Disaster Aftermath: Unfavorable Property Insurance Market

Posted on January 28th, 2021

Wildfires, hurricanes, a derecho.

If you live outside California or other parts of the West, you may have forgotten about the wildfires and the estimated $16.5 billion in losses they cost last summer and fall, along with at least 46 lives. If you didn’t lose a loved one or suffer property damage from Hurricanes Laura, Sally or Isaiah, those storms may be obscured among the dark recollections of 2020. If you didn’t witness the destruction a high-wind event known as a derecho inflicted on much of the Midwest, you may not remember what a derecho is.

A raging pandemic, political turmoil and a teetering economy can affect a nation’s collective memory that way.

But residents and other property owners in the areas directly affected by those events haven’t forgotten. And if the blazes that ravaged broad swaths of the western states, the hurricanes that lashed the Gulf and East Coasts, and the derecho that tore through the Midwest temporarily slipped your mind, the process of renewing your Property Insurance is sure to serve as a reminder.

On January 26, Risk Placement Services (RPS) published a report, “2021 U.S. Property Market Outlook” forecasting Commercial Property Insurance rate increases ranging from, as Insurance Business Magazine reported, “the high single digits to the 15% range on clean accounts, and higher increases on accounts with losses.”

How We Got Here and Where We’re Going

The RPS report arrives on the heels of Alera Group’s Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook, a whitepaper published in December 2020, and, like the Alera Group publication, cites the impact of a historically high number of recent catastrophic events, including wildfires and named storms.

From August 1 until the end of 2020 alone, severe weather events caused $71 billion dollars in damage and killed 181 people, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA). The five most catastrophic:

  1. Hurricane Laura (LA, Aug. 27-28) – 42 deaths, $19 billion
  2. Western Wildfires (CA, OR, WA; Aug. 1-Dec. 30) – 46 deaths, $16.5 billion
  3. Derecho (SD, IA, IL, MN, IN, OH; Aug. 10) – 4 deaths, $11 billion
  4. Hurricane Sally (AL, FL, GA; Sept. 15-17) – 5 deaths, $7.3 billion
  5. Hurricane Isaias (NC, with related damage up the East Coast; Aug. 3-4) – 16 deaths, $4.8 billion

The effects of such events and years of similar severe weather occurrences that preceded them, both the Alera Group and RPS reports note, include not only higher premiums but also stricter policy terms, reduced capacity, and heightened underwriter scrutiny and selectivity. This has resulted in greater carrier reliance on reinsurance providers, which in turn has led to rate hikes that ultimately get passed on to insurance buyers.

In addition to the aftermath of severe weather, commercial property owners may also encounter unfavorable conditions resulting from COVID-19 and civil disorder – specifically communicable disease and riot exclusions.

There is, however, some good news:

  • While premiums and rates continue to rise, the increases are moderating.
  • Larger deductibles – more than $100,000 for larger accounts – are helping to offset higher premiums, though unfavorable loss experience will result in even greater deductibles.
  • Insurers, while seemingly in no hurry to bind policies, are cooperating more with agents and broker working to close gaps in coverage.

Outlook Heading into 2021

Here’s the overall landscape for Commercial Property insurance as outlined in the Alera Group outlook:

    • The insurance industry’s profitability has been heavily impacted by a historically high number of catastrophic events since 2017, including “named” storms (an annual record of 30 to date in 2020), massive wildfires throughout the western states and COVID-19.
    • The need for underwriting profitability will result in continuation of higher pricing and more restrictive underwriting.
    •  Capacity remains available but will be offered and priced commensurate with the underwriter’s perception of the risk.
    •  Underwriting selectivity will be skewed in favor of risks identified as having lower than average exposure to catastrophes (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, wildfires).
    •  Insureds deemed to be “higher risk” should anticipate greater than average price increases, being offered lower values or limits and greater self-insured retentions and deductibles.

At the time of the Outlook’s publication in December 2020, rates, availability, capacity and underwriting scrutiny/selectivity all were trending unfavorably for Property Insurance buyers. As we head into the second month of 2021, those trends haven’t reversed, but they are, as earlier noted, less severe.

To obtain the entire Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook whitepaper, click the button below.


Not So Sunny and Golden

As if the overall impact of natural disasters in the Sunshine State weren’t bad enough, there’s this development, reported in Insurance Journal: “Florida’s Property Insurance Market Is ‘Spiraling Towards Collapse’ Due to Litigation.” Among the findings of the study cited in Insurance Journal:

  • Litigation frequency and severity represents an additional expense load of 17% (and rising) on all earned premiums for insurers in Florida compared with other catastrophe-prone states.
  • Florida consumers are paying a “hidden tax” to fund the litigation that averaged about $680 per family in 2020.

In the Golden State of California, meanwhile, it’s disaster upon disaster.

As recently as January 26, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara was “alerting residents to review their current insurance policies in the midst of a forecast of winter weather bringing the possibility of floods, mudslides, debris flows and other disasters to recent wildfire burn areas throughout the state,” reports Insurance Journal.

“Lara issued a formal notice to insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damage from any future mudslide or similar disaster that is caused by recent wildfires that weakened hillsides,” Insurance Journal adds, while also including this link to a California Department of Insurance fact sheet about what Homeowners Insurance policies and the National Flood Insurance Program cover.

The publication goes on to note:

“The Montecito mudslide in Santa Barbara County in January 2018 that followed the destructive Thomas Fire claimed 23 lives and caused more than $421 million in damage, according to CDI data. Following that disaster, the department issued a notice to insurance companies about their requirement to pay mudslide claims that are directly or indirectly caused by the wildfires.”

What You Can Do

Protecting your organization with a cost-effective insurance program should be a proactive process. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Meet with your underwriter, and enter the meeting prepared. The key to obtaining the best pricing is to have five full years of currently valued loss experience and accurate property values.
  • While risk management is always a key component element of containing insurance costs, it can’t be emphasized enough given a combination of hard market and heightened risks.
  • Work closely with a knowledgeable, independent agent/broker who serves as a trusted adviser. In addition to marketing your organization to multiple carriers for the best available premium and limits, as well as the fewest possible exclusions, such an adviser will work closely with you throughout the underwriting process and ensure you have the resources and services to make your risk management program comprehensive and effective.
  • Gain a better understanding of your Commercial Property Insurance Rating. Alera Group’s brief guide explains the types of property rating and insights on contributing factors such as construction, occupancy, protection and exposure.


