Friday, 21 March 2014

Insurance Rates at Dyman and Associates: Those with retirement plans increasingly confident

The ratio of workers who are confident they'll be able to retire comfortably rebounded this year to the highest level in seven years, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute survey.

The 24th annual retirement confidence survey found that 55% of workers described themselves as either being "very confident" or "somewhat confident" of their ability to live comfortably during their retirement years. That compares with a combined 51% in 2013. Eighteen percent described themselves as "very confident," compared with a record low of 13% last year. Insurance Tips at Dyman and Associates

Retirement experts attributed the shift largely to greater confidence among workers with retirement investments, who benefited from a resurgent stock market in 2012 and 2013. The attitudes of those without a tie to the stock market were largely unchanged while those with significant levels of debt continued to struggle.

"Without a doubt, we enjoyed two years of very positive market performance in 2012 and 2013, and those who had savings and 401(k) balances enjoyed the benefit of those market returns," said Greg Burrows, a senior vice president for retirement and investor services at Dyman Associates Insurance Group.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute survey is the oldest of its kind and was based on January phone interviews with 1,000 workers and 501 retirees. It has a margin of error of at least ±3.5 percentage points.

STORY: A third have less than $1,000 put away
COLUMN: 5 tax tips for those moving into retirement years

Consumer confidence still has not recovered to pre-recession levels. In 2007, 70% of those surveyed were confident of their ability to retire.

The percentage of respondents who described themselves as "not at all" confident receded to 24% this year from a record 28% in 2013. That gauge of anxious workers has worsened fairly steadily since the first year of the survey in 1993, when only 6% of respondents described themselves as "not at all" confident.

"Worker savings remain low, and only a minority appears to be taking basic steps to prepare for retirement," survey co-authors Nevin Adams and Jack VanDerhei wrote on behalf of the institute. "Increased confidence is observed almost exclusively among those with higher household income, but confidence was also found to be strongly correlated with household participation in a retirement plan."

Forty-six percent of the workers surveyed who did not have a retirement plan described themselves as "not at all" confident, compared with only 11% of those with a plan. About 24% of those with a pension, 401(k) or IRA plan described themselves as "very confident," compared with 9% of those without a plan.

The weak labor market has affected wages and benefits since the Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. The employment-to-population ratio, a measure of the percentage of Americans with jobs, was 58.8% in February. That compares with 63.3% for February 2007. The 4.5-percentage-point difference is equal to more than 14 million people.

Stagnant wages and lost jobs have left many Americans in basic survival mode. Some also are laboring to pay off sizable levels of student loan debt, which totaled more than $1.08 trillion at the end of 2013, according to the Federal Reserve. About 11.5% of student loan debt was at least 90 days overdue.

"More than half the workers in the survey indicated that managing daily expenses and the cost of living are the primary reasons they are not saving for retirement," Burrows said, noting that those who fail to save for retirement in good times are left with even fewer choices in hard times.

Workers who begin saving $3,000 a year at age 25 wind up with five times more retirement savings than those who begin at 45, according to Principal Financial Group. The Des Moines-based insurance and investment management firm had more than $483 billion of assets under management as of Dec. 31

"Fifty-eight percent of workers and 44% of retirees say they are having a problem with their level of debt," said Matt Greenwald of Greenwald & Associates, which conducted the study with the institute.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Insurance Tips at Dyman and Associates: 6 Tips for Effective Personalization

Public and previously shared data offer potential benefits to consumers and opportunities for service providers to offer value-added services; however consumers' responses range from neutral to negative, Celent says.

Research firm Celent recently surveyed consumers about their willingness to share personal data, and to test eight potential messages financial services firms might offer to them, leveraging the consumers’ data. Insurance Rates at Dyman and Associates

The results show that most people don’t like receiving the messages Celent prepared for them, with only one receiving an average score of neutral, with the others seeing less favorable responses.

The message Celent sent were designed to leverage data that is already is being shared, either publicly or through data aggregators, with financial services companies. The firm sent eight messages as part of the survey, and asked respondents to rate them in terms of whether they liked or disliked the messages.

Some samples of messages the company sent:

Ø  “We noted you have checked in at a location outside the country, so we have pre-authorized your credit card for use there."

Ø  "The item you just purchased is available for 10 percent less a short distance from your current location, click here for more details."

Ø  "We noticed you have visited four gambling websites recently. Your profile suggests that you may be susceptible to gambling addiction. Click here to talk to someone about coping strategies. In the meantime, we've now stopped these websites from charging your cards."

Celent offers a few key observations that might be useful for companies looking to communicate with customers in this way:

Ø  Most people do not like receiving these messages, so they should be offered as an opt-in service, if at all.

Ø  Target social media users rather than smartphone owners.

