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Hurricane Joaquin Tips for your Business


        Loss of power or phones will not affect our ability to meet your insurance needs.

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Hurricane Joaquin is forecast to track up the East Coast over the next few days. There is still much uncertainty of the storms path at this point. However, we wanted to reach out to our friends and clients to provide some tips to help you prepare your business against the storm.

     • Backup all data on servers and personal computers.

     • Turn off all non-critical devices such as server monitors and workstations
     and other non-essential electrical equipment prior to the storm’s arrival.

     • Check/maintain all necessary backup equipment, such as emergency generators
     and communication devices.

     • Relocate vital records, equipment, tools, stored materials, and other business
     property from low lying areas, especially basements or flood prone low lying areas.

     • Raise property in areas that could flood off the ground level at least 4’ if it
     cannot be moved to a different location or floor.

     • Take the following steps so that items outdoors will not blow away or cause
     damage:

          ◦ Remove all loose debris

          ◦Anchor or relocate all nonessential equipment to a safe indoor location

          ◦Secure storage of flammable liquid drums, or move them to a sheltered area
          (but never into main facility areas)

          ◦Anchor all portable buildings (e.g., trailers) to the ground

          ◦Secure large cranes and other heavy equipment

          ◦Make sure outdoor signs are properly braced

          ◦Ensure that the employees who volunteer to stay on site have proper supplies
          and equipment (drinkable water, nonperishable food, medical,
          flashlights, extra gasoline, walkie-talkies).

     • Fill fuel tanks of generators, fire pumps, and all company-owned vehicles.

     • Move all vehicles and movable equipment to a safe, high lying area.

     • Clean out drains and catch basins.

Your safety and well-being are our main concern and we are here to assist you in any way possible.

If you require access to your policies, claims, or certificates, please log in to your Scirocco 24/7 account. There will be someone accesible by telephone throughout the storm, and after, to provide answers for your questions, receive claims, and adopt policy changes on your behalf. They are prepared to stay on the line with you until you are satised with your service. Log In Here

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If you prefer to contact us by phone, please visit our contact page for important phone numbers to utilize during the storm.

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Hurricane Joaquin Tips for at Home


        Loss of power or phones will not affect our ability to meet your insurance needs.

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Hurricane Joaquin is forecast to track up the East Coast over the next few days. There is still much uncertainty of the storms path at this point. However, we wanted to reach out to our friends and clients to provide some tips to help you prepare your home and family against the storm.

Before the Storm Hits:

     • Cover windows and doors and secure outdoor furniture.

     • Make sure you have three gallons of water per family member.

     • Refill your prescriptions, fill up your car with gas and withdraw a week’s
     worth of cash since power outages may interrupt these services temporarily.

     • Place important, valuable papers such as your log of possessions in
     waterproof bags.

     • If you live in a trailer home and are told to evacuate, do so immediately.


During the Storm:

     • You should have canned food for at least three days and a can opener.

     • Listen to your battery-operated radio for instructions from the local authorities on
     evacuation and safety guidelines.

     • Seek shelter in an interior room away from windows, such as a closet. If you hear
     the winds subside, do not assume that the storm is over. The calm
     may be the eye of the storm, in which case the worst is yet to come.

     • If the electricity goes out, use a flashlight to see; do not use candles.

After the Storm:


     • Make sure you have pet food and supplies for three days.

     • When inspecting your home for damage, wear sturdy shoes and clothing
     as protection.

     • Contact a trained expert to turn off damaged utilities and appliances instead
     of trying to do it yourself.

     • Drink only bottled water until tap water is deemed safe.

Your safety and well-being are our main concern and we are here to assist you in any way possible.

If you require access to your policies, claims, or certificates, please log in to your Scirocco 24/7 account. There will be someone accesible by telephone throughout the storm, and after, to provide answers for your questions, receive claims, and adopt policy changes on your behalf. They are prepared to stay on the line with you until you are satised with your service. Log In Here

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If you prefer to contact us by phone, please visit our contact page for important phone numbers to utilize during the storm.

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Scirocco Group Included In IIABA’s Best Practices Study

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Scirocco Group Included In IIABA’s

Best Practices Study

 

Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, 09/23/2015 – Scirocco Group continues for the 8th year in a row to be part of an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) “Best Practices” Study Group.

The agencies comprising the study group are selected every third year through a comprehensive nomination and qualifying process and awarded a “Best Practices Agency” designation. The selected “Best Practices” agencies retain their status during the three-year cycle by submitting extensive financial and operational data for review each year. Only 196 independent agencies throughout the U.S. retained their status for 2015.

