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.

Who Needs a Medicare Health Insurance Plan?

When it comes to medical insurance and Medicare, it is easy to get confused with what you need and what you don’t. Medicare is the USA’s national health insurance plan that covers some specific age groups and demographics.

Medicare health insurance plans can help with the cost of your health care; however, it is important to know that it doesn’t cover all of your medical expenses, and it doesn’t cover long-term care, either.

You Have Options

You can choose to have original Medicare, Part A and Part B coverage, or you can purchase and Medicare supplement insurance from a private insurance company.

Components of Medicare

Your Social Security will already enroll you in original Medicare, Part A, and Part B. But you must understand what both parts entail.

  • Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. This will help pay for any of your inpatient care in a hospital or for a very limited time at a skilled nursing facility. This must be following a hospital stay. Part A also pays for some healthcare.
  • Medicare Part B, or medical insurance, will help pay for the services if you receive from doctors and a range of other healthcare providers. This includes home health care, durable medical equipment, preventative services, and outpatient care.

Some parts of Medicare are run out by private insurance companies, and these will follow the rules set by Medicare.

  • Medigap, which is supplemental policies will help pay Medicare out of pocket co-payment, deductible expenses, and other insurance.
  • Medicare advantage plan, which used to be known as part C, includes all benefits and services covered in Part A and Part B. This covers prescription drugs and additional benefits such as hearing, dental, and vision. These are all bundled together in one plan.
  • Medicare Part D, known as Medicare prescription drug coverage, helps cover your prescription drugs' cost.

Most people aged 65 or older are typically eligible for free medical hospital insurance; this is Part A. This counts if they have worked and paid for Medicare taxes for long enough. You can enroll in Medicare medical insurance as described above, also known as Part B, by paying a monthly premium.

If you are in a higher income tax bracket, you might pay a higher monthly party premium. It is important to read about Medicare premiums and the rules of higher-income beneficiaries.

Who Can Get Medicare?

Generally, a Medicare health insurance plan is available for people aged 65 and older. Younger people with disabilities and people with any stage of renal disease have to be permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis for transplant.

For Part A, if you are 65 older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for 10 years, you are eligible.

You can get Part A at 65 without paying premiums if the following criteria apply to you.

  • You are receiving retirement benefits from Social Security, or a Railroad Retirement Board
  • You or your spouse had Medicare government employment
  • You are eligible to receive Social Security or Rail benefits, but you have not filed for them

If you or your spouse happens to not pay and you’re aged 65 or older, and a permanent resident or citizen of the United States if you might be able to purchase the Medicare Part B.

If the following criteria applied to you.

  • You are on kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant patient
  • You are entitled to secure Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefit for at least 24 months. If you have Lou Gehrig’s disease, your Medicare benefits start the same month you get disability benefits.

Most people don’t have to pay a premium for Part A, everyone must pay for Part B if they want it. Its monthly premium is easily deducted from your Social Security, civil servant retirement cheque, or rather the time it.

If you do not get any of these payments, Medicare will send you a bill for Part B of your premium every three months.

What is a Special Enrollment Period?

If you have medical insurance coverage and a great health plan based on your spouse's or your current employment, you most likely do not need to apply for Medicare Part B at age 65.

You and your spouse might qualify for a special enrolment period, SEP. That will let you sign up for Part B doing the following criteria.

The eight months begin with a month after your grip health plan current coverage for your employment is based on ends. This will be whichever one comes first.

Any month that you remain covered under your group health plan and you continue to be employed.

Do I Need to Sign Up for Medical Insurance Part B?

Because you must pay a premium for Part B Medicare coverage, it was possible to turn this down.

If you do choose not to enroll in Medicare and then later decide to do so, you’re covered even most likely to be delayed, and you might have to pay a higher monthly premium.

Your premium will go up by 10% for each of the 12 months you are eligible for Part B that you did not sign up. This is unless you qualify for the SEP, it is a special enrolment period for Medicare.

Medicare Cards

Your medical care card has a Medicare number unique to you.

You will get this once you applied for your medical card. If you did not receive your red white and blue Medicare card, there might be something that needs to be updated on your current contact details. Example your mailing address.

You can update your mailing address by signing in or creating a personal my Social Security account online.

Medicare, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS, manage Medicare. They will send you a welcome to the Medicare package in the mail. This will include your Medicare card.

