El Nino On Its Way: Are You Prepared?

With the ultimate peak of El Nino still yet to come,
are you prepared?

By Ericka Sebastian

The latest El Nino advisory issued by the NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center shows that the strong El Nino will continue through January and most of February and then begin to weaken later in the winter and early spring.

With peaking El Niño conditions, weather experts are predicting heavier than normal amounts of precipitation for many areas of the Southwestern U.S. Travelers is providing the information below to personal and business insurance customers in California, Arizona and the southern counties of Nevada. We wanted you to be aware of this information and encourage you to share it with your family and colleagues.

Below are some tips and suggestions from Travelers Insurance in ensuring that your home and business is protected for the wet season.

For Personal Insurance Customers:

  • Proper maintenance is key. This includes keeping gutters free of debris, ensuring downspouts are clear and water drains away from the foundation of your home. Also, be sure to check the soundness of flashing around chimneys and other roof protrusions, as well as caulking around windows and doors.
  • Strong El Niño storms may be accompanied by high winds. Improperly maintained trees and items such as patio furniture, grills and lawn equipment could pose a hazard for you and your property if not secured properly. Watch a video on how to spot dangerous conditions outside your home.
  • If you have a sump pump, make sure it is in good working order and consider installing a battery backup system in case of power outages.
  • In El Niño conditions, flooding can occur far from rivers and streams. Learn how to prepare for floods. As a reminder, flood damage is not covered under a standard homeowner’s policy. Consider purchasing flood insurance and discussing flood coverage with your agent or insurance representative.

For Business Insurance Customers:

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Photo source: Accuweather.com

>Sign up for weather alerts now Knowing when severe weather may strike can help you and your customers take steps to protect property and stay safe.

For more tips on how to help protect your property, please visit the Travelers Prepare & Prevent website.

TRL Insurance proudly offers Travelers Insurance as a part of our product portfolio and can help you get flood insurance coverage just in time for El Nino. Contact us today!

(source: Travelers Insurance)

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Considering Purchasing Life Insurance?

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If someone depends on you financially, then you definitely need life insurance. Life insurance is essential coverage you will need to provide protection to your family after your death. If you are ready to consider purchasing life insurance, it is important to find a qualified insurance agent that will understand your life insurance needs and help you find the right type of policy that works for you. We at TRL Insurance pride ourselves in over 30 years of experience in the industry and are ready to provide you with excellent service.

In the event of a tragedy, life insurance can:

-help pay for funeral costs
-help pay the bills
-maintain daily living expenses
-continue a family business
-pay off any outstanding debt, including credit cards and mortgages
-finance future needs like your children’s education
-protect a spouse’s retirement plans

The death benefit from a life insurance policy will replace your income and can help your family meet many important financial needs like funeral costs, daily living expenses and college funding. Another advantage to obtaining life insurance is that there is no federal income tax on life insurance benefits.

To help you understand how life insurance might apply to your particular situation, below are a few different scenarios.

You’re Married

There is a common misconception many people believe that they do not need to think about buying life insurance until they have children. On the contrary, consider what if one of you died tomorrow? Even with your surviving spouse’s income, would that be enough to pay off debts like monthly rent, utility bills, credit card balances and car loans? If you’re planning to have children, you’ll want to buy life insurance now instead of waiting until pregnancy.

You’re Married With Kids

Most families are dual-income households and if you suddenly died, your family may not be able to continue meeting their financial obligations. Imagine paying rent or the mortgage to daily living expenses, could your family afford to maintain their standard of living on one spouse’s income alone? Life insurance makes sure that your family is taken care of when you are no longer able to.

You’re a Single Parent

As a single parent, you’re the sole caregiver, breadwinner, mom and dad. With so much responsibility resting on your shoulders, you need to ensure that you have enough life insurance to safeguard your children’s financial future.

You’re a Stay-At-Home Parent

Stay-At-Home Parents provide invaluable financial contributions to the household, like childcare, transportation, cooking, cleaning and other household activities, regardless if they do not earn an actual income. In the event that you were to pass away, your family would be able to afford to make the right choices that can preserve their quality of life with your life insurance policy.

You Have Grown Children

Although your children are done with college and your mortgage is paid off doesn’t mean you no longer need life insurance coverage. If you were to die today, your spouse will still be obligated to face daily living expenses. Without life insurance in your financial plan, would your spouse still be able to maintain their lifestyle into retirement?

You’re Retired

If properly structured, life insurance proceeds are also generally income tax free and will not add to your estate tax liability. Your heirs could be hit with an estate-tax payment of up to 45% after you die depending on the size of your estate. The proceeds of a life insurance policy are payable immediately, allowing heirs to take care of these taxes, funeral costs and other debts without having to hastily liquidate other assets, often at a fraction of their true value.

