How to Reduce Your Commercial Property Insurance Costs

Owning and operating a commercial property involves myriad expenses. If you’re like most property owners, you strive to keep these costs to a minimum. Some are more challenging to shave than others. Fortunately, when it comes to your insurance, you can take several steps to reduce your premium and boost your bottom line.

Determine your deductible: If you can safely manage a higher deductible, you can lower your premium. Work with your insurance provider to determine what deductible amount makes sense for your needs. Set this figure as high as possible to keep your premium low.

Decrease tenant coverage: Are you insuring your tenant’s possessions? You don’t have to. To reduce your premium, exclude tenants from your policy and require them to obtain their own coverage for their belongings.

Ditch the land: Find out if your policy covers your building only or both the land and the structure. Since you typically won’t need to insure the land, you may be able to cut costs by altering your policy so it covers only the building.

Dig for discounts: Have you looked into all the discounts that might be available to you? Continuous coverage and multiple policies with your carrier often come with discounts. Additionally, if your property has protective features, such as a sprinkler system, a security system, or updated utilities, you may be eligible for discounts.

Consult with your insurance agent to determine whether there are other ways you can reduce your costs. An annual review of your policy is good practice to ensure your coverage meets your current needs.

Prevent Workplace Harassment and Resulting Lawsuits

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.” Conduct of this nature becomes unlawful when it creates “a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.”

If an employee feels he or she has experienced workplace harassment, the company may be held liable. Resulting lawsuits can prove quite costly to the employer. This makes proper precautions to prevent workplace harassment vitally important to business operations.

To protect your employees from harassment and protect your company from lawsuits, take the following steps.

Create a written policy: Put your workplace harassment policies in writing. Be sure to include clear descriptions of various types of harassment, what employees should do if they feel harassed, and what actions will be taken by the company if this occurs.

Consult with professionals: To ensure your policy adheres to current laws, ask an attorney to review your statement. He or she can ensure that it clearly defines harassment and provides a complete picture of your policy. Your regional or district office of the EEOC is another good source for guidance in creating this written policy.

Revise the handbook: Once you have prepared your written policy, make sure it is included in your employee handbook. Your handbook should also include an equal employment opportunity statement and an at-will employment statement.

If necessary, revise the current book and redistribute copies to all employees. This may require some investment of resources, but it does no good to create a policy unless everyone is made aware of it.

Train your employees: Make training on workplace harassment mandatory for employees. This might involve a video, presentation, or a simple meeting to review your policy. Ensure every employee fully understands your procedures for the reporting, investigation, and resolution of workplace harassment complaints.

When employees complete this training, have them sign an acknowledgment form that states they understand the policy. Keep these forms in each employee’s file.

Take immediate action: If an employee reports an occurrence of workplace harassment, act on the complaint right away. Don’t ignore it. Don’t put it at the bottom of the priority pile. Fully investigate any claim of harassment.

Refer to your policy for proper protocols to handle the situation. An improper response can easily lead to a lawsuit or further incidents, so making the time is well worth the effort. An immediate response helps provide a safe work environment for employees and protects your bottom line.

Put coverage in place: Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) offers coverage in the event an employee files a lawsuit regarding workplace harassment. The policy covers claims regarding discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination as well as other employment-related matters. This insurance can be written as a stand-alone policy or may be provided as a Business Owner’s Policy endorsement.

Consult with your insurance agent to determine which type of policy and how much coverage are appropriate for your business.

Identity Theft: It Happens to Businesses, Too

In 2017, there were 10,000 cases of business identity theft in the United States. Credit agency Experian reports small and midsize businesses in North America are losing up to $1 billion a year to these imposters. Crimes include tax fraud, credit card use, and website ransom. Is your business protected?

Too often, smaller businesses are targets for fraudsters because thieves realize these companies have fewer resources devoted to protection.

Fortunately, there are several simple and affordable steps you can take to guard your company against identity theft.

Monitoring service: Businesses can enroll in a monitoring service that keeps watch over the company’s credit report. The service will monitor for red flags in credit activity.

EIN: Many entrepreneurs run their businesses under their personal Social Security number. To increase protection, obtain an employer identification number (EIN) and keep personal and business finances separate.

