02 May

May TrussConnect Newsletter

Congratulations Paul Cohen!
Ingram’s Magazine 40 Under Forty Class of 2018

IRS Reverses Changes to 2018 HSA Family Contribution Limits

On April 26, 2018 the IRS announced relief for taxpayers with family coverage under a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) who contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). For 2018, taxpayers with family coverage under an HDHP may treat $6,900 as the maximum deductible HSA contribution.

A change in the inflation adjustment calculations for 2018 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reduced the maximum deductible HSA contribution for taxpayers with family coverage under an HDHP by $50, to $6,850 (announced March 5, 2018).
Revenue Procedure 2018-27 announces this relief for affected taxpayers and allows the $6,900 limitation to remain in effect for 2018. The $6,900 annual limitation was originally published in Revenue Procedure 2017-37.

For more information, please see the IRS News Release.

Have questions? Contact your advisor today: 913.341.8998

Transitional Relief Extended Again

On April 9, 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHA) extended transitional relief plans through December 2019. Transitional relief applies to plans that existed before healthcare reform, and that have been allowed to continue without meeting all the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements.

For employers, this may allow them to retain plans that are less expensive than ACA compliant plans which utilize uniform rating methodology and are not subject to health underwriting.

Complete details from insurance carriers have not yet been received, but we anticipate all will allow employers the option to continue their transitional relief plans.

For more information the HHS issued this Final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) for 2019, as well as a press release offering a brief summary of the regulations.

Have questions? Contact your advisor today: 913.341.8998

Infographic: Six Secrets of Injury-Free Workplaces
Provided by Missouri Employers Mutual 

30 Mar

April 2018 TrussConnect


Real Media Featured CEO Steve Nicholson in LinkedIn Business Series

Real Media LLC recently introduced a new LinkedIn business series called “Real Talk.” Joel Goldberg hosts KC Metro CEOs, Business Owners, Thought Leaders and Influencers to talk about what they do, how they do it, and what they are doing in our community. We are proud to be a part of this new series and our CEO Steve Nicholson was featured in the first episode. Check-out Real Media’s LinkedIn page for updates, clips, and future guests! These area leaders are great people doing great things!


In Case You Missed It:
TrussU Webinar: Preventing Harassment and Discrimination

This free webinar discusses the “why” and “how” of preventing and responding to all instances of discrimination and harassment in your organization.

You’ll learn what the EEOC considers an effective program of prevention, training, and response. You’ll also learn about training options available for consideration. Finally, you’ll get practical instruction into how to conduct your own internal investigations in response to a complaint of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. The recorded webinar is available here: https://trussadvantage.wistia.com/medias/g6cnrl2mz0

Join the Two West 4.01K Race! (Insert flyer attached)

We invite you to join our friends at Two West in supporting Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City by participating in the 4.01K Race for Financial Fitness-Virtual Edition. This fitness challenge event is a great way to log the workouts you were already going to do from April 2 – 19 and compete against others in your peer group. Or it’s a great reason to start working out!

As a sponsor of this event, Two West will make a contribution to Junior Achievement for each friend of Two West that signs up. There are a limited number of free entries so register today! Deadline to register is April 2. www.racery.com/r/401k-race-financial-fitness-virtual-edition/

Join us! Here are a few of our upcoming webinars

April 19, 2018: Investing in your Portfolio presented by Two West Advisors
Our financial education webinars are designed to help you make that plan.

May 2, 2018: A Fiduciary’s Approach to Investments Edition presented by Two West Advisors

Understand the fiduciary implications of investment selection, follow best practices, and maximize participant outcomes.



06 Mar

March 2018 TrussConnect


Don’t Count on Luck When it Comes to Protecting Your Business

Merchants Bonding Company Named Truss a Champion in Surety 

Merchant Bonding Company recognized the Truss Surety team for their excellence and year-over-year achievements. Champions represent some of the top surety professionals in the nation while demonstrating surety professionalism, commitment to future growth and understanding of common sense underwriting approach.

Learn more about Merchants Bonding Company.

