Thanksgiving Fire Safety

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As reported by the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak time of the year for fires at home. Here are some tips on fire safety in the kitchen to help you make sure the only thing you roast this holiday is the turkey:

  1. Keep an eye on everything you have cooking, especially when using a stove. If you need to leave the kitchen for an extended period of time, turn off the stove. Anything that was cooking before will still continue to cook.
  2. Use timers if you are using the oven or boiling/simmering something on the stove.
  3. Keep kids away from the kitchen while it’s in use.
  4. Move anything flammable away from the stove. Papers, plastic bags, wooden utensils, towels, oven mitts, etc. should all be placed in a safe area away from the stove.
  5. Clean up all spills as they happen to prevent accidents.
  6. Be careful about grease and grease fires. Dispose of all grease properly. If any grease catches on fire, put it out with baking soda. Water will not help put out the fire.
  7. Check your smoke detector and make sure it is in proper working order. Replace the batteries if needed.
  8. Have a fire extinguisher readily available in case if anything happens.

Halloween: The Good, the Bad, and the Scary

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Halloween: Brooks & Stafford

It’s almost that time of the year that celebrates everything spooky and creepy. Halloween is a time for all things scary. Just be sure to take extra care when bumping around in the night. Who knows what dangers could be out there? Here’s some advice to take into consideration this Halloween.

Watch for the Tricks and Go for the Treats

When taking family out around the neighborhood, be careful of where you walk. Not everything can easily be seen at this time of the year.  Piles of leaves lining the sides of roads could also be masking a variety of dangers, such as trenches or holes. Be sure to avoid traffic if you live in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. Make sure your children won’t be falling over themselves in their costumes. Nothing quite ruins Halloween like a trip to a doctor.

Be Wary of the Tricks While Handing Out the Treats

Some houses love to show off their true Halloween spirits this time of the year by letting people inside for a haunted house of sorts. Be sure that these entrants are only staying in the allowed part of the house. You may be handing out candy, but you don’t want to unintentionally hand out your valuables as well. Be careful of where you place your decorations as well. Make sure that nothing is in the path of any visitors to your house. Furthermore, make sure you have nothing flammable nearby any open flames, such as jack-o-lanterns and candles.

For the Adults

Halloween: Brooks & Stafford

Halloween is also a time to dress up and party with your friends. If you’re hosting a Halloween party this year, the previous rules still apply. Watch where you put your decorations and make sure everyone stays where they’re supposed to be. In addition to that, make sure that anyone drinking has some means of transportation, whether it’s a designated driver, a taxi, a rideshare service, etc. The less accidents out on the road during Halloween weekend, the better.

These pieces of advice will ensure that you have an enjoyable Halloween. One last piece of advice to impart: Have fun! Halloween is a time to scare the pants off of everyone and laugh about it. Just don’t end up scaring yourself into the hospital. If you’re worried about that happening, call up Brooks & Stafford and get a quote today!

Home Buying Process Simplified for Millennials

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As millennials get older, understanding the home buying process is essential.

Picture of home: home buying process

During your 20’s, you are in your prime. You are continuing to find ways to start new chapters in your life. You graduate college, then you start your first job, next you rent your own place, and finally you are completely financially independent.

Once, you start to progress in life and start seeing increases in your bank account. You realize that most of that money is going to rent. You ask yourself, “Should I buy a home?”

This is the first step in the home buying process.

1. Decide If You are Ready to Be a Homeowner

The early phases of buying a home are exciting as you have limited responsibilities. You have no property to sell because you are simply renting. As the buyer, you have all the power and flexibility to choose what you want.

However, along with this freedom of choosing your dream home, considering if you are ready to make this commitment mentally, physically, financially is crucial. Ask these 5 Questions to Determine if You are Ready to be a Home Buyer.

Buying a home is a huge commitment mentally. You must be ready to live there for an extended period of time. Depending on the loan and monthly payment, it could take you over 15 years to pay off your house.

Answer these questions to determine if you are ready for the commitment.

This means not being able to hop around at will and relocate freely. If you do plan to commit mentally, do you plan to have a family? Will you be happy staying at your current job? All of these questions need to be asked when considering buying a home.

Physically, owning a home can be tough. Homeownership comes along with a lot of responsibility as you must take care of your lawn, maintain the structure (roof, exterior, interior, etc.), and be ready to fix it if breaks.

If your hot water take breaks or your furnaces blows out, be ready to take cold showers and live without heat. This is your home so this means this is your responsibility to take care of it. In these situations, you are most likely going to hire a contractor. But what if your windows need to be replaced? There’s a leak in your ceiling or your carpet needs repair?

These smaller tasks can be do-it-yourself jobs. Not only would it save you money, but it will take up your time and physical energy to figure it out. Hopefully you can keep these inconveniences to a minimum, but if you are faced with them keep this complete DIY Guide handy.

