Is Your Home-Based Business as Well Protected as Your Home?

Series with with a delivery man dropping off flowers, boxes, balloons, etc. to a residential suburban home.

One in eight homes run some type of home-based business, but only 40% carry any type of in-home business insurance. Possibly it’s because entrepreneurs are under the impression that their homeowner’s policy will cover their business – unfortunately, this isn’t always correct.

If you sell goods or services to other people from a home base, regardless of the amount of revenue you generate; you are exposed to financial risks and have liabilities. If you sell cookies and someone gets sick, if you are a wedding photographer and forget to turn on the flash, if the UPS person slips on your sidewalk, if you warehouse inventory or secure data; these are just some of the types of situations which can place your financial future at risk.

What to check before you add coverage:

  • Read your current homeowners/renters insurance policy to determine what is and isn’t covered.
  • Determine if your current policy restricts coverage in this area or considers a home-based business a violation of the policy terms.

As an entrepreneur, how can you protect your home-based business? Contact your NEC professional insurance agent to help you determine which type of coverage is best for you and your business.

  • Rider to a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy: This expands your homeowner’s or renter’s policy and is typically the least expensive type of insurance, but also offers less protection.
  • In-home business policy: Typically covers a broader spectrum of contingencies and may cover up to three employees and $10,000 in losses. Typically also covers business equipment and liability for injury.
  • Business owner’s policy: If you need more than $10,000 of coverage this is the type of policy brick-and-mortar businesses use. Circumstances usually covered by this type of plan include damage or loss of equipment and assets, injuries, loss of data, professional liability claims, loss of income, as well as possible protection when driving your personal vehicle for business purposes.

As your business grows, you may need additional coverage not included in a business owner’s policy such as life insurance, workers’ comp, and business-vehicle insurance. But for most small businesses, the business owner’s policy can provide a safe place to start.

For more information on home-based business insurance, contact Joe Bosse at 636.271.2481 or visit www.NECINS.com.


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.

How Much is Insurance Fraud Costing You?

InsuranceFraudNon-health insurance fraud is a $40 million problem which effects consumers on a daily basis.Figures from the National Insurance Crime Bureau estimate that Americans pay an average of $300 more in insurance premiums to offset the financial losses insurance companies experience due to fraudulent claims.  

The financial impact of insurance fraud also expands beyond your individual premiums. Consumer goods cost more because businesses pass on the higher costs of their health and commercial insurance to you, and  business owners lose millions in income because fraud increases their costs of employee health coverage and business insurance. Every instance of insurance fraud has a trickle-down effect on you, your family, and your business.

It’s easy to identify fraud when you see well-organized schemes such as a homeowner burning down his/her home for the insurance payout or staged car crash rings which submit hundreds of claims for fake injuries. But soft fraud, which is people who are typically honest telling ‘little white lies’ has an impact as well.

Insurance fraud isn’t a victimless crime. Lives, businesses, families, and careers can be hurt, damaged, or even ruined. And yes, there are instances in which insurance fraud results in violence. So as you can see, insurance fraud hurts the consumer much more than it hurts insurance companies. Insurance companies will simply increase their premiums to offset their losses, and consumers will be forced to pay the higher rates.

If you see insurance fraud in your area and don’t know what to do, contact your NEC insurance professional or Joe Bosse, President at 636.271.2481 for more information.


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.

 

File an Insurance Claim Using These 6 Tips

fire-texture_XJ_mrZAny time you file an insurance claim whether it’s business or personal, it’s an emotional time. Hopefully this is the first time your family or business has had this experience, and you may feel overwhelmed. Because of the fear factor and frustration you may be tempted to settle with your insurance company prior to fully understanding what you’re entitled to. Here are some tips to help you manage your emotions and the process in order to receive all the benefits you are owed within your policy limits.

  1. Start an Inventory
    Before you need one, start an inventory of the contents of your home and business. Take photographs, scan receipts, etc. and keep this information somewhere off the premises. This is the best way to remember what you had in the event of a total loss. HomeInventoryChecklist
  2. Report Your Claim Promptly and Read Your Policy
    Obtain and read a complete and current copy of your policy as soon as possible. Focus on your Declarations Page. This states your name, address, policy number, amounts of coverages and endorsement codes. You want to know exactly what you’re covered for before you start the process. Pay close attention to any ‘limits’ listed throughout the document as they may affect your fair recovery for artwork, computers, etc.
  3. Keep Your Documents Together
    Start a folder or binder for all your important information. This will help you create a claim hub so you’ll have everything you’ll need at your fingertips. Your emotions are already running high, so having a hub will make your life easier. Also, keep detailed notes of all conversations with the insurance company including who you are speaking with and their contact information.
  4. Understand Depreciation, Actual Cash Value, Replacement Cost and Real Cost
    These terms will make a difference on how your damaged or destroyed contents are replaced and will impact your overall benefits. The adjuster/insurer depreciates certain items to account for their age. These amounts are often subjective and very negotiable. There is no legally binding schedule or set standard on how much insurers can depreciate the value of your property. Don’t hesitate to challenge your adjuster if you feel they don’t understand the full value of what you’ve lost. Utilize the knowledge of your NEC insurance professional to get the insider help you need.
  5. Recorded or Sworn Statements
    Of course you want to cooperate with your insurance company, but don’t feel pressured to provide a recorded or sworn statement before you completely understand your rights. If your insurance company plans on having an attorney present during the call, hire one yourself that has hands-on experience representing insureds in claim disputes to provide you with the protection you need.
  6. Don’t Rush to a Quick Settlement
    You are working in unchartered territory here, so don’t feel pressured to settle before you’re ready. Keep learning the terminology as you go along and don’t be dazzled by the money the insurance company initially offers. It may sound like a fair settlement until you take the time to calculate your actual losses. Don’t sign a check that include words like “full” or “final settlement” until you are sure you’ve received all the benefits of your policy.

Once you settle your claim, it’s settled – so don’t let your emotions guide you. Understand that your insurance company is a business and their first concern is the bottom line. Taking the time to organize your business and personal life prior to an unexpected event can decrease your overall financial risk.

For more information on how to best utilize your insurance benefits, contact your NEC insurance professional or Joe Bosse, President at 636.271.2481.


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.

 

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.