Friday, 30 May 2014
5 tips for buying car insurance for the self-employed of dyman associates insurance group of companies
Along with the many other steps to take when starting a business, here's one that many self-employed folks neglect: checking to make sure they have the right car insurance coverage.
Just because your business is part-time or operated out of a home office on a shoestring budget doesn't mean a personal auto insurance policy is enough. There are different types of car insurance that you should know about to be sure you have sufficient coverage.
Here are five coverage tips to make sure you have the protection you need:
1. Don't lie to the car insurance company.
A personal car insurance policy typically excludes coverage for some types of business use, other than commuting to an office, so you need to check the policy and let your insurer know how you're using the vehicle.
"Otherwise the insurance company could deny a claim and then cancel your policy if you rely strictly on a personal auto insurance policy and use your vehicle for business purposes," says Insure.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner.
That goes for part-time businesses, too, says James Kuryak, principal of Niagara National Insurance in Buffalo, N.Y.
In his region, for instance, a lot of folks make extra money in the winter by attaching plows to their pickups to clear private roads. Generally vehicles with equipment attached to them require commercial insurance.
2. Determine whether a business-use endorsement on your personal policy is necessary and would provide enough coverage.
A business-use endorsement is an addition to a personal car insurance policy. It's geared toward professionals such as real estate agents, lawyers or consultants who drive frequently for business, but aren't using a car in ways that a personal policy would exclude. Adding the endorsement boosts the premium, but a personal policy with a business use endorsement is still usually less expensive than a commercial car insurance policy.
"A business-use endorsement is just so you and the carrier understand each other that this vehicle is used for business purposes," Kuryak says.
In some instances you may not need additional coverage. Say, for instance, you're a self-employed writer and drive occasionally to your literary agent's office. In that case a personal policy likely would suffice, and a business-use endorsement would not be necessary, Kuryak says.
But if you drive frequently for business, the insurer may require the endorsement or have you upgrade to a commercial policy.
The choice will vary according to your circumstances and the insurer. A business-use endorsement on a personal policy may be sufficient if you're a sole proprietor, use only one vehicle for the business and you can purchase high enough coverage limits to protect you and the business, Gusner says.
3. Understand when a commercial policy is a must.
Some vehicles and uses are disqualified for personal auto insurance, and you have to buy a commercial car insurance policy to have coverage.
"You're not going to get a dump truck on a personal policy," Kuryak says.
You might even have a hard time getting a pickup or van used for business on a personal policy.
Say, for instance, a self-employed handyman uses one vehicle, with no equipment attached, to drive to homes to bid on projects.
"If he is using a car, a personal policy may be all he needs," Kuryak says.
But if he's using a pickup or van, the insurance carrier might require a business-use endorsement or might not issue a personal policy on the vehicle based on the customer's occupation as a self-employed contractor. The insurer will assume the vehicle is used heavily for business purposes.
"Also, will the contractor have signage or a wrap on the vehicle advertising his service? That just screams business use," Kuryak says. "To be safe, the contractor should indicate business use to their personal lines carrier and see if they will accept the risk. If so, all is good. If not, then purchasing a business policy would be needed."
The guidelines of whether you need a commercial policy vary by insurer. Esurance, the direct-to-consumer insurer owned by Allstate, says you likely need commercial car insurance if the vehicle is:
§ Used to deliver goods or used as a taxi or messenger service.
§ Owned or leased by a partnership or corporation.
§ Registered or titled to a business, corporation or partnership.
§ Driven by employees or non-listed drivers.
§ Leased or rented to others.
§ A pickup, van or utility vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds or has a rated load capacity of more than 2,000 pounds.
§ Equipped with snowplowing or cooking equipment, bathrooms, altered suspensions, hydraulic lifts or racing equipment; or has equipment installed, such as ladder racks or permanent toolboxes used for the business.
4. Determine how much liability and other coverage you need.
Work closely with your agent or insurer to determine how much liability insurance you need. With a personal auto insurance policy, $500,000 is usually the highest liability limit you can buy, without purchasing an additional umbrella policy. A commercial policy offers liability limits in the millions. After all, you have a valuable business to protect if you cause an accident and someone sues you.
