Florida Workers’ Compensation Decrease

As of January 1, 2018 there is a 9.5% overall workers’ compensation rate decrease on new and renewing policies in the state of Florida and a 9.8% decrease in premium levels. This is an average of statewide increases and decreases. Your rate may either increase or decrease, but we can give you more information about what your class of business rate will be.

Why is the workers’ compensation rate decreasing overall?

This decrease is welcome after the 14.5% increase in 2017. The National Council on Compensation Insurance contributes the decrease to declining loss ratio and a decrease in lost-time claim frequency.

What does this mean for you?

  1. The 9.5% increase will impact new and renewing policies that begin on or after January 1, 2018 .
  2. If your policy begins before January 1, 2018, then a rate decrease will not be experienced until renewal in 2019.

If you have questions or concerns regarding these changes we encourage you to contact us at any time, (352) 371-7977. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.


Homeowners Rates and Inspection Guide Materials 2018

Curious about the cost of home insurance these days? See our sample guide of current rates in our area based on construction year. Another helpful tool is our inspection guide that differentiates between four point and wind mitigation inspections. This may help you and your clients understand when and why certain homes require or benefit from inspections. Please feel free to contact us any time for further information or ideas on how we can help.

2018 Homeowners Insurance Rate Sheet

Wind Mitigation Handout

Health Savings Account 2018

What is a Health Savings Account?

 A health savings account (HSA) from a bank or savings perspective is a type of account you set up with a participating bank that is designated to be used to health-related expenses only. The money you put in to this account is tax-free but cannot be used on anything but health-related expenses such as doctor’s visits, procedures, prescriptions, dental and vision services, etc. Health Savings Account funds cannot, however, be used to pay actual premiums.

 How does an HSA work?

 An HSA can be used to pay for current expenses as well as a means of saving for future health costs. There are many advantages to using an HSA, many being financial. Contributions made to an HSA are tax-deductible or if it’s taken directly from your paycheck it is taken from your pretax pay. If you are considering withdrawing from your HSA then it will be tax-free if the medical expense qualifies. Another advantage of an HSA is that it stays with you if you change jobs.

The money contributed to your HSA can be used to pay your health insurance deductible and qualified medical expenses. Some of these expenses may include dental and vision care although they may not be covered under health insurance. If you must withdraw from your account for non-qualified expenses you will be taxed based on your income rate. An additional 20 percent tax will be charged if you are under the age of 65, according to HSAcenter.com.

What is a “qualified medical expense”?

The Internal Revenue Service Tax Code describes in Section 213(d) qualified medical expenses. According to HSAcenter.com, these expenses must “alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness.” While the IRS may alter what is considered a qualified expense, you can find a comprehensive list here.

What are the 2018 contribution limits?

An individual with single medical coverage in 2018 can contribute $3,450 to an HSA. This is a $50 increase from 2017. The annual HSA contribution limit is $6,850 for those covered under qualifying family medical plans. This contribution is a $100 increase from 2017.

What does Florida Blue offer?

Florida Blue offers high-deductible health benefit plans to be used with an HSA, such as a silver plan with a deductible of $3600 for an individual or $7200 for a family. There’s also a bronze plan with a deductible of $6000 for an individual or $12000 for a family. All qualified medical expenses go towards those amounts and the deductible serves as the out of pocket maximum as well. So once those amounts are paid, the plan’s coverage takes care of the rest for that calendar year. Funds in the bank’s HSA account can roll over from year to year.

For further questions regarding health savings accounts or any other Florida Blue health insurance plans, please feel free to contact us anytime.

New Tax-Withholding Tables

Did you recently notice a bump in your paycheck, but realized it has nothing to do with a new raise? If you haven’t yet, that increase may be coming for your next paycheck. On January 11, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 1036 on their website. This notice updated guidelines for how much tax employees will see withheld from their checks.

What does this mean?

These new guidelines come as the IRS begins improving the accuracy of withholding based on new tax laws. The most important revisions are to avoid over- and under-withholding. According to the IRS, these new deduction tables should result in take-home pay increases for approximately 90 percent of employees.

Business Insider broke down the new tables for single employees making between $509 and $1,631 every two weeks. In this case an employer should be withholding $36.70 and an additional 12 percent of every dollar more than $509. Going a step further if an employee makes $1,500 they would have $155.63 withheld.

Employers should implement the new withholding tables no later than February 15, so your increase could still be coming. As an added update, the IRS is revising their tax-withholding calculator on irs.gov so it will accurately calculate the amount to be withheld from your take-home pay. The new calculator should be available at the end of February, according to the IRS press release for the new tables.

Insurance after Sinkhole Damage

Living in Florida (especially north and central) means that you could be at risk for sinkhole damage to your home. If your home was previously damaged because of a sinkhole you may find it harder to insure. Consider these questions and their answers before seeking coverage.

The first question you’ll need answered is: are homes with prior sinkhole damage even insurable? The short answer is: it depends. Each situation is different. If your home has been repaired there is a chance of obtaining home insurance again. During the buying process it is important to know whether a previous owner filed an insurance claim and used the money entirely for repairs or if only a part of the settlement was used.

Other questions you should consider and get answers to.

  1. Was the damage caused by sinkhole or just natural settling?
    1. The difference between settling and sinkhole damage can be easy to tell. While sinkhole damage can appear and become disastrous quickly, settling damage usually appears over a long period of time. If you live somewhere where the bedrock is not limestone or there is no salt-based rock then you are most likely dealing with settling. If you find hairline cracks in the walls of your home and live in an area where the
  2. When did the damage happen?
  3. What was the method of repair? Was any cosmetic work done to the house?
  4. Was an engineering report done on the house, if so can you get a copy of the report?
  5. Was an insurance claim filed and was damage was paid by the insurance company?

Once you have gathered all of this information call our office, 352-371-7977, and we can discuss your options for securing insurance.