- Review Your Insurance Needs
Talk to one of our insurance agents. He or she can help you evaluate your insurance needs and give you information about available policies.
- Decide How Much Coverage You Need
How much of the family income do you provide? Does anyone else depend on you financially? How will your family pay final expenses and repay debts after your death? Based on the answers to these questions, decide how much coverage you need, for how long and what you can afford to pay. You want to make sure that you buy enough life insurance to cover the financial effects of an unexpected or untimely death.
- Assess Your Current Life Insurance Policy
If you already have a life insurance policy, do not cancel it until you have received the new one. You then have a minimum period to review your new policy and decide if it is what you want. Keep in mind that you may not have to cancel your current policy. You may be able to change your policy to get the coverage or benefits you want now.
- Compare The Different Kinds of Insurance Policies
There are two basic types of life insurance: term insurance and cash value insurance. Term insurance generally has lower premiums in the early years, but does not build up cash values that you can use in the future. Cash value life insurance may be one of several types: whole life, universal life and variable life. Your choice should be based on your needs now and in the future and what you can afford.
- Be Sure You Can Afford the Premium Payments
Before purchasing a life insurance policy, be sure that you can handle the premium payments. Can you afford the initial premium? If the premium increases later, will you still be able to afford it?
- Have an Insurance Agent Help You Evaluate the Future of Your Policy
How quickly does the cash value grow? Some policies have low cash values in the early years that build quickly later on. Other policies have a more level cash value build-up. Ask your agent for a year-to-year display of values and benefits.
- Keep Your Current Policy
It is important that you do not drop one policy and buy another without a thorough study of the new policy and the one you have now. Replacing your insurance policy may be costly.
- Understand Renewal Policies
You can renew most term insurance policies for one or more terms even if your health has changed. Each time you renew the policy for a new term, premiums may be higher. Ask what the premiums will be if you continue to renew the policy. Also ask if you will lose the right to renew the policy at a certain age.
- Read Your Policy Carefully
Do premiums or benefits vary from year to year? How much do the benefits build up in the policy? What part of the premiums or benefits is not guaranteed? What is the effect of interest on money paid and received at different times on the policy? These are all questions that you should be able to answer by reading your policy thoroughly. Your agent can help you understand things that are unclear.
- Review Your Life Insurance Program Every Few Years
How will inflation affect your future needs? Do you need more insurance when your family size increases? Review your policy with your agent every few years to keep up with changes in your income and needs.
General contractors (GCs) are the playmakers for any significant construction project, taking responsibility for all key operations such as construction assignments, job site supervision, and activity coordination. Typically, GCs have their own construction specialty (example: malls, restaurants, office buildings, stadiums, arenas, parks, etc.). GCs are often larger concerns with a tremendous amount of expertise in their area of specialty. The level of experience is critical since it permits a construction project to be led efficiently and more successfully.
GCs may assign/award work in a variety of ways, such as:
· supplying all of the specialty contractors for an entire project, such as the excavator, electrician, heating contractor, cement contractor, plasterer, and so forth
· using their own, permanent employees for certain jobs, and
· subcontracting the remaining tasks to other, smaller construction specialists
After land has been purchased and the design/architectural work has been done, the general contractor proceeds, usually beginning with site preparation, through excavation, foundation-laying, framing, and finishing until the building or project is completed. The general contractor provides the materials and equipment according to the applicable design specifications (usually provided by the architect). The GC must comply with all local and state ordinances, codes and zoning requirements. This includes purchasing the necessary permits and obtaining the necessary surety bonds.
GCs may either be hands-on operators, who actively take part in construction, or they may be "paper" operators, overseeing the actual work of other contractors. The general contractor may rent, lease or borrow equipment (including equipment operators) for use by subcontractors. Since the general contractor is responsible for the job site, he/she should be aware of the proper use of the equipment during construction. Is the equipment being used as it was designed to be used? Is the equipment's load capacity routinely exceeded? Finally, GCs have many contractual and administrative obligations such as making sure that critical project deadlines are met, that payroll is handled, materials and equipment are obtained and that the project's budget is followed (avoiding cost overruns).
GCs face a myriad of loss exposures that vary substantially according to the type of construction project. Their insurance needs may range from a simple, low limit package of coverage to a huge wrap-up program, involving multiple lines of business, different insurers and reinsurers with various layers of coverage. Firms involved as general contractors must work with insurance professionals who are equally adept at handling large tasks.
