Sunz Holdings Advocates for Employee Rights and Business Protection

Great article from our friends at Sunz regarding their efforts to protect small businesses and worksite employees. Bravo!

Bradenton, FL, April 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — SUNZ Holdings has long served as the bridge connecting employees, businesses, and lawmakers. As a national insurance provider, the company is in the unique position of being able to effectively translate the needs of businesses while also highlighting the potential voids in employee protection. This ability to see all sides and understand how various lawmakers across the country draft legislation has become an important part of protecting employees under the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) model.

Providing perspective is essential to the ongoing relationship between government entities and the business community. Naturally, the two want to work together to form a symbiotic relationship, which ultimately leads to a stable workforce and robust economy. However, sometimes it can be difficult for the two sides to communicate effectively, often leaving workers in the crossfire. The role of SUNZ is to create an ongoing conversation that values the views of both parties and seeks to achieve a shared understanding. Through advocacy, education, and transparency, SUNZ creates that conversation in state capitals and board rooms across the country.

To foster an open dialogue with lawmakers, SUNZ will meet one-on-one or in small committee groups with representatives. These meetings serve as working thought leader sessions where representatives can dive into important constituent issues specific to employment and workers’ compensation. Intimately understanding these issues, SUNZ provides lawmakers with a clear picture of how each decision will ultimately affect workers and businesses.

Take, for example, HB 1305 introduced in the Florida House of Representatives in March of 2021. On its own, the bill does little to protect employees or ensure they are provided safe working conditions. That is a significant problem considering that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.8 million nonfatal injuries occurred in the private sector in 2019 alone (2020 statistics are not available). One step further, according to the BLS, one worker died every 99 minutes in that same year. With such high numbers of workplace injuries, it is no surprise that American companies spend roughly $1 billion in workers’ compensation per week.

Putting increased burden on PEO organizations, the bill was missing a crucial point of view. Working closely with lawmakers, the SUNZ team illustrated how “The Gap” left vulnerable employees uninsured. Since the early days of workmen’s compensation, “The Gap” has allowed contractors to underreport their employee roster to cut costs. By underreporting, contractors alleviate themselves of the responsibility and expense of insurance while employees are left in coverage limbo.

In the above case of HB 1305, SUNZ serves a crucial role as voice and translator. Through its working relationship with legislators, SUNZ has carefully illustrated the reality of “The Gap.” If passed, this legislation would make it virtually impossible for PEOs to work with small construction companies, but it would not put a stop to the real problem, which is fraud. As a third party, the SUNZ team can provide a bird’s eye view of the situation and effectively advocate for the employees who suffer when fraud occurs.

HB 1305 is only one of many national legislative priorities that the SUNZ team monitors on a daily basis. Clients of the organization come to SUNZ looking to streamline their employee insurance coverage while also providing the highest level of protection for their workforce. This need takes many different forms depending on the industry and is heavily influenced by state and federal legislation.

Legislation can have profound and extended consequences for companies and their employees. While lawmakers often have the best intentions, it is vital that advocates provide a picture of how a decision will affect those downstream of it. SUNZ has and will continue to serve as that advocate, giving voice to the concerns of its clients and everyday employees nationwide. This mission is not about deal-making or lobbying; it is about providing companies and workers with the confidence that they and their families are protected in a risky world.

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’ needs 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 a healthy workforce are 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.

CONTACT: Rick Leonard SUNZ Insurance 9413063077 rleonard@sunzinsurance.com Matt Solomon HCP Associates 8133180565 msolomon@hcpassociates.com

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sunz-holdings-advocates-employee-rights-184100488.html

Challenges or opportunities for brokers placing cyber risk

Content used to write this post was originally written by NU Property Casualty 360’s Managing Editor, Ms. Heather A. Turner

According to a Guidewire report the numbers for cybercrime in 2020, have almost doubled! In addition to an increase in attacks and breaches are the related budgetary allocations being made by small to mid-sized businesses for cyber insurance over the next 2 years. Ramping up cyber sturdy tools and in an effort to prevent cyber attacks are a necessary play in prevention for the ever evolving cyber market and being fought across the property and casualty landscape.


