Tag Archives: insurance

Employer Retirement Plans in Phoenix, Ariz.

Do You Have Insurance on Retirement Plan?

You have insurance on your home, your car, your health.

How about your retirement plan?

“People have homeowners insurance to protect against fires and floods,” notes independent financial planner Stephen Ng, founder and president of Stephen Ng Financial Group. “They buy insurance to replace their car if it gets wrecked and they buy health insurance to protect themselves from medical costs.

“But for many people, their biggest material asset is their retirement portfolio. When I look at a new client’s portfolio and ask, ‘Where’s your insurance?’ they look at me like I’m crazy!”

Insure your retirement fund by taking steps to safeguard at least a portion of it, Ng says. As you get closer to retiring, the amount you safeguard will be what you need to rely on for your retirement income.

“Your retirement income should be derived from guaranteed sources, such as Social Security benefits and your pension plan,” says Ng, a licensed 3(21) fiduciary advisor, certified to advise companies about their 401(k) and other retirement plans. “It’s the amount you need to pay the bills and do the other things you hope to do in retirement, so your retirement income needs to be a guaranteed source of income.

“Then you look for your ‘play checks.’ That’s the money you don’t absolutely have to have, so you can still try to grow it, and take risks with it, in the market.”

Ng offers these tips for insuring your retirement plan:

• Invest a portion of your portfolio in annuities.
Annuities are long-term investment options through insurance companies that guarantee you payments over a certain rate of time, which could be the rest of your life or the life of your spouse or other survivor. Note: The guarantee is subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

• If you leave your job, quickly roll your employer-sponsored 401(k) into an IRA.
While 401(k)s are a great tool for saving, particularly if your employer is providing matching funds, if you were to die, the taxes your survivors would pay on your 401(k) would be much higher than on an IRA. That’s because they would have to inherit the money in a lump sum – that could easily take 35 percent right off the top. The lump-sum rule does not apply to IRAs. While your spouse would have the option to inherit your 401(k) as an IRA, your children would not. So, take advantage of your employer-sponsored 401(k), but if you leave the company, convert to an IRA or ROTH IRA. You can also begin transferring your 401(k) funds to an IRA at age 59½.

• Consider converting your IRA to a ROTH IRA.
For protection from future income tax rate increases, you should consider slowly converting your tax-deferred IRA funds into a ROTH IRA. Yes, you’ll have to pay the taxes now on the money you transfer, but that will guarantee that withdrawals in your retirement are not taxed – even as the money grows. If you plan to leave at least part of your IRA to your children, they’ll benefit from a fund that continues to grow tax-free.

law

Jaburg Wilk Expands Insurance, Commercial Litigation Practices

Adam M. Weiler and Aaron K. Haar have joined the Phoenix business law firm Jaburg Wilk as attorneys to expand the Insurance and Commercial Litigation practice groups.

Adam M. Weiler has worked in general insurance defense litigation for most of his career. He handles a variety of tort defense litigation with an extensive background including representation of insurance companies in first party matters as well as representation of insureds in third party tort lawsuits. He worked as in-house counsel at a major insurance company for several years handling tort and personal injury litigation, probate matters, wrongful death and subrogation matters. Prior to starting in private practice, he worked as a law clerk at the Maricopa County Attorney’s office in the homicide, vehicular crimes and preliminary hearings bureaus.

Before attending law school, Aaron K. Haar worked in the commercial real estate industry, spending two years in finance and two more in asset management. He attended law school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law, where he served as symposium editor on law review and as president of the Federalist Society. In law school, he externed for the Honorable Gregg W. Zive on the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada and for the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix. Mr. Haar was recognized with a Dean’s Award for outstanding contribution to the law school.

“Adam and Aaron are great additions to our firm,” said Gary Jaburg, Managing Partner of Jaburg Wilk, “They will be a valuable resource for all Jaburg Wilk clients.”

Jaburg Wilk is an AV rated Phoenix law firm, the highest level of professionalism according to the Martindale-Hubbell.

140007839

BCBSAZ, CPLC educate Arizonans about healthcare reform

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) and Chicanos Por la Causa, Inc. (CPLC) announced a joint effort  to help educate Arizonans about the healthcare reform law. Together the organizations aim to reach those who likely haven’t had insurance in the past and may not understand how the law will benefit them.

