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RICHMOND – Dry pine needles, icy streets and sidewalks, busy kitchens and overworked outlets are just a few of the seasonal hazards that can result in injuries or damage to your home or property. Those events in turn can lead to expenses or losses that impact your financial well-being if you don’t have adequate insurance coverage.

In order to keep spirits bright, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians to check with their insurance agent or company to ensure they have the appropriate amount of insurance coverage in the event of an illness, theft or mishap.

“Make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date so you can minimize any financial damage,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Take a close look at each of your insurance policies to ensure you know exactly what is – and is not – covered.”

Also check that your coverage includes seasonal activities that you may enjoy, such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic creates several recent considerations for policyholders. Among other things, policyholders should consider the following:

  • Compliance requirements with local, state or national restrictions regarding the number of people who may gather at one time;
  • Minimizing the risk of transmission by taking appropriate steps, such as wearing masks, using hand soap and hand sanitizer frequently, and encouraging the sick to stay home, and
  • Understanding how your homeowner’s, renter’s, health and life insurance policies may specifically address COVID-19.

In addition to reviewing your policies, you may take other proactive steps before an accident. Among other things, you may want to keep your auto insurance company’s contact information and a copy of your insurance card with you when you drive, stay alert of local weather forecasts, and bring health insurance information – like identification cards and contact details for family members – with you while traveling.

Finally, the end of the year is a good time to update your home inventory for insurance purposes. Keeping an updated inventory will help ensure your homeowners or renters policy provides enough coverage for your belongings. It also can facilitate the recovery process if you experience loss or damage and must file an insurance claim.

Separate coverage may be needed for high-cost items such as jewelry, art or electronics. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners' free smartphone app — NAIC Home Inventory — makes creating a home inventory quick and easy. This app is available through the App Store and Google Play.

For information about a variety of insurance-related topics specifically for consumers, contact the Virginia Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance. Additional information also may be found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website.

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Virginia consumers will soon have an opportunity to shop for health care coverage for the 2022 plan year through HealthCare.gov. Virginians can shop for insurance on the website during open enrollment, which runs November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022.  Special enrollment periods are also available for people who experience certain qualifying life events. Visit healthcare.gov/glossary/special-enrollment-period/ to learn more.

“For 2022 and 2023, Virginia consumers will continue to shop for health care coverage on HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance platform,” said Victoria Savoy, director of the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange (Virginia Exchange). In the meantime, the Virginia Exchange continues its transition toward becoming operational as a state-based exchange after plan year 2023.

Whether changing health insurance plans or purchasing a new plan, the SCC encourages Virginians to review their coverage needs and thoroughly explore all their options.  Consumers should understand their health coverage options – whether choosing a plan on the federal health insurance platform during open enrollment or another option elsewhere.

“Not all health plans are created alike, and some are not insurance,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. He encourages Virginians to fully understand the coverage, costs and protections before signing up for any health plan. “Understand enrollment periods, what plans must cover to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and where to turn for legitimate information. If you have questions, the Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) can help.”

Consumer protection laws govern some types of health coverage such as plans purchased through an employer or through the health insurance marketplace. Other types of plans, like health care sharing ministries and discount plans are not insurance and do not offer the same protections as ACA-compliant plans.

Short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans are not available through the health insurance marketplace, but they are regulated health insurance plans. Short-term plans often cover less than ACA-compliant marketplace plans, may deny eligibility for coverage or exclude services because of pre-existing conditions; they also may apply dollar limits on the amount paid in coverage benefits.

Whether shopping for health insurance on or off the exchange, the Bureau and the Virginia Exchange encourage careful consideration of the health care services you and your family will need prior to signing up for any plan. Questions that you should consider include:

  • Does the plan cover the services my family needs or are there limits to the benefits available under the plan?
  • Are doctors and medications my family needs covered by the plan? 
  • What are the monthly premiums and other costs of using health services such as co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles?

