Facts About Flash Floods

Flash floods occur as a result of heavy rainfall, rapid snow thaw, city drains overflowing or dam/levee failures. They occur quickly and unexpectedly, within 6 hours of the events that caused them. Here are more facts to give you an idea of how dangerous flash floods can be:

  • Every region in the United States can be affected by flash floods, especially low-lying areas: near river beds and coastlines.
  • Cities are more likely to be affected by flash floods due to the predominant impermeable surfaces, such as asphalt, and the lack of natural drainage systems.
  • The water from flash floods can reach a height of 20 feet, which can severely damage anything in its path.
  • Just 2 feet of floodwater moving at 9 feet per second (standard speed of flash floods) is enough to sweep vehicles away, move 100 pound rocks, uproot trees or level buildings.
  • Just 6 inches of rapidly moving floodwater can sweep someone off their feet.
  • Between 2004 and 2013, an average of 75 people have died from flash floods in the United States per year.
  • Nearly all who perished during flash floods tried to outrun the waters rather than going to a higher area.
  • Two thirds of the deaths claimed by flash floods occur in vehicles, when the drivers try to pass through the floodwater.
  • Flash floods can cause extensive structural damage: 12” of floodwater on a 2,000 square foot building can cause $50,000 worth of damage or more.
  • Flash flood warnings are issued by the National Weather Service when a flash flood is imminent.

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It’s Tax Season. It’s Also IRS Phone Scam Season.

Prepare Yourself for IRS Phone Scams

Your phone rings. When you check, the caller ID shows it’s the IRS calling. (Three letters that can give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.) But you think to yourself: I don’t believe I owe any taxes. And I haven’t even submitted this year’s return. Why are they calling me? But it says it’s the IRS, so it must be them… right?

WRONG.

For a number of years scammers have been calling people across the country, spoofing the caller ID, claiming to be IRS officials, and demanding immediate payment of fines or back taxes. Their goal is to trick you into giving them personal information and/or get you to send cash.

So the REAL IRS has assembled a number of tips to help you understand what the criminals are doing and how to avoid becoming a victim of one of their scams:

  • Scammers try to scare you. Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully you into paying a bogus tax bill, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may even threaten to arrest, deport, or revoke your license if they don’t get the money. (If they don’t get through to you, they may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via phishing email.)
  • Scams use caller ID spoofing. Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use your name, address and other personal information (even your Social Security Number) to make the call sound official.
  • Cons try new tricks all the time. Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell you to mail a receipt for the payment you make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. These scams often use official-looking IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send you. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.
  • Scams cost victims over $23 million. You probably think “I’ve heard this before; they won’t fool me.” But the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts between October 2013 and November 2015. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam. The crooks get more sophisticated every year. The communications look and sound more real all the time too. And we’ll bet that a certain number of those 4,550 victims thought they wouldn’t be scammed either.

So to protect yourself, remember the following:

  • The IRS will NOT call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  • The IRS will NOT demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • The IRS will NOT require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
  • The IRS will NOT ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • The IRS will NOT threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.

Phone scams first tried to sting older people, new immigrants to the U.S. and those who speak English as a second language. But it has become such a profitable enterprise, the crooks now try to swindle just about anyone. And they’ve ripped-off people in every state in the nation. Stay alert. Don’t let the next victim be you!


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Have New Jewelry in the House? Protect it!

The Holiday’s may be over and Valentine’s Day is approaching, and while it may be cold outside love is still in the air. Well, love and a few other things perhaps, such as new jewelry.

It’s exciting to receive jewelry from a loved one – or to give it as a gift. Not to mention it’s romantic. But if you’re lucky enough to have some new jewelry in your home, you should take a few minutes to think about something you probably don’t find exciting or romantic: Insurance.

Don’t know where to turn? Don’t worry. We think it is exciting to help our customers protect what’s most important to them – so we’re ready to help and can answer all of your questions.

Things to consider when insuring jewelry:

  • The first thing to consider is that you may need to purchase additional coverage. Your homeowners policy covers valuable items such as jewelry but only up to set amounts as stated in the policy. If the cost of replacing your jewelry exceeds that limit, you will want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage. You can simply check your policy or give us a call.
  • You might want to reconsider your deductible amounts. As always, this impacts your policy premium. It’s a good idea to take a look at your deductibles whenever you make a change to your policy.
  • Do you need an appraisal? You may need to have an independent appraisal if the insurance company requires it or if you don’t know the value of your jewelry. Each item should be listed with a description and value on paper.
  • What kind of coverage is offered? You’ll want to determine if items are covered no matter where they are, like here at home, or on an international trip, and if the policy offers full replacement cost. You also should ask if you will be required to replace your jewelry if lost or stolen, or if you can simply keep the cash settlement.
  • Pictures can be helpful. Lost or stolen pieces of jewelry sometimes can be recreated if the jeweler has a good photograph to work from.
  • Should I go with a company that specializes in jewelry insurance? There are companies that specialize in jewelry insurance. Whether you choose one of these, or a company that we represent, you’ll want to know they are reputable and stable.
  • Is the value of your jewelry mainly sentimental? Is an item irreplaceable? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” you might consider foregoing insurance. But please, talk to us at before making that decision. That’s what we’re here for.
  • Of course, it’s important to store your jewelry securely when it’s not in use; a safe in your home or a safe-deposit box is best. We want your jewelry to be replaced if it’s lost or stolen, but we’d rather your sentimental and valuable pieces stay with you and your family for years to come.

    Here’s hoping your special days are full of fun and romance. And if there’s no jewelry involved, well, there’s always next year!


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    Personal Umbrella – The Ultimate Armor for Today’s World

    Image

    A personal umbrella policy is sometimes misunderstood. That’s unfortunate because the personal umbrella is an insurance “best buy”. It is inexpensive and does its job well. Let’s take a look at just what this policy does, determine if you need one, and decide if it’s worth it to purchase a policy for yourself. We’ll look at factors that set the cost of a personal umbrella. And finally, give you a few tips to keep in mind when personal umbrella shopping.

    What is a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy?

    The personal umbrella is a form of liability insurance. A great deal of confusion is eliminated if the word “liability” is inserted between the words “personal” and “umbrella”. That means it protects you from bodily injury and property damage for which you are legally liable.

    I will use the term personal umbrella. But just remember it is a form of liability insurance. Some consumers believe it is a catch all policy that insures property. Not so!

    A personal umbrella “floats” over your other liability policies. For example, let’s suppose your automobile insurance limits are $300,000 per person/ $300,000 per accident /$300,000 property damage. If you invest in $1,000,000 personal umbrella policy you will have increased your auto liability protection by $1,000,000. So now you have auto liability protection of $1,300,000.

    A key benefit is it gives you an extra layer of protection over all your policies with liability coverage. Your homeowners, renters, auto, boats, motorcycles, second home, etc. will now have an extra layer of suit protection. That is why it is called an “umbrella” policy.

