Lancaster & Associates Insurance, Inc. Blog
Basic Security Steps For Your Home in 2021
Few things are probably more sacred to you than what lies within the four walls of your home. You go home to feel safe, secure and confident that you will be protected while inside. However, you can’t eliminate every safety threat, particularly those of theft, vandalism, burglary or other unauthorized entry to your property. Any of these breaches could lead to an expensive homeowners insurance claim, and a feeling of true insecurity in a place where you are supposed to feel safe.
As we enter a new year, consider what you can do to make yourself more secure in your home. In the end, just a few simple adjustments can make your home much stronger in the face of security risks.
Practical New-Year Security Tips for Every Homeowner
The more security you have in your home, the less of a risk there is of something going wrong. As a result, you will have a lower risk of having to file a homeowners insurance claim. Therefore, your insurer might see that you are much more safe to invest in and might offer you lower premiums.
To beef up your home security in practical ways, consider the following steps:
Place an Alarm System in the Home
Most of today’s burglar, fire or carbon monoxide alarm systems are very sensitive and sophisticated. They can detect even minuscule problems long before they have time to grow into real and present dangers. They are also easy to install and maintain while still providing little intrusion into your day to day ability to occupy the home.
Consider a Smart Security System
Though simple security systems provide high levels of security themselves, the increased investment in a smart security system will only increase the benefits you receive. Smart security systems provide real-time monitoring of your home through an internet connection, and they will immediately alert you through your mobile device of a security breach.
Install Strategic Lighting
Predators cannot survive out in the open. Therefore, the more light your home has, the more risk they have of getting caught. Strategically lighting your home—particularly with the use of motion-activated lights—will help you leave little room for a potential predator to enter your home.
Replace or Reinforce Your Locks
No home security system is complete without the basic protection offered by strong, reliable lock-and-key systems throughout the home. The locks and handles on doors, windows, crawl spaces, cellars and other access points (both inside and outside the home) are your first line of defense against an intruder. If any of them are missing, damaged or simply old, they won’t be secure as they need to be.
Keep Valuables Under Lock and Key
The worst thing you can do with your valuables is to leave them on display. Placing a brand new TV within view of your picture window, or leaving your heirloom jewelry out on your dresser could be just the clue that someone dishonest would need to try to break in, pilfer and steal. Rather, be discreet when displaying these items, and store the items of the highest value in safes, strong-arm boxes or other secure locations.
Always tell your home insurer about any new security steps you’ve added. They can help you determine if these steps will qualify you for premium discounts.
How Many Home Insurance Claims is Too Many?
Most homeowners purchase a home insurance policy with the hope that they will never have to file a claim. Unfortunately, accidents happen and you may need to file a claim at some point to receive compensation for damages to your home or belongings. Filing too many claims in a short amount of time can cause issues with your insurer, however.
In general, there is no set amount to home insurance claims you can file. However, two claims in a five year period can cause your home insurance premiums to rise. Over two claims in the same period may affect your ability to find coverage and even lead to a cancelled policy. This also depends on what type of claims are being filed.
If these claims are valid, meaning they are not fraudulent, then the insurer may consider you too high risk to insure because of the dangers posed in your area, such as extreme weather or high crime rates. On the other hand, if there are too many fraudulent claims—meaning home insurance claims that are filed but denied—an insurer may cancel your policy.
When Should You Not File a Home Insurance Claim?
You should carefully consider each incident before filing a home insurance claim. All damages should be appraised by a professional. If the cost of repairs cost less than your home insurance deductible, you will not want to file a claim. For example, say damages to your home amount to $500 but your home insurance deductible is $1,000. Since you cannot meet the $1,000 deductible, you may be expected to pay for the $500 in repairs out of pocket. This also allows you to avoid your home insurance rates going up after filing a claim.
How Long Do Home Insurance Claims Stay on Your History?
