Understanding the Basics of Flood Insurance

floodingBy now, you probably know that only flood insurance covers flood damage, but you probably don’t know all of the details. Here are a few of the more frequent concerns for consumers to help you understand the basics of flood insurance.

INSURANCE AGENT: Flood insurance can only be purchased through an insurance agent; you cannot buy it directly from the federal government.

COVERAGE: As with any other type of insurance, it’s important to know what your policy does and doesn’t cover. For example, damage caused by a sewer backup is only covered by flood insurance if it’s a direct result of flooding. The damage is not covered if the backup is caused by some other problem. For a complete summary of coverage, contact your NEC professional.

DEDUCTIBLE: Deductibles apply separately to building and contents with different amounts to choose from. Like other insurance plans, a higher deductible will lower the premium you pay but will also reduce your claim payment. Your mortgage lender can also set a maximum amount for your deductible.

MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS: Homes and businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders in high-risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required if you live in a moderate-to-low risk flood area, it is still available and strongly recommended.

RATES: The NFIP, a federal program, offers flood insurance, which can be purchased through most leading insurance companies. Rates are set and do not differ from company to company or agent to agent. These rates depend on several factors, including the date and type of construction of your home, along with your area’s level of risk. Most premiums include a Federal Policy Fee and ICC Premium. If your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), you may qualify for an insurance premium discount in some communities of up to 45% if you live in a high-risk area and up to 10% in moderate-to-low risk areas.

30-DAY WAITING PERIOD: Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect. Here are the only exceptions:

  • If flood insurance is being purchased in connection with the making, increasing, extending or renewing of your loan.
  • If a building has been newly designated in the SFHA and flood insurance is being purchased within the 13-month period following a map revision.
  • If flood insurance is required as a result of a lender determining that a loan that does not have flood insurance coverage should be protected by flood insurance.
  • If an additional amount of insurance is selected as an option on the renewal bill.
  • If a property is affected by flooding on burned Federal land that is a result of, or is exacerbated by, post-wildfire conditions when the policy is purchased within 60 days of the fire containment date.

PAYMENT: Payment must be made for the full year’s premium. The National Flood Insurance Program accepts check and credit card payments (American Express, Discover Card, MasterCard or Visa).

For a better understanding of the basics of flood insurance, contact NEC Insurance at 636.271.2481 or email Joe Bosse, President.

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NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business and personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services. Our size allows us to provide you with the best price for the depth of services you receive. Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.
FloodSmart.gov

 

5 Tips for Year-End Tax Planning

As theIRS holiday rush is in full swing, it’s an indicator that tax season isn’t far behind. While your finances require year-round planning, there are some specific things you can consider as the year comes to an end to help you minimize your year-end tax obligations.

Here are 5 Tips for Year-End Tax Planning:

For more specific strategies, please contact a NEC financial planning professional for the best options for you and your family.

Max out your retirement plans: If you’re under 50 years old you can contribute up to $18,000. For those over 50, your contribution can be up to $24,000 and there are catch-up contribution options available if you haven’t capped out your contribution limits.

Make a donation: In general, you can deduct up to 50% of your adjusted gross income to a charitable organization without regard to net operating loss carrybacks. There are some exceptions, so before making any major philanthropic decisions, contact a financial planning professionals.

Take all required minimum distributions:
Be sure to take all minimum distributions from your retirements accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s. This includes any retirements account you inherited from a loved one. The tax penalties will be added to your ordinary income tax that you already owe, and can add up quickly.

Use Flex Spending accounts: The $2,2550 you can contribute to a flex spending account is non-taxable. You generally must use that money within the plan year or lose it unless your employer offers some other options.

Take the deduction from investment losses: If you experienced losses in some of your investment holding, consider selling some of these holdings to realize the losses. Those losses can be used to offset gains from other investments.

Before doing anything that could impact your tax obligation, talk to a NEC financial planner to learn what options best fit your needs. Any decisions you make today, could change your financial landscape for tomorrow.


NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business and personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services. Our size allows us to provide you with the best price for the depth of services you receive. Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.

Are You Monitoring Your Beneficiaries?

Three Generations of Family Walking Holding Hands on BeachSome individuals name a temporary beneficiary because they want time to think about it. Typically, once the forms are completed, these individuals rarely change their beneficiaries, so a temporary solution may become permanent – perhaps with unintended results. And if you think an inappropriate beneficiary will simply ‘do the right thing’, think again. They are legally entitled to the money.