    The most common personal umbrella limit is $1,000,000. However, more families are deciding that a $1,000,000 limit is not enough protection in today’s litigious society. So consumers are buying personal umbrella policies with higher limits. Limits up to $10,000,000 are available.

    Do I need an umbrella policy?

    When I hear that question from clients, my answer is, “Probably”. You can determine if you need an umbrella policy by answering three questions:

    • Do you earn a pay check?
    • Do you own anything?
    • Do you want to keep what you own and your full pay check?

    These questions may sound a bit silly, but I am being very frank. You see, when an attorney is seeking damages, he will take what he can get for his client. That means your personal assets and your future earnings are on the line when you are sued. If you have no assets, once an attorney gets a judgment, he will use a garnishment to get to your future earnings.

    So the question you must decide is can I get rid of this risk? A personal umbrella is a giant step in eliminating the risk of attorney fees and a large judgment against you.

    Is an umbrella policy worth it?

    Your appetite for risk will determine if a personal umbrella is worth the peace of mind it provides. Let’s explore this question a little more. A journalist, who claims to be a financial planner, recently wrote that since only a small percentage of lawsuits were over a $1,000,000 dollars she did not think it was necessary for the average family to consider an umbrella liability policy.

    It is true that most lawsuits are under $1,000,000. However, the number of large lawsuits is growing. And if you happen to be the unfortunate one to be sued for a large amount, the financial and emotional impact is devastating. Think of it this way… the number of policemen shot on duty is small, but does that justify a policeman not wearing their bullet proof vest?

    The other issue is attorney fees. Recently, a client suffered a judgment of $500,000 but the attorney’s fees were $300,000. Excessive? Not when you consider the client was sued for $3,000,000 and the defense was complicated and involved numerous specialists. A personal umbrella will pay the judgment and attorney costs.

    Most professional financial planners advise you to pass the risk of a large personal loss to an insurance company. So they recommend purchasing a personal liability umbrella. They say it’s worth it.

    The personal liability umbrella is a good risk management technique for most of my clients. Personal umbrellas provide high limits of protection for an inexpensive price.

    How much does it cost?

    Cost is an important consideration when shopping for a personal umbrella policy. The price varies depending on the exposure to risks. For example, if you have a home with a pool, two cars, young drivers, a boat, a motorcycle and vacation home, you have more exposure to lawsuits than a family with a home, and two cars. So the family with more toys will pay more for a personal liability umbrella policy. It is really that simple.

    Prices for a personal umbrella insurance policy are amazingly affordable. The family with two cars and a home will likely pay between $200 and $300 a year for a $1,000,000 policy.

    What else do I need to know when shopping for a Personal Liability Umbrella policy?

    • You cannot pick and choose what exposures you want covered. For example, if you own a boat you cannot exclude it from coverage under a personal umbrella policy.
    • The company issuing your personal umbrella policy may require you to raise the underlying liability limits on some of your policies, if those limits are too low.
    • Some companies will write a personal umbrella policy even if they do not write your underlying policies.
    • Most personal umbrellas do not cover business risks of any kind.

    The personal umbrella policy is widely available and is an inexpensive risk management tool. It allows you to manage your risk in our changing world.


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    Protect Your Family From the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

    With winter weather affecting us all in our attempts to remain comfortable, it’s also the time of year which presents the greatest risk for an invisible threat. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, invisible gas that results when certain fuels do not burn completely. And it can be deadly. That’s why it’s important to know how to prevent it, detect it, and protect yourself and your family from its effects. In the home, carbon monoxide is most commonly formed by flames and heaters, as well as vehicles or generators that are running in an attached garage. As temperatures drop and more people are cranking the heat and hovering over the stove inside and warming up the car’s engine before hitting the road, it’s especially critical to ensure your family’s safety against this lethal gas. Since carbon monoxide cannot be detected without a carbon monoxide detection device, it is essential to install and maintain one or more detectors in your home.

    Detector Tips For Safeguarding Your Household

    • The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. A detector should be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door, and there should be one near or over any attached garage.
    • Each detector should be replaced every five to six years.
    • Battery-only carbon monoxide detectors tend to go through batteries more frequently than expected. Plug-in detectors with a battery backup (for use if power is interrupted) provide less battery-changing maintenance.
    • Thoroughly read the installation manual that comes with the individual detector you purchase. Manufacturers’ recommendations differ to a certain degree based on research conducted with detectors for specific brands.
    • Remember that carbon monoxide detectors do not serve as smoke detectors and vice versa. You can, however, purchase a dual smoke/carbon monoxide detector that can perform both functions.
    • Do not install carbon monoxide detectors next to fuel-burning appliances, as these appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon startup.

    In Case Of Exposure We hope you never have to use the following tips from the Mayo Clinic, but please read on for good information that could help save a life. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide, check for the following symptoms:

    • Dull Headache
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Shortness of Breath
    • confusion
    • Loss of Consciousness

    If any of the symptoms exist, move the individual into fresh air and seek emergency medical care immediately.


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    Halloween Safety Tips

    Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

    All Dressed Up:

    • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
    • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
    • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
    • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
    • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
    • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
    • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
    • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

    Carving a Niche:

    • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
    • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
    • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

    Home Safe Home:

    • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
    • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
    • Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
    • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

    On the Trick-Or-Treat Trail:

    • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
    • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
    • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
    • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
    • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
    • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

    Healthy Halloween:

    • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
    • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
    • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
    • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

    Source: aap.org


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    Stay Safe On That Hayride

    7 Tips for Fall Fun Safety

    There’s perhaps nothing that more embodies fall than heading down to the local pumpkin patch. You can pick out the perfect gourd for carving, purchase apple cider and donuts, wander through a corn maze and hop on a hayride. Seriously, who doesn’t enjoy riding through a farm or orchard while sitting on a bale of hay? Surprisingly, when searching for hayride safety tips online, few articles are found. The best resource seems to be from the Haunted House Association, is written for operators, but we can easily apply their recommendations as safety tips for riders.

    • Follow the posted rules. A reputable business operating a hayride should have posted rules, probably near the waiting area or cash register. Read them, and take some time to explain them to your children.
    • Listen to ticket takers, attendants and operators. These people not only know the rules of the hayride, but are also probably reciting them. They will correct anyone they see doing something wrong.
    • Do not stand on the ride. Once the ride starts, don’t stand, plain and simple. Hay can be slippery, and a moving wagon is not a stable surface to stand on.
    • Do not throw the straw. This seems kind of innocent yet can be another unsafe behavior as it can lead to others throwing hay and turn into a hay throwing bonanza.
    • Do not use cameras or other devices that will distract you. You may really want to take a quick photo of your family on the hayride to post on Facebook. Please don’t. While the ride is moving, it’s important to keep your focus on the ride.
    • Hold on. It’s one simple way to help ensure you won’t fall off the ride.
    • Keep arms and legs inside the wagon. You don’t know the trail the wagon will travel. There might be some tight spaces. Keeping your arms and legs inside the wagon will help make sure nothing hits you.

