All CAL Departments Update – October 2021

Employee Benefits

IRS Issues Employer Guidance for Reporting 2021 FFCRA Leave

IRS Notice 2021-53, issued Sept. 7, 2021, provides guidance for employers on how to report sick and family leave wages for employee leave taken in 2021 under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA), as amended by the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. In July 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-54 about reporting for FFCRA leave taken in 2020.

Reporting Requirement
Employers are required to report qualified 2021 FFCRA leave wages to employees on either a 2021 Form W-2, Box 14, or in a separate statement provided with the Form W-2. The requirement applies only to employers who claim tax credits for the leave wages under the relevant legislation.

According to the notice, there are separate reporting requirements for leave provided from Jan. 1, 2021, to March 31, 2021, and for leave provided from April 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2021. The notice gives additional specific reporting instructions for leave wages that must be entered on Box 1, 3 or 5 of Form W-2. The guidance also includes model language employers may provide as part of the Form W-2, Box 14 “Instructions for Employee,” or in a separate statement.

Paid Sick and Family Leave Under FFCRA
The FFCRA, passed in March 2020, required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick and family leave for specific COVID-19-related reasons and included employer tax credits to cover leave costs. The leave requirement expired in December 2020. However, the Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act extended the tax credits for employers who chose to continue to provide FFCRA leave, first through March 31, 2021, and then through Sept. 30, 2021.

Business/Commercial Lines

Why Insurance Is Key When Things Go Wrong

In an age where everyone is plugged in and screen time is on the increase, hackers are getting more and more comfortable sinking their virtual teeth into insecure technology.

Coalition has seen three growing trends when it comes to cyberattacks: ransomware, funds transfer fraud, and business email compromise (BEC). The initial ransom demands made by a criminal have increased in severity by 170% from the first half of 2020 to the first half of 2021. With funds transfer fraud, Coalition saw the severity in the amount that companies are transferring out to criminals increase by 170% in the same period.

“That 170% has increased an initial demand of $450,000 to $1.3 million,” Catherine Lyle, head of claims at Coalition, told Insurance Business.

“The pandemic forced everyone to work from home so rapidly that the proper counter measures and proper mechanisms to protect transactions weren’t put in place fast enough, it exposed lot of venerabilities for hackers to take advantage of,” said Guy Simkin, CEO of the Cyber Insurance Academy.

“The remote nature of work and COVID-19 has changed the landscape of communication which then shifted the landscape of security,” Lyle explained. “In a click culture where everyone is trying to help their customers, hackers are able to stay in systems longer.”

Attackers have found their way into insecure technology and are going to continue to be aggressive, transverse the system, figure out where key servers are, what to encrypt and where backups are stored.

To continue reading, click HERE!

Private Client Services

The Private Client Services team has been busy providing risk management guidance to our clients around wildfire, smoke, blowing embers, water and theft. All CA home insurance companies have experienced major losses over the last three years and 2021 is on pace to continue that devastating trend. With this in mind, the industry is looking at all possible tools to minimize the chance of damage to a home. New tools are available, and will continue to evolve, as the home industry addresses these loss trends. Two new wildfire mitigation tools are now available and certainly worth considering. Following these links to learn about a fire retardant spray for fences and vegetation from Premier Solutions and a water-foam blanket system from Frontline Wildfire Defense:

U.S. Approves Fire Retardant That Could Be ‘Game-Changer’ in Fighting Wildfires

Wildfire Defense System – Home Fire Sprinkler Protection | Frontline (