How Covid-19 is Changing Life Insurance

Life insurance is a necessity for most adults. Protecting and providing for your family is important should something happen to you. With how drastically our world has changed over the past few months, you may wonder if the life insurance industry has shifted as well.

Life insurance has always been important and relevant for people who have financial dependents, but the true value of it has come into focus. It is about the entire financial security of your loved ones. It is even more important now that we have seen firsthand what a pandemic can do. Views of life insurance and the corresponding policies have shifted slightly.

How Consumers Views of Life Insurance Have Changed

The way people look at life insurance has changed:

  • People are thinking about it more.
    With a pandemic and life being changed so much, people are more concerned about their families and the future. There are so many unknowns and people want to be sure their families are protected. This concern helps bring life insurance back to top of mind for many people. Many life insurance providers have seen an increase in applications during this time. If you have financial dependents, you should look at getting the proper life insurance coverage now.
  • An easy online application is needed.
    Because people are not risking going out as much, the life insurance application needs to be fast, easy and available online. People do not want to go out unecessarily at this time because they are concerned about their health. Because of this, applications need to be quick. Many insurance companies have expanded their automated underwriting processes to help account for this shift in mindset.
  • Affordable and flexible coverage is important.
    Many people are currently unemployed and the economy is struggling. People may be overly cautious when it comes to spending money. They are looking for more affordable life insurance premiums.
  • Exceptional customer service is imperative.
    Life insurance is something that most people do not want to think about. Death is a scary thing and life insurance can be confusing. People will want to talk with someone they trust and someone who will answer questions quickly. They will not want to have to take the time to search out information on their own. A company that is easy to work with is invaluable during this process.
  • Reliability is a high priority.
    People may be finding it difficult to see friends and family during this time. They are connecting more virtually. With this uncertainty hanging over them, they will want something more reliable. They want to work with an insurer who they can count on to be there when they are needed.

 

How Life Insurance Practices and Policies Have Changed

Review these considerations when assessing life insurance:

  • Active policy will not change.
    If people already have an active life insurance policy in place, they do not need to worry about not being covered. Your policy is secure and will not change.
  • Exams are still being required in many cases.
    Even though people are not going out as much, exams will probably still be required. Many insurers use third party companies, who will follow closely with CDC guidelines to ensure patients’ safety.
  • Age restrictions could factor in.
    The full effects of the virus are yet to be seen and some companies may impose limits for those applying for life insurance. Some places have stopped issuing new polcies for people who are over 70 years of age. Applying earlier rather than later is essential, especially with how things are right now.
  • Disclosure of travel.
    Another thing that could factor into your application is travel abroad. This is usually a consideration if you have traveled within the past 30 days. It is important that you are specific on your application and do not omit information because you are worried about getting approved. Your application could be postponed if you traveled to high-infection areas.
  • If you currently have coronavirus, it could affect getting approved.
    Insurers are asking people with coronovirus to wait to apply for coverage. You will need to disclose your medical history and whether you are currently sick. Coronavirus has the potential to make someone terminally ill very quickly, so you may not be able to get a guaranteed issue policy until you have recovered.
  • Otherwise, do not wait out pandemic before getting coverage.
    With the looming pandemic, many people are avoiding doing certain things. Acquiring life insurance should not be one of them. It is even more important to have this protection during times of crisis.
  • Changes are company-dependent.
    The changes above are things to consider, but you need to confirm any policies with the individual insurer.

Our team can help you with any questions you may have about life insurance. Contact us at Bieritz Insurance today.

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The Impacts of Being Underinsured

Insurance is meant to protect your home, your car, your belongings and your family from financially devastating incidents.  Few people *like* to pay for insurance. For many, home and auto insurance seems like large expenses for something they probably will never need, and for that reason, some will choose to insure for a bare minimum in order to save more and spend less. However, while being underinsured may seem thrifty, in the long run, the money you end up having to pay will likely exceed the amount you save. Here are some of the reasons why being underinsured is more expensive than receiving sufficient insurance.

 

Expensive Emergency Repair Costs

As anybody who has had their home severely damaged after an accident or natural disaster can attest, however much they were paying on insurance, it was pocket change compared to the costs in repairs. If you don’t have enough coverage, you could be on your own when disaster strikes. What’s more, if you’re not sufficiently insured, you may run into some trouble with your local government for not adhering to local regulation codes in regards to home insurance.

 

Risk of Flood Damage

Some people who have insurance for most risks choose to abstain from buying flood insurance to save money. After all, most standard homeowner policies don’t automatically cover flood damage and floods are a rare occurrence anyway. This is a bad idea, however, as even with maximum FEMA flood protection, you could be left with massive deductibles, so it’s important to get additional coverage in case of these natural disasters.

 

High-Value Items may not be Covered

The problem with small, basic insurance policies is that they only cover general forms of damage to things like walls and floors, etc. But there are many items of significant worth like jewelry, paintings, rare coins, antiques, china and clothing that often slip through cheaper policies. There could be thousands of dollars worth in valuable items that you could lose completely without the right coverage.

 

An Accident Could Have a Very High Deductible

Deductibles are often not looked at very closely by people shopping for insurance. Most people prefer lower premiums even with the risk of paying high deductibles. This makes some sense financially, however, you don’t want to ignore deductibles completely, as this could lead to you spending considerably more money after an accident. A typical $500 dollar deductibles could be turned into a much higher deductible for a less expensive policy and should be considered when making decisions on the overall expense.

 

Your Insurance May Not Cover Your Repairs 

‘Bare-boned’ insurance policies may simply not provide enough to cover your actual repair costs.  If you opt for a minimal policy, make sure you review a ‘worst-case’ scenario with our team so that you can make an informed decision.

 

Extra Expenses Can Add Up

Finally, remember that insurance policies are not simply meant to cover the cost of damage to your house or car, they are also to help you with any extra expenses that may result. Even if your insurance covers your house in case of fire, you may have lodging expenses to pay while your home is being repaired. Likewise, if your basic insurance covers your car for accidents and repair costs, it might not reimburse you for a rental that you need to get around in the meantime.  Insufficient policies often leave people hung out to dry when it comes to assisting them with additional expenses, and these expenses can add up.

 

Many people, especially now, are trying to take steps to save money on their monthly bills. Insurance is not the area to make cuts as your policy needs to cover expenses when filing a claim. If you’re worried that you might be underinsured, look over your home and car policies and discuss your concerns with our team at Bieritz Insurance. Review your policies each year to make sure they continue to provide adequate coverage. Remember to think about your insurance in relation to the price of your house, your property value, and the demand in the housing market in your area.

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Ten Things to Do to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

As fall is approaching, it is time to start thinking about cold weather and what changes it can have on your daily life. As the winter months get closer, so does the threat of winter weather. Ensuring your car is prepared for winter weather is crucial for keeping yourself safe and your car in good shape. Here are the top ten ways to prepare your car for the winter.  

Change Your Oil/Schedule for Service

One of the most essential things to get your car prepared for the winter is to schedule for a full service appointment. This usually includes an oil change, tire rotation and a general checkup of the car’s basic functions. Regular servicing of your vehicles is a great way to ensure everything is working properly, which is especially important when preparing for winter. 

When getting your car serviced, talk to your mechanic about which oil is right for your car for colder weather. As the weather gets colder, oil tends to thicken and may not lubricate your engine as well. 

Check Your Heater and Defroster

The functionality of your heater and defroster are essential for getting through the winter. Have your mechanic inspect your heating system and defroster before the weather gets cold – just in case there is anything that needs to be fixed (before you actually need it). For example, a broken defroster can be dangerous in cold weather since it can obstruct your field of vision. 

Check Your Coolant Levels

Coolant helps to prevent your engine from freezing and cracking. It also ensures that everything stays lubricated and doesn’t become corroded. Check your coolant levels regularly to ensure proper function. You can test your coolant’s freeze protection by using a ‘coolant tester’ to make sure you are ready for cold weather. 

Check Your Tires

As the weather gets colder, the air pressure in your tires may decrease. Check your tire pressure regularly during the winter to ensure you are not at risk of getting a flat tire. Luckily, most newer cars can automatically detect low tire pressure and will notify you.

