combsandco


Dynamic Identification

By:  Sean C. O’Rourke, Cyber Liability Consultant, Combs & Company, LLC

How often do you think about the information contained on a state-issued identification document (such as a driver’s license)?  How about your passport, which is internationally recognized?  The data on your credit card’s magnetic strip?  Pretty sure most people would answer never or infrequently to any or all of these questions, which is why there are folks like James (Jim) Mottola.

Jim spent 26 years at the Secret Service, thinking a lot about identification documents and the information contained – and not contained – on them.  To law enforcement, identification is a vital part of the job.  But with COVID-19, questions about identification data have taken on new forms and urgencies, beyond law enforcement and the ability to get on an airplane or drive a car.  A great many of those questions revolve around health ID’s; documents that could confirm a person has the COVID-19 antibodies, or never tested positive for the virus, or received the proper immunizations before traveling to other parts of the world.

Would a health ID work, especially here in the United States?  If so, how would it work and most importantly, how would you protect the data?  “Dynamic Identification” is a conversation I recorded with Jim to discuss these questions and others.  It’s a topic that touches on every citizen and business.  If interested, just click on the video below.

 



Cyber Insurance 101

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By:  Mitchell R Ledven, Insurance Advisor, Combs & Company, LLC

The current landscape of the U.S. workforce is quite different than it was six months ago. In a world once consumed by daily human interaction, we now find ourselves spending most of our days sitting in front of a screen and talking behind a keyboard. Some may say that this is just a short-term solution to the problem at hand, while others say it will be the way of life moving forward. While we don’t know for certain which answer is correct, we can agree that one thing is for sure and that is every day you log into a computer, there is a risk that someone is out there trying to take advantage of you. That person could be your next door neighbor or a 12-year-old hacker sitting in their parent’s basement on the other side of the globe.  The point of this blog isn’t to shake you out of your boots, but it is to inform you about a way to protect your business and its assets. Enter Cyber Liability Insurance, a coverage that helps protect data and operations of your business if you find yourself the victim of a cyber related attack. Here’s how it works:

Cyber Liability Insurance helps protect your business from losses resulting from online threats. These breaches can be suffered on a 1st and/or 3rd party basis. This is a responsive coverage to help soften the blow due to a cyber-attack.

What it Protects Against:

  • Username and password theft
  • Phishing emails
  • Ransomware/cyber extorsion
  • Defense costs, fines, and penalties
  • Business interruption after a cyber related incident
  • Breach response
  • Funds transfer fraud
  • Crisis management/PR
  • Website is hacked

In a Nutshell: If you store data or have systems connected to the internet, you are exposed to cyber threats.

Is it required?: No. However, all states have laws regarding breach notification. Some states have laws dictating cyber protocols. For example, NY has DFS rule 500 and the SHIELD Act, while California has the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).

 



Feature Friday: A Human Resource Leader’s Guide to Corporate Messaging on Racism – Mike Veny

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Click Here for the original post on The SHRM Blog!

 

As a mental health speaker, much of my work is focused on supporting HR leaders around mental health initiatives. This usually involves addressing the mental health stigma. I’ve learned having uncomfortable and awkward conversations is the critical key to transforming this stigma.

We don’t usually like to have these types of conversations. But they help us reach a place of understanding.

The same is true for navigating racism.

We will only make real and lasting progress in this area when we focus on empathizing with people who have different perspectives than us. It’s important to understand that we’re never going to fully understand someone who is living in a different set of shoes. But we can do our best to have empathy so we can reach a place of connecting better. And ultimately be able to get more done together.

What you need to keep in mind as an HR leader

  • Many people of color are angry, sad and scared right now. Those are difficult emotions that make it hard to focus, communicate and respond to everyday situations. They often stem from not feeling listened to or feeling a lack of control over what’s happening in life.
  • Company words right now need to be more authentic than ever and backed up by action. Your initiative cannot be about meeting the status quo to avoid being a victim of the “cancel culture”.
  • Diversity and Inclusion training needs to be an ongoing, regular part of your work. This will ultimately lead to increased productivity and profitability. You may need to use this angle when talking with your C-level executives about your initiative.
  • Learn to ask the right questions and then listen. Here are some examples:

○    “What do you see happening that I don’t see?”
○    “How do you think you are perceived by the leaders in the company?”
○    “What do you feel we need to be doing that we’re not doing?”
○    Or simply say, “Help me understand.”

