Article by: Kim Daigle
President/CEO – Insurance Trust
Does your credit union currently offer an early retirement executive compensation package that includes health insurance coverage?
You need to be aware that just because you were offered an early retirement package by your credit union’s Board of Directors does not mean that it is necessarily compliant with the organization’s current or future health insurance companies’ provision for retired employees.
Over the last 3 years, I’ve discovered that many credit unions’ executive compensation plans do not align with the insurance companies’ policies. To qualify for your employers’ health insurance coverage, you must be working the minimum number of hours to remain on the active group plan. This will vary but minimum hours are dictated by each carrier and your plan documents and must be consistent for all employees.
If you plan to retire before age 65 and have an executive compensation package from your Board of Directors that includes health insurance coverage, you NEED to ask the following questions:
- Does your current or future health insurance company offer retiree coverage for those retiring under age 65?
- Just because your employer keeps you on the active group plan doesn’t mean you are eligible for coverage. If your credit union keeps you on the active group plan and your current or future health insurance does not allow retired employees under age 65 on the active group health insurance plan, you’re not eligible for coverage.
- If your health insurance carrier does allow under age 65 retirees to stay on the active group health insurance plan, make sure you get this in writing from your health insurance carrier including the parameters in which they allow an under age 65 retiree to be on the current plan.
- If your health insurance plan does not allow you to be on the active group health insurance plan under 65, here are the options you have:
- If your credit union is large enough to be COBRA eligible (20+ FTE or in a MEWA), this would allow for coverage for 18 months from your retirement and end date on the active plan.
- If COBRA will expire prior to turning age 65, you can then enroll in an individual marketplace health insurance plan through healthcare.gov until you become eligible to enroll in Medicare. These plans are offered on the “exchange” but can be quite costly since it based off your current age.
- If your credit union is not large enough to be COBRA eligible, you can enroll in the individual marketplace health insurance through healthcare.gov.
- Your employer CAN contribute to the cost of your COBRA coverage AND/OR your individual marketplace health plan coverage.
Insurance Trust uniquely understands credit unions and Employee Benefits. Please utilize our agency as a resource to help make sure your executive compensation package is compliant.
Article by: Heather Baird
Account Manager – Employee Benefits
This is for the other working mamas, dads, and caregivers out there.
Going into 2020 none of us could have foreseen the changes our lives have endured over the last year. The terms of the year have included “unprecedented times” and “our new normal”. There has been nothing “normal” about this year! As a working mom of three small children, this year has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, and if I’m going to be honest, there have been a lot of down days. I would say we’re surviving our new normal rather than conquering it most days. Early in the pandemic, I saw this quote: “In the rush to return back to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” (Dave Hollis). Meditate on that for a minute.
As women (kudos to you men as well), many of us are inherently givers. We take care of our people, spouses, children, family, neighbors, friends. We do this to a fault, and sometimes to the detriment of our own health and well-being. By the end of many days, I find there is not enough energy left for me. Self-care? What’s that, and more importantly what does it look like for me? After my third child was born, I finally took time for myself and began seeing a therapist. I remember she looked at me and asked, “Do you think you’re depressed?” I remember pausing a minute and saying, “Probably, but I don’t have time to be depressed!”
Looking back, I laugh. It’s so true. How many of you are tired? Our culture has become so goal-oriented and driven we’ve lost sight of balance and rest. It’s become a badge of honor to be overworked and exhausted. We work long hours at our day job and then jump right into our other roles at home. It’s a whirlwind of go, go, go, and turning around and doing it again the next day.
As a child of the ’80s, I remember the days when it was a big deal to rent a movie at Blockbuster on Saturday night realizing you would get an extra day free. That’s right; businesses were closed on Sundays. What a novel idea, a day of rest. What if we went back to that concept and allowed ourselves time each week to truly rest? To forget about the laundry and dishes and instead enjoy a good book, pick up a hobby, or spend quality time with our loved ones.
