Phishing: Prevent Your Team from Getting Hooked

While phishing may sound eerily similar to a sport involving boats, the result of each couldn’t be more different. Phishing emails are commonly sent by people pretending to be someone recipients know in order to acquire private data or information, such as bank account details. Cybercriminals are getting more and more sophisticated, for example, by spoofing senior executives whose messages most employees would not ignore. Below are a few tips to prevent your team from getting hooked next time there’s a phishing scam sent your way.

Educate. The first best line of defense against phishing scams is education. How to identify the words commonly used, what to do if you’re unsure and why phishing can cost the company millions of dollars are all important pieces of information every employee should be aware of.

Simulate. Working with your IT department, you should simulate what a phishing scam would look like to make employees aware of how this practice works in the real world, in addition to testing their knowledge of phishing scams. Some of these simulations should be announced beforehand, and others should be at random.

Incentivize. Consider a rewards system for identifying and reporting phishing emails to show employees how important you consider their role in keeping your company safe and protected. Small rewards, such as lunch and public recognition, go a long way to encourage alertness from your employees.

If you have any questions about phishing scams or how to protect your company if you do get hooked, we are here to help. Call or email us today.

3 Ways to Save on Your Homeowners Insurance

Your homeowners insurance policy is your safety net for when the unthinkable happens. From natural disasters to robberies, crises happen, and having a homeowners insurance policy means you will be able to cover repairs and losses. But premiums can be pricey. Below are a few tips to help you save on this crucial insurance policy.

Make your home safer. You may not be able to control freak accidents and hazards to your home, but you can make changes to make it safer, which can lower your insurance premium. This could include updating your electrical and plumbing systems, installing or beefing up your home security system, and installing a new roof, which is less likely to be damaged by wind and hail than an older roof.

Mitigate or eliminate risk factors. There are some risk factors that come with the area, such as inclement weather. However, adding a pool to your property, building a fireplace, smoking, owning a pet, or having a trampoline can create unnecessary risks that increase the likelihood of someone getting hurt. All of these may raise your premiums.

Increase your deductible or bundle your insurance. If you have a savings account that you can always rely on, sometimes a good money-saving move is to increase your deductible, which is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before insurances take effect. You can also bundle your homeowners insurance with your car, boat or other insurance products to take advantage of unique savings.

Please feel free to contact me today if you are interested in ways to save on your homeowners insurance policy. I can help you determine what is right for you, given your individual financial circumstances and goals.

Safe Driving Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Passengers

Keeping yourself and your passengers safe is always your priority when you drive. Below are a few tips to help protect yourself and your passengers every time you get behind the wheel.

Concentrate on driving. Whether it’s due to changing the radio station, talking to other passengers, or texting on your cell phone, distracted driving can cause a crash or worse. Always be sure to concentrate on the task at hand and not get distracted.

Practice defensive driving. Not every driver is as careful as you are out there, and some are careless, distracted or reckless, with no regard for other people’s safety. Make sure to always know what drivers around you seem to be doing, keep a cushion (two seconds in good weather, four seconds in bad weather) between you and the car in front of you, and never believe that another driver will act in a way that is responsible and will help you.

Create a safe driving plan. Know where you’re going. Create a plan that includes time for rest stops; cell phone breaks to check in with family and any detours that might arise as the result of highway or road construction. Don’t eat while you’re driving.

Be safe inside your vehicle. Don’t try to pick up items that may have rolled under your seat. Have needed items, such as toll cards and garage passes, within reach. Secure cargo so it doesn’t shift while you drive.

Keeping you, your family and your vehicle safe is of utmost importance. Call us to review your auto coverage and policies so we can ensure you are protected.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know about Life Insurance?

Think you know a lot about life insurance? Try our quiz (based on LIMRA’s 2020 Life Insurance Barometer Study) to see if you’re right.