Creating effective messaging

Right now, people want to hear what your company stands for. Let them know that you don’t support racism. Share your policies and what the company is doing to prevent it. Then, BE LOUD with your actions showing the follow-through. The more public you are, the more trust you will build if you follow it up with action. Don’t get caught saying one thing and doing another!

Please understand that it’s important to embrace not getting it right. No matter how much you “perfect” your message, there will be people who think you’re saying it wrong or not saying enough. We’re not going to get it just right. But the important thing is making sure that we do our best to understand and empathize with others’ perspectives. It’s really that simple.

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The Lessons I Learned From COVID-19

Original Post:  NAIFA Advisor Today

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“I need to hear something good.”

This is what a friend of mine said to be about 4 years ago, when we were having a trying time in our industry and just needed an influx of positivity.

Fast forward 3 years and some odd months later, I found I was the one who needed to hear something good.  My husband and I both tested positive for Covid-19, and although the symptoms for us were mild, I found myself being the one that was bummed out.  Days upon days of seeing emails about Covid-19 and what to do and what not to do, and suffering from information overload , and I just needed to hear something good….

This made me hit pause and remind myself, “Innovation is born from necessity.” What a bold statement that just rings so true today!

I’m in New York City, the epicenter of Covid-19, and it is definitely not business as usual.

But we have found new ways to connect with family, friends and clients and also support them in ways we never thought possible.

After doing some brainstorming with my peers, these are the things we started to do to feel more connected:

  1. We did not actively sell.  If people come to us and need coverage, we help them.  We got so many calls at  the  beginning of the quarantine from people who had been laid off and were in need of Individual Insurance. – New York City doesn’t pay brokers for their advice; so, instead of our normal $185/hour, we are dropping it down to $100 flat. But we are finding out that we are using more leeway on just answering some general questions from people and pointing them in the right direction without their retaining us.
  2. We reached out in kindness.  We had a lot of prospective clients who were in the process of setting up new group plans or business insurance policies and we reached out just to check on them, tell them we know things have changed, and want them to know that we can pick things up whenever they are ready
  3. You know those 4,712 emails all of us received about Covid-19?  We pulled out a lot of important information from them , put it into one blog posting, and reached out to all our clients with just a “Checking In” email. – We got a positive response from this email and our clients shared with us what they are going through and what they are doing. One client is writing a new book, one is shifting their cooking classes to online classes, and some have created disaster relief funds for their own staff.  So, what we did with these responses was to ask them to share with us links or information, and then we passed that information on to others.
  4. Whenever a client reached out to us about a fund they have created, we made a donation and shared the information on our Social Media accounts.

One of the things I learned from all of this is that you have to let people do things for you, too.  When my brother was sick with cancer when we were kids, the Chaplain at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital told my mother, “You have to be a gracious receiver.” So, I have eaten a little piece of humble pie and let people do for me.

I can’t tell you how many industry friends have reached out to me just to check on me and offer support.  I have had people send us masks, go food shopping for us, and just “Face Timed” with us to see how we are doing.

It’s been amazing to have Zoom dinner parties and Happy Hours and be able to feel connected when we felt like we were on an island.  There are truly so many incredible people in my life, including many men and women in our industry.   These peers of ours are working hard to make an impact on our industry during this difficult time.  They all serve as a shining light in such a dark time, and I am grateful to all of them.

Stay strong, my friends.

Bio:

Susan L Combs, PPACA, ChHC, is president of Combs& Company, LLC, a full-service insurance brokerage firm. She is a past recipient of NAIFA’s Four Under Forty Award, and past president of Women in Insurance and Financial Services.

 



COVID-19 Legal Update: Amendments to PPP Loans

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Thanks to our good friend, Michael Futterman, Partner at McCusker, Anselmi, Rosen & Carvelli, P.C.* for the below helpful information for our clients and friends regarding the amendments to the PPP loans!

