Personal Insurance Articles
What to Do Until Help Arrives
|After you discover water damage in your home...
These emergency tips (taken from recent publication in Servpro newsletter) will help you take proper action until you contact us to report your water damage claim or until you get a water cleanup company on the scene. These tips can help reduce damage and increase the chances of a successful restoration.
Water Damage from Contaminated Water:
- Avoid all contact with sewage and any items contaminated by sewage.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with contaminated items.
- Do not walk through damaged or wet areas. This could increase the possibility of spreading contamination.
- Do not use the HVAC system or household fans to dry the structure.
- Do not use any products for personal hygiene or cleanliness if exposed to the contaminated area.
Water Damage from Clean Water:
- Do not enter affected areas if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers or electrical equipment are exposed to water. Always avoid electrical hazards
- Shut off the water source if possible or contact a qualified party to stop the water source
- Turn off the circuit breakers for wet areas of the building, if access to power distribution panel is safe from electrical shock.
- Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping or blotting.
- Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removing lamps and tabletop items.
- Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying.
- Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture and wet carpeting.
- Remove to a safe, dry place any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other materials that are valuable or sensitive to moisture.
- Do not use household vacuum to remove water. This could cause electrical shock or damage to the vacuum.
Business Insurance Articles
Reduce Slip and Falls
Now that fall and winter are approaching, it is important to be aware of the
hazards associated with adverse weather conditions. Last year, slips and falls
from ice and snow resulted in an extraordinary number of injuries experienced by
policyholders. In order to reduce the potential for employee and guest injuries,
we are providing some tips below that will help maintain a safer environment
throughout the winter season. Repair holes and cracks in parking lots and
walkways that can trap snow and ice.
- Be aware of water collection and drainage patterns. When freezing
occurs, they will produce pronounced hazards that may necessitate more
frequent salting or sanding. Also obtain commitments for timely plowing
and sanding from those parties responsible for maintaining your property.
- Remind employees often to wear footwear that offers better traction on
snow and ice. Avoid high heels or smooth surface footwear.
- Monitor lighting in parking lots and walkways to assure proper levels of
Report any slip and fall occurrences to us promptly – as soon as you are made
aware of any possible injury. The insurance companies require immediate
- Keep entrance areas clean and dry to minimize tracked-in snow. Wet mats
can create slip and fall hazards when stepping onto concrete or tile
flooring. Replace mats and clean floors frequently to maintain dry surfaces
on snowy or wet days.
- Keep salt or sand buckets at entrances and exits for frequent application.
- Encourage immediate reporting of snow and ice hazards to management.
Make sure the channels for communication are open and hazards are
- Post safety signs at entrance and exit doors reminding employees and/or
customers to watch for slip and fall hazards.
- At least monthly, conduct brief meetings and/or distribute materials to all
employees addressing winter safety preparedness.
- Encourage employees and/or customers to provide safety suggestions to
share throughout your organization via displays, newsletters or other
methods of communication.
Health Insurance Articles
Will Obamacare Health Insurance Subsidies Be Available in 2016? Plus, 5 Important Subsidy Reminders
Earlier this year, the King v Burwell lawsuit threatened Obamacare health insurance subsidies in states with federally facilitated exchanges. Many people feared they could lose access to the premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions that lower their health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
However, on June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare subsidies.1 This decision ensures that premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions will remain available to individuals and families who both:
- Qualify for these subsidies based on income
- Buy health insurance from a state-based or federally facilitated Obamacare exchange
5 important reminders for Obamacare subsidy recipients
- Be sure to file your 2014 taxes and Form 8962. Failing to do so may result in having to repay advanced premium tax credits you have already received and losing access to subsidies in 2016 and beyond.2
If you have not yet filed your 2014 taxes and/or Form 8962, take action as soon as possible. You can download Form 8962 and access additional information at irs.gov/uac/About-Form-8962. If you need help submitting it, you can call the IRS at 800-829-0922. Contact a tax professional if you have questions or concerns about filing your 2014 taxes and/or Form 8962.
- Subsidies are only available for health insurance plans purchased from state-based and federally facilitated exchanges. If you believe you will qualify for this financial assistance and want to take advantage of it, you must shop and enroll through your state’s state-based or federally facilitated exchange.
- Subsidy eligibility is based on income and family size. Premium tax credits are available on a sliding scale to those whose incomes fall within 100 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Cost-sharing reductions that help lessen out-of-pocket costs (e.g., deductibles, copays and coinsurance) are available to those whose incomes fall below 250 percent of the federal poverty level—a silver plan must be purchased to receive a cost-sharing subsidy.
- You must reapply and qualify for your premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions every year. While some—but not all—health insurance plans may automatically renew from year to year, your Obamacare subsidies do not. You must reapply to determine your eligibility. Organize your tax and income documentation prior to 2016 open enrollment to help streamline this process.
- If your income or family size changes throughout the year, you must notify the health insurance exchange from which you purchased coverage. Increases and decreases to your family size and income are likely to impact your subsidy eligibility. If you fail to report these changes, it can mean you receive too much or too little advanced premium tax credit. When you file your taxes, you may owe the IRS for any overpayments.
What will the cost of Obamacare be in 2016?
Health insurance companies filed their 2016 rates for review in June 2015. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expects 2016 rates to be approved and finalized by October 2015.3 With news reports projecting double-digit premium increases, many people want to know what will happen to their health insurance rate in 2016. While it is too soon to tell, CMS projects that most people will be enrolled in plans with proposed rate increases of less than 10 percent.4
1 The Supreme Court of the United States. King et al. v Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. 576 U. S. ____ (2015).http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-114_qol1.pdf
2 Internal Revenue Service. “The Affordable Care Act: What’s Trending.” Last updated Aug. 7, 2015. http://www.irs.gov/Affordable-Care-Act/Individuals-and-Families/The-Affordable-Care-Act-Whats-Trending
3 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Public Review of Proposed Health Insurance Rate Increases for 2016 Coverage Year [Press Release].” June 1, 2015.http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2015-Press-releases-items/2015-06-01-2.html
4 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Public Review of Proposed Health Insurance Rate Increases for 2016 Coverage Year [Press Release].” June 1, 2015.http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2015-Press-releases-items/2015-06-01-2.html