We celebrated Five Years today since we took over the reigns of Regnier & Associates and started anew as WinStar Insurance Group. It was fun to look back at all of the change and growth we achieved, and look forward to more success in the future!
Cheers to Five Years! 🎉
Establish clear workplace policies - Develop an employee handbook and distribute it! Sample employee handbooks and HR forms libraries are easily accessible and most law-firms or insurers will happily provide content. For your protection, be sure your handbook includes an employment-at-will statement and an equal employment opportunity statement. Create written workplace policies on employment practices; post them and include in employee handbooks. Establish a policy for employees to report concerns and for management to respond. Educate management and employees about ethical and workplace practices. You may wish to include diversity and sensitivity training as part of this education program.
Hire carefully—Screen employees thoroughly, avoiding any discriminatory practices.
Provide job descriptions - Create a detailed job description for each role. Each job description should clearly define the required skills and performance expectations.
Institute a zero-tolerance policy – This should be established for substance abuse, harassment and any form of discrimination. Additionally, have an "open door" policy in which employees can report infractions without fear of retribution. It is advisable to have a couple of people that issues can be reported to instead of just one.
Keep thorough records - Document all employee complaints or investigations, as well as what your company did to resolve those issues.
Perform regular employee reviews—Review employee performance and keep a written record of reviews.
Under Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, your retirement plan will need to maintain an ERISA Fidelity Bond. A fidelity bond protects the assets in the plan from misuse or misappropriation by the plan fiduciaries. Plan fiduciaries include the plan trustees and any person who has control over the management of the plan and its assets.
REQUIRED ERISA FIDELITY BOND AMOUNT
At the very least, the bond must be equal to 10% of the value of the total plan assets, with a minimum bond value of $1000 and a maximum bond value of $500,000. For the first year, the bond amount will be based on the estimated amount of assets that will be handled by the plan for the year. If you have non-qualifying assets more than 5% of the total plan assets, the bond amount needs to be equal to 100% of these assets.
WHY DO I NEED AN ERISA FIDELITY BOND?
There are serious consequences for not purchasing and maintaining a sufficient ERISA fidelity bond. Not having this required coverage can be a red flag to the Department of Labor that they need to take a closer look at the plan. You are not only at risk for a DOL audit, but there are citations associated with not having this required coverage.
HOW DO I OBTAIN AN ERISA FIDELITY BOND?
Colonial Surety Company is a national online insurance company that is U.S. Treasury listed and licensed in all states and territories. As experts in all aspects of ERISA regulations, Colonial Surety Company will ensure that you are properly bonded and that your bond is renewed prior to expiration so that your plan remains in compliance
Use the below link to obtain the ERISA Fidelity Bond
by Kathy Haenszel - Sales Executive
These days we can’t be too careful to protect property that we’re responsible for. When handling property belonging to the corporation, extra care should be taken to make sure it’s secured. Especially in the event anyone has cash or checks that belong to the utility, it shouldn’t be left in a vehicle overnight. If you’re issued a company laptop, please don’t leave it in a vehicle when it is parked for the evening – it’s just too tempting to a thief.
Also, remember to lock your company vehicle when leaving at the end of the day, whether parked at the office or at an employee’s home.
by Desiree Moore - Assistant Account Manger
In a world where you can access so many things in just a few clicks of a button, protecting your data is crucial. Adding Multi-Factor Authentication is an extra layer of protection by the site/application requiring a numerical code as a second form of digital identification. This is accomplished from the code sent from a dedicated app in the form of a text or email. Don’t let virtual hackers get into your system.
Please see the flyer below for more in-depth details to learn how you can better protect yourself.
by Kathy Haenszel - Sales Executive
Each year before your insurance policy renews, we send out a list of all the property you have insured through us, with a request that you look it over and update it. This is done to try to make sure you’re properly insured in the event you have a claim. This is especially important this year since construction costs have gone through the roof in the past few months. A pumphouse or tank that might have cost $10,000 to replace last year at this time would likely cost significantly more to replace at current prices. When you receive the property listing, we would appreciate you taking a few minutes to look it over through the lens of current prices.
We’ll be making a push to reach out to you if it’s been a while since your property values have been updated, but in the meantime if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
We are pleased to announce that Texas Mutual's board voted to pay $330 million in dividends to support our policyholders. Texas Mutual is working diligently to deliver dividends to our policyholder owners and are on target to mail checks on July 1st. Policyholders will also be able to log in to the Texas Mutual website to see their dividend information.
This year marks the 23rd year that Texas Mutual is paying dividends to their more than 57,000 policyholders, bringing the total to over $3.4 billion back to Texas businesses since 1999.
WHAT IS A DIVIDEND?
As a policyholder-owned company, Texas Mutual clients contribute to their success when they make safety a priority and choose to do business with Texas Mutual. There are two components to earning a dividend. Safety, paid through the annual component, and loyalty, paid through the retention component. Our newer Texas Mutual policyholders can also earn dividends through the early qualifier program, which is paid in November. Since 1999, Texas Mutual has distributed over $3.4 billion back to Texas businesses.
Dividends are based on performance, are not guaranteed and must comply with Texas Department of Insurance regulations.
by Brett Cheatham, Sales Executive
Many business owners and managers understand coinsurance from a health insurance perspective. The idea that the insured pays part of the cost of health services as a percentage of the total and the insurance carrier pays the rest. The consumer becomes the coinsurer. What a lot of people don’t know is there can be a similar “coinsurance clause” in commercial property policies. Many commercial property policies contain a coinsurance clause. This clause imposes a penalty when a policyholder suffers a loss and has failed to purchase an adequate amount of insurance.
