sChances are you are under insured and could benefit from umbrella coverage if you:
Liability comes in many forms. Here are a few of the ways you may be responsible for damages beyond what your current home and auto policies cover.
It’s no secret that distracted driving accidents, fatalities, and the resulting medical care costs are on the rise, making higher limits more important than ever. Even relatively minor accidents can incur substantial medical bills. If an accident involves disability or death, the costs can be hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. Those with teenage drivers incur greater risk as teens are more likely to have a serious crash.
Do you have children?
Those with children, teen and adult children living with them can benefit from an umbrella policy, as you could be liable for injuries to others’ children during carpooling, a playdate or babysitting. Even if your child attends a party where there is an injury or death, you can be sued, even if your child did nothing wrong.
Do you entertain at home?
If so, you could be liable for everything from trip/fall hazards, to food poisoning, to someone drinking alcohol at your house and getting in a car accident on their way home. A homeowner’s policy worth $300,000 won’t go very far if the courts award a $500,000 judgement against you.
What about pets?
While dog bites only comprise a third of all homeowner’s liability, according to the Insurance Information Institute, even friendly dogs can frighten or knock down elderly or youthful guests and cause injury.
Personal injury and personal offense liability.
Gossip can be hurtful. It can also result in painful lawsuits. People can be sued for embellishing an embarrassing story about someone, writing a bad review of a business, re-posting material subject to copyright laws, or even a rant on social media. In short, anyone can sue another person for any reason, frivolous or not. Regardless of the validity of the suit, you must respond.
Drop down protection. Do you travel overseas?
You may be at risk without realizing it. For instance, if you rent a car and have an accident, your home or auto policy probably won’t cover it. Likewise, if you rent a boat while on vacation, you are likely without protection. But an umbrella policy may provide primary liability in both situations. Further, if you are sued personally, the umbrella may cover your legal defense. A good attorney starts at $250 an hour, but with personal umbrella insurance, you could receive extended protection for less than a dollar a day.
You don’t have to be rich to be sued like it.
Some people assume that since they aren’t rich, they can’t get sued since they don’t have the money to pay. However, the courts disagree. If a person is held responsible, or even partially responsible, for an accident, their wages can be garnished, their savings taken, and in some states their home and other assets seized. While financial responsibility rules vary from state to state, not having umbrella insurance exposes you to a lot of risk.
A personal umbrella policy is an inexpensive hedge against such risks. Many times, umbrella insurance is available for around a dollar a day. In short, bad things happen to good people. The key is to do a thorough interview with your agent about your family, your lifestyle, and hobbies. He or she can use that information to determine if your risk is tangible so you can make a more informed decision about liability and umbrella insurance.
Article from 2/26/18 Insurance Journal - insider-tips-for-increasing-umbrella-sales
Written by Brook McGuire is the Strategy Lead for Specialty Products at Safeco Insurance.
Workers on a shift schedule tend to have poor eating habits and lack regular exercise, which can contribute to sleep problems, fatigue and stress. Read this article to learn how shift workers can fight fatigue.
Minding Your Mental Health
For some, work can be a major source of stress due to heavy workloads, pressure to perform at a high level, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel and conflicts with co-workers. Read on to learn when you should consider speaking to your manager about your mental health.
For shift workers, unconventional schedules can take a toll on health and safety. In fact, research shows that people who sleep during the day often struggle with getting an adequate amount of rest.
What’s more, workers on a shift schedule tend to have poor eating habits and lack regular exercise, which can contribute to fatigue and stress. To combat these adverse health factors, shift workers should consider doing the following:
It’s important to be mindful about your scheduling, and avoid permanent or consecutive night shifts whenever possible. In addition, employees should be allowed to gradually change from night shifts to normal shifts, as this gives the body time to recover and adapt to a new schedule.
Fatigue due to poor quality or lack of sleep can affect every aspect of an individual’s life, and can severely hamper one’s ability to perform at work. Speak to a doctor if you are concerned about the quality of your sleep or want more general health tips.
