Bruce Jenner, Auto Insurance Limits, and You

As you may have seen, there is a lot of speculation about Bruce Jenner, and potential law suits associated with the deadly accident he was involved in.  The gist is that even if you have good auto insurance with a reasonable limit ($250,000), it may not be enough under extreme circumstances, especially if you have a lot of assets to protect.  You can read more about Bruce Jenner’s potential legal issues here in the Insurance Business America story.

So, what does this mean to you?  First of all, you need to do all you can to protect yourself.  Bruce Jenner has a lot of assets to protect, and had plenty of disposable income to purchase the proper insurance.  He should have carried a $500,000 auto policy, with a huge personal umbrella over that.  With these policies, we would not be discussing his potential legal woes.  You should note that he was going the speed limit, he was not drunk, it was the middle of the day, and he was not charged.  There is some question about his using his phone at the time of the accident, but I have not heard any verification of this.  Still, the risk of being sued is present regardless of his being charged, and he is left with a minimum of protection.

Bruce Jenner’s $250,000 limit actually is more than most drivers carry, But it certainly wasn’t enough for him.  What if you are in an accident caused by another driver, and that driver has incredibly low, or even no insurance?  Well, read our blog on Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage to see how this coverage protects you under these circumstances.

In the end, it is all about protecting yourself.  If you have a lot of assets, you need more protection.  If you have a family, you need more protection.  Driving is becoming safer and safer, but deadly accidents still plague us on a regular basis.  Wear your seat belt, buy a car with proper safety equipment, drive safely, and carry the proper insurance.  In the end, it might make the difference to you and those that depend on you.

“Why I love being an insurance agent.”

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Being an insurance agent means different things to different people – why each of us loves our job differs from person to person.    We thought it might be interesting for you to find out what drives some of our employees, what makes us tick, and what makes us love insurance.  Crazy as it sounds, we do – insurance helps people in their time of need, and we take that very seriously.  You should be with an agent that loves what they do, shouldn’t you?


Jose Arevalo, Producer and Account Manager, Construction Department

When clients are purchasing insurance it’s something they can’t see or feel and it is my job to inform them and make them aware of all the necessary insurance policies they need.

Consumers aren’t aware of the many different types of insurance policies that can be taken out on their home, automobile or business.  As much as the consumer may not want to purchase some of the most necessary insurances, it is my job to inform and let them know just why it will be suitable to them in the long run. The most rewarding part of my job is when something goes wrong with the insured’s possessions and they are covered. It puts a smile on my face knowing that I helped them save some extra cash.


Joseph Balaez, Manager, Business Market Segment

I love dealing and meeting with new people on a daily basis, learning about their insurance needs, and arranging new insurance programs that best meet their needs. It is our job to arrange this partnership between our clients and insurance carriers, and doing that well is something that I really enjoy.


Pamela Cerny, Claims Manager

I really enjoy helping people, and working in this field gives me the opportunity to do that in many ways. Helping clients in some of the most difficult times in their lives, dealing with tragedies, loss of homes, or automobiles is the hardest thing to see, but is the most rewarding part of my job. Working in the insurance field is definitely challenging and at times demanding, but you feel needed.

What I have discovered over the 23 years that I have dedicated to the insurance industry is that it is a never ending learning experience, there’s always something more to learn. There is always constant change and you just have to be ready to adapt to it. There’s never a dull moment, and I don’t always go to work knowing what will happen but, whatever happens I’m always prepared for it.

My job is beyond interesting and I am very passionate about what I do.

Winter Storm Juno

Storm of the Century!  Or, Not?

by P. Andersen

SnowRoad

Is Juno coming, or will it be all sound and fury signifying nothing?  We are on the road to finding out, but preparation is key regardless of the result.   Storm preparation is all about accepting as much risk as you can and still be comfortable.  Can you shovel 2 feet of snow?  If not, get a snow blower.  If you can’t get to the store, do you have enough food to be comfortable?  You may not need steak, but canned food is important, as is plenty of water.  Being without food or water is not really an acceptable outcome.  What about driving?  We talked about the importance of snow tires here on this blog, and though it is too late today to have them put on, maybe not for the next storm.  Even with those great tires, don’t drive if you can’t afford to be stuck, and don’t drive too far from help.  It is just common sense that you stay home if you can, no matter what tires you are using!  In the end, this may or may not be the epic blizzard of 2015, but you should prepare as if it is.  If it isn’t, we can all berate the weathermen and TV talking heads for making a story out of nothing.  Still, I bet those people that were stuck on the LIE for a few days in that last big storm would have preferred to err on the side of caution…

Preparation is what insurance is all about…  The rule of insurance is to insure anything that you would have difficulty weathering without it.  Keep your deductibles as high as you can comfortably keep them, so your costs stay low.  Carry proper flood coverage if a flood would devastate you financially, and you live in an area where the waters may rise substantially.  Prepare for the worst, and then live your life to avoid those events that create havoc.

