The Independent Agent Advantage

What do I give up by not using a licensed independent agent to purchase insurance?

The disadvantage of not using a licensed agent to purchase insurance is that the policyholder does not receive as much, or often any, personal service. A licensed agent with whom there is direct contact can be vital when purchasing a product and absolutely necessary when filing a claim. Without an agent to act as your personal advocate during the claims process, you are left to take care of the details on your own. You may be unsure who to contact at the insurance company or who you can really trust to help you during the times in life when you need help the most. Without an agent you are on your own to absorb the frustration and expense of resolving your problems.

The disadvantage of not using a licensed independent agent to purchase insurance is that agents who only represent one insurance company can only offer insurance based on that one company’s policies and rate structures. As an independent agency we represent numerous insurance companies and are deeply familiar with the intricate differences between them. Therefore we are able to match your needs with the best company to meet those needs and your budget without having to sacrifice coverage in order to find affordability.

What’s the risk in not using an agent?

Many insurance companies that can be called directly as a customer fail to tell you that the “call center personnel” who will take your information and issue the policy ARE NOT licensed to sell insurance, therefore lacking the professional knowledge to guide you toward an acceptable level of protection. These companies are conducting business using a loophole within the law which allows the company to have one license while everyone else works without it. Going this route can place your financial future at risk because unlicensed personnel are trained to simply sell you a policy without being aware of what “real” protection means.

For instance, imagine you own a $150,000 home and your auto insurance policy’s liability limits are $50,000. When you purchased the policy you were told this was plenty of protection considering your state’s minimum requirement for liability is $20,000. Yet if you have an accident and are sued for $200,000 your policy is only going to pay out $50k, leaving you responsible for the remaining $150k. Since your home would cover the difference, a court judgment could force you into selling your home as a way to settle the suit. If your policy’s liability limits had protected you at a minimum of $200,000, the policy would be paying for the total suit.

Because direct writers are typically located nowhere near where you live, many won’t hesitate to sell you a policy with low liability limits as a way to simply make the policy cheaper while convincing you to buy it. Leaving you extremely vulnerable to financial disaster.

Looking for an agent with your best interests at heart? That’s exactly why we’re here.

 

Lightning and Summer Storms

Lightning storms are incredibly dangerous and more deadly than tornadoes, floods and hurricanes. When a storm is on the verge of striking your area, you need to know the steps to take in order to protect your family and home.

Use these tips to stay safe during a lightning storm:

  • Seek shelter in an enclosed building, if possible.
  • If you are in a car, stay inside and keep the windows securely rolled up.
  • Do not use a small shed, pavilion or lean-to as shelter—they do not provide enough protection.
  • Do not use a landline telephone during a storm. Instead, use a cellular or cordless phone that is not connected to the building’s wiring.
  • If you’re outside during a lightning storm, get as close to the ground as possible without placing your hands or knees on the ground.
  • Avoid seeking shelter near trees, metal fences, pipes or tall and long objects.
  • If you are swimming, boating or fishing, seek shelter on land immediately.

If someone you know is struck by lightning, contact emergency personnel immediately. A lightning strike can cause the heart to stop and a person to stop breathing.

If you have the proper medical training, administer CPR to victims who do not have a pulse and treat conscious victims for burns, fractures and other wounds.

Quick Tips for Safe RV Usage

Recreational vehicles (RVs) can be a fun way to see the country and spend time with your family. However, because they’re bigger and heavier than an average car, there are additional hazards that come with owning and operating an RV.

Many RV accidents can be avoided by following these helpful tips:

  • Know the weight capacity of your RV.
  • Perform a complete pre-trip inspection. Check the tire pressure, tread depth, headlights, tail lights, turn signals, belts, oil levels, hitch and other towing equipment, and windshield wipers before leaving.
  • Know the height of your RV and pay close attention to overhangs and clearance heights.
  • Watch your speed, especially at night and during dusk.
  • Slow down on blind curve areas of the roadway.
  • Use your high beams at night to see animals and other obstructions.
  • Always wear a seat belt.

Is Gap Coverage Right for You?

Guaranteed asset protection, or gap insurance is an optional automobile coverage that helps you transfer the financial risk if you are involved in an auto accident and you owe more for your vehicle than the amount that it’s worth. This is referred to as being “upside-down.”

Since a new car’s value drops significantly the minute it’s driven off the lot, if you are involved in an accident that totals your vehicle in the first few years you own your vehicle, you may find yourself owing the finance company more than the vehicle’s actual value. Gap insurance provides for the “gap” between the two amounts.

