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Making important life insurance decisions

By Cincinnati Insurance

father-reading-to-daughter

One of the most important things you can do for your family is to make sure you have the appropriate life insurance in place to protect their future. Several of our past blogs offer food for thought as you make decisions about your life insurance coverage.

Insuring what’s most important to you

Life insurance is something you need to review whenever you have a life-changing event: marriage, divorce, children or a new home. These events could trigger a need for additional coverage or require you to update your beneficiaries.

How much life insurance do I need?

Once you have decided to purchase life insurance, the next question to answer is how much to purchase.

Life insurance: A gift fit for a grandchild

When you think about all the things you want to purchase for your grandchild, life insurance would likely be near the bottom of the list. …. Life Insurance for a child or grandchild offers three important advantages.

Getting the most from your life insurance

You had a plan and you did the right thing: You purchased a life insurance policy to protect your family. But things have changed since you took out that universal life insurance policy, and it may be time for you to pull your policy out of your files and review where it stands.

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Burn, rake or mow? A seasonal question

By Marty Skidmore

Burn, rake or mow? A seasonal question

The warm days and cool nights of autumn will soon arrive along with those beautiful leaves that we all enjoy so much. As majestic as those trees look while the leaves are still attached, what do we do when leaves begin falling to the ground, covering the landscape?

Many of us have happy childhood memories of burning leaves. But is that really the best alternative?

Many municipalities now either ban or discourage the burning of yard waste. Before you burn, check with local authorities or your state’s department of natural resources to see whether a permit is required. If you live in an area prone to forest or wildfires, you may have “red flag” burning restrictions in place.

Leaf burning leads to air pollution, health risks and fire hazards:

  • Smoke from burning leaves contains toxic or irritating particles and gases that can increase the risk of respiratory infection.
  • Carbon monoxide can result from incomplete burning, especially when leaves are wet. Inhaled carbon monoxide is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can reduce the amount of oxygen that red blood cells carry.
  • Local fire departments can attest to house fires that have resulted due to unsafe burning of leaves.

Fortunately, there are some very good alternatives to traditional leaf burning. You may be fortunate to have a municipality that will pick up the raked leaves if left at the curb, either in a pile or in appropriate bags. Check with your city or county government for details.

Another great option is to compost the leaves yourself or to use the leaves as mulch around garden and landscape beds.

Of course, you also have the option of just mulching the leaves with the lawnmower. They make an excellent soil conditioner. Today’s mowers do an excellent job of shredding the leaves into very small pieces.

After you’re done with your yard work, you can always enjoy a safe fire in your fireplace!

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Additional coverages keep you afloat after a flood

By Michael Sullivan

Additional coverages keep you afloat after a flood

Ongoing patterns of severe weather mean homeowners and business owners have experienced everything from record snowfalls and tornadoes to recurring storms with wind, hail and record amounts of rainfall – all leading to a record number of flooded homes and businesses.

Water claims under personal or business insurance contracts can be confusing and easily misunderstood, and standard insurance does not cover everything.

The most common water damage claims result from surface water, sewer backup, ice and snow melt or hydrostatic water pressure. Whether you have a personal or business claim, the cause of loss is first determined and then your coverage is reviewed.

Most insurance companies’ standard personal and business policies exclude coverage for surface water that damages the property. You and your agent should be aware of whether or not your insured property is located in a designated flood zone. If so, you can purchase insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.

The other causes of loss listed can be covered by purchasing endorsements to add coverage beyond what a standard policy includes. These endorsements may limit coverage to a specified dollar amount, but recovering even a portion of the damages could make a big difference to the financial health of your family or business.

Under a personal insurance policy, amendatory endorsements can provide limited coverage for sewer backup, overflow of drains and sumps and hydrostatic water pressure for limited amounts, commensurate with the amount of coverage you purchased on the base policy. Your independent agent can help you make the right choices for your individual needs.

Business owners can purchase endorsements to add coverage for exposures such as sewer backup, hydrostatic pressure and interior building damage from rain, sand or dust without damage to the roof or walls. Some endorsements adding coverage for water damage may include coverage for loss of business income and extra expense you incur as a result of a covered loss caused by water damage.

