Insurance basics: filing claims for home and auto


It’s smart to review insurance basics every now and again and the Insurance Information Institute has produced some quick, simple videos on what you need to do to file a home or an auto claim. One important first step is to take the time to review your policies each year and understand what your policy does and doesn’t cover – ask your local agent if you have any gaps or exposures that leave you vulnerable. For example, most homeowners policies don’t include flood coverage. Or if you have valuables such as antiques, jewelry, or special collections, you may want to add coverage for those because your standard homeowners has coverage limits.

As for autos, here’s an interesting post on Gap Insurance and when it might make sense. Today’s long-financing options mean that you might owe more than your car is worth and you could be stuck should you total your car unless you have Guaranteed Replacement Cost coverage or Guaranteed Auto Protection (Gap insurance).

One other option is an umbrella policy, which would boost your coverage on your home and auto should you have a large lawsuit. Umbrella policies typically kick in after your regular insurance is exhausted. Learn more here.

OK, with those reminders, here are some basics about filing home or auto claims.

Animals enjoying Christmas


Just for the holidays, we bring you an array of videos of animals enjoying Christmas. And if you don’t get your fill here, try our Cats & Dogs of Christmas 2015.

First up – Internet favorite pooch Maymo is surprised by a puppy for Christmas

How to protect your tree

Gift wrapping tips

Not many people know it, but Santa often makes the rounds to the world’s zoos before he visits children. Here  are a few of his early stops.

Your seasonal flu prevention reminder!


fight the flu graphic

Flu season runs from October through May, generally peaking from December through March. Flu vaccines can take a few weeks to kick in so it’s good to get your shot early. Find out the place closest to you at the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

Health experts say that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, but it’s particularly important for people at high risk for developing potentially serious complications. These include:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People who have medical conditions

There are a lot of myths about the flu and vaccines – for example, many people think you can get the flu from a vaccine or that healthy people don’t need a vaccine. Harvard Medical School separates fact from fiction in 10 Flu Myths. Another common myth is that the flu is just a very bad cold – wrong! This Healthcare Triage video explains the difference.

The value of working with a local, independent insurance agent


Check out this short video clip on the value of working with an independent insurance agent. We spied it on Twitter the other day, posted by one of our great insurance company partners, Safety Insurance. It talks about the value, expertise and advocacy services that agents provide 24/7.

Joe Harrington of Markham Group, one of our Renaissance Alliance agency members,
made a good case for why you should use an independent agent in a blog post a few years ago. We think he said it well, so we reprint it here:

For some people it does not matter where they buy their insurance. That decision could be costing them money, service and proper protection. Buying insurance is not like buying gasoline at a gas station. It is an important financial decision in protecting those things that are important to you such as your family, home, autos and business.
Independent agencies differ greatly from direct insurance carriers or the internet based insurance companies. In brief, here are the three ways to buy insurance:

Captive Agents: Insurance agents that sell you the insurance policy of one (1) direct carrier.

Internet Based Agents: Agents who potentially represent multiple insurance carriers, but are unable to provide the best customer service and personal knowledge to properly protect you with your changing needs.

Independent Insurance Agents: Agents who represent an average of six – eight insurance carriers. Independent agents are able to research these carriers to find you the best combination of price, coverage and services to properly protect your assets.
Your Independent Insurance Agent:

  • Is a licensed professional with strong customer and community ties
  • Provides excellent customer service and competitive premiums because your agent can access coverage from multiple insurance carriers
  • Because an independent agency represents multiple carriers, the agent can provide flexibility as your insurance needs change. If your insurance needs no longer match your present insurance carrier, the independent agent can easily transition you to another carrier
  • Assists you when you have a claim
  • Is your consultant, working with you to determine your proper insurance needs
  • Saves you premium by looking at the best combination of price, coverage and service
  • Provides full service by offering a full range of insurance products such as home, renters, condo, auto, business, life and health
  • Knows you by name and not by a policy number. An independent agent treats you like a person

We’ve also compiled some articles from other insurance partners and other financial experts who offer more testimony about the benefits of working with your local independent insurance agent.

Don’t have an agent? Find a local, independent insurance agency near you.

 

 

Friday fun post: 1,000 working ducks with a job to do!


photo: Mike Hutchings / Reuters

Spring is in the air, so your thoughts may be turning to your garden. If so, you may enjoy this fascinating story about an army of working ducks. It’s a story that may have particular interest to gardeners who are thinking ahead to garden planting and maintenance, including the age-old battle of pest control. One South African vineyard has the ultimate organic solution to control slugs and snails: Ducks. Reuters features a must-see pictorial by photographer Mike Hutchings and correspondent Wendell Roelf, called Quacks Squad on the Hunt. The story includes an amusing video of ducks on the march – turn on your sound for the full effect – and a slideshow of photos.

Here is a clip narrated by the duck farmer that offers a little more detail.

If you’re getting started on your garden, but a thousand ducks don’t seem like a practical pest control solution for you, check out these great videos on gardening from local meteorologist and horticulturalist Dave Epstein – search for “pest” to get tips on controlling garden critters. It’s just one part of his site called Growing Wisdom, a one-stop shop for New England weather reports and gardening tips. You can also follow Dave on Twitter.