How much life insurance is enough?

How much life insurance is enough?

Life insurance might be unpleasant to think about, but it can be devastating to ignore. If there are people who depend on you economically, you owe it to them to prepare for their financial futures in case you die before you’re able to take care of them yourself. Most people already know that they need some life insurance, how much is the appropriate amount? Though there’s no exact number we can give you, considering the proper amount is different for everyone depending on their financial situations, however, here are some general rules you should consider when choosing the policy that’s right for you.

What are Your Expenses?

Before buying life insurance, first, you need to figure out what your policy is going to need to cover should you pass away untimely. Keep these costs in mind when researching life insurance.

Debt

How much debt do you owe? The last thing you want is for your dependents to be left with your financial burden after they’ve already lost the income you produce. Therefore, make sure that your policy can satisfy any debt still pending.

Mortgage

Calculate how much money it would take to pay off the mortgage on your house and add that amount to your financial obligations.  

Education

Do you have children whom you would like to send to college? Make sure you still can even if you’re no longer alive to personally see it through by adding roughly 100,000 dollars per child to your policy, covering all educational expenses.

Daily Expenses

Aside from the significant expenses listed above, you cannot forget about the day-to-day cost of living. Food, car insurance, doctor visits, utilities, taxes, etc. Though they may not seem like a mountainous burden and do not need to be paid off all at once, the daily expenses of your loved ones must not go ignored.    

Miscellaneous

Nobody knows your financial situation as well as you do, so think carefully about any other expenses your family may be left with in the case of your passing. For example, if you are a stay-at-home parent, then add to your policy the cost of child care services. What about funeral expenses? Does one of your dependents have a serious medical condition that may lead to costly hospital bills? Whatever variables exist in your life, you need to discern the price and make sure your policy can account for it.  

Finding the Best Policy

What are the Costs?

Though there is no way to find the perfect amount of life insurance you need down to the penny, this guide should get you as close as possible. First, add of your annual salary and multiply it by ten. Then add any mortgage, debt, or educational expenses. This should be enough for whatever your loved ones require to live in comfort without any extreme financial burdens.

What Assets do You Already Have?

After you’ve calculated how much your dependents need, subtract from that amount any liquid assets such as existing life insurance plans, savings, amount already invested in college funds, etc., so you are not paying more than necessary.

Term Policies Versus Whole Policies

Term Policies

Since our lives are changing continually—you could move to another state, get another job, have a new baby, etc.—it may be a good idea to get multiple, smaller ‘term’ life policies rather than a single ‘whole’ policy, that way you could save money while getting the same amount of coverage. For example, instead of buying one plan for all of your dependents that lasts forever, you can buy one 30-year terms policy to protect your spouse until your retirement, and a 20-year term policy for your children until they are ready to graduate from college. Term policies are useful, especially for younger people, recently married, with small children, because they are meant to cover your dependents in case you die before their financial needs are met, meaning you can spend less while still getting the security you need.

Whole Policies

Then, once you outlive your term policies, you can turn them into whole policies which grow in value with time and are tax-deferred. Whole policies are single, general needs policies usually meant to cover funeral expenses and estate taxes. You may even be able to earn annual dividends on your whole life insurance policy; money that can be reinvested or taken as a tax surplus. Therefore, whole life insurance policies can almost be thought of as an investment.

Knowing the differences between term policies and whole policies can be the difference between you paying much more than you should, and you spending precisely what you need to protect your family and invest in the future.            

Life insurance is not only painful to think about, but it can be somewhat confusing as well. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it seems, and hopefully, this article was able to provide you with some insight into this critically important topic.    If you would like any additional information, please contact our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency at (607) 547-2951.

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Why Being Involved with the Local Community is Good Business

When it comes to forming and building a business, there are many things that you should take into consideration. While being online and participating in social media is important, interacting with people in person is still a great marketing move and can take things above and beyond. Being involved in your local community is not only a good business move, it can also be fun and enjoyable for you and your employees. It’s a great way to get the word out about your business and can lead to many great benefits.

Why your business should be involved in your community

– It shows you care

No matter how much you profess that your company cares about your community, actions still speak louder than words. When you get involved in your community, you are showing your community that you care about them. This will help you see what issues your community is facing and evaluate how you can help. Not only can you see where the problems are, you can also participate in the good things as well.

– Increased brand awareness

Brand awareness is essential for building your business. You want people to know who you are and why you are an expert in your field. Being out and involved with your community will do wonders for your brand awareness. It shows your potential customers that you care about what happens in the world around you. Not only that, but it provides great material for your social media accounts or your blog. When you run or participate in local events, it’s a great opportunity to highlight this on your social media outlets and your blog. This will add an additional level to your posts and allow you to connect with your followers on a more personal level.

– Grow your relationships with other businesses

Networking is imperative for building your business. Not only is this important for building your customer base, it’s also great for building relationships with other businesses. Get out in your local community and meet fellow business owners, even competitors. It’s also a good idea to join your local chamber of commerce and actually go to the monthly meetings. When you put yourself out there and network, you can find other businesses that you may be able to exchange ideas or even partner with.

– It improves relationships with and between your employees

Team building is very important to getting your team to work well together. When you get involved with your community and work together to make things better, it can really bring your team together as well. This gives your employees an opportunity to work together, but be in a more relaxed environment outside of work. This can be a lot of fun for everyone involved, depending on the activity that you choose.

– Happy employees stay longer

It can also help with employee retention. When you get involved in the local community, your employees may feel more positively toward your company as well and be proud to work for you. The ability to make a positive difference helps employees to be happier at their jobs. It also helps gain more skills than they may gain from their daily jobs, such as improved communication and better leadership.

– Set your business apart from the competition

Getting involved in your local community is a great way to set your business apart from the competition. This is especially true if your competing businesses are not involved in the community. Not only will this keep you top of mind to your potential customers, it will also paint your business in a positive light. You’re likely to attract more customers when you show that you care about the community.

– Actively participate in your social media outlets

Social media is another great way to interact with your customers. You can specifically reach out to those in your community, whether it be online or physically local. With so many people participating in social media, you’re sure to hit on many potential customers. This also allows you to be able to respond quickly to customer feedback. Make sure to do this within 24 hours, whether it is positive or negative. There is no excuse for ignoring people who try to interact with you on social media. You need to make sure to monitor these accounts closely or people may become alienated if you don’t respond.

Being actively involved in your local community has many benefits for you, your employees and your business. By doing it correctly, you can really feel good about your business as you’re building it. At Bieritz Insurance, we have a proud tradition of community involvement. It’s a cornerstone of our business philosophy. Look for us around town and make sure to stop by when you see us!

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Buying Snowmobile Insurance: What to Know

Buying Snowmobile Insurance: What to Know
Winter is here and, in New York, you can be reasonably sure of one thing: Snow.  And lots of it.  If you’re like many people, you’ve come to love the snow and all the fun that winter has to offer.  But, you also know that winter is only fun if you’re prepared. This goes for something simple, like bundling up to go outside to take a walk or play a game.  And it goes for more important things like owning and operating a snowmobile.  One of the most important things you can do to get your snowmobile prepared is to make sure you have insurance.

