Top 10 Things to Review with Your Insurance Agent

Once again, it’s a new year. January is a great time of year to reflect back on the previous year while we make plans and preparing for upcoming year.start-line-3449607_960_720

I like to look back into my checkbook register from the previous year to see where I spent my money. This is a good indication of what I did and where my heart was. I’m always surprised by some meaningful things that I did during the course of the year that I forgot about. I’m also surprised by how much everything cost these days.

Because It’s easy to forget about some decisions that we’ve made and today’s cost of living I highly recommend that you review your insurance coverages with your agent at least once per year. It’s an exercise that can take as little as 15 minutes but may end up saving you thousands of dollars.

Top 10 things to review with your Insurance Agent

  1. Life Insurance Face Amount – You are your family’s most important asset, if you are gone your incomes goes with you. Make sure that you understand the type of life insurance that you have, the face amount and any expiration dates that they policy may have.
  2. Discounts – When reviewing your coverages with your agent be sure to ask if you have received every available discount .
  3. Best Company for you? – If you are working with an independent insurance agency (I highly recommend) be sure to ask if the company you are with is the best company for you. I think it’s a good idea to shop your insurance every couple of year to make sure you are getting the best coverages at the best possible price.
  4. Auto Insurance Bodily Injury Liability Coverage – Probably the biggest risk you take is when you drive.  If you injure or kill someone while driving the medical expenses can be devastating.  Be sure you understand how much coverage you have and purchase as much as you can afford.  Car Accident
  5. Personal Liability Coverage – As a part of your homeowners insurance policy, personal liability coverage is very inexpensive. Normally the minimum coverage amount is $100,000 but increasing this coverage to $500,000 may cost as little as $20 per year. If you have a large liability loss, a good attorney may cost $100,000 so increasing this amount may be important.
  6. Homeowners Dwelling Coverage – Be sure that your homeowner dwelling coverage is for Replacement Cost and Comprehensive Perils. Also, be sure that your dwelling amount is enough to completely rebuild your home. If you are unsure about the amount, ask your agent for a copy of the Evaluation Tool (MSB) used to arrive at your dwelling amount.
  7. Personal Property Coverage – It is difficult to arrive at a replacement value for all of your personal property. Review that number with your agent and purchase the most coverage that you can afford. Be sure that your personal property coverage includes Replacement Cost and Comprehensive Perils.
  8. Jewelry, Guns & Collectible – While your personal property coverage amount may be enough coverage for your jewelry, guns and collectibles, most homeowners insurance companies limit the amount that you can collect for these items. Be sure to discuss these items with your agent and make sure that you have enough coverage.
  9. Deductibles – Make sure you know and understand how your deductibles work. Your homeowner’s insurance policy may have separate deductibles for separate events. Your auto insurance policies may also have different deductible amount forred-48797_960_720 comprehensive and collision claims.
  10. Other Structure Coverage Amount – If you have a barn, a large building, or any other structure that is not attached to your home, make sure those outbuildings have enough coverage incase of a tornado, fire or unexpected event.

Of course if you ever need help understanding your coverages we at Bragg Insurance Agency are always happy to help.  Bragg Insurance, your friends in the insurance business.

Don’t Set It & Forget It

KneeI got good news today from my doctor, telling me that instead of the surgery I was dreading for my worn out knees, that I likely just need Physical Therapy (PT).  For many reasons this is welcomed news as well as an eye opener for me.

The reason for the PT is because years ago I had my knees operated on and then I just moved on with life.  I failed to do any PT after the surgery and the muscles in my legs never fully recovered.  I just moved on and forgot about it.

The bad news is that my knees are now weak and in bad need of PT, the good news is that I can now do something about it.  I met with a physical therapist and he has me on a plan to help me strengthen my knees that will help improve my life.

The attitude that I had about my knees reminds me of the attitudes some people have  toward their insurance plan.

Insurance AgentThey meet with an insurance person once, purchase a policy and then move on with life.  They “Set it and Forget it.”