Along with your Medicare card, you will also receive a Medicare handbook; this will give you all the important information about your Medicare health insurance plan choices.

Tropical Storm Isaias: Filing an Insurance Claim

Today, many of you were hit by Tropical Storm Isaias, and some of you have been left without power and potential property damage.

If you’ve experienced property damage, we want to provide you with what to do next. See below:

  • Contact your carrier
  • Document everything with pictures and video
  • Make necessary repairs to reduce further damage

While you are doing this, please make sure you are doing so safely. If you have minor damages, are not sure if you should call your carrier or still have questions, you can always contact us by:

We are here to help, so please stay safe and take care!

Two white males in a fender bender

How You Can Find Affordable Car Insurance in NJ

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

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

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

The Basic Types of Affordable Car Insurance in NJ

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

Liability Insurance

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

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

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

Collision Insurance

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

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

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

Comprehensive Car Insurance

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

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

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

How to Find the Best Car Insurance Coverage

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

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

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

Personal Liability and Personal Injury

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

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

Shop Around

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

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

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

Inquire About Discounts

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

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

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

Have Good Credit

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

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

Raise Your Deductible

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

Reduce Coverage on Old Cars

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

Bottom Line

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

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

COVID-19 personal auto insurance credits graphic

COVID-19 Personal Auto Insurance Credits

To keep our clients informed, during this difficult period, put together a list of some personal auto insurance carriers who are offering credits to their customers.

As we receive new information from these providers, we'll be making updates to the page. In the meantime, we encourage you to bookmark this link and check back periodically for updates.

If you don't see your carrier listed, or have any questions about your coverage, feel free to give us a call: 732-383-7158


Updated 4/13/20:

We are bringing to your attention the Auto Premium Credit announcement that has just been released. This is another step Chubb has taken to properly service clients during this pandemic.

We will communicate in greater detail the effective dates for your clients as we work through operationalizing this program and complying with any state regulatory requirements. Thank you for your patience and for all that you're doing to serve clients during these rapidly changing times.

Please stay safe and healthy.

Official News Release:

Chubb Announces Premium Credit for U.S. Auto Policyholders to Reflect Changing Driving Habits Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic - Savings for U.S. personal auto clients to average $110 per vehicle

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. April 13, 2020- Chubb is providing its personal auto insurance clients in the U.S. with a credit on annual renewal premiums as a result of reduced driving activity.

Upon renewal, clients will receive a credit reflecting a 35% premium reduction for the months of April and May, with additional discounts for subsequent months, as the situation warrants. Across Chubb's portfolio, the average credit is expected to be $110 per vehicle. Clients will not have to request the credit, it will be applied automatically at renewal. All premium and rate adjustments are subject to regulatory approval. 

"In these rapidly changing times, we have been thinking about our clients and the challenges they are facing. We recognize that there has been a reduction in our clients' driving activity as a result of this pandemic," said Fran O'Brien, Division President, North America Personal Risk Services. "This credit reflects our commitment to providing a fair premium adjustment to our clients, while ensuring they continue to receive Chubb's best-in-class auto coverage."

Updated 4/9/20:

Chubb PRS: Examining the impact of lower auto usage.

Recently we have received questions regarding carriers who have made the decision to provide their clients with refunds based on their changing driving behaviors in this unprecedented environment.

As a matter of course, changes in loss frequency would be included in our annual rate reviews and reflected in our pricing.

We recognize that the current situation may have a long timeline with a prolonged dip in frequency depending on the speed of economic recovery.

We are currently evaluating the situation to determine an appropriate course of action for our clients. In the meantime, please be assured that our top priority is servicing you and our clients.

We are proud of the way in which our industry has responded in this crisis. At Chubb, just as you have, we have fully transitioned to working from home.

Our team has implemented virtual risk consulting visits and claims adjustments while staying very engaged with our mutual clients.

Your clients who suffer a claim or need billing assistance will be glad that your firms are there to advise them and have recommended broad coverages from a company known for high levels of service.

We are also proud of Chubb's $10 million pledge for pandemic relief and our commitment to our employees that there will be no layoffs during this time.

We remain committed to helping you and your clients through this crisis. Please stay safe and healthy.


Eligible auto customers will get an average payback of about 15% based on their monthly insurance costs during April and May.

