What Kind of Insurance Does a College Student Need?

What Kind of Insurance Does a College Student Need?

With colleges starting back up, maybe you have a child returning to school or leaving for the first time. You’ve got the twin XL sheets, the posters and the textbooks. Did you know that you also might need insurance for your college student?

Auto Insurance

If you already have auto insurance for your child’s car (and you should!), don’t cancel it if they are not taking their vehicle to college with them. There is a chance your auto insurance premiums could actually drop significantly if your child moves more than 100 miles from home. Most importantly, your child will still be covered when they return home and drive their vehicle. If they do take their vehicle off to college, thankfully they should still be covered under your policy. However your premiums may change depending on where your child is living during college – especially if they go out of state. 

Renters Insurance 

The good news is that if your child will be living in on-campus dorms or other university sponsored housing, their possessions should remain covered under your homeowners insurance. It’s important to note that the coverage limits may be different, so be sure to thoroughly discuss everything with your insurance agent before your child leaves. 

If your child will be living off-campus, their possessions will no longer be covered under your homeowners policy, and you will need to purchase a separate renters insurance policy to cover their items. A renters policy can protect your child’s expensive electronics such as a laptop or TV as well as other high value items like musical equipment or instruments. Like your homeowners insurance, your child’s renters policy also covers their insured possessions whether they’re inside your child’s living quarters or not. 

Health Insurance 

Although your child is eligible to remain on your own health insurance plan until they turn 26, there are still some things to consider when they leave for college. If your child will be living out of state during the school season and is not willing or able to return home for doctors’ visits, they may struggle with finding in-network providers. With the exception of emergencies, many health policies offer limited or no coverage for out of network providers. Before you make any moves, check with your child’s school to see if there are any in-network providers close to campus. 

If there are not, you have two options. First, you can have your child knock out all necessary medical appointments before leaving for school and schedule future appointments to coincide with breaks. If you do want the peace of mind that good coverage offers, look into supplementing your child’s health coverage with a student health insurance policy. Coverage may also be available through their college or your child could purchase their own coverage in the health insurance market. 

Sending your child off to college is an exciting time, whether they are a freshman or a fifth-year senior. Make sure your student has all the protection they need by utilizing the right insurance tools. 

4 Practical Insurance Tips for Millennials

4 Practical Insurance Tips for Millennials

Millennials (young people born between 1981 and 1996) are now reaching a place in their lives where they have to start making important financial decisions, such as when to buy a house or have children. With the average amount of millennial debt rising, it is becoming more difficult for young people to build up savings. That is why it is incredibly important that millennials make the investment in insurance. If the unexpected occurs, many uninsured or underinsured millennials will be without any safety net to help them recover.

Part of the problem with people of this age being uninsured or underinsured is simply a lack of information. So, for any millennials reading, here are 4 practical insurance tips for you. 

Work with an Independent Agent – Not Google

What do you do when you need to do something difficult for the first time? You go to an expert! For many people, this expert is Google. But there is a lot of misinformation out there, and millennials know more than anyone that you can’t trust everything you read online. Millennials are smart – there is no doubt about that. However, many do not realize what kind of insurance they may need, or just how important it is, so they don’t have all the coverage they should. This is a big mistake, especially for those who are starting families or building a business. An independent insurance agent is a friend in the business who can guide you in the best course of action. Sure, you could buy insurance online, but you may not get the best rates. The job of an independent agent is to do the hard work of finding the best possible coverage for the lowest possible price tag. This means less stress on you and more time to spend doing the things you love! 

Stop Worrying So Much About the Price Tag 

We get it. Many millennials have a lot of expenses, and it can sometimes feel like you are living paycheck to paycheck. How much do you think insurance costs per month? Whatever number you are holding in your head, there’s a good chance the true number is lower. There are also a lot of discounts that are available if you perform certain behaviors. Yes, this often means “adulting” things. Your agent is your resource for this kind of information, so don’t be shy about asking what kind of discounts are available.

Cover Your Gaps to Protect Your Valuables 

Again, this is where the advice and expertise of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. While it’s true that your possessions are covered under your homeowners or renters insurance, you may have items that require higher limits to be properly covered. This could be an engagement ring or other high-value jewelry, musical instruments or equipment, sporting equipment, expensive electronics, or other items of value. Your agent can advise you on adding additional coverage for these type of items. 

