<![CDATA[Carolina Insurance Alliance - Blog]]>Wed, 14 Mar 2018 04:34:53 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Considering joining a car-sharing service? Four things you should know.]]>Sat, 17 Feb 2018 17:37:34 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/considering-joining-a-car-sharing-service-four-things-you-should-knowCar SharingCar
Today, as car sharing has grown in popularity (well over a million people are members of various services in the U.S., according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC)), the number of options has grown, too. 

You can borrow a company-owned car (think Zipcar or Car2Go) for a few hours at a time or for a daily rate, returning it to the spot where you picked it up or a drop-off area in a designated zone. You can even rent cars from other individuals—and rent your car to them. 

There are benefits and drawbacks to car sharing—just as there are when driving your own car everywhere. But is sharing right for you? Here are four things you should consider before you get started. 

  1. Car sharing can be a great way to save money and increase flexibility. According to AAA, in 2017 the annual cost of owning and operating a new car averaged nearly $8,500—and that doesn't include payments for the cost of the car itself. Because car-sharing services allow you to pay only for the time you're using a car (in addition to certain fees), the cost can be significantly lower. If you don't need a car often, or if you occasionally need a second car, sharing might be a good choice.
  2. It can help the environment (and reduce traffic), too. In a five-city study, the TSRC found that users of one car-sharing service decreased their greenhouse-gas emissions by an average of 10%. The study also indicated that 28,000 fewer vehicles were on the roads in those cities, thanks to the company. If this trend leads to fewer cars being produced overall, that would carry its own environmental benefit—according to the European Commission, 20% of the climate damage caused by cars happens not during driving, but while they're being built.
  3. If you're thinking about peer-to-peer sharing, you need to check your state's laws.Peer-to-peer renting has many benefits, and often includes a selection of interesting cars. But if you're the one providing the car, participating in the network can create issues, depending on where you live. Some states have enacted regulations around peer-to-peer sharing, including a limit on how much revenue you can generate annually with your vehicle. The sharing program itself also needs to meet certain requirements.
  4. No matter what you choose, check your insurance coverage. Sharing your own vehicle in a peer-to-peer network in some states could put you at risk—even though these programs include insurance, it might not be enough to cover medical expenses and other costs in the event of a crash. Also, your insurance company might not renew your auto policy, or your premiums could increase significantly. Car-sharing programs that feature company-owned vehicles include insurance, too, but it might be wise to consider additional coverage. For example, your credit card might provide extra protection, and insurance companies have non-owner policies available as well.
There's a lot to like about car sharing, but there's a lot to think about, too. Don't hit the road before you weigh the pros and cons—and make sure you're protected.

<![CDATA[Why Today's Homes Burn Faster]]>Fri, 27 Oct 2017 00:08:35 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/why-todays-homes-burn-fasterPicture
From building materials to furnishings, many of the things in your home likely aren’t as flame-resistant as those from yesteryear.

A fire in a modern home is a “perfect storm,” according to safety consulting and certification company UL (Underwriters Laboratories).

Larger homes, more open layouts, new construction materials and other factors mean fires burn more quickly, leaving less time for occupants to escape — and for firefighters to stop the flames. How much less time? About 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to get out of the house once it caught fire. Today? Just three or four minutes.

A lot goes into creating that “perfect storm,” experts say. Here are some key factors:

  • Building materials. Particle board and other man-made materials, which are lighter and cheaper than natural wood, often are used to construct homes today. This leads to larger homes at a lower cost, but they also burn more quickly than solid wood, concrete or masonry.
  • More space — and more stuff. Fires can spread quickly in homes that are largely open, with high ceilings, etc. And homes that are bigger typically have more things in them — which means there’s more fuel for the fire.
  • Newer stuff. The old days of couches, carpets, etc., made from all-natural materials are long gone. That’s great news for durability and price, but it’s not great for limiting fires. Though many modern furnishings are excellent at resisting smoldering (such as if a cigarette is dropped), once they actually catch fire, they burn very quickly.
What can you do? Well, unless you’re having a house built or doing an extensive remodel, you can’t really change the materials used to construct your home. However, there are a few things you should do immediately to help keep you and your family safe, no matter where you live:

  • Make sure your smoke detectors are in working order.
  • Create an escape plan for you and your family.
  • Place fire extinguishers on each level of your home, as well as in the garage.
To learn more about fire safety, check out these tips from the American Red Cross. Because the best fire protection of all is preventing one from starting in the first place!

