Category Archives: Tips and Advice

Annual Insurance Review: Check Up On Your Policies

240_F_78183193_B9rMAcbdIxfWoVLdPD1u49aTgUTvTJGVWhile we all lead very busy lives, one thing we do not want to neglect is the condition of our insurance policies. Not reviewing your policies with your insurance agent is like never visiting your doctor for at least your annual checkup. You may get away with it for a while, but it could lead to serious problems in the future.  We recommend an annual insurance review and here are our 5 suggestions for you:

1.Request a current Schedule of Insurance. This will provide you with a snap shot of your coverages at the time of your request. Once you know what coverages are in place, you can discuss the need for any additions, deletions or changes with greater confidence and understanding.

2. Schedule a meeting or a telephone call with your agent to review ALL your policies. This will include an overall review of your Personal, Commercial, as well as Life and Health insurance needs. This is a great opportunity to review your entire portfolio including property values, deductibles, and any need for additional (excess) liability coverage. We recommend the best time to schedule this call or visit is at least 30 days before your renewal date or if you are thinking about purchasing a new location, vehicle, boat or any other type of major purchase.

3.Speaking to your insurance agent is another opportunity to discuss any changes that have occurred in your life, such as the purchase of a primary home, a rental property, a vacation home, the birth of a new baby, a new business venture or even a change in your current business operations, or personal status. This may be a good time to also discuss health care options, long term care insurance for you or your parents, life and/or disability insurance or retirement planning. Your agent can assist you in making the right choices for you and your family.

4. If you are a business owner, perhaps your business is in growth mode and you are expanding by hiring more employees. You may be required by law to provide Workers Compensation Insurance and Short Term Disability or face steep penalties depending on your state laws.  

5. Be sure to discuss areas where there may be opportunities for discounts such as multi-car, defensive driving, packaging auto, home and umbrella policies, non-smokers,burglar alarms and mature market discounts just to name a few. In today’s economic climate, any means of saving money is sure to help a family or business’ insurance budget.

A regular insurance “checkup” is like the old saying by Benjamin Franklin …. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Give us a call today and let our insurance consultants here at Petschauer Insurance assist you in making good insurance decisions for you and your family.

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

12063834_1024471410920184_8444822571656263951_nOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which serves as a reminder to many women over 40 that they need to schedule their annual mammogram. For many others, however, it is a real opportunity to spread awareness of the disease and how important early detection plans can be. While many people realize that breast cancer is something women should be thinking about, the numbers don’t always hit home. The reality of it all is that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States.

Not only is it important to be thinking about Breast Cancer Awareness in October, it should be at the forefront of our minds, and something every woman should be proactively discussing with her doctor. Creating an early detection plan will help in reminding you to perform routine breast self-exams and to schedule clinical breast exams and mammograms.

With that being said, we all heard that mammograms are painful. The systems available to check for cancer are not the most pleasant, so we’re highlighting a few tips to reduce the pain of a mammogram.

For a more comfortable mammogram:

  • Don’t wear lotion, deodorant, perfume or anything else your doctor advises against because it may leave marks on the film — and you’ll have to schedule another test!
  • Reduce your salt – The more salt, the more bloating and fluid retention in the breast, which causes pain and discomfort.
  • Avoid caffeine – Caffeine will increase tenderness in the breast, even more so if you have benign cysts.
  • If you are in extreme discomfort, speak up. Doctors may be able to adjust the machine or the compression to ease your discomfort.

Petschauer Insurance believes that it is important to be proactive and responsible about your health. We offer insurance products for you, your family and your business because your health is important. Having a health care plan that is right for you will allow you access to the many preventive screenings and care options you need. Be sure to speak with a professional of Petschauer Insurance if you have a question about your health care coverage or if you would like us to review your Supplement Plan.

