Articles

Worksite Wellness

With Fitbits, Apple Watches and other tracking devices becoming mainstream, Worksite Wellness is now more popular than ever. It’s easy to participate and fun to get competitive with others in your workplace. All customers of Pinnacol Assurance for workers compensation can now have a FREE Worksite Wellness Program at their company.Pinnacol’s Worksite Wellness Program underwent a study and key findings were:

  • 97 percent of participating policyholders reported that worksite wellness programs improve worker safety.
  • Worksite wellness programs can improve the health of participants and increase productivity in as little as one year.
  • A link between health risk factors and the frequency and cost of workplace injuries.
  • For every $1 invested in our worksite wellness program, there is a medical and productivity savings of $2.03.

Here at Martin Insurance Group, we have put Pinnacol’s Worksite Wellness Program to the test! We are all actively participating in the program recently we were 1 of 12 Colorado employers in our company size to earn a Wellness Award with cash prizes! Not only did our office win $500, but each employee earned $100 for their efforts. At Martin Insurance Group we are:

  • drinking more water
  • walking more
  • exercising more
  • cutting back on caffeine, sugar and calories
  • stretching @ 2pm daily (in the office!)
  • and so much more!

If you are using Pinnacol for your worker’s comp, you can do this too! The best part is it doesn’t cost you a penny.Click Here to e-mail us and get more informationClick Here to learn more

Amendment 69: What it does to your taxes

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Amendment 69 will raise $25 billion in new tax revenue-nearly doubling the size of the current state budget - to support a government-run health care system. There are many important questions that Amendment 69 leaves unanswered, but here's how the taxes will work...as best as we can tell.Payroll Taxes: Employers will pay 6.67 percent on all payroll. Employees will pay 3.33 percent on all payroll income. This totals a new 10 percent tax on all wages and earnings.

Example 1: Jack earns $1,000 a week. Jack's employer must pay $66.70, and Jack must pay $33.30 each week in ColoradoCare taxes. If the employer so chooses, it may elect to pay Jack's share of the taxes.

Non-Payroll Taxes: In addition to the payroll taxes just described, a 10 percent ColoradoCare tax will be assessed on all non-payroll income. This includes:

  • Interest income collected on savings: savings in savings accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposits (CDs).
  • Dividend income from stock: dividend income generated from stock ownership in either public or private companies.

Example 2: Jack receives interest income of $100 on his savings account and some dividend income of $200 on stock he inherited from his grandfather. Tim will have to pay ColoradoCare tax of $30 ($10 on the interest income and $20 on the dividend income) on his earnings.

  • All capital gains income: not only capital gains from the sale of stock, but also capital gains on the sale of equipment or assets, which would most likely accrue to small businesses.

Example 3: Jack has a gain of $18,000 on stock he purchased 10 years ago and sold this year. He must pay Colorado Care tax of $1,800 on the sales of the stock.

Example 4: Jill is an individual proprietor with a small print shop. She sells some antiquated equipment at auction for a $12,000 gain. Jill must pay $1,200 in ColoradoCare tax on the gain.

  • State income tax refunds: if required to report this income, it would be subject to the new 10 percent tax.

Example 5: Jack and Jill purchased their first home last year and, as a consequence, were able to itemize their deductions. Doing so generated a state income tax refund of $900 they have to include in income this year. They must also pay ColoradoCare tax of $90 on that refund income.

  • Some retirement income: while some portion of retirement income from social security, pensions, annuities and IRA income is exempt, any income taxable in the state of Colorado will be subject to the new 10 percent tax. Coloradans with retirement income in excess of $24,000 could be taxed on the incremental revenue above that amount.

Example 6: Paul finally retired this year at age 68 and received a $96,000 lump-sum distribution from his retirement fund. Paul will have to pay ColoradoCare tax of 10%, or $7,200, on $72,000 of the distribution ($96,000 - $24,000 = $72,000 times 10% is $7,200).

