How COVID-19 Gave the Economy a Case of the Sniffles
By Diane Tait
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
It’s been more than a year since COVID-19 changed the way in which we work, shop, and play. While the vaccine has given those who’ve received it hope of getting back to a lifestyle that approximates the one they had before the virus reared its ugly head, what most people fail to realize is how the Coronavirus will continue to disrupt the economy long after it has faded from view. Some of these changes not only disrupted our routines, in some cases, they also affected our insurance coverage.
Did you use the downtime to upgrade your home?
While many industries suffered through the pandemic, the home improvement industry actually saw increased activity. That’s because nearly everyone wound up spending more time at home. As a result, many homeowners decided to take the time to upgrade their homes, their yards, or even add a swimming pool. If you feathered your nest during the pandemic, you need to touch base with your insurance agent since any upgrade to your property will increase the replacement cost of your home. Others, like adding a pool can increase your liability risks. The same thing is true if you acquired a dog in the past year.
Did your family fall through the cracks when it came to health insurance?
The fact of the matter is that the pandemic affected the very fabric of society in such a way that many people are anxious not only about their health but about their livelihoods as well. One of the biggest financial impacts have been due to job losses. During the period of April through May 2020, more than thirty-six million Americans filed for unemployment. This has not only meant financial hardship for millions of people, it also meant that many of these same former employees lost their health insurance benefits. While some of those laid off were able to get coverage under a spouse’s or parent’s healthcare plan, many more were left scrambling to find coverage via Medicaid or the ACA insurance exchange, while others were left with no health insurance coverage at all. When faced with limited means, some consumers were forced to drop their coverage when their employment was terminated. Even some of those who remained employed found themselves under the gun when an employer decided to no longer offer health coverage due to economic factors.
Is there a doctor in the mouse?
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
Another way of obtaining health care for many has been to increasingly rely on digital health tools. Since the start of the pandemic, healthcare devices and apps have seen a dramatic surge in demand. Everything from health monitoring and remote diagnosis to prescription ordering and health trackers have gotten much more popular in the past twelve months than they ever were before the start of the pandemic. Live online health coaches and health portals that allow members to engage with a physician or virtual assistant to help make diagnoses have also gained widespread acceptance from people who previously weren’t receptive to telemedicine.
Not all the news is bad.
After a year of being on a crisis footing, most people are tired of being inundated with bad news. So, here’s some good news. If you’re working from home on either a full or part-time basis, you probably drive your vehicle far less than you did prior to the pandemic. This fact alone could entitle you to a reduction in your auto insurance premiums. That’s right, if you drive significantly fewer miles now than you did in 2019, you should contact your insurance agent to let them know about it. You could be pleasantly surprised at the savings this change in lifestyle represents, especially if you now drive 5,000 miles per year or less.
Since the start of the pandemic, it's also been possible to find deals online or even call to negotiate a better deal with some creditors. Realizing the hardships that many families have been under since Coronavirus hit the US, credit card companies, banks, retailers and other businesses are eager to help consumers get through these trying times. Even the federal government is pitching in by offering Paycheck Protection Loans to business owners and independent agents who have seen their financial resources dwindle due to COVID-19. According to sba.gov:
“The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll. First Draw PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits, and may also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.”
If you previously received a PPP loan in 2020 you may still be eligible for what is termed a Second Draw PPP Loan provided you submit an application no later than March 31, 2021. Who may apply?
- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed persons
- Any small business concern that meets SBA’s size standards
- Any business, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, 501(c)(19) veterans organization, or tribal business concern (sec. 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act) with the greater of:
- 500 employees, or
- That meets the SBA industry size standard if more than 500
- Any business with a NAICS code that begins with 72 (Accommodations and Food Services) that has more than one physical location and employs less than 500 per location
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance. To find out more about how you can save money on boat insurance, go to her site.