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5 Steps to Reducing NY Car Insurance Rates

Do you know ways you can keep your car insurance rates low? Most people are aware that one of the best ways to keep auto insurance costs down is to have a good driving record. But there are many other things you can do to lower your insurance costs. Prior to purchasing a vehicle, it is important to check insurance costs. Car insurance premiums are typically based on the car’s price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft. You may be able to qualify for discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft. Higher Deductibles Requesting higher deductibles may allow you to significantly lower your costs. For instance, by raising the deductible from $200 to $500, you would be able to lower the collision and comprehensive coverage cost from 15% to 30%. Therefore, going to a $1,000 deductible can save you a minimum of 40%. However, before raising your deductible, be sure you have enough money set aside to cover a claim. Bundle Your Policies You may be able to get a deal if you purchase two or more types of insurance or have more than one vehicle insured with the same company. Consider keeping all your policies with one provider. Ask your agent how this could work for you. Maintain Good Credit Strong credit can greatly reduce your insurance costs, as the information is normally used to determine premiums, as those who effectively manage their credit generally have fewer claims. Be sure to always pay your bills on time, don’t obtain more credit than needed and try to keep your credit balances as low as possible. Also, check your credit record on a regular basis and be quick to have any errors corrected. Keep Your Mileage Low You may be able to get a discount if the miles per year you drive is lower than average. Sometimes low mileage discounts can apply for those who carpool to work as well. Diving Classes and Student Driver Considerations Discounts are granted on a case by case basis but most companies offer discounts to policyholders who have not had many accidents for a significant amount of time. Individuals sometimes qualify for discounts by taking a defensive driving course, if a young driver on the policy is a good student, if he or…
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Helpful Tips for Buying a Home

There comes a point in one’s life where you get tired of renting, moving from one place to another, and dream of having your own home and your own space. Owning a home means having the ability to decorate your walls the way you want to, make holes on them to hang frames or change the layout of your entire bedroom, without having to ask for anyone’s permission. You can do anything you want such as restructure or renovate, as long as you have the means to pursue with your plans. It may seem like buying a home is a walk in the park. In reality, it is a nerve-racking process. The pressure of needing to make the right choice can cause frustration, stress, and not to mention unnecessary expenses. First-time home buyers are prone to experience this. The excitement of buying a home slowly dissipates as first-time home buyers realize it takes more than just having cash or credit, to get one that fits their needs. To prevent this from happening, it is crucial to know and learn what to look for in buying a house, and more importantly, what are the factors that you need to consider before even buying one. Here are a few home-buying tips. Assess your financial capability. How much does your dream home cost? How much do you currently have? Once you have a ballpark figure, it should be easy to find houses that fit your budget range. If planning to get a loan, avoid unnecessary movement of your funds. Lenders prefer to see a complete and consistent paper trail before approving requests and offering best deals. Get to know the neighborhood. It’s never too early to feel the vibe of the place you’d be staying in for the long haul. Drive by at varying times to know what goes on regularly in the area. Scan the area and gauge how accessible essential trips are-such as to the hospital, mall, church, school or market. Know ahead of the time if you’d be comfortable with the daily commute. Do you need a garage? Do you need a huge open space? Does your family prefer a sizable living room area or bigger bedrooms? This aspect will largely be based on your specific preferences and needs. This could also dictate the kind of lifestyle you want to pursue….
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Implementing an Effective Return to Work Program

What measures do you have in place to support employees while returning to work? Creating a positive and open program will benefit the business, the employee, and their teams. An effective return to work program will also help the employee maintain productivity while reaccumulating, protecting their earning power, and boosting productivity. Return to Work Program Structure Replacing a team member can cost anywhere from half to twice that employee’s salary, so it is worth doing what you can to keep them. Consider these critical elements of a successful return to work program as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Leadership Support Explain the key benefits of the program to leadership. It is important to know what your existing absences stem from and the average length of absence. Present this baseline data and make the case for your return to work program. Establishing the mainline of support from the senior leadership team is essential to the program’s success. Written Policy and Process There are many considerations throughout the development process, such as administration, how employees learn and engage with HR, and what company modifications are needed. You may want to consider implementing a legal counsel to assure you’re compliant with current company policies and municipal, state, and federal laws. Culture Check Create clear messaging about what this program means to employees, how they can attain further information when needed, steps for engaging with a program specialist, and other key advantages. Then, spread this information through e-newsletters, brochures, posters, and meetings. Training Educate managers on why the program is so important to support, how it impacts the organization and what it means for both them and the returning employee. This training should be implemented into your onboarding process so that all new employees are well aware from the start. Proper program messaging and clear policies and procedures will help assure that everyone is one the same page. Appoint a Coordinator The program coordinator role will depend upon the size of your organization. It’s essentially establishing someone as the daily owner of work and could be a benefits coordinator or someone from your HR team. This individual must work with various department managers to define program roles, track compliance, and measure success. Create Job Descriptions Having functional detailed job descriptions is a crucial component for all employees which include physical requirements and essential duties. Oftentimes,…
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7 Factors that Affect Home Insurance Rates

