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Why Staying with Your Car Insurance Company Can Be a Good Thing

You’ve probably seen tips on other insurance blogs or heard advice through auto insurers directly about how important it is to shop around for quotes. While this is a strong practice to allow yourself access to the best rates for your car make, age, and driving history, it isn’t always the best idea. For some people, staying with the same auto insurer for an extended period of time has been the most cost-effective, practical solution for their circumstances.

What many people don’t think about when deciding to switch auto insurance companies is the quality of the services, not just the quantity of cash they’ll save. Just because a car insurance company is offering cheaper rates than your current insurance policy doesn’t mean it’s a better policy. Before you switch to a different insurance company that offers you a lower quote than the insurer you’re currently dealing with, make sure you weigh the options. Staying with your current car insurance company can be a positive decision.

 

Renewal Discounts

Many insurance companies offer discounts to customers that have been loyal to them for several years. Arbella offers an additional 1% loyalty credit for every year you renew with them. Ameriprise offers discounts to customers that have been loyal to them for three years. While some insurance companies offer discounts when you renew with them, most companies offer more substantial discounts on other fronts.

 

Bundling Discounts

A lot of insurance companies will give you a discount if you bundle your car insurance with your home or life insurance policies. Nationwide, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, and other insurance companies offer discounts to people who purchase multiple insurance policies with them. If you have bundled policies and have earned a discount as a result, you may have to prepare yourself for higher rates if you decide to switch insurance companies or forego a policy.

 

Accident Forgiveness

Nationwide, Allstate, Travelers, and dozens of other insurance companies offer accident forgiveness to their clients. Accident forgiveness refers to a park in which customers do not have to pay extra rates after their first at-fault accidents. Most accident forgiveness discounts can only be redeemed after 5 or 6 years of loyalty to the insurer. If you’ve been with the same company for long enough to qualify for this perk (or are close to this threshold), staying with your auto insurance company could be beneficial.

 

Overall Loyalty

As a general benefit from staying with your auto insurance company, you’ll have a better relationship with your insurer. Building trust with an agent creates a positive working relationship. This trust may help you in the long run; if you ever need to file a claim after an accident, this process should be simpler and more successful if you are speaking with an agent you’re very familiar with. If your agent knows your driving habits and history well, he or she will be able to recommend the best coverage for you. Getting acquainted with your insurance company is a huge perk to staying loyal to your insurance company.


If you believe none of these benefits affect you directly right now, you might want to shop around for auto insurance quotes. If one of these perks applies to your current policy, sticking with your current company could be the best option, especially if the quotes you’re seeing aren’t significantly lower than your current rate.

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What Car Warranty is Best for Me?

Whether you're shopping for a new or used car, most people have a general idea that a warranty is a good idea. Warranties are often considered to be a form of "insurance" - you pay out a fee and in exchange, your car will be fixed if anything on it breaks, but unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. There are different types of warranties and a warranty might not necessarily cover everything that you think it will. Here is everything you need to know:

What Exactly is an Auto Warranty?

A warranty is a contract between either you and your dealership or you and your manufacturer. At its simplest, a warranty sets out a specific amount of time and mileage; any defects and repairs that are necessary under that time and mileage amount are automatically covered under warranty. Warranties usually last around three years or 36,000 miles. They can also be extended upon vehicle purchase. This is very common when used vehicles are purchased. 

But an auto warranty is not a type of insurance even though it is often presented as one. Auto warranties are only designed to fix parts that are considered to be defective or faulty. They are not designed to fix parts that have broken down from wear-and-tear, collisions or other issues. There are also different types of auto warranties that you need to understand.

What Types of Warranty Coverage Exist?

  • Drivetrain and powertrain warranties - These warranties are designed to ensure that the very essential components of the vehicle last: the engine, transmission and the associated parts. Drivetrain and powertrain warranties protect against manufacturer defects of these components but will be voided if they haven't been properly serviced (such as with regular oil changes).
  • Bumper-to-bumper warranties - The standard bumper-to-bumper warranty is a three-year warranty (or 36,000 miles) that governs the parts of the vehicle from bumper-to-bumper. If these parts are considered to be defective, they will be repaired as needed.
  • Rust or corrosion warranties - This type of warranty is rarer but may be tacked on to the other warranty. This covers rust and corrosion if it occurs due to a defect.
  • Federal emissions warranties - This warranty is more popular now and will cover any repairs necessary to ensure that the vehicle meets its emissions standards.
  • Roadside assistance - This is another specialty warranty that offers roadside assistance if a vehicle breaks down. Most people already have this through their insurance.

