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Get Ready…It’s Hurricane Season!

05/09/2017 | No Comments

Get Ready…It’s Hurricane Season!

The most important thing you can do as hurricane season approaches is to get yourself, your family and your home prepared. By starting early, you’ll avoid the rush at home supply stores, grocery stores and other venues typically crowded and often chaotic when hurricane watches and warnings are issued.

Preparing Makes Sense

How Can I prepare

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio Station for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Secure any items that can be lifted by wind
  • Secure windows and doors
  • Set your freezer and refrigerator to its coldest settings
  • Turn off propane tank and unplug small appliances
  • Fill your car gas tank
  • Have an evacuation plan set
  • Evacuate immediately if advised by authorities
  • Keep emergency contact numbers handy
  • Make arrangements for pets (if you are evacuated- most shelters will not allow pets)

 

What Supplies Should I Have?

  • Ample water – At least 3 days worth (One gallon per day, per person)
  • 3 days worth of non – perishable food (don’t forget pets)
  • Flashlights (avoid candles)
  • Battery powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7 days worth)
  • Copies of personal documents
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Extra cash – ATM’s may not be working
  • Insect Repellant
  • Tools to secure your home
  • Warm Clothing
  • Blankets
  • Camera for photos of damage

 

What should I do after a Storm?

  • Listen to NOAA for more updates Only use your phone in emergencies
  • Stay away from damaged powerlines
  • Check for spoiled food – when in doubt throw it out
  • Avoid drinking and preparing food with tap water (can be contaminated)
  • If you were evacuated, do not return home unless instructed by the authorities
  • When cleaning, wear protective clothing (avoid areas that can be dangerous)
  • Follow directions from emergency service personnel and fire response
  • Avoid operating electric appliances or tools around water

 

All NOAA Weather Radio stations broadcast on one of seven frequencies in the VHF Public Service band: 162.400 megahertz (MHz), 162.425MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.475 MHz, 162.500MHz, 162.525 MHz, and 162.550 MHz. While some older weather radio receivers will only have three frequencies (162.400, 162.475 and 162.550), and receiver sold today should be able to pick up stations on any of the seven frequencies.

Consider buying a generator

If you use a portable generator, read and follo all the manufacturers instructions. Be sure to set it up outsied – not in your home or garage – and connect appliances directly to it. Don tot ire your generator directly to your breaker or fuse box, because the power you generate may flow back into power lines and cause injuries.

Helpful Links:

National Hurricane Center http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

American Red Cross  http:/www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane

Preparedness Guides https://www.ready.gov

Create a Family Emergency Plan

Designate a meeting place. Choose a location outside your house in case of a household emergency, such as a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return to your house. Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. If possible, make arrangements to stay with the friend or relative who resides closest to your home and who will not have to evacuate. If a hotel or motel is your final intended destination during an evacuation, make a reservation before you leave. Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.


Will Boat Insurance Keep You Afloat?

04/21/2017 | No Comments

Make Sure You Have Boat Insurance to Weather the Storm

If you enjoy fishing, sailing, yachting, or cruising around on a powerboat, make sure you have boat insurance that covers your liability risk as well as your watercraft, equipment and passengers. Perhaps you have a lake cabin and like to tow water skiers or tubing enthusiasts. Maybe you have the party boat and every Fourth of July you load up your vessel with guests, food and libations.

Water activities are a great way to bring people together, but it is important to remember that accidents, injuries and fatalities do happen, especially when alcohol is involved. To get the right coverage that will protect your financial investment, work with a Tri -County Agent. A local agent who knows the risks and regulations in your area can help ensure that you are fully covered when you head out on the water.


Critical Steps for Boater Safety

  • Take a boating safety course
  • Educate your passengers on safe boating techniques
  • Make sure all passengers wear life vests
  • Follow all rules of the waterway you frequent
  • Stay sober, particularly if you are at the helm
  • Get boat insurance to ensure you are protected for the risks involved in boating, from liability claims to theft, storm damage and capsizing

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

The exact boat coverage you need depends on multiple factors. Small boat insurance is very different from yacht insurance, for example. However, for most types of boats, the three kinds of coverage in a basic boat insurance policy include:

  • Bodily injury liability for expenses related to the injury of another person
  • Property damage liability for expenses related to harming another person’s property
  • Physical damage for damage to your own property, including your boat and trailer.

You also may want to add additional types of coverage to your boat insurance policy in order to fully protect yourself and your property. Here are some examples of additional coverage:

  • Property coverage for equipment such as tools, life preservers, anchors and oars
  • Insurance for fishing equipment like your rods, lures, nets and tackle
  • Towing coverage when your boat becomes disabled and needs servicing
  • Medical payments coverage for hospital and funeral expenses for you or your passengers
  • Uninsured/underinsured boaters coverage if you have an accident with another boater whose insurance is not sufficient to cover damages

As with all insurance, the amount of benefit or reimbursement you have in the event of an incident is set at the time you buy your policy. Be sure to talk with an experienced Tri-County agent who can make sure you have sufficient insurance for the risks you encounter.


What Kinds of Boats Need to Be Insured?

You can insure just about any kind of vessel, whether you have a yacht, speed boat or personal watercraft (PWC) like a JetSki. Every type of boat has the potential to be stolen or damaged, and can be involved in an incident that results in harm to another person or their property. Even if your boat is docked or stored in your garage, it can potentially be vandalized, damaged in a fire or storm, or stolen.

