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Preparing Your Business for the Event of a Flood

Just like your home, your business can flood and potentially experience extensive damage. However, your business has a completely different set of risks than your home does. After a flood in your place of business, you could experience loss resulting from damage to records, inventory, equipment, and technology as well as other valuable property and assets. You also face a potential loss of business income in the time it takes to restore your facility – not to mention the cost of debris removal, cleanup, and restoration. Business owners can mitigate risk by developing a flood disaster plan and, of course, by having the proper insurance coverage in place.

 

Flood Damage is Serious Business for Your Business

Flooding can be caused by many events, including heavy rainfall, overflow from rivers or ponds, or a breach in a levee or dam. Often, flash floods can occur with almost no warning. In regards to damage, floods do more than simply make everything wet. Flooding can cause structural and electrical damage. The floodwater itself often contains sharp debris like metal or glass fragments or hazardous, unsanitary matter, and this water can contaminate anything it touches. Of course, if employees are present at the time of the flooding, their lives can also be in great danger.

 

Ask Your Agent About Available Insurance Coverage

Most standard commercial policies do not cover flood damage. However, some carriers offer coverage that is specifically tailored for business floods. The majority of these policies are provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The NFIP only covers commercial property, so you will need to ask your agent about adding flood-specific business interruption coverage to protect your operation against loss of income.

 

Create a Comprehensive Workplace Flood Disaster Plan

One of the most important ways you can prepare your business for the event of a flood is to keep copies of your insurance documentation and other vital documents in a location that will be safe from any potential flood damage; you can even keep these documents off-site if you are able. In addition to important documents, you will want to keep a backup list of all employees’ contact information. The next step is to assess the risks your building faces – check all walls and seams for cracks, move valuable items from bottoms floors if possible, and consider installing a sump pump to help prevent water from getting inside your building. Finally, in the event of an emergency during work hours, you will need an evacuation plan that all employees are trained in.

In the Event of a Flood…

You will be grateful that you have insurance to lessen the impact of the damage. Reach out to your agent today to find out more about your options to get covered.

Millennials and Life Insurance

More than any other generation, millennials (born 1981-1996) are going without life insurance. In some instances this is understandable; perhaps you are debt-free or never plan to have children. However, there are some considerations you should take into account before writing off life insurance entirely. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are a millennial considering (or who has never before considered) the possibility of purchasing life insurance.

 

DO YOU HAVE OTHERS DEPENDING ON YOU?

Whether it’s children, aging parents, or a disabled sibling, if there is someone who is financially depending on you for their future, life insurance will be there to take care of them. Although many millennials are waiting longer to get married and have children, life insurance is most affordable when you are young. This means even if you do not have children but plan to in the future, purchasing life insurance now is a good option. Once you begin having children, you can always adjust your coverage to fit your new needs.

 

DO YOU HAVE CO-SIGNED DEBT?

Americans owe over $1.56 trillion in student loan debt, and much of that debt belongs to millennial borrowers. While it is true that federal student loans are forgiven if you die, private loans are not. If you have a co-signer on your loan, such as your parents, they will be strapped with the responsibility of paying off the remaining debt if you pass. The same goes for any credit cards, cars, or mortgages with a co-signer. Having life insurance in place is a good idea for millennials with co-signed debts since it will assist your co-signers in paying off the remaining balance.

 

IS THERE A HISTORY OF HEALTH ISSUES IN YOUR FAMILY?

If your parents have heritable health conditions, there is a chance you could be diagnosed with the same condition eventually. Since it’s the most affordable to purchase life insurance when you are young and healthy, it is best to do it before you develop any health issues that may make life insurance more expensive or make you unable to qualify.

 

ARE YOU AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Many millennials are interested in entrepreneurship. If you own a business with someone else, they probably depend on you to keep the operation going. You can make sure the business you’ve built from the bottom up won’t be hurt by your death by purchasing life insurance, with the intent that the benefit is used for these purposes.

 

DO YOU LIVE WITH A SIGNIFICANT OTHER OR ROOMMATES?

It’s increasingly common for unmarried millennials to cohabit with a partner, and many live with one or more roommates. Unlike life insurance that benefits a spouse or children, a policy intended to assist housemates with the cost of rent will not need to cover a long span of years. It will only need to help with covering expenses through the end of your lease.

