Another alarming headline about insurance companies has hit the news.  This time the claim is that wealthy people get lower insurance rates than poor people.  It is sure to get people talking.

The study shows that there is a serious misunderstanding of auto insurance among the study authors and those reporting on it.  This general misunderstanding is being spread to the public which can cause people to make insurance decisions that will affect them negatively in the long run.

You may not like the way that insurance companies rate premiums.  Don’t ignore the issue, confront it head on to make it work as good as possible for you in the long run.  Learn what factors make an insurance premium increase.  Take some time to talk to an independent insurance agent about your insurance needs.  They can access several different insurance companies and compare rates and coverage with you.  And because independent agents are not beholden to any one particular company, they can give an honest assessment of your insurance needs.

The interpretation of this study fails to account for 1) the fact that someone was driving without insurance, 2) the fact that different companies have different niches where they are most competitive and 3) getting rates for fictitious people will automatically get higher rates.

Insurance companies spend lots of time and money sifting through huge amounts of data trying to figure out who will have the most accidents and the largest claims.  Because companies cannot legally take each person on a case-by-case basis to make an evaluation of the individual and their character, they will slice and dice the data and demographics as much as possible to figure out what people are having claims and how big are those claims.

Every auto insurance company operating in the state of PA will take all of this data, and based on past experience use it to guess the future.  Make an appointment today so we can spend some time figuring out the best way to approach your insurance situation.  Understanding your coverage will save money.

Really?  This sounds like someone forgot what they learned in second grade science class but it really is true.  Keeping the roof cold can prevent ice dams from forming at the edge of the roof.

To make this clearer, let’s look at how ice dams form.  When snow is on your house roof, a warm roof will melt the snow.  The melted snow runs down the roof, hits the cold roof above the eaves and freezes.  Ice builds up into a dam, water keeps collecting behind this dam and is pushed back and up under the shingles.  The water seeps into the house, damaging wood and insulation and causes mold and mildew.  What a mess!

The solution is insulation that keeps the house warmth in the house and away from the roof.  You also need ventilation moving cold air from the eaves to the peak of the roof.  Check here for more information.  If your house has ice dams, call some home remodelers for quotes on fixing the problem.  The solution for ice dams can also keep your house warmer this winter.

Q: Do I need Life Insurance?

A: Yes

 

When should I buy life insurance?

Right now.

 

I’m only 23, are you serious?

Yes

 

Why?

Life insurance will never be cheaper or easier for you to buy.  Rates for life insurance increase as we age.  We also tend to be less healthy as we age, which also increases rates for life insurance.  One exception – if you quit smoking and are nicotine-free for a year (even free of a patch), your life insurance rates will go down.

 

What type of life insurance should I get?

I typically recommend Term Life Insurance – it’s the cheapest way to get a lot of coverage.  Only in a few cases do I recommend a Universal or Whole Life policy.

 

The above conversation is fictional, and don’t take it as insurance advice for your particular situation.  I hope it inspires you to meet with an insurance professional and talk about your life insurance needs.

PT Barnum needed to move people out of his American Museum.  It was too full and he couldn’t sell more tickets, so he posted signs:  “This Way to the Egress!”.  People would follow the signs and when they stepped outside, they discovered the meaning of the Egress.

Fire safety recommends that you have two paths of egress in your house.  It’s an uncommon word, so it’s typically glazed over.  Or it seems too expensive to add a back stairwell, or you don’t want to put an ugly fire escape outside your house.  It seems like an impossible, or at least too difficult, proposition.

Did you know you can buy a collapsible ladder to put inside a window?  They store in a shoe-box sized container, but you can open the window, throw out the ladder and be out of the house in seconds.  And they cost a lot less than you think – $50 to $100 for a second story window.

So go to your local hardware store, or check online and get a few for your upstairs bedrooms.  And while you’re there, get a fire extinguisher.

October 31 is the most dangerous day of the year for child pedestrians.  So please be careful if you are driving or trick-or-treating this evening.

Vehicles cause more child injuries on Halloween than any other reason.  If you are driving, be hyper-vigilant.  A child can be excited about the candy they will get at the next house and forget to look before crossing the street.  Emphasize safety before you leave the house and keep your children close to you.

