Health Care Reform Update
The federal health care reform legislation, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed by the President on March 23, 2010, and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act approved by Congress and signed by the President on March 30, 2010, will expand the availability of health care coverage to millions of Americans. While some of the measures will be implemented this year, many do not take effect until 2014 and some extend out to 2020. Information is available at www.healthreform.gov.
We have identified and posted two resources on our website to help you to understand the changes and timelines. The first resource was produced by HealthAmerica (A Coventry Health Care Plan) and it is titled Health Reform and the Individual Insurance Market. The second resource was produced by United Healthcare and is titled Navigating Health Care Reform - An Employer Guide.
If you are dealing with health insurance as an individual or in a group, one of these resources should be of interest to you. Give us a call if you want to discuss the particulars of Health Care Reform.
Inexperience and immaturity make it much more likely that a teenage driver will have an accident than an adult driver. A driver in the age group of 16-19 is FOUR times more likely to have an accident than an older adult and TWICE as likely to die in an auto accident (in some states, a 16-year-old is TWENTY times more likely to have an accident than an older adult). A 16-year-old is THREE times more likely to have an accident than someone 18-19 years old. OVER ONE-THIRD of all deaths in the 16-19 year old range are due to auto accidents.
From an insurance standpoint, it is more expensive if your child has a vehicle driven primarily by them. Consider not getting your child his/her own auto then let him/her drive a family car. If you insist on providing him/her with an auto, consider buying an inexpensive, but reliable used car. Anticipate at least one or more fender benders. In general, you are better off not buying collision insurance and reporting these minor claims...an increased claims frequency can result in higher premiums or nonrenewal.
Unless it is impossible, do not insure your child's auto under a separate policy. It is almost always advantageous, from a pricing and coverage standpoint, to have your child's auto on your policy. In addition, since statistics show conclusively that teenagers have a higher claims frequency and severity, make sure you have a personal umbrella policy with at least a $1 million limit. The cost can be as low as $150, but could be as high as $300 or more. Still, it's a bargain to protect yourself and your assets from catastrophic loss.
Have your child complete a driver's education program. That can reduce your premium by 10% or more.
If applicable, ask for a "good student" discount. If your child's grade point average is a "B" or better, you could get a discount of 10-20% or more.
MOST IMPORTANT, practice sound loss control. When dealing with teenage drivers, preventing accidents is more important than relying on insurance to fix things. Insurance can replace your vehicles and pay for broken bones, but it can't replace the most important thing in life...your child. So, consider the following:
Talk seriously to your child about the dangers of driving, including driving under the influence, horseplay, etc. Use statistics from web sites such as www.iii.org to impress upon them how dangerous driving can be.
Consider prohibiting your teen from transporting more than one passenger...some state graduated licensing laws may require this too. Reckless behavior is directly proportional to the number of teens in a vehicle. By limiting the number of passengers, you reduce the chance that peer pressure and dares might result in your child taking foolhardy chances.
Consider having your child sign a "contract" similar to the one at http://www.parentingteendrivers.com - if anything, it will get his/her attention.
Driving is a privilege, not a right. If your child violates your rules or the rules of the road, take that privilege away from them until they can demonstrate that they understand the seriousness of this responsibility and the possible consequences of their actions.
Copyright © 2010 by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc. All rights reserved.
Why Does Health Insurance Cost So Much?
Independence Blue Cross recently published a report entitled Why does health insurance cost so much? The report is interesting reading and can be accessed online.
The Emotional and Financial Effects of Disability
In 2010, MetLife conducted research to study the emotional and financial effects of disability, and explore the connection with disability coverage. The results, outlined in a white paper entitled Everything Changed in the Blink of an Eye. Putting a Face on the Emotional and Financial Impact of Disability, not only provide surprising new insights into the consequences of employee disability experiences, but also identify several key steps that employers might take to help their workforce be better protected against the harmful impacts of disability. In addition, the study highlights the business benefits for doing so - potentially improved employee retention and productivity. The study is recommended reading for employers and for anyone who has a voice in benefit decisions for companies. A copy is available at the MetLife.com website.
