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How to Save Money on Business Insurance  

The last thing you want to focus on when starting or running your business is what could go wrong. While you aren’t necessarily going to face struggles right away, if you aren’t covered with a good insurance policy, you’ll likely experience some issues down the road. Since running a business is risky, you should plan on being prepared to handle anything that comes up with the proper business insurance policy. But how do you avoid spending too much? Here are some tips that could save you some money on your insurance plan. 

Know What You Need  

Not every business needs the same amount of coverage. It all depends on what your business does and the risks involved. At the minimum, most businesses are required by law to have policies for workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance. But that’s just the minimum. When looking at how much coverage you need, you can start by looking at general liability insurance which will cover your business for any third-party damages, legal defense costs, and reputation damage from libel, slander, or copyright infringement. In addition, also consider a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) to cover your business’s property and typically cover more for less money than a general liability policy. Other coverages will depend on the nature of your business, which your insurance agent can discuss with you your options in more detail related to your situation. 

Increase Your Deductible 

For most insurance policies, not just business insurance, you can lower your premium by increasing your deductible. Paying a higher deductible means less money the insurance company will have to pay after you make a claim on your policy. Because of this, insurance companies are willing to offer coverage at a lower price. Your agent will be able to discuss with you whether or not this would be a favorable decision for your business and the pros and cons of each choice.  

Bundle Your Policies  

Bundling your policies means that instead of buying separate policies for every type of coverage you need, you can purchase a package that will offer the same coverage for a lower price. Think of it like going to a restaurant. If you order an entree, side, and drink separately, you’ll end up paying a bit more than if you had ordered the combo that includes those items at a lesser cost. Bundled policies are the “restaurant combos” of insurance.  

Be Safety-Minded 

The higher the risk of injury at your business, the higher your insurance premiums will be. The safer your work environment is, the better deal you’ll get with your insurance. To get a better price, follow all safety recommendations from your insurance company such as enforcing safety precautions to avoid having your premiums raised to cover the extra risk.  

Review and Update Your Coverage Every Year 

As your business changes, so will your coverage needs, which means you should review your policies each year around the time of renewal to see if there are better options for either coverage or price. Also, by reviewing your policy with your agent, they will be able to make sure you aren’t paying for any policies that you may have needed for the previous year but not the upcoming year.  

Consult with Your Independent Agent 

Remember when you are reviewing your policies or looking at what kind of coverage to get for your business, consult with your insurance agent to help you shop for the best deals. They know insurance policies inside and out and will be able to guide you through making the best decisions for your business. If you have any questions or think you could be spending less on insurance for your business, give us a call today. 

Remodeling Your Home? Don’t Forget to Adjust Your Insurance, Too

Homeowner’s insurance is directly linked to the value of your home, and the only way to be confident you have the coverage you need is to be transparent about improvements you’ve made to your property over time. Here’s what to consider before, during, and after a home renovation so you’re covered for during construction and the improvements are protected when you’re done. 

Be clear about which renovations will raise or lower your insurance rates. 

Financial preparation includes not just acknowledging the cost of materials and labor but also acknowledging the fluctuation of your insurance policies to come. An addition, for example, will add square footage and value, which means your home will be more expensive to rebuild, so your premiums will rise. If you’re renovating your garage into a den and kicking your car to the curb, keep in mind the cost of your car insurance may jump a bit since it’s simply riskier to park on the street. In contrast, replacing an outdated HVAC system lowers the risk of an electrical problem, and lower risk typically means lower rates. The same goes for adding a fence around a swimming pool or backyard. 

Before you finalize renovation plans, watch for ways to achieve discounts. 

You may qualify for lower premiums if you add a sprinkler system, update your plumbing or electrical system, add storm shutters, or even simply install stronger doors than you had before. New safety features will lessen your odds of filing a claim in the future, and many insurance plans will acknowledge that with reduced rates. 

Don’t DIY if you’re not qualified to do the work safely. 

Besides the potential to be disappointed in your own craftsmanship, the real risk is potential injury. If friends and family will be on site to help with the project, consider increasing your home insurance’s no-fault medical protection. This will allow an injured assistant to send doctor’s bills straight to your insurance company, which ultimately lowers your chance of a lawsuit. 

Plan for mid-project problems.  

Insurance Journal reported in 2014 that approximately one out of every three house fires can be traced back to contracting professionals working on site. Heat guns used for paint stripping or electrical sockets overwhelmed by power tools can mean disaster. Construction risk can also expand to plumbing pipes cracking under the stress of vibrations being caused by construction. You will want to discuss these potential scenarios with your insurance agent before renovations begin–and then again mid-project as plans evolve–to make sure you understand which party would be liable for each scenario and whether you and your contractor are insured properly to avoid a major financial strain. 