Many owners of small watercraft such as canoes, rafts and kayaks assume they will be covered under a homeowners or renters policy. This may be the case, up to a specified limit in your home policy. However, when it’s time to make a claim, you don’t want to be surprised to find out that this limit is not adequate to cover the value of your investment.

Be sure to consider the amount of coverage you would need to repair or replace each of your boats and recreational vehicles if damaged or stolen and ask your agent to help you get the right coverage for those items.


Can You Buy Boat Insurance Online?

There is certainly nothing wrong with getting online boat insurance quotes when you are shopping around. Just make sure you are comparing “apples to apples.” For example, if you get multiple online quotes for boat insurance, you could start by making sure that each includes the same amount of liability, property damage and medical coverage.

Buying insurance is a personal matter, and many considerations go into choosing just the right coverage for you. For this reason, many people choose to work with an independent agent who can provide guidance and answer questions. That kind of support can be difficult to find in an insurance call center or online interface.

Contact us at Tri-County today to find the insurance policy that is right for you!


Car Insurance Prepares You for the Unexpected

03/23/2017 | No Comments

Traffic accident scenarios are common, from fender-benders to highway crashes. In fact, according to the Census Bureau, over 10 million accidents occur on U.S. streets each year. The key is to be prepared so that the costs involved in recovering from an accident are not devastating to your finances.


The Cost of Car Accidents in the U.S.

  • Automobile traffic accidents cost $299.5 billion annually in the U.S.
  • Crashes cost $61,600 on average
  • A critically injured person can accumulate $1 million in medical expenses

Legal defense alone can cause devastating financial hardship, even if it turns out you are not found to be at fault. For this reason, it is important to think carefully about the coverage you may need in the event of an accident. If you buy car insurance online without professional advice, you may not be fully covered.


How to Find Fast, Accurate Insurance Quotes

When you’re on the hunt for accurate insurance quotes, it’s also important to look for coverage that makes sense for your concerns and budget. Tri-County can help you get fast quotes that are tailored to your real life needs. Moreover, you can get answers to your questions about how much insurance is best for you, how to get discounts and how to keep your costs low.

Tri-County Insurance Agents offer several important benefits:

  1. Your local agent not only understands the factors that make up a quality car insurance policy, but knows the requirements in your state.
  2. Independent agencies partner with multiple carriers to find the best personal auto insurance coverage for you at affordable rates.
  3. Your agent will help you find car insurance tailored to your needs, not to a mathematical formula describing what the average driver should have.

Review Options from Multiple Auto Insurance Companies

When you work with an independent agent, you are not stuck with one insurance company and the solutions that company provides. Instead, you will have a range of choices from top insurance companies.

Your Tri-County Agent will assess your needs based on factors such as the number of drivers in your family and their ages. Your agent will also look at bundling multiple vehicles together, or combining your home and auto policies under one insurance company, so that you can get the best value for your dollar.

Your agent can help you review several policy choices, coverage limits, deductibles and pricing and choose the best fit for you.


Is Auto Insurance Coverage Required?

Drivers in every state are required to have auto liability insurance, such as personal injury protection (PIP).

Car insurance liability requirements vary by state, and include a minimum amount for bodily injury costs per person and per accident as well as a minimum for property damage liability. If you cause an accident, liability coverage pays those costs, up to the limits set for your policy.

In addition to required liability coverage, you may also want collision coverage to protect your investment in your vehicle. And depending upon your specific needs and risks, you may also want comprehensive coverage – now known as “other than collision.” Together, collision and comprehensive can provide protection for everything from accidents to theft and vandalism.


What Does Car Insurance Cover?

There are three primary types of insurance coverage:

  • Liability insurance: Covers the costs associated with injuries and property damage you are responsible for if you cause an accident.
  • Collision: Covers the costs to repair or replace your damaged or destroyed vehicle after an accident.
  • Comprehensive: Formally known as “other than collision,” this portion of your policy covers damage to your vehicle from causes such as auto theft and weather damage.

There are also several different types of coverage which may be available to you, including:

  • Medical payments: Covers the costs of injuries for you and others in your vehicle after an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Similar to medical payments coverage, PIP coverage can pay your medical costs after an accident, regardless of fault. But PIP offers expanded coverage that includes coverage for lost wages.
  • Rental reimbursement: Pays a certain amount daily for a replacement vehicle if yours is in the shop for repairs.
  • Towing and roadside service: Provides emergency roadside assistance and towing to help you get your vehicle back on the road or to a shop for repair.

As you consider your policy needs, it is important to keep the coverage limits in mind. The costs of a severe crash can quickly exceed the limits. If that occurs, you will have to pay for costs out of your own pocket.


The Risks of Buying Auto Insurance Online

Shopping for insurance online may be a great way to get information and rough quotes, but there are drawbacks to actually buying your auto coverage that way. One of the drawbacks with buying car insurance online is that it may not match your needs. Many people go looking for instant online insurance, only to find that it is difficult to know whether it offers the right amount and type of protection. Buying a no-frills basic car insurance policy may meet state requirements, but may not provide the compensation you need to recover from an accident.

It is important to discuss your risks and coverage options with a qualified insurance agent who can help ensure that you don’t have coverage gaps. A Tri-County Agent can help you learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision about your car insurance.


