Could Easter Egg be your downfall?

Easter will be here on Sunday. Easter has a lot in common with items in your home owners policy. Take the Easter Bunny for example, no one knows how he gets into your home but he does. What if instead of leaving eggs and baskets, he takes your stuff and causes damage to your home? How would you be compensated for the damage caused by the Easter Bunny. Your homeowners policy could, your homeowners policy could cover your dwelling and your personal property under coverage A and B. Easter Egg Hunts are another Easter Tradition. This tradition can also make you think about your homeowners policy. Many kids covet brightly colored eggs. These eggs can be very valuable to kids. What about your valuable stuff? Do you have jewelry, silverware or other valuable or collectible items. If so do you have an inland marine policy or inland marine endorsement on your homeowners policy? Many homeowners policies have a sub-limit for collectibles and jewelry. Scheduling these items can give you the coverage you need. Another Easter Egg item is liability. Imagine having all of the neighborhood over for an Easter Egg Hunt. During the activity one of the kids slips and falls getting injured. Your liability coverage would be your protection in the case of a lawsuit. A severe injury though could require an umbrella which provides additional liability protection. Enjoy the Easter holiday, but use the time right after to think if you are properly covered for your life. Give us a call and we can help you through this process.

April Showers bring flooding!

In the saying April Showers bring May flowers, but in real life April Showers can bring flooding.  Flooding can be a huge issue for us around the Pittsburgh area.  Last year flooding plagued the area and caused significant damage.  We wanted to take this time to remind you that flooding is typically not included on your policy.  Flood coverage is typically written on a flood policy and backed by FEMA.  According to the National Flood Insurance Program, a flood is a “general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or two or more properties”.  One thing to keep in mind with that definition and with your insurance policy is that surface water is considered a flood.  Based on surface water causing the damage, this event would be considered a flood and not subject to insurance unless a flood policy is in force.  If you live in a flood zone typically you would have a flood policy as it would most likely be required for your closing.  If you do not live in a flood zone you can still purchase flood insurance, it is typically cheaper being in a non-flood zone.  Some private carriers have started to write flood insurance on a commercial policy along with a select few personal lines companies.  As always reach out to us if you have questions and let us verify that you are insured properly. 

Is a spring renewal in your plans?

Spring is officially here this week.  Spring brings thoughts of renewal and spring projects meant to get your home and car in shape after a long winter.  Spring can also be the time of year to evaluate your financial wellness.  One way to look at financial wellness is to ask the question what would happen if I died.  How would that event impact your loved ones?  What if one of your loved ones died?  How would that impact you?  The loss of an income can be a significant factor in your family’s well-being.  Life insurance can help you and your family keep your financial freedom.  There are three main types of life insurance, Term, Universal, and Whole-Life.  Each product offers unique features.  Life insurance can give you just a death benefit or it can give you cash value in an investment vehicle.  Give us a call at 412-344-2800 to see what life insurance policy fits your life better.  Remember life insurance is cheaper when you are younger, and you could get a discount on your home and auto policies. 

What does St. Patrick's day have to do with National Umbrella Month?

St. Patrick’s day is here on Sunday. Every year people celebrate the day when everyone is Irish. Celebrations mean different things to different people, but for some those celebrations involve parties and alcohol. What does that have to do with National Umbrella month? We might be using National Umbrella Month wrong, it is supposed to be for the umbrella that protects you from rain, but let’s talk about the umbrella that protects you from life? How this umbrella protects you on St. Patrick’s day is by giving you extra liability coverage if someone slips and falls at your house or has some kind of accident. An umbrella policy sits on top of your home and auto policy and gives you a limit of liability higher than your auto and home. Most umbrella’s start at 1 million in coverage and could be key to your financial future if you are sued. An umbrella could be the difference between losing your house and keeping what you have worked hard to obtain. Umbrella’s are typically a cost effective policy. Premiums can be in the 150 to 500 range. This St Patrick’s Day enjoy the day and the celebration. Rest easy knowing that if the worst happens your umbrella has you covered from the storm.

Spring is getting closer

March starts the count down to Spring. Spring will be here in the next couple of weeks, even if it won’t look like it this weekend. March is National Nutrition Month, Employee Spirit Month, and National Red Cross Month. March also has some insurance related topics, it is National Umbrella Month and Flood Awareness Week. Finally don’t forget to support your favorite small business on March 29th, which is National Mom and Pops Business Owners Day. St Patrick’s Day is one of the best known days of the month. During the month of March on our blog we will look at umbrella’s, St Patrick’s Day, and how to Spring clean some of the area’s of your home and auto.

Are you a co-signer on a loan?

