Protecting Your Business From Liability

protecting your business from liabilityProtecting your business from liability is critical. If you or your business provides professional services or advice, professional liability insurance can help protect your assets if you are ever sued. It covers financial losses suffered by third parties as a result of errors and omissions in your services (it is also sometimes called E&O insurance).

Attorneys and physicians consider this type of protection a necessity; in fact, legal and medical malpractice insurance is required by law in many states. Other professionals who should explore and consider professional liability insurance include accountants, software developers, real estate agents and consultants.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are two types of professional liability policies: claims-made and occurrence. Most policies are claims-made, meaning that the policy must be in effect both when the event took place and when a lawsuit is filed for a claim to be paid. An occurrence policy is less common, but will cover any claim for an event that took place during the period of coverage, even if the suit is filed after the policy has lapsed (such as after you’ve retired or changed careers).

Policies will generally have a deductible ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. The amount of professional liability insurance you will need and how much it will cost depends upon the size of your business and the level of risk it poses. Coverage does not extend to losses caused by intentional or dishonest acts. Professional liability insurance also does not cover bodily injury or property damage claims (these are typically covered by commercial general liability policies).

Consult with your financial planner or inquire with your profession’s trade association about protecting your business from liability and to determine if you might need professional liability coverage.

By |September 6th, 2017|Insurance, Small Business|

Shopping for Auto Insurance

Mike Larriva, CFP shares personal insights on shopping for auto insuranceShopping for auto insurance is something I put off for years. I was happy with my existing company, and comparing new policies and rates was a hassle I just wouldn’t prioritize. My priorities changed recently, as my teen son is getting his driver’s license soon and I know teen drivers are expensive to insure. I had to bite the bullet and do some comparison shopping. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it is to get quotes now. Most companies were able to provide online quotes, which were emailed to make it easy to compare.

Most states require minimum coverage for bodily-injury and property-damage liability, to protect others when you are the driver at fault in an accident. But it’s wise to purchase more than the minimum required.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is especially important because it protects you if another driver with minimum or no insurance causes an accident and you incur costly injuries and repairs. This happened to me in 2000. I was involved in a rollover accident. Our SUV was totaled and the young man who hit me only had minimum coverage. My underinsured coverage protected us by helping pay for a replacement vehicle and medical expenses. A typical level for this type of coverage is $100,000 or more in benefits.

There are additional coverage options to consider, as well. Collision coverage helps pay for repairs to your vehicle when involved in a collision. Medical coverage helps with medical expenses that might not be covered by bodily-liability coverage. Comprehensive coverage is for repairs not caused by collision (such as theft, vandalism or hail damage).

As you are shopping for auto insurance, be sure to ask about any discounts that may be available. When I added my son to my policy, I learned many companies offer discounts for students who get good grades (B average) and who’ve taken defensive driving classes.

Consider comparing your auto insurance rates every few years. I did and made some changes that will help reduce costs for our family.


By |July 31st, 2017|Financial Planning, Insurance|

Time to Update Auto Insurance

old car - Serge Bertasius PhotographyAuto insurance commercials have sure gotten fun in the past few years. Who doesn’t love the goofy spunk of Progressive’s Flo, with her bright red lipstick and blue headband? We’ve enjoyed the adventures of Geico’s gecko, and laughed at the silliness of the various “Jake” at State Farm ads. Though we often can recite auto insurance punch lines and slogans, how many of us have taken the time recently to explore options and compare rates?

According to an April Consumer Reports (CR) article, only 25 percent of consumers have shopped for auto insurance in the previous year and, of those, most researched only one or two companies. Because your coverage needs and credit scores change, and insurers generally update their prices every six to 12 months, CR recommends you comparison shop every two to three years. Also explore your options if your situation changes (marriage, new vehicle, adding a teen driver, etc.).

“Ask your insurer what the change will mean for your policy, then shop for a better deal,” CR suggests and notes that the more companies you research, the better your odds at finding a better deal.

Keep in mind, too, that finding the lowest premium shouldn’t be your sole objective. A company can offer low premiums and still cost you more overall by low-balling loss estimates, forcing you to pay extra for manufacturer parts versus knockoffs, and jacking up premiums after an accident. As you comparison shop, consider the insurer’s reputation and customer satisfaction, as well.

For insurer ratings and money-saving ideas, read CR’s car insurance buying guide online.

Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at
By |May 31st, 2016|Financial Planning, Insurance|

Plan Ahead for Long-Term Medical Care

One in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease. It is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Preparing for long-term medical care is an important part of your financial planning process. After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis (or other serious illness), your options may be more limited.

Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll – not only on those with the disease, but on entire families. A recent Alzheimer’s Association study revealed that many care contributors had to cut back on basic necessities — such as food and medical care — for themselves and their families.

“The devastating emotional and physical effects of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease has been well studied,” said the Alzheimer’s Association’s Beth Kallmyer. “However, this new report shows, for the first time, the enormous personal financial sacrifices that millions of care contributors must make every day. These sacrifices jeopardize the financial security of individuals and families, as well as their access to basic needs and health care.”

Many survey respondents had misconceptions about what expenses Medicare and Medicaid cover, leaving them unprepared to handle the tremendous costs associated with the disease. The survey found 13 percent sold personal belongings, such as a car, to help pay for costs related to dementia. Nearly half tapped into savings or retirement funds, and 11 percent cut back on spending for their children’s education.

Long-term care insurance can help preserve your income and investments, while ensuring you and your loved ones will not have to sacrifice quality care or basic life necessities in the event of a long-term illness.