Insurance/Benefits Trends, Business Types in Northeast Region

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Insurance Needs: Worchester and Burlington

In Worcester, MA, two market events that impact insurance needs are a hot housing market and revitalization. In Burlington, VT, a rise in health care spending and growth of the short term rental market can both impact insurance needs in the community.

Worcester, MA

Hot Housing Market

  • In June 2018, Worcester was number 18 on Realtor's list of the top 20 hottest housing markets. This was a drop from being ranked number 13 in May.
  • A hot market is determined by looking at a combination of supply and demand. When demand is high relative to the properties available for sale, the market is determined to be hot. In these markets, there could be many buyers competing (this information was obtained from the video on this page) for limited inventory which often results in higher home prices.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is typically required when taking out a mortgage if the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is greater than 80%. LTV is calculated by dividing the amount of a mortgage by the home's value. For example, if someone purchases a $300,000 home and requires a $260,000 mortgage, the LTV would be 86.7% (260,000/300,000*100), and the homeowner would need PMI.
  • In a hot market, the value of a home can rise quickly which gives the homeowner the opportunity to eliminate PMI. Continuing with the above example, assume that two years after the house was purchased, the homeowner now owes $254,000, and the home value has increased to $325,000. Now the LTV is 78.2% (254,000/325,000*100) and the homeowner is no longer required to pay PMI.
  • Some home insurance policies are based on market value. For those policies in particular, a jump in a home's market value will directly impact how much insurance is required.

Revitalization

  • In recent years, over $2.6 billion has been spent in Worcester by developers and non-profits. As of 2018, there was an additional $375 million in the pipeline.
  • Developers are required to have insurance for projects they are working on, so an increase in construction projects can increase the demand for insurance.
  • The growth in the community means more businesses, and those businesses will need insurance.

Burlington, VT

Rise in Health Spending in Vermont

  • Vermont set a goal of 3.5% or less increase in spending for healthcare for 2019. However, actual growth is projected to be 4.3%. Rising costs contribute to increases in insurance premiums.
  • Some insurers received approval for double digit percent increases to premium for 2020.
  • As premiums increase, consumers have to make decisions about whether to decrease the amount of coverage they have in order to be able to afford their insurance.

Growth of Short Term Rental Market

  • The number of units available in Airbnb in Burlington grew from about a dozen 8 years ago, to 430 in January 2017, to 720 in June 2019.
  • Since regular homeowner policies will not typically cover this type of activity, homeowners who choose to rent out their property on a short term basis need to purchase a short-term rental vacation insurance amendment to ensure they are properly covered.
  • As potential changes to the zoning laws are considered in Burlington, it could result in more properties having to identify themselves as short term rentals which could impact the homeowners' insurance options.
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Insurance Needs: Providence, Hartford, and Albany

Some market events that impacted the Providence, Rhode Island insurance industry are the individual mandate and reinsurance program. Events that impacted the insurance industry in Hartford, Connecticut and the Albany/Buffalo area have been detailed below.

Providence, Rhode Island

Individual Mandate

  • A key factor that impacted the health insurance sector in 2020 is the mandate that made it compulsory for all Rhode Islanders to have health insurance before January 1, 2020.
  • The state stated that "residents who do not have health insurance for themselves, their spouses and their children will pay a tax penalty."
  • The pending penalty has impacted the health insurance market positively as more people got signed up to avoid the penalty.
  • Only about 3.7% of people in the state are uninsured, one of the lowest in the US.

Reinsurance Program

  • Rhode Island received federal approval for a reinsurance program that will take effect in 2020.
  • The reinsurance program will result in "premium savings, particularly for Rhode Island residents who don’t qualify for premium subsidies and have to pay full price for their coverage. Across the state’s two insurers, the proposed average rate increase for 2020 is less than 1 percent, while it would have been more like 6 percent without reinsurance."

