judge's gavel in hammering position

Blue Cross Blue Shield Settlement | Class Action

Background

Class Representatives (“Plaintiffs”) and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (“BCBSA”) and Settling Individual Blue Plans reached a Settlement in a class action antitrust lawsuit. BCBSA and Settling Individual Blue Plans are called “Settling Defendants.”

Plaintiffs allege that Settling Defendants violated antitrust laws by entering into an agreement not to compete and to limit competition among themselves in selling health insurance and administrative services for health insurance.

The Court has not decided who is right or wrong. Instead, Plaintiffs and Settling Defendants have agreed to a Settlement to avoid the risk and cost of further litigation. If approved by the Court, the Settlement will establish a $2.67 billion Settlement Fund. Settling Defendants will also agree to make changes in the way they do business that will increase the opportunities for competition in the market for health insurance. Payments will be made if the Court approves the Settlement and after any appeals are resolved.

Settlement Classes

The Court certified two Settlement Classes in this case ― a Damages Class and an Injunctive Relief Class.

The Damages Class Includes:

  • All Individuals, Insured Groups (and their employees), and Self-Funded Accounts (and their employees), that purchased, were covered by, or were enrolled in a Blue Branded Commercial Health Benefit Product sold, underwritten, insured, administered, or issued by any Settling Individual Blue Plan during the respective class periods.
  • The class period for the fully insured Individuals and Insured Groups (and their employees) is from February 7, 2008, through October 16, 2020.
  • The class period for the Self-Funded Accounts (and their employees) is from September 1, 2015 through October 16, 2020.
  • Dependents, beneficiaries (including minors), and non-employees are NOT included in the Damages Class.
  • Self-Funded Accounts encompass any account, employer, health benefit plan, ERISA plan, non-ERISA plan, or group, including all sponsors, administrators, fiduciaries, and Members thereof, that purchased, were covered by, participated in, or were enrolled in a Self-Funded Health Benefit Plan during the Self-Funded Settlement Class Period.

A Self-Funded Health Benefit Plan is any Commercial Health Benefit Product other than Commercial Health Insurance, including administrative services only (“ASO”) contracts or accounts, administrative services contracts, or accounts (“ASC”), and jointly administered administrative services contracts or accounts. For associational entities (e.g., trade associations, unions, etc.), the Self-Funded Account includes any member entity which was covered by, enrolled in, or included in the associational entity’s Blue Branded Commercial Health Benefit Product. A Self-Funded Account that purchased a Blue-Branded Self-Funded Health Benefit Plan and Blue-Branded stop-loss coverage remains a Self-Funded Account.

Excluded from the Damages Class Are:

  • Government Accounts.
  • Medicare and Medicaid Accounts.
  • Settling Defendants themselves, and any parent or subsidiary of any Settling Defendant (and their covered or enrolled employees).
  • Individuals or entities that file an exclusion or opt out from the Settlement.
  • The judge presiding over this matter, and any members of his judicial staff, to the extent such staff were covered by a Commercial Health Benefit Product not purchased by a Government Account during the Settlement Class Period.

The Injunctive Relief Class Includes:

  • All Individuals, Insured Groups, Self-Funded Accounts, and Members that purchased, were covered by, or were enrolled in a Blue-Branded Commercial Health Benefit Product sold, underwritten, insured, administered, or issued by any Settling Individual Blue Plan during the applicable Settlement Class Period, and
  • Dependents, beneficiaries (including minors), and non-employees are included in the Injunctive Relief Class.

Those who are still unsure if they are included in the Settlement Classes, please review the detailed information contained in the Settlement Agreement, available for download at www.BCBSsettlement.com. Otherwise, feel free to contact the Claims Administrator at info@BCBSsettlement.com or call toll-free at (888) 681-1142.

How Much Can One Expect to Get from the Settlement?

Damages Class Members who submit a valid approved claim (“Authorized Claimants”) will receive a payment from either the FI Net Settlement Fund or the Self-Funded Net Settlement Fund if the Settlement is approved. Distribution of the Authorized Claimants qualify for a payment based on the total amount of estimated premiums they paid to the Settling Defendants (“Total Premiums Paid”) during the Settlement Class Period.

Payments will be distributed on a proportional basis across all FI Authorized Claimants based on their estimated premiums.

When filing a claim, FI Groups and FI Employees may choose a Default or Alternative Option for determining the allocation of Total Premiums Paid between the employer and any employee of that FI group that file a claim. To efficiently process claims, the Plan of Distribution sets a Default allocation as follows: (1) 15% of an employee’s premium for single coverage is deemed to have been paid by the employee (with the remainder to the employer) and (2) 34% of an employee’s premium for family coverage is deemed to have been paid by the employee (with the remainder to the employer).

The Alternative option allows the claimant to submit data or records supporting a contribution higher than the Default. The below scenarios are examples of how an estimated premium may be calculated for use in determining a claimant’s proportional share of the FI Net Settlement Fund. In any case where an FI Group makes a claim, it will receive credit for any premiums not otherwise allocated to claiming employees.

Distribution of the FI Net Settlement Fund

The payment amount (i.e. claim payment) to FI Authorized Claimants will be determined by the following formula:

Total Premiums Paid during the Settlement Class Period by FI Authorized Claimant A
Divided by Total Premiums Paid during the Settlement Class Period by all FI Authorized Claimants who submit claims
Multiplied by Total dollars in FI Net Settlement Fund
= Claim payment of FI Claimant A’s claim
Example: $1,000
Divided by $10,000,000,000
Multiplied by $1,780,000,000
= $178

FI Individual Policyholders – Total Premiums Paid for FI Individual Policyholders will be based on data provided by Settling Defendants. In most cases that data should allow for the calculation of Total Premiums Paid without requiring the FI Authorized Claimant to submit any premium data.

FI Groups and FI Employees – Total Premiums Paid for FI Groups and FI Employees will be based on
(a) data provided by the Settling Defendants showing the total amount of premiums paid by any FI Group and
(b) a process for allocating the Total Premiums Paid between each specific FI Group and any FI Employees of that FI Group who submit a claim.

