Monthly Archives: September 2013

Attract Employees: Group Health Insurance

Many small business owners know that in order for them to be successful they must offer an incentive to recruit employees to work for them. This can be any number of things, but most often it is the benefit of offering group health insurance. While this could be an excellent strategy for your small business to take in order to recruit new employees, there are a few things that you must know first before you dive into selecting a plan. Research group insurance policies thoroughly before choosing one for your company.

A group health insurance plan can be obtained by any small business that has as little as two employees to as many as fifty. There are two ways you can go about supplying the health insurance to your employees; this will mainly be decided by your own budget. Many small businesses that offer group health insurance help contribute towards the cost of the plan. On the other hand if an employee wants to have coverage for their families, the employer might offer to pay the employees’ premiums and have them pay the premium for their families.

Another aspect of the group health insurance plan will be deciding between managed care or fee-for-service. Managed care plans include Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), or Point of Service plan (POS).

An HMO will significantly reduce the cost that your members will have to pay for medical care as long as they use the providers specified by the HMO. A PPO will not require a referral in order for them to see a specialist. While the PPO is more flexible it will bring higher costs to the per-visit and annual deductibles. The POS plans are basically a combination of the features that you will find in an HMO and PPO. Members get to decide whether to pay a flat fee for offices in the network, or pay a deductible charge to see someone out of network. The fee-for-service plan gives the employee the power to select health care providers themselves. This means that they will have way more flexibility with where they can go for medical assistance.

Adding an appealing Group Health insurance plan to your business could potentially bring you more employees. This is just the basic information about Group Health insurance; there are many options to consider when choosing a plan. Be sure to investigate all options to create the best plan for your employees.

At Your Own Risk: 10 Countries Where Travel Insurance Won’t Be Able To Help You

The foreign and commonwealth office draws up an extensive list of countries that should not be travelled to quite regularly, and is from that, that our, and other global travel insurance providers’, underwriters decide which countries travel insurance should be provided for. We look at the government travel advice and decide from that whether or not we can provide insurance to travelers.

Although global travel insurance does, by its nature, cover the majority of the world, the current climate ensures that there are some places where the likelihood of incident means that UK travel insurance providers are unable to offer protection. Thankfully, the list is clear of the majority of popular holiday destinations, and you’re unlikely to have your big holiday plans affected. The most likely group to have their travel plans altered by the foreign office’s travel advice are business travelers.

The foreign office’s travel advice is not to travel to the following countries, even if it means losing business the risk from the warzones listed below is just too great to make the reward worth the danger:

Here’s our top 10 countries to avoid traveling to, and the reasons for the high risk factor! The risk is far from conclusive (the foreign office’s travel advice lists many more countries), but to me, these are the ones that all travelers should avoid like the plague:

10) Liberia

Economic hardship in Liberia is currently making outbreaks of violence common, and foreigners (especially westerners) are at risk targets due to their affluence. This extra likelihood of incident ensures that no UK travel insurance provider would risk offering you cover if you choose to visit Liberia

9) Nepal

Occasional acts of terrorism and political violence in urban areas make Nepal off-limits for those who want to get travel insurance. In September this year, three nearly simultaneous bombs went off in the capital of Kathmandu, killing 3 and injuring many innocent bystanders.

8) Haiti

Haiti is considered off limits to many travelers on account of the high risk of kidnappings and civil unrest that is prominent. At the time of writing, there have been 12 kidnappings of American travelers in 2007 mostly criminal in nature. In the past, these kidnappings have ended in physical and sexual assaults and shootings. The potential for spontaneous protests and demonstrations has also been known to result in unexpected violence, day or night. It’s no surprise that the government’s travel advice is not to travel here!

7) Yemen

Due to the high levels of terrorist activity in Yemen, westerners are advised to steer clear of Yemen. If this is not possible, then all travelers are encouraged to stay vigilant and to keep a low profile to avoid attacks or kidnapping. The situation is so grave that the US Embassy often restricts American citizens from certain hotels, restaurants and shopping areas.

6) Israel

The Gaza Strip and West Bank has seen immense violence in recent months between Israeli and Palestinian factions, and shootings, kidnappings and violence demonstrations have occurred in each. The region’s continued instability makes travel to Israel widely recommended against the risk of abduction or worse makes travel insurance impossible to obtain.

