Everything You Need to Know About Open Enrollment

Ah, fall. A time to drink pumpkin spice lattes, admire the changing leaves, and watch college football. It's a season of change, of possibility, of openness—which makes it a great season for, yep, open enrollment.

Since this has been a crazy year for many of us—from losing jobs to getting rehired to pursuing a new source of income—your open enrollment may look different this year than years past. To help you prepare, let’s take a deeper dive. 

What is Open Enrollment for Health Insurance?

It’s a small window of time—anywhere from a few weeks to a few months—that allows you to make changes to your health insurance plan or enroll in a new one. 

Why is Open Enrollment Important?

It’s all about that first word: open. For most of the year, enrollment is closed, meaning you can’t make changes to your plan. There are some exceptions, called “qualifying life events,” such as marriage, having a baby, losing a job, or getting a divorce. But unless you have one of these, you can’t make changes to the plan you chose after open enrollment. 

That’s why it’s crucial you choose the right plan. You may discover that getting on your spouse’s employer sponsored plan is cheaper than having your own policy. When you make this discovery during open enrollment, you can switch to your spouse’s plan and enjoy saving money throughout the year. 

When does Open Enrollment Start?

For 2021 plans, open enrollment begins on November 1 and ends on December 15 (to get more information, check out the government website.) If you get health insurance through your employer, your HR department will reach out to you with open enrollment information.

What if I Miss Open Enrollment?

The rules are pretty strict, but there are three ways around it. 

1. You have a qualifying life event. 

When you undergo a major change in your life, you’ll most likely have to adjust your health insurance. Thankfully, the government recognizes that, too, which is why for certain events, you’ll get a special enrollment period. Those events are generally: 

  • Getting married 
  • Having or adopting a baby
  • Moving to a new city
  • Losing or getting a new job 
  • Turning 26 or 65
  • Getting divorced
  • Having someone on your plan die
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen

If you go through any of these events, you’ll get around 30 to 60 days to make changes to your plan.

 

2. You’re Native American.

If you’re a part of a federally recognized tribe, you get a special monthly enrollment period. You can find more information on that here.

3. You get short-term insurance. 

Short-term insurance is basically how it sounds—an insurance plan that fills the gaps between long-term insurance plans. States have various rules around short-term insurance (like how long you can buy coverage), but if your only alternative is to go uninsured until open enrollment, buying insurance for the short-term might be best for you. 

Need Help With Your Coverage?

Look, we get it. Health insurance is notoriously complicated. If your head is spinning, we can help. Just contact us give us a call at 877-725-1800, and we’ll you give you simple answers to your most complex questions.

Guidelines for Preparing for the Annual Medicare Enrollment Period

MEDICARE

If you qualify for Medicare benefits, you’ve probably received or should soon be receiving your” Medicare and You 2021″ handbook as October 15 through December 7 is the Annual Open Enrollment Period. This is the time when you have the opportunity to sign up, keep or make changes to your Medicare and Prescription Drug plan. Here are four basic guidelines on how to prepare for the annual Medicare Enrollment Period, along with some considerations and warnings.

1. LIST ALL YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS

First, make a list of your all your prescriptions, along with their dosages and frequencies taken. Review each insurance plan’s formularies to ensure all your prescriptions are covered. Keep in mind that although plans usually don’t change their prices or name, formularies do tend to constantly change. That’s why you need to review them so that you can maximize your coverage.

2. DECIDE IF YOU'RE SATISFIED WITH YOUR CURRENT PLAN

Review the past year and how your medical needs were or were not covered. Ask if the coverage was enough and if it covered the medical services you both needed and used most frequently. Do you notice any gaps in your plan’s coverage that you would like to have filled in 2021? Also, determine if you’ve spent more in out-of-pocket costs than you had planned to spend and if you used any out-of-network services.

If you’re happy with your current plan and coverage, you probably don’t have to change anything. Just continue paying your premiums, and your coverage will be renewed. However, be aware of any notices you get from your insurance plans during the next couple of weeks, which may include changes in rates and formularies.

3. KNOW YOUR COVERAGE FOR PREVENTIVE SERVICES

Ask your health care provider or doctor about the specific preventive services you need as well as how often you need them. These include medical services, such as annual physicals, mammograms, bone scans, colonoscopies and scans. Consider that sometimes doctors recommend tests that are done more frequently than what’s covered by Medicare. Fortunately, Medicare does cover some types of diagnostic tests for exams showing abnormalities.  

