When you're in the market for insurance, you can feel like a number lost in the shuffle of large corporate agencies. Here are some of the top reasons why you should be working with an independent insurance agency.
Hello, friends and family in North Charleston and beyond! We continue to appreciate your support of our company and our social media presence. We are very excited to start a brand new venture; blogging! That's right! Twice a month we will be giving you fun, informative, and interesting blogs to help guide and education you in the world of insurance. We know you love our company because of its individuality and the personal attention we give to our clients. Through these blogs, we hope you find even more reason to enjoy working with us, have fun learning, and feel free to ask any questions you would like in the comment section after every blog. We look forward to you joining us on this adventure! In this first blog, we are going to start with the basics, the top three reasons why you should be working with an independent insurance agent!
First off, if you're new to our company you might know the difference between an independent insurance agent compared to a captive or direct insurance agent. A direct insurance agent works for, represents, and can only offer policies from one insurance company. An independent provider, like our company, offers multiple plans through multiple insurance companies. The goal of a captive agent is to work for and benefit the insurance company. The goal of an independent agent is to work for the client and to find them the best plan available to them based on their personal and financial needs. This has been our goal since day one when we started in a spare bedroom right here in North Charleston way back in 2014.
#1. Better Customer Service
As we mentioned above, our job is to work with you to find the best insurance policy for your needs. We get to learn about you and your family, and you get to learn about us! We search through all the plans and providers out there to create a handpicked plan based on the time we take to get to know you. It goes beyond picking the perfect plan, too. Once we've found the best plan, we keep up with your needs as time goes on. We help you resolve your claims much faster, it can be in a matter of days compared to a large agency that could take weeks or months to resolve an issue. We make sure to answer all calls, questions, emails, and general inquiries in a very timely manner. We can keep that personal connection with our current and future clients. An independent agent also knows and understands your policies and can easily catch any mistakes made on a claim, or a mistake made by an adjuster to avoid denial of your claim. An independent agent can also directly explain any confusing or difficult language within a policy that might not make sense or that you might not understand right away.
#2. A Lifetime Partnership
Once you begin working with an independent insurance agency, you can have a partnership with them through all the stages of your life. They get to know you as they pick out your very first policy, so they understand when your coverage needs to be reviewed and possibly changed. Did you just buy your first home? Have your first child? Send your child to college? Get that big job? Retire? All of these new and exciting stages in your life will come with new challenges and will need new insurance policies to match. You won't need to shop around anymore, once you begin working with an independent agent, you just have to pick up the phone or pay a visit to the person you've been dealing with this whole time. This is such a rare and special quality. What also makes an independent agent so unique is that they are right here in your neighborhood and represent the same community you do. They understand your economy, what unique needs are needed for living in your area, and love living in your community just like you. They aren't just your insurance agent, they're your neighbors.
#3. Fighting For You
Like we've mentioned previously, independent agents work for you. They don't work for the big insurance companies. When things get difficult in a situation where your insurance is needed, they can become your advocates. If a claim needs to be adjusted, if a mistake has been made, or you've had a huge life change and you need to edit your policy, your independent agent can act as a buffer between you and your insurance company. They can help you fix any of these issues promptly. Also, they can become your personal advisers, helping you make some tough decisions. They can give you a few options based on their long term knowledge of working with you. Also, an independent agent is a one-stop-shop. You can get every kind of insurance you need at one time, and each will be handpicked and curated to your needs and budget.
Pretty spectacular reasons, right? These are just a few of the basic ideas about why we love doing what we do. We encourage you to read more into the other benefits of working with an independent agent. You will be blown away by the amount of information a basic google search will give you! If you have any more questions, please feel free to reach out at any time or put them in the comments below. We are excited to work with you and love being a part of the Summerville community!
Simple Steps for House Fire Prevention
Seventy-seven percent of all fire deaths in 2017 occurred in the home, according to the National Fire Protection Association. As the temperature drops and holidays draw closer, the use of indoor lights, candles, and fires increases. With the festive décor and traditional use of fire to create a warm and cozy home comes an increase of house fires.
Over 360,000 residential fires occurred in 2016, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, causing $7.7 billion in property loss. The main cause of house fires was cooking followed by heating. Keep your home safe this winter with a few simple winter house fire prevention steps then make sure you’re covered in case the worst happens.
1. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside of all sleeping areas. Check them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year, recommends the American Red Cross
2. Create a fire escape plan. Make sure each family member knows at least 2 ways to exit the house. Practice the plan with every member of your household at least twice a year.
3. Teach children basic fire-safety rules such as the stop-drop-roll technique and to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency. Teach them to not run from firefighters.
