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How Do Auto Insurance Claims Work?

12/11/2014 | No Comments

Most drivers have to file an auto insurance claim at one time or another. The millions of claims processed each year in this country range from the mundane to the catastrophic. You may have experienced anything from a fender-bender to a serious accident. Filing auto insurance claims involves reporting the incident to your insurance agent or insurance carrier so that you can receive compensation for your loss.

How to File Car Accident Insurance Claims

If you are wondering whether your collision claims process will be more difficult to bear than the accident itself, the good news is that filing a claim is usually fairly simple. By following a systematic approach and carefully recording what has happened, you can gather all of the information you need. The following guidelines will help you ensure the process goes smoothly.

1. Check the Accident Scene and Get Emergency Help
Before you and the other driver contact your insurance providers to file automobile insurance claims, get your vehicle to a safe place and make sure everyone is okay.

If anyone is injured, call 911. The most important thing to do is ensure that any medical emergencies are taken care of immediately.

Next, contact the police to report the accident. They will be able to file a report and take down necessary information for your insurance agent.

2. Document Everything
There are many factors that go into a collision, some of which may not have been avoidable. Never admit you caused an accident. Do not blame the other driver either. Often it takes a police officer and/or an insurance adjuster to determine what happened and who is at fault.

The best approach is to document the accident. If possible:

  • Take photos of the damage to all vehicles involved.
  • Photograph the accident scene and any property damage.
  • Take photos of identifiers, such as intersections and addresses.
  • Gather accurate information from other people involved.
  • Take clear pictures of insurance cards, license plates and other identifying information.
  • By documenting the accident, you will be able to help prevent false claims from the other driver or others involved.

 

3. Contact Your Agent
When an accident or theft occurs, it is important to file an auto insurance claim as soon as possible. Have your vehicle information ready, as well as details about what happened.

When you file an accident insurance claim, your agent will ask some basic questions that will ultimately pertain to your auto accident insurance settlement. For example:

  • Was anyone injured?
  • Where is your vehicle?
  • Does it need to be towed?
  • What happened?

Describe what happened as clearly as possible. Provide the police report numbers and insurance information you gathered from anyone else involved. If your car has been taken in for repairs, include the contact information for the repair shop.

In Case of Theft

If you are filing a stolen vehicle claim, describe where and when the theft took place to the best of your ability. Include information on any police investigation, along with the police report number.

In Case of Vandalism

If your car is vandalized, describe the visible damage. Take photos of the vandalism and the crime scene. If you have reported the crime to the police, include the report number.

4. Follow up on Your Claim
When filing auto insurance claims, it is important to follow up. Your agent will work with you to provide details, help complete the claims process and make sure you receive your auto accident insurance settlement if your claim is covered.

Depending on the type of coverage you have, an insurance adjuster will offer a settlement based on the cost of repairs. If your car is considered a total loss, your agent will offer a settlement based on the value of the vehicle before the crash.

Auto accident insurance settlements may take weeks or months to be finalized, in the event of a particularly complicated auto accident. Your agent will go over the entire process and the expected timeline with you. While the settlement is being processed, stay in contact with your agent.

What Does an Insurance Claims Adjuster Do?

A claims adjuster is an employee of the insurance company who investigates accidents and determines what occurred. If the other party is filing a suit against you, the plaintiff’s attorney will also gather the facts in the attempt to make a case.

If an accident does not involve the legal system, the claims adjuster will simply inspect your vehicle, determine the extent of the damage, and report the cost of repairs to your insurance agent. If the car can be repaired, your agent will review your insurance plan to determine what fixes are covered by your policy. If the costs exceed the value of the vehicle, your agent will deem the car a total loss.

Why Good Auto Insurance Matters

There are many different scenarios for how and why auto-related incidents happen. Working with an insurance agent who fully understands the risks you face and helps you to get the right coverage at the right price can bring you peace of mind. Insurance agents can often help to simplify the claims process.

Here are some examples where a helpful agent and the right insurance can make a difference.

