12 black and white drawings of businesspeople

What Is EPLI Insurance and How Can It Protect Your Business?

Did you know that a business is three times more likely to be sued by an employee than experience a fire? Most employee lawsuits (41.5%) target small private companies with less than a hundred employees.

The average cost of employment liability rose by 26% within three years. If a business loses the case, the average settlement cost is around $217,000.

Out-of-court settlements are much cheaper averaging about $75,000.

However, seven out of ten businesses still don’t understand the importance of EPLI insurance.

The insurance policy proves useful in dealing with employee-related lawsuits. In this post, we explain what EPLI insurance is and how it can protect your business.

What Is EPLI Insurance?

EPLI is covered under the equal employment opportunity commission enforced laws. All employees are protected against discrimination in every aspect of employment.

But over the years, internal lawsuits keep rising, making it risky and costly for most business owners. Employment practices liability insurance is a policy put in place to shield employers from such lawsuits.

Businesses that adopt this insurance policy get a better understanding of their rights, and the employer can follow a lawsuit with a counter lawsuit if they deem it necessary.

There are many forms of EPLI claims. But some are more common and you might have seen them at least once. Here is something to look out for to avoid your business getting sued.

General Discrimination

During the hiring process, avoid asking for family medical history. Under the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Information Act, the law prohibits the use of genetic data to approve or reject an applicant’s employment status.

Illegal Background Checks

The Fair Credit Reporting Act ensures there is privacy, accuracy, and fairness of consumer credit bureau file data. Background checks are common during the hiring process.

However, the employer must follow the Act when conducting checks on potential employees.

Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act came into existence in 1964. It requires all employers to let expectant women continue working for as long as they can.

The law is also clear that a job applicant is not to be turned down for employment because of their pregnancy.

Unpaid Internship Programs

Sometimes, there is no apparent difference between an intern and an employee. Before starting the internship program, invite an expert for a review.

The expert checks if your program follows the requirements put in place by the Department of Labor for internships.

Recreational Marijuana Consumption

The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in New Jersey has brought more freedom. Employers need to review relevant laws before dismissing a potential employee.

The business should also focus on creating favorable drug policies. These policies should focus on keeping the workplace safe. Remember to keep up with new legislation regarding marijuana usage in your location of business.

What Does Employment Practices Liability Insurance Cover

Legal action against a company is quite expensive even if you win the lawsuit. The size of the business doesn't matter with employment lawsuits.

But smaller businesses are more likely to be affected since they cannot keep the services of lawyers. As a small business owner, EPLI insurance is the safest bet for protecting your business.

The insurance company advises the business on the steps to take to reduce the risk of employee lawsuits.

Employment practice liability insurance is typically not covered by basic liability insurance. You must purchase it as a stand-alone policy or add it to your business insurance or homeowner's insurance.

The insurance covers legal costs, judgments, and settlements that result from the following claims.

Workplace Sexual Harassment

Following the rise of the #MeToo Movement, there has been a spike in workplace-related sexual harassment lawsuits. The claims account for 31.7% of all employment lawsuits, inclusive of LGBT-based charges.

The ELPI insurance is not limited to the business as an entity. If a director, management team, or employee receives a sexual harassment lawsuit, the policy covers any financial losses resulting from the proceedings.

Wrongful Termination Case

Employee wrongful termination charges fall under civil lawsuits. It allows employees to seek compensation for losses incurred because of the termination.

The EEOC views wrongful termination as some sort of discrimination. But it’s challenging to prove since an employer can end a contract at any time and for reasons only known to them.

To resolve future wrongful termination charges, our EPLI insurance provider vets the company’s layoff process, ensuring it is in order.

Retaliation Claims

In 2020, half of the total claims sent to the EEOC involved retaliation lawsuits. Employers lost half of the lawsuits with around 10% of cases costing over one million dollars.

But the settlement fee is directly affected by the size of the company and strength of evidence, among other factors.

Retaliation charges range from economic and non-economic damages to punitive damages. The cost of the lawsuit and attorney’s fee are some other charges you can incur.

Most small businesses don’t have $1 million for settling claims, so purchasing the EPLI insurance policy covers your business against costly retaliation claims.

Discrimination Lawsuits

The majority of workplace lawsuits fall under discrimination. There are specific laws put in place to protect employees against any form of discrimination in the workplace.

An out–of–court discrimination settlement will set a business back around $40,000. Employment practice liability insurance is responsible for covering all forms of discrimination charges brought against your business.

The rate of employment lawsuits and the cost of settlements keep on rising. You should protect your business against costly settlement fees.

What EPLI Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Though the insurance policy offers great protection against most employment lawsuits, it doesn't cover everything. For example, if a computer breach results in privacy violations, EPLI insurance may not cover it.

Here are other scenarios that EPLI doesn't cover.

• Punitive damages resulting from criminal activities

• Intentional or malicious acts

• Claims arising under worker’s compensation law

• Bodily injuries

• Property damage

Secure Your Business With the Best EPLI Insurance Agency in New Jersey

As more businesses grasp the extent of employment lawsuits, they are looking to EPLI insurance. Adding an extra layer of protection to your business is never a bad idea.

Especially for small businesses who can get crippled by heavy attorney and settlement costs. Central Jersey is an insurance associate firm that offers premium insurance services for business owners and homeowners.

Contact us today to discuss our ELPI insurance policy. We will help you learn how you can set up policies to avoid employment lawsuits.


whole life insurance document next to paper cut outs of a family

What Are the Benefits of Whole Life Insurance?

What are the benefits of whole life insurance? And how do they compare to those of term life insurance? If you've been wondering about this yourself, prepare to have your questions answered.

Below is a comprehensive guide on why whole life insurance is a good idea for everyone. For starters, it's the most secure way to make sure your loved ones are taken care of after you pass.

And even before you're gone, you yourself can reap its benefits. These include possible dividends, tax reductions, and retirement funding.

Ready to learn all about it? Read on to discover even more about the amazing benefits of whole life insurance.

