5 Thanksgiving Fire Safety Tips

5 Thanksgiving fire safety tips

It’s the holiday season, there’s some snow, or ice, or rain, or it’s just plain ol’ cold outside and you’re sitting comfy in your home.  You’re snuggled up in a nice soft blanket and sipping on some hot coco. After all, it’s cold outside.  The last thing on your mind is a fire starting inside or outside your home.  Unfortunately, fire safety doesn’t take any time off during the holidays.  Here’s some quick tips to help you prevent a fire during this holiday season!

  1. If you’re planning on starting up that fireplace, you’re going to need to take a few steps before you light it up.  First, if your fireplace has glass doors, open them up about 20 minutes before you light it up.  With the doors open, the air can warm up and begin to draft upwards.  Second, check the draft using a match.  If air is going down your flue you should NOT start your fire. 

    fireplace

  2. Decorations are flammable.  Shocking, I know.  So, before you plug in anything, be sure there aren’t any flays in the cords, and that they’re not next to a space heater or stove top. 
  3. Double check that space heater.  Space heaters generally need to be about 3 feet away from anything that could be flammable.  This includes your furniture, rugs, bedding, couch, chairs, pretty much anything.  Also, don’t plug it into a power strip or extension cord; if you have to, ensure that the cord is properly rated and sized for your heater. 

    space heater

  4. Did you buy a deep fryer for your turkey this year?  If so, you’re going to need to go through a pretty hefty checklist to make sure you’re not going to start a fire, or hurt yourself.  Butterball has a pretty great guide on this.   

Even though a home fire may seem out of the possibility, that it could never happen to you, it is always important to be both vigilant and prepared.

Why Your Health Insurance Broker Doesn’t Care About You

Three Things you should know about Group Health Insurance

health care costAs a business owner, you want to provide your employees with a great health plan, problem is: it’s expensive.  So, you talk to your health broker and see what kind of plans they can offer you, assuming that they have your best interest in mind.  They don’t; for one simple reason: their priority is not getting you the best coverage at the most reasonable price, they just want to keep their commissions flowing.  Let’s take a moment and figure out what this means for a business owner looking at health care policies.  Here’s what they DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW.

1. Brokers are salespeople who profit by keeping their clients on health plans, while making a % of the premiums you are paying.  So, higher premiums means higher payouts for them.  They are under no obligation to have your best interests in mind, although some do.

health insurance brokers

2. You probably shouldn’t add company dental.  Instead, ask about self-funded dental insurance.  Because of dental’s low liability cap, usually about $1,000, you end up paying for coverage you don’t need when you opt for the company dental plan.

group dental plans

3. GAP coverage can turn your high deductible plan into a real winner.  GAP insurance partners with your group health care plan, and helps pay for out of pocket expenses when a claim is made.  Say an employee has a heart attack, and ends up with about $18,000 in medical bills.  With a standard plan, he might end up with about $6,500 out of pocket expenses.  With GAP insurance, he could receive a $10,000 critical illness insurance benefit, covering the out of pocket and ongoing treatment costs!
Learn more about GAP Insurance HERE.

GAP insurance

So, if you’re looking at your health insurance plan and wondering why your coverage is too expensive, has too high a deductible, or just want to take a second look; consider your options.  With monthly premiums on health insurance going up, an increasing amount of people are looking towards GAP plans to provide an extra safety net on their insurance.  Instead of having one medical card, you essentially have a secondary to help pay out of pocket insurance costs.

5 Thanksgiving safety tips

Thanksgiving safety tips

It’s that time of the year again, families are taking out their decorations, preparing their fridge, and getting ready to eat (way too much) of a delicious thanksgiving meal.  Here’s a few tips to make sure that your holiday goes off without a hitch!

 

1. While you’re cooking, take an extra minuteThanksgiving safety tips to make sure that there aren’t any pesky little hands looking for food.  Kids can get into almost anything, so be sure that pots aren’t too close to the counter edge!  

 

2. Ensure that you pots and pans on theThanksgiving safety tips stove have their handles pointed alongside the edge, not sticking out.  Handles sticking out over the edge can easily be knocked over, and no one wants to waste food, or get burned!  

