Home Insurance Tips

Getting quality insurance is a good first step towards protecting your home. But ultimately, the best protection is prevention. There are steps that you can take to help you avoid ever having to make a home insurance claim - the following home insurance tips can get you started.

1. Safeguard your home

Take action to make your home theft-resistant. "Case" your home as if you were a burglar.

Burglars look for easy targets - make sure your home isn't one of them.
  • Install exterior lights that are out of reach and triggered by motion.
  • Trim trees and shrubs near doors and windows.
  • Don't hide house keys outside - burglars know where to look.
  • Consider investing in a security system. Not only does this make your home safer, it can lower your home insurance premiums.
When you're on vacation:
  • Have mail and newspapers picked up.
  • Leave blinds in normal positions.
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed or your driveway shoveled.
  • Tell police and neighbors that you will be away and ask them to watch your home.

2. Be a responsible dog owner

The numbers speak for themselves: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of Americans homes have a dog. There are 4 million dog bites per year, and dog bites create 33% of all homeowners liability claims - resulting in more than $1 billion in claims per year. Consider these tips to avoid having a claim brought against you:

  • Pick a dog breed that's covered by your home insurance. Ask your insurance agent for details.
  • Have your dog spayed or neutered.
  • Train your dog.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when walking.

3. Protect your home business

Home businesses are generally not covered under your home insurance policy. You may have only limited property coverage and no liability coverage for your business under your homeowners policy. Research the coverage that you have for property and equipment damage or theft, loss of income, and general liability for customer and supplier injuries.

4. Cover your domestic help

Check with your state Department of Insurance regarding whether you need a workers' compensation policy for your housekeeper, gardener, nanny, cook, or other domestic employees. In addition, if someone else occasionally runs errands for you and drives your car, have that driver listed on your auto insurance. Confirm that you have adequate liability and medical coverage on your home insurance policy. Consider purchasing a personal umbrella policy.

5. Review your coverage annually

Your home insurance should reflect your home's current value, condition and improvements. Check your policy each year and review your specific coverages so that you will be able to make the necessary adjustments to fully protect your home.

Auto Insurance Buying Tips

Consolidate Insurance Policies

Insuring two or more vehicles with the same insurance company can save you between 10 - 15% on your premiums. Covering your home through the same company that you have auto insurance with can reduce your premiums by another 10-15%.

Increase Your Deductible

One rule of thumb is to carry the highest deductible you can afford. By increasing your deductible from $100 to $1,000, you could save up to 25%. Keep in mind, though, that your lender might not agree to a higher deductible.

Install Anti-Theft And Safety Devices

Installing a vehicle recovery system such as Lo-Jack or Teletracer could save you up to 7-10% per year. There are other relatively inexpensive anti-theft devices such as "The Club", which locks the steering wheel in place, as well as having your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etched on each window.

Safety features such as air bags, traction control and anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are viewed positively by insurance companies which, in turn, is reflected in your premiums. Although these systems may not reduce injury during an accident, they will reduce your premiums.

Clean Driving Record And Safety Courses

While traffic tickets and auto accidents will increase your premiums, most insurance companies offer discounts to drivers with clean records. Also, some insurance companies will offer a discount if you attend a Driver Training School Program, and your employer might even pay the cost if you use a company vehicle for your job. Training school discounts may vary between 7-10%.

Reduce Coverage On Older Vehicles

If you have an older car worth between $1,000 - $2,000, you might be better off dropping the collision coverage. Check to see if your collision premium is more than the value of the car.

Non-Smoker Or Early Retiree Discounts

Yes, some companies provide discounts for Non-smokers and Early Retirees. Insurers consider smoking a dangerous driving activity.

Park In A Garage

Sometimes the difference between getting auto insurance and going uninsured is where you keep your vehicle at night. Most thefts do not involve a garaged car and this is reflected in premium discounts. If you have a winter home with no garage, try putting the vehicle in storage. Let your insurance company know that your car is in storage, and you could receive a partial premium reduction.