If you live in an area that is prone to heavy snow like ours, consider investing in snow tires. Snow tires will improve your traction so you can drive through snowy areas more easily. Snow tires can be used in the winter months as opposed to all-season tires which can be used for the rest of the year. If you are considering snow tires, make sure you are aware of any installation fees that may come with them. 

Test Your Car Battery

If you find yourself stuck in the snow, a dead car battery is a worst-case scenario. If you have an older battery, have your mechanic check the charge levels to ensure that it is working properly. Make sure the battery has enough water and that the connections are corrosion-free. Regardless of the health of your battery, always keep jumper cables in your car just in case (see our auto emergency kit recommendations below)

Consider Winter Wiper Blades

For heavy snow areas, it may be necessary to invest in winter wiper blades. Regular wiper blades can easily get covered with snow which affects their performance. Winter wiper blades are usually wrapped with a rubber casing that prevents snow from sticking. Luckily, they are affordable and can be used interchangeably with your regular wiper blades. 

Lubricate Areas That Will Easily Freeze

In extremely cold weather, certain areas in your car may freeze or become stiff. Window tracks and weather stripping are the first areas to freeze since water can seep in. Once that water freezes, it can freeze your door shut and lock you out of your car. Latches, hinges and door locks are also prone to freezing. Dry Teflon spray, silicone spray or graphite lubricant all work well for use on vehicle parts to prevent freezing. 

Have a Basic Survival Kit 

Regardless of the weather, it is essential to have a survival kit in your car in case of an emergency. This is especially crucial in the winter due to blizzard conditions and icy roads. Here are some must-have items needed for every car survival kit:

  • LED Flashlight
  • Jumper Cables
  • Hat, Gloves and Extra Shoes
  • Cat Litter or Safety Absorbent
  • First-Aid kit
  • Tire Repair Kit
  • Tire Chains
  • Shovel
  • Ice Scraper
  • Flares and/or reflective caution road markers
    (Note: if you are using road flares, remember to practice safety when lighting them. https://www.wikihow.com/Light-a-Road-Flare

Don’t forget to bring some bottled water with you on longer trips as well.

Know What to do in Winter Emergencies

If you get stuck in the snow or caught in blizzard conditions, make sure you know what to do during an emergency. If you are stuck, stay with your vehicle and call for help. Put on extra clothing to stay warm and run the car periodically. Use flares if need be and make sure to stay hydrated. 

Four-Wheel Drive

If you have a car with four-wheel drive, ensure that you know how to use your four-wheel drive system and that everything is working properly. Since four-wheel drive systems are not used in the summer months, make sure everything activates properly beforehand. 

Overall

Overall, gearing up for the winter months may require extra maintenance and preparation for your vehicle. Taking these steps will help keep you safe and secure during the winter months, while also ensuring your vehicle is in good shape. If you are looking for insurance for your auto, please contact us today for a free quote or visit our website to learn more. 

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Finding the Best Insurance Coverage for Your Antique Automobile

Just like a fine wine, some of our greatest material possessions gain value over time. This is true of exceptional antique automobiles. Your antique automobile must be protected in all ways, from suitable shelter to ample insurance coverage.

 

When insuring an antique auto, there are many considerations to make. Equip yourself by exploring the specific aspects of selecting antique automobile insurance.

 

Understand the Terminology

The first step is understanding the vocabulary used when discussing collectible antique vehicles. What is the difference between a classic, vintage and antique car? 

 

It is important to understand that there is not a single definition that is accepted in all situations. Many state Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV’s), insurance companies and distinctive car clubs classify the terms differently. However, there are widely-accepted distinctions between the categories that should be known:

 

 

  • Antique:  The Antique Automobile Club of America denotes an antique automobile as one being 50 years old or older. (Some organizations begin the distinction at 45). This classification includes the Veteran Era, the Brass Era, and the Vintage Era. 
  • Classic: The Classic Car Club of America designates cars between 30-49 years old as classic cars. 
  • Historic: Automobiles may be placed in the category of “historic” or “historical vehicle” if 25 years or older or 15 years or older and no longer manufactured. 
  • Vintage:  An automobile may receive this title if it was manufactured between the years 1919 and 1930. 

 

Understand the Qualifications

Does age alone qualify a vehicle for these classifications of distinction? Absolutely not. If this were true, every junkyard would be filled with antique and classic cars. To achieve the designation of antique, classic or historic, insurance companies are looking for these additional qualifications:

 

  • Limited Use: The vehicle cannot be used for everyday commuting or for running errands or other common purposes. The vehicle is driven rarely and for specific reasons. You may be required to show proof of ownership of a primary car for everyday use.
  • Properly sheltered: Many insurance policies require you to show that the car is adequately stored. The garage or building must protect your vehicle from the elements and the likelihood of damage or theft.
  • Increase of value over time: Unlike the majority of automobiles that depreciate in value due to customary use and wear, a distinctive antique or classic car will actually appreciate over the years. This vehicle is an investment worthy of the highest levels of protection.

 

Understand the Process

Once you have educated yourself on the terminology and qualifications for antique vehicles, you are ready to make a wise decision in insuring your automobile. Follow these steps to achieve maximum insurance coverage:

 

  • Know your own priorities and goals:
    Review your dreams and objectives in investing in an antique car. Do you want to enjoy the look and feel of your car for the pleasure of yourself and your family? Would you like to take the car for short rides and share it with friends? Are car shows and travel in your future? Have a clear vision of what you want from your experience in determining your insurance needs.
  • Select an insurance company that understands antique cars:
    Not all insurance companies are alike. Some companies have little knowledge or experience in protecting the specialized needs of car collectors or antique car enthusiasts. Shop for companies that have a great record in classic and antique cars (like us, Bieritz Insurance!).
  • Find someone who can answer your questions:
    Now that you know what you need and have narrowed your field of companies, find one that is willing to discuss all of your questions. Is the company capable of raising the coverage as the value increases? Are there members on staff that have a specialized knowledge of collectible vehicles who can address situations as they arise? Is there an adequate allowance for unique towing and repair needs?

 

Does the policy being offered allow for the number of car shows and travel that you will require? Coverage can vary widely on allowances for travel to car shows and other venues. These qualifications must be explicitly stated within the policy. Exclusions can be made that would preclude you from traveling to these shows, or may require towing to do so. 

 

You want to fully enjoy the privilege and pleasure of owning an antique vehicle. Educating yourself goes a long way in selecting the insurance coverage that is right for you. 

 

Don’t leave your specialized insurance needs to anyone but the professionals. We at Bieritz stand ready to share our extensive knowledge and insurance options with you. We will help you get the most out of your investment. Contact us today at our website at bieritzinsurance.com/contact-us

 

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Common Questions about Motorcycle Insurance

If you already have a motorcycle, are planning on getting your motorcycle license or are planning on purchasing a motorcycle in the near future, you may want to read this. Though motorcycles can travel on the same road that all types of passenger and commercial vehicles, insurance with motorcycles works a little bit differently.

 

Here is an overview of some of the most frequently asked questions about motorcycle insurance.

 

How is a motorcycle insurance policy different from auto insurance?

There are a few key ways that motorcycle insurance is different from car insurance: 

  • It can be more expensive than car insurance depending on the type of motorcycle you purchase and the type of protection you want.
  • Personal injury protection is not mandatory but is a good idea should you have an accident.
  • You need added coverage if you plan on taking passengers. 
  • There are different coverage add-ons than with car insurance.

 

First and foremost, you should realize that motorcycle insurance can cost more than your standard car insurance. This is for the obvious reason that motorcycle drivers are at much higher risk of an accident than people driving passenger vehicles. Motorcycles are more costly to insure because motorcyclists are up to 27 times more likely to die in traffic accidents and have a 5 times higher risk of injury (Source iii.org). 

 

Unlike passenger vehicles, motorcycles offer virtually no protection to riders when they are on the open road. In the event of an accident, motorcycle riders are usually thrown completely off of their vehicles. This dramatically increases the likelihood of an injury. If a motorcycle is in an accident with a passenger vehicle, there is a far greater likelihood that the motorcycle driver will be seriously injured, more so than the passengers in a passenger vehicle. There is a form of personal injury insurance called PIP (Personal Injury Protection) that is made available to motorcycle drivers and motorists, which help cover you in the event of an accident involving a serious injury.