Do you need flood insurance? Well, walk to the nearest mirror and ask the person you see if he or she owns much property that could be damaged or destroyed by water. If the answer is yes, then you should seriously consider buying flood insurance. Most persons who need the protection buy coverage offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your community doesn't participate in the program, you'll have to look into coverage from private insurance companies.
Is A Flood Loss Likely?
The chances of your business, home or personal property being damaged by a flood depends primarily upon where you live. They also depend on other factors such as:
· how much of a flood warning you receive
· the level of flood precautions you take (such as moving personal property from lower levels to higher levels), and
· the precautions taken by your community (such as the use of flood controls in construction standards or sandbagging threatened areas).
Floods are related to weather conditions and tend to affect very wide areas. This often makes chances of a flood loss higher than a loss from fires or windstorms. Many people have the obsolete belief that flood insurance is only needed if you live in a flood prone area.
I Live In A Flood Zone?!
If you hear the term "flood zone," you may think that it refers to locations that are particularly vulnerable to flooding. Wherever you live in the USA, you live in a flood zone. While your area may have a lower chance of flooding than a coastal area or a location situated near a body of water, your area could still experience flooding. A very dry part of the country can be susceptible to flash floods; hilly locations may be harmed by drainage; snowy locations may suffer from heavy snow thaw; other areas may suffer deluges or flooding due to a heavy rain season which has soaked the surrounding soil. So, if you've insured yourself against fire, wind and other causes of loss, it certainly makes sense to also protect yourself from the potential of a flood loss.
Why Worry When Disaster Coverage Is Available?
Are you thinking that, after a flood, your loss may be handled by the government declaring a disaster area? However, you're still taking a couple of large risks. First, your flooded locale may not be deemed a disaster area. Second, being designated as a disaster area is not a bargain. Disaster area status only gives citizens access to government disaster loans. IF you qualify for assistance, you have replaced insurance protection with an obligation to pay off a large, long-term loan. Is it worthwhile to gamble on an opportunity to pick up more debt? You'll find flood insurance to be a cheaper and much more valuable alternative.
Don't Be "All Wet"
You don't have to leave yourself unprotected. One of our insurance professionals can help you with detailed information on the National Flood Insurance Program. You can also ask for help in getting the coverage you need in the face of a flood.
Dogs are our best friends. They’re lifesavers, drinking buddies, and playmates. But as with best friends, we need be completely honest about things. Like, how dog bites are one of the top 10 causes of injury every year in the United States, causing more kids’ hospital emergency room visits than skateboards, in-line skates, baby walkers, all-terrain vehicles, and horse-back riding accidents combined, according to Prevent the Bite, an organization dedicated to educating kids and parents.
But enough of the ruff stuff. Let’s focus instead on how preventable dog-bite injuries actually are. Which is what National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 17 - 24) is all about: making sure we play nice (and safe) with the more than 70 million good doggies out there.
So let’s bone up on a few safety pointers. To prevent dog bites to you or your kids, avoid the temptation to pet or play with a dog—your own or a stranger’s—when that dog is:
*On the other side of a fence or in an enclosed area
*Sick or injured
*Nursing or resting with her puppies
*A service or helper dog when they’re doing their job
*Sleeping or eating
*Growling or barking
Also, if you’re a dog-owner, follow these simple steps to keep yourself and your pooch out of the dog-house.
*Take steps to socialize your pet from the beginning, so it feels comfortable around people—and train it to understand basic commands, including, "sit," "stay," and "come."
*Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
*Discourage strangers and children from approaching and petting your dog in public.
*Neuter or spay your dog.
*Be sure gates and fences are secure if you have an enclosed yard.
Lastly, here’s some really important information about dog bite liability.
Watch and Learn:
You can learn a lot about pet safety from a guy in a dog costume… such as when it’s okay to pet.
Over the years, many Americans have been horrified and confused by such tragedies as shootings that have occurred in businesses, churches and schools, such as the events at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary. The sad aftermath has to be dealt with by the survivors. While citizens, authorities, social and psychological experts, and gun opponents/proponents are all wondering why such things happen, the focus naturally shifts to pointing fingers.
