Halloween and Autumn Safety Tips

Autumn is a wonderful time of year and comes with colorful Fall Festivals and Halloween Celebrations.  It’s always good to take precautions to make sure that all family members, including pets, enjoy a safe experience as well.  The American Academy of Pediatrics provides some great advice to make Autumn time Safety time:

Costume Suggestions for Fall Parties and Trick or Treating

  • Plan costumes that are reflective and brightly colored. Be certain that shoes fit well and that costumes are short. Long costumes can cause tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • When shopping for costumes, only consider materials that are flame-resistant.
  • Instead of a mask that can limit eyesight, consider a decorative hat or non-toxic face make-up.
  • Children and grownups should carry flashlights with fresh batteries when outside trick-or-treating
  • Never use decorative contact lenses as part of a costume.  These lenses can be dangerous and can cause infection.
  • Children should be taught to never trick-or-treat alone.  Go in a group or with a parent.

Safe Pumpkin Carving

  • Never allow young children to carve their own pumpkins.  Instead, ask your child to draw the face on the pumpkin that the parents can carve.  Or decorate your pumpkin using colorful paints, glue, and accessories.
  • Instead of putting a candle in your pumpkin, consider lighting your pumpkin with a glow stick or flashlight.  If you prefer a candle, use a votive candle.
  • Candle-lit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy surface away from curtains and other flammable materials.  Don’t leave a candle-lit pumpkin unattended.

Making Your House Safe for Visitors

  • When getting ready for visitors at your house, remove anything that a visitor could trip over in the dark.  Make sure garden hoses, decorations, toys, and bikes are not in walkways or on porches.
  • Make sure bulbs in outside lights are working, and change any burnt out bulbs.
  • Restrain your pets so they are not tempted to follow visitors out of your yard.  Restraining pets also provides safety for your visitors.
  • Sweep any wet leaves away from walkways, steps, and porches to prevent slipping and falling.

 Monitor Your Kids’ Treats

  • Though tampering is rare, inspect treats that come home from trick-or-treating or from holiday gatherings.  Make sure nothing is spoiled, unwrapped, or looks suspicious in any way.
  • Don’t let children have unlimited access to festive candy and treats.  Teach them to eat sweets in moderation only, and save some candy for another day.
  • Keep candy, especially chocolate out of the reach of pets.  Any type of candy is not good for pets, and chocolate can be lethal.

10 Tips for Saving Money on Prescription Medications

Prescription drug commercials do a good job of making everything about the products seem good. However, the prices actually wind up being much higher than many seniors can afford. There are several ways to save money on prescriptions.

1. Coupons Pharmacies and discount stores take the time to send out quite a few coupons, so it is a good idea to make use of them. Searching online is even easier, and there are many apps such as GoodRX that help seniors find the best drug prices and pharmacies near them. Price comparison apps also exist. While shopping at the pharmacy, ask about a discount card. Most large pharmacies offer these to help customers save even more.

2. Generics Nearly 80 percent of prescriptions today are written for generics. These are bio-equivalent drugs for the name-brand ones. However, they cost between 80 and 85 percent less than their name-brand counterparts. Experts estimated that buying generic drugs saved Americans a total of about $3 billion every week in 2010. Also, the 17-year patents that exist on many big-name drugs will end during the next several years. When this happens, it will be easier to find generics for several drugs that did not have these options in the past.

3. Tests Another good way to ensure a drug is more useful than harmful without investing a lot is to ask the prescribing physician for a free sample. They often have trial packages with enough to last for 10 or 14 days, so this helps patients decide if a med is right for them. If it works well, use that time to also search for long-term discounts. There are often free trial offers from drug manufacturers in magazines or online.

4. Government Programs There are drug assistance programs provided in many states to help seniors pay for the gap between what is covered and what they must come up with out of pocket. There are programs for Medicare Part D in addition to resources for finding treatments. The Medicare site offers more information about these.

