What Is Not Covered by a Business Owners Policy?

You may believe a standard insurance policy will cover any eventuality that occurs in your business. For many issues, such as dwelling, liability, and business interruption issues, you are likely right. However, there are a myriad of other circumstances under which a standard business owners policy does not provide coverage. Below are a few examples of incidences for which a business owner might seek additional coverage.

Car accidents: If employees are driving on the job, a business owner might wish to obtain a separate auto insurance policy to ensure that every vehicular eventuality is covered.

Professional liability: For professions such as medicine, law, and other professional services that can be subject to malpractice suits, separate malpractice insurance is often a must for business owners. This specialized coverage is often essential to the survival of many professional services businesses.

Workers’ compensation: Any business can have an on-the-job accident, and workers’ compensation is the employee’s remedy for lost wages and medical bills. Businesses should consider ensuring they are covered beyond legal minimums so their out-of-pocket deductibles are not debilitating to business operations.

Health and disability: Business health and disability insurance must usually be negotiated separately and is based on a variety of factors.

Given the rise of specialized businesses, it may be folly for a business owner to assume a standard policy will do. Contact us today to help you determine the risks to your business and pick the right insurance policy for you.

Protect Yourself from Auto Insurance Fraud

Eighty billion dollars. That’s how much insurance fraud costs American consumers each year, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. This amount of money could buy new vehicles for 2.4 million people (which would cover every driver in Oklahoma.)

This alarming cost takes many forms. It might involve staging an accident to make false injury claims. Or it might include inflating damages to get a higher insurance payout.

Whatever scam is involved, the cost of the fraud ultimately gets passed along to consumers as they are forced to cover false claims, investigations, legal activities, and (potentially) higher insurance premiums.

To protect yourself from these costs, take the following precautions against insurance fraud.

Drive defensively: Never tailgate. Other drivers may take advantage of the situation to stage an accident.

Report accidents: Even if the damage is minor, always report any auto accident to the police. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report. This will provide proof if the other driver tries to make false claims down the line.

Document everything: Take pictures of the vehicles involved in an accident. These images will document what damage (or lack of damage) is present to prevent false claims or exaggerations. Additionally, record the details of the incident. This should include license plate numbers, contact info and driver’s license numbers of all drivers, and contact info for any witnesses.

Avoid scammers: If anyone appears at the scene of an accident and attempts to guide you to an attorney or a specific doctor, turn them away. This is a red flag that they are attempting insurance fraud. The same is true for doctors who insist that you file an injury claim even if you’re not hurt. If this is the case, you may need to find a new doctor.

Consult quickly: Regardless of fault, report auto accidents to your insurance company as soon as possible. We’re here to help you navigate any claims and protect you from insurance fraud.

Weather Forecast: High Chance of Auto Claims

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

While it’s not the official motto, this inscription found on the James Farley Post Office in New York City is often referenced as the slogan for the US Postal Service.

But how do those drivers manage to keep their trucks on the road and safely deliver all the mail? They most likely follow some of these best practices for navigating roads in inclement weather.

During heavy rain, don’t try to drive on a flooded road. Just six inches of water can cause you to lose control, and it can stall most cars. Keep in mind that it’s hard to tell the depth of the water, and the road below it may be washed out. If your vehicle starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, keep the wheel straight, and brake softly if necessary.

Hail is another element that can cause havoc on the road. If you encounter hail, don’t try to plow through it. As soon as it is safe to do so, pull over to the shoulder of the road.

Better yet, attempt to find shelter to minimize the damage to your vehicle commonly associated with hail. As you stop, allow plenty of room for braking.

When the roads are covered in snow, the best thing you can do is slow down. Drive slowly, accelerate and decelerate slowly, and put more distance than usual between your car and other vehicles.

Of course, if you’re not on the Post Office payroll, you might have the option to simply stay home during inclement weather, which is highly recommended.

Three Tips for Buying Life Insurance

Life insurance isn’t usually in our daily thoughts, but it can be one of the most important financial choices you make, so thinking about it sooner rather than later is critical. Here are three tips that will help you as you think about which type of life insurance is right for you.

Understand your reasons for purchasing life insurance. When purchasing life insurance, most people think about their financial responsibilities, such as covering their mortgages and other debts. But, likely, you are purchasing life insurance for those you will be leaving behind, such as your spouse and children. What do they need to obtain financial stability when you are gone? For example, do they need the payout to cover your salary for several years or simply help with funeral expenses?