Is Gap Insurance for Everyone?

New vehicle financing options: If you took advantage of a zero percent down payment deal or put a small amount of money down, or stretched the life of your loan past 3 years, gap insurance is most likely a good idea. That’s because the vehicle typically depreciates considerably faster than you have actually paid down the vehicle’s loan.

Used vehicles: Gap insurance is typically not available for used vehicles. To cover your risk, it’s wise to put down an ample down payment and finance the vehicle for the shortest possible timeframe.

Leased vehicles: For those who lease a vehicle, gap insurance is considered an essential coverage because typically there is no trade-in and little cash put down to lease the vehicle. Similar to purchasing a vehicle, if the car is a total loss, you will owe the difference between what you have paid and what you owe on the balance of the lease.

Cost versus benefit: Gap insurance is offered for a nominal fee, which makes it a great value for anyone who finances or leases a new car.

We’re Here to Help

Depending on your vehicle’s make, model and loan terms, we can help you determine if gap insurance is the right choice for you. If you’re purchasing a new vehicle, contact us to learn about how gap insurance can complement your auto policy coverage options and keep you from getting caught upside-down!

Making Sure You Have the Right Auto Coverage

Dropping some of your coverage—like comprehensive or collision—to the lowest legal level can cut your premium, but it could also put you at serious risk.

An automobile insurance policy is designed to provide you with a level of protection against property, liability and medical costs if you are involved in an accident.

  • Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car.
  • Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage.
  • Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses.
  • Underinsured motorists coverage pays for property damage and bodily injury caused by another driver whose coverage is insufficient to cover damages suffered.

Selecting the correct liability limits is fundamental. 100/300/50 means you are covered for up to $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $300,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident and $50,000 in property damage per accident.

Many states have minimum liability limits of 25/50/10, although some states are higher or lower than this. While it may lower your premium, reducing your liability limits to minimum legal levels and dropping underinsured motorists coverage could open you up to substantial risk.

Collison Insurance – Know the Value of Your Car

Your policy will not pay for repairs that exceed the value of your vehicle. For this reason, if you are driving a vehicle that isn’t worth more than a few thousand dollars, it may not make sense to purchase collision coverage. BHC Insurance can help you determine whether or not collision insurance makes sense for you.

Top Ways to Save on Your Auto Premium:

  • Consider raising your deductible.
  • Keep up your good driving record.
  • Drive less to qualify for a low-mileage discount.
  • Drive a car with safety features such as anti-lock brakes and airbags.
  • Install an anti-theft device.
  • Ask about our multi-policy discounts.

We’re Here to Help

Accidents happen to cautious drivers, too, and having adequate insurance can save you from serious financial burden should one happen to you.

We can help you determine which automobile insurance coverage is needed and what limits you should consider for your policy.

Are You Prepared for a Home Break-in?

While it may be difficult to imagine it happening to you, home break-ins are a common occurrence. If an intruder enters your home, your property and the well-being of your loved ones are at risk.

In order to protect your home and family from an intruder, consider doing the following:

  • Put an emergency plan in place and discuss it with everyone in your household.
  • Take any measure possible to let the intruder know someone is home and aware of his or her presence.
  • Do not assume the intruder is unarmed. He or she may be concealing a knife or gun and could produce it at a moment’s notice.
  • If you have something immediately available you can use for defense, grab it, even if it is just a scare tactic.
  • Remain vigilant. Take note of the intruder’s physical characteristics and provide the most accurate description possible to the police if he or she gets away.

In addition to the above, consider arming your home with a security system. A security system may seem expensive, but knowing your family and possessions are safe at all times may make it worth the cost.

Remember Risk! Planning for Financial Stability

Obtaining the peace of mind financial stability brings starts with reviewing your current financial resources. This is important because your financial resources affect not only your ability to reach your goals, but your ability to protect those goals from potential financial crises. These are the resources you will draw on to meet various life events.

Start by calculating your net worth—this isn’t as difficult as it might sound. Your net worth is simply the total value of what you own: your assets, minus what you owe (your liabilities). It’s a snapshot of your financial health.

First, add up the approximate value of all of your assets. This includes personal possessions, vehicles, homes, checking and savings accounts, and the cash value (not the death benefits) of any life insurance policies you may have. Include the current value of investments, such as stocks, real estate, certificates of deposit, retirement accounts, IRAs and the current value of any pensions you have.

