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5 health care predictions for the rest of 2018

In a recent New York Times interview, President Trump was quoted as saying the following regarding health plans:

“So now I have associations, I have private insurance companies coming and will sell private health care plans to people through associations. That’s gonna be millions and millions of people. People have no idea how big that is. And by the way, and for that, we’ve ended across state lines. So we have competition. You know for that I’m allowed to [inaudible] state lines. So that’s all done.”

Health policies in 2018 – 5 Predictions

Obamacare revisits

The fate of health policies is still relatively uncertain in 2018, with many people wondering if the Trump administration will continue to rollback Obama-era policies. Congress is said to be revisiting Obamacare this year, and it’s pretty likely that they will attempt a major overhaul of Obamacare in 2018.

Axios’s Sam Baker recently suggested that the tax bill increases the likelihood that the Republicans will work on healthcare-related policies this year. It is thought that repealing the individual mandate could negatively affect some state marketplaces, with insurers being reluctant to sell in places where fit and healthy people don’t have to buy coverage plans.

States trying to pass individual mandates

In response to new tax laws that no longer require American citizens to buy health insurance coverage, it is likely to many states attempt to pass state-level mandates in order to put this back into effect. Maryland, California, Washington State and the District of Columbia have already made noise about this. Though these efforts may not always work, it’s thought that some states may attempt to incentivize their citizens to buy insurance in other ways, such as via fines and higher premiums.

Big Medicaid changes

About six states want to make big changes to Medicaid policies. Medicare administrator Seema Verma has been reviewing these waivers for some time now, though she tends to support the changes the states want to make. In a recent speech at the National Association of Medicaid Directors, she has this to say:

“For people living with disabilities, CMS has long believed that meaningful work is essential to their economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, wellbeing, and improving their health. Why would we not believe that the same is true for working-age, able-bodied Medicaid enrollees?

Believing that community engagement requirements do not support or promote the objectives of Medicaid is a tragic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations consistently espoused by the prior administration. Those days are over.”

It looks likely that these waivers will be approved this year and that Medicaid will see some serious overhauls. It seems very likely, for example, that low-income Americans will be required to work in order to receive their federal health care benefits.

CHIP “may” get funded

States’ health programs for low-income kids may very well be shut down (or suddenly funded) in 2018. Its future very much hangs in the balance, though repealing CHIP would not exactly be a good PR move for state and federal governments.

CHIP has been a bipartisan health care program historically, something which cannot be said about the somewhat contentious Affordable Care Act. Though Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who chairs the influential Senate Finance Committee, is a big CHIP supporter, its future remains unclear.

Health insurance expansion is tested out by a state

Liberals seem keen to expand public health coverage, especially with continued Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Democratic senators, for example, are continually supporting a Medicare-for-All bill. State legislatures are also being watched though, with some states expressing interest in finding ways to expand public health coverage.

Nevada, for example, nearly enacted the US’s first Medicaid buy-in, which would’ve allowed Nevada state residents to buy coverage through the program which is usually limited only to low-income American citizens. Their plan passed the Nevada legislature, though Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, vetoed it.

Medicaid buy-ins are gaining steam, however, as candidates in states such as Colorado and Connecticut campaign by promoting the notion of Medicaid buy-ins to voters who may want them. State legislators in Washington State are also said to be exploring a Nevada-esque buy-in bill.

States tend to act as experiment grounds for health policies, with many states often “testing out” policies that may or may not be looked at by the federal government in time to come. The Affordable Care Act, for example, was largely based on the Massachusetts 2006 health care expansion. It seems like Nevada-esque bills may become more and more common in the near future, as the federal government looks for state “experiments” to model potential nationwide healthcare policies on.

Interested in learning more about the future of healthcare? Get in touch today and speak to one of our knowledgeable team members!

Tips on how to lower car insurance rates in 2018

Car insurance rates can be crippling, especially if you’re young, have been caught up in accidents, or if you’re not able to afford to latest state-of-the-art car with futuristic safety features. Though car insurance premiums can be a pain to pay, here we offer you 8 tips on lowering your car insurance rates in 2018.

