Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Commercial or Personal Auto: Which is Right?



If, like many Americans, your family car is also used for purposes that could be considered commercial use, you may want to steer yourself into a chair and look over your insurance policy.

You'll need to consider buying a commercial policy or make sure your existing policy covers the vehicle for business use.  Every company has different guidelines and may surcharge for business-use coverage on a personal auto policy.

One thing to keep in mind when determining if you should have a commercial auto or personal auto policy is that it isn't where you drive, but why you are driving:

  • Are you a sales manager who visits different stores/locations within your region?
  • Are you delivering pizza or other goods to customers?
  • Do employees drive your vehicle?
  • Do you drive people for a fee?  (Rideshare such as Uber or Lyft)
  • Does your vehicle have commercial license plates?
  • Do you haul equipment such as trailers, ladders, etc. in or on your vehicle?
  • Do you need more liability coverage than a personal auto policy provides?  
  • Do you need special coverage for situations encountered while conducting business?  
If you are think that you might need a commercial auto policy, or have questions about what is covered under your personal auto policy, please give your helpful Absolute Insurance agent a call today at 515-279-2722 or email us at service@insaia.com.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Rental Car Rules

Do you have an upcoming trip planned where you will be renting a rental car?  Pekin Insurance, one of the companies that we represent, posted a blog earlier this month regarding rental cars and how to avoid a big rental car bill.  
  1. Make Sure Your Insurance Checks Out:  The vast majority of insurance policies transfer over to rental cars - the coverage you have on your vehicle would be the same coverage as the rental car.  For example, if you have liability-only coverage on your vehicle, your rental car would have liability-only insurance.  If a claim were to come up, it would be filed with your auto insurance company.  Your credit card company you use when paying for your rental car may also provide some coverage as well.  Before you rent a car, you should talk to your insurance agent or credit card company to know what coverages transfer.
  2. Your Age Affects Price:  Some companies will apply a "Young Driver" charge for any driver under 25
  3. Watch Out for Extra Fees:  Make sure to read the rental agreement to avoid extra fees.  There are usually additional fees for returning the car with less than a full tank of gas, using a toll transponder, or using GPS.  
  4. Skip the Inspection at Your Own Risk:  Before you drive off in your rental car, make sure to take the time to do an interior and exterior inspection of the car.  If you have a smartphone, make sure to document any existing damage with pictures or videos and report them before driving off.  (Make sure to get down under the bumper too)
  5. Think Before You Sync:  Several in-vehicle systems store information such as contact information and even work/home addresses.
  6. More Drivers Could Mean More Money:  Before you add more drivers, look at what extra fees might be included with each additional driver and evaluate whether you think additional drivers are needed
For more information, check out the blog from Pekin Insurance!  If you have any questions about what coverage transfers from your auto policy, contact your agent.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Telematics


Many of our auto insurance companies offer a discount if you sign-up for Telematics, or usage-based insurance.  Telematics, or usage-based insurance, is a type of auto insurance that tracks mileage and driving behaviors such as hard braking, fast acceleration, nighttime driving, and idle time.  This means that your insurance premium is affected by your driving habits.  Driving is monitored either with a self-installed device or through a mobile application on your smartphone.  Some companies also provide tips to drivers on how they can improve their driving.

Each company offers their own Telematics program and how the program works varies by company as well.  Click on the links here for a few of our companies to learn more about the specific program offered by your insurer:
If you have any questions regarding how enrolling in telematics could affect your policy, please contact your agent today!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Teen Monitoring Discount - Auto Owners


Auto Owners now offers a new 5% discount for teen monitoring.  How does the Teen Monitoring discount work?  You can use an app on a phone or certain GPS units.  The information from the app/GPS must go to the parents.  It is not shared with Auto Owners.

If your teen is between the ages of 16-20, they are eligible for this discount.  All it takes is a GPS unit attached to the vehicle the teen principally operates OR the teen in an eligible application on their smartphone. This discount will be applied upon the receipt of the proof of the purchase or other documentation.

Eligibility:
Eligible GPS units and smart phone applications must meet the following criteria:
Locate Vehicle-the ability to determine the vehicle’s location via Web or phone.
Speed-the ability to know the teen driver’s speed and other various

The discount is removed when the operator turns 21, gets married, or is removed from the policy.

An otherwise eligible operator is no longer eligible for this discount if they have had:
More than 1 at-fault accident, or
More than 1 violation resulting in 2 or more conviction surcharge points, or
One violation resulting in 4 or more conviction surcharge points, or
One at-fault accident and 1 violation resulting in 2 or more conviction surcharge point.

If this is something you are interested in, here is a hyperlink of 5 companies that could help you with the discount! https://www.hellotech.com/blog/5-of-the-best-teen-driving-apps-for-parents/.  Auto-Owners has recommended these two apps that are eligible for this discount: Life360 and SafeDriver which are both mentioned in the article.  If you are interested in a different teen monitoring app, let us know and we can check to make sure that it would be eligible for the discount too - they need to monitor location, speed, and other driving habits if available.

We have an insured who uses the free version of the Life360 app and they really like it.  They know that their college child is in class so not to call, or that their child made it to work or a friend's house, etc.  Even if you don't have your auto insurance with Auto-Owners, you might want to see if these teen monitoring apps might be useful to you and your family.