Contact Tri-County today! We are here to help find the perfect coverage for you.


Find Affordable Health Insurance for Individuals, Families and Businesses

02/10/2017 | No Comments

The Affordable Healthcare Act stipulates that failure to carry health insurance can result in tax penalties, so if you are uninsured, you now have more motivation than ever to find coverage. Finding an affordable policy may seem like a daunting task, but today, those shopping on the private market have access to a greater number of options than ever before. With so much to choose from, how do you sort through plans, deductibles, and networks, and choose a policy that makes sense for you, your family or your employees?

An independent insurance agent who specializes in health insurance can be an excellent resource when you want to evaluate health plans. You may even discover that you can find a lower cost option through an independent agent than you can through your employer. This is because these agents can compare plans from multiple carriers to find the best fit and rates. Contact a Tri County agent and get all your questions answered right away.


How to Buy Health Insurance for Individuals and Families

If you are self-employed or you are not obtaining healthcare coverage through your employer, you need at least a basic health insurance plan to ensure that you are prepared for an unforeseen health condition or injury.

A full-coverage health insurance plan may be more suitable for your needs if you have dependents, you are getting ready to start a family, or you have a family history of certain health risks, such as heart disease. You should ensure that your healthcare plan helps you to pay for the broader set of services you need.

Use the handy checklist below to help you decide what kind of coverage may be right for you.

Use this checklist to decide what Health Insurance coverage you need.

Healthcare Costs, Co-pays and Coinsurance

Your healthcare costs are an important factor to consider when you want to buy health insurance, and you have a number of options for managing those costs. You can choose to pay a higher deductible to lower your regular premiums, which means you need to pay that deductible amount for doctor’s visits and medical bills before your health insurance kicks in. Alternatively you can pay a higher premium in order to avoid a high out-of-pocket cost in the event of a serious illness. Bear in mind that health insurance companies are now required to cover preventive care visits (such as routine physicals, gynecological exams, and mammograms) in full so you will not pay for these visits even if you have not met your deductible.

Co-pays and coinsurance are two methods health insurance companies use to share the cost of healthcare. Co-pays are a small amount you pay for doctor’s visits, whereas coinsurance is an amount you pay in the event you need additional care. Your doctor cannot charge a you a co-pay for preventive care visits. Be sure that you fully understand any coinsurance payments your health insurance plan requires. In the event of a serious illness or injury, these costs can become very high.

A local independent agent in the Trusted Choice network can help you compare medical insurance quotes and find the right healthcare plan to match your current and anticipated needs.


Health Insurance Coverage Plans

There are a number of different types of health insurance plans for individuals and families. The following table provides a brief overview of the most common health insurance plans.

A brief overview of common Health Insurance plans

An independent agent in the Trusted Choice network specializing in healthcare insurance can answer all of your questions. You can also learn more from the following Healthcare and Health Insurance FAQ.


Healthcare and Health Insurance FAQ

Q: Is it possible to buy good yet cheap health insurance?

A: Between the policies offered on your state’s health insurance exchange and those offered on the private market, you should be able to find a variety of low cost health insurance plans. Frequently, these plans have a high deductible but will allow you preventive care at no additional cost and can prevent a major injury or illness from becoming excessively expensive through limits on out-of-pocket spending. Talk to a qualified agent about ways to cut expenses without sacrificing needed care or putting your family at risk of a large burden of debt.

Q: How does the Affordable Health Care Act affect health insurance?

A: The Affordable Health Care Act was an extensive overhaul of the healthcare system. It eliminated the legality of predatory insurance companies and it ensures that everyone has access to basic preventive care at no additional cost beyond their monthly premiums. Furthermore, those with pre-existing conditions can no longer be turned down or price-gouged by insurance companies. To fully understand how this legislation has affected you, you can talk to a qualified agent and get your questions answered.

Q: Does health insurance cover long term care?

A: Health insurance plans typically cover your regular health care and major medical care, such as hospital stays and surgeries, with costs and limitations varying considerably from one plan to another. Long term care insurance is a supplemental insurance policy that helps individuals get the care they need in the event of a chronic condition, such as an injury requiring rehabilitation in a care facility, or the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Q: Does Medicare include long term care?

A: Medicare is a government health insurance program designed to help those over 65, and those with certain severe illnesses such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It helps to cover the costs of hospital stays, doctor’s visits, and prescription drugs. Long term care insurance is a supplemental insurance plan that helps to cover the costs associated with care for individuals with chronic conditions and disabilities.

Q: Can I get a free health insurance quote?

A: Yes. The agents in the Trusted Choice network offer free insurance quotes and can help you assess your needs as well. These independent agents work with multiple health insurance companies, which means they can compare a range of policies and options for you, and help you evaluate the right coverage for your needs.

Contact a Tri County agent for assistance with your healthcare needs today.


Three Insurance Resolutions for the New Year

12/30/2016 | No Comments

Some people vow to exercise more, or to quit smoking or to read more books, and these are all admirable New Year’s resolutions. But what about resolutions that help provide you with peace of mind, more protection and a little more money in your wallet? Tri County Agency encourages you to review these three straightforward “insurance resolutions” that can help you start 2017 on the right foot.