Ask your insurance agent about weather and theft. 

Large renovations are sometimes stalled by acts of nature, sometimes stalled by disappearing acts. If your project is big enough that parts of your home will be covered by a tarp or exposed to the elements, consider a “course of construction policy,” also known as a builder’s risk policy. This will offer protection if you find your home seriously damaged during construction and extends as far as vandalism and theft of construction materials you purchased yourself (think carpet, hardwood, or tile). 

Be careful about gaps in coverage if you’ll be temporarily moving out. 

According to the International Risk Management Institute, homeowner’s policies are really written for homes being occupied by the homeowner. If your renovation is so extensive that you’ll be leaving the premises–or if your construction will cost 10 percent or more of your home’s total replacement value–read your insurance contract carefully. These benchmarks label your project as a “major renovation,” which may limit your coverage or require you to notify the insurance company before construction begins. If you don’t follow the policy’s requirements specifically, you may find that damage during renovations is only covered at replacement cost less depreciation, rather than replacement cost alone. Your best choices in a major renovation may be to add a renovation policy to your existing coverage or add a builder’s risk policy. 

Celebrate the added value to your home. 

Once you’ve planned well, relax and enjoy the process. Ultimately, you’re adding beauty, functionality, and value. As you take photos to share with family and friends, made copies for your insurance files, as it is likely that you will also need to update your catalog of valuable items inside your home as well, especially if you purchased furniture or art. 


Understanding the Difference Between Federal and Private Student Loans 

Debt happens. When it comes to pursuing a post-secondary education, loans can be an important means to an end. But before you choose between federal and private loans (or choose a combination of the two), you need to understand the difference and the long-term effect each can have on you and your family’s future. This includes knowing whether it means leaving loved ones in debt should you face a personal tragedy. 

Federal student loans are funded by the federal government. On a federal student loan, the terms and conditions for repayment are based on the law. As a student, you don’t have to start paying on the loan until you graduate, unenroll, or drop your hours to less than half-time. You may also qualify for a subsidized loan if you need the government to take care of the interest on your loan while you are still in school, provided you enrolled in enough credit hours. Federal student loans offer protection for your family after your death. If you pass away, your loan will be “discharged,” meaning dismissed, once proof of death is submitted to the company that handles the billing on your loan (also known as a loan servicer). FORBES magazine warned last summer, however, that not all federal student loans are dissolved so quickly. A PLUS loan taken out by parents, even if forgiven, can still have parents on the hook for paying income taxes on the forgiven loan.

Private student loans are made by a lender, which may include a credit union, a bank, a state agency, or a school. The Office of the U.S. Department of Education clarifies that on a private loan, these terms and conditions are set by the lender and may or may not require you to make payments while still enrolled in school. The interest rate may be fixed or variable and may include a penalty for paying the loan off early. Note that a private student loan is intended only for education; it is not the same as a personal loan, which can be used for home projects or weddings. A private personal loan may include language that excludes the use of the funds for post-secondary education. It is important to note that while private student loans may come with a death and disability policy, the lender may still try to collect from your estate and/or co-signers. Some states are community property states, which means a spouse can be on the hook for student loan debt after your death even if he or she didn’t co-sign on it. The answer to this conundrum is often a term life insurance policy that will cover student loan debt in the event of your death. 

5 Tips for Driving at Night – Insurance repurpose from trucking 

Depending on your job, you may need to do a lot of driving at night. Or perhaps you like to leave in the wee hours to go on family vacation, so you can arrive at a decent time the next day. Some drivers do prefer night driving because the roads are more open. Even so, night driving comes with a lot of setbacks and risks you need to be aware of. With the vision impairments and accidents associated with night driving, drivers should take the following night driving tips into consideration. 

Avoid Overdriving Your Vehicle’s Headlights 

The term “overdriving” refers to when you’re driving so fast that your stopping time is farther than you can see with your headlights. This is dangerous, especially if there are large vehicles like semi-trucks on the road. Make sure that your vehicle’s headlights are clean and have functioning bulbs so their beam of light shines as far as it can. Also, learn your approximate stopping time in relation to how far your lights illuminate in order to avoid overdriving and risking crashing into anything ahead of you.  

