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Life Insurance And Major Life Changes

June 12th, 2019

While life insurance can seem like a once-in-a -lifetime decision, there are a number of life events that should cause you to take another look at your life insurance policy to see if it is still right for you and your family.  So what should your life insurance policy do for you and your loved ones, and what life events should make you re-evaluate whether your life insurance policy is still right for you?

Do You Need Life Insurance Now?

Deciding whether or not you need life insurance depends largely on your age and your personal situation.  If you have children or a spouse, having life insurance, no matter what your age, is important to ensure that they are cared for should anything happen to you.  If, however, you are not married or do not have children, do you still need life insurance?  One thing to consider is whether or not you have any family or other people who rely on you financially, such as your parents.  Another consideration is your age.  It is considerably cheaper to purchase life insurance at a younger age, so if you plan on having a family in the future it may be wise to give yourself the best protection at the lowest rate.

Balancing Protection And Investments

Life insurance can certainly be more than just a financial security blanket for your family; it can also be a wise investment opportunity.  In selecting life insurance there are, in general, two different types to consider-term and permanent.  Term life insurance is a good choice if you are young and have a family.  It can offer you the maximum protection for the lowest premium but, as the name suggests, the insurance is only valid for the term of the policy, at which point it expires. Permanent life insurance, on the other hand, offers you protection for life and usually gives you a return on your investment in the form of a cash value on the policy.  While the premiums on a permanent life insurance policy will be higher than a term policy, it may be a better choice for long-term protection.

Retirement and Life Insurance

Retirement is a time when we experience a number of changes in both our day-to-day lives and our financial and family lives.  This is also an important time to re-evaluate your life insurance policy, and in most cases make some changes in the type of coverage you have.  At retirement you and your spouse's financial situation is likely very different than when you first got married.  Your family has also changed, and your children are likely not in need of the same financial security through you that they once did.  This is a time when choosing a more affordable life insurance that can offer you a cash value may in your best interest.


How Your Homeowner's Policy Protects Your From Lawsuits

May 30th, 2019

Most people think of homeowner's insurance as a policy that is there to protect their house and property.  Although this is a major feature of a homeowner's policy, there is another main coverage that comes with all homeowner's insurance, and which can really save you in case of a lawsuit directed at you for a negligent act.  Your liability insurance will give you coverage for a wide variety of situations you might otherwise find yourself paying for out of pocket.

What Is Liability Coverage?

The liability coverage on your policy is there for any situation in which you are held responsible for damage or injury to someone else's property or person.  In order for liability coverage to kick in, you have to be found negligent in the incident.  For example, if you left your dog off the leash and he ran out to the street and bit someone you are negligent, because your dog should legally remain contained in your home or yard.  You have broken a leash law and thus the person who was injured can sue you. 

How Much Liability Coverage Do I Need?

Some homeowner's policies start with a low end limit of $100,000 for liability, and go up to $1 million.  The average coverage is somewhere in between.  How much coverage you need depends on what assets you have to protect.  What could you lose in a lawsuit?  The more you have, the more likely people are to sue, sad but true.  So if you are fairly affluent, more coverage is always better.  Liability coverage is usually a very affordable option, so going up by several hundred thousand dollars isn't going to cost a whole lot more.

What Else Am I Protected From?

Liability coverage protects you from a wide variety of potential lawsuits.  If a tree in your yard is not healthy and falls on your neighbor's house, your liability coverage will protect you.  If your child breaks a neighbor's window playing baseball, you are covered.  There are many cases in which liability coverage will kick in for you.

Your insurance policy also ensures you won't ever face a lawsuit alone.  If it is agreed that you are negligent, a claim can be made against your policy without going to court.  But if you disagree that you are responsible, and your homeowner's insurance company agrees, they will pay to represent you in court to fight the charges.

Liability is an invaluable coverage to have on your homeowner's policy, and the more you have the better off you will be.  In a society well known for suing at the drop of a hat, protecting yourself is just the smart thing to do.


