Hurricane Season: What kind of insurance does your business need?

Hurricane Season: What kind of insurance does your business need?Hurricane season started once again on June 1st. So what does this mean for your business? There are several coverages that could make or break you should the right storm hit at the right time.

Property Coverage

Hurricane insurance coverage is provided in your property insurance. Depending on your location, your proximity to the coastline, and your carrier, you will have several different types of coverage under your policy.

All Peril – This is the most comprehensive coverage – covering everything except for what is specifically excluded in the policy.

Named Peril – Will cover ONLY what is specifically noted in the policy. It’s usually less expensive but offers little coverage.

Wind and Hail – this is the most restrictive of the three coverages and only covers damage caused by wind or hail.

All Peril, Named Peril, and Wind & Hail will all have a percentage deductible attached. It can vary from a dollar amount to a percentage amount. A deductible is the amount of loss paid by the policyholder before the insurance will begin.

Flood Insurance

Water damage is not the same as wind or storm damage. Most commercial property policies exclude coverage for losses caused by rising water. Much of the damage caused by hurricanes in coastal areas involves rising water which is not covered under most insurance policies. In cases where homes or businesses sustain concurrent wind and rising water damage, some insurers attempt to separate the covered wind damage from the uncovered rising water damage and pay what they owe. Other carriers deny the claims entirely citing the flood exclusion. It’s very important to make sure you are covered for both wind and rising water.

Business Interruption Coverage

Even if you have proper coverage under your property and flood policies, your business could be in danger. Could your business survive being closed and non-operational for 30 days or more during repair time? Most small business will find this lack of income detrimental for their business, and it causes many to close their doors. Business Interruption insurance will kick in after the 72-hour deductible period.

Make sure you are covered this hurricane season and contact your insurance advisor to go over your policies.


download hurricane prep checklist




Buyer Beware: Cheap Insurance is Cheap for a Reason

Cheap InsuranceWhen it comes time to securing insurance for your company, it’s smart to shop around to see what options you have. Everyone wants to save money. But cheap insurance may cost you more than you think.

As is often the case, cheap doesn’t always mean a good deal. Going for the cheapest option without looking into what your plan covers can cost you a lot of money in the long run.

Here are some problems you need to be aware of if you purchase cheap insurance.

Gaps in Coverage

When you pay less, you’re generally covered for less. Compare the coverage from all your quotes to make sure you’ll be covered for all scenarios. You’ll most often find that budget insurance options don’t cover what you need.

High Deductible

If you’re paying a low amount per month for insurance, you might end up paying a lot if you ever need to use it. Make sure you pay attention to the details so you know what it’s really costing you. In a situation where you have to use your insurance, you don’t want to added stress of spending a lot of money to do so.

Low Payout

Some insurance companies have a low cap of what they are willing to pay out in a year. The worst of them are in the low thousands. If you end up in a situation where you need to pay $100,000, your insurance might only cover 1% of that.

Unhelpful Customer Service

If you’re only paying for budget insurance, you can expect cheap customer service. Insurance can be complicated, and having someone at your insurance company to help navigate your problems and answers questions can be a lifesaver.

Unhappy Employees

Cheap insurance passes problems down to your employees. When your business’s health insurance coverage or workers comp doesn’t help your employees to the extent that it should, they are going to come complaining to you. Expect higher turnover and low satisfaction when you purchase cheap insurance.

Are you currently looking for insurance for your company? We’ve put together a guide on insuring your new business.


Coverage Gaps Tip Sheet


Everything You Need to Know About ACA Compliance in 2016

ACA ComplianceI know the chances that this article’s readers are probably not reading this as a bedtime story or “just for fun”. But as dry as understanding the ACA mandate can be, it is important to embrace it with both hands… that way your hands will be tied and you won’t have to worry about hurting anyone!  I have seen many things improve as a result of the mandate, but have also seen individuals and businesses be impacted from negligence to compliance regulations. I am going to take you down the delightful trail of “Everything You Need to Know About the ACA Mandate”! Buckle up, all extremities in the cart, and we’re off!

Large Businesses and Midsize Businesses (who may be larger than they think)

On our first stop, we will explore the changes pertaining to employers. There have been continuing changes since the mandate was first introduced, so let’s make sure you are up to speed.

What does ACA compliance mean for your business?

