Your Yearly Disaster Preparation Check-Up
2016 was a very unfortunate year for the United States. In the span of that single year, the country went through 19 different flooding events, which is the most in recorded history. This misfortune continued all the way to 2017, when a series of wildfires besieged many residents and their homes in the West. The Atlantic and Gulf coasts struggling with category 4 and 5 hurricanes further exacerbated the problems.
This is why now, more than ever, people should be thinking long and hard about their disaster-preparedness. Not having a plan could lead to dire consequences if you find yourself in the middle of a disaster. It is a good idea to conduct yearly disaster preparedness check-ups. To help you get started, here are a few things that you should keep in mind:
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Looking to Improve the Return on Your Home?
Home renovation can make your home a nicer place to live, and it also can be a very wise investment. When you consider renovating your home, we recommend the following list of renovation projects that can give you the best return on your investment.
When people look for a house to buy, the areas that they place a lot of importance on tend to be the kitchen and the bath. These two areas are frequently the most expensive when it comes to home improvement projects. However, this need not be the case – if you play your cards right and know what you are doing, you can affordably make your home more attractive to potential buyers and a more enjoyable place to live in. Interior home renovation projects that address the kitchen and the bath tend to be the ones that will have the biggest positive effect on your home’s resale value. So if you are looking for a new interior home renovation project, you may want to focus on any of the following:
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4 Things to Know About Insurance Before Renting a Car
When traveling to a new city, it's almost second nature to rent a car. Before you decide to rent your next one, consider these 4 things:
1. Loss Damage Waivers - This is an additional cost that will omit you from being liable for theft or damage to your rental car.
2. Stand-Alone Rental Car Coverage - Some major credit cards offer rental insurance benefits. These policies vary by company so be sure to look into the details. Click here to learn more.
3. Collision and Comprehensive Coverage - Collision insurance pays for damage to the rental car, regardless of fault.
4. Liability Coverage - Liability from your current auto insurance policy usually extends to rental vehicles. You should contact your agent to be sure and to learn the details of your policy.
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5 Quick Tips to Save Money on Auto Insurance
No car owner in his right mind would ever say that auto insurance is not a strain on a person’s budget. Auto insurance does cost money that you could otherwise spend on groceries and utility bills, or just add to your savings. But regardless of its costs, it is one of the things that you cannot neglect. Not having auto insurance opens you up to the risk of shouldering repairs on your own. These repairs are so costly that they will make whatever amount you pay for auto insurance look like peanuts by comparison. So you need to suck it up and just pay your auto insurance religiously, just so you won’t have anything else to worry about with regard to your car.
However, that does not mean you have to blindly pay your premiums without even looking if there are ways to save money from time to time. If you are in the same situation and just want to save a little bit of money here and there, here are 5 quick tips that will help you save money on Auto Insurance:
Bundle Your Policies
Sometimes in an effort to get only the lowest insurance policy premiums, people end up getting their different types of insurance from different providers – they have their auto insurance from company A, while their homeowners insurance is from company B, and their renters insurance is from Company C, and so on.
While they do end up saving a few bucks here and there, it is possible that they are actually missing out on an even bigger savings on their insurance premium, by having insurance coverage that is all over the place. The truth is that you can sometimes get lower rates on your policies by having them bundled under one provider.
If you talk to a representative of an insurance agency, you may be able to convince them to give you much lower rates or discounts in exchange for getting all of your insurance from their company. You would be surprised at how many insurance companies are willing to give you lower rates just to get all of your business.
There is also the added benefit of making it easier to organize and manage all of your policies, since you only need to deal with one insurance company.
Get the Annual Payment Plan
Most auto insurance premiums are paid in either monthly installments, six month terms, or annually. Most people choose to pay monthly installments since they find the monthly rates more manageable than the huge chunk of one time payment a yearly premium demands. However, you could actually pay less when you choose the annual installment, because companies want to encourage people to take the annual installment plans, and as such are willing to give discounted rates. Ask your insurance company representative if there is a discount if you go for an annual installment plan, and chances are he will give you one.
Settling debts yearly also allows you to better manage your finances – you don’t have to worry about the insurance every month. You’ll have a more flexible budget if you just save the premium every month, until the premium is due.. This is much less stressful than trying to come up with the money every month.