4. Cook wisely. Cooking is the main cause of house fires. Don’t leave the stove unattended while it’s being used. Remember to set timers to prevent food from overcooking and catching fire. Keep a pan lid or baking sheet ready. You can use it to cover a fire and extinguish it.
5. Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned before the first fire of the season.
6. Use space heaters wisely. Keep them away from flammable items like flimsy holiday décor, fabric, and furniture. Also, turn them off before leaving the room. Search for space heaters with an automatic-off function should the unit get too hot.
7. Be smart about candles. Candles are common during the holidays but can lead to house fires all too easily. From 2011-2015, an estimated 8,700 house fires were started by candles each year. Keep candles out of reach of children and pets. Set them on or in a non-flammable and stable container and surface. Remember to put the candle out before leaving the room.
8. Practice general fire-prevention steps. Keep flammable items at least three feet away from open flame and heaters. Keep fire extinguishers on hand in areas where a fire is most likely to occur (such as fireplaces and kitchens). Keep your fire detectors working properly.
Speak with one of our agents today to make sure you have the right coverage for your home. Homeowners insurance typically covers the cost of repair due to a house fire. Also, it may cover detached structures such as a garage or shed. Personal property lost during a house fire may be covered under homeowners insurance as well. Make an appointment today and get peace of mind that your home and valuables are protected. Follow the tips above to keep your family and guests safe this holiday season!
What Homeowners Need to Know About Burglary
While you prepare your home for Halloween and the upcoming holiday season, take a few minutes to evaluate your home security measures. By taking preventative measures now, you can save yourself time, frustration, money, and even injury or death, down the road.
A High Price to Pay
Nationwide, 7 million property crimes, which include burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson occurred in 2016, according to FBI estimates. While burglary accounted for just over 19% of all property crime in 2016, an estimated 1.5 million burglaries occurred with $3.6 billion in property loss prove burglary is no small matter. More than half of these offenses occurred on residential properties. In 2014, only 13.6% of burglaries resulted in arrests. You need to make sure your homeowner’s insurance covers break-ins to ensure your home and all that you keep in it stays protected.
Homeowner’s Insurance and Burglaries
Typically, homeowner’s insurance covers items stolen inside and outside of the home due to burglaries and theft. Dwelling coveragehelps to cover cost of repairs due to a break-in. Personal property coverage helps to cover the cost of personal belongings stolen or damaged. When reviewing your policy, you have to distinguish between Actual Cash Value (ACV) or Replacement Cost Value (RCV).
ACV will cover you for the amount your damaged or stolen items are currently worth. RCV reimburses you for the amount to replace the same item in the current market. “For example, if you bought your TV five years ago, its actual cash value may be $700 due to depreciation. However, you might need $1200 to buy a new TV with the same features in the present day,” according to ValuePenguin. Speaking with an insurance professional at Abri Insurance, you can decide which coverage fits your needs better.
Important Insurance Caveats
Homeowner’s insurance coverage doesn’t include car theft. However, it does typically cover personal belongings stolen inside and outside of your home. If you have items taken from you while you are outside of your home, your insurance can cover them. Also, if you have family members listed under your policy, their personal belongings are covered against theft as well, until they move into their own home.
Prevent Burglaries and Save Money
Take these simple steps to decrease your chances of a break-in. Make an inventory of valuables inside of your home, with receipts and proof of purchase if available. This will become an invaluable document if you have to make a claim with your insurance company. For your home, get started on these tasks right away:
Heart of the Matter: Prevent Heart Disease and Save Money
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. One in three deaths in the United States in 2014 were due to cardiovascular disease. With over 600,000 deaths in 2015, heart disease is a serious condition not only for the concern of yourself and those who care about you, but also for your financial future.
In 2011, heart disease cost the U.S. $215 billion according to the CDC. With an aging population, it’s predicted that direct medical costs associated with cardiovascular diseases are projected to rise to more than $818 billion by 2030.
In addition to medical expenses, the additional cost from loss of productivity from patients suffering with cardiovascular diseases increases to nearly $1billion per day.
Identity Theft Reality
We live in a digital world. We can order food and common household items from the comfort of our sofa with a few clicks of the mouse. We socialize and file our taxes online. We video chat and check our credit reports online. While these advances make life easier, they also present a platter of vulnerabilities. With the evolution of technology and the ever-present mixing of technology into our personal lives, you need to take steps to prevent identity theft now.
In 2017, there were over 16 million victims of identity fraud and a loss of $16.8 billion, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. These numbers shattered the previously record-breaking numbers of 2016.
