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With colleges starting back up, maybe you have a child returning to school or leaving for the first time. You’ve got the twin XL sheets, the posters and the textbooks. Did you know that you also might need insurance for your college student?

Auto Insurance

If you already have auto insurance for your child’s car (and you should!), don’t cancel it if they are not taking their vehicle to college with them. There is a chance your auto insurance premiums could actually drop significantly if your child moves more than 100 miles from home. Most importantly, your child will still be covered when they return home and drive their vehicle. If they do take their vehicle off to college, thankfully they should still be covered under your policy. However your premiums may change depending on where your child is living during college – especially if they go out of state. 

Renters Insurance 

The good news is that if your child will be living in on-campus dorms or other university sponsored housing, their possessions should remain covered under your homeowners insurance. It’s important to note that the coverage limits may be different, so be sure to thoroughly discuss everything with your insurance agent before your child leaves. 

If your child will be living off-campus, their possessions will no longer be covered under your homeowners policy, and you will need to purchase a separate renters insurance policy to cover their items. A renters policy can protect your child’s expensive electronics such as a laptop or TV as well as other high value items like musical equipment or instruments. Like your homeowners insurance, your child’s renters policy also covers their insured possessions whether they’re inside your child’s living quarters or not. 

Health Insurance 

Although your child is eligible to remain on your own health insurance plan until they turn 26, there are still some things to consider when they leave for college. If your child will be living out of state during the school season and is not willing or able to return home for doctors’ visits, they may struggle with finding in-network providers. With the exception of emergencies, many health policies offer limited or no coverage for out of network providers. Before you make any moves, check with your child’s school to see if there are any in-network providers close to campus. 

If there are not, you have two options. First, you can have your child knock out all necessary medical appointments before leaving for school and schedule future appointments to coincide with breaks. If you do want the peace of mind that good coverage offers, look into supplementing your child’s health coverage with a student health insurance policy. Coverage may also be available through their college or your child could purchase their own coverage in the health insurance market. 

Sending your child off to college is an exciting time, whether they are a freshman or a fifth-year senior. Make sure your student has all the protection they need by utilizing the right insurance tools. 

Millennials (young people born between 1981 and 1996) are now reaching a place in their lives where they have to start making important financial decisions, such as when to buy a house or have children. With the average amount of millennial debt rising, it is becoming more difficult for young people to build up savings. That is why it is incredibly important that millennials make the investment in insurance. If the unexpected occurs, many uninsured or underinsured millennials will be without any safety net to help them recover.

Part of the problem with people of this age being uninsured or underinsured is simply a lack of information. So, for any millennials reading, here are 4 practical insurance tips for you. 

Work with an Independent Agent – Not Google

What do you do when you need to do something difficult for the first time? You go to an expert! For many people, this expert is Google. But there is a lot of misinformation out there, and millennials know more than anyone that you can’t trust everything you read online. Millennials are smart – there is no doubt about that. However, many do not realize what kind of insurance they may need, or just how important it is, so they don’t have all the coverage they should. This is a big mistake, especially for those who are starting families or building a business. An independent insurance agent is a friend in the business who can guide you in the best course of action. Sure, you could buy insurance online, but you may not get the best rates. The job of an independent agent is to do the hard work of finding the best possible coverage for the lowest possible price tag. This means less stress on you and more time to spend doing the things you love! 

Stop Worrying So Much About the Price Tag 

We get it. Many millennials have a lot of expenses, and it can sometimes feel like you are living paycheck to paycheck. How much do you think insurance costs per month? Whatever number you are holding in your head, there’s a good chance the true number is lower. There are also a lot of discounts that are available if you perform certain behaviors. Yes, this often means “adulting” things. Your agent is your resource for this kind of information, so don’t be shy about asking what kind of discounts are available.

Cover Your Gaps to Protect Your Valuables 

Again, this is where the advice and expertise of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. While it’s true that your possessions are covered under your homeowners or renters insurance, you may have items that require higher limits to be properly covered. This could be an engagement ring or other high-value jewelry, musical instruments or equipment, sporting equipment, expensive electronics, or other items of value. Your agent can advise you on adding additional coverage for these type of items. 