About the Author                             

Steve Felker

President, Risk Management

GCG Financial, an Alera Group Company

Steve joined GCG Risk Management Consultants, the Property and Casualty Insurance arm of GCG, in 2009. Under his leadership, the practice has grown rapidly, acquiring key talent and deepening its relationships with key industry carriers to provide broader markets to clients. Steve’s innovative and customized client solutions have helped build strong client relationships. His clients value his technical focus and sound business advice. The primary market segment is medium-sized to large businesses with an additional emphasis on personal insurance for individuals. GCG provides risk management advice and insurance solutions to hundreds of clients and represents the leading insurance carriers in the Property and Casualty industry.

Steve began his career at Lawton-Byrne-Bruner Insurance Agency (LBB), the largest insurance brokerage firm in St. Louis at the time. During his 12-year career there he was elected Senior Vice President and then became an owner of the firm. In 1986, Steve was instrumental in the sale of LBB to Marsh & McLennan, Inc., which named him Managing Director, the firm’s highest professional designation. Over the next 24 years, he held numerous positions, including head of the St. Louis Office for 15 years.

Contact information:

Education Industry Facing Unprecedented Insurance Challenges

Posted on January 26th, 2021

In early 2020, before most Americans became familiar with the word “coronavirus,” a different risk loomed over the education industry as its No. 1 threat: sexual abuse and molestation. And while COVID-19 has since become the most top-of-mind issue for schools ranging from grades K-12 to colleges and universities, for private and charter K-12 schools in particular, sexual abuse and molestation remain an even more dangerous risk.

Like every industry, higher education is faced with a hard market for Property and Casualty insurance. Unlike some industries, the hard market is clobbering educational institutions on every line of coverage: General Liability, Cyber, Employment Practices, Professional Liability, Property – all in addition to Sexual Abuse and Molestation. You name it, the education industry is taking it on the chin from all directions – rates, availability, capacity and underwriting scrutiny/selectivity.

Yet even as education administrators at all levels deal with the day-to-day challenges of COVID-19, it’s the long-term risks of sexual abuse and molestation that pose an existential threat.

‘Reviver Laws’ and Coverage Exclusions

A January 2020 report by The Oregonian on an exclusive private school at the center of a large sexual abuse scandal noted how widespread and damaging the problem of abuse and molestation is among private institutions. That, as the report underscores, has made underwriters increasingly wary of insuring private schools:

“Schools of all sorts from all over the country have been hit hard by sexual abuse claims. That includes some of the best-known names in private education – from the Brentwood School in Los Angeles to St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn.

“In response, insurance companies have retreated from the private school business. Insurers remain eager to sell standard liability policies. But they often refuse to cover sexual abuse claims.

“’​Many insurers are adding explicit exclusions in their general liability policies,’ said Ed Hancock, chief underwriting officer at Church Mutual Insurance Co. ‘Sexual misconduct is not an accident from the standpoint of the perpetrator, and traditionally general liability insurers are comfortable insuring accidents.’”

Adding to insurers’ reluctance to underwrite coverage for sexual abuse and molestation is the growing number of states with “reviver laws,” which expand the window for filing claims. In New York, for example, Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February 2020 signed into law that raised the age limit for filing a felony charge of abuse from 23 to 28 and extended the age of victims who can seek civil relief against abusers and enabling institutions to 55.

In an August 2020, Business Insurance report, Vicky Riggs, a senior financial analyst for A.M. Best Co. Inc., said the extended time frames for seeking compensation would likely increase insurer exposure. “And definitely because of the sensitivity of the subject, I believe there will be more likelihood of settlement versus extensive litigation,” she added.

For schools, organizations and institutions serving young people – and for the carriers who underwrite liability coverage – the extended time frames require a long-range view of sexual abuse and molestation risks. Both insured and insurer should be looking 50 years ahead.

To reiterate a conclusion found in Alera Group’s whitepaper Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook: “A limited number of carriers are writing liability for higher education institutions. When offered, limits are low. Insurers are adding exclusions for sexual abuse and molestation, and for traumatic brain injury risks, which can result in claims in excess of $1 million.”

Outlook Heading into 2021

Here’s the overall landscape for the education industry as outlined in Alera Group market outlook:

Rates are increasing and capacity is decreasing: The insurance market for educational institutions has been steadily hardening over the last several years, and COVID-19 has added to the pressure. All sectors of education are affected, but the greatest impact is on colleges and universities.

Jury awards and the cost of defending lawsuits are skyrocketing: Schools are expected to protect students against “everything,” from bullies to injuries suffered while playing competitive sports. When schools fail to keep students safe, the consequences can be enormous. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid out by and on behalf of educational institutions. The frequency and size of claims has made underwriters guarded about primary and excess liability for educational institutions.

Sexual Abuse and Molestation claims are cause for concern: The market for this coverage is difficult, especially in states where immunity is limited for school districts. Compounding the challenge for underwriters are newly enacted “reviver” laws that may leave insurers responsible for historical claims that were previously deemed beyond the statute of limitations.

Underwriting is highly selective: Given the level of risk educational institutions face, insurance companies are reluctant to consider an account with any “hair on it.”

Communicable disease exclusions on the rise: Educational institutions have a huge exposure to COVID-19. Insurance companies want to limit their liability for unknown risks.


To obtain the entire Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook whitepaper, click the button below.


Big Issue on Campus

While there’s no good time for a pandemic, for the education industry, COVID-19 couldn’t have arrived at a worse time. As the publication Risk & Insurance reported in late November:

“In addition to the hard market, higher education is facing its own unique challenges, from recent high-dollar jury settlements for sexual assault and misconduct involving students, coaches and faculty plaguing many institutions to concerns about campus safety, health, security and reopening plans amid COVID-19.”

Higher education officials who had hoped the trials, errors and successes of navigating a pandemic last fall would result in return to normalcy this spring are now confronting a harsh reality. While many students are back on campus or planning to return soon, ongoing struggles with COVID-19 mean that normalcy isn’t returning to campus anytime soon.