Determine the amount of life insurance you need. Investors are more likely to buy too little than too much life insurance. In fact, among those with life insurance, 20% admit they do not have enough, according to LIMRA’s 2018 Insurance Barometer Study. Sometimes this occurs because they purchase life insurance using an automated process (for example, one that says simply to buy X times your salary in life insurance). To avoid this mistake, we recommend you understand your life insurance needs and work with an experienced professional to fulfill them.

Buy the right kind of life insurance policy. There are many types of life insurance products on the market with varying features. These differences can have a significant effect on your beneficiary should you pass away. At a minimum, understand the difference between term life insurance policies (which cover a specific period) and whole life insurance policies (which cover your entire life), but there are many other nuances to life insurance as well.

Purchasing life insurance can feel overwhelming, so when you decide to buy a policy, it is always advisable to work with someone who understands your unique needs and can guide you through the selection process.

Please feel free to contact me for assistance. I’m here to help.

It’s Not Too Late to Get That Flu Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends flu vaccination early in the flu season. Still, it also suggests vaccination later in the season as well. So if you haven’t yet had your flu vaccine, it’s a good idea to get one.

While flu season peaks between December and February, influenza viruses can strike as late as May. According to the CDC, respiratory issues and flu viruses peak in December, January, February, and March. And while we expect flu viruses to taper off in spring, early 2019 saw flu viruses continuing later into the year, according to WebMD.

The flu can lead to serious health problems, especially in children and elderly people. For those with chronic medical conditions (for example, chronic pulmonary disease), the flu can be deadly.

The CDC has reported between 36,400 and 61,200 flu-related deaths from October 1, 2018, through May 4, 2019.

Older patients are especially vulnerable if they have conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes. Because patients with chronic conditions may not be able to cough as readily as non-compromised patients, they are less able to clear their airways, which can lead to secondary infections such as pneumonia. And as we age, our ability to generate an immune response weakens.

We simply don’t respond as well to infections. This can make a “simple flu” a severe life-threatening condition in some cases.

If you decide to get a flu shot and your doctor is out of vaccines, call your local pharmacy or health department to see which facilities still have some available. This simple preventive measure just might save your life.

Should I Consider Dental Coverage?

Proper dental care is a vital part of staying healthy. MedicareAdvantage.com  reports that poor dental care can lead to severe health conditions, including heart and respiratory disease, strokes, diabetes, and cancer.

Due to these concerns, you may want to consider dental coverage as part of your Medicare options. Medicare Advantage Plans (plans offered by private healthcare companies) provide Part A and Part B Medicare benefits, and some plans now cover many dental health procedures.

A plan that includes dental coverage usually covers standard procedures, such as oral exams, x-rays, cleanings, extractions, and fillings. Some policies also cover crowns, bridges, implants, dentures, and gum disease treatment. However, some plans limit coverage in specific ways, such as the number of cleanings, extractions, or x-rays included per year.

To find the best plans, seniors should look for those that address dental conditions seniors often encounter, such as dry mouth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), physicians prescribe more than 500 medications that cause dry mouth in seniors who have conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The ADA describes dry mouth as a frequent cause of cavities in older adults. The ADA also reports that gum disease and mouth cancer often occur in seniors.

The cost of dental care is another reason to purchase a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes dental coverage. The average annual cost across the US for an individual dental insurance policy is between $348 and $546. Paying for dental care out of pocket is prohibitive for most seniors, who need two annual checkups (which include exams, x-rays, and cleanings) and cost an average of $576 per year for both exams.

The average premium for a Medicare Advantage Plan that covers dental is about $420 per year. That plan also may cover prescriptions and eye care.

If you’re approaching enrollment age for Medicare, be sure to contact us for more information on finding the best plan for your medical and dental needs.

New Employee Orientation Checklist

Dave is new to the team. He’ll start working with your company in a couple of weeks. You’re excited about what he has to offer, and you’re looking forward to welcoming him to the business.

But how exactly should you do this? What’s the best way to integrate Dave and allow him to help your business succeed?

For the best results, follow a three-step new employee orientation checklist.

1. Prep

Make room for Dave: The specifics for this will vary depending on the type of product or service you offer. It might mean clearing a desk space for Dave. It might mean creating an inbox for him. Maybe it means ordering Dave a company uniform. Whatever Dave will need to work as one of your employees, get those items ready.

