a male and female outside their new home

Do I Need Homeowners Insurance? A Guide For New Homeowners

Every year, 5% of households file a homeowners insurance claim.

This suggests that you'll use homeowners insurance at least once during a 20-year period.

But if you're a new homebuyer, you may not know if homeowners insurance is worth the cost.

Do I need homeowners insurance?

And what does homeowners insurance cover, anyway?

You'll want to know the answers to these questions to make the insurance decision that's right for you.

Do your due diligence and read our insurance guide for new homeowners.

It could save you from home-related financial difficulty down the road.

What Is Homeowners Insurance?

Your home is your most prized and expensive possession.

If anything ever happened to your property, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.

That's why homeowners insurance is there to help.

Homeowners insurance offers a financial safety net that protects homes, homeowners, and possessions.

At a base level, it's similar to auto or medical coverage.

But since homes are more comprehensive than vehicles, the insurance is more comprehensive too.

In short, homeowners insurance covers damage to your home.

If high winds tear shingles off the roof, your insurance policy should cover the claim.

Homeowners insurance also provides liability coverage to people injured on your property.

Since there are some exceptions, we'll want to inspect the overall coverage package.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

There are eight different types of homeowners insurance packages.

These all include unique coverage plans.

The average homeowner will use an HO-3 policy, also known as a special form policy.

An HO-2 policy provides coverage for 16 types of perils.

The HO-3 policy is a bit beefier, insuring almost anything that isn't explicitly excluded in the contract.

Let's start by looking at the peril coverage of an HO-2 insurance policy.

  • Weather: Wind, hail, ice, snow, sleet, eruptions, and lightning.
  • Vandalism: Theft, riots, smoke, and explosions.
  • Home issues: Electrical malfunction, freezing systems, structural damage, and water overflow.
  • Collisions: Damage caused by automobiles, aircraft, and falling objects.

For reference, wind and water damage are responsible for almost 50% of homeowners insurance claims.

Most insurance packages also include family liability insurance.

This kicks in if you're sued over an injury that happens on your property.

For example, homeowners insurance will cover the medical and legal fees if someone slips on your icy walkway.

With an HO-3 policy, you have additional coverage for most things.

There are, as mentioned, a few exceptions. Homeowners insurance does not cover:

  • Landslides, earthquakes, and floods
  • Pollution and nuclear contamination
  • Mold and pest damage
  • Wear and tear

Many of these exceptions are covered by other types of insurance coverage.

You should know the weather and home risks in your surrounding area, so you can buy enough coverage for common risks.

For example, you can pay extra for an endorsement (also known as a rider) that adds earthquake coverage to your policy.

For more information, check out our guide on different homeowners insurance policies.

Do I Need Homeowners Insurance?

While auto insurance is required by law, the same cannot be said of homeowners insurance.

So do you need homeowners insurance?

If you're going through a mortgage lender, the answer is yes.

There isn't a legal requirement, but mortgage lenders won't work with you without homeowners insurance.

It mitigates potential risk, like if your home loses value as the result of severe damage.

Lenders will take out a homeowners policy and add it to your mortgage should you stop paying for your own.

Once you've paid off your home, it's your choice if you want homeowners insurance.

It's often worth the cost alone just for peace of mind.

Personal liability is also a large factor.

Let's say you have tree cutters on your property.

If the company is not insured, they could seek financial recompense should an injury occur.

How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?

Mortgage lenders have their own insurance requirements.

It's impossible to give an exact estimate of how much you need since the expectations vary wildly.

Just know that you'll at least need to satisfy the bare minimum to take out a mortgage on any home.

But the minimum requirements only cover so much.

A good rule of thumb is to get enough coverage to rebuild your entire home.

Some homeowners make the mistake of insuring for its market value, which is often far less than an entire rebuild.

To come to this answer, figure out home construction expenses in your area.

With this information, you can calculate how much it would cost based on the square footage of your home.

Homeowners insurance also covers your possessions within the home.

Take inventory to estimate how much your personal assets are worth.

Usually, this is somewhere around 50% of your home-rebuilding coverage.

How To Buy Homeowners Insurance

Treat homeowners insurance like any other type of insurance coverage.

The quality of your insurer will have a massive impact on what's ultimately covered.

Start your search by looking at the reviews of insurers in your area.

Of course, you'll also want to get the best bang for your buck.

As you search, consider your overall budget.

You may have to raise or lower your deductible to find the premium you're looking for.

Looking For Homeowners Insurance Coverage?

Do I need homeowners insurance?

The answer is an unequivocal "yes!" if you're working with a mortgage lender.

But even without a lender, homeowners insurance safeguards your home, finances, and peace of mind.

If you're in the market for a home, homeowners insurance is a must-have.

At Central Jersey Insurance Associates, our professionals can give you the homeowners insurance policy that best fits your needs.

Contact us and get in touch with our expert insurance brokers.

stack of blocks depicting health coverage

What Is Group Health Coverage? Here's Our Complete Guide

Business owners across New Jersey struggle to remain competitive and profitable. It’s hard to keep good employees and keep costs low at the same time. Group health coverage can help you do just that.

Yet, only 41% of small businesses with less than five employees offer insurance. Larger companies with less than 500 employees, about 61% offer insurance.

You can set your business apart by offering top-tier benefits like health insurance to your employees. Ready to learn more?

Read on to find out what group health insurance is and how it can help your business.

What Is Group Health Coverage?

Group health insurance refers to one health insurance policy for a group of people. The group is usually a small business or a trade organization.

How much does group coverage cost? It’s usually lower than if you or your employees were to get individual coverage. Insurance rates are based on risk to insurance companies.