5) Democratic Republic of Congo

The democratic republic of Congo remains one of the most dangerous places to travel in Africa, where violence, neglect and corruption has left the country distinctly damaged. Fighting erupted in the streets of Kinshasa in March this year, and the situation remains volatile despite the immediate threat of violence calming down. Travel outside of Kinshasa is difficult and dangerous with security, especially in the north and easy, being unstable. Any traveler brave enough to travel to the Congo should be extremely cautious, avoid the North Kivu district which is the backdrop to armed conflict between government troops and army rebels, avoid crowds and keep a close eye on local media.

4) Burma (Myanmar)

While the human rights situation makes Myanmar an ethically uneasy place to visit, currently there is a lot of personal risk involved as well. Throughout September, the anti-government protests sparked a violent crackdown from the authorities and made international headlines. Although the dusk-til-dawn curfew imposed in some of the towns has been lifted, it still remains an uncertain time to visit the country and you’re unlikely to find any global travel insurance company who will insure you.

3) Colombia

Colombia remains one of the most dangerous places to travel in the world thanks to the crime the country suffers from. The illicit drug trade in urban areas such as Cali and Buenaventura means that there is often a high risk of violence, while the more rural areas expose visitors to the country at risk from narcoterrorist groups who will often kidnap civilians to use for ransom or to gain media attention. Naturally UK travel insurance companies are loathe to insure travelers who choose to ignore these warning and travel to Colombia anyway.

2) Afghanistan

With the war on terror in Afghanistan still fresh in the mind, it’s no surprise that the country remains a big no-go area. Western tourists are obvious kidnap and assassination targets, as many of the disbanded Taliban and Al-Qa’ida forces remain at large and hostile to the new regieme. Additionally, the country remains unsafe due to tribal groups, explosive devices, landmines, military operations and acts of terrorism. Unsurprisingly, the government’s travel advice is to avoid travelling here at all costs!

1) Iraq

Given the high profile nature of western kidnappings by various insurgent groups, and the regular acts of terrorism and hostility to Western troops, it is no surprise that no travel insurance companies will insure travelers to the troubled country. The instability is caused by various groups Ba’ath regime remnants, transnational terrorists and criminal elements have been known to attack convoys en-route to venues, hotels, restaurants, checkpoints and police stations.

While holidaymakers are unlikely to be affected by these less touristy locations, their riskiness means that business travellers will have to forgo their travel insurance if they are unable to cancel their trips.

Around Half Of The 20 Million Loan Insurance And Mortgage Insurance Policies In The UK Could Have Been Mis-sold

There are around 20 million loan insurance and mortgage insurance policies in the UK and it is thought that around half of these could have been mis-sold. The mis-selling scandal came to the public’s attention in 2005 when it both the Office of Fair Trading and the Financial Services Authority started investigations in to the sector. Fines were subsequently handed out to several well known high street lenders and providers of payment protection insurance (PPI).

The majority of those who received fines were high street lenders who were pushing the cover alongside a loan or credit card while giving out very little information regarding the exclusions. This meant the consumer was buying a product they did not understand.

However, it is important to realize that it is the poor selling techniques and lack of knowledge those selling loan payment protection insurance that have caused the problems with loan cover and not the actual policy itself. When bought correctly with the exclusions in mind loan protection can work the way it is designed to do and can give a financial lifeline to those with a lost income.

The Financial Services Authority set out guidelines and recommendations for providers to follow which it was hoped would put an end to the mis-selling. While some have followed these guidelines, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced that they have investigated over 4,000 cases of mis-selling in 2007 which was double the amount of the year previous. This clearly means that much more has to be done if faith in the products is to be restored.

Providing a policy is suitable for your circumstances then the cover would begin to payout once you had been out of work for a pre-determined amount of time which is usually between 31 and 90 days. Once the policy has begun to payout then it would continue to do so for between 12 and 24 months again depending on the provider. Loan insurance can be a very valuable lifeline to have because getting behind on the repayments means at the very least earning yourself a bad credit rating which can take years to remedy.

You do need to look out for the exclusions within the cover. Some of the most common exclusions include working part time employment, suffering an illness which is ongoing or if you are of retirement age. There can be others depending on the provider so it is essential that you do read the key facts of the policy before you buy it.