The Federal Trade Commission’s(FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network reported a decrease in the number of complaints of identity theft and fraud in 2017, but a rise in the amount of money stolen.
Image source: Insurance Information Institute
How Victim’s Information is Misused
The largest misuse of victim’s information was for employment or tax-related fraud at 34 percent in 2016. Just under this figure is credit card fraud at 29.2 percent, according to complaint reports through the FTC. New account fraud was the third largest reported misuse of information.
“Insert your chip,” may be the latest method of credit card payment, and the latest deterrent for thieves. The use of chips on debit and credit cards has made it more difficult to counterfeit cards. Criminals have since found a better source for information – New Account Fraud.
The Insurance Information Institute(III) states new account fraud is when someone opens a credit card in your name using your personal information. This crime tripled in numbers from 2016 to 2017 with total losses at $5.1 billion. It was the third most common consumer complaint, reports the FTC.
Image source: Federal Trade Commission
What You Need to Prevent Identity Theft Now
Don’t wait for an attack to happen to you. Prepare now to safeguard your information, money, and identity with these tips from the FTC Department of Consumer Information.
Keep Your Personal Information Secure Offline
Keep Your Personal Information Secure Online
Are You a Victim of Identity Theft?
While you take steps to prevent identity theft, become familiar with the steps you should take if you become a victim. As criminals develop ever more elaborate and intelligent ways to steal information and your hard-earned money, the chance of identity fraud is always present. Follow these steps from the FTC the moment you think and know you are a victim. Download a free PDF here.
Protect Against Identity Theft with Insurance Coverage
You can’t always prevent identity theft, but you can take steps to reduce the chances of it happening, lessen the damage, and protect yourself with insurance coverage. Speak with one of our professionals at Abri Insurance today to discuss your insurance needs and options. We will find a plan to fit what you need and keep your identity protected.
Early this year, California lawmakers gave the go-ahead for 50 companies to test autonomous cars in the state without a person in the driver’s seat. The movement for fully-autonomous vehicles is evolving, increasing safety and benefits for drivers and pedestrians. Read along to learn more about the path to self-driving cars and what this means for you.
Self-Driving Cars: On the Road to Safety
In 2015, a shocking 35,092 people died in motor vehicle-related accidents in the U.S. alone. Ninety-four percent of serious crashes are due to human error, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA). A study performed by the NHTSA in 2010 revealed motor vehicle crashes cost $242 billion in economic activity. Clearly, the cost of human-error vehicle crashes is high.
Several experts forecast self-driving cars will be on the road as soon as 2025, with fully-autonomous cars taking over by 2030. While much research is still needed, and the pros and cons of driverless cars is still debated, this is a growing trend that will have a major impact on personal vehicle insurance.
An Uber self-driving vehicle in Pittsburgh, PA. Image source: Flickr.com
Self-Driving Cars and Vehicle Insurance
What does the future of autonomous vehicles hold, and how does that impact the everyday consumer? Harvard Business Review (HBR) predicts driverless vehicles won’t be owned by individuals but by auto manufactures, creating fleets that provide ride-sharing services. “Unlike individual car owners – whose vehicles typically sit idle most of the time — fleet owners can send autonomous vehicles out on multiple trips on a 24-hour basis, amortizing the cost of ownership,” according to HBR.
If this trend occurs, this could mean lower premiums for individual vehicle insurance carriers. The decrease in human error and the number of policies means insurance companies will require less each month. A study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute (III) found that 50% of consumers believe the autonomous car’s manufacturer should bear responsibility in case of an accident. Will the change to driverless cars shift the liability of driving from individuals to manufacturers?
Harvard Business Review believes the future for insurance companies in the future of driverless cars lies in three main areas: cyber security, product liability, and infrastructure insurance.
A main concern, protecting against technology failures and cyber security risks will be a major focus for autonomous vehicles. The probability and impact of hacking, hardware and software defects, and other risks is huge. HBR estimates insuring against these risks could generate as much as $12 billion in annual premiums.
A Ride in the Google Self Driving Car from Google self-driving car project on Youtube.
The Future of Autonomous Vehicles
When it comes to the automotive industry, we are approaching a brave new world. The advancements in technology and changing trends means changes for everyone – from consumers, to manufacturers, to insurance companies. Preparing now will help us in the inevitable future of autonomous vehicles.
Firework Safety for the 4th of July
Independence Day is quickly approaching. The summer holiday is always filled with the excitement and anticipation of fireworks displays. From city-sponsored events, to small performances in your backyard, understanding how to keep your family and assets safe from fireworks is important. Read more to discover the power of fireworks and our tips for firework safety.
