Simple Ways to Improve Your Health


Get Active:

Did you know that exercising regularly could help you fight off chronic conditions and diseases? Exercise can help control your blood pressure, blood sugar and weight, raise your “good” cholesterol, and prevent diseases such as colorectal cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. If you’re ready to get active, keep the following tips in mind:
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (e.g., briskly walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (e.g., running) every week.
  • Incorporate muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
  • Avoid injuries by doing the following three steps each workout:
    • Warm up: Warming up allows your body time to adjust from rest to activity. Always remember to gradually increase the intensity of your warmup to reduce stress to your bones, muscles and heart.
    • Cool down: As with warming up, cooling down should include movements similar to those in your workout, but at a gradually decreasing level of intensity.
    • Stretch: After cooling down, stretching helps to build flexibility and range of motion. When stretching, remember to use gentle, fluid movements and to breathe normally.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting enough sleep isn’t always possible, but inadequate sleep is a bigger problem than you may think.  Getting an adequate amount of sleep is vital to staying healthy and avoiding fatigue. Fatigue causes drowsiness, moodiness, loss of energy, inability to focus, and lack of motivation and alertness, which can, in turn, cause decreased productivity and even be a safety hazard. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Even if it means rearranging your schedule, make sleep a priority.
If you are struggling to fall asleep or get a restful night’s sleep, try the following tips:
  • Maintain healthy habits, such as eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, managing your stress levels and not smoking—all of which will help you sleep better at night and give you more energy throughout the day.
  • Create and stick to a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, including on weekends. Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature and is quiet. Find a relaxing pre-sleep activity, such as listening to soft music or reading.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, large meals and rigorous exercise within a few hours of bedtime.

 Eating 101

Eating a well-balanced diet is key to maintaining your health. In fact, improving your diet could help you live longer and reduce the chances of developing costly chronic diseases. Keep the following tips in mind when you’re getting started on your healthy eating journey:
  • Get a personalized eating plan. Speak with your doctor to develop a plan that will give you the amounts of each food group you need daily. Your doctor may recommend you seek out a registered dietician or nutritionist to create the best plan for you.
  • Set realistic goals. You are more likely to succeed in reaching realistic goals when you make changes gradually. Start with small changes.
  • Balance your plate with a variety of foods. Fifty percent of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, 25 percent with lean meat, poultry or fish, and 25 percent with grains.
  • Eat slowly. It takes between 15-20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body is getting food. When your brain gets this message, you may stop feeling hungry.
  • Practice portion control. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat. Talk with your doctor or visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s website to learn more about proper portion sizes and daily food intake customized to your age, gender and activity level.
Please speak with your doctor if you have questions about fitness programs and/or healthy eating or how you can get started.   If these tips do not help you sleep better, or you suspect you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or insomnia, see your doctor.

Financial Moves to Consider During the COVID-19 Pandemic


The COVID-19 outbreak has spurred an economic crisis as well as a health-related one. Millions of Americans are now unemployed, frightened, and wondering how they’ll pay their bills in the coming weeks or months. And while it’s a scary time to be living through, there are a few moves you can make to protect yourself financially.