Think of risk like getting a loan from a bank. People with good credit scores will get a better interest rate because they’re more likely to pay the loan back than someone with a bad credit score.

Banks want to protect their profitability, so they’ll charge more for people who are a higher risk. Health insurance companies also calculate their level of risk and profitability.

With individual insurance, there is a higher level of risk to the insurance company, especially if the individual is older. They’re more likely to need to use their insurance more often.

That will result in a higher premium for the individual. Group health coverage allows insurance to absorb risk between more people.

So, in a group of 10 people, some people may need to use their coverage more than others. Since the risk is spread out among more people, insurance companies are able to charge less.

Most group plans have a 70% participation threshold. That means that 70% of your group must participate in the plan. A business with 10 employees (including yourself) must have 7 people take part in the plan.

Are You Required To Provide Health Insurance?

Small business owners usually agree that health insurance can be a big benefit and lower employee turnover. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to provide group health benefits.

Are you obligated by law to provide health coverage? It depends. The Affordable Care Act says that businesses with less than 50 employees don’t have to provide coverage. Those with 50 or more employees do need to provide insurance to employees.

Just because you don’t have to provide health insurance coverage, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t provide insurance. There are hidden costs to your business by not providing group insurance coverage to your employees.

For starters, how much does employee turnover cost your business each year? One study found that employee turnover costs about $15,000 per employee.

You can retain employees by providing health insurance coverage. Your employees are likely to leave for another position that offers that benefit.

You also need to account for sick days and lost productivity. Employees with health insurance coverage are happier, healthier and more productive.

Finally, there are potential tax credits and deductions for your business. That can lower your tax burden while creating a more productive workforce. In other words, you can be more profitable by investing in group health coverage for your business.

Shared Costs With Employees

When you buy group health coverage, you don’t have to shoulder the responsibility for the entire cost of coverage alone.

Most businesses will share the costs with employees. The percentage that your business pays and your employees pay will depend on a few factors.

You’ll want to weigh the premium costs, the number of employees you need to cover and your eligibility to receive tax credits. There is no set number, but it is something that you and your insurance partner can discuss.

Finding Group Health Coverage

Is your business ready to provide group health coverage? How can you provide the best coverage to your employees? Here are some tips to find the right group health insurance plan.

Gather Your Paperwork

You’ll need to get your paperwork together to apply for group insurance. You’ll need your business name, EIN, industry code, address and payroll records (Quarterly Tax and Wage Report).

A list of employees needs to be part of your application, too. That list needs to have each employee's name, home zip code, gender, birth date, tobacco usage and participation in other health insurance.

Work with a group health insurance agent to find your options. They’ll take your information, look for plans on your behalf and go over your options with you.

You also want to educate your employees on their health insurance plan. Most people know they have coverage, but a very small percentage of people fully understand what is covered or not.

Take the time to educate your employees on the basic terminology. They need to what a deductible is, their monthly premium, their level of coverage and the doctors covered in the group insurance network.

Get Health Insurance For Your Business

Your employees are your company’s biggest asset. Doesn’t it make business sense to not provide health coverage as an employee benefit?

You could lose more money by not providing coverage in the form of lost productivity and employee turnover.

Group health coverage is a way to provide an affordable health insurance option to your employees. You’ll want to bring in the expertise of an insurance agent who can help you find the best group health coverage for you and your employees.

Contact us today to find out about how we help New Jersey businesses with their health insurance needs.

Water surrounding a white two-car garage home

The Costs of Flood Damage to Your Home in New Jersey

How much will flood damage to your home in New Jersey cost you? The numbers might alarm you, particularly if you don't have adequate insurance coverage.

Whether or not you live in a floodplain, flooding happens... and an inch of water can cost you thousands of dollars in damages!

It's also important to note that most flood insurance policies don't include flood coverage, so you'll need a separate policy to cover your belongings. If not, you'll be paying a substantial amount out of pocket to replace damaged belongings.

In this article, we'll highlight some key factors that will impact your flood damage costs, how you can prevent flood damage and how to find the right insurance coverage to protect your biggest assets.

Estimated Flood Damage Tables*

Average One-Story 2,500sqft Home With $50,000 In Possessions


Interior Water Depth (Inches)Cost to HomeCost to Personal PropertyCombined Loss Potential

Small One-Story 1,000sqft Home With $20,000 In Possessions


Interior Water Depth (Inches)Cost to HomeCost to Personal PropertyCombined Loss Potential

Large One-Story 5,000sqft Home With $100,000 In Possessions


Interior Water Depth (Inches)Cost to HomeCost to Personal PropertyCombined Loss Potential

*Source: National Flood Services. Estimated based on national FEMA flood loss tables of cash value loss.

Basic Factors that Impact Costs

There are several factors that will impact the costs of flood damage. In this section, we'll highlight them to make sure you are taking the threat of flooding seriously.

Size of Your Home

Flood damage costs will vary based on the size of your home. For example, a small home is considered one-story, and spreads across 1,000 sq ft, while a large home is multi-story and amasses 5,000 sq ft.

The larger the home and the greater the square footage, the more opportunity there is for flood damage. Costs can range anywhere from around $9,000 to upwards of $100,000 based on the size of your residence.

Value of Possessions

Are you a collector of fine art or sports memorabilia? If so, your personal possessions might have a high value, meaning you're at a greater risk of expensive flood damage costs.

It's important to have the value of your personal possessions assessed, that way if an event such as a flood occurs, you'll know what to expect in out of pocket or insurance coverage costs.

