Key Personnel Insurance: What Is It and Who Needs It?

Is the success of your business dependent on a single person or a key group of people? Could your company survive without you or other leaders?

Many small businesses would suffer greatly from the death of one valuable employee. This is where key personnel insurance comes in.

If a company could face closure after the loss of an important employee, key personnel insurance can provide the financial stability for the business to survive this loss. In instances where it is not feasible for the company to go on without the key employee, the funds from this policy can provide severance to employees, funds for investors, and a budget to close the business smoothly.

This coverage is available in two forms: key person life insurance and key person disability insurance.

The life insurance policy pays the business if the key employee dies. The funds can be used to pay off debts, buy out surviving shareholders, cover costs of replacing the employee, and provide for revenue that is lost due to the employee’s absence. The policy can be set up as term or whole life insurance.

The disability policy provides funds to the business if the key person becomes unable to work, either entirely or partially. Rather than pay the employee as typical disability insurance would, the policy provides funds for the company to compensate for lost revenue or to hire a replacement.

The amount of coverage for either policy should be based on the key person’s income and the portion of the overall business revenue that this reflects. These funds could provide the lifeline a company needs to survive a significant employee loss.

Why Is an Insurance Lapse So Bad for Business?

Small-business owners have a lot on their plates. Managing multiple moving parts, wearing many hats, and juggling the responsibilities of work and home can prove challenging.

In the midst of all this, something may occur that shouldn’t: a lapse in insurance coverage.

Whether the premium payment was overlooked or other circumstances caused the owner to cancel a policy, when there is a lapse in coverage, the business is left without insurance protection.

This isn’t a good thing. In fact, it can have serious repercussions. Four of these consequences top the list.

1. No net. While a tightrope walker can perform without a net, it’s risky. The same goes for business owners, although the risk is usually even higher. When insurance lapses, the business is left with no liability coverage, no property insurance, and no funds for defense during litigation. One incident without insurance to cover the costs could potentially close the company’s doors forever.

2. No discount. In most cases, businesses can receive a continuous coverage discount for maintaining constant coverage. Avoiding any lapses demonstrates stability to insurance companies, and they reward it with better rates. If the business experiences a lapse in coverage that lasts more than 30 days, this discount is usually lost.

3. No long-tail coverage. Maintaining constant coverage with the same insurance company offers advantages. One is long-tail coverage. If you carry a liability policy that includes a standard completed operations portion, the work your company performs is typically covered for the entire duration of the policy.

For example, if you opened the policy four years ago and you are sued for something that happened three years ago, the liability policy will kick in, even if the project in question is not a current job. If you experience a lapse in coverage, you will no longer be eligible for this long-tail coverage.

4. No reputation. A lapse in insurance coverage can hurt the reputation of your business with insurance underwriters. Since most small-business coverage is handled on a case-by-case basis, the underwriter must decide in each situation whether a business is a good fit or worthy of risk. If they see a lapse (or multiple lapses) in coverage, underwriters will be less likely to want to extend the coverage to the company. This can mean denial of coverage or higher premiums.

There may be some situations in which a lapse in coverage seems entirely appropriate, such as for seasonal businesses. However, it’s important to weigh the consequences of this lapse with the benefits of maintaining continuous coverage. And for those who may believe that a lapse in coverage is “no big deal,” it’s important to remember the risks involved when running a business without protection.

To keep insurance coverage in place, try not to think of it as an expense. It is a necessity. By avoiding any lapse in coverage, you’ll set your business up for better savings, smoother operations, and greater success.

We’re here as your resource and are happy to answer any questions you have about continuous coverage and how it can benefit your business.

Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment

Open enrollment for 2019 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begins November 1, 2019, and ends December 15, 2019.

What It Is

Open enrollment is the annual time when individuals may buy health plans through the state’s online health insurance exchanges. If you enroll during this time, coverage begins January 1, 2020. If you miss this important window, you cannot buy coverage from the “Marketplace” until the next open enrollment period, during late 2020. While individuals can use the government website to enroll, a trusted insurance agent makes navigating the process easier.

