Alexita Bridgeman educates Latino families and business owners on the importance of life insurance post-COVID19

As we’ve seen throughout COVID-19 pandemic stories, many families were not prepared for this virus. Financial devastation and unexpected deaths have left many at a great loss and has emphasized the importance of things like life insurance and financial literacy, and savings. 

Alexita Bridgeman, Statewide Insurance Solutions insurance broker agent and financial literacy education coordinator. (Photo credit from 1Click Imaging)

Alexita Bridgeman is working to help inform and educate individuals on the importance of these topics through her work as an insurance broker agent and financial literacy education coordinator. 

How Alexita found her calling helping others as a Latina insurance agent 

Alexita was born in New Jersey to Peruvian immigrant parents who settled in Pennsylvania after living in Los Angeles, California and became a single mom at an early age. To provide for her family she went to college and worked real estate part-time, selling homes. Later, she got a license for insurance with the goal to work only when the banks were open, allowing more time for her family and volunteer work in the community and local prison on the weekends.  

She first started working in the Poconos, Pennsylvania a 1.5 hour ride from NY, then when Obamacare came into effect 2010, she became an agent. 

“My obstacle at the time was not being able to clone myself. The laws had changed regarding medical insurance and it was difficult to gather all information needed. Insurance is not an easy subject in English let alone Spanish. The service was in demand but it allowed me to introduce other insurance products to protect families financially. I had to sacrifice late nights in order to have weekends with my family and do what I love.”

Now, as an agent at Statewide Insurance Solutions LLC, Alexita works to assist Spanish-speaking families and business owners through the process of enrolling in health plans and other insurance products. 

Education is power, “ignorance is expensive”

Located in the heart of Easton, Pennsylvania, Statewide Insurance Solutions is just a short walk from Philipsburg, New Jersey and historical tourist attractions like the Delaware River and Crayola Factory. With Easton being home to many South and Central Americans as well as Caribbean Latinos, the Spanish-speaking insurance agency caters to the local Latino population, offering solutions for home and business. 

Alexita hosts free classes online with no pressure to buy, just to inform and educate because “ignorance is expensive.” (Photo credit from 1Click Imaging)

During the past year of COVID-19, Alexita and her agency have worked hard to provide life insurance for families and general liability insurance for new businesses starting up from home. 

“The demand for home remodelers and general contractors rose and protection for small businesses became available. Online access for business startups such as roofing, carpentry, and landscapers has always been the center of the Spanish speaking community along with restaurants and barbershops,” says Alexita. 

“Covid and other health issues have fired up the importance of life insurance, a very “un-sexy” topic for Latinos,” she says. To combat the ignorance and stigma surrounding health insurance, Alexita hosts free classes online with no pressure to buy, just to inform and educate because “ignorance is expensive,” she says. 

You might be interested: Tips to improve your financial smarts this National Financial Literacy Month 

“Just because one does not speak English, it doesn’t mean that they are not intelligent. Middle income America, in any language, is unaware of the options that are available to protect their family and protect their business reputation. People do business with those they like and trust. In my world if both do not align that means I must work harder on myself so I can sleep and know that I gave my best!” 

life insurance

7 Ways to protect your family, business, and reputation. (Photo credit from 1Click Imaging)

“Dale con ganas,” Give it your all! 

As a Latina professional, Alexita’s strengths lie in her ability to connect, network, and educate  the Hispanic community. She has been able to leverage social media to reach others and provide educational resources to Spanish-speaking families and business owners who need them most. 

“I am a proud host of free dinner classes,  lunch and learn workshops that teach about money protection, homebuying, credit counseling and tax savings programs. When people come to me for help I feel honored that they trust me to help in their family or business goals and with protecting their financial household,” she says. 

Alexita’s advice to other Latina and minority women is: “Dale con ganas,” give it your all! 

“When you take the risk, your gifts will bless others,” says Alexita. “It will all be returned to you in one way or another. Blessings are not always monetary.”

So if you have an idea, business venture, or dream, then take the risk and go for it. Your efforts will be rewarded in time.

Adriane Medeiros shares investment planning strategies for financial empowerment and tips for success

We are proud to introduce and welcome our newest LIB Executive Board Member, Adriane Medeiros. Adriane is a Financial Services Professional with New York Life Insurance Company and specializes in life insurance and retirement investment planning. She is a great resource to our community, offering financial tips, seminars, and one-on-one appointments in financial and investment planning.

financial planning

Adriane Medeiros, Financial Services Professional and LIB Executive Board Member (Photo courtesy Adriane Medeiros)

Originally born in Brazil, she has lived in New Jersey for over 32 years and has a degree in Business with a minor in Economics and Finances, from Kean University in New Jersey.

