combsandco


College Prep in 2020: Covid GO Bag
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Originally Posted by:  Evelyn Gellar
If you have a child going to college, have them pack an emergency COVID-19 bag in case they test positive and have to quarantine.
In these uncertain times, the possibility exists that your child may test positive, and have to leave his or her dorm for a quarantine location. It’s probably a VERY GOOD idea to have a pre-packed quarantine bag in his or her closet. It would be so much easier to ask a roommate to grab “the blue Nike bag in my closet and my laptop” than to try to figure out what he or she will want/need for two weeks.
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COVID-19 QUARANTINE GO BAG:
  • Extra cell phone charger
  • List of important peoples’ phone numbers written out,
  • List of any allergies
  • 2 or more complete changes of comfy clothes: sweats, PJ Pants, T’s, Fuzzy Socks
  • Fleece throw (take the tiniest one in the house and squish it into an XL Baggie, then force the extra air out.)
  • Thermometer
  • Body Lotion/baby oil
  • Feminine Hygiene,
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste,
  • Shampoo/Conditioner,
  • Hair comb/brush, Hair Ties
  • Cough Drops
  • Tylenol to bring fever down, help with aches
  • Vicks VapoRub
  • Prescription medications (optional Mucinex DM or Robitussin Cough & Chest Congestion)
  • Tissues
  • Snacks
  • A few Masks
  • Some sort of distraction-even a coloring book and crayons or a deck of cards,
  • Powdered Gatorade to mix in water.
Good luck to all of the college students and also to their parents!
Stay healthy.


The Lessons I Learned From COVID-19

Original Post:  NAIFA Advisor Today

TellMeSomthingGood

“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

NY Forward

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!

_________________

http://www.mikeveny.com

213-458-8369

mike@mikeveny.com

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Working from Home Guide

Most people are working from home these days due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. In order to make work more efficient it’s important to follow these steps in order to be most productive.

1. Follow your standard routine.
2. Set up a special workspace.
3. Use video calls to keep in touch.
4. Use task management to keep track of progress.
5. Do not stay in the same position for too long.
6. Make sure to exercise everyday.
7. Find what helps you concentrate.
8. Look after your mental health.



Feature Friday: Business As (Un)usual?

Business as un-usual

Business As (Un)usual?

Guest Blogger:  Kevin Trokey
Original Post:  Click Here

I recently posted an observation on LinkedIn. In one 24-hour period . . .

  • We entered a bear market.
  • A significant travel ban from Europe was imposed.
  • The NBA suspended its season while the NCAA announced March Madness would be played in empty arenas (talk about surreal).
  • And, what may have been at the top of the surreal scale on any other day, a former vice-presidential candidate (Sarah Palin) sang “Baby Got Back” on “The Masked Singer.”

Of course, that surreal 24 hours has grown into an exponentially more surreal week with no end to the escalation in sight.

The questions are endless, personally and professionally. In that post, I offered some suggestions to maintain SOME level of personal grounding. I suggested we all . . .

  • Sit in 10 minutes of meditation
  • Go for a walk
  • Read something for pure enjoyment
  • Call a friend and have a nostalgic conversation (i.e., nothing about current events)
  • Just do something to restore a sense of sanity and control to your day

I encouraged us to all – Be safe. Be smart. Be balanced.

I feel these suggestions are still solid but, given the events of the 72 hours or so that have transpired since then, they only begin to touch on the significance of what we are experiencing. This is a much more significant health crisis than we knew even that short time ago. It seems clear we still don’t just how significant it will prove to be.

It cannot be denied; we are all being impacted personally.

But, what about professionally?

At the risk of seeming impersonal and insensitive, what about our businesses? What adjustments do we need to be making?

We see many government-imposed changes. Restaurants and bars are being closed or put on restricted operations. Schools are being closed or moved online. Gatherings of more than 10 (as of this writing – it was 50 when I started) are being canceled or postponed.

Beyond the government-imposed restrictions, many businesses that rely on “social proximity” (I know, not necessarily the right use of this phrase, but I mean the opposite of social distancing) have chosen to close on their own.

I understand the need to protect health and life at all costs, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about the long-term business implications of these decisions. How many businesses will fail? How many employees of closed businesses will never recover financially? Again, these aren’t life and death questions (in most cases), but they’re still very real.

A business “gray” area?

And, what about businesses that are either already virtual and remote in their operations or are capable of performing at least some activities without threat to others? By maintaining some “new normal” level of business operations, do they run the risk of appearing insensitive? Or, is it maybe their responsibility to continue operations?

Before I share my thoughts, you should know that our entire business operation runs virtually and remotely. Each of our team members works individually in their own office space. We are among the “socially-distanced elite” in that regard. While this arrangement does present limitations, it has prepared us for where we are today. Over the next few days/weeks, we’ll be sharing some tips that have helped us build a successful business this rather unusual way.

Here’s my perspective and opinion.

  • If a behavior puts anybody else at risk, it needs to be changed. The physical health of everyone has to be our number one priority.
  • I believe our mental health has to be a very close second to our physical health. For me, that means maintaining daily activities that are as close to normal as possible. Sure, we may have to work from home instead of going into the office but, if that’s possible, I feel it is way healthier than not working at all.
  • Finally, we will come out of this and, when we do, we need businesses to be as strong as possible. That can’t be the case if we bring everything to a complete halt.

So, what will I be doing personally?

  • I will be aware of my physical movements and the effects they have on others.
  • I will be respectful of the decision others may make to more drastically curtail their business operations.
  • I will continue to work/live as much of an uninterrupted daily life as is responsibly possible.
  • I will be understanding of those who have a different opinion than mine.

What about us as Q4intelligence?

Our role is to help our clients build stronger businesses, and we’re finding there are a lot of needs right now to that end. We’re helping our agencies make decisions and take actions in the best interests of their own businesses and the lives of their clients. So, our work isn’t slowing down.

  • We hope you aren’t offended when you see us active on LinkedIn.
  • We hope you aren’t shocked when you see our blog posts pop up in your inbox on Mondays and Thursdays.
  • We hope you don’t mind when we respond to your inquiry.
  • We hope you understand the spirit in which we will be working for the foreseeable future.
  • We hope you know how much we are thinking about you during this unprecedented time.

Above all else, we hope for your health, safety, and balance.

Photo baranq.