In property insurance, coinsurance is based on the concept of insurance to replacement cost, meaning the ratio of your insurance limit to the value of your insured property. This means that you must purchase a policy limit that meets or exceeds the coinsurance percentage. If you have a 100% coinsurance clause and a building that would cost $1 million to replace, you must purchase at least $1 million in coverage. For example, let’s say the insured had only purchased $800,000 in insurance on the $1 million dollar building and had a covered loss with damage of $100,000. In this scenario, the building was only insured for 80% of its actual replacement cost value. Therefore, the carrier is only obligated to reimburse 80% of the cost of damages less the deductible. In other words, the insured would only receive $80,000 less the deductible of their $100,000 claim.
The carriers we insure our water and waste water systems through have a 0% coinsurance clause. Meaning that in our above example, the insured would receive full claim reimbursement less the deductible. No surprises!
by Kathy Haenszel - Sales Executive
We all know about locating underground utilities before digging, but do you know the final step you should be taking before firing up the backhoe?
It’s not uncommon for us to see claims for cut lines if the locates were inaccurate, even though the water system had underground utilities located prior to digging. For whatever reason, sometimes the utilities are marked incorrectly. And when the water system digs, they hit the mismarked underground utilities. You can help your system’s insurance loss record if you’ll take some pictures of the locates before you start digging. It’s especially helpful if your pictures have a landmark or two in them (a tree, fence, gate, road sign, etc.) so in the event the utilities are mismarked and you accidentally cut one, your insurance adjuster can use your photos to document that the problem is with the locate and that you did everything you could to avoid damaging the other utilities. This may enable the adjuster to shift the claim to the responsible party and help improve your utility’s loss history, thereby allowing you to qualify for insurance discounts available to those with lower losses.
If you have any questions or comments about this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our water industry insurance agents.
Tom Newby is in his 30th year as an Employee Benefit Insurance Agent. In 2007 and 2008 he was named in ForbesTM magazine by Goldline Research as One of the Ten Most Dependable Insurance Professionals in Texas and the Central U.S., respectively. In 2011 he was named by Benefits ProTM as One of the Top Ten Brokers in the U.S. He is a graduate of Baylor University with a Bachelor of Business Administration for Economics, Entrepreneurship and International Finance.
Serving as the Director for Employee Benefits at Winstar Insurance Group, LLC he is responsible for the department’s growth and direction within WinStars’ primary client niches: fire and emergency service organizations, water supply entities and craft beverage businesses. A self-described insurance nerd, Tom thrives in the niche insurance industry. Prior to joining Winstar he worked with Physician and Chiropractic Organizations to develop their employee benefit programs.
Tom strives to understand all facets of his client industries including how they operate on a day to day basis, how they are funded, their market competition and any existing constraints. He is then able to create an employee benefit program on a large scale that can be tailored to the individual client groups within the niche client industry. As the Director for Employee Benefits at Winstar he has developed insurance programs for the State Fire Fighters & Fire Marshal’s Association of Texas. He is currently developing an employee benefit insurance pool for Emergency Service Districts (ESD’s) statewide. Tom understands the importance of staying abreast of the ever-changing rules and regulations with employee benefits. He strives to streamline the enrollment process, making it interesting and providing his customers with the tools they need to make educated decisions.
When asked to describe himself in five words he gave us these: Entrepreneurial, Dedicated, Tenacious, Passionate and Intelligent. Tom has two loves in his life: his work and his son Ezra. Tom adopted his son from Guatemala when Ezra was only a few days old. Today Ezra is 15 years old going on 30. Those of you with teenagers will completely understand what he means. Tom spends his free time learning to cook gluten free dishes and working in his garden.
WinStar Insurance Group is a thriving insurance agency based in Austin, Texas that specializes in serving niche industries. WinStar was founded in 2016 by Barbara Marzean, President; Steph Dew, VP; and Glenn Hastings, VP. The owners were previously employees of Regnier & Associates and purchased the assets of Regnier & Associates in 2016 upon retirement of the owner, Ted Regnier.
Since its inception in 2016, the agency has grown exponentially and has gone through many changes. WinStar has more than doubled their premium volume and has grown from 19 employees in 2016 to 28 employees today. Previously focusing on Property & Casualty only, the agency created a very successful Employee Benefits Department led by Tom Newby. Newby joined the agency in 2018 and has quickly grown the Employee Benefits Department to more than $10M in premium volume.
The agency devotes their time and resources to fully understanding the unique challenges and needs of their customers while partnering with key carriers to find viable solutions. WinStar is recognized as a key partner protecting the financial well-being of their clients through comprehensive insurance coverage, risk management solutions, education, training and safety. Instead of trying to know a little about of lot of industries, the agency seeks to dive deep into the specific niches they serve and become an integral partner. When their clients encounter new challenges, WinStar works with their long-standing carriers to develop products to specifically address their needs.
The largest niche WinStar serves is the emergency service community with over 1,500 emergency service organization clients throughout Texas. Additional niche industries include wineries, breweries, distilleries, water-related companies, for-profit ambulance companies and child care facilities. The agency is very active in client industry associations and has excellent relationships with each of these groups. The agency is recognized as the leader in these fields and has built their reputation one client at a time with hands-on involvement. As evidenced by their 98% client retention rate, WinStar has developed lasting relationships with their customers. In fact, many customers have been clients for over 30 years.
WinStar is dedicated to continuing the vision and commitment that the agency was founded upon in 1982. Every employee within the WinStar family recognizes they are part of something unique and special. They understand that success is measured when clients place their trust in WinStar Insurance Group to provide the best value, service and expertise in their industry.