Don’t Shoot Down Life Insurance 

You may think you are too young to purchase life insurance at this age, but that simply is not true. Your 20s and 30s is actually the ideal age to buy a life insurance policy, because you will likely receive much better rates now when you are young and healthy than you will later in life. Life insurance is designed to provide a financial net for expenses you leave in the event of your death. We know it’s probably crazy to think about, but life insurance is designed to protect against the unthinkable, and just because it’s difficult to think about does not mean it isn’t necessary. 

If you are a millennial who needs a guide in purchasing your own insurance for the first time, we can help! As independent agents, we will be on your side – not the side of the insurance companies. This means you can trust us to act in your best interest. Get in touch today!

Experiencing a car accident is stressful enough on its own. Add to that the possibility of medical bills, car repair bills, and the cost of renting a vehicle while yours is in the shop, and you’ll definitely feel overwhelmed. However, with rental car assistance or reimbursement, you may not have to worry too much about the latter. Here are 5 things you need to know about getting a rental car after an accident. 

It’s Not a Guarantee

Your ability to get a rental vehicle while yours undergoes repairs depends on a few different factors. First, do you even have this add-on in your policy? The add on that allows you to get coverage for a rental vehicle after an accident is called rental reimbursement coverage, and as an optional coverage, it is not automatically included in your auto insurance. However just because it’s optional does not mean you should go without it. 

Second, who was at fault for the accident? If it was deemed to be you, see the paragraph above. If you are not at fault, you will be dealing with the other driver’s insurance provider to handle the claim. The other driver’s insurance provider should give you a rental car that is comparable to the one that was damaged in the accident. 

The Loss Must Be a Covered Loss 

Rental reimbursement coverage cannot be used if your vehicle is in the shop for routine maintenance or any cosmetic work such as paint or other voluntary modifications. Even if it is in the shop for a few days, you cannot apply for rental reimbursement coverage in this instance. You also cannot utilize the coverage if you are taking a trip and renting a vehicle – unless you are renting a vehicle because your own is being repaired after an accident. As long as the loss is being covered by your auto insurance, you are free to use your rental reimbursement coverage. 

It’s Not as Expensive as You Think 

Car rental company Enterprise reported that the average American drives 3-4 different places per day, and the average length of time for a vehicle repair is two weeks. Renting a vehicle can cost upwards of $300 a week, depending on the size. However, a year of rental reimbursement coverage usually costs less than a single day of a rental car payment. Although there are limits, in the long run the benefits truly outweigh the costs.

When you’re a first time home buyer, you might be expecting the process to be more glamorous and exciting than it is in reality. Now, buying your first home is certainly an exciting event, but glamorous? Last time we checked, there wasn’t much glamor about paperwork… If you’re like most people, you will work with a mortgage lender to purchase your new home. Therefore process of closing on your home will involve an almost overwhelming amount of paperwork and finances, but this is a good thing. It ensures that your investment is made with all the right t’s crossed and i’s dotted. However there is one important thing you must do before you can close on your home, and that’s purchasing homeowners insurance.

Why Homeowners Insurance?

Would it surprise you to learn that purchasing homeowners insurance coverage is a requirement for closing on a home, if you finance through a lender? That’s right. Lenders require you to have home insurance for at least a year in order to allow you to close on your home. The thinking behind this is that by lending you the funds to buy a house, your lender needs an assurance from you that they are not going to suffer a huge loss if something happens to your new home. You see, that new home is an investment for both you and your lender, and when left uninsured, your home is a huge liability for your lender. This is why they usually will not agree to giving you a loan until you have proved that you have homeowners insurance in place.

What Will You Need to Bring?

It is common practice for lenders to ask you to bring your homeowners insurance binder with you to the closing meeting. The binder acts as definitive proof from your insurer that your home and its contents are covered under a policy. Some lenders may accept a photocopy of your insurance documents or a letter from your insurer.

How Do You Know Which Insurer to Choose?