Why A Lapse In Coverage Can Have Serious Results

May 13th, 2019

Letting your auto insurance policy lapse doesn't seem to be that serious a matter on the surface.  Unfortunately, it is not only illegal to drive without insurance; it can also have much more serious consequences than a ticket for driving without insurance.  A lapse in auto insurance can have far-reaching results with the potential to affect your entire life. 

The Legal Aspect

All drivers are required by law to carry a minimum liability policy in order to get behind the wheel.  This protects all of the drivers on the road by ensuring that in the event of an accident, the at-fault party will have insurance to pay for the damage.  If you are pulled over and found to be driving without insurance, you will be given a ticket and may face even more serious legal consequences.

Financial Consequences

If you think you can't afford to pay your insurance premiums, then you really can't afford not to pay them.  If you are involved in an accident where you are found to be at fault, and there is no insurance to pay the damages, you will be responsible.  In a serious accident with a lot of property damage and injuries, this can add up really quickly.  You may not have the thousands of dollars to pay the bills, but with a judgment against you your wages can be garnished and other assets placed in danger, including your home.  Not paying that insurance premium can lead to paying off a huge amount of money for the rest of your life.

Future Insurance Premiums

Some insurance companies won't even take a driver who does not have previous insurance (aside from new drivers), while others will simply charge you a higher premium.  A lapse in your old policy can mean that you will no longer qualify for the rates you were getting before.  You may lose discounts including longevity with your insurance company, or be treated as a higher risk to the company.  You may also have to make a new down payment or pay reinstatement fees.  It can take a while to work your way back up to getting the better rates reserved for the company's best customers.  Some insurance companies may also have a limit on the number of times you can lapse before they refuse to reinstate you. 

A lapse in your insurance policy can be much more costly than had you simply continued to pay your premiums.  If you are having trouble paying your insurance bill, talk to your agent about ways to reduce your rates, rather than allowing a lapse to occur.


Covering Your Personal Property

April 29th, 2019

Most people love their home, but what makes it far more valuable than the walls and roof are the things that fill it.  Your personal property is special to you, things that you have gathered over many years and selected to suit your personal taste.  Making certain you have enough coverage for these things should be a top priority when it comes to homeowner's insurance.  Here's how to be sure your personal property is protected.

How Personal Property Coverage Is Determined

Most insurance companies use a percentage of the value of the home to determine the amount of personal property coverage.  When you see that number, be sure to question it if you believe it's too low.  In some cases you may need to provide some evidence for the extra coverage, but it's worth the hassle.  If you were to lose everything in a fire, that is the maximum amount you would receive to replace everything.  And that really is everything, from your toothbrush to your dining room table.  So be sure to discuss that number thoroughly with your agent!

Special Items Of Value

Whenever there is something of particular value in a home, such as artwork, jewelry, or rugs, you may need to take out a special additional coverage known as a floater.  A floater adds a specific coverage to the policy that is intended only for that particular item.  It usually requires an appraisal of the item as proof of value and comes with an extra premium amount.  However, if your diamond engagement ring is stolen from your home you will certainly be glad you covered it properly, because most personal property coverage has a per item limit on jewelry that probably won't cover it.

When You Aren't At Home

Many people don't know this, but your homeowner's insurance will actually cover your personal property anywhere you go.  That means that if your things are stolen from your car, or even from your hotel room in Hawaii, you can make a claim against your policy to recover the damage.  You will, of course, have to pay the deductible, so the amount of the stolen goods will need to be enough to make the claim worthwhile.

Your homeowner's insurance covers more than your house-it covers the things that make it your home.  Be sure you help your agent and insurance company cover your things properly by keeping good records, taking out floaters when needed, and ensuring you have the right amount of coverage on your policy.