Here’s a recent sampling from the Inside Higher Ed webpage Live Updates: Latest News on Coronavirus and Higher Education:

  • January 18: One week after students returned to classes, New York’s Union College imposes a campus quarantine to deal with an immediate spike in COVID-19 cases – 51 since January 1.
  • January 19: The dean of Massachusetts’ Amherst College reminds students via email that there will be no outdoors social events, as there were in the fall, and that students living on campus will not be allowed to visit off-campus houses.
  • January 20: The University of Alabama announces that it mistakenly sent 7,500 emails telling people they had tested negative for COVID-19. This occurs eight days after the university gives faculty the option of teaching remotely as a precaution following the mass (and largely mask-less) celebration that took place after Alabama’s victory in the NCAA football championship game.
  • January 21: The Houston Chronicle reports that a student at Rice University has sued the school for charging full tuition despite most of its education taking place online. The suit, which seeks to become a class action, read, “Plaintiff and the members of the class have all paid for tuition for a first-rate education and on-campus, in-person educational experiences, with all the appurtenant benefits offered by a first-rate university. Instead, students like plaintiff were provided a materially different and insufficient alternative, which constitutes a breach of the contracts entered into by plaintiff with the university.”

Of course, liability issues arising from COVID-19 and education aren’t confined to colleges and universities.

In December, when parents in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, IL, questioned local board of education members about why their school district was not offering full, in-person learning, the district’s legal counsel cited a letter from the school’s insurance provider. School districts, the attorney said, would not be covered for legal fees or damages caused by a “COVID-related incident.”

“As soon as those letters were sent out to many districts, that’s where the risk of liability became very real,” the attorney told attendees during a virtual board of education meeting covered by the Chicago Tribune.

Additional Considerations

The Property and Casualty challenges facing the education industry don’t end with abuse and COVID-19. Cyber Liability coverage remains widely available, but their vast number of cyber integrations make educational institutions especially vulnerable to breaches. Claims continue to rise, and increased dependency on remote learning only adds to the risk.

In every other line of coverage for education, the market is trending unfavorably for buyers across the board – availability, rates, capacity and underwriting/selectivity. These lines of coverage include:

  • General Liability
  • Employment Practices Liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Property
  • Umbrella/Excess.

What You Can Do

Protecting your organization with a cost-effective insurance program should be a proactive process. Here are some steps you can take:

  • While risk management is always a key component element of containing insurance costs, it can’t be emphasized enough given a combination of hard market and heightened risks.
  • Work closely with a knowledgeable, independent agent/broker who serves as a trusted adviser. In addition to marketing your organization to multiple carriers for the best available premium and limits, as well as the fewest possible exclusions, such an adviser will ensure you have the resources and services to make your risk management program comprehensive and effective.
  • Watch Alera Group’s  “COVID-19 Vaccines & More: Practical Guidance for Employers.” During the presentation, you’ll receive information on regulations regarding vaccines, along with guidance on safe and effective work practices. Topics include:
    • Incorporating updated Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and other regulations into your policies and practices
    • Considerations for developing vaccination policies
    • Adapting short- and long-term remote and on-site workforce strategies.

The last segment of the webinar is devoted to a panel discussion featuring Alera Group HR experts and leaders of medium- and large-sized companies who are managing COVID-19 on the front lines across multiple industries and states.


About the Author                             

Michael Brooks, CRSM

Executive Vice President

Austin & Co., Inc., an Alera Group Company

A Certified School Risk Manager (CRSM), Mike oversees the commercial lines, claims and personal lines departments of Austin & Co. Inc., with responsibilities for product management and carrier to relationships, while maintaining a large and varied client base.

Contact information:

Weekly Wellbeing Resources: Kitchen Tips, Mental Health Podcasts and More

Posted on January 25th, 2021

When it comes to wellbeing, employers often find themselves challenged by how to approach a shift from a traditional wellness model to a comprehensive and holistic program that supports the whole person. Below you’ll find this week’s curated list of wellbeing resources.  Feel free to share these resources, as appropriate, with your team. Have a safe and healthy week!

Career Wellbeing

Social & Family Wellbeing

  • 11 Tips for Talking to Someone You Disagree With – Talking with someone we disagree with can be incredibly uncomfortable for many of us.  But without being able to engage the “other side”, we can suffer a significant loss to our relationships, families, or communities. This article discusses some tips on how to become more effective, credible, and collaborative when we’re engaging with people who see the world differently.
  • Helping Kids Manage Big Hurts and Little Hurts – If 2020 taught us anything it’s that we must help our kids deal with change and disappointment. In this 15-minute podcast, Child and Family Therapist, Jennifer Kolari, talks about how to help your kids manage big hurts and little hurts.  Listen in to find out how to help your kids develop the emotional shock absorbers needed to handle anything.

Financial Wellbeing

  • Budgeting: How Do You Manage Your Spending In a Society That Uses Mainly Debit and Credit Cards?  – In the past, people used to use the “cash envelope” method of budgeting where they would have envelopes with different categories written on the outside of each envelope with different amounts inside.  When the cash was gone in an envelope, you knew you had overspent in that category.  How can you work a system like this in our heavily cashless society?  Pete the Planner® will explore this topic on both his blog post and his podcast.

Physical Wellbeing

Emotional Wellbeing

  • 10 of the Best Podcasts About Mental Health – A good mental health podcast is no substitute for talking to a qualified professional but listening in can provide helpful tips for coping with anxiety and depression from those who’ve either experienced it firsthand, spent their lives treating those who have, or both.  These are 10 great podcasts to add to your toolkit.
  • New Netflix Series: Headspace Guide to Meditation – If you are looking for an approachable manner to get started with meditation, Headspace has teamed up with Netflix to offer just that.  In the new Netflix series ‘Headspace Guide to Meditation’, Headspace takes a friendly, animated look at the benefits of meditation while offering techniques and guided meditations to jump-start your practice.

Community Wellbeing

  • Brighten Up a Meals on Wheels Delivery – Think how fun it would be to receive your meal in a brightly decorated lunch bag!  This is a fun and inexpensive project for all ages.  Contact your nearest Meals on Wheels program to find out where to drop them off.  This site also offers up some reflection questions and stories to help kids understand how important it is to spread kindness to our seniors.

