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It’s not unusual to find the Medicare enrollment process a bit daunting. All those letters and parts can get pretty confusing, and you want to make the choice that will be best for you. Here’s how to determine what will fit your circumstances when you’re signing up for health care.

Begin with Basics

There are two terms used to describe basic Medicare: Original Medicare and Traditional Medicare. They refer to the package you sign up for on or around your 65th birthday, which is Parts A and B. US News explains if you already receive Social Security benefits you will automatically start receiving Medicare coverage the month you turn 65. Otherwise, most seniors need to enroll within the seven-month window surrounding their birthdays, beginning three months prior to the birth month. For seniors who wait to enroll after their birthday but within the enrollment window, coverage begins in accordance with when they enroll.

If you or your spouse is still working when you turn 65 and you receive healthcare coverage through an employer, you have until eight months after that coverage ends to enroll in Medicare.

Missing your enrollment deadline will mean paying penalties for the rest of your life, so timely enrollment in Medicare is very important.

How Much Is It?

Parts A and B are provided through the government, and if you worked 40 quarters or more, Medicare Part A is free. It covers your hospital stays and related charges. Part B covers outpatient services, and the cost is determined by your income.

Beyond Basic Coverage

There are two more parts of Medicare, Part C and Part D. These are designed to cover things Parts A and B do not. However, Parts C and D are through private insurers who must meet government guidelines in what they offer.

One example of Part C insurance is Medigap, and it includes several plans to help cover costs Medicare does not. One of the nice things about Medigap is it works in conjunction with Parts A and B. Some plans provide coverage for emergencies during foreign travel, and when you’re exploring your options, note Plans F and G offer a broader range of benefits than the other choices. Plan F offers a high-deductible option, but once you meet that deductible, it covers your Part B deductible while G does not.

Another Part C option is Medicare Advantage. This confuses many seniors, but as Investopedia explains, there are differences between Medigap and Medicare Advantage, with pros and cons to each. While Medigap works alongside Parts A and B, Medicare Advantage replaces them.

Sometimes, Medigap costs more per month than Medicare Advantage but also might equate to less out-of-pocket expenses. Medicare Advantage will limit what healthcare providers you see as well, so before going that route you should verify your physicians are covered.

Last, But Not Least

Part D is the last of the four Medicare parts, and it is private insurance covering prescription drugs. If you’re trying to decide whether it would benefit you, one suggestion is to examine the drugs covered by Parts B and D, in comparison with your personal needs.

All Part D providers are required to cover at least two medications in each of the six drug classes. So, for instance, if you’re on an anti-seizure medication, an antidepressant, or in chemotherapy, you might want to see if the medication you’re taking is covered, or if there is a comparable drug your doctor might switch you to.

Time to Change?

If you’re already enrolled in Medicare, you aren’t stuck with your decisions. The open enrollment period runs from January 1st through March 31st every year. If you want to make changes after examining your situation, you can do so during that time.

Medicare can be pretty confusing. Begin by ensuring you enroll on time, and choose supplemental plans in accordance with your circumstances. Thanks to your careful research, you can rest assured you’ll have the healthcare coverage you need.

Data From More Than 100 Million U.S. Capital One Customers Involved in Data Breach

Capital One announced on July 19, 2019, that the personal information of more than 100 million of its U.S. customers was compromised in one of the largest data breaches involving a bank. In an official release from the company, Capital One noted that the information exposed includes names, addresses, emails, credit scores and transaction data. In some cases, Social Security numbers and linked bank accounts of secured credit card customers were also compromised.

Capital One noted the breach occurred when a software engineer exploited a vulnerability and gained access to a company server. The company expects to lose between $100 million and $150 million from the hack, including costs related to customer notifications, credit monitoring and legal support.

This News Brief will highlight how you can find out if you were impacted by the breach and what steps you can take to further protect your data.

Was I Affected by the Breach?

Information involved in the breach reportedly came from credit card applications consumers and small businesses submitted between 2005 and 2019. Capital One has said that while the vulnerability has been addressed, they will continue to investigate the situation.

The company also said it will notify impacted individuals directly and offer free credit monitoring and identity protection.

What Else Can I Do to Protect Myself?

Outside of taking advantage of Capital One’s credit monitoring and identity protection services, customers should consider doing the following to further protect their data:

  1. Set up fraud alerts that notify you when someone applies for credit in your name. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the primary providers of this service. Placing a fraud alert does not affect your credit score.
  2. Consider freezing your credit. This prevents anyone from opening credit or requesting loans and services in your name. You will need to request a freeze with each of the three credit reporting companies, which again include Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
  3. Monitor your credit reports and statements, and look for unusual or unfamiliar activity. Again, it’s a good idea to take advantage of Capital One’s free credit monitoring services if applicable.
  4. Stay mindful of potential scams. In an FAQ hosted on its website, Capital One encouraged customers to be aware of potential phishing scams related to this breach. They stated that they do not call or email customers asking for personal information. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent email, do not reply to it or click any embedded links.

The SIG Insurance Agencies will continue to monitor this story and provide updates as needed.

To download this News Brief by Zywave, click the link below:

News Brief – Data From More Than 100 Million Capital One Customers Involved in Data Breach 

If you’re interested in cyber insurance coverage for your business, please give our office a call or visit our quotes page today.

© 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

With all the possible OSHA violations and potential fines, ensuring OSHA compliance within your company can seem like a daunting task—but it doesn’t have to feel that way.

Start with Record-keeping
Do you have an employee who is responsible for recording all cases of injury or illness? If you don’t, this is a good place to start on your road to OSHA compliance.

Generally, human resources departments are responsible for OSHA compliance, but sometimes this is the safety manager’s responsibility—every company is different. Either way, someone should be responsible for OSHA compliance, as keeping up with new and changing safety regulations can help you avoid accidents and complaints.