Now you have understood the commitment it takes to own a home mentally and physically, what about financially? This leads me to the next part of the home buying process:

2. Understand Your Finances

You should know down to the tee how much your monthly expenses are currently before you go any further in the home buying process. This is extremely important as your planning to make a huge purchase that could be an unpleasant financial burden if not planned out accordingly.

Think about your standard of living right now. How much money do you make right now per month? What type of house could you afford?

These questions must have definitive answers as your realtor and bank will provide variants. It is not uncommon for a bank to quote you for a mortgage that is 2x more than you can afford.

Understand the 30/30 Rule to Understand the Home Buying Process

The rule of thumb to use when deciding what type of house you can afford in the home buying process is using the 30/30 principle. This law states that you must be able to put down 20% of the total price and have 10% buffer left in the bank to cover any unexpected expenses.

For example, if you are looking to buy a $300,000 home you must be able to put down $60,000 and have $30,000 saved up in your bank account.

The theory driving this principle is that: The best time to purchase property is when you can afford it.

Follow the 30/30 rule and you should be prepared for the purchase, but if you are yet to have your money right make sure you take the steps necessary to save for your down payment.

In addition to saving up for your down payment, you need to make sure your credit score is in check when applying for loans. Aim for anything above 700 to ensure a reasonable interest rate on your mortgage.

Keep in mind any expenses that you are currently obligated to (those dreaded student loans) and combine them with all the unexpected expenses that come with owning a home.

To name a few, home inspections, property tax, insurance, and maintenance can add up. This is only the beginning so make sure you check out 11 Hidden Costs of Owning a Home.

Now that you understand where you are financially and where you need to be at, you need to find the right home as the next step in the home buying process:

3. Prospecting the Right Homes

Now, there are many factors when picking out the perfect home for you or yourself and spouse. This includes price, current condition of the home, location, and the market.

Knowing all the costs in addition to the retail price for a home, the costs can be expensive. In order to make this huge commitment physically, mentally, and financially you must understand your needs.

Do you want to live in the peaceful countryside? Would you prefer being in an upscale urban area or would you prefer a nice suburban area to start a family?

What lifestyle do you want to live?

The answers to these questions depend on the lifestyle you want to live. Do you want to start a family? Do you want to be close to the city for the social aspect? Would you rather live in the country side to pursue your outdoor hobbies?

Many of these questions have to deal with location. Different locations are associated with different tax amounts. Derek Carr the QB for the Las Vegas Raiders saved $8.7 million for the upcoming year in taxes alone for moving from Oakland to Las Vegas.

Not to mention location is extremely important when it comes to the school systems available to you and your kids if that is the route you plan to take.

After you figured out your lifestyle and location, you can start narrowing your search by looking at specific houses in the neighborhood.

What type of home do you want?

Some key things to remember when looking for specific houses in a neighborhood are: do you want to save money through a “fixer upper”, are you financially stable for the purchase of a brand new home, or would you prefer building it from scratch?

The most expensive option would be building it from scratch, but it would be well worth it. You are literally customizing every square inch of your dream home. This could be a viable option if your other prospective homes need repairs and if you are financially capable.

Even though a custom built home would be amazing, it’s expensive. However, there are really nice houses already made at reasonable prices.

In terms of looking at already built houses, understand all of the home buying deal breakers. This includes the roof, plumbing, flood zone, and more.

What could a faulty roof cost you?

A faulty roof could cost you over $10,000 so make sure you are buying a house with a roof that’s intact.

In terms of flood zones, use this tool provided by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to find out what type of flood zone your house would be in. Depending on your flood zone, will determine the price of insurance you would have to purchase.

Any information needed to be learned can be found and purchased from the The National Flood Program.

Next, make sure you have a home inspector look at the house to examine the plumbing and electrical system of the house which could be very costly to replace.

After you know what your deal breakers are, you can confidently search for the right home. Do not get caught up on imperfections like paint and tile as you can make these repairs relatively inexpensively.

Make the Offer

Once you have made the commitment of buying a home, got pre-approved for your mortgage, saved up for the down payment, chose the house perfect for you, you are know ready to make an offer.

Please note you can always contact a trusted realtor during any step in the home buying process. This person will make sure all the necessary paperwork gets filed correctly along with any necessary inspections of the home to ensure quality.

Also, understand that buying a new home is a huge deal. There is a lot of paperwork. Be prepared to create a contract that clearly states the transaction taking place.

Most importantly, after that dream house is decided. You need adequate insurance coverage to protect it. The best way to find the best price is through an independent insurance agency who could quote your through a variety of insurance companies. Get a quote today!

Millennials Focus on College not Insurance

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Millennials

As the largest and most educated generation, you would expect that millennials would take insurance coverage seriously. Sadly, studies reveal that one in four adults between 18 years to 29 years do not have health insurance. Furthermore, millennials are less likely to take up other forms of insurance like auto, life, home, and renters. As the most educated generation, millennials need to learn the importance of having insurance.