Choosing Liability Coverage For Your Business 

April 24th, 2019

No matter what type of business you run, you need to protect your interests with the right insurance policy.  Every company needs a variety of different types of insurance; some of these policies are the same no matter what kind of business you have, while others might be specific to your industry.  One of the coverages that remains the same across the board is general liability coverage.

What General Liability Is For?

There are a number of different types of liability policies you can purchase to protect yourself from potential financial responsibility.  General liability is one of the less specific forms of coverage and provides a generalized, overall coverage for liability claims resulting from a wide array of possible incidents.  While it will not protect you from everything, a good general liability policy provides you with a solid foundation.

A general liability policy gives you coverage for defense from lawsuits and to pay out financial claims when negligence on your part can be proven.  It prevents your company from facing potentially serious financial damage due to property damage, injuries, or any other claim that can be proven to be a result of your company's actions or products.

Choose Your Policy Carefully

When you select a liability policy for your company, you should first make certain that the policy covers you from all angles.  If you have specific risks that are not covered by general liability, you may want to purchase additional policies to provide that coverage.  It is important to understand what is covered by your general liability policy and what is not; waiting until a claim occurs is not the best time to discover the exclusions in your policy! 

Be certain that a few basics are being covered by your general liability policy.  You want to be sure that you have good public liability coverage-meaning that members of the general public who might sustain injury or loss as a result of negligence on your company's part can be compensated.  You also need to be sure that you have enough coverage to protect yourself properly.

Your general liability policy is one of the most important you will select as a business owner; it takes only a quick look at the news to see the array of claims consumers have made against companies in recent years.  Many of these lawsuits ended in favor of the claimant.  Without good liability coverage, your company could wind up paying these claims out of pocket.  Take the time to make sure you have selected liability coverage that meets all of your needs and potential risks.


Do You Need Home Insurance As A Renter?

April 8th, 2019

Think home insurance is just for homeowners?  Protecting your personal property and ensuring costs are covered should a fire happen in your rental property is not only smart, but in most cases your legal responsibility.  So what kind of insurance do you need as a rental tenant and what should you be sure you have covered to protect your belongings?

What Does Renter's Insurance Cover?

Depending on where you purchase your renter's insurance, the types of claims that will be covered can vary.  In general, renter's Insurance coverage is similar to that of homeowner's insurance in that it covers natural disaster and acts of nature, vandalism and theft, and fire.  In most cases this also includes personal liability, meaning that you are covered even if you are the cause of the damage, and it usually includes not only the property itself, but the contents as well.  You will want to call your agent to help you find a policy that is right for your situation and budget.

What Does Renter's Insurance Cost?

Like most insurance policies, the more comprehensive the policy, the most costly it will be, but overall, renter's insurance is usually a very affordable type of insurance.  In most cases it will cost you less than $20 a month.  One option that will always make homeowner's or renter's insurance more affordable is to combine it with another type of insurance, usually car insurance.  Most insurance companies have these types of combined policies available, and since these are two types of insurance that you are required to have anyway, combining them to save money is a great idea for making insurance more affordable.


Do You Need A Commercial Auto Insurance Policy?

April 4th, 2019

If you run a business that requires the use of vehicles for company activities, you need a commercial auto insurance policy.  Commercial insurance policies are designed to protect you against the wide variety of liability issues you face when you have employees on the road using your vehicles. 

Without a commercial auto policy, if an accident were to occur, you and your company will be held accountable for property damage and injuries.  Only a commercial policy can protect you and your business from financial disaster.

Whether your company has one car or a hundred delivery vans, there is a commercial policy that will suit your needs.  You can obtain individual commercial policies for each vehicle used by the company, or choose a fleet policy if you have more than a few cars.

You have other insurance policies in place to protect your company from liability, fire, theft, and other potentially catastrophic events.  Commercial auto is the policy that will protect your company when you or your employees are on the road.


Why Does My Credit Score Affect My Auto Insurance Rates?

