Archive for January, 2014

Beware : The Home Based Business Needs Business Insurance

Posted on: January 27th, 2014 by Personal Insurance No Comments

As I sit in my home office today I have already advised my household occupants that my office is open until 4:30 and I can not take any non business questions until after that time.

Of course there is some eye rolling and a stomp or two of feet, but then they go away. The occupants have learned that if they want some thing, best to ask under the best of circumstances and for today that would be after my home office is closed for the day!

As I said I am working from home today! One of the things I am reviewing is home based businesses. I am trying to learn. Who has them? What do they do? How can we as insurance advisors get our clients to share their home business stories with us?

We would like to know about their home businesses for two primary reasons.

Reason #1

We LOVE to do business with local people that we know! If our clients are in a business, when and if we can, we want to do business with them as well!

Reason #2

Many individuals assume that there home insurance is SUFFICIENT to cover their business activities and unfortunately this is NOT the case. These home businesses typically need some business insurance.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are over 20 million home based businesses out there. The Independents Agents Study estimates that over 60 percent of these have no insurance.

We want to get the message out there that you may want to consider some type of business insurance if you are running a home business. Most policies define a home business as “activities” that generate more than $2000 in compensation during a specific time frame”.

So if you know of anyone with a home business, please remind them to check on their insurance!

We want all of our friends and families to have the coverage they need.

And if you are one of those home business people, please let us at Herlihy Insurance Group know all about your business so we can share your home business story in 2014!

Billing Errors & Omissions and Your Medical Practice

Posted on: January 24th, 2014 by Commercial Insurance No Comments

What ever your opinion of the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010, as with most lengthy documents, “the devil is in the details”. One such detail in part is how the federal government intends to pay for the program. Of great concern for all medical providers, buried deep in the 906 pages, is a revenue stream derived from fines levied against doctors for improper billing practices.

In the past, although somewhat rare, billing audits and claims of improper coding/billing errors in medical groups usually came from commercial third party payers. Today, with state and federal compliance enforcement here to stay, medical groups can find themselves the targets of audits for improper billing practices. Billing Errors & Omissions Liability coverage can provide defense, fines and penalties for billing errors and violations.

The Billing E&O also includes coverage for violations of EMTALA, HIPAA and Stark Act. Some recent claim activity details the reality and severity of these types of claims;

Billing E&O

A doctor was audited by Medicare to determine the appropriateness of claims paid by Medicare over a three year period. Medicare determined the doctor had been reimbursed for unnecessary procedures to the amount of $600,000. After a two year legal dispute with Medicare, the doctor agreed to reimburse Medicare $60,000.

The legal expenses amounted to an additional $96,000.

Stark Act

Two Internal Medicine doctors were alleged to violate an Anti-Kickback Statute. The doctors accepted gifts including sports tickets and meals in exchange for patient referrals. The doctors entered into a three year agreement to resolve their liability.
Accompanying violation fines totaled $183,000.

What would you do with an extra $700?

Posted on: January 21st, 2014 by Personal Insurance No Comments

That is the question for a returning customer to our office this week! Our agency saved them $700 by inviting them back to our agency and reviewing their insurance.

A quick story about their insurance. This client decided to go through their employer for a “group discount” for their personal insurance two years ago. A few things happened along the way:

  1. The Employer Group Discount Program was a good deal for one year.
  2. The client’s insurance coverage limits were reduced without their knowledge.
  3. In the second year of this change our agency could now save them $700.

Here is what we see about Employer Group Discount Insurance Programs. Typically in the first year of the program, clients save money for the year. Where we see the issue is in subsequent years. Because some of the Employer Group Discount Programs are usually provide by ONE insurance company, you would only have access to one set of pricing and coverage options.

At Herlihy Insurance Group we have multiple companies for your insurance so when one company has a rapid price increase we can present other options for you.

Most Employer Group Discount Programs do not have other options!

It is always a good idea to check in with your insurance agent every two years to check over your pricing and coverage options. Insurance company programs change and so do your insurance needs. Here at Herlihy Insurance Group we can go out to multiple companies and offer you a range of options.

Discount programs are always a great concept to review. Just always check that they are truly providing a “discount” to you!

Back to that $700. What a great surprise for the start of the new year!