A typical home insurance claim may last on your record for five to seven years. This means that your home insurance rates can continue to be affected even five years after a home insurance claim. If you have any questions about your home insurance policy or premiums, be sure to ask your insurance agent for clarification.
There are several ways to save money on home insurance even if you have past claims on your policy, such as asking about discounts, building your credit score and increasing the safety of your home with things such as upgraded fire alarms and a burglary alarm system.
Questions You Should Ask Before Buying Business Insurance
Protecting your business with the right insurance policy is one of your many responsibilities as a business owner and it is crucial to have the best policy. No two businesses are the same and your insurance needs can vary depending on the industry and other factors.
Before purchasing a business insurance policy, be sure to ask these questions of your business and your insurance agent.
What Insurance Does Your Industry Require?
In some industries, you may be required to carry certain types of insurance in order to operate or obtain important licenses. These requirements obviously vary per industry, but generally include liability coverages such as liquor liability insurance being required for businesses that make or distribute alcohol.
What are Your Business’ Most Valuable Assets?
Different businesses have different focuses. Some businesses have valuable equipment while others focus on service or produce. You will want coverage tailored to cover your business’ equipment and products. If your businesses uses vehicles for work purposes, you will also need commercial auto insurance.
Physical items aren’t the only asset to a business, however. Employees are a crucial part for growing and maintaining a successful business. Employees should be covered under business insurance such as workers compensation and directors and officers insurance.
What Liability Risks Does Your Business Face?
Liability relates to lawsuits that can be filed against your business by third parties. General liability is one of the most common liability insurance policies, as it covers common claims concerning third party bodily injury, property damage and personal or advertising injury. Depending on your industry and services offered, different liability risks could threaten your business’ finances. Ask about policies to protect your business against claims such as professional liability, umbrella liability, cyber liability and more.
How Can You Bundle Your Business Insurance?
Bundling your business insurance coverages can help you get more comprehensive coverage by saving money. A business owners policy (BOP), for example, combines commercial property insurance and general liability into a flexible policy for small businesses. Ask about how you can save money on business insurance by bundling coverages.
When looking to protect your business, make sure to evaluate all of the risks and ask an insurance agent for clarification on any questions you may have. Your business is a huge investment and your policy should be tailored to match its unique property and liability risks.
How Does Health Insurance Work with Children?
Health insurance is an important necessity for every individual and family in the U.S. With rising healthcare costs, it is crucial to have some help paying for important medical bills and checkups—even more so when you have children.
Children are known for getting into mischief or falling ill more easily as they build up immunity to the world we live in. You need to protect your child with the right health insurance policy so that they can get the healthcare you need without sending your family into financial struggle.
Thankfully, most health insurance policies will cover your children.
While there are no private health insurance policies specifically for children, a parent’s policy either through a private insurer or from their employer should cover their family, which includes their spouse and children. This means that whenever your family needs medical attention, prescription drugs or a procedure, you should turn to your health insurance policy to file a claim.
This does not mean everything is covered for your child under health insurance, however. Many of the same restrictions that are in place for adults also apply to children. Common exclusions include coverage for deductibles, copayments, dental, vision and more.
There are some federal and state programs that offer more specific health insurance for children such as Medicaid and CHIP (The Children’s Health Insurance Program). These state and federal programs follow certain legal requirements which include offering coverage to children for things such as dental and vision care, which are commonly excluded under normal health insurance policies.
Many of these plans are geared toward families who do not have enough money for private health insurance and are available through health insurance marketplaces. If you are struggling to provide your children with health insurance, be sure to look in your area and seek assistance with your child’s healthcare and health insurance.
Every family is different, as are your health insurance needs. Be sure to compare quotes and coverages between the many health insurance policies available so that you and your children can get the best coverage possible. The last thing any parent wants is to risk their child not getting the healthcare they need, especially in an emergency. If you have any questions about covering your children, including babies, toddlers and children under the age of 25, be sure to speak with your insurance agent.
Can a Car Be Totaled in a Single Car Accident?
