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.

Licensing in Multiple States (and why it’s important)

For the millions of U.S. workers who hold some sort of occupational license (43 million as of 2018, to be more precise) understanding licensing in multiple states can mean the difference between being limited to your own area, and having the freedom to accept work beyond your own state lines.

What is Occupational Licensing?

Occupational licensing is a legal requirement for certification or proof of knowledge in a certain field or industry. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, who operate the National Occupational Licensing Database, one in every four jobs in the United States requires some sort of occupational license. Those jobs include, but are in no way limited to, teachers, doctors, nurses, electricians, contractors, architects, therapists, cosmetologists, animal trainers and many more. There are also additional licensing requirements for certain products sold, such as alcohol or tobacco, so it’s important that you know what is required from you before you run into any problems down the road.

The most important thing to realize about occupational licensing, however, is that the credential isn’t merely an indication that someone has a certain degree of knowledge or experience in that field; rather, it’s a permission for that person to work in that field—and a prohibition of someone working in the industry who does not have the appropriate license.

When do I need an occupational license?

Knowing if you need an occupational license for your career path can be tricky, as it is not only determined by industry, but also—in many cases— by state. Therefore, licensing requirements for a private investigator in Florida may be far different than those for one in Oregon—and some states may not require a license in a field at all.
In order to find out if your industry requires an occupational license, a bit of online research may be necessary. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Career One Stop, which allows you to search by career field and state to determine what licensing requirements you may face.

Should I have licensing in multiple states?

Because licensing can vary from state to state, if you plan to pursue a career that crosses state lines, you absolutely should ensure that you are covered in whatever areas you plan to work on. That may mean additional testing or licensing fees, but in the end, if something happens, you’ll be glad you have it in place.

What is reciprocity, and how does that affect my license?

=Reciprocity is the concept that one state’s license is recognized as valid by other states, eliminating the need for multi-state licenses. With the growth of licensing requirements over the past decades, many states have begun to increase their involvement in reciprocal licensing privileges to increase workforce options and ease of use for licensed workers. If you think reciprocity may apply to your license, research your occupation and your state to find out what other states offer this benefit.

Whatever your business needs,  Penny Insurance has the experience to guide you 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.

Insuring Family Heirlooms- From Generation to Generation

Insuring Family Heirlooms- From Generation to Generation

Insuring Family Heirlooms—from Generation to Generation

Some of the most valuable things in life aren’t those that were expensive—they are things that are truly unique. Like the old grandfather clock that sat in your ancestor’s living room to the family ring that has been a part of more weddings than you have, these family heirlooms are the foundation of our own backgrounds and characters, and can be—quite literally—irreplaceable. For that reason alone, you should make sure you are doing what you can to take care of them—including insuring them in case of loss, theft or damage. 

What is considered a family heirloom?

While the word “heirloom” brings up ideas of art passed down for generations, or a piece of priceless jewelry, the reality is that an heirloom is anything of value that is passed down from generation to generation. Practically, this means that everything from furniture, clothing, serving ware, textiles and more could be considered an heirloom. As such, any of these things can be worth insuring, if they are valuable enough for your family.

What kind of insurance will I need to insure an heirloom?

There are a few different types of insurance that may cover an heirloom, depending, of course, on what the heirloom is. Homeowners insurance may cover items within the home, but generally will not recognize the inherent value of a specific thing, so typically you will be looking at more specialized policies. Other options are personal property insurance, which focuses coverage on a per-item basis. At Penny Insurance, we offer Valuable Items Insurance, which takes into consideration the value you place on an heirloom item.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult your insurance agent for guidelines on what can be insured and for how much. Even if they won’t cover it, there is a great chance they will know who will. 

How do you insure a family heirloom?

Insuring the most precious of items isn’t hard—even though there are a few things you’ll need to do to get everything in order. Here is a step-by-step process for getting your family heirlooms insured.  

1. Locate and List

What do you consider a family heirloom? Is it—practically—worth insuring? Do your due diligence and determine what pieces you would like to insure—from artwork to jewelry or even grandma’s vintage recipe book. Once you have compiled all the information you can, you’ll need to find out what it’s generally worth.

