Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Insurance For A Lower Cost

When we say “get the most out of your insurance” most people start thinking about how to save money on their health insurance policies. But that’s just one type of insurance. There are car insurance policies, homeowners insurance policies, renters insurance policies, etc. And it’s likely you’ll need more than one policy depending on your assets. So how do you reduce costs while getting the most out of your policies? It’s easier than you think!

There’s one key trick to cutting costs and also getting the most from the policy in question: ask. Speak to your insurance provider (or a lawyer) about what’s included in the policy you want and whether or not there are ways to cut premiums before you even sign up. 

For example, many of us know that taking a simple defensive driving course can reduce car insurance premiums. Using those skills on the road can pay off even more — because accidents mean rate hikes, and safe driving means lower costs. You can also buy a safer car. Anyone who wants a low car insurance rate won’t be driving a sports car, after all — because people think those are meant to be driven fast.

For health insurance, it usually pays to know more about what you need. That means reading the fine print. Do you have very low out of pocket costs and monthly rates? You might have a high deductible, which is the amount you pay for certain other services (such as a visit to the emergency room) before the plan kicks in at all. If you’re older or prone to serious accidents or illness because of lifestyle or your job, then you’ll want the lowest deductible possible. Sometimes, that means paying higher rates. But you’ll save more in the long run.

Do you need homeowners or renters insurance? You should make sure the coverage makes sense based on what you stand to lose. Don’t obtain coverage for $1 million when you only own $10,000 worth of goods. If an accident does occur, authorities and insurance auditors will both be suspicious. And make sure you read over the policy. You don’t need the insurance to cover flood damage if you live on a big hill and your house doesn’t have a cellar, right?

Usually, there are certain types of calamities not covered on these types of premiums. These include rust, mold, wear and tear, termite damage, etc. You can increase the liability on the claim to protect against monetary damages from these types of calamities — or you can try to add them specifically if allowed.

Lastly, when it’s time to call your insurance provider because of an accident, injury, or the destruction of your property, call a qualified lawyer first. Were you the victim of assault? It might actually make sense to ask for a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer before calling a personal lawyer. Our friends at https://www.ronaldfreemanlaw.com/ know a thing or two about how the process works.

COVID Relief Money Stolen From United States Government

Over $1 trillion was set aside by the U.S. government to help individuals, families and businesses who were struggling with the financial consequences of COVID-19. Somehow, at least $100 billion of that went missing along the way. This estimate was provided by the Secret Service, while the FTC contends that there have been over 400,000 scams related to the disease caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, people want answers about how this money could possibly have vanished into the ether.

Secret Service pandemic fraud recovery coordinator Roy Dotson said that “the sheer size of the pot is enticing to the criminals.”

Much of the lost money was stolen through scams related to unemployment. According to the Labor Department, around $87 billion in benefits might have gone to people who weren’t meant to receive them. The Secret Service has reclaimed around $1.2 billion and returned around $2.3 billion — but that doesn’t come close to fixing the problem. There are hundreds of active investigations related to the thefts. More than a hundred suspects have been arrested.

Lee Price III was charged with wire fraud and money laundering, and eventually pleaded guilty to both crimes. This was after he managed to steal over $1.6 million from the aforementioned “pot.” He tried for another million, but that’s when he got caught.

Dotson added, “Can we stop fraud? Will we? No, but I think we can definitely prosecute those that need to be prosecuted and we can do our best to recover as much fraudulent pandemic funds that we can.”

Courtney Hilaire, a 29-year-old man from Rhode Island, planned to file fake applications for COVID unemployment in eight states — and maybe more. He eventually pleaded guilty to wire fraud, identity theft, conspiracy to possess unauthorized access devices, and possession of the equipment used to make those devices. Hilaire admitted that there were others involved in the scheme. He will be sentenced on March 30, 2022.

When To Sue For Breach Of Contract

When was the last time you signed a contract? We do it often even without thinking. Consider, for example, each time you click “I agree” on a website’s terms of use. That’s a type of contract. Of course, it’s not the type of contract you will be sued for breaking. Chances are the website service will simply discontinue your ability to use it. Some contracts fall in the middle, such as one between a renter and landlord. Others are more serious, such as those signed in court or between businesses.

What does a breach of contract really mean? Business contracts are written for one reason and one reason only: to outline each party’s obligations inside an agreement (albeit usually in the most confusing way possible). Written contracts are provided to give one party a legal avenue to recoup losses when another party fails to come through. 

