Don’t Be Unprepared: A Homeowner’s Guide to Flood Insurance

Don’t Be Unprepared: A Homeowner’s Guide to Flood Insurance

If you’ve followed recent news about Yellowstone, you may have realized that floods are one of the most devastating natural disasters to exist. However, they also happen to be the most common, and occur far more often than people realize. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are approximately 500 flood-related events in the U.S. every year. What’s more, major floods can cause billions of dollars in damage and destroy countless homes, so it’s important to know whether you live in an area that’s at risk of flooding and what steps you can take to protect your home.

But even if you don’t live in an area with an especially high risk of flooding, it’s important to make sure you have considered flood coverage on your home insurance policy before disaster strikes. If you need it, flood damage can be surprisingly extensive and hard to cover out-of-pocket, so there’s no sense in taking unnecessary risks when you don’t have to.

What is flood insurance?

Flood insurance is a type of insurance coverage that helps protect your home from damage caused by flooding. Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage, so it’s important to purchase separate flood insurance if you live in an area at risk of flooding, or you suspect that a singular flood in your area will damage your home or other property.

What does flood insurance cover?

Flood insurance is vital for homeowners in flood-prone areas, but many people don’t know what their policy covers. Generally, there are two types of insurance that can protect you against this danger: building and contents insurance policies. Building insurance will cover any damages caused by flooding during a storm event, including damages to your home itself as well as any fixtures inside it (such as plumbing). Contents insurance will cover anything that was damaged by water or ruined due to wet conditions during the event (like clothing).

When pricing out a policy, insurance companies consider your risk level—the higher your risk level, the more expensive the policy will be. That means if you live in a flood plain, or your property has a long history of flooding during big weather events, you may find it to be quite expensive.

How do I know if I need flood insurance?

As a homeowner, you should always be prepared for the worst, and in some cases, that means having insurance to cover you in case of a flood. But how do you know if you need flood insurance?

A homeowner will likely know they need to purchase a policy when they see changes in their neighborhood that could indicate an increased likelihood of flooding, or if they notice that their own property has flooded previously. For example, if a water pipe broke upstream and water levels started rising or there was an increase in river levels or heavy rain storms near their home, then they may have some indicators that they should purchase this type of coverage.

More generally, there are two important questions to ask yourself before purchasing a flood policy.

  1. Is your home at risk for flooding?
  2. What would happen if it did flood? How much money would I lose?

If either of these questions can’t be answered with a positive and reliable outcome, then flood insurance may be something you should consider.

What policies are available?

There are two standard types of flood insurance available for homeowners: the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and private flood insurance. Depending on the level of risk, homeowners may consider either or both of these options for coverage.

The NFIP

The NFIP is a government-backed program that is available through participating insurance companies. NFIP policies are available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and have standard coverage limits. NFIP insurance may be required if you have a government-backed loan for your mortgage.

Private Insurance

Private flood insurance is offered by some insurance companies and may provide additional coverage not available through the NFIP. You can get this type of insurance through a variety of different insurers, who will offer a variety of flexible coverage options. Private insurance is a great way to cover all types of risk for any type of home. 

If you’re concerned about flooding at your residence, or any other type of coverage to protect it, we would love to chat with you further. Whatever your needs, we at Penny Insurance are here to protect what you hold dear. If you’d like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

8 Cyber Security Tips to Keep You Safe Online

8 Cyber Security Tips to Keep You Safe Online

Just as you lock your doors and windows to prevent thieves from entering your home, you should take steps to protect yourself online as well. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, more than half of American adults are concerned about their online privacy and security. And it’s no wonder—with hackers, cyberbullies, and other online threats constantly lurking around every corner, it’s not difficult to understand why people would be worried about their safety and security on the Internet.

However, when it comes to staying safe online, the main thing you need to know about security online is that if you don’t take steps to protect yourself, you’re putting yourself at risk. That means you could become the victim of an attack or crime and lose your money, your reputation or your peace of mind in the process. To help you protect yourself against these kinds of threats, here are eight cyber security tips you should follow as much as possible.

1) Stop Password Reuse

As dangerous as it is, many people have a single password for all their accounts, or at least very similar passwords. This is a recipe for disaster if any of your accounts are compromised; the thief only needs to access one account to see that same password on others, and all it takes is one hacker with a big enough bank of stolen passwords to get in.

