Is Your Business Protected from Employee Litigation?

Many small business owners are left vulnerable, mistakenly believing that their business liability insurance policies are inclusive of employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). This is simply not the case. In fact, insurers have strengthened their exclusions regarding EPLI coverage over the years. Even businesses with as few as one employee can be held liable under employment laws.

EPLI is a financial safeguard protecting businesses against employee lawsuits alleging inappropriate or unfair acts that violated their rights. Regardless of merit, claims regarding sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination are included in this category.

According to data collected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), roughly 42% of all EPLI claims were filed against small private businesses, with the average claim award hitting $217,000. Skimming on coverage can be a costly, devastating mistake. Here’s what you need to know.

Current trends. With several states passing new legislation and Internet hashtags such as #metoo and #timesup bringing the public’s attention to ethics in the workplace, EPLI claims continued to soar in 2020. The biggest rise occurred in claims alleging retaliation, sexual harassment, labor laws violations with gig workers and the gender pay gap.

Policy of prevention. The key to preventing one of these rising trends from impacting your business is to frequently review, revise and set in place new internal and personnel policies. Updating handbooks, developing programs that help prevent discriminatory hiring practices and creating detailed job descriptions and expectations for each role are just some of the ways to keep you covered.

Other effective prevention strategies involve developing and protecting a company culture of safety, respect and equity by ensuring that you have a well-implemented, structured and confidential internal complaint reporting process, developing strict anti-retaliation policies and hosting regular trainings.

Premiums. The overall cost of your EPLI policy will vary depending on a few risk factors, such as number of employees, the thoroughness of your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and procedures, and whether your company has ever had any EEOC complaints or lawsuits in the past.

Limitations. Criminal conduct, civil fines, penalties and punitive damages are just some things not covered in a standard policy. Some of your board members and leadership team may be covered, but the rest of your staff and middle managers may not be included in this policy. Be sure to have a clear understanding of which managers are covered under your EPLI policy and where you are left exposed.

What to look out for. Do you know your “risk profile”? Does your policy keep you thoroughly protected under both state and local laws? When researching EPLI coverage, take extra care to carefully understand what types of claims are covered. While less inclusive policies may save you some money in the long run, they can fail to protect you when you need it most.

Even the best employers get sued. Call us today to review potential loss exposures and ensure that you are set up with suitable EPLI coverage. We can customize your coverage to safeguard your business against the ever-increasing world of employment-related risks.

Does Your Business Change in the Summer?

Each industry has its own unique business cycles: some are steady throughout the months, while others peak and valley. Many seasonal entrepreneurs feel their businesses are too small to necessitate coverage without realizing how critical it is that they are protected as businesses that operate year-round. With the seasonal peaks summer brings for many, here are some factors to consider when it comes to making sure you’re covered.

The elements. The summer season calls us to the great outdoors, which means employees and customers become subject to the risks weather creates. Rain can cause slips and falls, wind can knock over heavy objects and injure people or damage property and heat and humidity can cause equipment to fail, resulting in repair costs and lost revenue.

Increased volume. The seasonal uptick in business often means busier days with hotter nights for employees, calling for changes or updates to your workers’ compensation policy. Additional equipment might also be purchased with expanded operations. It’s important to review your policy’s limits to make sure you’re protected.

More driving. Service-based industries especially experience increased driving and travel time to job sites. Ensuring that you have adequate coverage for both the number of vehicles and each driver is mission critical.

Vacation time. While your regular employees take time off to take much-deserved vacations, you might find the need to hire temporary staff to cover the workload. Ensure that your commercial policy includes the appropriate level of workers’ compensation.

We’d be happy to review your specific needs and discuss any other exposure to risks or additional liabilities you could incur as the seasons change. Contact us today to get your recommended SPF for summer!

The Differences between PPOs and HMOs

Understanding health insurance benefits can be confusing, plus we must select either an HMO or a PPO plan. Has deciding which plan is best for you left you confused and wondering which direction to go? Clarifying a few points might help in this decision process.

What do these letters mean? A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is a type of health insurance plan that restricts coverage to care from providers who work for or contract with a particular network. A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) allows the patient to choose any provider they wish, whether in or outside a particular network.

How does my cost differ when using each plan? When selecting an HMO, your services are provided based on a predetermined fee. If the actual cost of services exceeds the predetermined amount, the provider must absorb the excess costs. A PPO uses cost sharing, which means when you use medical services, you pay or share part of the cost in the form of deductibles, co-payments or coinsurance.