Commercial insurance also offers other types of coverage that you can't get with a personal auto insurance policy. Rental reimbursement with downtime coverage for trucks, for instance, helps cover rental fees and other costs when your truck is inoperable after an accident. A single-deductible endorsement lets you pay a single deductible if both your vehicle and attached equipment or trailers are damaged in an accident. Many other options are available.
Because businesses are so varied, commercial insurance is more complex than personal auto insurance. Talk to an insurance agent or company representative to determine what you need.
5. Expect to spend more for commercial coverage.
Commercial insurance generally costs more than personal auto insurance because it's designed to cover greater risks and provide more protection.
A variety of factors affect the premium including:
§ Where the vehicle is garaged
§ Driving record of you and other employees who use the vehicle
§ Type of vehicle
§ How the vehicle is used
§ Deductible - the higher the deductible, the lower the premium.
If it's a close call between a personal policy with a business-use endorsement and a commercial policy, Kuryak says to imagine how you'd feel if you caused a bad accident and had to make a claim. He chose a commercial policy on the vehicle he uses for his independent insurance agency.
"I have it because I'm constantly in my car working," he says. "I sleep easier knowing a claim is going to go through my business policy first."
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Auto insurance should have a place in your budget, but it shouldn’t be considered a fix cost.
Shopping around can yield lower rates, but it’s not the only way to reduce payments. Insurers offer a slew of discounts for everything from safe driving to being a loyal customer—but you have to ask.
So before you renew your auto insurance policy, check out these five ways to reduce the amount you have to pay.
1. Shop Around…the Right Way
Calling several auto insurers to compare rates doesn’t sound like the most fun, but it can lead to lower premiums.
Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, says prices can vary “dramatically” from one insurer to the next, but make sure you are comparing the total coverage being offered to make fair comparisons. “When shopping for insurance, it is important to be consistent in comparing the amount and type of insurance you are purchasing.”
She also recommends making sure the company is financially stable and has a good track record. “Your final selection should be based on price, coverage, special service and your overall comfort level with the company or person who will be providing the auto insurance for you.”
2. Safety Matters
The safety records of a car’s driver(s) can go a long way in reducing auto insurance payments.
According to Michael Convery, vice president at MetLife Auto & Home, many insurance providers offer discounts if you complete a qualifying driver safety course. He adds having a household of drivers with “outstanding driving records,” including being claim and violation free for a certain period of time can also bring hefty savings.
Even the type of car you drive can bring discounts. Worter says a lot of insurance companies provide discounts on cars that have features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft. She pointed to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety www.iihs.org as a resource to research cars with high rankings in terms of safety features.
3. Consider a High Deductible Plan
Drivers can lower their monthly auto insurance premiums by choosing a high deductible plan—but it means taking on more financial risk if something goes wrong. According to Worters, people can save 15% to 30% on collision and comprehensive coverage by increasing their deductible to $500 from $200. A $1,000 deductible can save you 40% or greater, she says.
While it choosing a high-deductible plan can reduce your expense, Bill Wilson, vice president, education and research at Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, says you have to time it right so you don’t end up with a big out-of-pocket cost if you get in an accident.
“Don't raise the property deductible well past the point of sensible premium reduction on the theory that ‘it will never happen to me’,” he says. “The preferred approach is to increase deductibles during good economic times when you can afford a $1,000 - $2,500 loss while accumulating a deductible fund that can be used during hard times if a loss actually occurs then.”
4. Bundle for Savings
Selling insurance is a competitive industry, and getting different policies from the same provider, referred to as a multi-policy discount, can bring savings.
“Having homeowners, auto, and umbrella policies in the same company will likely save money and, perhaps even more important, will make it less likely that a coverage gap will show up when more than one insurance company is involved in a claim,” says Wilson.
5. Maintain a Good Credit Standing
You credit score doesn’t just play a role in your borrowing capacity, it can also determine your auto insurance costs.
