Tag Archives: insurance

Portrait Day

Portrait Day

I dub this portrait day.  A morning setting up the studio is followed by an afternoon of shooting portraits.  Thus, it doesn’t get much better for a portrait photographer.

It is cold and wet, but not quite snowing.  Because of the weather, it is a good day for working inside.  Trips to and from the house are unpleasant because the ground is muddy.

Contracts

Elizabethe is spending time updating our rental contracts.  We’ve learned as landlords there are a few things we need in our contracts.  For example, we will start requiring renter’s insurance, payment by check or credit card, and a few more details about tenant responsibilities.

How do you get a tenant to change the furnace filter every quarter?

You do it yourself and bill them.  Actually, I’m not going to bill them for my changing it, but require they have a filter ready for me, or they pay $25 if I provide one.  The same will be true for smoke and CO detector batteries.  However, as the smoke and CO detectors die I am replacing them with sealed, 10 year units.  I figure the furnace is my investment and I need to look after it because they aren’t.

Temple Trainee

Temple Trainee

Things are going well with my temple trainee.  He’s a fast learner and we had fun working together tonight.  We had a very full session and he did an excellent job.

Rentals

The earlier part of my day was researching rental management companies — how much they charge, what that includes, etc.

You know, I didn’t realize there is insurance a renter can get that covers damage they do to the property.   Many of these companies require their renters to carry a $100,000 policy.  I like that.  Next round of lease renewals, I may include that as a requirement.

Doing this will make people more careful.  This is because insurance claims go on people’s insurance record.

Inspections

I need to do better on inspections.  If a tenant knows you are inspecting their rental, they are going to try to repair damage.  It also provides the landlord with insight as to how the place is being maintained.  As a result, you can nip things in the bud early.

What Type of Damage

What type of damage do tenants do?

Well, one tenant punched holes in every door.  While another tenant busted up the refrigerator and left a fist sized dent on the fridge.  Carpeting has been damaged to the point it can’t be cleaned, and left reeking of urine.

My dad’s idea is to put ceramic tile throughout the rental.  (I plan to do that on one of mine.)

Being a landlord is stressful.


Torch Light

Torch Light

Until tonight I have never photographed by torch light.  This is one of the amazing things about belonging to a trade guild.  More of this later…

It was networking day today, and the meeting went well.  One of the members reminded me I owed her some information so she could give me a quote on our home, liability and auto insurance.

After the meeting, I met up with another photographer whom I haven’t seen since last winter when he stopped by to visit me.   We went to lunch together at Nima’s and had a nice chat.

From there, Elizabethe and I headed to the Payne’s for a FLPP potluck and a night of shooting by torch light.  As Monroe explained things, we get comfortable doing what we do and it is only when we are challenged that we learn.  So, we learned about dealing with photography by torch light.  (Just as I was getting in to LEDs… this seems like a step backwards.)

copyright 2015 db walton

My Wife in a Dress She Made

Monroe’s friends and family dressed the parts as we took pictures of them, but Elizabethe wasn’t going to miss the opportunity either.  She brought a dress she made and wore it.  But, what she didn’t realize is this…

When she found a book to read, she was so engrossed in reading the book that she didn’t notice all of the photographers photographing her.  I got several myself.

And, here are a few of the Payne family and their friends…

copyright 2015 db walton

Monroe Photo-Bombing My Shot

copyright 2015 db walton

Lady with a Lantern

copyright 2015 db walton

Knights

copyright 2015 db walton

Crossed Swords

It was a real pleasant night.  The Payne’s have the perfect backyard for this and I think everyone had FUN.

Insurance Claim

Insurance Claim

I spent the majority of the day dealing with my insurance claim.  The biggest worry when being injured is dealing with insurance.  Are they going to have enough insurance?  Will they pay my claims on time?  Will it be a nightmare?

My insurance company called me and asked questions and interviewed me about the events of Sunday night.  The adjuster suggested I called the driver’s insurance company and open a claim.

I called them and I was very surprised that a claim had not been opened by the driver.  In California, there was a law that gave you so many working days in which to open a claim and file that claim with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  If memory serves me right, if you failed to do that, you could lose your license.  They might have the same thing here, but if they do, it must be longer than California’s filing period.

When you open a claim, they put you on a recording and ask you to tell the story.  It is amazing how good you get at reciting what you remember from that day.

It is also comforting to know they don’t look at the pedestrian victim as if trying to place blame on them.  I guess, in a sense, I’m the victim of an assault.  Because of that, the people at the insurance companies have dealt with me with compassion. After all, Jim and I were in a crosswalk with a “walk” light.  As a pedestrian you do expect that to be a “safe” place.