    It’s a lot of common sense, but it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and forget the rules. And hayrides are a lot of fun – more so when everyone is safe. Please take care and enjoy all that fall has to offer safely.


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    Fall Newsletter

     

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    Check out our latest Newsletter!

     


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    Personal Umbrella – The Ultimate Best Buy

    Image

    A personal umbrella policy is sometimes misunderstood.. That’s unfortunate because the personal umbrella is an insurance “best buy”. It is inexpensive and does its job well. Let’s take a look at just what this policy does, determine if you need one, and decide if it’s worth it to purchase a policy for yourself. We’ll look at factors that set the cost of a personal umbrella. And finally, give you a few tips to keep in mind when personal umbrella shopping.

    What is a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy?

    The personal umbrella is a form of liability insurance. A great deal of confusion is eliminated if the word “liability” is inserted between the words “personal” and “umbrella”. That means it protects you from bodily injury and property damage for which you are legally liable.

    I will use the term personal umbrella. But just remember it is a form of liability insurance. Some consumers believe it is a catch all policy that insures property. Not so!

    A personal umbrella “floats” over your other liability policies. For example, let’s suppose your automobile insurance limits are $300,000 per person/ $300,000 per accident /$300,000 property damage. If you invest in $1,000,000 personal umbrella policy you will have increased your auto liability protection by $1,000,000. So now you have auto liability protection of $1,300,000.

    A key benefit is it gives you an extra layer of protection over all your policies with liability coverage. Your homeowners, renters, auto, boats, motorcycles, second home, etc. will now have an extra layer of suit protection. That is why it is called an “umbrella” policy.

    The most common personal umbrella limit is $1,000,000. However, more families are deciding that a $1,000,000 limit is not enough protection in today’s litigious society. So consumers are buying personal umbrella policies with higher limits. Limits up to $10,000,000 are available.

    Do I need an umbrella policy?

    When I hear that question from clients, my answer is, “Probably”. You can determine if you need an umbrella policy by answering three questions:

    • Do you earn a pay check?
    • Do you own anything?
    • Do you want to keep what you own and your full pay check?

    These questions may sound a bit silly, but I am being very frank. You see, when an attorney is seeking damages, he will take what he can get for his client. That means your personal assets and your future earnings are on the line when you are sued. If you have no assets, once an attorney gets a judgment, he will use a garnishment to get to your future earnings.

    So the question you must decide is can I get rid of this risk? A personal umbrella is a giant step in eliminating the risk of attorney fees and a large judgment against you.

    Is an umbrella policy worth it?

    Your appetite for risk will determine if a personal umbrella is worth the peace of mind it provides. Let’s explore this question a little more. A journalist, who claims to be a financial planner, recently wrote that since only a small percentage of lawsuits were over a $1,000,000 dollars she did not think it was necessary for the average family to consider an umbrella liability policy.

    It is true that most lawsuits are under $1,000,000. However, the number of large lawsuits is growing. And if you happen to be the unfortunate one to be sued for a large amount, the financial and emotional impact is devastating. Think of it this way… the number of policemen shot on duty is small, but does that justify a policeman not wearing their bullet proof vest?

    The other issue is attorney fees. Consider for a moment suffering a judgment of $500,000 with attorney’s fees of $300,000. Excessive? Not if you consider it is wholey possible to be sued for $3,000,000 and have a complicated defense involving numerous specialists. A personal umbrella would pay the judgment and attorney costs.

    Most professional financial planners advise you to pass the risk of a large personal loss to an insurance company. So they recommend purchasing a personal liability umbrella. They say it’s worth it.

    The personal liability umbrella is a good risk management technique for most people. Personal umbrellas provide high limits of protection for an inexpensive price.

    How much does it cost?

    Cost is an important consideration when shopping for a personal umbrella policy. The price varies depending on the exposure to risks. For example, if you have a home with a pool, two cars, young drivers, a boat, a motorcycle and vacation home, you have more exposure to lawsuits than a family with a home, and two cars. So the family with more toys will pay more for a personal liability umbrella policy. It is really that simple.

    Prices for a personal umbrella insurance policy start at $125 annually. The family with two cars and a home will likely pay between $180 and $250 a year for a $1,000,000 policy.

    What else do I need to know when shopping for a Personal Liability Umbrella policy?

    • You cannot pick and choose what exposures you want covered. For example, if you own a boat you cannot exclude it from coverage under a personal umbrella policy.
    • The company issuing your personal umbrella policy may require you to raise the underlying liability limits on some of your policies, if those limits are too low.
    • Some companies will write a personal umbrella policy even if they do not write your underlying policies.
    • Most personal umbrellas do not cover business risks of any kind.

    The personal umbrella policy is widely available and is an inexpensive risk management tool. It allows you to manage your risk in our changing world.


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    Pros and Cons of Higher Deductibles for Auto, Home and Business Insurance

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    As insurance costs rise, more individuals, families and businesses are looking at using higher deductibles. Choosing the right insurance deductible is important and it does take some thought.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to increasing your deductibles. So here are some things to consider before you make a decision to increase your personal or business insurance deductibles. First, let’s take a look at individual and family considerations and then we’ll look at business considerations.

    The idea behind insurance is to save you from a catastrophic loss from which you cannot recover. This sounds reasonable but it does not mean everyone should use high deductibles. For example, if you are elderly and living on a fixed income, high deductibles are not likely a good choice. Especially, if your savings are limited. This may be true for younger insurance buyers, too. If you have no savings or the ability to borrow, you should consider a low to moderate deductible.

    In addition, you must consider the worst case scenario before choosing a deductible. When a catastrophic event occurs, it may involve your home and your auto. Can you stand the financial impact of two large deductibles for the same occurrence? If not look for a policy that only charges one deductible if both your home and auto are involved in the same claim.

    If your circumstances allow you to consider a larger deductible, here are the advantages and disadvantages:

    Advantages

    • Higher deductibles reduce your insurance costs.
    • Allows you to self insure minor claims.
    • Improves your cash flow.
    • Removes the temptation to turn in small claims, which can result in larger premiums and can lead to policy cancellation.

    Disadvantages

    • You may not have the financial ability to pay for a larger loss out of your pocket.
    • Sometimes claims take a while to settle, so you may be forced to fund more than just the deductible on a temporary basis if your claim requires immediate repairs.

    Buying Tip: Most insurance companies have a “sweet spot” regarding deductibles. You may find that a $2,500 deductible has less impact on your premium than a $1,000 deductible. Request pricing using several deductible options, that way you can determine the best value.

    Business Insurance and Deductibles

    A business may have more deductible options than are available to personal insurance buyers. A business may also have more flexibility in using large deductibles. Evaluating how to use large deductibles to manage business insurance premiums takes some planning. Here are the advantages and disadvantages for the business use of high deductibles.

