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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.

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In the Spirit of Helping Others

Our clients include many of the small businesses and non-profit organizations we count on in our communities. News and social media include stories daily of Mainers helping Mainers and raising money to help others  We thought we would highlight some those efforts.

Opportunity Knox: Hosted online by the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, this is a centralized way to send funds to Knox County area businesses and non-profit organizations. You decide how much you want to give in support, and the website allows you to divide that amount among the businesses and organizations listed. Many, though not all, of those listed are our clients. Participation is not automatic – businesses and non-profits have to ask to be listed. More information: opportunityknox.me

In Belfast, the City of Belfast has set up the Belfast Keep the Faith Fund, which is providing grocery vouchers to residents and grants to small businesses. Individuals can call 338-3370 x131 for more information. Donations can be made by check to the City of Belfast with subject line: Belfast KTF Fund and mailed to: City of Belfast, Attn: Belfast Keep the Faith Fund. 131 Church Street, Belfast, ME 04915. A donation to the Belfast Keep the Faith Fund is tax deductible. More information: cityofbelfast.org/groceryvoucher and cityofbelfast.org/smallbusinessgrant.

On MDI, the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce is highlighting those businesses staying open on their website here: visitbarharbor.com/open. To the best of our knowledge there’s no formal effort launched in Southwest Harbor yet, but we are monitoring the situation and should that change we’ll update this information asap.

Statewide, a host of organizations have banded together to launch Pay It Forward Maine which works in a similar fashion to the Pen Bay Chamber’s Opportunity Knox. You can find full details here: payitforwardmaine.com

Also, there is the statewide Maine Helps program, designed to connect Mainers looking to volunteer time, treasure or talent so that their impact is maximized and everyone stays safe in the process. Maine Helps connects you with ways to immediately help support nonprofits, businesses, and your community in the fight against COVID-19. More information can be found at this link.maine.gov/covid19/maine-helps

Update 4/27/2020:
The UMaine Cooperative Extension is providing an updated  list of agricultural (cheese, eggs, produce, etc.) and seafood pickup locations where consumers can purchase food from the people who produce or grow it. Many local fishermen and producers are organizing more informal efforts. Additional information about these can be found on social media outlets like Facebook. Here is a link to the Cooperative Extension web page: https://extension.umaine.edu/agriculture/farm-product-and-pickup-directory/

Any support for these efforts– however small it seems – can make a difference for our communities.

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Memo to our Customers and Community / COVID-19

We hope you are safe and well.

Our doors are closed to the public as we do our part to protect our employee-owners, our customers and our communities. Still, and as always, if you have questions, or need assistance with your insurance policy, we are here to help.

Our team is available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Many of us are working remotely, so please keep in mind that your caller ID may show a number different than the usual Allen numbers you are used to seeing. If you need to make a payment, please call (207) 236-4311.

We have always believed that the best insurance service comes from a personal conversation, because what is true for one individual or business may not be true for another. This is why we are looking forward to talking with you to review coverage, offer advice and assist with claims matters. Regarding payments, many of our carrier partners have revised their standards for payment and billing flexibility.

We are here to help.

* * *

24 March 2020

As more of our employees work remotely, you may find that some return calls will come from different numbers, or numbers you may not recognize, at least initially. As always, our friendly switchboard personnel are here to answer your calls on our main phone number – and we are able to forward calls quickly to our remote employees. Still, we wanted to let you know your caller ID may not say Allen Agency like it always used to. We’re here to help!

* * *

18 March 2020

At Allen Insurance and Financial, we continue to make the safety and health of our employees and community our number one priority. To that end, as we continue to monitor the information and guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as from local and state public health authorities, we would like to let our customers know that effective immediately, and until further notice, we are not accepting walk-in or in-person appointments at our offices.

Your financial advisor, insurance agent or account manager remains available during our regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., by phone and email and our website. For assistance, or to make a payment, please call (207) 236-4311 or (800) 439-4311 or email your Allen Insurance representative. We are here to help.

Additional information:
AllenIF.com/contact
AllenIF.com/claims
AllenIF.com/locations
AllenIF.com/team

 

**

13 March 2020

As we continue to monitor the information and guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as from local and state public health authorities, we would like to let the community know that at this time, we plan to stay open and available in person. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 9  a.m. to 3  p.m.

If you would prefer to conduct business over the phone or by email, we understand. Please call us at 207-236-4311 or 800-439-4311 or email your Allen insurance representative.

Ask Allen. We are here to help.

Additional information:
AllenIF.com/claims
AllenIF.com/locations
AllenIF.com/team

We will update this page as needed.

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A Year-End Financial Planning Checklist

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s time to begin organizing your finances for the new year. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of key planning topics to consider.

