Regulatory Changes Affect Captains And CrewIt is often said that, “The only constant in life is change.” This statement could not be more appropriate with the changes that are happening regarding health insurance and the superyacht industry. Between Health Care Reform and the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) coming into effect soon, now is the time for yacht captains and crew to learn about regulatory changes taking place and how they can best protect themselves. 

 

Mark Bononi, MHG Insurance Brokers’ Yacht Division Director, is featured in this month’s issue of Dockwalk, the premier magazine for superyacht captains and crew. He speaks candidly about this specific issue and offers pertinent advice for those in the industry. For starters, let us begin with the MLC, which will be going into effect on August 20, 2013. If you have assumed the MLC will make the vessel owner responsible to take care of all your health and medical insurance needs, this is simply not the case. 

The MLC is basically designed as a minimum standard for the commercial shipping world and does not mean individual yacht crewmembers will be adequately protected. Bononi shares that the MLC going into effect really does not change much regarding coverage. He explains that the “MLC states that each vessel owner is liable for crew medical costs.” However, the MLC does not spell this out clearly, stating the yacht owner must provide “financial security” to cover death, repatriation or long-term disability costs. Bononi then asks, how will this “financial security” be proven? It will most likely be subject to interpretation by each individual port state inspector. Proof might come in the form of providing health insurance, or having money in an escrow account, or in another manner…either way, it is not clearly stated. 

In addition, many insurance policies offered by a yacht owner do not include all-encompassing health care for yacht crewmembers. Bononi stresses the point that this is where the responsibility ultimately falls on the crewmember to make sure their medical and health insurance needs are met, and how a separate medical policy can offer added protection and peace of mind. When it comes to Health Care Reform, Americans who work as yacht crewmembers are currently playing the waiting game. Do not assume that not residing in the U.S. the majority of the year removes your requirement to pay for health insurance or be subject to a tax. Currently, the rules around residency and time periods for residing outside of the U.S. are vague at best. This makes it difficult for yacht crewmembers to plan for their health insurance needs. 

Staying in contact with an experienced yacht insurance broker, such as MHG, is imperative, as they will keep abreast of all regulatory changes that are happening regarding the MLC and Health Care Reform. Bononi states that it really boils down to each individual crew member getting adequate coverage for themselves that meets their specific needs, even if this comes in the form of an additional policy over what the yacht owner provides. 

His other important piece of advice is not to wait: “Health insurance only gets more expensive the older you get, so getting on board early with a comprehensive health policy can help with future costs.” Bononi’s full interview is available in the August issue of Dockwalk magazine. 

If you are a yacht crewmember seeking to learn more about health insurance options available to you, call MHG today and let a skilled representative explain more regarding the MLC and Health Care Reform. MHG Insurance Brokers can also provide you with numerous quotes from top-rated insurance companies who offer policies that meet your budget and individual needs. Call MHG today at 954-828-1819 or learn more by visiting www.MHGInsurance.com

How Upcoming Regulatory Changes Might Affect Captains and Crew

Renters Insurance If you are a renter, you have probably considered purchasing renters insurance. While you may have concerns about adding another insurance policy to your budget, renters insurance is more affordable and important than you may think. Imagine coming home and finding your apartment or rental has been gutted by a fire, or perhaps burglarized. Most renters incorrectly assume their items would be covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy. This is only true if any damage that occurs is due to neglect of the landlord. If the robbery or fire were not technically due to landlord negligence, then their insurance policy would only cover the physical structure of the property and not any of your personal belongings inside. If you were in fact the victim of a robbery or fire, would you financially be able to recoup everything you have lost? For most people, this would cause a serious financial and emotional strain. 

 

There is one way, however, to protect yourself – by purchasing a renters insurance policy with the proper level of coverage for your lifestyle and belongings. MHG Insurance Brokers has helped people find the proper rental insurance policy that fits their needs and budget. Most people are surprised to learn just how cheap renters insurance is, considering how valuable the policy can be if the situation arises. Many policies range as little as 10 dollars per month, depending on the area you live and the amount of coverage you desire. 