Carpool With A Co-Worker

Most insurers surcharge premiums if the commute to work exceeds 3 miles. Carpooling with a co-worker may result in a discount for low-mileage use.

Drive A Conservative Car

Before buying a car you might want to find out how much your insurance will cost annually. Insurance companies consider certain cars easily damaged and expensive to repair, and other cars the target of thieves. You could end up paying a premium surcharge between 10 - 20%. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established the Auto Safety Hotline at 1-800-424-9393 to report safety defects or to obtain information on cars, trucks, child seats, highway or traffic safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides information on death rates by car make and model as well as the standard safety equipment available. The Institute can be reached at 703-247-1500.

Teenage And College Bound Drivers

You may want to consider letting your teenager drive the family car instead of buying his/her own vehicle. This will very likely lower your cost to cover them. Students in school and living away from home can reduce their premiums by 30 - 50%, depending on the insurer.


After reviewing all of the savings tips, you may have determined that if you added up all your credits you could receive a 70 - 90% reduction in your premium. Well, unfortunately it doesn't work like that. Certain measures that you take may qualify you for being placed with the "preferred" company of a particular insurance group. This "preferred" company will be able to give you additional premium credits.

Changing Auto Insurance Companies May be Easier Than you Think!

There are many reasons why you may choose to change your auto insurance coverage to another company. Perhaps you’ve found another company that offers you the same amount of coverage for considerably less money. You might have changed jobs and are eligible for a group discount through another insurer, or maybe you’re unhappy with the service that your present company provides. With the growth of the internet and quote comparison sites, investigating your options has never been easier!

Why change to a new Auto insurance carrier?

You need to regularly review your auto insurance coverage to make sure that you are receiving the best insurance value for your money. You will discover that it pays to shop around. In some states, premiums for identical policies vary widely among different auto insurance companies. The reasons for this price variation can be very complicated, but they boil down to a company's claims experience with policyholders in a coverage group (e.g. people of similar age, number of accidents, type of vehicle). For example, if a large number of people in a coverage group files claims during a given year, their rates will likely rise. When this happens, better discounts and lower overall premiums may be available at other insurance companies. When you decide to switch your auto insurance to another company, you’ll find that it's fairly easy to do so.

How to cancel your old Auto Insurance policy

Generally, all you need to do to cancel your auto insurance policy is to inform your insurance company in writing, specifying the date you want the policy canceled. In some states, the new agent must notify the previous agent of the policy change. Some auto insurance companies ask the policyholder send back the actual printed policy. The insurance company will send a cancellation request form that will need to be signed and returned. Examine the form carefully to make sure that all information regarding the policy is correct. If the form is not received within two weeks of sending the letter, call the agent or company immediately to check on the status of the cancellation. Don't just walk away from the old policy without formally canceling it. Each state requires that auto Insurance policies be cancelled with notice, thus the insurance company might assume one wished to continue the coverage, and it might eventually terminate the policy for failure to pay premiums and report the lack of coverage to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. This can hurt your credit rating and ability to get a new policy.

Be sure to get a new Auto Insurance policy first

Always have a new policy in place before canceling the old auto insurance coverage. Otherwise you might have a gap in protection for a day or more! Most states require all drivers to carry a minimum level of auto insurance and most insurance companies require policyholders to present proof of new coverage before they will cancel an active policy. The new company will be able to time the beginning of the new policy to coincide with the cancellation of the prior coverage.

When to Change Auto Insurance policies

At Renewal

Renewal is a convenient time to change auto insurance policies, as you don’t have to wait for a refund from your current carrier. A renewal notice will be sent to you approximately 30 days before a new policy begins, depending on the regulations in your state. Should you decide to switch companies, you’ll need to have a new policy by the time the current policy renews. Though a company might say there is 10-30 days to get your payment in before a policy terminates, you do not have coverage until the carrier receives the payment. If you have an accident during this time period you most likely will have no coverage since the premium wasn’t paid!