Transforming lives through investment planning

Adriane has always had a passion for business and finances. In the early days of her career she worked for the Latino market of an investment banking company. However, after the 2009 recession, she decided to reinvent herself and pursue a career as a Registered Financial Professional.

As a Financial Professional, she works directly with individuals and small business owners and takes great pride in getting to know her clients personally one-on-one.

“I want to hear my client’s life story. Every client has a unique set of circumstances,” says Adriane, “and my approach is to learn as much as possible about my client’s financial concerns, so I can help them achieve their goals, and even transform their lives.”

This individualized approach enables Adriane to offer customized recommendations for insurance and financial products that help her clients achieve financial peace of mind.

“The most rewarding part of my career is being able to create lifelong relationships with my clients that are based on trust, service, and integrity!” she says.

Adriane with LIB founder, Susana G. Baumann (Photo courtesy Adriane Medeiros)

Trust and integrity are especially important in a field like finances. Adriane says one of the biggest obstacles she faces in her industry is that the Latino community in general does not trust financial institutions.

“Past experiences can be the reason for this distrust, and as a Latina myself, I understand the struggles that immigrants face, especially regarding financial planning” she says. “But unfortunately, when it is passed from generation to generation, it prevents Latinos from embracing opportunities to create and transfer wealth with something as affordable as life insurance.”

Adriane has seen business owners lose a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice due to lack of information and financial planning. Witnessing these hardships within the Latino community has further motivated her to help Latinos achieve financial empowerment and break the cycles of poverty and violence that are still present in Latino communities.

“My Latino clientele is very diversified, from undocumented, non-English speaking first generation immigrants, to highly educated professionals, but regardless of their background or net worth – It is my promise to treat them with respect and integrity. We work hard, and we all deserve to be a part of the American Dream.”

Life Insurance: Protecting loved ones when we are no longer here

In communities where financial and investment planning is not always the top priority, many may not think to consider a future without them in it when making plans or investments. Few want to think about such a subject as death, but it is a reality and life insurance is one key tool and investment planning strategy many can use to ensure their loved ones are taken care of later in life.

“When premature death strikes a family, it creates a lifetime of struggles and lost opportunities that can last for generations!” says Adriane.

Through her work she has seen the life-changing impact that investment planning can have on a family especially when it comes to unexpected deaths.

investment planning

Adriane at New York Life Executive Council, 2019 (Photo courtesy Adriane Medeiros)

“I always share my experience when I delivered a life insurance check to a young woman that had suddenly lost her husband. He was self-employed, and they did not have any assets, except for their home which still had a mortgage. My client’s widow was devastated and grieving, but she was extremely thankful that the life insurance death benefit would allow her family to stay in the same house so her children would not have to move to another school system. It also enabled her to keep a comfortable lifestyle and guaranteed that she would be able to afford a college education for her children later. All of that was possible because a few years earlier her late husband purchased a life insurance policy with a premium of less than $40.00 per month!”

A life insurance investment is an investment to protect your family’s future. Adriane describes it as “a love letter that protects our loved ones when we are no longer here to protect them ourselves.”

Creating a life of abundance and financial empowerment

However, when we plan for the future we must also plan for a long, healthy life as well, which is where Adriane’s other area of expertise comes in: retirement planning. Retirement planning is another important, but often overlooked, investment planning strategy.

“As immigrants, we are so eager to work and make a living, that we sometimes forget to live, and we fail to plan for our future,” says Adriane.

Retirement planning is especially important for women who face unique challenges in retirement.

“During their working years, among other things, women (1) usually earn less than men, (2) they save less than men, (3) they are more likely to take time off to be caregivers, and (4) they live longer than men (a 65 year-old woman has a 50% chance of living to age 91).”

You might be interested: Best use of PPP and other financing strategies for Latina business owners

Adriane’s goal is to help all her clients achieve a life of abundance and financial empowerment through investment planning so that they can support their families for generations to come.

Adriane helping out with Dikaion, a non-profit organization in Brazil that she has been involved with for over 20 years (Photo courtesy of Adriane Mederios)

“I love it when I can show my clients how to enjoy their lives during their working years, but also prepare for the unexpected and plan for the future! I see each appointment as an opportunity to educate and empower. I want people to be excited and fully engaged about their own finances because knowledge really is power when it comes to money.”

