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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.

5 Uses For Life Insurance Benefits

Life insurance allows you to secure a financial future for your loved ones after you die, so it’s essential to make sure that you have a plan in place. The money not only helps to pay for your funeral, it can provide your family with inheritance funds and more. Some additional uses for your life insurance benefits are as follows.

Funeral costs and final costs

Life insurance policy benefits can be used for what are called “final expenses”, including things such as cremation or funeral costs, as well as certain medical bills and estate administration fees. A mortgage balance can even be covered by your life insurance benefits, among other financial obligations.

Income replacement

Sometimes life insurance benefits can serve as a replacement for your income if you pass away. This allows your beneficiaries to pay for essential things such as mortgages and college tuition funds for children.

Inheritance

You can buy a life insurance policy which names an heir as a beneficiary. Life insurance benefits can also supplement other inheritance funds for your heirs too, allowing you to leave your loved ones with the funds they deserve.

Estate taxes

Upon receiving their inheritance, your heirs may be taxed with an estate tax. Life insurance benefits can fully or partially help your beneficiaries to pay off these taxes, allowing them to have fewer financial worries in their difficult time.

Contributions to charity

You can name a favorite charity as your beneficiary on a life insurance policy, ensuring that a portion of your funds will be allocated to a charity of your choice after you pass on. It doesn’t matter if your funds are relatively small, most charities will be happy to receive them!

Looking to find out more about life insurance benefits? Get in touch to find out more about how to secure your finances after you pass away.

Essential Things to Know About Financial Planning

Financial planning is like dieting – you need to change your habits for life if you want to see consistent results and reach your goals. With that said, it can be very hard to know how to financially plan for your future. Here we offer you some tips for financial planning, allowing you to remain confident that your finances are (and will be) in order for the future.

Acquire an emergency fund

Before you do anything else financially, save up and make a rainy day fund. You should start by establishing an emergency fund, which should ideally be around 3-6 months’ worth of your pay. Medical emergencies and job losses are not uncommon, and it’s important to be prepared for the worst case scenario at all times. The goal is to ensure that you could continue your current lifestyle and spending patterns if a disaster struck you out of nowhere.

Develop good habits

Although people look for quick-fix solutions a lot of the time, people who are financially well-off simply tend to develop good everyday habits that save them small amounts of money on a daily basis. As you may have guessed, these small savings soon add up over time. An endowment plan is a good way to save up for short-term goals, as it encourages you to be disciplined and its compounding ROI helps your funds to increase over time.

When it comes to long-term goals, you need to think about things such as retirement planning. Pension funds are important, so take advantage if your company offers one. If you don’t have a retirement fund or pension plan in place, be sure to open one sooner rather than later. The sooner you open a fund, the bigger it will be when it comes time to cash it out in many years’ time.

Diversify your portfolio

Diversifying your portfolio allows you to minimize your risks in the event of an economic downturn. Asset allocation strategies (within your risk threshold) can also be incredibly useful too. When you diversify your portfolio, you protect yourself against certain market crashes. For example, you’ll be in a terrible situation if you invest in nothing but real estate and then we see another housing crash!

Look into professional help

A professional financial planner can help you to make sense of all the companies and financial products on the market; they can be very complex and hard to understand if you’re not experienced! A good planner can get you a plan that suits you, and should aim to tailor your plan as your circumstances change in life. If you get married or change jobs, for example, it can be useful to have your finances reexamined thoroughly by a professional.

Remain strict and disciplined

Stick to your financial plans or don’t bother with them at all – it’s that simple. Although there will be inevitable slip-ups in your plans (because life happens) you need to stick to your goals consistently if you want to see results. Assets need time in order to grow, so be patient! If it helps you to do so, ask your loved ones and friends to hold you accountable for your spending, forcing them to rein you in and make you be sensible with your money. Balancing the three financial pillars of earning, spending, and saving takes practice and discipline, but stick with them and don’t lose hope.

If you’re looking for more advice on financial planning and securing yourself a decent amount of savings and assets, get in touch with us today!

