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.

Are You Underinsured? Most Small Businesses Are

A recent Manta and Insureon survey revealed that fewer than 30% of small business owners have basic business insurance. Even fewer, just 6%, have business interruption insurance, and only a rare few (2%) have cyber insurance.

This lack of insurance can be a costly mistake. These policies are essential for the proper protection of a company in today’s marketplace. Here’s why.

Business owner’s policy: The basic coverage for a small business is a business owner’s policy (BOP). This typically provides general liability and commercial property coverage. The liability portion offers protection in case a customer is injured on your property or you cause damage to a customer’s property. Business and Industry Connection Magazine reports the average cost for a slip-and-fall injury is $20,000. An annual insurance premium is clearly the more affordable option.

Business interruption insurance: When disasters cause damage to a business, operations may be shut down for hours, days, or weeks. The resulting loss of income can be devastating to a company. How much revenue would you lose if you couldn’t open your doors for 10 days? Business interruption insurance replaces the income lost while your business is temporarily closed.

Cyber insurance: Modern businesses are typically dependent on online services in one form or another. This makes their business vulnerable to cybercrime. A study by Kaspersky found that the average cost of a cyber breach for a small business is $86,000. These costs can be avoided with an affordable cyber insurance policy.

Top 10 Safety Tips to Prevent Workplace Injuries

Employee injuries can prove costly on many levels. In addition to personal pain, the injury can lead to lost production and costly workers’ compensation claims. In some cases, an incident that could have been easily prevented results in major expenses for the company. To avoid these situations, use the following safety tips.

Make a plan: Every business should have a safety and wellness plan. This plan should cover procedures for accident prevention and how to handle workplace injuries. All employees should be thoroughly trained on these procedures. Make this training part of your onboarding process and provide regular reviews of safety measures for all staff.

Educate employees: In addition to familiarizing employees with your company plan, educate them on general safety measures. For example, basic training in safe lifting and moving practices can be helpful in many settings. Assess what training your employees may need or want and dedicate the resources to this important component of worker education.

Train employees: Beyond general safe practices, train employees on specific machinery operation. Never allow an employee to operate equipment without first completing proper training. Depending on the situation, this training may vary from a quick explanation to extensive certification training.

Research safety: Are you aware of the potential safety concerns for your setting? Study up on accidents that are common for your type of business and learn how to prevent them. A little research can go a long way in preventing workplace injuries.

Provide equipment: The right tools for the job can make all the difference in the world. Keep employees safe and prevent injury by ensuring they have the proper equipment to perform their tasks. This includes safety equipment. Proper use of gloves, goggles, hats, and other personal protection equipment should be required and monitored.

Staff appropriately: Overworked employees are more likely to suffer injury. Don’t try to accomplish too much with too few staff. Be realistic with your goals as you hire, schedule overtime, and assign employees to various tasks. If a job requires three people to do it safely, don’t try to do it with two. If a job could be dangerous if attempted while drowsy, don’t schedule it for the end of a double shift.

Complete inspections: If your employees use vehicles, equipment, or other machinery to complete their jobs, it’s essential that these are inspected regularly. Routine inspections and maintenance are crucial to the proper functioning of this equipment. The ongoing care of your equipment will prevent sudden malfunctions or breakdowns that can result in worker injury.

Stay organized: An orderly workplace is a safer workplace. Keep work areas free of debris. Arrange furniture and equipment to provide adequate walkways and workspaces. Store safety gear in an organized fashion and in an easily accessible location.

Post signage: Clearly mark potential hazards. Post signs that remind workers to use protective gear and indicate where this equipment can be found. Use signs to warn employees of common injuries and how to avoid them.

Seek input: Have you ever asked your employees about workplace safety? Be open to input from workers about their environment. Do they feel safe? Is there anything you could provide that would make their tasks safer to complete? Let employees know you value their feedback, and consider how you can implement their suggestions to further improve safety and reduce risk.

How Can You Prevent Costly Water Damage?

Water issues can lead to extensive structural damage. A minor leak can result in major claims for commercial building repairs. Fortunately, most leaks offer warning signs that building owners can watch for to prevent further damage. To protect your building from leaks, keep an eye out for these red flags:

Discoloration: Notice any unsightly stains on your walls? This can indicate a plumbing leak in the wall. Be on the lookout for stains that grow in size.

Mildew: No one wants to find mold in their building. If you do, this is an indication that moisture is an issue. Watch for growth on walls, ceilings, and baseboards. If you discover mold or mildew, locate the source of the moisture ASAP and make any necessary repairs.

Odor: Have you noticed a musty odor in your building? This odd aroma may indicate a leak. Sniff out the source of the odor and make repairs before the issue worsens.

Warps: Are any of your walls bent or curved? When walls absorb water, they warp. This misshape can be due to a leak behind the wall. If your walls aren’t smooth, look for possible leaks to prevent further damage.