7 Tips for success

There’s no doubt we all want to be successful in our professional endeavors. If you’re ready to embrace a life of abundance, financial empowerment, and go for you goals, check out Adriane’s top 7 tips for success in business below!

Adriane Medeiros

Adriane at Hispanic Heritage Month Event (Photo courtesy Adriane Medeiros)

  1. Learn about yourself, and your paradigms!  The more you know about yourself, the sooner you will get rid of paradigms and negative beliefs that are keeping you from the amazing and abundant life that you deserve!
  2. Invest in you! Make professional and personal development priorities throughout your life, and please, pay attention to your finances.
  3. Take Care of Yourself! It is important to follow all the necessary steps to success, such as preparation, discipline, perseverance, knowledge, etc., but when we face challenges (and we all do) – you must remember that YOU are the most important resource in your business. You have unlimited potential, but you need to pay close attention to the warning signs when physical and mental exhaustion are hurting you and your performance. Remember to put your oxygen mask first so you can help others.
  4. Never give up on your goal! Sometimes we must change our plans, and adjust to our circumstances, but have faith that the universe is always working in your favor if you do not give up!
  5. Be profoundly grateful! Setbacks can be devastating, and we might not be able to look on the bright side when bad things are happening, but when we are grateful for everything else that we have, and for the lessons that setbacks bring us, we are actually changing our mindset. A grateful mindset restores our faith and makes us resilient!
  6. Create a Mission that aligns with your career or business! My knowledge and experience as a financial advisor has enabled me to fulfill my mission to financially empower minorities, and transform lives.
  7. Be generous with your money, your time, and your knowledge Always give to those that will never be able to pay you back.  When you start giving without any expectation of getting something in return, you have achieved an abundant and successful life.

Tips to set up a recovery plan for small businesses before disaster strikes

We are in the middle of hurricane season and I cannot stop thinking of those businesses affected by Hurricane Harvey, Irma and now Jose. Some businesses in New Jersey are just reopening their doors after Hurricane Sandy five years ago.

Natural disasters_Sandy Hurricane

Business in New Jersey still recovering after Hurricane Sandy

How does your business –and your family– survive such disasters?

Insured losses due to natural disasters in the United States in the first half of 2015 totaled $12.6 billion, well above the $11.2 billion average in the first halves of 2000 to 2014, according to a July 2015 presentation by Munich Re and the Insurance Information Institute.

Of the 80 natural catastrophes in the first half of 2015, almost half, or 38, resulted from severe thunderstorms, which caused $7 billion in overall losses (including insured and economic losses) and $5.1 billion in insured losses, the lowest first half since 2006.

There were 11 winter storms and cold waves in the first half of 2015, resulting in $3.8 billion in overall losses and $2.9 billion in insured losses, which reached a record high for insured losses.  Drought in California continued to worsen, increasing the risk of wildfires, and record rainfall in Texas and Oklahoma alleviated drought but caused severe flash flooding in Texas.

Many businesses forced to close down following a disaster are never able to open their doors again. While there’s no way to lower the risk of a natural disaster like a hurricane, there are critical measures that can be taken to protect your company’s bottom line from nature’s fury. A disaster plan and adequate insurance are keys to recovery.

Small business in need of disaster recovery loans

Small businesses in need of disaster recovery loans (Photo: Intersect Fund)

Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

 No matter how small or large a business, a business impact analysis should be developed to identify what an operation must do to protect itself in the face of a natural disaster. Large corporations often hire risk managers to handle this task and some companies hire consultants with expertise in disaster planning and recovery to assist them with their plans. But small businesses can do the analysis and planning on their own. Here’s a step-by-step plan:

  •  Set up an emergency response plan and train employees how to carry it out. Make sure employees know whom to notify about the disaster and what measures to take to preserve life and limit property losses.
  • Write out each step of the plan and assign responsibilities to employees in clear and simple language. Practice the procedures set out in the emergency response plan with regular, scheduled drills.
  • Compile a list of important phone numbers and addresses. Make sure you can get in touch with key people after the disaster. The list should include local and state emergency management agencies, major clients, contractors, suppliers, realtors, financial institutions, insurance agents and insurance company claim representatives.
  • Decide on a communications strategy to prevent loss of customers. Post notices outside your premises; contact clients by phone, email or regular mail; place a notice in local newspapers.
  • Consider the things you may need initially during the emergency. Do you need a back-up source of power? Do you have a back-up communications system?
  • Human Resources. Protect employees and customers from injury on the premises. Consider the possible impact a disaster will have on your employees’ ability to return to work and how customers can return to your shop or receive goods or services.
  • Physical Resources. Inspect your business’ plant(s) and assess the impact a disaster would have on facilities. Make sure your plans conform to local building code requirements.
  • Business Community. Even if your business escapes a disaster, there is still a risk that it could suffer significant losses due to the inability of suppliers to deliver goods or services or a reduction in customers. Businesses should communicate with their suppliers and markets (especially if they are selling to a business as a supplier) about their disaster preparedness and recovery plans, so that everyone is prepared.
  • Protect Your Building. If you own the structure that houses your business, integrate disaster protection for the building as well as the contents into your plan. Consider the financial impact if your business shuts down as a result of a disaster. What would be the impact for a day, a week or an entire revenue period?
  • Keep Duplicate Records. Back-up computerized data files regularly and store them off-premises. Keep copies of important records and documents in a safe deposit box and make sure they’re up-to-date.
  • Identify critical business activities and the resources needed to support them. If you cannot afford to shut down your operations, even temporarily, determine what you require to run the business at another location.
  • Find alternative facilities, equipment and supplies, and locate qualified contractors. Consider a reciprocity agreement with another business. Try to get an advance commitment from at least one contractor to respond to your needs.
  • Protect computer systems and data. Data storage firms offer offsite backups of computer data that can be updated regularly via high-speed modem or through the Internet.
  • Fires in California affecting businesses

    Fires in California affecting businesses

 

Review Your Insurance Plan

 Make sure you have sufficient coverage to pay for the indirect costs of the disaster—the disruption to your business—as well as the cost of repair or rebuilding. Most policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage and you may need to buy separate insurance for these perils. Be sure you understand your policy deductibles and limits.

New additions or improvements should also be reflected in your policy. This includes construction improvement to a property and the addition of new equipment.

For a business, the costs of a disaster can extend beyond the physical damage to the premises, equipment, furniture and other business property. There’s the potential loss of income while the premises are unusable.

Review your insurance policies to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. Your policy should include business interruption insurance and extra expense insurance. Even if your basic policy covers expenses and loss of net business income, it may not cover income interruptions due to damage that occurs away from your premises, such as to your key customer or supplier or to your utility company. You can generally buy this additional coverage and add it to your existing policy.

 

SOURCE Insurance Information Institute

Fires in California affecting businesses

Why small businesses need a step-by-step disaster recovery plan

Natural disasters_Sandy Hurricane

Business in New Jersey still waiting to recover after Hurricane Sandy

We are in the middle of hurricane season and I cannot stop thinking of those businesses that are just reopening their doors after Hurricane Sandy three years ago. On the  West Coast, drought and heat have combined to make this one of the most active fire seasons in recent years.

How do your business –and your family– survive such disasters?

Insured losses due to natural disasters in the United States in the first half of 2015 totaled $12.6 billion, well above the $11.2 billion average in the first halves of 2000 to 2014, according to a July 2015 presentation by Munich Re and the Insurance Information Institute.

Of the 80 natural catastrophes in the first half of 2015, almost half, or 38, resulted from severe thunderstorms, which caused $7 billion in overall losses (including insured and economic losses) and $5.1 billion in insured losses, the lowest first half since 2006.

There were 11 winter storms and cold waves in the first half of 2015, resulting in $3.8 billion in overall losses and $2.9 billion in insured losses, which reached a record high for insured losses.  Drought in California continued to worsen, increasing the risk of wildfires, and record rainfall in Texas and Oklahoma alleviated drought but caused severe flash flooding in Texas.

Many businesses forced to close down following a disaster are never able to open their doors again. While there’s no way to lower the risk of a natural disaster like a hurricane, there are critical measures that can be taken to protect your company’s bottom line from nature’s fury. A disaster plan and adequate insurance are keys to recovery.

