Monthly Archives: July 2017

Tennessee Recreational Vehicles and Insurance: What you Need to Know

Taking to the open road in a home on wheels is a dream for many Americans. If you are considering purchasing a recreational vehicles (RV) this summer, it’s important to understand what type of insurance you’ll need in order to make an informed decision.RVs come in many shapes and sizes: generally, Class A RVs are the most expensive to insure. As with auto insurance, your rates will be based on the make and model of your RV, your driving history and other factors. You may have the option to add RV coverage to your regular auto insurance, but this isn’t always recommended. Because your RV is both a home and a vehicle, it may require specialized insurance to provide the right kind of coverage.

Here’s what you need to know about Recreational Vehicles and Insurance:

Do I have to get insurance?

Insuring your RV is mandatory, but depending on which state you live in and whether you financed your RV, you may be required to purchase specific coverages, such as collision or comprehensive.

Full-time vs. part-time coverage:

RV insurance takes into account whether you live in your motorhome year-round, or only use it for part of the year. Part-timers can save a significant amount of money by purchasing a “storage option,” which suspends certain coverages (like collision) during the months you are not traveling. Although policies vary, your RV will likely still be protected in case of fire, theft or other damage.

Specialized coverage options:

As with many types of insurance, there are multiple options for insuring your RV. Here are some specialty coverages you may want to consider:

  • Liability insurance is required in most states, and will cover any costs related to damage or injuries to others if you are responsible for the accident.
  • Collision Coverage will help pay for damages to your RV if you are in an accident.
  • If you live in your motorhome year-round or use it frequently, you may want to consider Comprehensive Coverage, which will protect you in case of non-collision damage, such as fire or theft.
  • Similarly, Total Loss Replacement is a great option if you would be significantly impacted by the loss of your RV–this coverage will reimburse you the full original price rather than the depreciated value of your vehicle if the loss occurs in the first five years.
  • If you plan to park your RV at a campsite or other location for extended periods of time, Vacation Liability Coverage may be a good option. This policy protects you if someone is injured at your campsite or in your motorhome while it’s off the road.
  • Frequent road warriors may want to add Emergency Expense coverage to their policy. If your travel plans are disrupted, this will help cover the cost of hotels and other expenses until you can get back on the road.

Protecting your valuables:

Those who use their motorhome often or live in an RV full-time probably travel with many if not most of their important personal belongings. If this describes you, make sure your precious cargo is protected by purchasing Personal Property Coverage, also known as Contents Coverage. Similarly, consider insuring costly additions to your RV such as a satellite dish, grill, or awning.

Protecting your vehicle on the road:

You also have the option to purchase riders similar to the ones you would find on an auto insurance policy, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, roadside assistance, and total loss replacement coverage.

For any questions about RV insurance, call AmeriAgency today at

615-209-9362.

Summertime Safety: Top Five Summer Health Hazards

Here are the top five seasonal health hazards you should be aware of and prepared for this summer:

 

  1. Water: Unintentional drowning is a leading cause of death for infants and children. According to the National Safety Council, deadly water accidents are more likely between the months of May and August, and they usually occur in the home pool of the child, or of a friend or neighbor. Outdoor recreation activities such as boating, rafting or even visiting a water park can present serious danger to both children and adults. Whether you’re floating a river or taking a dip at the community pool, always use appropriate safety equipment and use best practices to keep you and your loved ones safe from water-related injury.
  2. Sun: After months of cold temperatures, it feels positively wonderful to soak up the sun on a hot summer day. But while the negative effects of this seemingly harmless pleasure might not be immediate, they can most definitely be harmful and sometimes even deadly. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and also one of the most preventable. The risk of getting skin cancer is much higher among people who sunbathe and especially those who have experienced multiple sunburns. Protect yourself by always wearing adequate, full-spectrum sunscreen, seeking out shade, and wearing clothing that covers the skin while hiking or doing other outdoor activities.
  3. Driving: More fatal car accidents happen in the summer than at any other time of year so it’s important to practice safe driving habits if you’re doing any seasonal traveling, or even just traveling around town. Be sure your car is in good shape before hitting the road; wear your seatbelt and insist that all passengers do, too; and never drive while impaired or overly tired.
  4. Fire: Barbecues, campfires, fireworks and other seasonal fire-related activities can increase the risk of fire injury or damage to land or property. Use fire responsibly by following all safety guidelines and instructions and using proper safety equipment, like gloves or eye protection. Obey local fire regulations, such as lighting fireworks and building campfires in designated areas, and never leave a child unsupervised around a fire or grill.
  5. Food Poisoning: Summertime is for cooking and dining outdoors, which leads to an increased risk of foodborne illness. Unrefrigerated foods combined with high temperatures create a perfect environment for bacteria to grow fast. Minimize your risk by following safe food handling practices and temperature guidelines, including washing your hands, avoiding cross contamination, cooking foods thoroughly, and adhering to recommended refrigeration times and temperatures. Remember: When in doubt, throw it out.