This blog is a short summary of potential endorsements to the personal and business insurance policies and is not intended to be a comprehensive policy coverage review. Remember that different insurance companies may handle these coverages differently. In the event of a claim, please consult your actual policy contract.

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Protect your family from a silent killer: Radon gas

By Chris Beckman

Protect your family from a silent killer: Radon gas

Most of us have heard that smoking kills thousands of Americans every year and is the leading cause of lung cancer. But do you know the second leading cause?

Surprisingly, it is the prolonged exposure to radon gas. According to the National Institutes of Health, 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year can be attributed to this toxic gas.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas originating from the breakdown of uranium in the earth. The natural breakdown of rock and soil releases radon gas, which can invade homes through cracks and sump pump openings in basement foundations. From there, the gas can be inhaled.

Both existing and newly constructed homes have the potential to harbor high radon levels. There are ways to protect your family or tenants and restore peace of mind. Radon test kits are available at home improvement stores at a reasonable price. If radon levels test high — four picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or more — then you should take steps to reduce radon levels.

The most common method is to install a radon remediation system, which acts as a vacuum, sucking out the hazardous gases and releasing the vapors outside and away from living quarters. Most systems can be installed by homeowners or professionals certified in radon remediation for around $500-$1,000.

Even with a radon system, homeowners will still want to conduct a radon test every few years to verify the device is working properly.

Find tips on choosing a radon remediation system or contractor in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.”

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Preparing your car for college

By Heather Gabriel

Preparing your car for college

Having a car at college can give a student the freedom to come and go from work or to explore surrounding areas without depending on others. But having a car can also mean greater responsibility. Here are some common driving situations that you and your college student should discuss before your – or the student’s own – car heads to college.

Driving in a new area – Urge your young driver to learn the laws in the new community, as they may differ from your hometown. Are U-turns legal? Can you turn right on red? How about turning left on red on a one-way street? Failing to obey local traffic laws may result in a ticket or an accident. The Governors Highway Safety Association website offers a state-by-state look at traffic laws, including regulations for distracted driving, seatbelts, speed limits and work zones. Most colleges have a community liaison office that can provide information about local laws.

Allowing others to drive or being the default driver – Set rules and expectations for who can use the car. When your student is the only roommate or the only one among a group to have a vehicle at school, he or she may become the default driver. Worse, the student may allow others to drive the car. Both result in the car being used more than expected and having a higher risk of an accident. Check with your insurance agent to understand the terms of your auto policy and make sure appropriate coverage is in place. While you may be confident of your student’s driving skills, the driving capability of roommates and friends is unknown.

Alcohol – While everyone hopes and expects their college student to be responsible when it comes to alcohol, college is a time where experimentation and binge drinking can occur. Even the most responsible person cannot think clearly under the influence of alcohol and may decide to drive, allow someone else who was drinking to drive, or to ride with an impaired driver. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers a resource guide, “College Drinking,” for parents to use when talking to their college students about alcohol use.

Claims resulting from a motor vehicle accident can have an adverse effect on insurability and insurance costs, whether the auto policy is in the parents’ or the student’s name. Accidents, tickets or other violations may cause insurance …read more

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School bus safety for children and drivers

By Kristen Bomkamp

School bus safety for children and drivers

With schools gearing up for fall, school buses will be returning to the roads.

While statistically school buses are the safest method to transport children to school, it’s a good time for parents to remind children to follow safety rules while on the bus and at the bus stop.

At the bus stop:

  • Allow plenty of time to arrive at the bus stop. Children hurrying to catch the bus may make careless mistakes that could lead to injury.
  • Always walk, DO NOT RUN to the bus stop.
  • Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side facing traffic.
  • Stand at least six feet away from the curb to be visible to the bus driver. For most children, this would be approximately three big steps. The bus driver sits high in the seat and may not be able to see anyone standing on the curb.
  • Never speak to strangers at the bus stop, and never get into a car with a stranger.

On the bus:

  • Walk directly to a seat and sit down.
  • Do not hang out the windows or throw things on the bus.
  • Always stay seated when the bus is moving – wait until the bus has stopped before retrieving dropped items.
  • Talk quietly so the bus driver is not distracted.
  • If there is an emergency, listen to the driver and follow instructions.

