5 Car Insurance Trends for 2018

Posted by on Jan 17, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on 5 Car Insurance Trends for 2018

5 Car Insurance Trends for 2018

According to Ted Gramer, CEO of TrueMotion, a mobile telematics firm in Boston, the most seismic shift in car insurance since it began over 100 years and it’s occurring now. Gramer wrote an article on the 5 car insurance trends he sees either beginning or unfolding this year. The article was published by Insurance Journal and provides some interesting insight into changes many consumers will find interesting, refreshing, and possibly long overdue. I think his observations are worth sharing here.

Here’s how he sees 2018 unfolding:

  1. The customer will win. Low engagement, poor satisfaction and complicated processes will not survive in the $200 billion U.S. auto insurance market. Consumers have come to expect delightful experiences like they have with Amazon, Google and Apple, and they benchmark all company experiences against them. Auto insurance is no exception. Either incumbents will figure it out or new entrants will. In 2018, we’ll see the battle heat up with a focus on the customer experience.
  2. Expect UBI 2.0. The results are in: Driving data is highly predictive, mobile telematics has reduced the barriers to entry, consumers are signing up, and the carriers that started early are winning. Expect carriers to leverage driving data in new and innovative ways that go broader than just price targeting high-value segments. This will include levels of personalization not possible before, using mobile channels to drive customer engagement and loyalty. Carriers that have fallen behind will scramble to catch up.
  3. A massive opportunity in claims will fully emerge. After decades of claims functioning as the old school, back office part of the business, carriers are seeing the potential for game-changing impact on the customer experience, expenses and loss costs. In five years, claims will look nothing like it does today. The mosaic will be filled in beginning in 2018.
  4. The hype around connected cars and autonomous vehicles will continue. The key word being hype. The ugly math is that it will still be at least 15 years until connected cars penetrate half the U.S. vehicle fleet. Level 5 autonomy will take even longer. Unfortunately, the auto insurance deck will likely be reshuffled before then. To prepare for the transition, carriers will look to smartphone data to help – it delivers over 70 percent of connected car data, plus distracted driving data. Smartphones also provide new engagement opportunities. And, carriers don’t have to wait – more than 85 percent of drivers own one today.
  5. Outrage with distraction will reach a peak. After more than 3,400 thousand lives lost in 2015 alone and countless accidents as a result of smartphone use in cars, consumers, regulators and insurers will step up their game. Laws have generated short-term effects and general awareness campaigns have produced limited results. Smartphone-based efforts, however, have proven to reduce distracted driving by 20 percent. States will also review how they’re collecting and reporting distracted driving data, which has been significantly underreported to date. Expect some big new ideas that tilt the curve.

I like his predictions. I believe these shifts are underway and will begin to unfold in 2018. There are a couple of issues all carriers need to address for this to happen.

  • Carriers need to determine how to provide a delightful experience to their clients and partner with agents and advisors to provide that. It more than providing an online payment portal and access to your documents.
  • The client benefits for Usage Based Insurance need to be explained. Implementing the technology should be done with a smart phone app, not some device that plugs into your car’s computer port.
  • The claim experience must greatly improve with better communications on scheduling, time in the shop, quality of parts, and options for the client.
  • Most drivers know better than to text and drive, however, that is just the tip of the distracted driving iceberg. More driver education is needed, and the technology must improve to support that. Common user interfaces with vehicle systems should improve too.

What do you think? Share your comments, questions, and blue-sky thoughts with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

Insurance for Personal Property in Storage

Posted by on Jan 15, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Insurance for Personal Property in Storage

Insurance for Personal Property in Storage

What kind of insurance policy is needed to protect personal property or contents while it’s in storage? This was the question a friend of mine texted me the other day. She put her home on the market and received an excellent offer within a few days, however her new home won’t be finished for another couple of months.