Peeling: Whether wallpaper or paint, peeling can mean you have a leak. The moisture will cause the material to pull away from the wall.

If you discover any of these warning signs for leaks, take action to make leak repairs immediately. This proactive approach will help prevent damage and the need for costly repairs later on.

Colon Cancer: More Prevalent Than You Think

Colorectal cancer is on the rise in younger people, causing the American Cancer Society to lower its recommended screening age from 50 to 45 for those with “average risk.” Young and middle-aged Americans now have a much higher risk of colon cancer, and even higher risk for rectal cancer, than their older counterparts do. According to a recent American Cancer Society study, colon cancer has hit millennials particularly hard. Because millennials would not typically suspect colon cancer, they may miss early symptoms as simple as abdominal cramping.

An increasingly unhealthy lifestyle may be driving the increases, according to researchers. Lack of exercise, obesity, and low fiber consumption may increase the risk.

However, testing can catch colon cancer early. Anyone with a first-degree relative with colon cancer before the age of 60 should begin a more aggressive testing time line. Test at either age 40 or ten years before the age of your relative when he or she was diagnosed. Keep in mind that researchers have not identified a perfect age to test.

Whether your insurance pays for the test depends on several factors. If your health care plan is the Affordable Care Act or Medicare and you are over 50, a colonoscopy is covered as preventive care. Before scheduling your test, contact your insurer to determine whether they will pay for it. Shop around, because outpatient facilities usually charge less than hospitals for the same test.

If you’re unsure about a colonoscopy, the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a noninvasive test you use at home and send to a lab for results. Your primary care physician can provide more details. If your FIT test is abnormal, you will need a colonoscopy.

Inside Scoop on High-Deductible Plans and HSAs

The National Business Group on Health forecasts that providing employees with health care will average about $15,000 per employee in 2019.

A High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is one way employers seek to lower those costs. HDHPs offer employers lower premiums, but employees may pay more. You still save on out-of-pocket costs because your provider and your insurance company continue to negotiate those costs rather than charging market rates.

Whether your employer provides an HDHP or you obtain one on your own, your HDHP may qualify for a health savings account (HSA). The 2019 HDHP minimum deductible required to qualify for an HSA is $1,350 for individuals and $2,700 for families.

Why Open an HSA?

Combining an HSA with your HDHP provides more health care savings, some tax-related. You can deduct HSA contributions on federal income taxes and on many state taxes. Interest earnings are tax-free, and the funds you withdraw to pay for qualified health care also are tax-free.

You may use your HSA funds only for qualifying health care expenses. Qualifying health care generally includes expenses to prevent or cure disease, to relieve disease symptoms, and to treat the effects of disease.

HSA Limits

The 2019 HSA individual contribution limit increased from $3,400 to $3,500 for individuals and from $6,750 to $7,000 for families. The HDHP maximum annual deductible and other out-of-pocket expenses in 2019 is $6,750 for individuals and $13,500 for families.

Due to employers’ efforts to cut their health care spending and the nation’s reliance on high-deductible plans, HSAs make sense. Your account bears interest and, with certain limits, your funds roll over from one year to the next.

For more information, contact our office. We can help you decide whether an HDHP will work for you, and then verify whether it qualifies for an HSA. We are your resource for all things insurance, so let us know how we can help.

Why Buy a Term Life Insurance Policy?

Term life insurance (life insurance that is in effect for a limited period of time instead of your entire life) can sometimes be the right answer.

Before covering the why, let’s review how term life insurance works.

Let’s say you have a term life policy for $500,000 with a “term” of 15 years. If you were to die on the last day of the fourteenth year, your beneficiary would receive the policy amount of $500,000. If you were to die two days later, your beneficiary would receive nothing.

Why would anyone want a life insurance policy like that?

There are some good reasons. Two top the list: it covers your needs, and it’s affordable.

It Covers Your Needs

Sometimes, when you buy life insurance, you’re protecting your loved ones from the many unknowns that could negatively affect them if you die prematurely. The policy payout may replace your income, pay off the mortgage and the auto loan, and fund your children’s college education, for example.

Other times, you don’t have such generalized needs. If your spouse works, and your children are in high school, your spouse’s salary may cover the daily expenses if you die. You simply need to ensure that if you die within the next 10 years, there will be enough money to see your children through college.

In that case, a 10-year term life insurance policy might be all you need.

In other words, term life insurance is a simple solution for a specified risk.

It’s Affordable

The other reason people choose term life insurance is that it’s affordable.

Because the insurance company is taking on less risk, it can afford to offer you lower premiums. You get the most amount of coverage for the least amount of money up front. And there’s nothing wrong with choosing term insurance because it’s cost-effective. After all, why pay for more than you need?