Beacon Insurance Group Receives Award from Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry

On July 16th, 2015 Beacon Insurance Group received a “Pulling for Kids” Community Support award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry. Recipients were recognized for their significant contributions and support of the Lowcountry Clubs. Ken and Brian attended the annual Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry meeting and award luncheon to accept the award. Here they are pictured with Russ Whiteford, Chairman of the Board for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry.

Pulling for Kids award ken and brian

We are very honored to have received this special award. We are proud of the outstanding Boys and Girls Clubs in the Lowcountry and all they do for our community!

Supreme Court Rules on Obamacare- What does it really mean to everyone?

Continuation of more Federal dollars to support health insurance premiums – that is basically it.   A good friend of mine, Sterling Shuttleworth, retired founder of Venture Captive Management, also an expert with over 45 years in the healthcare insurance consulting field, shed some light on what he sees and has seen as our biggest health insurance issue.  Here are some of his thoughts:

The real issue is what also occurred yesterday June 24th.  A joint Congressional Panel heard 4 State Insurance Commissioners state the following – the average increases in exchange, private and group health insurance premiums will rise 22.5% or higher.   The reason, more sick people entered the health insurance system and young healthy people exited.  Health rates are well under prices for 2015-16. Right now claims are 2 times greater than the revenues generated.  All the plans are “unsustainable”.

Some of us knew this over 4 years ago when the Society of Actuaries stated this and it was ignored.

Who is the biggest elephant in the room driving up all these costs?  Us, we……..

We continue to laugh off wellness, proper diet, exercise, smoking and other detriments to a healthy lifestyle.  The frequency of the 5 preventable diseases is the Major Cost Driver of our healthcare costs and thus health insurance costs.

It is in your hands, what are you going to do about?

Insurance for Valuable Items

Do you own certain items which are special or carry a high monetary value? Are they items that may also appreciate in value or be a one of a kind item?

Your homeowner’s insurance policy may not provide you sufficient limits or broad enough coverage for certain personal items such as jewelry, silverware, furs, guns, paintings or other artwork. Many of these items have maximum limits insured under most homeowner’s insurance policies from $500 to $2,500. You determine the value of the items to insure or can submit an appraisal of the item.

The limitation is the amount usually provided by the homeowner’s policy is not the only shortcoming for insuring special items. Additional types of risk or perils can be insured under valuable floater coverage such as worldwide coverage, mysterious disappearance, and expand the policy to include claims arising from breakage. If you accidently damage a fragile item by dropping it or it falling off a shelf or wall, it is covered. Many of the valuable article floater policies usually have no deductible.

Any personal items which you want the broadest type of coverage should be considered for a valuable articles floater policy.

Need a Contractor? Are they Insured?

We have all hired contractors to do work around our homes, some jobs big, some small. Did you ever think to ask them if they have insurance? Did you ever ask for proof of that insurance? It is second nature for contractors to provide proof of insurance for commercial work to general contractors or business owners, but for our personal homes most people never ask. So, what is the risk?

What if the contractor does damage to your home such as starts a fire? He is responsible but does he have insurance to pay for that damage? What if the contractor had an employee or day laborer to help him on the job and that person was injured. If the contractor does not have workers compensation coverage, that employee is looking to get reimbursed by someone, most likely from you as the property owner.

As a homeowner, you should always ask for proof of insurance coverage to protect you. The terminology to use to ask the contactor to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance, usually provided by his insurance agent or insurance company.

While utilizing a licensed, insured contractor usually cost more, you are properly protected. Keep in mind, if a contractor has no license, has no insurance and hires cheap unqualified help, what do you think the chances are that the job or work is going to be done to your total satisfaction? When something goes wrong, you are the one holding the bag.

Choose Your Insurance Carrier Carefully

When consumers purchase goods and services, they want quality. This is why advertisers place commercials and ads highlighting these traits such as – “FORD TOUGH”, CHEVY TRUCK STRONG”, “AJAX STRONGER THAN DIRT”, heck even toilet paper like CHARMIN touts STRONGER BETTER. When people buy they want it to work and last.

Except when they buy insurance. They think all insurance companies and policies are the same. So they get lured into the “cheap.” Just what you want to buy, insurance from a company who may not be able to pay your claim.

I recently ran into a client who said he saved a ton of money on his auto coverage. A big strong contractor, who had big strong trucks, and he bought insurance from a company A.M. Best (the rating company) gave a C rating which is “weak”. With a rating that low, they are lucky to last a month, and who knows if they are still around when you have a claim. There are even some insurance companies that have less revenues than independent insurance agencies, how secure does that make you feel?

Insurance is there to protect you in your times of need. It is best to pick a company who is going to fulfill that prophecy. We at Beacon Insurance Group, your local independent insurance agency and broker, can give you the analysis to help you make the right choice.

Water Damage – A Claim Nightmare

Did you know that one of the most damaging claims you can have on a homeowners policy, is also preventable?

Water damages to the interior of your home is likely the homeowner insurance claim you will experience. Statistics show that there is almost a 70% chance you will experience some type of water damage claim, large or small. One statistic, which is extraordinary, is that the EPA estimates that over 25% of homeowners have a water leak to which they are unaware. Scary isn’t it?

Water damage claims can make you home unlivable and in the long run can also bring on hidden mold damage. Mold damage is usually not covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. There are steps you can take to prevent and minimize the chances for a water damage claim coming from leaking or burst pipes. Many water damage claims occur when your home is unoccupied for a period of time.

