Term and Whole Life Insurance: Explained

Life insurance is nobody’s favorite subject of conversation. Most people associate life insurance with expensive monthly premiums and, more importantly, their own mortality. For that reason, many people aren’t sure how life insurance works, or what their options are. However, thinking about your life insurance policy is very important! It is intended to lessen the impact of death on your loved ones, and it doesn’t even have to be expensive. Below, we discuss the major differences between term life insurance and whole life insurance to help you determine which one may be best for you.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a simpler, cheaper type of life insurance that’s a great way to institute a policy without having to cut too deep into monthly expenses. Term life is purchased for a specific time period, anywhere from 5 to 30 years. Death benefits will only be paid if the death occurs during the term of the policy. More often than not, term life will become much more expensive as you age. After the age of 50, the cost of term life quickly creeps up to the cost of permanent life insurance, so you should look into getting it sooner rather than later. Also, these policies can also be converted into whole life insurance in some cases, which is another option if you feel like it may be the time to consider whole life.

Whole Life

Term life insurance covers you for a set period of time, while whole life does exactly what you’d expect: it covers you for your whole life! Not only does it provide death benefits when the time comes, but it also provides a cash value accumulation that builds during the life of the policy. This means that you can actually see payoffs of your premium at a certain time, sort of similar to a retirement policy with your employer. It usually takes anywhere from 12 to 15 years to build up a considerable cash value. This cash value is based on how much the return on investment is worth.

Acquiring a whole life policy does usually mean a medical examination, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, with a higher premium, whole life insurance can be purchased without a health examination. This type of insurance works great for estate planning, and although it is initially more expensive, you can potentially save money through whole life insurance in the long run. Be sure to see what works best for your finances by speaking with a risk advisor today.

Choosing What’s Right

There are many different factors to take into account when deciding what kind of life insurance is right for you. Before speaking with a risk advisor, you should consider several factors:

  • Your current age
  • State of health
  • Financial needs (for yourself and family)
  • Plans for funeral and death expenses
  • Children’s ages
  • Long-term health expenses
  • Mortgage and current debts
  • Retirement plan
  • Future monetary needs of your children
  • Your estate
  • Your thoughts on paying a full term policy and never receiving the value of it

Although that may be a long list, factoring in as much as possible is important because life insurance is a big investment. Give our agency a call today so we can help find you the best policy for you and your family.

How to Get Your Home Ready For a Safe Halloween

Witches and ghouls are scary for the kiddos, but as a homeowner, you know that the real terror of Halloween lies in vandalism, lawsuits, and liability claims. Use these tips to make your home and belongings safe on Halloween night, both for you and your spooky visitors.

Be All In or All Out

Trick-or-treaters expect to get candy when they knock on your door, but it is understandable that you may not be in the spirit of the holiday or have the finances to supply candy every year.

When it comes to Halloween, it’s in your best interest to stick to your plan. If you give out candy, have your porch light on and be prepared for the foot traffic! If you’re not giving out candy, turn out the main lights and make it appear as if you aren’t home to the best of your ability. Greeting trick-or-treaters with no candy is awkward, and in some cases, it can lead to the worst kind of person being vindictive and coming back later to vandalize your home. It sounds bad, but it happens more than you’d think!

Hide Your Car

Halloween is a notorious night for automobile shenanigans. From toilet paper and water balloons, to eggs, paint, and bologna, vandals can pull “pranks” that wind up doing real damage to your car. If you’re not out and about on Halloween night, keep your car locked in the garage or at least park it behind the house.

Keep Your Pets Inside

Our furry friends don’t understand the spirit of Halloween. All they know is that masked figures keep ringing the doorbell to their home, and it is understandable that they get scared and defensive. No matter how sweet your pup usually is, he may still turn into Cujo on Halloween if he’s under enough stress! Don’t put your home insurance policy’s liability limit to the test over a dog bite or other, unintentional injury; keep your dogs safely in the house until the night’s excitement is over.

Light Up the Night…

Little trick-or-treaters are so excited to get candy, they tend to run up the driveway to your home. Make sure your porch and walkway are well lit and unobstructed so they don’t stumble on their way to the door. Not only could a fall ruin their fun night, but a real injury could come back to haunt you as a homeowner. Play it safe and keep it bright outside!

…But Don’t Use the Candles

Those glowing Jack-o-lanterns are super spooky and cool, but costumes, straw, and paper decorations are all very flammable. Use battery operated tea lights instead of real candles so your Jack-o-lantern only looks dangerous.

