Make Your Next Claim Easier with These 4 Tips

Even when you are insured, claiming for minor mishaps and small collisions can be a major stress to handle. However, there are ways to make it easier. Follow these four tips to make your next claim a breeze.

Keep it together

Put all your insurance documents, from policy to ID cards, in one place, and make sure you keep checking that they’re there. Don’t move them unless absolutely necessary. Keep auto insurance documents in your glove compartment for easy access in case of a collision.

Know what you’ve got

Make sure you’re aware and up to date on your insurance policy. What are the policy details? What can and can’t you claim? Knowing this before you call your insurance agent will make the process easier.

Gather information

If you’ve already done your homework, the claiming process will go a lot smoother. Keep all your important receipts in the same place, and make sure it’s safe! If it’s an automobile claim, find out everything you need to know about the driver as soon as the accident occurs, such as name, license plate and insurance information. If extra information is needed, be sure to respond promptly.

Take photos

Be sure to take pictures of whatever you’re claiming against, especially on the road. Videos are even better. Try and do this as soon as possible, and you should have no issues with your claim. If you have to ask yourself whether or not you have enough, chances are you need more. Better safe than sorry.

Of course, the best scenario is a claims-free one. To avoid accidents and claims, use best practices for driving and home safety. If you do need to file a claim, do so as soon as possible. Contact our office immediately following an incident for assistance with starting your claim.

Make Sure Your Halloween B.O.O.s Are Covered

It’s the spookiest night of the year, and if you’re not careful, the tricks could lead to more than just a little fright. We all love a good scare, but on Halloween night, it’s possible to get a little more than you bargained for. Don’t be scared. Your homeowners and renters insurance policies are there for you.

If you have these in place, you’ll be covered for the most common Halloween B.O.O.s.

Breakage. Trick or treat might seem like a fun game, but Halloween is a top time for vandals. If your property is at all affected by acts of vandalism, make sure you contact your insurance agent straight away. We may be able to “treat” you if you’ve been “tricked.”

O’ lanterns. Halloween is the fifth worst night of the year for candle fires. Try swapping real candles for battery-powered ones in your jack-o’-lanterns. But if your pumpkin does go up in flames, your homeowners or renters policy will cover the damage.

Offenses. Whether you’re throwing a party or just opening your doors to hungry trick or treaters, it’s possible many little feet will be entering your property. If any guest gets injured while partaking in the festivities, you will be covered by the liability portion of your insurance. This also includes four-legged friends who may get overexcited.

Get the costume and get the coverage. Contact your insurance agent to verify your policies are current and include the necessary coverage for this season.

Tips to Stay Well During Cold and Flu Season

Last year’s flu levels were low, due in large part to measures such as social distancing, hand hygiene and masking. What does the 2021–2022 cold and flu season have in store for us? Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts for this year’s cold and flu levels.

Experts warn this year’s flu season could be difficult. Due to last year’s mild flu season, medical experts believe flu virus immunities have likely diminished, leaving more Americans at risk. According to CNBC News, last year’s lowered rate of flu infections will leave many without immunity to this year’s flu virus. Returning to a more normal lifestyle without masking will also leave people more exposed to others’ cold and flu viruses.

The CDC predicts flu and pneumonia will increase, but because of the lack of firm data for last year, it cannot effectively model and predict this year’s outbreak levels. However, the CDC does predict that flu levels will “return to pre-pandemic levels” in 2021–2022, according to CNBC News.

What can you and your family do to prevent colds and flu this year? Hand hygiene will help, as will donning masks, avoiding the touching of eyes, nose, and mouth, staying home if sick and getting the most recent flu shot when available. The CDC expects no delays in obtaining the flu vaccine this year. The CDC anticipates manufacturers will increase production this year, considering the expected high flu levels. Call your health provider or pharmacy to ensure availability

This year’s vaccines will protect against four viruses, A(H1N1), A(H3N2), B/Victor and B/Yamagata. Unless you have any health considerations, the CDC recommends flu vaccines for all those aged six months and older.