Check to See If You Qualify for Discounts to Lower Your Premium

It’s always a good idea to save a little money when you can, and asking your Tri County agent about potential discounts is a great place to start. While premiums are calculated based on the level of risk an insurance company must take to provide you with coverage, there are steps you may be able to take to reduce those risks. For example, installing alarms in your home that alert local authorities to fires or burglary may help to reduce the premium on your homeowners insurance since it can aid in the prevention and mitigation of a fire or break-in. If you have teenagers that are or will be old enough to drive this year, ask your agent about good student discounts, and all drivers may be able to lower their premiums by successfully completing a defensive driving course.

Another way you can lower your premiums would be to raise your deductible- the amount you pay for a loss before your insurance coverage kicks in. Raising your deductible on your auto insurance collision and comprehensive coverage can help bring your rates down.

Make a home inventory

The reason we all purchase insurance is to help us recover, rebuild and replace after a loss. Keeping a comprehensive home inventory can help you replace your belongings after a loss, as accurate records will make it less likely that there will be a dispute between you and your insurance company during the claim process.

Find and Fix Gaps in Coverage

One of the worst experiences you can have when filing a claim after a loss is being told that you don’t have the right coverage. While a Tri County agent will work with you to try and eliminate those scenarios, there are also times when your circumstances change, and if you don’t update your insurance coverage accordingly, you might find yourself with a gap in coverage. If you have certain high value items such as jewelry or collectibles, they may not be fully covered under a homeowners policy, despite coverage being available elsewhere under an add-on called a “personal articles floater.” Similarly, in the wake of Sandy and other storms with intense flooding, many homeowners found out that their homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood losses. Even if your mortgage company doesn’t require it, a flood insurance policy can be an important piece of protection you should investigate.

Speaking with a Tri County agent can help you identify where there may be potential gaps and they are able to help you obtain the coverage to fill them. Contact us today!

A New Year is a new start, and a time to start over. Committing yourself to these resolutions can help provide you with peace of mind, more protection and, hopefully, a little more money in your wallet to start the year.


Halloween Safety Tips

10/26/2016 | No Comments

Halloween is this weekend! Everyone here at Tri County Agency would like to wish you and your Family a safe weekend. Please keep the following tips in mind!
Walk Safely

  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

Trick or Treat With an Adult

  • Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.

Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe

  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.

Drive Extra Safely on Halloween

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Is Life Insurance a Life or Death Matter?

09/27/2016 | No Comments

You are not planning to have a heart attack tomorrow, or get a cancer diagnosis, or accidentally step out in front of a bus. For that reason, and especially if you are young and healthy and have no dependents, life insurance probably isn’t for you. Or is it?

Let’s look at what life insurance is, what it covers, and why people buy it. Then you can decide if now is the time to contact a Tri County Agent who specializes in life insurance. Because these agents work with multiple life insurance carriers, they can compare policies and options on your behalf and help you make the best choice. Contact us for help meeting your life insurance goals.

Life Insurance Statistics

  • 40% of American adults have no life insurance
  • Over 50% of U.S. households lack adequate life insurance coverage
  • About 40% of people surveyed say they would have immediate financial trouble if the primary wage earner in their household died

Why Buy Life Insurance?
As with all insurance, life insurance plans are about preparing for the unexpected. We don’t plan to have a heart attack or meet an untimely end. We may fret about the unforeseen, but there are few ways to prepare for it. Life insurance provides a way to be prepared and get peace of mind.

The main reason to buy life insurance is for financial protection for your family and dependents. If you are the sole income earner or the major provider in your family, then life insurance definitely makes sense. If you should die unexpectedly, your policy will help your loved ones pay your final expenses and potentially receive ongoing support. The amount they receive will depend upon the size of policy you buy.

Do You Need Life Insurance When You Are Young?
Most people don’t think about buying life insurance when they are young, healthy and single. However, if something should happen to you unexpectedly, a life insurance policy could pay for your student loans or other large outstanding debts, as well as your funeral expenses. These are never fun things to think about, but evaluating risks is a first step to preparedness.

Another good reason to consider buying life insurance at a younger age is to lock in rates. The affordability of life insurance is based largely on your age and risk factors, and life insurance for adults becomes increasingly expensive. While you are young and healthy, you will pay lower premiums. With short term insurance you can choose a lock-in term, such as 15 or 20 years at a preferred rate.

It is important to know that many term policies can be converted into permanent policies later on, without having to re-qualify. If you develop a severe or chronic condition at any point, your life insurance is already secured. Essentially you can insure your insurability.

Life Insurance Over 30
Most people begin seriously thinking about buying a life insurance policy at about the time they start a family. If you are like many people, the light bulb may come on at about the age of 30, when you realize that you are mortal, and that you have real financial responsibilities.

An important consideration for anyone who wants to purchase life insurance is that it will never be cheaper than it is today. It’s not too late at the age of 30, 40 or 50 or even later to buy life insurance that will protect your dependents from financial hardship or provide for you in retirement. But your costs will go up the longer you wait. If you do buy life insurance now, you can lock in a life insurance premium at a more affordable rate than it will be a few years down the road.

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?
Choosing a life insurance plan requires a bit of math. You want to figure out how much your family needs for daily spending and major upcoming expenses in the event that you pass away too soon and cannot provide for them. Or, if you are young, single and healthy, you can look at the cost of paying off any debt you have accumulated, or the cost of care for an aging parent.

