Are you an UBER Driver?

UBER, LYFT, all these “new” ways of transportation that make busses and taxis obsolete in this century come at a risk.

While this decreases the amount of vehicles we have on the road because of ride-sharing, which decreases the chances of accidents, deaths, and/or injuries, the driver is opening themselves up for a greater liability.

Your personal auto insurance most likely EXCLUDES ride sharing, which means when your UBER or LYFT app is turned on there is a gap in coverage. UBER and LYFT provide minimal insurance during the time period when your app is turned on awaiting a ride request, and the time you actually receive a ride request. Then the second the transaction is complete, your $1,000,000 liability coverage through UBER or LYFT decreases to $50,000 (which in many cases is extremely inadequate).

There are only a handful of insurance carriers out there that actually provide coverage during those “Period 1” gaps. Farmers is one of them, and our sister company, Bristol West is another.

Don’t leave yourself sitting, waiting for a lawsuit, protect yourself, your career, your future, your family and talk to an insurance advocate that understands the risk and knows what to do for you.

Save on your insurance, make Ride-sharing profitable for you, and do it with the protection you deserve!

 

UBER Insurance Information

 

No 2nd Chances

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While life is full of second chances, death isn’t. Don’t get caught free-falling without life insurance.

Blunt…well yes. Life can be stressful, scary, wonderful, beautiful, frustrating, surprising, and full of twists and turns. There are only two things in this world I can guarantee will happen, taxes and death.

Life insurance is for your loved ones. It’s so that they don’t have to deal with the stress of finances when they are struggling with the loss of you. Be there for them, when you physically can’t.

Life insurance can also provide living benefits, it can fund your retirement, it can also be there for you during an illness when you need cash now.

Everyone should have life insurance, don’t wait, tomorrow never comes, and tomorrow is too late.

 

$$$ Money, Money, Money $$$$

We all like, we love it, and we want some more of it! Right?

College tuition, new cars, down payments on homes, retirement…all things we worry about, plan about, stress about, and SAVE FOR!

We hear a lot about the different money “buckets”: 401K’s, Pension Plans, Profit Sharing Plans, Money Markets, Stock Markets, the super market…(just checking if you’re paying attention), but what other markets are available? Or, better yet, what other “buckets”?

Tax buckets

As you see above there are three “money buckets”: Tax no, tax later, and tax never.

Tax now buckets mean you invest money into the market after you’ve paid income tax on that money, then you pay tax on the interest when you pull that money out.

Tax later means you invest pre-taxed dollars, then when you pull the money out you pay the income tax rate of the year you pull the money out on the original investment and the interest. (These are important investments to have, but think of what will happen to the interest in 2025 versus 2017. Do our income tax rates usually decline, or increase?)

Tax never means the money you put in is money you’ve paid income tax on, and the interest you accrue will never be taxed…it’s tax free…it’s FREE money!!

Not everyone qualifies for a ROTH IRA, you have to make under a certain threshold of income, and you are capped at an annual contribution.

Your next option is a life insurance policy. There are MANY life insurance policies out there. From term life to whole life, to indexed life insurance policies.

The money is in the index. Farmers offers what’s called an Index Universal Life Policy. This policy serves as a death benefit for your family/beneficiaries, as well as a retirement option. The policy is tied to the S&P 500 and can garnish anywhere from 0-10% interest. It’s  a safety net policy, which means that it caps at 10%, but the floor is 0%, which can save you money. Other money markets can drop below zero and actually lose your money.

In the end, you will accrue cash that you can pull against at NO INTEREST, you won’t pay income taxes on this money.

If you throw all your money into one bucket, or even two, and one bucket gets knocked over, you just lost all or 50% of your investments. Utilize these buckets, tap into all three of them, take advantage of the money out there!

As always, call me if you have any questions, or are interested in seeing what your options are.

What’s with auto premiums increasing?

This is a common question, “why is my auto insurance rate increasing?”

This is a question I hear from consumers all over, regardless of what insurance company they have. This has no reflection on any particular insurance company, for these reasons are an industry wide issue.

First off, insurance premiums are the first things we notice when the rate increases, because it’s something we HATE paying for. We HATE being mandated legally to purchase something, so it’s natural that our hatred continues when we see that the bill increases.

We don’t, however, balk when the cost of our dinner at our favorite restaurant increases 10% because the restaurant is undergoing remodeling and to offset costs somewhere, or supply and demand leads to a price increase.

First, while your auto insurance is mandatory, it is very much necessary as well. Proper liability coverage protects you from deep pocket litigation that can cost you your life’s work. Accidents happen, it’s important to have a company and agent you can trust to stand by you.

Now for the reason…the last several years while our economy has improved, gas prices have reduced, more people are driving (not their 5,000 annual miles, but 20,000 miles), with the increased popularity of smart phones, apps like WAZE, etc., accidents have increased dramatically simply due to distracted drivers.