5. Pill Splitting Buying pills that can be cut in half will help save money, so ask a physician if a particular prescription is appropriate for this. If the pill is coated or is a time-release capsule, avoid doing this. This can be difficult with small pills, but pharmacies sell pill cutters that are tapered to cut many different sizes of pills.

6. OTC Drugs Doctors may recommend over-the-counter drugs in some situations. For example, a doctor may decide that an over-the-counter allergy substance will work instead of a prescription one for a senior. Be sure to ask about this any time a physician prescribes something new.

7. Patient Assistance Programs Nonprofit organizations and pharmaceutical companies sometimes provide discounts or grants to people who need financial help. Needymeds.org is one option, and discuss other options with an agent.

8. Order By Mail Costs can be reduced by ordering long-term supplies by mail. Avoid shady companies on the Internet that cannot be verified, but use the resources provided by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Sites listed with this organization have been inspected and verified for quality practices and upholding the highest standards. When shopping online, watch for the VIPPS seal.

9. Shop Local Ask local friends, relatives or health care providers where to find the best prices. Many pharmacies are willing to offer seniors lower prices in exchange for a loyalty commitment. Keep in mind that they desire repeat customers and a long-term business relationship.

10. Wholesale Clubs Costco and other wholesale clubs offer discounted prices for members’ prescriptions. In some cases, wholesale clubs may not require membership to purchase drugs there. This is often a good way to save a great deal of money.

Saving money on prescriptions takes some research and invested time, but it is well worth every minute. To learn more about options, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website. 

Decks and Lanais add Value, but Carry Risk for Landlords

A deck or lanai can be a valuable selling point for a property. They can be a big part of a tenant’s lifestyle and an important entertainment area for a home, apartment or condominium. They can also be a big differentiator for some restaurants, nightclubs and other public venues. But these structures attract people, and people can strain structures to the breaking point. So while decks and lanais can add value, they also bring some serious potential liability for landlords, too, if something should go wrong.

With a Name Like Shucker’s…

In June of 2013, about 100 people were present on the deck of Shucker’s, a restaurant and sports bar overlooking the picturesque Miami Intercoastal, when the entire deck collapsed without warning, dropping them into the water. Some 33 people people were injured, two critically. A number of lawsuits have been filed, which are winding their way through the court system. The owner’s damages, in this case, are compounded by a lengthy business interruption, as rebuilding hasn’t even started yet, due to the ongoing investigation.

It’s not just commercial property owners who need protection against the possibility of a deck collapse, and the liability it can bring. In a recent case in Salem, Massachusetts, a young recently-returned military veteran, age 23, was visiting some friends and they went out on the deck for a beer. Unbeknownst to anyone, one of the beams securing the railing was never properly nailed in place by the subcontractor responsible for building the deck. Several people were out on the lanai, and at least one of them was leaning on the railing. The railing collapsed, and the young veteran fell 30 feet to the ground. His injuries left him a paraplegic.

He filed suit not just against the landlord, but also against the architect the landlord had hired to inspect the construction, as well as the general contractor and subcontractor who built the house and deck, respectively.

Upon investigation, the subcontractor admitted that it was at fault since its own worker admitted failing to nail the key beam in place. The architect originally denied responsibility, claiming that he had been brought on as a consultant only. Discovery, however, unearthed a document demonstrating that the architect had, indeed, certified that he had inspected the work done and that it had been done satisfactorily.

The accident victim in this case had suffered future lost income and additional medical expenses worth at least $2.2 million, and that was in compensatory damages alone. However, since everyone involved in the construction of the home had some responsibility in the chain of events leading to the accident, each of them, in conjunction with their respective liability insurance carriers, wound up contributing a minimum six figures (in the case of the architect) to a total settlement of $4,600,000.

In another case, a 2007 deck collapse in Wichita, Kansas, severely injured several people, and killed one. Investigation revealed that the deck was only secured to the main structure with a few nails and not properly bolted to the base of the house. In this case, after some back and forth, defendants and their insurers ultimately settled for a total of $2.18 million.

