Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to School Coverage for Your College Student

Allied Insurance makes sure that your child in college has all the coverage from your homeowner policy- so you’ll have peace of mind. The HO-27 endorsement extends liability and personal property coverage from your homeowner policy while your child is attending college away from home. If your child has access to a vehicle while away, auto coverage can be continued through your Allied auto policy at a discounted rate. Allied also offers an endorsement that covers theft and physical damage of your child’s computer. Call us today to discuss your options.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Avoid Insurance Surprises When Buying or Selling a Home

Don’t let insurance surprises blow your real estate transaction! Here are some common deal-breakers:

1. You don’t pre-qualify for home insurance before escrow close.

Before escrow close, the title company will request proof-of-insurance from your insurance agent. If the amount of insurance does not meet the lender’s guidelines, you could lose the house of your dreams.

Let Allied Brokers review your policy well in advance of escrow close and the deadline for waiving the insurance contingency. And if your insurance agent is an employee of the insurance company that wrote the policy, he may not be able to do anything to solve the problem. Oops!

 As an independent insurance broker, we work with ten different carriers and will be able to get you the coverage you need- whatever your situation.

2. You don’t run an insurance claims history report on the property you are buying

If there are previous insurance claims against the property you want to buy, your insurance agent needs to know about these risks before escrow close. Some big companies, like State Farm, will not insure properties with any claims history. Your realtor should run a “clue report” to learn about previous claims.

Multiple claims guarantee difficulty getting insurance and higher premiums. Allied Brokers had a client in La Honda whose house was damaged twice by large trees falling on it. Since the house was in a forest and the surrounding trees were not chopped down, it’s likely the next big windstorm will cause more damage. Insurance companies won’t touch a property where future damage is so clearly predictable. Conversely, remedied claims are not much of a concern. If you were robbed but afterwards installed a burglar alarm, insurers won’t expect this claim to be made again.

3. If you, the buyer, have reported insurance claims at your prior residence

Two claims in a short period of time is a red flag to insurance companies and puts you in the top 5% of homeowners that will file a claim. If you have more claims within 5 years, you will be cancelled. We advise you to raise your deductible to $5,000 and spend the money you save on lower premiums to pay for repairs yourself. Insurance is for big risks you can’t afford to cover, not maintenance or the small stuff. If you are going to have a claim, have a big one.

4. If you are selling a home with the following conditions:
  • No electrical, plumbing, heating or roof upgrades in the last 20 years.   
  • Old wood roofs in wooded areas.
  • Fuses.
  • Galvanized plumbing.
  • No earthquake retrofitting if your home was built before 1960.
Most insurance companies decline coverage for these conditions. Some companies will give you time to make the proper repairs.

5. What about occupancy?

Will the home be owner-occupied, a vacation home or a rental? Will it be vacant or under construction? These all make a difference in what type of policy you should have and your agent needs to know this before placing the coverage. If not, you could be declined, or worse, your claim will not get paid.

Call Allied Brokers to avoid nasty surprises that can break a real estate deal. We provide free clue reports to realtors. Consult with us well in advance of escrow close to learn what the required coverage amounts are and then get pre-approved for them. We have the resources to solve any insurance problem.

Visit our website at for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Health Plan Survey Cites Key Trends in Employer Health Plans

In spite of the passage of health care reform efforts, the 2012 United Benefit Advisors (UBA) Health Plan Survey says health care costs will continue to increase for both plan sponsors and their employees. The UBA is the nation’s largest independent benefits advisory organization. Here are some other trends in employer health plans:

1. Consumer driven health care plans (CDHPs) declined for the first time since 2007.

2. UBA Member Firms clients’ average renewal for all plan types increased 5%.

3. The average monthly employee contribution for plans with contributions for all plan types is $126 for single and $494 for family.

4. The average employers contribution to a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) was down from 2011 for a single employee and up for a family. Employer health savings account (HSA) contributions continued to decline.

5. 81% of all wellness plans offered a health risk assessment.

6. 91% of all plans now offer an unlimited lifetime maximum benefit compared with 81% in 2011 and just 16% in 2010.

7. 48% of all covered employees also elected to cover their dependents, a 1.9% decline.

The intent of the survey is to provide employers of all sizes with the data they need to manage their health care benefit programs effectively- according to Ronald Bland of AEIS in San Mateo. Ron is a full service benefits broker with 30 years experience serving clients in the Bay Area. We have worked with him for 10 years and refer many of our business owner clients to him. Since all group health salespeople have access to the same products, Ron provides extra value with his service, support and know-how.

Ron can be reached at:  office: 650 348-6234 fax: 650 401-8261 |

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Workers’ Compensation and the Independent Contractor Myth

As an employer, you may think your employee is an independent contractor based on IRS rules and payroll withholding. But under workers’ compensation rules, your independent contractor is considered an employee. If you don’t have a workers' compensation policy for that contractor, you will be on the hook for all the benefits due to injury, death, disability and lost wages.

The government wrote the rules to force employers to pick up the tab for these costs- not the state. The state almost always sides with the victim/employee against the employer. Protect yourself and buy a workers’ compensation policy.

A true independent contractor is an established business which has:

1. Their own general liability and workers’ compensation policy.
2. Their own business license.
3. Advertises their services to the public and has other customers.
4. Performs work not normally performed by you.
5. Supplies their own tools and materials.
6. Charges a fee rather than an hourly rate.
7. Has complete control of how they do their job.

Any one of the following may cause the Workers’ Compensation Commission to decide that an employee relationship exists:

If the independent contractor:

1. Is furnished and office.
2. Is given business cards that indicate they are part of your company.
3. Is paid hourly rather than a fee for a contract service performed.
4. If you supervise their time.
5. If you supervise how they do their job.

The state is forcing employers to pay more for employees’ care and there is no way around it. As deficits rise, look for more aggressive enforcement by government agencies. For questions about workers’ compensation and other business insurance, call Allied Brokers.

Visit our website at for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.