Small business in need of disaster recovery loans

Small businesses in need of disaster recovery loans (Photo: Intersect Fund)

Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

 No matter how small or large a business, a business impact analysis should be developed to identify what an operation must do to protect itself in the face of a natural disaster. Large corporations often hire risk managers to handle this task and some companies hire consultants with expertise in disaster planning and recovery to assist them with their plans. But small businesses can do the analysis and planning on their own. Here’s a step-by-step plan:

  •  Set up an emergency response plan and train employees how to carry it out. Make sure employees know whom to notify about the disaster and what measures to take to preserve life and limit property losses.
  • Write out each step of the plan and assign responsibilities to employees in clear and simple language. Practice the procedures set out in the emergency response plan with regular, scheduled drills.
  • Compile a list of important phone numbers and addresses. Make sure you can get in touch with key people after the disaster. The list should include local and state emergency management agencies, major clients, contractors, suppliers, realtors, financial institutions, insurance agents and insurance company claim representatives.
  • Decide on a communications strategy to prevent loss of customers. Post notices outside your premises; contact clients by phone, email or regular mail; place a notice in local newspapers.
  • Consider the things you may need initially during the emergency. Do you need a back-up source of power? Do you have a back-up communications system?
  • Human Resources. Protect employees and customers from injury on the premises. Consider the possible impact a disaster will have on your employees’ ability to return to work and how customers can return to your shop or receive goods or services.
  • Physical Resources. Inspect your business’ plant(s) and assess the impact a disaster would have on facilities. Make sure your plans conform to local building code requirements.
  • Business Community. Even if your business escapes a disaster, there is still a risk that it could suffer significant losses due to the inability of suppliers to deliver goods or services or a reduction in customers. Businesses should communicate with their suppliers and markets (especially if they are selling to a business as a supplier) about their disaster preparedness and recovery plans, so that everyone is prepared.
  • Protect Your Building. If you own the structure that houses your business, integrate disaster protection for the building as well as the contents into your plan. Consider the financial impact if your business shuts down as a result of a disaster. What would be the impact for a day, a week or an entire revenue period?
  • Keep Duplicate Records. Back-up computerized data files regularly and store them off-premises. Keep copies of important records and documents in a safe deposit box and make sure they’re up-to-date.
  • Identify critical business activities and the resources needed to support them. If you cannot afford to shut down your operations, even temporarily, determine what you require to run the business at another location.
  • Find alternative facilities, equipment and supplies, and locate qualified contractors. Consider a reciprocity agreement with another business. Try to get an advance commitment from at least one contractor to respond to your needs.
  • Protect computer systems and data. Data storage firms offer offsite backups of computer data that can be updated regularly via high-speed modem or through the Internet.
  • Fires in California affecting businesses

    Fires in California affecting businesses

 

Review Your Insurance Plan

 Make sure you have sufficient coverage to pay for the indirect costs of the disaster—the disruption to your business—as well as the cost of repair or rebuilding. Most policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage and you may need to buy separate insurance for these perils. Be sure you understand your policy deductibles and limits.

New additions or improvements should also be reflected in your policy. This includes construction improvement to a property and the addition of new equipment.

For a business, the costs of a disaster can extend beyond the physical damage to the premises, equipment, furniture and other business property. There’s the potential loss of income while the premises are unusable.

Review your insurance policies to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. Your policy should include business interruption insurance and extra expense insurance. Even if your basic policy covers expenses and loss of net business income, it may not cover income interruptions due to damage that occurs away from your premises, such as to your key customer or supplier or to your utility company. You can generally buy this additional coverage and add it to your existing policy.

 

SOURCE Insurance Information Institute

Man identity theft

3 Easy steps to monitor your credit from identity theft

Man without identity programing in technology enviroment with cy A few weeks ago, my bank called me within 20 minutes of a transaction they deemed suspicious –most banks monitor the patterns of your account’s movement. As they suspected, my checking account had been hit with a purchase in California for 160 dollars. The occurrence was not major and the bank worked with me to figure the item out. No big deal.

However, I felt very vulnerable and started thinking of all the places I used that debit/credit card for my business account. Although I usually do not store credit information on any online transaction, I remembered I had that card with my PayPal account so I could receive and make payments. I immediately cancelled the card and replaced it with a regular credit card.

So this time the incident was easy to resolve but what if I get hit big time? And even worst, what if someone would use my credit card or any other element of my credit for big purchases, to conduct any business transaction or to just live the good life on my behalf?

