Controlling Auto Insurance Costs

Does it feel like automobile insurance rates just keep increasing? It is part of a national trend. Blame increased accidents resulting from distracted driving.

But there are some ways you can save on your policy:

  • If you are a student, you can save as much as 25% with good grades. It pays to strive for those A’s!
  • Higher deductibles can also help reduce your insurance premium costs. Just be careful about leaving yourself with too much exposure. (Your deductible should be something you can afford to pay.)
  • If you are over 50 you may be able to take defensive driving courses. These could qualify you for savings up to 10% per year depending on your insurance policy.
  • If you own a paid off older vehicle, it may make sense to drop coverage for collisions… but only if the car’s value is less than 10x the insurance premium.
  • If you are driving less than 7,500 miles a year, your costs may also go down since you are limiting your exposure by driving less.

Be sure to review your situation regularly with your insurance agent as life changes can also have an impact on your rates.

For example, in some states, an improving credit score can help reduce your insurance premiums.

Another life change that can have a positive impact is becoming a homeowner. If you own a home, be sure to talk with your agent about bundling. Combining auto and home policies with one carrier can offer savings. (Versus placing the home and auto policies with different carriers.)

And remember, your independent insurance agent is able to shop between multiple carriers to help you find the best rate for your specific situation. They can help you evaluate your risk profile to make sure you have the exact insurance coverage you need for your situation.


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Life Insurance is Difficult to Talk About… But a Divorce Makes a Conversation Necessary…

Divorces are painful. They can cause emotional harm to all participants. For example, imagine what might happen if a current spouse and an ex-spouse file competing claims for life insurance on a decedent.

Divorce related life insurance conflicts often end up in the courts. Such proceedings can be an emotionally charged experience for all involved.

Is that what you would want for your estate? Let’s say you have a policy worth $1,000,000. How much of that could be lost in legal fees as competing parties fight each other over who should receive the death benefit?

It may be surprising, but life insurance is often overlooked in divorce proceedings. This sort of oversight sets up the potential for future conflicts.

It forces the courts to made decisions on behalf of the decedent… something that no life insurance policy owner wants.

But avoiding this issue is relatively easy. Be sure your life insurance is discussed during your divorce and be sure it is properly updated.

As difficult as it may be, talking with your Insurance professional about your divorce is important. They’ll be really understanding. They’ll ask you the necessary questions to help you decide how best to handle whatever changes you need to make to your policy. They’ll offer you great advice that you can count on to be sure your estate is protected and that your wishes are followed if something should happen to you.


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It’s Only Concrete…

As a contractor, concrete is one of those materials that is worked with pretty often. It’s easy to forget that you have to be careful when handling it.

After all, cement is considered one of the safest building materials. It’s found in playgrounds, sidewalks, workplaces, and homes…

But proper precautions have to be observed when working with concrete, otherwise it can be quite dangerous.

Concrete Basics

Portland cement is the most common active ingredient in concrete. Mixed with water, sand, and rock it solidifies into a rock-hard material. Thing is, because it is so abrasive, it is really harsh on the skin.

And even if concrete doesn’t come in contact with the skin directly, it can saturate clothing and still negatively impact the skin.

In fact, fresh concrete that comes in contact with skin can cause chemical burns. It can also cause severe damage to the eyes. How bad can the burns be? According to the Portland Cement Association, it can result in third-degree burns.

That’s the last thing you want your crew to face!

Remember, your Workman’s Comp rate is based on claim experience. Taking appropriate steps to ensure proper concrete handling will help you manage risks associated with handling cement…

  • It’s important that anyone handling Portland cement wear water-proof gloves, shirts and pants that fully cover arms and legs, as well as rubber boots that are high enough to prevent concrete from getting in.
  • It’s also important to wear eye protection to prevent concrete dust from getting into the eyes.
  • Also, concrete is heavy. Workers need to take extra care when handling it. (Be sure they push with a shovel rather than lifting concrete with it.)

Following these simple guidelines will help ensure that your team is protected as they work with concrete. You’ll keep your workers safe and you’ll help control your insurance costs.


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So, how much insurance do you need for your new business?

Opening up shop? Wondering what kind of insurance coverage you might need? Chances are you’ll likely need to protect yourself. You have to watch out for things like liability claims, injuries, accidents, damage to equipment, and burglary as well. It’s enough to give a person an ulcer.

So how do you know if you have the right business insurance for your needs? And how can you be sure you are getting a great deal on your coverage?

We’re certainly here to help you with that!

Talking with an independent insurance agent will help you figure out which kinds of commercial coverage are most appropriate for your company. And being independent means we can work with multiple carriers… that means you have a choice!

Getting help for your business insurance is a smart choice. You likely save time. You’ll also get the benefit of working with someone who knows the right questions to ask to help really understand your risk profile. (Getting a full assessment of your needs is critical to be sure you aren’t over-insured or under-insured.)

So what are the kinds of business insurance you may need to consider? It all depends on the business you are in but your insurance needs will include one or more of the following:

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Commercial Vehicle
  • Information Breach Protection

Sometimes these insurances will be sold separately. However, they are often packaged together into a BOP (business owner’s policy.) A BOP may include discounts vs. buying the coverage separately.

Working with a seasoned professional will help you make informed decisions. They’ll ask tough questions to make sure you’ll balance your potential risk exposure with cost savings options. (Many business owners we work with are surprised to learn how they might be exposed and how costly a potential loss could be.

Making sure you have the right coverage to protect your business investment is critical! After all, you want to be certain your company can be around to serve your clients should a disaster strike. Having this sort of peace of mind allows you to concentrate your energy on what you love & do best… building your business and helping your clients.