Firework Structural Damage
The National Fire Protection Association(NFPA) reports that fireworks caused over 15,000 fires in the U.S. in 2013. Of those, 1,400 were structure fires and 200 were vehicle fires. With over $20 million in damage, firework safety is definitely not to be overlooked.
Firework Personal Damage
The largest number of firework injuries were caused by sparklers, according to the NFPA, accounting for 30% of all fireworks-related injuries in 2013. In 2014, over 10,000 people visited the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries. Over half of those were burns.
While we enjoy the displays and celebrating our nation’s freedom as much as every other American, at Abri Insurance, we also care that you are protected. Take a moment to ensure you follow these simple steps to ensure you are covered and your family has a safe and fun independence celebration!
The easiest way to prevent injury or damage is to forego fireworks altogether. You can leave the displays to the professionals at a city-run display. If you are so compelled, follow these tips to stay safe this 4th of July.
Keep your friends and family safe while celebrating Independence Day. Sparklers, while festive, can reach up to 1200 degrees! A fun alternative to sparklers is a glow stick. Kids will delight in the fun of glowing sticks that can also be made into necklaces and bracelets. They come in different shapes and designs. And, glowsticks will help you see your kids better once the sun sets and you’re waiting for the fireworks display.
Follow these other steps to prevent personal injury to you and your guests on the Fourth.
As a general rule, consider pets and small children when you plan a fireworks display. Some animals and children can become anxious with the loud sounds of fireworks. Also, young children may have an early bedtime and the fireworks could interrupt their sleep. When done in close proximity to neighbors and other residences, be thoughtful of others and decide if a fireworks display would be appropriate.
As always, at Abri Insurance, our most important goal is the safety and longevity of all you hold dear. From your loved ones, to your most important assets, taking time to keep what’s most valuable covered is important. While you celebrate the freedom and birth of our nation, keep the holiday fun and make great memories by following the simple rules of firework use. Stay safe and have fun!
In High Water: No flood insurance can cost you
Forty-three percent of homeowners incorrectly believe damage from heavy rain flooding is covered under their standard insurance policy. This is according to figures recently released by Insurance Information Institute(III). According to the group, “most homeowners insurance includes coverage for damage caused by wind-driven rain, burst pipes and water leaking into your house because of a roofline ice dam. But, not by flood.”
The 2017 hurricane season was the busiest since 2005. Last year, 10 of the 17 named storms reached hurricane strength with winds of at least 74 mph, according to III. Experts predict 2018 will be busier than normal for hurricane activity as well.
Hurricane season starts in June. Are you ready?
Irma and Harvey, a recap
Last year, flooding from hurricanes Irma and Harvey unleashed unprecedented destruction across the southern U.S. states. In their wake, hundreds of homeowners were left footing the bill due to a lack of flood insurance. NOAA reports Hurricane Harvey had total costs estimated at $125 billion and Irma at $50 billion. Altogether, 2017 storms caused a record-breaking cumulative cost of $306.2 billion.
Harvey made landfall along the Texas coast last August, lingering for days, and dropping record levels of rain over the Lone Star state. While winds tore through the beach towns of Rockport and Corpus Christi, much of the flood damage occurred in Houston as the storm slowly moved upward along the Texas coast. It was estimated that 80% of homeowners in the Houston area that were impacted by flooding did not have flood insurance. Most of these homeowners were not in designated flood zones and weren’t required to have flood insurance.
Nearly 135,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey flooding.
(Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Harvey)
Closer to Home
Just days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, Hurricane Irma began its path of destruction across the Caribbean islands, Cuba, and South Florida early September. Irma became a force to be reckoned with, causing flooding through Jacksonville, Charleston, and Savannah despite being downgraded to a tropical storm. The storm surge Irma caused left homeowners throughout the Southeast devastated.
Hurricane Irma caused residential flooding losses estimated at $25-$38 billion, according to Corelogic. “An estimated 80 percent of flood damage to residential properties from Hurricane Irma is not covered by any flood insurance,” according to the analytics firm.
We’re seeing a theme here.
Are You Covered?
Flood insurance is separate from your homeowner’s insurance policy. Coverage is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program(NFIP). Floods are the nation’s most common natural disaster, according to Flood Smart by FEMA. “The NFIP provides coverage for up to $250,000 for the structure of the home and $100,000 for personal possessions. To increase coverage, you can add excess flood insurance available from private insurers.