  • Collision coverage claims: When it’s not clear who is responsible for an accident, your agent will file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. It may take time for both providers to settle the claim, but your agent will be able to walk you through each step. You can speed up the recovery process by carrying collision coverage, which provides funds for repairs regardless of who caused the accident.
  • Uninsured and underinsured coverage claims: If the other driver is at fault but is not insured, your agent will explain what you need to do. Be prepared in advance with uninsured/underinsured coverage. If an accident is caused by a driver without insurance, this coverage will pay for all or most of the costs.
  • Comprehensive coverage claims: If you hit a deer on the highway, a branch falls on your car during a thunderstorm, or your vehicle is vandalized, you’ll need comprehensive coverage. Also called “other than collision,” comprehensive pays for damage to your property that is not caused by another driver. If the value of your vehicle is quite low, you may not want to carry this coverage. Be sure to talk with your agent.
  • GAP insurance claims: For new cars or leased vehicles, it is important to have protection with GAP insurance. The moment you buy or lease a vehicle, the value of the car quickly depreciates. If your new car is totaled or stolen, your insurance coverage will only pay for the value of the car at the time of the incident. The remaining difference – what you owe on your loan or lease agreement – must be paid. If you have GAP insurance, your policy will cover the difference.
  • Personal injury insurance claims: Personal injury protection (PIP) provides coverage for your own injuries and lost wages following an accident, up to a limit. The policy, also known as MedPay in some states, typically does not take into consideration whether you are at fault for an accident. Several states require PIP, so it is important to check with your local Trusted Choice member agent to ask about your state’s requirements. When you file a personal injury claim, keep in mind the limitations in your policy. Like all other coverage types, PIP has several exclusions and restrictions. It is important to discuss with your agent how the policy works and what it covers.
  • Fraudulent claims: A fraudulent claim may involve exaggerated damages, falsified losses or staging an accident or theft. When you are in an accident with another driver, it is important to be thorough in documenting any damage. This will deter the other driver from filing a fraudulent claim against you. If you believe a claim against you is fraudulent, find out how to report fraud with your agent. You can also contact your state insurance board to report fraud.
  • Claim denial: Was your claim denied? Claim denial can occur for a number of reasons. The most common reason is insufficient coverage. Before you buy a policy, it is vital to review the extent of coverage with your agent. If your claim is denied, discuss what the next steps are with your agent. There is often a denied claims appeal process.

 

If you are unhappy with your insurance provider, it may be time to switch to Tri County Agency of Brick. Not only will you find dedicated service from an agent who knows you by name, but your agent will review your policies carefully to make sure your coverage truly matches your needs.


Preventing Holiday Theft

12/04/2014 | No Comments

 Your Home:

  • Break down all boxes into small pieces and discard them in non-clear trash bags.
  • Keep gifts hidden from view at outside windows.
  • Lock all doors and windows even when leaving the home for a short period of time.
  • Leave spare keys with a neighbor rather than hiding them outside. Burglars are not fooled by your hiding places.
  • Indoor and outdoor lights on an automatic timer should be used whenever possible.
  • When away from your home for an extended period of time, have a neighbor or friend watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
  • Beware of strangers at your door: criminals can pose as couriers delivering gifts or be soliciting donations for fake charitable causes. Ask for identification or information about a charity.

Your Car:

  • Lock all doors and roll up all windows even when leaving the car for a short period of time.
  • Bring gifts into homes with you overnight rather than leaving them in your car.
  • When shopping, keep gifts in the trunk or hidden from view in the interior of the car.
  • Put all of your packages in the trunk before departing one parking lot and driving to another. Waiting until your next shopping destination allows others to see packages go into the trunk of your car and then you departing into the mall or store.
  • Avoid parking next to vans and large trucks that block your space from general vision of others.
  • Make a mental note or write down exactly where you park your car to avoid wandering around longer than necessary.
  • During the day, park away from buildings to reduce the chance of dings from car doors or shopping carts and the likelihood of vandalism.
  • At night, avoid secluded areas and park directly under lights whenever possible.
  • Look underneath your car before you reach it when returning from shopping; criminals have been known to lie underneath in wait.