Even if you keep your credit in good standing, your worst nightmare, however, is when your credit is hit by identity thieves. According to the Kroll Fraud Specialists and Licensed Investigators, monitoring your credit is fairly easy if you follow some simple steps:

1. Obtain your credit report at least once a year for free

Every consumer who has established credit in the last several years likely has a credit file with at least one of the three national credit reporting agencies (CRAs)—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The Annual Credit Report Request Service provides consumers with a way to request a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the CRAs. You can order these by calling 877-322-8228, request by mail or online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

A consumer may order all three free reports at one time or choose to order one report from each bureau periodically (e.g., order the Equifax report in January, Experian’s in May and TransUnion’s in September). Ordering the three reports over the course of a year allows you to see snapshots of your current credit history at regular intervals.

 2. Check your credit report carefully and compare it to the previous year

Review each section of the credit report(s) looking for information that is not accurate. Understand that credit reporting errors do happen and inaccurate information on a credit report does not confirm identity theft but even simple errors need to be addressed.

Sections of your credit report include:

Account Information. The credit report reveals not just your current accounts, but the history of your use of credit over the last seven years or more. Are there accounts listed that you did not authorize?

Derogatory Accounts. These are usually collection accounts or accounts to which payments were 30 or more days late. If someone used your personal information but with a different address when opening an account with a creditor and then didn’t pay the debt, you may not find out about it until a collection action is taken.

Public Records, Judgments, and Liens. If you find data here that is not your own, verify that the information reported is really associated with your personal identifiers. This will involve a call to the court or records office in question.

Inquiries. Review only the inquiries that reflect consumer action; that is, the inquiries from companies that pulled your credit report because of an action taken, such as applying for a credit card, car loan, or utility service. If you find inquiries that do not reflect your own activity, it might be a sign that someone applied for credit or another service using your personal identifying information.

Note that inquiries related to offers of credit not initiated by the consumer are not indications of identity theft.

Demographics. This can include name, alias names, associated addresses, date of birth, Social Security number and phone number. If there are names you’ve never used, addresses at which you’ve never lived, or employers for whom you’ve never worked, it warrants further discovery.

3. Dispute the errors or verify fraudWoman calling while calculating bills in kitchen

When you find inaccurate information on your credit reports, the easiest first step is to dispute the inaccurate information by writing a letter to the CRA that is reporting the information. If it is an error, the data will be removed or corrected. If the CRA doesn’t correct an error it may be because the creditor has an error in the information they supplied to the CRA. You may have to call the creditor and have them correct the error.

However, if there is a credit account on your credit report that you did not authorize, then your first step should be to call the creditor involved. Ask to speak to the fraud department and have them search by your Social Security number to determine if there is an account associated with it that you did not authorize.

Although review of a credit report usually will reveal only credit-related identity theft, it may help you discover other types of identity theft as well. For example, an inquiry from a property management company may be a sign that someone applied for an apartment using your identity. An unfamiliar tax lien may indicate that someone did something with your information (i.e., started a business) that created a tax debt that was not paid.

When you find inaccurate information on your credit reports, the easiest first step is to dispute the inaccurate information with the CRA that is reporting the information. If it is an error, the data will be removed or corrected. If the CRA doesn’t correct an error it may be because the creditor has an error in the information they supplied to the CRA. You may have to call the creditor and have them correct the error.

Everyone with a credit history should review his or her reports at least annually. Remember, just because you aren’t using your identity to obtain credit, that doesn’t mean someone else isn’t.

affordable care act, medicare, indetity theft

Identity theft in healthcare coverage

affordable care act, medicare, indetity theftBy Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, FTC

October and November are the time of year when you need to pay attention to your healthcare coverage. Whether you need to switch, revise or renew your health coverage, here are some important tips from the Consumer Information page at the Federal Trade Commission.

It’s open season for everyone who wants to switch health coverage. As you select your health insurance plan, watch out for scams. Whether you are on Medicare, selecting a plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or have private insurance, here are some tips to help you more safely navigate the open enrollment season.

Affordable Care Act

If you are shopping in the Health Insurance Marketplace, only shop at HealthCare.gov. People who try to sign you up elsewhere may be scammers. If you’re overwhelmed, you can find free official helpers at HealthCare.gov. Official helpers will never ask for money or try to sell you a particular plan.

Another important tip: the government will not call to sell you health insurance. And no one from the government will ask you to verify your Social Security number or bank information over the phone.

Private insurance

If you’re looking for health insurance, make sure that’s what you’re buying. Be on the lookout for medical discount plans. They’re not the same as health insurance, even though they sometimes pretend to be. Many of these plans are scams that don’t deliver on the services promised. Others are just a way for identity thieves to get your personal information. Your state insurance commissioner’s office can tell you if a plan isn’t insurance and whether the seller is licensed in your state.