 

With standard automotive insurance, the passengers in your vehicle are usually covered unless you have basic liability coverage that states otherwise. Motorcycles are considered to be a mode of transportation for just one person, which means you need to add guest passenger liability insurance if you expect you are going to have passengers on your motorcycle. Bear in mind that this  insurance option covers passenger injuries, but only if you are not the person liable or responsible for their injuries. You can also add medical payments coverage which will cover injuries to your passengers regardless of the fault of you or the other driver.

 

What are some of the things you need to keep in mind when purchasing your policy? 

Keep in mind that the more expensive your motorcycle is, the more expensive your insurance will be. Make sure to ask your insurance agent or company about add-ons to your policy for passengers or special forms of insurance. If you aren’t going to be driving your motorcycle year-round, let them know so you can set up different insurance for the times of year you aren’t riding.

 

What if you Drive Your Motorcycle less than 6 Months Per Year? 

Insurance companies realize that you may live in a climate where it isn’t safe and it doesn’t make sense to ride your motorcycle 12 months out of the year. If that is the case for you, you can get laid up insurance. Laid up insurance offers insurance coverage for your motorcycle against fire, theft and other threats associated with storing your bike for cooler months of the year and putting your bike into winter storage. Keep in mind that laid up the insurance is less expensive than your normal insurance when you are riding, but you will not be covered by your insurance if you take your bike out during this time period when it is supposed to be stored.

 

Are there greater discounts for participating in safety courses? 

Taking and successfully completing a motorcycle safety course can give you greater discounts on your insurance rates. Make sure to ask your insurance company to see which courses they approve of, and how much completing those courses could lower your insurance bill.

 

Are there best practices for protecting your motorcycle? 

Make sure to park your motorcycle in safe, well-lit areas where motorcycle parking is designated or permitted. You may want to take a waterproof motorcycle cover with you to protect it when it is parked outdoors.

 

Motorcycles can be a great way to get around in the warmer months, but make sure you keep in mind the additional costs for insurance and safety equipment.  If you have more questions about motorcycle insurance, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance.  We will be happy to help you.  

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Benefits of Bundling Home and Auto Policies

 

When you’re in the market for insurance, the choices can seem overwhelming. If you’re looking for multiple types of insurance, it may make the most sense to bundle them or buy them all from the same company. This is often done with homeowner’s and automobile insurance. Depending on the company you are working with, you may be able to bundle additional insurance types, such as a personal umbrella policy. There are many reasons to consider bundling your homeowner’s and auto insurance together. 

 

 

Benefits of bundling

Just as with purchasing any insurance, you need to do your research to evaluate prices and coverage. Often times it makes sense to bundle for the following reasons: 

  • It is cost effective. 
    Most insurance carriers will offer a discount when you bundle your homeowner’s and automobile insurance policies. The actual discount varies by insurer but is usually between five and 25 percent – a great incentive for additional coverage and a solid discount.
  • It is convenient.
    Bundling your insurance policies together makes things much easier for you. It makes it easier to manage multiple policies as you may only need one login and password and it reduces paperwork. This also saves you time and headaches because you only need to deal with a single carrier instead of multiple carriers with multiple policies.
  • Making changes are easier.
    By working with just one company, changing or adding to your policies will also be much easier. Your agent will have a good handle on your situation and be able to make it easier to add insurance, apply discounts and add endorsements. This relationship will be more and more beneficial over time as things in your life change.
  • It can give you access to unique product tiers or more complex bundles.
    If you decide to combine all of your policies, insurers will usually offer more complex bundles or unique product tiers. They may offer one product package to cover all your insurance needs. Most home and auto insurers offer insurance in other specialized areas of personal property protection as well. Unique product tiers are helpful for cutting out paperwork, wrapping it all into a single bill and could reduce everything to just a single deductible.

Things to consider

  • The price of your home.
    If you have a higher value home, you could get a higher discount for bundling home and auto insurance.
  • The price of your vehicle.
    The opposite is true for a luxury vehicle, which can drive up bundled premiums. This is because of how expensive it can be to repair these types of cars. It could be better in this case to have separate policies.
  • Where you live.
    People who live in safer places will probably save more money than those in high-risk flood and other disaster areas.

 

Bundling your home and auto insurance can have great benefits, but it all comes down to your specific circumstances and working closely with your insurance agent. Contact our team at Bieritz Insurance today to find the best policies for you!

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Understanding Rental and Non-Owned Vehicle Insurance

Everyone wants assurance that he or she is fully protected on the road. Most drivers understand the need for comprehensive, reputable insurance when driving their own vehicles. When you must drive a rental vehicle or operate one that is not your own, having a clear understanding of insurance regulations and coverage in these situations is vital. Don’t be blindsided by finding yourself not as fully covered as you thought. Educate yourself on how insurance works for rentals and other non-owned vehicles, and find out why Bieritz Insurance Agency is a strong choice for all of your insurance needs.

Knowledge is Power

This cannot be stressed enough. Do your research before operating any vehicle that is not your own or lending a vehicle to others. Conduct a thorough review of your own policy, and take the time to call your insurance company to review your level of coverage, especially if you are considering lending your car to someone else. Clarify the specifics of your policy, such as deductibles, coverage limitations and coverage for rental vehicles.

Honesty is Key

When speaking with your agent, be forthright. Let your agent know the specifics of your situation, even if you are considering lending your convertible to your second cousin for prom. You may know that seems risky, and may not want to be upfront, but it is critical that you review the situation with your company’s representative as fully and honestly as possible. Factors such as age or the frequency of lending may affect the car’s coverage.

Basics are important

Clarify with your provider about how your insurance coverage works, so that there is no costly misunderstanding. Also, be sure to review how insurance is applied in the main categories of operating a non-owned car:

Coverage for Rented Vehicles:

Many rental companies will lure you in with a great weekly rate, then pressure you to add on rental insurance. If you have already done your homework and thoroughly reviewed your own policy, you will be ready to make a wise decision. Under most comprehensive policies, you have coverage for vehicles that are similar to your own. However, if you are on a blowout vacation that includes a luxury or brand new vehicle, your policy for your ten-year-old sedan may leave gaps. In this case, rental insurance is wise, even if it doubles the cost of the rental. Rental companies can tack on fees and penalties in the case of an accident that won’t be covered by the renter’s insurance. Also, if you are reserving and paying for the rental by credit card, the credit card may provide secondary or gap insurance. Take time to find out.

It is important to weigh out all of these considerations when renting any vehicle. Make decisions ahead of time so that you will not succumb to pressure at the counter.

Coverage for Borrowed Vehicles:

The basic rule of thumb is, insurance follows the car, not the driver. In most situations, the insurance policy on the car will cover the car when it is borrowed. A comprehensive policy should include situations of lending or renting the vehicle. A deductible will be required. It should be worked out ahead of time who will pay the deductible in case of an accident. An awkward conversation at the beginning is better than an angry confrontation later. In all cases, make sure that the vehicle’s registration and proof of insurance is kept conveniently in the glove compartment for easy retrieval.

What if the borrowed vehicle is involved in a major accident, such as causing the pile-up of several cars? In the event that an accident exceeds the limitations of the owner’s policy, a claim can then be filed with the driver’s insurance company in order to cover the gaps. This is why it is important not to lend to an uninsured driver unless you specifically purchase short-term insurance. This insurance, known as Endorsement 27, covers “civil liability for damage caused to vehicles of which named insured is not owner” and is provided by many companies.

Considerations of the proper insurance in times of renting, borrowing or lending a vehicle are important, yet complex. If you have need to rent or hire a vehicle, turn to the professionals for guidance. Call on Bieritz Insurance Agency to provide you with the information and insurance services that you need. We offer a wide-range of vehicle coverage products and possess the knowledge to help you make decisions that will save time, money and headache, even in most challenging situations. We have the ability to offer our clients a multitude of options because we work with over twenty providers to find exactly the right product to fit the need.

Contact Bieritz Insurance today in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or by email at agent@bieritzinsurance.com. You may also reach our office in Morris at 607-263-5270 or at agent@morrisinsuranceny.com.

