1. Your Coverage And Deductibles

Car insurance providers allow you to choose your deductible and decide whether to add additional coverage that isn’t necessarily required by the laws in your state. The specifics of your coverage and deductibles play a major role in your monthly payment.
Additional coverage gives you added financial protection, depending on the claim, but will also add to your monthly costs. Remember that while adjusting your deductible will affect your premiums, the differences in premiums are usually very small.

2. What You Drive

Some insurers increase premiums for cars more susceptible to damage, occupant injury, or theft, and lower rates for those that fare better than the norm.
Some SUVs, for example, rate highly in terms of driver protection and passenger protection, which means discounts on insurance. While some small cars will cost more because of their lower-than-average safety ratings and desirability to car thieves make them more expensive to insure.

3. How Often, And How Far, You Drive

People who use their car for business and long-distance commuting normally pay more than those who drive less. The more miles you drive in a year, the higher the chances of an accident – regardless of how safe a driver you are. If you reduce your total annual driving mileage enough, you may lower your premiums.

4. Where You Live

Generally, due to higher rates of vandalism, theft, and accidents, urban drivers pay more for car insurance than do those in small towns or rural areas.

5. Your Driving Record

Drivers who cause accidents generally must pay more than those who are accident-free for several years.
And even though you can’t rewrite your driving history, having an accident on your record can be an important reminder always to drive with caution and care. As time goes on, the effect of past accidents on your premiums will decrease.

6. Your Credit History

It has been shown certain credit information helps predict future insurance claims. Where applicable, many insurance companies use credit history to help determine the cost of car insurance. Maintaining good credit can have a positive impact on the cost of your car insurance.

