The holidays are a time for family, food, and fun. A house fire is the last thing on our minds. So, it’s easy to overlook the potential fire risk from common holiday items such as candles, indoor trees, and twinkle lights. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 47,000 fires take place during the holiday season and, tragically, one in thirty-one Christmas tree fires result in death.
California is suffering unprecedented devastation as wildfires spread through both rural and urban communities. Many of our colleagues, clients and business partners in the affected regions are facing evacuations, fear of the unknown and in some cases, loss of property. In the midst of a crisis, it can be hard to know what to do or how to help. We put together a quick list of resources, depending on individual needs.
For up to the minute updates on wildfire progression and evacuation areas, visit Cal Fire’s Incident Information page: http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents
If you are a homeowner and have a home that was lost or damaged as a result of the fire, contact your broker right away.
If you are a business owner and have suffered a loss related to your business, once you and your employees are safe, contact your broker right away.
If you are not currently in an area threatened by fire and are concerned about precautions you can take to protect your own home or business, contact your broker to discuss the best plans and policies to have in place.
With the effects of El Niño in full swing, homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of the potential damage flooding can do to a home. Recent news clips feature homeowners standing in their living rooms up to their ankles in muddy water. So, it’s no wonder people are asking me what they need to do to protect themselves from a huge flood loss.
The first thing to note: A typical homeowners policy does not include flood coverage. While they cover water damage from a broken pipe, it does not cover damage caused by “an overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or mudflow” (1). Essentially, any flooding from the outside is not covered by homeowners insurance, unless it’s caused by a covered loss, such as wind. The only sure way to safeguard your home from a flood caused by El Niño is to purchase flood insurance.
Successful people often share a common trait: Optimism. I meet with people daily who dreamed the impossible dream, and though there were some bumps along the journey, their unwavering positivity made dreams come true.
I’ve also noticed that when it comes to protecting their hard-earned assets, this eternal optimism can leave them vulnerable. Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society where one personal lawsuit can undo years of hard work and cause significant financial damage to even the wealthiest individuals. Without proper coverage, they can potentially leave themselves unprotected.
How Much of Your Net Worth is Exposed?
One way to assess whether you have enough protection is to consider your net worth. For example, a client has a net worth of $10M, yet their current plan only provides $500,000 underlying liability for their personal home and auto coverage. This leaves $9.5M of their personal net worth exposed.
In a lawsuit, a limit of $500,000 is almost worthless if the claim is over their covered limits. Therefore, it is wise to consider an umbrella/excess liability policy which gives you added protection if you are sued.
- An excess liability policy kicks in when the underlying limits on your home or auto policy have been exhausted.
- An umbrella policy fills in the gaps in coverage.
If you are ever involved in a lawsuit, you need to be prepared. More often than not, people are sued and don’t have extra protection to block the plaintiff from going after personal assets. While it may be difficult to think of a situation where you may not be covered, consider the following real life scenarios.
In maritime tradition, the captain is said to “go down with the ship.” But must the ship go down with the captain? This is the metaphorical question behind an insurance coverage called Key Person. Key Person is insurance that protects a business in the event that a key employee dies—the company owns and is the beneficiary of the policy.
The loss of any person in an organization is devastating. The loss of a person who is critical to the company’s operations, sales or decision-making can instantly multiply the impact of that loss. What would your organization do if something happened to your CFO? Or how about that long-term colleague who is the backbone of your company? Have you ever thought about how your company would function without them? Regardless of the size of the business or organization, there is always at least one person that is critical to the firm’s success.
Facing mortality is uncomfortable for most people and planning ahead for an unforeseen loss is a difficult subject, but for those responsible for the longevity of a company, it is an important coverage to consider.
Key Person Insurance protects a business by addressing the financial impact of losing a key person in the company. With the coverage in place, a claim would provide funds to:
- Offset interrupted or lost cash flow from reduced sales or company earnings
- Hire a temporary substitute
- Offset the expense of attracting and hiring a qualified replacement
Most executives overlook this type of insurance, because it’s not something they want to think about or plan for. Captains don’t think about going down with or without the ship. However, Key Person Life Insurance could be your saving grace in the event that an unforeseeable death takes place. Key Person Life Insurance can help keep a business going strong, even if tragedy should strike.
Blowing out 65 candles on your birthday cake means more than just getting a senior discount at the movies. For many of my clients it means deciding whether to stay on their group health plan or switch to Medicare. As a Client Executive, I have the opportunity to help individuals navigate through their options. Over the years, there are two questions I am often asked by clients as they reach 65.