1. What is life insurance used for?
(a) Providing for a loved one financially after your death
(b) Estate planning
(c) Both of the above

2. What percentage of US adults say they have life insurance?
(a) 84%
(b) 62%
(c) 54%

3. Which is the number one reason people say they own life insurance?
(a) Replacing lost wages or income
(b) Paying for burial costs and final expenses
(c) Transferring wealth across generations

4. Which is not a type of life insurance?
(a) Term life
(b) Whole life
(c) Partial life

5. Over the past decade, US life insurance ownership has:
(a) Fallen
(b) Risen
(c) Stayed about the same

Answers: 1c, 2c, 3b, 4c, 5a

Life insurance needs differ among individuals, so determining how much coverage you need can be daunting. But it is unwise to avoid this task because obtaining the right life insurance is an important part of your overall financial plan. If you have any questions about how life insurance works, call or email me. I am always here to help you navigate through the options that are the best for you and your personal goals.

Medicare Advantage Programs Are Adding Important Benefits for You

In 2018, Congress passed a bill that affected Medicare recipients in several ways. Trying to find ways to cut Medicare costs, especially hospital readmissions, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. This act expanded the ability of health insurers to pay for services that are not directly health-related yet improve a Medicare patient’s overall functioning.

Since 2018, many Medicare Advantage (MA) plan insurers have expanded benefits for their subscribers. These include the use of home care practitioners who can help patients cope after serious illnesses or hospitalization. Your MA plan may offer these benefits soon, if not now.

These benefits include home care, which differs from home health care. Home health care sends skilled medical workers to homes to provide medical services such as wound care and ostomy assistance. Today, more MA plan leaders are adding home care: helping with meals, retrieving prescriptions, ensuring the patient has an uncluttered environment to prevent falls, and doing household chores patients may require during their recovery. These types of services traditionally were private pay.

To reduce costs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wanted to encourage innovation among health insurance administrators. It’s clear that home health care is an important addition to healing. Additionally, these services improve MA members’ satisfaction with their plans. Both insurance carriers and the CMS saw the need for radical change to increase patient satisfaction and improve patient outcomes.

Americans face difficult paths to recovery after serious illnesses or injuries. With the mobility of the American family, many older Americans or those with disabilities live without family support and with fewer social networks. Adding home care services can help seniors remain home longer, decrease the risk of rehospitalization and prevent or delay a move to assisted living or nursing homes.

To discuss the benefits your plan offers, contact us today.

Don’t Miss Important Affordable Care Act Deadlines – Call Now

Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is upon us. In most states, open enrollment begins on November 1, 2020 and ends on December 15, 2020. If you’re an ACA subscriber or you want to change plans, call us now because appointments fill quickly. We want to guide you to the best plan for your money and help you determine which medical providers are in your current exchange plan.

Health insurance is complex, and you want to be sure you have expert guidance before you buy health coverage. If you miss the open enrollment deadline, you may lose coverage under the ACA. Without an ACA plan, your only choice may be an “off-exchange” health plan or a short-term medical plan that may not provide the same benefits as the ACA. It won’t cover you for certain preexisting conditions. It may not offer maternity care, prescription coverage or substance abuse treatment, which are all covered by the ACA.

On the plus side, short-term plans take effect within 24 hours of the application and payment of the premium. Premiums may be lower than ACA plans and may offer access to more doctors and hospitals. Major insurers manage today’s ACA plans, so they may cover your physicians under certain ACA plans.

Why go it alone on the ACA website? We’re happy to be your guide through the confusing maze of the Affordable Care Act, and we can help you determine which level of coverage best meets your needs.

Your Employee Handbook and Insurance: The Connection

Many companies refer to their employee handbooks as their “corporate bible,” spelling out all kinds of policies ranging from serious matters, such as sexual harassment, to less consequential ones, such as lunch breaks or even casual Fridays. One of the goals of this employee handbook, besides helping create an office culture, is to create legal safeguards that will protect you and your company against potential lawsuits. As such, this should be thought of as an integral part of your insurance coverage, both when you originally write the handbook and whenever you decide to undertake revisions in order to protect yourself and your company. No matter if your employees work remotely or in an office, you need to cover all pertinent issues in your employee handbook.