Data protection: If you maintain paper records, use a secure mailbox, shred unneeded documents, and keep sensitive information in locked files. To guard digital files, use firewalls, anti-malware technology, and antivirus software. Change passwords quarterly, using random password generators.

Insurance: Review your insurance coverage with your provider to verify appropriate policies are in place. Cyber insurance can help protect your company against significant loss related to identity theft.

Busted: Five Auto Insurance Myths You Might Believe

Of all the information circulating about auto insurance, what is rumor and what is real? Are you basing your choices on fact?

To cut through the fiction, keep the following myths in mind.

1. My car color affects my premium.

If you prefer hotshot red, go ahead and get it. You don’t have to worry about higher premiums because of the car’s color. Your insurance cost is based on several factors, but this isn’t one of them.

The car’s make, body type, model, age, and engine size affect the premium. The vehicle’s safety record, price, and the cost to repair it also come into play. If you want a lower premium, consider these factors rather than the paint job.

2. As my age increases, so will my premium.

Typically, the opposite is true. Those over 55 years of age may be eligible for discounts. These include reduced driving discounts and programs available through AARP. Discounts vary by region, so check with your insurance provider about your options and eligibility.

3. Bare-minimum coverage is sufficient.

Most states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. However, it is generally recommended to obtain coverage that goes beyond this bare minimum.

A serious accident can quickly generate expenses far exceeding the minimum coverage. A good rule of thumb is to have $100K in bodily injury per person and $300K per accident.

4. When I give my keys to a friend, my friend’s insurance takes over.

In many cases, the policy that covers the vehicle is considered primary. If an accident occurs while your friend is driving your car, it’s likely that your insurance will be responsible for coverage, not theirs.

5. My car is fully protected from all types of damage.

This could be true, but it depends on your policy type. A standard policy may not include theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. For full protection, choose collision and comprehensive insurance.

Peer-to-Peer Home Rentals: Here’s What You Need to Know

Are you considering renting out your home, guest room, or basement? Peer-to-peer home rentals and services such as Airbnb have grown in popularity. Discovering the income potential in these opportunities may entice you to hand over your keys.

While this may be a good option for you, it’s important to first consider the insurance implications involved. Do you have the right coverage for peer-to-peer rentals? If a renter starts a fire in the home, will you be covered? Always consult with your insurance provider before pursuing any rental arrangements.

If you will be renting all or part of your property on a regular basis, your homeowner’s policy is likely insufficient. You may need business coverage, such as a hotel or bed-and-breakfast policy. Month-to-month home-sharing liability policies may also be available that suit your circumstances. On the other hand, if the rental situation is a one-time occurrence, you might be covered by your current homeowner’s policy, or you might be required to add an endorsement.

Either way, notify your carrier about your intent to determine whether your current coverage is appropriate. Your agent can help you make any changes needed to ensure you and your property are fully protected.

Additionally, if you are considering renting someone else’s peer-to-peer rental space, confirm your coverage with your carrier. Typically, your homeowner’s policy will provide coverage for stolen possessions and accidental injuries you cause to others. However, you should verify this with your agent before making any rental agreements.

Which Should I Choose – Medigap or Medicare Advantage?

Do you know the difference between a Medigap and a Medicare Advantage plan?

If you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, you select one of many available plans, and the Advantage plan becomes your insurer. The plan sets the rates, determines copays, and chooses doctors in the network. Most Advantage plans have built-in drug plans.

If you have an Advantage plan, you are ineligible for a Medigap plan. For some of Medicare age, however, the Medigap plan may be more beneficial.

Medigap plans are known as Medicare Supplement Insurance. When you choose Medicare A and Medicare B as your primary health insurance, the Medigap plan covers the gap between what Medicare pays and what you are responsible for paying.

With a Medigap plan, if Medicare approves a procedure, Medigap pays the difference. With an Advantage plan, your doctor in the Advantage network manages your care subject to the insurer agreeing to the procedure. With Medigap, if your doctor accepts Medicare, they also accept your Medigap plan. If your health conditions require a higher level of care, a Medigap plan may be your best alternative. Choosing the best Medigap plan depends on your current medical conditions, where you are located, and how much you want to pay.

Medicare and Medigap do not offer prescription plans, so if you purchase a Medigap plan rather than an Advantage plan, you should purchase a stand-alone prescription plan as well.

Selecting a plan is one of the most important health decisions you will make. Don’t go it alone. An experienced agent can help you determine which plan best suits your needs.

