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Ways to Protect and Secure Your Home While You Are Away

It’s easy to worry about your home when you’re away on a vacation or a business trip. Did you lock all the doors? Did you leave the stove on? Does it look obvious that the house is empty? These are all legitimate worries when you’re spending time away from your humble abode. Fret not, however, as here we have compiled some ways of securing and protecting your home while you are away on business or pleasure!

Basic measures

First things first, you should start with the basics. For example, put your interior lights on timers if you want your home to appear to be occupied while you are away. Next, you should ensure that your mail and newspaper deliveries are delayed so that mail isn’t piling up on your porch or in your letterbox. Also, make sure to set your thermostat appropriately and ensure that most of your appliances are unplugged or switched off entirely. Don’t forget to set your house alarm!

Water damage and appliance damage

If you want to save energy, turn down your water heater’s temperature and switch off your hot water recirculation pump. You can also suspend your internet with many ISPs, temporarily halting your internet service. It’s also a great idea to unplug appliances which aren’t necessary while you’re away (i.e. don’t unplug the fridge) or plug them into surge protectors and then turn them off.

If you have any leaky faucets or other similar problems, you aren’t going to be around to keep an eye on them. As a result, you should look to get these issues fixed before departure. Also, it may be a good idea to shut off your home’s main water supply while away. Shutting off individual appliance valves and clearing your gutters are also good measures to take.

Preventing burglaries

Although having the appropriate insurance will certainly help to ease your mind, there are ways to prevent burglaries from ever happening in the first place. First of all, secure your windows and doors, even if they are on the higher levels of your house. Burglars are not incapable of accessing your property via trees or ladders. Next, make sure that you use a reliable home alarm system which covers the appropriate areas of your home. Then, make sure that any high-value items such as jewelry or high-end appliances are secured, out of sight, and hidden. You should also consider installing motion-activated lights outside your home.

Never leave a spare key under a doormat or in a similar place – you’re just asking for trouble. If absolutely necessary, install a high-end key lockbox or give a spare key to a trusted friend/family member for emergencies.

Ask people to conduct minor maintenance

It’s worth asking a trusted friend or family member to keep an eye on your house while you’re away, perhaps even allowing them to stay there and housesit while you’re away. Making your home look occupied (or actually having it occupied) is one of the easiest ways to prevent a break-in. Just be sure to arm the helper with any information they may need for their stay in your home. For example, tell them where your shut-off valves and circuit breakers are located, and provide them with the codes to your alarm system too.

Think before you Tweet

Although we all like to make our friends jealous on Facebook and Twitter when we’re jetting off around the world and doing exciting things, it could also leave us vulnerable if done in real-time. During WWII, the British government used to put up posters reading “Careless talk costs lives”, meaning that you shouldn’t say confidential things in public, as you never know who’s listening. The same applies here with social media too! Even if you have your settings set to “private” and “share with friends only”, it only takes one suspicious Facebook friend or Twitter follower to spill the beans that you’re away from home to a potential burglar. Posting that you’re on vacation may seem harmless and fun, but you could essentially be nailing an “I’m not here!” sign to your front door.

Many people worry about keeping their home out of harm’s way when they’re on a trip, but we have information and resources to help calm your mind. Contact us to find out how we can help!

Six Top Tips for Home Protection

A big part of owning your own home, or even renting a property, is protecting it and your personal belongings inside. If you’re concerned about home protection, then here are six of the best tips that you need to keep your home and belongings safe from harm:

  1. Change Your Approach

The only way to achieve comprehensive protection is to consider just where your home is the most vulnerable. Instead of going into home protection blind, you need to create a tailored plan that pinpoints the exact liabilities of your property.

Go around your home, look for weaknesses, and take note of where others might be able to see into your home. Then assess your doors, check their strength, and think about how you would break in if you were in the shoes of an intruder.

  1. Think About Security

Doors and windows should be secure, which means that new locks, stronger frames, and better hingers, may be an investment that you need to make. Double check to make sure there are no cracks around your doors or windows, invest in a security door or high-impact glass, and always lock-up when you’re leaving the house.

  1. Hide Your Keys

If you’re constantly losing your keys, having a spare outside may seem like a good idea. However, it’s one of the easiest ways for someone to break into your home.

