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.

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.

 

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.

The Umbrella Policy

What if the unthinkable happened to you?  You were the cause of a major accident that caused death or serious injury.  Would your insurance liability coverage be enough to cover the injured parties expenses, and protect your from financial ruin?Auto%20Accident%20C

For the vast majority of people the answer is “No”, but the umbrella policy can help you change that.

The umbrella policy starts at $1,000,000 in liability coverage and it covers your excess liability over your auto and homeowners insurance limits.

This means that if you auto insurance liability limit is $250,000 per person; with the umbrella policy in place you will then have $1.25 Million in liability coverage.  If your homeowner’s liability limit is $500,000; with the umbrella policy in place you will then have $1.5 Million in liability coverage.

Do you really need that much coverage?

If you are the cause of a serious accident you will suddenly be thrust into a “perfect storm” of financial ruin.  The combination of high medical expenses, attorney’s fees, and a “sue happy” society could cost you’re your life’s savings, future earnings, and equity that you have built in your home.

How much does it cost? 

Fortunately this type of coverage it is very affordable.  It varies from person to person, but I typically see a premium range of $200 to $300 per year.  $25 per month is not a lot of money to protect everything that you’ve worked for your whole life, especially in light of how much we spend for gas, cable TV, and dining out.

Yellow HouseWho needs an Umbrella Policy?

As an agent it is vitally important that I get to know my clients as best as possible.  This helps to recognize different risks associated with their occupation, hobbies, and life style.

I recommend this coverage to all of my clients, but I strongly recommend this coverage to people who have occupations that make them more susceptible to law suits, such as people who work with children.  It is my opinion that every teacher, Sunday school teacher, bus driver, day care worker, and little league coach have the umbrella policy as part of their insurance portfolio.Brian Bragg compressed

I also strongly recommend this coverage to people that have money that they want to protect.  Equity in homes, savings accounts, retirement accounts, future earnings, and other assets are all at risk when there is a serious accident.

For more information on the umbrella policy or to review your coverages, contact Bragg Insurance Agency.