Savings and Investments
Revisit your retirement contributions. Review how much you’re contributing to your workplace retirement account. If you’re not taking full advantage of your employer’s match, it’s a great time to consider increasing your contribution. If you’ve already maxed out your match or your employer doesn’t offer one, boosting your contribution could still offer tax advantages. Now is also a good time to ensure that your portfolio allocation remains in line with your objectives.

Take stock of your goals. Did you set savings goals for 2019? Realistically evaluate how you did, and think about your goals for next year. If you determine that you are off track, we’d be happy to help you develop and monitor a financial plan.

Health and Wellness
Spend your flexible spending account (FSA) dollars. If you have an FSA, those funds may be forfeited if you don’t use them by year-end. (Some FSAs offer a 2.5-month grace period or the ability to carry over up to $500 into the next year; check with your employer to see if those options are available.) It’s also a good time to calculate your FSA allotment for next year, based on your current account excess or deficit.

If you’re not using an FSA, evaluate your qualifying health care costs to see if establishing one for 2020 would make sense.

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
Manage your marginal tax rate. If you’re on the threshold of a tax bracket, deferring income or accelerating deductions may help you reduce your tax exposure. It might make sense to defer some of your income to 2020 if doing so will put you in a lower tax bracket. Accelerating deductions, such as medical expenses or charitable contributions, into the current tax year (rather than paying for deductible items in 2020) may have the same effect. In addition, reviewing your capital gains and losses may reveal tax planning opportunities—for instance, harvesting losses to offset capital gains.

Here are a few key 2020 tax thresholds to keep in mind:

• The 37 percent marginal tax rate affects those with taxable incomes in excess of $518,400 (individual), $622,050 (married filing jointly), $518,400 (head of household), and $311,025 (married filing separately).
• The 20 percent capital gains tax rate applies to those with a taxable income in excess of $441,450 (individual), $496,600 (married filing jointly), $469,050 (head of household), and $248,300 (married filing separately).
• The 3.8 percent surtax on investment income applies to the lesser of net investment income or the excess of modified adjusted gross income over $200,000 (individual), $250,000 (married filing jointly), $200,000 (head of household), and $125,000 (married filing separately).

Consider the benefits of charitable giving. Donating to charity is another good strategy for reducing taxable income. If you’d like to help a worthy cause while trimming your taxes, it’s worth exploring your charitable goals and various gifting alternatives.

Make a strategy for stock options. If you hold stock options, now is a good time to make a strategy for managing current and future income. Consider the timing of a nonqualified stock option exercise. In light of your estimated tax picture, would it make sense to avoid accelerating income into the current tax year or to defer income to future years? And don’t forget about the alternative minimum tax (AMT). If you’re considering exercising incentive stock options before year-end, have your tax advisor prepare an AMT projection to see if there’s any tax benefit to waiting until January of the following year.

Plan for estimated taxes and required minimum distributions (RMDs). When considering your taxes for 2019, be sure to take any potentially large bonuses or a prosperous business year into account. You may have to file estimated taxes or increase the upcoming January payment. If you’re turning 70½, you’ll need a strategy for taking RMDs from your traditional IRA and 401(k) plans.

Adjust your withholding. If you think you may be subject to an estimated tax penalty, consider asking your employer (via Form W-4) to increase your withholding for the remainder of the year to cover the shortfall. The biggest advantage of this is that withholding is considered as having been paid evenly throughout the year instead of when the dollars are actually taken from your paycheck. You can also use this strategy to make up for low or missing quarterly estimated tax payments.

Proactive Planning
Review your estate documents. To help ensure that your estate plan stays in tune with your goals and needs, you should review and update it on an ongoing basis to account for any life changes or other circumstances. If you haven’t done so during 2019, take time to:

• Check trust funding
• Update beneficiary designations
• Take a fresh look at trustee and agent appointments
• Review provisions of powers of attorney and health care directives
• Ensure that you fully understand all of your documents

Check your credit report. It’s important to monitor your credit report regularly for suspicious activity that could indicate identity theft. Federal law requires that each of the nationwide credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) provide you with a free copy of your report every 12 months, at your request.

Get professional advice. Of course, this list is far from exhaustive, and you may have unique planning concerns not covered here. As you prepare for the coming year, please feel free to reach out to us to discuss the financial issues and deadlines that are most relevant to you.

Whatever your planning may entail, we wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020!

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Accepting Internship Applications for Summer 2020

3/26/2020: We are pausing the application process for this program.

Allen Insurance and Financial is accepting applications for its 2020 summer internship program, which offers a 12-week immersion into the company’s three insurance divisions (personal, business and health) and its financial planning/investment management group.

Applications from college juniors and seniors will receive priority review; all applicants will be considered. This is a paid position, based in Camden.

To receive a copy of the job description and start the application process, please email Jill Lang at email hidden; JavaScript is required Deadline for applications will be set in early 2020. Interns should expect to start work in late May or early June 2020 and work through mid- to late August.

