All posts by JR

Health Care Reform and Your Small Business

Do you own or work for a small business?

Then you probably know that there have been significant changes as a result of the new Health Care Reform.

Depending on the size of the business, the requirements and benefits change.

Small businesses with less than 25 full-time employees have the advantage of receiving tax credits to help pay for employee premiums. Additionally, they will be able to offer their employees a small business insurancerange of plans from different insurers like larger companies do, while still receiving a single bill and writing a single check.

Businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees are exempt from penalties and might also qualify for employer health care tax credits. However, they are encouraged to closely monitor their workforce so they don’t breach the threshold of 50 full-time employees and acquire steep penalties.

Larger companies, businesses with more than 50 full-time employees, will see the brunt of the changes the Affordable Care Act has brought. As of Jan. 2016, all companies with 50 or more full-time employees will be required to make some potentially costly adjustments.

Many large companies are struggling to comply with the regulations because they don’t have the personnel or budget to fulfill requirements. They are cutting employee hours, reducing hiring, or passing costs onto consumers or shareholders to meet the new regulations.

health care reform small businessThe first mandate is that they must track worker’s hours and absences. They will also be required to report to the IRS on the employee health care offered or not offered and how much they spend on health insurance. With this increased amount of record keeping and reporting, small businesses might have to hire more employees or spend more on human resource providers.

Secondly, companies with 50 or more full-time employees and will be required to offer employee health care coverage to their employees, or pay a penalty.

Lastly, these larger companies, as well as higher income employees, might be affected by some new taxes.

While we can speculate how the Affordable Care Act will affect small and large businesses alike, the only way to be sure of these changes and their affects is to let it play out.

Because the new Health Care Reform can be complicated, if you own a small business it would be worth your time to seek the advice of an insurance agent in order to make sure you are in compliance.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding the new Health Care Laws or your small business!

Save Money on your Car Insurance with these 4 Questions

Are you missing out on discounts or benefits on your auto insurance policy?

These days, most people are taking advantage of the ease of onlineCar insurance on laptop purchasing and have purchased their insurance policies online. Although it’s easy, quick, and convenient, there are downsides to purchasing through a computer program instead of a real person.

When you are searching for auto, health, or any other type of insurance, schedule a meeting or phone call with an agent so you can understand all the discounts, options, and benefits available.

To make the most of your time with the agent, here are 4 important questions to ask:

1. Is the auto coverage amount right for me?

A good insurance agent will consider many variables when it comes to your coverage amount. For example, if you have a new job, home, significant savings, etc. your agent might want to lower your deductible or increase liability. It just depends on your specific situation to determine what cover is best for you.

2. Can I drop any coverages on my auto insurance?

Again, depending on your particular situation, an agent might suggest you drop coverages that are not financially beneficial. Agood example is if your car is 5-6 years or older you may be paying too much on comprehensive and collision coverage.

About Best Auto Insurance Agents3. Am I getting all available discounts on my auto insurance?

Did you know that you can get insurance discounts if you’ve had significant life events or upgrades to your vehicle? There are many discounts to take advantage of, but insurance companies typically do not promote these online. Working with an insurance agent is a huge advantage when it comes to discovering hidden discounts.

4. What are my payment options?

There are definitely savings available by exploring your payment options. Usually, if you can pay in full or even a few larger payments throughout the year you might be able to save in the long run.

If you are looking to save money on your car insurance, talking with an insurance agent is definitely advantageous.

It’s true that you can purchase auto insurance online from the comfort of your own home, but even checking in with an agent once a year can end up providing better coverage at a lower rate.

insurance san antonio, tx jr carnahanNot sure where to start or who to trust? JR Carnahan has been an insurance broker in San Antonio since 2003. Because he has his own family, home, and business, he knows how important it is for his clients to find cost-effective and extensive insurance coverage. Let us serve you by finding the best insurance for your situation!

6 Business and Commercial Insurance Types to Consider for Your Business

Business owners have a lot of responsibilities on their plate.

Handling day-to-day operations of a business alone can be consuming, not to mention the preparation required for the day-to-day to function properly. Ensuring your business is properly covered by the right insurance plan can be another daunting responsibility, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are 6 types of insurance to consider when buying a business or commercial insurance policy.

business and commercial insurance

Business Owner’s Policy

A Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) is a popular choice for small businesses. BOP’s are package policies that often include all major property and liability risks. Typically a business owner can alter what is covered in a BOP to meet their company’s specific needs. This type of bundle can sometimes save the business owner money, but it’s always best to consider all options before choosing a one-size-fits-all plan.

Property Insurance

Property Insurance protects your businesses’ physical property in the case of a fire, flood, vandalism, theft, etc. These policies usually cover the building, inventory, equipment, furnishings, and any other property that belongs to the business. Another type of property insurance to consider is Business Interruption Coverage, which comes into play should the business become inoperable for some unforeseen reason.

