5 Life Changes that Should Prompt a Life Insurance Review

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5 Life Changes that Should Prompt a Life Insurance Review

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Life can change at the drop of a hat. Whether it’s meeting that special someone and tying the knot or finally getting that big promotion at work, it’s important to consider adjusting your financial plan accordingly. Your plan should include life insurance.

 

Here are five moments in life where you should want to re-evaluate your needs:

 

  1. Marriage

Once you get married, your financial situation will undoubtedly change. Whether it’s having a dual income, or taking on more debt, it’s important to make sure your life insurance policy reflects your new circumstances. You may also want to consider updating your beneficiary to your new spouse.

 

  1. Buying a Home

Purchasing a home is likely one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make. It’s also where you hang your hat at night and spend time with loved ones, making it that much more important to protect. Make sure you have a life insurance policy that will help you pay for housing expenses, so that if the unexpected happens, and you were to pass away, your family would not have to be uprooted.

 

  1. Having Children

Expanding your family is an exciting time in life, and with this new bundle of joy comes many new responsibilities, some of which are financial. A review of your life insurance policy is especially important once you have children. If you were to pass away, you want to make sure they are set financially and don’t have to worry about their financial future.

 

  1. Divorce

Unfortunately, divorce can happen, and it’s a big life change that requires a good look at your finances including your life insurance policy. You may want to increase or decrease the death benefit amount or possibly change the beneficiary depending upon the terms of the divorce.

 

  1. New Career or Business

A new career, business or big promotion can mean a change in your financial situation. With this change it is important to reassess your coverage needs and make sure your current policy is sufficient and covers your new circumstances.

 

Even if you haven’t experienced these life events, life insurance is still an important financial tool. A big life change doesn’t have to be the only reason to review your policy. It is recommended that you review your policy at least annually to ensure it continues to fit your needs. Give us a call today!

 

Article by: Progressive Advantage Life


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Home Buyers Insurance Checklist

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Shopping for your dream house? There are many considerations when looking at real estate, such as property taxes, school district, available recreational opportunities in the neighborhood, to name a few.

 

But an important and often overlooked consideration is the insurance implications of your purchase.

 

You will be paying insurance on your home for as long as you own it, which is why you need to do your homework before you decide to make an offer. Why? Thinking through all the costs associated with buying a home will make the process run more smoothly, and it may also save you money.

 

So here are some important tips to help make all phases of your home search easier and more worry-free.

 

Before House Hunting:

 

  1. Check Your Credit Rating

 

A good credit history helps you in many ways. Good credit makes it easier to get a mortgage at a competitive rate, and it may also qualify you for a good credit discount on your insurance.  Get a copy of one or all of your credit reports. Make sure they are accurate and report any mistakes immediately. If your credit is not as good as it could be, take steps now to improve it.

 

  1. Protect Yourself with a Renters Insurance Policy

 

If you are currently renting a house or apartment, protect yourself financially with a renters insurance policy.  In the event of a disaster, renters insurance can help protect the down payment you’re building to buy your new home, as well as provide useful an insurance history to your prospective homeowners insurer when you go to buy your first home.

 

While House Hunting:

 

As you search for your new home, remember that the physical characteristics of the house—its size, location, construction and overall condition—can affect the cost, choice, and availability of home insurance. Following are some factors to consider when shopping for a home:

 

  1. Quality and Location of the Fire Department

 

Houses that are located near highly-rated, permanently staffed fire departments usually cost less to insure. This also holds true for homes that have a hydrant nearby.

 

  1. Proximity to the Coastline

 

Houses located on or near the coast will generally cost more to insure than those further inland. There will also likely be a separate hurricane or windstorm deductible.

 

In some coastal communities, private homeowners insurance coverage may not be readily available. Instead, you may need to purchase insurance through a state-run insurance program, which can provide less coverage, and in some cases be more costly, than private insurance.

 

  1. Age of the Home

 

A stately, older home can be quite beautiful—but they can also cost more to insure. Ornate features like plaster walls, ceiling molding, and wooden floors may be costly to replace and can raise the cost of insurance. And, plumbing and electrical systems can become unsafe with age and lack of maintenance. If you are considering buying an older home find out how much it will cost to update these features and factor it into the cost of ownership.

 

  1. Condition of the Roof

 

Always check the condition of the roof. A new roof matters to insurers and keeps you and your family safer. Depending on the type of roof and whether or not you use fire and/or hail resistant materials, you may even qualify for a discount.

 

  1. Is the Home Well-Built and Up to Code?

 

Find out whether the house has been updated to comply with current building codes. Homes built by careful craftsmen and those built to meet modern engineering-based building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.