What to Do If Your Car Is Stolen

Remain Calm 

If you believe your car has been stolen, your immediate response is likely to completely freak out. This is understandable, but there is a chance you could be mistaken. It is possible that your car was towed or even that your teenager took it without asking. Make a few calls to local towing companies to see if your car is with them. If you determine that your car was, in fact, stolen, you must still remain calm so you can follow the correct procedures. 

Call the Police 

This is your first step once you know your vehicle was taken. To report your car as stolen, you will need to provide facts that the police can use to identify your car. This information includes a detailed description of the vehicle including make, model and year, color, and any unique features such as bumper stickers or dents. You will also want to have your license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN) on hand to provide to police. If you don’t know these off the top of your head, consider keeping a note of them in your wallet or cell phone. It’s especially important to contact police right off the bat, since many carriers will not honor a claim unless a police report is filed first. 

Contact Your Insurance Agent 

After filing a report with the police, it is time to file a claim with your insurance. Only a comprehensive auto insurance policy offers coverage in the case of theft, but even if you do not have this policy it is a good idea to notify your insurance agent about the incident. By notifying insurance, you may still be able protect yourself against any damage that occurs to persons or property while the vehicle is in possession of the thief or thieves. You will want to have at hand the same vehicle information you provided to the police, as well as items such as the title, a list of the location of all keys to the vehicle, a list of any personal property that was in the vehicle, the police report number, and contact information for your finance or leasing company. You provide the information, and your agent will take care of the rest. 

Final Steps 

After taking the initial steps to report the theft to police and involve your insurance agent, you will want to tie up any loose ends by notifying other parties that have an interest in your vehicle. Your agent will likely take care of this, but you can also place a call to your finance or leasing company. Report the theft to the DMV as well. 

You should continue working with your insurance agent to see about rental vehicle coverage, but the only thing to do once all these steps have been completed is to wait. Your car may be recovered, but unfortunately there is a chance it may not be. Your agent will be there by your side throughout the process, whatever happens. 

How Marriage Can Change Your Insurance Needs 

You already know that marriage will change a lot of things in your life. When you say “I do” you are combining your entire world – and often your home – with someone else’s. Among the changes that come with married life are adjustments you should make to your insurance coverage. 

Home & Property  

If you and your spouse move in together after getting married, you will want to have both of your names listed on the policy to ensure you both benefit from its protection. In addition to this change, you should consider increasing or adjusting your personal property coverage. Even before the wedding, you will want to get the engagement ring covered. Even if you never take the ring off and have no chance of losing it, there is still a chance that stones could fall out. Over the course of your engagement and even after the wedding, you may also receive valuable gifts. Whether you live together prior to marriage or combine your households after, wedding gifts can increase the total value of your possessions and require updates to your personal property coverage.  

Auto  

Auto insurance can undergo some of the biggest changes for married couples. Studies have found that married people have fewer motor vehicle accidents and take fewer risks while driving. Your auto insurance rates may decrease significantly after you get married. However if one spouse has a poor driving record, combining policies may not be the best option. It is best to get your agent’s advice on this matter, since he or she will be in the best position to tell you how you and your spouse can benefit from policy changes.  

Life  

If you and your future spouse do not already have life insurance policies, the event of your marriage is a good reason to consider purchasing life insurance. After all, once the two become one, you will most likely come to reply on each other financially. If either of you already possesses life insurance, you may want to update your beneficiary information to include your new spouse. Younger couples may not believe they need life insurance, but this coverage is likely going to be the least expensive while you are young and healthy. Life insurance will help protect your new family from the unexpected for years to come.  

Health  

Marriage is one of the qualifying life events that allow you to make changes to your health insurance policy outside of open enrollment. Usually valid within 60 days of the wedding, you can change your policies or add your spouse to your plan. Even if both partners already have health insurance through your employers, it can be worth it to speak to your agent about whether your current health coverage has everything you need. 

Last but not least, if you are changing your name after getting married, be sure to submit the change to your insurance company after finishing the legal side of the process! Marriage can be a wonderful thing, and when you have the proper insurance you are able to enjoy it even more fully. 