Our skilled insurance brokers can explain to you the details of a standard renters insurance policy. Depending on your personal situation, there are also insurance add-ons that can supplement the standard policy. These add-ons usually have an additional cost and include:

  • Full-replacement Cost Coverage – Your standard insurance policy will pay you the cash value of the items lost; this “cash value” is calculated by the price you paid minus any depreciation. If you want to be compensated for the actual cost to replace these items (in today’s value), then ask an MHG broker about supplementing with Full-replacement Cost Coverage.

  • Floods and Earthquakes – Most standard renters and homeowners insurance policies will not cover flood or earthquake damage. If you live in a zone where these types of natural disasters are common, you may want to consider an additional policy to cover your belongings.

For less than the price of a daily cup of coffee, arming yourself with the proper level of renters insurance can offer you peace of mind when it comes to the valuable property you have worked so hard to obtain. Let one of our experienced and knowledgeable brokers help you determine what level of coverage you need and present you with quotes from top-rated insurance companies. Don’t lose your belongings to an unexpected fire or burglary. Protection is easy and very affordable with the right renters insurance policy. Call MHG today at 954-828-1819 to learn more. You can also visit us at mhginsurance.com

Why Renters Insurance is Important

Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Swimming Pool SafetySummer time is highly anticipated by everyone, especially children. It means playtime outdoors, quality family time, and swimming in the pool with friends. For those of us that have swimming pools in our backyards, we know it is a great source of exercise and fun. However, it is also a big responsibility.


It is critical that any pool owner take appropriate measures to safeguard their swimming pool, and to make swimming pool safety a priority in order to avoid injuries or accidents. Swimming pool accidents can occur quickly and with no warning. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for children ages 0 to 14. 

Below is a list of important safety precautions for parents and pool owners to follow to ensure the safety of everyone swimming this summer:

  • Fencing – Appropriate pool fencing reduces the risk of drowning by more than half. The fence needs to be four-sided,  four feet high, and set up to completely barricade the pool. It needs to be secure with a lock that is out of a child’s reach. All stepladders need to be removed from the pool area completely when the pool is not in use.

  • Get a Pool Alarm – Pool alarms will alert you if someone simply enters the perimeter of the pool, or if they happen to jump or fall into the pool.

  • Learn CPR – Knowing how to perform CPR can not only save a drowning victim’s life, but it can dramatically affect the outcome of their recovery, even preventing possible brain damage.

  • Swimming Lessons – Children who cannot swim should not be permitted near a swimming pool. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports swimming lessons as early as age one. Children can attend a certified swimming class as early as age four. Parents should always accompany children who are under four years of age near a pool. Rescue equipment, life jackets and floatation devices should be located near the pool, and any inexperienced swimmers should use a life jacket.

  • Adult Supervision – There is no substitute for an observant adult who is present poolside while children are swimming. It is common for swimmers to develop cramps while in the pool, and for head injuries to occur when jumping in the pool.

  • Review your insurance policy – Make sure you have adequate liability coverage in your existing Homeowners policy, and check whether the coverage protects those who may possibly sustain an injury while in the pool.  Protect yourself as well as those who use your pool.

MHG Insurance Brokers wants to ensure that our clients have a safe and enjoyable summer. If you have questions about whether you need additional liability coverage that will include your guests when they use your swimming pool, feel free to contact MHG today.  You can discuss insurance options with one of our experienced brokers by calling 954 – 828 – 1819, or by visiting mhginsurance.com.  MHG Insurance Brokers will help you determine if you need further protection.  Have a great summer and be safe!

Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Commercial Auto PolicyCar accidents happen every day and as a business owner, you need to make sure you have the proper insurance coverage in place to protect you, your employees, your assets and get you back on the road as quickly as possible. How do you know if you need a Commercial Auto policy? As a rule of thumb, if the vehicle is used primarily for business purposes or is titled in the company’s name, you should have a Commercial Auto policy regardless if you lease or own the vehicle. 

 

Commercial auto insurance policies exist not only for commercial vehicles such as semis, dump trucks, emergency vehicles and taxis, where it is apparent that business is being conducted in and out of these types of vehicles every day. 

Here are several other situations in which a commercial auto insurance policy is the appropriate policy to secure for your vehicle – situations where a personal policy will not provide adequate coverage in the event of an accident:

  • If you use your personal vehicle for day-to-day business, such as a delivery person or courier.

