What To Do When Your Insurance Won’t Pay
Should an accident total your car, you can be left with a lot on your plate. Not only have you lost your means of transportation and may be suffering from an injury, you also have to work with an insurance company to sort out the damage.
Recouping the cost of a totaled car can be a challenge, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. If an insurance company says your car is a total loss, they’re only required pay you fair market value for the car. A car is categorized as a total loss if the cost of repairing the car exceeds a certain threshold of its worth. Usually, if the cost of repair is more than 80% of the car’s value, the car is “totaled”.
In some cases, getting fair market value for a totaled car leaves you coming up short. Your insurance company might say your vehicle is only worth $10,000, even though you still owe your lender $12,000 for it. The insurance company may give you $10,000, but you still have to pay $2,000 for a car you’re no longer able to drive or even repair yourself. And to that last point, note that if you accept an insurance company’s payout for a totaled car (that $10,000), they have the right to take the car itself and sell for salvage. Usually, they do.
If all of this leaves you feeling low and lost, know that there are a few ways you can try to make the best out of a bad situation.
Understand the laws in your state. Every state has different laws about who is obligated to cover the cost of an accident. There are some states that require that a driver be “0%” at fault in order for the other party to provide a full payout. In other states, “fault” is assigned based on the extent to which each party contributed to the accident, and insurance companies pay respective to that percentage. Understanding the laws in your state can help level set who will be on the hook for owed money from the outset.
If you think the insurance company valued your car incorrectly, find ways to prove it. Your vehicle might be worth more than the insurance company says it is. You can seek out a qualified appraiser to evaluate your car, or you may wish to file a lawsuit (although, this should be a last resort). Perhaps the easiest course of action is to start with your own research and show how similar vehicle models are going for more money on the market. You can also double check that the cars your insurance company used to estimate the value of your car are truly comparable. Did the vehicles used for comparison have the same number of miles as your car? Did your car have other accessories that would increase its value?
Check to see if you have gap insurance. Does your auto policy include gap insurance? This can help cover the difference between the payout you received from your insurance company and what you still owe your lender. Gap insurance is something to check for when purchasing a new policy, too. Note: if you are less than halfway through the term of your loan, gap insurance is probably a good idea.
Look for other ways to get money back. If your insurance company gives you a loaner rental car after the accident, know that you’re not obligated to take it. Instead, you may be able to opt out and get money for it, which you can put toward your expense. This won’t be true for every insurance company, but if a rental car is on the offering table and you’re able to go without it, ask about your company’s policy.
Find more information about all things auto insurance by exploring the Schechner Lifson Corporation blog!
All You Need to Know Before Buying Auto Insurance for New Drivers
Are you a new driver looking for some tips on buying auto insurance? There are some important considerations to keep in mind before choosing an auto insurance policy and any supplemental coverage. The process of shopping for new driver auto insurance isn’t quite the same as buying for auto insurance as a seasoned driver or renewing an existing auto insurance policy. Without reviewing all your options, you could miss out on some important coverage.
Shopping the Lowest Prices
Going the cheap route when buying auto insurance for new drivers sounds like a good idea, but it’s not always the wisest choice. The most affordable premium prices usually offer only the minimum amount of coverage and an inadequate amount of support from the insurance supplier. As a new driver, purchasing insurance and filing a claim is very new to you. When it comes time to file a claim, policyholders want trusted, reliable, and personalized service to guide them through the claims process. When you put a bit more money into your auto insurance coverage, you’ll reap greater benefits than you would with rock-bottom prices.
Thinking the Minimum is Enough
Car insurance is mandatory in New Jersey, but that does not necessarily mean that the minimum required coverage is sufficient for a new driver. The most basic auto insurance plans cover $5,000 of property damage liability and $15,000 of personal injury protection. If you are involved in a devastating car accident, and financial expenses total more than your allotted coverage, the policyholder is financially responsible for the remainder of the claim. Accidents happen more often than we’d like to think, especially for new drivers. Make sure you’re considering more than the minimum.
Foregoing Optional Coverage
Auto insurance can benefit your driving experience far beyond car crashes. As a new driver, you may not be well versed in the additional types of insurance you can purchase. Comprehensive insurance helps to cover any car damages that are not related to a car accident, such as fire, theft, or falling objects. Gap insurance is another beneficial supplement to your auto insurance policy. While the state of New Jersey does not require this insurance, many auto leases often include it. As a new driver, you are probably purchasing or leasing your first car. If this car is then damaged beyond repair, gap insurance helps to cover the difference between what your vehicle is currently worth and what you still actually owe on it.
