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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on COVID-19 Update: Reopening Joyce Insurance Group Offices

COVID-19 Update: Reopening Joyce Insurance Group Offices

June 5, 2020

As Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Lehigh Counties move into the less-restrictive yellow phase of Governor Tom Wolf’s three-phase reopening plan, Joyce Insurance Group will open select offices to the public on Monday, June 8th.

Members of the community seeking in-person customer service can visit our Pittston and Old Forge locations. A protective mask must be worn before entry, and remain on at all times while in the building. We encourage all members of the public to follow CDC social distancing guidelines and sanitize your hands upon entry into our offices. Hand sanitizer will be available at all entry points. No more than two members of the public will be allowed within office areas at one time.

For curbside service, customers can visit our Nanticoke and Allentown locations. The Hazleton location will remain closed to the public until further notice.

For the safety and protection of the public and our employees, we have installed clear partitions in our reception areas and in-person meeting rooms. We are requiring all employees to wear protective face masks and to maintain CDC social distancing guidelines. All offices will be cleaned and disinfected daily as a protective safeguard for our employees and visitors.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call 570-655-2831. Wishing you and your family all the best, as we all look forward to a bright future. We’re here for you now and the road ahead.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on COVID-19: Phased-In Process for Restarting Construction Projects

COVID-19: Phased-In Process for Restarting Construction Projects

In conjunction with the State of Pennsylvania COVID-19 Phased-In Process for Restarting Construction Projects and the Health and Safety Standards of the OSHA Act including the OSHA General Duty Clause Section 5 (a) Construction Companies/Contractors should follow these measures to protect its Employees, General Contractors, Sub-contractors, Associated Job-site Companies, and Personnel, Inspectors, Vendors, Qualified Interested Persons and the General Public.

Good hygiene and infection control practices must be implemented

Face Covering: In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in work and community settings. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.

  • Mandated frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing workers, customers, and worksite visitors with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Mandating workers to stay home if they are sick
  • Mandated respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes. Avoid touching your face
  • Maintain a spacing of at least six (6) feet where feasible and possible with the job at hand
  • Mandating workers not use other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible
  • Mandating regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment.
    • When choosing cleaning chemicals, consult information on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectant labels with claims against emerging viral pathogens. Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use of all cleaning and disinfection products e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, PPE.

Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of a Person or Persons who have Signs and/or Symptoms of COVID-19 must be implemented

  • Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, customers, visitors, and others at a worksite
  • Employees are strongly advised to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure or symptoms regarding themselves or others
  • Move potentially infectious people to a location away from workers, customers, and other visitors immediately
  • Although most worksites do not have specific isolation rooms, designated areas with closable doors may serve as isolation rooms until potentially sick people can be removed from the worksite
  • Take steps to limit the spread of the respiratory secretions of a person who may have COVID-19. Provide a face mask, if feasible and available, and ask the person to wear it, if tolerated.
    • Note: A face mask (also called a surgical mask, procedure mask, or other similar terms) used for a sick person should not be confused with PPE for a worker; the mask acts to contain potentially infectious respiratory secretions at the source (i.e., the person’s nose and mouth)
  • Isolation of persons suspected of having COVID-19 virus to prevent further transmission at worksites using either permanent (e.g., wall/different room) or temporary barrier (e.g., plastic sheeting)
  • Restrict the number of personnel entering isolation areas until and beyond the time that qualified medical personnel has controlled and administered the situation. Proper and immediate disinfection must be completed following the incident by competent personnel utilizing proper PPE and disinfectant

Administrative Controls

  • Sick workers must stay at home and contact your Primary Care Physician or other Medical Provider
  • Minimize contact among workers, general contractors, sub-contractors, inspectors, vendors, and other qualified interested persons by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing telework if feasible
  • We are discontinuing nonessential travel to locations with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. Regularly check CDC travel warning levels at  www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers

Safe Work Practices

  • Safe work practices are types of administrative controls that include procedures for safe and proper work used to reduce the duration, frequency, or intensity of exposure to a hazard. We will implement safe work practices for COVID-19 to include:
  • Providing resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene. For example, provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol, disinfectants, and disposable towels for workers to clean their work surfaces.
  • Requiring regular hand washing or using alcohol-based hand rubs. Workers should always wash hands when they are visibly soiled and after removing any PPE.
  • Post handwashing signs in restrooms and in other conspicuous places