Try a different approach and opt for a keyless door, or even leave a key with a trusted friend, instead of outdoors.

  1. Protect Your Wiring

Wiring is a major vulnerability in the home, and the weak spot of a security system. Make sure all wiring is fully hidden and properly covered.

  1. Change Your Garden

Anywhere outside that restricts your view from the property can be detrimental to property protection, but so can landscaping that puts your home on full view from the street. Consider a garden makeover and take care of blind spots in your landscaping.

  1. Insure Your Home and Belongings!

Prevention methods to stop burglaries are vital, but so is protection if the worst happens and your belongings or property are damaged. Getting adequate home insurance is a must to avoid the financial stress and upheaval of having to pay out for expensive repairs and replace belongings in your home.

Talk to us today for information about comprehensive home insurance and plans that are tailored to your needs. For a peace of mind over home protection and the best insurance, don’t delay in giving us a call.

First Time Getting a Home Insurance Policy? Here Are the Top Tips You Need…

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions that you’ll make in your life. Not only does it free you from the restraints of having to pay rent, but it’s a valuable long-term investment that makes sense in more than one way when it comes to finances.

One of the biggest things that first-time home buyers have to face, is how to save vital funds when they are trying to purchase a property. This puts home insurance near the top of the priority list, not just because it can protect your belongings and property, but because it’s a key area to start saving money.

First-Time Home Insurance Policies – The Costs

You can expect insurance rates to cost you around an average of $952 a year, according to the statistics from Value Penguin. While this is the average, prices can fluctuate quite severely. There are a number of key factors that can influence home insurance cost, including:

  • Non-payment that resulted in insurance cancellation
  • High-risk properties, use of specialist materials in construction, high-claim area, or special feature properties
  • No insurance history or sparse insurance history
  • Paying separately for different insurances instead of using bundles
  • Making insurance claims

Many homeowners get the benefit of discounts on their home insurance, but this often isn’t the case for first-time buyers. Due to this, it’s important to make sure that you thoroughly investigate all the options open to you and take advantage of all money-saving opportunities.

Top Tips for Saving Money on Home Insurance 

Just a few simple tips and tricks may lead to some substantial savings on both the purchase of your first home and your home insurance. Here are our top five ways to make savings:

1.) Plan Ahead

Leaving home insurance as the last item on your to-do list means limiting your options for a good home insurance policy. It will pay in the long-run to research early, know your options, and find the right insurance for your needs. Always bear in mind:

  • Your home insurance will be in relation to your dwelling value not your real estate value.
  • Never feel pressured into making a decision without knowing what you’re covered for.
  • Get complete coverage for the important things.
  • Plan for potential increases in other insurance areas.

2.) Think About Insurance History

Your insurance history is incredibly important when getting house insurance – the better established your history is, the better discounts you’ll have access to. If you don’t have an established insurance history, then try building a good history by getting renters insurance or even contacting your parent’s insurance and seeing if you can be recognized by them.

3.) Know When Costs Change

Your home insurance will likely not be the same as the insurance that the current owners of the property pay. Personal information is needed to create an insurance plan, so be prepared to pay something different!

4.) Get That Home Inspection

A home inspection may be a big cost, but it could save you so much more in the long-run. Spotting major problems with a property now, could prevent serious financial disasters in the future. You might also get some top tips from your inspector about bringing down insurance costs.

5.) Double-Up and Get Mortgage Insurance

Not all insurance bundles are good, but it doesn’t mean that they are all bad either. Consider mortgage insurance alongside your home insurance, as the price may be substantially cheaper than if you went to a mortgage lender.

Need advice on home insurance, or want to get a head start with renter’s insurance? Give us a call today and we’ll make sure that all your insurance questions are answered!

Tips on how to lower car insurance rates in 2018

Car insurance rates can be crippling, especially if you’re young, have been caught up in accidents, or if you’re not able to afford to latest state-of-the-art car with futuristic safety features. Though car insurance premiums can be a pain to pay, here we offer you 8 tips on lowering your car insurance rates in 2018.

1. Car insurance discounts

There are numerous discounts which you may be entitled to with your auto insurance, here are but a few examples!

