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Cyber Criminals Seeking to Capitalize on Coronavirus

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Cyber Criminals Seeking to Capitalize on Coronavirus

 

Criminals prey on unfortunate circumstances, seeking to capitalize on victims during times of panic and hardship. Unfortunately, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is no exception.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, told individuals to be vigilant about scams related to COVID-19.

Cyber criminals have been known to pose as charities or legitimate websites to lure victims into sending money or revealing personal information. Individuals should scrutinize any email, text or social media post related to COVID-19 and be cautious when clicking any links or attachments.

CISA offered specific guidelines for individuals to avoid being scammed online:

  • Avoid clicking links from unsolicited emails, and be wary of email attachments.
  • Use trusted sources when looking for factual information on COVID-19, such as gov.
  • Never give out personal or financial information via email, even if the sender seems legitimate.
  • Never respond to emails soliciting personal or financial information.
  • Verify a charity’s authenticity before making any donations.

It’s not always easy to disregard messages from senders that seem reputable, like banks. If individuals have any doubts about an email from a seemingly legitimate source, they should navigate to the organization’s website and use the contact information there to reach out. Individuals should never respond to the initial message.

 If individuals have any doubts about a message’s sender, links or attachments, they shouldn’t click anything in the message.

What Can Employers Do?

Employers should consider notifying employees about the existence of these COVID-19 cyber scams. Especially during times of crisis, scammers will pose as reputable sources and use fear to solicit personal information. Employers should also communicate best practices so employees know how to respond to such solicitations.

It may also benefit employers to back up data and bolster network protections in case an employee clicks the wrong link and compromises the entire system.

Speak with Schechner Lifson Corporation for more cyber security guidance.

Key Person Disability Insurance

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Protect Your Key Assets

 

Most organizations employ at least one individual who is essential to the company’s success. This person may be a partner, majority stockholder or an individual with expertise that is unmatched throughout the rest of the company. If this person’s exit from the company is planned, such as retirement or voluntary termination, then you can prepare for the loss and take the necessary precautions to minimize the impact. However, if the departure is unplanned due to a disabling accident or another unexpected occurrence, then the company is exposed to financial risks. Consider key person disability insurance to offset your risk. This insurance solution can protect your organization’s solvency in the event that you lose the key person or people without warning, and also the investments made by lenders and investors to the company.

Who Needs Key Person Disability Coverage?

Your company may take out key person coverage on you if you fall within the top 20 percent of the company in terms of salary. Of course, before your company takes out a policy, you must consent to the coverage. If you fall into any of the descriptions listed below, you may want to bring up key person disability coverage for consideration with your employer or—if you own the business—with your employees. Key person disability coverage is crucial for the following:

  • Employees who would be extremely difficult, time-consuming or expensive to replace
  • Highly skilled employees with unique training or skills
  • Employees with exclusive ties to key clients, like sports stars
  • Employees who are company leaders and have irreplaceable knowledge
  • Small business owners who would face financial hardship in losing a key staff member, employee or client

How Does It Work?

Here are the basics of key person insurance:

  • The employer pays the premiums and serves as the beneficiary in the event of the employee’s disability.
  • Tax-free dollars from the policy can be put towards finding, hiring and training a replacement employee, compensation for lost business during the transition and/or financing timely business transactions.
  • The policy is used to protect the business, not the key employee—in the event the key person becomes disabled, the policy proceeds can be used by the company for any purpose.
  • Premiums are based on several factors, including the key employee’s age, physical conditions and health history. The amount of coverage also affects the premium.

In addition to proper coverage, create a business continuation plan that outlines how your business will function if you lose key employees.

Why Do I need Life Insurance?

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Why Do I Need…
Life Insurance?

Life insurance isn’t a pleasant thing to think about, and it may seem like an unnecessary expense. But if you have dependents who rely on you for financial support, then life insurance is really about protecting them in case something happens to you. Your designated beneficiary would collect a financial benefit upon your death.

Youth minister Preston Newby and his wife, Tara, met during college and were soon married. After visiting their local insurance agent to purchase auto and renters insurance, they decided to look into life insurance policies. With a 19-month-old son and another child on the way, life insurance policies made a lot of sense in case anything ever happened to either of them. Unfortunately, this worst-case scenario became reality a couple of months later.

While driving to Canada to visit Tara’s parents, a group of cars up ahead of the Newbys slammed on their brakes and veered to the right side of the road. After coming to a stop, Preston hopped out of the car to find out what happened. One of the cars had hit an elk, and when Preston realized a passenger was bleeding, he ran back to his car to tell Tara to dial 911. As she reached for her phone, a car flew by and hit Preston, killing him instantly.

Thanks to the life insurance policy the Newbys purchased months earlier, Tara was able to pay off the family’s existing debt and provide for her two young sons after Preston’s death.

Whether you are 25 or 55, a life insurance policy gives you the peace of mind that should the worst happen, your loved ones will be taken care of.

Even if you already have life insurance through your employer, you may be underinsured. Call Schechner Lifson Corporation today—we can work with you to ensure that there aren’t any gaps in your current coverage.

