Monthly Archives: March 2010

Avoiding the insurance scam, Part IRe: Avoiding the insurance scam, Part I

It seems as though now, more than ever, the barrage of insurance solicitation on primetime and online is constant. The promise of lower premiums for more coverage may be tempting, but the validity of these company’s claims must be considered. In insurance scams, truth is relative. It can be, and is, manipulated to suit the company’s purpose—profit. There are tools the smart consumer can use, however, to spot and avoid the insurance scam:

 

  • Beware the unsolicited insurance offer. Unless you requested the information, anything received by e-mail, snail mail, or fax should be regarded with caution. Internet-based insurance companies should also be skeptically treated. If full contact and location information aren’t provided, a toll-free number being the only point of contact, this is a huge red flag.

 

  • Pay attention to the literature. If you didn’t always in Freshman English, now is the time. Painfully obvious as it sounds, if the word “insurance” isn’t used in company or policy information, steer clear. Phony providers can conveniently use different terminology to avoid fulfilling their obligations.

 

  • Don’t be pressured by pushy salesmen. A company that makes you uncomfortable or annoyed is not one to do business with. Indications of a fake provider can include a lack of written materials to review before purchasing insurance, or offers that end soon, forcing you to buy before they expire. Legitimate insurance companies don’t have any such tricks.

 

  • Listen to your instincts. Avoid like the plague anything that feels too good to be true. Some scams are harder to spot than others, but there is usually some indication no matter how slick the operation. To be certain whether the insurance provider is genuine, contact the Commissioner of Insurance Office for your state and inquire if they have a license. No license is highly suspicious.

 

The world of insurance can be tricky to navigate, but to get a quote from an agency without a sales pitch or gimmicks, contact Homer Smith Insurance. Visit our website, e-mail us, or call directly at 888-433-0031. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona. We are dedicated to helping you find the insurance you need.

 

Be sure to visit our blog for more scam-spotting tips.

 

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

An easy way to insure your Home Business in Seattle-Tacoma

In the last few years, more and more people have started a business in their home. To keep up with this trend, Safeco now offers coverage tailored to meet these specific needs, the Home Business Package. This new policy covers both business personal property and business merchandise. In addition, coverage is extended to detached structures on the residence’s premises used for a home-based business. On-premises liability coverage is also provided at the liability limit of the residence premises.  If the home’s liability is $300,000, the same amount applies to the home business.

 

If you are running a business out of your house and are currently paying costly premiums for two separate insurance policies, give us a call. We will help you find out if this convenient package meets your unique needs and saves you money. 

 

Visit our website, send us an e-mail, or give us a call at 888-433-0031 to receive a free quote or review of your coverage. Homer Smith Insurance is an independent insurance agency serving Washington, but we are also licensed for Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.

 

Petra Crosier, Homer Smith Insurance

Rewards for your customers and yourself




“Do you belong to our rewards program?”


 

It’s a question heard with ever increasing  frequency when shopping. Big and small, businesses are implementing savings programs to reward loyal customers. The pitch of why the memberships are so beneficial can get old (especially from over-zealous but well-meaning sales clerks), but for the places we frequent most, they can save us money.

 

For women, salons are much-used establishments. While a rewards program may not seem likely for a salon, business-savvy owners are beginning to offer their clients club memberships. These memberships offer customers special services and discounts in return for a modest annual fee. Nothing ridiculous or unreasonable, of course, but just enough to entice clients to join and earn the salon a little extra revenue. For members, service discounts can be available from manicures to haircuts. Some salons use cards that track the number of haircuts clients have had. After a certain number of cuts, the next is free. Priority appointment scheduling can also be an added perk, as well as special retail sales and pricing for birthdays and special occasions. It’s an excellent way to retain clientele and even cultivate new business. If your customers feel specially treated, why would they go elsewhere?

 

For a free Washington state salon insurance quote, or a review of current coverage, contact Homer Smith Insurance today. Visit our website or call directly at 888-433-0031. By packaging your coverage, let us help you get the rewards you deserve. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in, and serve, the beauty salon insurance needs of Washington state.

 

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Going green doesn’t have to break the bank

With the Hummer’s recent demise, the era of the gas-guzzler seems officially over, the auto industry in the grip of a revolution. Escalating gas prices and a growing desire to go green have contributed to the American populus’s want for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Though high sticker prices are often synonymous with hybrids, there are affordable hybrid and non-hybrid models on the market. And with better mileage than the majority of their competition, they’re solid contenders in the fuel-efficiency movement. Each of these models get at least 24 MPG and won’t force you to take out a second mortgage. That’s something both the environment and our wallets can celebrate.


Ford Fusion Hybrid, $27,950

Ford’s answer to the fuel-sipping Prius, the Fusion Hybrid offers fantastic MPG—41 city and 36 highway—and boasts smart safety and fuel economy technology. The Fusion shifts from gas power to electric and back with minimum effort (running up to 47 MPH in electric mode alone) and is equipped with Ford’s SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide. This system helps drivers achieve their hybrid’s peak fuel efficiency. The Fusion can go 700 miles on one fill-up. That’s about one pump stop per month for the average commuter, a chore most wouldn’t soon miss. Unless you enjoy the smell of unleaded gasoline in the morning.