It has been required for businesses with 100 or more full-time employees to offer health care benefits to their employees. Now, if your business has 50 or more full-time equivalents (FTE) based off the prior year’s numbers, then your business is now considered an ALE – Applicable Large Employer (and you have to offer health coverage!). Before you get too excited, let me explain. An employee that works more than 30 hours a week is considered a full-time employee. The mandate has created a formula to merge your part-time staff and combine them to make full-time equivalents. For example: Say you have a total of 80 employees on the payroll. You have 30 full-time employees who work 30+ hours a week.  The rest are part-time and (for easy math) all work 15 hours a week.  Those part-time employees are paired together to create full-time equivalents, and would add another 25 full-time employees to your tally. So your business would be considered an ALE, with 55 FTE. This change in the definition has confused many employers and caused them to pay noncompliance fines—which we will get into in another section.

If you are a business owner who has been deemed a large employer, chances are you have organized yourself to handle the compliance paperwork and have probably issued your 1095 tax forms to your employees. If you are a small business, and are thinking of growth, keep this formula in mind with regard to your business size. If you have not already, start tracking your employees on payroll each month and their average hours. It will be a much smoother transition during your growth period to start the reporting organization now.

Uh oh, there is a sharp twist and a steep drop ahead, hold on tight!

Is your offering Affordable?

So you have decided on an insurance plan, and benefits package to offer your employees…and it seems to be the best value to you. How do you know if it is considered affordable to your employees? Surprise, there is another formula for that! Bear in mind, you are offering the benefits to your full- time employees only.  The chosen plan will pass the affordability test if the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage does not exceed 9.66 percent of the employee’s household income for the year. Let me provide another handy example. In Florida, the minimum wage is $8.05/hour. If your lowest paid employee makes $8.05/hour and works 40 hours a week, the employee’s “Safe Harbor” salary amount (the threshold amount requiring affordable coverage) is $16,744. Multiply that by 9.66% to find that the maximum amount this employee can pay towards their health insurance is $1,617 a year, or $135 a month. When looking at your employee premiums for the health benefit, make sure that their contribution is that or less. Have I lost you yet?

I almost see the end of the ride….

How does this impact my bottom-line?

I hear the voices in your head overwhelmed with new rules, and wondering what you think you will have to re-arrange in your budget to accommodate these new standards. If we can just take a moment of peace, and really look at the broad picture, I think it may all fall into place.

Non-compliance can cost you. Honestly, it can cost you more for defiance of compliance than to embrace the value of offering a benefits package to your employees. You thought you were reading an article, not solving math problems…but, I have another formula for you! You are a large employer with 75 full-time employees. You have decided you are above the law, and fail to offer health insurance to your employees. One of your employees goes to the marketplace to get a subsidy, and fills out that their employer does not offer health benefits. You are going to get slapped with a $96,300 fine for failure to offer coverage! We have arrived at this total by taking your 75 employees minus 30 (the government’s grace) multiplied by $2,140. Ouch!  Moral of the story, in the “pay or play” ballgame… play nice, and by the rules…it’s better than the consequences.

One last twist and round-a-bout..

When choosing what plan to offer for your benefits package, there are guidelines as to what is deemed Minimum Value or Minimum Essential Coverage. Most plans that the carriers now offer are considered a qualified plan. A quick way to ensure your plan is qualified is to see if a metal tier of Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum labels the plan. The tiers stand for the level of cost sharing or actuarial value that increases from Bronze to Platinum. A Bronze level plan is a very basic plan with minimal benefits, whereas a Platinum plan is a benefit rich plan with very low deductibles and copays. There are plans that can be offered that cover just preventative care on  the most basic level of benefits-called a “MEC” plan. They are a non-traditional form of health insurance, and you aren’t completely safe from the penalties. It’s a dicey solution to the reform, as you comply with Part A of the mandate, but are at risk of the Part B compliance fine. Let me circle you back around to the last example.  You have 75 full-time employees and offer a MEC plan to those employees. One of them receives a subsidy from the marketplace because the MEC plan that you offered him doesn’t meet the Minimum Value Requirements. Because he is now disgruntled, he runs and tells his best friend, who tells her best friend, etc…and before you know it, 15 employees have gone to the marketplace to receive a subsidy. For each of the 15 employees receiving that subsidy, you are now fined $3,240 – totaling $48,600. Not to mention, the costs associated for offing the plan combined with the fine, are probably more expensive than just offering a qualified health plan from the start. While we are talking about the worth of a health plan, have you considered how the offering helps in retaining valuable employees and what that means for your company?

As we are entering back into the loading zone, may I remind you to remain seated, buckled in until a complete stop, and check under your seat for any stray belongings.