If you have any questions regarding this new discount, please contact your agent directly, email us at service@insaia.com, or call our office at (515)279-2722.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Summer Energy Savings

Beat the Heat - and Your Air Conditioning Bill - This Summer


Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Americans spend about $11 billion each year on air conditioning?  That might not be such a surprise if you're the one who writes the check for your household energy bill every month.

Believe it or not, you can spend less on cooling costs while still keeping cool.  Here are five things to do to adjust the thermostat:
  1. Make sure your house isn't part of the problem.  If your home isn't insulated and sealed well, warm air could be leaking in, sabotaging your efforts to cool things down.  Make sure all cracks and openings are sealed, along with your ducts.  The DOE says air loss through ducts can account for 30 percent of the energy a cooling system uses.
  2. Keep that breeze flowing.  Natural ventilation is a great way to decrease the temperature in your home without using any energy.  Open windows in the mornings or evenings when the air is cool and get a cross-breeze going throughout the house.
  3. Check that the heat isn't on.  You might be heating your house in the summer without realizing it.  How?  By using the oven, stove, or other appliances that generate heat.  Cook outside whenever you can, and use the dishwasher and clothes driver at cooler times of the day if possible.  Look into drying bedding and clothes outside - sometimes they dry quicker outside in the sun than in the dryer!
  4. Create your own personal cool zone.  Cooling the whole house might not be necessary if you're only using a few rooms.  Set up fans (ceiling fans will allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher), drink plenty of cool liquids and eat cold foods, which can help lower your body temperature.  You might even consider wearing a damp shirt to stay comfortable to putting an ice pack on your forehead, the back of your neck or your wrists.  
  5. Don't forget the basics.  When it's sunny outside, keep your curtain closed.  Minimize your use of lights, as they generate heat.  And, when the outside air is warming than the air in your house, close the windows to keep the cool air in.
We can't promise these tips will keep you just as cool as when you kick back and turn on the AC full-blast.  But saving money every month?  That's pretty cool, too.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Replacement Cost vs Actual Cash Value - What Does it Mean?



Have you ever looked at your homeowners, condo, or renters policy and saw that your property, belongings, and/or roof is listed as being insured for Replacement Cost Value (RCV) or Actual Cost Value (ACV)?  Have you ever wondered what that means?

Replacement Cost (RCV) is the value to replace an item at today's cost.
Actual Cash Value (ACV) is the value for a similar item at today's cost minus depreciation (replacement cost minus depreciation).

What does this mean?  Let's use an example most people have in their house - a couch.  Four years ago when you moved into your house, you purchased a new sectional for $2500.  Last month, your sectional couch was damaged in a covered claim.  
  • If you have actual cash value coverage, the insurance company would pay what the value of the couch today (replacement cost minus depreciation).  In this example, they might determine that after 4 years use, your sectional is only valued at $1800.
  • If you have Replacement Cost coverage, the insurance company will pay what it could cost to buy a similar couch today.  The sectional you purchased 4 years ago might now be $2600 so they would pay that amount. (Some insurance companies will give you the actual cash value of an item and require a receipt for the new item before paying you the remainder)
What does it mean by depreciation?  Over time, your home, contents, and/or roof may lose value due to factors such as age and wear and tear.  This loss in value is commonly known as depreciation.  

RCV and ACV also affects how your roof is insured too.  Some companies only offer RCV coverage for roofs if they were installed within the last 15 years, otherwise the roof is covered for ACV.  

Here are some important things you can do:
  1. Look over your Homeowners, Condo, or Renter's Insurance policy to see what coverages are listed for your policy
  2. On your Homeowners policy, make sure that we have the most recent roof year listed for your home
  3. Take an inventory of your items in your home, and update annually.  It is recommended to take a video of each room, including in your closets and cupboards.  This will help in the event of a house claim.
If you have any questions regarding the coverage on your policy, please contact your Absolute Insurance agent today!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

5 Alarms to Consider for your Home


What alarms and sensors do you need in your home? The answer is different for everyone. But, whatever your situation, today’s technology has you covered with options including online monitoring and more. Here are some common alarms, including two everyone needs to have, and three many people should at least consider:
 
  1. Smoke alarms
    No matter where you live — house, condo, apartment — you need smoke alarms. Place one in every room where people sleep, and at least one on each level of your home. Consider alarms that work for both flaming and smoldering fires (they’re different), as well as an interconnected system so that all alarms sound when one detects smoke.
     
  2. Carbon-monoxide (CO) detectors
    Here’s another must-have. CO — a deadly, odorless gas generated by the burning of fuels such as wood, natural gas or propane — kills hundreds of people a year in the U.S. You should have at least one CO detector on every level of your home, even if you only have electric appliances and heat sources. Your state may even require you to have one.
     
  3. Natural gas detectors
    These alarms usually detect CO and propane leaks, so consider one if you have natural gas appliances in your home. You also need one for your RV or trailer if you use propane to fuel your cooking or heating.
     
  4. Water alarms
    Leaks from appliances or pipes can do extensive — and expensive — damage to your home if they go undetected. Water alarm systems typically use sensors placed near appliances or other trouble spots to alert you when they sense moisture.
     
  5. Security systems
    Whether you want a do-it-yourself system or one that is professionally monitored, you’ve got more options than ever before. You may even be able to check in on your home from wherever you are using your smartphone.
     
When you’re making these important decisions, here’s one more important thing to consider: Some of these alarms could qualify you to save on your homeowners insurance! Please give us a call at 515-279-2722 or email us at service@insaia.com.