In this case, my friend will need to store her personal property in a storage facility. Most home insurance policies provide for coverage of personal property off premises, usually 10% of the personal property coverage amount. However, since she will cancel her current policy on her existing home and won’t have a replacement policy on her new home until it’s finished, this is not an option for her. She does have two other options, get the insurance offered by the storage facility or find a policy that covers her property while in storage.

Storage Facility Insurance: Many storage facilities offer an insurance policy on items an individual may store there. It’s not a great policy. Like a moving policy, the amount of coverage is usually an amount per pound such as $0.60 to $0.80. That’s better than nothing, but is inadequate for heavy items such as a bed, sofa, piano, etc. Quite frankly, if there was a loss such as a fire or water leak, this type of policy will not be able to pay to replace a heavy item.

Storage Policy: One of my brokers does write a replacement cost policy for whatever is stored. We simply provide the amount of coverage needed and the length of time a person’s personal property will be stored. The cost is reasonable too. In this case, $300 to $400 for $80,000 to $120,000 in personal property for a 90-days.

While this option is more expensive than the cost per pound coverage offered by the storage facility, my friend’s personal property will be protected for its full value. In addition, the storage policy is available for storage facilities where you rent a room or locker and store the items yourself, put them in a storage pod, or the facility comes to your home, picks it up, and stores it for you.

This kind of policy is ideal for someone relocating to the area, or is building a new home that won’t be ready when they sell their house. What do you think? Share your comments, questions, or experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

2017’s Impact on Texas Car Insurance in 2018

Posted by on Jan 10, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on 2017’s Impact on Texas Car Insurance in 2018

2017’s Impact on Texas Car Insurance in 2018

The weather was a major story line in Texas and national news during 2017. As I mentioned on Tuesday’s post, north Texas was pounded by golf ball to baseball sized hail a couple of times last spring and early summer followed by Hurricane Harvey’s lashing and flooding rainfall of the Texas coast.

Early estimates indicated tens of thousands of vehicles in north Texas were pinged by hail and some people estimated the total number of vehicles suffering damage from Harvey’s flooding and winds was between 500,000 and 1,000,000 vehicles. Let’s examine what both events may do to Texas car insurance rates this year.

Damage to a vehicle from hail or flooding is covered if your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive, or other than collision, coverage applies when a car is damage by fire, theft, falling objects, hitting an animal, as well as hail and flooding. If you have comprehensive or other than collision coverage, then you’re covered in events such as these. This is an inexpensive coverage to add if you don’t have it.

Given the number of vehicles damaged in these severe weather events, I believe rates may be impacted in one of two ways:

  • Rate Increases – I’ve begun to see sharp rate increases for my clients in north Texas who live in areas where the hail storms occurred. Rates are jumping 20% to 40% depending on the carrier. I expect this trend will continue for many, but not all carriers throughout 2018.
  • Comprehensive – Another way to raise rates is to adjust the cost carriers charge for a specific line of coverage such as comprehensive coverage. I haven’t noticed if the price of comprehensive coverage has jumped, but I would not be surprised if this occurs.

Ultimately, I expect most north Texas drivers to pay more for car insurance in 2018 than we did last year. I also expect drivers who live in Houston, the surrounding areas, and along the coast to pay more this year, although I haven’t seen rates jump as much. This should become more noticeable over the next several months. Wherever you live in Texas, be sure to review your car insurance renewal statement and compare it to other options. There’s no reason to pay more than you should.

Share your comments, questions, or what you experienced in last year’s weather with me on my Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

2017’s Impact on Texas Home Insurance in 2018

Posted by on Jan 8, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on 2017’s Impact on Texas Home Insurance in 2018

2017’s Impact on Texas Home Insurance in 2018

One of the sayings I heard after moving to Dallas was, “If you’re tired of the weather in Texas, just wait a few hours and it will change.” That may not be entirely accurate, but our weather does tend to be filled with surprises. 2017 held a couple of major surprises for Texans and its effect on home and car insurance will be felt this year. Let’s look at what happened and how it will impact home insurance this year.