We also recommend taking pictures or videos and documenting all items and saving backups to the cloud so you have additional evidence of what you own.

Interior Water Depth

The first component to assess when looking into flood damage costs is the interior water depth, or how deep the water accumulation is, which should be measured in inches.

The deeper, or higher the water, the greater the flood damage costs will be. Water damage can occur at as little as one inch of water depth, all the way up to 50 inches or more.

Flood Costs

The two main flood damage expenses you'll encounter are the costs of repairing your home itself and the costs for replacing personal items within.

Costs to Home

The primary expense you'll encounter is the costs to your home. This can include ceiling, floor, wall and roof repairs, along with broken built-in fixtures, burst pipes and leaky plumbing that may have caused the flood in the first place.

Depending on the severity, you'll also need to pay for water and debris removal, ventilation and decontamination to prevent mold and mildew. One of the most expensive home damages can be basement repairs, as they are tougher to get down to and impact the foundation of your home.

Costs to Personal Property

The next largest flood damage expense relates to your personal property and possessions. Personal property includes, but is not limited to, laundry machines and dryers, portable AC units, ovens, and microwaves, curtains, rugs.

Also included are any personal belongings such as clothes, furniture, electronics, and collectibles, which might be subject to certain limits.

Additional Factors

Other factors that will impact the costs of flood damage to your home in NJ include:

  • Where you are located (Your city/state and whether you are in a floodplain)
  • Cost of labor and materials
  • Type of water damage (Whether it is clean, grey or black)
  • Cause of water damage (natural disaster or system failure)
  • The type of insurance coverage you have

Prevention Tips

While some floods from natural disasters or faulty equipment in your home can't always be prevented, there are several measures you can take to minimize risk.

They include:

  • Keep your basement dry
  • Clean your gutters
  • Slope the landscape
  • Get your plumbing and roof inspected
  • Install a sump pump
  • Look for water stains and mold growth
  • Store valuable items above ground
  • Direct downspouts away from your home
  • Know how to shut off electricity, gas and water
  • Get flood insurance

Coverage Options

If you're a homeowner, you're required to already have homeowner's insurance coverage. But will that cover flood damages?

The answer is simply, "No".

Regardless of the water source (a hurricane, a burst pipe, a lake overflow, etc.), your homeowner's insurance will not cover any flood damage, so you'll need a separate policy.

As mentioned above, there can be flood damage to your home and its contents, each of which can be covered under separate insurance policies.

It's important to note that there are several exceptions to flood coverage. If there is damage from mold and mildew that you as the owner could have been prevented, you won't be covered.

Valuable papers and the currency lost in the home will also not be covered, along with property outside of your home such as pools and fences.

Lastly, there is often a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase for your policy to take place. So if you know a big storm is coming over the next few days, it might be too late to get flood coverage. There are a number of exceptions to this rule, so it's important to discuss your options with your insurance agent.

If you're looking for coverage for flood damage to your home in New Jersey, you've come to the right place. Speak with an agent at Central Jersey Insurance Associates to find the right coverage to protect your home and assets.

business people shaking hands

How Much General Liability Insurance Do I Need?

Owning a business means considering all the details that keep it afloat. If you want your business to thrive, you must always protect it with a quality insurance plan.

Since the insurance coverage you need can vary, it's important to get to know what sort of protection is included under each policy. This will let you customize your business insurance to your needs.

Here's what you should look for in a general liability insurance plan.

1. Workers' Compensation Insurance

Once you hire employees, you are legally required to maintain a workers' compensation insurance policy.

Having one of these insurance plans protects everyone involved. Your employees don't have to worry about whether or how they will pay for their medical bills if they get hurt at work, and you won't have to worry about your business being ruined by expensive lawsuits.

When you talk to some business insurance providers, they'll let you know how much insurance you need for your business to be properly covered. It's a matter of both the size of your business and the work that happens at your business. If you work in a risky field or setting, consider a larger and more comprehensive plan.

2. Car Insurance for Any Vehicles That You Use

If you use work vehicles, always make sure you have plenty of work vehicle insurance.

This will protect you if your employees get into a wreck while on the clock. The amount of car insurance that you need will vary based on the vehicles you have, how many people will use them and in what nature.

3. Protect For Damages to Your Property

When you operate a business, you are always at risk for damages to your property. This could mean anything from weather-related to damage to the cost of office repairs.

The value of the plan you get is contingent upon the property value of your workplace. Always thoroughly check the specific types of property damage instances that are covered, so that your plan protects you from all risks.

4. Insurance Clauses That Make Up for Downtime

There are certain situations that can cause your business to go through downtime.

This could result from construction or remodeling work that you need, or you could lose access to your office or resources for circumstances out of your control.

If you don't have the resources or cash flow of a larger company, downtime can be hurtful to your business.

business insurance plan is like a safety net for your small business, so it's important that you purchase the policy that will be helpful to you in that regard.

The insurance plan you get can provide you some cash flow to help you during this gap, and can also provide you temporary infrastructure if you get displaced from your office building.

5. Liability Insurance to Help if You Get Sued

Personal injuries make up some 96 percent of all civil litigation, so you always need to be protected against these sorts of liabilities.

If someone gets hurt when they visit your property, they may have grounds for a lawsuit, from which an insurance plan will be necessary to protect you. You'll want to be prepared to get the insurance company involved when you are gathering records of the injury and engaging in settlement talks.

Since lawsuit payouts can be costly, having your insurance plan active every day is essential.

6. Protection From Advertising Claims

Today's society is very litigious, so you must have insurance that covers you from false advertising and other marketing-related claims.

