Disability Insurance Awareness Month

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A life-changing disability can begin at any time. There’s no magical age you must reach first, nor is there any lifestyle or career that makes you immune to the risks of becoming disabled. Yet if this is all true, why do only around 20% of people surveyed actually have disability insurance? Maybe it’s because many people underestimate the value of having this kind of protection. That’s why May has become Disability Insurance Awareness Month so consumers get a chance to learn why they should immediately add this insurance to their portfolio.

What is Disability Insurance?

Many people skip optional and supplemental disability insurance policies because they assume that they’re already protected through the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Unfortunately, this is not always true. You must pay into the SSDI program through your FICA tax payments for quite a while before accumulating any benefits, and you can still be turned down for withdrawing these benefits and spend years appealing those decisions. Disability insurance requires only that you file a claim and have passed a short waiting period, such as 30 to 90 days after starting the policy. It’s a private form of insurance you must start and pay on your own, and it’s not legally required in California.

Why is This Insurance So Valuable?

Both short-term and long-term disability insurance policies pay you when you’re unable to work or can’t earn as much as you used to due to your injury or illness. Regardless of the form or cause of the disability, you have peace of mind knowing you’ll still have money to cover your bills and continue living your regular lifestyle. Since other forms of disability insurance and protection can take years to kick in, you can lose your home, car, and other important things in the process of trying to get the compensation you need. Having your own private disability insurance is the only way to know you’re really protected from the first day of recovery onward.

How Does Supplemental Insurance Work?

It’s a grave mistake to assume that you only need legally required forms of insurance, such as home and car insurance. Supplemental disability insurance is optional, but it’s so valuable that you should not go without it. As long as you can afford to make your premium payments, you’ll sleep better at night knowing you’re protected in case of an unexpected accident. Most disability insurance policies also include payout options for your beneficiaries in case you pass away rather than surviving to become disabled. It’s one of the most valuable supplemental policies you can own.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/10/11/556946744/why-a-long-term-disability-policy-is-more-important-than-pet-insurance

https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/social-security-disability-insurance/how-to-qualify

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Educating Employees About Distracted Driving Helps Keep Commercial Auto Premiums Low

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Distracted driving has become a major cause of commercial driving accidents in recent years, thanks to the increasing use of cellphones to call, text and interact socially. But using electronic devices is just one cause of distracted driving-related crashes. Taking your hands off the wheel to eat or drink or reaching for something behind or under a seat are other common distractions that routinely lead to accidents.

About 3,500 people are killed each year on average as a result of distracted driving-related accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and about 400,000 people are injured. For commercial drivers, the risks are often increased, partly because people who drive for a living are on the road more often, and also because the vehicles they drive tend to be larger and more difficult to control.

In fact, in commercial settings the risks are so significant, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has instituted strict policies for distracted driving, with stiff fines for those who violate the regulations.

Of course, fewer accidents make for a safer workplace, and that’s good for your employees as well as your business. Another benefit: Because distracted driving is such a common cause of accidents, addressing the problem proactively means you could also enjoy lower commercial auto insurance rates, leading to long-term savings and a boost for your bottom line.

  1. Educate your drivers. Many people don’t understand the very real risks associated with distracted driving or what constitutes distracted driving. Holding regular seminars, providing printed materials or implementing interactive educational systems ensures your drivers understand not only the risks, but also the simple steps they can take to improve their driving habits and avoid distracted driving.
  2. Look into free “call-forwarding” apps. There are plenty of free apps out there that automatically respond to calls and texts while a driver is on the road, eliminating the temptation to answer a call or read or respond to a text or tweet. Make sure your drivers know about – and use – these apps whenever they’re driving.
  3. Incentivize your efforts. Offer rewards for drivers who remain compliant with your distracted driving initiatives, including completing educational programs, using automatic response apps and staying accident-free for a specific period of time.
  4. Keep your initiatives front and center. Send out regular emails to remind your drivers about your distracted driving policies and include them in any newsletters you send out.

Distracted driving initiatives aren’t just for big companies or major fleet providers. Any business that includes driving activities can benefit from implementing a proactive plan to prevent distracted driving and reduce the very real risks of related accidents. Not only will it benefit your drivers by keeping them safe on the road, but it can also benefit your bottom line and your overall long-term business goals. To learn more ways to save on your commercial auto policy, call Basi Insurance at 877-590-4826 and talk to an agent today.

Spring Back to Health and Fitness

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It’s that time of year when trees regain their leaves, flowers begin to bloom, and many people start wondering if their summer clothes will still flatter them. Of course, warmer weather offers plenty of opportunities to get more exercise, eat fresh food, and to focus more on health and not just upon waist size.

Enjoy Your Spring Renewal Resolutions for Better Health Habits

Are you looking for some inspiration to incorporate a few more healthy habits into your lifestyle this spring? Hopefully, these tips will help!