Here are some tips for both cold weather and warm weather areas:

  • Insulate your pipes which are most exposed to cold temps
  • Turn off water supply to your washing machine, icemaker, toilets and other bathroom fixtures
  • Install a leak detection system – there are many in the market today. These devices will automatically turn off the water supply should a leak be recognized, perfect for secondary or vacation homes
  • If you have a sump pump test it throughout the year
  • Turn off water to the house and drain pipes if you will be gone for an extend period of time such as months
  • Check you hose fittings to your washer – metal fittings are preferred
  • Shut off supply line to any water softener
  • Replace the water heater per mfg recommendations – may leaks occur due to faulty water heaters

Yes, water damage claims from pipes or internal fixtures are covered by homeowner’s insurance, but put up with the inconvenience and the indirect costs associated with a water damage claim. Any ounce of prevention is always preferred.

Insurance and Advertising – What are they really trying to say?

There are a number of insurance carriers who advertise on TV, but what exactly is there real message? After all, these ads cost millions, so they are all looking for a return on investment.

Call me a skeptic but here is the formula as I see it, premiums – claims – operating costs = profit.

So, I promise cheaper premiums, my operating costs include millions in advertising and my shareholders want a profit. The only cost variable remaining is claims. I wonder after 15 minutes of saving 15 percent while being by their side if I really am in good hands?

Direct writers of insurance are the top spenders of advertising dollars on TV and other media. They will sell you what you ask for, but maybe not what you need. Can you imagine that philosophy if children were raised that way?

Independent insurance agents take the time to address you total risk and financial exposure. More options, more ideas, for their clients.


What to Do If You Have A Property Claim

How to maximize your recovery and ensure a smooth claim process:

  1. Take photos of the damage
  2. Protect your property from further damage – this may entail some temporary repairs
  3. Do not allow the disposal of any damaged property until the claim is settled
  4. You, the insured, control who can do temp repairs or mitigate cleaning. You have the right to approve anyone who works on your property
  5. Can you still occupy the premises? If not make arrangements for temporary accommodations
  6. List and inventory the damaged items – remember it is your responsibility to prove your claim
  7. Identify items damaged by Make or Model # if available – if possible use an Excel spreadsheet
  8. Pricing of the items can be found on the internet – remember we want the current replacement cost value of the item
  9. Remember you are paid on the replacement cost value only if you replace the item, otherwise you only receive the depreciated actual cash value
  10. Document every phone call, email or contact with the insurance company and adjuster
  11. Do not sign any documents that state it is final payment of the claim
  12. Consider hiring a public adjuster if the claim is too large or complicated. The public adjuster represents your interests
  13. You have the right to request a new adjuster or any expert the insurance carrier sends out if you are not comfortable with the level of expertise
  14. Always be in attendance when the adjuster visits
  15. Always get permissions granted by the insurance adjuster in writing
  16. Request a copy of the adjuster’s report to the insurance company
  17. Always insist on the level of quality and tradesmen who built the house or certain parts of it. You are not required to accept lesser quality.
  18. If you feel you are getting the runaround, seek out the department of insurance and or local attorney who specializes in property insurance claims


Decision Making and Buying Insurance

Did you know that if a person knew the date of their death, it drives up the possibility that they would buy life insurance by over 60%? If people knew there was a disaster coming of some sort, they all want to run out and buy insurance.  Why is that? Maybe not as simple as so they can cash in on the event.

Most individuals who don’t buy insurance or put it off, just do not believe an unfortunate event is going to happen to them. The problem with unfortunate events, we never know when they are going to occur. Most people are terrible planners when it comes to events which have a low probability of causing a loss. They just don’t think it will happen to them.

There have been studies that show insurance buyers will most likely look to insure against common perils or risks which usually cause small losses, instead of large catastrophic risks which have a very low chance of occurring. In essence, people buy based on the chance they can cash in on the insurance, rather than the principle of protecting against catastrophic loss.

If a consumer considers buying insurance, the same way they consider gambling, there is a good chance they will not purchase the insurance. These individuals are looking to invest a small amount of money with the hopes of a large payout.  We have all heard the buyer state “I paid in thousands of dollars over so many years and never collected a dime because I had no claims.” In retrospect that is a good thing, since you did not suffer the direct and indirect losses a claim can cause.

A Big Mistake Made by Homeowners

What do you think is one of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make? Not keeping a home inventory! You might say “I’ve never made a home inventory!” or “I don’t know anyone who has a list of all of their belongings!” Well, we are here to tell you that a lack of home inventory could cost you a large amount of money.

This might be hard to do, but picture a fire destroying your entire home. You call your insurance company to file a claim on your Hilton Head homeowners insurance and the adjustor asks you for your list of personal property in the home. If you haven’t made your home inventory list, you are going to have a difficult time reconstructing from memory a list of every single item that you own. This, in turn, means that you will not receive reimbursement for everything to which you are entitled. A home inventory list could also speed up the process of your claim and get you back on your feet quicker.

At Beacon Insurance Group, we highly suggest that our clients create a home inventory. Use a smartphone to take pictures or videos and email them to yourself and someone else so that they can be kept “on file.” There are also several applications that you can add that will help you create the home inventory and keep it organized for you. We have used “Know Your Stuff” from the Insurance Information Institute and you can organize items by room, add photos, add price of the items and insert seriel/model numbers. With this app, you also get free online storage so you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime.

A home inventory is your only backup in a time of loss, so prepare yourself now so you don’t have to deal with the hardships later.