February 14th, 2012
I just Found the following filing on the PA Insurance Dept. website that will impact Allstate homeowners policy holders:
“On October 12, 2011, the Insurance Department (Department) received from Allstate Insurance Company a filing for rate level changes for homeowners insurance.
Allstate Insurance Company requests an overall 25% increaseamounting to $46,634,401 annually, to be effective December 5, 2011, for new business and January 19, 2012, for renewal business. This overall figure represents an average; the effect of this filing on the rates for individual consumers may vary.”
Remember that Lionstone is an independent agent and can save you money on homeowners insurance and offer better protection. Request a Instant Homeowners Quote Now!
November 14th, 2011
The cost to rebuild your home is its replacement value. This can be very different from the estimated market value or actual purchase price. In most cases, it costs more to rebuild the home you own than to buy a new one. This is an important insight into why your Dwelling (Coverage A) limit is so important.
Deciding How Much Home Insurance is Enough
Balcos home insurance agents will work with you to estimate the replacement cost for your home and to adjust your home insurance policy limits from time to time as needed.
It is critical that you provide us with accurate, updated information about your home and contents. If your policy limit accurately reflects your home’s true replacement cost, some home insurance companies will pay more than the limit if a covered loss is greater than the limit on your policy. Ask us about Extended Dwelling Coverage for an added layer of protection.
Once a review of your home and possessions indicates you are properly insured, it’s a good idea to reexamine your home insurance policy coverages and limits from time to time, especially whenever you make additions or improvements to your home.
Do I Have Enough Home Insurance?
Here are some steps you can take to reduce the danger of being seriously underinsured:
- Call us – If you have questions or concerns about the limits in your home insurance policy, call us. This will also give you an opportunity to make us aware of any overlooked information.
- Read your home insurance policy – Certain property, such as jewelry, and certain perils, such as earthquake or flood, are better insured separately or are excluded from home insurance policies. Knowing what is covered and for how much will help you insure properly.
- Tell us about home remodeling projects – At each annual renewal of your home insurance policy, you receive a new Policy Declarations page showing limits of coverage and optional coverages. Review this information. If you do any significant remodeling to your home, purchase larger electronics/appliances or cars, or sell cars or larger items, tell us about these changes so we can get you an updated home insurance quote.
- Consider whether your home insurance policy provides all the protection you need – Does it provide coverage for extra costs resulting from building code changes? Does it automatically increase coverage limits annually to keep pace with inflation? Does it provide additional funds if the cost of rebuilding your home exceeds the home insurance policy limits?
- Find out whether your home insurance company will stand behind agreed upon repairs after a claim – Some companies are willing to put this guarantee in writing.
- Find out if your home insurance policy includes replacement cost coverage for contents – “Contents” includes clothing, furniture, appliances, and other personal property inside your home. If not, you can add it by endorsement. The cost is small, but the protection valuable. Replacement Cost Coverage pays for losses to your possessions at the cost of brand new items. Without this option, a covered loss to your personal possessions would be depreciated by their age and condition, reducing the size of your claim settlement.
- Ask us about supplemental home insurance – If you have an art collection, antique furniture, jewelry, or other valuable possessions, talk to us about supplemental coverages, such as fine arts or scheduled property endorsements to adequately protect your investment in these items. The cost is modest for the extra protection, and often the deductible is waived.
- Consider whether you should have more coverage for personal property (contents) than your home insurance quote provides. Personal property coverage is usually 70% of the coverage limit for the structure. Your limit may be lower than 70%. Supplemental protection is available for a small additional premium.
- Prepare an inventory of personal property items. , update it periodically, and keep it in a safe place outside your home, such as a bank safe deposit box. It will save you hours of time trying to list everything damaged or destroyed if you need to make a claim. Let our home insurance agents help you simplify the job with tips, such as videotaping each room with descriptive information on the sound track.
November 14th, 2011
Avoid Financial Disaster with the Right Business Insurance Quote
Trying to sneak by without business insurance exposes your business to terrible risks. Can you really afford not to have adequate business insurance coverage? You never know when an accident will strike, or when an employee will get hurt. Not having the right business insurance can cost you and your family the business as well as your home, savings, retirement, the education of your children, and many other assets.
- You pull a healthy tooth from your patient’s mouth, and she sues you for malpractice.
- You business has been robbed. The desks have been rifled through, and files are missing. In your office, your desk has been robbed of business checks, personnel files, and business contacts.