Such shootings have both human and financial consequences and lawyers are frequently brought in to hold someone financially accountable. These events should not be generalized. There are elements that make them different from each other. The individuals involved and the particular circumstances that triggered each event are not similar enough to treat them in the same manner. However, the acts do often have an important element in common: many have been performed by children.
The first source that other parties look to for financial relief is insurance policies. In such instances, would the parents' homeowner policies respond to lawsuits over the actions of minors who injure or kill their schoolmates? The answer is…..it depends.
What Do Homeowner Policies Intend To Cover?
Homeowner polices offer coverage in two major sections. Section I protects the property that belongs to the policyholder such as his home, garage, storage sheds, household furnishings and even the increased living expenses created by the loss of use of such property. Section II provides coverage against the policyholder's legal responsibility for injuring other persons or damaging their property. While the shootings certainly involve substantial injuries and property damage, homeowner policies may not provide coverage.
Homeowner insurance policies intend to respond to accidents. Generally, the premiums for liability protection are based upon having to make payments to parties injured in losses that are neither intended nor foreseen by the policyholder. Of course, the particular loss details have a great deal to say about whether the event can be considered an accident. How the loss was caused, the age of the person causing it and other circumstances affect coverage.
Are Shootings Covered?
The question of the hour is: will a homeowner policy pay for the financial consequences of a person shooting someone else? Surprisingly, nothing is clear cut. For instance, it could pay if the shooting involved a person who was defending himself or protecting another person. It may pay if a person was practicing on a gun range and a shot ricochets and injures another. It may even provide coverage if one person aims directly at another and fires a weapon, but the person holding the weapon is, say, a toddler.
Many homeowner policies define whom are considered to be mature individuals and, generally speaking, the age is 13 years or older. Acts involving both guns and persons who are this age or older are excluded from coverage under a homeowner policy. Why? Because such persons should be old enough to understand the extreme danger represented by guns. The choice in deploying a gun or similar weapons against other persons can rarely be considered accidental and, in most instances, is the full responsibility of the weapon-wielder.
But again, there can still be instances where a homeowner policy may be required to defend or pay for such losses, including instances:
· where a parent may be held to be indirectly responsible for the actions of a child
· where the shooter is found to be mentally impaired or is otherwise considered unable to have understood the nature of his or her actions
· where a court may interpret a policy as being applicable to a shooting
The fact is the question of insurance coverage for such horrible events is as confusing and complicated as why such events ever occur. Only the passage of time and legal findings will provide the opportunity to make this subject any clearer.
After an accident, a policyholder has to meet obligations that may affect whether an insurer pays the claim. The duties help an insurer to determine whether payment is due or how much it has to pay.
Notification–You must contact the insurance company with accident details. Notification may be through an agent and it should include the identity and contact information for any injured persons and any witnesses. Notification triggers the claims process, and it helps the insurer to control claim expenses.
Assist the insurance company–You must help the insurer with the claim's investigation, settlement or with its defense against any claim. Assistance includes sending the company copies of any accident-related material as well as participating in physical exams and interviews under oath. You’re also required to give your insurer access to all records (especially medical) related to the accident and a proof of loss statement (a document that has all loss details and information about the lost property).
Preserving damaged property–Here’s an example. Tina returns home early in the morning in her convertible and hits the huge landscape rock located in her front yard. The damage is minor, but the impact causes an alignment problem that makes it impossible to close the convertible top. Instead of moving the car into the garage or covering the car, Tina leaves it in the driveway. It sits there all day; exposed to a downpour that severely damages the car’s interior and electrical systems. The car now has to be towed to have the damage inspected when, originally, it could have been driven. Tina’s inaction complicates a once simple claim. The insurer may require Tina to handle the towing charge. The insurer may also either dispute and/or deny coverage for the damage caused by exposure-related loss.
Allow Property Inspection–A policyholder who repairs or disposes of damaged property before an insurer examination has seriously breached the insurance contract. This breach could result in an insurer refusing the claim. At one time, a policyholder could endanger coverage by any missed obligation, regardless whether the "miss" was significant. In other words, a technicality could void coverage. Today, courts have started to rule that an insurer has to show that a breach of duty has to harm (prejudice) its rights. If the insured's action (or inaction) has no effect on an insurer's position, then it can't deny coverage.
If you have any questions, contacting one of our insurance agents is an excellent choice to help you properly understand your insurance policy obligations.