Hartford, Connecticut Insurance Events

Hartford InsurTech Hub

  • The Hartford InsurTech Hub has helped attract insurance-related startups to Hartford. The goal is to transform "the City of Hartford into the InsurTech capital of the US,"
  • In November 2018, the National League of Cities and Schmidt Futures named Hartford as “the country’s premier destination for insurance technology.”
  • The goal is to attract the best insurance technology and innovation to Hartford, a city regarded as the insurance capital of the world.
  • They attracted partners such as Travelers, Cigna, Aetna, Clyde and Co., Deloitte, The Hartford, USAA, White Mountain, and CTNext.

Big Companies Moving to Hartford

  • In 2018, Infosys also launched its regional tech hub in Hartford, with labs for underwriting and claims fraud. The company is committed to creating 1,000 jobs by 2022.
  • Industry experts state that the fact Infosys chose Hartford as the place to locate its $21 million tech hub is a testament to the city's insurance innovation credentials and that "a reinvention is underway in the capital city."
  • DGA Careers, a company with over 30 years of recruiting talents in the insurance industry in Canada, also chose Hartford as its US headquarters in 2019.
  • According to the company, their research into the market revealed "significant demand for their services as specialists in recruiting for insurance" because they "see a lot of opportunities to connect insurers, insurance brokerage firms and independent adjusting firms with the most talented candidates in the Hartford area."

Albany/Buffalo Area Insurance Events

Medicaid Deficit

New Regulations

  • According to Neil Breslin, Chairman, New York Senate Insurance Committee, a bill that will impact the insurance industry in 2020 in Albany/Buffalo and New York in general is the "the bill regulating pharmacy benefit managers. That will do much to shine a light on where the profits are going and who’s getting them in the pharmacy chain — which hadn’t been done before."
  • The bill will make it mandatory "that an HMO can’t change the prescription that you receive and which might have been the reason you are in that HMO to begin with."
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Benefits Needs: Providence, Hartford, and Albany

Across the U.S., states and counties are introducing new changes likely to impact the benefits needs of the employees in the states. In particular, Providence in Rhodes Island is tightening the requirements of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, which could affect as high as 7,300 residents. Likewise, the state of Connecticut adopted a new paid family and medical leave law that will affect all employees in Hartford, including their families.

1. Providence, Rhode Island (RI)

Changes to SNAP Requirements

  • Newly proposed changes by the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeks to tighten the requirements for SNAP benefits.
  • The new occurrence would impact as many as 7,300 Rhode Islanders, according to the Rhode Island Department of Human Services.
  • As per the new proposals, able-bodied adults aged 18 – 49 and without dependents will be limited to three months of benefits versus the 36-month period they are eligible for.
  • However, the new market event impacting the legislative aspect of SNAP permits the provision of those benefits to able-bodied adults who cannot work at all and those that can volunteer or work for at least 20 hours each week.

R.I. State Employee Health Coverage Bidding

  • Competitive bidding for Rhode Island's state employee and retiree health insurance led to switching of over $560 million worth insurance from United Healthcare to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
  • According to the Rhode island administration, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield bid would result in a drop in employee medical claims from $183 million in the fiscal year 2019 to $173 million in 2020.
  • According to the state, Blue Cross offered the lowest bid at $562,979,000 based on three-year cost projections, versus $574,430,000 by United Healthcare, $598,929,000 by Tufts, and $653,285,000 by Aetna.
  • However, the move was met by a formal protest by United Healthcare, which claims to have lost over $560 million worth of insurance business in Rhode Island.

2. Hartford, Connecticut (CT)

Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

3. Albany/Buffalo Area, New York (NY)

Albany County Expanded Benefits to Retirees

  • Albany County legislature in July 2019 approved a change reducing the number of years an employee should work in Albany County before they can receive health insurance upon retirement.
  • The number of years was lowered from 20 to 15; however, there are concerns regarding the costs, language, and the inequity the new change creates between county union and non-union employees.
  • According to the county legislature, the new changes will help attract and retain most of its employees, considering that other counties are offering their retirees the benefit after ten or 15 years of service.
  • While the new changes were met with mixed reactions following the lack of a financial assessment, the legislature maintains that it cannot estimate the financial impact of the latest move since it depends on what the amount of the claims would be.