You’re a Small-Business Owner

Besides protecting your family, life insurance can also help take care of your business. What would happen to your business if you, one of your fellow owners or a key employee died tomorrow? Life insurance can help in a number of ways:

-A life insurance policy can be structured to fund a buy-sell agreement. This would ensure that the remaining business owners have the funds to buy the company interests of a deceased owner at a previously agreed upon price. That way, the owners get the business and the family gets the money.

– In case of the death of a key employee, key person insurance offers protection payable to the company and provides the owners with the financial flexibility needed to either hire a replacement or work out an alternative arrangement.

You’re Single

Most single people don’t need life insurance because no one depends on them financially. However, there are exceptions. For instance, some single people provide financial support for aging parents or a sibling with special needs. Others may be carrying significant debt that they wouldn’t want to pass on to family members who survive them. Insurability is another reason to consider life insurance when you’re single. If you’re young, healthy, and have a good family health history, your insurability is at its peak and you’ll be rewarded with the best rates on life insurance.

If you find yourself nodding along to any of these scenarios, don’t hesitate to give us a call at(866) 821-6569 or email us to schedule a complimentary consultation/request a quote!  Conveniently located in Duarte, CA, we are happy to service the Foothills and Greater Los Angeles County.

 

What is Covered in a Typical Homeowners Insurance Policy?

What are some of the most common standard coverages included in a homeowners insurance policy?  

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Homeowners insurance policies can be catered to the individual homeowner based on their own unique needs.  Knowing what is covered and what isn’t can save you a lot of money later down the line.  Having homeowners insurance coverage gives peace of mind that comes in knowing you are protected if a covered loss happens.

Here is an idea of what is usually covered and not covered in a typical homeowners insurance policy:

Dwelling Protection

Dwelling protection covers the home in which you live, as well as other structures that are attached to it, such as a garage or deck.

Other Structure Protection

A type of insurance that can help protect the physical structure of buildings on property that are separate from your home, such as a shed or stand-alone garage.

Personal Property Protection

Homeowners insurance may also provide coverage for the personal belongings you keep within your dwelling and other structures.  It is a good idea to create a home inventory and pay attention to items of high monetary or personal value.  Be sure to provide your insurance agent the approximate value of any expensive belongings or artwork/collectibles that you own.  Depending on the value of the belongings, your premium may increase or fall, but you will have coverage available to you if they are stolen, damaged or lost.  Ensure that your policy provides adequate coverage for your belongings, and if it doesn’t, you can talk to your insurance agent about possibly raising the limits.

Your furniture, clothes, sports equipment and other personal items are covered if they are stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or other insured disasters. Most companies provide coverage for 50% to 70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. So if you have $100,000 worth of insurance on the structure of your home, you would have between $50,000 to $70,000 worth of coverage for your belongings. The best way to determine if this is enough coverage is to conduct a home inventory.

Natural Disasters

Many typical insurance policies offer coverage for fires, lightning strikes, windstorms and hail, but not all natural disasters are covered.  If you would like to purchase earthquake or flood insurance and your homeowners policy doesn’t provide coverage, you can inquire about adding a separate insurance policy that will cover your home and belongings.
Earthquake and Water Damage

Earthquakes and flooding are not typically covered by your standard policy.  Earthquake insurance can be purchased as an endorsement (an addendum) for an additional fee in all states except California.  In California, earthquake insurance is offered through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA).    According to RMS, the world’s leading catastrophe risk management firm, only 10% of California’s 7 million+ homeowners have earthquake insurance.  Seismologists report California is due for another major earthquake within decades.

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Flood insurance, which includes mudflow, must be purchased as a separate policy and is available only through the government-run National Flood Insurance Program.  If you have overflows or backups from your sump pump, sewer system or drains, your standard policy will not cover the damage.  Coverage is available, however, by adding a separate endorsement.

Liability Protection

Liability covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. So, if your son, daughter or dog accidentally ruins your neighbor’s expensive rug, you are covered.

The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit of your policy. You are also covered not just in your home, but anywhere in the world.

Bodily Injury Liability: A typical homeowners insurance policy provides liability coverage when someone not living with you is injured while on your property.  Sometimes accidents happen and someone gets injured on your property.  Nobody wants to think about lawsuits, especially among friends, but having bodily injury liability coverage can help save you from the financial responsibility of paying an attorney to defend you or paying medical expenses if you are found at fault.

Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. However, experts recommend that you purchase at least $300,000 worth of protection. Some people feel more comfortable with even more coverage. You can purchase an umbrella or excess liability policy which provides broader coverage, including claims against you for libel and slander, as well as higher liability limits. Generally, umbrella policies cost between $200 to $350 for $1 million of additional liability protection.

We are here to help you determine the precise type of coverage you need and the monetary levels of coverage that are right for your situation.  We are happy to guide you through the process and have an extensive product portfolio and represent reputable carriers for home insurance coverage.  Call us today to schedule your complimentary consultation and we can set up a quote for you in minutes!

Don’t Forget to Apply for Covered CA Today!