4. CHECK THE AVAILABLE PLANS IN YOUR AREA

After evaluating your current insurance plan and considering how your medical needs may change in 2021, the next step is checking out the plans that are available where you live. For example, maybe a particular plan wasn’t available last year but will be available in 2021.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS AND WARNINGS

  • Consider that choosing a different plan could mean paying less for high out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Check to see if your physicians and medical clinics are still in-network. 
  • If you need additional information, regarding comparing insurance plans, call 1-800-MEDICARE after October 15.

 CONTACT US

Questions? For more information or to receive a free quote, contact us or call 877-725-1800. We handle both personal and commercial insurance.

Happy family mother housewife and child in laundry with washing machine

Why 2020 is the Year We Need Life Insurance.

Simply put, life insurance provides your spouse, children, and loved ones (also known as “beneficiaries”) with financial support if you were to pass away. Making sure you’re covered is one of the most empathetic financial decisions you’ll ever make: you’re not thinking about your death so much as you’re thinking about the quality of your loved ones’ lives. And in that sense it’s an essential part of your overall financial plan.

Happy family mother housewife and child in laundry with washing machine

Why do you need Life Insurance?

2020. That's why.

But seriously—if your loved ones depend on your income, you need life insurance. Here are three big reasons why. 

1. To relieve financial burdens.

Funerals are expensive—on average, $7,000 — $10,000. You don’t want to leave your family paying out-of-pocket for that. On top of funeral and burial costs, your family will be in charge of paying the mortgage (or rent), utilities, groceries, credit cards, debt—the list goes on (and if you pass during an economic crisis, like the “Coronavirus Crash,” that list feels way longer). Life insurance replaces your income for years to come, so your family won’t be stuck in a tough place if you’re not around. 

2. To give your family time to plan.

It also gives your family time to grieve without worrying about paying the bills or finding a new source of income. You’re buying your family time to figure out what life looks like without you and what steps they need to take next. 

3. To give you and your family peace of mind. 

Life insurance answers the big “what if” question that keeps us tossing and turning at night: what if I pass away?  Though no policy can replace you—your humor, your love, your personality—it can put to rest the fear that your family will struggle financially in your immediate absence. 

Make Sure Your Loved Ones Are Covered

Look, here’s the thing—we often get so wrapped up planning our own financial futures, we forget to secure our loved ones’ futures if we die. If you don’t have life insurance, make it a point to get some today. Take a moment and contact a Snyder insurance representative, and we’ll help you customize a plan that fits your family’s needs.

Boat Storage

3 Basic Steps for Winterizing Your Boat

Boat Storage

If you own a boat, most likely, you’ve enjoyed cruising up and down waterways with your family and friends. But before long, cooler temperatures will arrive and you’ll need to put away your boat. That’s why it’s important you know how to properly prepare your boat for storage so it can be in good shape next season. Here are three basic guidelines for preparing and storing your boat during the off season, along with some considerations and warnings.

1. TAKE YOUR BOAT FOR A FINAL SPIN

First, you’ll need to take your boat out for one last ride so that you can detect anything that doesn’t seem right. Listen carefully for possible issues with the engine. If you do find anything wrong, get the problem fixed immediately before storing your boat. Ignoring the condition can result in the problem becoming worse while your boat sits idle in storage.  Check out our blog on boat safety here.

2. COMPLETELY DRAIN YOUR BOAT

The next step is to completely drain your boat after removing it from the water. When draining it, be sure to drain the water tanks, bilge, pipes, the head and seacocks. Next, add antifreeze. This is especially important if your boat is being stored in a place that isn’t climate controlled.

3. REFUEL AND CHANGE THE ENGINE OIL

Although refueling your boat may not make sense at first, it’s important because it helps in preventing moisture from accumulating and causing damage. Be sure to add a high-quality fuel stabilizer to avoid fuel deterioration from your boat sitting idly for several months. When fuel deteriorates, which can occur within two months, gum and varnish buildup can affect engine performance. This can make your boat hard to start as well as compromise the lifespan of the engine.

4. DETERMINE THE BEST STORAGE PLACE

There are several options for storing a boat.

  • If you have room in your garage, this may be the best option even though it will mean having to give up a lot of space.
  • If you’re thinking about indoor storage, choose a facility that has good security.
  • Many boat owners use dry stacked storage, which involves multiple boats being stored in a warehouse.
  • There’s also outdoor storage, which may be a good choice if you live in a mild climate. Marina storage can also be a storage option for areas not subjected to freezing weather.
Boat Storage

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS AND WARNINGS

  • Before putting your boat in storage, remove any belts to prevent them from cracking or snapping.
  • Thoroughly check fuel lines and hoses, as well as refill levels.
  • Before using your boat after it’s been stored, test all the electronics, including every button, switch and knob. Also, watch out for possible circuit problems.

