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A Small Business Without Insurance Is Taking a Dangerous Risk

Small businesses and startups often work on a tight budget. As a result, it might be tempting to forgo certain types of insurance that aren’t required by law. In fact, a survey of 30,000 business owners conducted by Next Insurance found that 44% of responding businesses have never had insurance at all.

Unfortunately, such a risk could end up costing your business way more than the monthly premiums would. Just because a particular insurance may not be legally required doesn’t mean you should not consider purchasing it if it’s going to protect your business.  For instance, if a customer slips and falls on your property, injuring themselves in the process, it typically costs up to $20,000 to settle a subsequent lawsuit.

It’s often a case of being penny wise but pound foolish. After looking at the cost of insurance, some small businesses feel it’s better to take the risk than to shell out high insurance premiums. But it’s not cheaper to forgo insurance when you need it and wish you had purchased it.

Instead, it’s best to make strategic decisions about which insurance policies your business needs and which it doesn’t. To make this call, you need to know your industry well.

Types of insurance coverage

Some kinds of insurance coverage are required by law once your business reaches a certain size. For example, the Affordable Care Act mandated employer-sponsored healthcare coverage for businesses with 50 or more employees. Failure to retain these types of insurance doesn’t expose small businesses only to the risks they’re intended to cover, but also to governmental action for violating the law.

There are other types of coverage that aren’t required by law but might be wise to have, depending on your line of business.

Liability insurance

General liability insurance helps protect your business if someone claims bodily injury, property damage, or libel or slander due to your company. In the slip-and-fall scenario above, general liability insurance could cover the fees for attorneys and settlements.

That said, certain businesses might deem it a remote risk that someone visits their property at all, let alone injures themselves, so they don’t purchase coverage. This is a strategic choice and likely an acceptable risk, compared to, say, a retail store that sees customers daily and chooses to roll the dice anyway.

Workers’ compensation

Workers’ compensation gives employees benefits if they injure themselves on the job or suffer from illness due to their work. These benefits help the employees pay their medical bills, replace their wages, or pay for ongoing care such as physical therapy. Most states require employers that reach a certain employee threshold (it varies from state to state) to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and policies.

Professional liability insurance

Also known as errors and omissions insurance, professional liability insurance helps cover your legal costs related to claims that your business made errors. This insurance is especially helpful if you provide a service to clients, as claims of late, incomplete, or inadequate work can lead to costly lawsuits.

Commercial property insurance

This insurance is for brick-and-mortar businesses, as it helps cover costs resulting from fire damage, theft and natural disasters. However, this insurance doesn’t cover damage from flooding or earthquakes, which requires a separate policy.

Business income insurance

Business income insurance helps cover the lost income that results from property damage. It can go toward rent, utilities or payroll.

Employment practices liability

Employment practices liability insurance protects against any lawsuit or complaint an employee may have regarding the employer, such as these:

  • Sexual harassment lawsuits
  • Wrongful termination
  • Timecard discrepancies
  • Breach of employment contract
  • Failure to employ or promote
  • Wrongful discipline
  • Discrimination claims

Tips on choosing business insurance

When choosing business insurance, you should consider a few factors before making the final decision. You want to find the best insurance specifically for your company that will minimize risks wherever possible. Without the right coverage, your company or even your personal assets could take a major hit. Keep the following tips in mind when choosing your business insurance.

1. Determine what you need.

There are many types of business insurance, so before you shop around for a plan, it’s important to consider your specific needs. A general liability or business owner’s policy is good for umbrella coverage, but depending on the type of business you own, other insurance policies might better protect your business.

Jeff Kear, owner of event-management software Planning Pod, said that business owners who work from home should consider separate home-based business insurance.

“Don’t assume that your homeowners policy will cover your business assets, because many policies do not cover most home-based business losses,” he said. “They may not cover all assets, and probably won’t cover any kind of business or professional liability.”

Kear also recommends obtaining business interruption insurance to help keep your business afloat in the event of natural disasters, data loss or theft.

