Is a Commercial Auto Policy Right for You?

Using the right tool for a job is key to success in any profession.  The same principle applies when selecting an auto insurance policy.  The right type of policy can help ensure that you, your employees, and your business are protected.  The advantage of commercial auto policies is that they can be tailored to suit the needs and risks of business vehicle operators.

Talk to your This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to determine whether a commercial auto policy is right for you.  Here are some questions to help you get the conversation started:

Traveling abroad can be an exciting, adventurous experience.  At times, it can be unsafe.  You may encounter risks such as political unrest, changes in sanitation, untamed wildlife, and less than perfect travel conditions.

While these risks may add to the adventure, have you considered what might happen if you or one of your traveling companions becomes ill or is injured?  Gaining access to quality healthcare and pharmaceuticals may not be what you’re used to.  Plus, your health insurance policy may offer limited to no coverage outside the U.S.  Many health insurance policies cover emergencies abroad but medical charges will be out of network, which means your out-of-pocket costs will be extreme.  Furthermore, Medicare and Social Security will not cover you beyond U.S. borders.

Illness, injury, and medical treatment are the last things you want to worry about abroad.  If you’re concerned, you might consider purchasing a short-term travel medical insurance policy to ease your mind.  These types of travel insurance policies help pay for medical expenses you might incur while abroad.  Some policies even offer access to customer service centers to help you navigate foreign medical systems.  And if you do become ill or injured, you won’t return home owing huge amounts of money to foreign healthcare systems or your health insurance carrier for massive out-of-pocket costs.

If you are interested in learning more about short-term travel medical insurance policies, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Bon voyage!

Not everyone who rents a home or apartment realizes it, but just as a homeowner should have insurance to cover accidents to or on their property, renters also need insurance.  If a tree falls onto the roof of a home you are renting, the landlord’s homeowners policy will pay for the repairs.  But who pays for damage caused to items you had stored in the attic, your broken china or collectible stained glass?  You will – unless you have renters insurance.  Here is another example: should someone shatter a window while you’re away on vacation, the landlord’s homeowners policy will cover the glass, but not your stolen audio equipment.  Renters insurance also provides liability protection should someone become injured on or off the rental property and decides to sue you.

Renters insurance covers a wide range of catastrophes.  Most types will insure your belongings against lightning strikes, fire and smoke, hail, explosions, water damage from sprinkler systems, broken pipes or other interior cause, electrical charges and the like.  Many policies cover a range of natural disasters, although the more likely such disasters are in a given area, the more likely they are to be excluded from a basic policy.

Before purchasing renters insurance, you will want to review the options.  For example, an actual cash value policy might be a good fit for renters who prefer to make lower payments and own newer furniture and appliances.  Conversely, renters with older but functional belongings may get better protection with a replacement cost policy, as the replacement cost would be considerably more than their belongings’ actual cash value.  It is also important to understand the deductible and the total dollar amount of the coverage.

Renters should also consider the difference between “all risk” and “named peril” insurance policies.  “All risk” policies are written to insure against every possible disaster except those that are specifically excluded.  For example, if a water line breaks and causes water damage to your property, the insurer can only refuse to pay if damage due to water line breaks was specifically excluded from your “all risk” policy.  If you own a “named peril” policy however, covered risks are specifically listed.  In this case, damage due to water line breaks would have to be specifically included in the policy’s list of perils before the insurer would pay out.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. The Starr Agency if you are interested in reviewing your need for renters insurance, have questions, or want to learn more.  We can help.


Grandfathered Health Plans & Defining Adult Children Under the PPACA

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) redefined “dependent” to include adult children to age 26.  The provision became effective September 23, 2010, and except for grandfathered plans, applied to all group and individual health insurance plans.

Defining Adult Children Under the PPACAUnder the new definition of dependent, all adult children to age 26 are considered eligible whether or not they are married, in school, living at home, financially independent, or qualified to enroll in their own employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

To date, there has been one exception:  grandfathered group plans are not required to extend health insurance plans to adult children to age 26IFthey are eligible to enroll in their own employer-sponsored health insurance plan.  This exception for grandfathered health plans, however, will expire in 2014.  After the first renewal date in 2014, grandfathered health plans will be required to extend health insurance to adult children up to 26, regardless of their eligibility to enroll in their own employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

Please be aware of this change as you look toward your 2014 renewal.  Those of you with grandfathered plans may need to consider how including adult children will affect your plan.  Keep  in mind that some carriers may have elected to cover children regardless of their eligibility to enroll in a different employer-sponsored health insurance plan.  If you have questions, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further assistance.

In October, we reported that federa lSmall Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchanges would not be availableonlineuntil an unspecified date in November.  The latest news out of Washington is that the Obama Administration hopes to have online SHOP exchange enrollment available by the end of November.

New Timeframe for Online SHOP Exchange EnrollmentWhile testifying before Capitol Hill on October 29, Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, claimed SHOP would be fully operational at that time.  Businesses interested in SHOP should note that in order for health insurance to go into effect January 1, employees must be enrolled by December 15, 2013.

One alternative to enrolling online through SHOP is to use the services of an insurance broker.  Qualified brokers can either help you navigate SHOP or present you with healthcare benefit options sent directly from carriers.  If you have questions about what the new timeframe could mean for you or are interested in reviewing your options for healthcare benefits, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On a similar note, the Spanish language version of is still not operational.  During her testimony, Tavenner mentioned that the government expects it will also be ready by the end of November.