Follow these guidelines for a safe and happy summer! For low auto rates, call AmeriAgency today 615-209-9362.

Your Fired: Let Employees Go Legally

Bad hires happen, even to successful business owners and to those experienced at hiring. So what do you do when an employee doesn’t work out? Here is what you need to know about hiring and firing within the law:

Don’t I have the right to fire any employee, at any time, for any reason?

The short answer is: No. This right is what’s known as “at-will employment,” which means that, under certain circumstances, an employer can fire any employee “at will,” in other words, for any old reason, justified or not. But there are many caveats to this provision. As an employer, it’s up to you to understand the state and federal laws and what you can and cannot do when it comes to hiring and firing.

What are the exceptions?

Employees may not be terminated for discriminatory reasons, or for taking advantage of employee benefits, like using all of their vacation time, or taking time off from work to vote (which is legally protected). Likewise, you cannot fire an employee for refusing to break the law, or in retaliation for exercising an employee right, such as reporting harassment. These laws do vary state to state. In the state of Montana, for instance, employers are not permitted to fire employees “at-will” following a designated probationary period, but instead must demonstrate “just cause” in order to let a worker go.

So how can I legally get rid of an employee?

Just as there are plenty of exceptions to “at-will” employment; there are also plenty of ways to fire a bad employee legally. Here are some suggestions to help you make sure you are following the law when terminating an employee:

Provide clear guidelines: Having a clear employment contract is key to preventing future problems. Not only is it important to explicitly state things like length of probationary periods and termination procedures; it’s also critical to outline behavioral and performance expectations. Make sure to specify whether new hires are considered “at-will employees,” and never suggest or imply that employment is guaranteed for any reason, either verbally or in writing.

Know the law: Employers may or may not be required to provide continuation of health coverage, unemployment, or other benefits depending on state laws and your company’s employment contract. Understanding the nuances up front will ensure that your practices and procedures are legal every step of the way.

Document, document, document: A successful termination begins with having fair and appropriate documentation that begins as soon as the problem arises. Although it may seem tedious, always cite employees for inappropriate behavior or performance issues, and be sure to fully document the process. This will help to show that the termination was legitimate if a former employee claims discrimination or any other type of wrongful termination.

Use common sense: Just because you can fire employees at-will doesn’t mean that you should. Treating employees fairly and with respect will give your business a reputation for being a good place to work. When you finally get rid of that difficult employee, you’ll have no trouble attracting the right person next time.

 

Call AmeriAgency today to start saving on business insurance at

615-209-9362.