Natural Disasters: Is Your Medical Bag Packed?

Fires. Tornadoes. Floods. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that natural disasters in the United States are on the rise. Are you and your family prepared if a natural disaster strikes your community?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the first step in emergency preparedness is to formulate an emergency plan. A critical part of this plan is to ensure access to your medications in an emergency. Since many people are on multiple medications, the first place to start is the development of a comprehensive list of all medications and dosages. Include your own, those of family members, and any pet medications.

Next, remain prepared with an ample supply. If storms are brewing that may result in a loss of access to your pharmacy, be sure to obtain early refills. If your drug plan provider resists, call and explain why you need the early refill. Never wait until the last minute to obtain refills. Keep at least seven to 10 days’ worth of medication on hand, including pet medications.

If you use a mail-order pharmacy, and a storm or another natural disaster is on the horizon, provide an alternative shipping address where your provider can send your medications. Additionally, take a picture of your health card, including the pharmaceutical information, in case the card is lost or damaged. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends keeping your pets’ medical records with you in case you must board your pet after a disaster. Proof of vaccinations and medications will be vital to your furry friend’s safety.

To further prepare, ensure your medications are in watertight containers if flooding may occur. If the disaster contaminates local water supplies, and your medication requires water, use only bottled water to reconstitute medications. Also keep in mind that power disruption often accompanies a natural disaster. Consider how you will store any medications that require refrigeration.

If you believe a catastrophe may have compromised your medications, contact your health care provider or a local pharmacy before you take them.

Looking for Life Insurance After Health Problems

Buying life insurance on the open market when you have had health problems can be a challenge, and it can be expensive, too. But it is not impossible.

When buying life insurance, you may have to complete a written and/or verbal medical questionnaire and complete a health exam, which could include blood and urine samples. Individuals in the best health typically get better rates on policies.

But what if you have had (and have recovered from) a health scare, such as a heart attack, stroke, or cancer? How do you get life insurance then?

First, look to your employer, which may offer coverage above and beyond your regular policy that doesn’t require a medical review.

If you cannot obtain more life insurance through your employer, another option is to search for so-called guaranteed-issue policies. These policies do not require a medical review, but they come with a cost. They are generally much more expensive than policies that require medical reviews.

Another option is to investigate a mortgage-term life-insurance policy. Offered by an insurance carrier working with the company that holds your mortgage, these policies, generally available for 15- or 30-year terms, are designed to provide your loved ones with money to cover your mortgage in the event of your untimely death.

They are simply another type of life insurance, and they may not be necessary for healthy individuals who already have life insurance. But those who have struggled with health problems may be able to get such a policy without a medical review.

Also note that once your illness is behind you by several years, and if you have a good prognosis, you may begin to find that insurance companies offer more options. Many cancer survivors, for example, find that they can get life insurance after being cancer-free for five years.

Consult with an insurance expert to determine the best options for your individual situation.

The FAQ on Cyber Insurance

You’ve heard the term “cyberspace.” You may have visited a cybercafé. You know of businesses that have suffered from cybercrime. But are you familiar with cyber insurance? It’s one of the best weapons businesses can wield against the effects of cybercrime.

What is cyber insurance? 
This type of insurance is designed to cover a company’s liability if data breaches occur that release sensitive information such as customers’ Social Security numbers, health records, or credit card numbers.

Doesn’t liability insurance cover these situations?
Cyber coverage is often excluded in a general liability insurance policy. The general policy typically covers property damage and bodily injuries resulting from a company’s operations or services. This does not encompass the issues that arise with cybercrimes.

What does cyber insurance cover?
Policies vary and may be customizable to suit each company’s needs. Typical coverages include:

Legal fees: Even a small data breach can generate significant legal expenses. From lawsuits filed against the company to those the company needs to file, cyber insurance covers the many expenses involved.

Notifications: If a data breach occurs, the business must notify its customers. This could take the form of snail mailings, phone calls, emails, or other forms of communication. Cyber insurance covers the expenses incurred with these notifications.

Restoration: A cybercrime might result in one affected customer or thousands. The company affected might be responsible for restoring personal identities for each of these customers. The cyber insurance policy will ensure coverage for the cost of customer restoration.