You may get sued by customers who feel mislead and claim false advertising, or you may get taken to court by another business that thinks you infringed upon their intellectual property. These sorts of cases require a response whether or not you are guilty of these issues, so you will always want to have an insurance plan that will pay your lawyer fees.

7. Industry-Specific Insurance Protection

There are always certain types of business insurance that help you with industry-specific liabilities and protections.

For instance, medical malpractice, libel and construction liabilities are very specific and require policies that account for variables within those industries. Think about the industry you're in when you're looking to sign up for a business insurance plan.

Shop Around for the Best General Liability Insurance

Buying a general liability insurance plan is your best bet if you want your business to stay protected.

Because the area of business is so vast, you must dive into some research to know the exact protections that you will need. Above we've laid out a few of the most common types of business insurance, so you can use these points of information to guide you as you shop around.

There are plenty of insurance professionals that can help you find the right plan for you, so you can consider these points to get the help you are looking for.

We're the best in the biz and would happily help you find whatever kind of business insurance you need.

If you need help or have some questions, you can get in touch with us in a few different ways.

You can contact us online by using the web form, or give us a call at (732) 383-7158.

the outside of a sears store that is closing

Sears Reaches $3 Million Life Insurance Benefits Settlement

Just a decade ago, Sears was a retail giant that led sales for consumer products in several markets.

It was the store people shopped for their hardware, clothing and almost any other need. So, it came as a shock when Sears filed for bankruptcy just last year.

After declining sales and a jeopardized market position, Sears simply couldn't cut it. They couldn't find a way to compete against Amazon's new era of online retails.

Why would their customers journey out to an actual store when they could have everything they need sent to their doorstep with just a few clicks?

It was indicative of the way the industry as a whole is headed.

The more that online retailers earn new market space, the older retailers lose business and face bankruptcy. Sears may not be the last mega-store to go out of the business.

But, it is the first to hold up its end of the bargain and give its employees their life insurance cuts (after some battling in court).

To learn more about the trial that ensured Sears retirees got their life insurance, keep reading below.

Sears Filed for Bankruptcy Last Year

It's no secret that the retail industry has been struggling to survive for a while.

Online retailers like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy have reached a point of efficiency which traditional ones could only dream of. They know how to make sure their employees work hard, and they reap in billions of profits for it.

Sears was just one of the first to feel the brutal effects that the internet has had on the retail industry. It filed for bankruptcy when it had $6.9 billion in assets and over 700 stores across the United States. There was money in the bank for the company to use to keep going forward.

Yet, its leaders realized that there was no way for them to survive what was coming.

The brand had lost its allure, and they were already paying employees the minimum wage. The wounds Sears was losing revenue from were simply impossible to heal.

So, the company's leaders filed bankruptcy, hoping to recoup losses. Yet, they tried to recoup losses by holding back what was rightfully Sears' retirees. They canceled the life insurance plans of several former employees in an attempt to cut back on losses.

An Earlier Deal Prevented Them From Cutting Policies

Yet, former employees fought back.

They recognized that there was an injustice done to them when they could no longer collect on their life insurance policies. They filed a lawsuit against the company, and a team of lawyers got to work holding Sears' leaders accountable.

They found that a prior lawsuit obligated Sears to pay their employees their life insurance policies.

They found that Sears gave up its right to stop making life insurance payments as part of a 2001 lawsuit about the same thing. It could only stop making payments if the company totally liquidated.

And since Sears' leaders were working on recouping lawsuits — the company wasn't totally liquidated. Because of some clever legal research and arguing, the company was required to set up an account for life insurance beneficiaries.

There is $3 million in it for qualified applicants.

The New Fund Isn't Official... Yet

Although the deal was made, it has yet to be approved by a judge.

Sears' leaders are working on setting up the account, and representatives for retirees are confident that they will approve the deal. And once it's approved, it'll be time to collect.

Yet, since the company remains in dire straits, and is still bankrupt, there are stipulations.

Not everyone will get a piece of the fund, and those that do may not get as much as they want. Keep reading below to learn more about the fund, and what you can expect out of it.

It is For Beneficiaries of People Who Died After March 15

The stipulation on the life insurance fund is that it is only for people who were qualified to receive it after March 15.

If your loved one passed away before then, you may not be eligible to collect from the Sears life insurance fund. This date was selected since it was when Sears canceled its life insurance program.

Yet, just because you fall short of the March 15 date doesn't mean you won't get life insurance payments. This date only applies to people eligible to receive from the life insurance fund. If a loved one was on Sears' life insurance policy and passed away before March 15, you may still collect from it.

If you're having difficulty collecting life insurance as a beneficiary, be sure to reach out to a lawyer. They'll make sure you get what you deserve!

Current Applicants Could Get Cents on the Dollar

Just because there was a fund set up to ensure people receive their life insurance payments doesn't mean nothing's changed.

In fact, since Sears is now a bankrupt company, beneficiaries could end up with less. Sears had hundreds of employees, and now there is only $3 million to go around between them.

Yet, getting something is still better than nothing. Once this fund runs out, there may be nothing left to get. Sears' future is too uncertain to say anything for sure.

Even if you won't get as much as you expected, still apply for the fund if you believe you're eligible. Your loved one wanted to leave something behind for you and you deserve it.

We Know What Matters

Picking a life insurance company for your family means picking someone you can trust.

Several people believed that they could trust Sears before the company went bankrupt. Now, they must fight for what is rightfully theirs.

We stand right beside them, too.

As an insurance company, we understand what actions like Sears' hurt the industry. It harms the invaluable trust insurance companies have with their clients, and we believe beneficiaries should get what they deserve from Sears.