LOW MILEAGE – Do you drive less than 7,500 miles per year? You may get a 5-15% discount on your car insurance! Some insurance companies even offer discounts if you do some of your travel via public transport such as buses or subways.

MULTI-CAR DEALS – You may see 10-25% discounts on your comprehensive, collision, and liability premiums if you have more than one vehicle on the same insurance policy.

MODERN CAR DISCOUNTS – Does your car have airbags, anti-lock brakes, and automatic seat belts? Perhaps it has tracking systems and anti-theft alarms? You could see discounts from 5-30% depending on how modern and safe or thief-proof your car is.

2. Complete a traffic course

You can often see a 5-15% discount if you take a traffic course to improve your driving skills. The eligibility for these tests varies from state to state, however. Traffic school courses are usually 4 to 6 hours long, and can be done online, in person, or via a mixture of the two. They often set you back around $25 to $75, though you’ll make that back in discounts quickly. You may remove points from your record for minor traffic violations, though you can’t get this AND a discount. New York, however, is an exception to this rule.

3. Watch your credit report closely

Auto insurance companies take many factors into account when calculating your premiums, and your credit history is one of them. Some states have made this illegal, but in many, it remains a legal and common practice. Pay your bills on time and maintain a decent credit rating; it will help you to seem low-risk and therefore help to keep your car insurance rates down. The difference in auto insurance rates for “good credit” drivers and “poor credit” drivers is a staggering 67%.

4. Be a safe driver

It sounds so obvious, but it’s true. People with no traffic violations or accidents get lower insurance rates (over time) as they are simply presenting themselves as low-risk (i.e. safe) drivers. A single speeding ticket can increase your auto insurances rates 11-13%, so why take the risk with your life and your insurance premiums?

5. Invest in a safer car

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Safety Ratings Page (long name) contains a list of all the safety ratings for various cars, taking multiple factors into account. Prioritize safety ratings when you buy a new car, as you’ll likely decrease your insurance rates and better protect your own life!

6. Discounts for paying in full

You can usually see a 5-10% discount if you pay your car insurance premium in full, rather than spreading the payments out over an extended period. Though many people cannot afford to do this straight away, it could save you hundreds of dollars over the year.

7. Evaluate what you really need from your policy

Do you really need comprehensive and collision coverage? Vehicles that are worth less than $3,000 or less than 10 years old simply don’t require these forms of coverage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, getting rid of comprehensive and collision coverage (assuming you don’t need them) could save you around $660 per year on average.

8. Compare the market

As with any form of insurance, you should be sure to compare the rates, policies, and details of different insurers. Auto insurers have slightly different methods of ascertaining how much you will pay, so one insurer could happen to see you in a much more favorable light than another.

Among the myriad of circumstances used to calculate your auto insurance rates, your insurance could significantly drop (or spike) if you get married, move house, have an accident, buy a new car, or add a young driver to a household policy.

Consider taking the customer service ratings (and customer reviews) of the insurers into account when making your decision, as insurance companies are notorious for wanting to escape paying out whenever they can. Evaluate what is most important to you, what price you’re willing to pay, and what excess you’re willing to pay, assuming it is applicable. It pays to compare competing companies!

Looking for more help with lowering your car insurance rates? Get in touch today and we’ll be able to help you with a personalized plan which aims to lower your auto insurance rates for good.

Preventing Dog Bites

We love our dogs… the wagging tails… the kisses. And yet dog ownership has challenges. Dogs bite more than 4.5 million people each year. Of those, nearly 900,000 are severe enough to require medical intervention.

In addition, dog bites are costly. The typical cost per canine attack case settled through insurance is over $28,000. It’s a big number. It’s also why home insurance rates go up when you get a new dog…

Thankfully, there are actions you can take to decrease the chances of your dog biting or attacking someone.

First, choose your dog carefully. There are varying viewpoints on whether dogs of certain types are much more hazardous than others are or if home atmosphere has more to do with a pet’s nature. Speak with your veterinarian regarding prospective behavior and also wellness problems connected with details breeds.

Also, talk to our team about potential dog breeds that may be excluded from being protected your insurance coverage representative regarding breeds omitted from protection under your house owner’s insurance plan.