    Advantages

    • Allows you to self insure and manage smaller nuisance claims.
    • Large deductibles allow flexibility. If your business buys several types of insurance policies, you can use large deductibles on just the policies and exposures you choose.
    • If you use very large deductibles, you get the advantages of self insurance without the regulatory burden many states apply to business self insurance programs.
    • You can use large deductibles to weather the dramatic swings in business insurance pricing which occur on a cyclic basis.
    • You can use large deductibles to control premiums after a large loss. If your business suffers a large claim and your premiums for that line of exposure have risen dramatically, use a large deductible to control or reduce the increase in premium.
    • Large deductibles can increase your cash flow by lowering your insurance premiums.

    Disadvantages

    • You can’t expense off a premium you did not pay, but you may be able to deduct your share of a large loss from your taxes.
    • A large loss when your cash flow is slim can use up your reserves or force you to borrow.
    • Some large commercial claims can take so long to settle that the claim process can impact your cash flow. I suggest being very cautious about putting large deductibles on liability lines of insurance for this reason.
    • Beware that some contractual relationships, such as leases and construction contracts, may limit the size of the deductible you are allowed to use on insurance related to the contract.

    Buyer Tip: You may have a hidden deductible about which you are unaware. It is called co-insurance. Many commercial insurance policies contain a co-insurance clause. Co-insurance requires that you insure to value as agreed to in the policy. If you do not, your claim settlement will be substantially less than you expected after the co-insurance penalty and deductible are applied.

    Large deductibles do have advantages…but not for everyone. You must evaluate your situation to determine the advantages right for your family or business.


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    Do you know your Stuff? Home Inventory Time!

    I am in the process of decluttering my home and have found many things I forgot I owned.  Has that ever happened to you?  Can you remember everything you own?  Finding my forgotten stuff made me want to revisit the topic of Home Inventories.

    The fact is most people own more things than they realize. It is easy to remember big thing — couch, Giant TV and computers.  But what about Great Aunt Eunice’s silver packed away in the closete?  Or every pair of shoes and each and every handbag?  Some of us have a lot of shoes!  Over 70 pairs of shoes — not to call out any one person.  Like me.   All of it is regarded as personal property for insurance purposes.  And if your home is destroyed by fire or some other disaster, having a list of your possessions makes filing a claim easier — and helps you put your life back together.

    How do you complete a home inventory? What’s the best (easiest) way?

    Grab your camera (or phone) and start moving.  Walk around your house and record in each room.  Open those silverware drawers, too.  There are free apps for your phone that will make lists as you speak into your phone!

    Here are a few tips for completing and storing your inventory:

    • Add brand names and descriptions where you can, especially on large-ticket items. Serial numbers are helpful to note.
    • Keep any receipts you have with the list to make the claims process easier.
    • Store your photo inventory offsite so you won’t lose it if your house is damaged.
    • Update your personal property records when you purchase new furnishings and valuables.
    • Get updated appraisals on your higher value jewelry.  The cost of gold has gone up in the last ten years — so the value of your jewelry may have increased.

    Now what?

    Look at your inventory and compare to your “contents/personal property” coverage on your insurance.  Does the value of what is on your inventory list match your coverage?  It should!  Also, make sure your have replacement cost coverage on your stuff.

    Finally, remember your homeowners policy covers valuable items such as jewelry, furs, art and antiques, only up to set dollar amounts. If you have a fabulous ring or some wonderful silver — talk to your agent.  You may need to get additional coverage on your Valuable Items.

    The Insurance Information Institute has a FREE online tool that can help you create your inventory. Just visit www.knowyourstuff.org for more details.

    Remember — if you have a question — ask your Independent Insurance Agent!

    08/25/2016

    Martine


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    Auto Insurance State Minimums Probably Aren’t Near Enough

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    There are a wide variety of silly and somewhat funny things we can do from time to time, like telling people that dihydrogen monoxide is coming out of the sink (dihydrogen monoxide is the chemical name for water), but one thing you should avoid falling for as a consumer is being told that carrying only the state mandated minimum coverage is adequate auto insurance protection.

    In an auto accident, drivers can be legally liable for their passengers’ injuries. While most states have mandatory minimum limits of liability required of all drivers, many of these requirements may not be sufficient in covering injuries sustained in an auto accident. In some states, this required amount may be as little as $25,000 per person and $50,000 total for all injuries in an accident – which may not be enough when you consider the severity of certain injuries and the number of passengers that could be involved. Remember that this limit also applies for all injuries caused by an accident for which you are liable, including passengers of other cars.

    So what are the right limits? Like many answers… It depends. Everyone’s situation is different, but as an independent insurance agency we can help you understand what issues you should consider when evaluating what liability limits to purchase.

    For Instance:

    1. How much would it take to compensate a victim? If you were to cause a severe, life altering injury to someone, consider how much money it would cost over time to compensate them. It’s likely higher than $25,000.
    2. What assets do you have and what is your net worth? Think about your home, your car, savings, investments, etc. Having adequate insurance to protect these assets is something you should consider.

    Naturally you might wonder if increasing your liability limits will increase the price of your insurance premiums. While you’ll pay more for the additional coverage, it’s likely that it won’t be very much to raise your liability limits, and in the long run it offers you more financial protection. You may be able to offset some of those expenses by raising your deductible or through other discounts. This is where we can help identify the different options available to you.

    There is no definitive rule of thumb for making sure you have “enough” insurance but it’s important that you feel comfortable with the amount you have, because nobody likes to be made a fool of when it comes to an insurance claim.

    Source: trustedchoice.com


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    Are Car Insurance Ads Mind-Boggling to You?

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    Well, do not feel bad, you are not alone. Car Insurance ads are mind-boggling. Most of them are based on price, then price, and lastly, price. Frankly, it is not that simple.

    I am sure you have heard the phrase, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”. Gertrude Stein wrote this in her 1913 poem from called Sacred Emily. When it comes to insurance the phrase should read, “A rose is not a rose is not a rose”. Not all insurance is created equal. You have also probably heard the phrase, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. This is true of auto insurance.

    Most people want a good deal. When you hear the TV shout, “You could save up to 40% on your car insurance”, it gets your attention. Most people do not hear the word “could”.

    We usually hear what we want to hear. We do not like paying for insurance but we have to have it by law. We have to have it to protect ourselves. So why not pay the lowest possible premium?

    What is interesting is that experienced independent insurance agents “can also save you up to 40% on car insurance”. They can evaluate and guide you into building a policy that best protects you while still saving you money. Everyone’s protection needs are not the same. So purchasing a cookie cutter policy is probably not going to provide the protection you need. The worst time to find this out is after a claim.

