Essential Considerations for Returning to Work - Video & PDF

Webinar Summary:

Recently, Governor Murphy sketched out the benchmarks New Jersey will have to reach before the COVID-19 lockdown can be lifted. The stay at home order will remain in place until further notice, but the Governor said he expects the timeline for reopening to be measured in weeks, not months.

Returning to work will bring new legal and practical challenges for employers in all industries. The New Jersey Agents Alliance and its Member Agencies are pleased to invite you to a complimentary webinar by Clark Hill and HR/Advantage Advisory Services and hope that you will join us for an engaging discussion on the following topics:

  • Safely returning your employees to the workforce
  • Relevant federal and state guidance
  • Best practices for dealing with vulnerable workers, refusal/reluctance to work, and employee anxiety
  • COVID-19 positive workers and claims of workplace exposure
  • Why it’s important to formulate your workplace policies now
  • How we can help

Please share any questions that you may have about your returning workforce when you register.


Two white males in a fender bender

How You Can Find Affordable Car Insurance in NJ

Having car insurance is mandatory in most states. The same applies to New Jersey, and if you are planning to drive in New Jersey, you will be required to carry the least level of liability coverage.

If you are looking for affordable car insurance in NJ, you need to exercise some patience. Car insurance rates differ from one company to the other; therefore, it is wise to compare quotes from various insurance agencies instead of settling for the first price you get.

But first, you need to know some of the ways to get the cheapest car insurance rates.

The Basic Types of Affordable Car Insurance in NJ

If you are shopping for car insurance, you will probably need to understand the common types of car insurance. There are three main types of car insurance coverage, namely;

Liability Insurance

This type of coverage pays for injuries and deaths caused to third-parties. Also, it pays for any other damage to other people’s property due to a car accident that you caused.

Car liability insurance is mandatory in New Jersey, and drivers are required to buy at least the minimum amount of liability coverage that has been set by the state laws to protect them.

There are two other components under the liability insurance, these are the bodily injury liability, which helps pay for costs related to another person's injuries if the accident was your fault, and the property injury liability, which helps you pay for the damage you caused to another person’s property.

Collision Insurance

This type of car insurance pays for your vehicle's damage after an accident, no matter whose fault it is. Collision insurance coverage helps pay to replace or repair your car if it has been in an accident with another car or objects such as trees.

Additionally, this type of insurance will cover you when your car has been in a single-car accident that involved rolling or falling over. However, this coverage has a deductible, which you are supposed to pay before the cover can kick in.

You have the liberty of choosing the amount of collision deductible you want to pay when purchasing your coverage. Collision coverage has limits, which in most cases, is the value of the car. The limit is the maximum amount of money the insurance company will pay towards a covered claim.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

Comprehensive insurance helps pay for damages incurred due to theft, vandalism, and damage by natural disasters. The coverage paid is deductible, and is the amount you will pay out of your pocket before the insurer repays you for a covered claim.

This type of car insurance coverage is usually an optional coverage, but if you’re going to lease or pay off your vehicle, your lender might need it. Other types of car insurance coverage include;

  • Gap coverage
  • Classic car insurance
  • New car replacement coverage
  • Towing and labor cost coverage
  • Uninsured motorist coverage
  • Medical payments
  • Glass breakage
  • Rental

How to Find the Best Car Insurance Coverage

Accidents can happen any time, and when they do, insurance is what keeps your finances safe.

Regardless of whether the accident was your fault, your car insurance should be able to assist you. But in order to protect yourself without paying too much, you need to consider some factors that will help you choose the right coverage for your car.

Additionally, you should know how to choose a good insurance company that will have the ability to handle your claims. Although the process can be confusing, the following steps will make it easy.

Personal Liability and Personal Injury

When shopping for car insurance, always put the safety of your loved ones first. You should prioritize personal injury and personal liability coverage.

Remember that during an accident, the first thing that is always asked for is health insurance. Lack of medical coverage will lead to high out-of-pocket expenses to pay for all medical expenses.

Shop Around

Most insurance companies spend a lot of time advertising to convince people how they offer the best insurance rates in the industry.

The best way to make sure that you get the best and the most affordable car insurance in NJ is by comparing insurance rates from several companies.

Shopping around for car insurance is important; don’t just take the first price that you see.

Inquire About Discounts

There are several auto insurance discounts available. The three main insurance discounts are,

  • Vehicle discounts, which are discounts involving your car
  • Driver discounts, which are discounts that have something to do with your driving habits
  • Policy discounts, which include multi-policy discounts and discounts for paying your insurance premiums upfront.

All the above discounts lower insurance rates for you, and some companies even offer credits during a pandemic like the COVID-19. However, make sure you compare rates and choose wisely.

Have Good Credit

Car insurance companies in New Jersey use credit scores to help them determine the risks. Drivers who have a poor credit usually end up paying higher insurance premiums.

Insurance companies use credit scores to determine your likelihood of filing claims in the future. In New Jersey, the monthly price increase for poor credit is $178, while the yearly price increase for poor credit is $2,216.

Raise Your Deductible

Deductibles are the amount of money you pay before your insurance policy starts working. Choose higher deductible when buying a comprehensive or a collision insurance coverage; this way, you will be saving more money.

Reduce Coverage on Old Cars

Try as much as you can to skip the comprehensive and collision coverage of your old car. The maximum payout limit is limited by the value of the car. Therefore, if your car is old and has a low market value, going for comprehensive insurance or collision insurance will be a waste of money.

Bottom Line

By obtaining car insurance, you will have peace of mind when driving. You will be saved from expensive legal charges, and more importantly, the auto insurance will protect you from losing your property and make it simpler to replace or repair damages.

To get an affordable car insurance policy in NJ that covers all your needs, contact Central Jersey Insurance Associates today.


two red road signs, one says good and one says bad

What Separates The Worst & Best Business Insurance Providers?

Business insurance is essential if you'd like to operate a legal business.

Insurance is something that many people are familiar with as most need it for their vehicles and homes.

Medical insurance is also common, and many are provided coverage by their employer. Business insurance, on the other hand, isn't necessary for anyone besides business owners.

When you start a business, you must get the best business insurance. This ensures that your company and employees are protected.

In most cases, you'll be obligated to get it before you can operate. However, with so many options and the power of marketing, figuring out what makes a good insurance provider can be difficult.

Keep on reading to learn more about what makes the best business insurance providers stand out above the rest.

What do the Best Insurance Providers do?

Insurance plays a major role in the sustainability of many individuals and businesses.

They're responsible for providing people with services whenever they suffer from negative events. These events typically force them to stop doing things they'd regularly do.

For example, a business that suffers roof damage may have to stop operating until they repair it. Another example would be a homeowner that has to leave their home because it flooded.

While these are common issues that people go through, insurance providers cover much more than that.

Depending on the insurance you get, you'll get a maximum amount of coverage that will cover damages and fees until that point. So if your insurance provides $50,000 of medical expenses, you'd be able to stay in a hospital and receive medications until your expenses pass $50,000.

Business insurance focuses on covering employees and a company's property.

If an employee is injured because of a work event, the business insurance will pay for their medical expenses. This insurance will also cover property damages similar to that of homeowner's insurance.

Employee insurance (workers' compensation) is often included within a business insurance policy.

However, some providers will separate them so they can earn more money. This coverage allows employees to continue receiving money and treatment when they're out of work.

Continue reading to learn more about what the best insurance providers offer.

Provide Customer Service

The main thing that separates the best insurance providers from the worst is customer service.

When it comes to getting insurance, you'll want a provider you know you can trust. Unfortunately, many providers do whatever they can to avoid giving compensation to those that are insured.

You'll find that the worst insurance providers are those that don't have 24/7 customer support lines or they take too long to respond. When an emergency occurs, it's difficult to contact them because they don't offer many options to their policyholders.

With the best insurance providers, you'll be able to contact them whenever you need as they'll offer several contact methods and 24/7 support. Some companies will offer exclusive contact options – such as a phone number or email – for their policyholders.

This lets them guarantee service to those in need.

Provide Coverage

Most people choose an insurance provider based on their coverage options.

Some insurance companies offer several types of insurance. For example, an insurance provider that offers auto, homeowner's, and business insurance.

Although a provider may offer different types of insurance, the most important thing to look at is how much they cover.

Some of the worst providers will offer several types of insurance to get more customers. While doing this, they'll offer low coverage at high premium rates.

When you see an insurance company that offers a large sum of coverage for lower rates, you'll know they're one of the best providers. However, you'll have to compare several providers to determine which one would be best to meet your needs.

Follow Processes & Procedures

While it would be nice to explain your situation to an insurance provider and get a check instantly, that's not how insurance providers work. Instead, they'll employ several procedures to determine whether you need compensation.

This process helps people find out who is a good insurance provider because you'll know if they're trying to help you. A provider's procedures will vary depending on their business model and the type of insurance.

When it comes to bad insurance providers, they may do something like come by the scene where the damages/accident occurred for a short period. Leaving abruptly isn't a good sign because it may be that they're trying to downplay the event, concluding that you don't need compensation.

A good insurance provider will immediately respond to your call and may send someone to check out what happened.

The person they sent will ask you and others about what happened and collect evidence. If they don't send someone to meet you, they'll ask you to send evidence to them.

The best insurance providers don't try to argue with their policyholders. They also aren't biased towards people that pay higher premiums, so you can expect the same customer service if you pay for lower coverage.

