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It’s that time of year when each of us resolves to make improvements – whether we call then “New Year’s Resolutions” or not. As you think about the upcoming year, why not consider things you might commit to doing to help maintain your financial safety?

Since your insurance portfolio helps protect your financial well-being, we thought we would suggest some resolutions that should help you to avoid the most likely insurance claims that could arise – whether with your home, your car or, indeed, your life.

Stop inviting car thieves.

If you park your car to run an errand, it’s tempting to assume that you don’t need to lock your car or take your keys, but that would be a dangerous assumption. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that a vehicle was reported stolen once every 45 seconds in the United States during 2015, and there was a theft every 6.5 minutes in which the keys or the electronic FOB had been left inside the vehicle. The occurrence of this type of auto theft is up 31% since 2013.

You can stop inviting car theft by always locking your car when you leave it and taking all keys/FOBs as well as the garage door opener with you. Don’t store your registration or other personal information in your glove box, and make it a habit to remove all personal items of value at all times.

Such thefts can be very costly to you. Thieves have been known to steal a car find the address on your registration and burglarize the house before anyone knows the car has been stolen. In addition, depending on your insurance coverage, the theft might not be covered; in this case, you would be facing the cost to replace your vehicle out of pocket. It is wise to have a chat with your insurance agent to learn what your insurance

Create a home inventory.

In the wake of a natural disaster or perhaps a fire, unexpected property damage can be extensive, and you would be overwhelmed as you file an insurance claim if you are not able to provide details about all that was lost. If you don’t have a detailed list of your property’s furnishings and your personal belongings, then the claims process could be difficult. The Insurance Information Institute reports that only half of homeowners surveyed in 2016 said they had a home inventory, but such an inventory will allow you to support your claim. 

Consider the Know Your Stuff inventory tool provided free from the Insurance Information Institute. It walks you through the process and allows you to collect details about all of your belongings along with pictures and video. Then, using the tool, you can store your inventory in the cloud so that there is no danger of having it damaged at home.

Stay in the kitchen while you're cooking.

At times, when cooking, you might be distracted by a phone call, a knock at the door or something else, and you might believe it is safe to leave the kitchen briefly. But leaving the kitchen unattended when cooking can result in a fire being ignited very rapidly from one of many sources. Something on top of the stove could boil over and begin to burn or a cloth set too close to the heat source could smolder and suddenly ignote. Something in the over could erupt or explode and begin to burn.

If you are in the kitchen with a fire extinguisher at hand which you are trained to use, then you might handle such a cooking fire; but if you are more than a step away, such a fire would be out of control before you could return to the room.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking fires are the top cause of both home fires and home injuries, and by far the leading cause of such fires is unattended cooking. You can help avoid the inconvenience of a common insurance claim by staying in the kitchen when you cook and checking all appliances before you leave when cooking is completed..

Improve your credit.

In most states, your insurance company determines your auto insurance premium based on a number of factors – not the least of which utilizes data held in your credit record such as outstanding debt, collections, payment history, length of credit history. According to Consumer Reports, your credit history has more effect on your insurance rates than even your driving record.

In fact this credit-based insurance scoring is only banned or limited in a very small handful of states.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, many insurers find credit-based insurance scoring to be important and statistically-valid in predicting how high a risk you are perceived to be in terms of the calculated probability that you will file a claim and the likely cost of that claim. 

Advise your life insurance beneficiaries

You might assume that in the event of your death, sudden or not, all details related to your estate would be taken care of; but that would be incorrect. A lot depends on who is handling your affairs, so you will want to confirm who that would be and make sure they are positioned to take care of all items.

Moreover, letting your life insurance beneficiaries know where to file a claim if you die could also put your mind at ease. Many times, a beneficiary will not pursue a payout from a life insurance policy because they are unable to locate the insurance policy, assuming they even know it exists. The fact is that they only need to know which insurer you bought the policy from in order to start the process of filing a claim.

Read your insurance policies.

Long before you need to file an insurance claim, you should know the scope of your insurance coverage. To do that, you’ll need to take the time to read thoroughly and understand your policy, its endorsements, etc.

When reading your health insurance policy, start with the summary of benefits and also pay attention to the copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. When reviewing your auto insurance and home insurance policies, focus on the declarations page and be sure to fully read all information about the limits and deductibles of your policy. Be sure to direct any questions to your own insurance agent who should be able to explain any items that are not clear to you.

The scope of your insurance coverage and options depend entirely upon the policy and the insurance company providing it.  This website is not intended to advise, offer or bind coverage.  You should always discuss your insurance issues with professionals such as a licensed and qualified insurance agent before making any decisions or choosing a course of action.  Ewing Hines & Associates is a full-service insurance agency offering auto insurance for your vehicle, home insurance for homeowners, renters and condo dwellers, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to all of Maryland (MD), Virginia (VA), Washington DC since 1960. Our experienced insurance agents at our office in Kensington, MD welcome your inquiries and are glad to discuss your coverage needs at any time.

Monday, 16 January 2017 05:19

This is the time of year when, it seems, everyone is tying the knot -- strolling into wedded bliss.  All the checklists and plans are underway, and dreams of the wedding march and the honeymoon dance in your head.  But does that checklist include the possible changes to your insurance portfolio as you join two lives and become a couple?  Will you need different financial protection?  What will managing two careers as a couple mean for you?  How will merging two households affect you?

Do your future plans depend upon two incomes?  If so, your lifestyle will reflect that.  You will have expenses that you have not yet anticipated, and perhaps you have existing education loans or even medical bills to pay.  Then there's retirement... yes, it seems so far away, but who knows what the future will bring? Will you buy a home?  Will you start a family?  In fact, one never knows what life holds in store, so it is important to make plans now to protect what you have and what you expect to have.

If the worst happens and tragedy strikes in the future, having started a life insurance policy now could ensure that the surviving spouse is protected.  There are two types of life insurance policies: term which expires and permanent (whole life) which does not. Life insurance is a popular financial planning tool which is much, much more than just a way to pay ones final expenses; and the younger you are when you establish your policy, the less you will pay in premiums and the greater the financial benefit will be, no matter how you decide to use it. Check out Life Insurance details here on our website to find out all the options and prepare to be surprised.

You might already have decided whether you will rent or own your first home.  If you intend to own a house, then your realtor or banker might already have spoken to you about homeowners insurance which will cover your investment if your home is damaged and will also protect you if someone else files a claim for injury or damage for which you are responsible. In fact, homeowners insurance might also cover your own belongings if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen.  If you will be a condo owner, then you will find the terms of your insurance somewhat different; and if you will be renting your home, the terms will be still more different. You can find out the differences and all you need to know about Homeowners Insurance, Condo Insurance and Renters Insurance here on our website.

Just as you merge your households, you will likely own at least two vehicles, as a couple. The good news is as a married couple, you might expect to pay a somewhat lower auto insurance rate, and there might be other discounts that you need to know as well.  If you both are already using the same insurance company and the same insurance agent, it could be easier to arrange for the best rates and the best coverage for your new lifestyle.  If, however, you use separate companies and agents, then it is worthwhile to schedule a review of your policies to see which company offers you the best rates and terms before making any changes.  If you need to brush up on your auto insurance knowledge before you meet with the insurance agent, you'll find all you need to know here on our website.

So while you might feel overwhelmed with all the details to be handled before you take that walk down the aisle, you can understand why reviewing your insurance needs is one item that should not be left off your list.

Best of luck for a long a happy life together!

In future posts, we will discuss other important things for newlyweds to consider and also take a look at the challenges that we face in other stages of life.  So stay tuned...

 

Saturday, 20 February 2016 17:41

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