<![CDATA[Ways to Save on your Home Insurance]]>Sat, 30 Sep 2017 18:20:11 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/ways-to-save-on-your-home-insurancePicture
This post is part of a series of insurance blogs on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of local independent agents and aimed at helping you understand insurance coverage and other important issues

If you feel like you’re paying more for homeowners insurance than you used to, you might be right. Over the past 20 years, these rates have increased over 50% - and U.S. homeowners pay an average of $952 annually, according to ValuePenguin, which provides consumers with research and guidance on financial topics.

You want to make sure your home is protected, but you don’t want to pay more than you have to, either. Here are eight things you can do to make sure you get the best deal on homeowners insurance:

  1. Shop around. Rates can vary dramatically from one company to another - and there are hundreds of different insurers that offer homeowners insurance. If you haven’t researched the market in the past 24 months, it makes sense to shop. Your local independent agent can help, and since they aren’t tied to one insurance company, they can offer you plenty of options.
  2. Increase your deductible. Many policies are written with a $500 deductible, but depending on where you live, you could save 10% or more by increasing your deductible to $1,000. This one change can help significantly reduce or even eliminate your annual premium increase altogether. And some people opt for even higher deductibles, all the way up to $5,000 - but they need to be diligent about keeping funds set aside in case they need to file a claim.
  3. Don’t file small claims. If a homeowners claim would cost less than $1,000, it probably doesn’t make sense to file it. Insurance companies track customer claims, and even a claim of a few hundred dollars could cause a client to miss out on “loss-free” discounts.
  4. Bundle with auto or umbrella insurance. When you buy insurance for your home and car from the same company, you usually get a significant discount on both policies. Other policies, such as umbrella insurance, might qualify, too.
  5. Maintain good credit. In most states, insurers offer discounts to applicants with high credit scores, so keeping a solid credit history can lower your insurance costs. To protect your credit rating, pay your bills on time, keep outstanding balances low, and monitor your credit report regularly.
  6. Review your policy carefully. You likely are eligible for a number of discounts and credits, so make sure you get them! Homeowners often receive discounts for having newer homes, multiple policies with the same company, good credit and a clean claims history. Even your proximity to a fire hydrant might save you money. And if your situation has changed, let your insurer know immediately as you could be eligible for even more discounts.
  7. Look into group insurance discounts. Some organizations offer special insurance programs to employees, usually with discounts of 5% to 10% and features such as payment via payroll deduction. You also may qualify for discounts if you are a member of a union, auto club, alumni association, or professional group.
  8. Improve your home security and safety. Deadbolts, burglar alarms, and other security devices are all ways to keep your home safe and potentially lower your insurance costs. For example, an alarm that connects to police, fire, or other monitoring stations can save you as much as 20% on your homeowners premium.
Keep in mind that different companies offer different discounts, and your options might vary depending on where you live. An local independent agent who knows your market can help you find the best coverage at the best price for your needs. 

<![CDATA[How to Choose the Right Life Jacket]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:54:12 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/how-to-choose-the-right-life-jacketPicture
You can lower your risk of drowning by wearing a life jacket — but it can’t be just any life jacket. To truly be effective, a life jacket needs to be the right type and fit correctly. 

You probably know you should wear a life jacket when you’re on the water, and you probably know it’s important for kids to wear one, too. (For kids, life jackets typically are required by state law; in states with no law, the U.S. Coast Guard requires anyone under the age of 13 on a moving boat to have one.) 