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Chemo Caps for Kids Program Receives Strong Support from Midcoast Community

Kim Edgar

Kim Edgar

Allen Insurance and Financial is pleased to announce its continued support for the Chemo Caps for Kids initiative sponsored by Commonwealth Cares Fund Inc., the 501(c)(3) charity founded by Allen’s Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer, Commonwealth Financial Network®. Chemo Caps for Kids provides hand-knit and crocheted hats to children undergoing cancer treatment.

“We’ve donated more than 5,000 hats to hospitals across the United States through our Chemo Caps for Kids program,” said Commonwealth CEO Wayne Bloom. “What started as a homegrown effort to help bring smiles to a few kids’ faces has grown into a community-wide project that is making an even greater impact. Our knitters and crocheters now include employees, advisors, family of staff and advisors, and friends of friends who are all using their talents to help kids who are in treatment.”

For five years, Allen Insurance and Financial has been participating in the creation of these caps and invites the community to join the effort. Kimberly Edgar of Allen’s Camden office is coordinating the program locally.

“We are grateful to Cashmere Goat in Camden, Maine Alpaca Experience in Northport, Unity and Ellsworth and Heavenly Socks Yarns in Belfast for their help with publicity to their customers,” said Edgar, noting that a large of Midcoast knitters, all pretty much anonymous, have dedicated  serious time and creativity to this cause.

Anyone interested in donating yarn or knitting time to this project can call Edgar at 230-5831.

Some of hats from Maine have been distributed to hospitals in New England as well as to places such as Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Commonwealth Cares provides contributions of time, talent, and financial support to a wide range of philanthropic efforts aimed at relieving human suffering, promoting social and economic growth, and sustaining and protecting our planet’s resources. All operating and administrative expenses for Commonwealth Cares are borne by Commonwealth. One hundred percent of every dollar contributed goes directly to those in need.

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MOFGA Receives Grant from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Allen Insurance and Financial

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) recently received a $5,000 grant from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and Allen Insurance and Financial to increase access to and affordability of healthy, nutritious food for low income families. MOGFA has a longstanding commitment to help all Maine people acquire local, organic foods regardless of geography or income. Pictured in the photo, left to right, are: Bill Whitmore, Maine Market Vice President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care; Sarah Alexander, Executive Director, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and Dan Wyman, JD, Insured Benefits Manager, Allen Insurance and Financial.Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Allen Insurance and Financial donation to MOFGA

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What to do in Case of an Auto Accident

You’re involved in an auto accident. It’s a stressful time but it’s important to remain focused and attentive or find someone who can do that for you.

It is imperative to attend to the injured first, move out of the right of way if possible, call 911 and wait for help.

As your insurance agency, we’d like to remind you about the importance of collecting information and documenting the scene. Here are some recommendations for steps to take in the time immediately after an auto accident.

Call the police, even if the accident is minor. A police report can be invaluable to the claim process and help establish who’s at fault.

Gather information from others involved in the accident:

  • Drivers and passengers (names and contact information)
  • Vehicle descriptions (make, model, year)
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • License plate numbers
  • Insurance companies and policy numbers
  • Eyewitnesses: names and contact information
  • Accident scene location or address
  • Police officer’s name and badge number

Also:

  • Take photos of all vehicles involved and the accident scene, if it is safe to do so.
  • Do not sign any document unless it’s for the police or your insurance agent.
  • Be polite, but don’t tell anyone the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.

Later:

  • Call your insurance company to start the claim process (even if nothing is ever filed).
  • Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible.
  • If a report is written, get a copy from the police department as soon as possible.

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Deb McDonald Achieves ACSR Designation

Deb McDonald

Deb McDonald


Deb McDonald,  a business insurance account manager at Allen Insurance and Financial recently achieved the designation of Accredited Customer Service Representative in Commercial  Lines from the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.
McDonald has been with Allen Insurance and Financial since 1995.  She lives with her family in Union.
The ACSR designation program was developed to recognize the contribution made to each customer by the service they are provided through independent insurance agencies such as Allen Insurance and Financial.
Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents & brokers with more than 300,000 members. Find them online at independentagent.com.

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Lucas Dunbar Earns AAI Accreditation

Lucas DunbarLucas Dunbar has earned an Accredited Adviser in Insurance designation from the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters.
Dunbar joined the business insurance team at L.S. Robinson Co., our Southwest Harbor, Maine office, in 2016. He is a native of Southwest Harbor and a graduate of Mt. Desert Island High School. His great uncle Lawrence Robinson founded L.S. Robinson Co. in 1932.
Designations such as AAI demonstrate an insurance broker’s tested knowledge in their field. Allen Insurance and Financial supports all its employees in their efforts to continue their education.
The AAI program requires nine separate exams; the course outlines risk analysis techniques and tools, while providing an in-depth understanding of commercial insurance products and services.