1. Car insurance discounts

There are numerous discounts which you may be entitled to with your auto insurance, here are but a few examples!

LOW MILEAGE – Do you drive less than 7,500 miles per year? You may get a 5-15% discount on your car insurance! Some insurance companies even offer discounts if you do some of your travel via public transport such as buses or subways.

MULTI-CAR DEALS – You may see 10-25% discounts on your comprehensive, collision, and liability premiums if you have more than one vehicle on the same insurance policy.

MODERN CAR DISCOUNTS – Does your car have airbags, anti-lock brakes, and automatic seat belts? Perhaps it has tracking systems and anti-theft alarms? You could see discounts from 5-30% depending on how modern and safe or thief-proof your car is.

2. Complete a traffic course

You can often see a 5-15% discount if you take a traffic course to improve your driving skills. The eligibility for these tests varies from state to state, however. Traffic school courses are usually 4 to 6 hours long, and can be done online, in person, or via a mixture of the two. They often set you back around $25 to $75, though you’ll make that back in discounts quickly. You may remove points from your record for minor traffic violations, though you can’t get this AND a discount. New York, however, is an exception to this rule.

3. Watch your credit report closely

Auto insurance companies take many factors into account when calculating your premiums, and your credit history is one of them. Some states have made this illegal, but in many, it remains a legal and common practice. Pay your bills on time and maintain a decent credit rating; it will help you to seem low-risk and therefore help to keep your car insurance rates down. The difference in auto insurance rates for “good credit” drivers and “poor credit” drivers is a staggering 67%.

4. Be a safe driver

It sounds so obvious, but it’s true. People with no traffic violations or accidents get lower insurance rates (over time) as they are simply presenting themselves as low-risk (i.e. safe) drivers. A single speeding ticket can increase your auto insurances rates 11-13%, so why take the risk with your life and your insurance premiums?

5. Invest in a safer car

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Safety Ratings Page (long name) contains a list of all the safety ratings for various cars, taking multiple factors into account. Prioritize safety ratings when you buy a new car, as you’ll likely decrease your insurance rates and better protect your own life!

6. Discounts for paying in full

You can usually see a 5-10% discount if you pay your car insurance premium in full, rather than spreading the payments out over an extended period. Though many people cannot afford to do this straight away, it could save you hundreds of dollars over the year.

7. Evaluate what you really need from your policy

Do you really need comprehensive and collision coverage? Vehicles that are worth less than $3,000 or less than 10 years old simply don’t require these forms of coverage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, getting rid of comprehensive and collision coverage (assuming you don’t need them) could save you around $660 per year on average.

8. Compare the market

As with any form of insurance, you should be sure to compare the rates, policies, and details of different insurers. Auto insurers have slightly different methods of ascertaining how much you will pay, so one insurer could happen to see you in a much more favorable light than another.

Among the myriad of circumstances used to calculate your auto insurance rates, your insurance could significantly drop (or spike) if you get married, move house, have an accident, buy a new car, or add a young driver to a household policy.

Consider taking the customer service ratings (and customer reviews) of the insurers into account when making your decision, as insurance companies are notorious for wanting to escape paying out whenever they can. Evaluate what is most important to you, what price you’re willing to pay, and what excess you’re willing to pay, assuming it is applicable. It pays to compare competing companies!

Looking for more help with lowering your car insurance rates? Get in touch today and we’ll be able to help you with a personalized plan which aims to lower your auto insurance rates for good.

6 Steps to Take Following a Vehicle Collision

Vehicle collisions happen each day to drivers of all ages. They are part of life in big cities and small towns. Knowing the correct actions to take following an auto collision can have a lasting impact on insurance premiums and possible legal repercussions. Take the correct measures to stay protected. Here are 6 steps to take following a vehicle collision:

1. Get to Safety

The action to take following an auto collision is getting to safety. Depending on the situation, this could mean moving a vehicle safely to the shoulder or exiting the automobile immediately. Always place safety as the top priority above all else. Create distance from moving traffic and other hazards before moving ahead.