While Shopping:

  • Use a credit card in order to avoid thefts of large amounts of cash that cannot be replaced.
  • Shopping with a single credit card is preferable—it is easier to cancel one rather than several if your wallet or purse is stolen.
  • Keep purses zipped and in your possession close to your body rather than leaving it in your shopping cart where it is more susceptible to theft.
  • Be sure to keep a reference list of phone and account numbers for all your credit cards in a safe place at home.
  • Try to carry keys, cash and credit cards separate from each other.
  • For freedom of motion and clear visibility, do not overload yourself with packages when leaving a store and returning to your car. You cannot defend yourself with your arms too full of bundles.
  • Use ATMs in well-populated, well-lighted locations. Do not throw ATM receipts away at the ATM location.
  • Remember there is increased safety in numbers. Avoid walking alone and leave malls and stores well before closing time to assure a more active parking lot.

Fry the Turkey, Not the House!

11/20/2014 | No Comments

Thanksgiving is near and visions of fried turkeys already are dancing in more than a few heads.

Yet even as you are salivating, your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent hastens to caution you. The old joke that men love cooking only if it involves flames and danger is not so funny after an accident. Every year too many folks are harmed and homes are burned due to the combination of large pots of hot oil and big turkeys. Your homeowners insurance may respond for the fire damages and your health insurance for the emergency room visit, but is that really the new Thanksgiving tradition you had in mind?

Fried turkey can be a great alternative to traditional oven-roasted fare, but be certain to take into account the much higher risk factors. Use a fryer designed specifically for turkeys, rather than jury-rigging other cooking equipment. Once you have the proper fryer, follow a few tips from the experts that can make the difference between taste sensation and flaming disaster:

  1. Turkey deep fryers should always be placed outdoors, on a flat, preferably concrete surface located a safe distance away from anything combustible. Never use a turkey fryer in the garage, on a wooden deck, or anywhere near the house.
  2. Never leave the fryer unattended. Even after you are finished cooking, do not let pets or children near the unit. The oil in the fryer remains extremely hot for hours after cooking.
  3. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. The best is a Class K wet chemical fire extinguisher. If fire erupts, do not throw water on it. Water cannot extinguish a grease fire and will cause the oil to spatter violently. Use common sense. If the fire is small, use the extinguisher, but dial 911 for emergency assistance before the blaze becomes unmanageable.
  4. Use oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut or canola.
  5. Do not overfill the turkey fryer. If oil spills over?because the turkey is too large or the oil level is too high?flames can engulf the unit and endanger bystanders. Before frying, conduct this test: Put the unseasoned turkey into an empty fryer. Then fill the fryer with water until the turkey is fully submerged. If the turkey fits comfortably, mark the water level. When preparing to cook, dry the fryer thoroughly. Then fill it with oil to an inch shy of your level mark to allow for expansion of the oil as it heats.
  6. Thaw the turkey completely and dry it with paper towels. Injected marinades are fine, but season the turkey skin with a dry rub. Excess water in a partially frozen or wet turkey will cause the pot to bubble over, resulting in a fire hazard. The National Turkey Federation recommends 24 hours of thawing for every five pounds of bird before cooking in a turkey fryer.
  7. Most turkey fryers do not come with a thermostat, and if left unattended may overheat, resulting in combustion. Turkey fryer thermometers and other accessories are available.
  8. Use heavy oven mitts or well-insulated potholders. The lid, handles, and sides of the cooking pot become very hot, posing a severe burn threat. Protective eyewear is also recommended.

 

Your Trusted Choice agent always stands ready to offer advice and a comprehensive review of your current insurance coverage and needs. But when it comes to safety, remember: The best claim is the one you never have to make. Whether you’re tending a deep fryer or waiting on the timer to go off on your oven, be safe this Thanksgiving and holiday season.


Avoid Frozen Pipes this Winter!!!

