Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Gift Your Children Will Treasure

Health
Insurance
is very important and it has been in the news a lot
lately. It’s great to know that if something goes wrong, your health
insurance will help cover you but the great part about Health
Insurance is that the regular physicals it helps cover help you stay
healthy. It feels good to be healthy.


There
are thousands if not millions of websites and articles dedicated to
healthy living. You can access those easily with a quick Google
search, but there may be someone in your life who can’t yet read the
words on the computer screen. You can give your child the gift of
healthy living without spending any extra money. I was very happy to
see that there are sites dedicated to healthy living for kids.
Websites such as kidshealth.org, detail activities, foods, and tips
for a lifestyle that could encourage your child to be fit and happy.
Your whole family can enjoy being fit together. Not only to do I
still love to play Frisbee, but I have many fond memories of my
father teaching me how to throw a Frisbee.


Homer
Smith Insurance is located in Washington
State
on the Olympic Peninsula, which means that we are lucky
enough to have a host of unique activities that many of the “healthy
kids” websites don’t enumerate. With that in mind, I tried to
compile a list activity or nutritious ideas catered to
Washingtonians:


1. We
live near many organic farmers. For a while I lived so close to an
organic farmer that I could bike there to pick up in season fruits
and vegetables.


2.
Kayak surfing is exciting, unique, and great for the cold waters of
the Olympic Peninsula.


3.
There are many U-pick farms, such as Graysmarsh in Sequim. Take your
relatives from New York City berry picking and watch how entertained
their children will be.


4.
There are many beautiful hiking trails all over the Olympic National
Park.


5.
Stand up paddling is an interesting combination of surfing and
kayaking. There are photographs of people doing yoga on stand up
paddle boats.

The Language of Insurance


Learning
a foreign language can be extraordinarily frustrating. We often don’t
realize how difficult our own language is until we learn another
language or try to explain the inconsistencies to someone of a
different linguistic background. Once we have a command of a language
the peculiarities in its lexicons and grammar can become entertaining
instead of exasperating. On the Oxford Dictionaries website you can
find a chart of commonly confused words, which are useful for even
native English speakers. I had not considered the difference in
spelling and meaning between baited and bated before reading this
chart.

Let
us return to our dialect in the English language: Insurance.
The following are explanations of terms you may want to better
understand.


When
reading over an insurance policy or listening to an insurer explain
the policy, pay close attention to “exclusions.” An exclusion in
an
insurance policy
is an event that will not be covered by the policy. In a previous
blog I mentioned the exclusion of normal wear and tear in an
Automobile Insurance policy.


The
insurance policies that cover you and your family are known as
personal lines. For most people, personal lines are the only
insurance policies that they have to consider.

In
an email from word of the day by Merriam-Webster, I learned that
“bildungsroman” is “a novel about the moral and psychological
growth of the main character.” I recommend word of the day to
anyone who loves to learn about the English language.



Sources:

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/personal-lines.html

Automobile Insurance

Your Automobile policies are intended
to protect you in the event of a catastrophes, “collision and
comprehensive,” such as theft or collision. (Zevnik)


I once embarrassed myself in
Massachusetts when a friend suggested we go to Maine for a festival
that day. I looked at them and said, “Another state! That will take
all day.” They laughed and explained to me that it would take about
three hours to drive there. Recently, I have heard people from the
Northeastern States make similar erroneous distance estimates, such
as thinking Forks, Washington is only a couple hours away from
Portland, Oregon. In Washington State, many of us have to drive long
distances to leave the state or even to get to another town, unlike
our Manhattan counterparts. Like any tool, a vehicle gets worn with
use. Auto Insurance policies do not cover this regular wear and
tear on a vehicle. So, it is important to keep your car in good
condition.


What can you do to protect your vehicle
from wear and tear?


There are many things that you probably
already do to prevent the effects of wear on your car such as regular
oil changes and maintenance. It is a good idea to make sure your
paint is in good condition. You may not have noticed a large scrape
under your bumper but rust will. I found an article on cars.com,
“Best Ways to Keep Your Car Running,” that anyone who owns an
automobile will want
to read. The article suggests a few tips that I had not considered
before, some examples include, avoiding short drives and washing your
car frequently in snowy weather.


At Homer
Smith Insurance
we are always happy to answer any questions or
concerns you may have about what is covered by your Automobile
Insurance.