Learning to drive is an exciting time in life. But don’t get too caught up in the excitement that you forget to do your research on auto insurance for new drivers. With Schechner Lifson Corporation on your side, we’ll help you find the best possible policy for your new driver. Contact our team today to learn more.
How Supplemental Health Insurance Could Benefit You
If you have a primary health insurance plan from your employer, when and why would you consider another insurance plan to supplement it?
Many people opt for gap insurance—also known as supplemental health insurance—when the health insurance plan provided by their employer doesn’t quite provide the coverage or financial security desired for true peace of mind. Many employers do a great job of offering health insurance that covers common, routine medical needs. But should one of life’s “what ifs” come to pass, such as a critical injury or an accidental death, a standard health insurance plan can leave employees and their families on the wrong foot.
Types of supplemental health insurance policies include accidental death insurance, critical injury insurance, and hospital indemnity insurance. There’s also MediGap for those with Medicare insurance. You might be surprised to learn that even vision and dental insurance can be considered forms of supplemental insurance.
What are some of the main reasons to consider supplemental health insurance? Note that the risk factors of you and your dependents will be primary influences.
Reason #1: You or your dependents are not covered by primary insurance for critical injury or accidental death. Accidents and injuries could happen to anyone, at any time. What would you do if you were seriously injured in an auto accident and couldn’t work for an extended period of time? Supplemental insurance can help cover lost wages while you’re out of work.
Reason #2: You don’t have enough money on hand to cover out-of-pocket expenses. Supplemental insurance can help cover the cost of co-pays required under your primary insurance health plan. Consider unplanned events like visits to the emergency room, the cost of an ambulance, or an overnight hospital stay. Do you have enough money on hand or in a savings account to cover these costs when your insurance will not?
Reason #3: Based on genetic history, lifestyle, or other factors, there’s a heightened likelihood that you or your dependents could develop a serious illness. Even beyond family history of serious illness like cancer or heart disease, supplemental coverage can be a good idea for the medical, dental, or vision procedures you’re planning for a future date. For example, maybe you know your children will need orthodontic in the next few years, or that your husband plans to get LASIK eye surgery before retirement.
Reason #4: The cost of a supplemental insurance plan will benefit you in the long term. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you should work through how much supplemental insurance will cost you over the course of a year and determine if it’s an expense that will be worth it over time. While you can’t predict the extent to which you’ll need to use supplemental insurance, you can get a general sense of whether—based on your needs and risk factors—it’s a worthwhile investment.
Learn more about supplemental health insurance and the type of coverage that makes the most sense for you and your family! Feel free to get in touch with our insurance experts anytime. Schechner Lifson Corporation understands the needs of our clients and will always work in their favor.
Getting Healthier Is the First Step Toward a Better Life
You can save money on health insurance by being healthier. It’s true! There are a couple of different reasons why.
When you invest in your health by eating better foods, exercising regularly, keeping your weight down, and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, you decrease your likelihood of preventable illness and disease. You’ll build a stronger immune system that’s better able to fight off colds, flus, and other sicknesses, and can minimize your risk of chronic aches and pains. The less you’re sick, the less you need to see a doctor. And the fewer times you see a doctor, the fewer times you’ll dip into your insurance deductible and the fewer copays you’ll have to front out-of-pocket. That’s money saved!
But it’s more than that.
Many companies will actually lower how much an employee has to pay for health insurance if they demonstrate they’re in good health and maintain healthy habits. These are commonly referred to as incentive-based wellness programs. Your company could offer one!
Why do companies do this? Healthy employees cost employers less money. Every time you go to the doctor’s office and make that co-payment, your employer has paid even more to provide for the insurance that makes that co-payment manageable. The less employees need to use their insurance, the more employers can save.
Additionally, insurance companies can charge individuals with poor health habits higher premiums from the get-go (these costs, in turn, trickle down to the employer). For example, health insurance companies can charge smokers more money for the same insurance plan as non-smokers; sometimes up to 50% more.
To incentivize more people to develop healthy habits and stay in good health, employers can decrease the cost of insurance premiums for those who are healthy. Employers and their partner insurance companies will have different employee qualification requirements, but typically it involves submitting a recent physical from a physician that provides basic health information like bloodwork and weight.
In addition to submitting statements of wellness, companies may offer other qualifying events that let employees save money on health insurance. For example, an employee that smokes might be able to lower their premium if they take a smoking cessation class online. Or, an employer might give discounts to those who show they workout in a fitness class multiple times a week.
While these sort of programs are more commonly found in companies that have at least 200 employees, many companies are taking strides to make the office environment itself more conducive to healthy habits. Onsite gyms, replacing soda machines with bottled water, and standing desks are just a few of the ways companies promote health and wellness.
