Should you file an auto claim?

One of the biggest questions that comes up after an auto accident is whether you should file a claim with your insurance company, or simply pay for the damages with your own cash. After all, there are some people out there who try to actively avoid reporting an accidauto claim wilmington ncent to their insurance companies. This is usually because when there are no injuries and very little damage to the vehicle, it can be tempting to keep insurance cost low – especially as reporting an accident can cause a spike in car insurance rates.

The problem is, when you’re involved in a crash on the road, whether it’s a big crash or a small accident, you could be better off speaking to your insurance provider right away.

 

Why you SHOULD file a claim

There are a lot of things that your insurance provider can do for you, and a lot of people forget about this when they’re only focusing on the money that they could be paying out for insurance. Here are some of the ways that your coverage could assist you:

  • Help you to pay for out of pocket health expenses that are caused by driving.
  • Help you to pay for property damage you caused in the accident.
  • Can help you to pay for any legal defense costs if you do get taken to court.

These can make a huge difference to your out of pocket expenses when you are in a crash, particularly as no one out there plans a crash. Your finances can take quite the hit when you’re in a crash, and your insurance is there to cover you in those times.

 

You can try to reach a financial plan with another driver without advice, but you could run a very big risk of being sued later on. If you’re prepared to take that risk, then that is up to you, but you could also be liable for costs if the other driver decides to make a claim later on. If you try to put in a claim later on, your insurer could say no to covering you – so it’s always worth making a claim when an accident has happened.

 

When you SHOULDN’T file a claim

If you are in a minor, one car accident, then you can settle auto repairs yourself – but you should ensure that no one is injured and no property is damaged before you come to an agreement. If you hit a mailbox, for example, then you should be okay, as long as the damage is minimal.

 

You must consider what your coverage is going to assist you with before you go ahead. If the cost of a repair is less or near the same amount as your deductible, then there’s no reason for you to go ahead and file a claim. Once you understand when a good time to file a claim is, you’re more likely to be secure in that decision and your finances won’t be as badly affected as you think.

How Do Car Insurance Deductibles Work?

how car insurance deductibles work

How Do Car Insurance Deductibles Work?

A car insurance deductible is something that you pay to repair your car if you have an accident or you need to make a claim. Unlike with health insurance, you don’t have to meet your annual deductible, you just have to pay your deductible with most claims. It doesn’t matter how many deductibles you have per year or how long your policy lasts for, it’s something that you must pay if you want your car repaired. When you’re looking into auto insurance Wilmington, NC, you need to ensure that you are looking into both comprehensive and collision. This is because these are the two most common coverages that include deductibles as an option. Some people have deductibles for personal injury protection in some cases, and deductibles have the same process for all coverages.

How To Choose The Right Deductible

The cost of a deductible can vary from a low $500 right up to $2,000. A lot of drivers choose to go for the lower option, because they want to pay as little as possible for car repairs. To know which deductible you want to get, you have to ask yourself a few questions. The first, is how much you want to pay for your car to be repaired. The higher the deductible, the lower the car insurance rate but the higher the out of pocket expenses. The lower the deductible, the higher the car insurance costs and the lower your out of pocket expenses are.

You should always go for affordability with your deductible, so work out what you can pay out of pocket and don’t choose your deductible to be higher than that figure. It’s a gamble to go low on the premise that an accident ‘may never happen’ to you, so play it safe with your deductible choice and go for the higher amount you can afford to pay. If you’ve had accidents previously, there’s every chance you could again so it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Your deductible is only applicable to damages that are done to your car. If your insurance company pays up for your repairs, then you must pay the deductible. It’s a simply rule: if they pay, so do you.

There are, however, a couple of common situations where you wouldn’t have to pay for your deductible. If the other drive has hit you and is deemed to be the one at fault, it’s their insurance company that should pay for the repairs, so you won’t have to pay your deductible. If you’re both at fault, you both share the cost and pay for some of your deductible – but not all of it. The other situation is if you choose not to repair the car. It’s unusual, but if he repairs are going to cost you more than the car’s value, you could choose not to repair it. In this case, your insurer will cut you a check for the repairs.

Please contact our office so we can help guide you through the best possible insurance options.