Avoiding and Reacting to Automobile Fires

Imagine you are driving down the interstate when black smoke starts rolling out from under your hood. Do you have any idea what’s going on? How are you going to react? Automobile fires are pretty rare compared to other types of highway incidents, so most people don’t know what to expect or how to handle the situation when it happens to them. However, car fires are extremely dangerous, so it’s important to avoid panic by knowing how to react if it occurs.

Reasons Why It Might Be On Fire

Car fires can be caused by a variety of things. Fuel leakages, overheating, short circuits, and car accidents can all cause fires. If you frequently see fluids collecting underneath your car in parking lots, or if fuses in your car’s electrical system are getting blown out from old or loose wiring, it’s a good idea to get your car serviced right away. Older cars and vehicles that aren’t very well maintained are at a higher risk of catching on fire, so make sure you get your car checked regularly and address any issues you notice.

What to Do If Your Car Catches Fire

  • Turn your signal on and immediately move to the safest place to stop.
  • Put the car in park and turn off the ignition. Stopping the fuel flow and electric current is very important to prevent the fire from getting worse.
  • Get every person out of the car, and don’t allow anyone to go back to retrieve personal items.
  • Move at least 100 feet away from the burning vehicle to avoid the flames and toxic fumes and also keep bystanders back.
  • Call 911.
  • Alert oncoming traffic if possible.

What NOT to Do

Anytime drivers pull off the road to address a car issue, their first instinct is to look under the hood and try to determine the problem. If your car is smoking or you see flames, there’s no need to check it out – you know what the issue is here! Opening the hood sucks in a gust of air that actually fans the flames and exacerbates the problem. You can find out the cause of the fire later.

Also, don’t try to put the fire out yourself. Car fires can escalate quickly, and explosions are always a risk. It simply isn’t worth putting yourself in danger just to attempt putting out the flames. Let your insurance take care of the loss.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to call your insurance agent. After you’ve dialed 911 and authorities are on their way, give your agent a call from the scene if you can. The earlier you get in touch with your agent, the sooner he or she can start working on your claim and get you back on the road safely!

4 Steps to Protect Backseat Passengers

Studies show that the safest place for your child to ride in the car is the backseat. However, simply riding in the backseat isn’t enough to ensure your passengers’ safety. Certain precautions should still be taken for both children and adults riding in the back to reduce their risks of injury or death.

Aim For Buying a Newer Vehicle

When you’re in the market for a vehicle, keep backseat passengers in mind. The average car on the road is 11 years old, but there have been many advancements in car safety just within the last decade. Some particularly old cars aren’t even equipped with headrests, which are key to protecting passengers’ necks from whiplash. However, many newer models come with safety features just for the backseat, like side airbags and inflatable seat belts. Buying used is the budget-friendly way to go, but try to get a car that is at least fewer than 10 years old if you can.

Secure the Kids

Being equipped with the proper restraints is the most important factor in child passenger safety. Determine whether your child needs a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt based on his or her age, weight, and height. Not sure what to trust? Use this handy page from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine which restraints are best for protecting your child passenger.

Put Them In The Middle

Believe it or not, the middle seat is the safest seat in the entire car. It offers the most distance from impact during a collision, so the middle passenger is more likely to be protected from a crash in any direction. Just make sure the passenger is wearing a 3-point seatbelt. If a lap belt is the only option, they’re better off sitting in a window seat.

No Distracted Driving!

This one seems so obvious, but distracted driving is still the number one cause of car accidents in the U.S. It is always valuable to remember that activities like talking on the phone, texting, reading, grooming, or eating compromise the safety of you and your passengers.

Remember these tips when you’re buying a car, picking out a carseat for a child, or just running an errand with a friend. The backseat is known as the “safe seat,” but there are definitely measures you can take to make it even safer and protect the ones you love. Make sure you’re covered in case of an accident or injury with the right insurance plans! Talk to one of our agents today about your coverage options.

Group Life vs. An Individual Policy: Which One Is Right For You?

Life insurance is one of those things that most people don’t give much thought to until later in life, although we do recommend younger people explore their life insurance options early. Either way, many people are only on the life insurance policy offered by their place of work. Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Well, that depends. Take a look at some pros and cons of both types below.

Group Life Pros & Cons

The base life insurance you receive from your employer is typically 1-3 times the amount of your salary at no cost to you! This is a good cushion for anyone, and a good life insurance plan period if you’re single with no major payments or debts for your beneficiaries to pick up. You also don’t have to go through a medical exam or provide medical records to qualify for coverage on a group life policy, so any preexisting medical conditions won’t count against your premium.

