combsandco


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.

 



Small Business Exemptions for Paid Sick Leave Explained
Looking for an easy digestible explanation of the exemptions for companies under Paid Sick Leave? Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.
DOL Clarifies Exemptions to Coronavirus Paid Sick Leave Laws
– Less than 50 employees
– Leave is requested because the child’s school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons
– An authorized officer of business has determined that at least one of the 3 conditions described below have been met:
1) The provision would result in small business’s expenses and financial obligations to exceed available business revenue and cause business to cease operating at minimal capacity
2) The employee requesting leave has a specific set of skills and knowledge that without it, the business’s financial and operational health is severely threatened
3) There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing and qualified to perform duties of person requesting leave and this would not allow business to operate at minimal capacity.
DOL is encouraging employers and employees to work together to find a solution during this time that allows the business to be maintained as well as the safety of employees.

 

 

 



Staying Healthy During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Just some quick tips to stay healthy during the Covid-19 Pandemic!



Financing and Loan Options to Weather Covid-19 Crisis

moneyAs we know there is so much information out there right now.  If you are looking for different ways to find funding during the Covid-19 Pandemic, please read below for a helpful article written by Sally Anne Hughes of Hughes Klaiber.

 

Over the past few days, we have been gathering information on financing and loan sources to help companies weather the COVID-19 crisis. Here are some general thoughts and recommendations. We will add to this as more information becomes available.

1. Banks.

Unlike 2008, banks currently have strong balance sheets. Therefore they are potentially well positioned to help businesses with liquidity issues.

  • First step, call your existing banks and lenders.  Your existing banker may be the best option for access to additional credit, to extend or reinstate a line of credit. If you have not already done so, call your banker.
  • If you have any existing debt, and your business has been impacted by COVID-19, you may be able to defer payments. Most major banks are offering deferrals on debt for 90 days. On March 21, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order stating that banks (those subject to the jurisdiction of the NYS Department of Financial Services) must grant a forbearance to any person or business facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic for 90 days. If they do not, it would be deemed “an unsafe and unsound business practice.”
  • The bank is going to want a story as to how you plan to come out of this. Put together a plan now.
  • Here are sites for various banks on the Coronavirus response, numbers to call, etc.:

2. State, local and community loan programs.

  • NYC has a range of programs: click here
  • Here is an option for certain NYC neighborhoods:  click here
  • There is also a program for business in Philadelphia: click here
  • Los Angeles micro loan program: click here

3. Small Business Administration (SBA).

  • In normal times, SBA loans (including 7(a) and 504 loans) are issued by banks, and the loans are guaranteed by the SBA if the borrower defaults.
  • An SBA disaster loan is issued directly by the SBA, for counties that are declared disaster zones, which includes all of NYC and most surrounding areas. Here is the site for the SBA disaster loan application. https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/  You may want to access the site during off-off hours, it has been slow and down for maintenance. Rates are 3.75%. Disaster loans are capped at $2 million. They cannot be used to acquire fixed assets or to pay back shareholder loans. TBD how long a disaster loan will take to get approved. The SBA is supposedly rolling out a new processing system with a large mortgage processor on Monday, March 30, that will take application time down to 3-5 days. The SBA is also providing daily webinars on how to apply. Check here.
  • The relief package passed by the Senate on March 25 2020), the CARES Act, includes major modifications to the 7(a) loan program, designed to help small businesses meet their ongoing expenses and keep employees on payroll. The portion of the loan that is used for payroll and debt obligations may be forgiven, subject to reductions if number of employees is reduced compared to last year. Funds used for other purposes must be repaid.
  • The maximum amount available under this program is the lesser of a) 2.5x the average monthly payroll total; or b) $10 million.
  • This legislation still needs to go to the House and be signed by the President.
  • TBD what provisions will be included to support business owners who have a previously issued SBA loan.
  • There is a provision in the act that provides payment deferment relief on 7(a) loans for a period of not more than one year. TBD how this will play out.
  • This program will administered through bank lenders, not directly through the SBA. Another reason to call your banker.
  • Every impacted business owner who thinks they may need to access this program can prepare now by setting up a data room with all of the typical information a bank will need, so that you can quickly provide it to your banker when the program is up and running. Information to pull together should include a description of how their business has been impacted in terms of revenues, current cash position, detail of costs you have been able to or are trying to cut (rent included), detailed schedule of the monthly expenses of the business, payroll information, plus three years business tax returns, 12/31/2019 year end financials, business debt schedule, entity documents, and copies of leases.
  • You may not be able to get BOTH a disaster loan and a 7(a) loan if they are both to be used for payroll purposes.

4. Facebook Small Business Grants Program: Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to businesses experiencing disruptions as a result of COVID-19. The application is not yet live, but you can sign up to receive information here.