Medicare

A variety of scams take advantage of Medicare recipients. Here are a few:

  • An “official Medicare agent” knocks on your door selling Medicare insurance that can save you money. Stop. It’s a scam. There are no Medicare sales representatives. It’s probably someone who wants to use your information to commit fraud or identity theft.
  • Someone calls and says you must join their prescription plan or else you’ll lose your Medicare coverage. Don’t believe it. The Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D) is voluntary.
  • Someone calls claiming that you need to give your Medicare number in order for you to keep your Medicare coverage under ACA. It’s a scam. Don’t give your personal information over the phone. If you need help with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to medicare.gov.

Report health care scams

If you think you may be a victim of a health care scam, report it to the FTC. If the scam is Medicare-related, report it at medicare.gov.

If you gave out personal information, then call your banks, credit card providers, health insurance company, and credit reporting agencies immediately. The FTC’s website has more information on health care scams and medical identity theft.

(Read this information in Spanish here.)

Hair salons small business week

How beauty professionals protect their business investment

The battle to protect their business investment has become a serious concern for small business owners in the present world. From natural disasters to terrorist attacks, and from recessions to epidemics, we live in a world where risk has to be constantly managed.

Ona Diaz-Santin Celebrity Stylist at 5 Hair Salon

Ona Diaz-Santin Celebrity Stylist at 5 Hair Salon

Beauty professionals and salon business owners are not an exception. Even if you think most of these terrible events might not affect your business, as a small business owner –and I know this from my own experience–, you have to be constantly on your feet. If you do not show up, money does not show up!

Protecting their investment as well as their source of income is essential for small businesses whose families depend on them. Although beauty salons and spas are a relatively low risk business, there are always opportunities for something going wrong. A cut in an ear caused an infection or someone tripped in the salon with a hair blower cord? From these small events to major fires, flood or storm damage, they can cause great distress and also interrupt the income their family is counting on.

Ona Diaz-Santin and Luis O De la Hoz at the SHCCNJ event

Ona Diaz-Santin and Luis O De la Hoz at the SHCCNJ event

“Data shows that 92 percent of the businesses in the USA are micro-business. The importance of the beauty salon industry dominated by people from Dominican descend relies in the fact that they have created a space of opportunity for thousands of hires by these salons,” said Luis O De la Hoz, SVP Lending Team at The Intersect Fund at the event Lunch & Learn for Beauty Business Professionals organized by the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ) and held at Lola’s Latin Bistro in Metuchen NJ.  “If one of every three small businesses in the nation would hire one more employee, the US would face full employment,” he said.

Carlos Medina, President of the SHCCNJ also made opening remarks, “We are more than 70,000 Latino small businesses in the state of New Jersey and we contribute more than 10 billion dollars to the state economy every year in every industry. Beauty salons and spas are just one of these industries. The SHCCNJ recently got a grant to provide technical assistance to small businesses in central New Jersey,” he said. “So keeping this wealth and opportunity coming in is essential to the prosperity of our communities.”

Present at the event was Ona Diaz-Santin, Celebrity Stylist and Creative Director at 5 Salon & Spa in Fort Lee, NJ. “As our industry grows, we have to become more aware that protecting our business is essential. Everybody at the event was eager to listen to the information and although not everybody shared about their own needs or situation, you could tell people found it informative,” she said.

Protection for this type of business is not cost-prohibiting according to Carlos J. Capellan, Agent at State Farm Insurance, the company sponsoring the event. “Dealing with chemicals or hurting someone unintentionally might be part of the picture but other unforeseen events could also happen. We also offer coverage from workers’ compensation to retirement and income replacement plans for the small business owner,” he said.

Carlos Capellan, Luis O De la Hoz, Juan Zaldivar and Carlos Medina at Lola Latin Bistro

Carlos Capellan, Luis O De la Hoz, Juan Zaldivar and Carlos Medina at Lola’s Latin Bistro

Ona was also thrilled about meeting the other 50 or 60 beauty salon owners and professionals in attendance. “This is an unusual opportunity to see them all, and I wanted to announce our beloved project, ‘Pelo! Pelo! The Film’, a documentary about Dominican-owned salons’ stories, their owners and clients,” she said.