According to a report published by CyberCube, a data-driven cyber analytics company for the insurance industry, the growing cyber market is creating unique opportunities for brokers to set themselves apart from their competitors. By marrying their existing areas of expertise with their new found and or improved fundamental comprehension of insurable cyber risk and exposure, brokers can show and or remind buyers and prospects alike why they are indispensable.

The following list was created by CyberCube to further explore examples of challenges and opportunities brokers face in the cyber market today.

Click here to read the detail following Opportunities 1-4 written by Heather A. Turner, of NU Property Casualty 360. You must register for free account.

  • Opportunity No. 1: Brokers are trusted advisors
  • Opportunity No. 2: Brokers can add value by mapping exposure to coverages and policy terms.
  • Opportunity No. 3: Getting a “yes” from insurers.
  • Opportunity No.4: Standalone cyber is just one aspect of a well rounded insurance program.

Interesting Tidbits for Your Week!

Expecting the Unexpected for Your Small Business. Common insurance types for small businesses.

For better or worse is generally a term related to marriage vows, but in business its just as important! Luckily for business owners there are ways to mitigate the risks associated with the “worse.” Pie Insurance recently released an article covering the types of common insurance for small businesses as well as some not so common options like a business owner’s policy (BOP); I thought it was worth sharing.

A Business Owner’s policy can include professional liability insurance (errors and omissions insurance), a commercial umbrella policy, employment practices liability insurance, directors and offices liability insurance and terrorism insurance. You can check out the full article here. The key to insurance is never needing it, but having it in place when you do. It can make the difference in saving your company when the unexpected happens. Contact us at Libertate Insurance, we can help.

1st Qtr 2021 Small Business Data

NAPEO issued small business snapshot data on Q1 of 2021. Check out the full review here.

High points from the data include:

Percentage change of Daily Small Business Revenue from January 2020 to January 2021 showing 50% decrease in revenues at April 1, 2020 with slowing increase about 31% overall increase at January 1, 2021. Small businesses are slowly pulling back.

Job losses in the United States are reported at 9.6 million; with the expected hardest hit industry of Leisure and Hospitality accounting for nearly 40% of all loss reported.

On a state by state analysis the numbers are showing more increase than decrease with the average unemployment rate reporting at 5.6% at the close of February 2021. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). Overall jobless rates are down in 23 states as of March and higher in only 4.

US Small Business Administration (SBA) Updates

If your business previously received the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance from the SBA for less than $10,000, the SBA is allowing applicants to re-apply to receive the full amount of the advance up to $10,000.

If your business was also a recipient of the EIDL these loans were previously limited to six months of economic injury up to a maximum of $150,000; the SBA has announced a change that will allow loan limits up to 24 months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. Be advised and proceed with caution, as the SBA takes security interest in the business assets for loan amounts over $25,000.

The SBA is also sending out emails to the EIDL loan recipients extending the first payment due on the EIDL loans to 2022 for loans issued in 2020. The first payment due date is extended 24 months from the date on the note. They have indicated that 2021 loans will have initial payments due 18 months from the note date. Interest continues to accrue during the deferment period.

Follow these instructions if you wish to request a loan increase:

  • Send email to CovidEIDLIncreaseRequests@sba.gov
  • Use subject line “EIDL Increase Request for [insert your 10-digit application number]”
  • Be sure to include in the body of your email identifying information for your current loan including application number, loan number, business name, business address, business owner name(s), and phone number.

Important: Do not include any financial documents or tax records with your initial request. You will receive a follow up email notification if we need additional documents.

You can check out all of the updates for offerings available from the SBA here.

History of Workers’ Compensation

AND last but not least, for those insurance nerds, another very interesting release from Pie Insurance is a history of workers’ compensation insurance. Covering where the laws stand today, where it started and how it has changed the benefits to workers in the United States. Interesting and educational read, check it out here.