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Insurance for Contractors

Insurance for ContractorsIf you are a general contractor or own a construction company, having insurance is a necessary expense. Insurance helps to protect  you if accidents or mistakes occur or if your or one of your employees gets hurt on the job. There are several different types of insurance that relate to businesses, so it can be difficult to know what needs to be included in your business insurance policy. Here is some general information to help provide an overview.  We recommend that you connect with our team for more detailed information.

 

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance is required by law for general contractors. This type of insurance covers you from common accidents that might occur on the job, including injury to a third party, damage to the property at which you are working and physical injury to yourself or issues such as slander. General liability insurance is the most important type of policy you can carry to protect you and your business.

 

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is another type of insurance that you are required to carry by law. This type of insurance is crucial because it covers you in the event one of your workers becomes ill or is injured while on the job. Workers’ compensation insurance will kick in and pay the salary and medical benefits of the worker, which can save you a great deal of money. Furthermore, your workers’ compensation policy will protect you from being sued directly, which can save you both time and money by preventing a lawsuit. If you work for yourself and do not have any employees, this type of insurance may not necessary, but check with our office to make sure you are in compliance.

 

Third-party Liability

Most states require contractors to carry third-party liability insurance. This type of policy protects your clients from claims you make against them. Further, if you have a subcontractor working for you, then they must have third-party liability insurance to protect you.

 

Auto Insurance

Any and all vehicles you use for your contracting business need to be properly insured. In addition, any employees you have authorized to drive your vehicles must be covered on the policy. It is also a wise idea to make sure any employees you allow to drive your vehicles have up-to-date commercial driving insurance.

 

Although the above types of insurance policies are required for contractors, they are not the only types of insurance policies that are available. Below are some addional, optional insurance policies that you can consider.

 

Specific Coverage Extension

Construction work is risky, so you need to be prepared for unexpected issues that happen on a worksite. Specific coverage extension insurance covers issues that come about because of flawed planning, design, materials or poor workmanship. This coverage kicks in to cover any expenses that arise from these issues that your general liability policy does not cover.

Flood Insurance

As its name implies, flood insurance protects your worksite in the event of a flood. This is an excellent option if your worksite is in an area that is prone to flooding, such as on the coast or near a river.

 

Property Insurance

Although property insurance is most often associated with homes and business properties, it can be beneficial for contractors, too. You can use this type of insurance to cover your physical assets like your office space, warehouse, building materials, equipment and tools.

 

Contractors Pollution Insurance

As a contractor, you must follow specific environmental laws that are in place to keep the Earth healthy and viable. If your project runs the risk of violating environmental laws (excavations near fuel lines, or other possible contaminants, pollution insurance can help protect you from lawsuits and the expenses that accompany them.

 

Builders Risk Insurance

Your materials, tools and equipment cost a lot of money. If they are lost, stolen or damaged the cost of replacing them can be exorbitant. Builders risk insurance can help defray the costs associated with these losses. This type of insurance is also helpful or subcontractors or equipment owners, too.

 

Roofers Insurance

This specific type of general liability insurance provides coverage for roofing contractors. It can be used  in the event of a workplace incident that leads to the injury of a worker. This type of insurance is separate from general contractors’ insurance because roofers work at a higher height and the risk of accidents is much greater.

 

If you are a contractor, it is crucial to your business to have a sufficient amount of insurance coverage. If you have any questions regarding the best types of coverage for your business, contact Biertiz Insurance today.  Our team is happy to answer your questions and find the right products to meet your needs at an affordable price.

 

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NYS Dept. of Financial Services Information re: COVID-19

Attention all insurance policy holders:

If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is information available through the New York State Department of Financial Services that discusses the new regulations concerning payments, missed payments, late fees and more, as per the Governor’s Executive Orders (March/April).

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OR PRINT THE FULL GUIDANCE DOCUMENT.

The above document is the full, formal, legal document, so if you have any trouble understanding what it might mean for you, please contact our office at 607-547-2951 and we will be happy to review your needs together with you.

Above all, we are here to help our clients safely navigate through these unprecedented times and provide our support as needed.

Stay safe and be well.

Ben Novellano, President
Bieritz Insurance Agency

 

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Insurance for your Home Equipment and Infrastructure

If you are a homeowner, then you know that warranties and service contracts don’t cover everything.  There is, however, insurance that covers your home systems to help reduce your financial burden in the event of breakdown on your home equipment infrastructure. These policies may cover any gaps when it comes to protecting your home and it’s operations.

Home system insurance is an enhancement option that can be added on to your homeowner’s policy. It’s not a requirement at this time, but it might be a good idea to consider as an added layer of protection when it comes to the things that help your home function (heating, cooling, security, etc.).

It should be noted that this coverage is not for overall “wear and tear”, but instead covers things like accidents, mechanical breakdown, electrical breakdown and circuitry impairment. Since our home systems provide the most basic functions and serve the most essential needs in our day-to-day lives, it is important to consider protections for those operations.

Most coverage plans protect you for up to $100,000 and offer between a $500 and $1000 deductible depending on the level of coverage that you choose to purchase. Most plans are offered for pennies per day for coverage that will assure you that everything in your home can be taken care of and that nothing will be left behind or forgotten about.

Examples of systems that can be covered include:

  • Air Conditioning
  • Boilers
  • Furnaces
  • Air pumps
  • Water purification and filtration
  • Emergency generators
  • Well pumps, sub pumps
  • Home security protection
  • Green tech energy (solar panels)

Examples of personal property that can be protected include:

  • Laundry appliances
  • Home theatre equipment
  • Refrigerators
  • Microwaves
  • Ovens
  • Electronics (video game consoles, tablets, computers)

Of course, every home and every homeowner is different.  Some things may already be covered through your homeowners insurance policy, but our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency can help you assess things that might not be covered and find the right options to best protect you.  If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us at Bieritz Insurance to schedule an appointment for a personalized assessment.  We are happy to help you.

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Snowmobiling Resources through the NYS Association

During the wintertime, snowmobiling is an amazing way to see the state of New York. The snow on the ground and the chill in the air sets a different perspective on the state. Did you know that there are about 10,000 miles of trails that are available around the state with levels of difficulty ranging from first-timer amateur to well seasoned professionals? Rest assured, there’s something for just about everyone. The New York State Snowmobiling Association website is a great place to get started in order to gather information. It can provide tips for those that are new and can answer detailed questions for those that are more experienced.

The NYS Snowmobiling Association website offers an opportunity to get your snowmobile registered online. Whether you are a New York resident or a visitor, your vehicle needs to be registered by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles. The website also offers a shortcut for finding what clubs you can join. Although joining a snowmobiling club isn’t required in order to ride, it’s highly recommended. The website offers a full list of clubs that are available to you. Joining a club will give you discounts on your registration of your snowmobile. The fee for registration is $100, but this will go down to $45 if you join a club. Also, snowmobiling clubs are open to everyone, not just New York state residents. This will apply to multiple snowmobiles as well if you own more than one. If you’re serious about snowmobiling, it can be worth it to join a club.  If you’re not interested in buying a snowmobile outright, there are rental options. The website also offers a list of companies that can also feature tours led by more experienced riders and professional guides.

 

One of the most important resources available through the State Association is the New York State Snowmobiler’s Guide.  This resource is periodically updated and it is recommended that all riders familiarize themselves with the guide. The guide contains information such as coverage guides for your snowmobile. Contact our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency so that you can speak with an agent to determine what level of coverage is most appropriate for you. The only exception about insurance is if you are operating the snowmobile only on your own property. Otherwise, you’ll need to be insured in order to ride on public trails. In the unfortunate event that you are in an accident, you can refer to the website to guide you through what you need to do.  They keep an updated accident report in a PDF file so that it can be quickly downloaded and then printed to file a report.

 

Here are some tips directly from the website that outlines what not to do when operating a snowmobile.

“It is UNLAWFUL to operate a snowmobile:

  1. at a speed greater than reasonable or prudent under the surrounding conditions, or at a speed greater than 55 mph
  2. in any careless, reckless, or negligent manner
  3. while the operator is intoxicated
  4. without the required lights
  5. on the tracks of an operating railroad
  6. in any tree nursery or planting in a manner that damages growing stock
  7. on private property without the consent of the owner
  8. towing a sleigh or toboggan except with a rigid tow bar
  9. in any way that the operator fails to yield to an emergency vehicle approaching from any direction 10. in any way that fails to comply with a lawful order from a police officer
  10. on a frozen body of water within one hundred feet of a skater, ice fisherman, ice fishing house, or other person not on a snowmobile except at the minimum speed required to maintain forward motion
  11. within one hundred feet of a dwelling between 12 midnight and 6 AM at a speed greater than the minimum speed required to maintain forward motion.”