But do you know just how important it is? According to the Coast Guard, drowning causes more than 70% of boating deaths — and more than 80% of victims are found without a life jacket. 

Even wearing a life jacket won’t do much good if it doesn’t fit correctly, though. So how do you choose the right one? Here are some tips from experts with the Coast Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps. 

First, choose the right type for your activities. Gone are the days when all life jackets were just those bulky orange vests you might remember from your childhood. There are different types for all kinds of activities now — including recreational boating, paddle sports such as kayaking or canoeing, even hunting and fishing. Some life jackets have auto-inflation features, so they can be worn more comfortably but still provide protection if someone falls into the water. 

  • For recreational boating, vest-type jackets are best, according to the Marines, particularly in calm, inland waters where help isn’t far away.
  • If you’re going to be in rough water, or further out from shore, an offshore life jacket is better, because it’s more buoyant. Some models are even designed to help prevent hypothermia.
  • For activities on the water, such as waterskiing, kayaking, etc., specially designed life jackets provide additional range of motion.

Then, make sure everyone has a jacket that fits properly.According to the Coast Guard, if a life jacket is too big, it won’t keep your head above the water. And if it’s too small, it might not have the buoyancy required to keep your body afloat. Remember, a life jacket sized for an adult will not work for a child. Here’s how to get the best fit. 

  • Check the manufacturer’s label for size and weight guidelines.
  • Fasten the jacket correctly, then hold your arms straight over your head.
  • Ask a friend to pull up on the jacket, holding the tops of the arm openings.
  • If there is excess room above the openings, or the jacket rides up over your chin, it’s too big.
  • It’s a good idea to try the life jacket in shallow water before taking it out for activities.

Don’t forget about your pets. Even dogs that are strong swimmers can struggle in open water or get fatigued. So if you’ve got a dog coming with you on the water, the American Kennel Club recommends a life jacket for them, too! Available at pet stores and online, options include vests, which make it easier to swim, and jackets, which provide more buoyancy.

Remember, nobody expects to be in an accident on the water — and if you think you’ll have time to just throw a life jacket on when something bad happens, think again. In most cases of boating-related drowning, the Coast Guard says, life jackets were stowed on board but not worn by victims.

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors by getting out on the water. But no matter what activity you choose, make sure you choose safety — find the right life jacket and wear it!

<![CDATA[Will Cars of the Future Leave Drivers in the Past?]]>Sat, 03 Jun 2017 17:09:09 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/will-cars-of-the-future-leave-drivers-in-the-pastPicture
If you're like most people, you start up the car every morning and get ready to fight traffic on your way to work. But wouldn't it be nice to read a book on your commute instead? Or check your email? Even send a few texts?

Today, that's not possible for drivers. (Actually, it is possible, but it's dangerous. And way too many people do those things and worse behind the wheel.)

Tomorrow, however, self-driving cars might give us all the ability to do those things safely. And two amazing concept cars at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas provided a glimpse of an exciting future.

Each January, thousands of people from across the world attend CES to see the latest innovations in technology. Sam Affolter, senior director of research and innovation at Safeco, was there this year — and he's intrigued by where the auto industry is headed.

"One of the coolest displays at CES was Toyota's Concept-i car," Affolter said. "It has a digital assistant called 'Yui,' an artificial-intelligence personality that customizes itself based on the different people in the car."

With inward-facing cameras, Yui (pronounced "U-E") identifies who's in the car and where they're sitting, and will recommend switching to autonomous mode when its facial-recognition technology senses the driver is distracted or sleepy.

It also learns your habits and preferences, Affolter said. "I prefer to be moving rather than stuck in traffic — and Yui will pick up on that and recommend routes that may be longer but with less congestion."

