Insurance

Get ready for bike season in five simple steps

There’s nothing like cruising down the open road on your motorcycle – the wind in your hair and a few bugs in your teeth.

Before you hit the highways and byways this season, make sure your insurance policy is up to speed so that you and your bike are protected.

Here are a few tips from the experts at J. Peter & Associates:

1. Make sure your insurance policy is still in force. Some companies have a winter layaway period when some coverages are restricted. Check with your insurance company to see if you have any type of limited coverage.

2. Update your policy. Let your insurance company know about any changes like additional riders, a new address or customized parts. A quick call to your independent agent can secure coverage that meets your needs.

3. Cover customized parts. Parts such as chrome plating, a new paint job, saddlebags or special rims usually increase the value of your bike. If you’ve added custom parts or equipment, make sure they’re protected.

4. If you don’t need it, drop it. If you own an older bike, check its value. Don’t pay for coverage that you don’t need. Consider dropping collision coverage if the premium equals 10 percent of the bike’s market value. Understand, however, that you won’t be covered if your bike overturns or collides with another object.

5. Shop around. Prices can vary from company to company, so shop around. Another tip: If you purchase comprehensive and collision coverage, consider raising your deductibles. This can lower the cost of your physical damage coverage.

Understanding Factors Affecting Your Home Insurance Premium

Homeowner’s insurance can be a confusing topic. Because of this, many homeowners don’t fully understand why insurers charge the premiums they do, and as a result, premium charges often go unquestioned by policyholders.

But when you know how insurers determine your premium, you can work with those factors to lower your premium and say goodbye to expensive home insurance rates!

How Insurers Gauge Your Risk

When an insurance company determines your rates, they’re really determining your risk. And according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), insurers consider some of the following to determine exactly that:

  • Where your home is located. Living in high risk areas like the Gulf coast or in crime-riddled neighborhoods drastically increase the chances that your home will be significantly damaged, ruined, vandalized or stolen from. It’s for this reason that you’ll pay more to insure your home in a high risk area.
  • The cost to build in your area. Some insurers will look at the construction costs in your area to see how much it would cost to rebuild your home if it were destroyed. The higher the construction costs are in your area, the higher the likelihood that you’ll pay for it in your home insurance rates.
  • The materials used to construct your home. Materials like brick and other stone tend to better withstand the high winds that come with tornadoes and hurricanes. If your home is constructed (or partially constructed) from these materials, you’ll probably see a dip in your homeowner’s insurance premium.
  • Other risk factors on your property. Insurers will also want to know if you have any swimming pools, hot tubs or trampolines on your property, as well as the kind of breed the family pooch is. All of these factors increase the risk of injury on your property and insurers may increase your rates accordingly.

Saving Money on Home Insurance

With all these factors, how can you save money on homeowner’s insurance? Aren’t some of these factors out of the hands of homeowners?

Yes and no. While you may not be able to control the weather or the actions of others, you can do the following to save money:

  • Make upgrades. While you may not be able to change the location or construction of your home, you can lower your premium by upgrading plumbing and heating systems, installing sprinkler systems, additional smoke detectors and deadbolt locks. While these upgrades may take a little elbow grease and money on your part, it’ll lower the risk for insurers–and your home insurance rates.
  • Make your home safe. If you have a pool or trampoline, fencing can keep children away from these areas without your supervision. If you have a dog that fits into a “high risk” breed category (like a pit bull), there may not be a lot you can do, and some insurers won’t cover dog bite liability; ask your insurer for details regarding your pooch.
  • Insure for the replacement cost. Your home would probably cost more to rebuild or replace now that it did when you bought it. Insuring your abode for the replacement cost will help you avoid any large depreciation if you need to file a claim.
  • Review your policy annually. If you sold grandma’s expensive china last year, you no longer need coverage for it. Reviewing your policy annually will ensure that you have the coverage you need–no more and no less.

Start Saving on Home Insurance Today

While you may not be able to control how insurers determine your homeowner’s insurance rates, you can make adjustments to your home to combat premium hikes. In addition to these money-saving tips, always remember to ask your insurance agent about any discounts for which you might qualify. Doing so will get you the affordable home insurance you need to save money–without having to skimp on coverage.

Homeowners Guide to Home Insurance Discounts, Reduced Rates and Savings

In today’s economy, many homeowners are juggling higher bills on less earnings — facing tightened family budgets in the wake of rising costs, credit limits or even job loss. Yet there’s no need to struggle with the cost of home insurance. Despite industry increases, homeowners may be able to reduce their insurance rates by as much as 30 percent.