For some, work can be a major source of stress due to heavy workloads, pressure to perform at a high level, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel and conflicts with co-workers.
Over time, this level of stress can lead to insomnia, anxiety, depression, low morale and drastic mood swings. Overcoming these symptoms isn’t always easy, but knowing when to step back and evaluate your mental health can help.
Evaluating your mental health is incredibly useful when it comes to decompressing and alleviating stress caused by workplace factors.
While mental health and workplace stress can vary on an individual basis, the following are some examples of when speaking with a manager can help reduce workplace stress:
Kelly Lee Insurance | Our Policy is Caring! | (337) 656-2890
Employers with group health plans must generally extend coverage to the children of an employee when a state court or agency issues a qualified medical child support order. A National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) is the standardized document that state agencies use for the medical child support order.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) for employers about NMSNs. These FAQs address a variety of topics related to NMSNs, including how to administer the notice and coverage requirements.
Employers with group health plans may sometimes receive medical child support orders, requiring them to extend coverage to an employee’s children. These FAQs are helpful because they answer common questions about NMSNs.
Employers should also be aware that there are additional requirements that apply under ERISA when an employer receives a medical child support order, such as a requirement to notify the employee about the order.
HHS has provided the following FAQs for employers on the NMSN:
When is the NMSN sent to the employer?
Child support agencies send the NMSN to employers when appropriate. Specifically, when:
• A new child support order is issued requiring a parent to provide medical coverage;
• An existing order is modified;
• The parent(s) ordered to provide health care coverage has a change in employment; or
• It is not clear that the parent is complying with an existing order to provide coverage.
The NMSN is divided into two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A is a Notice to Withhold for Health Care Coverage and includes the employer response and instructions. Part B is a Medical Support Notice to the Plan Administrator and includes the plan administrator response and instructions.
Does the release of private medical information in response to the NMSN violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?
No. The Privacy Rule at 45 CFR 164.512(f) permits a health plan to respond to a request for information by a child support agency that issued a NMSN. The Privacy Rule allows a medical plan administrator to disclose protected health information in response to the NMSN.
Do I enforce the NMSN to cover the child(ren) of a recently terminated employee if the employee elected self-only COBRA coverage?
Yes. A child covered by a group health plan is a beneficiary under the plan. The covered child is a qualified beneficiary with the right to elect continued coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) if the plan is subject to COBRA and if the child loses coverage because of a qualifying event.
Can the plan administrator change the employee’s coverage to a different option even if it affects the employee’s premiums?
Yes. The plan administrator may take whatever steps necessary to enroll the children named in the NMSN if coverage is available and the premiums can be deducted within the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) limits.
What should I do if the employee is no longer eligible for employer-sponsored medical insurance coverage?
You should notify the child support agency that sent the NMSN.
What should I do if the medical insurance provider changes?
You should notify the child support agency that sent the NMSN.
What should I do if the employee no longer makes enough money to continue employer-sponsored medical insurance coverage?
You should stop withholding premiums if your employee cannot make the payments within the CCPA limits and notify the child support agency.
What should the employee do if he or she does not make enough money to cover the medical insurance premiums?
Your employee should look at other options to provide medical insurance coverage, such as:
• Enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace;
• Obtain private coverage; or
• Enroll his or her child in a state Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The employee should also notify the child support agency to modify the medical support order.
Are withholdings for medical support subject to the CCPA limits?
Yes. In most states, payments deducted from an employee’s pay for medical support are subject to CCPA limits. However, some states require that medical support premiums be withheld before computing the maximum to withhold under the CCPA. See HHS’ Income Withholding Requirements Matrix for information on state withholding priorities and other withholding information.
Does withholding for medical support have a higher priority than child support?
Not usually. Most states give priority to current child support. However, state law governs the priority given to ongoing child support and medical support, so please refer to the Income Withholding Requirements Matrix for information on priorities and withholding information.