Be safe out there, it might just be what all those weathermen are predicting!

Click here for Blizzard Preparation Tips

Home Construction? You Need Proof of Insurance!

by O. Ritter

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Are you thinking of having some work done on your home? It is important to take steps to protect yourself in case there is an accident caused by a contractor. Before you hire a contractor these are the questions you need to ask. How many projects have you done in the past? Will my project require a permit? What types of insurance do you carry? These are all important questions because you want to make sure that A) The contractor can do the job correctly B) you have legal and legit requirements for the job, and last but not least C) you want to make sure you are protected in case something goes wrong on the job.

Here are the four basic factors you should know before getting started.

  • How big is the job?
  • What are the risks?
  • How can I protect myself?
  • How vital is it to have a Workers Compensation policy?

 

How big is the Job?

Know how big the job is. This is a very important factor to know because it will allow you to make the necessary decisions on who you should hire (i.e. an architect, a contractor, a contractor and work crew). Well, keep in mind the bigger the job, the higher the risk. As briefly mentioned above, if you’re having a bigger job done on your home, you will need to hire an architect. Architects are professionally trained to create the blueprints necessary for larger jobs, and may be required to obtain permits. They should be licensed, as should your contractor. For smaller jobs, you may be able to skip this step and move right on to the construction.

What are the risks?

If something were to go wrong while a contractor is on the job, and the insurance provided is not adequate to cover the claims, there is risk of being sued (by an injured worker), and you may have to rely on your homeowners insurance to cover the damages. This is not something you want to do and I’ll explain why in just a moment.

First, before hiring a contractor or beginning a remodeling project on your property, check with your broker on your homeowners policy for specifics regarding your coverage. Your liability insurance will protect those uninsured, injured workers on your property, as well as any uncovered damages that occur -BUT – you don’t want that claim and ensuing premium increases! Still, for large jobs, you may want to contact your broker and see about getting additional coverage, such as an umbrella policy which protects your existing personal assets and future personal assets against the cost of losing a lawsuit on your property. It’s always in your best interest to be better prepared in case of any emergencies. That starts with making sure you hire a contractor or architect that has the proper insurance. So before hire, check their certificate of insurance

How can I protect myself?

Most states require having a permit before performing any work on a home or building so keep this in mind before you hire to get the job completed. Also you want to make sure there’s a written contract; what the contractor will or won’t do, the contractor’s obligation to get all necessary permits, and the estimated start date etc… These documents are essential, and will help you in the long run if things get out of hand. Make sure the contractor has at least $1,000,000 in General Liability Coverage, and for exceeding risky or especially large jobs, an umbrella bringing that up to $5,000,000 may be recommended. Ask the contractor to name you as an “Additional Insured”, which will allow their insurance to pay for legal costs in the event of the claim. If subcontractors are being utilized by your contractor, their insurance should also be scrutinized – and don’t forget the Workers Compensation!

How vital is a Workers Compensation policy?

Workers Compensation is insurance that provides cash benefits and/or medical care for workers who are injured while on a job. When hiring a contractor, your home is the jobsite. Proof of Workers Compensation is essential when hiring a contractor that will be bringing workers on site! If someone were to get hurt, you don’t want to be the one in line to pay. Again, this goes for any subcontractors as well.

 

I sure hope this information was helpful to you in making the right decisions when hiring or looking for someone to do work on your home. Remember the four categories: how big is the job, what are the risks, how you can protect yourself, and the importance of Workers Compensation. This will be helpful to you in the long run, and will keep you protected during and after a construction project.

Welcome to the New & Improved Levitt-Fuirst Website and Blog!

by P. Andersen

Welcome to the New & Improved Levitt-Fuirst Website!

We have been working on updating our website for some time now, with an eye toward giving you a better understanding of our business, and offering you the tools you need to make informed risk management decisions.  The old website was useful, but didn’t grow with us over the years, and much has changed since we first brought that website live.  Today, we are a larger insurance agency, with a more diverse client base than ever before.  We have grown through referrals, through our clients growth, and through a broadening of our offerings.  Our staff has grown as well, with each experienced hire offering our clients new expertise and perspective.   All of this adds up to a better firm for you.

With these changes and growth, it was clearly time to let our website do the same.  Today, Levitt-Fuirst has several new departments, handling a broader range of client activities.  Read about all of our business and personal insurance options on the new Insurance Specialties page.  Learn about our management and sales staff on the Firm Bios page.  Learn about our partnership with JDM Associates on the Health Insurance page.