How It Works

In the past, a tax penalty applied to Americans without health insurance. The current administration eliminated that penalty for 2019. If you were uninsured in 2018, however, you have to pay in 2019: $695 for adults and $347.50 for children, or 2 percent of your yearly income, whichever is greater.

In 2017 and previously, open enrollment ran 92 days, through January 31. Buyers had more time to research coverage and enroll. That changed in 2018, with the open enrollment period decreasing to 45 days.

While the window is tight for open enrollment, certain circumstances such as a job loss or a loss of coverage because of divorce can qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period of 60 days.

How We Can Help

Rather than going it alone on the government website, use our agency to help you find a plan that meets your needs. Copays, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts vary by plan, so working with a professional can help you decide which plan is best for you and your family.

Choosing health care insurance is one of the most important decisions you can make in your financial planning, so don’t go it alone. Contact our office to help guide you through the plans, which range from Bronze to Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

As open enrollment nears, we often receive a number of phone calls for assistance. Be proactive and contact us a few weeks prior to open enrollment to discuss your options, so you have plenty of time to choose a plan and enroll.

Who Pays the Medical Bills If You’re Injured in a Ride Share?

Need a ride? Today all it takes is a smartphone and a downloaded app like Uber or Lyft. However, if you’re injured during the journey, whose insurance covers you?

Ride-share companies have gone to great lengths to be sure that accidents that arise out of their operations are insured. Like any business, a ride-share company does not want to be in the courtroom, where jury awards and expensive legal fees eat into profits. However, which insurance applies can be confusing.

From when the driver logs in to the app until a passenger leaves the vehicle, coverage varies. Each “period” of driver/rider interface falls under different insurance coverage.

While you’re occupying a ride-share vehicle, the ride-share company’s insurance provides coverage. If you’re injured, the ride-share company should handle your claim.

If another driver is at fault and has no insurance, ride-share operators usually carry uninsured and underinsured coverage through the company, as well. The maximum limit of liability coverage is $1 million, which is usually enough to cover most injuries and health concerns.

However, your own auto policy may respond. Although policy wording varies, most auto policies provide medical payments to cover your injury.

Additionally, if the ride share’s limits of liability are insufficient to cover an uninsured motorist event, you can file a claim with your own insurer to determine if your coverage applies.

Feel free to contact our office with any questions about ride-sharing coverage. As your go-to source for insurance info, we are happy to help.

Understanding Taxes on Life Insurance

One of the greatest things about life insurance, other than that it provides for your loved ones in the event you should pass away unexpectedly, is that the proceeds that go to your beneficiaries generally are not taxable.

That said, there are situations in which part of the payout may go to Uncle Sam, and it is a good idea to be aware of them.

First, when the payout is made to a beneficiary after someone dies, it is not taxable. This is the most common use of life insurance, so you can rest easy knowing your insurance beneficiaries will not be hit with a tax bill.

A life insurance payout is also not taxed if it is made while the insured is terminally or chronically ill and there is a so-called terminal illness rider in place. In this case, the payout is generally treated as if it were paid upon the policyholder’s death.

So, when is a payout of life insurance taxable?

One instance is when payouts are made in installments instead of in full. Installment plans may help individuals who fear they will blow the lump sum all at once. If this is the case, and the payout is in installments, the death benefit is not taxable, but the interest that accrues on the payouts is.

Another situation that can make a life insurance payout taxable is having a large estate. In 2019, this applies to an estate that is worth more than $11.4 million. Why? In 2019, the Federal Estate Tax Exclusion amount is $11.4 million for individuals. If you have an estate valued above that amount when you die, any amount above $11.4 million is taxed at 40 percent. The part of your estate that your spouse inherits is exempt.

So, if your beneficiary is a parent, sibling, or child, the amount he or she receives is subject to the tax. This can happen when a spouse beneficiary passes away before the policyholder.