  • For vehicles that are rented or leased and primarily used for or while conducting business.

  • If you are a realtor, have a similar job where you consistently travel in your personal vehicle for work to go on sales calls, or to transport clients or coworkers.

  • If you provide your personal vehicle to another person to use as a means of compensation or to utilize when running errands or picking up supplies on your behalf, such as a personal assistant or nanny.

These are situations where a commercial auto insurance policy is necessary, so that in the unfortunate event of an accident, your vehicle will be covered for damages. This policy also provides coverage for any other authorized drivers or passengers traveling in your vehicle who sustain injuries or medical costs incurred because of an accident. 

A personal auto insurance policy would not adequately provide coverage in these instances, due to the nature in which the vehicle is being used, which is for business purposes. Commercial auto insurance policies can also play a key role in protecting your business. A type of liability coverage that can be built into your commercial policy serves to protect your business from monetary judgments in a case where your employee gets involved in an accident while conducting business for your company, even if he is driving his own vehicle. This type of liability coverage can protect your business from serious financial jeopardy. 

 The differences between personal and commercial auto insurance policies are not always clear-cut and easy to understand. That is why it is vital to work with an experienced, knowledgeable, independent insurance brokerage. MHG Insurance Brokers is dedicated to providing its clients with the most comprehensive coverage available on the market, tailored to accommodate the clients’ needs, at the most competitive rates. Call MHG Insurance Brokers today for assistance in evaluating your auto insurance needs with one of our brokers at 954-828-1819, or visit mhginsurance.com.  

Rest easy knowing that MHG Insurance Brokers will help you protect yourself and your business with the proper commercial auto insurance policy.

Do I Need a Commercial Auto Policy?

Hurricane Season Preparation Hurricane season begins June 1st and runs through November 30th each year on the Atlantic coast. The National Weather Service (NOAA) releases its predictions for the season on May 23rd, but forecasters from Colorado State University are expecting a season with above-average storm activity, estimating that there will be 18 tropical storms, nine of which will be hurricanes, and four of those to be major hurricanes. 

 

Floridians know that in order to get through Hurricane season smoothly, it is important to be properly prepared. In addition to NOAA’s website, which offers an informative and helpful Hurricane Preparedness Guide, here are some important tips that are worth mentioning, as well as some that often are overlooked:

  • Have an evacuation plan and know the local routes. Share it with your family.
  • While stocking up on food and water supplies, remember to purchase a First Aid kit as well.
  • Keep important documents in a waterproof bag or case and move it to a place that you can access easily.
  • Learn the elevation of your property, and whether the land is prone to flooding.
  • Find out if there is a SPHA for the area you live in – Special Flood Hazard Designation.
  • Make arrangements for your pets, in case evacuation becomes necessary.
  • Make plans to secure your property in the event of an evacuation.
  • Take pictures of your home, inside and out.
  • Check over your insurance policies.

Not sure what you should be looking for when reviewing your insurance policies? First, become familiar with policy coverage amounts and deductibles so that you can be prepared in the event you have to file a claim. Also, what does the policy cover? 

Home owners’ insurance in Florida does not cover flood claims. You should purchase a Flood Insurance policy to protect your home from flooding due to heavy rains and storm surge. Storm surge is water that is pushed toward the shoreline by wind force during a storm. Combined with normal tides, water levels rise and can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and beyond by eroding beaches and roadways. Only a few inches of water in your home can cost thousands in repair costs and restoration. 

Having a comprehensive Flood Insurance policy is vital to recovering from a devastating hurricane. Even renters may purchase a policy to cover the contents of their home. There are two types of Flood Insurance policies available to you that can be purchased separately – Contents and Structure Only. 

MHG Insurance Brokers are well-informed about what policies are currently being offered and are able to provide you with the most comprehensive Flood Insurance policy backed by the U.S. Government. Visit MHG online today at mhginsurance.com or call at 954 -828-1819 and speak with a member of our team to get better prepared this Hurricane Season.