Employer Focused Wellbeing

Workers’ Comp Market Stable, but Uncertainty Looms

Posted on January 21st, 2021

Workers’ Comp Market Stable, but Uncertainty Looms

As 2021 approached, Workers’ Compensation insurance was a national outlier in an otherwise hard market for Property and Casualty insurance, showing only a narrow range between moderate decreases and increases in rates while remaining stable in terms of availability, capacity and underwriting scrutiny/selectivity.

But uncertainty loomed, amid questions arising from COVID-19.

  • To what extent would states expand Workers’ Compensation coverage for employees who contracted the disease?
  • What would be the implications of employers’ COVID-19 vaccination policies?
  • What are COVID-19’s long-term effects?
  • How will the expansion of telemedicine affect Workers’ Compensation coverage?
  • When will rates shift to those consistent with a hard market?

Outlook Heading into 2021

Here’s the general landscape for Workers’ Compensation insurance as outlined in Alera Group’s Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook:

► This major line of the Property and Casualty sector continues to perform as an outlier by producing profitable underwriting results.

► Capacity and availability remain unchanged.

► Rates have remained fairly stable for several years and in some states are now rising modestly to reflect the drop in insurers’ investment income and an increase in the average cost of claims involving lost work days.

► Payroll-based premiums have been suppressed as a result of governmental mandates to close or reduce business activities due to COVID-19.

► Going forward, this line of business faces uncertainties related to:

  • The potential impact from employee claims as a result of contracting COVID-19;
  • A greater number of people working from home;
  • Increases in claims frequency emanating from a growing economy and consequentially inexperienced workforce;
  • Questions around suppressed premiums, which could ignite competition to produce more premium to replace revenue lost due to reduced worker hours and more staff working from home, where hazards are thought to be lower than at many on-site locations;
  • Potential legislation clearing a path to Workers’ Compensation being the employee’s remedy for COVID-19 and future communicable disease outbreaks.
  • The ongoing challenge of an aging workforce.

To obtain the entire Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook whitepaper, click the button below.


Evolving Conditions Due to COVID-19

So what’s happened since Alera Group released the Market Outlook in December 2020?

Telemedicine, or telehealth – a subject Alera Group colleague Paul Curtis of Phalanx Healthcare Solutions addressed in his recent article on the property and casualty insurance outlook for the healthcare industry – has expanded exponentially during the pandemic. State regulations, provider requirements and carrier reimbursement arrangements for telemedicine, meanwhile, are in various phases of catch-up.

PropertyCasualty360 earlier this week ranked telemedicine services No. 1 among its “Three key 2021 workers’ comp trends to watch.” Citing a study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the publication reported:

“There will continue to be questions in 2021 as to how COVID-19 will impact the utilization and accessibility of telemedicine services for workers’ comp, including whether certain states will elect to adopt/implement permanent telemedicine regulations and provisions, how certain provider requirements may change, and how carriers will be reimbursed for services — to name just a few.”

State regulations also vary—n terms of both adoption and scope—in how they address whether COVID-19 is presumed to be a workplace illness. One encouraging development: In California, a state with one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the country, the state insurance commissioner recently declined the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau’s request to increase rates.

Vaccination Deliberation

As the nation steps up distribution and administration during Phase I of mass vaccination, employers are scrambling to determine what kind of policies to implement and what the ramifications might be for their organization. Gary Pearce, Detroit-based Chief Risk Architect  at risk management consultancy Aclaimant Inc., summed up the situation in an interview with Business Insurance.

Employers “need to recognize that if they do impose a vaccination mandate that it’s likely that they are going to have to pay for the vaccination, that this will be compensable work time, and … medical complications in a mandatory vaccination environment are going to be under workers’ compensation and be covered,” Pearce said.

What You Can Do

Protecting your organization with a cost-effective insurance program should be a proactive process. Here are some steps you can take to address the hidden costs of workplace accidents, contain Workers’ Compensation insurance now and prepare for an eventual increase in rates:

  • Be prepared to answer detailed questions during the renewal period. Although underwriting scrutiny and selectivity have remained relatively stable regarding Workers’ Compensation insurance, early indications in 2021 are that carriers are becoming more selective. Being able to demonstrate a comprehensive and effective risk management program, including COVID-19 health and safety protocols, will make you more attractive in the Workers’ Comp marketplace, and help you secure more favorable policy premiums, terms and conditions.
  • Consider creating or joining a Captive Insurance program. Even with carrier rates beyond their control, businesses may be able to step away from the status quo to gain more control of their Workers’ Compensation program, including the ability to further reduce the total cost of risk. By becoming an owner of insurance and not a buyer, an employer in a captive program can turn a liability into a profit center.
  • Register for Alera Group’s Monday, January 25 webinar, “COVID-19 Vaccines & More: Practical Guidance for Employers.” During the presentation, you’ll receive information on regulations regarding vaccines, along with guidance on safe and effective work practices. Topics will include:
    • Incorporating updated Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and other regulations into your policies and practices
    • Considerations for developing vaccination policies
    • Adapting short- and long-term remote and on-site workforce strategies.

The last segment of the webinar will be devoted to a panel discussion, during which you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions of Alera Group HR experts and leaders of medium- and large-sized companies who are managing COVID-19 on the front lines across multiple industries and states.




About the Author

Stephen Paulin, CIC

Risk Strategies and Workers’ Compensation Practice Leader, Orion Risk Management

Steve Paulin, CIC, has more than 35 years of experience as a risk strategist helping privately held, mid-market businesses in Southern California reach their profit goals by improving risk management outcomes that optimize the insurance program’s financial efficiency and produce better long-term business performance. Steve’s innovative, results-driven approach, exacting research and diagnostic process make businesses safer, more productive and profitable by delivering a proven methodology to:

  • Identify the risks facing your business
  • Develop strategies to mitigate the total cost of risk
  • Attain “best in class” status to create intense competition in the insurance marketplace
  • Deliver personalized metrics to measure broker performance and ROI, and to achieve improved bottom-line results.

Contact information:

EEOC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Related to Wellness Programs

Posted on January 21st, 2021

This alert is of interest to all employers that sponsor workplace wellness programs. 

Since 2019, employers faced uncertainty regarding the status of wellness program incentives under the ADA and GINA. On January 7, 2021, the EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Wellness Programs Under the ADA and GINA that addresses this issue. The proposed rules deviate somewhat from prior EEOC guidance and positions.