Owning a boat means taking care of it in the off season. Purchasing a high-quality insurance policy is critical for extending it’s life for many boating seasons to come. For all your insurance needs, you can depend on Snyder Insurance. Contact us for any questions, along with a free quote.

Online Meeting

Online Meetings and Working Remotely During the Pandemic? Here’s How to Safeguard Your Online Meetings

Online Meeting

To call the opening weeks of the pandemic a nightmare for American businesses is a gross understatement. One of the biggest challenges was a rapid and effective shift from in-person to remote work. Sales at Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing platforms surged as employers scrambled to keep things moving.

Maybe you’re one of those business owners or managers who quickly purchased an enterprise account for your employees. And several months later, not only are your staff meetings, and sales calls all online, but your employees are all now trying to outdo each other with the most eye-catching filters and virtual backgrounds.

Now that you’re starting to settle into this remote world, you should evaluate the cybersecurity risks your video conferencing system and processes may pose. Perhaps you’ve seen headlines about Zoom bombing or even fallen victim to it. But the business risk associated with video conferencing is not limited to lost time from disruptive trolls. If you’re sharing sensitive financial or confidential information with other employees or clients across these platforms, you need to know how to safeguard the data. Otherwise, if compromised, your losses could be costly. 

It’s yet another potential headache in the era of COVID-19. 

But it’s one you may avoid if you take the following steps to mitigate risk.

Assess the security of your system

Start by assessing the platform you currently use. Understand that hackers and criminals will find new vulnerabilities over time. This isn’t a one and done situation. Keep your IT staff up-to-date with application improvements to patch those vulnerabilities as they are discovered.

Also, understand that your business’ video conferencing system is not the only third-party platform you use. It includes everything your employees use to join your online meetings, from their webcams to their microphones. Even separate wireless devices, such as smart speakers, can be compromised and used to collect sensitive information.  

Make sure your IT department fortifies company-owned equipment with the latest security measures, and regularly updates those security applications. Also, teach your employees to keep their computing equipment secure at all times.

Evaluate your operations

Review your written policies to determine if they follow best practices for keeping online meetings as secure as possible. Do this periodically — at least once every six months — to keep pace with new developments in IT security.

Also, make sure your employees are following company policies. Are your staff exchanging financial or other sensitive information via video conference, when they should be directing customers to a payment gateway? Are they inadvertently sharing confidential information when they are screen-sharing documents during a public presentation? You may need to provide additional training to mitigate the risk of sensitive data being stolen during online meetings and sales calls.

Evaluate your operations

Review your written policies to determine if they follow best practices for keeping online meetings as secure as possible. Do this periodically — at least once every six months — to keep pace with new developments in IT security.

Also, make sure your employees are following company policies. Are your staff exchanging financial or other sensitive information via video conference, when they should be directing customers to a payment gateway? Are they inadvertently sharing confidential information when they are screen-sharing documents during a public presentation? You may need to provide additional training to mitigate the risk of sensitive data being stolen during online meetings and sales calls.

Make sure you're covered

If you do discuss financial or sensitive information via video conference, have your counsel ensure that you’re using the proper disclaimers to minimize liability. If your data is stolen, make sure you’re covered from potential damages.

A comprehensive cyber liability insurance policy is a must in this brave new world of remote work. For more information about how you can be covered in the event of data loss, contact a Snyder Insurance representative today.

Back to school shopping list

Back-to-College Shopping? Why Renter’s Insurance Should Be On Your List

Back to school shopping list

Are you sending your child back to college this semester? After you’ve finished shelling out your hard-earned cash for textbooks, clothes, toiletries, laundry supplies, and other essentials, there’s one more item to put on your shopping list. An item that too many people overlook and forget.

…No, it’s not that new laptop they’re asking for. We’re talking about a good renter’s insurance policy, which is a must no matter whether your child is staying in a dorm or living in an apartment off-campus. 

It’s not as exciting as a new laptop, but it can help protect that laptop! (Along with everything else they own!) Dormitories aren’t the most secure facilities with students and their guests entering and leaving all day. And let’s be honest, college students like to throw parties, and sometimes strangers sneak in. Dorm keys get misplaced. Doors are left unlocked. And pretty soon, laptops, cellphones, and other costly items could disappear.

The same is true of apartment complexes, especially those that predominantly rent to a student population. Many landlords require prospective tenants to have a renter’s insurance policy as a part of the rental application. But even if they don’t, you should consider purchasing one to protect your child’s personal property.