For the following simple example, we will pretend there is no interest or tax. But in reality those factors will affect the amount of benefit your beneficiaries receive.

Example:

  • You purchase a $500,000 life insurance policy.
  • Upon your passing, your family spends $10,000 for your final expenses, leaving $490,000 to be divided up over the payout period for your designated beneficiaries.
  • If the payout period is 20 years, the payments would be about $24,500 per year, or about $2,040 per month.

Again, interest and tax are not figured into this simplified example. What makes life insurance so confusing is that there are several different types of coverage, including term life and whole life or permanent life insurance. Additionally, the details of the policy you choose will be unique to your personal situation.

Life Insurance Terminology
It can be difficult to make sense of life insurance terminology. Here is a brief overview of the most common terms:

  • Accidental death insurance: Also known as accidental death and dismemberment insurance, or AD&D, this coverage pays you or a beneficiary a benefit if you are in an accident that results in your being killed or dismembered.
  • Annuities: An annuity is a type of insurance that either pays income after your initial investment (immediate annuity) or accumulates income (deferred annuity). Either of these types of annuities can be fixed (guaranteed) or assigned a variable rate that pays out based on the policy’s associated investments. Life insurance companies typically offer annuities to help people obtain a stable income during retirement.
  • Critical Illness Insurance: While not a life insurance policy, critical illness insurance is often available through life insurance companies. You might buy critical illness insurance (or CI) if you have a family history of heart disease or cancer in order to ensure that you have the financial resources to pay for your care if you are diagnosed with a severe illness.
  • No exam life insurance: This is life insurance coverage that some companies offer without requiring a medical exam first. Typically, this option will be more expensive because without submitting the results of a medical exam to the insurance company, you are an unknown and potentially greater risk.
  • Term life insurance: This is a life insurance policy that provides a death benefit only. Your annual premiums are locked in for a set term, such as 10 or 20 years. In the event that you pass away during this period, a death benefit is paid to your beneficiaries.
  • Permanent life insurance: This is a long-term policy, such as universal life insurance or whole life insurance, that includes an investment component and can cover retirement expenses in addition to providing a death benefit.
  • Universal life insurance: A permanent life insurance policy with a “liquid” account that accrues cash value, as well as interest, with each premium you pay. You can take out loans as needed for unexpected expenses or opportunities, such as a home purchase. You also can pay more than the scheduled premium, or take breaks from paying premiums.
  • Whole life insurance: Whole life is a permanent policy with an investment component that provides for your financial needs similarly to universal life insurance, but without the liquidity of the funds. This life insurance policy accrues a cash value and pays out at the end of the policy, if it is kept current.

Finding the Right Life Insurance for You

Life insurance causes more confusion for people than perhaps any other type of insurance, partly because there are several different types of life insurance products, and partly because the best life insurance is unique to each individual. Should you buy term life or permanent life insurance? Do you need a broker or can you get life insurance from an agency? Should you buy life insurance coverage online or is that too risky?

While you can buy online life insurance, it may be difficult to know what you are getting and whether it will adequately meet your family’s needs. Buying life insurance is a very personal decision. You may want a policy that builds cash value over time, or you may simply want to purchase coverage that will provide a death benefit if you should pass away within a specific term.

Depending upon the ages of your children and how long it is until they graduate from college, a 10-year, 20-year or 30-year life insurance term policy might be appropriate for you. Or, you may need life insurance to cover only your final expenses. These choices are individual, and for this reason it is smart to consult with a knowledgeable life insurance agent.

How an Independent Agent Can Help Find the Best Life Insurance
Many people begin their search for life insurance by getting an instant online quote. But when it comes time to make a decision, they really want to talk with a professional who can guide them in choosing the best life insurance policy for their needs.

An independent agent at Tri County Agency who specializes in life insurance can help you learn about the various life insurance plans and provide all of the answers to your questions. Independent agents advocate for you, not for the life insurance carrier. This means they are dedicated to helping you make the best possible decision for your needs. You will have the opportunity to review various life insurance premiums and make an informed choice.

Your agent will help to evaluate your life insurance goals, answer your questions, and help you make a smart choice. Simply request a quote to get started.


5 Little Known Ways College Students Can Save Money on Car Insurance

08/25/2016 | No Comments

You might think you have your act together when it comes to student car insurance. College life is hectic and money is always short. To lighten the load, you did your homework to get the best possible rate. Or did you? Sure, your GPA is great, but there are other factors too. Knowing them could allow you to shave dollars from your premium and keep precious cash in your pocket. This is what goes into determining your car insurance rates.
5 Factors That Influence Auto insurance Rates for College Students

Besides your age, gender, and grades, the biggest factor that influences student car insurance is whether you take your car to school. That is because where you keep your car and how much you drive it is one of the primary ways insurance companies determine how likely you are to get into an accident.

You will need to carefully evaluate where you live and how much you drive before you decide if you’ll drive your car to school. Here are some other things to consider:

1. Location

This could be a big one. If your school is in a more rural area, you will pay lower rates. Urban areas and big cities always carry higher insurance rates. The reason is relatively simple. More cars on the road, more obstacles like pedestrians, and narrow through streets all mean there is a much greater potential for you to be involved in an accident. States like New York and New Jersey have the highest car insurance rates, whereas states like Idaho, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Maine are among the lowest (Bankrate.com). There may be a bit of relief, though. If you happen to live within 3 miles of your school or job, you could qualify for a mileage discount.

