Thursday, January 30, 2014

86% of Americans haven't bought life insurance

Retirement Realities



Hawkins
Insurance & Financial Services Group
Office:  2600 South Shore Blvd., Ste 300, League City,
TX 77573
Mailing:  PO Box 1140, Friendswood, TX 77549
Office:
(832)554-7388 | Mobile: (832)541-7388  |  Fax: (800) 794-9150
Company Website:
www.ryaninsuresme.com
Financial
Services Website: www.moneyconcepts.com/rhawkins


Agent License
#1567319

Your Cost of Flooding Tool

Protect your business in three easy steps

A business is only as safe as the tools it uses. One of the best tools a business can use to protect its assets is commercial auto insurance.

Understanding insurance can be tricky. One of the first steps toward making an informed decision is to understand coverage and service options. Here are three easy steps to help figure out your commercial auto insurance needs:

1. Choose an insurer with the right combination of price and service. Insurance isn’t just about price. It’s about service, too. How are claims handled? How long will it take to get your vehicle back on the road? Can you get questions answered outside of business hours or online? Know the answers to these questions. Your time is money.

2. Research your policy options. Having the right coverage is important. A standard commercial auto policy generally includes coverage for:

•injuries or damage that you cause;
•your driver’s injuries;
•injuries and damages caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers; and
•damage to or theft of your vehicle(s).

When it comes to damage that you cause, you may be required to purchase certain limits based on who you work for. For instance, if you work for certain home builders, you may be required to carry $1 million in liability limits. Consider how much you are willing to pay out of pocket if your liability in an accident is more than your policy limits.

3. Know how the policy is priced. You can control your insurance costs. To get the best rates, run motor vehicle reports on potential drivers. If you let your insurance lapse, you’ll probably pay more for your next policy. Ask about discounts, including paid-in-full and renewal discounts.

Just like your customers rely on your professional skills, call a professional independent insurance agent who will be in your corner, researching and recommending the best options.


“Commercial auto insurance is complicated, but it is vital to protecting your livelihood,” says Bill Kampf with The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, one of the largest commercial auto insurers in the country.

Seven tips from Hawkins Insurance to keep truckers safe and protected during the winter season

A carpet of fresh snow can be heartwarming when viewed from indoors in front of a roaring fireplace. But for a trucker, that beautiful landscape can mean treacherous roadways. 

To prepare for brutal winter weather, here are a few tips from Bill Kampf, Progressive Commercial Auto general manager, to help protect against harm to you or your truck this season:

1.  Pull together a winter survival kit for yourself… – Make sure your truck is fully stocked with everything you might need so a stall-out or breakdown doesn’t leave you stranded.  Key items to include: a shovel, battery booster cables, ice scraper/snow brush, flashlight with extra batteries, and a space blanket to help prevent heat loss from a person’s body.  Additional items might include extra pairs of dry socks and gloves, energy bars or other non-perishable food, bottled water and spare fully-charged cell phone batteries. 

2.  …AND your truck – Before the cold weather hits, equip your truck with new winter windshield wiper blades as well as winterized washer fluid and fuel. Also make sure that your tires, headlights, cooling system and battery are all in good shape. With all of these precautions, both you and your vehicle will be ready for any snow, hail, black ice or below freezing temperature that you might face out on the open road.

3. Slow down – Give yourself more time to react if something occurs in the road ahead. Compensate for poor traction by driving slower and making all changes slowly and gently.

4. Give yourself extra space in front and behind - To stay out of harm's way in a sudden emergency, increase the distance between you and other vehicles and avoid driving in packs. Normal following distances should be increased to 8-10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces.
Look further ahead in traffic than normal to get a split-second extra to react safely. Awareness of other drivers can go a long way this time of year.

5.  Keep an eye on the temperature – Be alert to potentially dangerous road conditions. Touch the front of your outside mirror to see if ice is forming. If it’s forming on your mirrors, it’s forming on the road too. Be especially cautious when crossing bridges and overpasses where ice often forms first.

6. Check your favorite station - Listen to the weather forecast before you leave town. If travel seems hazardous, postpone your run.

7.  Be ready for the unexpected – No matter how cautious you are, you still need a safety net on the road. Specialized insurance coverages and services designed specifically for truck owners and operators are offered by commercial insurers like Progressive.

