Yesterday evening, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill granting a 25 percent premium reduction to individuals buying insurance through the individual health market in Minnesota in 2017, who are not receiving a federal income tax subsidy. While some details are still sketchy, here is our initial understanding of how this will work:
This premium relief will be available to every Minnesotan not receiving a federal subsidy who purchased their coverage in the individual market. The individual market is where you buy health insurance when you are not insured through your employer, through Medicare or through a state sponsored health plan (Minnesota Care or Medical Assistance). Approximately five percent of Minnesotans are insured in the individual market.
The 25 percent reduction will reduce the amount you are billed each month. For example, if your premium is $1000 per month, the insurance company will only bill you for $750. Or on $200 premium, your bill will be reduced to $150. The state of Minnesota will reimburse your insurance company for the difference.
Unfortunately, you won't see this reduction until your March or April invoice. The good news is that the reduction will be retroactive once it kicks in. This means that if your premium is $1000 a month in January through March, in April you will receive an extra $750 credit, reducing your April bill to zero. Starting then in May, you would pay your new reduced amount of $750 a month. Likewise, if you pay $200 a month for January through March, nothing will be due in April and you will pay $150 starting in May.
Unlike the federal tax subsidy which requires you to buy your insurance through MNsure, this premium reduction is available when you buy your insurance from us - so you can avoid the hassles of MNsure! Also, there are no income minimums or maximums to qualify for relief.
Please note this premium reduction is for 2017 only, to provide time for reforms to be adopted in hopes of improving the individual health insurance system for 2018. Also, please be aware that you cannot receive both a federal subsidy and also this state-paid premium reduction.
One side-note is that there is a cap on how much the state of Minnesota can pay under this relief program. The state of Minnesota will determine in July whether there are enough funds to cover a full 25 percent reduction for the entire year. If not, they will reduce the percentage of relief from 25 percent to a lower percentage for the final four months of the year.
Many Minnesotans may have been waiting to see if the relief would occur before buying insurance for 2017, simply because they can't afford the sky-high premiums. If this is your situation, it is very important for you to be aware that open enrollment ends Wednesday, February 8. If you don't apply for coverage by this date, you will be locked out for the end of the year (except in the case of a qualifying life events and certain other exemptions). Click here to get started - so we can help you before time runs out.
Ice houses have come a long way in the last few years. Many of us hardy Northerners have invested in fish houses which are becoming more and more like full-amenity camping trailers, with the added bonuses of being much better heated and insulated and being able to be lowered onto the ice. We now have a manufacturer right here in Bemidji cranking out these units fast as they can.
First of all, is there a legal requirement to carry insurance coverage on an ice house? The state of Minnesota requires you to carry Liability coverage while on public roads. The good news is that for a trailer, your Minnesota Personal Auto policy will extend Liability coverage from the vehicle pulling the trailer. (Note that coverage might work differently on a commercial auto policy.) But as long as your pickup is covered under your Minnesota Personal Auto policy, whatever it is hauling is covered for Liability. So if you backup into something with the trailer or swing to wide and hit another vehicle, the resulting property damage will be covered by the policy covering your vehicle pulling it.
However, this does not mean that any damage to the fish house from such a collision will also be covered by your Auto insurance policy. Unless you add the fish house as a trailer to your policy for additional premium, your Personal Auto insurance won't cover any damage to it, even if it is being pulled by a covered vehicle at the time the damage occurs. Homeowners policies do usually provide some coverage for trailers, but this is usually limited to one or two thousand dollars - not nearly enough for newer fish houses - many of which are worth $10,000 to $25,000 new.
So how should you go about insuring your investment? You have a couple options.
As mentioned above, you may be able to add the fish house as a trailer to your Auto policy. This will typically give you coverage for physical damage, theft or falling through the ice. However, coverage will usually be limited to the current depreciated value (or the value you stated, whichever is less). Also, if someone breaks into your ice house and steals personal property, most Auto policies won't cover the personal property loss - only the damage to fish house itself.
Keep in mind that in the event of a break-in, you may be able to file a claim on your Homeowners policy for the items stolen from your ice house, but this would mean absorbing both your fish house deductible and your Homeowners deductible -which is usually $1000 or even more. Also, filing a theft claim on your Homeowners policy usually leads to increased rates going forward.