The Year in Healthcare: A Focus on Cost Management

It appears that cost management is of increasing importance to employers, with employers being willing to experiment with new ways of stemming expenses. There has been a growth of group captives in recent years, whereby employers keep their self-funded plans with group stop-loss insurance. This stems the risk and allows the self-funding of smaller groups.

Although the interest in self-insured captive insurance has grown, there remains to be confusion surrounding the arrangements. The president and founder of Roundstone LLC, Mike Schroeder, outlined 5 common misconceptions in an EBA article recently. Among the misconceptions, it is commonly believed that these captives result in higher costs than fully insured renewals; self-funding them is too complex; and that some businesses are too small to see any real benefits to them.

Mick Rodgers, EBA’s 2017 Adviser of the Year, also reshaped health insurance for his firm, which has a dozen employees serving 256 employers group with 16,530 lives. Rodgers then made 4 healthcare purchasing coalitions, consisting of more than 11,000 members from 64 middle-market employers. The employers had headcounts from 100 to 500 employees, hailing from 35 different states. At a mere $7,065 PEPY as of 2016, their health benefits were 41% less than the US average of $11,990 PEPY.
Healthcare reform efforts go on

Healthcare reform shows no signs of slowing down, with a constant “will they won’t they” situation seeming to surround healthcare reform all through 2017. The Senate didn’t pass GOP legislation, though the industry is still searching for an alternative to the Affordable Care Act’s requirements regarding reporting.

President Trump’s tax reform bill includes a repeal of the individual mandate. This has made employers rather worried if healthy employees decide not to purchase health coverage, as the employers may see potentially adverse selections. The individual mandate’s repeal has worried many business groups, with business groups worrying that it may cause the health insurance marketplace to become volatile and unstable. It may also move costs towards stable health insurance customers and employers too.

Trump signed an executive order in October which ordered federal agencies to take certain actions as a result of federal rule-making. Association health plans could potentially be created by small employers grouping together, allowing them to buy insurance together, rather than via Obamacare. Trump’s executive order also encourages the expansion of low-cost, short-term, limited insurance plans, in addition to using tax-advantaged accounts to pay off healthcare-related expenses.

Employer groups continued to call for the repeal of supposedly harmful ACA taxes throughout 2017. The US Chamber of Commerce and the ERISA Industry Committee wish to see the repeal of the Cadillac tax and the Health Insurance Tax, as these are two notoriously disliked provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

As governments change and power is constantly shifted back and forth in the White House, healthcare plans can inevitably hang in the balance. If you wish to remain abreast of the latest situations (and get great advice) then get in touch with us!

Tips that help you avoid business insurance mistakes

It’s essential to find the right business insurance for your company, especially if you manage a small business with limited finances. Although every insurance provider will try to sell itself to you, which one actually offers you the best deal overall? You need to ensure that you protect your business, your customers, and your employees without breaking the bank or making regrettable mistakes. Here we offer you some tips on choosing the best business insurance for you and avoiding some common business insurance mistakes.

1. Sometimes you have to pay more

If you’re running a business, you’re undoubtedly counting your pennies very carefully, ensuring that your business stays afloat financially. This can often mean that you select cheap business insurance in order to keep costs down, but this may not be a very good idea. Cheap business insurance often will not cover property damage or common injuries, leaving business owners in a pickle when it comes time to claim. Always assess your options carefully, being sure to choose business insurance that is right for you overall. You may find a policy that covers everything you need at a bargain price; you just need to compare the market thoroughly.

2. What do you really need?

With that said, you easily purchase too much coverage as well. While it may feel satisfying to know that you’re comprehensively covered, you may be wasting your money if you simply do not need all of the coverage. As an example, if you run a retail business which sells clothes, you’re probably not going to need coverage for protecting your business against slander and libelous statements. Similarly, if you run a business which manufactures equipment, you probably won’t require malpractice insurance like a doctor would, for example. Buy the insurance that will actually benefit you in areas that are relevant to you. Purchasing extensive insurance policies for the sake of it could be a waste of money unless you got an amazing deal.

3. Get professional help

Getting professional help allows you to consult with an insurance professional throughout your decision-making and insurance-purchasing processes. It can be frustrating to evaluate your insurance options alone, especially if you don’t have extensive knowledge of the industry.