6 Things To Do Before Getting a Dog

For Tennessee residents, having a dog can be one of the great joys in life but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. If your family is considering getting a dog, there are many things to consider in order to make the best choice. Here are a six things you should do before making the leap:

  1. Do your research: Having a good experience with a pet depends on finding a breed that fits your family’s personality and lifestyle. Some dogs require a lot of exercise to be happy and healthy; others need plenty of quality time with their owners. Consider your family’s level of activity, work schedule and other factors when selecting a breed that’s right for you.
  2. Make a commitment: Taking care of an animal is like showering: you have to do it pretty much every single day. If you’re not ready for a serious investment of time and energy, spare yourself–and the dog–by not getting an animal until you’re prepared to make that commitment.
  3. Train the whole family: Just as with kids, your dog will have a hard time if he isn’t getting consistency when it comes to training and discipline. Maximize your dog’s potential by learning a thing or two about how to raise and socialize a calm and happy animal; then make the effort to teach everyone in the family how to participate.
  4. Have a budget: Not only do pets require time and energy but, just like children, they cost money–sometimes a lot. Take into account up front costs like spay and neuter procedures, vaccines and supplies, such as a crate, leashes or training programs; as well as annual costs for food, checkups, and licenses.
  5. Make sure everyone’s on board: Are all members of the family excited about the idea of having a dog? Does anyone have allergies that will make it difficult for him or her to live with a pet? Be sure that all family members are excited about the idea of a new puppy and willing to participate in its care.
  6. Buy pet insurance: Pet insurance policies are a lot like human health insurance policies. Choose from comprehensive coverage, major medical, wellness, or some combination of the three. Depending on your plan, pet insurance may cover vet bills, accident or injury, vaccinations, and preventative services.

For most dog owners, the time, money and energy it takes to care for a pet are well worth it. But getting a pet when it isn’t right for you can result in serious heartache and a traumatic experience for both dog and human. Make sure the timing and conditions are right before going to find your new best friend.

For questions about pet ownership and insurance, call AmeriAgency today at 615-209-9362.

Insuring Your Vacation Home

Every summer you visit the same beach with your extended family; or maybe you love to spend winter holidays in the same charming ski town. Within a few years, you’re a regular at the coffee shop down the street and no longer feel like a visitor in the community. So when do you take the next step and consider actually purchasing a home away from home? And what do you need to know about insuring that home before you decide to buy?

 

Here are four major factors to keep in mind when insuring your vacation home:

Location:

A house near the ocean or in an area where hurricanes are common will probably have a higher risk profile than your primary residence. Work with your insurance agent to assess the risks unique to your location to find out whether you should purchase additional coverage, such as flood insurance.

Property Rentals:

For many, renting a second home when it’s not in use will be absolutely necessary in order to purchase a vacation home in the first place. If this is your situation, be sure to think through the logistics and the likelihood of renting a property regularly while you are in another location. Consider who will oversee the rental process; whether the home will need to be furnished, and whether it can be rented frequently enough. Can you cover the costs when it’s not rented out?

If you do plan to rent, you will probably require a landlord or rental dwelling policy, which provides property and liability coverage. Generally landlord policies are more expensive than a standard homeowner’s policy, because the risks associated with a rental property are greater. A landlord policy may also protect you from loss of income if you are unable to rent the property while it’s being repaired.

Personal Property:

If you’re planning to use your second home as a furnished rental, or even if you just don’t plan to be there for a good portion of the year, there are a few ways you can protect your personal property and avoid disputes with tenants. First, make sure you have adequate personal property coverage, including riders for any special or valuable items. Inventory your second home thoroughly so that you can provide adequate documentation if your property is lost, stolen, or damaged in your absence. Finally, consider requiring tenants to purchase a short-term renters’ policy, because it’s likely that your policy won’t cover tenant’s personal property if it gets damaged.

Unique Risks:

If you don’t plan to rent your vacation home regularly, you can probably purchase an endorsement that will cover the property under your homeowner’s insurance. But before you sign on the dotted line, be sure you’re getting adequate coverage for the unique risks that come with owning a vacation home. You will want to separately insure recreational equipment like a boat or snowmobile. If you have a pool, or you plan to entertain guests regularly, you should probably increase your liability protection.

To start saving on your property insurance call AmeriAgency now at 615-209-9362.