Recovery: Data that has been compromised needs to be recovered. Whether the attack was via ransomware, stolen files, or viruses, the company under attack must expend resources to get the affected data back under its control.

Repairs: Cyberattacks often damage computer systems. Cyber insurance offers coverage for the cost to make these repairs.

Who needs cyber insurance?
Almost every modern business relies on cyberspace for some aspect of its operations. If you’re not sure whether you need cyber insurance, ask yourself the following questions about your company. Do your employees rely on computers to complete their work? Does your company manage or store personal customer data? Do you use cloud services? Could your company financially survive a cyberattack?

The answers to these questions will clarify whether or not your business is in need of cyber coverage.

How can I prevent cybercrime?
Of course, the optimal scenario for any business owner is to never fall victim to cybercrime. Business owners can take steps to prevent these offenses. First, put proper security measures in place. Protect computers with appropriate security software. Second, educate employees. Make them aware of common scams that result in data breaches. Train them on proper security protocols. Lastly, keep a close watch on your systems. Track security logs and analyze systems for suspicious activity. Watch account balances carefully. Take immediate action if something seems off track.

How much cyber insurance do I need?
This depends on your business size, operational costs, and risk level. Consult with your insurance carrier to determine the right coverage for your needs.

Insurance Solutions for Green Businesses

Some modern entrepreneurs are in search of ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Business owners who are looking for environmentally friendly methods to deliver their products and services may encounter obstacles. They may be required to make significant investments in new equipment to change their business processes. Fortunately, the insurance industry is making it easier for businesses to go green. Here’s how.

Green Endorsements: Business owners may be able to add a green endorsement to their commercial property insurance. Options include Green Materials and Equipment endorsements and Green Construction and Related Costs endorsements. The first covers the additional cost if you decide to rebuild with environmentally friendly equipment that is more expensive than your original property. The second covers the cost of green certification, design, and engineering.

Green Coverage: Other customizable options may be available to further your green efforts. For example, you may need longer business interruption coverage to allow time for green rebuilding. You may also need expanded policies to cover new environmental features that would extend beyond standard coverage.

Green Savings: Your green initiatives may result in savings on your insurance premiums. Does your business use hybrid vehicles? You may be eligible for a discount on your commercial vehicle policy. Have your green construction methods made your building more stable and disaster-resistant? You may be able to save on your property insurance. Contact your insurance agent for more details.

How Much Homeowner’s Insurance Do I Need?

Your home is worth $250,000 in the real estate market. Does that mean you should have $250K in homeowner’s insurance coverage?

Not necessarily. When determining the amount of homeowner’s coverage you should have, several factors come into play. You should consider each of these as you work with your insurance agent to set up your policy.

The Structure: What will it cost to rebuild your home if disaster strikes?

To calculate this figure, multiply your square footage by per-square-foot building costs in your area. Your insurance agent can help provide these figures. As you calculate, keep in mind the style of your home, the type of materials used, the features and upgrades, and any additions you have made since initial construction.

The Codes: Have building codes changed since the construction of your home was completed?

If you have to rebuild, you may need to adhere to new codes, which can require additional expense. If you suspect this might be the case, consider adding an endorsement to your policy that allows funds for bringing your house up to code.

The Possessions: Don’t forget everything inside your home. You’ll need coverage to replace your personal property as well. Conduct an inventory of your belongings. This will help you estimate the cost of replacement, and the record will be helpful to have on file if you ever need to make a claim.

The Liability: Homeowner’s insurance also covers your liability as a property owner.

If you are sued due to bodily injury (your dog bites a neighbor) or need to repair property damage (your child’s baseball shatters the neighbor’s window), your liability insurance will cover the associated costs.

Most policies provide at least $100,000 in liability coverage, and it is often advisable to increase this amount to $300,000-$500,000 to ensure sufficient coverage.

What Ingredients Go into My Auto Insurance Cost?

It’s not a secret family recipe, but your auto insurance cost does include three unique ingredients: you, your car, and your coverage. These three factors combined determine the risk and cost that shape your premium.

You: Your insurance carrier considers your driving record, age, and gender. Those with clean driving records generally pay lower premiums. As for age and gender, statistics show that women get into fewer accidents and younger, inexperienced drivers get into more. As a result, adolescent males typically pay higher premiums than 30-something females.