What Is Whole Life Insurance vs Term Life Insurance?

The term whole life insurance means that the policy lasts until the policyholder dies. No matter how many years there are until that day, the policy won't expire. The only way the policy can be canceled is if the insured fails to pay their premiums or if they voluntarily cancel it.

Alternatively, term life insurance policies do expire. They last only until their specific term is up. After that, they're either renewed or they end.

However, the terms and conditions of the policy, including premiums, can change with each renewal. Usually, this means that the premiums increase.

Now, let's take a look at the specific advantages of whole life insurance.

1. Whole Life Insurance Never Expires

We mentioned this one already, but the really important part is that you'll never be without coverage.

For instance, when term life insurance is about to expire, you must consider your insurance options all over again. Your renewal offer might now be more than you can afford or otherwise unsatisfactory. If so, you'll have to compare quotes from other companies.

This could plausibly take so long that your current term expires. Then, you (and your surviving loved ones) are left without coverage if anything happens to you.

This may be a rare, worst-case scenario, but it's still possible.

2. The Cost of Premiums Doesn't Change

As mentioned, your renewal offer premiums for your term life insurance will increase as you get older. And even if you shop around for the best deal, premiums for the elderly are always expensive.

This is arguably the number one advantage of whole life insurance. Your premiums will never, ever go up. If you start paying whole life insurance premiums in your twenties, you'll pay the same for premiums when you're 75.

For this reason, whole life insurance is much more affordable overall. Even better, it's more affordable when you need it the most—that is, in your old age.

3. There's Less Hassle

You can tell by the examples above that term life insurance is a big hassle every time you have to renew. That's not the case with whole life insurance.

Since your whole life policy never changes and you never have to renew it, you don't have to worry about it, either. All you must do is make sure you keep paying your premiums.

4. Know That Your Loved Ones Are Taken Care Of

All the terms and conditions of your whole life policy, including what you leave to your loved ones, never change unless you decide so. And they never expire or lapse as long as you pay your premiums. Thus, you can rest knowing your surviving family members are well taken care of on the day of your passing.

5. Tax-Free Benefits

Amazingly, the money left to your loved ones through your whole life policy is completely tax-free. Your survivors will get exactly the amount that you set aside for them. Conversely, the taxation of term life insurance benefits can be an enormous problem for your surviving family.

6. Possible Dividends

Some insurance companies also award you with annual dividend payments. You can use these to invest more in your policy or for personal use.

7. Your Policy Has Cash Value

Now, let's talk about how the insured can benefit now, before they pass. The following benefits all have to do with the fact that your whole life policy builds cash value as you add to it. This is not true of term life insurance.

Take Out a Loan

Once the cash value is built up enough, you can borrow some for use at any time, for any reason. It's an easy loan to get approved for too because you're borrowing from yourself. Expect a very favorable interest rate as well.

Tax Benefits

Your cash value is also tax-deferred. That means, as long as it remains in your whole life insurance account, it's tax-free. You will only pay tax on it if you cancel the policy and take the cash for yourself.

Also, your whole life policy may be subject to taxation if it becomes a Modified Endowment Contract (MEC). This can happen if you put excessive amounts of money into it. Here, the policy is recategorised as an MEC and is subject to different taxation laws.

Donate to Charity

Sometimes, you can get an income tax reduction when you donate large sums to certain charities. You can borrow from your whole life policy for this too.

This may be a good idea during years that you make a lot of income. You get to save on taxes and help out at the same time.

Fund Your Retirement

Your whole life insurance cash value is also good for retirement funding. Take out consistent, reliable payouts as an annuity alongside your other retirement income.

Reap These Benefits of Whole Life Insurance

If you don't have whole life insurance, you now know why you should. Don't miss out on these benefits any longer. Contact Central Jersey Insurance Associates today to discuss your options.


health insurance document with pen and stethoscope

How to Lower Your Health Insurance Premiums

The average monthly health insurance cost is now close to $500. It's a small wonder many Americans are looking to reduce their premiums.

It's easy to conclude that they're just a fact of life, and there's little we can do to reduce them. But actually, there are some things that all of us can do to make them more affordable.

Let's look at how to lower your health insurance premiums.

Make Lifestyle Changes

A recent study found that many Americans would gladly make lifestyle changes to reduce their health insurance cost. In fact, the study found that one-third of Americans would agree to 24/7 personal monitoring! All in the name of reducing their premiums.

While this kind of monitoring may be something for the future, there are changes you can make now to reduce your premiums.

Quit Smoking

Most insurers do tobacco rating for their insurance policies. This is only prohibited in 4 states and the District of Columbia. Smokers can pay as much as 50% more for their insurance policy.

This could provide an extra incentive to people who are struggling to quit smoking! Not only will your general health improve, but you should also benefit from lower health insurance premiums.

Lose Weight

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not allow insurers to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. However, obesity does not come under this category.

Insurers use a person's BMI to calculate their insurance premiums. If their BMI is higher than 30, they can charge up to 50% more than for someone with a BMI in the healthy range.

Losing weight to bring your weight under 30 on the BMI scale will have health benefits. It may also help you to reduce your premiums when renewals come around.

Shop Around

For many people, affordable health insurance is out there, but it just takes a lot of homework. If this is overwhelming, consider getting an insurance broker to help you find the right health insurance for you.

Consider Using a Health Insurance Broker

A health insurance broker can view coverage from many insurers. It gives you an opportunity to discuss your specific needs so that they can find an insurer that provides the right level of coverage.

Check Your Tax Credits

Family and personal circumstances may change from year to year, as do government regulations. It's important to check each year that you are receiving the correct amount of tax credit for your situation.

Check Prescription Drug Coverage

If you take prescription drugs regularly, check where each insurer stands on those drugs before choosing a policy. Some pharmaceutical companies may have a program for lower-income patients that you can benefit from. Discuss this with your pharmacist.

Generic medications may also be available at a lower cost. This is an important part of your research, as lower premiums may mean higher out-of-pocket costs.

