FAQs

General Questions

Where should I send completed forms, correspondence, deposits and other written materials?

Regular Mail:

J.Freeman & Associates P.O. Box 3597 Greenville, SC 29608

Express Mail/UPS/Fed Ex:

J.Freeman & Associates 8 Pelham Road Greenville, SC 29615 (864)331-4400

Email: Admin@J-Freeman.com

Fax: (864)331-4401

What are your hours?

 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

How do I make changes or updates to my address or other personal information?

You can either call our office at (864)331-4400, or fill out a Change Form.

What is J.Freeman & Associates’ privacy policy?

To read our full Privacy Policy, please click here.

Health Insurance / ACA

Will my premium be higher or lower with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

The first thing you need to realize is that health insurance (just like any other form of insurance) is a risk management tool, so it is important to be aware of your risk exposure. As with any insurance policy, if your risk goes up, your premiums should go down.

The true cost for a qualified health plan under the ACA may be no less expensive than private insurance plans. Do not mistake a lower premium for a lower cost. In an attempt to appear more “affordable” these plans simply generate a higher exposure in order to provide a lower premium. In order to determine true out-of-pocket costs, you must calculate the total of the premium, deductible, co-insurance, and co-payments. If you’re fortunate, this calculation arrives at roughly the same out-of-pocket amount as your current or previous plan. So for many, Obamacare plans are just a shifting of dollars.

Depending on your income, you may qualify for a tax credit that would lower your premium. You must apply for the credit through the marketplace.

I already have a health insurance plan. Can I keep it?

 The health care law requires all plans to include a broader set of benefits. As a result, many insurers are leaving the market, or discontinuing some plans because they do not include the required benefits, and doing so is cost prohibitive. Millions of Americans have already received these cancellation notices, forcing them to shop for new coverage.

Do I have to purchase my health insurance plan through the government Marketplace?

 Individuals and business owners can still purchase health care coverage through private brokers or directly from insurance carriers. Just be sure that it is a Qualified Health Plan that meets the new federal requirements. You can also have a private insurance broker help you sign up through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Either way, the cost is the same.

When can I enroll in the Marketplace?

 For 2014 coverage, the open enrollment period ended March 31, 2014. The open enrollment period for 2015 coverage is November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015. You may also qualify for special enrollment periods outside of open enrollment (see Special Enrollment Period and Qualifying Life Event).

Can I keep my doctors?

 Depending on the plan you choose in the Marketplace, you may be able to keep your current doctor. Before choosing a plan in the Marketplace, check the list of providers in each plan’s network to see if your doctors are included.

I have a pre-existing condition. Can I get health insurance?

One reason your coverage will never be dropped, is for a pre-existing condition. A key component of the new health care law is that insurance companies can no longer charge more or deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

As of January 1, 2014, insurers are also not allowed to limit the dollar amount of health benefits—either annually or over a lifetime. And, you cannot be dropped or denied coverage when you get sick.

I hear that a lot of people are being dropped from their health plans. Will I be dropped, too?

Here are a few reasons why you may be dropped from your plan:

  • The insurance carrier is exiting the marketplace – Some insurance carriers have plans that are not making them any money, or that do not provide coverage that meets the new federal mandate.
  • Your employer is dropping the group coverage – Many employers can’t afford to keep up with the increase in costs. Small businesses with less than 50 employees are not required to provide health insurance, and even large employer groups may find it less expensive to pay the fine than to provide medical coverage.
  • Your spouse’s employer is no longer offering family coverage – In an attempt to maintain corporate earnings, some employers may choose to pay for coverage for the employee only. Even if they do allow for family members on the policy, the portion that you would have to pay may be so high, that you would be better off finding a policy elsewhere.

I've never been able to afford health insurance. Now that it's a requirement, how am I supposed to pay for it?

 If you can’t afford your health insurance premiums, you may qualify for a subsidy. The law sets a cap of the amount of premium that individuals and families will have to pay based upon that person’s/family’s income in relation to the Federal Poverty Level. You must apply for the subsidy through the marketplace.

Is there any way that I can get out of purchasing a health insurance plan?

The ACA’s “individual mandate” requires all Americans to have some form of health insurance, or pay a fine. But, as with everything in life, there will always be some exceptions to the rule. Those exempt from penalties for noncompliance, include:

  • Prisoners
  • Indian tribal members (Native American descent)
  • Members of certain religious groups or health care sharing ministries (HCSM)
  • Anyone uninsured for less than three months per year (e.g., during a job transition)
  • Those with incomes too low to require a federal tax return
  • Individuals that have suffered a hardship (available on a case-by-case basis)

Personal Property & Casualty Insurance

My child will soon be old enough to drive. At what point do I add them as a driver to my auto policy?

