Admitted vs. Non-Admitted Insurance Policies

If you have been placed with a non-admitted policy, should you be concerned? A non-admitted policy is basically a policy type that has not been filed with the Department of Insurance (DOI) and thus may not be subject to certain regulations. Most policies are admitted, but some are not. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between an admitted and a non-admitted policy.

Admitted

Admitted policies have been filed for approval by the DOI. This means that the policy language, applications requirements and rates have been filed with the DOI. The DOI has the right to reject the filing if necessary and to work with the insurance company to ensure that their filing complies with the DOI regulations for a given policy type. The DOI also makes sure that the insurance company meets the state’s solvency requirements. Once filed, an insurance company can market and sell its policies based on what it has filed and agreed to with the DOI.  Insurance companies change their filing from time to time, which can mean changing the policy terms or rates; however, these must go through the approval process.

Non-Admitted

Non-admitted policies go through minimal regulations and may not be subject to the state’s requirements and regulations.  Unlike admitted policies, non-admitted policies are underwritten on a case-by-case basis, and the terms for similar policies may differ. In non-admitted policies, language may be added or removed as the underwriter sees fit for a given risk. They may also offer certain coverage that may not be available from the admitted markets. In short, insurance companies have a lot more flexibility when underwriting these policies because they are not subject to any filing terms, as non-admitted policies are not filed with the DOI. These policies are often written on higher insurance risks that are not available through admitted markets; however, this is not always the case.

The Differences

When applying for insurance, admitted policies have a set of requirements that either are or are not met. With non-admitted policies, there is more flexibility in getting a policy approved, because an underwriter is not subject to what is filed with the DOI.  Admitted policies typically have more generous language, but this is not always the case. For example, certain coverages that are not available through an admitted policy may be available through a non-admitted policy. For this reason, it is sometimes preferable to place a policy on admitted paper but to then secure addition coverages that are not available through that admitted paper with an additional non-admitted policy. Lastly, if you have a claim, an admitted policy is regulated by the DOI and a complaint may be submitted if you have a dispute. Should there be a claims dispute with a non-admitted policy, on the other hand, the DOI may not intervene.

As previously mentioned, most policies are admitted policies simply because this is the best option for an agent to place you with in the majority of cases. Price is not a good reason to go with a non-admitted policy. The two main reasons to select a non-admitted policy are as follows.

  1. An applicant does not meet the underwriting requirements for an admitted policy.
  2. The coverage sought is not available on admitted paper.

While admitted policies are always preferable over non-admitted policies, the non-admitted markets exist because not everything meets the admitted requirements and because the admitted markets also do not always meet the needs of the policyholder. It is always best to discuss these issues with your agent to see what options are available in order to make sure you are securing the best option for your risk.  If you have questions, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Helpful Tips for Lowering Heating Costs this Winter

When the fall and winter months approach, many Americans start turning up their thermostats. Heating bills can become very large if homeowners do not take steps to make their heating systems as efficient as possible. The following tips are helpful for lowering heating bills during the winter. 1. Find the best power company. In many areas, consumers have more than one choice for gas or electricity. If this is the case, it is best to shop around and compare rates. Consider how long the company has been in business, and ask about rates before signing up for service. Be sure to read consumer reviews online as well. 2. Do not choose an energy provider based only on price. Choosing a provider only because of a lower price is not always a good idea. Some newer providers may have worse customer service even if their prices are lower. Consider all factors before choosing a provider. 3. Ask about flat rates. Many providers offer flat rates, which means consumers pay the same amount every month regardless of the amount of energy they use. This makes it easier to plan monthly expenses and eliminates the worry of receiving a large heating bill. 4. Check the readings on the oil tank before and after filling. There may be discrepancies between these two points, so it is always important to check. Not all gauges work flawlessly, but consumers should watch for any deterioration. 5. Search for group oil purchase options. In some areas, there are co-ops or other services available to provide lower oil prices. They work by developing a committed customer base, so buyers will have to commit to making regular purchases to enjoy lower prices. 6. Look for local heating assistance programs. From one-time payment assistance to regular discounts, most states have one or more programs to help consumers pay their heating bills. This is especially true for low-income individuals and families. 7. Talk to the energy company. Whether consumers have gas or electric heat, energy companies are usually able to work out payment plans for large heating bills. They may also offer discounts or reductions for people who are unable to pay in some circumstances. In addition to these suggestions, it is important to conserve energy in every possible way. By using the following tips, consumers can make their homes more energy efficient: – Make sure basements, attics and walls are insulated properly. – Use thick curtains during the winter to eliminate drafts around windows. – Seal any cracks under doors with weatherstripping, and seal any window cracks. – When rooms are not in use, keep the doors to those rooms closed. – Put an insulating jacket around the hot water heater. – Make sure heat pumps, boilers and furnaces have annual tuneups. – Use ceiling fans to help circulate the air. – Keep shrubs that are near heat ducts trimmed to allow ample air flow. – Use a programmable thermostat to lower heat at night or when away from home. – Seal any leaky heat ducts with caulking.