Use Doctors Within the Network

If you choose to visit doctors who are not in your insurance network, you will probably have to pay the costs in full. While it can be frustrating to change doctors, using doctors within the network will keep costs down.

Alternatively, if you want to ensure that you can see a particular doctor, choose coverage with an insurer that includes them.

What If I'm in a Group Health Plan?

Depending on the size of your company and your relationship with your employer, you may be able to discuss reducing premiums with them.

It may surprise employers when they consult employees. Certain coverage options may actually be unpopular or unnecessary. Reducing these options may dramatically reduce premiums.

Carefully Consider Changing Categories

Many purchase their health insurance through the ACA marketplace. If you do, you can consider the advantages of changing coverage.

There are three 'metal' categories - Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Gold provides the highest level of coverage, with low costs for care and fewer deductibles.

Silver is the moderate level of cover and Bronze is the lowest. The premiums follow the same pattern. Gold is the most expensive, Silver has a moderate monthly premium, and Bronze is the cheapest.

If you're in excellent health and rarely need medical services, then Bronze may be suitable for you. However, if you want to qualify for cost-sharing reductions such as premium tax credits, you must choose the Silver plan.

This is a risky option, but would reduce the monthly cost of your health insurance. However, if you needed unexpected medical care, your costs would be higher.

Raise Your Deductible

To lower your health insurance premiums, the simplest way is to raise your deductible. What this means is that you will pay a lower premium each month, but if the time comes that you need care, you will have to contribute more.

Health insurance deductions are the amount you pay before your insurance plan pays. If you choose a higher deductible plan, make sure that you have the funds to cover it.

A High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is often combined with a health savings account (HSA). This account allows you to save money that's free from federal taxes to use towards your healthcare. This can help to reduce some risks of having a plan with a higher deductible.

Cut Out Unnecessary Doctor's Visits

There are many things we do to keep ourselves healthy, but the fact is all of us get sick from time to time. Some of these sicknesses require a visit to the doctor's office, but there are many that respond well to over-the-counter medication.

For example, a mild fever or a cold may pass within a couple of days with medication we can purchase ourselves. There is no need in such cases to consult a doctor. The same with minor stomach ailments.

However, if conditions continue, it's essential to seek medical advice. Do your research, and don't take chances if a condition is becoming more serious or lasting for longer than expected.

The Bottom Line: Lowering Health Insurance Premiums

Health insurance premiums are a significant monthly cost for most Americans. Shop around, choose the right level of coverage for your situation, and keep yourself as healthy as possible. Doing this will help you keep costs manageable.

At Central Jersey Insurance Associates, we help New Jersey residents find the right insurance coverage for them.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you find the right healthcare insurance.


flooded living room with couch under water

Homeowners Insurance: How to Protect Your Home

It's a widely accepted fact that insurance is a great way to prepare yourself for potential disasters in the future. That's especially true when working to protect your home and your finances.

But did you know that in order to get a mortgage, you'll likely be required to have home insurance set up?

All major banks and lenders see the value of insuring a home, and we want to make sure you do too. That's why we've created this guide to help you get a basic understanding of homeowner insurance, the benefits of having a policy in place, and how to get covered.

Coverage Details

Homeowners insurance sounds fairly straightforward. It's coverage in case something catastrophic happens to your home so you can make any necessary repairs to keep it a livable space. But, in fact, there is much more to it than that.

The coverage offered by homeowner insurance policies varies widely. It's important to make sure that you get the coverage you need for your specific needs. The policy you choose and the extent of the coverage is up to you.

Every insurance broker should be able to give you a breakdown of each of their policy options. It's helpful to come up with a set list of what will and won't be necessary for your new home. That way, you can compare it to your options to find the perfect fit.

Types of Homeowners Insurance

Once you've determined the basic things you'd like to have covered by your homeowner's insurance, it's time to inspect the different types of insurance you can purchase. Just a few minutes into your research, you'll see there are so many options to choose from.

Many policies are broken down by the type of property you own. There is specific insurance for large homes and a different policy would be used for a townhome, for example.

Another major difference between types is how the amount is determined. You'll either have the current value of your property (home and belongings) be the total, which means the number will go down as the items age and depreciate. Or it could be the purchase value, which means the total will stay the same regardless of depreciation.

Finding the Right Broker

The differences between options to insure a home can seem very subtle so it wouldn't matter which option you went with, but the wrong choice can have lasting effects on your living situation. In the home insurance shopping experience, this is a great time to work with a professional.

An insurance broker will have all the knowledge and expertise to give you solid advice and find you the perfect amount of coverage.

The key to success is finding a broker who can look at your specific property and belongings to determine which policy would best protect you in a disaster. Ask around to the people you trust for recommendations so you know you're in excellent hands!

Overall Cost of Insurance

There's no way to give an accurate estimate for the cost of a homeowners insurance policy with none of the specifics of the home or anything else covered. The price you pay depends on those factors. Though there are calculators that can give you an idea with some of your basic information.

As you determine what you can afford and what you can't in terms of insurance, it's important to consider what it would cost you to recover from a crisis without it.

Most homeowners choose to have their insurance payments worked into their monthly mortgage bill. This allows them to know they're always covered without worrying about missing a payment! But there are also options to pay for the entire year up front as well. Work with your broker to find the best solution for your budget.

Additional Coverage Options

After you have your basic homeowners insurance in place, it's a good idea to look at some additional coverage options. Many things like floods or earthquakes aren't covered by a traditional policy and have to be added on.

If you live in an area that's prone to a specific type of natural disaster, it's best to make sure you're covered for that type of disaster. There would be nothing worse than having your house flooded in a hurricane, only to realize it's not covered and you're responsible for the entire flood repair bill.

This is another instance where working with a professional broker comes in handy. They'll make sure all your boxes are checked and you'll feel more confident.

Keep Details of Policy on Hand

Typically, the kinds of events that cause damage where insurance is needed aren't scheduled. They come out of nowhere and cause immense amounts of stress. The last thing you'll want to do in situations like that is to spend hours searching for your homeowner's insurance policy information.