Does one provide more flexibility than the other? When selecting an HMO, you select a primary care physician (PCP). This physician is your point person when seeking care, and they refer you to specialists within a network. A PPO allows more flexibility. Although you still have in-network providers, you may self-refer to specialists, allowing you more control and flexibility. You may also seek care out of the network and still receive some coverage benefits.

Are you wondering which options your providers accept? Do you want to discuss your unique needs to assist in your decision? We are here to help and just a phone call away.

The Importance of Support Groups for Chronic Medical Conditions

An unexpected medical diagnosis such as cancer, liver disease or depression can have a dramatic impact on your life. Hearing a diagnosis can send you into shock. Your doctors talk, yet you may be unable to understand their words and their implications. With COVID-19 protocols, you may be alone, without someone who can remind you what your doctors said. Where do you turn?

Support groups for chronic conditions have been a big help to many patients. According to the study “The Role of Self-Help Groups in Chronic Illness Management” published in Australian Journal of Primary Health, self-help groups provide many benefits. These include the following.

Social and emotional support. After a medical diagnosis, you may not know anyone with that condition. In a support group, you’ll step into a group of people who understand exactly what you’re going through.

Medical expertise. You may not understand the treatments your doctor recommends. Support group members can help explain the treatment and what to expect. Many support groups have nurses or doctors who oversee the groups, providing expertise as well.

Improved quality of life. Studies found that patients in support groups feel a greater sense of self-confidence and control as they manage their illnesses.

Sometimes our caregivers and family lose patience. Serious illnesses can cause depression, and medications can cause illogical behaviors. Caregivers can find support groups helpful too as they navigate their role in your care.

That medical model with the patient as a passive recipient of information is no longer valid. Most patients want to understand their options to make informed treatment choices. A support group can provide vital information to help those with chronic conditions take a more active role in their treatment. Your treating facility may host a support group for your illness. A Google search will reveal more. Many people meet virtually or offer social media groups if you’re unable to attend in person.

Avoiding 5 Setbacks When It Comes to Life Insurance

Life insurance may not seem very complicated, but the process of purchasing a policy can be filled with potential pitfalls. Here are five to consider.

The conversation. First, discussing life insurance with your loved ones can be difficult because you are referring to the possibility of your own death. But if you have loved ones who rely on your income, it is an important conversation to have.

The role of your will. Many people believe a will can be used to dictate where life insurance proceeds will go, but that is not the case. Your life insurance policy is a contract with an insurance company, so you will need to specify beneficiaries with that company.

The beneficiary. Regardless of the policy you choose, you will need to select a beneficiary who will receive the proceeds of your life insurance policy when you die. That, too, can be an uncomfortable discussion. Typically, your beneficiary will be your spouse, then your children. But, at times, it can be more complicated. For example, you may not want to leave minors millions of dollars, in which case you may want to set up a trust.

The exceptions. In “community property” states, any property acquired during a marriage is owned by both spouses. In those states, if you want your life insurance beneficiary to be someone other than your spouse, both of you will likely need to acknowledge that in writing.

The taxes. Finally, although you won’t pay taxes on the payout from a life insurance policy, the proceeds may be considered part of your estate. This means they may be subject to estate tax. If you have a large policy, you may want to consider a trust to keep the proceeds out of your estate.

Life insurance can be a challenge to navigate. We’re here to help you navigate the pitfalls, and we’re just a call or email away.

Here’s What to Expect During the Claims Process

When the “unexpected” has happened (e.g., a fire, storm, fallen tree or burst pipe has damaged your property), you’ll be glad to know you’ve selected a trusted insurance agent who genuinely cares for the complexities of your homeowners insurance policy. Here’s what to expect during the claims process after the initial dust has settled.

Document. Take detailed photos of the damage. Pro tip: periodically document your home and valuables with photos or videos.

Claim intake. Make the call to initiate your claim. Your insurance provider will collect general information regarding what happened and what is damaged. Remember to ask this person for the following key information: claim number, your adjuster’s contact information and next steps with a tangible timeline for follow up.

Remediation specialist. Remediation companies clean up the mess and often later become the contractors who make any repairs. This is why it’s critical to hire a reputable company; be sure to ask us for recommendations.

