All Articles Tagged "insurance"
Spring is here! We all look forward to the weather getting warmer. Most of us already have our vacations planned and our barbecue gatherings set. But, do you take the time out to Spring clean your finances? Your financial health is just as important as cleaning and purging your home of clutter.
Revisit Your New Year’s Resolutions: Raise your hand if you are still on track with keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions. Anyone? By now most New Year’s resolutions are no more. Everyone starts the year off with every intention of following through. But life happens. Our schedules get hectic and our days fly by. Spring is the perfect time to revisit those promises you made to yourself. Don’t give up. Just pick up where you left off. Attacking your financial goals should be an ongoing task that we always strive to accomplish. Continue to kick debt to the curb!
Clean Out Your Closet: How many times do we buy an item that looks very similar to one we already have? Most times we purchase clothing because our closets are overflowing with items that we cannot find when we need it. Take the time out to go through every piece of clothing you own. If you have not worn the item in at least a year, then it is time to donate it or sell it to make some extra cash. Once you go through all of your clothing, organize the rest of your closet by color and clothing type. Now, you will be able to open your closet doors and immediately see what you have, saving you money before you buy it again. The rest can be donated. And most places where you donate, will give you a charitable donation letter that you can use to claim on next year’s tax return. If you are strapped for cash and want to make a little side money, eBay and Craigslist are great places to sell items. Or have a garage sale! We absolutely, love garage sales. One man’s garbage is truly another man’s treasure.
Request a Free Copy of Your Credit Report: Every 12 months you are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. We personally use www.annualcreditreport.com, which the FTC recommends to avoid scams and other companies taking advantage of consumers. This is a good practice for finding items on your credit report that are incorrect or fraudulent. Your credit report is vital to your financial health because this is an indicator to lenders of your credit worthiness. Check out the Federal Trade Commissions website for more information.
Review All of Your Insurance Policies: Your insurance needs can change from year to year, so sit down with an agent to go over the policies for things like auto, home, life, and health insurance. You don’t want to be under-insured or over-insured. Check out the article we wrote on how to save on your insurance policies here on MadameNoire.
Reassess Your Budget: Creating a budget should be something that you accomplish every month. However, Spring is a great time to reassess your budget and make sure what you have been doing since January is still working out for you. During the warmer months we all have a tendency to spend more. The kids are in Spring/Summer activities such as camps and swimming. And, let’s not forget about the vacations that cost money too! Be sure you put miscellaneous expenses such as these in your springtime budget.
These are just a few tips to get you ready for your financial Spring cleaning. It is imperative to always keep your finances in tip top shape!
Tai and Tarin Perry, the Double Saving Divas, are financially savvy identical twin sisters, and investment bankers turned money saving experts. You can also connect with them on their Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube Channel.
Join us on Facebook this Thursday at 3pm where the Divas will be taking your questions on all money-related topics!
Many of us get so busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday life that our insurance policies typically get overlooked. Now’s the perfect time of year to take a look at all of your insurance policies such as auto, health, life, and homeowners in particular. Here are a few key pointers to keep in mind while reviewing each policy.
Health Insurance: If you are covered by an employer’s plan than typically you have one time of year where you can update or make adjustments to your insurance policies outside of a family life change such as birth, death, or marital status change. “Open enrollment,” for most, takes place in the fall, towards the end of the year. Therefore, any changes you make will take effect starting the new calendar year.
Plan ahead and review your current plan’s premiums, co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses, and annual deductibles. Compare them to other plan choices and possible increases for the next year if possible. Be sure to read each option carefully, weighing the pros and cons because your health plan choices can impact your take home pay tremendously.
Also, contact your benefits department to see if they have a health and wellness program for their employees. Many employers are adopting these programs to help encourage a healthier lifestyle. Extra incentives and cost deductions may be applied to your health insurance just for taking part in your company’s health and wellness program.
Life Insurance: Most people are under-insured when it comes to life insurance. Sit down with a specialist to review your policy at least once per year. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 times your annual income in life insurance coverage. This can allow your family to pay for college education, mortgage, funeral expenses, and other necessities to name a few. The aforementioned healthier lifestyle can be a cost savings to you. The higher health risk you are, the higher in cost for your coverage. There is not a “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing coverage. They will ask you questions and have you fill out a questionnaire to see what coverage fits best for you and your family.
