Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Funding a Buy-Sell Agreement

One of the main concerns among business owners is what will happen upon the death of one of the owners. How will it affect not only the business, but the other owners and the heirs of the deceased owner? Surviving owners want to ensure the continuity of ownership and not risk having a large share of ownership fall into the hands of potentially inexperienced heirs of the deceased. In addition, they want to protect themselves, their family and the company financially. Your Lake of the Ozarks insurance agent is here to help you understand buy-sell agreements and how to fund them.

What is a Buy-Sell Agreement

These concerns can all be addressed with a buy-sell agreement. This is a contract among business owners that, upon the death of one of the owners, requires the remaining owners or the company itself to purchase the deceased's interest in the company according to the agreed upon terms of the contract. The heirs of the deceased are required to comply by selling their inherited interest at the previously agreed-upon price.

Ways to Fund a Buy-Sell Agreement

While Insure the Lake recommends taking out a life insurance policy to fund a buy-sell agreement, there are 3 potential ways to fund a buy-sell agreement:

1. Pay Cash 

Paying cash may require large sums of assets that may not be available. In some instances, the funds may need to come from personal or business assets. Either way, if any assets must be sold, will their fair market rate be readily available?

2. Borrow the Money

The loss of an owner, especially a key person, may impair the credit rating of the business. The principal PLUS all the interest must be repaid and could place a tremendous strain on the budget.

3. Purchase a Life Insurance Policy

The best way to fund a buy-sell agreement is through life insurance. This ensures that funds will be immediately available when a death occurs; plus, death benefit proceeds are generally income tax free. In addition, the funds used to buy the deceased's share are purchased for pennies on the dollar.

Benefits of Funding with Life Insurance

For the deceased owner's family, having a life insurance policy for the buy-sell agreement ensures their business is sold at a fair price. It provides a ready buyer for their business interest, cash to replace lost family income and cash to pay estate settlement costs. For the surviving business owners, having life insurance to fund the buy-sell agreement ensures continuity of business operations. It also provides means to buy out the deceased's business interest with income tax-free death benefit proceeds. This option removes heirs of the deceased from future involvement and may be the most economical funding method possible. Although an insurance agent can help you with the funding tool, be sure to consult with your tax and legal advisors when creating the actual agreement to make sure it is valid and follows the laws of your state.

Insure the Lake understands the complexities of buy-sell insurance policies and is here to help protect your business, your assets and your family! Your business is your financial future and our office will work with your business in order to provide you with the best insurance to cover your unique situation. Contact our Lake of the Ozarks insurance company today at 573-348-2794.

About the Author: Steve is a double back-flip insurance ninja. He was named Young Insurance Agent of the Year by the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents in 2010 and is a Certified Insurance Counselor. When he is not helping customers, he enjoys community service, Latin dancing with his beautiful wife and going on adventures with his two awesome sons.

Steve Naught, CIC

3736 Osage Beach Parkway
Osage Beach, MO 65065
Next to Golden Coral

T: 573-348-2794
F: 573-348-0191

Thursday, January 22, 2015

6 Steps to Take After an Auto Accident Occurs

A safe driver already takes steps to avoid accidents, for example, checking your blind spot, using turn signals and allowing enough distance between vehicles. No matter how careful you are on the road, auto accidents can still happen. As your Lake of the Ozarks insurance agent, I want you to know what to do next in this situation so you can stay calm and safe.  Here are 6 steps to take to give yourself peace of mind!

1. Do NOT leave the scene. 

The first thing you should do if you are involved in a car accident is to call the police. Never leave the accident scene until it's appropriate to do so. If you leave, particularly where someone was injured or killed, you can face serious criminal penalties for being a hit-and-run driver. Before assessing property damage, make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay. Seek medical attention for anyone who needs it. Don't move any injured people unless absolutely necessary. Direct other traffic around the accident.

