5 Alarms to Consider for your Ohio Home
Posted on May 23, 2017
What alarms and sensors do you need in your Ohio or West Virginia home? The answer is different for everyone. But, whatever your situation, today’s technology has you covered with options including online monitoring and more. Here are some common alarms, including two everyone needs to have, and three many people should at least consider:
No matter where you live — house, condo, apartment — you need smoke alarms. Place one in every room where people sleep, and at least one on each level of your home. Consider alarms that work for both flaming and smoldering fires (they’re different), as well as an interconnected system so that all alarms sound when one detects smoke.
Carbon-monoxide (CO) detectors
Here’s another must-have. CO — a deadly, odorless gas generated by the burning of fuels such as wood, natural gas or propane — kills hundreds of people a year in the U.S. You should have at least one CO detector on every level of your home, even if you only have electric appliances and heat sources. Your state may even require you to have one.
Natural gas detectors
These alarms usually detect CO and propane leaks, so consider one if you have natural gas appliances in your home. You also need one for your RV or trailer if you use propane to fuel your cooking or heating.
Leaks from appliances or pipes can do extensive — and expensive — damage to your home if they go undetected. Water alarm systems typically use sensors placed near appliances or other trouble spots to alert you when they sense moisture.
Whether you want a do-it-yourself system or one that is professionally monitored, you’ve got more options than ever before. You may even be able to check in on your home from wherever you are using your smartphone.
When you’re making these important decisions, here’s one more important thing to consider: Some of these alarms could qualify you to save on your homeowners insurance in the states of Ohio and West Virginia! Call SIA at 740-446-0404 to learn more.
Simple Answers to your Car Insurance Questions
Posted on April 10, 2017
Here’s simple answers to our most frequently asked auto insurance questions:
Q: What does “full coverage” mean?
A: Full coverage means your vehicle insurance includes liability, comprehensive, and collision insurance.
Q: What does $100,000/$300,000/$100,000 liability mean?
A: This means that you your insurance will provide $100,000 bodily injury per person with $300,000 bodily injury per accident. The last $100,000 is available for property damage liability.
Q: Who offers the cheapest car insurance in Ohio?
A: Grange Insurance is rated the cheapest option for good drivers, young drivers, & retired drivers in Ohio by NerdWallet. Erie was rated cheapest for those with poor credit in Ohio.
SIA offers Grange Insurance.
Q: Who are the best car insurance companies?
A: NerdWallet ranks Amica, Erie, Auto-Owners, Country Financial, Nationwide, Geico, American Family, Allstate, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual & Safeco in their Top 11.
SIA represents 6 of the top 11 carriers: Auto-Owners, Nationwide, Allstate, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual & Safeco.
Q: What in the world does “bundling” mean?
A: Bundling is combining multiple policies with the same company- such as having your home, auto, & business insurance with the same carrier.
Q: What’s the best way to save money on car insurance?
A: Shopping around and looking for various discounts (bundling, mature driver, good student, alumni discounts). Having an independent agent allows you to shop around multiple companies without having to do it yourself.
Q: What state would my coverage need to be through if I live in West Virginia but have an Ohio drivers license?
A: Your insurance would be purchased in the state that your vehicle is “garaged”- West Virginia in this case.
Q: When do I have to add my teenage driver to my insurance?
A: When your teenager actually passes the exam and is given a valid drivers license.
Q: What’s the cheapest route to add a teen driver- on his or her parent’s policy or on a separate policy?
A: Most of the time it is cheaper to add a teen driver to the parents policy.
Q: How much will my auto insurance increase after an at-fault accident in Ohio?
A: Ohio drivers can expect an average increase of $763 annually after an at-fault accident & $912 if the accident included bodily injury damages according to CarInsurance.com
Q: How much will my auto insurance increase after a speeding ticket?
A: You can expect an increase of $100-$150 a year according to NerdWallet
Q: Your friend borrows your car and crashed it, whose insurance will pay?
A: Your insurance will pay for any damage to your own vehicle (assuming you have physical damage coverage). However, your friend’s insurance may pay any liability damage to others as many Ohio insurance carriers are starting to follow the driver for liability coverage.