12 Tips for a Safe and Fire-Free Winter Holiday Season

The two most common days for home fires in the United States are Christmas and Christmas Eve. Fire officials encourage all Americans to make safety a top priority during the holidays. One of the most important steps is to ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are installed in the home. The main cause of home fires during the winter holiday season is cooking, and heating comes in at second place. During this time of year, many people use candles more often. Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the most common holidays for fires due to candles. Keep these 12 helpful tips in mind to stay safer this holiday season.

1. Turn all lights off. When using any decorative lights in or around the house or tree, be sure they are turned off when unsupervised. People who are using older strings of lights should consider switching to newer LED lights, which are more energy efficient and stay cooler.

2. Have several working smoke alarms. Every level of the home should have a working smoke detector. While it is ideal to have one in every common room and bedroom, it is important to at least have them placed strategically so home occupants can hear them regardless of where they are in the house. If alarms are older than 10 years, they should be replaced.

3. Water fresh trees every day. Any fresh trees should be watered daily to ensure they do not dry out and become bigger fire hazards. All synthetic and fresh trees should be kept away from candles, heaters and fireplaces.

4. Use carbon monoxide detectors. This substance is invisible and does not have an odor, so it is considered a silent killer. If any existing alarms are over seven years of age, they should be replaced.

5. Make a fire escape plan. The fire escape plan should have two separate exit options, and there should be a designated area outside of the home where occupants can meet. If a fire happens, remember to stay out of the home and call 911 immediately from a neighbor’s phone or a cell phone. Do not go back into the house for anything.

6. Do not leave candles unattended. Before leaving a room or going to sleep, make sure all candles have been blown out. There should always be a one-foot safety area encircling when they are burning, and make sure they stay on flat and steady surfaces.

7. Use extension cords with care. Do not overload extension cords or power strips. Also, avoid putting cords under rugs to lower the risk of fires.

8. Use space heaters cautiously. Never leave a space heater running when the room is not occupied. Heaters should be at least three feet from any item or wall. Do not use old space heaters that are not UL approved.

9. Do not leave burners unattended. Watch all cooking food closely. When baking, set a timer and keep it within reach. If pan does catch on fire, put a lid on it to smother the fire. Turn the heat off immediately.

10. Be responsible when drinking. Alcohol plays a part in many fatal fires, so watch guests or hosts carefully.

11. Smoke outdoors. Make sure all guests know to smoke outdoors, and provide ash trays so they do not toss cigarette butts in areas where they could cause fires.

12. Keep lighters and matches safe. If there will be children present, make sure lighters and matches are kept out of their reach.

Group Personal Liability Umbrella: the Perfect Benefit for Highly Paid Partners and Employees

If your firm is looking to hire, keep, or just looking to financially protect your highly paid partners, employees or members, a group personal liability umbrella is something to seriously consider.  This is no different than having each individual get his/her own personal liability insurance, but it is for groups and is paid for by the business. The group personal liability umbrella may also be purchased by non-profits for their members as well as by a group of family members.