Here are five situations you want to monitor:

  1. Do you have an insurance policy from work that you don’t pay for, or your family members aren’t aware of?
  2. Has your family expanded due to the birth of children, grandchildren, or adoption? If your child is listed by name as a beneficiary on your policy, you may want to add your additional family members.
  3. Have you gotten married, divorced, or found a new non-legal love interest? Make sure your policy reflects who you care about right now. If your beneficiary is a girlfriend or boyfriend from five years ago, and they are no longer an important part of your life, you may want to update the information.
  4. Has your current beneficiary passed on? The death of a spouse typically triggers a designation review. But what happens when your child is a beneficiary, and they die before you? In this situation your child’s children won’t automatically receive their fair share without changes to your policy.
  5. Have you experienced a major life change such as a job change, relocation, or retirement? This may have serious financial ramifications to your situation. You may need more or less complicated planning because of the size of your estate or changes to your residency.

To avoid awkward surprises, contact your NEC insurance representative today to review your policies. They can help you update your information and provide you with the peace of mind you want for you and your family. Call NEC today at 636.271.2481 or contact Joe Bosse, President.


 

NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business and personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services. Our size allows us to provide you with the best price for the depth of services you receive. Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.

Halloween Safety Tips for Homeowners

HalloweenHalloween is a dream for kids, but can be a nightmare for homeowners. It’s dark, kids are walking across your yard, and everyone is wearing a mask. Without taking some additional precautions, homeowners can be at additional risk. Here are some simple tips to keep the fun in Halloween without the fear:

  • Hand out prepackaged treats. Homemade goods should never be given to strangers
  • Remove toys, garden hoses, bikes, and lawn decorations from your front lawn
  • Use battery operated lights rather than candles inside your pumpkins
  • Keep driving a car to a minimum during peak hours
  • Make sure your steps and landings are well lighted
  • Keep your pets safely away from children
  • Allow only your children to carve your pumpkin
  • Sweep wet leaves from your sidewalks and steps
  • If the crowd is thinning and an older kid knocks at your door wearing a mask, don’t open it
  • Make sure your home owners insurance is current and up-to-date

These precautions are pertinent for close friends and family members as well. Nothing can ruin a good time easier than a trick-or-treat accident. To check your homeowners insurance liability limits, contact your insurance representative at NEC today at 636.271.2481 or contact Joe Bosse at jbosse@necins.com.


NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business and personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services. Our size allows us to provide you with the best price for the depth of services you receive. Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.

How to Better Insure Yourself Against Fire

homefireUnderstanding your insurance coverage before the unexpected happens will help you understand your overall financial risks. Without a committed insurance partner like NEC, you and your family may be exposed to risks in which you are unaware.

Here are some definitions that will help you better determine what risks you have in the event of fire.

Builders Risk: A property insurance policy that provides direct damage coverage on buildings or structures while they are under construction. It also covers foundations, fixtures, machinery, and equipment used to service the building, materials, and supplies used in the course of construction.

Fire – Real Property: Coverage of your real estate property against the peril of fire.

Fire and Allied Lines: Insurance covering the peril of fire damage to property, as well as extended coverage which includes other perils such as windstorm, hail, explosion and riot, along with resultant damage caused by smoke and water. Allied lines provide further coverage against perils such as sprinkler leakage, rain, and non-fire related water damage and earthquake.

Personal Property: Property that is not attached to real property and/or property other than real estate, or property that is movable or separable from real estate; tangible property which is often called contents. Personal property may be used for business purposes and, therefore may be covered by a commercial policy, while personal property not used for business is generally covered only by personal lines policies such as homeowners or renters insurance.

To determine if you have the insurance protection you need, call your professional insurance representative at NEC today at 636.271.2481, or contact Joe Bosse, President at jbosse@necins.com for more information.


 

NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business and personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services. Our size allows us to provide you with the best price for the depth of services you receive. Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.

Life Insurance Made Simple

Family lying down in the park

If you don’t have dependents or are wealthy enough to support your family after your death, life insurance may not be  a priority. For the rest of us, protecting our family is of utmost importance.

Here are the three primary types of insurance. Your NEC insurance representative can help you determine which type of insurance is best for you and your family.

Term Insurance is the most basic type of insurance and the easiest to understand. You determine how much coverage you want and for what period of time then pay a fixed premium each year. If you die during that time your beneficiary collects the face value of the policy.

However, if you outlive this type of policy, you have no protection after the termination date and gain nothing from the premiums you have paid in. This is the least expensive type of insurance for the budget conscious.

Permanent Insurance: Higher income families with a need to do estate planning, or those who want to be forced to save and invest money often choose permanent life insurance. Whole life, universal life, and variable life are typically the three types of insurance from which they choose. .