According to research and interviews surveyed among millennials, it was found that millennials view insurance as an unnecessary expense. To them, they don’t need it and won’t need it any time soon. To the older generation, they appear as a generation that is subservient of the punches and curve balls that life throws at people each day.

While insurance does not inspire excitement, its impact on one’s life is virtually unrivaled. At some point in life, an individual will experience misfortunes such as theft, flooded home, fire, car accident, or others. Misfortunes are not planned and since they occur without any prior confirmation, it is wise to protect yourself.

Insurance provides peace of mind especially when faced with difficult situations. It can help you to settle financial problems brought about by misfortunes. Furthermore, getting insurance does not mean that you are paranoid, it means you are smart.

Here is an insurance checklist all millennials graduating college should keep in mind.

1. Research different types of insurance products

As a millennial, the first thing you need to do is learn about the different types of insurance products available in the market. There are those insurance products that have been around for a long time for example car, home, renters, life, and health insurance.

Today, rider share services like Uber and Lyft have offered millennials job opportunities but what many don’t know is that your personal car insurance does not cover commercial use and there is an insurance gap. It is important to learn more about comprehensive car insurance, smartphone protection plan, travel insurance and others. What are their pros and cons? What do they cover? Should millennials buy life insurance? This will help you to stay informed.

While researching, it is important to learn the terms and conditions, the premium rates charged for different levels of insurance products, and the best insurance companies.

2. Itemize your expenses

It is wise to take time and learn what you want and what you need. Today, millennials are faced with tough decisions when it comes to spending. Many will opt to order in rather than shop at a grocery store and prepare meals at home. Others will opt to own a car yet they cannot afford to maintain it properly. In order to plan your life, you need to itemize your expenses.

You can divide your expenses in three categories: ongoing, immediate and future. Examples of immediate expenses include mortgage, uncovered medical expenses, funeral costs, car loans, credit card debt, taxes and estate settlement costs.

Examples of ongoing expenses include food, rent, utilities, transportation, health care and clothing. Future expenses include retirement and insurance. If your ongoing and immediate expenses are more than your income, then it’s time to spend wisely. Take a bus or subway as the travel insurance costs are less, cook more instead of eating out and pay off your credit card debt to improve your credit score.

3. Talk with an experienced insurance professional

While your parents and older siblings have interacted with insurance brokers and have covered themselves with 2 or more insurance products, they don’t count. Millennials need to learn how to identify a good insurance company within your area. Walk in and make an appointment to speak with an experienced professional.

It is important to have a list of questions prepared early to allow for a constructive interview. Furthermore, it allows you to learn more about the products they have to offer. Experienced insurance agents will always provide you with tons of useful information even helping you create a customized insurance plan which covers important aspects of your life. This will not only help to ensure you are protected but it will save you money.

4. Find where to buy insurance

Today, there are several options of buying insurance not only health insurance but car, travel, smartphone protection plan, renters, home, and life insurance among others. If you are looking for health insurance providers, you can always start with the government health exchange or state exchange.

Millennials can also consult private companies. Doing so helps you to sample the different plans on offer and select one that fits your lifestyle. What you need to know is that when it comes to insurance, finding the best deals on premium should not be your goal but the best plan that fits you. Look at the options and support on offer too.

5. Read and re-read the fine print

Now that you have learned all about the different types of insurance products, their options and the market places where you can purchase them, it’s time to pick a plan. Once you have selected a plan that fits your lifestyle, you will be given forms to fill.

While millennials are said to be the largest educated generation, when it comes to contracts, many do not take time to read the fine print carefully. Scanning the documents quickly will result in you missing a key detail(s). This one detail can result in you not being compensated or result in you not being covered for something.

So, to avoid such mishaps, millennials should take their time to read and re-read the fine print. If you don’t understand what some phrases mean, consult an expert within or outside the insurance company. Having a better understanding of what you are getting into will save you a lot of money now and in the future.

Congratulations!

You have gone through the insurance checklist every millennial graduating college needs to know finally picking up a plan that fits their lifestyle. At this point, you need to know that you have added a new expense in your life – insurance premium. You need to keep up with the payments just like you do with your college loan, credit card payments, rent and other utilities. Not making the payments early will result in you not being covered and you may end up being penalized too.

Just a recap of the insurance checklist for millennials – start by learning more about different insurance products, itemize your expenses, consult an experienced insurance professional, learn where to buy insurance, select the right plan that fits your lifestyle and re-read the fine print before signing on the dotted line. It’s time to let go off the bullet proof attitude because misfortunes can occur at any time. Smart thinking will protect you.

Life Insurance and its Purpose for Millennials

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Life Insurance for Millennials- Brooks and Stafford

(5 minute read)

Millennials often ask the question, “What is life insurance and do I need it?”

As a millennial myself, I can confidently say that life insurance can be beneficial for young adults.

Firstly, it is important to understand what life insurance is and how it can benefit you.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a contract with an insurer (insurance company) that pays out a lump sum of money (death benefit) to beneficiaries after the person insured passes away.

