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STORM SEASON
Important Note:

June through November our agency may become prohibited from binding coverage should a “Tropical Disturbance” enter the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea.

In these cases we may be unable to bind new coverage quoted in open proposals until the storm leaves our area and our binding authority has been restored.

Please arrange your coverage protection early to avoid this type of delay. While we regret any inconvenience, the carriers impose these restrictions on all agencies.

Top 7 Biggest Money Mistakes

There are many money mistakes which continue to plague Americans and see them sink into debt and poverty. To help you avoid them and live a prosperous life, we’ve compiled 7 of the biggest money mistakes that we regularly see Americans doing.

1. Failing to set goals

Whether you’re aiming to be mortgage-free or to be able to afford fancy vacations every year, you need to set financial goals and hold yourself accountable to them. Quantify your goals and set targets for your finances; it’s the best way to keep yourself on track.

2. Committing to a 30-Year Mortgage

Having a 15-year mortgage may seem daunting, but it will save you an awful lot of money on interest in the long run. For example, if you get a 30-year mortgage with a 3.5% interest rate attached, you may incur around $150,000 in interest over those 30 years. Paying for the same home with a 15-year mortgage, however, sees you paying around only $70,000 in interest.

3. Buying small, unnecessary purchases

So many Americans spend small sums of money regularly which they don’t need to, and then wonder where all their money seems to have gone. For example, do you buy your lunch from a café every day rather than taking a prepacked lunch to work? Even if you save yourself $3 or $4 per day on your lunch break, that’s over $1,000 over the course of the year. Stop buying things you don’t need if there’s a cheaper alternative!

4. Relinquishing your financial responsibilities

Giving control of your finance’s to your spouse can be very dangerous, especially if your spouse passes away, becomes very ill, or you get a divorce. It’s essential to remain up-to-date on your financial accounts, and if you turn your investments over to a financial consultant or a broker, be sure to keep an eye on what’s being done with your money.

5. Not saving for your retirement properly

Save around 10% to 15% of your income for your retirement, even if you’re younger. People in their 20s and 30s can inevitably delay their retirement payments, as it seems like it’s a very long time away, which it is! Nonetheless, saving for your retirement early allows you to rest assured that the money is there as you age.

6. Cashing out your retirement funds

50% of Americans will cash out their 401(k) balances upon changing a job. Some people may also take out loans against their 401(k) balances, which can ultimately reduce the amount of earnings they would have seen otherwise. Tax-deferred retirement plans, like a 401(k), are a good way to save money for your golden years. You should, however, avoid the temptation to cash them out before you’re grey and old.

7. Having too much credit card debt

Stay away from credit cards and pay for things in cash whenever you can. People who are rich and financially smart simply do not go around buying a bunch of things on credit – they don’t see why they should pay more over the long term. If you can’t buy something in full with cash, then don’t buy it. It’s really that simple – you can wait.

These 7 mistakes are just the tip of the iceberg! With over 81% of Americans reportedly being in debt, it appears that we have a lot of work to do in order to get more and more US bank accounts out of the red and into the black. If you’re looking for more advice and tips about saving money, feel free to get in touch with us today!

5 Ways to Eliminate Costly Employee Benefit Mistakes

Employee benefits can be costly for a small business, often increasing an employee’s base salary by as much as 40%. Despite the costs involved, these benefits are often required in order to keep employees happy and to stop them from working for your competitors.

Many business owners, however, forget about the fees and fines which can be issued when common mistakes occur with their employee benefits. Here we’ve outlined 5 ways of eliminating costly employee benefit mistakes, allowing you to save money and rest assured that you’re doing the right thing.

1. Don’t give them all away for free

If employee benefits are free, the vast majority of people will simply take them. Why? Because they’re free, so they might as well – it’s not coming at any cost to them. However, if you provide benefits which the employee has to pay for or subsidize with their salary, they may think twice about how much they want that benefit. This is a good way of ascertaining how much your employees “actually” want certain benefits.