Protect Your Home From Storm Damage

The 2018 storm season is upon us, and once again thousands of homeowners have to turn their thoughts to protecting their home from potential onslaughts. Below, we have put together a simple guide to five key methods of helping to limit the storm damage on your home – read on to find out more…

home insurance against storm damage wilmington nc

Landscaping

Clever landscaping is one of the best ways to prevent water damage as a result of a storm. Landscaping can be specially designed to ensure that water is moved away from your home, helping to eliminate the risks of substantial water accumulation that can lead to flooding.

Ideally, you should choose landscaping that seeks to create a downward slope from your home. This slope does not need to be particularly substantial; just enough for gravity to pull water from your home and instead channel it into lower areas of your property.

Weatherstripping

Weather stripping is the practice of finding small gaps and holes in your property and then sealing them. Gaps around doors and windows are most liable to be problematic should you experience a storm event, and can allow enough damage to force you to claim on your homeowner’s insurance or foot a large bill yourself. By closing these with specially-designed tape, the potential entry routes for rainwater are minimized.

Weather stripping is quick and easy to do. Use a flashlight to help identify as many gaps as possible, then seal these with tape or – where applicable – add door strips for extra protection.

Clear gutters

The gutters of your home serve an important purpose, so you need to be sure that yours are in good condition. It’s all-too-easy for dirt and debris to accumulate in gutters, so sweep these items clear so that your guttering can perform the important work of diverting water away from your home.

Inspect roof for weak spots

During a storm, the roof of your property will experience the full force of wind and rain. To be able to withstand this, your roof needs to be in good condition, so it is important to inspect this area in great detail. Look for loose tiles and missing shingles; these can easily be displaced entirely by high winds, which leaves your home vulnerable to roof leaks.

Think of your roof as the first line of defense against any storm; if it is compromised, the rest of your property will be also. As a result, if you do identify any issues with your roof, remedy them as quickly as possible.

Repair loose siding

Loose siding is particularly problematic during storms. Not only can it be torn and further damaged by high winds, but loose siding also provides another entry route into your home for water.

Identifying loose siding is, thankfully, simple – a visual inspection will usually suffice, and if anything looks amiss, you can physically check the area to determine the severity of the issue. Focus on repairing the more severely compromised areas as a priority, and the more minor cases at the next opportunity.

In conclusion

If your home experiences a storm, damage is not inevitable. With the right preventative actions – as described above – and the right home insurance plan, you can ensure that damage/cost is minimized, and you are able to return to your property safely and promptly following a major storm.

Do You Have a Plan for Long-Term Care?

You’ve probably thought about your health, but have you ever thought of whether you or someone you love will someday need long-term care? If you haven’t, it’s something to consider when planning for your financial future. Illnesses or injuries can hit at a moments notice, leaving you struggling to pay for care when you need it. That’s why it’s smart to start planning your long-term care strategy now.

Here are a few questions you should be asking yourself:

Will You Need Long-Term Care?

No one ever really expects to need long-term care, but you can be more ready for the possibility by knowing your health history. Are you, or a loved one, close to retirement? Long-term care is often needed as people age. Are there any hereditary illnesses or a history of injury? If you or someone close to you has a history of Alzheimer’s, dementia or any other degenerative disease, then long-term care may eventually be needed. Also take lifestyle choices into consideration as well.

Can You Do Anything to Help?

There’s no definitive way to prevent yourself or a loved one from needing long-term care. You can, however, take precautions to help you stay healthy. Exercise is a great way to keep your body strong and fend off potential illnesses. Your diet can dramatically impact your health as well. There is even some research that suggests certain foods can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. Lifestyle choices can help prevent injuries and health issues that require long-term care.

Do You Know What to Expect?

Planning for the possibility of long-term care is smart. Just be sure to plan for all aspects of your care. You need to make certain that your health insurance will cover any medical needs that would arise from a serious injury or illness. You also need to be aware of any deductibles or premiums you’ll need to plan to pay for yourself. Also, think about whether you will need in-home help to provide care. Finally, you’ll need to research the price of accessibility upgrades you might need for your home.

Paying for Long-Term Care

How Can Insurance Help With Your Care?