Construction Project COVID-19

Safety Guidelines of Minimum Requirements

  • As the Commonwealth responds to the COVID-19 outbreak, the following information represents the minimum requirements for active construction projects
  • The Contractors shall each designate a representative on the project to administer each employer’s COVID-19 safety guidelines
    • The Contractor is responsible for conveying the guidelines to all material suppliers and subcontractors

Personal Responsibilities

  • It is critical that employees NOT report to work while they are experiencing illness symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath
  • Employees should seek medical attention if they have or develop symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell

Employees that develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 should get medical attention immediately

See the following warning signs- (Emergency warning signs include*)

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
  • *This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
  • Refer to COVID-19 Hygiene and Cleaning Best Practices for personal hygiene, cleaning (project office and job site), for COVID-19 best practices.

Social Distancing

  • Staying Away from Close Contact in public places
  • Do not host large group meetings. CDC recommends avoiding gatherings of 10+ people; and when meeting, keep a minimum 6-foot distance between people. Perform meetings online, via conference call, or outdoors (while maintaining a 6-foot distance between people), whenever possible
  • Avoid using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment when possible
  • Limit the number of people on a job site and allow personnel to work from home when possible
  • Avoid physical contact such as hand-shaking and other contact greetings
  • Inspection staff only go into the project field office for essential functions. Do as much work from your vehicle as possible.
  • Ensure electronic devices are charged every night and have a car charger available for each device.

ALL EMPLOYEES ARE RESPONSIBLE TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT NONCOMPLIANCE TO THEIR RESPECTIVE DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE

Jobsite / Office Practices (Specific Requirements)

  • *Install “COVID-19 Safety Plan in effect” sign at the project entrance and reasonable locations on the project site.
  • Designated representatives should ask the following questions to their designated employees prior to entering the workplace.
  • If they answer “yes” to any, they should be asked to leave the workplace immediately. Anyone asked to leave should not return to work until 72-hours after they are free from a fever or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  • Have you, or anyone in your family or anyone you have been in close contact with, been in contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19?
  • Have you been medically directed to self-quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19?
  • Are you having trouble breathing or have you had flu-like symptoms within the past 48 hours, including:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
  • If a thermometer is available at the workplace, the employee shall take their own temperature and advise the observer of the reading. The thermometer must be cleaned between each use (an oral or an ear thermometer is not recommended). If the reading is 100.4 degrees For higher, the employee will be directed to go home and contact their medical provider for further guidance. In an acute case where the employee requires transportation, isolate the employee, and call 911 for assistance.
  • Stakeholders shall remind/update all employees on the job site during all safety meetings/talks on current COVID-19 guidelines and ask if anyone is feeling ill. If “yes”, follow the directions listed under Managing Sick Employees.
  • Communicate key CDC recommendations (and post signage where appropriate) to your staff as potential safety talks:
  • Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen

ALL EMPLOYEES ARE RESPONSIBLE TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT NONCOMPLIANCE TO THEIR RESPECTIVE DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE

How to protect yourself if you are sick

  • Managing Sick Employees (Specific Requirements)
  • Isolate sick employees. CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be isolated from other employees and to seek medical attention and / or be sent home immediately. Reference PennDOT document Coronavirus Screening – Symptom Summary contained in the current version of the Entering PennDOT Facilities During COVID-19 Mitigation.
  • If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 or shows symptoms of COVID-19, the employee should consult the employee’s primary care provider and the employer before returning to work.
  • The stakeholder will communicate Human Resources practices for managing sick time related to COVID-19 to their employees.
  • For any employees who are higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of age or because of a serious long-term health problem, it is important for them to take actions to reduce the risk of getting sick with the disease as per CDC guidance – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
  • After notification from an employee that tests positive for COVID-19, the stakeholder will take the following steps and follow current CDC guidelines:
  • The project will initiate a safety stand-down for a minimum of 24 hrs. or until compliance with CDC guidelines for return to work.
  • Communication of positive test to all employees who were present at the job site and all project stakeholders while maintaining patient confidentiality (HIPAA)
  • The supervisor shall investigate additional potential exposure while maintaining patient confidentiality (HIPAA)
  • Deep clean of the project as described in the stakeholder’s safety plan
  • Should you need additional support services during this self-monitoring and social distancing period, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health website, www.health.pa.gov or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