Next, introduce your family pet to your pet early. Well-socialized puppies are more likely to become grown-up pets who feel comfortable around people and other animals. It’s also good to keep exposing your dog to new situations…

Also be sure you you keep your child is older because nearly 50% of all severe dog bites involve youngsters. A good age is at least 4 years old. Kids of this age are better able to understand how to behave around your dog. And NEVER leave your baby or young child alone with a dog, no matter how much you trust the dog.

Finally, be sure to take care of your dog’s health. From spaying or neutering to controlling parasites… your dog’s health impacts their attitude. Be sure your dog also is seen by a vet regularly an is properly vaccinated.

Whether you already own a pet dog or are considering bringing a pooch into your home, give us a call to assess your insurance coverage responsibility coverage for bites and various other pet-related injuries. We’re here to help!

Tips on Finding Home Insurance Savings

Have an apartment or a house? You naturally need home insurance. The challenge is most people get home insurance and then ignore it.

The thing is, as time goes by your living situation changes. You may acquire more things like jewelry or art. You may make improvements to your home. You might have added a home theater.

In any case, you need your insurance to keep pace with your personal situation and to ensure your property and things are sufficiently protected.

There’s no magic time to think about home insurance policy … so have a look at these tips on the best ways to get the most value in your home owners plan.

Manage Your Credit

Credit scores impact insurance costs in many situations. The better your credit, the lower your insurance costs. Maintaining a strong credit rating is in your favor.

Allow Us to Search For The Best Home Insurance Deals For You

As an independent insurance agency we offer insurance from a variety of carriers … one phone call to our team is all that’s required to have us spring into action and shop for fantastic rates among numerous insurance providers. We’ll save you time & stress in the process.

Examine Your Deductible

Talk with us about your insurance deductible. The key is to make certain your deductible is something you could manage to pay in case of a serious issue. For a claim on a residence, one general rule is to have the deductible be high enough that you don’t leverage your insurance for “simply anything” that fails with your house. Home insurance really should be reserved for urgent scenarios. The higher the deductible the more you can save … some premiums can be cut by up to 30 percent.

Look into Discounts

If you have two or even more insurance policies (car/ residence for example) with the same service provider, you could save up to 15% off the plans. Certainly give us a call to explore your options …

Ensure You Aren’t Over-Insured

Some people believe getting even more insurance than they need will give them some type of benefit. It will not. You need an adequate amount of protection to cover the cost of replacing your residence and also its valuables. As an example, if your home is of moderate construction, you won’t insure it to replace with luxury materials. Likewise, you also need to protect yourself from being under-insured as well. The key here is to have an candid conversation with our insurance team so that we could make certain you have the RIGHT insurance.

One Last Suggestion

Many carriers offer additional discounts when you have been with them at the very least 3 to 5 years … so keep that in mind as you examine your property owners policy. As always, remember we’re here to help you, so call us today to earn certain you are obtaining the greatest worth from your insurance.

Common and Expensive Car Insurance Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Important Information

Most people will not argue the need to have car insurance for their cars because they know that how important auto insurance is to cover difficult situations such as theft, natural disasters, and accidents.

However, what most car-owners don’t know is how to avoid certain car insurance challenges. Some of the the most common mistakes range from paying too much, not having adequate coverage for your insurance needs, or signing up for redundant policies.

Here are some other challenges…

Not fully understanding the coverage you’ve purchased

Do not be deceived by the term “full coverage”. You might not be as covered as you think you are. Never make assumptions about the coverage you have or don’t have. Always get clarity on your insurance contract. Your agent should be happy to help you understand. And if they leave you with more questions than answers, we’re here to help!

Not asking about discounts

There are numerous discounts you may be entitled to have, such as price reductions, discounts for seniors, students, safe drivers, and lots more. Also, you could save on your premiums based on how your vehicle is equipped. Never fear of asking your insurance agent for discounts. They add up!

Neglecting to compare rates

While shopping for insurance isn’t really fun, getting multiple quotes is beneficial…  comparing rates benefits your wallet and gives you peace of mind. The good news is that as an independent agency we compare rates between multiple carriers to find the best policies for our clients!