However, if you have dependents, your needs will be drastically different. They may need to live on the money from your policy, or pay off your mortgage or student loans, along with using it to pay for a new health insurance plan if theirs was previously covered by your employer. Suddenly, that 1-3 years salary doesn’t stretch very far. In order to cover your beneficiaries properly with your group plan, you would need to pay an additional premium through payroll deduction.

With group plans, your premiums tend to be higher because no one on the plan is required to undergo a medical exam. The contract also has to be renewed every 5 years, so it is likely that they will be renewed for higher rates. Lastly, if you ever leave your place of employment, you can’t take your life insurance policy with you. This leaves you and your beneficiaries completely unprotected until you find another job.

It is also important to remember that life insurance is a benefit, not a guarantee. If your company needs to make budget cuts, your life insurance policy could be done away with — even if you’ve been paying for additional coverage.

Individual Policy Pros & Cons

An individual policy is just that — it is written for you based on your health and financial goals. Unlike a group policy, you have control over your individual plan and can take it with you wherever you go. You can insure your life for much more than 1-3 times your yearly salary, and know that the monthly premium will be locked in for the duration of the policy so there won’t be any surprise rate increases.

You will need to pass a medical exam to qualify, but whether or not this is a pro or con depends entirely on your health. If you are a healthy individual with no preexisting medical conditions, you can benefit from a lower premium. Even if your end premium is higher than what you would pay for additional coverage through your company, your beneficiaries will be insured for much more money in the event of your passing, and you can rest easy knowing that your policy isn’t going anywhere.

Barring a small percentage of single people with no major payments or debts, the average person will need to pay some kind of premium in order to be properly covered by their life insurance plan. Independent agents understand the ins and outs of these policies and are here to help you determine what works. Contact yours today to get started on a life insurance plan that is right for you.

The Insurance Benefits of Impact Resistant Roofing

Scientific and architectural advancements are making homes safer and more durable than ever. For instance, houses are made with flame retardant materials that lower the chances of the home burning to its foundation. Roofs are no exception to these advancements, and choosing the right roof for your home might actually save you money on your home insurance costs.

Meet the Impact Resistant Roof

Impact resistant roofs (IRR’s) are specially designed and tested to be impact resistant for exposure to hailstones, strong winds, and flying debris. They can be made of asphalt, metal, plastics, rubber, and recycled materials. Impact resistant roofs are rated as class 1, 2, 3, or 4 (1 being the weakest, 4 being the strongest) based on the test results. The cost of impact-resistant roofs varies based on the type you buy.

Why You’ll Want One

Impact-resistant roofs are simply more durable, no matter where your home is located. They are made to resist damages from threats that can shred conventional shingles and tear them away. Homeowners with impact-resistant roofs save money on repairs and insurance claims after big storms come through, not to mention their homes are kept safer. To top it off, most IRR’s come with a 30-50 year limited product warranty. They are more expensive than traditional roofs, but when you weigh the outcome, IRR’s are an investment worth making.

Having an IRR Could Mean Lower Premiums

When your roof is less susceptible to serious damages, your likelihood of filing a claim is smaller. For this reason, several states offer an insurance benefit for opting for an impact resistant roof. This is especially true in states where weather patterns are likely to bring severe hailstorms. Ask your agent if you can save on your homeowner’s insurance premium by upgrading to an impact-resistant roof.

Your roof is one of your home’s most important elements, so you’ll want to check it for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. If you aren’t sure what kind of shape your roof is in, schedule a professional roof inspection. If you know you’re in the market to replace your roof, contact one of our agents today to see how an IRR can help you save on insurance costs!

What to Do After You Have Hit a Deer

Accidents are sudden and very nerve-wracking. Although we try to avoid them as much as possible, they still occur in great volume. On average, there are almost 1.23 million deer-related accidents in the United States every year. This number grows around the later months when mating season is in session. This causes more deer to accumulate in populated areas, making some roads very dangerous for drivers. Hitting them is sometimes unavoidable because they appear in your direct path. While we hope this never happens to you, here are the steps you should take if it does.

Move Over

We understand that during a wreck you are so shocked that your priorities are all over the place. However, you should try to stay calm and pull to the side of the road as soon as possible. You are still at risk for being hit by oncoming traffic even though the wreck has already occurred. If you are able to move your car over, do so. Once you are safe, turn on your hazard lights, check your passengers, and take a deep breath.

