Your Clients Must Prepare for Changes in Emergency Temporary Standard to Vaccine Mandate

The emergency temporary standard (ETS) that went into effect on Sept. 9, 2021, required that employees of private sector companies with 100 or more workers (including federal contractors and health care professionals), must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. If you’re an insurance professional with commercial business clients, it is important that they know the facts and prepare.

Recently, on Nov. 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an unpublished update to the ETS aimed at protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19 while on the job. Under this revised standard, employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. The ETS is effective immediately and requires employers to comply with most requirements within 30 days of the Nov. 4 ETS publication update and testing requirements within 60 days of publication.

The following are key dates and information that, as of the publication of this article, your employer clients need to know.

Key dates:

  • Effective Dec. 5, 2021, all unvaccinated employees must wear a mask while on the job.
  • Employees have until Jan. 4, 2022, to become fully vaccinated. After that date, all unvaccinated employees must undergo a weekly COVID-19 test.

Specific requirements of employers:

  • Employers must check the vaccination status of each employee. This requires obtaining acceptable proof of vaccination status and maintaining records and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status.
  • Employers must ensure that each worker who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 weekly (if the worker is in the workplace at least once a week) or within seven days before returning to work (if the worker is away from the workplace for a week or longer).
  • In most circumstances, the employer must ensure that each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.
  • Employees are required to provide immediate notice to their employer when testing positive for COVID-19 or when they have received a COVID-19 diagnosis. At that time, employers must remove the employee from the workplace regardless of vaccination status and not allow them to return to work until they meet the required criteria.
  • The ETS does not require employers to pay for employee testing or face masks. However, they may be required to pay for testing to comply with other laws, regulations, collective bargaining agreements or other collectively negotiated agreements. Employers are also not required to pay for face coverings.

Updates to the ETS haven’t been well received by everyone. As of Nov. 6, at least 27 states have opposed the ETS mandate in federal court, with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocking the Department of Labor’s OSHA vaccine mandate for larger employers.

Conclusion

Most experts anticipate that a court ruling to the mandate will be made closer to the compliance deadlines. In the meantime, it is important for your business clients to stay updated on federal court cases and be prepared to implement the ETS until a final ruling is made.

About FastrackCE

Need to complete your insurance continuing education credits before the end of the year? FastrackCE can help you save time and money by getting all your life, health, and property and casualty continuing education credits in one place and on your schedule.

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Build, Grow and Maintain Your Online Presence With a Social Media Marketing Calendar

Like most insurance professionals, you understand the importance of having a regular social media presence. However, it can be a challenge to take the time every month to brainstorm about what content will resonate with your target audience, what platform it should be published on and when you should post your content.

Social media is about building relationships with potential customers. And you can’t build strong relationships if you post 12 times one day then disappear for six months.
Source: Microsoft Business Insights

The fact is, successful social media marketing doesn’t just happen. It takes time to develop a strategy that is consistent, efficient, and effective in building and maintaining your social media presence. The best way to accomplish this is by creating a 12-month social media content calendar.

What is a social media calendar?

Whether you’re an independent agent, retail broker or wholesaler, a social media calendar is vital to ensuring your insurance business stays in front of your target audience with consistent content publishing. Microsoft Business Insights describes a social media content calendar as a tool for mapping the following out in advance:

· What type of content you plan to publish. Creating a calendar eliminates last-minute scrambling to find relevant and insightful content topics that will resonate with your audience.

· What social media platform you are going to share it on. For example, Facebook can be a great tool for building your brand locally, Twitter can expand your messaging by connecting with new network partners, and LinkedIn can help you develop professional relationships and partnerships within the insurance industry.

· What day and time you’re going to share it. According to HubSpot, certain platforms have optimal days/times that are more effective in reaching out to and interacting with your target audience. In addition, by tracking how posts perform, you’ll have a better idea, when scheduling future posts, what day/time your target audience engages.

Creating a social media calendar

Getting started with a calendar doesn’t have to be a complex undertaking. And while it is possible to create your calendar in a spreadsheet or Word document, online fillable templates can save you a lot of time by keeping your content organized. One of our favorite online social media calendar templates is from Direct Connection Advertising and Marketing. In addition to the calendar, you’ll also find a link to 100 free social media captions that have been proven to help posts achieve higher engagement. Whichever option you choose, a good social media calendar should always include:

· A complete 12-month visual overview that maps out your posts.
· An in-depth breakdown that looks at the content for each month.
· Space to plan out all aspects of your monthly posts.

Conclusion

As we enter the final months of the year, now is a great time to start developing your 2022 marketing campaigns that include a social media calendar. Be sure to spread a variety of content evenly across the week and start scheduling. If you don’t feel comfortable creating your own content, you can always enlist the assistance of a specialized insurance marketing and advertising firm to help.

About FastrackCE

Need to complete your insurance continuing education credits before the end of the year? FastrackCE can help you get all your life and health and property and casualty continuing education credits done in one place and at your convenience. We offer online courses in most states covering a broad range of topics, including most of the state-mandated courses such as ethics, flood, long-term care and annuity training.