Final Frontier

Now that you know the twists and turns, (and all the formulas) in regards to the mandate, I hope you feel confident in your business, and the upcoming choices you will be making on your health benefit offerings. I will leave you with a bullet point list of 5 reasons why offering benefits to your employees enhances your company:

  • Better employee morale– Showing you care about your employees, helps them to be more invested and loyal.
  • Healthier employees– More likelihood that with benefits, employees are taking advantage of their check-ups, and preventative steps.
  • Better job performance– Because employees are happy and healthy, they are not taking off sick days, and care about their team and productivity.
  • Minimize your turnover rate– Employees feel valued, and are dedicated to stay at a place where they are happy.
  • Increase your company appeal– Because your employees are happy, healthy & loyal, word will travel that your company is the place to be!

Food for thought!

I know I had a delightful ride, and hope you shared the same!

Stay tuned for my next post on “What The Mandate Means For Individuals”.

Kim Kato | Employee Benefits Advisor
kkato@w3ins.com | 727-522-7777 ext 285

The Importance of a Home Inventory

Florida HomeSpring is in the air! Time to clean, get your home in order and take inventory! Wait… take inventory?

That’s right! How will you ever know what you have to lose if you don’t track it? And really, do any of us know what is in our homes? It’s amazing how quickly all that “stuff” accumulates.

What is a Home Inventory?

A home inventory is a complete list of your belongings. The list should include photos and information on the worth of your contents. If you do not have one now, don’t fret. You are not the only one out there that hasn’t started this process yet. A recent Allstate Insurance survey of Atlanta homeowners found that while than more than 90 percent of homeowners are concerned about protecting their homes, only 41 percent had ever documented or valued their contents. Knowing and cataloging these items can be time-consuming, but may save you a lot of time and frustration later on.

Why It’s Important?

If your home is damaged by a storm or other peril, a printout of all your damaged valuables could be quite useful. Documenting your home inventory in advance can help save time and reduce frustration after a disaster. In the event of a loss, an accurate home inventory can make filing a claim much easier. It is also a great way to discover your true net worth and ensure that you have adequate coverage for your belongings.

Working Smarter – Not Harder

Luckily, technology has come a long way. The “legal pad” inventory is a thing of the past! Home inventory programs now help you organize and track your valuables. Smart phones and advanced programming have made it easier to be organized and prepared. There are many programs and applications available. Here are some top-rated options:

Top Home Inventory Apps:

Know Your Stuff by Insurance Information Institute, Free

MyStuff2 by Rick Maddy Productivity, Free – $4.99

Top Home Inventory Programs:

Delicious Library 3, Mac Program, $25.00

Collectify Home Inventory, PC Program, $30.00

These are just a few of the programs and apps available for purchase or use. Please take the time to find what works best for you and your family.


download hurricane prep checklist


What To Look For With Fishing Boat Insurance

If you’re like most fishermen, you’ve probably invested a lot of money in your sport – especially in your boat.  When it comes to shopping for insurance for your fishing boat, there are some things you should know.  Looking into the details now can save you from headaches later on. The time to discover you don’t have coverage is not when you have a loss. To keep it from getting too complicated, let’s start with the basics.

What to Look for in Fishing Boat Insurance

Choose an Agent: You should begin by using an agent who specializes in marine insurance. An agent who speaks to you in terms you understand is also desirable.  If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation in layman’s terms. Ask experienced boating friends for their insurance recommendations.

Actual Cash Value vs. Agreed Value: These are the two main choices for boat insurance and depreciation is what sets them apart. No two policies are the same.

An Agreed Value policy may cost more, but it pays more. It will cover the stated value of the policy in the event of a total loss. For example, a total loss on a $50,000 agreed value policy will pay you $50,000. It may be subject to a deductible.  More importantly, a partial loss on an agreed value policy replaces most items on a “new for old” basis, with little or no depreciation, depending on the carrier.  Hence, a claim for the theft of a three-year-old bottom machine would get you a new, comparable replacement.

Actual Cash Value (ACV) policies generally cost less, but only pay up to the actual cash value at the time the boat or property was lost or damaged. Depreciation is usually calculated on all losses. ACV policies are better suited to less expensive boats or when you are not as concerned about a total loss.

Other Coverage: Some policies extend coverage to include fishing gear that you carry on the boat such as rods and reels, electronics, trolling motors, tackle, etc. You might also participate in fishing tournaments from time to time. Make sure your policy provides the liability coverage required. Do you need hurricane haul-out assistance or fuel spill coverage? Are you planning a long trip away from home? What happens if someone else drives your boat and has an accident? A good agent will review all of your options so there will be no surprises.