And if you want an insurance company that guarantees beneficiaries will receive what they're owed, contact us.

We work tirelessly to provide top-of-the-line insurance coverage for everyone and work with clients to ensure they're satisfied with our policies.

male construction worker holding his knee

Is Workers' Comp Insurance Mandatory for Small Businesses?

You have your business up and running and now all you have to do is hire employees. Before you accept applications you will need to do a little paperwork, including some for workers' comp insurance.

Depending on what kind of business you’re running and how many employees you have, you may or may not be required by your state to get it. There is a little gray area in there that we will go over.

Here is a quick guide on everything you need to know about providing your employees with workers' comp insurance.

Watch our video summary below:

1. What is Workers' Compensation Insurance?

Workers' compensation insurance is a policy you buy that can pay for your employee's medical expenses if they are hurt on the job. So, if one of your employees slips on a wet floor in your retail business and throws out their back they would file a workers' comp claim.

This claim will cover their medical expenses as well as compensate them for any wages they miss out on while they're out of work. They carry this out no matter if you're at fault because you forgot to put up a wet floor sign or they're at fault because they didn't read the sign.

2. Why Does Your Business Need it?

Most states require small businesses to have workers' compensation insurance. You must read up on the laws of your state to find out if you need to have it or not. If you need to get it and you don't have it, you can get into hot water.

Not only would you be required to pay for your employee's medical bills out of your own pocket but you would most likely get hit with a hefty fine.

3. Am I Required by Law to Have it?

Again, the law varies from state to state with this so you must check. It depends on the number of employees you have and what sort of business you run.

Generally, if you have five employees or more, you must have it, but certain businesses can opt-out if the employees are:

  • Business owners
  • Independent contractors
  • Volunteers
  • Farmers
  • Employees of private homes
  • Railroad employees
  • Temp workers

There is also an exception regarding family-owned businesses. If you don't have any employees working for you that aren't also family then you may put off getting workers' comp insurance until that changes.

This law varies from state to state, so you must check before you opt-out.

4. What Injuries Does it Cover?

Workers' compensation insurance covers any employee who injured while on the clock. So, if one of your drivers get into an automobile accident while running deliveries, they can still be covered even though they weren't at your establishment when they got hurt.

Workers' comp will also cover illnesses that spawn from the workplace. If one of your employees is hospitalized because they inhaled some toxic chemicals while working and got sick, it will cover them.

Other things that it may cover is lost wages, the cost of retraining if they were out for a long time, living expenses if they have a permanent disability and can't go back to work, and benefits to their family if they have a fatal accident on the job.

5. How Much Coverage Does Your Business Need?

The amount of coverage that your business will need depends on the number of employees you hire, the level of danger that they will be exposed to while on the job and if you have any history of accidents on the job prior.

To give you an example, jobs such as construction will need a higher amount of coverage than office jobs. This is because construction companies usually have more employees and there is more risk for danger.

This being said, the business owner for the office should still take out a small policy even if their employees aren't in a lot of danger. A tiny risk is still a risk and company health insurance rarely covers workplace accidents.

6. Where Can You Get a Policy?

You will need to get your workers' comp insurance either through the state or through a private provider. It depends on the laws set by your state.

If you can go through a private insurer, do your research. Read reviews to find a great provider who can handle the job. It costs nothing to talk to a company so call several to compare quotes.

7. What Isn't Covered?

Workers comp policies cover what the state requires them to cover. It's a lot, but not everything. It may not cover a lawsuit that came from an employee's own negligence.

For example, an employee who got into an accident from driving the company's car while under the influence of alcohol may not be covered. You may need to take out employer liability insurance to cover instances such as these.

Getting Workers Comp Insurance For Your Small Business

When you're opening up a new business, you may need to get workers' comp insurance before you hire employees. It will cover them if they are injured on the job. It's required by most states and if you don't have it you may have to pay a fine.

Don't let an employee accident catch you off guard. Be ready with workers' compensation insurance.

doctor with crossed arms holding stephoscope

Out-Of-Network Health Benefits: How They Work

Watch Our YouTube Video Here:

Hi everybody! It’s Kate Plageman with Central Jersey Insurance. Most of us have a health plan that has good in-network benefits.

If you do have a plan that has an out-of-network benefit feature, it’s really important that you understand that there can be a lot of hidden costs.

I’m going to give you an example of a claim and how that was likely processed with a typical direct access product with say Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Say you’re in the hospital and you see a doctor that is out-of-network, does not take any insurance. A lot of orthopedics, dermatologists, psychologists, psychiatrists won’t take any insurance whatsoever. That’s where the out-of-network benefit comes into play.

So, as an example, you go into the hospital, you see a doctor, you incur a claim, say it’s $5,000 total. That claim will come through to the carrier, in this case Horizon, and be discounted to what is considered to be reasonable and customary on an in-network level, okay?

So, that $5,000 will be discounted to say, $3,000. That’s considered reasonable and customary in-network. That difference between the $5,000 and the $3,000 is on you to pay and you will be responsible for that difference.

The out-of-network provider can balance bill you that. That $3,000 that’s left will then be subject to the out-of-network deductible, which is most commonly separate from your in-network deductible.

So, that usually is around $2,500. So, that $3,000 is now $2,500 on you, So, that $3,000 is now $2,500 on you, and then that difference of $500 will be paid at the coinsurance rate which is usually between 60% and 70%.

So, you may have a benefit of a couple hundred dollars out of that $5,000 claim, yet the provider can balance bill you all of that difference.