 

  1. Risk of Flooding

 

Damage from flooding is NOT covered by standard home insurance policies. If you are buying a home in an area at risk from flooding, you will need to purchase separate insurance. Insurance for flooding is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and from a few specialty insurers.

 

  1. History of Earthquakes

 

While earthquakes are most frequently associated with California, they occur in the majority of states and, like flooding, are not covered under standard home insurance policies. Earthquake insurance is available from private insurers as an endorsement to a homeowners policy, and in California from the California Earthquake Authority.  Check rates with your insurance professional—the cost of earthquake insurance differs widely by location, insurer and the type of structure being covered.

 

  1. Swimming Pool or Other Special Feature

 

If the house has a swimming pool, hot tub or other special feature, you will likely need more liability insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy to provide added protection in the event someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue you.

 

Before You Place a Bid on the Home:

 

  1. Check the Loss History Report

 

Ask the current homeowner to obtain a copy of the loss history report on the home. Homeowners can obtain either a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) report, which is available from LexisNexis, or an A-PLUSTM property report from ISO®. These reports provide a record of the type of loss on the home, the date of the loss and the amount and status of each claim—going back five years.  If the report indicates there has been damage to the house, have it checked by a professional.

 

A home claim history can provide extremely valuable information and should prompt questions from the buyer.  For instance, if there was a claim for water damage to the home, it is important to find out the source of the damage (such as a burst pipe) and whether it has been properly repaired. On the other hand, if there was a claim for wind or hail, which resulted in a new roof, this makes the home stronger and is very attractive from an insurance perspective.

 

  1. Get the House Inspected

 

You’ll need to have the house properly inspected in order to get your mortgage approved. Accompany the inspector and make sure he/she does a thorough inspection of the home. The inspector should:

 

  • Check the general condition of the home
  • Look for water damage, termites and other types of infestation
  • Review the electrical system, plumbing, septic tank and water heater
  • Show you where potential problems might develop
  • Double-check that past problems have been repaired
  • Suggest important upgrades or replacements

 

If the inspector raises questions, your insurance company will as well. And, be sure to find out if there is an underground oil storage tank, as many insurers will not provide policies for homes that have one.

 

  1. Estimate How Much It Will Cost to Maintain the House

 

Routine maintenance is your responsibility as a homeowner. Losses caused by failing to properly care for your home are not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. So make sure you factor these costs into the overall price of owning the home.

 

  1. Call Your Insurance Professional

 

Don’t wait until the last minute to think about insurance. Ask your insurance professional if the house will qualify for insurance, and get an estimate of the premium. The sooner you act, the smoother the process will be. Don’t be shy about asking for estimates on more than one house. Insurance is an important consideration when purchasing a home. If you are uncomfortable with the cost of insuring a particular house, keep looking for one that better fits your financial situation.

 

Article by: Insurance Information Institute


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8 Homeowners Insurance Coverages You Need

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When it comes to homeowners insurance, not all policies are created equal. And that’s important to remember when it comes to protecting what could very well be your biggest asset.

 

Check out the list below to see what you need in homeowners insurance.

 

  1. The right limit: You need enough insurance to let you rebuild if you have a total loss. So don’t risk it by choosing a lower limit in an effort to save a few dollars.

 

One thing to remember when it comes to the right limit is the increased value your home may have after a home improvement project. Always report any home improvement project ASAP to your insurer so they can adjust the limit if necessary.

 

  1. Guaranteed replacement cost: When you have guaranteed replacement cost, you can rest easy knowing that you could rebuild your home after a major loss without worrying about depreciation, policy limits or insurance construction costs once you’ve repaired or replaced the damaged property. This is definitely a better option than actual cash value, which takes depreciation into account when calculating the amount of your reimbursement.

 

  1. Enough liability coverage: Your homeowners liability coverage protects your assets in the event someone gets hurt on your property. It also offers coverage for some incidents that happen away from your home (for instance, if you run your bike into someone).

 

Lawsuits aren’t as uncommon as you might think, and they have the potential to wipe out many people’s net worth. That’s why most people will want to have at least $300,000 of liability coverage. You might also consider a Personal Catastrophe Liability policy, which adds an extra $1 to $5 million of coverage to your homeowners as well as your auto insurance.

 

  1. Loss of use: If your home was a total loss or became uninhabitable after a covered loss, do you know where you would stay and how you would pay for the extra expense? Loss of use coverage offers you reimbursement for costs to stay at a hotel or rent an apartment in the event of a covered loss.