2. Record Information. 

Be sure to trade all contact information among the people involved. Record names, addresses, phone numbers and driver's license numbers of all drivers. Write down descriptions and license plate numbers of all the cars involved.  Get names, addresses and phone numbers of all passengers and any witnesses as well. You will also want to get the name of the insurer and policy number of all drivers involved in the accident.  

3. Diagram the Accident. 

Make a diagram of the accident, showing all cars involved. If possible, take pictures, including the surrounding area traffic signs, lane markings and the damage to the vehicles involved. These photos will come in handy during the claim process.

4. Contact Your Insurance Agent. 

In addition to calling the police, you will want to contact your insurance agent at the Lake of the Ozarks too. Report the incident, providing as many details as possible. Regardless of the severity of the accident, it is important to keep you insurance agent in the loop. If any payments have to be made to you or anyone else involved, the sooner your insurance company knows of the situation, the better.

5. File a Report. 

The police will take statements from all drivers involved in the car accident and determine if a police report is necessary. This information will be important when filing insurance claims for your auto accident. Even if it's just a couple of scratches, you've got to file a police report. Otherwise, you're giving room for people to be dishonest. Be sure to write down the investigating officer's name and badge number in case your insurance agent or attorney needs to contact the officer.

6. State the Facts. 

State the facts of what you saw and what happened when asked by the investigating officer or an identified representative of your insurance carrier. Do not accept or place blame for the accident. You should express concern for any injuries or damage sustained by anyone else involved in the accident, but don't admit you were at fault. Taking responsibility is typically an emotional statement that isn't well thought out. If you acknowledge blame, the police investigation of the accident may not be as thorough as usual.

The most important thing to have if you get in an accident is Lake of the Ozarks auto insurance. Besides the fact that it is legally required, insurance is needed to cover any personal injury or property damage caused by the accident. You don't want to cover those costs out of pocket. Insure the Lake will help you decide on which company to purchase insurance coverage from. Advantages vary from company to company, so we'll review your options with you to find the coverage choices that are right for you!

About the Author: Steve is a double back-flip insurance ninja. He was named Young Insurance Agent of the Year by the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents in 2010 and is a Certified Insurance Counselor. When he is not helping customers, he enjoys community service, Latin dancing with his beautiful wife and going on adventures with his two awesome sons.

Steve Naught, CIC

3736 Osage Beach Parkway
Osage Beach, MO 65065
Next to Golden Coral

T: 573-348-2794
F: 573-348-0191

Friday, January 16, 2015

Worker's Compensation Insurance Basics

Whether you own a one-man operation or a company with hundreds of employees, most states require you to have Worker's Compensation insurance. This insurance protects employees by providing benefits for job-related injuries or illnesses. It also protects you and your company by eliminating lawsuits from employees related to these injuries or illnesses. Since every state has different insurance requirements, it's important that you talk to your Lake of the Ozarks insurance agent about your individual insurance needs.

Worker's Compensation

Consider the following situations:
  • One of your workers seriously injures their back while moving boxes. 
  • A group of employees is exposed to harsh chemicals and they must be taken to the hospital. 
  • An employee is badly burned on the job. 
Insure the Lake has the insurance experience to help you put together a worker's compensation insurance policy to protect both you and your employees in these types of situations. 

Missouri Laws 

Generally, employers in Missouri have to carry workers compensation insurance. However, there are exceptions. As a general rule, companies with five or more employees must have insurance coverage. Although, contractors with even just one employee must also buy coverage. However, the law exempts such employees as farm laborers, domestic servants, certain real estate agents and direct sellers and commercial motor-vehicle owner-operators from carrying workers compensation insurance. Regardless of whether your business is required by law to carry workers compensation coverage, you will likely be held responsible for a work related injury to an employee, so why not protect yourself and business from what could be a high costing out of pocket claim?