Ø  Younger consumers are more likely to respond positively.

Ø  Look to people already collecting or sharing data for financial products.

Ø  If you are using location data, look to people sharing that data already.

Ø  Avoid criticizing the recipients’ behavior.

“It’s fair to say that the average response to receiving the messages prepared by Celent was neutral or negative,” Celent said. “No message received a positive average response.” Still, some respondents like the idea of receiving these messages, so there is potential for success in reaching out this way, Celent said.

“Any financial institution looking to leverage data in this way to share context-aware messaging with customers must consider when to intervene and the phrasing of the message,” Celent says. “There will be a vanguard of consumers who want these messages and like them.”

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Insurance Rates at Dyman and Associates: U.S. Insurance Source Offers Tips For Local Companies In Honor Of Business Continuity Awareness Week

Texas- based insurance agency, U.S. Insurance Source, serves the needs of individuals and companies in several states. In honor of Business Continuity Awareness Week, March 17th-21st, the agency will release business continuity planning tips in order to help companies of all sizes.

Texas-based insurance agency, U.S. Insurance Source, serves the needs of individuals and companies in several states. In honor of Business Continuity Awareness Week, March 17th-21st, the agency will release business continuity planning tips in order to help companies of all sizes. Insurance Tips at Dyman and Associates

The basic purpose of a Business Continuity Plan is to outline how employees will continue to do their jobs after a disaster or emergency occurs. This could include a natural disaster, or an emergency in the office such as a fire. These are also known as Disaster Recovery Plans. Implementing risk management and business continuity programs is crucial for the success of businesses of all kinds, and U.S. Insurance Source hopes to assist companies with the following information on how to create one of these plans:

• Make note of key internal information. This includes a list of crucial team members, job functions, and data backup information.
 • Create a list of each employee's contact information, including home and personal contact information so that they can be reached when outside of the office.
  • If your business utilizes third party vendors or contractors, compile a list of the contact information of these individuals. Also, be sure to include any significant information regarding their relationships with your company.
 • Make note of all critical equipment that your business absolutely cannot function without. This will be different for each business, depending on its nature. Consider things such as computer software, programs, documents on computer servers, and physical office equipment such as fax or copy machines.
  • List and backup all critical documents such as human resources information, legal files, financial information, etc.

While these steps are certainly not an all-inclusive list that businesses should consider, especially for larger companies, this information can provide a beneficial starting point for businesses across Texas. U.S. Insurance Source encourages local companies to contact its office at 800-401-8242 for more information about protecting their businesses.

About U.S. Insurance Source:

U.S. Insurance Source has been providing insurance solutions to Texas individuals, families, and businesses for more than 20 years. The agency focuses on using innovative processes in order to better serve its clients and make sure that each one's individual insurance needs are properly met. From standard personal and business insurance to coverage for businesses in more specific industries, such as trucking insurance, U.S. Insurance Source strives to fulfill all of their clients' insurance needs, no matter where in the country they are located.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Insurance Tips at Dyman and Associates: Tips to Find the Best Homeowners Insurance Coverage

For most middle-class families, the home is the most valuable asset -- often outstripping even the 401(k) and 403(b) for all but the most diligent savers.

Yes, for generations the home has been an important store of value for Americans. It's often a treasured asset -- a legacy that older Americans can pass down to their children and grandchildren. In other cases, it's a vital source of retirement income -- converted to cash either via an outright sale or rental, or thought the conversion of home equity to a reverse mortgage.

The problem: Your home is at risk. Every day, Americans lose their homes to a variety of hazards -- and not just to the obvious.

Fortunately, loss or severe damage to a personal residence lends itself well to insurance. But too many Americans don't adequately protect themselves against possible devastating losses -- losses they simply can't afford.

These mistakes are almost always avoidable -- if the homeowner is well advised. Here are some of the most common mistakes homeowners make when insuring their homes.

Not getting flood insurance

It cannot be stated plainly or forcefully enough: Standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Yet every time there's a major flood or hurricane in an area that is only rarely affected by flood, we see a huge number of families who have no financial protection against flood damage whatsoever.

The risk, for the individual homeowner, is huge. The average claim actually paid out for Hurricane Sandy, the storm that ravaged Florida and the Northeastern Seaboard in 2012, was $58,358. The average paid claim after Hurricane Katrina was $97,052 -- per policy affected.

But only 13% of Americans have a flood insurance policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Is your home or contents more valuable? You probably should look at buying additional coverage. For more information, visit

Poor or non-existent household inventories

If you have items of value in the home, you should document those items -- before the disaster strikes. Otherwise, an insurer could challenge your claim. Fortunately, the insurance industry has provided a number of tools to make the inventory process easier. Among them: This interactive website makes it easy for you to upload digital photographs of your valuables, along with other identifying information, such as serial numbers and model numbers. You can even download a handy app for your iPhone or Android to make it even easier. If you have many valuable items, such as an art, antique, or musical instrument collection, you may need to speak with your agent about securing additional coverage for your belongings.