I’ve heard people say that an addict needs to hit rock bottom before they come to a place where they can start their journey towards healing. This year has brought me to my knees on more than one occasion, and I’m realizing that sometimes it’s not until we’re in our darkest moments that we finally start to see the light. The light was always there, we were just too busy and distracted to see it.
As hard as this year has been it’s been extremely enlightening. “They” say in every storm there is a blessing. I’ve finally come to a place of realization that I need healthy boundaries and structured balance in my life, and I’m finally taking the time to figure out what self-care looks like for me. It’s my heart’s hope each of you take the time this pandemic has given us to reflect on your lives too. Don’t go back to “normal.” You deserve better than normal!
Most importantly, know you are not alone. There is nothing normal about this. It’s chaotic and stressful, but we’re all in this together. It just looks and feels different for each of us. That mom down the street or on social media may look like she has it all together, but I guarantee she struggles too. If you’re struggling and don’t know where to start check-in with your HR contact, benefits administrator, or primary care physician to see what resources are available. As dark as your days may seem there is hope.
And for that mama in the drop off lane whose kid is having a meltdown or hasn’t showered in two days, this is for you, “I respect parents who have it all together, but parents who stumble in to drop their kids off at school, looking like they just got attacked by a flock of angry birds? Those are my people!” (author unknown)
Article by: Elizabeth Ingram
Vice President of People Strategy, Insurance Trust
For me, this year’s pandemic reminded me of the importance of an emergency fund. I know that there are scads of suggestions of how much to save and how because I’ve read them. I also know that storing 3 to 6 or even 12 months of savings in an easily (but not too easily) accessed account is not practical with childcare costs, debt repayments, and just life. I direct a portion of my income into savings each pay period, but honestly, that savings isn’t just for emergencies, it’s for home maintenance and sometimes presents even as we seek to grow it. Knowing that we didn’t have the suggested emergency savings in the midst of a pandemic freaked me out.
But just last month I realized something; in my worst-case scenario where both my husband & I lost our jobs, we wouldn’t just use an emergency savings account, we’d use everything to take care of our family. I realize that there are many other worst-case scenarios out there, but I cross my fingers and pray that insurance covers most of them; I know it won’t pay the bills if our jobs are gone.
If our jobs were gone, we wouldn’t be paying for childcare thus cutting our biggest expense from our budget. We would be paying a lot more for insurance, thus increasing our budget anyway. But we wouldn’t just use our savings account, we could use the money in our HSA account for the COBRA expenses. We could apply for unemployment benefits. If we absolutely had to, we could pull money from our investment account, the contributions previously made to my Roth IRA, the cash value from our whole life insurance. None of these options are ideal but knowing that there is a little more money available in case of my worst-case helps me sleep at night.
In an emergency, all of your money is an emergency fund. So, figure out where that money is and give yourself a little grace if what you have isn’t as much as you think it should be. I know you’re trying.
Article by: Elizabeth Ingram
Vice President of People Strategy, Insurance Trust
Now, I sincerely hope that you are never in the position that this information is of any use to you. But let’s talk about car crashes. Last year, my husband’s SUV was hit on an icy highway; it flipped and the car was totaled; thankfully, his only injury was a bump on the head. Last week, my car got rear-ended as I waited to turn at a four-way intersection. There was minor damage to the cars and no injuries, but my not-quite two-year-old daughter was in the car, so I called the pediatrician. So, here’s the skinny…
At the Scene of the Accident
- Pull over to a safe spot with the other vehicle if possible
- Call the police
- Exchange license, insurance, and registration information
- Take pictures of the damage
- After speaking with the police, you can head out
After the Accident
Be sure to call your insurance carrier ASAP to file a claim; this can sometimes be done via app or online as well.
If you are feeling the effects of the accident, you should also call your doctor.
If you had kids in the car, you may choose to call the pediatrician even if they seem to be fine especially if they might not have the words to tell you if they don’t feel well. My pediatrician let me know under what circumstances I should call back. They also let me know that their car seat specialists suggested I call the car seat manufacturers.
