The Ins and Outs of Boat Insurance

Welcome aboard! The summer season is here; it’s time to take a fresh look at your boat insurance policy. While your standard homeowners policy may cover some things related to your boat, it isn’t sufficient to keep you covered during your summer adventures. Without watercraft insurance, you could be on the hook for costly repairs and damages to your boat and passengers.

It’s important to protect yourself both in and out of the water. Here are the basics of boat insurance.

Property coverage. Once your boat is out of the water, insurance coverage can change should something happen. Property coverage manages any physical damage that happens to your boat and equipment, radar systems and sporting equipment like water skis. This also involves transport of your vehicle. One example is if an automobile collides with your trailer on the way to your festivities.

Personal liability. This coverage is useful in the case that there’s any bodily injury or damage to another’s property. Additionally, medical payments coverage takes care of medical expenses incurred from any accident involving your covered boat.

Uninsured boaters. This insurance is also important, as it helps to cover expenses should you be involved in an accident with an under- or uninsured boater in the busy summer season.

Exemptions. Losses and damages involving racing or stunts, failure to properly maintain your boat or damage that occurs from improper storage or animals like birds and rodents are typically not covered under a standard policy.

Questions to ask. It’s important to discuss all the aspects of your policy with us, including how your boat will be valued should a claim occur, how repairs and claims are managed, how your policy deals with salvage coverage and towing reimbursement, and much more.

We can guide you through these questions and determine what’s best for you. From land to open water, we can also help you save on your premiums by bundling your boat policy with your homeowners insurance.

Why a Home Inventory Is Essential and How to Do It

Whether you rent or own, keeping a current home inventory is critical to getting on the road to recovery faster in the unfortunate event that disaster strikes. Documenting items in your home may feel like an overwhelming task. Here’s what you need to know to guide you through the process.

Document. Take detailed pictures and video of every room in your home as well as a record of each individual item. Items such as antiques should be discussed with your insurance agent to itemize them on your policy. If you already have a home inventory list, make sure to keep your list updated with any new significant purchases along the way.

Proof of value. Keep receipts, contracts and appraisals to understand what level of coverage you’d need. Things to take note of: item description, make/model/serial number and estimated replacement costs.

Don’t forget the storage unit. Personal items that are kept in a self-storage facility are covered under homeowners insurance.

Keep it safe. Store your documentation in a fireproof box or safe deposit box or keep a file on hand with your insurance agent. You can also back up the files on an external hard drive or to the cloud (such as Google Drive or Apple’s iCloud) as an additional measure.

Kick-start. To kick-start your inventory task, check out these home inventory apps to help you with the process.

After taking your home inventory, give us a call to check your current policy to ensure that you’ll be covered or set you up with a new policy today!

5 Steps to Ensuring Rock-Solid Life Insurance Plans

Life insurance may not seem very complicated, but a few key steps can help you avoid potential pitfalls.

First, have a conversation. Discussing life insurance with your loved ones can be difficult because you are referring to the possibility of your own death. But if you have loved ones who rely on your income, it is an important conversation to have.

Second, understand the role of your will. Many people believe a will can be used to dictate where life insurance proceeds will go, but that is not the case. Your life insurance policy is a contract with an insurance company, so you will need to specify your beneficiary on the policy.

Third, regardless of the policy you choose, you will need to select a beneficiary, who will receive the proceeds of your life insurance policy when you die. That, too, can be an uncomfortable discussion. Typically, your beneficiary will be your spouse, then your children. But at times it can be more complicated. For example, you may not want to leave minors large sums, in which case you may want to set up a trust.

Fourth, understand the exceptions. For example, in community property states, any property acquired during a marriage is owned by both spouses. In those states, if you want your life insurance beneficiary to be someone other than your spouse, both of you will likely need to acknowledge that in writing.

Fifth, think about taxes. While life insurance proceeds are free from federal income taxes, they can be counted as part of your estate. This means they may be subject to estate tax. If you have a large policy, you may want to consider a trust to keep the proceeds out of your estate.

We can help you understand the components of life insurance. Call or email us to discuss your policy needs.

Delayed Medical Care Can Have Serious Consequences

Have COVID-19 concerns delayed your medical care? According to many medical experts, nationwide delays in receiving routine and emergency medical care have impacted many Americans. In a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30 percent of adults surveyed reported pandemic-related medical delays.

Delayed medical and dental care can have dire consequences. A gap in treating chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension can lead to heart attacks and strokes, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Delaying routine medical care and failing to keep routine lab appointments can cause a number of problems for your health.

Here are some tips if you’re having problems obtaining medical treatment.

Call the physician’s office and explain your symptoms or your testing needs. Don’t take no for an answer. If your provider can’t accommodate you, consider asking a family member to advocate for you. Some people are better at dealing with medical providers. If they’re willing, let them help.

If you accept an appointment far into the future, ask the provider to place you on a cancellation list in case an appointment becomes available.

Don’t skip routine tests. Mammograms, colon cancer tests and prostate exams are critical screenings. Delays can mean major health problems if serious conditions go undetected.