    Let’s look at an example. John Q. Driver needs auto insurance. He drives a company car so he only needs insurance on his personally owned car. So he contacts BuyCheapInsurance.com and gets a quote. Being the smart shopper John is, he gets other quotes to compare. Therefore, he contacts his agent and directs him to quote with the same benefits. BuyCheapInsurance’s premium is $85 per month. The independent agent’s quote is $100 per month. Sounds like BuyCheapInsurance.com did just what they said they would do and saved him 15%, right?

    A month later, John has an accident in his company vehicle. The company insures that vehicle, so no problem right? Wrong. You see, the insurance that his employer provides on the company car only protects the owner of the vehicle, not John. For example, the party that John injures hires an attorney and sues his company and John. After all, John was driving right? His company’s insurance repairs the other party’s car, repairs the company car, and pays damages to the injured party. It does not protect John personally; however, the plaintiff’s law firm wants more money for their client. Who is left to sue? That’s right, John. John bought insurance on his personal car. However, John needed an endorsement called “extended non-owned” on his personal auto insurance policy. This endorsement covers John personally for the non-owned company car he was driving.

    How was John to know he needed this endorsement? That is where an experienced independent agent may have helped. If he had called the agent and taken advantage of their expertise, he would have been advised he needed that endorsement which probably would have cost him an additional $2 per month. Does John feel like he got a good deal with BuyCheapInsurance.com now?

    In addition, if John would have spent a little time speaking with the professional agent and allowed the professional independent agent to evaluate all his personal insurance needs, his auto premium would have likely been less than the $85 per month he received from BuyCheapInsurance.com. By providing an insurance package for his home and auto, the agent could have applied all the discounts John was unaware of, and received a lower premium on both his home and auto.

    The moral of the story is what John already knew. “A rose is not a rose is not a rose”, and “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. One more rule of thumb to consider when looking for personal insurance, “The more questions an agent asks, the better”. Why? They are looking for ways to earn you discounts while looking for potential gaps in coverage you do not even know exist. So take advantage of an experienced agent’s knowledge and expertise. It will likely save you premium dollars with no gaps in coverage.


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    Lightning Safety – do you really know what to do?

    Given last nights dramatic light show, I thought I would take a minute to review lightning safety. Strikes are most common during the summer thunderstorm season (we are here Nashville!), but they can happen at any time of the year. And, a lot of less-than-accurate ideas about lightning have found a place in the popular imagination over the years. Here’s a look at current knowledge.

    Indoor Safety

    • The safest place to be during a storm is typically indoors, but it is important to avoid anything that conducts electricity – metal, landline phones, appliances, wires, TV cables and plumbing.  Tip:  Do not take a bath while talking on a landline phone during a storm.
    • Automobiles can be safe havens thanks to the metal frame that diverts the electrical charge. Don’t lean on the doors during a storm, though.

    Outdoor Safety

    • Don’t look for shelter under a tree. If lightning hits its branches, a “ground charge” could spread out in all directions.
    • Don’t lie flat on the ground. This makes you even more vulnerable to a ground charge.  You will also get very dirty if you are on the ground.
    • Don’t crouch down. Once recommended, the “lightning crouch” has been discredited – it’s not likely any safer than standing if you’re outside during a storm. Instead, get inside or into a car.

    Where Strikes Will Happen

    • Contrary to folk wisdom, lightning does indeed strike twice in the same place. The best example is New York City’s Empire State Building. It was once a lightning laboratory due to being struck scores of times every year.
    • Lightning doesn’t only strike the tallest objects. Although tall, pointy, isolated objects are often hit, lightning has been known to hit the ground instead of buildings and parking lots instead of telephone poles.
    • The presence of metal doesn’t affect where and if lightning will strike. Neither mountains nor trees contain metal, and both get struck. However, metal is a conductor of electricity, so avoid it during any storm.
    • Strikes don’t just happen in areas where rain is falling. Even if you’re miles away from a thunderstorm, lightning can still occur.

    Finally, it’s important to remember that you won’t be electrocuted if you touch someone who has been struck – the human body doesn’t store electricity. So, by all means, give a lightning strike victim first aid. You might just save a life.

    Stay safe this Summer!

    Martine

    06/24/2016

     

     

     


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    Condo or Condon’t Insurance

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    You are living the condo life.  It seems like everything is taken care of for you—building maintenance, roof repairs, landscaping, insurance, etc.  It’s time to relax  and enjoy stress free living because everything is covered, right?

    Not really. The insurance policy provided by the condo association covers the building structure and common areas, but what about potential structural damage to your unit and covering your belongings?  Without a personal condo insurance policy, you could be left high and dry if your unit floods, is damaged in a fire, etc.

    Most condos need two insurance policies.

    Master Policy: Generally provided by your condo association, this policy covers the physical structure of the building, including basement, roof, walls, elevators, lobbies, etc.  Coverage usually includes both physical damage and liability. Get a copy of the policy so you know what’s covered.

    Personal Condo Policy: This will cover additional structural damage to your unit, including cabinets, appliances, personal belongings, and more.  This also covers living expenses if you are not able to live in the condo due to a loss — like a fire.  In Tennessee, this is very important since a water leak two floors above your unit can make it to your condo and your insurance may be the policy that will pay for the repairs.  I speak from experience on this topic!

    Other coverage to consider:

    Umbrella Policy: If someone were to trip and fall inside or near your condo, they could sue both you and the condo association.  Umbrella provides additional layers of liability protection and can protect against lawsuits that target both your current and future earnings.

    Carefully read your Condo Association Master Deed to determine what coverage you need for your condo.

    Martine.


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    So your car hit a pole

    Telephone pole

    So you and your car hit a Utility Pole.  Now what?  Let’s assume you are physically fine after the meeting with a pole.  Your car is damaged — this is why you have insurance.  If you have worked with your agent and have proper coverage in place – your car will be repaired.  Great news!

    What about that utility pole?  Who will pay to repair that pole?  Does it matter?  All good questions and yes it does matter.  Three to six months after your tango with the pole, you or your insurance company will get a bill from the government entity that maintains that particular pole (or guard rail or bridge — any public property) with a pretty substantial collar amount attached.  Believe it or not an average utility pole can cost $20,000.  Really!  Think about what goes into replacing that pole.

    • A new pole is brought to the site.
    • Utility crews come, too.  It might be more than one crew or agency.
    • The crews bring big specialized trucks and equipment.
    • All of the equipment and wires leading to the pole must be carefully removed and attached to the new pole.
    • Then the old pole is removed.

    This is very involved.

    Why is this all important?  This is why you have insurance, isn’t it?  Yes, this is why you have insurance.  But — do you have enough coverage?  If you have the minimum required by most states — your insurance for the property damage of the pole may not cover the entire bill.  Then the government agency that sent that bill will look to you for the rest of the money.

    Moral of this story?  Talk to your Auto Insurance Agent and make sure you have adequate coverage to pay for damage to another car or other property.

    Martine

    9/4/15


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    We need your Help — Thistle Farms!