Distribution of Self-Funded Net Settlement Fund

Self-Funded Authorized Claimants are eligible for compensation for Total Self-Funded Fees Paid to the Settling Defendants during the Self-Funded Settlement Class Period. Payments will be distributed on a proportional basis across all Self-Funded Authorized Claimants. The amount of each claim submitted by any given Self-Funded Authorized Claimant will be determined by the following formula:

Total Administrative Fees Paid During the Self-Funded Settlement Class Period by Self-Funded Claimant B
Divided by Total Administrative Fees Paid during the Self-Funded Settlement Class Period by all Self-Funded Authorized Claimants who submit claims
Multiplied by Total dollars in Self-Funded Net Settlement Fund
= Claim payment of Self-Funded Claimant B’s claim

How to Make a Claim and Receive a Payment

You must file a claim form online or by mail postmarked November 5, 2021. Claims may be submitted online at www.BCBSsettlement.com or by mail to:
Blue Cross Blue Shield Settlement
c/o JND Legal Administration
PO Box 91390
Seattle, WA 98111

If you select the Alternative Option, you must submit relevant data or records showing a higher contribution percentage. Otherwise the Default Option will be used. Instructions for submitting your claim are on the claim form and on the Settlement Website. When required, sufficient documentation shall include an attestation signed under penalty of perjury when other documentation is no longer available.

If you do nothing, you will remain a member of the Settlement Classes and be bound by the Settlement. However, if you had been entitled to share in the Settlement proceeds, you will not get a payment.

When Will the Court Decide Whether to Approve the Settlement?

The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the Settlement on October 20, 2021. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court will also consider whether to approve attorneys’ fees and expenses up to $667.5 million and $101 million for additional costs and service awards. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.

Legal Rights and Options in the BCBS Settlement
Long Form Notice (bcbssettlement.com)

In re: Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation MDL 2406, N.D. Ala. Master File No. 2:13-cv-20000-RDP (the “Settlement”).


construction working laying down on back holding head in pain

A Guide to Workers' Compensation Laws in New Jersey

Are you a business owner that's looking to cover all of your bases with insurance? Do you stay awake at night worrying that one of your workers will get injured on the job? If so, you need to invest in workers' comp insurance right away.

Doing so will help protect you and your employees in the event of a workplace injury or illness. Millions of workers are hurt every year, so it's unwise to assume you'll never be in this situation.

See below for an in-depth article with more information on workers' comp in the state of New Jersey, whether your business needs it, and so on.

What Is Workers' Comp Insurance?

Perhaps you're starting a new business for the first time. Maybe you're unaware of what workers' comp is and how it can help your company.

In its simplest definition, workers' compensation is a form of insurance that provides coverage in the event of a workplace injury or illness. This can help both you and your employees from experiencing a major financial setback.

For example, let's say that a member of your workforce breaks his ankle while he's on the job. With an injury like that, he won't be able to work until he's fully recovered unless his job is mainly behind a desk.

With proper workers' comp insurance in place, your worker can receive coverage on his hospital bills, loss of wages, cost of rehabilitation, and so forth.

Workers' comp insurance protects you as the employer as well. You aren't forced to pay for that worker's recovery and loss of wages, thus protecting your company's future.

The state of New Jersey is a no-fault state, meaning that the employee doesn't have to prove you (the employer) are at fault for their injury/illness to receive coverage.

Am I Required to Have Workers' Comp Insurance?

The quick answer is yes. As long as you employ people under your business model and have even one employee on your payroll, the state of New Jersey requires you to carry workers' compensation coverage.

Many employers try to get around this by delegating their work to subcontractors and freelance workers, but even those fall under your umbrella at times. In fact, if a freelancer was injured on your site, they have reason to pursue compensation.

That said, the general New Jersey law requires employers to only carry workers' comp insurance for their employees, so be sure to play it on a case-by-case basis.

By investing in workers' compensation, your employees will receive coverage for temporary disability, permanent partial disability, permanent total disability, and even fatal accidents.

Permanent partial disability refers to situations in which a worker could be eligible to receive weekly benefits after their temporary disability or injury has recovered. This could be things like arms, fingers, feet, teeth, eyes, hands, and so forth.

Fatal benefits are used to protect the financial situation for the deceased person's dependents, such as their spouse and children. They may be eligible to receive up to 65 or 70 percent of the deceased one's salary.

Benefits of Workers' Compensation

Even though the state of New Jersey requires you to carry workers' comp insurance, it actually benefits you just as much as the injured or ill employee. See below for a list of benefits that you (as an employer) will receive from having workers' comp insurance.

1. Peace of Mind

Every year, millions of companies have their worst fears brought to life when a workplace accident occurs. Those accidents can lead to minor or severe injuries, illnesses, or in extreme cases: death.

As an employer, that kind of risk can keep you up at night. Even companies with the most elaborate safety training programs are liable for an accident with the hustle and bustle of the modern corporate world.

When those severe situations happen, workers' comp insurance is there to back you up, protecting the future of your company and your employee's health.

2. Mends the Relationship With Your Staff

Even if the workplace accident isn't your fault as the employer, a workplace injury can cause severe stress on the relationship between you and the injured worker.

Without workers' comp insurance in place, your top-tier workers might build up spite because they did not receive compensation for the injury that they sustained.

With workers' comp in place, you (the employer) can remove yourself from the situation. Your employee will attempt to settle with your workers' comp provider, protecting your relationship with your staff and allowing them to come back to work once they're fully recovered.

3. Monetary Relief

If workers' comp insurance didn't exist, it would leave the employer as the one responsible for covering the costs related to the accident.

That same thing can happen if you choose to ignore New Jersey workers' compensation laws and not invest in coverage. Not to mention the fines and penalties that will be handed down to you by the state. Penalties you might not be able to recover from.

Investing in workers' comp right away provides you the financial protection that you and your staff need in case of an emergency. Don't neglect this opportunity.