“Most insurers use credit information to price auto insurance policies,” says Worters. “Research shows that people who effectively manage their credit have fewer claims.”
According to Worters, consumers have to protect their good credit standing by paying bills on time and keeping credit card balances as low as possible. She also says to check your credit record on a regular basis, and to take care of any errors right away.
Monday, 26 May 2014
Five Health Insurance Tips that Can Make Your Workforce Appreciate You of Dyman Associates Insurance Group of Companies
Over the past several months, small businesses may have grappled to understand the many changes and regulations to the evolving health care landscape. In developing compliant strategies, employers have made, and continue to make, key benefits decisions that will impact the personal and financial well-being of their workers for years to come.
For those small-business owners who have continued to offer major medical insurance to their workforce, rising health care costs continue to be a growing concern among employees. As costs continue to increase, it’s important for small-business owners to keep in mind that even with a major medical plan; out-of-pocket costs can be overwhelming for workers.
To relieve some of these financial pressures, more employees are looking to their employers for added protection. And for those employers that offer more than just major medical insurance coverage, it pays off.
In fact, the 2014 Aflac Workforces Report found that 75 percent of employees believe their overall benefits packages influence job satisfaction and 64 percent say it impacts their work productivity. They also say benefits packages are influential with respect to workplace well-being and employer reputation.
So basically, the more you care – the more your employees care.
For those of you who think you can’t offer new products because you can’t afford it, there’s a benefits solution that’s right for you. Voluntary insurance policies, which complement major medical insurance coverage, can be paid by the employee and are designed to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses that may accompany the rising cost of health care.
Voluntary insurance products can give you the opportunity to offer great benefits to a workforce that’s looking to you for relief of growing financial burdens. Policies include accident, disability, cancer, hospital, critical illness and many more.
5 Reasons Why Voluntary Insurance Matters
Ø Voluntary insurance policies help provide employees with a financial safety net. Knowing that they have the security of a voluntary plan that will help cover unexpected medical costs will help keep their minds on their jobs and not on monetary concerns.
Ø Voluntary insurance can be offered at no direct cost to employers. You can choose to contribute a portion of the premium or simply make the policies available for your employees to purchase.
Ø Since voluntary insurance pays cash benefits, workers can use it to help pay health care costs that aren’t covered by major medical insurance. Whether an employee needs the money for childcare, groceries or co-pays, cash benefits allow the flexibility to put the money where it matters most.
Ø Voluntary insurance policies pay benefits regardless of any other insurance coverage employees have in place.
Ø Employees who are offered and enrolled in voluntary insurance plans feel more empowered at work, see their company as a great place to work and believe they’re more financially prepared to cope with unexpected medical expenses.
Gain More by Offering Voluntary Insurance
Deciding to make voluntary insurance available to your small-business employees is one way to soften the impact of inevitable cost shifting and rising out-of-pocket expenses.
Offering additional options like supplemental insurance shows you understand their evolving needs and also helps create a productive and loyal work environment.
Sunday, 25 May 2014
(Fox Business) - It doesn’t make for the most pleasant dinner conversation but thinking about the financial impact of your death is important -- as is acting on it. From figuring out how much life insurance you need to sign up for the policy, it can be a confusing process.
Here are some tips to make you better at buying life insurance.
Know the Types
There are many types of life insurance policies, but they boil down to two main categories. Term policies cover you for a specific number of years, and if you die during that period, a set amount is paid out to beneficiaries. Permanent policies cover you for life and are typically more expensive. Permanent policies can be broken further into types like whole, universal and variable life.
Know Your Needs
It’s important to really about what you want to accomplish with your life insurance. Your needs will be very different if you are just hoping to cover funeral costs compared to if you are hoping to pay off a mortgage and fund a child’s college education. Sure, it would be great to leave your loved ones a lot of cash, but the higher the benefit, the more you are likely to pay in monthly premiums.
Once you’ve figured out what you hope your life insurance policy will do for you, it’s time to compare rates. This is so you can make sure you are getting the best rate for your needs. Look over the policies to be sure you are comparing the same coverage.