Whole life is similar to term insurance in that you have set premiums for a specific benefit. The difference is that there is no ending date. You make premium payments up until the time of your passing or you decide to cash it in and receive the cash value as a lump sum. The cash value is different from the face value amount of the policy.

Universal life allows you to separate the death benefit from the investment portion of your premiums. The investment portion pays for your guaranteed death benefit regardless of how your investments perform.

A variable life policy is the same as universal life however your death benefit is tied to how well the investment portion of policy performs.

All three of these permanent insurance policies can be complex. Ask your NEC insurance representative to explain your options and help you determine which one best fits your needs.

For more information contact your insurance representative at NEC today at 636.271.2481 or contact Joe Bosse at jbosse@necins.com.


NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business and personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services. Our size allows us to provide you with the best price for the depth of services you receive. Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.

 

 

Is Your Company Protected Against a Data Breach?

According to the Ponemon Institute, the average organizational cost for a data breach in the United States in 2014 was $5.85 million. The frequency and cost of data breaches is growing at alarming rates, however cyber insurance premiums make up only 1/600 of the world’s total non-life insurance premiums.  In light of the mass increase in occurrence, protecting your company assets is becoming more and more important.

The correct cyber liability insurance policy will provide you with benefits protecting you from a variety of risks including staff negligence, loss of laptops or mobile devices, employee sabotage, third-party billing agencies, and hackers.  You may be required to add additional security measures to your processes; however it will be well worth your time.

You need cyber liability insurance if you:

  • Collect credit card information at a point of sale
  • Run a website that processes credit cards
  • Store private customer information in your computer such as social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
  • Use the Cloud or other third-part service providers for hosting applications or data

You may already have a comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance policy for your business and assume you are covered. However, unless you have a specific cyber breach endorsement, your company is at risk. Without the proper insurance, you will pay out-of-pocket for:

  • Legal support
  • IT security
  • IT repair/restoration
  • Customer notification
  • Credit monitoring
  • Public Relations
  • Loss of customers, clients, and revenue

To help determine if your insurance policies include data breach coverage, schedule an insurance review with your NEC insurance professional today at 636.271.2481, or contact Joe Bosse, President for more information.

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NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business insurance, personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services.  Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.

 

7 Answers to Common Auto Insurance Questions

auto_insuranceEven though our customer service representatives are available to answer all of your questions regarding your auto insurance policies, here are answers to the top seven most common ones we hear. Please feel free to call your NEC insurance agent if you have additional questions, or want to increase your coverage. Our goal is to help you feel more comfortable with how well you protect yourself and/or your family. 

  1. Do you have to buy uninsured motorist coverage on an auto policy?
    Yes, an insurance company cannot issue a contract of automobile liability coverage in Missouri without including uninsured motorist coverage on the policy.
  2. What does uninsured motorist coverage cover?
    Uninsured motorist coverage applies to bodily injury only. Your uninsured motorist coverage will protect you from hit-and-run drivers. It covers you for injuries sustained while in your car or as a pedestrian when hit by an uninsured driver. It does not cover damage to your vehicle.
  3. Can the driving/accident records of my child/spouse have an impact on my ability to buy auto insurance?
    Yes, the driving record of any licensed driver in your household will affect the decision of the insurance company to insure your vehicle(s). It can cause you to be turned down for insurance coverage or to pay high risk insurance premiums. You may want to ask your agent or insurer about a driver exclusion endorsement.
  4. Can a finance company take out insurance on my car and charge me for it?
    Yes, if under the terms of your loan, you agree to provide comprehensive and collision insurance and you fail to do so. The lending institution can obtain a policy to protect its interest. These policies typically do not offer liability insurance coverage to meet the state’s financial responsibility (mandatory liability) laws.
  5. Is it legal for an auto insurer to place me in a high risk policy if I have not been insured in the last 30 days?
    Yes. Current Missouri law does not prevent an insurer from doing so. This situation can be avoided by paying your premiums on time to avoid lapses in coverage.
  6. Can the insurance company tell me where to have the repair work done under either homeowners or auto?
    Yes, if the insurance company is willing to guarantee the work. You always have the option to go to the repair shop of your choice, but you will be responsible for the additional costs. Your insurance company may only be obligated to pay for the lowest estimate.
  7. What are the minimal insurance protection limits required in Missouri?
    The minimum amount of insurance you can purchase to remain in compliance with Missouri laws is a liability policy which provides $25,000 of protection per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per occurrence, and $10,000 for property damage. With today’s automobile and health care costs, most drives feel such low limits expose them to more risk than necessary. For more protection, they typical choose a policy that provides $100,000 per person for bodily injury , $300,000 per occurrence, and $100,000 of protection for property damage.

