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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

How is My Workers’ Comp MOD Calculated?

June 24, 2015
Adam Winters

Adam Winters

Today – we are going to get technical! This blog post won’t be for everyone, but for those of you that love math, this one’s for you!  Yes, we are talking about how your Workers’ Compensation Modification factor is calculated.  Understanding HOW it is calculated, will help you keep your premiums in check.

It’s a complicated formula but here are some ways to help you figure it out.

To determine your annual Workers’ Compensation premium, a complex formula known as the Workers’ Compensation MOD is used. This is an adjustment of your annual premium, based on your previous loss experience. The loss experience encompasses three years of losses, skipping the policy year that just ended and focusing on the three years prior. Therefore, your 2015 MOD will ignore any losses in 2014 and instead focus on 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The experience modifiers are calculated by ratings bureaus relying on information from the insurance companies and grouped by industry and then adjusted for such factors as company size, unexpected large losses and the difference between loss frequency and severity. The largest rating bureau is the National Council on Corporation Insurance (NCCI), but some states such as New York have their own services.

How is the MOD Calculated?

The formula generally used by the ratings bureaus is as follows:

A + B + (E x W) + {F x (1 – W)} / D + B + FHow-is-My-Workers’-Comp-MOD-Calculated

A = Actual Primary Losses                  E = Actual Excess Losses (T – A)

B = Ballast Value                                 F = Expected Excess Losses (C – D)

C = Expected Losses                            T = Actual Incurred Losses

D = Expected Primary Losses              W = Weighting Value

To sum this up, the calculation is the ratio of actual losses to expected losses with a stabilizing factor built into both the numerator and denominator.

What is the MOD Rate?

The industry standard is always rated as 1.0 and your rate is then calculated from this.

If your rate is a .8, than you are paying 20% less on your premium than the rest of your industry. If your rate is 1.2, then you are paying 20% surcharge.

Your premium is calculated by taking Rate x Exposure (payroll) x MOD = Premium.

Why is the MOD Important?

There are several reasons why a low MOD is important. The first being that you will be paying a lower premium, therefore saving money.

You also may find yourself being asked what your MOD rate is when you are bidding on a job. A company may reject a business that has a rate over a 1.05 for safety fears.

What Can I Do To Lower My MOD?

You can make sure the annual information submitted to your carrier is accurate and complete. Errors and omissions can cause your rate to rise.

Instill a safe work environment by training and frequent checks of worksites, create loss prevention procedures and a Return to Work program.

Work with your insurance broker to answer any questions you may have or to help you create processes to keep losses at a minimum.

Still have questions on how your Workers’ Compensation MOD is calculated?  Give Founders Insurance Group a call at 860-482-3506

 

Adam Winters

Commercial Lines Account Manager

AWinters@foundersgrp.com

Real estate investments require rigorous risk management

June 16, 2015

“Buying real estate is not only the best way, the quickest way, the safest way, but the only way to become wealthy.”

Real Estate InvestmentsFor the most part, that adage attributed decades ago to Marshall Field, the American investor and founder of the Chicago-based Marshall Field department store, still holds true.

Purchase the right properties and you can find yourself enjoying a steady stream of income from an appreciating asset that also has significant tax advantages.

But owning investment real estate property is not like owning a stock or mutual fund. It’s an active investment, one comes with potential pitfalls. In the case of residential property ownership, the best rewards come from minimizing risk.

At Founders we know the top risks residential property owners and managers face. We’ve listed them below.

Failure to properly screen applicant finances — A property can only generate income if tenants are able to pay the rent — in full and on time. Skimping on credit and reference checks is a classic penny wise, pound foolish approach.

Failure to maintain safe conditions and perform repairs at your property — Broken boards on the back deck, windows with a chunk of loose glass, a shaky handrail…These are all accidents waiting to happen and a top source for litigation and insurance claims. Invest in fixing the little things before they add up to big headaches.

Failure to maintain accurate rental records — Your tenant says he paid you three months ago, and you say he didn’t. Do you keep diligent records that you can rely on to prove your case?

Violating housing discrimination laws —In general, Connecticut is a very tenant-friendly state. The Connecticut Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of a number of categories including race, national origin, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, children or family status, disabilities, and legal source of income (you can’t refuse to accept Section 8). The law is complex and there are exceptions for certain owner-occupied dwellings.

Wrongful eviction — You must follow specific state and local procedures in order to carry out an eviction. Be careful. Taking the law into your own hands is not wise. Connecticut forbids landlords taking measures like changing the locks or turning off utilities. Such actions can get you sued or even arrested.

Zoning and building department violations — The house may have been configured as a two-family when you bought it, but is it legally a two-family under your town’s zoning code? Did that addition onto the garage get built with the right permits in place?

Failure to disclose the potential for lead paint — If your house was built before 1978, it is presumed to have or have had lead paint inside. Connecticut has specific notice protocol you must follow whenever renting an older unit. It’s not difficult to comply, and definitely and definitely not something you want to overlook.

The Founders Insurance Group can help you manage the risks associated with your real estate investments. Give us a call at 860-482-3506.

Linda Robertson

Platinum Accounts Executive

lrobertson@foundersgrp.com

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