Make a Note of National Nutrition Month on Your Calendar

You can celebrate  National Nutrition Month along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s HealthyPlate.gov website. Find fun and sensible tips to make meals a bit healthier and just as tasty. This page includes links to pages for preschoolers, older children, teens, young adults, older adults, and entire families.

Graphics, tools, and even games make healthier eating fun and engaging for everybody. You should find that you have an easier time motivating your family to enjoy healthy eating if they get involved in and educated about what that means.

Put a Little More Spring in Your Step

Diet and exercise go together like the lettuce and tomatoes in your healthy salad. If you’ve been pretty sedentary during the cold winter months, you might ease back into fitness with some activities you enjoy. For instance, you could get into the habit of walking with your spouse or a neighbor in the evening to enjoy some fresh air and conversation. Of course, this might also be the perfect time to simply start preparing your garden or tackling spring cleaning tasks.

If you’re one of those busy people who don’t believe you have time to exercise, these tips may help you get more fit without interrupting your schedule:

  • Park further away from the door when you stop at the store, so you have to walk more.
  • Get off of the bus or train a stop or two early to enjoy an invigorating, short walk to work or home.
  • Window shop at the mall to check out new spring fashions and people watch.
  • Invest in some light weights, and use them at your desk a few times a day.

As You Work on Your Health, We Can Check the Health of Your Insurance

Spring gives many of our clients a good chance to make sure that their insurance coverage will protect them from spring and summer storms. Contact us here at Basi for competitive pricing and tips to keep coverage high and premiums low.

Avoid Identity Theft This Tax Season: File Early!

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It’s been some time since Ben Franklin made his famous quip about nothing being certain in life – except for death and taxes. But despite the intervening centuries, it still holds true. And year after year, tax season returns – and with it, hassles, headaches, and frustrations.

While many people put off filing until the last minute simply to avoid facing the inevitable, it’s usually a much better idea to file as soon as possible. Certainly, filing during the early weeks of tax season makes sense if you’re getting a refund; but even if you owe money, filing early can help ensure your return is properly submitted, and it might even help reduce your risks of having your tax return (and the information it contains) stolen by thieves.

Preventing Identity Theft and Tax Fraud

Your tax return contains plenty of personal information, including your social security number, birthdate and address – all of which provide cybercriminals with a gold mine of data they can use to steal your identity, ruin your credit and pretty much create havoc in your life.

Criminals who “specialize” in identity theft are pretty good students of human behavior. They know people are far more likely to file their returns late – and they also know that by concentrating their activities during those hectic months, they could increase their chances of capturing some of that sensitive data.

Tax season isn’t just for “new” incidents of identity theft either. For criminals who already have your name and social security number, filing a return in your name early in the season means they can reroute any anticipated refund to a bogus bank account, making off with the funds before you have a chance to file your own legitimate return. Filing early gives thieves less time to file a fraudulent return, and it may also raise some red flags that can help the IRS track down someone who tries to submit a fraudulent return using your name later in the tax season.

More Common Than You Think

Tax fraud may seem unlikely, but actually, it costs the IRS millions of dollars each year, just in bogus refunds. That doesn’t include the amount of taxpayer money that’s used to combat tax fraud and to track down the thieves – many of whom aren’t caught. And if you are one of the people whose refunds are diverted, it can take months before the IRS can verify your claim and send you your refund.

In addition to filing early, here are four more tips to help you protect your identity this tax season:

  • If you file online, log out of the tax site each time you finish working.
  • Don’t use public computers to file your return, and don’t share your computer with someone you don’t trust.
  • Don’t leave tax forms or personal data (including W-2 forms) in your car or on your desk or other areas at work.
  • Shred scratch paper and any other forms or paperwork you don’t need.
  • Be suspicious of ANY email or telephone call from the IRS, especially if they ask you to log in to a site or provide personal information. Requests from the IRS for personal information are rare; you can – and should – email or call the IRS directly to confirm the request is from them.
  • If you’re due a refund, have it direct-deposited to prevent a check from being stolen in the mail.

Just these few simple precautions can go a long way toward helping you avoid identity theft this tax season.

It’s Financial Wellness Month: Here’s What Your Small Business Should Do

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January is Financial Wellness Month, and as a small business owner, you know how important it is to make sure your finances are in order every month of the year. Since January is the beginning of a new fiscal year for most businesses, it makes sense to take some time this month to make sure your finances and your insurance coverage are ready to handle whatever challenges the new year may bring. Here are four steps to get you started.

4 Simple Steps to Better Business Finance

  1. Review your budget and revise it as needed. If you intend to make improvements or add services or products, now is the time to plan for those additions, including any insurance or marketing costs related to their rollout.
  2. Revisit your hiring practices. Your company relies on a qualified staff to stay competitive. Make sure the processes you use to identify top candidates (and to retain them) are on target with your business’ goals.
  3. Look into cloud services. If you’re still running your office primarily on paper, now is a great time to look into moving as much as possible to online services that offer bookkeeping, invoicing, appointment-setting and recordkeeping. Not only will it help streamline your processes, but it can also help free up space and eliminate clutter in your work areas.
  4. Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for your needs. Your business undergoes a lot of changes year in and year out – some major and some subtle. And those changes can leave you open to losses you might not have anticipated – or planned for. Reviewing your insurance coverage every year is a smart way to plan for those possibilities so you can avoid financial upsets that could force you to close up shop. Insurance isn’t just for physical property; many businesses benefit from business interruption insurance that covers potential losses in the event the company has to suspend operations due to a natural disaster, power failure or other event. It’s a surprisingly affordable option that can provide you with additional peace of mind in addition to necessary financial protection.

