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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Schneider’

ImageBy Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

It’s that time of year when new jewelry will be gifted and new artwork, antiques and other collectibles purchased. Every year, collections grow, yet new purchases are often never added to the insurance policy. 

So, here is a suggestion: Take out that new I-Phone and snap a picture of those purchases you wish to insure. Set up an electronic file with the picture, description of the item, any unique qualities to the stone, along with current valuations. New items will often come with such a description—or you can seek the guidance of a professional to assist you (see below).  Keep your file updated and set an annual “task” to review this list and to send any changes to your insurance advisor.  

And—speaking of appraisals—how does one go about finding an appropriate expert to establish a proper value for fine jewelry, artwork, and other important collections?  Chubb Insurance recently published helpful hints for hiring an appraiser, and this information is linked here for your review: https://www.chubb.com/personal/tipsAndTools_Valuables.jsp

A quick overview:

  • Obtain a recommendation from a trustworthy source, such as a reputable dealer or collector and look for professionals who are members of regarded professional organizations, such as the Appraisers Association of America, American Society of Appraisers, or the International Society of Appraisers
  • Evaluate the level of experience of each appraiser. Is this professional new, or well established in their field?
  • Ask for a professional resume and ask for references
  • Always confirm the fee structure upfront. Fees should be based on an hourly, daily, or set rate, and never based on the value of the appraised item

A little work completed before the claim can save you from tremendous headaches (and heartache) after the claim. 

Steve Schneider can be contacted at Steve.Schneider@CentralBancorp.com

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

ImageThe hail storm has passed…now what? It is difficult to determine from the ground whether roof damage has occurred. Most times, a professional roofing contractor is required to make that determination. The roofer will look for “bruising” of the asphalt shingle, granule loss or damage to the edges of the shingle, and actual penetration or holes. For tile and wood shake roofs, the contractor will look for splitting or cracks, and can often repair the individual shingles, rather than a full roof replacement. You may find shingles lying around your property, which is a good indicator that a more in-depth inspection is needed.

Damage to automobiles is easier to spot and—in many cases—easy to fix. Should you have damage to your car, contact your insurance agent to discuss the next steps. This will usually entail taking the vehicle to two or three reputable auto body repair facilities for estimates. Be patient, as your insurance carrier will be swamped with storm-related calls and may take up to 48 hours to contact you. Your agent should be there to assist you if your insurance carrier becomes unresponsive.

Finally, large hail storms will attract “storm chaser” roofing contractors. Be very careful here because most are not experienced roofers and will be very difficult to track down should their workmanship be poor. Most are uninsured, creating additional liability exposures for you as a homeowner. Always work with your agent and insurance carrier to find reputable roofing contractors.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

ImageEntrepreneurs invest their personal capital to start and build businesses. They write personal checks to make payroll, to fund equipment expenditures, and pay operating costs. They put their own money at risk in hopes of an acceptable return on their capital. Historically, investment risk taken by the successful entrepreneur has been rewarded by increased profits and a long-standing business venture. Those who opened businesses were lauded for their propensity and willingness to incur risk and for their commitment to community and growth.  

Not so much today. In this political season, entrepreneurs are painted as greedy or labeled as Wall Street “fat cats” In reality, most entrepreneurs across the USA are Main Streeters, like you and me. They sit across from friends and neighbors in local churches and restaurants. They get up each morning to work another day–to make a product or provide a service, train or manage staff, attempt to smartly grow a business, and to participate in and enrich a community. Each day across our country, entrepreneurs incur risk and employ others with no guaranty; only the hope of their own success.

On January 1, 2013, the financial success these entrepreneurs seek–the economic reward they pursue by putting personal capital at risk—will be severely diminished. Ordinary income tax rates for many small business owners in the highest tax bracket will increase by over 10%. A new 3.8% Medicare Tax (Obamacare) will be applied to certain investment income, such as dividends and interest income. Capital gains on investments will be taxed at a rate 30% higher than in 2012. Income derived from stock dividends will be taxed as ordinary income, rather than the current 15% tax rate – a whopping +400% increase for those in the highest tax bracket.  All this after the company itself has paid up to 35% of its income in corporate taxes. 

So what’s the big deal? Those doing well should “pay their fair share,” right? We can always debate whether tax rates of 40% income, 35% corporate, 23.8% capital gains, 40% dividend income, and 55% estate (death) are “fair.” The question today is: “Would you write a personal check to start a business, knowing that almost half of what you earn over time will go to the federal government in the form of taxes?”  Or stated another way, “Would you invest your own money to grow a business and employ more people and take more risk, knowing that upon the sale of your business the increased value derived from your investment and sweat equity will be substantially taxed, and, to add further insult, that upon your death more than half of the remaining value might also go to Washington, rather than to your heirs?” 