3 Little-Known Risk Factors for Life Insurance Applications

You may think your physical health is the main criteria when applying for life insurance. Think again. Numerous other factors could raise your premiums, at times significantly.

Life insurance companies, which payout when their clients pass away, try to identify people who are at the highest risk for death. Some of the ways they do so are obvious. For example, when assessing risk, most life insurance companies divide people into two groups: smokers and nonsmokers.

But it doesn’t stop there. Life insurance companies then further subdivide both smokers and nonsmokers into three risk categories. From lowest risk to highest, these are Preferred Plus, Preferred and Standard. Sometimes the category names are different, but the concept is the same.

And what a life insurance company considers “risky” may be surprising. Having high blood pressure is risky, but it can be managed with medication, so a life insurance company may consider the following activities even riskier: antidepressants or therapy (because after two years, most policies are required to pay if someone commits suicide); a poor driving record (for obvious reasons); and a poor credit history (because people who struggle financially might not pay their insurance premiums or might commit suicide due to financial stress).

Can’t you just lie on your application? Yes, but it’s a bad idea. If your death is related to something you lied about and the life insurance company finds out, it won’t pay your benefit.

A better way to keep your rates low is to shop around. Different life insurance companies view risk differently, and many change their risk criteria from year to year.

Let us help you navigate what’s best for you. Please call or email us if you want to better understand your life insurance stability and options.

Here’s How You Should Prepare for Open Enrollment

Open enrollment is just around the corner. Are you ready? Whether you are reviewing your group or individual health plan options, there are some key areas you should review closely.

Will my plan benefits change? Typically, plans change each year. It is important to review the plan summary of benefits. This review will detail how your plan will change in the upcoming year. Most changes come in the form of deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and drug formularies.

Do I need to verify my providers are still in-network? Provider networks can change from year to year. Never assume a provider is still in-network, even if the insurance carrier has not changed. It is best to contact the provider’s office to confirm their participation each year. In-network providers can also apply to the pharmacies you use, which can affect the price you are charged for prescriptions.

Conduct a health expense audit. Take a look at the annual expenses you pay when using healthcare. Are you aware of any potential increases or decreases in healthcare needs expected in the new year? Calculate how these changes may affect your annual out-of-pocket expenses.

What if my employment income has changed? If your employment status has changed or you are no longer eligible for group health insurance, check your state or federal exchange programs to see which options are best for you. You may be eligible for subsidy premium assistance under the Affordable Care Act.

When you need assistance in gathering benefit information to make the decision that is best for you, we are just a phone call away.

Do You Have an IT Disaster Recovery Plan?

Losing data from an information technology (IT) disaster is potentially devastating. It could disrupt or even permanently shut down your business. That’s why it’s critical for your business continuity planning efforts to include an IT disaster recovery plan and the right insurance.

IT-related disasters can take a variety of forms. You’ve probably heard of cyberattacks and malware, but IT-related disasters can also involve hardware failures, human error and even natural disasters (such as earthquakes and hurricanes).

These disasters can be devastating. According to McAfee, cybercrime costs the world economy more than $1 trillion annually, which is 1% of the global gross domestic product. The average ransomware demand is more than $100,000, according to Bank Info Security, and a third of companies attacked by ransomware paid that price, resulting in an average of 16 days of downtime. Knowing that, it’s easy to see why a company that suffers an IT disaster might have to close shop.

This makes it critical for you to include an IT disaster recovery plan and the right insurance in your business continuity planning efforts. Let’s look at both topics separately.

First, what is an IT disaster recovery plan? Fundamentally, it’s a set of instructions that guide your business in responding to an unplanned IT outage. The goal is to have clear, repeatable steps that allow you to return to normal operations as soon as possible. While that sounds simple, it can be complicated because you’ll need a variety of tools and processes in place.

For example, you’ll want to take inventory of your entire IT infrastructure because the failure of even one critical system could affect the others. You’ll also want to ensure that all your critical data is being backed up regularly.

Then you’ll want to determine what happens in the event of a disaster. What critical functions do you need to get up and running first? It’s important to create a plan for restoring those systems, either from the cloud or from other off-site servers, to reduce any downtime.

