Why Owning a Pool Affects Home Insurance

In lieu of expensive vacations these days, many Americus, GA residents opt to keep things closer to home and add a pool to their backyards. However, this could have a pretty significant impact on your homeowner’s insurance. Here’s what you need to know about how owning a pool affects your home insurance coverage.

Increased Liability Risk

In most cases, a home swimming pool is referred to in the industry as a pleasant nuisance. What that means is that it is highly attractive to trouble, such as small children who might be unattended or neighborhood animals. In turn, that raises the chances of a serious incident from happening.

A simple $100,000 of liability coverage on your home might not be enough if you own a pool. Accidents can happen at any time, so it is always a good idea to talk to your Client First Insurance Solutions insurance agent and determine how much more coverage you need on your policy to help protect your financial wellbeing.

Possible Damage to Equipment

Pools are expensive to maintain, and pumps, hoses, and other items certainly aren’t cheap. To ensure your homeowner’s policy covers these items after a catastrophic event, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve discussed the process with your insurance agent.

Further, some carriers consider pools (especially in-ground ones) as a separate structure of your home. If you never mention your new addition to your home to your agent, there’s a good chance it would not be covered in the event of a serious claim.

Beware of Local Municipality Guidelines

Where you live often matters when it comes to swimming pools and homeowner’s insurance. If you’re required to have a fence for your in-ground or above ground pool, you’ll likely be required to have one to meet underwriting guidelines, too.

Ready to discuss your Americus, GA homeowner’s insurance policy? Please contact our Client First Insurance Solutions team today to schedule an appointment.

Umbrella Insurance Gives You Additional Protection

When you already have insurance policies, but you want an extra layer to help protect your assets and property, you may want to consider umbrella insurance. That adds more protection to the things you value and can make it easier for you to enjoy life instead of worrying about whether you’re protected. If you’re in the Americus, GA area, Client First Insurance Solutions can help you find a policy that works for you and meets the needs you have. Whether you already have a policy that needs updating or you’re looking for a brand new policy to add more protection to your life, we’re here to help you get the right coverage for your lifestyle.

You can think of an umbrella policy in the same way you think of an actual umbrella. You may have a coat and hat to keep the rain off of you, but the umbrella adds another layer of coverage to help you stay dry. The same kind of principle applies to policies that offer umbrella coverage. You already have protection for things like your home, auto, and business, but there are coverage limits on those policies. When you add umbrella coverage, it extends beyond those limits to help ensure the fullest level of protection against any claims that might be made. Then you can truly have peace of mind from the insurance you have.

For those who live and work in or near Americus, GA, getting adequate coverage means coming to see us at Client First Insurance Solutions. We can find the umbrella insurance policy you need and help you cover all the things that matter most to you. Don’t settle for a lower level of protection that might not be enough. When you have options, you can feel good about your insurance. We know adequate insurance is vital to you, and we’re here to help.

What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

Floods are considered natural disasters. When these natural disasters occur, they often wipe out land and property and sometimes cause death as well. However, flooding is usually not covered under most homeowners and condo insurance policies. It is usually something that must be purchased separately. 

What Is Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance is specific property insurance designed to cover property that has been damaged or affected by flooding. It also covers your belongings inside a dwelling that has sustained water damage. This insurance is designed to protect both residential homes and property, as well as commercial homes and property. Not all home and business owners are required to carry this type of insurance. Typically, owners with federally regulated lenders/mortgages on properties located in high-risk flood zones are required to carry this type of insurance. However, many home and business owners elect to carry this insurance anyway. FEMA regulates the National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP. Client First Insurance Solutions of Americus, GA is dedicated to helping both home and business owners understand flood insurance and its benefits.

