Archive for the ‘Featured Stories’ Category

Hays Companies Placed in Top 25 in The 100 Largest Brokers of U.S. Business List

Business Insurance ranked Hays Companies, a consultancy firm specializing in risk management, insurance, and employee benefits, #23 among the 100 largest insurance brokers in the United States.

The list, which is compiled annually, measures the total brokerage revenues for all U.S. based clients in the previous calendar year. Hays Companies’ 2016 brokerage revenues of $193,400,000 were up 5.5% over the 2015 fiscal year, cementing them as one of the nation’s Top 25 Largest Brokers – a position they have held for over a decade.

Since 1994, Hays has remained true to the entrepreneurial spirit on which they were founded, resulting in their continued position as one of the fastest growing risk management, insurance, and employee benefits consultancy firms in the country. As a privately-held organization, Hays’ exponential organic growth has been entirely accomplished by their team of experienced professionals.

“We have continued our growth by investing in our people and building client-focused teams. Our business model encourages creative, out-of-the-box solutions that allow us to adapt quickly to the evolving needs of our clients,” said Hays Companies CEO, Jim Hays.

Posted in Company News, Featured Stories | Comments Off on Hays Companies Placed in Top 25 in The 100 Largest Brokers of U.S. Business List

Hays Companies of Wisconsin Named One of the Top Workplaces

Hays Companies of Wisconsin has been named as one of Wisconsin’s Top Workplaces by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for the seventh year in a row.

In 2017, there were 1,350 companies invited by the Journal Sentinel to participate in the survey. Employees of the surveyed companies were asked questions revolving around how the employees felt about their job, their view on organizational health, as well as employee engagement. Here are a few of the comments that helped Hays Companies of Wisconsin earn this honor in 2017:

“The people that work here are genuine, sincere and hard-working people. The people make a business and we have the best.”

“I am surrounded by people who want to be here and do their job well.”

“We employ wonderful people who make coming here easy. And if you need help, everyone is there as a resource.”

At Hays Companies, we’ve created a synergy between teams that’s unmatched in the industry. Our employees thrive within the innovative environment that our founding partners helped to cultivate, providing a rich and meaningful workplace that ultimately best benefits our clients.

Hays Companies is one of the fastest growing property and casualty and employee benefits advisers in the country. As a privately held company owned by its managing employees, there are no outside interests or agendas to distract our employees from the business of insurance and risk management. We focus exclusively on meeting the goals established by our clients. Hays Companies is built to be flexible and we collaborate with clients to find business efficient solutions that can be improved upon incrementally over time. Our 700+ team represents a dynamic, entrepreneurial assembly of the best and brightest in the industry.

2018 ACA Safe Harbor Percentages Will Decrease

As the Hays Research and Compliance team plans ahead, we want to inform our clients that there will be safe harbor changes to consider for 2018.

The affordability percentage, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for 2018 will be 9.56%, a decrease from the 2017 safe harbor percentage of 9.69 %.


On May 5, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Procedure 2017-36 to index the contribution percentages in 2018 for purposes of determining the affordability of an employer’s plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

For plan years beginning in 2018, employer-sponsored coverage will be considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage does not exceed:

  • 9.56 percent of the employee’s household income for the year, for purposes of both the pay or play rules and premium tax credit eligibility; and
  • 8.05 percent of the employee’s household income for the year, for purposes of an individual mandate exemption (adjusted under separate guidance).

Affordability, as used for compliance with the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), relates to the maximum amount an individual must pay for single-only coverage relative to that person’s household income without triggering a penalty for the employer.  Employers may use any one of the “safe harbors” for affordability (W-2, hourly rate-of-pay or the federal poverty line) to set single-only premium contributions that are deemed affordable under the ACA.

For example, an employer can set the amount an employee pays for single-only coverage based upon 9.56% of the federal poverty line and that offer of coverage will be deemed affordable for purposes of compliance with the ACA.

Why are the Safe Harbor Percentages decreasing? 

The 2018 percentage decrease is due to the projected rate of premium growth as it relates to the projected rate of personal income growth.

Issues to Consider for 2018 Renewals:

2018 ACA Maximum Out-Of-Pocket Expenses (non-grandfathered plans)

  • $7,350 for self-only coverage
  • $14,700 for family coverage

2018 HSA & HDHP Design Maximums

  • HDHP minimum annual deductibles:
    • $1,350 for self-only coverage
    • $2,700 for family coverage
  • Out of pocket maximums:
    • $6,650 for self-only coverage
    • $13,300 for family coverage
  • Maximum annual HSA contributions:
    • $3,450 for self-only coverage
    • $6,900 for family coverage
    • Catch-up contribution (Age 55 and older by the end of the tax year) $1,000

Note: DOL, HHS and IRS guidance requires group health plans to embed an individual out-of-pocket maximum in the plan’s family coverage when the family out-of-pocket maximum exceeds the ACA’s out-of-pocket maximum for self-only coverage.

