Lower your Auto Insurance!

How to Reduce Auto Insurance after an Accident

If you have ever been in a car accident, you know how it can affect your insurance rates. If you have not, car accidents typically cause your rate to increase. In some cases, your premium can increase 20%-25% for about three years, if the other party was injured. There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your auto insurance policy. Most of them have to do with showing the insurance company that you are dedicated to being a safe driver.

Ways to Reduce Your Auto Insurance

There are a number of ways that you can lower the cost of your auto insurance. Some may be effective almost immediately while others will take some time. Below, there are some recommendations on how to lower the cost of auto insurance.

  • Tell the truth
    • After you get into an accident, it is important that you are truthful with your insurance provider. If they find out that you have not been telling the truth, the insurer withholds the right to refuse to honor your policy. This will leave you personally liable for any damages you may have caused.
  • Inquire about accident forgiveness
    • This is only applicable for some insurance companies. If it is your first accident, you may be entitled to accident forgiveness. Insurance companies understand that mistakes happen; they may be willing to overlook your first mishap.
  • Defensive Driving
    • Attending a defensive driving course or driver’s education will show the insurance company that you are trying to improve your driving skills. You should take this course after an accident and let your insurer know when you are planning on taking it and after the course has been completed.
  • Increase your deductible
    • Increasing your deductible will lower your monthly payment. This should only be done if you have the extra money to pay the deductible in the event of another accident. Increasing your deductible by $200 – $500 has seen a decrease in monthly payments by 15% – 30%.
  • Look for discounts
    • Sometimes, you might have applied for extra coverage that isn’t necessary. You may be able to adjust your plan in an effort to lower the payment. If you drive less than 10,000 miles per year, your insurer may have an accessible discount for you. If you have been with the company for a long period of time, the company may be able to give you a break.
  • Find a new policy
    • There are a variety of auto insurers on the market today. Do your research; find a company that will give you a lower rate. You can use the lower rate as a negotiating chip or switch your insurance to the company with the lower rate. In addition, you can try to package any other insurance you need in with your car insurance. For example, if Allstate insures your home, they may give you a lower rate when signing up for auto insurance as well.

Do I need Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ Compensation insurance is a type of insurance that protects business owners from incurring personal liability if an employee suffers a workplace injury. In most states, (49; with the exception of Texas) businesses are required to have workers’ compensation insurance if they have an employee(s). In a few states, there is a mandate for businesses to have workers’ comp insurance, even if they do not have any employees.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

Workers’ compensation insurance provides a variety of benefits to the injured worker. The insurance policy will cover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Travel expenses to and from the doctor
  • Lost wages
  • Death benefits
  • Funeral costs

Why do I Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

First of all, unless your business operates Texas, you are likely required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Even if you are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance, it is smart to do so. Without workers’ compensation insurance, you can be held liable for an injury suffered by your employee.

Sometimes, despite following safety regulations, things go wrong. The insurance policy provides your business something to fall back on if something does go wrong. If you do not have workers’ compensation insurance, you can be held liable for the damages suffered by the employee. This can include paying for their medical expenses, lost wages, travel to and from the doctor, pain and suffering, and more.

How Much Does it Cost?

Generally, the cost of workers compensation is a payment per $100.00 in employees wages. The amount you pay per $100.00 varies by state. For example, in New York, the payment per $100.00 is $1.41, but in Alaska the payment is $2.74 per $100.00. Another factor that weighs into the cost of workers compensation is the type of industry your business is in. Lower risk industries, like an office job or sales job, are going to have a lower rate. High risk industries, like construction or natural resource extraction, will have a higher rate.  

The cost of workers’ compensation has reached its lowest rate in 25 years. Many legislators are fighting the low rate. Judges are stating that the rewards are not enough to cover the medical expenses and the lost wages that an injury will cause. Recently, a Florida judge ruled that the benefits from workers’ compensation are not enough. The judge believes that if you are going to give up your right to sue your employer, you should be compensated accordingly, not at the rate of $1.27 per $100.00 (the rate in Florida).

If you would like to learn more about workers’ compensation insurance, talk to an insurance or business law attorney. They can help you navigate this tricky area of the law and make sure you are covered if someone has been injured on the job.

What Is Liquor Liability Insurance?

Liquor Liability Insurance otherwise known as dram shop liability insurance is an insurance policy that business who sell/serve alcohol are required to obtain.