3. Stand by your pan!  When cooking, you should never leave greasy foods or cooking oil unattended.  It may be tempting to take a breath in the living room after so much cooking, but unattended pans can quickly start a fire.

4. Defrosting takes longer than you may think.  If you’re cooking for a large crowd, you may have a pretty big bird ready to roast up.  A 20lb turkey can take up to five days to properly defrost!

5. Keep your knives sharp.  A dull knife is actuallyThanksgiving safety tips - keep your knives sharp! much more dangerous than a sharp one!  Before you begin cooking, take your knives to a professional sharpener, or use one of those handy do it yourself kits.

 

The holidays should be about celebration, and thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you have.  Don’t let a few common mistakes put a cloud over your festivities!

Happy holidays from everyone here at LCSB, we hope you have a wonderful time.

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Business Owners Policies Explained

A BOP, or Business Owners Policy is a specialized plan that includes coverage that is important for each business owner.  These Policies generally share some components for each business owner, but are then customized to each customer to ensure that they get coverage where their business needs it.  Business Owners need to be aware that even if they have a general umbrella policy for themselves, their business may still be at risk!  Let’s take a look at a few types of insurance commonly included in a Business Owners Policy.  Keep in mind the coverage options will vary for each business owner, and this article is more of a guideline.

General Liability.  General Liability coverage is the overall catch mechanic in a policy.  It helps protect your business if there is a physical injury, property damage, or personal injury that occur during the operations of your business.  Simply put, if something goes wrong with a person or your building, General Liability may help you out of a sticky situation.

Business Property Coverage.  This coverage is focused on protecting your building and the stuff inside of it.  For example, if there’s a fire or disaster inside your business, your property coverage may help you by covering the repair or replace costs.

Business Interruption Coverage.  Have you ever wondered what would happen if you couldn’t open your doors because there was a fire? How about a tornado? Or any multitude of disasters that could really ruin your day.  Business Interruption Coverage may give you a safety net to protect you from lost earnings or damaged merchandise.

In addition, you will have the option to include a multitude of other coverages that will be specific to your business, your needs, and your budget.  Things like Business Auto insurance, Data Compromise, Outdoor Property, and even Equipment Breakdown coverage are available.  If you’re unsure if you need a certain type of protection, speak to an agent about what would make sense for your business.

Worried about the cost of your business insurance?  The premium you pay will depend heavily on the type of business you have, the optional coverages you select, and the limits and deductibles you choose.  The best way to find out the best policy fit for you is to speak with an experienced agent to tailor fit exactly the coverage you need, at a price point you can afford.

Term Vs. Whole Life Insurance

Life insurance can be a complicated subject, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the benefits it may provide you.  Life insurance is about more than just your peace of mind, it’s about having financial security for your loved ones, to make sure that they are protected.  Let’s go over some of the options you have for life insurance, and find the plan that fits for you.  There are two main types of life insurance, term and whole life.

TERM LIFE

Term life insurance is similar to renting a car.  You own the life insurance for a period that you select, commonly in segments of 10 years, and are protected for that term.  This type of policy is commonly much cheaper than the whole life option, and may make sense if you are worried about not having the savings to protect your family during that term.  

When looking at term life, you should:

  1. Choose a term that makes sense for your financial goals.  You want to be aware of when you may be at risk, and at what point you will have the savings to feel comfortable.
  2. Choose a benefit amount that your family would need if you were no longer able to provide.  The payout would help pay for expenses you currently incur, as well as new expenses that may arise if you were no longer in the picture.

Ideally, you choose term life during periods where there may be heavy expenses and financial drain if your income was no longer in the picture.  

WHOLE LIFE

Whole life insurance is a bit more complicated, but don’t worry! The core benefit is about the same.  Whole life is, as the name suggests, a coverage option for lifelong protection.  This coverage is more than just a death benefit, the policy itself can be an investment as well.  With many whole life policies you are able to borrow money against the policy, or even surrender the policy for a cash benefit.

Benefits of Whole Life commonly include:

Locked in premium.  Your payments remain the same for as long as you live

Guaranteed benefit.