Those affected by Hurricane Sandy woke up this morning to devastation. Trees down, flooding, fires and property damage, hundreds of thousands without power, hospitals in New York evacuating, in some cases moving critical and neonatal patients, transportation at a standstill, and most unfortunate, the loss of life. Everyone in the storm’s path is in our thoughts. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a press conference on right now says it could be the worst storm the city has ever experienced.
Now the business begins of cleaning up and putting things back to normal.
From a business standpoint, we previously reported that the markets would be closed again today. We heard on NBC this morning (via CNBC reporter Bob Pisani) that the New York Stock Exchange is working feverishly to reopen tomorrow, particularly because it’s month-end. Today, the focus is on checking out backup generators for power, communications systems, and whether or not a couple hundred people can make it to work tomorrow. You can get more info about that here. But it is expected that the NYSE will open in at least a limited fashion.
Ultimately, as the clean up effort begins, companies, individuals and the government are trying to assess the cost of the damage the storm has caused, though estimates have already put the price tag at $20 billion with insurance covering between $5 billion and $10 billion.
As Forbes points out (h/t to our writer Ann Brown), the personal toll for workers who can’t make it to work and can’t work from home has yet to be tabulated. That includes restaurant workers, hotel staffers, and others who depend on an hourly wage to make ends meet.
Then there are those who have lost their homes or who are without power. The storm could actually help some industries, like construction, home supplies and food markets, where activity will rise as the aftermath unfolds. The impact will be felt for days but should be temporary, reports the Wall Street Journal, quoting Moody’s Analytics.
“Sales, wages and productivity will all take a big hit. The storm, for instance, is arriving at the tail end of the $8 billion Halloween retail season. But some sales can be made up later, and the storm will drive purchases of items like plywood and generators that wouldn’t otherwise have been sold,” the paper says.
Department stores have shut and, even when they reopen, shoppers won’t necessarily be flocking to them. Travel has been reduced and might be for some time. Events, like the Google Nexus unveiling that had been planned for yesterday, were put off, which interrupts prospects for the holiday shopping season.
The New York Times points out “intertemporal substitution” will probably take place, with consumer activity likely taking place at a higher volume in the coming days to make up for the missed time. Gas prices may also spike, but then come back down to Earth.
As a final note for those who were expecting it, the consumer confidence index has been postponed until Thursday.
And on a final note, here’s one of the many incredible images from the storm that’s been making the rounds on the Internet, a carousel in downtown Brooklyn, still lit, floating but intact.
This is exactly why people don’t go to the hospital: they’re afraid they won’t come out alive.
The family of Melvin Dillard has filed a lawsuit against the company that operates Beebe Medical Center’s emergency room in Delaware after Dillard died in the hospital’s lobby in June without anyone noticing him there. By the time someone took notice, rigor motis – the stiffness of muscles after death – had begun to set in.
The claim states that Dillard called an ambulance the day before he passed away with chest pains. Even though he had a history of cardiac issues, the emergency room decided he was well enough to be discharged. He died in the waiting room while possibly trying to figure out a way back home after a friend was unable to get him. The claim states that only then was Dillard rushed back into the emergency room where he was pronounced dead.
Dillard’s family states that because the emergency staff was made aware of his prior health problems, he should have been admitted for further testing and not sent home. To that end, they are suing Beebe and Sussex Associates for medical negligence and wrongful death, while also seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.
Hospital officials released a statement saying Dillard had been seen and after medical staff had followed proper protocol, he was released in “stable condition.” Further, hospital representative Kelly Griffin says the incident was fully disclosed to oversight authorities and investigated.
Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the EMS workers noted that when they got to Dillard, he was showing “signs of an impending cardiac event” and when they released him tot he hospital his EKG was abnormal. He died of a heart attack in the lobby.
His family has declined to comment, saying that the lawsuit speaks for itself.
What a very sad turn of events. One has to wonder if Mr. Dillard had “good” insurance. There has long been talk that if you don’t have “proper” health insurance, hospitals will not treat you with the same care and respect as one with, let’s say, “top notch” health insurance.
Of course, no amount of money can bring Melvin Dillard back but his family deserves more clear answers.
Death is never a subject many people like to think about. But there are several financial steps you need to take to prepare for the inevitable.
According to a new Forbes article, “7 Money Musts Before You Die,” there are key things to do to make sure your family not only inherits your fortune but also understands the family´s financial situation.
