Blog Posts For Personal Insurance

Defensive Driving: 3 Years of Savings

Defensive Driving Courses are not just mandatory courses because you received a ticket and need to get the points on your license lowered. It is actually a course that teaches you safety tips and techniques to help you avoid having an accident.

Even if you have never had an accident this course is great because it actually will lower your insurance rate by approximately 10% for 3 years!

Traditionally classes were held on Saturdays and would take 6 hours but in the last few years there has become an alternative to having to spend your entire Saturday in a classroom. You now can take the course online.

With many of the online providers offering the option to stop and start the course (usually classes must be done in hour intervals and completed within 7-10 days) you can fit it in whenever it works for you.

The classroom setting is still available if you would prefer to do it that way.

Why leave money on the table when you can put it in your pocket! Please contact us if you would like more information.



Stay Safe During Your Holiday Party

It is often stressful to host family and friends for busy holiday gatherings. Planning and preparing the meals, decorations and comfort of your guests can take its toll, but carelessness can also cause unnecessary accidents and injuries. It’s important to take your time in preparing your home and delicious seasonal traditions. Avoid costly injuries, illnesses and damages by following proper safety guidelines. It is easy to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, which is why emergency rooms can fill up during December and early January.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clostridium perfringens is the second-most common bacterial cause of food poisoning. Outbreaks occur most often around the holidays and meat and poultry accounted for 92 percent of outbreaks with an identified single food source. It is recommended to always use a food thermometer to guarantee that foods are cooked to a safe-to-eat temperature.

Home fires also occur at a higher frequency during the winter months and especially around the holidays when large meals are being prepared or a candle is knocked over during a dinner party. It’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in the case of a turkey emergency. Teach all members of the household how to use it and ensure it is not expired. Also be sure that all smoke alarms in the home are in working condition with fresh batteries.

Another way to avoid a home fire is to never leave food on the stove or in the oven unattended. Always keep children away from the stove and any hot food or liquids, which can spill and cause injury. The kiddos should be assigned to other tasks if they insist on helping, such as taking guests’ coats or removing bags from entrances, which can cause people to trip and fall.

You should also conduct a quick review of your home insurance policy to find out what kind of property and liability coverage you have before hosting that holiday party. Knowledgeable, independent agents at United Insurance Agency can help identify any gaps in your current coverage, suggest ways in which you can save on your premium, and even assist you in finding a better policy. Contact us to find out more about a home insurance policy that can protect your home during this holiday season and beyond.

Protect Your Financial Security With Life and Health Insurance

Life insurance and health insurance are two of the most basic ways for individuals and families to protect their long-term financial security. Without these two very powerful tools, unexpected events can literally destroy your financial future.

Why Life Insurance?

Unfortunately, your financial obligations will likely be placed upon your surviving family members after you die. Debts and burial expenses as well as the basic costs of daily living will become the responsibility of your spouse and other dependents. Life insurance is essential to protect your family should the worst happen.

Life insurance is one of the most basic parts of a comprehensive financial plan for any person. In general, life insurance pays a lump sum death benefit to your beneficiaries after you die. This money can be used to pay your debts, final expenses and estate taxes, and it can also be a source of income for them.

You can choose from term life insurance or permanent life insurance depending on your needs and your goals for the policy. Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified period of time, such as 20 years, and it allows you to provide for some final expenses and some income replacement for your family. Permanent life insurance offers a savings or investment account in addition to the death benefit.

If you do not have life insurance, you should seriously consider it. If you die unexpectedly and you don’t have life insurance, your family could be left paying your debts and struggling just to get by.

Why Health Insurance?

Without health insurance, you can run up huge medical bills. Or, you might fail to receive the care you need and be faced with a worsening condition. Because everyone will get sick or will be injured at some point in their lifetime, health insurance is essential to protecting you and your family from the many costs related to routine and acute health care. It allows you to seek care when you need it and pay for preventive care that may keep you from getting even sicker down the road.