Your car: What is the price tag on your vehicle? Will it be expensive to repair if damaged? Some cars cost more to repair than others. How much you drive your car also matters. The more you’re on the road, the more likely you are to have an accident. Similarly, where you drive the vehicle also affects your coverage cost. Highly populated areas experience more fender benders and theft.

Your coverage: The final ingredient is the amount and type of coverage you prefer. While some coverage is mandatory in certain regions, you typically have a lot of say about how this ingredient is mixed into the recipe. Many coverages, such as collision and comprehensive, are optional. You can also decide what level of deductible to carry on your policy. The decisions you make about coverage will affect the final total of your premium.

To ensure you create the perfect blend, consult with your insurance agent. His or her expertise can help you maximize your ingredients for the best results.

Do You Need Whole or Term Life Insurance?

Life insurance doesn’t always last for your entire life:

For some individuals, it could last for a specified period of time, such as 10 or 15 years. This type of policy is referred to as “term” life insurance. So how is it different from whole life insurance?

Life insurance policies that stay in effect for your entire lifetime are called “whole” life insurance policies. As long as you continue paying premiums, you have insurance until you die.

On the other hand, there are “term” life insurance policies. These policies provide coverage for a limited period of time.

If you choose a 15-year term, for example, the insurance company will pay your beneficiary the death benefit if you pass away during the next 15 years.

Which type of policy you need depends on your individual circumstances.

Whole life insurance policies are well-suited to individuals who want to provide for a beneficiary if they die, regardless of changing circumstances.

Term life insurance policies are better for individuals whose beneficiaries will not rely on them financially forever.

Let’s say you have coverage primarily for your children, and at some point, you expect your children to be grown and providing for themselves. In this case, you may not need life insurance anymore.

In this situation, a term life insurance policy may be a good choice – because term life insurance policies generally cost less than whole life insurance policies.

The conditions available with term life insurance vary, but generally, longer terms have higher premiums. But there are factors to consider other than cost when choosing between a whole and term policy.

One is reinsurability. If you acquire a terminal illness during the term of a policy, and you still need a policy when the term expires, you may not be able to get one.

An insurance agent or other such advisor can help you weigh these issues and decide which policy is best for your situation.

Is an E-Visit in Your Medical Future?

If telemedicine, also called an e-visit, is not a regular part of your health care, it soon may be.

Telemedicine is a mobile application that lets you visit a physician using video chat. You can send photos of a rash or cut or describe your symptoms and often receive a diagnosis and prescription – all from your home or office.

This innovative approach offers several benefits that are causing more Americans to consider telemedicine when they need a doctor.

One of the top benefits is avoiding a room crowded with other sick people while you wait to see a doctor. Minimizing exposure to germ-infested areas could make telemedicine a top solution for reducing outbreaks. Other benefits include reducing co-pays and wait time, eliminating commutes, and improving access to health care. Reduced cost is also a perk. In one study presented in San Diego at the June 2018 AHIP expo, in-person visits cost an average of $114 while e-visits came in at $38.

Telemedicine pros and cons depend on particular circumstances, but an e-visit may be the answer for common symptoms like a cold, the flu, an insect bite, asthma, cellulitis, or a sprain. Additionally, consider how much e-visit benefits could mean to Americans in remote areas with limited access to hospitals and doctors.

Is this covered by insurance? Some insurers cover and even encourage e-visits. Your health insurance may recommend using Skype, Facetime, or your insurer’s portal to visit your health provider electronically from your home. Medicare’s website lists when it will reimburse for telemedicine. Private health providers may offer e-medicine access. Check with your insurance carrier to determine providers and co-pays if you choose to participate in e-medicine.

From tele-psychiatry to tele-ophthalmology, both health care providers and consumers have discovered the benefits of tele-medicine. An e-visit may lower your co-pay and allow you to stay home when you are ill. Check with your health care professional to see if this option is right for you.

Medicare Open Enrollment Begins Soon: Are You Ready?

The 2019 Medicare “open enrollment” period runs from October 15 to December 7, 2018. During this time, Medicare recipients must make any desired changes to their benefits. Changes include adding or changing any one of 10 supplemental plans that cover charges Medicare does not cover, like deductibles and co-pays. If you have Medicare coverage or will turn 65 soon, don’t delay. Meet with your Medicare insurance advisor and ensure you have the best plan for your current health situation.

