Dos and Dont’s in Examining Your Auto Policy


How to Ring in a Happy New Year With Peace of Mind

We know that risks from burglaries and house fires increase during the holidays; however, there are risks to your home all year round. Here’s how to ensure you’re protected in 2015.

Purchase insurance. Many renters believe they have coverage from their landlord’s insurance in the event of a fire. In fact, the landlord’s insurance will only cover the building’s structure; renters need their own insurance for their possessions.

Renters also need liability coverage. If you are the cause of a fire that affects your neighbors’ property, you’ll need liability insurance to protect you from losing everything if they sue you for their losses. Even homeowners without mortgages, many of whom don’t think it’s necessary to purchase homeowners insurance, still need the ability to rebuild if their homes are destroyed.

Understand your policy. Read your policy carefully and ask your agent about what is and isn’t covered. For example, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods; flood insurance must be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Take inventory. Rather than carrying the same limits as before, consider what you stand to lose and what it would cost to replace everything you own. The average renter has about $30,000 worth of personal property, and for families or antique collectors that could be much higher. Even if you believe your possessions aren’t particularly valuable, you’ll still need to replace them.

Conduct your inventory, determine estimated values, add them up and purchase this amount of personal property coverage. Now you can launch the new year with peace of mind.  

Things We Love to Hate: How ‘Hold’ Music Began

MusicIf you’ve ever wanted to incinerate your phone rather than hear one more note of that infernal on-hold music, you’re not alone. Russ Juskalian of Newsweek reports, “Of all the depressing statistics about a lifetime of consumer existence, this may be the most distressing: each of us is destined to spend roughly 1.2 years on hold.” He calls it “a near-death experience.”

Is Eric Satie to blame?

Simon Morrison, a Princeton Musicology professor, says we can thank French composer Erik Satie for the birth of background music, which he began writing in 1917 and referred to as “furniture music.”

Or Alfred Levy?

Perhaps. But according to Tom Vanderbilt of Slate, “…in the spring of 1962, an application appeared in the U.S. Patent Office humbly titled, Telephone Hold Program System.” The filer was Alfred Levy, a factory owner who thought music might keep callers from hanging up while on hold.”

And now, there’s research behind it. In his Newsweek article, Juskalian says, “Modern corporations, with the help of psychologists, have actually made a science out of keeping you on the line, using harmonic soporifics in an effort to subdue your rage.”

However, a recent paper for the American Psychological Association offered these alternatives: tell customers where they are in line instead of apologizing every few minutes (cue the sounds of thousands of customers hanging up on your apology). Your customers will experience more satisfaction when they feel the line is moving quickly. Does that mean hold music is on its way out? Hold on!

This Month’s Smile: Knock-Knock Jokes

LaughAdult or kid, few people can resist good (and not so good) knock-knock jokes. Start the new year off right with these groaners.

Knock Knock! Who’s there? Lettuce. Lettuce who? Lettuce in, we’re freezing!

There’s probably an eager little kid waiting to “get you” with these two:

Knock Knock! Who’s there? Doris. Doris who? Doris locked, that’s why I knocked.

Knock Knock! Who’s there? Cowsgo. Cowsgo who? No they don’t; cowsgo moo.

Finally, if you’re on the receiving end of these jokes, this may, but probably won’t, work: Knock knock! Who’s there? Dewey. Dewey who? Dewey have to keep telling these dumb jokes?

Dos and Don’ts in Examining Your Auto Policy

Ready for 2015? We are, and want to ensure you’re saving money and understanding your auto insurance coverage. So here are a few ways you can do just that.

You probably haven’t even looked at your policy since last year. Here are some dos and don’ts.

  • DO pick up your policy and read it, making notes of any questions, so you can ask your insurance agent later.
  • DON’T head for the Internet. Only an agent who knows and understands your situation can give you the right answers.
  • DO understand your coverage options: You may not have the necessary coverage or have too much. Many people think full coverage includes things like roadside assistance and rental car coverage, when, in fact, you may only have liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage. Ask about additional coverages.
  • DO ask about discounts: What discounts do you have now? What else is available? People’s lives change: If you married and had a child, you may be eligible for a new family discount; or a good student discount, if you have a 3.0 GPA; or an average 3-7 percent affinity discount for belonging to or working for certain organizations or companies.
  • DON’T rely on state minimums: They usually don’t provide sufficient coverage, given current vehicle and healthcare costs. Purchase as much liability coverage as you can afford; it doesn’t cost much to increase liability limits (often just a few cents for an additional $50,000 or more in coverage).
  • DON’T pay for unnecessary coverage. If your older vehicle is only worth $1,000, carrying comprehensive and collision coverage with a $500 deductible isn’t economical. The insurer would only pay $500 after you paid the deductible. You could have banked your premiums and used it towards replacing the car.
  • DO work with your agent to pinpoint your needs and come up with the appropriate auto policy for 2015.