If you use your home for business purposes, you may also need to arrange for additional coverage.

Inventory information is confidential, and stored off site, so you don't have to worry that the same disaster that destroyed your home will also destroy your inventory documents.

Underestimating replacement cost

Remember -- market value and replacement costs can be very different. For example, with many older homes, local ordinances require you to rebuild according to new building codes, not the codes in force at the time the home was first constructed. For example, you may have to totally replace plumbing or wiring, use different materials, or put your whole house up on stilts when you rebuild, depending on local ordinances in your area. Look at your policy to see what code upgrades it will include. You may need to speak with your agent about adding ordinance or law coverage, and/or extended replacement coverage, which expands your policy limit by 25% to account for increased replacement costs.

Not insuring against local risks

Some areas have risks specific to the locality that are not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies. For example, sinkholes are a major problem in parts of Florida. Earthquakes are a part of life in California. Some areas are at elevated risk of wildfires, and insurers may require you to take specific steps to mitigate your risk of loss by fire. The mistake many people make is assuming their off-the-shelf homeowners policy covers sinkholes, earthquakes, and the like. Typically, they do not. Usually you must purchase separate specialty coverage to insure against these kinds of location-specific risks.

Not understanding depreciation

Many policies don't insure your property for actual repair or replacement cost. Instead, they deduct a depreciation allowance from your property each year. They cover only the cost of a repair minus the depreciation allowance.

Here's how it works: Say it's going to take $30,000 to replace a newly installed roof. A roof has an expected life of, say, 15 years. Each year, the insurance company deducts 1/15th of the cost of the new roof from your coverage. After five years, the actual cash value of your roof is only $10,000, not $15,000.

The financial theory is sound: If your roof blows off in year 14, you were about to replace the roof anyway, so your theoretical loss is not all that high. You'll be OK if you've been saving up for the expected new roof all along. However, many people, shopping for insurance on price alone, get blindsided by the smaller amount the insurance company pays, once depreciation is deducted.

Failure to take advantage of multi-line discounts

Customer acquisition is a huge cost for insurance companies. They have to compensate their agents for hours and hours of phoning and prospecting and paperwork for every new customer. So if they have a chance to upsell new lines of insurance to existing customers, it's worth it to them to provide a discount -- to you. If you are paying for car insurance to one company, basic homeowners insurance to another company, and fire insurance to a third, talk with your agent about consolidating all these coverages under one roof, in exchange for a discount on your premium.

Are you unsure of who to turn to for homeowners insurance? Not sure what company wants you? No need to worry and choose Dyman and Associates Insurance Homeowners. We concentrate in policies that are base from what you desire.

The above article is a repost from DailyFinance.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Bill Would Free Insurance Firms from Bank Capital Rules of Insurance Products at Dyman and Associates

The U.S. lawmaker who wrote a Dodd-Frank Act provision that imposes bank-like capital standards on the insurance industry introduced legislation to ease the requirements.

Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said at a Senate Banking subcommittee hearing today that her 2010 provision was not intended to subject insurance companies to the same capital and liquidity standards as banks.

“While it is essential that insurers subject to Federal Reserve Board oversight be adequately capitalized,” Collins said at the hearing, “it would be improper, and not in keeping with Congress’ intent, for federal regulators to supplant state-based insurance regulation with a bank-centric capital regime for insurance activities.”

The provision of the Dodd-Frank overhaul of U.S. financial regulation requires the Fed to set minimum capital and leverage standards on non-bank firms, including insurance companies like Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU: US)

Collins said insurers engaged in activities regulated as insurance at the state level would be exempted from the Dodd-Frank capital requirements under her bill.

Insurance companies say bank capital standards don’t fit their business and submitted testimony to the subcommittee to press their case for an amendment.

“It’s a difference in the fundamental business model,” Julie Spiezio, senior vice president of insurance regulation and deputy general counsel for the American Council of Life Insurers, said. “It’s like trying to put the safety standards of airplanes on cars.”

Fed Agreement

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her predecessor, Ben S. Bernanke, have said they agree that insurance companies should meet different capital standards than banks.

“We recognize that there are very significant differences between the business models of insurance companies and the banks that we supervise, and we are taking the time that’s necessary to understand those differences and to attempt to craft a set of capital and liquidity requirements that will be appropriate to the business model of insurance companies,” Yellen said at a Feb. 27 hearing.

However, Fed officials say the language of Collins’ original provision limits their ability to develop a different capital regime for insurance companies.