For example, a man has a wife and two kids. His wife is a stay at home mom that depends on her husband financially. The kids are still too young to work and depend on him financially as well. The husband passes away (with life insurance).

Not only have they lost a loved one, but they also have to pay the costs associated with the funeral and find a way to make an income to make up for his loss.

Since there was a life insurance policy in place, the funeral expenses are covered and the family continues to receive the same income as they would as if the father/husband were still alive.

This example proves that:

  1. Life insurance is a safety net.
  2. A person can still provide for their loved ones after he or she passes away if they prepare properly.

In the example above, the dependents are the kids and wife. The money they receive after the man’s death is the death benefit.

What are the different types of life insurance?

There are two types of life insurance policies: a term life insurance policy and a permanent life insurance policy.

A term policy is purchased for a period of time.

This type of policy would only be lump sum of money (death benefit) paid out to your dependents if you were to pass away during the term of the policy.

Term policies are usually sold for 5,10, 15,…30 years.

These are called level terms and are one of the most common types of term insurance. However, there are more types of term life insurance.

Term insurance can be inexpensive, but once the policy ends so does your coverage.

Permanent life insurance lasts your whole life and has a saving component as well (the “Cash Value Component” section in this article describes this nicely.)

Due to both of those reasons, expect to pay higher premiums  for a longer period of time.

To learn more about which option is best for you by consulting with experienced professionals at this Cleveland Insurance Agency.

Why would someone consider life insurance at a young age?

1. Dependents will be covered financially if you were to die. (Yes, it is possible to have dependents at a young age)

Consider a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, children, parents, grandparents, or anyone else that depends on you financially.

If anyone depends on you, you should be considering life insurance.

Also, it is very common for a millennial to graduate college with a significant amount of student loans.

You might be responsible for these loans or you might have a c0-signer (like a parent or guardian) helping you out.

God forbid, if anything were to happen to you, your co-signer would be responsible for any unpaid student loans. A life insurance policy would help pay off this financial burden.

2. Life insurance is less expensive at a young age (when your healthy).

Many young people consider themselves invincible until something bad happens to their health.

If you wait to buy life insurance when you are unhealthy, expect to pay higher premiums.

Avoid this problem, by purchasing life insurance at a time when you are healthy and expect to pay relatively low premiums.

3. You can tell your friends you are saving for the future.

The Cash Value component of permanent life insurance forces you to save for your future.

This helps people at a young age to generate positive money habits. Check out how much money you can save through this life insurance calculator.

Many millennials are known to spend their money on short-term products that do not serve a long term purpose.

Be an outlier and make saving for your future a priority. Permanent life insurance will help hold you accountable.

4. Be financially independent by being responsible for all your expenses (including your funeral expenses).

It says a lot about your character if you make the decision to cover your funeral expenses as well.

5. Be covered all the time.

Some jobs offer life insurance benefits during the on boarding process of a new employee.

However, in most cases you will not have this coverage follow you if you were to switch jobs (which is starting become the new norm).

Having your own life insurance will follow you anywhere and allow you to be covered all the time.

Millennials and Life Insurance

In conclusion, millennials are perfect candidates for life insurance if you have dependents and want to improve your saving habits.

If you are a single person with no one depending on you financially and have awesome saving habits, you may not actually need life insurance unlike auto insurance (find out 5 easy ways to save money on auto insurance).

However, a term policy could be a great low commitment and inexpensive option for the time being.

Regardless of what option you are considering, always make sure to get a quote from multiple companies.

Life insurance is simply a safety net, to ensure that funds will be in place when you are no longer here.

If you are still unsure about what policy is right for you or want clarification on terminology, contact a trusted Cleveland Insurance Agency that has been around since 1849.

Pet Insurance for Christmas? Care for them too!

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Pet Insurance

Christmas is just around the corner, and everyone is beginning to eye what they want to buy the special people in their lives. iPhones, video games, and other electronics are always at the top of gift-givers shopping list. However, buying a loved one a pet is still a very popular option.

But wait… Before you buy your loved one a pet, you should also consider buying pet insurance along with it.

You might be asking yourself “Why bother?” or “Does pet health insurance actually exist?”

It does, and it’s a very smart option for pet owners and purchasers.

In this article, I’m going to explain to you why you should buy pet insurance and how it can greatly benefit you and the person you purchase a pet for.

Let’s start here.

What is pet insurance and is it worth it?

Our pets become a part of our families. We love them almost as much as we love our children. So when an unexpected injury or illness occurs, we want to give our pets the best possible care.

Unfortunately, that care can be expensive. Often pet medical procedure costs rival that of human medical bills. In fact, one trip to the vet for an unexpected injury can easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars

Pet medical insurance will help you cover the cost of those unexpected expenses.

So is pet insurance worth it? Absolutely. It can help you save money and allow you to give your pet the proper care they need. Not being able to follow your veterinarians recommended course of treatment because you can’t afford it is devastating. And in some cases, it can even cost your pet it’s life.