Many people think that if an apartment building burns down or is flooded, the insurance a landlord holds will cover the cost of their damaged possessions. But a landlords’ insurance policy only covers damage to the structure of their building. Without a renter’s insurance policy, you’ll be left to cover the replacement costs of your personal items yourself.

What Renter's Insurance Covers

Renters Insurance

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy. 

Each policy varies based on relevant state laws, as well as the specific coverage options you select. However, typically, renter’s insurance policies cover:

  • Personal property. Renter’s policies will cover the value of your child’s items up to the coverage amount you selected. You can purchase policies with coverage amounts in increments of $10,000. The higher the value, the more expensive your monthly premium.  However, the monthly cost of most renter’s insurance policies can range between $10 and $30 a month depending on required limits and insurance scoring – a small price to pay for peace of mind. Some insurance policies — but not all — may require a special provision (known as a rider or scheduled item) inserted into their standard policy to cover high ticket items like laptops or jewelry. Riders typically cost extra, so read each insurance policy you’re considering carefully. Ask questions to make sure you have the coverage you need.
  • Liability: Liability insurance protects your child in case someone is injured as a result of negligence. Medical bills (for others injured) can be quite expensive, but liability insurance can save you from paying those hefty bills out-of-pocket. You’ll have the option to determine how much liability coverage you want to purchase. For example, you may buy a renter’s insurance policy with $30,000 worth of property coverage and $100,000 worth of liability insurance coverage.
  • Relocation expenses: This is also known as loss of use coverage. If your child’s rented living space is damaged or uninhabitable due to a covered loss on your policy, your policy may cover the cost of a hotel or other temporary accommodation while repairs are made.

How Do I Purchase Coverage?

Snyder Insurance can provide you with quotes from a variety of different carriers, and help you find the best policy for your student and your wallet. We can help you with standalone renter’s insurance policies or help you save money by bundling renter’s insurance with policies you may already have or looking to purchase. 

For more information or to get a quote, get in touch with a Snyder Insurance representative today by calling 877-725-1800.

 

Sailboat

Best Practices for Safe Boating

Sailboat

The weather is nice and the water is calling. The boat is dusted off and you’re ready to drop it in the lake for the season. Or maybe it’s your first boating year on the river and while you’re excited to take the family out, you might not be entirely clear on the rules of the water. 

Whether you’re feeling like Captain Ahab or a fish out of water it’s always a good idea to brush up on safety measures for yourself and others. You’re in luck! We’ve rounded up some resources, best practices, and good reminders for this year’s boating fun. 

wave border

Boating regulations can fluctuate with the tides. Make sure you’re familiar with updated laws by going to The National Association of State Boating Laws, for any updated information or questions you may have.

Did you know the operator of a boat is responsible for having the proper safety equipment onboard? This includes a life jacket that fits every person.

Boating is fun for the whole family as long as it’s done safely. Make sure your child has their life jacket on and buckled. If they’re below decks it’s ok to have it off in Illinois, but snap it right back on when they go back on deck.

  1. Short answer: don’t do it. Long answer: according to a study done by the US Coast Guard in 2017, alcohol is the leading known contributor to boating accidents and death. Here’s a short video reminder of why it’s important to stay safe and stay sober. 

In Illinois persons between the ages of 12 and 17 years old are required to take a boating safety course if they wish to operate a motorboat by themselves. As for everyone else, the US Coast Guard highly recommends it.  You may already have a driver’s license and know how to drive safely but a boat on the water is a bit different than a car on the road.

There’s a boat noise limit on many waterways and depending on where you are, the limits fluctuate. If you’re zooming around in a loud boat on the lake this weekend you could land yourself a big, fat, citation. Spare yourself the pain by educating yourself on the maximum noise level for motorboats in your state.

We’re not talking about sunscreen, we’re talking about insurance. Call Snyder Insurance to make sure you’re covered and we’ll set you up with a good rate on your boat policy.

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Infamous words from Benjamin Franklin and the rule of thumb in disaster preparedness. Having a plan, one that everyone in your household knows and understands, is one of the most important things you can do for your family. 

It’s not about how simple or elaborate it is, the critical part is to simply have one. Take a tornado for example: A common occurrence in the midwest springtime it’s not unusual for a tornado to form and touch down in the middle of the night. Think about waking up to a twister coming through your neighborhood like a freight train at 3 AM — not the best time to make a plan. But it is an excellent time to execute the plan you have already made and practiced. 

Here are some key points to consider when creating yours:

 FEMA suggests that every household have an easy-to-carry bundle of supplies like water, food and medications to last at least three days. In addition to one in your home, you may want to keep an emergency kit in your car, because you never know when disaster might strike. Here is a list of items to include in your kit.