2. Know the risks.

With so many insurance providers and types of business insurance on the market, it pays to know the risks unique to your business. For example, if you’re starting an e-commerce business, protecting your data is vital to your business’s overall wellbeing. On the other hand, if you’re a brick-and-mortar business, losing your tangible products or facing damage to your business’s physical structure can have a huge impact on your livelihood.

Only you know the extent of the risks your company faces, and it’s important to look at each one to determine your business’s unique situation. However, you might want to get a risk assessment from an independent agent or company to help you determine final price points and insurance details.

3. Compare quotes.

Choosing an insurance provider is like any other major decision: You should consider all your options before making a final choice. Comparing quotes from multiple providers can help you find the most comprehensive coverage for the best price.

4. Find a good agent or broker.

The insurance agent or broker you work with is responsible for helping you protect your business. As with the plan itself, you should consider your options for agencies – and the best choice isn’t necessarily the one closest to you.

Look for an agent who specializes in business insurance and can be a long-term partner to you. It is important to establish a relationship with your agent. Do some online research and ask other business owners who they work with. While there are an infinite number of agencies here in south central Pennsylvania, choose to do business with an agent you can trust and who explains the various types of insurance in language that you understand.

When you’re talking with an agent, make sure the agent understands your business and what you do, and how many employees you have. Most good agents worth their weight will know what you need.

5. Regularly review your policy needs.

Most insurance policies need to be renewed annually. Before you sign on for another year of coverage, it’s wise to look over the fine print of your policy and account for any changes, either in your business or in the provider’s terms of service.

Coverage and policies change all the time, so review your business with your agent every year. Your business may have changed during a coverage year, and your policy may no longer be adequate. Adding or dropping employees, services, products, physical locations, and so on,  can have an impact on your policy.

If your business goes through a major change or transition in the middle of coverage, discuss it with your insurance agent as soon as possible, and ask them to walk you through your options. Depending on the change, you may even be able to save money on your policy.

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer

Autumn is beautiful, but it also introduces some fall driving hazards… deer collisions being one of them. From October to December, mating and hunting season causes the deer population to be on the move. For drivers, that means you’re more likely to hit one.

But have you ever wondered how your auto insurance can cover hitting a deer? Are deer collisions covered by comprehensive or collision coverage?

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, deer-vehicle collisions are the top animal-related claim in the U.S. Before you get too worried, here are some helpful tips on how to avoid hitting a deer… and how to handle things if you end up hitting one despite your best efforts.

HOW TO AVOID HITTING A DEER

  1. Know where the deer are likely to be. Areas with high deer populations are normally marked with a bright yellow sign. Deer also tend to graze in wooded areas or open fields. When driving your usual route to work, be attentive to areas where you’ve seen deer in the past – they are likely to cross there again.
  2. Be alert at sunrise and sunset. Deer are more active during dawn and dusk hours.
  3. Use your high beams. When possible, use your high beams for better visibility. The extra light will help make it easier to spot a deer, or other animals, lurking alongside the road.
  4. Don’t rely on deer gadgets. Whether it’s a deer whistle, deer fence or other type of product to scare away the deer… don’t rely solely on them to keep deer away. Research isn’t exact on whether or not these products truly work. (Related: Fact or Fiction? Debunking 6 Common Myths About Deer)
  5. When you see one… you’ll probably see more. Deer travel in groups. If one comes across your path, proceed with caution in case there are more.
  6. Don’t swerve. Swerving isn’t always the safest option. Hitting a deer might often cause less damage than swerving to avoid it… and then hitting a more dangerous obstacle, like a vehicle in oncoming traffic. (Related: What’s Safer… Swerving or Staying the Course?)
  7. Wear your seat belt. If you do hit a deer, wearing a seat belt decreases your chances of injury.
  8. Spread the word. When friends or family head out on the road, let them know to be careful and alert. Even a simple reminder can help prevent deer collisions.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HIT A DEER

Taking the above precautions can help you avoid hitting a deer… but nothing can entirely rule out the possibility. Here are steps you can take after you hit a deer.