Get The Best Business Insurance Today

Whether you currently own a business or would like to start one, you'll need to get a good insurance policy. Business insurance is all about keeping a business operating and helping employees get back to work when they've been injured.

By getting the best business insurance, you can cover your business without breaking the bank. With affordable rates and large coverage, you won't have to worry about unexpected expenses. If your property is damaged or an employee gets hurt, you'll get help.

Contact us today to learn more about our insurance options. We can answer any questions you may have!


COVID-19 Small Business Resources Tracker

This page will be home to all of the COVID-19 resources we create and acquire from our trusted partners, outside of anything pertaining to group health insurance, which you can find on this page.

We'll be posting periodic updates and new information as we receive it and share it all with you via email and social media posts.

We recommend you bookmark this page and check back daily for the latest news.

Executive Order #123

On April 9th, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 123, extending grace periods during which certain insurance companies, including health insurers, life insurers, and property and casualty insurers, cannot cancel policies for nonpayment of premiums.

As part of its passing, the following are being put in place:

  • Extends minimum grace periods: A minimum 60-day grace period will be required for health and dental insurance policies, and a minimum 90-day grace period will be required for life insurance, insurance premium-financing arrangements, and property and casualty insurance, which includes auto, homeowners, and renters insurance. Insurance companies will be required to notify policyholders of this emergency grace period and to waive certain late fees, interest, or other charges associated with delays in premium payments as directed by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance. Insurers will also be required to provide each policyholder with an easily readable written description of the terms of the extended grace period. The extended grace periods will not apply to employer-funded health plans, which under federal law, are regulated exclusively by the federal government.
  • Requires insurance companies to pay claims during the grace period: Insurance companies will be required to pay any claim incurred during the emergency grace period that would be covered under the policy. The Order further prohibits insurance companies from seeking recoupment of any claims paid during the emergency grace period based on non-payment of premiums.
  • Ensures that unpaid premiums are made payable over a lengthy period: To ensure that policyholders are not required to make a lump sum payment on unpaid premiums at the end of the grace period, any unpaid premium will be amortized over the remainder of the policy term or a period of up to 12 months, as appropriate and as directed by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance.

(Published by NJ.gov on 4/9/2020)

The CARES Act & Company Sponsored Retirement Plans

One of our preferred financial partners and President of Absolute Conclusions, LLC, Mark McLafferty, recently discussed the CARES Act, which was passed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, and updates for individuals regarding Company Sponsored Retirement Plans.

Watch the video below to hear what he had to say, and continue reading after that to learn more.

(Video Published 4/2/2020)

There have been several changes is legislation making it easier for companies and individuals that participate in certain retirement plans to access money.

There are three important components that we would like our clients to be aware of; loan limits have been doubled, there is no 20% withholding, and 2020 required distribution rules have been removed.

Read further details below.

10% Early Withdrawal Penalty Tax Waived

Waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty tax under IRC Sec. 72(t) on early withdrawals up to $100,000 from a retirement plan or IRA for the following individuals:

  • Those diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having work hours reduced
  • Those unable to work due to lack of child care due to COVID-19
  • Closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to COVID-19
  • Or other factors as determined by the Treasury Secretary

The legislation also permits those individuals to pay tax on the income from the distribution ratably over a three-year period and allows individuals to repay that amount tax-free back into the plan over the next three years.

Those repayments would not be subject to the retirement plan contribution limits.

Retirement Plan Loan Limits Doubled

Doubles the current retirement plan loan limits to the lesser of $100,000 or 100% of the participant’s vested account balance in the plan.

Individuals with an outstanding loan from their plan with a repayment due from the enactment of CARES through Dec. 31, 2020, can delay their loan repayment(s) for up to one year.

Required Minimum Distribution Rules Waived

Temporarily waives of required minimum distribution rules for certain retirement plans and accounts.

This provision waives, for the 2020 calendar year, the required minimum distribution rules for certain defined contribution plans (not defined benefit plans) and IRAs.

The legislation also includes special rules regarding the waiver period to, in essence, hold harmless those individuals (and plans) who took advantage of the RMD waiver for 2020.Allowance of partial above-the-line deduction for charitable contributions and modification to limitations on charitable contribution during 2020.

This provision encourages contributions to charitable organizations during 2020 by permitting an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions, whether an individual itemizes their deductions or claims the standard deduction.

Originally Published on 3/27/20 by: EsinerAmper, LLP

Paycheck Protection Program – Applies to Businesses with Under 500 Employees

  • Provides $349 billion in funding for loans, which can be forgiven
  • Covers the period February 15, 2020, through June 30, 2020
  • Loans will cover:
    • (i) payroll costs
    • (ii) continuation of health care benefits
    • (iii) employee compensation (excluding that portion of compensation in excess of $100K for any individual employee)
    • (iv) mortgage interest obligations
    • (v) rent
    • (vi) utilities and
    • (vii) interest on debt incurred before the covered period.
  • Loan amount will equal 2.5 x the average total monthly payroll costs, up to $10 million.
  • The interest rate may not to exceed 4%.
  • No personal guaranty required
  • No collateral required
  • For eligibility purposes, requires lenders to determine whether a business was operational on February 15, 2020, and had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes, or a paid
  • independent contractor
  • All or a portion of the loan may be forgivable and debt service payments may be deferred for up to 1 year.
  • Borrowers shall be eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount spent by the borrower during an 8-week period after the origination on:
    • (i) rent
    • (ii) payroll costs for workers (excluding that portion of compensation in excess of $100K for any individual employee) including group healthcare expenses
    • (iii) interest on a mortgage
    • (iv) utility payments
  • The amount forgiven may not exceed the principal of the loan.
  • The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees
  • If an employer re-hires workers previously laid off, the employer will not be penalized for having a reduced payroll at the beginning of the period.

Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDLs”)

  • For the period between January 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020
  • EIDL eligibility is greatly expanded to include any business with not more than 500 employees operating under a sole proprietorship or as an independent contractor
  • EIDLs may be approved solely on the bases of an applicant’s credit score or by use of alternative methods to gauge the applicant’s ability to repay.
  • Applicants may request an advance of up to $10,000 within three days after the Administrator receives the application, subject to verification that the entity is eligible under this program,
  • which can be used for any purpose under §7(b)(2) of the Small Business Act and is not subject to repayment, even if the loan request is ultimately denied.
  • The requirement of personal guarantees for loans up to $200,000 is waived
  • The requirement that the applicant must be in business for a year is waived, but the business must be in operation on January 31, 2020)
  • The credit elsewhere test is waived.
  • This loan can be in addition to the Paycheck Protection Program

Deferment of Existing SBA Loan Payments

  • Covers loans made by the SBA under
    • The SBA Business Loan Program (including the Community Advantage Pilot Program, but excluding the new payroll loan program established under Section 1102); or
    • Title V of the Small Business Investment Act; or
  • SBA Administrator will make the loan payments for borrowers, including principal, interest and any associated fees, owed in a regular servicing status, for:
    • Loans made before this bill was enacted not on deferment for the six-month period beginning when the next payment is due
    • For loans made before this bill was enacted that are on deferment, for the 6-month period beginning with the next payment due after deferment
    • For loans made within 6 months of enactment of this bill, for 6 months after the first payment is due
  • Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes
    • Employers responsible for paying 6.2% Social Security Tax on employee wages will be allowed to defer paying their share.
    • Half of the deferred amount will be due December 31, 2021, balance due December 31, 2022
  • Additional Tax Benefits for Businesses
    • Modification of Net Operating Losses eliminated 80% limitation and allowing carryback for five years (allows for filing of amended returns for prior years)
    • Modification of the limitation on losses for Non-Corporate Taxpayers, such as individuals, estate and trusts. May allow non-corporate taxpayers to deduct all excess business losses through the end of the 2020 tax year.
    • Acceleration of Refundable Alternative Minimum Tax Credits to tax years 2018-2019
  • Employer Student Loan Payments
    • Employers can provide student loan repayment benefit to employees on a tax-free basis, up to $5,250 annually to each employee.
    • Applied to payments made after the enactment date and before January 1, 2021.

Originally Published on 3/31/20 by: Byrnes, O’Hern & Heugle, LLC


COVID-19 Health Insurance Guide

How to use this guide

Updates are being announced hour to hour from the Department of Labor, the Department of Insurance, as well as the individual carriers with regulation updates pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.  During such a stressful time in general, this can be quite overwhelming as a business owner.

Our team has accumulated the most up to date information and consolidated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Below, please find some important information pertaining to these changes.  In addition, you will find some excellent information in regards to the continuation of benefits, as well as the modified Family Leave Act, and how it now applies to small businesses.

Health Insurance Carrier COVID-19 Updates

Please select your current health carrier. Updated as of 3/31/2020

Original Source: Savoy Associates

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

All Commercial and Medicaid plans will cover serological (antibody) testing with no member cost-share, as required under recent legislation.

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Exceptions

Off Anniversary plan downgrades are available through July 31, 2020. Businesses that temporarily close will be allowed to continue their AFA plan provided premiums are paid monthly based on the assumption that the business will reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic. Business that close permanently Aetna will waive the 30-day advance termination requirement upon group request. Such a request must be received prior to the termination date. Special Enrollment period, Aetna has is offering a SEP for employees who previously waived coverage, the enrollment opportunity is being offered from April 6-17th for an April or May 1, 2020 effective date.