7. Your Age, Sex, And Marital Status

Accident rates are higher for all drivers under age 25, especially young males and single males. Insurance prices in most states reflect these differences.
If you’re a student, you might also be in line for a discount. Most car insurers provide discounts to student-drivers who maintain good grades. In some states, younger drivers are also able to take driver safety courses that will lower premiums.
Your condo is more than a roof over your head: It’s your home. So make sure you understand the insurance requirements and coverage options for your unit.
Lender Requirements
Most mortgage lenders require proof of condo unit insurance before they approve a purchase. So if you are in the process of acquiring a condo, we highly recommend getting your insurance lined up as well.
Price Factors
Your condo unit policy’s price, or premiums, depends on two factors: the amount of coverage and the deductible. Less coverage and a high deductible mean lower premiums. More coverage and a low deductible mean higher premiums. Working with an agent that understands your situation will help ensure you have proper coverage and policy limits.
Master Policy And Unit Policy
Generally, a condo association insures the building and common elements under a single policy, called the master policy. This policy typically provides one of three kinds of coverage:
1. The basic building (walls, roof, floors, elevators), but not unit items (such as appliances, carpeting, cabinets, wall coverings) and in some cases not interior walls
2. The basic building and unit items, but not unit additions, alterations, or improvements made by you at your expense
3. The basic building and unit items, including additions, alterations, and improvements
When a master policy is in place, you will need to purchase an individual policy to cover the items and changes in your unit not covered by the association master policy. You may also want to consider coverage for damage to your unit not compensated because of the master policy deductible. Keep in mind that unit owner insurance responsibilities can vary widely.
For example, some associations may have no master policy, which shifts the responsibility for insuring the structure to the unit owners. Review your building’s insurance documents and bylaws early in the purchasing process to make sure you comply with all requirements and purchase adequate coverage for your home. If you would like assistance in this process, please feel free to reach out to our office.
Other Unit Policy Coverages
A typical condo unit policy also includes coverage for several other common items and situations:
1. Personal Property: In most cases, condo unit owners are responsible for insuring their possessions against theft, damage, or loss. Personal property coverage insures your clothes, furniture, electronic equipment, and other household items for their replacement value or their actual cash value (original price minus depreciation). Your property is usually covered whether it is in the unit or you have it with you when you are away from home.
2. Loss Of Use: This coverage applies if you temporarily have to live elsewhere because your condo was made uninhabitable by a fire or other covered peril. The policy will reimburse you for the portion of hotel bills, meals, laundry, and other living expenses that exceed what you would pay if you were living in your home.
3. Personal Liability: Liability coverage protects you if others make a claim or bring suit against you for physical injuries for which you are responsible. It also provides protection if you or a family member causes damage to others’ property.
Most insurance companies offer some sort of roadside assistance coverage as part of their personal auto insurance policies.  What does this coverage actually provide, though?  And, is it worth the cost?
Advantages of Roadside Assistance Coverage
By purchasing roadside assistance, most insurance customers can expect most of the following items to be included.  For specifics, we recommend looking at your policy or contact our office.
  • Towing — If your car breaks down, Roadside Assistance pays to tow it anywhere usually within like a 15-mile radius. It also pays to tow your car to the nearest qualified repair facility, even if it’s farther than 15 miles away.
  • Flat Tire Change — We’ll send a professional to you who can change your tire and put the spare on while you wait.
  • Locksmith Service — If your keys are lost, stolen or locked in the car, Roadside Assistance covers you. We’ll send a qualified service provider to help recover them. If the keys need replacing, you simply pay for the cost of the keys.
  • Battery Jump-Start — When your battery dies, we’ll come to you and jump-start it.
  • Emergency Fuel and Fluid Delivery — If you run out of gas, you can have fuel delivered to you. You simply pay for the cost of the fuel; delivery and service are free. Same goes if your car overheats: We’ll deliver the necessary fluids to get you running again, and you pay only the cost of the fluids.
Is Roadside Assistance a Good Value?
You could pay less than $15 for an entire six months of coverage when you choose Roadside Assistance for your car insurance policy. With just one emergency response, the coverage could easily pay for itself. You might pay around $200 to have your car towed to the nearest shop, but with Roadside Assistance, you pay nothing but your premium. Consider it financial protection from unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses.
If the smoke alarm goes off in your home, do you and your family have a fire escape plan?
Fire departments respond to approximately 370,000 home fires every year. And, while not all home fires are preventable, creating a fire-prevention plan can reduce the risk of fire in your home.
Check out the home fire prevention tips below to keep your home and family safe.
1. Sweep the chimney
Do this yearly to prevent the buildup of flammable creosote.
2. Install Smoke detectors
Place a smoke detector on every floor, and in or near every bedroom. Make sure to test the batteries regularly and change every six months.
3. Plan Fire escapes
Keep roll-out ladders near each window above the first floor for a safe escape in case of fire.
4. Be careful with space heaters
Place space heaters at least 3 feet away from other objects.
5. Use a Safe
Protect irreplaceable items and important documents in a safe that has an Underwriters Laboratory Rating of 125 or above.
6. Use a surge protector on electrical outlets
Use one surge protector per wall outlet to protect your electrical system and electronics.
7. Consider battery-operated candles
Rather than burning real candles, try battery-operated ones instead. If you do burn real candles, never leave them unattended.
8. Keep an eye on the stove
Don’t leave a hot stove while cooking. Stay in the kitchen, and avoid trying to multitask while cooking a meal.
9. Maintain your Fire extinguisher
Keep a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and replace it as often as the manufacturer recommends.
10. Practice Fire Drills
Run practice fire drills with your family to ensure that everyone knows which exits to use in case of an emergency.
Thanks to mobile phones, a vehicle breakdown is usually more of an inconvenience than a real danger. A quick call to a tow truck or roadside assistance service will usually get you to safety within a couple of hours. But technology can fail, and there are still parts of the country that aren’t covered by cellular service. So to make sure you’re prepared for an unexpected breakdown, keep these 6 items in your car at all times:
1. Jumper cables
Most people have jumper cables in their car, but many drivers don’t know how they work. Familiarize yourself with how to use jumper cables so you can get to work on time after leaving the dome light on all night.
2. Spare tire, tire iron and car jack
Spare tires and tire-changing equipment are also included in most new cars. Just as with the jumper cables, you should familiarize yourself with how to change a tire, even if you plan to use roadside assistance when you have a flat. Flat tires are the most common cause of breakdowns, and you should know how to change a tire if help is unavailable.
3. Blanket or sleeping bag
For more serious situations, keep a warm blanket or sleeping bag in your car. This is essential to keeping your body temperature up during the cold months while waiting for help to arrive.
4. Drinking water
Along with keeping warm, staying hydrated is an essential element of survival. Keep clean drinking water in smaller plastic containers, which will thaw faster with a little body heat in the winter than large gallon jugs.
5. Mobile phone and charger
A charged mobile phone is your best chance at getting out of a serious situation. Whether you’ve been injured after a crash, or your car simply stopped working, being able to call for help when you need it is essential.