  • Business income to entrepreneurs and family owned-businesses: This new tax will disproportionately hurt businesses who have structured their businesses for tax purposes as "pass through" entities. This includes sole proprietors, partnerships, S corporations, LLCs, LLPs, many trusts, and income from farms and rental property. In fact, anyone receiving income on a schedule K-1, rental income, or income from a farm will have to pay the full 10 percent tax on all their business profits, whether or not those profits are ever withdrawn from the business and realized to the individual. In contrast, businesses that pay corporate taxes will not be subject to this 10 percent tax on their business profits. This tax is in addition to the payroll tax that all businesses - regardless of tax structure - will pay to employees that work for them. Since most entrepreneurs, small and family businesses use pass-through entities, for structuring their business activities, the ColoradoCare tax will disproportionately fall on them. For example, in 2015, Colorado had 52,032 corporate filers and 235,733 pass-through filers (partnerships, LLCs, and S corporations).

Example 7: Jack and Jill are starting a new business and incorporate as a regular "C" corporation. Including themselves, the Corporation has ten employees with total salaries of $480,000 and makes a profit in the first year of $80,000. They re-invest the profit in additional equipment.

The corporation's total ColoradCare tax on salaries will be 10% of the $480,000 or $48,000 (6.67%, or $32,016 will have to be paid by the Corporation and 3.33%, or $15,984 will be withheld from the employee's wages). There is no ColoradoCare tax on the profits earned by the Corporation.

Example 8: Jack and Jill are starting a new business and decide to establish a partnership rather than a corporation. Including themselves, the Partnership has ten employees with total salaries of $480,000 and makes a profit in the first year of $80,000. They re-invest the profit in additional equipment.

The Partnership's total ColoradoCare tax on salaries will be 10% of the $480,000 or $48,000 (6.67%, or $32,016, will have to be paid by the Partnership and 3.33%, or $15,984, will be withheld from the employee's wages). However, Jack and Jill will also have to pay 10% or $8,000 ColoradoCare tax on the Partnership's profits and will only have $72,000 in reinvest. In short, starting out as a pass-through entity (partnership, LLC, LLP, or S corporation) will cost Jack and Jill an additional $8,000 in ColoradoCare taxes.

  • Other income: this catch-all category could include any "Form 1099" income, including anything from jury duty pay to gaming winnings.

The only income excluded from this 10 percent non-payroll income tax is alimony, unemployment income and the exempted portion of retirement income, which typically is an amount less than $24,000.

Amendment 69: Workers Comp Destabilizer

Be aware of the facts before you vote this November in Colorado. Amendment 69 will change health care as we know it and not in a good way.FACT:Amendment 69 will likely destabilize the workers’ compensation insurance market.There are two parts of workers' compensation insurance: medical coverage and wage replacement (indemnity). Under Amendment 69, ColoradoCare assumes responsibility for the medical portion of workers' compensation, leaving the wage replacement piece to be covered by private carriers. An indemnity-only business is untenable because there is no opportunity to manage costs in Colorado.If you would like more information:Click Here to read the full amendmentClick Here to read Amendment 69 as it will be on the ballotClick Here for more information about Amendment 69

Amendment 69: Double Premiums for Seniors?

This November, Colorado will be voting on something that would change health care drastically. Please be aware of the facts before you decide how you will vote on Amendment 69.Because Amendment 69 only affects laws at the state level, Medicare will not be replaced by the program. Seniors will continue having to pay for their Medicare Part B plan AND may still need to pay for supplemental coverage. If that is not enough, seniors pay an additional 10% tax on their retirement savings!Given the uncertainty around what ColoradoCare will cover, it's unclear whether seniors will have much in the way of additional benefits, despite the fact that they are paying premiums twice.If you would like more information:Click Here to read the full amendmentClick Here to read Amendment 69 as it will be on the ballotClick Here for more information about Amendment 69