Are you concerned about taxes that may be due on a life insurance policy? Feel free to contact our office with any questions. We are happy to review your options and help you find the best solution based on your individual financial and insurance needs.

Boat Insurance Basics You Need to Know

A spin around the lake or a cruise down the river can be a great way to spend an August afternoon. Just make sure you have the necessary coverage to protect your boat (and your wallet).

The type and amount of boat insurance you need depend on the kind of vessel you own and how you use it. Simple craft such as kayaks, smaller sailboats, and small powerboats may be covered by your homeowners policy. Larger, more powerful vessels such as yachts and Jet Skis require separate coverage.

A boat insurance policy typically covers damage to the boat itself, theft, and general liability. Additional coverage, including protection for trailers and boating accessories, may also be available.

These insurance policies typically offer one of two types of coverage: actual cash value or agreed amount value. Actual cash value pays for the cost of replacement minus the depreciation of the boat. Agreed amount value policies pay the total that you and your insurer have agreed upon as the value of the vessel. Under this coverage, old items are replaced with new without subtracting depreciation.

As a boat owner, you may be eligible for discounts to your insurance premiums. Common discounts include those for multiple policies with the same provider, safety equipment onboard the vessel, and crew’s completion of safety education courses. Remaining claims-free for a certain period of time may also qualify you for a discount.

In addition to obtaining proper insurance, maintain best practices to protect your boat and its passengers. Equip your vessel with proper lighting, an emergency signal (horn, whistle, or bell), and life jackets. Stock your boat with an emergency kit that includes fresh water, a flashlight, a radio, flares, tools, and a first aid kit, and keep a fire extinguisher readily accessible. Lastly, always adhere to marine traffic laws.

Not sure if you have the coverage you need for your boat? Give us a call to review your current coverage and discuss the options available. We’ll make sure you and your vessel are well protected the next time you set sail.

Reduce Their Risk: Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

It’s time for a teen to get their driver’s license. Who is more nervous – the teenager or the parent?

Parent anxiety during this rite of passage is understandable. According to the Insurance Information Institute, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death among those age 15 to 20.

Fortunately, teens and parents can take steps to improve safety on the road. If you have a teen behind the wheel, try these best practices.

Choose a safe car: Sure, your teen will probably prefer to drive that sporty convertible, but giving a teenager the keys to a sleek, fast car will only encourage speeding and other unsafe driving habits. For a teen’s first vehicle, choose a car that is easy to drive and offers solid protection during an accident. Avoid small cars and SUVs, which are prone to rollovers.

Limit their risk: Consider following a graduated driver’s license (GDL) program. These are in place in some states, and parents can institute similar policies in areas where they aren’t required. Under these programs, teens’ driving privileges are restricted until the teen has gained experience behind the wheel. Restrictions may prohibit driving at night or with teen passengers.

Emphasize safe habits: Talk with teens about risky driving behaviors. Explain the dangers involved with distracted driving caused by phone use, radio use, or conversations with passengers. Stress the importance of remaining focused while driving.

Additionally, certain practices, such as enrolling teens in a safe driver program or using electronic devices to monitor their driving, may qualify you for insurance discounts. Contact our office to discuss what programs are available in your area.

5 Natural Disaster Facts You Probably Don’t Know

Do natural disasters pose a threat to your home? It’s unlikely your home is completely free of risk. Consider the following National Geographic disaster facts that affect homeowners worldwide each season.

Tornado fact: Tornadoes occur most often between March and July, during the hours from 4 to 9 p.m. Tornado winds can whip up to 300 mph. That’s twice as fast as hurricane winds. These powerful twisters can quickly destroy homes in their path.

Lightning fact: A lightning flash can heat the air around it to five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Contrary to popular belief, lightning can (and does) strike the same place twice. Rods and other materials such as plumbing and gutters can ground homes and offer protection from lightning.