     

    We are asking for your help!

    Your vote could mean $10,500 for THISTLE FARMS from Safeco Insurance!

       safeco.com/make-more-happen   —  Vote Early – Vote Often!

     Just one click from you could help THISTLE FARMS win up to $10,500 from Safeco Insurance. That’s right — just one click.

    The Manning Agency, LLC has been selected for a Safeco Insurance® Make More Happen Award because of our volunteer service with THISTLE FARMS. The award comes with a $3,000 donation from Safeco Insurance for THISTLE FARMS, and entry in the Safeco Insurance Make More Happen Contest.

    Your votes could help THISTLE FARMS receive even more money from Safeco! Here’s how it works:

    • The public gets to vote for their favorite agency-and-Thistle Farms team featured in the Make More Happen Contest.
    • The three agency  teams with the most votes will win additional donations from Safeco for each Thistle Farms. First place gets $10,000, second place $5,000, and third place $3,000.
    • If the total votes made during the contest reach or exceed the vote goal, all charities featured in the contest will receive an additional $500 donation from Safeco Insurance.

    At The Manning Agency, LLC, we believe strongly in supporting our community — and dedicated organizations like THISTLE FARMS help make Nashville a better place for all of us. We’re particularly proud that we have been recognized with the Safeco Insurance Make More Happen Award because of our ongoing involvement with Thistle Farms.

    Please help make more happen for our community by voting today:

    safeco.com/make-more-happen

    Of course, all of the Make More Happen Award winners deserve to be celebrated, so when you visit the contest site, take a little time to read about the great work they all do and cheer on those that inspire you. Be sure to leave a “cheer” or a positive comment for THISTLE FARMS or The Manning Agency, LLC! We hope you’ll come away inspired to make a difference.

    You can start by getting involved with THISTLE FARMS . Just go to THISTLE FARMS WEBSITE to find out how.  www.thistlefarms.org

    Voting in the Make More Happen Contest begins 10 a.m. PDT July 27 and closes 10 a.m. PDT Aug. 17. You can vote once every 24 hours throughout the contest. Cheer as often as you like!

    Thank you for your help!


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    Auto Insurance: Loan your keys — Loan your policy

    Can I loan my car to …

    That is a question we get every week.  The answer is Yes – you can loan your car to anyone.  Remember, you are also loaning your policy.  Insurance follows the car not the individual driver.

    So if you loan your car to cousin Buddy and he has a wreck, your insurance is the policy that pays.  Not cousin Buddy’s.  So the true question is — Are you comfortable enough with Buddy to insure his driving habits?  Maybe not.

    If you have children in college, you may want to have a conversation about loaning their car.  It is not a good idea.  Accidents caused by drivers not in your family could impact your insurance rates in the future.

     

     

     


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    Trampoline for the Holiday – Insurance no no

    Christmas is fast approaching.

    • What kind gift would be fun for the whole family?
    • Provide hours of fun for the kids?
    • Encourage exercise?

    A Trampoline!!! Not…

    Many families purchase trampolines for the reasons mentioned above.  Unfortunately, the fun toy is associated with up to 92,000 emergency room visits a year.  The Academy of Pediatrics would disagree with the purchase decision, too.  The Academy has recommended that parents never purchase trampolines for their home and never allow their children to jump on trampolines at someone else’s house.

    But my kids really want a trampoline.

    Well — consider your home insurance.  Because of the high number of trampoline injuries, insurance companies have taken a hard look at trampoline ownership.  Some companies do not want to insure a home with a trampoline while others will excluded coverage for the trampoline and any injuries that happy because of the bouncing toy.  This could leave you exposed to legal action if someone is injured on your trampoline.

    But my kids will play in a safe and responsible manner

    __________________________________  That is my way of expressing silence in written form.  Sure they will.  Even if they are responsible — are all of their friends? What about your neighbors?

    But I will put a net around the trampoline

    That’s nice.  according to BrainandSpinalCord.org many injuries are the result of jumpers colliding with one another.

    If you and your children want to play and exercise on a trampoline — there are many clubs that have safe (padded) facilities to use.   Side benefit – you do not have to mow around (and under) a trampoline in the summer.  Choose a different gift for the family and have a safe Holiday Season!

    Martine

    12/18/14


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    #GivingTuesday — Many opportunities to give

    Nashville is a very giving city year round, but during the holidays we tend to kick it up a notch. We are filled with holiday cheer and want to do a little more to help others.  Some of us participate in Food Drives, Coat Drives or cook meals for the homeless as part of Room In The Inn.  Others donate money online and in person.  Many give anonymously.

    Unfortunately, some of the charities out there don’t help people as fully as they claim – or possibly not at all. As if that weren’t enough, bogus organizations take advantage of people’s goodwill by stealing credit card and bank account information, along with identities, from people who think they’re donating to a legitimate cause.

    It doesn’t mean you can’t be generous this holiday season. It just means a little extra caution is in order. Here are four tips for making smart and safe holiday donations:

    1. Verify the charity is legitimate.
      Sure, the name sounds official and you thinkyour friend mentioned what good work they do. Or does the charity simply have a name similar to another well-known organization? Before you donate, do a little digging.Enter the charity’s name at Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator or GuideStar, and, if you feel comfortable after reading about the organization, go ahead and donate. If not, look for another charity that supports the same cause. A good rule of thumb is to look for organizations with 501(c)(3) status.
    2. Steer clear of pop-up charities.
      A pop-up charity is anything but charitable. These groups spring into action at opportune times, namely when people are feeling generous, such as during the holidays or following a disaster. The so-called charity is actually a scam designed to steal money, credit card numbers, bank account information and identities from unsuspecting donors. If, during your research, you come across an organization that seemingly appeared out of the blue, do not share any of your personal information with it.
    3. Be careful with digital donations.
      Now that you’ve researched the charity, how do you plan to donate? If it’s online, be sure to type in the website address correctly. Fraudsters put up realistic-looking sites using a URL similar to a well-known charity’s to trick people into donating. But, they’re not donating at all. They’re lining the pockets of thieves.Once you know you’re on the correct site, check that it’s secure before submitting any credit card information. Simply look for “https” instead of “http” at the beginning of the URL.Likewise, that email you received from a prominent charity may be a fake. Instead of clicking on a link in an email to donate, go directly to your Web browser and type in the address yourself.
    4. Avoid phone and door-to-door solicitors.
      If people call or knock on your door out of the blue asking for a contribution to this or that organization, ask them for the charity’s website or mailing address instead of donating right then and there. Even if it’s a charity you’ve heard of, the operation may be a scam. It’s always safer for you to initiate the donation by visiting the charity’s website or mailing in a check. Plus, fundraising over the phone requires a middleman – that agent calling you – who must be paid, reducing the amount of your donation that goes to the charity.