  1. Boost Your Emergency Fund (if possible) – Having emergency savings is crucial at all times, but it’s especially important during periods like this, when unemployment is rampant and economic uncertainty abounds. A solid emergency fund is one with enough money to cover three to six months of essential living expenses, and right now, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to hit the higher end of that range. If you’re still working, use your paycheck to pad your savings — especially if you don’t have three months of expenses in the bank.
  2. Leave Your Stock Portfolio Alone – The stock market has been swinging lately, and while it may be tempting to cash out investments to avoid further losses, doing so will only lock in any losses you’re already looking at. Rather than go that route, remind yourself that if you sit back and ride things out, the stock market is likely to recover in time. That said, you don’t have to leave your stock portfolio alone if what you’re doing is buying more stocks. Now’s a great time to invest in quality companies whose stock is on sale, so if you’re good on the emergency savings front, you can use your spare cash to add to or diversify your portfolio.
  3. Keep Putting Money Away For Retirement – When the prospect of unemployment looms over you, you may not give a hoot about what your finances will look like 20, 30, or 40 years from now. But just as now’s a good time to add to your stock portfolio, so too is it a good time to keep funding your 401(k) or IRA, provided you’re financially able to do so. The money you invest in that account now can be used to score discounted investments that could grow exponentially over time.
  4. Apply For a Home Equity Line of Credit – Even if you’re still working today, you never know whether the ongoing crisis will force you out of a job. And if you’re already unemployed, it could take quite a long time to secure a paycheck again. As such, having access to extra money is crucial, so if you’re low on emergency savings but own a home, it could pay to apply for a home equity line of credit. That way, you’re not borrowing money you immediately accrue interest on, as would be the case with a home equity loan. Rather, you’re giving yourself the option to borrow as you need to.

A final thought: The most important thing to do now is take a deep breath and resist the urge to panic. Panic leads to irrational thinking, which leads to poor financial decisions.  The COVID-19 pandemic is a terrible and frightening situation. There’s uncertainty surrounding how long the outbreak will last, how bad it will get, and many other variables. But we will get through it. So make some smart and rational financial decisions and focus on what’s really important — your health and the health of the people you care about.


Works Cited
Backman, Maurie. “5 Smart Financial Moves to Make During the COVID-19 Outbreak.” The Motley Fool, 7 Apr. 2020, Accessed 7 May 2020.
“Coronavirus and Your Finances: Here’s How to React.” The Ascent, 13 Mar. 2020,

HR Compliance Bulletin: IRS Issues Guidance on Tax Credits for Coronavirus Paid Leave

Small and midsize employers may begin using two new refundable payroll tax credits to obtain reimbursement for the costs of providing coronavirus-related leave to their employees, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced on March 20, 2020.

This relief is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act), which was enacted on March 18, 2020. The Act provides funds for employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave, either for their employees’ own health needs or to care for their family members. The Act aims to help employers keep workers on their payrolls while ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This Compliance Bulletin provides the DOL and IRS’ guidance.

HR Compliance Bulletin: Guidance on Tax Credits for Coronavirus Paid Leave

If you have any questions or would like additional information please contact our office at 617-723-0700.

Risk Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Most of us are now working from home, but everyone at Cleary Insurance is still available to assist you with your insurance and risk management needs, as are all the insurance carriers we represent. We will still meet with you if required, but we strongly encourage all communication to be via email or telephone.

In this past week, we have fielded many inquiries from our clients, and the areas of greatest concern appear to be the following:

  1. Health Insurance: routine doctor and dentist office visits have all been cancelled or postponed, as has any elective or non-emergency surgery. This is being done both to stem the spread of the coronavirus, and to prepare for the anticipated need for hospitals to adequately respond to patients with COVID 19.  Health insurance carriers have also eliminated co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance for all coronavirus related testing, procedures, and treatments.
  2. Loss of Income/Business Interruption Insurance: Many clients have asked if this coverage applies to the current pandemic, and the unfortunate answer is no. Lawsuits are being filed in New Orleans, legislation has been introduced in New Jersey, and industry associations are lobbying Congress to pass Terrorism-like insurance relief funds, but as of now, there is no such coverage available.
  3. Cyber Liability: In the past three months, over 4,000 domain names have been registered with the terms “Corona” or “Covid”. Hackers will be looking to exploit employees working from home with phishing emails, knowing that new procedures at work, combined with improper (or non-existent) firewalls, will provide easy prey for these scams. Please be vigilant and on the lookout for such fraudulent emails.
  4. Workers Compensation: Workers Compensation cases relating to COVID 19 illness will be determined on a case to case basis. A worker becoming sick from the flu is not typically covered under Workers Compensation. In order to be covered, it must be demonstrated that the illness was contracted as a direct result of employment, with a greater risk than that from the general public. A health worker treating flu patients could fall into this category, but such would not apply to most occupations.