When a business decides to serve or sell alcohol there are associated risks involved:

  • selling alcohol to an already intoxicated customer
  • contributing to the over-toxication of a customer
  • serving alcohol to a minor

What is Covered Under Liquor Liability Insurance?

In the event that any of these things occur, that is not sufficient to file a liquor liability claim. However, if any accidents or injuries to the consumer, minor or an unrelated third party that caused by the aforementioned three events then the business might be held liable. This is the reason why these businesses are required to have this type of insurance to protect their business from these claims.

Claims can include bodily harm, mental harm, legal defense costs, property damage, and coverage over misdemeanors and felonies like assault and battery, and sexual assault.

What does Liquor Liability Cost?

Liquor liability insurance can be extremely expensive depending on what state the business is located.

The following factors are taken into consideration when determining the cost of your liquor liability insurance:

  • Types of alcohol sold
  • Hours of operation and closing time
  • Food versus alcohol receipts (if applicable)
  • Square footage of bar or restaurant
  • Average price of drinks
  • Happy hours and drink specials
  • Entertainment venue, live music, and karaoke
  • Bouncers and Door Keepers
  • State where business is located
  • Server training and certifications

There are reports that in some states, such as Iowa, where they are calling for reform to help lower the price of insurance because a lot of business have trouble finding carriers to take on such a liability without having to pay a high premium per month.

Each state has their liquor liability laws so it’s very important to know what they are. Here’s a directory on where you can find the laws mandated by your state: https://www.legalbeer.com/liquor-laws-by-state

Life Insurance After Suicide

Generally speaking, life insurance is rather easy to interpret as far as its name goes. A policy is meant to ensure the financial security of loved ones upon a person’s passing. However, while the literal definition is rather easy to understand, the ability to collect life insurance can actually be a tedious and exhausting process. Depending on the circumstances of a loved one’s death, investigations could tie up a beneficiary’s money for some time. We’ve all seen the news stories (or even television shows) featuring heinous murders that occurred due to a want of money through a life insurance policy. Life insurance policies surrounded by suicide cases could have similar complications, though even in matters that involve no underhanded schemes, receiving your money as a beneficiary could still prove difficult under certain circumstances.

There are two specific clauses that need to be taken into consideration when dealing with life insurance policies, specifically as they pertain to suicide cases. The first one aptly named the “suicide clause,” states that no insurer will pay benefits out to beneficiaries if it is proven that the insured committed suicide within two years after taking out the policy. This clause also states that should the insured individual replace an old policy with a new one – regardless of how much time has passed in the interim – the effective time frame for the suicide clause resets to zero and another two-year cycle begins for the new policy.

Obviously, this is meant to protect insurers from paying out massive insurance policies to beneficiaries of those who commit suicide in so short a time after the policy is taken out. Much like the life insurance fraud schemes that are sensationalized even more through various Hollywood films, there are very likely existing cases of desperate parents looking for an easy way to set their kids up for a better life than they may already have, among other conditions.

The other clause that ties into suicides and the life insurance policies potentially attached to them is the “contestability clause.” This clause concerns the non-disclosure of certain conditions of hopeful policyholders, predominantly the likes of smoking, drinking and other health conditions. Generally speaking, this does not exclude mental health. With depression (and mental health in general) being as serious of an issue as it is in today’s world and mental health concerns leading to several thousand cases of suicide each year, the contestability clause applies just as strongly as the suicide clause. If non-disclosure can be proven in an attempt to collect on a life insurance policy, the insurer will not likely pay benefits. Of course, being honest about your conditions is noble and preferred, but the bottom line, unfortunately, is that it will hurt your chances of being eligible for a life insurance policy as well.

As serious as the entire concept of suicide is in modern society, the bitter reality is that, despite whatever reasons may have applied to such tragedy, it could very well extend past an individual’s death. However, this is hardly the norm regarding even suicide cases involving a life insurance policy. According to a statistic from insurancequotes.org, 99% of all (yes, all) life insurance policies end with full benefits paid out.

Life Insurance As A Part Of Estate Planning

We all like to fantasize about immortality: we’re invincible in those dreams, and every once in awhile we act the part in our daily lives. Although this remains the truth for most of us, the responsible ones have still put considerable time and money into planning for the future. Who will have control over the estate when you’re not able to do so yourself? What will happen to your assets after you’re gone? In order to retain control while you have the chance, now is the time to answer these questions–even if you’re still young.

