Archive for December, 2015

Protect your property from ice dams this winter

December 31, 2015 Leave a comment

ice_dam_2015According to the Insurance Information Institute, claims for winter storm damage in the U.S. totaled $2.3 billion in the first quarter of 2015. Property owners can avoid business interruption, limit financial losses, and other adverse effects of winter weather by planning in advance. One of the most damaging winter threats that people often forget to take precautions for is ice dams.

An ice dam is a buildup of ice at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining. Failure to properly remove snow from your roof may cause an ice dam to develop that is large enough to prevent water from draining off the roof. This pooling water can then back up underneath roof shingles and seep inside the property.

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IRS extends 1094-C, 1095-C filing deadlines

calendarAs employers anxiously prepared for the upcoming deadlines for the 1094-C and 1095-C filings, the IRS dropped another holiday week surprise. They extended the due dates for the filing of these 2015 forms (Notice 2016-4). This extension of time was also granted to health insurers who will be providing coverage information to individuals who are covered by fully insured plans.

Applicable large employers will have almost two additional months to issue Forms 1095-C to individuals. 1095-Cs must now be distributed by March 31, 2016 (the original due date was February 1). The deadline for filing the forms with the IRS, including the 1094-C, has been extended by three months. The new IRS deadline is now May 31, 2016 (via mail) and June 30, 2016 (electronically).  Read more…

SEC sets it’s focus on private equity

December 23, 2015 Leave a comment

cost_comparisonThe SEC took enforcement action via an order dated November 23, 2015 that JH Partners, LLC failed to disclose potential conflicts stemming from insider loans and a cross-fund investment, in addition to permitting violations of fund concentration limits. According to the order, JHP violated two sections of the Advisers Act of 1940: Section 206(2) prohibiting an investment adviser from participating “in any transaction, practice, or course of business which operates as a fraud or deceit upon any client or prospective client,” and Section 206(4) prohibiting any “fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative act, practice, or course of business by an investment adviser to an investor or prospective investor in a pooled investment vehicle.”

The SEC has amped up their regulatory focus on private equity as of late, and consistently emphasized the requirement of disclosing any and all conflicts of interest. The action taken against JHP stresses the significance of providing disclosure to limited partner advisory committees and advance LPAC approval of investments that may result in potential conflicts, different priorities in a portfolio company’s capital structure, and different valuations for respective investments and cross-fund investments. Read more…

Wyndham settlement validates FTC authority in cyber security

laptop_binaryThe very well-known Wyndham Hotel and Resorts data breach is once again in the news. This time the company has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In 2014, the payment card information (PCI) data of thousands of customers was hacked in three separate instances due to poor cyber security. With this settlement, Wyndham has agreed to develop a sophisticated data security program that will protect PCI and other payment methods while also conducting annual audits to ensure the safety of customer information.

According to the FTC’s press release, the hotel chain must institute secure networks so hackers cannot gain access again. In addition, Wyndham is required to perform formal risk assessment procedures with a certified auditor. These two measures have been put in place to minimize the possibility of any future hacks.  Read more…

Wind farms act as an entry point for grid hackers

December 8, 2015 Leave a comment

clean-energy-hackCyber-attacks are often thought of with the association of some large breach such as Target or Anthem. However, hackers are not just targeting credit card information and social security numbers; some are persistently targeting our nation’s infrastructure.

What many people may not know is that grid power control systems are interconnected, via the web. While the grid has various cyber protection mechanisms in place, any vulnerability within a single wind farm’s cybersecurity can serve as a gateway for hackers to systems that control larger portions of the grid. For example, high voltage power lines transfer enormous amounts of power over large distances, making them a prime target for hackers to infiltrate. Read more…

Federal penalties for workplace safety violations set to increase

December 3, 2015 Leave a comment

statehouseThe new bipartisan budget was passed by both the House and the Senate, and signed into law by President Obama on November 2. Provisions within the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 will increase federal penalties for workplace safety violations that are handed down from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These penalties have not increased since 1990. The percentage change in Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the past 25 years will be taken into account, and penalties will continue to rise with inflation in the future. The increase from current penalty amounts will range from 70-80%. Despite this increase, OSHA fines will still remain small versus those of other regulatory agencies. Read more…

Insurance industry looks to address opioid epidemic

opioidsThe opioid crisis is very present in the mainstream news these days. One can read the tragic stories of heroin addiction and the easy access to opiates, and the ensuing statistics are staggering. This is a truly an epidemic of our times.

Opioids have been the topic of conversation within the insurance industry for a long while now as well. Those within the medical claims industry have been aware of the severity of the opioid overdoses for some time, but there have been some recent events that have heightened the focus on this issue. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s preliminary statistics indicate that the number of deaths in the state directly linked to opioid overdose for 2015  is over 750, and is therefore  high enough for officials to regard the issue as a public health crisis. The state estimates that the number of deaths so far in 2015 appear to be higher than last year during the same time period. Read more…