Spring’s Managing Partner Makes Captive Review’s Power 50

We are proud and excited to announce that our Managing Partner, Karin Landry, has been named to the Captive Review Power 50 Power 50list for 2018, a recognition she’s received for the past several years. This year, she comes in at #10 and is alongside impressive company.

In a male-dominated industry, Karin has worked hard to make a name for herself and is a known thought leader in the captive space. She holds eight patents in insurance and is an expert in things like employee benefits captive, multinational pooling, medical stop-loss and health plans of all kinds. Karin works with large, global corporations of varying industries and types, and delivers tailored solutions based on their needs. As a means to grow the profession and prepare the next generation of captive experts, she also teaches a course at the International Center for Captive Insurance Education (ICCIE).

She is not only an industry leader, speaking at conferences such as the World Captive Forum, CICA and VCIA regularly, but she also runs the ship here at Spring, and we are glad to have her.

Spring SVP Named 2019 Power Broker

Karen English Power BrokerWe are thrilled to announce that our Senior Vice President and Consultant, Karen English, has been named a 2019 Workers’ Compensation Power Broker by Risk & Insurance.

Karen is no stranger to this accolade, having been named a Power Broker several times in the past. However, the past year has been especially busy and successful for Karen, who continues to aid large, global employers with their workers’ compensation and other absence-related challenges, such as FMLA and disability. Not only does she lead projects hands-on, but she bolsters Spring’s industry expertise with her market research and survey team. She specializes in leveraging data to improve processes, and delivers a tailored solution for each individual client. Karen was one of the founding partners of Spring back in 2004, and has been the forefront of the company’s growth and high performance.

Karen is in good company on this impressive list, alongside leaders from fellow Alera Group firm, Orion Risk Management, Aon, Marsh and others. We are proud to have her on our team and look forward to her contributing to Spring’s continued success in the coming years.

Spring to Speak at 2019 CICA International Conference

The Spring team is excited to once again break from Boston’s cold winter and head to Arizona for the 2019 Captive Insurance Companies Association (CICA) annual international conference, which takes place from March 10th to 12th in TucsonCICA 2019 Conference

Spring has been involved with the annual CICA event for over a decade, and has acted as a sponsor, exhibitor, and speaker in the past. This year, Spring’s Managing Partner, Karin Landry, will be leading a session, “Getting Smart with Lost Time: Integrating Workers Comp & Disability”, on Monday, March 11th at 2:15 PM. The discussion will center around the advantages of integration between programs and the related trends, challenges and approaches. We will also cover optimization and impacts on various stakeholders. Several case studies will demonstrate cost savings opportunities as well as the different strategies available. The audience will leave with a framework for implementation and be able to draw upon real-life examples and best practices from large, leading global organizations.

We hope you have the chance to stop by Karin’s session, or at least find one of our team members amidst the workshops and networking opportunities to chat in person.

 

Government Shutdown and Its Impact on Employee Benefits

As the federal government partial shutdown continues, employers who rely on government contracts or have business models that depend on a fully operational government are now forced to make difficult decisions regarding their workforce. Some employers are contemplating reductions in force, layoffs, or furloughs to weather the financial ramifications of the
shutdown. This leads to questions about employee benefits, and how benefits should be handled during these leaves of
trump maternity leaveabsence.

Employers contemplating a reduction in force, layoff, unpaid leaves of absence, or furloughs, should review the following:

  1. Review their employee handbook and plan document for eligibility provisions. How plan eligibility is determined will be critical in determining how benefits are or are not continued.
  2. Review their carrier contracts, including stop-loss or reinsurance provisions regarding eligibility.
  3. If they are an applicable large employer, review their obligations under the employer mandate
    play or pay provisions.
  4. Communicate process for benefit premium payments, if applicable.
  5. Provide COBRA notices appropriately, when necessary.

Eligibility Policies

Employers are obligated to follow the provisions put forth in their plan documents, and mirrored in their employee handbooks, for benefit eligibility. Employers whose handbooks do not contemplate layoffs, furloughs, or reductions in force, or who have conflicting language between documents, should consult with their legal counsel.

Carrier Contracts

Employers should work closely with their carriers, including stop loss and reinsurance carriers, to ensure that both parties agree about who is and who isn’t eligible for benefits. Conflicts between parties will require legal counsel.

Applicable Large Employers (ALE)

To comply with the ACA, applicable large employers must offer their full-time employees health coverage or pay one of two employer-shared responsibility/play or pay penalties. An applicable large employer has 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees in the prior calendar year. Full-time employees are employees who are credited with 30 hours of service a week or more. A full-time equivalent employee is calculated by combining the number of hours of service of all non-full-time employees for the month (not including more than 120 hours of service per employee) and dividing the total by 120.