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

Furloughed (temporarily laid-off) employees and those with reduction in hours will be temporarily allowed to stay on the medical plan provided premium the option to remain insured is offered to all impacted employees. Employees who are terminated, should be terminated from the group health plan and offered State Continuation/COBRA. Upon rehire, wait period will be waived. These exceptions will expire on July 31, 2020.

Premium Grace Periods

Aetna will work with AFA plan sponsors to extend grace periods for the months of March, April and May. Group must contact the Answer Team to establish the extension. Fully-Insured NY Small Groups: Aetna will
not terminate any NY small employer group for non-payment of their health insurance premiums through
June 1, 2020. During the extended grace period, claims will continue to be paid and please know your small
group customers will not be sent to collections or to collection reporting agencies. Aetna is available to
discuss your payment and plan options, to do so call your broker or Aetna at 1-800-297-7145.

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived 

Small Maintenance Medications

Waiving early refill limits on 30-day supply of maintenance medications. CVS waiving charges for home delivery of medications.

Telemedicine

Member cost-share waived,through 6/6/2020

Carrier Resources

https://www.aetna.com/individuals-families/member-rights-resources/need-to-know-coronavirus.html

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

AmeriHealth will cover the cost for testing including antibody testing that is ordered by your physician or state health department.

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Not applicable at this time

Exceptions

Prior authorization requirements are being waived for acute inpatient admissions from the emergency department for members with a COVID-19 diagnosis and for transfers from acute inpatient facilities to post-acute facilities.

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

AmeriHealth New Jersey will honor employer requests to continue coverage for employees furloughed or temporarily laid off as a result of impacts of COVID-19. This exception applies to fully-insured and self-funded business. This exception is in effect until June 30, 2020. This exception will not be valid on or after July 1, 2020. Contact your Sales Team for additional details.

Premium Grace Periods

Fully-Insured groups may elect to defer April or May premium payments. To be eligible, all premium payments must be current through March for an April deferral or through April for a May deferral. To apply for the deferral groups must submit a signed Deferred Premium Program Agreement. In addition, Large Group (51+) must provide an attestation from their senior financial officer or CPA stating that the group has experienced financial hardship caused by COVID-19. Please contact your Savoy sales team for further details. IMPORTANT DEADLINES: APRIL deferral requests must be submitted to Savoy in full by 4:00PM on Monday, April 20, 2020. May deferral requests must be submitted to Savoy by 4:00PM on May 15, 2020.

Testing & Treatment

Member cost share is being waived for in-network, inpatient, acute care treatment for COVID-10. In addition, member cost share is being waived for emergency room visits when a member is admitted for COVID-19 treatment. This means members will have no out of pocket costs for COVID-19 inpatient hospitalizations. These changes are in effect from March 30, 2020 through May 31, 2020.

Maintenance Medications

Waiving early refill limits on 30-day supply of maintenance medications.

Telemedicine

Expanded telemedicine coverage allows members to have virtual visits with their regular doctors at no cost
for all services, not just COVID-19 services.

Carrier Resources

https://www.amerihealthnj.com/html/index.html

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

Cigna will cover FDA-authorized COVID-19 diagnostic serology tests without cost-share when billed with CPT codes 86328 and 86769. As of April 22, 2020, there are four Emergency Use Authorized (EUA) FDA-approved serology tests that measure antibody levels for COVID-19. Cigna encourages providers to review the FDA website for the most up-to-date list of approved tests.

Cigna intends to reimburse these tests consistent with CMS pricing. However, CMS has not yet released pricing for these codes. Savoy will provide additional updates regarding reimbursement when this information becomes available. Claims submitted for these codes prior to the codes being priced and added to Cigna’s claims system may be held to ensure proper processing and reimbursement.

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Not applicable at this time

Exceptions

Not applicable at this time

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

If an enrolled employee working 30 hours or more per week is furloughed or has hours reduced below 30 hours per week, Cigna will agree, at the groups formal request, to allow the employee to remain on the plan for the duration of the extended relief period as long as premium payments are made. “Extended relief period” is defined as the period starting on March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2020. This period may be extended by Cigna in response to evolving external events as well as Cigna’s financial capacity.

Premium Grace Periods

Groups in need of assistance should contact their CIGNA account manager to review.

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived 

Maintenance Medications

No waiver at this time

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is available at the existing benefit level. Cigna has opened a 24-hour telephone HELP line, 866.912.1687, to allow you and your family members to speak with qualified clinicians about how to cope with anxiety, stress, or other issues related to the impact of the COVID-19.

Carrier Resources

https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/topic-disaster-resource-center

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Not applicable at this time

Exceptions

Not applicable at this time

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

Laid off or furloughed employees that were covered by the plan may remain on the plan until May 31, 2020 without electing COBRA or continuation under state law. The group must continue to pay the monthly premium payments, and employee premium contributions must be the same or less than they were prior to the layoffs or furlough. Coverage must be maintained on a uniform, non-discriminatory basis to all eligible laid off or furloughed employees. At least one employee must remain actively employed. Terminated employees should be offered state continuation/COBRA. Upon rehire, the wait period will be waived.

Premium Grace Periods

Employer groups suffering financial hardship may request a premium extension as mandated by NYS. The process is as follows:

March premium must be paid in full before a group can request the premium grace extension plan. If a group wants to take advantage of the premium grace period, the group, the broker or GA MUST CALL into EmblemHealth’s Broker Service Department at 1-866-614-6040 and advise they have a financial hardship to take advantage of this program.

April premium must be paid in full by 6/1.

For May premium, groups will have until 6/1 to pay their premium in full.

If both premiums are not paid by 6/1, EmblemHealth will terminate the groups on 6/2 back to 3/31 (4/1/2020), and with the assistance of EmblemHealth’s Financial Recovery Team, EmblemHealth will pursue any paid claims.

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived

Maintenance Medications

Early refill of prescription is allowed. Members in need of an early refill for your prescription due to the COVID-19 outbreak, please tell your pharmacist to enter the following Submission Clarification Code (SCC): SCC 13. Some pharmacies are not familiar with this new code, so be sure to let yours know about it. If your early refill is rejected even after using this code, please ask your pharmacist to contact the Express Scripts Pharmacy Help Desk at 800-922-1557.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is available at the normal cost-share.

Carrier Resources

https://www.emblemhealth.com/live-well/covid19/coronavirus

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Small Group 1-100, April 1, 2020 new business submission extended to April 8, 2020. Empire is also extending the small group 1-100 recredentialing deadline from 3/31/2020 to 4/8/2020.

Exceptions

Empire opened a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) from now until April 3, 2020 to make benefits available to employees in Fully-Insured Small and Large Groups who previously waived participation in employer-sponsored plans. State eligibility guidelines will apply. This SEP is in response to COVID-19. It’s another way Empire is helping people get the care they need. Who’s eligible? Employees who were eligible for benefits during employers’ Open Enrollment are eligible for this SEP if they had previously waived coverage. How it works: Employers will follow the standard process of sending updated enrollments to Empire, just as they would for any qualifying event or enrollment period, through their elected format of 834s, the EmployerAccess portal, or other approved methods.

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

Empire’s requirement for employees to be actively working in order to be eligible for coverage will be relaxed through May 31, 2020 as long as the monthly premium payment is received and at least one employee remains actively employed. Coverage must be offered on a uniform, nondiscriminatory basis to all employees and employee premium contributions must be the same or less than what they were prior to the layoffs. Employees who are terminated from employment should be offered state continuation/COBRA. Employees rehired prior to May 31, 2020 will not have to satisfy a new hire wait period.

Premium Grace Periods

Per a recent New York State insurance regulation, Insureds experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19 now have until June 1, 2020 to pay their health insurance premium. Please note, this does not mean the obligation to remit premium is waived or excused for this period. The regulation temporarily changes the grace period for Individual and Small Group fully-insured health insurance policyholders who experience financial hardship due to COVID-19. This applies to commercial Small Group and Individual subscribers except for APTC/subsidy recipients as well as full-payment Child Health Plus subscribers.

Groups must notify Empire that they are experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19 that makes it difficult to pay their premium on time, their grace period is extended. They will have until June 1, 2020 to pay premium that was due on March 1, April 1 and/or May 1. Small Group fully-insured policyholders who qualify under the provisions of the regulation are required to give Empire written attestation of hardship due to COVID-19 by sending notice of financial hardship to NYGracePeriod@empireblue.com.

IMPORTANT: The regulation requires insurers as well as agents to directly notify their health insurance policyholders in writing of the emergency regulation by April 21. You can send these notices to your Individual and Small Group clients with Empire coverage to fulfill that obligation.

Individual Letter:

http://image.messageinsite.com/lib/fe5615707d600c747210/m/2/NY_Grace_Period_IND_member_notices_EBS+Letter_SLB.pdf

Small Group Letter:

http://image.messageinsite.com/lib/fe5615707d600c747210/m/2/NY+Grace+Period+EMPLOYER+notice_EBS+Letter_SLB.pdf

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived for COVID-19 testing and treatment.

Maintenance Medications

Empire is relaxing early refill limits, where permitted. Empire is relaxing early prescription refill limits, where permitted, for members who have Empire pharmacy benefits and wish to refill a 30-day supply of most maintenance medications early. Additionally, members who have a pharmacy plan that includes a 90-day mail-order benefit should talk to their doctor about whether changing from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply of their prescriptions is appropriate. Members filling 90-day prescriptions can get most of their medications through Empire’s home delivery pharmacy.