Do you have enough insurance for your small business?

If you’ve been wondering about your business interruption insurance or other coverage options for your company, Financial Wellness Month is the ideal time to dig in and find out more. Call Basi Insurance Services at 877-590-4826 and have your insurance coverage reviewed. It’s quick, and the time invested could wind up saving you from a devastating loss later on.

Seven Simple Tips to Make Holiday Travel Safer, Less Stressful

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The holiday season is here, and for millions of Americans, that means traveling far and wide (or sometimes just a few hours away) to visit family and loved ones. Traveling can be lots of fun – but it can also be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you’re not prepared. Here are a few simple travel and home safety steps you can take to stay safe and reduce risks while you’re away from home this season:

  • First, don’t post your travel plans on social media. Studies show thieves keep a close watch on what’s being shared online so they know which homes are empty (and easier to target). Be selective in sharing information at work and among your friends as well. Even though your contacts may be trustworthy, there’s always the chance your info could be overheard or passed on to someone who’s not.
  • If you’re driving a long distance, take your car in for a quick service and checkup to avoid breakdowns, especially if the weather is snowy or icy.
  • Keep a first aid kit in your car along with a few warm blankets and some flares. Make sure your phone is charged before heading out, and let others know of your travel plans and route.
  • At home, use timers to turn your lights and TV on and off to give the appearance of being home. Today, there are plenty of “smart” timers you can program and operate using your phone so lights don’t always turn on and off at the same times each day.
  • Invest in a security system. There are plenty of DIY options that can significantly improve your home safety without draining your savings. Most include cameras that let you see your property – inside and out – from your laptop or even your phone. And some let you “answer” your door through a speaker system so it looks like you’re busy inside, even when you’re miles away.
  • Have a neighbor pick up your mail or ask the post office to suspend delivery while you’re gone. A helpful neighbor can also remove flyers from your porch or front door, park a spare car in your driveway and keep a general eye out for suspicious activity.
  • If you live in a snowy area, arrange for snow removal for your driveway and walkways ahead of time. Give the removal company your cell, and arrange to pay over the phone by credit card. No need to let them know you’re going away and shoveled walks and driveways make it look like you’re at home.

Holiday travel isn’t just fun; it’s also a great way to build memories that can last a lifetime. A little preparation is all it takes to maximize your enjoyment while minimizing stress and headaches.

Five Tips to Avoid Identity Theft on Cyber Monday

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Are you planning to shop online this Cyber Monday? You’ll have lots of company. Data shows more than 120 million shoppers took to the internet on Cyber Monday in 2016, cashing in on more than $3.45 billion in bargain-priced goods – and there’s a good chance those numbers will be surpassed this year.

Before you start making your lists and planning your own bargain-shopping spree, you might want to do a little security planning to make sure your credit card number and other personal information are well protected. After all, shoppers aren’t the only ones who will be hitting those e-tailers in droves; cybercriminals will also be out in full force with all sorts of tricks to help them steal your identity and rack up tons of charges in your name. Here’s how you can help thwart their plans and avoid identity theft this Cyber Monday:

  • Strengthen those passwords. Too many people use easy-to-guess passwords for their bank account, credit cards, email accounts and shopping sites, making it easy for them to become targets for identity theft. Before shopping online this year, ramp up your password strategy with these tips from ConnectSafely.org.
  • Keep passwords private. Never share them with friends, and try to use a different password for each bank account, credit card site, and shopping portal you visit. That way, if thieves manage to steal your information from one site, they won’t be able to use it to log in to another.
  • Steer clear of public WiFi. Shopping from the comfort a local coffee shop or library may sound like a good idea, but public WiFi comes with its own set of security issues, making it easy for thieves to steal your personal information. Instead, shop from your own internet connection at home or invest in a portable “WiFi hotspot” designed to give you a secure connection wherever you are.
  • Limit your cards. Use just one credit card for your online shopping. With just one account, it’s easy to spot unusual activity and errant charges so you can act quickly to protect yourself (and your money). Ask your card issuer about virtual credit card numbers designed to shield your real account number.
  • Skip the credit cards. Instead, invest in a gift card and use it for all your Cyber Monday purchases. With a gift card, your credit cards will be protected. Just be sure to register the card on its website and use a unique password for the site.

For year-round identity theft protection, consider investing in identity theft insurance. Policies are affordable, and they’re designed to give you plenty of protection as well as that all-important peace of mind. Call Basi Insurance Services at 877-590-4826 to learn more.