Research Methodology

To uncover information regarding market events that have impacted benefits needs in Providence, Rhode Island; Hartford, Connecticut; and Albany/Buffalo area, your research team explored publications in the local newspapers, which are likely to provide in-depth information specific to these regions. In this regard, we explored numerous articles and reports published in local newspapers and journals, such as the Providence Journal, The Hartford, U.S. News, Times Union, and Turnto10.com. These news publications featured details of different benefits needs impact following market events in the form of legislature changes or expansion of the existing benefits plans. In-depth analyses of four market events shaping the benefits needs of locals are profiled above, including the change and the expected outcome.
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Part
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Benefits Needs: Worchester and Burlington

The residents of Burlington, VT has a younger median age than both the state of Vermont and the United States, and the benefits desired by younger employees include extended leave and student loan aid. In Worcester, MA, the legalization of marijuana in the state and the changing landscape around cannabis overall could mean that employees will be pushing for medical marijuana to be covered by insurance.

Burlington, VT

Younger Population

  • The median age of residents of Burlington is 27.1. This compares to the median age of 42.9 in the state of Vermont and 37.4 in the United States. Therefore, residents of Burlington are much younger than Vermont's population overall, which likely affects the type of employee benefits desired.
  • A 2018 survey of U.S. employees found that non-traditional benefits are more important to younger employees than they are to employees in general. Employees aged 25-34 named extended leave (e.g. parental leave) as the most important benefit. Some other examples of non-traditional benefits desired are remote work options, on-site childcare, extended death benefits, and pet-friendly offices.
  • Another survey of people who had graduated from college in the last 24 months, or would be graduating in the next 12 months, found that student loan aid was valued more than a 401K as a benefit.
  • One in two Gen Z and millennials are interested in gig work due to its flexibility. Gig work allows them to work when they want, where they want, and on multiple projects at once. Providing employment benefits that mimic these benefits could help employers attract and keep talent.

Examples of Unique Employee Benefits

  • Rhino Foods in located in Burlington and has implemented some unique benefit programs that they believe has contributed to many employees staying at the company long term. These programs include the Rhino Income Advanced Loan program, which allows employees to borrow up to $1,000 a day from a local credit union in the case of an emergency, and on site English classes to provide a needed service for the 30% of the staff that are refugees who don't always have strong English skills.
  • Heritage Toyota, in South Burlington, offers standard employee benefits, and then does more. Unique/non-standard employee benefits include on-site chiropractic appointments; meditation room; paid employee referral program; and monthly on-site preventative body maintenance, which offers the opportunity to work with physical therapists, occupational therapists, and athletic trainers.
  • To appeal to employees who want more flexibility, Honey Road, a restaurant in Burlington, schedule employees for 4 10-hour days per week so they have 3 days off each week. The restaurant is also closed on major holidays which is appealing to employees of all ages.


Worcester, MA

Legalization of Cannabis

  • Medical marijuana is legal in Massachusetts and patients who have the proper prescription can get a medical marijuana card that allows them to purchase marijuana for medical use. It is not currently covered by insurance.
  • In December 2016, marijuana for recreational use also became legal in Massachusetts. As the laws surrounding marijuana continue to change and evolve, it is likely that employees will be looking to have marijuana covered by insurance when it is for a true medical purpose and prescribed by a doctor. However, this would require changes to federal law, as marijuana is still an illegal substance in the eyes of the federal government.
  • New York legislators have proposed a law that would require insurers to cover medical marijuana to be covered by insurers. It is not hard to imagine this idea spreading as the thinking about cannabis continues to evolve.
  • The Cannabis Control Commission for Massachusetts is relocating its headquarters to Worcester, which puts the city at the center of what is happening in the state.

Examples of Unique Employee Benefits

  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers a paid employee referral bonus program and a tuition exchange program which allows the dependents of full-time staff to attend school at about 600 colleges and universities across the country.
  • AbbVie has a bio-research center located in Worcester and the company offers some unique employee benefits including a Mothers at Work program, concierge services for employees, and child-care options for home or at a center.
  • The Hanover Insurance Group has many offices, but the Worcester office is unique because it has a medical clinic and fitness center on site.
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Part
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Prominent Business Types

The most prominent types of businesses in Worcester, Massachusetts, operate in the healthcare, educational services, and biotechnology industries while healthcare, tourism, and financial services are the major industries in Burlington, Vermont. In Providence, Rhode Island, the most prominent types of businesses are found operating in the healthcare and financial services sectors. Hartford, Connecticut, continues to be the Insurance capital of the world and is home to some of the world’s largest and notable insurance companies. In Albany/Buffalo area, the most prominent types of businesses operate in the healthcare, education, and financial services industries.

