The Pros and Cons of Installing Bars on Your Windows

Bars on the windows might scream “prison” to some people, but they can actually be a really good way to protect your home. Adding protection like this has its pros and cons.

Are they right for me?

Not only are bars inexpensive, but they are also a great home security addition. Do you have a high burglary rate in your neighborhood? Are your windows accessible to passersby and easy to reach? Does your area have a Neighborhood Watch program? It’s also good to consider whether the look of having bars on your windows is something you mind.

What are window safety bars?

The short of it is: short metal grids that attach to your windows. They can be screwed on or bolted to the outside to prevent anyone breaking in. Nowadays, you can also opt for a stylish option. Many security bars are made with design patterns to add a special look to your home as well as being a safety option. It’s also possible to get removable bars you can slip into place at night or when going away to deter burglars. Of course, this option may be less reliable than permanent bars.

Why they work

Aside from being a physical barrier, they are also a psychological one. They deter potential thieves because the effort of breaking into a home with bars would be too difficult.

What are the cons?

The main con of security bars on the windows are that they are an eyesore. If you opt for permanent bars, it may devalue your home or make it harder to sell. If you have outward-opening windows, it may also restrict your view.

If you are wondering what the effect of security bars would be on your insurance, call or email us. We’d be happy to help.

Here’s What Is and Isn’t Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance

When it comes to homeowners insurance, you likely have many questions, with “What does it cover?” and “What doesn’t it cover?” probably being the most important. Here are some things to be aware of.

A basic homeowners insurance policy covers your home and possessions in the case of fire, windstorm (unless you live in a hurricane zone), hail (not available everywhere), explosion, riots, aircraft (and things falling from aircraft), vehicles (and things thrown from vehicles), smoke, vandalism (although not all policies), malicious mischief, theft and volcanic eruption. This policy is called HO-1 among insurance agents.

The problem is not all states allow this policy to be sold. Often you will have to upgrade your insurance to cover everything. HO-2 covers what’s in HO-1 plus damage due to falling objects; the weight of ice, snow and sleet; damage to electrical parts due to power surges; flooding from your appliances, plumbing, HVAC or fire-protection sprinkler system; glass breakage; and abrupt collapse (like from termite damage, for example).

These insurance policies feel very comprehensive. Surely not much else can go wrong, right? But what they don’t cover are natural occurrences such as floods, landslides, sinkholes, pollution and hurricanes. Sure, you can upgrade your insurance to cover specifics, especially if you live in a hurricane-prone state, but it can be quite hard to cover yourself. If you’ve bought an old home, you may also require an additional insurance policy.

Are you unsure what your homeowners policy covers? Call or email us, and we can go over your policy and ensure you have the coverage you need.

Are You Concerned You Can’t Afford Life Insurance?

Many people avoid purchasing life insurance, especially later in life, because they think it will be too expensive. But that’s not necessarily the case.

According to a 2021 study by Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA), almost half of U.S. households do not have life insurance. While the pandemic led to awareness (with 13% of Americans purchasing life insurance for the first time in 2020), the American population is still woefully underinsured. Most people without life insurance say they need it, and 42% of Americans would be financially strapped within half a year if the primary wage earner died unexpectedly, says LIMRA.

One common concern about buying life insurance is the cost. But life insurance may be less expensive than you think. According to LIMRA’s 2021 study, most Americans, especially younger generations, think life insurance costs three times as much as it does. Term life insurance for a healthy 30-year-old costs around $160 a year, per LIMRA, but 44% of millennials estimate it to be more than six times higher, at $1,000. This confusion about the cost of life insurance puts families at risk for financial hardship.

There are different types of life insurance, some more affordable than others. Term life insurance is the most affordable. It pays a benefit to your survivors when you die within a specified period of time. Whole life insurance, which combines investing with term life insurance, is more expensive.

To make life insurance more affordable, it helps to purchase a policy sooner rather than later. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be healthy, and the healthier you are, the lower the premium will be.

If you think you need a life insurance policy, we can help you determine which types of policies meet your individual circumstances and goals. Call or email us for more information.

What You Need to Know about Medicare for the End of 2022

Are you getting calls and mail about changing your health insurance? Do the TV commercials confuse you? Eligibility for Medicare and your insurance plan options can vary. Your opportunity to review options is now, and here are some things you need to know.

How much time do I have to review options? AEP, your Annual Enrollment Period, began October 15 and continues through December 7. Any changes you make during this time frame will be effective January 1. Your current plan should have sent you a package detailing any changes or enhancements to your plan. If you do nothing, you will automatically be enrolled in the 2023 version of your current plan.

What changes can I make? Typically, AEP is used to evaluate your current Part D Rx plan or your Medicare Advantage plan. With so many options available, the first step is to review your current plan. Are your doctors still accepting your Medicare Advantage plan? Are you considering changing doctors, requiring a different plan? Have your prescriptions changed, warranting a review of Rx plans for the coming year? This is a critical time to review your options and make the necessary changes for 2023.

