What to Consider When Insuring Your College Student

With all the responsibilities that come with becoming a college student, such as studying, writing papers and adjusting to the freedom of being on one’s own, it’s likely the last thing on your student’s mind is health insurance.

Yet because accidents and illnesses occur – even to young and healthy individuals – having the appropriate amount of coverage is essential.

One option is to add your student to your own health insurance policy; however, this type of coverage may have limitations if he or she attends college out of state.

Another option would be to obtain health insurance through his or her college or university, something some schools offer to their students. This coverage is often very affordable, which is particularly beneficial to students on a limited budget.

However, these policies may cover  only those health-related services that are provided at the on-campus medical facility.

As well, if the student leaves school, the coverage will be terminated. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of what is and isn’t covered, and you and your student should read the fine print carefully.

Stand-Alone Plans Are Portable

As alternatives to the options above, a college student in search of health insurance may opt for a stand-alone health insurance plan.

By going this route, your student can select benefits that more closely match his or her needs.

These types of policies are also portable, meaning that the coverage will stay with the student regardless of whether he or she is still attending school.

Another solution is a temporary or short-term health insurance policy. These plans typically provide coverage for up to 12 months, and the benefits can be very thorough. This can be an ideal option for students who will be graduating soon and expect to be covered under an employer’s health insurance plan in the near future.

Do You Really Need Life Insurance? It Depends

Life insurance is designed to protect those who depend on you for financial support.

Here are some tips that may help you decide if life insurance is the right choice for you.

Children:

Children do not need life insurance, since no one depends on their income.

Young single adults:

If you’re newly independent, the only reason you would need life insurance is to pay your funeral costs or support an elderly parent.

New families:

Do you really need life insurance if you’re newly married? If you are both earning incomes and one spouse could manage financially if the other dies, then you may need life insurance only to cover funeral costs. However, if you’re thinking of starting a family, you should seriously consider getting life insurance now; the rates will likely be cheaper now than when you are older.

Established families:

If you have a family that depends on your income – whether it’s a spouse, children or aging parents – you do need to provide for them. Be aware that life insurance isn’t just for the partner who works outside the home; not insuring the person who handles the household chores and child care could result in severe financial hardship for the remaining spouse.

Seniors:

Life insurance at this stage may not be necessary. If you don’t have anyone who depends on your income for support, and if you are able to cover your funeral expenses, you likely can avoid life insurance.

If you decide you do need life insurance, note that it costs more the older you get.

You may want to purchase life insurance when you’re younger; however this depends on your individual circumstances.

So before buying, discuss your needs with an advisor who is familiar with your situation.

How Your Credit Score Affects Your Auto Insurance

Did you know your credit score can be used for more than just getting a bank loan?

These days many types of organizations use your credit score to determine how much they will charge you to do business with them.

If you live in a state other than California, Hawaii, Massachusetts or Michigan, your insurance carrier has the right to use your credit score as one of the factors that determine your auto insurance premium.

Why are insurance carriers using your credit score? Insurance is all about assessing risk or exposure to loss.

In the past, auto insurance has always been rated on the vehicle itself. These days, given the many technological improvements to vehicles, insurance companies have decided to assess the risk of the vehicle and the driver.

Research shows people’s financial traits cross over into other parts of their lives.

People with higher credit scores pay their bills on time and use good judgment with credit card limits.

They also carry over their good judgment to driving and tend to get into fewer accidents.

People with lower credit scores don’t pay bills on time, have a high debt-to-credit ratio, and are more likely to have accidents and file claims.

Therefore, insurance companies base your premium on your credit score.  And those with lower scores should start working on improving them.

Here’s how: pay bills on time and reduce credit card debt. Thirty-five percent of your credit score is weighted on paying your bills on time, and credit card debt represents 30%.  You also can boost your score an additional 15% by keeping longtime accounts open.

Best of all, be in control of your financial picture. The better your credit score, the better you are handling your finances. Banks, insurance companies and others will take notice and you will reap the benefits.

Enjoy a Stress-Free Boating Season With Watercraft Coverage

wning and enjoying a boat are among life’s great pleasures.

Boating can be a real stress-buster, but only if you have the right insurance in place.

A personal watercraft policy is similar to auto insurance in that both cover moving motor vehicles.