Send emails: Send Dave an email that welcomes him to the business and provides any information he will need for his first day on the job. This could include where to report, who to ask for when he arrives, and any documentation he may need to bring as a new hire. Send a second email to the rest of the team to let them know Dave is joining your company.

Gather documents: Prepare handouts that outline any important information Dave will need on his first day. These could include company policies, an organizational chart for the company, or a to-do list for his first week.

2. Onboarding

Orientation: On Dave’s first day, orient him to the company. (Introduce him to other team members, give him a tour of your facility, etc.)

Policy review: The key to this orientation is a review of safety policies, accident reports, and security access. To prevent future incidents, injuries, and insurance claims, it is essential to ensure Dave understands the proper procedures in each of these areas. If Dave is accessing sensitive information, be sure to establish protocols for how this will happen and what you expect of Dave regarding this access.

Documentation: Ask Dave to sign any necessary disclosures or liability forms based on the type of work he will be doing for you. He should also sign a form stating he has received and reviewed all your company procedures.

3. Follow-up

One-week check-in: Check-in with Dave after a week to make sure he has completed any paperwork, benefits enrollment, or new hire training that should be completed in the first few days of employment.

Two-week meeting: Schedule a time to meet with Dave two weeks after he starts. Ask him how things are going and take time to answer any questions Dave has.

Three-month review: After 90 days, provide an informal review of Dave’s performance. Let Dave know about this meeting in advance, including what he can expect at the meeting.

Following these steps will help you establish a smooth process for onboarding new team members. By keeping everyone on the same page with company policies, you can also minimize your risk for costly insurance claims.

If you have any questions about what policies to review with your team, feel free to contact me. I’m just a phone call or email away.

Watch Out for These Top 5 Small Business Blunders

Blockbuster passed up the chance to partner with Netflix 20 years ago. Kodak held a patent for a digital camera way back in 1977 but didn’t make it public.

Where might these businesses be today if they had made different decisions? Where might your company be in 20 years if you make smart choices?

To guide your enterprise in the right direction, avoid the following blunders commonly made by small business owners.

Overreaching: Small business owners can’t be everything to everyone. Find your target market and create a solid marketing plan to reach that audience.

Insufficient coverage: Small business owners often don’t have the capital to cover disaster expenses. A fire or lawsuit can cripple the company. It’s essential to establish sufficient insurance coverage. Contact me to review your business needs and put the proper policies in place.

Underpricing: Cheaper prices don’t always lead to success. While your goal might be to attract more customers, setting your prices too low may fail to meet your expenses. Stay competitive, but set rates that will keep you in business.

Lack of guidance: Entrepreneurs need support to get their businesses off the ground. You might be an expert in your product or service, but you might need help with certain best business practices. Reach out to mentors and experts for the guidance you need for success.

Giving up: As a start-up, you might not make money in your first year. That’s okay. Even FedEx, established in 1971, didn’t turn a profit until 1975. If you don’t see profit right away, don’t give up.

How the Goldilocks Method Works

How big is your enterprise? Whether you’re running a small, medium, or a large business, you need insurance coverage that’s “just right.”

But as your business grows, it might be difficult to determine where you fall on that spectrum and exactly what your insurance needs are. Here’s a simple guide that will help with this process.

Small Businesses

If you run your operations with fewer than 50 employees, you have a small business. Typically, companies that employ fewer than 100 employees fall within this group. However, the Small Business Administration includes any business with fewer than 500 employees in this category. According to the Chamber of Commerce, these modest enterprises make up 99.9% of businesses in the United States.

If you find yourself among the more than 30 million small businesses in the nation, your typical insurance needs can be covered by a Business Owner Policy or BOP. This package policy covers standard liability and property insurance risks. If you offer unique services or products you suspect might not be covered by this basic policy, we can explore additional options for your company.

Medium-Sized Businesses

The waters that separate small and medium-sized businesses are a bit muddy, but generally, any company that employs between 100 and 500 staff and generates between $10 million and $1 billion annually is considered a medium-sized business. (If you employ between 101 and 499 employees, you’re likely to be lumped into the general category of SMEs, which are small and medium-sized enterprises.)

The important aspect to focus on is that higher employee and revenue numbers mean you’ll need additional insurance coverage. If you’ve grown beyond your initial startup phase, it’s time to reevaluate your insurance needs.

