January 15th: Friday Roundup

The weekend is calling as another work week concludes.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for the country held steady at 6.7% in December.  The number of unemployed persons held stead at 10.7 million.  While these figures are considerably lower than the spike we saw in April, they are still double the pre-pandemic levels we enjoyed last February.    Attached is the Bureau’s new release on The Employment Situation – December 2020, which contains detailed statistics on our current state. 

December bore witness to a continued decline in jobs in leisure, hospitality, and private education sectors.  These losses were offset by some gains in professional and business services, retail trade and construction; sectors which are attempting to rebound. 

Continued high unemployment figures will impact the unemployment tax rates.  This is something we will continue to keep an eye on.  Hopefully, you caught our post earlier this week regarding the anticipated increases in unemployment tax rates in Florida.  

Unemployment Tax Rates in Florida are Increasing

Unemployment often leads to criminal activities.  As COVID-19 diagnosis continue to climb nationwide, so do predatory scams related to the pandemic.  Spreading awareness of these scams is one of the best ways we can help to limit the number of individuals who fall victim.  We hope you saw our post earlier this week sharing recommendations from Regions Bank Treasury Management and the FBI on how to avoid falling prey to these scams.

Regions Bank Treasury Management sends out information on Emerging COVID-19 Scams

Stay safe and have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Unemployment Tax Rates in Florida are Increasing

The Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) has recently published the attached forecast summary on Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund for 2021 and beyond. Suzanne Hurst, Deputy Director of Florida Association of Professional Employer Organizations (FAPEO) offers the following review of these figures.

The Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) is a research arm of the Legislature principally concerned with forecasting economic and social trends that affect policy making, revenues, and appropriations.

The figures below come from the attached summary provided by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR). This document provides historic context, current figures and forecasted figures for benefit charges, collections and rates for Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.  This important information is provided to you for your cash flow planning. 

Unemployment Tax Rates – Minimum Tax Rate

2020 – .10%

2021 – .29%

2022 – 1.15%  (forecasted)

2023 – 1.11% (forecasted)

2024 – .56% (forecasted)

2025 – .10% (forecasted)

Your Florida PEO Lobbyist, David Daniel, is presenting a detailed briefing at a meeting Friday of state-wide business interests about possible solutions to impact of social costs from benefit payments related to the pandemic.  Your FAPEO board has created multiple proposals that could lower rates as early as this year.  We will continue to advocate for common sense solutions that protect Florida’s small employers as everyone struggles during these economic times. 

We will keep you up to date on all developments as these proposals move through the lawmaking process. 

Q4 2020 Cyber Risks & Liabilities Update

Some important trends that are threatening our businesses and ways to protect yourself.

How to Avoid Electronic Signing Service Scams

Although utilizing an electronic signing service can be a convenient way for your organization to digitally sign and exchange important documents (e.g., contracts, tax documents and legal materials) with stakeholders, doing so also carries significant cybersecurity risks.

Cybercriminals can utilize a variety of scamming techniques to trick electronic signing service users into sharing sensitive information, such as their signature, financial information and other personal data. From there, the criminals can use that information for a range of destructive purposes—including identity theft and other costly forms of fraud. These scams have become an increasingly prevalent threat in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as many organizations have transitioned to fully remote operations.

In fact, DocuSign—a popular electronic signing service provider—recently released a statement regarding several new phishing scams that cybercriminals have implemented to fool victims into thinking they are using DocuSign’s services. These scams entail the victim receiving a fraudulent email that appears to be from DocuSign, urging them to either click on a malicious link (which then downloads malware on the individual’s device) or provide their personal information (which scammers then access to commit fraud).

Whether your organization uses DocuSign or a different electronic signing service, it’s important to educate yourself and your stakeholders—including employees, investors, customers and suppliers—on how to detect and avoid falling victim to these phishing scams. That being said, consider the following cybersecurity tips:

  • Be wary of responding to emails that claim to be an electronic signature request—especially if you weren’t expecting a request or don’t recognize the name of the individual or organization sending the request. Trusted senders would let you know they are sending a signature request before doing so.
  • Never click on links from electronic signature emails that appear suspicious—especially if the URLs for those links redirect to websites that aren’t secure or recognizable.
  • Review electronic signature emails for generic wording, grammatical errors and misspellings (both in the body of the email and within the sender’s email address). These mistakes are often key indicators of a phishing scam.