Nevertheless, many homeowners aren’t using insurance discounts to lower rates — even those who apply discounts may qualify for more savings than they’re getting. And lowered rates are still possible, even in today’s economy.

Consider the findings reported by independent insurance agent association, Trusted Choice, in a 2009 national survey:

“53 million household respondents ‘admitted they are probably not taking advantage of all homeowners insurance discounts or said that they simply didn’t know’ about policyholder discounts they likely qualify for.”

The survey also found that the largest percentage of respondents, about 26%, estimated they save 6-10% on their insurance premiums by using discounts. In fact, many insurance consumers could be saving significantly more-as much as 30%, according to independent insurance agencies, which often shop on behalf of consumers and help them find discounts and compare rates.

Homeowners are usually aware of the more common discounts — such as a multiple policy discount to insure both home and auto under one carrier. But there are other discounts and savings they miss.

How savvy are you as a homeowner and insurance consumer?

Find out using this quick list to explore or measure your potential for insurance discounts. It’s also the knowledge you and your insurance agent need to reduce rates for savings:

  • Dual duty — Don’t overlook the most common discount available: multiple policy discounts. When the same company insures your home and car, you can probably reduce your overall insurance costs by 10 to 15 percent.
  • New home, new homeowner? The same criteria used to qualify your home for a specific mortgage is often the same that qualifies your policy for discounts.
  • Living in a gated community? Then you may be eligible for discounts. Be sure to ask about auto insurance discounts if your car is equally ‘protected’ to boot.
  • Rooftop savings — Some insurance companies offer hail resistant roof discounts for Class 4 roofs — naturally these credits may vary with locale. Moreover, be sure to ask your insurer about potential discounts before putting a new roof on your house — you’ll probably want to capture savings if available and a flat roof without roof warranty may disqualify you from your current coverage altogether.
  • Be a new policyholder — You may find additional savings extended to new customers based on new rating models that offer a ‘sign up’ discount. If your insurer extends this discount, your insurance agent might be able to capture it by applying for a new policy with the same company.
  • Your track record counts — make sure you explore discounts for home insurance customers who have a claim-free track record… when was the last time you filed a home insurance claim? A 10-year history usually qualifies you for this discount; if you’ve never filed a claim, you may save as much as 20 percent.
  • Risk reductions — Ask your agent to identify risk reduction discounts addressing a range of interior and exterior factors: fire and smoke alarms, electrical wiring, fireplace / chimney safety, heating apparatus, burglar alarms, curb and gutter system and landscaping elements. Proximity to a fire hydrant and your community’s fire department also applies.
  • Preventive maintenance and home security – Make sure your insurance agent is aware of any alarm systems or preventive measures you take to secure property and to keep your home safe. Though discount criteria varies, you may be able to get a savings of 10 to 15 percent for a combined system that may include two or more measures: deadbolt locks, lockable garages and storage buildings, fire alarms, fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, a burglar alarm or home security system.
  • Good breeding gone bad — Like it or not, some pets have a reputation. You may adore your family pet but if Fido is a dog breed considered bite-happy or dangerous, your insurance rating may be affected or your coverage in jeopardy. Choose your pet wisely — be aware of the little issues that can turn your insurance into a big issue.
  • Score card — Expect your credit score to impact your home insurances rates. If married, you may be able to reduce your rate by listing the top scorer as the first named on the insurer’s application. Plus, if you’ve had a less-than credit score and recently improved your numbers, let your insurance agent know. You may be able to get a policy adjustment: a lower insurance rate is still possible without the need to write a new policy.
  • Raise the limit — consider the difference a deductible makes. You can probably lower your rate by raising your deductible — $2,500 is the standard deductible and you can expect a lower rate if you raise it to $5,000.
  • Agent vs. agent and the extended marketplace — Is your insurance agent an independent who can tap a broad product range? Or an agent affiliated with a name-brand company? Know the difference. Independent agents can shop around — explore options across the marketplace. Brand agents don’t usually have the same agility — they’re usually confined to the company practice or limited to brand products. Loyalty counts. Still, if you’re committed to one company brand you may be just as limited as the insurance agent who is equally missing rate reductions, discounts and savings offered by the brand’s competition.
  • ‘Home pride’ and stewardship are vital — Even many insurance agents don’t understand the role that stewardship plays in harnessing the broadest range of discounts possible. Why? The better care you take of your home, the more attractive you’ll look to insurance carriers. And the best way to harness discounts is to identify as many discounts as possible — it stands to reason that more companies mean more potential for discounts.

So, you’ll want to make sure your home qualifies for coverage from every company that offers coverage in your locale since increased competition generally decreases rates and opens your access to discounts.

