Homeowners Insurance: What It Does and Does Not Cover

Homeowners insurance is crucial to protect your home (and your pocketbook) against losses. However, it may surprise you to know what is covered by homeowners insurance and what is not. Below are some of those things.

Structure of your home. Whether it is your roof, walls, windows, or other parts of the physical structure of your home, a standard homeowners insurance policy likely covers damages caused by hail, lightning, fire, or other insured disasters. Garages, sheds, and other detached structures are also covered by most policies.

Floods and earthquakes. Many people assume that these natural disasters will be covered with a general homeowners insurance policy, but that is not the case. If your home is in a flood or earthquake zone, it would be wise to consider obtaining flood or earthquake insurance to protect your home.

Personal belongings. Most homeowners insurance policies will cover 50-70% of the value of insurance you have on the structure of the house for personal belongings, such as furniture, clothes, and appliances if they are damaged by insured disasters or theft. However, if you have items of special value, such as jewelry or expensive art, you may wish to consider purchasing additional coverage, as there can be limits on the dollar amount if these items are stolen.

Additional living expenses. If your home is rendered uninhabitable due to a disaster, your hotel stays or restaurant bills above and beyond your usual cost of living will be covered.

Home business expenses. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover any incidents arising from business activity. To ensure maximum coverage, consider obtaining a business insurance policy as well.

We are here to help make sure that your home is protected. Reach out to us today to assess your needs and to help you choose any additional policies that you may need.

Making the Claims Process as Easy as PIE

There’s been an incident and you need to start the claims process. For many, this scenario can feel intimidating and bewildering. Whether the situation involves property damage, an auto accident, or an employee injury, to make the process faster, easier, and more manageable, follow this PIE recipe:

Photograph. Take photographs of the scene, damages, injuries, the location of the incident, and any other relevant images. If you’re unsure of whether you need a photo, take it and err on the side of too many instead of too few photos.

Inscribe. Take copious notes about the incident. Your memory will fade, and details that you take for granted as unimportant may actually be key to determining liability for the accident. Clear notes regarding the people involved, where and what time it happened, what the circumstances were, and any other relevant information are key. These notes may form the foundation of your future insurance claim.

Expedite. File your insurance claim as soon as possible, when the details are still fresh in your mind. The quicker you file with your insurance company, the quicker you will be on the path to ensuring your claim is processed.

Your partner in this process is your insurance company, which can help guide you through all the required steps so your claim can continue to advance.

If you have any questions, contact us as soon as possible, and we’ll help you through every step of the process. We’re just a call or email away.

5 Things to Consider When Buying Life Insurance

Buying life insurance may seem like a simple proposition, but it is not always as easy as it may seem, given the complexity of terms used in the industry. Here are five things to consider when looking into life insurance.

Determine why you need life insurance. You may think of life insurance as providing financial support for your dependents if you are not able to do so. But different people need life insurance for different reasons. Do you need to pay for a child’s college education, for example? Or do you need to pay off your mortgage to help a nonworking spouse?

Determine how much life insurance you need. Understanding why you need life insurance before you begin shopping will help you determine how much of it you need. Conventional wisdom, such as twice your salary, may not apply. How much money does each of your dependents need, and for how long? Remember, your spouse and children will likely have different needs. And if your children are different ages, each of them might have different needs.

Know the difference between permanent and term life insurance. Permanent life insurance provides coverage for life. Term life insurance provides coverage for a limited period of time, such as 10, 15, or 20 years, and it, therefore, may be less expensive. Depending on how long your dependents will rely on you financially, a term or permanent life policy may be the best option.

Research providers. Some life insurance companies are better than others. You will want to choose one on solid financial footing because the lives of your dependents may depend on it.

Find a good agent or advisor. Answering these questions can be challenging. An experienced financial professional (like us) can help you.

Reach out to us today if you would like to explore life insurance.

How Big Life Changes Can Impact Your Health Insurance

Life changes, including divorce, relocation, chronic illness, and even pandemic layoffs, can result in health coverage changes. Some of these changes, like layoffs, mean losing healthcare benefits. If you lose your job, here are some options to ensure your continued coverage.

Spouse’s or parents’ policy. Some states and organizations will allow that, but you must apply within 30 days of layoff.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). COBRA lets you maintain your health coverage with your former employer if that employer continues to offer healthcare benefits and has at least 20 employees. With COBRA, you do not have to requalify, so your insurance covers preexisting conditions. However, you must apply within 62 days of a layoff, and you can use COBRA for only 18 months. Additionally, COBRA is more costly because your former employer pays none of the cost and you pay 100% plus a 2% administrative fee. Some states offer COBRA plans for smaller companies and with different time span coverages.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA). ACA offers a special enrollment period of 30 days after you lose healthcare coverage. Have your tax returns and an estimate of your yearly medical costs before going to healthcare.gov or calling the helpline at 1-800-318-2596. The ACA puts no time limit on coverages, covers more, cannot deny insurance because of preexisting conditions, and greatly reduces prescription costs. However, it is more costly for many people.