Business insurance brokers can guide you through the process and offer impartial advice on the best insurance solution for your company. Business insurance brokers work independently, allowing them to pit companies against one another in order to shop around and get you the best deal from competing insurance companies. They can also offer you advice on getting coverage that protects all the essential aspects of your company, as well as for many other things too.

If you are still without adequate business insurance, you need to act quickly in order to secure yourself a policy! Accidents do happen, and they will always happen at the most inopportune moments.

Business insurance allows you to run your business while safe in the knowledge that you’re covered for any accidents and incidents which may occur. Looking for more advice on insuring your business? Get in touch today!

Common Types of Construction Insurance Coverage and How To Select a Carrier

It is important to assess the risks associated with construction projects before looking for insurance. The policy limits and terms in your insurance need to suit to your construction project and must be able to cover any losses you may incur. Construction projects are inherently risky operations, meaning that selecting the right insurance is particularly crucial to a project’s long-term survival.

First of all, let’s look at some of the most common types of construction insurance coverage.

1. Commercial General Liability coverage

When it comes to construction projects, CGL (Commercial General Liability) is the most common form of insurance policy. Standard CGL policies insure commercial enterprises against property damage and bodily injury, with these terms being greater defined in the policy documentation. You should bear in mind, however, that a CGL policy does not cover the cost of repairing defective work; it only covers the damage which results from said defective work. Repair claims usually differ from contract to contract, so it is crucial to pay close attention to the warranty and indemnification processes outlined in the policy.

2. “Umbrella” policies

Umbrella policies are most often useful for large contractors who run large-scale construction projects. An umbrella policy will normally come in addition to a CGL policy, as CGL policies have limits which may not cover all the liabilities at stake. An Umbrella policy allows the contractor to “fill in” this gap, as it were.

3. “Builder’s Risk” policies

This type of coverage protects specific builders from specific workplace dangers that they face regularly. These policies usually require the owner, the subcontractors and the general contractors to be named. Builder’s risk policies can cover the structure itself, as well as the materials involved. Builder’s risk policies usually have terms of duration strictly outlined, and usually cover you in the event of things such as wind, fire, lightning, theft, explosions, vandalism, and much more. Common exclusions from these policies include employee theft, earthquakes, flood damage, government action, wars, damages due to mechanical equipment breakdown, and much more. As with any insurance policy, be sure to read the fine print and find out what you are (and are not) covered for.

4. Professional Liability Coverage

Construction projects involving design usually see most of the professional liability lying with the design professional. As the industry changes, however, increasing amounts of contractors are working as designers and builders too, meaning that they assume the responsibility both for the design and the liability exposures too. People who work in this capacity will often purchase a PLC policy, as CGL is not designed to protect them in the same way.

5. Contractor’s Pollution Coverage policy

Pollution incidents are surprisingly common, and a Pollution Coverage policy provides coverage for third-party claims in the case of bodily injury or property damage. A Pollution Coverage policy may be especially useful if you’re involved in infrastructure, maintenance, demolition, HVAC services, carpentry, or any other similar field.

Advice for selecting a construction insurance carrier

Consider solvency when selecting an insurance carrier. What is their combined ratio? This combined ratio is the combination of the loss ratio and the expense ratio, and is said to indicate how well an insurance carrier is performing. The loss ratio is a measurement of the ratio of adjusting losses and costs against the number of premiums earned. On the other hand, the expense ratio is designed to measure the ratio of incurred business operation costs against written premiums.

If a company’s combined ratio is in excess of 100% for a year, then the insurance company has actually lost money during that period. The A.M Best Company rates insurance companies on a scale from A+ (excellent) to C (fair), taking their solvency into account. Try to aim for insurance carriers with A or A+ ratings!

Also consider whether the insurance carrier is admitted or non-admitted. Admitted carriers must comply with state’s Department of Insurance regulations, whereas non-admitted carriers are not required to comply with these regulations at all. This means that non-admitted carriers can be flexible with their rates, allowing them to provide insurance for higher-risk events which state-approved admitted carriers simply cannot be allowed to provide due to the financial implications.