Take the time to choose a safe place to keep all the information together and accessible. This will help you get the repair process moving much quicker and will ease a lot of your frustration.

Protect Your Home With Homeowners Insurance

Getting a home is a major milestone for anyone. It brings with it a sense of accomplishment, as well as some added stress. There are so many unknowns when owning a home. A problem can turn into a disaster that costs you thousands of dollars.

Instead of leaving yourself vulnerable to a crisis, protect your home and your bank account by adding homeowners insurance. The low monthly cost will pay off tenfold if you find yourself with large amounts of damage. You'll rest easy knowing you'll be able to make the repairs necessary if the time comes.

If you're interested in learning more about homeowners insurance and seeing what your options are, contact us today!


stethoscope on keyboard and notepad

How to Choose the Best Health Insurance for Your Small Business

Regardless of how tough the going gets for your small business, never forget to take care of your most valuable asset: your employees. Employees are the lifeblood of your company, and you should give them small business health insurance plans that satisfy their needs.

Unfortunately, small businesses neither have the resources nor connections to offer top-tier health insurance plans that some large corporations provide. However, you don’t have to be a multinational company to give your employees health coverage they can be proud of.

Today, we’ll look at how small business owners can find the best health insurance plans for their employees.

Work With Your Budget

The first major consideration when choosing a health care plan for your business is the cost. You don’t want to spend too much on your company health insurance and run your business to the ground. You also can’t spend too little and give your employees substandard coverage.

This presents a real challenge for employers, given that they contribute about 82% of the premium cost for individual coverage and 70% for family coverage.

Regardless of how much you contribute, you must work within your budget. Avoid overreaching because it’ll hurt both your business and eventually your employees when you miss premium payments.

Ensure you explore all your options to find a healthcare plan within your budget and one that gives bang for the buck. Also, avoid going for the cheapest option unless you want your employees and their families to feel they aren't valued.

Involve Your Employees in Your Health Insurance Decisions

Your employees are at the core of your company’s health insurance, so why not involve them in the decision-making process? Employees can give you valuable insight to help you find the best health insurance and cut insurance costs. So how do you involve your employees in the decision-making process?

There are many ways to get your employees’ opinions on what healthcare plan works best for them and your business. Some of the most effective ones include:

Suggestion Boxes

A simple suggestion box goes a long way in giving your employees a voice. Suggestion boxes can either be physical or digital. The latter works best because you can categorize suggestions and know what employees feel about various matters concerning your business, including health insurance.

Employee Surveys

Conduct regular employee surveys and learn what employees feel about their current health insurance. This lets you know whether it’s time to change health insurance or stick with the current one. If it’s time for a change, surveys also tell you which insurance plan is best suited for your company.

Committees or Leadership Teams

Set up leadership teams or committees and let the teams find out what employees feel about the company’s health insurance. Pick the most dedicated employees to lead the teams. It should only take the teams a week or two to get conclusive results.

Plan Design

After getting your employees’ thoughts on a suitable health insurance plan for the business, if it's appropriate for the business, it’s time to lock down the plan design. With plan design, your options boil down to three types of health plans which are:

Preferred Provider Organization

This is the most flexible plan for employees since it provides in-network and out-of-network options. It’s also the most pocket-friendly to employers and employees if they choose the right network providers.

Health Maintenance Organization

This is a health plan that employees tailor to meet their specific needs. This ensures employees get all the health services they need but don’t pay for any unnecessary ones. Employees have the option of visiting any in-network specialist even without a referral.

Point of Service

This is an ideal plan for employers who want to cut costs with managed care, but need the flexibility of a standard healthcare plan. Employees that choose an in-network PCP receive full health benefits. Those that don’t can settle for an out-network one but pay extra out-of-pocket costs.

Does My Small Business Qualify for Group Health Insurance?

Group insurance is often more affordable than individual insurance. However, you’ll need to meet certain requirements for you to qualify for group insurance. The requirements are:

Have 50 Employees or Less

Your small business must have fifty employees or less to qualify for group insurance. However, you can still be eligible if you have over 50 employees. All you need to do:

  • Go for large group health insurance
  • Meet the minimum group health care standards
  • Meet all group coverage reporting requirements

If you check all the above boxes, you can qualify for group coverage even with over 50 employees.

Meet the Employee Criteria

You can enroll in the group health insurance plan as an employer. However, you’ll need at least one actual employee in the plan too. The employee shouldn’t be:

  • Your spouse or family member
  • A co-owner of the business
  • A part-time or seasonal worker
  • A contractor working for you or your business

If you and your business fit the above criteria, then you qualify for group health insurance. At least you can save a few bucks which you can channel into other aspects of your business.

Who Counts as an Employee

When it comes to group health insurance, the following qualify as employees:

Group health insurance only covers employees who fit the above description. You’ll need different healthcare coverage for part-time and seasonal employees.

Settle for Nothing but the Best Small Business Health Insurance

Your business deserves only the best health insurance plan to protect your employees’ health and take your business to greater heights. Hopefully, the information above has been more than helpful in showing you how to pick the best small business health insurance for your company.

Remember to explore all your options and choose the best of the best. If you qualify for group health insurance, go for it!

Contact us today if you need comprehensive and affordable health insurance for your company.


a person in yellow boots standing in flooded street

What Is Covered Under Flood Insurance?

Floods are the silent home destroyer. The amount of damage they can cause has no limit, and over 15 million US homes are at high risk of flooding.

While there isn't much you can do to prevent a flood from happening, there is plenty you can do to protect yourself from financial ruin. Don't wait until the next disaster to start thinking about it. Let's look at what is and isn't covered by flood insurance!

What Is Covered Under Flood Insurance?

If you purchase flood insurance for your property, you will have to go over all the details with your insurance provider to know exactly what is covered under your policy. However, there are many items that are most likely to be covered by just about any policy, so let's talk about the ones you should expect.