Estate planning in the event of your death is not an easy process, nor should it be one. This is about your life and everything you’ve built. While your estate planning attorney goes over the ins and outs of the documents you might consider drawing up, and explains the probate process that you’re helping prepare your family for, he or she might also suggest obtaining a life insurance policy if that’s something you haven’t done already.

Even if you haven’t procured the services of an estate planning lawyer already, you’ve probably been offered the benefit of life insurance at some point in your life. Did you take it when you were first offered? The answer is all too often a resounding “no.” If that’s the case, then a good lawyer might be able to persuade you on behalf of your family. Because you now have the proper legal advice to act upon, you’ll have the added benefit of knowing exactly how much money your family can expect to see based on specific policies, and you’ll know how it might be used in the event of your death.

Without this advice, most of us decide whether or not to buy life insurance as if we were flipping a coin. After all, why spend the money if the benefit isn’t something we’ll ever experience ourselves? Most people who’ve lost a loved one without any financial support can answer that question easily enough, and hopefully you’ll never have to do the same.

When you purchase a policy, there are only a few things to keep in mind. Your lawyer will help you with everything. Who are your beneficiaries? Where are the relevant documents and policies held? These are questions that should be asked during the estate planning phase. Be sure that your potential heirs have as much information as is appropriate. Let them know that you have a policy under which they’re listed. They might also benefit from knowing specific details about the policy, such as the number, the insurer, the value, and any possible date of expiration.

Contact information is also important in order for an insurer to get in touch with a beneficiary in the event that the beneficiary either wasn’t aware of your death, or didn’t know who to contact on their own. With access to this information, your beneficiaries will likely have access to the benefit funds sooner than they would otherwise.

There are a number of circumstances that can change in life, and these can all have an effect on estate planning. Did you get divorced? Did you get married? Did you receive an inheritance of your own? Did you win the lotto? All of these factors are important when considering how to manage your affairs. Be sure that your financial and legal advisors are kept aware and up to date of these key life events.

What Is Renters’ Insurance?

Renters are often under the impression that the landlord’s insurance policy covers their belongings, which it unfortunately doesn’t. The landlord’s policy generally covers the building itself, but might not cover injuries sustained within the structure or even personal belongings. It is why renters’ insurance is so important.

Renters’ insurance covers your personal property in a rented condo, apartment, or home from unexpected circumstances like fire, theft, or sewer backup damage and actually pays for damaged or lost possessions. It can even help protect you from liability in case somebody is injured on your property.

Renters insurance has similar scope to homeowners insurance with the only exception being that it doesn’t offer coverage for the structure itself.

What Does It Cover?

Renters’ insurance provides coverage for the destruction or loss of personal belongings in case of a covered peril including: fire, vandalism, frozen plumbing system, hail, lightning, impact by a vehicle, theft, and windstorms.

Renters insurance may also provide coverage if:

You are temporarily forced to move out of your property: If your property becomes inhabitable due to damage caused by a covered peril like vandalism or fire, renters’ insurance helps cover the cost of alternative living arrangements while repairs are underway.

A person is injured in the property and is in need of medical attention: Personal liability coverage is for protecting you and other people that visit your property in case an accident occurs. It helps pay for legal fees and medical costs you might end up incurring.

Items stored inside your vehicle are lost or damaged: Depending on your specific renters’ insurance policy, you could be covered for the belongings you keep inside your vehicle. However, the coverage does not extend to system or equipment installed in the vehicle.

What Does It Not Cover?

Now that you understand the basics of what renters’ insurance covers, it is also important to understand what it does not cover so that you are adequately prepared. Whether you live in Hollywood or Macomb County, here are some basics that are not covered?:

Home Business: If you operate a small business out of your home, it does not necessarily mean that your renters’ insurance policy will cover it. You need to check with your insurance provider whether your specific policy covers your home business of whether you will require additional coverage.

Valuables: Valuables and expensive collectables like jewelry may not necessarily be covered under your basic renters’ insurance policy and might require additional coverage.

Motorized Vehicles: Ownership or use of a motor vehicle is not covered by the renters’ insurance policy even if it is parked on your property. However, personal belongings kept inside the vehicle are usually covered.

It is important to note that these are not the only things not covered by a renters’ insurance policy. So, ensure that you read through your policy thoroughly to have a better understanding of what is and isn’t covered.

The Bottom Line

It is important to understand exactly what renters’ insurance is so that you are able to decide whether it is something you want. This has been a discussion of what renters’ insurance is, what it covers, and what it does not, so that you can make an informed decision. To learn more about this type of insurance, you should get in touch with a reputable insurance provider today.