“5 seconds, 5 seconds is the average time with eyes off the road while using a cell phone or electronic device…on the highway that’s equivalent to driving the length of 2 football fields, BLINDFOLDED…”

Mileage is a huge factor, when you drive more you put yourself into more instances where an accident can occur. Farmers, as I’m sure other carriers as well, have taken many underwriting initiatives to help accurately rate drivers and prevent further rate increases. The goal is to properly rate drivers so that you pay for what you use, and not what others do. As for now, the cost of insurance has increased for the insurance companies, and has subsequently caused an increase for the consumer, you. Just the same when oil prices increased and this caused a flare in gasoline prices. Or when there are shortages of rice, and rice prices sky rocket, etc.

The industry is revamping and we are doing everything we can to properly rate each driver to drive the cost of insurance back down. We’re trending in a great direction!

As a nation, a state, a county, a community we ask that you be more defensive on the road, less distracted and more hands-free. It’ll save you money, and possibly your life.

Check out the statistics below!

 

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International Women’s Day

Due to a crazy schedule I wasn’t able to highlight yesterday’s recognition of women. Today I wanted to put aside insurance talk and applaud women, women all around, women in all types of occupations, women throughout our lives, and the women who have touched our lives individually. You’re all amazing, and deserve the recognition of being so.

International Women’s Day is a day set aside to recognize accomplishment, growth, courage, greatness, beauty, intelligence, strength, it is a day to acknowledge everyday women who play inspirational roles in our communities, our country, and our lives.

This may be a bit belated, but just like any other holiday, it’s never too late to encourage, and to give respect to those who have inspired you, cared for you, and encouraged you to be great.

Mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, teachers, employers, employees, fellow colleagues, community members, and many more have played a role in my life. I won’t name any names, but to highlight a few milestones that have shaped my life today:

A mother who encouraged strong-will, who embodied self-sufficiency, and independence, who encouraged, and who was a remarkable role model has helped mold my path throughout my young life, through my education, the skills I was given taught me how to be a life-long learner, how to be strong-willed and excel in creating and accomplishing a goal, and how to be a better person each and every day.

A sister who encouraged you, protected, and inspired you. A sister you called a friend that taught you important life lessons, found time to have fun with, and create memories that would follow you throughout your life.

A teacher encouraged understanding and appreciation for literature, to find truth within it, and to relate to it as a person. Literature helped pave the path of my understanding of other people, how to communicate to others, work with others, and respect others. Literature put emotions and feelings on paper and developed characters that embodied real situations that have only provoked my ability to succeed in my goals.

A friend who just knowing they are out there in the world somewhere makes things all the better, because you know there is a strong woman who has your side.

A colleague who has worked with you, assisted you, helped you succeed.

A community member that inspired you to do great things.

These are the women that we should acknowledge yesterday, today, and everyday.

Take a look around you, is there a woman who has brightened your day? Who has lifted you up? Is there a woman that comes to mind that is selfless, and always puts others first?

Take a moment, give her thanks, call her, appreciate her.

Kudos to the women, all the women, who encourage, build up, and continue to make differences in their families, communities, personal circles, and country.

Let’s keep encouraging each other, let’s keep inspiring, let’s keep creating…

Let’s be Rosie…a pillar, a symbol, a show of strength and unity.

 

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7 Easy Steps to Avoid More Damage

With the severe wind storms, heavy rains, and bitter cold days we’ve been having we’ve seen an influx of homeowners claims, along with the rest of the California insurance industry.

We can’t avoid the damage that these weather systems have on our properties, the most we can do is be aware and find the damage as soon as possible and temporarily rectify the issue before further damage occurs.

wind damage

ROOF

One of the biggest incidences we are coming across are blown off shingles from the wind. During this season homeowners should:

  • Inspect their roofs for curled shingles, worn shingles, and blown off shingles.
  • During the dryer days enlist the help of a contractor/roofer to repair the damage that you can visibly see to avoid water damage occurring inside of your home.

As shingles get blown off, or begin curling up water gets trapped under the shingle and can create rot ultimately leading to water damage seeping into your ceiling, into your home. If you live in a two story or multi-story home you could be potentially looking at structure damage, not just sheet rock and superficial repairs.

Water can wreak havoc on property. Water left sitting on materials can leave to mold, dry rot, fungus, etc. Homeowners insurance will only cover these types of water losses when they are caught quickly and have not led to a negligent amount of damage. Most homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage for mold and fungus. The reason, water causes these issues. Had the water damage been reported and cared for in a timely manner, the mold and fungus would most likely not have grown and created further damage to the property. Insurance companies require the assistance of the homeowner to help prevent further damage to the property, and to help eliminate the chances of damage to the property.