Be sure to check out our continual updates here, on PEO Compass, regarding Florida’s House Bill 1305 and its impact on workers’ compensation and the PEO industry.

Highlights of the Proposed $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package

The House of Representatives has passed its version of the proposed stimulus bill, which includes extended unemployment benefits, direct checks to individuals and more. The bill is now with the Senate, where some provisions will likely change. Democrats hope to pass the $1.9 trillion relief package by mid-March, before existing COVID-19 relief measures, such as enhanced unemployment insurance, expire.

The bill could pass a Senate vote in the coming weeks, but it may face significant challenges amid a 50-50 party split.

It’s important for employers to have an idea of what to expect. To that end, this article outlines the most relevant aspects currently known about the bill—these components are likely to change as Congress hashes out its details.

Small Business Assistance

The proposed bill intends to invest billions toward small business assistance, and even provides heavily impacted businesses with fewer than 10 employees priority with some of the funds. Here is the current funding breakdown:

  • Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program: $15 billion
  • New grant program for bars and restaurants, specifically: $25 billion
    • Eligible businesses could receive up to $10 million, using the money for payroll, rent, utilities and other expenses.
  • Paycheck Protection Program: $7.25 billion

Stimulus checks

Just like the two other COVID-19 stimulus packages passed during the pandemic, this version will also feature direct payments to Americans. This time around, eligible recipients can expect $1,400 per person ($2,800 for couples), including adult dependentsa family of four could get up to $5,600.

However, payment parameters are stricter this time around than with previous stimulus checks. The full check amount will go to individuals earning under $75,000 (or $150,000 for couples), with payments cut off entirely for individuals earning over $100,000 (or $200,000 for couples). Anyone with income between those figures will receive a reduced check.

Unemployment Aid

The proposed bill seeks to extend two previously established pandemic unemployment assistance efforts: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. The financial assistance from these programs is currently set to expire in mid-March, pressuring legislators to act quickly.

The bill also seeks to enhance unemployment assistance payments from the current $300 per week to $400 per week. Unemployed gig workers, freelancers, contractors and others who previously qualified for aid will continue to be eligible under these programs.

Under the proposed bill, these programs and their financial aid would be extended through Aug. 29.

Housing Assistance

This proposed stimulus plan intends to set aside billions in financial aid to homeowners and renters. Here is the current funding breakdown:

  • Aid for back rent, rental assistance and utility payments: $19.1 billion
  • Aid for mortgages, utilities and property taxes: $10 billion
  • Aid to states and localities to help individuals at risk of becoming homeless: $5 billion

Paid Sick Leave

Previous stimulus packages guaranteed workers two weeks’ pay if they couldn’t work due to COVID-19-related reasons. The current proposal does not extend these benefits. However, employers that choose to continue offering this paid sick and family leave through Oct. 1 may receive a tax credit.

Minimum Wage

The proposed bill would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. It would also mandate that tipped employees, youth workers and workers with disabilities all receive the full federal minimum wage. This change would affect the wages of 27 million Americans. However, this particular proposal is hotly contested, and there has been speculation that it may need to be scrapped in order to secure the requisite number of votes to pass.

Update: Due to congressional rules, this provision will almost certainly not appear in the final bill after going to the Senate.

Aid to Schools and Child Care

A significant portion of the stimulus bill involves aid to states, including schools and child care facilities. Here is the current funding proposal:

  • Aid for getting K-12 schools ready for in-person learning: $130 billion
    • Money could be used for purchasing protective equipment, improving ventilation systems and preventing teacher layoffs. However, 20% of the money schools receive must be used to address pandemic learning loss—for example, extending learning time into the summer.
  • Aid for colleges: $40 billion
    • Institutions would be required to spend at least 50% of their allocated funds on emergency financial aid grants to students.
  • Child care provider assistance: $39 billion
    • Funds may be used for payroll, rent, protective equipment and other expenses.

Tax Credits

The stimulus bill aims to provide child tax credits to more low-income families. The bill proposes $3,000 for parents of children under the age of 18—$3,600 for parents of children under the age of 6. This credit would also become fully refundable.