Here’s Why Dental Insurance Is Important

If you’re currently weighing up the pros and cons of investing in dental insurance, then this guide is for you. Specifically, we’re going to explore a few reasons why dental insurance is important, so you’ll soon understand why you’re making a smart decision by investing in it.

First of all, it’s safe to say that dental health care can become incredibly expensive, especially if you need to have a lot of work done on your teeth. In fact, having dental implants is one of most expensive procedures you could ever have, but the price of crowns and fillings can soon add up, particularly if you need to have several of them at one time.

Fortunately, dental insurance covers you against these incredibly large costs, so you can simply pay a monthly or annual premium that will cover you for these eventualities.

Additionally, there’s no denying the peace of mind that you will receive when you know you are protected against these big costs, because having to pay a huge dental bill can be very punishing financially if you do not have the cash available when it is needed.

Another excellent reason to invest in dental insurance will be the discounts you will often receive for routine check-ups and preventative treatments. In general, many people avoid visiting the dentist because they’re afraid of what they may find, but by having the dental insurance plan in place, you can visit your dentist knowing that you can cover any large costs that may be required for your ongoing treatment.

Ultimately, this could mean you need less work performed anyway, as your dentist will be able to keep your teeth clean and provide frequent checkups that allow your dental hygiene to be monitored.

At the end of the day, it’s clear to see that investing in a quality dental insurance plan is a very smart thing to do.

Health Insurance Spikes in Price

In the wake of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act that effectively revamped the world of health insurance (many argue either for the better or the worse) and the inauguration of the Trump administration and efforts to reform or repeal it in 2017, many new developments have come about as a result – many of which the general public appears to suffer even more greatly.

For those who might be unaware, the Affordable Care Act, in principle, is meant to provide more easily accessible and more thorough and comprehensive health insurance coverage. It attempts to do this with two key changes to the ways health insurance plans are offered: it requires businesses to offer health insurance if that business employs 50 or more individuals (individuals may still defer to an open market), and it requires all health insurance providers to cover 10 health benefits in each of their plans.

The problem with this is that it also mandates all eligible citizens to have some form of health insurance, or it enforces a tax (or penalty – call it what you will) upon them. Many people who found health insurance unaffordable even after the Affordable Care Act was implemented often found that paying the tax afterward was less consequential than paying month-to-month premiums and suffering potentially high-level deductibles. This shift in responsibility for health insurance providers often led to health plans increasing in price on the open market for those who still opted to have them – or simply couldn’t afford not to have them.

Another issue is that, while many people might enjoy the subsidies that the Affordable Care Act provides as a result of the health care reform, there are those who might make a hair too much to qualify. The standards say that a person needs to make more than 400% of the Federal poverty level in order to miss out on government subsidies, and while this may sound like a hefty amount, it actually leaves a significant gap between qualifying for subsidies and being what many of us would consider “well-off.” A one-person household need only make about $48,250 per year, and a two-person household only raises that number to $65,000. Combine that with the fact that lower insurance premiums are (pardon the pun) at a premium due to offsetting immediate costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act, and you have many middle-class households spending the greater bulk of their income on nothing but health insurance.

With more and more healthy people opting out of health insurance to balance out the costs across the spectrum, older working class citizens and those on a fairly limited income are forced to pick up the slack and pay more out of pocket. And those costs only seem to be on the rise for the immediate future. Some may be tempted to blame the free preventive care that the Affordable Care Act provides while it also negates the possibility of being turned down for pre-existing conditions, driving many 2017to their doctors’ offices almost immediately to seek aid for problems that had potentially turned long-term. Whatever the case may be in that regard, health insurance prices spiked around 25% heading into 2017. And many speculate that with the dubbed “Trumpcare” still stalling out in the legislative process, many insurers will be hedging their bets by spiking prices again into 2018. Some have gone so far as to compare premium prices for many health care policies as being on par with mortgage payments or, as one Sharon Thornton put it, “buying two new iPads a month and throwing them in the trash.”

Texas and Insurance Law

Dating back to 2012, Texas has experienced an uprising in insurance claims relating to wind and weather damage – and many of these claims also involved adjusters or attorneys, about a 900 percent increase, according to statistics published from a state Legislature meeting with Texas Department of Insurance, among other alarming statistical increases related to insurance lawsuits released after the February 2017 meeting. This spurred the formation of the Texas Hailstorm Bill, set to take effect at the beginning of September.

