5 Things Every Pennsylvania Resident Must Know Before Buying Home Insurance

Are you spending too much on home insurance?

Each year, Johnstown, PA homeowners lose hundreds of dollars instead of saving. Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC aims to help you save by providing you with crucial factual information. Home insurance is one of the significant no-brainers. Here are five things you must know before buying the coverage to save.

Search and Compare Rates 

Previously, finding affordable policies was left for cars and tickets. Currently, home insurance has landed on the same page. With a few internet searches and phone calls, you can land on good deals. Nevertheless, don’t let cost be the only determinant factor, but also keep the coverage details in mind.

Refurbish Your Home 

You must have heard that renovating your home leads to reduced premiums. Well, most insurers are sensitive to house condition. Things like the house’s structure, wiring condition, and plumbing are game changers as far as insurance is concerned. Renovating these features imply that risks such as bursting pipes and fire from electrical faults are minimized. Consequently, your premiums reduce saving you money.

Understand Cash value versus Replacement Cost 

As a homeowner looking for a suitable home insurance coverage, comprehending and distinguishing actual cash value from replacement cost is vital. Replacement costs cover the amount of money it will cost to replace your home together with personal belongings while real cash value focuses on home value and not individual properties.

Increase your Deductible 

Increasing your deductible significantly reduces annual premiums when buying home insurance. The high deductible helps you manage premiums when you make claims since the number is reduced. 

Get Umbrella Coverage 

Most of you won’t agree with this because you incur costs upfront. However, if you ever use your home insurance coverage entirely, the umbrella policy becomes essential. For instance, when a guest gets in an accident and breaks a bone in your home. 

Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC proudly serves Johnstown, PA residents. Reach out to our offices to speak with an agent and get a quote, or try our online rating tool.
 

Ride Safe with These Motorcycling Tips


Motorcycle riders are far more likely than people in cars to be seriously injured or killed in a crash — but keeping safety in mind can reduce your risk.

There are many benefits to motorcycles — they get great gas mileage, they can make your commute easier, and it’s almost never a problem finding a parking space. As anyone who rides will tell you, they’re also a lot of fun.

But riders assume a lot of risk to get those benefits — according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, they’re 30 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers and passengers in cars. Whether you’re an experienced motorcyclist or you’re just getting started, these tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and Consumer Reports can help keep you on the road, and out of danger.

Choose the right bike — and know how to use it. Riding a more powerful motorcycle than you can truly handle can get you into trouble. According to Consumer Reports, a model with a 250-cc to 300-cc engine is great for a starter or commuter motorcycle, while those with 500-cc to 750-cc engines are good for extended highway riding. Whatever size bike you choose, though, taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course will ensure you know how to operate it properly.

Make sure you’re visible. Even when drivers are alert, it can be hard for them to see motorcyclists (and it’s even worse if they’re distracted). That means you need to help as much as possible. Try to stay out of the blind spots of cars and trucks, and make sure your headlight is always on, even when riding in the daytime. It’s also a good idea to wear bright-colored clothing or add reflective strips to your bike.

Use the right safety gear. Whether your state has a helmet law or not, we strongly recommend that you protect your head — studies show riders without helmets are three times more likely to have a brain injury in a crash. You should also wear leather or other thick clothing. As the MSF puts it, “The only thing between you and the road is your protective gear.”

Be safety-minded at all times. This can mean any number of things, from keeping your bike well-maintained to deciding not to ride when the weather is bad. Both of those things are good ideas, of course. Perhaps most important is driving defensively, because at least one study shows that in the majority of car-motorcycle accidents, car drivers are at fault. You need to be hyper-alert and prepared for sudden lane changes, being cut off and more.

“Born to be wild” may be a phrase forever associated with motorcycles, but don’t take that to heart when it comes to safety. Let your hair down and enjoy the ride — just use some common sense to make sure you’re around for the next ride, too.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user David Hilowitz used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

How to Create an Emergency Survival Kit

Emergency Kit

 

If a massive disaster wiped out power to your region right now, with no hope of recovery for at least several days, would you be ready? Would you have a way to connect with your family? Would you have enough nonperishable food for everyone? In short, do you have the right plan and supplies to get through an emergency?