Liability Insurance

There are 3 different types of liability coverage that business owners should consider. General Liability Insurance is coverage that protects from a variety of claims including bodily injury, property damage, personal injury and others that can arise from business operations. Product Liability Insurance guards against claims related to the manufacture or sale of a product. And lastly, Professional Liability Insurance, otherwise known as Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O) covers a business in the event a client is harmed by a service or advice provided.

Workers Compensation

If an employee is injured on the job, Workers Compensation
Insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits, as well as protection from lawsuits. Workers Compensation is required in all states if the business has W2 employees.

Commercial Auto Insurance

When your business involves transportation, whether with company owned vehicles or employee vehicles, Commercial Auto Insurance will provide coverage in the case of a collision, theft, or other damage to the vehicle. This does not include injury protection for those involved, but that is included in workers compensation coverage.

Data Breach Insurance

Another way to protect a business from unfortunate loss is with Data Breach Insurance. If a business stores sensitive or confidential information about their employees or clients, Data Breach Insurance will provide protection should the information somehow be stolen or released.

Bundle Packages

Keep in mind that many insurance companies offer bundle packages to simplify the purchasing process. However, it’s important to small business insurancecarefully consider your small business’ specific risks and purchase coverage accordingly. Every company is different and requires different types and amounts of coverage.

JR Carnahan offers all types of Business and Commercial Insurance. If you are a business owner and have questions regarding purchasing a new business insurance policy or updating a current one, contact us today! We would love to assist you in finding the best insurance solution for your business!

Texas Adopts NCCI Workers Compensation Manuals and Plans

You might have heard that Texas has recently adopted National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) workers compensation manuals and plans. So far, Texas has only approved the Basic and Forms Manual, Statistical Reporting Plan, and Experience Rating Plan, but are on their way to fully becoming an NCCI state.

Texas has been working to become an NCCI state since 2012. But because workers compensation has been regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), based in Austin, TX, since 1876, transferring to NCCI brings with it a lot of changes.

With change come questions, so here are a few answers.

 

First, what is the NCCIworkers compensation NCCI Texas?

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, based in Boca Raton, FL., is the largest provider of workers compensation data and statistics. They gather data, analyze industry trends, and provide support and recommendations to over 900 insurance companies in nearly 40 state governments.

Users of NCCI services include insurance companies, independent bureaus, self-insured organizations, regulatory authorities, legislatures, risk managers, employers, insurance agents, and more.

 

Why does Texas want to become an NCCI state?

If Texas becomes an NCCI state, the amount of data provided to the NCCI would dramatically increase. Once they have more data, they will be able to provide more accurate information to other NCCI states. This will profit both the NCCI and the states they serve.

In addition, Texas insurance carriers would benefit from the technical expertise, infrastructure, and support the NCCI provides. This would also free up the TDI to pursue more extensive workers compensation issues.

Insurance carriers and policyholders would both benefit from having access to more uniform statistical data, as well as functioning with more consistent rules, which are dictated by the NCCI across states.

 

How do the NCCI adoptions affect insurance carriers and policyholders?

The first affect is that certain workers compensation system functions transfer from the TDI to NCCI, therefore improving efficiency. This streamlines the experience for both carriers and policyholders, as well as decreases the amount of involvement from the government and TDI.

Secondly, carriers are now required to report additional data on each policy they issue to the NCCI, while the TDI required only minimal reporting. They also have to report the data in different ways.

Carriers and individual agents are now charged additional fees in order to have access to the NCCI manual, endorsements, forms, and other services they provide. However, the NCCI has agreed to apply discounts to Texas services as they make the transition.

 

When will Texas become an NCCI state?

That is the question on everyone’s mind. As of now, they have approved the NCCI Basic and Forms Manual, Statistical Plan, and Experience Rating Plan, but they are pushing forward to become an NCCI state. The good news is that the NCCI is developing transition plans along the way so insurance carriers and policyholders have the necessary time to adjust to the new requirements.

 

Got Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the changes to workers compensation as a result of  Texas becoming an NCCI state, JR Carnahan is prepared to guide you in the right direction. Connect with us here or by calling 210-587-6968.

4 Tips for Increasing Your Tax Refund

It’s tax season again and we all know what that means: STRESS! Digging through receipts, organizing bills, and trying to decide which expenses can be deducted or not can be very time consuming and confusing. We all want as much as we can get back from the government when it comes to our taxes.

So how do you get the most out of your tax return? That is the question on everyone’s mind!

Check out these 4 tips for increasing your tax refund:

1. Get a tax professional

It’s easy to rely on free online services such as TurboTax or HR Block to file your own taxes. But because tax laws change so frequently, it’s really smart to pay a tax professional to help you discover which deductions, filing status, and credits will work in your favor. Sometimes spending $100-$500 to hire a tax professional can increase your refund by $1,000+, which is well worth the investment.

2. Educate yourself on deductible expenses

A great way to increase your tax refund is to spend more dollars on items that are deductible. The eligible deductions can include, but are not limited to, donations to charitable organizations, school tuition, certain business expenses, mortgage interest and property taxes, healthcare costs, and home improvement projects. These little things can add up!