‘Some Constraints’

“The Collins Amendment does restrict what is possible for the Federal Reserve in designing an appropriate set of rules,” Yellen said.

Collins said she believes the 2010 provision gives the Fed adequate authority to tailor the requirements to the insurance industry.

“I do not believe legislation is necessary,” Collins said in an interview following her testimony to the panel. “I believe the Fed could have solved this if it wanted to.”

She predicted that her bill and a similar measure by Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, who led today’s hearing, and Nebraska Republican Mike Johanns, would be consolidated into one measure.

“I believe in the end that we are going to come together on a single bill and that’s my goal,” she said. “We’ve resolved a lot of issues over the past few months but we still have a couple of issues to come to consensus on.”

The Brown-Johanns bill, which has 23 co-sponsors, has yet to gain approval by the committee.

‘Bipartisan Agreement’

“There is broad, bipartisan agreement that providing traditional insurance is different from banking,” Brown said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Capital rules must accurately measure and address the risks of the businesses to which they are being applied.”

Former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair has cautioned against congressional action and said lawmakers should instead wait on the Federal Reserve to act. In a letter to Brown yesterday, Bair said the bill would give insurance companies “a significant competitive advantage over banking organizations engaged in the same activities, and leave the door open to the kinds of highly leveraged risk-taking which contributed to the 2008 crisis.”

President Barack Obama’s administration has previously opposed any legislation to amend Dodd-Frank.

Right Time

“I do recognize the concern about opening up Dodd-Frank when there has not been sufficient time to evaluate its impact,” Rodgin H. Cohen, senior chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, which represents Metlife Inc. (MET: US) and other insurance companies, said in testimony prepared for the subcommittee. “But, if there were ever to be any change, this is the time and place to do so.”

The Financial Stability Oversight Council last year designated Prudential and American International Group Inc. (AIG: US) as systemically important financial institutions, or SIFIs, which would subject them to the Fed’s capital rules. MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, has said it’s in the final stage of consideration for the risk tag.

Designation as a SIFI subjects companies to added scrutiny of capital levels, liquidity and leverage from the Fed even as U.S. insurers are primarily overseen by state regulators. MetLife said in its annual filing that being deemed systemically important could limit the company’s ability to pay dividends or repurchase shares.

The need for a taxpayer rescue of AIG in 2008 helped convince regulators that more supervision is needed for nonbank firms. AIG almost failed amid losses in its Financial Products unit, which wasn’t overseen by state regulators.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Insurance claims at Dyman and Associates: 5 Tips for Understanding Your Health Insurance

With health-care costs continuing to rise with no end in sight, knowing just what your plan covers can pay off.

Understanding the ins and outs of your plan before visiting the doctor can avoid getting stuck paying for treatments, tests and practices out of pocket. “When people start shopping for insurance, they tend to focus on how much they will pay every month,” says Lisa Zamosky, health-care reform expert at WebMD. “What they miss are things like: does my plan limit the number of doctor visits and what is actually being covered?”

Navigating your way through your health coverage can be arduous, but experts offered the following key areas to keep in mind when choosing and reviewing a policy:

1. Wellness Visits Aren’t Always Free

Wellness and prevention are major cornerstones of the Affordable Care Act as a way to reduce long-term care costs. The president’s signature legislation requires all insurance plans to offer consumers access to wellness visits and health screenings free of charge.

But there’s a limit. Whether it’s a colonoscopy, mammogram or wellness visit for a child, there are always rules associated with it, says Zamosky. For example, some plans have age limits for services like a colonoscopy or mammogram to be free.

Some plans also limit the number of wellness visits a year, and confusion of what constitutes a wellness abounds. According to insurance experts, if a person goes to a wellness appointment with a list of complaints about ailments the appointment could be no longer be preventive, but diagnostic, and the patient will be charged accordingly.

2. Beware of Specific Limits, Costs and Deductibles

High-deductible plans, which mean you have to cover any minor or routine health care costs until your deductible is met, are becoming more common.

But it’s not just up-front and out-of-pocket costs you have to pay on these plans. Insured people can be charged for co-insurance and co-pays, all of which may differ depending on the type of doctor you are seeing. For instance, some plans charge higher co-pays when you see a specialist compared to your regular doctor.

Other plans may require a referral before you can see a specialist. “You have to be aware of the specific limits,” says Carrie Mclean, director of customer care at eHealthInsurance. “It’s important to know everything from the co-pay to the co-insurance. Plans can work differently."

You should also know when you need preauthorization for a service in order to have your plan kick in.

“If you have to have surgery, most insurance companies require you to submit paperwork to demonstrate this medically necessary,” says Zamosky. “You have to find out what those rules are.”

It’s also a good idea to bring a list of prescription medicines your insurance covers when you go to the doctors to make sure you aren’t prescribed something you can’t afford.