  1. Pull over. Move your vehicle to a safe place off the road. Don’t forget to turn on your hazard lights.
  2. Stay away from the deer. An injured deer can still lash out and hurt someone.
  3. Assess the damage. When you’re out of harm’s way, examine your vehicle and take photographs of any damage to your car. Use good judgement to know if your car is safe to drive or if you’ll need to call for a tow truck. Learn how to add Emergency Roadside Service to your ERIE auto policy.
  4. Call for help. Depending on the circumstances, consider calling the police or an animal expert. While it’s not always required to file a police report, it can provide evidence if you decide to make an insurance claim. If the deer is still in the middle of the road, a trained professional from animal control, the game commission or your local fish and wildlife service can move it away for everyone’s safety.
  5. Know if you should file an insurance claim. An insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent can help you make the decision based on the specifics of your auto insurance policy. Talking with someone you already know and who is familiar with the claims process can help put your mind more at ease.

DOES MY AUTO INSURANCE COVER HITTING A DEER?

You can’t always predict if a deer will walk into your path, but if one does, your independent insurance agent is there to help get you back on the road as soon as possible. Usually deer-vehicle collisions are covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance, which is an optional coverage you can choose to add on.

An insurance professional like Martin Insurance Agency can help you customize an auto insurance package that fits your needs and budget. If you live in Lancaster County , please talk to us to get a free, no obligation auto insurance quote.

Pennsylvania Ranked 1st in the Country for Animal Collisions

In Pennsylvania, deer migration and mating season runs from October through January, causing a spike in the movement of the population and triggering more deer-vehicle collisions during this period than any other time of year. Increased development and habitat encroachment have added to the issue.

According to a 2021 State Farm Insurance report, Pennsylvania drivers rank first in the nation for the number of animal collisions claims with just over 166,000 animal collision claims filed in July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

Deer made up the majority of damage to vehicles from animals. Pennsylvania drivers have a 1 in 54 chance of colliding with an animal while driving. The national average is 1 in 109.

Most animal-related crashes in the U.S. occur from October to December. While most collisions are with deer, many other animals followed closely behind such as dogs, cats, farm animals, and rodents.

Nationally, the insurance industry paid for an estimated 2.1 million animal collisions over the past 12 months (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021). That is a 7.2% increase compared to the previous 12-month period (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020). Of those collisions,  67% (1.4 million claims) involved a deer collision.

Claim costs for animal collisions can vary wildly, ranging from a bumper scratch to a total loss; the value depends, among other variables, on the size of the animal that you strike.

Top 10 States for State Farm Animal Collision claims:

  1. Pennsylvania – 166,404
  2. Michigan – 132,387
  3. Texas – 131,373
  4. California – 104,767
  5. North Carolina – 98,409
  6. New York – 98,101
  7. Georgia – 87,500
  8. Ohio – 84,703
  9. Virginia – 78,575
  10. Wisconsin – 76,110                       

Animal Collision Safety Tips:

  • Slow down. Reduce your vehicle’s speed and maintain a constant lookout for animals. Travel at a speed that will allow you to stop in time if an animal comes into the beam cast by your headlights.
  • Use extra caution and slow-down in known animal crossing zones.
  • Dusk to dawn are high-risk times; use high beams when appropriate.
  • Scan the road and avoid swerving when you see an animal. Brake firmly when you notice an animal in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.

After-crash tips:

  • Move your vehicle to a safe place: Pull to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights.
  • Call police: If an animal is blocking traffic and could become a threat for other drivers.
  • Document: Take photographs of the road, your surroundings, and damages.
  • Stay away from the animal: A frightened, wounded animal could use its legs and hooves to harm you. Do not attempt to move an animal.
  • Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive: Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights and other hazards.

Contact your insurance company: Quickly file your insurance cla

Wives and Life Insurance

Wives continue to gain momentum in the decision making process when it comes to insurance.

Insurance agents who practice the “old school” style of selling, where they talk only to the husband and totally ignore the wife when both are present, may want to reconsider their approach.

