With the upcoming holidays, your house is going to be filled with guests. Is your pantry filled and your bathroom clean? Even more importantly, update your home insurance policy as you prepare to welcome guests to your home for the holidays.
What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover?
Most homeowners buy insurance to cover property damages from storms or accidents. It also covers personal property that’s lost, damaged or stolen. Plus, homeowner’s insurance pays for medical treatment or lawsuits associated with injuries people sustain while visiting you.
Make Sure you Have Enough Liability Coverage
You don’t expect accidents to happen in your house, but a visitor could trip over frayed carpet, get food poisoning or fall off the backyard trampoline. Or maybe the traditional Thanksgiving day football game gets rough, and your cousin’s expensive watch breaks, a seasonal storm blows a branch on your friend’s vehicle or the toilet overflows on your uncle’s expensive leather shoes. These injuries and damages are all examples of accidents that liability insurance covers.
Increase Your Coverage Limit
To ensure you have enough liability coverage, check out your policy and talk to your insurance agent. Most policies include a liability coverage limit of $100,000, but you should consider increasing that limit to $300,000 or even $500,000. An accident that affects more than one guest could quickly use up that coverage and leave you with a big bill. The increased coverage limit ensures everyone can receive medical treatment, and it reduces your out-of-pocket expenses if you’re sued.
Buy an Umbrella Policy
An umbrella policy is another insurance product to consider. It adds additional coverage that could be very beneficial as you entertain guests this holiday season.
Because you plan to host holiday guests this year, do more than stock the pantry and clean the bathroom. Update your homeowner’s insurance policy. It gives you peace of mind and prepares you for anything that might happen.
As the end of the year approaches, schedule time to review your medical needs. You may want to seek treatment that improves your health and allows you to meet your deductible.
Your health insurance deductible is the amount of money you pay before your insurance kicks in and covers your medical bills. Depending on your health insurance, you may have a low or high deductible that covers every type of medical treatment or applies to specific treatment. Call your insurance company or read your benefits paperwork to verify the deductible you owe. Your deductible will also be listed on your Explanation of Benefits (EOB).
Why Meet Your Annual Deductible
You’ll want to meet your deductible early in the year, if possible. However, it’s not too late to meet your deductible in November or December as you gain several benefits.
First, you’ll maximize your insurance coverage. After you meet your deductible, your insurance benefits will cover additional medical treatment. You pay for insurance and might as well use it.
Second, postponing important medical treatment and preventative care can increase your pain, suffering and treatment expenses. You could end up needing an even more expensive operation or extra therapy and other treatment in the future because you don’t prioritize your health now.
Finally, your deductible may rise if you switch insurance policies in January. In this case, your medical expenses will increase, so utilize your benefits and save money before your coverage switches.
How to Meet Your Deductible
Consider these ways to meet your deductible before the end of the year.
- Order a 90-day supply of your prescription medicine.
Spend a bit of extra money now to meet your deductible and ensure you have enough medication to start the new year off right.
- See an out-of-network doctor.
Now’s the time to get a second opinion or see a specialist that’s not covered in your insurance network. You’ll pay the total cost of the visit out-of-pocket, but it generally counts toward your deductible. Then, the next step in your treatment could be covered fully by your insurance.
- Pursue alternative treatment.
Visit a chiropractor, acupuncturist or other professional that provides alternative treatment for your health concerns. This specialist can help you discover your optimal health and reach your deductible.
- Get your eyes examined.
If your health insurance covers eye exams, visit the optometrist. Invest in your eye health, and purchase the new glasses or contact lenses you need.
You will save money and protect your health when you meet your annual deductible before December 31. For more information on your deductible or health benefits, reach out to your insurance agent.
Although you might not be aware of it, there are far-reaching benefits to positive thinking that can improve your health and help you with stress management. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that the personality traits of optimism and pessimism can have a direct impact on your well-being.