Strategies to Reduce Employee Illness and Injury 

As a business owner, the health and safety of your employees should be a top priority. Not only are healthy employees happier, but they are more productive, too. Ultimately, having high health and safety standards will also reduce costs to your business since insurance premiums will be lower with a cleaner safety record. Additionally, having employees that are healthy and able to work will reduce costs that would arise from loss of productivity or hiring and training in the case that your employee has an accident and is unable to continue. 

Root Causes

Workplace injuries or illnesses can occur for a number of reasons. Improper application of safety procedures or protective gear, misuse of equipment, lack of ergonomic solutions, and overexertion from overtime work are common themes that lead to workplace injury–or even death. It is important to pay attention to the past injuries or accidents that have occurred at your business, so you can plan to prevent them in the future. 

Education is Key 

The best way to ensure that health and safety standards are met in your workplace is to regularly educate both management and staff about the proper procedures. While everyone may receive this kind of training in orientation, employees that stay on for several years will eventually forget what they learned and may unintentionally lapse in their duties to uphold the company’s standards. For this reason, it is a good idea to schedule employee health and safety refreshers at regular intervals. 

Develop a Plan

With regular meetings about wellness and safety comes an increased awareness of the unique safety concerns that may be present at your business. Each type of business will have its own specific concerns. Meetings can be an excellent way to hear the concerns and opinions of all employees and identify matters that may need to be investigated or procedures that may need to be adjusted. If your business does not already have a health and safety plan, use these meetings to develop one based on the input of your management and staff. 

Get Insured

Implementing high health and safety standards can do a lot to reduce the frequency of employee illness and injury, but accidents may still happen. In the case that they do, you want to make sure your company has the right insurance coverage to take care of your employees and prevent losses to your business. 

Why Stay at Home Parents Need Life Insurance

You may think that the only parents who need life insurance are working parents, but that isn’t exactly correct. A stay at home parent is more than just a mother or father. These individuals wear many hats: tutor, chef, chauffeur, housekeeper, caretaker, and more. The true value of these duties is priceless, but the economic value of them is clearly measurable. Purchasing a life insurance policy for a stay at home parent is a smart and compassionate way to ensure that your family is financially protected in the event of the unthinkable.

The Value of the Invaluable

Purchasing life insurance for a stay at home parent may seem strange since one of the purposes of life insurance is to replace the insured’s income that dependents rely on. Even though they do not earn an income, a stay at home parent’s work may be valued at over $100,000 a year. This means that in the case of a stay at home parent’s death, the surviving parent could be responsible for over $100,000 of equivalent services each year. Daycare alone can cost up to $20,000 a year, depending on the state you live in and the age of the child. Even if it doesn’t cost that much, this kind of expense can put a heavy burden on a surviving parent – and this is only one example. For this parent to continue earning an income, some or all of the work the stay at home parent previously performed will need to be outsourced. Having a life insurance policy in place for the stay at home parent can assist in alleviating these newfound financial responsibilities.

Consider Term Life Insurance

A term life insurance policy is a good option for a stay at home parent since it can cover a range of years in which the family is at the most risk in case of the stay at home parent’s death. After children are grown, there are fewer services that a stay at home parent performs, and less coverage may be needed.

Other Advantages

In addition to providing assistance with the duties of child and home care, life insurance for a stay at home parent can also provide financial help with final expenses, debts, and other common uses for life insurance.

Speak to an Agent 

If you and your spouse are considering purchasing life insurance for the stay at home parent in the family, the best way to figure out what kind of coverage is best for your needs is to speak to one of our independent agents. We are here to help you think about the difficult things so your family can be better protected.

Teens and Distracted Driving 

Starting to drive is one of the most exciting experiences for teenagers, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. According to the CDC, teenagers are the most likely age group to get into a traffic accident. Teens are more likely to speed and less likely to wear seatbelts than older drivers. They are also much more likely to become distracted while driving, resulting in a much higher potential for injury-causing or even fatal accidents. What are the most common distractions facing teen drivers, and what can be done? 

Cell Phone Usage  

Perhaps the most obvious cause of teen distracted driving is the use of cell phones while on the road. Cell phone use while driving is illegal in some states, but many people–especially teenagers–still engage in it. Both talking on the phone and texting are dangerous for the teen driver, and many teens will even open and use social media apps while driving. Distracted driving causes 15% of all injury-causing accidents, so as the most susceptible to distracted driving, teens should be made highly aware of the potential consequences of their actions.   