Telemedicine

Members can download the Sydney Care mobile app for a quick and easy way to assess their coronavirus symptoms and let them know whether they need to visit a local health care provider in person. LiveHealth Online visits will be available for members at no extra cost through June 14, 2020. Empire is expanding member telehealth benefits to include telehealth visits by phone with the primary care doctor in their plan until June 14, 2020. Members can get one Virtual Care text session at no cost between now and June 14, 2020. Additional Virtual Care text sessions cost $19 each. Telehealth visits through LiveHealth Online or other telehealth technologies that primary care doctors in member’s plan use are available to members at no cost between now and June 14, 2020.

Carrier Resources

https://www.empireblue.com/coronavirus/?brandcd=EBCBS

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Not applicable at this time

Exceptions

Small Group Policies: Healthfirst is offering a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to existing small group policyholders. For employees and dependents who previously waived coverage when they were first eligible, or for those who were still within their waiting period, the SEP provides the opportunity to enroll in benefits. Dependents such as spouses and children can be added to an existing account as long as they are enrolled in the same coverage or benefit option as the employee. Request for enrollment must be received no later than: April 5 for coverage effective April 1 and May 5 for coverage effective May 1.

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

Not applicable at this time

Premium Grace Periods

http://assets.healthfirst.org/pdf_e440eacac550af1c32a5e233ad063be2?v=0427123041

Businesses experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic may request a premium grace period extension through June 1, 2020. This guidance only applies to April and May premiums. Healthfirst small groups can submit a request for a premium grace period extension to Employer Services by calling 1-855-949-3668 or by emailing EmployerandBrokerService@healthfirst.org. For your reference, your small group client(s) will receive this letter regarding the premium grace period extension. Premiums for both months will be due in full by June 1st or the group will be terminated.

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived

Maintenance Medications

One-time refill for 30-day supply of chronic medications

Telemedicine

Request a Teladoc visit by phone at 1-800-Teladoc (1-800-835-2362) or by visiting this https://member.teladoc.com/healthfirst

Carrier Resources

https://healthfirst.org/

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Not applicable at this time

Exceptions

Annual MSP/MLR Collection Deadline Extension: Highmark Annual Group Client MSP/MLR Employee Count Collection Online Survey: The April 30, 2020 deadline to reply to this notice has been extended due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. If a client does not respond to the initial letter by the original deadline, they will receive a second letter, which will provide a new reply by date that will be flexible.

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

If an employee/member is laid off or furloughed prior to June 30, 2020, due to COVID-19 business disruption and rehired prior to June 30, 2021, Highmark will waive the waiting period for coverage. For coverage periods through June 1, 2020, we will waive “active at work” requirements for a period of up to 90 days. This enables coverage for employees/members transitioned to part-time or furlough status. The only requirements are that: a. the affected employees/members be currently covered on the plan, b. coverage be offered on a uniform, non-discriminatory basis, c. the premium is paid for the coverage with the same level of employer subsidies previously offered, and d. at least one employee/ member remains in active full-time employment.

Premium Grace Periods

Groups in need of assistance should contact their Highmark customer manager.

Testing & Treatment

Members receiving in-network hospital care for COVID-19 will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses (deductible, co-insurance, and copays). This waiver of member cost-share will remain in effect through May 31, 220. The waiver applies to all fully insured group, ACA and Medicare members. Self-Insured plans must opt-in to this program. The deadline to opt-in in 5pm, Friday April 10, 2020.

Maintenance Medications

No waiver at this time

Telemedicine

Telemedicine and virtual visits will waive cost-sharing and copayments for fully insured and ASO members under Teladoc, Amwell or Doctor on Demand for 90 days. ASO clients have option to opt out. Highmark has also expanded access to both in- and out-of-network teleaddiction services for members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware who are in addiction treatment and need immediate help without any out-of-pocket costs.

Carrier Resources

https://faqs.discoverhighmark/

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resource Guide

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

COVID-19 Antibody tests are covered in full, with no member liability, when ordered by a doctor or provider, including telemedicine providers and submitted through an in-network laboratory (CPT Codes: 86328 and 86769). These tests must be FDA approved and the office performing the test must have a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) waiver certification to bill for these services.

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Exceptions

Not applicable at this time

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules (Updated 5/14/20)

Horizon is waving the “actively at work” requirement applicable to fully-insured commercial plans. Furloughed employees or those with reduced work hours may remain covered under the group health plan provided medical premiums are paid. Furloughed employees may remain on the plan through June 30, 2020. Employees who are terminated should be offered State Continuation/COBRA. At the employer’s discretion, rehire wait periods may be waived for the next 60 days.

Premium Grace Periods

As detailed in Horizon BCBSNJ’s COVID-19 Resource Guide, per the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (NJDOBI) Bulletin No. 20-13, Horizon BCBSNJ will extend the health and/or dental premium payment grace period for small employer and qualifying large employer (51+) customers.

Deadlines to elect the Emergency Premium Payment Deferral Program are as follows:

April 2020 – All forms must be submitted by 4:00PM on April 30th.

May 2020 – All forms must be submitted by 4:00PM on May 15th.

Small Employer: Horizon BCBSNJ will extend the health and/or dental premium payment grace period for small employer customers from 31 calendar days to 60 calendar days. The emergency grace period may start with either the April or the May coverage, and to the premiums due for those months covered by the emergency grace period. If the small employer group already missed the April premium payment, the group is currently covered under the emergency grace period.

1. Upon request for the group’s extension, brokers should send the Emergency Grace Period Premium
Deferral Program Agreement to the group for review and execution.

2. The executed agreement must be returned to your sales team at Savoy.

3. Savoy will file the request with Horizon BCBSNJ.

Repayment: If the small employer group takes advantage of the emergency grace period, the group will have six months to repay the deferred health and/or dental premiums in full.

Large Employer: Horizon BCBSNJ will extend the health and/or dental premium payment grace period for qualifying large employer customers to 60 calendar days. A large employer qualifies only if it can demonstrate financial hardship directly caused by COVID-19. The emergency grace period may be applied to the April or May premium.

1. Groups must formally request a grace period extension by having either a company official or the group’s CPA complete an Attestation addressed to Horizon BCBSNJ. The attestation should be sent to your Savoy Large Group Account Manager for submission to Horizon BCBSNJ.

2. Upon receipt of the attestation letter, your Horizon account manager will release a Emergency Grace Period Deferral Agreement for completion by the group.

3. Upon receipt of all required documentation, Horizon will send an executed agreement to the Group and/or Broker.

Repayment: If the large employer group (51+) takes advantage of the emergency grace period, the group will have at least six months to repay the deferred health and/or dental premiums in full.

As a reminder, to be eligible to participate in the Emergency Premium Grace Period Deferral Program, all groups, regardless of size, must be in good standing as of March 1, 2020.

Testing and Treatment

Effective immediately and through June 30, 2020, all fully-insured members, including those covered through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, Individual and Small Group policies as well as members covered by the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP), will not pay any cost-share amounts (copay, coinsurance, deductibles) for covered services related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 for:

• All charges associated with a visit to an in-network or out-of-network primary care physician or urgent care center or Emergency Room (ER) for evaluation of symptoms identified as possible indicators of COVID-19 infection.

• All in-network and out-of-network labs for charges associated with the delivery of services connected to CDC-approved lab studies or tests for COVID-19 for members who know they have been exposed to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 or with symptoms identified by the CDC as possible indicators of COVID-19 infection.

• All covered benefits associated with inpatient and outpatient care when delivered by in-network professionals and facilities, and when your claim indicates treatment was related to COVID-19.

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived

Maintenance Medications

Waiving early refill limits on 30-day supply of maintenance medications

Telemedicine

Access to telehealth will be provided 24/7 and member cost share will be waived through June 13, 2020. In addition, 24/7 access to licensed nurses who can assess and assist members with symptoms that are consistent with suspected COVID-19 infection. Those service are available through the company’s free “Horizon Blue” app, the www.HorizonBlue.com online portal, or by phone at 1-888-624-3096

Carrier Resources

https://www.horizonblue.com/coronavirus-2019

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing approved by the FDA and performed in an approved health care setting are both covered with no cost sharing for members, for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the COVID-19 diagnostic testing, self-funded customers must also cover the COVID-19 antibody testing at no cost share for their covered employees and their families.

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Not applicable at this time

Exceptions

IBC is waiving prior authorizations for all in-network, inpatient acute care treatment for COVID-19. To further support members in getting access to care, IBC has expanded this change to waive all prior authorizations for in-network, acute inpatient admissions for any diagnosis from the emergency room. This change is being extended through June 4, 2020.

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

Independence will honor employer requests to continue coverage for employees furloughed or temporarily laid off as a result of impacts of COVID- 19. This exception applies to fully-insured and self-funded business. This exception is in effect until June 30, 2020. This exception will not be valid on or after July 1, 2020. Waiting periods for furlough or laid off EEs: Groups may waive the waiting period for employees with a lapse in coverage due to a furlough or lay off if the waiver policy is applied consistently to all eligible employees. Please refer to the 3/31/2020 INDEPENDENCE EDGE for additional details.

