December 2017
President's Message
The Holiday Season - from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, if you will - is that special time of year when we give thanks for our blessings, hopefully stop to cherish family and friends and look forward to the coming year with hope for even better things to come.

Blessings. We are blessed to live in a community that defines itself as "community" and takes pride in where we live. A great example is the Turkey Transit Singers, who make an annual appearance at stops throughout the city to raise money for Visalia Emergency Aid. I am equally blessed to be part of a Buckman-Mitchell family of employees that donated $130,000 to its community and those in need in 2017.

Family and Friends. I am at that age where "children" start their own lives - jobs, marriage, college - and "family" becomes more diverse and interaction and dialogue is more about text messages and phone calls because of geographic separation. Holidays are hopefully a time for all of us to "reconnect" with those in our circle, even for a few days or a meal. I would add that to me one of the great benefits to being from Visalia and the Central Valley is the deep connection of friends. I have reconnected with some childhood friends recently and that has really reminded me how lifelong friendships are heavily woven into this community's fabric.

The Coming Year. I think we all raise our glasses at midnight on New Year's Eve with hope for better things ahead. Those who have suffered through wildfires and hurricanes in 2017 will look to 2018 for stability. We all hope for peace. We hope for financial prosperity. We hope for better health. We hope for better relationships. I hope to find those things for myself and my loved ones. I hope you do, too!
From our family at Buckman-Mitchell we thank you for your continued support and patronage. We wish you Happy Holidays and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
Brent Swanson
President / Chief Operating Officer

BMI News & Updates
Our office will be closed on the following, upcoming dates:
  • December 25th
  • January 1, 2018
  • January 15, 2018
  • February 19, 2018
Property and Casualty Trends
Spotlight on: Employment Practices Liability Insurance

From the moment that you start the pre-hiring process until the exit interview, you are vulnerable to an employment-related lawsuit. As a result, your business should take a hard look at whether it can afford to defend itself against alleged wrongful employment practices accusations. If not, there is an insurance solution called employment practices liability that protects against wrongful termination, discrimination or sexual harassment suits from your current, prospective or former employees. This coverage applies to directors, officers and employees, and can sometimes extend to third party liabilities. 


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Life & Health Insurance Updates
IRS Issues Pay or Play Enforcement Guidance

On Nov. 2, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) updated its Questions and Answers  (Q&As) on the employer shared responsibility rules under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to include information on enforcement. Specifically, these Q&As include guidance on:
  • How an employer will know that it owes an employer shared responsibility penalty;
  • Appealing a penalty assessment; and
  • Procedures for paying any penalties owed.
Please click here to read the full article.

Individual Mandate Compliance Policy Reversed
In October, the IRS reversed a recent policy change in how it monitors compliance with the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. Individuals should keep the following in mind when filing 2017 tax returns:
  • The IRS will not accept electronically filed tax returns where the taxpayer does not certify whether the individual had health insurance for the year.
  • Paper returns that do not certify compliance with the individual mandate may be suspended pending receipt of additional information, and any refunds due may be delayed.
To avoid refund and processing delays when filing 2017 individual tax returns in 2018, taxpayers should indicate whether they (and everyone on their return) had health coverage, qualified for an exemption or are paying an individual mandate penalty.


Human Resource News

New 2018 Minimum Wage Rates State By State

By Jeff Schanbacher

Attached is a list of all current minimum wage statutes.  Remember that some counties and cities have their own rate which may be higher than the state or Federal rate.  In all cases, the highest rate for your area is the minimum.  Also, all of these rates are based on information as of November 30, 2017 and could be subject to local changes before the start of the year. This is a good time to remind everyone that  you are better off using a time clock or other daily recording device for all hours worked and that all employee should be paid based on the hours worked and not some other method. 
Please click here to continue reading the article.
Visit for more helpful information. 
Loss Control Bulletin

Safety Culture

Safety culture: today this seems to be a valuable buzz word in organizations. There are many definitions of safety culture to choose from, but perhaps the most encompassing definition is this: " the shared values, traditions, customs, philosophy, and policies of an organization; also, the professional atmosphere that grows from this and affects behavior and performance[1]." To put it simply, it is the accepted practice of how work gets done in an organization: pretty much anything that is tolerated to get the job done.
Please click here to continue reading the article.
Visit for more helpful information. 
A Word from Workers' Comp Department
Cal/OSHA Log 300 Reminder

As we near the end of the year, just a quick reminder from us regarding your Cal/OSHA Log 300's. The Log 300, as it is known, is a recordkeeping document of all recordable occupational injuries and illnesses. A recordable occupational injury or illness is one that meets any of the following criteria: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness. Employers with 10 or less employees or in certain industries are exempt from this recordkeeping requirement unless requested by OSHA or BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
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Claims Department Report
7 Steps to Take After Suffering a Fire Loss

California is suffering more wildfires.  Attached are steps to take if this unfortunate situation happens to you. 
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Personal Lines Note
Why are Auto Insurance Prices Rising?

Inflation will cause the price of all insurance policies to rise slowly, but you may have noticed that your auto insurance has risen more than normal lately. Most lines of insurance cycle between soft and hard markets over a number of years, which has a direct impact on the price you pay. Now, the auto insurance market is currently hardening after many years of a soft market, which has resulted in higher prices for personal auto policies.

Please click here to continue reading the article.
December Employee Spotlight
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