To do all this, you’ll want to put together a team consisting of key IT and operations employees. They should all be briefed on the disaster recovery plan and be ready to take action when necessary. And you’ll want to have a plan in place to communicate with your employees. If your IT systems aren’t working, you’ll need to have another way to contact and update your employees.

You’ll also want to protect your business with insurance. Commercial property insurance, for example, can pay to fix damaged property and replace equipment needed to get your business back up and running. Business interruption insurance can replace your revenue when your business is forced to close. And cyber liability insurance can protect your company against liability and expenses due to the loss of data or privacy and security breaches.

We’d be happy to review your business insurance needs and determine if you are adequately protected from IT disasters. Please contact us today to get your insurance checkup going.

Product Liability Suits and How You Can Prevent Them

Think you don’t need to worry about product liability? If your business manufactures, sells or even distributes products, you do, because the awards for liability suits can be high, making consumers more and more litigious. But you can head off the damage with product liability insurance.

Product claims can vary, but they generally involve one of three complaints: a design defect, which means your product design is unsafe; a manufacturing flaw, meaning your production process resulted in a defect that made the product unsafe; or a defective warning or instruction, meaning your labels provided insufficient information regarding the risks related to your product. If you were involved in placing the product in the consumer’s possession, you can be held legally liable for its failure.

That’s where product liability insurance comes in. Product liability insurance is a business policy that protects your company against claims for loss or injury due to defects in the products you manufacture or sell or the failure to provide proper warning about your products. It generally covers legal fees, medical costs and awarded damages.

The product liability insurance coverage a business needs depends on many factors, such as your industry, the products you design, produce or distribute and your location. To ensure your coverage is appropriate, you should provide accurate and detailed information to your insurance provider. Don’t underreport!

While getting product liability insurance may seem cumbersome, it’s important to plan ahead for possible problems. Give us a call today to see how we can support you on your journey!

3 Tips for Lowering Your Property Insurance Costs

Owning commercial property is the gift that keeps on giving. You think you’re finished when you close on the purchase, but that’s only the beginning: maintenance, repairs, upgrades, property taxes and unexpected expenses keep the costs coming. But solid property insurance can help keep some of the other costs at bay. And a number of factors, some of which apply when you purchase a property, can affect the cost of your commercial property insurance. Here are three to consider.

How old is the building you’re insuring? 

You may recall a 1986 movie called The Money Pit, in which Tom Hanks and Shelley Long starred as a couple who must come to terms with the costs of an old building they purchased. This concept shouldn’t come as a surprise: older buildings are more susceptible to damage than newer buildings, from issues such as old wiring or worn structural components. And any renovations can be costly, as they usually involve bringing the building up to code. This can translate into costly repairs, which drive up the insurance premium. You can generally make an assumption: the older the building, the higher the insurance costs.

What is the purpose of the building?

What your building does is just as important as how old it is, because what it does determines two things: where it is located and what is in it.

First, let’s look at location. Buildings in low-crime areas are generally cheaper to insure than those in high-crime neighborhoods, buildings in rural areas are generally cheaper to insure than those in city centers, and buildings in relatively mild climates are generally cheaper to insure than those in areas prone to natural disasters. Choosing the location of your commercial property carefully will save on premiums.

Next, let’s look at what your business does. Are you a manufacturer of heavy equipment, or are you storing diamonds? That may seem like a silly question, but it matters. So too does the type of equipment. If your building is home to older equipment that is harder to maintain and repair than newer equipment, this will increase your insurance costs. The type of equipment is also a factor, since heavy industrial machinery is typically more expensive to insure than office equipment. However, it may be cheaper to keep older equipment and pay higher premiums than to buy new equipment; everything is a balancing act.

What kind of coverage do you want?

Too often, property owners overlook the distinction between replacement value and cash value coverage. Replacement value pays what you need to replace damaged goods with brand-new items; cash value pays what your depreciated property is worth. Replacement value coverage costs more, so it comes with higher premiums. But you may be able to save money with a business owner’s policy (BOP), which combines your property insurance coverage with other types of business insurance coverage.