Policies specifically designed for medium-sized businesses are available that combine liability and property coverage. It’s also important to note that you may need specialized policies if you have expensive equipment or locations in multiple states.

Large Businesses

Businesses that employ more than 500 people are considered large. At this level, the company is exposed to various multimillion-dollar risks. Commercial insurance policies for these businesses must be designed to mitigate those risks. With more moving pieces, the business needs more types of insurance coverage and higher policy limits. Common policies include commercial vehicle insurance, professional liability, workers’ compensation, product liability, and business interruption insurance.

Home-Based Businesses

Entrepreneurs who are just starting out have insurance needs too. Even if you’re still operating from a card table in the garage, you may have liabilities that require coverage.

Homeowner’s policies don’t always cover these needs. If you’re in this situation, we should review the size and scope of your business to determine if you should set up a separate commercial insurance policy.

Still not sure which category fits? If you have special services or circumstances, you might not fit neatly into any of these classifications. Feel free to contact me to review your options. We can work together to ensure your business has the protection it needs, whatever its size.

Are Your Business Liabilities Covered for 2020?

Liability insurance is a fundamental need for small businesses. It provides coverage in the event your business must pay damages due to legal claims made against it.

However, the type of liability insurance a business should carry varies from company to company. To determine what specific liabilities you have, ask yourself four key questions: Is my industry high-risk? Do I sell products? Do I offer services? Do I have employees?

The answers to these questions will help you decide which of the following types of liability insurance you need.

1. General liability: This is the basic coverage any small business should have. It covers libel and slander claims, physical damage to others’ property, and injuries to others.

2. Professional liability: Also referred to as errors and omissions insurance, this covers professionals who offer consulting or advice-type services. If a client is unhappy with the results of your services and decides to sue, this insurance covers your legal fees.

3. Product and completed operations liability: This insurance covers damage caused by your products or work completed off-site and not on the company premises.

4. Employment practices liability: If you are sued by an employee for unfair practices, sexual harassment, or discrimination, this insurance will cover the costs involved.

5. Commercial excess liability: This policy insures your other policies. It offers coverage in the event a claim exceeds the limits of other coverage.

Not sure if your current policies cover all your liabilities? Give me a call to discuss your options, and we’ll make sure all your bases are covered.

What Auto Insurance Do I Need in 2020?

Liability. Collision. Comprehensive. What exactly do these insurance buzz words mean, and which coverage do you actually need? The right type and amount of coverage vary by individual. To determine your personal needs, first familiarize yourself with the options available.

Liability

This protects you in the event you are held responsible for bodily injury or property damage to another party.

This coverage is required by law, but the minimum amount required varies. A good rule of thumb is to carry a bodily injury liability policy with a minimum of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident plus enough property damage liability coverage to cover the cost of a new car. Considering the cost of medical bills and potential lawsuits today, it’s often recommended that you bump up your limits to $250,000/$500,000.

Collision

This type of insurance is not required by law, but it covers the cost of damage to your car after an accident.

If you have a new and/or valuable car, collision is typically worth the investment to protect your asset. However, as a car ages and drops in value, you may want to consider whether collision coverage is necessary. For example, if your car is worth $1,000 and you have a $500 deductible, it might make sense to invest your insurance dollars elsewhere.

Comprehensive

This coverage protects you from various damages that aren’t included under collision. Common comprehensive claims include fire and theft. If you lease a car, this coverage may be required. Otherwise, you can decide whether you’d like this extra protection and what deductible you prefer. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

Many vehicle owners choose to add this coverage. It’s often only a few extra dollars, but it provides peace of mind that virtually any type of damage to the car is covered. Is it time to make adjustments to your auto coverage? Feel free to contact me with any questions about your current and future insurance needs.

Does Your Hobby Need Insurance Coverage?

Gary and Nancy Doss of Burlingame, CA have been collecting Pez dispensers for two decades. They now have more than 500 of the small candy containers. The rarest product, a “Make a Face” Pez from the 1970s, is worth $5,000.

Do you have a hobby that has grown larger than you may have anticipated? You don’t have to be as dedicated as the Dosses to find yourself heavily invested in a hobby. A model locomotive could be valued at $300. One guitar can easily cost $1,500.

