Tips For Choosing Small Business Insurance

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve chosen one of the most challenging yet potentially rewarding career paths available to anyone. You’re doing your part to jolt your regional economy, and you should be proud of your individual achievements. That doesn’t make any of the obstacles you face any easier, of course. Here are a few tips for choosing insurance if you’re a small business owner. They could make your life a whole lot easier down the road.

One of the most common injuries in the food service industry is the slip and fall. Although most employers require employees to wear slip-resistant footwear, accidents still happen. Those floors need to be mopped nightly in order to keep the building on par with health regulations and guidelines, and that means things get slippery. As a small business owner, you need to make sure you’re insured for injuries like these.

If you work in construction, food service, retail, or any other industry, you should have a general idea of the risks inherent to your business. Those risks will determine your insurance requirements. What kind of workers compensation, disability insurance, and unemployment benefits will you be required to provide? These are simple questions that need to be asked and answered, especially when figuring out your bottom line. Opening a business the right way isn’t cheap.

You’re certainly heard the phrase “you break it you buy it” but that doesn’t really hold weight in court. You need to not only protect your business from theft, but other forms of shrink as well. There are many insurance options out there, so think carefully before you decide the right ones for you. In addition, find out what kind of accidents your insurance coverage will provide. Do you have protection against fire damage or flooding? You should.

An agent can help you determine the best options for your small business, but you should also be on the constant lookout for easy discounts. You might find that combining policies could save you some money. Before you make a final decision, ask about what you can add or delete from your insurance package to spare yourself a more painful headache down the road.

Is Identity Theft Insurance Worth It?

Identity theft can take place in many shapes and forms, but it’s usually done for financial gain. In other cases, it occurs because an individual would like to assume your identity in order to better blend in with society. The threat is becoming better realized these days. The number of ways that criminals can steal your identity is growing as well, and so we should all take the appropriate steps to defend ourselves. Identity theft insurance could be one way to do just that, but only if you want limited protection.

According to a 2017 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research, at least $16 billion has been funneled away from unassuming victims in just 2016 alone. Of the 330 million U.S. citizens, at least 15.4 million fell victim to identity theft in 2016. If you do the math, then you’ve probably figured out that over a lifetime it’s more than likely you’ll be attacked–more than once.

Even worse than that? That number acknowledges two million more victims than were attacked in 2015, only one year earlier.

Most identity theft insurance policies will actively monitor your accounts for wrong-doing, and make you aware if they find any illicit activity. Two things to note about this: first, most big banks provide this service to prevent fraud anyway, and they actively take steps to track down the perpetrators after it happens. Second, insurance policies do not take those next steps. All they do is make you aware of what already happened. Taking the next step is on you, the victim.

Insurance policies won’t freeze funds to prevent criminals from accessing them. After you’ve been hit and you need to respond, your policy probably won’t offer much in the way of reimbursement. It’s not like flood protection or renters insurance. You’re not going to recover even a fraction of what you stood to lose in the first place. In fact, insurance policies only offer limited protection from a couple types of fraud, which leaves you open to plenty of others.

At the end of the day, you’re better off trying to find a lawyer who specializes in helping the victims of identity theft and fraud. You’re a lot more likely to gain compensation for your losses.

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.

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 with so many FAQs.

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.”

WHAT MIGHT TRUMPCARE DO TO INSURANCE MARKETS?

It started as ObamaCare.

Now TrumpCare is being threatened, though no one seems to have much idea what it will look like. And with all the relative volatility calming down of late, would any adjustments to the Affordable Care Act send the insurance market into more chaotic turmoil?

In the aftermath of the Republican-controlled Congress failing on its best chance to repeal ObamaCare – which the GOP had campaigned on in each of the last three congressional election cycles since the CA was signed into law in 2010 – the Trump Administration has been working on moving on from ObamaCare repeal and was instead working on making ObamaCare more palatable while all the evidence shows it was collapsing in its current form.

Where legal, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is working to ease some of the regulatory burden on consumers and insurers to make the ACA truly more affordable. However, just as that happens, President Trump has been threatening to take away the federal subsidies that insurance companies receive to help mitigate the huge premium increases that have happened every year since the law went into full effect.

Insurance companies have been pulling out of the various state and federal exchanges in order to mitigate losses, and that meant several counties nationwide having either zero or one insurance company in the exchanges, severely limiting options for consumers. And now with the threat of subsidies being removed, that may send the entire insurance industry into an accelerated death spiral, as premiums would likely increase more exponentially to cover the lost subsidy money.