2. Get an appraisal

While an appraisal can’t tell you how much you value grandpa’s old watch, it can give you a more complete picture of what you have to insure—the monetary value of the item, how old it is, and maybe even a bit of background information you didn’t have before. All of this information will be vital to have on hand as you meet with your insurance agent. 

3. Work with your agent

Once you have all the information in place, schedule a time to sit down with your agent and go over the details of what you want to insure and for how much. They’ll be able to not only walk you through the process and the price, but often may also give you ideas on how to protect the item, or coverage options you should consider. 

4. Keep them safe

While it’s great to have Aunt Cindy’s stole insured in case something happens to it, keep in mind that there is no compensation equal to that of losing something that held personal value for you, so you’ll want to make sure you keep your family heirloom as safe as possible. Consider how you will store and care for the item until it’s ready to pass down to someone else—and when you do, let them know how they can go ahead and protect and insure it, as well.

No matter what type of heirloom you want to insure, Penny Insurance is ready to help. 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. 

Top 7 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent

Top 7 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent

Top 7 Questions to Ask your Insurance Agent

Insurance policies can range from the simple to the complex, but the more “things” you have covered the more facets there are to any policy. As your portfolio grows, you are sure to have questions about how policies interact, how much they cost, and what they cover. The best way to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of your insurance coverage—from car, to home, life, and more—is to ask the questions vital to understanding each policy.

What questions should I ask my insurance agent?

There are a number of things you need to know when purchasing or re-evaluative your insurance policies, and although many will be specific to your own policies and needs, there are some standard things you should know, regardless of who your broker or insurer is, and what type of insurance you are considering. Consider these questions the next time you are scheduled to meet with your insurance broker: 

1. What policies do you recommend?

It’s always good to rely on the expertise of an insurance broker, but make sure you know what policies they recommend for you—and why. Keep in mind that even with all the information they may have about you, there might be something they don’t know, so having a frank conversation about the policies themselves and what they cover is always a great first step.

2. What is the coverage?

As part of the policy discussion, you should know all aspects of what the policy covers, and more importantly, what it doesn’t. Make sure you know what persons or assets are covered in the policy, to what limit, as well as any gaps or limitations that exist. 

3. What will the deductible be on this policy?

The other commonly-asked question is regarding the deductible—essentially, how much you will have to pay out of pocket should you need to file a claim. This is a number that you can adjust when initially purchasing the insurance policy, that may help make your premium more affordable; just make sure that you don’t sacrifice a low monthly payment for a deductible that is too high to cover, in case something happens.

4. Am I eligible for any discounts?

Oftentimes, an insurance company will offer discounts to their customers. These could show up as military discounts, renewal discounts, or even as multi-line reductions, which occur as you add multiple items or persons to your policy. To be sure you’ve covered all your bases, ask your insurance agent what discounts they offer in general, to see if you qualify for any of them.

5. Do I need any additional policies? 

In the case that your coverage ends a bit shorter than you’d like, you may want to consider additional policies that cover them. Common policies you may include are gap insurance, which typically covers the difference between a car’s insured value and what you may still owe on it, or flood insurance, which offers additional protection on a residence that may sit in an area where flooding could be a concern.  

6. What is the claims process like?

Because insurance is a “just in case” purchase, it’s hopeful to think that you may never need to file a claim, however, it would be short-sighted, as well. Walk through the process with your insurance agent—who would you contact, what documentation would you need, how long the process takes—to ensure that if trouble hits, you’re ready with a plan of action. 

7. What is the premium?

One of the biggest questions most people have is this one: what will this cost? The premium—the recurring amount you pay (usually monthly, every six months, or once a year)—is the main cost you’ll have in keeping insurance, so it’s important to make sure it fits within your budget. You’ll also want to know the increase that may occur at renewal, if any. Remember that the premium price is affected by other factors such as coverage limits, exclusions and deductibles, so there are likely ways you can move things around to ensure your budget and your insurance coverage get along.

Whatever insurance policy you end up with, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through it all. 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.