Insurance is not a “Set it and Forget It”.  It is important that you review your coverages with your agent at least every 12 months.  Another important time to review your coverages is when you have a “Life Event”, such as a wedding, a new driver, or a new room addition to your house.

Don’t treat your insurance plan like I did my knees.  Take the time to review your coverages as often as necessary with your agent.  Life changes and your insurance needs will change with your life.

Insurance Video Library Now Open!

 

Bragg Insurance Agency is excited to announce the opening of our video information Library!  This new tool developed for Bragg Insurance Agency clients will help to answer many of your questions about how your insurance coverages work.  insurance-agent

To visit the Insurance Video Library you can click on the following link.  http://myinsurancevideos.com/all-videos/braggins/

We are hopeful that these 36 videos will help our community to make great decisions about their insurance coverages!

Types of Auto Insurance

A common question that we get in the agency is, “What is the difference between liability only and full coverage?”  This is a difficult question to answer because the terms, “liability only” and “full coverage” are relative terms, meaning different things to different people.  At Bragg Insurance Agency our job is to open up the discussion with the client about their coverage so that we can fulfil their expectations.  Communication is the key.

This video does a great job of discussing the different types of coverages that you can have in an auto insurance policy. auto

When Optimisim is a Negative

“It won’t happen to me is not a good insurance program”

It’s quite amazing how many optimistsglass-half-full-233x300 that I run into on a daily basis. I too am a “glass half full” person, so I truly understand the optimistic mindset. While I consider myself to be a positive person I cannot hold a candle to some of the idealistic thinkers that cross my path. Recently I’ve been putting these Utopian-minded folks into 3 categories.

The Immortals – This group is the most sanguine. They are a confident group that thinks that they cannot die. They are usually young and believe that their youth and positive buoyant attitude will keep death at bay. They go about their day to day activities on cloud nine ignoring pessimistic thoughts such as death, and responsibilities.

Unfortunately “The Immortals” do die, and many times way too young. Sometimes they leave behind a family with both emotional and financial voids. They leave behind mortgages, motorcycle payments, car payments, children, spouses, and extra expenses related to their funeral.

The Conscientious Optimist – This group of optimists are so meticulous that an accident could never happen to them. They are superb drivers, their homes are danger free zones and they never take risks –Never! When they drive they are able to look 3 and 4 moves ahead of everyone else and they can actually read the minds of other drivers. These clairvoyant powers keep them out of the path of drunk drivers and they are able to spot deer before they look into the headlights.

Unfortunately just as Superman’s weakness was kryptonite, even The Conscientious Optimist is susceptible to accidents. A car sometimes appears out of nowhere, someone hits their vehicle when it’s parked in a parking lot, or they only looked away for a second and that’s when the accident happened.

The Optimistic Procrastinator – Normally procrastination is associated as a negative word, but I’ve come to realize that Procrastinators are actually very positive people. They believe beat_procrastinationthat they can wait until the very last minute to take care of a duty or a task. Some of their most often used words are, “I meant to”, or “I was just getting ready to do that”, or “there’s plenty of time to do that later”

Unfortunately for the procrastinator his optimistic view of time often times runs out. His “meant to” turns into never did, and his “I was just getting ready to do that” turns into never got it done. The thing the optimistic procrastinator doesn’t realize is that when time runs out, his good intentions aren’t worth a hill of beans. He was derelict in his duties and responsibilities in spite of his good intentions.

pic-lhb-familyWe optimists are funny people. We really do see the glass as half full. But we also need to be aware of a balancing truth. We are not immortal, we do not have a magic force field around us protecting us from accidents, and we are not promised tomorrow.

So why not rather be an optimist that is prepared for the future? Live life to the fullest, but be prepared in case it’s your last day. Be a conscientious person that avoids all accidents, but have a plan in case the unexpected happens. Today, stop putting off those “meant to do” items and get them done today.