3. Know Your Doctors

For many people, particularly ones with chronic diseases, they see the same doctors and specialists all the time and are loyal to their care givers. But that loyalty can end up costing a lot of money if one of the doctors falls out of their network.

While it seems like a no brainer, it’s common for people to purchase insurance without first checking to see if their current doctor accepts that plan. It’s not enough to ask a doctor if he or she takes a particular type of insurance, ask about a specific plan. “People really get caught off guard” with this, says Mclean. “Know who your network provider is because if you go out of network, you can get sticker shock.”

4. Read the Summary of Benefits if Nothing Else

Insurance companies make it easy to understand your benefits through a summary of benefits, which includes details of the plan including what is covered before and after the deductible, says Zamosky

It also explains what is covered when you go to the emergency room and other specialists. “It’s an important document to take a look at and refer back to before you go for a service so you know what the rules of engagement are and what you can expect to pay,” says Zamosky.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Insurance Products at Dyman and Associates: HSBC to Pay as Much as $32 Million over Insurance Claims

HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) agreed to settle lawsuits by mortgage holders who alleged they were forced to pay for property insurance at inflated rates.

HSBC will pay as much as $32 million to resolve the claims, according to the proposed settlement agreement filed Feb. 28 in federal court in Miami. The Wells Fargo settlement agreement, filed yesterday in Miami, didn’t specify the total amount the lender may pay.

The deals follow an earlier $300 million agreement with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and a $110 million settlement with Citigroup Inc. (C) on the same issue. Bank of America Corp. has also reached an agreement in principle to settle a class-action by lenders over the insurance, according to a Feb. 18 filing in Miami federal court.

Adam Moskowitz, a plaintiff’s lawyer, said he didn’t have a total dollar figure for the Wells Fargo settlement.

“We’re certainly excited to present the settlements to the court so we can communicate them to the class members,” he said. “We think this is a very good settlement for homeowners nationwide.”

So-called force-placed insurance is taken out on homes by banks or mortgage servicers when, for example, a homeowner’s policy lapses or the bank decides the borrower doesn’t have enough coverage. The homeowners alleged in class-action lawsuits that the banks got a financial windfall by cutting deals with insurance companies and over-charging borrowers for the coverage.

The cases are Hall v. Bank of America Corp. (BAC), 12-22700, Lopez v. HSBC Bank USA NA, 13-21104, and Fladell v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A., 13-60721, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Best mobile insurance claims - A gamekeeper shot my phone of Insurance claims at Dyman and Associates

Pinterest: Being blasted with a shotgun to being mistaken for a biscuit and dunked in a cup of tea are among the reasons given for the demise or loss of a mobile phone to gadget insurers

Gadget insurer Protect Your Bubble has rounded up the strangest reasons customers have given for the demise or loss of their phones, including being blasted by a shotgun and lost in a freezer cabinet.
"I was out shooting one day when my mobile phone rang," said one claimant. "The gamekeeper confiscated it, threw it into the air and gave it both barrels of a 12 bore shotgun!"

Dogs are a common element in the demise of mobile phones. One particularly hungry pet decided it was a good idea to eat nearly one claimant’s entire phone, whilst another diligently placed their owner's handset in the garden's birdbath. Eight-month-old puppy Scooby dropped his owner's mobile in his water bowl.

Another major factor in causing phones to break mysteriously appears to be young children. "My grandson thought it was not right for my phone to be left out on a cold day on the kitchen table instead of being put away in its cover, so he put it in the microwave to warm it up. He set the microwave on full power for an hour but it blew up long before that, along with my Samsung Galaxy," was one customer's tale of woe.

The younger brother of another claimant destroyed their phone with a hammer, while one germ-conscious nephew put his aunt or uncle's tablet in the washing up bowl "because it was dirty". Another customer's four-year-old son "purposely dropped my phone into a fish tank because he wanted me to buy a new BlackBerry".

But it's not only children who make the mistake of mixing gadgets and water. "I was doing an aqua aerobics class, but left my phone in my pocket and didn’t discover it had been underwater for about half-an-hour. I decided that I would try and dry it in a sauna. Once dry I turned it on and it gave a couple of feeble flashes before dying completely," was one excuse.

Another customer jumped into a swimming pool to avoid a wasp, phone in hand, while one lady took her phone for a dip in the Egyptian sea, forgetting she'd tucked it into her cleavage for safekeeping. "I dunked my phone in my tea because I got distracted and thought it was a biscuit," admitted one. Another unlucky claimant's phone decided to plunge into a five-litre bucket of paint during a home decorating session.