If there is something you want to be protected that you don't see on this list, be sure to schedule a consultation with a flood insurance provider and discuss your concerns so they can find you the right coverage.

Structure Of Home

Floods pose enormous damage to your home itself. This is especially true if, like most houses, it's made of wood.

If water gets into the walls or floors, it poses serious risks to the actual structure of a house, which could cause the entire house to need replacement. This is the number one reason flood protection is important, as these costs are devastating. Most policies will cover up to $250,000.

Electrical And Plumbing

Water damage is likely to destroy the electric system in your home, so having this covered is essential. Plumbing systems can be totally shifted around, rusted, or broken because of flooding, too.

Foundation

Anything that is stationary and part of your home will be covered, including the foundation. While every foundation is different, most are durable and may not require coverage in the event of a flood.

However, if the flood covers a larger area and harms the soil that your foundation lies in, the foundation could actually sink, shift, or even lift, which is an expensive fix. Even the slightest shift can damage the rest of your home.

Certain Appliances

Any built-in appliances in your home will be covered. This includes your water heater, furnace, central air or vacuum systems, and more. It also includes appliances that aren't built in but are essential to a home like a refrigerator.

Cleanup Expenses

When disaster strikes, it makes a mess. If you need walls taken down, flooring removed, and appliances thrown out, then you're going to want flood insurance to cover you! Even for a minor flood, you'll at least need a dumpster and a cleanup crew. Your flood insurance policy should cover these expenses.

Personal Belongings

Note that your policy may not cover your personal belongings. Some policies will cover your house and certain appliances, but anything else of value may require a separate policy.

In many cases, the flood insurance policy will cover the damages of your home up to $250,000, and a separate policy will be required for most belongings, usually up to $100,000.

Many regular insurance policies will cover your clothes, electronic devices like televisions, furniture, dishwashers, and other belongings. However, if you have to take out a separate policy, having them covered is a great idea to avoid having to buy everything all over again.

What Isn't Covered

As we said, personal belongings may require a separate policy. However, read the fine print. Leaving valuable items in your basement in a high-risk area may also leave them unprotected from insurance.

Underground levels may only receive limited coverage by your insurance policy, so be sure to go over this with your insurance provider if you plan to keep valuables that are vulnerable to flooding in high-risk areas of your home.

Coverage for your basement may be limited to only your washer and drier, portable air conditioners, and food freezers. If you have an attic or alternative storage space, we recommend you store your other valuables there.

Another valuable item that may be missed by your flood insurance coverage is your car, as it is not part of your home, so be sure to go over your options for that as well.

Certain cabinets, shelves, furniture, and kitchen appliances are unlikely to be covered by your policy. If you open a second policy for personal belongings, be sure to keep a list of what you want protected before signing up, and have a list of questions ready!

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

In all honesty, yes. Nobody is safe from flooding. People think of fires as the biggest threat to your property but floods can easily destroy everything you own. That's true if you live 50 feet from a lake or at the top of a hill.

If you think you're at a seriously low risk of flooding, then that's all the more reason to purchase flood insurance. Lower-risk areas will be less expensive for the purchaser. The cost of floods every year is over $17 billion in the US, and that number is expected to increase by up to 61% over the next 30 years.

Find The Right Policy For You!

Now that you know what flood insurance covers and doesn't cover, be sure to look around for the coverage that meets your needs. It isn't just residential insurance either, so check out some benefits of commercial flood insurance for your business, and stay up to date with our latest insurance news!


a three person leaning crew wiping a desk and floor

What You Need to Know About Cleaning Business Insurance

Many people don't think about the risks that come with running a cleaning business, such as people slipping and falling.

If you are looking to start your cleaning business but aren't sure about what type of insurance you need, continue reading below! We will go over what cleaning business insurance is and how you can purchase it for your business.

What Is Cleaning Business Insurance?

Cleaning business insurance is an insurance policy that protects your employees, you, and your cleaning business from lawsuits or accident claims.

Without this insurance, you could personally face medical claims or lawsuits. Those claims tend to be expensive, and without these types of insurance, you will have to pay out of pocket for those claims.

If you have the right amount of coverage, you won't have to worry about losing your business. You also won't have to worry about paying out of pocket for any injuries or other claims.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance provides coverage if a customer or client sustained injuries. It also covers any property damage that your business caused. General liability insurance pays for the investigation, defense, and settlement for any claims presented to your business.

Bodily Injury Coverage

If a third party is claiming injuries, they can use your bodily injury coverage for medical payments. For example, if you or one of your employees mopped the floor and someone comes out into the area and falls, the injured party can claim damages. Bodily injury does not apply to your employees. If your employee were to sustain injuries from work, they would need to make a workers comp claim.

Property Damage

Property damage coverage pays for any property damaged while in your care. For example, say your employee were to damage an expensive vase during a cleaning job. The owner of the vase can create a claim under your policy for reimbursement.

Commercial Property Insurance

This type of insurance is necessary if you run your cleaning service out of a building or office space. Commercial property insurance protects the building structure and the equipment that you own inside. If you own office furniture or equipment such as desks or computers, they are covered in the event of theft or a fire.

Workers' Compensation Insurance

If you are hiring employees to work for you, you will need to purchase workers' compensation insurance. This coverage will help pay for any injuries or sicknesses that your employee may have incurred while working.

For example, if your employee were to have an allergic reaction to your cleaning solution, workers' comp will cover that. This coverage will also pay for any lost wages that your employee misses while recovering from said injury or illness.

Equipment Insurance

Vacuums or carpet cleaning machines you purchase to conduct your business can become costly if they need to be repaired or need to be replaced.

Equipment insurance will help reimburse you for the cost to replace these items or any other equipment listed on your policy. They typically have a $2,500 coverage limit, but you can speak with your insurance agent for more information if you need more coverage.

Who Needs Cleaning Insurance?

If you are thinking about creating a cleaning business, you need cleaning insurance. Cleaning businesses that conduct house cleanings or office and commercial cleaning should have cleaning insurance. This ensures they have adequate coverage in any accidents.

