4 Things to Consider Before Buying Business Insurance

Proper insurance coverage gives your business security and will keep your operations running after a disaster or other unforeseen event.

As you set up this coverage, it’s important to keep several key things in mind.

Your risk: Do you know what the risks are for your type of business? Review your operations and consider which types of policies you need to have in place. Do you use commercial vehicles, have employees, or operate a brick-and-mortar business? Each of these facets of business requires different types of coverage.

Your cost: Keep in mind that obtaining the minimum coverage available isn’t always the best choice. The amount you might save in premiums won’t be worth it if the lower coverage leaves your business exposed after a major event.

Your terms: Policies vary greatly. It’s important to know the details of any coverage you obtain. Review what terms are available and choose the options that work best for your business.

Your requirements: Be sure to check into any regulations that guide the insurance requirements for your industry. If the law states that you need liability insurance, then this should be part of your insurance package. If you need special insurance due to hazardous materials or other working conditions, be sure to include this coverage.

Not sure what your legal obligations are? Contact us for a consultation. We can review your risks, cost, terms, and requirements and help you establish the best coverage for your unique business needs.

Top 10 Insurance Claims for Small Businesses

Small-business owners hope they never have to file a claim, but research by financial services giant The Hartford reveals that 40 percent of small businesses file a claim within a ten-year period.

Where is your business most at risk? What insurance coverage should you invest in to protect your company?

The Hartford analyzed claims data and discovered the following top ten most common claims for small businesses. You can consider these incidents as the most likely threats to your business and plan accordingly.

1. Burglary and theft: One in five small businesses filed this claim. Keep in mind that the incidents of theft may involve outsiders or dishonest employees.

2. Water damage: Fifteen percent of small businesses suffered damage from water or freezing and filed claims for these incidents. These claims include damage to roofs from snow and ice as well as any damage caused by frozen plumbing.

3. Wind and hail: Fifteen percent claimed wind and hail damage. These inclement weather conditions can cause damage to many aspects of a business, including vehicles, buildings, and outdoor equipment.

4. Fire: One in ten small businesses made a fire claim. Fires can cause minimal damage, or they can completely destroy a property. It’s important that business owners not underestimate the potential fire has to cripple operations. Without adequate coverage, a small business might not recover from this type of disaster.

5. Slip and falls: Ten percent of small businesses experienced a customer slip and fall that resulted in a claim. Some companies are more susceptible to this risk than others. Consider how often members of the public visit your site to determine the amount of coverage you need for these incidents.

6. Customer injury/damage: Less than five percent experienced a claim for customer injury and damage. These are covered incidents that didn’t involve a slip and fall. These claims include damage to property or personal injuries such as those that occur if a product falls and hits a customer.

7. Product liability: Less than five percent made a product liability claim. The nature of a company’s business, what they produce, and any warranties provided are important factors that determine the level of product liability for any particular business.

8. Struck by an object: Examples of these claims include falling tools, moving vehicles, and mobile equipment. Less than five percent of small businesses made these claims.

9. Reputational harm: These claims include suits of libel and slander. If a party alleges that the company damaged their reputation, they may file a suit, which results in this type of insurance claim to cover the case. Less than five percent of small businesses made this type of claim.

10. Vehicular accident: Less than five percent made these claims. Often, good safety practices and appropriate driver safety training can help prevent auto accidents and allow companies to avoid this type of claim.

Every small business is exposed to some type of risk. Some are open to more liabilities than others. To ensure that your company has appropriate protection, contact my office. We can review your operations and determine which policies make sense for your business.

Together, we can put coverage in place that gives your company the security it needs for continued growth and success.

5 Ways to Make Your Next Insurance Claim Easier

Even fender benders and minor home damage can be stressful. From police reports to home repairs, these are hassles no one wants to handle. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the claims portion of this process easier. Use the following tips to make your next claim smooth and simple.

Stay organized: Do you know where your insurance policy and insurance ID cards are stashed? Keep your proof of auto insurance in the glove compartment and store homeowners policy information where you can easily access it. Make it a habit to check these at the end of each month to ensure they’re current.

Know your policies: Are you familiar with the details of your insurance policies? It’s important to know what’s covered and what’s not, before an incident occurs.

Gather information: Claims go more smoothly when you can provide all the necessary information. For auto accidents, get the other driver’s personal information, vehicle information, and insurance information. Keep records of all medical visits and tests for medical claims. Be sure to respond promptly if additional information is requested during your claim, as this will keep the process moving.

Provide documentation: Document damage with photo and/or video. Capture these images as soon as possible so you don’t miss this step before repairs are made.

Prevent damage: Of course, the best scenario is a claims-free one. To avoid accidents and claims, use best practices for driving and home safety.

Still, even with the best precautions, accidents may happen. If you need to file a claim, do so as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact our office immediately following an incident for assistance with starting your claim.

Terrible, No Good Holiday Disasters to Avoid

It’s a time for celebration and remembrance; a time to be surrounded by loved ones, eat well, and rejoice. But holidays are also frequently the days when disasters strike.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that Thanksgiving is a peak day for home cooking fires, and US fire departments respond to over 800 home fires per year that are started by holiday decorations.

On top of these dangers, insurance companies report that burglary rates jump by 6 percent during the holidays.

To protect yourself, your family, and your home this holiday season, make sure you have the proper insurance policies in place to recover from these common disasters. Following are two of the top holiday incidents that homeowners insurance will cover.

