AJB Blog

Staying In Touch With You

Category Archives: Blog

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…
Read more…

Also posted in Personal Insurance | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Need Personal Insurance? Consider a Package Policy

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…
Read more…

Also posted in Employee Benefits | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Employee Benefits Compliance: A Business’s Checklist

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…
Read more…

Also posted in Auto Insurance, Car Insurance | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Let it Snow: Safety Tips for Driving on Ice

As We Head Into Fall and Winter, Now’s the Time to Brush Up on Night Driving Safety

The days are getting shorter, and with Daylight Savings right around the corner, they’re about to get even more so. Many people will find themselves spending more time driving in the dark during these coming months, which jeopardizes depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision. The glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can also become a huge obstacle for drivers. With the holidays coming up fast, no one wants to end up in a costly, stressful, time-consuming accident.  Enhance Night Vision At night visibility is limited to about 500 feet with high beams and 250 feet with normal headlights, allowing for less reaction time.  What should you do to combat darkness? Aim your headlights correctly, and make sure they’re clean Dim your dashboard Look away from oncoming lights If you wear glasses, make sure they’re anti-reflective Clean the windshield to eliminate streaks Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time As we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night. Some individuals of the age 60+  also may have compromised vision due to eye health issues. Drivers, especially those who are older, should: Have annual vision exams Reduce speed Take a driving course (Even experienced drivers can benefit from a refresher) Minimize distractions Check the side effects of prescription drugs Limit driving to daytime hours if possible. Avoid Fatigued Driving Drowsy driving puts everyone on the road at risk. Losing two hours of sleep has the same effect on driving as having three beers, and tired drivers are three times more likely to be in a car crash if they’re fatigued. Ways to combat fatigued driving includes:  Get at least seven hours of sleep  Don’t drive if you’ve been awake for over 16 hours  Stop every two hours to rest Pull over and take a nap if you’re drowsy Plan travel times for when you feel most awake. Stay Safe During Rush Hour Evening rush hour (between 4 and 7 pm on weekdays) is a dangerous time to drive due to busy roads and drivers eager to get home. In the colder months, it’s dark during rush hour, making the driving situation that much more dangerous. Put safety first by:  Not being an impatient driver  Staying in your lane and aware of drivers who dart from lane to lane Even though the route may be familiar,…
Read more…

Also posted in Auto Insurance, Car Insurance | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on As We Head Into Fall and Winter, Now’s the Time to Brush Up on Night Driving Safety

Insuring Your Business’s Property? Consider a Replacement Cost Analysis

If their property happens to be destroyed or damaged, businesses must take on a replacement cost to replace essential assets at the same or equal value. The asset to be replaced could be a building, investment securities, accounts receivable or liens. Replacing an asset can be an expensive decision, and companies analyze the net present value (NPV) of the future cash inflows and outflows to make purchasing decisions. Once an asset is purchased, the company determines a useful life for the asset and depreciates the asset’s cost over the useful life. This process can be very overwhelming for businesses. Fortunately, a replacement cost analysis can help your business to determine what your replacement cost is and how you can cover it. Understanding Replacement Costs As part of the process of determining what asset is in need of replacement and what the value of the asset is, companies use the process of NPV. To make a decision about an expensive asset purchase, companies first decide on a discount rate, which is an assumption about a minimum rate of return on any company investment. Then cash outflow for the purchase and cash inflows based on the increased productivity of using a new and more productive asset are considered. The cash inflows and outflows are adjusted to present value using the discount rate, and if the net total of all present values is a positive amount, the company makes the purchase. The replacement cost adapts to market value fluctuations of the particular asset and any other costs required to prepare the asset for use.  When insuring a business property, it’s critical that you determine accurate and up-to-date values that reflect the cost to repair or replace an asset in the event of a loss, such as fire or a natural disaster, that applies to the physical property and the contents inside your business. It’s important to have an insurance program that accurately reflects the values of your property with a Replacement Cost Analysis, which we offer as part of our business insurance products. Special Considerations When calculating the replacement cost of an asset, your business will account for depreciation costs and capitalizes an asset purchase by posting the cost of a new asset to an asset account. The asset account is depreciated over the asset’s useful life and will match revenue earned by using…
Read more…

Also posted in Business Insurance, Property Insurance | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Insuring Your Business’s Property? Consider a Replacement Cost Analysis

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…
Read more…

Also posted in Flood Insurance | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Your Home Ready for a Flood?

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…
Read more…

Also posted in Auto Insurance, Car Insurance | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Your Car Breaks Down in the Middle of Nowhere. What Do You Do?