Insurance is Mandatory

Did you know that, in New York, snowmobile insurance isn’t just a good idea — it’s the law? That’s right. State law requires anyone operating a snowmobile on public lands, or even crossing a public road, to have a minimum amount of insurance — $25,000 liability coverage for accidents involving one person, $50,000 for accidents involving two or more persons, and $10,000 for property damage. Keep in mind, though, that’s the minimum.  It’s always a good idea to look at options above and beyond the minimum.  With snowmobile insurance, many times, it’s at no additional cost.  Because, as you know, it doesn’t take long for the cost of damages to add up to over $10,000. Just like with auto insurance, there are plenty of other options available and it might be a good idea to consider some of those other options, just to keep you safe from future financial troubles.

Insuring Year-Round

One of the big questions that snowmobile owners ask is whether or not they should insure their snowmobile for the entire year. At first, this question makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, if you’re only going to get a few of months use out of the snowmobile, why bother insuring it for the entire year and paying all that extra money?  Well, there are two very good reasons for considering a year-round insurance purchase.

1) It’s Not as Expensive as You Think.

The biggest objection people have to year-round insurance is the cost. Who wants to pay for months of insurance when the snowmobile is tucked under a tarp, not being used? The difference in cost is not as great as you might think. That’s because insurers figure into the rates the time that snowmobiles are not in use.  Liability only policies can cost as little as $50 a year!  And cancelling the coverage will not result in a refund. In addition, many insurers are more willing to “lock in” better rates when you have year-round coverage. When you constantly cancel and re-write a policy, you might find yourself having to pay more than if you had just kept steady coverage.

2) Damage Can Still Happen in Storage

While you might think that insurance is simply unnecessary when your snowmobile is tucked away, keep in mind that insurance isn’t just about liability.  Just because it’s not winter doesn’t mean your property is out of harm’s way. A good, comprehensive insurance policy will also protect your snowmobile from damage  that can happen even when there’s no snow on the ground!  These incidents can include things like weather damage, fire or theft — all of which can leave you out of luck if you’re not properly covered during the off-season. And when you put these two reasons together, you’ll see that year-round coverage is worth it, no matter the season.

Other Things to Consider

When deciding on a policy, there are several factors to consider that will help determine the amount of coverage you get. For example: What Is Your History? Just like auto insurance, your driving history affects your cost.  If you have a clean record, then you can expect to pay less. It’s as simple as that.  So, drive safely out there! If you would like to know more about snowmobile insurance and what coverage is available to you , please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We are happy to provide you with some guidance along with a free quote!
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Is December the Best Time to Buy a New Car?

For many people, shopping for a new car is a process. Because this is a massive purchase that will last for many years, it’s imperative that you find the perfect vehicle for your needs. However, if you’re not too savvy, then how can you be sure that you’re going to get a great deal?

Fortunately, automakers and dealerships are always adding incentives to help move their stock and get people into their vehicles. Thus, if you know the best time of the year to buy a car, you could wind up saving big time as a result.

So, with that in mind, here are the best times to buy a new car.

During a Sale

It may seem obvious, but the fact is that more than a few people miss out because they don’t time their shopping experience with a dealership’s sale. Even if one isn’t happening right now, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be one later on in the year. Most dealerships have quotas that they need to fill, meaning that sales are always around the corner.

At the End of the Month

Although there are particular times of the year when buying a new car is best (more on that in a bit), if you’re going to buy one during the peak season, you want to avoid the beginning of the month.

As we mentioned, dealerships typically have quotas, which means that at the end of the month they are more motivated to sell a car than at the beginning. Thus, if you wait a couple of weeks and pick your time right, you could wind up with a lower price tag or bonus incentives to get you behind the wheel.

The Holiday Season

Usually, auto manufacturers announce their upcoming lineup in September. That means that dealerships have to be aggressive to move their inventory to make room for all of the latest makes and models.

Between October and December is an excellent time to buy a car because you can usually save a lot on this year’s models. Also, this is often when dealerships start offering their year-end sales, which makes it even more enticing for the average buyer.

Although all three months are great for car buying, December is usually the best. Here’s why.

Christmas Savings – because everyone is shopping around this time, dealerships know to take advantage as much as possible. Thus, they will offer more discounts or incentives, particularly for peak shopping days, such as Black Friday.

Slower Traffic – usually, people want to buy a new car in the Spring and Summer months because it’s much nicer out. However, that means that you have to compete with everyone else to ensure that you get the best deal. During December, however, that foot traffic slows down, which enables you to get more personalized attention. Usually, having more one-on-one time, coupled with lower sales numbers means that you can get a better sales experience.

New Year’s Eve – once the calendar year has finished, that’s it for quotas and sales counts. Thus, the closer you wait until the end of the year, the better the deals can get. Motivated salespeople are going to offer greater incentives, so being patient can pay off substantially.

Other Considerations When Buying a Car

Although picking the best time of year to find a new vehicle is an excellent way to save money, that shouldn’t be your only concern. As we mentioned, buying a car is a process, and you want to make sure that you take as much care with your purchase as possible.  Thus, keep these factors in mind as well.

Current Vehicle

What is the state of your car right now? Does it have a few good years left, or is it hanging by a thread? If it’s the latter situation, then you’ll have to be a bit more aggressive in your search, since you don’t want to be stuck with a lemon and have to buy something right away.

Trade-In Value

If your current vehicle is in excellent condition, then what can you get for it? Be careful to consider how much you may owe on the car, especially if it’s more than it’s worth (in this case, it’s upside down).  A great way to check on this is to run your make and model through a car evaluation site like Kelly Blue Book. Also, talk to dealerships about any trade-in offers they may have. Some places may have better incentives than others, so don’t be afraid to shop around.

Insurance

As you already know, buying a car is not a one-time purchase. No, we’re not referring to making monthly payments (although that is a consideration). Instead, we’re talking about all of the other costs and expenses that come with owning a vehicle.  Insurance rates should be a factor when buying a new car. In fact, you should talk with your insurance agent first to get their input on what will be the best for your premiums. Some makes and models are better than others, so you want to make sure that your rates aren’t going to increase as a result.

Contact Bieritz Insurance

If you’re ready to buy a new car, contact us today, and we can help you find a model that will keep your rates low. We know that the experience can be exciting, but it’s crucial to do your due diligence first so that you can be proud of your purchase. We’re here to help!

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Why Business Insurance is Important

If you own a business, the thought of a lawsuit threatening your company or an accident destroying your property will most likely fill you with a sense of dread. If you are not insured in the event of a business calamity, this sense of dread is warranted. Most people who are not insured find it difficult to conceptualize a future where their livelihood is at stake, since the threat feels so distant, so improbable. However, if your business is in danger of a liability claim, impeded by a natural disaster, or losing income after an unexpected setback, having the right insurance can be the difference between remaining unscathed and financially secure or closing your doors for good.

Here are some things you should keep in mind when choosing your insurance policy and protecting yourself from an unpredictable world.

Getting Started.

Keeping your business afloat can be difficult enough as it is, and just one unexpected financial crisis can be all it takes to bring you down. Insuring your business should be one of your top priorities. The first thing you should consider are the types of policies your specific business might need. For example:

    • If you own a landscaping business, look into attaining an extended business income provision policy. If your equipment fails or you lose workers and need a certain amount of time to get everything back in order, this policy will cover the income you will have lost while your work was halted. Also, since landscapers often use herbicides and pesticides, there is a chance that something may go wrong when using these chemicals. Herbicide and pesticide insurance will cover you for any costs that may arise, like property damage or pollution.
    • Real estate businesses may need commercial auto insurance if an employee has an accident while driving for work. Also, employment practices liability and employee benefits liability insurance will be helpful. This will protect you in case an employee makes a wrongful termination claim against your company, or your employee claims that he or she was not given the agreed-upon benefits.
  • Restaurants should get liquor liability insurance and temperature change insurance. If a customer causes an incident after consuming alcohol served by your restaurant, liquor liability insurance will cover any costs if a claim is made against your company. Furthermore, temperature change coverage will reimburse you for any lost supplies if your refrigerator malfunctions.