One of the changes in the pipeline when it comes to the way that all payment protection insurance policies are sold is the introduction of comparison tables by the FSA. The tables will highlight the exclusions in a policy and will also tell the consumer how much the cover would cost. To help the consumer choose between which type of payment protection insurance would be most suitable for their needs there will be a serious of questions which will lead to the correct solution and the individual getting the cover which best suits their circumstances.

Aromatherapy Travel Insurance – Essential Oils For Your Journeys

Going on a trip is usually thought of as a wonderful experience, one that you and your family may have planned and looked forward to for some time. To have the most fun – to get the most out of the experience – it’s important that you and your loved ones have the means to overcome those little ailments and discomforts that can make the experience range from mildly unpleasant to downright unbearable. How can we include a little ‘Trip Insurance’ to our already overstuffed carry-ons or mini-vans? Aromatherapy has an answer with some readily-available essential oils.

Motion sickness, bug bites, digestive difficulties, and general travel weariness – to name a few – are common discomforts experienced when venturing away from home. A small collection of inexpensive essential oils can provide great relief from these amusement-threatening ailments. ‘Treatment’ with these oils is simple – ranging from inhaling a little oil from a tissue, to adding to a bath, to drinking a drop with a warm cup of water. And, thankfully, relief often comes quickly because of the oils’ powerful properties and compatibility with our own bodies.

Peppermint and Ginger Essential Oils – Tummy Troubles and Clearing the Head

We’ll begin with ‘getting there’ – any trip starts with traveling. By car, boat, plane, or otherwise, motion sickness commonly effects many people, particularly children. This can easily make the ‘traveling’ portion of your experience absolutely no fun. Enter Peppermint essential oil.

Peppermint has long been used to calm uneasy stomachs, and is easily used. One drop (it is strong!) in a cup of warm water, sweetened if you like, can be sipped before and during the voyage. For the fussy ones, a drop can be added to a small amount of honey and taken from a spoon for the same effect.

Ginger essential oil is also known for it’s calming of upset stomachs – a little inhaled from a tissue or diluted in a carrier oil and rubbed on the abdomen can bring relief. One can also add a drop of ginger to warm water and drink as a strong tea – this may be effective for some food-related stomach issues as well, particularly when combined with the abdomen massage method.

Peppermint can also be uplifting to the weary driver or passenger – a drop or two placed on tissues in the car or near your seat will release the aroma into your surroundings. Be careful with this oil however, as getting it on sensitive areas of the skin (directly under the nose, and certainly near the eyes) can cause irritation. Tissues with the oil on it should not touch these areas directly.

Lavender Oil – the Great Soother

Lavender has been called ‘a medicine chest in a bottle’ due to its wide range of effects. The aroma of Lavender is uplifting and relaxing, useful for stress in congested airports or crowded highways. Breathing this very safe essential oil is effective for adults and children alike – inhaling drops from a tissue directly, or from one’s placed in your surroundings can help you and your companions be at ease.

Plus Thyme, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus – Cleansing and Keeping Bugs and Bites at Bay

Lavender essential oil is also an effective wound-healer because of it’s anti-inflammatory, mild antibacterial, and skin-regenerative actions. It can be used directly in case of burns, mixed 50:50 with Tea Tree and put on band aids to prevent infection, or blended with Thyme Linalol and Eucalyptus (2:4:2) and added to a bowl of water for an effective disinfectant wash.

Lavender is very useful for treating bites and stings – just place a little ‘neat’ (undiluted) on the affected area. This versatile oil is also a component of an insect repellent blend comprised of equal parts of Lavender, Thyme Linalol, and Peppermint, and a double-dose of Lemongrass essential oil. A drop or more placed on tissue or cloth about your room can keep the insects out of your space; 3 drops of this blend per teaspoon of carrier oil can be regularly applied to the skin – or you may mix a similar amount into any lotion you may have.

Lavender can be used in combination with Geranium, Chamomile, Peppermint and Eucalyptus oils in relieving the effects of jet-lag. Getting out of this weary state as quickly as possible makes any trip more enjoyable. This requires getting yourself and companions in-synch with local time, having good rest at night and perhaps a gentle lift in the mornings and throughout the day.

