility. They believed women could succeed in the workplace and they knew mentoring was the tool for the task.”

For more information about the event and the mentors, visit the Birmingham Business Journal’s website


Spring Commissioning Your Boat

Posted by Margaret Ann Pyburn on March 9, 2017

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Around these parts, spring break is the official, unofficial kick-off to fun in the sun. It is the time of year when we move our clocks forward, the days start to grow longer, the sun is shining and most people are getting spring fever. And if you have a boat that means having that baby ready to hit the water.

Whether this is your first season to have a boat or your twentieth, safety comes first before you set out. Here is a check-list you can use as a guide to get your boat ready for the season. 

BOAT:

  • Check all fluids & coolant levels
  • Check battery charge/terminals/wire connections & secure as needed
  • Check navigational lighting/horn
  • Adjust carburetor as needed/check ignition timing
  • Reinstall propeller
  • Check trim & tilt
  • Inspect belts & hoses
  • Start engine/change spark plugs
  • Check shifting/steering & test bilge pump
  • Check & adjust idle
  • Check operating temperature & oil pressure
  • Replace zincs
  • Verify fuel pressure & water flow
  • Replace water pump impeller

TRAILER:

  • Inspect tire treads (including spare) and sidewalls for cracks/thinning treads and replace as necessary
  • Test tail/back-up lights and winch to make sure it’s working properly
  • Inspect bearings & repack as necessary
  • Inspect trailer frame for rust--sand & paint to prevent further deterioration

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Check expiration dates on flares & fire extinguishers
  • Check the shore power cable connections for burns, which indicates the cable may need to be replaced
  • Review your boat insurance policy & update coverage if needed. Be sure you have fuel spill insurance coverage
  • Inspect dock & anchor lines for chafing.
  • Make sure your boating license and/or registration is up to date. Don’t forget your trailer tags
  • Make sure you have a properly sized & wearable life jackets in good condition for each passenger, including kids and pets

For more information about boating safety and to get more tips on boat maintenance visit the American Boating Association’s website. If you would like to know more about boating insurance or to make sure your policy is up to date, please contact a Cobbs Allen personal advocate.

 

Margaret Ann serves as executive vice president, personal lines manager and personal advocate at Cobbs Allen. 


ACA – Update on Legislative and Agency Action

Posted by Tracy Leeth on February 24, 2017

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Since its enactment in March of 2010, Americans, both as individuals and businesses, have been impacted one way or another by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  “Obamacare” quickly became the nickname of the federal statute as President Barack Obama spent years reforming healthcare in an effort to provide affordable medical coverage to all U.S. citizens.  Although this goal sounded ideal and drummed a lot of support, the law’s unintentional consequences and complex rules and regulations proved to burden stakeholders - particularly employers.  It seemed like every other month companies were subject to a new fee, reporting requirement or additional mandate, including the key “Play or Pay” provision.

Six years later, Donald Trump promised to repeal the ACA if elected President – and elected he was.  When President Trump was inaugurated the buzz quickly began – how much longer will we be subject to the ACA?  Can he really repeal the entire statue Obama spent years building?  On Day One, President Trump signed an Executive Order to reduce ACA burdens.  While it signified Trump’s intent to take immediate action, the Order lacked substance.  Recently, some discernible action has ensued, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding the future of the ACA.

While I know everyone loves reading lengthy blog posts about healthcare, especially when it comes to Obamacare, I’ve condensed recent noteworthy legislative and government agency activities into the following bullet points:

EMPLOYERS

  • Employer Mandate – The mandate continues to apply to “applicable large employers” as is, but its repeal is included in many replacement plans, including a new blueprint devised by House Republicans.  Note:  IRS stated in Questions #56-58 on its website that it would be enforcing 2015 penalties in early 2017.
  • ACA Reporting – Applicable large employers should maintain compliance and meet the upcoming deadlines for the IRS Forms 1094 and 1095.  Currently, the IRS is sending letters to employers for whom they have not received forms for the 2015 year.  Employers have 30 days to respond to the letter.
  • Tax on Benefits – Reportedly, the Congressional Budget Office has plans to add a new employee benefits tax in upcoming legislation; possibly in replacement of ACA’s Cadillac Tax.

Pack Health Lunch 'N Learn

Posted by Caitlin Miley on February 23, 2017

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Today a group of our associates attended a Lunch 'N Learn to hear more about Pack Health, one of our new health benefits!