2.Covering unqualified employees or non-employees

Some (though not many) employees cover relatives or friends by purchasing group health plans. Claim denials, investigations and cancellations can easily come as a result of this. To easily see who is eligible for insurance, check your employee’s working hours via their WR-30.

3. Give them benefits that they actually want

Consider how much your employees are actually benefitting from the benefits you are providing them. For example, if you’ve got a workforce full of Millennials and Gen-Z-ers who are largely 30 and under, they’re probably not too concerned with life insurance coverage or pension plans at this stage in their lives; they’d probably rather have a pay rise!

4. Misinforming your employees about their benefits

Many employees will expect that you, as their employer, are providing them with adequate insurance coverage. If this is not true, however, you need to inform them. You could get yourself in a lot of trouble if you misinform your employees about their benefits, or even if you fail to inform them at all. Consider drafting an annual or quarterly statement for all your employees, informing them of the full scope of their employee benefits.

5. Not filing paperwork correctly

It can be very difficult to file insurance plans for different employees’ specific jobs if you aren’t completely familiar with their duties. Assuming you aren’t micromanaging your employees 24/7, you may find it difficult to detail their duties correctly. You can also run into similar paperwork problems for group health plans, as there is only a small window of time in which to enroll new employees onto the plan. Filing paperwork incorrectly can inevitably lead to costly legal fees should issues arise.

Providing employee benefits allows any businesses to build employee morale and thrive among their competitors. Nonetheless, it can be easy to make mistakes which will cost your business money down the road. Looking for more information and advice on employee benefits and insurance? Get in touch with us now!

What You Need to Know Before Buying Business Insurance

There are many reasons why a business may choose a less-than-adequate insurance policy. Business owners may be looking to save money, or they may simply not be taking into account the risks and liabilities attached to their operations. Despite many business owners’ hesitance, it is always a good idea to be alert of risks for your business and to patent your unique ideas. Legal proceedings can easily crush your business should they come about, especially if you’re not armed with a decent insurance policy.

So, having illustrated the importance of business insurance, what types are there? Here we give you a rundown of the different types of business insurance available.
Different Types of Business Insurance

These insurance types will be suited to certain businesses and industries more than others, so be sure to conduct a thorough assessment of the policy and read all the fine print before you come to any conclusions on which insurance is best for your business.

  • General liability insurance: This insurance covers the legal liabilities resulting from injuries, accidents, or negligence claims. It is essential to have general liability insurance when operating a business. General liability insurance will cover property damage, damages incurred from medical expenses, legal defense fees, court settlements, and more.
  • Product liability insurance: If your company sells, manufactures or distributes goods, then you need to have product liability insurance. The degree of risk attached to your goods will determine your premium. A company selling vehicle parts will have a higher degree of risk than a company selling clothes, for example.
  • Commercial property insurance: If your buildings are vandalized, stolen from, or damaged by a natural disaster, this insurance is designed to protect your assets. You will subsequently be able to cover lost income and business interruption costs, as well as many other forms of damages.
  • Errors and omissions insurance: This insurance is for companies which sell services rather than products. Numerous US states will actually require proof of errors and omission insurance before you can open your business’s doors legally. Malpractice insurance (for physicians) is a common type of this insurance.

Protecting Your Business in Other Ways

Patents

There are other ways to protect your business too, though they are more optional than they are mandatory. We would recommend, however, protecting your intellectual property with a legal patent. Being issued a patent means that your competitors cannot create or sell your product(s) within the United States.

There are two main types of patents available – utility patents, which protect machines and processes, and design patents, which protect your product’s overall ornamental design. Patents are a great way on ensuring that your competitors don’t steal your ideas or adapt them in order to siphon your customers and profits away from you.

Trademarks

You can also copyright, trademark, or create a registered trademark for your brand. A registered trademark is the most powerful of the three options, legally speaking, as requires you to file an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office. If approved, you’ll receive a federal registration certificate for your registered trademark.

Trademarks (regular ones) and copyrights don’t necessitate any paperwork or documentation; your intellectual property assumes copyright automatically under US federal law. Copyright does have its problems, however, and can lead to bitter legal battles as different parties claim ownership of a “copyrighted” thing.
It’s important to protect your business with the right insurance policies and documents, but it can be hard to know the best way to do this. If you’re looking to find out more about business insurance and other legal protections, get in touch with us today!

