It’s easy to lower your insurance costs — especially if you have a great driving record, or don’t mind having higher deductibles.
Who doesn’t want to pay less for car insurance? Billions of dollars are spent on ad campaigns to convince you to “switch and save” — but the truth is, many people can find savings no matter who their insurance company is. According to the Insurance Information Institute and other experts, here’s how you can, too:
For more information, visit Safeco Insurance®.
There are lots of things no one wants to talk about – disability insurance is one of them. But the longer you ignore it, the less protected you are against long term financial risks due to unexpected illnesses and injuries.
Read on for guidance and answers to common questions about disability insurance. This information can help you get started and make the best decision based on your specific needs.
1. If you have people who depend on your income – or if you depend on your income – you need disability insurance. You might be surprised to learn that social security disability benefits are not available if you are expected to be out of work for less than a year. One year without income could deplete your savings and have a significant impact on your finances.
2. Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income when you can’t work. If you were unable to work due to illness or injury, disability insurance can help to pay your most essential expenses, including food, utilities, school tuition, home and car payments.
3. Most long-term absences are due to illnesses, not accidents. While many people think that disabilities are typically caused by accidents, the majority of long-term absences are actually due to illness.
4. You need it even if you’re young and healthy. Almost 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67. What’s more, it’s easier and less expensive to get disability insurance when you’re young and healthy.
5. The risk of a disability during your working years may be greater than you think. The risk of suffering a disabling illness or injury may be more likely than you realize. In fact, at least one in four of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disabling before they reach retirement age. Disability insurance helps you maintain a steady stream of income when you can’t work due to illness or injury.
6. A good rule of thumb is to protect 60-80% of your after-tax income. You will need to meet your essential living expenses if you should become disabled. 72% of consumer expenditures cover essential needs like housing, food, transportation, health care and education. This easy-to-use Disability Needs Calculator can help determine what amount of disability insurance is most appropriate for your situation.
7. Some disability insurance is better than no disability insurance. When budgets are especially tight, it still makes sense to buy enough disability insurance to cover rent or mortgage payments and keep your family in their home should you become disabled. Disability insurance is more affordable than you may think. For example, a healthy 35 year-old male may obtain a $1,000 monthly benefit for an initial premium of approximately $25 per month.
8. Make sure you know how much disability insurance you get at work. Check to see if disability coverage is made available to you through your employee benefits package. You might want to look carefully at coverage, however, since group benefits alone may not be enough due to potential benefit limitations and types of income covered.
9. There is no substitute for good advice. Seek advice on how much insurance is right for your needs. Talk to a trained financial professional or perform research online. Whichever approach works best for you, taking action to protect you and your family with disability insurance is an important part of a strong financial plan.
10. The financial strength and reputation of the company you buy from matters. When you purchase disability insurance, the company you buy from is making a long-term commitment to you. If you become disabled, there is a chance you will receive benefits for an extended period of time, so it makes sense to buy from a company with experience, financial strength and a solid reputation.
Call us today to talk about getting you a Disability Insurance quote!
Today, as car sharing has grown in popularity (well over a million people are members of various services in the U.S., according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC)), the number of options has grown, too.
You can borrow a company-owned car (think Zipcar or Car2Go) for a few hours at a time or for a daily rate, returning it to the spot where you picked it up or a drop-off area in a designated zone. You can even rent cars from other individuals—and rent your car to them.
There are benefits and drawbacks to car sharing—just as there are when driving your own car everywhere. But is sharing right for you? Here are four things you should consider before you get started.
There’s a lot to like about car sharing, but there’s a lot to think about, too. Don’t hit the road before you weigh the pros and cons—and make sure you’re protected.
For more information, check out SafeCo's website.
The winter holiday season is full of family, friends and festivities, but unfortunately, all that extra celebrating, cooking and decorating can pose potentially serious hazards at home. Knowing the risks and how to help avoid injury, theft and damage to property through the holiday season are important and can save you from expensive homeowners’ insurance claims.