Agents should treat women seriously and include them in discussions and purchase decisions, because the research confirms that women tend to be more concerned about a host of financial issues than men and that they feel more financially insecure than men.  41 percent of women told the researchers that they are very or extremely concerned about supporting themselves if they are disabled and can’t work. By comparison, only 35 percent of men said the same thing.

Additionally, when asked if they are concerned about being able to pay for long term care services, Forty-one percent of women said they are very or extremely concerned while only 31 percent of men said the same.

How about life insurance? Thirty-five percent of women said they don’t currently have enough life insurance, while only 29 percent of men said the same – this coincides with other research indicating that women generally tend to be less likely to have life insurance than men.

But the gap in this area has closed in recent years. Some insurance companies are now recognizing that women “get it” (understand the need for life insurance) more than men, and are wising up and urging their agents to go out and talk to women about life insurance.

Women tend to be the gatekeepers in a marriage and are the major influencer in many households, therefore it’s usually the wife who encourages the husband to act. Many even fill out all the paperwork for their husbands to sign.

One thing to keep in mind is that research shows that women tend to make decisions differently than men. For example, women may want to meet with an agent several times before they decide to act whereas men want to move more quickly after they have decided to buy.

This may be because women feel the need to “be certain” about what they are buying and many times say “that sounds good, but let me think about it. Call me next week.’” This frustrates many agents, who then never bother following up with phone calls, which is a big mistake.

It’s important for agents to give their potential female customers information and knowledge they can read and consider. Give them brochures about the product and buying life insurance, then point them to resources they can check out on the Internet. It’s essential to not make them feel they are being rushed into something.

Men, on the other hand, focus more on trust-building up front, and once trust is established, they often go with the recommendations of the agent.

Regardless if it’s men or women, most people prefer to buy life insurance in a face-to-face setting. Women in particular want to look the person in the eye, and over several visits. Neither group wants to buy life insurance via the internet, especially women since they cannot ask the internet questions or get a real time sense of reassurance.

The differences between women and men as they shop for important things like life insurance are not extremely different, but differences still remain – to the point that many insurers have made the decision to market more to one group than the other – which is a lost opportunity.

The key is to better understand how men and women differ when they shop for important things like insurance. Never make the mistake of treating them the same, as you run the risk of turning off one group or the other.

For more information or a no obligation quote, contact Liz Martin today and she can help you select the right plan that makes to most sense for you.

Fall Equonox Tradiudions You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

The autumnal equinox marks the switch from light to dark, when the days start to become shorter than the night. Although school has already started and most of us have already put our white pants away after Labor Day, the true start of autumn lands on or around September 22nd in the northern hemisphere.

Known to many as Mabon (pronounced May-Bun), the autumn equinox is not widely celebrated in the U.S., as it marks the melancholic end of warm weather. However, many cultures around the world have traditional celebrations to mark the advent of shorter days and colder weather. If you’re looking for an unorthodox way of celebrating Mabon, check out these 8 fall equinox traditions that you’ve probably never heard of.

1) Celebrate Michaelmas and Goose Day

Michaelmas, or the Feast of Saint Michael, is widely celebrated by Catholics and residents of the UK. The day was first declared a holiday by Pope Gelasius in 487 CE. In the UK, many people celebrate Michaelmas by feasting on goose on September 29th. In the middle ages, residents owed rent to the landlords four times a year, and Michaelmas was one of those days. According to the Centre Daily newspaper, residents would gift their landlord a goose in order to ensure that they could renew the lease.

While the feast is not widely celebrated in the US, there is one part in Pennsylvania that keeps the tradition alive. Restaurants in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania serve goose all day; there are also goose calling contests and a 5k Goose Run to celebrate the ancient holiday.

2) Partake in Harvest Celebrations by Native Americans

Native Americans around the US celebrate the autumnal equinox differently, depending on their tribe’s traditions. In Sedona, Arizona, Native Americans and other communities celebrate the Autumnal Equinox with the fall harvest. Native tribes in Arizona, including the Hopi and Navajo Indians, celebrate the equinox with autumn vision quests.