The bill also seeks to expand the earned income tax credit for individuals without children. The maximum credit would be nearly tripled under the stimulus proposal, and eligibility would be expanded—the childless tax credit eligibility age would be reduced to 19 years of age, down from 25.

Aid to states, local governments, tribes and territories

The proposed bill would provide billions in financial assistance to states, local governments, tribes and territories. It’s currently unclear whether there are specific usage requirements tied to this assistance, or whether funds may be used however the entities deem fit. Here is the current funding breakdown:

  • Aid to state and local governments: $325.5 billion
  • Aid to tribes and territories: $24.5 billion

Summary

Again, these proposed figures are subject to change as Congress continues its debate over specific policy aspects. Some aid amounts are wildly above what some legislators deemed appropriate, signaling a contentious battle ahead.

Thank you for being part of our PEO Compass information outlet. Contact us at Libertate Insurance for your PEO and Workers’ Compensation needs.

Report on PEO in Florida is Submitted

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The report this report issued by The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (“OPPAGA”) in Florida, is clearly one commenced with negative overtones and questionable timing. As Senate Bill 820 looms in the background, this appears to be the “made for order” white paper to justify it. It is unfortunate that the issue of uninsured employers has been misconstrued with some sort of “gap in coverage” in workers’ compensation if a Professional Employer Organization is utilized. This is just not the case. A gap in coverage exists when a business does not buy insurance for its employees and that should be the focus of fixing the root issue of the uninsured employee.

The scope of the report is:

  1. “What is the relationship between PEO’s and insurance carriers, and how might workers’ compensation coverage differ for businesses that use PEO’s?”
  2. “How can the relationship between a PEO and its client companies lead to a workers’ compensation coverage gap?”
  3. “What has been the history of PEO-related workers’ compensation insurance carrier insolvencies in Florida?”
  4. “Can PEO’s offering workers’ compensation coverage have an effect on the workers’ compensation insurance market, including premiums for other businesses?”
  5. How have other states addressed PEO regulation and PEO-related workers’ compensation insurance coverage gaps?”
  6. What options could the legislature consider to address PEO regulation and PEO-related workers’ compensation insurance coverage gaps?”

According to the Director of the Florida Association of Professional Employer Organizations Robert Skrob:

“Since the creation of the workers’ compensation system, employers fraudulently paying employees cash under the table has been a problem. That why the law  holds general contractors responsible for what happens on their job sites.  Shifting that responsibility away from general contractors would lead to more workers’ compensation fraud by letting general contractors who don’t adequately oversee their worksites avoid responsibility.

Contractors who cheat the system by not providing workers’ compensation coverage for all people who work for them put those workers in danger. The Florida Legislature should eliminate the financial motivation and incentives built into the system that encourage workers compensation fraud in construction by increasing the number of jobsite investigations to keep up with the growth in the construction industry, and by holding the cheaters responsible.

There are a number of proposed bills which would implement some of the recommendations within this report. Together with NAPEO we will fight the proposals contained within this report.”

We could not agree more and look forward to helping any way possible to address the issue of the occupational uninsured. Not buying insurance for your employees is a crime.

From an insurance perspective, the real issue – taking care of the claimant, is addressed in most states through the administration of an “Office of Uninsured Employers”. If your employer did not buy workers’ compensation, you go to the State, the claimant’s benefits are funded, the employer is investigated/penalized and the fund is replenished. In Florida, if you are hurt and your employer has not purchased insurance, your primary recourse is to contact a personal injury attorney. “It’s free”, until their contingengies are triggered on what is already rightfully due tohe claimant. This is how it works in Florida in regard to uninsured employees of uninsured employers regardless of a PEO being involved or not.

We will be reviewing the OPPAGA report in detail and provide additional insight on it before the weekend.

Managing COVID-19 Employment Practice-Related Exposure

We found this article, made available by Insurance Journal, most informative. The original content can be accessed by clicking here.

This post is part of a series sponsored by The Hanover Insurance Group.