There are many reasons for changing a supplemental plan. These include keeping the doctor or hospital of your choice, access to specialists without restrictions, nationwide emergency room coverage, and lower co-payments.

Private insurance companies provide Medicare supplemental plans or Medigap plans. However, the government regulates those plans, ensuring that benefits remain the same no matter which insurance provider you use. Thus, plan A is the same from every provider, but insurance carriers may charge different premiums. The government also guarantees that you can renew your supplemental policy even if you develop health problems.

Of the top 10 plans for 2019, MedicareFAQ rated supplemental plans N, G, and F the best, in that order. However, your Medicare insurance advisor can provide the best guidance based on your particular health situation. Advisors are very busy at year-end, so call now to ensure ample time to review your choices. If you’re turning 65 soon, you’ll become Medicare-eligible. Don’t wait until that deadline to review supplemental plans.

Disaster Scams Make Damage More Devastating

Your property is in shambles. As you survey the damage, your heart sinks. You feel overwhelmed with the amount of work it will take to restore your business.

Where do you start?

It’s at this emotional low point that unscrupulous con artists often swoop in. Knowing you aren’t thinking clearly and may be a good target for a scam, these individuals and companies take advantage of your disastrous situation.

To avoid becoming their next victim, take the following steps.

Learn to recognize a scam. A common post-disaster scam involves convincing property owners that they must pay a large deposit before any work can begin. Desperate to get started, a property owner turns over the sum.

The scammer may start the job, but disappears before finishing it. Contractors who rush the process, demand unreasonable up-front funds, or otherwise attempt to make fast cash are likely trying to scam you.

Work with professionals. In a disaster situation, it may be tempting to work with the first person you encounter. Don’t skip the important step of vetting any contractor you consider.

Investigate their track record. Check references. Read reviews. Call the Better Business Bureau. Do not give any business a deposit until you are confident they are worthy of your trust.

Be cautious about temporary repairs. Consider it a red flag if a contractor wants you to spend significant funds on temporary repairs. Most temporary repairs can be made by the property owner.

Spending a lot on these repairs may result in a lack of funds to pay for permanent repairs. Consult with your insurance agent to determine what you can and should do yourself.

Close the door on door-to-door solicitors. Legitimate adjusters, attorneys, and contractors aren’t likely to go door to door soliciting business. Those who do are often looking to pull a quick scam.

Don’t give in to pressure or scare tactics. Before you hire anyone to handle your claim, do your research and make an informed decision.

Consult with your insurance provider. Often, you don’t need a public adjuster or an attorney to handle your claim. Keep in mind, you will probably have to pay a public adjuster 15% of your settlement, and attorneys charge as much as 30% of your settlement. Instead, go directly to your insurance company.

You may be able to settle your claim directly, without involving these costly third parties. Your agent can help you navigate the process, and will often provide an adjuster at no charge.

Your carrier can also help you find reputable service providers. It can recommend contractors with a proven track record whom you can trust.

Establish coverage in advance. Of course, the best way to prepare for disasters is to ensure you have appropriate policies in place before they strike. Contact your insurance provider to review your policies. Determine whether you have the appropriate coverage, and make any changes necessary to maintain suitable coverage for your current needs.

By partnering with your insurance agent, you can make sure any future disaster recovery is as smooth as possible.

BOP or CPP? Which Insurance Bundle Is Right for You?

Appropriate insurance coverage is essential for a business of any size. With multiple options available, which policies should you choose for your company? Many entrepreneurs opt for a BOP (business owners policy). However, many could benefit from a second option: a commercial package policy (CPP). Which is right for you? Here’s the difference.

Business owners policy: A BOP is typically designed for small and medium-size businesses. It bundles multiple coverages such as general liability and property insurance into one policy. The single premium reduces the overall cost of insurance.

Commercial package policy: For growing companies or those with complex or specialized risks, a BOP may prove insufficient. A CPP offers more options. It allows you to bundle several types of coverage into one policy, but is less limited in the types of coverage it can include. In short, it can be better customized to fit the unique needs of your business.

A commercial package policy typically includes property insurance, general liability, business income insurance, business vehicle insurance, business crime insurance, commercial umbrella liability, electronic data processing coverage, equipment breakdown coverage, employment practices liability, inland marine insurance, and pollution liability. While this list may seem exhaustive for many companies, it’s important to note that a CPP does not include all necessary coverage. A CPP doesn’t provide directors and officers liability; health, disability, and life insurance; or workers’ compensation. Business owners must establish separate policies for these items.