So skip the ulcer. If you’re thinking about starting a small business or if you already have one, be sure you chat with us about your insurance options.


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Automobile insurance rates are on the way up because of distracted driving…

More drivers are taking their eyes off the road. They are being distracted by mobile devices and it is resulting in more accidents. Worse, it’s inflating your costs for coverage as well.

In fact, a state-by-state evaluation has uncovered that rates have been increasing for the last 5 years.

There are a few factors that influence rates going up…

  • More people are driving.
  • Cars are more expensive to repair.
  • Texting while driving has become the largest cause of accidents…

(The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined distracted-driving deaths increased 9 percent in 2015 alone!)

Of course insurance companies have to bill more because of the increase in insurance claims… in some cases with rates increasing by hundreds over the span of a few years.

You can help reduce accidents by putting down your cell phone while in your car. But if you’re having a hard time separating yourself from your cell phone… you aren’t alone.

You see, it’s all about dopamine. Each time an Email or Text is responded to, it gives a feeling of satisfaction and creates a need to do more. The result? It’s difficult to stop checking cell phones for texts and Email.

And with their flashing and beeping and icons indicating there are unread messages, it all adds to the addictive effect. It’s a combination of classic conditioning and dopamine responses that make you feel like you’re addicted.

There is hope that technologies being introduced into vehicles will help to curb distracted driving. But for now, the best practice is simply to leave your device alone while driving… no matter how hard it might be.


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Credit insurance scores poorly…

Many kinds of credit lines and installment loans offer credit insurance. These products are designed to “protect” an individual’s credit score by covering installment payments in case of certain qualifying situations.

Sadly these tend to be overpriced according to recent research. A study covering 2004 through 2013 demonstrated that 44.4 cents in benefits were paid for each dollar spent on such insurance policies. (By comparison, typical health plans offer 84.1 cents in benefits for each dollar spent.

So if the goal is to protect yourself in case you get sick or injured, you might be better off finding other forms of personal protection. (Be sure to check with your financial advisor for options.)

Also bear in mind, having such credit insurance is not a requirement for receiving a loan. It is always an option.

So when you are getting a line of credit, a car loan, or a store credit card, remember than this “insurance” may have a low payment but can be an expensive option when it comes to potential payout.

Also it is important to understand that options are limited. There’s virtually zero competition. Under normal circumstances you’ll be offered insurance from one provider… that’s it. There’s zero choice.

So what are your alternatives to Credit Insurance?

Term life insurance is a great way to protect beneficiaries. In the case of your death, your beneficiaries can leverage the funds to pay off your debts. Of course a life insurance benefit can cover all financial needs whereas credit insurance is limited to only covering that specific loan.

And in case you are injured, disability insurance can be beneficial. As with term life insurance, disability insurance is far more flexible than standard credit insurance.


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Suddenly Becoming a Caregiver is a Shock

…They cared for you when you were young… but now your parents need your help.

…Your husband managed the bills… but now he’s suffered a stroke and needs your help.

…Your partner was the primary income earner… but now she’s become incapacitated.

You’re now responsible to manage medical visits, deal with creditors, handle insurance issues. You’ve been thrust into a nightmare scenario… are you prepared?

Do you know how money moves in and out of bank accounts each month? Can a doctor lawfully talk with you? Is there a will? Medical power of attorney? What kind of health insurance is available?

If you could find yourself in the role of caregiver, it’s a good practice to talk through potential issues and concerns with your financial adviser. Naturally you’ll need to include those who you could be called upon to care for as well.

These are difficult conversations… but necessary.

  1. Establish an Understanding

It’s important to have conversations with loved ones about what they want should they find themselves incapacitated. What are their desires with regard to finances, healthcare, and long-term treatment. What about in terminal situations?

Having these conversations when people are in full control of their mental faculties is critical…

  1. Simplify

Be prepared to automate as much as possible. Establish systems to take care of regular bills so you can have confidence they are properly paid. Make sure medical appointments (if necessary) are as consistent as possible so they become part of a regular routine. Look for any area where you see complexity and see if there’s a better way…

  1. Track and Document Everything.

Be sure to have duplicates of all important documents… from wills to Medicare and Social Security cards. Watch medicine consumption and pay attention to refills and prescription expiration dates. Find a way to keep track of passwords… LastPass.com is an interesting tool for this purpose.  For keeping copies of documents, scanning and storing them on Google Drive or Dropbox can be helpful. And in a situation like this, it is critical to track expenses.

  1. Pay Attention to Insurance.

Make sure you have the insurance you need well before it is needed. Your financial adviser can help you understand costs, benefits, and what you should expect in long-term situations. Life Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance, Health Insurance… all play a role when you are a caregiver.

  1. Seek Legal Council.

A financial adviser is well equipped to talk with you about finances. But as a caregiver there are legal issues that arise and for these you need the help of an attorney. Achieving clarity about wills, power of attorney documents, and the like can help reduce potential disputes with other family members in the future.

  1. Keep a Medical Log.

Take the time to journal notes. Keep details from medical visits, document health insurance concerns, track doctor’s orders, and keep observations about the medical condition of the individual you are caring for. This ensures that you are not improperly charged for medical care and will help you see objectively if you need additional medical intervention in a long-term care situation.

  1. Don’t Go it Alone.

Get help from friends & family members alike. Become involved in a support group. Understand that the role of Caregiver can be daunting and that it is important to not become isolated in the process.  And remember, we’re here to help you as well.


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