In the insurance business, we know a little something about helping people recover from disasters. We know that a little preparation goes a long way. So here are some tips from the Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control and others on what you should put in an emergency preparedness kit for you and your family:

The big stuff: food and water
At home, consider keeping a two-week supply of nonperishable food on hand in a safe, dry place. You might already have a good head start on this, depending on what’s in your pantry. You also need a two-week supply of water, according to the Red Cross. That’s one gallon per person, per day. Don’t forget your pets. They’ll need their food and water as well. For evacuation situations, take a three-day supply of the above.

Safety items
If the power is out for an extended period, you’ll need flashlights or battery-powered lanterns (with extra batteries). A portable, hand-crank radio will ensure you stay informed on the situation. A first-aid kit is a must, along with at least a week’s worth of any medications that family members need. Emergency blankets and warm clothes are crucial if the weather is cold. Don’t forget personal hygiene items.

Paperwork
You could be forced to evacuate, so it’s important to have certain things down on paper — for example, family and emergency contact information. You’ll also want to keep copies of personal documents, such as proof of address, passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies.

Other items
There are a multitude of other things you can include in your kit, of course. A multipurpose tool, extra cash, and maps of the area are a few recommendations, along with games and activities to keep the kids occupied, if needed.

Above all, consider the unique needs of you and your family when putting together your kit. Put everything in labeled containers that can be accessed quickly and carried if necessary. Once you’ve created your kit, check it each September during National Preparedness Month for expired items, including medications, and missing supplies.

Of course, we hope you never have to use your kit. But it’s far better to have one you don’t need instead of needing one you don’t have.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user Global X used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Avoid Deadly Distractions Behind the Wheel

Distractd driving

Many people have a limited definition of “distracted driving”: They think it only means texting behind the wheel.

There’s good reason for that, because texting requires visual, manual and cognitive attention – the same attention required for safe driving. But although texting is perhaps the most dangerous distraction, there are many others that can impact how you drive, whether you realize it or not. And they can be just as deadly.

How deadly? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2014 more than 400,000 people were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers – with more than 3,000 killed.

Here are just a few of the things that can distract drivers on the road:

  • Talking on the phone, even with a hands-free device.
  • Eating or drinking.
  • Talking to passengers.
  • Grooming (yes, there really are people who apply makeup or shave on their way to work).
  • Reading, including maps.
  • Adjusting the stereo.

Younger drivers are the most distracted of all – according to the government’s distraction.gov website, people in their 20s make up 38% of drivers who were using cell phones before a fatal crash, and 10% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted, too.

With distractions more prevalent than ever – more than 150 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. every month, for example – how can you, and those you love, be safer behind the wheel? Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t use the phone: This includes texting as well as talking, unless it’s an emergency. Even hands-free conversations can take your attention off the road.
  • Eat before you leave, or after you get there: Scarfing down that burger with one hand on the wheel means your focus is divided – and you probably don’t have as much control over your car as you should. Bonus benefit: Keeping your meals and your driving separate means you’re much less likely to get ketchup on your pants.
  • Know where you’re going: Nobody likes to be lost. But messing around with your car’s GPS (or the maps app on your smartphone) while you’re moving can lead to something you’ll hate even more – an accident.
  • Talk to your family about safe driving: Having a conversation with your spouse as they’re driving home? That’s a perfect opportunity to say, “I’ll let you focus on the road; we can talk when you get here.” And if you have young drivers in the household, be sure to have a conversation about their phones and other potential issues, such as their passengers – a key distraction for teens.
  • Watch for other distracted drivers: Just because you aren’t distracted doesn’t mean that other drivers are focused on safe driving. Stay in control and be vigilant – you’ll be ready to react when someone else makes the wrong move.

Distracted driving isn’t just “one of those things” that happens, like a tire blowout or mechanical failure that isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s 100% preventable – and by committing to avoiding distractions while you drive, you’ll help make the road safer for everyone.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user Government of Alberta used under Public domain. Image cropped and modified from original

Protecting Your Home: Understanding Your Home Insurance Policy

As a homeowner, one of the most important aspects of your home isn’t something you use daily. And it isn’t something flashy you show off to friends. It’s your homeowners insurance policy, and it protects you in more ways than you may think, helping you rebuild your home or repair damage that results from a covered loss.