To get yourself into the swing of local time, relax and be ready for bed with equal parts of Lavender and Geranium essential oils – Chamomile may also be used in place of the Geranium, and works especially well for soothing children (if they are irritable for ANY reason). Add a few drops to a bath or use in a massage oil. For a morning eye-opener, do the same using equal amounts of Peppermint and Eucalyptus. You will find these useful at other times when you need a little clarity and lightening-up.

Lemon Oil – the Purifier

Lemon also has some wonderfully diverse uses. It is effective as an antibacterial, but not so strong as to be an irritant. Adding several drops per quart to your drinking water will help purify it, and the water can act as a disinfectant to be used in washing your fruits and vegetables the need for this certainly depends on your location, but it not a bad idea whenever bacterial contamination may be a possibility. Further, regularly drinking water with added lemon oil can gently stimulate the lymphatic and digestive systems, helping alleviate that sluggish feeling that often accompanies extended plane and car travel.

Eucalyptus Oil – For Keeping Cool and Cold Relief

Eucalyptus – the Narrow Leaf variety is a favorite – has a great range of uses as well. It can cool the body when too hot, and protect it when too cold. It is found in almost all formulas used to relieve congestion, can support circulation, and bring lightness to a travel-weary head.

Eucalyptus oil can be used like peppermint to uplift and invigorate during long intervals in an automobile. It can be added to a cool bath or used on a cold compress in cases of heat exhaustion and heat stroke (accompanied by, of course, copious amounts of water and electrolytes!), and used in a similar manner to reduce fever.

Eucalyptus oil may be blended with Geranium as a massage oil (3 drops Eucalyptus and 2 drops Geranium per teaspoon of carrier oil) to relieve heat cramps. For congestion relief, to a drawn bath, add 1 drop Eucalyptus, 3 drops Lemon, 2 drops Thyme, and 2 drops Tea Tree – soak and breathe deeply – or simply add a few drops to a steaming bowl of water and inhale.

These are just a few examples of ways to make your travel experiences more enjoyable with aromatherapy. With a little effort, you can expand your knowledge of these oils, discovering further uses, and find other oils that work well for your particular needs.

These essential oils are readily available, and fairly inexpensive – though caution should be used when buying oils, as some can be adulterated, and others are mass-produced with techniques that may limit their therapeutic benefits. The more pleasant and ‘well rounded’ an oil’s aroma, generally the higher the quality. Your nose will know! And as with any aromatherapy application, start slowly – essential oils deserve a healthy respect.

Arizona Car Insurance Quote – What Is Too Much To Pay?

Arizona auto insurance is not cheap

Arizona ranked as the thirteenth most expensive state for auto insurance during the years 1999 to 2003. With insurance average insurance premiums rising to $920.38 in the year 2003 that is nearly a 5% increase from the previous year. If these trends keep up the average for 2005 premiums paid will be about $1014.00.

With more than 3.3 million cars insured privately in Arizona there is plenty of opportunity to shop around and try to decrease what you are spending for car insurance. Even with high risk drivers saving money on auto insurance is quite easy.

Where do I start saving money on car insurance?

The first place to look to save money is with the deductible. Many don’t know that deductibles can vary with each form of insurance coverage that is offered. You may have $250 deductible on comprehensive claims and a $500 deductible on the collision claims. Raising these deductibles can save money every month. Before increasing the deductibles compare what the savings are per month with what you would pay in the case of damage or an accident.

Many people do not change their insurance policy as their car ages. The fact that your car depreciates so quickly can allow you to save money on auto insurance. If your $30,000 car is now worth $5,000 then full collision coverage may not be that beneficial considering that you would pay more to insure the vehicle after a claim than you would to just pay any claim out of pocket. Remember after a claim insurance rates are increased and this makes many small claims cheaper to pay for rather than file a claim with an insurance company. Since these small claims may be paid for out of pocket decreasing your coverage can save a lot of money every month.

Please visit our recommended sources for insurance quotes.

Are Your Home Insurance Premiums Constantly Rising?

Last year the UK’s average premium for Buildings Insurance increased by 1% to just over 205 and the average for Contents Insurance rose to 151, up 2%. But within the market we’ve seen some much bigger rises if you’re with Norwich Union you’ll have seen your premium rise by around 6%.