2. Evaluate for Injury

A vehicle collision sends the adrenaline response into overdrive. Shock can distract from injuries. Check for personal injuries and encourage all others involved to do the same. If any back or neck injuries are suspected, immobilization is recommended. Any medically trained personnel can perform first aid if the situation allows.

3. Contact First Responders

After moving to safety and applying immediate first aid, call 911 and request aid. This is recommended any time there’s a vehicle collision, regardless of severity. Injuries may take days or longer to appear. Additionally, insurance carriers may reference official records following a vehicle collision.

4. Collect Information

With safety and first aid under control, it’s time to collect pertinent information from the people involved. More than driver name and car insurance carrier, thoroughly record the scene. Take photographs of the vehicles, damage, and the scene. Speak to the first responders to gather any relevant information. Trauma can affect short-term memory. Record responses for simple reference and accuracy.

5. Be Cooperative 

Following a vehicle collision, you may be in a heightened state of emotional response. This can make it challenging to be cooperative with other drivers and first responders. Other drivers are likely energized as well and may be challenging to communicate with. Be part of the solution.

6. Exercise Neutrality

One of the first gut responses following a vehicle collision or other trauma is talk it out. It’s perfectly natural yet following a vehicle collision a casual remark may cause trouble. After a vehicle collision, stay neutral with other drivers, witnesses, and responders. This includes remaining silent on social media channels. Inadvertently admitting fault may lead to increased insurance premiums and more.

Afterward, contact an insurance agent to report the collision and begin a claim. Agents are ready to help overcome vehicle collisions so you can get back on the road. Auto collisions are equal-opportunists and can happen anywhere. Prepare with comprehensive auto insurance and drive protected.

Personal Auto Policy Voided Because of Business Driving

Entrepreneurs utilizing personal vehicles for business may want to consider extra insurance protection. Making deliveries and service calls with personal vehicles may limit insurance coverage. This can be true for accidents while working or while on personal business. A local small business owner learned this the hard way. On the way to visit a friend there was a collision resulting in significant damage to the vehicle. Although her personal policy would generally cover the damages the insurance company denied the claim. Personal auto insurance policies extend to protect many small business owners yet in some cases, vehicles employed for specific commercial purposes may be excluded from coverage.

Most small business owners are protected under personal auto insurance policies. In some cases though, the commercial purpose for the vehicle may limit or forfeit coverage. For cars and trucks performing deliveries, equipped with commercial license plates, carrying passengers and emergency vehicles extra insurance coverage is necessary. In this case, the driver owned a small business selling heaters and a small part of that included deliveries.

The owner recently switched insurance carriers online to save money. Checking the box during the quotation process, they reported 30% of the vehicle mileage related to business purposes. Reviewing the insurance claim and the business services after the collision, the claim and repayment were denied. Shocked, the business owner learned the limits of personal auto insurance protection too late. This leaves the owner with a damaged personal and business vehicle, without compensation from the auto insurer.

Business owners mixing personal and business trips with the same vehicle may want to consider extra insurance protection. For more information on personal and commercial auto insurance policies contact an agent. We’re always keeping up with insurance-related topics that may impact health or wallet. For any questions about insurance, call anytime for answers.

Making Workers Safe With Guardrails

Construction sites are active environments. Active transfer of people and materials creates the potential for anything to happen. Site safety is a regulated industry. Safety standards and guidelines in place by OSHA and the International Code Council help maintain site and worker safety

These agencies recommend safety measures developed following years of real-world learning. In the early 1990’s, builders discovered gaps in standardized building safety ordinances. By 1997, the ICC published the first international safety guidelines: the International Building Code (IBC). Alongside OSHA, these agencies set the standard for construction site safety measures.

