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Standard Claim vs. Catastrophic Claim: What is the Difference?

Catastrophic Claims arise from a large scale event such as a natural disaster (Tornado, Strong Winds, Hailstorm, Flood, etc.) that causes a spike in the amount of claims that is normally turned in. When this happens, it requires more adjusters to be assigned to an area to be able to complete the appropriate adjustments in a timely manner.

Not only do more claim adjusters get assigned to work in the community, it is classified differently within your underwriting score.

Daily claims, on the other hand, are claims arising from losses that happen every day in every community throughout the country, but are not associated with a catastrophe; a pipe leak, a kitchen fire, a slip on a wet floor in a grocery store and a back strained on the job are all examples.


Sun Protection and Why it is Important

With us being in the dog days of summer, it’s easy to forget how the sun can damage our skin and create problems for us as we get older. Here are a few reasons why you should wear sunscreen while out and about during the day.

  1. It lowers your risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. By using sunscreen daily (or when your in the sun for awhile), you can cut your chances of skin cancer in half.
  2. Prevents Premature aging. UV rays cause photo-aging of the skin. Which is a characterized by a thick, leathery look, and a breakdown of collagen which contributes to lines, sagging and wrinkles.
  3. Helps maintain a even skin tone and helps reduce dark spots.

Different dermatologists say that you should at least wear a 15 SPF, while others say you should not wear anything less than 30 SPF. Use good judgment because only you know your skin.  

So, take the couple of mins that it may take to apply sun screen to protect your skin today, and to help keep it healthy in the future.


New Illinois Phone Law Behind the Wheel

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the new law to take effect today, July 1st – and it is not just aimed at those who text behind the wheel. With the new restrictions, something as simple as changing the song on your phone at a stop sign, or using a GPS, could land you a hefty fine.

In the past, a first time offense for distracted driving would cost you $75 and would not go on your record. But now, a first offense could cost you nearly $160 and will remain on your record. Meaning the fine more than doubled. After three violations, a judge could suspend you driver’s license.

The ban is not limited to cellphones. It includes any electronic communication device, including hand-held personal digital assistant devices, tablets or laptop computers, etc. Exceptions are if you’re reporting an emergency or if you’re parked on the shoulder of a road.

This law was established to encourage safe driving always. Please stay safe and use your electronic devices later.


Motorcycle Safety

As the weather is starting to get warmer out, we start seeing motorcycles out again on the roadway. Here are some things to remember.

  1. Take an extra minute to look for motorcycles whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.
  2. Because of its size, motorcycles may look farther away than it is. When checking traffic, predict a motorcycle is closer than it may look.
  3. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle.
  4. Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle.
  5. As a motorcyclist, try to position your motorcycle in a place to avoid blind spots of passenger cars.

Most importantly always be aware of your surroundings and be a defensive driver. Always be cautious of what others may be doing on the road way. Let’s all have a safe and enjoyable motorcycle season.


Spring Tips & What to do Around Your Home

With spring around the corner and the temps starting to get warmer (let’s hope that is sooner rather than later), here are some items to look for when you’re starting to do things around your home.

Check Your Outdoor Spicket– The first time that you turn your outdoor spicket on, make sure that it didn’t bust over the winter months. You will only notice this in your basement if it did bust. Water will not come out of the hose, but rather into your basement.

Gutter Maintenance– Be sure to clean your gutters again, items can get into them, clog them up, and then that water running off your roof can pool into the gutter, and one of two things will happen. One, it can start to seep into the walls of your home, or it can start to weigh too much damage to your fascia, and eventually fall completely off your home. What is a fascia you ask? A fascia is an architectural term for a vertical frieze or band under a roof edge.

Also while on gutters, make sure that your downspouts are free of any debris and water is flowing away from the home.

Clean Your Duct Work– It could also be a good time to get your duct work cleaned out for your heating and air conditioning system. By cleaning your duct work you will be living in a cleaner environment, reducing allergens and irritants, you will remove unpleasant smells and odors, and last but not least you will be improving the air flow efficiency.

Deck/Dock Maintenance– On decks and docks, make sure you have no loose boards or missing fasteners, hardware, or bolts. Freezing temps can cause havoc on decks and docks.

Clean Your Roof– Have your roof and cleaned. The discoloration on your roof is caused by algae that feeds off of limestone in in your asphalt roof shingles. This can certainly affect the lifespan of your roof shingles.

Clean Your Siding– Many homeowners live under the impression that the only way to clean vinyl is with a pressure washer, and in turn they live within dirty walls. While a pressure washer can be the simplest solution, it’s not necessarily the most effective, or the most reasonable. You can always use water, vinegar and a brush to clean your siding by hand. Cleaning your siding helps to protect your house from different contaminants. These are not only harmful on the outside of your house but can be just as harmful on the inside.


How to Document Home Inventory

The best way to correctly sort your home inventory is to separate your items by price. Make sure you especially add everything that is $2500 and above such as jewelry, guns, and cameras. If you have many items in that price range you may want to look into a personal article policy within your homeowner’s policy. There is different information needed for different items, such as jewelry. For jewelry, you will need to either go get it appraised and bring in the appraisal papers that will include dimensions of a diamond and a monetary value of each item, or if it is a newer purchase within the last two years, you can bring in the original documents of the purchase and purchase price and we can get it added in that way. For guns, we will need the make, model, and serial number.