Finger Lakes and Painting

This month the Finger Lakes Professional Photographers (and, if you consider yourself a photographer for hire, you SHOULD be a member of FLPP, PPSNYS and PPA… especially PPA) met here to see my studio and for me to talk about painting as part of my services.  I showed them a slideshow of my work and some of the paintings I’ve done lately.  It was a fun meeting.

Speaking of PPA, someone contacted me about a photographer who didn’t return calls after booking a session.  All I can say is, if they are not a PPA member, you may be stuck in a situation like that.  At least if they are a PPA member you could let PPA track them down, and if worse comes to worse, file a claim against their indemnity trust.  (Most photographers who are not PPA members do not have indemnity coverage.)

We often hire people to do work for us, but like hiring a contractor, you want to make sure they have the proper insurance coverage.  From talking to my agent, if I’m out on a job, and as a result of my doing a photo session, property is damaged, or persons are injured, my home owners insurance won’t cover it.  Why?  Because I’m getting paid and that means business, and that means home owners insurance is off the hook.

People ask, “What could go wrong at a photo shoot?”

I’ve seen video of photographers backing in to a wedding cake.  Oops!  I’ve seen video of a photographer telling someone to back up and that person falling.  Ouch!  I’ve  heard off flashes bursting in to flames and starting fires.  Oh, no!  These are just a few things that can go wrong.

But, none of that stuff is covered by the indemnity trust.  The PPA indemnity trust is more for malpractice sort of damages.  For example, someone recently complained that their photographer’s SD card wouldn’t allow the photographer access to the photos.   Data recovery can cost thousands of dollars.  Or, there’s the case where the photographer’s car broke down on the way to the shoot.  Again, there are lots of things covered here.

I don’t say this to scare consumers or customers.  I do say it to let photographers know that they could be penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to their business.  Joining PPA and its affiliates can be beneficial when you need it.

 

Halloween 2013

Last year we had quite a run on the house with trick-or-treaters.  This year, I think we had a maximum of 10 kids.

One of them was so cute, he said, “This house is scary”.  The funny thing is, we don’t have any decorations up, but our front door is massive with a huge bronze lion knocker that looks like it belongs on a haunted house.

So, I am glad I only bought candy that I don’t mind eating.

Speaking of candy…

Watching the Food Network’s show Chopped has paid off.  I was given some fudge that wasn’t very good.  As I was watching Chopped, I thought… I should repurpose the fudge!

I took the fudge (which was already cut in to 1″ cubes), placed it in a sauce pan with a little butter, heated it on low until the butter and fudge were melting, and slowly added heavy cream.  I then brought it to a low simmer, and ran it through a strainer.  (It had peanuts in it that were raw.  The raw peanut texture and taste did not go well with the deep cocoa flavor.)

Ta-da!  Hot fudge sauce!

I spent the first 17 years of my life eating my dad’s homemade fudge.  It was horrible.  It was grainy, crystalized sugar and cocoa.  And, if you didn’t eat it while it was warm, the tooth-feel was like having foil touch your silver fillings.  Ewwwww!

In a cooking class, we made the exact same recipe my dad used.  It was the one on the back of the can of cocoa.  I was dreading the results.  But, at the end, the teacher walked up and said, “Brent, you need to really beat until it is creamy.”

Wow, that was the step my dad missed.  I was so excited I went home and announced to the family, “I know why dad’s fudge turns out crystalized.”

I’m sure now, if I was given crystalized fudge, I could repurpose it in to something delightfully tasty with a pleasing texture.

Some other candy making tips I learned in my two years of cooking classes are…  1) don’t scrape the sides of the pan – the crystals will cause the candy to crystalize, 2) cover with a lid momentarily between stirring and let the steam rinse the sides of the pan – this helps prevent crystalizing, 3) be patient and don’t try to rush the process, 4) don’t add water-based liquids to chocolate, add fats.

And now for something completely different…

I watched a news broadcast where they interviewed a young man who had just gone through the process of signing up for health insurance.  The young man, a student holding a part-time job, barely makes enough to put him over the edge so he doesn’t qualify for Medicare.  He was angry and upset.  He said, “I thought it was going to be free.”

I’m not sure why anyone thought it was going to be free.  Basically, those who get free coverage now, still get free coverage.

Right now I’m counting my blessings that my rates stayed very close to the same, and I get to keep my existing insurance coverage (others haven’t been so lucky) because my plan qualifies.  (It’s already a high-deductible plan as outlined in the “bronze” plans.)  And, my wife gets to stay on my policy.  Of course, that could change comes 2015.

The Heritage Foundation has presented an alternative to the Affordable Health Care Act.  The Affordable Health Care Act is over 2000 pages long.  The Heritage Foundation plan is only 10 pages.  (see http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/2013/pdf/BG2847.pdf )  It is sad Congress had to kill so many trees to create their plan.