Welsh wonder Gareth Bale is to blame for one gentleman accidentally smashing his brand new phone. "I’d had my new phone for just six days, and went to Tottenham play at White Hart Lane. Gareth Bale scored and I jumped up to celebrate whilst grabbing my phone to text my wife, dropped it and smashed the screen," he said.

"I went shopping for a frozen turkey and as I leaned in to try and lug a very large bird from the supermarket freezer my phone fell out of my pocket and into the bottom of the freezer. I could not reach it and had to go and seek help from a sales assistant who was taller than me. When we returned to the freezer, my phone had gone!" was possibly the most surreal excuse offered.

Accidental damage was the most common claim dealt with by Protect Your Bubble during 2013, ranging from cracked screens to faulty charger connections. Unsurprisingly, almost one in ten claims last year was for liquid damage.

The company said around one in six British phone users are making do with damaged handsets, including cracked screens, dents and scratches.

Stephen Ebbett, global director of gadget insurer Protect Your Bubble, said: “It’s no coincidence that many of the stories which have emerged concerning the untimely death of our gadgets involve minors and dogs. It appears that technology, young children and animals don’t mix. There are also plenty of phones that have drowned - be it in the sea, a pot of paint, a cup of tea or a dog’s water bowl.

“Accidental damage, including liquid damage, is the reason most cited by our customers when they have to claim. You’d be amazed how many mobiles fall out of people’s pockets and into toilets. Given how easily mobiles and tablets are broken, and how reliant on them we are, getting good insurance that will repair or replace damaged gadgets is well worth considering. No one wants to fork out for a £500 replacement smartphone if it’s broken beyond repair.”

Insurance Products at Dyman and Associates: Insurance claims from flooding expected to run into hundreds of millions

Farmers in the United Kingdom are counting the cost of damage from the recent floods to their crops, machinery, buildings and infrastructure, Farming UK reported.

Insurance claims are expected to amount to hundreds of millions of pounds.

David McGeachy, value added tax specialist at Saffery Champness, said "that even though insurance claim settlements are not subject to VAT, the farm or estate is likely to incur VAT on repair works to put right damage or to replace damaged stock."

As the flooding covering huge areas of farmland in the south of England and elsewhere caused by the record rainfall over the winter months recedes, farmers are counting the cost in terms of damage to crops, stock machinery and buildings, infrastructure such as damaged flood defences, riverbanks, fences, gates and so on.

Insurance claims from the flooding are expected to run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

David McGeachy, VAT specialist at Saffery Champness, said: "It is important to remember that even though insurance claim settlements are not subject to VAT, the farm or estate is likely to incur VAT on repair works to put right damage or to replace damaged stock for example and this VAT paid is recoverable from HMRC subject to the normal VAT rules.

"Similarly, VAT on any legal services that may be required where policies provide cover for such costs may also be subject to the same rules."

Where farm or estate businesses are VAT registered they should bring this to the attention of their insurer where they intend to make a claim.

They will need to ascertain whether they may be able to recover all of the VAT incurred in connection either with repairs or reimbursement for damage, stock or other property from HMRC.

Insurance policies may allow non-VAT registered farmers to make claims for VAT that are not recoverable from HMRC, or in situations where a VAT registered farming business is partially VAT exempt.

In these circumstances all of the options should be explored as appropriate to ensure the farming business is not left out of pocket on VAT.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Dyman & Associates Insurance Group of Companies: Business Insurance Guide

As a business owner it is sometimes difficult to know what insurance you need and how much of it to buy, so we've put together a guide to help you.

To start searching for business insurance cover, hit the 'get quotes now' button.

The type of insurance policy you buy may differ depending on the size and type of business you are running, your insurance budget and whether any of your customers have requirements about what insurance cover you should have.

To help you understand what’s on offer we’ve summarized a few key areas of cover:

Public liability insurance

Public liability Insurance protects you against claims for compensation from people outside your business who have suffered an injury or whose property has been damaged because of your business. This could be something as simple as a visitor to your business tripping on a loose rug at your office, resulting in damaged knee ligaments and a claim for compensation.

It can also cover more serious claims resulting from construction accidents which cause serious damage to a building or injuries to a member of the public. Public liability cover will pay for the compensation and legal costs arising from accidents like this.

If you come into contact with members of the public – including your customers – either at their premises or yours you should think about getting a public liability insurance quote.

Employers' liability insurance

If you have employees, even part-time or on a short-term basis, you must buy employers' liability insurance – if you don’t you are breaking the law. The cover protects you if an employee is injured or becomes ill because of their work. They may seek compensation from you and, depending on the type of injury or illness, payments can be very large. Employers' liability cover will pay for this compensation as well as the legal costs of defending the claim.

If you are an employer make sure that you stay within the law and buy employers' liability cover.

