Tri County Insurance Services 2016 Blog Feed
Marriage & Your Insurance
September 21, 2016
You’re married! Congratulations! Your life may or may not change now, but your insurance rates and coverage possibilities probably will.
But, how? We’ve broken it down for you below.
A married driver is rated differently than a single driver. Your premium should definitely decrease – all we need is a copy of your marriage certificate.
If you haven’t already added your spouse’s car to your insurance policy, you’ll also save a little bit with the multi-car discount. This works for non-married partners, too!
Whether you rent or own, you’ll want to protect your brand new wedding gifts. You may need to increase your personal property coverage to cover everything. And if you didn’t already live together, you know have twice the amount of personal belongings!
Hopefully you insured the engagement ring, but what about the wedding bands? You can also add these to your home insurance policy, or get a separate policy, just for the rings. It’s usually more cost effective to add jewelry to your home insurance policy, but not always.
Some companies allow spouses to join their spouse’s health insurance plan for a minimal fee. This can be worth checking into!
Although we don’t want to think about any tragedy taking place, it’s important to be prepared. Life insurance will help your spouse (and future children, if you have any) financially in the event of your passing. You can also lock in a lower premium if you start your policy at a younger age
When is Wedding Insurance Actually Used?
June 8, 2016
This summer, while your Facebook feed fills with images of bridal showers and weddings of friends or strangers, many soon to be brides and grooms are busy preparing for (and possibly stressing about) their special day.
If you are currently planning a wedding, we strongly encourage purchasing wedding insurance. Like with all insurance, it’s peace of mind in “what if” situations. As a recent newlywed, I’m here to tell you first hand why wedding insurance is important.
There are two main reasons.
Your venue says so. Our venue didn’t give us an option. We needed specific liability limits and to list the venue as an additional insured on the policy.
Protect yourself and your family against something going wrong. As with any other day, you can’t assume that your wedding day will go perfectly.
So what are you protecting against?
No one will get injured, right? Well, not necessarily. We were lucky that no one was injured, especially considering the MANY ways people could have been hurt. For instance:
§ A friend dropped her drink on the dance floor, causing the drink to spill and the glass to break. Tons of us were dancing barefoot. Someone could have slipped or stabbed their foot (or worse) on a piece of glass
§ Both my parents almost fell down the stairs. And no, my parents weren’t drinking. The stairs to the bridal suite had poor lighting, which is a recipe for disaster when the women are trying to walk up or down the stairs in high heels and a long gown. No guests wandered up there during our wedding, but if they had and they tripped, we would have an injured and angry friend or relative on our hands, and possibly a medical bill.
§ We had at least 9 candles on each table. Anyone could have burned themselves or scorched their tie or their hair if they reached in or leaned over incorrectly, even though we followed proper fire protocol for candles. I was recently at a wedding where a napkin accidentally ended up on top of a candle. That could have ended badly, but we noticed and moved the napkin.
§ The train of my dress kept falling out of its bustle, and I almost tripped quite a few nice people who were trying not to step on my dress. I actually almost tripped on my own dress during our first dance.
§ At one point, my heel accidentally lodged itself in the wood plank on the patio. Anyone could have done the same and fallen in their attempt to remove their shoe. Ouch
No show vendors
One of our vendors got stuck behind a terrible car accident and was late. It didn’t end up affecting the day, but what if one of our vendors couldn’t show up? We’ve already paid a hefty deposit, and they won’t give us the money back? Or, what if the caterer can’t make it, and you have to find a new one at the very last minute? Wedding insurance can help cover a portion of the cost of the original contract price.
Cancellation or postponement of the wedding
What would happen to your deposits if the event is cancelled or postponed because the venue goes out of business, certain family members fall ill, or the bride or groom is suddenly called to duty? Your wedding insurance can reimburse you for the deposits you now lost, so you can focus on what’s important.
Photography and Video
If the photographer is a no-show or if they lose all your photographs, your wedding insurance can pay for the cost to get your bridal party together again to re-take the photos you missed out on.
Bride and Groom Attire
You found the perfect dress or suit and now it was lost or damaged (but not your fault)? Insurance can help you repair or replace it. This is especially important for couples having a destination wedding. Airlines have been known to displace luggage in the past.