Worcester, Massachusetts

  • According to Forbes, Worcester is considered to be the country’s Heart of the Commonwealth and has a diversified economy with thriving businesses in several industries. The most prominent businesses are found in healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, distribution, and retail trade industries. Other important industries include biotechnology, education, electronics, advanced ceramics, fiber optics, and high-tech.
  • The top three major industries in Worcester, Massachusetts, according to Forbes, are healthcare, educational institutions and services, and biotechnology. According to DataUSA, in terms of the highest rate of employment and number of employees by industries, the healthcare industry is leading with 17,831 employees followed by the retail sector with 10,094 employees and the educational services sector with 9,946 people.
  • The share breakdown of the most prominent types of businesses in Worcester is as follows,
    • Healthcare and social assistance industry = 20.7%
    • Retail trade industry = 11.7%
    • Educational industry = 11.5%
    • Manufacturing industry = 9.28%
    • Accommodation and food services industry = 8.08%
    • Professional, scientific, and technical services industry = 5.96%
  • Management of companies and enterprises, healthcare institutions, and educational services hold the top three industry positions in terms of the number of firms in Worcester.

Burlington, Vermont

  • Burlington is the industrial and financial hub of Vermont with most of its primary businesses operating in the industries of health services, education, manufacturing, tourism, and trade. Burlington constitutes over a third of the state’s overall manufacturing positions. The city is also known to have a noteworthy electronics industry.
  • According to Forbes, the most prominent types of businesses are in the sectors of healthcare, tourism, and financial services. The largest employers in the city include Allen Health Care (healthcare services industry), The University of Vermont (education), IBM Corporation (technology), Chittenden Corp (finance), Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. (food processing), IDX Systems Corporation (healthcare services), City of Burlington (government), Goodrich Corp (manufacturing), and Verizon (telecommunications).
  • The University of Vermont Medical Center, located in Burlington, is the largest employer in the state with over 7,500 employees.
  • In terms of the number of employees, the most prominent industries in Burlington are healthcare with 18,347 employees, followed by education services employing over 16,276 people and manufacturing sector with over 13,499 employees.
  • The share breakdown of the most prominent types of businesses in Burlington is as follows,
    • Healthcare and social assistance services industry = 15.3%
    • Educational services industry = 13.6%
    • Manufacturing industry = 11.3%
    • Professional, scientific, and technical services industry = 7.7%
    • Accommodation and food services industry = 6.63%
  • According to the annual census for Burlington conducted by the city in 2019, over 71% of all businesses owned in the city is local and 29% is national. The census also revealed that the city’s top five business sectors are financial activities, hospitality, health services, retail, and professional services.

Providence, Rhode Island

  • Providence’s economy is found to be highly dependent on various services industries mainly due to the number of firms operating in the sectors of healthcare, finance, and education. The city is home to some of the largest financial companies and firms in the state of Rhode Island. The city’s fastest-growing business segments include trade, education, healthcare, manufacturing, and financial activities.
  • Over 30% of the city’s overall workforce is employed in the management and professional sectors.
  • The largest employers in the city include Rhode Island Hospital (healthcare), Brown University (education), U.S. Postal Service (government), Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island (healthcare), Miriam Hospital (healthcare), Bank of America (finance), Verizon (telecommunications), Johnson and Wales University (education), and Roger Williams Medical Center (healthcare). Five of the top 10 largest employers in Rhode Island are located in Providence.
  • According to Forbes, the largest and the most prominent types of businesses in the city operate in the healthcare sector and financial services sector.
  • According to DataUSA, the largest industries in the city in terms of the number of people employed are healthcare with over 13,697 employed people, educational services with 12,072 people, and the manufacturing sector with over 9,571 people.
  • The share breakdown of the most prominent types of businesses in Providence is as follows,
    • Healthcare and social assistance industry = 16.8%
    • Educational services industry = 14.8%
    • Manufacturing industry = 11.7%
    • Retail trade industry = 11%
    • Accommodation and food services industry = 9.25%
    • Administrative, support, and waste management services industry = 5.51%