To keep your passwords safe, follow these tips:

  • Use different passwords on each account
  • Never use words you’ve used before
  • Avoid overly simple ones like 12345, pet names or other identifiable info
  • Change your password regularly—at least every six months or so, and
  • If you ever suspect an account has been hacked, change your password immediately

2) Avoid Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are among one of the most common ways that hackers steal information. These scams work by tricking you into visiting a website that looks legitimate, but instead steals your login credentials or other private information. To avoid phishing scams, take some time before entering any personal information online—even if it appears on a trusted website. Think about what types of websites you’re comfortable sharing information with and stick to them for as long as possible, and never re-enter sensitive info unless you’re absolutely sure that site is actually where it claims to be.

3) Do Not Click On Links From Unknown Senders

This is one of those pieces of advice you should take from time to time, regardless of how often you think it applies. It’s almost impossible to look at a strange text or email and not click—especially if you’re curious! But clicking links or attachments from people you don’t know can land you in trouble. The reality is that if someone asks for any of your personal information, whether it be passwords or social security numbers, they’re probably up to no good. Do not engage with them—block their number and delete texts/emails asking for sensitive info immediately.

4) Change Passwords Regularly

To stay safe online, experts recommend changing your passwords at least once every six months. Longer than that and hackers could have enough time to crack any passwords you haven’t changed recently, which is especially risky if you use a password across multiple accounts. So when it comes to passwords, less is more. Try using a password manager like LastPass that creates complex passwords for you, then stores them in an encrypted database so you only need to remember one master password.

5) Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor identification is a security measure that requires two different forms of identification (hence, two-factors) to gain access to a user’s account. This means that someone attempting to access your account will need not only your password but also some additional information from you—think an SMS code or a unique secret key—to get in. Set up two-factor authentication on all your accounts and you’ll be far more secure than most people are online.

6) Stay Away From Rogue Wi-Fi Networks

Public wi-fi is dangerous, especially when it comes to using your personal devices. Hackers can easily access unprotected public Wi-Fi networks and steal private information like passwords, credit card information and other sensitive data you may be transmitting. To avoid these risks and stay safe online, use a VPN whenever you are on an unsecured network (such as public wi-fi at a mall, store or an airport). A VPN creates a secure connection between your device and the server, preventing hackers from accessing your data.

7) Backup Your Data Regularly

While backups won’t necessarily prevent a problem online, backups of your data can help you get your system back on track if you’re hacked or a device is damaged. It can also help you prevent data loss in case something happens to valuable information.

8) Insure Yourself against Cyber Threats

In an age where cyber threats are getting more sophisticated by the day, it’s essential to be proactive in protecting yourself online. A cyber insurance policy can help you guard against potential online disasters, whether it’s hacking into your accounts or identity theft. And since most of us are novices when it comes to online safety and security, cyber insurance can take some of the guesswork out of keeping you safe online. Whether it covers identity theft, online personas or your own stored information, think of your cyber insurance policy as a proactive investment that will pay for itself in case something goes wrong.

Whatever your needs, risk tolerance or online lifestyle looks like, we at Penny Insurance are here to help you stay safe. If you’d like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

A Guide to Insuring and Protecting Your Vacation Home

A Guide to Insuring and Protecting Your Vacation Home

A vacation home can be the perfect place to get away from the constant grind of the week. But while your primary home has certain protections and insurances in place, a vacation home may not be quite as protected. With more and more people deciding to own vacation or secondary homes, it’s important to protect those investment properties as much as possible. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Homeowner’s Insurance?

Homeowners insurance is a type of property insurance that covers damage or destruction to your home. If your home (whether primary or secondary) is damaged by fire, flood, theft, or other disaster covered by a standard homeowners policy, you’ll be able to recoup some of your money spent on repairs.

As an owner of multiple properties, it’s important for homeowners to know what their home insurance covers them for—and what it doesn’t. While every policy varies slightly from company to company (and person to person), there are a few key details all homeowners policies must cover:

  • major catastrophes;
  • accidental damage;
  • vandalism and theft;
  • natural disasters such as storms and floods;
  • repairing damage caused by excluded perils (think earthquakes);
  • water leaks; and
  • mold remediation after natural disasters. 

How is Insurance Different for a Second Home?

Insurance on your vacation home is important for a variety of reasons. A large investment like a vacation home, along with its contents, can mean having some peace of mind for yourself and your family. 