One of the most impacting effects that the Hailstorm Bill will address is the high-volume of lawsuits brought upon casualty and property insurers (note that the bill does not affect claims, but lawsuits) by requiring that the insured policyholder give at least 61 days of advanced notice that a lawsuit is even being filed against an insurer. This is meant to give the insurer time to address the issue directly with a chance of settling it outside of the court system. What some may consider a detriment, however, is that interest rate payouts that normally apply to policyholders should their insurer fail to comply with Chapter 542 of the Texas Insurance Code will be heavily reduced, from 18% to 10%.

Many speculate that this Hailstorm Bill will only add headaches to the process of filing lawsuits for insurance companies that some claim are abusing their policyholders. Bob Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, believes, “it is less likely that lawyers would want to take even good cases.”

Though the new law seems to be implemented to protect insurance companies from a slew of lawsuits, Hunter believes that many insurers act appropriately anyway, thus limiting the law’s overall impact as it would only serve to protect the abusive insurers if it serves at all.

Hunter also notes, however, that there is great need for reform and restructuring beyond the Hailstorm Bill, making particular note of the National Flood Insurance Program which falls under Federal authority. He mentions the need to update flood zone maps and allowing rates to rise and meet the actuarial, something for which he holds Congress responsible.

Hunter, a former Chief Actuary for the NFIP, cites experience from the likes of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy as well. “…there will be a lot of lawsuits filed ultimately, because there is always trouble after these major events.” He says the Hailstorm Bill will only bring about a second crisis when everything has settled from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey.

Others claim that the Hailstorm Bill is a necessity to fend off suit-happy lawyers and contractors that may not get immediate attention following the devastation of weather-related events such as Harvey as well as encourage out-of-state insurance adjusters to come and work in Texas in the aftermath of the horrible event to meet with the demand of insurance claims that will need to be settled. There is also argument that Texas still maintains high standards in regard to insurance claims (as well as lawsuits, stating that policyholders may claim as much as three times the full amount of coverage following fraudulently-acting insurers or insurers that act in bad faith), and the law makes no impact on those claims being filed, nor does it impose any sort of deadlines on behalf of the first-party policyholder.

How Can We Make Health Insurance More Reliable?

The recent attempts by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA) have failed completely even after years of unanimous Republican votes to axe the individual health insurance mandate. One thing both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is this: the ACA isn’t bad at its heart, but it isn’t working as well as promised. Something certainly needs to be done to fix the new healthcare system–especially before a new wave of attacks can perhaps dismantle it for good. But what can we do? Here are a few of the more controversial initiatives that lawmakers have come up with so far.

Some have called for Medicare to open its gates to new recipients starting at age 55 instead of the current 65 in order to help offset some of the costs of rising insurance as people get older and sicker. This program is already extraordinarily expensive, and a lot of other lawmakers don’t want to see those costs rise even more.

Then again, Independent Bernie Sanders has called for a Medicare-for-all bill, and plans to introduce it soon. It almost definitely won’t pass, but that’s not necessarily its primary goal. Sanders is a workhorse when it comes to finding ways of increasing public awareness of newer, more progressive ideas that could benefit everyone. He believes that Americans have the right to free healthcare, and he wants more Americans to become open to the idea. That way, sometime in the future his dreams might actually turn into a reality.

One of the ACA’s most popular moves was allowing young people up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance. But some policymakers want to remove that provision altogether, instead moving those same young people to an individual market instead. Even though this was good for the kids and their parents, it wasn’t necessarily good for the markets. In order to have a healthy pool for insurance markets, you need as many people buying in as possible. When kids are on their parents’ policies, that means you actually have less people buying in even though more are covered. This is something that surely needs to be addressed, and soon. The longer we wait, the more costs rise.

The ACA promised a healthy marketplace for insurance, but that promise fell through. There isn’t enough competition to keep insurance rates as low as we’d like, and so other lawmakers are trying to introduce legislation that would force insurers who take advantage of certain other programs to provide fair marketplace coverage in exchange.

Another controversial idea is allowing people to pay premiums using their HSA contributions. These HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) are often used in conjunction with insurance plans with high deductibles to help people pay them when they need to. The money they put into these accounts cannot be taxed by the government, and so it would be especially beneficial to use this money to pay premiums. The problem is, where does that leave out-of-pocket expenses for that same high-deductible account when a health problem arises?

Although some controversial plans are currently being discussed, one thing is certain: there are no easy alternatives, and the machine used to run health insurance is complex and difficult to maintain or fix.