Condo vs. Townhome: What Insurance Do You Need?

When you think “condo,” what comes to mind? Many people envision an apartment-style building with multiple floors and units. “Townhome,” on the other hand, conjures up images of a two-story home attached to two or three other homes in a row.

These pictures aren’t entirely inaccurate: the exterior style of your home is not what determines its status as a condo or townhome. The determining factor is ownership. In a condo, you own the inside of your home. The exterior, land, and common areas are owned by an association. In a townhome, you own the land beneath your unit.

This distinction becomes significant when selecting insurance coverage. Because you only own the interior of a condo, this is all you need to insure. Coverage may vary depending on your association bylaws, but you typically do not need insurance for anything beyond your four walls. With townhome ownership, you need coverage for the structure and the land it is on.

Generally, condo insurance covers items such as carpeting, plumbing, counters, and cabinets. Townhome coverage extends beyond these items to include the roof, frames, exterior walls, foundation, floor, and property.

In either situation, you need insurance for your personal belongings. You should also obtain liability coverage in both settings.

As you set up your policy, confirm with your association which types of disasters, theft, etc., are covered by their policy. With this information established, your insurance agent can help you determine what you should include in your own coverage.

Only Superheroes Need Alter Egos: Keep Your Identity Safe

If Superman used Clark Kent’s credit card to buy a new cape, Clark wouldn’t mind. If Joe Theft bought a new jacket with your credit card, you would definitely mind. You would mind even more if Joe decided to assume your identity and not only use your credit card but steal from your bank account, open an unauthorized credit line, and establish phony policies in your name. This is identity theft. Joe isn’t your alter ego. He’s a thief.

How can you protect yourself from Joe?

Insurance: Your homeowners or renters policy may provide coverage for theft. However, this coverage typically has a fairly low limit. Identity theft must be listed specifically in your policy for you to get the proper coverage for the scope that the situation may entail. You can also obtain a stand-alone policy or an add-on to your homeowners or renters policy. This coverage will reimburse you for the cost of repairing your credit score and restoring your identity. Expenses might include lost wages, mailing costs, phone bills, and attorney fees.

Caution: Recovering from identity theft can take years. While insurance will help, it’s best to avoid the situation entirely. Try these tips:

  1. Don’t carry credit cards, your Social Security card, or your passport with you unless they’re necessary.
  2. Never throw credit card or ATM receipts in public trash receptacles.
  3. When shopping online, use only authenticated websites.
  4. Never give out passwords or personal information via e-mail.
  5. Install antivirus and firewall programs on all devices.
  6. Check your credit report annually.
  7. Use strong passwords for all accounts.
  8. Shred documents that contain sensitive information.
  9. Keep an eye on all accounts and report suspicious activity immediately.
  10. Contact your insurance provider for proper coverage, in case tips 1-9 fail to stop Joe Thief.

Insider Tips Make Buying Insurance as Easy as 1-2-3

Without a knowledge of industry terms, buying life insurance can seem complex and confusing.

A little research (and some guidance from your agent) goes a long way toward finding the policy you need without a lot of hassle.

When looking into life insurance, consider the following key components.

1. Determine your need for life insurance

Different people need different amounts of life insurance for different reasons. Do you need to pay for a child’s college education? Do you need to pay off your mortgage to help a nonworking spouse? Remember, the primary purpose of life insurance is to provide financial support for your dependents in the event you are not able to do so. Understanding what your life insurance should cover, before you begin shopping, will help you choose the right policy.

2. Know when to choose permanent vs. term life insurance

Term life insurance provides coverage for a limited period of time, such as ten, fifteen, or twenty years. This is different from permanent life insurance, which provides coverage for your entire life. Typically, term life insurance is less expensive than permanent life insurance. Depending on how long your dependents will rely on you financially, a term life policy may be the best option. For example, children eventually move out of the house and get jobs.

3. Know how much life insurance to buy

Finally, you’ll need to understand the needs of your beneficiaries. How much money do each of your dependents need, and for how long will they need it? Keep in mind that your spouse and children will likely have different needs. Additionally, if your children are different ages, each of them might have different needs.

It might help to calculate the life-insurance needs of each dependent, then add them together to determine your total coverage amount.

Opioids: A Necessary but Deadly Prescription

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, almost 19,000 people died in 2014 from drug overdoses related to prescription pain relievers such oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine. Following are safe practices to help reduce these numbers.

If your doctor provides a large prescription for pain relievers, consider only partially filling it. If you need more, you can always fill the balance of the prescription.

Never mix your prescription pain medication with other drugs, especially sleep aids or anti-anxiety medications. Combined with painkillers, these can cause coma, cardiac arrest, and death. More than half of the mentioned 2014 opiate overdoses were due to a combination of opioid painkillers and other medications.

Dose only as prescribed and stay “ahead” of the pain by taking the medication as directed. Waiting until you are in extreme pain before dosing can cause you to take more medication in an attempt to control your pain. This can lead to respiratory depression and death.

Discard unused medication. Keeping it around the house “just in case” is not a good practice. Safely dispose of unused pills. Some cities participate in National Prescription Take-Back Days. Some provide permanent drop-boxes, and some police stations accept returns. If you must keep unused medications, secure them. Thieves and youngsters often raid medicine cabinets for drugs.

