W3 Awarded Best Agency to Work For

Best Agency in the SoutheastW3 is pleased to announce that we have been chosen as Insurance Journal’s 2015 Best Agency to WorkFor, Gold Winner – Southeast. The Insurance Journal is a national publication that is considered the most read national property and casualty publication for independent insurance agents and brokers. They break their readership into five areas of the country and award a gold, silver and bronze winner for each division, as well as an overall winner. Click Here for Insurance Journal’s full article featuring the agency.

W3 employees nominated the agency back in September by answering a short, informal survey. A customer-centric focus, strong value system and a family-matters philosophy helped propel W3 to the top of the list. Scott Gramling, W3’s CEO, stated, “Over the past 90 years, W3 has been a top shelf employer, because the leadership acknowledges that constant attention is necessary to attract and retain the highest caliber professionals.” “Our goal is to actually be the best place to work. We don’t do it for the awards, it’s really about the employees,” said COO Walt Grayson.

Voyages to Cuba Bring Uncertainty

Map of Cuba

Florida boaters should be cautious before making plans to navigate to Cuba.

On September 18, 2015, The U.S. Department of the Treasury released new rules surrounding U.S. travel to Cuba. The administration lifted the prohibition on boating to Cuba and Cuban waters. While the intrigue is enormous, Florida boaters should be cautious before making plans for such a Caribbean voyage. Although the U.S. government has liberalized the rules, there are many unique conditions that should be considered; political risk, crime, navigational limits available on current insurance policies, just to name a few.

The new regulations bring the marine insurance industry into uncharted territory. Insurance companies are not yet offering coverage extensions for destination Cuba. The reasons that the carriers may be slow to respond are as follows:

  • Conflicting laws and regulations between U.S. agencies
  • Lack of familiarity with Cuban laws which may govern in civil and criminal matters
  • Lack of knowledge and limited opportunities for subrogation
  • Additional expense of sending marine surveyors and claims adjustors
  • Unknown/adequate repair facilities
  • Access to repair parts
  • Towing charges if the vessel had to be repatriated for repair
  • Technical complications associated with endorsing in force policies
  • No underwriting data to base rates on

It is uncertain when insurance companies will offer this coverage to the recreational boater. In the meantime, boaters are reminded that property and liability coverage only applies to claims which occur within the navigational limits stated in the boater’s policy. Wallace Welch & Willingham will stay attuned to this situation and will continue to post updates.

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6 Reasons Why “Technology-Backed” Trumps “Technology-Based” Employee Benefits

What do you expect from your broker when offering employee benefits? 

Employee BenefitsAre you looking for a trusted advisor who offers the expert help and service needed for you to choose the best employee benefits for your company? Or are you looking for a way to streamline paperwork and ease the administrative burden on HR? Either way, an independent insurance agency, like Wallace Welch & Willingham, is always going to be your best bet.

An independent agency gives you the expert guidance that makes the benefits selection, implementation, and analysis a smooth process. We use technology to offer you a variety of tools and resources that make the benefits administration process virtually painless.

If you are considering moving your HR tasks to a platform like Zenefits or Gusto you must take a look at the bigger picture. These companies can give you HR software, with benefits thrown into the mix, but they are, first and foremost, technology-based and technology-focused. You will not receive the benefits support and personalized service that a local agent provides.

Check out what Wallace Welch & Willingham can offer compared to these new technology-based companies.

1.) Industry Focused

We are focused on your needs and have the expertise necessary to guide you through the plan-choosing process. We’re here to answer questions, provide guidance, and support your HR needs with our HR tools: MillsonJames and the Seay HR Hotline. We’re here to serve you, and we have the personalized service, backed by technology, to help you succeed.

Technology-based companies are focused on providing you with HR software. Once they lure you in with free basic HR technology, they encourage you to switch to them for your benefits—helping  you with benefits is a concern secondary to the software.

2.) Local Presence

Wallace Welch & Willingham is located near you, and we’re proud members of this community. We understand what’s happening in the benefits marketplace, both locally and nationally, and we understand your business. If you want to communicate on the phone or over email, we’ll respond promptly. We’ll be there to sit down face-to-face and guide you through the benefits selection and strategic planning process. When you need us, we’re here for you.

Technology-based companies are headquartered in other states, working in virtual clouds. Zenefits, for instance, is based out of California. Their representatives rarely, if ever, meet with clients and they lack a local presence and understanding. If you enroll in benefits through them, you forfeit the ability to have personalized, face-to-face meetings to help you achieve your goals.