There are two types of breach of contract: material and immaterial. The former type of breach means that one party did not follow through, and the other party did not receive what was owed. Let’s say two parties enter into an agreement. Party A wants Party B to build a website dedicated to conservative politics. Party B hands Party A the keys to a beautiful new website all about man-made climate change. This is a material breach of contract.

An immaterial breach means the terms of the contract are technically fulfilled. These breaches often arise in tenant-landlord relationships. The tenant might have complaints regarding construction projects in the building. The noise is making it hard for the tenant — who works at night — to sleep during the day. This is an immaterial breach in most cases (unless the contract specifically outlined no construction during the day, which seems unlikely).

Regardless of what side you land on after one or more parties breach a contract, you will want legal help. Not sure what to do? Check with our friends: https://www.woodslaw.com/.

You can still sue for either type of breach. But whether or not a litigation makes sense is up to you. Did one party fail to deliver? Did one party make it impossible for the other party to deliver? 

Most states have laws that say the only enforceable contracts are those that are in writing. That means you cannot usually take someone to court over a verbal contract or “handshake” agreement. Business owners will already know this. Contracts that must be provided in writing include property sales, property leases, long-term work contracts, debt contracts, and property transfer. Speak to your lawyer to be sure that your contract is binding. 

Simple disputes might be handled in small claims court depending on jurisdiction. Most business disputes and breach of contract regarding law mean big bucks. Those breaches might be settled out of court, but when one party knows they’re right, it might be worth the time and money to let a judge settle the breach. 

The point is this: you can almost always sue for a breach of contract.

Does Vaccination Change Health Insurance?

Many workers have resisted vaccine mandates out of fear or stubbornness about the lack of freedom. These workers — and their opponents — wonder whether or not vaccination will change health insurance premiums. It probably won’t come as a surprise that many companies are punishing workers who decline free vaccines by forcing them to pay more for health insurance benefits.

This push is meant to increase vaccination rates without attracting attention. For example, Delta Airlines said that unvaccinated employees will be charged an extra $200 a month for health insurance. This change started earlier this month.

Is it legal?

Courts will have the ultimate say, of course, but…yes, it is legal. Unvaccinated workers have a higher likelihood of contracting coronavirus and coming down with COVID-19. When they get sick and end up in the hospital, they are at least partially financially protected by their health insurance policies. But because the costs are the result of a personal decision not to receive the vaccine, health insurance providers are much more likely to increase the costs shared by an employer. This is why most employers are completely on board with the vaccination push.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, “This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company.”

Many people believe that this is an overreach on the part of governments, employers, and health insurance providers. Law firms have compared the increased premiums for some people to those incurred by new drivers. A 16-year-old driver pays higher premiums than a driver who has been on the road for ten years without an accident. It all comes down to risk.

Other employers have started a new COVID-19 “risk pool” to share the costs with employees. Everyone contributes. When an employee comes down with COVID-19 and misses work, that employee takes funds from the pool — but they’re safe.

Did COVID-19 Change Business Insurance Policies?

Business insurance is normally purchased by a business owner in order to protect the business from specific losses. These might include natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. They might also include violence by an employee or customer. They might include protection for infestation. Any of these protections arise because the business loses profit when it is forced to close.

Many business owners discovered that COVID-19 was not among those protections. Most plans did not cover losses that arose when the businesses were forced to close. Owners could still rely on government subsidies, but these were slow to roll out and only helped mitigate losses rather than eliminate them.

Many business owners ended up in court, but judges routinely sided with insurers. The good news? On either side, most people won’t make the same mistake twice. Insurers are making it clear to those purchasing business insurance that the business will require protections against specific public health issues to avoid the same pitfalls that arose during the pandemic — and because the pandemic is ongoing, this insurance is limited. It’s harder to acquire health insurance when a person is already sick, for example.

Even so, several states have already introduced legislation that would force insurers to cover COVID-19 losses. This trend is similar to what occurred after 9/11 when insurers began offering business protections due to terrorism in response to public and private criticism. What will the federal government do? Right now, we’re not sure. But Democrats are in power, and they support people over business. They might not have time to get anything substantial done before 2022, though, when the power could vanish.

One aspect of business insurance that changed more than expected? Protecting business assets in the digital space versus the brick and mortar one. Many employees are still working from home even now, late into 2021. Many business owners have no intention of bringing them back — or are simply waiting for business insurance to make it worthwhile. Without a brick and mortar space to protect, policyholders have less incentive to purchase or upgrade a plan. In fact, they might have more incentive to throw it in the trash.

It’s worth mentioning that insurers have responded to these changes by employing new technology. These new methods include more streamlined customer data analytic tech, or integrating information across multiple platforms like mobile and website with a call center. This saves insurers money.