With a combined 117 years in the Valley, BCBSAZ and CPLC have a long history and shared commitment to the community. In the days ahead, the organizations are teaming up to:
· Make bilingual healthcare reform advisors available.
· Host healthcare reform education events.
· Conduct shared media opportunities with Hispanic outlets.
· Identify ongoing education opportunities.

“Working with CPLC, we’ll serve Arizonans in every corner of the state by providing resources and tools needed to make smart decisions in a time when healthcare is changing greatly,” said Richard L. Boals, president and CEO for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “The open enrollment period gives Arizonans a chance to research their options and learn more about the value health insurance plays in keeping our communities healthy.”

“As one of Arizona’s largest social services organization, we are always looking for new opportunities to expand our service and support those who are historically underserved. Healthcare is a fundamental need and helping individuals understand how the Affordable Care Act impacts their lives and the best way to get coverage is our goal,” said Edmundo Hidalgo, CPLC President and CEO. Working with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, we have the opportunity not only to educate the community, but assist individuals in getting health insurance through local, personalized service.”

Healthcare reform open enrollment begins October 1 and runs through March 31, 2014. Within Arizona it is estimated that 480,000 people will be eligible for financial assistance. If a person is eligible for a subsidy, they must purchase their health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the exchange. Health insurance plans can also be purchased directly through a broker or BCBSAZ.

More healthcare reform information can be found in English at azblue.com or in Spanish at salud.azblue.com. BCBSAZ representatives can be reached at (877) 874-9958.

legal

Richardson Joins Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner As Partner

Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. announced that Scott J. Richardson has joined the firm as a partner.  He will focus on insurance and pest control regulatory issues.

“Scott is widely viewed as one of the foremost experts in Pest Control and Landscape regulatory matters not only in Arizona but across the nation”, said Randy Nussbaum, Managing Partner of Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner P.C.  “We’re excited that Scott has agreed to join our team and that he is helping us grow our practice areas to include insurance and pest control regulatory issues.”

“Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner is a growing firm that is the perfect fit for me as I continue to expand my client base, many of which are in the pest control industry,” said Richardson.  “I’m excited to join this talented team of legal professionals.”
Richardson will continue to serve as Counsel and lobbyist to the Arizona Pest Management Association.  An author of numerous articles and books related to the pest-control industry, he also teaches courses approved for credit by the Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission.

Richardson is a member of The National Pest Management Association, The Arizona Pest Professionals Organization, Arizona Landscape Contractors Association, and The Arizona Pest Management Association and was recently an Executive Council Member of the Administrative Law Section of the Arizona State Bar.

He is also active in his local school district and was Founder of the Horizon High School Booster Club, Founding Board Member of the Paradise Valley Education Foundation, Founder of Farewell Fiesta (an all-night drug and alcohol free party for Horizon High School graduates, attended annually by 1000 students and now in its 21st year), and Chairman of the Foundation for Public Education in the Paradise Valley School District.

Richardson earned his J.D. from DePaul University in 1974.

legal

Richardson Joins Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner As Partner

Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. announced that Scott J. Richardson has joined the firm as a partner.  He will focus on insurance and pest control regulatory issues.

“Scott is widely viewed as one of the foremost experts in Pest Control and Landscape regulatory matters not only in Arizona but across the nation”, said Randy Nussbaum, Managing Partner of Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner P.C.  “We’re excited that Scott has agreed to join our team and that he is helping us grow our practice areas to include insurance and pest control regulatory issues.”

“Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner is a growing firm that is the perfect fit for me as I continue to expand my client base, many of which are in the pest control industry,” said Richardson.  “I’m excited to join this talented team of legal professionals.”
Richardson will continue to serve as Counsel and lobbyist to the Arizona Pest Management Association.  An author of numerous articles and books related to the pest-control industry, he also teaches courses approved for credit by the Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission.

Richardson is a member of The National Pest Management Association, The Arizona Pest Professionals Organization, Arizona Landscape Contractors Association, and The Arizona Pest Management Association and was recently an Executive Council Member of the Administrative Law Section of the Arizona State Bar.