Primarily, you don’t want your hard-earned money spent on an unexpected repair or other similar expenses if something unexpected were to happen while you’re away. In addition, vacation homes tend to be located in more remote areas like lakes, forests, beaches or mountains, so there may not be nearby resources if you need help immediately in an emergency situation, meaning more time for damage to occur. And finally, because they are more remote and often uninhabited, vacations homes can be a beacon for burglaries or vandalism, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve covered yourself—and your home—well.

Unfortunately, many second homes are not covered by the primary homeowner’s insurance policy, so you need to take steps to insure and protect your vacation home in order to get the coverage you need at the best possible price. When you’re considering insuring a vacation home, there are three main areas to focus on: the dwelling itself, the contents of the home, and any additional liability.

Dwelling

This type of coverage ensures that the building itself is covered from damage and loss, in cases of fire, burglary or other damages. (However, it’s important to note that if your second home is in a high-risk area—like for hurricanes or floods—that you carry additional umbrella coverage as well.)

Belongings

This covers the items within the home—furniture, electronics, clothes—ensuring that they can be replaced if lost, damaged or stolen.

Liability

Because many vacation homes are hubs of activity, having an additional liability policy to cover any accidents is a good idea. That way, if anyone is injured or an item is damaged—you have the coverage to make it right. In some cases, you may be able to extend your liability coverage from your first home over to your second—so you’ll want to talk to your agent about what is preferable, as well as what is the most cost-effective option for you. 

How to Determine your Insurance Needs for a Vacation Home

Having proper insurance guarantees that you won’t have any issues when it comes time to make repairs or replace items that are damaged or destroyed due to unforeseen circumstances, but it can be complex to determine how much coverage you need, what types of coverage and what policies you should consider.

For this reason, having an insurance agent with specialized concierge service can help. At Penny Insurance, our agents are positioned to be your trusted advocate in the journey, and can walk you through every option available to you to help you find the right insurance. Not only that, but because Penny Insurance is an independent agency, you can be sure you’ll always have someone on your side—even when something goes awry.

Whatever your needs, what types of coverage you need or questions you may have, we are always here to help you along the way. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know. 

Boat Insurance Basics: What You Need to Know

Boat Insurance Basics: What You Need to Know

If you own or are thinking about purchasing a boat, there’s one thing you need to understand above all else: boat insurance is a necessity. No matter what kind of boat you own, there is always a chance that it could be damaged or lost at some point, so it’s important to ensure that your investment and your lifestyle are protected.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it—boat insurance is expensive. But that doesn’t mean you should skimp out and try to save a few bucks on coverage. With insurance, as with many things in life, you typically get what you pay for, and because watercraft damage can be unpredictable and pervasive, it pays off to spend a little more on your policy and know that you have comprehensive coverage for all possible dangers. That way, if your boat does come into harm’s way, it’ll get taken care of quickly and effectively, with less hassle and frustration from all parties involved.

Fortunately, you don’t have to end up in deep water. Here’s everything you need to know about boat insurance basics before heading out this summer.

What is Boat Insurance and What Does It Cover?

Just like having automotive insurance covers many aspects of owning and operating a car, boat insurance is similar for all types of watercraft. While many states don’t require insurance policies to be held for personal watercraft (although many marinas do), boat owners should always ensure that they have coverage for whatever may come their way. Fortunately, most insurance policies are comprehensive, and cover some or all of the following:

  • Sinking
  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Storm Damage
  • Collision
  • Liability (damage to other boats or structures)

How Do I Choose a Policy?

The key to choosing a policy is to first look at your budget and determine how much coverage you can afford. In some cases, insuring your boat may be a part of a larger insurance package that also includes auto, homeowner’s or renter’s and life insurance policies.

In general, a boat insurance policy should cover three things: property damage, medical payments and collision/collision liability. To fully understand the risk and options available to you, you may want to sit down with an insurance agent to discuss your own circumstances, needs and considerations. Then, they will be able to review your needs carefully before coming up with an actionable plan that fits your lifestyle.

10 Things to Consider (along with Your Insurance Agent)

There are a number of things to consider when purchasing boat insurance (or simply before purchasing the boat itself!) When you sit down with your insurance agent, make sure to talk through the following items so you can make sure you are fully covered.

1. Am I already insured?

Because some policies will cover watercraft as part of a larger policy, check with your current insurance provider if there is any chance that you are already covered under your general home/auto policy, or if it would be better to consider stand-alone coverage.