Mercury Mariner Hybrid,
$31,570

Sport utility fans, rejoice!  Fuel efficiency and SUV are no longer inherent contradictions. Having the cleanest emissions rating possible for a fossil-fuel vehicle (from California’s Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle rating), the Mercury Mariner Hybrid gets a combined 32 MPG, 34 city and 31 highway. New and improved features for the 2010 model include a rear view camera and Active Park Assist, both excellent allies in the fight to parallel park. Parents with teenagers will enjoy the MyKey feature that enables limits to be placed on both vehicle speed and audio system volume.


Ford Focus, $16,690

Though the Focus doesn’t get quite the mileage its hybrid cousin enjoys, 24 MPG city and 35 MPG highway is nothing to scoff at. It’s a comfortable ride for four and has the cargo space necessary for a road trip. Maybe not from Washington to New York, but definitely Seattle to Yellowstone. The Focus is also safer than ever with added safety features now standard on all models, including AdvanceTrac® electronic stability control (ESC) and anti-lock brakes.


Chevrolet Cobalt, $14,990

This stylish Chevy is a compact car that is actually fun to drive. Its strong fuel-efficiency of 25 MPG city and 37 MPG highway ensures fewer visits to the gas station and more time on the open road. For drivers wanting a smooth ride without the sacrificial arm and leg, the Cobalt is a great option. One of the best stereo systems in its price range doesn’t hurt, either. Who said fuel-efficiency had to be boring?

For a free car insurance quote, or a review of your current coverage, visit our website or call Homer Smith Insurance directly at 888-433-0031. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Keeping track of your belongings

Would you be able to provide your insurance agent with a list of your possessions if a fire destroyed your home or you had a break-in? Some people are well organized and maintain an ongoing inventory in a safe place, always updating it after large purchases. Most people though, like me, would have to start from scratch. They would probably spend a lot of time trying to find old receipts in order to remember where they bought what and when.

 

But luckily, there is a solution to this dilemma. A friend recently told me about a website, http://www.iii.org/software, where you can keep a list of your household possessions and update it at your leisure. It takes a little time to do the initial input, but once that’s done, you simply add new items as you see fit, something you can do anywhere, anytime. And, in case of a claim, you have your list ready.

 

Of course, we hope you won’t need this list anytime soon, but it’s better to prepare it now than wish you had later.

 

If you have questions about your homeowners or renters insurance in the Seattle or Tacoma area, please don’t hesitate to visit our website, send us an e-mail, or give us a call at 888-433-0031. We offer free quotes or a review of your current coverage. Homer Smith Insurance is an independent insurance agency serving Washington, but we are also licensed for Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

 

Petra Crosier, Homer Smith Insurance

Are your tires prepared for snow?

You are probably prepared for any winter weather, but what about your car? How are those tires doing? Do you remember how long ago you got them? A good friend of mine keeps telling me how important it is to regularly check the tires and make sure they are in good condition, especially at this time of year. Here are two simple tests he told me to perform:

 

1.       The Penny Test

To test if the tread is worn out, place a penny into the most shallow tread groove with Lincoln’s head down. If the top of his head remains visible, the tire should be replaced.

 

2.       Look for Wear Bars

Wear bars are narrow bands that appear in the grooves across the tread of the tire. When the wear bars are even with the tread depth, only 2/32-inch of tread remains. If you can see the wear bars, it’s time to replace the tire.

 

Other people say you shouldn’t put more than 30,000 or 50,000 miles maximum on one set of tires. In any case, check your tires regularly and make sure they are fit for the winter. After all, it’s for your own safety.

 

If you have any questions about auto insurance in the Seattle or Tacoma area, please don’t hesitate to visit our website, send us an e-mail or give us a call us at 888-433-0031. We offer free quotes or a review of your current coverage. Homer Smith Insurance is an independent insurance agency serving Washington, but we are also licensed for Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

 

Petra Crosier, Homer Smith Insurance

Beauticians – a rewarding job with lots of flexibility

In recent years, salons have started to rent more and more chairs or booths instead of hiring employees. This is a great working model for many salons; it allows both parties a lot of flexibility. But it’s very important to set this system up right. If you are a stylist considering renting a chair in a salon, you should remember to pay attention to several details:

-      Insist in getting a written contract from the salon owner, specifying each party’s rights and responsibilities in detail. Even if you are good friends, if something goes south, you will be happy to have a signed agreement. If the salon owner doesn’t have an agreement form, you can purchase one online: salonboothrentaltoolkit.com. An attorney can also double-check a contract that has been drafted by the salon owner.

-      Get your own professional liability insurance. The salon owner provides liability coverage for the salon, but since you are an independent contractor, you need to make certain you are protected if you get sued by a client that suffered a rash or burn from chemicals you used for a treatment.

-      Some states require that hair-dressers, nail technicians, beauticians, and barbers provide proof of insurance to get their license. In Washington, for example, it is mandatory to purchase a liability policy with a minimum $100,000 limit. Some states don’t regulate insurance, however, if you are responsible for an injury, the courts will hold you financially liable. This insurance policy is not expensive.  Generally, an annual premium runs less than two hundred dollars.

Renting a chair in an established salon is like being your own boss, but without having to invest a lot of money to open your own shop. You decide how much you work and when. You may also be able to save money on advertising and marketing if you work out a deal with the salon owner and fellow chair-renting beauticians to collaborate on these efforts.

If you think this would be something for you, we can help with all your insurance needs. To receive a free quote for your professional liability policy, e-mail or call Homer Smith Insurance directly at 888-433-0031. We are dedicated to helping you get the coverage you need. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in, and serve, Washington state.

Petra Crosier, Homer Smith Insurance