3 Tips for Lowering Your Property Insurance Costs

Owning commercial property is the gift that keeps on giving. You think you’re finished when you close on the purchase, but that’s only the beginning: maintenance, repairs, upgrades, property taxes and unexpected expenses keep the costs coming. But solid property insurance can help keep some of the other costs at bay. And a number of factors, some of which apply when you purchase a property, can affect the cost of your commercial property insurance. Here are three to consider.

How old is the building you’re insuring? 

You may recall a 1986 movie called The Money Pit, in which Tom Hanks and Shelley Long starred as a couple who must come to terms with the costs of an old building they purchased. This concept shouldn’t come as a surprise: older buildings are more susceptible to damage than newer buildings, from issues such as old wiring or worn structural components. And any renovations can be costly, as they usually involve bringing the building up to code. This can translate into costly repairs, which drive up the insurance premium. You can generally make an assumption: the older the building, the higher the insurance costs.

What is the purpose of the building?

What your building does is just as important as how old it is, because what it does determines two things: where it is located and what is in it.

First, let’s look at location. Buildings in low-crime areas are generally cheaper to insure than those in high-crime neighborhoods, buildings in rural areas are generally cheaper to insure than those in city centers, and buildings in relatively mild climates are generally cheaper to insure than those in areas prone to natural disasters. Choosing the location of your commercial property carefully will save on premiums.

Next, let’s look at what your business does. Are you a manufacturer of heavy equipment, or are you storing diamonds? That may seem like a silly question, but it matters. So too does the type of equipment. If your building is home to older equipment that is harder to maintain and repair than newer equipment, this will increase your insurance costs. The type of equipment is also a factor, since heavy industrial machinery is typically more expensive to insure than office equipment. However, it may be cheaper to keep older equipment and pay higher premiums than to buy new equipment; everything is a balancing act.

What kind of coverage do you want?

Too often, property owners overlook the distinction between replacement value and cash value coverage. Replacement value pays what you need to replace damaged goods with brand-new items; cash value pays what your depreciated property is worth. Replacement value coverage costs more, so it comes with higher premiums. But you may be able to save money with a business owner’s policy (BOP), which combines your property insurance coverage with other types of business insurance coverage.

We’d be happy to review your specific property insurance needs and determine if the costs are appropriate. Contact us today to get your property insurance checkup going!

Is Your Commercial Property Ready for the Fall?

Any change of season is a good time to review your commercial property to ensure it’s in tip-top shape, and fall is no exception. Here are five things to check before the weather cools.

Is your roof ready? Spring and summer storms often cause roof damage, and even minor damage can become a large problem over the winter. Inspect your roof and take care of any problems now.

Is your HVAC system in shape? Regardless of your climate, fall is a good time to check your HVAC system, heat and air conditioning to ensure your system is strong as you enter fall.

Are your trees trimmed? No one wants a tree on (or through) the roof, which is a risk in all climates. Be sure to properly prune your trees to remove dead or drooping limbs.

Are you prepared for floods? While most heavy rains come in the spring and summer, it’s a good idea to keep on top of potential flood problems year-round.

Are you susceptible to a critter infestation? As the weather cools, mice and other critters seek shelter from the cold. If they have a way in, they’ll get in. That creates safety hazards (think chewed wires) and health hazards (think disease). Check for and repair access points.

While getting your property ready for the fall may seem cumbersome, it’s important to plan ahead for your success. Give us a call today to see how we can support you on your journey!

Does Your Home Have More Risk than Your Neighbor’s?

It’s always hard to know what goes on behind closed doors. Two homes could look identical from the outside, have the same square footage, and even be on the same road and still have very different insurance costs.

Why is that? One reason is that cost premiums are based on the risk factors of homes. Even if you and your neighbors’ homes are built in the same way, they could have a multitude of different features that affect the cost. But what are they? We’ve listed a few of the top ones below.

Safety: If your home has features that make it safer, that will help bring the insurance costs down. Think fire-resistant surfaces, burglar alarms and state-of-the-art locks.

Construction: Older homes cost more to insure because they will likely need more upkeep. Newer builds and refurbs cause less to worry about in this regard. Also, antique features such as ornate fireplaces and crown molding are more expensive to replace, so remember this before looking at your insurance bill.

Amenities: Having a pool is a great way to add enjoyment to your home, but it also increases the cost of insuring it. Wood-burning stoves can also be seen as a fire risk. Talk to us if you’re concerned about the cost of adding any of these to your home.

Upgrades: Remodeling or adding an extension may require additional insurance, so make sure you check this before signing the papers agreeing to that extra room.

Pets: We love our four-legged friends, but pets can be a bit of a liability to a home and therefore increase the insurance premiums. Dogs flagged as dangerous breeds could also lead to a higher cost for home insurance.

If you’re wondering how to get the best insurance deal for your property, call or email us today.

What Determines How Much Home Insurance I Need?