In each case, a deck collapse resulted in seven-figure liability – even in a non-fatality accident injuring just one person. And as the Shucker’s and Witchita incidents demonstrate, deck collapses can easily involve multiple victims, increasing the potential damages substantially.

In each case, as well, the accidents occurred well after the structures were built. Landlords and Contractors should ensure that they have an adequate amount of liability coverage, including an umbrella policy.  Short of not having enough coverage, the legal process will eventually force the funds from the liable parties. This can mean selling off properties, depleting liquid assets and even having future income garnished to pay off the damaged parties.

If you have questions about the proper protection for your property call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Do You Have an Emergency Family Communications Plan?

Disaster doesn’t wait for your family to be together to strike. In fact, it may well happen while children are at school or one or both parents are away at work. Do you have a plan in place to take care of your family until you can reunite? Will you even be able to find them after a major disaster? Will your plan still work when many of the local cell towers are down?

Yes, we all hope the crisis never arises. But hope is not a plan. With that in mind, here are some here are some tips to help you through the crisis.

  • Download a locator application to everyone’s iPhones, such as Life360. Life360 allows you to track the last known location of the cell phones of everyone in your contact list.
  • Designate a trusted friend or relative in a different state to act as a go-between. Local telephone service may well be unreliable. An out-of-state friend or relative should be safely out of the way of most disasters, and can act as a conduit for information between family members directly impacted by disaster.
  • Add “ICE” to that individual’s name in everyone’s phone. ICE is short for “In Case of Emergency.” Put it into “favorites” lists to make it easier.
  • Ensure young children know how to use text messaging, if they are old enough. Sometimes SMS text messages can make it through the cell phone networks when voice calls can’t.
  • Sign up for alert services with your local emergency management agency. These alerts can give you advance warning and/or up to date information on tornados, storms, hurricanes.
  • Have a ‘meeting point’ established in advance, and an alternate, in case the first meeting point is unavailable. If you can’t make it home, tell the family to come to the meeting point, and then the alternate, if no one can contact each other.
  • Have emergency ‘go-bags’ packed in advance. Don’t forget:
  •  Formula
  •  Diapers
  •  Bottles
  •  Powdered milk
  •  Medications
  •  Moist towelettes
  •  Pet needs
  •  Insurance paperwork
  •  Contact info
  •  Medical insurance cards
  •  Identification
  •  Bottled water
  •  Toilet paper

Download and complete a family emergency plan template for children from FEMA.gov. Give it to children, and post a copy on the refrigerator. You can also laminate it and put it in children’s backpacks.

Fill out the FEMA.gov family communication plan for parents.

Know everyone’s blood type and allergies.

For more information, visit http://www.ready.org.

New Health Savings Account Limitations for 2015

The Internal Revenue Service has announced the new tax year 2015 limitations on contributions and deductibles for health savings accounts and high-deductible health plans.

Health savings accounts are special accounts to which taxpayers can contribute money on a pre-tax basis to fund expected or possible future health care expenses. Any money distributed from health savings accounts to pay for qualified health expenses is tax-free. The catch: You can only contribute to a health savings account if you also own a qualified high-deductible health plan.

For 2015, health savings accounts owners can contribute up to $3,350 for an individual and up to $6,650 for a family – increases of $50 and $100 over tax year 2014, respectively.  Those HSA holders who are age 55 and older can save an additional $1,000 per month, which is unchanged from 2014. The combined catch-up contributions and regular limits equate to a total of $4,350 for an individual and $7,650 for a family plan in 2015.

Contributions are 100 percent tax deductible from gross income, similar to a traditional IRA.

The federal government also announced the minimum allowable annual deductibles for high-deductible health plans: $1,300 for plans covering singles and $2,600 for family plans. Again, these reflect increases of $50 and $100 over 2014 levels, respectively.