ICC and OSHA regularly publish standards recommending guardrails on construction sites, keeping workers safe. These safety standards help keep workers safe and reduce insurance costs:

1. Guardrails for Construction Sites

Guardrails help prevent falls on construction sites for workers and visitors. Builders can seal-off areas and secure open walkways for safety. Construction guardrails are for securing:

  • Platforms
  • Stairs
  • Rooftops
  • Pits
  • Wells
  • Materials

Guardrails are required anywhere 30 inches or more separate two walking surfaces. Per ICC and OSHA regulations, rails are to be constructed of rigid materials built to a height of 42 inches above the platform. OSHA regulations stipulate areas separated by 6′ of difference or more be equipped with guardrails or fall-protection system.

2. Construction Site Guardrail Installation

Site guardrails are subject to OSHA and ICC guidelines on proper construction. Regulations for guardrail construction protect workers and visitors. Builders employing properly constructed guardrails:

  • Keep workers safe on constitutions sites
  • Keep visitors and passerby safe
  • Keep access limited to authorized persons
  • Keep insurance rates low
  • Keep building costs low
  • Keep construction companies operationally compliant

Properly constructed guardrails built to code limit builder insurance and legal obligations. This translates to saved time and reduced costs for construction companies and builders alike. Load requirements are determined by architectural design. The forces and stress-levels specific to a site determine guardrail load limits.

3. Guardrail Load Requirements

OSHA and the ICC set guardrail load requirements for the construction industry. Load requirements may vary due to the site and architectural layout. Construction site guard rail general load limit guidelines express rails be able to support:

  • 50lbs of weight per foot
  • 200lbs of direct force, anywhere rails are present

Rails may shift during building, and wear-and-tear is a part of guardrail construction. Regular inspection of guard rails by site managers and safety personnel helps keep rails safe and compliant.

4. Staying Compliant

Construction companies and builders following the guidelines in place by OSHA and the ICC will avoid penalties and fines. Local authorities enforce construction site safety. Each governing body has authority to issue fines and other reprimands for non-compliance. Repeat violations result in increased severity of penalties. Fines may reach as high as $100,000 per violation.

Construction companies also have the moral obligation to workers for creating a safe work environment. Builders work on reputation, among other traits. Companies holding positive reputations and safe track-records are much more likely to secure bids and contracts. Safe employees can perform better knowing the site is safer, keeping building and insurance costs low.

Construction and insurance topics directly affect health and pocketbook. Topic suggestions are always welcome. Contact an agent for any insurance-related questions or for an insurance quote.

One Insurance Mis-Step Can Risk Your Business

In 2008 Leo Welder started ChooseWhat.com. Within a year he was being sued by J2 Global for using the term “e-fax”. It was totally out of the blue and unexpected. Sadly, he found his insurance didn’t protect him from this claim. Yes, he purchased insurance but was missing coverage for intellectual property litigation.

Both companies eventually settled but only after Mr. Welder had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. (How many startups have that amount of capital freely available?)

After the lawsuit, Mr. Welder decided to add an E&O policy to help protect his company from these concerns.

No matter how smart you are or how diligent you are in caring for your clients, you can still find yourself in legal and economic problems. However, even with these concerns, many startups haven’t investigated getting necessary insurance for their risk profile. (Typically because they are either trying to save money or as an oversight.)

The critical thing to understand when contemplating risk management is that problems arise from gaps in protection. With that in mind, here are recommendations from business owners and insurance experts to avoid liability problems in a business.

Cover All Your Bases

Every organization needs basic liability insurance coverage. This can protect your business from a huge number of costs from libel to customer injuries. The average liability plan is one of the least expensive types of insurance protection you can own.

Most business owners admit that they avoid insurance to keep costs low. The question to ask… is it worth it? Be sure to talk to your insurance agent and review any needed changes for your risk profile.

Here are some areas of risk to ponder:

* Do you have company cars?
* Do you or employees drive personal cars for business related activities?
* Do you attend trade shows?
* Do you store client data online?
* Is your company dependent on a key employee?