So, it’s really, really important that you understand how those benefits work before you get involved with out-of-network providers. Also as a footnote to that, if you have a plan that has out-of-network benefits, the premium is significantly higher than those that have in-network benefits only.

So, it’s just a little tip that I wanted to share with you, buyer beware.

Many professionals with gainful employment have group health plans that offer in-network benefits. This means that in-network health care providers have agreed to discounted rates for those covered by specified insurance companies.

Did you know that some plans also have out-of-network benefits? When seeing an out-of-network doctor, you may still receive a discount from your insurance provider, but won’t get a discounted rate on behalf of the doctor.

Keep in mind there are other hidden costs and complexities that can leave you with a hefty out-of-pocket bill to pay. In this post, we’ll break down the difference between in-network and out-of-network benefits and discuss some situations you may encounter.

Why Don’t All Doctors Accept All Insurance Plans?

There are a number of reasons all doctors don’t just accept all insurance plans. Most of the time, it comes down to cost, meaning the doctor believes that the rate offered by the insurer is not enough to warrant their participation.

Some doctors prefer to keep their networks small, working with only a few, or sometimes one (or no) insurance providers. This helps them simplify operations and increase leverage with patients and potential providers.

Another reason is that insurers may have a limited number of provider slots available, whether they are based on the total number of doctors or the services they provide. For example, they may already have enough in-network orthopedists, or they can’t take on over 100 individual practices and have hit their limit.

That said, several states have “Any Willing Provider” or “Any Authorized Provider” statutes which allow any healthcare provider to be an in-network provider if they meet certain requirements. This prevents insurers from blackballing providers and limiting access based on several factors. Depending on the state, these laws can be broad or limited in scope.

Accepting Insurance vs. In-Network

There’s also a difference between a physician “accepting your insurance” and them being an “in-network” provider.

Often when you call a doctor’s office and ask if they accept your insurance, they will tell you they do. But it’s important to dive a little deeper.

A doctor may accept your insurance carrier, Selective for example, but not your specific plan under Selective. This would make them on out-of-network provider vs. in-network.

This is an important distinction to make before making appointments and seeing particular doctors.

Emergency Care

If there is an emergency and you have insurance, you should have access to out-of-network services. Insurance and healthcare providers can’t require you to pay a higher copayment or coinsurance if you receive emergency care from a hospital not in your network. This is thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The same applies if you don’t have insurance, and hospitals can’t refuse to give you emergency care. This is all because of the  Emergency Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). If you’re still concerned about costs, you might go to an urgent care center of the emergency room.

What Should You Do?

The most important thing to do if you’re not sure about in-network or out-of-network benefits is to speak with customer service for your insurance provider. They can check for you if a doctor you’re looking to see is covered under your current plan.

Many insurance providers also have online portals where you can see which doctors are covered under your plan. It’s also recommended you confirm specific details with your doctors.

Still Confused?

Thinking of seeing a doctor that is out-of-network or still feeling confused? Before you take the leap and see a doctor you’re unsure of, click below and download our helpful guide to better understand the hidden costs.

Download Our Guide

red life preserver on dock

How Much Life Insurance Do You Really Need?

Life insurance policies range from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars. The average death benefit paid out each year in the U.S. is $163,000. But is that enough?

There's no hard and fast answer to the question. The amount of life insurance you need depends on your health, your family, your debts, and your assets. Your goal should be to cover outstanding debts and funeral expenses without eating into any retirement income for your spouse.

So how do you decide how much life insurance you need? We answer the question right here.

Watch our video summary:

Why You Need Life Insurance

Life insurance benefits anyone who has dependents (a spouse and/or children) and debt. It covers your back so that if you die, the cost of getting rid of your debt and holding your funeral doesn't fall on the ones you leave behind.

If you don't have debt and you have enough money put away for the cost of dying (including your funeral and an estate lawyer), then life insurance may be an extra cost with very little benefit.

Most of us will benefit from life insurance.

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?

You have debt that you don't want to pass on to your children. So how much life insurance do you need? Enough to cover your liabilities? More?

It's impossible to identify the precise amount of coverage you need. But you can estimate it based on your current finances, your health, and the needs of your family.

At a bare minimum, subtract your liabilities from your current assets and get a policy that covers the gap. Here are some old and new strategies used to calculate the best life insurance recommendations:

Multiply Your Income

An old industry rule says new policyholders should multiply their income by 10 to find the right death benefit.

This rule is the most basic of the strategies, and it doesn't reflect the financial situation many people face today. With the combination of interest rates and the rise in inflation, it may not help you down the line.

It also leaves behind your family's needs and the rest of your financial picture, and doesn't apply if you're a stay-at-home parent or have a variable income.

You can use this rule, but compare the calculation with your financial reality before settling on a policy.

Use the DIME Formula

The DIME formula stands for:

  • Debt (and final expenses)
  • Income
  • Mortgage
  • Education

The DIME formula is more precise than the 10x rule. It considers what your family needs, any liabilities you have and considers the substantial costs of your mortgage and education on their own.

Again, it doesn't take into consideration your assets and savings, but if you don't have any (and 21 percent of Americans don't), then this formula can be accurate.

Use a Calculator (or Two)

Do you hate math as much as you dislike thinking about life insurance? Not a problem.

Several providers offer helpful life insurance calculators to help you find how much life insurance you need.

The Bankrate life insurance calculator isn't attached to any policy provider. So, you can trust that you won't get a million emails after using it. It asks:

  • How much money you need for burial expenses
  • How many years of income you want to replace
  • How much your dependant survivors will need
  • How much you have in savings and assets
  • How many children you have
  • How many one-time expenses you want to fund

A click of a button gives you an estimated answer. However, even these are inaccurate unless you know precisely what your survivors' needs are.