The adjuster. The adjuster or other representative will visit your home, take photos and ask detailed questions. These details help compose the official report, including the determined “cause of loss.”

Determining coverage. The “cause of loss” in comparison to the terms of your policy determines what percentage of your claim is covered by insurance. Policy limits are also important to review to ensure that you have adequate coverage. We’d be happy to discuss your current policy to make sure that in the midst of tragedy, you won’t experience the added disaster of subpar coverage.

Make you “whole” again. Your insurance provider then pays to replace or repair covered items or property, either paid directly to you or to service providers. If major repairs are required, your policy should include additional living expenses and lodging while work is being done.

When disaster strikes, we become more than just insurance agents. We’re here with you, from beginning to end, to help you reclaim some peace of mind and get you “back to normal” as quickly as possible.

5 Tips to Keep Your Car Safe and Protected

With summer here and remote “weekend getaways” on the rise, it’s important to remember that even the quaintest of towns experience crime. Prevent a crime that can happen within mere seconds by taking a few of your own to quickly double-check that your car is tucked in for the night, safe and secure:

Lock it down. While it might be tempting to leave your windows cracked on a hot day, make sure that your windows are completely rolled up and the doors are locked. Don’t forget the sunroof, too.

Hide valuables. As a general rule, never leave your valuables in the car. Hide sunglasses, electronics and any other “shiny objects” in your glove box or center console. Purses and shopping bags should always be tucked away in the trunk. Always take your garage door remote inside with you.

Park smart. Keep visibility in mind when selecting your parking spot. Parking on well-lit streets and under bright street lights is always ideal.

Anti-theft devices. Car alarms are the best deterrent. Consider the addition of a tracking device, such as LoJack® or OnStar®, which could also qualify you for an extra discount on your auto insurance.

Minimize appeal. Overall, the best way to keep your car safe and protected is to lower the appeal of what treasures could be inside and to make it more difficult, risky and noisy for a thief to gain access to your vehicle.

Let’s have a check-up to review other safety tips and see what discounts we can discover for your policy.

The ABCs of Life Insurance: Key Terms to Know

Life insurance policy definitions may seem like alphabet soup, but here are some key terms you may want to know.

A is for accidental death benefit. This is an added benefit payable in addition to the principal benefit in the event of accidental death.

B is for beneficiary. This is the individual who will receive the life insurance benefits.

C is for cash value. This is the amount of cash value available in your policy’s account for withdrawal or loans.

E is for expiry. This refers to the termination of a policy at the end of its coverage period.

F is for face amount. This is the benefit that will be paid in the event of your death.

I is for insurability. This refers to an applicant’s level of acceptability to an insurance carrier.

J is for joint life annuity. This is a policy that will pay benefits that continue over the joint lifetime of two individuals but terminates after the first death.

M is for maturity date. This date indicates when the face value of your life insurance will become payable.

P is for principal sum. This is the amount that will be paid out as a lump sum in the event of your accidental death.

R is for renewable term insurance. This is a term life policy that is eligible for renewal at the end of the term.

S is for surrender. This is forfeiting a policy.

T is for term insurance. These are policies that are limited to a specific term.

Y is for yearly renewable term. This is a term life policy that you can renew annually without first having to provide evidence of your insurability.

Do you have questions or concerns about life insurance? Call or email us, and we can walk you through each of the components. We’re always here to help.

Debunking 4 Common Health Insurance Myths

With all the conflicting information out there, it can be challenging to navigate health insurance. Plan benefits, costs and enrollment timeframes can leave you confused and overwhelmed. Let’s put you in the know and look at the truth behind four common health insurance myths.

Myth 1: Original Medicare has no cost. Premium free Part A is for those 65 and older. You usually don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A if you or your spouse paid into Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. The standard Part B cost for 2021 is $148.50. If your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount, you may find an extra charge.

Myth 2: I need to enroll in COBRA when my group coverage ends. You will have 60 days to enroll in COBRA to continue your group health insurance benefits. Enrolling anytime during these 60 days can backdate your coverage start date to the first day of lost coverage as long as you pay the retroactive premium. You may be required to pay the full cost of the coverage plus a two percent administrative fee.

Myth 3: My annual physical is covered each year. Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive screenings include a set of shots and are covered at no cost to you when performed by a doctor or provider in your plan network, but other aspects of a physical are not. These exams can be scheduled every 365 days.