Exiting the bus:

  • When exiting the bus, walk at least six feet away from the door (three big steps) to be visible to the driver.
  • Stay away from the bus wheels, and watch out for moving cars.
  • Never return to the bus to get a forgotten item. The driver may not see someone coming back to the bus.

Drivers who share the road should also be especially alert:

  • Be aware of when school begins and ends. Watch for children going to and from the bus.
  • Follow posted speed limit signs for school zones.
  • Never pass a stopped school bus if the stop sign is extended or the red lights are flashing. Wait until the lights stop flashing and the bus begins moving again to proceed.More information about safety for school bus riders and drivers and for those sharing the road is available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Introverted intern sees herself in the insurance industry

By Natalie Ludwig

The insurance industry is growing and has a high need for talented professionals with a variety of training and skills. Recruiters are asking job seekers “where do you fit in?” In this series, Cincinnati Insurance associates describe their own career journeys.

Eight months ago, I knew very little about insurance.

I especially didn’t think my psychology degree – still in the works – had any place in the insurance industry. Most college students working on a psychology degree have a specific path in mind. Clinical psychologists, school counselors, maybe even psychology-professors-in-the-making are all around me.

As a 17-year-old entering college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I enjoyed learning about psychology, so I thought, “Why not declare that my major? Maybe I will find a path I like.” It’s been four long years of listening to my advisors assure me that I’m not the only one still searching for a path, and I still haven’t found it. You can imagine that an introverted college student about to graduate with no plans for further education would be a bit worried about what happens after she receives that diploma.

I was, but I’m not worried any more.

Last fall, I applied for an internship at Cincinnati Insurance after I received an email from my school, Northern Kentucky University. I thought, IT testing intern? What on earth could that mean? But I decided to go for it anyway. What did I have to lose? I needed to try things to find out what I did and didn’t want to do, not to mention that I was getting pretty tired of my retail job after three years.

Once I was hired, I learned heaps about not only insurance, but all the parts of an insurance company that I had never thought about. It seems silly, but sometimes I underestimate the amount we rely on computers. There’s an IT department pretty much everywhere for that reason, and now I was a part of one. IT…could I really do this?

I could, and I have enjoyed it.

The past seven months working in Quality Assurance have taught me many things: that I can work in IT; that my degree and willingness to learn can open doors to a number of career paths; that the insurance industry offers a lot – a stable income and environment, the opportunity to build a career and make valued contributions; …read more

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Protect your college student’s possessions

By Laura Lewis

Protect your college student's possessions

Do you have a young adult heading off to college in the fall? College can be a fun time for the student but a stressful one for the parent. Reduce some of the stress by planning ahead to make sure your college student has appropriate insurance protection while away at school.

Insurance companies cover full-time students under age 25 in various ways. You’ll want to consult your agent with questions about your specific policy and situation.

There are three basic ways a student may have coverage:

  1. As a percentage of the personal property limit on the parents’ homeowner policy. Many insurance companies consider campus housing a secondary residence for the student and may cover your student’s possessions as a percentage of the personal property limit on your homeowner policy – personal property means items you can remove from your home or premises. For example, if you have $75,000 in personal property coverage, your student may have 10 percent of that, or up to $7,500, in coverage for belongings taken to school. Liability coverage – which insures legal liability for bodily injury or property damage to others – may not be included.
  2. As part of the personal property limit included in the parents’ homeowner policy. Some insurance companies offer broader coverage through their homeowner policies. These companies allow the parents’ personal property limit to include the student’s belongings and liability without defining a percentage. For example, if you have $75,000 in personal property coverage on your homeowner policy, this includes items you have in your home as well as those that your student takes to school, and liability coverage is automatically included.
  3. Under a separate renter’s insurance policy in the student’s name. Some insurance companies contend that being away at school for nine months of the year is long enough to require a separate renter’s policy to cover belongings and liability. Liability insurance is usually included in a renter’s policy. Keep in mind that a renter’s policy in the student’s name may be the more expensive option. In most situations, each roommate needs a separate insurance policy.

As you prepare to send your child to school this fall, remember to ask your independent insurance agent to review your policy so that you and your student can make the transition to college as stress-free as possible.

Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage …read more

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