Summer Travel Safety and your Vehicle

Along with summer come road trips in your vehicle. Whether you’re headed out of town for a long weekend or a weeklong trip to the shore, one thing’s for certain: you must make sure that your vehicle is in good working condition. A tip-top vehicle will protect you and your passengers, and may also protect your auto insurance rates.

Before you back out of the driveway, here are some of things you may want to pay particular attention to when it comes to your vehicle safety:

  • Tires – Your tires are the only thing that’s making contact with the road when you’re driving, so it only makes sense to give your tires a moment of your time. Before embarking on any kind of trip, head to your local tire shop and make sure that your tires are properly inflated and that you have an adequate amount of tread left on the tires. In addition, you may also want to make sure that your tires are properly aligned so that they will wear properly. Before checking the pressure of your tires, allow them to cool off, as hot air will expand inside your tires causing an increase in tire pressure.
  • Fluids – Check all of the fluids in your vehicle before embarking on a road trip, or have them checked by an auto repair shop. A lack of oil can result in a seized engine, and a lack of coolant can cause a car to quickly overheat on a hot day. In short, ignoring the fluids in your vehicle will likely give you a quick trip to the side of the road with a broken down car.
  • Battery – Extreme heat can cause additional strain on your car’s battery. Therefore, if your vehicle is more than three years old it is probably best to get a new battery before heading out on a road trip.
  • Wiper blades – It may seem quite insignificant, but worn wiper blades can cause big problems if you’re caught driving in inclement weather. If you want to protect yourself, your passengers and other motorists, and protect your auto insurance rates, as well, make sure to change out your old wiper blades with new ones before leaving on a summer road trip.
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How to Achieve Affordable Life Insurance Premiums

If you are struggling to pay your life insurance premiums, and are even considering dropping your life insurance to save a few bucks each month, take a moment to reconsider your decision. Life insurance is essential for most individuals who will leave behind loved ones and family members. Although paying for life insurance may be inconvenient at best, keep your eye on your ultimate goal of providing a financial gift to your loved ones in the event of your death.

In the meantime, you will want to examine the many ways that you can keep your life insurance benefits while saving money at the same time:

  • If money is a big issue, you may want to choose term life insurance over whole life insurance. Term life insurance premiums are generally much less expensive than whole life insurance policies, yet provide individuals with the protection they are looking for in the short term.
  • Look for no-load life insurance policies, as they usually have fewer fees built into them.  These fees can often be quite expensive; therefore, much of your premium may go towards paying off the fees instead of going towards you.
  • Look online for life insurance deals. There are many websites that are able to provide you with quotes for life insurance. In addition, websites may also be quite helpful when researching your life insurance options. In short, the Internet is a great resource for shopping for life insurance.
  • Take the time to decide how much life insurance you actually need. You may be getting socked with high life insurance premiums because you simply took out too much life insurance. There are a slew of great online calculators that will help you determine how much life insurance you need so that you are not taking out too much – or too little – life insurance.
  • Get healthy and watch your life insurance premiums drop. Losing a few pounds, quitting smoking and dropping your cholesterol numbers all go a long way when speaking of life insurance premiums.
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Summer Safety Tips for the Home

For the safety of your family and for the sake of your homeowner’s insurance rates, it is important to understand that summertime can bring with it a set of dangers.

As the mercury begins to rise, so do the chances of outdoor accidents and injuries. Therefore, if you want to reduce the chances of accident or injury and you want to reduce the risk of loss to your home, then it is vital that you take a moment or two to examine your home this summer, before the first barbecue begins:

  • Deck safety – Check the overall safety and stability of the deck; if it is more than a few years old, consider bringing a deck contractor over to examine the deck for safety. In addition, check for any loose or protruding boards, any protruding nails and wobbly or loose railings.
  • Swimming pool safety – Safety should be your first concern when dealing with your swimming pool. In particular, it is important to make sure all safety equipment with your swimming pool is in working order. Make sure the gates and fencing is secured; that any electronic pool safety equipment is in working order; and that all locks are working.
  • Window safety – Warmer weather often means open windows, so it is important to make sure that locks are in good working order and that the screens are free of holes and fit snugly in the window opening. If you have small children, install window locks to prevent falls. Remember that screens alone cannot prevent falls from windows, so invest in good window locks if you have small children.
  • Swing set safety – Is your swing set and recreational equipment in good working order? Check for rusty or loose bolts and make sure that there is sufficient padding underfoot.
  • Walkway, driveway and patio safety  - Make sure that all concrete, brick and flagstone patios, driveways and walkways are free of obstructions that could cause trip-and-fall accidents. Repair any cracks, holes or other areas that could cause problems and remove any debris or other items that could create hazards.
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The Top Five Things you need to Know about Life Insurance

Life insurance is the ultimate way to plan for the financial well being of your family upon your death. Most of us realize the importance of life insurance, but many of us fail to really understand the ins and outs of purchasing a life insurance policy.

With that said, there are a few things every person should know about life insurance before purchasing it. Here’s our top five:

  1. Life insurance products, like any other type of consumer good, vary significantly when it comes to price and coverage. Therefore, it is always best to shop around for the best policy and the best price. Don’t assume that premiums for similar life insurance products will be similar. Instead, take the time to research your options when it comes to life insurance. Your best bet: start your research on the Internet, as you can find many websites that compare life insurance products, side by side, for easy, one-stop shopping.
  2. Don’t make the mistake or underinsuring or overinsuring yourself. Getting the appropriate amount of life insurance is crucial; have too little life insurance and you risk leaving your loved ones with more debt than they can afford to pay off; have too much life insurance and you could be paying sky-high premiums that you may not be able to afford.
  3. Don’t hold off purchasing life insurance until you get older. Life insurance rates for healthy, young adults are rock bottom; wait just a few years and you can be sure that your premiums will be considerably higher. Why not purchase life insurance now and lock in low rates?
  4. Don’t just buy life insurance and forget about it. The life insurance product you choose today may not suit you in the future. Therefore, it is best to review you life insurance protection at least on an annual basis to ensure that the life insurance you have best suits your budget and your lifestyle.
  5. Don’t assume that the life insurance offered by your employer is adequate. Consider what would happen if you lost your job tomorrow; would your family still be protected by some kind of life insurance product? Also, consider the amount of your employer-based life insurance product; chances are that it is not significant enough to care for your family in the event of your death.
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Your Travel Insurance Checklist

Bags packed? Check. Dog dropped off at the kennel? Check. Travel insurance in place? Check?

If you think you are properly prepared for your next extended holiday, but you don’t have adequate travel insurance in place, think again.

From volcanic dust disrupting air travel to earthquakes rocking nearly every corner of the world, travel as of late has been challenging, to say the least. Therefore, the next holiday you plan may go awry. The question is: are you prepared for the worst?

Don’t let your summer getaway turn into a financial nightmare because the unexpected happened.

Instead, make the process of purchasing travel insurance just as important as packing your clothes. Hopefully you won’t need it; but maybe you might.

Although a weekend getaway probably won’t warrant the purchase of travel insurance, any extended vacation, travel abroad or any expensive vacation should have a good travel insurance policy attached to it.

When purchasing travel insurance, here is a quick checklist to make sure you are on track when it comes to travel insurance:

  1. Check to see if you have travel insurance through your credit card, health insurance plan or auto insurance plan. If you do have travel insurance coverage, make sure it is adequate for your needs; otherwise, it is best to purchase additional travel insurance to fully cover you while on holiday.
  2. Don’t assume that all travel insurance offers the same coverage at the same price. Instead, shop around and compare prices and coverage through several different companies to make sure that the product you choose best suits your needs and your budget.
  3. Make sure your travel insurance covers trip cancellation, health insurance (especially good when traveling abroad or when taking a cruise) and financial loss. Although your travel insurance policy will differ depending on the type of travel, the destination and the length of your travel, you should always make sure that your policy covers the abovementioned areas. Keep in mind that travel insurance may also cover baggage loss, weather problems and acts of terrorism.
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Does your Auto Insurance Provide Coverage for a Rental Car?

