Monthly Archives: December 2015

What You Need to Know About Flood Insurance

Some homes sit in high-risk areas for water damage. Other residences are located in a moderate- or low-risk location. Regardless of your home’s location, you might consider purchasing flood insurance to protect yourself from the financial loss that can result from water damage.

Limitations of Disaster Relief

If you are not insured when a catastrophic event occurs, you will be left to either repair the damage on your own or hope the state or federal government issues an official declaration of disaster. Without this official declaration, no assistance will be provided. Even with an official declaration, not all disasters will result in assistance awards to residents. You may only receive an offer for financing to cover your expenses, rather than funds for rebuilding and repairs.

Benefits

When you purchase individual flood insurance coverage for your house, you have will receive greater protection in the event of a disaster in the form of a payout.

– In the event of flooding, you will receive a payout commensurate to the water damage caused to your property.

– Any funds you receive from your policy will not require repayment.

– Your policy will be continuous without the threat of non-renewal or cancellation due to repeated claims, which can occur with disaster assistance.

– Policy owners can also receive coverage for contents of a home or business, up to $100,000 for residential policies and up to $500,000 for business policies.

Coverage Details

Individual policies will have different coverage features, so be sure to carefully read the policy paperwork so you understand the terms. For example, the nature of the flooding will determine coverage. If water damage occurs due to a sewer backup in your home, most policies will protect you from this damage only if it occurred as a result of a flooding event rather than another type of issue. Learn what building property and personal contents are included in the policy. Find out what issues are not covered by the terms of your agreement. A policy will also have deductible options to select, which will affect premiums and claim payments.

Eligible Properties

A number of different types of properties are eligible for insurance coverage. You can purchase coverage for a single-family or multi-family home. You can also, as a business owner, cover commercial property that you own. Renters can purchase policies for apartments, condominiums, and commercial property to protect against loss from water damage.

Government and Lender Requirements

People who own property in floodplain areas may have no choice but to purchase flood insurance. Home and business owners who are in high-risk areas with federally regulated loans often find that coverage is required under the terms of their mortgage. Small business owners who receive certain loans from the Small Business Administration may also find that this requirement is attached to their financing terms. Some communities in high-risk areas have management ordinances in place that require residents to have insurance policies that protect them against loss from water damage. To be eligible for federal and state disaster relief, residents must first be insured.

There are a few differences between insuring your property against floods and insuring it against other types of risks. First, flood insurance is not always carried by the same companies that offer homeowner’s and property insurance, because it entails different risks. You may have to call around and ask your insurer if they provide this service, or if they know someone who does. Second, if you live in an area that is prone to floods, you may need a surveyor to verify whether your property is inside or outside of a high-risk zone before you can receive a quote. Contact your insurer today and ask them about adding the protection of flood insurance to your property.

How to Claim Veterans Disability Benefits

A veteran who has experienced an injury or disease that was caused or made worse by their military service can receive disability benefits. The amount of time that has elapsed since their active duty does not matter. Anyone who is eligible to receive veterans disability benefits should apply to claim them as soon as possible.

Methods of Application

– The federal government provides an online application for veterans disability benefits. Visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website to initiate the application process.

– Applicants can also submit their paperwork by mail. Visit the Veteran Affairs website to download the correct form, and then mail it to your closest Veterans Affairs (VA) office; they are located throughout the country.

– If you are within the United States, you may call the VA office at 800-827-1000 to submit an application by phone. Veterans located outside of the United States should call 412-395-6272.

Additional Assistance

It’s also possible to receive help filling out and submitting paperwork. A disability lawyer can help you complete your claim, or you can visit a VA organization or service office to receive help from their representatives.

Completing the Paperwork

The application requires information about medical conditions that necessitate the compensation. When completing these forms, include specific information about diagnosed conditions, injuries, and illnesses. If possible, add specific details, such as the date on which you first began experiencing symptoms and the specific medical diagnoses you received from your physicians. Submit copies of your medical records that verify and substantiate your claim for disability, if possible. You have up to one year to submit the necessary documentation. If you don’t have all your records, the federal government can request your records on your behalf.

The Process

When you receive confirmation of your disability or illness, apply for compensation immediately. Early application preserves this date as the effective date for benefits, which can affect the amount of benefits you receive. Do not allow a lack of medical documentation about your disability to stop you from completing the process; you can submit verification paperwork later, if necessary.

Time Line

The approval process for veterans disability benefits can vary. You may receive a decision within a few months, but it can take up to three or more years of processing to reach a decision. Some applicants may be able to fast-track the approval by submitting complete medical records with the initial application. This can effectively streamline the review time and enable the government to more quickly return a decision.

Special Status

Some people are eligible for special fast-track status. Former POWs, as well as those who have suffered sexual trauma in connection with the military or have post-traumatic stress disorder, receive priority processing on their claims. In addition, Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and are submitting a claim will receive special priority processing. Those who are homeless or who have emergency financial needs can also receive priority service.

