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New housing disclosure requirements increase transparency but add risk for property owners

August 19, 2015
Linda Robertson Platinum Accounts Executive

Linda Robertson
Platinum Accounts Executive

New rules that went into effect in New York City this spring make it much more difficult for buyers of residential real estate to shield their identities through an LLC or other opaque vehicle.

According to The New York Times, the de Blasio Administration wants to increase transparency and identify real estate owners who may be skirting taxes due to the city by claiming residency elsewhere, in particular a foreign country.

Beyond taxes, regulators say disclosure can help fight crime. Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, said that such disclosure will close loopholes.

“Greater transparency of beneficial ownership information would make it morestatue-of-liberty-picture difficult for criminals to hide their purchases of luxury real estate through the use of shell companies.”

But the burden of disclosure will fall not just on criminals, but on all who purchase property in New York City under an LLC or other private company, the vast majority of whom are successful, high profile, and  merely seeking privacy.

We advise our well-known clients, such as celebrities with significant name recognition and C-level executives at large companies, to purchase property using an LLC. Doing so makes it much more difficult for the curious to find out where you live.

Unlike New York City, Connecticut does not have disclosure requirements on LLC’s that purchase real estate. Nutmeg state transactions remain protected. However, with federal pressure and the country’s largest city with the highest real property values having taken this step, disclosure requirements may be inevitable here and elsewhere.

Nonetheless, even with the new disclosure requirements, the other Risk Management benefits of purchasing in Manhattan using an LLC still hold. For example, an LLC protects your other assets from litigation that involves the property in question.

In  some northern Litchfield County towns, 6 of 10 homeowners are dual residents, very commonly with holdings in Manhattan and here. We created our Platinum Accounts Unit to service the needs of this special group. We understand the unique risks they face and have extensive expertise in managing risk for properties here, in the city, and other popular locales like Colorado, Florida, and Washington D.C.

Have questions about the best ways to manage risk in your real estate portfolio? Drop me a line.

Linda Robertson
Platinum Accounts Executive
lrobertson@foundersgrp.com

Think your company is cyber secure? Take the Cyber Risk Pressure Test

August 11, 2015

Data breaches are a growing threat,  businesses of all sizes in all industries are at risk. Still, many companies, especially small businesses who don’t have an eCommerce platform, think they are immune, or view cyber security as something far down on the list of things to worry about.

But the first rule of cyber risk is that every business has it, whether they realize it or not. Those who do recognize the risk potential often overestimate their defenses. Would you know who to call, how to react, or what to tell your employees, customers, or the media if a data breach occurs? Could your organization handle the potential financial and reputational impact of a very public lawsuit?

Our partners at Travelers have created a powerful, interactive, thought prcyber testovoking tool that helps businesses analyze their cyber risk profile. By asking roughly two dozen insightful questions, the Cyber Risk Pressure Test is able to paint a compelling portrait of your company’s risk profile and where it stands in relation to its peers. The tool offers recommendations and shows how you stack up against similarly sized businesses in your industry and location.

Some of the questions may be very eye-opening, such as, “Do contracts with all third-party service providers and contractors clearly specify their responsibility to safeguard sensitive information, while limiting their access to and use of this sensitive information commensurate with assigned tasks?” You may have a strong cyber security in place for employees, but if it doesn’t apply to third-party vendors with data access, it’s like not having a policy at all.

No business, no matter how prepared, is completely immune to cyber risk. This test demonstrates the pressure points in your operations and suggests pathways for improvement.

At Founders Insurance Agency, we are experts at helping businesses mitigate cyber risk. Like this test, our holistic approach to client health helps expose hidden risk. Take the Cyber Risk Pressure Test today and let us help you keep your digital assets safe, secure, and working for you.

Worried?  Give me a call – let us review your account and see if Cyber Liability coverage is right for you!  860-482-3508

Nancy Swenson

Commercial Lines Account Manager

nswenson@foundersgrp.com

Traveling During Hurricane Season? You might want to consider this!

July 28, 2015

darlene_sullivanTraveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season sounds like a crazy idea. Pouring rain and high winds tossing resort beach chairs around like toothpicks. Never mind, the headache of cancelled or delayed flights.

But some budget-savvy travelers have discovered that traveling during hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 until November 30, is actually affordable and enjoyable.  Hotel deals abound and there are less crowds.

But Mother Nature is an unpredictable force. If you plan to travel during hurricane

Huge hurricane approaching Florida in America. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

season buy travel insurance to protect yourself.

Here are some things you should know about travel insurance:

Travel insurance policies cover two things: trip interruptions and trip cancellations.