Purchasing only the state-required minimum

Purchasing state minimums for your insurance may keep your insurance premiums low. However, it will always cost you more if and when you need to make a claim. It is advisable to pay a little bit extra just for that peace of mind. That way you will be ready for anything that comes your way with complete coverage.

Avoiding these car insurance mistakes is easy and we’ll gladly help. If you have questions about car insurance, please reach out to us!

Preventing Future Auto Insurance Problems

Choosing the right insurance policy can be an excruciating process for many people, and they try as fast as possible to get through it. When getting auto insurance, most people prefer to go with a company they know or one they often see on TV. Often, folks discover too late via terrible customer service or a complicated claim filling process that their auto insurance is doing more harm than good.

The smarter way to buy auto insurance

Vehicles are not assets, but a liability. They start depreciating the moment you put on your ignition and start to drive home. Right from there, your car will continue to lose value and cost you money. No one wants to lose their vehicle or overspend on the car for repairs after an accident. So it’s wise to take time and choose the right auto insurance policy suitable for you and your needs.

There are several things you can do when choosing an auto insurance plan. The first is to check all details of what is included in the package. A lot of people pay little or no attention to these details until an accident occurs. Of course by then, it’s too late. And some folks also make the mistake of opting for the lowest quote they can get. However, they fail to understand that the coverage is insufficient.

A lot of people will think that by omitting family members who drive the car “occasionally” that they are saving money. However, they may be voiding their insurance altogether. It’s best to really thoroughly discuss your situation and planned car-use to be sure you have adequate insurance coverage.

Prepare for the future

If you go to a little extra effort to protect your vehicle with the right insurance, you  can significantly decrease the potential risks you face.

Always have it in the back of your mind that the cheapest insurance policy isn’t always the best option for you. You will have to consider several factors before choosing an insurance provider. Apart from the price, other factors to consider include customer service, feedback from customers, and financial stability.

Oh, and we offer an extra benefit. We secure quotes between multiple carriers to help you find the most competitive rates. That means we take care of the shopping for you.

And if you’re on the lookout for great information about insurance topics that impact health and your pocketbook, check back here often. And please contact us anytime for all insurance related questions.

Getting the Right Car Insurance Coverage

Each auto insurance policy is a collection of policy options bundled together. The size, configuration, and protection for auto insurance policies will vary by the policyholder.

Here’s how auto insurance policies break down, and what that means for you:

Liability Insurance. Liability insurance is the coverage necessary for driving legally in most states. Auto liability insurance will pay to victims in accidents where the insured is at-fault, within limits. The driver at-fault and any passengers in the at-fault vehicle will not be compensated.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance. If hit by a driver without insurance or inadequate insurance for the damages, uninsured/underinsured coverage can compensate for the difference.

Bodily Injury Liability Insurance (BIL). BIL coverage covers the medical expenses for victims of at-fault accidents. BIL inclusions are often listed as pairs, such as “25/50”. The first number in this ratio is the maximum dollar amount per claimant. The second is the maximum amount of liability insurance covered by the policy.

Collision Insurance. Collision insurance covers repairs to the vehicle following a mishap. Collision insurance is optional coverage and can pay for single-vehicle claims as well.

Property Damage Liability Insurance. Oftentimes, property damages are included in a vehicle mishap. Looking at BIL coverage, there may be a third number listed. For example, property damage limits of 25,000 on a 25/50 BIL policy will be included last, listed as 25/50/25.

Comprehensive Auto Insurance. Loss can occur without there being an accident. For vehicles stolen or damaged in a way uncovered by other policy inclusions, comprehensive coverage can cover repairs or replacement.

Personal Injury Protection. Regardless of fault, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance can cover medical expenses for both driver and passengers. Policies may also include compensation for lost wages during recovery.

Auto insurance is more than a protective measure, it’s a legal requirement just about everywhere. For more on the minimum auto insurance requirements for your state, contact a local auto insurance agent. The consequences for uninsured driving can be costly.

The legal minimum is a guide for ensuring drivers on the road are able to fulfill potential responsibilities. In cases where the claim exceeds coverage limits, the burden falls on the driver at-fault. To help avoid paying costs out-of-pocket, ask about increasing insurance coverage limits. As assets may be seized for repair costs, matching insurance coverage limits to total personal asset value is recommended.