When you buy someone a pet as a Christmas gift, the last thing you want to do is put them in such an unfortunate position.

How much does pet insurance cost?

One of the best things about pet insurance is that it’s relatively inexpensive. On average pet insurance cost about $40 a month. However, that’s not a good indicator of how much pet insurance will cost for the pet you are purchasing insurance for.

Many variables including the age of the pet, the breed, the company you choose, and the state you live in can make your premiums significantly lower or higher than nationwide averages.

The best thing to do is shop around and compare plans as you would if you were purchasing health insurance for yourself.

What companies offer pet health insurance.

Pet insurance is hugely popular with pet owners because of all the benefits it comes with. So as you would expect, there are hundreds of companies that offer pet insurance coverage.

Below are a few of the most popular:

*Healthy Paws Pet Insurance: This company offers lifetime benefits and no claim caps. That’s one of the reasons they consistently maintain a high customer satisfaction rating.

*Pet Plan Pet Insurance: This company has been providing pet insurance since 1976. They offer great rates and a customizable annual deduction.

*Embrace Pet Insurance: This company allows you to use any veterinarian you choose. They also offer a customizable annual deductible.

These are just a few of the most popular companies amongst a host of many. Don’t hesitate to shop around and compare plans to make sure you’re getting the best coverage and best rates available.

Conclusion

Buying a loved one a pet this holiday season is a gift they’ll never forget.

It’s a lot more personal than an iPhone or a Xbox because a pet is something that becomes a significant part of our lives. Something we bond with and truly grow to love.

Don’t second guess your choice to buy your loved one a pet. But also take the proper steps and consider getting the pet insured. Life happens and you want you and your loved ones to be protected. Buying pet health insurance will help you achieve that goal.

Are You Taking the Right Precautions for Winter?

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We have been blessed with great weather as it took until November 18th for it to start snowing again in Cleveland. Even though it has not been much, the Lake Erie effect is sure to become an overpowering factor by producing lower windchill and increasing the amount of snowfall.

As a kid, snow is awesome. As an adult, not so much when you are used to making the same commute to work everyday. As snow starts to fall, you will have to allot for extra time to brush your car off, shovel the driveway, and to commute to work as everyone drives slower when the roads get worse. Don’t add unwanted stress to your commute by failing to prepare for the winter roads in Cleveland. Please follow this checklist to lower your chances of filing a claim and ultimately save yourself from any potential, unwanted stress in the future.

Determine if you Need New Tires Based on your Tire’s Tread

As the winter begins to get colder in Cleveland, make sure your tires have the proper amount of tread to provide the most amount of traction you can get as the roads begin to get icier. According to Farmer’s Insurance, about 34% of all skidding claims occur between the months of October and December.

You can measure the amount of tread on your tires through a simple penny test. Other than that some tires have indicators that show when you need to replace your tires. Based off how much the tire has been worn down in comparison to the indicator, you can determine if your tire needs to be replaced.

Our local counter parts, Goodyear, offer great tires specifically designed for the winter. Having specific tires for the winter might make all the difference from avoiding an accident amidst the unpredictable weather of Cleveland.

Evaluate All Possible Routes to Work

Driving might not always be the best route to work during the winter months when the roads start to get worse. Not only can driving become dangerous, but also inconvenient when it adds another 15 minutes onto your commute due to scraping the unwanted snow off your windshield and slower driving.

The RTA Transit operates during these winter months and could provide you with a more time efficient way to get to work. Choose your departure location, direction you want to go, and destination to see what time you will need to arrive at the RTA station. Not only is it consistent from point A to point B, but it is also stress-free. Driving in the winter can be stressful: worry less and live longer by taking the RTA.

Check you Car Weekly, Monthly, and Biannually 

The Consumerist writes a great article, “7 Things to Regularly Check on you Car to Save Money,” which describes what things need to be checked, how often, and how much money you could save. The list includes:

  1. Antifreeze (Biannually)
  2. Oil (Monthly)
  3. Air Filter (Monthly)
  4. Transmission Fluid (Monthly)
  5. Brake Fluid (Monthly)
  6. Tire Tread (Monthly)
  7. Tire Pressure (Weekly)

You will be surprised with how much money you will save and how much repairs that need to be made by checking these seven attributes. If you choose to neglect all of the precautions completely, I recommend doing it at least once before the year ends so you can save yourself any potential headache in the future.

Mentally Prepare Yourself

Tell yourself that you need to wake up 30-60 minutes earlier than you usually do. If your morning routine includes meditation (Headspace is a great app for beginners), showering, breakfast, or working out, please give yourself extra time to continue these habits.

Feeling rushed is not a pleasant feeling. Get up in time to enjoy your morning ritual and start your day off right so any unexpected trouble that winter brings does not make you late.

Be Aware of your Driveway Situation

Make sure your driveway is always shoveled. If you are short on cash, get up early and do it yourself as a great aerobic exercise to start the day off. If that’s the case, buy some necessary shoveling supplies from Home Depot and/or Ace Hardware.