With so many options for health and life insurance, making the right choice can be confusing. You need to work with a knowledgeable agent who can help guide you toward the coverage that best suits your needs and the needs of your family.

Our expert agents can help you find health and life insurance policies that fit your needs and budget. Even if you get this type of coverage from you employer, we can counsel you on choosing the right plans for your family, and can help you find any supplemental coverage if necessary. Do you have questions about health insurance, life insurance or any other type of insurance? We can help.

Fall Safe Driving Tips

Fall can offer a variety of challenges for drivers, from wet leaves, fog and sun glare to frost and even ice. Autumn also brings changes in traffic and pedestrian patterns with kids back to school and fewer hours of daylight. And don’t forget about the increased risk of colliding with deer in the fall!

Time to brush up on your defensive driving techniques, and make sure you are on the lookout for all the hazards the changing season brings. Here are a few tips for safe driving this fall:

  • Wet leaves can be very slippery and can obscure road markings and traffic lines. Slow down and use extra caution if the road is covered with leaves.
  • Use low beam headlights when driving in fog.
  • Sun glare can make driving difficult in the morning and evening. Keep sunglasses in your vehicle and use your vehicle’s sun visor to minimize the blinding effects of the sun. Also, keep your windshield clean to minimize sun glare.
  • Pay particular attention to frost and ice on the roads in the morning, after the overnight temperature has dropped. Be extra careful for frost and ice on bridges, overpasses, and shady areas.
  • Increase your following distance when wet leaves, fog, frost or ice are present.
  • Make sure your headlights and taillights are working properly before the shorter days of fall set in.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are clean and working properly, and fill up your wiper fluid tank.
  • Check your tires to be sure they have the appropriate tread depth for wet and slippery roadways.
  • Watch for children playing or burrowing in piles of leaves on the roadside. Never drive through a leaf pile!
  • Wipe fallen leaves off of your windshield before heading out on the road. They can get stuck to the windshield and seriously inhibit your ability to see.
  • Be mindful of children waiting at bus stops in the morning and in the afternoon hours.

Deer activity also increases during the autumn months. Drivers need to be especially careful in the morning and at dusk to avoid colliding with deer as they dart across the road. Here are some other tips for avoiding deer-car collisions:

  • Pay attention to deer crossing signs; slow down and be alert in marked deer crossing areas.
  • If you see one deer, there are likely others nearby. Deer tend to travel in packs.
  • Use your high beam lights at night if you are driving in a rural area with no oncoming traffic.
  • If you see a deer in the roadway, honk your horn to frighten it away.
  • Never swerve to avoid hitting a deer; you could veer into oncoming traffic and cause an even worse situation.
  • If you hit a deer, do not go near the injured animal. It could be alive, frightened and dangerous.
  • If you are involved in a deer-car collision, call 9-1-1 for help.

Remember that deer-car collisions are covered under the comprehensive portion of your car insurance policy. You might also have coverage for towing if your vehicle must be towed away from the accident site. If you do not have comprehensive coverage or roadside assistance coverage, you will be responsible for the cost of repairing the damages and for the cost of the tow truck.

If you swerve to avoid a deer and hit something else, such as a mailbox, a ditch or another car, you will be covered by the collision portion of your auto insurance. Remember, both your comprehensive and collision coverage are subject to a deductible.

Hitting a deer or any other kind of traffic incident can be very stressful. We are here to help! If you hit a deer or something else this fall, be sure to call us right away. We can help you through the claims process and make sure that everything is handled in a timely and satisfactory manner.

What types of precautions do you take while driving in the fall? Have you ever had a weather-related car accident? Tell us your story.

Insurance for Your Road Toys

As the popularity of motorcycles and RV ownership continues to rise, so too does the number of insurance claims filed on these recreational vehicles. As of the most recent report by the Department of Transportation, there were 8,410,255 motorcycles registered in the United States by February of 2014, and that number is projected to grow as more and more motorists choose to commute with bikes that have less demand on gasoline.

