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Monthly Archives

August 2014

When Should You Consider Pet Insurance?

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Anyone with a pet understands how expensive medical treatment can be. However, you would do anything to help your pet remain healthy and enjoy a high quality of life. Pet insurance can assist you with paying for your pet’s medical care, but learn more about it so you can decide when to purchase this type of insurance coverage.

1. Do you have money to pay for your pet’s medical care?

Because pet insurance reimburses you for the medical treatment your pet needs, you must be able to pay your bill and the deductible upfront. Being able to choose the veterinarian of your choice is an upside of this condition to pet insurance.

2. How old is your pet?

Remember that your pet’s needs today will differ from what it needs in five or ten years, so consider a policy that covers care into the future.

3. Do you have time to research plans?

Pet insurance plans offer varied coverage and don’t all cost the same amount. You’ll want to research plans before deciding if you should buy a policy and which one is best for your needs.

4. Is your pet covered?

Some pet insurance policies cover only certain dog breeds. Others might not cover your pet bird, hamster or snake. Read the fine print to ensure your specific pet is covered under your insurance policy.

Likewise, check to see if your policy covers pre-existing conditions. Some plans don’t, and that means you’ll need to purchase coverage while your pet is healthy. If you wait until it’s showing signs of aging or has a medical issue, you won’t qualify for a policy until your pet is symptom-free for a period of time.

Your pet deserves exceptional medical care. Decide if a pet insurance policy is right for you, and then discuss your needs with your insurance agent as you care for your pet’s health and well-being.

Protect Your Electronics From Lightning Damage This Summer

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

With summer storms in full force, your valuable electronics are at risk for lightning damage. That’s because lightning can strike anywhere during a storm. It especially likes conductors, such as your TV antenna, satellite dish and telephone and electrical wires. These conductors allow lightning to splash through your home and destroy everything, including your valuable electronics, in its wake. Learn how to protect your electronics this season.

Perform Manual Lightning Protection

To protect your electronics, you could unplug all your electronics as storm approaches. This method is thorough and cheap, but it’s also impractical is you are not home or if a predicted storm doesn’t materialize.

Install Surge Suppressor Protection

Available in three forms, surge suppressors absorb current before it destroys your electronics. Each of the three forms requires no ongoing maintenance after they’re installed. They include:

  • A power block placed over the electrical outlet,
  • A power bar electronics plug into and
  • A stand-alone suppressor in the wall outlet or directly on the breaker panel.

When choosing surge suppressor protection, look for ones with a lifetime warranty because you will have to replace this type of protection immediately if it’s struck by lightning. Likewise, a connected equipment warranty pays for repairs to any electronics that are damaged despite being plugged into the surge suppressor.

Make sure the surge suppressor fully protects all your electronics, too. For example, plug your computer’s power cord into a surge suppressor and make sure the DSL modem is attached to a surge suppressor, as well. The same goes for TVs and gaming systems that require power and an Internet or phone line connection.

Even with your best efforts, lightning strikes may still damage your electronics. Be sure they’re insured under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Record current photos and the serial numbers, model numbers and original cost, too. Then, use your coverage to pay for repairs or buy a new device.

Protect Your Identity as you Take Online Classes

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Any time you get online, including while you take online classes, you run the risk of having your identity stolen. Be vigilant and protect yourself with seven tips.

1. Use multiple email addresses. Separate your school, business and personal email addresses to limit a thief’s access to your information. Change your passwords at least once a month, too.

2. Don’t share information with third parties. Entering a scholarship contest or signing up for a newsletter about careers can be helpful, but will the site sell your name, phone number, or email and home addresses to a third party? Always read the fine print and uncheck the “permission to share your information” box.

3. Use a secure browser as you surf the Internet and make purchases. Start by setting high security options on your browser. Then, shop only at encrypted and secure sites with “https” and a lock symbol on the address bar.

4. Clear the cookies and cache. They store pages you’ve viewed recently and give valuable personal information to anyone with access to your computer.

5. Install spyware protection. Numerous products, including Norton and Kaspersky, protect your computer from keyloggers and other online hijackers. In addition to stopping potential threats, use these software tools to scan your computer for dangers.