Don’t Look Directly at Other Sources of Light 

Oncoming headlights and other bright light sources can end up temporarily blinding you to the road and what’s ahead. Be sure to avoid looking directly at these. When you’re going through lighting changes (from a well-lit, populated highway to one that is much darker) allow your eyes to adjust before increasing the speed at which you’re traveling and use your brights if you’re away from other vehicles. 

Watch Out for Wildlife 

Your headlights can pick up the retinas of animals before your eyes can register their bodies. If you see two small glowing spots in the distance, slow down as much as you can, as an animal is most likely ahead. If the situation calls for you to choose between your safety and the animal’s, choose yours first. But remember that crashing into an animal at a high speed can greatly endanger you and cause serious damage to your vehicle. If you cannot swerve safely, you must slow down significantly.  

Don’t Drive Drowsy  

Driving at night can be tiring. If you aren’t well rested, your driving will inherently become impaired. If you are too fatigued, find a rest stop and take a break, or switch off with another person in the car — night driving is risky enough, so you’ll need all of your alertness to make the trip safely during this time. 

Get Your Eyes Checked 

If you haven’t done so already, it may be beneficial for you to schedule an eye exam. The frequency at which you should get one depends on your age and race. An ophthalmologist should be able to tell you what is recommended for your vision health. 

Remember, traffic accidents and fatalities are greater at night. It’s of the utmost importance that you drive carefully when your vision and driving ability is impaired by the factors of the night. If you need auto insurance, call one of our agents today. 


In this Internet age, it’s incredibly easy to purchase insurance online – directly from the carrier and without ever having to leave your screen. When you’re in charge of insuring a fleet of commercial vehicles, this option is surely tempting. You don’t have much time, and purchasing insurance direct online will save you both time and money, right? It’s probably not as simple as that. Sure, the DIY approach might save you some time upfront, but how much do you really understand about the process? You’re an expert in your business, so you should be working with an expert in the insurance field to get the coverage that best fits your needs.  


When it comes to your carrier and coverage options, there is a clear benefit to working with an independent agent. Whether you’re running a trucking company or a business with commercial vehicles, you’re already busy around the clock. You don’t have time to scour the internet for the best insurance. Instead of having to shop around on your own, your agent will do that work for you and provide you with choices, so you can get the coverage that is best for exactly what you need.  


A good agent knows their stuff. They have assisted numerous clients with purchasing commercial auto insurance for their business vehicles, so they understand the ins and outs of the process. If you try to go it alone – especially if it’s your first time purchasing insurance for your business – you may find yourself lost or confused, without anyone to give advice. Using an agent ensures that you have someone taking care of you who knows what is going on at all times and can explain it to you in plain terms. And if you have to file a claim? Your agent’s support and expertise will be even more invaluable in such a potentially stressful time.  


This can be one of the greatest advantages of working with an independent agent rather than purchasing insurance directly from a carrier. When you purchase coverage on your own, you may do it online and never speak to a real human. If you call the carrier, you will likely be connected to an employee in a call center. While it is possible to have a good experience with one of these employees, you won’t be able to build a relationship in the same way that you can with your own personal agent. Independent agents specialize in building an insurance portfolio just for you, so we understand the unique needs and challenges of your business in a way that a direct representative of a carrier may not. For your commercial auto insurance needs, the advantages of working with an independent insurance agent are clear. 

What You Need to Know About Funeral Planning

It’s the topic no one needs to think about, but everyone needs to think about it. For as the saying goes, the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes. When the time comes for you or a loved one, nothing helps people say goodbye like a meaningful funeral. However, they do take planning. Here is what you need to know to be prepared.  


A 2017 study by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) found that only 21% of Americans discuss funeral plans with a loved one. Unless you want your loved ones to have to make a number of big decisions with big price tags in a matter of several days, you need to have a funeral plan set in place.  


From casket choice to music choice, there are a lot of decisions to be made in the funeral planning process. It will be a huge relief for your loved ones to just have to follow your plan, especially at a time when they are grieving. You do not have to work alone in planning. Enlist your children or other loved ones to be involved in the process. This way, you get assistance and they will already be familiar with the plan when the time comes to put it into place. Most importantly, write the plan down and save several copies in places that will be easily remembered. You or your loved ones can even save a copy on a computer, so it can be easily accessed later.  


Many funeral homes sell packages that they say provide discounted rates if you prepay. This might sound smart, but what will you do if you change your decisions, if the funeral home goes out of business, or if you move to a different state? Planning does not have to mean prepaying. What planning means is calling different funeral homes to get an average idea of their rates and packages, choosing the one that you like best, and simply making note of it in your funeral plan. By the time of your death, the funeral home could have closed, changed their prices, or something else that might cause your loved ones to alter the plan. Create your plan with flexibility in mind. 