Insuring a Second Home for High Net Worth Clients

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It can cost more to insure a second home than to insure your primary residence. Premiums are based on a variety of factors, like the amount of time that your home will be unoccupied, its location and the liability from renting the property.If you’re investing in a second home, we’ve gathered some insurance basics that will help you make the best buying decision when it comes to determining insurability and estimating your ongoing cost of ownership.Coverage OptionsAt a minimum, your lender will require that you carry hazard insurance to protect your property against damage from theft, fire, flooding or windstorms. It is also a good idea to add liability insurance, which covers you and members of your household for accidental injuries to your visitors. Opting for property plus liability insurance adds up to a standard homeowners insurance package. For an extra layer of protection, a personal umbrella liability policy extends your liability coverage for properties named in the policy.Dwelling Fire InsuranceSince most homeowner policies require occupancy as a condition of insurance, the fact that you visit infrequently may preclude you from obtaining full homeowners coverage. Dwelling fire insurance is an alternate coverage option for insuring residential rental or non-owner occupancy property, including vacant property.A dwelling fire policy continues to offer coverage for a home and other structures (detached sheds or garages, for example) for perils named in the policy. Named perils listed in a typical fire dwelling policy protect against damage caused by fire, collapse, lightning strike, wind, hail, explosion and smoke. For more coverage, consider adding personal property protection and liability insurance to a dwelling fire policy.Renting Out Your Home to Others?Whether your second property is an apartment unit or a family home, if you are renting the property, you will have little control over the physical damage that can occur. To mitigate your risks, tenant-occupied dwelling insurance will cover the costs incurred by damage, including fire, storms, burglary and vandalism. It does not cover your tenant’s personal property.Renting your property furnished or unfurnished also has insurance coverage implications. If you are renting your property furnished, let us know. We can advise you on the best coverage options and whether you should consider requiring longer-term tenants to carry additional renters insurance.As with all homeowners insurance, it is important to be sure that there is enough coverage to protect all of your property values and assets when you choose your policy.

How to Prepare Your Business For an Active Shooter

Training Your Staff for an Active Shooter SituationAn active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. To best prepare your staff for an active shooter situation, create an emergency action plan (EAP) and conduct training exercises. Together, the EAP and training exercises will prepare your staff to effectively respond and help minimize loss of life.Components of Training ExercisesThe most effective way to train your staff to respond to an active shooter situation is to conduct mock active shooter training exercises. Local law enforcement is an excellent resource in designing training exercises.Training components may include the following:• Recognizing the sound of gunshots• Reacting quickly when gunshots are heard and/or when a shooting is witnessed:1. Evacuating the area2. Hiding out3. Acting against the shooter as a last resort• Calling 911• Reacting when law enforcement arrives• Adopting the survival mindset during times of crisisAdditional Ways to Prepare For and Prevent an Active Shooter SituationBelow are steps you can take to improve preparedness:• Ensure your facility has at least two evacuation routes.• Post evacuation routes in conspicuous locations throughout your facility.• Include local law enforcement and first responders during training exercises.• Encourage law enforcement, emergency responders, SWAT teams, K-9 teams and bomb squads to train for an active shooter scenario at your location.Emergency NumbersIn addition, make sure to have the phone numbers on hand for the following:• Emergency services• Local emergency information line• Local police department• Local fire department• Local hospital• Local FBI field office• Facility securityFor more information on creating an EAP, contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, http://www.osha.gov

How Amendment 69 Could Impact You

Amendment 69 Will Hit Colorado Employers in the WalletLast month, we shared our general concerns about Amendment 69, the ballot initiative to create a single-payer health care system in Colorado.Let’s start with a quick recap of our broad concerns about Amendment 69’s impact on workers’ comp in Colorado. This new system, dubbed ColoradoCare, would absorb the medical costs now paid by workers’ comp. That would lead to the loss of myriad insurer services that help manage costs and the specialized care that can speed an injured employee’s return to work. The market would destabilize as a result, and costs could rise — demolishing Colorado’s stable workers’ comp system. Think of a few years back in California, where employers were leaving the state due to a broken workers compensation system. We DON'T want that to happen to Colorado. We've worked for too long to create an effective and fair system to let Coloradocare destroy all progress. Remember, no one works for Coloradocare yet, there are no provider contracts, the benefits haven't even been determined and yet they claim it will be less expensive. Sounds like an employee telling his boss he could run the company better when he's never owned a business before. The well being of Colorado's workers is at stake here. Let's not throw away all the progress we've made.Consider also that Amendment 69 would eliminate our ability to recover damages from the third parties that are responsible for your workers’ injuries, which could have implications for your premium.Currently, when a workplace injury is caused by a negligent third party, workers’ comp insurers can seek to recover funds from that third party through a process called subrogation. Subrogation entitles a workers’ comp carrier to recoup damages from the responsible party accountable for the claim. When a subrogation claim is successfully recovered, the payments are credited to you — which can positively affect your premium. For example, if one of your employees fell off a ladder at work, Pinnacol would pay for the injuries associated with the accident. However, if we determined the accident was caused by a defect in the ladder itself, then the manufacturer may be liable for the worker’s injuries. In this case, Pinnacol would seek reimbursement from the manufacturer or its insurance company on your behalf.We’re not talking peanuts here. In 2015, Pinnacol recovered more than $6.5 million on behalf of its policyholders. That’s millions of dollars that ColoradoCare, if approved, could prevent from reaching its rightful owner: you

How Will You Vote on Amendment 69 This Fall?

