Happy Women’s History Month from PEO Compass!!

In addition to the United States, Women’s History Month is celebrated in the UK and Australia. Though declared a formal ‘month’ by Congress in 1987, many have been celebrating the vital role of women dating as far back as March of 1911!

To discover more, visit the National Women’s History Museum or the Women’s History Month website sponsored by the Library of Congress.

For NAPEO members, this Thursday is the next Women in NAPEO (WIN) event of which Libertate is a proud sponsor. Teresa Carroll, President of Oasis, a Paychex Company will discuss the habits and behaviors that are holding women back as outlined in the book How Women Rise by Sally Helgeson and Marshall Goldsmith. For registration information, click here.

Finally, as a woman who has been fortunate enough to be surrounded by intelligent hard-working female role models her entire life (my grandmother being one of them – pictured below), I am so proud of this month! Sharlene Singleton, here’s to you!

Start the New Year with a Digital Declutter

Fantastic advice from Fast Company to kick off 2021!

“How do you simplify your digital life?” is quickly becoming the question of our generation. Between packed calendars, overflowing inboxes, and the constant pull of social media and news (and Netflix) it can feel like how you spend your time online isn’t really up to you.

But what if there was a way to use your technology without feeling used by it? The answer is Digital minimalism.

Coined by author and computer science professor Cal Newport in his book of the same name, digital minimalism is a philosophy of technology use based on the understanding that our relationship with our apps, tools, and phones is nuanced and deserves more intention than we give it.

The problem–as Cal sees it– is that email and chat can be both stressful and productive.

Facebook can be both distracting and empowering.

Our phones are equally annoying interruptions and powerful tools for navigating the world.

How you use your apps and tools can bring you value or be a frustrating distraction. And finding a balance between the negative and positive aspects of technology is a delicate balancing act that digital minimalism tries to solve.

THE BASICS OF DIGITAL MINIMALISM

The concept of “minimalism” has become more and more popular over the past few decades.

As many of us find ourselves sucked into a lifestyle of overconsumption and “more,” the idea of living happily with less becomes more alluring.

However, minimalism–in all its forms–isn’t just about reducing how much “stuff” you have but being intentional about why you have what you do and how you can use it in the best way possible.

As Cal explains:

“Minimalists tend to spend much less money and own many fewer things than their peers. They also tend to be much more intentional and often quite radical in shaping their lives around things that matter to them.”

Digital minimalism, in the same way, isn’t just about deleting Facebook or learning a better way to clear out your inbox. It’s about intentionally shaping your digital life around your values so you can feel good about the apps and tools you use on a daily basis.

However, this is harder than it sounds.

The problem isn’t just the sheer usage of technology. It’s in how digital technologies lump together the good with the bad like some omnibus bill.

Few of us are willing to give up the good technology does (getting around via Google Maps, seeing family photos on Instagram, etc . . .) in return for reducing the harm. Yet constantly policing your apps and your own behaviors can only lead to one thing: exhaustion.

According to our own research, we found that on average, you’re likely to:

  • Check email and chat every six minutes or less
  • Use 56+ apps and tools a day and switch between them more than 300 times
  • Spend up to 4.5 hours on your phone
  • Multitask for at least 40% of our day

It’s hard to imagine a worse situation for deep thinking, focus, and even mental health.

The more we accept a life full of attention-sucking apps, devices, and tools, the less time and energy we have for the kind of deep thinking that leads to big ideas, real creativity, and satisfaction.

Instead, digital minimalism presents a different view of technology–one where you focus your time on “a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

On the surface, the core elements of digital minimalism are simple:

First, there’s choice and intention. You’re still using technology, but only what you want and only in ways that connect to your values.

Then, there’s optimizing the tools you use. What you allow into your life needs to work for you. This means separating the good from the bad.

Finally, there’s accepting you won’t be everywhere all the time. Tech companies survive on FOMO–the fear of missing out. But digital minimalists are happy to miss out on the things they know don’t bring value to their lives.