Check with your insurance company to see what they offer.  Make sure your policy has tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of you and your business, including:

o   Cargo Coverage to protect against damage or loss due to theft, fire, collision and hitting or running over cargo. Progressive’s Cargo Coverage includes no co-insurance penalty, no exclusion of coverage if a vehicle is left unattended, and no reduction in coverage limits for items such as electronic equipment.

o   Roadside Assistance that provides 24/7 towing, battery jump-starts, tire changes, emergency fuel delivery, locksmith service and on-scene labor.

o   Rental Reimbursement to pay for a replacement vehicle following a covered claim.

Bottom line: make sure you and your vehicle are safe and covered, even during the coldest and most treacherous winter months.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Save on Commercial Insurance in the off-season

Ever mowed a lawn in January? Or plowed a snowy driveway on a hot July day? If you own and operate a seasonal business, chances are you aren't working in the off-season, so the insurance you carry should be different than what you carry in-season.
Leading commercial auto insurers like Progressive offer seasonal insurance for businesses like landscapers, snowplow drivers, ice cream truck owners, and more. These coverages allow you to customize your commercial auto insurance based on when your business is running on all cylinders — and when it's not.
Progressive offers these tips for getting the most out of your policy in the off-season:
  • If your vehicle will be parked during the off-season, you may think you should cancel that vehicle's insurance during that time. But if you’d like to protect your vehicle and still save a little money, just switch your insurance to a Comprehensive-only policy. This will give you basic protection against incidents like vandalism, theft, falling tree branches and hail.

    A Comprehensive-only policy also gives you the bonus of having continuous insurance coverage. If you drop your insurance completely, you may pay significantly more to get a new policy when in-season rolls around because most insurance companies want to see proof of continuous coverage.

  • If you plan to drive your work truck or other vehicles for personal use during the off-season, let your insurance carrier know. They can adjust your policy to reflect personal use, which can be less expensive while still providing coverage.

Claims handling capability is the most important feature we sell our commercial customers. Progressive consistently proves superior at settling commercial claims quickly. Call Hawkins Insurance at 832.554.7388 for a free quote on your commercial vehicles today.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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Progressive Heavy Trucks Story

National Survey Finds Many Consumers Are Making Costly Insurance Mistakes

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 19, 2013—A new national survey reveals consumers have an alarming lack of knowledge about their own insurance coverage. As the new year approaches, Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) say consumers should resolve to get their insurance coverage in order. 
 
The independent survey conducted for Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” found that more than one-third, an alarming 38% of respondents, said they have never conducted their own research prior to purchasing an insurance policy. Almost 40% of respondents said they were not confident or only somewhat confident that they have adequate and appropriate insurance coverage for their needs.
 
“It’s critical that consumers understand the basics of protecting their family, home and property,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “This survey shows that many Americans may not even realize they are vulnerable to serious losses. A lot can happen in a year. The start of a new year is a perfect time to dust off your insurance policies and review them thoroughly.”  
 
Since there are so many types of insurance available today, consumers should sit down with a reputable insurance professional to help sort through the confusion. The new survey also found that more than one-third of policyholders have not met with or even talked to their insurance agent within the last year.
 
“Keeping your agent updated on changes in your family or to your property is crucial to your financial security,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, research and education. “A new baby, marriage, divorce, death, home renovation or a major purchase could significantly impact your insurance needs and costs.”  
 
This broad lack of understanding can lead to serious and expensive insurance coverage mistakes. Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents identify the following as some of the most common errors they see.
 
Mistake 1: Not Knowing Your Limits. 
 
Trusted Choice® agents report that too many customers don’t know the limits of their insurance coverage and don’t understand how inexpensive it can be to increase them. This is especially true regarding liability coverage. 
 
“The limits of your policy dictate how much coverage you actually have,” explains Rusbuldt. “For example, an independent agent can increase the liability limits on a typical homeowners policy from $100,000 to $300,000 a year for as little as about $25 annually.” Not enough consumers have separate umbrella liability policies which can provide $1,000,000 of protection a year for as little as $130.
 
In fact, the new survey says only 29% of respondents considered coverage limits, or the amount of coverage, the most important criteria when selecting an insurance policy. Your coverage limits deserve a closer look.
 
