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The Precautions You May Not Think of Before Vacation
While the chances of you being affected by violence on vacation are typically low, there are other risks that you need to consider: like an unexpected problem at home - such as a plumbing leak - when you are thousands of miles away, having valuables stolen, injuring yourself in a scooter crash or having your personal data hijacked.
Although the idea of taking a vacation is to leave your everyday life behind for a while, if you fail to take certain actions ahead of time, you could end up being hit with a nasty surprise. These are some of the precautions you can take:
Batten the hatches
If you think burglary is the biggest risk to your unoccupied home when you are away, you will be surprised to know that according to the Insurance Information Institute, the average post-vacation burglary claim is for $3,990, while the average loss cost for water-related damage is more than $8,800.
While you may think that a small leak can't cause much damage, it can if left unattended. While a leak when you are at home may go undetected for a day or two, if nobody is home at all it can cause serious damage since nobody is there to stop it.
The time between when a leak occurs and when it's discovered directly impacts the severity (and cost) of water damage.
Here's what you could do:
Turn off your main water supply before traveling.
Check for any leaks prior to departure.
Ask a neighbor you trust or a relative to check on your home every few days (they can also grab your mail and put it inside).
Consider installing a water shut-off device, if you don't already have one. If you do have one, replace all batteries and set the device to "away mode" before leaving.
If you bring jewelry, check your coverage
While the smartest choice is to leave expensive jewelry at home, some people do like to bring it along. A typical homeowner's policy has a $5,000 cap on valuables so if your bling is worth more than that, you may want to consider a jewelry rider with worldwide all-risk coverage to your homeowner's policy.
Take care of your jewelry:
Don't pack jewelry items in your checked luggage.
Keep all jewelry in your carry-on, preferably one that you can keep on your person during the whole flight.
After checking in, and when not wearing it, keep your jewelry in the hotel's main safe - not in the room safe. Keep the jewelry there until you intend to wear it.
Don't wear your jewelry at the beach or in the pool.
While you may be tempted to share your vacation photos live or the same day you take them on Facebook or Instagram, there is a chance this can tip off would-be thieves that your home is unattended. If you are sharing, make sure you have your Facebook privacy settings to friends and family only, and consider postponing uploads to the more open Instagram.
Also, don't use the "check-in" function or hashtags, as doing so can alert local thieves that a potentially gullible tourist is in the vicinity.
Also, unsecured Wi-Fi networks are prevalent in hotel lobbies, restaurants and other tourist destinations. Vigilant hackers can gain entry into your mobile device and your personal data on these networks, so use with care.
Call your agent today to check your coverage before you leave, 314-351-HALO(4256).
Understanding the Medicare Part D 'Donut Hole"
If you have a Medicare Part D plan for your prescription drugs, you may get a surprise at the pharmacist: The drug you were taking that has been covered all year suddenly isn't covered anymore. Your pharmacist will charge you more for the drug.
If this happens to you, you've probably run into the Medicare Part D coverage gap, often called the "donut hole."
Here's how it works:
Once you and your plan have spent a certain dollar amount within a calendar year, coverage ceases. You'll have to spend more for drugs out of pocket, or find some other resources, until you hit a catastrophic coverage threshold. At that point, Medicare Part D will cover your prescription drugs again, as it did before.
As of 2018, you'll run into the donut hole once you've spent $3,750 in prescription drug costs. Once you hit that threshold, your coverage decreases, and you will need to pay 35% of the cost of brand-name drugs and 44% of the cost of generics. You'll continue to be charged this amount until you reach the catastrophic coverage threshold of $5,000 on prescription drugs during the calendar year.
Once you have emerged from the donut hole and you are in the catastrophic coverage phase, you will be charged not more than 5% of your prescription drug costs from that point.
The good news: Things will improve next year, when Part D beneficiaries will only have to pay 25% of drug costs while in the coverage gap. That's because pharmaceutical manufacturers currently pay 50% of brand-name drug costs while customers are in the donut hole. Under a law passed in February 2018, these pharmaceutical companies will begin paying 70% next year.
How to Reduce Drug Costs
Switch to generics. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist and ask about any generics that may be available. Many brand-name drugs have generic equivalents available at a fraction of the cost.
Switch to mail order pharmacies. Mail order companies can often provide drugs at steep discounts compared to bricks-and-mortar stores.
Shop around. Some plans provide better coverage during the coverage gap period. You may need to pay a higher premium, but it may be worth it if you spend more than $3,750 on prescription drugs. Before switching, check to ensure the drugs you are taking are in the plan formulary, and therefore covered.
Enroll in a State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program. Most states maintain and fund their own program to help lower-income or disabled Medicare beneficiaries with drug costs. Each state's program varies, but you may qualify for assistance with premiums, deductibles or copays.
Apply for the Extra Help program. The Extra Help program is a Medicare and Medicaid-run program that helps those with limited financial resources cover the cost of prescription drugs. Most people who qualify will receive the following benefits:
No deductibles (except when receiving a partial subsidy)
Cost of not more than $8.35 for each drug covered under their plan.
Note: Don't stop paying Medicare Part D premiums. If you cease doing so, you could get disenrolled from the program, and be subject to a permanent late-enrollment penalty when you try to sign up again.