It is the age-old debate: do you really need to purchase car rental insurance?

Many people, unsure about whether their car insurance will cover rental cars, also purchase rental car insurance. However, this may result in duplicate coverage and a waste of money.

The problem lies with the fact that many people simply don’t know the extent of their auto insurance coverage. In fact, a current study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that nearly 42 percent of motorists were confused about the extent of their auto insurance coverage when renting a car. Another 24 percent of people who own credit cards were unsure of the rental car coverage through their credit card.

The best rule of thumb when renting a car is to research your current coverage (if any) that exists either with your auto insurance or with your credit card. Ask about the extent of the coverage when talking with your insurance agent or credit card company and ask about any limitations. Keep in mind that benefits vary greatly from one credit card and insurance company to the next, so never assume that because you have a similar credit card that the coverage will be the same.

The two most important factors to consider when talking of rental car insurance is liability and a collision damage waiver. If you don’t have this coverage, either through your credit card or insurance company, then it is usually best to purchase rental car insurance.

Collision Damage Waiver

The collision damage waiver, sometimes referred to as a loss damage waiver, covers your rental car expenses in the event of theft or damage. It is important to understand that many times your auto insurance will be the primary insurance in the event of an accident, with the credit card being the secondary coverage. In other words, a collision damage waiver through your credit card company will supplement your primary auto insurance, in most cases.

There is an exception to this, provided you take out the extra insurance through your credit card. Premium Car Rental Protection from American Express, for example, provides primary coverage for cardholders, thereby protecting their auto insurance policy from increased premiums in the event of an accident.

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Your Permanent Life Insurance Options

You may be interested in permanent life insurance, but quite confused about all of your options. If so, then you’re not alone. There are quite a bit of options when it comes to permanent life insurance.

Some individuals take out permanent life insurance policies because of the death benefits associated with them, while others take them out to build cash value. Whatever your reasons for taking out a permanent life insurance policy or your financial goals, here are your options:

  • Whole Life Insurance - Whole life insurance is the most popular type of permanent life insurance, as the contracts pays dividend from the issuing company, while cash value grows at the same time. The dividends paid out by the issuing company are produced when the company invests the premium dollars.
  • Universal Life Insurance – Universal life insurance is a bit different from whole life insurance, as it features a term insurance component. However, a universal life insurance policy also has a cash component, thereby allowing an individual to use the policy as an investment. The cash earned in a universal life insurance product is similar to that of a bond investment.
  • Variable Universal Life Insurance – A variable universal life insurance product is similar to a universal life insurance product; however, the owner of the account can choose from several sub account and asset allocation. A variable universal life insurance policy is subject to the risks of the market, though, which therefore either increases or decreases the cash available on the policy at any given time. Many individuals choose variable universal life insurance policies as a supplement to retirement income.

Individuals usually decide which type of permanent life insurance is best for them based on cost. Term insurance, for example, is usually chosen first because it is inexpensive. However, individuals may also consider permanent life insurance because of the accumulation of cash over time.  A permanent life insurance policy will remain in effect for your lifetime, provided you meet your financial obligations, whereas a term policy is for a specific length of time.

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Exploring Auto Insurance Discounts

Do you really know about auto insurance discounts?

Many individuals assume that a clean driving record is all that is necessary to achieve auto insurance discounts. However, there are a number of things that can help many motorists achieve lower rates; all it takes it a bit of research and a bit of your time to take advantage of these discounts.

In fact, auto insurance discounts can save you as much as 20 percent on your auto insurance policy, even before you factor in your driving record.