If you’re worried about you or your loved ones having the money on hand to pay for your funeral, there is nothing better you can do than purchasing an insurance plan that will cover the costs. If you have a life insurance policy, make sure its limits allow for the costs of a funeral. If you do not have life insurance and are not interested in getting it (although, truly, everyone should have it), you can purchase a final expense plan that is specifically intended to cover the costs of a funeral and burial. Having the funds guaranteed in place by an insurance policy takes a huge burden off of those you leave behind. It truly is the smartest option.

How Does My Dog’s Breed Affect My Homeowner’s Insurance?

It has long been said that dogs are humankind’s best friend. If you have a canine companion you love, chances are they are an integral part of your family life. They snuggle with you (or on the dog bed) at movie nights, attend your barbeques and parties, and run to greet the delivery worker. But for some dog owners, living with their furry friend can cause home insurance rates to rise. It all depends on what breed of dog you own. That is why the assistance of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. They can shop the market to find you the lowest rates that will cover the “risks” that the insurance companies believe your dog’s breed pose.

Here Are the Most Common Breeds:

  • Akitas
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Bull Mastiffs
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Great Danes
  • Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers
  • Presa Canarios
  • Rottweilers
  • Siberian Husky
  • Wolf Hybrids

First Thing’s First

Do not conceal your dog’s breed from your insurance agent. This may be tempting since, as we will soon discuss, owning a “high-risk breed” dog will probably increase your home insurance rates. You may believe that your dog is the most angelic creature in the world, but dogs are animals and we can never know what may frighten or intimidate them into aggressive action. If there is an incident where your dog harms either your property or a visitor, you will wish you’d been paying those higher premiums all along. The average claim payout for dog bites, one of the most costly claims, is a whopping $30,000. If your insurance carrier denies you coverage because you lied or concealed information from them, you could find yourself responsible for that hefty check. Yikes.

What Will Happen?

When you own a dog that is considered a more “high-risk” or traditionally “aggressive breed,” it can be difficult to even find an insurance carrier that will cover your dog under your policy. Once you do, with the assistance of your independent agent, you will likely be required to increase your liability coverage limits. The amount can vary – it is best to rely on your agent’s expertise for this. Remember how we mentioned the average payout for a dog bite is 30K? You want to make sure you have adequate coverage or else some of that money could have to come out of your own pocket.

It’s possible your insurance carrier may want you to purchase a separate umbrella policy instead of simply increasing your liability limits. An umbrella policy can be useful, not just in the case of pet damage or attacks, but also for any incident that happens on your own property.

Take Preventative Measures

In order to reduce the risk of your dog biting someone or otherwise causing injury, there are some steps you can take. Do not engage your dog in aggressive play, put your dog in its kennel or room in situations where it seems stressed, and be sure to work on socializing and training your dog when you first adopt it. Maintain a securely fenced yard if your dog spends significant time outside, and always supervise your dog when it plays with visitors – especially children who may not yet know how to treat an animal gently.

Your beloved dog’s breed does not have to stop you from being properly insured. Independent agents can shop the insurance market for you in order to find you a homeowner’s policy that provides adequate coverage and allows for your “high-risk” breed dog.

Is Your Small Business Prepared to Handle a Lawsuit?

The thought of facing a lawsuit at your business is a scary thing. Large businesses likely have a legal department that is practiced at handling these situations, and they may even have a budget set aside specifically for legal matters. For small businesses, it is not so easy. Small business owners may think that the threat of legal action will never happen to them. The unfortunate truth is that this is simply not true. In fact, according to one poll, 43% of small business owners have been involved with or faced the threat of a lawsuit.

The damages resulting from legal costs may be enough to put you out of business. Even if they don’t, the financial hardship will put immense stress on you and your employees. To add to that, the lawsuit may be something that harms your reputation in the eyes of the public or even the media. In order to protect yourself, your employees, and your bottom line from the myriad negative effects of a lawsuit, you must make sure you are properly prepared. This means having the right business insurance and good legal counsel available.

What Kind of Insurance Is Needed to Prepare for a Lawsuit?

It should go unsaid, but you need to make sure your business has the insurance coverage it needs before the threat of a lawsuit ever appears on the horizon. Because when it becomes too late, the consequences may just destroy everything. Here are the most common types of business insurance that can protect you against the consequences of a lawsuit.