As always, we welcome your questions, emails, and calls. We will also be updating our postings to make sure that we provide the best risk management advice to our clients during these turbulent and unnerving times.

While You Are Away, Cybercriminals Will Prey

Travel seems to be on everyone’s calendar this winter. If that’s the case for you, safety and security are likely uppermost on your minds today. So great is the concern that 72% of U.S. travelers said they would pay more for their vacation if they could ensure greater security, according to a recent survey by Travelzoo. What travelers may not realize is that cybercrime is now as much a threat, if not more, than conventional dangers.

Whatever your travel plans, you should be aware of the following safety and security issues:

A Safe-Travel Cyber Checklist

Don’t discuss travel plans on social media.  Social media is great for keeping family and friends informed about your travels, but sharing can backfire if cybercriminals find out when you are away and burgle your home. Do not post travel dates or itineraries, and warn your children not to share their own or your travel plans — and never to reveal when no one is home.

Be wary of public Wi-Fi. You should always use secure connections when going online in public places. If you have to use an unsecured connection, never check bank balances, login to credit card or other accounts, or share important personal information. This information can easily be stolen over an unsecure network. Also, turn off Bluetooth and other connectivity features when in a public area, as these features can be just as vulnerable as Wi-Fi.

Be careful getting cash and making payments. Be cautious of where you make payments or get cash, since these are the key access points for identity theft among cybercriminals. Using ATMs at a bank branch is safer than using standalone ATMs, and using a credit card for merchandise purchases is safer than using a debit card, which provides direct access to a bank account. You should be sure that your liability policy has identity theft coverage.

Turn off home computers. Many people leave their computers on as a matter of habit, but always-on computers are more susceptible to hacking.

Back up all data. Storing all sensitive files in a secure facility on the cloud is recommended, as is backing up data onto a removable storage device that can be kept in a home safe.

Change passwords. If you are taking an iPhone on your trip, we suggest you change your Apple ID password to something long and difficult to hack. Also remove credit card information associated with your Apple account and turn on the lock-screen passcode. That way, if your phone is lost or stolen, little information can be accessed. Also turn on the “Find My Phone” feature, which can help you find a misplaced or stolen device and the information stored on it.

Register for the Smart Traveler program. The State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at is a free service that allows citizens traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy. Enrollment enables embassies to reach travelers in an emergency, as well as help family and friends contact the travelers.

Protect the home while away.  If you will be gone for any period of time you should take the following steps to protect their homes from cybercriminals:

  • Alert the home alarm provider so they will know the house is vacant; ask their alarm company if they offer an encryption tool for their home security system to make it less vulnerable to hackers.
  • Disconnect the garage door opener and lock it manually to protect from criminals who can crack the electronic code.
  • Unplug any devices or appliances connected to the internet.


Slip and Falls: Where Do You Stand?

Presented by: Christopher F. Hawthorne, CPCU, CIC

As we settle into winter, it is an appropriate time to revisit the issue of liability from slip and falls (S&F).  As mentioned in prior Cleary Quarterly articles, the Massachusetts laws have changed making it easier to establish liability to those involved. As such, we are seeing an increasing number of slip and fall claims filed against our clients.  When someone is injured, who is responsible?


S&F claims can be quite large and long-lasting claims.  When a person is initially injured, the extent of the damage, medical bills, possible lost wages and other pain and suffering are unknown and therefore a personal injury attorney often will wait as long as possible before filing a lawsuit against the potentially responsible parties.


As an example, Mr. Smith is walking into a local restaurant and slips on ice.  After Mr. Smith falls and injures himself, he or his attorney may identify several potentially responsible parties.  Those responsible might be the restaurant, the property owner or a snow removal contractor if one is used. All three will need to notify their General Liability insurance carrier and potentially, three different carriers will then post a reserve on their insured’s file be it the restaurant, the property owner and the snow removal contractor.


