Make Your Next Claim Easier with These 4 Tips

Even when you are insured, claiming for minor mishaps and small collisions can be a major stress to handle. However, there are ways to make it easier. Follow these four tips to make your next claim a breeze.

Keep it together

Put all your insurance documents, from policy to ID cards, in one place, and make sure you keep checking that they’re there. Don’t move them unless absolutely necessary. Keep auto insurance documents in your glove compartment for easy access in case of a collision.

Know what you’ve got

Make sure you’re aware and up to date on your insurance policy. What are the policy details? What can and can’t you claim? Knowing this before you call your insurance agent will make the process easier.

Gather information

If you’ve already done your homework, the claiming process will go a lot smoother. Keep all your important receipts in the same place, and make sure it’s safe! If it’s an automobile claim, find out everything you need to know about the driver as soon as the accident occurs, such as name, license plate and insurance information. If extra information is needed, be sure to respond promptly.

Take photos

Be sure to take pictures of whatever you’re claiming against, especially on the road. Videos are even better. Try and do this as soon as possible, and you should have no issues with your claim. If you have to ask yourself whether or not you have enough, chances are you need more. Better safe than sorry.

Of course, the best scenario is a claims-free one. To avoid accidents and claims, use best practices for driving and home safety. If you do need to file a claim, do so as soon as possible. Contact our office immediately following an incident for assistance with starting your claim.

Make Sure Your Halloween B.O.O.s Are Covered

It’s the spookiest night of the year, and if you’re not careful, the tricks could lead to more than just a little fright. We all love a good scare, but on Halloween night, it’s possible to get a little more than you bargained for. Don’t be scared. Your homeowners and renters insurance policies are there for you.

If you have these in place, you’ll be covered for the most common Halloween B.O.O.s.

Breakage. Trick or treat might seem like a fun game, but Halloween is a top time for vandals. If your property is at all affected by acts of vandalism, make sure you contact your insurance agent straight away. We may be able to “treat” you if you’ve been “tricked.”

O’ lanterns. Halloween is the fifth worst night of the year for candle fires. Try swapping real candles for battery-powered ones in your jack-o’-lanterns. But if your pumpkin does go up in flames, your homeowners or renters policy will cover the damage.

Offenses. Whether you’re throwing a party or just opening your doors to hungry trick or treaters, it’s possible many little feet will be entering your property. If any guest gets injured while partaking in the festivities, you will be covered by the liability portion of your insurance. This also includes four-legged friends who may get overexcited.

Get the costume and get the coverage. Contact your insurance agent to verify your policies are current and include the necessary coverage for this season.

Tips to Stay Well During Cold and Flu Season

Last year’s flu levels were low, due in large part to measures such as social distancing, hand hygiene and masking. What does the 2021–2022 cold and flu season have in store for us? Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts for this year’s cold and flu levels.

Experts warn this year’s flu season could be difficult. Due to last year’s mild flu season, medical experts believe flu virus immunities have likely diminished, leaving more Americans at risk. According to CNBC News, last year’s lowered rate of flu infections will leave many without immunity to this year’s flu virus. Returning to a more normal lifestyle without masking will also leave people more exposed to others’ cold and flu viruses.

The CDC predicts flu and pneumonia will increase, but because of the lack of firm data for last year, it cannot effectively model and predict this year’s outbreak levels. However, the CDC does predict that flu levels will “return to pre-pandemic levels” in 2021–2022, according to CNBC News.

What can you and your family do to prevent colds and flu this year? Hand hygiene will help, as will donning masks, avoiding the touching of eyes, nose, and mouth, staying home if sick and getting the most recent flu shot when available. The CDC expects no delays in obtaining the flu vaccine this year. The CDC anticipates manufacturers will increase production this year, considering the expected high flu levels. Call your health provider or pharmacy to ensure availability

This year’s vaccines will protect against four viruses, A(H1N1), A(H3N2), B/Victor and B/Yamagata. Unless you have any health considerations, the CDC recommends flu vaccines for all those aged six months and older.

3 Little-Known Risk Factors for Life Insurance Applications

You may think your physical health is the main criteria when applying for life insurance. Think again. Numerous other factors could raise your premiums, at times significantly.

Life insurance companies, which payout when their clients pass away, try to identify people who are at the highest risk for death. Some of the ways they do so are obvious. For example, when assessing risk, most life insurance companies divide people into two groups: smokers and nonsmokers.

But it doesn’t stop there. Life insurance companies then further subdivide both smokers and nonsmokers into three risk categories. From lowest risk to highest, these are Preferred Plus, Preferred and Standard. Sometimes the category names are different, but the concept is the same.

And what a life insurance company considers “risky” may be surprising. Having high blood pressure is risky, but it can be managed with medication, so a life insurance company may consider the following activities even riskier: antidepressants or therapy (because after two years, most policies are required to pay if someone commits suicide); a poor driving record (for obvious reasons); and a poor credit history (because people who struggle financially might not pay their insurance premiums or might commit suicide due to financial stress).