 

When you visit the NYS Snowmobiling Association website, you can count on information to help you make sure your snowmobiling adventure is completely legal and safe. When you ride, be sure to treat others as if you were in a regular car and be sure to treat the surrounding natural area with the utmost respect. Keep the trails in the best condition that you can so that you return to your favorite ones and leave the trails ready for future riders.

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Commercial vs. Personal Auto Insurance –  Which One Is Right For You? 

The line between commercial and personal auto insurance policies can be a little blurry. If you’re a business owner, then you understand the importance behind every decision you make. If you’re wondering whether you should purchase commercial or personal auto insurance, we’re here to help. 

What is the main difference? 

 

The biggest difference between commercial and personal auto insurance policies is their liability coverage. Commercial auto insurance covers accidents that happen while you or your employees are operating a vehicle for business needs. Business needs could be things like transporting products, clients, or materials.  A commercial policy is also quite broad and can include many people. All of your employees can be on your commercial auto insurance policy as long as they all have valid driver’s licenses. 

 

Personal auto insurance is meant for the vehicles that you own and that you use for your own needs. Liability coverage will be lower because there will be less vehicles and people involved. The details of the policy will be pretty simple because it’s just for the few vehicles that you own. You can decide on specifics like comprehensive collision, underinsured driver coverage, and what liability limits are best for you. 

 

Commercial auto insurance 

Take a look at these tasks. If you use a vehicle regularly to complete tasks like these, then commercial auto insurance is definitely the best option for you. 

  • Transport products 
  • Transport employees and clients 
  • Charge passengers to ride in the vehicle 
  • Transport large loads for your business 
  • Use your vehicle with a tow 
  • Use your vehicle to perform a service that you’re paid for 

 

A commercial auto insurance policy can have higher liability limits than any personal policy. It can give you high protection if you are ever in any legal challenge regarding a vehicle accident. 

 

If you don’t own multiple business vehicles and your employees use their own vehicles to perform business services, there is an option for that situation as well. You can purchase a “hired non-owned” policy. This means that those vehicles will be protected, even though they are not owned by your business. Many business owners go this route because it’s cheaper and it eliminates some of the stress from their shoulders. 

 

Both corporate companies and independent contractors need auto insurance, but the policies will differ slightly. Corporate companies will need to insure thousands of people because of their size, while independent contract companies will mostly likely be insuring a lower number of people. Liability coverage will most likely need to be higher for corporate companies. These specifics can be ironed out with your insurer based upon the policies that are offered. 

 

Personal auto insurance 

Personal auto insurance will only cover accidents that happen while you’re driving for personal reasons. These personal reasons can be things you do every day, like commuting to work or going to the grocery store. These policies only insure the owner of the vehicle and immediate family members that are added to the policy. You can add several people to a personal policy, but it’s not meant for twenty people. Commercial policies are designed for those high numbers. 

 

In some cases, personal auto insurance will be enough for some sole proprietors. If you only use your vehicle for business purposes very infrequently, your insurer may be able to change your personal coverage slightly to meet those needs. You may end up paying a little bit more per month, but having protection is definitely worth it. This all depends on who your insurer is and what kind of adjustments they can make for you. 

 

Heavy-duty vehicles 

If you use a heavy vehicle for your business, then you will need a heavy-duty vehicle policy. Insurers have different policies for these vehicles because their weight will cause more damage in an accident than a “normal” vehicle. Any vehicle that weighs more than five tons or transports more than a one-ton load is considered heavy-duty and will require special insurance. These vehicles include tow trucks, buses, cement mixers, and semi-trucks. 

 

If you use these heavy vehicles in your business, your policy will need to have a liability limit high enough to cover damages. If you’re unsure about your policy and what its liability limits are, you should speak with someone from our team – we are happy to answer any of your questions. 

 

Looking to purchase insurance? 

Contact Bieritz Insurance Agency today! We offer an assortment of products for all your insurance needs. Our staff is dedicated to working with you to procure the best possible policy at the best price. Our offices are located in Cooperstown and Morris, New York. You can contact us at our Cooperstown office at (607)-547-2951 or at our Morris office at (607)-263-5170. Click here to find out more about our company and to make an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Understanding Automobile Collision Insurance

When it comes to automobile insurance, it’s important to understand your policies. You want to have enough coverage should something happen, but at the same time you don’t want to pay for coverage you don’t need. There are different options available to you and it’s important that you understand them.

collision insurance

Collision insurance coverage is something you need to consider as part of your policy. It has many benefits, but it needs to be under the right circumstances. There are certain things you need to understand about collision coverage and things you need to evaluate about your own vehicle before you decide about moving forward. Take a look at the information below to see what you need to do.

What you need to know about collision insurance coverage

– It’s optional. 

The first thing is that you need to understand this type of coverage. Collision insurance coverage is not required by state law like other types of insurance. For this type of coverage, you can decide for yourself if it’s something you want. If you still have a loan though, your lender will probably insist that you maintain collision coverage and may add it to your loan if you don’t purchase it. 

– What it covers.

Collision insurance can help you in certain accidents. If you have a collision with either another vehicle or hit a stationary object, your vehicle could have a lot of damage. Collision insurance helps to repair or replace your vehicle in these cases. 

This type of insurance is also very helpful in case the other person caused the collision and is uninsured. You may have issues getting the funds from someone who isn’t insured, so collision insurance will be able to help you in this case.

– There is a deductible. 

Usually you would be able to choose the amount of your deductible when you buy coverage. Your deductible should be an amount that you can easily pay in the event of an accident. The lower your deductible, the higher your premium will be, so keep that in mind. 

– There is a limit. 

Keep in mind that there is a limit to the amount that your collision insurance will pay. It will only pay up to the value of your vehicle. It is possible that your vehicle could cost more to fix than it is valued. 

Do I need it?

– Consider your specific vehicle. 

The decision to drop collision coverage is not one to take lightly. It is also one that is different for everyone and depends on your individual circumstances. 

When deciding whether or not to have or drop collision insurance, you need to know the actual value of your vehicle. This is a great place to start. Most people are likely to drop this coverage once their car is at least eight years old, according to analysis from Insurance.com. If you decide to drop your coverage, it should mean that you’re able to function without the car or you can replace it on your own.

Personal finance writer Kathy Kristof suggests to weigh the coverage cost against the replacement cost. If you pay 10 percent or more of the replacement cost of your vehicle for collision coverage, you might want to consider dropping it. In order to determine this, you need to know the worth of your vehicle.

– How to figure out the value of your vehicle. 

Kelley Blue Book is an authority on vehicle value. You will need to do is enter in your vehicle’s year, make, model, mileage and zip code. Then answer some questions about your specific car and you will be able to determine your car’s trade-in value.

– Consider your savings and budget.

When you make any sort of purchase, consider how the cost will affect your budget. You should also take into account how much you have in your savings. Could you replace your car if you had to on your own?

Collision insurance can be a valuable asset in times of need. Make sure you understand your policy and if your vehicle should be covered under this protection. Work closely with your insurance company to fully understand what you need. Contact our Team for more information.

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The Two Types Of Insurance Deductibles And What They Mean To You

Home, life and auto insurance consists of paying providers in premiums and deductibles. A premium is your monthly fee for the insurance. Without insurance, you are left to foot a huge bill for injuries, accidents and property damage if you are held liable. Premiums basically have you pay monthly so that when something serious does happen, you only pay a smaller, fixed amount of money, which is the deductible.

Deductible Title On Legal Documents

What Is An Insurance Deductible?

For those that need a better understanding of what an insurance deductible is, it is how much money that you would have to pay in the event of damage or a loss. Some examples of having to pay a deductible would be if you are responsible for causing a car accident, if you drive through somebody’s fence, etc.

You might have an insurance policy that costs 50 dollars a month, with a deductible of $500. That means you will have to pay just $500 with the rest of the expenses being paid for by the insurance company. For auto, this is to not just promote responsible driving, but to also spread the cost of damages evenly between drivers and their insurance providers.