Trip cancellations. Say for example, a week before you leave for your Caribbean vacation, a hurricane pummels the coast line, destroys your resort and make the roads on the island impassable. You are forced to cancel your trip. Travel insurance will cover you for the prepaid non-refundable expenses you paid the hotel, tour operators, and drivers to get you to and from the hotel.

Trip interruption. You are enjoying yourself at the resort, when an unexpected natural disaster or a hurricane forces you to evacuate the island. Travel insurance will cover you for the costs associated with getting you home safely.

You can’t buy travel insurance after a hurricane has been named by the National Weather Service. So it’s wise to buy your insurance when you book your vacation.

Keep your receipts. You’ll need them to get reimbursed if your trip gets cancelled or interrupted. So keep track of your hotel room, transportation, and flight receipts.

Travel insurance usually costs between 4 and 8 percent of your trip, depending on the coverage you want.

If you are traveling during hurricane season, shoot me an email at dsullivan@foundersgrp.com.  Don’t skimp on travel insurance because it will save you money in the end.

Buon Voyage!

Darlene Sullivan

Group Benefits Account Manager

 Business 101 – the must haves. Are you at risk?

July 21, 2015

People. Liability. Property. Auto.

mark GrecoMany new business owners know they need an accountant and a lawyer – and the never ending cash flow – but many forget about protecting everything they’ve worked so hard to set up.  Insurance – no one really likes to talk about it, but risk is a fact of business life.

These are the four types of basic insurance coverage you’ll need to protect your business. There’s an extra layer of protection called an umbrella policy, but we’ll get to that later.

People.  The insurance policy that covers your employees is Workers’ Compensation. It pays for medical bills and lost wages if one of your employees is injured on the job. Workers’ Compensation is required in most states and rates are usually set by the government. It also covers you if a family member of one of workers is disabled or killed on the job and decides to sue you.

Liability.  Accidents happen. Lawsuits get filed.  If your business deals with the public then the chances of someone getting hurt at your place of business rises. Liability insurance will pay for the legal fees that you’ll need if someone sues you. It also covers you against lawsuits involving a product you sell or manufacture.

Property:   Business property insurance will replace or repair your business property in case of a fire, theft, water damage, or

Business 101 handwritten with a marker on a whiteboard

a natural disaster. Your equipment, computers, tools and inventory will all be covered. Another type of coverage under property insurance is business interruption. In case of a disaster, business interruption insurance would pay for your business to set up in a temporary location so that you can continue to operate.

Auto.   A business auto insurance policy will cover the autos – including large trucks or fleets your businesses leases, owns or rents. It works like your personal auto insurance, covers the driver and pays for bodily injury or property damage caused by your business cars.

Don’t forget the umbrella –  an added layer of protection that kicks in when the limits on your liability insurance are exhausted due to catastrophe or a lawsuit.

For a more detailed look at look at business insurance options click here to read a blog by my colleague Adam Winters.

Business insurance is complicated. We understand that at Founders Insurance Group. Give me a call at 860-482-3506 or drop me an email at mgreco@foundersgrp.com to find out the right business coverage for your business.

Mark Greco

Commercial Lines Account Executive

Protect your special day with wedding insurance

July 13, 2015

It’s a bride-to-be’s worst nightmare…… but a disaster can ruin a wedding. Anything can go wrong on your big day from TIC WEdding insuranceno-show vendors, to a lost or damaged gown, to extreme weather or a fire leveling your reception hall.

At Founders, we believe your wedding should be all you have ever dreamed of and wanted.

That’s why we offer wedding insurance through the Travelers Insurance Company to protect you from circumstances beyond your control on your special day.

Our policies are affordable, starting at just $160 to cover the loss of photographs, damaged gowns, lost presents and wedding rings, and deposits on venues. It’s a small price to pay considering that the average wedding costs about $29,000, excluding the honeymoon, according to weddingstats.org.

An analysis done by Travelers’ found problems with venues, lost attire, and vendors are common causes of wedding insurance claims.

Here are 3 worst-case scenarios where having wedding insurance would save the day.

Property damage to a venue. Say you’ve planned a destination wedding in Mexico. But a week before your wedding, the predicted Tropical Storm you’ve kept an eye on quickly turns into a Category 4 Hurricane and destroys the beach-front property you chose for the reception.  The deposit you put down on the property would be reimbursed with wedding insurance so that you could book another space.

Problems with vendors. Caterers, photographers, florists are an essential part of a wedding. But what if your photographer loses or damages your wedding photos and refuses to reimburse you or worse yet – goes out of business and never delivers!. A wedding insurance policy would help pay for your out of pocket expenses.