Remember to assess your needs and find the policy that will suit you and your business.  

What it Will do for Your Business.

Every business needs insurance. Not only will it protect you from lawsuits and ‘acts of God,’ but it will also help the day-to-day operations of your business function more easily. Having the right insurance will help you in ways you might not have expected.

    • Having insurance for your business will make your business look more professional and trustworthy. If your clients see that you’re insured, it means that they are insured, as well. If anything goes wrong with a good or service they purchase from you, they know they can be compensated. Stating that your business is insured is a great way to let potential clients know that you are serious about the work you do.
    • Having insurance is not only important, it’s actually mandatory. The law demands that businesses have certain insurance policies to protect workers. If your business has employees, you need to have workers comp, unemployment, and disability, otherwise you could be fined, charged with a crime, or have your business shut down.
    • Your business is more attractive for employees if you offer insurance benefit policies, like healthcare and disability. Finding and holding onto good employees is a major problem for business owners. Offering benefit programs that will protect them and their families in case of an emergency is a great way to encourage them to come and work for you.
  • Throughout the course of your career, your business will most likely need to sign a contract. This will probably happen more than a few times. If you’re not insured, you might not be able to actually sign the contract, especially if your business leases or rents your business resources, tries to obtain a loan to build new buildings or equipment or even gains a new client.

Insurance is not merely for the few occasions when something goes wrong, but insurance is necessary to help things go right. Having insurance will provide peace of mind so that if something does go wrong, you will know you are properly protected.  Contact us at Bieritz Insurance to learn more about a business insurance policy.  We can help guide you in obtaining the insurance you need at a cost that works for your business.  

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Hunting Risks for Landowners – What You Need to Know

This might be a little far fetched but it is wise to consider the risks when you allow someone to hunt on your property

 

As a property owner have you ever thought about allowing hunting on your land? If you have, you may not have realized the risks that comes with hunting on your property. These risks stem from accidents that can occur while others are on your property. Although it is just an accident, people may seek compensation. If the compensation is not what they expected, a lawsuit may follow. It is important that you have the right protection so you and your family are not at risk.

 

Causes for Risk

Several things can happen with other people on your land. Things may go from bad to worse when an incident happens. These incidents or risks can include the following:

  • Accidental shootings
  • All terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents
  • Falls
  • Cuts from knives or other sharp objects
  • Boating and watercraft accidents
  • Fires
  • Negligence

For example, you have a hunter on your property who just killed a deer and is cleaning the carcass when they accidentally cut themself. The hunter decides to file a lawsuit because they feel there was not enough first aid procedures or boxes on site. They also claim that they would not have cut themselves if they had a specified location to clean and prep the carcass. The hunter is claiming you are at fault for the incident. Now you have to fight this claim by hiring an attorney and possibly going to court. Now additional unexpected expenses are incurred to protect you and your property.

 

Financial Risk

The biggest financial risks for the property owner is having to pay compensation because the insurance you had was not enough or the correct type. If a hunting accident occurs on your property, your homeowner’s insurance policy may not allow for hunting on your property which in turn causes the claim not to be paid. Therefore, any legal, medical or compensation that must be paid to the injured party is now the responsibility of the property owner. These payment can be devastating to you and your family.

 

Another example of a financial risk is allowing ATVs on your property. Most automobile policies do not cover ATVs. So if you have two hunter’s on your property and they run into each while hunting, your auto policy may not cover the damage to the four wheelers. The hunters involved may look to you as the property owner to settle the damages and any medical bills.

 

Property Damage

The property damage can be significant. If a hunter is on your property and they start a fire but the fire is not out all the way your entire property is now at risk. A fire will not only cost you financially but would be devastating  because it could displace you and your family if the house is burnt down.

 

Other property damage can include hunters getting too close to the buildings on the property and accidentally shooting out the windows or hitting the building itself. Not only do you have property damage, you now have an unexpected financial cost to fix the windows or building where the bullets hit.

 

Differences in Insurance

As a property owner you have property and automobile insurance to cover your property. But that coverage may not be enough or even cover your property if you allow hunting on your land. There is a specific insurance that covers the land owner and hunters if an accident or property damage occurs from hunting. This insurance is hunting insurance.

 

When looking for hunting insurance review the following:

  • Coverage – know what is covered and what is not. Make sure the policy covers incidents with all hunting equipment like ATV’s, firearms, dogs, treestands, and boats
  • Cost – look for any hidden fees and costs like annual membership dues for a hunting club
  • Exclusions – read all exclusions carefully and ask questions. Make sure you fully understand the exclusions so you do not have unexpected issues later on

 

Minimizing Risks

Be proactive! As a property owner minimize your risks by:

  • Making sure all hunters know any and all rules you have established
  • Anyone hunting on your property must complete a hunters safety education course
  • Clearly mark your property lines so the hunters stay on your property
  • Establish emergency plans and make all hunters aware of them – review them frequently
  • Create a procedure for hunters to report maintenance problems like a broken treestand
  • Review your hunting insurance policy annually and understand any changes to the policy

 

Having hunting insurance is an important piece of security for a property owner. You hope that you will never need to use it but you have the extra protection for you and your family.

 

Contact us at http://bieritzinsurance.com/contact-us/ with any questions regarding hunting insurance or to establish a policy.

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Insurance for a High Risk Pet

How do you know if you have a high risk pet that will affect either your ability to get insurance or the cost of your current homeowners policy? Insurance companies consider certain dog breeds to be high risk because these breeds tend to be more aggressive and are therefore deemed to be more dangerous:

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Why Your College Student Needs Insurance on Their Items

It’s always an exciting time when your child graduates high school and begins a new career as a college student. Parents often face a mixture of emotions as they watch their children transition from high school to college. On one hand, your student has worked hard to graduate, and is stepping into a new life. One the other, that life is often away from the comforts and familiar faces of their hometown. Bieritz Insurance understands this is both an exciting and sometimes challenging time in the lives of both the students and the parents, and wants to help add an extra sense of security for both.

 

Once upon a time, when a child graduated high school, a graduation watch was the standard gift. As technology has advanced, this has lost its favor. Many parents gift their children a new, top-of-the-line laptop at graduation. The reason is simple – they’re useful, and required for studying and doing homework. Parents want to give their child a gift that will help them to succeed, and students love having a laptop that they can not only take from class to class, but use for leisure time when in the dorm room or with friends. For these reasons, laptops are becoming a very popular gift for college-bound students.

 

Other common gifts include cell phones, room decor, bicycles and luggage. Everyone is excited to see their students enter a new phase of life, and give the best possible gifts they can afford to help make the shift to college life a smooth transition. What is often overlooked, however, is that students come to the dorm with thousands of dollars worth of items, and the university typically doesn’t offer any sort of reimbursement for lost or stolen items on campus. While students can make a police report and hope a stolen item is returned, if an item is lost, stolen or damaged, the only recourse is to replace it. Unless it’s a manufacture defect for something under warranty, the full price of replacement will be paid by either the student or the parents.