In a nutshell, homeowners applying the discounts above will soon realize the many ways they can save on their home insurance — even when times are tough.

Get started on discounts for savings….

  • Shop around to compare insurance company providers and rates — what companies provide home insurance in your community?
  • Get guidance on the details — an independent insurance agent isn’t tied to one brand, so these agents can help you see the whole marketplace and get the apples-to-apples lens you need to compare products, coverage and rates.
  • Identify discounts — make sure you identify the common discounts most homeowners hit, along with other discounts that frequently miss.
  • Do the ‘homework’ — the work at home that demonstrates stewardship makes you eligible to select from the broadest insurance product range possible.
  • Optimize selection, and then maximize discounts to benefit from reduced raters and savings.

 

Tips For Getting The Best Auto Insurance Rate Possible

If you are like most automobile owners, you have probably shopped for auto insurance at least once in your lifetime. And like most of those people, you may have wondered whether there was really anything that you can do to lower the price of your insurance. Well, the good news for you is that there are certain steps you can take to lower your auto insurance premium. Some of the information provided in this article may seem obvious or be viewed as common knowledge by some people, but we hope that you are able to take away at least a couple pieces of information that will help you lower your annual auto insurance premium. If you can, then we have accomplished our goal!

Auto insurance companies generally take into account several factors when determining your rate, such as driving record, geographical location, vehicle model, coverage limits, vehicle safety features/anti-theft devices, operator discounts, prior insurance, and age. (And in some states and with some companies–sex, marital status, where the vehicle is kept at night, and credit score are also factors) While many of these factors are difficult, if not impossible, to change, there are still some relatively simply steps you can take to save money.

The 11 steps you can take to lower your auto insurance premium are:

(Note: we have tried to list the steps from the most obvious to the least obvious)

1.) Needless to say, try to avoid being involved in accidents or receiving moving violations by driving defensively and obeying all traffic laws–This is by far the most important way to reduce your auto insurance premium (plus it is safe and smart!).

2.) If you already own a registered vehicle, make sure to keep your insurance current, without a lapse in coverage, since many insurance companies provide much better rates to individuals who already have current insurance and have an established history of insurance coverage. Note: If you have had a lapse in insurance on a registered vehicle, we recommend getting insurance coverage as soon as possible and THEN do more shopping for better rates. Since you will have re-established your insurance, you will now be (PRESTO!) an insured motorist and most likely able to secure a better insurance rate immediately with another company.

3.) If you have an anti-theft device on your vehicle, make sure to let your insurance company know about it. If you do not have an anti-theft device already installed, consider adding one if you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle. Insurance companies generally offer discounts for anti-theft devices from 5% to 20%, or more, of your comprehensive coverage premium, depending on the type of anti-theft device. Vehicle recovery devices (e.g., Lo-Jack or On-Star) generally provide the biggest discount, with automatic anti-theft devices (i.e., those that arm themselves) probably being second on the list, and passive anti-theft devices (i.e., those that you must arm) and window glass etching or ignition shut-off mechanisms probably providing less of a discount. Of course, before installing an anti-theft device you will probably want to compare the savings you will receive by adding it to the total cost of installation. Depending on the cost of installation, it may not be cost-effective to install it.

4.) Check with your insurer to find out whether they offer discounts for attending a defensive driving course. These courses may normally be taken by drivers of all ages. Discounts vary by state and from company to company, but by paying a small fee and spending a few hours of your time for a defensive driving course, you may be able to save yourself approximately 5% to 10% or 15% of your TOTAL insurance premium. Note: If you are over age 55, ask about a special “Mature Driving Course” or “55-Alive Driving Course” discount. Also, if there are multiple drivers on your policy, ask whether you can receive a larger discount if all of you take the course–some companies will offer larger discounts, some won’t, but if you ask, you can at least decide which driver/s on your policy should take the course to maximize your discount.

5.) For youthful operators (generally considered to be drivers under the age of 25), make sure you ask the insurer what discounts they may be eligible for. This may seem obvious, but it is amazing how many people miss out on significant savings because they forget to ask about specific discounts for younger drivers. Driver’s Ed or Driver’s Training and Good Student discounts are the most common types of discounts for youthful operators, but always ask if other discounts may apply.

6.) Always notify your insurance company when you have changes that may be beneficial to you. For instance, if you were single and are now married, make sure to let the insurer know. If you used to commute a far distance to work, but now have a shorter commute or work out of your home or are retired, you will most likely be eligible for a lower rate. If you used to park your car in your driveway or on the street and now park it in an enclosed or covered garage or shed, you may get a lower rate. As a basic rule of thumb, if it seems to you that you are less of a risk due to some change in your life, chances are your insurance company will think the same thing and give you a lower rate.

