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A Best Place to Work in Maine

Best Place to Work in Maine 2020

Allen Insurance and Financial was recently named as one of the 2020 Best Places to Work in Maine.  This is the company’s ninth consecutive year on the list.

The awards program was created in 2006 and is a project of the Society for Human Resource Management – Maine State Council and Best Companies Group. Partners endorsing the program include: Mainebiz, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Maine HR Convention.

This statewide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Maine, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and businesses. The 2020 Best Places to Work in Maine list is made up of 84 companies in three size categories: small (15-49 U.S. employees), medium (50-249 U.S. employees) and large (250+ U.S. employees).  With 70 employee-owners, Allen Insurance and Financial is in the medium size category.

Companies from across the state entered the two-part process to determine the Best Places to Work in Maine. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation.

The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Maine and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.

Allen Insurance and Financial will be recognized in the Oct. 19 edition of Mainebiz where the rankings will be released for the first time.

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Checklist: Winter Storage for Boats

Source: PatriotInsuranceco.com

winter-storage-for-boats-scaled-2-1080x675Sadly, boating season will come to an end soon, and Old Man Winter will be paving the way for snowmobiles. Winter storage for boats takes some careful planning. If you follow a checklist, winterizing your boat can be easy, ensuring your boat will be in great shape come spring.

For safe winter storage for your boat, follow our checklist:

Inspect for damage.

  • Thoroughly inspect the boat for any damage. Repair now, if possible.
  • Check electrical systems and appliances to make sure they are functioning properly (make repairs before storing the boat, if possible).
  • Check the battery to make sure it is fully charged before storing.

Prep the fuel system.

  • Fill the fuel tank but leave enough room for expansion.
  • Treat the fuel with a stabilizer, then run the engine for 10 minutes to get it circulating throughout the engine.
  • Seal the fuel valves.

Winterize the engine.

  • Change the oil and replace filters.
  • Flush the engine with fresh water, then let it drain.
  • Wash the engine with soap and water. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Fog the engine cylinders with an aerosol fogging solution.
  • Lubricate the engine’s grease fittings.

Flush the cooling system.

  • Drain any remaining coolant.
  • Run a less toxic propylene glycol antifreeze through the system.

Clean inside and out.

  • Clean the boat inside and out, removing any plant life or barnacles.
  • Remove any valuables from inside the boat.
  • Take out any food or drinks.
  • Bring home any cushions and store them in a cool, dry place.

Store your boat.

  • Remove the battery and store it in a safe, dry spot.
  • Consider purchasing a dehumidifier for the storage area to help prevent mildew.
  • Lock your boat (and leave a key with the marina manager, if applicable).
  • Cover and store your boat.
  • Check your boat periodically or have the marina check it and report to you.

Then, when spring comes around, make sure you have the right protection for your boat. Talk to an Allen Insurance representative about boat insurance.

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Despite Bumps Along the Way, Road to Economic Recovery Shows Promise

Halfway through 2020, we’ve already had enough news (and then some) to fill up an average year. So far, we’ve seen a pandemic explode—then moderate. The stock market crashed—then recovered rapidly. There were protests around the nation—and we don’t know what will come next there. In addition to these major events, politics has steadily become more confrontational, and we know it will likely get worse as we move toward the November elections.

Given the headlines, the key to figuring out what is likely to happen over the rest of the year is to focus on the most important trends, which for our industry means the coronavirus pandemic, the economic response to it, and the financial markets.

Despite Rising Coronavirus Cases, Positive Economic Signs Emerge
The real question about the coronavirus for the rest of 2020 is not if there will be a second wave, but whether it will be large enough to derail the economic recovery underway. So far, it does not look like it will. As of early July, we are seeing significant second waves in several states, and rising case counts in many others. It is quite possible we will see lockdowns locally, but a national shutdown looks unlikely, which should allow much of the recovery to continue. Although there are risks to that outlook, it remains the most probable case for the rest of the year.