 

What most people don’t consider is how they can protect the value of those very expensive items once the student is in the dorm room. A lost cell phone? Stolen computer? A dorm mate spills water on their electronics? After investing so much money in helping their student succeed, most parents are confused when it comes to taking the obvious step in protecting those items through insurance. It can be hard to tell what insurance would be best, or what is covered through different plans, and there’s nothing worse than paying your premiums only to find out your coverage is low or your deductibles are high. Our team at Bieritz Insurance understands that deciding on a policy can be confusing, and we can help you find the policy you need.

 

Bieritz Insurance offers private insurance policies to cover many of these expenses and protect your investment. After all, we are a family-owned and operated agency and understand your concerns. We’ve been in business for over 70 years and have received recognition for being one of the top 30 independent agencies. We hope that we can earn your trust as a customer while providing peace of mind. We’d like to take a moment to explain the different insurance policies that can help protect your college student’s belongings while they are living on-campus.

 

Homeowner’s Insurance

While most homeowners insurance will extend a portion of coverage to your student off campus, you may be surprised by how little is actually covered. Many homeowners insurance policies only extend a percentage of your limit for items in your home to off campus locations. For example, if you have a $50 thousand dollar policy, only 10 percent of that may apply. Homeowners insurance may also carry variable deductibles that could be higher than replacement value for some items that are lost, damaged or stolen.

 

Renters Insurance

Renters insurance is designed to offer coverage for items, but it also covers a lot that a dorm student might not need, such as liability for pet bites or slip and fall hazards around the building. As a dorm student, pets aren’t usually allowed and the facility upkeep is the responsibility of the University, so why pay premiums for something that you don’t need?

 

Dorm Insurance

Dorm insurance is beneficial because it insures only what you want – your belongings – and the deductibles are generally reasonable.  Dorm insurance offers an easy and relatively inexpensive way to protect the value of personal items to a higher value than your homeowner’s extension policy, while keeping deductibles low.

 

As you can see, there are many different types of insurance options available for your student. Deciding which one works the best for you depends on what your needs are. Please contact us at http://bieritzinsurance.com so that we can help you and your family pick exactly the policy that fits your budget and insurance requirements. We look forward to serving you!

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Top 5 Tips for Pool Safety This Summer

Summer. It’s the time of year when the days are long and hot. The kids are out of school and nothing seems like a better idea than hanging out around the pool with your family, hosting backyard bbq parties, and enjoying those extra hours of sunshine. It’s not surprising, then, that many homeowners turn their eyes to their own backyards to contemplate the addition of a pool to their property. Homeowners that already have a pool installed will spend time cleaning and prepping the area in anticipation of summer parties and get togethers. Whether you have a pool or are planning to install one, here are some safety tips to help you enjoy it more and worry less.

 

Safety Features Every Pool Should Have

Fences

There’s an old saying that goes : Good fences make good neighbors. In the world of private pools, good fences make, well, good pools. It’s not just a good safety feature to install a fence around your pool, it may be required depending on your state. Fences around the pool will not only help prevent a small child from falling in during a get-together, they can help protect the homeowner by preventing others from using their pool without their knowledge or permission. Pool fence codes can vary,and Bieritz Insurance Agency can help you decide what type of fence would work best for your needs and comply with any state standards. If you already have a pool fence installed, be sure to check it annually for any loose posts and schedule to have repairs done quickly.

 

Ladders, Slides and Diving Boards, Oh My!

Homeowners often overlook the accessories added to pools that make them even more fun. Ladders, slides and diving boards should also be inspected regularly to ensure they haven’t been damaged while in storage or during the last year of use. Accidents can happen anytime, and unnoticed damage to pool equipment can increase their likelihood, so be sure everything is in good working order before opening your pool. Ladders that are removable should be taken out  and stored every season for in-ground pools, and above-ground pools should have stow away ladders that can be folded and inaccessible when the pool is not in use. This will prevent any curious children from climbing the ladder and entering the pool without the homeowner knowing.

 

Pool Covers

Pool covers have moved beyond just helping to keep your pool clean when not in use, to being safety features of their own. Some pool covers are designed to hold more weight and work to prevent accidental fall ins. On the topic of keeping the pool clean, be sure to test your water regularly and treat the pool as indicated by the installer. Keeping the water clean will help limit the potential of bacteria growth within the pool, aiding in preventing rashes and other skin conditions that may be caused by untreated water. Additionally, this helps maintain the pool’s filtration system, so by keeping your pool clean you are not only being safe but protecting your investment.

 

Pool Alarms

Pool alarms are relatively new to pool safety, but they are being recognized as one of the best safety measures for your backyard pool. In fact, some local municipalities or states require their installation. There are four types of pool alarms, those that attach to doors leading to the pool, those that either float in the pool or are installed submerged, and those that can be worn on the wrist of an individual. Bieritz Insurance Agency can help you decide which would work for the local municipal codes in your area.

 

Plan Ahead

One of the best tips for pool safety is to plan ahead. Make sure that you have everything you’ll need: towels, sunblock, etc., with you when you go out to your pool. By ensuring that you don’t have to run back in you will help keep everyone safe by not leaving anyone alone in the pool. If you must go back in, make sure to not leave children unattended and bring them inside. Teach your family proper pool safety rules such as no running, horseplay, the rules of diving, and to never swim alone. Teach kids the potential dangers of drain vents in pools and caution them against playing with the filtration system of your pool. When you have that backyard BBQ, make sure to tell guests with young children you have a pool so everyone can be vigilant.

 

Bieritz Insurance Agency understands your concerns when installing or maintaining a pool on your property. We want you to be able to relax and enjoy every moment of your investment in your property and families leisure time. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our tips to pool safety so that you can greet those long days of summer with a smile.  If you have any questions regarding your insurance needs for your pool or other summer recreational features, please feel free to contact us at our offices in Cooperstown and Morris, NY. We are happy to assist you!

 

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Life Insurance: Term vs. Whole

Life Insurance: Term vs. WholeLife insurance isn’t a sexy topic, but at some point, it is one that most people have to think about.  The question of what happens to your family in the event of your death is an important one to consider.  This comes about sometimes after significant life status events – perhaps a marriage, the birth of a child or purchasing a home.  Life insurance helps protect your loved ones in the event of your death. It can cover your funeral expenses, pay off your mortgage or provide resources to replace your income for a period of time.  Two of the more prevalent types of life insurance are term life and whole life.  Knowing a bit about the differences between these two types of insurance can help you to decide which might be the best product for your needs.

Term life insurance covers you in the event of premature death within the specific term of your policy which is usually set up with a term of 10, 20 or 30 years.   Term life policies are typically straight forward – if you die within the term, the policy pays your beneficiaries the amount of your policy coverage.  The premium amount and the payout remain at fixed amounts throughout the term of the policy.  Because there is no cash value to the product and most people live through the end of their term, the premiums on this type of policy remains affordable (about 1/4 of the costs for whole life insurance).  In some cases, term life can be converted to whole life coverage at the end of the term.