Protect Yourself from the Burning Sun

sun-293615_640The climate is beginning to heat up and summer is officially right around the corner. We expect you all to be out there enjoying the weather and spending a lot of time outside, as you all deserve the sunshine! While you are out there having fun in the sun make sure that you are also protecting yourself from it! Here are some simple tips so you avoid any sun burns, skin damage and visits to the doctor in the future:

Cover Up in Style

  • Wear4745425727_a9ee9a4a10_o a wide brim hat that protects your scalp, forehead, eyes, ears, nose and neck- a good opportunity to showcase your fashion sense 
  • Wear sunglasses that are UV absorbent
  • Invest in some light weight long sleeved shirts, they’ll keep you cool while protecting your arms

 

Apply Sunscreen

  • SPF 30 at leadownloadst; Anything less than this won’t protect your skin much, and can result in unwanted sunburns
  • Remember to reapply regularly – especially if you plan on swimming or playing sports

 

Limit Your Sun Exposure

  • 31522767_ee9421d7b8_oIf you plan on being out in the sun for a couple of hours make sure that you routinely find shade as well
  • Bring a sun umbrella, if you’re going to the beach or a park

Stay Hydrated

  • bottles-774466_640Drink up on natural waters
  • Reusable water bottles are the way to go
  • Soda and alcoholic beverages actually dehydrate you, so do not use these as a replacement to water

 

Keep these tips in mind and go out and have some fun in the sun! If you plan on camping soon, be sure to follow the steps above and check out our 101 guide to camping.

Strategies to Relieve Stress & Anxiety at Work

Strategies to Relieve Stress & Anxiety

 It’s normal to experience moments of stress during your work day.  How do you handle this? Here at Petschauer Insurance our philosophy is to put strategies in place to help deal with our anxiety and stress so that we can be as positive, productive and feeling successful as possible. Whether your anxiety is triggered by work stress or personal stress you hold the power to overcome.  You will feel more confident and that will help you be more positive.  We believe in a work-life balance. Here are some of our strategies that work for us:  

  1. Be Self Aware: Stop and reflect on what exactly is causing your doubt, anxiety or stress.  What triggered this negative response?  What do you need to do to have a positive outcome?
  2. Be Present: honor those feelings you have. No matter what they are, do not judge them. Then put it in perspective to the situation you are in. What do you need to do to prepare yourself for a professional response?  
  3. Be Prepared and Organized: Feeling prepared enables
    you to engage the experience knowing you did the work by putting in the time and effort. Being organized helps you complete the task with a sense of purpose and focus
  4. Communicate Clearly: maintaining an open dialogue, which is positive and reflective, will lead to success of task completion and client satisfaction
  5. Collaboration: Talk about it with a co-worker you trust, or a family member. Getting it off your chest can relieve the pressure, and receiving advice and support is extremely helpful
  6. Refuel: This is coping skill we use to keep our energy level high and positive. Here are a few examples:
    • Take short breaks to breathe deeply.
    • Sit up, and slowly breathe through your nose and let the air fill your entire upper body, and then slowly breathe out. Do this 10 times and this will help give you more clarity to confront the situation head on
    • Get active by standing up and walking around. Take a short walk to clear your head or get a cup of coffee/water. You can easily escape a bad mood by moving your body.
    • A good laugh can cure the stress by boosting the brain’s endorphins which will help your mood
    • Squeeze a stress ball. By simply applying some weight to the pressure point on your palm, will relieve stress and muscle tension in your hands.


What helps you refuel from the stress of your day?  We encourage you to reflect realistically about what helps you recharge, regroup and re-balance yourself. And be willing to share this information with your colleagues so that they can reinforce it for you and WITH YOU! 

If you found this helpful, please share this with your friends on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn!

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Petschauer Insurance’s Guide To Moving

Demenagement_quebec1As most of you know, we are moving to our new office in Garden City, NY.  We have been planning our move over the last 8 months to ensure a smooth transition for us and for you as well.  We know at some point in your life you will encounter a move of some sort, whether it is personal or professional.  We want to share with you some tips we used, as well as some we learned along the way, to have your move go as easy as possible.