These things can help keep your premiums down, and eliminate unsightly insurance increases dues to claims. Follow these steps to help decrease water losses caused by roof related issues:

  1. During this season inspect your roof regularly. Each windstorm/rainstorm can cause changes to your roof.
  2. Repair all curling, missing, or worn shingles.
  3. Inspect your gutters and maintain clean drainage systems for proper rainwater drainage.
  4. Inspect your roof for moss growing, and clean it off if it is there.
  5. Make sure there is no standing water.
  6. Inspect the sides of your home for water marks, which could be indicators of water damage leaking from the sides of the roof.
  7. Any damage repair immediately.

STAGNANT WATER

Stagnant water can lead to damage alongside the bottom section of your property as well. If you see you have “pooling” water in areas of your property please set up a siphon system defer water away from your property. There are also pumps you can purchase to redirect the water. You can also go the sand bag route, though this can become messy and they are heavy and not easy to maneuver.

Most importantly, when you see damage occurring do all you can to stop it from causing more damage. Contact your insurance agent and speak to them immediately about what can be done to rectify the issue to avoid larger issues arising. The key is containing the small problem, before it grows into a larger one.

It’s March…we should see sunshine soon, RIGHT?! Well, I certainly hope so…until then, stay dry, stay aware, and remember I’m always available to answer questions, and help out in any way.

Happy Monday!!

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Is your home OVERinsured?

“Your life is not stagnant, therefore, your insurance shouldn’t be either.”

Of course we are always more concerned if we are underinsured, it’s always the question you ask yourself. Do I have enough insurance? Will I be covered in the event of a loss? What happens if I make a claim?

These are all important questions, even more important is to be given the correct answers.

What homeowners don’t know is that their homeowners insurance policies need to be evaluated annually. Without doing so your home could currently be UNDERinsured, and believe it or not, OVERinsured.

Properties are evaluated for a “reconstruction cost” or “replacement cost” valuation which in basic terms: is the cost to rebuild your home based on cost of material (boards, nails, shingles, etc.) and labor. This coverage is a dollar amount listed on your homeowners declaration page. This amount is referred to as Dwelling Coverage and/or sometimes Coverage A.

This amount is not always determined properly. I’ve seen countless declaration pages that are tens of thousands of dollars undervalued. I have also seen many who are tens of thousands OVER valued. I’ll tell you how this happens.

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Under Valuation

When your homeowners policy is not adequately insuring the replacement cost or reconstruction cost of your home there are many factors that could have led to this. One, and the one I see more prevalently, is that your home was insured during the sale/escrow for the market valuation. Market value is the estimated price at which your property would be sold on the open market between a willing buyer and a willing seller under all conditions for a fair sale [1] Market value is not an accurate representation of what your home should be insured for.

  1. Market value has nothing to do with the actual cost it would take to rebuild your home.
  2. Market value fluctuates throughout the year, and is based on supply and demand, along with comps in your area.

As you can see, market value has no bearing, whatsoever, on the cost associated to reconstruct your home. Yet, so many insured’s properties are covered for the market value, not the reconstruction cost.

Perhaps you purchased your home during a “buyers” market, and your insurance company has you valued for market value. Your coverage amount may need to be re-evaluated. If these things aren’t regularly looked at you could end up with a partial or total loss of your home and not have adequate funds to reconstruct your investment/home.

Over Evaluation

Yes, this is an issue to. From time-to-time you can find homeowners policies that have overvalued the cost to reconstruct your home. When I determine the reconstruction cost of a property I use a valuation system that takes into consideration every aspect of your property. This includes information from, what type of roof you have, the size of your kitchen, whether you have upgraded rooms or not, the percentage of carpeting, to tile, to hardwood flooring, etc. I then review the average dollar per square foot it costs to reconstruct property within your zip code/area. Based on these two valuations I develop a median, which is what I insure my properties at. This gives an accurate representation of where your property valuation on a reconstruction/replacement cost basis should be.

You don’t need to be paying for coverage you don’t need. If your home doesn’t take $400,000 to rebuild, then you don’t need $400,000 in dwelling coverage.

Vice versa, if your property requires $400,000 in Dwelling coverage and you currently have $320,000 you’re looking at ending up with a severely smaller house if you have a total loss of your home.

On average, based upon a home located within a mid-range residential area a 2,000 square foot home should be insured from anywhere between $360,000-$400,000 (Please note, this is a rough approximation, and does not take into consideration specialty systems).

A 1,500 square foot home is in the range of $270,000-$300,000 (Please note, this is a rough approximation, and does not take into consideration specialty systems).

How we fix this…

We take steps to accurately evaluate each and every property to guarantee proper coverage is put into place to protect you and your family. My agency is concerned for the well-being of you and your family and we take pride in knowing that your coverage will restore you to the place you were prior to a claim/loss.

My agency performs annual, if not biannual reviews of all my client’s policies. We review all figures, coverages, and confirm that everything is still relevant, and make changes as necessary. Your life is not stagnant, therefore, your insurance shouldn’t be either.