We’d be happy to review your specific property insurance needs and determine if the costs are appropriate. Contact us today to get your property insurance checkup going!

Is Your Commercial Property Ready for the Fall?

Any change of season is a good time to review your commercial property to ensure it’s in tip-top shape, and fall is no exception. Here are five things to check before the weather cools.

Is your roof ready? Spring and summer storms often cause roof damage, and even minor damage can become a large problem over the winter. Inspect your roof and take care of any problems now.

Is your HVAC system in shape? Regardless of your climate, fall is a good time to check your HVAC system, heat and air conditioning to ensure your system is strong as you enter fall.

Are your trees trimmed? No one wants a tree on (or through) the roof, which is a risk in all climates. Be sure to properly prune your trees to remove dead or drooping limbs.

Are you prepared for floods? While most heavy rains come in the spring and summer, it’s a good idea to keep on top of potential flood problems year-round.

Are you susceptible to a critter infestation? As the weather cools, mice and other critters seek shelter from the cold. If they have a way in, they’ll get in. That creates safety hazards (think chewed wires) and health hazards (think disease). Check for and repair access points.

While getting your property ready for the fall may seem cumbersome, it’s important to plan ahead for your success. Give us a call today to see how we can support you on your journey!

Does Your Home Have More Risk than Your Neighbor’s?

It’s always hard to know what goes on behind closed doors. Two homes could look identical from the outside, have the same square footage, and even be on the same road and still have very different insurance costs.

Why is that? One reason is that cost premiums are based on the risk factors of homes. Even if you and your neighbors’ homes are built in the same way, they could have a multitude of different features that affect the cost. But what are they? We’ve listed a few of the top ones below.

Safety: If your home has features that make it safer, that will help bring the insurance costs down. Think fire-resistant surfaces, burglar alarms and state-of-the-art locks.

Construction: Older homes cost more to insure because they will likely need more upkeep. Newer builds and refurbs cause less to worry about in this regard. Also, antique features such as ornate fireplaces and crown molding are more expensive to replace, so remember this before looking at your insurance bill.

Amenities: Having a pool is a great way to add enjoyment to your home, but it also increases the cost of insuring it. Wood-burning stoves can also be seen as a fire risk. Talk to us if you’re concerned about the cost of adding any of these to your home.

Upgrades: Remodeling or adding an extension may require additional insurance, so make sure you check this before signing the papers agreeing to that extra room.

Pets: We love our four-legged friends, but pets can be a bit of a liability to a home and therefore increase the insurance premiums. Dogs flagged as dangerous breeds could also lead to a higher cost for home insurance.

If you’re wondering how to get the best insurance deal for your property, call or email us today.

What Determines How Much Home Insurance I Need?

It’s not always easy to know how much homeowners insurance you need. Say you have a $100,000 home: your homeowners insurance coverage should also be $100,000, right?

Not quite. There are actually many more factors at play than just the market’s current price on your home, from structure to contents.

The cost to rebuild your home

Nobody has a crystal ball, so it’s best to factor that into your insurance. To calculate this figure, multiply your square footage by the per-square-foot building costs in your area. You should also factor in any additions you have made since initial construction and the specific style of your home.

The cost of adhering to new codes

Depending on when your home was built, you might have to adhere to new codes during a rebuild, which may add to the expense. Adding an endorsement to the policy could help you plan for this.

The cost to replace what’s inside the home

While you can’t cover sentimental value, you can insure the physical contents of your home. Take an inventory of your belongings so that you can plan for the cost of replacement if you ever need to make a claim.

The cost of liabilities

Liability insurance is what will protect you if you ever find yourself in a lawsuit because of your home, whether that’s a broken window or a dodgy porch leading to an accident.

Sound confusing? We can help. Call or email us to figure out the best insurance plan for you.

Frequently Asked Questions about In-Network Providers

Are you someone who spends time finding the right healthcare providers who fit your individual or family needs? What can it mean when your healthcare provider tells you they are no longer in-network? Let us review what this change will mean to you and your pocketbook.