Sophisticated and highly paid individuals know the value of this coverage.  They need to protect themselves from serious auto accidents where they were at fault and may be liable for millions of dollars due to injuries not covered by their auto policies that are subject to coverage limits. Of course, this also covers serious injuries an individual may be liable for regarding an incident that happens at home, in amateur sports or in other recreational activities.

Coverage of up to 50 million dollars per insured individual is typically the maximum and can cover a specific class group, such as executives only, family members or a number of other arrangements as worked out with your agent and the carrier’s underwriter. Since it is underwritten as a group, individual histories and eligibility may be less stringent. For example, if one employee has a DUI conviction, this might be overlooked, depending on the carrier and the number of members participating in the policy.

The group personal liability policy can be set up as either mandatory or voluntary. Mandatory coverage automatically includes all partners, employees or members in the defined class. Furthermore under a mandatory program, a new hire in the defined class is automatically covered without any further paperwork, except perhaps when the policy renews. Voluntary coverage lists only those who choose to participate in the program. They must be individually listed on the policy and additional forms must be completed for new hires who want to participate in the program.

What is the major benefit to your firm? In addition to providing a valuable benefit to those people who need this coverage, if a serious incident does happen, it keeps your team members productive instead of having to spend time trying to figure a way to protect themselves. The reason is the insurance company is handling the serious problems, and it also has the expertise and legal counsel that know the best way to legally resolve issues. If someone were to do this on their own, they would need to find an attorney and meet on a regular basis, which would certainly cause mental distraction as well as productivity and performance lapses.  Also, any settlement or judgment in an individual action could result in garnished wages, and perhaps further ongoing problems and issues.

This is a flexible benefit that does not break the bank and does not go up every year to the extent that health insurance policies do. Including a group personal liability umbrella in your benefits package for the key individuals in your firm can really go a long way. It gives peace of mind as each partner is protected and won’t be overly distracted if they are unfortunate to be involved and responsible for a personal catastrophe that causes serious injury or death to another party. 

Should you have any questions about Group Umbrella or wish to obtain a proposal, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website

What Homeowners Need to Know to Safely Winterize their Homes

When winter months approach, it is time for homeowners to start securing their homes for protection against wind, snow, ice and all other harsh elements. The most common causes of damage to homes during the colder months are hail, rain and wind. Where To Start The roof is the best place to start when winter-proofing a home. All types of severe weather will stress shingles over time. Whether it is wind tugging at them or debris chipping at them, shingles must be kept in good condition or replaced as needed. Before the first freeze or snowstorm arrives, it is important to check the roof carefully to determine the condition of the shingles. Make any needed repairs as quickly as possible. Winterizing A Roof In addition to being damaged by harsh weather, a roof can become damaged by branches that fall onto it. This happens when trees are not regularly trimmed, and the result is often water leaking into the home itself. Over time, even a slow and unnoticeable leak can lead to extensive rotting. To keep the roof safe, follow these helpful tips: – Check the roof for damage, clean the gutters and make sure downspouts are clear. – Trim all trees and especially dead branches around the home. – Make sure the flashing is in good shape to avoid water damage. – Use impact-resistant roofing materials whenever possible. – Fix any damaged or bubbled areas on a flat or sloped roof. – Put extra insulation in the attic to prevent ice buildup and subsequent water damage. Winterizing A Basement When the roof is finished, check the basement next. Make an appointment to have the furnace inspected and cleaned each year, and be sure this is done by a qualified technician. Put insulation on all exposed water pipes. It is also helpful to keep the thermostat turned up during colder periods to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. If there are any flammable materials in the basement, make sure they are stored away from wiring or heating units. Winterizing The Windows Leaky windows will let not only air but also snow and rain in the home. This can lead to big problems after a short period of time, so it is important to make sure the caulking around the windows and door frames is in good repair. Be sure to also check the caulking around sinks, bathtubs and toilets. After completing these tasks, it is prudent to walk around the house and look for other items that need repair. Look carefully at all appliances to see if they need to be serviced. Check the wiring to make sure it is in good repair. If there is a fireplace or wood-burning stove, have the chimney checked and cleaned every year when the colder months arrive. Clean under the dryer and its exhaust pipe to prevent fires. Look at all of the electrical outlets to ensure they do not have frayed wires or are loose. Check all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and replace the batteries if needed. Be sure to check them every month after that as well, and always keep a working fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen. Making sure the house is sealed up tight and is safe will help reduce the likelihood of having to file an insurance claim this winter. To learn more, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website. 