Whole life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance and includes an investment component.  Your premiums are typically tax-deferred and the cash value of your policy grows with time.  You can borrow against your account or cash out/surrender the policy in the future if you need to.  The policy premium remains the same for life and the death benefit is guaranteed.  Whole life insurance premiums are higher than term life, primarily because the benefit is guaranteed.  It can provide for funeral costs, estate taxes, and more, depending on the amount of your policy coverage. Some policies can also earn annual dividends that can be re-invested back into the policy or taken as surplus income.

To learn more about which kind of policy might best suit your needs, schedule an appointment with our team at Bieritz Insurance.  We are happy to look into options and provide you with the information to make a decision that makes the most sense for you and your family.  You can contact us in Cooperstown at 209 Main Street, (607) 547-2951 or in Morris at 128 Main Street, (607) 263-5170.

 

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Insuring Your Vacation Rental Property

In our little corner of the world, the vacation rental business is booming.  While year-round lodging opportunities (hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, etc.) continue to exist as a mainstay of accommodation  options in our area – there are many properties that now cater mostly to the thirteen week summer season – primarily targeted to the baseball camp family audience for weekly rentals.  Some of these properties contract with local managers to list and rent their homes as summer vacation rentals and others (more each day) list with one or more of the national rental chains like HomeAway, VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner)  or AirB&B.

 

A home that is used as a rental property is considered a business.  As a business, a typical homeowner’s insurance policy does not necessarily provide insurance coverage for your property (liability and damages, etc.) in the same way.   In some cases, if your property is used for short-term (less than 30 days) rentals, you might qualify for an endorsement on your existing policy. NOTE: You can check with our offices to see what your options are to make sure that you and your property are protected.   In most cases, you will need separate business insurance to cover you for liability (in case someone gets injured while staying at your property), building and contents (for replacement from catastrophic damage) and building income (to protect your business earnings).  If you offer extras like the use of bicycles or canoes/kayaks, or if you have a pool that guests will be able to use, you will want to make sure that your liability coverage extends to cover these items and their use by a renter.

 

Although some of the national rental chains (above) may offer their owners (and guests) the option to add insurance for their rentals, their policies might not provide the coverage that you need to be fully protected.  In some cases these policies do not allow for claims for extra guest fees, violations to the rental agreement, extra fees for cleaning or from pets, or loss of the ability to rent while repairs are being done. If you list your property through a national agency, Bieritz Insurance can review the details of that coverage for you so that we can advise how you can minimize your exposure to risks that might not be covered.  

 

Even with an insurance policy, some property owners continue to request a security deposit from their guests.  Although security deposits are time consuming to manage and are often points of contention between the owner and their guest, they do allow for the owner to provide documentation of damages and fees incurred to make repairs without going through the claims process (which often requires cooperation from the renter).  Security deposits may also provide a better incentive for renters to leave the property in good condition.

 

To protect yourself in a vacation rental business, your rental agreement with your vacationing guests should clearly stipulate the process for damages and claims.  You should also have a screening process in place so that you can make sure that your property and rules are a good fit for your prospective renter. A little bit of work in advance can alleviate headaches afterwards.  Our team at Bieritz Insurance in Cooperstown and Morris can help answer your questions and can find coverage to best meet your needs.  Contact us in Cooperstown at (607) 547-2951 and in Morris at (607) 263-5170. We are here to help you for all of your insurance needs!

 

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An Annual Review of Your Policies can Save You Money

Many people think of March and April as the time of year for Spring Cleaning.  The snow and ice begin to melt away and we start to think about spending more time outdoors.  We look at things that we need to to outside in our yards for annual maintenance, and we begin to prepare for tax season – where we look at our financial documents for the year and assess our financial ‘health’.   It’s also a great time of year to conduct an annual review of your insurance policies.

Our lives change on an ongoing basis, so it’s important that your insurance coverage changes as well.  How long has it been since you last assessed your policies?  Our team at Bieritz Insurance wants to make sure you are not overpaying for your policies and we also want to make sure you are not under-insured.  When you conduct a review of your insurance, you might find out that there are increases, deductions or discounts.

Things that can impact your rates are things like a new baby in your household, additions or improvements that you have made to your home, property that you may have inherited, recreational vehicles that you have purchased or sold, a college student who is renting an apartment, or maybe you have reached retirement age.  There are other things as well: new drivers in your household, real estate market changes, landscaping changes, etc.

Typically, we understand that our assets change over time. What we don’t usually think about is that the value of those assets change as well.  If your home has appreciated in value, you need to make sure that your insurance coverage allows for this increase in value in case of catastrophic loss.  If you purchased your home at $250,000 ten years ago, and the value has since appreciated to $300,000, you want to make sure that your insurance policy will cover you for a $300,000 loss in case of a catastrophic event.  In other words, if your coverage hasn’t been updated since you purchased your home, your insurance value might not cover full replacement if your home value has increased.  In this instance, a review of your policy might increase your policy payments, but you are assured of having the coverage that is right for you.

There are other instances where your policy payments might decrease.  Maybe you installed a home security system or an emergency battery backup for your sump pump or perhaps you have hit an age milestone that would qualify you or members of your family for additional discounts on your auto insurance policies.

A look through your policies on an annual basis can help you find these things and can ultimately save you money on your policy premiums.    Whether you are a current client or maybe just looking for some cost comparisons as part of your process, you can contact us in Cooperstown at  607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170 to schedule an appointment for a review!  In most cases, we can save you money.  We work with over 20 companies so that we can find exactly the right products to fit your needs at the right price for your budget.

 

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Teaching Your Teen to Drive

teaching your teen to driveHaving a new driver in your family can be a nerve-wracking experience.  As a parent, your mind somehow jumps to all of the things that can possibly go wrong, and how your newly-permitted driver is yet unequipped to handle different situations in a car.  Teaching your teen to drive takes patience and the ability to be objective – you need to provide guidance instead of criticism. We hope the following five tips will help you as you wind your way through these sometimes stressful moments!

Stay Calm
No matter what happens, it is important to remain calm.  Yes, grab the uh-oh handle and step on the imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side of the car if you must, but take a deep breath and remain calm.  Dealing with situations on the road are stressful enough for a new driver and losing your cool won’t help.  If you need to calm yourself, find a good place to pull over and take a walk around the car until you are ready to continue.

Talking to Your Teen Respectfully (i.e. Don’t Yell – Ever)
Instead of saying “You need to slow down more around corners”, maybe go with something along the lines of “How do you feel you handled that last turn?”.  Your job as a driving instructor is different from that of a parent.  Your job is to get them to think for themselves about what they are doing and how to make adjustments to stay safe on the roads.  Be respectful and make them think.

Allowing Them to Learn in a Multitude of Situations
Yes, it is snowing and the roads may be slick.  It’s dark and foggy and the visibility is poor.  It’s pouring rain out and the windshield wipers are a bit wonky on the car.  It’s rush hour and there’s a lot of traffic on the highway.  There’s always a good excuse to opt to not allow your teen to drive, but dealing with these situations will help to make them better drivers.  Knowing how to handle a snowy roadway or a busy highway is important and the only way for them to learn to navigate these situations well is by giving them the opportunity to practice.  It may not be the most comfortable experience for you, but it is important for them.

Know the Rules of the Road
If you passed your test 30 years ago, you should definitely take a look through the manual as a refresher. Knowing the rules of the road will be part of the drivers test and if you aren’t familiar with the rules (some things may be different), you can’t  adequately guide your teenager – and you may even mislead them into thinking that something they are doing is okay when it is not.