Don’t Shoot Down Life Insurance 

You may think you are too young to purchase life insurance at this age, but that simply is not true. Your 20s and 30s is actually the ideal age to buy a life insurance policy, because you will likely receive much better rates now when you are young and healthy than you will later in life. Life insurance is designed to provide a financial net for expenses you leave in the event of your death. We know it’s probably crazy to think about, but life insurance is designed to protect against the unthinkable, and just because it’s difficult to think about does not mean it isn’t necessary. 

If you are a millennial who needs a guide in purchasing your own insurance for the first time, we can help! As independent agents, we will be on your side – not the side of the insurance companies. This means you can trust us to act in your best interest. Get in touch today!

3 Things You May Not Know About Rental Car Coverage 

3 Things You May Not Know About Rental Car Coverage 

Experiencing a car accident is stressful enough on its own. Add to that the possibility of medical bills, car repair bills, and the cost of renting a vehicle while yours is in the shop, and you’ll definitely feel overwhelmed. However, with rental car assistance or reimbursement, you may not have to worry too much about the latter. Here are 5 things you need to know about getting a rental car after an accident. 

It’s Not a Guarantee

Your ability to get a rental vehicle while yours undergoes repairs depends on a few different factors. First, do you even have this add-on in your policy? The add on that allows you to get coverage for a rental vehicle after an accident is called rental reimbursement coverage, and as an optional coverage, it is not automatically included in your auto insurance. However just because it’s optional does not mean you should go without it. 

Second, who was at fault for the accident? If it was deemed to be you, see the paragraph above. If you are not at fault, you will be dealing with the other driver’s insurance provider to handle the claim. The other driver’s insurance provider should give you a rental car that is comparable to the one that was damaged in the accident. 

The Loss Must Be a Covered Loss 

Rental reimbursement coverage cannot be used if your vehicle is in the shop for routine maintenance or any cosmetic work such as paint or other voluntary modifications. Even if it is in the shop for a few days, you cannot apply for rental reimbursement coverage in this instance. You also cannot utilize the coverage if you are taking a trip and renting a vehicle – unless you are renting a vehicle because your own is being repaired after an accident. As long as the loss is being covered by your auto insurance, you are free to use your rental reimbursement coverage. 

It’s Not as Expensive as You Think 

Car rental company Enterprise reported that the average American drives 3-4 different places per day, and the average length of time for a vehicle repair is two weeks. Renting a vehicle can cost upwards of $300 a week, depending on the size. However, a year of rental reimbursement coverage usually costs less than a single day of a rental car payment. Although there are limits, in the long run the benefits truly outweigh the costs.

This Is How Your Insurance Can Cover You During a Vacation

This Is How Your Insurance Can Cover You During a Vacation

School’s out, the sun’s out, and pretty soon you might be out of town! As you’re packing for your summer vacation, insurance is probably the last thing on your mind. You’re probably thinking about what clothes to bring, whether you need both your phone and tablet, or trying to dig out the snowboard you haven’t used in months. However as with every big moment in life, there are always insurance considerations to keep in mind.

Property Damage

This can come in two forms – damage or loss of your own property or damage to others property. In the first instance, the same homeowners or renters insurance that covers your personal property against theft, vandalism, or some acts of nature when you’re at home also covers your possessions you take with you on vacation. This is especially important for more expensive items such as electronics, jewelry, or even sporting equipment you take on vacation. On the flip side, this coverage also ensures you are safeguarded against any loss that happens to the property you left behind when you’re away from home. The important thing to note for this kind of coverage is that your policy must have certain limits of coverage in order to protect everything you want protected.

The other way in which your insurance can protect you in the case of property damage while you’re on vacation applies to the property of others. This is especially important if you’re renting a house or condo and end up breaking or damaging the property itself or something inside it. This type of coverage is called your personal liability policy, and if you cause damage in the place you’re vacationing, you may be covered by it.