What with the inevitable risks associated with construction projects, it is essential to acquire the right type of insurance that protects you, your employees, and your property from damages of all kinds. Bear in mind, nonetheless, to focus on what your policy DOES NOT cover, as these are the things which often catch contractors out, especially in high-risk environments such as construction sites.

Are you a contractor looking to find the best insurance policy for your needs? Get in touch for bespoke advice about construction insurance policies in your field and location.

I Have An Injured Employee: What Are My Responsibilities?

As an employer, you may be responsible for replenishing lost wages if one of your employees suffers a job-related injury. Most of the time, you will also be required to have workers’ compensation insurance, which is designed to pay a portion of your employee’s usual salary during the time in which they are recovering from a work-related illness or injury.

Some types of workers, such as railroad workers and independent contractors, are not covered by workers’ compensation laws. Additionally, employees can also sue their employers (albeit rarely) if they sustain injuries due to health and safety violations in a workplace or from employer negligence in general.

Is your employee’s injury work-related?

If your employee’s injury is truly work-related, meaning it happened during their work duties or performing a task on your organization’s behalf, then they can claim for workers’ compensation, as well as other forms of relief which you should provide for them. Sometimes your employees may even be covered if they have disregarded your workplace safety rules, for example, if they were “messing about” when they should have been working. This is contentious, however, and tends to divide state governments and courthouses across the country.

Generally speaking, to count as work-related, your employee’s injury has to have occurred during an employee’s work hours, which means that their lunch breaks are disregarded unless they spent it on your premises and suffered an injury in that time. Injuries resulting from drunkenness can still be deemed work-related, particularly if they occur during a work-sponsored Christmas party, for example.

If your employee has a pre-existing medical conditioned which is aggravated by working at your business, this also usually constitutes a workplace injury. Similarly, mental conditions can be treated the same as physical conditions if they are determined to have been sustained as a result of your workplace.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage

Most states will require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, though it’s worth noting that Wyoming and Idaho don’t require the coverage of undocumented workers. On the other hand, states such as California, Texas, and Arizona include undocumented workers specifically in their coverage of “workers”.

Domestic workers (such as nannies and babysitters), seasonal workers, undocumented workers and agricultural workers may not be deemed “workers” by many states, so be sure to take this into account when reviewing your Workers’ Compensation Coverage.

Employees who fall under the eligibility guidelines can file a claim for benefits, which is usually around two-thirds of their regular salary. However, they are not entitled to sue you for their injuries in court too. Nevertheless, employers must provide the insurance coverage which is required by the laws in their state. If they don’t, they could receive steep fines and legal troubles galore.

Employees who don’t qualify for Workers’ Comp benefits

Employees who are not covered by Workers’ Comp benefits are often still entitled to legal benefits and compensation from you. Independent contractors, for example, may have contracts which stipulate that an arbitrator settles legal disputes between you and them. Occasionally, in rare cases, an employee may try to sue you. However, this requires very specific circumstances, and is not likely to occur.

Employees who aren’t covered by the Workers’ comp agreements have other options available to them legally, such as the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, the Federal Employment Liability Act, the Merchant Marine Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Black Lung Benefits Act.

As you may have guessed, a lot of these legal acts are very industry-specific, relating to industries such as railroads, maritime business, and mining. Unless your business fits into these industries, it is unlikely that you will have to learn too much about them. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to check what options your injured employees have available to them, whether they’re covered by your insurance policies or not. It can be incredibly useful to be one step ahead of your injured employees, as it allows you to take precautions and predict the legal actions they may take.

Got an injured employee? Looking for legal advice about what your responsibilities are in this situation? Put your mind at ease today by getting touch with one of our knowledgeable advisors.

Workplace deaths on the rise; injuries/illnesses down

Workplace related deaths are rising as of last year while workplace illnesses have decreased. The top 3 non-fatal injuries being sprains, strains, tears.

There is a need to remain vigilant in protecting workers from death while continuing to also manage workplace safety to maintain overall individual health. Health affects safety and vice versa, so companies should take an integrated approach to enhance both their safety and health management capabilities.