Workers Compensation Construction Credit, Don’t Wait for Yours

Posted on: January 17th, 2014 by Commercial Insurance No Comments

It’s still a surprise to us when we are working with a new contractor client and we ask “Did you apply for your construction class credit?” The deer in the headlights look lets us know not only did they not apply; they have no idea what we are talking about.

In Massachusetts, employers with contracting class codes on their Workers Compensation policies may be eligible for an additional premium credit. Employers who pay higher than average hourly wages can earn a credit on their Workers Comp policy when the employees are classified in specific contracting class codes. Pay an average hourly rate of $18 or more in the contracting classes and receive a premium credit. Each state has their own approved class codes, typical codes include; carpentry, plumbing, electrical and concrete.

The credit program was developed to help level the playing field for employers that pay their employees a higher rate than another employer in the same field of work. Where Workers Comp premiums are determined by the amount of payroll, employer A paying his employees $27/hour will pay a much higher Workers Comp premium than employer B that pays his employees $15/hour for the same work and exposure.

The premium credit can be significant, ranging from 5% to 25% of annual premium. For contractors working outside of Massachusetts, many other states are participating in the program, be sure to find out for each state you work.

Don’t wait for your insurance company or state bureau to ask. Complete and submit your application directly to the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Bureau. After a review, you will receive a letter from the bureau determining your premium credit and not long after a credit applied to your Workers Compensation policy.

We know contractors. You have questions, We have the answers.

Call us Today.

Holiday Gifts in Review!

Posted on: January 13th, 2014 by Personal Insurance No Comments

In our house it is official that the holiday season is over. I know this because we now head into January birthday season.

The excellent part about January birthday celebrations is that the gifts for this month are acquired at “sale” prices. For the recipients this typically means they get more stuff for less.

Before I start my birthday shopping, I mentally review, now what did they get for Christmas? This year in our house we exchanged very practical gifts and I know that none of our holiday gifts required another look at our insurance coverage, but what about you? Were your holiday gift givers very generous?

Here’s our quick insurance rule regarding your gift items. If you received a gift valued at more than $1,000 please take a moment to consider how it is insured!

There is some limitation on certain types of items on your home, condo or tenant insurance policy.

  • Jewelry, Furs, Watches: Limits $1000 – $2500 (Varies per company)
  • Business Personal Property: $2500 (when located in the home), $250 (when out of the home)
  • Electronics: No specified Limitations but you may want to add broader computer coverage on these items
  • Motorized recreational toys

We at Herlihy Insurance Group LOVE when people know their insurance “limitations”. It truly is safer for all! If you have a question on a gift item or any thing in your home, please check in with us.

Hope that your new year is off to a great start.

Now, I am headed out for my family birthday shopping adventure. Hope the family people are not reading this. The truth is I do not plan to purchase any “valuable” items this January. Maybe next year ladies! Get your ATV helmets ready. WOO WOO

It is colder than… Nun’s navel and this cold weather!

Posted on: January 9th, 2014 by Personal Insurance No Comments

Just thought I would share an old expression that was frequently used by Jay Herlihy. The beauty of this expression was that it always made us laugh even when it was VERY cold.

Now back to the cold! In our agency we have already had five frozen/broken pipe claims reported this week and it was only Wednesday.

With this in mind we wanted to share a few tips about this topic. Please keep in mind that these suggestions are from us as homeowners. We are not professional plumbers just insurance advisors!

What can I do to prevent burst pipes?

Insulation sleeves or wrapping can help prevent vulnerable pipes from freezing. Cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes should be sealed with caulking to keep cold wind at bay. Also, believe it or not, kitchen and bathroom cabinets can prevent warm air from reaching pipes. It is a good idea to open these cabinets on especially cold days to allow the warmer air to reach pipes underneath.

Let the water run.

Letting a faucet drip during extremely cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting by alleviating the pressure building up between the ice blockage and the faucet. Even the slowest drip can provide pressure relief when needed. If both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, as both are subject to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet open, since a pipe may have frozen and will need pressure relief.

What do I do if I suspect a frozen pipe?

If you open a faucet and no water comes out, don’t take any chances. Call a plumber right away. If a pipe does burst, turn the water off at the main shut-off valve and leave the faucet open until repairs are completed. Never try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame, as this damages the pipe and creates a fire risk.

Stay Warm!