By Dena Lythgoe, Senior Account Executive & Partner
When you think of a perfect storm, many thoughts may come to mind. You may be reflecting on an emotional storm you’ve encountered, a trifecta of issues and problems all coming down at once. You also could be thinking of Mark Wahlberg as the hunky deckhand glistening from the spray of the deadly wave in the 2000 American biographical disaster drama. Most likely you’re not considering the global insurance market. But that’s the difference between hunky deckhands and the current situation of being confronted with social inflation, historically low interest rates, increased occurrences of natural disasters, and class action payouts. A perfect storm is just on the horizon for the global insurance market, although in many areas it has already landed.
Click the link below to read Social Inflation, Low Interest Rates, Rising Catastrophes: Recipe for a Hard Market from the Insurance Journal.
By Ashley Snodgrass, Executive Account Manager
In the age of online meeting exhaustion, there are loads of horror stories about embarrassing things that happened over Zoom. Not long ago, I read a blog post of a person who accidentally saw a coworker’s husband naked on Zoom. Yikes. The second-hand, or even third-hand, embarrassment is unbearable. If you are looking for more Zoom horror stories, I am certain they would be easy for you to find. But this isn’t it.
I recently was in a training that occurred over Zoom. The training group meets regularly, but I don’t have close relationships with the class instructors. While the class is in session, participants are expected to have cameras on, engage with the class and instructors, and fully focus, as if out of the office at an offsite location.
During the course of the meeting, something came up unexpectedly and I had to step away from my computer. I messaged one of the hosts saying I needed to step away for just a minute or two. I was gone for about 45 minutes. While I was gone, I was logged into the meeting, but had my video and audio off. As I was about to join the meeting again, I heard a dialogue between the two presenters as the rest of the attendees were in breakout sessions. One of the hosts remarked on my message saying that I had been gone a while, and then added, “I hope everything is alright.”
This struck me as exceptionally kind.
It would be an understatement to say that most people are currently experiencing some level of stress. Perhaps we view the world pre-COVID with rose-colored glasses, but there were still plenty of things to stress about before a global pandemic. Any existing stress seems magnified in the current state the world. And how does stress show up in the world? It looks like frustration, annoyance, rudeness, offense, discourtesy, blame, aggravation, and similar ugly emotions.
I appreciate that my absence was met with kindness, instead of frustration that I had left the group, or annoyance that I couldn’t participate as expected.
Let this serve as a reminder: If you are on a Zoom call, even if a participant steps “away” from a meeting, they may be able to hear you. The question is – what will they hear?
By Aimee Johnson, Account Executive
First, I have to admit that, yes, I have been watching Zac Efron’s new series on Netflix, “Down to Earth” and it has become a guilty pleasure! And no I am not of the generation that swooned over Zac and High School musical. I can honestly say I’ve never seen it.
One episode of “Down to Earth” explores the centenarians of Sardinia’s Blue Zone. Who doesn’t want the gift of longevity?! Needless to say I was hooked from the start.
Blue Zones describe the 5 places around the world where people consistently live over 100. From these zones, there are evidence based common denominators called the Power 9:
- Move naturally
- 80% Rule
- Plant slant.
- Wine @ 5
- Loved ones first.
- Right tribe.
By Tonya Mott, Vice President of Operations
I know you’re probably thinking it’s way too early to start thinking about booking campsites for the 2021 summer but I promise, you are wrong. Let this blog post be a warning that if you want to camp at the most beautiful campgrounds and get the prime spots you have to book at least 6 months in advance (some up to a year in advance).
Most of the places I mention in this article were booked in February 2020 for this summer.
Here’s how we spent the infamous summer of 2020.
Porcupine Campground – Hope, Alaska Click here for details and reservations
- The view of the inlet from our campsite – Hanging with Papa (campsite #12)
- Fishing – Showing these girls how to properly hold a fish
- Hiking trails – Before and after (That’s my nephew in the background, in his pack on the ground and passed out)
- Exploring unique little town of Hope – Menu at the Seaview Café & Bar
- You’re in the mountains and have beautiful views of valleys and glaciers
- Fishing – One spot has its own private lake access
- Hiking trails – My husband thought it would be a good idea to ride the wagon down the trail. That ended with him on the ground and a bent wheel.