What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

Like homeowners insurance, flood insurance is designed to protect the structure of your home in addition to your personal belongings. However, this type of insurance is specifically designed to protect your belongings when they have sustained water damage from flooding. A flood is defined as a large amount of water on property or land that would otherwise be dry under normal circumstances. A flood is considered a disaster if two or more properties or acres have sustained damage as a result of the excess water. Flood insurance is designed to repair and or compensate you for your damaged home, business, and belongings. However, there are scenarios in which water damage may occur that aren’t covered by flood insurance. Flooding can cause land movement and other situations that aren’t covered by flood insurance. Also, moisture, mildew, and mold aren’t conditions covered under flood insurance. These conditions aren’t necessarily directly attributable to flooding.

We look forward to answering any questions you may have about flood insurance. Please give us a call. We’re here to help.

Are Group Plans Just as Good as Individual Healthcare Plans?

Health insurance is a necessity many of us can’t do without. Group healthcare plans that are offered by employers and organizations do have their advantages, but they are not available to everyone. If you don’t have this option and have to purchase an individual policy, you can discuss your choices with the agents of Client First Insurance Solutions. The agency serves individuals and families who live in or near the Americus, GA area.

Similarities and Differences

A group healthcare plan often has lower premiums because a large number of people pay into the policy. The more people who are included, the more cost-effective the premiums will be. Group healthcare plans are written in much the same way as an individual healthcare plan. Both include options for different deductible ranges and co-pays. No matter what type of insurance you have, group and individual healthcare plans have many more similarities than differences.

Effective and Reliable Healthcare Coverage

Both group and individual healthcare plans offer effective and reliable coverage. In most cases, updates to coverage plans have been made that now include treatment for pre-existing conditions. Every insurance company offers different benefits with its policies, and some are more complete than others. This is why you need to talk to your agent so that he or she can help you make the best possible policy for your needs.

In Americus, GA, the agents at Client First Insurance Solutions are available to help you go over all of your insurance options. Once they know your needs, they can provide you with several different policies to choose from. Schedule a consultation with one of the agents today to get the best health insurance coverage for you and your family.

How Life Insurance Works

 Life insurance is something that often seems more complicated than it is. This simple guide from your friends here at Client First Insurance Solutions in Americus, GA should help clear the confusion.

Applying For Life Insurance

An application for life insurance will always include answering questions about your health, your family’s health, your lifestyle, and your personal information. There will also be an interview and typically a medical exam. All of this is necessary for approval and to determine what options and rates are available to you.

You will also need to make decisions about which type of life insurance coverage you want as well as specifying your beneficiaries, those who receive insurance funds upon your death. Have a minimum of a primary and a secondary beneficiary in mind in case the primary cannot be contacted or even passes before you.

Types of Insurance

There are two basic types of life insurance- term life and whole life- and the one you should choose will depend on your goal. Term life only covers the insured for a specific amount of time. If you simply want to be sure your spouse can pay off the mortgage or get the kids off to college in the case of your premature death, you should consider a term life policy.

The length of time you choose should be enough to cover the period you are concerned with. For instance, if you have ten years left on your mortgage, you might consider a 10-year term policy.

Whole life is designed to cover the insured for their entire life as long as the policy is being or has been paid. If you want to be sure your loved ones are cared for, no matter when you pass, a whole life policy might be the better answer.

What Happens Upon Death?

Upon death, the beneficiary or beneficiaries can file a claim to receive the death benefits. Your insurance agent will approve or reject the claim according to whether the deceased’s policy covers the cause of death, or the agent will request more information. If the claim is approved, the insurance agent will arrange the payout of the death benefits.

No one wants to face their passing, but it is vital to do so to take care of loved ones. If you have any questions or would like a no-obligation quote, give Client First Insurance Solutions of Americus, GA a call today! 

How much auto insurance do I need in Georgia?

If you own a car in Americus, GA, the chances are that you know the ins and outs of auto insurance. However, besides the legal requirement limits, have you ever thought about how much coverage is adequate for you? It’s a tricky question, but not for insurance experts at Client First Insurance Solutions. 

How much is enough? 