So, What Will It Cost?

Today is supposed to be the day people can learn what Obamacare is going to cost them.  Well, don’t hold your breath.

First, I went to http://www.healthcare.gov

It asks you to select your state.  It took me to the New York State web site.  I clicked on Individual and Family and….

HTTP 500 Error

This is an error that means there is a problem with the website’s server.  Lovely.

So, I went to my heath care provider and got a message basically stating (and I’m paraphrasing), “We’re still trying to figure things out.  Check back after October 14th.”

I then went back to the state site and was still getting the 500 error.  In fact, the 500 error continued all day.  Then it was brought to my attention that perhaps it was caused by the shutdown.  I’m not sure how that can be since the shutdown is Federal and this is state.

Who knows?  May be the state uses a non-essential Federal server that’s been placed on furlough.  In any event, I don’t know what Obamacare is going to cost.

Let’s just hope this isn’t indicative of things to come…

(tri-tone sound when a number is out of service)  “Nine-one-one is not a valid number.  Please try your call again.”

Or, you’re in the E.R. and the triage nurse says,  “I’m sorry Mr. Walton, the state health insurance site has been down for three days.  Please take a seat.”

In all seriousness, they have known that this is coming down the pike for a long time now.  They’ve had all this time to get prepared.  This is an excellent example of why the Federal Government should not be running the show.

Tomorrow We Find Out

Tomorrow we find out how much Obamacare is going to cost us.  It’s got me quite anxious.  It is already a burden, financially, to pay for the coverage Elizabethe and I have.  I hate to think it might cost us more.

Someone said they are grateful that under Obamacare everyone will have medical insurance.  I’ve read a lot about the topic.  That simply isn’t the case.  If you’re poor, you already qualify for Medicare – that won’t change.  But if the government doesn’t consider you to be “poor”, how is this going to impact you?

Here’s some facts I’ve got off healthcare.gov (the official Obamacare site):

  • You must select a coverage from your state’s exchange.
  • If you don’t enroll, then you will pay a fine and you will NOT be covered by insurance. (Nothing new there except the fine.)
  • If you do enroll, and you don’t have enough coverage, you can still rack up medical bills that can financially drive you in to bankruptcy. (Nothing new there.)
  • Pre-existing conditions won’t keep you from getting insurance (that’s good)

The fact of the matter is simply this… until they release the actual costs and what we qualify for, nobody knows how this is going to affect us.  Facing the unknown can always be scary.

As Happier Than a Camel on Wednesday

Geico may not be the greatest insurance company, but they sure have some great commercials. Their latest with the camel is quite funny. (You can watch it here.) Of course, they needed something like that after that painful-to-watch Eddy Money commercial.

Well, it’s Wednesday and that means the week’s half over.  I’ve been playing it pretty easy this week.   Elizabethe is just starting to feel like she’s coming out of her sickness, and I’ve been hoping I don’t catch it.

About the only thing I have going on today is the Rochester Referral Network meeting.    On the way home, I stopped at Lowe’s to get a few parts for fixing things around the house:  A toilet that doesn’t shut off, a drain that doesn’t drain, and a window well leaking water.  All the little things of living in an old house.

 

Finishing Spring Cleaning

I think I’ve got my spring cleaning done.  The studio floor painting is done.  I’ve moved a lot of clutter out of the studio.  (I might be moving some more stuff out.  Take that back… I will be moving more stuff out.)  The studio feels more inviting now.

I’ve got a viewing screen on the wall where I can now let client’s see what the unprocessed pictures look like immediately after the session.  My plan is to move one of the bistro tables to that corner with a couple of chairs.

This morning’s Tri-County Networkers meeting had a presentation about the new health care law.  By the end of the presentation, I do not know a if a single person was pleased about what we learned.  At one point, I thought I read that the most someone will be fined is $695/year if they refuse to go with Obama-care.  That’s not the case.  It can be more than 9.5% of your annual income.  So, if you make $50,000/year, that’s $4,750/year.

There were other surprises… like a 6 month waiting period to make sure you don’t have pre-existing conditions if you change jobs.  If you cut employee’s hours, they will take the hours and add them all up, divide by 40/hours per week.  (In other words, that’s not a loophole, which sounds good, but the fees and taxes being placed on businesses is very scary.  Big businesses might be able to afford it, but mom-and-pop shops… they may not survive this.)

It sounds like the real winners in this law are huge businesses with huge group policies and people on welfare.  On the other hand, it sounds like the real losers in this law are the small businesses, sole-proprietors, people who may lose their job/coverage and have a chronic illness, and anyone who makes enough that they don’t qualify for welfare.

These are troubled times.