All three carriers then will wait to hear from Mr. Smith’s attorney.  These losses can sit for several years before the actual suit arrives to allow the loss to grow. Meanwhile all three parties are paying premiums based on the assumption that their insurance is responsible and this can raise the rates for all three.


To avoid this scenario, consider the following risk management steps:

  1. Risk Transfer between the property owner and the restaurant via the lease. The lease should spell out who is responsible for snow and ice removal and be clear to what degree. (Parking lots, walkways, steps, roof, etc.)
  2. Risk Transfer between the responsible party above and the snow removal contractor. This agreement should be just as clear in terms of which party will handle the different areas where snow and ice will accumulate.
  3. In each case an attorney should be used to have the responsible party indemnify, hold harmless and defend the other party.
  4. Verification of Insurance and the limits for the ultimate responsible party with particular attention to affirming that there is no exclusion in General Liability policy of the responsible party for the removal of ice and snow.


In this example, if the property owner via the lease takes responsibility and also hires the snow removal contractor, then the lease should protect the restaurant and the contract between the snow removal contractor and the property owner should protect the property owner.


The end result after a slip and fall is the easy identification of which party will handle the claim and allow the other two parties to protect their loss history and future premiums. This subject deserves close attention by all three parties to make sure they know where they stand after someone falls.

Cadillac Tax and Other Key ACA Taxes Repealed


On Dec. 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law a spending bill that prevents a government shutdown and repeals the following three taxes and fees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

  • The Cadillac tax on high-cost group health coverage, beginning in 2020;
  • The medical devices excise tax, beginning in 2020; and
  • The health insurance providers fee, beginning in 2021.

The law also extends PCORI fees to fiscal years 2020-2029.


Employers should be aware of the evolving applicability of existing ACA taxes and fees so that they know how the ACA affects their bottom lines. Cleary Insurance, Inc. will continue to keep you informed of changes.

Cadillac Tax

The ACA imposes a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost group health coverage, also known as the “Cadillac tax.” This provision taxes the amount, if any, by which the monthly cost of an employee’s applicable employer-sponsored health coverage exceeds the annual limitation (called the employee’s excess benefit). The tax amount for each employee’s coverage will be calculated by the employer and paid by the coverage provider.

Although originally intended to take effect in 2013, the Cadillac tax was immediately delayed until 2018 following the ACA’s enactment. A federal budget bill enacted for 2016 further delayed implementation of this tax until 2020, and also:

  • Removed a provision prohibiting the Cadillac tax from being deducted as a business expense; and
  • Required a study to be conducted on the age and gender adjustment to the annual limit.

Then, a 2018 continuing spending resolution delayed implementation of the Cadillac tax for an additional two years, until 2022.

There was some indication that these delays would eventually lead to an eventual repeal of the Cadillac tax provision altogether. The Cadillac tax has been a largely unpopular provision since its enactment, and a number of bills have been introduced into Congress to repeal this tax over the past several years.

The 2019 continuing spending resolution fully repeals the Cadillac tax, beginning with the 2020 taxable year.

Health Insurance Providers Fee

Beginning in 2014, the ACA imposed an annual, nondeductible fee on the health insurance sector, allocated across the industry according to market share. This health insurance providers fee, which is treated as an excise tax, is required to be paid by Sept. 30 of each calendar year. The first fees were due Sept. 30, 2014.

The 2016 federal budget suspended collection of the health insurance providers fee for the 2017 calendar year. Thus, health insurance issuers were not required to pay these fees for 2017. However, this moratorium expired at the end of 2017. A 2019 continuing resolution provided an additional one-year moratorium on the health insurance providers fee for the 2019 calendar year, although the fee continued to apply for the 2018 calendar year.