- Exploring Valdez
Savage River Campground – Denali Park, Alaska Click here for details and reservations (this one was summer of 2019)
- The views of the mountains and the park
- Hiking trails – The river hike is beautiful and kid friendly. My sister almost lost her stroller (sans kid, thankfully) to the Savage River. Naughty buggy, was the name given to her stroller by the New Zealand tourist that was so graciously taking our family photo as it took off down the hill. My brother-in-law saved the day and caught it as it was about half way in the water.
- Denali Park and the visitor center. They had all kinds of kid’s activities. My niece, Olivia is officially a Junior Park Ranger.
2020 has been a strange year to say the least but I will say it has been one of the best summers for our family. We explored this great state of Alaska from the north, east, south, and west ends! We are looking forward to new adventures in 2021.
By Bailey Penrose, Employer Services Account Manager
I don’t know about you, but being encouraged to stay at home during these turbulent times has really upped my YouTube consumption. Quite possibly Google should start paying me a portion of ad-revenue based on the uptick. One thing I find myself binging are the videos released by museums, many of whom have adapted their content to online visitors. Museums have always held a fascination for me, and imagining exploring their many hallways while stuck at home engages my brain while helping me remember the world outside.
The British Museum’s channel is fantastic and they have recently been releasing a series of videos about ‘Objects of Crisis’, little snippets that introduce some pretty interesting artifacts. My favorite so far has been the ‘The Meroe Head of Augustus’ as A.) the guest speaker is Mary Beard (her books are wonderful, I recommend SPQR) and B.) the conversation around how we regard statues throughout time was engagingly thought provoking.
Whether you prefer to explore topics related to art, history, nature, or some combination of them all, why not give some of these museum channels a try?
By Ashley Snodgrass, Executive Account Manager
I’m the first to say I can be a little long winded. I’ve made many efforts over the last few years to try to be more succinct, but it is quite challenging. Because of this self-criticism, I am envious of others who are able to convey their message concisely. I’m reminded of an episode of The Office when one well-meaning accountant feels as if he wastes time by using too many words, so he tries to cut down on unnecessary words in a sentence, by saying things like, “Me think, why waste time say lot word, when few word do trick?” or “Many small time make big time”. This is not the linguistic brevity to which I aspire.
I recently read an article on emotional intelligence that highlighted this concept. The author of the article shares how Apple CEO Tim Cook’s took action on a complaint email in a way that was unique to top business leaders. An Apple user wrote to Tim Cook with some feedback, and Tim Cook forwarded the email to the top executive team, with the simple phrase, “Thoughts?”
This is the most direct way to illicit feedback from your team. Tim Cook could have added his opinions, berated the email-writer, or otherwise indicated his opinion on the complaint. Instead, by requesting the feedback from other executives, he is able to gather feedback without overcasting his bias. To me this email is a lesson, not only in emotional intelligence, but also in simplicity and confidence. There is no need for phrase inflation. There is only the need for concision.
I will end this with another brief mention of the scene from The Office. One character asks the accountant what he will be able to do with all his extra time. He says, “See world.” Me think good idea.
By Alesha Combs, Account Manager
I began working from home in March of 2020. One of the first things I noticed during this transition was the shift from popping into a colleague’s office, or by their desk, to say good morning or ask a question, but instead increasing my utilization of emails, texts, phone calls, Slack messages, and video conferencing in order to communicate with my team. This shift made me increasingly aware of what most of us already cognitively know, which is that communication is primarily a function of tone of voice and body language, not our actual word choices. My new primary methods of communication, didn’t afford insight into the key ways that we communicate with one another, but made me rely fully on my words…and maybe some memes or an emoji here and there.
According to Psychology Professor Albert Mehrabian’s “7%-38%-55% Rule”, verbal content only accounts for about 7% of our actual communication. The rest of our communication is 38% tone and 55% body language. This means that when we email, text, or direct message someone we are losing 93% of our communication tools! There is some debate on how accurate this rule is, specifically relating to what topic is being discussed/communicated, but regardless it is globally agreed upon that a speaker’s word choice provides the least amount of insight and context to the listener.
I noticed that if I went a couple of weeks without seeing a colleague, I might receive a message from them and find myself questioning the tone of the message. I was left to rely fully on their vocabulary choices, and without the context of their other methods of communication. Luckily, video conferencing helped give a refresher to each individual’s style and tone, and served as a reminder for their overall communication style. This served as a reminder to me of where I may be leaving a void in the written communications I send to others.
For the past 4 years, most of my work communications have been relayed via email, so this shift to relying on virtual methods of communication was not entirely foreign, however I did find it noteworthy. I became increasingly aware of my own communication style, my word choices, how I construct my sentences and paragraphs to give meaning, and really giving thought to what tone the person reading my email would give my words.