As the pandemic continues, we’re seeing new COVID-19-related regulations, restrictions and advisories issued and adjusted by federal, state, and local officials on a regular basis. Each jurisdiction can create and enforce its own laws, leaving many employers faced with varying—and at times conflicting—orders and guidance. This creates a decision point for employers. Which should they follow? And, how can that decision impact their business?

From decisions about workplace safety, such as personal protective equipment, visitor policies and vaccine requirements, to handling work-from-home, family, and medical leave requests, there are a lot of business issues to sort through and a great deal of exposure, which could leave them open to the threat of an employment-related lawsuit. As trusted advisers to these businesses, independent agents can help guide their clients through the maze of regulations and guidance, sharing thoughtful risk management practices and key coverages to evaluate.

Growing threat of litigation

More than 2,000 COVID-related employment lawsuits have been filed already, and the number is expected to grow as businesses respond to ever-evolving circumstances. Business leaders can prepare by educating themselves and seeking out resources and guidance to navigate health, safety, and economic issues. Whether it’s subsequent waves, a change of jurisdictional guidance and/or regulations, or the availability of a vaccine, forward -thinking leaders will be well prepared to understand the options and their impact and make informed, proactive decisions.

With the pandemic, employers should be especially mindful of the following types of employment practice claims:

  • Workplace safety: Allegations of failure to provide a safe working environment
  • Discrimination: Allegations of age and disability bias in employment termination
  • Wage and hour: Allegations of failure to pay non-exempt employees for remote work or time spent completing employer-mandated COVID-19-realted health and safety activities, such as daily screenings
  • Retaliation: Allegations of retribution for complaints about workplace safety or use of medical leave

Thoughtful risk management

With questions like ‘can employees be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?’, ‘how do we manage continued work-from-home requests?’, ‘what accommodations should be made for employees with disabilities?’, and ‘how do we address employees’ workplace safety concerns?’, it can be difficult for businesses to know where to start. Independent agents can play an important role in helping their clients think critically about their risks and take proactive steps. Similarly, top insurance carriers understand this, and have acted to provide employers with guidance and services that can help them minimize the risk of litigation.

For example, The Hanover has negotiated agreements with leading labor and employment practices firms to offer a range of services to Hanover policyholders that can help reduce the risk of employment practice lawsuits related to COVID-19. These value-added services are offered to policyholders no cost, or at a significant discount, such as:

Holistic insurance solution

  • COVID-19 return-to-work guide, including a robust testing and screening guide, sample policy language and detailed guidance on workplace safety, disability accommodations, and more
  • Family First Coronavirus Response Act compliance assistance, including sample policies, template forms, a flowchart for managing requests and attorney consultation
  • COVID-19 online training module for employees on personal hygiene practices and more
  • A COVID-19 customer information center with key information from the CDC, EEOPC, and state-specific resources

Beyond risk management, agents can help their clients by partnering with insurance carriers that offer employment practices liability insurance that can be tailored to the needs of each business.

As businesses wonder if they have adequate insurance protection, agents can help them understand their coverage and identify possible risk areas by considering these three important factors:

  1. Definitions: As agents know, not all definitions are created equal. Carefully assess definitions of wrongful acts to ensure a business’s unique risks are covered.
  2. Who to cover: Ensure coverage applies to the acts of all individuals who work at the organization. For example, does the business use contractors?
  3. Key coverage provisions: These should include punitive damages where insurable, and coverage for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or state equivalent proceedings.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, employers face increasing risks from employment-related lawsuits. Fortunately, agents can play an important role in guiding their business clients to risk management practices and coverages that help best protect their operations, their interests, and their employees.

Disruption in the Marketplace

This post utilized content from Property Casualty 360’s Heather Turner & PRNewswire.

On January 4th, 2021 PRNewswire announced Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY) acquisition of the Staffing Insurance Business offered by Worldwide Specialty Programs, Inc. The transaction closed on December 31, 2020 complimenting PHLY’s broad suite of specialty services. PHLY markets and underwrites commercial property/casualty & professional liability insurance products. PHLY has an “A++” (Superior) rating by AM Best Company.