Honda also made a big splash at CES with its NeuV, which stands for "New Electric Urban Vehicle." Private vehicles are not in use 95% of the time, and Honda says the NeuV (pronounced "New-V") could make good use of that extra capacity. It can function as an automated ride-sharing vehicle, picking up and dropping off customers at local destinations when the owner is not using the car. And when it's idle, the NeuV even can sell energy back to the electric grid.

"It's important to note that neither of these cars is rolling off the assembly line," Affolter said. "They're just examples of the possibilities."
That may be a good thing, because it's going to take time for people to get used to the idea of giving up control.

Both Yui and NeuV help break this barrier by acclimating drivers to the AI system in ways that can build trust, according to Affolter. Providing accurate, helpful information and recommendations over time increases the chances you'll say "OK" when Yui or NeuV offer to take the wheel when you look tired or appear distracted.

"These innovations are paving the way to a more driverless future," Affolter said. "It's going to be really interesting to see where it leads us."

<![CDATA[Not Texting is a Start, but There’s More to Safe Driving]]>Mon, 08 May 2017 13:04:55 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/not-texting-is-a-start-but-theres-more-to-safe-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.
<![CDATA[You Don’t Have to Be Handy to Make Your Home More Livable]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 13:46:42 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/you-dont-have-to-be-handy-to-make-your-home-more-livablePicture
Home improvement: It’s a never-ending process for many people, and for those of us who aren’t necessarily handy, it can be a hassle, too.

But there are plenty of simple maintenance tasks and other improvements you can handle to make your home safer - whether you’re handy or not. And you won’t have to break out the power tools (or any tools at all in some instances) or worry about getting in over your head.

Water Works
You need running water in your home - but not water running in your home, if you know what we mean. Even minor leaks can cause major problems, from higher water bills to damage requiring costly repairs (maybe even the kind you can’t tackle yourself). Here are some easy ways to make sure your water stays where it should:

  • Check your appliances. They’re the most common source of water leaks in homes, so it’s worth taking a look at least once a year to check for problems. And the hoses that come with your washer and dishwasher can mean big trouble - they break down over time. Look for kinks and cracks, and replace if needed. Consider using reinforced hoses, too; those with steel braiding or mesh won’t hold up forever, but they’re stronger than rubber or plastic.
  • Watch the pressure. Water pressure that is set too high can cause pipes, hoses and water lines to leak or burst. Inexpensive gauges are available at home-improvement stores to test your pressure.
  • Consider installing water sensors. These can alert you to a leak or other problem soon after it occurs - some can even send messages to your smartphone.
Keep Your Family (and Your Guests) On Their Feet
Millions of Americans - many of them older adults - are injured in falls each year. About 2.5 million were hurt in 2013 alone, according to the National Safety Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Look around your home. Should you make some of these fixes?

  • Reduce clutter. Everything from small pieces of furniture to area rugs can pose a hazard, so make sure they’re in appropriate places and out of the way if possible.
  • Add stability to stairs. Make sure stairways have sturdy rails, and maybe even non-slip strips, particularly outdoors.
  • Let there be light. It’s hard to walk safely when you can’t see obstacles or potential trouble spots. Make sure your home is well-lit, and don’t forget night lights, too.
Give Everyone Some Air
Pollution isn’t just an outside thing - the air in your home can be unhealthy, too. But helping people breathe a little easier isn’t hard when you follow these steps:

  • Test the air (and your detectors). Make sure you have working carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors and test them regularly. Also, consider testing your home for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can be dangerous over time.
  • Check your filters and ducts. Keeping your furnace filter and air ducts clean will keep your air cleaner as well. And consider adding some of nature’s air filters: plants.
  • Keep your home clean. Dust doesn’t just build up on the furniture - it ends up in the air as well. Regular cleaning means cleaner air (just be sure to use safe products).
Home improvement doesn’t have to mean a kitchen remodel or finishing the basement. Making your home safer, in fact, just might be the best improvement of all.