Getting the Right Amount of Insurance

There’s more to getting the right amount of insurance. Many people are paying more than necessary for protection. Insurance protection can overlap depending on policy options, employer benefits, and other insurance coverage. Get the best savings by speaking with an agent. A review of insurance protection can help get the best protection while saving money.

Personal means for procuring insurance will affect how much coverage is possible, yet through discounts and bundling options, there may be more options available than at first glance. Deductible amounts vary by person and will affect insurance rates. Selecting the highest-affordable deductible helps deliver the lowest rates. This means paying more in case of a claim, yet oftentimes can be cheaper than paying higher monthly rates.

In FL, HI, KS, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NY, ND, PA, UT, and Puerto Rico, drivers are required to carry N0-Fault Insurance. This insurance pays out regardless of fault and limits litigation options. These policies tend to be pricey and shopping for the best rates can lead to big savings.

Shopping for Car Insurance

With personal coverage limits in mind, it’s time to begin comparing rates and policy options. Auto policies and rates vary depending on driver history, the vehicle, location and more. Speak to an independent insurance agent for help finding the best auto insurance policy match.

Independent insurance agents return quotes for multiple insurance carriers. This places the power to choose in the hands of the buyer. With multiple quotes, it’s simple to compare rates and coverage. An independent agent can help tailor a policy to fit your lifestyle and financial profile. Incredibly more in-depth than an anonymous online quote quotes from independent insurance agents are far more accurate, tailored by someone invested in your policy.

Rather than working directly with a single major carrier, independent insurance agents are free to work for the customer, making carriers compete. Agents working directly for carriers are limited to their policies and rules, severely limiting their means to personalize a policy.

Negotiating for Discounts on Insurance

Ask about insurance discounts. Many insurance discounts are available and can change depending on carrier. Bundling discounts, safety discounts, student discounts and many others are available. An independent agent is your insurance representative. Their goal is your satisfaction. Contact an independent agent for a list of auto insurance quotes today.

6 Steps to Take Following a Vehicle Collision

Vehicle collisions happen each day to drivers of all ages. They are part of life in big cities and small towns. Knowing the correct actions to take following an auto collision can have a lasting impact on insurance premiums and possible legal repercussions. Take the correct measures to stay protected. Here are 6 steps to take following a vehicle collision:

1. Get to Safety

The action to take following an auto collision is getting to safety. Depending on the situation, this could mean moving a vehicle safely to the shoulder or exiting the automobile immediately. Always place safety as the top priority above all else. Create distance from moving traffic and other hazards before moving ahead.

2. Evaluate for Injury

A vehicle collision sends the adrenaline response into overdrive. Shock can distract from injuries. Check for personal injuries and encourage all others involved to do the same. If any back or neck injuries are suspected, immobilization is recommended. Any medically trained personnel can perform first aid if the situation allows.

3. Contact First Responders

After moving to safety and applying immediate first aid, call 911 and request aid. This is recommended any time there’s a vehicle collision, regardless of severity. Injuries may take days or longer to appear. Additionally, insurance carriers may reference official records following a vehicle collision.

4. Collect Information

With safety and first aid under control, it’s time to collect pertinent information from the people involved. More than driver name and car insurance carrier, thoroughly record the scene. Take photographs of the vehicles, damage, and the scene. Speak to the first responders to gather any relevant information. Trauma can affect short-term memory. Record responses for simple reference and accuracy.

5. Be Cooperative 

Following a vehicle collision, you may be in a heightened state of emotional response. This can make it challenging to be cooperative with other drivers and first responders. Other drivers are likely energized as well and may be challenging to communicate with. Be part of the solution.

6. Exercise Neutrality

One of the first gut responses following a vehicle collision or other trauma is talk it out. It’s perfectly natural yet following a vehicle collision a casual remark may cause trouble. After a vehicle collision, stay neutral with other drivers, witnesses, and responders. This includes remaining silent on social media channels. Inadvertently admitting fault may lead to increased insurance premiums and more.

Afterward, contact an insurance agent to report the collision and begin a claim. Agents are ready to help overcome vehicle collisions so you can get back on the road. Auto collisions are equal-opportunists and can happen anywhere. Prepare with comprehensive auto insurance and drive protected.

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