ALL EMPLOYEES ARE RESPONSIBLE TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT NONCOMPLIANCE TO THEIR RESPECTIVE DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE

Personal Protective Equipment – PPE   (Specific Requirements)

  • Employees shall wear appropriate PPE on the job site as required
  • Employees shall not share personal PPE with another employee
  • While working in a potential COVID-19 environment, it is important to reduce the risk of potential exposures by keeping all work vehicles, equipment, and tools clean.
  • While engineering and administrative controls are considered more effective in minimizing exposure to COVID-19, PPE may also be needed to prevent certain exposures. While correctly using PPE can help prevent some exposures, it should not take the place of other prevention strategies.
  • Examples of PPE include:
    • Gloves
    • Goggles,
    • Face shields
    • Face masks
    • Respiratory protection, when appropriate
  • All types of PPE must be:
    • Selected based upon the hazard to the worker.
    • Properly fitted and periodically refitted, as applicable (e.g., respirators), consistently and properly worn when required
    • Regularly inspected, maintained, and replaced, as necessary.
    • Properly removed, cleaned, and stored or disposed of, as applicable, to avoid contamination of self, others, or the environment.
    • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved, N95 filtering facepiece respirators or better must be used on all worksites in conjunction with a comprehensive, written respiratory protection program that includes fit-testing, training, and medical exams. See OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134 at www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/ standard number/1910/1910.134.
    • When disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirators are not available, attempt to obtain other respirators that provide greater protection and improve worker comfort. Other types of acceptable respirators include: a R/P95, N/R/P99, or N/R/P100 filtering facepiece respirator; an air-purifying elastomeric (e.g., half-face or full-face) respirator with appropriate filters or cartridges; powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) with high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter; or supplied air respirator (SAR). See CDC/ NIOSH guidance for optimizing respirator supplies at: www. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirators-strategy.

ALL EMPLOYEES ARE RESPONSIBLE TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT NONCOMPLIANCE TO THEIR RESPECTIVE DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE

Material Deliveries & Anyone Entering the Jobsite

  • Anyone entering the project site including all outside vendors and truck drivers is to practice social distancing
  • Subcontractors are to submit their own COVID-19 Safety Plan or follow the prime contractors’ COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • The contractor will collect daily delivery tickets in a sealable container or baggie and quarantine for a minimum of 24 hours before providing to the Department/PA Turnpike Commission representative if applicable.PPCC submission, eTicketing, email, or photographing paper documents/tickets are applicable

ALL EMPLOYEES ARE RESPONSIBLE TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT NONCOMPLIANCE TO THEIR RESPECTIVE DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE

Training, Education, and Communication

  • The following process should be implemented prior to Restart and continuing to inform and educate all Managers, Estimators & assistants, Supervisors, employees, collective bargaining representatives, inspection personnel, and other qualified persons associated with any specific project
  • Initial Meeting: The COVID-19 Health and Safety Policies and Procedures will be distributed and reviewed by Ownership, Project Managers, Estimators, and Supervisors including all components and details of the Plan. All attendees will be asked to prepare questions, comments, and concerns in writing to be reviewed at a follow-up meeting to be held within 72 hours
  • Follow-up meeting: This meeting will be conducted as noted: to review, consider and address all comments, questions, and concerns from attendees of Initial Meeting to a degree that is reasonable and possible for the mission at hand. In addition, Action Item Responsibilities will be assigned and Management will designate appropriate groupings for training and education of job site personnel, office, and other support staff. These meetings should take place within 48 hours
  • Group Meetings: These meetings will disseminate all information that will be vital to training all component members regarding what they must do to keep themselves, those around them and their family members safe from the COVID-19 Virus

COVID-19: Protecting Workplaces and Employees

Resources for more information:

CDC Guidance

 Other Agencies and Partners

 Additional Resources

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on COVID-19: Protecting Workplaces and Employees

COVID-19: Protecting Workplaces and Employees

PA Training for Health & Safety Accident Prevention Through Education

Purpose

To provide guidance for businesses and employers on how to plan for and respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The outbreak first started in China, but the virus continues to spread internationally and in the United States. The following guidance is meant to help prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings.