Make the Purchase
It’s great that you are thinking about your long-term financial goals and your financial legacy once you are gone but until you buy the policy, you aren’t covered! If you’ve determined that you need life insurance, the sooner you buy it, the better your rates are likely to be. (This is because younger and healthier people present less of a risk to insurers.) So, like any part of your financial plan, the planning is good but the execution is key. Then re-evaluate with any big life changes (marriage, divorce, having kids, buying a house, etc.) and even just every few years so the life insurance still fits your needs.
Saturday, 17 May 2014
Dyman Associates Insurance Group of Companies: 11 Tips Every Home Owner Needs to Know About Insurance
Insurance requires you to think about bad occurrences … medical problems, car accidents, emergency home repairs. But although it may sound pessimistic to dwell on what could happen (carpe diem, anyone?), it’s important to protect yourself from some of life’s biggest surprises.
When it comes to protecting your home, it’s not just about safeguarding against structural damage or theft—it’s just as much about feeling secure in where you live. If disaster strikes, your focus should be on reclaiming your sense of stability. The last thing you should worry about is money.
We spoke to LearnVest Planning Services certified financial planner Ellen Derrick—and some real homeowners—about the top 11 things you should know about homeowner’s insurance.
1. What It Covers
A typical policy will pay for damage to your property and your possessions in the event of certain storms, fire, theft or vandalism. Like renter’s insurance, it also provides liability coverage if someone gets hurt on your property and decides to sue. Homeowner’s insurance also covers shelter costs, so you don’t have to face crazy hotel bills if you’re temporarily displaced from your house.
2. What It Doesn’t Cover
A standard policy has exclusions, including earth movements (landslides, earthquakes, sinkholes), power failure, war, nuclear hazard, government action, faulty zoning, bad repair or workmanship, defective maintenance and flooding. Windstorms are typically covered, including tornadoes, although insurance companies exclude tornadoes or hurricanes in some high-risk areas.
3. Why You Should Shop Around
Before committing to a policy, take the time to research an agent whom you trust—preferably one with good reviews online or via a personal recommendation. It’s certainly something that Ramzy Ayyad, who struggled to receive benefits following a house fire in November 2008, recommends that prospective homeowners do. “I had to deal with a rude adjuster,” he says. After complaining assertively to the adjuster’s boss, Ayyad finally received a check for the damages—but the process was exhausting.
4. Which Preventive Actions Can Reduce Premiums
It may sound like common sense to have a working smoke detector, but did you know that it might also help you land a lower insurance quote? The same goes for a burglar alarm. According to insuranceagents.com, you can reduce your premium by about 5% if you install something as a simple as a deadbolt, and up 15-20% for a burglar alarm system.
5. How Replacement Coverage Differs From Market Value
There are two key distinctions that every homeowner should know: “replacement cost” versus “market value.” Replacement cost covers repairing or replacing your entire home. Market value is how much someone would pay to buy your home and accompanying land in its current downtrodden condition.
6. Why You Shouldn’t Wait to File a Claim
When buying a policy, make sure to ask about time limits to report a claim, and then abide by them! If you wait too long, you may not be eligible for benefits—especially if waiting has made the problem worse. David Baxter works for a residential and commercial restoration company in Florida, and he remembers a customer with water damage who waited almost a month to do anything about it. “When the mold set in, and he decided to call, his insurance didn’t cover him because it was outside of the 14-day window required for reporting the problem,” Baxter says.
7. Why You Should Write Everything Down
Senen Garcia, a lawyer in Coconut Grove, Fla., represents homeowners against insurance companies that fail to pay out on valid claims. He’s seen many denied claims because people don’t keep good enough records. “Homeowners must document everything that occurs during a loss, do as much as possible to mitigate [the loss]—and document such mitigation,” Garcia says.
8. How Jewelry Is Covered
When David Cohen lost his wife’s rings, he was relieved that his homeowner’s policy covered jewelry—but it was only up to a maximum of $3,000. “My wife gave me her rings to hold,” he says. “So I promptly put them in my jacket pocket … and then forgot about the rings when I took the jacket to the cleaners. As you can imagine, they were gone.”