2. Do I have enough liability protection in case someone gets hurt while using my boat?

Most states require boaters to carry at least $100,000 in liability protection—but some require more than double that amount! In addition, if you are renting a slip at a marina or have a membership there, there may be additional (read: higher) requirements for liability insurance. Make sure you not only understand the thresholds you need to maintain, but have insurance that covers you for the full amount.

3. How much will it cost to replace my boat if something happens?

It’s always better to over-insure than under-insure, but knowing how much your vessel is worth makes a big difference in calculating how much you should spend on protecting it. Fortunately, it’s not hard to determine the value, and an insurance agent can help you along the way.

4. How long am I covered for?

Just like car insurance, boat insurance policies typically last anywhere from six months to one year. To guarantee you always stay covered, make sure your policy will auto-renew so you don’t have a lapse in coverage.

5. What deductibles are involved?

Deductibles are just like those found on auto policies; higher deductibles mean lower premiums. Compare policy options alongside your agent to ensure that you’re balancing these two costs against each other, and won’t end up in a bind if something happens.

As you hit the water this summer—whether it’s at the local lakes or the open sea, make sure you’re covered along the way. We at Penny Insurance are always here to help you navigate the sometimes complex world of insurance coverage. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

How to protect your family heirlooms for future generations

How to protect your family heirlooms for future generations

When it comes to your family heirlooms, you can’t help but be passionate about them. You probably also want to ensure that they are safe from damage or theft, especially if you know that they will one day be handed down to future generations.

But when it comes to protecting the irreplaceable mementos of our lives, how can you ensure their safety and security? This guide will show you how to protect your family heirlooms and collectibles, keeping them safe and sound to continue a legacy into the future.

1. Keep a record

To begin with, make sure you have detailed records of the items: their descriptions, costs, and appraisal values. This will not only help you insure them properly, but will provide a comprehensive account in case of theft or loss, which will come in handy when it comes time to make a claim. In addition, this information may be useful in case you are ever audited by the IRS for tax purposes. These records are often requested during an audit; therefore, the more information you have on hand about each item, the better off you’ll be. Be sure to include details such as where and how you acquired each piece of property, including receipts if possible, as well as details about any restoration work that has been done.

2. Store them safely

When it comes to keeping a family heirloom protected, the first rule of thumb is to store it safely. Putting a piece that is worth thousands of dollars in an enclosed space, or even on a shelf where it could be damaged, is asking for trouble. The best thing to do is buy a large, airtight and stable box or chest, take photos of everything, and then store each item separately. You may even want to categorize them by a number or code that matches your written records. The next step? Put that box away in storage where no one can get to it easily. For highly valuable items, store them somewhere secure, like a bank safety deposit box.

3. Get a collectible insurance policy

Collectible insurance policies are used to protect antique and collectible items, and depending on how valuable your collection is, getting one could be a wise decision. For example, if you inherited a hand-carved grandfather clock from an uncle who purchased it from an upscale store in New York City, getting insured wouldn’t just be smart—it might save you thousands down the road. Fortunately, getting a collectible insurance policy doesn’t have to break your bank; most insurance providers offer affordable rates, depending on what kind of coverage you need.  So when it comes to protecting your hard-earned treasures, consider adding a collectible insurance policy to your arsenal.

4. Plan to pass them on

There are many ways to plan to pass on heirlooms, but if you’re looking to leave them to others—especially pieces with high-value or a lot of meaning within the family—putting your plans in writing is a good idea. While it may not matter to you at that point, it can mean the difference between keeping your wishes intact and an all-out family feud.

Additionally,  you may want to discuss your plans with your insurance provider—they can oftentimes provide customized coverage that protects the item through—or even after—the transition.

Whatever you’re looking to leave behind, what types of coverage you need or the questions you may have, we at Penny Insurance are always here to help you along the way. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

The Importance of Long-Term Care Insurance

The Importance of Long-Term Care Insurance

In the United States, our largest generation is aging; when combined with increased longevity and higher ages among the older population, it means that many Americans are at risk of outliving their benefits and life retirement savings. While it would be hard to find anyone that would say that living longer is a bad thing, the reality is that it can cause a number of financial and logistical issues for those who do.

Fortunately, there is a solution: long-term care insurance, an important consideration for anyone who may need to live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Not only can long-term care insurance cover the cost of any long-term care needs that are related to age and disability, but it can also prepare for a future you might not be able to see coming.

What is long term care insurance and why do you need it

Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance coverage that pays for health care needs not covered by Medicare and Medicaid. This includes nursing home costs, assisted living facility expenses, adult day services, personal assistance and other types of long term care.

