Personal Insurance

Going Green for St. Patrick's Day

If you’re anything like me, you love any reason to celebrate your heritage. With mine being Irish, I have St. Patrick’s Day festivities lined up every year. However, even if you’re not Irish, you can still take the opportunity to be green and get a little “Luck of the Irish” during this St. Patty’s Day! At my home, we don’t just wear green, we try our best to “Go Green”! Here are some tips for going green at your home to take your St. Patty’s day to the next level.  

Adjust your heating system.

If you are able to handle your temperature at a few degrees warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter, your system won’t have to work as hard and will be more energy efficient.

Upgrade windows and doors.

This is where a lot of heat and air can easily escape. Even if your windows are still in good shape, you can still do an upgrade by checking your window seals. They can wear down over time and replacing your seals can be an easier (and less expensive) alternative.

Fill your dishes and laundry with a full load.

This will do wonders to save on water consumption and save some green in your pocket!

Keep your air conditioning and heating system maintained and start thinking about replacing it after 15 years and about 10 years for your water heater.

When you are upgrading your system, check out the most energy efficient models. They can save you money over the long run and it’s a great way to “Go Green”.

Turn off electronics, lights, and appliances when you are not using them.

This will help save the planet and money.

Add more insulation to your home.

Your HVAC system may be working harder than necessary because of lack of insulation. You can always improve efficiency by adding some extra insulation to your home.

Recycle.

Many trash carriers in the area offer recycling service included in the trash service or for a little extra. You can even create bins in your own home for free and take to many area drop-off recycle locations!

Plant trees.

I heard recently that within 5 years of planting trees and plants to add shade the area around your energy bill could see a 3% savings and by 15 years you could see a savings of 12% on energy. Now, that’s saving some green!

Going green can be especially easy this year with these tips! Encourage your friends and family to do it too by sharing this article. It might save you a pinch or two in the future!

As always, reach out to your Bouchard agent if you have any questions about how we can help with your insurance or share more tips on “Going Green”.

Here are a couple of fun little Irish quotes to help guide you into St Patrick’s Day holiday:

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance!” – George Bernard Shaw. 

“God then made man. The Italians for their beauty. The French for their cuisine. The Welsh for their voices. The Germans for their cars. And on and on until He looked at what He had created and said, ‘This is all very well, but no-one is having fun. I'll have to make an Irishman.’" - Unknown.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christin Snow is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Christin is experienced in all lines of personal insurance. | Connect on LinkedIn

Auto Insurance: Easier Than Your March Madness Bracket

2019 is in full swing and we're a few weeks out from the start of March Madness, the three weeks of college basketball glory! Office and neighborhood pool registrations are open and you're gearing up to make your picks and set your bracket. Completing a bracket takes time and careful thought, but completing the perfect bracket is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance. On average, there is an auto accident in the U.S. every 4.6 seconds. Making sure you are covered against these odds is much easier than picking your March Madness bracket.

Your auto insurance breaks down into three major sections: liability coverage if you cause an accident, medical coverage for yourself and passengers, and physical damage for your vehicle.

Bodily Injury Liability coverage protects you for any bodily harm or death of another party involved in an accident that you may be liable for. The average liability cost of an accident with a non-disabling injury is $21,000. The average for an accident resulting in a disabling injury is $61,600, and expenses can climb over $1 million for fatal accidents. These figures include lost wages, medical expense, and vehicle damage.

Property Damage Liability covers you for any damage to another parties' property that you may cause with your covered vehicle. This includes, but is not limited to, another vehicle, personal belongings, bicycles, mailboxes, and telephone poles. The state of Florida requires that you carry Property Damage Liability on any motor vehicle tagged and registered for road use.

There is coverage available on your auto insurance that will cover to pay for medical expenses and lost wages for you. Personal Injury Protection, also commonly referred to as PIP, is that coverage. Like Property Damage Liability, PIP is a required coverage by the state for any registered motor vehicle. PIP is a $10,000 limit that will be the first coverage to pay for your medical expense if you're involved in an accident, no matter who is at fault. PIP claims are required to be filed within 14 days of an accident to receive the full benefit.