Reference:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Preparing Workplaces for a COVID-19 Outbreak

Businesses and employers can prevent as well as slow the spread of COVID-19. Employers should plan to respond in a flexible way to varying levels of disease transmission in the community and be prepared to refine their business response plans as needed. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), most American workers will likely experience low (caution) or medium exposure risk levels at their job or place of employment. Reference: OSHA guidance for employers for more information about job risk classifications.

Businesses are strongly encouraged to enforce the mitigation strategy disseminated by the governor and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to help lessen the impact of COVID-19.

All employers need to consider how best to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and lower the impact in their workplace

This should include the following areas:

  1. Cleaning AND disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs. Dirty surfaces can be cleaned with soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against, the cause of COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface
  1. Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks, other work tools, and equipment) can be wiped down by employees before each use to help reduce transmission among employees

Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

What can employees do to reduce the spread of COVID-19

  • Employees can take steps to protect themselves at work and at home. Older employees and people with serious chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for complications.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick
  • Inform your supervisor if you have a sick family member at home with COVID-19
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Learn more about coughing and sneezing etiquette on the PA Department of Health website.
  • Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use
  • Follow the policies and procedures of your employer-related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting, and work meetings and travel

Reference:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Employers should enforce policies and practices for social distancing

Social distancing should be enforced. Social distancing means maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible (e.g., breakrooms and cafeterias).

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slow the spread of the virus.  American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) encourages the use of face coverings in the workplace where respirators have not historically been required to help prevent people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Strategies that business could use include:

  • Implementing flexible worksites (e.g., telework)
  • Implementing flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts)
  • Increasing physical space between employees at the worksite
  • Increasing physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive through, partitions)
  • Implementing flexible meeting and travel options (e.g., postpone non-essential meetings or events)
  • Downsizing operations
  • Delivering services remotely (e.g. phone, video, or web)
  • Delivering products through curbside pick-up or delivery

Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Assess your essential business functions and the reliance the community has on your services or products

  • Change your business practices to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize existing customers, or curbside pickup)
  • Talk with companies that provide your business with a contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies
  • Talk with business partners about your response plans. Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts

Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, and those who stay home to care for sick family members

  • Plan to monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace
  • Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism
  • Prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies
  • Cross-train employees to perform essential functions so the workplace can operate even if key employees are absent

 Separate sick employees 

  • Employees who appear to have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home
  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The employer should instruct fellow employees about how to proceed based on the CDC Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure.

Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

COVID-19: Phased-In Process for Restarting Construction Projects

Resources for more information:

CDC Guidance

 Other Agencies and Partners

 Additional Resources

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on COVID-19 Update: Paycheck Protection Program

COVID-19 Update: Paycheck Protection Program

Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. The program is designed to keep small business workers employed and provide small businesses with capital through the nation’s banks and other lending institutions.

The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone.

The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as:

  • The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and
    Employee and compensation levels are maintained.
  • Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. Due to the likely high amount of subscriptions, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months.

When can I apply?

  • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
  • Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
  • Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans as soon as they are approved and enrolled in the program.

Where can I apply?

  • You can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. Visit www.sba.gov for a list of SBA lenders.

Who can apply?

  • All businesses – including nonprofits, veterans organizations, Tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors – with 500 or fewer employees can apply. Businesses in certain industries can have more than 500 employees if they meet applicable SBA employee-based size standards for those industries (click HERE for additional detail).
  • For this program, the SBA’s affiliation standards are waived for small businesses (1) in the hotel and food services industries (click HERE for NAICS code 72 to confirm); or (2) that are franchises in the SBA’s Franchise Directory (click HERE to check); or (3) that receive financial assistance from small business investment companies licensed by the SBA. Additional guidance may be released as appropriate.

What do I need to apply?