Hartford, Connecticut

  • Hartford, Connecticut, is home to some of the largest insurance companies and has been named the “Insurance capital of the world”. Industries that are thriving in Hartford are finance, high-tech manufacturing, telecommunications, and data processing services. Other notable markets in Hartford are information technology and aerospace.
  • According to CityTownInfo, the most prominent employment sectors in the city are trade, government, education, healthcare, financial, manufacturing, and professional services.
  • According to Forbes, Hartford’s most prominent types of businesses operate in the insurance and technology industries. The largest employers in the city are United Technologies Corp (manufacturing), The Hartford Financial Services Group (finance), Aetna Inc. (healthcare/ insurance), The Travelers Cos Inc. (insurance), Hartford Hospital (healthcare), Bank of America (finance), John Dempsey Hospital (healthcare), University of Connecticut (educational), Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center (healthcare), and CIGNA Corp (insurance).
  • In terms of the rate of growth of industries, the share breakdown of the most prominent types of businesses in Hartford is as follows,
    • Healthcare and social assistance industry = 21.8%
    • Retail trade industry = 13.2%
    • Accommodation and food services industry = 8.31%
    • Manufacturing industry = 7%
    • Educational services industry = 7.08%
    • Administrative, support, and waste management industry = 6.44%
    • Finance and insurance industry = 4.12%

Albany/Buffalo Area

  • Buffalo area’s most prominent businesses currently operate in the sectors of health services, finance, and education. This region’s economy is focused on a wide range of industries from light manufacturing to high technology and life science research. Additionally, the region’s Byte Belt consists of over 700 high technology firms and is increasingly gaining traction for human genome and bioinformatics research.
  • According to CityTownInfo, Buffalo’s largest employers are HSBC Bank USA (finance), Roswell Park Cancer Institute (healthcare), American Axle and Manufacturing (manufacturing), Buffalo General Hospital (healthcare), M&T Bank (finance), Verizon (telecommunications), Ingram Micro (IT), Ford Motor Co. (automobiles), National Fuel Gas Co. (energy), and Univera Healthcare (healthcare). The largest employer in Western New York is Kaleida Health with 8,301 employees.
  • Forbes’ 2019 ranking has stated that the Buffalo region’s fastest-growing and largest economic sectors are education and healthcare. A large part of this growth is due to the continued expansion of The University of Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
  • Based on the number of people employed, the largest industries in the Buffalo Area are healthcare with over 20,598 people, educational services with over 11,731 people, and retail trade with over 11,605 people. The share breakdown of the most prominent types of businesses in Buffalo Area is as follows,
    • Healthcare and social assistance industry = 18%
    • Educational services industry = 10.2%
    • Retail trade industry = 10.1%
    • Accommodation and food services industry = 9.95%
    • Manufacturing industry = 7.4%
    • Administrative, support, and waste management services industry = 6.31%
    • Professional, scientific, and technical services industry = 5.96%
  • According to an article published by Ellicott Development, “Buffalo has been in the midst of a quiet renaissance, with an influx of development” with several new small and medium-sized businesses popping up in various industries such as IT and retail. The report also identifies that the largest growth was observed in the industries of education, healthcare, and financial services.
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Challenges/Pain Points: Worchester, Burlington, and Providence

Based on our findings, some of the biggest challenges faced by businesses operating in Worcester, Massachusetts; Burlington, Vermont; and Providence, Rhode Island include housing issues that have restricted labor supply, high tax burden, and regulatory pressure.