Today is the last day to apply for health insurance through Covered California if you would like your coverage to start by January 1st, 2016!

Covered California is the health insurance marketplace where Californians can get brand-name health insurance under the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act. Californians can qualify for federal premium assistance and discounts to help buy private insurance from top quality companies.  Alternatively, people can also qualify for health insurance through the state’s Medi-Cal program. Either way, great health coverage is available.

The open enrollment period is from 11/1/15 through 1/31/16.  In order to kick-in your coverage starting January 1st, 2016, you must apply for coverage by today, 12/15/15.  If you apply after the 15th of December, coverage will begin later.  As long as you meet the January 31st, 2016 enrollment deadline, you can avoid owing a tax penalty for being uninsured.

Below are some common questions to help you understand a bit more about how Covered California works:


What if I choose not to get health insurance?
Under the mandate set by the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are required to have health insurance.  If you choose to remain uninsured, you may face a tax penalty.

How does Covered California work?
Covered California is the marketplace Californians can get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  Upon submitting your application, you can see if you qualify for financial subsidies from the federal government to help you pay your monthly premiums.

Coverage is based on estimated income for the coverage year, your ZIP code, household size, age and the health plan/benefit level selected.  Low-income and moderate-income households can get help buying insurance from Covered Caliifornia through monthly subsidies that lower premium costs.

Premiums are not determined by pre-existing conditions, meaning insurance companies can no longer charge a person a higher premium nor can they refuse to cover someone due to pre-existing health conditions.

You can shop online, in person, by phone, or contact us for a free consultation for assistance to help you compare different health insurance plans and learn if you qualify for financial help and federal tax credits to reduce monthly premiums.


How do premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions work?
There are 2 main types of help to pay for coverage:
1) Premium Assistance: A tax credit to reduce a person’s monthly premium cost.
In order to qualify, there are certain income requirements that must be met.  To be eligible:
-Must be a US Citizen/National/Lawfully present immigrant buying insurance through Covered California
-Annual household income between 138-400% of FPL (federal poverty level)
-Not have access to other public health coverage/affordable minimum value health insurance through an employer.

2) Cost-Sharing Reductions: Subsidies to reduce an individual’s out-of-pocket costs (co-pays, coinsurance, out-of-pocket maximum).
Individuals who are eligible for premium assistance and have an annual household income of up to 250% of the FPL can qualify for cost-sharing reductions.  You will find out if you qualify for cost-sharing reductions after completing the Covered California application. If you qualify, you will only receive them if you select a Silver-level plan.

What are the plan options?
You’ll have a choice of buying insurance from at least two but as many as six private insurance companies, depending on where you live. The vast majority of Covered California consumers have access to insurance plans from at least three different companies. Each plan offers products in multiple metal tiers (or coverage levels), which vary whether you want to pay more for your monthly premium and less when you use care, or pay less for your premium and more when you use care. Consumers with limited incomes may learn they qualify for Medi-Cal.

To see which brand-name insurance companies offer plans in your area, use the Shop and Compare Tool.

 

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How much does it cost?
Use the Shop and Compare Tool 
to get an estimate of what your costs may be for coverage starting the 2016 year.  You can use this tool to input your income, zip code, and household size.  Please note, you will need to re-enter this information during the application process, but this tool will help you get a general idea of what your costs may be like.

What if my income changes throughout the coverage year?
Household size, income and ZIP code are the items on this list that are most likely to change during the year.  If you move, it is important to notify Covered California so your mailing address can be updated.  Additionally, if your ZIP code is in a new plan region, you will need to pick a new plan, and your premium amount and premium assistance will likely change.

It’s also really important to notify Covered California about changes in your household size and income, because these are part of how your premium assistance is calculated.  If your household size and projected income change a lot during the year, the amount of premium assistance you are eligible for will also change.  So, during the year, it’s important to consider the income you entered at the time of your application and to notify Covered California if your income changes significantly, so that your premium assistance amount can be adjusted.

You can report changes in your income through your online account, with the help of a certified enroller or by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

Where can I apply?
You can apply for coverage by creating an account on the Covered CA website and submitting your application online.  You may also contact us for a complimentary consultation to assist you with the application process.  Be sure to have your documents handy when filling out your application.  To speed up the process, have your financial documents ready, such as income information (tax return/W-2) and bank statements to verify proof of income.  In case additional information is needed on your application, be prepared to scan these documents online through the portal.  Be sure that you are inputting income information for the year of coverage.  If your income has changed significantly from the year before, be sure to have the necessary proof available to display your current income situation.

Be sure to submit your application by today or contact our office if you need any assistance in moving forward with the Covered California process. Don’t forget we offer a complimentary consultation and happy to answer any more of your questions! To schedule your complimentary consultation, please call us at 626-358-4663, visit our website , or email us!

Make note of today’s deadline to get coverage right away at the beginning of the New Year!

 

(source: Covered California)