Your wedding day should be a day full of happiness, and a wedding insurance policy can help ensure that it if anything goes wrong, you are covered. With a premium as low as $200, it’s definitely worth it.
*Disclaimer: Read your wedding insurance policy thoroughly to check coverages. Each policy may be different and may not include the specifics mentioned above.
Protect Your Home From Wildfires
June 6, 2016
There may be nothing you can do to prevent a wildfire near your home. However, if you live in an area where wildfires pose a threat to your home, there are steps you can take to protect your home. You can also take the same steps to protect your home from embers from a nearby house fire.
For Your Home
1. When choosing a home in a high risk area, look for a home and neighborhood with several exit routes. These will come in handy if one of your routes is blocked.
2. Make sure your roof is made of non flammable materials (wood shingles are flammable). Instead use Class A non combustible materials.
3. If you have a barrel tile roof, you can use grout to seal open edges. This prevents any embers from making their way into your home.
4. Windows can break from just the heat of a wildfire. To protect your windows, use tempered glass or multilayered glazed panels in all exterior windows, glass docks, and sky lights. Another option is to “install solid, exterior shutters.”
5. Any siding materials used in your home should be fire resistant.
6. The best exterior walls in a high fire area are stucco, stove, or brick.
7. Spark arrestor should be installed in the chimney, while one-quarter inch non combustible screening can be added to add vent or eave openings.
8. Install properly working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers
9. Maintain your irrigation system.
10. Your address should be visible from the street.
11. Fire sprinklers mounted on the home can protect the roof, walls, and windows of your home.
12. Covering vents with wire mesh will help keep out debris that has caught on fire.
For Your Yard
1. Try to make a 100 yard wide safe zone around your house. Use fire resistant plans if possible. Live on a hill? Since fire spreads more quickly uphill, expand the zone on the downhill side of your house.
2. Properly prune all trees and shrubs, and remove any dead plant materials from your property. Remove any tree branches that are not higher than 6 feet from the ground.
3. Help bar wind-driven burning materials from reaching your home by staggering trees.
4. Keep flammable items such as firewood, picnic tables, and boats at least 50 feet from the home. Propane tanks and other flammable chemicals should be at least 100 feet from the home, and if possible, kept in a fire rated safety storage locker.
5. Wood fencing should not be connected to your home.
6. Regularly clean roof surfaces and gutters.
For Your Family
1. Teach any adults how to use the fire extinguisher and how to shut off utilities. Use your judgment to determine if you should teach any children and teenagers.
Sources: http://www.mercuryinsurance.com/tips/wildfire-preparedness.html; https://www.alliedinsurance.com/home-wildfire-protection.jsp; https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/mother-nature/wildfire-safety/home-protection.aspx; https://www.travelers.com/business-insurance/risk-control/protecting-your-business/Docs/Wildfires-Planning-Ahead-296.aspx
Wildfire Evacuation Tips
June 6, 2016
Wildfires can spark and spread at a moment’s notice. If you are in a high risk area, you may only have a few seconds to grab your family and get out the door. However, there are preparations you can make for a smooth escape. Although it is difficult to leave your home in danger, your family’s safety is most important, so if you are asked to evacuate, please do so immediately.
What Can I do to prepare my family for evacuation
1. Prepare an evacuation plan, including a checklist of what to do and what to take. It helps if you already have a survival kit ready. Your disaster survival kit would be a great start! Hopefully you also have a kit in your car.
2. Evacuation centers are always set up, but if you have a family member or friend you can stay with, that might be preferable. Make plans ahead of time so you and your family knows where to go.
3. Your evacuation plan should include a scenario in which your family is not all together, as well as if no one is home and you have enough notice to get your pets. Where will you meet? Who will pick up the kids and who will pick up the pets? Will a neighbor grab your pets for you?
4. Make sure your car has gas. You don’t want to get stuck because your car ran out of gas. A great rule is to never allow your gas tank to go below 1/4 full.
5. Round up all your pets and family members and stay in one room together. This makes it easier to quickly leave the house.