Now Representing Dairyland Cycle
TR Insurance Group is proud to represent Dairyland Cycle for motorcycle insurance coverage. Dairyland is a recognized leader in the motorcycle insurance industry because of competitive rates, money-saving discounts and outstanding customer service. They offer lower rates for multiple cycles, home ownership, safety courses and rider/owner group membership. Dairyland does not always offer the lowest rate for every cycle and situation. That is why we also offer motorcycle coverage with Progressive and Foremost. We have access to antique and classic motorcycle programs also. Give us a call and we will provide you with prompt and competitive quotes!
Randy Riegner attended a 3 day "Ruble" seminar as part of his annual recertification of his CIC designation. The seminar was held May 12-14th.
Randy Riegner is going to jail on July 14, 2010. He is participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Lock-Up. Please help him raise $3,000 in bail to get out of jail. Contributions can be made online.
Debbie Rotenberger will be participating in her first CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) seminar in July. The CIC requires attendance at 5 separate seminars and successfully passing a written exam for each.
Condos: Easy Living, Tough Insurance
Do you own a condominium? To you, condo ownership may represent a feasible way to home ownership. Or maybe it represents a second residence in some exotic location you like to visit. Or maybe it's an investment to generate rental income. Regardless of why you own, understand that insuring a condo is much different from insuring a traditional home.
Statutes and Paperwork
A thorough review of your master deed (often called declarations or "docs") is necessary to adequately insure your condo. Unfortunately, these docs can be multiple pages of legalese that make it difficult to decipher insurance requirements. Further, your association's bylaws may contain important insurance information. And if it wasn't confusing enough already, some states have statutes which dictate condo insurance requirements. For these reasons, a best practice is to review your insurance needs with a trusted insurance advisor, like your Trusted Choice® independent agent.
Definition of Unit
Your docs should contain a definition of "unit." This term is often used to define the boundaries of the property that you individually own vs. common property that is owned by the association or other entity. For example, boundaries may include the space you occupy as well as all real property located between the unfinished walls, floor and ceiling. Note that there is no standard definition of unit: All docs are different.
"Bare Walls In?" or "What I Bring In?"
Some docs will make the association's insurance policy (often called "master" policy) responsible for all building items and fixtures including those located inside your unit. Such items may include floor coverings, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, built-in cabinets and counters, appliances and equipment. In this case, you are only responsible for insuring your personal property such as furniture, electronics, and clothing. You may also be responsible for insuring alterations you make to the existing floor plan, such as laying carpet over tile. Other docs will make the master policy responsible only for real property that is located outside of the unit. In this case, you are responsible for insuring the items mentioned above including building items and fixtures located inside your unit. Some docs will specifically list the items that you must insure yourself, but others are not as clear. This is another important reason to review the docs with your Trusted Choice® independent agent.
If you plan to use your condo to make a few extra bucks, proceed with caution: Once you rent or make your condo available for rental, your insurance changes. For example, once your condo is made available for rent you lose coverage for your personal property. This means items like furniture, electronics and decorations are no longer insured. Since condos often are rented furnished, this is a large gap that must be addressed before the damage happens. Coverage is also eliminated for appurtenant structures - such as a detached garage or dock - if damaged once the condo is rented or made available for rent. This practice also eliminates the personal liability coverage under your condo insurance policy. This means if someone renting your condo injures someone else or their property and you are brought into the lawsuit your condo policy will not pay to defend you. All hope is not lost. Most condo policies can be easily amended to close these significant coverage gaps. Your Trusted Choice® independent agent can also help you evaluate how much your policy will pay you for lost rental income if your condo is damaged.