Replacing Your Car Seat/s
The NHTSA site (Car Seat Use After a Crash | NHTSA) states that car seats need to be replaced after moderate to severe crashes even if they weren’t in use at the time of the accident. However, when I checked with my car seat manufacturer (it happens to be Graco), they stated I should replace the car seats after ANY accident. Think of it like a bike helmet after you hit your head; it needs to be replaced even if there isn’t any visible damage because the structural integrity may be compromised. I know this can seem crazy expensive.
Next, you need to reach out to your insurance carrier and find out what they need to reimburse you for the cost of replacing the car seats. When my husband’s car was totaled, I just needed to provide a receipt, but this time we need to provide a picture of the old car seats (with the straps cut), receipts, and pictures of the new car seats. It’s a little bit of a process, but the reimbursement (if you’ve hit your deductible) definitely makes it worth it.
Article by: Sarah Nash
Account Relationship Manager – Member Lending Division
There’s a great saying: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” This rings true in so many areas of life. Unless you have experienced something yourself or have learned from a family member or friend; you just are not aware of some of the things out there! I’m going to use credit unions as an example.
Credit unions have been in North America since 1901. Alphonse Desjardins is credited with bringing credit unions to Levis, Quebec. This credit union was in his home! LaCaisse Populaire de Levis (The People’s Bank of Levis) was its name. The first deposit was 10 cents. On April 6, 1909, St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association, the first U.S. credit union opened in Manchester, New Hampshire with assistance from Alphonse Desjardins. There is a wonderful account of all the historical data regarding credit unions that the NCUA-National Credit Union Administration has put together on their website. I’ll leave you to read all the history if you choose. Historical Timeline | National Credit Union Administration (ncua.gov)
Maine has about 54 different credit unions. The word “about” is used in that statement as there are a few that are currently merging with other credit unions. The largest credit union in Maine is Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union. They have $816.93 million in total assets and over 48,246 members. There’s a list of all the Maine credit unions shown here: Maine Credit Unions (ncuso.org) There’s a decent likelihood that a credit union is close to where you work or live. I urge you to visit (call ahead due to Covid-19 restrictions) one and see what they have to offer.
Most likely you have used a bank. Most banks are for-profit, meaning they make money on your money. Credit unions are not-for-profit because their purpose is to serve their members rather than maximize profits. Credit unions are owned by their members. Credit unions are understood to be better than banks because banks tend to have higher overhead costs, which are passed on to you, the customer. Credit unions pass on their lower overhead costs to their members (customers) in the form of higher deposit interest rates. You can find rate and fee schedules online to compare how a credit union benefits their members. I’ve attached one here for reference. This is for Lincoln Maine FCU. This is just one example. Rate-and-Fee-Schedule.pdf (lincolnmainefcu.com)
Most people know that a credit union can offer you savings accounts and checking accounts as well as loans. Most don’t know all the other amazing things credit unions can do for them. I feel as though the information on what they do offer needs to be shouted from the rooftops! There is a large percentage of our communities that are not aware of what a valuable resource a credit union can be for them!
Let me give you a list of the things a CU can do for you. I’m going to use Lincoln Maine FCU as an example. Not all CUs have all the same programs, but this will give you a better idea of what most can do for you! Look at the different accounts offered*.
- Checking/Savings also referred to as Share Draft/Share Accounts
- Club Accounts
- Educational Share Accounts
- Free4ME Checking
- Health Savings Account
- Money Markets
- Share Certificates
- Youth Accounts
Let’s talk about loans*! Yes, auto and home loans are included. Did you know that not all credit unions base their lending on just your credit score? They use many more factors in their lending practices. Do you know about these other kinds of loans?
- Christmas Loans
- Commercial Loans
- Consumer Loans
- Fuel Loans
- Personal Loans
- Real Estate Loans
- Vacation Loans
- Wedding Loans
- Visa Credit Cards, what? Yes, you can get a CC from your CU!!