While RV owners don’t necessarily choose their recreational vehicle because of its gas mileage, they do opt for these traveling hotels for the long term savings on vacation expenses. U.S. ownership of RVs has reached record levels, according to a 2011 University of Michigan study commissioned by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). According to the study, approximately 8.9 million households own an RV.

Motorcycle and RV ownership is increasing at around the same pace and there are nearly as many motorcycle riders as there are RV owners. In fact, many households that own a motorhome or camper also have a motorcycle rider in the family. The vast majority of states require motorcycle riders to obtain some level of insurance and if your RV is driven rather than towed, you are most likely required to insure that as well.

You have worked hard to afford your road toys and the time you spend with them. Don’t let a single accident set your vacation plans back. Depending on your driving history, how many miles you clock while riding or driving your recreation vehicle, and where the road takes you, these types of insurance policies don’t have to dip into those vacation funds.

A great motorcycle or RV insurance policy should be able to protect you from paying for damages to your bike or RV, avoid having to pay to repair another person’s vehicle or medical treatment and even assist you when your ride breaks down.

Whether you need full coverage, liability only, seasonal or year-round coverage on your motorcycle, RV, or both, our agents can help. We can suggest coverage option best suited for you and your vehicle and assist you in finding a number of quotes from a variety of insurance providers. Contact us to assist you in finding the perfect insurance policy at the most affordable rates.

Discover the Best Ways to Avoid Car Theft

More than 1 million cars are stolen each year in the United States and the vast majority of them are never recovered. A vehicle is stolen once every 30 seconds, which is about the time it takes some thieves to gain access to your car or truck. Don’t make it easy for them. Take these simple precautions to avoid becoming their next victim.

First, always park in an area with ample lighting. Park your vehicle under the public garage lights or street lamps. Most common criminals prefer to operate under the cover of darkness. Also, while parking near the garage exit gives you a slight advantage when its closing time, it also gives thieves a quick escape. Most car thieves target vehicles close to the exits. Park your car or truck toward the middle of the row. If possible, chose a garage that has security personnel on staff to monitor the parking lots.

While at home, always keep your doors locked and never leave your keys in the vehicle. Many times, cars are stolen when their owners feel safe enough to leave it vehicle accessible and forget their keys in the center council. Even if your home has a garage, lock the car doors and take your keys. Thieves can gain entry to your garage using universal remotes and other methods.

Despite their popularity, the advent of those blaring, loud car alarms has not seemed to deter many would-be car thieves. They have become the boy who cried wolf, as on any given street corner or parking garage, those alarms are eternally ringing often when no theft is taking place. Most of the time, the alarms are triggered by the owners themselves. Few people stop to think twice about a honking car alarm these days. If you opt for an anti-theft device, wheel locks and other visible deterrents are much more affective.

You can take all of these steps and still become victim to a savvy car thief. That’s when the importance of carrying the right kind of car insurance comes into play. Our agents can assist you in locating several quotes from a variety of insurance providers. Their experience enables you to purchase a comprehensive car insurance policy at the most affordable rate.

How Does Healthcare Reform Affect My Insurance?

Despite the increasing amount of attention state and national media have given to the healthcare reform debate, many consumers are still left frustrated and confused. As new reforms are implemented, and not very old ones are repealed, it’s tough to stay up-to-date with the seemingly breakneck speed of change. Don’t lose hope: Help is available.

The major changes the Affordable Care Act has ushered in are recognized by most. Starting in 2014, the vast majority of residents are now required to carry some form of health insurance under the ACA. Insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and parents are able to insure their adult children until they reach the age of 26. Some of the reforms are more nuanced, however, and are less highlighted in news reports.

All ACA-approved health insurance plans must now cover certain preventative care for their policy holders. These services include ambulatory patient, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, as well as pediatric services.