9. Why Good Maintenance Matters
Insurance companies would rather pay as little as possible to repair damage, so they prize early detection and prevention. Deacon Hayes and his wife paid for a routine checkup on their air conditioner because they live in Arizona and wanted to make sure that the system was ready for summer. “The specialist told us that the unit was on its last legs because of a hail storm,” Hayes recalls. Thanks to his diligence, Hayes’s
10. How to Save by Bundling
One way to save money is to bundle your homeowner’s insurance with other policies that you already own. “But don’t just buy a bunch of policies in order to ‘save’ money,” Derrick cautions. “For example, it makes a lot of sense to have your car and homeowner’s policies with the same company because you’ll usually get some kind of discount. However, if you don’t have a need for life insurance, don’t buy a policy just because the agent says you’ll save money on other policies.” After all, if you’re spending money on something that you don’t need, where are the savings?
11. When to File a Claim
A large section of Richard Clayman’s wooden backyard fence came down in a storm. “I didn’t think there was any way my homeowner’s policy would cover it—and my neighbors assured me that it wouldn’t,” he says. But he called his insurance company, just in case. “The agent asked how high (the fence was), what kind of wood it was and how much of it needed replacing. Next thing you know, I get a $700 check in the mail!”
Friday, 16 May 2014
If you want to save money on your home insurance, one of the best tips is to compare quotes from a range of different companies using an online comparison website. Remember to shop around at renewal too, as loyalty rarely pays. There are other steps you can take to ensure that you don't pay over the odds for cover.
Here are MoneySupermarket's top tips:
- Combine buildings and contents cover. Insurers want your business, so if you take out buildings and contents insurance with the same firm, you can often negotiate a cheaper price.
- Cut out the frills. If you don't need any added insurance extras, you could reduce your premium by choosing a basic policy. Accidental damage cover, for example, can increase your premiums by as much as 25%.
- Pay your premiums annually. It can be convenient to spread your payments over monthly installments, but it is almost always more expensive because firms charge an additional admin fee. So try to make a one-off payment each year.
- Pay a bigger voluntary excess. Home insurance policies come with a compulsory excess, which is the amount you have to pay towards any claim. So, if there is an excess of £250, you would have to pay the first £250 of any claim.
But you can also choose to pay a voluntary excess (this is on top of the compulsory excess). Opting to do so can bring the cost of your premium down. However, make sure the total excess is affordable in case you do have to make a claim.
- Secure your home. Insurers look favorably on customers who make their home secure because it reduces the likelihood of theft. A good tip is to install a burglar alarm. But not just any alarm.
Most firms will insist on an approved system before they will consider cutting the cost of cover. The NACOSS standard alarm, for example, can reduce premiums in some cases by as much as 7.5%.
- Locks are another important security device. Five-lever mortise locks are recommended for external doors; windows should ideally have two bolt locks. If you have just moved home, it's a good idea to change the locks because you never know who might still have keys to the property.
- It's also worth considering joining a neighbourhood watch scheme as it can reduce your premiums by up to 5%. Security lighting can also act as a deterrent because unwelcome visitors are less likely to loiter if they are 'in the spotlight'.
- Build up a no-claims discount. If you don't make any claims, you will usually earn a discount on your premiums. The no-claims discount can be valuable, adding up to a reduction of more than 50% after five years in some cases. So prevention is important.
- Your home is more vulnerable to theft when you are not around, so if you are going away it's wise to take extra precautions to minimise the risk of a claim.
- Time-switch lights will give the impression that you are at home and so deter burglars. Remember to cancel newspaper and milk deliveries - and ask someone you can trust to open and close the curtains and collect mail.
Also, don't leave spare keys in obvious places such as under a doormat. Beware too of so-called 'hook 'n' crook' thefts, where keys are left so close to a door that a burglar can simply hook them through a letterbox and open the door.