MOVING TIPS:

  1. Get organized by creating a checklist with time frames
  2. Start packing early.  Remember to get packing materials such as boxes, tape, etc.
  3. Donate anything you won’t need in your new place.  Get a receipt for a tax deduction.  If you can’t donate it then we suggest you throw it away!
  4. Sell other items online or have a garage sale.  Remember to check with your town as you may need to have a permit to have a garage sale.  Again start early – this option takes time
  5. Notify all utility companies
  6. Contact the post office and have your mail forwarded
  7. Notify friends, family, clients, doctors, veterinarians, etc of your new contact information
  8. Obtain references from moving companies before hiring
  9. Obtain a Certificate of Insurance from your moving company to be sure they are covered for at least Liability and Workers Compensation
  10. Discuss purchasing insurance for your belongings with your moving company as there is limited coverage for this move on your current policy.
  11. Update stationary, letterhead, business cards, etc. This is a good time to be creative and change your logo
  12.  Update your driver’s license, car registrations and vehicle titles
  13. Cancel any services- such as bottled water deliveries, newspaper deliveries, automatic deliveries, etc
  14. Notify Your Insurance Agent of your move.  Your coverage will need to be tailored to meet the needs of your new place.  You may even need to rewrite your existing policy to a new policy.

And please remember to stay calm so you are prepared for any last minute or unexpected changes.  We can guarantee that WILL happen.

Good luck with your future move!

Don’t forget to check out our Countdown to our Garden City Move on Facebook and Google+.

Ask Sherri: Insuring Your Valentine’s Day Gifts

With the spirit of love in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches, it is only appropriate for us to bring back our classic Valentines’ Day episode of Ask Sherri. If you plan on proposing this Valentine’s Day or just getting your loved one an expensive gift, we highly recommend that you check out this episode. Sherri will show you why you may want to consider a Floater Policy or adding extra coverage to your Homeowners or Renters Policy for these special gifts.  And…. why you may want to stay away from putting your ring in the cake…

Super Bowl XLIX Party Tips from The Petschauer Insurance Team

Super Bowl Party TipsAmerica’s biggest sporting event is undeniably the NFL Super Bowl! Every year families and friends gather around the tube on the first Sunday night of February, to watch the game, catch the infamous commercials, eat up on platters of finger foods, and put money on boxes.  The Super Bowl is this Sunday and the staff at Petschauer Insurance wants to share with you some their traditions and advice.


 

Game Day Advice: 

“We all know people like to drink for the games, so make sure everyone has a designated driver or takes a cab to get home. Drunk driving endangers everyone involved from the driver, passenger, and the host of the party!” – Karen Skoler, Commercial Lines Manager

football boxes (3)If you plan on setting up boxes for the game, make sure that all rules are set in place before kickoff! This will prevent any confusion or mistakes when it comes to paying out the winners. – Sherri Consentino, Personal Lines Account Executive

“If you’re hosting the party, don’t put all of the pressure on yourself when it comes to deciding what food and beverages to serve. When inviting guests ask them to bring some of their favorite food and drinks.  This way you not only have a variety but, you as the host, can join in on the laughter and fun as well! Suggesting that everyone bring something unique can add to the festivities!” – Daniel Bonilla, Social Media Coordinator


 

Recipes:

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Cut boneless chicken breast into bite size pieces

Wrap each piece of chicken with piece of bacon

Placed wrapped chicken on a baking tray

Bake in a 400 degree oven 15-20 minutes (or until bacon is crispy)

Transfer to serving platter, insert toothpicks, and serve with dipping sauce of your choice – honey mustard, BBQ, ranch etc.

Taco Dip tacodip

Ingredients:

Can of refried beans

Tub of sour cream

Shredded lettuce

Sliced black olives

Diced tomatoes

Shredded cheese

Layer ingredients in a cake pan or similar dish, starting with the refried beans. You could also add guacamole, ground meat or chopped onions!  Don’t forget the chips !


 

Recommended Super Bowl Venues:

If you and your friends don’t want to throw a party, you can just attend one of these!

Gottscheer Hall,  657 Fairview Ave. Ridgewood, New York

Free appetizers at each quarter, free hot buffet at half time, and no entry cover!

Plattduetsche Park1132 Hempstead Tpke. Franklin Square, New York

Hosting an open bar, all-you-can-eat grand buffet, and all-you-can-eat apps! All included for $45 dollars ($55 at the door).

Paulaner NYC265 Bowery, New York, NY 10002

No cover! Click here for Super Bowl specials menu.


 

Study Up Before The Big Game!