While there is no straightforward answer to this question, the best way to find out is by conducting a little research ahead of your coverage. Make sure you are up to date with the latest local rules, parameters, and regulations of the industry. If you choose to seek advice from a single agent, you are likely to buy more coverage than you need and probably at a higher rate. 

Why do you need insurance

The best way to determine how much insurance is adequate for you is by identifying significant factors that affect your premiums. Car insurance is designed to protect you, your loved ones who will share the car with you, and other road users. You need to think about factors that may lead to your insurance premiums going up and deductibles available at your disposal. 

What to consider

While insurance companies use different criteria to determine how much insurance you should pay, knowing what they will check will help you stay ahead of them. You will also be in a better position to calculate your rates and match them with your insurance company. Some of the factors that can affect your auto insurance include:

  • Type of car
  • Engine size
  • Year of the car
  • Your age
  • Health conditions
  • Area of residence 
  • Use of the car
  • The number of people that use the vehicle 
  • If you have teenage children who can drive. 

Knowing how much insurance is enough for you can help you save a significant amount of money. Client First Insurance Solutions can help you get value for your money. Feel free to speak or visit us in Americus, GA.

What Is Business Interruption Insurance?

If you’re a small business owner in the Americus, GA area, it is critical to understand Business Interruption Insurance coverage. Understanding how the coverage works will help you make an informed decision to determine if it is the right coverage for your business. An agent at Client First Insurance Solutions would be happy to discuss any questions you have on business interruption coverage for your business. 

What does business interruption cover?

Business Interruption coverage protects against loss of income in the event your business is forced to stop operating as a result of a covered event. Covered events can include fires, theft, lighting, or falling objects such as a tree. 

Business Interruption (BI) coverage will cover your business from loss of income while you cannot operate. Your loss income will be based on your pre-loss income minus any expenses. 

BI coverage will also help pay for any additional expenses you incurred as a result of the loss. For example, you may need to relocate your business temporarily after a fire. In that case, BI coverage can assist with the additional expenses to relocate. 

What are other considerations a business owner should one be aware of? 

An essential factor to know when buying a policy is that there is usually a waiting period of a few days after your business is closed before coverage will kick in. It is essential to know what your waiting period is and have enough cash on hand for expenses during those first few days. 

It is also essential to know what your indemnity period is under the policy. An indemnity period is the length of time your policy will cover loss of income. Most policies are up to 12 months; however, there are options for longer or shorter policies depending on the nature of your business.  

If you are interested in learning more about how business interruption coverage can protect your business, reach out to an agent at Client First Insurance Solutions today. We proudly serve the Americus, GA area. 

Top Questions to ask when looking for a home insurance policy

As a homeowner in the Americus, GA area, you know how important it is to protect your home with a homeowners’ insurance policy. We at Client First Insurance Solutions are here to help guide you on the crucial questions you should ask before purchasing a home insurance policy. 

How is my house valued if it needs to be replaced?

The policy can provide coverage for actual value or replacement cost. The actual cost is the price of the home minus any depreciation. Replacement cost will pay to replace the house regardless of the current market value. 

What is my insurance company AM Best Rating?

It is vital to pick an insurance carrier with a strong AM Best rating. A strong rating indicates the insurer is financially stable, and there is a better likelihood that the company will be around to pay the claim out in the event of a loss. 

Is my jewelry covered?

A homeowners’ policy typically has a limited amount of coverage for jewelry. If you have a collection that is worth a large sum of money, you will want to take out additional coverage for the jewelry. 

Do I need to buy a separate flood policy? 

Many people make the incorrect assumption that floods are a covered peril under a homeowner’s policy. Most carriers do not automatically provide flood coverage, so it is essential to find out if you need a separate policy. 

What is the process of filing a claim?

In the event you have to file a claim under your policy, it is critical to know the process ahead of time. If you are a person who likes to manage matters online, you will want to make sure the company has an online claims process. Alternatively, if you wish to speak to a person, you may want to make sure the company has a 24-hour phone number to call.