Health and Safety at Work

Everyone is entitled to a safe and healthy work environment: your employer is required by law to provide a safe workplace, adequate training in a language you understand, and appropriate safety equipment, among other things. If you are injured on the job or have a safety concern, it’s your right to file a report and to be free from retaliation by your employer for speaking up. Read on to find out all about OSHA and how to exercise your right to health and safety at work.

What is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a division of the Department of Labor and is responsible for ensuring that employers follow the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Passed in 1970, the Act outlines employees’ right to a “safe and healthful” workplace by setting forth standards and regulations that employers must follow.

Who is covered?

Most employees are covered by OSHA or a similar, state-run, job health and safety program that must, at minimum, meet the same standards required by OSHA. Self-employed people, independent contractors, volunteers, interns and others who are not legally considered employees may not be covered by OSHA.

What are my responsibilities as an employee?

As an employee, you are required to follow the rules, regulations and safety procedures of your employer. You also have a responsibility to understand and follow OSHA guidelines and requirements; and to report any job-related injury, illness or hazard to your employer.

When should I file a complaint?

If you believe your working conditions are unsafe or harmful to your health, you have the right to ask questions and to request that your employer amend the situation. If your employer refuses to take your concerns seriously, you can file a complaint with OSHA. If the circumstances clearly present a high risk of injury or death, it may be within your rights to refuse to work until the concern has been addressed. Follow this link or go to the OSHA.gov website to file a complaint online, or by phone, fax or mail.

What happens if my employer gets angry at me for contacting OSHA?

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate in any way against a worker for exercising his or her legal rights. This means your employer cannot fire, demote, transfer or punish you in any way if you choose to file a complaint. If you feel you have been the subject of retaliation, you can file a discrimination complaint, also known as a whistleblower’s complaint, at OSHA.gov.

What should I do if I am injured at work?

After you take care of any acute symptoms, it’s important that you report any injury to your employer. Even if you don’t think you will need medical attention, it’s better to report an injury and have it resolve itself than to find out it’s worse than you thought and not be able to get the care you need. It’s best (and may be required in your state) to report injuries in writing to ensure your right to worker’s compensation is protected.

For the best rates on business insurance call AmeriAgency at

615-209-9362.

Tips For Business Travel For Employees

Need Business Insurance?

Do you have employees who travel for work, or do you travel for work often? If so, you may know the ins-and-outs. Here are some considerations for business travel that you can pass along to those employees who hit the road regularly.

Get in the fast lane:

If you travel often, there are several ways to speed up the airport security process. One option is TSA Pre-check, a program that allows you to go through security without the hassle of taking off your shoes, removing electronics, etc. To enroll, all you have to do is pass the screening process and pay a small fee. Many airlines these days also allow you to check in online and get a boarding pass right on your smartphone, saving you from having to wait in line twice. Finally, consider the airport security process and be sure to dress and pack your carry on in a way that makes things go more smoothly: allowing easy access to IDs, wearing slip-on shoes and such.

Enjoy creature comforts:

Traveling can be anxiety-making, even for the pros. Instead of relying on sleeping pills or making yourself feel worse (ultimately) by drinking alcohol while you travel, bring along a few things that will truly help you to de-stress. Have some essential oils, a decent pillow, or maybe just your headphones and some great podcasts available whatever works best to help you chill out when you’re feeling less than serene.

Pack a lunch:

Airport food is way overpriced ($15 for a bag of pistachios, anyone?) and often unhealthy. Maybe you’ll find something decent along the way; but maybe you won’t. Prepare for either scenario by packing some nuts, string cheese, maybe even a sandwich, so that you won’t get too hungry or grumpy en route.

Expect the unexpected:

Thwarted business travel can be a nightmare, especially if you have to give a presentation and all your notes and your best suit are in your suitcase, which is still in a different city. Although it’s rare, these things do happen. Protect your peace of mind by having a backup plan for missed flights, late luggage and the like. If you must check baggage, be sure to bring a change of clothes and anything critical to your trip in your personal carry on.