Having health insurance, whether it’s Medicare or private insurance, is a smart move to cover medical costs. Your plan may pay for needs such as medications, medical supplies, and equipment needed for long-term care. If you have life insurance, you may be able to use that policy to help as well. You can sell your life insurance to cover excess or unexpected costs of long-term care. Be sure you understand your policy details and the options available to you before you make any decisions.

Where Can You Turn for Help?

Sometimes, savings and insurance just aren’t enough. The costs of long-term care can be unexpected and surprise needs can come up. Whether it’s hiring in-home help or making your home accessible, there are grants available to help. Do some research now, so you’ll know where to turn if you ever need help. It’s also wise to get help with the emotional effects of long-term care, so seek out support groups or counselors if you need help keeping your mental health in check.

How Can You Save for Long-Term Care?

Saving is an efficient way to prepare yourself for any unexpected turns that might impact your finances. Since long-term care is often needed when you’re a senior, you should make sure you’re saving now for retirement. Having enough retirement savings to cover your normal living expenses will make it easier to accommodate for lengthy care. You might also be able to use your Health Savings Account to tuck away funds for care. Try to pay your debt down to further free up finances.

Thinking of yourself or someone you love with a major illness or injury isn’t pleasant. But planning for the possibility of long-term care will take pressure off if the unthinkable does happen. It’s important to prepare your finances now, so you can have peace of mind as you grow older.

Author

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Lowering the Cost of Homeowners Insurance

affordable home owners insurance wilmington nc

Many people get homeowners coverage when they purchase their home and don’t look at it again for years.  If it has been a while since you re-evaluated your policy, there may be some ways you can save some money on the cost of your house insurance.  Here are a few ideas:

1.  Review Contents and Personal Property

Chances are good that the value of the contents of your home has changed over time.  You may have had kids, and realized that glass china cabinet wasn’t the best idea anymore.  Or maybe you became a vegan and sold your fur coat.  Or cashed in a valuable painting.  And lots of stuff you originally estimated value for has probably depreciated.  Scheduling a review once a year can help you to keep this number updated so you aren’t paying more for coverage you don’t need.

2.  Dwelling Replacement Costs

The cost to replace your dwelling now may be less than it was 5 years ago.  Or, you may have included the whole value of your property, including the land, in your initial coverage amount, which would be a greater amount and unnecessary expense.  Either way, this is another area that you can look at and make sure the coverage is accurate for your current property.

3.  Consider a higher deductible

You might be in a different place financially than you were when you first purchased your home.  Paying $1000 out of pocket for a deductible may have been impossible for you then, but it might be more feasible for you now.  If the increase in your deductible is something you could consider, your premium can be reduced significantly.  The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

4.  Consolidate your coverage.

Most home insurance companies offer discounts for using their services for multiple policies.  You may be eligible for a discount on your homeowners policy if you consider using the same company for your auto insurance, for example.

5.  Make your home more secure.

Most homeowners insurance policies offer discounts for installing security systems in your home.  More secure home AND insurance savings?  Win-win.

These are just a few of the ways you can potentially lower homeowners insurance premiums. 

Contact our office to speak with one of our agents that can provide Home Owners Insurance for Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Kure, Carolina Beach, Southport, Leland, Hampstead, and surrounding areas.

Flood Insurance for Wilmington NC

Do I need flood insurance?

flood insurance wilmington nc
Living on the coast, this is a very important question. With one of the most active hurricane seasons in recent history, it’s certainly worth taking a look at a NC flood insurance policy and consider adding it to your insurance coverage.

Is flood insurance required?

Typically, homeowners and renters insurance does not include coverage for flood damage. According to the FEMA website, the government has “mandated federally regulated or insured lenders to require flood insurance on mortgaged properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. But even if your property is not in a high risk flood area, your mortgage lender may still require you to have flood insurance.” So, is flood insurance required? It depends. An insurance professional can help you do research needed to see if you have a requirement.

What if I don’t live in a flood zone?