You do not need to add your child when they start to drive under a learner’s permit. Once they get their actual license, you will need to add them to your policy.

My child is currently on our auto policy, but is going away to college. Do I need to make any changes to the policy?

If your home is still your child’s legal residence, then no, you do not need to make any changes. However, if that child has a vehicle that will be staying at your home and not going to college with them, you may qualify for a discount on your policy. If your child establishes a new legal residence outside your home while attending college, you may need to make some changes. Contact your agent to find out more.

What is Personal Liability Umbrella coverage?

A Personal Liability Umbrella policy provides additional coverage on top of your auto and homeowners liability policies. It supplements your existing policies to provide additional personal liability protection.

The Umbrella policy goes into effect after the underlying liability limits on your homeowners or auto policy is exhausted. Therefore, your policy must have certain limits in order to qualify for an Umbrella policy.

What’s the difference between cancellation and nonrenewal of a homeowners policy?

Typically, an insurance company can only cancel an active homeowners policy for one or all of the following reasons:

  • The policy has been in force less than 60 days
  • Failure to pay the premium
  • Material misrepresentation on the application or commitment of fraud

Nonrenewal of a homeowners policy is a decision your or the insurance company can make to discontinue coverage at the end of a policy term. Depending on where you live, if your insurance company chooses not to renew your policy at the end of the term, it must notify you in writing and provide an explanation within a specified period of time.

During a storm, a tree from my neighbor’s yard fell and destroyed my fence. Which homeowner’s policy pays for the damage–mine or my neighbor’s?

Your own policy should cover the loss. Your insurance company may be able to recover the amount it pays you for the loss and your deductible from your neighbor’s insurance policy, if the loss occurred as a result of your neighbor’s negligence (such as, failing to take down a dead tree).

Due to an extreme storm, we had some flooding which caused damage to my house. Am I covered under my homeowners policy?

 A standard homeowners policy does not cover losses resulting from a flood. You would need to purchase a separate flood policy. Earthquakes are another hazard not covered under standard homeowners insurance. Again, a separate policy would be required.

Commercial Insurance

I am starting a small business. What will a commercial insurance policy cover, and what are my options?

Commercial insurance will help protect many of the risks your business will face, including:

  • Damage or destruction to your office equipment or inventory
  • Loss of income if you have to close temporarily due to a covered loss
  • Certain business liability exposures related to bodily injury and property damage to others
  • Risks to your property/inventory while in transit or storage
  • Theft or loss of tolls and equipment
  • Crime coverage including robbery, burglary and employee dishonesty

There is a wide range of coverage, limit and deductible options available. And, since all businesses are different, there are no pre-packaged solutions. A customized package of coverages will be created to fit your specific needs.

What is the difference between general liability and professional liability?

 General liability is basically slips, trips and falls—bodily injury and/or property damage to a 3rd party.

Any time you give advice, guidance, or a professional opinion, you are opening yourself up to a professional liability claim. A professional liability policy will protect your business from such a claim arising from bad advice or guidance.

I work out of my home. Will my homeowners policy cover my business?

Yes, but on a very limited basis. Loss of business property is usually reimbursed up to $2,500 for loss or damage that occurs on the premises, and may not cover any losses that occur away from home. Even for a very small business, these limits may be too low to cover your losses. Please also note that there is no business liability coverage in a standard homeowners policy. You may be able to secure some additional coverage for your homeowners policy, but liability and property damage policies would offer you better protection. Liability will protect you if someone is injured on your premises or by one of your products. Property damage will cover losses and/or damage to tools, computers, equipment, and a host of other things.

What is the purpose of a commercial auto policy, and do I need one?

Commercial auto insurance provides coverage for cars, trucks and vans used by you or your employees for business purposes. Vehicles are not covered by your business owners policy or personal auto insurance, so a commercial auto policy is needed. Whether you provide company vehicles or your employees use their own vehicles, commercial auto insurance is a must—in fact, in most states it’s a requirement.

Why do I need certificates of insurance from sub-contractors?

An audit may require that you show proof that sub-contractors had their own insurance coverage. The sub-contractor’s certificates of insurance will keep you from being charged for their exposure.

When do I need to buy workers compensation insurance?

Most states require workers compensation insurance when you have one or more employees. The penalties are usually quite stiff for employers who do not purchase workers compensation.

How is workers compensation calculated?

The pricing of workers compensation insurance is based upon your employee payroll, the number of employees and their job classifications, classification of your business, and past claims.

What is the purpose of a commercial auto policy, and do I need one?

Commercial auto insurance provides coverage for cars, trucks and vans used by you or your employees for business purposes. Vehicles are not covered by your business owners policy or personal auto insurance, so a commercial auto policy is needed. Whether you provide company vehicles or your employees use their own vehicles, commercial auto insurance is a must—in fact, in most states it’s a requirement.