However, this can be a strange process if you’ve never really thought about how you use technology. But as you’ll see, the results are worth it: less stress, more focus, and a better, more fulfilling life.

THE DIGITAL DECLUTTER: A 30-DAY PLAN FOR BUILDING A PRACTICE OF DIGITAL MINIMALISM

Developing a digital minimalist mindset isn’t easy. However, in his book, Cal provides a powerful tool in a 30-day plan to kickstart your minimalist lifestyle.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Define your core values (and how technology helps and hurts them)

Digital minimalism relies on a deeper understanding of your values. This is what you’ll be judging the value of each digital tool against.

So ask yourself: What is it that’s important to you? What do you want to achieve from how you spend your time?

Values can be things like authenticity or creativity or even compassion and friendship. These are intentionally large and somewhat vague. However, they’re powerful lenses to look at your technology through.

What part of using Facebook connects with your sense of authenticity? Does being on Twitter or in numerous Slack channels make you feel compassionate?

When you clearly understand your values and how they influence your philosophy of technology use, you can make informed and confident decisions about what to use and when. You become able to prioritize long-term meaning over short-term satisfaction.

(If you need help, author James Clear has a great list of core values you can use as inspiration.)

Step 2: Drop all “optional” technologies for 30 days

Instead of immediately trying to judge whether the tools you use connect to your values, Cal suggests the opposite:

Set aside a 30-day period during which you will take a break from all optional technologies in your life.

“Optional,” in this case, means any tool or app where their “temporary removal would harm or significantly disrupt the daily operation of your profession or personal life.”

Make a list of apps, tools, and services (like Netflix, gaming, etc . . .) that are effectively ‘banned’ for the next 30 days. Work email is not optional. Twitter—most likely—is. Write these down and put them somewhere you’ll be able to see them every day.

The reason for such a drastic change is because the pull of the attention economy has simply become too strong. Trying to gradually change your habits won’t work. Instead, you need the experience of a full break before you can make unbiased decisions about what to let back into your life.

Step 3: Track your “technology triggers” and explore other activities

During the 30 days of your “declutter” you have two goals:

Pay special attention to when you feel the pull of technology. When do you find yourself reaching for your phone? Do you procrastinate on work tasks or sending emails by checking Twitter? Often our technology usage masks some other underlying issue.

Explore “higher quality” activities to fill the void of time. A major part of this declutter is actively trying out other activities in place of technology. Fill the space by reading books or going for walks with friends or working on a hobby you’ve neglected or just daydreaming.

As Cal explains, by the end of the declutter you want to discover “the type of activities that generate real satisfaction, enabling you to confidently craft a better life–one in which technology serves only a supporting role for more meaningful ends.”

Step 4: Create “operating procedures” for the tools you let back in

After your break is done, you’re allowed to reintroduce optional technologies back into your life under two conditions.

First, for each tool, app, or device, ask:

“Does this technology directly support something that I deeply value?”

It doesn’t matter if the tool or app provides some value. It must be intrinsically linked to one of your core values.

For example, you might decide that reading hot takes on Twitter is just a distraction, while chatting with old friends from your hometown over Instagram deeply connects to your value of friendship.

This brings us to the second point. Once an app or tool has made it through the first pass, ask:

“Is this technology set up in the best way to support this value?”

To pass this test, Cal suggests creating operating procedures–clear rules for when and how you use each of the optional technologies you let back in.

For example, you wouldn’t just say “I use Instagram because it helps me feel connected to my friends.” Instead, you would make a more detailed rule such as:

“I check Instagram once a day after working days and limit my usage to just 20 minutes. I’ve reduced my list of friends down to just the most meaningful ones I want to keep up with.”

Every new tool you bring in must also pass these tests.

Step 5: Actively ignore the rest

With your list of allowed tools and apps, clear operating procedures, and high-quality activities to fill your time, you shouldn’t be too stressed about keeping up with Facebook or checking the news every 30 minutes.