To determine which options are best for you, review your company operations with your insurance agent.

Attention Vacationers! Info about Insuring Second Homes

You enjoy the freedom a second home offers. You can escape cold weather or plan an easy getaway for a day, a week, or an extended stay. But owning two properties comes with additional responsibilities. One of the list-toppers is insurance. Maintaining proper coverage for both properties is essential. Here’s how it’s done.

First and foremost, consult with your insurance provider. They can recommend the best policies for appropriate coverage. For example, your homeowner’s policy may extend some coverage for a vacation rental property, but it’s likely insufficient for full coverage of a second home.

In most cases, it’s best to establish a separate policy for your second home. In doing so, you can set up the coverage to make it appropriate for each property. For example, the second home may face hazards that the first does not, such as flooding or tropical storms. Additionally, a vacation home may experience long periods with no occupants. This makes it more susceptible to burglaries and unchecked leaks.

If your second home will be used as a guesthouse or rental, this also affects the type of coverage you should maintain. In this case, you might be liable for injuries to tenants or damages they cause. A landlord policy would likely be the appropriate coverage for this situation, rather than a second homeowner’s policy.

To offset costs for multiple policies, you may be able to add a security system or other safety features. Your insurer can further advise you on how to reduce your premium for each property.

Does Your Insurance Cover Identity Theft?

They’re not you, but they’re using your credit card. They’ve also dipped into your bank account.

Identity theft can be a devastating experience. Victims may spend months or even years sorting through the disaster left in the wake of an identity thief. Educating yourself about this crime and how to protect yourself will help you avoid its damaging effects.

First, understand how identity thieves typically get their hands on someone else’s secure information. The most common methods include stealing physical documents (wallet, checkbook, credit card, bills or statements), stealing hardware (thumb drives, laptops, tablets), obtaining information via phone calls (scammers posing as legitimate professionals), and obtaining information online (email scams, hacking).

Take steps to protect your personal information from each of these methods. Keep all documents secure and never give out personal information to unverified sources. Appropriate security software can also help prevent online breaches.

Even with the proper precautions in place, you may suffer from a determined identity thief. In this case, it is important to have proper coverage. Many credit cards provide some liability relief, and homeowner’s or renter’s policies often include some limited protection for loss of cash or credit cards. However, this is not sufficient coverage if your identity is stolen.

To protect yourself from the financial loss, reputational consequences, and credit issues that can result from identity theft, look to insurance products that cover these costs. Policies vary, and can cover everything from minor assistance to major restoration services. Your coverage can provide a consumer fraud specialist or case manager, replacement of government-issued identifications, reimbursement of attorney’s fees, assistance with credit restoration, and assistance with hearings and charges related to fraud.

Extending beyond basic coverage, these restoration services can be life-changing. Consult with your insurance provider to learn what options are available for you.

Vision Insurance: A Clear Choice to Focus on Future Health

As we age, vision care becomes critically important. This makes vision insurance coverage increasingly essential. Yet exploring vision insurance online is a lengthy and often confusing process. Here’s a quick overview.

What it is: Vision insurance covers or reduces costs associated with maintaining and improving your vision.

What it covers: Vision insurance covers annual eye exams, contact lenses, or frames and lenses. If you’re considering surgery to improve your vision, some plans offer reduced rates on refractive procedures.

How to get it: While group coverage may be available where you work, coverage is often minimal. A stand-alone vision plan may be a better option. If you currently have a group plan, contact your agent to review its benefits. An agent who specializes in vision plans may be able to provide a better solution for about the same price as your group plan.

Who to see: If you have an eye doctor you prefer, you can choose a plan that includes your professional. With some vision plans, using the insurer’s network of approved professionals ensures you pay less than going out of network.

Why it’s important: Even if you have great vision, annual eye exams are vital to protect against age-associated eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Those with chronic health conditions, like diabetes or hypertension, are more at risk for eye problems. Vision plans can cost just dollars per month and can greatly reduce your chances of undetected vision problems.

Your local insurance agent can provide a comprehensive explanation of coverage and provide a personalized vision coverage quote.