Uninsured or Under-Insured Motorist (UM) coverage is one of the most important coverages you can have. This coverage will reimburse you for medical expenses and lost wages you may incur from a not-at-fault accident where the at-fault party does not have liability insurance or enough liability insurance to cover their liable expense. This is crucial as medical insurance plans may have exclusions for injuries caused in an auto accident.

Finally, you have physical damage coverage for your vehicle. This is split into two separate coverages. Collision coverage repairs damage to your vehicle caused by colliding with another object. Whether it be another vehicle, a mailbox, or simply backing out of the garage and scraping the side of the car. Second, is comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage repairs damage to your vehicle caused by anything other than a collision. This includes, but is not limited to, fire, flood, and vandalism. If your car is parked in the garage during a hurricane and the house falls in on it, coverage would be provided by your auto policy and not your homeowner's policy. These two coverages also have deductibles that you may select as out-of-pocket expense for repairs to your vehicle.

That wasn't so bad, was it? Give our office a call and one of our agents will review your policy with you. We will provide an all-around review of your coverage and provide recommendations where your coverage may be lacking. With accidents becoming more frequent with more drivers on the road than ever, make sure you're protecting yourself, your family, and your assets.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.

NASCAR Fans: Tips for RV'ing the Races

Most people associate February with Valentine’s Day and chocolate, but for others it’s the kickoff to the NASCAR season with the Daytona 500. If you love spending your Sunday afternoons watching NASCAR from the comfort of your living room, imagine how great race day would be from the luxury of your home on wheels?  NASCAR is one of a few sports that allows you to be right in the middle of the action while camping in your RV.  Here are some things you should know if you decide to take in a race from your infield campsite and if you’re protected if something were to happen to your RV.

Be Prepared

Most tracks on the NASCAR circuit are not going to have full hook ups.  With no water hookups, be prepared to dry camp.  Make sure your generator is in good working order, you have full water tanks, plenty of propane, and empty black tanks.  Some of the larger tracks offer extra camp services like propane delivery and waste removal, but be prepared to pay a premium for those services.

Parking

Most infield camping spots will need to be purchased far ahead of race weekend.  These coveted spots go quickly. Once you have procured your spot, be sure to arrive early. Give yourself plenty of time as most tracks will pack the infield like a can of sardines.  While maneuvering through the tight areas and making camp, you trade paint with some of your neighbors, don’t worry, a good agent will make sure your RV is protected by collision coverage that will repair your rig and property damage liability that will repair your fellow race goer’s rig for any damage you may have caused.  Remember, rubbing is racing.

Getting to the Track

You’ve gone over your check list one last time and you’re ready to hit the road.  You are on your journey to the race and you have a mechanical failure with your rig and she’s not going to make it to your destination.  What now?  Some RV policies will have a few coverages that will come in handy in a situation like this.  Roadside assistance and towing is available on most RV policies to help you get to a repair shop.  You may also want to review your policy for emergency expense coverage which would help you with transportation and hotel costs. 

Trip interruption is another coverage you may want to consider. This reimburses you for paid non-refundable fees such as reservation and lot fees that you are not able to use do to a covered trip interruption or trip cancellation.

Maybe taking your RV to the races is not your scene. Maybe you would rather travel to Yosemite and hit every stop in between or perhaps spend your time at the best beach side campgrounds the country has to offer.  Either way, making sure your RV, your belongings, and your family are covered correctly should be number one on your checklist.  Whether you’re in the market for your first RV or you’re a seasoned road warrior, contact our office to get a quote or review your current policy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.

Your Home’s Replacement Cost vs. its Market Value

Your home is one of your biggest assets. Therefore, it’s imperative to make sure you are protecting it with the proper amount of coverage in the event you find yourself forced to rebuild from the ground up because of a catastrophic event. 

