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!

Does your auto insurance extend coverage to a rental car?

A common auto insurance question this time of year is about purchasing rental car insurance from the rental car company.   While this varies, depending upon your carrier and your coverages, for some people there may be no need to purchase the rental car insurance from the rental car company.

DSCN0126For most of our carriers (including Erie, Allied, Allstate, Safeco, and Progressive) the coverages on a personal auto insurance policy extends to a rental car.  These coverage extensions include Liability, Un-Insured & Under-Insured Motorist, along with Comprehensive & Collision Coverages.

To be properly insured on a rental car you will need all of these coverages (many people refer to this as “Full Coverage”).   If you only have liability coverage on your auto (many people refer this to as PLPD) you will need to either increase your personal auto coverages to include comprehensive and collision coverage or purchase the rental car insurance from the rental car company.

The Deductibles Still Apply

Remember that if there is any type of damages to  the rental car that you’re deductible would still apply.   If the deductibles are $500 and there is any damage to the rental car, you may be out $500.  For this reason, we advise our clients to lower their deductibles while they are renting a car.Car Accident

It also a good practice when renting a car to do a complete inspection (inside and out) of the vehicle before driving away from the rental car company’s parking lot.  If you do find damage, quickly report the damage to one of their representative and document the damage by a picture, and then email that picture to yourself so that it is date stamped.

One Coverage Gap

If you elect to not purchase the rental car insurance from the rental car company and instead use your personal auto insurance coverages, there is one potential gap that you need to be aware of, “Loss of Use”.  Loss of Use would come into effect if the car is damaged and has to go to the shop to be repaired, and the rental car company has lost earnings by not having that car on the road being rented out.   It’s the rental car company’s “loss of use”, or lost income.

For example if the rental car company normally rents out your damaged car for $50 per day and it is in the shop for 10 days, they could say that they lost $500 in income ($50 x 10 days).  They will want you to pay that $500, and your personal auto insurance policy does not cover this.

If you have questions or doubts about what kind of coverages you have, call your agent and have the do a full policy review that includes how your personal auto coverage extends to rental cars.

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.

Replacement Value or Actual Cash Value

Do you have Replacement Value or Actual Cash Value? This is an important question that needs to asked when determining which insurance program is right for you.

ConfusionReplacement Value Insurance means that if your covered item is destroyed you will be paid the amount of money it takes to replace that item with a brand new item. There are a few caveats in each policy and you must subtract your deductible, but this is a good definition of Replacement Value.

Actual Cash Value Insurance (ACV) means that if your covered item is destroyed you will be paid the value of that item at the time of the occurrence. If your item is 10 years old the item will be depreciated accordingly and you will be paid the cash value of that item minus your deductible.

Here are two examples.

Your roof blows off of your house in a bad storm. You get an estimate of $15,000 to replace your roof.Limestone Tornado Damage

If you have Replacement Value Insurance with a $1,000 deductible the insurance company would pay the roofing contractor $14,000 and you would pay $1,000, the amount of your deductible.

If you have ACV with a $1,000 deductible the insurance company would then do some calculations to determine the value of your roof at the time of the occurrence. If your roof is 8 years old, they would depreciate the value of your roof by 8 years. They may determine that the cash value of your roof to be $11,000. The insurance company would then pay the roofing contractor $10,000 ($11,000 minus your deductible of $1,000), and you would pay the roofing contractor the remaining $5,000.

Here’s another example

Missing RoofIn that same scenario of the roof blowing off of your home, you have nearly all of your personal property damaged by rain water, hail damage, and wind.

If you have Replacement Value Insurance on your personal property the insurance company would calculate how much it would cost to replace the damaged personal property with new personal property of the same kind. If they determine that it is $100,000, you would be paid out that amount to replace your personal property. In this case the deductible was already paid through the roofing contractor.

If you have ACV on your personal propertyConcerned Woman the insurance company would then do some calculations to determine the cash value of your personal property at the time of the occurrence. You may only get $200 for your 10 year old couch, even though a new couch may cost $1,200. They may determine that your personal property had a cash value of $25,000 at the time of the occurrence. You would be paid out that amount to replace your personal property. Your deductible was already paid through the roofing contractor.

Summarizing these 2 example; if you had Replacement Value Insurance your insurance company would have paid out $114,000 (replacement of the roof and your personal property) and you would have had to pay out $1,000 (the amount of your deductible); and if you had ACV your insurance company would have paid out $35,000 (the ACV of the roof and your personal property minus your deductible) and you would have had to pay out $80,000 to replace your roof and personal property.

new roofReplacement Value Insurance cost about 10% more than ACV and there are some situation where ACV is called for. Some risks may not be eligible for Replacement Value Insurance because of the condition of the property, or the nature of the risk.

There are changes taking place in the insurance industry right now that you need to be aware of.  Some companies are changing the way that they pay out claims from what they may have done in the past. I am seeing deductibles increasing and policies that once had Replacement Value Insurance getting changed to ACV. Many HO3 polices have Replacement Value on the home but ACV on the personal property. Do you know what you have? logo3696786_mdIf you are unsure, contact your agent right away.

You can also contact Bragg Insurance Agency at 317-758-5828 for a free no obligation review of any of your insurance policies.