1.Decorate wisely. To help reduce the risk of fire, use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations. Planning your displays carefully is important to help reduce the risk of fire, electrical shock, trips and falls and property damage. If you decorate a Christmas tree, select a quality artificial tree and decorate with only UL-listed lights. If you choose to have a fresh tree, be sure to keep water in the stand at all times.
2. Use candles responsibly. December is the peak time of year for home candle fires — the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Each year between 2012 and 2016, an average of 8,200 home candle fires were reported each year. Keep lit candles at least 1 foot away from anything that burns and make sure candles are out of reach of children and animals. Also, extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
3. Keep your tree away from heat sources. U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated annual average of 200 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause an estimated annual average of $14.8 million in direct property damage. A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires.
4. Prevent theft. Unfortunately, the holiday season sees an increase in break-ins. Always lock your doors, keep the garage closed, lock windows, and make note of strangers in your neighborhood. Whether you are hosting a party for the neighbors or leaving home for a holiday get away, secure your valuables in a personal safe or a locked room in your home. If you don’t have one already, consider purchasing an alarm system. Also, with the gift giving season in full swing, if you have recently acquired new valuables, inform your insurance agent so that your homeowners’ insurance policy can be updated so you have adequate protection.
5. Protect your pipes. Nothing could ruin the holiday more than the unanticipated damage a burst pipe could cause. The three central causes of frozen pipes are quick drops in temperature, poor insulation and thermostats set too low. Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic, even if you live in a climate where freezing is uncommon. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.
6. Be a responsible party host. If you plan to serve alcohol at any type of party, it’s important to take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you are covered with the proper insurance. Offer guests the option to stay over, have a designated driver to take people home at the end of the night and ensure no one is driving after they have been drinking.
7. Protect your identity. Protect yourself from hackers and identity thieves as you shop in stores and online this holiday season. Keep wallets, passports, smartphones and other sensitive items secure in bags or pockets and only take them out when needed. Only share your credit card and payment information online on trusted websites.
8. Test all your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Help avoid fire and smoke damage by making sure your home’s fire safety prevention system is working correctly. The National Safety Council recommends you install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
9. Inspect and clean your fireplace. Whether you have a natural or gas fireplace, it’s a source of heat and potential danger. Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected regularly. Also, don’t position your Christmas tree — or anything else — near the fireplace.
10. Practice kitchen safety. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round, and the increased use of stovetops and ovens for preparing holiday meals can increase the risk. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the second and third most common days for home cooking fires. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
11. Don’t overload electrical outlets & use proper extension cords. Don’t plug all of your holiday lights into one outlet or one circuit. Try to distribute the electrical load across several circuits to prevent any one from being overloaded. Extension cords should always be heavy-duty, quality cords that are grounded for fire safety. Never run extension cords under rugs or in areas where they pose a tripping hazard.
12. Follow dryer safety recommendations. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the number of dryer fires increases in the winter months and peak in January. Be sure to empty the lint screen before every load and remove all snow from the outside opening to the dryer vent. Also, never run the dryer while you’re asleep or away from home.
13. Avoid injuries in the home. Injuries requiring medical attention occur more often at home than in public places, the workplace and motor vehicle crashes combined, according to an analysis by the National Safety Council. The number and rate of unintentional home injury deaths has been steadily rising since 2000, largely due to increases in unintentional poisonings and falls, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
14. Keep matches and lighters away from kids. The number of blazes — and, tragically, the number of deaths — caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, the U.S. Fire Administration reports, and in December, that percentage doubles.
15. Prevent pet bites. The holidays are a busy time and can cause a lot of stress, especially on your furry companions. Pets can become over-excited or territorial when unfamiliar individuals enter your home. Dog bites are a common cause of injury to guests and as the home/pet owner, you could be liable for resulting medical bills.
For more information, please visit Property Casualty 360.
1. Customer Service – If you have coverage questions or worse, need to report a claim, would you rather reach an automated recording or an actual person when you call your insurance provider? More and more companies have switched to automated systems, often making it difficult and time consuming to reach the right person. However, at many independent insurance agencies, an actual person will still greet and assist you. In the unfortunate event of a claim, your agent can help you report the claim as well as explain what exactly your policy covers. If you’ve experienced a significant loss, such as water damage to your business, your insurance agent can help you there as well, connecting you to a reputable remediation company right away.