- Your secretary needs surgery and months of physical therapy to correct her carpal tunnel syndrome.
- You arrive at work one morning to find that all of your computer equipment has been stolen.
- One of your waiters is talking to a friend, and a client overhears them calling your competitor an “idiot,” joking that they have been known to date underage girls. Your competitor promptly sues you for defamation.
- A customer slips on a freshly washed floor and breaks her ankle.
- One of your employees has been stealing restaurant supplies.
Unfortunately, bad things happen to even the most conscientious business owners. That’s why business insurance is here to protect you. Getting business insurance isn’t just the responsible thing to do. It’s what earns you your peace of mind.
Many business owners pay too little and end up with inadequate business insurance. A whole other set of business owners pay too much on their business insurance. The best way to avoid either group and end up with the business insurance you need is by talking to an independent business insurance agent. They can put together a professional, no-obligation business insurance quote for you.
Risks to Your Business
You never know when things like fires, flooding, lawsuits, accidents, theft, or loss of records will stop your business in it’s tracks. But it’s key that you use resources like business insurance to protect it when things like this DO happen. It’s better to be prepared than to be pummeled by large bills afterwards.
With all the things to keep track of with your business, you shouldn’t have to add the worry of “What If…” With the right coverage, you can sleep easy knowing you’re protected.
Why insure your home business if you already insure your home? If your computer breaks, your home insurance has you covered, and if a client slips on your floor, your home insurance will cover that, too… Right?
Most home insurance policies don’t cover the risks and liabilities of in-home companies.
If your computer (or other equipment) is used primarily for business, it isn’t covered by your home insurance policy. Same goes for other business-related incidents.
Some of the most common in-home businesses are:
- Piano or other music lessons
- Personal Trainers
- Professional services
- Landscaping services
- Other services
It doesn’t cost much to add business insurance coverage tailored to your setup. It’s probably a great deal less than the loss you would be facing if you were to have a claim from theft, accidental damage, natural disasters, vehicle accident or loss from employee or visitor injuries.
There are options available to you – make sure you ask your insurance agent about protection for your business… before it’s too late.
If something happens…
Do you have the right business insurance coverage, at the right amounts, to make sure you can open your doors to business quickly? There are very important questions to ask of yourself and your insurance agent:
- Do I have workers’ compensation insurance or disability insurance?
- If a natural disaster were to strike my business, will I be able to set up and continue operations in another location?
- Do I have coverage for income loss if my business is unexpectedly closes?
- If my building goes up in flames, do I have enough coverage to demolition AND completely rebuild, refurnish and restock my business operation?
- Do I have adequate “executive life coverage” on my key employees?
- Will my insurance cover the revenues I’ll lose?
- Does business insurance help me pay bills if my usual revenue stream is gone?
- Will my insurance reimburse me for the expenses I incur in getting my company back up to speed?
- If complaints about food poisoning start coming in, will my insurance protect me? Was it an ingredient? Was it the storage? Was it the supplier? Was it hygiene? Was it prepared improperly? How long will I have to be shut down, and how much will spoil, before I can open my doors to business again? What happens in the meantime?
- Do I have Commercial Auto insurance on my business’ vehicles?
- What if our computers get a bug and our customer lists are lost?
- Can the information be recovered, and will insurance cover the cost to do so?
- If one of my employees gets hurt, do I have disability coverage to pay part of their salary if they can no longer work?
- Am I protected from claims or actions taken in conjunction with my website?
- What happens if the losses from a claim go over my policy limits? Should I get umbrella insurance?
- If my employee sues me for discrimination, will I be covered? Does my Employee Pracices Liability Insurance (EPLI) cover it?
Insurance is all about the worst-case scenarios. You need to be prepared for problems of every size, so that if something happens, you, your business, and your employees won’t be left out to dry.
Anything less than full business insurance coverage isn’t adequate protection
Consult with a knowledgeable business insurance agent before purchasing any policies. If you are just launching your business, make sure you have adequate coverage before you open your doors. And don’t fall into the trap of getting too comfortable.
Many business owners purchase their policy and never look at it again. This is dangerous – if details of your business change, your policy needs to reflect the changes so that, in case something happens, your claim won’t be denied.
Set a date on your calendar a couple months before your renewal to review your business insurance policy with your insurance agent.
November 1st, 2011
Ten Questions to Ask Yourself
It seems our lives change constantly and without notice! So some good questions to ask yourself from time to time are “Am I covered properly?” and “Am I getting the right insurance discounts that I’m entitled to?”