If you or a loved one are having trouble paying drug costs while in the donut hole, contact the National Council on Aging (NCOA.org) which runs 69 Benefits Enrollment Centers nationwide. Counselors at these centers may be able to help you enroll in a number of state or local programs that may help you cover your drug costs.
Use Technology to Prevent Losses and Manage Your Risk
Businesses are discovering that smartphones and tablet computers, besides being distractions for their employees, can also help them better manage their risks.
An increasing number of applications for these devices - matched with other technologies - can help businesses prevent losses, reduce the chances of workplace accidents and manage their risks.
Mobile devices can now connect to business security and utilities systems. Many security equipment vendors offer apps that give business owners instant information when they're away from the premises. For example, the system may send a text alert to a smartphone if a security camera picks up sudden movements. Other systems communicate via apps that will send alerts to you on your phone in similar situations.
Other systems may stream videos from multiple security cameras to a smartphone app, enabling the owner or personnel to keep an eye on the premises during off hours. This real-time information can help business owners limit the size of losses. For example, a system might send a text alert when it detects a leak in the building's plumbing system. Once alerted, the building owner can shut off the water remotely or in person, thus limiting the extent of the damage.
Video from cameras that monitor the premises can also be saved and used in helping businesses and police recover stolen property.
A coffee manufacturer in Portland, Oregon, implemented a system like this. Weeks after installation, it recorded video of a burglar stealing thousands of dollars in equipment. The owners downloaded the video, sent it to the local police, and posted it on social media channels. The video produced a full criminal investigation, arrest and conviction.
Companies that install security and utilities systems and accompanying apps can often get a reduction in their premiums.
This is particularly true for businesses that own or sell items attractive to thieves, such as jewelry, electronics, medicine, or certain building materials such as copper.
Businesses can also reduce losses and insurance premiums by using telematics technology with their vehicles. These devices transmit real-time information about how a vehicle is being used. They capture information such as driving, speed, stopping speed, time and location. Businesses can use this data to monitor how their drivers are performing and identify training and incentive issues. With this information, management might decide to reward drivers for a certain number of accident-free miles. This should reduce accident frequency and lower the businesss's auto insurance premiums.
GPS technology can also help businesses track stolen vehicles and trailers, so an insurance claim will be either unnecessary or recoverable. Also, if a driver has an accident or medical event, GPS enables the business to locate the vehicle and driver immediately and dispatch emergency responders to the scene more quickly. Some insurers offer discounts to businesses that implement GPS tracking.
Other risk management apps
Risk Reporter is for Android devices, iPhones and iPads. It is designed to help risk managers keep track of their organization's potential risks. Users can record risk-related events as they occur and e-mail them to supervisors, all the while noting suggested risk-control measures and action plans
Citicus MOCA is for iPhones and iPads. It is a risk-management application that identifies the various effects that supply-chain disruption can have on a business. The app enables the user to list the company's resources, exposures and probability of risk-event occurrence. It then generates a graph, which can be uploaded into a PDF, plotting the organization's asset worth and maximum loss value over time.
Risk Assessor is for both Android and iPhones. It lets you create detailed safety reports from your phone or tablet. Brand up the reports with your company details and create a bespoke hazard and control list to suit your business.
Understanding Your Auto Insurance Policy's Rental Car Coverage
WHEN YOUR car gets damaged in an accident or stolen, the repair or recovery cost is only part of the story. Without another vehicle available, your only recourse may be to rent one. The good news is that your policy may already include coverage to defray the cost of a rental.
The standard personal auto policy includes a coverage called "transportation expenses." If you have purchased collision coverage on your car and that car is damaged in a collision, this coverage will pay for "temporary transportation expenses." The same applies if you have purchased comprehensive coverage. If the car is damaged by something other than a collision, the policy will cover these expenses. The policy pays up to $20 per day, up to a maximum of $600. This coverage applies to a vehicle to which you do not ordinarily have access, such as a friend's car or a rental.
Time limitations apply. If your owned or borrowed car is stolen, coverage begins 48 hours after the theft and ends when you are able to use the vehicle again or when the insurance company pays you for the loss.
If the cause of loss is something other than theft, the insurance pays the expenses incurred more than 24 hours after you lose use of the vehicle. Finally, the insurance stops paying at the end of the period of time reasonably required to repair or replace the vehicle.
How it works
John has both comprehensive and collision coverages on his sedan. A frayed wire in the engine catches fire, resulting in major damage to the car. The car is in the shop for 15 days, so he rents a replacement for $35 per day. His insurance will pay $20 per day, starting with the expenses he incurs starting 48 hours later.
Sue walks out of a store to find an empty space where her car should have been. She reports the theft to the police and her insurance company. The insurer will pay $20 per day, starting 48 hours after she discovered the car missing.
Dexter has no collision coverage on his car. A month later, a bee stings him while he's driving and he plows into a highway sign. The insurer will not cover his rental costs because he had not purchased collision coverage.
NOTE: Not all auto insurance policies are the same. Some may pay more than $20 per day for rental costs, but they will pay only if the insured vehicle is stolen. Others cover theft only and pay less than $20. Check with us to find out what coverage you have. If it's not what you would like, ask the agent if you can purchase additional coverage.
To learn more talk with an agent, today at 314-351-HALO(4256)