The maximum out-of-pocket loss exposure was also defined at $6,450 per year for plans covering singles (up $100 compared to 2014) and $12,900 for family plans (up $200). That means that regardless of your medical expenses, your maximum out-of-pocket cost under a health savings account is either $6,450 if your plan covers only yourself, or $12,900 if your plan covers your whole family.

HSAs Vs. Flexible Spending Accounts

Furthermore, unlike flexible spending accounts, you get to keep money in an HSA even if you don’t spend it during the year. Where FSA balances are forfeited, HSA money is yours to keep, and it can compound year after year. If not needed for medical expenses.

If you don’t need the money by the time you turn 65, it is available for retirement, on a tax-deferred basis, just like an IRA. If you do spend the money before you are 65 on anything that is not a qualified medical expense, you will have to pay income taxes on the distribution, plus a 20 percent additional penalty.

The benefits of health savings accounts include:

  • Tax-deductible contributions
  • Tax-free growth (if used for qualified expenses)
  • High deductible health plans may cost less than other plans.
  • HSA balances can be tapped to pay qualified health expenses tax-free at any age.
  • Your savings offsets the higher deductible.
  • HSAs are portable. Balances are yours no matter where you go or where you work. You never forfeit your own contributions to an employer.
  • HSAs are approved to pay for qualified long-term care premiums, Medicare premiums and out of pocket expenses.
  • Income after age 65 (subject to ordinary income taxes)
  • HSAs can be passed on to heirs, either as your surviving spouse’s HSA (but only if your spouse is a named beneficiary on the account)

 

Qualifications

To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be covered by a qualified high deductible health plan
  • You must not be covered by any other health insurance (other than long-term care, disability, accidents dental and vision, critical illness, workers comp and/or fixed indemnity coverage).
  • You must not be enrolled in Medicare
  • You must not be listed as a dependent on another individual’s tax return.

ACBI can help counsel and guide you in the best options for your specific situation.  Call us at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Does Anyone You Know Drive a Company Car? Then Read This.

Picture this. Larry has been a salesman with the firm for some time, and has been driving a company-owned car for most of his tenure there. It makes sense: Larry uses the car a great deal to travel on sales calls, and so it’s very efficient for him to simply use the same car for his own personal use. Larry is unmarried and has no driving age children. Therefore, no one else in the household drives.

Now, auto insurance is not a problem either. The company owns the car, so the company pays the insurance premiums. Larry is listed as an authorized driver on the company policy, and so is perfectly street legal.

But what happens if Larry winds up behind the wheel of another car? That’s what happened in this case: Larry got a call to fly to Chicago on a family emergency. He got to the airport and rented a car. Larry didn’t opt for additional insurance coverage from the rental car. He thought he was covered by the company.

Alas, Larry was distracted by the family emergency, and had an accident on the way home. He was at fault. No one was hurt, but he had caused a good deal of damage to a car in front of him.

The problem: When he called his company’s insurance company to file a claim, they told him he was on his own. The company policy only covered Larry in the company car, or a car the company rented. This last rental was Larry’s business, and not the company’s. Larry was on the hook, personally, for over seven thousand dollars in damage to the vehicle in front of him.

It could have been a lot worse.

The fix.

If you drive a company car, or if you manage a company that owns cars driven by your employees who retain them for their personal use, you can do something about this risk. Ask your agent about a specific type of coverage called other car coverage. There are a couple of different forms of coverage out there. But this endorsement extends insurance coverage to the employee even when driving a vehicle not rented or owned by the company.  This coverage can extend to spouses, too – provided they share the same household.

Another approach is to add each similarly-situated employee to the company’s auto insurance policy as an individual named insured. This would also extend coverage to the employees of the firm so named without the need for them to acquire a personal auto policy (PAP) if they need to rent a vehicle for some reason.

