5 Natural Disaster Facts You Probably Don’t Know

Do natural disasters pose a threat to your home? It’s unlikely your home is completely free of risk. Consider the following National Geographic disaster facts that affect homeowners worldwide each season.

Tornado fact: Tornadoes occur most often between March and July, during the hours from 4 to 9 p.m. Tornado winds can whip up to 300 mph. That’s twice as fast as hurricane winds. These powerful twisters can quickly destroy homes in their path.

Lightning fact: A lightning flash can heat the air around it to five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Contrary to popular belief, lightning can (and does) strike the same place twice. Rods and other materials such as plumbing and gutters can ground homes and offer protection from lightning.

Hurricane fact: Hurricanes cause “storm surges” when winds push ocean water onshore. These can reach heights of 20 feet and can cover several miles of inland territory.

Flooding and storm surges are two of the most threatening aspects of hurricanes. These storms can also generate tornadoes. Forecasts and evacuations are the best defense against the destruction of hurricanes.

Earthquake fact: Typically, a magnitude 8 earthquake hits somewhere every year.

Earthquakes claim the lives of 10,000 people annually; a majority of these tragedies are due to collapsing buildings. These disasters can also lead to other incidents, such as fires, tsunamis, and floods, that add to the destruction.

Wildfire fact: Four out of five wildfires are started by humans.

Every year, between four and five million acres of US land is cleared by wildfires. These infernos can move up to 14 mph, burning up everything in their path. Depending on your location, your property may be at risk for one or more of these incidents each season. Do you have the proper coverage?

Homeowners insurance can provide the protection you need. Reach out to our office to review your coverage. We’ll ensure you have the policies in place to help you recover if disaster strikes in your area.

6 Questions to Ask Before Buying Car Insurance

You need coverage for your car. But what kind of insurance should you get, and how much coverage do you need? As you consider auto insurance policies, ask yourself the following questions to determine the best coverage for your vehicle.

Who? Will you be the only one driving your car? If you share the vehicle with others, such as a spouse or a teen driver, you’ll need to list them on your policy.

What? What type of vehicle do you drive? The year, make, and model of your car affect the price of insurance. Some types of cars require special policies, and others may be eligible for discounts due to strong safety records.

When? How often do you drive your car, and how far do you usually drive it? Your policy should reflect your typical use of the vehicle. If you rarely drive it, you may want to consider mileage-based insurance.

Where? Do you park your car on the street or in a garage? Do you drive your car in harsh environments or smooth conditions? Consider the risks your vehicle faces as you weigh your options for coverage.

Why? Why do you need coverage? Do you simply want to fulfill state legal requirements? Do you love your car and want to keep it scratch-free? Do you have a lease that requires specific coverage? The reason for your coverage should guide your policy choice.

How? How do you want to pay for your auto insurance? Monthly? Biannually? Consider your payment options, which may provide different benefits or discounts. You can also choose a higher deductible to lower your premium. Contact our office to review your options and determine the best coverage for you and your vehicle.

Avoid These Life Insurance Payout Surprises

Life insurance: You rely on it to help your loved ones cover certain expenses upon your death. And you trust that it will work as planned. But does it?

Consider the following scenario.

You pay premiums for the life insurance policy for decades, and then, when it is time to collect, your heirs find that there is a problem. They don’t get paid, or they don’t get paid what they expected.

It sounds impossible, but it can happen.

For example, consider a couple who has been married for decades. The husband has a life insurance policy that will pay his wife if he dies first. When the couple divorce later in life, they agree to keep the wife as the beneficiary. She creates a financial plan with this in mind, thinking she will collect if the husband dies.

But when the husband passes away, that doesn’t happen. The life insurance company tells her that her rights as the beneficiary were revoked as a result of the divorce.

That’s right. In some states, the law nullifies upon divorce the designation of a spouse as a beneficiary of non-probate assets such as life insurance policies.

Some people assume the opposite – that divorce automatically divests a former spouse of life insurance beneficiary status. A husband may assume his ex-wife isn’t getting a penny of his money when he dies, and that is what he wants. But that’s not always the case either. In many states, a beneficiary has to be changed by the policy owner. It doesn’t happen automatically, even in the case of divorce.

From these examples, we can see that it’s a good idea to read your life insurance policy to understand the terms of the payoff.

Know your state laws and clarify your intentions so there are no surprises when it’s time for your loved ones to collect on your policy.

Our office can work with you to ensure your policy is set up appropriately. Contact us to review your current coverage or to establish a new policy that will effectively meet your future needs.

How Often Should Adults Get a Checkup?

For best results, you should see your doctor at least once a year. These regular checkups discover health problems early, improving your odds for treatment and cure. They also monitor chronic health problems, reducing complication risks and keeping you informed about any changes in your condition or advancements in treatment. Checkups also improve your relationship with your health care provider, making treatment more effective.

What it costs: Thanks to the Patient Protection Affordability Care Act, or the PPACA, coverage for an annual checkup is federally mandated in all states and is free. Starting on January 1, 2013, this law required all providers, including insurance your employer may offer, to cover the cost of one annual health care visit as described below, including all indicated tests. To fulfill the preventive care and maintenance purpose of the PPACA, your provider may not charge you for the exam or for a co-pay, a deductible, or a coinsurance charge. In addition to indicated tests, the PPACA covers certain benefits and preventive care for women, such as mammograms.