Invest in Workers' Comp Insurance for Your Company Today

Now that you have seen an in-depth guide on workers' comp insurance in New Jersey and why it's so important, be sure to invest in it for your company today.

Be sure to read this article on small business health insurance and open enrollment in NJ for those of you that are looking for health coverage as well.

For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.


flooded office with chairs, couches, and tables halfway under water

The Benefits of Getting Commercial Flood Insurance

Millions of homes and businesses are damaged by floods each year and can cost thousands of dollars in damage. In fact, even one inch of water can cause over $20,000 worth of damage.

Are you looking for the best commercial flood insurance company to give you flood protection and protect you against storm damage? Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of flood insurance!

What Is Commercial Flood Insurance

Commercial flood insurance protects your business in the event of flood damage. It not only will protect your building, but it will also protect the contents of your building! Flood insurance can help you pay for repair costs and it can even cover the costs of new products depending on your coverage.

Floods can cause devastating damage, especially to businesses that live in areas with high flood risk. Even businesses that are not in high-risk areas for floods can be damaged as well. Having this insurance coverage will protect you from flooding when other insurance policies will not!

What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

Flood insurance generally only covers damage or losses that are directly caused by a flood. While most commercial insurance policies or business owner policies will not cover damage from flood water, commercial flood insurance will cover damages caused by flood water and will also help pay for all expenses associated with this flood water.

Commercial flood insurance offered by Central Jersey Insurance Associates will not only protect your business location, but it will also protect the assets inside your property.

Benefits of Getting Commercial Flood Insurance

There are many benefits that come from getting additional flood insurance. Not only does it protect your livelihood, but it will also give you peace of mind! Here are some ways that getting commercial flood insurance can help you.

Peace of Mind

One of the biggest benefits that comes from purchasing commercial flood insurance is that it will give you peace of mind. Even if you do not live in an area that is at risk for flooding, there are still unforeseen problems that can cause flooding.

Having this insurance will give you peace of mind that your business will be protected, that you will not lose your business product, and that you will be able to recover from a natural disaster!

Protects From Financial Loss

If your business floods and you do not have commercial flood insurance, you may not be able to financially recover. Not only does flood damage cost thousands of dollars to repair, but flooding can also damage the products that you sell or important business documents!

Another financial loss can come from the time your business is interrupted. If you cannot work until repairs are made, you are losing out on more money from your clients.

Having commercial flood insurance will save your wallet when your business experiences a flood.

Protects Building and Product

As was mentioned previously, flood insurance protects not only your building. If you have important products, documents, or other assets that are damaged as a result of a flood, your insurance will protect you and cover these costs!

Additional Coverage

Finally, a benefit of commercial flood insurance is that it provides additional coverage to your business that other policies may not cover.

While business owner policies may cover damage to your building created by broken pipes, they won't cover flooding from natural causes. Having this additional coverage will keep your business safe!

Common Causes of Floods

There are many things that cause floods, even in areas that aren't high risk for flooding. One of the major events that can cause floods is storm surges and hurricanes.

Hurricanes affect many states in the United States, but especially affect the eastern coast and southern states, like Texas and Louisianna.

Another thing that commonly causes flooding is flash floods. These come from heavy rainfall in a short period of time. Other types of flooding can come from blocked storm drains, broken dams, extreme snowmelt, mudslides, and more.

What Companies Should Get Commercial Flood Insurance

Anyone who owns a company should purchase flood insurance. This will protect your business in the event of a flash flood, rising water, and other disasters that come without warning.

There are also many companies that are situated on a flood plain. This is an area of low-lying ground that is near running water, like a river. In the event of the river rising, these plains are often flooded. Many businesses located in these areas may be required to have flood insurance.

Many people believe they are immune to issues that come from flooding. However, floods can happen anywhere. It is important to determine your risk of flood damage and see if your business is near a flood zone. Especially if your business is on a lower floor of a commercial building, you have a higher risk of being flooded.

Find a Flood Insurance Company Today!

Do you need flood protection for your commercial business? It is vital that you do your research to find coverage that will protect you in your time of need. If you want to learn more about commercial flood insurance and how to protect your business, Central Jersey Insurance Associates can help! We have offices in Eatontown and Medford, New Jersey, and we can help you prepare for unexpected disasters. Contact us today to learn more about flood insurance and our business insurance options!


woman in wheelchair working at desk on laptop

Is Group Disability Insurance Right for You?

Do you need to buy disability insurance for your organization?

All smart businesses have a disability insurance plan. It protects you and your organization against a loss of income due to disability.

Yet, there's a difference between group disability insurance and individual insurance plans. What are these differences, and how do you tell which one works best for your business?

We go into everything you need to know below! Keep reading to learn more!

What Is Disability Insurance?

Disability insurance protects employee income in the event of a disability or illness. The coverage often comes as part of an employer's benefits package. Companies may also offer it as an optional benefit.

Once you opt into a plan, the insurance company bills you a monthly premium. If anyone on the plan becomes sick or disabled, the plan will replace a percentage of their income.

U.S. law doesn't require businesses to have long-term disability insurance. Yet, companies in Rhode Island, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and California must provide short-term disability insurance.

Disability Insurance vs. Workers' Compensation

But, almost every U.S. state requires companies to provide workers' compensation to their employees. Workers' compensation also provides income protection to injured or disabled employees. What is the key difference between workers' compensation and disability insurance? It lies in when the injury happened.

Workers' compensation only covers injuries that occur on the job. It allows them to receive a part of their income while they take time off to recover.

Disability insurance covers the off-the-clock hours of a person's life. As such, employers sometimes have both workers' compensation and disability insurance. This certifies coverage no matter when the person becomes disabled.

Group Disability Insurance

Think of group disability insurance like group health insurance. Usually, the company selects a plan for all their employees and gets a lower monthly premium.

Often, the employer covers at least part of the premium for their employees. Some may cover all of it. If you don't choose to cover the entire premium, the rest should come out of your employees' paychecks.

Who Benefits from Group Disability Insurance?

Group disability insurance best serves entire companies. They don't want to pay the high premiums associated with purchasing individual plans.

