Insurance News

Insurance News / 20.12.2018

Did you know that adding carbonated water or tonic to a drink will speed up the absorption of the alcohol? This is an example of what you learn at TIPS Training, a program that gives tools to servers for the responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol. Clark Insurance offers this training to customers and, since the holiday season is in full swing, we wanted to share a few key facts with you too. After all, you may be planning on relaxing by the fire this year with a cold (or warm) beverage in hand. Spiked eggnog, anyone? ...

Insurance News / 11.12.2018

You are in hospitality and you know that guests appreciate, and sometimes demand, alcohol service as part of their dining experience. Of course, viewing alcohol solely as a relaxing social lubricant is not the entire story – anyone in the industry can tell you that serving alcohol is a unique privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility. Tim McCarty and Joan Hopkins explain how to reduce your risks by implementing an effective TIPS training program for your employees. ...
Insurance News / 19.10.2018

There is a limit for jewelry on a homeowner’s policy, ranging from $1,000 - $2,000. This limit is often not enough to cover the full value of the ring. So, in order to increase that limit, you can “schedule” the item. Scheduled property is an additional policy which extends the coverage beyond the standard protection provided by a homeowners’ policy....
Insurance News, Featured / 22.12.2017

Every year, Clark Insurance enters the Holiday Season with our end-of-year giving. We support many valued organizations, notably ones that cater to the causes of food insecurity, clothing, shelter, higher education and wellness. In addition to our philanthropic support we also feature one end of year giving recipient through conducting an interview, capturing their mission, accomplishments and goals – to share with our community. This year, James Brissenden, our Marketing and Communications Specialist, sat down with Good Shepherd Food Bank. See below for the story!...
Insurance News / 24.02.2017

Article by Kerry Peabody, CSA, CLTC Senior Account Executive As an LTC insurance professional, you spend a lot of time trying to explain to prospects why they need to plan for long term care. I gave up on the numbers and stats a long time ago, so I don’t bother regurgitating a bunch of statistics about how many people will need long term care services, how much nursing homes cost, blah, blah, blah. No. You already know this is real; you’ve seen it – perhaps in your own family, or at work, or in a friend’s or clients’ family. LTC happens, period. Instead of re-hashing the obvious nonsense, I prefer to try and convey to them what LTC means to them and their family. My mom passed away two Septembers ago with advanced COPD. It was horrible. My step-father was her primary caregiver for the past couple of years, assisted sporadically by hospice volunteers. Yes, she had long term care insurance, but against my numerous urgings, she long ago purchased a nursing home only policy. (This was before I got into the sales side of this business.) So, her policy was dirt cheap, but it wouldn’t pay for home care. I live about four hours away from my mother. Her health went from bad to really bad after a hospitalization about two years ago. The weekend after she came home from the hospital, I drove down to stay for a few nights. My first night there, my step-father asked if I could stay with her while he ran some errands. “Sure,” I replied, “of course.” About thirty seconds after his truck left the driveway, however, something truly terrifying occurred to me – my mother might have to use the bathroom. The thought of physically assisting my mother with her toileting had never really struck me until that moment. I’ve been involved in LTC insurance for 21 years, but it wasn’t until right then that it finally became real for me. Think about how you might feel as an adult child in that situation. Or worse yet, as the ailing parent? As uncomfortable as I was with the prospect, how do you suppose she felt about having her 50-year-old son take her to the toilet? This is what long term care is about. Another story, also very close to home. Two sisters and a brother. Mom suffers a significant health event, and simply doesn’t recover. One sister becomes the primary caregiver. The mother spends eleven months in a skilled rehab facility, then a year receiving 24/7 home care, then another three weeks in intensive care before passing away. Throughout all of this, there were frequent re-hospitalizations and three-times-per-week dialysis visits. Fortunately, this lady had very good long term care insurancewhich provided a significant amount of financial support – as much as $11,000 per month. However, even with the financial relief the insurance provided, the caregiver sister still found herself working non-stop to ensure her mom’s needs were met. Anyone who’s seen the long term care system at work knows that patients desperately need an advocate. This sister worked endlessly to shepherd her mom through the system and manage her needs. Over time, the toll this took on the relationships between the kids was catastrophic. Now, nearly four years after their mother’s passing, they’re still working to rebuild family ties. This is what long term care is about. Next, a friend who owns a non-medical home health care agency. Her elderly parents live in another state, roughly six hours away. Mom has had several falls, dad’s health is failing, and neither of them should be driving, but they live in a very rural area, and having no car would, for them, mean utter and complete isolation. Despite her urgings, they don’t want to sell their house and move here, where she could help to manage their care needs as they become more immediate. This is a woman who owns a home care agency, and yet, her parents feel they know better. As it is, about every three weeks, she’s driving six hours each way to deal with a care crisis, because her parents aren’t ready to give up their home or their history in order to make it easier for her to help them. This is what long term care is about. Finally, a couple – clients of mine – both retired professionals. He’s 78, she’s 72. You will never find a couple that loves each other more than these two. He suffered a stroke several years ago. She’s younger, and they always knew that she would be his first line of support in the event his health changed. But, now that’s not going to work – she has Alzheimer’s. This isn’t what was supposed to happen. They have very good long term care insurance in place, so financially, they’ll be fine. But more importantly, they’ve built a network of caring friends in their community who will be there to help when things go wrong. They aren’t alone. That’s what long term care is about. Planning for long term care isn’t about nursing homes. It’s not about schedules or feedings or bathing and dressing or toileting. Planning for long term care is aboutpeople and families, and the impact that changing health has on them. It’s about human dignity. It’s about meeting the physical and emotional needs of loved ones without subjecting yourself to physical and emotional exhaustion. It’s about living out your own life without becoming a burden – even if your loved ones believe with all their hearts that they want to carry that burden. You can help your clients face the fact that LTC happens, and you can help them deal with the financial side of this, and that’s immensely important. But more importantly, encourage them to talk to their loved ones, spouses, partners, kids, siblings and parents. Reinforce the relationships that will be there when they or their family members need help. Long term care happens. When it does, your clients need to be ready – and you can help. Good luck!...
Insurance News / 31.01.2017