Parts of the handbook are culturally significant for you and your company and will include information such as company history, important milestones, and necessary information on the employee benefits package. Keeping the tone lighthearted and informational shouldn’t prevent you from getting into the crucial things that you need to let your employees know about so they know what to expect from you and your business and so that your business is protected. The handbook should provide a clear set of guidelines in each and every area of that employee’s employment that you can refer to if they allege you treated them in an unfair manner. If a lawsuit alleging discrimination comes to pass, your handbook is proof that policies were disclosed and shows you handled the situation appropriately.

Without an employee handbook, there is no way to affirmatively prove that every provision that would otherwise have been included was communicated to the employee. Not creating an employee handbook that is given to all employees creates unnecessary risk for you and your business.

All handbooks should include at least these items:

At-will employment provision. In most circumstances, employment is at will, meaning the employee can be dismissed for any reason that is not discriminatory. For example, if you wish to dismiss an employee based on how they bake bread at your bakery, this provision would cover that dismissal, and the employee would be on notice that there is no guaranteed compensation beyond time worked.

Equal opportunity statement. It’s important that your business make clear that it is a place that is welcoming for all, no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. This reassures your employees and demonstrates your commitment to a workplace where an employee is judged only on their work product.

Complaints. Ensuring you have a clear way to handle complaints can provide your employees clarity and give you protection from false allegations if you reach a decision not in their favor.

Creating an employee handbook isn’t easy, especially for a small business. But it is a vital part of making sure your business is protected. If you’d like to learn more about how your employee handbook relates to insurance, reach out. I’m here to help, and I’m just a call or email away.

The Pros and Cons of Longer-Term Policies

Did you know that there is a way to avoid going back to your insurance company year after year for basically the same policy? Longer-term policies could help you save time and money that can be reinvested in your business. However, longer-term policies may not be for everyone’s particular financial situation. Below are some pros and cons to help you decide.

If you’re willing to be locked into a multiyear commitment, the most significant pros are lower premiums, locked-in rates and saving time. They provide the insurance company certainty that there will be a commitment for a certain amount of time. Given the commitment, it provides the insurance company the opportunity to lower premiums. It provides you with the assurance that your rates won’t rise during that time period. A longer-term policy also saves you the time and hassle of yearly information gathering and renewals.

The most significant con is that the payments will be due even if your business experiences a decline in revenue or your industry as a whole experiences a downturn. If your business needs to leave the property, payments would still be due. Longer-term policies are great if you know things will be about the same for the next three years but may not a good fit if your situation is changing or fluctuating.

A number of factors go into deciding if a longer-term policy is right for your business. I’d be happy to go over them with you and help you make the decision that’s best for you. Call or email me today.

Your Guide to Understanding Cybersecurity Terms

As with any industry, accountants have their own jargon, but a general understanding about some of it is not beyond comprehension for the ordinary entrepreneur and can be quite useful as well as occasionally crucial to sound decision-making. One such area is summarized by the term “discounted cash flow.” This encompasses vital methods for identifying if a major business purchase makes sense.

Determine When the Benefit Arrives

A large amount of spending for your business could be for new equipment or a new product line or an expanded location. But it might simply entail soft costs for an advertising campaign or revamped website. The aim for any of these investments is increasing revenue. The problem is that you spend the money upfront and then wait for the cash to flow in later. Hence, the reference to “discounted cash flow” takes into consideration this time value of money. It recognizes that cash today is more valuable than the same amount of money in the future.

In fact, the expectation of receiving a certain amount of cash next year is more valuable than receiving that same quantity of cash in 10 years. The longer the length of time you expect before generating higher business revenue, the more you have to discount its value.

Present Value of Future Benefits

Identifying the present value of an amount in the future is the whole point of most discounted cash flow determinations. All the future cash flows are discounted by some specified rate. The selected rate, therefore, depends on the length of time before your large expenditure is expected to deliver results.

In the simplest case, you might use a rate you have to pay for borrowing the money to spend. For example, if you borrow money at a 5% interest rate for one year, you want to spend it on something that will generate revenue over the next year that is at least 5% more than the amount you’re spending. Most discounted cash flow calculations are, of course, more complicated than this. They typically require assistance from an accounting professional.