How Does a Warranty Work?

To go through a warranty, you must first contact the vehicle entity you have a relationship with: either your dealer or your manufacturer. They will then direct you to the repair shop that will work with you. 

Warranties can be voided if an individual does not maintain their vehicle properly. Auto Tek provides complete auto services that will ensure that all the parts of your vehicle are well-maintained so that you can stay within your warranties. Contact our team of professionals today!

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How to File an Insurance Claim After a Fire

Many households share one common fear: house fires. Aside from the danger associated with them, house fires put your personal belongings at serious risk. People without homeowners insurance can pay thousands of dollars just to replace the items lost in a fire, not to mention the damages done to the structure of the home itself.

Fortunately, if you’ve obtained a homeowners insurance policy before the incident occurs, you’ll be in much better shape. Paying for repairs after a fire or other disaster strikes out of pocket can cost an arm and a leg. If you have an adequate amount of home insurance coverage and are keeping up with your premium payments, any damage that was caused by a fire in your home should be covered.

Following these steps will make the claims process as painless as possible. Though you’ll want your home repaired and items replaced as soon as possible, patience is required if you want to maintain a positive relationship with your insurance company.

 

Before You File a Claim:

Go Shopping

When you were evacuating your home during a fire, you probably didn’t have time to grab much, if anything at all. You can ask for an advance payment from your homeowners insurance company to cover some essentials, like a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and other hygiene products, and even clothes that you’d wear to work. Fortunately, your home insurer wants to be convenient, so you won’t need to file a claim before you buy these items. Instead, ask your insurer for an advance in the form of a check or wire transfer. Make sure you save your receipts and don’t spend above your (and your insurer’s) means, as you’ll need to pay the difference. In other words, when you’re buying a replacement suit to wear to work, head to Macy’s, not to Gucci.

 

Mitigate the Damages

As a homeowner with an insurance policy, it’s your duty to make sure that no extra harm comes upon the home. Do what you can to keep this bad situation from getting any worse. After the fire is extinguished, assess the damages and take steps to protect your home and belongings from an incident resulting from this destruction. If there’s a hole in the exterior wall, for example, board it up to keep vandals or thieves out. If your roof experiences damage from a fire, lay a tarp over the exposed section to prevent rain from creating water damage. Stay on top of things to make sure no new issues arise as a result of the fire damage.

 

Filing the Claim:

Call Your Insurer

Make your claim as soon as possible. Calling your insurer directly is the most proactive, effective way to do this. The insurance agent will ask you about details regarding the accident and its aftermath so the insurance company can get an accurate report. After you speak with an agent, you’ll be asked to submit a proof of loss claim, which details the items lost from the fire, along with their values. This might sound obvious, but the sooner you file the claim, the higher priority your claim will be and the faster the damages will be fixed. Once the claim is initially made, your insurer will bring on a claims representative, who will take a look at your policy, what it entails, your deductibles and any other useful information. Your claims representative will send you a detailed letter documenting this information. This process should take less than 30 days.

 

Be Assertive

After filing the claim, if you feel that your insurance company is taking their time in responding to your initial claim, don’t be afraid to call or write to them. If there’s no question about whether or not you’ll receive coverage from the damages to your home, your repairs should be started in a relatively timely manner. If you’re still feeling tossed aside, you might need to send a letter to your state’s Department of Insurance. This letter can even be a copy of the same email or letter you sent to your insurer. If your insurer is taking too long, the Department of Insurance will reach out to them. This should light a fire under your insurance company, figuratively speaking.

 

Come to a Settlement

If you disagree with your insurer’s analysis of your policy, you are entitled to respond to their initial statement. Just because your home insurer is the one covering the damages doesn’t mean you have no say. Try to come to an agreement on this claim. Once the settlement is reached, the claims representative will either make the payments immediately or decide to investigate further to make sure no fraud is occurring. If the representative wants to go with the latter step, your insurer will send an investigator to look at the damages on your home. If no fraud is detected, the cost estimates to repair or replace features of your home will be put in place by your insurance company.