All Auto insurance policies contain a provision allowing you to cancel your policy with proper notice at any time. In a few states auto insurance companies “short rate” the policy that means one pays a penalty for canceling before the policy renews. Most insurance companies pro-rate their policies so there is no penalty. The advantage of switching before the renewal date can save you a lot of money. For example if you have a policy that runs from Jan 15th to Aug 15th and you have an accident or ticket that will be over 36 months on March 15th. By switching Auto insurance companies on March 16th, you get a discount for having a clean driving record. Your current carrier won’t apply this discount until the policy renews on August 15th! This can save you Hundreds of dollars immediately!

How long does it take to change Auto insurance?

When you change auto insurance companies, the new agent or insurer can generally change carriers while you wait! Generally they’ll just need a copy of your current declaration page, driver’s license and down payment to get the policy issued.

So why not get started today and Get Free Auto Insurance Quotes from Top Companies

8 Ways To Keep Your Home Insurance Costs Low

All homeowners are looking for ways to reduce our home insurance costs. Costs continue to rise and budgets get tighter and tighter with each passing year. Here are 8 tips to reduce your home insurance costs.

1. Increased Home Security

Most homes are fitted with some sort of security device. To make the most of your Home Security Discount make sure that you home is fitted with: dead bolt locks, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and a burglar and fire alarm that are monitored. You do not have to have all of these to receive a discount on your home insurance so even if you only have one or two make sure that you ask for the savings.

2. Keep your credit score as high as possible.

While it would seem that a good credit score would have nothing to do with insurance rates, it is a fact that they do. Home Insurance companies are using your credit score as an indicator of responsibility. The theory is the more responsible the individual the less claims they will have. So, insurance companies are giving lower rates to those individuals with a better credit score.

3. Consolidate your policies.

Most, if not all companies that sell home insurance, offer discounts for insuring your autos with them. These discounts can sometimes save you up to 30% off of your total insurance bill. Plus, you get the added convenience of having one agent for both your home and auto insurances.

4. Protect your home with updates.

Discuss with your agent about the possibilities of receiving home insurance discounts for keeping your home in good repair. Some home insurance companies will offer savings for a anew roof, electrical, HVAC, plumbing updates. The discounts are generally not enough to warrant the replacement but if you needed it anyway, be sure to get the discounts if applicable.

5. Make sure you are not over insured.

Your home insurance coverage should not necessarily be what you paid for them home. Land values are calculated into the final sales price and should be considered when insuring the structure. In others words you cannot hurt the dirt. A good idea is to call local builders and ask them what new home construction cost per square foot is going for. Take that number, multiply that times your square footage and that is the amount that your home should be insured for. Companies will not pay more than what it is going to cost to rebuild the home anyway, so make sure you are insured correctly.

6. Stay away from low deductibles.

The deductible is your portion of the claim that must be paid before the insurance company pays for the claim. The lower your deductible, the higher your premium will be. Deductibles can range anywhere from $100-$5000 or more. The majority of homeowners will carry a $500 deductible, but the savings one can receive by raising your deductible to $1000 can be significant, up to 20%. It doesn’t take too many claim free years to make up the difference between the two deductibles, but remember you should never raise your deductible to a level that you could not afford to pay.

7. Ask your home insurance agent.

Most of the time, an agent will make sure that you are receiving 100% of the home insurance discounts that you qualify for, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some insurance companies have discounts that others do not. Some offer discounts that most would never dream as being a discount such as 55 and retired, non smoking, military service, law enforcement, single parent discounts, etc.

8. Don’t be afraid to shop around.

Home insurance shopping is easy. Insurance shopping online is even easier. Companies like ours at HometownQuotes.com (yes, I am biased) have given you the ability to get multiple home insurance quotes by filling out a form that takes about five minutes to complete. Also be aware that not all insurance companies are created equal. There are some bad ones out there but most, at worst, are pretty good. Getting the best price is great, but check up on the company offering you that price at reputable insurance rating sites like Moodys.com or AMBest.com.