Preparing For Hurricane Season – What Homeowners Need to Know about Flood Insurance

Insurance NeedsWe cannot predict when an emergency may arise or the setbacks we may endure. However, we can be prepared for these events by being insured properly during each stage of our lives. Often, we are able to resolve some situations that come up with personal funds from income or savings.  However, some unexpected hardships can be very costly. In the event of a larger setback, the function of insurance is to be able to shift the financial burden to the insurance company, so that we can maintain financial stability.

 

Part of assessing someone’s insurance needs is taking into account the life stage that person is in. Someone who just graduated college has different coverage needs than someone who is newly married and is considering starting a family. A newlywed’s insurance requirements are also quite different from that of a person who is about to retire. 

Additionally, taking into consideration the common milestones that occur during each life stage helps determine the different types of insurance that one should consider investing in. Here are some life stages to consider: 

  • Young, Single, Recent Graduate - If currently between jobs, or not yet eligible for coverage offered through a job, it is important to consider purchasing a health plan as well as disability coverage. In the event an accident leaves you temporarily unable to work, you will still be faced with having to pay bills and student loans. Life insurance is also something to consider –you may not think you need it right now, but it is still worth checking into, as the premiums will be at their lowest for those who are young and generally healthy.

  • Just Married – If you are thinking about starting a family, you will want to review your health plan to be sure you are able to add a new family member to the plan and make sure you have adequate coverage. Also, consider purchasing life insurance plans at this time. In the event of a spouse’s unforeseen passing, you will want to protect each other financially from having to incur any personal debts and funeral expenses, as well as cover expenses such as the cost of raising a child, college, and a mortgage.

  • Empty Nesters – With the children off on their own, take time to review your life insurance needs. You may want to adjust the amount of coverage you currently maintain, determining that you may not need as much. Also, consider purchasing Long Term Care coverage, which will cover costs that may arise for elderly services or facilities that may become a necessary part of the care you need as you get older.

  • Retirement– You will have to maintain your health insurance plan until you reach the age of 65, which is the age you become eligible for Medicare. At that time, you will need to consider purchasing a Supplemental Health Care plan as well as Prescription Drug Coverage, to enhance your Medicare plan and cover the medical expenses that Medicare does not. Travel insurance is also something to consider, as the retired years are when people do the most travelling.

Just as it is important to be properly insured, it is also essential to work with a reliable insurance broker, such as MHG. MHG employs experienced representatives who have earned the credentials necessary to provide you with the correct type of insurance and the proper amount. A knowledgeable representative will assess your insurance needs, determine the type and amount of insurance you should maintain, and find the best-priced policy.

Contact MHG Insurance Brokers today at 954-828-1819, or visit mhginsurance.com and speak with one of our insurance representatives. Learn how to protect yourself and your family with insurance coverage that is essential for every stage of life.

 

Changing Life Stages and Your Insurance Needs

Travel InsuranceYou have finally picked the perfect setting for your next vacation and are about to reserve all of your itinerary details. Right before you finish booking your trip, you are asked a routine question that can make or break your journey: “Do you want to add travel insurance to your purchase?” Most people are not aware of the fact that travel insurance is one of the smartest uses of their money when it comes to a vacation or business trip. Before we get into specifics, let’s take a look at a real world example from a client who declined the travel insurance option in the past. 

 

“From 2006-2009, I was flying to Europe quite often and each time I purchased a travel insurance policy. In 2008, I took a trip to Germany and for the first time decided not to purchase travel insurance. What a monumental mistake. I was walking home late one night, tripped over a curb, and tore a ligament in my right ankle. After visiting an urgent care facility, an orthopedic surgeon several times and medicine, my bill was $492 and my deductible was $500. Had I purchased my usual travel insurance policy for around $30 with a $0 deductible and $50,000 limit, I would have been out of pocket $0!” 

First, travel insurance can save you large amounts of money if you experience a medical issue while on a trip. Studies show that one out of every two travelers becomes ill during their trip and an average overseas medical bill can run between $1,500 - $2,400 dollars. Furthermore, most hospitals and physicians abroad expect payment before you can be treated. 

Other traveling mishaps that can be overcome with travel insurance include trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (never fun!), emergency transport and even natural disasters. Trip cancellations can happen for many reasons, and when it does, travelers lose an average of $1,186 per trip. Stolen luggage is another costly endeavor, with an average price tag of $350-$400 per bag. 