We hope you like our new website, but are always open to your thoughts and ideas.  Let us know what you think, we look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Types of Life Insurance Policies (Part II)

by O. Ritter

There are Two Basic Kinds of Life Insurance Policies: Permanent and Term Insurance.

Term Life Insurance is basic coverage that lasts for a period of time, usually 10-30 years. The ability to select a term that suits your current financial and medical needs, at a more reasonable rate, gives you a flexibility not available in the other permanent policy types. The drawback is the lack of an investment piece in the policy – when the term is up, the policy ends without any additional benefit (except that you are still alive!). It isn’t just about saving money on premiums, although affordability is a plus; remember that you get a higher death benefit per dollar spent.

For more details on term insurance please visit these useful sites from New York State Department of Financial Services, New York Life, and Prudential:

http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/cli_basic.htm

http://www.newyorklife.com/products/life-insurance-young-single-adult

http://lifeinsurance.prudential.com/view/page/iliconsumer/30454

 

Whole Life Insurance is a form of permanent life insurance that covers you for the rest of your life, as long as you’re breathing that is! Along with the death benefit, whole life insurance also has the benefit of a savings and/or investment account, and the premiums are based on your health or medical history at the time of purchase. Look at it like a two for one investment; start young, pay less, feel a sense of relief because you’re covered, and earn interest as the years pass by. To the young readers out there, stop equating life insurance as just a death benefit and start seeing it as an investment. It’s just that simple folks. For more details on whole life insurance please visit the following websites from Prudential and Money Under 30.

http://lifeinsurance.prudential.com/view/page/iliconsumer/30379

http://www.moneyunder30.com/whole-life-insurance-good-investment

 

Universal Life Insurance is a form of permanent life insurance (like Whole Life), but is also flexible (like Term Life). It offers lower premiums at the time of purchase and offers a savings element, invested to provide cash buildup. Premiums can be modified as a policy holder’s circumstances change. Universal insurance also offers protection for your family with procedures for leaving a legacy to them. This option could also be beneficial to business owners. With so many options, it is important to do your homework! For more details about Universal insurance and what it offers, visit the Prudential and Investopedia websites.

http://lifeinsurance.prudential.com/view/page/iliconsumer/30379,

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/universallife.asp

 

One last note…  Different times in your life will require more coverage than others, and several strategies can help you in addressing your evolving needs that fit within your current budget. This is why I did some digging on the many types of insurance policies that may or may not be best for you today, because tomorrow things may change. Now that you have some information of what each type of insurance offers, take time to reflect and make the best decision for you and your family.

Benefits of Buying Life Insurance When Young (Part I)

by O. Ritter, November 20, 2014

What do you know about Life Insurance? Have you considered taking out a life insurance policy? If the answer is no, let me give you a brief description of the benefits of taking out a policy and doing this while you’re young! Well, let’s just say the younger you are, the lower the price will be to insure you and let me explain why.  When you are younger, you’re typically in better health than when you’re older.  With that being said, getting lower premiums will be a much easier process and you will be able to obtain a fixed rate as long as you’re paying your premiums on time. This is just a portion of the benefits received at the time of purchase so I encourage you to keep reading on.

The cost of life insurance depends on many factors, including the type of policy, the death benefit amount, age and health at the time someone takes out a policy. By buying life insurance at a young age, it ensures that if something happens to someone’s health in the future, that person’s rates will always be based on his or her health at the time the policy was purchased,” (New York Life Insurance).

How awesome is that? Pretty awesome! For you readers out there, this is important information to know before taking out a policy so make sure you DO YOUR RESEARCH!

Lastly, let me add that my thoughts on life insurance were the same as many other young adults. I thought, “I’m 24 with limited possessions and no kids – what the heck do I need life insurance for?” In doing my research, though, I found the many benefits it offers including building cash value overtime and being able to take out the cash you need in case of emergency – even if you simply need to pay off a loan. Now, if this information about life insurance hasn’t moved you to at least consider purchasing it, then I MUST say you should still think about it or maybe even pass along the information to your family and friends. This is one investment that is worth your while. Next week I will break down the many different types of Insurance options you have to determine the type of insurance that is best for YOU!

References:

Forbes.com

Wall Street Journal Online

Snow Tires: Tis the Season

by P. Andersen, November 18, 2014

 

As the temperatures dip into the teens this week (In NOVEMBER?!?!), it is time to think about snow tires.  I know, I know, it is too soon to talk about snow tires!  Sadly, we are almost to Thanksgiving, and with the goal of keeping you from having a claim or an injury, I am standing on my soapbox and singing the praises of snow tires…

First, if you bought your car up in the northeast, you were given All-Season Tires by default.  Many people feel that their all-season tires are designed to survive winter’s wrath, but really they are designed to do everything pretty well.  Rain, not bad.  Dry, perfectly fine.  Snow?  Ummmm… Snow?  Not so good, really.  Should we have another winter like the last one, a good set of snow tires will serve you very well indeed.