You can buy insurance with a high or low deductible, but whatever type of deductible you get, you get a fixed premium that reflects it. If you, for instance, choose a low monthly payment or premium, the deductible goes up, meaning that you will have to pay more in the event of an accident or damaged assets. If you choose a high premium, and pay more each month for insurance, your deductible will typically be lowered. The relationship with premiums and deductibles has a teeter-totter effect to it.

When considering a high or low deductible, however, there are many factors to consider. Choosing your deductible is a pivotal personal and financial decision that should define what meets your needs the best.

Insurance plans are essentially based on risk, with both the provider and the consumer in an agreement to assume a degree of risk. Provider can have multiple insurance plans available, both that have high deductibles when an insurance claim is submitted, as well as high premiums.

The insurance plan that is best for you depends on a number of factors including your financial commitments and expected income. Before signing an insurance contract, it is important to be able to have the money available to cover deductibles, medical bills, rental cars, co-payments, and/or anything else.

High Deductible

High deductibles are more favorable to consumers thanks to the low monthly payments. Paying for a higher deductible might be worth it for people that avoid having to drive long distances and in high-traffic areas. High deductibles are also worth it for people that have the cash saved up in case of such an event.

Will the money that you save with a low monthly fee be worth the higher risk with a high deductible? High deductible are worth it for people who want to be rewarded for driving safely and have money on reserve in the event of an accident or damaged assets.

Low Deductible

Some people decide that it is worth it to pay more in premiums per month and get a lower deductible in return. If an accident or anything were to happen to your property, you would have to pay less out-of-pocket.

Low deductibles are ideal for young drivers who are still getting used to driving or are driving rather reckless. Low deductibles are also better for repeat offenders. People who drive recklessly are more likely to get into an accident than people who drive safely, so having an insurance plan with a low deductible will be the better of the two choices.

Choosing Between High And Low Deductibles

If you are still contemplating high and low deductibles, you should consider your current financial situation as well as your driving record to determine what sort of insurance plan you should go with. If your driving record is spotless and have been driving for longer than ten years, there is a chance that you can lower your deductible without raising your monthly premiums. When reviewing insurance policies, you should come across choices in deductibles such as 250, 500, 1,000 and 1,500 dollars. If you’ve never had an accident, it makes sense for you to choose a high deductible. Otherwise, you likely want a low deductible if there are a few blemishes on your driving record.

Conclusion

Both types of deductibles can be good to have, and we do not consider one to be better than the other. Both types of deductibles can be seen as advantageous depending on financial situations, security and driving habits, and the needs of either vary depending on the customer.  If you have questions about deductibles or any of your insurance plans, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance for an appointment.  We will be happy to provide the information and options you require for the best plan possible.

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Don’t Go There; Four Reasons You Shouldn’t Choose Online For Insurance

Are you contemplating which direction to go in regards to getting insurance? Two general options that people take are applying for insurance locally or applying online. While some insurance buyers like the convenience factor of getting their insurance online, that is usually where the advantages end with online companies. Online insurance companies tend to be mainstream corporations that look to reach far and wide for as many customers as possible, whereas a local insurance company only works to cater to people who live around their area. 

If possible, we suggest to skip the online route and get your insurance from a local provider, and here are four reasons why.

You’ll Have To Make The Tough Decisions On Your Own

With a local insurance company, in order to find the best policy for you, you only have to talk to your agent and tell them about your situation. Well all know how to talk to people, so that is usually all it takes to find the best policy. While talking with an agent can take some time, talking with an agent is not known to be directionless and painstaking like applying for insurance online.

Menus, forms, articles, all sorts of web pages are things that you need to read, review, navigate through and fill out, and that doesn’t even include all the policy options that are available to you. You’re left to apply for insurance on your own with limited help available to you.

Any Person You Talk To Would Require Dialing A 1-800 Number

1-800 numbers are not as dreadful as they seem, but people often find it a nuisance to have to call the number, listen to an automated system and then wait for what seems like a long period of time before they have the chance to talk to a human being about their insurance. It will instantly remind you of customer service for any given mainstream corporation, and you shouldn’t have to experience this if you don’t need to.

When you have questions or problems arise, you would like to have a person talk to you, and to be available once you dial their number. With a local insurance agent, it is great to have this advantage, as if you were dialing a friend. That isn’t to say that they might not be available to respond to your calls all the time, but still having the agent’s number is a big decisive factor for many to choose local insurance over online insurance.

You Are Your Own Insurance Guru

Not everybody picks up on insurance at a rapid pace, but thanks to insurance agents, we don’t need to. With a local agent, you are able to talk and interact with a person who lives and works around you. This person known the ins and outs about insurance and are often hired as a guide to help a person or family find what is best for them.

With an online insurance company, you don’t have this. There is no agent available to help you choose the right plan or policy, which means you need to spend some time researching which insurance plan would be the best option for you. And even then, you could still have some doubts about whether or not the plan is something to pursue.

Alternatively, you can call the 1-800 number to get advice from a representative of that online company, but because you don’t have an assigned agent like you would locally, you will get paired with somebody different every time you call the 1-800 number. There are instances where the representative that you are matches with can be super helpful with you, and you wish that you can call that person every time you need help, but you can feel the same way all the time by opting to talk to a local insurance agent.

You Don’t Have A Human To Interact With In The Event Of Damage Or Disaster

Lost or damaged property means that you will need a claim to get filed. If you have local insurance, your agent can likely file your claim for you. If you have online insurance, you will need to file it on your own. This is important for a couple of reasons.

During a time of stress, having a trusted person to talk to is very important. Hearing a familiar voice talking to you, whether in person or on the phone should be very comforting and satisfying in a possible time of need.  But not only can a local insurance agent be good to talk to amid an unfortunate event, but they can file your claim so that you don’t have to. With your mind of many other things, you won’t have to worry about doing the paperwork. Just tell them what happened in detail, and he or she will handle the claim from there.

It’s great to have somebody in your own community to turn to, which is why local insurance is oftentimes the better choice over online insurance. Give us a call today and our team will be happy to review your options with you!

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Umbrella Policies: What You Need to Know About This Clever Insurance Plan

The umbrella is known to be a reliable means of protection from hazardous weather, so it’s only fitting that there’s a useful policy named after it: The umbrella policy. You likely know the basic policies like auto insurance and homeowner’s insurance. Most customers know what they do, which is why they are the most sought-after. 

An umbrella policy is not as popular as auto or homeowner’s insurance, but it can still be a very prolific policy to have should you choose to pursue it.

What is an umbrella policy?

An umbrella policy covers you in situations where you might be held accountable for bodily harm or property damage to somebody else. Umbrella policies also offer coverage for losses that may not be covered by your typical homeowner’s insurance policy. This policy gets its name due to having higher levels of protection than your typical car and home insurance.

Insurance companies will tend to bundle umbrella policies with other auto and home coverage. An umbrella policy will typically add an extra one million or more dollars of liability insurance in addition to basic home and auto insurance at the cost of a few hundred more per year. Multiple policy discounts can also come into effect with the addition of an umbrella policy, so you could pay less to get a bundle than if you bought each policy on their own. 

A neat trick that insurance companies will also often recommend is to raise your deductibles on homeowners and auto policies and dedicate the money you save from premiums to pay for the umbrella policy.

When will an umbrella policy come into effect?

Liability insurance under homeowners and auto policies pay for expenses that you would otherwise need to pay out of your own pocket. The person who suffers a loss or an injury needs expenses to recover and would likely also want to receive their lost wages from missed work. 

The policyholder that caused harm to the person would be responsible for paying all of this, but this liability insurance would be able to cover it all so that you do not have to lose money or assets yourself. Liability insurance is also good for paying for court and defense attorney fees amidst a lawsuit or claim against you.

The likelihood of a driver, car owner, homeowner or boat operator to be considered responsible for the injury of another person or damage to their property is frequent. These people can also be held accountable for personal injury, which isn’t like bodily injury, but includes psychological trauma such as “grief” and “suffering.”

What is covered under an umbrella policy?

The “umbrella” serves as a security blanket that protects you from having to take money from your savings account or having to sell some of your assets in order to pay a claim or judgment. This policy can keep your personal, home and business assets from being taken by a claimant. 