Can’t you just lie on your application? Yes, but it’s a bad idea. If your death is related to something you lied about and the life insurance company finds out, it won’t pay your benefit.

A better way to keep your rates low is to shop around. Different life insurance companies view risk differently, and many change their risk criteria from year to year.

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.

Here’s How You Should Prepare for Open Enrollment

Open enrollment is just around the corner. Are you ready? Whether you are reviewing your group or individual health plan options, there are some key areas you should review closely.

Will my plan benefits change? Typically, plans change each year. It is important to review the plan summary of benefits. This review will detail how your plan will change in the upcoming year. Most changes come in the form of deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and drug formularies.

Do I need to verify my providers are still in-network? Provider networks can change from year to year. Never assume a provider is still in-network, even if the insurance carrier has not changed. It is best to contact the provider’s office to confirm their participation each year. In-network providers can also apply to the pharmacies you use, which can affect the price you are charged for prescriptions.

Conduct a health expense audit. Take a look at the annual expenses you pay when using healthcare. Are you aware of any potential increases or decreases in healthcare needs expected in the new year? Calculate how these changes may affect your annual out-of-pocket expenses.

What if my employment income has changed? If your employment status has changed or you are no longer eligible for group health insurance, check your state or federal exchange programs to see which options are best for you. You may be eligible for subsidy premium assistance under the Affordable Care Act.

When you need assistance in gathering benefit information to make the decision that is best for you, we are just a phone call away.

Do You Have an IT Disaster Recovery Plan?

Losing data from an information technology (IT) disaster is potentially devastating. It could disrupt or even permanently shut down your business. That’s why it’s critical for your business continuity planning efforts to include an IT disaster recovery plan and the right insurance.

IT-related disasters can take a variety of forms. You’ve probably heard of cyberattacks and malware, but IT-related disasters can also involve hardware failures, human error and even natural disasters (such as earthquakes and hurricanes).

These disasters can be devastating. According to McAfee, cybercrime costs the world economy more than $1 trillion annually, which is 1% of the global gross domestic product. The average ransomware demand is more than $100,000, according to Bank Info Security, and a third of companies attacked by ransomware paid that price, resulting in an average of 16 days of downtime. Knowing that, it’s easy to see why a company that suffers an IT disaster might have to close shop.

This makes it critical for you to include an IT disaster recovery plan and the right insurance in your business continuity planning efforts. Let’s look at both topics separately.

First, what is an IT disaster recovery plan? Fundamentally, it’s a set of instructions that guide your business in responding to an unplanned IT outage. The goal is to have clear, repeatable steps that allow you to return to normal operations as soon as possible. While that sounds simple, it can be complicated because you’ll need a variety of tools and processes in place.

For example, you’ll want to take inventory of your entire IT infrastructure because the failure of even one critical system could affect the others. You’ll also want to ensure that all your critical data is being backed up regularly.

Then you’ll want to determine what happens in the event of a disaster. What critical functions do you need to get up and running first? It’s important to create a plan for restoring those systems, either from the cloud or from other off-site servers, to reduce any downtime.

To do all this, you’ll want to put together a team consisting of key IT and operations employees. They should all be briefed on the disaster recovery plan and be ready to take action when necessary. And you’ll want to have a plan in place to communicate with your employees. If your IT systems aren’t working, you’ll need to have another way to contact and update your employees.

You’ll also want to protect your business with insurance. Commercial property insurance, for example, can pay to fix damaged property and replace equipment needed to get your business back up and running. Business interruption insurance can replace your revenue when your business is forced to close. And cyber liability insurance can protect your company against liability and expenses due to the loss of data or privacy and security breaches.

We’d be happy to review your business insurance needs and determine if you are adequately protected from IT disasters. Please contact us today to get your insurance checkup going.

Product Liability Suits and How You Can Prevent Them

Think you don’t need to worry about product liability? If your business manufactures, sells or even distributes products, you do, because the awards for liability suits can be high, making consumers more and more litigious. But you can head off the damage with product liability insurance.

Product claims can vary, but they generally involve one of three complaints: a design defect, which means your product design is unsafe; a manufacturing flaw, meaning your production process resulted in a defect that made the product unsafe; or a defective warning or instruction, meaning your labels provided insufficient information regarding the risks related to your product. If you were involved in placing the product in the consumer’s possession, you can be held legally liable for its failure.

That’s where product liability insurance comes in. Product liability insurance is a business policy that protects your company against claims for loss or injury due to defects in the products you manufacture or sell or the failure to provide proper warning about your products. It generally covers legal fees, medical costs and awarded damages.

The product liability insurance coverage a business needs depends on many factors, such as your industry, the products you design, produce or distribute and your location. To ensure your coverage is appropriate, you should provide accurate and detailed information to your insurance provider. Don’t underreport!

While getting product liability insurance may seem cumbersome, it’s important to plan ahead for possible problems. Give us a call today to see how we can support you on your journey!