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Reminder! It’s Enrollment Time For The Affordable Care Act

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Here are the important dates again:

November 1, 2015: Open Enrollment starts — first day you can enroll in a 2016 Marketplace plan

January 1, 2016: First date 2016 coverage can start

January 31, 2016: 2016 Open Enrollment ends

**If you don’t enroll in a 2016 plan by January 31, 2016, you can’t enroll in a health insurance plan for 2016 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

What is my penalty for not having insurance?

For those willing to live without health insurance, next year may be the tipping point at which your money is better spent on a policy than a penalty.  The expectation is the penalty will be almost double.

2015

The penalty for not having health insurance in 2015 is $325 per adult and $162.50 per child under 18 (with a total family maximum of $975, regardless of family size), or 2% of your annual household income, whichever is higher.

Only the amount of income above the tax-filing threshold (about $10,150 for an individual) counts toward the percentage calculation of the penalty.

2016

In 2016, the penalty jumps to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 (with a family maximum of $2,085), or 2.5% of your annual household income above the tax-filing threshold, whichever is larger. (You pay the fee on the federal income tax return you file for the year you don’t have coverage.)

deadline ahead MEDICARE

Initial Enrollment

During the 7-month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after you ask to join a plan. If you join during one of the 3 months before you turn 65, your coverage will begin the first day of the month you turn 65.

Open Enrollment

For those already in the system but would like to make changes:

October 15–December 7.

Special Enrollment

You can make changes to your Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage when certain events happen in your life, like if you move or you lose other insurance coverage. These chances to make changes are called Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). Rules about when you can make changes and the type of changes you can make are different for each SEP.

Typically, these SEPs give you a 60 day window to enroll.

 I know I’m repeating myself. It bears repeating. The American public is not used to these sorts of restrictions on purchasing, so I want to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to you. Don’t get caught without insurance and have to wait until next year’s enrollment!

As always, thanks for reading.

—E. A. Cooke

To learn more about commonly misunderstood insurance terms and other insurance topics subscribe to the Avanti Reader via RSS, follow Avanti Business and insurance Services on Facebook or Twitter (@AvantiInsurance) to receive notifications of future posts.

 

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HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY

More than most holidays, I celebrate this day in my heart.  It gives me chills to think of the sacrifices made on my behalf.  While I become more jaded with age, still I feel the same thrill I felt as a child when I see an American flag waving.

American Flag

My father was a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps during WWII. My husband served in the Air Force before the Gulf War. I have Marine cousins, Army cousins and friends in the Army and Navy.

I feel very lucky to live in a country with an all-volunteer military. It wasn’t always that way, of course. I was very young when my brother received his draft card for Vietnam. We were still grateful for our military men in those days, but they weren’t all volunteers.

Whatever your views on war in general, never forget that today’s men and women of the armed forces have voluntarily sacrificed an easier life for one of duty to a higher purpose. Whether the government uses these people well is a discussion for another day. Today is Veteran’s Day. Well utilized or not, these folks risk their lives for their fellow Americans. For you and for me. These are people of character. They deserve our respect. They deserve our support.

So, thank you to all the selfless individuals who make up the American military on this, your special day.

—E. A. Cooke

Cyber Liability Insurance: A Growing Trend

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What is cyber liability insurance?

Cyber liability coverage covers a business’ liability for a data breach in which the business’ customers’ personal information is stolen by an employee or a hacker. This liability may include monetary business losses, recompense of funds stolen from your customers’ accounts, costs of investigating the crime, costs associated with reestablishing the customers’ credit to pre-crime status, and legal fees.

Coverage offered for data breaches vary greatly from carrier to carrier.  The types of coverage prudent for a given business varies depending on the size of the business, the industry involved, the amount of risk exposure, existing security procedures and what other coverage the business already has in place. Umbrella policies do not cover cyber liability.

History

Cyber liability insurance has been around for a decade, though many people have never heard of it.  In the beginning, only tech companies, finance companies, and healthcare related companies were interested in coverage.  They had a much greater risk exposure than most other companies.  Because of the small premium pool, coverage was highly expensive.

The internet is changing all that.

As more companies store their customers’ information on computers, they have more risk of being hacked.  Businesses that take payments over the internet especially have more risk.  As a result, more businesses are managing their risk by buying cyber liability insurance.  As the pool of businesses paying premiums increases, the cost of cyber liability insurance is decreasing.

Who needs cyber liability insurance?

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard small business owners reply to questions on security by saying, “No one would want my information” or “I’m too small for anyone to hack me”.  Wrong!  Hackers are opportunists.  Small companies that don’t pay much attention to security are exactly the companies they look for.  Small companies may not make the news when they get hacked, but they do get hacked.

Also, the term “cyber” comes from the stolen information being electronic data, not because it is stolen through the internet.  As much as no one likes the thought that an employee would steal from their employer, it happens.  An employee can walk off with a credit card receipt or download information onto a thumb drive.  That’s still “cyber” and covered under this type of insurance.

Susan O’Kelley, Insurance Broker and owner of Avanti Insurance Services, recommends any retail outfit, online or brick and mortar, have some kind of cyber liability insurance. The costs associated with being hacked are too enormous not to have coverage.  Often small businesses go broke dealing with such expenses.

What coverage should I get?

That depends on the nature of your business. As stated earlier, size, industry, existing security and many other variables affect which coverage is right for your business.  This type of coverage is very individualized. Sitting down with your broker and really going over your business model is the best choice.

Good luck!

—E. A. Cooke

Halloween Nightmares

With Halloween this weekend, I’ve been talking with friends about what scares us.

happyhalloween

Most of the answers have been fairly predictable. All the usual fun stuff.