It’s Not About How to Operate a Car
Driver education is not about how the car works.  Things like how to change a tire or checking the fluid levels, tire pressure, etc. are important to know, but it’s a different part of the new driver training.  Every car is a little bit different in where things are, how they handle, etc., but it’s also mostly the same.  Operating a vehicle and driving safely are two different things.

Focus on the Main Things:
The four main items to spend your time on are speed, space, observation and communication.  If you can get your teen to be thinking of these whenever they get behind the wheel, you will be well on your way to training a safe driver.  If they can master these four things during their training, then you have done your job.

Extra Bonus Insurance Tip: A teen or young adult with a learner’s permit in New York State accompanied by a licensed adult supervisor does not need to have their own insurance policy. Once they become a licensed driver, they should be added to your policy or you can consider getting them their own insurance.

If you have any insurance-related questions, please feel free to contact our team at Bieritz Insurance – 209 Main Street in Cooperstown (607-547-02951) or at Morris Insurance, 128 Main Street in Morris (607-263-5170).

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Travel Insurance – When Do You Need It?

Travel insurance is insurance that is intended to cover medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, flight accident and other losses incurred while traveling, either internationally or domestically.  (Wikipedia)

Travel insurance makes the most sense when you have higher cost pre-paid and non-refundable expenses associated with a trip so that if there is a need to cancel, you have a means to recover the bulk of your expense.  If you are concerned only with baggage loss or flight delays, the cost of insurance may not be worth the cost of a plan.  

If you are traveling within the U.S. and have an emergency medical situation while traveling, your regular health insurance plan should cover those types of situations.  If you are leaving your home country, emergency medical and medical evacuation coverage (safe transportation to a hospital) are recommended since your health insurance coverage will not typically be applicable.  

There are different components of travel insurance that you can consider based on your travel plans and your needs.  Here are a few:

  •  Trip cancellation coverage helps to recover your out of pocket expenses if you get sick and are unable to travel, if you have a death in your family, if you are required to work or you have a home emergency (flooding, etc.).
  • Missed connection coverage allows you to replace an original flight and make other types of travel changes and provides assistance services to help you.
  • Trip interruption coverage helps you find a new flight or an overnight stay in case your airline cancels their original flight plans.
  • Protection for weather damage covers your costs if a weather event causes damage at your planned destination (i.e. and your hotel can no longer accommodate you).  This will reimburse you for the original costs and assist in finding alternatives.  

 

If you are planning a trip and thinking about whether or not you need insurance, stop by and ask our team! You can find us at Bieritz Insurance, 209 Main Street in Cooperstown or at Morris Insurance, 128 Main Street in Morris.  

 

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Cooking Safety through the Holidays

Did you know that there are about 1,400 cooking fires per year on Thanksgiving?  This is more than 3X the average for every other day of the year!  Furthermore, since 2004 there have been 107 fires due to frying turkey that have caused 47 burns and $5.2 millions worth of property damage!  Keep in mind the following tips to prevent accidents in your kitchen when you are cooking for the holidays.

Prevention

  • Make sure there is someone to watch over cooking operations as much as possible.
  • Tie long hair back and restrict or don’t wear drooping clothing that may easily catch fire.
  • Try to put meal-preparation tools that are flammable in a separate area.
  • Closely supervise cooking children or designate a distant playing space.
  • Keep watch over and clear away any grease buildup throughout the day.
  • Keep pan handles out of the way of passing traffic as much as possible.
  • Ensure that there are working smoke detectors installed on each floor, and perhaps get a photoelectric alarm that can determine the difference between smoke from cooking and smoke from fire.
  • If you choose to use a turkey fryer, set it up far outside and away from your house, not on the porch or in the garage.  Make sure the turkey is thoroughly thawed and dried before beginning.  Make sure you put only as much oil in it as you need.  If it starts to smoke, turn off the gas supply.  Also keep close watch.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and learn how to use it.

 

Action After An Accident

In the event that there is a grease fire, call 911 as soon as possible and do not to attempt to put it out with water.  If someone’s clothing is on fire, remember or remind the person to stop, drop, and roll.  If someone is burned, further action is needed depending on which level of the skin it reaches.  For more information on treating minor burns, follow this link.

Remember, your insurance provider can help you navigate out of this kind of crisis.  You can reach our team at Bieritz Insurance in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or at Morris Insurance at 607-263-5170.

For additional information on things you can do to prevent accidents during the holidays, check out Safety Tips for the Holiday Season and Top Ten Holiday Safety Tips.

 

 

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Uninvited Guests – Pest Control for Your Home

Every old house homeowner knows there are time of the year when they find some unexpected house guests.  When the weather warms in the spring and summer months, the small trails of ants might appear in your kitchen, and in the fall months, as the weather cools, there are sometimes little creepers that find their way into your pantry.

Most people prefer to see their local wildlife outdoors, in the wild, where they belong.  But sometimes, they find their way into your home and you need to take action to eradicate/evict them.  Why are they there?  Habitat is a requirement for all living things.  This includes food, water, shelter and space.  If your home provides easy access to these resources, chances are you will find yourself playing the unwilling host.

Don’t Open the Door

One of the best methods to eliminate a pest problem is to make it hard for pests to find what they need.  Check for possible entry points around your home – a gap in your window screening, a broken window in your basement or maybe a garage door that doesn’t close properly may be easy access points to your house.  Do a general inspection each Spring and Fall for needed repairs to prevent pests from entering your home.  Is your crawl space protected? Do your windows need resealing? Does your attic screen need repair? Is your chimney capped?  Preventing entry in the first place is always a good place to begin.

Don’t Feed Your Guests

Next, look at your food sources.  Did someone spill the sugar?  Are there crumbs under your toaster? Is there food in your pantry that should be stored in a canister?  If pests cannot find something to eat in your home, chances are they will have to find somewhere else to live.  A thorough cleaning of your pantry and kitchen/dining areas will often help to assure that food particles are not available and will make it a harder or more unfriendly environment for pests, reducing the chances that they will take up a more permanent residence in your home.

Eviction

Sometimes, steps have to be taken to force your unwanted guests out.  That wasp nest on your roof porch needs to go!  If you use spray insecticides, make sure you follow the directions carefully and practice extra caution if you have pets or children in your household.  For small mammals like mice, avoid using poisons if you can since these animals are often prey for cats and other predators, and poisons often travel through the food chain and will impact more than that one intended nuisance target.  Trap and release works well as an alternative, but there are times when spring traps (for mice) or bait traps (for insects) might be necessary.

Get Help

If all else fails, it’s time to turn to the “Yellow Pages” or your favorite online directory to find professionals in your area that can help you with pest control.  Try to get recommendations from friends or maybe a local realtor to find out who might be best for the job.

Recap

Prevention is always the best method of control, but if you see or hear signs of unwanted guests in your home, then it’s too late.  You are closing the barn door after the horses get out (or the raccoons got in).  Do what you can to eliminate entry areas and habitat for your pests and if that fails, then move along to take more extreme (and often more costly) measures.  Pests are nuisances, but they can also do considerable damage to your home (chewed electrical wiring, structural wood damage).  Action is necessary to make your home inhospitable – for both short-term and long-term control.

If you have questions about whether pest damage to your home is covered by your insurance policy, give our team at Bieritz Insurance a call at (607) 547-2951 or stop in at our offices at 209 Main Street, Cooperstown.