The good news is that, even if you are a pessimist by nature, you can take steps to improve positive thinking techniques in your life, and reap the resulting health and well-being benefits. Health Benefits of Positive Thinking. Over time, researchers have explored the effects of optimistic thinking on health, and have found many correlations between well being and positive thought processes. These include:
- Longer life span
- Better resistance to the common cold
- Lower rates of depression
- Reduced rates of cardiovascular disease
- Improved coping skills during times of stress and hardship
- Better physical and psychological well-being
Get on the Road to Positive Thought Processes.
There are some simple steps to take to move away from negative thinking, and create a new habit of positive self-talk. Monitor yourself: During the day, stop and take note of your thoughts. If thoughts are mainly negative, make a conscious effort to put a positive spin on things.
Be open to good humor: Give yourself permission to be happy, to smile, and to laugh, even when the chips are down. Seek humor in everyday events.
Lead a healthy lifestyle: Follow a healthy diet and exercise at least three times per week. Eating right and exercising both have positive effects on mood and stress management.
Surround yourself with people who focus on the positive: Choose to spend time with family and friends who are cheerful, supportive, and offer helpful feedback. Avoid spending time with negative people who have a “glass half empty” attitude.
Practice positive self talk: Be gentle and encouraging with yourself, and never tell yourself something that you would not say to another person. If a negative thought enters your mind, try to think about it rationally, and follow up with positive affirmations about yourself and your circumstances.
Practice Every Day!
If you have had a past tendency to have a negative outlook on life, don’t despair. While you may not become an optimist overnight, with everyday practice, you will begin to replace negativity with productive, positive thoughts.
You may find that you become, not only less critical of yourself, but more accepting of the world around you. As your general attitude improves, you will begin to reap the physical and emotional benefits of a positive outlook on life!
Are you planning to welcome trick or treaters to your home this month? Follow these steps that prepare your property for safe Halloween fun.
1. Clean your walkways.
Jack-o-lanterns are cute, but they are also tripping hazards. Remove decorations and all clutter or debris such as toys, yard tools or twigs from your sidewalks, steps and walkways.
2. Clear the yard.
Ideally, kids will stay on the walkway and front porch as they retrieve their candy. However, you will want to clear your yard so curious and excited kids don’t trip on any toys, branches or yard tools.
3. Repair broken sidewalks and steps.
Inspect your entryway and steps carefully. Then repair any broken stepping stones, loose railings or other hazards.
4. Install lighting.
Your front porch light is turned on to welcome trick or treaters, but you may also need additional lighting to ensure safety. Solar-powered walkway lights or a string of lights can illuminate your walkway and porch.
5. Change your location.
Instead of making kids walk up your long driveway or steep steps, stand or sit in a location that’s easy for them to access.
6. Lock doors and windows.
On trick or treat night, your attention is focused on your front door. Lock all the other doors and windows in your house so no one can gain access to your home while you’re out front. Remember to lock your garage and car, too.
7. Secure valuables.
Move your grill, mower and other valuables to the shed or another secure location. With this tip, you prevent potential burglars from adding your home to their future target list.
8. Protect your pets.
Some kids are scared of animals. Also, pets can become startled and bolt or bite when they see strange costumes or dozens of noisy kids. Always secure your pets so they and the kids are safe.
9. Extinguish candles.
Open flames pose a fire hazard. As an alternative, try battery-powered bulbs, or install Halloween-themed covers on your flashlights.
10. Consider allergies when choosing candy.
Many kids are allergic to nuts or dairy. Place a teal pumpkin on your step to show trick or treaters that you offer safe alternatives like books, stickers or toys.
11. Update your property and homeowners’ insurance policies. 🙂
Despite your best efforts to promote safety, someone could be injured while on your property. Be sure your property and homeowners’ insurance policies are updated and include adequate coverage.
Trick or treating is a fun family activity. As you give out treats this year, follow these 11 safety tips. They secure your property and reduce your liability risks.
You and your business partner or partners have a clear and common vision of how to run your business, where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. As a team, you’ve worked together each and every day to share the daily demands and shape the success of your business. That said, have you thought about what would become of the business and all your hard work if you or one of your partners became ill, was injured, or died?