Haunted Houses, Asylums.  Haunted House

Cemetary Cemeteries.

Zombies, Ghouls      Zombies

Vampire Vampires (sparkly or not)

One of my writer friends turned to me and

bet me he could guess what scared me

as an insurance professional.

JURASSIC WORLD!

T-rex

He’s not wrong.

What idiot would insure a dinosaur theme park?

I mean, it worked so well the first three times, right?

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Happy Halloween!

Have a frightening time.

—E. A. Cooke

Open Enrollment For Health Insurance Is Almost Here

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

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Open Enrollment:

November 1, 2015: Open Enrollment starts — first day you can enroll in a 2016 Marketplace plan

January 1, 2016: First date 2016 coverage can start

January 31, 2016: 2016 Open Enrollment ends

**If you don’t enroll in a 2016 plan by January 31, 2016, you can’t enroll in a health insurance plan for 2016 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

What is my penalty for not having insurance?

For those willing to live without health insurance, next year may be the tipping point at which your money is better spent on a policy than a penalty.  The expectation is the penalty will be almost double.

2015

The penalty for not having health insurance in 2015 is $325 per adult and $162.50 per child under 18 (with a total family maximum of $975, regardless of family size), or 2% of your annual household income, whichever is higher.

Only the amount of income above the tax-filing threshold (about $10,150 for an individual) counts toward the percentage calculation of the penalty.

2016

In 2016, the penalty jumps to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 (with a family maximum of $2,085), or 2.5% of your annual household income above the tax-filing threshold, whichever is larger. (You pay the fee on the federal income tax return you file for the year you don’t have coverage.)

MEDICARE

Initial Enrollment

During the 7-month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after you ask to join a plan. If you join during one of the 3 months before you turn 65, your coverage will begin the first day of the month you turn 65.

Open Enrollment

For those already in the system but would like to make changes:

October 15–December 7.

Special Enrollment

You can make changes to your Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage when certain events happen in your life, like if you move or you lose other insurance coverage. These chances to make changes are called Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). Rules about when you can make changes and the type of changes you can make are different for each SEP.

Typically, these SEPs give you a 60 day window to enroll.

 I know I’m repeating myself. It bears repeating. The American public is not used to these sorts of restrictions on purchasing, so I want to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to you. Don’t get caught without insurance and have to wait until next year’s enrollment!

As always, thanks for reading.

—E. A. Cooke

To learn more about commonly misunderstood insurance terms and other insurance topics subscribe to the Avanti Reader via RSS, follow Avanti Business and insurance Services on Facebook or Twitter (@AvantiInsurance) to receive notifications of future posts.

 

Cyclist Vs. Motorist

Have you ever gotten annoyed by a bicyclist while driving?

How about getting annoyed with a driver while cycling?

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I don’t know how many times I’ve heard family, friends and work associates complain of others not being able to share the road properly. Many have been in cars and many have been on bikes. If there is actually a collision, whichever vehicle you’re driving, you could find yourself legally at fault.

Many people equate a cyclist with a pedestrian and assume the more vulnerable party is automatically the victim. Not so.

A bicycle is considered a moving vehicle and is answerable to the same laws as a motor vehicle. Both parties are required to follow the traffic laws of the state. According to injury.findlaw.com, there can be negligence found on either the driver’s or cyclist’s behalf.  As with all car accidents, reckless or negligent operation of a vehicle has an effect on who is legally at fault and who will be financially responsible for damage and injury.

Have you ever seen a bicyclist run a stop sign? Change lanes without warning? Turn without a hand signal? Or make crazy hand signals that don’t tell you what they are about to do? In the eyes of the law, this is the same as a car running a stop sign, changing lanes or turning without signaling. Other things that are considered negligent for a cyclist is riding on the wrong side of the street, where an automobile driver would not be looking for traffic, or riding on and off the sidewalk. Depending on what state you live in and what age the rider is, it may be illegal to ride on the sidewalk at all.

Considering that cyclists are more physically vulnerable in an accident, they should have very good motivation to a) avoid an accident in the first place, and b) not give the courts an excuse to find them guilty of negligence or recklessness, thereby forfeiting compensation by the other party.

As a driver and a cyclist, I encourage everyone operating any kind of vehicle to be aware of the traffic laws in their area and to be super aware of your surroundings, so you can’t be taken by surprise. Not only should everyone on the road be considerate of others for manner’s sake, but for safety’s sake, as well.

As always, thanks for reading.

—E. A. Cooke

To learn more about commonly misunderstood insurance terms and other insurance topics subscribe to the Avanti Reader via RSS, follow Avanti Business and insurance Services on Facebook or Twitter (@AvantiInsurance) to receive notifications of future posts.

Insuring Celebrity “Assets”

We thought we’d have a little fun looking at the lighter side of insurance.

Celebrities tend to insure things the rest of us do not.  Here are some of the more unusual items.

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  1. Merv Hughes, Australian National Cricket team player, Walrus mustache, $370,000
  2. Egon Ronay, Hungarian food critic, taste buds insured for $375,000
  3. Kiss bassist and singer, Gene Simmons’ tongue, $1 million
  4. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ middle finger insured for $1.6 million
  5. Bruce Springsteen’s voice, $6 million
  6. Tom Jones’ chest hair $7 million
  7. Michael Flatley, Irish-American dancer, insured legs $47 million
  8. David Beckham, Football (Soccer) Player, legs and feet, $70 million
  9. Mark McGuire’s ankle, $120 million
  10. Mariah Carey’s legs, $1 billion

Do you have anything special to insure?  We’d love to hear about it!

As always, thanks for reading,

—E. A. Cooke