The list above is an example of what an insurance advisor will walk through with you. What you’ll end up investing in insurance is going to depend a great deal on your specific risks. (If you run a business that has low liability footprint such as copywriting or consulting you’ll have a different risk profile than if you are a construction contractor.)

If you are just starting your business, take a close look at Business Owners Plan. This could include some or even all of these policies into one affordable package. In order to qualify, you’ll probably need to have a business that employs less than 100 workers and has less than $5 million in annual sales. These policies are designed specifically for start-up companies and smaller companies. They work to decrease your risk to lawsuits.

Important: Update Your Policy As Needed

Your company is always changing and insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Be sure your insurance coverage keeps pace.

If your business size rapidly changes, if your employee count changes, if your services change… all of these are reasons to review your insurance.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a statistic. Yes, one insurance misstep can potentially damage your business. The good news is one call to our team can help you understand your risk profile and help you be certain you have the exact coverage you need for your company.

Quick Life Insurance Review

How Examining Your Current Insurance Policy Can Save You Money

The costs of things usually increase with inflation, but the rates of life insurance has experienced the opposite effect. Lately, some rates have actually decreased. If you haven’t shopped for life insurance within the past decade, it may be time to see if you can save some money. This is especially true is your health hasn’t changed since you got your old policy. Be sure to check with us as we may be able to find a comparable policy for a much better price.

The first step is to look over your existing policy. You may find that you initially didn’t get as much coverage as you needed. This could be true if you couldn’t afford to buy the insurance you needed. Of course, the opposite could be true as well. You may have originally secured a large insurance policy because your kids still lived at home. If the kids have now moved out and are independent, you may want to decrease the amount of your new policy.

Next, you want to see what options are available to you. There are many different types of life insurance such as term life, and whole life. Term insurance tends to be more affordable than the others. It allows you select a plan for a set number of years. The downside of term insurance is you may outlive your policy. If you are unsure which option is best, you want to spend some time going over the different options with your insurance professional.

Making a change to your life insurance policy may seem like a big deal. But we can help you through the process of getting the best deal based on your current circumstances. Of course there are many potential ramifications for making changes to your life insurance policy including potential tax issues. That’s why it is so important that you talk with your agent to get the best advice possible. And one last point… if you do make a change to your life insurance, be sure that you don’t cancel you old policy until your new one has gone into effect. You don’t want something happening in the gap between the two policies.

5 Key Actions in Case of a Ransomware Attack

Imagine this: you are seated at home working on your computer, either answering your email or polishing a work related presentation. Suddenly, a message blinks on your screen. The message curtly demands that you send cash to a certain destination, failure to which you will be unable to access any of the documents stored on your computer. You also discover that your keyboard has become unresponsive. Logically, you decide to restart the computer. The screen comes right back on, but to your shock, you are still unable to access any of your files and folders. It dawns on you that your data has been remotely locked via a device on your network, and that no matter how much you try you cannot access it.

The above scenario clearly illustrates what happens in a typical ransomware assault. This has become an acute problem globally, with the WannaCry attack being the latest ransomware attack to affect the largest number of individuals on a worldwide scale. The victims are usually at a loss on what to do.

You can use a ransomware attack as a learning point, and consequently take measures to enhance your protection against similar attacks in the future. Here are five steps that you can take if you have been a victim:

1. Do not pay the Ransom Money

Internet security experts advise that it would be a disastrous mistake to pay off the aggressors. For one, it is an indicator that you have given up control of the situation to the attacker, and that you trust they will amicably resolve the situation. Honestly, this never happens. The aggressor is only interested in ripping you off. Once you pay the ransom, it is unlikely that they will unlock your documents. If in the unlikely event they do, be certain that they will see you as soft victim and mark you for repeated blackmail attacks. Giving in to the attackers’ demands also gives them the impetus to continue perpetrating further attacks on more victims.