Medical Emergencies

This one depends on where you are vacationing. In the case of medical emergencies inside the U.S., you should not encounter many obstacles regarding your insurance coverage extending to other in-network hospitals. You should expect to pay rates similar to what you’d pay at home. However, depending on your policy you may not be covered if you visit an out-of-network hospital in another city or state. It is best to know up front before you embark on your journey – for this you will speak to your insurance agent. You should also put “insurance card” on your packing list, if you don’t already carry it with you at all times (which you should!). Your home doctor may also offer “tele” services – meaning he or she can diagnose you over phone or video chat, and you get to stay in network no matter where you are in the country.

If you’re traveling out of the country, you may be surprised to learn that your coverage is more than you expected. Again, this is an instance in which it is most appropriate to speak to your agent before your trip to find out exactly what the out-of-pocket expenses would be for medical care abroad. Keep in mind this only applies to medical emergencies, not elective procedures.

The most important thing is to notify your insurance agent that you’ll be traveling, and to ask them if there are any updates needed to your policies. With an independent insurance agent on your side, you’ll have a friend to help you properly prepare for this exciting upcoming trip.

How to Create a Culture of Safety in Your Business

How to Create a Culture of Safety in Your Business

When you think of “workplace culture,” you probably picture casual Fridays or volunteering as a group. Having a positive workplace culture is certainly something that benefits businesses and helps with employee retention. But what some people forget about is that a “culture of safety” is an equally important type of workplace culture.

What Is a Culture of Safety?

Essentially what this phrase means is the attitude of all members of a company – from the bottom to the top – towards safety in the workplace. Cultures of safety can be positive or negative. In a negative culture of safety, workers, managers, and anyone in between do not respect the recommended safety measures. As a result, more accidents happen in a workplace with a negative safety culture. In a positive safety culture, everyone respects and obeys the safety rules and regulations without complaint, and less accidents and workers compensation claims happen. So how do you create a culture of safety in your business? Here are some helpful tips.

Engage in Continued Education

Safety meetings are a great occasion to maintain your employees’ safety education. It’s normal for people to forget what they learned the first week on the job in orientation safety training. If your employees’ work includes a significant physical aspect, the safety meetings are a great opportunity to review proper physical operations such as how to lift heavy objects or how to safely operate large machinery and equipment.

Look Into Near Misses

It may not have actually hurt anyone or resulted in a workers comp claim, but a near miss could be a full on accident next time. If an almost-accident occurs, put on an investigation to look into its cause and determine what could have prevented it. Then observe these new safety practices to reduce the possibility of that near miss becoming something more serious.

Reward Employee Reporting

In a positive safety culture, employees feel comfortable reporting safety concerns or hazards to management. Going along with this, the management must take the reports seriously and work to correct the situation. It can be important to reward employees who step forward about concerns they see on the ground, Often, these individuals are in the best position to notice safety hazards and as such should be listened to as a valuable safety resource.

Every business should work to create a positive safety culture, but accidents may still happen. Ensure your operation has the best insurance coverage to reduce losses in the event of an unfortunate accident or injury. Talk to your agent today to make sure your business is protected.

Spring Maintenance Checklist for Homeowners

Spring Maintenance Checklist for Homeowners

Winter can be tough on a home. Snow, ice, wind, rain and freezing temperatures can all place stress on your home’s structure. Now that Spring is here, it’s time to start taking stock of any needed repairs or updates to get your home back in top shape. Here are a few of the things you should be doing and looking for:

  • Check windows and doors for broken or damaged frames, hinges, or locks.
  • Inspect window or door screens for rips and have them repaired to prevent insects entering your home.
  • Have your roof professionally inspected. Pooling water or hail damage can cause failures in the material and structure of your roof, but you may not even know unless you have an inspection.
  • Look for cracks in your driveway. Water from heavy rain or snow can cause cracking in concrete, and you may want to get your driveway resealed to prevent further damage.
  • Clean leaves and debris from your gutters and downspouts, or have a professional clean them if you are unable or uncomfortable. This is a basic maintenance task but one that is essential to the upkeep of your home.
  • Inspect your fences for loose or rotten panels, and replace them promptly.
  • Have a deck? If so, you’ll need to pressure wash and reseal it on a regular basis. Many experts recommend doing this every few years, depending on the intensity of the weather in your area.
  • Test run sprinklers and outdoor faucets to ensure all systems are operational. If the water flow seems low, there may be an issue with the pipes.
  • Remove debris from on and around your air conditioning unit to ensure maximum efficiency.