Other businesses that need cleaning insurance include:

  • Waste removal
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Pressure washing
  • Window cleaning
  • Janitorial services

Regardless of which type of cleaning industry you are in, you will need to have insurance for your business. Having cleaning insurance also shows your clients that you are serious about your business and care about everyone's safety.

How Do I Get Cleaning Insurance?

Certain insurance companies specialize in getting you the proper insurance you need for your cleaning company, like Central Jersey Insurance Associates.

They specialize in the insurance products you will need to have your cleaning business completely covered. You can go onto their website and review the different insurance options they offer.

It is always essential to research what other coverages you may need for your business, but reaching out to an insurance professional is your best bet if you aren't too sure. They can also go over any additional insurance, like commercial auto insurance, if you have a business vehicle that you operate out of.

How Much Does Cleaning Insurance Cost?

The cost of a cleaning insurance policy can vary based on your location, coverage limits, and your businesses' risk profile. Depending on what coverages you need and how risky your business is, you can have a monthly policy payment of about $40 per month.

There is no definite answer on how much your policy will be because there are so many factors. If you have concerns about the cost of your insurance, you will need to speak with your agent about updating your policy.

Cleaning Business Insurance

Just like you use gloves and goggles to protect your body when cleaning, you can purchase cleaning business insurance to protect your company from any harm.

With the right amount of coverage and the best insurance company backing your cleaning business, you will have the protection you need.

Contact us now to receive a free quote for your general liability coverage. We can also assist you with any other policies that you may need for your business.


man clicking on cyber security option

Types of Cyber Attacks in 2021 (Protecting Your Computer)

Cyber attacks are one of the biggest threats that businesses face in 2021. While digital technology has made our lives easier, it has also made us more vulnerable. 68% of business leaders feel like the risks from cyberattacks are increasing.

So what kind of threats does your business face, and how can you protect against them? Read on to find out.

Zero-Day Exploit

A zero-day exploit is when a vulnerability is found in a piece of software or hardware. A good developer will release a patch as soon as possible to address the problem.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are also on the lookout for these kinds of security issues. When attackers target a newly discovered vulnerability to compromise a system, this is known as a zero-day exploit.

If cybercriminals target zero-day exploits as soon as possible, they can avoid detection. Even if you have top-of-the-line antivirus and firewall software, it probably won't detect a zero-day intrusion.

Therefore, it's vital to keep your software updated. Information about system vulnerabilities travels fast throughout cyber-crime communities. This means that organizations without updated systems are making themselves into a big target.

This also means that you should be wary of working with vendors who are slow to update their software. If it takes a vendor weeks to update critical security issues, you're leaving your organization open to a hack.

Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the most popular forms of cyberattack in 2021. A ransomware attack works like this: you inadvertently run a file from an attacker on your system. The file then applies encryption to your files. This renders your files inaccessible if you don't have the code to decrypt them.

The attackers will offer to give you the code to get your files back, but only if you send them a cash payment. Generally, they'll demand that you send a payment with a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.

Crypto payments allow the attackers to stay anonymous as these currencies are fairly hard to trace. Also, ransomware attackers generally target people from other countries. Even if you know who they are, it's unlikely you can take any kind of legal action against them.

Once they've encrypted your files, there's not much you can do. It's not even necessarily a solution to just pay the ransom. Sometimes ransomware doesn't even have decryption built into the malware.

The only foolproof solution against this kind of threat is to have a proper backup system for your important files. When you have backups, dealing with ransomware is trivial. You simply revert to your previous backup, and the ransomware is rendered useless.

Cryptojacking

Cyptojacking is another form of cyberattack that involves cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin. Here attackers install malware on your computer that acts as a crypto miner.

Crypto mining involves using your computer's resources to earn crypto. The process is very resource intensive, and you'll need to have a powerful computer for it to be worthwhile. Most times mining crypto is simply not viable because of how much electricity it uses.

Cyptojacking allows cybercriminals to get around this limitation by having someone else's computer do the heavy lifting. With cryptojacking, your computer mines the coins, and the attacker reaps the rewards.

This process uses a lot of your computer's resources, and it's likely that you'd notice something was amiss if your computer was mining crypto while you were using it. Cryptojackers account for this and program their malware, so it only hijacks your system when you're not using it.

You're particularly at risk for this kind of attack if your organization has powerful workstations. You can protect yourself against cryptojacking by running good antivirus software.

Denial of Service Attack

A denial of service attack is when cybercriminals overwhelm a website with traffic in an attempt to shut it down and disrupt services. During a denial of service attack, it's incredibly difficult for legitimate users to access your site.

This could have some serious consequences for your company. If you're in the business of selling products online, it could prevent you from making any sales.

A variation of a denial of service attack is known as a distributed denial of service attack. This is when an attacker has a network of compromised computer systems that flood your site with fake requests.

The good news is that preventing a denial of service attack is relatively straightforward. If you're being targeted by this kind of activity, you can purchase denial of service protection for your website.

This protection will filter the traffic to your site. This should eliminate most of the illegitimate traffic and make your site usable for legitimate visitors.

Phishing Attack

Another kind of cyber attack that you should know is the phishing attack. Phishing involves tricking an internet user into inputting their username and password into a fake login page.

These fake pages are made to look like the actual site, but when you put in your username and password, the information goes straight to cybercriminals. Usually, phishing attacks use a URL that is very similar to the original page, but with a slight difference.

A phishing attack against your organization could involve making a fake login portal for your company. When someone from your organization tries to log in to the fake site, attackers can then use their credentials to get into your company systems.

The most effective way to combat this kind of attack is through education. Phishing attacks are quite easy to spot once you know how to recognize the signs.

Protect Your Company Against Cyber Attacks

As you can see, there are many types of cyber attacks that could happen to your company. If you want to protect your company, you need to make sure everyone in your organization is educated in matters of cybersecurity.

To secure your organization, focus on creating a security culture. You might also consider purchasing cyber attack insurance. No matter how well you protect yourself, you can never be totally safe from cybercriminals.