Hail: Everything’s bigger in Texas including our hail! North Texas experienced a couple of major hail storms last year with golf ball to baseball sized hail. The two storms followed a similar track from Justin eastward toward Sachse damaging homes and vehicles. Home and car insurance claims combined were in the hundreds of millions and this followed a similar weather pattern from 2016.

The impact of these storms showed up almost immediately and continues to be felt even now. The impact of these storms will impact north Texas homeowners in four different ways:

  • Rates – I expect home insurance rates in the areas hit hardest by the hail to climb 20% to 30% with the surrounding areas to jump in the 15% to 20% range. I began to see this pattern with clients’ renewals in the 4th quarter and believe it will continue well into this year.
  • Coverage – A couple of insurance companies, one large one and some smaller ones, changed their policies from replacement cost coverage on roofs to actual cash value meaning claims will be paid on a depreciated basis. This isn’t a good move for homeowners and we’re actively working with clients to confirm are covered on a replacement cost basis (see http://wiseinsurancegroup.com/home-insurance-replacement-cost-actual-cash-value/). I’m unsure if this move will gain any traction, but believe many companies may offer it as an option.
  • Deductibles – Most home insurance companies still offer a wind / hail deductible of 1% of your home’s insured value. A couple of smaller home insurance companies raised this deductible from 1% to 1.5% or 2%. I expect this trend to expand as insurance companies seek to mitigate their losses.
  • Roof Age – Your roof’s age may impact your ability to get home insurance or change companies when searching for a lower rate. A few companies will not write a policy on a home whose roof is over 15 years old. Others automatically either raise the wind / hail deductible from 1% to 2% and a few move the coverage from replacement cost to actual cash value coverage. Your roof’s age has a profound impact on what you pay for home insurance and I believe these practices will grow in the year to come.

Hurricane Harvey: The Texas coast scored a direct hit during the 2017 hurricane season with Hurricane Harvey. Wind and storm surge walloped coastal communities from Rockport to Beaumont, and Houston suffered a TKO with up to almost 60 inches of rain fall. The flooding Houston experienced was some of the worst in its history. Total damages were originally estimated to be $120 million to over a billion and I don’t expect we will know the final tally until sometime later this year. I’m also curious what the breakout of flood claims (storm surge and rising water) versus wind claims will end up being, however, I expect flood claims to dominate total losses from Harvey. I expect Harvey to impact home insurance along the coast in a couple of areas:

  • Rates – I believe home insurance rates to rise somewhere around 20%, plus or minus for those areas hardest hit by Harvey’s winds. Those hit hardest by flood should see lower increases in the 15% range.
  • Wind Deductible – After Hurricanes Rita and Ike, wind deductibles in coastal communities jumped from 1% to as much as 5% among some carriers. 2% is what most home insurance companies are currently writing, but I would not be surprised if a few raised the minimum deductible higher.
  • Flood – The US Congress has been mulling what to do with Flood insurance ever since Super Storm Sandy. Some propose limiting rebuilding in areas closest to the water, others want homes to be rebuilt or raised above the flood zone and others want to raise rates for those in the most frequently impacted areas. I don’t expect any changes this year, but do expect the flood insurance program will be overhauled at some point with one or more of these recommendations being enacted.

What do you think will happen? Share your thoughts concerns, and questions with me on my Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

 

 

 

 

P.S. I’ll blog about the impact of our weather on car insurance on Thursday!

 

My Word for 2018

Posted by on Jan 3, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on My Word for 2018

My Word for 2018

Welcome to 2018! I hope you had a wonderful Holiday Season and New Year! Sheri and I spent the weekend with friends, as we’ve done the past few years. It was a wonderful time preparing food for each other, watching a movie (Baby Driver), and a lot of football. Prior to hanging out with our friends, I took some time to think about 2018 and what I envision personally and professionally for this year. I haven’t made a single resolution though and here’s why.

87% of all adults create new goals and resolutions for the New Year, however 50% of those resolute people will abandon them by the end of January. There’s a very small percentage of those who keep them going beyond January who will still be working on them when summer arrives.