Even if your company doesn’t participate in an incentive program, you may still be able to get preferred rates through your insurance company by demonstrating health and wellness. It never hurts to reach out to them and ask!
Interested in learning more about health insurance and tips for saving money? Be sure to explore our blog. The experts at Schechner Lifson Corporation are always on your side.
One of the hot topics that we’re talking to all of our clients/prospective clients about is the NJ Paid Sick Leave Law that goes into effect next Monday, 10/29. Here is the link to the webinar we hosted on 10/9/18. Throughout the webinar, we layout the details of the law and what employers can do now to ensure they’re in compliance.
Keeping Your Yard Safe As The Holidays Approach
Trick or treating can be a fun experience for kids and homeowners alike. While neighborhood kids come by outfitted in their scariest, wackiest costumes, homeowners enjoy decorating their homes, passing out candy, and maybe even dressing up in a costume of their own.
Yet, for as much fun as trick or treating can be, it can also put homeowners at greater risk. Should a child get injured on the property, a homeowner is typically held responsible. Having homeowner’s insurance helps, but it may not cover all expense or liability.
That’s why this Halloween, we’re sharing our favorite tips for keeping your yard safe for trick or treaters.
Tip: Light it up! Halloween may call for keeping things dark and spooky, but know that a little lighting can go a long way. To make sure your yard is safe (without sacrificing too much scary) consider adding small solar lights alongside the pathway up to your front door. Solar lights are relatively inexpensive and can be useful year-round. You can also string colorful lights in your trees and shrubs to help keep your yard fully visible to trick or treaters. Remember: not all little ghouls and goblins choose to stay on designated walkways.
Tip: Keep yard decorations to a minimum. Decorations are no doubt adorable and add to the spirit of your haunted home, but know that excessive yard decorations can double as safety hazards for little ones. The last thing you want is a child running through the yard, tripping over a decoration, and leaving you with an injury to address. Think about other decorations you can hang from your porch or place in your windows. They can be just as decorative and a whole lot safer.
Tip: Think about steps. If you have a porch or an elevated landing, consider that trick or treaters will have to walk up steps to get to your door. For kids in costumes with hands full of candy, simple steps can become an unexpected hazard. To minimize the risk of a trip and fall, consider passing out candy from your bottom step or at the edge of your porch so that trick or treaters can stay on ground level.
Tip: Take a second look at what’s in your yard. Aside from Halloween decorations, what else could lead to an accidental injury? Have an unwound garden hose by the side of your flower bed? What about your dog’s toys? If you have a pool, be especially vigilant about keeping its gate closed. You may assume kids will stick to your front yard, but as a homeowner, it’s better to be attentive to potential safety hazards throughout your entire property.
Tip: Let pets stay inside. He may be wearing the cutest costume anyone’s ever seen, but unfortunately Halloween is not the time to socialize Fido and let him show it off. Nothing is worth the risk of a pet causing harm or injury to a child. Given the general chaos of Halloween (incessant doorbell ringing, strangers coming and going) pets with typically friendly demeanors can become stressed and agitated, putting little visitors at risk for being on the receiving end of uncharacteristic behavior. Instead of letting pets stay amid all the action, let them relax inside the home, away from the door.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve revisited your homeowner’s insurance policy, or you’re considering switching or upgrading policies, there’s no better time to take a look at your options. You never know when you’ll need to use your homeowner’s insurance, so make sure you’re prepared with a policy that fits.
How Voluntary Benefits Affect Employees
Should you consider voluntary benefits for your employees? Voluntary benefits are those that employees choose to pay for, in addition to their core health insurance coverage. Voluntary benefits typically include things like life insurance, disability insurance, accident insurance, or financial counseling. Some employers that offer voluntary benefits pay for a portion of the cost, while others pass on the cost to the employee in full, through payroll deferral.
These optional benefits are more valuable to employees than you might think. In fact, surveys have found that 88% of employees view voluntary benefits as part of comprehensive benefits packages; in other words, they expect them to be offered. And, 76% percent of millennials say that benefits customization is an effective way to increase their job loyalty. The big idea: today’s workers are aware of, and care about, voluntary benefits.
Offering voluntary benefits is a way to attract and retain good talent. Voluntary benefits are valued because they cover a wide range of important situations beyond primary health insurance. For example, many employees want to know that should something happen to them, their loved ones will receive a life insurance payout that adequately meets their needs. Or, that if they get injured in a car accident, they’ll still be able to collect an income to support their family. As an employer, you can choose to offer that financial stability without significant (or any) cost to your bottom line.