You can also contact local snow removal contractors through TaskEasy and get a free quote today!

 

PhotoCredit: Phil Warren

3 Reasons that Will Make You Excited about Renter’s Insurance

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Photo Credit: Living in Monrovia

What’s awesome about renter’s insurance is that it’s inexpensive, covers all personal belongings, protects against injury lawsuits on your property, and almost anyone can get it.

Whether you’re a college student or brand new apartment owner, renter’s insurance can serve as a valuable investment.

How Much is the Average Renter’s Insurance Policy?

“According to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, the average cost is only $12 per month, or $144 per year, for $30,000 of property coverage and $100,000 of liability coverage. That’s a fraction of what homeowners pay.”

That’s right only $12 a month. This is only $2 more dollars than a monthly subscription to Netflix, 2 venti pumpkin spice lattes, and one heck of a deal for any person on a budget.

The average renter’s insurance policy is inexpensive because it covers your personal belongings not the building structure like homeowner’s insurance.

That is why it’s significantly less than your average homeowner’s insurance policy.

It is your landlord’s responsibility to provide insurance for the building itself. It’s your responsibility to provide insurance for your personal property and any accidents that occur on your property.

I don’t have that much “stuff”. Why do I need Renter’s Insurance?

You have more “stuff” than you realize. For example, a college student’s personal belongings add up quickly such as a personal computer, tablet, bicycle, furniture, speakers, clothes, shoes, watches and jewelry.

In any event that any of this “stuff” is damaged or stolen, a renter’s insurance policy has the ability to replace these items. All policies are different so contact your current insurance agent to see what damages are actually covered and discover your policy limits.

Get a free quote for renter’s insurance and see how much your “stuff” is worth.

Nothing bad is going to happen. It won’t be worth it.

Let’s be real. Anyone can get hit with a natural disaster. Even though your typical renter’s will NOT cover these damages. According to FreeAdvice,

“fire or lightning, windstorm or hail, explosion, riot or civil commotion, aircraft, vehicles, smoke, vandalism or malicious mischief, theft, damage by glass or safety-glazing material that is part of a building, volcanic eruption, falling objects, weight of ice, snow, or sleet, water-related damage from home utilities, and electrical surge damage are covered by renter’s insurance.”

That is a list of unfortunate risks that you could be exposed to everyday and the RIGHT renter’s insurance policy will cover you.

Not to mention, larceny rates in America are ridiculous. Its astonishing to look at statistics depicting how much property theft is in each state based off this bar graph.

If you have friends over and they trip on your stairs, then you are liable. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could break your bank if you do not have renter’s insurance.

3 Takeaways for Renter’s Insurance

1. Affordable

2. You most likely have enough “stuff”

3. You are exposed to more risks than you think

Protect what you love, with agents you trust!

 

How to Tell a Good Insurance Company from a Bad One

By | Educate, Emerging Trends, FAQ | 4 Comments

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Photo Credit: Village9991

It’s simple. A good insurance company educates, advocates, and provides value. A good insurance company invests in you. They do this by making sure they have a team filled with great agents who are available and knowledgeable. Good insurance companies figure out who their target audience is, determine where that audience will be, and create content that is valuable. Taking the extra time and effort to provide content that educates you is not done by every insurance company.

Great Team = Good Insurance Company

This starts with having a great team. A good insurance company that has a group of reliable and knowledgeable agents is the beginning. Is your agent available more times than none? When you had a claim, did your agent make your problem their problem by making it a priority? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself when it comes around to renew your policy. Find out what everyone should do before renewing their insurance policy. A good insurance company will be available when you need them. Everyone wants to speak to a human being versus an automated voice message that puts you on hold indefinitely. They will have people readily accessible when you call, file a claim, or have a question.

Availability + Knowledge = Awesome Insurance Agent

A great complement to an agent’s availability is their knowledge. A knowledgeable agent finds you a policy that protects you when you file a claim. This is done by truly understanding the client’s needs and then determining which policy limits are necessary. A great insurance agent walks you through your policy so there are no surprises when you file a claim. Click here to learn how to find the best insurance agent.

The internet has changed the game of how people view insurance. People can go online and find the cheapest policy. This can be very dangerous as these cheap policies are more likely not to cover you when you need them the most. This can all be done online with out interaction with an agent. See why you should always go through an insurance agent when buying a policy.

An online quoting system does not offer suggestions like an insurance agent would. Understanding specific exclusions and terminology paired with the knowledge of all policy types exemplifies a higher level of thinking and dedication of a great insurance agent. For example, a great insurance agent would strongly recommend an inland marine policy for a distribution company that ships a multitude of product to different locations around the world. This can be easily overlooked when an insurance policy is bought online with no interaction with an agent. A knowledgeable agent is aware of all potential risk and makes sure you and your company are covered.

What about your current insurance company’s online presence?