March 27th, 2019

If you have ever shopped around for car insurance, you probably already know that there are a number of factors that affect the rates you will be paying.  Age, experience, and the type of vehicle you drive all seem like reasonable criteria, but what about your credit score?  Whether you are aware of it or not, your credit rating in most cases does affect your insurance rates; knowing your credit rating and what it means for your rates makes it easier for you to get the best deal.

How Does My Credit Score Affect My Insurance?

We all know that your credit rating can affect your ability to get a loan or purchase a home, but how your credit score affects your skill as a driver may not seem apparent-because it does not.  The use of credit ratings as criteria for insurance premiums is a controversial topic, and the decision of insurance companies to include them is not fully understood.  Your best strategy in determining what role your credit score has on your rates is to contact your insurance company and ask them for information.

How Do I Find My Credit Score?

If you are concerned about the effect of your credit score on your car insurance rates, you can easily determine your exact credit score.  You can obtain your credit score from a number of free organizations such as Equifax, for example.  Having an up-to-date and accurate breakdown of your credit rating before contacting your insurance company will give you the power of knowing whether or not their evaluation is a fair reflection of your credit rating.

What Can I Do If I Have A Bad Credit Score?

If you do have a bad credit rating, repairing your credit is your best strategy in eliminating this negative factor in your insurance company's calculation of your premiums; this will not reduce your rates in the short term, however.  If your credit score has a considerable effect on your rates, your only real option in the short term is to shop around for a new policy at renewal time.

Though the fairness of insurance companies in using credit scores as criteria for evaluating the risk of insuring a particular individual is arguable, at this point it cannot be changed.  Arming yourself with information about how your rates are calculated-and remembering that as a consumer you have the right to shop around-will help reduce the impact of this factor.


Insuring Your Teenager: Tips And Tricks For Saving Money

March 4th, 2019

If your son or daughter has recently reached the age when they are starting to drive, you likely already have enough anxiety without thinking about what your teen driver is going to do for your car insurance rates.  Inexperienced drivers usually come with high insurance premiums, and having the facts about insuring your teen driver before contacting your insurance company will ensure you are ready to find the best deal possible.  Here are some tips to saving on your car insurance if you have a teen driver!

How Insurance Companies Include Additional Drivers-Some insurance companies assign the most expensive car to the most expensive driver, making them the primary driver for that vehicle whether or not this actually reflects the circumstances.  If you have a luxury car, this could cost you a fortune.  Your options are to buy your teen an older vehicle or switch to an insurance company that doesn't use this method.

Keep Their Grades Up-Most insurance companies look at factors such as your teen's grades to gauge responsibility, much as they would look at the credit score of an adult.  Requiring good grades as a part of their responsibility as a new driver is a good idea, both for them and your pocketbook.

Driver's Education-Taking a Driver's Education course often provides an insurance discount for teen drivers.  It will also give them the skills they need to be safe and accident-free.

Increase Your Deductible-This is always an effective way to reduce your insurance rates, but always be sure you choose a deductible that you can safely afford.

Keep Your Teen Accident Free-The best way to keep your rates down and your teen safe is to encourage safe driving practices.  This includes having rules about when your teen can drive, the number of passengers they can have in the car, and a no tolerance policy if they violate these rules.  Driving is a privilege, not a right, and instilling this mentality in them as new drivers will keep them safe through the years.

These tips can help make the cost of insuring your teen a little less stressful.


Ensuring Your Homeowner's Policy Is Up To Dates

February 25th, 2019

When your insurance company calculated the cost to replace your home in the event of a claim, they based it on the available knowledge they were given regarding your home.  Things like the square footage, the type of construction, the materials used inside and out, as well as any special features of the home were all included in the calculation.  What many homeowners forget is that updates to your home need to be reflected in the replacement cost.  Here are some key times when you should give your insurance company a call to provide updated information.