During open enrollment, consumers should keep the following in mind:

  • In Virginia, HealthCare.gov is the official website to enroll in ACA plans. (Español: cuidadodesalud.gov/es/).
  • Although you don’t have to use HealthCare.gov to enroll in an ACA plan, you must enroll through HealthCare.gov to receive financial assistance.
  • The open enrollment period for buying a 2022 ACA plan (whether through HealthCare.gov or outside HealthCare.gov) begins November 1, 2021 and ends January 15, 2022.
  • Look for a disclosure indicating whether the health plan complies with the ACA.
  • Do not provide personal information or send money in response to unsolicited calls or emails purporting to offer health care plans or assistance.
  • Members of the health insurance marketplace will not call to sell you health insurance. Be wary of telemarketers cold calling you from the “marketplace,” “national enrollment center," "national healthcare center" or other official-sounding name to sell you health insurance, especially outside the open enrollment period.
  • To verify that an insurance agent, agency or company is licensed in Virginia, visit the Bureau’s website at scc.virginia.gov/boi/ConsumerInquiry/default.aspx.
  • For free help understanding your options, find an application assistant or a healthcare navigator at coverva.org/en/find-help-in-your-area (Español: coverva.org/es/find-help-in-your-area).

For more information, contact the Bureau toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance. Use the online comparison tool to compare plans. To learn more about the Virginia Exchange or obtain additional contact information, visit scc.virginia.gov/pages/Health-Benefit-Exchange-(6).

Free translation services are available. Call the Virginia Exchange hotline at 1-833-740-1364 or the Healthcare.gov hotline at 1-800-318-2596 for assistance.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141
 

RICHMOND – Across the nation, November is the peak month for insurance claims related to vehicle collisions with deer. Virginia is among the states with the highest risk of these types of incidents. Mating season and migration contribute to a dramatic uptick in vehicle-deer collisions during the fall. To help avoid incidents, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds drivers to stay alert, particularly if traveling along tree-lined roadways when it’s dark.

“A deer in the roadway poses a threat to even the most careful driver,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott White. “As fall arrives, contact your insurance agent or company to determine if your automobile policy provides coverage for claims involving a collision with deer or other wildlife.”

Damage caused to your vehicle as a result of a collision with a deer or other animal typically is covered under the optional “other-than-collision” (also known as “comprehensive”) portion of your automobile policy. In addition to claims involving animals, some of the coverages provided by “other-than-collision” are damage resulting from theft, wind, hail and flood, as well as fire and vandalism. Keep in mind that if you have a liability-only policy, your policy may not cover your vehicle for damage resulting from a crash involving a deer or any other object.

Drivers can help prevent a collision with a deer by lowering their speed and staying alert. Nevertheless, some collisions are inevitable. In these cases, you should stay in your lane and brake as carefully as possible. Though jarring, a collision with a deer is often safer for the driver and any occupants – and for surrounding vehicles and their occupants – than swerving sharply and potentially hitting something else. If a driver attempts to avoid a collision by swerving – into a tree or ditch, for example – any damage may trigger coverages different than “other-than-collision.” Additionally, insurers may consider the driver to be at fault, which could cause premiums to increase.

Should you collide with a deer, notify law enforcement and your insurance company as soon as possible. When safe to do so, take pictures of the incident scene and any vehicle damage in the event you file an insurance claim. Don’t assume that your vehicle is safe to drive. Check for leaking fluid, tire damage, broken lights and other damage. When in doubt, call a tow truck.

The Bureau of Insurance stands ready to assist Virginians with their questions regarding auto and many other types of insurance. For more information, call the Bureau toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Many Americans would face financial hardship if a wage earner died unexpectedly. Life Insurance Awareness Month – celebrated each September – is a reminder that life insurance can help protect your loved ones financially now and in the future.

The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) reminds Virginians that there are many factors to consider when determining if life insurance is right for you and your family.

“When considering your family’s financial future, review your existing financial resources, debts and other liabilities, as well as your family’s needs and goals,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott White. “Understand the different types of life insurance and shop around to compare prices and coverage.”

White encourages Virginians who already have life insurance to review their policies regularly and update their policies and beneficiaries so their coverage keeps pace with their changing circumstances. Life events such as a birth, divorce, remarriage, or other changes affecting your finances (such as a new mortgage or a new job) may trigger a need to update your life insurance policy.

If you do not have life insurance, shop around and understand the different types of policies available and the costs.

“Think about your family situation if you died tomorrow,” White said. Review your existing resources and consider the following: Does your spouse work? Do you have any sources of income other than salary? Do you have life insurance through your job?

Also consider the financial obligations that may fall upon family members if you die, such as a mortgage, business expenses, medical expenses, car loans or student loans. Also consider short-term and long-term goals such as your spouse’s retirement, providing care for a loved one or your children’s education.