Hurricane fact: Hurricanes cause “storm surges” when winds push ocean water onshore. These can reach heights of 20 feet and can cover several miles of inland territory.

Flooding and storm surges are two of the most threatening aspects of hurricanes. These storms can also generate tornadoes. Forecasts and evacuations are the best defense against the destruction of hurricanes.

Earthquake fact: Typically, a magnitude 8 earthquake hits somewhere every year.

Earthquakes claim the lives of 10,000 people annually; a majority of these tragedies are due to collapsing buildings. These disasters can also lead to other incidents, such as fires, tsunamis, and floods, that add to the destruction.

Wildfire fact: Four out of five wildfires are started by humans.

Every year, between four and five million acres of US land is cleared by wildfires. These infernos can move up to 14 mph, burning up everything in their path. Depending on your location, your property may be at risk for one or more of these incidents each season. Do you have the proper coverage?

Homeowners insurance can provide the protection you need. Reach out to our office to review your coverage. We’ll ensure you have the policies in place to help you recover if disaster strikes in your area.

6 Questions to Ask Before Buying Car Insurance

You need coverage for your car. But what kind of insurance should you get, and how much coverage do you need? As you consider auto insurance policies, ask yourself the following questions to determine the best coverage for your vehicle.

Who? Will you be the only one driving your car? If you share the vehicle with others, such as a spouse or a teen driver, you’ll need to list them on your policy.

What? What type of vehicle do you drive? The year, make, and model of your car affect the price of insurance. Some types of cars require special policies, and others may be eligible for discounts due to strong safety records.

When? How often do you drive your car, and how far do you usually drive it? Your policy should reflect your typical use of the vehicle. If you rarely drive it, you may want to consider mileage-based insurance.

Where? Do you park your car on the street or in a garage? Do you drive your car in harsh environments or smooth conditions? Consider the risks your vehicle faces as you weigh your options for coverage.

Why? Why do you need coverage? Do you simply want to fulfill state legal requirements? Do you love your car and want to keep it scratch-free? Do you have a lease that requires specific coverage? The reason for your coverage should guide your policy choice.

How? How do you want to pay for your auto insurance? Monthly? Biannually? Consider your payment options, which may provide different benefits or discounts. You can also choose a higher deductible to lower your premium. Contact our office to review your options and determine the best coverage for you and your vehicle.

Avoid These Life Insurance Payout Surprises

Life insurance: You rely on it to help your loved ones cover certain expenses upon your death. And you trust that it will work as planned. But does it?

Consider the following scenario.

You pay premiums for the life insurance policy for decades, and then, when it is time to collect, your heirs find that there is a problem. They don’t get paid, or they don’t get paid what they expected.

It sounds impossible, but it can happen.

For example, consider a couple who has been married for decades. The husband has a life insurance policy that will pay his wife if he dies first. When the couple divorce later in life, they agree to keep the wife as the beneficiary. She creates a financial plan with this in mind, thinking she will collect if the husband dies.

But when the husband passes away, that doesn’t happen. The life insurance company tells her that her rights as the beneficiary were revoked as a result of the divorce.

That’s right. In some states, the law nullifies upon divorce the designation of a spouse as a beneficiary of non-probate assets such as life insurance policies.

Some people assume the opposite – that divorce automatically divests a former spouse of life insurance beneficiary status. A husband may assume his ex-wife isn’t getting a penny of his money when he dies, and that is what he wants. But that’s not always the case either. In many states, a beneficiary has to be changed by the policy owner. It doesn’t happen automatically, even in the case of divorce.

From these examples, we can see that it’s a good idea to read your life insurance policy to understand the terms of the payoff.

Know your state laws and clarify your intentions so there are no surprises when it’s time for your loved ones to collect on your policy.

Our office can work with you to ensure your policy is set up appropriately. Contact us to review your current coverage or to establish a new policy that will effectively meet your future needs.

How Often Should Adults Get a Checkup?