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5 Things Your Clients Need to Know About Vaccine Regulations and Employee Testing

Last month, President Joe Biden announced two executive orders mandating vaccinations for both federal government and private-sector employers with over 100 employees. This affects an estimated two-thirds of American workers, and employers will have a specific window of time in which to comply. Employers that are not in compliance with the workplace vaccine requirements could face up to a $14,000 fine per violation. This mandate also includes providing paid time off to allow employees time to receive the vaccine and to recover.

As workplace mandates regarding vaccines and testing continue to roll out, it’s vital that your employer clients understand what they legally can and can’t do to be compliant while continuing to manage their business and maintain a safe workplace for employees and customers. While not an all-inclusive list, the following are the latest key developments regarding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate that employers need to be aware of moving forward:

Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees who physically enter the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19. However, for employees who because of a disability or religious belief, practice or observance have chosen not to get the vaccine, the employer will be required to provide reasonable accommodation provisions. According to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), some examples of reasonable accommodations for unvaccinated workers include wearing a face mask, social distancing from co-workers or nonemployees, working a modified shift, working remotely, periodic testing for COVID-19, and even accepting a reassignment.

📝 Take note! According to the ADA, employers that can demonstrate that an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the business’s operations will have no responsibility to make said accommodations. An undue hardship can include monetary expenses as well as issues relating to an increase in workplace safety and those that will negatively impact the business’s employee benefits.

An employer can legally administer a COVID-19 test to an employee. Employers are permitted to test employees when evaluating the feasibility of an employee’s initial or continued presence in the workplace. However, the ADA requires that any mandatory medical test of employees be “job related and consistent with business necessity.”

📝 Take note! An employer is allowed to administer a COVID-19 test to employees before initially permitting them to enter the workplace as well as periodically determining whether their presence in the workplace poses a direct threat to others. 

The ADA permits an employer to bar employees from the physical workplace if they refuse to answer questions related to having COVID-19 or symptoms or refuse to have their temperature checked. In some cases, employers may find that workers are reluctant to provide medical information simply because they fear that their employer may convey this personal medical information throughout the workplace. Of course, the ADA prohibits such broad disclosures, as they are a violation of privacy laws.

📝 Take note! Employers have the right to inquire as to the reason(s) for a refusal. In many situations, employers can assure employees that the only reason for the inquiry is to protect everyone in the workplace and that the practice is consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health screening recommendations.

Employers can advocate for employees and their family members to become vaccinated without violating the EEO laws, the ADA and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers are allowed to provide employees and their family members with educational information about the COVID-19 vaccine and its benefits and to address questions and concerns.

📝 Take note! Under the ADA and in certain circumstances,employers may offer incentives to employees who receive COVID-19 vaccines and voluntarily provide credible documentation. However, the employer must keep vaccination status and associated information of all employees confidential.

Employers are legally permitted to ask all employees who physically enter the workplace whether they have been diagnosed with or tested for COVID-19. In certain circumstances, an employer may exclude from the workplace employees who have COVID-19 or have symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they pose a threat to the health and safety of others. Employers that have employees who are working remotely and are not in physical contact with co-workers, vendors or customers are not generally permitted to ask questions as to whether a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is having symptoms. GINA prohibits employers from asking employees medical questions about their family members. However, the act does not prohibit an employer from asking employees whether they have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. A current list of symptoms can be found on the CDC website.

📝 Take note! The ADA gives employers permission to request that an employee who becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19 immediately leave the workplace.

Conclusion

The EEOC continues to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations but stresses the importance of businesses complying with the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as state and workplace laws. Brokers and their employer clients should defer to the aforementioned resources for detailed information and updates to recent mandates.

About FastrackCE

Need to complete your insurance continuing education credits before the end of the year? FastrackCE can help you save time and money by getting all your life, health, and property and casualty continuing education credits in one place and on your schedule.

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Career Outlook for Life Insurance Agents in 2022 Looks Promising

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a catalyst for increasing consumer awareness of the importance of having life insurance. In fact, according to CNBC, many life insurance firms experienced double-digit increases in the number of life insurance policies they have sold during the pandemic compared to the previous year. Given that the core purpose of life insurance is to provide financial security for survivors in the event of death, it makes sense that there was a bit of urgency to purchase life insurance once the pandemic began.

Putting COVID-19 life insurance panic buying aside, the outlook for careers in life insurance remains strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average growth rate for an occupation as an insurance sales agent is 8% — a number that is expected to steadily increase until 2030. However, growth in careers for agents selling life, health and long-term care insurance is expected to hit double digits due to the growing number of aging Americans, according to an industry update by Kaplan Financial Education.  

Another attractive benefit of a career selling life insurance is the salary. According to ZipRecruiter, as of Sept. 21, the average annual pay for a life insurance agent in the U.S. is $79,730 a year. However, ZipRecruiter reports seeing annual salaries as high as $174,000 and as low as $20,000 — with the majority of life insurance agent salaries ranging between $50,000 and $99,500. The career-finding website also notes that based on a person’s skill level and years of experience, the industry holds many more opportunities for advancement and increased pay.