For example, if a storm blows over a tree in your yard and it damages your neighbor’s car, this is one incident that can cause a financial loss. If your property happens to damage other property or injure another person, and it is beyond your control, that is considered an accident that can be covered with an umbrella policy.

Many policies, including the umbrella policy, have a list of incidents that they do not cover. These instances include malpractice lawsuits, workers compensation claims, damage that you intentionally caused (such as vandalism of other people’s property) or damage caused by a business (such as your business producing harmful toxins that harm people and the environment).

Who is an umbrella policy for?

Many homeowners, especially those that often participate in community affairs, should recommend getting an umbrella policy. When working for religious, civic, and even charitable organizations, there is always that chance that you could end up being subject to claims, conflicts, and even legal action. You still need to defend yourself, even if the court throws out a lawsuit against you. What umbrella liability coverage does, however, is to cover the costs of court and attorney fees, no matter if you are found liable or not. 

Getting sued is a very costly and unfortunate circumstance for you, even if it turns out you did nothing wrong. Whereas homeowner’s insurance will not be able to cover attorney and court fees, an umbrella policy will.

Should I consider getting an umbrella policy?

There are two factors that should influence your decision on whether or not to get an umbrella policy: The value of your assets and the likelihood that you might get sued. 

As an umbrella policy is meant to protect your money and assets from lawsuits, you should consider getting one if you do not wish to lose those assets. It is said that an umbrella policy is good for anyone that has more assets than they possess in liability coverage from their basic insurance policies.

If you also drive on the road or have guests over often, the odds of being involved in an auto accident or having an injury or property damage becomes greater. If either or both of these circumstances apply to you, then you would be a good candidate for an umbrella policy.

If you have any questions about whether an umbrella policy is right for you, just contact our team at Bieritz Insurance and we will be happy to assist you!

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Insuring Your New Home Purchase

Homeowners insurance isn’t optional. If disaster strikes, without homeowners insurance you could be in severe financial trouble. In short, you don’t want to buy a house if you don’t plan on getting it protected from damage. But how exactly does homeowners insurance work and what should you look for when purchasing a new home that may raise your rates? Here are some things you need to know before finding a place to settle down.

Basic Facts About Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance can seem a little daunting, but it’s actually pretty simple. These are the main things that homeowners insurance covers for you.

It helps you repair your home and other structures on your property

If your house is damaged or destroyed by, say, a fire or a hurricane, homeowners insurance will help you cover the cost of reconstruction, so you don’t have to break the bank trying to pay out of pocket. Also, homeowners insurance covers any structures you have on your property such as sheds, pools, swings, tree-houses, decks, lawns, etc. This way you can rest easy knowing that not only your house but features around it are protected in case of a disaster.

It helps you replace personal belongings

Most homeowner insurance policies not only cover your house but your personal belongings as well, such as furniture, TVs, jewelry, pretty much anything of monetary worth. Also, homeowners insurance doesn’t just cover valuable items from destruction in your house, but even outside your home. This means that if you lose a necklace in a hotel or the airport loses your luggage, your as protected as you would be if something was destroyed in your home.

It protects against liability

Homeowners insurance even covers some things you may not have thought of, but are just as important. For example, if someone gets hurt on your property–maybe your dog bites them, or they burn themselves on your stove, homeowners insurance can take care of any legal fees and medical expenses. Even if you accidentally hurt somebody away from your house, you’re still protected. 

 

What Homeowners Insurance May not Automatically Cover

While there is a list of things that nearly all homeowner insurance policies cover, such as fires, thefts, hail, pipe bursts, explosions, and lighting, here are some things that most plans don’t cover.

Floods and earthquakes

When people buy homeowners insurance, many take it as a given that damage from earthquakes and floods will be included in the policy. However, most plans don’t actually cover these natural disasters automatically. If you want them covered, you may need a separate policy. Also, depending on whether or not you live in a hurricane-prone location, your insurance may not cover hurricanes unless you specifically request that it be included, and then you will have to pay extra.

Gradual wear and tear

Insurance is designed more for sudden, unpredictable, large-scale disasters. That doesn’t include wear and tear that occurs over long periods of time such as damage from mold or termites. If you want to protect against things like this, make sure to pay attention to the general upkeep of your house.

Government action

If for any reason the government seizes your land or your property, homeowners insurance, unfortunately, won’t cover any expenses which may result.

 

What to Look for When Buying a New Home

Now that we’ve covered what homeowners insurance is, what it includes and what it doesn’t, here are some things which will impact the cost of your insurance that you should pay attention to when buying a new home.

What your home would cost to rebuild

Insurance agents are going to pay close attention to the age of your house and what it would cost to rebuild if it were to be destroyed. You should too. If your home is especially expensive to restore, it will probably mean you will be paying higher rates on your insurance policy. A particular house may catch your eye, but if it’s too costly to insure, it may not be worth the investment.

History of claims in your neighborhood

Another thing insurance agencies look for when creating your rates is how many claims are made in the area around your house. Since insurance companies naturally want to make as few payouts as possible, if your houses neighborhood is known for a high frequency of claims, it is going to show on your bill.

Things in or around your house which may be a risk

If your house has anything that may pose a risk of injury like a swing set or pool, your rate for coverage may go up. Since these things can be liabilities, insurance companies will often try to counteract them with higher premiums. 

 

New homeowners have enough to worry about apart from insurance, however as anyone will tell you, it is not something that can be ignored. Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it may seem. For more information, a quote, or to purchase insurance, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance.   

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Insurance Terms Explained: Actual Cash Value VS Replacement Cost

It always pays to have insurance — that’s common knowledge. Yet sometimes trying to cut through the terminology and jargon can prove difficult. When shopping for insurance or preparing to file a claim, you may find that you need a little guidance on what some of these terms mean; such is the case with the terms Actual Cash Value, or ACV and Replacement Cost.

In some instances, a policy with one of these could pay significantly less on your claims than the other — it literally pays to know the difference. How can you know which? First you need to understand what the terms mean.

Defining the terms

In the simplest terms, Actual Cash Value refers to the monetary value of an item. Keep in mind that this takes into account depreciation. For example, a vehicle purchased five years ago will have a lower ACV now than when you first bought it.

Replacement Cost refers to the cost of replacing damaged property with a replacement used for the same purpose and made of similar material and of comparable quality.

A real world example of ACV

Let’s return to the aforementioned vehicle purchased five years ago. In this example you have taken great care of your vehicle, but it has still sustained minor scratches in the paint. It would not be unreasonable to assume that you have driven roughly 60,000 miles in those five years. So if that vehicle sustained damage requiring a replacement, your insurance company would not compensate for the price of the vehicle when purchased. Rather they would consider the vehicle’s current worth, or ACV.

How insurance carriers calculate Actual Cash Value varies from company to company, and these calculations often get incredibly detailed and complex. For this example, however, the insurance company would subtract the depreciation from the replacement cost to assess the Actual Cash Value. The level of depreciation itself can involve a complicated calculation involving an estimate of the length of time property would remain useful, and how long it had been used.

In most cases, this calculation is much more complex, but this example provides a useful summary of ACV and explanation of how insurance companies arrive at that figure.

An example of Replacement Cost

Most people find Replacement Cost a bit easier to understand — largely because it’s more straightforward. It simply refers to the expense of replacing damaged property based on current costs. In the case of the damaged vehicle, Replacement Cost would refer to the amount of money necessary to provide a comparable replacement. This doesn’t mean that an exact duplicate of the damaged vehicle, but a similar vehicle of comparable quality.

Actual Cash Value VS Replacement Cost

One the surface, these two seem incredibly similar — and they are. The only significant difference between them lies in the deduction of value based on depreciation. Otherwise, both terms refer to the cost of replacing destroyed or damaged property with new property.

In practice however, ACV might not help as much. In our vehicle example, the calculation for Actual Cash Value might not take into consideration the rising cost of vehicles. You might find it difficult to replace your totaled vehicle with one of comparable quality with ACV.

As another example, consider if you lost your house because of fire. The Actual Cash Value may not provide enough money to purchase a house in the current market, especially if property values have risen in your area.

Replacement Cost, however, addresses the real life cost of replacing your property. In the case of the vehicle, it would adjust for higher vehicle prices. In the example of the house lost to fire, it would allow you to rebuild your home based on the current costs of materials and labor.