11/13/2014 | No Comments

Along with maintaining the temperature in your living space, it is important to have sufficient insulation to the areas surrounding water pipes. Insulation helps protect your pipes by blocking the flow of cold air. In attics, you can often find piping close to the ceiling with insulation placed over them. Verify that this insulation is still intact and doing its job. Insulating tape (not electrical tape) can be used to wrap pipes that are lacking insulation in these unheated areas.

The extraordinary cold weather can leave many buildings unable to provide a sufficient amount of heat to the areas surrounding their fire sprinkler systems, which can result in the systems freezing. Ice in sprinkler pipes not only prevents the system from operating correctly in the event of a fire, but it may also cause the pipes to burst and create substantial property damage.


The coverage you want. The savings you need.

11/06/2014 | No Comments

Every day, professionals in a wide range of industries face liability risks, including financial and legal professionals, architects and designers and even health and wellness practitioners. Even so, professional service providers may not recognize the risk of a lawsuit until a client or patient suffers a loss or personal injury. The best way to prepare is by taking preventive action. Investing in professional liability insurance makes sense when you work with clients who pay you for your expertise, knowledge, advice and care.

Tri County Agency of Brick is your local independent agent in the Trusted Choice® network and can compare professional liability insurance quotes from a variety of insurance companies, and ensure you get the right coverage at a competitive rate. Our agents are dedicated to top-quality customer service, which means that we will be there to help you, from your initial inquiry to ongoing assistance. To review coverages and get the help you need to choose the right coverage, contact us today.  tri-countyinsurance.com/generalprofessionalliability 

 


Professional Lawsuit Statistics

  • From 1986 to 2011, the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) collected $6.46 billion from professional liability claims.
  • The FDIC spent $1.77 billion funding professional liability insurance claims and investigations.
  • Since August 8, 2013, the FDIC has approved lawsuits against 122 institutions on behalf of 987 individuals.
  • 52 other lawsuits have been approved involving anything from attorney malpractice to fidelity bond malpractice.
  • In 2012, there were 369 authorized director and officer defendants.

What Is Professional Liability Insurance?

If you are looking for a professional liability insurance definition, you will find that it is slightly different depending upon your profession. For example, a private practice physician’s professional liability coverage will be geared toward the risks of the medical profession, whereas a realtor’s concerns are related to buying and selling homes. However, it is essentially defined as legal protection from “errors and omissions” that may occur as a result of performing professional services. This means it will cover you for mistakes you make as well as your negligence – things you fail to do – that result in a client’s loss.

In practice, it means that if a client claims that your services, advice, or expertise have caused a personal or professional loss, you have insurance that will cover your legal defense and the costs associated with resolving a lawsuit. Litigation can be a drawn-out process that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Professional liability insurance is a reliable way to protect your business assets. If you’re sued, professional liability insurance coverage helps pay for defense costs as well as any settlements or judgments that you must pay.


Who Needs Professional Liability Insurance?

This form of business insurance appears under a variety of names because of the many different types of professions that need this type of coverage. Anyone from a home remodeler to a heart surgeon should consider purchasing professional liability insurance coverage.

A few specific types of this insurance are:

  • Malpractice insurance: This is specifically designed to assist medical professionals accused of negligent behavior or mistakes. Everyone working in the healthcare and medical fields should evaluate whether this is a necessary coverage or not. Even if you are a health professional who is employed within a clinic or hospital that has its own malpractice insurance, it is a good idea to evaluate personal malpractice coverage for your own protection.
  • Errors and omissions liability insurance: Professionals who buy errors and omissions insurance include consultants, lawyers, brokers, financial advisers, real estate agents, architects, designers and even insurance agents. These professions are based on knowledge and advice; those who act on that advice are at risk in one way or another and may deem that the services you provided resulted in injury, damage or loss.
  • Directors’ and officers’ liability insurance: This type of coverage specifically deals with any negligent behavior or errors committed by top ranking company employees.

Others that may want to consider professional liability coverage include engineers, dentists, not for profit organizations, contractors and transportation businesses.


Why Do I Need Professional Liability Insurance?