Myth 4: My children can stay on my health insurance policy. Typically, when your children turn 26, their coverage on your health insurance policy ends and triggers a qualified event. This qualified event allows them to enroll in one of the various plans available.

There is a lot of uncertainty around health insurance, so let us be your source of knowledge. We are always here to help, and we’re just a phone call away.

Top Tips for Managing a Chronic Medical Condition

The pain and isolation of a chronic illness can be debilitating. Here are some tips for managing chronic medical conditions.

First, find a doctor who understands your condition and partners in your care. Your primary care physician (PCP) should be able to refer you to appropriate providers, but if your PCP seems unhelpful, it may be time to search for a new one. Next, invest in your care. This may mean dropping those 10 pounds, which can reduce your blood pressure and your glucose level. See if your healthcare insurer offers discounts or free memberships to local gyms, such as the Silver Sneakers program for seniors.

Never skimp on medications. To manage high prescription costs, call the manufacturer for discounts or ask your doctor about free samples. Depression accompanies chronic pain for over a third of those with frequent illnesses, according to Harvard Health. The Affordable Care Act guarantees access to mental health services, as does Medicaid. Contact your health insurer to review coverages and find treatment. Therapy does not have to be long-term to provide relief. Even a few visits with a therapist can help you create a plan to better cope with your chronic condition.

Finally, support groups for almost any kind of condition flourish in today’s online world. Facing an organ transplant? There’s a group for that. Feeling the effects of your diabetes? Start with the American Diabetes Association or Google “diabetes support groups.” Whether in person or online, support groups can help you find common ground with those who share your condition and provide helpful tips to help you better manage your disease. You don’t need to suffer with a chronic condition alone.

If you have any questions about what sources of support may be covered by your health insurance, call or email us. We are always here to help.

Understanding What Auto Insurance You Need

Even for people with stellar driving records, auto insurance premiums can take a bite out of everyone’s pocketbook. Understanding what each element of your coverage means is the key to saving money while ensuring you have a tailor-made policy that’s exactly the right fit for you.

Liability. While this coverage is required by law, the minimum amount varies by state. Liability insurance protects you in the event you are held responsible for bodily injury or property damage to another party. Sage advice is to carry a bodily injury liability policy with a minimum of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident (with the addition of enough property damage liability coverage to cover the cost of a new car). Considering all the potential costs of chaos, from medical bills to potential lawsuits, it’s often recommended to increase your limits to $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident to be on the safe side.

Collision. This type of insurance is not required by law, but it covers the cost of damage to your car after an accident. Depending on the current resale value of your car, collision coverage may not make sense for you to carry, since you’ll be paying more than what your car is worth.

Comprehensive. This coverage protects you from things that aren’t included under collision, such as fire or theft. If you lease a car, this coverage may be required, but most vehicle owners choose to add this coverage anyway, since it is often inexpensive and covers virtually any type of damage to the vehicle.

Deductibles. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium. If you have a decent savings fund, are a good driver and are willing to assume the risk, paying less for your premium may make sense for you.

We’re here to help steer you in the right direction! Make an appointment today to review your auto policy. Let’s work together to meet your financial goals and match your coverage preferences and requirements.

Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover All Catastrophes

Congratulations! You’re a homeowner! With the pride this accomplishment entails, you’ve also quickly become familiar with all of the obscure yet critical details, responsibilities and laws it includes. Here’s a primer on some items not covered by typical homeowners insurance and what additional policies might be needed to protect your investment.

Earth. Anything that can do the hokey pokey and move your home around; earth movement that lifts, lowers, shifts, sinks, expands or contracts your home is included in this category.

Water. The ultimate “other” category; damage not covered by a standard policy, including items such as sewer main blockages, stormwater and backups from growing tree roots. Also, while damage from an exploding water heater might be covered, you’re responsible for the cost to replace the unit.

Maintenance. Become familiar with how insurance views “general maintenance”; items not covered are defined as “neglect” or “failure to properly maintain” your property. This can include rust, rot, mold and general wear and tear. Other notable items include damage from termites, insects, birds or rodents. Depending on your proximity to industrial or agricultural operations, damage caused by smog or smoke may also not be covered.

Prized possessions. Many standard policies only cover losses due to theft up to $1,500. So on top of the emotional damage as an unfortunate victim of burglary, you’ll also have to go through the process of replacing precious jewelry and other high-value items.