Benefits of OSHA Compliance
Complying with OSHA standards can reduce your workers’ compensation costs by helping you eliminate unsafe workplace conditions and making your company a safer place to work.

Compliance also means you are more likely to avoid inspections from an OSHA compliance officer. OSHA regulations state that OSHA can inspect your workplace without notice. But businesses with complaints filed against them have a higher chance of inspection, so your chances are greatly diminished if you’re complaint-free.

In the same vein, OSHA compliance can help you avoid costly fines, since you have inspected your workplace and corrected any violations or unsafe conditions. If your workplace is compliant, you are less likely to receive complaints, inspections and any subsequent fines.

Tools You Can Use to Be Ready for OSHA
You should always be ready for OSHA inspections, and tools like an online OSHA log can help you be prepared.

Tracking injuries and incidents in an online OSHA log keeps all the information you need in one place, and can easily be printed to share with employees or any OSHA inspectors who visit.

Plus, by storing all your incident information in an online log, you can easily analyze it to spot trends, benchmark against national data, and isolate potential problem areas based on division, time period or injury type.

Compliance is the Key
The SIG Insurance Agencies has the tools you need to save time, work more efficiently and keep your workplace compliant with OSHA standards. Contact us today at (203) 359-0880. We want your workplace to be as safe as you do.

Did you know OSHA compliance could help you save?
OSHA compliance can help you reduce your workers’ compensation costs, avoid inspections and eliminate costly fines. It also makes your workplace safer for your employees.
© 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

I’m pretty confident that if you asked anyone who has ever owned a rental property you would get an overwhelming response that it’s not as lucrative or easy as they thought it would be. In fact, owning a rental property can be a major pain, and end up costing you a ton of money!

I certainly don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer”, and I know that if it’s done right it can be lucrative, but from an insurance agent’s perspective, I don’t see a lot of people doing it right.

So you’re probably thinking, “Well Chris, you are an insurance agent. What do you know about real estate or rental properties? Why should I take advice from you?”

I’m not a real estate agent, and I don’t own a rental property. However, several of my friends/family/clients/co-workers own rentals, and because I insure a bunch of their properties, I’ve had a first hand account of the process, and I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do.

Continue reading →

I was recently asked this question by one of our The SIG Insurance Agencies clients, and thought I would share the answer here for our readers.

There are a lot of things that go into homeowners and auto insurance rates, one of them being credit. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who don’t like the fact that insurance companies use credit in their underwriting.

Some people have absolutely no idea that it’s used in the rate at all.

At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do about it though. Insurance companies have been using credit in their rates for decades, and that’s not likely to change.

By the way, insurance companies don’t pull your credit like a mortgage company or credit card company does. There is no negative impact on your credit as a result of an insurance company looking at it.

When I say “pull” what I mean is that the insurance company is doing what’s called a soft inquiry, which is not the same thing as having your credit pulled (hard inquiry).

When does credit play a role in insurance rates?
It’s important to understand that insurance companies don’t continuously check or monitor your credit. Usually, they only check it when you first get a quote and/or sign up with them in the very beginning.

This means that if your credit score increases (or decreases) your insurance company does not automatically know about it.

So, to my customers question of whether or not his increased credit score will lower his rates, the answer is not automatically.

What has to be done on our side as the agent is contact the carrier the insurance and ask them to do what’s commonly referred to as a “re-score”. This is when the insurance company can re-run the person’s credit (soft inquiry) to see if there is any positive bearing on the rate.

This isn’t something that the insurance company is going to let the agency do every single year, so it’s not worth even asking unless there has been a significant change in your credit score, and only you as the customer would know if that was the case.

If you’d like to get a better handle on your credit rating, it could be helpful to setup credit monitoring. We hope this was helpful! As always, leave us comment below if you have any questions.

Why do my auto insurance rates keep going up even though my car is getting older?  At The SIG Insurance Agencies, many of our clients ask this question so I would like to address it from a couple of angles.

First things first, even though it’s called car/auto insurance, it covers more than just your car. It should technically be called “auto-owners” insurance, similarly to how home insurance is actually called “home owners insurance”.

It’s important to understand that there are a lot of variables that go into insurance premiums, and with auto insurance, it’s no different.

The insurance company is much more concerned with you crashing into someone and causing them (or yourself) bodily harm, or death, than they are about your car. A car is a material possession which can be replaced.

A human life is not.

When is the last time you looked at your auto insurance policy?
If you look at it you’ll notice there are a lot of different coverages on your auto policy.

Bodily injury
Property damage
Un-insured motorist
Under-insured motorist
Medical Payments
Loss of Income
Funeral Expense
Loss of use
Rental Reimbursement

These are all things that you are covered for on your auto policy. How many of them have to do with your car?


How many of them have a price next to them on your policy?

All of them.

Your car isn’t the only thing you’re being charged for on your policy
That’s because auto insurance covers far more important things than your car as mentioned above.

Let me re-phrase that: your car insurance rate isn’t just based on your car.

You’re not the only one…
It’s also important to understand that you are not the only person your insurance company insures. You are one fish in an ocean of other fish, sharks, and sea creatures, all who have different characteristics and risk profiles.

Insurance is all about spreading costs over a large number (risk pool) of people, which each person paying their fare share. That risk pool is constantly changing, and is impacted by a ton of different things, including the overall economic climate.

This means that you are sharing in the cost of millions of other people, many of whom may have poor loss history and/or credit.

That’s what insurance is though — sharing in the cost.

The next time your auto insurance rates go up, take a look at the big picture. Make sure you’re looking at ALL of the coverages, and corresponding rates.

Hope this helps!  If you would like to know more about Car Insurance be sure to visit our page dedicated to it.