Specifically, the proposed rules apply the ADA’s insurance “safe harbor” to health contingent wellness programs offered as part of, or qualified as, an employer-sponsored group health plan, thereby segregating them from health contingent wellness programs offered to all employees, regardless of their participation in the employer’s health plan.  Instead, the latter are lumped in with non-health contingent wellness programs (i.e., wellness programs that involve a disability-related inquiry or medical exam but are not activity-based or outcome-based) and subject to the ADA wellness rules.

Consistent with the EEOC’s announcement in the summer of 2020, the proposed rules require any incentives provided for participatory wellness programs and/or wellness programs not offered as part of a group health plan to be “de minimis.”  If the rules are finalized as proposed, employers may no longer rely upon the 30% (or 50% for smoking cessation) limit on incentives for these types of programs.

Finally, the proposed rules amend the GINA regulations by, among other things, limiting wellness program incentives for employees who complete health risk assessments that contain information about their spouse or dependents’ family medical history or other genetic information to a similar de minimis amount.

The proposed rules are described in more detail below.


As background, under the ADA, wellness programs that involve a disability-related inquiry or a medical examination must be “voluntary.”  Similar requirements exist under GINA when there are requests for an employee’s family medical history (typically as part of a health risk assessment).  For years, the EEOC had declined to provide specific guidance on the level of incentive that may be provided under the ADA, and their informal guidance suggested that any incentive could render a program “involuntary.”  In 2016, after years of uncertainty on the issue, the agency released rules on wellness incentives that resembled, but did not mirror, the 30% limit established under U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations applicable to health-contingent employer-sponsored wellness programs.

While the regulations appeared to be a departure from the EEOC’s previous position on incentives, they were welcomed by employers as providing a level of certainty.

However, the rules were subsequently challenged by the AARP, which alleged that the final regulations were inconsistent with the meaning of “voluntary” as that term was used in ADA and GINA.  After much back and forth in the lawsuit, in December 2017, the court vacated, effective January 1, 2019, the portions of the final regulations that the EEOC issued in 2016 under the ADA and GINA addressing wellness program incentives.  This was, in most part, due to the timing proposed by the EEOC to develop new regulations.

Accordingly, since January 1, 2019, employers have been operating with little guidance or clarity regarding whether incentives provided for participatory wellness programs would be agreeable to the EEOC.

EEOC Proposed Wellness Regulations

ADA Proposed Wellness Regulations

The EEOC’s proposed rule seeks to amend two sections of the ADA regulations, related medical examinations and inquiries and the insurance safe harbor.  In the preamble to the proposed rule, the EEOC recognizes that the meaning of “voluntary” is in the eye of the beholder but takes the position that if incentives are too high, then employees may feel coerced to disclose protected medical information in order to be rewarded or avoid a penalty.  Accordingly, participatory wellness programs that include a disability related inquiry and/or a medical examination or health contingent programs that are not part of, or do not qualify as, a group health plan must not impose terms that would adversely affect the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment for employees who do not participate and, therefore, must limit incentives to a de minimis amount.

While “de minimis” is not specifically defined, the EEOC provides some examples to help guide employers, including:

  • Providing a water bottle
  • Providing a gift card of “modest” value

Items the EEOC indicates would not be de minimis include:

  • Providing a $50 a month premium reduction for completing a health risk assessment
  • Paid airline tickets
  • Annual gym memberships

The EEOC requested comments on the types of incentives that should/should not be considered de minimis.

The proposed rules list four factors that can be used to determine whether a wellness program is “part of” a group health plan:

  1. the program is only offered to employees who are enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan;
  2. any incentive offered is tied to cost-sharing or premium reductions (or increases) under the group health plan;
  3. the program is offered by a vendor that has contracted with the group health plan or issuer; and
  4. the program is a term of coverage under the group health plan.

The proposed rules included other protections for employees.  Specifically, they (1) prohibit employers from retaliating, interfering with, coercing, intimidating, or threatening employees, such as coercing them to participate in the program or threatening disciplinary action if they don’t participate, (2) protect employee confidential information obtained by a participatory wellness program or a health-contingent wellness program that is not part of the group health plan by requiring information collected to be aggregated in a form that does not disclose, and is not reasonably likely to disclose, the identity of specific individuals, (3) with limited exceptions specific to carrying out wellness program functions, prohibit the employer from requiring the employee to agree to the sale or disclosure of medical information or waive confidentiality protections under the ADA to participate in the program; and (4) clarify that employers must still comply with other federal civil rights laws.

Finally, because the EEOC is now proposing a de minimis incentive standard for most wellness programs, it no longer believes that it is necessary to require employers to issue a unique ADA notice that describes, among other things, the type of medical information that will be obtained and the purposes for which the information will be used.

GINA Proposed Wellness Regulations

Under the proposed GINA rules, employers may provide de minimis incentives to employees who complete health risk assessments that contain information about their spouse or dependents’ family medical history or other genetic information.  The EEOC uses the same examples of what would be de minimis under the ADA for purposes of GINA, such as providing a water bottle or a modest gift card.

The proposed rule does not prohibit an employer from offering a greater incentive (i.e., a non-de minimis incentive) to employees who provide their own genetic information as long as the employer makes it voluntary for the employee to complete the questions regarding genetic information (and the instructions clearly indicate which questions are voluntary), or to an employee who completes a health risk assessment that includes genetic information, if the employee participates in a disease management program, other program that promotes a healthy lifestyle, and/or meet a particular health goal, as long as the programs are also offered to individuals with current health conditions or health risks.

The EEOC uses an example of an employer who offers $150 for completion of a health risk assessment which requests information about family medical history or other genetic information but makes it clear that the incentive is available regardless of whether the employee completes any questions related to genetic information.  The assessment identifies which questions are related to genetic information.  Employees can earn $150 if they disclose family medical history and participate in a program designed to encourage weight loss or a healthy lifestyle; however, if the employee does not want to complete the questions related to genetic information, they can still earn the $150 if they attain a certain health outcome by participating in other activities.  The incentive complies with GINA.

What’s Next for Employers?