Despite the rising case counts, the economic reopening is making solid progress. Job reports so far have indicated the damage has peaked and many have returned to work, leading to a bottoming out and rebound in consumer confidence. Surprisingly strong consumer spending data has validated this, as consumers spend only when employed and confident. Business confidence has rebounded as well, bringing it close to or above pre-pandemic levels.

The recovery has benefited from two major factors. First, the virus was brought under control faster than expected. Although that improvement has paused—we are seeing localized outbreaks in several states and rising case counts in others—the spread of the virus remains moderate in much of the country. Second, the Federal Reserve (Fed) provided substantial monetary support at the same time the federal government provided trillions in stimulus payments. The combination acted as life support until the economy could reopen, and that life support appears to have worked.

Financial markets have also responded to the surprisingly positive outcome so far. After an initial drop and what looked like an impending depression, they recovered strongly because of federal support and control of the virus.

Looking forward, while the risks of a national resurgence remain, the more probable outcome is that localized outbreaks will be contained as local authorities take appropriate measures. Even if cases increase nationally, the bulk of the damage will likely be confined to a limited number of states. Local shutdowns are to be expected as states respond, but we are still far away from even considering national measures, which means the economic recovery is likely to continue through the end of the year.

In fact, it may accelerate. So far, many metrics have recovered much faster than expected. Mobility data is already above pre-pandemic levels, while consumer spending has regained a substantial share of its losses. Auto sales and the housing industry have also shown significant bounces. Overall, for much of the economy, if we trend the recovery over the past several weeks through the end of the year, we could be close to where we were at the start.

Chances are that won’t happen, of course, and setbacks are likely. Still, based on the data so far, the chances of continued improvement look to be well supported. If we do suffer setbacks, the government is likely to provide more stimulus to close the gap. All in all, these trends should counteract any damage.

With Recovery Expected, Markets Are Holding Steady
This is exactly what financial markets are expecting—continued progress on controlling the virus and a smooth economic recovery. Markets have returned close to pre-pandemic highs, and, despite some recent volatility, are holding steady even in the face of state outbreaks and fears from the Fed. Markets expect a positive outcome across the board, and that remains very possible.

The expectation that everything will proceed smoothly, however, limits potential appreciation through the end of the year. With all the good news priced in, valuations are quite high—the highest level in the past decade based on expected earnings. For markets to appreciate beyond that, things have to go even better than expected, which will be difficult.

Markets, for example, now expect earnings for S&P 500 companies to rebound to levels we saw in 2019, which would be an amazing recovery. Stocks, however, are well above the levels we saw then—which also suggests limited future appreciation. A great deal of good news is already priced in, which means there are downside risks if things do not go as well as expected.

Looking at the numbers, the economy will still be in recession in the third quarter but should recover substantially from what looks to be a very weak second quarter. The fourth quarter should see the economy close to breakeven, with the very real prospect of a return to growth at the start of next year.

The stock market, in the form of the S&P 500, will likely finish the year around current levels, maybe a bit higher. Interest rates will remain low, as inflation remains under control and the Fed refrains from any increases.

Positive Momentum Should Continue Through 2020
The story for the rest of 2020 is continued healing—from the pandemic, economic damage, and market turbulence. Although real risks remain and setbacks are inevitable, the outlook is positive. For the coronavirus, we know what to do and are addressing renewed outbreaks. For the economy, the current momentum should keep us improving through the end of the year. And the market’s confidence in a positive outcome is a good sign for the future.

Despite the headlines, despite the risks, and despite everything, we move into the second half of the year in a better place than anyone expected a couple of months ago. That is a very good place to start.

Certain sections of this commentary contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, which are difficult to predict. All indices are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment by the public. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. The S&P 500 is based on the average performance of the 500 industrial stocks monitored by Standard & Poor’s. Emerging market investments involve higher risks than investments from developed countries, as well as increased risks due to differences in accounting methods, foreign taxation, political instability, and currency fluctuation.

© 2020 Commonwealth Financial Network®

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Meesha Luce Earns Safeco Insurance® Award of Excellence for Superior Underwriting Skill

Meesha Luce, ACSR

Meesha Luce

Meesha Luce, ACSR, a personal insurance account executive with Allen Insurance and Financial has earned the Safeco Insurance Award of Excellence, an honor recognizing superior underwriting skill.