White encourages Virginians to understand the types of life insurance available – term life or permanent – and how benefits are paid when you die. Term life insurance offers death benefit protection for a specific period of time. Benefits are paid only if the policyholder dies within the policy term. Term policies typically have lower premiums, but premiums may increase as you age or at the end of a specific “term.” Term policies do not build cash value, but some permanent life insurance policies such as whole life, adjustable/universal life or variable life insurance do build cash value over time. Permanent policies cover the insured for their entire life as long as premiums are paid when due.

Life insurance can do more than protect your spouse and dependents after your death. Some policies contain benefits that are usable during your lifetime. For example, a policyholder might be able to use the cash value accumulated in a permanent life insurance policy to pay expenses for education, retirement or emergencies.

What you pay for life insurance (premiums) depends largely on the type of policy chosen, your health status, age, gender, occupation, family health history and lifestyle. The following factors may impact your ability to obtain life insurance coverage or the premium you must pay: pre-existing conditions and chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer; poor health habits such as smoking or drinking; your driving record, and whether you engage in activities considered risky by the insurer such as rock climbing, motorcycle riding, sky diving, horseback riding or skiing.

Compare premiums, coverage and claims service when considering life insurance options. Contact the Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 for questions or to make sure the company or individual offering the coverage is licensed and in good standing. The Bureau offers a free Virginia Life Insurance Consumer Guide with answers to many life insurance questions on its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Tips,-Guides-Publications.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a free Life Insurance Policy Locator Service that can help consumers find lost life insurance policies and annuity contracts. From January 2017 through June 2021, the Locator Service matched 4,616 policies for Virginians with a total face value of $117,052,464. Nationwide, from November 2016 through June 2021, it matched 147,140 policies with a total face value of $3,775,837,551. To learn more about the Locator Service, visit https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/welcome.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND –The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is taking steps to create the Commonwealth Health Reinsurance Program (CHRP), which would begin on January 1, 2023. The CHRP is designed to increase affordability in the individual health care insurance market with a goal of decreasing premiums.

Pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, the CHRP requires federal approval of an application request for a State Innovation Waiver. Under the waiver, insurance carriers will be reimbursed for a proportion of the claims of covered individuals with high annual costs. In addition to these federal pass-through funds, the program will be funded through state general funds as authorized by the Virginia General Assembly.

A draft waiver application is being prepared for meeting the January 1, 2022 deadline to submit a request to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Information about the program is available on the SCC website at: www.scc.virginia.gov/pages/Reinsurance-Waiver. The draft application will be available for review and comment by October 1, 2021.

Two public hearings are scheduled on Thursday, October 14, 2021 – one at 10 a.m. and the second at 7 p.m. Both will be webcast.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SCC will hold telephonic hearings for the receipt of public comments. Public witnesses wishing to provide oral comments must pre-register by October 12, 2021 in one of three ways:

  • Complete a public witness form for case number INS-2021-00110 on the SCC’s website at: http://scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting
  • E-mail the same information (PDF version on the same website as above) to SCCInfo@scc.virginia.gov
  • Call the SCC at 804-371-9141 during regular business hours and provide your name and the phone number you wish the Commission to call to reach you during either hearing.

For those who prefer, there is an opportunity to provide comments in writing on the waiver application request. Written comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by November 1, 2021, at https://scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. If unable to submit electronically, send comments by U.S. Mail to Clerk of the SCC, c/o Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, VA 23218-2118 and refer to case number INS-2021-00110.

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Natural disasters can take a major toll on businesses and sidetrack the best laid plans and projections. Many businesses do not reopen following a natural disaster and some fail within one year after disaster strikes.

Whether you are an individual or a business, you are vulnerable to natural disasters that may include hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes. Even disasters far away can impact your business by disrupting supply chains and communications. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable when it comes to natural disasters since they often have fewer resources, locations and employees to help them become operational again.

Advance planning is essential to safeguard employees, protect assets and minimize disruptions to your business. Having an emergency disaster plan and a business continuity plan in place, as well as adequate insurance coverage, can reduce the risk to a business and help it recover faster.

The State Corporation Commission's (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) strongly encourages small businesses to review their insurance coverage regularly and adjust it, as needed. When evaluating a business’s insurance needs, consider the possibility of a natural disaster. Know what your policies cover and how much money you may need to make repairs and pay employees, creditors and yourself in the event of a disaster. "How you plan for and respond to disasters can determine whether your business survives," said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Protect yourself and your business against the unexpected by having the right insurance coverage and updating it regularly.”