There are many factors that impact your home insurance rates. While your insurance provider can explain to you the factors that play a part in your specific premiums, it really all comes down to risk and how likely you are to file a claim. The key is to understand your risk and what you can do to minimize it. Here are a few factors that impact your home insurance cost. Replacement Cost Do not make the common mistake of under-insuring the value of your home, as this can lead to financial devastation if a loss occurs. Estimated replacement cost refers to what it would cost to build the exact same home where it currently stands. You can obtain an accurate replacement number by hiring a professional appraiser. This could be extremely beneficial in the settlement process if your home becomes damaged or destroyed. Deductibles A deductible is the cost of a loss before your insurer steps in to cover the claim. Choosing the right deductible amount is an important decision. The higher the deductible, the more you can save. However, depending on where you live, there may be other deductibles to consider when balancing your financial situation with the need to protect your house. Those living in a disaster-prone area may have a separate deductible for certain kinds of damage. Do You Own a Dog? The type of dog individuals own can significantly impact your home insurance rates. The liability portion of your insurance will protect you if you are sued by someone who is injured by your dog. Although, certain breeds of dogs are considered dangerous or might only be protected on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether an individual dog, regardless of its breed, is seen as vicious. To qualify for a policy, homeowners may be required to sign liability waivers for dog bites or take your dog to classes to modify bad habits. Be sure to provide details about your dog (breed and history) when discussing policy needs with your agent. Remodeling Any significant home improvement will likely raise the home’s value and therefore will require that increased value to be reflected in your policy. Keep your insurance agent up to date if you did some remodeling. Materials and construction costs will need to be considered for proper coverage. Age The age of your home is a…
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Fun Ways to Bring Employee Wellness to the Workplace

Have you made health and employee wellness a priority at your workplace? There are many creative ways you can do this. Make health and wellness a priority to help your employees stay engaged and motivated on the job. Here are some ideas to get you started. Walking Meetings Coordinate walking meetings with your coworkers. It’s not good for employees to just sit in an office all day everyday. Walking for 30 mins will help your employees feel less tense, more enthusiastic, and more relaxed. It will also promote creative thinking, better focus, and improve overall employee wellness. Essential Oils Using essential oils of lavender, peppermint, and jasmine can greatly impact mood. These can help your employees slow down and use their sense of smell as an alternative way to relax during the work day. Individuals use these products for topical application, dietary consumption, and aromatic diffusion for a range of wellness related issues. Dog-Friendly Office Pets can greatly improve people’s mental health. Dogs also give a great excuse to take a break and walk around. If you’re contemplating promoting a dog-friendly office, speak to superiors about how this boost to endorphins will result in greater productivity and collaboration in the office. Improve Employee Relationships Social and emotional well-being are very important factors in creating a healthy, happy workplace. Cultivate employee engagement tools to promote a strong company culture.This can include a wide range of games, activities, and outings. Gym Memberships A gym membership or discount is one of the top benefits employees want, as many go to the gym anyway. Speak to upper management about the importance of this and how it is a great way to bring wellness to the workplace. Those who stay active are more inclined to feel good both physically and mentally, which will show in work ethic and productivity. Healthy Snacks Bringing junk food in the office is very tempting, but it certainly has its drawbacks, since what we eat directly affects how we feel and what we can bring to the table. Encourage employees to bring snacks to work that boost productivity, like apples, granola, or veggies with hummus. Or, provide these snacks for them. Meditation Meditation has been known to help with conditions such as anxiety, asthma, high blood pressure, and even heart disease. Regular meditation is also shown to decrease stress levels…
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Need Personal Insurance? Consider a Package Policy