Talking on the phone can cause mental distraction and manual distraction, and even hands-free conversation methods can cause distraction. Texting while driving is much more dangerous, as it causes mental, manual, and visual distractions. Taking your mind off the road is never good, but focusing your mind, hands, and eyes elsewhere is an incredibly dangerous combination. When you are distracted in these ways, reactions to potential dangers are much slower or may be completely missed.   

Other Distractions  

Cell phones are a serious distraction for teen drivers, but they are not the only source. Anything that takes your hands off of the wheel and mind or eyes off of the road can cause an accident. This includes activities such as eating, changing the music, applying makeup, and interacting with passengers. This last is perhaps the most dangerous of all. Studies have found that teenagers’ chances of a crash increase significantly with each additional passenger in the vehicle. This is especially true if the fellow passengers are teen peers.  

Solutions  

It is important for parents to share the dangers of distracted driving with their teenage children, but it is even more important for adults to model responsible driving behavior. Teens will not heed warnings against phone usage or other risky activities if they regularly see their parents engaging in these behaviors.  

There are also some mobile apps that will prevent cell phone usage while a car is in motion or when manually enabled before driving. These apps can be a good way to help teens become accustomed to leaving their phone alone while driving so that in the future they can practice self-control on their own.   

Be Prepared  

Educating teens about distracted driving and helping them find ways to combat these dangers can greatly help reduce teenage traffic accidents. However, we cannot control everyone on the road, and even the safest drivers can experience a collision. Make sure you and your family are covered in the event of a car accident with the right auto insurance. 

Should I Pay My Auto Insurance Premium Monthly or Annually?

When it comes to automotive insurance, you may find yourself faced with multiple decisions to make. Should you choose a high or low deductible plan, minimum or maximum coverage, or pay premiums monthly versus an annual lump sum? Although there is truly no wrong answer, it is important to ensure you have the best possible coverage for your budget, driving habits, and lifestyle. Your local insurance agent can guide you toward the ideal policy for your needs, but this may still leave you questioning the frequency of your payments. 

Depending on your budget, it may be harder for you to pay your insurance premium up-front. However, this is still the most cost-effective way to purchase coverage. Insurers may offer what seems like a discount when you pay annually, and this absolutely benefits you as the consumer. However, what this also means is that those who elect to pay monthly or quarterly are actually being charged added fees as a penalty for delaying payments. These fees cover the insurer’s “carrying cost” of delaying collection, the back-office expense for processing multiple transactions, and the risk of consumers terminating payments earlier than expected. If you are able to pay annually without causing financial strain, this is a great option for you. 

Of course, the most ideal payment schedule remains one that you can manage. Paying annually in a lump sum could leave you strained to cover other bills such as a car payment, or you could find yourself facing significant late fees if you aren’t able to make the next year’s annual payment. Should you choose to pay monthly, a major benefit is being able to maintain a consistent budget schedule without falling behind or incurring late fees. 

One additional payment preference is using either a personal debit or credit card or setting up automated electronic funds transfers (EFT). When using a card to make a payment, you may run into additional card processing fees from the insurer. Some providers will offer an incentive discount should you choose to pay via an EFT, which comes directly from your bank and does not charge the insurance provider additional fees. 

Overall, there is no incorrect method for making payments toward your auto insurance premium. Keep your budget in mind, and be sure to speak with your local insurance agent to obtain the appropriate level of coverage. Once you understand the policy that is best for you, you can make an informed decision regarding how often to pay. Your agent can help provide clarity around the price differences between paying monthly and annually, so contact your local insurance agent today. 

Retirement Plans: What You Are Truly Saving For

At first, it may seem like all that money you put into retirement savings over the years is pointless. However, in actuality, you will be thanking yourself for setting aside so much money once the time comes. Take a look at what you can look forward to after saving for retirement for so long.

Savings For: Travel & Vacation

Now that you have so many hours in the day to fill up, why not spend it going to places you’ve always wanted to see? Instead of daydreaming about paradise, you can actually go visit it with all the money you have saved up in your retirement plans! Retirement is the perfect time to see the world and all it has to offer. You may be surprised what you find out there. And with the right amount in your 401(k) or IRA plans, you can even make a vacation out of your adventure. You don’t have to worry about taking a personal day when you can have as many as you want to do whatever you want!