If there’s a question we haven’t covered or you’re looking to shop around call Saunders Insurance Agency at 740-446-0404.
Avoiding Distractions While Driving Could Save Your Life
Posted on March 6, 2017
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that distracted driving is attributing to a rise in auto accidents and is pushing auto insurance rates higher. The number of deadly accidents jumped 7.2% in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A recent report from the nonprofit National Safety Council showed an estimated 6% rise for 2016.
Distracted drivers in come in all shapes, sizes, ages and experience levels. Even if you’re not one today, you could become one at any moment — in the time it takes you to answer your cell phone or check the kids in the back seat when you’re driving through your Gallia County neighborhood.
If you or someone else you know thinks you can drive just fine while talking on your phone, think about this: More than 450,000 people were injured in crashes that reportedly involved distracted driving in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 5,000 of those people died.
Distractions on the road come in many forms, according to www.distraction.gov, a U.S. Department of Transportation website. There are three main kinds of distractions:
Visual – taking your eyes off the road
Manual –taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing
To help you avoid all three kinds of distractions the next time you’re behind the wheel of your car here are a few tips:
- Put your phone in silent mode and store it away from the front seat or in a purse or bag. This helps reduce temptation.
- Have a passenger answer your phone or return text messages for you.
- If a call or a text can’t wait, pull over in a safe spot before using your phone.
- This one seems obvious, but finish shaving or applying makeup before you get in the car!
- If you’re emotional, wait until you’ve calmed down before hitting the road.
- Avoid road rage. You’ll be happier and safer.
Whenever you’re on the road, it’s not a time to multi-task. Focus on driving safely.
Prevent Christmas Tree Fires
Posted on December 14, 2016
5 TIPS TO HELP PREVENT CHRISTMAS TREE FIRES
Christmas trees are a beloved holiday tradition in Ohio and West Virginia but they can pose a fire risk. On average, says the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the country respond to more than 200 blazes related to holiday trees each year
Despite how much we here at Saunders Insurance Agency support our local firefighting heroes, we hope they won’t have a reason to show up at your doorstep this holiday season. So, here are our common-sense suggestions for enjoying a Christmas tree safely:
- If you opt for an artificial tree, be sure it has a flame retardant label or certification. If you’re picking out a live tree, forgo the one with brownish needles that are falling out – it’s too dry. Instead choose one with fresh, green needles that don’t fall out even when you shake the limb.
- Place your live tree in water as soon as possible, using about a quart of water per each inch of stem diameter. Before you do, however, make a fresh cut from the stem bottom – straight across – to help the tree get water. Replenish the water regularly.
- Situate the tree so you can still access the exits in the room, and keep it at least 3 feet away from open flames or heat sources, such as your fireplace or radiator.
- Now it’s time for the best part – trimming the tree. Choose lights and other decorations labeled as flame retardant, and make sure your lights don’t have frayed or worn wires. Leaving the house or going to sleep? Be sure to unplug those lights.
- It’s always a chore – and somewhat of a bummer – to take down the tree each year, but do so sooner rather than later, especially with a live tree. Otherwise you prolong your risk of a fire. Check for tree recycling options in your area for responsible disposal.
No matter if you trim your tree with popcorn or with heirloom ornaments, we hope it brings the magic of the season alive for you and your loved ones this year. Happy holidays from all of us at Saunders Insurance Agency
What Happens to Obamacare under President Trump
Posted on November 14, 2016
President-Elect Donald Trump has pledged to dismantle the Affordable Care Act- better known as Obamacare- by repealing and replacing the law. Here’s what dismantling Obamacare could actually look like- according Mr Trump’s Healthcare Reform Paper released during the campaign and subsequent comments post-election.
REPEAL: This is the single most talked about and debated feature of the President-Elect’s plan. However, it would be extremely unpopular to take away subsidies allowing millions of Americans to purchase coverage through the exchanges and state Medicaid programs. Given the unprecedented act of rolling back such a large public benefit, the GOP and Mr Trump will need to ensure replacement plans go hand in hand with any repeal. In fact, Mr Trump’s Healthcare Reform White Paper highlights the need to eliminate the individual mandate under the “completely repeal Obamacare” bullet. It’s much more likely that President-Elect Trump will choose to keep some popular aspects of Obamacare – such as the insurer ban on excluding coverage for preexisting conditions and the ability to keep children on their parents’ plan up to age 26. The actual dismantling will more likely be a step by step repeal of unpopular portions such as the individual mandate fine, medical loss ratio, & Medicare payroll tax.