Brian Bragg owns and operates Bragg Insurance Agency and can be emailed at brian@bragginsurance.com

2014 Insurance Planning

Greeting the New Year is one of my favorite events. Beautiful-Happy-New-Year-2014-HD-Wallpapers-by-techblogstop-1It’s a time when I can reflect back at what has transpired over the past 12 months, and set goals and plans for what I hope to accomplish over the year. It’s a time when I can free myself of the past year’s failures and shortcomings, while I celebrate my accomplishments and prepare to be my best in the New Year.

Some people will resolve to lose weight or quit smoking in the New Year. I would imagine that a lot will sit down at the kitchen table with pen and paper in hand to do some financial goal planning. You’re planning to pay off that pesky credit card, or maybe you’re planning on putting in that swimming pool that you’ve always wanted.

Insurance AgentWith this in mind, let me suggest that the New Year is also an excellent time to review all of your insurance needs with your insurance agent. Insurance is not a “set it and forget it” financial product. It’s a financial product that needs to be continually maintained. As our lives change so do our insurance needs.

As you probably know, there are many changes imagesMAO8Q7F8taking place in insurance right now, and not just in health insurance, but also in home and auto. Premium rates are increasing and coverages are decreasing. You’ve probably noticed the increasing premiums, but did you know that your coverages may not be as good as they once were?

I thought that I was covered is not an insurance program. Make an annual insurance review part of your new year’s financial strategy. You will be glad that you did.

 

Has Your Deductible Changed Without Your Knowledge?

For the past several years homeowner’s insurance companies in Indiana have been losing money, primarily because of wind and hail claims. Storm patterns in recent years have pelted the Midwest with wind and hail related claims that reach into the $ billions. In fact many insurance companies are paying out 2 dollars in claims, for every dollar they receive in premium.Hail-damage-house-OK-6-2011-lg

This has been the primary reason the industry has seen such an increase in homeowners insurance premiums over the past few years. While this trend is not likely to end any time soon, some insurance companies are also changing the way they pay out claims.

Traditionally a homeowner’s policy has a dollar amount named as the deductible. That amount is subtracted from the amount of the claim. For example, if the policy has a $1,000 deductible and there is a $5,000 claim, the insurance company would pay out $4,000.

However there is a trend in the industry that has some companies changing their deductibles from a dollar amount to a percentage, especially if the claim has been caused by wind or hail.

Hand over your moneyI recently spoke to a married couple who had damage to their roof caused by the outbreak of tornadoes we experienced in the month of November. They called their insurance company to file a claim, and discovered that their deductible for a wind claim is 10% of their dwelling value. Their dwelling value is $360,000 which made their deductible $36,000. Needless to say they ended up having to pay for the repairs to their roof out of their own pocket.

Did you catch that? Their deductible was $36,000 for wind and hail damages!

Unfortunately many other companies are following suit. Some very large and well-known insurance companies are changing their wind and hail deductibles to a % and most of their clients are unaware of the change. Often times clients are only notified of this change within the mountain of paperwork they receive in the mail from the company at the policies renewal.

Let’s face it; most people do not have the time to sift through that much paperwork. They file it away and assume that the coverages have remained the same.

The example given above of a 10% deductible is the most extreme case that I have seen. More frequently I am seeing wind and hail damage deductibles changing from a dollar amount to 1% or 2% of the dwelling coverage. 1% or 2% of the dwelling is still a significant amount of money to pay out of pocket at the stressful time of a claim.take action

Protect yourself.

1. Review your documents. Take the time to review the documents when you receive information in the mail from your insurance company. If you do not understand the language or have questions, take the policy to your agent and have them explain the coverages.

annual review2. Insist on an annual review. Your agent should be sitting down with you on an annual basis to review your coverages and to answer your questions. There are too many changes taking place in the homeowner’s insurance arena right now to ignore the paperwork and hope for the best.

3. Educate yourself. Too often times I hear people say that they paid their premium so the assumed everything was OK. Don’t turn a blind eye to your insurance coverages. Insurance is expensive so you should do you best to make sure that you understand what you are paying for.