What does being in-network mean? When in-network providers contract with insurance companies, they agree to provide healthcare services at a set rate. This rate is normally lower than they would typically charge. These providers can also be referred to as preferred or participating providers.

Should I try to stay with in-network providers? Whenever possible, using in-network providers can cost you less out of pocket. These in-network providers have agreed to accept the insurance carrier’s reimbursement as payment in full, leaving you responsible for the smaller copay or coinsurance cost specific to your plan.

What happens when I use out-of-network providers? Some plans do not cover out-of-network providers or they pay a very small portion. If your plan does allow you to use out-of-network providers, expect your copays and coinsurance to be higher. Remember, when staying with in-network providers, they have agreed to accept a set contracted rate, which leaves you paying less out of pocket.

It is important to get the most out of your healthcare by using in-network providers whenever possible. If you would like help determining which providers are in-network with your health plan, we are just a phone call away.

Here Are the Basics of Employee Assistance Programs

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, an employee assistance program (EAP) helps to identify and help employees when personal issues interrupt their job performance. EAPs offer a variety of counseling services, from marital counseling to financial guidance to counseling for depression and substance abuse. The employer pays for the EAP. However, employees and their families can utilize the EAP’s free services. Because many employees have significant health insurance co-pays, they may not reach out for counseling or other mental health services. The EAP can eliminate employee costs, making employees more willing to utilize services.

Organizations with EAPs face reduced challenges in these areas.

Workplace conflicts may decrease as employees learn tools to deal with workplace harassment or perceptions of unfair treatment.

Substance abuse can affect employees, whether they are using or their partners or children are. EAP services can help the whole family deal more effectively with drug and alcohol problems.

Family troubles can reduce employees’ work efficiency. A divorce or step-parenting issue can polarize even strongly committed partners. EAP services can help families adapt to challenges.

Sandwich generation caregivers may experience many work absences. EAPs can help find elder care and provide unbiased advice on many childcare and elder care issues.

Legal advice can be expensive. Finding the right advice can be time-consuming. EAPs can refer for legal issues such as child support, custody and bankruptcy.

Financial counseling is important, since so many employees enter the workplace without money management skills. EAPs can point to employee resources such as credit counseling or courses that teach workers how to better manage their incomes and save for retirement.

With the stressors of modern society, today’s workers need EAP programs. History shows employees underutilize EAPs, so it’s up to the employer to educate employees on these important services. Call us for more information on EAP programs.

Here’s How to Avoid Losing Your Life Insurance

How secure is your life insurance? Given how important it is to an individual’s financial plan, it seems like something that would be guaranteed. But that is not always the case.

Do you remember when retail giant Sears announced that it would end life insurance benefits for almost 100,000 of its retirees, all of whom had expected that coverage to be maintained? The company sent notifications to people in their 80s who had maintained life insurance coverage for a significant period of time and relied on it. Given their age, those retirees who were affected had limited options. Some had to pay several thousand dollars a year to maintain their coverage with another insurance company.

That, of course, is a rare event, but it can happen, and no one wants to end up without life insurance. Thus, regardless of how you obtain your life insurance, you may want to explore how secure it is. You can research a life insurance company’s financial strength through independent rating firms, including AM Best, Fitch, Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s. Ratings can generally be viewed for free on the firms’ websites, although you might have to register first. Each of these firms has its own rating system, so it may not be easy to compare apples to apples.

It is critical to choose a financially strong life insurance company because you want the company to be around to pay the death benefit to your beneficiary, whether you die in five years or 50.

These are guidelines, of course. A single article can’t replace the knowledge of your individual financial circumstances that a personal financial planner possesses.

Let us help you navigate what’s best for you. Please call or email us if you want to better understand your life insurance stability and options.

What Exactly Is Inland Marine Insurance and What Does It Cover?

Your business property is only covered by commercial property insurance at the location on the policy. If your business property, such as tools, equipment and products, goes for a ride over land or is stored at a location that is off-site, you may want to consider inland marine insurance.