Who can I contact with questions about the NMSN?
You should contact the state child support agency that issued the NMSN. The contact information is in the top box on Page 1. You can also find each state’s point of contact on HHS’ State Medical Support Contacts and Program Information Matrix.
Who completes Part A of the NMSN?
The employer completes Part A if the employee:
• Is not eligible for health insurance;
• Has been terminated; or
• Does not have enough disposable income to cover the health care premiums.
If any of the above applies, the employer must complete Part A and return it to the child support agency and discard Part B. If the employer determines that the employee is eligible to provide coverage, the employer forwards Part B to the plan administrator.
Who completes Part B of the NMSN?
The plan administrator completes Part B and returns it to the child support agency. The plan administrator may enroll the child in existing coverage or notify the child support agency about other coverage options available to the parent(s). Once the child is enrolled in a plan, the plan administrator will let the employer know how much to deduct for the insurance premium. The employer may determine whether the premium and ongoing child support exceed the CCPA limits under the state priority for withholding. If so, the employer will notify the child support agency using Part A of the NMSN – the Employer Response.
Must I determine if the cost of medical support coverage is reasonable?
No. The child support agency generally determines if the cost to cover the children is reasonable.
Must I determine which parent meets the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affordability test before enrolling the children?
No. If a child support agency sends the NMSN, the employer has to use the child support definition of reasonable cost, not the ACA’s affordability test.
IRS Issues New Tables for 2018 Tax Withholding
Starting Feb. 15, 2018, employers must use new tables to determine how much income tax to withhold from their employees’ paychecks. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the required new tables, in Notice 1036, on Jan. 9, 2018. The notice contains early release copies of the “Percentage Method Tables for Income Tax Withholding” that will appear in IRS Publication 15 (“Employer’s Tax Guide”).
According to the IRS, Notice 1036 is the first in a series of steps that the agency will take to help employers improve the accuracy of their tax withholdings under changes made by a new tax reform law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted on Dec. 22, 2017.
Employers should become familiar with the new tables and begin using them as soon as possible, but no later than Feb. 15, 2018. Employers should also monitor the IRS’s Notice 1036 website for future guidance regarding income-tax withholding under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made several changes to the tax code that will affect individual taxpayers in 2018. For example, the new law:
The IRS issued the new tax withholding tables in Notice 1036 to reflect these changes and to help employers avoid withholding to much or too little from their employees’ paychecks for income taxes in 2018. A withholding table shows payroll service providers and employers how much tax to withhold based on each employee’s wages, marital status and number of withholding allowances claimed on a Form W-4. Notice 1036 also includes information about Social Security and Medicare rates for 2018.
New Tables Work with Existing Forms W-4 for 2018
The new tables in Notice 1036 are designed to work with the Forms W-4 that employees have already filed with their employers to claim withholding allowances for 2018. Thus, employers do not need to obtain updated Forms W-4 from their employees to start using the new tables.
For 2019, however, the IRS is revising Form W-4 to more fully reflect the new law and to help individuals determine whether to adjust their withholding. Once released, the revised Form W-4 can be used in 2018 by employees starting a new job and by existing employees who wish to update their withholding in response to the new law or changes in their personal circumstances. Until the revised Form W-4 is released, employees and employers should continue to use the 2017 Form W-4.
In addition to the Form W-4 updates in progress, the IRS is currently revising its online tax-withholding calculator to help individuals determine their withholding under the new tax law. The IRS anticipates that the new calculator will be available by the end of February, 2018, and encourages taxpayers to use it to adjust their withholding as soon as it is released. According to the IRS, the Form W-4 and calculator revisions will reflect additional changes made by the new tax law, including:
The IRS also indicated that it will include more detailed guidance on tax withholding, along with the information in Notice 1036, in Publication 15 and related publications in early 2018.