Calculating present value necessitates estimating the revenue expected from making a major purchase. This normally entails gradual revenue increases, which may continue for an extended period but escalate less over time. A discounted cash flow model to determine net present value applies the discount rate to each of the periods over which revenue rises.

Rate of Return

Not all discounted cash flow calculations are made using net present value. That’s because an expenditure can be quite profitable but still have a slightly negative net present value because it returns less than the discount rate.

To correct for this deficiency, accountants deploy another discounted cash flow technique known as the “internal rate of return.” This method identifies the rate that results in a net present value of zero. All the present values of future revenue will equal the money spent at the beginning. This tool is useful when the expenditure occurs over time along with the future incoming cash flow. The internal rate of return also tells you how much is an acceptable interest rate for borrowing the capital needed for a major purchase.

Does Your Business Depend on a Supply Chain?

Supply chains are a vital part of many businesses that operate. Whether its sourcing parts and materials or reselling goods made in other countries, supply chains make the world go around.

But what happens when that supply chain is interrupted by a natural disaster or other unforeseen event that throws your business into chaos? Pointing fingers, blaming suppliers or transporters, or even trying to make alternate arrangements can cost lost credibility, time, money, and, most importantly, clients. Companies need protection against broken links in their supply chains. The right insurance can’t stop the chain from breaking, but it can stop the business from falling apart if it does.

There are two main coverage options: contingent business interruption insurance and supply chain insurance.

A contingent business interruption insurance policy reimburses lost profits and extra expenses caused by the interruption of someone else’s business. If you rely on one supplier to get you your materials, depend on one manufacturer for most of your merchandise or purchase the bulk of your products from one business, this may be the way to go. The policy is limited, though, in that it only provides coverage if your supply chain is interrupted due to physical property damage at a supplier’s business.

Broader coverage is offered by supply chain insurance. It too covers supply chain disruptions caused by property damage to your supplier’s business, but it can also cover road closures, political upheaval, regulatory action, financial issues, public health emergencies, natural disasters, industrial accidents, riots and labor issues.

If you have any confusion about these policies, please call or email us today. We will look at your options and guide you to the best policy for you based on the supply chain that serves you. We’re always here to help and make sure you have the coverage that’s right for you.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Landscaping Mishaps?

It was a bright, sunny, peaceful day. The birds were chirping and minding their own business when Tim, the neighbor’s son and a nervous new driver, drove smack-dab through the middle of your front lawn during his driving lesson. Is this unfortunate mishap covered by homeowners insurance?

Generally, yes, a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover another person’s vehicle driving into your landscaping. However, you shouldn’t expect your entire landscaping costs to be reimbursed by your insurance company. Usually, you will first have to meet your deductible. You probably can’t expect the full amount of damage to be paid to you. Additionally, there are sometimes limits on how much an insurance policy will pay per tree or shrub or limits are placed on recovery from landscaping as a percentage of the total protection on your dwelling.

While your homeowners insurance policy is good protection against any sort of freak accident that happens to your landscaping (such as a car plowing into it, fire, lightning or vandals), your policy likely won’t cover more predictable happenings such as typically heavy winds or hail common to your area. Damage caused by weather and pests often isn’t covered by homeowners insurance.

If you’re truly invested in your landscaping, you might want to consider expanding your coverage for peace of mind. Call or email us, and we can review what protection you’re currently offering your plants and, if you’d like more, pair you with the coverage that is the best fit for you. We are always here to help.

I Can See Clearly Now: Choosing a Top Cataract Surgeon

Cataracts are an opaque or cloudy loss of lens transparency in the eyes that we likely will experience as we age. However, cataracts can begin to form as early as age 40. If cataracts begin to affect our night vision while driving or otherwise impair our ability to see, then it’s probably time to consider cataract surgery.

How to Choose the Right Surgeon

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing the right ophthalmologist.