If you have additional questions about homeowners’ insurance, reach out to Client First Insurance Solutions today. We proudly serve the Americus, GA area. 

Some ACA premiums fall, others spike; enrollment keeps surging

By Ariel Hart – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tyrone Jenkins sat in his insurance agent’s office on Friday, relieved about his health insurance. After all the upheaval and news over skyrocketing Obamacare premiums, Jenkins will actually see his coverage costs plummet next year. He’ll pay less than half in 2018 what he did in 2017 for similar coverage. How can this be?

Jenkins doesn’t like the answer. Thanks to decisions made in Washington in recent months, it’s possible because a new and costly inequality has opened up between some policyholders. The cancellation of one subsidy brought in another that benefits people in Jenkins’ position — while leaving other policyholders to take a bigger hit, some to the point they can no longer afford coverage.

And Jenkins the taxpayer will be subsidizing this situation even more, along with other Americans. “In some stuff it’s kind of frustration,” Jenkins, a forklift driver who lives in Lee County, said of Washington’s management of health care. Jenkins said he “really” likes his plan, but he really doesn’t like that other people’s premiums are skyrocketing at the same time. And if it adds to government debt, he thinks policymakers should consider the burden on future taxpayers: “It’s the younger generation that’s coming up.”

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is now three weeks underway. Enrollment is continuing at a ferocious clip, and situations such as Jenkins’ may be one reason why. It partly gets back to a controversial decision by President Donald Trump. For months Trump threatened to cancel “cost-sharing reduction” subsidies, and just before enrollment opened he did.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted that canceling those subsidies — which went to insurers so they in turn could lower costs for lower-income customers — would on average add 20 percent to premiums; that many people would drop coverage; and that companies would pull out of some markets. That did happen and has gotten much publicity.

TIPS FOR ENROLLING: AJC FAQ on Obamacare Open Enrollment

But the CBO did not predict that everyone would suffer. The CBO also predicted that other people would get such great deals that they’d opt for new coverage. People who couldn’t afford the best plans before now could afford them. That appears to be happening, too.

For basic health coverage in 2017, Jenkins’ plan cost him $102 a month (after cost-sharing reductions made it affordable). In 2018, those subsidies are gone. Now, different subsidies come into play, and because of how the law works, after Trump’s executive order, they’re bigger. So this year, that same type of coverage will cost Jenkins just $38. It’s such a dramatic discount that he’s opting to add dental and vision, for a total of $99.

None of that would be a surprise to the CBO’s analysts. They predicted that overall, the decision to cancel the cost-sharing reduction subsidies — allowing the other, bigger subsidies to kick in —would add $194 billion to the deficit over 10 years.

Dan McBrayer, an agent several counties away from Jenkins, doesn’t think much of these developments. “The people that’s getting a tax credit are getting a bigger tax credit,” he said. “The people that aren’t are getting a bigger bill.” McBrayer concluded, “Quite frankly, this thing is such a train wreck.” McBrayer has a lot of clients who fall above the subsidy threshold of making about $48,000 for a single person’s household, and they are getting clobbered with the full force of massive premium hikes. Many of them feel they have to drop insurance, he said.

On the other end of the spectrum, Kirk Lyman-Barner, Jenkins’ agent, has a lot of clients who make less money and qualify for strong subsidies. Even as the insurance companies raised rates this year, the subsidies came in even stronger to make the consumer’s cost low. Some are even getting premiums of zero this year, mostly older people. “Every single one of them is better off except for the folks that don’t get the benefit,” Lyman Barner said. “For those folks it really breaks my heart. Because it was unnecessary.” Jenkins’ cheaper plan is not a fluke.

An analysis calculated for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by researchers for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation showed the phenomenon holds. According to those figures, a 40-year-old ACA policyholder in Atlanta making $24,000 a year would see a dramatic price drop for the lowest-cost “gold” plan. In 2017, that policyholder would be paying about $235 per month. But in 2018, that plan would cost that person just $175.