I was one of those people who had abandoned my resolutions before the end of January. Most years my resolutions were a wish list only to be quickly forgotten. I’d accomplish a few things but most of my resolutions were still there, waiting for action, most likely ignored due to the busyness of each day, week, and month.

I stopped making resolutions in 2013 after hearing a podcast with Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, and Jon Gordon. They’re the authors of a book, One Word that will change your life. Their premise is resolutions don’t work because the goals we set are “to do” goals rather than “to be” goals.

To do goals limit our success to what we do whereas to be goals measure success by who we become. When we change the focus from what we accomplish to who we become, real transformational change is possible because our heart begins to change, and our actions follow.

They propose a single word theme for the year, instead of creating a list of resolutions for the year. Having one word drives a laser-like focus because this theme applies to all areas of a person’s life for the year. Britton, Page, and Gordon refer to these areas of our life as six dimensions which include:

  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Relational
  • Mental
  • Financial

My words since 2013 have been Believe, Courage, Intentional, Boldness and Connected. One of the most interesting things to note was how my word applied to the six dimensions of my life. Putting them into practice hasn’t always easy but when I have, it has made a huge difference in addressing doubts, questions, and moments of being scared as I stepped into growth and new areas of my life. I have grown personally and professionally these past four years in large part because of these words.

My word for 2018 is “Transformed.” I want 2018 to be a year where real transformation takes place in my personal and professional lives. I’m beginning to outline what they will look like in each of the 6 areas of my life. What I’m truly curious about is how different my life may look if transformational changes occur in these 6 areas.

What word will guide you this year into being a more complete person? You won’t know until you try and you just might find yourself doing away with resolutions too. If you do give this a try, please share your word with me too in an email, tweet, or on my Facebook, Google + or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

Christmas Gifts

Posted by on Dec 18, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Christmas Gifts

Christmas Gifts

Christmas is less than a week away. The phone isn’t ringing as often and email has slowed too, as clients, friends, and business associates prepare for Christmas. I attended my last holiday party on Sunday and we’re now finalizing our preparations to spend time with our kids and grandchildren. It promises to be a wonderfully noisy time filled with plenty of hugs, laughter, stories, gifts, and too much food.

Christmas is a special time to me. I love the lights, the carols, and the smells of cookies and pies baking. The smells flood me with memories of the times when my kids were much younger and couldn’t wait to open gifts of toys. I still have a few gifts to purchase to round out what everyone’s getting and will summon the patience to enter the fray of one last trip to the mall. Even with that impending trip, I’m happy and joyful.

I want to give gifts that each person enjoys and realizes I thought of them when I purchased it. I realize they want the same for Sheri and me when they ask us what we want. I don’t really need anything, although I wouldn’t argue with a pair of purple socks, or one of the books on my wish list on Amazon. The things I really want can’t be purchased online, wrapped in paper, and placed under a Christmas tree covered in lights.

The gifts that are most important to me are the gifts of presence; time spent with each son, daughter in law, grandchild, and Sheri’s kids. It’s a meal around a kitchen table that is spiced with conversation, laughter, and the stories we share of what we’re learning. It’s hearing and sharing hopes, dreams, and even things that we’re facing that may be difficult. It’s reading a story or playing a silly game with one of the grandkids and getting with friends who are as much family as our blended family and sharing life’s journey.