He is also active in his local school district and was Founder of the Horizon High School Booster Club, Founding Board Member of the Paradise Valley Education Foundation, Founder of Farewell Fiesta (an all-night drug and alcohol free party for Horizon High School graduates, attended annually by 1000 students and now in its 21st year), and Chairman of the Foundation for Public Education in the Paradise Valley School District.

Richardson earned his J.D. from DePaul University in 1974.

veterans

USAA CEO Named Executive of the Year

Hiring and helping our veterans is as important today as it’s been at any other time in history. USAA’s chief executive officer will discuss how to assist veterans as they transition to civilian life when he’s honored for his achievements on April 25.

Ret. Maj. Gen. Josue “Joe” Robles served for 28 years in the U.S. Army. He now serves as president and chief executive officer of USAA, a Fortune 500 financial-services provider for members of the military and their families. This month, Robles becomes the 30th annual Executive of the Year chosen by the Dean’s Council of 100, a national group of prominent executives who advise the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

“Robles has set a superb example in serving both his country and his customers,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Amy Hillman. “USAA is known for exceptional customer service and for aiding our active-duty military members, veterans and their families. We’re proud to honor these efforts.”

USAA provides insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services to 9.6 million members of the U.S. military and their families. The organization is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. It was founded in 1922 and now employs more than 25,000 people at offices around the world, including one in the Phoenix area.

Robles was a USAA board member from 1990 to 1994, while he was still on active duty in the Army. His stellar armed-forces resume includes command and staff positions in Korea, Vietnam, Germany, and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Middle East. He has received many honors, including the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. He also served as commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division (the oldest division in the U.S. Army, also known as “The Big Red One”) and director of the Army budget prior to joining USAA in 1994 as chief financial officer. He became president and CEO in 2007. This new recognition adds to his full shelf of awards.

“I couldn’t be more honored, especially in a community that’s so important to USAA and our mission,” Robles said. “As a veteran myself, I am looking forward to discussing how we can help members of the military transition into civilian careers.”

Robles was named the “No. 1 Veteran in Business” by The Christian Science Monitor in 2009. Among other honors, he also received the Horatio Alger Award for being a dedicated community leader, committed to excellence. He serves on several boards, including the American Red Cross Board of Governors and the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ San Antonio branch.

The event to honor Robles will be held Thursday, April 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort in Scottsdale. The W. P. Carey School of Business Dean’s Council of 100 chose Robles to follow previous high-profile winners, including Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Inc.; Howard Schultz, chairman and chief executive officer of Starbucks Coffee Company; and Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company.

This event is part of the Economic Club of Phoenix speaker series. For more information about the club or to reserve seats, call (480) 727-0596 or visit www.econclubphx.org.

Arizona SciTech Festival - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Arizona House panel OKs high-tech tax credits

An Arizona House committee has given initial approval to a bill that sets up a tax credit for insurance companies who invest in a new high-tech fund overseen by the Arizona Commerce Authority.

The bill sponsored by Republican House Speaker Andy Tobin gives insurers a credit against premium taxes they would owe of up to $10 million in the budget year beginning July 1 and $20 million in the next two years.

Tobin says the credit will prompt investment in biotechnology, semiconductors, electronics or other high-tech businesses.

It is one of two tax credit bills he is pushing that expand or create new tax credits. Tobin contends they will spur economic growth.

The bill passed the Commerce Committee Wednesday on a 7-2 vote with two Republicans opposing Tobin’s bill.

Keep Workers Working

Workers’ Compensation: 3-Headed Dragon for Employers

Workers’ Compensation insurance has become a hot topic, as several recent changes have made this business expense more costly and cumbersome. Companies are facing three primary challenges:

  1. HARD MARKET – higher pricing from insurance carriers
  2. INCREASED (NCCI)  RATES – percentage growth varies by state
  3. EXPERIENCE MODIFIER RULE CHANGES  – adjustments in the primary-excess split point could increase experience modifiers & related costs 

HARD MARKET

For the last 8 years, most businesses have experienced a ‘soft market’, with decreasing insurance rates and increased capacity. In that marketplace combined ratios reached a 10-year high of 117% in 2011, their worst level in 10 years. With significantly less profitability, insurers have reacted to reverse this trend by increasing pricing and reducing available capacity.