Sources:
Zevnik,
Richard.
The
Complete Book of Insurance: Understand The Coverage You Really Need
.
Naperville: Sphinx Publishing, 2004. Print.

Why Insurance?

According to an editorial in the New York Times Opinion Pages yesterday,  “Nearly one million more Americans went without health insurance in 2010 than in 2009.” Forms of insurance have been around for centuries for a reason: catastrophes can happen to anyone.  Besides protection against various unforeseen problems and events, what does insurance do for you?

Health Insurance helps you pay for more than just unforeseen emergencies.  Your regular physical may be covered as well as co-pay for prescription medications. Some Health Insurance policies help pay for forms of birth control and preventative care as well.  In up coming years more preventative care may be covered by Health Insurance.

Your Homeowners Insurance policy may protect against damage that could make it difficult to sell your home, such as vandalism. Renters Insurance may protect valuables that you take with you on vacation.

In many cases, insurance is a requirement. You are probably familiar with mandatory Automobile Insurance. Depending on your location and career, Renters Insurance and Business Insurance may be requirements for you as well.


Sources:
“Bleak News on Health Insurance.” The New York Times: Opinion Pages. The New York Times, 14 Sept. 2011. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/opinion/bleak-news-on-health-insurance.html>.

Easey, Cameron. “Why Is Insurance Important?.” EHow Money. EHow, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2011. <http://www.ehow.com/about_6171187_insurance-important_.html>.

Charities, Non-profits, and Benefits Oh My

I recently wrote a blog about Washington State Non-profit Insurance. In it I mentioned a website that grades charities, American Institute of Philanthropy, so that you can better select to whom to give your time or money. I’d like to expand on the idea of donating to charities.

Don’t have all the money or time, but still want to help?

We want to be good Samaritans, so when an organization asks us to support them for a good cause, many of us quickly pull out our check books. In an article I read on CNN Money I was surprised to learn that this is not always the best thing we can do for these organizations. According to CNN Money, “Trent Stamp…suggests starting with an 80-20 split” of the money you set aside to donate to causes. He suggests that you give 80 percent of your money to one or two organizations because these non-profits spend money to raise money, so a larger donation from fewer people will benefit the organization. The other 20 percent of your money can go to any community events or “spontaneous donations.”

How do you select to which non-profit to donate?

Ehow has an excellent article about how to select charities. One suggestion they made that had not occurred to me was to google the organization in which you are interested, not just to visit the webpage, but to check for news articles and reviews of the charity. You may find information that makes you want to support the charity more and you may find information that warns you not to donate your money.

Whether you are volunteering at the local food bank, walking (or running: good for you!) a 10K, or donating to your favorite charity you are supporting your community and making the world a better place. We at Homer Smith Insurance thank you!

Sources:
Chatzky, Jean. “Give to Charity but Don’t go Broke Doing it.” CNN Money. CNN, 1 Aug. 2006. Web. 16 Sept. 2011.

Non-profit Insurance

Many
non-profit organizations offer wonderful support for a multitude of
issues in our society. In order for non-profit organizations to
function they have to ask for money and volunteers, which becomes a
moral struggle for both the non-profit and the community members it
contacts. The sad truth is that there is no way to say yes to all of
these solicitations, as much as we want to help. I recently came
across the website for The American Institute of Philanthropy, which
offers an evaluation of “over five-hundred” non-profit
organizations
, so you can decide, to which charity you want to
donate your time and or money.

What
is Nonprofit Insurance?

Are
you a member of a non-profit organization? Non-profit Insurance is a
type of business insurance.  Nonprofit Insurance policies
provide “
tax
savings [that the non-profit organizations] can pass along to their
members in the form of reduced premiums on their insurance”
(Longley, Robert)  
At
Homer Smith Insurance we offer guidance for Washington
State non-profits’ insurance
needs. It is important to check on
consumer protection for non-profits in our state because regulations
may be different for charity organizations.


Sources:
Longley,
Robert. “What are Nonprofit Health Insurance Cooperatives?.”
About.com:
US Government Info.
.
About.com, Web. 14 Sept. 2011
.

Insurance Terms

When discussing insurance you will hear words like catastrophe, accident, or natural disasters. It is difficult to listen to distressing what if scenarios, but of course it is these scenarios that make insurance important.  What are some things you want your insurance agent to say?