<![CDATA[Choose an Insurance Agent in 4 Steps]]>Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:18:46 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/choose-an-insurance-agent-in-4-stepsPicture

​It’s Not Just a Quote, It’s a Relationship

Shopping for insurance? You may think you’re simply looking for an insurance policy. But, perhaps, what you’re really looking for isn’t a what but a who: Someone you can trust to guide you through the plethora of insurance choices, rather than trying to make sense of all the options yourself online.
That someone is an insurance agent, but there are countless agents out there – not to mention different types. So, how do you choose? Use these four steps to select the type of agent that’s right for you and find one you want to work with to purchase, review and manage your policies on an ongoing basis.
1. Know the Types of Insurance AgentsSome insurance agents represent only one insurance company. These are known as direct, or captive, agents, and they are direct employees of the company whose policies they sell. Any policy he or she sells will be from that company, and that company only.
An independent insurance agent, on the other hand, represents a number of different carriers, oftentimes as an employee of a local agency in your community. An independent agent isn’t restricted by what any one carrier offers, so he or she has more flexibility to help you explore a broader range of options.
And, what about commissions? Both direct and independent agents receive commissions from the companies they represent.
2. Get RecommendationsThe best way to predict what kind of service you can expect from an agent is to find out what kind of service he or she has provided in the past. Ask for recommendations from family, friends and neighbors, and then ask for more details.
  • What does your friend or co-worker like about that agent?
  • Have there been any problems or complications?
  • Was the agent helpful, attentive and friendly?
  • Was the agent knowledgeable, answering all questions satisfactorily?
  • Most importantly, were the agent and the company he or she represents dependable, timely and supportive through the process of resolving a claim?
3. Research the Agency and AgentOnce you have a few recommendations in hand, it’s time to research your prospective agents, the agencies where they work and the companies they represent. Here are a few places to check:
  • The website of your state’s Department of Insurance. Here you can likely see any complaints, investigations or disciplinary actions against agents, as well as ensure they have an active license. You can likely look up information about various carriers, as well.
  • Local chambers of commerce or the Better Business Bureau.
  • The agency’s own website, which should outline their services, the types of insurance they offer and the carriers they represent.
  • Online reviews, such as on Yelp, for the agency.
4. Interview the AgentYour research paid off, leading you to an agent in your area who seems like a good match for you. Now’s the time to ask some tough questions to be sure.
Tell the agent what you’d like to insure, and ask how he or she would be able to help. If you or a friend has gone through difficult insurance experiences before, ask how he or she would deal with a similar situation.
Ask if he or she gets involved in the claims process, or ask any of those other questions you’ve always wondered about insurance. Pay attention to whether the agent offers specific examples or speaks in generalities, as well as to whether he or she is talking about insurance in a way that makes sense to you. You can also ask for references.
A prospective agent may be able to give you a quote at this point. But, what you really want is a sense of how well you could work with this person. Is this someone with whom you can communicate easily and in whom you can place your trust?
Because, when you’re shopping for an insurance agent, you’re not just looking for an attractive quote. You’re looking for a good working relationship that can endure through new cars or homes, fender benders, storm damage and much more.

<![CDATA[February 24th, 2017]]>Fri, 24 Feb 2017 22:27:05 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/february-24th-2017Picture