The Best Practices Study was initiated by IIABA in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual study of leading independent insurance agencies, which is conducted for IIABA by Reagan Consulting of Atlanta, Ga., documents the business practices of these “best” agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.

To assist agencies in adopting Best Practices, IIABA has developed a family of products, service and workshops known as the Best Practices Implementation Series. The series includes materials such as the Agency Self-Diagnostic Tool, Agency/Company Joint Planning Tool Quick Step, and Top Producers: Discover, Train, Reward. Additional studies and tools are added periodically. The publications include guidelines, worksheets, and case studies to help agents apply the information contained in each report.

In addition to the written materials, hundreds of workshops and seminars have been conducted at various producer association functions, company sponsored agency meetings and national automation users group conventions.

The IIABA and Reagan Consulting jointly maintain the Best Practices Gateway website (http://bp.reaganconsulting.com) that provides executive summaries of the annual Best Practices Studies, the Best Practices Quick Check interactive comparison tool and samples from the various Best Practices tools. The Gateway, as well as the annual study, is made possible in part through the financial sponsorship of various insurance companies and industry organizations.

The 2015 Best Practices Study sponsors include: Agency Business Solutions and Amerisure Insurance, Applied Systems, Beyond Insurance, Central Insurance Companies, Chubb, CNA, EMC Insurance Companies, ENCOMPASS Insurance, Erie Insurance, The Hanover Insurance Group, Nationwide, Imperial PFS, InsurBanc, Kemper Preferred, Liberty Mutual, The Main Street America Group, MetLife Auto & Home, Travelers, Vertafore and Westfield Insurance.

For more information on the Best Practices Study, contact Jennifer Becker at IIABA, 1-800-221-7917.

Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance – property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement precuts. Web address: www.independentagent.com.

 

IRS Releases Figures for Determining Individual Mandate Penalty Cap in 2015

 

Quick Facts
  • IRS Rev. Proc. 2015-15 provides the 2015 monthly national average bronze plan premium.
  • This amount serves as the cap for any penalty owed under the ACA’s individual mandate.

In 2015, the individual mandate penalty is capped at:

  • $2,484 per year for each individual; and
  • $12,420 per year for a family with five or more members.

 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires most individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members or pay a penalty. This rule, which took effect in 2014, is often referred to as the individual mandate. The penalty amount that an individual must pay is capped at the annual national average bronze plan premium.

On Jan. 16, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2015-15 (Rev. Proc. 2015-15), which provides the 2015 monthly national average premium for bronze-level plans. For 2015, the monthly national average premium for bronze-level qualified health plans (QHPs) is:

  • $207 per individual ($2,484 annually); and
  • $1,035 for a family with five or more members ($12,420 annually).

Rev. Proc. 2015-15 is effective for taxable years ending after Dec. 31, 2014.

Background

Beginning in 2014, individuals who do not obtain minimum essential coverage for one or more months will be liable for a penalty under the individual mandate (unless an exception applies). The penalty amount is calculated and paid when the individual files his or her federal income tax return for the year.

The penalty amount is the greater of two amounts: a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the individual’s income. However, the penalty amount that an individual must pay is capped at the national average bronze plan premium for the individual’s family size. Thus, for each taxable year, the penalty amount is the lesser of:

  • The sum of the monthly penalty amounts; or
  • The sum of the monthly national average bronze plan premiums for the shared responsibility family.

This cap is based on the annual national average premium for QHPs that:

  • Have a bronze level of coverage;
  • Would provide coverage for the individual’s family members who are liable for a penalty under the individual mandate; and
  • Are offered through the Exchange for that plan year.

Individual Mandate Cap in 2014

For 2014, the monthly national average premium for bronze-level QHPs was:

  • $204 per individual ($2,448 annually); and
  • $1,020 for a family with five or more members ($12,240 annually).

Methodology Used to Determine the National Average Premium Amount

Under the ACA, non-grandfathered health insurance coverage, including QHPs offered through Exchanges, can only consider the following four factors when setting individual premium rates:

  1. The rating area;
  2. Age;
  3. Tobacco use; and
  4. Family size.

Revenue Procedure 2014-46 describes the methodology used to determine the monthly national average bronze premium plan. Based on the ACA’s rating factors, the monthly national average bronze plan premium for an individual who does not obtain minimum essential coverage is determined by using a population-weighted average of the premium in each county (or county equivalent) that would be charged to a 21-year-old individual who does not use tobacco.