There are some places you absolutely should not be in the event of severe weather. For instance, If you live in a mobile home you should leave and take shelter in a sturdier building. If you happen to be driving during a disaster locate a truck stop or some other well-built structure such as a highway underpass.

Practice for the worst-case scenario. Run drills at home so you aren’t stuck figuring things out in the middle of an actual disaster.

Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and determine how you will work together as a team.

The Red Cross advises practicing evacuating your home twice a year. Grab your emergency kit, just like you will in a real emergency, then drive your planned evacuation route. Plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable. Make sure you have locations and maps saved on devices, GPS units, and on paper.

Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes. Remember, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pets either.

Eventually, after the imminent danger passes, you’ll want to assess the damage to your home and property. If you have a claim you’ll also want to contact your Snyder Insurance Representative. This is what we’re trained to do — walk you through the claim process, answer any questions, and in general be a friendly voice on the other side of the phone.

Flood Insurance

A Case for Flood Insurance

Flood insurance seems very straightforward:

You buy or build a  home near water. You know you’re running the risk of flooding. As a responsible homeowner, you purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy. Now you’re covered for flooding. Right? Most likely, no.

Flood Insurance

In fact, there are a couple of costly assumptions in this seemingly simple statement. 

Consider this: It’s spring and it’s been raining more than normal. The weather is looking downright nasty and the storm drains in your neighborhood are already blocked and filling up. When the water starts to creep down in your basement it will take less than a foot of water to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damages. 

You didn’t get a flood insurance policy because you’re not in a flood plain. There’s not a river or lake within 75 miles of where you live. But floods aren’t only caused by rivers and lakes. They also result from levee or dam failures, broken water mains, and in the scenario above, clogged storm drains. In fact, according to FEMA, 99% of US counties were impacted by floods between 1996 – 2019. The numbers speak for themselves; your home will, at some point, most likely be subjected to flood waters. 

It should also be noted that the average homeowner policy doesn’t cover flooding. And while you likely feel you already pay too much for insurance, we at Snyder Insurance think not being properly covered comes at an even larger price. The National Flood Insurance Program reports that the average flood payout claim in 2019 was $52,000 and the average annual flood insurance policy premium in that same year was just $700. 

When you weigh it out, paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket versus a few hundred dollars a year seems like a simple choice. One that your Snyder insurance representative is happy to talk over with you. 

For more information or to add this coverage to your existing homeowners policy, get in touch, we’re here when you’re ready. 



Sources: Fema

equipment breakdown

What is Equipment Breakdown Coverage And Why You Should Consider Getting Some

What is Equipment Breakdown Coverage And Why You Should Consider Getting Some

equipment breakdown

You own a home and consequently have a corresponding homeowners insurance policy. Well done and also this is the minimum amount of coverage you should have for this important asset. 

In a previous post we spoke about the importance of having coverage for the utility service lines leading into and out of your home.  Similarly, equipment breakdown coverage is an additional, inexpensive endorsement that is meant to cover household appliances that stop working in case of electrical or mechanical failure. While your regular homeowners policy will cover appliances if they are lost or damaged in a bad storm or fire, there is little to be done outside of these instances. 

Equipment breakdown coverage functions similarly to a home warranty, covering everything from furnaces to refrigerators to air conditioners if they break down. The difference is that you can add equipment breakdown coverage to your home insurance policy as an endorsement at a nominal fee; a home warranty is typically a separate product that you buy through a separate entity.

Here are some examples of covered equipment:

  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Computers and computer equipment; data restoration
  • Refrigerators and freezers
  • Food spoilage
  • Washers and dryers
  • Ovens and microwaves
  • Boilers and furnaces
  • Water heaters
  • Home entertainment systems
  • Sump pumps
  • Some home gym equipment like a treadmill
  • Jacuzzis, hot tubs
  • Electrical power panels
  • Home security systems

Your equipment breakdown coverage endorsement will typically reimburse you for physical loss or damage resulting from:

  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Accidental breakdown caused by improper installation
  • An artificial electrical current, like electric arcing
  • Pressure systems breakdown

However, it will not cover for appliance replacement or repairs if the damage or loss is caused by wear and tear, including rust or corrosion, deterioration, any defects, mold, cracking, shrinking or expanding, or pest damage. 

For pennies a day this endorsement is something we encourage all homeowners to consider adding their existing policy. Think of it as a well-deserved homeowner upgrade that will likely pay off in the end. 

For more information or to add this coverage to your existing homeowners policy, get in touch with your Snyder Insurance representative today. 

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Updated 8/10/2020