Now add up your liabilities: the remaining mortgage on your home, credit card debt, student and personal loans taxes due on the profits of your investments if you cashed them in and any other outstanding bills. Subtract your liabilities from your assets. Do you have more assets than liabilities? Or the other way around? If so, don’t beat yourself up. According to Forbes Magazine, a person with no debt and $10 in his or her pocket has more wealth than 25 percent of Americans.

Your aim is to create a positive net worth, and you want it to grow each year. Your net worth is part of what you will draw on to pay for financial goals and your retirement. A strong net worth also will help you through financial crises. Review your net worth annually as a good way to monitor your financial health. Websites like Mint.com help you keep track of your income, expenses and net worth on a daily basis.

Identify other financial resources. You may have other financial resources that aren’t included in your net worth but that can help you through tough times. These include the death benefits of your life insurance policies, Social Security survivor’s benefits, health care coverage, disability insurance, liability insurance, and auto and home insurance. Although you may have to pay for some of these resources, they offer financial protection in case of illness, accidents or other catastrophes.

Christmas Safety Reminder for Home or Office

For many of us, the holiday season is a time of joy, celebration and tradition. We look forward to hosting or attending festive gatherings or concerts. We travel near and far to share in the spirit of the season with family, friends and co-workers. We cook more, shop more and decorate more.

However, all that extra cooking, traveling, shopping, celebrating and decorating we do can post potentially serious hazards at home, in the office and on the road. Reports from leading safety organizations indicate that the time from Thanksgiving through the New Year is also one of the most dangerous for homeowners.

Whether you are planning or participating in the festivities, knowing the risks and how to help avoid injury, theft and damage to property through the holiday season are important however you choose to celebrate.

Fire Hazards
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fires and home fire deaths peak between December and February.* Cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round, and the increased use of stovetops and ovens for preparing holiday meals can increase the risk. Holiday decorations and the open flames of fireplaces and candles used during the holidays can also pose a threat.

To help reduce the risk of fire, consider using non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations. If you decorate a Christmas tree this time of year, select a quality artificial tree and decorate with only UL-listed lights. If you choose to have a fresh tree, be sure to keep water in the stand at all times. According to the NFPA, even a well-watered fresh tree should be taken down after four weeks. If you celebrate using a menorah, consider lighting using dripless candles. Remember to keep decorations and trees away from candles, fireplaces and heaters. Never leave an open flame or stove unattended.

Decorative Displays
Decorating the home, office or yard is a popular way to get into the spirit of the season. Planning your displays carefully is important to help reduce the risk of fire, electrical shock, trips and falls, and property damage. If a ladder is to be used always use a fiberglass or wooden ladder as they do not conduct electricity should the ladder come in contact with an open power source. Be diligent about everything you do while decorating to help keep your family and friends safe when putting up, playing around or packing away your festive displays.

Winter Driving Safety
Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, shopping malls and holiday parties we go — all increasing our risk of having to drive in sometimes hazardous winter conditions.

Always check the weather before going out, and avoid driving in snowy, icy or other severe conditions if possible. Take a vehicle survival kit stocked with cold weather essentials on every trip, and try to keep your gas tank from getting far below the half empty level. Following your common sense and basic winter driving tips can help ensure you and your passengers reach your holiday destinations safely.

Consumer Protection Safety Commission, http://www.cpsc.gov/; Electrical Safety Foundation International, http://esfi.org/.

You can have too much Water!

Insuring Your College Student

When your child leaves for college, it is a big event. One thing that you should think about is your insurance coverage and how it could change with your son or daughter away at school.

Protecting Your Student’s Belongings

Many homeowners policies consider a dorm room as an extension of your home, so items your child keeps there may be covered to some extent. However, if your child has expensive electronic equipment or furniture, you may want to consider purchasing additional coverage.

If your child lives off campus, his or her possessions may not be covered by your homeowners policy. In that case, you may want to consider renter’s insurance, which typically costs as little as a few dollars per month. Renter’s insurance will cover possessions in your child’s off-campus apartment or house as well as provide liability coverage if anyone is injured in the residence.

Changing Auto Coverage

If your son or daughter moves more than 100 miles away from home to attend school and does not keep a vehicle there, your car insurance premiums could decrease by as much as 30 percent.

Keeping Your Child Healthy While on Campus

Since 2014, children up to age 26 can stay on their parent’s employer plan even if they have another offer of coverage through an employer. This rule applies to all plans in the individual market and to new employer plans. It also applies to existing employer plans unless the adult child has another offer of employer-based coverage.

If you find your child does not have adequate coverage under your plan, you have a few options. Most universities have their own health plans, but some policies have low deductibles and low coverage maximums. It may be better to consider an individual policy for your student depending on his or her needs.