In determining a taxpayer’s monthly national average bronze plan premium for a family, the age-21, non-tobacco user premium described above is multiplied by the number of family members who are liable for a penalty, up to a maximum of five.

Based on these factors, the 2015 monthly national average premium for bronze-level QHPs is $207 per individual and $1,035 for a family with five or more members. This means that, annually, the individual mandate penalty amount is capped at $2,484 per year for each individual, and $12,420 per year for a family with five or more members.

Congratulations Dan Castrillon Jr.



On behalf of all the Scirocco Group offices, we would like to congratulate Dan Castrillon, who, on Tuesday January 27th 2015, was installed as the 2015 Chair of The Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce! Wishing you a successful and prosperous year!

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Congress Creates National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers



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How Will the NARAB Work?

NARAB membership will be optional and insurance producers—agents, brokers and agencies—that wish to become NARAB members will have to first obtain resident licenses from their home states. Once licensed in their home state, insurance producers will be able to apply for NARAB membership and nonresident insurance licenses through the NARAB. The NARAB model differs from the traditional way of obtaining nonresident insurance licenses, which requires insurance producers to meet the various requirements of individual states.

NARAB Membership

To qualify for NARAB membership, insurance producers will be required to meet the membership criteria that will be established by the 13-member NARAB Board (Board). The Board will be formed in early 2015 and consist of state insurance commissioners and other insurance experts appointed by the president. All NARAB membership criteria must meet or exceed the highest professional requirements that currently exist in the states. The NARAB’s membership criteria will include requirements for personal qualifications, education, training and experience. Accordingly, on a practical level, producers will have to satisfy the highest licensing requirements currently required by individual states.

Individuals seeking to become NARAB members will be required to undergo a national criminal background check if their resident state does not already require one to become an insurance producer. NARAB members will still be responsible for paying state producer licensing fees as well as NARAB assessments to cover the organization’s administrative expenses.

Impact on State Insurance Regulations

Although the NARAB will have a significant role in the licensing of nonresident insurance producers, it will not replace or displace existing state insurance regulations. The law explicitly declares that state regulators will retain their regulatory authority over insurance producers.

On Jan. 13, 2015, Congress enacted legislation that creates the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB), a national insurance licensing clearinghouse for insurance professionals who want to register in and sell insurance outside of their home states. The NARAB is intended to streamline the licensing process for insurance producers that want to operate in multiple states. The NARAB plans to accomplish this goal by allowing producers to obtain nonresident state licenses in a single step under a single set of NARAB requirements. The NARAB will be set up and implemented over the course of 2015 and has been championed by many in the insurance industry.

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Health Insurance Exchanges


          Federal Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings
          on Subsidies in Federal Exchanges


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Effective for 2014, the ACA requires each state to have an Exchange for individuals and small businesses to purchase private health insurance. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Exchanges allow for direct comparisons of private health insurance options on the basis of price, quality and other factors, and they coordinate eligibility for subsidies and other insurance affordability programs.

The ACA delegated primary responsibility for establishing the Exchanges to individual states. However, because the U.S. Congress cannot require states to implement federal laws, the ACA provides that HHS will operate the FFE in any state that refuses or is unable to set up an Exchange.

For 2014, only 16 states and the District of Columbia established their own Exchanges. HHS operates the FFEs in the remaining 34 states (in some cases with state assistance, but in most cases not).

Of the approximately 8 million people who selected private health plans from October through mid-April, over 5 million obtained coverage through an FFE. In addition, more than 4.5 million people have been determined eligible for subsidized insurance in the FFE.

Several lawsuits have been filed by individuals and employers to challenge the ability of the federal government to provide tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to individuals in states that did not establish their own Exchanges (that is, in states with federally-facilitated exchanges, or FFEs). These lawsuits were filed in response to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rule that authorizes subsidies in all states, including those with FFEs.

On July 22, 2014, two federal appeals courts—the District of Columbia Circuit Court and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court—issued inconsistent rulings on the availability of subsidies in states with FFEs.

In Halbig v. Burwell, the D.C. Circuit Court held that the IRS rule authorizing subsidies in states with FFEs is invalid. In a 2-1 opinion, the court ruled that the text of the ACA clearly restricts the subsidies to individuals in states that established their own Exchanges.

In King v. Burwell, the 4th Circuit Court unanimously upheld the availability of the ACA’s subsidies in states with their own Exchanges and in states with FFEs.


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