Extension cords make work tasks easier and more convenient. However, they can also pose serious burn, shock and tripping hazards if you do not use them properly.
Prior to use, read the label describing the usage, size and wattage ratings. The gauge rating on the extension cord is indicated by a number corresponding to electrical items that you can plug into the cord. The rule of thumb is, the smaller the gauge number, the larger the power wattage of the electrical item.
To prevent unnecessary extension cord-related injuries on the job, follow these safety tips:
Using an extension cord incorrectly is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you’re not using one as permanent wiring, daisy chaining (plugging one extension cord into another and another, etc.), or using one surge protector or power strip to power another.
FIRE PREVENTION: It starts with you
The leading causes of workplace fires are electrical failures, the misuse of electrical equipment, friction, open flames and smoking. That’s why we’re counting on you to reduce the risk of fire by practicing the following fire prevention tips:
Be accountable…immediately notify a supervisor if you notice a potential fire hazard.
Cyber security researchers recently announced the discovery of two major security flaws that could allow hackers to bypass regular security measures and obtain normally inaccessible data. The flaws, referred to as Meltdown and Spectre, are both caused by design flaws found in nearly all modern processors. These vulnerabilities can be exploited to access all of the data found in personal computers, servers, cloud computing services and mobile devices.
Because Meltdown and Spectre are both caused by design flaws, experts believe that they will be harder to fix than traditional security exploits. Additionally, software patches that have already been released to help address the vulnerabilities can cause computer systems to slow down significantly, which may impact their ability to perform regular tasks.
Researchers believe that Meltdown and Spectre may be limited to processors manufactured by different companies, but also warn that the design flaws that contribute to Meltdown and Spectre have been present for years. Here are some key details about each flaw:
reported them to major hardware and software companies so work on security fixes could begin without alerting hackers. As a result, services and applications offered by companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon have already been updated to help defend against the flaws. However, you shouldn’t rely solely on a software patch to protect against these vulnerabilities. Here are some steps you can take to protect your computer systems and devices from Meltdown and Spectre:
DID YOU KNOW
According to Forbes Magazine, a person with no debt and $10 in his or her pocket has more wealth than 25 percent of Americans.
Planning for a Future of Financial Stability
Obtaining the peace of mind financial stability brings starts with reviewing your current financial resources. This is important because your financial resources affect not only your ability to reach your goals, but your ability to protect those goals from potential financial crises. These are the resources you will draw on to meet various life events. Start by calculating your net worth—this isn’t as difficult as it might sound. Your net worth is simply the total value of what you own: your assets, minus what you owe (your liabilities). It’s a snapshot of your financial health.
First, add up the approximate value of all of your assets. This includes personal possessions, vehicles, homes, checking and savings accounts, and the cash value (not the death benefits) of any life insurance policies you may have. Include the current value of investments, such as stocks, real estate, certificates of deposit, retirement accounts, IRAs and the current value of any pensions you have.
Now add up your liabilities: the remaining mortgage on your home, credit card debt, student and personal loans taxes due on the profits of your investments if you cashed them in and any other outstanding bills. Subtract your liabilities from your assets. Do you have more assets than liabilities? Or the other way around? If so, don’t beat yourself up. According to Forbes Magazine, a person with no debt and $10 in his or her pocket has more wealth than 25 percent of Americans.
Your aim is to create a positive net worth, and you want it to grow each year. Your net worth is part of what you will draw on to pay for financial goals and your retirement. A strong net worth also will help you through financial crises. Review your net worth annually as a good way to monitor your financial health. Websites like Mint.com help you keep track of your income, expenses and net worth on a daily basis.
Identify other financial resources. You may have other financial resources that aren’t included in your net worth but that can help you through tough times. These include the death benefits of your life insurance policies, Social Security survivor’s benefits, health care coverage, disability insurance, liability insurance, and auto and home insurance. Although you may have to pay for some of these resources, they offer financial protection in case of illness, accidents or other catastrophes.