Increase Your Deductibles
Your insurance premium will be reduced, probably drastically, if you increase your deductible, which is the amount that you have to pay out-of-pocket when it comes to damages to your vehicle before you are entitled to a claim. Think of it this way, you are not likely going to get in an accident very often and you can easily pay for minor damages and repairs. You only really need the insurance for really large repairs, so why not shoulder the small ones in exchange for a reduced premium?
Limit Your Mileage
Try to avoid using the car when unnecessary. For really short trips or commutes, you can easily walk, carpool, or take public transportation. This will drastically reduce your car’s mileage. If you report your lower mileage to your insurance agent, you may be able to get your insurance premium reduced. Additionally, driving less also means you consume less gas and therefore save money on that end as well.
Factor in Teenage Drivers
If you have a young son or daughter who is going to start taking his or her driving lessons soon, you might want to shop around and look at different insurance companies’ premiums when a teenage driver is involved. This is because insurance companies consider teens to be more likely to get into a collision than adults, and will therefore ask for a higher premium if your car is going to be used by a teenager. This is a very important factor to consider because the difference in premiums when a teenage driver is considered could be somewhere between a hundred dollars to a thousand or more.
If you do have a teenage driver, make sure you take the time to teach them how to drive properly or to at least check if they have learned enough from driving class. It’s not just about saving money, you could even help steer them away from accidents.
Overall, do not be content with just paying whatever premium the insurance company throws at you. Make sure follow the tips above, and coordinate closely with your insurance agent, as he or she can tell you of more ways to save on your auto insurance.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is not a new phenomenon. Things that are capable of diverting a driver’s attention away from the road have been around even before there were actual cars on the road. However, these past few years saw the problem become even bigger due to the invention and subsequent mass adoption of mobile devices. This goes along with the popularity of the “on-the-go” lifestyle, where people try to cram as many activities as they can in their schedules - to the point of doing other activities, such as drinking or eating while driving.
In fact, most people tend to have a very limited understanding of what constitutes distracted driving these days. There are many activities that people don’t realize pose a very real risk to their safety just because it is not commonly known as a distraction while driving.
Some of the examples of things that can distract a driver include:
Using a smartphone – whether you are texting, calling, browsing the web, or just looking at pictures, it is still dangerous as long as you are holding and using a phone as opposed to holding the steering wheels and focusing on the road.
Fiddling with a GPS navigation system – most people tend to give this one a pass, because it is an activity meant to help one who is driving. But sometimes people tend to focus too much on the GPS device (especially ones that are handheld as opposed to mounted on the dashboard) that they lose track of the road itself.
Eating or drinking – popping a candy in your mouth from time to time is fine, but taking one or both of your hands away from the steering wheel for long periods of time just to fiddle with a burger or a coffee cup is dangerous.
Talking to Passengers – even if the driver is talking to the passenger without taking his eyes off the road, the mere act of talking and thinking about what they are talking about is distraction enough, and may negatively affect the driver’s reaction times.
Fiddling with the Radio – long drives to and from work can get lonely and boring, so listening to music is understandable but fiddling too much with the radio while driving can be dangerous.
Grooming – as mentioned above, the “on-the-go” lifestyle has resulted in many individuals doing their grooming, such as combing, putting on make up, adjusting clothes, etc., while driving. This is very disruptive and greatly lessens a driver’s ability to react to things on the road.
There are a number of reasons why distracted driving can (and usually will) result in accidents. Among these are:
A human’s brain can multitask, but it is only capable of processing a certain amount of information at any given time. Driving a vehicle, despite looking simple, is a complex task involving multiple actions that take up most of the brain’s processing capability. If you introduce any other tasks to the equation, you could end up reducing the brain’s efficiency at driving, while also affecting a person’s split-decision making ability.
It is pretty much subject to common sense, and sounds so simple in writing, but it is surprising how so many drivers fail to even follow the simple rule that says you have to “look where you are going.” Many drivers’ eyes wander away far too frequently from where they should be looking, which is on the road or on the number of mirrors that help their spatial awareness while inside a car (such as the side mirrors.)
It does not matter even if your eyes are opened. If you are looking at something else instead of paying attention to where you are going, then you might as well drive with your eyes closed because it has the same risks involved.
According to studies, texting takes a driver’s attention away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is enough time for a fatal accident to occur. It is said that texting while driving at 55mph is equivalent to driving through an entire football field while the eyes are closed.
Driving by itself already requires a person’s visual, cognitive, and motor skills working closely at the same time so it is no surprise that simply adding a distraction to one of them is enough to ruin the whole system.