Whether you collect, build, or play, funding for hobbies can quickly add up to significant amounts. If you think you’ve invested quite a bit in your hobby, do a quick review.

Consider the value of your items and supplies. Is it more than $500? If you have invested more than $500 so far, you should make sure it is properly protected.

Review your insurance policies to make sure the items are covered under your homeowners or renters policy in the event they are damaged or stolen.

Keep in mind there are certain limits to most policies, and high-value items might max out the coverage. You may need to purchase a rider to add a particularly valuable piece of equipment to your insurance coverage.

If your hobby investment is less than $500, you should still make sure any high-priced items are included in your home inventory.

January is the perfect time to update this list. Be sure to add any recent holiday gifts to the inventory!

If you have any questions about your insurance coverage or needs, feel free to contact me. I’m just an email or phone call away.

How Millennials Are Changing the World of Healthcare

Our younger generation of health consumers is reshaping the face of healthcare. Of Millennials (ages 23 to 38), 93 percent don’t routinely seek preventative health visits, instead relying on retail health clinics. Further, Millennials’ heavy reliance on technology is compelling traditional hospitals and health systems to change how they offer and deliver care.

Kaiser Family Foundation statistics indicate Millennials represent a move toward self-diagnosis and on-demand healthcare over more careful scheduling with a physician. Younger medical consumers want convenience, online availability to discuss care with providers via email, fast service, and transparency in pricing, according to Kaiser Health News.

Millennials choose technology innovations such as online symptom checkers that match symptoms with health problems. They seek health portals to communicate with providers, prefer online appointment scheduling, and want the availability of 24/7 telemedicine over traditional doctor visits. Before visiting doctors, Millennials often seek reviews of clinics, hospitals, and physicians as well as blogs and online newsletters, where they find and examine healthcare information. They often arrive at appointments with research notes and questions in hand.

Holistic healthcare, preferred by many Millennials, does not separate the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual when addressing health needs. In fact, Forbes reports 71 percent of Millennials believe mental and physical health are both part of being healthy. Adding Eastern medicine to the West’s approach, holistic techniques include massage, aromatherapy, meditation, and acupuncture.

Examples of healthcare facilities responding to Millennial demands include the Cleveland Clinic, where, in one year, about one million clients made same-day appointments, many by email. Another healthcare network in Nevada, Renown Health, instituted a telemedicine program they call telehealth. Telehealth lets clients talk with health professionals using their computers or smartphones.

Which model do you prefer? Whether you choose traditional methods or the new wave of care, contact us to help you find the best plan for your preferences.

The Life Stages of Life Insurance

How do you decide if you need to buy life insurance based on where you are in life? It’s simple: you remember the purpose of life insurance is to protect the people who depend on you financially.

That’s why children typically do not have life insurance purchased on their behalf. No one depends on income from them. The situation is similar for young single adults: if you’re newly independent, the only reason you would typically need life insurance is to pay for your own funeral costs or help support an elderly parent.

The situation begins to change as we grow up and get married. If you’re newly married, you’ll need to decide if either spouse needs life insurance. If each of you earns an income that could support one spouse without the other, then life insurance would only be necessary if you want to cover your funeral costs.

What about established families with dependents? Once you have a family that depends on you (whether a spouse or children), you need life insurance. And it’s unwise to purchase life insurance only on behalf of the partner working outside the home because the cost of replacing someone to handle domestic chores and childcare can cause significant financial problems.

Finally, do you need life insurance when your children have flown the coop? If you do not have people depending on your income for support and you can cover funeral expenses, you may be able to avoid life insurance at this stage in life.

Note, however, that if you decide you need life insurance, purchasing it costs more as your age increases. Your rates will likely be cheaper now than when you get older.

If you need assistance making this decision, we would be happy to help you. Our insurance experts are ready to walk you through your options and determine which coverage makes the most sense for your life stage.

Aging Parents: How You Can Keep Them Safe

When aging parents begin to show signs of decline, you want to keep them safe. A little extra help may be all they need. But first, you must decide if the issue is mental or physical.

When you suspect mild cognitive impairment, simple fixes such as medical alerts or security cameras may be enough to keep them safe. In some cases, more is needed.

Occasional word loss is usually benign, and misplacing keys happens to everyone. But difficulty forming sentences, confusion, going out and getting lost, or forgetting to turn off the stove are signs you shouldn’t ignore, especially if the onset of symptoms was sudden.