I’m reminded, though, that the holidays are difficult for some. I know people who are waiting on a doctor’s word of whether their treatment was successful, someone who’s lost a loved one recently, or have been through a difficult time. The gifts I want to share are;

  • Courage for those who are afraid based on their current circumstances
  • Faith for those who have none and are unsure what their next step is
  • Hope for those who can’t see past their present pain
  • Love for those who are alone and yearn to be held
  • Laughter for those whose spirit needs to be lifted
  • Persistence for those who are tired but need to take another step
  • Vision for those who have a dream but don’t know how to get there
  • Belief for those who’ve about given up
  • Gratitude for those who are in a great place and life is good
  • Peace for those who feel stressed
  • Generosity for those who can share some of their blessings with others

Whether you are in a happy or difficult place, these are the gifts I’d like to give each of you this Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate. I believe these are the true gifts of Christmas. May you find them in your life as we celebrate our lives, love, and shared journeys this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

Holiday Home Security

Posted by on Dec 11, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Holiday Home Security

Holiday Home Security

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday have come and gone. In case you missed it, you have less than 2 weeks until Christmas, so you still have plenty of time to find the perfect gift for loved ones or yourself!

It’s a beautiful and festive time of year, however, there are those who look to take advantage of people during this season. Break-ins occur during this time of year, both homes and cars, yet it only takes a few precautionary actions to lower your risk of being a victim. Here are 6 actions you can take to prevent a home break in when we should be celebrating!

Lock all Openings: Take a moment to check each window and door to ensure they’re locked. Even windows on a second story should be locked. Criminals would rather not attract attention by breaking glass or kicking in a door, and too many home burglaries happen because a window or door is unlocked.

Use Automatic Timers: Buy several automatic timers and put them on different lights throughout your home. Set them to come on and go off at different times so it appears someone is moving from one room to another. Save one of the timers to put on a TV or radio. The sound alone will make most burglars believe someone’s home. Do not put one on a Christmas tree since the tree should not be lit if you’re not home.

Don’t Advertise: Gifts should not be visible from any window or door. Many people love to open a front window to display their tree as a part of their holiday decorations. If you do this, don’t put presents around the tree until Christmas Eve. Why tempt someone to window shop your home with beautifully wrapped presents under a tree or in gift bags from popular stores?

Once gifts are open, be sure to break the boxes down and / or cut them up into smaller pieces and place them in opaque trash bags before setting them out for pick up. Sticking boxes of a flat screen TV or other popular items out at the curb or in the alley advertises what you have and invites unwanted attention.

Package Delivery: If you’re ordering presents from your favorite online store, have them delivered to your office instead of your home when no one’s there. Boxes on your front porch invite someone to take them. If you can’t do that, schedule the delivery for a day when you’ll be home and are able to sign for them.

Travel Planning: If you’re traveling during the holidays, have your mail delivery stopped and held until your return. This too advertises you’re away and invites unwanted attention.

Communicate the dates you’ll be away with the neighborhood watch, trusted neighbors, and even the local police precinct. They’ll keep an eye out for anything unusual. Have one of your trusted neighbors pick up any packages delivered in your absence, remove all door hangers, and park a car out front or in the drive way to make it appear someone’s home.

Social Media: With the advent of social media, we love to share what we’re doing as we experience it. Hold off on sharing you’re away and what you’re doing until after you return. Posting what you’re doing on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter only announces you’re away.

I hope you have an incredible holiday season and enjoy it to the fullest. With a little thought, you can help minimize the chance of being broken into and dealing with a loss that could ruin your holidays. Have a suggestion, comment, or question you’d like to share? Post them on our Google +, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Holidays!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

Car Insurance: Guidelines on When Your Kids Have Their Own

Posted by on Dec 6, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Car Insurance: Guidelines on When Your Kids Have Their Own

Car Insurance: Guidelines on When Your Kids Have Their Own

I was talking with a prospective client this week who has a daughter graduating later this month from a university in Texas. The question they were grappling with was whether to keep her on their car insurance that I would be quoting, or to have her get her own policy since she has a pretty nice job lined up. I run into this a few times a year and thought we’d examine how I suggest they approach the decision.

There is no “right” age for an adult child to get their own car insurance, however, there are some factors that tend to guide this decision.

  • Where the adult child will live upon graduation
  • The financial ability of both the parents and the new graduate
  • The graduate’s age
  • What the carrier will “encourage”

If the newly minted graduate will live in the same state, they can leave them on their policy. The one change the parents should make to their car insurance policy is to change the garaging address of the vehicle the adult child has to their son or daughter’s new address. Such a change could lower or increase the rate based on rates where the graduate lives, whether they’ll be renting a house or an apartment, etc.