Full moon ceremonies are held to honor the switch from lightness to darkness. At the end of the ceremony, which can last days, people who participate feast on blue corn pancakes.

3) Check Out the Chinese Mooncake Festival

One ancient legend about the moon is the basis for the Chinese celebration of the fall equinox. During the Zhou Dynasty, over 3,000 years ago, people worshipped the harvest moon in Autumn in the hopes that it would bring a plentiful harvest in the year to come. Mooncakes were eaten during the festivities that occurred during the harvest moon ceremonies.

The Chinese mid-autumn festival in New York City is one of the biggest celebrations of Chinese culture in the U.S. Many Chinese cultural centers in New York, including the China Institute, work together to put on a free event to celebrate the autumn equinox. Mooncakes are served along with other Chinese snacks, and kids can participate in traditional Chinese games and art projects.

4) Enjoy Pomegranates!

In Ancient Greece, the fall equinox is associated with Persephone, the daughter of Zeus, and her return to the underworld to be with her husband Hades for the darker half of the year. According to Greeka.com, pomegranates were known as the fruit of the underworld, and Persephone would eat the seeds when she was there.

While there aren’t many specific festivals in the US that celebrate the Greek tradition of the fall equinox, you can celebrate on your own by cutting open a ripe pomegranate or enjoying some delicious pomegranate juice on September 22nd.

5) Honor Your Ancestors

It’s common practice for people of Japanese descent to use the fall equinox to honor their ancestors and passed relatives. Many Japanese people participate by sweeping or decorating their ancestors’ graves. You can participate in this tradition anywhere by bringing fall flowers or candles to the graves of your loved ones.

In San Francisco, you can partake in the Japanese tradition of honoring your ancestors by attending the fall equinox Ceremony at the San Francisco Zen Center on September 22nd.

6) Party Like a Druid

The festival of the autumn equinox for Druidry is called Alban Elfed, which according to Druidry.com, means “the light of the water.” Alban Elfed celebrates the balance of day and night before the balance swings, and night overtakes day.

In Europe, Neo-Druids gather at Stonehenge to celebrate a bountiful harvest and to welcome in the dark half of the year. You can celebrate at home by using ingredients harvested from your garden to cook a feast for you and your loved ones.

7) Make the Pilgrimage to Ancient Observatory in Chaco Canyon

The Chaco Canyon Sun Dagger is a historic site where Anasazi sky watchers used large slabs of stone and a system of carved spirals to show how the sun changed location in the sky. According to Smithsonian Magazine, during the equinoxes, you can watch how light passes through the spiral to create complex rock art.

In the past, the nearby town of Farmington, New Mexico has hosted an equinox celebration. The Chaco Canyon National Historic Park has also hosted night sky viewings during the equinox.

8) Bring It Back Down to Earth

Throughout history and all over the world, people have celebrated the fall equinox by honoring the changes in nature. This fall equinox, you can do the same by stepping outside to admire the changing leaves, going apple or pumpkin picking, or making your way to a local farmers market to stock up on the bounty of this year’s harvest.

Does Your College Student Need Renter’s Insurance?

Parents will face plenty of stress when sending their kids off to college. The safety and security of college students’ personal items – including bicycles, computers and other, more expensive belongings – will likely come to mind, begging the question of whether to get renters insurance.

It is worth noting that most homeowners policies extend some contents and liability coverage to family members away at school. However, the types of smaller, more likely losses that happen at college may also be less than many homeowners policy deductibles, potentially leaving families to self-insure such property. In addition, what might be covered in a college dorm might not be covered in an off-campus apartment rental. Your independent agent can help you navigate all the questions and options to ensure you have the information necessary to make the right decision.

If possessions and personal liability are not going to be fully covered by your homeowners policy, you will need to weigh the cost of renters insurance against the benefits.

Let’s break down the facts to help you to decide how to proceed:

  • The National Center for Education Statistics, a government agency tracking higher education trends, recorded 27,600 incidents of crime at universities in 2013. Roughly 15,500 of those – or 56 percent – were burglaries.
  • Citing FBI data, news publication USA Today reports bicycle thefts are the leading crime at college campuses, with anaverage loss of $250 per incident and annual damages adding up to $350 million.