2. Personal Shoppers – Working with an independent insurance agent can be compared to having a personal shopper. Similar to the way in which a real estate agent sorts through properties to help you find your ideal home, an insurance agent reviews many different insurance companies’ rates and coverage options to help you secure policies that best suit your needs. You may believe that this comes at an additional cost to you, but independent agents do not add extra charges to insurance companies’ rates. So you can choose to work with an independent agent, who will handle your coverage needs, assist you with claims reporting and answer any questions you may have, from billing issues to coverage concerns, always advocating on your behalf, at no additional cost to you.
3. Community Involvement – In addition to assisting you, many independent insurance agents also actively help your local community. As local business owners, many insurance agency principals place a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. From sponsoring fundraisers and donating to local charities, to volunteering and serving as board members for non-profit organizations, there are many ways you may witness your local insurance agents giving back to the community, which can make you feel confident about your decision to do business with them.
4. Local Knowledge – It can be rewarding to witness your insurance agent supporting the community, but another local benefit you may not think of is your agent’s knowledge of your community. As local residents, many insurance agents have lived in your area for years and use their knowledge of the community to help you better reduce your risks and protect your assets. For instance, would an insurance company in the South be as familiar with New England’s high water tables in the spring that increase flood risks? If not, this provider may not be as likely to recommend basement water coverage, which is typically not included in a standard policy. Similarly, many independent agents will provide you with seasonal tips to help you reduce your risks, such as how to prevent ice dams and when you should consider raking your roof.
5. Understanding – Independent insurance agents understand that insurance can seem complicated and confusing, especially when you don’t deal with it on a daily basis. For this reason, your insurance agent will work to ensure that you fully understand your coverage, from what is and is not included, to the deductibles and limits you should carry. After you purchase your policies, an independent agent’s work isn’t over – instead, he/she is available year-round to help answer your questions, update your policy and make coverage recommendations.
6. One-Stop Shops – At many independent insurance agencies, you can take care of all your coverage needs at once, limiting the number of different companies you deal with and helping you stay organized. For example, if you own a small business, you can likely secure commercial insurance coverage from the same agency that insures your car and home. If you’re looking for health, life, or dental insurance, whether for your family or business, many insurance agents can help you there as well.
7. Reputation – Reputation plays a crucial role in finding a company you can trust, and many independent agencies take pride in the years, if not decades, they have spent serving their local communities. Not only can a company’s many years of service speak to its well-established reputation in the community, but it can also help you feel confident about its financial stability. Although there are many different ways to obtain insurance, would you rather obtain a quote from a startup Internet-based insurance provider that advertised on television, or call a local agent who your friends, co-workers and neighbors could recommend?
8. Knowledge – When you require legal advice, you contact a lawyer, and when a health issue arises, you visit your doctor, so when you need assistance with your insurance coverage, why not rely on an industry expert? In addition to having many years of experience in the industry, independent insurance agents have also worked with many different insurance companies and are knowledgeable about their individual strengths. Although one insurance company may provide unmatched claims service, another may offer more competitive rates. Based on what’s most important to you, whether it be a company’s service, rates, financial stability or a combination of all three factors, an independent agent will find the best match for you.
9. Saving Money & Time – Insurance companies that promise to drastically reduce your rates in minutes may seem cost-effective at first, but working with an independent agent can save you money and time over the long term. Instead of providing you with an instant rate, independent agents will ask questions and take the time to familiarize themselves with your business to ensure that the coverage they design will adequately protect you and your assets in the event of a claim.
10. Protection & Peace of Mind – Above all, working with an independent insurance agent will provide you with peace of mind, knowing that when you save money on your insurance, it won’t come at the expense of comprehensive coverage. When it comes to protecting your home, family, business and other invaluable assets, relying on an independent agent you can trust is a great place to start.