General Liability

This policy is the first line of defense for small business owners facing a lawsuit. It is designed to cover common exposures and minimize your financial risks, such as the costs of undergoing a lawsuit. If an employee slips and falls or a customer accuses your business of false advertising, your general liability will protect you against these claims. It will also help with any legal fees, court costs, or settlement costs that may result from a lawsuit.

Specialized Coverage

Depending on your industry, your business may need more specialized insurance protection. Your independent insurance agent can help you to discern the unique risks of your business and your industry, then design an insurance profile that helps to cover these risks. That is why working with a local, independent insurance agent is so valuable. Because they live and work in your region or even community, they understand the issues you face every day. Don’t let your business go underinsured. Speak with your independent agent to make sure you have all the coverage you need to keep your business running even in the face of a lawsuit.

3 Ways to Make Your Home Kid-Friendly and Safe  

Moving into a new home can be an exciting, yet stressful, process. In the mix of things, you shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of your children. Use these tips to make sure that every area of your home is childproof and safe for your kids to play in. 

Start with Rules 

In order to ensure that your children understand what is safe and what is not, you need to set some ground rules. Identify certain rooms that your children are allowed to play in and those they are not able to be in. For instance, many families store power tools and other hazardous materials in their basement. Therefore, their children are not allowed in this room in order to guarantee that the kids are safe and sound. 

Tell your children which rooms are off limits and which are completely okay. If you catch them disobeying your rules, explain to them why certain rooms are off limits so that they understand the reasoning behind the rules! 

Keep Valuables Hidden 

If you have anything incredibly valuable in your home, it is in your best interest to hide it out of reach from your children. Kids are naturally curious and will search all over the house for something interesting to play with. If you have any jewelry, valuable items, or something that may hurt the child such as sharp knives or firearms, make sure to always keep it out of their reach. From lost jewelry to unfortunate accidents, you do not want your children getting hold of your valuable items. 

Avoid Glass Tables and Decorations 

In an attempt to keep your children safe and decorate your house accordingly, try to avoid using glass tables in your home. Glass tables can easily break if there is an accident or someone was to fall. In addition, glass decorations can easily be picked up and dropped, resulting in shards of glass all over the floor and your home. Use other materials for your decorations, tables, and other areas of your home. 

Even if your children stay completely safe in your home, there are other incidents that could befall it. Make sure you have the home insurance coverage you need to stay protected. Speak to your agent today about updating your homeowners policy, including adding coverage for valuable items. 

Busting Common Life Insurance Myths

According to the 2019 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and LIMRA, 43% of American households do not have any life insurance. Furthermore, 40% of those households reported that they would immediately struggle to pay living expenses if their primary wage owner were to die without the security of life insurance. If so many Americans understand how important life insurance is, why do they remain uninsured? 


This is a big one. Many American families do not feel comfortable enough with their financial situation to purchase a life insurance policy. They believe they cannot afford it, and that they probably won’t need it anyway. The truth is, none of us know what the future holds. Even healthy adults can pass from sudden illness or accident. It’s a hard truth, but there it is. And if this happens and a family is left without their primary wage owner, then they really won’t be able to afford anything. So how much does life insurance cost? This depends on the type of policy purchased and the limits. However, it is possible to purchase life insurance for about the same dollar amount as paying for your daily coffee. If you can afford that, you can afford life insurance.  


Okay, we hear your train of thought here. You’re young, partnered or single, and you don’t have any plans for kids in the near future. Why on earth would you need life insurance? It comes back to the previous myth. When you are young and healthy and you purchase life insurance, there’s a very good chance your rate will be more favorable. Hint: that means lower. If it’s a dollar sign you’re concerned about, buying life insurance exactly when you think you don’t need it is your best bet.  


As mentioned above, the younger you are when you purchase life insurance, the lower your premiums are likely to be. As you age, it can become more difficult to get the life insurance coverage you need at the rate you want. And if you develop certain high-risk medical conditions, you could, unfortunately, be deemed “uninsurable” by carriers.  


Yikes. This kind of thinking can get you (or more specifically, your loved ones) into real trouble. Life insurance has more uses than you may think. In addition to providing income replacement to beneficiaries, life insurance can also cover funeral costs, pay off debts left behind, provide an inheritance or an education fund for a loved one, or even serve as a donation to a charity of your choice. With all of these potential uses, it’s easy to see that no matter what you will benefit from being covered by life insurance. 

Now that you understand the need for life insurance, don’t be one of the 43% of Americans who are living without it. Talk to your insurance agent today.