This is in line with what business owners are already doing. For example, policyholders already showed an interest in downsizing through automation — but the 2020 pandemic jumpstarted this transition. During the pandemic, business owners discovered new opportunities to sell goods and services to online consumers who weren’t already a part of the market.

Do you need to change or alter your business insurance? You should consult with a qualified lawyer first. Additional information is available on www.sederlaw.com.

This is an example of a news cycle during the height of the pandemic in 2020, when many were promoting the fear that insurers could be put out of business if courts sided with entrepreneurs:

What To Know About The Affordable Care Act In 2022

Shopping for health insurance on the Obamacare marketplace in 2022? There are a few changes to the law you might want to know about. First, most healthcare options became cheaper once the marketplace opened back up for business when President Biden took office. Those cheaper options are still available through next year — and more than likely, the savings will continue over time.

No matter what kind of plan you choose, ensure that it is an ACA-compliant plan. Those that are not do not offer the same protections. ACA-compliant plans offer the “10 essential health benefits.” These include many preventative practices and coverage for new parents. 

Another thing to keep in mind? There are many copycat websites trying to take advantage of new enrollees in order to steal sensitive information like date of birth and social security number. This allows them to take a person’s identity or hack into bank accounts. Be sure that you’re on the right website!

Before selecting a plan, you will be asked for information such as household income. Make sure  you do the math right because premiums are based on these numbers.

Because the mandate for health insurance was discarded under former president Trump, you don’t need to purchase insurance. But you might want to anyway. Healthcare subsidies are the largest they have ever been and might very well eliminate the cost of purchasing a plan completely. It’s worth the peace of mind.

Don’t worry about the ACA’s future. Many conservative politicians have expressed continued interest in dismantling the law, but even the conservative-dominated Supreme Court has continually discarded these arguments. Most Americans like Obamacare now that we know the conservative scare tactics are nonsense, so the law will be extremely difficult to throw in the trash. And even if it were, you will still have coverage through 2022. Sign up!

You can find additional information on the ACA and available plans at www.healthcare.gov.

What Does The Economic Relief Package Do To Supplement Health Insurance?

One of the biggest deficiencies in the American system of health insurance is that there is very little standardization. Each plan is different. And the devil is in the details, as they say. Your plan might not cost much in weekly or monthly premiums, but it probably won’t provide much of a benefit either. A yearly checkup and a few prescription drugs? No problem. But an emergency room visit that leaves you responsible for paying off a high deductible before your health insurance kicks in a dime? Huge problem.

The harsh reality is that a person can be insured on any plan and still be financially ruined due to COVID-19. The economic relief package passed into law by Democrats addresses some of these concerns.

Director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation at Families USA Stan Dorn said, “If Congress can circle back and make these improvements permanent, it will go a long way toward making insurance affordable in this country.”

Civil rights attorney John Stackett said, “One of the biggest issues with previous relief packages was that they provided protections that disproportionately left minority groups out in the cold. The Biden package does better, but it probably still doesn’t go far enough. Right now, families living below the family line will receive a small payment monthly for the rest of the year. We needed that terribly, and we hope to see an extension in the future.”

What does all this mean? Essentially, it means that health insurance is still far too expensive for many working families in the United States. But by providing what is basically a universal basic income (UBI) for parents, Democrats have found a round-about wait to make insurance payments more manageable. The trick is getting the payments renewed after this year — but as we already know, it’s very difficult to take away this kind of benefit once people have it. And Republicans will have to struggle for how to respond to this when they’re running in the midterm elections next year.

Biden has also ensured that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will stay available for months, which is great for people who lose employer-provided coverage. Many citizens are still out of work, and they need healthcare coverage now more than ever. 

The American Rescue Plan Act also removes repayment requirements for premium tax credits, which should go a long way into helping families who don’t have any extra funds on hand to pay them. It’s worth noting that those who use the ACA to find coverage must update demographic information now in order to guarantee these changes have the desired effect. 

How Is “Insurance Law” Defined — And Who Needs It?

To say insurance law is a complicated subject is no exaggeration. The average American has a limited understanding of insurance to begin with. The basics are simple enough: insurance is a contract, usually between two parties. The first party wishes to purchase a policy to become insured against the financial damages of certain outcomes. For example, if you get sick, health insurance helps. If you get into a car accident, car insurance helps. Home burned down? Homeowners insurance helps. Simple, right? 

Not so fast.

Behind the scenes, everything is a bit more complicated. Insurance companies are rich. They’re rich because the insurers are often insured — sometimes with literal insurance, and sometimes through insurance defense attorneys. These are lawyers hired by the insurance company to protect both of the aforementioned parties in case of lawsuit. 