If you have quite a bit to insure, such as high-valued property, multiple autos, and other high-end items, you should think about how you can benefit from consolidating multiple policies with one insurance company. If you are in need of personal insurance for a variety of assets, don’t underestimate the value of a strong package policy. Why it is Helpful A package policy is able to eliminate overlaps or gaps in coverages, offer discounts and reduce premiums, and provide the convenience of having one common renewal date with one invoice to pay. Instead of spreading yourself out through different plans, it might make more sense for you to have your policies together. It is in your best interest to consider utilizing a package policy from top-tier insurance companies that are designed to cover your unique liability risks and property under one master program. Going this route will greatly help to mitigate the issues you can likely come across if you have multiple policies with different insurers. Take advantage of a package policy that is tailored to your needs, and offers the following protections: Homeowners Your home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make, so you will want to ensure that you have enough protection for any disaster, accident, or incident it may endure. Homeowners coverage includes Dwelling Replacement Cost, Guaranteed Replacement Cost, Contents Replacement Cost, Building Ordinance Increased Costs, Personal Liability, Medical Payments, and Loss of Use (this is dependent on the policy and carrier), among others. Auto Insurance Do you drive? Then you will need auto insurance. No matter how safe of a driver you are, you can never rely on the millions of other drivers on the road to take the same precautions. This can be for multiple cars and multiple drivers. You can choose various policy features, including agreed value to set the value of the vehicles and avoid depreciation in the event of a total loss. This package you are able to choose an option to replace your totaled vehicle with a comparable new one (without depreciation), and obtain high liability limits.  Road service and overnight expenses and comparable auto rental during repairs are also included in this coverage.  Umbrella Liability Umbrella liability will protect against multi-million-dollar lawsuits, especially important for wealthy high net worth clients. Coverage steps in when liability coverage under…
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Employee Benefits Compliance: A Business’s Checklist

Today’s environment requires keeping abreast of state and federal employee benefits regulations and maintaining compliance. This can be quite time-consuming and, if not done properly, can result in a lawsuit for your business. Legislation such as HIPAA, COBRA, USERRA, the Medicare Modernization Act and the Affordable Care Act have many HR departments working tirelessly to secure the management of these plans.  Affordable Care Act  The ACA defined who was an applicable large employer (ALE) as those with at least 50 full-time employees. Any qualified ALE must provide coverage that meets the ACA’s affordability standard for all full-time employees. This standard requires an employee’s contributions to the plan to not exceed a designated percentage of the employee’s household income for the taxable year. The ACA’s out-of-pocket maximum applies to all non-grandfathered group health plans, including self-insured health plans and insured plans. Non-grandfathered health plans must cover certain preventive health services without imposing cost-sharing requirements for services. Health plans have to adjust their first-dollar coverage of preventive care services based on the latest preventive care recommendations. Non-grandfathered group health plans and issuers that require designation of a participating primary care provider must permit each participant, beneficiary, and enrollee to designate any available participating primary care provider (including a pediatrician for children). COBRA  The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) applies to employers with 20 or more employees that sponsor group health plans. Plan administrators must provide an initial COBRA notice to new participants and certain dependents within 90 days after plan coverage begins. You may incorporate the initial COBRA notice into your plan. HIPAA  A group health plan must provide each eligible employee with a notice of his or her special enrollment rights under HIPAA. You must provide the notice at, or prior to, the time of enrollment.  The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires covered entities to provide a Notice of Privacy Practices to each individual who is the subject of protected health information. Health plans must send these Privacy Notices at certain times, such as new enrollees at the time of enrollment and at least once every three years, health plans must either redistribute the Privacy Notice or notify participants the Privacy Notice is available and explain how to obtain a copy. Group health plans that offer a health-contingent wellness program must furnish a HIPAA wellness program notice.  CHIPRA  Group health plans…
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Let it Snow: Safety Tips for Driving on Ice