Under the ACA, any hour for which an employee is paid or entitled to payment must be counted as an hour of service. This includes:

  • An hour worked
  • Holiday
  • Incapacity (including disability)
  • Military duty
  • Vacation
  • Sick time
  • Layoff
  • Paid leave

This means that employees of applicable large employers will continue to accrue hours of service during a leave of absence due to the layoff provision if they are paid. If the employer is an ALE, and the employee is still considered full-time (e.g., due to being in a stability period), the employer will continue to be obligated to offer the full-time employees affordable, minimum value health coverage. Failure to do so would risk triggering ACA penalties (i.e., the “affordability” penalty, as the COBRA coverage offered due to the reduction in hours is likely to be “unaffordable”).

Employers are provided with two methods to determine an employee’s full-time status: the monthly method, and the measurement
and lookback method.

  • Under the monthly method, the employer looks at each employee’s actual hours of service each calendar month (an hour worked or an hour of paid time for vacation, holiday, sick time, incapacity including disability, layoff, jury duty, military duty, or other paid leave) each calendar month. An employee is full-time for the month if he or she works 130 hours, no matter how long or short the month is.
    • Under the look-back method, the employer looks at the number of hours the employee averaged during a look-back period called a “measurement period.” Once the employer determines whether the employee worked full-time during the measurement period, that determination generally will apply throughout the immediately following stability period regardless of the number of hours the employee actually works during the stability period (unless the employee’s employment ends).

Layoffs

If the employee is laid off during a stability period (not terminated) and is considered full-time, affordable coverage must be offered during the layoff to avoid exposure to potential penalties. Once the layoff is over, if the employee returns to work within 13 weeks (26 weeks for educational institutions), coverage must be reinstated by the first day of the month
following his return to work.

The time on layoff will not count as hours of service for purposes of the measurement period if the leave is unpaid. If coverage is terminated and the layoff exceeds 13 weeks, the employee can be treated as a new employee, with a new waiting period or initial measurement period, when he returns (of course, the plan may be designed to reinstate all returning employees immediately upon return). Generally, if the employee had coverage during the layoff (e.g., through COBRA or another extension of coverage), coverage will be reinstated upon return. There will be no hours of service to measure during unpaid leave (except for unpaid jury duty, FMLA or USERRA leave).

Unpaid Leave

If the employee is on an unpaid leave of absence (except FMLA) and in a stability period as full-time, the employee must be offered affordable coverage through the stability period to avoid potential penalties. When the employee’s hours are calculated during the measurement period, the leave of absence (except FMLA) will count as zero hours of service. Employers that are ALEs should seek experienced legal counsel to ensure that their plan documents reflect their practices during any furlough, layoff, reduction in force, or leave of absence to mitigate risk under the ACA.

Payment of Premiums

Employers who continue offering benefits during a furlough, layoff, or reduction in force will need to establish a process for premium payment.

Employers that already have an established process for premium payment during unpaid FMLA leave or during a pay shortage (for example, for tipped employees) should utilize those policies. The IRS has not provided guidance or regulation for handling pay shortages without a loss of benefit eligibility. Employers often refer to the rules provided for handling employee contributions during an employee’s unpaid Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. There are three options that employers have during unpaid FMLA leave:

  • Pre-payment
  • Pay-as-you-go on an after-tax basis
  • Catch-up salary reduction upon return from leave

During the government shutdown, it is likely that only the second two options would be feasible. The premium payment policy should be uniformly enforced for all employees. Employers may set a time limit for the employee to catch up on contributions before terminating coverage, as well as a maximum period of time over which employees may spread payments. Employees should be allowed uniform periods of time to pay back missed contributions; for instance, management should not be given three months to pay back missed contributions when other employees are only given one month.

COBRA

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) allows qualified beneficiaries who lose health benefits due to a qualifying event to continue group health benefits.COBRA

COBRA qualifying events include what is called a “reduction in hours.” A reduction of hours commonly occurs when an employee goes from full-time to part-time, when an employee is temporarily laid off or furloughed, or when an employee goes on a leave of absence. The IRS COBRA regulations provide that a reduction of hours in a covered employee’s employment “occurs whenever there is a decrease in the hours that a covered employee is required to work or actually works, but only if the decrease is not accompanied by an immediate termination of employment.”

In this event, employers who are subject to COBRA should timely provide affected employees with their COBRA election notice if their reduction in hours results in a loss of coverage under the plan.

COBRA Strategy for ACA Compliance or Culture Concerns

In the event that a plan document, employee handbook, or carrier policy determines a furloughed or laid off employee is no longer a benefits eligible full-time employee, employers who are subject to COBRA could offer impacted employees COBRA coverage and assist the employee with premium payment.