 

Track Your Living Expenses

If you were forced to relocate from your home to either a friend’s house or a hotel, you might be making various out-of-pocket expenses that you otherwise wouldn’t have made. If your hotel room doesn’t have a kitchen, you might be getting takeout meals more frequently. If you normally pay $300 per week for groceries but spend $450 one week for primarily takeout meals, you should be reimbursed $150 that week from your insurance company. This comes from the loss of use clause, which entitles you to additional living expenses that you are making while living away from home during the claims and repair process. Under this clause, your insurer will most likely pay your motel or hotel bill. However, as with shopping for essentials on your insurer’s dollar, be reasonable with your spending and lodging choices.

 

Get a Repair Estimate

This is where the type of homeowners insurance you have comes into play. If you have an “actual cash value” policy, you will be reimbursed the amount of money these damages items are worth at the time of the fire. If you lose an outdated piece of technology, like an old TV or computer, you’ll receive the amount of cash the item is worth in the present, not what you bought it for. “Actual cash value” policies take objects’ depreciation into account. On the other hand, if you have a “replacement cost” policy, you will be reimbursed the amount of money it would take to replace the object. If you lose a laptop that you bought in 2011 with this sort of policy, you will receive the cost it takes to buy a brand new laptop, not the amount the exact laptop is worth in present day.

 

It’s Not Over Yet

When you filed the initial claim, you might have overlooked other damages. For that reason, leave the claim open with your insurer for a few months after the repairs have been completed. That way, if you come across an issue that emerged from the fire damage, you won’t need to pay a second deductible. Your insurance company will want to close the claim as soon as possible for this reason, but don’t hesitate to keep it open just in case.

 

This sounds like a long process. Unfortunately, it may take a few months to file a claim and receive repairs on your home following a fire; this seems like a long time, especially if you’ve been relocated from your home. However, your insurance company wants to make it as seamless and efficient as possible. If you work with your insurance company cooperatively yet assertively, you will make this process much easier on yourself and them.

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Separating Fact From Fiction When It Comes to Long-Term Care Insurance

Few people are prepared to handle the financial burden of long-term health care. In fact, many people have a false sense of security when it comes to long-term care. Let’s separate fact from fiction:

“Medicare and my Medicare supplement policy will cover it.”

FACTS:

  • Medicare and “Medigap” insurance were never intended to pay for ongoing, long-term care. Only about 12% of nursing home costs are paid by Medicare, for short-term skilled nursing home care following hospitalization. (Source: Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance, AHIP, 2013)
  • Medicare and most health insurance plans, including Medicare supplement policies, do not pay for long-term custodial care. (Source: 2017 Medicare & You, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

“It won’t happen to me.”

FACTS:

  • Almost 70% of people turning age 65 will need long term care services and supports at some point in their lives. (Source: LongTermCare.gov, November 2016)
  • About 67% of nursing home residents and 70% of assisted living residents are women. (Source: Long-Term Care Providers and Services Users in the United States, February 2016, National Center for Health Statistics)

“I can afford it.”

FACTS:

  • As a national average, a year in a nursing home is currently estimated to cost about $92,000. In some areas, it can easily cost well over $110,000! (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)
  • The average length of a nursing home stay is 835 days. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nursing Home Care FastStats, last updated May 2014)
  • The national average cost of a one bedroom in an assisted living facility in the U.S. was $43,539 per year in 2016. (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)
  • Home health care is less expensive, but it still adds up. In 2016, the national average hourly rate for licensed home health aides was $20. Bringing an aide into your home for 20 hours a week can easily cost over $1,600 each month, or almost $20,000 a year. (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)

“If I can’t afford it, I’ll go on Medicaid.”

FACTS:

  • Medicaid, or welfare assistance, has many “strings” attached and is only available to people who meet federal poverty guidelines.

Whether purchased for yourself, your spouse or for an aging parent, long-term care insurance can help protect assets accumulated over a lifetime from the ravages of long-term care costs.

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Blood Cancers and Buying Life Insurance

According to the American Society of Hematology, blood cancers affect the production and function of your blood cells and end up preventing your blood from performing many of its functions, such as fighting off infections or preventing serious bleeding.  Approximately every three minutes, one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer.  September is both Life Insurance Awareness Month and Blood Cancer Awareness Month.  In this post, let’s discuss the different types of blood cancer and how these conditions can affect buying life insurance.

What are the different types of blood cancer?

There are three main types of blood cancer: leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.  An estimated 1,290,773 Americans are either living with, or are in remission from, leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma.

Leukemia – cancer of the body’s blood forming tissues.

  • Mainly affects bone marrow and the lymphatic system
  • Usually, affects white blood cells – the infection fighting cells
  • There are many types of leukemia

Lymphoma – cancer of the lymphatic system.

