Holiday Parties: Make Sure You’re Covered

If you’re planning a big holiday bash, you might want to consider social host liability coverage before the event.

Sobering Statistics

According to research conducted by the Department of Transportation, 50% of holiday traffic fatalities involve alcohol. Even worse, more than 30 states have laws that hold a host responsible should a guest leave and get into an accident.

Social Host Laws

Unfortunately, being a gracious host may mean more than what meets the eye. According to social host laws, anyone that serves alcohol may be the subject of a lawsuit should a guest be involved in a car accident.

Contrary to popular opinion, a host or hostess can be held legally liable for an accident after providing alcohol whether they own the home or rent it.

Following are some key tips to keep in mind when planning your next holiday party:

Don’t Allow Guests to Drive Drunk: Provide alternative forms of transportation and assign a safe driver for those that may over-indulge.

Never Serve Minors: Underage drinking is against the law and puts the host at increased risk since all illegal activity is automatically voided under insurance restrictions.

Evaluate Insurance Coverage: For those that own their home, it is important to evaluate your policy. It may, or may not, provide sufficient protection depending upon the type of insurance coverage purchased. Renters are especially prone to risk since nearly two thirds fail to purchase basic rental protection.

Limit Libations: Stop serving anyone who shows signs of intoxication and make other arrangements for their transportation.

Consider Purchasing Additional Insurance: When in doubt, seek professional advice or consider purchasing an additional liability policy such as umbrella insurance.

Explore Other Options: It might be a better idea to celebrate at a local restaurant or lease a venue. Not only does it shift the risk, but it’s a great way for the host to have fun as well.

Should You Consider Video Surveillance?

As a small-business owner, the idea of video surveillance may or may not appeal to you.

It is an affordable deterrent that can help reduce the risk of theft and possibly reduce your insurance premiums.

But is it really a good idea?

Following are some of the pros and cons of using video surveillance for your small business:

Benefits

  • Increases productivity by monitoring who is working and when.
  • Enables owners to reward productive workers and redirect nonproductive workers.
  • Decreases risk of theft by clients and employees. Research shows that nearly 75% of employees admit to committing a job-related theft at least once.
  • Reduces the threat of violence or misconduct. Workplace-related violence, harassment and other misconduct are on the rise. It’s also a potentially expensive source of litigation.
  • Provides support for adverse decisions such as firing or suspending an employee. Having positive proof such as a receipt combined with video feed dramatically decreases the ability of an employee to claim discrimination or some other form of malpractice.
  • Provides the ability to spot areas in need of improvement or retraining. Replacing an employee is expensive and time-consuming. Instead, use video surveillance to monitor progress and perform spot checks. It’s a great way to target areas in need of improvement without being invasive.
  • Saves money on insurance. It’s often possible to save between 10% and 20% on insurance when using a properly installed video surveillance system.

Consequences

  • Transparency and notification laws vary from state to state. Most employers opt to inform employees about the use of video surveillance up front. Hidden cameras have led to unfair labor law violations and associated legal challenges.
  • Employees may resent the intrusion. Not everyone appreciates having every move monitored.
  • Disgruntled employees may have reduced morale or even resent a perceived intrusion into other areas of their life, like personal phone calls or conversations that take place at work.
  • Videos tend to be viewed as very strong evidence for, or against, a given situation. Make sure you fully understand the proper process of reporting and reviewing incidents prior to installing video surveillance.

More Affordable

As the cost of technology continues to decrease, the ease and affordability of video surveillance make it an even more attractive way to reduce insurance rates, decrease misconduct and increase employee productivity.

Speak to your agent to find out how much you can save by installing a video surveillance system.

Are Burglars Watching Your Social Media Updates?

Spending your days tweeting away might be a great way to share news with friends and family, but it’s also a way to increase the risk of getting robbed.

Social media applications like Twitter, Facebook and other popular forms of real-time communication are also growing in popularity among the criminally minded.

To put it plain and simple, real-time sharing may provide the perfect way to hook up with friends on short notice or simply stay in touch throughout the day, but it also informs others that you are away from home.