Would that move collapse the insurance market, or open up more competition and perhaps lower prices for insurance? And what about the insurance mandate, which Trump has said would get repealed? If insurance companies don’t get subsidies, and people aren’t going to be penalized for not buying insurance, could the insurance market survive with this stretching out of the universe of consumers?

The latest about health-care has Trump looking to move away from his campaign promise of repealing and replacing the ACA, to now talking with a bipartisan group of congressional members about a “fix” of ObamaCare – though there are no details about what that fix may entail. And of course it leads to the question of whether the law will actually be “fixed” in a way that will favor consumers, or “fixed” in favoring a certain agenda toward either more free-market insurance markets or a lurch into single-payer, socialized healthcare.

Now that Trump’s promise of repeal seems to be off the table, TrumpCare now looks like it might be a “fixed” version of ObamaCare. The real question is whether that fix will be for the benefit of consumers  or for the government. There is no middle ground.

The insurance marketplace was just starting to stabliize after six years, but then the uncertainty of repeal now being replaced by “fix” options. With some insurance companies actually doing a little better now than before (more because of pulling out of individual exchanges to shed costs, rather than gaining more customers), more uncertainty is sure to keep the market on its toes and in continual chaos for the foreseeable future. Chaos is not good for consumers, nor for the economy.

Do I Really Need Health Insurance?

Good health is a right bestowed on us by our Creator.

Health insurance is there to help cover many of the expenses that come with what we sometimes need to keep ourselves healthy. But with the American health-insurance market in a shambles by many reports, the question does arise: Do I really need health insurance after all, or am I better off paying the “tax penalty” for not having coverage according to the Affordable Care Act?

There is an expectation for everyone to have health insurance, but whether you need it individually depends on your situation.

First of all, health insurance does not guarantee you health care. It is not a voucher for health care – you can always get health care whenever you need it. The key word here is “insurance” – which means it exists to pay for major costs that might otherwise bankrupt your family yet is deemed necessary for your health (major surgery such as a transplant, cancer treatments, etc.).

Before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, many people had two kinds of policies that fit the bill in protecting families from huge expenses from major doctor and hospital costs – the Health Savings Account, and a catastrophic-coverage policy that covered major medical events and emergencies. Thanks to the ACA, these types of policies have been greatly restricted and even eliminated in some markets.

If you are currently sitting down and thinking about or discussing health coverage and whether it is a need in your household budget, consider asking yourself some questions:

  • What is your annual household income?
  • Do you have debts (including a mortgage)?
  • Do you have a medical history?
  • Do you have an emergency fund of savings (four to six months of expenses)?
  • Do you have children? How many, and ages?
  • What is the health history of your children?
  • Do you have a religious or moral objection to health insurance?
  • What is the value of your assets?

There is a lot of commentary that health insurance is a necessity, even for regular checkups and routine follow-up exams. Believe it or not, cash can go a long way to keep medical costs down, and regular office visits and check-ups are not so expensive as to challenge family budgets. Whether you need insurance depends on your personal situation based on the questions above.

While insurers are required to pay for follow-up care as well as annual checkups, you don’t need insurance for those events. Some compare health insurance to car insurance, which is only similar in that it is supposed to protect your assets from large bills or lawsuit judgments. But if you have a large enough income, sizable savings and a lot of assets, you could be considered “self-insured,” which means you won’t need health insurance. Also, if you use alternative methods of health care outside of modern medicine (such as acupuncture, chiropractic, Christian Science or other faith-based healing treatments), you won’t necessarily need health insurance either, as many of these alternative providers don’t take health insurance or their treatments are inexpensive and can be covered in family budgets.

Insurance comes down to your household and whether you want to protect your “stuff” in order to keep your family healthy. This is something that will involve an honest discussion with a financial planner who can walk you through your financial situation and can help you determine if the government-compliant health insurance is truly necessary.

What Happens If You Are Injured By An Uninsured Driver?

Car accidents are universally terrifying, and for most of us so is insurance. Although the vast majority of us fall under one insurance policy or another, we usually fail to recognize all the finer points of those policies. Under which circumstances are you covered? What if a dog runs in front of your vehicle and you hit someone after swerving to avoid him? What if an asteroid slams into your car trunk and spews paint chips at the car behind you? What if you are injured by an irresponsible driver who has no insurance? Indeed, sometimes dealing with insurance claims after an accident can be just as terrifying and stress-inducing as the accident itself.

So what should you do when you’re injured by an uninsured driver?