When you buy long-term care insurance, you are essentially pre-paying for your future health care needs. The policy will usually cover at least some (or sometimes, all) of the costs of long-term care, depending on the type of coverage you choose.

There are two types of long-term care insurance policies:

1. Indemnity policies.

With an indemnity policy, the insurance company will pay for any approved long-term care services that you need.

2. Benefit period policies.

With a benefit period policy, the insurance company will pay for a certain number of years’ worth of long-term care services. Once that number of years is up, the policyholder is on their own. Some benefit period policies can be renewed after the initial time period ends, but will usually incur a higher cost.

What are the benefits of having long-term care insurance?

There are a number of benefits to having long-term care insurance, which is why it is crucial that anyone close to retirement considers it as an option in their portfolio.

Peace of Mind. 

You will have peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to worry about paying for long-term care services in the future, should you outlive some of your other financial means.

Immediate Medical Help. 

With a long-term care policy, you receive financial assistance right away – so you don’t have to wait until your condition worsens to get help with daily activities and health care costs that aren’t covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

Wide Coverage Options. 

Long-term care insurance helps cover assisted living facility expenses, adult day services and personal assistance required for those who suffer from disabilities as a result of age or other health conditions.

What are some disadvantages of long-term care insurance?

Of course, in contrast, there are always things you need to weigh against when considering purchasing a long-term care policy.

First, long-term care insurance policies can be very expensive and usually require you to pay an up-front premium, plus a yearly premium after that that can continue for as long as your policy is still in effect. You may also be subject to a waiting period before benefits start paying out – meaning you’ll have to pay for any expenses incurred during this time yourself.

Also, be prepared to pay more in premiums as you age; premiums on long-term care policies increase as the insured gets older.

Finally, if for some reason the costs of long-term care exceed the amount paid by your insurance company under your policy, any additional expenses you incur will need to be covered by another source—possibly Medicaid—but it is not a guarantee. Make sure you talk with your trusted agent to determine where your gaps in coverage may be and how they can be shored up before you need them.

If you’re close to retirement, looking to plan ahead, or simply want to know your options in healthcare and other forms of insurance coverage, don’t hesitate to let us know. We at Penny Insurance are dedicated to helping you find the best solutions for whatever you need.  Should you like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know. 

How to Protect your Equine Investments

How to Protect your Equine Investments

People have been riding horses for centuries, and they remain a popular choice for recreation and transportation even today. There may be many reasons why people invest in horses, but regardless of the reason, it’s important to protect your investment—for work, fun or just companionship—with equine insurance. Not only can this help cover any injuries or illnesses that might happen to the animal, it can also provide coverage should the animal be stolen or lost. In this article, we’ll discuss the main types of equine insurance, and other considerations for horse owners.

What is Equine Insurance?

Equine insurance is insurance for horse owners that generally covers the loss or injury of the horse. In this instance, we will define equine insurance as insurance on the horse itself, although there are often many different types of insurance that can sometimes fall into this category—including farm property coverage for paddocks and land and liability insurance if your horse is used for business purposes.

The 2 Types of Equine Insurance

Although there are different types of policies and coverage options to choose from, most equine insurance boils down to two types: Mortality and theft insurance, and Medical/Surgical coverage. 

  1. All-Risk Mortality and Theft

Typically only issued for horses under 20 years of age, a mortality policy covers the loss of a horse due to death, or even theft. This type of coverage is typically available for both personal use animals and trail horses, and in the instance that your horse needs to be put down, is stolen or dies, a mortality policy will reimburse you for the loss, based on age and health of the horse at the time the policy is taken out. 

  1. Medical/Surgical

Available as an add-on to mortality plans, these plans can cost anywhere between 2.5  and four percent of the animal’s value. Medical/Surgical policies can be considered like health insurance for your horse—covering medical costs in case of illness or injuries—and similarly, cover everything from prescriptions to surgery. However, most policies will not cover basic or preventative care like vaccinations or dental care. 

Other Insurance Considerations for Horse Owners

If you are considering equine insurance for your horse—whether it be a work asset or more of a family friend, there are other things to consider when considering an equine policy. 

  1. The right policy matters

While there are two common policy types that we’ve covered above, the reality is that there are many options for different types and forms of coverage for horse owners. Liability insurance covers injury and property damage to others, horse transit policies cover the transportation risks of horses that are constantly on the move. One should also consider the surrounding policies that will help protect the investment and the horse itself—like property or dwelling damage for structures like barns, and farm coverage for a larger land property.