Why Are Health Care Costs Still Rising?

Yes, we passed a sweeping reform package in 2010 with the controversial Affordable Care Act. As the name implies, it was supposed to help control health care costs, and be fully implemented in January of 2014. But health care costs still seem to be rising? Why is that?

There are several reasons:

  • Pharmaceutical companies continue to invest and innovate and market new drugs and technologies – which are extremely expensive.
  • New medical technologies
  • An aging baby boomer population now bidding up demand for health care services, even as a wave of baby-boomer doctors hits retirement age.
  • The “insulation factor.” Consumers largely pay for health care with other peoples’ money, not their own, and therefore take less care to control expenditures.
  • Overuse. Too many people are tying up emergency rooms for common, everyday non-emergency issues that are best solved with a doctor’s office visit at a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, while the subsidies were supposed to help limit expenditures, they evaporate once an individual makes more than $47,000 per year. So those making more money than that are still paying the full cost of insurance premiums without the benefit of the subsidies.

Most observers have concluded that managed care options like health maintenance organizations have ceased to deliver additional savings. The next wave in controlling costs seems to be coming from the growing movement for consumer-directed health care. That is, consumers will be taking more direct control of their health care dollars, though taking on more individual risk for health problems at the same time.

For example, health savings accounts let people save up money tax-deferrered in advance of health care problems. Expenditures from HSAs for qualified health care expenses are tax-free. HSAs can only be used in conjunction with a qualified high-deductible health plan. But the balances in HSAs make those high deductibles more affordable, while enabling consumers to benefit from the lower premiums higher deductibles allow.

Under current law, however, only certain individuals and families who are not covered by traditional forms of health insurance are allowed to contribute to health savings accounts and enroll in qualified HDHPs. Even so, these plans are achieving increasing market share, according to information from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Analysts hope that by passing responsibility for at least the first few thousand dollars of health expenditures back to the consumer or worker, they will take a more personal interest in preventing health problems and finding cost-effective treatments without wasting money.

Communication Is Key


As consumers take on more responsibility for resourcing their own health care, education and communication is becoming more important. While families still have coverage for major medical events, they often need help planning and budgeting to meet newer, higher deductibles, managing preventive care issues, and making the most out of Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Savings Accounts and other health savings vehicles and benefits.

Role of the employer

Employers who have the budget for a full-time HR professional can lead the way in this endeavor. Larger companies, who frequently self-fund their health coverage, have considerable skin-in-the-game in making consumer-directed health insurance work, because it’s their money that is at risk.

In other cases, health insurance companies themselves are taking the lead, with a variety of educational videos, websites, pamphlets and tutorials.

Insurance carriers are also publishing guides to help consumers shop for the best deals for common medical procedures, and highlighting the advantages of using generic medicines versus brand-names where generics are available.

Some insurance agents and carrier representatives are also holding in-service ‘training’ and educational sessions not just for employees, but for employers and HR professionals involved in the education and communications process.

From there, carriers and employers are implementing health and wellness programs and educational seminars on everything from smoking cessation to weight loss to yoga.

We are already finding out that limiting communication to annual enrollment periods isn’t enough. The most successful companies make education and wellness a year-round priority. Health care meetings are paid and mandatory.

The message should also be communicated in a variety of media. Younger workers do fine with web-based education, for example, while some older workers learn best in the classroom or from printed material. Understand your work force, and tailor your communications effort to match them.

In the long run, if there are savings to be had, everyone’s a winner.  If you have questions or would like to review your health care coverage, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website to request a call back.