But being a digital minimalist is an ongoing process.

As Cal explains:

“The fact that [a piece of technology] offers some value is irrelevant–the digital minimalist deploys technology to serve the things they find most important in their life, and is happy missing out on everything else.”

5 BEST PRACTICES FOR MAINTAINING A DIGITAL MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE FOR THE LONG-TERM

As we’ve written in the past, the hardest part of any productivity strategy is sticking with it for the long-term. The same goes for maintaining your new practice of digital minimalism.

The key to staying away from attention-sucking technologies is to fill that time with other, more meaningful activities. Yet this isn’t always easy if you’ve spent years scrolling, tapping, and swiping away.

To help you rebuild your curiosity in non-technologically driven pastimes, Cal outlines a number of ways to support your newfound digital autonomy:

  1. Spend time alone. Solitude—both physical and mental—is important for thinking clearly. Rather than feeling the FOMO of social media, try leaving your phone at home while you go for a walk.
  2. Don’t click like. Social media and digital communication have become digital versions of fast food–easy to consume yet with little nutritional value. To combat this, Cal suggests you specifically limit the performative aspect of these tools. Yes, you can stay in touch and connect with loved ones. But don’t click ‘like’ or allow yourself to be always available.
  3. Reclaim leisure. One of the reasons we lean so heavily on digital technologies is that we’ve lost our hobbies. It’s easier to scroll through your phone than read a book. Try reclaiming leisure time for analog tasks you enjoy.
  4. Join the Attention Resistance. You don’t have to use all the features on your phone or be constantly connected to social media. As Cal writes, digital minimalists give themselves less ‘entry points’ to distraction. Try deleting social media off your phone. Or treat it like a professional task—something you do as needed and not more.
  5. Imagine you have to pay for every click, swipe, or tap. If you can’t give your time and attention the value it deserves, then give it a monetary value. Ask how your behavior would change if every swipe on Instagram, click of a clickbait-y infographic, or scroll of your Twitter feed costs $1.

Digital minimalism is a way to not only clearly define what technologies you let into your life but how you use them.

Once you understand your true values you can build your technology use around them. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, you become more intentional, empowered, and productive.


Insurance Rates Will Continue to Rise in 2021

See below from Business Insurance. The newest line of insurance to join the ‘rates are increasing’ club is workers’ compensation…..

Property/casualty insurance buyers, who have endured price hikes for more than a year in many cases, will likely see rate increases extending into 2021, with some lines continuing to see double-digit rate hikes, experts say.

The size of the increases could be blunted, however, as the hardening market draws new capital and insurers looking to take advantage of the rising tide.

recent survey by brokerage Alera Group Inc., which included insurers, wholesalers and Alera’s agent and broker affiliates, showed an average forecasted rate increase across all lines of 11.6% next year, with increases ranging from a high of 17.5% for medical malpractice insurance to a low of 4.7% for workers compensation.

The survey was conducted in the third quarter, said Mark Englert, national property and casualty leader at Alera in New York. He said the increases are driven by insurers’ attempts to return lines to profitability.

“When you start to go by line of business, you can see why some lines are more aggressive in the request for rate,” Mr. Englert said.

Workers comp, for example, has been profitable for insurers since 2012, and showed an underwriting profit from 2015 to 2019. By contrast, commercial auto was unprofitable from 2015 to 2019 and generated underwriting losses from 2012 through 2019.

In addition, low interest rates have restricted insurers’ ability to make up for underwriting losses with investment income. “Investment income is challenged, so what you are seeing in the carrier community is a real need to drive strong underwriting results,” Mr. Englert said.

Insurers’ “books were not profitable,” said Renee Dube, vice president, national property and casualty practice, in Valhalla, New York, for USI Insurance Services LLC.

