What You Need to Know About Funeral Planning

What You Need to Know About Funeral Planning

It’s the topic no one needs to think about, but everyone needs to think about it. For as the saying goes, the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes. When the time comes for you or a loved one, nothing helps people say goodbye like a meaningful funeral. However, they do take planning. Here is what you need to know to be prepared. 

Yes, You Do Need to Make a Plan 

A 2017 study by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) found that only 21% of Americans discuss funeral plans with a loved one. Unless you want your loved ones to have to make a number of big decisions with big price tags in a matter of several days, you need to have a funeral plan set in place. 

Work With Loved Ones to Plan

From casket choice to music choice, there are a lot of decisions to be made in the funeral planning process. It will be a huge relief for your loved ones to just have to follow your plan, especially at a time when they are grieving. You do not have to work alone in planning. Enlist your children or other loved ones to be involved in the process. This way, you get assistance and they will already be familiar with the plan when the time comes to put it into place. Most importantly, write the plan down and save several copies in places that will be easily remembered. You or your loved ones can even save a copy on a computer, so it can be easily accessed later. 

Make Choices, But Do Not Commit 

Many funeral homes sell packages that they say provide discounted rates if you prepay. This might sound smart, but what will you do if you change your decisions, if the funeral home goes out of business, or if you move to a different state? Planning does not have to mean prepaying. What planning means is calling different funeral homes to get an average idea of their rates and packages, choosing the one that you like best, and simply making note of it in your funeral plan. By the time of your death, the funeral home could have closed, changed their prices, or something else that might cause your loved ones to alter the plan. Create your plan with flexibility in mind. 

Consider Funding Your Funeral With an Insurance Plan 

If you’re worried about you or your loved ones having the money on hand to pay for your funeral, there is nothing better you can do than purchasing an insurance plan that will cover the costs. If you have a life insurance policy, make sure its limits allow for the costs of a funeral. If you do not have life insurance and are not interested in getting it (although, truly, everyone should have it), you can purchase a final expense plan that is specifically intended to cover the costs of a funeral and burial. Having the funds guaranteed in place by an insurance policy takes a huge burden off of those you leave behind. It truly is the smartest option.

Is Your Small Business Prepared to Handle a Lawsuit?

Is Your Small Business Prepared to Handle a Lawsuit?

The thought of facing a lawsuit at your business is a scary thing. Large businesses likely have a legal department that is practiced at handling these situations, and they may even have a budget set aside specifically for legal matters. For small businesses, it is not so easy. Small business owners may think that the threat of legal action will never happen to them. The unfortunate truth is that this is simply not true. In fact, according to one poll, 43% of small business owners have been involved with or faced the threat of a lawsuit. 

The damages resulting from legal costs may be enough to put you out of business. Even if they don’t, the financial hardship will put immense stress on you and your employees. To add to that, the lawsuit may be something that harms your reputation in the eyes of the public or even the media. In order to protect yourself, your employees, and your bottom line from the myriad negative effects of a lawsuit, you must make sure you are properly prepared. This means having the right business insurance and good legal counsel available. 

What Kind of Insurance Is Needed to Prepare for a Lawsuit? 

It should go unsaid, but you need to make sure your business has the insurance coverage it needs before the threat of a lawsuit ever appears on the horizon. Because when it becomes too late, the consequences may just destroy everything. Here are the most common types of business insurance that can protect you against the consequences of a lawsuit. 

General Liability 

This policy is the first line of defense for small business owners facing a lawsuit. It is designed to cover common exposures and minimize your financial risks, such as the costs of undergoing a lawsuit. If an employee slips and falls or a customer accuses your business of false advertising, your general liability will protect you against these claims. It will also help with any legal fees, court costs, or settlement costs that may result from a lawsuit. 

Specialized Coverage 

Depending on your industry, your business may need more specialized insurance protection. Your independent insurance agent can help you to discern the unique risks of your business and your industry, then design an insurance profile that helps to cover these risks. That is why working with a local, independent insurance agent is so valuable. Because they live and work in your region or even community, they understand the issues you face every day. Don’t let your business go underinsured. Speak with your independent agent to make sure you have all the coverage you need to keep your business running even in the face of a lawsuit.