For best results, you should see your doctor at least once a year. These regular checkups discover health problems early, improving your odds for treatment and cure. They also monitor chronic health problems, reducing complication risks and keeping you informed about any changes in your condition or advancements in treatment. Checkups also improve your relationship with your health care provider, making treatment more effective.

What it costs: Thanks to the Patient Protection Affordability Care Act, or the PPACA, coverage for an annual checkup is federally mandated in all states and is free. Starting on January 1, 2013, this law required all providers, including insurance your employer may offer, to cover the cost of one annual health care visit as described below, including all indicated tests. To fulfill the preventive care and maintenance purpose of the PPACA, your provider may not charge you for the exam or for a co-pay, a deductible, or a coinsurance charge. In addition to indicated tests, the PPACA covers certain benefits and preventive care for women, such as mammograms.

What to expect: During your health care visit, your doctor will perform or order various tests depending on your age, your current health, and your family history. Your doctor may counsel you on lifestyle choices, such as your diet and activity. Your regular checkup will also include a blood test to identify certain conditions, including anemia, high or low blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, and high or low cholesterol. In addition, doctors use blood tests to check your organ health.

If you do not have a regular health care provider, you can find potential providers in your community at Find A Health Center. Regular checkups can increase the length and quality of your life, so take advantage of this benefit.

Work-Related Disabilities: Are You Protected?

According to the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, almost 12% of the population in 2016 was living with a disability. While many Americans rely on their group disability plan, what happens if you lose your job? What if you own your business? If you cannot continue to work due to disability, you may face a period without income and even lose your home or business.

Your Options

There are two types of disability coverage: short-term and long-term disability. The amount the policies pay after you face a covered disability varies depending on your base salary. Contingent on the policy definitions, any bonus or commission you receive may not count toward your coverage payout. Short-term disability begins to pay sooner than long-term but ends relatively quickly, depending on the policy you choose.

Long-term disability generally begins to pay when you face a longer recovery from illness or accident, often three to six months post-disability.

Many employers offer full-time employees both group short-term and group long-term disability coverage. However, group insurance is not “portable,” nor do groups usually offer better benefits than individual policies.

If you lose work hours, for example, and drop from a full-time to a part-time employee, you may lose your coverage. If you face a layoff or change jobs to a smaller organization that does not offer group coverage, you can lose access to group disability coverage.

If you own a business, disability coverage is critical. Keeping your business viable and paying monthly bills like rents, payroll, and mortgages can be impossible if you are unable to work. An individual disability plan allows you to meet the challenges of business ownership.

Insurance companies underwrite individual disability policies based on your health and age. We are happy to review your needs and provide a no-obligation quote. Simply contact our office to determine the income you need to replace your salary and cover your fixed expenses.

Cybersecurity Glossary: What You Need to Know

According to information from Cybersecurity Ventures, cyberattacks are the fastest-growing crime in the world. Yet PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that less than half of companies are sufficiently prepared for one of these attacks.

Is yours?

A good first step to protect your company from cybercrime is education. Learn the language of the world of cybercrime to increase awareness. Use the following list of basic cybercrime terms to get started.

Access control: This involves permitting or prohibiting access to information or physical locations. Proper monitoring and limitation of this access is essential to maintain company security.

Cyber insurance: This coverage protects your business from damage that results from electronic threats to your operations, including liability and recovery costs.

Cybersecurity: This encompasses all policies, standards, and strategies relating to the security of company operations that occur in cyberspace.

Encryption: This is the process of converting data from basic format into one that can’t be easily interpreted by those who are unauthorized to access it.

Hacker: A hacker is someone who attempts to gain access to a system in an unauthorized manner.

Incident response: When a cyberattack occurs, the activities that occur to address its effects are referred to as an “incident response.” This involves responding to the crisis, mitigating potential threats, preserving property and information, and analyzing response activities for optimal results.

Intrusion detection: These processes analyze information from security systems to determine whether a security breach has occurred.