A professional mental status assessment will tell you if a regular drop-in visitor is a sufficient solution or assisted living or constant care is required.

If mobility is impaired, it could be due to poor balance, loss of flexibility, or impaired ambulation. Bathroom grab bars and a bath seat may be sufficient. Walking sticks, a cane, or a walker may prevent falls. Help with dressing or simple dressing aids such as sock stretchers and elastic shoelaces are often helpful. Replacing buttons and zippers with Velcro may do the trick.

When you’re unsure, get professional help. Have an occupational therapist or Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) assess activities of daily living and address any safety and medical concerns.

Check with Medicaid for financial aid for long-term care. Speak with community care services, the Alzheimer’s Association (https://www.alz.org), seniors associations, local hospitals, and visiting nurse associations. These services can help you make the best choices to keep your parents safe.

Have You Reviewed Your Insurance Coverage for 2020?

As the new year approaches, we often look back at the year gone by, reflect on the coming year, and make resolutions for the future. Business owners should do the same. But this means more than setting revenue goals.

An important part of this review process should involve insurance coverage. The flipping of the calendar page is a good time to consider current coverage and determine if any changes are warranted to improve the protection of your business in the coming year. A thorough policy review covers three aspects: new exposures, business changes, and outdated coverage.

New Exposures

A company can change a lot in one year. Look over the last 12 months and consider any new exposures you may have added. Did you purchase new equipment or vehicles? Have you started manufacturing or selling new products? Changes in locations can also generate new exposures in the areas of liability and property damage.

Make sure your current insurance policies encompass any of these changes you have made. If you find any gaps, now is the perfect time to close them.

Business Growth

Beyond basic changes that could have added new exposure, consider any new needs your company may have as it grows. You may need to put policies in place that were not necessary in the past. For example, increased reliance on equipment operations may make equipment breakdown insurance necessary. If you’re storing large amounts of customer data, you may need protection against cybercrime. Increased property coverage may also be needed if you have expanded to multiple locations or increased your assets. Taking on employees may create the need for workers’ compensation coverage and employee theft coverage.

Avoid leaving your company exposed. As you grow, ensure you have the right policies and coverage limits in place to protect your operations.

Outdated Coverage

Adding coverage isn’t the only possible result of your annual insurance review. Consider what current coverage may be outdated. Did you reduce inventory? Have you sold any equipment? Make sure you aren’t carrying any policies you no longer need. It may also make sense to reduce some coverage. For example, vehicles that have been around more than a decade may no longer require comprehensive coverage. You may also want to switch coverage on equipment to actual cash value. Another possible adjustment could be the amount of your deductibles.

It’s a good idea to review the value of your assets and compare these to your current financial situation. This will help you determine how much coverage you truly need.

Worth the Investment

Insurance Journal reports that 40 percent of small businesses will file a claim this decade. The most common claim for these enterprises is burglary and theft, which covers an average loss of $8,000. Other claims, such as customer injury, product liability, and reputational harm, average between $30,000 and $50,000.

For a small fraction of your overhead, insurance premiums can cover these potentially crippling costs. It’s well worth the investment of time and finances to review your coverage and put appropriate policies in place.

Contact my office to review your current coverage and ensure you have the right policies to protect your company in 2020.

Who Needs Pollution Liability Insurance, and Why?

Don’t assume that because you don’t handle hazardous waste you don’t need pollution liability insurance.

While this coverage may seem obvious for businesses that handle waste or asbestos, it could offer good protection for other companies as well.

Why? Pollution liability insurance covers claims against bodily injury or property damage that is caused by hazardous waste. The coverage includes claims related to materials released during your operations as well as after operations are completed.

This means that you will be protected if any problems arise after you have finished a job. It also covers you in case hazardous waste is not discovered during an inspection of a property before you purchase it. In this case, waste may be discovered in the future, for which you are held liable. The insurance will protect your financial interests in the event of a cleanup or claim.

Lastly, environmental laws are in constant flux, so a pollution liability policy can help provide coverage in case there are changes in regulations that leave you exposed to lawsuits.

Who needs coverage? These policies are required for many independent contractors. At times, contractors must show proof of this coverage before work on a project can commence. For other types of businesses, this coverage may be helpful to protect against potential future claims.

To determine if your enterprise could benefit from pollution liability insurance, contact my office. We can discuss your liability exposure and ensure the right policies are in place to protect the future of your business.