The question on many consumers’ minds is: “What will these changes mean for the premiums I pay?” Finding affordable health insurance coverage is no easier now than it was before the ACA for many people. Even those whose benefits are provided by their employer, maybe paying much higher premiums than they were even a few years ago. Although several states have launched online health insurance exchanges or “marketplaces,” many folks have struggled with enrollment and have faced flawed systems prone to bugs and errors.

You don’t have to navigate these unknown waters alone. We are here to help. Our experienced agents can assist you by locating several health insurance policies from a variety of providers so you can compare coverage and rates. We have thoroughly reviewed all ACA changes so you don’t have to become a medical expert just to find an insurance policy. Contact us to find the perfect health insurance policy with the best coverage at the most affordable rates.

Snowmelt and Ice Dams Can Cause Serious Damage to Your Home. Do You Have Coverage?

After the long winter we all welcome the warmth of spring. But with that warmth comes some dangers for your home as the snow melts and the resulting rush of water needs somewhere to go.

Melting snow can cause damage to your home in several ways, from ice dams to basement flooding. Homeowners insurance covers some damage from melting snow, but it depends on how the damage was caused and where the water came from. Most standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for winter-related storm damage that occurs as a result of wind, snow, ice, freezing rain and severe temperatures. Coverage for ice dams depends on the situation and your policy. Some policies will cover damage caused by ice dams while others will specifically exclude it. Some will only cover structural damage, while others may cover damage to your possessions that were inside your home.

If snow on the ground melts and floods your basement, you will likely not have coverage under your homeowners insurance policy. “Flooding” is treated differently than “water damage” for insurance purposes. Any water that enters your home due to flooding will not be covered by your homeowners insurance. You need flood insurance to cover water damage caused by floods.

What are Ice Dams?

Ice dams form on many roofs after a heavy snow, or many smaller snowfalls, and subsequent periods of melting. As heat from inside the home warms the roof and the snow melts, the water will flow toward the eaves, which will be colder than the other parts of the roof. Here the water may re-freeze and prevent the backed-up water from draining off of the roof. With nowhere to go, the water begins to seep under the shingles and into the interior of the home, causing damage.

Damage from ice dams can include:

  • Raised shingles
  • Rotted roof deck
  • Gutter damage
  • Water damage to insulation or drywall
  • Mold
  • Damage to your home’s contents
  • Icicles that can fall and injure someone

If ice dams have formed on your roof, you might see water stains or signs of moisture in the attic or around the tops of the exterior walls on the top floor. Icicles hanging off of your roof can be a sign of ice dams, as well. Look carefully at where icicles are located; if they are confined to the gutters and there seems to be no water trapped behind them, then you likely don’t have ice dams. However, it is always best to remove the icicles as they can fall and seriously injure someone.

Remove ice dams by knocking the ice and snow off with a roof rake or cutting a channel through the ice to allow the water to drain. You should also clear the areas around downspouts to make it easier for gutters to drain when the snow melts. If ice dams and damage are significant, you may need to call a professional to help you remove the ice dams and fix the damage.

Some other ways to prevent ice dams and damage from snowmelt include:

  • Check your roof before winter and repair problem areas
  • Clean gutters before winter
  • Be sure your landscape is properly graded to drain water away from your house
  • Shovel snow away from your home’s foundation every time it snows
  • Clear out ice jams in your gutters immediately
  • Keep an eye out for signs of water entering the home, including a damp smell, wet carpeting, wall stains or peeling, wall bowing, or a dripping sound near the exterior walls
  • Install electric de-icing cables on your roof if it is susceptible to ice dams

Are you concerned about ice dams and damage from snowmelt? Do you know what your homeowners insurance covers? Do you want to learn more about flood insurance?


