Archive for July 2012

A little love for our friends in Bellevue   Leave a comment

grilling ordinance

The Insurance Dogger mans the grill… in honor of her Bellevue neighbors!

It seems that in the borough of Bellevue, there is now legislation in place that requires you grill at least 5 feet away from any flammable materials – your house, shed, woodpile, deck, etc.  As you can imagine, the ordinance has “sparked” a number of protests.  It’s also made the news.      A LOT     OF NEWS      It’s also spawned mock-up products and even a Facebook Page.

Far be it from us to cast judgment on the merits of such a law.  That much should be obvious.  Were we still living in Bellevue, as you can see from the picture, the Dogger and I would be in obvious violation of the law.  Which leads us to the other purpose of today’s post – a couple simple tips on grilling safety.  These aren’t formal or scientific – you can find those things here.  This is basic common sense.

  1. If you have a gas grill, always check to make sure that your lines are tightly secured, and aren’t cracked.
  2. If using charcoal, don’t spray on a ridiculous amount of lighter fluid.  Using sparingly and light carefully.
  3. If using a gas grill, don’t lean down and try to look in and see if it’s lit.  Give it a couple seconds – you’ll know if it’s lit or not.  If not, shut the valve off and try again.
  4. Keep the lid closed unless you need to open it.
  5. Keep flammable materials away from the hot grill.
  6. If dripping grease causes a flare up, close the grill.  Do NOT spray with water, as this will spread the grease out and could cause an explosion.  Don’t believe it? – watch this.  If the flame gets out of control, shut the gas off at the controls, then at the tank, with the lid closed the whole time.  Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case it’s needed.
  7. When shutting off a gas grill, make sure the hand controls up top AND the valve on the tank are COMPLETELY closed and the hoses are secured to the tank.  Even a slight gas leak can be explosive, and extremely dangerous, as propane is heavier than air and will take a long time to dissipate.
  8. When disposing of charcoal, make sure that it has burned COMPLETELY out – this can often take quite a lot of time.  Always dispose of all ash and remaining coal, again, AFTER it’s burned completely out.
  9. Don’t ever cover ANY grill while it’s still hot.  Give it time.

That’s all for today.  Coming very soon – part 4 of how NOT to save on your insurance, and what you should’ve done.

Be safe, and enjoy your summer!

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Quick post – Flash flooding!   Leave a comment

Just a quick hit for those who state that they don’t live in a flood zone, and that “you better build a boat if we ever get flooded”

All you need is to take a look at these photographs demonstrating flash flooding that occured in the South Hills – today!

All it takes is a large volume of rainfall in a short span of time, and virtually any area can be flooded.  And, in case it wasn’t obvious – these claims would not be covered by a homeowners or renters policy (unless flood coverage was purchased, of course).  Most auto insurance policies DO provide coverage for vehicles damaged by flash flooding (if physical damage coverage was purchased on the vehicle).

If nothing else, at least obtain a quote to see just how inexpensive flood insurance can be.

Enjoy your weekend, and by all means – stay dry!

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Don’t think you’ll ever get flooded?

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4 ways NOT to save on your insurance (and what you should’ve done!) – part 3   1 comment

insurance discount

I’m confused – why aren’t you utilizing all the discounts out there?

Discounts, discounts, everywhere!  Everywhere you look, someone on TV, some billboard, magazine ad, etc is promoting all the various discounts that their insurance company offers.   It can get confusing and even overwhelming!  Safe driver discounts, home ownership discounts, good doggy discounts…. it goes on and on and on!

And yet, one thing that we find over and over – most people aren’t taking advantage of the many discounts available to them!  I can’t tell you how many times we will talk to someone who has their auto policy with one insurance company, for instance, but their homeowners coverage is with a different company.   Multi-policy discounts are some of the most advantageous available, and yet we STILL have clients that don’t utilize them!  Almost every company offers this to their personal lines clients, but are we all taking advantage?  Are you?

The list goes on:  people do not take advantage of life policy discounts, payment plan-related discounts (pay in full, quarterly payments, etc), Triple A (AAA) discounts, burglar/fire alarm discounts, sprinklered building, etc.  There is something to be said about not always being aware what discounts are available, and more importantly – discounts offered (and their value) can vary widely from company to company and even from policy type to policy type.

Your best option is to take the time to talk to your agent about the various discounts that your current insurance company offers.  If your agent is independent (they represent more than one company), ask about what kind of discounts OTHER companies offer, and if it would make sense to get a quote from them.

Another thing to consider – make sure to keep your agent up to date with situations & changes in your household and family.  For example, how will your agent know to apply a driver safety course completion discount to your auto policy if you don’t tell him!

“But how can I know if something will save me money on my insurance?” you ask.

Sammy says, “there’s a very simple rule you can follow” –   If you’ve made a change or completed a project that you feel may save you on your insurance – contact your agent to see if a discount applies!

Quick note for business owners:  A lot of the discounts that apply in personal lines do not exist in commercial insurance.  But take heart!  The pricing structure in commercial lines is very different, and you can do things like add credits for being loss free that you cannot do in personal lines.

Ahhhh…. I got my discounts!

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4 ways NOT to save on your insurance (and what you should’ve done!) – part 2   Leave a comment

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The busy blogger!