Grinch Protection: Wrap Up Your Home for the Holidays

Not every grinch becomes good and returns the stolen treasures. Outside of a Dr. Seuss tale, thieves will gladly carry away your holiday goodies in their sleigh and never look back.

Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to protect your home from the season’s sticky-fingered grinches. Use the following tips to keep your home safe and secure for the holidays.

Make things merry and bright: Lights can do more than decorate this season. Dark, vacant homes can be particularly tempting for thieves, especially during high-travel seasons like the holidays. Use proper lighting to deter thieves. Set timers for lights or install motion-sensing options.

Join Santa in his list-making: St. Nicholas isn’t the only one who should check his list twice this season. Have you created a home inventory of your personal property? Be sure this list includes any recent gift purchases. This inventory will be helpful if you need to file a claim after a burglary.

Don’t spoil the surprise: The kids aren’t the only ones anxious to see what appears under the tree. Wait until Christmas Eve to put out the presents. This prevents putting them on display for potential grinches.

Keep trips under wraps: If you’ll be away from home this season, don’t advertise your trip to the world. Announcing on social media that your house will be empty can draw the attention of the wrong kind of elf.

Check more than the chimney: While Santa may prefer a fireplace entry, thieves are more likely to look for easy-access windows and doors. Avoid leaving patio doors unlocked or propping open apartment-building doors. Keep doors and windows locked and check hardware regularly to verify it is secure.

Enjoy holiday peace: Even with the best precautions, a theft may still occur. But you can have peace of mind by investing in appropriate coverage for your home and possessions. Contact my office to discuss policies that can help you recover your cheer if mean old Mr. Grinch tries to steal it.

Happy New Year! It’s Time to Review Your Insurance Coverage

As the new year approaches, many people review their lives and make new goals for the future, to maybe eat better or exercise more, for example. This turning of the calendar page is also a good time to review your insurance coverage. An annual review allows you to update information and policies to ensure you are appropriately protected in the coming year.

To complete this process, take the following key steps.

Take inventory: Create a home inventory (or update your current one). Be sure to add any major gifts you receive this holiday season and remove anything you have donated, sold, or thrown away in 2019. In your inventory, include a description and the cost of items. Scan or photograph receipts to save with your list. Store everything online and/or off-site so you can access it in case of disaster.

Assess automotive needs: Consider the age and value of your vehicles. Is your coverage still appropriate? Have the primary drivers on any vehicles changed this year, or will they soon? Make sure deductibles, limits, and primary driver designations all make sense for your current needs.

Look for changes: Have you experienced any changes in the past year that might affect your insurance coverage? Renovations, births, purchases, and commute changes can all affect your insurance considerations.

Check for savings: Don’t miss out on any savings opportunities. Check for multiple policy discounts, changes in requirements, or new programs that may cut your insurance costs.

Contact our office for a quick review of your policies. I can help you evaluate your insurance needs to make sure you have the right coverage as you head into the new year.

Life Insurance Needs Change After Age 50

Life insurance is something people tend to buy and forget, so the policy continues, unnoticed, for years or even decades, depending on its length. But your life-insurance needs may change over time, especially as you near retirement. When you turn 50, it may be a good idea to reconsider your coverage.

How do you determine if you still need life insurance in your 50s? Ask yourself why you bought life insurance in the first place, then determine if those circumstances still exist.

For example, perhaps you bought life insurance in your 20s, 30s, or 40s to protect your children should you pass away unexpectedly. If that is the case, you only need your policy until your children are grown up and out in the world, supporting themselves on their own, and no longer in need of your financial assistance. In this case, you may want to stop your life-insurance policy when your youngest child reaches age 21.

Or perhaps you bought life insurance in your 20s, 30s, or 40s to protect a spouse who stays at home with the children, earns less than you do, or simply relies on your half of the household income, should you pass away unexpectedly. And perhaps by the time you reached your 50s, circumstances had changed: you saved enough to cover your spouse’s expenses, for example, or your spouse began working.

Of course, you may also gain reasons to have life insurance as you age. Perhaps you would like it to cover end-of-life expenses, provide “bonus” income to a child or spouse, or address complex estate-planning issues, for example.

Keep in mind that these are only general guidelines. We are all different, and you might want life insurance for other reasons. Feel free to reach out to me if you need guidance on establishing the appropriate coverage for your future needs.