If you have any questions about the proper way to protect yourself, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

What Everyone Should Know about Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella policies provide extra protection beyond standard coverage, and they are available in increments of millions. Most insurance companies offer these policies starting at $1 million and going up as high as $10 million in some cases. There are a few companies targeting people with higher net worth ratings, and they offer policies as high as $50 million and sometimes more. The majority of people who buy umbrella policies pick a standard $1 million policy, but there are quite a few who choose policies totaling $2 million. For the first $1 million, the premium can be as high as $250 per year. However, it may be even higher if a person has more than two cars, has points on his or her record or has young drivers in the home. The premium lowers slightly for each additional million in coverage added.

If a person becomes liable for a catastrophic event, it is better for him or her to have more coverage. The best part about umbrella insurance is how affordable it is. Anyone who is considering buying this insurance should never cut any corners. It is crucial to carefully consider the value of all personal assets. When in doubt, aim for a higher number rather than a lower number. Some people think they only need to buy enough coverage to match their net worth, but this is not true. Many judgments and settlements can exceed a person’s assets. Keep in mind that awarded damages are not lowered due to a lower net worth.

Future wages should also be protected from garnishment. If a person does not have enough insurance, he or she can easily be compromised. When a person is injured and earns a sizable judgment, he or she can count on being a target of the top liability attorneys. While $1 million may seem like an excessive amount of coverage to some people, it is important to keep in mind that the total for a liability claim can multiply very quickly.

One million is not very much in today’s expensive world. Settlements exceeding the $5 million mark are not uncommon to read about in the newspaper. Facing a lifetime of medical care and injuries coupled with losing the ability to earn an income can total well over $5 million. If multiple people are injured, the situation only becomes more complicated and more expensive. Every person should consider what he or she thinks is acceptable for different circumstances. People should ask themselves how much they would be willing to settle for if they were unable to work and were paralyzed for the rest of their lives.

People who have anything to lose should purchase at least $2 million in umbrella overage. For those who stand to lose a great deal of assets and savings, it is wise to purchase at least a $5 million policy, but it might be optimal to purchase more. The best way to determine how much insurance to buy is to discuss personal issues and concerns with an agent.  ACBI can help assess your coverage needs and offer coverage solutions.  Call us today at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

‘Heartbleed’ Bug Underscores Need for Cyber Risk Insurance

American businesses took a one-two punch in the gut this spring: Investigators discovered a serious vulnerability in a popular cryptographic protocol in very common use by commercial Web developers all over the world. The so-called “Heartbleed Bug” was nestled in the very prominent OpenSSL cryptographic software library, and allowed cyber thieves to steal information that both the Web programmers and the end user/customers thought was protected. The popular website Mashable.com published an extensive list of websites and vendors whose systems may have been compromised by the Heartbleed Bug. If you do business with any company on this list that may have been affected, you may wish to change your password information.

Just a matter of days later, the largest arts and crafts story in America, Michael’s, announced that thousands of credit card numbers had been compromised Aaron Brothers, a Michael’s subsidiary, was also affected by an attack by highly sophisticated criminals using malware that had not been encountered before by their security consultant firms. Michael’s has contained the threat, and the malware is no longer compromising credit card numbers and expiration dates. The attack occurred between May 8, 2013 and January 27, 2014, potentially affecting 2.6 million cards.

Furthermore, Florida officials are now investigating an attack on Hess customers who purchased gas using their credit cards. Criminals installed a number of card skimmers at a number of Hess stations in Florida.

These attacks come on the heels of a massive leak of credit card information at the prominent Target chain of retail stores.

The result isn’t just a risk to customers and card-issuing banks. Businesses who take any form of electronic payment must consider themselves at risk of liability arising from the compromise of their electronic payment systems. As we saw from the Heartbleed Bug, even the most sophisticated businesses with large and highly skilled information technology staffs of their own were vulnerable to flaws in the coding far upstream.