In its recently published outlook for the commercial property/casualty market for the fourth quarter of this year and the first half of 2021, USI forecasts that at one end of the pricing spectrum workers comp could rise up to 5%, while at the other end public company directors and officers insurance liability rates may see increases of up to 100%.

The hard market “will probably last for some time,” said J. Paul Newsome Jr., Chicago-based managing director at investment brokerage Piper Sandler Cos.

Mr. Newsome noted, however, that higher rates and premiums are attracting fresh capital, which could help slow rate increases. “Private equity has been quick to try to build new companies, and this might reduce the length of the hard market,” he said.

“Challenging conditions continue to exist across most coverage lines in the U.S., but especially in the umbrella/excess casualty and directors and officers liability market,” said Christopher Lang, global placement leader, U.S. and Canada, for Marsh LLC in New York, in a statement emailed to Business Insurance. “We expect these conditions to persist into 2021.” 

Next year should see “persistent rate increases and solid core underwriting margin expansion for most commercial, especially specialty, insurance lines and for reinsurance,” according to a Dec. 18 report from Meyer Shields, Baltimore-based managing director at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.

“Heightened property and casualty loss cost inflation, pressured investment yields, and rising reinsurance costs should support enduring rate increases for most commercial lines,” he said in the report.

Sunz Holdings Announces Significant Investment from Blackstone Tactical Opportunities

Congrats to our friends at Sunz!!

Bradenton, Fla. (Dec. 23, 2020) – SUNZ Holdings, LLC (“SUNZ”) announced today that funds managed by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (“Blackstone”) have acquired a significant stake in the company to help fuel SUNZ’s continued expansion. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SUNZ is a leading provider of workers compensation insurance and related services such as policy administration, claims administration and customer support. SUNZ delivers technologically advanced solutions for its customers – with a specialized focus on risk sharing programs for Professional Employer Organizations, staffing companies and large organizations.

Menes Chee, a Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, said, “SUNZ is exceptionally well positioned for future growth. Blackstone is excited to partner with their first-rate management team to help the company continue to expand into new markets and verticals so it can best serve its customers.”

Steve Herrig, CEO of SUNZ, said, “This partnership should propel SUNZ to a new level by enabling us to pursue new market opportunities and expand our national footprint. We look forward to a synergistic collaboration with Blackstone and to further accelerating the expansion of our specialized programs.”

About SUNZ Holdings, LLC

SUNZ Holdings, LLC is the parent company of SUNZ Insurance, a national workers’ compensation
insurance company headquartered in Bradenton, Florida. SUNZ Insurance develops unique workers’ compensation programs that deliver innovative and tailored solutions to protect businesses and their employees. SUNZ understands its clients need for fluidity, offering workers’ compensation insurance options that do not begin and end with the printed policy. SUNZ believes that a safe work environment and healthy workforce is the foundation for a successful business. There are several affiliate companies within the SUNZ Holdings enterprise that provide related and ancillary services to the workers compensation insurance industry. These companies include Next Level Administrators, WatchPoint, Avalon Subrogation Partners, and Ascential Care Partners. For more information, visit www.sunzinsurance.com.

About Blackstone

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long- term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our $584 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow Blackstone on Twitter @Blackstone.

About Tactical Opportunities

Tactical Opportunities (Tac Opps) is Blackstone’s opportunistic investment platform. The Tac Opps team invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, seeking to identify and execute on attractive, differentiated investment opportunities. As part of the strategy, the team leverages the intellectual capital across Blackstone’s various businesses while continuously optimizing its approach in the face of ever-changing market conditions.

Contacts

Blackstone
Matt Anderson
+1-212-390-2472 matthew.anderson@blackstone.com ###

Chief Actuary Antonello to Be Next CEO of Employers Holdings

Excited to announce that former NCCI Chief Actuary, Katherine H. Antonello, will take the helm at Employers beginning next April. Here’s to hoping 2021 will bring this great carrier into the PEO space!

