Are You Considering a Standby Generator?

Standby generators are very useful, especially if you find yourself in an emergency without power. They also add value to your home, if selling is a possibility you’re considering. But are they worth it to you and will they change your insurance policy?

A standby generator is permanent. They are built to last and withstand weather that may knock your main line out. Because of this, finding a spot for them might be difficult. It lives on a block of concrete next to your house. Then, if your power goes out, you flick a switch and it’s ready to go.

What they are not is cheap. You’re looking at a price range between $2,500 and a whopping $15,000.

Is it right for me?

A standby generator is its own insurance policy. You never know when the power might go out. If you live somewhere where outages and blackouts are common, or storms regularly restrict your day-to-day life, a standby generator seems like a good investment.

What you need to consider

Generators are sized according to wattage. How much will you need to power your home? Most generator suppliers will be able to survey your home and tell you the size you’ll need. Next you’ll need to think about what the generator will need to power. Lights? The refrigerator? Hot water? What is most important to you at the time of a crisis?

Calculate your costs

Have a think about what you’ll need to put aside. Generators also run on fuel, so factor the fluctuation of fuel costs as a part of keeping it going. However, once it’s set up you won’t have to worry about being left in the dark again.

If you’re considering a standby generator, call or email us about how it may impact your insurance policy.

How a Claim Can Impact Your Annual Premium

Something happens to your home, maybe a tree falls onto the garage in a storm or a window breaks. If you can fix it yourself, would you rather do so or claim on your insurance and risk raising your premium? According to InsuranceQuotes.com, depending on where you live, claiming on your insurance can raise your premium by about 20%. In some states, claiming can raise your costs by double digits, for example in Minnesota and Connecticut. It’s not all doom and gloom. In Texas, insurers aren’t allowed to raise your premium after your first claim.

Why is it so state dependent?

Apparently it all comes down to the weather! Well, maybe not everything, but the weather plays a big component. States where the increase is high usually have low claim rates to begin with, whereas in places like Florida, prone to hurricanes and tornadoes, the policies are usually quite expensive, then only bump a little bit.

So how do you know when to claim?

Sometimes it is in your best interest to file a claim. If the damage is catastrophic and will cost more than your deductible, it makes sense to file a claim. Sometimes it isn’t for example if it will cost you more than if you choose to fix it yourself. Make sure you look at both scenarios and compare apples to apples.

If you’re still worrying about what you should and shouldn’t claim, give us a call. We’ll help you through the process.

Why and How to Change Your Life Insurance Beneficiary

If you have dependents, such as children or a non-working spouse, you may have a life insurance policy. In fact, we hope you do! But as your life circumstances change, your policy needs to change as well.

When you purchased a life insurance policy (assuming you did), you named at least one beneficiary. This is the person or people who receive the proceeds of the policy in the event of your death. It was probably your spouse or child, or another relative for whom you would like to provide.

While you choose the amount of the life insurance benefits and the beneficiary when you purchase the policy, you may be able to alter them during your lifetime, depending on the designation type you chose at the time of policy issuance.

Specifically, when you purchased your policy, you probably chose the type of beneficiary designation, which can be either revocable or irrevocable. Most policies have a revocable beneficiary designation which means you can change beneficiaries after the policy goes into effect.

Why might you want to change a beneficiary? Maybe the person or people you support have changed. Perhaps you have had or adopted a child. Perhaps someone in your family has died and you no longer need to support that person (or you need to support that person’s children instead). Perhaps you’ve divorced. Perhaps a child has reached adulthood and no longer needs your support.

Because there are so many possibilities, it’s a good idea to review your personal circumstances each year to determine if a change needs to be made. If it does, changing your beneficiary designation is usually simple: just contact us (if we helped you purchase the policy) or the insurance company.

If you’re concerned about the beneficiaries of your life insurance policy, or think you need a policy, we can help. Call or email us for more information.

What’s the Difference between a Copayment and Coinsurance?

Are you looking at scheduling annual preventive healthcare appointments? is this the year you committed to addressing that nagging ache or pain and you want to schedule some appointments? As you review your healthcare summary of benefits, do you wonder whether services will be a copayment or coinsurance? Let us clarify the difference between the two.

What is a copayment?

A copayment also known as a copay is a smaller flat fee you pay to a healthcare professional for their services provided. Specialists typically have a higher copay over your primary care physician. Copays are normally paid before you see the provider of service. Understand that copays are less than the allowable amount negotiated between your provider and the insurance company.

When do I pay coinsurance?

Coinsurance is normally the lower percentage you pay after you meet your plan deductible. For example, let’s assume you need a healthcare service that has a negotiated rate of $1,500 and your coinsurance is 30%. You will pay the full $1,500 until you have met the plan deductible, then you will pay 30% in coinsurance or only $450 if you had already met your deductible.

How do my copayments and coinsurance apply to my annual maximum out of pocket expenses?