6. Emergency lighting
You shouldn’t assume that every breakdown will happen during the day. Road flares or reflectors can keep you safe on the side of the road by making you visible to oncoming traffic and emergency vehicles. And a flashlight with extra batteries can be a lifesaver if you’re changing a tire or jumping a battery after dark.
By keeping these 6 items in your vehicle, you’ll be able to handle most roadside emergencies throughout the year.
Like any home, you fill your rented place with all kinds of stuff, from furniture and appliances, to photos and outfits. You spend your time and money making it your own and making it comfortable…but did you make sure it’s covered?
Many renters think their landlord’s insurance covers their stuff if there was a break in, a little water damage, or a fire…but that’s not the case. Landlord insurance only covers the property and the landlord’s interests. Your personal property is your responsibility, and without proper coverage you could be left with the bill replacing things after a loss.
Homeowners across the country buy homeowners insurance to cover their personal property from damage, theft, and all kinds of losses. As a renter, you face many of the same risks as homeowners.  For example, what if the pilot light on your stove malfunctioned and started a fire while you were at work, destroying your TV, your furniture, your clothes…everything. How would you replace those lost items?
As a renter, how do you cover your personal property from loss? Renters Insurance.
Renters insurance works much the same way Homeowners insurance does…except it’s tailored to renters. It works to cover your:
  • Personal possessions – coverage for your things (clothes, furniture, electronics, etc.) up to your coverage limit after your deductible.
  • Personal liability – coverage if you’re ever legally responsible for an injury or property damage.
  • Medical payments – coverage for medical expenses if someone (other than a resident) gets hurt in an accident at your place.
  • Additional Living Expenses – coverage for extra temporary living expenses if your place is damaged and becomes uninhabitable.
It Fills Coverage Gaps
Renters insurance can also fill gaps left by your other policies, like your Auto insurance. Let’s say, for instance that you leave your laptop in your car one night after work.  You come out the next day to a broken window and a laptop-less car.  While the window might be covered by your auto insurance, most policies don’t cover personal items left inside. But Renters does! In this case, your Renters insurance could help replace your stolen laptop.
It’s really affordable
Renters insurance is incredibly cheap! Most policies (depending upon selected coverages) only cost $15 – $30 per month.
If your car’s totaled, most car insurance companies reimburse you for the actual cash value of your car, not the replacement cost. Let’s review the difference.
Actual cash value vs. replacement cost
Actual cash value (or ACV) is calculated by determining an item’s original value minus the amount it has depreciated after you bought it . Replacement cost, on the other hand, is the amount of money necessary to replace damaged, destroyed, or stolen property with a new item.
We’ll use an example scenario* to help explain the difference. Imagine you buy a car for $25,000. You drive it without incident for 5 years when suddenly bam! A disoriented deer runs out into traffic and into your path. Don’t worry, you and the deer are okay. Unfortunately, your car is totaled.
You file a claim with your insurance company and are relieved to learn that deer run-ins fall under comprehensive coverage. That coverage, however, will pay for the car you have now, not the car you had 5 years ago. And after 5 years of standard wear and tear alone, your car’s probably worth around $9,000.
How actual cash value is determined
Of course, all cars lose value as they age, but not all cars age equally. If your car is totaled, the insurance company considers the condition the car was in just before the accident, including mileage, option packages, and overall physical condition (think peeling paint, torn seats, rust … anything that’s not a direct result of the accident).
In some cases, you may be reimbursed for things like title fees, registration fees, and sales tax. But this varies by situation and state, so it’s best to get the details from your insurer. Once your insurance company determines a settlement amount, they’ll subtract your deductible before paying out your claim.
But what if your car’s leased or financed? Sometimes what you owe on the lease is more than the car’s ACV. Good thing there’s a coverage for that!
Loan/lease coverage
Let’s go back to your shiny, new $25,000 car. This time, rather than buying it outright, you decide to lease it. You put $1,000 down, leaving you with $24,000 to pay off.
Several months later, that same distracted deer dashes onto the highway and totals your car.
Your car insurance company will pay the actual cash value of your car, which has a new value after standard wear and tear depreciation of $20,000. That’s a nice chunk of change under normal circumstances, except, according to your last loan statement, you still owe $23,000 on your car! That leaves $3,000 — plus your $500 deductible — for you to cover out of pocket.
Loan/lease gap helps cover some of the difference between what you owe on your car and what your car insurance covers. It’s common for insurance companies to cover 90 percent of the difference. If you’re an Esurance policyholder and you purchase this coverage, it’ll pay up to 25 percent of the car’s ACV.** In the scenario above, 25 percent of $20,000 is $5,000 (but, of course, you’d receive only $3,000 since that’s what you owe).
Gap coverage doesn’t include expenses like unpaid finance charges or excess mileage charges, but it can help rescue you from dipping into that vacation fund to cover the rest of your lease.
If you’re considering adding this coverage to your car insurance policy, check your loan agreement first. Many finance companies automatically include it as part of your lease contract, which means you may already be covered.
As a homeowner, it can be easy to overlook important home maintenance, but with winter approaching, there’s one task in particular you’ll want to complete. And that’s getting your furnace in tip-top shape.
That bulky metal box in your basement (or crawl space, attic, or even hall closet, depending on where you live) is what produces the warm air that keeps your house cozy, making it possibly the most important piece of winter equipment in your home.
The good news is that furnace maintenance is relatively easy: a combination of simple do-it-yourself tasks and an annual tune-up by a professional. Here’s how to get it done.
Furnace Tasks You Can Do
Inspect the air filters. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program suggests doing a monthly check of your furnace’s air filter and replacing it when it looks dirty. Frequent changes prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris, which can reduce efficiency and lead to equipment failure. Changing the filter is especially important if you’re new to the home—who knows what dust and grime others left behind? Tip: To make sure you’re buying the right filter, check your existing one; the size is usually printed on the side.
Maintain a carbon monoxide detector. A failing furnace can leak carbon monoxide, so you’ll want to keep a battery-operated or battery-backup carbon monoxide detector in your basement (and every level of your home), according to the National Fire Protection Organization, placing it at least 15 feet away from the furnace to avoid a false alarm. Tip: Change detector batteries in the spring and fall, on daylight saving day, when you change your clocks.
Keep vents clean and clear. Before you turn on your system for the season, remove all the heating vent covers from the floors and ceilings around your home, and vacuum out the ducts. Dust, pet dander, and all those toy soldier pieces that seemingly go missing can collect there, causing your furnace to work harder. Tip: When cleaning ceiling vents spread a sheet on the floor and wearing goggles to shield your eyes from falling dust.
Tasks Best Left to the Professionals
Annual tune-up. A pre-season checkup by a professional is an absolute must to help prevent costly problems down the road. A heating contractor will make sure that your thermostat is working accurately and that your system is cycling on and off properly, and will typically go through a series of checks and tasks, including:
  •          Tightening loose electrical connections
  •          Oiling all the moving parts
  •          Inspecting all gas connections