David H. Long the CEO of Liberty Mutual, one of the largest providers of workers’ compensation in the world, said that the national rate “increases in the second quarter [of 2012] were in line with increases seen in the first quarter – up about 9 percent.” He also added that “much more is needed for us and the industry to become profitable in that line [workers’ compensation].” Similarly, a survey conducted by the Towers Watson Group found that the ongoing commercial insurance price increase is the largest in eight years, with workers’ compensation and commercial property experiencing the largest price adjustments.

INCREASED (NCCI) RATES

The vast majority of states have approved significant Workers’ Compensation rate increases for 2013. For example, the construction industry rate increase for my home state of Arizona is 6.4%, with an overall increase of 4%. Similarly, Colorado will see a 5.2% overall increase, while Florida and Iowa will experience increases of 6.1% and 7.9% respectively.

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER RULE CHANGES

As you have likely heard from your broker or risk manager, NCCI has changed the experience rating formula – thus potentially altering employers’ experience modifiers (also known as an E-mod or Ex-mod) and directly affecting workers’ compensation premiums. The primary-excess split point, which is the claim amount at which the burden is lessened in regards to your E-mod, will be increased over a three year transition period. Beginning in 2013, it will move from $5,000 to $10,000, and then increase incrementally to $13,500 in 2014, and $15,000 in 2015. The key rationale for this change pertains to claims inflation and the fact that NCCI did not previously shift the split point to mirror actual claims data. It has been over two decades since the last split point update, whereas the cost of claims has more than tripled during that time frame.

How this will affect your organization depends on whether you have an above or below average number of losses under the split point. If the majority of your claims are less than $5,000 (the current split point) you will likely see a decreased E-mod. Conversely, if many of your claims are greater than $5,000 you should expect an increased E-mod. In a nut-shell, this new rule change will result in a wider range of E-mods, extrapolating them from the average (1.0). Experience modifiers greater than 1.0 (aka – debit mods) will likely increase, causing higher premiums. Conversely, experience modifiers less than 1.0 (aka – credit mods) will likely decrease, causing lower premiums.

CONCLUSION

In summary, the Workers’ Compensation market is hardening considerably. With the additional impact of increased NCCI rates in many states, and E-mod rule changes, challenges will persist for the foreseeable future. The only way to secure protection from this three-headed dragon that is Workers’ Compensation is to have a plan to reduce and control claims exposures, thus minimizing the effect of these new rules and rates.  Now is the time to have a proactive strategy with a team, of either in-house or outside experts that will keep a strong focus on safety, claims management and your return to work programs.

J. Michael Schmidt, CRM, CIC, CLCS is a Certified Risk Manager and Insurance Broker for Hub International Insurance and can be reached at michael.schmidt@hubinternational.com or on Twitter: @SafeWorkProgram

 

merger

USI Insurance Services Acquires Wick Pilcher Insurance

USI Insurance Services (“USI”) announced the closing of the acquisition of Wick Pilcher Insurance, Inc. based in Phoenix. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Formed in 1992, Wick Pilcher Insurance provides comprehensive insurance programs for all facets of employee benefits, commercial and personal risk. By combining the existing USI office in Phoenix with Wick Pilcher Insurance, USI becomes one of the largest middle-market insurance brokerage firms in the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area.

Thomas R. Lewis, USI’s regional CEO for the West, said, “I am very excited to be expanding and merging our existing operations in Phoenix under Wick’s leadership. Wick and his team have been providing clients competitive pricing and outstanding service for more than 20 years. We are partnering with an experienced staff that truly understands all aspects of the mid-market insurance business. Their reputation for being proactive in analyzing and developing effective programs is a perfect complement to USI’s resource-intensive, consultative strategy of delivering economically justified results to risk and employee benefit challenges. I couldn’t be more pleased to have Wick and his team join us.”

“We look forward to partnering with USI,” said William “Wick” W. Pilcher, II, president and CEO of Wick Pilcher Insurance. “The Pilcher legacy of placing our client’s needs above all else remains our primary goal. I continue to be committed to our clients, our employees and our company, today as well as in positioning ourselves for the future.”

Wick Pilcher Insurance is a second generation independent insurance agency with more than 20 years experience. The Pilcher family has been in the insurance industry since 1950, providing insurance solutions to businesses and individuals throughout Arizona. Competitive pricing, professional team members and exceptional individualized client services set the agency apart from its competitors.