The plan wouldn’t cost less to provide. The insurance company on average hiked the overall price from $380 a month to $465. But the policyholder wouldn’t see that increase because taxpayers would take the hit. The formulas are all spelled out in the law.

There is wide agreement that the subsidy set-up is a problem, and some centrist U.S. senators briefly attempted to fix it. That fell apart in the GOP’s renewed attempt to repeal the law at the last minute in September.

Trump has said his decision on the subsidies would force Congress’ hand. In the meantime, critics of the law say blame it, not the president, for  trying to undo what pieces he can.

Bill Custer, a health care finance researcher at Georgia State University, wouldn’t say the decision to cancel the cost-sharing reduction subsidies was good or bad. But he did note the results were predicted. “By canceling these CSRs, the Trump administration has increased taxpayer costs for this coverage, increased the deficit and decreased coverage in general,” he said.

It’s impossible to know whether enrollment this year will surpass last year’s. New figures released by the Trump administration for the second week of enrollment show that in the first 11 days, nearly 1.5 million people signed up for plans, compared with just 1 million people in the first 12 days last year. But the enrollment period will be half as long. This year it ends Dec. 15.

Jenkins is one of those as he buys his plan. He wishes other people could do that too, though, because health is unpredictable and he thinks the need for health insurance is something that ties everyone.

“I’d prefer everybody to be equal,” he said.

Ga. customers scramble after Trump order

Premiums likely to soar without subsidies; divided Congress stalls.

By Tamar Hallerman  tamar.hallerman@ajc.com and Ariel Hart ahart@ajc.com

WASHINGTON — Kirk Lyman-Barner’s phone began buzzing at 7:30 a.m. Friday and didn’t stop for hours.

An Americus insurance broker who specializes in Obamacare policies, Lyman-Barner is used to being a familiar face around town. But even his morning coffee run at Cafe Campesino was interrupted repeatedly by clients, all of whom were worried about how much their monthly health care premiums would increase due to the latest headlines coming out of Washington.

“When you live in a small town, you know people’s stories. You know their illnesses and backgrounds and such, and it’s just tragic to think that they may not have access to care,” he said. “It is very confusing. People are scared.”

Lyman-Barner is one of countless insurers, regulators and customers in Georgia scrambling for answers after the White House announced it would halt the so-called cost-share reduction payments.

About 380,000 Georgians benefit from the subsidies, which are designed to make Obamacare insurance affordable.

Insurance Commissioner candidate Cindy Zeldin discussing health insurance with Tripp Pomeroy at a recent visit to Cafe Campesino.

The news wasn’t exactly a surprise. President Donald Trump for months mused publicly about cutting off the subsidies, which he described as an insurance company “bailout” that was propping up a “failing” health care law.

So the four insurance companies operating on Georgia’s Obamacare exchanges hedged.

All four — Alliant, Ambetter, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente — filed two sets of proposed 2018 rate increases last month with the state Department of Insurance. One set assumed the Trump administration would renew the subsidies and, hence, proposed lower increases.

The other accounted for more Washington uncertainty, baking the policy ambiguity in the price. Each of the four companies proposed raising monthly premiums more than 50 percent above this year’s levels under that scenario. And in the end, when the companies had to choose between the two for their final number, most chose that higher one.

For them to choose a different rate now would require an amendment from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to the state.

Kaiser Permanente was the only one of the four companies to name the lower number as its final increase, however, going with 2018 rates that would be 30.6 percent higher. Although Kaiser did prepare the second business plan accounting for subsidy threats with a higher increase, it was not clear Friday that the higher one would go into effect. The increase in that case was to be 56.7 percent.

Jim Driscoll, a spokesman for Kaiser, which covers metro Atlanta, said the company intended to stay in the exchange market but was evaluating the situation.

In any case, there is no dispute among insurers that the events in Washington have pushed customers’ costs higher.