It’s helpful to know that when you have certain loans with the CU, there are programs* you can enroll in to help keep you in a great financial position in the event of death, disability, and job loss. There are also programs that can keep you in a great financial position if you were to have a car accident or total your vehicle. Ask the CU you visit about these products. There are programs such as Debt Protection, Credit Life and Disability, Mortgage Life and Disability, Guaranteed Asset Protection, Auto Deductible Reimbursement, and Total Restart. There is even a vehicle service program you can purchase with your auto loan that can fix your car if it breaks down. Some credit unions even offer pet insurance!
OK, now let’s touch on Membership Benefit Options! Did you know that as a CU member you are eligible for special group discounts for several products and services*? Here are some packages offered by Lincoln Maine FCU.
- Life Insurance
- Auto/Home Insurance
- AD&D (Accidental Death and Dismemberment)
- Debt Protection
- MDLive Health Insurance
- Financial Planning
Your local credit union can do all of what I have listed above AND THEN SOME! They offer credit counseling and financial fitness education, and they genuinely care about your financial well-being. You are more likely to get help from your credit union on things that aren’t even related to the credit union. This is because they imbed themselves in their communities. I’d be willing to bet that your local credit union could point you in the right direction for whatever you needed. If you need a lead on a physician, carpenter, mechanic, church, entertainment, charities, or any other local resource, there’s someone at that local credit union that can assist you by referring you to someone who can help. I like to think of credit unions as extensions of your family. The care and concern they exhibit while helping their members succeed is real. They do not treat people like a number. They will likely get to know you on a more personal level, and you’ll end up on a first-name basis with the team members in your local credit union. I urge everyone to find a local credit union and get to know what they can do for you. I believe you will be impressed with the service you receive no matter which one you choose. I would suggest using the internet to find a local credit union and visit their websites to see if they carry the program you might be interested in for your financial well-being.
*Please note that Lincoln Maine FCU was used as an example only. They may not have all packages/programs, loans, products/services listed in this article, nor will all the other Maine credit unions. Each credit union is unique and offers different packages/programs, loans, products/services to their members.
Insurance Trust announces retirement of Office Manager, Barbara Christy
Westbrook, ME – Insurance Trust announced that Barbara Christy, Office Manager, will retire on December 31, 2020 concluding her career, having been with Insurance Trust for over 36 years. She has been in her current position since 2007.
Barbara has held many roles at the Trust over her tenure including Special Olympics liaison. During her time as the Trust liaison to the Social Responsibility Committee, Barbara has helped to raise $907,050. Her organizational skills and kindness will be greatly missed at Special Olympics events.
The Insurance Trust team is thrilled for Barbara and wishes her the best in her next chapter.
Barbara’s role as Office Manager is being filled internally by Sharon Little. Sharon Little was previously the Director of Personal Lines on our Equinox personal lines team; she has previously worked at Holden Agency. She brings experience in insurance, event planning, and customer service as well as a love of learning to her new role.
Insurance Trust announces retirement of Accounting Manager, Kathleen Brann
Westbrook, ME – Insurance Trust announced that Kathleen (Kathy) Brann, Accounting Manager, will retire on December 31, 2020 concluding her career, having been with Insurance Trust for over 26 years.
Kathy previously worked at Shaw’s before joining the Insurance Trust team in 1994. She has held many roles at the Trust over her tenure and has been in the Accounting Manager position since 2007.
The Insurance Trust team is thrilled for Kathy and wishes her the best in her next chapter.
Kathy’s role as Accounting Manager is being filled internally by Amber Hollo who will be replaced as Accounting Specialist internally by Trevor Pietila.
