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.

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!

Surviving the Polar Vortex

imagesR5MFAI7EAs we take the polar bear plunge into the depths of winter, not only do we have to be concerned about keeping our bodies warm, but we also need to take precautions for our homes.  Indiana homes are especially susceptible to the cold weather with snowfalls along with periods of melting and then freezing, and then melting and then freezing….etc.  This freezing and thawing can inflict considerable damage to our homes.

So, here are some tips and steps that you can take to protect your home from these periods of freezing and melting temperatures.

  • Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.
  • Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Keep gutters free of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house.
  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.untitled
  • If you own a swimming pool and temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, run the pool pump at night to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed. The door leading to the house is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door.
  • If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break and fall because of ice, snow or wind and damage your house, a car, or injure someone walking near your property.
  • If you use fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters, watch them closely and make sure they are working properly.
  • Remember to close the flue in your fireplace when you’re not using it.
  • If you have to leave your home on a trip, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly. If there is a problem with frozen pipes or water leakage, attending to it quickly could mean far less damage.
  • If you plan to be away for an extended period of time (or if temperatures are expected to remain below freezing), have the water system, including pool plumbing, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.

imagesY2XG7Y0UIf the worst has occurred and you have a problem with your home related to the winter weather, here are some other helpful suggestions.

  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Call your agent or company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, he or she will want to inspect any damaged items.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.
  • Make a list of the damaged articles.
  • Save the receipts for what you spend—including additional living expenses if you must leave your home until repairs are completed—and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

A standard homeowner’s policies will cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.

However, most policies do not cover backups in sewers and drains or flood damage, which can also happen in winter. To be covered for flooding, you need a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, while coverage for sewers and drains is generally offered as an endorsement to a standard homeowner’s insurance policy.

If your home suffers water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to prevent any potential problem with mold. Remember, mold cannot survive without moisture.

Check with your agent or company so you’ll be sure what your policy covers.

Source Insurance Information Institute

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

Spring Storms Can Bring Scam Artists

Watch for Scams after a Storm

Concerned WomanAs winter winds down and we draw closer to Spring you will begin to hear the importance of being prepared for the Springtime storms. As everyone knows we are at a greater risk for Tornados and serious wind and hail storms in the Spring and Fall.

These storms can turn your home and your life upside down. If your home is damaged in a storm you are eager to get your home repaired as quickly as possible so that you can get your life back to normal. It’s during this time of eagerness that you can become victim to another “natural disaster”, a scam artist.

Most contractors are reputable business people. But each year, there are a few dishonest ones who chase storms from state to state. They will try to convince you that you have hail or other damage and that you need a new roof when in fact you really don’t. They’ll ask to be hired for the work, explaining that your insurance company will pay for the repairs.th7JGJ1NLC

Most homeowner’s insurance policies will cover damage caused by hail and windstorms, but they will not cover the cost to replace a roof or siding when no damage has occurred. It is always recommended that you obtain a second and even a third opinion before starting any contract work.

What you can do?

If you’re beginning to repair or rebuild after a storm, or even if you are just planning a home improvement project, keep these tips, recommended by the Federal FEMAEmergency Management Agency, in mind for choosing contractors wisely:
• Get more than one estimate.
• Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away.
• Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed.
• Check references before deciding which contractor to choose.
• Never sign a contract with blanks.
• Don’t pay a contractor in full until the work is complete.
• Check with county or city licensing authorities to see if the contractor is licensed in your jurisdiction, as well as checking for complaints with their regional Better Business Bureau.

Contact your local independent agent.

If you need suggestions about who to hire or how to repair your home after a storm, your local independent agent can help you contact an insurance claims adjuster. Most insurance carriers have professional claims adjusters who are trained to assess your property, identify storm damage and prepare an estimate for proper repair. They can also provide recommendations for reliable, licensed contractors in your area—although the final choice of contractor is always yours.

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.