by Gary Castle

You’ve met your soul mate. You’ve purchased the ring. Maybe you’ve already popped the question. Congratulations, you’re getting married! 

During this exciting time it can be easy to overlook important details, but the moment you take possession of a diamond engagement ring, insuring it should be a top priority. 

Odds are the value of the ring you purchased represents a significant amount of money in context of your income.  Here’s how you protect that symbol of love in a seamless and cost effective manner. 

1. Your Ring is a “Special Article”

You might have asked yourself, “I have insurance for my apartment, co-op, home etc.  Why do I need insurance for my ring?” 

The typical insurance policy covering a residence has very limited or no coverage for Jewelry and other special articles, depending on the cause of loss.  It is therefore recommended that specific coverage be purchased for your Jewelry.  

2. Know the Fine Print

While the chances are low, should you need to put in a claim for your ring, your insurance policy will determine the Loss Settlement Valuation.

Some policies offer Agreed Value, others, Replacement Cost.  Some will offer Repair & Replace options only.  Your broker should explain the differences between these settlement options to you prior to selecting your policy.  

Your jeweler, for example, might offer you insurance at the point of sale.  While the ease of using that service might be appealing, the policy that is offered might not suit your specific needs for settlement.  An experienced agent can help you navigate the options to arrive at the correct choice, while providing you with just as seamless an experience. 

3. Know the Rates

Jewelry rates vary widely for each insurance company. An independent insurance agent can quickly compare companies and pricing. 

To get the rate even lower you can discuss adding an insurance policy for your home, if you don’t already have one.  More insurance companies will compete to quote the ring, if in combination with insurance for your residence. 

But again, even as a standalone policy, an independent agent can find the most competitive pricing in the shortest amount of time. 

4. Determine the Value

It is recommended that the ring be insured for an amount equal to what it would cost to replace.  This might be lower than the retail price your jeweler suggests for your ring if you managed to purchase it wholesale. 

In any event, the amount you spent on the ring is likely the best indication today of replacement cost.  This will need to be verified with either an invoice, bill of sale or an appraisal from a jeweler, which includes a full description of the item.  Your jeweler should be able to provide this to you.  

Remember, your objective should be to be able to replace the ring with like kind, quality and cost.  Jewelry should be re-appraised periodically, with the insurance adjusted accordingly to reflect changes in values.  

5. Ask for Discounts

Discounts are available through some insurance companies if the ring is kept in a bank vault or a  safe at home.  And the more policies you bundle together, the lower the insurance rates can go. 

Given each person’s unique set of circumstances, it is recommended you get guidance from an independent insurance broker when making your decision on insuring jewelry or any other special article.

by Gary Castle

Purchasing insurance for your Home, Co-op, Condominium or Apartment can be a confusing process.

The purpose is to protect your property and your assets in the event of a loss such as a fire, theft, water damage, lawsuit, etc.

Trying to understand your coverage AFTER a loss occurs is a mistake

This method can leave you with an uninsured loss or even worse in financial ruin. There are ways to prevent these unfortunate surprises from happening.

1. Know the claims process BEFORE you have a loss.

Managing a claim is a stressful experience. Why are some claims paid in full, some in part or some not at all? What information do I need to file a claim? Receipts, pictures, estimates, etc.

A conversation with your broker’s in-house claim department can afford you valuable information to prepare you for when a loss occurs. 

Remember, an independent agent/broker can be your advocate when dealing with the insurance company.

2 – Understand WHAT you are buying.

Do I need to insure my house based on the Replacement Cost or the Market Value? Does my condominium or co-op provide insurance coverage for my kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, wood flooring, etc?

Are my personal belongings covered under my policy if stolen from my car or when I’m on a trip?

Homes have mortgages, condos have by-laws, co-ops have proprietary leases and apartments have residential leases. An insurance professional can assist you in understanding what contractual obligations you may have under these agreements.

Identify any unusual or unique details about your lifestyle or residence that may differentiate it from another person or with a property of similar cost, size, and location.

3. Know WHO you are buying from.

There’re 24,000 restaurants in New York City. Would you eat at all of them?

Similarly, there are thousands of agents, brokers and direct writing insurance companies from whom you can purchase insurance. Are they equally qualified?

A referral from a respected source like an accountant, attorney, friend, relative or colleague can help direct you to a company that has already demonstrated its professionalism and level of service. 

Purchasing insurance online without any direct, personal guidance may result in an overlooked or missed coverage. An Independent insurance agent represents many insurance companies and therefore can find the correct policy for you and your residence.

4. Know YOUR specific needs.

For example, What limits do I need? Can I get sued if my sink leaks to the apartment below? Does my swimming pool create an added exposure that I need to protect? What happens if my Nanny gets hurt while working for me? My residence is undergoing construction, do I need to notify someone? Do I need specific coverage for my Jewelry? 

The goal is, when you know and understand your own specific needs, it’s less likely you will be surprised by an uncovered claim. 