Protecting Younger Construction Workers

BuildForce Canada estimates that around 21% of the labour force (over 132,000 workers) will retire between the years of 2018 and 2027, necessitating replacements in the near future. A new influx of younger workers is said to meet the new demand, with over 125,000 workers aged 30 and younger now entering the construction industry.

However, there are safety concerns about the sudden influx of younger workers, who are statistically more likely to experience deaths or injuries on construction sites due to their lack of experience in health and safety practices when compared to their older and more experienced counterparts.

Safety and construction associations are aware of this risk, with Tammy Oliver, Senior Director of the BC Construction Safety Alliance, saying that the BCCSA is offering health and safety-related courses to young people who wish (or need) to receive formal safety qualifications for industries such as roadbuilding and construction. The alliance also offers hazard awareness training programs too.

WorkSafeBC is also said to offer health and safety programs to new and emerging workers, with the Young Worker Speaker program being created to assist parent advisory councils and secondary schools that have concerns about young workers’ safety. Spokeswoman Erica Simpson claims that the program supplies speakers with unique experience and skills, allowing them to educate other young people and encourage them to take safety procedures seriously.

Terry Bogyo, a BC consultant, says that young construction worker deaths and injuries are a many-sided issue.

 “The loss of limbs, function, and life of anyone is serious, but, in the case of young workers, the potential years of life lost or the disability-adjusted years of life imposed are that much greater.”

Discussing how some younger workers may ignore safety rules in order to impress their new bosses, Bogyo goes on to say “we need a top-down change in what is important on a work site… Supervisors need to make it clear all the time that safety trumps production.”

Bogyo expresses the opinion that the frequent use of safety messages in construction workplace communication will eventually lead to an increase in site safety, as well as a drop in procedure violations.

Training is also a big concern for young construction worker safety, with other countries, such as Australia, being quoted as having superior training systems to Canada, at least when it comes to building sites. Bogyo goes on to explain how the Australian construction training system is designed to ensure that everyone uses the same vocabulary and has the same basic training, ensuring consistency and straightforward communication between workers.

Jeff Lyth, a Vancouver health and safety consultant, says that employers and their workers must think more deeply about hazards and the associated risks if they wish to see a drop in accidents. Many employers simply focus on rule and regulation changes, but Lyth argues that this is not enough to protect construction workers from deaths and injuries in their workplace.


Looking to learn about insurance for construction workers? Get in touch and see what we can do for you today.

Wellness Program Ideas Worth Leveraging

A healthy and happy workforce is key to controlling costs in the workplace. By reducing stress and emphasizing wellness, employees benefit and spend less time on sick leave. The company benefits too with increased morale, productivity, and reduced insurance costs.

Other company’s are leveraging these techniques and you may want to consider them as well…

Run “Biggest Loser” Contests

Create a competition to reward the biggest healthy loss of weight within a definite period of time. Rather than measuring actual pounds lost, concentrate on percentage of body weight. This way, individuals who are sensitive about their weight can safely participate. Give bonus points for employees that achieve a healthy BMI regardless of percentage weight loss.

Zero-Gain Challenge

Offer employees the opportunity to earn zero-gain rewards around their birthdays and holidays. Participants will weigh themselves on November 1 and again on January 31. For birthdays they could weigh a month before and a month afterward. Award a prize to every worker who maintains his or her weight through the contest period.

Race Entry Reimbursement

Support your team’s fitness goals by sponsoring them for entry fees into races. These events will give them a challenge to train towards completing those races, furthering your wellness program efforts. Encourage your employees to race together, and you can realize team-building benefits as well.

Fitbit Challenge

Everyone can benefit from moving. Encourage your employees to walk, jog or run more each day by organizing a Fitbit challenge. Provide participants with tracking devices (you may be able to negotiate a discounted price if you purchase in bulk from a retailer) and set a variety of goals to accommodate workers at different fitness levels. Attach a reward to the achievement of each goal; you can award anything from medals or plaques to gift cards and extra time off.