2. Type of Car

Your sports car might look good on campus, but in the long run, the student car insurance rate could eat you alive. If you can, go for a larger vehicle. They are more substantial, usually made of steel, and much easier to repair. They also carry lower premiums. It may seem like insurance companies pick and choose which models to charge higher premiums for, but the law and their reasoning are sound. Sports cars are always higher because they have a large claim history (drivers like to go fast and are often involved in wrecks) and they have a much higher chance of being stolen. This is why driving a minivan may not be sexy, but is a great choice if you want a lower insurance rate. Also, newer cars like sedans and compacts give you better rates, since they require much less maintenance and have better safety features.

3. Credit History

Insurance companies will examine your credit history as a predictor of your likelihood of getting in an accident. A good credit rating could save you around $1,000 per year in premium costs. If you have a poor rating, expect a higher premium.

4. How Much Driving You Do

This one is cut-and-dried. If you can prove that you will be driving much less, then you could save a bit on your premium. To further compound the savings, try to stay on your parent’s insurance plan if possible.

5. Driving Record

This is the most important factor by far. You are young and full of potential. You are also squarely in the high-risk category. Even a speeding ticket will make your insurance rate skyrocket, simply because you are already in a category with a higher risk. Make sure your driving record is as clean as possible so you can get the best rate.

Finally, consider getting a huge break on your insurance by leaving your car at home. Doing so can save you thousands of dollars. The best way to accomplish this is by trying to remain on your parents’ insurance policy. Most insurance companies will allow you to stay on your parents’ policy if you:

  • Are under 25 years old
  • Attend a college or university within 100 miles of your home
  • Attend a college or university more than 100 miles from home, but drive your vehicle only when you are home for school breaks

The number of miles that you drive in a year also heavily influences how much you will pay for car insurance. If you keep your car at home rather than at school, you will drive less. If you must bring your car to school, use mass transit as much as possible, live on campus if you can, and consider carpooling where possible. Restaurants and other entertainment options are not beyond the scope of possibility if you take advantage of public or mass transit. Besides, you are there to learn after all, right?
What Discounts Are Available to College Students for Car Insurance?
As a student, you may be eligible for several discounts.

Resident Student Discount 

This echoes what was mentioned previously. Choosing a school that is far away and only driving when you’re home on break is a dream come true for your insurance company. They will usually give you a nice break for this, since there’s much less chance for you to be involved in an accident.

Early Signing Discount

This is something you can take advantage of, but it is time-sensitive. If you’re shopping for new car insurance before your current policy has lapsed, there are insurers that will give you a discount for not procrastinating.

Multiple Policy Discount

If you need other types of insurance, consider using the same insurance company for them. For instance, if you need renters insurance, getting both your renters insurance and auto insurance policy from the same company will make you eligible for a discount.

Other discounts that college students might be eligible for include:

  • Good student discount
  • Safe driver discount
  • Pay-in-full or automatic payment discount
  • Driving school discount
  • Anti-theft discount
  • Safety equipment discount
  • Data tracking discount

Ask one of our Trusted Choice agents about these discounts when you shop for your policy.
What Car Insurance Coverage Is Necessary for Students Away at College?
Even for students away from home, good car insurance is a necessity. While you’ll want to buy the most affordable student car insurance available, you shouldn’t limit your coverage to your state’s bare minimums. This could leave you at risk if an accident occurs with one of the nearly 13% of uninsured motorist roaming the roads. In some states, that’s as high as 25%, according to the Insurance Research Council.

Remember, you can be the most responsible driver to ever hit the road, but that still won’t protect you from the actions of those around you. According to 2014 statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 33% of drivers 21 to 24 years old were involved in fatal alcohol-related accidents. This is the highest of any age group. Furthermore, consider the fact that 18% of all college-age drivers report driving under the influence at some point in time, while just over 37% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were reported to be binge drinkers, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The bottom line: Just because you might be responsible doesn’t mean everyone else is. At the very least, you must carry your state’s mandated minimum liability coverage. But is that enough? Not likely.

To ensure you are protected, auto insurance for college students should include the following types of coverage with appropriate coverage limits:

  • Collision coverage is protection for physical damage to your vehicle when it hits or is hit by another vehicle or object, such as a tree.
  • Comprehensive coverage pays for losses from almost all other types of damage to your vehicle other than that resulting from a collision, such as theft, fire, vandalism, weather, birds or animals, glass breakage and so on.
  • Medical payments coverage, or personal injury protection, helps pay for medical, dental and funeral expenses for you or your passengers, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are in an accident involving a hit-and-run driver or a driver who does not have auto liability coverage. It takes the place of liability insurance that the other driver should have, but does not.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage protects you if another motorist is at fault for a collision but does not have enough insurance to cover your losses.

How Do College Students Find the Best Car Insurance Rates?
The best car insurance for you as a college student will provide protection not only for liability risks, but also for injuries, collisions and other types of risks to you and your vehicle. And it will provide all of those things at a price that that isn’t burdensome.

First, find an agent that you are comfortable with. Your agent should be able to find quotes from numerous reputable insurance companies so that you can find the combination of coverage and price that best suits your needs and budget. When comparing quotes, make sure that the coverage and limits are the same for each quote. It doesn’t pay to compare apples to oranges.