The most important reason to have the protection of professional liability insurance is unforeseen claims against you. If for any reason a client or patient feels wronged or harmed by your services, you can be at risk of a lawsuit. If you are covered by a reliable professional liability insurance company, and have set a coverage amount that is adequate for the risks you face, your personal assets are protected.

Another important reason why you may need individual professional liability insurance is if you are concerned that your company may not support you during the legal process. For example, if for any reason there is a conflict of interest, your company’s insurance policy won’t provide coverage. The costs of legal defense and possible settlement or judgment may then be taken from your personal financial assets.

If you maintain a standard of excellence within your business operations, you may feel that the extra cost for professional liability insurance isn’t worth the expense. However, service providers are often blindsided by lawsuits can bankrupt them or their company. A member agent in the Trusted Choice network can certainly help you to assess your needs and risks.


Examples of Professional Liability Insurance Claims

Professional liability claims range from simple errors to major snafus. For example:

  • A commercial client hires a design firm to design an office building to specification, including space for specialty equipment and existing office furniture. When the project is complete, the client company discovers that the existing furniture and equipment will not fit into the space, and they must pay an additional $30,000 to retrofit the space. The result is a claim against the design firm.
  • A firm hires a marketing company to produce an ad campaign, and is sued by another corporation for copyright infringement. The client firm, in turn, sues the marketing company for the cost involved in the legal process as well as for damages to their reputation.
  • A real estate agent fails to disclose a known problem or defect in a property, such as a problem with mold or radon. The home buyer learns of the problem after the sale is complete, and sues the agent for not disclosing the problem and for the additional costs involved in remediation.
  • A surgeon removes the wrong kidney; or, the surgeon recommends a surgery which the patient later learns is not beneficial and can even be life threatening.

Find Affordable Professional Liability Insurance

The cost of professional liability coverage will vary widely depending on your profession and your risks. A sole proprietor who installs cabinetry may not face as large of a potential risk as a brain surgeon, but both professions need coverage. Other factors include the frequency of claims in your industry, the size of your company, and whether you’ve had liability claims in the past. Professional liability insurance costs can vary from $500 to $15,000 per year, depending on the type of work you do.

To get an accurate professional liability insurance quote, contact an independent agent in the Trusted Choice network. These agents have access to many insurance companies and can help you compare options and rates to find the best coverage for your needs and budget. Find a member agent today to protect yourself from professional liability claims.


The 2014 Halloween Survival Guide for Parents

10/30/2014 | No Comments

It’s that time of year again. Little ghouls and goblins will be running around the streets soon enough, and you’ll follow behind diligently watching to make sure that they stay safe. It’s usually considered a chore, but this year you can take advantage of a few ideas that will make trick or treating just as much fun for you.

Be the Official Treat Bag Holder

You know you’ll do a little pilfering, anyway. Grab a pillowcase and let your little ones empty their goods as they go. You’ll be doing enough walking to justify a candy bar or two. Besides, you’re basically saving your children from eating far too much junk.

Get a Closer Look at Your Neighbors

Don’t pretend you aren’t curious. Last year they were driving a minivan and now a Porsche sits in the driveway. Get all up in there when you walk your child to the door. Is that new leather furniture on top of that bearskin rug?

Relive the Glory Days

Did you peak in high school? I hope not. Choose a decade when you think you were at your best, then pick a character who meant something to you and relive the glory by dressing up. Are you a Knight Rider kind of guy or was Gilligan more your speed? Did you idolize Farrah Fawcett or was Daisy Duke your choice? Don’t let the kids have all the costume fun.

Commiserate

Find and team up with other parents in your community who will also be schlepping behind their children as they crisscross the neighborhood on the hunt for the house that hands out cans of soda. Together you might be able to use your time productively and plan a block party where kids are not invited.

Steal Landscaping Ideas

Ideas! Not the fall mums that adorn the doorsteps of every house but yours. Check out the yards of people who seem to have all the time in the world. Just because their houses look perfect and their yards coordinate with their house trim doesn’t mean you should help yourself to one of their plants. (But it makes it awfully hard not to.) Ideas, however, are free.