5 Tips for Driving at Night

5 Tips for Driving at Night

Depending on your job, you may need to do a lot of driving at night. Or perhaps you like to leave in the wee hours to go on family vacation, so you can arrive at a decent time the next day. Some drivers do prefer night driving because the roads are more open. Even so, night driving comes with a lot of setbacks and risks you need to be aware of. With the vision impairments and accidents associated with night driving, drivers should take the following night driving tips into consideration. 

Don’t Look Directly at Other Sources of Light

Oncoming headlights and other bright light sources can end up temporarily blinding you to the road and what’s ahead. Be sure to avoid looking directly at these. When you’re going through lighting changes (from a well-lit, populated highway to one that is much darker) allow your eyes to adjust before increasing the speed at which you’re traveling and use your brights if you’re away from other vehicles.

Avoid Overdriving Your Vehicle’s Headlights

The term “overdriving” refers to when you’re driving so fast that your stopping time is farther than you can see with your headlights. This is dangerous, especially if there are large vehicles like semi-trucks on the road. Make sure that your vehicle’s headlights are clean and have functioning bulbs so their beam of light shines as far as it can. Also, learn your approximate stopping time in relation to how far your lights illuminate in order to avoid overdriving and risking crashing into anything ahead of you. 

Watch Out for Wildlife

Your headlights can pick up the retinas of animals before your eyes can register their bodies. If you see two small glowing spots in the distance, slow down as much as you can, as an animal is most likely ahead. If the situation calls for you to choose between your safety and the animal’s, choose yours first. But remember that crashing into an animal at a high speed can greatly endanger you and cause serious damage to your vehicle. If you cannot swerve safely, you must slow down significantly. 

Don’t Drive Drowsy 

Driving at night can be tiring. If you aren’t well rested, your driving will inherently become impaired. If you are too fatigued, find a rest stop and take a break, or switch off with another person in the car — night driving is risky enough, so you’ll need all of your alertness to make the trip safely during this time.

Get Your Eyes Checked

If you haven’t done so already, it may be beneficial for you to schedule an eye exam. The frequency at which you should get one depends on your age and race. An ophthalmologist should be able to tell you what is recommended for your vision health.

Remember, traffic accidents and fatalities are greater at night. It’s of the utmost importance that you drive carefully when your vision and driving ability is impaired by the factors of the night. If you need auto insurance, call one of our agents today. 


Busting Common Life Insurance Myths

Busting Common Life Insurance Myths

September is life insurance awareness month. In that spirit, we’re going to bust some myths regarding the often-mysterious seeming insurance coverage. According to the 2019 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and LIMRA, 43% of American households do not have any life insurance. Furthermore, 40% of those households reported that they would immediately struggle to pay living expenses if their primary wage owner were to die without the security of life insurance. If so many Americans understand how important life insurance is, why do they remain uninsured?

Myth: life insurance is too expensive. 

This is a big one. Many American families do not feel comfortable enough with their financial situation to purchase a life insurance policy. They believe they cannot afford it, and that they probably won’t need it anyway. The truth is, none of us know what the future holds. Even healthy adults can pass from sudden illness or accident. It’s a hard truth, but there it is. And if this happens and a family is left without their primary wage owner, then they really won’t be able to afford anything. So how much does life insurance cost? This depends on the type of policy purchased and the limits. However, it is possible to purchase life insurance for about the same dollar amount as paying for your daily coffee. If you can afford that, you can afford life insurance. 

Myth: I’m too young to have life insurance.

Okay, we hear your train of thought here. You’re young, partnered or single, and you don’t have any plans for kids in the near future. Why on earth would you need life insurance? It comes back to the previous myth. When you are young and healthy and you purchase life insurance, there’s a very good chance your rate will be more favorable. Hint: that means lower. If it’s a dollar sign you’re concerned about, buying life insurance exactly when you think you don’t need it is your best bet. 

Myth: I can get life insurance later.

As mentioned above, the younger you are when you purchase life insurance, the lower your premiums are likely to be. As you age, it can become more difficult to get the life insurance coverage you need at the rate you want. And if you develop certain high-risk medical conditions, you could, unfortunately, be deemed “uninsurable” by carriers. 

Myth: I don’t need life insurance at all. 