There are many reasons why your association may render an assessment against you. There are circumstances where your condo insurance policy will help pay the cost of the assessment. One circumstance is if you are assessed to pay costs for which the association is liable due to a loss that would be covered by your condo policy. For example, say you are assessed for dollars to repair damage to common property (i.e. a pool house). The reason you were assessed is because the damage exceeded the amount of insurance available in the master policy. If the damage was caused by windstorm, the assessment coverage under your condo policy would kick in because windstorm is covered by your policy. However, if the cause of the damage was flood your policy would not pay because flood is not covered by your policy. Your assessment coverage will also kick in to help cover the cost of the master policy's deductible. It may also pay for liability assessments resulting from claims of bodily injury or property damage as well as liability for your decisions as an uncompensated association director or officer. The dollar amounts of such assessments are unpredictable and depend on factors that are out of your control. This is why you should work with your trusted advisor to raise the amount of coverage your policy will pay for an assessment.
Independence Blue Cross (IBC) introduces new Health Plans for Individuals & Families
Effective July, 1, 2010 a new portfolio of individual health insurance plans will be available to residents of the 5 county Philadelphia area. The portfolio includes three Keystone (HMO) and one Personal Choice (PPO) Copay plan (most comprehensive plan designs). Three Keystone (HMO) and two Personal Choice (PPO) Deductible plans are also included. And finally the portfolio includes two Personal Choice (PPO) HSA compatible high deductible plan designs.
The rates for these plans vary by age and gender with the lowest rates at 18 and the highest rates at age 60 (5 year age bands). These plans are also medically underwritten, which means that your premium can be adjusted upward to cover known medical conditions and risk factors such as build or tobacco use. Coverage for some applicants may be declined. Previously the only medically underwritten plans that were available were Keystone (HMO) Copay and Deductible plans. There were no medically underwritten HSA plan designs available and no medically underwritten Personal Choice (PPO) plan options.
One advantage of medically underwritten plans is that they make coverage very affordable for those that are young and healthy. Older folks with significant medical history will not benefit from these offerings. Information and enrollment material on these plans is available at our website under Health Insurance. These plans are available in addition to individual medical plans from Aetna, United Healthcare (Golden Rule), HealthAmerica and Assurant Health. We also offer temporary, student and travel medical plans. The new plans serve to expand the options for individuals and families in the Philadelphia region.
Emcompass Insurance is Newest Market for Personal Lines
TR Insurance Group is pleased to announce our recent appointment to offer personal lines coverage through Encompass Insurance. Encompass is well known for their competitive Universal Security Policy (USP). The USP policy can combine auto, homeowners and umbrella coverage on one policy. Motorcycles, recreational vehicles and rental properties can also be included. Encompass also offers auto insurance on a stand-alone basis, boat insurance and HomeWork coverage for home based businesses. TR Insurance Group is fortunate to have Encompass as an additional option for Personal Lines. Our other fine programs are offered by Mutual Benefit, Travelers, The Hartford, Main Street America Group, Foremost, Progressive and Infinity. Give us the opportunity to provide you with a competitive quote - you may be surprised by the savings!
PV Chamber/Reading Phillies Sponsor August 4th
Once again, TR Insurance Group is a sponsor for the Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce Night at the Reading Phillies. This year we have a double sponsorship so 800 tickets will be available. The tickets are general admission tickets only, which means that they guarantee your entry to the ball park but do not guarantee seats. Seating is based upon first come, first serve availability in the designated general admission sections. The August 4th game with the Trenton Thunder starts at 7:05 PM and gates open at 6PM. The food court opens at 5PM. Entrance to the food court is available from 5PM to 6PM. The best way to enjoy your evening at the game without waiting in line is to enter the food court after 5PM and before 6PM. When the gates open at 6PM you will already be in the park and will have quicker access to general admission seats. If you arrive at 6PM or later you will have to wait in line and seating selections will be more limited. You can pick up tickets at our office or call us and we will mail your tickets to you.