Because the uses of horses differ, as does each household or business, it’s important to understand that policies can vary widely. Some mortality policies may pay out a mere thousands, while others pay multiples of that in case of loss, but the premium will match the back-end payouts, as well. As with any other insurance consideration, navigating the many options and finding the best selection for you (and your horse!) is key. Make sure you engage an agent you trust along the way to make the process easier, and to nail down the right policies for you and your large animals. 

  1. Policies are non-transferrable

A policy on a horse is similar to a policy on a human—they are for that specific individual, and cannot be transferred to another. While it may be an option to add more animals (read: horses) to your policy, they would need to be listed as separate individuals. What’s more: if you sell or give the horse to a new owner, the policy cannot go with the horse. Instead, that owner would need to take out a new policy for the animal, and you’d need to cancel yours.

  1. Timing is key

If you already carry a policy on your horse—or once you have one in place—understand that most policies require immediate notification if the horse becomes ill or injured. Know what your policy covers—and what it requires of you for claims—before they become an issue later on.

However your horse fits into your family, and whatever the type of coverage you may need, Penny Insurance is here to answer any questions and help you select the best plan possible to cover your equine investment.  Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know. 

Ready for the New Year? Here’s Your Checklist for Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Ready for the New Year? Here’s Your Checklist for Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

A lot of people take their insurance for granted. When they’re driving to work, they don’t question the safety of the road or the safety precautions taken by other drivers; when they get home, they don’t think about whether or not their house will be there if a natural disaster strikes. But this is all because we trust in our insurance policy and feel safe knowing that we are covered.

But, when it comes down to it, do you have comprehensive coverage? Are all your most important things covered? Knowing whether or not you are fully insured against whatever may come your way is important, but it starts with understanding the types of coverage available, and matching them to your own needs. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common types of insurance coverage and how each one can benefit your family’s needs.

Homeowners’ Insurance

A standard Home Insurance policy usually includes coverage for your home, belongings, and liability. This means that if something happens to your house (including fire, theft, etc.), your insurance company will cover the cost to help you rebuild or repair it. It also means that if someone is injured on your property, your insurance company will help cover the costs of injury or property damage.

However, it’s important to realize that there can be significant gaps in homeowners’ coverage—just because something happens to your home doesn’t mean that it’s automatically covered. One example of this might be flooding—which oftentimes is not covered by a standard homeowners’ policy. To find out what your coverage includes—and does not—schedule time with your agent to go over your policy.

Renters’ Insurance

Similar to the coverage in homeowners’ policies, renters insurance covers a renter’s belongings in case of fire or theft or other circumstances, whereas property owners’ coverage does not extend to their tenants. There are two types of renters’ insurance that are common: replacement cost insurance, which covers the cost to replace anything that is lost; and actual cash value coverage, which pays out the assessed value of the lost items.

However, it is important to note that there are also gaps in renters’ insurance—they typically will not cover high-value valuables under the same policy (you’d want to get an additional policy for them), and motor vehicles may also not be covered by the singular policy.

Health Insurance

While health insurance is often covered by a corporate entity or by the government (in cases of an ACA plan), health insurance is still one of those major coverage options that you should maintain—all the time. Providing coverage for doctor’s visits, prescriptions, catastrophic illness or injury and even dental and vision care in some plans, health insurance is definitely a line item you don’t want to be without. However, because it can also be complex in what you’re eligible for and what it might cost you (especially considering subsidies and coverage options) it’s always best to walk through your options alongside an agent who knows the ropes.

Life and Disability Insurance

When it comes to insurance plans, one of the most important (and often overlooked) is life insurance. Often paired (or available to be paired) with disability insurance, life insurance offers a payout in case of your—or a loved one’s—demise, providing a certain level of stability in an otherwise uncertain time. Similarly, disability insurance can provide income and coverage options in the case that you are either permanently disabled, or in case of short-term (up to six months) or long-term (over six months) illness or injury. Because these plans are relatively inexpensive but cover you in case of one of the worst possible outcomes, life and disability insurance should definitely be on your checklist for 2022.

Business Owners’ Insurance

If you own a business and do not carry insurance on it, you may want to reconsider in 2022. A Business Owners Policy (BOP) is straightforward insurance for business owners—combining property coverage for your business assets with general liability insurance. While many business owners may need added coverage based on their industry or specialty, business owners’ insurance policies are a great place to start.