Yikes. This kind of thinking can get you (or more specifically, your loved ones) into real trouble. Life insurance has more uses than you may think. In addition to providing income replacement to beneficiaries, life insurance can also cover funeral costs, pay off debts left behind, provide an inheritance or an education fund for a loved one, or even serve as a donation to a charity of your choice. With all of these potential uses, it’s easy to see that no matter what you will benefit from being covered by life insurance.

Now that you understand the need for life insurance, don’t be one of the 43% of Americans who are living without it. Talk to your insurance agent today. 

3 Ways To Make Your Home Kid-Friendly and Safe

3 Ways To Make Your Home Kid-Friendly and Safe

Moving into a new home can be an exciting, yet stressful, process. In the mix of things, you shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of your children. Use these tips to make sure that every area of your home is childproof and safe for your kids to play in.

Start With Rules

In order to ensure that your children understand what is safe and what is not, you need to set some ground rules. Identify certain rooms that your children are allowed to play in and those they are not able to be in. For instance, many families store power tools and other hazardous materials in their basement. Therefore, their children are not allowed in this room in order to guarantee that the kids are safe and sound.

Tell your children which rooms are off limits and which are completely okay. If you catch them disobeying your rules, explain to them why certain rooms are off limits so that they understand the reasoning behind the rules!

Keep Valuables Hidden

If you have anything incredibly valuable in your home, it is in your best interest to hide it out of reach from your children. Kids are naturally curious and will search all over the house for something interesting to play with. If you have any jewelry, valuable items, or something that may hurt the child such as sharp knives or firearms, make sure to always keep it out of their reach. From lost jewelry to unfortunate accidents, you do not want your children getting hold of your valuable items.

Avoid Glass Tables and Decorations

In an attempt to keep your children safe and decorate your house accordingly, try to avoid using glass tables in your home. Glass tables can easily break if there is an accident or someone was to fall. In addition, glass decorations can easily be picked up and dropped, resulting in shards of glass all over the floor and your home. Use other materials for your decorations, tables, and other areas of your home.

Even if your children stay completely safe in your home, there are other incidents that could befall it. Make sure you have the home insurance coverage you need to stay protected. Speak to your agent today about updating your homeowners policy, including adding coverage for valuable items.

Don’t Get a DUI: Tips to Have a Safe Holiday Weekend

Don’t Get a DUI: Tips to Have a Safe Holiday Weekend

A DUI charge can have serious consequences. For one, driving under the influence makes you a danger to yourself, your passengers, and others on the road. Each state has different laws and penalties, but in most cases your license will be suspended, you’ll have to pay large fees and fines, and you may even spend time in jail. Your car insurance premiums may also go up by a huge percentage, depending on your state. Police are more vigilant in looking for intoxicated drivers around holidays, so in light of the upcoming Labor Day weekend, here are some tips on how to have a safe holiday weekend.

Most Importantly: Don’t Drink and Drive

This is the simplest way to avoid a DUI. There is always a risk when you drink alcohol and drive, even if you are smart about it. You can keep yourself and others safe by avoiding the practice completely. One way of doing this is to simply not drink when you know you’ll need to drive a vehicle later or to use a designated driver. Everyone appreciates a designated driver (DD), and with your friends or partner you can take turns acting as the DD so no one has to do it all the time. You can also use a diver service app, taxi, or call someone to come pick you up. A little expense, or owing someone a favor, is worth it in the long run if you’re able to stay safe.

If You Do, Be Smart About It 

Three things are the most important when you drink alcohol and know you will be driving later. 

First: Hydration

Before you begin drinking, hydrate yourself by drinking several glasses of water. Also drink a glass of water in between every drink you have. One bonus of doing this is that you’ll end up spending less money on expensive drinks!

Second: Food

It is incredibly important to eat enough food before you drink alcohol. Consuming a full meal, especially one that contains protein and fats. It should be noted that after you begin drinking alcohol, eating food will not “absorb” the alcohol like many people believe it will. Only the food that is already in your stomach will slow down the rate that the alcohol enters your system. 

Third: Number of Drinks

Limit yourself to a small number of drinks. This number will change depending on your weight, age, and gender. There are methods and apps that you can use to estimate what your blood alcohol content may be. 

The Bottom Line 

The only thing that will, without fail, keep you from getting a DUI is to not drink and drive. This is especially important on a holiday weekend, where DUI patrols are increased. If you do partake, be responsible about it. It’s possible to enjoy your holiday weekend and still stay safe and DUI free.

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.