This is Luce’s sixth consecutive year earning this recognition, which is achieved only by a select group of agents across the country who sell Safeco Insurance.

“Meesha is part of a personal insurance team working hard every day to make sure we deliver the highest level of service to our customers. We are all very proud to say that Meesha is again part of this elite group of insurance agents honored by Safeco,” said Michael Pierce, president of Allen Insurance and Financial.

The Safeco Award of Excellence honors outstanding agents who have developed a solid underwriting relationship with Safeco and whose agencies have qualified for the Safeco Insurance Premier Partner Award, the company’s top recognition program. Fewer than 10% of agencies who sell Safeco have agents who receive this award.

Luce, a resident of Jefferson, joined Allen Insurance and Financial in 2006. She has been a member of the Maine Insurance Agents Association Young Agents Committee since 2013, was named Maine’s Young Professional of the Year in 2017 and is the vice chairman of the Maine Young Agents Committee.

Allen Insurance and Financial is a multi-year President’s Award and Premier Partner agency, recognition given only to the best independent insurance agencies that sell Safeco. Safeco is a Liberty Mutual Insurance company.

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Insurance Superintendent Says Even Mainers Outside of Flood Zones Should Consider Flood Insurance

From the Maine Bureau of Insurance, 6/1/2020

With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting more named storms, more hurricanes and more major hurricanes during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa strongly recommends that all Mainers consider purchasing flood insurance, even those who live outside of federally designated flood zones.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that in recent years hurricanes have caused above average flooding, with more than 40% of flood claims submitted from outside of high-risk flood areas between the years 2014 and 2018.

“No matter where we live, it’s important that we all understand our flood risk, and what it could cost us,” Cioppa said. “Don’t wait until there’s an imminent threat. Now is the time to call your agent to get a quote and purchase coverage. You can purchase a flood insurance policy at any time, but there is usually a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect.”

Mortgage lenders generally require homes in flood zones to have flood coverage, but it is usually an optional purchase for all others. Many people assume incorrectly that their basic homeowners or renters insurance policy will cover damage from flooding, but flood coverage must almost always be purchased separately.

A homeowners or renters policy may pay for water damage inside a house, such as damage from an ice dam or a burst pipe, but it will usually not pay for unusual or rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters, such as those caused by snowmelt or torrential, soaking rain.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs between June 1 and November 30 each year.

Recommended related resources include:

Flood Insurance: Details are available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by calling 1-800-427-4661 or online at https://www.floodsmart.gov.

Inventory Checklist: A checklist can help establish an insurance claim. Start one at https://www.maine.gov/insurance/consumer/individualsfamilies/homeownersrenters/homeinventorychecklist.html and keep a hard copy in a secure location away from your home, with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents.

Emergency Preparedness: For information about preparing yourself and family for emergency situations, such as floods, storms, power outages and home fires, visit https://www.ready.gov/ The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) provides Maine specific information at https://www.maine.gov/mema/maine-prepares/.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Maine Bureau of Insurance by visiting maine.gov/insurance, calling 800-300-5000 (TTY 711), or e-mailing email hidden; JavaScript is required

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Current Topic: Employment Practices Liability Insurance

In the time of COVID-19, employers in Maine and across the country have had to make numerous and significant decisions about how to manage their business, developing and implementing policies and procedures addressing remote work, layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts, workplace conditions, and a host of other issues.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance for employers covers employment-related liabilities other than on-the-job injuries. This can include legal fees and damages for suits such as wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment and other alleged violations of employees’ legal rights.

Recognizing that smaller companies now need this kind of protection, some insurers provide this coverage as an endorsement to their Business owners Policy (BOP). An endorsement changes the terms and conditions of the policy. Other companies offer EPLI as a stand-alone coverage.

The cost of EPLI coverage depends on your type of business, the number of employees you have and various risk factors such as whether your company has been sued over employment practices in the past. The policies may reimburse your company against the costs of defending a lawsuit in court and for judgments and settlements.