Well, first thing’s first: enlist the services of a personal injury attorney who knows what he or she is doing. Shop around, take advantage of free consultations to talk about the ins and outs of an eventual case, and choose the one who is best for you.

Usually, car insurance falls under a couple of different categories that could become relevant should you get into an accident with an uninsured driver. You may have either 1) uninsured motorist coverage OR 2) underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured motorist coverage is what it sounds like. Basically, if you get into an accident with a driver who has no insurance, your insurance provider will still help cover the costs of any injuries or damages that result. Although this type of insurance is almost always offered by the provider, you may have neglected to opt-in, and that could mean trouble if you need to file a claim. A few states require this type of coverage, but not all.

Underinsured motorist coverage is similar. If you’re in an accident with a driver who has insurance, but the policy won’t cover the costs of all your injuries or damage to your car, then your own policy will fulfill the rest.

One thing you should know: these types of insurance only come into play if the uninsured (or underinsured) driver is found to be at fault for the accident. If the accident was your fault, it’s a whole different thing and you should talk your options over with your lawyer before you say anything to your insurance company (or the policy). In addition, the time frame you usually have to make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim is usually extremely limited and you absolutely must present your case to your lawyer as soon as possible in order to guarantee you get the compensation you deserve.

These kinds of things are nearly impossible to deal with on your own, which is why you got help from an attorney. Your legal representation will walk you through not only what you need to know, but who to talk to (or who not to talk to), when and what to do, and what to expect when the case is concluded. You deserve compensation for both your physical and emotional trauma and in most cases you will get it.

Explanation of Liability Insurance

The insurance policy which provides an individual or a business protection from the risk of them being sued and held legally responsible for situations such as injury, negligence or malpractice is called liability insurance, according to a long term care planning attorney Staten Island. Both legal costs as well as any legal payouts that the insured could be held responsible for, if they were found to be legally liable is covered by liability insurance policies.

There is no government sponsored form of liability insurance, it is still, however, a form of coverage that is important to have. Here are the main kinds of liability insurance:

  • Personal Liability
  • Workers´ Compensation and Employer’s Liability
  • Product Liability Insurance
  • Indemnity Insurance
  • Director and Officer Liability Coverage
  • Umbrella Liability
  • Commercial Liability
  • CGL (Comprehensive General Liability)
  • Homeowner’s Insurance

Personal liability insurance is of course about you and your family´s financial protection. What it covers is bodily injury and property damage sustained by others that you or members of your family may be legally responsible for. Medical Payments to Others coverage is also included in Personal Liability insurance.  It provides the payment of any medical expenses that guest who has accidentally be injured on your property may require. This is regardless of whether you are legally responsible or not.

And of course, business owners are exposed to a wide array of liabilities, any of which are able to subject their assets to claims that are substantial. This is why all business owners must have an asset protection plan in place which is built upon the liability insurance coverage which is available.

Liability insurance is crucial for anyone who may be held legally responsible for others´ injuries, this is especially true for business owners and medical practitioners. It is important to seek professional assistance in determining the type of liability insurance coverage that will best suit your needs and therefore avoid an unnecessary, and frustrating legal and/or financial issues.

Flood Insurance Will Help Protect Your Home And Belongings In Case Of A Flood

Depending on the location of your home, you may be required to purchase flood insurance. Many insurance companies won’t cover a home that sits in a flood zone if the owner doesn’t have flood insurance. Regular renters and homeowners insurance do not cover damage from flooding. A homeowner must purchase a separate flood insurance policy. The only flood insurance policies through the federal government cover any flood-related losses or damage.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) runs the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This insurance is sold by private insurance companies but the coverage is provided by the federal government.

It isn’t difficult to purchase flood insurance. Private insurers will often work with the Federal government to offer flood insurance. In order to get flood insurance, the home must be located in a community which participates in the NFIP. There are currently about 100 hundred insurance companies which sell NFIP policies.

Flood insurance doesn’t cost much and is important to have if there is a possibility of flooding in your area. The average annual cost is around $140 a year. This premium will increase according to the amount of coverage required and the likelihood of a flood. The maximum amount of insurance under the NFIP is $275,000 for structural damage and another $100,000 for personal property loss.

Homeowners must wait 30 days after purchase before flood insurance takes effect. There are more than 20,000 communities across the country which are part of the NFIP. If a homeowner isn’t sure about their area, they can check with the online FloodSmart Tool by entering their zip code.

It is also possible to purchase excess flood insurance from private insurance companies. This insurance will cover losses over and above what the NFIP insurance covers. A homeowner must have NFIP flood insurance before they can qualify for excess flood insurance.