HIGH RISK POOLS: Trump has also proposed High Risk Pools for uninsurable individuals to help offset the repeal of the individual mandate. High Risk Pools act as plans for people with pre-existing conditions and were used by many states before the Affordable Care Act was passed.
ERASING STATE LINES: President-Elect Trump has vowed to remove the constraint that forces health insurers to offer coverage on a state by state basis. In his HC Reform Whitepaper, Mr Trump states that he will “Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up”
TAX RELIEF: President Obama uses the IRS to qualify individuals and families for tax subsidies that offset the high cost of coverage. President-Elect Trump proposes to “Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system. Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions? As we allow the free market to provide insurance coverage opportunities to companies and individuals, we must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance. We must review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to ensure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.”
HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS: Under Obamacare, many carriers are offering Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) as alternative plans to offset premium increases. President-Elect Trump proposes to continue the HSA proliferation by allowing “Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate. These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty. These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty. ”
COST TRANSPARENCY: President-Elect Trump also plans to laser in on high healthcare costs that drive insurance premiums upward. Trump vows to ” Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.”
MEDICAID: President-Elect Trump wants to return the administration of Medicaid over to the states. Trump proposes to “Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.”
CHEAPER DRUGS: President-Elect Trump also proposes to “Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers”
FiveThirtyEight also has a useful article on What Will Trump Do To Obamacare?
Back to School Safety
Posted on August 23, 2016
AS KIDS HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL, LET’S KEEP THEM SAFE
The end of summer means many things, such as cooler weather, shorter days and … the start of football here in Ohio and West Virginia.
But most important, it means kids are headed back to school. And that means we all should be extra careful on the roads, in school zones and around buses in Gallia, Meigs, Athens, Jackson and Mason Counties. Remember to watch for bikes, too! Here are some tips for both parents and kids to make sure everyone stays safe.
Use caution on the roads
- There are going to be a lot more kids on the sidewalks and streets when school starts, so take it slow and always be aware of your surroundings. That’s good advice for all situations, of course, but be extra cautious around the times when school starts and ends for the day.
- Watch out for school zones! They’re usually easy to spot, as many have flashing signs indicating a slower speed limit.
- Remember to follow school-bus rules. You aren’t allowed to pass the bus on either side of the road when the red lights are flashing. Even when the lights stop, make sure the coast is clear before moving on. Kids can move quickly and erratically.
- Leave yourself extra time to make it to your destination. Whether you’re headed to work or dropping your child off at school, rushing is a recipe for disaster.
- Be especially careful in school or child-care parking lots and loading zones!
Teach kids to be safe while walking
Just a few minutes spent explaining some basic safety rules to your child can help keep them safe when they’re walking to or from school. Young children should never cross streets alone, but if your child is old enough to walk with others, remind them to do the following:
- Always use marked crosswalks when crossing streets and look both ways twice.
- Do not assume that drivers can see you. Try to make eye contact with them, if possible, when crossing the street.
- Watch for driveways when walking on the sidewalk.
- Be aware of cars that are turning or backing up.
- Never move into the street from behind a car or other obstacle. Don’t chase a ball, pet or anything else into the street.
- Always use sidewalks and paths. If there is no sidewalk or path, walk facing traffic and as far to the left as possible.
Help them stay safe on their bikes
Just as it’s important to help your children learn safety tips for walking to and from school, it’s important to teach bike safety, especially by setting good examples yourself.
- Make sure your child wears a properly fitted helmet every time he or she rides a bike.
- Before the bicycle is ridden, do a quick inspection to ensure it is working properly and reflectors are in place.
- Show your kids how to ride on the right side of the road with traffic and to stay as far to the right as possible.
- Encourage your child to walk his or her bike across busy intersections. Or better yet, choose a route without any busy crossroads.