Be friendly:

When your travel plans get disrupted by things out of your control, it’s easy to get frustrated with flight attendants, restaurant employees and airport staff. But remember: The things that are out of your control are usually out of their control, too. And you don’t want to get on bad terms with anyone who might be able to solve the problem so take a few deep breaths and keep your mouth shut.

Reap the rewards:

If you’re going to be crisscrossing the globe, you might as well take advantage of one of the many rewards programs available to frequent travelers. Both hotels and airlines offer loyalty or frequent flyer programs, which can get you free flights or hotel stays, exclusive privileges, discounts and upgrades. Do your research to find which plans will work best for your travel style and frequency, and then stick with those companies to enjoy the most benefits.

 

Call AmeriAgency today to start saving on business insurance at

615-209-9362.

10 Ways to Plan for a Carefree Retirement

If you’re heading for retirement or even if it’s a ways off, you might already be writing that bucket list of things to do and places to see as soon as you don’t have to show up to work every day. But before that happy day arrives, there’s a different list of things you should cross off to ensure that your golden years are truly carefree.

  1. Daydream: To get somewhere, it’s important to know where you’re going. Spend some time envisioning what the ideal retirement would look like in order to find out what’s most important to you. Do you want to have money and freedom to travel? How and with whom do you hope to spend your time? Asking questions like these will help you to make plans that support your unique vision and keep you on the right track.
  2. Aim to be debt-free: Whatever it takes, make it a goal to begin your retirement without student loans, mortgages, medical bills or credit card debt hanging over your head. See a financial planner or credit counselor if you need help getting started.
  3. Learn to budget: If you’re not that great at managing your money now, imagine what could happen when you’re on a limited income. Take steps towards financial literacy that will make your life easier right now and free you from fear and worry in retirement.
  4. Simplify your life: If you plan to travel or don’t want to spend so much time keeping up a big house, downsizing your possessions or even moving to a smaller residence might be a good idea. Thoughtfully consider what you really need, and start getting rid of the rest.
  5. Save, save, save: Saving money is one of the most critical things you can do to plan for retirement. Contribute the maximum amount to any employer-sponsored retirement accounts and find ways to save on the little things along the way.
  6. Get healthy: Enjoy the present and plan for the best possible future by making a commitment to your physical and emotional health. Consult your doctor and invest in preventative health measures before it’s too late.
  7. Plan your estate: Having your affairs in order includes much more than deciding who’s going to get the good silver or the painting over the mantel. A thorough estate plan can put into place legal and other protections for minors or beneficiaries who may not be able to handle a large amount of money; minimize tax penalties for transferring property and assets, and can include plans for charitable giving and funeral arrangements, among other things.
  8. Put your health care wishes in writing: A living will is a legal document that details what type of medical care should be administered or withheld if you become unable to make your own decisions. A second legal document, called a medical power of attorney, allows you to appoint somebody to carry out your living will and make healthcare decisions for you, rather than leaving it to your doctor. Don’t leave these critical decisions to chance; instead, get them in writing well before they might be needed.
  9. Consider life and health insurance needs: Life insurance isn’t always needed in retirement. But If you have a minor or disabled child, are still paying off some major debt, or would like to protect your spouse in the event of your passing, you should probably consider it. Health insurance, on the other hand, is a necessity and it can sometimes be difficult to find the right plan at an affordable price, so start your research early.
  10. Write that bucket list: Planning for retirement doesn’t have to be all serious, hard work. Take the time to start that bucket list now and make checking off the rest of your countdown to retirement tasks worthwhile.

Call AmeriAgency to bundle and save on auto &  home insurance at 615-209-9362.

Insurance for Empty Nesters

When the last of the children head off to college or out on their own, some parents, although sad, breathe a sigh of relief. For many, getting the kids out of the house will immediately relieve some serious financial stress. But it’s important to be smart with how you handle that extra income so that you’re setting yourself and your children up for a secure future. Here’s what to do when your dependents become independent:

Think carefully about cancelling your life insurance. It might seem like a good idea to cancel your life insurance when you no longer have dependents and are comfortably living off of your retirement; but this decision should be made thoughtfully. Many young people end up doing a second stint in their parent’s’ home or will need ongoing support (if you have a special needs child, for example). An unexpected death can also take a heavy financial toll on spouses, who may struggle to pay the bills without their partner. Finally, some parents choose to maintain their life insurance with the idea of leaving a legacy for their children or contributing to an important cause. Whatever you decide, be thoughtful about whether to maintain your life insurance into the future.