If you have had a life-changing event, talk with us to make sure you are covered properly.
Here are ten quick items to help you perform a checkup your insurance coverage. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, give us a call to be sure you are getting the proper discounts and coverages!
- Have you gotten married, divorced, or had a baby?
- Is your teenager getting ready to drive or recently licensed? (A “good student discount” is available for 3.0 GPA full time students!)
- Do you have any “toys” that are not insured? (liability counts too!)
- Have you remodeled or made an addition to your home?
- Have you decided to buy a retirement or vacation home?
- Have you inherited property, or acquired any new valuables (jewelry, computers, electronic equipment, collector items, art, antiques, etc.)
- Have you signed a lease on a house or apartment?
- Have you changed jobs, joined a carpool, or are now retired?
- Do you have / operate an “in home” office
- Do you have other assets not insured with the same agent?
Note: It is best to have all your insurance with one agent to take advantage of multi-policy or account discounts (up to 15%). Just as important, your agent will be able to avoid gaps and coordinate coverages, saving your “bacon” and money at the same time.
November 1st, 2011
If you’re not with an independent insurance agency, there is a good chance that you are paying too much for your car insurance.
There are lots of ways to save money on car insurance, so why not take a moment and ensure you’re getting the best value for your dollar?
Cover What Your Car is Worth
If you have a car that’s not worth much (a good rule of thumb is $1,000 or less), or an older car, there’s not much point in getting collision and comprehensive coverages. The monthly cost and deductible usually end up being more money than the car is worth. The cost of car insurance tends to outweigh the benefit.
There are a number of car insurance discounts available. The reasons are varied, but here are a few examples:
- Low-risk occupations (such as teachers or engineers)
- Professional organizations
- Recent completion of Defensive Driving course.
- Car safety features, such as: Air bags, Anti-lock brakes, Anti-theft devices, Lo-jack, etc.
- If the driver is a good student
- Senior citizens
Make sure you are taking advantage of all thecar insurance discounts available to you! It never hurts to ask!
Combine Your Insurance
Most companies offer multi-policy insurance discounts, often around 10%. Make sure you talk to your Balcos agent about getting multi-policy discounts.
If you have multiple cars, motorcycles, homes, or have renters insurance, make sure they’re all insured with the same company! If you don’t, you’re probably paying too much and don’t have the best insurance for your needs.
Never let your car insurance policy lapse. If it expires, you will be left without coverage for that period and may find it difficult to obtain affordable car insurance again. Car insurance is a business of statistics. Customers who let their insurance expire—even for a couple days—are statistically higher-risk, so often get charged extra.
It’s a simple. If you’re a good driver, you’ll often get a better price on car insurance. There’s even discount car insurance available to most people that qualify as “good drivers.”
Car insurance companies categorize drivers into types – “worst,” “middle,” and “best.” Each type of driver typically gets insurance with a different type of company. But many people get lumped into the “middle driver” type.
Most people in the “middle” have driving records that are about the same as the “best” drivers, but don’t get discounted car insurance premiums. If your driving record is clean, you probably have access to an affordable car insurance policy. It pays to be a safe driver!
If you don’t drive it, don’t insure it. If one of your cars broke down and has been sitting in the backyard for a year, make sure it’s not still on your car insurance policy. Keep in mind, though, that many states require that you have any registered vehicle insured, so if you drop car insurance you may want to register the vehicle as “inoperable” to avoid any complications or penalties. Only drop a vehicle from your auto insurance policy if you’re sure you’re not going to be driving it for a long time.
Bus It Up
You pay more if you drive to work. And the more miles you drive, the more you pay in car insurance. You may want to weigh out your costs & benefits; how much you pay for insurance against the cost of a bus pass, and the savings in gas.
Something else to take into consideration is how much you get paid per hour versus the amount of time you’d spend on the bus, or in your car stuck in traffic. When you add up all the changes in time and cost, it is often much more affordable to use a form of mass-transit to get to work.
Pay Up Front
Buy a longer car insurance policy. Sometimes you pay processing fees or price penalties if you have short policies or pay monthly. The longer your policy term, and the more you pay in lump sums, the cheaper your car insurance rates will likely be.
If installments are the only affordable option, you may be able to avoid fees by having your premiums automatically deducted from your bank account each month. Another option that many companies offer is larger installments – instead of a monthly fee, you can pay two-months worth every two months to avoid some of the fees. Talk to your Balcos agent to see what they can do for you.