Consider using a personal budget software to estimate your monthly needs. Your life insurance won't do much to provide for dependents if you don't know how much they'll need.

Remember that the lump sum payout need not be just cash. If you choose a significant payout, like $500,000, your family can invest it and earn money on it while drawing yearly income.

For example, if you choose $500,000, they can invest it to earn 5 percent a year. Then, they can withdraw $25,000 a year. However, $25,000 is a small amount, and given the continued rise in the cost of living, it could be a pittance by the time they need it.

Finally, remember that life insurance isn't supposed to replace your income for the rest of your life. It's only supposed to replace what you'd earn until age 65 when you retire.

By that time, you should have enough saved in retirement and investment funds to live on and have passive income. The amount you need is lower because there are fewer years left that you need to carry your dependants.

When Should You Buy Your Life Insurance Policy?

Traditional wisdom says that life insurance policies provide the most benefit when you're young.

Why? Because young, healthy people pay premiums over a more extended period, which makes them the best customers for insurance companies profit margins. Buying a good policy when you're young can get you a better plan in the long run because you might be forced into an adverse risk category later.

There is a myth that you can't buy life insurance when you reach a certain age. While insurance premiums after 50 or 60 are more expensive, it's rare for a provider to refuse you coverage as long as you accept a plan within your risk category.

Ultimately, buy insurance if you need it and when you expect you'll need it. A healthy 20-year-old won't benefit from paying monthly premiums—and it will get expensive as they get older.

What Life Insurance Policy is Right for You?

For most of us, life insurance is the right decision because it adds an extra layer of protection against debt and funerary costs without eating into your savings.

However, life insurance is not meant to be a big payday for your survivors. Your life insurance should only replace your income up to age 65. After that, you should rely on your savings, investments and passive income.

What would happen to your family if you were to pass away unexpectedly? Give yourself some peace of mind by considering life insurance as an option. Click here to learn more about how much life insurance you need and what policies may be right for you.

male and female business owners reviewing information on a laptop

What is Commercial Insurance? A Guide for Beginners

If you're a new business owner and are just learning the ropes, you probably have a lot of questions.

After all, there is a lot to learn.

Chances are, one of those questions will be, "What is commercial insurance?"

Most people know how car insurance or homeowners insurance works, but if you're new to owning a business, you probably won't know much about commercial insurance.

Commercial insurance is a broad term and encompasses many insurance policies available to businesses. Keep reading for a breakdown of common commercial insurance policies and the benefits of each.

What is Commercial Insurance?

Commercial insurance works similarly to personal insurance.

Business insurance exists to protect your business from financial loss caused by specified events. There are different policies that come into play depending on the circumstances of the loss.

Overall, commercial insurance protects businesses from liabilities such as lawsuits from third-parties, like customers or those they entered a contractual relationship with, lawsuits from clients, injuries to employees or customers, and damage or theft of business property.

As technology advances, new types of insurance have come into play, such as cyber liability insurance, which protects businesses from liability when data breaches leave customer information exposed.

Businesses with employees are usually required by state law to carry workers' compensation insurance. Otherwise, choosing whether to purchase insurance is up to them.

The exception to this is contractual liability. When businesses enter contracts with other entities such as landlords, they often commit to carrying commercial liability insurance.

What Commercial Insurance Looks Like

Commercial insurance policies have many commonalities with personal policies. You will find similar language and conditions for coverage in both types of policies.

Let's look at some examples:

Policy Limits

Each policy and type of coverage will have a limit. This is the limit of how much money the insurance policy will pay in the event of a loss.

There is usually a limit per claim as well as a limit per policy overall. For example, there could be a per claim limit of $1 million and an aggregate policy limit of $2 million.

Most commercial liability insurance policies have a $1 million limit.


Some commercial liability insurance policies have a deductible, while others don't. If you have a deductible, that means you must pay your deductible amount before insurance pays the rest of the claim.

Some insurance companies will pay the claim in full and allow you to reimburse them for your deductible if they are paying a third party.


The first section of your policy, after the insuring agreement, will tell you what the policy covers.

After your coverages, come the exclusions. These are things the policy won't pay for or conditions that exclude coverage. For example, all liability policies exclude coverage if you harm another party intentionally.

Types of Commercial Insurance

As we mentioned before, commercial insurance is a broad term. Technically, commercial insurance simply refers to insurance available to businesses.

In reality, there are a handful of specific commercial insurance policies that all businesses should have.

Sometimes, commercial insurance is used synonymously with general liability insurance, but for the sake of accuracy, let's break commercial insurance down by some of its common policies.

General Liability Insurance

Although sometimes used interchangeably with commercial insurance, general liability insurance is not the same thing.

General liability insurance has specific coverages and does not cover all potential losses. General liability insurance covers you if someone is injured by or on your property because of you or your employees' negligence.

It will also cover damage to others' property that you cause. These policies also include coverage if you commit personal or advertising injury, which includes defamation.

If you are sued by a third party for any of these reasons, your policy will pay for all legal and court fees incurred. The insurance company will either pay the claim, defend you or offer a settlement.

Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance policies are similar to personal property insurance policies.

You'll need this coverage to protect your buildings and their contents from theft and physical damage. Natural disasters and fires can cause devastating financial loss.

Business property policies can also include additional coverages such as business interruption, loss of use, and business personal property.

Workers' Compensation

Workers comp insurance provides coverage and benefits for your employees if they are injured on the job.

