Month: January 2020

Risky Home Renovation Trends

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How Home Renovation Trends Could Affect Your Insurance

Home renovation television shows and publications have made it so that homeowners everywhere feel prepared and eager to upgrade their own homes. Any construction activity warrants serious consideration and analysis by experts. However, there are several emerging trends in the home renovation space that have developed commonly risky characteristics.

When you engage in home renovations, you need to keep safety in mind not just during the construction phase but also in considering what the safety implications are for your newly renovated home. So, while putting your desired changes on your Pinterest board, keep the following considerations in mind:

Fire Safety with Construction and Decorating Materials

One of the hot trends in home renovations is steering into the rustic look, which often comes via natural materials. Whether it’s furniture made from reclaimed wood, storage made out of whicker, or small pieces that utilize any combination of bark, hay, grass, or other natural materials – these pieces are likely dry and potentially flammable. So, as you fill your living room with such materials, keep in mind questions like:

  • Can this piece be finished with a varnish or coating to reducing the fire risk?
  • Is this too close to the fireplace?
  • Is there a risk of spark from any nearby electronics that could turn this into kindle?

Keep electronics safety at the top of your mind

As with fashion, interior decorating trends come back around. A common trend these days is people embracing old-style lighting or retro appliances. Ignoring that these devices are likely less effective and will consume more energy compared with modern versions, many homeowners enjoy the charm of bringing these old devices back to life. That’s all well and good, but with anything that has electrical parts to it, be sure to have it checked out by a certified electrician before plugging it into your outlets and using them habitually. Old devices may have weak or exposed wires, be prone to short-circuiting, or other dangers that could shock a family member, pet, or even start a fire.

Risks associated with trying to save money via an unlicensed contractor

Home renovations are expensive, and there’s no way around that. But if you’re going to try to find an area to save on the budget, do not forgo hiring a licensed, professional contractor. It’s recommended that you hire a professional because they will have appropriate workers’ compensation and commercial general liability insurance. You have to consider who is liable if a worker were to get injured or hurt in your home. Hiring an unlicensed contractor increases the potential that the worker’s equipment is not properly secured, up-to-date, or safe. What if the workmanship is faulty? You want to ensure that you’re bringing someone into your home who’s protected and certified.

If you’re unsure of the dos and don’ts when it comes to protecting your home – contact the experts at Schechner Lifson today!

Life Events that Affect Your Insurance Needs

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Life Events that Affect Your Insurance Needs

 

As we age and reach different milestones in our lives, our insurance needs change. In order to
ensure adequate coverage, contact your insurance broker if you’re affected by any of the following
life events:

New home ownership— Purchasing a new home is a big investment—one that you will want to
protect. After purchasing a home, ensure that you have homeowners insurance to protect against
things like fire, weather damage, theft, vandalism and accidental damage. This advice also holds
true if you are buying a new condo or vacation home.

Home renovations—Once you own a home, you may want to make updates to create a better living
space. Be sure to report major home improvements to your insurance company to protect any increased
value to your home.

New children—Having or adopting children is not only a huge life change, but it’s also a
major financial commitment. As such, it’s important to purchase the right policy to secure your
child’s future. Add your child as a beneficiary on any life insurance policies, and make sure your
coverage is sufficient.

Teenage drivers— Teen drivers often carry the highest risk of auto accidents. While you want
your teen driver to remain safe on the road, costly accidents can happen without warning. Consider
adding your teen driver to your auto policy, as it is generally cheaper than purchasing a separate
policy.

Retirement—When you retire, you may change residences. If you have more than one home, this
is a good time to let your insurance provider know where you plan to spend your time.

Valuable purchases—A standard homeowners policy has limited coverage for highly valuable
items. Supplement purchases and gifts that exceed the policy’s limits with a floater—a separate
policy that provides additional insurance.

Marriage—When your marital status changes, so do your insurance needs. Marriage typically
leads to the combination of households, vehicles and other property, so it is critical to update
your insurance policies accordingly. What’s more, life insurance is vital to married couples as it
can ease the financial burden in the event of an untimely death of a partner. Ask about discounts
on car insurance for married policyholders.

Purchasing or selling a business—If you’re an entrepreneur, there will likely come a time
when you will either buy or sell your business. During these times of major change, the proper
coverage is crucial.