Location also plays a big part in the salary of a life insurance agent. Currently, the top 10 cities where the salary of a life insurance agent is above the national average are:

1 – San Francisco, California ($97,877)

2 – Fremont, California ($93,957)

3 – San Jose, California ($91,777)

4 – Oakland, California ($90,774)

5 – Tanaina, Alaska ($90,520)

6 – Wasilla, Alaska ($90,519)

7 – Sunnyvale, California ($89,395)

8 – Hayward, California ($88,872)

9 – Jackson, Wyoming ($88,398)

10 – Norwalk, Connecticut ($88,278)

Unlike property and casualty insurance, life insurance can be a hard sell. However, once a policy is sold and issued, the commission payments keep coming in the form of renewals for as long as the policy remains in force. And while the commission percentage drops a bit after the first year (typically around 5% to 10% on the policy’s anniversary date), this passive income accrues automatically without the agent having to solicit a renewal.

Despite the growing need, there are fewer life insurance agents today compared to in previous generations. Not only have more opportunities opened up, but because of the need, a greater number of companies/agencies also are considering training new hires who don’t have any insurance background at all. According to Investopedia, “There might not be any sign in the window, but the agencies are hiring and will most likely consider [a candidate] regardless of what line of work [he or she was] in before.”

Conclusion

Every September during Life Insurance Awareness Month, the insurance industry focuses on promoting the importance of life insurance. If you are a life insurance professional or are considering a career in life insurance sales, we hope this article provided some insight into a very rewarding occupation. 

About FastrackCE

The process of becoming an insurance agent requires passing pre-licensing exams. You’ll also need to complete a certain number of continuing education credits every few years to maintain your license; the exact number depends on the state you live in.

When you’re ready, FastrackCE can save you time and money by helping you get all your life, health and long-term care continuing education credits in one place and on your schedule. We also offer a wide range of property and casualty continuing education courses, including most of the state-mandated courses, such as ethics and flood and annuity insurance training. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

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September Is a Great Time To Promote Life Insurance

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM), when, for 30 days, the insurance industry and the nonprofit Life Happens come together to educate consumers about the important role life insurance plays in protecting families. In a nationwide campaign that addresses the growing life insurance coverage gap in the U.S., LIAM dispels myths and misconceptions surrounding life insurance by presenting consumers with the facts.

If you’re a life insurance agent, September can be a great time to start building your life insurance book by tapping into the resources that LIAM offers. The following are key highlights from research presented by the Life Happens organization and the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA) that can help you in creating a life insurance marketing strategy for raising awareness for this valuable coverage.  

Misconceptions:

· 46% of Americans say they have put off purchasing the coverage they know they need, in part because they view the buying process as overly complex and intimidating.

· 29% of American workers believe the coverage they get through work is enough. However, research shows that the median life insurance coverage offered at the workplace is either a flat sum of $20,000 or one year’s salary — far below what most dual-income households typically need financially to live.  

Affordability:

·Younger consumers who do not yet have a spouse/partner or dependents often believe they can put off buying life insurance until they are older. However, life insurance is significantly less expensive when purchased at a younger age.

·More than half of Americans overestimate the cost of life insurance, believing a policy to be three to six times more expensive than it really is. The fact is, the cost of term life insurance for a healthy 30-year-old is around $160 per year. Yet 44% of millennials estimate it to be more than six times higher — at a costly $1,000.

·For some individuals, approaches to securing more affordable coverage can include starting small and increasing coverage limits over time, buying as much coverage as possible while young and healthy, starting with term life, locking into a renewal guarantee, and applying any applicable premium discounts.

COVID-19:

·Since the onset of COVID-19, 36% of Americans said they plan to purchase life insurance this year, with 48% of millennials indicating they are likely to buy coverage before the end of 2021.

·LIMRA research shows that the pandemic has greatly raised consumers’ awareness and interest in life insurance as they realize whom they have a responsibility to provide for. 

·The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of simplified underwriting. According to LIMRA, 48% of consumers say they are more likely to buy life insurance using simplified underwriting.

Financial:

·42% of households said they would face financial hardship within six months if a primary wage earner were to die unexpectedly, with 25% suffering financially within just 30 days.

·Misperceptions about cost, coupled with prioritizing other financial needs, have put many families needlessly at risk of financial hardship should a wage earner die unexpectedly. Today, more than ever, it is necessary for insurance professionals to educate consumers on the importance of creating a budget that includes life insurance. 

To learn more and to access life insurance resources, visit the LIAM website and watch the LIAM video. As a supporter of LIAM, you can also visit the LIMRA research website for videos, factsheets and infographics.

About FastrackCE

Need to complete your life and health insurance continuing education credits? FastrackCE can help you save time and money by getting all your life, health, and property and casualty continuing education credits in one place and on your schedule.

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