Why snow tires?  First, read a basic Q&A here, at About Cars…    As you can see, snow tires are made of special rubber, they have tread designs specific to the needs of snow and ice, and they make a huge difference in your driving safety when the white stuff falls.  Even on dry pavement, the rubber is more pliable in the cold – while your all seasons get hard and brittle in the winter, snow tires stay soft and grippy.  If you need your car daily, there is no better investment in the northeast than snow tires, making your front or all wheel vehicle safe and secure as you commute.  Another benefit for those of you that have sporty cars?  You can buy summer tires for the other 3 seasons, improving your driving in wet and dry during the warmer months.

Two Options…

Option 1:  If you have a small or economy car, you likely have wheels in the 16″ – 17″ size range.  This is a good size for snow tires, so you can have them installed right on your current rims.  This requires a repair shop or tire store to do the install.  The benefits are you only have to pay for the tires and installation, the drawback is that you have to pay for that installation twice a year, as you switch between your winter and summer tires.

Option 2: Get a totally separate set of wheels with your winter tires.  You may see the term “Steelies” used for steel wheels that are often utilized for this purpose.  For those of you with performance vehicles, this option may save you some money, as winter tires for large diameter wheels are expensive and less effective.  Winter tires work well on smaller wheels, because the tire sidewalls are larger than the low profile sport tires your car likely came with.  My car, for example, has 18′ wheels with low profile tires, but I can get 16′ steelies and winter tires – and pay less for the tires.  The drawback to this option is the initial cost, as steelies run from $50 to $100 per wheel, and you may need 4 tire pressure sensors installed as well – a one-time charge, dependent on your car.  The benefit is the ease of switching the wheels between seasons yourself if you have a jack, and that you will have the wheels winter after winter.  You also save your pretty shiny wheels from the winter salt and punishing ice, making them look better for longer.

Now?  Sigh…

Now is the time!  Contact the many retailers that sell those winter tires that you need more than you realize.  You may be able to get rims off of Craig’s List, or order them online.  Store your summer tires for the year (always on their side, stacked), and enjoy the next 4 months without worry.  You won’t believe the change in your car after you make this investment!  Now drive smart, drive carefully, and get there safe.

 Check out this quick comparison of some of the major snow tire players in the market from ConsumerSearch.

Movember 2014

by Peter Andersen, November 10, 2014

Movember1

It is Movember, which means it is time for me, and many hundreds of thousands of men like me (4 Million in 2013!), to grow the much misunderstood and maligned mustache. We do it because we love the odd looks from people we don’t know, we do it for the comments of friends and loved ones that either think it is great or horrible, but mostly, we do it because it is for a good cause.  The owners of Levitt-Fuirst have always supported this endeavor, donating money to my MoSpace page each of the years I have taken part.  I appreciate their support, and hope that with each year, I find more people to support me in this endeavor.

Much like breast cancer awareness and the color pink, Movember is designed to bring awareness to men’s health issues. From testicular and prostate cancers, to mental health issues.  Movember is designed to open the eyes of the masses that men need to take better care of themselves, and to bring into the light the risks that take the lives of so many men earlier than they should.  Movember is about encouraging more men to take steps today that may allow them to live longer, happier, healthier lives.

But about the mustache…  I have to say right off the bat – I cheated. You are supposed to grow a mustache from scratch, just a clean face with no pre-growth. Me? I had a goatee, and decided to maneuver it into the standard for which I have been known for these last three Novembers. The Movember site calls it the “Trucker”, though I think of it as a Modified Zappa… Sad fact is prostate cancer took Mr. Frank Zappa’s life, at 53 years of age, so let’s call this an homage to him, in the hopes that there will be fewer prostate cancer victims in the future.

Zappa

Regardless of the name, the shape, the comments it receives, or the motivation – the goal of Movember and the 4 million mustaches continues to be bigger than the fashion statement we are or are not making… The goal is to raise awareness, increase education, improve screening, catch diseases early, and improve treatment.  That is where you come in.

I ask you to visit my MoSpace page, http://us.movember.com/mospace/4335633, and donate to this good cause. Maybe because you know someone that has fought these diseases, maybe because you are a friend of mine, maybe because you just simply want to encourage a man with a mustache. Really, does the reason matter? The results are all good.

Thanks.

Peter