by Stacy Juelfs, Regional President, Main Street America Insurance •
December 6, 2021
Between travel, gift giving, decorating and shopping, the holiday season is a busy one for many people across the country. The hustle and bustle means people may neglect the little things that keep our homes safe.
Here are a few simple holiday safety tips to help ensure a happy holiday season for your family.
Home Security TipsKeeping your home secure is a necessity year-round, but it’s especially important during the holidays when reports of crimes like robberies increase by approximately 20 percent*. If you’re traveling and spending time away from the house, here are a few ways to protect your home:
* Data from the National Crime Victimization Survey
** Data from wirechiefelectric.com
Buying a car can be a stressful and exciting time – between setting budgets, navigating loan options and choosing the right insurance, there’s a lot to think about. The car you choose and the insurance and premiums you need go hand-in-hand. So, when buying car insurance for a new vehicle, the best thing you can do is research to know exactly what you’re looking for before you step foot on a car lot.
Here are some car buying insurance tips to help you get started:
Coverage Considerations for a New CarThe first step before buying auto insurance is to come up with a plan. Know which coverages you’ll need, whether your current insurance will be enough to protect your new vehicle and what proactive steps you can take to reduce your rates.
Liability CoverageThis is a base level of insurance coverage that helps cover medical costs, legal bills and more in the event that you cause an accident where another person is injured or their property is damaged. When setting up your policy, you’ll want to think about these two important factors:
The limits that are required by the state that you live in.
Make sure you have enough coverage in place to pay for the most common losses you could see and to protect the assets you have.
Personal Injury ProtectionUnlike liability coverage, personal injury protects you in the event of an accident. Regardless of who is at fault, your personal injury coverage will pay for your medical expenses if you’re injured in an accident. Some states have minimum coverage amounts (usually around $10,000), but ultimately the level of coverage you choose depends on how protected you want to be. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure you have enough coverage in place to protect you from costly out-of-pocket expenses should you require surgery, hospitalization or need to take time off from work to heal.
Personal injury insurance may not be available in every state or may be written under a different name. As always, talk to an independent insurance agent to make sure this coverage is available in your state and what limits will protect you best.
Comprehensive and CollisionComprehensive and collision are added coverages that protect from things like hail, theft and physical damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident. In some cases (especially if you finance a vehicle) you may be required to maintain comp and collision coverage when buying auto insurance.
New Car, New CoverageOne of the best car insurance tips we can give is to ensure your coverage matches your car and to consider how the car you choose could affect your insurance premium or payment. If you’re trading an old vehicle in for a newer, more expensive model, you’ll want to consider raising your coverage limits to ensure you’re fully protected. If you’re financing your vehicle, make sure you have all the coverages in place that are required by your lender and your local government.
Defensive Driving SavesBefore you start shopping, consider signing up for a defensive driving class. People usually think of defensive driving courses as something you do after you’ve been given a ticket, but it can actually be a great way to get proactive about reducing your car insurance rates. Nothing saves you money like showing the insurance company you’re a safe driver.
Research VehiclesNow that you know what coverage you’ll need, it’s time to start shopping. If you’ve done this before, you may have an idea of which company you’d like to work with or how much you can expect to pay in premiums. However, a great tip for first time car insurance buyers is to explore all your options.
Compare PremiumsWhether you search quotes online or visit your local independent insurance agent, make sure you consider all your options when looking for the right company to work with. See who can provide you with the best coverages at the best price so you can ensure you’re fully protected without breaking the bank. If you’re still considering a few different cars, it pays to talk to your insurance agent before you purchase. They can give you quotes on the insurance premiums for each vehicle so you can have a full picture of how your car-related expenses may change.
In addition to premiums, another important factor in determining the best insurance for you is how well they handle claims if you ever needed it. A benefit of working with an independent agent is that they can provide feedback on a company’s claims handling practices to ensure they settle claims quickly and fairly.
DiscountsAs part of your research, look into any discounts that might be available to you. Usually, you can save money upfront with things like multi-policy or multi-driver discounts, paying the policy premium in full or signing up for auto-pay. As you continue your relationship with the company, you may get added discounts for loyalty or safe driving. Ask your insurance agent for details about all the ways you can save.