If I have Original Medicare only, do I have options? Yes. If you chose not to enroll in a Part D Rx plan when you were first eligible, you can enroll during AEP for January 1. Another option you may consider is a Medicare Advantage plan. Some of these plans also include Rx coverage. A Medicare Advantage plan can cover a portion of your healthcare costs not fully covered under Original Medicare. Not all providers that contract with Medicare accept Advantage plans, so it is important to verify providers before making this decision.

If you’re considering any changes before year’s end, having a qualified advisor is critical. We are always here and available to discuss all your year-end options.

Frequently Asked Questions about Open Enrollment

You have been waiting all year, and the time has finally arrived! November 1 is the start of OEP, the Open Enrollment Period for individual health policies. This is the time of the year for you to review your current health insurance plan to decide if changes are needed. Here are the top three questions we hear most often.

When will my policy begin?

Even if you enroll in a new plan during November or December, this plan will not begin until January 1. Typically, open enrollment will end January 15, but extensions may apply in some states. Those who enroll in January will have their policy begin February 1.

If I am happy with my plan, what do I need to do?

Although you may be happy with your plan, this is a time of year to review the new plan benefits, see if networks have changed and evaluate if the plan will continue to be the best fit for the coming year. If all those boxes are checked, then you need to do nothing.

If I have been uninsured, can I apply now?

Yes. This will be your opportunity to secure insurance for the coming year. Do a needs assessment to determine what is important when reviewing health insurance plan options. This will help your agent as they recommend options to meet your budget and usage needs

Using a trusted advisor will help answer these and other questions you may have as we begin this enrollment period. We are just a phone call away and ready to assist.

The Ins and Out of Errors and Omissions Insurance

Do you make errors? We all do. And if you operate a small business that provides a service, chances are you need errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, which is a type of professional liability insurance. Let’s delve a bit deeper to see how this specialized insurance may help protect your business.

What is E&O insurance? E&O insurance is a form of professional liability insurance. Essentially, it protects companies against clients’ claims that sloppy and erroneous work harmed them.

What does E&O insurance cover? E&O insurance generally covers legal fees, which include court costs and any settlements up to the amount specified by the policy. Without E&O insurance, a company can be held liable for millions of dollars in damages plus legal fees. Having E&O coverage helps a company avoid a dire financial blow and possibly even bankruptcy, depending on the company’s financial circumstances.

Why buy E&O insurance? Regulatory bodies often require E&O insurance for financial companies. This includes insurance brokers, realtors and financial planners. But E&O insurance is also widely used outside the financial industry because of the protection it offers.

Who needs E&O insurance? E&O insurance is a good idea for businesses that provide advice or services. Common examples include accountants, insurance agents, writers, lawyers and event planners.

Who doesn’t need E&O insurance? Companies that don’t provide services generally don’t need E&O insurance. Another exception is medical professionals (such as doctors and dentists), who purchase a very specialized type of E&O insurance called malpractice insurance.

How is E&O insurance used? Let’s say a company runs servers used for data backup, and those servers are breached by hackers (a growing problem that also may require insurance, but that’s another topic).

The hackers gain access to proprietary client data hosted on the company’s servers, and the clients affected by the hack sue the server-hosting company for damages.

Fortunately, the server-hosting company has a robust E&O insurance policy that covers such situations. The server-hosting company reaches out to its insurance company, which in turn provides counsel, pays for the legal expenses involved in the court case and covers any damages the court or arbitrator awards.

How much does E&O insurance cost? The price of E&O insurance depends on several factors, including the type, size and location of your business as well as your claims history. But on average, E&O insurance can cost between $500 and $1,000 per employee per year, according to Investopedia. But we can give you a more precise quote that factors in your company’s circumstances and needs.

How do I choose an E&O policy? The benefits E&O insurance provides can vary significantly depending on the policy and issuing insurance company. For example, most policies won’t cover criminal prosecutions or claims stemming from work done before the policy was in effect. And some policies may not cover temporary employees.

If you are in the business of providing professional advice or other services, you should consider E&O insurance. Call or email us today to discuss your E&O insurance needs.

Small Business Surprises that Mean You Need Insurance

What insurance do you need for your small business, beyond general liability? We hear this question often, but there’s no simple answer because your insurance needs depend on your industry and location. But let’s approach the question another way: What could happen that would require insurance?

An incident puts you out of business temporarily. You need business interruption insurance. This type of insurance can help replace lost income if you can’t operate because of property damage from fires, storms or theft.

You get hacked. You need cyber liability insurance. This type of insurance can help you respond to personally identifiable information being lost or stolen by covering your costs to notify impacted customers, run a PR campaign to improve your company’s reputation and offer impacted clients credit monitoring services.

You get sued for discrimination. You need employers’ liability insurance. This type of insurance protects your business from discrimination, wrongful termination and sexual harassment claims.

You get a business vehicle. You need commercial auto insurance. This type of insurance covers property damage and bodily injury claims if you or your employees get into an accident while driving the company vehicle for business.

You offer services and sometimes make mistakes. You need errors and omissions insurance. This type of insurance is a form of professional liability insurance that protects you against clients’ claims that your work was erroneous.

We can help you review your current insurance coverage and determine if you need one of these types of coverage. Call or email us today.