Insurance is critical for nearly every stage of life. Seeking coverage should be an active process,
and individuals shouldn’t assume their insurance needs remain steady over time. Consider contacting
your broker today to better understand your insurance and
future needs.

HSA Employee Benefits Solutions For Business Owners

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What You Need To Know About HSAs As A Business Owner

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are an increasingly common way for employers to offer healthcare to their employees that come with a unique set of benefits. However, HSAs might not be the optimal choice for every situation and every employee, so business owners must have a full understanding of what HSAs are and when they should be used.

Protecting the health of your employees will help you retain the best talent, to make sure a lack of coverage does not lead to extended absences and is, overall, the right thing to do. So, let’s dive into what exactly you need to know about HSAs.

What are HSAs, and who should use them?

In short, a Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged health care account that can be offered in conjunction with specific health plan offerings. To save for medical costs, employees who participate in an HSA are given the option to set aside a portion of their paycheck on a pre-tax basis.

An employee can choose how much of their paycheck goes towards healthcare expenses if they have a dependent with high medical costs, the potential for surgery in the future, or they want to be sure that an unexpected medical bill does not throw off their budget.

On a long-term basis, HSAs also help plan for retirement. By contributing into an HSA, employees are able to plan ahead and save in a tax-advantaged way for any medical care expenses that may come after retirement age.

How do HSAs benefit the business owners?

HSAs aren’t just great for the employees, but they are also advantageous for the businesses offering them. For one, a good deal of tax savings is available via federal income tax deduction and reduced payroll taxes. Additionally, because most businesses pay for at least part of their employees’ healthcare plans, the fact that HSAs have less expensive premiums mean the employer saves there as well.

That said, many business owners fail to realize that HSAs aren’t there to replace offerings of a healthcare plan to employees, but rather supplement high-deductible health plans. Employers need to look at their employees, the type of current offerings they have, and the wants and needs of their customers before deciding if HSA offerings make the most sense for them.

To find out more information and determine if offering HSAs to your employees is right for your business, get in touch with Schechner Lifson today to discuss your options.

How To Relay Your Employee Benefits Policy

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Ways to Introduce Employee Benefits To Your Team

When looking at potential jobs or deciding whether it’s worth it to stay at a current position, employees will prioritize their employee benefits more than most other aspects, potentially even salary! Employee benefits, when done well, help workers ensure the health of their family, plan for the future via retirement, and also give families a means of protection should they get hurt or disabled.

Because these are some of the most delicate and important considerations in any employee’s life, effectively and efficiently communicating the details and any chances about these employee benefits need to be a top priority for employers. Employees don’t want to be caught off guard because they were unaware of any changes, and you want them to be readily available.

Here are a handful of tips and best practices to keep in mind when it comes to relaying your employee benefits policy:

Document all employee benefit policies in written form for all to see

An employee benefits plan won’t help your employees if they’re unaware of what they are and if it’s unclear how it works. Make sure all company policies regarding employee benefits are written out and made available.

Keep Employee Benefit Documents in a central location

Often, employees will be handed a hard copy or emailed a version of these documents when they first join the company, but keeping track of those pieces of information can be a lot to ask over the years. Make sure to have a central digital repository for relevant employee benefits documents, so no matter where an employee is or when they need the information, they know right away where they can go to find the latest version of those documents.

Designate a central person or department to answer questions

Even with a central location, employees are going to have questions and concerns naturally. There must be a designated person or department where they can go. Whether that’s a single human resources (HR) manager, a whole HR team, or just the boss in a small business, making sure the employees know someone is always available for urgent questions and needs that come up will go a long way towards making your employee benefits policy effective.

When updates occur, make sure to communicate, allow for questions, and solicit feedback

Changes to an employee benefits policy could have a huge impact on employees as they’ve already made plans with an existing policy. Any changes that you bring to employee benefits must be communicated early, effectively, and often so that no employees are caught off guard. Be sure to communicate this in different formats to ensure the message reaches every employee: send an email, hold a conference call, check-in personally, etc. Employees will have questions and concerns about these changes, so you need to be ready for them.

Keep regular touchpoints

Make sure employees know that there will be regular communications about the employee benefits as they come up. It might be that every year, you hold a meeting to discuss the employee benefits, even if nothing significant changed that year—because even the lack of change is a piece of information your employees will want to have.

 

Employee benefits are critical to the daily lives of your employees. If you have any questions regarding employee benefits for your organization, contact Schechner Lifson today!

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