Recent reports on CBS News and information from police stations throughout the nation indicate a dramatic increase in criminals who use information gained from social media websites to plan and target a home invasion while the owner is away. There are several ways to help combat the risk of home invasion or robbery, but each requires a bit of discipline. Following are some things to keep in mind:

Home Alone: Never share information about children or vulnerable persons who may be home alone.

True Friends: Limit your network to people you can really trust, or consider using two different accounts – one for casual friends and another for family.

After-Effects: Rather than sharing in real time, consider sending out a status report after the big event.

Remember, it’s still possible to use a cell phone to make actual calls rather than texting.

Insurance Deductibles: How Big Should Yours Be?

With more people purchasing their own health insurance policies, it is important to become more informed on the components of the policy you select. An often-misunderstood element of health insurance is the deductible.

A deductible is the amount of money you must pay before your insurance benefits begin to pay. Typically, the deductible is an annual amount. Therefore, each year when your health insurance policy renews, so does the deductible.

Deductibles can be assigned per person, or there can be one total deductible amount for an entire family. The amounts can range from zero to more than $25,000 annually.

Not all the medical services that you pay for will apply toward your annual deductible. Services that normally do count toward the deductible amount are surgery, emergency room visits, and inpatient and outpatient services.

You should consider just how much you could reasonably pay out of pocket if you had a medical claim. You also must consider any other expenses you must pay even after your deductible is satisfied.

In most cases, policies with lower deductibles tend to have higher premiums. Therefore, compare the price for low- and high-deductible plans with the out-of-pocket expenses you would incur should you need to file a claim. Adding the premium amount and the deductible amount will determine your overall expenses per year. You should then be able to choose a policy deductible for your situation.

Life Insurance: Going Without Might Cost You

As the economy struggles, nearly a third of U.S. households are going without life insurance coverage – which may be a bad idea.

About 35 million U.S. households do not have life insurance, according to industry-funded research firm LIMRA.

That’s up from 24 million households, or 22% of the economy, without coverage in 2004.

It also represents the highest percentage in more than four decades.

Why are people going without life insurance?

Half of the respondents to the latest LIMRA survey said they needed more life insurance but just can’t afford it right now.

Another reason for declining life insurance is less availability.

Employers have scaled back or eliminated coverage.

This has forced individuals to buy their own life insurance.

However, many people, it appears, just don’t know where to go to get help doing so.

The number of company-affiliated life insurance agents has dropped by nearly one-third since the 1970s, according to LIMRA.

And, the LIMRA study notes, almost eight in 10 households don’t have an insurance agent.

As a result, the percentage of households with life insurance outside of an employer-sponsored plan dropped from 50% in 2004 to 44% today.

But going without life insurance isn’t a good idea for many people – namely those who have dependents.

For example, among households with children under 18, four in 10 survey respondents said they would have trouble meeting immediate living expenses if the primary wage earner died.

Three in 10 would have trouble after several months.

Your advisor can help you determine if you need life insurance – and if you do, help you purchase a policy that’s right for you based on benefits and affordability.

Peace of Mind with Long-Term Care…at Home

When the need arises for long-term health care, the vast majority of people would prefer to receive that care in their own homes.

In fact, more than 80% of the claims filed on long-term-care insurance policies are for care received at home.

A number of services are available to help care for an individual at home.

Some include homemaker aides, personal care attendants, social workers and professional medical care providers.

The services offered will depend on the type and the extent of care needed.

Care in the home can be quite costly.

The average hourly rate for a home health aide in 2010 is more than $22 per hour. In some cases, for those who need more extensive, round-the-clock care, it can be even more costly than care received in a skilled nursing home facility.

The cost of long-term care can be devastating to one’s savings and other assets.

If the need persists for many months or years, the expense could literally wipe out all funds set aside for retirement and other living expenses.

One way to help ease the burden of these costs is by purchasing a long-term-care insurance policy.

While early long-term-care insurance policies offered benefits only for care received in a nursing facility, many policies today offer payment for a wide array of homecare services as well.

Often, the benefit amount for homecare is a percentage of the amount paid for care received in a facility – ranging typically between 50% and 100%.

Benefits can also include additional homecare-related entities such as adult day care centers, transportation services and other community-based services.

For the peace of mind in knowing that some, or all, home healthcare expenses are covered, it’s worth it to consider purchasing a long-term-care insurance policy that includes home healthcare benefits.