Low Mileage Drivers
Insurance companies use “average use” to help them decide whether individual drivers will pay more or less for their insurance. This is usually 400 – 1,000 miles per month. If you drive less than the average, you can sometimes qualify for low-mileage car insurance discounts.
Monitor Your Teen Driver
Some car insurance companies have programs that monitor teen drivers – and some even offer discounts for participating. Some programs use cameras that provide you with video and audio footage of your teen driving. The camera is triggered “on” by aggressive driving. Others use global positioning systems (GPS), which tracks:
- How your teen drives
- Sudden braking
- Fast acceleration
- Where they go
This may help you open discussions with them about their driving, and helps ensure that they will drive safely (if not because of your words, because they have the feeling that “Big Brother is Watching”). You can even set the system to send you an e-mail or text message when your teen arrives at a specific address.
Waiting to Drive
Young, newly licensed drivers are the most prone to car accidents. As a high-risk group of people, you will pay more to insure them. If they get their drivers license, you must pay the extra premium. Though it may be difficult to make them wait, if your car insurance bills are already an issue, it might be your best option.
If they already have a driver’s license, you may be able to exclude them from coverage by signing an exclusion form. Normally, car insurance rates go down a little after the driver turns 18, and the price plummets later, usually at age 21 and/or 25.
Type of Car
What kind of car you drive makes a big difference in how much you will pay for car insurance. Is it a Sport or Racing edition? Is it a car that is targeted by theives? Is it expensive to repair?
These are all factors that cause the price of your car insurance to skyrocket. If you haven’t bought a car yet, but have one in mind, get a car insurance quote from your agent specific to that type of car.
For detailed information contact the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and request a “Highway Loss Data Chart.”
Assume More Risk
You pay a deductible when you have an accident/loss. This is your responsibility to pay before your insure will kick in.
Let’s say you have an accident that causes $500 in damage, and your deductible is $100. You pay the $100 (deductible) first, and then the insurance company pays the rest.
- If your deductible is lower, you pay more for insurance.
- If your deductible is higher, you pay less for insurance.
This is because you are taking more of the risk upon yourself. If you have the money to afford the additional cost and are a safe driver, you can probably afford to pay more in the event of an accident and less monthly. This is often less expensive in the long run.
Professional Organizations, Memberships, Clubs & Associations
Find out if you qualify for any group plans. For example, if you are an alumnus of a college or university, or a member of a professional organization, you may qualify for a discount or a special group plan with one or more insurance companies.
Location, Location, Location
If you’re planning a move any time soon, don’t forget to factor in the cost of car insurance. Typically:
- If you live in a rural area, you pay less for car insurance.
- If you live in an urban area, you pay more for car insurance.
- Costs can vary, even within a community.
- Rates vary greatly depending on which communities, cities, or states you plan on moving to.
Discounts are available by many companies to those who have completed a Defensive Driving Course recently. Typically, this is within the last three (3) years.
Many insurance companies use your credit history as a tool to finding out how great a risk you are. If your credit report is in good standing, you may be able to get discounted car insurance premiums by insuring with a car insurance company that uses credit reports as a rating factor. Or, if you have a messy credit report, switching to a company that doesn’t use credit history might be advisable.
Independent Insurance Agent
The best way to ensure you’re getting the best car insurance and premium available to you is by getting the help of an experienced independent insurance agent.
Why take on the job of sifting through thousands of insurance companies yourself? An independent insurance agent will do this for you and help make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Our professionals are here to help you get an affordable car insurance quote with the coverage you need to stay protected.
October 24th, 2011
If you have an accident you should:
1. First check to make sure that everyone is all right — call for an ambulance or the paramedics if needed
2. For call the police
3. Exchange information with the other drivers :Name, Address, Telephone number, Insurance company/insurance agent, License plate number
4. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible.
5. If you have phone with a camera take a picture of the damage to both vehicles.
October 19th, 2011
It can be easier than you think to put the brakes on high auto insurance rates – as an independent agency, Lionstone Insurance can help! We can review your policy and possibly help you find a variety of illuminating ways to save money. Here are some things you may want to consider:
• We check several companies’ rates. This is the single most important thing you can do to get the best possible rate—and we can do it for you quickly and easily. The difference between the highest and lowest rate available to you from different companies could vary by hundreds of dollars.