A child in a mask running across a yard will have difficulty seeing where they are going.  Keep your children on sidewalks and driveways to avoid obstructions.  Keep your yard and walkways well-lit so people can see where they are going.  Also make sure that costumes are trimmed and hemmed to avoid tripping.

 

 

Sandy is heading our way!  Hurricane Sandy is a storm that is currently passing through the Caribbean and will soon be heading up the Northeastern United States coastline.  Whether it goes inland or not, Central Pennsylvania will be getting lots of rain on Wednesday.   So I hope you can make plans this weekend to stay at home and do some preparation!

Check all the rain gutters and downspouts.  Make sure they are free of leaves and obstructions so water can quickly pass through, down and out of the system.  Downspouts should extend out from your house and deposit water at least three feet away in a spot that will drain away from your house.  If not, go to the hardware store for plastic extenders that can easily be installed by sliding over the downspout.

Is the ground around your house sloped away from the structure?  It might be too late to hire a backhoe and bulldozer, but make sure that any debris that might obstruct water flow is away from the house.

If your neighborhood or municipality has drains, make sure they are free from obstruction.  Remove any leaves, grass or other debris that could clog the drain or the underground piping.

The best way to keep rainwater out of your house is to keep it flowing away from your house.  Doing this work now will have the added benefit of partially preparing your house for winter!

Having inadequate insurance coverage is expensive.  If you can’t afford to fork out $1,000 when you have a claim, you need to have a lower deductible.  Also, if you can’t afford to buy a new car after an accident, you need to have comprehensive and collision coverage on your vehicle.  Saving a few dollars in premiums doesn’t help much when you suddenly have to pay a large amount of money after a claim.  Please contact me to schedule a review of your current insurance coverage to make sure it is appropriate for your current situtation.

But that isn’t the most expensive insurance policy ever.  Getting coverage by committing insurance fraud is even more expensive.  A Philadelphia, PA newspaper recently reported that a lady got collision and rental car coverage after an accident – while she was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

A conviction for insurance fraud will be on your record forever.  If you are lucky, you will only get a fine and no jail time.  Committing insurance fraud will make your insurance policy The Most Expensive Insurance Policy Ever.

If you bought a new house and moved leaving the old house vacant, you might get a cancellation notice from your Homeowners Insurance provider.  Your Homeowners Insurance providers expects you to continually live in the house and only leave it vacant for periods less than 30 days.  If a house is vacant for longer than that, the chance of a claim skyrockets.

If you are left in this situation you can cover your home with Vacant Property Insurance.  Because of the higher chance of a claim, the cost for insurance is higher.  In this situation, I typically get people set up on a monthly payment plan.  Hopefully the house will soon sell and you’ve only paid for a month or two of coverage.  Please contact me for more information on Vacant Properties and keeping them insured.

Have you ever looked around your house and wondered how you have accumulated so much stuff?  Do you ever think about how difficult it would be to replace everything at one time?  The “Personal Property” part of your homeowners insurance policy is there to provide cash to replace all of the possessions lost in a homeowners insurance claim.

When there is a loss of personal possessions in a homeowners insurance claim, the insurance company will ask what possessions you lost and the value. All you need to do is show the pictures you took or the list you made. What!?, you don’t have that?

Get a digital camera and start snapping. Open the kitchen cabinets and show the pots and pans, dishes and silverware, appliances, Tupperware and cookbooks. Open the closets and dressers to show how much clothing you have. Go into the basement and take pictures of all that stuff you just can’t get rid of. Go to the garage and take pictures of bikes, tools, sports equipment, and your mower. And take pictures of your chairs and couches, the computer, the TV, electronics and anything else. If anything has any particular or unique characteristics, be sure to capture that. Put all the photos in cloud storage (e.g., Dropbox.com, Google cloud, etc) so they will still be accessible even if your entire house is damaged.

Next, look at the insured amount for Personal Possessions on your homeowners insurance policy. Is it enough to cover everything in all of those pictures you just took? Do you have any Furs, Guns, Jewelry, Silverware, Antiques, Stamp or Coin collections or other valuable items? If you do, talk to your agent about adding itemized coverage to make sure those items are adequately covered for damage or theft.

Taking an inventory of your personal possessions is a big task, but well worth it. For more help, go to http://www.clearspanagency.com/links.php and click the link for the Home Inventory Checklist.