Healthy Portion Sizes
For a general idea of the amount of food you should be consuming, use the following recommendations:
Making Time for Fitness
The Importance of Knowing Your Numbers
Employees that work outside in the winter months are at risk of serious health problems, including hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration and muscle injuries. What’s more, frigid temperatures can also cause additional pain for those who suffer from arthritis and rheumatism.
Common symptoms of cold-related illnesses and injuries include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue, confusion, white or grayish skin, skin that feels waxy and numbness.
To reduce the risk of cold-induced injuries, consider doing the following:
It’s important to note that many people do not notice they are suffering from cold-related illnesses because their tissue is numb. Therefore, it is wise for employees to check on each other periodically when working outdoors in the cold.
If employees experience any symptoms of cold-related illnesses and injuries, they should get indoors, alert their supervisor and call for medical attention if symptoms do not subside.
When it comes to money matters, no one likes to be surprised by the feeling that they’ve been shortchanged. That’s why it’s important that you understand how your insurance policy responds to potential personal property losses.
When insuring your personal possessions on your homeowners or renters insurance policy, you have one of two coverage options: insuring for your property’s actual cash value or the cost to replace it. Find out the difference and why we recommend replacement cost coverage.
Replacement Cost Coverage
When insuring your possessions on your homeowners or rental insurance policy, opting for replacement cost coverage provides you the best reimbursement option. Why? With replacement cost coverage, you collect the full cost to replace the item, less your deductible. Here’s an example to illustrate the benefit of replacement cost coverage:
The furniture you bought a few years ago for $650 is now worth only $100, but today costs $900 to replace. With replacement cost coverage, you would collect $900 to replace the furniture, minus your deductible. With actual cash value, you would get reimbursed $100, minus your deductible. Remember, the age and type of possession impacts the depreciated amount, which can be pennies on the dollar.
While your personal property is covered under your homeowners or renters insurance, policy limits do apply. To insure your valuable items—such as jewelry, fine art or antiques—consider scheduling these high-value items on an endorsement or policy floater.
For all endorsed items, an appraisal or sales receipt is typically required. This will help ensure that, in the event of a covered loss, the amount of insurance is enough to cover the replacement, repair or cash payment of the item.
If you haven’t documented your possessions on a home inventory list, it may be hard to replace them.
While your homeowners or rental insurance policy will cover you in the event of a burglary or fire, up to the policy’s limits, you’ll still need a thorough inventory list, including photos or video. With insurance fraud on the rise, it’s important to have a home inventory list and to keep the information up to date. Storing this information in a safe place is highly recommended.
Workplace-sponsored holiday parties present a host of liabilities for organizations each year. Factors like choice of venue and employees’ religious affiliations can create friction even before alcohol is thrown into the mix. Below are some best practices for hosting a successful holiday party.
1. Update Your Employee Handbook
Prior to the event, make sure your employee handbook is up to date regarding applicable holiday party topics, including the following:
2. Make it Optional
Generally, if a workplace function is mandatory, employees must be compensated for their time. Depending on the number of employees, enforcing and tracking attendance may be difficult. With this in mind, it can simply be easier to make the party optional.
3. Keep it Festive
There are many arguments concerning the appropriateness of observing one holiday over another. For instance, some workplaces may favor a “Christmas party” over a more inclusive celebration. However, focusing on the holiday spirit—and avoiding religious celebrations—can help avoid unwanted employee divisions or discrimination suits.
4. Control or Limit Alcohol
Many organizations offer alcohol at holiday parties, but that comes with additional risks. Consider some of the following methods to help control employee consumption:
5. Designate a Monitor
If you decide to offer alcohol, make sure there is a company-designated person to flag inappropriate behavior and ensure everyone leaves the party safely.
Focusing on the holiday spirit—and avoiding religious celebrations—can help avoid unwanted employee divisions or discrimination suits.