Count on Us

If you are sending a child off to college and haven’t looked at adjusting your coverage, contact us today to learn more. You could save money on your policies and protect your child from expensive incidents while away from home.

Boat Insurance for Smooth Sailing

You can insure just about any kind of vessel, whether you have a yacht, speed boat or personal watercraft like a JetSki. Every type of boat has the potential to be stolen or damaged, and can be involved in an incident that results in harm to another person or their property. Even if your boat is docked or stored in your garage, it can potentially be vandalized, damaged in a fire or storm, or stolen.

Many owners of small watercraft such as canoes, rafts and kayaks assume they will be covered under a homeowners or renters policy. This may be the case, up to a specified limit in your home policy. However, when it’s time to make a claim, you don’t want to be surprised to find out that this limit is not adequate to cover the value of your investment.

Be sure to consider the amount of coverage you would need to repair or replace each of your boats and recreational vehicles if damaged or stolen and ask your agent to help you get the right coverage for those items.

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

The exact boat coverage you need depends on multiple factors. Small boat insurance is very different from yacht insurance, for example. However, for most types of boats, the three kinds of coverage in a basic boat insurance policy include:

  • Bodily injury liability for expenses related to the injury of another person
  • Property damage liability for expenses related to harming another person’s property
  • Physical damage for damage to your own property, including your boat and trailer.

You also may want to add additional types of coverage to your boat insurance policy in order to fully protect yourself and your property. Here are some examples of additional coverage:

  • Property coverage for equipment such as tools, life preservers, anchors and oars
  • Insurance for fishing equipment like your rods, lures, nets and tackle
  • Towing coverage when your boat becomes disabled and needs servicing
  • Medical payments coverage for hospital and funeral expenses for you or your passengers
  • Uninsured/underinsured boaters coverage if you have an accident with another boater whose insurance is not sufficient to cover damages

As with all insurance, the amount of benefit or reimbursement you have in the event of an incident is set at the time you buy your policy.

Grilling Safety Reminders For Your Summer BBQ

Though grilling is an extremely popular way to prepare food in the summer, it can also be dangerous. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, gas and charcoal grills account for an average of 10 deaths and 100 injuries annually. Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association reports that an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling each year.

This year, keep the following safety suggestions in mind when you go to fire up your grill:

  • Make sure your grill is at least 3 feet away from other objects including your house, trees and outdoor seating.
  • Remember that starter fluid should only be used with charcoal grills and never with gas grills.
  • If you suspect that your gas grill is leaking, turn off the gas and get the unit fixed before lighting.
  • Do not bring your grill into an unventilated or enclosed space such as the garage or inside of your home.
  • Do not let children and pets play near the grilling area when cooking until the grill is completely cool.
  • Allow time for your grill to completely cool down before storing or covering it after grilling.

Grill Your Food Thoroughly

Prevent food-borne illnesses by grilling your meat to the proper internal temperatures.

  • Steaks, Roasts and Chops – 145°F
  • Poultry – 165°F
  • Groud Poultry – 165°F
  • Ground Meats – 160°F

Summer Water Safety Refresher

Summer Water Safety Refresher

  • Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible.
  • Always brief babysitters on water safety, emphasizing the need for constant supervision.
  • Appoint a “designated watcher” to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pools.
  • Equip doors and windows that exit to a pool area with alarms.
  • Install a poolside phone, preferably a cordless model, with emergency numbers programmed into speed-dial.
  • Post CPR instructions and learn the procedures.
  • Keep rescue equipment poolside. Don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive because you will lose valuable life-saving seconds. Four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death.
  • Keep a first aid kit at poolside.
  • Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high, equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates, that completely surrounds the pool and prevents direct access from the house and yard.
  • Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area. If a child is missing, check the pool first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Never allow a young child in a pool without an adult.
  • Don’t leave objects such as toys that might attract a child in the pool and pool area.
  • Never prop the gate to a pool area open.
  • Don’t rely on swimming lessons, life preservers, or other equipment to make a child “water safe.”
  • Never assume someone else is watching a child in a pool area.
  • Don’t leave chairs or other items of furniture where a child could use them to climb into a fenced pool area.
  • Don’t think you’ll hear a child who’s in trouble in the water; child drowning is a silent death, with no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble

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.

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!

Fall Newsletter

 

martines-office

Check out our latest Newsletter!

 

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

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

 

 

 

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.

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

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!

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.

 

 

 

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

#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

 

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!)

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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