Hair and beauty salons offer a range of services. Traditionally, they have included hair styling, dressing, arching, applying cosmetics, permanent waving, shampooing, tweezing, facials, trimming, tinting, plucking, bleaching and dyeing, manicures, hair tinting, waxing or applying depilatories, and pedicures. Currently, salons offer an even wider array of services that involve a higher level of risk as they cross into the realm of medical and even surgical procedures. Current operations may involve tasks such as:
Many traditional services are covered under professional liability policies. However, such policies are not standardized. Therefore protection may be significantly different among different insurers. A particular company’s application and policy forms should be carefully read in order to determine what services are covered.
Cosmetologists are required to carry a state license and a minimum amount of training and experience in order to perform their jobs. Barbers and Beautician Professional liability policies require that all insured persons maintain a valid license or certification. Typical coverage includes injuries to persons or to property that is related to the applicable beauty or barbershop operation. There is also coverage for harm connected to application of preparations that are bought at a shop or salon and then are used at customers’ homes. Coverage does NOT apply to preparations made BY the insured.
Barbers and Beauticians professional liability forms don’t protect against losses involving plastic surgery; removal of warts, moles or other growths; use of radiation for the removal of hair; body massage other than facial or scalp massage; sun-tanning treatment or piercing body parts. However, coverage for some services may be added for additional charges.
One of our insurance professionals is the person to talk to when you want to make sure that making the public more beautiful doesn’t include the chance of ugly, uninsured losses.
Beyond the sale price, insurance is one of the most important financial questions to consider before buying a new car.
Most states require individuals to purchase insurance coverage to drive legally. Auto insurance can be divided into two basic coverage areas: liability and property damage.
When shopping for auto insurance, premium quotations are a useful tool for comparison of different companies’ products. Two factors determine what you pay for auto insurance. The first factor is underwriting where insurance companies assess the risk associated with an applicant. The second factor is rating; the rating assigns a price based on what the insurer believes it will cost to assume the financial responsibility for the applicant’s potential claim.
With the joys of a new ride comes much responsibility – especially when the unexpected occurs.
In an automobile accident, you are concerned first about your safety and secondly about your vehicle. Likely, the last thing on your mind is protecting your identity. In fact, a recent NAIC survey suggests that after an accident, many Americans do not really know what information they should share with the other driver. State laws vary, but in most cases you need only provide your name and vehicle insurance information, which should include the name and phone number of your insurance provider. Sharing personal information such as your address and phone number may put your privacy and identity at risk. However, if another driver is unable to provide vehicle ownership and/or insurance information it is appropriate to ask for their phone number, address and driver's license number.
According to a recent NAIC survey:
The survey also found consumers were unsure about other auto accident best practices. For example, nearly 20 percent of respondents believe the only reason to call police after an accident is if someone is injured. However, filing a police report can help facilitate the insurance claims process.
May is Bike Month. So to get you pumped and ready to get back on the road, we’d like to steer you toward a few useful facts about bike safety and bicycle insurance.
*First and most important, follow the rules of the road. That means going with the flow of traffic and obeying stop signs and other notifications.
*Be visible. Wear light-color clothing and install reflectors/reflectorized tape on your bike if you ride at times when lighting conditions are poor. Even if your state doesn’t have mandatory head- and tail-light regulations, the current generation of inexpensive battery-operated (and USB-rechargable) front and rear lights make it easy to brighten the night.
*Wear a properly fitted helmet. No other piece of equipment can do as much to protect users from injury or death.
*Stay focused, stay alert. Sorry to spell it out for you like this, but if you wear earphones while riding, you’re probably breaking the law … and it’s just plain dumb.
*When it comes to insuring your bicycle, look to your homeowners or renters insurance. Your coverage will reimburse you, minus the deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy. If you own a particularly expensive bicycle, you may want to consider getting an endorsement that will provide additional coverage. Your Insurance Professional can review your coverage options with you.
*And finally, a note to motorists: Give cyclists a break. Share the road. Be patient. Leave ample room when passing. Respect the bike lanes. And cyclists: ride defensively. Remember that when it comes to riding with motor vehicle traffic, even if the laws of your state are on your side, the laws of physics definitely aren’t.
Did You Know?
Our articles are written by professionals in the insurance industry who's mission is to educate