TrussU Presents: Preventing and Responding to Harassment, Keeping the EEOC Happy

Hosts: Jeff DeWolf, Practice Leader  |  Stephanie Moore, SPHR, Senior Consultant
March 20, 2018  |  12 p.m. – 1 p.m. CSP

Due to the popularity of our first free webinar on this topic, we are offering this second session.

Unless you’ve been living on a different planet, you know that harassment is still alive and well in our society. Employers are obligated to provide a safe and respectful work environment for employees. To do this, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expects us to both prevent and respond to discrimination and harassment in our work places.

Join us as we share our thoughts on best practices for demonstrating your commitment to preventing workplace disrespect and responding to it should it occur. While we’d like to keep the EEOC happy with our efforts, it’s the right thing to do to keep our employees happy with their experiences at work.

Space is limited to 50 participants.
One Professional Development Credit Available (HRCI and SHRM)
Register today at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/truss-webinar-preventing-and-responding-to-harassment-additional-session-tickets-43846623431

Two West Featured in Dimensional’s Newsletter

The winter edition of Dimensional’s DC Dimensions features an in-depth discussion with Two West Advisors’ CEO Marko Ungashick, AIF® and CIO Vern Cushenbery, CFA, CPA. In this feature, “Focusing on Income for Better Outcomes,” they dive into their views on America’s failing retirement plan system and what they believe is the key to solving the income puzzle.

Two West believes that America’s retirement plan system is ready for a makeover and they are focusing their efforts towards educating plan sponsors and participants and providing the tools and investment solutions needed to help shift the focus towards a sustainable income in retirement.

For more details about how Two West is working to help create better outcomes for retirees, read the latest edition: http://www.twowestcompanies.com/dc-dimensions-feature/ .

07 Nov

November TrussConnect

Jason Patchen

Commercial Auto Industry Sees Significant Premium Increases
by Jason Patchen
Chief Marketing Officer

Throughout 2017, premiums within the commercial auto space have seen increases – some of which are significant.

According to various industry rating agencies, in 2016 the United States commercial auto industry reported its worst underwriting performance since 2001 with a 110.4 percent combined ratio. The segment produced an underwriting loss for six consecutive years, unfavorable claim trends indicate continued high loss ratios, and adverse reserve development will continue throughout 2017 and beyond. Several factors are driving these claim trends including:

  • More traffic. Nationwide, vehicle miles driven increased 3.3 percent year-over-year in the first half of 2016 and is now at an all-time high. More vehicles = higher frequency of accidents.
  • Distracted drivers. More than 25 percent of crashes have been attributed to distracted driving.
  • Escalating medical costs. Medical costs are climbing more than 1.5 times faster than other costs.
  • Risk repair costs. Record U.S. auto sales mean newer cars require more expensive parts.
  • Increased accident frequency plus severity. Rising claims costs typically stem from either increased frequency or severity – but in the case of commercial auto, it’s both.
  • Inexperienced or undesirable drivers. A shortage of skilled commercial drivers with good driving records = greater odds for accidents

While other commercial insurance industry segments have seen more competitive pricing, continued rate increases are expected going forward as a result of these trends. Our insurance carrier partners are teaming with us in an attempt to mitigate losses for our clients through risk control measures – these include implementing a fleet safety program and a distracted driving policy.

One of our carrier partners, United Fire Group, has launched the “Worth It” campaign. This distracted driving educational and incentive program aims to bring people together and asks participants to pledge an end to distracted driving. However, hands-free devices also are contributing to this issue. Full campaign details including research findings and a distracted driving presentation are located on the following website: www.ufgworthit.com.

Are you interested in learning more about the commercial auto marketplace, need assistance with your risk control measures, or want more information on the Worth It distracted driving presentation? Please contact your Truss representative today!

Recapping Recent Health Care Updates
by Mark Avery
Chief Strategy Officer

Last week President Trump took two distinct actions in his effort to shape health care. The first was to sign an Executive Order intended to increase access to association health plans, lengthen the availability of short-term medical policies, and allow insurance to be sold across state lines. The second was a pronouncement the government would immediately end Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments to insurers.