3.) Knowledge & Experience

We help you choose the best benefits, guide you through the open enrollment process, run health claims diagnostics, and sit down with you to develop strategic plans for lowering costs due to health claims. We understand that benefits are more than just benefits—they are an important recruitment and retention tool and choosing the right ones will help you keep your employees happy. We also provide you with compliance information and employee communications, so you are never left to struggle on your own. W3 has been in the insurance industry for over 90 years. We have the knowledge behind our products to offer the best solutions to our clients.

Technology-based companies will automate what they can, but, unfortunately, expert insight and advice cannot be obtained from a computer. Their sales people have were hired (recently) with one objective; to sell their product. Their ability to compete with local insurance agencies based on product knowledge is extremely limited.

4.) Service & Year-Round Support 

We are here for you year-round, and you never have to wonder if you’ll be able to reach someone. While open enrollment is often the most challenging time of the year, we don’t abandon our clients the other 11 months of the year. When you work with us, you’ll personally know who you’re talking to.  We bring an understanding of your business and a solid history of past exchanges to each new conversation. We provide consistent, prompt communication and guidance, and we are ready to serve you.

Zenefits is massive, but its size can be a disadvantage for clients who want to know who they are speaking to. You also want to know that your broker has a contextual and institutional understanding behind each new question or concern.

5.) Pricing Transparency

We are upfront with you about costs. If we are ever going to charge you a fee for an added service, we’ll let you know in a clear and timely manner so you can make an informed decision. We promise never to say “free” if we don’t mean it.

Technology-based companies claim to be free.  That statement is true for their “core features, ” however, beyond those basics, clients run into extra costs. These costs often include a monthly fee per-employee for certain features and even a per-employee charge for delaying implementation of core features.

6.) Compliance and Content

We provide our clients with content to meet business and employees’ needs.  We give you access to W3 Client Connect, a content portal, where you can target the information you need if you want to self-serve. Need help with compliance? Want employee newsletters? Need articles explaining benefits or related topics? Thinking about starting a wellness program? Want to make benefits education fun with short videos for employees? Whatever you’re looking for, we can deliver customized content and training for you.

These new technology-based companies don’t have a content library, employee educational articles, videos or newsletters, or wellness staff and program materials.

Technology-backed or Technology-based? 

When you are faced with a choice between Wallace Welch & Willingham and a technology-based company, consider what makes us different. Are you looking for a trusted advisor who can offer assistance while being backed by technology to make the process easier? Or are you looking for a technology-based solution that kicks service and expertise to the curb?

If you’re looking for a benefits expert who is technology-backed to meet your needs, contact Wallace Welch & Willingham today.

 

NCCI Proposes 2.2% Rate Decrease in Workers’ Compensation

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has proposed an average Florida workers compensation rate decrease of 2.2 percent. This decrease includes a statewide average decrease of 1.9 percent, a reduction of the fixed cost expense applicable to every workers compensation policy from $200 to $160, and a change to the minimum premiums. The average overall decrease proposed is 2.2 percent and would take effect January 1, 2016. This is the second year in a row that rates have decreased.

Some key observations noted by NCCI include the following:

  • Loss experience shows overall improvement.
  • Indemnity and medical trends have declined, partially due to a decrease in frequency.
  • Loss adjustment expenses have decreased slightly but are still higher than the nationwide average.

The proposed rate level change for each industry is listed below.

Proposed 2016 Workers Compensation Rate Decrease By Industry

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation “will review the filing to ensure the proposed changes are not excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory and evaluate its potential effects on the insurance marketplace and employers, who are required by law to carry this insurance on their employees,” the office said in its statement. The public hearing will take place in October. If approved by the State Insurance Office, the new rates would become effective January 1, 2016.

There are many factors that go into your individual workers’ compensation rates. Contact your WWW Representative if you have questions about how these proposed rates will affect your specific business.

Wind Mitigation Credits and Your Home Insurance

Are You Taking Advantage of Wind Mitigation Credits?

Wind Mitigation Credits and Your Home InsuranceThe State of Florida requires insurance companies to offer discounts for protecting your home against damage caused by windstorms.  These discounts are known as Wind Mitigation Credits and are offered after a certified inspection is done to your home. Unlike some home inspections, like a four-point inspection, this one is not mandated by your insurance company or your lender and is completely optional. However, most wind mitigation inspections result in savings that at least cover the cost of the inspection in the first year, so why not? It is important to note that you will never be penalized for not having these safety features. Your insurance premiums can only go down, not up.

What Does a Wind Mitigation Inspection Include?