When drivers think of totaled vehicles, they primarily think of dangerous accidents involving multiple cars and drivers. However, single car accidents can be just as devastating. Getting into an accident on your own can cause substantial damages to your vehicle and injure anyone in your vehicle.
Keep in mind that how a totaled vehicle is calculated does not have to do with the accident itself, but the damage involved. If the damage done to your vehicle would cost more to repair than it would to replace, your vehicle may be declared totaled.
Your insurer will calculate the value of your vehicle compared to how much repairs will be. If your vehicle is totaled, you may receive payment for the actual cash value of the vehicle minus your deductible rather than compensation only to make repairs on certain damaged areas.
Can You Prevent a Car from Being Totaled?
There is no real way to prevent your vehicle from being declared as totaled once it has already been damaged. The only way to prevent severe damage to your vehicle is to drive defensively and avoid distractions on the road, such as food and cellphones.
You should hold off on making repairs to your vehicle after an accident until you hear back from your insurer, as they will want to investigate the damage and help calculate whether your vehicle is indeed totaled. Keep in mind that totaling your vehicle isn’t the end of the world. As long as everyone is safe, it can be cost effective to purchase a new vehicle rather than trying to repair a totaled one.
Will Car Insurance Go Up After a Car is Totaled?
In general, your car insurance rates will go up after an accident whether it is a single car accident, multi-car accident, totaled or not totaled. Any incident involving your vehicle and insurance provider may impact your rates
The rates at which your premiums will go up can vary depending on the circumstances and severity of the accident, however. For example, a single-car accident involving no injuries may only last on your record from three to five years. However, a severe accident in which you incur a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can last on your driving record for an upwards of 10 years. This means that, as long as the accident it on your record, that is how long you may see a related increase in car insurance prices.
Can You Be Denied for Life Insurance?
Although it may come as a surprise, you can be denied life insurance while shopping for a policy. While this is rare, it does happen and it is important to know why as well as what to do if you are denied life insurance.
Serious Medical Conditions
Life insurance premiums are denied based on the policyholder’s life expectancy. The shorter that life expectancy is, the higher premiums may be for a life insurance policy. However, some medical conditions spell as too high of a risk for insurance providers to cover. If you have a serious medical condition such as heart disease, you could actually be denied life insurance.
However, insurers are not supposed to drop clients who are later diagnosed with serious medical conditions. The only time an insurer may generally cancel an already active life insurance policy is in the case of nonpayment or fraud.
Failing Your Medical Exam
Most insurance providers will require a medical evaluation as part of their application process. Before you can get a policy, you may be expected to participate in a medical exam. Just like with serious medical conditions, a poor result on your medical exam can lead to a life insurance policy being denied.
Positive Drug Test(s)
As part of your medical exam, you may also be expected to take a drug test. While some drugs are more harmful than others, it is the harmful ones that could land you in trouble. Certain drugs result in lower life expectancy and testing positive can mean that you may be denied life insurance.
Hobbies and Habits
Believe it or not, factors aside from your basic health can also influence your ability to get a life insurance policy, such as your hobbies. If you participate in dangerous or “high risk” extracurricular activities, you could pay higher rates for life insurance or even face a denied life insurance policy.
High risk activities and hobbies may include smoking, skydiving, rock climbing and more.
If you are having trouble finding a life insurance policy for one reason or another, be sure to review the facts about the denials and look for other venues of coverage. Life insurance may be available through your employer, for example. These life insurance policies do not always offer the recommended rate of coverage, but they do offer a benefit to your loved ones in case you pass away.
Why You Are Never Too Young For Life Insurance
Are you in your twenties and considering life insurance? Do you not see the benefit of it? Did you think that life insurance was something you bought when you had kids or got older? Think again. Life insurance is often easier to get and cheaper to afford while you are still in your 20s.
The Purpose of Life Insurance
By buying life insurance on yourself, you leave a financial resource for those who survive you if you die. When the insured person dies, the money in a life insurance policy goes to a beneficiary. The policy can provide that person with help in settling the deceased’s affairs and more.