“With our wonderful producer and director Tracy Grant, winner of the Harlem International Film Festival Mira Nair Rising Female Filmmaker Award, we are collecting interviews with celebrities and friends regarding Pelo! Pelo! The Film and their personal stories about hair, Latinas in business and Dominican salons,” she explained. “We are producing a film that reflects not only the struggles and origins of this industry but also, the success stories of those who made it with little resources, hard work and a lot of creativity. We also want to become ambassadors of our Latino culture through the world, for it is so exciting and engaging!” she concluded.

Pelo! Pelo! The Film crew conducting interviews (photo courtesy http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com)

Pelo! Pelo! The Film crew conducting interviews (photo courtesy http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com)

About Pelo! Pelo! The Film:

Documentarian Tracy Grant, director of “I Remain” and celebrity hair stylist Ona Diaz-Santin, create a stylish, progressive documentary film that places the spotlight squarely on the Latina female entrepreneur and immigrant.

Dominican hair salons are big business and Pelo! Pelo! (Hair! Hair!) tells the compelling stories of diverse stylists who own, work in or manage lively salons in the United States and the Dominican Republic. Narrowed down from over fifty interviews in NY, DC, MD, GA and FL, the film traces their roots and travels to the colorful, culturally rich Dominican Republic – the backdrop of the film.

La documentalista Tracy Grant, directora de “I Remain” y la estilista de celebridades Ona Diaz-Santin, crean un documental progresista que pone en el foco la mujer empresaria latina e inmigrante.

Los salones de belleza dominicanos son un gran negocio y Pelo! Pelo! narra las increíbles historias de diversos estilistas que poseen, trabajan o administran salones en los Estados Unidos y la República Dominicana. Reducido de más de cincuenta entrevistas en NY, DC, MD, Georgia y Florida, la película traza sus raíces y se desplaza a la colorida y culturalmente rica República Dominicana – el telón de fondo de la película.

https://www.facebook.com/pelopelothefilm

@PELOPELOTHEFILM

 

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small business insurance, Latina small business,

Better safe than sorry with appropriate business insurance

small business insurance, Latina small business,Every business needs some type of insurance coverage to protect its assets and be covered for potential liabilities. Finding the right type of insurance your specific business needs, and the types of insurance available is a conversation to have with your insurance agent or broker. Your agency can also advise you on the exact amount of insurance you should consider purchasing according to your business size and volume.

Here are some basic insurance definitions the Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends for small businesses and their definitions.

General Liability Insurance

Business owners purchase general liability insurance to cover legal hassles due to accident, injuries and claims of negligence. These policies protect against payments as the result of bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, libel, slander, the cost of defending lawsuits, and settlement bonds or judgments required during an appeal procedure.

Product Liability Insurance

Companies that manufacture, wholesale, distribute, and retail a product may be liable for its safety. Product liability insurance protects against financial loss as a result of a defect product that causes injury or bodily harm. The amount of insurance you should purchase depends on the products you sell or manufacture. A clothing store would have far less risk than a small appliance store, for example.

Professional Liability Insurance

Business owners providing services should consider having professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance). This type of liability coverage protects your business against malpractice, errors, and negligence in provision of services to your customers. Depending on your profession, you may be required by your state government to carry such a policy. For example, physicians are required to purchase malpractice insurance as a condition of practicing in certain states.

Commercial Property Insurance

Property insurance covers everything related to the loss and damage of company property due to a wide-variety of events such as fire, smoke, wind and hail storms, civil disobedience and vandalism. The definition of “property” is broad, and includes lost income, business interruption, buildings, computers, company papers and money.

Property insurance policies come in two basic forms:

(1) all-risk policies covering a wide-range of incidents and perils except those noted in the policy;

(2) peril-specific policies that cover losses from only those perils listed in the policy. Examples of peril-specific policies include fire, flood, crime, and business interruption insurance. All-risk policies generally cover risks faced by the average small business, while peril-specific policies are usually purchased when there is high risk of peril in a certain area. Consult your insurance agent or broker about the type of business property insurance best suited for your small business.

Home-Based Business Insurance

Contrary to popular belief, homeowners’ insurance policies do not generally cover home-based business losses. Depending on risks to your business, you may add riders to your homeowners’ policy to cover normal business risks such as property damage. However, homeowners’ policies only go so far in covering home-based businesses and you may need to purchase additional policies to cover other risks, such as general and professional liability.

One final suggestion: Find a broker or agent that speaks your language of preference and explain them your needs. It always feels better to trust someone who knows in detail the way we conduct business in our community and, at the same time, is familiar with the US law requirements to protect your business and your livelihood.