Premium Grace Periods

Fully-insured groups under 500 may elect to defer May premium payments. To be eligible, premium payments must be current through April. Deferred payment installments for May can be paid over three monthly installments for those who qualify. The signed Payment Agreement must be submitted to your Savoy sales team no later than 4:00PM on May 15, 2020.

Testing & Treatment

IBC is waving member cost-share for in-network, inpatient, acute care treatment of COVID-19. This means members will have no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 related hospitalizations, and for emergency room visits that result in a member being admitted for COVID-19 treatment. These changes are in effective from March 30, 2020 through May 31, 2020.

Maintenance Medications

Waiving early refill limits on 30-day supply of maintenance medications

Telemedicine

MDLive telemedicine benefit is available to all fully-insured groups April 1 to June 4, MDLive telemedicine benefit will be added to all fully-insured group customers that previously did not have this benefit. There will be no impact to premiums as a result of this addition, and member cost sharing will be waived during this time period.

Carrier Resources

https://news.ibx.com/coronavirus-2/

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

FDA approved antibody detection tests for COVID-19 will be covered at no cost-share to the member when ordered by a physician or other healthcare provider.

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Not applicable at this time

Exceptions

Not applicable at this time

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

SPD allows for extended coverage to furloughed employees. Contact your Sales Team for additional details.

Premium Grace Periods

In an effort to assist our employers during this unprecedented time, we will address all requests for additional grace period on a case-by-case basis. Employer groups should call the billing team at 833-639-2669, option 5.

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived 

Maintenance Medications

No waiver at this time

Telemedicine

Member cost-share waived, through 6/6/2020

Carrier Resources

https://membershealthplannj.com/resources/news/

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Not applicable at this time

Exceptions

Oscar is extending prior authorizations for any previously approved request to 180 days (from 60 days). For Durable Medical Equipment, the extension is to 90 days (from 30 days).

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

Not applicable at this time

Premium Grace Periods

NJ Premium Grace Periods:
• Extended time to pay premium for all of your Individual Clients.

For on-exchange subsidized clients who were in good standing as of 3/1/20 (paid through March), and who have already paid binder in full, Oscar is providing an extended grace period of 120 days. This would begin 4/1/20 or 5/1/20, based on your client’s missed payment date. For your unsubsidized clients in good standing as of 3/1/20, Oscar has extended the current 31-day grace period to 60 days.

• Flexible grace period payment for your Unsubsidized Individual Clients.

Clients who are unsubsidized (on or off exchange, receiving no subsidy) who take advantage of the grace period will have the option to pay unpaid premium in installments, instead of in full. For example, if six months remain on the policy after the grace period and your client has $300 in unpaid premium, they can pay their standard monthly premium plus $50 each month to be paid in full by the end of year. Please have members call their Concierge team at 855-672-2755 to set up a payment plan.

• Extended grace period duration for all of your Small Group Clients.

Small groups in good standing as of 3/1/20 are eligible for an emergency 60-day grace period. The grace period may be applied towards the April or May premium and will continue for 60 calendar days from that date. Note that all NJ small groups with anniversary dates between March through the end of NJ’s emergency order will be eligible for renewal, subject to applicable federal and state law.

• Flexible grace period payment for all of your Small Group Clients.

Oscar is providing a payment plan so that any unpaid premium can be paid in installments. For example, if six months are remaining on the policy, the group will have the option to pay the unpaid premium in six installments in addition to the regular monthly premium through the end of year, same as individual clients (for small groups with less than three months remaining on the policy, Oscar will allow for six months for the deferred premium to be paid). Please have groups call 1-855-672-2784 to set up a payment plan.

NY Premium Grace Periods:

• Extended grace period for Individual and Family Plans.

The grace period has been extended for an additional 30 days, meaning that your subsidized Individual and Family Plan clients now have an extended period where their claims will be paid before termination. Oscar will continue paying claims for the first 60 days of this period. This only applies to Individual and Family Plan subsidized members who entered the grace period as of April 1st (i.e., client was fully paid as of March). Those who entered prior to that date will be held to regular grace period conditions.

• Future eligibility for Individual and Family Plans.

Clients who do not pay all premiums in full during the entire 120-day period will not be eligible to re-enroll in a QHP unless they have an existing QLE.

• Documentation requirements for subsidized individuals.

While Oscar is not requiring proof of COVID-19 financial hardship for premium payment and grace period flexibilities for subsidized on-exchange individuals, everyone seeking to extend their grace period must call Concierge and request to do so.

• Extended grace period for small groups and non-subsidized individuals.

For clients who are fully paid as of March and can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, the grace period will be extended to 11:59PM on June 1, 2020 or the expiration of the applicable contractual grace period, whichever is later. Oscar will continue paying claims during this period.

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived 

Maintenance Medications

No waiver at this time

Telemedicine

Member Cost-Share Waived.

Carrier Resources

https://www.hioscar.com/covid19

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

For the duration of the emergency period, UnitedHealthcare will cover antibody detection tests (Serology – IGG/IGM/IGA for SARS-nCOV2 (COVID19) at no cost-share to the member when ordered by a physician or health care provider.

UnitedHealthcare strongly supports the need for reliable testing and encourages employers and members to consider tests that either have FDA approval or an emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Small Group New Business Submission Extensions

Exceptions

UHC is providing fully-insured Small Business and Key Accounts clients with a Special COVID-19 Enrollment Opportunity to enroll employees who did not previously enroll in coverage. The opportunity will allow employees who previously did not elect coverage for themselves (spouses, children) or waived coverage to enroll. The opportunity will extend from March 23 to April 13, 2020. The effective date of coverage will be April 1, 2020. Buy down to a leaner plan, employers have options to downgrade current plan design or add a leaner plan option. Please discuss available options with your Savoy sales team. Plan buy downs and additions to leaner plan design options are available through May 31, 2020.

Furlough/Layoffs Special Rules

Furloughed employees and those with reduction in hours will be temporarily allowed to stay on the medical plan premium provided payment continues and that the option to remain insured is offered to all impacted employees. Employees who are laid-off, should be terminated from the group health plan and offered State Continuation/COBRA. Upon rehire, wait period will be waived.

Premium Grace Periods

For insureds (individual /group) who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and need assistance, please contact Oxford using the following instructions:

For Groups (small and large) that are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and need assistance, they can request an extension or discuss alternative payment arrangements by calling Oxford Financial Operations team at 1-800-366-4148, TTY 71.

Individual insureds must confirm their intent for an extension of premium payment(s), to do so, please send an email to billing_team@uhc.com with one of the following three responses:

• I hereby attest that I am experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19 and would like to request a premium payment extension until <insert date>. I understand by doing so that I am contractually committed to pay premium at least through this date.

• I would like to remain on my current premium payment cycle.

• My intention is to have my current coverage lapse. or Policyholder Name, Policy Number, Requested Termination Date, Reason for Termination

Please note that this is simply an extension to pay premium for those in need and not a waiver or forgiveness of the premium.

IN-Network Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Member Cost-Share Waived for fully-insured commercial, All Savers, Medicaid and Medicare members

Maintenance Medications

Waiving early refill limits on 30-days supply maintenance medications.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is available at no cost. For groups enrolled on the Oxford platform, members should contact member services to request an online access code for telemedicine services. 

Carrier Resources

https://www.uhc.com/health-and-wellness/health-topics/covid-19

Executive Order #123

On April 9th, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 123, extending grace periods during which certain insurance companies, including health insurers, life insurers, and property and casualty insurers, cannot cancel policies for nonpayment of premiums.

As part of its passing, the following are being put in place:

  • Extends minimum grace periods: A minimum 60-day grace period will be required for health and dental insurance policies, and a minimum 90-day grace period will be required for life insurance, insurance premium-financing arrangements, and property and casualty insurance, which includes auto, homeowners, and renters insurance. Insurance companies will be required to notify policyholders of this emergency grace period and to waive certain late fees, interest, or other charges associated with delays in premium payments as directed by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance. Insurers will also be required to provide each policyholder with an easily readable written description of the terms of the extended grace period. The extended grace periods will not apply to employer-funded health plans, which under federal law, are regulated exclusively by the federal government.
  • Requires insurance companies to pay claims during the grace period: Insurance companies will be required to pay any claim incurred during the emergency grace period that would be covered under the policy. The Order further prohibits insurance companies from seeking recoupment of any claims paid during the emergency grace period based on non-payment of premiums.
  • Ensures that unpaid premiums are made payable over a lengthy period: To ensure that policyholders are not required to make a lump sum payment on unpaid premiums at the end of the grace period, any unpaid premium will be amortized over the remainder of the policy term or a period of up to 12 months, as appropriate and as directed by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance.

(Published by NJ.gov on 4/9/2020)

Layoff vs. Furlough

What is the difference between layoff and furlough?
Generally, when the employer is furloughing employees this is a situation where the employer/employee relationship is not severed. Conversely, when the employer is laying off employees, the employment relationship is terminated.

Under a layoff, will I lose health benefits?
Under a layoff, the employment relationship is terminated therefore the employee loses eligibility under the plan. This is a COBRA triggering event for the health benefits (medical, dental, vision, health FSA, etc.) Loss of eligibility is also a qualifying special enrollment event for the individual market.

If COBRA is elected and the person does not enroll in individual coverage, they cannot do so until the next annual open enrollment for the marketplace.