Every plan has flat copays or coinsurance. Remember copays do not count toward your deductible or plan maximum out-of-pocket expenses. You may pay a copay to see a provider and then coinsurance for a procedure they perform. However, after meeting your deductible, you are paying a smaller percentage of the remaining cost of care. You pay coinsurance until you meet your plan’s annual maximum out-of-pocket expense limit. Then your healthcare needs are covered in full by your policy.

How does your healthcare plan stack up as you look at scheduling those appointments? Call or email us and we can guide you.

Frequently Asked Questions about Medicare Supplement Insurance

You are finally eligible for Medicare, and everyone tells you to be sure to select supplemental insurance. What do you need to know as you review the various plan options? Here are some of the frequently asked questions as you consider which option will be best for you.

What is Medicare supplemental Insurance? Often referred to as a Medigap, these plans help to pay some or all the deductibles, copays and coinsurance not covered under Medicare. This is private health insurance sold by insurance companies. Doctors, healthcare professionals and hospitals who accept Medicare consider these plans to be the Cadillac level of coverage and should allow you to retain your preferred providers.

Are there different types of supplemental plans? Yes, each plan has different levels of coverage, so selection is normally based on your individual needs and budget. Sometimes referred to as the lettered plans (F, G, N, etc.), these options are standardized. It can make it easier to compare the insurance company rates for the plans which are available in your area. Not every plan is available in every state however all plans will have the same basic level of coverage.

When am I eligible to purchase supplemental insurance? The best time to enroll is when you are first eligible for Medicare or enrolled in Medicare Part B. This is when you are considered a guaranteed issue which means the insurance companies cannot require medical underwriting to approve your application.

We are just a phone call away from helping you navigate your various options and find supplemental insurance that meets your needs.

How Your Commercial Insurance Needs Change Over Time

It’s natural for your business to evolve over time. As it does, you likely remember to update your hardware and software, but keeping up with changing insurance requirements is also important (and easily forgotten). How, exactly, do a business’s insurance needs change over time?

First, some things stay the same. All businesses should have basic commercial coverage, including property insurance, which covers damages to business property, and liability insurance, which covers damages to other parties. But as your business evolves, additional specialized coverage may be warranted. Below are some options.

When you get employees

When you transition from a sole proprietor to an employer, you need workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance protects against employee injuries that occur on the job. Most states require businesses with employees to carry some type of workers’ compensation insurance, but you should have it regardless.

As you buy more equipment

When you first start out, you may have a laptop and some accessories. Eventually, however, you may want a scanner and copier, then servers, and possibly even industrial equipment, depending on your business. You’ll want to protect against the breakdown of this equipment by obtaining mechanical breakdown insurance. But it’s not just industrial equipment (such as boilers) that is covered; mechanical breakdown insurance also covers damage to office equipment, such as computers.

If you can’t be out of business temporarily

For some businesses, a property damage or loss has no effect: your employees take their laptops and work from home. But such an incident could put other companies out of business for a while. Interruption insurance is what those businesses need. It reimburses you for various expenses (from salaries to rent) and losses (such as net profits) that would have been experienced during the period your business is interrupted due to property damage or loss.

When it’s time to lease or build

Eventually, the small business owner moves out of his or her stereotypical garage into an office, and this triggers a requirement for more insurance. But the type of insurance you need depends on whether you rent or own your office space.

If you have a lease, consider a commercial renter’s policy. It covers damages to any improvements you make to your space, as well as damage any employee negligence causes to the space.

If you own your space, you’ll want to look at some coverages that help you rebuild. Your basic commercial coverage, including property insurance, will help with that. But you may want to consider some other options. For example, property insurance will not cover removing debris, so you may want debris removal insurance. Also look at ordinance insurance, also called law insurance, reimburses you for the expenses associated with demolishing and rebuilding to code when your building has been partially destroyed. You can even buy glass insurance to cover broken windows.

Where to turn

We can help you review your current insurance coverage and determine if you need any of these specialized coverages. Please call or email us today. We’re always here for you.

3 Things to Consider in a Commercial Insurance Policy

Every small business owner needs to manage risk, and obtaining commercial insurance is one of the best ways to do that. But finding the right coverage can be overwhelming, especially for those who have never purchased coverage before. Here are three things to consider.

Consider what is legally required.  Buying business insurance may be a necessity, depending on your location, industry, state, clients and lenders. For example, businesses with employees must generally carry workers’ compensation insurance. Clients may require that you carry professional liability coverage or errors and omissions insurance. And if you’re renting office space, your landlord may require you to buy a general liability policy, which covers third-party lawsuits over bodily injury or property damage.

Understand your industry’s risks.  Because every industry is different, the risks to a business often depend on its industry. For example, an accountant should worry about liability if a mistake is made completing a client’s taxes; a restaurateur should worry about a diner contracting food poisoning.

Learn what might affect your costs.  Your location, the type and size of your business, and the assets you are insuring may all affect the premium you pay for coverage. While you can’t control many of these things, you can take some steps to help keep your premiums down, such as creating a safe work environment, vetting employees carefully, and not allowing your coverage to lapse.

Call or email us today to schedule some time to review your insurance needs.