1. Ask your friends. If you live in a retirement community, many of your friends will have undergone cataract surgery. Ask them what provider they used, and then ensure that your insurance covers that physician. If you’re on Medicare, see if your chosen provider accepts Medicare assignment.

2. Ask your optometrist. Optometrists can diagnose and treat eye conditions, but ophthalmologists are the medical professionals that perform cataract surgery. Ask your optometrist to suggest an ophthalmologist, and then choose one that is board certified with a successful surgical track record.

3. Once you have a few names, read their Google reviews. Healthgrades is another review site for doctors. While reviews of doctors can be inconsistent, you’ll still find opinions about how well the office functions.

Ready, Set, Choose

Once you have the names of several eye surgeons with histories of successful cataract surgeries, how do you choose? Call their offices and ask if they offer free consultations. Do they promptly answer the phone? This is one key indicator of how their office treats patients, both before and after surgery.

Definitions in Disability Policies Are Critical – Don’t Shop Alone

One in four American workers aged 20 will become disabled before reaching age 67, according to the Social Security Administration in 2020. Over half of the US workforce (in fact, 67 percent of private-sector employees today) have no long-term disability coverage. This leaves most Americans in a challenging situation if they can no longer work. A short- or long-term disability policy can help prevent financial catastrophe.

Definitions Matter

Definitions in any insurance policy govern how coverage applies. Most disability policies define disability in one of two ways. “Own occupation” and “any occupation” definitions are important distinctions that can help you choose the policy that best fits your circumstances.

“Own occupation” means the policyholder can no longer perform the essential functions of the occupation. So, if you’re a plumber, you can no longer perform the tasks needed to install a water heater, for example.

“Any occupation” means the policy will provide disability benefits only if the policyholder cannot perform any occupation the policyholder could perform by virtue of experience, training, or education. For example, if you’re a surgeon with an any occupation policy, you could find yourself working in another role in a medical facility if you could no longer practice as a surgeon.

Don’t Buy Online-Call for Help

Most of us are comfortable shopping online. That’s great when you’re buying shoes, but it can be a critical mistake when you’re considering something as important as disability insurance. You may want to complete online research to better understand the differences in disability policies and then with us so we can guide you in making the best choice for your budget and your professional demands.

As we age, disability can happen in unexpected ways. New threats, like the recent pandemic, present us with new disability management challenges. Call us today and we will help you navigate your disability coverage options.

Life Insurance Is Affordable, Regardless of Life Stage

Are you avoiding purchasing life insurance because you think it is too expensive? If so, you are not alone. Many people do not think they can afford life insurance, and thus don’t have as much as they need.

According to a study by LIMRA, 59% of US households do not have life insurance, and even those households with life insurance only have enough to replace three years of income. The average life policy need is about $459,000, but the average policy owned is $126,000, according to AccuQuote. That is underinsurance of roughly $300,000.

Although it depends on your individual circumstances, three years of coverage is likely not enough life insurance. That is because life insurance is designed to provide for loved ones who rely on your income. If you pass away, they may not be able to get back on their feet after just three years.

How do you determine how much life insurance you need? You may want to discuss life insurance with your loved ones to determine what their needs are. This may be an uncomfortable conversation because no one likes to imagine his or her own death. But if someone relies on your income, it is important to ensure that he or she will be cared for if something happens to you.

Plus, getting the life insurance coverage you need may be less expensive than you think. There are different types of life insurance, some more affordable than others. Term life insurance, which pays a benefit to your survivors when you die within a specified period of time, is usually the most affordable type. Whole life insurance, which combines investing with term life insurance, is more expensive.

We can help you decide how much life insurance you need; please reach out to us today.

4 Steps to Reduce the Threat of a Lawsuit

A lawsuit can bring your business to its knees and stop your business as you know it. Years of hard work, sacrifice and diligence can be wiped away with one adverse judgment stemming from only one incident. Even under the best circumstances, a lawsuit can be costly and distract you from growing your business. Businesses need to work to protect themselves from the threat of lawsuits, and there are a few steps you can take to reduce the threat of a lawsuit that will negatively impact your business.