ACV or Replacement Cost

For most property owners, an insurance policy that covers Replacement Cost offers a much safer option. Because of the reasons stated above, these policies will go a lot further to replace your property than those that cover Actual Cash Value.

This comes with a few caveats. Often policies with Replacement Cost coverage will have higher premiums than policies that offer Actual Cash Value. Additionally, some property owners who rent out homes will opt for lower premium ACV policies, and require tenants to insure their personal possessions via renters insurance.

In most cases, insurance policies that cover Replacement Cost will offer greater security in the case of damaged or destroyed property. Although no one wants to face the challenge of replacing a vehicle, home or other property, an insurance policy that covers Replacement Cost provides the better route to getting yourself back to the life you had before the loss.

If you have any questions about insurance terminology and what the factors can impact your rates, our team is happy to provide you with some guidance!  You can Contact Us at your convenience.  For additional information on insurance terms, visit our website page here: Insurance Terms & Definitions.

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Understanding Collision Coverage and How to Decide If You Need It

collision coverage

Auto insurance is a necessity in some states and can be extremely beneficial in specific circumstances. With that said, every driver has different needs, so finding the right coverage is necessary to ensure you are protected financially, but at the same time you’re not overpaying for coverage you don’t need. If you drive an older model car, it can be tempting to drop your collision coverage to save money. Find out if you should consider dropping collision on your auto insurance.  

 

Understanding the Types of Insurance

There are several types of insurance with each intended to address different needs. Some states require drivers to carry specific types of auto insurance coverage. After you have whatever policies you are required to carry, you can adjust the other coverage you choose to have.

Liability

Liability coverage pays for damage to other vehicles, people and property you caused while behind the wheel. For example, liability coverage could pay the medical or repair bills if you hit a pedestrian, another vehicle or a mailbox. Most states require drivers to carry liability coverage at a minimum.

Collision

Auto collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. Your collision coverage will pay the repair bills for damage to your vehicle if you caused the accident. If other drivers are involved and their vehicles are damaged, those repair costs fall under your liability insurance. If another driver hit your vehicle and that individual is found at fault, then their insurance policy would cover the cost to repair your vehicle.

Comprehensive

Many auto insurance policies also offer comprehensive coverage. This is coverage designed to cover damage caused by something other than an auto accident. Vandalism, hail or a tree branch landing on your vehicle are the sorts of things covered by comprehensive coverage.

Premiums and Deductibles

Any discussion about auto insurance needs to address premiums and deductibles. A premium is the bill you pay just to have insurance coverage. A deductible is the amount of a claim you are responsible to pay. Once you pay the deductible, your insurance policy will cover the balance. For example, if you cause an accident that results in a $500 repair bill and you have a $250 deductible, you pay your deductible and then your insurance provider will pay the remaining amount.


Finding the Value in Collision Coverage

Collision coverage may not be worth it for you; although, going without may not be a good idea either. A couple factors can help guide you when deciding whether or not to carry collision coverage: your savings and your vehicle. Dropping collision coverage means you need to foot the bill if your vehicle is damaged or be willing to take the loss.

Pay for Repairs

If you have enough of a savings and can afford to make repairs to your vehicle then you may not need collision. This may be an easier decision for owners of older vehicles, because older cars are usually less expensive to repair. Opting for used parts can be a great way to keep costs down and keep repair work in an affordable range.

Cut Your Losses

Collision may be an unnecessary expense for older vehicles with a low value. If the cost to make repairs is greater than the value of the vehicle, most insurance companies will not pay for the repair work. When selecting coverage for an older vehicle with a diminished value, pay attention to how much coverage you choose and consider if it is even worthwhile to have coverage.

Dropping collision coverage can be a great way to save money. This can be particularly helpful if you plan to purchase a new car in the near future. You can use that money saved on collision to put towards your new vehicle.

Other Options

You do have other options if you’re not comfortable completely dropping your collision coverage. You can always adjust your deductible. Deductibles and premiums tend to balance each other out. Opting for a high deductible will decrease your premium, but going with a lower deductible will increase your premium.

You can choose to go with a lower premium which will save you money throughout the year. However, a low premium means a high deductible. If you tend to not have accidents, this can be a good plan to ensure you still have coverage, but you’re not paying a lot. When ever you go with a higher deductible you need to be prepared to cover that cost if you should have an accident.

Finding the Right Fit

Dropping your collision auto insurance can save money. There are a number of reasons why it may make sense to drop your collision coverage. Typically, this is only a good idea for safe drivers of older model vehicles, but each case is different. When you understand your needs and circumstances you can determine what coverage makes the most sense for you and go from there.  If you have questions about your auto policy, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance and we will be happy to assist you!

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8 Factors That Can Impact Your Life Insurance Coverage

When you are looking to protect yourself and your family, you need to consider life insurance. Life insurance is the financial security net that helps your family get through a rough time. But, when shopping for life insurance coverage there are several factors that can impact your premiums. These factors can include your age and gender. A carrier will also take into consideration not only your health history but your family’s. The carrier may also look at what you do for your career and your hobbies. Your choice in your insurance coverage also affects your premium.

Age

Life insurance coverage relies heavily on the age of the applicant. If you apply for life insurance when you are younger, the cost of the premium is lower. The older you get, the more costly the life insurance becomes because the possibility of health risks increases. Many investors suggest purchasing life insurance for your children when they are small. The lowest cost for life insurance is shortly after birth.

Gender

Another factor is your gender. If you are a female, you have an advantage. A life insurance policy will cost less for a female because studies show that females have a longer life expectancy. With a longer life, females can pay the insurance premiums for a longer period of time. So if a female pays less for life insurance that means that a man will pay higher life insurance premiums. Since a man has a shorter life expectancy, a man will not pay the premiums for as long a period of time as a woman.

Your Health History

When completing the life insurance application, you will need to answer several questions about your health. The insurance carriers are looking for health conditions that could affect your life. These health conditions may include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Cholesterol
  • Body metrics and body mass index

When applying for life insurance, the carrier may also require you to have a medical exam. This exam may include blood work and other lab work to make sure everything is in the normal ranges. The medical exam may also provide insight into possible health problems that may occur later on. Your health history does affect your life insurance premiums. The fewer the serious health conditions you have the lower your premiums are likely to be.

Family Health History

Even if you currently do not have any medical conditions, your family health history can provide information on possible health problems that are hereditary. If your family has a history of high blood pressure, you have a higher risk for heart disease. This family health blueprint helps the insurance companies understand the possible health issues that can arise later in life and charge the life insurance premiums accordingly.

Smoking

Insurance carriers will charge a smoker a higher premium because of the additional health risks. If you smoke, you put yourself at risk for lung disease and cancer. These are serious health conditions that may not occur if you did not smoke.

If you were a former smoker, your premiums may still remain high depending upon when you quit. If you recently quit, the carrier may not accept your status as a non-smoker. You may not start seeing a decrease in the premiums until you hit several years of being tobacco free.

Hobbies

Another aspect that insurance companies look at is the hobbies you have. You can have a potentially higher premium if you have hobbies like rock or mountain climbing, skydiving, deep sea diving, flying a plane or racing a car. The higher the risk in the hobby causes the higher premium. The definition of high risk activities may vary by carrier, so you may want to get multiple quotes.

Career Choice

It is not uncommon for your career choice to play a role in the insurance premiums. If you have a career that is high risk, your premiums are higher. These high risk careers may include:

  • Racecar driver
  • Pilot
  • Iron worker
  • Police officer
  • Firefighter
  • Highway construction worker
  • Drivers
  • Stunt person

These careers have a higher possibility of injury so the premiums on the insured are going to be high.

Insurance Coverage

The coverage you choose will also impact the cost of the coverage. If you choose a policy with a higher value, the effect is an increase in the premium. The direct relationship between the policy value and premium occurs because the more coverage you want the higher the premium. So if you need to control the insurance costs, you should look for a smaller value to reduce the premiums.

No matter what life insurance policy you choose, make sure you get multiple quotes to ensure you are getting the most for your money. Contact our team at Bieritz Insurance for a free quote. We work with many companies in order to find you the right coverage to meet your needs at the right cost.

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