So what’s going on? Every year we see premiums rising. Surely with so much competition in the home insurance market, you wouldn’t expect to see such inexorable rises in premiums?

Let’s consider the situation more carefully.

The cost of repairing and rebuilding houses is a reflection of the rising price of labour and building materials. This means that cost to the insurers of claims under the buildings cover similarly rises. So as their costs rise, so do your premiums. And there’s also the indisputable fact that cost inflation also affects the insurance companies own operating costs. Wherever possible, they’re bound to add a little extra on for that!

Then there’s that lovely British weather. Michael Fish could be forgiven for believing we don’t live in a hurricane zone, but nevertheless it’s a fact that storms, and especially floods, are becoming ever more frequent. Flood damage can be particularly destructive with, according to the Association of British Insurers, the average insurance claim ranging between 15,000 and 30,000. And during the last 18 months we have seen particularly destructive floods create headline news at Helmsley in North Yorkshire, Carlisle, and Boscastle in Cornwall. Those events must have cost the insurance companies multi-millions.

The other area where costs have been rising is burglary. The average burglary claim has now risen to around 1,400. There seem to be two reasons firstly burglars are finding pickings easier to come by and move on. Modern family homes are packed with valuable electronic gismos from laptops to I pods, digital cameras and flat screen TV’s. The other reason is that burglars are targeting well-off neighbourhoods more and more.

Against this background the insurance companies are able to price home and contents insurance down to individual postcodes. If their records show a problem with flooding, or subsidence, or an increasing incidence of burglary in you immediate area, their computers will load your premium to reflect the additional risk.

Your no-claims discount will only serve to offset these upward pressures to a certain extent. And don’t forget that once you have a five years no-claims record, your discount doesn’t increase, it’s capped. Thereafter, all the premium increases will land fully in your lap.

So what can you do to save money?

The most important step by far, is to shop around every year for the best available deal. Maybe it’s a chore, but thirty or forty minutes on the Internet (including ten minutes on this web site!) will yield you results. Within that space of time you’ll have found the cheapest insurer and, as an online customer, you’ll probably have qualified for an additional 10% discount. Then you can always agree to pay by direct debit that’ll also trim off a bit more.

Of course there are other things you can do, especially in the arena of home security. Join the local neighbourhood watch scheme, install security locks on your windows, fit external security lighting, up-grade the locks on your doors and get a burglar alarm. Added security will earn you discounts on your insurance but will cost you money to install! Perhaps the added peace of mind alone will be worth the cost. Only the local neighbourhood watch scheme arrives free!

The best general rule is don’t stick with the same insurance company too long. Keep them on their toes. They have a tendency to take loyal customers for granted. Yes, it really does pay to shop around try it and prove it to yourself!

Are You Paying Too Much For Your Life Insurance?

Life insurance is no different to other insurances, such as home or motor it always pays to shop around for the right product. And even if you do have an existing policy, it doesn’t mean you cannot get the same level of cover cheaper elsewhere.

And with life insurance premiums being up to 40% cheaper than they were a few years ago due to advances in medicine helping us all live longer, now may be a good time to either check your existing arrangements or take out a policy.

It is always a good idea to get several life insurance quotes before applying for a policy. This is because premiums can vary from provider to provider, so by getting a life insurance quote first, you can shop around for the most competitively priced life insurance policy.

You can get a life insurance quote from a number of places, such as your bank or other financial organisation, but probably, the quickest and easiest, no-hassle way to get a quote is to do it online. There are websites that will give you an immediate online quote so that you can get a feel for how much your premiums will be.

Remember, however, that quotes are a guide only and they could change once you have completed a full application. However, if this does happen and you are not happy with the premium, you are not under any obligation to proceed with the policy.

You should always tell the truth on your application form no matter how negative you feel it might be. For example, if you are a heavy drinker or smoker or you don’t disclose your full medical history, you will get cover that may not be valid. This means that should you die and it turns out you lied on your application form, the insurers legally don’t have to pay out your claim.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the terms and conditions offered by the different insurers so that you can compare quotes on a like-for-like basis and get the cover that best suits your circumstances.

Are You Looking For A State Farm Home Owner Insurance Quote?

It’s no secret that State Farm Insurance is a huge insurance company in America. State Farm Insurance offers automobile, life, health, disability, long term care, business, boat, farm and ranch, volcano damage, personal, and community organization insurance policies. Of course, they offer home owner insurance as well, which branches out to mobile home owner insurance policies, renter insurance policies, and condo owner insurance policies.