With personal watercraft policy coverage (PWC), you can insure any size of craft from an angler boat to a yacht, giving you total peace of mind.

Here’s how it works:

Liability Coverage will pay for accidents if you are deemed to be legally liable. This will also be your limit of coverage if you are sued for an at-fault accident. Medical payments will help pay for medical or death expenses.

Agreed Value means you and your insurance carrier agree on the value of your boat. In a total loss, you will get that amount to replace it. If this option is offered, take it!

Property Coverage is similar to Comp and Collision on your auto policy and will pay to repair or replace your boat in case of damage. You also may be able to get Contents coverage for trailers, sporting equipment or belongings kept in the boat.

Pollution Coverage is helpful if you have a fuel leak that contaminates the water. Some carriers offer up to $500,000 in limits.

There are many insurance carriers that offer PWC, and your local insurance agent will have the resources to shop around for the best policy at the best price for your needs.

How EPL Insurance Can Help You Sleep at Night

There are some issues that keep business owners up at night. And right at the top of the list is a discrimination or harassment suit.

While you hope this won’t ever happen in your own company, chances are it could. Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) is there to cover a variety of situations that, unfortunately, have become all too prevalent in today’s work world.

For example:

  • A male employee feels discriminated against because of his sexual orientation.
  • A female employee may have been harassed by her manager because she is pregnant.
  • An employee with a disability is berated by co-workers and feels that he has suffered emotional distress.
  • An employee sues over what she believes is a wrongful termination because she is retiring within a year.
  • A delivery person files a suit because he feels sexually harassed while at your place of business.
  • A long-term employee sues because she believes she was unfairly passed over for a high-level job

These are some of the areas where business owners may find themselves vulnerable. This is particularly so for small to medium-sized businesses, where rules and procedures can be more lax than in a more formally organized larger corporation.

If you’re faced with a claim like those described above, EPLI offers coverage that will pay for the investigation and defense of the claim as well as provide a limit of insurance in the case of a judgment against you.

Minimize the Possibility of a Claim

While having EPLI is important, you’ll also want to be sure to take steps to prevent or minimize the likelihood of claims; a commitment to good employment practices is one of the more important tools in your executive liability toolkit.

Good employment practices start with a commitment by all levels of management to zero tolerance for any behavior that makes an employee feel uncomfortable.

The employee manual should include a clear, strong and consistent statement to this effect, and there should be annual mandatory seminars on harassment in the workplace.

Implement and communicate a procedure that will make employees feel safe reporting a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable. Make sure you have an open door policy to keep lines of communication open.

If there is a claim, immediately communicate with the person making the claim to assure him or her that these concerns are being taken seriously. Create an action plan to investigate all complaints. Be prepared to discipline and possibly terminate the offender if you find the claim is justified.

Find the Right Policy for You

Not all insurance carriers offer the same coverage and deductibles for EPLI. You’ll want to do some research and talk to your local, independent agent to find the right coverage for your company’s needs.

One million dollars in coverage can be included on your business owners policy for a minimum premium. If you want more coverage, you can ask for a quote through your general liability policy or purchase a separate EPLI policy.

Going Green Makes Environmental and Insurance Sense

Going green. Environmental  consciousness. Reducing your carbon footprint. Breathable structures. These construction industry buzzwords are all about being aware of the impact of new construction on our environment.

Insurance carriers are learning about this trend and formulating coverages that benefit and reward both residential and commercial customers for using environmentally friendly practices. Here are a few examples:

Discounts are available for homes and businesses that are LEED certified. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was created by the U.S. Green Building Council and is the gold standard of certification in environmental circles.

If you make green upgrades to your building, insurance carriers now provide an endorsement – not covered in traditional property insurance – that will cover replacement of those upgrades. The increased cost to construct as well as potentially re-engineer and re-certify may also be covered.

Green roofing is of particular interest because it is constructed differently from roofs on traditional buildings. Coverage can be offered as part of a total limit or a separate limit.

Other possible coverages that could be included are debris removal/recycling, business income coverage and air flushing.

Because the area is still relatively new, each carrier has its own definition of what the term “going green” means, and one may cover something another doesn’t. Let a professional agent research the green coverage that’s best for you.