Your business property insurance covers your tangible assets when they are stored at your main location and for a distance of about 1,000 feet away. It doesn’t cover those assets outside of that distance, and it doesn’t cover them in transit. Although the term may be confusing, inland marine insurance protects your business property specifically while in transit over land or if it is stored at a site other than your main location. It does not cover property shipped by sea or air. Inland marine insurance can also cover specialized high-value assets typically not covered by property insurance.

What does inland marine insurance cover? It covers property in transit over land (such as construction equipment), property that is part of the infrastructure (bridges and communication towers), property stored at an off-site facility (such as a vending machine at a customer’s site) and property stored in a moving vehicle (such as the kitchen in a food truck). It also covers high-value assets stored at the location of your fixed business (such as an artist’s work displayed at your café).

If you ship property by land, move property between sites or store property at third-party-owned locations, inland marine insurance can help ensure you rest easy at night knowing that your property is covered. Contact us to see if it’s right for your business and if we can bundle your policies to save you some money in the process.

Who Qualifies as a Dependent for My Health Insurance Plan?

Is your current employer considering offering group health insurance? If so, who will qualify as a dependent? Let us look at a few scenarios.

Is my spouse considered a dependent? Typically, a legal spouse can be added to your group health insurance. Some employers may even offer to subsidize the cost. When offering benefits to domestic partners, this coverage must be the same as the coverage offered to legal spouses. Offering benefits, however, to domestic partners may vary based on state regulations and may require proof you are in a committed relationship.

If my kids rely on me financially, are they considered dependents? Generally speaking, children under 26 will be provided coverage, and some employers may offer to subsidize the cost. These dependents must be legally related to you as your biological, adopted, step, or foster child or a legal ward in your care.

When can I make changes to my dependent coverage? Annually, your group health plan is renewed. This is the window when employees can make changes to their existing coverage or add dependents. Another window is a change that would reasonably be expected to impact your health insurance needs. This 60-day special enrollment period is considered a qualified life event and occurs with a new marriage or when having or adopting a child.

A good rule of thumb is if you claim someone as a dependent for tax purposes, you can generally claim that person as a dependent. It may be important to discuss your unique situation, so we are here to help and just a phone call away.

Recent Survey Finds 1/3 of U.S. Seniors Lack Medicare Knowledge

Whether you are turning 65 or have been a Medicare recipient for years, many seniors find Medicare benefits confusing. According to a recent article from the RISE Association network for healthcare professionals, one in three U.S. seniors lacks knowledge of their Medicare benefits. This lack of information may cost you money.

You may hear the words “Medicare Advantage” (MA) and “Medigap” used interchangeably. Both provide supplemental benefits beyond original Medicare, but they are not the same. Each plan can impact which physicians you visit, your copays and other supplemental offerings. Scheduling time with a licensed health insurance agent can inform you of the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches to coverage because the differences are many.

Original Medicare consists of hospital and medical insurance, known as Part A and Part B. Private health insurers offer plans called Part C, also called Medicare Advantage plans. These MA plans offer parts A, B and D for prescription drug charges. In an MA plan, you’ll work within the provider network created by your insurance company. Medigap plans pay after Medicare pays, while MA plans pay instead of Medicare. Medigap is a supplemental plan that covers much of your deductibles and copays. Medigap and MA plan costs vary by state. Since many supplements are “community rated,” states with higher living costs can mean higher Medigap costs.

If you plan to travel internationally, consider this: some supplemental plans cover many of the costs arising from sickness or injury while traveling internationally, while some do not. If you plan to travel overseas, be sure to call us to determine if a travel policy is right for you.

Medicare can be bewildering. Even if you have been on the same plan for years, call us to discuss your plan. We can help you find out which coverage approach is best for you and make sure you are in the know.

5 Types of People Who May Need Life Insurance

Life insurance, as you know, is designed to protect the people who depend on you for financial support should you die prematurely. But there is much debate about exactly who needs life insurance. Here are some tips that may help you decide if life insurance is the right choice for you.