Burning More than Dinner

Whether it was chestnuts roasting on an open fire or a stove-top disaster in the kitchen, your holiday fire is covered. NFPA reports that $12 million in property damage is caused by Christmas tree fires each year, and another $11 million in damage is caused by other holiday decorations. Insurance companies report the median cost for fireplace-related fires is over $10,000.

If you suffer from a household fire, it’s crucial to have insurance to pay for repairs. Typical homeowners insurance coverage will pay for interior damage as well as trees, plants, and shrubs in your yard damaged by fire.

A Visit from the Grinch

If someone helps themselves to what’s under the tree or stashed in the closet, your homeowners policy will cover the theft. Most policies provide coverage totaling up to 50 or 70 percent of the home coverage.

If you purchase a luxury item, keep in mind that there might be limits to your policy, so consult with your insurance agent to see if you need supplemental coverage.

I’m happy to review your policy with you and help you make any adjustments needed to ensure you and your family are fully protected this holiday season.

Don’t Miss This Year’s Shortened Open Enrollment

If you’re wondering about that tension in the air, it’s not because Mercury is in retrograde. It’s because thousands of people are struggling with enrolling for or renewing Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage for 2020.

Yes, we are in open enrollment, that critical time in healthcare from November 1, 2019, through December 15, 2019. Notice anything? The enrollment period is extremely short, so do not delay. Under the current presidential administration, enrollment time is shorter and advertising budgets leaner, meaning more people might miss the enrollment period.

If you fail to act by December 15, 2019, you won’t be able to enroll in ACA coverage unless you have had a qualifying event such as a job loss. If you are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, you can apply throughout the year. Although the government has extended ACA enrollment in the past, do not count on that this year. If you miss the ACA deadline, you may purchase other health insurance, but it will not guarantee the kind of comprehensive coverage that ACA plans provide.

People covered by Medicare do not need ACA coverage. However, Medicare pays an estimated 80 percent of costs, so a Medicare Advantage Plan is almost a necessity in this time of rising medical costs.

If you enroll in a plan during open enrollment, your coverage begins January 1, 2020. We’re in the middle of the enrollment period, so there’s no time to waste! If you enroll online yourself, the HealthCare.gov  website can be difficult to use, and only one coverage choice remains in some states. Working with a licensed health insurance agent who can help you choose the right ACA plan for your medical needs is always the best way to obtain health insurance. Contact us today so you don’t miss that looming deadline!

Medicare Advantage Plans Gaining Popularity

In the past fifteen years, Medicare Advantage (MA) plan enrollment has increased. According to the Kaiser Foundation, over 22 million people enrolled in an MA plan in 2019, up from 5.3 million in 2004.

However, that is only 34 percent of Medicare beneficiaries. What is limiting MA enrollment?

Many of today’s Medicare beneficiaries do not understand the rich benefits offered by MA plans. For example, did you know that a number of MA plans now provide home services that help keep seniors at home and reduce hospital readmissions? That means coverage under your MA plan may include home services like light housekeeping, shopping, nutrition assistance, transportation to medical providers, and other services provided by non-skilled home aides.

MA plans may cover catastrophic cost protection, dental checkups, vision services, and free gym memberships. While some plans limit provider choices, most offer a wide range of providers in all medical specialties.

Overall, satisfaction with MA plans grows. Experts predict that 50 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries will enroll in a MA plan by 2025, with others predicting 70 percent beneficiary enrollment by 2050.

Today’s MA plan administrators work closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve healthcare access, better manage chronic medical conditions, and prevent hospital readmissions. CMS is switching to value-based care from fee-for-service (FFS) models. In FFS models, the medical provider may benefit from scheduling more visits and procedures, which may not create better medical outcomes.

In contrast, value-based care strives for better medical outcomes, rather than reimbursing based on the number of visits. As MA plan providers embrace this model, your care under MA plans will improve. According to experts at StatNews.com, other types of plans may not improve benefits for Medicare beneficiaries.

If you currently have another plan or no plan, call us to discuss the advantages of MA.

The Dos and Don’ts of Purchasing Life Insurance

Life insurance can be one of the most important financial purchases of your life (and your heirs’ lives), so let’s review some common dos and don’ts for purchasing this important policy.

DO: Understand why you need life insurance. When buying life insurance, most people think about their own financial responsibilities, such as covering their mortgages.

It may be better to take a broader view and think of life insurance from the perspective of the loved ones you would be leaving behind. What will they need to obtain financial stability when you are gone?

DON’T: Buy too little life insurance. Sometimes people buy too little life insurance because they purchase it from an automated system (such as an employer, which offers a multiple of your salary in life insurance). To avoid this mistake, it is advisable to work with an experienced agent to carefully calculate your life insurance needs.

DO: Buy the right kind of life insurance. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of life insurance products on the market. The differences can significantly affect your beneficiary should you pass away.

At a minimum, understand the difference between term life insurance policies (which cover your dependents for a specific time period) and whole life insurance policies (which cover your dependents for your entire life). Keep in mind that there are many other nuances that are important to understand as well.

DON’T: Get overwhelmed. All of these nuances can make the purchase of life insurance overwhelming at times. So, when you decide to purchase a life insurance policy, it is always advisable to find an agent who understands your unique needs and can guide you through the selection process.

DO: Ask for help. It is a good idea to seek out the assistance of a professional who knows the ins and outs of life insurance. Please reach out to us if you need help. We can review your future goals and establish a solid policy to meet them.