6. Avoid spam. Not only does it clutter your inbox, but it can deliver dangerous viruses to your computer. Stop spam by not opening email attachments from people you don’t know or trust. Then, block email addresses from known spam offenders.

7. Share wisely. If you decide to share personal information with a classmate or school-related business, do so wisely. Use your common sense and protect your identity as much as possible by using a pseudonym and concealing your birthday, hometown and other identifiable information.

Online classes advance your career and can be fun. You’ll want to use these seven tips to protect your identity, however. Additionally, consider Identity Protection insurance as an extra layer of security.

Protecting Your Child from Secondary Drowning

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Only one to two percent of drownings are classified as secondary or dry drownings. However, you definitely want to understand this risk and take steps to protect your kids.

What is Secondary Drowning?

When someone struggles underwater and breathes in even a small amount of water, it can trigger spasms in the airway muscles. That water can also cause pulmonary embolism, or fluid build-up in the lungs.

A victim of secondary drowning may walk away after struggling underwater and look or act fine. He or she could drown in his or her own fluids and suffer from brain injury or die within one to 24 hours later, though.

What are the Symptoms of Secondary Drowning?

A victim might show several signs of secondary drowning, including bubbling fluid around the lips, chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath, cough or extreme fatigue. Young children may not be able to verbally express to you if they experience these symptoms, however, and you may not notice them if your child is fussy or tired after a long day. That’s why you need to be vigilant in looking out for signs of secondary drowning after your child experiences a struggle in the water.

What is the Treatment for Secondary Drowning?

Hospital staff will provide oxygen treatment or ventilation for a victim of secondary drowning. Prevention is the best treatment, though, as you:

  • Teach your kids how to swim with confidence and how to be safe in the water.
  • Supervise kids in the pool or bathtub every second.
  • Ensure all adults who supervise kids know CPR techniques for all age groups.
  • Make sure the pool is fenced in with childproof locks.
  • Seek medical treatment immediately for someone who experiences a struggle in the water, even if he or she shows no signs of secondary drowning.

Additionally, verify that your homeowners insurance is up to date. It can cover medical treatments required to save a child from secondary drowning.

Personal Autos in Business, and Business Autos Used Personally.

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

In any traffic accident, two entities can be held liable for damages: the at-fault driver and the vehicle owner. Insurance companies generally view the vehicle’s insurance to be primarily liable with the driver as secondary.

Let’s assume you’re an entrepreneur using your personal vehicle for company business. You are the owner of the car and the driver. Only one responsible party, right? No. Since you’re using the car for business, the business can be held responsible since you’re driving on its behalf.

So, who pays when the company has no automobile insurance?

The business pays all damages not covered by your personal insurance. Worse, the business pays for legal representation whether you are at fault or not.

The answer is simply to purchase hired and non-owned automobile liability, usually as an endorsement to your general liability policy if you have no automobile coverage. This add-on is inexpensive for small companies, but saves much heartache in the event of a major accident.

Now, let’s look at the other side. Your business owns the car, and you drive it personally. If you do not have a personal auto policy, you are personally unprotected against the liability of car accidents.

The other driver will claim against you as an employee and the business as vehicle owner, both covered by business automobile insurance. If the claim extends to you personally, you may be liable for damages in excess of the business policy limits, plus all of your legal expenses.

The solution to this potential gap in coverage is a “drive other cars” endorsement which allows the business policy to act on behalf of the driver whether in a rental car, a borrowed car, or a car used in business. The endorsement will add only named people to the policy, it is not blanket coverage for all employees.

Property Insurance for Multiple Locations: what does a loss limit do for you. Bookmark and Share

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Loss limit policies insure property on an occurrence basis to a limit of the probable maximum loss rather than an actual total property value.

If a manufacturer has ten locations in ten states each valued at three million dollars including contents, the probable maximum loss might be three million dollars. No one storm, earthquake, or fire will destroy any two in one occurrence. If all ten locations are within a mile of the east coastline, a hurricane might destroy several plants, for a probable maximum loss of, say for example, nine million dollars.

In the first case, the policy limit might be four million, in the second, maybe ten rather than thirty million.

This method of valuation provides insurance for very high value risks or when some portion of the risk is hard to reinsure.

