Have You Reviewed Your Insurance Coverage for 2020?

As the new year approaches, we often look back at the year gone by, reflect on the coming year, and make resolutions for the future. Business owners should do the same. But this means more than setting revenue goals.

An important part of this review process should involve insurance coverage. The flipping of the calendar page is a good time to consider current coverage and determine if any changes are warranted to improve the protection of your business in the coming year. A thorough policy review covers three aspects: new exposures, business changes, and outdated coverage.

New Exposures

A company can change a lot in one year. Look over the last 12 months and consider any new exposures you may have added. Did you purchase new equipment or vehicles? Have you started manufacturing or selling new products? Changes in locations can also generate new exposures in the areas of liability and property damage.

Make sure your current insurance policies encompass any of these changes you have made. If you find any gaps, now is the perfect time to close them.

Business Growth

Beyond basic changes that could have added new exposure, consider any new needs your company may have as it grows. You may need to put policies in place that were not necessary in the past. For example, increased reliance on equipment operations may make equipment breakdown insurance necessary. If you’re storing large amounts of customer data, you may need protection against cybercrime. Increased property coverage may also be needed if you have expanded to multiple locations or increased your assets. Taking on employees may create the need for workers’ compensation coverage and employee theft coverage.

Avoid leaving your company exposed. As you grow, ensure you have the right policies and coverage limits in place to protect your operations.

Outdated Coverage

Adding coverage isn’t the only possible result of your annual insurance review. Consider what current coverage may be outdated. Did you reduce inventory? Have you sold any equipment? Make sure you aren’t carrying any policies you no longer need. It may also make sense to reduce some coverage. For example, vehicles that have been around more than a decade may no longer require comprehensive coverage. You may also want to switch coverage on equipment to actual cash value. Another possible adjustment could be the amount of your deductibles.

It’s a good idea to review the value of your assets and compare these to your current financial situation. This will help you determine how much coverage you truly need.

Worth the Investment

Insurance Journal reports that 40 percent of small businesses will file a claim this decade. The most common claim for these enterprises is burglary and theft, which covers an average loss of $8,000. Other claims, such as customer injury, product liability, and reputational harm, average between $30,000 and $50,000.

For a small fraction of your overhead, insurance premiums can cover these potentially crippling costs. It’s well worth the investment of time and finances to review your coverage and put appropriate policies in place.

Contact my office to review your current coverage and ensure you have the right policies to protect your company in 2020.

Who Needs Pollution Liability Insurance, and Why?

Don’t assume that because you don’t handle hazardous waste you don’t need pollution liability insurance.

While this coverage may seem obvious for businesses that handle waste or asbestos, it could offer good protection for other companies as well.

Why? Pollution liability insurance covers claims against bodily injury or property damage that is caused by hazardous waste. The coverage includes claims related to materials released during your operations as well as after operations are completed.

This means that you will be protected if any problems arise after you have finished a job. It also covers you in case hazardous waste is not discovered during an inspection of a property before you purchase it. In this case, waste may be discovered in the future, for which you are held liable. The insurance will protect your financial interests in the event of a cleanup or claim.

Lastly, environmental laws are in constant flux, so a pollution liability policy can help provide coverage in case there are changes in regulations that leave you exposed to lawsuits.

Who needs coverage? These policies are required for many independent contractors. At times, contractors must show proof of this coverage before work on a project can commence. For other types of businesses, this coverage may be helpful to protect against potential future claims.

To determine if your enterprise could benefit from pollution liability insurance, contact my office. We can discuss your liability exposure and ensure the right policies are in place to protect the future of your business.

Grinch Protection: Wrap Up Your Home for the Holidays

Not every grinch becomes good and returns the stolen treasures. Outside of a Dr. Seuss tale, thieves will gladly carry away your holiday goodies in their sleigh and never look back.

Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to protect your home from the season’s sticky-fingered grinches. Use the following tips to keep your home safe and secure for the holidays.

Make things merry and bright: Lights can do more than decorate this season. Dark, vacant homes can be particularly tempting for thieves, especially during high-travel seasons like the holidays. Use proper lighting to deter thieves. Set timers for lights or install motion-sensing options.

Join Santa in his list-making: St. Nicholas isn’t the only one who should check his list twice this season. Have you created a home inventory of your personal property? Be sure this list includes any recent gift purchases. This inventory will be helpful if you need to file a claim after a burglary.

Don’t spoil the surprise: The kids aren’t the only ones anxious to see what appears under the tree. Wait until Christmas Eve to put out the presents. This prevents putting them on display for potential grinches.

Keep trips under wraps: If you’ll be away from home this season, don’t advertise your trip to the world. Announcing on social media that your house will be empty can draw the attention of the wrong kind of elf.

Check more than the chimney: While Santa may prefer a fireplace entry, thieves are more likely to look for easy-access windows and doors. Avoid leaving patio doors unlocked or propping open apartment-building doors. Keep doors and windows locked and check hardware regularly to verify it is secure.

Enjoy holiday peace: Even with the best precautions, a theft may still occur. But you can have peace of mind by investing in appropriate coverage for your home and possessions. Contact my office to discuss policies that can help you recover your cheer if mean old Mr. Grinch tries to steal it.