A condominium is different from a house or an apartment — you own part of a building or a property, but not all of it. Insurance for condominium owners is different, too.
Just like homeowners and renters, people who own a condo unit want to be insured against financial loss brought about by such dangers as theft, fire and lawsuits. But, a condominium will typically be covered by two separate insurance policies that protect different parts of the whole.
The first of these two policies will be held by your condominium association, or other administrative group. It’s sometimes known as the master policy. This policy covers the structures and areas owned in common by all the unit owners. This usually includes the roof and exterior walls, stairways, recreation rooms, elevators, swimming pool and grounds.
The other policy is your individual coverage, and it needs to protect your personal property and that portion of the building that belongs to you.
What do you own?But, which parts belong to you? Depending on the state where you live and the particular condominium you buy into, you might own — and have responsibility for insuring, if coverage is available — everything between the bare walls, floor and ceiling of your unit. This could include carpeting, floor tile, bathroom fixtures, cabinets, appliances, countertops and interior walls.
In some cases, the master policy might cover your unit’s original fixtures, making you responsible only for any alterations or modifications that you make. In still other cases, you might also be responsible for what’s inside your walls: plumbing and wiring.
If your unit comes with a patio, balcony, garage or garden area, those will also likely be your responsibility. If it includes a “limited common” area, such as a balcony or room that you share with only one or a few other units, you will probably want to insure your share of it as well, if possible.
The details of what property you own should all be spelled out in the association agreement you get at the time you purchase the condominium. You’ll want to bring that agreement along when you discuss condo insurance coverage with your independent agent.
What does condo insurance cover?One feature of condominium insurance, as with homeowners insurance, is coverage for the structure – the inside of your unit, that is. A condo policy will generally cover interior structures, such as cabinets, flooring and countertops within your unit’s surrounding walls, but only as specified in your policy. For example, damage to the interior of your unit due to fire or vandalism may be covered. Damage caused by neglect may not be.
A standard policy usually provides even more protection than that. Typical condo insurance coverage, within the limits of your particular policy, may help to cover:
  • Loss assessments when a covered peril damages the community’s common property and your association bills you for a share of the repair costs.

  • Personal property, such as TVs, furniture, computers and artwork, that’s stolen or damaged in a covered peril, such as a burglary.

  • Damage to another’s property for which you’re held responsible.

  • Medical payments, if a guest is injured on your property.

  • Temporary housing costs if you’re unable to live in your unit due to a covered loss.
Additional condo insurance coverage may also be available. It might be wise, depending upon your circumstances, to consider:
  • Coverage for individual items from your personal property. “Scheduling” an item on your policy designates coverage just for it, usually at the appraised value, in cases when your policy does not provide enough coverage. For example, you may have a ring worth $8,000 but your policy only covers $3,000 worth of jewelry. By scheduling the ring, you can insure its full appraised value.

  • Higher coverage for loss assessments.

  • Flood, water backup or earthquake coverages, if your unit is in a floodplain, susceptible to drain backup or in a potential earthquake zone.
How much coverage should you get?Since there’s much less property and structure to cover with condo insurance than with homeowners, it generally costs less to insure a condo. To find out how much less, you will have to do your homework. Study your association agreement to determine exactly what parts of the structure you own and are responsible for insuring. Tally the value of your personal property, giving special attention to costly or irreplaceable items. Then visit an independent insurance agent, with your association documents in hand, and explore the range of possible coverages. Then kick back and enjoy your home. You’ve earned it.

Pay Less for Condo InsuranceA variety of factors will impact how much you pay for condominium insurance. One is how much personal property you have, and how much it’s all worth. Another is your deductible. If you choose a lower deductible, your premium may be higher – and vice versa. To save on condo insurance, you may want to consider a higher deductible, as well as insuring your car, motorcycle and other assets with the same carrier. Discuss available insurance discounts with your independent agent today.