Lost or damaged attire. The bridal shop where you purchased your dream gown burns to the ground the day along with your wedding dress. With wedding insurance, you would be reimbursed for the cost of the gown to purchase a new one.

PS – Wedding insurance won’t cover a runaway Bride…or Groom.  It’s a question I get asked quite a bit!

Put purchasing wedding insurance on your wedding to-do-list.  You can get the policy yourself right on our website just click here!

Linda Robertson, lrobertson@foundersgrp.com

Linda Robertson Platinum Accounts Executive

Linda Robertson
Platinum Accounts Executive

Do I need special insurance if I’m renting out my home on Airbnb?

July 8, 2015

Are you thinking of getting into the new travel trend by joining millions of people around the globe renting out rooms in their homes through the websites HomeAway and Airbnb?

The lure of Airbnb is that travelers from around the world can rent out a room in your home for a week or two at a time so they can “live like a local.”  It’s a perfect set-up for empty-nesters and retirees or families looking for a cultural experience for their kids.

Before you take in a renter, it’s important to review your homeowners policy because it may not protect against liability. In some cases you may need a special insurance policy, depending whether you’re home while renting your home and how often you rent it.

Isolated keys with Rental tag.

Rentals on Airbnb are considered short-term. And that might be a problem. If you’re renting a room or your house on a short-term basis, say two weeks at a time, you’ll probably need a special policy. Why? Because your short-term rental could be considered a commercial enterprise like a hotel or bed and breakfast, and your renters  become “guests”.   You might need to buy business insurance or a special landlord policy. An umbrella policy for an added level of protection might be a smart move because being a landlord increases your risk of a lawsuit.

Another rental scenario that may need a special policy is when you rent out your home for long periods of time when you are not home. Say, you live in a hip part of town and want to rent out your house to a college student during the summer while you’re away. Your homeowners insurance may not be enough if you turn your home into an annual rental property.  A special landlord or dwelling policy would cover you for damages to your home caused by natural disasters or a fire.  It also covers legal fees and medical expenses if your renter gets hurt in your home.

Before you rent out your home for any period contact me at ppatrone-onofrio@foundersgrp.com. I can help make sure that you have the proper coverage.

Patty Patrone-Onofrio

Personal Lines Account Manager – Founders Insurance Group

www.foundersgrp.com – 860-482-3506

Before you Jet Set, are you Covered?

June 30, 2015

Flight is booked, bags are packed, new passport is on the way…you’re all set for your dream vacation, or almost?  Travel insurance is often overlooked by travelers  as an extra expense or because they have the “I won’t get hurt” mentality.

Believe it or not, travel insurance can be a powerful tool for protecting you and your family while abroad.  With so many different types of coverage out there, it’s important to understand how travel insurance works, and how different types of coverage can be used in case of an emergency.

Shop smart with these tips:

Before-you-Jetset,-are-you-covered-

First, check your personal insurance

Check with your Founders agent to see if your health, home, auto, or life insurance policies include any type of coverage for traveling abroad.  You may be surprised to know that some policies offer travel liability coverage.  Bottom line, it is important to fill in any loopholes such as knowing where one policy ends and where buying travel coverage may be beneficial.

Know what can be covered:  

Travel insurance coverage includes the following categories:

  • Trip Cancellation or Interruption: As the name implies, trip cancellation insurance covers you in the event you need to cancel your trip. Purchasing insurance can reimburse you for the pre-paid, non-refundable portions of the trip. Trip interruption insurance covers you after your departure. If a loved one gets sick during vacation and can no longer attend an excursion, interruption insurance has you covered by reimbursing you for pre-paid expenses!
  • Medical: Say a family member falls during the trip and needs medical attention, what are you to do? Medical travel insurance provides coverage for medical expenses incurred during travel including medical emergencies, evacuations (needing emergency transportation) and accidents. Insurance providers often deny out-of-network care, especially abroad; with travel medical insurance you can ensure you will have access to quality treatment should an unfortunate event occur.
  • Baggage: Protect your valuables! Since so many people travel this time of year, it is possible your baggage could be lost or damaged. Baggage insurance can save you lots of money by reimbursing you a portion of the cost.
  • Flight Delay or Cancellation: Say you arrive to your connecting flight and find out it is cancelled, flight coverage reimburses pre-paid expenses and can even provide accommodation meals and new travel arrangements after being delayed a certain amount of time.

Before you book that dream vacation, give us a call  at (800) 351-0873. We’ll help you find the right travel insurance plan that covers all your needs while you are away.

June Russell

Platinum Accounts Manager

jrussell@foundersgrp.com

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