A good insurance company invests in a great team of agents and online marketing. Statisitcs show the more that insurance companies invest in marketing the more they will get in return and ultimately become more successful. Type in your current insurance company. Are they easy to find? Do they have a presence on social media platforms? Are they constantly publishing valuable content? The answers to all these questions come back to the concept of how much does your insurance company invest in marketing and the ability to keep up with technology.

An easy way to see if your insurance company invests in online marketing is done by looking at their website, social media accounts, and content. Is there website mobile friendly? Are they active on social media? Does the website and social media accounts stay updated with relevant content? If the answer is yes to all of these, then they are staying up to date. Use this Google Mobile Friendly Test to see if your insurance company is mobile friendly.

Do you follow your insurance company on Facebook or Twitter? Is it worth it? A great social media account makes it worth your time by bringing you value. Check out our Facebook Business Page to see if we provide value in our posts.  An insurance company investing in consistent, original content across all social media platforms is one way to go above and beyond for current clients. This is another great way to tell a good insurance company from a bad one.

Good insurance companies invest in great original content. They have great blogs and videos that depict what insurance services they are capable of providing. Check out our company video that sums up why we are a Cleveland Insurance Agency that has been in business since 1849.

Earlier Establishment the Better

Finally, how long has your current insurance company been established? If a company has longevity, they are able to pay claims. The ability to pay claims while continuing to grow proves an insurance company is effectively covering its clients. That is why The Brooks & Stafford Company is considered an elite Cleveland Insurance Agency as they have been around since 1849.

Find a Good Insurance Company and Share the Love

Do not find yourself with an agent or company that provides you with a policy that does not protect the things you love. Find an agent that is available when you need them. Find a good insurance company that provides you with updates on  trends within the industry, tips to saving money on auto insurance and home insurance, or how to navigate through your insurance policy.

If you are fortunate to find one of these, spread the word. Refer your friends and family. Write a review. Rate their Facebook page. Go to sleep with a peace of mind because you and your loved ones are protected.

 

Feedback Wanted

If you believe The Brooks & Stafford Company is a good insurance company, please share it, write a comment below, rate our Facebook page, or get a quote.  Thank you.

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7 Tips to Save Money on Homeowner’s Insurance

By | Educate, FAQ, Personal Insurance | 15 Comments

homeowner's insurance[Photo Credit: mschellhase]

Are you a homeowner? Do you think you pay way too much money for homeowner’s insurance? You are not alone as many Americans do not understand the full value of homeowner’s insurance until a tragic event occurs. However, after purchasing a home, homeowner’s insurance is essential. Here are a few concepts that you should know that will save you money on homeowner’s insurance.

Homeowner’s insurance can be an unpleasant process when you are paying way too much for a policy that does not provide sufficient coverage. When you know these 7 Tips to Save Money on Homeowner’s Insurance the process of finding the right homeowner’s insurance policy with the best company becomes simple. Knowing 5 Ways to Save Money on Auto Insurance helps too. By knowing these tips, not only will some insurance companies reward you with a discount, but you will also be creating a safer environment for you and your loved ones.

 1. Multi-policy discount

A homeowner’s policy paired along with an auto insurance policy is one of the most cost effective and convenient ways to save money. Most insurance companies will reward you for packaging your home and auto policy together. Traveler’s Insurance is one of these companies that offer a multi policy discount.

In addition, some auto policies differ in length and renewal dates compared to homeowner’s insurance policies. Paying multiple bills can start to get confusing when different renewal periods come around. Instead of keeping up with renewal dates and separate checks, buying two policies through the same company will be able to provide convenience as well.

 2. Preventive Device Discount

For the most part, this discount is almost a given if you live in a house that was not built before the 1950s. The preventive device discount is offered by a majority of companies that reward people for implementing devices that will prevent or limit the damage to your home.

For example, if you have working smoke alarms placed strategically throughout your house then you have most likely earned yourself a discount. Smoke alarms are great for insurance companies because they lower the overall risk of a fire. The National Fire Protection Association demonstrates how to install a smoke detector on your own. Having smoke alarms will help prevent a fire from happening and it will also prevent you from filing a claim that would increase your monthly premium. Now that you know the benefits and how to install a smoke alarm, there is no excuse to miss out on this opportunity to save.

The same goes for burglar alarms. These devices notify the owners of the house that someone has broken in or is trying to break in. Not only will burglar alarms prevent thieves from creating one costly claim, but it will be rewarded by some insurance companies.

Fire and theft are two big concerns for homeowners which make burglar alarms and/or smoke alarms great ways to minimize the risk for filing a claim. That is why these devices are rewarded by some insurance companies. Call your insurance agent today to see if you received a discount.

3. Claim Free Period

Insurance is all about controlling risk. A large group of people pay small amount of money (respectively) to cover the expense of a handful of tragic events. However, everyone must be insured as a tragic event could happen to any one of us as we all having some degree of risk associated with our property.   A riskier option you are or may become makes you less appealing to an insurance company. The amount of risk explains why the same amount of coverage for one individual might be higher than the other.