Private insurance plans. Most people qualify for these plans, but they work best if you make too much to qualify for ACA subsidies. Private insurance covers basic care and may offer other benefits, like a wider choice of prescription drugs.

As experienced health insurance agents, we can help you investigate these options to help you through the difficulties of a major life change before you make important healthcare decisions.

Top Tips for Getting Your Denied Medical Claim Paid

When your health insurance carrier denies all or part of your medical claim, what should you do? Here are some steps you can take to help get your claim paid. According to some insurance experts, insurers pay approximately half of denied insurance claims once appealed.

The first step is to determine why your insurer denied the claim. Most explanations of benefits (EOBs) contain a code that explains the denial. If you’re unclear after deciphering the code, call your insurer to discuss the denial in more detail. Then try to right the situation if possible. Some of the standard reasons for denial include a lack of preauthorization and incorrect coding by your physician.

Next, if needed, call your doctor’s office and speak with its insurance department. Generally, they are very experienced and may talk to your insurer on your behalf.

Resubmit your claim if the carrier denies it one time. Often, the insurer will pay the second billing or the third. Your EOB may outline procedures for appeal. However, you may have to review your health insurance policy for appeal procedures.

Finally, if you don’t get help through the appeals process and you believe your insurer owes the claim, you can appeal the denial to your state’s department of insurance (DOI). In many states, filing a DOI complaint is as simple as completing a one-page form. You’ll need to attach your records to support your appeal.

We may be able to help. Contact us if you have questions about a denied healthcare claim.

Which Business Insurance Policies Should You Consider?

Businesses are often focused on a variety of priorities, chief among them growth. Most owners or managers try to outfox the competition but sometimes ignore life’s occurrences as a real possibility. For many, they believe one insurance policy will cover them all the way through, but the sad reality is one policy is not enough. Below are a few of the policies that can keep your business safe and functioning.

General Liability Insurance

This important insurance is for any claims made against your business in addition to covering any legal defense. From slip-and-fall accidents to employee allegations and much more, this is a must-buy policy for any business owner. This insurance covers slander or libel and even data breaches.

Commercial Property Insurance

For businesses that have large or costly footprints, commercial property insurance is a must. This insurance covers the physical structure and any contents inside in case of incidents such as fire, theft, hurricanes, and other natural or man-made disasters.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

This coverage is often required by law. Businesses that carry workers’ compensation insurance are able to pay for lost wages and medical care for employees who are injured on the job. Depending on your state, you may also be required to pay for disability insurance or unemployment insurance.

Commercial Flood Insurance

For many businesses in low-lying or otherwise flood-prone areas, commercial flood insurance is a smart move. This insurance pays for damage to property caused by flooding.

Commercial Umbrella Insurance

Sometimes, large accidents or severe lawsuits can ruin a business, even if every insurance policy pays up to the maximum allowable limit. However, an umbrella policy works to fill those gaps and ensure that your business survives in addition to potentially covering other incidences that your other insurance policies don’t provide for.

Professional Liability Insurance

For many professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and others, there is a need for specialized insurance covering their business activities. Professional liability insurance can help protect professionals who cause a client harm through an error or inadvertent act or omission.

Business Interruption Insurance

When unforeseen events such as natural disasters occur, your business may need to shutter for days or even weeks while the debris clears. Business interruption insurance helps replace lost income, make payroll and bills, and help ensure that your business can meet its financial obligations when the dust settles.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Some businesses rely on vehicles to accomplish their objectives. For those, a commercial auto policy can mean the difference between an employee’s traffic accident being calamitous or just part of the course of business. Some states require this type of insurance, but even if they do not, it could mean the difference between success and ruin.

Different types of businesses need different insurance policies and coverage. When you work with us, we can find the policies and coverage levels that best suit you and your business.

Contact us today so we can help insure your future. We are just a phone call or email away.

The Importance of Managing Risk in Small Business

Small businesses are the lifeblood of local communities. From the local baker’s shop to the auto mechanics, small businesses abound and provide jobs and services for many. However, unlike their much larger brethren, they do not usually have dedicated risk management departments to protect them from unforeseen consequences. Thus, a small business owner must act as a risk manager and work to prevent any negative occurrences.

First, a small business should look at potential losses or other liabilities. This means determining what could happen if you lose your stock, physical structure, or data, are the subject of a lawsuit by an employee or customer, and other issues.

Once you have listed the risks, you should attempt to assign them probabilities and damages. For example, although it will cause heavy damage, how probable is it that your building will spontaneously collapse? On the other hand, it is likely more probable that you will have to endure an adverse weather issue leading to the closing of your business for a few days.

Following that, taking steps to mitigate any potential damages is key to preventing negative long-term effects. This could include, for example, paying for hurricane shutters in an area prone to severe storms or paying for employee training on the proper way to serve hot food items to customers.

Whether you’ve created a risk management plan from day one of your business or find yourself in need of one now, contact us so we can help provide the right insurance coverage for your business.