The first action, long a Republican ideal, was expected; the second was a bit more surprising if for no other reason than its timing.


Congratulations Marko!

Marko Ugnaschick, CEO of Two West Companies, was recently named by the Financial Times magazine as one the 2017 Top U.S. Retirement Advisors. He was one of five Kansas City area retirement plan advisor to earn this national recognition.


03 Aug

TrussConnect August 2017















Two West Presents: Plan Fees and Fiduciaries

Join Two West and Spencer Fane LLP as we help plan sponsors understand and comply with the strict legal obligations that apply to plan fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) as well as applicable state laws.

When: August 10, Noon for 401(k) or 1 p.m. for 403(b)
Where: Click here to register

1. Why are retirement plan fees important?
2. What is a “reasonable” fee?
3. Who pays the fees and how?
4. Who is responsible for monitoring the plan’s fee?

Attendees will receive a certificate of completion. These webinars are pre-approved for one HRCI or SHRM recertification hour.

Voluntary (aka) Worksite Benefits

Did you know that 58% of employees want benefit options that are personalized for their needs?
Voluntary benefits, or worksite benefits, allow your employees to select the plans that best suit their needs and fund those benefits via payroll deduction. This cost-effective solution helps to offset out-of-pocket medical expenses and helps to fill the gaps created by high-deductibles. These benefits provide an excellent opportunity to round out your traditional benefits program.

Truss’s worksite product offerings include:

  • Accident
  • Cancer
  • Critical Illness
  • Hospital Indemnity
  • Short-Term Disability
  • Long-Term Disability
  • Life
  • And more!

Truss recently welcomed Michelle Kivett to our team! Michelle specializes in worksite benefits and for more than 10 years has worked with hundreds of companies and thousands of employees to ensure worksite benefits are included in their portfolio. Michelle is passionate about bringing these personalized benefits to the table, and speaking with employees to help them understand their benefits. Helping them to make an informed decision is her top priority.

If you are interested in learning more about worksite benefits, or already have these benefits but would like an evaluation of your program, contact your Client Advisor today!

OSHA Releases a New Application for Injury and Illness Records

OSHA has launched the new Injury Tracking Application for employers, as of August 1, 2017, as part of the new reporting requirements that went into effect January 1, 2017. Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records and establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses are required to electronically submit information from their OSHA 300A form into the application.

The new reporting requirements will be phased in over two years. All covered establishments must submit information from their completed 2016 Form 300A by December 1, 2017. In 2018, covered establishments with 250 or more employees must submit information from all completed 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018, and covered establishments with 20-249 employees must submit information from their completed 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, covered establishments must submit the information by March 2.

The new software application should make the submittal process easier for employers affected by the revised recordkeeping regulations.  For more information, please give Truss a call or visit www.osha.gov.


30 Jun

TrussConnect July 2017

Verdict out of Southern Florida is the first of its kind

Glendy Shannon, Associate Director, Claims

The Southern District of Florida made headlines this month with its ruling against Winn-Dixie Stores stating that their website was inaccessible to those who are visually impaired, violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ruling said that when a website operates as a gateway to physical store locations, then a website is considered a public accommodation, and is covered by the ADA.

Plaintiff firms are actively pursuing cases claiming violations of the ADA. Of note, a Truss client received one such claim that their website was not ADA compliant with allegations strikingly similar to the Southern District case; however, this client did not have a storefront.

Because we see an increase in activity in this area, and we want to ensure you are aware of the potential risks. Here are a few items to consider in light of this ruling:
1. Have you recently reviewed your website to ensure the content is accessible to people with disabilities?
2. Do you have an Employment Practices Liability policy with Third-Party coverage in the event you are targeted by a lawsuit alleging a violation of the ADA?
3. Do you have a cyber policy in place to protect your company against network security and privacy breaches?

Truss has the resources and solutions your business needs. We’re here to help. Contact us for more information at 913-956-8998.