Under the ACA play or pay provisions, an offer of COBRA coverage is considered an “offer of coverage” and if an employer assists in premium payments, COBRA coverage could potentially be made affordable to ensure the employer was not triggering ACA penalties for failing to offer affordable, minimum value coverage.

Spring to Speak at World Captive Forum 2019

We’ll be packing our bags for sunny Florida soon enough! Spring’s Managing Partner, Karin Landry, will be speaking on three different panels at this year’s World Captive Forum.

The three-day event will run from January 30th to February 1st in Turnberry Isles, Florida and we expect a great turnout of employers, regulators and service providers alike, all there to share their experiences and perspectives.World Captive Forum 2019

Karin will lead the following sessions:

  • State Regulation Again! Time for a Fresh Look! from 10:45-11:45 AM on January 31st. She will be speaking alongside Joseph Holahan, Attorney at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP about the varied regulatory issues facing the captive industry today. They’ll be looking at Washington state and others who have passed recent tax regulations related to captives, and fleshing out how captive professionals can move forward.
  • US Benefits – It’s a Better Year from 1PM to 2PM on January 31st. Karin and David Slenn, Partner at Shumaker Loop & Kendrick LLP, will discuss benefits captives – where they stand today and where they’re headed. They will specifically address updates from the Department of Labor (DOL) and share a case study to bring the topic to light.
  • Stop-Loss in Captives from 2:15-3:15PM on January 31st. In this session, Karin will be joined by Steve Kroll of International Capital Investment Company and Tom DeNoma of Nationwide to discuss the growing trend of stop-loss captives and best practices in doing so. They will represent the employer, insurer and consultant viewpoints.

Spring has been to the World Captive Forum several times and always finds it to be a strong indicator of industry hot topics. Karin is excited to learn and share her knowledge. Not to mention she’ll get to escape from the Boston cold! If you’ll be in Florida too, don’t forget to catch a session (or two or three) or Karin’s and say hello.

Spring to Exhibit at Yankee Dental Congress 2019

Our team is excited to head to the Yankee Dental Congress in Boston’s Seaport from January 30th to February 2nd. As a long-time broker and partner for hundreds of Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) members, this event has always been a rewarding way to meet with small business owners and vendors in the dental arena. In fact, this will be Spring’s 10th year in a row being involved with the Yankee Dental conference, and we are thrilled!

Captive Insurance

The four-day event is sure to bring the best and brightest in the field, drawing a crowd of almost 20,000. We look forward, as always, to this networking and learning opportunity. If you will be at the conference – which takes place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center – please stop by booth 2234 and say hello! We will have plenty of fun giveaways, as well as information about the services we offer to so many of the area’s dentists (among others).

Spring Spotlight: Grace Giannattasio

We know you’ve been missing these, so we’re back and we’re giving you the deets on Grace.

Title: Consulting AnalystSpring Consulting

Joined Spring in: July of 2017, although she’s sometimes still referred to as the “new girl” for some unbeknownst reason.

Professional interests/skills: Grace is an integral part of the Integrated Disability Management (IDM) team. As such she works on leave and absence management projects of varying kinds, like those related to the FMLA or ADA.

Outside-of-work: Grace is always making us jealous of her awesome tan, so it’s no surprise that she spends a lot of time outside (when Boston weather allows – a very small window!). She also enjoys reading and going to the beach (reading at the beach is a favorite activity).

Favorite season: Summer because, obviously. This is the only time she can work on said tan and beach reading.

Favorite flower: Grace went with lavender because it smells nice and is also known for helping you relax and sleep well.

Favorite part about working at Spring: “My favorite part about working at Spring is definitely the team I work with. Everyone is collaborative and supportive and the whole group works really well together.”

If your house was burning down, what non-living thing would you save? Grace would, rightly so, save her great-grandmother’s jewelry. Proud.

 

Spring to Sponsor RIMS 2018 Annual Conference

RIMS 2018

Spring team at RIMS 2017

It’s been a busy conference season for us here at Spring, and it’s not over yet! We are excited to be sponsoring and exhibiting at this year’s RIMS (The Risk Management Society) annual conference in San Antonio, Texas from April 15th – 18th. Spring has been actively involved with the RIMS organization for over a decade and we are pleased to continue this partnership. Further, after having just endured three Nor’Easters in a two-week span, we are ready to pack our bags for warmer weather!

The event boasts an incredible turnout each year, and we’re sure this year will be no exception with an expected audience size of almost 3,000. This ties in well with the 2018 theme, “Go Big.” RIMS is one of the best events for risk managers to network, learn and share ideas. The four-day conference combines a good mix of work and play and brings an impressive list of talent when it comes to speakers and content. We’re particularly excited to see Jay Leno!

If you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance you will be at RIMS too, so please don’t forget to come say hi to us at booth #753. We’ll have giveaways, raffle prizes and more, and we’d love to chat with you!