Savings For: A New Hobby

Have you ever wanted to take cooking classes? Or maybe even dancing classes? You may not have had time for hobbies in the past, or money, but now you do! Enjoy the things in life you couldn’t before by putting your savings to use the way you want. There is no better time to do this than during retirement.

Savings For: Your Loved Ones

When saving for retirement, you are not just trying to put aside money to spend on things you couldn’t afford before. You are also ensuring time with your loved ones. By saving enough money to enter retirement through various plans, you can spend your free time with your loved ones and bond like never before instead of focusing on work. You have worked so hard to ensure they have a good and happy life. Now you can be a part of it too.

Savings For: Volunteer Services

Volunteering is a great way to help those in need, but it can be difficult when you have to take care of yourself first. However, with your savings on your side, you don’t have to worry. Instead, you can spend your time volunteering without worrying about the fact that you do not make money profit because you know you are safe and secure with your retirement plans. Instead of constantly working to make ends meet, you can work the way you want by helping others.

Savings For: A Better Future

Many people look forward to retirement because it provides a time that is dedicated to the things you want. You can finally live happily after all the work you’ve put in. Without saving or investing in an insurance plan, your retirement may not be a fun time filled with all the opportunities listed above. Enjoy retirement by having our agency go over with you the best options for your retirement plan so your future is filled with joy. 

How to Lower Your Premiums on Home Insurance

As long as you own a home, homeowners insurance doesn’t go away. What’s worse is that insurance premiums have the tendency to increase over the years. Whether you are shopping for homeowners insurance for your first home or looking to decrease your premiums for your current home, here are a few tips to help you make your insurance more affordable.

Improve Your Home Security

By decreasing vulnerabilities in your home, you can potentially cut your insurance premiums by as much as 15-25 percent. Methods of improving your home security can include adding a smoke detector, burglar alarm, dead-bolt locks, sprinkler system, and professionally installed storm shutters and doors. With these added safety measures in place, your house is less likely to receive damage from unforeseen instances such as storms, floods, fire, or burglary. If you do make these safety upgrades to your home, keep a record of your receipts in case your provider wants proof before lowering your premium.

Know Your Location

If you haven’t bought your home yet, check the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report of the home you are interested in. These reports will be able to tell you the property’s insurance claim history so you can be familiar with any problems the house has had.

Increase Your Deductible

A deductible is the amount of risk you agree to accept before the insurance company starts paying on a claim. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your insurance premiums. You could save up to 25% on your premiums simply by doubling your deductible.

Bundle Your Home and Auto Policies

If you already have auto insurance, consider either purchasing your home insurance with the same provider or moving your auto insurance to your new home insurance provider. More often than not, you can save a lot of money on your premiums by bundling the two with the same provider. In fact, bundling can save you anywhere from 5 to 15 percent on your monthly payment.

Determine if Loyalty Matters

Insurance providers typically reward their loyal customers by offering policy discounts. Some insurers will reduce your premiums by 5 percent if you stay with them for three to five years and by 10 percent if you remain a policyholder for six years or more. However, while loyalty has its benefits, some providers offer cheaper discounts to new clients who switch over to their agency.
Make sure you do not ignore such opportunities by occasionally checking your price with other policies that could potentially be cheaper from the beginning.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

This might sound obvious, but don’t have insurance for things you don’t need to cover. For example, if you aren’t in a flood zone, flood insurance may not be the best option for you. Or, if you don’t have any expensive jewelry, you shouldn’t need a jewelry policy. So unless you have a good reason for having a type of insurance, you probably shouldn’t have it. With that being said, it would also be a good idea to reevaluate your coverage each year to make sure your policies are relevant to your current lifestyle. Having one that is unneeded will only make you spend unnecessary money that could be used elsewhere.

Shop Around

Odds are that you aren’t going to pick the cheapest insurance provider with your first choice. In order to make sure you don’t pay more than necessary, shop around either before purchasing home insurance or before renewing your current policy. Ask your friends who they are covered through and check consumer guides to be sure you get the lowest rates that fit your current situation.

To be sure you get the lowest premiums on your homeowners insurance, contact our agency today. We’ll do the shopping for you to get you the best coverage at the best price, whether it’s your first time or you need a readjustment upon renewal time.