Your NFIP flood insurance policy doesn’t differ from company to company or agent to agent. From the FEMA website, the amount you pay is based on several factors such as:
Don’t Risk It
Protect your family, home, and wallet with a flood insurance policy. The risk of flooding for Charleston residents is very real. The monthly costs far outweigh the devastating costs of losing a home after a natural disaster.
Navigating the world of insurance policies can be overwhelming. We can help simplify the process. Speak with one of our agents today and we will get you set up with an option that works to protect your budget, home, and family.
Dog Bites: Know the Facts
“70 million nice dogs…but any dog can bite,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association(AVMA). Dogs are usually man’s best friend and typically make great family pets. Scroll through Instagramand you will see pic after pic of smiling dogs with their happy owners. The truth is though, any dog can bite. As a homeowner you need to be prepared and know the facts. Anestimated 4.5 million people are bittenby dogs each year. Between 2010 and 2012, over 350,000 victims were children. Sixty percent of injuries to children 4 years and younger were to the head and neck, according to the AVMA.
Dog bite homeowner’s liability claims are on the rise, with an 18% increase from 2016 to 2017. The average cost per claim in 2016 was $33,000. This is a 70% increase from 2003. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.),the rise in the costs of claims is attributable to increased medical costs and size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs. The total claims paid out in the U.S. for dog bite liability claims in 2016 was $612,500,000. To see how your state stacks up for dog bite liability claims, check out this interactive map infographic from the I.I.I.
Are You Covered?
Dog bite liability coverage is not usually a common concern. However, a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims are for dog bites. You need to make sure you have enough coverage in case your pet decides to bite, as unlikely as that scenario may seem. Coverage can vary by state with some excluding coverage on certain breeds. South Carolina is a “strict liability” statewhich means the dog owner is responsible for their pet’s behavior even if they had no idea the dog was going to attack. “Homeowners insurance policies are frequently designed to cover at least the value of the home itself,” according to Nerdwallet. You can purchase an umbrella policy or pet liability insurance if you want further coverage. Call Abri Insurance to make sure you have the right coverage. Then, take the proper steps to prevent dog bites.
Protect Your Family and Your Wallet
Most dog bites are preventable. Being a responsible dog owner will not only ensure the health and happiness of your pet, but safeguard against your dog making an attack. If you own a dog, take these steps to make an attack less likely.
Protect Yourself from Other Dogs Too
Though not always predictable, most dogs exhibit certain warning signs prior to attacking. Sometimes a dog is sick, scared, annoyed, or hungry. The dog could feel threatened or startled. In any case, to prevent a dog bite it’s best to avoid these risky situations, according to the AVMA:
Take time this Dog Bite Prevention Week to educate yourself and your family on the best methods to stay safe with dogs and stay covered with your homeowner’s insurance. At Abri Insurance, we have over 20 commercial and personal insurance carriers. We will match you with the right policy to keep you protected. Call us to set up an appointment to make sure you’re covered with the right insurance. We shop and compare. You feel safe and save.
Know Your Plan App
Gets You Prepared for Every Disaster
With this free app, you can make your own checklist or use pre-loaded lists to set up your disaster kits. With a plan for every disaster, from earthquakes to tornadoes, you can be ready no matter the weather.
How Prepared are You?
Last year was the costliest year on record for natural disasters in the United States according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. From wildfires in California, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and record lows and flooding in areas throughout the country, 2017 proved that disaster preparedness is a must. However, most Americans lack basic emergency preparedness plans, as this infographic from the U.S. Census Bureau proves.
“Only half of the population reports having a family preparedness plan that all family members know about,” according to National Center for Disaster Preparedness. Although the numbers have been rising steadily since 2003, only 57% of the population is disaster ready, according to the study.
The statistics are startling. That’s why the Insurance Information Institute Inc. made the Know Your Plan App. It’s now easier than ever to get ready for bad weather and unexpected disasters. With a swipe and tap, you can plan evacuation routes, decide on meeting locations, create supply lists, and share plans with family members. Even your family pets are safe with the Know Your Plan App.
“Use Know Your Plan to be prepared when disaster strikes! Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, severe cold, evacuations – this app will help plan ahead to better protect yourself, your family, your home, and even your pets. Get started by using the preloaded checklists to learn about important mitigation and preparation steps or create your own lists from scratch. You can set due dates, chart your progress, and include notes with your tasks, and share your checklists with family and friends. Get organized now so you can be ready for what may come.”
After you’ve prepared your kits, give Abri Insurance a call and finish your disaster preparedness plans. We shop and compare. You feel safe and save.
We are Abri
We've created this blog to keep our customers and others in the know. When it comes to insurance and keeping people safe, no knowledge should be off limits.