Employees who change careers sometimes won't take their insurance with them, either. So, you only need to ensure your employees for as long as they work for you.

Also, group disability insurance plans usually cover pre-existing conditions. So, take your employees' current conditions into consideration when thinking about purchasing coverage.

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Group Disability Insurance

So, what are the differences between long-term and short-term group disability insurance?

First, short-term disability insurance covers your employees or yourself for a shorter amount of time. It usually lasts for 3-6 months, depending on the policy. Long-term disability gives you coverage for anywhere from over 6 months until you retire, depending on the plan.

Differences also exist in the amount of coverage provided. Short-term plans usually cover more of your income. Sometimes, it replaces up to 70% of your paycheck. Long-term plans tend to cover less, with the exact amount depending on the plan.

For the greatest coverage, get both short-term and long-term coverage. That way, if your employees need longer to recover, they can use their long-term disability plans.

Individual Disability Insurance

Individual disability insurance plans also become useful, but they are intended for individual policyholders. As such, group discounts do not apply.

Also, some individual policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. This means policyholders may not get coverage for disabilities they have already suffered.

If you have employees with disabilities, you should not encourage them to purchase individual plans. Instead, try to offer a group plan.

Who Benefits from Individual Disability Insurance Policies?

People who gain the most from individual disability policies don't have a plan offered at work. Individual policy plans often offer great coverage options.

Yet, the premiums often become more expensive. This is especially true because the employer doesn't cover the premium.

So, employers should prioritize getting group disability insurance benefits for their office.

Why Should You Consider Group Disability Insurance?

The benefits of group disability insurance go further than just the coverage your employees receive.

First, it helps you attract skilled workers. When you list disability insurance as one of your offered benefits, people who want to safeguard their income will want to apply to your job postings. Since not every company offers this type of insurance, it helps you stand out from the rest of your competition.

Also, it helps you retain your talent if they become injured. Otherwise, long recoveries may lead to unpaid time away from work, causing your talent to look for work they can do at other companies. When they receive portions of their pay, they may not need to leave your company.

Save Money on Your Taxes

How do you make sure you get disability insurance and save money?

Group disability insurance features tax-deductible premiums. So, the more employees you have on your plan, the more you will save on taxes each year!

Plan Design Flexibility

Insurance carriers often offer a variety of plans that allow you to choose one that suits your needs.

So, when choosing a plan, get together with your team. Determine what you want in an ideal plan. Then, look for a plan that suits your needs.

Ready to Get Group Disability Insurance?

When you want to get group disability insurance, our team is here for you!

We believe every company should have disability insurance. Whether you choose to get short-term or long-term disability insurance, our trained professionals can help pick the best plan for you.

If you want to learn more, contact us today!


mouse icon clicking security on computer screen

Protect Your Data: What Is Cyber Liability Insurance for Businesses?

Did you know a data breach costs $8.19 million on average? That’s why big companies also spend big dollar amounts on cybersecurity.

The healthcare sector, in particular, is the most popular target because hospitals store a lot of sensitive information about their customers (which they have a lot of). The financial industry is a close second, while the energy sector comes in third.

If you’re a small business in a modest industry, though, should you be afraid of this threat? Of course, you’re only risking the future of your business by not getting cyber liability insurance.

What is cyber liability insurance, and why do you need it? Keep on reading to learn more.

What is Cyber Liability Insurance

Cyber liability insurance provides coverage against cyber risks. It’s designed for malicious cyber-attacks, data breaches, and such.

Note that the cyber liability insurance definition doesn’t include protection against these cyber threats. It won’t prevent your system from getting hacked, nor would it recover any data you lost.

What it does is serve as a safety net should your business face these challenges. It ensures that the attack won’t cripple you and will give you a chance to rise again.

What It Usually Includes

Cyber liability insurance includes coverage for any losses incurred during a cyber event. It helps you recover from the attack by covering any expenses for recovering lost data, repairing computer systems and networks, and so on.

It should include loss of income and ancillary costs, such as credit monitoring for your customers. As this is going to be a big deal to the media, your policy will also cover your PR expenses.

These are the basic inclusions of first-party coverage. You might also want to get third-party coverage, though.

This coverage helps cover fines and legal fees. You should expect to face lawsuits resulting from the breach, especially if it affected customer and vendor data.

Why Do You Need Cyber Liability Insurance

Now we know what cyber liability insurance is, but do you need it? If you have electronic data in your business, then yes.

Even if you’re not in the tech industry, you still have valuable data that might get compromised. After all, every business has sensitive data they want to protect. It can be important information, like the customers’ names, addresses, contact numbers, and so on.

Some might store it in local hard drives, while others may use the cloud. While the latter provides more protection, both can still be vulnerable to attacks.

Still don’t think you need it? Below are some of the best reasons for getting one today.

To Cover All Your Bases

You may already have business policies, but they’re likely not going to cover cyber events. Under normal circumstances, you can get damage to your equipment covered. You might even regain the loss in profits you incurred because of physical events.

Without the proper coverage, however, you might not get a cent if these were because of a cyber-attack. If your policy has explicitly excluded cyber coverage, you don’t have a safety net anymore. Even small businesses become exposed to significant risk because of the reason below.

To Brace Yourself Against Cyber Crimes

Everyone, even tech-savvy individuals, can become a victim of cyber-crimes. There are plenty of threats on the internet, including malware, ransomware, and hacking.

Malware is malicious software designed to cause damage or get information. This is where computer viruses fall under, along with worms, trojans, and so on.

At best, malware can cause inconveniences, like redirecting you to advertisements. At worst, it can destroy your system or gain access to all your data.

Ransomware is also a form of malware that “kidnaps” your files. It encrypts the data so you can’t access them, and the only way to get them back is to pay a ransom.

Then, there’s also the threat of hackers whose sole purpose is to break into your system. Once they’re in, they can do anything they want, like steal information, destroy it, install dangerous malware, or even mess with your files - sometimes, without you even knowing.

All these threats can be crippling to businesses, but not if you have proper coverage. It can cover any payment you make due to ransomware, for instance, and any loss incurred while doing so.