Deductibles: There are several ways to reduce the cost of your boat insurance. The most common way is to select the highest deductible amount that you are comfortable with. In general, physical damage deductibles start at around 1% of the value of the boat and can sometimes be increased to as much as 5%.

Now that we’ve described some of the key elements, we hope that you are in a better position to ask the right questions when buying marine insurance. Please contact our marine advisors for more guidance or visit our website at marineins.com.

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7 Steps for Running a Safe Foreign Mission Trip

 7 Steps for Running a Safe Foreign Mission TripPlanning Makes Perfect

Preparing for foreign travel can be a daunting task, and it may be even more overwhelming to plan a trip for a large group as part of a religious mission or nonprofit organization.

Use these tips to make sure you have all your bases covered in terms of safety before taking off. Though no one likes to think about it, you should always be prepared for the worst possible scenario while traveling.

  1. Make sure everyone in your group has the proper, location-specific immunizations.
  2. Determine beforehand whether the local water at your destination is safe to drink, and plan accordingly.
  3. Know the locations of the nearest hospital and the closest U.S. Embassy or consulate. Communicate this to the group’s family members in case of emergency.
  4. Visit the U.S. State Department website (www.state.gov) before leaving to learn about pertinent safety conditions at your destination and take any necessary action.
  5. Keep organized records of important documents for each participant. Depending on your group and its purpose, this may include signed medical release forms and liability waivers.
  6. Evaluate your insurance coverage and make sure each traveler does as well, especially if they are volunteers not covered by a group policy. Consider foreign liability insurance, foreign medical insurance and trip cancellation insurance.
  7. If you are traveling to an unfamiliar area, do not assume it will have any of the supplies you need. Pack a first aid kit that includes bandages, antibiotics, antiseptics and standard over-the-counter medications.

Ensure each participant has copies of his or her passport, credit cards, driver’s license and other important documents stored in a safe, secure location where they are readily available in case of emergency. A set of copies should be left at home with a family member or friend. Ensure each participant also has copies with them for the trip, and that they are stored away from their passport, credit cards, driver’s license and other important documents.


 

Yogurt

Can You Stomach It?

Eating yogurt daily for two weeks leading up to your trip may help prepare the stomach for unfamiliar bacteria in foreign food and drinks. Encourage trip participants to build up friendly bacteria in their body to avoid food illness.


 

About the W3 Nonprofit Division:

 

“A Greater Advantage, for a Greater Good”W3 Nonprofit Advantage

The W3 Nonprofit Advantage was created to serve those
who serve others. This division specializes in 501(c)(3) organizations such as food banks, Head Starts, churches, senior service centers and programs for the developmentally disabled. Our agents are actively involved in the community and serve on the boards of several nonprofits in the area. This division understands the unique challenges that nonprofits face every day. The agency is especially qualified to meet those challenges with exclusive “A” Rated insurance companies that specialize in nonprofit programs.

6 Steps to Reduce Your Risks when Entertaining

Reducing Risks when Entertaining - W3ins.co,Tis’ the season for entertaining! The fall season begins a slew of gatherings with friends and family. Unfortunately, it can also open you up to risks. As a homeowner, you are responsible for anyone on your property, invited or not. Injuries that could be caused due to your negligence will put you and your family at risk. Your homeowners policy does protect you from liability, but only up to a certain dollar amount. Additional insurance can and should be purchased to offer more protection.

Steps To Take To Reduce Risk

Mitigating risk is something we talk about a lot in the insurance industry. It’s important to know your risks and how to reduce them. While accidents do happen, there are certain things you can do to help lessen them. Here are five ways to help your party goes off without a hitch (or claim).