If you’re a new homeowner or haven’t updated your policy in years, it might be time for a second look. Give us a call today, and we’ll help to make sure that you’re pragmatically protected.

8 Ways to Protect Your Business from Fraud

To the tune of an estimated annual $7.4 billion loss, fraud poses a major global threat to all types of organizations. Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees are hit even harder than larger corporations, carrying over half of the crime load and, at almost double the losses, experiencing a higher than average cost per event.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), weak internal controls and fraud prevention protocols are the number one reason these crimes occur. Having systems in place and a solid strategy around internal anti-fraud controls results in overall quicker detection and thereby lowers losses incurred. Here are the top ways you can protect your business.

Stop playing ostrich. Accepting that fraud does happen and having awareness that this could happen to you are paramount. Understanding the modalities through which fraud occurs and identifying the vulnerable hotspots within your organization are key to both preventing and combating these crimes. When identifying weak spots, remember to also assess risk with customers, contractors and third parties.

A focus on culture. Building a transparent culture of checks and balances, honesty and transparency as well as a focus on maintaining and building happy employees is one of the best ways to prevent fraud from arising internally.

Employees who are satisfied in their roles and overall happy with their jobs have more to lose and thereby less incentive to commit fraud.

Educate to eliminate. Help your people help you. Small businesses often don’t have training programs for managers and employees to help identify the “red flags” and “gray areas.” Consider investing in training your people to help uphold your core values. With this, a stated anti-fraud policy in the employee handbook or code of conduct helps to reinforce your position.

Take a tip. Noting that an estimated 40% of all fraud cases were originally detected with an internal tip-off, with a third of those tips coming from outside parties (such as customers and vendors), those companies that had encouraged reporting systems, such as hotlines, detected and resolved fraudulent activity more quickly than those without measures in place.

Technology upgrade. With technological advances, why aren’t businesses better at preventing such crimes? Lack of full-spectrum fraud detection software across separate platforms and multiple disparate legacy systems in place turn accurate detection into one of manual tracking and audits across the multiverse of papers, platforms and processes. Seek to harmonize your digital and paper trails into a unified system and protocols.

Surprise audits. Considering the average time of detection for fraud crimes is about one year, increasing the frequency of internal audits helps to catch these activities earlier (and, considering most victim companies recovered nothing, also helps with loss prevention). More than this, companies that proactively implemented the “surprise audit” experienced the largest reduction in fraudulent activity.

Take active measures. Most importantly, take an active stance and implement measures that combat fraudulent activity. Organizations can reduce the fiscal damages and impact fraud creates by pursuing multilevel accountability, internal controls and policies that actively detect fraud.

Those that take a “passive” stance are likely to experience schemes that persist for much longer, resulting in higher overall losses (and future headaches).

Insurance coverage. Even the most risk-averse business owner cannot cover the unforeseen. The best way to minimize the impact of fraud is to have an insurance policy in place. We can help you better understand your overall risks and evaluate which commercial crime insurance plan is right for you. We’re here to keep you covered, and we’re just a call or email away.

Should I Consider a BOP or CPP Insurance Bundle?

To briefly discuss a critical and complex topic for small business owners, let’s do a quick overview with an analogy to something simple we can all enjoy: pizza!

Business Owner Insurance (BOP) is like a standard Domino’s pizza. Its preset bundle of ingredients is designed to meet the needs and requirements of most small businesses and is practical in terms of cost and coverage.

A Commercial Policy Package (CPP) is more of a build-your-own, à la carte menu of options for those with more specific appetites or dietary requirements when there are unique risks within that business’s industry that necessitate extra coverage. This might sound expensive, but because it can be built from the ground up, it facilitates nearly unlimited options and has the capacity to be more cost-effective (rather than purchasing a standard BOP policy and adding additional menu items to your order).

Keep in mind, while BOP and CPP packages cover the majority of the gamut of coverage business owners need, they often do not include vital coverage for other key ingredients, such as commercial flood insurance, workers’ compensation and other crucial liability insurances.

Also, with the impact that COVID-19 has had on many brick-and-mortar businesses, it is critical for those now operating businesses out of their homes to know that homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude liability coverage for all business operations.

We’re here to help you painlessly place your order; we’ll assist you in understanding and confidently deciding which policy type is best for you. Our goal is to help you navigate toward options that make the most holistic sense for your business in terms of risk management, budgets and bringing you a personal sense of stability.