On Friday, June 5th, the President signed into law H.R. 7010 which amends several provisions of the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program. In particular, the following changes are effective immediately:

Loan Forgiveness

  • The “covered period” for forgiveness is extended to 24 weeks or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier. This additional time is critical for those businesses which are just now beginning to re-open.
  • The percentage of loan proceeds that must be used for payroll costs was changed from 75% to 60%. Keep in mind, the legislation adds a new wrinkle requiring you to meet this 60% threshold to obtain any forgiveness, as opposed to previously where it was proportional. In other words, you now need to make sure you hit 60%; otherwise there is no forgiveness.
  • The period to restore the number of employees and amount of payroll to qualify for full forgiveness has been extended to December 31, 2020.
  • The reduction penalty no longer applies if the borrower, in good faith, is able to document that:
    • The borrower was unable to rehire a terminated employee and unable to hire a similarly qualified employee to replace the terminated employee;  and
    • The borrower was unable to return to the same level of business activity as before February 15, 2020, due to compliance with guidance issued by Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, during the period from March 1, 2020 until December 31, 2020, related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing or any other worker or customer safety requirements related to COVID-19

Loan Details

  • The time to pay back any unforgiven portion of a PPP loan is increased to 5 years. This is automatic for loans submitted after June 5; pre-existing loans can also be extended to 5 years, but require agreement by the lender.
  • Payment of principal, interest and fees is deferred until “the date on which the amount of forgiveness determined…is remitted to the lender.”
  • Borrowers can now apply for loan forgiveness up to ten months from the day their covered period ends (whichever period is elected); if they fail to do so, no forgiveness will be allowed.

Payroll Taxes

  • Borrowers may defer 50% of the employer share of their 2020 Social Security taxes until end of 2021 and the other half until end of 2022, even if the borrower’s PPP loan is forgiven prior to December 31, 2020 (originally, deferral was not permitted for a borrower with a forgiven PPP loan).

*Attorney Advertising: The foregoing is a summary of the laws discussed above for the purpose of providing a general overview of these laws. These materials are not meant, nor should they be construed, to provide information that is specific to any law(s). The above is not legal advice and you should consult with counsel concerning the applicability of any law to your particular situation.



NY Forward Safety Program Guidance

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Thanks to our good friend, Michael Futterman, Partner at McCusker, Anselmi, Rosen & Carvelli, P.C.* for the below helpful information for our New York clients and friends!

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Each business or entity, including those that have been designated as essential under Empire State Development’s Essential Business Guidance, must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A business may fill out THIS TEMPLATE to fulfill the requirement, or may develop its own Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection. Business owners should refer to the State’s industry-specific guidance for more information on how to safely operate. For a list of regions and sectors that are authorized to re-open, as well as detailed guidance for each sector, please visit: www.forward.ny.gov.  If your industry is not included in the posted guidance but your businesses has been operating as essential, please refer to ESD’s Essential Business Guidance and adhere to the guidelines within this Safety Plan.

Please continue to regularly check the New York Forward site for guidance that is applicable to your business or certain parts of your business functions, and consult the state and federal resources listed below.

Here is a helpful list of things to keep in mind during this time:

  • New York businesses must create a COVID-19 health and safety plan for employees and the public. A template includes provisions for developing physical distancing protocols, providing personal protective equipment to employees, creating hygiene and cleaning protocols, implementing communication practices, creating a COVID-19 screening process, adopting contact tracing protocols, and developing a plan for cleaning and disinfection. It’s also a great resource for NJ businesses.
  • Make sure to implement mandatory health screening assessments including a questionnaire and temperature checks.
  • Limit the total number of employees in the office, enforce 6ft social distancing, and modify/reconfigure the office to allow for social distancing.
  • Provide workers with facemasks at no cost and have an adequate supply in case of need for replacement. Train workers on how to use PPE. Limit the sharing of objects (i.e. tools, machinery, etc.)
  • Adhere to hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements of the CDC and Department of Health. Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations in the office. Clean and disinfect the offices on a routine basis.
  • Communicate, post signage and train employees on COVID 19 issues.
  • Employees who are sick should stay home or return home if they become ill at work.
  • Don’t forget about your leave obligations under FFCRA, Emergency FMLA, New York State COVID-19 leave, New York Paid Family Leave, New York City or Westchester Earned Sick Time, New Jersey Earned sick Leave,  or short-term disability leave
  • Consider a delayed reopening or a slow opening, allowing employees to continue to obtain increased unemployment benefits.
  • Don’t forget about your wage and hour obligations i.e. when you reduce salary/hours, pay wages, furlough employees, have employees work from home, impose temperature checks, pre-shift sanitizing, or daily check-in procedures.