Attorneys will also help the insurer cross all the “T’s” and dot all the “I’s” to reduce the opportunity for a third party to sue. The insured can also hire insurance attorneys to protect them in case an insurer decides not to pay up when it should. Keep in mind that insurance companies are rich for two reasons: first, they push people to purchase insurance even when statistically unnecessary (i.e. make sure you have it before you need it) and second, they do everything in their power to find a reason not to pay out claims.

Even attorneys who don’t practice insurance law will know a little about the subject. Personal injury attorneys will routinely represent car accident victims — and getting compensation for those victims often includes in-depth discussions with car insurance providers who represent both the victim and the person at fault. Real estate or estate planning attorneys will nearly always recommend that clients take out homeowners insurance policies. They know the ins and outs.  

The short answer to the second part of our question — who needs insurance? — is simple: Everyone needs insurance. Whether we like it or not, that’s how the system works.

Stimulus Payments Delayed For Social Security Recipients — Because Of Trump?

We already knew that payments for the economic relief package most recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden were delayed for certain groups of people — but now we may have a better idea of why. House Democrats believe that delays for the $1400 individual payments may have been purposely delayed by former Trump employees in the Social Security Administration.

Those waiting on social security disability checks are accustomed to long wait periods — even being approved for SSDI can take two years — but experts warn that lives could be lost in the interim.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) said, “We understand that these beneficiaries are waiting because the Social Security Administration has not sent the necessary payment files to the Internal Revenue Service.”

An SSA spokesperson said, “Social Security staff is working day and night with Treasury and IRS representatives to ensure that the electronic file of Social Security and SSI recipients is complete, accurate, and ready to be used to issue payments.”

Once the SSA provides the requisite information, it could be a week or two before anyone currently on social security receives a check.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig provided his testimony at a Ways and Means Committee hearing: “Many of these folks are also entitled to an [earned income tax credit]. They’re also entitled to a child tax credit. We did not get that information from the non-filer portal.”

The current head of the SSA wants to implement deep cuts to the organization, which is a non-started for Congressional Democrats. If it seems strange that a Trump appointee would want to make cuts to the programs he oversees, don’t forget that he also appointed a climate change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When Trump wanted to gut funding for a particular organization, he attacked from within.

Those still waiting on relief payments can visit the “Get My Payment” portal to find out if the check has already been sent.

The House Ways and Means Committee released a written statement to explain the delays: “The American Rescue Plan was intended to provide much-needed economic stimulus and assistance to people across the country — immediately — and we are counting on your agencies to ensure that beneficiaries are not left behind in the seamless delivery of those payments.”

It continued, “However, we were alarmed to learn recently that most Social Security, SSI, RRB, and VA beneficiaries who are not required to file a tax return have not yet received their payments and the IRS is unable to provide an expected timeline for these payments. Some of our most vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities, including veterans who served our country with honor, are unable to pay for basic necessities while they wait for their overdue payments.”

Are you an SSDI or SS recipient? There’s no need to worry if you normally file taxes with the IRS. Your information should be on file and your payment should be scheduled normally.

Insurance Terminology You Need To Know: Part VI

Have you ever needed to purchase an insurance policy but been at a loss when you try to read the plan they offer you? There are dozens of new terms you won’t know that are defined by other strange words you won’t know! And how about when you actually need to file a claim for damages based on that insurance policy? It can be a disaster waiting to happen and a certain win for the insurance company if you can’t even discuss the basics. That’s why we’re determined to help you learn some of the most common insurance-related jargon. Here are a few more!

Broker.

This word refers to the person — usually a third party — responsible for connecting an insurer to the soon-to-be new policy owner. Brokers always take a commission, because that’s what leeches do.

Builders’ Risk Policies.

These policies protect construction companies from any losses incurred during construction. Misplaced beam, building falls down? No problem. The “builders’ risk” policy will cover the damage.

Book Value.

The book value of a transaction is the original cost of the transaction. 

Calendar Year Deductible.

Usually, you’ll see the word “deductible” on an insurance policy — and hopefully you’ll realize that the usually very large amount next to the word is what you have to pay before the insurance company will give you a dime. A calendar year deductible means that you have to pay that usually very large amount every year. 

Carrying Value.

This phrase is the book value in addition to accrued interest of a particular policy. 

Cash Equivalent.

These are flexible investments that can easily be turned into “not investments” (i.e. cash). These investments are usually mature and not subject to random, risky bouts of fluctuation. They’re the opposite of, say, penny stocks. Never invest in penny stocks unless you’re into losing huge amounts of cash.