When Is the Cheapest Rate a Bad Idea?

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So you’ve been shopping for auto insurance and have received several quotes. There is a variety of companies, coverages, and prices. Which do you choose?

A lot of people just pick the cheapest one and go with it immediately, but this can be a BIG mistake. Let’s take a look at a few things to consider when comparing quotes.

#1 – Compare deductibles. Review each quote and if a vehicle has comprehensive and collision coverage, look at what deductible is listed. The deductible is the amount you will pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. A higher deductible (like $1000 or $500) will result in a cheaper monthly premium. Look and see if all of your quotes use the same deductible on each vehicle.

#2 – Compare Liability coverage. The liability coverage will be listed as Bodily Injury and Property Damage on your quote. Look at the numbers and see if they are the same on each quote. This is the total amount the policy will pay out if you cause an accident. A higher number means more coverage and will cost slightly more. Are all of your quotes using the same amount of liability coverage?

#3 – Compare extras. Next see what extras are in the policy. Is there coverage for a rental car? What about towing if you break down? Does the policy forgive your first accident or offer other perks? Make notes of all the extras for each quote. Consider if these are things you need on your policy and make notes to ask additional questions if you aren’t sure what’s included.

Next step, get an apples to apples quote. You can’t compare an apple to an orange right? They’re totally different. That’s why you only compare prices on insurance quotes that include the SAME coverage. Call those companies back up and ask them to adjust the coverage as needed to get a better comparison.

Also, take into account the reputation of the company you are working with. If you’ve never heard of the insurance company, ask for information from the agent about their rating in your state and how reliable they are in paying their claims. A few extra dollars per month can be worth it for a reputable company that you can trust.

Have questions? Give us a call today and let us help!

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group
Pittsburgh: (412) 265-6383
Du Bois: (814) 371-4901
Toll-Free: 1-800-569-2867

Posted in Car & Truck Insurance | Leave a comment

When Do My Children Need Their Own Auto Insurance?

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Frequently clients have a lot of questions about auto insurance when it comes to their teen and early 20’s aged drivers.  When is it time for them to go on their own policy?

 

There are several factors to take into consideration.

 

The first thing to look at is WHO lives in the household.  If your child is still in your home, then they can be listed as a driver on your policy, regardless of their age.  If your child is NOT in your household, then they will need their own policy.

 

We also have to look at who is the titled owner of the vehicle.  If you own the car, you’ll want it on your insurance OR you’ll need to be listed as an Interested Party on your child’s policy.  That means that if they were to quit paying on the policy and it canceled, you would be notified.  (As the owner of the vehicle, you could be responsible if it was being driven without insurance.)

 

If your child is the sole owner of the vehicle, it can only be added to your policy if they still live in your household.

 

(Some of these rules will vary depending on the age of the driver and if they are away at college or living out of state.)

 

This can all sound confusing, which is why we always recommend working with a local agency like ours to go through the details.  We’ll make sure that your policy is setup correctly and that everyone is getting the best possible rate.  Call us today!

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group

DuBois: (814) 371-4901, Pittsburgh: (412) 265-6383

Toll-Free: 1-800-569-2867

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What Is Mortgage Protection Insurance?

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Have you ever heard of mortgage protection insurance and wondered what it was?  Well today we’ll tell you all about it!

 

Mortgage Protection is a type of life insurance policy designed to pay off the mortgage in the event of the breadwinner’s death.

 

For many people, the mortgage is their single largest debt and it can be stressful to think about that expense if something were to happen to their spouse.

 

When we quote life insurance protection for a mortgage, we look at how much you owe on the mortgage and how many years remain on the debt.  For example, if you had a 30-year mortgage for $250,000, then you’d want a policy that paid that amount out for 30 years.

 

If you or your spouse were to die (or it can be placed on only one person if you have a single income home), then you would receive a check for $250,000 and could use it to pay off the mortgage immediately.  If you had paid down the balance over the years, then any extra remaining could be used however you like.

 

There are some specific mortgage protection policies that go down in value over time as the mortgage balance decreases and that could be an option as well.

 

The key is to work closely with your agent who can explain the key differences and find the product that best protects YOUR family.  We can help!  Give us a call today to discuss life insurance for your mortgage and family today.