*Attorney Advertising: The foregoing is a summary of the laws discussed above for the purpose of providing a general overview of these laws. These materials are not meant, nor should they be construed, to provide information that is specific to any law(s). The above is not legal advice and you should consult with counsel concerning the applicability of any law to your particular situation.



How to Decide Which Employees to Bring Back from Furlough

Strategizing on how to bring some furloughed employees back?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

 

1. Create a staffing plan that revolves around the needs of the COMPANY first. Ask yourself where you anticipate being busy and where you may be slower. Create a plan accordingly.
2. Choose which staff return based on unique skill sets needed, overall job performance, seniority/tenure, or their willingness to do jobs outside of their normal scope.
3. DO NOT discriminate based on age, perceived disabilities, or by retaliating for taking paid sick leave.

Make sure to DOCUMENT your process ahead of time and COMMUNICATE to your staff your plan to avoid unnecessary stress for everyone.

*REMEMBER TO ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY OR HUMAN RESOURCES VENDOR FOR ADVICE* If you need these types of vendors, we can refer you to them.



PPP Forgiveness Application Process & Documents to Prepare

Here’s a follow up on yesterday’s post, did you get the PPP loan and now you are concerned about the process and what documents you need to prepare in order to have the loan forgiven?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

The CARES Act requires employers to apply for loan forgiveness with the same lender they applied for the PPP loan at the end of the eight-week period following the disbursement of their loan.

When applying for loan forgiveness, employers will need to provide the following information:

  • The total requested amount to be forgiven
  • Documentation verifying the number and pay rate of FTEs on payroll:
    • Payroll tax filings with the IRS
    • State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings
  • Documentation verifying covered mortgage interest, rent or lease obligations, and utilities
  • Certification from an authorized representative for the employer that all supplied documentation is true to the fullest extent possible
  • Certification from an authorized representative for the employer that the amount requested to be forgiven complies with PPP guidelines

After submitting an application, lenders must make a decision on whether an employer’s PPP loan will be forgiven, or how much of the loan will be forgiven, within 60 days. In some cases, a lender may ask for additional information. Employers should monitor their application and pay attention to any requests for additional information. For questions on your company’s loan forgiveness eligibility or application, contact your lender.



Maintain Eligibility for PPP Forgiveness

Did you get the PPP loan and now you are concerned about making sure the loan is fully forgiven?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

U.S. small businesses that were able to secure financial relief through the SBA’s Payroll Protection Program should consider the following to help their cause for qualification of forgiveness of the full principal amount of the loan and any accrued interest:
• Use the loan funds only toward: payroll, including salary, wages, tips and covered benefits for employees; rent or mortgage interest; and utilities.
• Ensure at least 75% of loan funds are allocated for payroll costs.
• Maintain the level of full-time employee (FTE) headcount without reduction during the eight-week covered period.
• Maintain the salaries and wages of your workforce during the eight-week covered period. Any reduction of more than 25% for any employee who makes less than $100,000 will reduce the amount forgiven.
• Preserve proper documentation to support the amount of proceeds used for payroll costs, rent or mortgage, and utilities.
• Prior to June 30, 2020, restore all full-time employment and salary levels back from any reductions made between Feb. 15, 2020, and April 26, 2020. As mentioned above, preserving proper documentation is important, as this information will be used by your lender when evaluating whether an employer qualifies for PPP loan forgiveness.
For more information regarding loan forgiveness eligibility, go to the following link: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/…
Video on how to APPLY for Forgiveness will be released tomorrow!


Employer Checklist: How to Support Workplace Mental Wellness as you Reopen

Mental HealthAs talks of reopening start happening and, as an employer, you begin to make a strategy for what this will look like, Mental Wellness should be in the forefront of your checklist.

Mike Veny, Mental health speaker, drummer and best-selling author shares a powerful checklist on how to support your employees during this time.  This list includes:

1. Change the way you view everyone.

2.  Understand there are different levels of anxiety.

3.  Remember everyone has a unique home situation.

CLICK HERE to download the entire list and advice on how to implement!

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http://www.mikeveny.com

213-458-8369

mike@mikeveny.com

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