Pranks

Think back to when Halloween was fun and pranks were an important part of a successful Halloween. Did you toilet paper a few trees, smash a few pumpkins? Surely, there is someone in the neighborhood with a good enough sense of humor to get a kick out of this. Otherwise, that perfectly coordinated house might be a good bet.

Follow a few, or all, of these tips and you might find yourself looking forward to Halloween this year. Maybe some of these ideas will soon become traditions for you and your neighbors, and when your kids are grown, you’ll actually be pretty disappointed that there is no reason to go out. I guess there is always the promise of grandkids, right?


National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 19th-25th

10/24/2014 | No Comments

Here are some tips to keep not only teens, but all drivers safe!!

Set essential controls before you back out of your parking spot. (play lists, climate controls, destinations in the GPS)

Manage your time.  Rushing leads to distractions, road rage and taking unnecessary risks.  Leave a few minutes early and arrive to your destination stress-free.

Don’t drive when angry or upset. Pull over to the side of the road if you are too upset to drive.

Never text while driving.  That text or phone call can wait until you pull over.  Always use hands free devices when using your phone in the car.


Home Fire Escape Plans Save Lives

10/09/2014 | No Comments

Fall is officially here, and with it comes the National Fire Protection Agency’s National Fire Prevention Week.  Now is a good time to come up with a fire evacuation plan or review the one your family already has in place.

A small fire can escalate into a major blaze in less than a minute, and a sound escape plan greatly reduces fire-related deaths and protects your family if a fire occurs. Whether you have established an fire evacuation route or are coming up with one now, these are some important safety reminders and instructions you can you use when reviewing or planning your home evacuation plan.

Plan two ways out of every room in your house — this way if one path is blocked by flames or smoke there is an alternate path out. For example, a bedroom door can be the primary escape path and a window the secondary one. If you intend to use an upper-story window as an evacuation option, be sure to store a collapsible ladder in the room in a well-known place. The U.S. Fire Administration advises consumers to only purchase ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.

Practice escaping from the house with a blindfold, in the dark, or with your eyes closed. This will prepare you and your family to navigate through smoke if it is blocking your exit route. Remember to stay low to the ground to avoid the smoke and keep your mouth covered with a piece of clothing, blanket, or towel since the toxic gases from smoke can cause disorientation or fainting.

Make sure doors and windows open easily. Check windows to make sure they are not stuck, and that everyone in the house knows how to open them and remove the screen if necessary. If you have security bars on your windows, check the quick-release device to make sure they can be opened immediately, and practice opening the locks with everyone in the house.

Designate a meeting place that’s away from the house, such as the end of the driveway or a place on the sidewalk. Hold a fire drill to ensure everyone in the house knows where to meet. Also pick someone to be in charge of going to a neighbor’s house and calling 911.

Time is of the essence during a fire, so don’t waste time trying to save property. Remind your family members of this, too, especially children who may want to save their toys. A homeowners policy will help with the replacement cost of your property, and while some items are impossible to replace, they’re not worth a life.

Teach children not to hide or be afraid of firefighters. Remind young kids that firemen will help them in the event of an emergency.

In the event of a fire, check a closed door using the back of your hand to feel the door, doorknob, and the crack between the floor and door frame to make sure the fire is not outside the door. If any of these things feel hot, use the second escape path from the room. If the door is cool, open it slowly and brace your shoulder against the door. If heat and smoke come in, close the door quickly and use the other escape route.

For more information on National Fire Prevention Week or fire safety procedures, visit www.nfpa.org. You can also contact your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent for more information on protecting your family from the flames by obtaining or reviewing your homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.


Live Long and Prosper: 10 Tips for Leading a Healthy Life

10/02/2014 | No Comments

Living a healthy life can be a complicated goal to achieve. There are many different facets of healthy living to tackle, from weight management to mental health. You can find an overwhelming amount of information on the internet, self-help guides, gyms, schools, and doctor’s offices, but what tips do they all have in common? We’ve compiled a list of the ten tips to living a healthy lifestyle that are widely accepted by many sources as “easy wins” for any person.