For the rest of the house, we recommend taking pictures of each room, and include close ups of your more expensive items that aren’t listed on your personal article policy and send it to us. This will help out if a loss is to occur such as a fire or a theft. That way we will have pictures of what you had and it will help during any claim process.


What You Should Know About Life Insurance

If anyone relies on you financially, you need life insurance. It’s virtually obligatory if you are a spouse or the parent of dependent children. But you may also require life insurance if you are someone’s ex-spouse, life partner, a child of dependent parents, the sibling of a dependent adult, an employee, an employer or a business partner.

Life insurance does not simply apply a monetary value to someone’s life. Instead, it helps compensate for the inevitable financial consequences that accompany the loss of life. Strategically, it helps those left behind cover the costs of final expenses, outstanding debts and mortgages, planned educational expenses and lost income.

Life insurance is a contract (called a policy). A policy is a contract between a life insurance company and someone (or occasionally something, like a trust) who has a financial interest in the life and livelihood of someone else. The insurance company pools the premiums of policyholders and pays out claims—called a death benefit—in the event of a death.

There are two broad varieties of life insurance about which you should become aware—term and permanentTerm life is the simplest, the least expensive and the most widely applicable. With term life, a life insurance company bases the policy premium on the probability that the insured will die within a stated term—typically 10, 20 or 30 years. The premiums are guaranteed for the length of the term, after which the policy becomes cost-prohibitive to maintain or you decide to let it lapse. Yes, this means that you may very well pay premiums for decades and “get nothing out of it.” But that’s good news, because it means you’re winning at the game of life.

Permanent life insurance includes this same probability-of-death calculus, but also includes a savings mechanism. This mechanism, which is often referred to as “cash value,” is designed to help the policy exist into perpetuity. Whole life—the original—has an investment component much like bonds or CDs (but backed by the insurance company). Variable life offers investment options more like mutual funds. Universal life was designed as a less expensive permanent life insurance alternative with added flexibility, but increased interest rate risk for the owner. Although they tend to be more complex and expensive, there are financial dilemmas—often related to business planning and/or high-net-worth estate planning—for which permanent life insurance may be the only solution. There are a few select instances where permanent policies are engineered to maximize the tax-privileged growth of cash value. They are, however, only appropriate for a small number of people and still dependent on numerous other factors to work the way they’re intended.


5 Tips When Buying Home Owners Insurance

We understand that it can be a bit overwhelming when your making a decision on which home owner’s insurance to buy, along with choosing which benefits to add. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of 5 things you should keep in mind when buying home owners insurance, including some tips to save you money.

  1. Maintain A Security System. Installing a security system that is monitored by a central station or tied to the local police station could get you up to 5% or more of a discount.
  2. Install Additional Smoke Alarms. Installing additional smoke alarms could save you up to 10% or more with some insurance companies.
  3. Raise Your Deductible. Raising the deductible will bring the premium down. If you have a small claim it may be better to absorb the cost yourself rather than submit to you insurance company. Small claims can impact your premium for years. I you can afford to fix it yourself, do so.
  4. Review Your Policy. You should review your policy once a year and compare it with rates of other companies. Note any changes that may have happened such as adding smoke alarms, security alarm, sprinklers. If you had a trampoline and took it down, that would lower your rate or open you up to different companies that may not have accepted your risk with it on your property. Changes in you neighborhood such as a new fire hydrant within 100 feet of your home could affect your rates as well.
  5. Guaranteed Replacement Value Insurance. You should always have your home insured for replacement coast. In the event your home is destroyed in a disaster. Your home will be rebuilt no matter the coast. Coast of building a new home has a tendency to go up over the years. It will cost more to rebuild your home than it did when it was originally built.

Have any questions? Ready to buy your insurance? Contact us!

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Save Money with Paperless Billing

Every month you get all your bills in the mail and they just create clutter on your kitchen table. They just lay around, or even worse – You lose them. Then when it comes time to pay them, you can’t seem to remember where you placed them, which results in you end up frantically searching to make sure everything gets paid on time!

Guess what? There is a solution to that and you can save money at the same time! That’s right, SAVE MONEY.  Who doesn’t love saving money?  If you enroll with online banking, most carriers will provide you with a discount. On top of that, you no longer have to watch your mailbox like a hawk for certain bills.  They will come straight to your e-mail inbox instead! You won’t get a paper statement that you will end up misplacing if you don’t look at right away either. Rather, you’ll be able to view it at your convenience in your inbox, where it is being kept all nice and neat. How easy is that?

If you haven’t done so already, talk to your insurance agent about paperless billing. It could save you some money on your monthly premiums and save you time searching for that misplaced paper bill!


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The One Thing Your Car Needs This Winter

With bad weather approaching, the chances of becoming stranded roadside become greater each day. Intense cold leads to a higher risk of engine trouble and breakdowns. Snow and icy conditions lead to an increased rate of accidents.


It goes without saying that winter months are much more dangerous to be stranded roadside. Many auto insurance policies carry with them Roadside Assistance coverage, to get help to you in these situations. Before extreme weather hits, make sure your Roadside Assistance number is accessible to you while you are driving, whether kept in your wallet, in the glove compartment, or stuck to the windshield. Taking this action can keep the ill effects of being stranded roadside to a minimum.

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