Mark Avery, Chief Strategy Officer

As expected this week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimate of the Senate health care bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The report projects 22 million people would lose health coverage in the next 10 years under the Senate’s plan (15 million of which would lose Medicaid coverage). However, it also projected federal deficit reduction of $321 billion over that same period. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a vote on the proposed bill is postponed until after the July 4th break.

The proposed bill is not as much of a departure from the AHCA. In fact, it appears to be very much aligned with the AHCA in eliminating ACA taxes and Medicaid expansion. It also would give more ability to individual states in determining how certain marketplace and ACA rules could be altered or applied. One significant contrast to the House bill is, like Obamacare, it bases subsidies on income versus the AHCA’s plan to base them on age. It appears at least five Republican senators have indicated they will not pass the bill as it stands today. One of those senators who came forth Tuesday after the delay was announced is Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas.

We will continue to update you on changes as they happen. Keep in mind that should the Senate bill pass it will still have to go back to the House for reconciliation before reaching the President’s desk. At Truss, we are here to keep you up to date on the latest health care news. If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to your Client Advisor for assistance.

Truss was recently ranked in the Kansas City Business Journal’s 2017 Book of Lists in the areas of: Top Insurance Agencies List Ranked by Premium volume, P&C (No. 6) and Top Independent Insurance Agencies (No. 9) Ranked by Premium volume, life, health, benefits.

As a reminder, Truss offices will be closed on Tuesday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day.

25 May

TrussConnect June 2017


On May 24, Blue Cross Blue Shield of KC announced that it will no longer offer or renew plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual market in its service area for 2018. They currently serve a 32-county area in Kansas and Missouri. This decision will affect approximately 67,000 individuals, but it will not affect 2017 coverage.

For further detail, and to read Blue KC’s press release, visit their website at www.bluekc.com.

How you can ramp up your network security

A wave of cyberattacks hit in 150 countries on Friday, May 12. Estimates indicate that this latest strain of ransomware – known as WannaCry – has impacted hundreds of thousands of computers. The impact this ransomware has is more dangerous than others due to its ability to spread itself across an organization’s network via vulnerabilities in Windows computers. If you are running Windows, it is recommended that you check your system. All available security updates should be installed immediately.

As its name suggests, this ransomware holds an infected computer hostage and demands the owner pay a $300 ransom to regain access. There is no known fix at this time. Leading industry experts and antivirus companies are working hard to find ways to decrypt files on infect computers.

Tips for combating ransomware:

  1. Always keep your security software updated to protect your system from new threats.
  2. Be wary of unexpected emails, especially when they contain links or attachments. Do you know the sender?
  3. Ensure you have network security liability coverage.
  4. Backup! Attackers hold leverage over their victims by encrypting files. If you have backups of your data, you can restore your files once the computer has been cleaned up.

Do you have cyber liability coverage in place? No? Contact Truss today to speak with a trusted advisor on how you can ensure your business is protected.

For more information specific to the WannaCry virus, and for more tips to combating ransomware, visit Symantec’s website.

Great performance management can mean the difference between highly engaged employees and those who are just punching the clock.

Join us on June 6 as we discuss the differences between coaching and progressive discipline, with a special focus on ways to encourage employee development and growth. We’ll also look at some of the common elements of a performance evaluation, which format may be a good choice for your workplace and best practices for conducting performance meetings.

REGISTER TODAY: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/371782645316586243

Join TwoWest on June 22 for a financial education webinar as they discuss estate planning.

REGISTER TODAY: https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/3105090488798749953

As a reminder, Truss will be closed on Monday, May 29 in observance of Memorial Day.

17 Mar

TrussConnect March 2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The March issue of our TrussConnect newsletter is available. Please click here for the complete issue. This month’s articles:

Are You Managing Risk Properly? The Importance of Fiduciary Risk and Liability Review
And the Surety Partners of the Year Are…
Current Trend in Employee Wellness Programs
How a Botched Surgery Led to the Iran Hostage Crisis!

If you’d like to be added to our monthly email list, please email Matt Snively with your name, company, and email address.