Happy New Year! It’s Time to Review Your Insurance Coverage

As the new year approaches, many people review their lives and make new goals for the future, to maybe eat better or exercise more, for example. This turning of the calendar page is also a good time to review your insurance coverage. An annual review allows you to update information and policies to ensure you are appropriately protected in the coming year.

To complete this process, take the following key steps.

Take inventory: Create a home inventory (or update your current one). Be sure to add any major gifts you receive this holiday season and remove anything you have donated, sold, or thrown away in 2019. In your inventory, include a description and the cost of items. Scan or photograph receipts to save with your list. Store everything online and/or off-site so you can access it in case of disaster.

Assess automotive needs: Consider the age and value of your vehicles. Is your coverage still appropriate? Have the primary drivers on any vehicles changed this year, or will they soon? Make sure deductibles, limits, and primary driver designations all make sense for your current needs.

Look for changes: Have you experienced any changes in the past year that might affect your insurance coverage? Renovations, births, purchases, and commute changes can all affect your insurance considerations.

Check for savings: Don’t miss out on any savings opportunities. Check for multiple policy discounts, changes in requirements, or new programs that may cut your insurance costs.

Contact our office for a quick review of your policies. I can help you evaluate your insurance needs to make sure you have the right coverage as you head into the new year.

Life Insurance Needs Change After Age 50

Life insurance is something people tend to buy and forget, so the policy continues, unnoticed, for years or even decades, depending on its length. But your life-insurance needs may change over time, especially as you near retirement. When you turn 50, it may be a good idea to reconsider your coverage.

How do you determine if you still need life insurance in your 50s? Ask yourself why you bought life insurance in the first place, then determine if those circumstances still exist.

For example, perhaps you bought life insurance in your 20s, 30s, or 40s to protect your children should you pass away unexpectedly. If that is the case, you only need your policy until your children are grown up and out in the world, supporting themselves on their own, and no longer in need of your financial assistance. In this case, you may want to stop your life-insurance policy when your youngest child reaches age 21.

Or perhaps you bought life insurance in your 20s, 30s, or 40s to protect a spouse who stays at home with the children, earns less than you do, or simply relies on your half of the household income, should you pass away unexpectedly. And perhaps by the time you reached your 50s, circumstances had changed: you saved enough to cover your spouse’s expenses, for example, or your spouse began working.

Of course, you may also gain reasons to have life insurance as you age. Perhaps you would like it to cover end-of-life expenses, provide “bonus” income to a child or spouse, or address complex estate-planning issues, for example.

Keep in mind that these are only general guidelines. We are all different, and you might want life insurance for other reasons. Feel free to reach out to me if you need guidance on establishing the appropriate coverage for your future needs.

Options When You Lose Your ACA Coverage

Did you lose Affordable Care Act (ACA) health coverage? Every year, ACA registration closes on December 13. If you miss that deadline, you may not obtain an ACA plan unless you meet certain conditions. However, a licensed health insurance agent can help you explore options that might let you register after the deadline.

Additionally, if you miss a premium payment deadline, you may lose coverage. If you miss a payment deadline, you have a “grace period,” often 90 days from your payment due date. If you also miss your grace period deadline, a licensed health insurance agent can help you appeal the cancellation decision.

Perhaps you qualify for either special enrollment or Medicaid. You might buy a short-term health insurance plan or join either a health-sharing plan or a primary-care membership plan. If you do lose your ACA coverage, short-term medical insurance may help you close the gap between cancellation and the next ACA enrollment period, where the ACA guarantees coverage eligibility.

Short-term health plans often take effect within one day of application completion and payment of the premium. They frequently don’t impose penalties for cancellation, and they may refund unused premiums. Premiums might be lower than those of ACA plans, and short-term plans sometimes offer more doctors and hospital options.

However, short-term plans either will not accept you with preexisting conditions or will accept you but exclude those conditions. Prescription drugs, maternity care, substance abuse, and preventive health care are services and items that short-term plans may not cover.

Changes to short-term plans in 2019 let you enroll for 30 to 364 days, depending on where you live, and to renew for up to three years of continuous coverage. These plans could be a good option if you lose your ACA coverage.

It’s easy to apply for short-term plans online, but those plans vary widely. Contact us for assistance with finding the right plan for you.

It’s Time to Review Your Health Policy for the Coming Year

As the year winds to a close, you may be busy with year-end activities, holiday events, and parties. However, year-end is the best time to review your health insurance, one of the most important factors in promoting and maintaining good health. What should you consider as you assess your health insurance?

Family Changes

Has your family changed? Did you get married? If so, would a move to your spouse’s plan be beneficial? Did you obtain custody of a child? If so, many options may be available for the child’s insurance coverage in addition to adding that young one to your group or Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan. Facing a divorce or separation? We can help you determine your rights under your spouse’s coverage.

Provider Changes

Has your doctor stopped taking your insurance? No one likes to change doctors, but it’s a reality in today’s insurance-driven health care system. However, a change in your health plan may not mean you can’t keep your favorite doctor. We can help you explore that possibility.

Deductibles and Copays

If you’re seeing several medical providers, it may be time to reevaluate your plan and its deductible, especially if you are on an ACA plan. An upgrade to a Gold or Platinum plan can save you a great deal of money out of pocket. Additionally, if you’re on Medicare, a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medigap policy can mean big savings.

Don’t delay. Contact us today and allow us to assist you in evaluating your current health care policy before year end.