Keylogger: This software tracks keystrokes to monitor a user’s actions.

Macro virus: A macro virus can replicate and spread itself by attaching to documents and using the macro capabilities of an application.

Malware: This software performs unauthorized processes that compromise the integrity of a system.

Passive attack: With these types of attacks, the perpetrator doesn’t try to alter the system but simply makes use of it to obtain information.

Phishing: This refers to attempts to deceive people into providing sensitive information.

Redundancy: These are additional systems or subsystems that are operated to maintain functionality if another system should fail.

Spoofing: This involves impersonating an email address to gain unauthorized entry to a system.

Ticket: In relation to access control, a ticket is the data that authenticates someone, as a credential for that person to gain access.

Trojan horse: This type of computer program appears to be useful, but has a hidden function that circumvents security and accesses confidential information or otherwise negatively affects the system.

Worm: This program is self-contained and self-replicating and uses networking mechanisms to spread itself.

Would you like to learn more about cybercrime, cyber insurance, and what coverage is available to protect your business from cyberattacks? Contact our office to review your current policies and determine what coverage is appropriate for your company.

Who Should Consider Contractor’s Insurance?

As a business owner, you need to have all your bases covered to protect your company. When it comes to insurance, this might mean establishing a contractor’s insurance policy. Here are the FAQs to help you determine whether this coverage is right for you.

What is contractor’s insurance? This coverage protects your business from obligations resulting from work-related incidents. If your business is threatened by lawsuits or other liabilities, contractor’s insurance can shelter you from these costs.

What is provided by contractor’s insurance? Basic business liability, worker’s compensation, and commercial automotive coverage may be included with contractor’s insurance. Typically, these policies can also be tailored to meet the unique needs of your business. You may need coverage for mobile equipment, personal property, materials that are being installed, or post-project claims.

Who needs contractor’s insurance? A wide range of professionals can benefit from contractor’s insurance. These include independent tradesmen, subcontractors, and contractors. Trades that most often need contractor’s insurance include construction, plumbing, carpentry, landscaping, painting, electrical, HVAC, masonry, and flooring.

How much does contractor’s insurance cost? Premiums for contractor’s insurance vary by policy. The type of work that you do and the risks you encounter determine the rate. It’s important to customize your coverage to match your specific business. Reach out to our office to review the needs of your business and receive a personalized quote.

Whatever your industry, the cost of not having contractor’s insurance can easily outweigh the cost of coverage.

Why You Should Read Your Loss History Report

Did you know homes and cars have report cards? Do you know what grade your property deserves?

If you haven’t checked your report, you might want to look into it.

This statement is called a Loss History Report. It provides a record of the insurance claims and losses that are associated with a particular property or car. The report typically covers the previous seven years of claims history. The information is gathered by the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.).

When insurers underwrite a policy, they typically refer to this report. The history helps define the risk level and determine the rates for future insurance.

As a consumer, you can check your Loss History Report to ensure accuracy for auto claims. Since errors on the report could result in higher premiums, it’s good to verify that all information is correct. You can obtain one free report per year.

If you discover any mistakes, you can contact LexisNexis, which will look into the claim. Depending on the situation, you may be able to add an explanation to the information that will be included in future reports.

Consumers can also make use of a Loss History Report for real estate transactions. If you are considering a home for purchase, you can request a copy from the sellers. (The owner of the property has to make the request directly to C.L.U.E.)

A review of this report will shed light on any previous damage to the house, which you can then follow up on to verify any repairs before you purchase the home.

Is Your Vehicle Burglar Repellant?

Every 45 seconds, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States, according to reporting from the Insurance Information Institute.

What can you do to protect your car from becoming part of this statistic?

Use the following tips to make your car less appealing and more secure. These precautions can prevent crime as well as keep your auto insurance premiums lower.

Lock It Down

When the weather is warm, it can be tempting to leave the windows open while your car is parked. You may even decide to keep the doors unlocked, if you are running a quick errand. Don’t do it.