SECURE Act (Setting up Every Community for Retirement Enhancement

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SECURE Act (Setting up Every Community for Retirement Enhancement) signed into law December 20, 2019 is the biggest piece of retirement plan legislation since the Pension Protection Act of 2006. The Act is designed to:

Encourage employees to save more for retirement by

• Repeal of age limitations for IRA contributions
• Moved the required beginning date for Defined Contribution Plan (includes 401(k) Plans, Profit Sharing Plans and IRAs) from 70 ½ to Age 72
• Make retirement savings available to more people by expanding 401(k) employee coverage to part-time employees working 500 hours annually for the past 3 years
• Requires lifetime income disclosures in addition to simply showing your account balance
• Makes it easier for your employer to offer lifetime income options

Encourage more businesses to offer a retirement plan to their employees

• Tax credit for retirement plan start-up costs
• Makes retirement plans affordable for small businesses

The Act also eliminates “Stretch” IRAs with certain exceptions which include a surviving spouse and disabled/chronically ill beneficiary. We do have some ideas for stretching the IRA wealth into the third generation. Contact Michael Schechner (michaels@slcinsure.com) for more information.

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!

Is Minimum Coverage Enough?

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Why Minimum Coverage For Auto Insurance Is Risky

Millions of drivers every year get new insurance coverage for their cars, and when they do, they are presented with a variety of choices in terms of the level of coverage and any types of extras they may need. Naturally, many drivers will gravitate towards the minimum coverage that they are legally allowed to drive with, thinking that the need for better coverage is slim, and they’d rather save money.

While saving money is an understandable goal, this minimum coverage approach increases your chances of trouble down the road. It may even wind up being more costly to take this corner-cutting approach. So, what exactly are the risks of only purchasing minimum coverage?

You’ll be uncovered for other uninsured drivers

While you’re doing the responsible thing by purchasing car insurance, even if it’s only the bare minimum, not every driver on the road is making that decision. As a result, if you get into an accident with one of these uninsured drivers, even if it’s not your fault, you won’t be covered. One of the first upgrades beyond minimum coverage is uninsured driver coverage, which will ensure that you’re still covered even if the other driver does not have coverage.

You’ll be out of luck for damages on your car

The minimum coverage you purchase is only the legal protection to make sure that if you are at fault and damage property or another car that your policy will pay for those damages. However, by purchasing the minimum coverage, you haven’t done anything to ensure that damages to your car will be covered in the case of an incident. When you purchase the minimum coverage, any damage to your car will be coming out of your pocket.

You’ll be liable for medical expenses if an accident is your fault

In the worst-case scenario, where an accident is your fault, and the other driver must receive medical care, you are opening yourself to liability and their medical expenses. A policy that goes above minimum coverage can take care of this for you.

You’ll be left stranded without those much-needed extras

Lastly, as minimum coverage gives you no more than it has to, some of the premium add-ons you can attach to your car insurance policy are incredibly useful and could ensure you don’t get left stranded. Roadside assistance, rental car coverage, mechanical breakdowns, and more are the type of additional add-ons you can get that can save you more from costs and inconveniences down the road.

Want to find out more?

Schechner Lifson Corporation can provide assist you with your car insurance policy. With experienced and caring agents, Schechner Lifson Corporation can make sure you’re on the right path!

Can’t Decide Between A New Or Used Car?

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Considerations When Buying A New Or Used Car

Because the average car is purchased somewhere in the range of seven to ten years in the United States, making the right decision about which one you buy is of the utmost importance. One of the first decisions you’ll likely make when you’re in the market for a car is whether you want to go with a new or used car. Whichever direction you pick, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Let’s walk through some of them with you!

Car Insurance Cost

You can’t drive a car off the lot without insuring it, whether that’s new or used, but the amount you’ll pay for car insurance coverage will vary based on whether it’s a new or used car. The amount you’ll pay in car insurance, though, is directly tied to the car’s worth. And because a new car costs more than a used car, your insurance coverage costs on your new car will be more.

Depreciation

One of the most frustrating parts of owning a new car can be how much of its value is eliminated the moment you drive it off the lot. Depreciation typically reaches 20% the moment this happens. However, the more you drive the car, the more it’ll continue to depreciate, which will be felt if you end up trying to sell or trade-in the car. Of course, the used car will depreciate over time and miles will climb as well, but because you didn’t pay the ‘off the lot’ price, it won’t be as large a percentage of your initial purchase price.

Features

While the costs may weigh in favor of buying a used car, new cars are more likely to have new and exciting features that you want to take advantage of. And these features aren’t just novelties or ‘nice to have’ aspects, like stereo or digital gadgets but include safety features that can keep you and your family more protected. It can be hard to put a price on feeling and being more secure in your car, so if that weighs heavy on you, it may be important to buy a new car to get the safest experience possible.

Financing Options

While the cost of the new car may be higher, getting a new car instead of a used car will typically come with more financing options and incentives. Cash rebates, new car loans with great interest rates, and more come into play on the new car lot that are simply not there for used cars.

You have a lot of decisions to make when you’re purchasing a new car, and there’s no right or wrong answer when opting for a new or used car. It comes down to what your preferences are and what you can afford. If you want to find out more and talk through your options, Schechner Lifson can offer you the right guidance. Get in touch with us today to find out more!

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