Even when you are young, that doesn’t mean you are invincible. By getting life insurance, you will have a safety net available for those who come after you.
Benefits of Life Insurance for Twenty-Somethings
If you are still on the fence about getting life insurance, then consider some scenarios that millions of young people encounter every day. Life insurance can provide a great benefit to anyone your age:
- Do you have a dependent?
If you have a spouse or a child, then you likely want to provide for them if something happens to you. By getting life insurance early, you can have a cushion in place for them from the get-go.
- Does someone depend on you financially?
Maybe you have a parent who is sick. Or, you might take care of a younger sibling who has a disability. If something were to happen to you, what would this person do? With life insurance, you have the option to leave the money to them directly, or you might place the money in a trust. With a trust, the money has rules for when your beneficiaries can use it. Therefore, it can go towards this person's care.
- Do you have debt?
You might have a car loan, student loans, or even the credit card debt that many young people take a few years to reduce. If these remain when you die, your life insurance can help your survivors settle these debts. This is especially true if someone has co-signed on a loan for you.
- Do you want to save money on your premiums?
When you are young, your chances of dying are often lower than someone who is middle-aged. So, your risk is low to the insurance company. As a result, you are often able to get a more affordable premium. You can often lock in the premium over the lifetime of the policy, which is a great cost benefit.
Instead of waiting to get life insurance, think about the advantages of getting covered while young. It can really give you and your loved ones peace of mind.
Tips to Handle Stress!
Stress may lead to many health problems such as depression, heart disease, anxiety, high blood pressure, or even stroke. Here are some ways to de-stress and keep yourself healthy, according to the American Heart Association!
Make a list. Making a list of the things you need to prioritize throughout the day may help you feel less overwhelmed. Try making a list of the things you must get done and check them off as you go! This way, you feel accomplished crossing things off the list and won't feel so buried in work. Lists can also help you break down bigger problems, so you don't tackle everything at one time.
Exercise. Exercising is a great way to reduce stress. Go for a walk, run or anything try active to clear your mind, and help relieve some of that pent-up stress!
Relax. Try taking a few deep breaths and count to 10 to help your body relax a bit. Take some time to do these things before you react to a situation. And if something is not an urgent matter, respond to the situation the next day so you do not feel overwhelmed.
Get some sleep. Sleep can make you feel more productive throughout the day and help you tackle that list of priorities you made. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and wake up ready to take on the day!
Tips to Stay Safe This Summer!
Want to avoid summer accidents that you could be liable for? Check out these tips on how to be safe around pools, trampolines and ATV/Motorcycles:
- Pools: We all love sitting by the pool and relaxing. But it is important to be safe around them to avoid any accidents. Be sure to keep constant supervision on younger swimmers and have them wear the proper floatation gear if they are not tall enough to reach the bottom. Clear out any extra pool toys that nobody is using so nobody trips and falls on them. Lastly, make sure that all other pool equipment like diving boards, slides or ladders are working properly so no major accidents can be caused.
- Trampolines: Trampolines are another fun thing to enjoy during the summer months. But make sure to follow the proper safety when having children on one. Make sure children are always supervised. Having safety netting around the trampoline can reduce the risk of someone falling off and getting hurt. Keeping the springs on the trampoline covered can also help prevent injury. And finally, make sure that nobody is attempting any dangerous stunts on the trampoline.
- ATV/Motorcycle: Now that summer has arrived, there will be a lot more motorcycles and ATVs out. Make sure that all riders are wearing the proper safety gear like helmets, proper clothing to avoid exposed skin, and padding to help reduce the risk of severe injury. On motorcycles, follow all traffic safety laws and avoid injuring yourself or others on the road. Follow all the rules regarding where and what times of the day you are allowed to ride ATVs and avoid any dangerous stunts on ATVs to reduce the risk of anyone getting severely hurt.