Payment Relief

Encompass customers experiencing financial challenges can call Encompass to learn how to delay payments without penalty.

The Special Payment Plan gives auto and homeowner insurance customers the choice to delay two consecutive premium payments.

Customers also can choose to pay what they can afford

Mercury Insurance

Recognizing that many customers are driving their vehicles less as a result of shelter-in-place actions, Mercury plans to give back 15% of monthly premiums for April and May 2020.

This applies to all Mercury Private Passenger Automobile policyholders. Customers will receive their Givebacks in the same manner their premiums were paid.

As soon as we receive guidance and approval from the Department of Insurance, we expect to begin processing the payments.


Recognizing the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, MetLife is taking action to help its customers during this challenging time.

The company’s property and casualty business, MetLife Auto & Home®, is providing financial relief, preserving coverage in the event of missed payments, and processing claims remotely to ensure social distancing.

“Being there for our customers when they need us the most is the promise MetLife delivers on every day,” notes Darla Finchum, president, MetLife Auto & Home®. “People are struggling, through no fault of their own, and we can help.”

MetLife Auto & Home® is offering the following to its customers nationwide:

Payment & Billing Leniency

Effective immediately, MetLife Auto & Home® will not cancel policies due to non-payment through July 1, 2020.

Customers experiencing difficulties with payments can contact MetLife Auto & Home® directly for assistance.

MetLife Auto Premium Relief

Active MetLife Auto customers who are paid to date will receive a 15% credit for April and May based on their monthly premiums.

No action is required by customers to receive the credit. MetLife Auto & Home® will apply a future credit to the customer’s account.

Extension for Personal Auto Delivery Coverage

Many of MetLife Auto & Home® auto insurance policies already provide coverage for people using their personal vehicles for delivering medicine or food.

MetLife Auto & Home® is extending coverage under all personal auto insurance programs at no additional charge while customers are making deliveries in response to the crisis, effective March 20, 2020, through May 1, 2020.


We realize that not all of our customers can make the pivot to usage-based insurance right now, yet many customers are currently experiencing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To get relief in the hands of our customers quickly and simply, we are offering a one-time premium refund of $50 per policy for personal auto policies active as of March 31, 2020.

Customers don’t need to do anything. Refunds will automatically be credited to the customers’ most recent method of payment (automatic withdrawal, credit card, personal check) within the next 30 days.

We are offering this rapid relief at a time when drivers are making the right choice to stay off the road and remain home to help “flatten the curve.”

The refund applies to all personal auto policies including Private Client. The premium refund and timing are subject to individual state Departments of Insurance approval.

Penn National

Penn National is returning premiums to assist our Personal Auto policyholders during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to our normal routines and unimaginable losses to some of our friends, family members and local communities. Social distancing policies have required restaurants, offices, small businesses and schools to close.

These closures along with government-mandated stay-at-home orders for non-essential travel have resulted in a decline in vehicle use and miles driven. It is estimated that there will be significantly fewer miles driven during the months of March and April nationwide.

Pending regulatory approval, a credit of 15% will be applied to two months of premiums for those policies in force as of April 30 in recognition of the temporary reduction in vehicle miles driven.

The credit will automatically be applied to the policyholder’s next premium balance or refunded if paid in full. Premium returned benefits our 165,000 Personal Auto customers.

While the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains uncertain, we know customers are driving less and the fewer accidents are reflected in our return premium.

Helping support our policyholders and our community

In addition to providing refunds and premium credits to policyholders, we continue to support our customers and the greater community in a number of ways.

  • Flexible billing – We are providing an extended 30-day premium grace period to allow customers more time to pay before cancellation notices are sent. We are waiving late fees and reinstatement fees. Our Customer Contact Center representatives also have the authority switch a policyholder to a more convenient payment plan.
  • Uninterrupted customer support – Thanks to our technology and business continuity preparations, we continue to be available during normal business hours. Also, our customers can report claims 24/7.
  • Support for front-line healthcare workers – We recently donated over 19,000 respirator masks to Geisinger Holy Spirit Healthcare. We appreciate the tireless work of all healthcare professionals and will continue to look for ways to support them.

We will continue to keep you informed of new developments.

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock was founded on the principle of doing the right thing for our customers and agents. That means going above and beyond to provide more than just insurance – most importantly during difficult times like the one we’re living in now.