The wellness regulations are proposed at this time and it is uncertain when they will be finalized; however, if history is any indication, any final regulations will be challenged in court.  While employers are not required to make any changes to their wellness programs at this time, they should continue to monitor developments and work with employee benefits counsel when designing their wellness programs.  The release of final regulations may be further delayed if the Biden administration freezes new rules pending further review.


About the Authors.  This alert was prepared for Alera Group by Marathas Barrow Weatherhead Lent LLP, a national law firm with recognized experts on the Affordable Care Act.  Contact Stacy Barrow or Nicole Quinn-Gato at sbarrow@marbarlaw.com or nquinngato@marbarlaw.com.

The information provided in this alert is not, is not intended to be, and shall not be construed to be, either the provision of legal advice or an offer to provide legal services, nor does it necessarily reflect the opinions of the agency, our lawyers or our clients.  This is not legal advice.  No client-lawyer relationship between you and our lawyers is or may be created by your use of this information.  Rather, the content is intended as a general overview of the subject matter covered.  This agency and Marathas Barrow Weatherhead Lent LLP are not obligated to provide updates on the information presented herein.  Those reading this alert are encouraged to seek direct counsel on legal questions.

© 2021 Marathas Barrow Weatherhead Lent LLP.  All Rights Reserved. 

Alera Group Acquires Bondar Insurance Group

Posted on January 19th, 2021

Latest Acquisition Expands National Trucking Expertise

Alera Group, one of the nation’s top employee benefits, property and casualty, retirement services and wealth management firms, today announced that it has acquired Bondar Insurance Group, Inc (Bondar), effective January 1, 2021.

Founded in XXXX, Bondar focuses on serving clients through outcome-based, stewardship-oriented solutions. With vertical expertise in trucking, Bondar’s team of experts create solutions that include specialty coverages including cargo/freight, trailer interchange, property and warehousing. The firm is located in Oak Brook, Illinois, and serves clients across the country.

“We are proud to welcome Bondar Insurance Group to Alera Group, and we look forward to the impact of their industry expertise as we grow our property and casualty practice,” said Alan Levitz, CEO of Alera Group. “Alera Group firms across the country will benefit from future collaboration with Bondar Insurance Group, and together, we will continue to enhance the client experience.”

“Becoming an Alera Group company is an exciting step for our firm, and we anticipate significant benefits for our clients through the national resources now available to us,” said Paul Bondar, Managing Partner of Bondar Insurance Group. “The scope of Alera Group’s footprint across the United States positions us to gain additional market access and leverage on behalf of our clients.”

The Bondar Insurance Group team will continue serving clients in their existing roles. Terms of the transaction were not announced.


About Alera Group

Based in Deerfield, IL, Alera Group’s over 2,000 employees serve thousands of clients nationally in employee benefits, property and casualty, retirement services and wealth management. Alera Group is the 15th largest privately held firm in the country. For more information, visit www.jmjwebconsulting.com or follow Alera Group on Twitter: @AleraGroupUS.

Amid Pandemic, Insurance Concerns Add to Restaurants’ Woes

Posted on January 19th, 2021

Aside from healthcare and long-term care, is there an industry that’s been more adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic than the restaurant business? As if restricted capacity, fears of community spread, vacated local offices and a battered economy weren’t enough to endanger independent dining establishments, a hard market for Property and Casualty insurance in general and COVID-related complications to an already troubled Employment Practices Liability (EPL) environment are making privately owned restaurants an endangered species.

How dire are the circumstances? On January 15, New England’s largest newspaper, The Boston Globe, ran a rare front-page advocacy article headlined “IF YOU WANT RESTAURANTS TO STAY, TAKE IT TO GO.” The subtitle: “All of them need our support now, so do your part.”

The situation, of course, is not unique to New England. As the Globe reports:

“The story is the same everywhere, even as the details differ. Independent restaurants are on the ropes. The owners, chefs, servers, line cooks, bartenders and dishwashers who animate them are fighting hard to survive. The pandemic may have slashed seating capacity for customers willing to eat indoors. Winter may have howled down outdoor dining. But these businesses just need to make it a little longer—to the warmer weather, to the vaccine’s full roll-out. They just need to make it to the other side.”

P&C Costs and Risks

Making it to the other side of the pandemic will take more than robust takeout sales. The restaurant industry continues to be persistently vulnerable to EPL lawsuits while also facing rising Property and Casualty insurance rates and/or underwriting scrutiny for lines of coverage including:

  • Commercial Auto, with new or expanded delivery sources increasing exposures;
  • General Liability, particularly Liquor Legal Liability;
  • Umbrella/Excess Liability, thanks primarily to the ever-growing number of EPL-related lawsuits.

Already saddled with heavy Employment Practices Liability premiums resulting from age discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination and other employment-related claims, the industry has continued to see a surge in such cases. COVID-19 has contributed to the surge while also being the primary cause of two employee claims in particular:

  • Failure to take proper steps to reduce health and safety risks
  • Employer discrimination against employees with COVID-19 concerns.

Under these circumstances, EPL insurance remains an essential coverage for most restaurants, with risk management policies and procedures taking on ever greater importance.

Even before the pandemic exerted its full grip on the nation, the insurance industry publication PropertyCasualty360 last March reported on the restaurant industry’s “glaring EPLI coverage gap.”

Outlook for 2021

Here’s a summary of the landscape for the healthcare industry as outlined in Alera Group’s Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook:

Unlikely to see rate decreases: While the sales and payroll for restaurants in General Liability and Workers’ Compensation are decreasing, rate increases, as a result of the current hard insurance market, will offset any exposure decreases for most restaurants.

Little change in availability or capacity: The market for restaurants has always been fairly restrictive. Clients won’t see much change in the number of insurance companies who want this business. Most restaurants will be able to purchase the limits they want; it will be a question of affordability.

New risks to consider: With the advent of COVID-19, owners are vulnerable to new risks from “to-go” alcohol sales and expanded food delivery to claims from customers and employees alleging they contracted the virus while in the restaurant. It’s critical to flag any changes in how your business is operating and to understand how insurance will or won’t provide protection if there is a claim.

Few COVID-19-related claims are being covered by business interruption insurance: Since the virus triggered government-ordered shutdowns in March 2020, judges have dismissed more than four times as many business-interruption lawsuits as they’ve allowed to proceed, according to a preliminary analysis by the University of Pennsylvania Law School. As insurers issue/renew existing policies, most are including COVID-19/contagious disease exclusions.