The three most impacted industries for health and safety issues include:

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
  • Manufacturing
  • Health care and social assistance

(The health care/social assistance and manufacturing industries reported more than half (52.7 percent) of all private industry illness)

For workplace deaths, the leading cause by a wide margin is transportation incidents. The second cause is workplace violence… and both are on the rise.

The minorities suffering the largest increase in fatal injuries include Asian and African-American workers. Hispanic or Latino workers have actually seen a slight decrease in fatalities. In addition, foreign-born workers make up about 20% of the total fatal work injuries.

Age also is apparently playing a factor. Workers 55 and older saw a significant increase in fatal injuries when compared with other age groups. (In 1992 they made up about 20% of fatalities. By 2016 it was 36%.)

Steps to take in your company to avoid becoming one of the statistics:

  • Complete a health and safety audit at least once a year. Make sure it identifies factors for high risk of both fatality as well as injury… particularly from musculoskeletal diseases.
  • Be sure workers have a clear understanding of health and safety best practices.
  • Enforce solid health & safety practices and reward employees for finding ways to reduce health and safety risks. (Fear of reporting issues is a huge factor that creates situations leading to injuries and fatalities.)
  • Encourage workers to think about workplace procedures with the mindset “that all ill health and accidents are preventable”.

    Are you looking for more information about workplace safety? Perhaps you have concerns about your own workplace? Get in touch with us today, we can advise you risk management how it relates to your workplace.

Hedging 7 big retirement risks

Do you have enough money to last you throughout your retirement? A cornucopia of circumstances could easily see your retirement plans landing in the gutter, but here we offer you a look at some ways to reduce your retirement risks and look forward to your golden years without worry!

1. Plan to live for a long time

According to Stephen Horan, head of private wealth management for the CFA Institute and co-author of “The New Wealth Management”, the average American is currently likely to live to the ripe old age of 78. This is a big improvement on the 61-year life expectancy we could expect in the 1930s, when the Social Security program was first created.

If you exercise regularly, have a healthy diet, and have a history of longevity in your family, then you may see yourself getting closer and closer to a century of life. You should plan your life accordingly, aiming to save enough money to cover yourself if you do indeed live a very long time.

As Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher Investments says:

“Overwhelmingly, the biggest [risk] is the risk of outliving your money. Most people underestimate the amount of time they’re going to live, and they invest as if they’re going to die in 10 years.”

2. Take inflation into account

Let’s say that inflation occurs at a relatively low rate of 3% a year. Over 20 years, your money will have lost half of its total purchasing power. Cash amounts that sit in a bank account untouched simply lose their buying power as inflation inevitably marches on.

It is therefore very advisable to invest in inflation-protected securities or other investments (such as real estate) which will rise in value along with inflation. Investments such as stocks and housing allow your assets to remain valuable as prices increase, assuming that there isn’t a sudden economic crash.

3. Diversify your portfolio

Remember to diversify your portfolio, as this minimizes your potential losses if a sudden crash happens in one area, such as the housing market. Diversifying your portfolio leaves you with options in hard economic times!

4. Consider reinvestment strategies

It’s possible that your investments will mature at an inopportune moment, so remain prepared at all times. For example, a bond may be called earlier than expected, such as at a time when too-low interest rates cannot replace your investment with another similar and profitable investment.

Avoid having all your investments coming due simultaneously, and ensure that you have something coming due every year which can be repositioned into long-term interest rates.

5. Be aware of the sequence of returns

Set aside two years’ worth of living expenses, with it acting as a sort of buffer. You can draw down from this cash when the market is down, as opposed to selling parts of your portfolio. Similarly, you can sell your investment at a profit when the market is up and doing well.

If you’re looking to cover those essential living expenses, you can also purchase annuities and other investments with guaranteed returns. This allows you to only deal with the sequence of returns when it comes to your excess funds.

6. Protect yourself against fraud

Fraudsters (both online and offline) love to prey on the elderly, as they run the risk of being “behind the times” in terms of technology, and also run the risk of becoming cognitively challenged as they get older and older. Some fraudsters are also just incredibly good at tricking people, regardless of their age or health.

While you’re still fit and able, be sure to educate yourself on how the financial professionals in your life operate. How are they paid for their services? Are you paying them a fair amount? Are they incentivized to upsell you on things you don’t really need?