Maine employers turned out in droves for our most recent Breakfast Briefing to learn about managing expectations and behaviors with legalized marijuana. Clark Insurance and KMA HR Consulting recruited a talented and knowledgeable panel that included: Patricia Rosi, CEO of Wellness Connection of Maine, a large and growing medical marijuana dispensary Julie Rabinowitz, Director of Operations and Communications at the Maine Department of Labor Matt LaMourie, an attorney at Preti Flaherty who practices in their Employment Law, Litigation and Immigration Groups Here’s what our audience heard for guidance. 1) Understand the drug and its uses 2) Classify job positions according to safety 3) Adhere to consistent procedures in dealing with impairment 4) Stay informed as the law and regulations take shape Understanding Marijuana (cannabis) – Medical vs. Recreational Ms. Rosi first dispelled the stereotype of the medical marijuana patient – think your next door neighbor, co-worker or family member. There are more than 2,000 cultivated strains of marijuana with two main compounds: THC which produces psychoactive effects CBD that has medicinal value but no psychoactive effects Wellness Connection of Maine dispensary There are 29 states plus the District of Columbia in which medical marijuana is legal. Growing facilities are highly sophisticated, controlled and regulated and range from 30,000 square feet to more than one million square feet. Any dispensary in Maine must produce and process their own product to ensure safety and accountability. That said, patients can grow their own cannabis or purchase it from a caregiver. There are five basic methods of using the drug smoking vaporizing tinctures/lozenges medicated edibles Salves/patches Someone who is certified to use marijuana for medical purposes may have no visible signs of impairment or smell of “weed”. For some who use the THC version with psychoactive effects, it can be beneficial dealing with issues like post traumatic syndrome disorder (PTSD). And just like any other medicine, dosing is critical to effective treatment. There are approximately 37,000 patients in Maine including some who are certified to use cannabis under workers’ compensation coverage. Identify Safety-Sensitive Jobs NOW The governing principle of “safety first” will help employers determine job positions for which a policy of ZERO TOLERANCE (ZT) is applicable (e.g. machine and equipment operators, child care workers, medical personnel, chemical handlers, etc.). That means that if a drug test were administered, it must show no traces of marijuana use. For example, this is standard operating procedure for truck drivers under federal jurisdiction. For now, the definition of “safety” in Maine can be very broad but likely will be narrowed as state officials draw up regulations. For example, anyone who drives only occasionally in the course of their work might be considered a “zero tolerance” candidate even though they are not regulated by the federal government. That applies as well to those fulfilling U.S. government contracts. People handling money or finances could be classified in the ZT category on the basis of their potential harm to customers or their employer’s financial stability. Whatever choices you make, they must be consistent, well-supported and those choices ought to be reviewed with an attorney or HR specialist. In addition, these classifications should be reviewed with employees upon hire. The Law First, let’s be clear that Maine’s new law legalizing the possession and use of marijuana is in conflict with federal law that lists it as a controlled substance and a new administration may have a different attitude toward enforcement. The Maine referendum language will require the legislature to bring other statutes in line with the new law in terms of regulation. Unless dealt with as emergency legislation (two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature), the changes are unlikely to become law until the fall of 2017. In the meantime, there is a recount underway that should conclude some time after the first of the year. Presuming the results remain the same, personal use will be legal 30 days after the referendum results are certified by the governor. For employers, here is the pivotal wording from the referendum language that a majority of voters approved: 2. Employment policies. This chapter may not be construed to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, trade, display, transportation, sale or growing of cannabis in the workplace. This chapter does not affect the ability of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees or to discipline employees who are under the influence of marijuana in the workplace. 3. School, employer or landlord may not discriminate. A school, employer or landlord may not refuse to enroll or employ or lease to or otherwise penalize a person 21 years of age or older solely for that person’s consuming marijuana outside of the school’s, employer’s or landlord’s property. It is essential to start discussions NOW with employees and adopt clearly written policies and procedures that are applied consistently. In addition, there should be post-event procedures in case of infractions or accidents. Communicating clearly will help set boundaries for applicants and employees regarding discipline and any drug or impairment testing policies. Employers interested in learning more about drug testing for applicants and employees should visit the Department of Labor’s website at http://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/substance_abuse_testing/index.html to ensure that they are following appropriate state and federal law. While supervisors may attempt to spot impairment, it most likely will be co-workers who see potentially unsafe behavior. Everyone at work needs to feel safe in reporting impairment for the welfare of the violator, themselves and others. Employment guidelines also need to be clear about reporting impairment including confidentiality. The Maine Department of Labor’s SafetyWorks division will be conducting four impairment training sessions in 2017 and can add more if demand warrants. For more information about their training topics, click here. Also sign up at their web site for automatic notifications. From an insurance perspective, be sure you are comfortable with your employment practices liability limits relative to your operations and assets. In addition, because you cannot ask a job applicant about their drug use, be certain your offer of employment includes conditions such as a drug test or other behavior that can be disclosed under the law. Finally, stay informed and reference only those blogs or web sites that have a verifiable authority who has produced the content. Managing your workforce, workplace safety and liability should not be a matter of speculating about best practices....
Insurance News / 18.01.2017