“These are trying times to be in the fortuneteller business, but to the best of our abilities our plans have accounted for this,” said Graham Thompson, a lobbyist for Georgia insurers. “To offer that robust coverage, people are going to see higher rates for 2018 as they’re shopping on the exchange.”

‘Piece by piece’

Trump was able to unilaterally cut off the subsidy payments because of a lawsuit congressional Republicans filed against then-President Barack Obama in 2014. A federal court had ruled in favor of the GOP’s argument that Congress had not given the executive branch permission to pay the subsidies, and Obama had pursued a legal challenge to the initial ruling. Trump ended the payments by dropping his predecessor’s appeal.

“The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people.”

After Republicans in Congress failed to agree on a strategy for repealing and replacing Obamacare,Trump said he wanted to let the health care law collapse under its own weight. Earlier on Thursday, he indicated he would help dismantle it by signing an executive order to bolster through incentives the use of short-term health plans, which are cheaper and subject to fewer Obamacare rules, and so-called associated health plans that can be sold across state lines. Hours later came the subsidy decision.

“ObamaCare is a broken mess,” Trump tweeted on Friday morning. “Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!”

Lyman-Barner said consumers won’t know exactly how much rates on the Obamacare exchanges will increase until open enrollment for 2018 begins on Nov. 1.

Trump’s decision does not outright kill the help for lower-income customers, since the 2010 health care law requires insurance companies to provide affordable coverage to people with low incomes. What his Thursday move did was end the money the federal government paid to reimburse those insurers.

In other words, insurers will still need to subsidize things such as deductibles and co-pays for low-income people. They just won’t get paid back by the feds.

In return, insurance companies are expected to raise premiums on their other customers on the exchanges in order to recapture their financial losses.

In addition, federal tax credits tied to lower-income customers’ premiums will rise as the premiums rise, so that will also help those customers. Unfortunately, it will also increase the federal deficit. So the change is estimated to leave U.S. taxpayers with a $194 billion increase in the deficit over the first 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

And those who have individual plans but have incomes too high to qualify for help will see the wallop to their bank accounts.

Patient advocates in Georgia are deeply concerned for middle-income customers — single people making more than $48,000 or a family of four earning more than $99,000. They would have to pay in full.
“The result of this effort will be to create mistrust with the carriers, force many folks who don’t get subsidies to drop (Affordable Care Act) qualified plans and let Congress answer to its constituents who are priced out of health insurance,” Lyman-Barner wrote.

Further, more premium increases could be in line for 2019 as Georgia insurers prepare for the next round of insurance adjustments.

Division in Congress

At least 18 states’ attorneys general announced they would sue to keep the subsidies going.

In the meantime, more pressure now shifts to Congress to act on health care. Republicans are still internally divided over what should replace the 2010 health law, and Democrats refuse to make any major changes to Obamacare. Bipartisan negotiations to stabilize Obamacare’s markets have been left on the back burner.

It’s possible those talks, which aimed to trade continued insurance subsidies for more state flexibility on insurance requirements, could be revived, but it’s unclear whether Trump would sign such a compromise to keep Obamacare afloat.

The two parties on Friday appeared as divided as ever.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta called Trump’s move to end the subsidies “mean-spirited.”

He said the two parties should come together to work out a solution, but he also said conditions might not improve until Democrats retake control of Congress.

“People are going to suffer, are going to feel the pain of what is happening,” he said in an interview. “We’re going to assure them that if we take back the majority, we will fix it.”

Democrats are not the only ones to try to address the subsidy problem. Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee convened bipartisan hearings on the issue in September. But too many of his fellow Republicans ditched his effort to focus one last time on trying to repeal Obamacare.

Trump was optimistic, however, when he addressed his action on the subsidies in an early-morning tweet Friday. He suggested it would lure Democrats to his side and build the necessary votes from them and enough Republicans to form a majority for a solution.

“The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding,” the president tweeted. “Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!”