What Coverage Questions Should I Ask My Agent?

You want to make sure you get the best insurance coverage for your company. But what are the right questions to ask? Use the questions below as a jumping-off point for your discussions.

Is commercial insurance right for me? Business owners often believe they can skate by without insurance at the beginning. This can be a costly assumption. Even the smallest business should have adequate insurance coverage to cover any issues.

What types of coverage do I need? Every business has unique insurance needs. At minimum, most companies require property, workers’ compensation and general liability insurance. Your specific operations and type of industry will determine which other policies are needed for your business.

Is a business owner’s policy (BOP) a good idea for me? A BOP is a bundle of policies that provides basic coverage for businesses. You may be able to choose this package to save on insurance, but depending on your operations and type of business, you may need more coverage than what is in this starter policy.

What questions should I ask about property insurance? Ask how much insurance you will need to cover your commercial property. Be sure to have coverage for equipment, inventory and intellectual property.

What about policy limits? When you’re thinking of insurance, you should think of policy limits and how much the policy will pay out as a maximum. When considering policy limits, you should also be cognizant of whether the limits will be enough to cover true losses in the event of a catastrophic or major event.

Does an umbrella policy make sense for me? You may want to consider commercial umbrella insurance if a basic policy doesn’t give you sufficient coverage in certain circumstances. A commercial umbrella insurance policy extends your liability coverage when a basic policy falls short. For example, if you are found liable in a costly lawsuit, an umbrella policy will protect your assets.

What about the claims process? Knowing the proper steps to file a claim and who to contact with questions is key. Ask us about how this process works so you can know these details in advance. In the event you should need to file a claim, you will have a smoother experience.

What ways are there to pay? For coverage to commence, you must pay your insurance premium, either as a lump sum or in monthly installments. Both of these methods have their advantages. We can help you determine which is the best payment plan for your business.

How can I save money on my insurance premiums? Lowering your risk factors can help lower your premium. Two common solutions are employee training and security systems. We can provide you with additional tips for lowering premiums and reducing the number of claims.

These questions are a good place to start when determining your insurance needs. Our office is ready to help answer any more questions you may have and guide you to the best options for your business. Call or email us today.

What Is Errors and Omissions Insurance and Who Needs It?

When you think of insurance for your business, you may think of the more obvious policies, such as property insurance, workers’ compensation and general liability insurance. But if you provide a service to customers or clients, errors and omissions insurance is also a must.

What is errors and omissions insurance? Errors and omissions insurance, also known as E&O insurance and professional liability insurance, provides protection for your business from lawsuits that claim you made a mistake in your professional services. E&O insurance protects your business from claims of inaccurate advice, negligence, potential errors in services provided, misrepresentation, omissions or other applicable claims. This insurance can help cover your court costs, attorney’s fees and administrative costs to put your defense together. E&O insurance can also help cover settlements or judgments, which can be a few thousand to millions of dollars.

Who needs errors and omissions insurance? Business owners or operators whose clients depend on their judgment or services to accomplish goals need errors and omissions insurance. While some may believe this only applies to professional services such as medical, legal and accounting services, businesses such as website service providers, barbershops, advertising firms, consulting companies, pet groomers, engineering firms and many others could benefit from errors and omissions insurance. If you have a business that provides a service to customers, errors and omissions insurance should be part of your coverage.

Let us help you review your policies and determine what specific coverage is best for you and your circumstances. Call or email us today. We are always here for you.

The Importance of an Up-to-Date Medical Power of Attorney

In today’s uncertain world, a serious illness or an incapacitating injury can strike at any age. A properly drafted medical power of attorney (POA) allows someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You’re never too young or too old to consider this important step. Even your child heading to college may require you to step in if he or she cannot act after an illness or injury.

Suppose you’re seriously injured and doctors recommend a risky procedure that is your best chance for recovery. You may be unable to make this decision yourself. The POA allows your signer to intercede, making critical care decisions for you only if you cannot act. Your POA can legally talk with your physicians, deciding on the best course of action. The medical POA gives no power to make financial or other decisions, just the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. Only when you’re unable to act for yourself does the medical POA begin.

If you’ve signed a POA in the past, reevaluate it. Your signer may no longer be able or willing to help make these tough decisions. An up-to-date medical POA is essential to your healthcare and to your family.