Consider whether additional or separate coverages are needed. For example, separate insurance coverage may be needed for certain types of disasters such as floods and earthquakes because these typically are not covered by standard business insurance policies. Similarly, businesses may need to buy separate automobile insurance for cars and other vehicles because standard business policies cover only real property. Also consider business interruption insurance, which may help cover the loss of income that a business suffers after a disaster.

Small business owners also can take additional steps to protect their employees, property and operations, such as the following:

  • Determine whether the business is in an area at high risk for certain types of disasters, such as floods or fires.
  • Develop and update business continuity plans to share with employees. Make sure the plan includes current employee contact information, backup vendors or suppliers and a temporary relocation site.
  • Develop a system to communicate with employees, vendors, suppliers and customers and procedures for work processes and payroll during a disaster or business interruption. Keep in mind that employees might be working from different locations and that internet and other critical business services might not be working normally.
  • Have disaster provisions at the workplace, along with evacuation maps and access to a working radio and mobile apps to receive instructions from local authorities.
  • Compile an inventory of computer hardware as well as other assets and equipment and keep it in a safe place. Back up all personal and company data on a regular basis in case information is lost during a disaster.
  • Keep copies of important records (such as building plans, insurance policies, bank accounts, employee contact information and other priority documents) in a safe, waterproof and fireproof place. Keep a set of records online (employing strong security measures) or at an off-site location.
  • During a disaster, depending on the risks, ask employees to shelter in place or evacuate immediately.
  • After a disaster strikes your business, contact your insurance agent or company immediately and ask what information is needed to file a claim.

The Bureau of Insurance offers free guides specifically geared to businesses. To learn more, contact the Consumer Services Section of the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at 804-371-9185 or visit scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

For additional emergency preparedness information relating to disasters, visit vaemergency.gov.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season already has had a busy start with eight named storms and one reaching hurricane strength. The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) reminds Virginians that late August to early October is often the most dangerous and active time for tropical storm activity – and the potential property damage those storms can cause.

If you have not already reviewed your property insurance, the Bureau urges Virginians to do so now as the hurricane season is underway. Whether you’re a homeowner, renter or business, protect yourself financially by making sure you have the coverage you need before disaster strikes.

Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30. Even areas hundreds of miles from the coast can be impacted by the high winds, heavy rains and flooding that accompany hurricanes and tropical storms. You may have a difficult time increasing your insurance coverage once a hurricane develops in the Atlantic and until the threat has passed, so review your coverage now and make any necessary changes.

“Disasters can happen anywhere and anytime. Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect yourself and your property from a hurricane or other disaster,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Assess your risk now and make sure you have the coverage you need before a storm begins to brew.

The Bureau encourages Virginians to talk to their insurance agent or company if they have questions about what is and is not covered, how to reduce property damage and what to do if damage does occur.

Most homeowners, renters and commercial insurance policies do not cover losses due to flooding. Talk to your insurance agent about flood insurance or visit the National Flood Insurance Program’s website at www.floodsmart.gov to learn more about protecting your home or business from damage due to floods, surface water or storm surge. There is typically a 30-day waiting period for a new flood insurance policy to take effect.

The Bureau also encourages Virginians to create a detailed home inventory with photos, videos and serial numbers of your belongings. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) free smartphone app can facilitate this process. Place your insurance policies and home inventory in a safe place and take them with you if you must evacuate. These records will contain your policy numbers and the phone numbers of your insurance companies in case you have questions or need to file a claim.

If your property is damaged by a hurricane, contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible. To protect your property from further damage, make necessary emergency repairs. Document all damage to your property and include photographs, notes and repair-related receipts.

Policyholders should consider the following questions related to potential hurricane damage when reviewing their policies:

  • Does your homeowners policy contain a special deductible for wind or hurricane losses? These deductibles are applied separately from any other deductible on a homeowners policy and may be written as a flat amount, such as $1,000, or applied to a loss as a percentage of the insurance coverage on the dwelling.
     
  • Does your homeowners policy provide coverage for such things as sewer backup? Most homeowners policies do not provide coverage for sewer backup, but policyholders may purchase additional coverage for this.
     
  • Are vehicles covered in the event of a hurricane or windstorm? If you have other-than-collision (or comprehensive) coverage for your vehicle under your automobile policy, your vehicles generally will be covered for flood and wind damage.