Alert Authorities

Don’t wait to give the police a call. Alert them of the situation immediately so they can handle everything. If the wreck is bad enough, they will need to direct oncoming traffic out of the way so you and others are kept safe. If the deer is still at the scene, it could block traffic and needs to be removed. When authorities do arrive, you will probably need to fill out an official report with them. Having the details fresh from the scene will be handy when filling out your insurance claim.

Document the Incident

When the road is safe, it’s time to start documenting. Take pictures of the scene including your surroundings, your car, the road, and any injuries you or your passengers have sustained. This will all be important information for your agent to look over when filing your insurance claim.

Stay Away from the Deer

Although it’s okay to check on the deer, you might want to do this at a safe distance. If the deer survives the collision, it will be rattled up and might pose as a threat if it decides to attack out of fear. Deer are known for having powerful legs and sharp hooves that provide a damaging kick.

Contact Your Agent

Like with the authorities, don’t wait to give your insurance agent a call. The sooner, the better. They can immediately get started on your claim when the situation is fresh on your mind rather than later when you might forget some details.

Examine Your Car

Although you are probably more than prepared to go home, take a moment to examine your car thoroughly. If it has sustained a significant amount of damage, you should not drive home in it. You could put yourself in even more danger if you do. Instead, contact someone you trust that will take you and your passengers home while you have your car towed.

When you are met with a tough situation such as a car accident, the last thing you need is added stress. Having the right agent on your side will give you peace of mind. Let us take care of you today. Give our office a call to see how we can assist you and your family.

4 Tips For How to Handle a Hit and Run

Most of the time, collisions happen when you least expect it whether you are driving or parked. While the right thing is for both drivers to step out of the car and handle the situation, some have other ideas and try to flee from the scene. This is always shocking, but you can still be prepared for it by following these steps:

Call the Authorities

It’s understandable that you might be shaken up from the collision so it’s wise to take a moment to assess the situation. Once everything is clear, call the authorities immediately to let them know what happened. If you wait too long, the police may not be able to track down the perpetrator in time. You will also need a descriptive account of the situation when you file your claim, so make sure you get in touch with your agent soon, while the incident is still fresh in your memory.

Get As Much Information As You Can

This may not be a simple task since the vehicle is on the move, but it is still possible to gather enough information for a claim. Your first plan of action should be to get the license plate number of the perpetrator. Also try to determine the make, model, and year of the car. If their vehicle has any damage, take note of that too so they can be tracked down easier. Also take note of which way the vehicle went to give others a starting point. After you have all the information down about the other driver, focus on your car next. Like with any collision, you have to document the entire event. Where the location was, where it happened, how it happened, etc. Then take photos/videos of your car. This documentation will help your agent later on.

Stay at the Scene

While it may be tempting to go follow the person that hit your car, you are actually putting yourself in a bad position if you do this. You will need witnesses when filing your claim. If, however, you flee the scene, you could lose this opportunity to speak with others who provide valuable information that you need.

Be Patient

Like with any collision, there will be a lot to handle in the aftermath. You may need someone to come tow your car depending on how severe the damage is, and making a claim is not a quick process. While it might be a frustrating time, be patient while everything gets sorted out. Talk with your loved ones to make any necessary arrangements and let everything work itself out over time.

The last thing you need after a hit and run is a massive bill to pay. Luckily, with the right coverage plan, you don’t have to worry. Give our office a call today and get in touch with our professional staff who can find you the insurance plan you need in case of any accidents down the road.

What to Do After Your House Floods

There are a number of ways that your house can flood, whether it’s due to heavy rains, sewer backup, or a pipe burst. While a house flood can be devastating, here are some tips on how to respond if it were to happen to you.

Put Safety First

The first step in any major home disaster is to remain safe. You may be forced to leave your home if the flooding is bad enough. Make sure you are also safe when you return to your home to begin dealing with the aftermath. This may include turning off the power, as water and electricity obviously do not mix. Be sure to wear protective clothing such as rubber boots and gloves when you re enter your home. Not only will you be dealing with the water itself, but also whatever else the water has been in contact with, namely debris or even sewage. It is best to protect yourself against whatever harmful chemicals and items the flooding may have washed in.

Also, never eat food that has been contaminated by flood waters, or even been in close proximity to the water for an extended period of time. If the water was high enough to reach your refrigerator or any of your pantry cabinets, it is best to go ahead and throw the food away and just buy more. In addition, you should thoroughly wash any dinnerware, glasses, or flatware that might have been caught in the house flood before you use it again.

Stop and Remove the Water

One of the first things you should do when your house floods is stop the source of water coming in if at all possible. If your sump-pump is broken or malfunctioning, replacing it will help keep up with any continuing rains and may prevent further damage to your basement, garage, crawl space, or main floor. Calling the city to remove debris from storm drains may also be necessary in order to help stop flooding.