If I am laid-off, can I enroll in an individual plan instead of COBRA?
Yes. Loss of eligibility is also a qualifying special enrollment event for the individual market.
If COBRA is elected and the person does not enroll in individual coverage, they cannot do so until the next annual open enrollment for the marketplace. You are “stuck” with COBRA, for the remainder of the COBRA period, until the next annual marketplace open enrollment or until you become eligible for new group health plan.

IMPORTANT: The employer should clearly advise that an individual who elects COBRA will have to exhaust it before becoming eligible for Individual coverage and will in essence be “stuck” until COBRA runs out or the next Open Enrollment.  That means they also cannot apply for a subsidy until the next Federal Open Enrollment.  An individual obtaining a subsidy will not harm the employer if the individual is not working.

If I enroll in an individual plan, can I receive a subsidy to help pay for the cost of the plan?
In order to qualify for a subsidy (premium tax credit) there are certain criteria you must meet; most notable is subsidy eligibility is based on income.

Who pays for COBRA coverage?
The employee generally pays the full cost of the insurance premiums. The law allows the employer (COBRA administrator) to charge up to 102 percent of the premium to cover administrative costs.

Employers can choose but are not required to subsidize COBRA for terminated employees.

Under furlough, will I lose health benefits?
All eligible employees are still entitled to benefits while on furlough. If eligibility for health care benefits is maintained during a furlough, the employer can collect the employee’s share of premium to maintain the coverage during a paid or unpaid leave of absence.

How do I pay my employee contribution if I am on furlough?
Premiums may be collected (as determined by the employer’s policy) in one of the following manners:

  • Catch up. Some employers choose to keep employees on leave enrolled in their benefits until they return to active work, and then recoup those payments at the time the employees return to work.  If there is a fairly large premium payment due at the time the employees return to work following the leave, it may be necessary for the employer to take deductions over several payroll periods.  In some cases, state wage and hour laws will limit the amount that can be deducted from pay (thus the cap may be necessary).
  • Pre-pay. If the leave is scheduled in advance, and the employee remains eligible for benefits during the leave, the employer may collect the employee’s share of premium for the rest of the plan year from the employee’s pre-tax earnings before the start of the leave.  However, if the leave is anticipated to span more than one plan year, then the employer cannot collect the premiums for the latter part of the leave since this would violate the cafeteria plan regulations prohibiting deferred compensation.
  • Pay-as-you-go. During the leave, the employer may require the employee to pay the employee’s portion of the premiums to maintain coverage.  Such payments would generally be on an after-tax basis, by remitting payment to the employer, and the employer could require payment no more frequently than regular deduction frequencies for employees during periods of active work.  Most employers collect premiums from employees on leave of absence on a monthly basis.

In cases where there is paid leave, the employer may collect those premiums through salary reductions under the cafeteria plan.  However, for periods of unpaid leave, where the “pay as you go” method for collection is utilized, the employee would remit those amounts to the employer on a post-tax basis.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

I heard that the new Act includes tax credits. For what size employers does this apply and what is the credit?
First, most importantly, be sure to familiarize yourself with the requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provisions. You can do so by referring to the chart we have made available in the COVID-19 Resources. Affected employers are employers with 1–499 employees.

Specifically addressing the tax credit, The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor) announced in a News Release on March 20th, that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.

Eligible employers will be able to claim these credits based on qualifying leave they provide between the effective date, April 2nd and December 31, 2020. Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals based on similar circumstances.

The chart goes into detail about the credit for Paid Sick leave. Note: Eligible Employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the Act.

Health insurance costs are also included in the credit.

Employers face no payroll tax liability. And Self-employed individuals receive an equivalent credit.

The next logical question is how quickly will the employer be reimbursed?

If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and childcare leave paid, the IRS Notice released on 3/20 addresses Prompt Payment for the Cost of Providing Leave.

When employers pay their employees, they are required to withhold from their employees’ paychecks federal income taxes and the employees’ share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. The employers then are required to deposit these federal taxes, along with their share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, with the IRS and file quarterly payroll tax returns on Form 941 with the IRS.

Under guidance that will be released later this week, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick or childcare leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and childcare leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS.

If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and childcare leave paid, employers will be able file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less. The details of this new, expedited procedure are expected to be announced this week.


female business owner holding up and open sign

What Types of Commercial Insurance Does My Small Business Need?

Believe it or not, roughly 99.9 percent of the businesses operating in the United States are small businesses.

Those small businesses serve almost every industry you can imagine. However, they all have one thing in common: they need commercial insurance.

The risks that each small business faces differ based on their industry, their location, and their size.

There are some policies that almost every business needs to be fully protected.

Before you can invest in coverage, you need to understand the types of commercial insurance available to you.

Here are some absolute must-have policies every business owner needs.

General Liability Insurance

Accidents happen all the time and you can never predict how bad they’ll be.

If a client or customer gets injured on your property, they can sue you for the cost of any medical treatments and expenses incurred from their recovery.

If their personal property gets damaged because of your work, you could also be liable for those repairs.

General liability insurance helps protect you from those lawsuits.

If something happens and your business gets sued for damages relating to a qualified incident, your insurance policy helps pay for the legal fees and settlement amounts.

Keep in mind that it only covers you up to the limit of the policy.

You must pay any remaining expenses out-of-pocket.

Ask your insurance agent about your risks and let them help you determine how much coverage you really need.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Unfortunately, your personal car insurance policy isn’t enough to protect you on the road if you’re using your car for business purposes.

Worse, the insurance company may deny a claim entirely if they find out you’re using the car for business.

That’s where a commercial auto insurance policy can help. It protects you and anyone who uses the car for business.

It’s not a substitute for traditional car insurance.

If you’re using your personal vehicle, you’ll need both policies to stay fully protected and you’ll want coverage for every commercial car in your fleet.

Property Insurance

Owning your business’s building is a huge investment. If something happens, you’re responsible for the full cost of repairs.

Property insurance protects everything inside the building, the building itself, and the grounds the building is on.

If someone vandalizes your property or a fire tears through the first floor of the building, the policy will help cover the damage.

This is one of the types of commercial insurance that can help keep your operating budget in good shape.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

As an employer, you’re responsible for your employees’ safety anytime they’re at work or performing work-related duties off-site.

If they’re injured as a result of their duties, you’re responsible for paying for their medical treatments.

Workers’ compensation coverage helps protect you and your employees if they’re injured on the job.

The policy covers the cost of their medical treatment and even provides them with a portion of their regular income during recovery.

It’s also a legally required policy for most businesses that hire even part-time employees.

The best thing you can do is invest in a policy before you hire your first employee.

This way, you’ll have protection from the very beginning.

Business Interruption Insurance

What would happen to your business and your employees if you had to close your doors for a few months?

Chances are that it is hard to stay afloat or encourage your employees to stay and not start looking for a new job immediately.

Business interruption insurance helps cover the loss of profits, pays for your employees’ lost wages, and makes it easier for businesses to survive the temporary closure.

It’s a great supplement to property insurance which would help cover the cost of the physical repairs.

Location-Specific Insurance

Property insurance doesn’t cover every type of damage and different locations face different risks.

For example, if your building is next to a major waterway or on a floodplain, you’ll want to invest in commercial flood insurance.

If your building is near a fault line, you may want to invest in earthquake insurance. It all depends on where you’re located.

The best thing you can do is discuss your concerns with your insurance agent.

They’ll be able to look at the risk factors for your building and find the right supplemental policies to keep you safe.

Data Breach Insurance

Almost every business stores some sensitive information on computers.

This can be anything from credit card numbers to clients’ personal contact information.

Unfortunately, that information isn’t always secure.

If someone were to hack into your computer system, that information could get intercepted.

Cybercrime is on the rise and businesses of all sizes are at risk every single day.

In fact, more than 20 percent of small businesses get hacked every year.

Data breach insurance helps protect you from damage caused by cybercriminals.

It gives you the resources you need to recover that sensitive information and establish better safety measures against future attacks.

Life Insurance

As a business owner, the success of your company is on your shoulders.

You’re in charge of its growth and future plans.

Think about what would happen if you weren’t around to make sure it succeeds.

Would the company have enough capital to survive on its own merits?

Would your family and loved ones still have the resources they need to make ends meet?

Life insurance policies allow you to protect both your loved ones and your company’s future.

If you pass away, the policy can give your beneficiaries the money they need to preserve your legacy.

Get the Right Types of Commercial Insurance

Every business is unique.

They face different risks and have different needs.

That means that the types of commercial insurance right for your business may not be the same as others in your industry.

Contact us to schedule an appointment with our experienced insurance agents.

We’ll help you find the best coverage options for your business and your needs.


a hand holding a lit cigarette and breaking it in half

Using Group Benefits & Incentives to Quit Smoking & Vaping

It’s no secret that it is difficult to quit smoking.

A habit that kills over 480,000 each year in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s something that needs to be stopped.

Alongside premature deaths, numerous tobacco-related diseases affect millions of people every year; including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Emphysema
  • Various cancer, including lung cancer
  • Diabetes

When you are running a business that has smokers within it, it’s at risk.

Not only will you see many absences because of related conditions, but a decrease in productivity as employees will be distracted with smoking breaks throughout the day.

So, how can you combat this?

Research undertaken by professors at Ohio State University has found that employers can save an average of $5,816 for every employee that quits smoking.