To learn more, contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at 804-371-9185. The Bureau’s specially trained staff can assist consumers with their insurance-related questions and concerns. The Bureau also offers free consumer guides for homeowners and commercial property owners with information about what to do when a disaster strikes. These are available on the disaster readiness section of its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Disaster-Readiness.

For additional emergency preparedness information relating to hurricanes and other types of disasters, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website at www.vaemergency.gov.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – After anywhere from months to more than a year of virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students will soon be heading to college campuses for in-person instruction during the fall semester. In addition to new courses, teachers, friends, surroundings and living accommodations, it also can mean new insurance needs.

The State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginians to make sure their back-to-school checklist includes a thorough review of their own and their student’s insurance needs. “Know before they go what your student’s insurance needs will be and make sure they have the right coverage,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Protect yourself and your family by reviewing insurance coverage for your student’s health, auto, living space and belongings and make sure they understand the coverage.”

The Bureau offers the following insurance considerations for parents and students:

HEALTH

College students have several options for getting health insurance. Under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), students may stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. If your student remains on your health insurance policy, make sure he or she has a copy of all insurance cards and understands what services are covered and how to obtain referrals, if necessary, before seeking treatment. Under some health insurance policies, your student would need to find a physician or hospital within the carrier’s provider network – except for emergency care – or pay more out of pocket.

Students who do not have health insurance through a parent's policy, or who have limited coverage due to provider networks or service areas, may opt to purchase a student health insurance plan through their college or university. Students also can apply for a private health insurance plan through the health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Students may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period for health insurance at HealthCare.gov.

HOME

College students often take many valuable items with them to school including computers, printers, televisions, bicycles and mobile phones. Consider how much it would cost to replace everything in your student’s dorm or apartment should a theft or disaster occur.

For students who live in on-campus student housing, their parents’ homeowners or renters policy may cover their belongings if they are stolen or damaged. However, there may be limits to the amount of coverage provided for such items. Some items such as jewelry or expensive electronics may require special coverage. In the event of a loss, policy deductibles may also apply.

Students living off-campus should consider renters insurance, an inexpensive form of coverage that protects personal property and insures the tenant in case someone is injured while on their leased premises. Landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not the possessions of renters. Renters insurance premiums vary depending on the location and size of the rental unit and the value of your possessions.

Encourage your student that, no matter where he or she lives, it’s important to make a list of his or her belongings. An inventory will help you and your student determine how much insurance is needed and, if a loss occurs, the inventory can be used to file a claim. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a free smartphone app that makes creating an inventory easy. Parents may also want to use this opportunity to update their own home inventory as well.

AUTO

For students planning to take a car to school, parents should ask their insurance agent or company about coverage availability and rates for the city and state where the college is located before deciding whether to keep the student’s car on the family policy. Also, make sure you know that state’s minimum requirements for auto insurance coverage. Students who maintain good grades may be eligible for a good student discount on the vehicle’s insurance premium.

Students whose names are on the title for a car must purchase their own policy. However, they may be able to stay on their parents' policy if their parents own the vehicle they will use at school. Let your insurance agent know where the vehicle will be stored if the address is different from what is on the policy.

The Bureau of Insurance encourages parents and students to shop around and compare policy provisions and premiums. Read any insurance policy carefully and make sure you understand exactly what is covered, exclusions, deductibles and limits. If you have questions or concerns, contact your insurance agent or company.

For more information, contact the Bureau of Insurance toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular options for many investors who are saving for retirement and other financial goals. They often offer a cost-efficient way to invest in professionally managed portfolios of securities. As with any investment, however, investors should understand their benefits, risks and costs.

When comparing funds, investors should review each fund’s prospectus, shareholder reports and portfolio holdings and evaluate their overall risk/return profiles. Expense ratios also are an important consideration when reviewing funds since, over time, they may reduce a fund’s earnings. Investors can find a fund’s expense ratio on the brokerage company’s website, by searching for the fund’s ticker symbol or in the fund’s prospectus (under Shareholder Fees).

An expense ratio is a fund’s total annual operating expenses expressed as a percentage of its assets. For instance, a one percent expense ratio means that for every $1,000 you have invested, you'll pay $10 in expenses per year.

Mutual funds and ETFs charge shareholders an expense ratio – which is how they pass on a fund’s operating costs to their shareholders on an ongoing basis. The expense ratio reflects all recurring fees a fund charges, such as management fees, administrative fees and distribution or service fees.

Since operating expenses are deducted from a fund’s assets, the return to investors is reduced. Thus, investors should be aware of how operating expenses could impact their investment for any particular fund.