  1. Check your home for possible safety hazards. Before guests arrive, do a walk-through of your entire property and look for potential hazards. Do you have a step on your porch that is hard to see? Consider adding more light in that area to help light the way. Maybe you had left a garden hose out in the yard where a guest taking a short cut might trip. Make sure all tripping hazards are put away. What about guest seating? Do you have a piece of furniture that you’ve been meaning to get fixed? Bring that item to the garage or other out-of-the-way area to ensure that it is not used. As a homeowner, it‘s your responsibility to provide a safe environment for your guests.
  2. Hire a professional bartender to serve alcohol. Professional bartenders are relatively inexpensive and often carry their own liquor liability. They have been trained to spot when someone has had too much to drink. They know when to stop serving and inform the host of concerning situations. Be aware that larger events that will need to have event insurance as homeowners insurance will likely not cover personal liability. Special Events Coverage through your insurance agent. This coverage provides General Liability coverage for events over one day in duration, up to 100 attendees, such as weddings or New Year’s Eve parties at your home.
  3. Offer Taxi or Uber rides for your guests. Serving alcohol opens you to a whole host of liability. Your guests driving home while under the influence is a big no-no. Having the number handy of several taxi or Uber drivers will help keep your guests safe. Consider having everyone put their keys in a bowl and attach a card with the taxi phone number right to their car keys.
  4. Have plenty of food and water available for guests. Staying hydrated throughout the day/night will help your guests more than you think. Stage several areas throughout your home for easy access to non-alcoholic beverages. Water, lemonade, and seasonal hot cider are all good choices.
  5. Check your homeowner’s insurance policy limits and restrictions. Umbrella polices that offer additional coverage/higher limits and special event insurance are the best ways to help mitigate your risk. There are many instances where your homeowners insurance will not cover you at all if an accident occurs because of a party on your premise. It’s important to establish a good relationship with your insurance agent and to verify if additional coverage is needed for a special event.

Please contact your Personal Insurance Advisor if you have any questions about your homeowners policy.

W3 Awarded Best Agency to Work For

Best Agency in the SoutheastW3 is pleased to announce that we have been chosen as Insurance Journal’s 2015 Best Agency to WorkFor, Gold Winner – Southeast. The Insurance Journal is a national publication that is considered the most read national property and casualty publication for independent insurance agents and brokers. They break their readership into five areas of the country and award a gold, silver and bronze winner for each division, as well as an overall winner. Click Here for Insurance Journal’s full article featuring the agency.

W3 employees nominated the agency back in September by answering a short, informal survey. A customer-centric focus, strong value system and a family-matters philosophy helped propel W3 to the top of the list. Scott Gramling, W3’s CEO, stated, “Over the past 90 years, W3 has been a top shelf employer, because the leadership acknowledges that constant attention is necessary to attract and retain the highest caliber professionals.” “Our goal is to actually be the best place to work. We don’t do it for the awards, it’s really about the employees,” said COO Walt Grayson.

Voyages to Cuba Bring Uncertainty

Map of Cuba

Florida boaters should be cautious before making plans to navigate to Cuba.

On September 18, 2015, The U.S. Department of the Treasury released new rules surrounding U.S. travel to Cuba. The administration lifted the prohibition on boating to Cuba and Cuban waters. While the intrigue is enormous, Florida boaters should be cautious before making plans for such a Caribbean voyage. Although the U.S. government has liberalized the rules, there are many unique conditions that should be considered; political risk, crime, navigational limits available on current insurance policies, just to name a few.

The new regulations bring the marine insurance industry into uncharted territory. Insurance companies are not yet offering coverage extensions for destination Cuba. The reasons that the carriers may be slow to respond are as follows:

  • Conflicting laws and regulations between U.S. agencies
  • Lack of familiarity with Cuban laws which may govern in civil and criminal matters
  • Lack of knowledge and limited opportunities for subrogation
  • Additional expense of sending marine surveyors and claims adjustors
  • Unknown/adequate repair facilities
  • Access to repair parts
  • Towing charges if the vessel had to be repatriated for repair
  • Technical complications associated with endorsing in force policies
  • No underwriting data to base rates on

It is uncertain when insurance companies will offer this coverage to the recreational boater. In the meantime, boaters are reminded that property and liability coverage only applies to claims which occur within the navigational limits stated in the boater’s policy. Wallace Welch & Willingham will stay attuned to this situation and will continue to post updates.

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Are Your Employees Getting their Flu Shots?

 

Employee with Flu ShotFacts About the Flu and Flu Vaccine

Healthy adults can spread the flu virus the day before they feel sick. On average, each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu related complications. Prevention is the main defense to minimizing the risk of spreading the flu virus. Help fight the flu for yourself, your family and those around you.

Prevention Suggestions:

· Get the flu vaccine.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.
· Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading the flu to others. The CDC recommends staying home 24 hours after the fever is gone.
· If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness. These drugs can make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick, but it suggested starting this treatment within the first two days of symptoms.

Where can you get the flu shot?

Your employees can go to participating network doctors or participating retail locations. This is a covered benefit for most groups; just remind them to show their insurance card. Check your insurance website for participating pharmacies or contact your wellness coordinator for assistance with plan information.

Keeping employees healthy and happy is important to your company.