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Storm Season Driving Safety

Most of the summer months are dedicated to storm season.  In between the days that are perfect for the beach, with blue and yellow skies, are days full of heavy rain, winds, and flooding, with the occasional–for Upstate New York–hailstorm, tornado, and hurricane.  These weather conditions, in combination with increased vacationing travel, road work, and presence of motorcycles and bikes on the roads, contribute to a higher average of fatal accidents taking place in the summer rather than the winter.  At times like these, we find ourselves wanting to know how we can maximize driving safety.  Below, you will find a list of summertime storm hazards, and ways you can alter your driving to better ensure safety in each of them.

But first, here are a some general staples for driving in severe weather:

  1. Knowing the weather conditions and predictions for where and when you are traveling can help you mentally prepare for potentially unpleasant conditions.
  2. Planning a few back-up routes can also contribute to less stress.
  3. Limiting noise distractions from various devices and conversation can make room for more focus.
  4. You can always choose not to drive at all or to wait out the storm off the road.
  5. Slowing down and increasing the travel distance between surrounding vehicles can minimize the threat of hydroplaning and can allow more comfort, space, and time to react to traffic and road conditions.  
  6. Cleaning your windows and checking your wipers once a month, checking the washer fluid once a week, and checking your lights and signals every day may be time-consuming, but it can contribute to feelings of ease during a drive if you don’t end up worrying about visibility–either your ability to see out of your windows, or your car’s ability of been seen.
  7. Newer cars may have front lights that engage when the windshield wipers are on, but the back lights don’t activate as well, so turning on the regular lights enables your vehicle to be seen from both directions.

 

Summertime Storm Hazards & Safety Tips

  • Strong Winds – These can turn automobiles over, especially larger ones, or move them across lanes into each other or off the road.
    • Winds may be more forceful in open areas, highway overpasses, tunnels, and tunnel-like spaces such as between mountains, so it may be helpful to know and stay alert in these areas.  .
    • While driving, locate and try to maintain distance from larger vehicles and motorcycles.
    • Hold steadily onto the wheel, especially if you are occupying a larger vehicle.
  • Heavy Rain – This can inhibit visibility and threaten your control over steering and braking if there is enough water and you start to hydroplane
    • If you wait for a half hour after the rain begins, the oils and dirt that may have made roads more slippery for hydroplaning will have dissipated.  
    • Try to follow in the tracks of the car ahead of you to reduce the likelihood of hydroplaning.
    • Avoid making fast turns and stops.  Don’t use cruise control because you can’t reduce speed to keep traction by taking your foot off of the acceleration.
    • If you hydroplane, steer in the direction you want to go, and don’t step on the gas or the brakes until you have regained control over steering.  For more on recovery from hydroplaning, see our article on Driving Safely in the Fall and Winter Months. 
  • Hail
    • Get off the road completely.
    • Don’t leave your car, and wait for the storm to end.
  • Moving Water – This could cause you to hydroplane, run over hidden dangerous debris like power lines, and it could cause your engine to stall if it brushes up against water.  
    • Don’t drive through more than 3 inches of water.  
    • Drive slowly.
    • Turn around and find a detour.
  • Hurricane – In addition to much of the above, remember to keep your gas tank full so you don’t end up stranded.  Keeping first-aid supplies, clothing, water, and snacks in your car can be of help in the event that you are.
  • Tornado – These debris-wielding, strong, and rotating winds can do an enormous amount of damage.
    • Seek indoor shelter first.
    • Otherwise, get off the road completely.
    • Stay away from bridges and tunnels because the wind may be more powerful there.
    • If you can’t safely reach an area that is lower than the road, stay in your car, belted in, with your head below the windows and covered by your hands and a blanket, if you have one.
    • If you can safely get to a place that is lower than the road, lie there with your hands over your head.

So much in life is unpredictable.  Tornadoes and hurricanes may not be so prevalent in Upstate New York, but our summer travels take us everywhere, and we’ll never know when situations will call for us to use what we’ve learned.  We can also never be certain that what we’ve learned will fully protect ourselves in such conditions.  In the aftermath, insurance can support you, wherever you are.  Request a quote on automobile or life insurance from the team at Bieritz Insurance Agency today!

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How does Installing a Pool Affect Homeowners Insurance?

One of the small joys of the summer season for adults and children alike is being able to go swimming.  Cooling off in the water offers relief from the heat and humidity.   If you are looking for the convenience and benefits of having your own backyard pool, don’t forget to consider the added cost of insurance into your expenses.  

Installing a pool usually increases how much you pay annually for your homeowner’s insurance policy.  It can add costs to your standard premium for the following reasons.  

  • A pool is a high risk investment, so you can expect that you will need to increase your liability coverage to cover personal injuries and/or damages. Increasing your liability claim limit will cause an increase to your premium.  

  • Some homeowners opt to purchase an umbrella policy to protect against potential lawsuits and other damages up to $1 million, costing an additional $200-$300 per year to the policy holder.

  • In-ground pools can be seen in two ways by policies – either as part of the home or as external structures.  If your pool is considered part of your home, increasing the replacement cost value in your policy by the amount it costs to install the pool increases your maximum claim limit and therefore also your premium.  If your pool is considered an external structure, you might want to pay for more coverage.  This is because a lot of policies cover the cost to replace external structures only up to 10% of the value of your home as listed in your policy, and that might not be enough to cover your costs for replacement.  

  • Above-ground pools, however, are considered personal property.  Many home insurance policies cover personal property up to 75% the replacement cost value of your home, and your pool may be included in that, unless your policy puts a claim limit on swimming pools.  If it doesn’t, then you will probably be set in the event that damage is done to your pool, unless your pool is very expensive.

  • Some safety features are required in many states, such as fencing, and they may also minimize the amount that is added to your premium.  Some pool accessories, such as slides and diving boards, are seen as increased risk to providers.  If your pool has them, it may not be covered at all, or it may cost more to protect.  

  • In warmer areas where swimming pools are more common and often-used, the amount of increase to the annual premium may be less than in areas where they are less in-use.

  • If you don’t declare your pool in your policy or notify your provider that you are installing one, you won’t have to pay the increased premium, but you may be in more debt later because of it, and your provider will not be likely to step in to aid you, this time or the next.  

The bottom line is that getting a pool may mean that you will end up paying more for your homeowner’s insurance policy, but it depends on the type of pool you get, its accessories, your location, and how much protection you decide to invest in.  If you are considering a pool, our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency can help to answer your questions.  Be sure to give us a call at (607) 547-2951 (Cooperstown Office) or at (607) 263-5170 (Milford Office).

 

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Keeping Your Affairs in Order from Afar

Home Security Checklist during Vacation

Summer is here!  For you, this could mean that bags will soon be packed, and that you and your family will be excitedly heading for glistening waterways like Glimmerglass or for attractive places of amusement and learning similar to what we have here in Cooperstown.

Unfortunately, leaving home for long periods of time is a risk – there are some who may be looking out for a temporarily empty nest to encroach upon, or a technical time-bomb could erupt.  Both could leave you disadvantaged in various ways, depending on your homeowners policy, and both could also reverse the intended effects of vacationing.  