Health Insurance Options for Small Businesses

Health Insurance

Employees working in a company that employs fewer than 50 people are twice as likely to have no health insurance as employees working in a company with more than 50 people. Many small business owners feel that they don’t have the time or can’t afford the expense of health insurance. However, offering such benefits to your employees decreases turnover and increases job satisfaction, so it’s definitely worth some consideration.

Small businesses are eligible for what is known as ‘small group insurance’. Generally this refers to a group of between two and 50 employees. In most states small business owners have as many options for health insurance as do owners of much larger companies. In fact, in some states, such as Arizona, the law requires that insurance providers offer small businesses the same range of options for health insurance as they offer to large businesses.

Most major American health insurance providers offer a variety of options for small businesses, so that you can choose the type of health insurance that works for your business and for your employees. You have a great deal of flexibility in choosing a healthcare plan for your business, and in selecting optional extras such as disability, prescription plans, dental and vision coverall.

HMOs and PPOs

Most employers tend to choose either HMO or PPO plans. These are the most affordable types of health insurance for small business owners. The main drawback of these types of plans is that they are inflexible, and place certain restrictions on what types of healthcare providers policy owners can visit.

HMOs are the most restrictive of the two types of plan, as well as the cheapest. Under this type of plan, a policy owner must choose a primary care doctor who coordinates their healthcare, and the policy owner is covered only when they visit healthcare providers in the HMO network. PPO plans are a little more flexible, but are also more expensive. Under a PPO plan, users need not choose a primary care doctor. They may also visit non-network providers, but must pay some of the costs of doing so. In both cases, the insurance covers the full costs of all network visits.

POS and FFS Plans

Point of Service and Fee for Service plans are both more flexible plans that offer policy owners a high degree of choice in selecting healthcare providers. However, these plans are much more expensive, and typically involve high premiums, co-payments for doctor visits, or large deductibles. These are generally unpopular choices for small business owners.

HSAs and SDHPs

Health Savings Accounts are similar to Investment Retirement Accounts, in that the account is owned by the user, who can administer the account and even choose how to invest the funds it holds. These are increasingly popular with small and large businesses alike, as they allow account holders a high degree of flexibility and coverage for their healthcare. HSAs must be used in conjunction with a High-Deductible Health Plan.

A similar type of plan called a Self-Directed Health Plan is another increasingly popular way of managing healthcare. Users can choose to visit network providers for lower out-of-pocket costs, but have the option to select non-network providers if they wish. These plans are unique in that they focus on providing preventative care, and provide special benefits in the form of lower costs for preventative checkups and procedures such as vaccinations.


Early Cash Out on Life Insurance

There was a time when almost no one would have considered cashing out a portion or all of their life insurance policies early. Although you can opt to cash out portions or even a life insurance policy in its entirety minus penalty fees, should you? It is not without risk and you should weigh that carefully before making such a decision.

You have to think carefully about your financial holdings before making such a choice. The reason most people buy life insurance is so that they and not their loved ones, can pay for funeral and burial costs when they die. For this reason you would want to make sure to leave enough money in your life insurance policy to cover those expenses. Funeral and burial costs combined can cost anywhere from $8000-$10,000 as of today. With time, inflation will increase these costs, and you need to do some calculating of what costs could be in the future in determining how much to leave in your policy. The coverage amount that will be paid out in life insurance varies from policy to policy and so do the restrictions on those policies and the amounts they will pay. If you only have a $30,000 life insurance policy, don’t touch it unless you have other money that could be used to cover death expenses that you aren’t planning to leave family.