A business doesn’t have to become disabled or die just because one of the owners retires, dies, or becomes too sick or disabled to work. Whether the transition of business management or ownership needs to take place after death or during life, it can be orderly accomplished through appropriate business succession planning.
A buy-sell agreement is a tool commonly used in business succession planning. This planning feature, when correctly funded and designed, can orderly establish the value at which the business will be taken over and who will be doing the taking over. The owner can have a peace of mind from knowing that the business has a predetermined basis for which it can be sold in a ready market, thereby giving the owner a source of funds when they need it, such as when they are ready to retire. If the owner was to die prior to the above predetermined basis occurring, then the buy-sell can be used to meet the survivor’s needs or pay hefty estate taxes.
Although there are several ways that a buy-sell agreement can be established, an entity purchase agreement and cross purchase are the two most often used:
Due to favorable tax results, this is a highly used approach by many small businesses. It’s generally used by businesses that only have a small number of owners. The cross purchase is typically funded with a life and/or disability insurance policy that each of the owners must maintain on their co-owners. The death benefits from the life insurance policy aren’t subject to taxation since the owners, not the business, actually own the individual life insurance policies. Each of the business owners are legally obligated to purchase the ownership interest of the other co-owner(s) upon death.
The deceased owner’s estate sells the owner’s interest to the surviving owners in exchange for the proceeds from the life insurance policy. The surviving owners will get a step-up in the business’s tax basis. Alternatively, the insurance cash value can also be used if one of the co-owners was to need to fund a buyout during their lifetime. One point to remember regarding a cross purchase is that administration is smoothest when there are only a limited number of owners and will become increasingly difficult to administer as the number of owners increase.
Entity Purchase Agreement
This type of buy-sell agreement works somewhat like the cross purchase, but it’s the business, not the owners, that will maintain an insurance policy on each owner and agree to purchase any deceased owner’s interest in the business. As such, the taxation is different.
The death benefits under both an entity purchase and cross purchase agreement, whether being paid to the business or an individual, are exempt from federal income taxation. However, unlike with the cross purchase, there are certain situations that a C corporation can be subject to the corporate alternative minimum tax under an entity purchase. There’s also not a step-up in basis under the entity purchase plan.
Hopefully this brief overview of the entity purchase and cross purchase types of buy-sell agreements has spurred you to think about how vitally important business succession planning is to your business. Of course, this short article couldn’t possibly cover all the factors to consider when developing a business succession plan. As you begin the preparations for you business succession plan with your attorney, accountant, and insurance agent, they should be able to answer any additional questions or concerns you might have.
Are you facing a project or decision at work that has you stumped? Follow Christopher Columbus’s lead and find your solution when you think outside the box. Well, maybe it wasn’t just his way. 🙂
Change the Scenery
The same four walls of your office or company’s conference room feel familiar, but they do nothing to cultivate creativity. Try rearranging your office, moving the meeting to a different room or taking a walk. The change in scenery might be exactly what your brain needs to jump-start creativity and innovation.
Draw a Picture
Most people approach problems with left-brain logic. So, if you’re stuck, tap into your right-brained creativity as you grab markers or crayons and draw a picture. A few minutes of doodling can boost your ability to see outside conventional logic and discover your next great idea.
Study a Different Industry
Whether you’re a lawyer, teacher or farmer, many of the same problems you face also affect people who work in other industries. Study web pages, trade magazines and books about other industries, and your chances of finding new angles or ways of looking at your problems increase.
Turn It Upside Down
Instead of staring at the page for hours, take a different approach. Turn the paper upside down, re-arrange the patterns or start at the end and work backwards. See what new ideas you spark when you turn your problem upside down.
Discover Why Things are Done One Way
Maybe part of your problem comes from doing things the same way they’ve been done for years. But do you even know why things are done the way they’re done? The answers you need might show up when you turn away from traditions and make your own rules.
Columbus did more than discover the Americas. His example inspires you to think creatively. Do just that when you think outside the box and solve your problems this Columbus Day.