    Don’t let the scammers stop you from giving — just do a little research.  With a little legwork to look into the legitimacy and practices of the charity, your donation will help others feel good too.

     

    Martine

    12/2/14

     


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    Let it snow! But be prepared.

    I admit it, as an insurance agent my view of winter is a little different. I don’t think of a warm fire and a hot toddy. To me winter storms mean traffic snarls, sheets of ice, and cars sliding around like hockey pucks. Cold temperatures can cause pipes to burst, trees to freeze and break and all kinds of other bad things. Heating your home with fireplaces and holiday lighting can increase the risk of fire. No!!

    A picture-perfect winter requires a few precautions

    Here are a few tips to help reduce weather-related hassles this winter.
    •Winter-proof your car with good snow tires or chains, new wiper blades, antifreeze, and emergency road supplies.
    •Keep your attic cool to help prevent ice dams. Insulate the attic floor and make sure it is well-ventilated.
    •Do not overload circuits with holiday decorations.

    When winter storms hit, be smart
    •If you do not have to drive, stay put. Do you really need that loaf of bread and gallon of milk? You have not had a gallon of milk in your house in six months — now you need it? If you must drive, make sure you’ve winterized your car and have a full tank of gas.
    •When the air is cold, keep bath and kitchen cabinet doors open so warm air can circulate around pipes. If pipes do freeze, let them thaw normally—they’ll be less likely to burst
    •And if the power is out, make sure you avoid leaving candles or fires burning unattended. If you use a portable generator, follow the instructions and do not use it indoors.

    After you have prepared for bad weather — relax and stay home. If you do have some sort of bad weather incident — call your Independent Insurance Agent with any questions.

    Stay Safe.

    Martine

    1/17/14 (re-publish from last year about this time!)


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    Don’t flirt with Disaster – Disaster Preparedness

    Hurricanes – Thunder Storms – Floods – Tornados!!!  So many ways for Mother Nature to remind you who’s the boss.

    In case of a disaster – are you prepared?  Emergency supplies?  A plan to evacuate your home?  What happens if your family members are not all together when a disaster hits?  Do you or any of your family members have special medical needs?  Where my parents lived a few years ago experienced a major Ice Storm. They were without power for a week. Some people were without power for a month.  While my parents had candles, portable radios, flash lights and canned food — they did not have a manual can opener.  They were somewhat prepared, but not completely.  It is easy to overlook important items if you do not sit down and plan.

    You may think you do not need a plan since you have never needed one before.  So you make a plan and never use it.  There is no harm in having an unused plan.  I hope you never  experience any type of disaster.  Still –Plan now!  Below are recommendations from the American Red Cross on what to do now — before a disaster happen.

    First

    • Meet with your family or household members.
    • Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
    • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
    • If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.

    Second — Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency

    • Choose two places to meet:

    • ̶ Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire

      ̶ Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate

    • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

    Third — Plan what to do if you must leave your home, neighborhood or city

    • Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.
    • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.
    • Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

    Finally, be sure to let your relatives know you are safe after a disaster.  Plan now.  Worry less, later.

    Martine

    9/18/14

     


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    Ridesharing and Insurance

    Have you taken advantage of a ridesharing service?  Uber and Lyft come to mind.  They are great services.  I love how easy it is to find a car.  And I frequently encourage people to take a cab or use Uber or Lyft if they are going to enjoy some adult beverages away from home.  But my love of ridesharing is on the customer side.

    As an insurance agent, I am not as enthusiastic.  Many rideshare drivers do not know that their auto insurance will not cover accidents and injuries that happen when driving others.  Most auto insurance policies have “livery exclusions” — so if you are driving someone for money — your insurance coverage may be lacking.  The major peer-to peer ridesharing services are working to address this issue as we speak — but we do not know the solutions at this time.

    My advice?  If you are driving as part of a rideshare service — call your agent!

    Martine

    6/24/14


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    It is OK to be a Driving Jerk- Safety Tip

    You may have noticed — traffic in Nashville is getting worse by the hour.  Traffic starts backing up in front of my house about 3:00 p.m.  More people trying to get home or go to the grocery store.  According to a recent article in the Nashville Ledger http://goo.gl/kxyb3q we will be welcoming 1 million new friends and neighbors in the next ten years. 

    The people of Nashville are know for our gracious ways and our friendly manner.  So why am I asking you to be a Driving Jerk?  For your own safety.

    Every month we get a phone call from a customer that has been in an Auto accident that started with someone being polite and friendly.  Here is the scenario.

    • It is rush hour traffic
    • Our customer wanted to turn left into the parking lot of the grocery store, liquor store, drug store etc.
    • Only two lanes of traffic stand in the way.   And maybe a turn lane or two.
    • Our customer patiently waits for an opportunity to turn.
    • A friendly driver in one of the oncoming lanes stops and gestures for our customer to go ahead and turn.
    • He does.

    BANG!!  A car in the other oncoming lane did not see this friendly exchange in the making and hits our customers car. 

    There are times our customer is in the oncoming lane — still involved in an accident.  You get the picture.  We all want to be nice.  In this case Be A Jerk!  Do not offer to let someone across and do not take the offer to cross.  Wait until traffic is clear or go to the next traffic light — it is not that far.

    Just a thought before rush hour!

    Martine

    5/15/14

     

     

     

     


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    Auto Insurance in 7.5 minutes – Really?

    It started with 15 minutes can save you 15% commercials.  Then commercials let you know 15 minutes is way too long to get auto insurance.  Really?

    If you have a car — you need Auto Insurance.  It is required by Tennessee law.  It is the responsible thing to do.  It also protects you.  Beyond the requirements — insurance is part of your life long financial plan.  Since Insurance is part of your financial plan you should spend more than 7.5 minutes making sure your quote is correct and then that your coverage is correct.

    When you get an Auto Insurance Quote you should be asked quite a few questions. 

    • What is your current coverage?
    • Do you have a loan on your car?
    • Do you need Loan Gap coverage?
    • How long have your been driving?
    • What about your driving history?

    And the list goes on…

    There are also reports that can answer some of these questions and provide information that will affect your Auto Insurance rates.  When you get a quote — an MVR and Claims report should be run by the person providing the quote.  Many times those reports are not run as part of the quote because those reports cost money.  The reports will be run after you commit to the policy — and your actual rate could be different from your quote. 

    We all want our sandwich, latte or smoothie fast.  But do you really want a financial product to take less time to put together than a smoothie?  A thoughtful Independent Insurance Agent will take time to look at several options for your Auto Insurance and make sure your coverage matches you needs.  Yes, we will ask questions, run reports — and it will take more than 7.5 minutes to help you make a smart financial decision. 

    We will be happy to help you with your insurance needs.  Just give us a call!

    Martine

    3/27/14


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    Auto Insurance – the phone that made me Mad!