• Reduce or drop physical damage coverage on an older car. Depending on your car’s age and where you live, comprehensive and collision coverage may not be worth keeping. We can give you advice on whether it makes sense to reduce or drop this coverage altogether.
• Raise your deductible. According to the Insurance Information Institute, raising your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive cost by 15 to 30 percent. In addition, because the average driver files a collision claim only once every ten years, odds are that over the lifetime of your car, a higher deductible will save you money. We can show you how raising your deductible will lower your premium.
• Look for discounts. Many insurance companies reduce premiums for certain driver traits or car features. For example: being a homeowner for more than three years, nonsmoker, nondrinker, students with good grades, senior citizens who have taken an approved defensive driving course, people who only drive for pleasure, cars kept in garages, antilock brakes, antitheft devices, air bags, etc.
• Don’t assume having your car and home insured by the same company is the best option. Because auto insurance rates vary so much from company to company, it may make sense for you to have your car and home insured by separate companies. Let’s talk about it.
To learn more about what Lionstone can offer you, call one of our friendly agents today! 484.485.2774
October 13th, 2011
Does my company need a Commercial Auto Insurance Policy?
Using the right tool for a job is key to success in any profession. Experts say the same principle applies when selecting an auto insurance policy. Having the right type of policy can help ensure that you, your employees and your business are all protected in the unfortunate event that one of your vehicles is involved in an accident.
If you’re a business owner and you or your employees use a vehicle for business-related deliveries or to carry certain materials to and from a job site, you may need a commercial auto insurance policy that’s tailored to more closely suit the needs—and risks—of a business vehicle operator.
Here are some questions that can help you determine if you might need a commercial auto policy instead of a personal auto policy:
- Do you need more liability coverage than your personal auto policy provides? Generally, a commercial auto policy provides higher limits of liability, but less or no coverage in areas that are typically not associated with commercial auto risks.
- Do you need special coverage for situations associated with con-ducting business? Commercial auto policies also usually offer certain coverages—such as hired and non-owned auto coverage and coverage for towing a trailer for business use—that are not available with personal auto policies.
- Do you need to list any employees as drivers? You can do this with a commercial auto insurance policy.
- Do you use your vehicle for business purposes? If you use your vehicle for things like pizza or newspaper delivery, catering, door-to-door consulting service, landscaping or snowplowing service, logging business, day care/church retreat van service and/or farm-to-market delivery, you might need a commercial auto policy.
Lionstone Insurance Advisors is an independent insurance agency – trained, licensed insurance professionals who offer personal service and advice. We can help match you with the type of policy that best suits your needs and those of your company.
September 29th, 2011
Ever mowed a lawn in January? Or plowed a snowy driveway on a hot July day? If you own and operate a seasonal business, chances are you aren’t working in the off-season, so the insurance you carry should be different than what you carry in-season.
Leading commercial auto insurers offer seasonal insurance for businesses like landscapers, snowplow drivers, ice cream truck owners, and more. These coverages allow you to customize your commercial auto insurance based on when your business is running on all cylinders — and when it’s not.
Insurers offers these tips for getting the most out of your policy in the off-season:
- If your vehicle will be parked during the off-season, you may think you should cancel that vehicle’s insurance during that time. But if you’d like to protect your vehicle and still save a little money, just switch your insurance to a Comprehensive-only policy. This will give you basic protection against incidents like vandalism, theft, falling tree branches and hail.
- A Comprehensive-only policy also gives you the bonus of having continuous insurance coverage. If you drop your insurance completely, you may pay significantly more to get a new policy when in-season rolls around because most insurance companies want to see proof of continuous coverage.
- If you plan to drive your work truck or other vehicles for personal use during the off-season, let your insurance carrier know. They can adjust your policy to reflect personal use, which can be less expensive while still providing coverage.
Claims handling capability is the most important feature we sell our commercial customers. As an independent we make sure your claims are settled quickly. Call Lionstone Insurance Advisors at 1-800-443-5903 for a free quote on your commercial vehicles today.
February 10th, 2011
Winter Weather Resources:
Travelers’ Claim and Risk Control professionals have created a number of resources to help you learn more about common types of property damage from snow and ice accumulation, as well as steps you can take to help protect your property:
- Protecting Your Property from Ice and Snow Damage (customer fact sheet)
- Helping Prevent Snow/Ice Load Roof Collapse (Risk Control technical bulletin)
- Protect Against Frozen Pipes (customer fact sheet)
- Winter Weather Preparation Tips (Risk Control technical bulletin)