You may not be a football fan, but will still watch the Super Bowl. Study up a bit on the teams that are playing if you’re not acquainted beforehand and you might actually want to watch the game and not just the commercials. 

Keep Your Buildings From Freezing During Winter Months

Homes, offices, apartments, warehouses, and all other personal or commercial buildings are not immune to damage during the winter. Winter weather inevitably brings freezing conditions and this can spell disaster. So therefore, it is necessary to put strategies in place to avoid such occurrences whenever and wherever possible.

Steps to take to avoid damage:

  • Inspect for damaged water lines, air drafts, heating systems, and make repairs promptly.
  • Keep the cold out by sealing areas with caulk, foam, insulation and use temperature monitoring devices to make sure that the measures implemented are actually working.
  • Keep warmth in and keep water moving to avoid the freezing of pipes and possible breakage. Insulating pipes is always a good idea, especially in unheated areas.
  • Be aware of water flow volume and make use of both “home” as well as “away” settings.
  • Configure temperature settings with existing alarm system, some of which can be controlled with mobile applications.

frozen-ice-189996_640Steps to take if there is damage:

Once there is a damage of any kind, it is necessary to mitigate the problem and to prevent further damage. Here are some suggestions regarding the type of action to take once something happens:

  • Shut off the main water valve.
  • Implement any sprinkler impairment program.
  • In the case of a frozen line, remove any ice plug and administer heat.
  • Be sure to implement any emergency response and a business continuity plan.
  • Contact a water remediation contractor.
  • Remove high value or water sensitive equipment and material.
  • Be sure to take pictures and/or video of any damaged areas and/or equipment.

Remember the old adage from Ben Franklin – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – and save yourself the extra stress this winter.

Karen Skoler, CPCU

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How Much Insurance Do I Really Need?

Calculator-with-handAn interesting question and perhaps the most frequently asked when trying to determine the limit of insurance necessary to protect your property in case of loss. In insurance lingo, this concept is known as “insuring to value.” When trying to determine what this limit should be, most people immediately think of the market value of their property. However, market value has no bearing on the cost to rebuild or repair in case of loss. Frequently, clients insist that their property be insured for the selling price they believe they can get in today’s market, or for the price they paid when they purchased the property. This thinking can inflate the cost of the insurance, or worse yet, leave one improperly (under insured) insured at the time of a loss. So what standard should be used to determine the correct limit of insurance?

Keep in mind that land doesn’t burn and, therefore, doesn’t need to be repaired or rebuilt. So it follows, that even if you paid separately for the land and the structure, you don’t need to include the value of the land in the limit of insurance you choose. Structures can, and do, burn including both the main structure as well as any “appurtenant structures” such as garages for example. When establishing the value of your property you want to choose a limit of insurance that reflects the cost to repair of rebuild in case of partial loss or total loss. When in doubt a good rule of thumb, used by insurance carriers, is $175 to $200 a square foot. (Keep in mind that this figure is only to be used as guide when trying to determine insurance to value.) Since inflation is often a factor in contracting costs, many insurers include automatic percentage increases in their policies which range from 2% to 8% a year to cover such contingencies.
There is also an 80% rule which is utilized by insurance carriers. This rule, called “Coinsurance,” requires that a homeowner or building owner have a limit of insurance that is equal to at least 80% of the total replacement cost of the structure. A breach of this requirement, results in a penalty that can leave the property owner a participant, or a “coinsurer,” at the time of loss. In short, the insurance company will only pay a loss based on the limit of insurance carried, to the limit which should have been carried to meet the 80% requirement. Often clients think that they can save money by choosing an arbitrary building limit, until they encounter this situation at the time of loss and then it is too late!

For example, I own a home with a replacement cost of $300,000. (Some of my neighbors have recently sold similar homes on my block for upwards of $450,000. Remember, however, that the price I can sell my home for has nothing to do with the limit of insurance I need. If I were to build an exact duplicate of my home on some exotic island it might sell for over $5 million, but the replacement cost is still that same $300,000.) 80% of $300,000 is $240,000 which is the limit of insurance I need to meet the 80% requirement. Any lesser amount will generate a penalty. As a consequence, I won’t be paid in full at the time of loss. Let’s say that I decide to insure my property for $200,000. Subsequently, I have a loss and the damages are approximately $100,000. Even though this is not a total loss, undoubtedly, I will suffer a coinsurance penalty. Here is how this works: $200,000/$240,000 = 91.67% and the carrier will only pay me 91.67% of the loss or $91,670. The remaining $8,330 is my portion of this loss, and on top of this, the carrier will further reduce my payment to reflect the deductible I chose when I took out my policy.