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Life insurance is one way to prepare for the hyperbole floods in our life. “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.” In our present circumstances, we’re reminded of how fragile life can be. If you have someone in your life who depends on you and your income you need to consider your life insurance needs. Do you have employer-paid life insurance? Is it enough? How much coverage do you need? These are all questions that should be considered. http://worklife.coloniallife.com/calculator/
If you have questions about your coverage our Employee Benefits Specialist, Pam Huntington, is available to review your options and make sure you and your loved ones are protected. If you currently have life insurance it’s a good practice to review your beneficiary forms annually. Have you had any changes in your life (i.e. marriage, the birth of a child. etc.)? Reach out to your HR contact and request a form for updates.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” C.S. Lewis
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Fees, most commonly known as PCORI fees, were created in accordance with the ACA. PCORI Fees were scheduled to expire for plan years ending on or after October 1, 2019. With the enactment of a Federal spending bill at the end of 2019 PCORI fees have been extended for an additional 10 years through 2029. As a result, Notice 2020-44 increased the fee amount for plan years ending on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020 to $2.54 per average number of lives covered under a plan. PCORI fees are required to be paid annually on IRS Form 720 by July 31 of each year. For plans ending in 2019, the next PCORI fee payment will be due July 31, 2020.
FSAs and HRAs
Generally, health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are not required to file a Form 720 unless the employer (and not just the employee) makes contributions that exceed the lesser of $500 annually or a dollar-for-dollar match of the employee’s contribution. Employers that have a fully-insured health plan coupled with an integrated HRA must pay the PCORI fee for the HRA, but they may treat each HRA participant as a single covered life. The fee generally does not apply to spouses or dependents covered under the HRA. When applicable FSA and HRA providers generally contact clients with guidance and direction on the filing of their PCORI fees.
Author: Elizabeth Ingram
Vice President of People Strategy
The past few months have been a wild ride, and it isn’t over yet. In the midst of all the stress of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, remember that thinking ahead can still save you a little stress later on. I won’t reiterate all the advice about saving if you can and helping others; it’s good advice if you can but not what it’s on my mind these days.
I know next April seems a lifetime away given how quickly the world changes, but it is coming and with it will be tax day. Remember, you can change your W4s with every paycheck (although it’s much easier on your payroll staff if you don’t). If you’ve had any change income (layoff, furlough, overtime) or deductible expenses (childcare, mortgage or student loan interest), it makes sense to check the IRS calculator (https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator) and make sure your withholdings are still on target. This could mean a little less in your paycheck now to keep you from having a hefty check to write in April; you could also switch up your direct deposit and put that money in special savings account so you know you have it. But it could also result in a little needed cash in your pocket now. So gather up your paystubs (& your spouse’s) and last year’s tax return and spend 15 minutes to make sure there isn’t a preventable financial surprise coming your way.
My second tip isn’t financial. Eventually, most of us will be returning to the workplace and those of us with children will send them back to school. But it’s not going to be the same. Although we don’t know what life will look like come September, I’m going to assume that masks will still be part of the occasion. And my soon-to-be kindergartener is NOT a fan. I’m not interested in a daily mask battle, so now is the time to find a comfortable and practical style to have on hand for you and the family. If your kiddo, like mine, isn’t tying shoes yet, a mask that ties isn’t practical. Ear savers may or may not be worth the extra effort, so I have some on hand in case day 3 of school results in chaffed ears. Fabric, shape, and pattern are also key; who knew that a pizza pattern was ‘more comfortable’ than the same style with a different pattern! Lastly, we all lose things, but kids seem to lose more items that they’re wearing. So, prepare for lost or sticky masks and have more spares than you think you need for you and your family. You’ve got this!
Author: Sarah Nash
Property & Casualty Account Manager
Insurance Trust | Equinox
I know that this is a very tough subject to discuss, but I wanted to share the important things I learned from my personal experience of losing a parent. The following are many important questions to ask along with some informative discoveries I made regarding all of the medical, insurance, financial and personal matters that arise. One piece of advice I offer to you is to do your best to prepare for the death of a parent. It’s going to happen. We can’t avoid it. We all tend to think that we have plenty of time. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes a sudden illness can cause death to happen quickly, and I’d be willing to bet that at least half of us are unprepared for this event. Talk to them now while you’re both able. Not one part of the conversation is fun or easy. No one likes to think about their own death and departure. I think the older you get the harder it is for some to discuss their ultimate wants and wishes at the end of life. (more…)