To Account for Human Error

Firewalls, encryption, and such aren’t perfect as talented and dedicated hackers can always find a loophole. The best you can do is to make sure you always have the latest security measures.

With that in mind, what about your employees? Do you think they’re better as a line of defense against cyber-attacks?

Seeing as how human error is the leading cause of data loss, you shouldn’t trust them too much. Accidents happen, and these happen more often in the hands of humans.

An employee can make one mistake while coding and you can lose your whole project in one minute. A staff member writing down their password on a post-it note can inadvertently give a malicious person access to the system. An unaware secretary might click on a suspicious link in their email that downloads malware.

The more people you have in your company, the greater the risks for human error. Even a small business can suffer great losses because of this risk.

When to Get Cyber Liability Insurance

The best time to get cyber liability insurance for your business was yesterday. Like every other type of commercial insurance, it's best that you apply for it soon, so your business becomes prepared for anything.

You may already have compromised data without you knowing. Or, you might not have experienced cyber threats yet, which makes you lucky. Still, that doesn’t mean you won’t be facing other digital risks in the future.

Get Your Digital Assets Covered Now

If you don’t have cyber liability insurance yet, then the second-best time to get it is right now. You never know when the next threat is coming and what form it’s going to take. It could be a loss of data, damaged systems, or stolen information.

Regardless, it's best to keep yourself insured. Explore your options today. If you need any help, feel free to contact us.


young family moving into new home

Homeowner's Insurance in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Possessing homeowner's insurance should top your priority list as a prospective home buyer in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The following points drive this point home.

  • It protects your home and possessions from different calamities
  • It saves you your hard-earned money as you do not have to cover damage and loss out of your pocket
  • It is a requirement to receive a mortgage
  • Protects you from liability protection
  • Calamities are common in Monmouth county

Your home is, without doubt, your most excellent possession. It is where you reconnect and spend most of your time.

Moreover, it shelters your loved ones. Therefore, it is essential that you take the necessary measures to protect it from any form of calamity, more so in today's world full of uncertainties.

It must have taken a lot of sacrifices and hard work for you to own a home in Monmouth County, New Jersey. But remember, this does not exempt it from the dangers of this world.

Hazardous such as fire, earthquakes, and floods may cause you to lose what you have worked hard to attain. Therefore, gaining comprehensive coverage such as homeowner's insurance that will cover your home and all that's inside is a must.

Benefits You Will Accrue From Possessing Homeowner's Insurance as a Resident of Monmouth County in New Jersey

Compensation Against Damage Caused by Natural or Manmade Calamities

Despite its beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere, Monmouth County ranks fourth as the most prone city to disaster in New Jersey. Some of the hazards you are likely to experience in this area are earthquakes, volcanoes, fire, and tornadoes.

Following this, you must have home coverage that will compensate you for any unpleasant situation. Having Standard homeowner insurance in Monmouth County will protect you from most perils that may befall you in this city.

Coverage on Lost or Damaged Properties

In addition to covering your physical home, homeowner's insurance will also compensate you in case of loss or damage of your assets.

Temporary Living Expenses Coverage

You can be forced out of your home because of damage caused by a disaster. When this happens, homeowner's insurance will cater to your temporary living expenses as your old home gets repaired.

Liability Protection Coverage

Outsiders may sometimes get hurt within your property, causing you a lot of trouble as you have to cater for their medical bills and take care of their needs till they are back on their feet.

However, having a homeowner's insurance policy will save you from all this as it takes care of the entire burden.

Prerequisite for Financial Assistance

Having your home insured will act as a prerequisite for you to get lending from some mortgage providers.

The common occurrence of hazards mainly causes this. Therefore, having insurance assures your lenders of the safety of their investment in your property.

Essential Things To Note About Homeowner's Insurance

  • Standard homeowner's insurance does not cover floods or earthquakes. Therefore, you will require organizing with your insurance agent to cover these hazards more so if you are living in an area prone to them.
  • You need to check with your policy provider on what type of hazards they compensate before settling on a policy.
  • The law may require your lenders to get you insurance of their choice when you don't have one. When this happens, the lenders may go for a far more expensive policy that does not have comprehensive coverage as homeowners would have provided you.
  • The value of your home and assets will determine your homeowner's insurance amount.
  • It is best to start looking for homeowner's insurance early to have ample time to examine and settle on the best option.
  • It will take you one to three days to get homeowner's insurance.

Requirements in Securing a Claim

It can take you less than ten minutes to secure an insurance claim with the right requirements at hand after a covered event has occurred. Below are some details you need to provide.

Composition of Your Home

You will need to provide details such as contact information of people living in your home, how long you have lived there, your marital status, to name a few.

Your Home Coverage History

Most insurance providers will require detailed information on your existing coverage, mortgage, and prior insurance claims.

Condition of the Home

To determine this, you will need to answer when your home was built and provide details on further improvements you've done on the house. Moreover, you will be asked about the roof, type, and exterior of the home.

Your home square footage is another aspect you need to know. Additionally, expect questions regarding how many bathrooms, garages, bedrooms, and fireplaces your home has.

With this information, your prospective insurer can calculate the coverage required for your home and its rebuilding cost.

Enhancement of Safety in Your Home

Your policy providers will need to know what efforts you have taken towards improving safety in your home. Having safety enhancement devices such as fire sprinklers may qualify you for a discount.

The Claims Process

You will need to follow these simple steps to acquire compensation after a covered hazard has taken place.

  • Start by notifying your insurance provider about the incident. You should do this as soon as possible so that they can start working on it early.
  • The next step is to evaluate the damage. This is done by your insurance providers mostly through a phone call—some of the things they will need to clarify are what transpired and what your policy may cover.
  • Keep evidence. You must have a record of what was damaged during the incident. You can do this by taking pictures or video of the damaged area.
  • Moreover, don't forget to keep receipts when you do any repair or rent out accommodation.