It’s not always easy to know how much homeowners insurance you need. Say you have a $100,000 home: your homeowners insurance coverage should also be $100,000, right?

Not quite. There are actually many more factors at play than just the market’s current price on your home, from structure to contents.

The cost to rebuild your home

Nobody has a crystal ball, so it’s best to factor that into your insurance. To calculate this figure, multiply your square footage by the per-square-foot building costs in your area. You should also factor in any additions you have made since initial construction and the specific style of your home.

The cost of adhering to new codes

Depending on when your home was built, you might have to adhere to new codes during a rebuild, which may add to the expense. Adding an endorsement to the policy could help you plan for this.

The cost to replace what’s inside the home

While you can’t cover sentimental value, you can insure the physical contents of your home. Take an inventory of your belongings so that you can plan for the cost of replacement if you ever need to make a claim.

The cost of liabilities

Liability insurance is what will protect you if you ever find yourself in a lawsuit because of your home, whether that’s a broken window or a dodgy porch leading to an accident.

Sound confusing? We can help. Call or email us to figure out the best insurance plan for you.

Frequently Asked Questions about In-Network Providers

Are you someone who spends time finding the right healthcare providers who fit your individual or family needs? What can it mean when your healthcare provider tells you they are no longer in-network? Let us review what this change will mean to you and your pocketbook.

What does being in-network mean? When in-network providers contract with insurance companies, they agree to provide healthcare services at a set rate. This rate is normally lower than they would typically charge. These providers can also be referred to as preferred or participating providers.

Should I try to stay with in-network providers? Whenever possible, using in-network providers can cost you less out of pocket. These in-network providers have agreed to accept the insurance carrier’s reimbursement as payment in full, leaving you responsible for the smaller copay or coinsurance cost specific to your plan.

What happens when I use out-of-network providers? Some plans do not cover out-of-network providers or they pay a very small portion. If your plan does allow you to use out-of-network providers, expect your copays and coinsurance to be higher. Remember, when staying with in-network providers, they have agreed to accept a set contracted rate, which leaves you paying less out of pocket.

It is important to get the most out of your healthcare by using in-network providers whenever possible. If you would like help determining which providers are in-network with your health plan, we are just a phone call away.

Here Are the Basics of Employee Assistance Programs

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, an employee assistance program (EAP) helps to identify and help employees when personal issues interrupt their job performance. EAPs offer a variety of counseling services, from marital counseling to financial guidance to counseling for depression and substance abuse. The employer pays for the EAP. However, employees and their families can utilize the EAP’s free services. Because many employees have significant health insurance co-pays, they may not reach out for counseling or other mental health services. The EAP can eliminate employee costs, making employees more willing to utilize services.

Organizations with EAPs face reduced challenges in these areas.

Workplace conflicts may decrease as employees learn tools to deal with workplace harassment or perceptions of unfair treatment.

Substance abuse can affect employees, whether they are using or their partners or children are. EAP services can help the whole family deal more effectively with drug and alcohol problems.

Family troubles can reduce employees’ work efficiency. A divorce or step-parenting issue can polarize even strongly committed partners. EAP services can help families adapt to challenges.

Sandwich generation caregivers may experience many work absences. EAPs can help find elder care and provide unbiased advice on many childcare and elder care issues.

Legal advice can be expensive. Finding the right advice can be time-consuming. EAPs can refer for legal issues such as child support, custody and bankruptcy.

Financial counseling is important, since so many employees enter the workplace without money management skills. EAPs can point to employee resources such as credit counseling or courses that teach workers how to better manage their incomes and save for retirement.

With the stressors of modern society, today’s workers need EAP programs. History shows employees underutilize EAPs, so it’s up to the employer to educate employees on these important services. Call us for more information on EAP programs.

Here’s How to Avoid Losing Your Life Insurance

How secure is your life insurance? Given how important it is to an individual’s financial plan, it seems like something that would be guaranteed. But that is not always the case.

Do you remember when retail giant Sears announced that it would end life insurance benefits for almost 100,000 of its retirees, all of whom had expected that coverage to be maintained? The company sent notifications to people in their 80s who had maintained life insurance coverage for a significant period of time and relied on it. Given their age, those retirees who were affected had limited options. Some had to pay several thousand dollars a year to maintain their coverage with another insurance company.

That, of course, is a rare event, but it can happen, and no one wants to end up without life insurance. Thus, regardless of how you obtain your life insurance, you may want to explore how secure it is. You can research a life insurance company’s financial strength through independent rating firms, including AM Best, Fitch, Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s. Ratings can generally be viewed for free on the firms’ websites, although you might have to register first. Each of these firms has its own rating system, so it may not be easy to compare apples to apples.

It is critical to choose a financially strong life insurance company because you want the company to be around to pay the death benefit to your beneficiary, whether you die in five years or 50.

These are guidelines, of course. A single article can’t replace the knowledge of your individual financial circumstances that a personal financial planner possesses.

Let us help you navigate what’s best for you. Please call or email us if you want to better understand your life insurance stability and options.