Christopher Budd, a security supervisor for the electronics security firm Trend Micro, emphasized the above point in a business article he wrote last July. In the article, he advised victims of ransomware attack not to pay, but to keep in mind that they are handling bad guys. He reiterated that giving in would not guarantee that, as a victim, you would get back all your documents. It would only help the criminals perpetuate this criminal activity. As a worldwide communications threats expert, Christopher Budd definitely understands the pitfalls of giving in to the aggressors.

2. Use a Backup to Reinstall Your Files

Using a computer back up system comes with numerous advantages. Many people use computer backups to access their data in case the computer breaks down. In the same way, the backup will come in handy in case you fall prey to ransomware attacks. You will be able reinstall all your files and folders from the backup system, without having to refer to the aggressors. For this to be effective, ensure that you have set your system to automatically backup all the data that you handle via the computer. Once the backup system is well set, it will operate automatically and you do not have to keep thinking about it; unless something happens and you need to access the data.

3. Update Your OS and Anti-virus

It is important that you regularly update your OS and anti-virus with the latest versions. Microsoft is quite aggressive in addressing security concerns. Actually, the latest update of Microsoft’s Window 10 is fully secure against WannaCry -the latest global ransomware assault. There are several firms and individuals, however, who still use earlier versions of windows, or do not activate automatic updates on the later versions. These firms and individuals would not be protected in case an attack is imminent.

4. Engage the Services of Your IT Division or an Anti-Virus Firm.

The personnel in the IT department of your company may have the technical expertise to recover your data in case your computers are attacked. Inform them immediately you notice the problem, and allow them to try and salvage the situation. Conversely, you may opt to ask anti-virus companies to assist. There are some anti-virus software that could help, but do not peg most of your hopes on this.

5. Reformat Your Hard disk

This is a tough decision to make, because it means you will lose all your data. However, it is a good move compared to the alternative of giving in to the aggressors. So, if all the other solutions are not tenable, go ahead and reformat your hard disk and reinstall the OS. Take the entire ordeal of the attack as a lesson well learnt, and ensure to back up your data once you are back in business.

Importance of Identity Theft Protection

Of course, these kinds of attacks indicate that your computer has been violated. Attackers may have gotten access to important information from your system, in addition to holding it hostage. Just as it is important to protect your computers and devices with operating system updates and anti-virus / anti-malware software, it’s also important to protect your identity. Many carriers offer identity theft insurance endorsements on homeowners or renters insurance policies. Some also offer stand-alone identity theft protection options. If you are concerned about the financial implications of having your identity stolen, be sure to check with us for advice on your best options.

Watch Out For Being Over-Insured With These Handy Tips

Watch Out For Being Over-Insured With These Handy Tips

Here’s one of the core things we help our clients with. Understanding how to minimize personal economic dangers via insurance coverage. For example, the sudden death of a close relative can have a significant negative impact on your family’s financial well being. Having adequate life insurance can help address this. Your home might catch fire. Adequate homeowners insurance offers critical protection. And of course having appropriate auto insurance protects you from a loss in case your car is totaled.

It’s important to have insurance to protect against all of these different threats. But there is a cost to being over-insured… and not just in having a higher insurance premium. So here are a few tips to help you keep this from taking place.

Car insurance.

Having appropriate liability insurance on all your vehicles is critical. However, having collision and/or comprehensive insurance on a vehicle with a low resale value that’s also paid off isn’t helpful. Here’s a way you can test your need. If your car was in an accident could you afford to replace it without negatively impacting your finances? If yes, scrap the unnecessary coverage and pocket the savings.

Homeowners insurance policy.

Do you know how much it will cost to rebuild your home if it were to face devastation? This isn’t the same as what your home might be worth if you sold it tomorrow. Remember that the cost of land doesn’t factor into having adequate home insurance protection.

When you buy insurance for your home or condo, you are seeking the needed coverage in case the house (or a part of it) has to be replaced. This should be 1-for-1. For example, if you have a home that is carpeted, you wouldn’t pay for insurance that would replace the carpets with hardwood floors. When insurance is called upon, the coverage must be like-for-like. Making certain you have appropriate coverage can lower your total premiums.