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This November, we will be voting to amend the constitution to change healthcare in Colorado. Here are four reasons from Coloradans for Coloradans to vote no on Amendment 69.

  1. Huge New Tax Burden. Amendment 69 will raise $25 billion in new taxes to fund a massive government-run health care system - —a figure that almost doubles the state budget. All Coloradans will pay into thus system giving Colorado the highest income taxes in the nation. Colorado can’t afford Amendment 69.
  2. 21-Member Board of Politicians Making Health Care Decisions for You. ColoradoCare would be run by a 21-member Board of Trustees with no accountability to the Governor or legislature. The Board will be responsible for running a new $38 billion entity - $25 billion from new taxes plus $13 billion from existing health care funding – and make decisions about health care benefits, payments to doctors and future tax increases. Yet, there are no requirements for experience in health care, no guarantee of political balance and no authority to recall these members. Decisions about our health care are too important to leave to inexperienced, unaccountable politicians.
  3. Another Complex Policy Embedded in Colorado’s Constitution. This is yet another complex and costly amendment to our state’s constitution. And because this policy is embedded in our constitution it would be difficult to amend or change in the future. It is irresponsible to put another complex amendment into our state’s constitution.
  4. Colorado should NOT be the guinea pig. One state, tiny Vermont, led by a pro-single-payer Governor tried this. He abandoned the plan after it was clear it would bust the state budget and be too complicated for one state to administer. Coloradans should not have to risk their health care, their income, and our economic future, on a risky experiment that has never been implemented anywhere before.

Colorado Division of Insurance Announces Significant Changes to the Individual Market

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According to Colorado's Division of Insurance, the following changes to the Individual market are effective January 1, 2017:

  • Humana and United Healthcare will no longer be offering Individual plans in Colorado in 2017.
  • Rocky Mountain Health Plans will be exiting the Individual market in all counties EXCEPT Mesa.
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is eliminating its Individual PPO and will be offering HMO only statewide.
  • Many of the remaining carriers are requesting significant rate increases for their individual products.
  • A new carrier, Bright Health Plans, will be offering Individual plans in Summit County and along the Front Range.

Click here to read the announcement from DORA.These changes will impact approximately 90,000 subscribers.The Solution? Think about offering Group Benefits. The small group market is not expecting much change at all in 2017. Similar plans and very low increases (even some decreases) in premiums.Please contact April Trulove with Questions.

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Inspect Your Deck

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As the weather warms up, relaxing on an outdoor deck can be a great way to spend time with friends and family. However, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors estimates that only 40 percent of the 45 million decks in North America are safe. Use these tips to inspect your deck and keep your friends and family safe.

  • Inspections should begin at the bottom of your deck. If a deck seems unsafe or is sagging in any location, do not walk on the deck.
  • Inspect the connection between your deck and the building to ensure that it is secure.
  • Ensure that railings on the deck and stairways are properly supported and stable.
  • Check for water sources near your deck that could contribute to accelerated wood decay. These can include the following:
  • Lawn sprinklers that regularly come into contact with your deck.
  • Indentations around your deck’s support beams where water may pool, especially in newly installed decks.
  • Downspouts from gutter systems that exit near your deck.
  • Narrow gaps in the deck’s floor boards that don’t allow water to pass through.
  • Make sure that none of the deck’s wood has decayed. Keep in mind that layers of paint can hide decay.
  • Visually inspect the beams below your deck for signs of sagging.

If you have any concerns about the safety of your deck, refrain from using it and contact a home inspector to perform a complete inspection. Using your deck should be a relaxing experience, and following these tips will help ensure that everyone using it will have a safe and enjoyable time.

Photo by One-Fat-Man