Need other wellness program ideas? Contact us today for assistance with this or any other employee benefits assistance.

Should You Choose a Geriatrician for Primary Care?

Seniors are the fastest-growing segment of America’s population. By 2020, seniors will make up 16% of the U.S. population. As our nation continues to age, we’ll require more medical care and better access to medical services.

If you’re a senior, you know firsthand the specific medical needs that come with aging. So do geriatricians. As they specialize in helping seniors live healthy and balanced lives, they are the right medical professional to seek as you age.

If you have concerns with challenges listed below, it may be time to seek the help of a geriatrician…

 1. Frailty— It’s a nearly unpreventable part of aging, however frailty– defined by signs that include sudden weight loss, muscular tissue loss as well as weakness– could affect your capacity to live on your own. A geriatrician can help protect against or deal with frailty as well as creating a treatment strategy if necessary.

 2. Persistent medical problems— Managing multiple medical conditions is challenging. Joint inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, amnesia and mental deterioration when combined can be detrimental to quality of life. Geriatricians understand how these conditions evolved as well as ways to manage them concurrently.

 3. Numerous medicines— If you have multiple medical conditions, you’re probably managing them with more than one medicine. Geriatricians understand how medicines work together in a senior’s body. They also help to manage prescriptions to reduce negative side effects.

 4. Psychological challenges— Aging naturally features some degree of cognitive decrease & memory loss. Nonetheless, some senior citizens deal with less common conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, that need proper treatment. Geriatricians can differentiate the typical indicators of old age versus more major ailments.

 5. Caregiver assistance— Seniors may eventually require assistance with day-to-day tasks such as showering, toileting, clothing as well as simply eating. They might depend on family to care for them or hire outside help. A geriatrician can assist you– and also your family members– in deciding when it’s the right time to employ the help of a home health assistant or move to a caring nursing center.

If you’re ready to work with a geriatrician, ask your current health care professional for a recommendation. You can also look at these other resources:

http://www.healthinaging.org/find-a-geriatrics-healthcare-professional/

https://doctor.webmd.com/find-a-doctor/specialty/internal-medicine-geriatrics

For a Better Night’s Sleep, Do This

Did you get at least seven hours of top quality sleep last night? If your response is no, you’re not alone. According to one nationwide survey, 30 percent of folks polled get 6 hrs or less of sleep.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that a lack of sleep is a public health concern. This is because a lack of sleep increases disease and lowers quality of life.

To fix sleep challenges, follow these steps…

 1. Get outside more.

One sleep deficiency study discovered that the more “fresh air” someone gets, the more likely they were to report a good night’s sleep. So spend a long time each weekend in your city’s parks or walk in your neighborhood after dinner. It’s much better than spending hours in front of the TV. The fresh air will improve your rest even if you’re only able to get outside a few times every week.

Also, being outside in all-natural sunlight is ideal. So many of us spend most of our days confined in windowless offices. Exposure to sunshine is needed to establish as well as keep a normal circadian rhythm.

2. Establish a regular routine.

Spontaneity can be exciting, but it’s not a ideal for rest. Scientists have determined that maintaining consistent habits — from when you get up, to when you work out — substantially affect one’s ability to rest. They believe that adhering to a regimen can program your body’s biological rhythms and better sleep is a natural outcome of this “programming”.

3. Make time for exercise.

It doesn’t matter what time you choose to work out. In fact even a vigorous workout right before bed is beneficial. Regardless of when the workout occurs, 97% of folks report significantly better sleep on the days they exercise.

Watch out For These Payroll Tax Mistakes

If you run a small company or a large one… you have many responsibilities. One that can cause quite a bit of headaches is taking care of pay-roll tax obligations. It’s easy to make mistakes and the penalties can be large.