Homeowners Insurance Can Protect Your Home

The best way you can protect your home is with homeowners insurance. As part of your spring maintenance, check in with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage for your needs.

When to Update Your Life Insurance Beneficiaries

When to Update Your Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Life insurance: you may not want to think about it too hard, but you need to. It can be difficult to consider the possibility of your own passing, but when you realize what the financial consequences of your death might be for your loved ones, you’ll realize just how important life insurance is. If you have a policy, that’s the first step. However you cannot simply let that policy sit untouched for all the years of your life. There are certain changes you may go through that would necessitate updating your life insurance beneficiaries. But what are those changes? We’ll dive into it a little deeper.

You Get Married

When you consider the many changes your life will go through after tying the knot, updating your life insurance beneficiary might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But when two become one, often combining their finances, ensuring your spouse will be taken care of in the unthinkable event of your death is one of the most loving things you can do to secure your new life together. Many couples will change their beneficiary to their spouse once the nuptials are over. In fact, depending on where you live you may be required to. The death benefits would ensure your spouse will be able to take care of final expenses, pay off your debts, and not have to experience the burden of entirely losing their partner’s income.

A Child Is Born

You may be having a child together, adopting, or taking over care of a friend or relative’s child. Whatever the case, if an important child comes into your life, you may want to take another look at your life insurance beneficiaries. Some do not recommend adding your new child to your list of beneficiaries, since they will not be able to receive death benefits until reaching the age of majority. However you can still specify to your spouse or other beneficiary that you would like the policy benefits to go towards something specific, such as your child’s education expenses.

You Start a Business

If you own a business with partners, it is possible to include them in your list of life insurance beneficiaries. However, you should also consider creating a buy-sell agreement with any business partners. This will allow your business partner(s) to use the benefits from the agreement to buy out your shares in the company in the event of your death. If you wish to protect the business you have built, make sure to speak with an experienced insurance agent to ensure you have all the coverage you need to keep your business running no matter what.

Whoever you name as your life insurance beneficiary, be sure to inform them right away. This is especially true if you choose someone outside your immediate family, since they may not even expect to be named in your policy. Life insurance benefits will not bring you back after you are gone, but they can go a long way towards protecting the people you care about.

Stay Safe on Spring Break with These Tips

Stay Safe on Spring Break with These Tips

Spring break is known as a time for fun and relaxation. It’s a chance to get away from school (and work!) for a little while and spend time with the family. However the risks involved in taking a spring break trip cannot be ignored. This doesn’t mean you should spend the entire break keeping the family holed up at home, but it does mean you should pay attention to the following safety tips while on your trip.

Be Careful On the Road

Traffic sees a large increase during the spring break season. Be sure to drive the speed limit, make sure everyone is properly buckled in, and avoid distracted driving. Have the person in the passenger seat play the role of navigator so the driver is not constantly glancing at a phone or GPS. Local law enforcement will probably be increasing their rounds during this time, so it is especially important to obey traffic laws to stay safe and avoid violations – especially since this can raise your car insurance rates! For long trips in the car, you might want to consider adding roadside assistance coverage in case you experience any issues far from home.

Protect Your Valuables

While it’s true that renters and homeowners insurance policies can cover your valuables even if you bring them out of town with you, you still want to do everything you can to avoid filing a claim. Never leave them in plain sight in your car or hotel room. In fact, it’s a good idea to make use of the hotel safe, if available. Additionally, try not to bring high value items like jewelry, watches, and laptops or tablets. If you have to bring your valuables with you, be sure to check your limits of liability with your insurance agent before the trip to ensure you have all the coverage you need for the items you plan to take.

Refrain from Posting About the Trip on Social Media Until It’s Over

Many of our online “friends” might actually be more like casual acquaintances. You never know who could see your social media posts about being gone for spring break; anyone with bad intentions and your personal information could choose to take advantage of the situation. There have been numerous reports of homes being broken into after someone saw on social media that a family was away on vacation. Of course you want to share the amazing photos you’re taking and post updates on the fun times you’re enjoying, but it is safest to leave the posting for after you arrive back home.