Get the right insurance. There are so many ways that a business can be severely and negatively impacted by a lawsuit. From millions in losses to long-term reputational damage, there are few areas of a business that a lawsuit does not touch. The first step for any business is to obtain a general liability insurance policy that will cover most claims around your business, such as the classic case of slip and fall or accusations of false advertising. However, for some businesses, that may not be enough, and specialized policies covering other potential areas of liability unique to their business types should be considered.

Make sure your business is structured the right way. Reducing personal liability is an important factor every business owner should think of when structuring a business. Incorporating in the right way, whether it be as an LLC, a corporation or other entity is vital. Work with an accountant to ensure that you create the right business structure.

Act deliberately toward both employees and customers. Nothing gets a business owner into trouble faster than misstating something or acting inappropriately. From promising too much, such as “the most efficient computer” when that’s not the case, to using outdated terminology to address consumers, there are many ways businesses can quickly go off the rails. Similarly, not providing for employees’ adequate care under federal and state law or acting in a discriminatory manner can quickly land you and your business in hot water. Ensure you have policies and procedures stated clearly in an employee handbook. In the handbook, lay out the processes and steps for handling difficult situations.

Have a legal team in place. One of the most effective strategies for quickly responding to the threat of an impending lawsuit (or one you’ve already been served with) is to have a legal team you can turn to. Call on this team as you build and grow your business to guide you on how to prevent matters from leading to legal trouble. Your team will know the ins and outs of your internal procedures in addition to the business structure you have established and can help you make the best decisions for your business.

No matter what your liability and coverage questions are, we are here to help. We can review the best options for you and determine the amount of general liability insurance coverage and other insurance coverage that you may need to ensure your business is protected and prepared. Call or email us today.

Green Insurance Options and Endorsements for Your Business

Going green has proven to be not just environmentally friendly but profitable for some businesses as well. Given the lower cost of energy, some applicable tax credits and even some lower operating costs, going green is the right move for many businesses. If you have a green business or you’re considering going green, there are additional green insurance options and endorsements available. Let’s take a look.

Traditional commercial property insurance will often replace the original construction and contents of a building, subject to policy limits. This, however, will not account for green improvements except in the newest buildings, which may have green elements incorporated into their original designs. Many policies will require what are called green endorsements on the policies to cover the cost of making any replacements environmentally friendly.

These green endorsements cover two primary issues regarding the property. The first is green materials and equipment that may be needed, such as solar panels, wall and floor materials, and other equipment. In some cases, even if the property was not originally a green property, the green endorsement may allow you to rebuild with better green materials or equipment. Another portion of the green endorsement covers green design, engineering and other design elements that may have specialized costs.

Going green may also be able to save your business insurance costs through a lower carbon footprint or other cost savings. If you have a green business or you want to go green, call or email us today, and we can look at your options. We are ready to answer any questions you may have so you can get the right coverage.

5 Common Myths about Lightning Safety

Lightning is not a force to be trifled with. You may be surprised to discover that much of what we think about lightning isn’t true. Below are five common myths about lightning along with the facts to keep you safer.

Myth 1: Without rain clouds, lightning can’t exist. Lightning can strike miles away from visible rain clouds. Although not as frequent, lightning bolts have been recorded to strike as far as 10 miles outside the area of their clouds of origin.

Myth 2: During a thunderstorm, sheltering under a tree is safer than no shelter at all. Trees, especially large ones, are often magnets for lightning, making this course of action more dangerous than no shelter at all. The safest thing during a lightning storm is to go home or duck into a shop or restaurant.

Myth 3: Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. This myth might encourage someone to return to where lightning struck so they will not be hit by lightning. The Empire State Building is often hit multiple times by a single lightning storm.

Myth 4: Lie flat on the ground during a lightning storm to avoid being hit by lightning or electrocuted. Lightning can generate currents in all directions. Lying flat on the ground provides more potential points to be hit by electrical currents if lightning strikes the ground.