- Fire safety is essential in any home - and smoke alarms should be fitted throughout your property. Check regularly that the device is working as 18 people die each year because the battery in their smoke alarm was flat or missing.
Faulty electrics cause around 7,000 house fires across the country every year, so make sure there are no faulty wires or overloaded plug sockets. And always turn off electrical items at night. If you use candles, snuff them out properly to prevent fires - the same with cigarettes. Take care when cooking, too, and don't leave any pans unattended.
- Insulate your pipes. Burst water pipes are one of the most common causes of home insurance claims, so insulate pipes and tanks to prevent freezing in cold weather.
It's also a good idea to ask a neighbour or friend to check on your house if you are away for a long period over the winter months. If you think pipes are frozen, turn off the water at the valve and header tank to cut down water leakage.
It's also a good idea to ask a neighbour or friend to check on your house if you are away for a long period over the winter months. If you think pipes are frozen, turn off the water at the valve and header tank to cut down water leakage.
- Protect against floods. People who live in an area where flooding is a danger should follow the Environment Agency's advice to help protect their home and sign up to its flood warning scheme.
- Watch out for subsidence. If your home is affected by subsidence, it can work out expensive. Movement in the soil can increase the likelihood of subsidence so always seek professional advice if you decide to plant or chop down any trees. And if you spot any cracks, contact your insurer immediately before the problem gets any worse.
- Pay your own way. Think twice before making a claim. If it's only a minor repair it might be better to use your savings to sort out the problem and so protect your no-claims discount.
Thursday, 15 May 2014
Dyman Associates Insurance Group of Companies: 10 Things You Should Know About Purchasing Home Insurance
1. You Need Home Insurance
Homeowners need to purchase home insurance to protect their homes and personal property. Those who rent need insurance to protect their furniture and other personal property. Everyone needs protection against liability for accidents that injure other people or damage their property.
2. Decide How Much Coverage You Need
The better your coverage, the less you will have to pay out of your own pocket if disaster strikes. In some cases, your lender decides how much coverage you need and may require you to buy a policy that covers at least the amount of the mortgage. It is important to note that the amount of coverage you buy for your house, contents and personal property will affect the price you pay.
3. Compare Deductibles
The deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket on each claim and applies only to coverage on your house and personal property. Make sure when choosing a policy that you are comfortable paying the deductible if you make a claim. Remember, a policy with a $100 deductible will cost more than one with a $250 deductible. Higher deductibles may be available at a reduced price.
4. Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value?
You have the option to choose to insure your home and belongings for either replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation. It is important to insure your home for at least 80 percent of its replacement value. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home afterdepreciation.
5. Shop Around Before You Buy
You are not required to purchase insurance from the company your lender recommends. There are a number of unbiased sources available to find out what different insurers charge for identical products and services, including your state insurance department, consumer publications and your public library.
6. Ask Your Agent About Discounts
In some states, insurers offer lower prices for such things as insuring your home and car with the same company, installing deadbolt locks or alarm systems or replacing the roof.
7. Basic Coverages Available
Whether you own or rent, there are different packages of home insurance offered to protect your home and belongings. Each package protects against a specified number of events that cause damage to property. Three examples are fire, windstorm and theft. In addition, each package policy usually contains four additional types of coverage: property damage, additional living expenses, personal liability and medical payments.
8. Where to Shop
Check the newspaper and yellow pages of the telephone directory for companies and agents in your area. In addition, ask your neighbors, relatives and friends for recommendations on insurance companies and agents. Remember to shop around to get the best price and service.
9. Read Your Policy Carefully
You should be aware that a home insurance policy is a legal contract. It is written so that your rights and responsibilities as well as those of the insurance company are clearly stated. When you purchase home insurance, you will receive a policy. You should read that policy and make certain you understand its contents. Keep your policy in a safe place and know the name of your insurer.
10. Review Your Home Insurance Needs Every Year
Check with your insurance agent at least once a year to make sure your policy provides adequate coverage. The addition of a room, new insulation or remodeling add value to your home and therefore may increase replacement cost.