What to expect: During your health care visit, your doctor will perform or order various tests depending on your age, your current health, and your family history. Your doctor may counsel you on lifestyle choices, such as your diet and activity. Your regular checkup will also include a blood test to identify certain conditions, including anemia, high or low blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, and high or low cholesterol. In addition, doctors use blood tests to check your organ health.

If you do not have a regular health care provider, you can find potential providers in your community at Find A Health Center. Regular checkups can increase the length and quality of your life, so take advantage of this benefit.

Work-Related Disabilities: Are You Protected?

According to the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, almost 12% of the population in 2016 was living with a disability. While many Americans rely on their group disability plan, what happens if you lose your job? What if you own your business? If you cannot continue to work due to disability, you may face a period without income and even lose your home or business.

Your Options

There are two types of disability coverage: short-term and long-term disability. The amount the policies pay after you face a covered disability varies depending on your base salary. Contingent on the policy definitions, any bonus or commission you receive may not count toward your coverage payout. Short-term disability begins to pay sooner than long-term but ends relatively quickly, depending on the policy you choose.

Long-term disability generally begins to pay when you face a longer recovery from illness or accident, often three to six months post-disability.

Many employers offer full-time employees both group short-term and group long-term disability coverage. However, group insurance is not “portable,” nor do groups usually offer better benefits than individual policies.

If you lose work hours, for example, and drop from a full-time to a part-time employee, you may lose your coverage. If you face a layoff or change jobs to a smaller organization that does not offer group coverage, you can lose access to group disability coverage.

If you own a business, disability coverage is critical. Keeping your business viable and paying monthly bills like rents, payroll, and mortgages can be impossible if you are unable to work. An individual disability plan allows you to meet the challenges of business ownership.

Insurance companies underwrite individual disability policies based on your health and age. We are happy to review your needs and provide a no-obligation quote. Simply contact our office to determine the income you need to replace your salary and cover your fixed expenses.

Cybersecurity Glossary: What You Need to Know

According to information from Cybersecurity Ventures, cyberattacks are the fastest-growing crime in the world. Yet PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that less than half of companies are sufficiently prepared for one of these attacks.

Is yours?

A good first step to protect your company from cybercrime is education. Learn the language of the world of cybercrime to increase awareness. Use the following list of basic cybercrime terms to get started.

Access control: This involves permitting or prohibiting access to information or physical locations. Proper monitoring and limitation of this access is essential to maintain company security.

Cyber insurance: This coverage protects your business from damage that results from electronic threats to your operations, including liability and recovery costs.

Cybersecurity: This encompasses all policies, standards, and strategies relating to the security of company operations that occur in cyberspace.

Encryption: This is the process of converting data from basic format into one that can’t be easily interpreted by those who are unauthorized to access it.

Hacker: A hacker is someone who attempts to gain access to a system in an unauthorized manner.

Incident response: When a cyberattack occurs, the activities that occur to address its effects are referred to as an “incident response.” This involves responding to the crisis, mitigating potential threats, preserving property and information, and analyzing response activities for optimal results.

Intrusion detection: These processes analyze information from security systems to determine whether a security breach has occurred.

Keylogger: This software tracks keystrokes to monitor a user’s actions.

Macro virus: A macro virus can replicate and spread itself by attaching to documents and using the macro capabilities of an application.

Malware: This software performs unauthorized processes that compromise the integrity of a system.

Passive attack: With these types of attacks, the perpetrator doesn’t try to alter the system but simply makes use of it to obtain information.

Phishing: This refers to attempts to deceive people into providing sensitive information.

Redundancy: These are additional systems or subsystems that are operated to maintain functionality if another system should fail.

Spoofing: This involves impersonating an email address to gain unauthorized entry to a system.

Ticket: In relation to access control, a ticket is the data that authenticates someone, as a credential for that person to gain access.

Trojan horse: This type of computer program appears to be useful, but has a hidden function that circumvents security and accesses confidential information or otherwise negatively affects the system.

Worm: This program is self-contained and self-replicating and uses networking mechanisms to spread itself.

Would you like to learn more about cybercrime, cyber insurance, and what coverage is available to protect your business from cyberattacks? Contact our office to review your current policies and determine what coverage is appropriate for your company.

Who Should Consider Contractor’s Insurance?

As a business owner, you need to have all your bases covered to protect your company. When it comes to insurance, this might mean establishing a contractor’s insurance policy. Here are the FAQs to help you determine whether this coverage is right for you.

What is contractor’s insurance? This coverage protects your business from obligations resulting from work-related incidents. If your business is threatened by lawsuits or other liabilities, contractor’s insurance can shelter you from these costs.

What is provided by contractor’s insurance? Basic business liability, worker’s compensation, and commercial automotive coverage may be included with contractor’s insurance. Typically, these policies can also be tailored to meet the unique needs of your business. You may need coverage for mobile equipment, personal property, materials that are being installed, or post-project claims.

Who needs contractor’s insurance? A wide range of professionals can benefit from contractor’s insurance. These include independent tradesmen, subcontractors, and contractors. Trades that most often need contractor’s insurance include construction, plumbing, carpentry, landscaping, painting, electrical, HVAC, masonry, and flooring.

How much does contractor’s insurance cost? Premiums for contractor’s insurance vary by policy. The type of work that you do and the risks you encounter determine the rate. It’s important to customize your coverage to match your specific business. Reach out to our office to review the needs of your business and receive a personalized quote.

Whatever your industry, the cost of not having contractor’s insurance can easily outweigh the cost of coverage.