What to Do After Your Car’s Been Broken Into

Discovering that your car has been broken into can feel quite horrible. Unfortunately, no matter how diligent you are, break-ins are always possible. They may seem almost inevitable even when you have taken extra precautions. Even if you’ve hidden away your valuables, locked your car, and parked in a well-trafficked spot, it’s still possible for a crook to target your car. If a break-in does happen, it’s important that you know how to handle it quickly and efficiently. First and foremost, remain calm so when you call the police and your insurer they can better advise you. Document & Report Take plenty of photos of the damages and make a list of any items stolen right away. It is important that you figure out what was taken from your car as soon as possible so you can notify the police and determine which items need to be replaced. In addition to money and electronics, it is common for license plates, license plate tabs or auto parts such as tires, rims, or catalytic converters to be stolen as well. Be sure to keep an eye out for those missing items. Report stolen license plates immediately so you will not be on the hook for speeding tickets or toll rides taken by the perpetrators. Serial numbers on your electronics or features such as Apple’s “Find My iPhone” tracking tool can actually be very useful for law enforcement. If you store any credit or debit cards or financial documents in your car, you will want to notify your bank to request new cards as soon as possible and be on the lookout for potential identity theft. If you choose to file an auto insurance claim, be sure not to move the vehicle until after a police officer has come and made their report. Be prepared by having these handy to file a police report: Your driver’s license Vehicle registration Car insurance ID card Photos of the damage List of stolen items Preventing Additional Break-Ins A car with one or more broken windows is an easier target for auto theft, so try to avoid parking your vehicle on the street. Consider parking it in a secure garage or another secure location until your car doors and windows are fixed and in safe working order. Parking indoors will also protect your car’s interior, as will…
Read more…

Also posted in Auto Insurance | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on What to Do After Your Car’s Been Broken Into

What Causes Teen Car Crashes?

The traffic accident rates for 16-to-19-year-old drivers exceeds any other age group. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.  Driving is a privilege, not a right. It’s important that teens own the newfound responsibilities that come with driving. There are specific causes that make teenagers such risky drivers, and understanding these causes is the key to helping your teen to stay safe on the roads and prevent themselves from becoming part of the above statistic. Poor Hazard Detection The ability to detect hazards in the driving environment is based on perceptual information-gathering skills and identification of potential threats. It takes time for young individuals to acquire this ability, which is why teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter distances from the front of their vehicle to the front of the next. Low Risk Perception Risk perception is the ability to subjectively assess the degree of threat posed by a hazard and one’s ability to handle the situation. Young drivers tend to underestimate the crash risk in hazardous situations and overestimate their ability to avoid the threats they identify. Risk Taking Teenagers tend to take more risks while driving partly due to overconfidence in their driving abilities. Teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, running red lights, violating traffic signs/signals, making illegal turns, passing dangerously, and failure to yield to pedestrians. Teenagers also tend to wear safety belts less often than older drivers. Lack of Skill New drivers have yet to fully master basic vehicle handling skills and safe-driving knowledge they need to drive safely. Vehicles are intricate machines and it takes time to properly maneuver any potentially dangerous machinery. Alcohol and Drugs Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a common cause of serious crashes, especially fatal ones, involving teenage drivers. Teenagers who drink and drive are at much greater risk of serious crashes than older drivers with equal blood alcohol concentrations. Passengers For teenagers, the risk of being in a crash dramatically increases when they transport passengers and the risk of a fatal crash increases as the number of passengers increases. Passengers who are same age peers may distract teen drivers and promote risky behavior….
Read more…

Also posted in Auto Insurance, Youthful Driver | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on What Causes Teen Car Crashes?

The Three Main Types of Auto Insurance Coverage, and Why They’re All Important

When you’re paying your bills every month, you may pay for auto insurance without giving a lot of thought into what it actually does for you. The reality is that auto insurance isn’t one single thing; there are three main types of coverage (and some other optional coverages too). All three of these are important and they work together to make sure you’re protected. Let’s discuss the three main types and what they offer you. Liability Liability insurance, which is further divided into property damage liability and bodily injury liability is the coverage that pays for another driver’s expenses in case of an at-fault accident. If, for example, you hit another vehicle and were found at fault, your liability insurance would kick in and pay for the car repairs and any medical expenses that were accrued. Liability insurance is required by law in order to drive your vehicle. Collision Collision insurance is the coverage that pays for your own expenses if you are involved in an at-fault accident. In the example above, if you had collision insurance your insurance would pay for the repairs or replacement of your vehicle. If the accident was not your fault, and instead was the fault of the other driver, his or her insurance should be the one that will pay for your damages. In the unusual case where the other driver isn’t covered, your “uninsured motorist” policy would come into effect, if you had chosen to purchase it. Comprehensive Comprehensive insurance is the type of coverage that pays you for anything that is NOT a standard car accident. Comprehensive covers you in case of theft, vandalism, fire, acts of war and other incidents. In most of these cases, there may not be someone that could directly take the “blame” for the damage. However, with comprehensive coverage, you will not have to worry because your vehicle will be covered for repair or replacement. These policies can be quite different from one another. Your comprehensive policy will detail exactly what would be included. While you may not look forward to paying for car insurance, the peace of mind and protection it provides you is something you can’t live without. If you’d like more information about affordable and effective coverage, check AJ Benet’s auto insurance options, including our Youthful Driver auto insurance policies. We look forward to protecting you and…
Read more…

Also posted in Auto Insurance, Youthful Driver | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on The Three Main Types of Auto Insurance Coverage, and Why They’re All Important