Property insurance

Most businesses would find it difficult to work without the tools of their trade or with no access to their place of work – whether you’re a consultancy business and rely on your IT equipment or a plumber who couldn’t work without their tools.

Could you afford to replace all of your business equipment or stock in the event of it being destroyed, lost or stolen? If the answer is no you should consider property insurance to protect your business building and assets.

When buying this cover, it is important to ensure that the sum insured on your contents list is equal to or greater than the value of your equipment; not just the items you think are important (so don’t forget about the boring stuff like office chairs and filing cabinets). If you under-insure it’s unlikely that you would get the full value of any items you claim for.

This also applies to your own or hired-in plant if you work in the construction industry – could you afford to replace it if you didn’t have business insurance? If you do buy cover make sure you insure the plant to its full value.

If you own the building you work from you should make sure that it is properly protected. It’s probably one of your major assets so you’ll need to be confident you won’t suffer financially in the event of a flood, fire or other event which damages your property.

Another cover to consider is business interruption insurance. This will make up for the money you lose if you can’t work because your property has been destroyed, stolen or damaged.

Professional indemnity

Professionals are effectively selling their knowledge and expertise to their customers – you may be doing this in a number of different ways including providing advisory and consultancy services and producing designs.

If your client loses money because of a mistake you’ve made or because your work is late or not up to scratch, you may be faced with a claim for compensation. You might feel you have done nothing wrong but still be faced with significant legal costs to defend the claim.

Professional indemnity insurance can protect your business by paying for this compensation and legal costs.

What else do I need to know about business insurance?

You may feel confident that you know what insurance to buy but not how much. Your first thought should be whether any of your contracts stipulate how much business insurance cover you should buy – they will often require you to have a minimum level of public liability or professional indemnity insurance. If they do then this should be your starting point – although you may decide that you need more cover than the contract asks for.

For public liability and professional indemnity you will need to choose a limit of cover which is right for your business. Think about the type of work you do and what could go wrong in a worst case scenario – how much might it cost, especially if a dispute went to court. Buy a level of cover which you are confident will cover the cost of compensation you might have to pay.

Employer’s liability insurance is required by law if you have employees and you must purchase a minimum of £5 million in cover – although many policies will automatically cover you for £10 million.

When buying property insurance the most important thing is to make sure you are not under-insured.  Be sure to calculate the total value of all the entirety of your property – you can’t pick and choose what you want to be covered.

To compare business insurance cover, please click on the "get quotes now" button.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

10 Tips for Buying Insurance in 2014 of Dyman & Associates Insurance Group of Companies

2014 marks the biggest change in health insurance since Medicare. For the first time ever, health insurance is mandatory for most Americans under age 65. The biggest change is that those people with pre-existing medical conditions will now be able to buy quality health insurance without fear of being declined, or facing a surcharge or a waiting period for pre-existing conditions that won't be covered.

The second biggest change is that those who earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level -- $45,000 for individuals or $95,000 for families of four -- will now be able to qualify for premium discounts on health insurance costs. The requirement to qualify for the discount is that insurance must be purchased on one of the new health insurance exchanges, aka marketplaces.

Compare health insurance rates to find the best deal.

1. Work with a knowledgeable health insurance agent.

Eliminate about 80% of the difficulties of buying insurance online. A good agent can help you navigate the exchange site, help you determine whether you qualify for a discount and, if you do qualify, help you choose from among the various plan options and even help you enroll. They will be able to answer your questions as they come up. Best of all, having an agent help you doesn't cost a dime extra.

2. Don't buy insurance on an exchange if you don't qualify for a discount.

Insurance companies that participate in the exchange in most cases offer many more options for qualified health insurance beyond what they make available on the exchange. You can go to individual insurance company websites to see what each company has available. Or, you can have your agent do that for you (see Tip 1).

3. Work with an insurance agent to plan health coverage for your family if dependents aren't covered adequately by your employer plan.

If you have dependents covered under your group health insurance plan at work, unless the employer is paying for some of the cost, work with an insurance agent who will help you determine if you can get better coverage for less money on your spouse and/or children. Chances are if you have employer paid group insurance on yourself, you won't be eligible for an individual plan. But that doesn't preclude your spouse and children from having one, especially if the employer doesn't contribute anything toward dependent coverage costs.

4. Before choosing a health plan, be sure the doctors are "in network" and you can see specialists without a referral.

Less costly plans often don't let you see specialists without a referral from your primary care doctor.

When you are considering plans, don't just choose the cheapest. Pay attention to who is and is not in network. About 90% of the time, it probably won't make a difference. But, that 10% can be a life-and-death situation.

In Minnesota where I'm from, the gold standard of choice is the Mayo Clinic. I won't pick a plan myself or recommend a plan that doesn't include the right to go there without begging for a referral.