A cash value that will grow at a guaranteed rate for as long as you have the policy

Ideally, you choose whole life if you want a safety net that follows you as you age.  The ability to borrow money against the policy, as well as the guaranteed benefit and locked in premiums ensure that you are able to feel safe and protected.  

   

4 easy steps to self-inspect your home for fire risk

According to Cal Fire there have been over 6,000 wildfires reported in just 2017 alone.  These fires have burned 556,000 Acres of land all throughout California.  With this mass of wildfires burning in our backyards Californians are worried about their homes. 

Inspecting your home to determine fire risk is much easier than you may think.  With this article we will show you an easy 4 step process that will allow you to submit the information that insurance agencies need to determine if they are able to insure you.  This process will also allow you to identify areas in which your property could be improved to be more fire resistant.

  1. Walk the exterior of your home and identify any locations where brush is touching
  2. Take clear photos of all exterior staircases and each side of your home (it is important that these photos show the full sides of your home, including any hanging branches)
  3. Speak with an experienced Insurance Agent and send them the photos
  4. The agent will use the photos to determine fire risk and connect you with the proper homeowners insurance

Self-inspection is easy!  With these simple steps you have been set on track to make sure your home is better protected!  Remember, it doesn’t matter how near your home is to a fire hydrant, or even the number of fire stations in close proximity.  Even under ideal conditions and extremely fast response time by our amazing firefighters you home may still be classified as a High Brush Zone or Hazard Area.

Friends don’t let friends have the CA Fair Plan
Click Here

After you self-inspect your home the next step is finding an insurance plan that works best for you.  Homeowners that have been classified as high risk may believe that the CA Fair Plan is their only option, and in the past it has been.  However, specialized agents such as Robert Feldman are certified to offer specialized plans to high risk homeowners.

Coast To Canyon Now Open!

BBQ at MAR
Allstate Insurance

Robert Feldman, high risk insurance specialist, announces a new location that will be opening in Malibu on November 1, 2017.  Robert has been an agent with Allstate for over 18 years, and prides himself on providing personal service for the people in the communities he serves.  Robert and his Allstate team are among the very few agents in the state who are able to offer a superior insurance program that eliminates the need for the CA Fair Plan for single-family homes in Malibu.

Additionally, Robert’s Malibu agency, Coast to Canyon Insurance Services, is one of the few in California that specializes in difficult to insure homes that have been refused coverages by other carriers. Many homeowners aren’t even aware of the extensive gaps in coverage that exist in their current policies.  This is why, Robert’s agency strives to educate homeowners and real estate professionals in such areas, rather than just selling them an insurance policy.

 

Coast To Canyon – LCSB Malibu

 

“Friends don’t let friends have the CA Fair Plan!”

-Robert Feldman

 

This is Robert’s favorite expression.  Not your typical insurance agent, Robert is high energy, passionate, and is an influential part of the Allstate family.  Robert is always happy to provide information to groups who want to learn a little more about risk management and the possible gaps in their insurance coverages, for both their homes or businesses.

Robert Feldman at MAR BBQ

“People call me all the time with tricky insurance questions, and we investigate these for them. We can usually help, as we have access to insurance policies through unique insurance carriers.  If our agency cannot be of assistance, we have a great referral network, and can put them in touch with another industry expert.”

         –Robert Feldman

 

Visit Robert Feldman and Team of Associates at their NEW OFFICE in Malibu!

Allstate Agency: Coast to Canyon Insurance Services

29170 Heathercliff  Road #C  Malibu, CA 90265

(855) 876-3776

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Why Every Real Estate Professional Should Be a Corporation

As an Agent working for a brokerage you are considered an independent contractor.  You are missing out on tax savings and protection for your personal assets.  Since brokerages give you a 1099 form instead of a W-2 you are considered an independent contractor, this means that as far as the government is concerned you are the sole owner of your real estate business.  So, what does that mean?

Risks of Sole Proprietorship

Personal Possessions.  As a sole proprietor business type all of your personal possessions are at risk if there are any legal actions taken against you or your employees.  This includes your home, personal income, retirement accounts and more.  By forming your business into an LLC you gain protection for your assets, but not in all the ways you might hope.  Unfortunately, since you still operate through the BRE as an individual your assets are not safe if you are the one making the mistake.  However, you gain protection if your employees are the subject of a lawsuit.