Ensure that you understand the processes that are going on concerning your money, and similarly ensure that you completely trust everyone who has access to (or control) of your finances in some way, shape, or form.

7. Understand tax implications

Good financial advisors will help you to withdraw from your investments without causing major damage to your financial portfolio. This financial advisor should also understand the tax implications of any investments of purchases too. Depending on where you live, your financial situation, and your circumstances, you could see yourself paying unreasonable amounts in taxes if you make unwise purchases and investments. Americans pay thousands of dollars in taxes every year, so you need to ensure that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to your assets’ tax implications.

Trying to find more ways to protect your retirement nest egg? The economy can take unexpected turns, so it’s important to have a foolproof financial plan in place for your golden years. Get in touch today for more advice about hedging your retirement risks!

5 health care predictions for the rest of 2018

In a recent New York Times interview, President Trump was quoted as saying the following regarding health plans:

“So now I have associations, I have private insurance companies coming and will sell private health care plans to people through associations. That’s gonna be millions and millions of people. People have no idea how big that is. And by the way, and for that, we’ve ended across state lines. So we have competition. You know for that I’m allowed to [inaudible] state lines. So that’s all done.”

Health policies in 2018 – 5 Predictions

Obamacare revisits

The fate of health policies is still relatively uncertain in 2018, with many people wondering if the Trump administration will continue to rollback Obama-era policies. Congress is said to be revisiting Obamacare this year, and it’s pretty likely that they will attempt a major overhaul of Obamacare in 2018.

Axios’s Sam Baker recently suggested that the tax bill increases the likelihood that the Republicans will work on healthcare-related policies this year. It is thought that repealing the individual mandate could negatively affect some state marketplaces, with insurers being reluctant to sell in places where fit and healthy people don’t have to buy coverage plans.

States trying to pass individual mandates

In response to new tax laws that no longer require American citizens to buy health insurance coverage, it is likely to many states attempt to pass state-level mandates in order to put this back into effect. Maryland, California, Washington State and the District of Columbia have already made noise about this. Though these efforts may not always work, it’s thought that some states may attempt to incentivize their citizens to buy insurance in other ways, such as via fines and higher premiums.

Big Medicaid changes

About six states want to make big changes to Medicaid policies. Medicare administrator Seema Verma has been reviewing these waivers for some time now, though she tends to support the changes the states want to make. In a recent speech at the National Association of Medicaid Directors, she has this to say:

“For people living with disabilities, CMS has long believed that meaningful work is essential to their economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, wellbeing, and improving their health. Why would we not believe that the same is true for working-age, able-bodied Medicaid enrollees?

Believing that community engagement requirements do not support or promote the objectives of Medicaid is a tragic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations consistently espoused by the prior administration. Those days are over.”

It looks likely that these waivers will be approved this year and that Medicaid will see some serious overhauls. It seems very likely, for example, that low-income Americans will be required to work in order to receive their federal health care benefits.

CHIP “may” get funded

States’ health programs for low-income kids may very well be shut down (or suddenly funded) in 2018. Its future very much hangs in the balance, though repealing CHIP would not exactly be a good PR move for state and federal governments.

CHIP has been a bipartisan health care program historically, something which cannot be said about the somewhat contentious Affordable Care Act. Though Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who chairs the influential Senate Finance Committee, is a big CHIP supporter, its future remains unclear.

Health insurance expansion is tested out by a state

Liberals seem keen to expand public health coverage, especially with continued Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Democratic senators, for example, are continually supporting a Medicare-for-All bill. State legislatures are also being watched though, with some states expressing interest in finding ways to expand public health coverage.

Nevada, for example, nearly enacted the US’s first Medicaid buy-in, which would’ve allowed Nevada state residents to buy coverage through the program which is usually limited only to low-income American citizens. Their plan passed the Nevada legislature, though Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, vetoed it.

Medicaid buy-ins are gaining steam, however, as candidates in states such as Colorado and Connecticut campaign by promoting the notion of Medicaid buy-ins to voters who may want them. State legislators in Washington State are also said to be exploring a Nevada-esque buy-in bill.