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group

Du Bois: (814) 371-4901, Pittsburgh (412) 265-6383,

Toll-Free: 1-800-569-2867

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Can I Find Out The Insurance Cost BEFORE I Buy The Car?

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Has this ever happened to you?  You made the decision to purchase a new vehicle, got it home, called and added it to your insurance, and then realized that your monthly insurance premium just did a big jump UP?

 

This can be stressful if you’re not expecting it!  Here are a few things to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line.

 

One important thing to remember when purchasing a new vehicle is that the salesperson wants to make a sale.

 

Unfortunately, they might lead you to believe that this model of car has cheaper insurance than your old one, even if they don’t know for sure!  For a long time, there was a myth that red cars cost more than other colors to insure, but it’s just not true.

 

Some dealerships will offer car insurance at their location and may give you a general “quote” on the cost, but this can be unreliable as well.  The information may assume a better credit rating or driving record than you have, leading a rate hike after the sale.

 

You want to research the vehicle costs on your own first and verify them.  Don’t just go by the information you receive at the dealership.

 

If you’re making a huge jump in vehicles, prepare to pay more for insurance.  If you have an older vehicle that currently is insured for liability only, and you’re upgrading to brand new vehicle with a loan on it, you’ll be looking at higher costs.

 

Some lienholders also require that you carry a $500 deductible on your new vehicle, which can make a difference if you’ve had a higher deductible in the past.

 

Here’s the best advice we can offer!  BEFORE you purchase the vehicle, write down the year, make, model (and even VIN number if available) and call us.

 

We’ll go into your current policy and put in that vehicle to give you an EXACT cost.  If you’re trading in another car, we’ll remove that one too.

 

We won’t officially make the change until you confirm it, but this will take away any surprises.  You’ll know exactly what your pro-rated premium will be and can make an informed decision on if that vehicle is the right choice for you.  If you’re comparing several, feel free to call with them all!  That’s the benefit of having a local agent!

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group

Du Bois: (814) 371-4901, Pittsburgh: (412) 265-6383

Toll-Free: 1-800-569-2867

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Halloween Insurance Tips

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Halloween is on the way!  Here are a few tips to get your home and family prepared.

 

First, before Halloween arrives, make sure to check your yard for any hazards.  Do you have lots of trick or treaters in your neighborhood?  Fill any holes in the yard and pick up anything that may cause someone to trip or injure themselves.

 

While you can’t prevent EVERY injury, it’s best to do what you can to keep the yard as safe as possible.  If someone is injured on your property, you always run the risk of a liability claim.  Cleaning up hazards is a great way to prevent this.

 

Next, consider filling your spooky jack-o-lanterns with battery powered lights.  Candles in pumpkins can lead to accidental fires and, even worse, a costume catching fire!  Simple battery powered lights prevent this and still look great!

 

Third, make sure that your house is well lit on Halloween night if you’ll have trick or treaters!  Turn on the porch light and any extra yard lights as needed to keep the area safe and well lit.

 

Finally, and most importantly, make sure that your kids are EASY to see on Halloween night!  Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year for children when it comes to being accidently hit by cars.

 

Wear light colored costumes, use reflective tape, carry flashlights, and use any other precautions to make sure that drivers can see your children.

 

Surprisingly, the risk can be even higher for 12-15 year olds!  Parents are usually closely watching the little ones, but the teenagers can be distracted by friends and afraid to look un-cool with extra lights.  Take necessary precautions to keep your teens safe.

 

Halloween is lots of fun, but it’s important to keep these things in mind to keep your family and property safe.

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group

Toll-Free 1-800-569-2867

Pittsburgh (412) 265-6383

Du Bois (814) 371-4901

Posted in Homeowner Tips, Insurance Tips | Leave a comment

Is “Liability Only” A Bad Idea?

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Most people think there are only two kinds of auto insurance – full coverage and liability only.

 

Full coverage typically means that someone has liability PLUS collision and comprehensive coverage.  That means that they are covered if they cause damage to someone else (liability), if their vehicle is damaged in an accident they cause (collision) and for things like hail damage (comprehensive).