You can check this link provided by the state of North Carolina, which offers a free flood zone map for the public to use and download. Your mortgage lender may still require you to have flood insurance. Or, you might still consider getting flood insurance even if it isn’t required just for your own protection. It’s pretty clear from the news these days that floods are serious business, and sadly, becoming quite a common occurrence. And, according to FEMA’s website, “More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside the high risk flood zone.”
The good news is that if you opt to buy flood insurance on your own from a low to moderate flood-risk zone, you may be eligible for preferred-risk rates.
Ok, if I get flood insurance, what does it cover?
Most policies will provide coverage on contents and property, but will adjust for depreciation. Also there is lots of stuff that isn’t covered by flood insurance, including water damage coming from inside the home or swimming pools. It’s important to go over the coverage with your insurance agent to have a clear understanding of your coverage.

What else do I need to know about flood insurance?

Most insurance companies will not be able to create new Flood Insurance Policies or update existing policies while under a hurricane watch or warning or related weather circumstances. If you think you might need flood insurance, the sooner you are covered, the better.
Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Give our office a call to speak with one of our agents that can provide Flood Insurance for Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Kure, Carolina Beach, Southport, Leland, Hampstead, and surrounding areas.

Boat Insurance Wilmington NC

Do You Have A Boat?

boat insurance wilmington nc

Awesome! Boats are pretty amazing. You can go slow, or go fast. You get to be outside on the open water. You get to be an explorer. But boats are also a big responsibility and investment. One way you can protect this investment is with Boaters Insurance.

Boat Insurance

When you’re spending time on a boat, it’s no fun to think about some of the bad stuff that can happen. But since you’re probably not on your boat right now, here is some of the bad stuff.

  • Collisions
  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Damage/Vandalism
  • Severe Weather -lightning strikes, flooding,etc….

For all of these bummers and more, having boat insurance can help. And to offer even more of a high-five scenario, Boaters Insurance can help cover damages to things on and OUTSIDE your boat, such as machinery, fittings, motors, boat trailers, and even personal property.

You don’t only want to take care of your boat, but you want to make sure all your passengers are taken care of too, right? Boat insurance can help cover medical expenses from physical injuries to yourself or passengers that might occur while on your boat. Or, if you have an accident and damage someone else’s property with your boat, Boat Insurance can help with the damage to your boat and their property, too.

Whether you have a jet ski, small boat, performance boat, houseboats or a yacht, you’ll probably find that Boat Insurance is totally worth the cost. Here are some ideas of how you can save even more on your Boater policy:

Diesel discounts – Diesel-powered vessels are considered less hazardous than gas, so if you have diesel, tell your agent!
Fire extinguishers – Just make sure you’ve got ’em, they are in good working order, and Coast Guard Approved!
Multiple policies – If you already have auto insurance or other policies, adding a Boater policy through the same agency can provide discounts.
Learning – Completing courses for Boater Safety Education!

If all that wasn’t enough, Boaters Insurance can protect you from…PIRATES! That’s right! If your boat is stolen, boaters insurance is there for you, and can even protect you from liability of whatever may happen while someone else is driving your boat (both Pirates and people that have your permission).

So, there you go. You have permission to come aboard, and get your Boater Insurance Policy today!

We provide boat insurance for Wilmington, Leland, Southport, Bald Head, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Topsail, Surf City, and surrounding areas……..

Call our office today and we can provide you the best policy to fit your needs.

(910) 338-0034

Hurricane Season in NC

What Does Hurricane Season Mean for Your Insurance Policy?

It’s that time of year again: The weather has warmed up, we’re enjoying the outdoors and everyone is flocking to the beach! However, this time of year also means hearing a lot about hurricanes and floods. (The not so fun part of living by the coast!)

We thought it would be the perfect time to help you get prepared for this year’s hurricane season by providing you with more information on hurricane and flood insurance.

Hurricane Season Radar Tracking

Starting June 1 through November 30, the Atlantic Coast begins to watch what is happening offshores. There has already been a lot of discussion this year on the activity they are expecting. Even though the expectations are for this to be a “near-normal” season, the last couple of years have been “below-normal” and this year is expected to be the most active since 2012. After many years of quiet, we are biting our nails hoping to add another year without major damage caused by a hurricane.

It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm to make landfall to really mess things up. The last destructive storm to hit North Carolina was Hurricane Irene back in August of 2011.