You may hear medical providers call the medical POA an “advance directive.” Always provide a copy to your treating physician and to the hospital you’d likely visit with an illness. Discuss your wishes with your POA because it’s important he or she clearly understands what you do want and what you don’t want after a critical event.

Call us for information on POAs. We help walk our clients through many important life decisions. While these conversations can be difficult, it costs nothing for you to meet with us and discuss what’s best for you.

What You Need to Know about the Special Enrollment Period

The new presidential administration has reopened the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period for 2021 healthcare coverage. The 2021 regular enrollment period was from November 1 through December 15, 2020. After job losses reached record highs, more Americans lost health insurance. In response, the new administration reopened open enrollment with a three-month window and then extended it. Now open until August 15, if you missed the ACA deadline, the new special enrollment period opens the door to coverage for many Americans. In states with their own ACA exchanges, extension dates may vary.

If you lost your job, your previous employer may offer health coverage continuation through COBRA. For many, COBRA premiums are simply unaffordable. If you lose health insurance due to reduced hours or job loss, investigate coverage through the ACA. This can help you determine whether you should pay COBRA rates or opt into the often more affordable ACA. Remember if you choose COBRA, you’ll usually only have COBRA benefits for 18 months. You will then need to find alternative coverage.

The current administration issued an executive order that instructs federal agencies to ease reenrollment challenges. However, buying coverage through can be confusing. Simply determining which plan to choose (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum) is just one decision. Ensuring the plan covers your doctors is another.

The most important factor about the ACA is there are no restrictions for preexisting conditions, and free annual healthcare checkups can keep you healthy, ultimately reducing your healthcare costs.

Don’t navigate open enrollment alone. Call us to help find the best plan for your budget.

The Importance of an Up-to-Date Medical Power of Attorney

In today’s uncertain world, a serious illness or an incapacitating injury can strike at any age. A properly drafted medical power of attorney (POA) allows someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You’re never too young or too old to consider this important step. Even your child heading to college may require you to step in if he or she cannot act after an illness or injury.

Suppose you’re seriously injured and doctors recommend a risky procedure that is your best chance for recovery. You may be unable to make this decision yourself. The POA allows your signer to intercede, making critical care decisions for you only if you cannot act. Your POA can legally talk with your physicians, deciding on the best course of action. The medical POA gives no power to make financial or other decisions, just the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. Only when you’re unable to act for yourself does the medical POA begin.

If you’ve signed a POA in the past, reevaluate it. Your signer may no longer be able or willing to help make these tough decisions. An up-to-date medical POA is essential to your healthcare and to your family.

You may hear medical providers call the medical POA an “advance directive.” Always provide a copy to your treating physician and to the hospital you’d likely visit with an illness. Discuss your wishes with your POA because it’s important he or she clearly understands what you do want and what you don’t want after a critical event.

Call us for information on POAs. We help walk our clients through many important life decisions. While these conversations can be difficult, it costs nothing for you to meet with us and discuss what’s best for you.

Is It Time to Recycle Your Old Life Insurance Policy?

Life insurance is something you buy and then don’t think about until you need it, so it’s easy to forget. But as you near retirement, it may be a good time to reevaluate your needs. Is your old policy, which may have been purchased decades ago, still meeting your needs?

Life insurance is important as we start our adult lives. We get jobs, marry, buy homes, have children. And we want to maintain that lifestyle for our loved ones should we experience an accident or illness.

But then life goes on. Our children grow up. We pay off our mortgages. We retire. We live happily, thanks to our retirement savings and Social Security.

At the same time, we may have a life insurance policy purchased years ago that we’re still paying premiums on. What should we do? Do we maintain the status quo and keep the policy? Or do we stop paying premiums and let the policy lapse?

It’s a good question. After all, the money you pay in premiums could be used in a number of other ways. You could use it to pay down debt, add to your nest egg (investing in a manner that will hopefully grow over time) or even buy long-term care insurance.

But the life insurance policy may still benefit you. Just because you have no children living at home doesn’t mean you don’t need life insurance. The people in your life could be affected by your death in many ways. How would your life insurance proceeds help them? If you can come up with enough ways, it might be worth keeping your policy in effect and reevaluate in another one to five years.

We can help you decide if a life insurance policy still makes sense for you. Please reach out to us if you have any concerns or questions.