WORCESTER

  • According to the Telegram, while Worcester is the second fastest growing economy in Massachusetts, the undersupply of housing and issues with the quality of living is a barrier to the city's economic growth. A study found that 70% of people working in Worcester commute from surrounding towns. The study's author has stated that "Worcester must work with employers to offer employees a reason to live in Worcester in addition to working there."
  • The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce has stated that the biggest issue is the access to talented, qualified and motivated employees, adding that housing, training and transportation are all intertwined.
  • Another Telegram article has reported that Worcester’s dual tax imposed on businesses in an attempt to ease the tax burden on the city's residents will continue to drive companies out of the city and discourage them from locating there. Due to the high tax rates, a dozen companies have left the city and has caused 700 manufacturing job losses since 2014.

BURLINGTON

  • According to the president of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, one of the biggest challenges for a business in Burlington, Vermont is scaling the firm due to the small overall population. This is further confirmed by the finding that the entire Burlington metropolitan area has a population of only 220,000 and that 85% of Americans live in a larger metro area compared to Burlington.
  • The Vermont 2020 strategy report states that there is a significant shortage of affordable rental and owner‐occupied housing in Vermont. The vacancy rate in Burlington has been close to 1% for several years and the increasing commuting time and cost would have a direct impact on worker productivity and absenteeism. Hence, recruiting workers and business growth would be a challenge for employers.

PROVIDENCE

  • According to CNBC’s 2019 top states for business rankings, Rhode Island is the worst state for doing a business in terms of infrastructure, economy and the cost of doing business. A study conducted by the Lincoln Institute shows that Providence has the 5th highest taxes of any city in the United States. The tax rate in Providence is 3.5 times higher than Boston for apartments & 45% higher for offices.
  • An article from the Manhattan Institute states that Rhode Island has the most land-use regulation of any state as well as a vast array of business regulations. However, regulatory pressure may be less of an issue for current businesses, based on the statement made by president of Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce: "This unprecedented effort to reform our regulatory code is making it easier to do business in our state, saving companies time and money so they can better serve the people of Rhode Island."
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Challenges/Pain Points: Boston, Hartford, and Albany

The biggest challenges affecting businesses in Boston, Hartford, and Albany/Buffalo area are unpredictable weather and climate change, rising real estate costs, high property taxes, brain drain, workforce issues, and regulations.

The Biggest Pain Points for Businesses in Boston, Massachusetts

  • According to the Forbes Boston Business Council, an organization for top entrepreneurs and business leaders in Boston, some of the biggest challenges facing businesses in Boston, Massachusetts are lack of national media, Boston's unpredictable weather, graduation cycles, localized businesses, rising costs of real estate, a tightly-knit community, and permit challenges.
Unpredictable Weather and Climate Change
Rising Real Estate Costs

Biggest Challenges Facing Businesses in Hartford, Connecticut

High Property Taxes
Brain Drain
  • According to CBRE, there's a growing tech labor force in Hartford but the city is still not attractive to tech companies and workers.
  • As per the CBRE analysis, brain drain is one of the critical challenges the city faces. The number of tech-related jobs added in the five-year period from 2012 to 2017 was 2,210, compared to the 10,311 tech-related degrees that were conferred by colleges in Hartford during the same time frame.
  • Almost 3.5% of Hartford's residents in their 20s moved out of the city from 2012 to 2017.

Biggest Challenges Facing Businesses in Albany/Buffalo Area

Workforce Issues
Regulations
  • According to John Darby, the president of Niagara Transformer, regulatory reforms in the city would be meaningful to his business.
  • Darby said that his business is in the middle-ground where the "ever-increasing regulations and compliance requirements" are a huge burden to businesses their size.
  • According to a National Federation of Independent Business survey, most businesses cited their biggest regulatory pain point to be the "cost of compliance, followed by the difficulty of understanding regulations, and then handling the necessary paperwork."
  • According to McMahon, it's not one specific regulation that is a problem for small businesses in Buffalo, but the volume of regulations and the complexity of the regulatory environment that makes it difficult for businesses to know that they are not in compliance.
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Unique Insurance/Benefits Coverage: Boston, Hartford, and Albany

Overall, the cities of Boston, Hartford, Albany and Buffalo do not have special insurance or benefits coverage requirements for businesses that differ from state law. A brief summary of the insurance and benefits obligations of businesses operating in those cities is found below.