The 2019 continuing spending resolution fully repeals the health insurance providers fee, beginning with the 2021 calendar year. Employers are not directly subject to the health insurance providers fee. However, in many cases, providers of insured plans have been passing the cost of the fee on to the employers sponsoring the coverage. As a result, this repeal may result in significant savings for some employers on their health insurance rates.

Medical Devices Excise Tax

The ACA also imposes a 2.3 percent excise tax on the sales price of certain medical devices, effective beginning in 2013. Generally, the manufacturer or importer of a taxable medical device is responsible for reporting and paying this tax to the IRS. The 2016 federal budget suspended collection of the medical devices tax for two years, in 2016 and 2017. As a result, this tax did not apply to sales made between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017. A 2018 continuing resolution extended this moratorium for an additional two years, through the 2019 calendar year. The moratorium is set to expire beginning in 2020.

The 2019 continuing spending resolution fully repeals the medical devices tax, beginning in 2020. Therefore, as a result of both moratoriums and the repeal, the medical devices tax does not apply to any sales made after Jan. 1, 2016.

PCORI Fees The ACA created the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to help patients, clinicians, payers and the public make informed health decisions by advancing comparative effectiveness research. The Institute’s research is funded, in part, by fees paid by health insurance issuers and sponsors of self-insured health plans. Under the ACA, the PCORI fees were scheduled to apply to policy or plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2012, and before Oct. 1, 2019.

The 2019 continuing spending resolution reinstates PCORI fees for the 2020-2029 fiscal years. As a result, specified health insurance policies and applicable self-insured health plans must continue to pay these fees through 2029.

This ACA Compliance Bulletin is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.
© 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Prepare & Prevent, Don’t Repair & Repent”

Presented by: Jonathan Hall

When was the last time you checked your smoke alarm? How about your fire extinguisher? Where will you and your family meet when you need to evacuate? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you are not alone. September is National Preparedness month and it’s important for all of us to take a moment to ensure what we value is safe. The best way to protect yourself is to prevent a loss from occurring.

Did you know that the US Fire Administration found in 2017 that every 24 seconds, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere in the nation? In addition, a home fire occurs every 88 seconds and half of home fire deaths happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Taking steps to prepare and prevent will save your life and your property. My family and I went through our own fire safety and prevention planning this month. We found two malfunctioning fire alarms and a fire extinguisher that expired four years ago!

“Prepared, Not Scared”

The thought of needing to rely on an emergency kit or plan seems frightening, but not something I prioritize in my daily life. Having an emergency plan for any type of disaster will ensure you and your family are prepared in the case of a fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or any other potential disaster.  Creating an emergency kit to keep in your home and in your car takes moments vs. what it could save you in the event it wasn’t accessible when you needed it most.
You can also create your own custom emergency plan for any weather related scenario by visiting: Connect with Weather. provides a vast amount of information on what you’ll need to plan for in the event of an emergency. They also have several characters and fun activities if you’re creating a plan with kids. I feel better prepared in the event something does happen. As Gandhi said “the future depends on what we do in the present.”





Are You Ready for the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave?