As Insure Your Love Month continues we want to bring up a life insurance need that many people do not think about when discussing life insurance. That situation is being a co-signer on a loan for someone. That loan could be a car loan, a mortgage, or a college loan. Co-signing on someones loan could put you on the hook for paying that loan in the event of a death. Many parents are co-signers on student loans for their children. Federal loans offer a built-in protection, however private loans do not according to smartasset.com. Typically term life insurance could be a solution. Term life insurance is usually very cost effective for a younger person. A life insurance policy could help you offset most or all of the debt that a student loan could bring you in the event of your child’s death. Call us at 412-344-2800 to discuss if this could be a solution for you. You can also click the links in the upper corner to contact us.

Insurance for your most valuable assest

Valentine’s day has came and went, but that caring feeling for a loved one remains. February has Valentine’s Day, but it is also Insure your Love month. Insure your Love month is brought to you by Lifehappens.org. The site is a website discussing the importance of life insurance. Life insurance needs change many times throughout your life. Getting married, having a baby, buying a house, all of these events change your need for life insurance. Life insurance helps protect what you have built and love. Give us a call at 412-344-2800 or hit the contact us link. We would love to discuss your life changes and see how life insurance can help your loved ones. Life insurance can also give a discount on your home and auto. Remember it is cheaper to buy life insurance when you are younger so it is never too early to start.

Interest that your are earning got you down

Today we have a guest blog from agent Armand Castelli. Looking to earn more interest than bank CD's?  Erie Single Premium Deferred Annuity have three options. SPDA III is a  3 year rate Guarantee is 2.60%.  SPDA V is a 5 year rate Guarantee of 2.90%.  SPDA VII is a 7 year rate of 3.20%.   All rates are taxed deferred. The annunities are issued by Erie Family Life Insurance Company, which is rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best.  For as little as $50 a month, Erie's Flexible Premium Deferred Annuity is currently earning 2.90% taxed deferred for long term savings.  Call us for a quote at 412-344-2800.

Black Ice

Winter driving lately has been a struggle for most people.  Traffic has been backed up and slowed down as winter weather has worked its way through our region.  One of the main causes of delays and accidents is black ice.  According to Wikipedia, “black ice is a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface”, “the ice itself is not black, but visually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen though it”.  Black ice is the same as regular ice; it is just easier to see through due to not having bubbles in it.  When driving on black ice there are a few tips to help keep you safe.  First remain calm.  According to Wikihow, do not brake when on black ice, do as little as possible and let the car pass over the ice.  De-accelerate by lifting your foot off the accelerator completely and keep the steering wheel in a fixed position.  Also according to Wikihow, if you are on black ice look for areas of traction, snow-covered spots or spots with sand could give you increased traction.  If you do lose traction and skid remember to steer the wheel in the direction you want to go, and if you end up losing control try to steer into things that will cause minimal damage.  There are ways that you can minimize your encounters with black ice.  Wikihow says you should travel slowly and remain a safe distance behind the car in front of you.  Keep your windshield clear of ice, snow, and dirt and free of obstructions.   Also remember to never use cruise control during icy conditions.  Stay safe this winter.

Winter Storm Harper

First off we want to ask everyone to be safe this weekend as a large snow storm is set to head our way.  Large winter storms can cause stress and anxiety for many people.  As the storm approaches be prepared for the storm.  On this blog and our social media sites we have talked about ways to winterize your car and home.  Last week we touched on snow shoveling.  Don’t forget about your four legged family members during a winter storm.  Remember to keep your pets’ outdoor time to a minimum during the storm.  Also if you have small or short haired animals consider a coat or booties according to aspca.org.  They ask you to remember that if it’s cold for you, it is cold for your pets too.  When your pets come in from outdoors wipe off wets paws and bellies with a moist wash cloth, salt and snow between the toes can be painful to your pet. (aspca.org)   Keep an eye on your pets’ water as well as most winter storm deaths for pets are a result of dehydration. (redcross.org) Your pet however isn’t the only one at risk of dehydration, avoid caffeine and alcohol if you are going to be out in the storm as both can increase the effect that cold has on you.  Don’t forget that other animals are outside as well and may be seeking shelter under your car if you park outside.  Looking under your car or banging loudly on the car can scare out and animals that might be hiding underneath your car.  Depending on your area, this weekend could bring up to 8 inches.  Stay safe and keep your pets safe and enjoy the weekend. 

Snow is here!