  • You will need to complete the Paycheck Protection Program loan application and submit the application with the required documentation to an approved lender that is available to process your application by June 30, 2020. Click HERE for the application.

What other documents will I need to include in my application?

  • You will need to provide your lender with payroll documentation

Do I need to first look for other funds before applying to this program?

  • No. They are waiving the usual SBA requires that you try to obtain some or all of the loan funds from other sources (i.e., we are waiving the Credit Elsewhere requirement).

How long will this program last?

  • Although the program is open until June 30, 2020, we encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap and lenders need time to process your loan.

How many loans can I take out under this program?

  • Only one

What can I use these loans for? You should use the proceeds from these loans on your:

  • Payroll costs, including benefits; Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020
  • Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020
  • Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.

What counts as payroll costs?

Payroll costs include:

  • Salary, wages, commissions, or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee)
  • Employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; an allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement benefit
  • State and local taxes assessed on compensation
    For a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

How large can my loan be?

  • Loans can be for up to two months of your average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25% of that amount. That amount is subject to a $10 million cap. If you are a seasonal or new business, you will use different applicable time periods for your calculation. Payroll costs will be capped at $100,000 annualized for each employee.

How much of my loan will be forgiven?

  • You will owe money when your loan is due if you use the loan amount for anything other than payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities payments over the 8 weeks after getting the loan.
  • Due to the likely high amount of subscriptions, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.

You will also owe money if you do not maintain your staff and payroll.

  • Number of Staff: Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease your full-time employee headcount.
  • Level of Payroll: Your loan forgiveness will also be reduced if you decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 annualized in 2019.
  • Re-Hiring: You have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020.

How can I request loan forgiveness?

  • You can submit a request to the lender that is servicing the loan. The request will include documents that verify the number of full-time equivalent employees and pay rates, as well as the payments on the eligible mortgage, lease, and utility obligations. You must certify that the documents are true and that you used the forgiveness amount to keep employees and make eligible mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments. The lender must make a decision on forgiveness within 60 days.

What is my interest rate?

  • 0.50% fixed rate.

When do I need to start paying interest on my loan?

  • All payments are deferred for 6 months; however, interest will continue to accrue over this period.

When is my loan due?

  • In 2 years.

Can I pay my loan earlier than 2 years?

  • Yes. There are no prepayment penalties or fees.

Do I need to pledge any collateral for these loans?

  • No. No collateral is required.

Do I need to personally guarantee this loan?

  • No. There is no personal guarantee requirement. ***However, if the proceeds are used for fraudulent purposes, the U.S. government will pursue criminal charges against you.***

What do I need to certify?

As part of your application, you need to certify in good faith that:

  • Current economic uncertainty makes the loan necessary to support your ongoing operations.
  • The funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or to make mortgage, lease, and utility payments.
  • You have not and will not receive another loan under this program.
  • You will provide to the lender documentation that verifies the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and the dollar amounts of payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities for the eight weeks after getting this loan.
  • Loan forgiveness will be provided for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities. Due to the likely high rate of subscriptions, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
  • All the information you provided in your application and in all supporting documents and forms is true and accurate. Knowingly making a false statement to get a loan under this program is punishable by law.
  • You acknowledge that the lender will calculate the eligible loan amount using the tax documents you submitted. You affirm that the tax documents are identical to those you submitted to the IRS. And you also understand, acknowledge, and agree that the lender can share the tax information with the SBA’s authorized representatives, including authorized representatives of the SBA Office of Inspector General, for the purpose of compliance with SBA Loan Program Requirements and all SBA reviews.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Ten Tips to Stay Cyber-Safe When Working Remotely

Ten Tips to Stay Cyber-Safe When Working Remotely

With the increased number of employees working from home due to the COVID-19 virus, the potential for a cyber incident increases in different ways.

Cybercriminals know that when more people are communicating online, they’re interacting with technology in different ways – even sometimes using networks or software for the first time. Bad actors often attempt to take advantage of such situations, using deception to gain access to protected information. At the same time, corporate IT and operations teams are working overtime to keep networks running without interruption – potentially impacting their ability to detect malicious activity quickly. This makes protecting confidential information more challenging than ever.