Is There a Tax Credit for Health Insurance?

Yes! You can qualify for the Affordable Care Act tax credit if your income is low enough. Research “Obamacare tax credit”, or just contact us for your situation. Even if you don’t qualify for the lower premium with the ACA, we can find you a less expensive health insurance rate.

3. Consider your filing status

Most people don’t think twice about the options they have when choosing a filing status. It seems logical to file as married-filing-jointly if married and individual if single. However, it’s important to research all the options for filing statuses and try them on for size if your tax professional or tax prep software allow you to do. Changing your filing status can sometimes provide great rewards!

4. Contribute extra towards your IRA

While most financial decisions made at this point are too late to affect your tax return, contributing to IRAs are one exception. If you contribute any extra money (within your allowable limit for max contributions for the year) to your traditional IRA or Roth IRA by April 15, 2015, the deposits can be applied to your 2014 refund.

Again, it’s a wise decision to consult a tax professional when looking to get the most out of your tax return since the tax regulations change all the time. But, if you are braving the tax refund world on your own, considering these 4 tips can definitely help you maximize your refund!

ObamaCare Open Enrollment? Top 5 Things You Need To Know

ObamaCare, otherwise known as the Health Care Reform or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has brought about many changes to major medical health insurance, including an open enrollment period. The open enrollment period is important to understand because individuals and families can now be penalized if they miss the deadline or if they chose not to carry coverage in 2015. These changes, if misunderstood, could incur great cost for families across America.

Open Enrollment for 2015 health coverage closes on February 15th and whether you are planning to enroll through the Marketplace, an agent or broker, or directly from an insurance company, there are 5 things you need to know.

1.  Special Enrollment Period after Feb 15

Whether you were previously enrolled in major medical health insurance or not, you must enroll in coverage by February 15. If you miss the February 15 deadline, you will not be able to purchase health coverage for 2015 unless you qualify for a “Special Enrollment Period”. A Special Enrollment Period is given only if you meet specific qualifications, such as a major life change, and you must apply for this exception.

2.  The 2% Penalty

Starting in 2014, there is now a penalty for those who miss the deadline or chose not to carry health insurance coverage. The penalty for not carrying coverage in 2015 is determined by the higher of these two options – 2% of your income or $325 per adult plus $162.50 per child ($975 maximum). This penalty will be collected when you file your 2015 federal income tax.

3.  You need to re-enroll this year

For those who were previously enrolled in a 2014 health insurance plan, coverage ended December 31, 2014. If you chose to continue coverage and avoid the penalty, you must renew by February 15. Once re-enrolled, your insurance coverage should begin as soon as March 1.

4.  You can choose a different plan

If you carried coverage in 2014 and want to enroll in a different plan for 2015, you can do so up until February 15 with no penalty. There are many plans available and taking the time to reconsider these options is a good idea. Work with your agent to discuss the best plans available for your unique situation.

5.  No penalty for small business insurance

There is no limited enrollment period for small business insurance. Whether you purchase coverage through SHOP Marketplace, an agent or broker, or directly from an insurance company, you are eligible to enroll anytime of the year without penalty.

How to Find Health Insurance

With open enrollment coming to a close on February 15, it’s important to move forward with enrolling in a medical health insurance plan for 2015 as soon as possible. Because it can be difficult to understand Obama Care’s changes and make the best health insurance decisions for you, your family, or small business, make sure to talk to an agent or professional to get enough information be enrolling.

If you have questions or concerns regarding insurance of any type, don’t hesitate to ask! We would love to serve you by providing guidance to help you choose an insurance plan that best meets your needs.

How To Get The Best Insurance Rates

It’s all who AND what you know…

Many people think by going straight to the insurance companies they can ‘cut out the middleman’. The parallel may be true with car sales where you pay a sticker price for a physical good that needs to be sold before it depreciates, but that’s not the way insurance works. You see, insurance companies control a pool of money and bet against occurrences such as car accidents and natural disasters that destroy or damage housing and business offices.

When there are more of these occurrences in its area than expected, the company receives more claims, draining the insurance pool. The company needs to apply for the approval to raise its rates higher or else it goes out of business. Unfortunately, that means higher rates for its customers.

So how do I get the best insurance rate?

 

tornadoRates will depend on how many claims a company is receiving. If your city is peaceful, but the east-side of your state is at risk of frequent tornadoes, it would be better to have a house insurance company that serves just your city. Same goes for floods, fires, termites, etc.

So the best bet is to shop around to see which insurance companies cover which areas, whether those areas are risky, and what kind of claim volume they have been experiencing. Sounds like a good deal of work, eh?

Brokerage agencies such as ours are in the unique position to get bulk quotes from local, state-wide, and national companies. We can see what the lowest quote is currently for home, auto, business insurance, etc. Additionally, since we have been tracking occurrences for areas and claims rates for different insurance companies, we can  forecast with a pretty good accuracy how rates will go up and down. It’s all about fast access to the right information. Simple enough, right? Quotes are free, so don’t neglect to get one now.