Monthly Archives: October 2016

Petschauer Insurance’s Guide To A Safe and Happy Halloween

family-pumpkins

Having spooky adventures is all part of the fun during Halloween. That said, the real scare would be not being careful on this frightful holiday. Allow us to walk you through some key safety tips to ensure a fun-filled holiday.

Halloween Parties: Gatherings can be exciting, and hosts will be worry free if they’ve reviewed their homeowners coverage before the fun begins. Taking up well known traditions can be done in a careful manner. When carving pumpkins, it’s important to keep carving tools away from young children. They can decorate with markers instead. You can supplement candles with energy efficient LED lights. The FDA recommends rinsing fruits and vegetables under cool running water before bobbing for apples. If you’re hosting a party and charge money for entry, Travelers notes that it could be considered a business opportunity and the proper insurance would come in handy.

halloween-costumes

Trick or treating: AllState recommends that children travel in groups, do so in brightly lit areas, and have a mutual place to gather should they end up getting separated. On the flip side, as a driver you’d be smart to keep an eye out for children running in the street, especially if it’s a darker area. As a parent, you can keep kids’ food allergies in mind and prepare them with a raised level of awareness around the risks of encountering strangers. On a day centered around snacks and sweets, Utica offers some healthier alternatives.

Decorations: The quickest and safest way to avoid injury for any visitors is to keep your front and back yards clean and to clear a path for trick-or-treaters. According to The Washington Post, Halloween is unfortunately a day with a higher risk/percentage of home burglaries and car vandalisms. Luckily, Nationwide offers a complete outline to keeping your home and car safe.

Costume Safety: Putting together costumes for your kids can be done in a safe manner as well. Face paint can be less restricting on a child’s eyesight than a fully covering mask. Costumes that don’t run very long will give trick-or-treaters the flexibility to walk freely without risk of tripping. The toy weapons from your child’s favorite superhero should not be able to cause legitimate harm. AllState points out that flame-resistant fabric is always best, especially if there’s still an easily accessible spot for children to keep their cell phones, in case of an emergency.

To get into the spirit of the holiday, you can also check out one of our favorite Ask Sherri videos. Happy Halloween!

Understanding the ACA Obamacare Tax Penalty For the Uninsured

health-insuranceWhen filing your 2016 tax returns, you could face a sizeable fine if you and/or your family are without health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that anyone that has gone without health insurance for a span of three months or more is subject to paying a fine. The penalty this year has increased to equal the greater amount of $695.00 or 2.5% of an adult’s income. For every child under 18 without health insurance, the penalty is half that of an adult’s.

This penalty is deducted from any income tax refund you may be eligible for. It would be unfortunate to be burdened by such a penalty and have it get in the way of the potential tax refund you look forward to receiving every year.

There are, however, exceptions to the rule.

You may qualify for an exemption if you fall under any of the following categories:

  • Individuals and families who fall under the income-tax federal threshold would be exempt, or receive the necessary subsides to offset the costs of the health insurance.
  • If you are unemployed and are unable to find coverage costing less than 8% of your adjusted gross income, you would be exempt from penalties as well.
  • You may also qualify for a hardship if you are homeless or have been evicted in the last six months.

We encourage you to review this information carefully so that you can make good decisions for you and your family.

Please note, Open Enrollment for 2017 begins on November 1st  2016.  Feel free to contact us today to discuss the options that best fit the needs of you and your family, as the penalty will be the same for next year.

How is your car insurance rate determined?

carHave you ever wondered what determines the price of your car insurance? How and why do your rates change? Why are you paying more (or less) than you were at this time last year? These are all questions that go through a consumer’s mind when evaluating their respective rates.

Allow us to walk you through some crucial factors that help determine your insurance premium.

° Deductibles: The higher the deductible, the lower your premium will be, and vice versa.

° Coverages: Opting for more thorough liability coverage to better protect your assets and future earnings, as well as additional coverage (such as rental, reimbursement, full glass, and roadside assistance) will, understandably so, contribute to higher rates.

° Credit Based Rating: Many companies use a credit based insurance score to determine your car insurance rates. Higher scores correlate with responsible driving habits.

° Motor Vehicle Driving Record: If you’ve received a traffic violation or had an accident within the last 3 to 5 years, most insurance companies will take that into account. The rate could subsequently increase. On the flip side, if a driver has gone a longer period of time without a violation or accident, the rate could end up being lower.

° Age: Drivers between the ages of 25-65 typically pay lower rates.

° Make and model: Vehicles that perform better in crash safety tests usually have lower rates. Vehicles with higher sticker prices usually have higher comprehensive and collision rates.

° Residence: Living in heavily populated urban areas will make your premium more expensive than living in a suburban area. Urban areas have higher rates of vandalism, theft, and accidents, all making them more expensive than rural areas and small towns.

° Mileage and Usage: The more you drive and the further you drive, the more you pay. Your reason for usage (personal, business, etc.) is a factor in the rate as well.

With so many personal factors determining your auto insurance rates, it’s easy to understand why it often varies from one person to the next. Here are some ways to lower your rates:

° Increase your deductible

° Take a defensive driving course

°  If you’re the owner of multiple cars, there’s also the possibility of receiving a multi-car discount

° Driving fewer miles

° Some companies use vehicle tracking devices (like Progressive’s “Snapshot”) that monitor driving, which can offer additional discounts

° Bundle your home, auto & umbrella policies together with the same carrier, as they may offer multi-policy discounts.

There are many factors not in the control of an individual, so it’s important to take advantage of those that are. Contact us today if you are interested in getting the best coverage for you and your vehicle.

Water Is Not Always Your Friend

flood-picture

What’s the difference between a flood and a sewer backup? With hurricane season in full swing, it’s important to understand the differences between the two so you are protected in the event either one happens to you.

A flood involves rising waters, such as those caused by rain, melting snow, or an overflow of a river.  We have witnessed the devastation that floods can cause. However, homeowners and commercial property policies do not always cover the subsequent flood damage.

The way to insure your home or commercial properties against flood damage is through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Sewer and drain backup, on the other hand, involves water that causes damage to your property, resulting from a sewer or drain that backs up. When a buildup of water is prevented from continuing to flow in the normal direction, it must reverse its direction and go back up the other way. As a result, water backup occurs. A collapsed pipe and blockage are also known to cause water backup. Homes are most susceptible to the backup of drain lines during the wet months of spring and fall.

Unlike flood insurance, the coverage for this type of loss can actually be purchased as part of your homeowners and commercial property polices.

It is also important to note that Flood polices do not cover losses caused by sewer or drain backup.

Don’t drown yourself in worry over a lack of coverage.  Contact us today to discuss your coverage options.