Action Steps

These updated affordability percentages are effective for taxable years and plan years beginning Jan. 1, 2018. This is the first time since these rules were implemented that the affordability contribution percentages have been reduced. As a result, some employers may need to reduce their employee contributions for 2018 to meet the adjusted percentage.

If you have any questions, please contact your local Hays Consultant.

By: Ben Graves, J.D., Director of Research and Compliance at Hays Companies.



Take Back Our Roads: Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving

Pandora. GPS. Radio Commercials. Drinking Coffee. Talking to your kids in the backseat. Even if you’re not texting behind the wheel, chances are high that something happens while you’re driving that prevents you from giving the road your full attention. And while most of these activities seem fairly innocent, taking only a second or two to address, they each represent a different form of distracted driving that can dramatically increase your risk of an accident.

Fully 94% of all vehicle crashes are caused by human error – a sobering fact when you consider the real life implications behind the statistics. Hays Vice President of Risk Management Services, Tom Goeltz, understands this better than most as his daughter, Megan Goeltz, was killed at the age of 22 by alleged distracted driver, leaving behind a three-year-old daughter and a loving family.

For Goeltz, distracted driving is a national epidemic. OSHA agrees, having launched a distracted driving initiative in recent months. In a supporting compliance article, the administration states “The top priority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is keeping workers safe. While workplace fatalities have been decreasing in recent years, motor vehicle crashes continue to be one of the leading causes of death among American workers.” In addition, a study conducted by the University of Utah discovered that cell phone users demonstrated higher levels of impairment then drivers who had been drinking.

To prevent distracted driving, OSHA recommends implementing policies that prevent individuals from reaching for their phones in the first place. Goeltz supports the position, arguing that breaking the habit of distracted driving requires a similar mentality shift as our approach to drinking and driving. In our society, driving under the influence has become a universal taboo, resulting in using a designated driver or a service like Uber. As Goeltz says, the same can be done with distracted driving habits.

With their most recent iOS update, Apple will be doing their part to keep the roads safe with the new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature. The feature, which will be triggered when a phone is connected to a car via Bluetooth or cable, will withhold all notifications while the car is moving. Users will still be able to access Apple Maps, but the majority of apps will stay locked for the duration of the drive.

Not an iPhone user? Goeltz offers some additional tips to prevent distracted driving:

  1. Turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode.
  2. Use a Cell Slip, which blocks all incoming and outgoing cell phone signals while the phone is in the slip or keep your phone out of reach.
  3. Have an App installed on your phone to silence incoming texts, emails, phone calls.  We recommend one of the following:
    1. In-Traffic Reply (Samsung Exclusive)
    2. DriveMode (AT&T exclusive)
    3. Drivewise (Allstate Exclusive)
    4. Drive Safe & Save (State Farm Exclusive)
    5. Cellcontrol (Subscription-based app that blocks phone use while driving)
    6. Drive Safe Mode (Control and monitor mobile use while driving – perfect for teens!)
    7. Live2Text (Blocks incoming calls and texts while driving)

But most importantly, remember that no message is worth life or death. It can wait.

Hays Financial Group Welcomes James Miley as Vice President

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – James Miley has joined the Hays Financial Group as a Vice President. A division of Hays Companies, Hays Financial Group provides investment, wealth management, and fiduciary services on behalf of their clients.

Miley brings with him 10+ years of experience in wealth management with a focus on corporate retirement planning, which was accrued in his former role as a Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch, respectively. Miley has also achieved the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor certification from the College of Financial Planning and the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) from FI360, which he acquired to better serve his client’s retirement planning needs and to help the ever-evolving 401(k) market. In 2016, he was listed as one of the top 401 Retirement Plan Advisors by the Financial Times.

In his new role, Miley will continue to relentlessly pursue his client’s desired outcomes, offering personalized advice and access to the specialized investment services demanded by sophisticated investors. His listening skills and passion for successful outcomes keep him engaged in helping clients coordinate their financial affairs.

When he isn’t working, James can be found training for an endurance event, spending time with one of his four children, or participating in an event for one of the many non-profit organizations of which he is a volunteer and board member (notably: Boys & Girls Club, Nativity County Fair, and the St. Thomas Academy Alumni Association).

* The AIF designation signifies knowledge of fiduciary responsibility as well as the ability to implement policies and procedures that meet a defined standard of care.