A Major Renovation

Whether you give your kitchen an overhaul or redo the master bath, these are high value areas of your home, and your insurance company needs to know you have improved them.  Give them a call and let them know what type of materials you used and what features you may have added, such as a jetted tub or granite countertops.  This will ensure that if insurance ever has to pay to replace your house, you will get those updates back.

An Addition To Your Home

If you add square footage to your home via an addition, it's important to let your insurance company know right away, as this has a large impact on your replacement cost.  Remember that insurance will only cover permitted additions to your home, so be sure you have all the right permits on file and everything is up to code.  Some additions, such as certain types of sunrooms, do not actually count toward the total square footage, so discuss the coverage for that type of addition with your insurance agent.

New Floors, New Windows

Anything you replace or upgrade should be reported to your insurance company.  Whether you replace your carpet with hardwood floors, or install new windows, doors, or other features, all of these things are important to the reconstruction cost of your home. 

If you aren't sure if a certain upgrade or change has any bearing on your insurance, it's always best to put in a call to your agent just to be on the safe side.  You don't want to make a claim down the road only to find out that the policy was outdated and you weren't covered for the improvements you have made to your home.  Although most policies do have some protection built in for this, the safest bet is to be sure you keep your policy up to date.  It's always worth a call to your agent or insurance company to let them know things have changed at your home.


Tips For Lower Rates Without Sacrificing Coverage

February 18th, 2019

Everyone is looking to save money these days, and auto insurance is one of the most common expenses people shop around for in order to reduce costs.  There are some great ways to save money on your auto insurance, and the good news is you may not even need to switch insurance companies to save money-nor should you have to give up any of your coverage.  Here are some of the easiest and most common methods of saving money on your auto insurance.

What Are Your Deductibles?

The deductible is the amount that you would have to pay out of pocket in the event of certain types of claims.  Most people opt for low deductibles so that they won't be responsible for coming up with much cash.  This isn't always the smartest way to go, however.  Higher deductibles can save you a lot of money in the long run, even if you do wind up having a claim in which you have to pay that amount.

If you are a good driver, the odds of having an at-fault accident are relatively low.  If increasing your deductible saves you hundreds of dollars a year, you won't have to go many years without an accident before you have already saved more than enough to cover that increase in the deductible.

Are You Getting All The Available Discounts?

One of the things many people don't consider when shopping around for car insurance is shopping for homeowner's insurance at the same time.  Why should you do this?  Most companies offer a hefty discount on both policies when they insure your home and auto together.  Check if your current auto insurance company offers homeowner's as well, and you might not even have to bother shopping around.  In addition to the savings, you will also have the convenience of everything being in one place.

There are other discounts you may be missing out on as well!  Be sure to check regularly with your agent or insurance company to find out if all the discounts you qualify for are being applied to your policy.

Are Your Cars Rated Correctly?

Auto insurance rates are calculated based on a number of factors, including the number of miles you drive each day.  If you are a stay at home parent but your car is being rated as a commuter vehicle, you could be paying too much.  If you have changed jobs and now commute only five miles each day rather than 30 miles, your yearly average will drop, which could have an effect on your rates.  Be sure to advise your agent when changes in your driving habits occur!  You could be reaping the benefits.


Combining Insurances To Save Money

February 4th, 2019

The number of insurance policies that you need, and the premiums that you pay for them, can seem to take a huge part of your monthly budget.  So how can you keep you and your family protected while saving some money?  Often you can save by combining other insurance policies with your home insurance without sacrificing coverage.

Insurance companies are more than happy to insure policyholders with multiple policies, so they are eager to offer you great discounts.  This will help you to save more on your premiums.

When you combine your home and auto insurance, for example, you will not only save money, but you will have the added convenience of dealing with one agency, familiar paperwork from policy to policy, and more peace of mind if a claim arises.

You should always read the insurance policy carefully so that you know exactly what you are covered for and how much the provider will pay for a claim.  It is important to remember that having the right amount of coverage outweighs the cost of having inadequate coverage.