Always keep your windows shut and your doors locked if you’re not in your vehicle. Thieves are faster than you think.

Tuck Them Away

If you have personal property in your car, hide it. Purses and other bags should go in the trunk, where they will not be visible to potential thieves. You don’t want to create a temptation by leaving unattended items in sight.

Light It Up

Make smart choices when parking your car. Look for well-lit areas that are highly trafficked. Try to find the most secure spot in a parking garage, such as near entrances or guard booths, that also offer plenty of light.

Turn Them Off

Let thieves know your vehicle is not a good choice by using anti-theft devices. A steering wheel or gearshift column lock can be an effective way to make your vehicle unappealing to a thief.

If your car is stolen, a tracking device can prove helpful to locate the vehicle. These are included in many newer cars, and they can be purchased to install in older models. These devices may even qualify your vehicle for a discount on your auto insurance.

Is your vehicle fully protected? Contact our office for additional tips or to find out if a particular anti-theft device would reduce your premiums.

Can a Social Media Post Change Your Premium?

We all like to share our adventures with friends and family. Sometimes this happens through social media. This can be a fun way to share photographs of our adventures, from our motorcycling vacation to our rock-climbing weekend.

But these images may be more visible than we think, and broad sharing of such information could affect your life-insurance premiums.

Earlier this year, the state of New York provided guidance as to how life insurers may legally use data science to analyze an applicant’s risk via his or her social media posts.

The good news: The technology needed to study social media accounts to make underwriting decisions is not fully developed. The time required to review each and every applicant’s accounts can be costly, so few insurers are currently doing it.

The bad news: Using such technology to make underwriting decisions is likely inevitable. In fact, some data scientists and industry analysts believe it won’t be long before social media is among the most common data reviewed in life insurance issuance.

This could be a trend for property and car insurance, too. Some insurers are already checking explanations of auto accident claims against Facebook testimonials about the accident.

Just to be safe, you may want to review the privacy settings on each of your social media accounts, ensuring that posts are shared only within your closest network. Also ask friends not to tag you in their photos, and un-tag yourself when they do.

If you really want to be safe, avoid posting photos of yourself engaging in risky behavior, such as smoking, motorcycling, and skydiving, and boast about healthy activities, such as going on cycling trips, running marathons, or simply hiking in the woods.

There’s no guarantee that doing so will help your premiums go down, but if you are going to be that careful, why not show good behavior in addition to avoiding displays of bad behavior?

Taking a Cruise? Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can cover a variety of situations, from minor inconveniences to major disasters. Coverage may include trip cancellations, missed connections, accommodations while awaiting new connections, lost passports, and arrangements to get home after a medical emergency.

Taking a cruise, however, means considering a few unique things that can go wrong.

Off-ship excursions top the list for reasons to obtain cruise travel insurance. For example, in Cozumel, Mexico, a cruise beach party included a water slide into the ocean. However, the excursion failed to post warnings about the water depth. One man dove off the seawall and suffered serious spinal injuries.

Even if you aren’t planning any daredevil excursions, you never know what might happen. Make sure your cruise travel insurance includes emergency medical coverage as well as the trip home to receive care.

In other situations, you may need cruise travel insurance to cover evacuation from the ship to a hospital during a serious illness. You may also need to find local medical help if you suffer an injury in a foreign city. A travel policy can help locate international medical help when it’s needed.

With these potential needs in mind, you may want to make travel insurance a priority for your next cruise.

As you choose a policy, ensure that your cruise travel insurance covers the following:

Early return home, for any reason.

Shipboard disruption, such as a fire, mechanical breakdown, or virus that affects a large number of passengers.

Excursion refund, in case the cruise itinerary changes due to weather or another emergency.

Missed connection, to cover the cost of rejoining your ship should you miss your onboarding.

Ship-to-shore, to get you off the ship and to a hospital if your condition calls for evacuation.