With this in mind, it is always best to assess the cost of renters insurance versus the potential for loss.

As noted below, most basic renters policies are fairly inexpensive, so it may be hard to imagine the yearly cost of renters insurance being higher than a potential theft or loss. Consider the following information:

  • The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a trade organization for insurance regulatory professionals, estimates the average monthly premium for renters insurance falls between $15 and $30.
  • Computers, textbooks, bicycles and other common items kept in dorm rooms and college apartments can be easily valued in the thousands of dollars.
  • CNN Money noted renters insurance can cover liability and extra living expenses in addition to personal property.

Talk to us today to see if renters insurance is right for you and your student. Contact Dana Grimm with our agency and Dana will be glad to help answer some of your questions.

Getting A DUI Can Nearly Double Your Car Insurance

Driving under the influence can cost you more than you may think. Drivers with one DUI pay $3,114 a year, on average, for full coverage car insurance — almost double what a driver without any traffic violations pays.

This analysis included drivers with one DUI across all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Key findings

  • Rates after a DUI rise dramatically. Auto insurance rates can go up about 96%, or $1,522 per year, on average, for a driver with one DUI.
  • Drivers will likely pay higher rates for three to five years. This means one DUI could cost an extra $7,600 if it remains on a driver’s record for five years.
  • But not everyone will pay the same rates. On average, drivers with a DUI could pay from $508 to $4,165 more per year for car insurance.
  • Location can have a big impact on the price. Average annual rates in Alaska, Florida, Mississippi and Oklahoma increase by less than 50% after a DUI but more than double for drivers in 11 other states.
  • Don’t ignore smaller insurance companies when shopping around. In 34 states and Washington, D.C., the most affordable rates after a DUI aren’t from the nation’s 10 largest insurers.

Expect to pay significantly higher rates after a DUI

Average annual insurance rates after a DUI increase 96%, or $1,522, compared with drivers without any traffic infractions. Because a DUI typically affects your rates for three to five years at minimum, one DUI could set you back more than $7,600 in additional insurance costs over the next five years.

Location helps determine rates

However, these are average rates, and the exact cost depends on where drivers live. For example, car insurance rates for Alaska, Florida, Mississippi and Oklahoma drivers go up less than 50% on average. While rates after a DUI in California, Hawaii and Michigan increase 165% or more on average.

This means that drivers with a DUI could pay from $508 to $4,165 more per year on average.

Why shopping around matters

Don’t have a few extra thousand dollars to spend on auto insurance? Although your insurance bill is all but guaranteed to increase after a DUI, shopping around can help you find the cheapest possible price.

While you might be tempted to stick with your current company, in most states, the cheapest insurer before a DUI isn’t the same afterward.

Don’t ignore smaller, regional insurers when comparing quotes — they often have lower rates. NerdWallet’s analysis found that in 34 states and Washington, D.C., the cheapest rates after a DUI aren’t from one of the country’s largest insurers.

What you can do after a DUI

After a DUI conviction, it can be tough to find cheap car insurance — in fact, you might have trouble getting coverage at all. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Shop around right away. Look for alternative insurance immediately after getting a DUI. Your insurer might cancel your coverage, so you’ll want to have another option available. Make sure to let insurers know about the DUI when you shop around to get the most accurate quotes.
  • Avoid any other traffic infractions. Your insurer will likely raise your rate even further after additional driving offenses like speeding tickets, accidents or another DUI.
  • Maintain good credit. Your credit history can play a big role in how much you pay for car insurance. Having poor credit can increase your rates more than a DUI in some cases. Five states — California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington — don’t allow insurers to use credit when determining car insurance rates.
  • Consider reducing your coverage. If you have an older car that isn’t worth much, you may want to drop collision and comprehensive coverage. Compare the value of your vehicle with how much you pay for coverage plus your deductible, which is the amount subtracted from a claim payout. If there isn’t much difference, you’re likely paying more than it’s worth.
  • Compare quotes every three to five years. Insurance rates often change three and five years after a DUI. Shop around after these milestones to make sure you still have the cheapest rate.
  • Get quotes from nonstandard insurance companies. After a DUI, you may need to use an insurer that covers high-risk drivers. If you still can’t find coverage, turn to your state’s high-risk insurance pool through the Automobile Insurance Plan Service Office.