Your EPLI policy could cover legal costs, whether your company wins or loses the suit. Policies also typically do not pay for punitive damages or civil or criminal fines. Liabilities covered by other insurance policies such as workers compensation are excluded from EPLI policies.

The number of lawsuits filed by employees against their employers has been rising, especially during the current pandemic. While most suits are filed against large corporations, no company is immune to such lawsuits.

These are important and complicated matters. We find the best way to address them is by personal conversation. We’re here to help.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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SBA Unveils PPP Loan Forgiveness Application

The instructions for the loan forgiveness portion of the Payroll Protection Loans have been released. This document (PDF) provides you with some guidance if you have been able to take advantage of the loan. Your primary resource will be the bank with which you secured your financing. We are providing this as a reference tool only. Click for a PDF.

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Insurance for Aquaculture Operations

Insurance is just one tool used to manage risk for a business. This basic guide is designed to help make you aware of the various exposures you may have and the types of insurance protection available. Identifying risk and determining methods and techniques to address that risk is the key to our relationships with our clients.

Aquaculture businesses offer a unique combination of activities and exposures which are both land and water based – and results in a unique set of risks. You should always feel free to ask questions of your insurance agent.

THERE ARE POLICIES TO PROTECT

Liability arising out of your operations or the products you sell: Commercial general liability insurance is a standard insurance policy issued to businesses to protect them against 3rd party liability claims for bodily injury and property damage arising out of premises they own, operations they conduct and products they sell.

Your property: Insurance can cover physical assets which can be classified as real property – this includes buildings and structures built on the land and business personal property (contents), which includes furnishings, fixtures and equipment and inventory in/on or adjacent to those structures.

Your equipment: Coverage known as inland marine insurance is property insurance designed to cover the things which can be moved around (mobile equipment, gear, etc.).

Shipment of your property: Transportation insurance is a policy offering coverage on the insured’s property while it is in overland transit from one location to another on any necessary mode of transport, including transport by land, air and water. Coverage applies when insurance is desired on property owned by you, whether the property is shipped in your vehicles or in public conveyances. Coverage can include spoilage arising from overturn or failure of refrigerating equipment

Shipment of your product overseas: Ocean cargo insurance is a type of insurance covering goods being shipped overseas (air or ocean), with coverage provided from the point of origin (your place) to final destination.

Piers/docks/wharves insurance: This provides property insurance for your (owned or leased by you) piers, wharves and docks, floats, platforms, gangplanks, pilings, wiring, pipes, (water lines, gas lines, electrical power, lighting fixtures and equipment permanently affixed).

Your heating-cooling-refrigerating-circulating equipment: Equipment breakdown insurance provides coverage for loss due to mechanical or electrical breakdown of equipment, Coverage applies to the cost to repair or replace the equipment and any other property damaged by equipment breakdown. (Spoilage of your product.)

Your money/your assets: Commercial crime insurance protects a business from losses arising out of business-related crime. Protection through the policy can cover cash, assets, merchandise or other property loss when someone perpetrates fraud, embezzlement, forgery, misrepresentation, robbery, theft or any other type of business‐related crime on the company.

Any and all online activities: Cyber insurance is designed to cover consumers of technology services or products. More specifically, these policies are intended to cover a variety of both liability and property losses which may result when a business engages in various electronic activities, such as e-commerce, collecting confidential data (customers & employees) within an internal electronic network and the myriad of banking activities. An increasing exposure is created by connection to the grid for utility services and the operation of manufacturing equipment with Internet or cloud-based systems.

Damage to your vessel(s) including barges and floating work platforms: Commercial hull insurance provides coverage for physical loss or damage to a vessel’s hull and machinery (for those listed on your policy). Trailers can be included on a hull policy as can coverage for simple pollution cleanup.

Liability arising out of your ownership and operation of vessel(s): Protection & Indemnity provides coverage for a vessel owner’s or operator’s liabilities arising out of the operation of vessels listed on your policy such as damage to third party property, third party bodily injury or injury/death to a crew member.