Driving on ice is extremely dangerous and poses unique challenges and risks. Even the most skilled drivers should avoid driving when the roads ice up. When the temperature gets close to freezing, you should start getting concerned. However, driving on ice isn’t always avoidable. What should you do when you’re required to drive on icy roads to reach your destination? Prepare  Equip your vehicle with chains or snow tires. Chains are by far the most effective and should be used where ice and snow remain on the roadway.  Correctly operating windshield wipers and defrosters are also essential to safety while driving in snow and ice conditions. Make sure to check them before you set out! Feel out the road by starting out slowly and testing your steering control and braking ability. Avoid spinning your tires when you start by gently pressing your gas pedal until the car starts to roll. Start slowing down three times sooner than you normally would when turning or stopping. Remain Calm  If you discover that you’re driving on ice, you must first and foremost remain calm. Never hit the brakes or make any sudden movements with the steering wheel, even if you feel yourself sliding. The best thing to do is to slowly take your foot off the accelerator. Slow down as much as you can without putting yourself in danger of being rear-ended.  Find a Secure Location  Find a safe and secure location to park your vehicle, such as a parking lot. It is not recommended that you stop on the roadway, including the shoulder. Unlike with snow where you can normally navigate through, when driving on ice, you should find a safe location to park as soon as possible.  Correspond with Conditions  Reduce your speed to correspond with conditions. There is no such thing as a “safe” speed range at which you may drive on snow or ice. You must be extremely cautious until you are able to determine how much traction you can expect from your tires. When stopping, avoid sudden movements of the steering wheel and pump the brake gently. Avoid locking of brakes on glazed ice as it will cause a loss of steering and control.  Take Other Precautions  Maintain a safe interval between you and the car ahead of you. Keep your vehicle in the best possible driving condition. The…
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Is Your Home Ready for a Flood?

The losses that homeowners have experienced from floods have been quite significant, while an increase in water levels have wreaked havoc throughout the Tri-State region – even in low-risk communities. Prepare your home for a flood with flood protection measures and with flood insurance, even if you don’t think that you’re in an active flood zone. Secure a flood plan that at its most basic, covers physical damage to the insured property from floodwater. You may want to consider additional coverage to insure the contents of your home. But before we talk about flood insurance, let’s look at ways to protect your home from damage. Food-Proofing Tips  Some flood-proofing work may be required in order to minimize flood damage. Here are some methods of flood control that will protect your home.  Install foundation vents. Foundation vents force flood water to flow through your home, instead of pooling up around it. This provides an outlet for floodwater and relieves the significant pressure flood water can put on your walls and basement windows. Apply coatings and sealants. Coatings and sealants applied to foundation, walls, windows, and doorways will help prevent floodwater from leaking into your house through cracks. Raise electrical outlets/switches. All outlets, switches, sockets, and circuit breakers should be at least one foot above flood level in order to prevent significant electrical damage in the case of a flood. Check pipe valves. Make sure that all pipes entering your house have valves to prevent a flooded sewage system from backing up into your home. Grade your lawn. If your lawn is graded toward your home, rainwater will then pool around it. Use a heavy soil that contains clay content and sand to adjust the regrade your lawn so that surface runoff empties into the gutter. Look at mulch and siding. Wet mulch can rot your house’s siding, resulting in leaks. Keep a space between your mulch and siding so that the base of your house can completely dry after rainstorms. Flood Insurance An insurance agent can help you determine your coverage, depending on your needs and the value of your home. Excess flood insurance is available for those who own a high-valued, expensive homes, which can provide broader coverage for both the structure and its contents, and may also provide money for additional living expenses while your property is restored. The…
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Your Car Breaks Down in the Middle of Nowhere. What Do You Do?

Driving with any vehicle issues means you are taking a chance of making it to your next destination. Car troubles can be anything that includes a tire blow out to overheating of the engine. No matter what type of problem you are having, there is always a chance you will end up stranded on the side of the road. This can be both frustrating and dangerous. The best thing you can do is to have a plan if you find yourself broken down.  Use Your Hazard Lights or Emergency Flashers When you know you are going to have to pull off the side of the road, the safest way to do so is to alert any other drivers. You can do this by using your hazard lights that each vehicle is equipped with. The button is usually an orange or red triangle. This will cause your lights to start to flash in unison and is a great way to indicate to other passing drivers that you are stopping or there is trouble with your vehicle. Leave the lights on until the tow truck pulls up. Figure Out Your Location Now that you are safely pulled off the side of the road and you have your hazard lights on, you must know where you are. You can’t just call for help without any idea on where the tow truck has to pick you up. If possible, use the GPS on your phone or in your car to find your location. You want to be able to give the most accurate location to the tow truck operator so they can easily find you. This will also keep the amount of time you’re waiting on the side of the road to a minimum, lessening the chance that you’re involved in an accident or other dangers.  Exit the Car Safely Depending on where you are located, the traffic around you could be heavy. The cars that are passing may still have a hard time seeing you on the side of the road. Your safety is most important and that is why you should be careful when you are exiting the car. If possible, get out of the passenger side of the car so that you are not walking out in the oncoming traffic lane. A popped hood is the universal sign of a vehicle…
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