<![CDATA[ 4 Insurance Gaps to Avoid This Winter]]>Sat, 31 Dec 2016 14:38:20 GMThttp://carolinainsurancealliance.com/blog/-4-insurance-gaps-to-avoid-this-winterPicture
Generally speaking, gaps are a bad thing. If there’s a gap in the sidewalk, you may trip and break your arm. If there’s a gap in your data, you may draw the wrong conclusion. And, if there’s a gap in your insurance coverage? You may find yourself unexpectedly paying out-of-pocket to repair your home or vehicle.
Insurance gaps are a rotten surprise, and unfortunately they don’t go away just because you ignore them. In fact, the more you know the better. So, let’s take a closer look at insurance gaps and how they may occur.
What Is an Insurance Gap?A coverage gap is an area or type of risk that an insurance policy does not cover.
How Do Insurance Gaps Occur?An insurance gap may occur when your policy does not offer any coverage for a particular type of risk (i.e. it’s an “excluded risk”). Alternately, coverage may be available but you did not purchase any or enough of it.
How Can I Avoid Insurance Gaps?Here’s the tricky part: You’ll always have coverage gaps. There’s simply no insurance policy or combination of policies to fully protect you from every single risk there is. However, you can work with your independent insurance agent to help identify and address many of the most common gaps.
Here’s another tricky thing about insurance gaps: They can be hard to identify if you don’t know your policy well or if you simply assume you are covered when you actually aren’t. For example, here are four wintertime scenarios when unknown or ignored coverage gaps may cost you severely:
  1. Snow Melt Overwhelms Your Sump Pump
    And, now your basement is flooded. There’s a gap here because the typical homeowners policy does not cover damage resulting from overflow or discharge from a sump pump. However, you can help to close the gap by purchasing additional coverage, such as Backup of Water and Sewer, if it’s available from your carrier. Adding it to your policy will increase your premium, but it could also increase your peace of mind against the threat of water damage.

  2. An Auto Accident Injures Your Carpool of Carolers
    Your family and a neighboring family are carpooling to a caroling event downtown, and you volunteered to drive. On the way, you lose control of your minivan going around an icy bend and collide with an SUV. Now you’re on the line for damage to the SUV and your own vehicle, as well as injuries to the SUV’s driver and to the three passengers in your vehicle who were hurt. There could be multiple coverage gaps here, depending on the specifics of your policy. They may include:

    • Too little liability coverage. Most states require you to carry Property Damage Liability and Bodily Injury Liability on your auto policy. Even still, you may find that you have a coverage gap if you selected low liability limits for your policy. In other words, the cost of the damage to and injuries in the SUV could be greater than the total coverage that your policy provides. When that happens, it’s your responsibility to cover the remaining costs.

    • No Collision Coverage. You may not have this on your policy since it’s not one of the coverages most states require you to carry. That means you’ll be on your own to pay for your vehicle repairs, especially if you’re at-fault for an accident.

    • No medical coverage for your own passengers. Some states require a form of this coverage, such as Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection. In other states, it may be optional. Without it, you may be looking at some significant out-of-pocket costs for the medical needs of the three carolers injured in your vehicle.

  3. A Total Loss Leaves You Paying for a Car You Can No Longer Drive
    It’s perhaps the most exciting holiday season ever: You got a new car. A brand new car that, unfortunately, was stolen and totaled just a week later. Now your car is gone, but your payments aren’t. There’s an $11,000 gap between what your insurance carrier pays you for the total loss ($14,500) and what you still owe on the vehicle ($25,500). That’s because your carrier covers the actual value of the car, not the financed value. So, when insuring a new car, be sure to ask about closing the gap with an option sometimes known as Loan and Lease Coverage. It can help make those remaining payments disappear, depending on the specifics of your coverage.

  4. A Thief Makes off With Your Diamond Ring and Earrings
    A holiday burglary is a most unwelcome surprise when you return home from celebrating with relatives. But, you have Personal Property Coverage on your homeowners or renters policy, so where’s the gap? It’s here: Your stolen jewelry is worth $13,900, but your policy has a $5,000 cap on how much it will pay toward jewelry in a single incident. You’re short $8,900 of coverage. It’s a gap you can help to close by “scheduling” high-value items on your policy. Scheduling allows for dedicated coverage for individual items under a policy that otherwise would not cover the full value of your belongings. Be sure to have a current appraisal of the item to share with your independent agent.
Insurance gaps can make a bad situation worse, which is why it’s so important to understand your policy and address any coverage gaps that seem particularly concerning. Your independent agent, as always, can help. What else can help? An umbrella policy, which provides extra liability coverage on top of what an auto or home policy provides. It may just save the day if the damages keep adding up – and adding up – following a severe accident.