Here’s what Forbes suggests:
1. Make sure you have adequate life insurance.
2. Update beneficiaries on retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance policies.
3. Research whether you can add beneficiaries to your other assets, such as bank and investment accounts.
4. Draft a will.
5. Consider creating a trust. This is an option to take especially if you have a complex financial or family situation.
6. Try to involve your spouse in family finances.
7. Make a record of where everything is.
Besides these steps there are others things to do, according to Investopedia like take stock of what you own, make a list of your debts, the organizations you belong to and charities you support.
You should also make a list of all your social media passwords, so your family can close your email, Factbook, Twitter and other online accounts, a modern issue that tends to get overlooked.
Hurricane Isaac whipped through the Gulf Coast and, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, caused up to $2 billion in damages. At least 13,000 homes were destroyed, said the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
It is inevitable that natural disasters are going to take place, but you never know where or when they’ll happen. There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself and your home against them.
Before Disaster Strikes
- Check your homeowners insurance policies. See what you are covered for and what you aren’t. “Make sure your plan includes the proper limit, or the assessed amount it would currently cost to replace your home if need be,” advises Forbes.com.
- Don’t scrimp on coverage. According to Forbes, homeowners sometimes “roll the dice, in hopes that they can save money on premiums and get by with minimal insurance. They may get a rude awakening when a major storm, flood, earthquake or fire hits their communities.” If you live in an area prone to earthquakes you should buy coverage for such occurrences. Consider adding flood insurance if you live in area that’s prone to flooding. “Standard home insurance policies won’t cover flood damage,” Forbes adds. “To cover flood damage, you’ll need a policy backed by the federal government with cooperation from local communities and private insurers.” Check into the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which the government created to assist homeowners, renters and business owners.
- Rent and insure. Purchase renter’s insurance to cover your personal property in case of damage.
- Lock it up. Make sure all of your important documents (insurance policies, wills, etc.) are in a secure place. A fireproof metal safety box or cyberlocker (online document storage) are two options.
- Is your home fortified? When you hear a storm warning, secure outdoor furniture. Check for leaks or crack in your house that water can seep into. Make sure your doors and windows are strong enough to withstand a major storm.
TheHousingForum.com offers some tips for what to do in the aftermath of a disaster.
- Get out of harm’s way by steering clear of effected areas.
- As soon as it is safe to do so, assess the damage to your property and report it to your insurance company. If you need additional or immediate help, contact local community and disaster relief agencies.
- Avoid downed power lines. Call the electric company.
Insurance provides businesses with financial protection in the event company property is damaged, can protect against libel lawsuits and safeguard against civil claims customers may file against a business due to employee errors. Businesses can even purchase reputation insurance to help with the cost of hiring a PR firm when a corporate crisis arises.
Even with this coverage, a business continuity plan is a necessity.
Business continuity plans help prepare employees, business owners and members of senior management teams to respond to unexpected emergencies, such as something weather-related like Hurricane Katrina or a fire. After heading up business continuity plans for a Fortune 500 corporation for several years, I’ve learned that key components of effective business continuity plans include a few key items:
- An employee contact list that contains telephone numbers and addresses for each employee and independent contractor working at a firm.
- A list of business continuity team members, a group selected by senior managers (or the senior managers themselves) along with members from the security, medical, human resource, technology and real estate teams.
- Actions to be taken during building evacuations.
- Names and contact information of key clients. Irrespective of your title, if you work with clients, you should have a backup system. An emergency could even be something isolated to a department, like a major computer problem. A business will need to contact clients and notify them of alternative operation plans in the event of a business interruption.
- Alternate work locations. With Internet access, many employees can work from home. However, if you plan to use an alternate work location, regularly check the computers and other equipment in that space.
Each employee should receive a copy of the business continuity plan. And members of the business continuity teams should know the specific functions they are to fulfill in the event of a business interruption or unexpected emergency.
To ensure employees know how to respond to emergencies, conduct regular building evacuations and call tree and emergency notification tests. Call tree tests ensure that each employee in the firm, usually by department, is contacted during an emergency. Consider using software to automate call tree and emergency notification tests. Notification tests are performed to ensure managers know how to provide employees with action steps that should be taken after a business interruption.
Having the ability to resume critical business functions following a business interruption can distinguish your company as an industry leader. And being ready for the unexpected will make you an outstanding member of the staff when the company most needs them.
Rhonda Campbell, an East Coast journalist, is the owner of Off The Shelf radio and publisher of Long Walk Up and Love Pour Over Me.
Caring about everyday issues like pollution, contaminated water and the environment seem fairly new, insignificant, and sometimes unimportant in the Black community overall, but it’s making more of an impact on this community than any other.