Umbrella Insurance

Although you may not hear about this type of coverage that often, umbrella insurance can be a great type of insurance to keep in case of a major problem. Covering liability, damage and injury, umbrella policies fill in the gaps that the common types of insurance may leave behind, offering an added layer of protection should something go wrong.

As an added protection, umbrella insurance can not only help with excessive bodily injury or property damage, but also offers coverage in case of libel, slander or false arrest.

Specialized Insurance Policies

What do horses, antiques, boats and a private art collection all have in common? They may all be insured under specialty premier policies that cover them separate from your other homeowners or vehicle policies. While all of these are very different, with different policy terms and valuations, keep in mind that if something has value to you, it’s worth insuring it from harm. To find out if your prized possessions need additional coverage, talk to your agent about this premier coverage.

Whatever the types of coverage you need or the questions you may have, Penny Insurance is here to help you along the way and to make sure you’re completely covered for anything that could happen—this year or in the future. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

Holiday Hazards (And How to Prevent Them)

Holiday Hazards (And How to Prevent Them)

While most of us look to the holiday season with excitement and anticipation, the reality is that with an increase in online and on-the-road activity, as well as home projects, visitors and more, there are a number of pitfalls that homeowners and travelers should be aware of.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest holiday hazards, as well as a few prevention tips to help keep them from happening to you.

Fire

When it comes to the holidays, one of the most significant threats to the American home is fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 790 fires a year begin with Christmas decorations—excluding Christmas trees—while the trees themselves account for another 160 a year.

Prevention Tip: When stringing lights or any other electric decorations, make sure you are double-checking that the wires are intact, with no fraying or loose connections. And if you have a live tree, you’ll want to make sure it stays well hydrated; a dry tree can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.

Theft

From porch pirates nabbing daily deliveries to home invasions and break-ins, theft is a big concern during this time of year. And while your local thief may be seeing an uptick in activity, there’s no reason you have to be part of his list.

Prevention tip: At home, keep track of what you’ve ordered to be shipped to your home, and when it is expected to come in, so you can get your packages inside before they are a temptation for drivers-by. When out shopping, take care to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings to avoid becoming a victim of robbery. Finally, at home, keep doors and windows secured—whether you’re traveling or just watching Christmas movies—and double-check any vehicles outside, as well.

Lighting Mishaps

Hanging lights and wreaths may seem pretty straightforward, but according to the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission, there are on average more than 14,000 holiday-related accidents each year during the December holidays—most of those being attributed to slips and falls.

Prevention tip: As with any home improvement task that includes ladders or elevation, take time to ensure you’re practicing standard safety measures for your project. Ladders should be firmly on the ground, with no wobbling, and you should have a spotter to keep you steady, if possible. Keep tools handy close by, and maintain three points of contact between you and the ladder at all times for added security. Finally, make sure you keep paths clear of clutter and mess, so that you avoid tripping over it when moving boxes or decorations around.

Travel

The Christmas holiday marks the busiest travel season by far, which also makes it the most dangerous, as well. Between an increase in drivers, holiday travel or even Christmas party goers on the road a little too late, December road travel can be pretty risky.

Prevention tip: You can’t always prevent accidents, but you can take a few safety measures. Outside of carrying drivers’ insurance (a must!), take a few hours to take your car into the mechanic—pre-travel—to have the oil changed, tires checked and make sure your vehicle is in good shape for the trip. In addition, if you’re headed to a holiday party where alcohol will make a showing, make sure you select a designated driver for the night to keep everyone safe.

Fraud

There’s no worse time of year than to find out you’ve become a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud, but the increase in online shopping, gift orders and credit card scanners makes it a prime time for someone looking to hack into your accounts.

Prevention tip: When using your credit card around town, take a closer look and make sure there isn’t a skimmer over the scanner waiting to grab your information. When using your phone, stay off of public wi-fi, and if possible, use a VPN to protect your online searches, instead.  Finally, when shopping online, make sure you’re only shopping secure sites (you’ll see a locked padlock next to the web address), and avoid phishing scams by not clicking on any random links that may be emailed or texted your way.

Injuries

They may go overlooked, but injuries can put a quick damper on the holiday spirit. From cooking burns or cuts, to injuries sustained from opening packages (yes, it happens a lot!), there’s no shortage of ways to win a trip to the emergency room, if you’re not careful.

Prevention Tip: As with any other situation in the kitchen, practice general safety precautions by paying attention to open flames and blades, and keeping knives sharp and pan lids close by.  Cut away from yourself—when wrapping or unwrapping—and use a tool to get into those plastic-encased presents.