Choosing the Right CarIf you’re on the fence about which car you want to get, another great thing to factor into your decision is the size of the vehicle and any safety features it has. Did you know in some cases smaller cars can be more expensive to insure? They can be more expensive on the liability premiums since you are statistically more likely to experience a greater injury in an accident than if you were driving a larger truck or SUV, which can lead to savings for you. That said, smaller cars are often less expensive for the physical damage in the event of a total loss.
Another great way to reduce your premium is to buy a car with an anti-theft device and other safety features that reduce your risk.
Buying Car InsuranceSo you’ve found exactly what you want and you’re ready to buy — here are some insurance tips for car buyers who are ready to make the leap:
Do It YourselfThe dealership will handle a lot of paperwork on your behalf, but don’t assume they’ll take care of insurance too. Whether you set up your insurance before you buy the car or after, you’ll need to handle it yourself. If you’re updating an existing policy, it’s as simple as updating your policy online or reaching out to your agent to handle the details within the timeframe outlined by your insurance company.
If it’s a new policy, you’ll need to set everything up before you leave the dealership. Dealers require proof of insurance before you can drive off the lot.
Consider GapGap insurance is an additional insurance policy that you’ll purchase either from the dealer or from your lender. Gap insurance guarantees that, in the event your car is totaled, your loan will be paid off. Given how quickly cars depreciate in value, and how affordable gap coverage is, it’s a great way to protect yourself from an unnecessary financial loss.
Higher Deductible, Lower RatesIf the price tag is running a little high on the insurance coverage you need, another great way to lower your payment is to consider a higher deductible. The deductible is the amount you’ll be asked to pay in the event that you file a claim that’s your fault or responsibility. For example, if you cause an accident and have a $500 deductible to cover physical damage, you’ll need to pay the body shop that $500 and your insurance company will cover the rest.
Having a higher deductible means more expenses when an accident occurs, but it could save you money on your policy premium. Talk to your independent insurance agent to decide what coverage and which deductible is right for you.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 358,500 home fires occur each year, resulting in costly damages, injuries and even deaths. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your home and family in the event of a fire. Here are a few pet safety tips to ensure your furry friends are safe, even if you’re away from home:
Create a Home Fire Safety ChecklistTaking the time to create a home fire safety checklist is a good idea for every member of the family. Use this list to keep track of everything from when to test your smoke detectors, where to find important documents and contact information you’ll need in the event of a fire.
For your pet, be sure to include an emergency veterinarian and pet friendly hotels or other accommodations should you need to leave home long-term.
Reduce Fire HazardsThe best thing you can to for your family is take a proactive approach to fire safety. Keep electrical cords tidy, don’t plug in more than an outlet can handle and take care with items that have a high risk of starting a fire. With pets, here are a few extra steps you should take to reduce fire hazards in your home:
Prepare Your PetThe idea of safely evacuating a pet during a fire can be nerve-wracking, but there are things you can do to ensure even the smallest members of your family are ready. Regularly work with your pet on recall commands, even in exciting or stressful situations, and keep treats and a leash handy so you can quickly grab it in an emergency. Include pets in any fire drills and practice securing them quickly to help ease their stress and ensure a successful exit if you need to evacuate.
Reduce Their RiskPerhaps the scariest part of pet ownership is knowing that fires can happen while your pet is home alone. Here are a few pet fire safety tips to keep them safe, even when you’re away:
Conduct Safety ChecksRegularly evaluate your home’s safety – check for fire hazards like jumbled cords or faulty electrical wiring. If you find an issue, fix it as quickly as possible to reduce your family’s risk. As part of your safety check, review your home fire safety checklist and fire safety plan and make any necessary adjustments based on things like new family members, renovations made to your home and anything else that might have changed.
Stay ProactiveAs we said before, there’s no better approach than staying proactive. Ensure your home has working smoke detectors and other safety alarms, and regularly test and replace batteries to keep everything in good shape. Keep pathways to your exits clear and have important items at the ready so you can evacuate quickly and safely. And, most importantly, ensure every member of the family knows the plan and is ready to go at a moments notice.
Have the Right InsuranceTry as you might, you can never 100% prevent a house fire. When the unthinkable happens, it’s also important to ensure you have the right insurance coverage in place to protect your family and quickly restore your home without breaking the bank. Your homeowners insurance policy will pay to cover any damages caused by the fire, smoke or water damage. In most cases, it will also cover your expenses should you need to relocate while repairs are made. Talk to an independent insurance agent to make sure you have the right homeowners coverages and deductibles in place for your home.
Find an independent agent today to review your insurance options.