Hecht Insurance Advisors, LLC Blog
Homeowner's Insurance Issues during Coronavirus Outbreak
Here's what you should know about your homeowner's insurance at this time.
Business at home
If you have had to move your business to your home, you may want to review your homeowner's coverage. The typical homeowner's police have very low limits on business property (usually up to about $2,000), which would likely not be enough if your equipment is damaged or stolen.
If you are suddenly running your business from home, please call us and we can go through your policy and, if needed, we can work with your insurer to see if they offer a home business endorsement or higher coverage limits for business property.
Also, if you are running an Airbnb out of your home for a room or another property, you should have purchased landlord coverage or home-sharing coverage as a typical homeowner's policy may not cover damage incurred by paying guests.
At this time, you are likely not getting anybody staying at your place, so you should contact your insurance company about pausing or canceling coverage since you will have no need for it for a while.
Filing a claim
If you have an incident in your home and need to file a claim, there's a good chance that your insurer will be unable to send an adjuster for an inspection. Most homeowner's insurers now have apps or offer you the ability to file your claim online on their website.
The procedures for filing a claim using an app or doing it on your insurer's website is pretty straightforward. You can start by taking pictures of the damage and providing receipts or a list of the property that may have been damaged or stolen. If it was stolen, make sure you file a police report and submit that with the claim as well.
However, if you have a high-dollar claim, the insurer may send an adjuster to inspect the damage before they pay the claim. For smaller claims, it's likely they will pay them out.
What insurers are doing
Insurers are making adjustments to their operations and policies during this time as well. Their actions will vary from company to company, but there are similarities in some of their responses:
How to Stay Sane if You Are Isolating
Virtual coffee chats and dinners
Get together with friends you may have planned to meet for coffee, lunch or dinner but via video chat. You have plenty of options in tech that can be used on your computer and/or smartphone and tablet.
Brew yourself some coffee or your favorite tea and start up your Facetime, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Skype or any other app that has a video call feature.
If you want some human contact, you could even arrange to open one of the apps as you and a friend sit down for dinner in your respective abodes and have some nice conversation over a meal.
If you have a regular class with a yoga instructor, see if they want to start conducting their classes by video. There are a few teleconferencing applications that allow for a conference call-type format where participants are given a password to join the meeting.
The instructor can then teach the class to anyone of their current customers that wants to join. This is already happening in Spain and Italy.
Also, if you already have a gym membership, many gyms are starting to offer virtual classes as well. And many are also offering free classes online. Classes that are geared for groups are the most conducive to online training, such as Zumba, Pilates, yoga and aerobics-type sessions.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak, you can use exercise to reduce your anxiety and clear your mind. One of the best ways to fight the stagnation of home quarantine is to continue to breathe properly and keep moving. Movement has an amazing effect on your mood and outlook.
Meet for a walk
You can go on a walk with a friend and keep your social distancing of 6 feet apart to catch up, and also to get the blood pumping. During this time of self-isolation, it's important that you get some form of exercise and long brisk walks are not only good for you, but they also tend to cheer you up.
If you have a dog, you can use this time to give your pet extra walks. Your pooch will never decline an invitation for a walk, and a pup can keep you company.
Also, if the grocery store is a short distance and you need to pick up a few supplies, consider walking or riding your bike.
Reach out to your parents, grandparents
Too many old people are lonely and, because of the self-isolation that the elderly are doing now, that can be compounded.
Use your newfound free time to keep in touch with your parents, grandparents and other seniors.
Use an app with video features. They will appreciate that you are checking on them and they will be happy to see your face. You can even organize one of those coffees or dinners with them, as well.
Establish a routine
Don't just veg out on the couch and binge-watch TV shows all day. It's best if you can establish a routine. If you are telecommuting, this shouldn't be a problem as you will have to be working during a good portion of your day Monday to Friday.
But if you are not working, resist the urge to stay up late watching movies or TV. Try to keep the same routine you had before the outbreak.
Virtual book groups
You may also be taking the time to catch up on your reading. Perhaps you could organize a book group with friends and family. Pick a book that everyone will read for a week or two, and then have regular video chat meetings to discuss the book, your opinions and thoughts.
It's hard to fight boredom and taking the path of least resistance if you are self-isolating, but you should try to focus on taking care of your body, mind and emotional well-being during this time.
Besides the above suggestions, you can try to learn something new, like playing keyboard or learning to make bread or yogurt or homebrewing.
And taking time to be in touch with others can stave off your loneliness and help you keep connected with the people you care about.
New Law Requires COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave, FMLA Benefits
Paid sick leave
Employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick time for coronavirus-related issues. Eligible workers will receive their regular pay, up to $511 per day and $5,110 total. Those caring for someone subject to quarantine due to COVID-19, and parents of kids who can't go to school or daycare, will receive two-thirds of their regular pay, up to $200 daily with a $2,000 cap.
The emergency sick leave benefit can be used immediately, regardless of how long the worker has been employed with you. It can be used when they cannot work or telecommute for any one of the following reasons:
The law does not require certification of an order by the government or a health care provider. But employers can require reasonable notice procedures, such as not announcing in the middle of a shift that they take COVID-19 sick leave. But they cannot require the employee to find a replacement worker to cover the shifts they will miss. Employers must post the law's requirements "in conspicuous places."
Employers are not allowed to discipline a worker who takes this sick or FMLA leave for coronavirus purposes and, if an employer refuses to provide the leave, they can be ordered to pay both back pay and statutory damages that are equal to the back pay the employee is owed.
This law provides payroll tax credits to offset all costs of providing these paid leaves.
The FMLA portion of the law provides for 10 additional weeks of FMLA leave, but only for those who must stay at home to care for a child whose school is closed or their childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19-related issues.
These 10 weeks will be paid at two-thirds the employee's regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day with a cap of $10,000. They will also receive 12 weeks of leave with job protection, though employers of health care or emergency care providers can exclude such employees.
The employee would likely use up their two weeks of paid sick leave before applying for FMLA benefits, which unlike traditional FMLA (which is unpaid), are paid leaves after the first 10 days under the new law.
Employees who have been working for more than 30 days are eligible, and the employer can require them to provide reasonable notice that they are taking leave.
A final word
This law only applies to employers with fewer than 500 workers, so it leaves uncovered those people who work for larger companies.
Also, employers need to make financial plans, as the credit cannot be claimed until after the employer pays their payroll taxes.
A bigger issue is that the law requires that workers be paid the sick leave even if they are not sick, but have been ordered to self-isolate. In states that have ordered workers to self-isolate, such as California, employers could be faced with an avalanche of paid sick leave claims all at once.
This law sunsets on Dec. 31, 2020.