If you become severely injured and need medical evacuation back to the United States, be prepared to pay a hefty price tag if you didn’t invest in travel insurance. Average transport amounts run around $30,000 per traveler. Other details you should be aware of when traveling abroad is that most U.S. based healthcare policies do not cover policyholders when overseas – this is especially true for those on Medicare or other national health services.

 Considering all of the benefits of travel insurance, and coverage costing an average of 4-8 percent of your trip total, isn’t it time to talk to an experienced travel insurance broker? The knowledgeable agents at MHG can explain all of the advantages of travel insurance and tailor a policy to your specific needs. They offer a variety of advanced travel insurance plans that can help you put any travel anxieties to rest. You might have waited a long time to take this special trip – don’t let a travel mishap set you back financially. Call MHG at 954-828-1819 or visit mhginsurance.com today to book your travel insurance policy.

Should You Buy Travel Insurance?

Individual Disability Income Protection If you are currently employed as a yacht crewmember, chances are you have heard about individual disability income protection. Although some reports state the economy is improving, times are still tough and salaries are not increasing the way they have in the past. In addition, with a disabling accident or illness occurring or being diagnosed every few seconds, it would be a wise choice to consider disability insurance.

 

Let’s take a look at a real life scenario about a yacht crewmember who did not purchase disability insurance: 

“Last June, we had a Chief Stewardess fall down the stairs onboard a yacht. She landed on her head and injured her spine, causing temporary paralysis. She still has a long road to recovery in terms of her coordination and strength in her limbs. She has had to rely heavily on others, including her significant other, for both financial support as well as in caring for her day to day needs. Had she purchased a disability plan, she would potentially be receiving 65% of her salary.” 

When accidents and injuries happen to those who are uninsured, it brings a financial, physical and emotional strain to those who become their caretakers. Unfortunately, not everyone has a significant other or family member nearby, and they are left to hire a home nurse or caretaker. These expenses, in addition to medical bills, can be astronomical.  

Also keep in mind that if you are disabled, you will be living on shore. This will likely result in additional living expenses such as electric and water that you may not have had while working at sea. Just like accidents, long term illness can also cause significant financial challenges.  

With a long term illness, you can also find yourself in a situation where you not only need to rely on others for support with daily activities but you may also find that the ongoing medical costs may not be adequately covered by your insurance plan due to additional deductibles, non-covered items or co-insurance. 

A disabling injury or illness has the potential to ruin someone financially. Living expenses continue to rise, as do the costs for adequate medical care. Disability income can offer you peace of mind knowing a significant portion of your income can be replaced in the event of an unfortunate situation.

Disability income protection is just one part of your overall insurance picture, so be sure to consider it along with health and life insurance. MHG Insurance Brokers specializes in insurance plans for yacht crew members. We have the knowledge, experience and relationships with top-rated disability insurance carriers and can tailor a policy to your budget and needs. Call MHG today at +1 954-828-1819 or visit mhginsurance.com  to determine which disability insurance plan would be right for you.

Income for When You Are Not Working

Clayton-SwartFort Lauderdale, FL – March 18, 2013 – MHG Insurance Brokers is pleased to announce and welcome Clayton Swart as Business Development Manager. Clayton will be responsible for promoting and marketing yacht crew insurance in addition to developing business and cultivating relationships for our US Insurance Division. 

 

Born and raised in South Africa, Clayton completed his marketing degree at the Varsity College of Natal, Durban.  He relocated to the US thirteen years ago to pursue his passion for international travel and yachting and spent seven years working aboard numerous yachts in various capacities. In 2007, Clayton joined The Sacks Group as Yacht Sales Coordinator, International Yacht Collection in 2010 and then most recently Y.CO in 2011. 

“For quite some time we have looked for a well-qualified candidate to develop new business locally and we are fortunate to have found Clayton available” said Andrew Dudzinski, Chairman and CEO of MHG Insurance Brokers. “Clayton’s out-going personality, professionalism and experience in the industry will be a great asset to MHG.” 

Clayton is very involved in the marine community and is a member of the Florida Yacht Brokers Association and Young Professionals in Yachting. He also volunteers with the Freedom Waters Foundation. 