We want you to be protected from these catastrophes and to also be reassured that they won’t occur so that you can have fun and find some relief in relaxation.  Prepare yourself for a carefree summer holiday with the help of our home-security checklist!  In general, it is a good idea to leave your house looking as though it were still being lived in, but to also safeguard your possessions and have an emergency plan in the event that something goes wrong.

Community

  • Ask a neighbor or a friend for assistance.  
  • Give your neighbor/friend keys, alarm codes, emergency phone numbers, directions for taking care of plants, pets, the house, or yard, directions for a plan for emergencies, and directions for where to bring mail.
  • Let local law enforcement know of your plans to leave and of your house-sitter if you plan to leave for more than a week, and if you live in a small community or you know a police officer.  They may be able to look out for your home in particular while you are away.  
  • Contact your credit card and home security companies and let them know you will be away so they know how to interpret what may be different card or alarm activities.  Update your security system with your neighbor’s or friend’s contact information for the time being.
  • Within 30 days of or by 3am ET on the day of your departure, you can go online to hold your mail at https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/ unless you want a friend or neighbor to collect it during your time away.
  • Contact your homeowners insurance provider to go over your policy and make sure that it is updated.

Indoors

  • Turn appliances off.  Unplug some of them to protect from potential fires.
  • Don’t leave any one light on continuously.  A light switch timer can keep your home looking-lived in if it turns lights on and off at different intervals that can even match your typical routines, but leaving one or two lights on for the duration of your outing can really raise the electric bill.  A TV timer could provide the same service.  
  • Turn off water valves.  If take a vacation in the winter, you may want to leave them on and have your neighbor or friend occasionally run water to make sure the pipes do not freeze and break.  If this might be the case, show them where they can turn off the water valves.
  • Turn off gas.  
  • Acclimate the thermostat to the seasonal temperature, but make sure it is livable for your pets and plants, and that it won’t damage your possessions and tools.  
  • Raise the temperature in your fridge to prevent blowing a circuit and to save energy.
  • Clean out your fridge and dispose of any food that could go bad in the time that you are away.  Take out your trash.  Clean your sink and anything that could attract animals or start growing mold.  Clean your garbage disposal with half a cup of vinegar and water.
  • Lock all doors and windows, including cat/dog flaps.  
  • Leave your curtains as open as you would if you were still at home, but relocate any valuables out of direct sight and even into your safety deposit box at your bank or another secure place in your home.  Also lock up or safely store your computerware and important documents.
  • Shorten the length of the ring on your landline, and do not update your answering machine with the news that you will be away on vacation.  Similarly, do not post your absence on social media.  
  • Park your car inside your garage, unless it is going with you on your trip.  Also clear it of any tools that could be used to help break into your house.
  • Check and update your smoke detectors.  

 

Outside

  • Ask your friend/neighbor to park their car in your driveway every once in awhile. 
  • Before you leave, mow your lawn, or enlist help to attend to it in your absence.  
  • Put all toys and yard supplies away, especially tools that people could use to get into your house with.  
  • Relocate any spare keys.
  • Request that your neighbor might move your trash bins to the curb and back on garbage day, even if there isn’t anything in them.
  • Put a bar across or deadbolt any glass or screen sliding doors.
  • Lock all sheds and turn off the power to the garage door.  
  • Install a motion-sensitive light outside.  

Did we miss something?  Would you like to clarify or update your policy?  Give us a call!  Our Cooperstown office phone number is 607-547-2951, and you can reach our office at Morris at 607-263-5170.  Also feel free to email us at agent@bierizinsurance.com or agent@morrisinsuranceny.com.  Happy travels!

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5 Things to Consider When Buying Boat Insurance

We understand that, with summer right around the corner and water temperatures sure to be rising, you want to get back out on that water fast.  While the draws of Glimmerglass and other bodies of water are many, your safety is nothing to be hasty about, and so here we provide 5 things to consider when buying boat insurance.  

  1. Your Boat is Not Covered by your Auto & Homeowners Insurance Policies
  • Auto & Homeowners Policies Limitations
    • While your auto insurance will cover your boat when you are traveling with it attached to your vehicle on land, it does not cover your boat when it is in the water.  
    • Similarly, your homeowners insurance will cover your boat for damage done to it while it is on your property, but, when your boat is on the water, it will usually only cover a small boat or at most; a boat with a small engine in certain waterways.  It also often does not cover for salvage work, wreck removal, and pollution or environmental damage.
  • Similarities with the Other Policies:
    • As with homeowners insurance, your boat insurance covers you for injury to others while they are on your boat, and it also offers you replacement cost or cash value in the event of damages.  
    • Like your auto insurance, your boat insurance covers you for your boat’s damage to others and others’ boats and docks, as well as for the damage done to your own boat by others’ or the environment.  Furthermore, it can be additionally protected against its theft or theft of contents (often specialty gear), against vandalism, fires and floods.  It can also cover you for towing and while you are outside of the US.
  • Differences from the Auto & Homeowners Policies:
    • Unlike these two other policies, your boat insurance policy can be suspended while your boat is not in use, which can save you some money.
    • Your boat insurance policy also covers you for permanently attached items like motors, oars, anchors, and navigational equipment.

 

  1. Pick the Right Agent (Check with our Team at the Bieritz Agency and Morris Insurance)
  • It is never fun to suffer a loss and then be pressed into haggling over discrepancies in the insurance policy, so it is wise to put the effort in upfront by locating the right agent for you, and thoroughly discussing your needs with them.  
  • Make sure they are familiar with boats and boating.
  • Make sure they are connected with well-respected marine insurer companies.
  • Make sure they are providing you with advice that is reasonable and applicable to you and your boating needs.
  1. Factors that Affect Policy Cost
    • Where you Plan to Boat:
      • Inland or coastal
      • Freshwater ($) or saltwater ($$$)
      • In-country or out-of-country
      • Specific locations out-of-country
    • Storm Plan
      • In the event of a strong storm, whether or not you decide to have your boat stored in a secure facility or towed to a safer locale could affect your policy price.  If you want to be covered for damage done during a storm, you must follow the plan.
    • Agency
      • You can bundle your policies and get discounts if you buy your boat insurance from the same insurance company that holds your auto and homeowners policies.

 

  • Type of Boat

 

  • Suspension
    • During the off-season (or times of the year when your boat is not being used), you can suspend your policy and reduce your costs.
  • Things that may Qualify for Discounts:
    • Taking a boating class or previous training and certification in classes
    • Good driving and boating record
    • Safety equipment and fixtures
  1. Agreed vs. Market/Actual Cash Value
  • Like cars, your boat suffers a decrease in the amount of money it is worth as soon as you put it on the water, and it continues to decrease with time.  
  • When you agree on a policy with your agent, you can decide whether, in the event of your boat being partially or completely destroyed, you want to be reimbursed to an “agreed value” or a “market/actual cash value.”  
  • Agreed value is what you and your agent decide the boat’s worth is at the time of purchasing insurance for it.  
  • It tends to cost more than market/actual cash value, which is the value of the boat in its “lifespan” at the time of the incident.  
  • While you might get more money back for damages with agreed value, insurers may push for actual cash value, which could offer you savings at the time of purchasing the policy.  

 

  1. Whether or not you feel your craft should be insured, it might be a good idea to buy a minimum liability coverage worth at least $500,000.  

 

Accidents happen, and it is always helpful to have something to fall back on!  If you are looking for information about insuring your boat, give our team a call at either of our offices in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170.  

 

Be safe and enjoy the water!

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