Remember, any renovations or major changes to structure such as adding a room or extending the property will change this requirement, so it is imperative that you review your policy limits with your agent on, at least, an annual basis!

By Karen Skoler, CPCU

Should I Transfer My Home To a Trust or To My Kids?

HomeMany individuals want to know whether they should transfer title to their homes to a trust or to their children. The short answer is “it depends” upon your objectives and comfort level, among other potential factors. For many individuals, such a transfer may be a very good idea provided it is properly structured. There are several good reasons why a person may benefit from transferring title to their home. These reasons include probate avoidance, estate tax planning, Medicaid planning, and ongoing management of the asset in the event of incapacity.

There are different methods used to transfer title to a home. For example, a deed may be transferred to a revocable trust, irrevocable trust, outright to a family member, or to a family member subject to a retained life estate. The best method to make the transfer can be determined after consultation with a qualified attorney. The wrong method can lead to adverse tax consequences and the loss of the right to live in the home.

Probate avoidance is an objective many clients seek. Avoiding probate means that your estate will not pass through the courts. This typically means that there will be a savings, which is often substantial, in court costs and attorney’s fees. In addition, an estate that avoids probate typically passes quicker to the decedent’s heirs and the settlement of the estate is private as opposed to a matter of public record. Avoiding probate is also a good idea if you anticipate your Last Will and Testament will be contested or if you own real property in more than one state.

Estate tax planning is another reason why many persons transfer their home to a trust. As an example, by transferring title to the home to a “Qualified Personal Residence Trust”, the transferor may save substantial estate taxes by removing the home, and all its future appreciation in value, from the transferor’s estate at a discounted value. The discounted value applies because the creator of the trust retains a term of years where he or she will live in the home rent free. After the retained term of years expires, the creator of the trust must pay fair market “rent” if he or she continues to reside in the home and wishes to keep the home outside their taxable estate. This payment of rent can be another effective way to reduce the size of a taxable estate since the rent is not considered taxable income and does not count against the $5.25 million federal exemption. Note: If the creator of the trust dies before the retained term of years expires, the home will be brought back into the creator’s taxable estate.

Medicaid planning is another reason why many people transfer title to their home to a trust or to a family member. Medicaid planning involves restructuring title to your home for it not to count as a resource or have a lien or estate recovery claim filed against it if Medicaid is sought to pay for long-term care at home, in assisted living or in a nursing home. A proper deed transfer to a trust or to a family member for Medicaid planning purposes will allow for the transferor to continue to live on the property rent free for the rest of his or her life, will keep the real estate tax exemptions in place, will allow the transferor to keep the capital gains tax exclusion if the home is sold during the transferor’s life, and will achieve a step up in the basis of the home upon the transferor’s death.

Ongoing asset management is another reason individuals may put their home (or other assets) into a trust. Under this scenario, an individual is typically the trustee of the trust as long as the person has the mental capacity to serve. The trust language typically provides that if the original trustee loses capacity, another person or entity named as a successor trustee assumes control of the trust.

As you can see, there are many issues present when determining whether to transfer title to a home. Unfortunately, many people fail to properly transfer title resulting in tax and other problems that could have been avoided with proper professional advice.

It is important to have your insurance representative involved in the process to help make sure your insurance coverage remains in place and is not lost due to a change in title.

By: Robert J. Kurre, Esq.

Robert J. Kurre, Esq. is a partner with Kurre Levy Schneps LLP located in Manhasset, New York. Mr. Kurre, a certified elder law attorney, represents individuals and corporations in connection with the planning and administration of simple to complex estates and trusts consisting of assets of modest to substantial wealth. Mr. Kurre’s practice concentrates in elder law, estate planning, estate administration, special needs planning, and estate and trust litigation. His website is www.klsllp.com.