In addition to expense ratios, investors may pay other fees depending on which fund type they choose. Investors may also pay brokerage fees or fees to purchase or redeem shares of a fund (sales load). These are separate from the expense ratio.

Ron Thomas, director of the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Division of Securities and Retail Franchising, encourages investors in Virginia to always consider the total fees and expenses they will be charged in connection with any investment. “When investing, remember that all fees and expenses you pay reduce the return on your investment,” he said. “Make sure you consider a fund’s expense ratio as well as sales loads and any other fees when evaluating the overall cost of investing in that fund. Even small differences in fees and expenses can mean a big difference in your returns over time,” he said. 

Thomas encourages Virginians to understand the basics of mutual funds and ETFs before investing in them, noting, however, that questions and inquiries regarding fees associated with mutual funds and ETFs should be directed to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as the SEC has authority over such matters. Still, as with any type of investment, he reminds investors to protect themselves financially by defining their objectives when investing, balancing risk versus reward, researching details about an investment, understanding all costs associated with buying, owning and selling that investment, and regularly monitoring their investments.

To learn more about expense ratios, visit the North American Securities Administrators website. For additional resources regarding securities and investing, or to find out if an investment or the person offering it are properly licensed or registered in Virginia, contact the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising in Richmond at 804-371-9051 or toll-free at 1-800-552-7945, or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Consumer-Investments.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Although the arrival of summer means sun, fun and travel for many, it can also mean increased risks. Among other things, these risks can include stolen luggage and other belongings; collisions on busy highways; illness while away from home; back yard pool and grilling mishaps, or misadventures on boats, jet skis, recreational vehicles (RVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

The State Corporation Commission's (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians to make sure their summer to-do list includes checking with their insurance agent or company to ensure they have the appropriate insurance coverage in the event of an illness, theft or mishap.

“Whether you are traveling, boating, hosting a summer cookout or installing an underground pool, don’t let a lack of insurance coverage ruin your summer fun and put a strain on your wallet,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Anticipate summer hazards now and minimize their financial damage by ensuring your insurance coverage is adequate and up-to-date.”

Keep your home, vehicles, belongings and personal information safe, especially when away on vacation. Know how much your auto and homeowners insurance will cover if someone steals your belongings from your vehicle, home or yard. If you plan on hosting an event at your home (such as a yard sale or neighborhood cookout), know what type of insurance you need if a guest is injured or if there’s property damage. Know, too, your insurance coverages if severe summer weather damages your home and vehicles while you’re away. Also, understand any deductibles or coverage limits that may apply.

Whether you are at home or away this summer, update your home inventory. This will help to ensure your homeowners or renters policy provides enough coverage for your belongings. It can also help facilitate the claims process if damage or theft occurs. Separate coverage may be needed for high-cost items such as jewelry, art or electronics. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners' free smartphone app – myHome Scr.APP.book – makes creating a home inventory quick and easy. This app is available through iTunes and Google Play.

In the event of hurricanes or prolonged heavy rains, keep in mind that homeowners, renters and commercial insurance policies issued in Virginia typically do not provide coverage for damage to your home and belongings due to floods, surface water or storm surges. However, the federal government does sell insurance covering direct flood and flood-related damage to homeowners, renters and businesses in eligible communities through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In most cases, there is a 30-day waiting period for a new flood insurance policy to take effect. To learn more about this program, contact your insurance agent or the NFIP at 1-800-427-4661 or visit floodsmart.gov. Some private insurers offer flood policies, so check with your insurance agent about the availability of a private flood insurance policy. In either case, ask whether your flood policy provides coverage for your personal property.

If you are planning a summer trip, become familiar with your health insurance coverage in case you are injured or get sick and require medical treatment in an urgent care facility or hospital while traveling out-of-state or abroad. Bring health insurance information with you on your trip, such as identification cards and contact details for all family members.

If you’re driving a long distance for vacation or to visit friends and family, make sure your auto insurance policy meets your specific needs before you leave. Check your liability limits to ensure adequate protection against personal injury or property damage arising from an accident while travelling. Keep your insurance company's contact information and a copy of your insurance card with you when you drive and know what to do if an accident occurs.

It you plan on boating or jet skiing, exploring with RVs or ATVs, or hosting a yard sale or pool party, ask your insurance company or agent if you are adequately covered.

For information about a variety of insurance-related topics, contact the Virginia Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at (804) 371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

 

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