If you can’t get an appointment with your regular doctor, consider calling your insurance company’s helpline for a referral to a new physician. Or ask your neighbors or friends if they can recommend a physician or medical provider with more availability.

If you hesitate to visit your doctor due to concerns about exposure to others who may be sick, consider a virtual visit. Your doctor can phone you or initiate an online session. Postponing medical care can have dire consequences. Don’t wait any longer. Schedule any delayed visits to protect your health.

Here’s How to Help Your Loved One with Medicare

Most Americans become eligible to enroll in Medicare upon turning 65. If you plan to assist your loved ones in this process, educating yourself is the first step. What are some key pointers you need to know?

How much will Original Medicare cost? Premium-free Part A (hospital) is for those who have paid into Medicare taxes while working for at least 10 years. The standard Part B (medical) cost for 2021 is $148.50. When your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount, you may pay an extra charge.

When do they enroll in Medicare? Individuals can sign up for Part A or Part A and Part B during the seven-month window that begins three months before the month they turn 65. The soonest the coverage will begin is the first day of their birthday month. When a birthday is on the first day of the month, the coverage will start the first day of the prior month. When your loved one is still working, they have additional options and decisions.

What are their Medicare plan options? Once your loved one enrolls in Medicare, they have a decision to make. Their options are to remain with Original Medicare, select a Medigap supplemental plan to work with Original Medicare or select a Medicare Advantage plan. Making the right Medicare plan decision can make a major difference in the cost of care and their provider choices.

Your loved ones are our priority. Call or email us today, and we can walk you through all the steps and details of Medicare.

3 Reasons to Look Forward to an Audit

Audits are common with general liability, workers’ compensation, liquor liability, commercial and other business insurance policies. This is because when your commercial insurance policy is drafted, it’s based on an estimated risk exposure based on sales volume, number of employees and contractors, locations and common industrial risks. In most cases, the premium for your insurance isn’t a final number and fluctuates based on year-end actual numbers. The audit is an important process that determines the final premium.

Most cringe at the thought of an audit, but did you know there are several ways that an audit benefits you and your business? Let’s take a look at why you can look forward to your audit.

Changed mindset. Audits aren’t always spurred by something negative. They don’t have to mean that a business has done anything wrong or that the IRS is asking to dig through your finances. In fact, this is a positive thing in the insurance world! A general liability insurance audit is completed to thoroughly examine your business’s payroll and risk exposure and to check for any changes over the year in how much risk was actually incurred. An audit may also be required for your workers’ compensation and commercial property insurance coverage.

Ensures proper coverage. During the first policy term or at the end of the coverage period, the insurer will request an audit to adjust your premium based on the most accurate sales numbers and earnings. With how much a business can change year to year, this helps to ensure that you have the right amount of coverage as you grow and change. It can also spot gaps in coverage or new exposures that appeared during the year that weren’t seen before, helping to make sure you are covered should the unexpected arise.

It can save you money. The initial insurance premium estimate can be off; remember, the purpose of insurance premium audits is to use your actual sales and operating data to determine the true picture of risk. The audit can save you money, as your premiums can decrease if sales volumes, staffing or other adjustments to predicted exposure change and less coverage is needed. You may also be entitled to a refund or a credit on the overquoted premium at the start of the year.

Best practices already involve accurate record keeping in your operations; this is exactly what will help your insurance audit go smoothly and painlessly. Documentation you’ll need to provide includes payroll and cash summaries, federal and state employment reports, subcontractor and 1099 forms, relevant tax documents and any other items that will help an auditor have a clear understanding of your business state and revenues.

We can walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Call or email us today, and let’s discuss your premium basis and risk exposure and what that could mean for an upcoming audit. Let’s help you prepare so that your audit can feel more like a walk in the park.

Make Sure Your Insurance Keeps Up with Your Growth

Your insurance coverage should grow and change alongside your business. Here are some key indicators that you may want to look at and make adjustments for in your coverage.

New locations. Whether it’s the first ribbon cutting or the opening of additional locations, opening up your doors comes with extra risks. General liability insurance keeps you protected against the most common claims: slips and falls, damage to another’s property, libel and slander lawsuits and more.

New equipment. While your warehouse or shop may have had some empty space at first, over time, all the crevices begin to be filled in as business begins to pick up. Between uniforms and safety and industry-based equipment, it’s important to protect your investment with proper commercial property insurance.

New hires. Workers’ compensation insurance keeps you covered in the event of workplace accidents and employee injuries. It also helps to cover any associated medical costs and lost wages and reduces your risk of encountering a costly lawsuit. Many states require carrying this policy even if you just have one employee.

New contracts. When it comes to big contracts, software and IT professionals, accountants and similar white-collar professionals require professional liability insurance. This protects you against damages potentially incurred with higher-risk professions with larger contracts. Clients may even require this coverage to do business with you so if a mistake is made, they can rest assured that remedies are paid for.

While your growth may just be beginning, it’s important to plan ahead for your success. Give us a call today to see how we can support you on your journey!