Question 1: I’m enrolled in a group health plan and turning 65. Do I need to enroll in Medicare?
No. According to Medicare guidelines, you may continue on your group health plan if you or your spouse is working and on the group health plan that is associated with that employment.
Question 2: I’m retiring at the end of the year, enrolled in a group health plan and am over 65 years old. When do I apply for Medicare?
It is best to apply for Medicare 3 months before retirement. Because you have been on a group health plan, you will not be penalized. Once you have Medicare and supplemental coverage, this will allow you to come off your group health plan outside of Open Enrollment.
If you are turning 65 and you continue to be an active employee, we recommend that you consider your options regarding your healthcare plan. Sometimes it is less expensive to join a Medicare plan than remain on the current employer-provided group plan. Every situation is different, so it’s a matter of looking at cost, preferences and your personal needs.
There are two major things to consider when deciding to enroll in Medicare or stay on your group health plan:
It’s the law. The Affordable Care Act requires the large majority of U.S. citizens and legal residents to have health insurance (or pay a penalty if they don’t). Hopefully, your benefit eligible employees have joined your employer sponsored health plan or have obtained coverage through their spouse. But how are you helping your part-time employees or those who are not eligible for health insurance with their coverage? Although it’s not required for you to do so, your part-timers may feel more supported if you do!
Check out our list of important information for employees who aren’t eligible for your company benefits to help them purchase affordable health coverage for the upcoming year!
Starting November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015, individuals seeking health insurance can take advantage of the annual open enrollment period in the Public Marketplace. In addition to purchasing Public Marketplace coverage, individuals will also have the opportunity to purchase a private health plan outside of the Public Marketplace. Both of these are opportunities for those employees who were not eligible for your company sponsored benefits, or those that chose not to take your coverage, to buy a new policy or plan.
WHO THIS EFFECTS
Your part-time or ineligible employees will want to pay attention to the upcoming open enrollment period of the Marketplace and private health plans, particularly if they did not enroll in your group health plan during the last enrollment period, or want to change to a Marketplace or private health plan. Additionally, employees who experienced a qualifying event but did not enroll in time after their qualifying event took place would also be able to take advantage of these plan alternatives.
This time of year I’m reminded of all the young adults going back to school. Reflecting on those milestone moments with my own children, I recall not wanting to miss the chance to share some of what I had learned through my own experiences.
As parents, sometimes we struggle with walking that fine line between guiding our children yet allowing them the chance to experience life and learn for themselves, hoping you have set a good example. It can be a tough balance at times.
The same thing is true for leaders. While our colleagues and associates are obviously not our kids, there is some parallel due to what I think is a leader’s inherent responsibility -- to make a wise choice between giving specific direction versus setting an example and allowing things to unfold.
Small Business Owner Jim Elliott on Choosing Marsh & McLennan Agency (formally Barney & Barney) for All of His Insurance Needs
Like most family-owned businesses, Ann and Jim Elliott, previous owners of Western Graphics, have decades of hard work behind them. Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA) was privileged to watch their success grow and today, Jim and Ann Elliott are one of B&B’s longest-standing clients.
Over 40 years ago, Jim took weekly trips from San Diego to Sacramento where he walked the halls of the capital, selling direct mail services to legislators. After two years, Ann and Jim made the bold move to start their own company. In 1974 they launched Western Graphics, a direct mail marketing company in Lemon Grove, California. Initially, the company printed and mailed newsletters for members of the Legislature. The company grew to provide consulting services, printing, and mailing for commercial and non-profit organizations as well as political campaigns. In 2007, Jim and Ann sold Western Graphics.
Jim now works for Eye/Comm as the Marketing Consultant and has taught classes on Direct Mail at SDSU, USD, and UCSD. With multiple prestigious awards under his belt, such as the Margaret Sellers Lifetime Achievement Award and the Luke Kaiser Award for Direct Mail Education, Jim is a direct marketing expert.
We recently spoke with Jim about his 40 year history with MMA.
A college diploma is one of life’s most important assets.
So, too, is creating a safety net to handle the contingencies life may throw at you now that you’re out of school.
For graduating college students, one of the smartest ways to protect yourself is to minimize one of the biggest liabilities out there – medical expenses that can set you back for years.
Today, having health insurance is also important for another reason: To make sure you’re not fined for breaking the law. As of January 1, 2014, the federal Affordable Care Act requires most individuals to maintain minimum essential coverage for themselves.
To help graduates, as well as current college students, Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA) has a comprehensive healthcare insurance program. Here’s a brief overview of the kinds of plans available to help you make an intelligent choice.