Sharing our knowledge about the things that matter the most to you.


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.

Open Enrollment, Mattoon Illinois

What is the difference between an HMO and a PPO health plan?

With the market place now being in full swing of things, when you are shopping for health insurance you are going to see the main two types of a policies: HMO and PPO. What is the difference between the two? We will answer that below!

A health maintenance organization (HMO) and a preferred provider organization (PPO) have a good amount of differences such as what doctors a patient can see, how much care costs and how important medical records are kept.


  • Choice of Health Care Provider

The PPO policy offers you more of a choice and flexibility, but with that comes a higher premium. With a PPO, you are able to see any doctor you wish or visit hospital you choose, within a preferred network of providers. Also with a PPO you do not have to designate a primary doctor and usually see a specialist without referral.

With a HMO policy, it requires you to only see doctors and hospitals on their list of providers. Which means you will need to choose a primary care doctor who will direct care and refer you to approved specialists if one is needed. This option does offer fewer choices and may make switching doctors or getting a second opion a little harder. Most the time, the HMO wil not cover medical expenses that are incurred by seeing someone who is not contracted with the HMO, but usually will have defined coverage for Emergency situations when a patient is outside the normal coverage area.


  • Cost Difference

PPO does usually pay a percentage of a person’s medical expenses, with the patient paying the remainder of the balance. HMO’s generally have a set cost for each service, so you can plan accordingly.


  • Medical Records

PPO’s usually do not store medical records in one location because you have the option choose what provider you wish to go to. Wish in return can cause a good amount time hunting down all your records.

HMO’s now with you choosing a primary care provider, medical records are kept together within the organization. Also when you are referred to a differ provider/ specialist; any medical records are usually automatically forwarded on your behalf.

Contact us today and we will help you for FREE with your marketplace health insurance plan!


What You Need to Know About Open Enrollment for Health Insurance

It’s that time of year again!

It’s time to start thinking about your health insurance during the open enrollment period. If you want to buy individual or family health insurance for 2018 now is the time to do it. Today we’re sharing the 10 basic items to think about while you navigate the open enrollment period.

  1. The open enrollment period this year has been cut in half. The new dates for open enrollment are Nov.1, 2017 to Dec. 15, 2017. With coverage starting Jan. 1st, 2018.
  2. You need to sign up through open enrollment if you do not have health insurance from a different source such as –
  • Employer or Spouse employer
  • Government coverage (such as veterans, Medicare or Medicaid)
  • Over the age of 26 and no longer on your parents
  • You qualify for tax credits
  1. This is the time to make changes to your current plan
  • You can renew your current individual/ family health insurance plan
  • You can choose a new health insurance plan through the market place
  • Make sure your Doctor and Hospital are still in your network
  • Check your drug plan, make sure pricing stayed the same
  1. If you miss open enrollment you may have to wait for a year to sign up, unless you have qualify for a special enrollment period, which includes: 
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Death of a spouse or partner that leaves you with not health insurance
  • Lose your job
  1. If you choose to ignore signing up for health insurance, the penalties/fees are as follows:
  • 5% of your income or $695 per adult (whichever is more)
  • Up to $347.50 per child
  • With the maximum being $2,085
  1. Once you are ready to choose a plan, you have four choice levels: 
  • Bronze- lowest premium/ highest out of pocket
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum – Highest premium/ lowest out of pocket
  1. All health plans must cover these 10 items:
  • Outpatient care including chronic disease management
  • Emergency care
  • Hospitalization
  • Pregenancy and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance abuse services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitation services and devices
  • Lab tests
  • Preventive and wellness services
  • Dental and vision care for children
  1. Your family size and income determines your eligibility for tax credit. You can use this grid to find out whether you will be eligible for tax credits or not:
2017 federal poverty level guidelines (applies to 2018 coverage)
Persons in Household 2017 federal poverty level for continental U.S. Premium subsidy threshold (400% of federal poverty level)
1 $12,060 $48,240
2 $16,240 $64,960
3 $20,420 $81,680
4 $24,600 $98,400
5 $28,780 $115,120
6 $32,960 $131,840
7 $37,140 $148.560
8 $41,320 $165,280


  1. If you suffered a hardship, you may not be required to buy health insurance
  • Being uninsured for less than three months of the year
  • A close family member rently died or you had unexpected expenses related to caring for an elderly, ill or disabled family member
  • You have been evicted from your home or suffered bankruptcy
  1. The five ways to sign up
  • Phone
  • Mail
  • Online
  • In person with a certified attendant
  • Agent/ broker

Contact us today and and one of our Agents will help you sign up for health insurance! The best part? NO FEES! Make sure you choose the best plan for you and your family by setting up an appointment today with us.

Renters Insurance, MAttoon IL

Renter’s Insurance Does More Than Protect Your “Stuff”

I have heard more than I want to count, “I don’t have much, or what I do have is not worth much”.

That’s what most clients think renters insurance does: protect what you have and nothing more – but it does way more than that.

Here are three financial protections that a renter’s policy offers:

1. What happens if you were forced out of the place that you call home? You would need to find a place to stay, right? Well renters insurance helps with that.  It’s called Loss of Use, and this helps pay for temporary housing (most policies either go by a dollar amount or time frame).

2. If someone is hurt at your place, they could sue you. Who pays for that? Or if you have a dog, and they happen to bite someone, who pays for that? Lawsuits are a real thing and it seems like they happen more and more in today’s world. Personal liability comes with renters insurance and that can help you protect yourself from the unknown. (I recommend going with 300K, or more).

3. Let’s say you’re out mowing and shoot a rock out and hit the neighbors truck window, or your at a friend’s house and knock their TV off the wall, or even if you’re on the golf course and hit a errant shot that damages someone’s house. Did you know that those items could be helped paid for by renters insurance? Yep, under damage to others property (this is up to specific dollar amount).

So, not only does renters insurance protect the items that you own but from other everyday risks that could hurt you financially.

Want a free quote for your renter’s insurance? Fill out the form below!

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