Acquiring homeowner's insurance is one of the surest ways to protect yourself and your loved ones. It will not prevent disasters from taking place, but having it will save you a lot of agonies. Take a step of faith today and register for that insurance policy.

It will go a long way in securing your future and that of your loved ones when you get the right insurance in Monmouth County, NJ.


wealthy white males walking off of a private jet

High Net Worth Insurance: Who & What it Includes

Everyone can benefit from insurance to protect their property, income, health, and other assets. It makes good financial sense.

If the last decade has taught people anything, it is that you cannot predict the future. Financial crashes, unprecedented weather events, and forest fires and now a global pandemic. It really does make the case for protecting yourself and your assets.

With high net worth individuals, insurance needs can be complex because of the high financial risks involved and several other lifestyle factors that rarely occur with regular people.

The demand for high net worth insurance services has grown rapidly in recent years, following a general rise in the number of people who now have sufficient assets to be counted in that category.

This article discusses who is classified as a high net worth individual, why they need special insurance, and what that insurance can typically look like.

Who is classified as a high net worth individual?

In 2019, there were 5.91 million high net worth individuals in the United States, up from 4.78 million in 2015 (Source: Statista). They are generally classed as someone who has over $1 million worth of assets, not including the value of their primary residence.

Those with a net worth of $5 million or more are classed as very high net worth individuals, and those with $30 million in liquid assets or $20 million of disposable income are ultra-high net worth individuals.

Why is specialist insurance required?

Often, the lifestyle, businesses, and assets of people with significant wealth carry with them a different level of risk than you would typically expect. Regular insurance policies just aren’t built to deal with the levels of financial risk.

An individual may have multiple properties, cars, antiques, jewelry, and other assets that need to be insured for high sums.

There is no one template for a high net worth individual and their assets. Their wealth can come from a number of backgrounds. Some are managing inherited, family wealth, others may be successful business entrepreneurs, actors, elite sportsmen or women, even lottery winners would fall into this category.

Insurance providers specializing in this area are familiar with the complexities of multiple assets and fluctuating market values and will ensure that assets and risks are valued correctly and adequately insured.

Potential risks faced

Estate tax

The death of the chief income earner in a family can lead to a huge loss of wealth for the remaining family, especially if there is a large amount of debt to be repaid.

In this situation, substantial life insurance is very important as it will avoid potentially millions of dollars in taxes. These tax laws change often and policies and estate plans may need to be tweaked to keep up with them.

Security

High net worth individuals are at higher risk of security threats designed to gain access to their wealth. For this reason, a robust system of security on properties and when traveling is needed, along with associated insurance cover.

Those who travel frequently may want to investigate kidnap and ransom insurance.

Valuable property portfolios

Expensive property portfolios and contents can be a major area of under insurance. Should they be damaged or destroyed by weather events, natural disasters, fire, or similar, the insurance needs to be able to fund a complete rebuild and the destruction of potentially valuable items within the property.

If their property is located in areas prone to natural disasters of forest fires, then the need for specialist insurance is even higher. A fully inclusive coverage that covers a broad range of risks is preferable.  A good level of cover will include:

  • Guaranteed replacement/rebuild - should the worst happen and property be completely destroyed, insurance will pay for a complete rebuild from the ground up.
  • Additional structure coverage - includes garages, gates, gazebos, and fencing.
  • Multi-property coverage - if a second vacation property exists, it could potentially be folded into the insurance coverage of the main residence.
  • Expenses coverage - if the main residence is destroyed, insurance covers the accommodation and food expenses until the property can be rebuilt or another property purchased with insurance money.

High-value assets

While the property portfolio is often the most valuable asset, there are a number of items that need to be protected. These can include boats, classic cars, antiques, works of art, precious jewelry, and similar items.

Cyberattacks

High net worth individuals make for ideal targets when it comes to cybercrime. They, their families, advisors, and employees can be targeted by sophisticated phishing scams, ransomware, or many forms of identity theft.

Employee, theft, fraud, and injury

It takes many people to run the estates of high net worth individuals.

Executive assistants, housekeepers, gardeners, etc. These people are often given a high level of trust and this can sometimes be an ideal opportunity for theft or fraud. Doing due diligence on the people employed is a way to minimize this risk.

Of course, as an employer, they will also be expected to have insurance to cover them for employee injury, illness, and potential wrongful dismissal lawsuits.

Business or professional liability issues

Those with careers, businesses, or board positions open themselves up to potential liability lawsuits if it is claimed their advice has financially impacted a person/company or defamed them in some way.

How to arrange high net worth individual insurance

At Central Jersey Insurance Associates, we have developed a comprehensive private client service especially for high, very high, and ultra-high net worth individuals.

Our specialists work tirelessly to understand the lifestyle, property portfolio, and other high-value assets that need to be protected and find the industry-leading insurance coverage that can give them peace of mind.

Each policy is customized exactly to the individual. If existing insurance policies are in place, they can review these for any shortfalls in coverage.

They can also advise on elements of estate planning in the most tax-efficient way, and put them in touch with other experts if needed to protect the estate for those who are intended to inherit it.


man looking at trends through binoculars

Insurance Market Cycles: Hard vs. Soft Markets

Regardless of the industry you are in, anyone can experience growth and losses. The insurance industry is not different.

These mark cycles can often differ from one another, therefore it’s worth knowing more about them.

Typically, insurance industry cycles will last anywhere between two to ten years. However, as the market cycles rely on the way the world is operating, amongst other things, how has COVID impacted this industry?

In this article, we’ll discuss what insurance market cycles are in more detail and how hard and soft markets differ.

What Are Insurance Market Cycles?

Insurance market cycles are market-wide fluctuations that vary. A soft market is where there will be increase competition or perhaps depressed premiums and then this type of market is usually followed by a hard market.

A hard market is a period of rising premiums, and decreased capacity. It’s worth knowing that market cycles in the insurance market will usually have an effect on each other.

For example, when you have more capacity in the market, you have more supply, and that can exceed demand. This demand has a knock-on effect to the premiums, so on and so forth. It’s important to see where the market is for businesses who work in the insurance industry.