Reinsurance is a spread of risk system for all insurance companies. For very high value risks, sometimes it is not possible to reinsure the total value of property. Insurers and reinsurers each have a maximum limit per loss.

Windstorm, flood and earthquake hazards can be difficult to insure. Insuring all locations with a single maximum loss is a way to get some insurance for all locations.

Loss limit policies tend to be more expensive because total losses are theoretically many more times as likely.

Co-insurance became popular with insurance companies because insureds only wanted to buy enough insurance for the probable maximum loss on a single property. Loss limit policies can be viewed as total protection without a coinsurance clause. The insurance underwriter goes into the process with eyes wide open about pricing each occurrence for ten potential first dollar losses or one catastrophic loss.

The principles of spread of risk and actuarial loss prediction remain constant but apply differently.

If you have a portfolio of properties spread geographically, with perhaps a few in hurricane or earthquake zones, review your loss limit options.

Sarbanes-Oxley Revisited: environmental impacts and accounting. Bookmark and Share

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Sarbanes-Oxley reinforced the idea that public companies have a duty to be transparent in dealings. No insider trading or enriching corporate executives through questionable perquisites like low interest loans.

But when does transparency become speculation?

Estimating costs accurately for remediation work is difficult. Add to that difficulty the uncertainty that the work will be undertaken, or the property will be sold as is. Complete the estimate in the face of changing regulations and newly discovered contaminants. This defines speculation.

Sarbanes-Oxley combined with new trends in accounting implies these costs must be estimated and property values written down.

Yet, if property values are decreased with an environmental liability, what happens when a company then chooses to remediate the contamination?

The costs associated with the clean up are expensed.

Your books just took a double hit, and there is no provision to reduce the liability until the building is sold.

Good risk management can help avoid this situation.

First, avoid spills and contamination by using proper handling and secondary containment. If spills occur, clean them up immediately.

Perform, or have an environmental professional complete, a survey of all current conditions which could lead to property devaluation. Fix the problems you can.

Review your environmental liability insurance options. In other words, think about pre-funding any contamination loss. Like fire insurance, once the claim occurs, the building is worth less. The fire insurance will either pay the actual cash value (economic loss) or rebuild the structure (physical loss)

If you accept the actual cash value, the building value decreases and your cash position increases for no net gain. If you rebuild, the books do not change.

What happens when the building burns, and you’re uninsured? You still must account for the loss with a reduced property value.

Look at environmental liability with the fire insurance analogy in mind. If you insure against environmental impacts and one occurs, you will then have the option as to how you want to handle the claim.

Review Your Fiduciary Liability Exposure in the Context of Health Care Changes.

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Usually, you think of retirement programs when you consider fiduciary liability, like the headline cases of the nineties, like Enron and Rite-Aid, where fiduciaries suffered class action judgments for investing employee funds in company stock.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is the law which demands fiduciaries act in the best interests of the employees, not the public or private company. And, it covers all employee benefits, not just retirement.

The duties of the plan or trust fiduciary are simple:

1. Loyalty to the beneficiaries.
2. Prudence and skill of a professional investor or trustee.
3. Diversification of investments to minimize risk.
4. Adherence to the rules set forth in plan documents and/or ERISA and similar laws. Plan documents
must be brought into compliance if they’re not simpatico with the law.

This level of professional care is quite high.

In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) set regulations and standards regarding the portability of health benefits in reaction to the preexisting conditions clauses of new group health insurance.

Interestingly, HIPAA prohibits discrimination based on health related issues in the premiums charged or the enrollment of employees or family members. Also, it prohibits sharing employee medical records.
With these requirements in mind, now consider the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

Fiduciaries must sorb the new act, a poorly understood and untested health care funding option, into their decision making process. And, they are liable for imprudently applying the cost-benefit analysis to this unknown quantity.

If health insurance is mandatory, what happens with the cafeteria plans of the past? Is it prudent to allow an opt-out of a mandate? Even if the spouse has family healthcare already, couldn’t they lose that job?
Much of the potential growing pain into this new era of universal health care cannot be predicted. But fiduciaries are not immune from accountability.

Let professionals review all your plan documentation for flexibility in application, and give your trustees that flexibility. Have other professionals check your fiduciary liability coverage and your directors and officers coverage too.