So what’s the main take-away?

Driving drunk or even buzzed is dangerous to you and the community. You cannot afford a DUI… no one can. It wrecks your finances and soils your driving record for years. If you are planning to go out with friends and there is going to be alcohol involved, make sure one person is the designated driver, or consider using Uber or Lyft. 

Can You Save Money By Adjusting Your Auto Insurance If Your Kids Are Away At College?

What happens when your child goes off to a college that’s over 100 miles away, reducing the possibility of them popping home to drive the family car? Well, there are adjustments that can be made to your auto insurance policy that might save you money.

Student-aged drivers between the ages of 16 and 25 are deemed by car insurance companies to be “high risk” so it costs more to insure them. So, if your young driver goes off to a school that’s hundreds of miles away and won’t be driving your car for the next nine months, it’s time to call your car insurance agent to discuss making some adjustments to your policy in order to obtain cheaper car insurance rates.

Here are some of the options that might be available to you and the parent of a college student:

Remove your college-aged child from your policy.

Many auto insurance companies will allow you to remove a child who has left for college — as long as the school they’re attending is over 100 miles away.  When the school is less than 100 miles, auto insurers think there is a good possibility that your child may return home on a fairly frequent basis and use your car.

Student away discount.

If you’d rather not take your child completely off your policy – so that your college student is shown to have had continuous car insurance coverage in case they want to buy their own vehicle and insurance in the next few years – then you still should be able to ask for a reduction in rates.  Many auto insurance companies offer a discount (usually 15 percent to 30 percent off select coverages) for a student who is away at a school which is over 100 miles from your home.

Drop your kid down to an occasional driver.

If your child does remain on your policy, you may also see if it’s possible to change them from a primary driver to an occasional driver.  Definitions of an occasional driver can differ depending who your insurance is with, but, in general, it’s someone who drives less than 25 percent of the car’s annual mileage.

Good student discount.

If your college student gets good grades, it can help lower their auto insurance costs.  Most car insurance carriers offer students up to the age of 25 a discount if their grades meet certain criteria (normally a B average or better). The good student discount can vary and be as low as 5 percent or as high as 25 percent.

Remember, each car insurance company has its own rules and guidelines for students, so you’ll need to talk to your insurance agent to see what discounts you’re eligible for and how you can get the lowest possible car insurance rates.  This is also a good time to have your insurance agent comparison shop for you to see if they can find you another auto insurer that can offer even better rates than your current insurer.

Keep in mind, if you remove your kid from your policy, make them an occasional driver or change other portions of your policy while your child is away at college, you’ll need to review your policy again when they return home for breaks from school, especially if they’re home for a few months in the summer.

And don’t forget… when your child is home from school, you may need to add them back to the policy, upgrade them to a primary driver on a vehicle, or make other changes for them to be properly covered. If you have questions, contact your independent insurance agent for more details to see if your auto insurance carrier has additional ways to help you save money!

5 Tips To Get Ready For Back To School

The sun begins to set a bit earlier, the temperature slowly drops, and families gradually return from their summertime getaways. These are all signs the school season is upon us. While there are still a few more weeks left until our scholars are back in the classroom, now is the perfect time to prepare for their first day of school. We’ve put together a list of practical tips to help families start the new school year off on the right foot. Check them out below.

Start a bedtime and morning routine.

During summer break, parents and guardians tend to be lenient with their kids’ bedtimes. And, they should! It’s summer break, after all. A grumpy and groggy scholar won’t be attentive or productive at school, so start easing your little one back into a bedtime and morning routine. You can start slowly by incrementally setting them to bed and waking them up until they’ve adjusted. Here are some tips to help your scholar get back into a normal sleep schedule.