Do you have a child? Life insurance: no. Children typically do not need life insurance since no one relies on income from them.

Are you a young single adult? Life insurance: maybe. If you’ve just become an adult and entered the workforce, the only reason you would typically need life insurance is to help support an elderly parent or to pay for your own end-of-life expenses (e.g., funeral costs).

Are you an adult with a spouse but no children? Life insurance: maybe. If both you and your spouse are earning income that could support either of you without the other spouse, life insurance may only be necessary if you want to cover your funeral costs. You should, however, seriously consider life insurance if you are thinking about starting a family. Your rates will likely be cheaper now than when you get older.

Are you an adult with an established family? Life insurance: yes. If you have a family that depends on you, whether it’s a spouse or children, you need life insurance now. Don’t limit it to the partner working outside the home, either. The cost of replacing someone to handle domestic chores and child care can cause significant financial problems.

Are you retired or elderly? Life insurance: maybe. Life insurance at this stage in life may only be necessary if you have people depending on your income for support or if you cannot cover funeral expenses.

These are guidelines, but remember, an article can’t replace the knowledge of your individual financial circumstances that a personal financial planner possesses. Let us help you navigate what’s best for you.

Is Identity Theft Covered by Your Insurance?

Victims of identity theft can deal with the disaster left in the wake of an identity thief for years. Avoid the possibility of this devastating experience by educating yourself about this crime, and make sure you have the right coverage in place to protect yourself in case it does happen to you.

Let’s look at some ways identity thieves can get their hands on your secure information. They can obtain information online via email scams and hacking, for example, or scammers posing as legitimate professionals can obtain information via phone calls. They can also steal physical documents (from your wallet, credit card bills or bank statements) or physical hardware (such as laptops, tablets, phones and thumb drives).

To ensure you are protecting yourself from these methods, secure all your documents, and never give out your personal information to sources that are not verified. Prevent online breaches with appropriate security software.

Unfortunately, you may still fall prey to a determined identity thief even with the proper precautions in place. It is vital to have the proper coverage in place should disaster strike. Some limited protection for loss of credit cards or cash is often included in homeowners or renters insurance policies. Some liability relief is provided by many credit card companies. But if your identity is stolen, this is not sufficient coverage.

Financial loss, credit issues and reputational consequences can result from identity theft, and there are insurance products that cover these costs. It is worth it to look into these policies. They vary and cover everything from minor assistance to major restorative services. Reimbursement of attorney’s fees, assistance with hearings and charges related to fraud, a consumer fraud specialist or case manager, replacement of government-issued identifications and assistance with credit restoration can be provided by your coverage.

These restoration services can be life-changing should you fall victim to identity theft. Contact us to discuss your current policies and review what specific coverage is best for you so we can help you plan for the unexpected.

I Didn’t File a Claim but My Home Insurance Went Up. Why?

A number of factors contribute to determining your insurance premium. It is possible for your home insurance to go up even if you didn’t file a claim. Here are some reasons.

Home changes. If you have upgraded or renovated your home, it is worth more, so in the event of a disaster, more insurance is needed to cover it. Other additions, such as a pool, can increase risk, which will increase your premium.

Area changes. If there are changes in your area when it comes to natural disasters, claims and the cost of living, this can impact your coverage costs. An increase in the rate of thefts, vandalism, natural disasters and claims related to these means there will be an increase in your premium.

Safety changes. Your insurance is affected by changes in safety. If risk is lowered or safety is increased (say, for example, by the addition of a fire station in your area), your insurance rates are lowered. If risk is raised, your insurance rate is raised. You can lower your risk and your rate by making your home safer with burglar alarms and other safety measures.

Not making changes. Your home ages, and if you don’t keep it updated, this can mean a hike in your premium. Homes that are not updated become more and more dangerous to insure, which translates to them costing more to insure. Ignoring necessary upgrades raises your risk and raises your premiums.

We are always here to help you understand what goes into determining your home insurance rate. Call or email us today with your questions, and let’s take a look at how you may be able to lower your premium.