This year has certainly been one for the books and has impacted most industries in different ways. So, when it comes to insurance market cycles, COVID has certainly had an impact.

What is a Hard Market vs. a Soft Market?

Before looking at the effects that COVID-19 has had on the market, it’s important to know more about the soft and hard markets and what makes them different.

Soft Market

For a soft market, you usually tend to see lower insurance premiums, a broader coverage and a relaxed underwriting criteria which can be helpful for those who are claiming or taking out insurances.

It entails an increased capacity, meaning those who take out insurance have more policies to choose from and higher limits to cover themselves. That, in turn, increases the amount of competition between insurance carriers.

Hard Market

With a hard market, you’ll tend to see higher insurance premiums, more difficult underwriting and less competition, which could make it a positive for insurance carriers.

These higher insurance premiums will make it tough on those who have the insurance, and as such, they’ll likely try to look elsewhere for a better deal.

So what is the market currently? Well, for the most part, it seems to currently be in a length soft market state according Reinsurance News.

However, Alex Maloney, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lancashire Holdings Limited stated that the start of 2021 could see the start of the market hardening due to the effects of COVID-19 to some extent.

How has COVID-19 Impacted the Insurance Market Cycles?

There are various factors that have impacted the insurance cycle, but COVID-19 could have certainly been a factor that has impacted it the most.

With many businesses facing collapse, individuals losing their jobs and the health of the world being what it is, with people losing family or being sick off work, claims are likely to be high.

The pandemic has certain highlighted coverages that are included in contracts, and insurers have been impacted when it comes to insurance claims and investment losses.

Even though COVID-19 has intensified the situation of the market as it is, there are other factors that are worth mentioned and that have perhaps contributed to the creation of the hard market we may now see.

How Else Can They be Affected?

A string of natural disasters that have been combined with the global pandemic has certain comprised and impacted the insurance market cycle.

Natural Disasters

From fires to hurricanes and extreme weather, it’s certainly contributed to insurance claims. There have been some severe sandstorms, for example, that have resulted in a lot of issues losses.

Most recently, the fires that have occurred and continue to occur in California are just an example of how these natural disasters can contribute to the market shifting from a soft market to that of a hard one.

Lawsuits

With lawsuits, those who take legal matters to a court are certainly getting payouts that will affect the insurance market. The more lawsuits created, the more it can contribute.

For example, the opioid crisis is one that could turn into more lawsuits and therefore, more costs for the insurance providers.

Increase In Claims

And as it’s already been mentioned, the increase in claims over the years has certainly been disastrous for the market. The more disasters and life impacts that have happened in the world, and due to COVID, have all contributed to more claims against insurance policies being made.

Handling the Insurance Market in a Business or Personal Approach

Whether you’re a business or you’re seeking personal insurance, navigating the market can be a little challenging. There can be so many suppliers of insurance that you might find it difficult and challenging to find the right provider.

That being said, it’s worth using the services of someone like Central Jersey Insurance Associates and their brokers. Brokers are great for finding deals that suit your needs and requirements without you needing to do a thing but provide them the information they need to find the best one.

Regardless of what you’re after, it’s important to find someone who can help you navigate the insurance market cycles, whatever that might be. A broker can certainly be a helpful service to pay for.

The insurance market seems to be heading straight for a hard market, but who knows when it will end. That seems to be an answer that is difficult to predict at this current time.


male barista wearing a white outfit

What is Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI)?

As a business owner, it is important to ensure that you are protecting your business from financial issues.

There are many ways to do this, however, one of the best options will be to guarantee that you have the right coverage in place. It can be difficult for business owners to understand the different types of insurance coverage available.

One option that you should be aware of is Employment Practices Liability Insurance or EPLI. In this article, we’ll explore everything that you need to know about this option and why it could be important for your business.

What Is Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

When you are planning financial protection for your business you probably won’t consider the fact that a legal claim could come from inside the house but that’s exactly what could happen.

An employee could make a claim against your business if they feel that their legal rights have been violated by your business. There are numerous reasons an employee might make this type of claim. EPLI covers your company from this type of claim from an employee.

It’s possible that this could be part of your business owners policy from your insurance provider. Alternatively, you can arrange EPLI as a stand-alone or separate type of coverage. This is largely going to depend on the individual financial requirements of your business.

Do be aware that the cost of EPLI coverage is going to vary depending on several factors. For instance, the cost can be higher if you have a higher number of employees or if there are risk factors connected to your business. For instance, your company could have been sued by an employee in the past.

This policy will cover a range of costs associated with a claim from an employee. You will be reimbursed for legal costs, including your defense, and for judgments and settlements.

The policy will also typically payout, regardless of whether you win or lose the case, however, it will not typically cover punitive damages. It’s also worth noting that liabilities covered through other compensation such as workers comp will be excluded.

What Does It Cover?

Employment Practices Liability Insurance provides protection for a wide range of different claims that could be put forward against your business.

It will protect you if an employee feels that they have been terminated for the wrong reasons or if they have been passed over for a promotion for reasons that do not relate to their work output. Many claims are tied to accusations of discrimination.

This can occur at the hiring stage or later on after they have worked at the company for several years. Sexual harassment claims have also been on the rise as of late and EPLI coverage can protect your business from the financial ramifications of this as well.

It’s important to note that as an employer you are responsible for the emotional wellbeing of your employees. This is just as important as protecting them physically while they are operating on your premises.

If you fail to do this and employees feel as though they are stressed or overwhelmed, then this could lead to a claim against your business. In other cases, employees may feel that you have breached the employment contract.

This is one of the reasons it’s worth appointing a legal advisor to ensure that your contract covers the right points and areas.

Why Is It Important?

It’s also worth noting that the number of claims like this being filed are on the rise. Employees are far more likely to take legal action if they feel they have been wronged by your business.

They are also far more aware of their rights as an employee and your responsibilities as an employer. If you do not take the right steps, then you will be leaving your business vulnerable.

While larger businesses can typically handle the expenses of the average employee claim it can be significantly worse for small and medium-sized companies. Indeed, it’s possible that damages from a claim like this can cost your business thousands that you won’t be able to afford in your budget.