To learn more about the additional services offered by NEC Insurance such as commercial insurance or financial planning, please contact your insurance agent, or feel free to contact Joe Bosse, President at 636.271.2481.

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NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business insurance, personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services.  Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.

What Can an Umbrella Insurance Policy Protect that Your Current Insurance Can’t?

Car key and overturned model vehicle with glass of wine

Though most people have business insurance to protect their professional assets, and auto/home/life insurance to protect their personal assets, why is purchasing an umbrella insurance policy still a good idea?

An Umbrella Insurance Policy Offers Protection Beyond the Usual

An umbrella insurance policy offers additional protection typically in the amount of $1 – $2,000,000. Though it’s easy to assume only the wealthy need that much additional coverage, there are several scenarios that prove that it’s a good asset protection plan for everyone.

85 percent of umbrella insurance claims are related to car accidents. This is an indicator that very often even a well insured motorist may not have enough typical auto insurance to cover claims in our litigious society.  Then there are situations where you may be involved in an accident while driving in a foreign country, or driving a ski boat or jet ski, etc.  Your umbrella insurance policy protects beyond the usual.

Will your home owners insurance be enough to protect you if you have a swimming pool or trampoline on your property, or if guests at a party at your home get injured in some way?  Again, these are unusual circumstances that may require additional asset protection.

Another important feature of an umbrella insurance policy is the protection they offer against lawsuits for such things as defamation of character or slander. With the freedom of speech social media sites such as Facebook offer today, you may be more vulnerable than you imagined. Because all umbrella coverage is not the same, a NEC insurance professional can design specific umbrella coverage to protect your unique exposures.

You Have More at Risk Than You May Think

If you currently think, “they can sue me, but they won’t get much”, think again. At any time you can be sued for more than you have in the bank. Your retirement funds, investments, savings, and even your future earnings may be at risk if they are included in a settlement.

The cost of the additional protection offered by an umbrella insurance policy is minimal when comparing the benefits. The typical cost for $1 million of protection runs approximately $200 per year. That’s a little over $16 per month. You can purchase more if you feel you need it, but it’s recommended that you consider your total financial picture when making decisions about how you want your assets protected in the event something unusual puts you at risk.

For more information about an umbrella insurance policy for you or your business, contact Joe Bosse, President, at 636.271.2481, or jbosse@NECins.com.

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NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business insurance, personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services.  Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.

5 Simple Steps to Save Money on Business Insurance

money in the handsBusiness insurance is a necessity for all business owners. Though the expense can’t be tied directly to revenue, it has to be budgeted as one of the costs of doing business. To help make these costs more manageable, follow these five simple steps:

Buy a Package Policy
It may be less expensive if you purchase a package policy, such as a Business Owners Policy (BOP), rather than individual coverage spread around to different service providers. A package policy provides standard coverage and limits of liability that are appropriate for typical small-to-medium-sized businesses.

Develop a Relationship with your Agent or Broker
Your insurance professional has a wealth of  information that can help you protect your business from unexpected disasters. But you need to keep him or her informed about any major changes in your business. This includes major purchases, expansions, changes in hiring, or the nature of your operation. Also, get your agent’s advice in terms of disaster planning. Ask what you can do to reduce risks like fire or work-related accidents, as well as the best procedures to have in place in the event of a major catastrophe.

Your business is one of the most valuable assets you are protecting, so work with someone you trust and feel comfortable opening up your business to so they can have all the information they need to make the best recommendations possible.

Ask About Ways to Prevent Losses
Implement your insurer’s risk prevention recommendations. These may include making changes to operational functions such as workplace safety, disaster preparation, or human resource intervention, but these changes have been recommended to decrease costs.

Choose a Higher Deductible
Deductibles represent the amount of money you pay before your insurance policy kicks in. The higher the deductible, the less you will pay for the policy. Evaluate your cash flow situation before determining what a comfortable deductible amount would be

Let Your Broker Do the Work
Prices vary from company to company, so let your broker do the work. They will be able to compile a list of companies who specialize in your type of business. They will present you with different options so you can compare prices and get a feel for the types of services each company will provide. Working with a strong broker like NEC will ensure the company you choose is financially stable so you’ll know your protection is secure.

Give yourself time to do the research you need. Having the right coverage and a well thought out disaster plan can save you money in the long run and keep you operational during any type of claim process.

To work with an insurance agency that has the experience you need to provide you with the best coverage at the best rate, contact Joe Bosse, President, at 636.271.2481, or jbosse@NECins.com.

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NEC is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Missouri offering business and personal insurance, risk prevention, and financial services.  Contact us today for more information at 636.271.2481 or visit NECins.com.