Cybersecurity Trends to Prepare for in 2021

This past year saw a wide range of changes and advancements in workplace technology utilization for organizations of varying sectors and sizes. But as digital offerings continue to evolve, so do cybersecurity threats. That’s why it’s crucial to remain up-to-date on the latest technology trends and adjust your cyber risk management strategies accordingly. As your organization starts to prepare for 2021, keep the following emerging cybersecurity concerns in mind:

  • Remote work issues—While remote working is a valuable method for protecting staff from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this practice can also lead to increased cybersecurity vulnerabilities for your organization. After all, many employees may not have the same security capabilities in their work-from-home arrangements as they do in the workplace. As such, make sure your organization provides remote staff with appropriate cybersecurity training and resources, as well as implements effective workplace policies and procedures regarding cybersecurity.   
  • Cloud hijacking concerns—Especially with more employees working from home than ever before, maintaining cloud security is crucial. Cloud breaches have become more common in the past year, as cybercriminals have developed a method for hijacking cloud infrastructures via credential-stealing malware. To avoid this concern, utilize trusted anti-malware software and update this software regularly.   
  • Elevated ransomware threats—Cybercriminals continue to create new and improved ransomware attack methods each year. According to recent research from Cybersecurity Ventures, ransomware attacks are expected to cost organizations more than $20 billion in 2021, with an attack estimated to take place every 11 seconds. To help protect your organization from ransomware attacks, use a virtual private network, place security filters on your email server and educate staff on ransomware prevention.
  • Data privacy expectations—As more and more organizations start storing sensitive information on digital platforms, data privacy is a growing concern. If your organization stores sensitive information digitally, it’s vital to utilize proper security techniques to protect such data (e.g., encryption) and abide by all relevant data privacy regulations.
  • Skills shortages—Despite ongoing advancements in workplace technology, cybersecurity skills shortages have become a major issue for many organizations—with the demand for cybersecurity professionals exceeding the number of individuals that are qualified for such a role. This shortage emphasizes the importance of investing in effective cybersecurity tools across all workplace devices to help minimize your risks. 

With these trends in mind, it’s important now more than ever for your organization to secure adequate cyber insurance. Otherwise, you run the risk of your organization lacking the appropriate coverage and dealing with hefty out-of-pocket costs in the event of a cyber incident.

Smart Device Security Best Practices

As remote work continues to be a popular offering for many organizations, some employees have begun taking advantage of their own smart devices—such as smartphones or tablets—for work-related purposes.

While this practice can certainly help employees expand their remote work capabilities, utilizing smart devices within a work setting can lead to elevated cybersecurity risks. This is because your employees’ smart devices may not be initially equipped with the security measures necessary to defend against cybercriminals, thus increasing the likelihood of a cyberattack taking place.

Don’t let employees’ smart devices lead to a cybersecurity disaster within your organization. Utilize the following guidance to promote smart device security:

  • Establish a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that includes standards employees must uphold when using their smart devices for work-related purposes.
  • Have employees create complex passwords for their smart devices. Encourage staff to enable multifactor authentication on their devices, if possible.
  • Restrict employees from connecting to public Wi-Fi networks on their smart devices. Be sure to establish a virtual private network for staff to use to ensure a safe, secure connection.

Have employees conduct routine software updates on their smart devices to prevent potential security gaps.

For additional cybersecurity guidance and coverage, contact Libertate Insurance today, we are offering Cybersecurity Programs.

Friday Round-up

Happy Friday everyone, and Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate the Festival of Lights!

Two of the MGU (Managing General Underwriter) partners we work with have announced new carrier partnerships for 2021. Be sure to check out our post on this news via the below link.

MGU Updates: New Carrier Partners for 2021

Also, as we head into the Open Enrollment season for most employer sponsored benefits programs, be sure to check out our post on 2021 Employee Benefit Trends.

Stay safe and healthy this weekend!

MGU Updates: New Carrier Partners for 2021

Two of the MGU (Managing General Underwriter) partners we work with have announced new carrier partnerships for 2021. Read the exciting news below.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance MGU Method Adds Falls Lake as New Carrier

Method, a Managing General Underwriter wholly focused on Workers’ Compensation Insurance, has announced the addition of the Falls Lake National Insurance Company to its roster of carrier options.

Falls Lake is rated A XI (Excellent) by AM Best and covers 23 states mostly concentrated in the eastern half of the United States.

“We’re excited to partner with the great team at Falls Lake to dramatically expand options for our customers east of the Mississippi.” said Greg Donsbach, President of Method.

Falls Lake shares a similar, broad risk appetite to Method’s existing carriers, Incline Casualty and Service American Indemnity Company.

“Falls Lake is pleased to partner with Method for this new product which combines Method’s industry-leading claims management protocols with Falls Lakes’ risk-driven underwriting philosophies.” said Paul Kearns, Senior Vice President of Underwriting at Falls Lake.

FUBA Adds Second A- Rated Carrier

FUBA Workers’ Comp now has underwriting authority with two insurance carriers that are rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best. Effective 1/1/21, Service Lloyds Insurance Company will become part of the FUBA family. Service Lloyds is a workers’ compensation specialist with almost four decades in the market. 

New business with effective dates through 12/31/20 will continue to be placed with Lancer Indemnity Company and will stay with Lancer for the first policy term. 

New business with effective dates of 1/1/21 and after will be placed with Service Lloyds. 

As your clients’ policies come up for renewal, we will transfer them from Lancer Indemnity Company to Service Lloyds. No action is needed on your part; the transfer will be automatic and seamless. The Service Lloyds policies will replace the policies from Lancer, and your clients will keep the same policy number.  

FUBA is pleased to be able to continue to offer stable and rated coverage to your small business clients.