Medicare Open Enrollment
Medicare Open Enrollment is quickly approaching and senior health counselors from the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) are gearing up to help Medicare beneficiaries around the state make informed decisions regarding their policies.
Medicare Open Enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7 with plans taking effect on January 1. Medicare beneficiaries should take this time to review their current health plans and prescription drug coverage and note any changes in costs, coverage and benefits that will take effect in the coming year.
SHIIP partners with agencies throughout Louisiana to offer free, unbiased counseling to Medicare beneficiaries. To view a complete list of SHIIP Partners, check out the interactive map available on SHIIP’s Partners webpage. There you can click on the area of the state you live in and pull up a list of nearby partners.
Beneficiaries may also view the many resources available from SHIIP. In addition to the newly released 2016 Medicare Supplement Comparison Guide, you will find helpful publications and documents that provide information on plans and options currently available in the state, as well as national publications released by Medicare. To view these documents and more, visit www.ldi.la.gov/SHIIP or contact a SHIIP counselor at 1-800-259-5300.
Protect Your Home-Based Business from Unexpected Costs
For many, achieving the American dream comes with the freedom of operating a home-based business. With the rise of “sharing economy” businesses like AirBnB, Uber and Lyft, that dream seems even easier to achieve. Without proper insurance planning, however, even the most promising home-based business dream can rapidly become a nightmare.
In order to protect yourself and your business, make sure you’re properly covered in these vital areas:
HOME: Homeowners and renter’s insurance policies are rarely adequate for business needs. To ensure that you’re fully covered, investigate a business owner’s policy or general liability, business property and business interruption/continuation insurance. If you lease space, do not rely on your landlord to provide coverage for your business property. The building typically is insured only for the basic structure and common areas.
AUTO: If you own or lease a vehicle almost exclusively for business use, list the business name as the principal insured. If you use your personal vehicle to conduct business, consider increasing your liability limits. Premiums likely will be higher, but having additional coverage to protect business assets will be beneficial in the event of an accident-related lawsuit.
HEALTH: There are a variety of sources for purchasing HMOs, PPOs, EPOs and other popular health insurance plans at group rates. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), business owners and the self-employed who purchase coverage through health insurance marketplaces may also qualify for tax credits. Be sure your group health coverage fits your team. For example, if most employees are planning children soon, pregnancy-related coverage will be important.
LIFE: If you’re considering a business partnership, look into key person life insurance - coverage that makes each partner the other’s death beneficiary - before you form the company. Doing so early helps mitigate risk.
RISK & LIABILITY: Educate yourself about the safety history of your industry. The risk assigned to a business for general liability coverage is impacted by the number of claims filed within that industry or the probability of a claim for a similar company.
If you purchase business interruption coverage - insurance to cover expenses in the event of a business shutdown - make sure you have sufficient funds to tide you over for the first few days. Interruption coverage typically does not kick in for a specified time period after a disruption occurs.
What You Need to Know about Title Insurance
Purchasing your home will likely be one of the biggest investments you’ll make and a decision that can impact your finances for years to come. For that reason, it’s important to protect your investment from potential defects or liens. Most first-time home buyers are unfamiliar with title insurance and the role it plays in real estate transactions. Below is some helpful information regarding this type of insurance.
What is it?
Title insurance is an insurance policy that covers you if title problems arise after you buy or refinance your home. Possible complications include lost, forged or incorrectly filed deeds, property access issues and liens on a property.
For example, if there is an unpaid mortgage on the property you just bought, you may be held responsible. Without title insurance, you might have to pay legal costs to settle a dispute. If you lose a dispute, it could cost you money, the equity you have in your home and perhaps even ownership. Title insurance helps cover you associated legal costs to settle the dispute and resolve the problem.
Who can sell me a title insurance policy?
When purchasing a home or other property, your lender will likely require you to purchase title insurance. You can purchase a policy directly from a title insurance company or title agent. Some title insurers may be affiliated with lenders, real estate companies, developers or home builders, but remember that you are not required to use the suggested title company or closing agent.
You have the right to shop for and choose your title insurance provider. The Louisiana Department of Insurance’s (LDI) Search for a Company or Agent feature allows you to search for companies and individual agents licensed to sell title insurance in the state. While shopping for a title insurer, make a list of questions to ask each potential provider. Be sure to ask what services and fees are included in the title premium and if you qualify for any discounts.
Are there different types of title insurance policies?
There are two different types of title insurance policies:
An owner's policy protects you for the full price of your home plus legal costs if a title or ownership issue arises after you buy your home. This type of policy is issued for the amount you paid for your home, and will cover you as long as you own an interest in the property. You are not required to purchase an owner's policy.
If you borrow money to buy your home or property, your lender is likely to require you to buy a lender's policy. A lender's policy only protects the lender if a title or ownership problem comes up after the property is purchased. A lender's policy is issued for the amount of the mortgage, and the coverage decreases as you pay down your loan. Unlike an owner's policy, the lender's policy ends when you pay off your mortgage. You may be expected to pay the premium for this type of coverage.
For more information on title insurance, visit the LDI’s title insurance resource webpage or contact the Department at 1-800-259-5300.
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