Myth 5: Lightning will only strike the tallest buildings and objects. Lightning can strike anywhere and injure anyone. The safest thing to do when lightning begins to strike is to seek shelter in a home or building and avoid any outside-leading conducting paths, such as wires, metal window frames and electrical appliances.

Standard homeowners insurance and the comprehensive portion of your auto policy covers property damage from lightning (for example, fires). But if you have any questions about this, please give us a call. We are always here to help make sure your home and family are protected and safe.

What Is the Difference Between Replacement Cost and Market Value?

Moving into a new home you purchased or rented is exciting, but with that excitement comes decisions on homeowners and renters insurance. One crucial decision when signing up for that insurance policy is whether you will select replacement cost of lost or damaged items or market value. In the case of homeowners insurance, this can apply to the structure as well. While some may think that replacement cost and market value are similar, these two terms are actually very different and can result in different obligations for you should the worst happen.

Replacement cost: this term refers to the cost of replacing the item itself. For example, if your home is destroyed by a hurricane and is uninhabitable, your policy will replace the structure and contents of the home subject to policy limits. Although this provides the maximum benefit to the policyholder, it may not be right for everyone, given the probability that the payments on the policy will be higher.

Market value: this term refers to what the value on the open market would be to replace the home and/or its contents. For example, if you bought your home for $300,000, but market conditions have deteriorated and it is worth only $250,000, your policy would only cover the lesser current value subject to policy limits. That means you would have to either make up the difference yourself or build a less expensive home.

No matter what policy questions you have, we are here to help. Call or email us today, and we can guide you through the best options for you.

Open Enrollment – Contact Us Now about ACA Coverage

Like last year, you will have only 45 days to make changes to your Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) plan for 2021. Open enrollment, the time the ACA law allows you to change plans or enroll in a new plan, begins November 1, 2020 and ends December 15, 2020. While some states may offer longer enrollment periods, schedule time now with us to discuss your current plan or make changes if you want to make changes to your current plan.

Even if you like your plan, we can help you complete a speedy cost-benefit analysis of changing plans. You may have been in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan and found it too restrictive. We can quote the cost to switch to an Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plan, where you won’t need a referral to visit a specialist. Knowing the cost differences between an HMO and an EPO can help you determine if you can afford to switch.

If you are currently on an ACA plan, you may know the ACA plans are categorized by their names. If you buy a Bronze plan, you will pay less monthly but more out of pocket. A Bronze plan may make sense if you are in great health, but a Platinum plan, with the most expensive monthly premium, means you’ll pay much less out of pocket if you have ongoing medical expenses or expect a major surgery.

Because we are extremely busy as open enrollment nears, call us today to reserve your appointment.

Experts Predict Severe Flu Season, Strongly Recommend Flu Shots

Each year, the doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) look ahead to forecast the severity of the looming flu season. This year, however, the CDC has not provided an update pending COVID-19 progression. The World Health Organization (WHO), in late February every year, however, recommends the level of flu vaccine for the United States and the Northern Hemisphere. Because it takes about six months to produce enough vaccine for the season, timing is critical.

One manufacturer announced it would increase its flu vaccine production by eight percent for the U.S. and the Northern Hemisphere.

Of diseases for which we currently have vaccines, the flu causes the most deaths. Flu season begins in October but can continue as late as March. It is important that Americans avoid the flu as much as possible, according to many doctors. With coronavirus infections still peaking in many states, it’s best to avoid emergency room visits and hospitalizations whenever possible.

During the 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC reported 39 million flu incidents and 24,000 flu deaths. We cannot afford to ignore flu vaccines this year. Last year, almost 50 percent of the U.S. population received a flu vaccine. The national goal was 70 percent.

Where Can I Get My Flu Shot?

Because flu strains differ from year to year, manufacturers update flu vaccines each year to best protect the public. Flu vaccines should become available at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy by early October. However, many medical providers will book your flu vaccine appointment early. If you are elderly, have a preexisting medical condition, or are concerned about how the 2020 flu strain will impact you, call your doctor to see if you can book your flu shot now, before supplies arrive or run low.