Life insurance.

One of the biggest areas where folks are often over-insured is life insurance. Some folks view having a life insurance policy from a pride perspective. But do you really need a $1,000,000 policy? Carefully reviewing your needs is critical to avoid spending too much on life insurance. Having the right mix of insurance including term vs. whole can also offer savings.

Another thing to watch out for is costly riders. While there are too many to cover in detail here, riders add costs. It’s important to make certain that whatever riders you choose, they meet your unique needs.

Final Thoughts.

For the most part, being over-insured drives up the cost of premiums while offering you little genuine benefit. Eliminating these costs can help you save hundreds of dollars (or more) each year. Shifting these savings towards other goals such as investing can help you build financial security. This can include setting aside for college or retirement.

The best time to address insurance is when life circumstances change. Recently married? Having a child? Perhaps you’ve just received a big promotion? You may have won the lottery. Leverage these big life moments to be 100% certain you have adequate protection. As we review these life changes with you we’ll help you understand cost-savings opportunities. This includes making sure you avoid being over-insured. Contact us today for a complete review of your risk profile and insurance requirements.

Why Paying Attention to Mental Health Pays Dividends for a Small Business

Why Paying Attention to Mental Health Pays Dividends for a Small Business

Here’s a surprising statistic. In 61% of all work places, anxiety is present in a big way. In turn, this has a dramatic impact on substance dependency. The result is a less productive workforce that doesn’t offer its best to clients.

This is only one statistic from the 2016 Mental Health & Substance Abuse survey commissioned by the IFEBP. (The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans based out of Brookfield, Wisconsin.).

According to the survey, 94% of organizations reported that their employees are stressed. 67% additionally said that drug and alcohol abuse issues have been on the rise over the last five years. These are concerning numbers.

Given these issues, all companies (small and large alike) are encouraged to look at what may cause worker anxiety in the first place. For example, can simple changes in employee policy manuals and benefits packages can have a huge impact?
Look for employee policy changes that can reduce stress. For example, Netflix offers a common sense approach for allowing workers to use company phones for the occasional phone call. Same thing with making the occasional personal photocopy. Netflix treats these as small benefits. They make it a point to hire workers that they can trust to make smart decisions. In fact, Netflix pioneered employee policies that are commonly referenced in HR departments around the U.S. (link to https://hbr.org/2014/01/how-netflix-reinvented-hr)

Also, take time to review the benefits you offer with your Insurance professional. In fact one of the best things you can implement is an Employee Assistance Program. (link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employee_assistance_program)

Separate studies have found these programs increase employee productivity. They also lower overall medical costs while reducing absenteeism and turnover.

Another option is to offer health care benefits that include a mental health / substance abuse component. (Again, talk with your Insurance professional about options. They have the most up-to-date information and understand your specific requirements.)

Why consider incorporating substance abuse & mental health into existing benefits? Because anxiety isn’t the only issue facing employers and employees…

Here’s a breakdown of the issues survey participants cited and the percentage of those saying these issues were prevalent in their firms…

  • Alcohol addiction (49%)
  • Prescription drug abuse (33%)
  • Stress disorders (49%)
  • Sleep deprivation issues (33%)
  • Other psychological health issues (12%)

And just as important as having such benefits is making sure workers know they are available and that they are safe to leverage such benefits.

In fact 36% of survey participants noted that their companies could do a better job helping employees capitalize on benefits.

Employees who are fighting drug & alcohol abuse issues are in particular need of outreach programs. Many struggle in secret and fear admitting their problems will cost them their job.

By addressing these issues, small businesses are able to cut costs. These can include quality issues, productivity, hiring, training, and legal, etc.

And remember. As you ponder anxiety, employee policies, and mental health benefits, the impact is greater than your bottom line. You may save an employee for sure. But you may save a life and a family in the process as well.