Benefits

What is a health savings account (HSA)?

 A Health Savings Account (HSA) is an account that allows you to save money for medical expenses on a tax-advantaged basis. Funds are deposited into the HSA on a tax-free or tax-deductible basis, funds grow on a tax-deferred basis, and remain tax-free when used for eligible medical expenses. It is the only existing account that provides a triple tax benefit where funds, when used for eligible expenses, are never taxed. In order to contribute to an HSA, the HSA must be combined with an HSA-compatible health plan (often referred to as a high deductible health plan or HDHP).

How do HSA contributions work, and are there any limits?

Contributions can be made by you, your employer or a third party (e.g. family member or friend). Contributions can either be made on a tax-free basis through a Section 125 Plan or directly into the account on a tax-deductible basis. The IRS sets the maximum annual contribution limit. Generally, HSA contributions do not have to be prorated; however, certain exceptions and conditions apply.

When you enroll in a high-deductible health plan and open an HSA before the first day of December, you can contribute the total allowable amount for that year. To take advantage of the tax savings, however, you must stay enrolled in an eligible high-deductible health plan for the following 12 months. If you end your coverage under a high-deductible health plan, you should calculate the pro-rated allowable contribution based on the number of months you had qualifying coverage. If you’re 55 or older, be sure to include any catch-up contributions you made to determine the pro-rated amount.

IRS Contribution Limits

Single Coverage

Family Coverage

Contribution Limit (2014)

$3,300

$6,550

Contribution Limit (2013)

$3,250

$6,450

Additional Catch-Up Contribution (for those 55 and older)

$1,000

$1,000

Contributions can be made at any time up until the tax filing deadline, typically April 15.

Investments

What is a dividend?

 When a company makes a profit and decides not to reinvest the profit in the business, it can pay out a portion to each of its shareholders. This is called a dividend. When a company decides to pay out a dividend, it will announce it to the shareholders on a date called the declaration date. Investors are required to have owned the stock by a certain date (called the record date) in order to receive a portion. On the payment date, the company will generally issue either stock or cash to its shareholders.

What is diversification?

 Diversification is the spreading of risk by putting assets in several categories of investments: stocks, bonds, money market instruments and a mutual fund with a broad range of stocks in 1 portfolio. “Don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket” is a common way to characterize diversification. If you have a well-balanced portfolio, you should have some protection against various market swings.

What is asset allocation?

 Asset allocation is a way to measure and control some of the investment risks you take and is an integral part of any investment plan. Asset allocation literally means allocating or dividing your investment dollars across an array of assets (for instance, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash equivalent securities) in order to diversify your portfolio and attempt to lessen the overall risk of your investments. For example, placing some of your money in higher-risk securities and some in lower-risk securities can help lead to a more balanced risk level in the portfolio. The overall level of risk you choose is based primarily on your tolerance to assume risk in exchange for potential rewards.

What is a defined contribution plan?

 A defined contribution plan is a type of retirement savings plan that is funded by contributions made by the individual employees through pretax paycheck deductions. Employers may also contribute to employee accounts through matching a percentage of employee contributions. The 401(k) plan is a type of defined contribution plan. The Simple IRA plan, SEP, employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), and profit sharing plan are other examples of defined contribution plans.

What is a money market account?

A money market is more or less a mutual fund that attempts to keep its share price at $1. Professional money managers will take your cash and invest it in government T-bills (aka “treasuries”), savings bonds, certificates of deposit, and other safe and conservative short term commercial paper. They then turn around and pay you, the owner of the money market, your portion of the interest earned on those investments.

Money market accounts are frequently used to hold cash between investments.

What is an alternative investment?

There are three traditional types of asset classes: stocks, bonds and cash. An alternative investment is one that does not fit into any of the traditional asset classes and can include precious metals, art, wine, antiques, coins, real estate, private equity, carbon credits, and film production.

Most alternative investments are complex in nature, having limited regulations and a relative lack of liquidity. Many also have high minimum investments and fee structures compared to mutual funds and other traditional forms of investments.

The main appeal of alternative investments is their ability to provide returns regardless of conditions such as a strong economy, low inflation, or a bullish stock market. Therefore, one of the key benefits of alternative investments is this ability to profit in practically any economic environment.

Advantages of alternative investments:

  • Returns perform independent of stock market performance
  • Historically, have performed well during market crises (Oct. 1987, Asian crisis 1998, 9/11 tragedy, credit crisis 2007-2008)
  • Present sophisticated investment opportunities that cross asset classes
  • Provide broader portfolio diversification
  • Low correlation to traditional investments such as stocks, real estate and bonds

Have the potential to produce above average returns