If you want to get a quote for this kind of insurance, contact us today.


american flag waving from flag pole

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 FAQs - Downloadable PDFs

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 FAQs - Downloadable PDF

american flag waving from flag pole

What Changes Have Been Made to COBRA Election Deadlines Due to COVID-19?

In April of 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) and IRS issued a pause on COBRA election and premium payment deadlines during the “Outbreak Period” of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The “Outbreak Period” is defined as the “period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending 60 days after the end of the National Emergency is declared by the President; not to exceed one year.

Qualified beneficiaries can now delay their COBRA elections and payments until these deadlines expire.

The DOL later released Notice 2021-01 in February of 2021 which clarified the extensions during the Outbreak Period. Deadlines were extended until the earlier of:

• One year from the date the individual was first eligible for relief, OR
• 60 days after the end of the National Emergency is announced (which means the end of the Outbreak Period), before their 60-day election or 30-day payment clock starts again.

Since the National Emergency is still ongoing, the determination of when the “Outbreak Period” ends will be calculated based on each individual’s qualifying event. But it will never exceed one year plus the applicable election or grace period.

For qualified beneficiaries which had a portion of their standard election period begins prior to the extensions, they will have the remainder of their election period to select coverage without penalty.

What Changes Have Been Made to COBRA Premium Payment Deadlines Due to COVID-19?

For the premium extensions, simply add one year to the standard date that the premium would have been due. There is some debate about whether an employer can require the entirety of the premium in a lump sum at the end of the extension or if each payment has a one-year extension added on; additional guidance is expected.

Please note, the DOL states that if the plan administrator or other responsible plan fiduciary knows, or should reasonably know, that the end of the relief period for an qualified beneficiary is exposing a participant or beneficiary to a risk of losing benefits, the administrator or other fiduciary should consider sending a notice regarding the end of the relief period.

What Is the “Outbreak Period”?

The “Outbreak Period” is defined as the “period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending 60 days after the end of the National Emergency is declared by the President; not to exceed one year.

What Is the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)?

The American Rescue Plan Act allows employers to subsidize COBRA coverage 100% (including the 2% administration fee, if applicable) for all “assistance eligible individuals” (AEIs) and their qualified beneficiaries were enrolled in at the time of their original qualifying event. Under the new rules, subsidized COBRA participants will not be required to make any COBRA premium payments during the subsidy period.

To What Time Period Do ARPA Subsidies Apply?

For the period of time beginning April 1, 2021 and ending September 30, 2021.

Who Is Eligible for a Premium Subsidy?

In order to be eligible for the subsidy:

  • The qualifying event must be an involuntary termination of employment or reduction in hours.
  • Involuntary terminations will have to be identified.
  • An AEI qualified beneficiary is one who was involuntarily terminated from employment or suffered a reduction in hours who are or could have been eligible for COBRA between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. The word “involuntary”, applies only to terminations.
  • Qualified beneficiaries must still be in their original 18-month COBRA coverage period.
  • Even employees who lost health coverage as far back as November 2019 may benefit from the subsidy, since their 18-month maximum COBRA period will not expire until the end of April 2021.
  • The qualified beneficiary is not eligible to receive the subsidy if he/she is eligible for coverage under Medicare or an employer-sponsored plan (that provides other than excepted benefits).

For example:

  • Mary lost her job and her coverage on December 1, 2019.
  • Mary’s 18-months of COBRA begins December 1, 2019 through May 31, 2021.
  • The subsidy begins April 1, 2021. Mary is only able to receive two months’ worth of the COBRA subsidy (April and May 2021) because her 18 months of COBRA continuation expires on May 31, 2021.

Who Is Responsible for the Subsidized Premium Payment?

Further guidance is needed however it appears that the below applies:

  • Self-Insured COBRA Eligible Plans – Plan Sponsors (employers) are entitled to claim the ARPA COBRA subsidy as Medicare payroll taxes credits on Form 941.
  • Fully Insured COBRA Eligible Plans – Plan Sponsors (employers) are entitled to claim the ARPA COBRA subsidy as Medicare payroll taxes credits on Form 941.
  • State Continuation Eligible Plans – The insurance carrier providing coverage under the group health plan is entitled to claim the tax credit.
  • Multi-employer (Union-sponsored) health plans – The Multi-employer Plan is entitled to claim the tax credit.

What Plans Do the Subsidies Apply To?

The subsidies apply to all plans subject to Federal COBRA. This includes both fully and self-insured medical, dental, and vision plans. The subsidy also applies in states that offer state continuation.

Keep in mind that state continuation does not apply to self-insured plans, or dental and vision.

Does the Subsidy Apply to State Continuation?

Yes, the subsidy applies to state continuation, but may be subject to certain limitations. State continuation does not apply to self-insured plans, or dental and vision.

Must COBRA Coverage be Continuous to Be Eligible for the Subsidy?

No, the ARPA subsidy does not require COBRA coverage to be continuous and provides qualified beneficiaries with a second chance to prospectively elect coverage.

Are There Additional Notice Requirements?

Under the new rules, plan sponsors must still notify all qualified beneficiaries within, what would otherwise be, their 18-month coverage period of their right to elect coverage effective April 1, 2021.

The DOL will issue a model notice for this purpose within 30 days that must be sent to qualified beneficiaries by May 31, 2021.

The Notice must include:

  • The forms necessary to elect coverage;
  • The name, address, and telephone number to contact the plan administrator and any other person maintaining relevant information in connection with such premium assistance;
  • A description of their right to elect coverage effective April 1 at any time during the 60 days following the date of the notice;
    • A description of the obligation to notify the plan if they become ineligible for the subsidy (i.e., because they become eligible for coverage through a new employer); and
    • A prominently displayed statement regarding the right to subsidized coverage.
    • A second notice is required to be sent to any individual who elects the subsidized coverage and will remain eligible for COBRA after the subsidy period ends. This notice, which must be sent between August 16, 2021 and September 15, 2021, must explain when the subsidy will expire.