Just about any organization that uses technology to do business faces cyber risk. And as technology becomes more complex and sophisticated, so do the threats we face — which is why every business and organization needs to be prepared with both an effective cybersecurity plan, and a cyber liability insurance policy to manage and mitigate cyber risk. Take Your Free Cyber Liability Risk Assessment

Following these ten tips may help your business and your employees stay cyber-safe, even in periods of uncertainty.

  1. Prepare for IT resourcing issues from both a people and a technology perspective.
    • When more people are connecting remotely, technology call centers may face a higher call volume than normal, and more resources may be needed outside of standard business hours. Simultaneously, network bandwidth, data storage capabilities, and computing power are put to the test. Despite this increase in traffic, attention to detail cannot falter. Businesses are encouraged to keep a close eye on these needs, prepare a plan to reallocate resources as necessary,
      and recognize that this dependency may increase over time.
  2. Ensure your network, software, and applications are up-to-date.
    • Remote access technologies have known vulnerabilities – and are all too often the weak link that bad actors use to gain access to protected information. Make sure all software and applications are updated and patch any weaknesses that are identified.
  3. Make sure your resources are aligned – before an incident occurs.
    • Organizations should make sure their business continuity plans, disaster recovery teams, and cyber incident response plans are in alignment. Bad actors know that dependency on your network and its availability is never higher than when more people are accessing it remotely and will attempt to take advantage of the situation.
  4. Review your existing policies, and closely monitor any necessary security exceptions.
    • When IT resources are stretched, organizations may need to make some exceptions to published security policies, standards, or practices. Implement a thorough review process to ensure such exceptions are closely monitored and solved. Also, most work-from-home policies weren’t originally drafted to address a global conversion to remote work; organizations should carefully review those as well.
  5. Only connect to the Internet through a secure network.
    • When connected to a public network, any information you share online or via a mobile app could be accessed by someone else. Always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your activity. Most organizations provide a VPN to their employees to ensure secure, remote access for work use, and personal VPN accounts are available from various service providers.
  6.  Use strong passwords.
    • Many people use the same or similar version of a password for everything, even between work and home. Unfortunately, this means a single stolen password can be reused on multiple sites to unlock dozens of accounts for hackers. Remembering secure and complex passwords for every account can be difficult, if not impossible. Use password management software to ensure you have strong, unique passwords for everything because passwords are the foundation of sound online security practices.
  7. Use multifactor authentication – now is the time to implement if you haven’t already.
    • Traditional user login and password accounts are easy for bad actors to penetrate. Whenever possible, set up multifactor authentication on your accounts. This requires you to provide at least two authenticating factors, or proofs of identity, before you can access protected data, giving you a second line of defense against criminal activity. This additional level of protection is particularly critical when more people are accessing networks remotely, giving bad actors more entry points to access private networks.
  8. Only click on links, open attachments, and download software from trusted resources.
    • Most people want to stay informed with the latest information, especially during periods of uncertainty. Bad actors know this and will attempt to take advantage by masking malicious links as something informative. Once clicked, that malicious link can be used to gain access to an individual’s or organization’s private information and/or freeze their computers or networks. If you’re unsure of the source, go to the organization’s website. If it’s important, the information will be posted there as well.
  9. Verify website URLs before sharing confidential information.
    • Bad actors can create fake websites where both the URL and homepage look remarkably similar to a site you trust – such as your healthcare provider, bank, or email provider. Instead of following a link in an email, type the URL in by hand. Also, make sure the site you visit has HTTPS in the URL; these sites are more secure than those with HTTP.
  10. Don’t respond to requests for information from unknown sources – especially if the request is for personally identifiable information or passwords.
    • Bad actors will attempt to con people into sharing confidential information by pretending to be someone you know or work with. Take extra care in identifying who you’re sharing information with – even if you think the request came from a trusted resource or organization. Don’t feel rushed; take the time to research the request and whether it’s appropriate before responding.

Regardless of size or industry, Joyce Insurance Group offers a Cyber Liability Insurance Program that can help better protect your business. Contact us today at (570) 655-2831 for your Free Cyber Risk Consultation.

Source: Chubb Insurance.

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