Savings that come from lower healthcare costs, prevented premature deaths and an increase in workplace productivity, this along with saving your employee’s lives make it well worth it.

Although over 50% of people in the US try to quit smoking every year, and there has been a significant drop in the amount of people that smoke over the years, the success rate is only 7.2%.

Source: Statista

To help increase this, there are certain group benefits and incentives that businesses can offer to give their workers the push that they need to try and quit.

These resources are incredibly beneficial, from both financial and health perspectives as aforementioned.

Although these financial incentives might seem expensive in the short term, the end result makes it more than worth the initial investment.

Showcasing how your business can help to transform your worker’s lives, these incentives illustrate the influence of your policies.

The Rise in Vaping

However, it’s not only tobacco that is popular in the US.

Some favor vaping, as they believe that it’s the lesser evil out of the two habits.

With an increase of 50% between 2011 and 2018 that vape according to the World Health Organization, it’s a habit that many younger adults are starting as they believe that it’s less dangerous than its counterpart.

However, according to several sources, including the CDC, vaping has been linked to an outbreak in lung injury.

With a sharp increase in visits to the emergency department across the states (with over 60 confirmed deaths, including 1 in New Jersey), certain employers have taken action by banning the products in their workplaces.

Along with workplace bans, several states have issued both temporary and permanent sales bans or restrictions on vaping products – including New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island.

These smoke-free indoor air laws ban vaping in areas where smoking is also banned.

However, not all workplaces have policies that align with the ban.

Which faces employers with whether they will allow vaping in the workplace or if they will ban it.

An Alternative to Quitting Smoking

Many people across the country are opting for vaping as a way of quitting smoking.

Stepping away from the traditional cessation techniques of nicotine patches and gum, they believe that it will help them to break the habit.

As it’s aimed as a way of reducing the amount of nicotine over time, many e-cigarette companies argue that it’s effective.

However, as vaping is believed to be just as harmful according to research, it’s clear that this could just be their way of continuing their habit.

Conclusive evidence of the effectiveness of vaping as a cessation tool is still underway.

How to Choose an Incentive

When choosing an incentive to encourage employees to quit smoking, you need to think about which ones will engage them.

For example, you could give them the following group benefits:

  • Guaranteed bonuses every few months
  • Discounts on health insurance premiums - something that 16% of employers do according to the 2018 Employee Benefits Survey Report
  • Free cessation aids – such as pharmacotherapy or nicotine-replacement therapy
  • A wellness program - including access to an on-site (or external) health clinic, fitness area and personal coaching
  • Ensuring that all treatments and medications under the U.S. Public Health Service Guideline are covered
  • Eliminate cost-sharing on counseling and medications

How To Create Effective Anti-Smoking Policies

Before rolling out the policies, you need to consider exactly what they include.

For example, will you implement a surcharge the moment that an employee smokes a cigarette outside your office or will you give them a warning before fining them?

You also must consider if your policies will solely include tobacco, or whether they will include vaping.

If you want these bans to be applicable in the long term, you must bring in measures that ensure they stay actioned – such as making your employees take saliva or blood tests.

Any smoking cessation program should be crafted so it covers every psychological, emotional and physical aspects that come with trying to quit.

Giving your employees the right support and resources, they’ll be more likely to stick to it.

If there are any changes to the policies, you’ll also have to communicate them in advance and clearly to your employees.

Anti-Smoking Policies You Can Implement

  • Prohibit smoking in the workplace and on your entire work campus. (alternatively, you can limit it to only outside your building)
  • Publicize group benefits and incentives, whilst ensuring that your business’ health plan includes them
  • Offer several types of modalities
  • Encourage employees to take regular Health Risk Appraisals
  • Educate employees on the risks and promote the incentives
  • Actively encourage employees to participate in events such as World No Tobacco Day and the Great American Smokeout

Acts That Align With Anti-Smoking Policies

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) - under this act, employers are legally allowed to impose surcharges on smokers. However, the act also discloses that as an employer, you should offer cessation resources to your employees (such as the Freedom From Smoking cessation program offered by the American Lung Association).
  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA) - under the ACA, employers can charge employees up to 50% more to cover them with health insurance. However, the act also requires employer-sponsored health insurance to directly cover smoking cessation.

How To Measure the Success of Group Benefits and Incentives

You might wonder, how do I measure the success of the group benefits and incentives to quit smoking?

And while the financial return on investment will not be visible for a while after they are implemented, the physical success of them will be transparent almost straight away.

Not only will you see an increase in productivity in the workplace, but a decrease in absences related to smoking.

Before settling on policies, you must look at these potential benefits and weigh them up against the cost of delivering cessation programs and other incentives.

Ultimately, it’s your choice whether you offer these or not.

But the benefits are undeniable and should not be ignored.


buying business insurance

7 Tips for Buying Business Insurance for Startups

Each year, more an average of 627,000 new businesses open their doors. No matter what industry they’re in, they all need comprehensive business insurance in place.

Buying business insurance can feel complicated, especially for new business owners. Luckily, it’s easier than you think! You just need to focus on your business’s needs, your budget, and your overall concerns.

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t panic. Here are a few simple tips to help you find the best coverage for your new business.

1. Figure Out Your Business’s Risks

Every business has unique risks based on its location, the industry, and its size. This means you can’t just buy a general business insurance policy and deem it “good enough.”

You need to sit down and think about the risks your business faces each day.

For example, if you provide services to clients off-site, you’ll want additional liability coverage to protect your team while they’re working. If you use a car for business purposes, you must invest in commercial auto insurance to protect yourself on the road.

Once you have a list of risks, look for insurance policies that protect against those risks. You can always ask an insurance agent for advice on the best policies for your needs.

2. Shop Around with Multiple Providers

When you’re first starting out, it’s tempting to buy the first insurance policy that fits your needs and your budget. Doing so isn’t always in your best interest.

You need to shop around with multiple providers to find the best options for your business.

Insurance providers offer different types and amounts of coverage at different prices. This means you could end up paying more for less coverage if you go with the first provider you find.

When in doubt, shop around.

Get quotes from different providers and don’t be afraid to ask questions when you speak to their representatives. Remember, you need to make an informed decision and if the provider isn’t willing to answer your questions thoroughly, they will not be helpful if you need to file a claim.

While shopping around, don’t be afraid to ask about discounts on coverage. Some providers offer discounts if you’re buying multiple types of insurance through their agency. They won’t advertise this — you must ask when getting quotes.

3. Go Through Each Policy in Detail

Once you have a few quotes on-hand, take the time to go over each policy. Look at the types of coverage and coverage amounts each policy provides. If there’s anything that’s unclear, call the provider and ask for clarification.

You need to know what each policy covers and what they don’t. If there are gaps, you can then keep shopping for more comprehensive coverage or can invest in supplemental policies to keep your company safe.

4. Buy More Coverage Than You Think You Need

When shopping for insurance, it’s easy to think the minimum amount of coverage is more than enough. After all, your business could be up and running for years before you have to file a claim.

However, you never know when you’ll need to use that coverage.

Depending on the type of incident you’re dealing with, that small amount of coverage may not be enough. This means you’ll have to pay the rest out-of-pocket, putting a strain on your business’s operating budget.

If you can, buy more coverage than you think you’ll need. This way, you’ll have coverage, no matter how big or small the claim is.

5. Always Pay Attention to the Deductible

No matter what type of insurance you buy, you’ll always have to pay some amount out-of-pocket if you file a claim. This amount is your insurance deductible and it will vary from provider to provider.

Typically, the smaller your deductible is, the higher your monthly principal payment will be. You can lower your monthly insurance payments by increasing the deductible. This can help you get higher quality coverage without increasing your monthly spending.

Just be careful. The last thing you want to do is make the deductible so high that you can’t afford to pay it when you need to file a claim.

Think about your overall budget and choose a deductible that’s reasonable for your financial situation.

6. Don’t Choose Coverage on Price Alone

When it comes to business insurance, you often get what you pay for. This means choosing the cheapest coverage may not be the best decision for your business.

Look at the price as a single factor when reviewing quotes and coverage options. Use it to guide your decision, but don’t base that decision solely on price alone.

Consider the total coverage amounts, the reputation of the insurance provider, and how comfortable you feel when you speak with the insurance agent. Remember, the agent is your main point of contact whether you’re filing a claim or reevaluating your coverage options.

You want to choose a provider that fits your needs and your budget, but they need to be one you’re confident in working with.

7. Reevaluate Your Coverage Needs Annually

Your business will change over time and so will your insurance needs. Unfortunately, the policy you buy when you first open for business may not be enough after a year or two.

The best thing you can do is to review your coverage needs every year.

Call your insurance agent and discuss your business’s growth and your changing concerns. If you have huge developments throughout the year, let your agent know as soon as they happen.

No business owner wants to file a claim only to discover that they’re under-insured.

Buying Business Insurance Doesn’t Have to Be Tough

As a business owner, you want to protect your new business completely. Buying business insurance is the best way to protect your finances and your company.

Take the time to think about the coverage you need, how much you’re willing to pay, and what you want the policy to do.

Once you’re ready, contact us and discuss your company’s unique insurance needs. Our dedicated agents will help you find the best policy for your business, whether you’re just starting up or have been in business for a few years.


Flooded-home-with-animals

Commercial Flood Insurance for NJ Property Owners

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused $70.2 billion in economic damage to New Jersey. Thousands of businesses were closed for renovations, and hundreds never reopened.