2018 ACA Out-Of-Pocket Maximums and Health Savings Account Limits

As the Hays Research and Compliance team plans ahead, we want to inform our clients that there will be two plan design changes to consider for 2018:

  1. Affordable Care Act out-of-pocket maximum dollar limits, and,
  2. High Deductible Health Plan limits.


Affordable Care Act Out-Of-Pocket Maximum Dollar Limits

Last December, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the 2018 HHS Final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters.  For plan years beginning in 2018, the annual cost sharing limitation for essential health benefits will be $7,350 for employee only (single) coverage, and $14,700 for other than employee only (family) coverage.



High Deductible Health Plan Limits

In addition, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released the Revenue Procedure 2017-37, which announces the inflation-adjusted limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) And High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) for 2018. These limits include:

  • The maximum HSA contribution limit;
  • The minimum deductible amount for HDHPs; and,
  • The maximum out-of-pocket expense limit for HDHPs.

These limits vary based on whether an individual has self-only or family coverage under a HDHP.

It is important to note that the IRS limits for HSA contributions and HDHP cost-sharing will all increase for 2018:



The following chart illustrates the HSA/HDHP limits for 2018, as compared to 2017. It also includes the catch-up contribution limit that applies to HSA-eligible individuals who are age 55 or older, which is not adjusted for inflation and stays the same from year to year.



Action Steps

Because the cost-sharing limits for HDHPs (minimum deductible and maximum out-of-pocket) will change for 2018, employers that sponsor these plans may need to make plan design changes for plan years beginning in 2018. Also, if an employer communicates the HSA contribution limits to employees as part of the enrollment process, these enrollment materials should be updated to reflect the increased limits that apply for 2018.

In addition, if utilizing the full HDHP maximum out-of-pock limits, make sure that the limit applicable to a single individual will not exceed the ACA maximums for single only coverage.

If you have any questions, please contact your local Hays Consultant.


By: Ben Graves, J.D., Director of Research and Compliance at Hays Companies.

Hubbard Broadcasting: Lowering Healthcare Costs

Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. is a family-owned and operated broadcasting company with 10 television stations, 43 radio stations, and a national cable and satellite entertainment channel. View the full story on how Hays Companies helps Hubbard make data driven decisions that helped implement effective and efficient healthcare plans and how Hays Companies supports Hubbard’s continued growth as an extension of the team.



How Can EventGuard Protect Your Events?

As Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” – which is why Hays Companies created EventGuard, our event cancellation program, to help protect your important events from unexpected losses.

EventGuard provides valuable coverage for lost revenue and expenses incurred from a delay or cancelation of an event. Whether you are planning a concert, festival, sporting event or simply a conference or convention, Hays Companies will cover you in case of:

  • Cancelation of Event
  • Non-appearance of Speaker/Entertainer
  • Postponement of Event
  • Communicable Disease Outbreak
  • Forced Change of Venue
  • Terrorism
  • Inability to Vacate Premises
  • Reduced Attendance

Learn more about what our event cancellation insurance can do for you at our website:

Brian Whinnery named a “2017 Young Gun”

Brian Whinnery, director of Hays Financial Group at Hays Companies, has been named a “2017 Young Gun” by the National American Retirement Association (NAPA). The award recipients are recognized as the future leaders of the retirement plan advisor industry. Congratulations, Brian!

To read the full article, please click here.

Centered on fiduciary governance for employer groups and the individual financial goals of their employees, Brian provides customized solutions in the qualified retirement plan space. Brian was formerly a financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management for over 5 years prior to joining Hays Companies. He has over 12 years of corporate retirement plan experience and was previously named by the Financial Times as one of the top retirement plan advisors in the country in 2015.

If you have any questions, please contact Brian Whinnery at

Tax Season and Fraudulent Cyber Activity

While many companies have become familiar with fraud attempts aimed at convincing employees to wire funds to criminals’ bank accounts, few are familiar with W-2 phishing scams.

Like fraudulent wire transfers, criminals typically impersonate an employee in the C-suite and ask for copies of all employees’ W-2s. These W-2s are then used to file fraudulent tax returns in hopes of intercepting tax refunds.

According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, “This is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns. We need everyone’s help to turn the tide against this scheme.’’

The W-2 phishing scam is occurring earlier in the tax season and to a broader scope of organizations. As far as action an employer should take, it is recommended to send a W-2 scam email to and place “W2 Scam” in the subject line.

To view the official statement from the IRS, you can click here.

These risks are easily insured against with Cyber Liability Insurance policies. For a consultation or assistance with any cyber inquiries, please contact Dave Wasson, VP, Hays Cyber Liability Practice Leader, or Scott Stence, AVP Executive Risk to learn more about our risk management techniques to avoid these scams.