Furthermore, as we see in the Hess case, smaller firms can no longer assume they will not be targeted by cyber-thieves. If they can install skimmers on gas pumps and go undetected for months, they can install them almost anywhere. And it may well be the business that winds up holding the bag for liability for damages caused by cyber attacks that they failed to prevent. A recent survey showed that some 72 percent of all cyber breaches occur at small-to-medium sized businesses.

Liability can also come from government sources: The Federal Trade Commission recently filed suit against the Wyndham hotel chain for failing to provide adequate security for customers’ private information, after the FTC dealt with the fallout of three separate breaches in just a few years.

Cyber Risk Insurance

Fortunately, it is possible for businesses to purchase protection against this potentially devastating risk, through obtaining cyber risk insurance. This insurance protects the company against catastrophic liability arising from cyber attacks or other information security lapses.  Policies are now available from a variety of firms, and are designed to be affordable and realistic even for the smallest businesses that may be affected.

What’s covered?

Cyber liability insurance, or cyber risk insurance, is still evolving, but policies could cover one or more of the following risks, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners:

  • Liability for security or privacy breaches. This would include loss of confidential

information by allowing, or failing to prevent, unauthorized access to computer

systems.

  • The costs associated with a privacy breach, such as consumer notification,

customer support and costs of providing credit monitoring services to affected

consumers.

  • The costs associated with restoring, updating or replacing business assets stored
  • electronically.
  • Business interruption and extra expense related to a security or privacy breach.
  • Liability associated with libel, slander, copyright infringement, product disparagement

or reputational damage to others when the allegations involve a business website,

social media or print media.

  • Expenses related to cyber extortion or cyber terrorism.
  • Coverage for expenses related to regulatory compliance for billing errors,
  • physician self-referral proceedings and Emergency Medical Treatment and

Active Labor Act proceedings.

One size does not fit all. It’s crucial to take a look at the specific language of the policy as well as the premium, and choose the policy that best fits your overall risk management strategy and liability exposure.  If you have any questions or would like to review this important coverage, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Response Pricing Lets Consumers ‘Pay the Difference’ For Health Care. But Will it Work?

Parents of teenagers have used the technique for generations. When the growing teenager needs a new pair of jeans, parents have been kicking in the price at K-mart, Walmart or Target. If she wants a high-end brand name fashion, the teenager pays the difference with her own money.

Sometimes they decide not to spend so much when they’re spending out of their own pocket – and the overall teen clothing budget is less than what it might otherwise have been. In theory, anyway.

That’s the logic behind “response pricing,” a pricing concept making its way through the medical insurance industry that analysts hope will help rein in escalating health care costs.

Under response pricing, the insurance company or plan will pay a baseline cost for any given medical procedure – naturally designed to cover about what it would cost in a medical facility at the lower-priced end of the spectrum. If the insured individual wants to go to a more prestigious and pricier hospital, or use a more sought-after specialist, then the insured pays the difference out of pocket, or via some form of cost sharing mechanism.

According to research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, early experiences from CalPERS, the California state personnel benefits fund, indicate substantial savings for employers under this concept. CalPERS  set their reference price for knee and hip replacements to $30,000, which was actually higher than two-thirds of hospitals were providing the procedure for. EBRI’s analysis calculated that the measure resulted in average savings of $10,367 per procedure. In addition, CT scans, colonoscopies, echocardiograms and MRIs provided under response pricing all resulted in savings to CalPERS.

In theory, the approach would make consumers more likely to be sensitive to the cost of tests and procedures, on the theory that they will be more careful with their own money than with other peoples’ money.

EBRI also calculated that if broadly implemented, aggregate savings could be as high as $9.4 billion, or 1.6 percent of all spending on health care among the 156 individuals with employment based health benefits under 65 (as of 2010).

Will it work?

The jury is still out. While early small-scale studies show some signs of short-term savings, the system relies heavily on accurately setting rational pricing in a varied and segmented health care market.