Tips for Prepping Your Home Before Your Spring Vacation

When you embark on a spring vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your home is safe while you are away. Not only do you need to prevent your home from being targeted by thieves, but you also have to take precautions against broken pipes, appliance leaks, severe weather and a variety of other potential problems. I personally returned home from vacation to find a freezer door left open a crack, hundreds of dollars worth of melted, spoiled food, a ruined area rug and a wet and warped hardwood floor.

First tip: make sure your refrigerator and freezer doors are closed tight! And while you are taking that precaution, clean out your refrigerator to make sure you’ve discarded anything that can spoil while you are away.

Some other simple tips to avoid break-ins and mishaps include:

  • Make it appear that someone is at home. Cancel mail and newspapers, set timers on lights and televisions, and leave window blinds in their normal position. Make arrangements for lawn or snow removal service if you are going to be away for an extended period of time.
  • Don’t broadcast your vacation plans. While we all love to share our experiences on social media, wait until you get back to share your photos and announce that you were away from home.
  • Lock up. Make sure all windows and doors are secure, and don’t forget to make sure garages and sheds are locked up tight, as well. Engage your security system if you have one.
  • Prepare your home for severe weather. Secure outdoor furniture, close and lock all shutters if you have them, and unplug appliances that could be damaged by a power surge. If it is still cold where you live, you need to prevent your pipes from freezing while you are away. Exposed pipes must be well insulated. If you will be gone for a long time, consider shutting off the main water supply and draining the water system to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. Keep your thermostat set at no lower than 55 degrees.

You might also want to consider taking care of the following household tasks to make things easier when you return:

  • Wash and put away laundry. You’ll have plenty of laundry from your trip to take care of when you get back. You might as well get your other laundry done before you go.
  • Water your plants and have someone trustworthy water them while you are away.
  • Spray for bugs, especially in spring and summer.
  • Reset the thermostat. Be mindful if the weather forecast for your area while you will be gone and set the thermostat accordingly.
  • Change the sheets. There is nothing better than coming home to your own clean bed after a trip.
  • Tidy the house. Unpacking and getting settled when you return is enough work for anyone. Make it easier on yourself by coming home to a clean house.

Now you’re ready to relax!

Valuable Tips When It Comes To Snowmobile Insurance In New York

While many people rue the onset of winter, to others this is one of the more magical times of the year. For winter sports enthusiasts that first covering of snow is a godsend, as it is time to break out the gear and rev up those winter recreational vehicles. In many states around the country it’s possible to get separate snowmobile insurance to make sure that you have all the risks covered. You don’t necessarily have to bundle this with other automobile insurance either, which can be an attractive proposition to some.

What type of coverage may be available to you as you prepare for the season ahead?

Firstly, you will want to get the best bodily injury and property damage liability coverage that you can get. The state of New York requires minimum liability coverage to ride on public lands or roads. Secondly, get comprehensive and collision coverage in order to protect the value of the vehicle. What about some level of roadside assistance coverage? This may be even more valuable when associated with this type of activity, as by definition it tends to take place in remote areas.

Think about snowmobile insurance coverage to pay medical bills in the case of unfortunate injury. Consider whether you need coverage to protect yourself against other individuals whose vehicles may be uninsured or underinsured. Lastly, don’t forget about the accessories. You may have additional electronic equipment or other devices fitted apart from what the manufacturer may have originally installed. You may well have a trailer in order to transport the vehicle behind your car or truck to some of those juiciest locations.

All your safety gear can add up as well. Get the best helmet you can afford, as well as layers of protective clothing. When you add all of this together see whether your standard coverage is adequate. Otherwise, it is possible to get additional coverage. Talk with your agent right now before you head out for your first winter session, to see that you have got all your bases covered.

While everything is looking new and ready to go get out your digital camera phone and start taking photographs. This way you will be able to identify any items that should be lost or stolen. Add these photos to digital copies of your receipts, in the event of a claim.

Were you surprised at the value of all your equipment and accessories when you did an inventory?