Opioids are often a necessary part of healing after deep dental work, a serious injury, or surgery. How you handle your prescription can mean the difference between successful healing and the risk of overdose or lifelong addiction.

Health Care Infected with Medical Identity Theft

One consulting firm predicted health care spending would hit $5 trillion or more by 2022. These funds are simply irresistible to identity thieves.

In a recent report on patient privacy published in 2014, cyber-attacks on health care facilities increased 100 percent over a four-year period.

Your health care record may no longer be safe. Health care identity theft can take several forms. Imposter patients may use your health care information to obtain treatment or expensive procedures.

In one instance, a health insurer billed a man for a $19,000 medical helicopter evacuation. The problem was, this man never took that ride.

Many times, thieves perpetrate these frauds against Medicare recipients with stolen Social Security numbers. Alternatively, if your provider has an employee who illegally shares your medical information, that information can end up almost anywhere. Additionally, medical facilities are frequent victims of data breaches, and your medical information may become available on the black market.

With these facts in mind, take the following steps to protect your medical information.

  • Always review each Explanation of Benefits (EOB) you receive.
  • Watch for any inconsistent information in your medical record.
  • If you believe thieves may have compromised your medical history, order copies of your medical records. Dispute any inconsistency. Immediately file a written challenge of any charges you do not understand or any procedure you did not undergo. Copy your health insurer.
  • Request a copy of the “accounting of disclosures” from your health care providers. This discloses who received copies of your records from that provider. Your provider should provide you one free copy every year.
  • Access the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information about access to your medical records and your rights as a patient.

Have Small Water Problems? Don’t Pass on the Plumber

Did you know water damage is one of the top hazards for small businesses? It makes up 15 percent of small-business claims. It can be expensive – and a huge hassle.

Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid water damage. Use the following tips to keep your plumbing running smoothly:

Landscape with care: Your business may look nicer with a beautiful tree out front or lovely bushes along the building, but make these improvements carefully. Don’t plant vegetation where roots will interfere with water lines. Plan where you plant to avoid sprinkler systems, pipes, and other water systems.

Gut those gutters: Your gutters are an important part of your building. When clogged, they can’t keep moisture away from your foundation like they should. Keep these essential features clean and clear. This will keep drainage flowing properly and help protect your building from exterior water damage.

Watch the water bill: With so many things on your plate, it might be easy to miss a slowly creeping water bill. However, if your bill keeps increasing, this could indicate a leak. Contact a professional for an inspection to prevent further damage.

Call the pros: It might be tempting to ignore “small” plumbing issues, or try to repair them yourself. A clogged drain might be temporarily cleared with the use of chemicals. A troublesome toilet can be fixed with a simple jiggle. The problem is, the annoyance is probably a sign of a bigger issue. If it persists, have it checked out by a plumber to ensure you deal with the entire problem.

Nine Cyber Insurance Terms You Need to Know

Cyber-crime is no longer a plot device for sci-fi flicks. It’s here, and it’s rampant. It affects countless companies around the world every day. Allianz’s Risk Barometer ranked cyber incidents as the third-highest global risk in 2016. The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average cost of a breach in 2016 was $7 million.

Clearly, cyber insurance has become an essential for business owners. However, not every entrepreneur has a healthy understanding of this coverage. What types of protection are available? What policies are appropriate for you? Where are your greatest risks? It’s important for business owners to answer these questions and get the proper coverage.

Following is a breakdown of the most common types of coverage. Familiarity with this terminology will help as you partner with your insurance provider to determine the best coverage for your company.

  • Business Interruption: A cyber-attack can limit your ability to continue operations. You may lose a lot of business while you sort things out. This covers loss of income during that time.
  • Crisis Management: If a data breach affects customers, you will incur costs to notify consumers and provide credit monitoring services for them. This also covers the cost of public relations/advertising campaigns you must run in order to rebuild your reputation.
  • Cyber Extortion: If your network is threatened by blackmailers, this covers the payment of an extortion threat. It also provides coverage for the cost of tracking down the criminals.
  • Loss of Data: Cyber-crime often involves sending a virus or other damaging code into your system. Loss of Data or Data Corruption policies cover the destruction of valuable information.
  • Criminal Rewards: If a cyber-criminal attacks your systems, you may offer a reward for information leading to the criminal’s arrest. This insurance will cover the cost of that reward.
  • Data Breach: If your data is breached, you are legally liable. This covers expenses related to that legal liability.
  • Identity Theft: A common cyber-crime is the theft of customer or employee personal information. If this happens, Identity Theft coverage gives you access to an identity theft call center for assistance.
  • Directors & Officers Liability: Company leaders may be at risk or liable for decisions made on behalf of the company. With this policy, key decision makers are protected from cyber liability.
  • Cyber Liability: This basic coverage protects you from costs such as legal fees and court judgments that you incur after a cyber-attack. It also covers unintentional cyber mishaps by your company or another company, such as transmission of a computer virus.
  • General Liability: It’s important to note that most general liability policies do not cover cyber-crimes.

Don’t leave your business vulnerable to these prevalent attacks. To protect your assets, employees, and company future, educate yourself about cyber-crime. Learn your weak spots and speak with your insurance agent about how you can strengthen these areas with the right coverage.