Article by Kerry Peabody, CSA, CLTC Senior Account Executive I stopped in to visit a new memory care community in my area yesterday. As an agent who specializes in long term care insurance, it’s important that I know what resources are out there for my clients, so I do this often. The marketing director was happy to take a few minutes to show me around. She explained that, although they just opened earlier this month, they’re already more than half full, and reservations for the remaining 30+ units are coming in quickly. As with most new memory care or assisted living communities, it’s a very nice place. High ceilings, crown moulding, lots of pastels, nice, open living spaces, gardens, public and private dining rooms, gym, salon, etc. As part of the monthly cost, they provide three meals a day, scheduled transportation, laundry, weekly housekeeping, social programs and activities, and (this is where it stops sounding like a hotel) up to an hour of personal care services per day, with more available as needed. Their goal is to provide a secure, safe home for their residents, all of whom have memory/cognitive issues – some mild, some more severe. “But,” you ask, “this place must be expensive?” Well, it does cost a fair amount, yes, but it’s not expensive, when you think about what you’re getting. This is a memory care community, not an apartment complex. A resident with cognitive issues can move freely around inside this community, experience all it offers, inside and out, and his or her family doesn’t have to worry about them wandering off into the forest, overdosing on medications, under-dosing, setting the kitchen on fire – or being alone and frightened. How much does all of this peace of mind cost? I’m in New England, where all LTC services are higher than in many parts of the country. In this community, a private studio apartment starts at $6,800 per month. “But I can rent a 2-bedroom house for $1,400 a month,” you say. Sure you can – but you’re not 82-years-old with memory problems, are you? Let’s put this in context. Mom’s 82. She owns her own home, but she’s cognitively impaired to the point where she can’t be alone. CAN’T is the key word here. You have no choice; mom needs to be safe. You live six-hundred miles away. You could hire 24/7 help for her, through a local home care agency. Companion care, here in my state, costs about $25 per hour. So, $25 per hour, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, that totals roughly $219,000 per year, or $18,250 per month – nearly triple the cost of the studio apartment in the memory care community. Let’s cross that off of our list, shall we? Option two? Hire a full-time, private duty nurse to live with her. Of course, he or she will want benefits, vacation time, etc. And in the event of sick day, it’ll be up to you to deal with a replacement for that day, or days. And as an employer, you’ll need to manage all the associated minutia – tax reporting, social security, etc. Unless, of course, you just hire on a 1099 basis, but then the live-in nurse will need to build in the extra cost for providing all of his or her own benefits, retirement, etc. So, again, you’re looking at, easily, $150K or more. Maybe this isn’t such a great idea, either. Or, perhaps Mom can come and live with you. She’ll only be giving up all of her friends and the sense of independence that comes with being in her own place. You and your spouse and kids will need to adjust to having a live-in parent who needs 24/7 supervision. Between all of you, you can probably do a pretty good job of keeping an eye on her. Of course, you’ll have to secure the house at night, help with her medications, get her to appointments, etc. If you want to go on vacation you’ll either need to take her with you, find a respite care facility where she can stay, or have someone else come to keep an eye on her while you’re gone. $6,800 per month might not be so bad, right? Maybe now you’re leaning towards that community, but now she has to pay for it. Let’s say she has $2,000 per month of social security income. She has to come up with another $4,800 per month – a tall order. Hopefully she has some assets, so