Mistake 2: Disregarding Discounts.
 
A previous study by Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” showed that many consumers don’t take advantage of all the discounts that may be available to them.
 
“Many consumers foolishly throw money away because they fail to ask about insurance discounts for which they may qualify,” continued Flannagan. “Companies often offer some unique, regional, very specific and, at times, quirky discounts. When every dollar counts, some may be able to nickel and dime their way to big savings.”
 
Companies often have discounts on homeowners insurance for installing a security system, living in a gated community, updating the roof and/or wiring in a house, and remaining claim-free. Some of the more unusual discounts on auto insurance include discounts for teen drivers with good grades, graduating from certain colleges or universities, or carpooling. In addition, many companies are offering significant new discounts within the last five years that consumers may be unaware of. Check with your agent to see if any apply to you. These discounts can make a substantial difference in premium costs.
 
Mistake 3: You Can’t Take It With You: Consider Insurance in Estate Planning. 
 
While your family gathers together for the holidays, it may be a good time to discuss your estate and final wishes. 
 
Many people put their homes in trusts as part of their estate planning but fail to tell the agent that the trust owns the home. In those cases, the home is no longer insured since the owner is not on the policy. This can create major problems at the time of a claim. 
 
Also, in order to avoid a larger estate tax bite, people sometimes don’t list valuables or collectibles as part of their estate. But these items require special coverage beyond a standard homeowners policy, or they won’t be insured.  If there is a loss on these items, your heirs won’t be compensated and will be deprived of part of the gift you intend to make to them. Making certain that everything is properly documented--and insured--is crucial to guaranteeing that your final wishes are executed after your death.
 
Mistake 4: Not Assessing Your Biggest Asset.
 
Too often, people do not properly protect their biggest asset—their home! That leaves them vulnerable to devastating losses. This is particularly true with regard to a change of occupancy. Selling, renting or leaving your home for an extended period directly changes the terms and conditions of your coverage. When there is a loss, your insurance company can deny the claim because you are no longer in control of what happens to your home. That could cost you everything. Homeowners should check with an agent to learn the time limit on vacancy or change of occupancy before it alters or cancels the terms of the policy. 
 
In addition, not having certain specialty coverage could cost homeowners dearly. Failure to purchase sewer and drain back up insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, ordinance or law coverage, or to adjust coverage as property improvements are made could have detrimental consequences in the event of a disaster. Keep your agent apprised of any and all changes regarding your home, no matter how minor they seem. 
 
Mistake 5: Taking the Cheapest Route. 
 
The survey found that 25% of respondents thought price was the most important criteria when selecting an insurance policy. While price should be a factor in insurance decisions, choosing coverage based on price alone could ultimately be a costly mistake.  Insurance policies differ widely, with varying deductibles, coverage limits and exclusions. Alarmingly, about 61% of survey respondents said they were only somewhat familiar or not familiar with the details of their insurance policies.
 
A Trusted Choice® agent can help you choose the coverage that best suits you and can help you evaluate your insurance needs.  
            
The survey was conducted for Trusted Choice® via telephone by International Communications Research (ICR); an independent research company in Media, Pa. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 930 U.S. households were conducted in November 2013. More information about ICR can be obtained at http://www.icrsurvey.com.
 
For more information on the survey results, costly insurance mistakes or to request an interview with a national spokesperson or local insurance agent in your area, please contact Sue Nester (broadcast), (703) 706-5448,susan.nester@iiaba.net or Margarita Tapia (print) at (703) 706-5374, margarita.tapia@iiaba.net.
 
Trusted Choice® educates consumers about the benefits of using independent agents and brokers for their insurance needs: choice of companies, customized policies and advocacy support. Trusted Choice® is the consumer marketing identity for more than 25,000 independent insurance agencies and brokerage firms and 70 leading company partners. For more information or to find a Trusted Choice® agent, go to www.TrustedChoice.com.
 
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of approximately a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address:www.independentagent.com.
 