We understand that nearly everyone has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way, and many are experiencing serious financial hardship. We want to do everything we can to help our customers, particularly those who are most in need.

We have issued a press release detailing our planned relief efforts for customers. As a part of the announcement, we will introduce our “pay it forward” option, which gives anyone who wishes the ability to donate their auto insurance premium credit to a non-profit that is providing relief for those hit hardest by COVID‑19. It’s a simple way to help those most in need.

Additionally, Plymouth Rock plans to offer the following relief to its customers, subject to regulatory approval:

  • A 25% premium credit on Liability and Personal Injury Protection Coverages
  • The option to “pay it forward” by donating auto insurance premium credit to a non-profit organization
  • The waiver of comprehensive and collision deductibles for any health care worker involved in an accident while driving to and from work, or in the line of duty
  • Application of the home insurance Additional Living Expense Coverage to any health care worker required by illness or job requirements caused by COVID-19 to temporarily reside somewhere other than their primary residence when payment for these expenses is not provided by the health worker’s employer or another source
  • Continuation of our payment flexibility, including waiving of late fees and a 60-day grace period (longer in some states), holds on cancellations and non-renewals for non-payment, per state guidelines
  • Extension of our food and legal medicine delivery accommodation
  • All relief will be available to current policies and new business, effective April 1 and extended until each state’s individual stay-at-home orders are lifted.

You can read our press release in detail on the Plymouth Rock website. And for all of our COVID-19 related information, please visit the COVID-19 Independent Agent Message Center.


Progressive returns $1 billion in premium to customers.

Today we announced that we’re providing credits of approximately $1 billion in premium to Progressive personal auto customers as a result of fewer claims that come with less frequent driving.

Subject to approval by state regulators, Progressive personal auto customers who have a policy in force as of April 30 will be credited 20% of their April premiums in May and personal auto customers with a policy in force as of May 31 will be credited 20% of their May premiums in June.

We estimate that the sum of these two credits will total approximately $1 billion. We may offer additional credits in the upcoming months.

Customers will not need to take any actions to receive the benefits. The credits will be applied automatically to the customer’s policy and those customers who have paid in full will receive a payment of the credited amounts.

If they have a balance on the policy, we’ll apply the credit directly to the remaining balance. And if they’ve already paid in full, we’ll return the money to the payment account we have on file— please make sure your customers’ payment details are up to date.


In efforts to provide relief to insureds during these uncertain times, customers with personal and business auto insurance policies will receive a 15% premium credit for April and May related to the various COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.

Please see attached press release and Q&A document for further details. We've included some of the more pressing questions below.

Who will qualify for a COVID-19-premium credit? 

The COVID-19 premium credit is only for customers with personal and business auto insurance policies in force as of April 30, 2020 and May 31, 2020.

How will the COVID-19 premium credit be applied?

15% of the monthly premium for the months of April and May will be applied as a credit to the account of each customer who has an in-force personal and/or business auto policy as of April 30, 2020 and May 31, 2020.

How can a customer find out exactly how much of a COVID-19 credit they’ll receive?

Customers who use our self-service portal and have shared their email address will receive a personalized email with their calculated COVID-19 premium credit, and any applicable credit will appear on a customer’s bill.

When will customers receive their COVID-19 premium credit?

We are currently working with state regulators on our planned premium credit, but we expect to apply the 15% credit for customers with an inforce auto policy as of April 30 in early May and as of May 31 in early June.


We know that many of you are doing your part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.

That means many of you are driving fewer miles, resulting in a decrease in auto claims.

With that in mind, we have launched the Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program, which will automatically give you a 15% credit on your April and May premiums.

It’s our way of supporting you, and we hope it helps ease some of the financial burden many are experiencing.

And the best part: You don’t need to do anything. If you pay by monthly installments, you will receive the automatic credit on future bills. If you have already paid in full, you will receive a direct payment.


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

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

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

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

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

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

What Renter's Insurance Covers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would fall under your auto insurance policy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Renters Insurance Doesn't Cover

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

Not every type of damage falls under the coverage.

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

That includes flooding, earthquakes and sinkholes.

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

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

This includes high-value art, jewelry and antiques.

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

Why You Need It

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

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

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

Some landlords require renter's insurance.

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

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

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

You'll simply be without everything you lose.