that’ll be the first place to turn. If she has a sizable nest egg, she’ll use that – CDs, money market accounts, investments, annuities, etc. But if that runs out, what’s next? Consider this – Mom’s moving to the memory care community full time, it’s pretty much a given that she won’t be going home, so the house – worth $250,000 – can be sold if necessary. If mom has substantial savings, you can take your time. If she doesn’t, you’ll need to get to that money fast, so you’ll sell low for $200,000. That provides enough to make up the $4,800 per month difference for about 3.5 years. But, if she outlives that, she’d be falling back on her savings – or yours – to cover the costs. This is where some insurance planning would have made a big difference. What if, when she went into the memory care community, she’d had a long term care insurance policy that paid $4,000 per month? Now, she has her $2,000 income, and another $4,000 of LTC benefits. With that, she has just an $800 per month shortfall that she has to cover out of her savings. If her LTC policy pays for 36 months she’d only be using $28,800 of her own money to cover her share – that’s a lot better than the $172,800 she’d be paying without the insurance. This doesn’t cover everything, but it gives the family time to sell the house for what it’s worth, and it gives them time to get an attorney involved to plan for what happens when the LTC insurance runs out, if she happens to outlive it. If she had purchased that long term care policy when she was 65, it would have cost her (using today’s rates) roughly $1,400 per year. Over 17 years, she paid $23,800 in premiums, but over the three years she collects benefits, it will pay out $144,000, and it will keep her from spend her own assets on her care. But that only works if she had done her planning for this years ago, while she was still healthy. It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? But, the best time to start is now, so here’s some homework for you: 1) Keep watch for open houses at new memory care or assisted living communities in the area, or just call some and ask for the marketing director. Go check a few out. You’ll be quite pleasantly surprised at how nice these places are. Remember, this is a rapidly growing, extremely competitive market. If someone’s going to pay $4,000 to $7,000 a month for a studio apartment, it’s going to have to be a nice apartment. Ask them what level of care they provide. What amenities, including basic care, are included in the base rate? Can they contract for more care if needed? Can they bring in outside help if needed? Is there some level of need that would make them too disabled to stay there? 2) Talk to your parents about what they would like to have happen if they need help. Have they considered where they’d like to go if they can’t stay in their own home? What if only one of them needs care, will they both move to a community to stay together? (This is common.) Ask them what plans they’ve made. How will they pay for it? Do they have any insurance? Not an easy conversation, but one that’s easier to have now than later. 3) Start thinking about your own future plans, and ask yourself those same questions. 4) If you’re not sure about long term care insurance, in any of its current forms, find an agent in your area who really understands the products, and who can help you make an informed decision. Your plan may or may not include insurance, but you owe it to yourself and your family to make a decision based on facts. Call some local estate planning or elder law attorneys, or fee-only financial planners and ask them who their clients use for LTC insurance planning. This is one of the hardest things you and your family will ever have to deal with, but the best approach is to tackle it proactively, now, while everyone’s as young as healthy as they’re ever going to be. Plan now, while you have options, and time. If you wait until Mom or Dad is in the middle of a crisis, you have far fewer, and much less attractive options. Good luck! – Kerry Peabody, kerry.peabody@clarkinsurance.com, (207) 523-2253...

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