If you think of home security you may think of bulky cameras and a bunch of wires, not really the case anymore.
Today, things have changed quite a bit. Advanced tools and security systems are more accessible and affordable than ever. (And installing them might get you a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.)
Full-service systems are still a popular option with many people. Companies offer central monitoring, video surveillance, and more. Some even include home automation tools so you can control appliances from anywhere, and many will send text-message alerts in response to specific occurrences, such as when the kids enter the house after school.
Doing it yourself has become easier than ever with more options…
- Smart Cameras: Cameras today can be tucked anywhere and don’t require wires. With a good battery and wi-fi connection, you can even set it up where you can see what is happening outside or inside on your computer or mobile device.
- Key-Free Doors: Say you have a friend stopping by to check on your dog while you’re gone for the day. You don’t have to risk leaving a key outside. With a code-based entry system, you can simply provide your friend with temporary access that turns on and off when you want.
- Home Automation Products: It’s easier than you think to give yourself remote access to the lights and appliances in your home. There are some products available that can help you make this happen.
So whether you hire a company, do it yourself or just employ a few “old-school” motion detected lights. They can all go a long way in making your home less attracted to burglars. Some of these systems could even get a discount on home insurance.
It is becoming more and more common to meet strangers with internet shopping with such sites as Craigslist. But it is important that you think of precautions that need to be exercised for a safe transaction.
Here are a few things to think about.
- Use Common Sense and your instincts during communication with the other party.
- Try to speak with them on the phone as well as text interactions, this means that if they are claiming to be a 20 year old girl and sound like a 40 year old man, there may be a problem.
- Meet in a public place, preferably at a local police station, that is well lit with a lot of people around.
- Do not invite strangers to your home for the exchange, even if it is a large piece or furniture or along those lines for the purchase.
- Try to bring someone with you.
- Tell family and friends where you are going and/or check in on social media sites.
- Be especially careful if you are buying/selling high value items.
- Only bring the amount of cash that is agreed upon, if you bring extra store in a different location. It is not a good idea to have extra bills you are flipping through when handing the seller the agreed upon amount.
- Bring your cell phone along.
- Trust your instincts.
There are a lot of factors to consider regarding your auto insurance rates, when is come to this there may be a few things about the coverage that your didn’t realize that are helpful to know…
- Personal Items lost during a vehicle theft are not covered under your auto policy. – They are covered under your home owners policy, but if you regularly carry expensive items such as laptops or GPS devices you should have a rider and photos attached to your auto policy for coverage.
- Auto Insurance is tax deductible for percentage used for business. – You just need to calculate the amount of travel you use your auto for on business, that percentage is tax deductible. Make sure to share business use amounts of your auto with your insurance company for proper coverage.
- Your Occupation effects rates. – Examples are engineers as they are deemed less likely to be involved in accidents as well as teachers can ask for a discount based on occupation.
- In Georgia you can ask for Diminished Value on your vehicle following a claim.- This is because it is worth less than when you were in the accident but is must be requested(it is not automatic) and difference in value will be determined by the insurance carrier. This is applicable when the accident is not your fault, a check for determined about is sent to you
- If you switch your policy to a different company, make sure you cancel your old policy.- Otherwise, it will be shown on your credit report as cancelled for non-payment.
- Make sure your vehicle information is listed correctly on your policy. –Believe it or not this can make a big difference. things such as incorrect mileage, two door instead of four door selected or the wrong model selected can make a difference in rate.
- Affiliations with such groups as AAA and other related companies can lower your rate.- Ask your carrier which affiliations can result in these rate decreases.
- If a friend borrows your car and gets in an accident, your insurance will handle the claim.- That means you are responsible for the deductible and your rates will likely be increased due to the claim.
- You should insure your cars and home with the same company to get a multi-line discount.
- Your Credit Score affects your auto insurance rates.- Research shows links between credit score and likelihood to file a claim. If insurers see that you pay your bills on time and have had long standing credit you are viewed and more stable and the rates reflect his.
The news has been no stranger to data breaches that have included such high-profile businesses as Target, Home Depot, and the Heartbleed with hackers getting access to usernames, passwords and other personal details.
Following that, last week Anthem, the world’s second largest health insurer, has been breached and it is suspected that 80 million Americans could have had their social security numbers, email addresses, name and physical addresses compromised in the latest attack. While they have said that no medical information or credit card information was compromised, the information breached is a prime target for identity theft.