For example, if you have an assistant showing an open house that is negligent of proper care which results in damages to the property.  Without incorporation you could be held liable for any damages that are not covered or partially covered by your brokers insurance, if you are a corporation in this situation your personal assets are no longer at risk.

Benefits of LLC / S-Corp

Tax Savings.  One of the largest advantages of being an LLC and paying taxes as an s-corp is the tax savings.  Essentially, as an s-corp you end up paying taxes on less of your income.  Instead of paying a self-employment tax on all of your profits, you pay tax on your salary with the rest of the income being distributed as dividends to yourself.

IRS Audit Risk.  Sole Proprietors are the MOST AUDITED BUSINESS TYPE.  No matter how in-order your taxes and business filings are, an audit is always a pain.  According to an article from 2011, the Wall Street Journal found that s-corps are ten times less likely to be audited by the IRS compared to sole proprietors.

Flood Damage: What You Need to Know

Floods are the most common and costly natural hazard in the nation.  They are an even greater risk if there have been recent wildfires in the area.  With the recent fires in California we are at heavy risk,  normally vegetation will absorb rainfall and reduce the amount of rain that makes it directly to water flow channels.  After a wildfire the land is barren, and unable to absorb water. This creates conditions where the soil is not anchored, meaning that there is a high risk of mud-flows and flash floods.

Just a few inches of water can cause massive amounts of damage.  According to FEMA, the average flood claim in 2010 was approximately $28,000.  Homeowners quickly found out that their standard homeowner’s policy did NOT cover flood damage.  Without flood insurance these residents were forced to pay out of pocket to repair their possessions, or to give up on them entirely.

It is extremely important to assess your risk when evaluating what kinds of insurance you should have.  Homeowners living in high fire risk areas are also very vulnerable to flooding.  Brick and mortar houses will likely suffer less overall damage in the case of a flood to their exterior, but are still likely to have large costs associated to the interior of their homes.  Additionally, floods often leave behind more than just water.  It is common for floods to bring in dirt, microorganisms, silt, and sediment that can do more than hurt the visual appeal of your home.  

After a flood you must assess the damages to your home.  Since floods are not only water, there comes additional dangers when your house is affected.  Silt and sediment can create problems in your appliances, electrical system, and lighting fixtures that will make them not only impossible, but dangerous to use.

Wildfire Warnings Throughout Southern California, How to Protect Your Home

After a drought-busting winter at the end of last year firefighters are predicting a bad fire season due to the increase of brush growth that blanked the mountains and foothills.  This combined with the lack of heavy rain in recent month’s means dry hills that are waiting for a small spark to ignite.  This is leaving California residents wondering: How do I keep my home safe?

Keeping your home safe consists of a few key steps:

  1. Preparation
  2. Maintenance
  3. Safety

Preparation

The area surrounding your home is going to be the key factor when a wildfire is burning through.  Clearing combustible debris from around the house such as dry grass, brush, and firewood will go a long way.  In addition, if you have a wooden fence or deck that expand into brush consider clearing them, giving them a larger clearance space, or replacing them with more fire resistant materials. 

Defensible space is the key term.  This means clearing out at least 30 feet from your home with concentric rings of fuel reduction set further out.  The clearer the area around your room the higher chance there is for a fire crew to be able to protect it.

Maintenance

After you’ve done your prep work it is important to stay vigilant.  Ensure that your preparation stays current and that your defensible space is clear.  Additionally, keep your home maintained.  This means clearing your gutters of fallen leaves and evaluate your roofing materials.  Remember, upkeep of these areas could prevent that fatal spark from igniting onto your home.

Safety

Despite your best efforts it’s possible that the wildfire is simply too difficult for our brave firefighters to contain.  This means evacuating when given the order.  However, defense doesn’t stop here.  With specialized homeowner insurance policies such as Northlight you can opt-in to receive Phos-Chek home defense at no additional cost.  This defense system has a specialized team spray your home with a fire retardant that is the same product used by the United States Fire Service in their air tankers.  Even leaving your home behind you can know that you have done everything possible to keep your possessions safe.

Phos-Chek Home Defense