This is where the assistance of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. Just like shopping around for a mortgage lender is a smart idea, shopping around for the best homeowners insurance is also a smart practice. But with your busy life, you probably don’t have time to shop the insurance market. Work with a dedicated independent insurance agent, and they will shop the market for you to find the best policy and most competitive rates.

School’s out, the sun’s out, and pretty soon you might be out of town! As you’re packing for your summer vacation, insurance is probably the last thing on your mind. You’re probably thinking about what clothes to bring, whether you need both your phone and tablet, or trying to dig out the snowboard you haven’t used in months. However as with every big moment in life, there are always insurance considerations to keep in mind.

Property Damage

This can come in two forms – damage or loss of your own property or damage to others property. In the first instance, the same homeowners or renters insurance that covers your personal property against theft, vandalism, or some acts of nature when you’re at home also covers your possessions you take with you on vacation. This is especially important for more expensive items such as electronics, jewelry, or even sporting equipment you take on vacation. On the flip side, this coverage also ensures you are safeguarded against any loss that happens to the property you left behind when you’re away from home. The important thing to note for this kind of coverage is that your policy must have certain limits of coverage in order to protect everything you want protected.

The other way in which your insurance can protect you in the case of property damage while you’re on vacation applies to the property of others. This is especially important if you’re renting a house or condo and end up breaking or damaging the property itself or something inside it. This type of coverage is called your personal liability policy, and if you cause damage in the place you’re vacationing, you may be covered by it.

Medical Emergencies

This one depends on where you are vacationing. In the case of medical emergencies inside the U.S., you should not encounter many obstacles regarding your insurance coverage extending to other in-network hospitals. You should expect to pay rates similar to what you’d pay at home. However, depending on your policy you may not be covered if you visit an out-of-network hospital in another city or state. It is best to know up front before you embark on your journey – for this you will speak to your insurance agent. You should also put “insurance card” on your packing list, if you don’t already carry it with you at all times (which you should!). Your home doctor may also offer “tele” services – meaning he or she can diagnose you over phone or video chat, and you get to stay in network no matter where you are in the country.

If you’re traveling out of the country, you may be surprised to learn that your coverage is more than you expected. Again, this is an instance in which it is most appropriate to speak to your agent before your trip to find out exactly what the out-of-pocket expenses would be for medical care abroad. Keep in mind this only applies to medical emergencies, not elective procedures.

The most important thing is to notify your insurance agent that you’ll be traveling, and to ask them if there are any updates needed to your policies. With an independent insurance agent on your side, you’ll have a friend to help you properly prepare for this exciting upcoming trip.

When you think of “workplace culture,” you probably picture casual Fridays or volunteering as a group. Having a positive workplace culture is certainly something that benefits businesses and helps with employee retention. But what some people forget about is that a “culture of safety” is an equally important type of workplace culture.

What Is a Culture of Safety?

Essentially what this phrase means is the attitude of all members of a company – from the bottom to the top – towards safety in the workplace. Cultures of safety can be positive or negative. In a negative culture of safety, workers, managers, and anyone in between do not respect the recommended safety measures. As a result, more accidents happen in a workplace with a negative safety culture. In a positive safety culture, everyone respects and obeys the safety rules and regulations without complaint, and less accidents and workers compensation claims happen. So how do you create a culture of safety in your business? Here are some helpful tips.

Engage in Continued Education

Safety meetings are a great occasion to maintain your employees’ safety education. It’s normal for people to forget what they learned the first week on the job in orientation safety training. If your employees’ work includes a significant physical aspect, the safety meetings are a great opportunity to review proper physical operations such as how to lift heavy objects or how to safely operate large machinery and equipment.

Look Into Near Misses

It may not have actually hurt anyone or resulted in a workers comp claim, but a near miss could be a full on accident next time. If an almost-accident occurs, put on an investigation to look into its cause and determine what could have prevented it. Then observe these new safety practices to reduce the possibility of that near miss becoming something more serious.

Reward Employee Reporting

In a positive safety culture, employees feel comfortable reporting safety concerns or hazards to management. Going along with this, the management must take the reports seriously and work to correct the situation. It can be important to reward employees who step forward about concerns they see on the ground, Often, these individuals are in the best position to notice safety hazards and as such should be listened to as a valuable safety resource.