Tri County Agency can help you find the student car insurance you need, and will help you save money by finding all of the discounts that you are eligible for. This will help you keep cash in your pocket. Whether you spend it on tacos is up to you.


10 Most Common Workers Compensation Claims

07/05/2016 | No Comments

Workers compensation is a form of insurance designed to help employees recover from injuries sustained in the workplace.

Every state has different laws pertaining to workers compensation programs. Benefits provided to workers may include medical expenses, death benefits, lost wages and rehabilitation services. In most states, any business with at least one paid employee (even if that employee is temporary) is required to carry workers compensation insurance.

Nobody expects to be injured on the job. In fact, many employers dedicate a large portion of their budget to educating employees on safe practices, in addition to re-vamping facilities to meet safety codes.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1.1 million injuries happened in the workplace in 2011, with an average recuperation time of eight days.

We’ve compiled the top ten most common workers compensation injuries, along with the positions that file the most claims every year.

1) Overexertion
Overexertion arises when one lifts, pulls, pushes or throws something, causing injury. This injury occurs when a muscle is pulled, or a joint is forced to move beyond its typical range of motion. This is most commonly seen in factory jobs, construction jobs, or jobs where physical labor is necessary. This is also commonly seen in police officers. This is the most common injury seen in the workplace, according to a study from the Department of Labor.
2) Slip or Trip and Falls
Many of the slip, trip, and fall claims arise from workers slipping on wet floors around the workplace. Many of these cases are also related to individuals slipping and falling on snowy walkways. Many security workers, groundskeepers, and store clerks can fall victim to wet floors such as in a store with a freshly mopped floor, or a groundskeeper walking around the perimeter of the building.
3) Fall to Lower Level
Falls to a lower level typically happen when a worker falls off a ladder, a roof, or falls down a flight of stairs. Roofers falling from a roof, construction workers slipping off a multi-level workspace, and teachers falling down stairs are all instances of falling to lower levels.
4) Bodily Reaction
A bodily reaction injury may occur when one trips or slips, avoids falling, but still sustains an injury such as a twisted or sprained ankle. This can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time. Most commonly this is seen in police officers and nurses.
5) Struck by Object
While very plain, this injury occurs most commonly when something falls off a shelf, or things are dropped by another worker onto a lower level. Office workers, along with restaurant & retail workers are all in danger of being struck by something.
6) Struck Against an Object
This injury occurs when an individual falls into something, or is physically forced into something such as a bookshelf, barricade, or other stationary object. Office workers and factory workers can easily become a victim of falling into something.
7) Highway Incident
Especially in the cases of truck drivers, one of the top causes of injury is an accident while driving (for business purposes) on the roadway. This is also a common occurrence for traveling business representatives and police officers.
8) Machinery Accidents
Machinery accidents are typically reported in cases where large, heavy machinery has injured a worker by crushing or mutilating. Most commonly seen in factories or construction workers, these accidents can have huge medical cost ramifications. Many states have enacted laws that require training for employees before allowing them to operate equipment, along with maintenance requirements for machinery to keep it in a safe working state. Keeping employees knowledgeable on equipment, along with keeping that equipment maintained are two important factors in protecting employees from injury.
9) Repetitive Motion
A repetitive injury is hard to pin-point, but is harder to prove. These injuries stem from workers doing the same motions over and over. Some examples of repetitive motion injuries can include using a mouse, sitting, lifting boxes, and working on an assembly line. Medically speaking, common injuries from repetitive or cumulative motions are tendonitis, carpal tunnel, and bursitis.
10) Workplace violence
According to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “375 workers were killed in shootings while on the job in 2012. Robbers were the assailants in 33 percent of the workplace homicides involving shootings in 2012, while coworkers accounted for 13 percent. There were two incidents in 2012 where at least 5 people were killed in workplace shootings; a total of 12 workers died in these two incidents. From 1992 to 2012, 140 government workers were shot and killed by a coworker while on the job.” While nobody expects violence in the workplace, it does happen.
There are four positions that make up 20% of the total number of injuries: Police/Security officers, Nursing Aides/Orderlies/Attendants, Janitors/Cleaners, and Tractor-Trailer/Heavy Truck drivers. Due to the high physical activity required by these positions, along with the exposure to dangerous situations, these jobs are considered some of the highest risk positions for injuries.

 
For more information on Workers Compensation Insurance contact us today. Tri County will customize a policy that is right for you.


What Is Liability Car Insurance and Why Do You Need It?

06/02/2016 | No Comments

Auto liability insurance provides coverage for costs you are legally required to pay if you cause an accident, injury or property damage. If you are uninsured or underinsured, the costs associated with an injured party’s liability claim will come out of your pocket. To ensure that liable parties have the legal means to pay, every state in the U.S. has a minimum liability insurance requirement for drivers.

Whether the driver harms a passenger, a driver, a pedestrian, or a person’s property – and whether it is due to running a light, driving aggressively, or falling asleep behind the wheel – that driver may be found responsible for that accident.