If you are curious why the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, why GDP growth is anemic, and why many of our best and brightest college graduates remain unemployed, you need only put yourself in the position of an entrepreneur and ask – “Would I write that check?”

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Contributed by: Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

Because they are more likely to travel, own second homes, host fundraising and other events in their homes, and drive expensive vehicles; affluent families and individuals have greater exposure to loss. Personal insurance for the affluent, such as homeowner’s, personal auto, and coverage for valuables like jewelry, antiques, art, and gun collections, should be tailored to address these risks.

Specialized insurance programs tend to carry larger liability limits, higher deductibles, and broadened coverage than traditional insurance. Insurance companies specializing in the affluent market offer tailored coverage such as guaranteed home replacement cost coverage, ensuring that special features of the home are replaced with like kind and quality.

The review process itself should be approached like a business insurance review. The first review can feel a bit overwhelming, but it’s critical to understanding our clients’ exposures to loss in order to provide comprehensive solutions. I always emphasize the need for comprehensive solutions based on my experience seeing affluent families targeted for fraudulent claims and higher reward demands.

Claimants can now easily research you online and determine with some certainty that you have financial means. There aren’t many secrets these days. A few clicks of the mouse, and claimants (and their attorneys) can determine occupations, organizations to which you belongs, social engagements you attended and the like. Claim demands will be higher; making the need for high limits of insurance all the more important.

Tom Kammerer, Sales & Marketing Manager for Chubb Personal Insurance, stresses the importance of working with brokers and carries with this type of experience in affluent insurance coverage.

“Sometimes it takes a poorly-handled claim to make people see they need specialized help,” says Kammerer. “For our clients maintaining their lifestyle after a significant loss is important. Large, custom-built homes can take well over a year to replace. After large losses, we work with clients to help them find accommodations, replacement cars and other important personal affects they enjoyed prior to their loss.”

To protect from huge potential loss and headaches, the affluent should go through a review with their insurance broker and carrier once a year. High-end insurance carriers should delve deeply into client practices and ask questions about domestic staff (gardener, nanny, etc.), central alarm systems, valuable articles, and more.

So, yes, there is a difference when it comes to insurance for the wealthy! And I’d advise you not to wait and learn that lesson the hard way.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

This year has been a catastrophic one – and who pays for all of the damage and destruction we have been inundated with from Japan to Joplin?

Recently, one of our national insurance carriers announced a second quarter loss of over $350 million,  much of which was driven by the devastating storms of this past spring.  Total losses incurred by this company alone from these catastrophes were well over $1 billion, with an active hurricane season projected for the coming months.  Other insurance carriers have reported similar loss trends.  So how will this impact YOUR insurance renewal costs in the future?

A few pundits are predicting large increases, particularly in property lines of coverage and workers compensation.

We don’t share this broad-brush view for three simple reasons.

  1. Insurance carriers and reinsurers continue to sit on large capital reserves, even after said storms, earthquakes and floods.
  2. Competition is increasing with new players in the market, including small regional insurance companies, which continue to hunt for market share at the expense of large national carriers thus keeping rate increases in check.
  3. The demand for insurance, as measured by increases in client sales, payrolls and higher limits purchased, remains muted by our economic malaise.

Ultimately we see large amounts of capital chasing smaller and fewer insurance clients, which basic economics tell us will stunt significant increases in rate over the coming quarters.

Carriers are reporting roughly a 2% average rate gain, and while we will advocate on behalf of our clients for a better outcome, those insureds with poor loss history, poor risk management practices, or those located in storm-prone areas will likely face unpleasant renewal negotiations this summer and fall.

And my hedge – all bets are off should this hurricane season turn really ugly or we see the economy slip back into deep recession.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

Hunker down?

Ours is a unique vantage point.

We have the privilege of talking with clients and prospective clients from a myriad of industries – all pushing through a difficult economic climate.  Most are hopeful, others not so much.  A popular business “strategy” as of late seems to be hunker down and wait.  Waiting for the upcoming election, waiting for valuations to drop, waiting for valuations to rise, but waiting.

However, some recent conversations have led me to a series of entrepreneurs who are taking a different approach.  These business people have surveyed the environment and decided that NOW is the time.  They are contractors who have redirected their business into areas not before considered; accountants and auditors who are preparing for better times; young first-time business owners who have found a unique and exploitable niche from which to build a company.  Risks?  Yep.  Fear of the unknown?  You bet, but they are moving their businesses forward, and from these companies will spring our next generation of Colorado Springs business leaders.  It’s important for all of us who own and manage businesses here in town to take encouragement from, and to support where we can, these locally-owned companies.

In the not too distant future, said firms will be our customers, vendors, competitors, but most importantly, job and wealth creators.  We could use a lot more of that right now.

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