If the child is moving out of state, then I recommend they go ahead and secure their own car insurance with an agent in their new home town. The reason for this is that the son or daughter are establishing their own residency and usually means registering the vehicle in their name in the new state.

Next, the parents should evaluate the adult child’s financial ability to pay for their own car insurance. Launching out on your own requires funds to secure an apartment, buy furniture, work clothes, and in some cases, begin paying off student loans. It may be financially helpful to delay requesting a son or daughter get their own policy until a later date when they have fully transitioned to paying their own bills and are able to manage a budget, provided they remain in state.

Most insurance companies in Texas don’t recognize a man or woman as an adult until they reach the age of 25. This is usually the age where we see a significant decrease in the car insurance rate, provided they have no claims or tickets. When the adult child lives in the same state, and the parents are willing, I recommend they leave their son or daughter on their policy until they turn 25. This keeps the adult child’s premium lower because they can take advantage of the multi-car discount and the lower rate the adult may have due to their driving experience.

The final determining factor is the car insurance company’s underwriting guidelines. Some companies will require the graduate get their own policy since they are living in a separate household while others will allow them to remain on their parent’s policy. It’s always good to confirm with your car insurance agent what the company will allow.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, suggestions, and questions with me in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

End of Year Insurance Review

Posted by on Dec 4, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on End of Year Insurance Review

End of Year Insurance Review

2017 is winding down and 2018 will be here before you know it. Various web sites and blogs will soon be posting articles and tips on end of year financial planning and moves to make before the new year arrives. Some will address tax moves you can make now, while others address rebalancing your portfolio, opening an IRA, and steps to improve your financial position for 2018.

I enjoy reading these posts and articles, however there’s one topic most of them ignore. It happens to be one I believe you should include with your end of year financial review, and that is conducting a review of your insurance policies. An insurance review confirms whether you’re adequately covered, not paying for coverage you don’t need, and sometimes it may even lead to paying less than you have been paying! Grab your policies, flip to the declaration pages, and let’s see what we can accomplish in 30 minutes or less!

Home Insurance:

  • Did you add square footage, remodel your kitchen, or create a master suite? If so, you may need to increase the amount of your home’s dwelling coverage by the cost of your home improvement project to ensure you have enough insurance to replace your home in the event of a total loss.
  • Did you update your wiring, HVAC system, or plumbing? What about replacing your roof? Updates can lower your annual premium (see http://wiseinsurancegroup.com/home-insurance-home-updates/_).
  • Do you have or did you activate a monitored alarm system? It’s worth a discount!
  • If you were being charged for a prior insurance claim that happened 3 or 5 years ago, point this out to your agent. It should lower your premium depending on how long your company factors them into your rate and when it “rolls off.”
  • For individuals who work from a home office, determine how much you paid for home insurance for the year. You’ll need this for taxes.
  • If you bought a home in 2017, remember to file your Texas Homestead Exemption with your county tax office in January. If you never filed your Homestead Exemption, do so now! This won’t save you anything on your home insurance, but it will lower your property taxes!

Car Insurance:

  • Did you buy a new car this year? Review at the uninsured / under insured motorist property damage coverage. It needs to be enough to cover your loan amount should you be involved in an accident and the car is considered a total loss.
  • If you drive an older car and there’s no loan, it may be time to remove the collision deductible and move to liability coverage (see http://wiseinsurancegroup.com/when-should-you-drop-full-coverage-car-insurance/), which provides a nice savings. Before doing so, determine what your car’s trade in or sales value is and if it’s worth it to maintain full coverage.
  • Has your income increased? You may need to increase the limits on your liability coverage to better protect yourself financially (see http://wiseinsurancegroup.com/how-much-car-insurance-do-you-need/).
  • Determine how much you’ve paid for car insurance for all of 2017 if you use it for outside business appointments and itemize your deductions on your tax return.