States tend to act as experiment grounds for health policies, with many states often “testing out” policies that may or may not be looked at by the federal government in time to come. The Affordable Care Act, for example, was largely based on the Massachusetts 2006 health care expansion. It seems like Nevada-esque bills may become more and more common in the near future, as the federal government looks for state “experiments” to model potential nationwide healthcare policies on.

Interested in learning more about the future of healthcare? Get in touch today and speak to one of our knowledgeable team members!

Tips on how to lower car insurance rates in 2018

Car insurance rates can be crippling, especially if you’re young, have been caught up in accidents, or if you’re not able to afford to latest state-of-the-art car with futuristic safety features. Though car insurance premiums can be a pain to pay, here we offer you 8 tips on lowering your car insurance rates in 2018.

1. Car insurance discounts

There are numerous discounts which you may be entitled to with your auto insurance, here are but a few examples!

LOW MILEAGE – Do you drive less than 7,500 miles per year? You may get a 5-15% discount on your car insurance! Some insurance companies even offer discounts if you do some of your travel via public transport such as buses or subways.

MULTI-CAR DEALS – You may see 10-25% discounts on your comprehensive, collision, and liability premiums if you have more than one vehicle on the same insurance policy.

MODERN CAR DISCOUNTS – Does your car have airbags, anti-lock brakes, and automatic seat belts? Perhaps it has tracking systems and anti-theft alarms? You could see discounts from 5-30% depending on how modern and safe or thief-proof your car is.

2. Complete a traffic course

You can often see a 5-15% discount if you take a traffic course to improve your driving skills. The eligibility for these tests varies from state to state, however. Traffic school courses are usually 4 to 6 hours long, and can be done online, in person, or via a mixture of the two. They often set you back around $25 to $75, though you’ll make that back in discounts quickly. You may remove points from your record for minor traffic violations, though you can’t get this AND a discount. New York, however, is an exception to this rule.

3. Watch your credit report closely

Auto insurance companies take many factors into account when calculating your premiums, and your credit history is one of them. Some states have made this illegal, but in many, it remains a legal and common practice. Pay your bills on time and maintain a decent credit rating; it will help you to seem low-risk and therefore help to keep your car insurance rates down. The difference in auto insurance rates for “good credit” drivers and “poor credit” drivers is a staggering 67%.

4. Be a safe driver

It sounds so obvious, but it’s true. People with no traffic violations or accidents get lower insurance rates (over time) as they are simply presenting themselves as low-risk (i.e. safe) drivers. A single speeding ticket can increase your auto insurances rates 11-13%, so why take the risk with your life and your insurance premiums?

5. Invest in a safer car

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Safety Ratings Page (long name) contains a list of all the safety ratings for various cars, taking multiple factors into account. Prioritize safety ratings when you buy a new car, as you’ll likely decrease your insurance rates and better protect your own life!

6. Discounts for paying in full

You can usually see a 5-10% discount if you pay your car insurance premium in full, rather than spreading the payments out over an extended period. Though many people cannot afford to do this straight away, it could save you hundreds of dollars over the year.

7. Evaluate what you really need from your policy

Do you really need comprehensive and collision coverage? Vehicles that are worth less than $3,000 or less than 10 years old simply don’t require these forms of coverage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, getting rid of comprehensive and collision coverage (assuming you don’t need them) could save you around $660 per year on average.

8. Compare the market

As with any form of insurance, you should be sure to compare the rates, policies, and details of different insurers. Auto insurers have slightly different methods of ascertaining how much you will pay, so one insurer could happen to see you in a much more favorable light than another.

Among the myriad of circumstances used to calculate your auto insurance rates, your insurance could significantly drop (or spike) if you get married, move house, have an accident, buy a new car, or add a young driver to a household policy.

Consider taking the customer service ratings (and customer reviews) of the insurers into account when making your decision, as insurance companies are notorious for wanting to escape paying out whenever they can. Evaluate what is most important to you, what price you’re willing to pay, and what excess you’re willing to pay, assuming it is applicable. It pays to compare competing companies!

Looking for more help with lowering your car insurance rates? Get in touch today and we’ll be able to help you with a personalized plan which aims to lower your auto insurance rates for good.