So review these tips to avoid those headaches…

Misclassification of Employees

Hiring independent contractors to avoid paying typical expenses associated with employees is a growing trend. However, there are specific tests to determine whether these “independent contractors” should actually be classified as employees instead. For example, if you control what they do, when they show up for work they are not independent. (You can learn more about employee classification by visiting the IRS site here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understanding-employee-vs-contractor-designation)

Reimbursements

If you regularly repay employees for job-related expenses such as traveling on the companies behalf, you need to have a solid system in place to track these expenses and prove they are legitimate business expenses. This way your workers will not pay tax on the reimbursements.

Insufficient Payroll Records

All companies with employees must maintain consistent reliable pay-roll records. This consists of time sheets and pay-roll tax calculations along with copies of W-2s and I-9s. It is important to save these records for at least 4 years.

Making Use Of Withholdings to Pay Other Operational Costs

Never make use of withholdings to cover other company expenses. Regardless of your company’s financial condition, you must ensure those funds are kept separate and untouchable. If you do, you’ll run afowl of the IRS and face significant penalties.

Skimping on Oversight

Yes you can outsource payroll to a 3rd party company. However, you are still ultimately responsible if they make a mistake. As the business owner, you must make sure all reporting is handled properly and is accurate.

For other insights on how we can help you protect yourself from the risks of running a business, be sure to reach out to one of our professionals. We are here to help!

Preventing Dog Bites

Preventing Dog Bites

We love our dogs… the wagging tails… the kisses. And yet dog ownership has challenges. Dogs bite more than 4.5 million people each year. Of those, nearly 900,000 are severe enough to require medical intervention.

In addition, dog bites are costly. The typical cost per canine attack case settled through insurance is over $28,000. It’s a big number. It’s also why home insurance rates go up when you get a new dog…

Thankfully, there are actions you can take to decrease the chances of your dog biting or attacking someone.

First, choose your dog carefully. There are varying viewpoints on whether dogs of certain types are much more hazardous than others are or if home atmosphere has more to do with a pet’s nature. Speak with your veterinarian regarding prospective behavior and also wellness problems connected with details breeds.

Also, talk to our team about potential dog breeds that may be excluded from being protected your insurance coverage representative regarding breeds omitted from protection under your house owner’s insurance plan.

Next, introduce your family pet to your pet early. Well-socialized puppies are more likely to become grown-up pets who feel comfortable around people and other animals. It’s also good to keep exposing your dog to new situations…

Also be sure you you keep your child is older because nearly 50% of all severe dog bites involve youngsters. A good age is at least 4 years old. Kids of this age are better able to understand how to behave around your dog. And NEVER leave your baby or young child alone with a dog, no matter how much you trust the dog.

Finally, be sure to take care of your dog’s health. From spaying or neutering to controlling parasites… your dog’s health impacts their attitude. Be sure your dog also is seen by a vet regularly an is properly vaccinated.

Whether you already own a pet dog or are considering bringing a pooch into your home, give us a call to assess your insurance coverage responsibility coverage for bites and various other pet-related injuries. We’re here to help!

Are you a Woman? Don’t Ignore This…

Heart disease is a significant issue for women… And many women disregard the symptoms and signs of cardiovascular disease… or don’t know what they are. At least 1 in 4 women don’t know how serious heart disease is.

Decrease your risk by being informed…

It’s important to understand that heart issues can affect all ages. Symptoms and signs to look for consist of:

  • Extended chest and also upper body discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in the back, neck, or jaw
  • Anxiety, weak point, wooziness, as well as nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the arms or shoulder region
  • Difficulty breathing

Keep Talking With Your Doctor

Of women surveyed, 63% confessed to cancelling doctor visits. 45% said they cancelled their doctors appointment because they wanted to lose weight before being seen. Heart disease is something that is dangerous and requires immediate intervention. Working with your doctor is important. Regardless of how you feel about your body image, start consulting with your doctor as soon as possible to being tracking your health.

Be Proactive

A surprisingly high variety of medical professionals report they do not go over cardiovascular disease with their patients. It is very important you work with a doctor who understands women’s health issues and how serious cardiovascular disease is for women. Regardless, do not wait for your physician to bring up heart disease. Know the signs and symptoms and also organize your health and wellness.

If you like seeing information on health and wellness, please call us with any type of insurance coverage related inquiries today.