One of the most attractive perks of voluntary benefits is that they give employees flexibility. Let’s say you decide to offer eight different categories of voluntary benefits. As the name suggests, nobody is required to select and pay for any of your eight voluntary benefits. But, the employees that are interested can review options and choose the ones that make the most sense for them. They can even select the level of coverage they prefer within each. Setting a life insurance policy is a great example. An employee can choose to opt for a life insurance amount that makes sense for their current circumstance — for example, growing their family — while their coworker can opt for a completely different policy amount, or pass on a policy altogether.
As a result of this flexibility, voluntary benefits can help you and your employees save money in the long-run. Rather than offer fewer, more comprehensive packages that combine multiple benefits some employees just don’t need (and are more expensive), employees can save money and purchase benefits individually. You might have employees that only want the most basic disability plan, or you may employ young people that want to opt out of vision plans to allocate funds elsewhere. Everyone will have their prerogatives, whether wise or risky. As an employer, you empower your employees to follow those prerogatives and use their money as they see fit.
Voluntary benefits also help fill in gaps when employer healthcare benefits fluctuate. With rising healthcare costs and changes in legislation, some employers find they have to cut back on the policies they offer or increase costs. Voluntary benefits that offer supplemental coverage for different aspects of health and life can be an important way for employees to maintain coverage and a sense of financial security.
Ultimately, voluntary benefits are highly attractive to current and prospective employees who look for flexibility, cost savings, and financial security (and who wouldn’t?). They should be attractive to employers, too, because they can support employee retention rates, attract new talent, and keep teams happy and healthy. While you can determine the extent to which your company does or does not contribute to the cost of these voluntary benefits, simply offering them to your employees is an impactful place to start.
To learn more about voluntary benefits for your employees, reach out to our experts at Schechner Lifson Corporation!
Does Your Life Insurance Coverage Need Enhancing?
Many employers offer basic life insurance coverage to their employees. Often, the coverage provides a fixed amount to a beneficiary of your choosing should something happen to you. In many cases, you don’t even have to opt-in to the coverage because it’s a standard part of your employment, at no additional cost to you.
However, know that you can increase your level of coverage beyond what your employer automatically affords you. By putting your own money toward a policy, you can make adjustments, like increasing a $30,000 life insurance policy to a $60,000 policy. While increasing life insurance coverage isn’t something as widely discussed as increasing retirement contribution, both impact the financial well-being of you and your loved ones. That’s why it’s important to think critically about how much life insurance you need, and know when it’s time to increase your coverage.
5 Signs You Need to Up Your Life Insurance Coverage
Sign #1: You’re getting married.
Life insurance doesn’t seem like such an important thing when you’re single and taking care of yourself. Should the unspeakable happen, you don’t have any dependents left without financial support. However, when you bring another person into your life and make financial decisions based on a joint income, like buying a house that depends on both of your salaries, life insurance becomes a much more valuable investment. Should something happen to you, your partner now has a security blanket that can provide necessary financial support.
Sign #2: You’re having children.
If your family is growing, it’s time for more life insurance. The size of your life insurance policy should be correlated to the number of dependents you have in your care. Think about first cars, summer camps, the cost of college tuition– all of the things you probably plan on using your salary to cover for each child. In the absence of a salary, a life insurance policy can help lighten the burden of these expenses.
Sign #3: You might support your aging parents.
Could it be time for Mom or Dad to move in with you? Taking on the role of caregiver for a parent can be a significant expense. In this circumstance, your parent is essentially becoming your dependent. Should something happen to you, how would the cost of their living expenses be covered? Life insurance can help fill that gap and provide a parental dependent with greater financial stability.
Sign #4: You’ve started a business.
Before you and your partner launch your new organic hot sauce business, ask each other about life insurance. Increasing your life insurance coverage before opening a business can be a strategic move, because should life’s unimaginable happen to you, your partner can receive money needed to keep things afloat, or use that money to buy your half of the business from your benefactors. If you have investors (let’s say that hot sauce recipe is really out of this world) it can also ease their fears about how the business will go on without you and if their investment will be covered.
Sign #5: You’ve co-signed a student loan.
The thorn in so many of our sides – student loans unfortunately don’t always cease to exist when something happens to the original borrower. If you’ve cosigned a private student loan, you may be on the hook for the remaining balance of the loan if the primary borrower passes away. To anticipate that cost, increase your life insurance upon co-signing. This gives you extra money you can put toward the expense should you find yourself in such a circumstance.
Have more questions about life insurance policies and when to expand your coverage? We can help! Give us a call at 908-598-7800 or reach out to us online.