Life Insurance:

  • If you got married, had or adopted a child, divorced, or had some other life event, review the amount of life insurance you have to confirm there’s enough to take care of your survivors (see http://wiseinsurancegroup.com/shopping-for-life-insurance-answer-3-questions-first/).
  • If the only life insurance you have is through your employer, consider getting your own so you have coverage whether you’re employed or find yourself searching for a job.
  • Review the beneficiary information to determine if it needs updating.
  • File it in a place where your spouse, partner, and survivors know where it is. Include contact information for the company and your agent too!

Health Insurance:

  • For people with an individual health insurance policy, review your coverage and deductibles to determine if any changes are needed.
  • Self-employed individuals with a health savings account should confirm they’ve contributed the maximum amount before year’s end as it may help reduce your taxes.
  • If you turn 65 in the coming year, it’s time to get educated on filing for Medicare, as well as the optional supplemental plans. A great source of information is http://www.medicare.gov/.

The main point is take time to review your coverage once a year. Most people don’t and that’s one reason they find out they aren’t covered as they imagined or are paying too much. Share your thoughts, questions, and suggestions with me by email or on our Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group

Why Net Neutrality Is Important to Small Business

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Why Net Neutrality Is Important to Small Business

Why Net Neutrality Is Important to Small Business

A free and open internet was cemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under President Obama’s administration. On Tuesday, the FCC, under the leadership of the current administration, announced it wants to reverse net neutrality. Reversing net neutrality is not a Republican versus Democrat or liberal versus conservative decision. It’s about money. Before we delve into the politics of net neutrality, I think it’s important to review what it is.

Everyone – individual, small or large business, and political persuasion – has the same access to whatever we want to access on the internet regardless of size, interest, etc. No one must pay the broadband carriers extra to have that access. Under President Obama’s administration, he guaranteed net neutrality even after broadband carriers proposed there be fast lanes and slow lanes. The fast lanes would carry a cost and could get preferential treatment in delivery of content and searches to those on the slow lanes.

FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, has called for the end of net neutrality which would clear the way for telecom providers to implement fast and slow lanes for companies, charge different rates for the delivery of any content, and stop those who are unwilling to pay. I believe the approach proposed by the broadband carriers will have a negative impact on small businesses making it cost prohibitive to be on the fast internet lanes.

Large companies will be able to afford the cost of faster internet lanes while many small businesses will not. As a small business owner, I understand the value of being discovered through a local Google, Yahoo, or Bing search. My blogging has helped me be discovered by people wanting comparison quotes for home, auto, life and business insurance. More importantly, it’s allowed me to provide educational content which helps consumers make informed decisions about their insurance needs.

A free and open internet is imperative for continued economic growth, especially in the small business arena. Small businesses continue to lead the economic recovery in hiring and new job creation. They account for half of all private sector jobs, 60% to 80% of net new jobs annually, and employ about 130 million US workers. Having a tiered internet delivery model penalizes small business. Large internet tech companies including Google and Amazon believe it would end free speech.

How we ensure net neutrality is the big question. Should it be regulated like electric and telephone utilities are under an expanded version of their law which was created decades ago, or should there be little or no regulation giving carte blanche control to the telecom companies? I believe it’s too important an issue to blindly follow either political party, rather, it should be a bi-partisan effort where the needs of small businesses and individuals are considered equal to those of large corporations with well-funded lobbyists.

The only way the needs of small business owners will be met is for us to share them with our elected officials in Washington, as well as, the appointed officials in the FCC. If we don’t speak up and share our concerns, then what regulation or legislation does take place may not be in our best interest! Here are links to both branches and the FCC.

Or you may want to sign one of the petitions circulating the web. Here are links to two such petitions.

Do you agree, disagree, or aren’t sure? Whichever it is, share your thoughts and questions with me on our Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Ed Wise

Wise Insurance Group