- Explain to your child why no one should ride on the handlebars.
- Demonstrate the rules of the road by using proper hand signals and obeying traffic signs when you ride bikes together with your child.
- Set curfews so your child is not riding a bicycle at dusk or in the dark.
- Most importantly, supervise your children every time they ride until you are certain they have good judgment.
We know you’re probably familiar with all of these good ideas, but everyone needs reminders. So take it slow, and let’s have a happy and safe school year!
Insurance Tips for Graduates
Posted on May 20, 2016
PROTECT YOUR COLLEGE GRAD WITH THE RIGHT INSURANCE
College graduation is an exciting time for students and their parents alike. And, while it’s easy to be immersed in grad parties and focused on first-job jitters- it’s a time of major transitions and big decisions. It’s essential to prepare graduates for what comes next.
One area new college graduates need to address is insurance. As insurance professionals at Saunders Insurance Agency, we know insurance can be a confusing topic. We also know seemingly small missed details can lead to very large losses. At SIA, we want to ensure your college graduate is protected before heading out into the real world- so we’ve compiled the following pointers:
- Review your family’s current insurance. The first step when considering insurance for your new graduate is evaluating the coverage you currently have. Make an appointment with your agent for advise on the pending changes and ensure your recently graduated son or daughter will be covered.
- Know the law. Ohio and West Virginia require drivers to have auto insurance, and each have have separate minimum policy limit requirements. If your graduate is moving to a new state- research the law in your son or daughter’s state, or consult with your agent, to make sure they are covered adequately.
- Read your lease. Many apartment, condominium and home rental properties require tenants to maintain a certain level of renter’s insurance, which covers the contents of the home in the event of a robbery, fire, or other loss. Make sure you know the terms of your son or daughter’s new lease, and insure them accordingly.
- Don’t end up liable. Any home renter or owner is exposed to liability risk. To ensure there is adequate coverage in the event someone gets injured on your son or daughter’s property, speak with your agent about liability insurance.
- Don’t gamble! Never go without. It’s simple: your son or daughter should always have insurance in place. Be sure to discuss with your agent what types they need.
- Know your company benefits. Many college graduates move straight into the workforce, and most companies have benefits. Study the company’s human resources handbook to learn what benefits are available, when they go into effect, and what their limitations are.
Saunders Insurance Agency would like to congratulate you, your daughter, or your son on your graduation success!!! Please contact us at 740-446-0404 with any questions, or to request a review of your family’s insurance portfolio.
A Time to Celebrate Mothers
Posted on May 5, 2016
As the second Sunday of May nears, it’s time to think of ways to celebrate mothers – although, of course, that’s a worthy pursuit at any time of year!
At Saunders Insurance Agency we thought it would be fun to give you a little of the history behind Mother’s Day, as well as a few ideas to honor the special women in all our lives.
According to MothersDayCentral.com, the ancient Egyptians held an annual festival to honor “the mother of the pharaohs” – the goddess Isis. This is one of the earliest historical records of a society celebrating a mother.
How Mother’s Day came to be in the U.S.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, a social activist and poet (and author of the lyrics for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) had became distraught by the toll of the Civil War. She issued a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” that year, calling on mothers to protest the killing and create a day celebrating peace and motherhood.
Howe’s proclamation did not result in a national Mother’s Day, but in 1908, Anna Jarvis of West Virginia took up the cause. She wanted to accomplish her mother’s dream of making a celebration of all mothers. By 1909, more than 40 states were holding Mother’s Day services, even though it was not a national holiday.
In 1912, according to Wikipedia, West Virginia was the first state to officially observe Mother’s Day. Jarvis continued to promote the day until President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday in 1914.
She later regretted creating the holiday, believing that it had become too commercialized.
Enough with the history – where are the gift ideas?
Like us at Saunders Insurance Agency we know you might have more urgent concerns on your mind, like last-minute shopping, so here are the most popular Mother’s Day gifts, according to MothersDayCentral.com
- Gift baskets
- Personalized gifts
- Spa gifts
Of course, perhaps the best gift of all is getting in touch and letting the moms in your life know just how much they mean to you. Happy Mother’s Day!