So, if you’re looking for a State Farm home owner insurance quote, it’s probably safe to say you’re going to be in good hands. You can obtain a State Farm home owner insurance quote online, or you can search for your nearest State Farm home owner insurance agent by providing your home state and zip code.

Aside from being able to obtain a State Farm home owner insurance quote online, or being directed to your nearest State Farm home owner insurance agent, State Farm Insurance also offers you the ability to manage your insurance policies online, make payments online, and file claims online all regarding your State Farm home owner insurance policy.

State Farm Insurance also provides information to help you better understand the worth of your home, how to safeguard your home by taking a look at your home’s roof and creating a disaster survival kit, and even offers a “Free Property Information Organizer.” Most of the little extras that State Farm throws in are all available via State Farm software, which makes these useful resources even more user friendly.

Choosing to get a State Farm home owner insurance quote is a safe way to go when searching for a home owner insurance quote. Plus, the helpful perks make getting a State Farm home owner insurance quote even more appealing. So, when you’re looking for a State Farm home owner insurance quote, you will likely get more than you bargained for even if you decide not to purchase a State Farm home owner insurance policy!

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Are You Covered And Don’t Realise It?

Amanda was 42 when she was given the difficult news that she had ovarian cancer.

The West Yorkshire woman received chemotherapy treatment after diagnosis, but Amanda became one of the unlucky ones. She had a bad reaction to the chemotherapy and because of this she was unable to work.

So when a tax bill arrived in the post for a large sum of money, re-mortgaging her house felt like the right thing to do. The building society with whom she had the mortgage asked her to bring along her life insurance papers to support the mortgage application.

But to Amanda’s surprise, what she thought was a life insurance policy was in fact critical illness insurance instead. She had been paying out 80 per month for two separate insurance policies with Scottish Provident and Norwich Union and had absolutely no idea that those two policies covered her for critical illness.

As a result, Amanda claimed back a staggering 100,000, which paid not only the tax bill but her mortgage as well.

Many of us haven’t got a clue about the exact sum we’re paying on insurance each year or the details of what we are in fact covered for. Not only are we shocked to find out that we are actually covered for more than we in fact realise, but that we’re doubling up by paying for various types of insurance that actually cover the same thing.

You’ll find that it’s areas such as loss of income, legal expenses, theft and death which most often people wind up paying out twice for when there is no need – mainly because they haven’t carefully read the insurance policy or because it has been the case that some insurance has been put on to some policies as an added bonus.

In a recently released Financial Services Authority survey, it shows that car insurance policies also come with added extras like breakdown recovery and legal expense cover. Paying out for these added extras when you do not want them is an easy mistake to make, according to the survey, because you actually have to physically ring the insurance firm and tell the staff that you do not want them before these ‘options’ are removed from your agreement.

Take permanent medical insurance (PMI) for example. Many aspects of this policy cover you for the same things that Payment Protection Insurance covers you for. But few people realise this and so they take out both.

The FInancial Ombudsman is very aware about the situation surrounding insurance duplication. They say that “people often do not realise until they make a claim that they have been paying for a policy that provides very little, if any, benefit”.

Take a look at your Critical Illness Insurance, as this is one area in which you sometimes get cover from your employer. Find out whether you have this type of insurance with your work before you make the purchase on this policy. Do the same with life insurance, because if you have a company pension scheme, life insurance is something you do not actually need. The reason? Because most company pension schemes have a death-in-service benefit. What this means that should you die while you are still an employee at that particular firm, then large, a tax free payment will be made – a payment which could add up to four times your annual salary at the time of your death, or more.

Other types of insurance you might not need includes mobile phone insurance. The consumer watchdogs will tell you this is something that’s often a waste of money because you have to pay the first 50 of the claim and if you already have home insurance, that insurance might provide you with some protection.

Others include car insurance extras such as legal expense cover. If you are a member of a trade union, then you could have some legal cover anyway.

Some companies trying to get people to take out ID theft insurance. A waste of money? The consumer watchdogs think so because if it is the case your ID gets stolen you are only responsible for the first 50 and most of the time the banks are prepared to waive charges.