With hurricanes typically comes flooding. There is a big misconception that all of this is covered under one policy. This is not correct. Some hurricanes can cause massive amounts of rain in a short period of time, which causes rivers and waterways to swell quickly and overflow. You’ve heard of the current record floods in South Carolina and Texas…this is simply due to a mass amount of rain in short periods of time, so imagine what a hurricane or tropical storm could do. And, flood insurance doesn’t care if you are in a flood zone or not. From www.FloodSmart.gov, more than 20% of flood insurance claims come from people outside of the mapped high-risk flood areas.

Flooding is a result of rising bodies of lakes, rivers, streams, oceans, etc. This is not covered under your typical homeowners nor windstorm/hailstorm policy. Most common flood insurance is offered through the federally regulated program known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You have to go through an agent to get the policy.

Another difference here on the coast is windstorm/hailstorm coverage. You may have a separate policy covering damages that are due to windstorm or hailstorm; or a different deductible on your primary homeowners policy. On the coast of North Carolina, windstorm is one of our biggest exposures. The type of windstorm could include Tropical Storms, Hurricanes, etc.

Five of the top 10 most costly Hurricanes to hit the United States did damage in North Carolina: Hurricane Hugo in 1989, Hurricanes Charley, Ivan & Frances in 2004; and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 according to Insurance Information Institute at www.iii.org.

If damage is done to the outside of your house; i.e. your roof, siding, or windows and it is due to some type of windstorm or hailstorm, then this would be covered under your windstorm/hailstorm portion. Coverages for this also typically have a larger deductible to help reduce the overall cost.

It’s important to prepare for hurricane season by getting an evacuation kit together, communicating a plan with your family and reviewing your current coverages on your home and automobiles. Knowing what the plans are and making sure you are comfortable with the deductible amounts and replacement costs on your home is extremely important. Take the time to sit down with your agent and review your coverages. You will be thankful you did in the event we have an active hurricane season!

Welcome!

Welcome to my first posting. There is so much information out there today about insurance – from companies promoting for cheap cheap cheap, to quality.  My intention with blogging is hoping to help educate you in understanding your everyday exposures.  Insurance is not all that fun, not all that exciting, but necessary.  Yes you are paying for something you don’t see until that day when something happens.  And I hope that day never happens for you, but if it does, I hope you are correctly insured.

So to start my first post, like I said there is so much to talk about and so many options.  I have an upcoming event I am volunteering for which brings to light teens and driving. So, I think I will focus on that this time.

Allstate Insurance has done tons of research over the last 10 years about teen drivers and their exposure.  They get behind the wheel of a huge piece of metal, not exactly aware of the lethal weapon they just jumped into.  I remember my first day of driving and all the excitement.  You aren’t thinking about all the risk, all the exposures for you or your parents.  You just want to be the cool one and drive.  At 16, you know everything, right?!

I have teamed up with the local division of StreetSafeUS.  They are a non-profit organization where everyone is a volunteer.  This is to show students the risks that are out there the minute they jump behind the wheel of the lethal weapon.  It’s not your everyday driving school type learning environment.  They have real live people come and share their experiences.  Parents that have lost children in driving accidents, others that have caused accidents, and taking the lives of others.  And, then there is the insurance exposure that most of the teenagers and parents are not aware of.  Your limits of liability only pay up to what you have on your policy.  After that, it’s up to you as the policyholder.  You could lose more than money: your home, your savings, retirement and income are exposed.  So, that is why I decided to partner with StreetSafeUS.  To help make our streets safer, our drivers more knowledgeable about what is at risk.  When you have the time to, check out their website at www.streetsafeus.com.  

Here’s some statistics to leave you with:

  • Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens in America2
  • Parents are the #1 influence of teen drivers1
  • 84% of parents and 79% of teens admit to speeding1
  • More parents than teens use their phones while driving1
  • About ½ of teens will likely crash before graduating high school3
  • Teens are 4x more likely to be killed in a car crash with 3+ friends in the car4
  • 69% of teens think they should have more practice before getting a license1
  • 61% of teen passengers killed in a car crash weren’t wearing a seat belt2
  • 6PM to Midnight is the most deadly time for teens on the road2

 

coast-pic-rotator

1  The Allstate Foundation’s 2015 Driving Change Report
2 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2013 Teen Fatality Facts
3 National Safety Council
4 Tefft, Brain C., Allan F. Williams, and Juerk G. Grabowski. “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age & Number of Passengers.” (2012): 1. Print