7.) Check rates for higher Bodily Injury (BI) limits. That’s right, HIGHER limits! Believe it or not, it may be substantially cheaper for you to have limits for BI coverage of 50/100 or 100/300 than it is to have the state minimum coverage. One of the reasons for this odd phenomenon is that insurance companies consider you to be less of a risk if you are the type of individual who would be conscientious enough to have higher limits of BI coverage. Insurance companies have shown statistically that drivers who have higher BI limits are, overall, better risks and less likely to be involved in accidents or losses. Therefore, you can insert yourself into this group of drivers that is viewed more favorably by your company by carrying higher BI limits. Note: If you currently carry lower BI limits, your insurance company may not immediately rate for the change–you may have to wait until the next renewal to see a price change, or, in some cases, you may have to increase your BI limits and then shop for other insurance so that companies give you “credit” for your higher limits.

8.) Consider taking full coverage off of that older vehicle that is paid for. Many, many people carry full coverage on an older-model vehicle they own that may only be worth a couple thousand dollars. Even if they have a total loss of their vehicle, they may only receive a small amount of money for their vehicle after the deductible is taken into account. Yet, they may be paying several hundreds of dollars extra every year for full coverage. To save money, compare what you would receive for your vehicle if you had a total loss to what it costs to carry full coverage, and then make an educated decision. Note: Taking full coverage off of an older vehicle probably makes the most sense when the drivers of the vehicle have a good driving record, since they are even less likely than the average person to have an accident and file a claim.

9.) If your credit score has recently improved, contact your insurance company to find out whether they will re-run your credit score to possibly give you a lower rate. Most auto insurance companies now use credit in one form or another to accurately rate a policy. Whatever your personal opinion is of this practice, it is the standard method of operation for most auto insurance companies. (Note: There are states that have made laws against use of credit for auto insurance rating purposes. In these states, this step will not help you.) Because your credit score is a MAJOR factor with some companies, an improvement in your credit may save you a LOT of money, but only if you request that they re-check it).

10.) Check on how much it would cost to add comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, or both to your vehicle. Surprisingly, some companies actually offer lower rates if you have comprehensive, collision, or both, than they do for liability-only policies. This is definitely counter-intuitve, but it is based on the same principle mentioned above regarding higher BI limits–the insurance company may view you more favorably (as far as risk is concerned) if you are an individual who would at least carry more than the basic coverage on your automobile. So, when you shop for quotes on a vehicle, you may want to check what the difference in price would be between liaiblity coverage, liability plus comprehensive coverage, and liability plus comprehensive and collision coverage.

11.) Lastly, periodically contact your insurance company to see whether they may be able to place you with one of their underwriting companies that is designed for “better” drivers (“better” according to your insurer’s rating factors–they are not judging your “goodness” or “character” for this!). Normally, insurance companies (particularly the larger companies) have multiple underwriting companies (subsidiary companies) that specialize in underwriting different categories of drivers based on the company’s risk assessment of you. If you are not in the insurer’s “best” underwriting company (reserved for their “best” risks), you always have room for improvement with that company, and by simply asking to be considered to be placed in one of the underwriting companies for “better” drivers, you may be able to save yourself a LOT of money over the years. Note: You may only have a real chance of being placed in a better underwriting company if your driving record has improved dramatically over the last couple or several years or if, in the states where credit may be used, your credit score has improved. Either or both of these improvements may give you leverage with the insurance company to request that their underwriters review your policy for placement with a better underwriting company.

The History and Principles of Insurance

Insurance as we know it today could be traced to the Great Fire of London, that in 1666 devoured 13,200 houses. After this disaster Nicholas Barbon opened an office to insure buildings. In 1680 he established England’s 1st fire insurance company, “The Fire Office”, to insure brick and frame homes. The first insurance firm in the United States provided fire insurance was formed in Charles Town (modern day Charleston), South Carolina, in 1732.

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin founded the Philadelphia Aid for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. It refused to insure some buildings in which the risk of fire was too great, like 100% wooden buildings.

The Principles of Insurance:

The exact time or occurrence of the loss need to be uncertain. The value of losses ought to be relatively unsurprising. In order to determine premiums or in other words to calculate price levels, insurers must be able to estimate them. Insurers require to know the price it would be called upon to pay once the insured event occurs. Most types of insurance have maximal levels of payouts, with several exceptions such as health insurance.

The loss should be significant: The legal principle of De minimis (From Latin:about minimal things) dictates that negligible matters are not covered.The payment paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is known as the ‘premium’.