Why counseling your customers on their policies might be more important than ever

A recent study of 930 U.S. households conducted for Trusted Choice by International Communications Research showed that “almost forty percent of respondents are not confident or only somewhat confident, that they have adequate and appropriate insurance coverage for their needs.” This lack of knowledge of insurance coverage may result in consumers making five common mistakes and having inadequate coverage.
Trusted Choice independent insurance agents identify the following five “mistakes” as some of the more common errors they see:
1. Not knowing your limits
2. Disregarding discounts
3. Consider insurance in estate planning
4. Not assessing your biggest asset
5. Taking the cheapest route
The survey also showed that more than one third of policyholders haven’t met with or talked to their insurance agent within the last year. With the New Year in full swing, don’t forget to take advantage of the opportunity to counsel your customers on new and renewal policies.
- Refresh your memory with our product guides to ensure you’re offering the best possible discounts to your customers.
- ReQuote customers or prospects to see if you can offer them better rates than you’d previously quoted
- CrossSell current customers and increase retention by up to 30 percent

Senate acts on bill to delay flood insurance hikes....Senate advances bill to delay flood insurance premium hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bipartisan legislation that would delay flood insurance premium hikes for hundreds of thousands of people living in coastal and low-lying areas cleared its first hurdle in the Senate on Monday.
The 86-13 vote demonstrated that the measure had filibuster-proof support in the chamber, which was likely to pass it in a few days.
The legislation would delay for up to four years premium increases set to phase in next year on homeowners facing whopping premium increases under new flood maps and would allow homeowners with subsidized insurance policies to pass them on to people who buy their homes.
The higher premiums were the result of changes made to the federal flood insurance program less than two years ago — widely praised as long-overdue reforms of the program — that were designed to make it more financially stable and bring insurance rates more in line with the real risk of flooding.
The White House Monday evening issued an official policy statement that failed to endorse the legislation. "Delaying implementation of these reforms would further erode" the program's financial position, the statement said. But it urged relief for economically distressed policyholders.
But the new rates have caused sticker shock for hundreds of thousands of people who could face big premium jumps as flood maps are updated in coming years. And the loss of subsidies when homes are sold has put a damper on the real estate market and threatened home values. Homeowners are seeing estimates that in many cases would force premium hikes of 10 times or more as their homes are judged to be at greater risk of flooding.
"It's had a significant impact in the flood-prone areas," said Ken Baris, a real estate agent in West Orange, N.J. "There's lots of people who are seeing their equity being eaten up."
But Egon Kahl, an agent on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, which was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, said the real estate market there was humming.
Other reforms, including higher premiums for frequently-flooded properties and on 1.7 million second homes would remain in place.
Clearing the first Senate hurdle put the bill on track for Senate action later in the week. Its future in the House was uncertain at best. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, opposes the Senate bill but was holding the door open to a more modest measure that would leave more of the 2012 overhaul in place.
At issue is the federal flood insurance program that was established in 1968 and has incurred big losses, most recently with Sandy in 2012. It is more than $24 billion in debt to taxpayers for losses from big storms like Sandy and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The 2012 overhaul of the program made several changes to the program, which helps 5.6 million policyholders, 20 percent of whom receive subsidized policies for older homes built before communities joined the flood insurance program. Owners of second homes, frequently-flooded properties and businesses in flood areas would gradually lose their subsidies and pay 25 percent more a year until they reach an actuarially sound rate. Others get to keep their subsidies but can't pass them on when selling their homes.
The 2012 law also phases out below-market rates for owners of "grandfathered" properties — those that were built in compliance under earlier flood risk estimates but whose flood risks have increased under new maps. Those homeowners would see their flood risks re-estimated and would see higher rates phased in over five years. Other homeowners, whose premiums currently subsidize those with grandfathered rates, could see their rates go down.
Opponents of Monday's legislation said it would effectively gut the 2012 measure. The Congressional Budget Office said the legislation, co-sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., would mean the reduced premiums paid for flood insurance program by $2 billion over the coming decade. The program takes in about $3.5 billion a year.
"As a practical matter, it dispenses with the reforms," said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who wants to offer an amendment that would phase in premium increases more gradually
"It may be politically expedient and popular locally to delay map modernization or delay rate increases. But what may make good local politics generally makes bad insurance policy — and by extension with federal flood insurance — bad public policy," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group. "People deserve to know the cost and risks of where they live. And taxpayers deserve to have those who choose to live in harm's way pick up their share of the tab."
The 2012 overhaul swept through with near-unanimous support but its implementation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency has come under assault.