Preview the school year calendar.

Nothing is worse than forgetting when there’s a half-day at your child’s school or a parent-teacher conference. Make sure to get a copy of your school’s calendar for the year, so you’re up to date with all our scheduled holidays, special events, and other important dates. If you don’t have a calendar, reach out to your child’s school to get one. You can find a list of our schools here

Talk to your child about their goals for the year.

Part of having a successful school year is knowing your child’s strengths and areas of improvement. Have an open and honest conversation with your scholar about which subject or activity they want to improve this school year. Let them know you and their teachers are there to help them improve. Connecting with them and understanding their goals will position you to be a source of support and motivation for them.

Make a commute to school plan.

This year, all of our students will be returning to school for in-person learning. Maybe subway trains are running on a modified schedule, maybe your scholar missed their bus, or maybe they’re attending a brand new location — your child should know how to get to and from their school. Practice traveling with them or create a plan on how they plan to go to and back from their school. 

Let them know it’s OK to feel nervous.

It’s been an unpredictable and challenging year for everyone. Going back to school can trigger anxiety for many, including our scholars. If your child feels nervous, reassure them that it’s OK to feel their feelings and help them work through it. And, if you have questions or concerns, reach out to your school’s main office for support.

Is My Car Insurance Tax Deductible? Maybe.

Tax deductions are a way to lower your taxable income, so you can decrease the amount of taxes that you owe the government. Thinking about the different IRS-approved deductions as you prepare your tax returns may lead you to wonder: Is auto insurance tax deductible? The answer depends on how you use the car and other factors.

For specific questions about your own taxes, consult a tax professional for trusted advice. For general information, keep reading.

USING A CAR FOR WORK

Generally, you can calculate business vehicle expenses one of two ways: the standard mileage rate or the actual expense method. Depending on your situation, you might qualify for one or both methods. If you qualify for both – and you don’t mind crunching the numbers – it might be worth it to calculate both ways to see which method gets you the bigger deduction.

  • Standard mileage rate: Auto insurance isn’t itemized as its own expense, but rolled into the government calculated rate (56 cents per mile driven for business use in 2021 or 58.5 cents per mile driven for business use in 2022, according to the IRS standard mileage rates).
  • Actual expense method: List the separate costs of operating the car (including gas, oil, repairs, tires and insurance) and deduct the percentage of those costs that can be attributed to miles driven for business.

Of course, it’s possible your car expenses (including auto insurance) might not be tax deductible at all. Here’s what to expect in a few common situations:

  • For business owners: According to the IRS, businesses that own and are dependent on the use of company cars or a fleet of vehicles may deduct auto insurance as a business expense if it is for your trade, business or profession. (Read our related guide to purchase and maintenance of company vehicles.)
  • If you’re self-employed: If you are self-employed and use your car exclusively for your business, you may be able to deduct certain car expenses, including your insurance premium. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers can’t claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses.
  • If you use your car for both business and personal reasons: In this situation, only the portion used for business reasons is tax deductible. You can’t claim your commute to and from work, but there are deductions available for work-related driving duties like visiting clients or picking up work supplies.

For more information on business use of your car, read this tax topics guide on the IRS website.

WHAT ABOUT EXPENSES RELATED TO AN AUTO INSURANCE CLAIM?

Using your car only for personal reasons like running errands or going shopping, it is not a write-off on your tax returns. But if your car was stolen or totaled after an accident that wasn’t your fault and the damage exceeds the limits in your insurance policy, you may be able to claim the loss as a tax deduction. Limitations may apply based on the damage costs and your income.

ASK A PROFESSIONAL FOR ADVICE

It’s a good idea to get in touch with a certified public accountant or tax professional to review the IRS guidelines for business expenses and make sure that you are entitled to these and other tax deductions. The latest tax guidance can be found at IRS.gov.

It can also be a good time to review your auto insurance policy to be sure that you have the coverages that you need. Contact your local independent insurance agent for more information about insurance coverage.