Secure your health. As health issues related to aging increase, it’s important to have the right kind of coverage. If you are lucky enough to retire early, you may need to purchase your own health insurance until Medicare kicks in at age 65. Before you leave the workplace, find out if you qualify for COBRA, which will allow you to keep your health insurance for up to 18 months after you retire. Lastly, do your research on Medicare programs to find out whether you will need to fill any gaps in coverage.

Consider extended care insurance. Also known as long-term care insurance, extended-care insurance is for people who need help with the activities of daily living–such as eating, bathing or dressing–due to an illness or impairment. Whether it takes place in the home or in an assisted living facility, this type of care is usually beyond what’s covered by your basic healthcare plan. Purchasing extended-care insurance can help you to protect your assets and get the assistance you need when you are unable to care for yourself.

Meet your children’s health needs. It’s important to keep your son or daughter insured through the risky teens and early 20s. If they’re going off to college, there will likely be a health plan available through the school. If your child is leaving the home but not going to college, be sure your health insurance will continue to cover him or her for the next several years. If not, you may need to purchase an additional policy.

Becoming an empty nester is an exciting and sometimes scary prospect. Follow these suggestions to keep your financial health in tip top shape well into the future.

Call AmeriAgency for advice or to bundle all your insurance at

615-209-9362.

Insurance Needs for Home Additions and Renovations

Need Homeowner Insurance?

Adding on to your home, completing major or minor renovations, or making upgrades to outdated plumbing or electrical systems can all have a positive impact on the value of a property. But did you know they can also change your insurance needs? Here’s what you should do to make sure you’re covered before, during and after you make changes to your home.

Update your homeowner’s policy, right away:

Your homeowner’s insurance was intended to cover the property as it was when you purchased the policy. So it’s important to let your insurance company know about any renovations or upgrades as soon as possible. In addition, you should let your insurance company know about your remodeling plans before you get started, to be certain you’ll be covered during the process.

Renovate and save:

A major addition to your home may increase your premium, but certain upgrades might actually get you a discount. Replacing a worn out roof, upgrading outdated wiring or plumbing could get you a reduced premium. If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes or flooding, consider renovating to make your home more weather-proof. Finally, adding security features to your home may result in a reduced premium from some companies.

Vet all contractors and subcontractors:

We always hear that it’s important to hire an insured contractor, but why? Well, first of all, many states require contractors to show proof of insurance in order to gain licensure, so you’ll know that your contractor has the minimum skill requirements. But more importantly, a contractor’s insurance may cover mistakes or injuries that would not otherwise be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. So make sure the liability isn’t all on you by hiring a licensed and insured contractor in the first place. And don’t just take your contractor’s word for it–make sure to examine documents and be sure the insurance policy will last for the duration of the project, even if that means calling the company yourself.

Choose a bonded contractor for extra protection:

A bond is a type of insurance that protects the customer in the event that a project is done poorly or not completed. If your project is high risk or if you are unfamiliar with your contractor, consider requiring them to purchase a surety bond.

Consider extended liability coverage:

If anyone other than licensed contractors and subcontractors will be helping with your renovation–friends or family members, for example–you may want to increase your liability coverage while the work is being done. This will protect you if an uninsured individual is injured on the job.

Secure your personal property:

If the renovations on your home include additional items, like a sound system, outdoor equipment or expensive fixtures, you may want to add separate coverage for these items and/or list them separately on your policy. Either way, be sure to alert your insurance agent of your new property so that it will be protected in case of theft or damage.

For the best homeowner’s insurance coverage and rates call AmeriAgency at 615-209-9362.