But, that’s not all. It can also help cover the costs of a lawsuit, help you pay for somewhere else to live when your home is uninhabitable and much more.

Home insurance is typically very comprehensive, but all policies have exclusions and coverage limits. It’s vital to know what those are so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Fire damage? Typically covered. Flood damage? Typically not.

With this guide, you can begin to understand what a typical home insurance policy covers. Just keep in mind that coverage varies from carrier to carrier, region to region and even policy to policy. Only your individual home policy can tell you the coverage you have and that which you don’t. For an even better understanding of your home policy coverage, review it with one of our agents.

What Home Insurance Covers The typical homeowners insurance policy has six types of coverage. They are commonly known as:

  • Coverage A: Dwelling, for damage to your house that occurs due to covered losses, such as a fire. Following a covered loss, dwelling coverage helps you repair or rebuild your home, including the structures, such as a garage or a deck, attached to it.
  • Coverage B: Other Structures, for damage to other buildings or structures on your property that result from a covered loss, such as a tornado. This may include a detached garage, a barn or a fence.
  • Coverage C: Personal Property, for damage to or loss, including theft, of your personal belongings and possessions, such as jewelry, furniture, guns and other valuables. If you experience a covered loss, this coverage will help you replace items up to the defined dollar limit in your policy. In certain instances, your belongings may be worth more than the typical home insurance policy covers. In this case, you may be able to purchase additional coverage through a process known as “scheduling valuables.” To help expedite a personal property claim, it helps to keep an updated home inventory of your belongings.
  • Coverage D: Additional Living Expenses, for costs incurred, up to your set policy limit, due to “loss of use” of your home, meaning your home has been damaged to the extent that you cannot live in it and you need to live elsewhere. This coverage helps you handle the costs of your temporary housing and related expenses.
  • Coverage E: Personal Liability, for damage to other people’s property for which you are responsible. This coverage may also help you handle legal costs and liability judgments resulting from a lawsuit, up to the defined dollar amounts outlined in your policy.
  • Coverage F: Medical Payments to Others, for bodily injuries to other people, such as a houseguest, that occur in your home or on your property. Like personal liability coverage, this coverage helps with the costs of a lawsuit or legal decision, up to your defined policy limits.

Remember that, despite having all of these different types of coverage, you’re only covered up to the dollar amounts that you select and only for covered losses, as outlined in your policy. Typically, you can change these policy limits at any time if you’d like to purchase more coverage. This is a good idea if, for example, you’ve recently added on to your home, acquired some pricey personal belongings or made other updates to your property. If needed, you can also reduce your coverage, though always ensure you are adequately protected.

What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover

It’s just as important to know what your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover as it is to know what your home policy does cover. For starters, your policy does not cover any damage or repairs costing less than your deductible. It also does not cover any costs that exceed the coverage limits outlined in your policy. You are solely responsible for excess costs, unless you have an umbrella policy to provide additional liability coverage for a covered loss.

More than likely, your policy also does not cover routine maintenance and repairs, as well as damage due to animals, termites, floods, earthquakes, sinkholes, sewer backups, and other incidents. These are often considered non-covered losses. If you experience a non-covered loss, as outlined by your policy, you will be responsible for the costs.

What Home Insurance May Cover

Outside of the typical home insurance coverage, optional or separate coverage may be available from your carrier or from a different carrier. For example, you may be able to purchase earthquake or flood coverage separate from your homeowners policy.

Other coverage options are add-ons to your existing homeowners insurance. These can include identity protection and equipment breakdown coverage, which covers the cost to repair or replace a range of appliances and other equipment, such as pool equipment, in your home. If this sounds similar to an extended appliance warranty, it is. The difference is that you can insure an array of appliances at once through this optional coverage rather than purchasing a separate warranty for each one.

This guide is a starting point for understanding your home insurance policy. Your own policy may vary greatly from the descriptions above depending on the state where you live, your carrier, and the coverage you have selected. So take a close look at your policy by reviewing your documents or viewing your coverage online. Or, even better, sit down with one of our insurance agents who can explain your coverage in detail, as well as discuss whether your policy provides adequate protection for your home, property, and belongings.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by UnSplash user Nathan Fertig used under their license. Image cropped and modified from original.