Potential causes of chance that may give rise to insurance claims are named “perils”. Examples of perils might be fire, theft, earthquake, hurricane and numbers of additional possible risks. An insurance policy will set out in details which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. The damage must not be a catastrophic in scale, If the insurer is insolvent, it will be unable to pay the insured. In the United States, there are Guaranty Funds to reimburse insured victims whose insurance companies are bankrupt. This program is managed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Indemnification (compensation)

Anyone wishing to transport risk (an individual, corporation, or organization of any type) becomes the ‘insured’ party once risk is assumed by an ‘insurer’, the insuring party, by means of a contract, defined as an insurance ‘policy’. This legal agreement sets out terms specifying the total of coverage (reimbursement) to be rendered to the insured, by the insurer upon assumption of risk, in the event of a loss, and 100% the specific perils covered against (indemnified), for the duration of the contract.

When insured parties experience a loss, for a specified peril, the coverage allows the policyholder to produce a ‘claim’ against the insurer for the amount of damage when specified by the policy contract.

Financial viability of insurance companies

Financial stability and posture of the insurance company need to be a major factor When purchasing an insurance contract. An insurance premium paid currently provides coverage for damges which can arise few years in the future. Due to that, the financial strength of the insurance carrier is most significant. In the past few years, a few of insurance companies became unable to pay, neglecting their policyholders with out coverage (or coverage merely from a government backed insurance pool with less the Priciples and History of InsuranceS-favorable payouts for losses). A number of independent rating agencies, like Best’s, provide facts and rate the financial strength of insurance firms.

Risks Assessment

The insurer uses actuarial science to quantify the risk they are prepared to consider. Information is gathered to approximate future insurance claims, ordinarily with reasonable accuracy. Actuarial science employs statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are utilized by insurers, in combination with other factors, to decide rate composition.

The Gambling Analogy

Certain people erroneously assume insurance a type of wager (particularly as associated with moral hazard) which executes over the policy period of time. The insurance company bets that you or your property will not suffer a damage while you put money on the opposite outcome. Virtually all house owner’s insurance does not cover floods. Using insurance, you are managing risk that you may not otherwise prevent, and that does not lend itself the chance of benefit (pure risk). In other words, gambling isn’t an insurable risk.

The “insurance” of Social Solidarity

A few of religious groups among them the Amish and Muslims refrain from insurance and instead depend on support provided by their society when disasters strike. This could be thought of as “social insurance”, as the risk of any given person is assumed collectively by the community who will completely bear the cost of reconstruction. In closed, mutual help communities in which other people might actually step in to rebuild total lost property, this arrangement could function. The majority of societies could not effectively support this type of models and it will not function for catastrophic risks.
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurance).

MBA – International Trade & Finance – Heriot-Watt University. Bsc. Computers and Information Systems – Long Island University – C.W Post Campus. Hobby: Photography. Married with two Children.

Seven Shopping Strategies For New Car Buyers

New car shopping can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re a car enthusiast. But others can find the experience stressful and tedious. Either way, there’s a lot to think about. According to a survey of car shoppers, overall purchase price is the most important factor when shopping for a new car (46 percent), followed by make and model (31 percent).

Safety and performance come in a distant third, tied at seven percent. But whether you’re turned on or turned off by the dizzying array of car choices, trim options, “expert” reviews, incentives and other deals, it definitely pays to approach car buying strategically.

So if you’re in the market for a new vehicle and you find yourself having trouble keeping a clear head, just keep these strategies, courtesy of J. Peter & Associates in mind:

1. Decide how much money you can spend and what type of vehicle best suits your needs. Just looking for the basic transport capability of a small or medium sedan? Or do you need the hauling capacity of a van or SUV? Something practical? Something sporty? Something in between?

2. Research crash tests and accident data available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

3. Shop around for financing. If you can, apply for and get approval for a loan from a bank, credit union or other financier before you even visit the dealership. Being a “cash buyer” gives you an advantage when you do finally meet with the dealership’s financing person.

4. Test drive the car. Try to drive in conditions that will be similar to those under which you’ll drive every day.

5. Check pricing for your desired make and model at two or three dealerships and use that information to help you negotiate the best deal.

6. Get a firm quote, in writing. This should include not only the cost of the car, but any fees and the sales tax.

7. Inspect your new car carefully before driving off the lot. Make sure all the options you’ve ordered are included and that the body and paint are free of scratches or dents.

Finally, it’s important to consider the cost of auto insurance, although it seems that few people realize that what they pay for insurance can add significantly to the vehicle’s total cost.

Wise car buyers know to shop around for insurance and find out how costs compare. They also know to visit an independent insurance agency – like J. Peter & Associates .We can check with several companies to find the best combination of coverage and price.