We anticipated the post-acquisition news being focused on PHLY’s delivery of industry-specific services to the temporary staffing space. Similarly, we are committed to a different industry niche, the Professional Employer Organization (PEO). We remain hopeful that PHLY will continue to support PEO, just as World-Wide has done for many years.

Entering the 2nd Quarter of 2021, uncertainty has become part of our new normal. In a recent article, Property Casualty 360 discussed fluctuation within the marketplace (4th Quarter 2020 – 1st Quarter 2021). Pre-COVID validated the firming of the marketplace. The initial impact increased underwriting scrutiny, rate increases, higher retentions, jurisdictional scrutiny and capacity reduction. As a result of COVID-19 related case uncertainty, higher than normal judgements, and developing CAT losses, there has been a continual hardening of the market. We expect rate increases, lowering capacity, limiting or transferring risk, and insurers scrutinization of risk profiles.

In conclusion, industry and marketplace changes or shifts have always been and will continue to be.  As the industry constricts, options, terms and conditions tend to constrict with it.  Your upcoming casualty lines renewal may look different, and we highly recommend staying out in front of it.

With that being said, contact Libertate Insurance Services for all your PEO-related insurance needs by emailing us here.

How Can There Be a Gap in Coverage?

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…if coverage does not exist in the first place!

We have argued appropriately that coverage cannot exist based on a lack of insurable interest of the non co-employed employee. Not co-employment, not who was or was not payrolled, someone in the system knowingly committed fraud or else coverage would exist. This is not a “gap”, it is “black and white” in terms of coverage being purchased/provided or not.  The beauty of the workers’ compensation system is “The Great Tradeoff” – if you as the employer buy workers’ compensation (wc), you are protected from suit. Said simply, pay the wc insurance premiums and the employee base will be taken care of to the letter of the law.  In all States and DC (except TX, OK and NJ have opt out provisions), workers’ compensation is a mandatory purchase at certain employee counts (4 + typically).  There is no excuse to be ignorant of the need for workers’ compensation nor to pay the premiums necessary to ensure the proper medical and lost time payments due to an injured worker.  In all States, penalties and misdemeanors/ felonies follow with the lack of purchase of wc. 

In NO state is an industry group targeted as a proposed safety net to those that have failed to purchase insurance and committed fraud.  Instead, the fraudsters have a safety net to take the heat off them for not purchasing wc and doing the right thing in the first place. Since all states manage workers’ compensation differently with their own unique rules and rate sets, it falls upon each State to manage the occupational accident and illness exposure of its citizens.

Every state has some form of “subsequent” or “second injury” fund to make sure the cost of employers to hire prior workers’ comp claimants is offset and affordable.  This form of labor umbrella allows for employees to find gainful employment without putting their employers at increased financial risk based on prior events/claims.

Thirty-nine states/district out of 51 have what is generally known as an “Uninsured Employer Fund” (UEF).  In these states, it is all about making sure the injured worker(s) get treatment and benefits first, with the responsibility of the lack of insurance investigated at the same time with the appropriate parties.  The employer(s) whom were responsible for not buying insurance are held accountable, and most importantly, the claimant gets the benefits they deserve without delay and hopefully litigation.

The following 12 States do not have a UEF in order of population:

  • Texas (opt outs allowed)
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina
  • Indiana
  • Alabama
  • Louisiana
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Arkansas
  • Nebraska
  • Vermont

In these states, for the innocent claimants that have unscrupulous employers that do not wish to purchase workers’ compensation, there is little recourse outside of litigation.  

Not buying wc is fraud. Go after the perpetrators of the frauds and allow for a safety net for those that should matter the most – those the system is built to serve – the claimants.  An uninsured employer fund makes certain the Florida worker is covered, with the bill to be determined post-investigation.

It should be noted that either the Department of Labor or Department of Insurance of most UEF states are the governing authority and therefore something new would not need to be created.  A few states DCBS’ also handle.