In light of this, here are some suggestions to consumers concerned that there information may have been stolen:
- Anthem has a dedicated website and is offering free credit monitoring. The website is www.anthemfacts.com and the dedicated hotline is 877-263-7995. You can look there to read more about getting the credit monitoring or call with any questions regarding.
- Consider a credit freeze. Credit monitoring only puts alerts on your account with the three main business bureaus and are often ignored. Credit freeze can be done for a time and seals your credit reports so no new application for credit can come in. A PIN can be used to temporarily “thaw” your credit if you have any legitimate applications for credit you need to file. The credit freeze will cost anywhere from zero to $10 per credit bureau and needs to be completed with all three.
- Credit freezes can be done for your children as well.
- Be vigilant in checking your credits reports with such sources as annualcreditreport.com as a free credit report check option.
- Expect for scammers to take advantage of the information received from this data breach and be sending out phishing emails and other messages to appear from Anthem, credit bureau and other seemingly legitimate sources.
- Make sure your protect consumer’s data, if it can happen to major corporations with data security measures in place, it can happen to any business.
- The Better Business Bureau has a “Data Security Made Simple” guide available online with free info on how to create a data security plan, which every business needs to have in place.
- Talk to your insurance agency to make sure that you have a cyber security policy is place should any data breach occur.
Flu season is still going strong. If someone in your home has the flu or your want to prevent spreading it during flu season, here are some steps to assist in that process.
- Clean Hands: Doctors recommend alcohol based hand rub or soapy water to wash your hands for flu prevention. Scrub your hands, don’t just wash them, the friction causes the germs to wash away. If using hand sanitizer, it needs to be at least 60% alcohol.
- Disinfect: Common areas and frequently touched areas need to be sanitized(such as handles, remotes, faucets, door knobs, light switches etc…) these need to be sprayed or wiped with disinfectants.
- Wash: Fabrics, bedding and towels need to be washed.
- Use effective cleaning solutions: Use sanitizing or disinfecting cleaners. Use paper towels or throw-away wipes and not germ collecting items such as sponges to wipe. Read and make sure it is safe to use on children products before wiping toys or high chairs.
As drivers we should do all that we can to avoid accidents. But if you are in an accident, it is important that you do what you can to make a stressful situation go a little smoother and avoid making the situation worse.
Here are some thins to practice and that should be automatic in this situation.
- Report: Not matter who is responsible, accidents need to be reported.It is a criminal offense to leave the scene of an accident, so stick around.
- Move: If your vehicle is drivable, move the vehicle off of the road.
- Stay: Stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive unless you need medical attention.
- Call: Make the calls to police, insurance, home and office as needed.
- Data Collection: Get License numbers from vehicles involves, names and contact information.If there was any property damage surrounding , get the names of the owners, address and contact info.
- Don’t discuss: Do not discuss fault or argue with the other parties involved. One should be calm and businesslike at the accident scene.
- Take Pictures: If you have a camera or your phone, take pictures from different angles including directions the vehicles approached the accident location.
- Record: Make a written statement while all of the details are fresh in your mind. This will also need to be provided to your insurance company.
Hopefully, you will not need to use these tips, but just in case there they are.
So you have homeowners insurance, that is great. But what about the valuables inside your home? Did you know that most policies only $1,500 in the event of a loss of your valuables? This is not enough to cover such items as jewelry, furs, art, stamp collections, baseball cards or your grandmother’s pearl necklace in the event of a loss.
So how do you make sure that you are covered for your important collections and high value possessions?
- Take Note: Make an inventory of your possessions. Consider making a video of these items rather than trying to catalog every single item. Either make sure this list is up to date for such events as valuable Christmas gifts and items you add to your collection over time.
- Appraise: You may want to have a professional appraisal periodically to find the value of the items you have such as gold, silverware etc…this will not only help you decide how much coverage you need but also speed up the claims process in the event of a loss.
- Communicate: Let your agent know about important collectibles and other high value property items . When your agent know what you have they can discuss any coverage restrictions and the what you may need to make sure you have proper coverage.
- Get Coverage: Talk to agent about scheduling your higher values collectibles, collections, and personal property. This endorsement is attached to your homeowners policy and provides additional coverage to make sure you have adequate coverage on these items in the event of a loss. This will result in an additional charge but it provides broader coverage. In most cases you can get this without a deductible.
Here are some common traps policy holders fall into that can cause premiums to increase or make you realize later that you do not have the right coverage. Avoid these common policy pitfalls and turn frown on your insurance policies upside down.