Snow is on the way.  Snow can be a big hazard on the roads but it is also a hazard at home.  One area of danger that many people over look is snow shoveling.  Before you head out make sure that you layer up to stay warm and remove clothing as you go to stay comfortable and not overheat.  Warming up is one thing that most people over look.  Going out into the cold can put the muscle in an environment for a pull or tear.  A few minutes of walking in place or bending side to side can help prepare for snow removal.  Another aspect of snow shoveling that many people over look is your shovel.  There are many ergonomically designed shovels available today.  Choosing one of these shovels can reduce the stress you place on your body.   A plastic shovel instead of a metal shovel can also reduce some of the weight and make shoveling easier.  Once you start the shoveling process remember to push the snow instead of trying to lifting it.  If you have to lift it, bend your knees and use your legs as much as possible.  Also avoid twisting as much as possible.  When the snow falls it can be beneficial to shovel as the snow falls so that the weight doesn’t pile up on you.  Take frequent breaks and walk around so that you can extend your back and keep it from cramping up.  Shoveling can also make you sweat, so remember to stay hydrated.  Be safe and take your time, our snow season can be a long one.

So far so good this Winter

We have been lucky so far this winter and had a small amount of snow.  At some point snow will be here. How can you prepare for the snow so that you are safe around your house and in your car?  One way to prepare your car is to have an emergency kit in your car.  Emergency kits are easy to prepare and can make a big difference.  Some simple items to include are a flashlight, phone car charger, pen and notepad, jumper cables, hats, gloves, and a blanket.  If you want a little bigger and safer kit, including items such as tools, a foldable shovel, first aid kit, fix a flat,portable air compressor, and safety absorbent would be your next step.  If you do not have safety absorbent, kitty litter can also help you get traction on ice.  Your walks and driveways are another area of possible danger during winter months.  One way to remove snow and ice is manually with a shovel.  Just make sure you use proper shoveling technique and safety procedures.  Salt can be used and is a popular method of de-icing.  The issue with salting is that it can cause damage to car, fabrics, carpet, plants, grass, and even pets paws.  You can look for de-icers that are safe for pets and easier on your driveway.  Organic salt free de-icers are available but more expensive than regular salt.  Urea is an alternative safe for pets but dangerous for grass and plants.  Alfalfa meal could be the answer to your de-icing needs.  It is natural, can de-ice, and is grainy so it can help with traction.  Another possibility is sugar beet juice.  Sugar Beet Juice is used by some municipalities.  Sugar beet juice also has a freezing point of negative 20 degrees Celsius.  Finally in a pinch coffee grinds can be effective.  We will continue to look at ways to make winter a little easier on your through the upcoming weeks.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.....

In The Night Before Christmas, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon will be there.  In real life the stockings may be hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that a fire does not come out of nowhere.  According to the NFPA, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day are the top three days for candle fires.  Over half of home decoration fires are started by candles.  NFPA suggest keeping candles at a minimum of 12 inches away from anything that burns.  Candles are not the only fire hazard in town for the holidays.  Christmas trees can cause major damage if they catch fire.  NFPA reports that a heat source too close to a Christmas tree causes 1 in every 4 fires, and on average 1 of every 45 Christmas tree fires results in death.  Keeping your tree at least 3 feet from heat sources and keep light strands to the suggested connected amount is a good place to start with tree fire safety, according to NFPA.  Remember it takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames according to the National Institute for Standards and Technology.  Keep your tree well-watered, the USFA reports that a well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite.  Dispose of trees within four weeks of purchase.  Even the best watered tree will dry out after four weeks.  Christmas decorations and candles are not the only hazards around the house.  Heating equipment like space heaters can lead to fires.  Remember to keep anything flammable at least three feet away.  Other winter tips are to check your carbon monoxide detector and be sure to get your chimney cleaned by a professional.  Check out our Facebook and other social media sites for more fire safety tips.

Is jewelry in the plans for this holiday season?

We are in the middle of the holiday and gift giving season.  Typically when giving and receiving gifts, insurance is one of the last things on your mind.  Receiving gifts can potentially impact your insurance needs.  Remember it will cost you an estimated $39,094.93 to buy the Twelve Days of Christmas this year according to www.forbes.com.  The Holiday Season can be a time of year where more expensive gifts are given.  Rings, watches, necklaces, and other jewelry, not to mention other valuable items are given.  Valuable items like this typically need special attention paid to them.  Adding an inland marine policy or inland marine endorsement to your homeowners’ policy is a great way to protect your new gifts.  Homeowners and renters policies without an inland marine component typically offer some coverage for valuable gifts. Your renters or homeowners policy most likely carries a per piece limit for valuable items, that limit can easily be exceeded and leave you with not enough coverage to replace them.  Personal inland marine coverage also typically includes increased covered perils as well.  Your homeowner’s policy will not usually cover things like breakage and some other perils covered by the inland marine part.  A different deductible can also be applied to an inland marine so you can pay less of a deductible on valuable, sentimental items in the event of a claim.  Not sure if an inland marine is right for you and your new gift, give us a call and let us help you understand what you need.  You can reach us via this website, via our social sites, or at 412-344-2800.  Also check out our social media sites for tips on how to stay safe when shopping in the mall or online this year.  Click the buttons on this page to check us out.