    Yesterday, I received a call from one of our customers.  She happened to be one of our more mature customers with questions about her Auto Insurance.  She let me know that she was on the other line with someone telling her they could save her money (that is good news) and could guarantee her a new car if her car got totaled.  So far — nothing wrong with that.  She wanted to know what her current coverage cost and what was covered.  Again — a normal conversation with a customer.

    During our conversation, I recommended she get the quote in writing from the other agent and we would compare the options — if the other agent had a better product we would tell her and encourage her to make a change.  Here is the Whammy.  She had been told she can only get the new car replacement if she signed up Right Now.  On the Phone!  Now!  If she waited she would lose out. 

    What is wrong with this picture?

    1. This was an unsolicited call to an elderly person. 
    2. Offering a coverage that may or may not be there.  New car replacement is a coverage most companies offer on newer cars.  Her car was 9 years old — not one that usually qualifies for new car replacement.
    3. The offer is only good Right Now.  RED FLAG!!

    Every day we get calls from customers with questions about their insurance.  Some days we recommend a product that we do not offer because it is the best fit for our customer.  So I was not mad that our customer was talking to another agent.  I was mad because it appeared that someone was targeting an older person and using questionable sales tactics.  Pressuring this customer for a quick decision. 

    The lesson?  Do not cave into high pressure tactics.  If you feel pressured –  back away.  If the sales person gets mad — another red flag.  Bottom line — work with people you trust.  Not with someone you do not know and that uses sales tactics that make you uncomfortable.

    Martine

    2/28/14

     


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    How to Insure your new Jewelry or Golf Clubs

    Love is in the air

    I bet you couldn’t read those words without singing them!

    Love may be in the air.  Warm fuzzy feeling all around.  You know what that means — Valentine’s Day.  And Valentine’s gifts.  Many of us will give and receive some very nice gifts.  Jewelry anyone?  How about a handsome watch or expensive golf clubs?  All good things to get as a gift.    So – You are now in possession of a new bauble or toy — now what?  Make sure you are insured!  The key word is YOU.  Not the person who gave you shiny things. 

    Here are some things to consider:

    You may need to purchase additional coverage. Your homeowners  policy covers valuable items such as jewelry only up to set amounts. If the cost of replacing your jewelry exceeds that limit, you will want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage.

    Do you need an appraisal? You may need to have an independent appraisal if the insurance company requires it or if you don’t know the value of your jewelry. Each item should be listed with a description and value on paper.

    What kind of coverage is offered? You’ll want to determine if items are covered no matter where they are, whether they’re in Nashville, or on an international trip, and if the policy offers full replacement cost. You also should ask if you will be required to replace your jewelry if lost or stolen, or if you can simply keep the cash settlement.

    Take a Picture. Lost or stolen pieces of jewelry sometimes can be recreated if the jeweler has a good photograph to work from.

    Of course, it’s important to store your jewelry securely when it’s not in use; a safe in your home or a safe-deposit box is best. We want your jewelry to be replaced if it’s lost or stolen, but we’d rather your sentimental and valuable pieces stay with you and your family for years to come.

    Have a fun Valentine’s Day

    Martine

    2/10/14

     

     


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    Quick — list everything in your house. Home Inventory Time!

    Can you remember EVERYTHING in your house?  I bet not!  The fact is most people own more things than they realize. It is easy to remember big thing — couch, Giant TV and computers.  But what about Great Aunt FiFi’s china in the garage?  Or every pair of shoes and each and every handbag?  Some of us have a lot of shoes!  Over 70 pairs of shoes — not to call out any one person.  Like me.   All of it is regarded as personal property for insurance purposes.  And if your home is destroyed by fire or some other disaster, having a list of your possessions makes filing a claim easier — and helps you put your life back together.

    How do you complete a home inventory? What’s the best (easiest) way?

    Grab your video camera and start moving.  Walk around your house and record in each room — describe your items as you go.  Open those silverware drawers, too.  Another option —  you can use a regular camera and create a home inventory checklist.  There are free apps for your phone that will make lists as you speak into your phone!

    Here are a few tips for completing and storing your inventory:

    • Add brand names and descriptions where you can, especially on large-ticket items. Serial numbers are helpful to note.
    • Keep any receipts you have with the list to make the claims process easier.
    • Store your video or photo inventory offsite so you won’t lose it if your house is damaged.
    • Update your personal property records when you purchase new furnishings and valuables.

    Now what?

    Look at your inventory and compare to your “contents/personal property” coverage on your insurance.  Does the value of what is on your inventory list match your coverage?  It should!  Also, make sure your have replacement cost coverage on your stuff.

    Finally, remember your homeowners policy covers valuable items such as jewelry, furs, art and antiques, only up to set dollar amounts. If you have a fabulous ring or some wonderful silver — talk to your agent.  You may need to get additional coverage on your Valuable Items. 

    The Insurance Information Institute has a FREE online tool that can help you create your inventory. Just visit www.knowyourstuff.org for more details.

     Remember — if you have a question — ask your Independent Insurance Agent!

    1/21/14

    Martine


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    Baby it’s Cold Outside! Keep the cold out!

    Here are a few tips to keep your pipes from freezing:

    • Open the cabinets under the sinks in
      the kitchen and bathrooms to allow heat to circulate around water pipes.
    • Let faucets drip.
    • Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl
      space or attic.
    • Bring water hoses inside.
    • Insulate your outdoor water meter box,
      and be sure the lid is on tight.
    • Protect outdoor electrical equipment to
      help prevent power outage.
    • Seal any leaks in the home’s foundation
      that allow cold air inside.  (Do not cover vents that are installed to provide
      combustion air to fuel-fired hot water heaters or other equipment as that could
      lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.)
    • Maintain heat in your home at a
      comfortable level.
    • If you elect to drain your pipes when
      leaving for an extended period, turn off your water at the shut-off valve while
      faucets are running to drain your pipes.  If you drain your pipes, contact your
      electric or gas company for instructions on protecting your water heater.
      Please be aware that if you have a fire protection system in your home, it will
      be deactivated when the water is shut off. 

    To prevent ice dams, which can clog
    gutters causing water to leak into the house, use a long-handled roof rake to
    remove snow on the roof while standing safely on the ground.

     

     


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    Fire Department Changes Can Help Homeowner Insurance Rates

    Fire Department Changes Can Help Homeowner Insurance Rates — Really.

    Today the city of LaVergne, TN announced changed to their Fire Department.  They will make the Fire Department part of city services — it is current managed by a private company.  They will also add additional personnel.  The city has also upgraded its water lines.  For more info:  http://goo.gl/uyD6Ok

    So how can these changes affect Insurance Rates?  When a city improves these services the quicker response time will be in case of fire.  Location of Fire Departments, fire hydrants, type of equipment, type of water lines and many other factors determine  the Protection Class of any given address.  The lower (better) the protection class the better the rate. 

    So LaVergne will have more Fire Fighters and better services and Homeowners may have get better Home Insurance rates. 

    Martine

    12/19/13

     


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