Setting a Good Example
Distractions while driving should be avoided no matter how confident you are in your driving skill or how harmless it may seem. Keep your eyes trained on the road at all times. Aside from ensuring your safety, avoiding distractions while you are driving is also important if you are riding with other people (especially teenagers) because you can set a good example. If they adopt your driving habits, you may actually end up saving their life.
5 Reasons Why You Should Have Homeowners Insurance
Home ownership is one of the largest investments you will make, so protecting this investment with quality homeowners insurance is a crucial part of being a responsible homeowner. However, while many Americans understand the importance of homeowners insurance, some don’t understand the specifics of what it covers if a burglary, natural disaster or other property damage occurs.
Click here to read the five things your homeowners insurance policy should cover if an unexpected or unforeseen loss were to happen.
5 Tips to Prepare Your Boat for the Open Water
As a boat owner, it is your responsibility to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Take a look at these 5 tips to prepare your boat for the open water:
- If you’ve had your boat in storage, the first thing you need to do is give it a thorough cleaning. That way you will have more visibility to check for damage to the exterior.
- It is very important that you check your oil. You'll want to completely drain it and refuel versus just topping it off. This will make sure your recreational vehicle runs as smoothly as possible. You also need to check your brake fluid and antifreeze coolant.
- Having corroded connections can be very dangerous. Inspect all your electrical connections and make sure they are clean, tight, and free of corrosion.
- Check your life jackets to ensure they are in good condition. You also need to make sure there are enough jackets for every passenger on board.
- It's the perfect time to check up on your boat insurance coverage. At General Insurance Services, we can make sure you have the proper coverage to protect yourself, and your passengers. Call us at 949-438-5207 or contact us to learn more about how we can keep you secure.
Want to learn more about protecting your boat? Click here to see our boat insurance coverage options.
Why You Need a Renters Insurance Policy
Renting a house, condominium, or apartment continues to be a popular lifestyle option, but the importance of renters insurance hasn’t been embraced by many renters. Some landlords require that their renters carry a renters insurance policy. Whether required or not, renters should realize how much they can benefit from having an insurance policy that can help protect their valuables in a life-changing event like a fire or theft.
Please do not make the mistake of assuming that damage to your property in your rental home or apartment will be covered by your landlord's insurance policy. Usually, the owners of rental properties purchase only enough insurance to repair or replace their structures. It is up to you to insure your personal property.
Your landlord probably will bear no responsibility for replacing your property in the event of loss from fire or theft. However, Renters Insurance offers the same general personal property coverage as homeowners insurance and protects against losses from theft, fire, lightning, vandalism, windstorms and water damage from broken water pipes.
The “Loss of Use” coverage typically will help address some of the costs for you to temporarily live elsewhere, if your rental house becomes inhabitable. This benefit also usually includes the cost of meals, over and above your normal expenses.
Please don’t assume that you don't own enough valuables to make buying insurance coverage worthwhile. The cost of replacing clothing, furniture, computers, TVs and books can easily add up to thousands of dollars.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
An important consideration when buying a renters policy is whether to buy an actual cash value renters policy or a policy that covers the full cost of replacement.
With actual cash value coverage, insurers depreciate lost or damaged items based on their age. For example, if you owned a 10-year-old couch that was stolen, the actual cash value would be the cost of buying a used couch of comparable age and condition.
If your policy includes replacement cost coverage, your insurer would pay based on the cost of a new couch of the same quality without applying depreciation.
Renters Liability Coverage
One of the most important coverages included with a renters insurance policy is personal liability coverage. Just like homeowners insurance, renters policies cover your liability for injuries or property damage that you, your family members or your pets may cause to others.
For example, if somebody were at your house and slipped and was hurt, you could be held financially liable for their injuries. However, the liability section of a renters policy would pay for your legal damages, up to your policy limits if you are found to be negligent and caused the injury. The policy would also pay for your legal defense.
Be sure to choose a renters policy with liability limits that are high enough to protect your personal worth.
How Much Will Your Renters Policy Cost?
Renters insurance policies are relatively inexpensive, considering the broad protection they offer. The cost is low because renters don't need to buy insurance to protect their homes, only the contents. At General Insurance Services we can write your renters policy with great companies like Mercury or Travelers for a premium as low as $125 a year. In addition, most companies give a multi-policy discount on your auto insurance if you also have your renters insurance through them.