Selecting the amount of dwelling coverage can be tricky. There are many different approaches to valuing a property, depending on your focus. Two common valuation methods are market value and replacement cost. A big misconception is that a house should be insured for the value it was purchased for. Market value is simply an agreement between a buyer and a seller for what a property is worth. It is typically the amount the market demands based on the location, schools, local crime statistics, and availability of similar homes in the same area. The value of the land is also factored into the market value.

Replacement cost, on the other hand, ensures that in the event of a loss, your home will be rebuilt using modern materials, current methods of construction and installation, and today’s pricing for labor. The land value is not a factor when determining replacement cost. As an example, a home purchased 30 years ago for $200,000 may cost $300,000 to rebuild today given the rising price of construction materials and labor. While it may be attractive to insure an older home for the market value, it could be a huge financial burden during the rebuild process. The cost for rebuilding or restoring hardwood floors, ornate woodwork, masonry, and plastering to their original condition may be much higher than the home’s purchase price. Conversely, a home situated on a 5-acre lot near the water might sell for $500,000 due to the location and lot size but the replacement cost of the house house itself may only be $200,000. In this case, insuring the home for market value is most certainly setting you up for disappointment in the event of a claim, not to mention the unnecessary premium dollars spent!

Due to the ever-changing nature of the construction industry, it’s important to review your homeowner policy at every renewal to make sure your home is valued properly. If you have done upgrades or added additional living space, your insurance company needs to know so your coverage can be adjusted accordingly.

Our team at Bouchard can help. We have tools to help calculate replacement cost based on your home characteristics. Whatever you decide, understand there is a clear difference between replacement cost and market value. It’s similar to comparing apples and oranges.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DeeDee Simpkins is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. DeeDee is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.

Are You Properly Covered for the New Year?

The holidays are almost over and the new year is upon us.  What will the dawning of a new year have in store for us? Is my insurance covering me for the changes I made this past year?  Am I covered for the changes I’m going to be making this year?

After the joy and fun of the holidays, insurance may be the last thing on your mind.  But as unattractive as it may seem, reviewing your policies can be a quick and painless process.  Here are a few things to consider.

Do I have enough coverage?

Have you updated features in your home? New and updated home features can increase the reconstruction cost of your home and your limits may not reflect that increased value. You may have also acquired more valuables. Jewelry, art, and collectables have sub-limits on your policy that may leave you underinsured. Do I have replacement cost or actual cash value?

This is not a situation that you want to be in and it is important to review your policy to assure that your property and belongings are covered and covered correctly moving forward.  This may not apply to everyone, but a review is a great opportunity for a refresher of what is and is not covered.

Do I have too much coverage?

Most homeowners insurance policies include a property inflation guard that will increase your dwelling coverage at each renewal.  If you haven’t reviewed your policy in quite some time you may be over insured. You may have also purged your home of unnecessary personal property items and may need to amend that limit as well.

Assessing and adjusting these coverage limits can save you premium in the coming year.  Anytime reducing or removing coverages I always think of the statement, “It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.” 

Am I missing any discounts?

Reviewing your policy is the only way to know if you’re missing out on any available discounts.  Maybe you have added or plan to add a monitored alarm system to your home. Most homeowners carriers offer discounts for monitored systems.  You may have also taken a driver’s safety course. A majority of auto insurance carriers offer additional discounts for completing a safety course.

The new year is also the time to mark your calendars for your policy renewal dates.  Policy renewals are a great time to contact our office to re-market your policy with our other carriers and compare in order to assure you have a policy that suits your needs and fits your budget.  Keep in mind, the lowest premium is not always the best option.  Insurance is like a fire extinguisher, you hope you’ll never need to use it, but you’ll be glad you have it if you do.

And, finally, from all of us at Bouchard Insurance, we wish you good health and happiness in the New Year!


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Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.