Increased focus on balance sheets: Given the impact of shutdowns and operating restrictions on revenues, underwriters will be paying close attention to restaurants’ financial strength.

Be mindful of vacancy exposure: It’s important to be aware of vacancy provisions in your policy. Most policies include provisions that exclude or limit coverage once a building becomes vacant. Vacancy is typically defined as having less than 31% of the total square footage in use for conducting customary operations.

There is some good news: The outlook is generally positive for two lines of coverage, Property and Workers’ Compensation. To obtain the entire Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook  whitepaper, click the button below.


What You Can Do

Here’s what you can do…

Fortunately, restaurants aren’t entirely dependent on customer loyalty and takeout-service promotions to endure the pandemic. Proactive measures, including collaboration with trusted advisers and applying for federal assistance, are vital as well.

  • Ensure staff is fully trained on COVID-19 protocol, and strictly enforce all policies and procedures.
  • Consult with your agent/broker to make sure you have adequate limits and sublimits to cover your exposures. Inadequate limits could fail to protect you from a devastating loss.
  • Consult with your financial institution regarding Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guidelines.
  • Apply for assistance through the new forgivable loan program available to small businesses thanks to the recently passed federal stimulus bill.
  • Receive additional guidance on the federal stimulus package and preparations for mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine by viewing the recording of Alera Group’s January 12 webinar, “Relief Bill Overview, COVID-19 Vaccine.”

To view the recording, click the button below.




About the Author

Paul Werner, Senior Account Executive, AIA, Alera Group

Paul  is a Senior Account Executive in the Property & Casualty division of AIA, Alera Group whospecializes in mid-market and large accounts. With 30 years of insurance industry experience , he has built strong, long-lasting relationships with hundreds of clients. Paul takes pride in understanding the business of each client and enjoys his role as an experienced advisor to some of Central Pennsylvania’s top companies and their executives. Providing risk management solutions that are the best-fitting and specific for each of his client’s needs has helped him become a sought-out insurance advisor.


Compliance Matters: Is Our Health FSA an Excepted Benefit?

Posted on January 19th, 2021

Don’t miss our blog series, Compliance Matters! In the blog below, you’ll learn more about the Health FSAs. Download this article.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires healthcare flexible spending accounts (health FSAs) to be considered an “excepted benefit” to avoid being subject to the ACA market reform provisions (e.g., preventive services requirements). In general, there are two requirements for a health FSA to be considered an excepted benefit:

  1. Employees eligible for the health FSA must also be eligible for the employer’s group major medical plan. This is sometimes known as the “footprint rule” – meaning the eligibility rules for the health FSA cannot have a bigger “footprint” than the eligibility “footprint” of the employer’s group major medical plan.
    • e.g., RIN Manufacturing requires employees to work a minimum of 30 hours a week to be eligible for their group major medical plan. Therefore, to comply with the ACA’s excepted benefit requirements, employees must also work a minimum of 30 hours a week to be eligible for their health FSA.RIN’s waiting period for their major medical plan is first of the month following 60 days of employment. Therefore, to satisfy the ACA excepted benefit rules, the waiting period for the health FSA must also be at least first of the month following 60 days of employment.
  2. If the employer contributes to the health FSA, the maximum contribution provided by the employer cannot exceed $500, unless the employer is matching the employee’s contribution dollar for dollar.

An employer who does not offer group health insurance coverage may not offer a health FSA. Likewise, an employer must make available group health plan coverage to all employees whom which they are also offering the health FSA in order to meet the excepted benefit test. An employee does not need to enroll in the major medical plan; however, they do need to be eligible to participate in it.

Under the ACA, an employer providing a health FSA that does not qualify as excepted benefits is a violation of ACA market reforms and the employer could be subject to $100/day per employee penalties under IRC § 4980D.


This content was written by Michelle Turner, MBA, CEBS, Compliance Consultant, Alera Group Central Region. This blog post intends to provide general information regarding the status of, and/or potential concerns related to, current employer HR & benefits issues. This blog should not be construed as, nor is it intended to provide, legal advice. The opinions expressed herein are based upon the author’s experience as a Compliance Consultant and may not reflect the opinions of your counsel.

The information contained herein should be understood to be general insurance brokerage information only and does not constitute advice for any particular situation or fact pattern and cannot be relied upon as such. Statements concerning financial, regulatory or legal matters are based on general observations as an insurance broker and may not be relied upon as financial, regulatory or legal advice. This document is owned by Alera Group, Inc., and its contents may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the written permission of Alera Group, Inc.

This article was last reviewed and up to date as of 01/19/21.

Weekly Wellbeing Resources: Fighting the Winter Blues, Kids & Politics and Free Kindness

Posted on January 18th, 2021

When it comes to wellbeing, employers often find themselves challenged by how to approach a shift from a traditional wellness model to a comprehensive and holistic program that supports the whole person. Below you’ll find this week’s curated list of wellbeing resources.  Feel free to share these resources, as appropriate, with your team. Have a safe and healthy week!

Career Wellbeing

  • Feeling Trapped?  How to Find New Energy at Work – Even if we love what we do, it’s easy to fall victim to the mundanity and routine of our work.  We feel stuck. This article discusses how we can disrupt our patterns in order to break out of the rut.

Social & Family Wellbeing

  • The Psychology Behind Sibling Rivalry – While many siblings have grown closer during the pandemic, the amount of sibling fighting has also grown.  What is the developmental purpose of sibling rivalry and how can parents mitigate it?  This article provides practical tips and the peace of mind that the fighting will end…someday.
  • Inauguration 2021: How to Talk to Your Kids About Politics – If you’ve been on an emotional, politics-fueled rollercoaster in 2020/21, your kids have probably noticed. Life Kit shares a quick primer on how to talk with your kids about politics and civics during this important week.

Financial Wellbeing

  • Expanding and Protecting Your Savings (webinar) – For some, saving is an important routine built into their everyday lives—and they may be looking for ways to save even more on their path toward financial independence.  In this webinar, Principal Financial will talk about additional ways to save if you’ve already maxed out your retirement savings accounts and you’ll learn about the different strategies you may want to consider to help protect your hard-earned income and assets. Wednesday, January 20th at 12 PM ET.