Be Prepared for the January 1, 2021 Law

Starting in 2021, the state of Massachusetts will offer paid family and medical leave benefits to employees. Payroll deductions for employees begin October 1, 2019. This program allows employees to receive a portion of their pay while on leave to recover from an illness or injury, bond with a new child, take care of a sick or injured family member or certain military-related events.
  • Eligible employees: Consistent with the financial eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance.
  • Benefit percentage: Dependent on if employee earns more or less than 50% of the Massachusetts average weekly wage.
  • Elimination period: Benefit payments begin on the 8th day.
  • Maximum benefit payment period (within a 52 consecutive week period): 12 weeks family leave. 26 weeks family leave to care for a covered service member. 20 weeks medical leave. 26 weeks in aggregate for family and medical leave. Consecutive leave isn’t required. Intermittent leave is acceptable (e.g. each Tuesday for physical therapy appointment).
  • Maximum benefit: $850/week for the first year. 64% of the state average weekly wage annually thereafter. In many cases it’s important to maintain your current short term disability program so higher wage earners who gross more than $70,000 annually will not be impacted and employees will have the ability to receive more than 26 weeks’ worth of benefits. Carriers will be able to adjust your rates to accommodate for the state being primary payer.
Premium payment
The premium cost for the family and medical leave benefit is 0.75% of employee wages up to the Social Security cap. The medical leave contribution is 0.62% of payroll. The family leave contribution is 0.13% of payroll. Who pays the premium depends on the size of the employer:
  • Employer has less than 25 employees – Employees pay premiums.
  • Employer has 25+ employees – Employees and employers share the premium. Contribution rates are as follows:
    • Medical leave – 60% employer, 40% employee
    • Family leave – 0% employer, 100% employee

Employees aren’t charged more than the state’s rate. Employers may choose to pay more to give their employees coverage beyond the minimum requirements of the state plan.

Let’s look at an example
Olivia is expecting her second child soon. While her oldest son is in pre-school, she works for a large retail chain in Massachusetts and is paid $14.00/hour. Her schedule is consistent at 30 hours/week — making her weekly pay $420. Olivia gives birth to her baby and doesn’t experience any complications from the birth. Because of the Massachusetts paid family and medical leave, she is guaranteed 12 weeks of paid family leave. Because Olivia makes less than 50% of the state average weekly wage, she receives 80% of her average weekly wage, which is $336/week for a total of 12 weeks.
For more information please refer to the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML)
Information in this letter is courtesy of Principal Life Insurance Company


Auto Post Accident To Do Suggestions

Presented by Christopher F. Hawthorne, CPCU, CIC

It is frustrating to see a client’s auto carrier pay a claim to a third party based on false information.

An example being a client who had a car, with four people in it, pull in front of him and slam on their brakes. He stopped his vehicle but he did touch the other car. There was no visible damage to either car and no one was injured.  He exchanged information but did not call the police. He then filed the report of the accident in case a claim was made against him.

Soon after we received notice that five people were claiming to be injured and that the other car was totaled. The carrier paid $190,000 and stated without evidence and due to the fact it was a rear-end, they had to make the payment.   We see variations on this all too often.

To help avoid this situation, doing the following will put your insurance carrier in a better position to defend you and not pay false or inflated claims.

Once you have made sure you are safe, we suggest you:

  1. Do not admit fault, apologize or offer unsolicited information such as you were rushing or that you are very busy.
  2. Call the police with goal of having an official report filed to support your information. Request officer’s name and badge number.
  3. Obtain name and contact information of driver and the auto’s owner.
  4. Obtain the name of the other autos insurance carrier and policy number if possible.
  5. Get the name of all passengers in the other auto and note where they were sitting in the car.
  6. Obtain the names of any witnesses and their contact information.
  7. Ask police to ask each person if they are injured or if anything was damaged (EX; Musical Instruments).
  8. Get the year, make, model and license plate number of the other auto/s.
  9. Take pictures of your auto, the other auto, as well as, any surrounding aspects that might be useful such as a traffic sign that is shrouded by trees.
  10. If the weather is a factor, try to capture with picture and print out the weather report for that day.
  11. Record name and contact information of anyone in your auto.
  12. Complete an accident report and submit to Cleary Insurance as soon as possible.

If police are not called, do not leave until the other party had driven away.  We have seen situations where both parties agree that the police are not needed, one party departs and the other party then calls the police.

If police are called, do not leave the scene of the accident until the police arrive.  If you can no longer wait, do not leave without calling the police and getting permission. If you leave and the other party stays, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

If you would like an accident form to keep in your auto, please contact your Cleary representative.

By obtaining and recording the above information, you can put your insurance carrier is a stronger position to defend you and reduce or eliminate claim payments. As always, it takes a team effort!