Taxes & Identity Theft: 4 Things to Know
Posted on April 6, 2016
4 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT TAXES & IDENTITY THEFT
In 2014, almost 18 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity theft. Two-thirds of them said they suffered a direct financial loss because of it, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
During tax season, your personal information is particularly vulnerable. After all, your Social Security number (SSN) is on W-2 forms, your tax return and other financial documents being sent through the mail, transported to accountants and otherwise used to complete your annual IRS ritual. So it’s a good time of the year to be especially vigilant.
To help, here are four things you should know about identity theft- from what thieves can do to how you can help protect yourself- from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Trade Commission:
- Thieves won’t just open new accounts — they can (and will) file “your” taxes. Someone with access to your data could file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund under your name. You may not know until you go to file your own return and it comes back rejected. If it happens, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
- Scammers will try to reel you in. Ever get a call or email from someone asking you to verify your account information or SSN? Legitimate organizations, especially the IRS, won’t do that. If there’s a problem with your tax return, the IRS will contact you by mail.
- Technology can help. If you send tax forms or other sensitive documents via email, password-protect them. Furthermore, security software can help keep your data safe, and password generators will help ensure your various login credentials aren’t easy for a thief to figure out. As for analog documents, such as tax records, store them in a locked desk or filing cabinet and don’t send them through the mail unless it’s certified.
- Reporting the crime is a must. Ninety percent of identity-theft victims don’t alert the police, says BJS. But you should. A police report can help prove to financial institutions and businesses that someone stole your identity. It also allows you to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report, get inaccurate information removed, stop debt collectors from reporting fraudulent accounts and more. Because once criminals have your information, they may use it to perpetuate many types of fraud.
Protecting your identity is, of course, something to be mindful of all year round – not just during tax season. For more tips, visit IdentityTheft.gov. And, to discuss adding identity protection coverage to your home insurance policy, contact us at Saunders Insurance Agency today. Most companies offer Identity Theft Recovery home endorsements which offer coverage for expenses related to identity recovery. Identity recovery expenses vary by company but most offer between $10,000 to $25,000 with sub-limits for lost wages and case management services. Call a Saunders Insurance Agency representative at 740-446-0404 for more information on what adding identity recovery coverage to your home insurance can do for you.
Gun Safety & Coverage
Posted on February 17, 2016
5 QUESTIONS TO ASK IF YOU KEEP GUNS IN YOUR HOME
There are an estimated 300 million firearms in U.S. homes. And, with a lot of guns comes the potential for a lot of gun-related accidents. So, ask yourself these questions to help prevent your household in Gallia County or Southeast Ohio from experiencing one.
- How secure are my guns? Nobody — especially kids — should be able to access your firearms without your permission or knowledge. Keep them in a gun safe or locked cabinet, and consider a gun-locking device as a second layer of security.
- Are my firearms loaded? Whenever they aren’t in use, keep guns unloaded. And, every time you access a gun, check again that it isn’t loaded.
- Where’s the ammo? Keeping ammunition separate from firearms, in a locked location, is yet another layer of security.
- How much does my family know? Everyone should be aware that you keep guns in your house. And, remind kids regularly not to touch any firearms, anywhere – even if they find one in someone else’s home.
- What does my insurance cover? Homeowners policies may cover accidental and negligent acts, but typically not intentional ones, which means you might not have liability protection even if you take action in self-defense. We can advise you on whether an umbrella policy is appropriate and also make sure all of your guns are covered. Many policies have limits on property coverage for firearms. Give us a call to learn more.
Keeping firearms in your home is a personal choice. And, if it’s one you make, be sure you do so safely. Because we here at Saunders Insurance Agency care about your family and our community- and we know you do too.
INSURING YOUR GUNS
Whether you rent or own, you likely have some personal property coverage for your guns under your renters policy or homeowners policy. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies contain a $1,000-$5,000 sub-limit for gun theft. If you own guns that are valued over this sub-limit it’s best to schedule your guns onto your insurance separately to ensure they are covered for their full value.
Have questions regarding your gun coverage? Call our office at 740-446-0404 or send us an email at Scott.Saunders@SaundersIns.com to ensure your guns are protected for their full value.