6. Park the car facing the evacuation route.
7. If you are being evacuated, you may not have time to grab your whole survival kit but according to evacuees surveyed by the American Red Cross, the following items are must haves for evacuating a wildfire (we added a few of our own too):
-Medications for family AND pets
-Cash in small bills & coins; credit cards and ID- Comfortable clothing (think sweats and sturdy shoes)
-Personal Items (cell phones and chargers, family pictures, tablet/laptop with chargers, your bed pillow, favorite books, something for kids to play with if you have young children)
-Insurance paperwork and contact info; other important personal paperwork. Travelers Insurance suggested putting all important personal paperwork on a flash drive that you can easily grab. It is also suggested that important paperwork be stored in a fire resistant safe or in a safety deposit box at another location
What should I do once I am evacuated?
1. Turn off gas and pilot lights
2. Turn on a light in every room (for increased visibility)
3. Move any combustible patio furniture inside the home
4. Move flammable furniture away from windows and glass doors
5. Connect garden hoses to outside faucets
6. Hose down your roof and the outside of your home. Preferably for 15 minutes.
7. Lock your home
8. Follow the designated evacuation route
9. Notify an out of area family member or friend that you have been evacuated and tell them where you will be.
Don’t let the rain win.
January 6, 2016
California has finally been hit with the rain El Nino has been threatening to deliver. While this can mean cozy movie nights at home, it can also cause stress for those of us who venture outside. Driving anywhere in LA is already a challenge, and the rain makes it so much worse. And for those of us who live in an area prone to flooding or mudslides, the rain can be downright scary.
To help ease any anxiety or stress related to rain, we’ve put together a list of safety precautions you can take while driving, as well as some preparations you can make to your home.
For your car
1. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Driving 80 mph in the rain is dangerous, and the rain causes more car accidents, so your commute may be delayed.
2. Slow down. The wet roads cause tires to lose traction.
3. Avoid standing water on the road. Driving through puddles causes water to splash up and block visibility. It can also cause you to hydroplane, and very few drivers can control their car while it’s hydroplaning (this is not a challenge, so please don’t try it).
4. Play follow the leader. The car in front of you will have already displaced the water covering the road, so it’s safer to drive IN their tracks.
5. But keep your distance. Leave plenty of room ahead of you, and brake early (with less force) to leave plenty of room behind you. Look around for other cars that may not be driving as safely as you, and get far away from them.
6. Pay extra attention. Keep your eyes on the road, stay off cruise control (it can cause you to accelerate if your car is hydroplaning), and keep distractions to a minimum. If you need to eat, drink, make a call, or do your makeup, pull over to a safe area or do it at your destination.
7. Use your car to your advantage. Windshield wipers and defroster buttons are our friends. Remember, cruise control is not.
8. Hydroplaning? If you hydroplane, DO NOT brake or turn the wheel quickly. Instead, take your foot off the gas and keep the wheel straight until your car has calmed down. If you must brake, do so gently.
*Driving tips courtesy of one of our affiliated companies, Mercury Insurance.(http://www.mercuryinsurance.com/tips/driving-in-the-rain-safety-tips.html)
For the home
1. Storms cause power outages. Stock up on batteries, pull out those flashlights and candles, and charge your phones/iPads/tablets. Setting a back up alarm on a battery operated device will ensure you wake up for work or school if the power does go out. Please be careful with candles, and do not fall asleep with any lit candles.
2. Do you live in an easily flooded area? Placing sand bags outside your home will help keep the rain water outside. Only go outside or get in your car if it’s safe to do so. If possible, go to higher ground, which includes a second story of your home. For more flood protection tips, click here.
3. Listen to evacuation orders. If a member of the police or fire department asks or orders you to evacuate, it’s important to listen. After all, they are following the storm and their goal is to save lives and homes.
4. Stay inside. Although playing in the rain has its perks, make sure to go inside at the first sign of thunder. Lightening may follow, and we hear being struck by lightning is not pleasant.
5. Speaking of thunder and lightning…Traveler’s Insurance has some detailed advice on what to do in a thunder and lightning storm. Check them out here.
6. Review your home insurance policy. Are you covered in case of a flood? Does your policy cover water damage for the rain? Your insurance professional should be able to answer these questions and more to make sure you are properly covered.