Premium Calculation

Your workers compensation premium is calculated using rates based on your business classification and operations. Those rates are multiplied by the employee payroll for those classes to come up with the premium. Missouri employers that are included in coverage are given a specific payroll to utilize for themselves. In 2015 the payroll charge for an employer is $38,400. This owner payroll figure changes each year and is used regardless of if the employer makes $10,000 or $1,000,000 in actual payroll, so when you work with your agent and the auditor it is best to keep the owner payroll and employee payrolls separate. You should also obtain certificates of insurance from all 1099 subcontractors. If you do not show that the subcontractor carries his own coverage by providing documentation in the form of a certificate, you will be charged for the exposure of the subcontractor that is working on your behalf.

If you have questions about worker's compensation insurance at the Lake of the Ozarks, give us a call at 573-348-2794. Your business is your financial future and Insure the Lake is here to help you succeed. Our office works with your business in order to provide you with the best insurance products to cover your unique situation!

Steve Naught, CIC

3736 Osage Beach Parkway
Osage Beach, MO 65065
Next to Golden Coral

T: 573-348-2794
F: 573-348-0191

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter Weather

Whether it's two feet of snow or a thin coat of ice, Winter weather can cause horrible driving conditions. In addition to having Lake of the Ozarks car insurance, we have put together some tips to help prepare your vehicle for that nasty Winter weather.  If unexpected Winter weather hit today, would you be ready?

Before Winter Weather Hits

You never know when bad weather is going to hit.  You can check the weather channel and see the forecast, but that can change from day to day.  Now is the time to prepare your car for possible Winter weather!
  • Good traction is very important to have when driving during the Winter, so be sure to check the tread on your tires. A good way to tell if they're too worn is by placing a penny in the tread and if you can see all of Lincoln's head, they need to be replaced. 
  • You should also check your tire pressure weekly throughout the Winter season. As the temperature drops, your tires start to lose pressure. 
  • Check to make sure your interior and exterior lights are working and that the headlights are properly aimed. 
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition to handle snow and ice. If bad weather starts after you're already on the move, you want to make sure your wipers can remove the snow from your view. 
  • Be sure to use windshield washer fluid that is meant for cold temperatures. You don't want it to freeze on your windshield or freeze as its being released. 
  • Make sure your heaters and defrosters are all working properly. 
  • Check your antifreeze level regularly and aim for a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. 
  • Change your oil because clean engine oil will help protect your motor when its started in the cold. 
  • Have your battery checked for optimum performance because cold weather is hard on batteries. 
  • Get your brakes checked because the braking system is the most important safety item in your vehicle. 
  • Have the exhaust system checked to ensure there are no carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during the Winter when all windows are closed. 
  • Keep your gas tank at least half way full at all times. You do not want to run out of gas when the temperature is below freezing! 
  • Always keep an ice scraper and a shovel in your car. 
  • You should prepare an emergency kit that includes warm gloves and a blanket. 
  • Get your car waxed to prevent corrosion from road salt and also wash it regularly to get rid of any salt buildup. 

When Winter Weather Hits

Many preventative measures for your car can be taken before the Winter weather even arrives. However, there are still precautions for you to take after the weather actually hits. Use these tips to stay safe on the road this Winter! 
  • Plan your driving route ahead of time and be sure to tell someone your plan. 
  • Avoid quick stops, turns or lane changes that could send you skidding across icy roads. 
  • Always drive with your lights on during bad weather, even if it's not dark out. 
  • Clear the snow or ice off of your car each time you drive to ensure maximum visibility. Be sure to scrape off your lights, roof and hood as well. You don't want a slab of snow falling down and covering your windshield! 
  • Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you to allow enough stopping time on slippery roads. 

Auto accidents increase during the Winter when snow and ice created dangerous driving conditions. Make sure your vehicle is properly insured before heading out on the road, especially during questionable weather conditions. Insure the Lake is here to take care of all your Lake of the Ozarks insurance needs. Contact us today at 573-348-2794 to make sure you have the coverage you need at the best possible rates!

Steve Naught, CIC

3736 Osage Beach Parkway
Osage Beach, MO 65065
Next to Golden Coral

T: 573-348-2794
F: 573-348-0191