If you are unsure of how to proceed with an application for veterans disability benefits, ask for professional assistance so that you can submit your claim in a timely manner.

Protect Your Wedding Investment

The average cost of a wedding in the United States is roughly $26,500 – and that’s just an average! Most people don’t think about insuring the event even though the cost to mitigate the financial cost of all the things that can go wrong is minimal. Typical wedding budgets include these items:

• Venue, Catering & Rentals. This usually consumes the largest part of the budget. Considering that venues are typically booked a year in advance and usually require a sizeable deposit to hold a date; few think about the “lost deposit” that could occur if, for example, the bride or groom or their immediate family were to become unexpectedly ill on the big day.

• The venue is also going to require a “certificate of insurance.” Your homeowners policy won’t do this for you anymore! Make sure your event coverage can issue that for you including your “liquor liability.” This covers your liability for guests that may become intoxicated at your reception then try to drive home. Some policies also include the Rehearsal Dinner.

• Wedding Attire. Dresses can take many months to obtain. After paying a significant deposit to have that $3,000 dress made, you could suffer a monetary loss if the wedding dress shop suddenly goes bankrupt while you are waiting for it to be made or altered.

• Photos and Video. Documenting the events of the day is important for many years to come. What happens if the Photographer or Videographer loses your “file” or their equipment becomes damaged so they are unable to deliver these memories? Be sure that your event insurance covers bringing the wedding party together to retake photos if necessary- even if the Best Man lives on the opposite coast.

• Destination Wedding. Perhaps you’ve always imagined getting married on a beach in the Caribbean. You’ve been planning for months and a hurricane decides to wreak havoc the weekend you had planned to get married there. Postponing or cancellation of the event could cause you to incur transportation, venue, catering and accommodation loss of deposits.

Here are a few additional tips to consider during the planning of your big day:

• Be sure to sign contracts with vendors who will be performing services for you and keep a copy.

• Get “Event Insurance” early in the process as some coverages have “waiting periods.” You can purchase coverage sometimes up to two years in advance of the event.

• Keep receipts of your expenditures related to the event.

• Enlist the services of a wedding planner if planning a large event. They can be most helpful in the planning process and in making sure the day runs as smoothly as possible.

Unfortunately, in the real world, “stuff” happens. It might be worthwhile to spend a few hundred bucks to get some “peace of mind” for your main event. Congratulations!!

What Every Business Owner Ought To Know About Voluntary Benefits

Some Plain Talk About A Simple Decision That Is Often Difficult to Make

If he had provided voluntary benefit options to his employees, he would have fostered trust and loyalty, his employees would have felt safe in the knowledge that he was looking out for them. This safe culture would have lead to stable, productive, confident teams, where everyone felt they belonged.”

They left, some for lower paying jobs that provided voluntary benefits.

The first notable defection was a talented project manager who left to take on a maintenance supervisor position at a nearby property management company. He had to leave to find better ways to protect the financial well being of his family. He went on to build his team by selectively recommending to his new boss the hiring away of his former co-workers.

Of course, the company tried to adjust by switching to a 1099 model from a W-2 model, hiring subcontractors but without a solid vetting process, the switch was not successful the company folded in 2007. The management nucleus that enabled it to grow to an 11 million dollar revenue company in 3 years was gone. The branding perception of a company that did not care about its employees had taken hold.

I believe in the value of the voluntary benefits insurance business and seek every opportunity to go in and relate this experience to business owners.”

Who benefits? Both employer and employees benefit. The employer benefits through greater employees satisfaction and retention through improved benefit programs, this, at little or no financial cost to his company. The employees benefit through the ability to custom design an affordable benefits package to protect their income from unexpected costs associated with illness or injury.

What must employers do? Provide employees the option to make informed decisions about protecting their income. For, employees are increasingly more invested in their care. In truth, many employers when asked about employees benefits their first reaction often is, “I’m all set,” but are they really? If your employees are not, as you believe you are, it is because you have not given them the choice.

Why must employers do it? Your employees want it. A 2013 study highlighted that 64 percent of employees want their employer to provide a wider array of voluntary benefits that they can choose to purchase. Some actually need it and will happily pay for it because of the peace of mind it engendered. Again, this at no cost to the employer’s operating budget.

How must employers do it? Create the environment where employees feel free to exercise this choice. Further, facilitate a welcoming and private setting for this information transfer to take place between the employee and the benefits provider.

Where should this happen? It is preferred that this takes place through the company’s group option (payroll deduction) where employees are guaranteed a cost saving of up to 35 percent, rendering the cost of most products at less than a dollar per day.

When must an employer do this? There is rarely a better time than now.

All in all, the who, what, why, how, where and when on voluntary benefits. The ball is in the employer’s hands, play it well and you will be the winner (in-a-nutshell).