If your flooded home was caused by a bursted pipe, fix the plumbing as soon as possible to lessen water damage. The sooner you stop the water from coming in, the sooner you can get to cleaning up and repairing any damages.

Once no more water is coming in, you can work to remove the water from your home. Depending on the level of flooding you have experienced or even the rooms in your home that have been affected, your process might change. You may need to bail water out using buckets and bins or use hoses to drain large amounts of water from your basement. As the water begins receding, you can use a wet vacuum to suck remaining bits of water and moisture from carpets and floors. If you’re lucky and the damage is minimal, you might be able to simply mop the mess up.

Dry Out Your Home

Even if you are successful in removing all of the standing water from your home, everything will remain damp and wet, especially if heavy rains have increased the humidity in your area. If you have power, use your air conditioning and portable fans to help dry the wet areas of your home.

Dehumidifiers are also a big help, especially in closed off spaces such as basements or crawl spaces. Dehumidifiers work by removing excess moisture from the air. This is the easiest way to dry out your home and minimize the potential water damage you might be dealing with, as it does not require you to actively clean. However, in the case of a house flood, dehumidifiers are only supplemental and you are likely to need multiple methods of action. Dehumidifiers are recommended for anyone who lives in a damp climate or an area that experiences longer rainy seasons, as they can prevent some of the problems associated with this type of weather, both for you and your home.

Call Your Insurance Agent

Your homeowners insurance will vary depending on what policies you have, but many insurance companies cover flooding due to storms, backed-up city sewers and storm drains, broken sump-pumps, or bursted pipes. Your insurance company will send an adjuster to look at and assess the damage to determine if it is a covered loss. If your losses and damages are covered, the sooner you call your agent, the sooner they will pay out. Repairs can become costly, but the insurance money will help get your home back in order quicker with less of a financial burden on you.

Clean Up

Once the water is gone and you have called your insurance company, it’s time to begin post-flood care. You can call in a professional clean-up crew or do the work yourself. This may involve determining what is salvageable and throwing away anything that is too damaged or no longer safe to use. If the flooding in your home was widespread, you may have to bring in a roll-off dumpster for easy disposal of larger damaged items, as you will find your trash bags filling quickly.

Be aware that you may need to remove flooring, drywall, and insulation to prevent mold and mildew from spreading in your home. Furniture may also need to be dried out, cleaned, or thrown away depending on the level of water damage. Unless you are exceptionally handy, it is probably best to call in a professional company that specializes in mold removal. Mold can begin developing within the first 24 hours after a flood, and once it has started growing, it can be difficult to fully remove. The quicker you remove items from water and begin drying them, the less likely they are to be lost to mold, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution and have a professional assess the situation.

If you’ve experienced flooding for any reason or want to be covered against possible floods in your area, call your agent today for assistance.

What to Know Before Letting Someone Drive Your Vehicle

It happens. Sometimes we are in situations where we have to lend our vehicle to other people. Maybe you are not fit to drive and give the keys to someone who can. Maybe your family member needs to use it when moving items around. Regardless of the reason, you probably are a little cautious before letting someone else drive your car. After all, there are major consequences that can arise if something bad were to happen. Take a look at what you should be aware of the next time someone asks to borrow your car, even if it is for a minute or two.

Make Sure You Trust the Driver

While this is common sense, we still highly encourage drivers not to lend their keys to someone they do not know. Even if they are a good friend, make sure they don’t have a history of getting into wrecks. Because the second they get behind the wheel and take your car on a joy ride that ends unfavorably, you are going to be the one at fault.

Their Insurance Does Not Matter

Regardless of the fact that the person driving your car has insurance, it is not going to be their agency that covers the wreck. It will be yours since your car is covered through your agency. While the driver’s insurance may cover things like personal injury or medical expenses, you will still have the majority of the bill to take care of.

What to Do If You Have a Regular Driver

If it turns out that someone borrows your car more than occasionally, especially someone that you employ, get in touch with your agency to add them onto your policy.

Don’t Panic

While it is true that there are major consequences that can occur, this is really just for worst case scenarios. More than likely, you will be covered if you give someone verbal consent to drive your car. If you are nervous, feel free to give your agency a call to make sure all your bases are covered. They will be more than happy to guide you through the do’s and don’ts of lending your vehicle.

If you ever have any questions about your auto policy, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our agency. We are always here to help make life (and insurance) a little less complicated.