5. Factoring. Several factor companies are currently providing accounts receivable and purchase order financing. Although fees will vary, the cost associated with factoring is likely to be significantly higher than most other type of financing. However, you may be able to get financing in 5-7 days, with less paperwork. Find out if you can pick and choose which accounts to sell and which invoices to finance, and if there are minimum size requirements.

Please contact us at info@hughesklaiber.com for any help, updates and introductions to lenders we know and have worked with. Please bear in mind that this information is evolving. Please check with us or your banker for any recent updates and changes to this information.



Carrier Benefits Coronavirus (Covid-19) Chart
syringe and pills with petri dish

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

As we have been getting several clients that have been reaching out and asking on what would be covered under their health insurance in terms of testing and treatment we wanted to share this helpful chart identifying what the Fully Insured carriers will be doing that our General Agent, Savoy Associates published.

Feel free to reach out with any questions, and remember….WASH YOUR HANDS!

Carrier Benefits Coronavirus Chart

 



Wonder Woman Wednesday: What’s the Good News, Ladies?

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This is a special edition of “What’s the Good News, Ladies?” because I get to toot my horn a little and highlight some great women!  Last month, I mentioned I was getting ready to go to the Women in Insurance & Financial Services (WIFS) National Conference and I’m ecstatic to report that I was awarded the organization’s highest honor: the Woman of the Year award!  I was beyond thrilled and honored to be selected by my peers for this prestigious award from an organization that’s mission is to attract, develop and advance women in our industry.

While I was there, I got to meet Christine, Claudia and Kate. These fine women were the three finalists for the WIFS Fast & Furious session, where they are given 45 seconds to share their best business practice that has helped take their business to the next level.  Click here to continue reading and to be inspired!

 



WIFS LeadHER Blog – Finding Your Tribe

Tribe

Growing up in a town of fewer than 1,000 people in the northwest corner of Missouri I always had a sense of who I was and where I was from. Yet, when I moved to New York City, fresh-faced and fancy free right out of college, the realization that there were more people on my subway train each morning on my way to work than in King City, Missouri was a little daunting at times.

 
My father encouraged me to “find my tribe” and look up the University of Missouri Alumni Chapter in NYC after getting settled. He explained to me that I would have an instant connection with these people as we had a common bond of the University, and that we would just “get” each other without having to explain a whole lot. And they would also know that Missouri is in the center of the US, something that New Yorkers still seem to have trouble locating when I tell them where I’m from.

 
Fast forward about five years when I became fully immersed in the insurance and financial services industry, one that I feel has incredible opportunities for women, yet we still hover around 14 percent of the industry. It was very apparent that I needed to find a new “tribe,” one that would just “get” me in this aspect of my life. I found this with WIFS.

 

Click Here to read the rest of the story!

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Charity Profile – Girls Inc

Combs & Co Logo 11-16 (2)Combs & Company’s last charity shout out of the season for 2017 is for Girls Inc!  The network of local Girls Inc. nonprofit organizations serves girls ages 6-18 at more than 1,400 sites in 400 cities across the United States and Canada. Their research-based programming is delivered by trained professionals who focus on the development of the whole girl, supporting, mentoring, and guiding girls in an affirming, pro-girl environment.  There, girls learn to value their whole selves, discover and develop their inherent strengths, and receive the support they need to navigate the challenges they face.

Girls Inc. girls live healthy and active lifestyles and are less likely to engage in risky behavior; they are eager to learn, successful in school, and more likely to graduate from post-secondary education; and they display diligence, perseverance and resilience.



Charity Profile – BeadforLife

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Combs & Company has been a supporter of BeadforLife for the past 3 years and continues to be fascinated at all they do!

Check out an excerpt from their website as they tell their story best!

“Paper bead jewelry was only the beginning. We could have stayed the course, working with one group of women to create fair trade products that we could sell for them in the U.S. market – but we had bigger dreams. We created an entrepreneurial business training program, giving women living in poverty the skills and confidence they need to go out and create their own local businesses before they graduate. Salons, shoe stores, and produce stands are cropping up in Uganda and women are making money and living out their dreams. Not only do they have income, but now they have the confidence to be sustainable business women – meeting their own needs and creating a generation of confident and capable children.

But we haven’t stopped there. We’ve taken the best parts of that original business program and created The Street Business School. These savvy women don’t make products (for us), they make progress! They are women who have dreamed of running successful businesses, and that’s exactly what they do when they graduate, only six months later! See the impact.

Now we’re taking this proven poverty eradication program to the world! We will partner with organizations around the globe to share our program, so that we can ignite the lives of one million women!”

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Charity Profile – iMentor

Combs & Co Logo 11-16 (2)Mentorship is very near and dear to our hearts at Combs & Company, that’s why we are supporting iMentor this holiday season.  iMentor builds mentoring relationships that empower first-generation students from low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions.

Looking to give some love?  There’s a lot to love with iMentor!