This will also provide some insight into things you need to think about related to your policy as well as policy offenses to avoid that negatively effect your policy and consequently your premium.
- Late Payments- if you do not pay your policies on time and your policy lapses or cancels you’ll be facing a higher rate when you buy another policy. Life Insurance policy lapses are even more costly, as this is a policy that you qualify for you may not be able to replace the policy nor at the same price.
- Don’t give the Ex the “X”- don’t forget to change the beneficiary from your ex spouse to your current spouse. Legally, the benefits have to be paid to the listed beneficiary. Talk about family drama.
- Not sharing important facts- don’t “lose” a insurance policy for your family. tell your beneficiaries who your life insurance is with so they will have this when the time comes.
- Fail to take advantage of open enrollment for health insurance- Don’t miss this chance to add or remove dependents from your health plan, This is also the time to change deductibles and other coverage options. You can also make the individual plan a family plan.
- Adding the addition to the health plan-When your child your child is born you have 30 days to add the baby to your health plan or you will be paying all of their healthcare out of pocket.
- The new car secret- That new car is only covered for a short period of time with your broadest coverage on already owned autos. If you don’t let your agent know you will be without coverage in a few weeks.
- Drive for Uber- be careful when you agree to use your personal vehicle with traditional coverage for commercial purposes. This is considered business use and must have a commercial policy to be covered.
- Get a DUI-drinking and driving will hit your insurance policy hard. It will not only increase your rate by a large amount if you have a prior offense you will not keep the policy. This will put you in a non-standard market which will raise your rate even higher. Yet another reason to call the taxi and not drink and drive.
- Loaning the car out- Keep in mind coverage follows the car, you are responsible for what happens to the vehicle when you lend the car to family or friends.
- Small Claims- Making a claim for every little scratch and dent can cost you. Don’t bother making claims for damage less than your deductible. Piling up small claims can cause a big increase in your policy premium.
- Neglecting Home Inventory-Not having a items list or recorded home inventory can cost you in the event of a large home claim(ex: fire or tornado), it is hardto recall from memory all the items of value which means you will not be reimbursed for them.
- Review your insurance policies every year- this goes back to the insurance resolutions post earlier this month. Failing to do this can result in being over or under insured. Insurance needs change.
Entering auto thefts happen frequently and are most often a crime of opportunity. Meaning that this occurs when doors are unlock or windows are open. Keeping that in mind here are some tips to prevent these types of auto theft.
- While at home use a garage to store your vehicle. Make sure all doors are locked and windows are closed even when at home.
- Remove items/valuable from plain view. Examples of this are loose change, purses, electronics and other items of value.
- Always park in public areas that are frequented by pedestrians. Avoid parking in isolated areas.
- Secure items on a truck such as the tool box, trunk and hatches.
- If you hear anything suspicious such as shattering glass, call 911. Same goes for if you see someone looking into cars.
Have you looked at your policies lately? It is important to recognize that your insurance needs change over time as you change vehicles, jobs, add to your family and grow older.
When you do need to use the insurance that you pay for, you do not want to learn later that you do not have enough insurance.
Conversely, you want to make sure you are not carrying too much insurance and are not missing some potential savings.
These are some useful tips and resolutions to keep in mind related to your insurance policie this new year.
- Review Vehicle Usages: Make sure your policy accurately reflects how your vehicle is being used. How often do you use the sports car? Is it designated for leisure use? Is your vehicle older than 10 years, perhaps you do not need full coverage (comprehensive and collision) on the vehicle since the insurance company only pays for repairs up to the value of your car. Most importantly make sure you are driving carefully out there since the premium you pay for your auto insurance is largely determined by driving record.
- Inventory: The new year is a great time to update an inventory of your possessions. You will need an accurate list is you have a home insurance claims. You may have received holiday presents or there are new items in your house such as a flat-screen TV. If you do not want to write everything down a popular way of documenting you belonging is by video recording. You may want to cover some of these items individually through a rider or personal articles policy if they are high value items. Also make sure the coverage on your home is high enough to rebuilding your home with today’s construction prices.
- Life Savings: You could be able to reduce life insurance rates if you have followed through or follow through on your New Years resolutions of losing weight, quit smoking, or are able to come off some previous medications.
- Know where you live: If your home is listed on a flood plan, Resolve to get flood insurance coverage this year. Homeowners and Renters policies do not cover flooding.