Who Is Responsible for Accidents?
By some estimates, distracted drivers cause 80% of accidents
18% of drivers say they regularly send or receive text messages while driving
36% of adult drivers report that they have read maps while driving
41% of drivers have set or changed a GPS system while driving, and 21% do so frequently
What Is Liability Insurance?
Liability is defined simply as legal responsibility for one’s acts or omissions. Liability insurance can cover people for things they neglect to do in addition to mistakes they make. With regard to car insurance, liability is nearly always associated with a driver’s actions. If you cause an accident, whether by driving aggressively, running a red light or not paying attention, you are responsible – or liable – for that accident.

What Does Vehicle Liability Insurance Cover?
If you cause an accident or cause injury to another person or their property with your vehicle, your liability insurance will help to cover your legal obligation, up to the limits of your policy.
There are two types of legal obligation:

Bodily injury liability: If you cause an accident that harms another person, your liability coverage would pay for “pain and suffering” claims, medical expenses including hospitalization and surgery and even lost wages for the injured parties, up to your policy limits. Bodily injury liability typically has two limits: one for each person injured, and one for the total injury costs of the accident.
Property damage liability: If you cause an accident that damages or destroys another person’s car or truck, your liability insurance would pay for the repairs to the other driver’s vehicle, up to your property damage limit. Likewise, if you run into a building or drive into a hedge, your property damage liability coverage will cover the costs of replacing or repairing the damaged items.
Liability insurance also helps to cover the costs of lawsuits arising from an accident. For example, if an injured driver or passenger files a lawsuit against you, your liability insurance would help to pay for your legal defense. Note that you will likely need legal defense in court whether or not you are found at fault for the damages.

Costs of Liability Insurance
The cost of your car insurance liability coverage will depend on a number of factors, including:

Your state. Each state has a different requirement for minimum liability insurance.
Your home and work. Where you live, drive and work makes a difference. A five-mile commute means that you probably will not risk as many accidents as someone with a longer drive. Living or working in a high-crime neighborhood can make you statistically more likely to be the victim of theft or vandalism.
Your driver profile. Your age and driving history are also taken into consideration with liability insurance. Statistically speaking, younger drivers are more likely to be in a serious accident. Motorists with a history of collisions and traffic violations are typically viewed by insurance companies as more likely to be in another wreck.
Liability Car Insurance Premium Limits
Your auto liability insurance coverage will typically have three limits: bodily injury for each person, bodily injury for all persons involved, and property damage. Your insurance company will pay up to that established limit. If costs exceed your limit, you will have to pay out of pocket.
If you have a 30/60/15 policy, this means your insurance company will pay up to $30,000 for one person’s bodily injury costs, up to $60,000 for all bodily injuries in the accident, and up to $15,000 for property damage.

Note that some insurance companies issue “single limit” liability policies, instead of split limit policies. A single limit policy would cover the costs of injuries and property damages together, up to the total limit. For example, a 300 policy would cover $300,000 of bodily injury and property damage liability combined after an accident.
Car Insurance Liability Example
If you cause a crash in which people are injured and the other vehicle is damaged or totaled, here is how your insurance would pay the costs if you have a 30/60/15 split limit policy:

Your liability insurance would pay up to $30,000 for any one injured person, including hospitalization, treatment and lost wages
It would pay up to $60,000 for all injury costs if multiple people have been injured
It would pay up to $15,000 for all property damage you cause
If the total costs of the accident amount to $100,000 for all injuries and lost wages, and $20,000 in property damage, the out-of-pocket costs you would be responsible to pay would be:

$40,000 in bodily injury costs
$5,000 in property damage costs
Totaling $45,000 out of pocket
Unfortunately, many people purchase only the minimum liability coverage required by their state, leaving them exposed to enormous expenses if they cause an accident. Be sure to talk with your agent about the appropriate amount of liability coverage for your financial protection.

You may also want to consider an “umbrella policy.” which can provide excess liability coverage that can protect you if your legal responsibility in an accident far exceeds your auto liability coverage limits.

Example of a Liability Car Insurance Claim
Based on your policy, you would have to pay $45,000 in out-of-pocket costs to cover your legal responsibility.

Get More Protection with an Umbrella Policy
An umbrella policy provides additional coverage beyond what you might foresee having to pay in accident and injury expenses. Umbrella liability kicks in when you have used up your auto liability coverage. Umbrella policies begin at $1 million in coverage.
Consider an example where you cause and accident and you owe $480,000 in damages, but your coverage is only $300,000. If you have an umbrella policy with a limit of $1,000,000, your policy would kick in once your liability coverage is exhausted. Instead of owing $180,000, you would use your umbrella coverage to pay that amount. This means no out-of-pocket costs to you, other than your policy’s deductible.

With increased healthcare costs and legal fees associated with lawsuits, umbrella policies are becoming increasingly important. Many drivers choose only the minimum liability coverage required by the state, leaving them vulnerable to additional out-of-pockets expenses when an accident occurs.

When you compare liability car insurance quotes, be sure to talk with your independent agent about how you can get the full protection needed to safeguard your financial wellbeing.

The Risks of Online Quotes and Coverage

Instant online quotes are made to be simple. Enter a few personal details, get a quote and choose a new insurance plan. But will you have the right protection when an accident happens — whether you or the other driver is at fault? Too often drivers discover the insurance plan they bought online does not cover their needs until it is too late.

Use online quotes to compare rates, but when you are ready to buy, talk to an agent. A local independent agent in the Trusted Choice network will work with you to compare plans from several auto insurance carriers, and help to ensure that you get the best policy for you at an affordable price. Get started with a quote now.


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