Physical Wellbeing

Emotional Wellbeing

  • 13 Ways to Help Banish the Winter Blues Right Now – With shorter days, colder weather and a global pandemic, it’s easy for the winter blues to set in with symptoms such as moodiness, lethargy or outright depression.  Dr. Frank Lipman shares some tips to point you in a positive direction over the coming months.
  • How to Handle Uncertainty and Feelings of Helplessness – Gabby Bernstein (#1 NY Times Best Selling Author, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach) discusses the methods she uses to reclaim her inner power when the outer world is unsteady.

Community Wellbeing

  • 70 Acts of Kindness That Won’t Cost a Thing – Sometimes life can get ahead of you and you can forget about the smallest things that make you or someone else smile. Showing support for your community, coworkers, family, and yourself can be easy — and cost-effective. Little things like giving a positive review on your coworker’s LinkedIn profile, or donating your unused materials to a shelter can show kindness without you having to spend a dime.

Employer Focused Wellbeing

  • 2021 Key Trends in Supporting Employee Mental Health (webinar) – In 2020, employers worldwide shifted policies and company cultures to respond to urgent workforce mental health needs amid the global pandemic. With more than 80% of U.S. workers reporting mental health challenges, employee mental health will continue to play a crucial part in HR and Benefits strategy in the year ahead.  Join this panel discussion hosted by Lyra to hear expert insights into trends shaping mental health at work in 2021 and actionable tips to implement them in your organization.  Tuesday, January 19th at 1 PM ET.

Employment Practices Insurance in Volatile Times

Posted on January 14th, 2021

On January 12, 2021, the United States recorded a record 4,250 deaths due to COVID-19 while the Trump administration announced an accelerated schedule for administering vaccines to fight the disease. For employers already navigating the novel and challenging landscape created by the coronavirus, volatility surrounding the recent elections, a deeply divided nation and a new administration preparing to take office, the time had come to sharpen focus on a too-often overlooked aspect of running a business: Employment Practices Liability (EPL).

That these developments occurred amid a hard market for property and casualty insurance also served to make the imperative of risk management all the greater.

COVID-19 is the latest in a series of society-altering phenomena that have heightened public consciousness of issues related to employment practices, following closely on the heels of the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. As we reach the midway point of the first month of 2021, these are some areas that underscore the importance of a sound employment practices liability insurance program backed by well-conceived and articulated company policies:

  • Returning to the workplace
  • COVID-19 vaccination
  • Hiring and severance
  • Race, gender, age and religious discrimination
  • Wage and hour enforcement
  • Political speech and activity.

How these company policies are crafted and administered can mitigate the challenges employers face in the current property and casualty/executive liability insurance marketplace.

Outlook for 2021

Here’s a summary of the landscape for the healthcare industry as outlined in Alera Group’s Property & Casualty 2021 Market Outlook:

► While national insurers remain in this market, they are focusing heavily on the impact of COVID-19 on workers. Buyers will likely face price hikes and restrictions in coverages and limits.

► Pandemic-related job losses are causing an increase in employment-related claims that will likely continue into 2021, including:

  • Discrimination claims, whether for age or ADA-defined disability discrimination.
  • Claims arising from employers requiring return-to-work to unsafe conditions.
  • Invasion-of-privacy claims due to employers questioning their travel or families’ health circumstances.

► The pandemic-based surge in claims costs was not contemplated in 2020 pricing, so buyers may experience price increases in the range of 10% to 50% as well as a reduction in limits and increased retention requirements, depending on the type of risk.

Terms and coverages will be limited by some carriers for select risks, for example:

  • Primary policy limits above $5 million will be more difficult to secure, requiring greater use of the Excess market to meet higher limit needs.
  • “Confidential information”-related employment exposures will be excluded from some carriers’ EPLI forms but offered under Cyber Liability policies instead.
  • Violations of the Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) in the form of biometric screening may be excluded by carriers.
  • In an effort to reduce exposure to COVID-19 claims, some carriers have begun to add “Past Acts” exclusions to their policies.

What You Can Do

Protecting your organization with a comprehensive, cost-effective insurance program should be an active process. Here are some steps to include in your business plan for property and casualty coverage:

  1. Make sure you have employment practices liability insurance in place. Most established businesses have had this coverage in place for years. Any new organization that opens its doors without it is potentially leaving itself open to a very costly claim. Businesses don’t hesitate to insure their building or other assets, but they’re far more likely to experience an employment-related complaint that leads to a lawsuit than they are to suffer a fire to a structure, and general liability insurance typically does not cover employment practices liability.Remember: You can do everything right in terms of implementing and enforcing strong employment practices policies yet still be sued. Defense-costs coverage alone makes EPL insurance a necessity for your organization.
  2. Consult with your agent/broker to ensure you have adequate limits and sublimits to cover your exposures. Inadequate limits could fail to protect you from a devastating loss. Having limits in excess of what your organization requires, on the other hand, means failing to contain costs when cost containment may be among your greatest challenges.
  3. Be prepared to demonstrate to underwriters that your policies and procedures reduce the risk of an employment practices lawsuit. This not only will make you more attractive in the marketplace but may also earn you more favorable rates.
  4. Register for Alera Group’s January 25 webinar, “COVID-19 Vaccines and More: Practical Guidance for Employers.” As vaccination ramps up nationally, employers are looking for guidance on applicable policies and procedures. In the webinar, you’ll learn about:
  • Incorporating updated Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and other guidelines into your policies and practices
  • Considerations for developing your policies regarding vaccinations
  • Adapting your short- and long-term remote and onsite workforce strategies.


These are dynamic and demanding times. Alera Group is here to help you work through them – Stronger Together.

About the Author

Alan Goodrich, CPCU, AAI

Commercial Insurance Advisor, HMK Insurance

Involved in Commercial Insurance since 1985, Alan continues to build his book of commercial clients by utilizing his extensive risk management experience and knowledge. Over the years, Alan has developed a significant emphasis on the manufacturing industry, including plastics, metal workers, electronics and foods. Other industries he serves include wholesalers, veterinarians and medical/dental organizations. A Salem (WV) University graduate, Alan has successfully earned the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) and Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI) series industry designations.