If reference prices are set too low, planners may well find that higher-cost providers are unwilling to budge on prices without a compensating stream of referrals, and their own covered individuals are still priced out of the markets. Hospitals who are dominating certain communities may also stick to their guns on pricing, and individuals covered under response pricing plans again may find care unaffordable, given their income levels, and therefore may still be priced out of access to health care.

On the other hand, if reference prices are set too high, then care providers are likely to simply raise their prices to match the employer subsidy – resulting in the opposite effect than the one intended: Higher health care prices across the board.

Actually coming up with a rational and responsive baseline response price for thousands of medical procedures is going to prove challenging. A national price, for example, will be easy to communicate, but would be a clumsy instrument indeed given wide regional price variance. On the other hand, trying to determine local prices would result in statistical challenges and a very complex effort to communicate benefits to covered individuals.

 

Protecting Yourself From Lawsuits Due To Household Worker Injuries

Although some homeowners know they are liable for injuries to guests that occur on their property, they may not be aware that they are also liable for injuries sustained by hired workers. Gardeners, housekeepers, nannies and other workers who come on the property can file a claim if they are injured. Before hiring a home worker, there are several important issues to consider.

Contractors Vs. Employees

When there is new help, it is important to figure out whether these individuals are contractors or employees. This will determine whether a homeowner is liable for an injury. Whether a worker is an employee or contractor depends on how much control the homeowner has over that individual. If a homeowner hires a person as a nanny to care for children and clean the home by following specific instructions and he or she also provides supplies, this means the homeowner has some form of control over the nanny. In such a case, the nanny would be considered an employee. However, if a homeowner hires a gardener who provides services to the public to mow the grass and trim the shrubs but the gardener uses his own equipment, that individual would not be considered an employee. The same is true if the gardener has his own team of workers. In such a case, he would be classified as an independent contractor. Both of these scenarios paint simple examples, but homeowners who are uncertain about hired workers should discuss their concerns with an agent.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

In some states, homeowners who have employees are required to carry workers’ comp coverage for them. It is still worth considering whether a state requires it or not. If an employee is injured on the property, the homeowner will have to pick up the tab for medical expenses without this coverage. However, workers’ comp insurance covers these costs. Independent contractors such as carpenters, plumbers and landscapers should be covered by their own employers’ insurance. When contractors are injured performing work on a property, their expenses will be paid under their own employers’ insurance. However, homeowners may be held partially liable if the contractor does not have adequate coverage. If this happens, some homeowners may be able to file a lawsuit against such contractors if they are required by law to have sufficient coverage. When considering hiring a contractor, homeowners should make sure they have coverage for property damage, worker injuries and uninstalled materials. Always ask contractors for proof of a license and workers’ compensation insurance for any other workers as well as themselves. They should be able to provide proof of a general liability policy.

Understanding What Home Insurance Covers

Home insurance policies vary when it comes to covering workers. A policy may include limited coverage for workers mowing lawns or performing other tasks requiring power tool use. However, a policy may exclude domestic workers such as maids and nannies. Some policies may only cover injuries if a lawsuit is filed against the policyholder. There are different types of policies, so it is important to understand the inclusions before purchasing one if hired workers will be needed. You may also be able to add this to endorse this coverage to your homeowners policy, but this is not automatically covered for most situations.

Umbrella Policies

If a policy has limited or no liability coverage for home workers, it is possible to buy additional liability insurance. There may be some coverage available through a homeowners policy, but it is likely inadequate in comparison with a major lawsuit. If a lawsuit were filed, a homeowner could count on losing up to hundreds of thousands of dollars without insurance. Umbrella policies provide further protection. They offer higher levels of liability insurance and ensure families remain protected in the event someone sues. These policies are normally offered in increments of millions, and they can be purchased after an attachment point is met through home or auto coverage. These points are usually between $250,000 and $500,000. Before hiring any home worker, it is important to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if prospective workers have had any complaints filed against them.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.