Are Model Notices Available?

Model notices and guidance from the Department of Labor and/or the Internal Revenue Service regarding these new rules are available here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy

If an Employer Was Subject to COBRA in June of 2020 and an Employee Was Involuntarily Terminated but the Employer is No Longer Subject to COBRA Today, is the Employer Required to Offer COBRA?

Changes in COBRA status occur in January of each year based on employee counts from the previous calendar year. If an employer is no longer subject to COBRA, changes only apply to events that occur after January 1. Those individuals on or eligible for coverage prior to the change in status retain their rights under COBRA. In addition, state continuation may apply to certain employers.

Are Plans Subject to State Continuation (Not Federal COBRA) Eligible for the Subsidy?

Yes, state continuation is eligible for the subsidy. The below outlines the language reflecting this:

The term ‘‘COBRA continuation coverage’’ means continuation coverage provided pursuant to part 6 of subtitle B of title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (other than under section 609), title XXII of the Public Health Service Act, or section 4980B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (other than subsection (f)(1) of such section insofar as it relates to pediatric vaccines), or under a State program that provides comparable continuation coverage. Such term does not include coverage under a health flexible spending arrangement under a cafeteria plan within the meaning of section of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Would a Secondary Qualifying Event Impact the Subsidy?

The guidelines do not address this issue yet. Further guidance is expected.

If an Employer Offers Multiple Health Care Options, Can Eligible Participants Enroll in a Different Group Health Plan?

ARPA allows employers to give employees the option of switching to a less expensive plan when enrolling in COBRA. However, this is an optional provision. The DOL will be providing model notices for this purpose.

What Forms are Needed to Receive the Tax Credit?

The credit for self-insured groups subject to federal COBRA will be taken against their quarterly Medicare payroll taxes on Form 941.


a living room completely flooded with water

What to Look for When Buying Flood Insurance

Did you know that your homeowners' insurance policy does not cover flooding? Most people decide that as long as they aren't in a high-risk area, they won't need to invest in a flood insurance policy.

That's where they're wrong. In fact, 1 out of every 4 flood insurance claim comes from people that are located outside a high-risk area. To put it another way, 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are from outside a high-risk area. Those statistics show how important it is to have a flood insurance policy.

See below for an in-depth guide informing you on New Jersey flood insurance, what it is, why you need it, and so much more.

What is Flood Insurance?

Everyone understands the basic premise of flood insurance. As the name would imply, it grants you financial coverage in the event of a flood due to weather, pipe leaks, etc. Side note: flood insurance does not protect against damage that was caused by a sewer backup, as it is not the technical term of a flood.

That said, most people don't take the time to understand what flood insurance actually covers. Depending on the severity of the flood, your flood insurance provider might be your only protection from a financial loss. It's important to invest in a strong flood insurance policy.

Flood insurance can help protect a significant portion of your belongings and aspects of your house, such as your:

  • Electrical systems
  • Detached garages or sheds
  • Furnaces
  • Plumbing systems
  • Fuel tanks
  • Kitchen appliances (such as refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves, etc.)
  • Windows and doors
  • Cabinets, bookcases, and other permanent features
  • Flooring & more

Upon calling us to inquire, we'll take the time to listen to your goals, take note of your belongings, assess the risk associated with where you live, and more. We pride ourselves on creating a flood insurance policy that fits your every need, such as coverage, meeting your preferred budget, etc.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Whenever someone is considering flood insurance, they find themselves wondering if it's a need for their situation. In short, the answer is always yes. As the statistics in our intro pointed out, you never know when an emergency could happen.

However, if you still need more reassurance that it's a worthwhile investment, here are a few questions that you could ask yourself.

The first and most important question is can you afford not to have it? In other words, do you have the money saved up to replace all of your damaged property and belongings from a flood? For most people, the answer is no. Even if you have that amount saved up, why use it when you can have a flood insurance provider cover the cost?

The next question you should ask yourself is has your property flooded before? Even if not, is it in a 100-year floodplain? For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a 100-year floodplain is an area in which there is always a 1 percent chance of a flood occurring any year. Do some research on your home's location.

Lastly, do you have a basement? If so you unquestionably need flood insurance. It's the only protection that you have when a flood occurs in your basement, which can lead to problems with your foundation, dry rot in your home, the destruction of your HVAC system, and so much more.

What to Look for When Buying Flood Insurance

Of course, your protection is only as strong as the flood insurance policy that you invest in. See below for the things you need to look for when buying flood insurance.

A Reputable Provider

Don't just invest in flood insurance with the first provider you see in an advertisement. Find a provider that you can trust!

Look into the provider's reputation by reading through online reviews and customer testimonials on their website. Let their previous clientele be your guide.

Lastly, call them. Do they seem helpful and enthusiastic? Are they genuinely worried about your needs as a homeowner? Can they create a policy that fits your needs?

Proper Coverage

We listed all the different things that flood insurance should cover for your policy, but every provider is different. Some don't provide as much coverage as others.

Make sure that you have coverage for all the unique features of your home. That includes appliances, electrical systems, permanently installed features, and more.

Here at Central Jersey Insurance Associates, we take pride in making sure our clients understand the ins and outs of their coverage so that they have more peace of mind.

Balance of Coverage, Premiums, and Deductibles

As with any other insurance policy that you invest in, you want to make sure that a balance is struck between the coverage and the premiums.

In other words, you want as much coverage as possible, but within the confines of your budget. The more coverage you have, the higher your premiums will be.

There is one exception to that though. You can pay a higher deductible to activate the coverage, which will lower your premiums and still help you get your desired coverage amount.

Invest in Flood Insurance for Your Property Today

Now that you have seen an in-depth guide to New Jersey flood insurance and what to look out for, be sure to use this information to your advantage.

If you're a business owner as well, take the time to read this article to learn more about the benefits of investing in commercial flood insurance.

For any other inquiries that you may have, be sure to reach out to us via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.