As we bring 2016 to a close, it’s important to note that when it comes to insurance, there are some things you can do each year to make sure that you’ve got the best protection for the best price. Here are a few tips for both your personal life and your business that can help you set the right course for the new year and beyond.
Bundle, Bundle, Bundle
Most people have insurance – it’s just a fact of life. Banks require homeowner’s insurance in order to provide a mortgage. Most states require all drivers to have auto insurance. In some places, federal guidelines mandate having flood insurance. But no matter what your insurance needs are, it’s important to know that you can save on your premiums by bundling your policies together. What is bundling? It’s simple – find the insurance provider that best meets all of your needs and use that provider for everything. Doing so can make bills easier to track, save you money, and even simplify the process if you need to make a claim.
Get Health Insurance
If you haven’t already purchased a health insurance plan, and you don’t have a health benefit through your employer, you may want to investigate purchasing insurance soon. Having health insurance can be critical in the event of a catastrophic event or life-threatening illness. And under the Affordable Care Act if you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay a hefty fine to the IRS.
Use Your Benefits
If you do have an employer sponsored health plan, or any other kind of coverage, make sure you’re taking advantage of the benefits they provide. Many dental plans, for example, provide two annual cleanings with no deductible or copay. Similarly, many vision plans offer annual eye exams and biannual frame coverage. Not taking advantage of these benefits is just leaving money on the table – so schedule that appointment at the dentist or the eye doctor before the end of the year!
Know What’s Covered
You know how much you pay each month for insurance, but do you know what it covers? For example, did you know that your homeowner’s insurance probably offers coverage in the event that your dog bites someone? Or that your credit card might offer you travel insurance in the event that you book a trip and have to cancel due to illness or a death in the family? The easiest way to figure out what you need versus what you have is to sit down with your insurance provider and talk about all the different areas where you might need coverage – and then see how they can help!
Double Check Your Discounts
Just like your personal insurance lines, bundling policies together can sometimes provide you with a discount. If you have hazard insurance with one company and other coverage elsewhere, it may be time to think about consolidating. Doing so can simplify things when it’s time to pay the bill, and provide valuable savings.
Pre-Pay Your Premiums
In addition to some insurance providers offering a discount for prepayment of your annual insurance premiums, there can be tax advantages to “paying forward” in the current calendar year. Check with your accountant to see if prepayment can save you on your tax bill.
Make Sure You’re Covered
Has your business grown, expanded, or changed course this year? It’s important to make sure that your policy still has you covered! Talk to your insurance provider about coverage for new equipment, unexpected business opportunities, additional employees, etc.
Evaluate Your Employee Plan(s)
Speaking of employees… if you have people working for you, it’s critical that you provide the correct coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Health insurance is constantly changing, so stay in touch with your insurance provider to make sure you’re staying compliant. You can also review new plan options to reduce premiums and deductibles – for yourself, and your employees.
Protect Yourself Against Cyber Threats
Let’s face it, we all know someone who has had their identity stolen, be it fraudulent charges on a credit card or accounts opened in your name. But in this day and age, businesses of all sizes – not just massive corporations – need to remain vigilant about cyber security. Step one is to contact an IT professional that can help you verify that your data is protected. And while you’re at it, especially if your business deals with high value information (healthcare, finance, etc.), talk to your insurance provider about coverage for data breaches and other cyber threats.
Review Your Policies & Procedures
Insurance is there for when things don’t go according to plan. But the number one protection you have is making sure that everything gets done right the first time. Be sure to review your company’s policies and procedures annually – for everything from worker’s compensation and employment benefits, to purchasing and procurement policies – and make sure that your employees do the same!