 

“Liability only” is the bare bones option that ONLY covers damage that you cause to another person.  It means that there is NO coverage for your vehicle included.  Why would someone want that?

 

Liability coverage is what is required by the state in order to operate a vehicle.  Without it, you can get a ticket or even lose your license.

 

However, collision and comprehensive are only required if you have a lienholder that requires them.  Most lienholders do require it, but if your vehicle is paid off then it is up to you to cover the vehicle or not.

 

Here are things to consider before choosing to carry liability only:

 

How much money do you have in savings?  If your car was totaled tomorrow, would you have enough to purchase a vehicle to replace it?  If you only have enough for a down payment, could you financially handle car payments?

 

How much is your car worth?  If the car is worth $10,000, then you would be more likely to want to insure that value.  If it’s worth only $1,000 or less, you might feel it’s a risk you’re willing to take.

 

The key here is to think about what would benefit you the most.  Look at the insurance cost of liability only or full coverage.  (We can run this comparison for you.)  Personal finance expert Dave Ramsey says “It may save you a little money to drop collision insurance on your car, but it usually isn’t worth the risk.”

 

Call us today for a quote to look at what coverage is right for you!

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group

Toll-Free: 1-800-569-2867

Du Bois: (814) 371-4901

Pittsburgh: (412) 265-6383

Posted in Car & Truck Insurance, Insurance Tips | Leave a comment

Who Needs Life Insurance Most?

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Life Insurance is an important coverage that many people don’t understand or prefer not to think about!  While most people could benefit from life insurance, there are certain people that need it more than others.  Let’s take a look:

 

Family Breadwinner:  If your family depends on your income each month, then you need life insurance.  If you have a dual income household, then BOTH of you need life insurance.

 

If a breadwinner were to die unexpectedly, it would cause severe financial hardship for most families.  Research by the non-profit organization Life Matters shows that 60% of American households would feel the financial loss of a breadwinner in less than a month!  This coverage is an easy, inexpensive way to prevent that from happening.

 

Stay At Home Parent:  Even if you aren’t earning an income, you may still need life insurance coverage.  Stay at home parents provide for the family in a different way, but it would require more income if their role had to be replaced.

 

For example, if a parent stays home with children, and were to pass away, the surviving spouse would need to pay for child care in the future.  This previously unneeded expense would cut into the family budget quickly.

 

Wouldn’t it be better to have life insurance so that if the unthinkable happened, the surviving parent could stop working for a while and be with the kids?

 

Adult Who Cares for Elderly Parent:  Frequently we only think of parents needing life insurance, but in reality, it’s necessary for anyone who supports someone else.

 

If you have an elderly parent who depends on you to provide financial support or even just day to day care, then you need some life insurance protection.

 

Personal Finance expert Suze Orman says “if a child, a spouse, a life partner, or a parent depends on you and your income, you need life insurance.”  This is a great rule of thumb!

 

If you fall into one of these groups and would like to discuss life insurance for your situation, give us a call today for a no-obligation quote.

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group

Toll-Free 1-800-569-2867

Du Bois (814) 371-4901

Pittsburgh (412) 265-6383

 

Posted in Financial Planning, Insurance Tips, Life Insurance | Leave a comment

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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As the seasons start to change and we head into fall, it’s time to think about home maintenance again!  Keeping your home and vehicles in great shape makes them last longer, look great, and can prevent accidents and claims in the future.

 

Here are a few things you can do this fall to keep everything in tip-top shape!

 

  • Gather firewood – if you plan to build fires in the winter, then now is the time to start gathering up that firewood.  You’ll be glad you did when you’re nice and warm in front of the fireplace!
  • Close or install storms windows.
  • Store outdoor furniture and cushions.  They’ll last longer if you protect them during seasons they aren’t being used.  Plus, it will keep pesky squirrels and birds out of your outdoor cushions!
  • Have furnace professionally inspected now!
  • Winterize outside faucets, put away hoses.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.  This can protect the exterior of your home as well as your roof!
  • Rake leaves and shred to use as mulch.
  • Remove hoses from spigots and drain and store indoors, coiled and flat.
  • Check windows and doors for weather-tightness and install weather stripping where needed.
  • Clean the oven & stove drip pans.
  • Have problem trees trimmed.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you set clocks back in the fall!  Change the batteries.