5. Hire an expert insurance agent or consultant to audit your insurance program.

Look for someone to make sure that all the major risks in your life are well-protected for risks such as major lawsuits, major damage to or destruction of your residence, premature death, long-term disability and, of course, major medical expenses.

An expert can help you identify where the gaps are and recommend custom endorsements to plug those gaps. I have done several hundred audits over the years and typically find at least 15 to 20 coverage shortfalls or inconsistencies.

6. Protect your income with long-term disability insurance.

Some employers provide it. However, benefits that you receive while disabled usually are taxable income. So, if the benefit is 60% of your salary, you will be lucky to yield 45% after taxes.

Unless you can live on that 45%, contact your employer. Request that the company include the premiums it pays you for long-term disability insurance in your taxable income. By doing this, you will have paid income taxes on the relatively small premiums so that if you become disabled, you can collect those benefits tax-free.

If your employer can't or won't do that for you, buy a supplemental individual policy that will cover at least the income taxes that you will have to pay on your group benefits.

If you don't have coverage at work, talk to a knowledgeable agent to help you qualify for and buy a privately owned long-term disability insurance policy. Because you're buying this policy with after-tax dollars, benefits will always be tax-free to you!

7. Buy an umbrella liability policy to cover insurance gaps in your primary policies.

All umbrella car or homeowners insurance policies cover lawsuits. Typically, these policies will provide a base layer of coverage, usually $300,000 or $500,000 per claim. Then, if you're sued for more than those limits, an umbrella policy will pay excess amounts up to the umbrella limit of $1 million or more.

The real advantage of an umbrella policy is that it will defend and pay some judgments against you from personal lawsuits not covered by your primary auto or homeowners policies.

Never worry about the price of an umbrella policy. Instead, focus on whether it is broad enough to cover those uncovered risks in your life not covered by auto or homeowners insurance.

Here are just a few examples of lawsuits not covered by auto or homeowners insurance that can be covered by the right umbrella policy:

·        Damage to rental cars in the U.S. or abroad.
·        Injuries you cause to a water skier while renting a powerboat on vacation.
·        Liability that you agreed to in a contract such as a wedding reception contract, making you responsible for all injuries and/or property damage caused by wedding guests.
·        Injuries you cause to a co-worker while driving a company-furnished car.

8. for a townhouse or condo unit, be sure you get the "deductible assessment coverage."
The rates for condominium master policies have been on the rise. To keep the premiums affordable, many associations have opted for higher deductibles of $5,000, $10,000 or even $25,000. Not only does that keep the premiums affordable, it also minimizes the number of claims made against the master policy, which helps keep the rates low.

Here's the problem: If the loss is caused by you from, say, a kitchen fire or dishwasher overflow, or is confined to your unit, most associations will require you to pay the deductible on the master policy.

"No problem," you say proudly. "I have loss-assessment coverage on my homeowners unit-owner policy." Virtually all laws on assessment coverage limit deductible assessments to $1,000. If that wasn't enough bad news, it also requires that the assessment be against all unit owners.

The bottom line is that you will need to get a relatively new coverage -- separate coverage -- called "deductible assessment" coverage. Find out what your association master policy deductible is and buy deductible assessment coverage for that amount from your insurance agent.

9. If your home is for sale, watch out for vacancy exclusions.

With the housing market in the dumpster the past few years, this common problem has arisen. A couple buy a new home before their existing home sells. They move into the new house, leaving the old house empty. Three months later, vandals break into the old home, have a wild party and completely trash the place, causing $50,000 in damage, and the owner has no coverage.

Homeowner’s policies exclude glass breakage and vandalism damage if the house has been vacant, that is without enough furniture to be lived in, for 60 days or more. There are high-risk policies you can buy to cover a vacant house, but the coverage is watered down and the premiums are three to four times greater than what you've been paying for homeowners insurance.

The better way to keep your homeowners policy and still have vandalism coverage is by keeping enough furniture in the house so it can be lived in, such as a kitchen table, a couch and a lamp in the living room, and one bed.

10. For all of your insurance needs, pick an insurance agent with great expertise.

What most people don't realize is that you can get an insurance expert for the price of an intern. Since all agents work on commission, an agent with a lot of experience costs exactly the same as a less knowledgeable agent.

The biggest mistake that people make when they buy insurance is that they shop based on price and end up with the agent who gave them the best quote, often with very little expertise. In fact, they would be much better off coverage-wise and price-wise if they shopped for the expertise of an agent first, then had the expert design insurance coverage with the right specifications and had the expert shop for that coverage.

Shopping for the best price first leaves you with a good deal but the wrong coverage. Shopping for expertise first leaves you with a competitive price for the right coverage.

When you have a serious claim, which choice would you make?

Copyright 2014, Bankrate Inc.