Every business should work to create a positive safety culture, but accidents may still happen. Ensure your operation has the best insurance coverage to reduce losses in the event of an unfortunate accident or injury. Talk to your agent today to make sure your business is protected.

Mornings are difficult, aren’t they? You’re rushing to get showered and dressed – and if you have kids, to get them up, showered, and dressed – and you have to make it to work on time! With everything going on, stopping and making breakfast is not on your to-do list. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But do you really know what skipping breakfast does to your body? Here are the reasons why you need to kick the habit of kicking breakfast to the curb.

Your Brain Slows Down

It’s not just the Monday morning blues. It seems like every time you get to work and start your day, you simply can’t focus. When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar drops, and the glucose that your brain needs to function at top capacity is nowhere to be found. There are plenty of studies that have proven that both adults and children perform better at work or school after they’ve started their day with a balanced breakfast.

Your Mood Drops

Another way that missing breakfast affects your brain is by affecting your dopamine and serotonin levels – the chemicals in your brain that regulate mood. You might have heard of the phrase “hangry” – a combination of “hungry” and “angry.” No one wants to be known as the hangry person in the office! Aside from the chemical effects, hunger can also cause headaches and tiredness, which further bring down your mood.

You’re at Greater Risk for Health Problems

You might think skipping breakfast is harmless, but studies have shown that regularly missing “the most important meal of the day” can increase your likelihood of diabetes and heart disease. The reason behind this is that skipping your first meal after a night of fasting (as you sleep) causes extra stress in the body that can lead to insulin resistance and plaque buildup.

Adopting better wellness habits such as eating breakfast every day is one of the best things you can do for your overall health – mental and physical. By taking good care of yourself, you increase your happiness, lengthen your lifespan, and can be there for your loved ones longer. Not only that, your insurance rates may be lowered as well! Start tomorrow – the most important meal of the day may save your life.

It can be a glorious feeling to ride with the wind in your face and the sun on your back, but the fun can turn deadly in an instant if riders do not take the proper precautions. Motorcycle riders are overrepresented in traffic accident fatalities. Take the right precautions every time you ride your bike in order to protect yourself, your passengers, and your fellow drivers. Since May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we put together some guidelines to help riders stay safe every time you start up your engines.

Check Your Bike Before Every Ride

Before you get on the road, it is important to check that every aspect of your bike is safe and operational. This is especially vital for those who only use their motorcycle occasionally, but full time riders would do well to follow a strict safety routine as well. Always be sure to check for gas or oil leaks, test headlights and turn signals, brakes and fluid levels, and examine tires before you ride off. If you have a passenger, remind them to keep their feet on the foot rests at all times and to keep a tight hold on your hips, waist, or belt.

Protect Your Body Properly

You must always – ALWAYS – wear a helmet when you ride your motorcycle. There are no exceptions to this rule! NHTSA recommends wearing a helmet that meets DOT, Snell, or ANSI standards – these have been tested and certified to ensure maximum protection. There should be a label indicating certification on either the exterior or interior of the helmet. It is most important to protect your head, but the rest of your body needs protection as well. Cover your arms and legs with a tough material such as leather or heavy denim, and wear the right gloves and boots.

Don’t Take Risks on the Road

Many crashes involving motorcycles happen because a vehicle driver simply did not see the bike on the road. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times, leave ample room between your bike and other vehicles, and remain on the defensive when there are other drivers around you. Always obey traffic laws. Just because your bike is small and can move differently than a standard passenger vehicle, it does not mean you have an excuse to do whatever you please on the road. Following speed limits and traffic laws helps keep not only you, but also your fellow citizens safe.

Don’t Drink and Ride

It is never safe to use alcohol or drugs before driving a motorcycle. Just like driving a car, boat, or other craft, driving a motorcycle while impaired will seriously impact your ability to operate the bike, make decisions, and react to dangers. According to a 2017 study by NHTSA, 28% of motorcycle drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were under the influence of alcohol. Do not ride your bike if you know you’re going to be drinking. It is never worth it to risk your life.