There are many reasons you might want to rent out your home on either a short- or long-term basis. Depending on the rental scenario, your standard homeowners policy may not cover losses incurred while your home is rented out, and you may require a more specialized insurance policy.

Short-Term Rentals/Primary Residence

If you are planning to rent out all or part of your primary residence for a short period of time, for instance, a week or several weekends, there will likely be two insurance scenarios.

  1. Some insurance companies may allow a homeowners or renters policyholder  a short-term rental—assuming they have notified the company. Other insurers will require an endorsement (or rider) to the existing insurance policy in order to provide insurance coverage.
  2. If you plan to rent out your primary residence for short periods on a regular basis, to various “guests.” this would constitute a business. Standard homeowners insurance policies do not provide any coverage for business activities conducted in the home. To be properly covered you would need to purchase a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed and breakfast policy.

Long-Term Rentals/Second Home

If you are planning to lease your home to one person or a couple or family for a longer period of time, say six months or a year, you will likely need a landlord or rental dwelling policy. Landlord policies generally cost about 25 percent more than a standard homeowners policy to pay for increased protections. If you are regularly renting out a vacation home or investment property, this would also require a landlord or rental dwelling policy.
Landlord policies provide property insurance coverage for physical damage to the structure of the home caused by fire, lightning, wind, hail, ice, snow or other covered perils. It also offers coverage for any personal property you may leave on-site for maintenance or tenant use, like appliances, lawnmowers, and snow blowers.
The policy also includes liability coverage; if a tenant or one of their guests gets hurt on the property, it would cover legal fees and medical expenses.
Most landlord policies provide coverage for loss of rental income in the event you are not able to rent out the property while it is being repaired or rebuilt due to damage from a covered loss. This coverage is generally provided for a specific period of time.

Renters Insurance

As the landlord, your coverage is only on the structure itself and your financial interest in it. Your tenant’s personal possessions are not covered under your policy. In order to avoid disputes arising from damage to the renter’s belongings, many landlords require a tenant to buy renters insurance before signing a lease.

New Year’s Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes.
Unfortunately, while most New Year’s resolutions are made with vigor and hope, most people don’t make it past the first month with their resolutions.
With the following infographic, we wanted to take a look at the most common New Year’s resolutions, how likely they are to be abandoned, and what you can do to stick to your goals.
For example, did you know that happiness affects your ability to keep your resolutions?  Or that smaller, more manageable resolutions have a much higher chance for success?
Please take a few moments to explore the attached infographic to hopefully find a little insight and/or inspiration as you are setting your own goals for the New Year.