EPLI coverage can protect you from this type of damage and guarantee that your company is not left vulnerable. Be aware it doesn’t matter whether an employee has a strong case. You will still need to cover the costs of defending your business if you don’t have this type of coverage in place.

What Type Of Businesses Require This Coverage?

You might think there are particular types of businesses that require this coverage.

However, the reality is that any business could be impacted by a claim made by an employee. So, it doesn’t matter what business you are running and what industry you are part of, protecting your business with this coverage is certainly advised.

It is important to take the right steps to protect your business from the possibility of this type of claim. There are many ways to do this. You might want to think about your hiring process. This can help you avoid a discrimination claim.

You should also guarantee corporate policies are clear and easy to understand for all employees. It is important that there is a structure in place that employees are aware of and that they can use if they have an issue with the way they are being treated in your business. =

The right support structure can ensure that employees don’t feel the need to make a legal claim. Make it clear that your company does not tolerate negative forms of behavior such as harassment and bullying.

You should also document and record any issues to ensure that there is an accurate account of what occurred in your business.

We hope this helps you understand everything that you need to know about Employment Practice Liability Insurance. If you need additional support or have further questions about your company in New Jersey, Central Jersey Insurance Associates can help.

We can discuss the insurance options available and guarantee that you have the coverage to give you full peace of mind.


a black nurse standing next to a black patient sitting in a wheel chair

Medicare Open Enrollment: Tips to Sign Up on Time

Medicare Open Enrollment is an annual event that runs from Sunday, October 15, 2020 through Thursday, December 7, 2020, where anyone can add a Medicare health insurance plan in their life.

However, not everyone can qualify for this enrollment. Anyone looking to apply for Medicare must be turning 65 years in the next three months, or they're 65, or they just turned 65 years in the last three months.

This open enrollment aims to help the existing users re-evaluate and compare their Medicare coverage plan against others in the market.

Equip yourself with all the knowledge about Medicare, and by doing so, you'll finally get the Medicare benefits you deserve. So, here is all you need to know about the upcoming Medicare Open Enrollment.

What Comprises Medicare?

Medicare Part A: Here, you're required to acquire hospital insurance covering all your inpatient matters. This includes a short period of hospital stay and can pay for some of your healthcare bills.

Medicare Part B: In this case, you should obtain medical insurance responsible for any services you receive from doctors or any other medical practitioners.

This plan covers some services that include preventative services, durable medical equipment, home health care, and outpatient services.

Medigap: This category acts as a supplemental policy that covers your medical bill to a certain amount, then you top up the rest.

Medicare Advantage Plan: This plan brings together all the benefits enjoyed in Part A and Part B. Before, this plan was called Part C. Services received in this category include paying for prescription drugs and other extra services like hearing, dental, and vision.

Medicare Part D: This plan is purely for covering your prescription drugs' amount.

Note that anyone 65 years old or above can qualify for Part A of the Medicare plan. Plus, they must have been paying for medical insurance for quite some time.

Additionally, if you want to be eligible for Medicare Part B, you should enroll for insurance coverage, whereby you'll be required to pay a monthly premium.

Who Needs Medicare

Apart from individuals aged 65 and above, other groups of people can benefit from this Medicare Open Enrollment.

For instance, anyone with disabilities and those experiencing renal diseases have been diagnosed with permanent kidney failure and require a transplant.

Besides, disabled groups are entitled to secure Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for no less than 24 months.

Key Factors to Note

Having health insurance doesn't limit you from enrolling for Medicare coverage. Also, you don't have to wait until you're 65 years of age to apply for Medicare.

You can sign up for Medicare Part A, which doesn't require you to pay for its premium, plus enrolling into the system now gives you a better chance when you're ready to sign up for Part B.

You need to also keep in mind that if you're eligible to apply for Medicare, you should do so during the set time; otherwise, you risk having to pay a fine. However, if it's not possible for you to apply during that period, here is what will happen:

Late enrollment penalty: If you're always late to enroll for Part B, you'll be incurring a 10 percent increment in your Part B premium amount.

But if you have health insurance that can allow you to delay enrolling in Part B, then you're sorted. The longer you take to pay Part B premium, the higher the penalty you’re expected to incur.

Special enrollment period: In case you're over 65 years, and you have been using health insurance, but suddenly you retire or get laid, and you can't pay for it anymore, you can apply for Medicare.

Such a scenario triggers a special enrollment period (SEP) where it's allowed for you to sign up for Medicare without incurring a penalty.

In addition to that, if you're moving to a different region, you automatically qualify for SEP, and you should make the changes as soon as they open for enrollment.

Common Mistakes That Will Cost You More

Not going through numerous Part D plan options: If you have been using the same Part D drug plan, it's understandable if you choose to stick to it for years.

However, chances are you're missing out on other better options from other insurance companies.

Review several plans, and you might land one that is cost-effective and worth your time. Plus, medical needs change with time, and it's only fair if you change your plan with them.

Not checking if the terms of your plan changed: By September, you should have received the annual notice for any changes in your Part D plan.

The notice should clearly state the changes that will be implemented in the following year. Ensure you’ve checked the details of the notice to see if you'll be affected in any way.

Almost every year, the drug plan formularies change, and depending on the group you're placed in, it will determine the amount you will pay. Basically, the higher the group tier you're in, the higher the amount of money you’re expected to pay.

Forgetting to separate your Part D plan from that of your spouse: Obviously, it sounds perfect for acquiring the same Part D plan as your spouse since you're considering things like copays and similar rules.

But, you might not have the same health issues as your spouse, and splitting the coverage can end up being less expensive.

Final Thoughts

The Medicare Open Enrollment provides an opportunity to have a healthcare plan at a cost-effective rate. You can plan to switch from one plan to another during that time and still receive its full benefits.

Generally, you should thoroughly review your existing Medicare plan, and in case you're dissatisfied, it's time you make the changes during the open enrollment period. Otherwise, go for a plan that suits all of your medical needs.