  • Affects the lymphatic system – the body’s germ-fighting network – which includes the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow
  • There two categories: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Myeloma – cancer of plasma cells.

  • Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce disease- and infection-fighting antibodies
  • Cancerous plasma cells release too much protein and can cause organ damage
  • Cancerous plasma cells can also crowd the normal cells in your bones and weaken them

How does leukemia affect buying life insurance?

Leukemia can be either acute or chronic.  Chronic leukemia progresses more slowly than acute leukemia, which requires immediate treatment.  There are five types of leukemia: acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL), hairy cell leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).  ALL is the most common form of childhood leukemia and AML and CLL are most common in adults.

Although individuals who have been diagnosed with leukemia generally cannot get preferred life insurance risk classes, that is Preferred Plus or Preferred, once treated with no recurrence, individuals can be considered for Standard life insurance rates.  Risk classes are dependent on the type of leukemia, your age at diagnosis, and how long it has been since completion of treatment.  The more years that have passed since treatment, the better your chances are for qualifying for Standard or Standard Plus.

Risk Classes
Preferred Plus
Preferred
Standard Plus
Standard

If you do not qualify for standard risk classes, you may be table rated and/or be required to pay a flat extra.  A table rating typically means you will pay the standard prices plus a certain percentage.  A flat extra is an additional fee that cushions the risk for the insurance carrier.  A flat extra can last the entire life of a policy or just a few years.

Table Rating
(alphabetical)
Table Rating
(numerical)
Pricing
A 1 Standard + 25%
B 2 Standard + 50%
C 3 Standard + 75%
D 4 Standard + 100%
E 5 Standard + 125%
F 6 Standard + 150%
G 7 Standard + 175%
H 8 Standard + 200%
I 9 Standard + 225%
J 10 Standard + 250%

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Example 1

 

Jane Doe was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when she was 8 years old.  She is now 30 years old and it has been over 20 years since treatment was completed.  Jane is a non-smoker and aside from her history of childhood cancer, she has a clean bill of health.

She applies for a 30-year $500,000 life insurance policy and is approved at Standard Plus.  Her monthly premium payments will be $50.

Example 2

 

John Smith was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) when he was 18 years old.  Part of his treatment was a bone marrow transplant.  He is now 32 years old, does not smoke, and it has been 13 years since treatment was completed.

He applies for a 20-year $500,000 life insurance policy and is approved at Table B.  His monthly premium payments will be $60.

Keep in mind that no life insurance company underwrites the exact same way.  (Underwriting is the process of evaluating an application and determining a risk class.)  Some will be stricter with leukemia than others.

How does lymphoma affect buying life insurance?

There are two categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin.  The difference between the two is based on the type of cancer cells present.  According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Hodgkin lymphoma is rare, accounting for about .5 percent of all new cancers diagnosed.  Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common being the seventh most diagnosed cancer.

In the majority of cases, applicants with a history of lymphoma will be assigned a flat extra for the first few years, unless a good number of years (like ten) have passed since treatment.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Example

 

John Doe is a 54-year-old male, non-smoker, applying for a 20-year $250,000 term policy.  He was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma five years ago.  He went through chemotherapy that same year and continued preventative treatment for two years following.  There has been no sign of recurrence.  He gets check-ups once per year.

John is approved at Table B with a flat extra of $15 per thousand for five years.  Here’s what all that means.  John is getting $250,000 in coverage, so to calculate the flat extra you multiply 15 by 250.  John will have to pay an extra $3750 per year on top of his normal premiums for five years.  Once year five is over, his premiums will drop to the regular Table B premium which will be $140 per month.

Again, no life insurance company underwrites the same way.  There are insurance carriers that would decline John outright.  This is why working with an independent agency like Quotacy is beneficial.  We have contracts with multiple A-rated carriers, so your chances of being approved are better.

How does myeloma affect buying life insurance?

Myeloma has different forms, but 90 percent of people who have been diagnosed with myeloma have multiple myeloma.  It’s called such because it affects several areas of the body versus just one site.  There is currently no cure for multiple myeloma, so life insurance approval may prove difficult.  Unless you have had a bone marrow transplant, an applicant diagnosed with multiple myeloma will typically be declined for life insurance.  Myeloma is, however, the least commonly diagnosed type of blood cancer.