1. Exercise

The benefits of exercise reach far beyond the physical. Research shows that getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day can help your mental well-being, your stress levels, and even lengthen your life. Unfortunately, less than 21% of adults get the recommended amount of exercise. Even low-impact exercise, such as walking or dancing can be beneficial.

Always discuss implementing a workout plan with your doctor, and be careful not to exhaust yourself as you begin. Be warned that working out is not an immediate cure for any disease. Continued exercise, however, will return benefits.

2. Nutrition

A 2010 study completed by the CDC showed that 69% of adults are overweight. With that statistic in mind, it’s important to keep your weight under control.

Try to make some easy-to-accomplish goals, and enlist a friend or partner to keep you accountable. It’s also a good idea to start a food journal so you can see if there are any common times of day that you crave sweets, or times that you’re eating when you don’t need to. If you keep track of your eating habits, you may be able to change them for the better.

3. Get Control of Your Finances

According to a recent an Associated Press-AOL Health poll, people who say they suffer from high stress due to debt were much more likely to suffer from health problems than those who weren’t dealing with money troubles. Most studies in this field show that low incomes are linked to poor health, high levels of debt, and increased stress. Studies also show that debt can increase the chances of ulcers, digestive tract problems, and migraines.

To start tackling debt, create a budget for yourself and your family, and set reasonable spending limits. There are many free tools available online to help you reach your financial goals.

4. Break Bad Habits

Whether it’s smoking, nail-biting, or binge drinking, bad habits can have unintended consequences. It’s important to face the bad habit head on, and focus your efforts into defeating it. Surround yourself with people who either do not engage in that habit, or have conquered it. You may need to enlist the help of health professionals, from counselors to physicians, but with some help, you can break out of a bad pattern.

5. Carve out Time for Friends and Family

Hanging out with friends is fun, and researchers have discovered that socializing with close friends can cut your risk for memory loss in half. The study also revealed that spending time with friends can increase your chances of staying mobile and being able to cope with life’s challenges by up to 150%. A study from Blisstree.com reported that 36% of people say their nutrition is affected by their friends and family, and 46% said that loved ones make a difference in their lifestyles. It’s increasingly apparent that being a social butterfly can keep you mentally, emotionally, and physically happy.

Being a parent – and spending time with your parents – can also keep you healthy. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that women who gave birth to children were four times less likely to die early from cancer, accidents or circulatory disease.

6. Sleep

Sleeping is your body’s way of healing itself, regenerating cells, and releasing helpful hormones. A study conducted in 2005 found that adults who slept less than seven hours a night were significantly more likely to be overweight. Another study at Harvard linked a lack of sleep to increased risks of colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Individuals 3-18 should get ten hours of sleep. 19-55 year old should get 8 hours of sleep, and those 65 and over should get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is so important that you’ll die from sleep deprivation before you die of starvation. Sleep deprivation is fatal after 10 days, whereas death from starvation occurs at 14 days.

7. Employment

While a job may give you self-esteem, sticking with a job you hate can negatively impact your health. A study published in the Human Relations Journal claimed that individuals who stayed at their jobs out of necessity or obligation had an increased instance of stress, exhaustion, and burnout. A European study also found that individuals that worked over ten hours a day had a 60% chance of heart-related problems vs. those that worked eight hours a day.

8. Physical Health

While men and women age differently, it’s important to keep up with your doctor for regular check-ups. Getting examined by your doctor regularly is the primary way to detect the early signs of cancer, along with other illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or bone diseases like osteoporosis. For example, cervical cancer diagnoses dropped 74% between 1955 and 1992 due to doctors implementing yearly PAP tests.

9. Mental Health

Mental disorders are the primary diagnosis in hospital visits over 63 million times per year. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, mental illness affects 1 in 5 Americans. With mental illness so prevalent in society, it’s important to keep symptoms and signs in mind, and be open an honest with others if you believe you may be suffering from a mental illness.