Here is our list of key discounts you may qualify for:

  • Ticket-free Discount- In addition to a clean driving record, you should also consider your tickets and other parking violations. Many motorists assume that they can achieve low auto insurance rates because they are free of moving violations; however, parking tickets may also tarnish your driving record and disqualify you from an accident-free auto insurance discount. Check out your state’s discounts for drivers with clean driving records; you can save as much as 30 percent!
  • Good Student Discount – If you have a teenage driver, you may be quite apprehensive about paying the hefty auto insurance rates that come along with insuring a teenage driver. However, there are a few factors that you may want to consider when thinking of auto insurance discounts. For example, you auto insurer may offer you a nice discount if your teenage driver took an advanced driver course. In addition, many insurance companies offer discounts for teenagers who receive good grades in school; students who receive at least a B average are often eligible for discounts of up to 15 percent.
  • Defensive Driving Discount – If you are a senior and take a defensive driving course you may be eligible to receive a discount of about 5 percent; many of these courses are offered through AARP or you other state governmental agencies.
  • Military Discounts – An individual on active military duty, retired from the military or a member of the National Guard or reserves can receive an auto insurance discount through many different auto insurance companies.
  • Multiple Policy Discount – Purchasing multiple policies through the same company can save you big when it comes to auto insurance. Consider bundling your policies through the same insurance company (home, auto, life, etc.) and ask about the savings you will enjoy.
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The Importance of Life Insurance for your Business

Most of us think about life insurance for personal reasons. We want adequate life insurance policies to protect our families and loved ones in the even of our death, and rightly so. However, have you considered the importance of life insurance to protect your business?

Life insurance for your business can protect the business itself, your partners, your family, your employees, and even your customers.

Consider your Business’ Key People

Both small and mid-sized businesses can benefits from life insurance and, as a result, many companies are taking out policies on the owners, partners and key employees of the business. Known in the industry as “key people,” these people are vital to the operations and success of the business. If there is an individual who is instrumental to the success of the business then you should consider life insurance for him or her.

Proper life insurance for a business can provide financial protection, risk management and asset protection, among other things.

Life insurance for a business can solve a myriad of problems: it can keep the business operating in the event of the owner’ death; it can buy out a partner’s share in the business from the family of the deceased; and it can help buoy along the business until a replacement has been found in the event of the death of a key employee.

Preventing the Interruption of a Business

The ultimate goal of a life insurance policy for a business is to eliminate financial interruption. It will ensure that the rent or mortgage continues to be paid, bills and invoices continue to be paid, employees continue to be paid and ordering and other operational activities continue.

One of the biggest questions you should ask yourself when taking out a life insurance policy on a key employee (or yourself) is: how much would I need to keep my business running? What would it cost to replace that key person?

In short, life insurance for a business can help prevent the interruption of a business in the event of a key person’s death. If you have doubts about the survival of your business should a key member of your business die, then you owe it to yourself to consider a comprehensive life insurance policy.

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Does your Auto Insurance Provide Coverage for a Rental Car?

It is the age-old debate: do you really need to purchase car rental insurance?

Many people, unsure about whether their car insurance will cover rental cars, also purchase rental car insurance. However, this may result in duplicate coverage and a waste of money.

The problem lies with the fact that many people simply don’t know the extent of their auto insurance coverage. In fact, a current study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that nearly 42 percent of motorists were confused about the extent of their auto insurance coverage when renting a car. Another 24 percent of people who own credit cards were unsure of the rental car coverage through their credit card.

The best rule of thumb when renting a car is to research your current coverage (if any) that exists either with your auto insurance or with your credit card. Ask about the extent of the coverage when talking with your insurance agent or credit card company and ask about any limitations. Keep in mind that benefits vary greatly from one credit card and insurance company to the next, so never assume that because you have a similar credit card that the coverage will be the same.

The two most important factors to consider when talking of rental car insurance is liability and a collision damage waiver. If you don’t have this coverage, either through your credit card or insurance company, then it is usually best to purchase rental car insurance.

Collision Damage Waiver

The collision damage waiver, sometimes referred to as a loss damage waiver, covers your rental car expenses in the event of theft or damage. It is important to understand that many times your auto insurance will be the primary insurance in the event of an accident, with the credit card being the secondary coverage. In other words, a collision damage waiver through your credit card company will supplement your primary auto insurance, in most cases.

There is an exception to this, provided you take out the extra insurance through your credit card. Premium Car Rental Protection from American Express, for example, provides primary coverage for cardholders, thereby protecting their auto insurance policy from increased premiums in the event of an accident.

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