Source: Insurance Journal

Small business workers’ compensation insurance specialist Employers Holdings Inc. has named Katherine H. Antonello as its president and chief executive officer.

She will take over upon the retirement of Douglas D. Dirks on April 1, 2021. Dirks will be retiring after heading the company for more than 27 years.

Antonello joined EMPLOYERS in August 2019 as executive vice president and chief actuary of the company. Prior to joining EMPLOYERS, Antonello served as the chief actuary for the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) from 2013-2019.

Antonello has more than 25 years of workers’ compensation insurance experience having held leadership roles in actuarial, policy services, claims and internal audit functions. In addition to working at NCCI, she has worked at Lumbermen’s Underwriting Alliance and the consultant Milliman.

Katherine Antonello

Michael J. McSally, chairman of the board, said that in her “relatively short tenure” with the company, Antonello has demonstrated her “ability to be a visionary and think strategically” about the business.

“As a mono-line company, we have the size, talent and entrepreneurial spirit to excel at what we do best,” commented Antonello. “We understand comp. I look forward to continuing our digital transformation, focusing on exceptional service to injured workers and ease of doing business for our agents, partners and policyholders.”

Reno, Nevada-based Employers Holdings operates throughout the United States, with the exception of four states that are served exclusively by their state funds. It offers its coverages through Employers Insurance Company of Nevada, Employers Compensation Insurance Co., Employers Preferred Insurance Co., Employers Assurance Co. and Cerity Insurance Co. Not all companies do business in all jurisdictions.

California Workers’ Comp COVID-19 Claim Count Tops 50,000

Below is a quick COVID update from workerscompensation.com regarding COVID claims in California. Let’s hope this downward trend continues!

Oakland, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) – The California workers’ compensation COVID-19 monthly claim count may have peaked in July, but the latest tally by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) shows that as of November 2, there have been 50,592 COVID-19 claims reported to the state Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) so far this year – including 282 death claims. That translates to 1 out of every 9 California job injury claims reported for accident year (AY) 2020.

The latest figures show that after climbing rapidly over the first 7 months of this year and hitting a record 14,453 claims in July, the number of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims reported to the DWC began to dwindle. The updated count shows 6,710 claims with August injury dates, 3,779 claims with September injury dates, and 2,016 claims with October injury dates. A significant number of claims from September and October could still be reported, but the initial claim counts from both these months were well below the early counts from June and July, so even accounting for the reporting lag associated with COVID-19 claims, those figures suggest a significant downtrend. Using claim development factors based on historical claim development from 2019 and the fluctuating development pattern for 2020 COVID-19 claims, CWCI now projects that there could ultimately be 15,786 COVID-19 claims with July injury dates, 6,910 claims with August injury dates, 4,535 claims with September injury dates, and 5,242 claims with October injury dates, which puts the projected number of COVID-19 claims for the first 10 months of AY 2020 at 57,833. Notably, denial rates for COVID-19 claims have stabilized within a narrow range, holding between 28.7 percent and 31.3 percent from April through August, while denial data on September and October claims is still too green for analysis as many of those claims remain under investigation. The distribution by industry shows that COVID-19 claims remain heavily concentrated among a small number of industry sectors, with more than three quarters of the claims from the first 10 months of this year involving workers in health care (37.1 percent); public safety/government (15.0 percent); manufacturing (8.3 percent); retail (7.9 percent); transportation (5.1 percent), and food service (4.4 percent).

The data on claims reported through October is included in the latest update to CWCI’s COVID-19 and Non-COVID-19 Interactive Claim Application, an online tool that integrates data from CWCI, the DWC, and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to provide detailed information on California workers’ comp claims from comparable periods of 2019 and 2020. The new version features data on 1,047,448 claims from the first 10 months of AY 2019 and AY 2020, including the 50,592 COVID-19 claims reported for AY 2020. As of November 2, the DWC had received reports on 458,941 workers’ compensation claims with January through October 2020 injury dates, which even with the COVID-19 claims, was 22 percent less than the total reported for the corresponding period of 2019, or 12.5 percent less after factoring in the projected claim development for AY 2020. The decline in the overall claim count reflects the economic slowdown and declining employment, as well as the millions of Californians who continue to work from home.