Boston

  • The City of Boston follows Massachusetts state law when it comes to business insurance requirements.
  • Worker's compensation insurance is required of all businesses with employees. Other coverage like commercial auto insurance are required if a vehicle is involved.
  • Food trucks in the City of Boston need appropriate liability insurance. Certain business types, like liveries, of course need additional insurance types.
  • Boston businesses must also follow federal and state laws regarding benefits coverage. For example, compliance with the Massachusetts Paid Family Leave (PFMLA) is compulsory for all businesses.
  • A sample of other benefits that are mandatory are reasonable unpaid breaks for nursing mothers, earned sick time, military service leave, parental leave and health insurance continuance rights (COBRA).

Hartford

  • The City of Hartford does not list any special insurance or benefits a business must offer that is different from state law.
  • Connecticut does not require commercial liability insurance statewide. Worker's compensation insurance is, however, required.
  • Similar to Massachusetts, any business owning/operating a vehicle must carry commercial auto insurance.
  • Connecticut's minimum wage is currently set at $10.10/hr. Overtime must be paid at time and a half. Meal breaks must be provided when working over 7.5 hours.
  • Other required benefits are sick leave, jury duty leave and family & medical leave.

Albany/Buffalo

  • The City of Albany lists that worker's compensation insurance and appropriate commercial auto insurance (where applicable) is required.
  • Special events must also carry an insurance rider where the City of Albany is listed as an additional insured party.
  • Cafes must additionally carry liability insurance, covering the city for $1 million. They must also carry worker's disability insurance.
  • None of the application codes for the City of Buffalo name special insurance required by the city.
  • New York state business insurance requirements are worker's compensation insurance, worker's disability insurance and commercial auto insurance.
  • The State of New York has a minimum wage of $9.70 for non-fast food workers. Other required benefits include paid family leave, overtime and short-term disability pay.
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Unique Insurance/Benefits Coverage: Worchester, Burlington, and Providence

Research has shown that the unique insurance or benefits coverage needed for businesses to properly function in Worcester, Massachusetts; Burlington, Vermont; and Providence, Rhode Island are workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance (specific to only Providence). However, these are administered by state departments/agencies and governed by state laws.

Worcester, Massachusetts

Workers' Compensation

  • Businesses in Worcester are required by state law to provide workers' compensation insurance for their employees. "The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) is the agency responsible for administering the workers’ compensation law in Massachusetts."
  • This insurance ensures that employees are protected if they are injured or contract an illness while on duty. It also "limits employer exposure to liability for workplace injuries and illnesses."
  • Out-of-state employers who operate in Massachusetts are also required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for all employees working in the Commonwealth.
  • This requirement is independent of the number of hours worked or the employee size. However, "the only exception is for domestic employees who must work at least 16 hours a week to be covered under a workers’ compensation policy."
  • Also, members of a limited liability company (LLC), partners of a limited liability partnership (LLP) or sole proprietors of an unincorporated business are not required by law to bear workers' compensation insurance, as they need a separate insurance broker.
  • Qualified businesses that don't have the insurance will have their businesses stopped by the Department of Industrial Accidents’ (DIA) Office of Investigations and minimum fines of $100 per day imposed.

Unemployment Insurance

  • Businesses in Worcester are required to contribute unemployment insurance to the Commonwealth’s Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). The DUA also and processes claims for UI benefits.
  • This insurance is used to provide temporary income assistance to qualified workers in Massachusetts when they are out of work or are working reduced hours.
  • Every quarter, businesses/employers subject to Massachusetts unemployment law are required to pay their unemployment contributions to the DUA when they submit their quarterly employment and wage detail report. The DUA then calculates their balance dues.
  • "Interest will accrue on any unpaid principal balance at the rate of 12% per year from the quarter due date until fully paid."

Burlington, Vermont

Workers' Compensation Insurance

  • "Workers' compensation insurance is required even for businesses with one employee" and it is administered by the Vermont Department of Labor (VT DOL).
  • The workers' compensation insurance ensures that workers, who are injured while on duty, "receive from their employers or employers’ insurance companies the medical, disability compensation, and other benefits to which they are entitled by law."
  • According to the fact sheet for employers, "the insurance rate depends upon the employer’s payroll, experience rating and the type of work performed."