About MHG Insurance Brokers 

MHG Insurance Brokers is a full-service insurance brokerage, assisting clients with marine crew insurance, life and health insurance, MLC 2006 and healthcare reform guidance, employee benefits solutions and business insurance.  With over 20 years of industry experience and access to multiple US and international carriers, our insurance specialists can advise which insurance and financial services providers and products are best suited to address the needs of employers as well as individuals. We are committed to providing our clients with the highest level of advice and support in order to deliver solutions that offer the best scope, service and value.

Clayton Swart Joins MHG Insurance Brokers In Fort Lauderdale

Health Care Reform

Health Care ReformRemember the old adage from Benjamin Franklin “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes…”, well, we could add one more thing to this maxim “…and health insurance”.   

 

I added this only because in 2014 there will be a new tax enforced mandate that requires all Americans to obtain basic health insurance under the ACA (Affordable Care Act), also known as Health Care Reform. So what is Health Care Reform and why is it needed?  

Let’s start by taking a long hard look at who has and who doesn’t have health insurance.  In this case 43 million-plus Americans currently do not have basic health insurance, and those that want it currently may not be able to get it because of pre-existing conditions.   

A not so nice example of this is a young pregnant woman who needs individual insurance right now would not be able to get basic individual insurance to cover pre-natal and post-natal medical support.  Sure, there may be some State programs that could help but even these are less than comprehensive in scope.

Now roll-back to 2010 which was when this individual mandate or law came in to effect. To start there were several key milestones such as:

  • Individual Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans (or PCIP’s) made available for people with certain pre-existing conditions who have been unable to obtain insurance for six months or more
  • Expanded coverage in Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ or ‘gap’ for seniors
  • Small business group  health insurance credit
  • Adult children can now remain on their parent’s insurance plan through age 26
  • Copays, coinsurance and deductibles have been removed on preventative care visits
  • No pre-existing condition exclusions for children under age 19
  • No lifetime or annual limits on “essential” or basic health benefits

Note that one of the keywords used here is “individual” insofar as the mandate makes each US citizen or resident individually responsible to show they have healthcare in place, with the compliance review being administered and enforced under the tax mandate, by the IRS. Now you are up to speed with Health Care Reform and the changes that are already in place, you might be asking what’s still to come. 

January 1, 2014 is the deadline to purchase your health insurance. Failure to do so will result in individual penalties from $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, $695 in 2016 or 1% in 2014, 2% in 2015 and 2.5% in 2016 of your income, whichever is greater. Employers with 50 or more full-time employees who do not offer health insurance will also be subject to fines. But it’s not all doom and gloom! Here are some of the notable scheduled changes still to come.

  • Individuals with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level will be eligible for refundable tax credits to purchase insurance coverage through the state based exchange marketplace.
  • There will be no pre-existing condition exclusions.
  • Employers with more than 200 employees that offer insurance coverage must automatically enroll new full-time employees with the opportunity to opt out.
  • Group waiting periods for coverage will be required to be less than 90 days.
  • State-based and federally governed exchanges open beginning in 2014, which will allow people to compare and purchase health plans in the new state-based marketplace designed to make buying health insurance easier and more affordable. They will be able to use insurance brokers, such as MHG, to assist in navigating these exchanges. Plans offered on the exchanges will follow a tiered rating (such as Silver and Bronze levels offering very basic insurance and at the other end of the scale, high-end comprehensive plans.   There will also be the opportunity for supplemental insurance to be offered (also called GAP plans) which will help plug any gaps in the basic insurance package, again offered by insurance brokers as needed.

So there you have it, a snap-shot on what has happened and still to come for Health Care Reform. Obviously there are risks inherent in this change, not least of which is a possible shortage of primary care physicians and an initial influx of people with pre-existing conditions previously uninsurable.  This will place a strain on any Health Care Reform model but given the alternative of no universal insurance, or mounting premium costs, will be something that has to be dealt with in future years. 

MHG Insurance Brokers is committed to keeping you up to date with Health Care Reform changes and legislation that may affect you. Whether you are looking for Health Care Reform guidance, health insurance for you or your family, employee benefits, dental, life insurance or long-term care, schedule an appointment with the insurance specialists at MHG to discuss your particular situation by calling 954-828-1819 or visit mhginsurance.com for more information.

Health Care Reform