To get better, more well-rounded coverage, we recommend considering a specialized RV policy to insure your fish house. Not only can you get coverage for its contents, but if it is brand new you may be able to secure Total Loss Replacement coverage - which would pay for a new unit in the event of a total loss within the first few years (instead of just paying the current depreciated value). You may also be able to add Roadside Assistance and other coverage features as well.
What questions do you have about insuring your fish house? Send us a message and let us know.
We are pleased to bring the IMT Group on board at Pine Country Insurance. As an independent insurance agency, we choose to partner with a number of quality insurance companies who we believe will bring value to our current and prospective clients. IMT is a great regional insurance company who will strengthen the insurance options we can offer.
IMT provides value-driven Home & Auto bundles. For homes built in the last 50 years, they offer their signature GEM policy, which adds a variety of coverage features and enhancements to stand out from the average Homeowners policy. On their Auto policy, they add value with Identity Recovery, New Car Replacement coverage, coverage for a rental car during your claim, pet injury coverage and more. IMT also insures off road and recreational vehicles and watercraft, and they offer Personal Umbrella liability protection.
Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, IMT's motto is "Be Worry Free with IMT". They write insurance products in Iowa, Minnesota and four other midwestern states. The IMT Group is rated "A" (Excellent) by AM Best, for its financial strength.
IMT was founded in 1883 in West Union, Iowa, then known as Iowa Mutual Tornado. IMT began by providing tornado insurance, growing to be the world's largest cooperative association in 1927. In the 1960s they began writing Homeowners and Auto insurance, shortening their name to IMT in 1970. They have a long and storied history of providing valuable insurance protection.
It’s winter. There is plenty of snow on the ground, and one of northern Minnesota’s great pastimes is in full swing – snowmobile season in the north country. Do snowmobiles need to be insured in Minnesota?
The answer is that you can legally operate a snowmobile in Minnesota without insurance, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Not only is the value of your sled at risk if you get in an accident or your snowmobile is stolen, but, more importantly, your financial assets and future could be at risk as well if there is a serious injury for which you are held responsible.
If you think that a snowmobile accident is too unlikely to ever happen to you or someone you know, think again. Each year, around 14,000 people in North America are injured on snowmobiles, with approximately 200 snowmobile fatalities. This shouldn’t be surprising, since snowmobile these days weigh up to six hundred pounds and can reach speeds of 90 miles per hour (way above Minnesota’s 50mph maximum speed limit).
Just like when you are driving your car, you are financial responsible for any injury or property damage that results from your actions operating a snowmobile. That’s why Liability insurance coverage is important – protection against the potential of a financially catastrophic loss if there’s a serious accident.
Beyond Liability insurance, you should consider purchasing Physical Damage coverage for your sled. New snowmobiles are now costing more than $11,000, and even a used sled may represent a significant financial investment worthy of protection.
Physical Damage coverage will typically cover damage caused by accidents, theft and even fire if your snowmobile is stored in a garage that burns down. (Contrary to common assumptions, snowmobiles are not covered by most Homeowners insurance policies, even while stored in your garage.) If you are buying a new sled, ask us about optional Replacement Cost coverage, which would pay to replace your snowmobile with a brand new one, in the event of a total loss.
Other coverage you should consider for your snowmobile include Medical (to cover your basis medical bills if hurt while riding) and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (to protect yourself against riders and other motorists who don’t do the prudent thing and buy coverage – in case you are injured in an accident).
Snowmobile insurance is typically less expensive than Auto insurance. In fact, a seasoned adult rider with a good driving record may be able to fully insure their sled for $10 or $20 a month, or even less for just basic Liability coverage.
What questions do you have about snowmobile insurance? We’d love to hear from you.
Ken Cobb is owner of Pine Country Insurance and has been active in the insurance industry for over 15 years. Meet Ken.
Coverage descriptions found in this blog are summaries provided for general educational purposes and cannot fully detail the terms, conditions, limitations or exclusions of a specific insurance policy. Please read your policy carefully.