Preparing Your Child for College

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A Few Tips for the College-Bound

College is expensive enough without the added cost of unexpected accidents or theft, not covered by your insurance policy.

How does having a child in college raise insurance considerations? The average college student will bring between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of personal property to college — ranging from technology, electronics and textbooks to clothing, furniture and bicycles. Most students will suffer a loss at least once, with the most common cause being theft and the most severe being fire and weather events.

The points below highlight some of the things that you should consider before sending your child to college.

HOMEOWNERS
• Personal Property: Most homeowners policies will cover personal property for up to 10% of your total policy while your child is residing at school (a $100,000 policy equals $10,000 in coverage). Not all types of damage are covered, so read your policy carefully. Some items such as jewelry or expensive electronics, require special coverage. Renters insurance is strongly recommended.
• Liability Coverage: General damage to a dorm room or apartment is not usually covered.
• Documentation: Creating an inventory of the items your child is taking to school is a good idea. Use photographs and keep receipts.

AUTO
• Car Stays Home: Keep your child listed on your auto policy if they will still drive your car while at home on school breaks.
• Car at School: Make sure to notify us if your child will be taking a car away to school. In most cases, if the car is registered to you and listed on your policy, it will be covered.
• Driving a Friend’s Car: Students are generally covered if they are listed on their parent’s policy and are not regularly using the vehicle. The coverage would be secondary. The insurance for the friend’s vehicle would be the primary coverage.
• Discounts: A full-time student meeting certain academic requirements can qualify for a good student discount. Distant student discounts may also be available. Drivers under 21 who have completed driver’s education may also get a discount.

IDENTITY THEFT
The 18-29 year-old age bracket accounts for 24 percent of all identity theft complaints, according to the Federal Trade Commission.  Before sending a child off to college, parents should take time to educate him or her about the potential lasting issues created by identity theft.
The insurer advises students not to carry social security cards or even the social security number. Students should also be wary of peer-to-peer sharing programs at school that create easy, unauthorized access to a computer. The insurer also advises students to avoid sharing credit cards, identification cards or PIN numbers with anyone, even a friend.

UNFORESEEN TRAGEDY
Since most college students are considered dependents, they are covered by their parents’ home and auto policy, which also means their parents can be held responsible for their actions.
For example, if a student hosts a party in a dorm or apartment, the parents could be held responsible for a variety of tragic outcomes. An umbrella policy creates an extra buffer to protect valuable assets like their home. These policies can be purchased for a few hundred dollars to provide coverage for legal judgments that exceed the standard auto or homeowners policy level.

We can walk you through the steps to ensure you have the right coverage. We’re here to help!

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Long Term Care Needs

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With the rising cost of Long Term Care insurance, individuals needing coverage have had to seek other alternatives. Some individuals have decided to roll the dice- to take a chance that they will not need the coverage or if they do, they will have enough money to pay for the care.

Some of those taking a chance, are hoping in some way that the government will provide the coverage, through programs such as Medicaid or other Long Term Care Programs. When the Affordable Care act was passed there was a program for long term care included, however once the program was reviewed and cost analysis were made, the government decided against starting the program. This has left individuals planning for retirement and long term care coverage, to again go back to planning a strategy they can afford.

In 2012 many life insurance companies begin adding into their policies, a rider that could meet the need for some long term care and other critical care needs. The hybrid polices as they are known, allow the insured to access a portion of the death benefits, of their permanent or term policy, for critical care or long term care needs. Events that could allow the insured to access the values in the policy, are typically, terminal illness, chronic illness that would require continuous care over an extended period, such as heart attacks, stroke, and cancer.

Whether you choose a life policy with built in coverage or a stand-alone long term care policy, it’s important to make sure you know the rewards and risk involved. The primary goal of each of these product may be similar, but to better understand the products, it would be best to consult the insurance agent for further explanation of the benefits and how it works.

Choosing the Right Security System

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Choosing a home security system can be a daunting task. It’s a purchase many make only once or twice in a lifetime, so it’s not uncommon for you to be unfamiliar with the process. You know you want to protect your family and home but just exactly what you need to do that might be a mystery. Don’t let the unknown scare you. Here are some quick tips to help you get the right security system for your home.

Selection Tips

Picking the Right Company
When selecting a home security company, it is important to pick one with a history of delivering quality products and reliable service to its customers. To check dependability:
• Make sure the alarm manufacturer is listed with Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
• Request a reference list of current clients you can contact.
• Contact the Better Business Bureau or your local police department to see if they have any knowledge of complaints against a specific provider.
• Ask about the company’s hiring process for employees and if they use a screening process.

Add Fire Protection

When you think home security, you may only think burglar alarm. However, a fire alarm system is just as important. A fire that starts while you’re away from home can result in losses that far surpass those of a break-in. Having a fire alarm built into your home security system will ensure a quick response in the event of a fire, whether you’re home or not.
Monitoring Services
Even the most expensive system is near worthless if no one is watching it. The service that monitors your home is one of the most vital parts of your security system. While 24-hour monitoring should top your list of must-haves, there are several other features that will vary from company to company that you may want to consider.
• System backup: Traditionally, home systems are monitored through your telephone line. This can become a problem if a resourceful criminal cuts your telephone connection before attempting to enter your property. A less sinister scenario could involve a storm knocking out your telephone service. Whatever the case, cellular or radio backups can keep your system online even if all physical lines to your house are down.
• System tests: Obviously, the success of a system hinges on its ability to function properly. Many providers have the ability to test systems remotely to ensure continued functionality. Ask potential providers what types of tests they use and how often they are conducted as well as what is done if an error is discovered.
• Maintenance: Even if a provider can test remotely, your system should be inspected and tested on-site at least once a year. Look for companies that offer annual maintenance as part of your normal cost of service.

Though a home security system may seem like an expensive investment, it could help pay for itself, considering that you may get a discount on your homeowners insurance premium for having a system in place. Check with your broker to see if you qualify for a discount.

Summer Exercise Safety Tips

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While regular exercise is essential for good health, it’s only beneficial if done safely. Follow these precautions to eliminate the danger in warm weather workouts.
• Stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after exercising. Experts recommend drinking 20 ounces of water before exercising and 8 ounces after finishing your workout, with water breaks every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising.
• Choose the right clothing. Wear loose-fitting clothes to allow circulation of air between your skin and the environment.
• Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 half an hour before exercising.
• Moderate your pace. If it’s hotter than usual, cut back on your pace or exposure time. Don’t try to set personal records during the hottest time of the year.

 

Vigorous exercise in hot and humid conditions can lead to heat stress, heat stroke and related complications.
Here are some signs to watch for if you get overheated (courtesy of the American Heart Association)

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

Headaches
Heavy sweating
Cold, moist skin, chills
Dizziness or fainting
Weak or rapid pulse
Muscle cramps
Fast, shallow breathing
Nausea, vomiting or both

Symptoms of heat stroke:

Warm, dry skin with no sweating
Strong and rapid pulse
Confusion and/or unconsciousness
High fever
Throbbing headaches
Nausea, vomiting or both

Take steps to cool down and get medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.