 

Regular maintenance of your home (and vehicles) helps prevent BIG issues later!  What other items do you like to take care of in the fall?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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I’m moving! What should I do about my insurance?

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Getting ready to move soon?  Here’s what you need to know about your home and auto insurance!

 

Auto Insurance Changes

 

Your auto insurance rates are based on the zip code you currently reside in which means that moving can affect your rates!

 

If you are moving to a new residence locally, just call us around the time of your moving date so we can update your policy with the new address.  This way you know you’ll receive any bills on time at your new address and your policy information will be correct!

 

If you’re moving out of state, there is a little more work involved.  Since we only offer insurance in this state, you’ll need a policy and a new agent in your new city!  This process isn’t as difficult as it might sound.  Just let us know and we can help you find an agent and get the information transferred over.  Most states allow you a 30 day grace period to change over your coverage upon moving.  Don’t wait until the last minute though!  Get the process started before your move so you are covered quickly.

 

Home Insurance Changes

 

Your home insurance changes will depend on the status of your move.  See which of the scenarios below fits you:

 

Selling Current Home, Purchasing A New One:  Once you find your NEW home, let us know the information and the loan officer handling your closing so we can prepare the new insurance policy.  Once your old home has closed, just give us a call with the closing date so we can cancel that policy.  Any refund will be sent to you.

 

Leaving Rental, Purchasing Home:  As above, just let us know about the home you’re purchasing so we can prepare for closing.  Once the home has closed and you’ve left the rental, let us know and we’ll take care of canceling that policy and sending any refund.

 

Buying New Home & Renting Out Old:  We can convert your old home into a policy for a landlord!  This will keep the property insured, but not cover the personal belongings inside.  (You’d want to require your renters to carry renter’s insurance!)  We’ll also prepare a Homeowners policy for the property you are residing in.

 

Moving From One Rental To Another:  If you currently have a renters policy and you’re moving to a NEW rental in the same state, we can simply make a change to your policy with the new address.  Just let us know the date of the change!

 

Moving is a stressful process but the insurance can be simple with the right agent!  Let us know your moving plans and we’ll make sure to get you covered quickly and efficiently.

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group

Toll-Free 1-800-569-2867

Du Bois (814) 371-4901

Pittsburgh (412) 265-6383

Posted in Homeowner Tips, Insurance Tips, Renters Insurance | Leave a comment

Do Renovations Change My Home Insurance?

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Are you considering renovating your home in the near future?  Or maybe you just recently did some updates?  If so, you might need to take a look at your home insurance!

 

When you start your home insurance policy, your agent takes some basic information on the property.  How many bedrooms?  How many bathrooms?  How much square footage?  As well as the number of fireplaces, the kind of foundation, and the last time the roof was replaced.  All of this information is used to estimate the cost to replace the house if it were to suffer a claim.

 

You may have noticed that your home is insured for quite a bit more than you originally paid for it, and maybe even a lot more than you could sell it for in the current market.  That’s because home insurance is based on the cost to REPLACE a home to it’s current standard based on the cost of building materials, etc.  It’s not based on what you paid or the current market value.

 

So when you make renovations, you could be changing the replacement cost, which would need to be reflected in your home insurance policy.  This is especially important if you add square footage or an additional bathroom!

 

You’ll also want to consider the type of building materials used on your home.  Your policy may have been estimated with “builder grade” materials.  This simply means that your countertops, mirrors, cabinets, etc. are pretty basic and less expensive.  But if you update the kitchen and put in high end granite countertops, new cabinets, and top of the line appliances, you’re increasing the amount that the home needs to be insured for!

 

How will this affect your premiums?  Usually not a whole lot!  Yes, if the home needs to be insured for more, you might pay slightly more, but it’s not going to be a significant difference unless you’re adding a large amount of square footage.  Talk to us about your renovations so we can recommend the best coverage options!

 

We love helping families save on their insurance.  Call today for a quote!

Zappia Insurance & Financial Group

Toll-Free: 1-800-569-2867

Du Bois: (814) 371-4901

Pittsburgh: (412) 265-6383

Posted in Homeowner Tips, Insurance Tips | Leave a comment