You may be wondering how insurance companies will determine risk for a homeowner’s policy. There is a strenuous process of assessing risk upon each individual homeowner’s policy situation as this is known as the underwriting process. During this process, underwriters look at a multitude of factors including: age and condition of electrical – plumbing – HVAC & roof systems, credit score, year the house was built, upkeep and amount of claims on the property. As a big factor on influencing premium prices, the frequency and severity of claims made on the property can drastically change how much you pay.

On average, one claim will increase your monthly premium by 9%. That might not seem like a lot but it will definitely add up once those bills consistently come in at a higher rate. With that being said, 9% is the overall average and each state varies. Click here to see how your state compares.

As you can see, one claim will affect your rate. This is because one claim most likely leads to another. In addition, property that includes a track record with past claims does not look good. Property with zero claims compared to property with more than one obviously looks more of a risk adverse option for insurance companies. This is why some insurance companies offer discounts to customers that have a clean record with no claims during a period of time.

It is not easy to avoid claims and you will get rewarded by doing so by a handful of companies. Minimize risk and avoid filing small claims to minimize that monthly premium.

4. Newly renovated or recently purchased

Think about it from the perspective of an underwriter for an insurance company, which houses would be great candidates for homeowner’s insurance policies? Newly renovated or recently purchased homes. Here’s why.

Roofs are one of the first things that underwriters are curious about when they are in the process of evaluating risk for a homeowner’s insurance policy. A roof that is poorly installed or very old can cause many problems. These problems can come in the form of leaks, collapses, and severe damage to the inside of a beautiful home.However, newly renovations and new home buyers should always look at the condition of the roof when considering buying or making renovations, because it is one of the most important aspects of the house.

Also, knob and tube wiring versus circuit breakers are a topic of interest for insurance companies when writing a policy for homeowner’s insurance. Knob and tube wiring are definitely a reason for concern as this was the method used for houses in the 1930’s and beyond. This method is not only outdated by current technology, but it is dangerous. Knob and tube wiring exposes the wiring and increases the risk of accidents. See a picture of this method to see if your home has it.

Avoid this knob and tube wiring and have a certified electrician examine your home. They will implement a more modern system such as circuit breakers which will ground the wiring and provide a safer alternative. As a result, a handful of insurance companies will reward you with a discount.   These are only two of many aspects of your house that need to be updated and renovated that will end up saving you money in the long run. Call a home inspector today to see if you need any updates!

5. Loyalty discount

Loyalty is something that gives more meaning and attachment between two things. Varying degrees of loyalty are present in our relationships with loved ones or coworkers, the attachment we have with our current jobs, and our dedication to certain brands. Either way, we are faced with struggles of staying loyal and it is becoming harder during this day and age as options continue to grow.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics came out with a study in 2015 that said that the average person before the age of 40 will have on average, 10 jobs. It is very rare that a person has the opportunity to stay loyal to one job for their lifetime. Check out this link to see how many jobs on average are predicted for millennials.

This statistic along with many provides evidence that loyalty is hard to come by. As a result, loyalty will be rewarded by some insurance companies when it comes to buying homeowner’s insurance. Loyalty may be judged different depending on the company. Call your insurance agent today and see if you qualify for a loyalty discount (if applicable).

6. Early bird discount

Insurance companies want clients that are going to be low risk so they can make money. They want to insure people that are dependable. That is why an early bird discount is in place.

Some insurance companies offer a discount to individuals that shop for their homeowner’s insurance policy far in advance of their renewal date. A person that allows insurance companies enough time to write the right policy for them by having enough time to do so deserve a discount. The people that wait last second until their renewal date will simply not receive the discount. This is easy money saved people!

P.S. Do not get too excited as not all insurance companies offer this discount when issuing homeowner’s policies.

7. Elderly discount

Being considered elderly is not that bad, as it has its perks. Studies have shown that people above the age of 65 are actually one of the happiest groups of people. Think about it. At this time, you are most likely retired, have the opportunity spend more time with family, have grandkids and receive many discounts at restaurants. However, the best reason for getting old is that you receive a discount on your homeowner’s insurance premium for the most part (just kidding, there are better things).

Strive to live long healthy lives so you are able to receive this magnificent perk of becoming old along with many others.

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That’s How you Save on Homeowner’s Insurance

This wraps up 7 Tips to Save Money on Homeowner’s insurance. A homeowner’s insurance policy can become expensive. Insurance companies offer different ways to save you money. All you need to do is find out what they are and start implementing these money saving strategies today.

Keep in mind that all insurance companies offer different discounts for homeowner’s insurance. These are only seven of many ways to save money on homeowner’s insurance and many are not on this list such as varying your deductibles. Not all of these tips listed above will guarantee a discount for your homeowner’s insurance policy so it is your job to become more educated on your policy. This way you can save hundreds of dollars each year by simply implementing strategies that will create a safer environment for you and your loved ones.

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