If your insurance agent says, “Standard Automobile,” they are identifying that you are a responsible driver (few traffic violations). This means that your Automobile Insurance will reflect your responsible driving and not be as high as someone with more accidents on their record.

If you are trying to claim your insurance and your insurer describes the reason for your claim as a “Qualifying Event” then you will be at least partially covered by your insurance.

If you were injured while on the job forcing you to leave your work you may still qualify for the insurance benefits you had on the job. Your insurer would call this, “Own-Occupation.”

Now you can look forward to hearing these terms in future discussions about your Washington State insurance policies.

Sources:
Investopedia Dictionary. Web. 13 Sept. 2011. <http://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/ownoccupation_policy.asp#axzz1Xru631BV>.

Glossary of Insurance Terms. A.M. Best. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.
<http://www.ambest.com/resource/glossary.html#S>.

Umbrella Insurance Part 2

When I was a kid there was a roller skating rink in town. The rink was the place where the cool kids held their birthday parties, so everyone wanted to their parents to rent the rink for a few hours.  Some parents were hesitant for various reasons. I now understand some of their trepidation. Thirty pre-teens, who are inexperienced skaters, sliding around a rink at break neck speeds is a out of many parent’s comfort zone. Also, to rent a property, a person is usually required to purchase a single day liability policy to cover injuries to persons and damage to property.

If you are a parent, who knows a responsible enough group of kids that you are willing to rent a space for their party, but won’t because you don’t want to pay for the insurance, there is a possibility that you won’t have to pay.  Do you have an umbrella insurance policy? If you do, it may cover the insurance for the rented space.  You may want to discuss whether your policy covers this type of rented property with your insurance agent as it may be possible to add to your current policy if it is not already covered.

Sources: Hungelmann, Jack. Insurance for Dummies. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing Inc., 2009. Print.

Under the Umbrella

It is unfortunate that car accidents are still one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia, 30,797 deaths in the United States were caused by crashes in 2009. This is down from previous years, but is still an upsetting large number.  Thousands more people are injured in accidents annually.

Do you know anyone who suffered injuries from an accident and was not completely covered by their insurance or the insurance of the person who caused the crash? Have you ever worried that in the event of a crash your medical bills or the bills of another person severely injured would not be covered? You are a responsible experienced driver, but the sad truth is that accidents do happen to good drivers: an icy road, a blind corner, a wild animal, and the list goes on.  What if catastrophe strikes and someone is injured and proceeds to sue you for more than your insurance policy covers? What can you do so that you will always be able to protect yourself financially?

An umbrella policy may be the solution to making sure your liability insurance will cover you as completely as possible. According to CNN money, “an umbrella [insurance] policy is extra liability insurance that protects you if you are sued.” Sounds expensive doesn’t it? Well, the good news is that an umbrella policy isn’t costly at all.

While automobile companies continue to improve the safety of their products, you can discuss options with your insurance agent. Then you can be assured that you will be financially covered for any situation.

Preventing Water Damage Continued

It will be autumn before we know it. Soon the vibrant shades of gold and mahogany on the deciduous trees will peak out of the sea of evergreens on our lovely Olympic Peninsula. Do you have any of these color changing trees in your yard? If so, you will want to make sure your rain gutters are clear of leaves. Clogged gutters are just one way your home may be at higher risk of water damage when the grey clouds return.

Water damage may not be high on your list of concerns as you rush out the door to catch your flight, but you probably take the time to make sure your faucet isn’t running before you leave the house, which is always a good policy. My last blog post focused on tips for preventing water damage from appliances inside your house. This post will cover prevention from water coming into your house from mother nature.

According to this article on The Restoration Resource page, landscaping can make a huge difference in the impact of water on your home. If you are not interested in paying for a landscaper and feel that your yard could use a tune up, ehow, not surprisingly, has a page dedicated to just this kind of landscaping.

Maintaining the seals around your windows and doors may seem expensive, but proper insulation will cut your heating bills and prevent leaking.  

Finally, check your roof regularly for problems. Since the roofs of our houses are not easy for us to see, it is important to remember that it needs to be monitored like the rest of the house.

Sometimes water damage can’t be prevented, so it is still a good idea to have Washington State Flood Insurance, which we can provide at Homer Smith Insurance.