An inspector will come to your home and look for specific factors that would make your home more resilient to a windstorm. Specifically, they will be looking at your roof and home openings such as doors and windows. Florida wind mitigation inspectors examine these key safety features:

  • Roof Shape
  • Roof Bracing of Gable End
  • Roof Deck Attachment
  • Roof Covering
  • Roof-to-Wall Connections
  • Secondary Water Resistance
  • Doors
  • Protection of Openings (windows and other openings)

These features will be evaluated to determine how wind resilient your home is with it’s current features. All Florida homes built after 2002 were constructed to certain safety codes that will likely result in a savings to you. If your roof has not been replaced after 2002 but was built after 1974, we still recommend having a wind mitigation inspection. Based on how it was constructed, there are some features of the roof that you may still qualify for discounts.

There are a few cost-effective measures you can take to safeguard your home and reduce your hurricane-wind premium. A few examples would be securing your roof with hurricane clips or wraps and hurricane protecting your windows, doors and other openings to your home. To qualify for the opening protection credit, all window and openings must be protected by wind impact resistant glass. This also includes a hurricane resistant garage door.

Cost vs. The Savings

A wind mitigation report will cost, on average, $75.00. However, with minimal wind mitigation features in place, the inspection will pay for itself in the first year. Credits can go up to the maximum savings of 88% off the hurricane/wind premium.

Good to Note

This credit is good for five years. After that time, a new inspection will be required to make sure that you still qualify for these credits based on the new forms submitted by the Office of Insurance Regulation.

Please contact your WWW Personal Insurance Advisor to discuss Wind Mitigation Credits & find out if you could benefit from the inspection.


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Are you Covered for a Business Interruption?

Business Interruption Insurance - Be AwareRecent heavy rainfall reminds us that not all natural disasters are brought on by hurricanes. Due to heavy and constant rains, flooding has damaged much of Florida’s roadways. Last week, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for five counties. This included three bay area counties; Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco.

Damage like this creates an immediate need for all for all companies to take a closer look at their insurance coverage. Would you be sufficiently covered in case of a natural disaster? States like Florida and other coastal locations are particularly susceptible to devastating losses from flooding, tropical storms, hurricanes.

“75% of businesses suffering major property damage are out of business within three years because they did not have a contingency plan or the proper financing to see them through the period of recovery.”

What is Business Income Insurance?

When it comes to managing your property risk, business owners should be concerned not only with a loss to their tangible property but also to their income. Natural disasters, fires, and other insured perils often result in an interruption of the operations of a business, which typically lead to a loss of income.  Business income insurance is designed to cover your economic damages when you experience a covered loss that results in a suspension of your business. A suspension of your business can mean either a slow down or a cessation of your business activities. Loss of income is defined in most policies as your net profit as well as continuing expenses, including payroll.  Extra expenses that you incur to recover from a disaster can also be covered.  You might think of it as disability insurance for your business!

What is Included in a Business Interruption Insurance Policy?

  • Compensation for lost income if you are no longer able to operate your business due to a disaster-related damage that is covered by your current property insurance policy.
  • Profits that would have been earned had the disaster not occurred. These numbers are based on previous financial records.
  • Operating expenses that must be paid even if the business is temporarily closed. Examples are utilities, rent, etc.
  • Expenses from a temporary location for you to operate out of while repairs are being made to your permanent location.

Business interruption insurance is one of the most valuable policies a business can have, yet it is often overlooked. Contact us today to learn more about this valuable policy.


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National Flood Insurance Program vs. Private Flood Markets

INational Flood Insurance Program vs. Private Flood Marketsf you are like many other Floridians, the cost of flood insurance is always on your mind. Coastal areas of Florida already face high flood insurance premiums, but with more increases on the horizon, it helps to have a trusted advisor there to answer questions.

We encourage our flood policyholders to renew without a lapse in coverage. Once a policyholder leaves the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), there is a 30-day wait to return. In addition, if you considered leaving the NFIP to be rewritten with an insurance company that is not a recognized NFIP insurance company, your status with the NFIP is broken. For instance, if you went to a UK market for flood insurance this year and later  wanted to return to the NFIP program, your flood insurance premium would be based on current actuarial rates and any revised flood maps would be used. This could result in a drastic premium change for the policyholder. Not all Private Flood Insurance markets are equal. It is important to review the policy forms since private flood insurance policies are not guaranteed to renew like the NFIP. Finally, the lender does not always accept private flood insurance.

Speak to one of our Personal Insurance Advisors to learn more about what is right for you and your home. Call us today at 727-522-7777.