Spring break is a wonderful time to get away from the everyday stresses of life. By following just a few simple safety precautions, you can keep your vacation from turning into a nightmare. Contact your agent to review the coverage that can protect you from the risks of traveling over spring break.

When Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance? The Answer Might Surprise You

When Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance? The Answer Might Surprise You

For some, it’s an easy question. You need commercial auto coverage when your business owns company vehicles – whether it’s one or an entire fleet. However this is not the only instance in which a commercial auto policy is recommended. If you often use your personal vehicle for work purposes, besides commuting, you just might need a commercial auto policy, too.

You Do Not Always Need a Commercial Auto Policy

As we previously stated, simply driving your own car back and forth to work is not a situation where you need to consider commercial auto insurance. Neither is giving rides to coworkers or taking your car out on a coffee run for the office.

What Kind of Use Might Necessitate Commercial Auto Coverage?

However, if you use your personal vehicle to transport tools or equipment to a job site, you should be considering a commercial policy. This is especially true if the tools and equipment are expensive and their damage or theft would put your company at risk. Another instance in which you might consider commercial auto coverage is if you use your own car to travel long distances for work, or to transport clients. Even a teenager who delivers food with his own car poses a liability to his company.

It Is Different for Rideshare Drivers

There is a slight exception in the case of rideshare drivers working for companies such as Uber or Lyft. Most commercial auto policies do not offer the coverage rideshare drivers require for their unique needs, although some insurers have started offering rideshare insurance.

It All Depends on Frequency

If you only occasionally use your own vehicle for work purposes, it is likely you will only need personal auto insurance. On the other hand, if your use of your own car for business needs is frequent and ongoing, you should talk to your agent about your options.

Commercial Auto Policy or Modified Personal Auto Policy?

Your insurance agent is equipped to advise you on whether you truly need a commercial auto policy for your own vehicle. Commercial auto coverage can be expensive, but it may be possible to modify your personal auto policy to take occasional business use into account. Otherwise, your independent agent can shop the market to find you the best quotes for commercial auto insurance.

Preparing Your Business for the Event of a Flood

Preparing Your Business for the Event of a Flood

Just like your home, your business can flood and potentially experience extensive damage. However, your business has a completely different set of risks than your home does. After a flood in your place of business, you could experience loss resulting from damage to records, inventory, equipment, and technology as well as other valuable property and assets. You also face a potential loss of business income in the time it takes to restore your facility – not to mention the cost of debris removal, cleanup, and restoration. Business owners can mitigate risk by developing a flood disaster plan and, of course, by having the proper insurance coverage in place.

Flood Damage Is Serious Business for Your Business

Flooding can be caused by many events, including heavy rainfall, overflow from rivers or ponds, or a breach in a levee or dam. Often, flash floods can occur with almost no warning. In regards to damage, floods do more than simply make everything wet. Flooding can cause structural and electrical damage. The flood water itself often contains sharp debris like metal or glass fragments or hazardous, unsanitary matter, and this water can contaminate anything it touches. Of course, if employees are present at the time of the flooding, their lives can also be in great danger.

Ask Your Agent About Available Insurance Coverage

Most standard commercial policies do not cover flood damage. However, some carriers offer coverage that is specifically tailored for business floods. The majority of these policies are provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The NFIP only covers commercial property, so you will need to ask your agent about adding flood-specific business interruption coverage to protect your operation against loss of income.

Create a Comprehensive Workplace Flood Disaster Plan

One of the most important ways you can prepare your business for the event of a flood is to keep copies of your insurance documentation and other vital documents in a location that will be safe from any potential flood damage; you can even keep these documents off site if you are able. In addition to important documents, you will want to keep a backup list of all employees’ contact information. The next step is to assess the risks your building faces – check all walls and seams for cracks, move valuable items from bottoms floors if possible, and consider installing a sump pump to help prevent water from getting inside your building. Finally, in the event of an emergency during work hours, you will need an evacuation plan that all employees are trained in.

In the Event of a Flood…

You will be grateful that you have insurance to lessen the impact of the damage. Reach out to your agent today to find out more about your options to get covered.