Having the right insurance also protects you as a motorcycle driver. Speak to your agent about motorcycle coverage and stay safe every time you ride.

You purchase homeowners insurance to protect your greatest investment against damages that are out of your control. Most often, this means emergencies or acts of nature – forces you cannot control. What can you control? How you maintain your own home. This is why homeowners insurance is unlikely to cover claims you make that turn out to be due to wear and tear.

What Constitutes Wear and Tear?

Wear and tear is generally considered to be gradual damage that happens to a home over time, as the years and the elements take their toll. In some situations, wear and tear is unavoidable as a home ages. However to most insurers, there are certain failures and property damage that can be avoided if a homeowner performs the proper routine maintenance to their home. Common instances of wear and tear include roof leaks, slow leaking pipes, and mechanical breakdowns of appliances, among others.

Why Isn’t Wear and Tear Covered?

When homeowners adopt an insurance policy on their home, it is understood that there is an agreement between the homeowner and the insurer. This agreement asks that the homeowner keep up with regular, expected maintenance and repairs on their home, and the insurance will be there if an unexpected loss occurs. The insurer expects the homeowner to prevent any negligence that could cause property damage. The wear and tear exclusions arise from an understanding of the basic responsibilities of all homeowners. The exclusions keep insurers from being liable in situations where the damage is actually due to the insured’s failure to repair, replace, or maintain the aspects of their property that need work.

How to Avoid Claims That Get Denied

As far as wear and tear goes, it is pretty simple: maintain your home and do not delay if you notice an issue. If you notice a leak, do not wait a few months to report it to your insurance agent. This is the first thing you should do, and in the event that it’s not covered, get right to fixing the issue. Do not wait to tackle anything that needs repairing or replacing. Small fixes can seem like a large financial burden in the moment, but in the event of a large scale failure, you could be left responsible for a large bill of repairs if your insurance claim is denied due to evidence of wear and tear. In the case of mechanical breakdowns of appliances, you would be better off seeking coverage through a home warranty rather than home insurance, which will often exclude these appliances from coverage.

Utilize Your Resources

Your agent is available to answer any of your questions or concerns regarding coverage on your home and property. Give the Carnal Roberts Agency a call as soon as possible if you notice a concern in your home!

April is distracted driving awareness month in the insurance world, and we at the Carnal Roberts Agency wanted to bring a different side of this topic to light on our blog this month. If you know the dangers of distracted driving, you avoid it. However as many of us know, you can’t control the actions of other people on the road. Here are a few useful tips for spotting – and avoiding – distracted drivers around you.

If You See a Driver Holding a Device, Get Away

Although in many states it is illegal to use handheld devices while driving, people will still do it anyway and make no effort to hide it. These people may have a phone held in front of their face, or they could be looking down. In either case it isn’t difficult to spot this distracted driver. If you see someone engaging in this kind of behavior in a car near you, the best thing to do is safely figure out how to get away. This could mean slowing down, changing lanes, or any other maneuver you feel you can safely perform. Do not let the distracted driver distract you, but do remove yourself from their path.

Watch for Swerving, Pausing, and Sudden Braking

You’re driving along and the car in front of you begins to waver back and forth across the lines. It could be accidental, but it is likely a sign of a distracted driver. It’s incredibly important to always leave plenty of space between your car and other cars, since the situation can turn dangerous in an instant if a car you’re too close to has a mishap. Similarly, be on the lookout for any car that lags behind after the light turns green. This is typically a sign that the driver’s eyes are not on the road, and this is a car you will want to avoid. Another common sign is if a car brakes suddenly to avoid hitting the car in front of them. This means they weren’t looking and did not notice the other cars slowing down. It can be difficult to avoid being rear ended by one of these distracted drivers, but always be on the lookout.

Practice and Encourage Distracted Driving Awareness

According to the CDC, nine people every day are killed in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving. Talk to your friends and family members (not just your children because adults drive distracted, too) about the dangers of distracted driving and how anyone can spot and avoid it on the road. Set an example for others by modeling safe driving practices yourself. You never know what can happen in a single instant.