Most of these businesses weren't prepared for a storm of this severity. Many of them didn't have commercial flood insurance to help recoup their losses. With no money to rebuild, they were forced to shut down.

Don't let that be you. Floods can happen anywhere but are more common in coastal states like New Jersey.

If your business doesn't have flood insurance, now is the time to get it. Continue reading to find out what flood insurance is, what it covers, and why it matters.

What is a Flood?

A flood is what happens when water accumulates where it isn't supposed to be. This can be from rising tides or overflowing river banks. It can also occur when drain systems get clogged and a lot of rainfalls.

What is Commercial Flood Insurance?

Commercial flood insurance protects businesses against flood damage. It can help cover the costs of building damage or loss of company assets if a flood occurs.

How important is it to have? It could be the difference between permanently closing your doors or rebuilding. It is an invaluable protection for your company, especially if you're in a high-risk flood zone.

Types of Commercial Flood Insurance

There are three types of commercial flood insurance available. The first two are the most commonly used. The third option is an add-on for businesses at a high-risk of flooding or with more than $500,000 in assets.

Standard Policy

The standard policy is for businesses in high flood risk areas. It is also for companies in undetermined risk areas.

With a standard policy, businesses must insure their building and it's contents under two separate policies. Each of the two policies can be for up to $500,000. Deductible options range up to $50,000 per policy.

Preferred Risk Policy

If your business is lucky enough to be in a low-to-moderate flood risk area, it qualifies for a preferred risk policy. These policies have the lowest premiums. It also allows for the building and contents to be insured on the same policy.

Supplemental Policy

Supplemental policies are an extra coverage option for anyone with commercial flood insurance. Most companies don't need it.

Your company might need it if they're in a high-risk flood area. Companies whose building and contents are worth substantially more than $500,000 could also use a supplemental policy.

Does Regular Commercial Insurance Cover Flooding?

No. This is a common misconception that costs New Jersey business owner's fortunes. Regular commercial insurance policies don't cover flooding.

These policies might cover certain water-related damages, however. Usually, you're covered from any water damage that comes from above but not from below.

This means you'd be covered if snow caused your roof to cave in. You wouldn't be covered if a storm surge caused waters to enter your first floor.

How Much Does Commercial Flood Insurance Cost?

The price of commercial flood insurance varies based on certain factors. Your building's age, height, and condition are large factors. The value of assets insured may also affect cost.

The greater the risk of flooding, the higher the insurance premium. Someone in a moderate risk area will pay less than someone in a high-risk area.

The company itself will be a factor. Different companies may have different rates. They might place a higher emphasis on one consideration over another, which can affect the price.

Whether you buy flood insurance through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NIFIP) or a private insurer is another consideration.

How to Choose a Commercial Flood Insurance Policy

When purchasing flood insurance, there are two ways to go about it. You can buy the insurance directly through FEMA's program, or you can go through a private insurer.

If you're looking to buy commercial flood insurance for your business, you want to know how to choose the right policy. Look at the key considerations below to get a better understanding of how to choose the right policy.

  • What flood zone is your company in?
  • What is the value of your assets?
  • Which companies serve your location?
  • Do you need a company that offers supplemental coverage?
  • Which companies offer the best rates for the coverage you need?
  • Do you prefer to work with an insurance agent in person or are you fine with doing business over the phone?
  • Is it possible to work with the same private insurer holding your other insurance policies?

You'll also want to look at online reviews when finding an insurance provider. If you've never worked with a company before, seeing how other customers were treated is the next best thing.

You can search online to find real customer testimonials and reviews. If you find nothing during your online search, you should be wary. Little to no online presence is a huge red flag for scams.

Things To Know About Flood Insurance

Most businesses should have flood insurance. Even in low-to-moderate flood risk areas, this insurance policy can help protect the future of your business. There are a few things you need to know about these policies, however.

  • You must have flood insurance for thirty days before you can receive coverage
  • Flood insurance doesn't cover earth-related disasters (even if there is flooding involved)
  • Policies cover items based on the actual value, including depreciation
  • Flood insurance doesn't cover any damage sustained before the flood

For More Information

Still have questions about commercial flood insurance? Looking to start a flood policy for your business? Contact us today and one of our associates will be happy to assist you.


Chalk-drawn-home-with-money

What to Know About Renter's Insurance Policies: Do I Need One?

Do you rent instead of own your home? About 34% of households are renter-occupied, so you're not alone.

You don't need a homeowner's insurance policy since you don't own the structure.

But you do need to protect your personal belongings in case of a natural disaster, break-in, fire, or other damage.

Figuring out what to know about renter's insurance isn't easy, especially if you're moving out on your own for the first time.

We've put together a guide for renter's insurance to help you understand what it is and why you need it.

What Renter's Insurance Covers

Renter's insurance is similar to homeowners insurance, but it's designed to cover your personal belongings and liability only.

It doesn't provide coverage for the structure since you're not the owner and aren't responsible for it.

Policies typically cover three things: possessions, liability and alternative living arrangements.

The policy covers the cost of your belongings if they're damaged, stolen, or vandalized by covered events.

You'll receive compensation up to your policy limit for loss of property.

It also usually covers damage to other people's homes when it comes from your home.

If your plumbing breaks and leaks into your neighbor's apartment, your policy usually provides coverage.

Covered events may vary slightly by policy, but they typically include weather-related damage, fire, theft, vandalism and damage from appliances.

Renters policies usually cover the cost of your possessions if they're stolen from your vehicle.

It won't cover any damage to your car from the break-in.

That would fall under your auto insurance policy.

You'll also have coverage for your belongings when you're away from home if they're damaged or stolen by covered events.

If your laptop is stolen from your hotel room, it should be covered.

The liability portion covers you if someone gets hurt while at your apartment.

If you're at fault for that injury, the injured person can file a claim and get the injury costs covered by your renter's insurance.

The liability part also covers you if you're sued because of an injury.

Alternative living arrangement compensation pays for you to live somewhere else if your rented home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered event.

If a natural disaster of fire damages your home so you can't live in it, this part of the policy will cover your alternative living arrangements.

The compensation you receive depends on how much coverage you choose and the nature of the loss.

What Renters Insurance Doesn't Cover

When learning what to know about renter's insurance, it's important to know what's covered, and what's not.

Not every type of damage falls under the coverage.

While weather-related damage is covered, any natural disasters aren't.

That includes flooding, earthquakes and sinkholes.

You can purchase a separate flood or earthquake insurance policy to receive compensation for those damages if you live in an area at a higher risk for them.

You may also need extra coverage for belongings of very high value.

This includes high-value art, jewelry and antiques.

Most policies have a limit on individual items. If you own anything that's worth more than the limit, you'll want additional coverage in the form of a rider.

Why You Need It

Your landlord carries insurance coverage for the building structure, but that policy doesn't provide any coverage for your items.

Say your neighbor starts a kitchen fire while cooking dinner that spreads to your apartment.

The landlord's policy covers damages of the building's structure, but it doesn't cover any of your belongings that burn or have smoke or water damage.

Some landlords require renter's insurance.

If yours doesn't, it's still a smart decision.

If you don't take out a policy, you have no coverage for your belongings.

Your landlord's insurance policy won't cover your damaged or stolen belongings if a loss happens.

You'll simply be without everything you lose.

When you start calculating the cost to replace everything in your home, you realize how financially devastating that would be.

Furniture, kitchenware, electronics, appliances and clothes are just the basics and would cost thousands of dollars to replace.

You're also providing yourself financial protection for liability claims.

It covers your legal defense, which gives you peace of mind should a liability issue happen.

Calculating Your Insurance Needs

You get to decide how much coverage you want to purchase through your policy.

Remember, the policy only pays up to the limit even if your belongings are worth more.

Most people have over $20,000 worth of belongings.

You may have much more than that.

Do an inventory of your belongings to estimate how much you own.

Go through each room and write down everything you have along with an estimated value for it.

You also must decide how you want to value your property for the policy.

Replacement cost means the policy will pay you for the amount it would cost to replace the items now.

Actual cash value takes into consideration depreciation based on how old the item is.

You won't get as much to replace a 5-year-old TV as you would a 1-year-old TV because the older TV has lost value.

You'll pay more for a replacement cost policy, but it may be worth the extra cost.

If your belongings are older, you may not get enough money to replace everything at today's cost if you have an actual cash value policy.

Discount Options

Renter's insurance rates vary by state.

The rates also vary depending on the amount of coverage you need.

On average, a policy only costs around $16 per month.

Statistics show that the average premium rates for renters insurance decreased by 2.7% in 2017.

It also decreased the two years prior to that.

Rates fluctuate, but renter's insurance is generally an affordable coverage and well worth what you pay if you need to file a claim.

You can make it more affordable with discounts.

Most insurance companies give you a discount for having multiple policies with them.

If you also have auto insurance, an umbrella policy, or other types of insurance, see if you can get a lower rate by moving all the policies to one company.

You may also get a discount if your rented home has certain security and safety features.

That includes deadbolt locks, smoke detectors and security systems.

What to Know About Renters Insurance

With what to know about renter's insurance under your belt, you're ready to protect your home and belongings adequately.

The right coverage helps cover the costs of your lost belonging and protects you with liability coverage.

Do you need help getting the correct coverage in place?

Contact us today and we can help you get covered.