CWCI updates its COVID-19/Non-COVID 19 data app with new data every two weeks and plans to expand its features as more data on claim type and systemwide costs become available. The application is available to the public here.

OIR Orders Larger Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rate Decrease for 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier has issued an Order​ to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) requesting an amended rate filing to further reduce workers’ compensation rates for 2021.

The Order notifies NCCI that the rate filing submitted for a 5.7% rate decrease has been disapproved and, if amended by November 4, 2020, will be approved with the larger workers’ compensation rate decrease of 6.6%. Approval of the revised 6.6% rate decrease is contingent on the amended filing being submitted with changes as stipulated within the Order.

If approved by OIR, the revised rate decrease would become effective on January 1, 2021, for new and renewal business.

For more information about the NCCI public hearing and rate filing, visit the OIR NCCI Public Rate Hearing webpage.​ 

About the OIR

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) has primary responsibility for regulation, compliance, and enforcement of statutes related to the business of insurance and the monitoring of industry markets. For more information about OIR, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter @FLOIR_comm.

Workers’ Compensation Should See Profit in 2020 But Next Year Will Most Likely Be a Different Story

Source: Fitch Ratings

Despite the economic challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, the workers’ compensation insurance market is likely to report strong profitability in 2020 thanks to savings from lower claims frequency due that are currently outpacing pandemic-related losses, according to Fitch Ratings.

However, Fitch analysts warn, underwriting performance in 2021 and beyond will likely deteriorate, as claims activity normalizes with increased business activity and premium revenue continues to fall amid recent underwriting exposure reductions and competitive pricing forces.

According to Fitch, workers’ compensation insurance has been the most consistently profitable segment in U.S. commercial lines over the last five years, with a 91% average combined ratio from 2015-2019, Fitch notes. Loss reserves have also exhibited unusual strength with favorable prior-year development of 15% of calendar year earned premium in both 2018 and 2019.

While events remain highly fluid, year-to-date overall workers’ compensation results remain favorable. The direct loss ratio of 50% remained unchanged in the first half of this year versus the prior year first half.

Reports indicate that claims frequency is down significantly, tied likely to the slowdown in economic activity, with sharp reductions in employee time spent at the workspace. The California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) reported second quarter claims frequency compared to the prior-year quarter was down by 10% for indemnity claims and 33% for medical only claims.

Pandemic-related long term or catastrophic claims have also been limited to date. However, uncertainty remains regarding longer term health implications for more severe virus cases, including the potential for major organ damage and other chronic conditions that would ultimately increase workers’ compensation costs.

Pandemic-related cases represent 7.4% of year-to-date paid claims, 99% of which settled for payments of less than $10,000, according to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation’s recent 2020 COVID-19 Report.

Due to prior profitability, workers’ compensation is the only major commercial lines segment not experiencing significant premium rate increases. Segment direct written premiums in the first half of this year fell by 9% versus the prior-year period. “These volume declines are likely to continue in the near term, with underwriting exposure reductions, reduced employer payrolls and effects from negative premium audits,” the report says.

Negative premium rate pressure may briefly pause amid current economic uncertainty but not meaningfully subside over the next few years. Future premium volume will also hinge on the pace of the economic recovery, with recognition that improvement in employment and wages will be uneven across sectors.

Fitch says the strength of the economic recovery will also influence claims frequency levels going forward. However, some of the broad socio-economic shifts in response to the pandemic may have a longer-term effect on workers’ compensation risk exposures and claims costs, Fitch adds.

Also, Fitch analysts say greater use of telemedicine in case management, more prevalent work from home arrangements and reduced employee travel activity will affect the severity and frequency of claims.

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2020/10/27/588273.htm