It is always best to buy your travel insurance from a health insurance agent you know rather than online. We offer a variety of travel policies and can guide you toward the one that best suits your travel plans.

Medicare Supplement Plans: Can One Size Fit All?

Based on calculations from National Vital Statistics Reports, each day 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 and become Medicare eligible. Americans approaching this key birthday receive a flood of Medicare insurance literature.

However, Medicare coverage isn’t free. Original Medicare has deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, just like private health insurance. Part A covers hospitalization for up to 60 days with a significant deductible. Part B also requires cost-sharing, just like most private health insurance.

A Medicare supplement policy helps reduce your co-pay, deductible, and coinsurance costs. If you’re just turning 65, you don’t want to wait to choose a Medicare supplement policy. Once you sign up for Medicare Part B, you’ll have only six months to choose a plan. However, each year after your first year on Part B, you can change your Medicare supplement during open enrollment, which runs from October 15 to December 7.

As the 2020 election cycle begins, news reports indicate that some politicians are pushing Medicare-for-all as part of their platform. This approach proposes an expansion to cover all US citizens with the single-payer system, which is now in use for Americans over 65 and certain citizens with disabilities.

In one proposed plan, a supplemental private plan would be available. Another proposed plan would allow a choice between private health insurance and buy-in to Medicare.

Confused? Who wouldn’t be? There are many coverage options to understand and various time lines that must be followed. Meet with us so we can help you navigate the maze of plans available and ensure you find the broadest coverage at the best price.

Rented and Personal Vehicles: Are Your Risks Covered?

Are you familiar with hired and non-owned auto (HNOA) insurance? If your business involves vehicle use in any way, this coverage could be crucial for your operations. Here are the FAQs.

What is HNOA insurance?

Hired and non-owned auto insurance provides coverage if an employee uses a personal or rented vehicle for business purposes.

If an employee in these circumstances is in an accident, the company for which they were driving could be held liable for damages. HNOA insurance covers this liability.

Who needs HNOA insurance?

Business owners may assume that if their employees don’t use company vehicles, they don’t have to worry about insurance coverage. This isn’t necessarily true.

The employee’s personal insurance may not always cover the full liability, in which case the litigators may go after the business for which the employee was driving at the time. This makes it important for any business with exposure to this risk to maintain HNOA insurance.

While HNOA insurance is most commonly associated with food delivery tasks, the need for HNOA goes beyond pizza and sandwich delivery. Home health care providers, consultants, contractors, and anyone else who uses their own vehicles or rented vehicles for business-related tasks or travel have HNOA exposure.

Of course, a company with a fleet of inexperienced teens delivering dinners will have a higher risk than a small business with two professionals who attend occasional client meetings. Still, the risk is there, and it should be addressed.

What can business owners do to reduce HNOA exposure?

To reduce their risk, business owners can take several steps. First, they can conduct motor vehicle record checks on employees. This task can be completed twice a year to monitor employee driving. Second, business owners can establish guidelines for who is considered an acceptable driver. The employer can use driving experience, age, and driving records as parameters to set these guidelines.

Modern technology allows for a third method that could be worthwhile for some businesses. This solution is telematics. Using this technology, an employer can monitor the activity of a vehicle and the driver’s performance. The data will reveal whether drivers speed, how they brake, and other information that can be helpful in determining risk. Because they are being monitored, employees may make greater effort to drive safely. Employers can also create reward programs based on telematics data to further incentivize safe driving among employees.

Is HNOA coverage provided by a standard commercial auto insurance policy?

Business owners who have a commercial auto insurance policy may or may not be covered for HNOA situations. Previously, this coverage was often a standard part of commercial auto policies, but the rising frequency and cost of litigation have forced many providers to make it a separate policy. Business owners should check with their carriers to see what coverage is included and what is available.

What’s the next step?

If you’re unsure about your HNOA exposure and insurance needs, contact our office. We can provide a quick review of your policies and risks and make sure you have appropriate coverage.