Plasmacytoma and localized myeloma diagnoses, these are forms of myeloma in which cancer cells are found in only one site, have higher chances of life insurance approval.  Standard rates are even possible if enough years have passed since treatment.

If you have a history of blood cancer, don’t hesitate to apply for life insurance.  Applying for life insurance is free and there is no commitment to buy.  Here at Quotacy we have access to many life insurance carriers and will help to get you approved for coverage.  Start out by using our term quoting tool to run as many quotes as you would like – no contact information required.  We look forward to helping you get life insurance.

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5 BENEFITS OF ON-DEMAND HOME MONITORING

For anyone concerned with home safety, a monitoring system that alerts authorities during an emergency is a clear need to maintain security and peace of mind. How do you decide what kind of solution is right for you?

Professional monitoring services are one way to maintain the continuous safety of your home and the most common route for homeowners. These services offer 24/7 alarm monitoring of your home by trained call center representatives for a monthly fee.

However, as the do-it-yourself (DIY) home security market sees continual growth, some people may prefer on-demand home monitoring instead. This option allows you to turn professional monitoring services on and off as needed.

On-Demand Home Monitoring Benefits

On-demand monitoring offers a number of benefits to the DIY home security market:

  1. Affordability. One of the most intriguing aspects of DIY is the cost-savings. With on-demand monitoring, you only pay for the monitoring you want, when you need it. Never waste money on unnecessary services.
  2. Flexibility. On-demand monitoring can be turned on and off based on your specific needs. This customization is useful for anyone who only wants monitoring capabilities while they’re traveling or leaving for an extended period.
  3. Ease of use. On-demand home monitoring is incredibly simple to adjust to your lifestyle, allowing you to determine whether you’d like home monitoring in that moment. However, proper education of your security products and monitoring needs are essential to avoid malfunctioning equipment.
  4. Mobile capability. Easily activate on-demand monitoring from your mobile device. It’s simple to turn monitoring on and off from anywhere, as long as you have access to a smart phone or tablet.
  5. Peace of mind. Though you may not desire full-time monitoring, it’s comforting to know you can simply activate professional monitoring in specific situations. The flexibility of on-demand monitoring gives you ease when needed.

The proper DIY home security equipment ensures your home and valuables are safe with unmatched convenience and customization options.

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Csezone Weigh in on Key to Financial Fitness

 

We asked some top advisors what their advice is for being financially fit. Here’s what they shared with us. How many of these can you tick off?

It’s about the flow. Watch your cash flow and live within your means—that’s the starting point. Once that’s under control, plan for the future, including what if something happens to you. What is the impact of that on those left behind and especially if there is debt left behind? That’s where life insurance comes in.

—Aurora Tancock, CFP, FLMI, AIAA, president of Aurora Tancock Financial Services

Set goals. Just as exercise becomes a key tool to achieve health goals, life insurance is the same in your financial fitness program. Among the many goals you can achieve through life insurance are: saving for future projects, plan for retirement and protecting the financial well-being of your family.

—Ana Sofía Rodríguez D, M.B.A., associate director of Grupo Inverseguros

See no evil. Make sure you can leave your family no worse off than they currently are. A lot of people are insurance poor. There’s nothing evil about insurance. It allows your family to maintain same standard of living that they’re accustomed to if something were to happen.

The second is to buy products before the need is there. If you can’t afford all of what you need, start off with what you can afford. For example, start with term life insurance, instead of permanent, and then when you can, change it to a permanent solution.

—Corry Collins, CFP, ChFC, CHS, of Maritime Wealth Management

Get help. I would suggest people start working with an advisor as soon as possible. It’s much easier to fix the financial “mess” of 30-year-old than a 55-year-old. And then, don’t let life get in the way of keeping up with your plan. I think annual reviews are great for keeping people on track.

—Jennifer Mann, LUTCF, CLU, ChFC, CFP, vice president of the Chicago office of Lenox Advisors

Give it a dry run. I’d ask, “Do you have a spending or savings plan?” You need something to help you understand if you are spending more than you’re earning and whether you’re saving enough. It’s great if you can get on a spending plan and stick to it and reevaluate it periodically.

Then reduce and eliminate your debt—but you’ve have to want to do it! Remember, 98% of the people work for 2% of the people. The lenders are the ones you’re working for.

Then have a dry run, what happens if … You have to go through your plan to see if you have enough life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care … what are the survivor needs going to be? etc. and then create a plan to live on that budget, so you can fund the things for later. By saving to today, you can have your earnings pay for your salary later.

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