Not only will it cover their medical expenses, but it will also help them with lost wages if they miss time from work because of their injury. In exchange for these benefits, your employees lose the right to sue you.

Errors and Omissions

This coverage is especially important for those in the tech industry but it's also common for professionals like lawyers and insurance agents.

Errors and omissions coverage protects you from lawsuits over a mistake you made. We all make mistakes, and that's why this coverage is important to have.

If your mistake affects your client, they might sue you. This coverage will cover the cost of the lawsuit.

Cyber Liability Insurance

This insurance protects you when a data breach affects you or your clients.

This is a newer type of insurance that can help cover the cost of data breaches and the costs associated with recovering from them.

Buying Commercial Insurance

Now that you know the answer to the question, "What is commercial insurance?" it's time to shop for a policy.

Your insurance agent will help explain the coverages necessary for your business and provide you with a quote. Contact us today to speak to an insurance expert in our office.

This happy couple and their daughter are protected by homeowners insurance

Your Complete Guide to the Different Types of Homeowners Insurance Policies

What if you doomed your new home by saying a single word?

Most of us say "no" to many extra kinds of homeowner's insurance. It's tough to understand the benefits and drawbacks of all the types of homeowners insurance that are available.

That's why we put together this complete guide. Keep reading to discover if your home needs some additional protection!

Versatile: HO-3

We figured it's best to start with the most common form of homeowners insurance. That form is known as HO-3 or "special" insurance.

What makes this insurance so special? It encompasses everything in the HO-2 (more on that in a moment) and protects against any perils not named.

For example, a policy may specify that it does not protect your home from flooding. If an HO-3 policy does not mention flooding and your house gets flooded, then you are covered.

This insurance protects things attached to your home (such as a garage). And it offers liability insurance against accidental injuries while still protecting all of your possessions inside the home.

While it is not as thorough as comprehensive insurance, HO-3 is relatively affordable. These factors combined are why it is so popular nationwide.

Simple: HO-1

While the HO-3 is the most popular form of home insurance, it's not the most basic form. That honor belongs instead to the HO-1.

Remember how the HO-3 protects against any perils not named? The HO-1 is the exact opposite: It protects only against named perils.

While the exact perils may vary, this insurance typically protects against things like fire, vandalism, theft, and hail. However, you'll quickly notice some limitations.

For example, it may protect against lightning and hail, but not against flooding. So while this policy is the cheapest, you must weigh whether those limitations will mean you must pay more in the long run.

Broader: HO-2

It's easy to describe the HO-2 insurance plan. We like to call it "simple plus."

It covers everything that was already covered in the HO-1 policy, then adds items including protection from freezing, water discharges and accidental electrical damage. You even get protection from more exotic threats such as falling objects.

Sometimes, you may receive additional perks such as personal liability protection, but it ultimately shares the limitation that you have no protection against anything not named.

Comprehensive: HO-5

If the HO-2 is "simple plus" insurance, then the comprehensive HO-5 plan is "special plus." This means you are getting all the benefits of HO-3 along with some extra bells and whistles.

For example, you get better protection for your possessions, and you can get personal liability insurance as comprehensive as you need, though you will pay for this enhanced coverage.

Keep in mind that "comprehensive" insurance still has limitations. You typically aren't protected against floods, settling, mold and water damage, along with neglect or other self-caused problems.

Renter's Insurance: HO-4

So far, we have focused only on homeowners insurance. However, those who rent shouldn't feel left out, as they have their own special form of insurance.

HO-4 insurance is designed for those who rent. It only offers coverage for personal liability and personal belongings.

If you rent, the actual owners are responsible for major repairs in the event of sudden damage, but they don't cover liability or possessions, so this insurance gives renters more peace of mind.

Condo Insurance: HO-6

Nobody wants insurance redundancy. You don't want to pay twice for coverage if you don't have to.

That's why HO-6 insurance is available for condo owners. This form of insurance covers liability, belongings and possibly interior elements like floors and walls.

You typically get the incidental coverage offered by an HO-3, but because your homeowner's association policy typically covers the rest of the structure, an HO-6 lets you only get the level of protection you need.

Older Home: HO-8

Older homes are like older bodies. Over time, they face many unexpected issues that a newer home rarely faces.

That's where the HO-8 insurance comes in. Unlike other insurance plans, this is designed specifically to protect older homes.

This kind of insurance is like the HO-3, but the HO-8 offers special protections that older homes may particularly need.

There is a reason that many historical buildings are protected by this kind of policy. If you live in an older home, then it's in your best interest to check this out!

Mobile Home: HO-7

All of the policies listed so far have been designed for standing structures such as single-family homes and condos. However, there is a type of home we haven't addressed yet: the mobile home.

The best form of insurance for mobile homeowners is HO-7. Similar to the HO-8, it is another modified HO-3 policy.

As you'd expect, you get all the protections offered by the standard HO-3, but you also get special coverage intended to protect mobile homes from the unique threats they encounter.

Optional Insurance

All the forms of insurance we have listed are the most basic ones available. You have probably noticed that all of them have at least some limitations in what they cover.

This is where optional insurance comes in. Do you live in an area prone to flooding or earthquakes? Your insurance won't cover these things, but you can take out an optional policy that does.

Obviously, extra policies add to your overall expenses. Therefore, it's important to check out resources like FEMA flood charts and determine how likely you are to need coverage such as flood insurance.

Types of Homeowners Insurance: The Bottom Line

Now you know about the different types of homeowners insurance, but do you know how to find the affordable and comprehensive coverage you need?

We specialize in insuring individuals and businesses against just about every kind of threat. To see how we can protect your home, contact us today!