Clean up and expenses arising out of a pollution event: This is a type of coverage created specifically to manage the costs associated with pollution clean-up (from a vessel) as defined in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and or state and local regulations.

Vehicles and trailers you own or lease: A commercial auto policy includes auto liability (injury or property damage to a 3rd party) and auto physical damage coverages (comprehensive & collision) as well as medical payments for passengers within your vehicle (excluding employees).

Injury to your employees: Coverage for injury to an employee may be provided by either your state act workers compensation or the Jones Act. Understanding which applies to your employees is essential to managing this risk.

Employment practices liability: This type of liability insurance covers wrongful acts arising from the employment process. The most frequent types of claims covered under such policies include: wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation.

You may want or need a number of insurance policies (including those listed above or others), depending on your operations, activities and your appetite for risk.

Your insurance policies may all come from the same company or they may come from several different companies. As an independent insurance agent, we can help you identify risk, formulate solutions to address those risks and develop insurance coverage appropriate and specific to your business.

Information provided by:
Sally Carlisle
94 High St.
Belfast, ME 04915
800-439-4311

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Taking Care: Elder Financial Exploitation

By Sarah Ruef-Lindquist

Sarah Ruef-Lindquist, JD, CTFA

Sarah Ruef-Lindquist, JD, CTFA

The cases of financial abuse targeting the elderly are increasing. A February 2019 article on AARP’s website cited a four-fold increase in suspicious financial activity involving elders between the years 2013 and 2017 as reported by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

We read almost daily about the topic of elder financial abuse. Often perpetrated by family members or caregivers, and even less often reported, the elderly  are particularly vulnerable to this kind of crime. In addition to betraying trust and depriving an elder person of rightful agency over their property, elder financial abuse often thwarts the intent of the victim as to the ultimate beneficiary of their property, be they family, a loved one or a charitable cause. It is financially and emotionally devastating, and may contribute to higher mortality rates. [i]

This kind of abuse is perpetrated at all socio-economic levels. Cases involving ultra-wealthy individuals tend to get the most media attention. When a charity had understood there was it be a gift from a donor following their death, it can put a charity in the difficult position of having to decide whether to challenge an estate plan, incur legal fees and unwanted publicity in asserting their rights as beneficiaries of that estate.

In the summer of 2019, a superior court jury unanimously awarded the Portland Museum of Art more than $4M, including punitive damages, in a case that highlighted the undue influence that caregivers can impose on their patients, threatening the charitable intent of those patients.

That decision was reaffirmed by the state’s highest court in May of 2020.

The museum brought suit after a donor, Eleanor Potter, died after changing her will to leave substantially all of her estate to her caregiver, Annmarie Germain. Potter had within the prior year created an estate plan through a different lawyer, leaving the bulk of her estate to the Museum.

The Museum was put in the unenviable position of having to challenge the will and assert that the caregiver had abused her position and unduly influenced Potter to dramatically change her estate plans to give most of her wealth to Germain. The unanimous jury verdict finding that Germain had coerced Potter into changing her will was upheld on appeal.

The pandemic may have an acute isolating effect on those who by virtue of their age or infirmity are already vulnerable, and maintaining contact with those who would help to create a buffer between them and the unscrupulous is challenging in the era of self-isolation and quarantine. We have the opportunity to help those neighbors, friends and family members by maintain regular contact with them and paying close attention to any indicators of abuse, such as unusual expenditures or transfers of money, sudden changes in financial or estate plans, or neglect of self-care. If you suspect that someone is the victim of elder abuse in Maine, contact Adult Protective Services, www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aps-guardianship/how-to-reporthtml.

 

 

 

[i]Burnett J, Jackson SL, Sinha A, Aschenbrenner AR, Xia R, Murphy KP & Diamond PM. Differential Mortality across Five Types of Substantiated Elder Abuse. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, 2016; 28:2, 59-75

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Post-coronavirus Workplace Preparedness Checklist

By taking workplace preparedness steps such as updating office layouts, encouraging new behaviors and evaluating existing policies, employers can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of employees. To get started, employers can review topics on this checklist. Click for PDF.