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

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

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

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

Calculating Your Insurance Needs

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

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

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

You may have much more than that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discount Options

Renter's insurance rates vary by state.

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

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

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

It also decreased the two years prior to that.

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

You can make it more affordable with discounts.

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

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

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

That includes deadbolt locks, smoke detectors and security systems.

What to Know About Renters Insurance

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

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

Do you need help getting the correct coverage in place?

Contact us today and we can help you get covered.

a home workstation

Neither Here Nor There: Should I Have Home Office Insurance?

Whether you work from home part-time or you run your entire business out of your home, you may want to consider getting a separate insurance plan to cover any potential losses.

You may wonder if you need home office insurance, or if your current homeowner's policy covers everything you need.

Read on to learn more about this specific type of insurance and whether you need it.

It's crucial to know that your important information and assets will safe in an emergency.

Homeowners Insurance Basics

Most insurance companies will cover your home's structure and will pay for repairs for specific types of damages.

Yet, if you use part of your home to work or run a business, there are definitely some limitations.

Each policy is different, but most policies will offer you very limited coverage to any of your property used for business purposes.

In fact, this coverage limit is usually as low as $2,500 and could be even lower for specific items such as computers.

If you use a separate structure such as a garage or shed for your business, traditional homeowner's insurance likely won't cover damages.

And, when it comes to sensitive information or business records, that won't be covered either.

For many business owners, lost revenue can be detrimental.

If you lose revenue as a result of your home becoming damaged or uninhabitable, traditional homeowner's insurance will not reimburse you.

It's also important to note that you won't get liability coverage for your business under a traditional homeowner's policy.

If there's bodily injury or property damage, it won't be covered unless you have a separate home office insurance policy.

What Home Office Insurance Covers

When you get a separate home office insurance policy, it will cover a variety of things for your business.

Most importantly, it should cover things like your business equipment.

Equipment refers to anything from computers and copy machines to your smartphone.

Most standard homeowner's insurance policies have a monetary coverage limit on the contents of your home.

If you have vital business equipment that you use at home, we recommend a separate policy.

It's important to note that your business equipment will only be covered when it's used inside your home.

For example, if you take your laptop with you and it gets damaged on a job site, your policy may not cover it.

You may be able to add a supplemental policy to cover the things you take off-premises.

As a business owner, you should also have a form of general liability coverage.

If someone comes to your home and gets injured, this should help to cover their medical expenses and protect you from a lawsuit.

Perhaps you use your vehicle to conduct business.

If you do, you must make sure that your vehicle is also covered under a separate business policy.

And, if you sell a physical product from your home, consider opting for product liability coverage.

This insurance will protect you if customers claim the product has what's known as "nonperformance."

It may also cover you if someone gets injured because of using your product.

Other Important Things to Consider

While your property and your liability are both crucial to a good home office insurance policy, there are a few other components you may want to add.

These items can be optional, or they may be required depending on several factors.

If you have a large business or live in a specific jurisdiction, you may have to enroll in these other coverages.

The coverage you need may also depend on how much revenue you get from your business.

When you offer services, you must have some professional liability coverage.

This protects you and your clients and can be a real life-saver for many business owners.

Professional liability insurance protects you if a client says they've suffered damages through your actions as a professional.

This insurance protects your personal assets and can also help to pay for your legal defense.

Make sure you go in-depth with your agent to make sure you have the right level of coverage and limitations.

You may also need errors and omissions insurance.

This applies if you're getting paid to give someone professional advice. If someone says that they suffered damages because of your advice, this insurance should protect you.

Disability insurance is another important aspect of home office coverage.

If you become disabled and cannot work or lose income, the policy may provide you with some compensation.

And finally, business interruption coverage is another thing to consider.

This covers any lost revenue if you have to suspend business activities due to flooding, a fire, or other forms of disasters.

Protect Yourself and Your Business

Now that you're aware of what is covered by a home office insurance policy, it's easy to see why it's a crucial part of working from your home.

Whether it's your laptop or a customer complaint, having separate insurance will keep you protected.

Talk to an insurance agent who understands the nuances of this specialized insurance.

When you enroll in a policy, you'll have the peace of mind you need to operate your business in confidence.

For all your business insurance needs, be sure to contact us today for more information and we'll be happy to provide you with a quote.

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.

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.

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.