 

  1. Endorsements that let you customize your coverage: Everyone’s risk factors are different. That’s why you’ll want the option of adding earthquake coverage along with inland marine coverage for high-value items you may own. Another important coverage that many homeowners need is flood coverage, which is offered as a separate policy by most carriers.

 

Two other endorsements that many homeowners find beneficial are Identity Recovery coverage and Sewer & Drain Backup coverage.

 

  1. A reliable deductible: Many homeowners recovering from a disaster such as a hurricane get sticker shock when they learn their deductible isn’t a dollar amount that they chose, but rather a percentage of the limit on their policy. These named-storm percentage deductibles are almost always higher than dollar-amount deductibles—and sometimes significantly so.

 

Unlike many carriers, ERIE’s named-storm deductible is a specific dollar amount rather than a percentage of your homeowners limit. What’s more, you also have the option of choosing different dollar-amount deductibles for different causes of loss.

 

  1. The backing of a financially sound company: If you have a claim, you want the backing of a company that can pay it. One way to find out if your company is financially sound is to check the rankings from Ward and A.M. Best that are released each year. In addition to earning an A+ rating from A.M. Best and ranking among Ward’s Top 50 performing property/casualty insurers, ERIE also earned kudos for being among America’s 50 most trustworthy financial institutions.

 

  1. A knowledgeable local insurance agent: It’s no secret insurance that can be complicated. To simplify things and get trusted advice, it’s a good idea to work with an insurance agent you trust. Insurance Center of Harrisonburg is an insurance expert in your community you can count on to help you get the right coverage at the right price.

 

Article by: Erie Insurance


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Buying Life Insurance for the First Time? Then Read These 7 Tips!

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Maybe you just got married. Or had your first child. Or started a business.

Whatever the life event is, you are now buying life insurance for the first time. And that might intimidate and confuse you a little.

Help ease your mind by reading the following advice for anyone who is buying life insurance for the first time.

  1. Understand who (or what) you’re protecting. Major life changes like getting married, starting a family or buying a house are often when people think about buying life insurance for the first time. While anyone experiencing a significant life event like getting married or starting a family often recognizes the need for life insurance, others may not realize they could benefit from it as well. For instance, did you know that stay-at-home parents and student loan cosigners could have a definite need for life insurance? An insurance agent can help you figure out who and what you need to protect.
  1. Only buy what you can afford. Many people are surprised at how much life insurance they really need to protect the people and things they love most. Yet it’s a mistake to forgo any coverage at all if you can’t afford the plan you want. Something is definitely better than nothing, and you don’t need to purchase the best plan to take care of your family. (Need more good news? Life insurance is probably more affordable than you think.)
  1. Think through your beneficiaries. A life insurance beneficiary is the person or entity you name in your life policy to receive funds in the event of your passing. Your beneficiary can be a person, business, trust, charity or even your church. And, you can have more than one. It’s important to make sure you think through who your beneficiaries are and if any proceeds meant to benefit a minor should be held in trust.
  1. Get a will. Having a will can help ensure that life insurance proceeds are properly dispersed.
  1. Buy from a financially sound company. You want the backing of a financially strong insurer if you or someone you love needs to call on the life insurance policy. A.M. Best, the largest and longest-established company devoted to issuing in-depth reports and financial strength ratings about insurance organizations, gave Erie Family Life Insurance Company a rating of A (Excellent).
  1. Learn about life insurance. While an insurance agent can certainly help you navigate the world of life insurance, it also helps to have a working knowledge of it. The “Money Sense” articles in this blog are a good starting point.
  1. Work with a licensed insurance agent. A knowledgeable and professional insurance agent can offer trusted guidance when it comes to finding the right life insurance protection at the right price. An insurance agent is also a trusted person your family can turn to in a time of need. Talk to Insurance Center of Harrisonburg to learn more about your life insurance options and to get a free quote.

 

Originally by: Amanda Prischak, Erie Insurance

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Life Insurance Awareness Month

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Danica Patrick has a very personal story about why life insurance is something she’d never go without.


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Why Erie?

Why ERIE for life insurance?
We know you love your children, your home, and all the things that have made your life, well … your life. That’s why we want to encourage you, without pushing you, to consider life insurance from ERIE. And because your ERIE Agent is going to take as much time as you want to help you with your options, we’re feeling you’re going to feel good about the process. 540-433-1519


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Older Cars Preferable to Thieves?

Do thieves prefer to steal new cars? This is a MYTH! It is more lucrative to steal older cars for parts! We insure all types of cars!!


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We have a new website!

In an attempt to serve you better, the Insurance Center of Harrisonburg has updated its website. Let us know what you think!