Remember, things will change over time so periodic reviews and discussions with an insurance professional are recommended.

5. Correlation: Cost of coverage and scope of coverage.

“You get what you pay for” is a phrase that is very relevant when it comes to buying insurance. 

Finding out you have no coverage for a fire, stolen laptop, flooded basement, theft of belongings from a car or while on vacation can be a costly experience. Learning that you are not covered fully, or at all, for a contractor injured on your premises can be a life-changing event.

As you can see cutting corners when purchasing insurance or not having insurance at all can result in a financial loss that can be large or small. A good broker can work with you to help decide where your insurance premium dollars are best spent.

A small investment in time now, can pay off greatly later on when you may need your insurance to respond to a claim.

by Gary Castle

Financial advisers and wealth managers tend to focus primarily on asset accumulation and diversification. This is why we pay them – to make our money grow.

Their plan can take years to develop and will typically experience cycles of ups and downs.  It is highly strategic and typically involves diversification. 

What is surprising is that so much attention is spent solely on growing the asset. How much time is spent guiding you on how to protect it? 

“You can go three lifetimes and never have a claim over $100,000. But if you do, you can lose everything in an instant”

In the event of a personal lawsuit, there is the very real potential loss of most or all of your assets.    

What took years to accumulate, can be taken away in a single event. 

1. What protection do you have if you’re found responsible for an auto accident where people are seriously injured or killed?

If you’re found to be liable that means you will most likely have to pay damages. If your auto insurance limit is $100,000 for bodily injury,  then you foot the bill for every dollar above that. This could mean you’re at risk of losing your home and any other assets you’ve accumulated.

2. What protection do you have if you’re found responsible for serious injury to a person in your home or apartment?

These are the stories you read about in the paper. Someone slips and falls on your driveway in the winter. It’s a serious injury that leads to a lawsuit.  Will your personal liability limits be sufficient to fully protect your assets? 

3. What protection do you have if your household employee gets injured while working for you?

Your full-time nanny falls down the stairs of your home. If you don’t have the required Workers’ Compensation insurance, yes YOU need Workers’ Comp insurance, you will most likely find yourself financially responsible for damages. 

If you’re talking to a financial adviser then you’re building assets. Part of that conversation should include protecting what you’re building. 

You can go three lifetimes and never have a claim over $100,000. But if you do, you can lose everything in an instant.

by Adam Abresch

You or someone close to you has been the victim of a data breach. It happens every day and no one is immune.

This could manifest in the form of a fraudulent credit card transaction, identity theft, or locked out of your Facebook account.

The cost to consumers can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. A direct cost could be paying that credit card bill or paying The Geek Squad to “wipe” your computer.

Cyber attacks don’t just happen to consumers. They happen to businesses too. And it’s happening more and more.

Lloyd’s of London said Cyber Liability, insurance to pay for damages caused by a data breach, is the “Fire Insurance of the 21st Century”. That means every breach could destroy a business.

Insurance alone will not entirely protect your business. It’s one piece of a comprehensive strategy that all businesses need to adopt if they want to stay in business.

The costs associated with a cyber attack are so great that 60% of SMBs go out of business within 6 months of a cyber incident.

Most business owners haven’t considered the financial impact of a data breach. I beleive this is due to the lack of education from their trusted advisors. Let’s face it, while there are well publicized attacks in the media every week, there aren’t that many people a business owner can turn to.

Based on my research and experience I’ve identified 6 direct costs that contribute to a business closing its doors:

1) Technical Investigation
2) Customer Breach Notification
3) Post-Breach Customer Protection
4) Regulatory Compliance
5) Public Relations
6) Attorney Fees & Litigation

Add these up and you can see how difficult it would be for Main Street America to stay in business.

A fire might not look so bad compared to what a cyber attack could do to your business.

by Ronald Brunell

Time flies when you’re having fun! Signature B&B just celebrated our 2nd anniversary with our parent company, Acrisure LLC of Caledonia, MI and the question everyone keeps asking us is “What has changed since the Acrisure merger?”

The answer: Everything and nothing, all at the same time

When you become a part of the 7th (at the time of writing) largest insurance agency in the country you expect things to change – and in a sense they have.  Greater depth and breath of resources, access to proprietary programs and specialty underwriting, and significant market strength with our carriers.  At the same time, we continue to be responsible for and run our agency much as we always have.

The most significant changes to our operation have occurred on the client services side.

We’ve hired more employees on our service team to make sure our clients continue to get the attention they’ve come to expect from us. We’ve also hired more marketing folks as we continue to bring new products and services to our clients.  These are also strong indicators of growth.

Acrisure membership has great privileges for our clients. Our network of Agency Partners has the expertise and experience to help clients manage and overcome their largest and most complex risk and insurance challenges.  With industry specific specialties and powerful program development capabilities, experience does make a difference.

But it’s like I tell other brokers on Long Island who ask “but what’s really changed?”: The same, only better…