Good morning one and all!  Sorry about the delay in getting a post up – Sammy’s been one busy blogger!  Too many bones in the fire, I guess.  For part two of 4 ways NOT to save on your insurance, we’ve decided that we are going to discuss removing coverages from your policy or cancelling the policy.

We can both understand the idea behind removing coverages.  Times are tough right now for a lot of people.  You’ve been paying money into a policy that, in most cases, you’ve never used.  You need to cut back on costs – and “why should I keep paying for something I don’t use?”

Here is the main problem with removing coverages from your policy – there could come a time when you DO have a claim, and need the coverage you’ve deleted.  If you’ve removed it completely (or cancelled your policy), then you will pay for your claim entirely out of pocket. 

“Well, I haven’t had a claim in years!”  you say “Why would it be more likely that I’ll have a claim after I remove the coverage?”

“You’re right” Sammy says “removing a coverage won’t increase the likelihood that you’ll have a claim.  BUT, no one schedules when they have a claim – it often happens at the worst time possible!”

Rather than removing a coverage entirely, you should consider other options – increasing your deductible, reducing (but not removing) the amount of coverage, etcThis way, instead of receiving nothing from the insurance company, you will receive a reduced settlement.  Talk to your agent about ways to save on a coverage, rather than just deleting it.  Options available will vary greatly depending on the coverage(s) you are considering.

I hope this helps – and we are always looking for feedback – please ask questions or provide suggestions in the comment section.

We’re here to help you rest easy!!

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Relax! That’s why you have insurance

Don’t blow your fingers off!   Leave a comment

Happy Fourth of July one and all!  A couple sites with safety tips for your fireworks and general safety!

Have fun & stay safe!

A couple of patriotic pics to enjoy!

4 ways NOT to save on your insurance (and what you should’ve done!) – part 1   4 comments

expensive insurance

Got those payin’ too much blues? Sammy’s here to help!

Hello one and all, and happy Fourth of July!  Today we are going to start a four part series addressing common mistakes people make while attempting to save money on their insurance.  Rather than quick blurbs, Sammy’s idea was to go a bit more in depth each week.  Off we go!

This week we are going to cover one of the main ways that we all attempt to save money – by adjusting the coverages on our policies.  We’re going to cover both general and specific tips, and we DEFINITELY would like some feedback – questions and comments are invited!

Sammy suggested that we should title this week’s installment “Adjusting the wrong coverages,” and while it may be a bit negative, it does hit on our central focus.  There are many changes that you can make to your policy to save money.  The problem arises when the money that you save, versus the reductions in coverage you are accepting, do not make it worth while.

In general, when reviewing potential reductions in coverage, always consider what you are losing.  Does the amount of premium you are saving really pay for itself, when compared to the coverage you lose?  For example, if you are increasing your deductible from $500 to $1,000 to save $50 annually, is it worth it?  In order to make up for the extra $500 you will pay in the event of a loss, you would have to save $50 a year for ten years to make up the difference!  And that’s just to break even!

In addition, if you are looking at removing a coverage completely, make sure that you are comfortable that if you were to have a loss, you would be able to pay for it out of pocket.  For example, if you remove comprehensive coverage on your car, and it’s stolen – could you afford to buy another car to replace it?

Other things to consider BEFORE making changes:

  • If you are going to increase your deductible on your auto policy, make sure that you increase the right one.  Increasing your comprehensive deductible, in general, will not save you NEARLY as much as the collision deductible.  In addition, it will dramatically increase your out of pocket cost on smaller claims like cracked windshields.
  • If you are going to remove physical damage coverage completely, consider at least leaving comprehensive on the policy.  It doesn’t cost much, and provides lots of good coverages for the price – repairing cracked windshields (usually for free) or replacing them if necessary, hitting an animal, if your vehicle is stolen, vandalized, or catches fire.  It also covers unusual claims like if your vehicle is damaged or lost in a flood, hail damage, trees falling on vehicles, animal damage (such as a rodent taking up residence in your vehicle!), or if your vehicle gets painted accidentally by a line crew.  If you heard about the paving truck on the PA turnpike who leaked tar all over the road and damaged hundreds of vehicles – comp claim!
  • If you are considering reducing the building limit on your homeowner’s policy, you might do better by increasing your deductible.  Oftentimes, when you jump from one deductible level to the next, the building coverage rates drop dramatically more than if you just reduce your coverage.  Thus, you will accomplish two things – save more money on premium, and have better coverage in the event of a total loss – you will pay more for the deductible, but will not have diminished limits to contend with!  And, there is the nasty possibility of a co-insurance penalty – which I can address in comments, if you have questions!
  • If you are considering reducing the liability limit on your homeowners, look at a smaller reduction, but on the auto policy instead.  This one is “hairy”, though – it’s not often a good idea to reduce your liability limits – this is the protection you have in the event someone else sues you.  If you are dead set on reducing liability limits, get information on how much you would save by taking a smaller reduction on the auto policy.  In other words, you will likely save more money by reducing your auto liability limit by $50,000 ($100K to $50K) than reducing your homeowners by $200,000 ($300K to $100K).  Again, though, this is a LAST RESORT recommendation ONLY.

This is a lot of information.  Bottom line when looking to save money on your insurance, spend an extra 20 or 30 minutes to discuss your options with your agent.  Most agents are more than willing to see what they can do to keep their clients happy!  And if you end up saving money, while not losing much coverage-wise – all the better!

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