But you can safely cash out portions of life insurances with pay out amounts higher than $100,000., and use some of that money to travel and buy things in retirement that you want now. Your life insurance policy likely has a penalty fee for withdrawing portions or whole amounts of your policy, but these fees may be worth it to you. Especially if it would mean that you could afford to travel to destinations around the world that you have always wanted to see, but didn’t have the money to visit them before. Or you may wish to gift family and friends with money and other things while you are still living so that you can see their enjoyment.

There are people too who choose to cash out life insurance policies because they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and need expensive care, and those that suddenly need long term care they had not planned for and cannot afford. Faced with such hurdles, it is not hard to understand why someone might choose to cash out portions of a life insurance policy to pay for expensive and long term care.

Before you send a letter off to your life insurance carrier requesting a partial or whole payout of your policy, speak to someone with experience with life insurance policies to determine if this is the right move for you.

The internet is an information warehouse on many subjects including the various types of life insurance policies, the rules regulating them, benefits versus risks of early policy cash outs, and much more. You may even decide that you need a term life insurance instead of the traditional life insurance. It is recommended that you immerse yourself in learning as much as possible about life insurance so that you know what life insurance is and isn’t .This is learning that will benefit you greatly by demystifying the subject of life insurance that can be confusing to many. The more knowledge that you have the better position you put yourself in for making the decisions that are right for you and your financial situation. . It just may be that cashing out early on your life insurance policy and using that money for a more colorful retirement or for extended or hospice care is the right decision for you based on your needs.

Term Life Insurance VS. Whole Life Insurance

With the availability of so many kinds of insurance, it can be confusing trying to select the kind of insurance that is most appropriate for your personal and financial circumstances. Life insurance is valuable to have for the protection of your financial assets now and to ensure that the costs of your final expenses are taken care of. Life insurance is also worth considering for the unexpected turns that life often takes. Treating many of the diseases that strike older adults is becoming increasingly more expensive and has put a real strain on the retirement funds of many people. You can offset the unexpected and very expensive costs of prolonged medical treatments including extended care nursing, with partial or total withdrawals from your life insurance.

But how do you choose what kind of life insurance is the best fit for your personal circumstances? Should you invest in more than one kind of life insurance? There are many factors that you must consider that will help you in answering these questions. Does your employer offer a life insurance plan? How old are you? Are you nearing or in retirement? What is the state of your present health? What is your family history for major diseases? How much money could you afford to spend monthly, annually, or in one large payment for life insurance? Is your retirement fund big enough to cover retirement living, the expenses of an unexpected and lengthy illness, and also cover the costs of memorial and burial services when you die without having life insurance? These are questions to consider and to consult with a professional insurance agent about as well.

Term life and whole life insurance are the two kinds of life insurances that many of us hear about the most. But what do their names mean and what are the differences between the two? Is one kind of life insurance better overall than the other? The following information is intended to help you better understand term life insurance VS whole life insurance.

Term life insurance is so named because it signifies a kind of life insurance that stays in effect for a specified amount of time. Typically this means time terms of 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. Term life insurance often costs much less than whole life insurance because of these shorter amounts of time that a policy is in effect. That makes it appealing for those that cannot afford whole life insurance, for younger people not ready for whole life insurance yet, or for those not needing longer term life insurance. Your home and other financial assets are fully protected throughout the time term of your policy. This also offers financial security for your loved ones in the event you unexpectedly suffer dismemberment or are killed.

Whole life insurance is so named because this traditional kind of life insurance remains in effect for the life of the policy owner. Whole life premiums cost more than those paid for term life insurance, but whole life insurance carries a guaranteed death benefit and cash value amount. The cash value of whole life insurance grows much more than term life insurance due to the longer term and higher amounts paid in premiums with this kind of life insurance. Dividends are earned and can be used for unexpected costs such as treating a major disease. Whole life insurance offers the same financial protection for your family in the event you experience an accidental or expected death.

Owning both kinds of life insurance is not a bad idea if you can afford to. That way you can tap into whichever life insurance is most liquid and with the fewest penalties for funds for use in times of emergency.


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