Recent studies and statistics from the Center for American Progress conclude that many physical ailments in the African-American community, like asthma, diabetes and lung cancer, are due to air and trash pollution and power plants, and the rates of those illnesses are very disproportionate compared to other communities.
The Center for American Progress reported that for many people of color, including Hispanic Americans, air pollution is an “unavoidable feature of daily life because they are more likely to live and work in the nation’s most polluted cities.” In a study conducted nationally, only 56 percent of the white population lives within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, plants which lead to related illnesses like asthma and lung disease. This was compared to a dramatic 68 percent of African-Americans.
In addition, Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely to reside near facilities that contain wastes that are harmful and full of pollutants: “Arsenic (used commercially as a rat poison) and lead are among the toxic chemicals that may be concentrated at these sites.”
Accessibility to medical care and health insurance also plays a role in this disparity. According to the research:
“Existing health disparities and high uninsured rates among communities of color compound these health consequences. Racial and ethnic minorities make up a majority of the 50 million Americans who are uninsured, despite constituting only about one-third of the U.S. population. These high uninsured rates mean that the very same populations imperiled by environmental toxins may be unable to obtain necessary medical care.”
Although these statistics look grim, small changes in the community are all we need to start taking care of this issue head on. Although new EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rules will help these communities breathe easier, making your home more green and environmentally-friendly could make the real difference in your family’s overall health. They might not get rid of all the pollution and dangers outside, but caring more about the environment, starting within your own home, could do wonders for your health, save you money and a lot more. Start with these three simple steps that could have a major positive impact, if you haven’t already started:
Recycle: Recycling old cardboard, glass, cans, paper and plastic are very easy and safer for your community than just throwing everything away in the same trash. Use recyclable bins or plastic bags to gather up these materials. You could even make this task into a chore that is family friendly, labeling bins for each material to keep them separate.
Use Energy Wisely: Power plants thrive off the amount of energy we use, so turn off (and unplug) energy-draining appliances like your phone charger when it’s not in use. You’d be surprised how many appliances are always plugged into outlets and aren’t connected to a product, but still are sucking up electricity. This is making your bill higher and wasting currency.
Be H2O Friendly: Encourage your family to turn off water when not in-use during forgettable moments like taking a shower, brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. If you are not directly using it, turn it off for the moment.
Enthusiasm over going green should not be labeled to one group of people because it impacts us all, most of all, people of color. We must change the way we see our ways of living, which are embedded within our culture, and allow those rituals to change with the times, for our health’s sake. Caring for our environment and community of color is one big step towards ensuring our health and longevity.
How do you care for the environment?
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We’re no more than two days into National Minority Health Month and already a grim report has surfaced.
New research presented Sunday shows that black women are at a higher risk of contracting and dying from cervical cancer than white women. In addition, the study revealed black women have a much harder time getting rid of HPV than their white counterparts, according to researchers at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. All 326 white and 113 black students were given Pap tests and HPV exams every six months throughout their years in school.
Until now, many doctors thought less access to screenings and follow-up health care were the reasons why there was such a racial disparity in surviving the disease. However, the study involving young college-age women suggests that the reason might be biological.
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Check Their Claims Track Record
The number one reason you should choose an auto insurance carrier is its track record. A promise means nothing from a company that doesn’t pay out claims fairly and promptly. Although every company claims to have the best claims service in the industry, you can check by talking to other customers, such as friends and family, who have had claims with that company, as well as through reviews done by customers over the years. If word of mouth doesn’t get you far, you can also check for any complaints from that company with the state insurance bureau or your local Better Business Bureau.
Investigate the Service Options
Buying the policy isn’t the end of your relationship. Over time you’ll need to add, delete and edit cars, drivers and coverages on your policy as your circumstances change. You may also have questions about your policy or need information to provide to the government or to your car loan provider. So, you need to buy from a company that has customer service options that fit your needs–your ever-changing needs. Ask yourself how you most prefer to interact with your company and look for the ones that offer that. If you’re unsure, it’s best to find one that offers several options–through a personal agent, a 24 hour call center and over the Internet.
Since we all live in the real world, we know that price is an important factor in buying anything. While you shouldn’t make the decision based on price alone, it’s worth doing some price comparisons. Be sure to ask for quotes based on the exact same coverages, vehicles and drivers so that you can weigh your options. Also, make sure you get the numbers in writing so that you can easily compare them side by side.
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