Unemployment Insurance

  • This insurance is administered by the State of Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) and funded by employers/businesses by paying taxes into the unemployment insurance trust fund.
  • This insurance assists employees when they are out of job by providing "short term replacement of lost wages to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own."
  • Employers must file their quarterly reports, even if no wages were paid, for the due balance to be accurately calculated and paid.
  • Businesses/employers that default will be penalized according to law, which may range from fines and interest charges.

Providence, Rhode Island

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

  • This insurance is administered by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training and is funded by employers/businesses. The employer buys this insurance policy to cover accidents to their employees during work.
  • "The RI Workers' Compensation System is a form of no-fault insurance designed to assist employees injured at work for medical expenses and/or lost wages."
  • Employers who have one or more workers or employees are required by law to provide workers' compensation insurance except for sole proprietors, partners, certain real estate, agricultural and domestic service employees.

Disability Insurance

  • Disability insurance is also administered by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training and is funded by employers/businesses as taxable incomes or payroll deductions of employees.
  • "Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) is income support for individuals out of work for non-work related illness or injury" and is funded exclusively by Rhode Island workers. This insurance "provides benefit payments to insured RI workers for weeks of unemployment caused by a temporary disability or injury."
  • "The current withholding rate as of January 1, 2020, is 1.3% of employees' first $72,300 in earnings. However, workers aged 14 and 15 are exempt from wage deductions and coverage.
  • TDI and unemployment insurance and/or workers' compensation cannot be received for the same weeks. "Unemployment insurance must be reimbursed if UI was paid for weeks TDI should have been paid." Also, "UI must be reimbursed if UI was paid for weeks TDI should have been paid."

Unemployment Insurance

  • Again, unemployment insurance (UI) is administered by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, funded as taxable incomes.
  • "To qualify for UI benefits, an individual must have been paid at least $12,120 in either the base period or an alternate base period."
  • "The chargeable employer is the most recent base period employer for whom the claimant was separated and had worked at least 4 weeks and earned at least $202 each week."
  • "The duration of a claim is equal to 33% of the total base period wages divided by the basic weekly benefit amount and the most that individuals are allowed to collect of regular unemployment benefits is an amount equal to 26 full weeks."

Research Strategy

To address this report, we dived into the government websites of the requested cities, as information about doing business and starting a business is usually provided. We began with Worcester and found its detailed guide to starting a business and the requirements needed. With this, we could identify the unique insurance and/or benefits coverage that is needed; however, they are not completely specific or unique to the city as they are all state requirements (Massachusetts). Since all businesses must obtain permits/licenses from the city government and must enroll in the required insurance policies, we affirmed that the insurance or benefits coverage that Worcester city requires, are those needed for businesses to properly function in Worcester.

For Burlington, Vermont, we found that the only insurance requirement is the workers' compensation and unemployment insurance, as stipulated by Vermont laws. Moreover, Burlington's guide to doing business provides that businesses can go for other insurance policies according to their needs and will need other third-party brokers. Hence, we provided workers' compensation insurance and unemployment insurance as the insurance needed in Burlington for businesses to properly function.

For Providence, Rhode Island, we again found that it has no specific insurance, as it only stipulates state requirements, which are workers' compensation insurance, disability insurance, and unemployment insurance. Hence, we provided them as the insurance policies needed for businesses to properly function in Providence.
Sources
Sources

From Part 03
Quotes
  • "A rule change from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that tightens work requirements could lead to more than 7,000 Rhode Islanders losing their SNAP benefits next year, NBC 10 News has learned."
Quotes
  • "Competitive bidding has convinced the Raimondo administration to switch more than $560 million worth of state employee and retiree health insurance from UnitedHealthcare to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island on Jan. 1."
Quotes
  • "UnitedHealthcare has filed a formal protest to its imminent loss of more than $560 million worth of Rhode Island state employee and retiree health insurance business."
Quotes
  • "On June 25, 2019, Connecticut became the seventh state to adopt a Paid Family and Medical Leave law."
Quotes
  • "Albany County Republicans fear a measure expanding health insurance coverage for retirees with 15 years or more of service with the county could cost taxpayers “millions” because of ambiguity in who it covers."