Many of us have made the transition over the past few months, from working in an office setting to working from home, so it’s a good time to be mindful of our new communication platforms and opportunities to use them well. While I don’t have a golden rule for how to communicate 100% accurately when relying fully on words, my colleague recently shared this article, which gives actionable insight on how we can use our words to communicate with emotional intelligence. The article is called People Who Give Advice Like This Have Very Low Emotional Intelligence. It’s worth us all taking a moment to be reminded of the power of our words, and the room for error when we are left to rely on them fully.
By Diana Stewart, Executive Account Manager
Surprise billing happens when a patient with health insurance is treated at an out-of-network hospital or when an out-of-network doctor assists with the procedure at an in-network hospital. Bills for such services can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.
“Surprise” out-of-network bills have come under close scrutiny, mostly focused on Emergency Room instances where a participant my seek services at an in-network hospital, but the attending physician could be out-of-network. Ambulance transportation is known to be a large component of the problem as well, although its impact is poorly understood.
For members of large national insurance plans, from 2013–17, 71% of all ambulance rides involved surprise bills. For both ground and air ambulances, out-of-network charges were substantially greater than in-network prices, resulting in an average potential surprise bill of $450 for ground transportation and $21,698 for air transportation. Though out-of-network air ambulance bills were larger, out-of-network ground ambulance bills were more common, with an aggregate impact of $129 million per year. Out-of-network air ambulance bills had an aggregate impact of $41 million in 2013 increasing to $143 million in 2017.
As the Federal Government seeks to implement legislation limiting surprise billings for emergency services at in-network levels, federal proposals to limit surprise out-of-network billing should incorporate protections for patients undergoing ground or air ambulance transportation as well as hospital services.
Eliminating surprise billing would save people with employer-provided health insurance as much as $40 billion annually. However, surprise billing lets hospitals extract more money from patients and demand higher payments from insurers.
By Andrew Kupperman, RISQ Consulting Employer Services and Workforce Technology Consultant, SHRM-CP
I’ve written a few blog posts about change in the past, as I believe the ability to adapt to new challenges is one of the most important skills you can possess in life. But what happens when an event occurs that forces you to change many things at once, and there is an uncertainty about how, when, and what it will look like when things “settle down”?
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world at large about 4 months ago, which forced all of us into vast amounts of change in a very short period. We have gone through: changing the way we work and live in a considerably more isolated nature, learning to manage houses full of family members day in and day out, figuring out new and safe ways to go to public places, and even needing to learn about new programs available to help people and businesses keep heads above water through all of this. None of these things have been small changes, and we’ve all had to go through some level of them within a very short period of time.
It’s interesting to think back to when this all started. What I’ve learned is that when we are faced with a lot of change at once, the immediate reaction to cope with the change is to say “we’ll get through this and things will be back to normal soon”. Even though public society seems to be “opening” up a bit more, I think it’s safe to say we are not living the same way we once did prior to COVID-19, and it’s hard for me to say things will ever be back to “normal” or how it was before. We are still facing new, significant changes, forcing us into some level of adaptation we haven’t previously faced.
So if things most likely won’t be how they were before, then what? I’ve heard we’re all waiting for a new normal to come in to our lives. Is it here yet? The definition of normal is “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.” There is a still a great amount of this causing anxiety and uncertainty we are dealing with consistently, so probably not.
However, I might suggest the only standard or expected thing we have in our lives is change. Maybe it doesn’t seem that way when we consider our prior life, but perhaps that’s just because we weren’t dealing with such big changes, and so many of them within a short timeframe.
Author and motivational speaker, Denis Waitley once said, “You must welcome change as the rule, but not as your ruler”. COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to reassess and fine tune how we all deal with change. Over the last 4 months, we’ve all had a ton of practice with some pretty big changes to our day to day lives. It’s easy, when faced with a new change, to resist and rebel against it. But perhaps think on how you’ve dealt with recent change in the past, and remember how you conquered it. This can only help in sharpening your adaption skillset.
Circling back to the definition of normal, the last thing I’d like to offer is perhaps we are in the “new normal” now. If we consider change to the be the standard, usual, typical, and expected thing to happen, then that’s half of the battle to getting back to normal. The other half is simply conforming to that idea, and not resisting every change that comes your way. If you think of things in that light, then congratulations! You’ve reached the new normal!