Whatever you have going on this holiday season, don’t end up on the bad size of the hazards list. From homeowners’ policies to car insurance, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through all types of coverage, every step of the way. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

5 Thanksgiving Holiday Hazards and How to Prevent Them

5 Thanksgiving Holiday Hazards and How to Prevent Them

The holidays are now upon us, and many of us are excited to see family and once again gather together for Thanksgiving—especially after the past two years. But however your holiday is planned to go, know that there are a few additional hazards that come along with the day. Fortunately, most are preventable, but before you pull out the turkey and set the table, you’ll want to do a little pre-holiday prep work to ensure you are having the safest Thanksgiving possible. In this article, we dissect the top five Holiday Hazards and how you can avoid them this November.

The Hazard: Food Poisoning

Preventing cross-contamination and ensuring proper food temperatures is always important, but the Thanksgiving holiday brings about a number of challenges in this area, due to the fact that many families will be preparing many more dishes than usual. In addition, kitchen limitations and food transport (thanks to grandma for bringing her homemade casserole from across town!) means that there are more than the usual amount of opportunities for something to go awry.

The Fix: To start with, don’t take short cuts; make sure that you plan ahead to ensure that you have enough time to cook everything on your planned menu.  When cooking, follow food temperature guidelines to guarantee that everything is cooked accordingly, and use clean serving and prep tools to reduce cross-contamination between dishes. And finally, if you’re transporting food, make sure you package it well—a tight seal will not only help it get safely to your destination, but will also minimize the chances of you picking up anything else along the way.

Choking

We know you can’t wait to sit down to Aunt Sue’s pumpkin pie or a plateful of turkey and sweet potatoes, but researchers at the University of Florida’s School of Medicine show that people are ten times as likely to choke during holidays or celebrations than any other time. And when it comes to kids, those many dishes could provide a larger chance of food impaction than more other days, as well.

The Fix: Slow down and take a seat, for one. When you are seated, you are more focused on the task of eating, and far less likely to eat too fast or take too big of bites than if you were up walking around. Also, nix the alcohol intake, which reduces your chewing efficacy and could be a precursor for a larger choking problem.  And for little  kids? Make sure you’re watching their plate, and that all food is sized to no larger than a half inch bite so that little mouths can swallow it with no problem. Still, the best prevention may be a general knowledge of basic first aid, so do a quick brush up—just in case.

Kitchen Injuries

With all the food prep going on at this time of year, kitchen injuries are inevitable, but there are still things you can do to ensure you keep cuts and burns to a minimum.

The Fix: First, make sure you are using the correct tools for your task; that your knives are sized appropriately for what you’re cutting, and that potholders and pot lids are easily accessible. Also, while it may seem counterintuitive, go ahead and sharpen those knives—a dull knife is actually far more dangerous than one that’s ready to do the job it’s intended for.

House Fires

You might be surprised if you look at Thanksgiving fire facts, but the reality is that Thanksgiving is the peak day for home fires, with more than 1,630 occurring in 2018 alone, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Add to that the advent of turkey frying and your favorite pumpkin spiced candle, and you’ve got a lot of opportunity for a fire to take over your holiday.

The Fix: First of all, practice basic safety, and make sure you keep cords out of the way, lighters and matches put up, and a fire extinguisher handy.  Beyond that, take special care in the kitchen—keep watch over what you’re cooking and don’t get distracted by family storytelling or Uncle David’s new sweater. And if you happen to be frying up your bird this year, make sure you’re set up at least 10 feet from the house on firm, flat ground, and make sure that your turkey is completely dry before you drop it in.

Car Accidents

The Thanksgiving holiday marks one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, and also one of the most dangerous, as well. There are a number of reasons for this—from out of town drivers to increases in alcohol intake over dinner—but generally, there are just more people on the road, and more opportunity for something to happen.

The Fix: Although you can’t always prevent a road accident, you can take a few steps to makes sure you’re being as safe as possible. Outside of carrying drivers’ insurance (which is a must!), take a few hours to take your car into the mechanic—pre-travel—to have the oil changed, tires checked and make sure your vehicle is in good shape for the trip. Don’t overpack, and make sure your windows have complete visibility, and reduce as much distraction as possible.

Whatever your holiday plans include, make sure you’re completely covered for anything that could happen with great homeowners and drivers insurance. Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through, every step of the way. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.