10. Lend a Hand

Schedule some time dedicated to serving others. Researchers at the London School of Economics examined the connection between volunteering and degrees of happiness in a large group of American adults. The study showed that the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among individuals who volunteered monthly and 12% for people who volunteered every 2-4 weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy.


Is That Covered by Home Insurance? 5 Surprising Facts

09/25/2014 | No Comments

Home insurance policies are designed to protect your personal property and provide reimbursement in the event of damage or loss. Yet, when a claim is filed, many people are surprised to find certain items are excluded from coverage. Likewise, some individuals miss the opportunity to file a claim, not realizing they have experienced a covered loss. Below are five areas that tend to cause confusion in the world of home insurance. Do you know which ones are covered by your current policy? (Hint: Ask your insurance agent if you aren’t sure.)

Business Activities

Typically, home insurance covers only minor losses such as damage or theft of home office equipment. According to Paul Martin, CPCU, another example of a covered loss would be damage caused by your child’s after-school job mowing a neighbor’s grass. Most home insurance policies provide a $2,500 loss limitation for business property such as inventory kept in the home, computer equipment, or a fax machine. Yet, those who store inventory such as Pampered Chef items, for example, know how quickly $2,500 adds up.

Also, don’t count on your home insurance to cover business liability losses. If you’re named in a lawsuit connected to a business that is run out of your residence, home insurance won’t cover any related claims. Regarding business activity conducted in your home, purchasing separate business insurance is the best way to guarantee proper coverage.

Motorized Equipment

Motorized items are typically not covered under home insurance for liability purposes. Recreational equipment such as an ATV used in your own backyard may be covered, but if you take that same ATV off of your property and sustain a loss, it will not fall under your home insurance policy. Until recently, even the small motorized Barbie Jeeps driven by young children were excluded from home insurance, but now they are sometimes explicitly named in newer policies.

Motorcycles and golf carts, along with large motorized watercraft, are additional examples of items that are not automatically covered, although some smaller motorboats and sail boats may be included in coverage. Other watercraft such as canoes and kayaks fall under a loss limitation of $1,500.

Pets

According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one third of homeowners insurance liability claims in 2013, amounting to $483 million in payouts. Most accidents or injuries caused by pets are covered by home insurance unless your policy specifically names a certain breed or size of animal that is excluded. Also, keep in mind that if your dog does bite a human or another dog, it may be excluded from future insurance coverage.

Natural Disasters

Flood insurance is the prime example of a loss not covered by home insurance. Flood insurance is a federally subsidized program which must be purchased separately, and premiums are set by the National Flood Insurance Program. Earthquake insurance is another example of a required separate policy. Although many people in earthquake-prone areas do consider buying this policy, the risk of loss is still present for those living in parts of the country who may suffer from unexpected earthquakes such as the August 2011 event shaking the East Coast. Volcano damage is also generally excluded from coverage, even in limited geographic areas with an elevated risk of this danger.

Which acts of nature are covered? Hail, wind storms, tornadoes and wildfires are generally included in home insurance policies. Hurricane damage is covered under home insurance as well, except for flood-related damage stemming from these large storms.

Musical Instruments

Musical instruments, like many other high-value items, fall under a theft loss limitation for home insurance purposes and require a separate rider or policy to guarantee full replacement cost. Otherwise, the $2,000 piccolo that your musically gifted child plays may not return your full investment if he or she drops and breaks it. The same rules apply for firearms, jewelry, silverware and other high value collectible items.

Borrowed Items

One final instance of insurance protection which causes confusion involves borrowed items. If you borrow an expensive item from your neighbor, such as a high-powered snow blower, and it breaks under your care, you may be liable. Even though the incident occurred on your property, home insurance will not cover any related claims, so you may need to personally bear the cost of replacing your neighbor’s equipment.

If you have questions about personal property items which may or may not be covered by insurance, a Trusted Choice agent can help. Trusted Choice® independent agents work for consumers, not a large parent company, and they are happy to assist you by writing a policy tailored to meet your individual insurance needs.


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