Charles Hagerty No Comments

Saving Money on Insurance: How Can It Be Done?

In the throes of an economic recession, millions of consumers today are cutting back on discretionary spending—and are even tightening up on the necessities. Now is an excellent time to review your insurance coverages with your independent insurance agent to find ways to cut costs while still protecting your family or business.

The premiums paid for insurance are a tremendous value. For instance, for the cost of several hundred dollars annually, a homeowners insurance policy provides a family with the means to rebuild its home and reimbursement for the cost of temporary housing should the home be destroyed in a fire.

To consider how to cut expenses, it’s helpful to take a step back. Consider anew what insurance premiums are paying for the transfer of risk. Insurance is a unique tool that allows consumers and business owners (through a financial transaction and a legal contract) to transfer risk from the consumer or business owner to the insurance company. If you transfer less risk—either by reducing the risk overall, or retaining more of the risk yourself—the insurance carrier will charge less.

Your insurance professional can help you consider two important questions if you want to cut costs on insurance:

1. What risks might I be paying to insure that I can assume myself?

The risk profile of a family or business changes over time. It’s important to share with your agent if the family or business situation has changed recently.

One thing that changes is the financial risk a family faces as children are born and grow. Parents of newborns face a lot of financial risk, since they face 18-plus years of raising that child and, for many, paying for a college education. Life insurance is the common way to protect against the risk of a parent dying while a child is in school. Yet, when the child graduates, a parent might reduce the amount of life insurance they own—and thereby reduce the amount of premium they pay. Inform your insurance agent if these changes are occurring for you.

For homeowners insurance policies, the first place to look to trim expenses is the deductible, which is the amount of money the policyholder must pay before the insurance company starts to pay a claim. The higher the deductible, the lesser the premium will be for the policy. A consumer with a $500 homeowners deductible can save as much as 25 percent by raising it to $1,000, reports the Insurance Information Institute. A policy with a higher deductible is less likely to have claims, in part because consumers that bear more risk tend to be more careful and have fewer claims.

Auto insurance customers can ask their insurance agent about whether they can save money on state-required PIP (personal injury protection) coverage, if applicable in your state. If you have already have health coverage, you may be able to keep only a minimum level of PIP—but it’s important to consider state requirements and whether your health insurance company will allow this.

2. Have I taken advantage of all the discounts offered?

The market for personal lines insurance is highly competitive. This has kept costs down: Homeowners/tenants insurance costs increased by about 17 percent between 1999 and 2008, compared with a 57 percent increase in the cost of repairing household items and a 50 percent increase in legal services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Auto insurance carriers offer special programs that help consumers keep a lid on costs. Ask your insurance agent about discounts for having a homeowners and auto policy with the same carrier; for maintaining a claim-free record for consecutive years; for low-mileage drivers; and for young drivers who keep good grades.

For older vehicles, consider dropping collision coverage. Since auto insurance claims occur about once every 11 to 12 years, it may not be cost-effective to insure a vehicle that is worth less than 10 times the collision insurance premium. (In this case, the claim reimbursement likely would not exceed the premium minus the deductible amount.)  Ask your insurance agent what the cash value of your older vehicle is, to help you decide.

One caution: The slump in housing prices has tempted some consumers to cut the amount of insurance on their homes, but that’s a trap. Homeowners insurance should be based on replacement cost, not market value, and many homeowners are already underinsured. Replacement costs continue to grow steadily, year after year, regardless of market values. Your insurance agent can help you determine the proper amount of homeowners insurance for you.

Finally, agent also can help by shopping your insurance needs to a number of insurance carriers. If you haven’t done so in three years, now is a good time to ask if your policies can be reviewed to make sure your pricing is the most competitive available.

TLIG is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs.

Visit us online at or call them at (434) 582-1444.


Charles Hagerty No Comments

Prepare Your Home for Winter…NOW

Old Man Winter will soon be unleashing his full fury. Is your home ready for the onslaught of snow, ice and cold winds? If not, the time to prepare is now, before the first storm strikes and your home suffers significant damage from the freezing temps and winter conditions.

Typical homeowners insurance policies protect against winter-related disasters such as burst pipes, ice dams, wind and damage caused by the weight of ice or snow. But you can save yourself a huge headache and probably higher insurance premiums by acting now to head off these winter-caused damages.

Ice damming and bursting pipes are two costly hazards facing homeowners during the winter season. An ice dam is caused by the ice buildup at the lower edge of a sloped roof near the gutter. It starts when the interior heat of your home escapes through the attic and melts the snow or ice on the roof. The water runs down and refreezes at the roof’s edge. Over time, ice builds up and blocks water from properly draining off the roof. With no place to drain, the water seeps under the roof shingles and into your attic and the inside walls of your house, causing serve damage.

To avert ice damming you should keep your attic no more than 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature and well ventilated. The cooler the attic the less likely that ice and snow will melt and refreeze on the roof. Also, keep your attic floor well insulated so the heat stays in the house instead of escaping through the roof. Insulation with a rating of R-30 is considered the minimum for an attic.

Bursting pipes also cause significant damage to homes. Frozen water increases pressure in pipes, causing the pipe to burst. Pipes located in attics, outside walls and crawl spaces are most susceptible to freezing in cold weather. To prevent bursting pipes take these preventive steps:

  1. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation. The more the better.
  2. Caulk cracks and holes in outside walls and in the foundation near water pipes.
  3. Open cabinet doors during very cold periods to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
  4. Leave faucets on at a slow trickle; use this step especially when the plumbing runs through unheated or exposed areas.

There are other things you can do to protect your family and home from injury or loss this winter. For instance:

  1. Be sure you have plenty of rock salt, sand, and snow shovels so you can remove snow and ice immediately and completely from the sidewalks on your property after a winter storm. Doing so will minimize your exposure to liability lawsuits filed by people who are hurt when they slip and fall on your property.
  2. Have your heating system inspected by a certified technician to ensure that it is working properly. Doing so could prevent more costly repairs and a couple cold nights.
  3. Check your smoke detectors to ensure they are working properly. Also, buy a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t already have one.
  4. Check and clean the gutters. Clogged gutters can contribute to ice damming and cause basement flooding when snow melts.
  5. Replace missing or worn roof shingles.
  6. Have your house’s chimney checked and cleaned, if necessary, to minimize fire hazard.
  7. Trim trees and branches away from your home. Ice, snow and wind can cause dead trees and branches to fall on your home.
  8. Drain and shut off outside water spigots.
  9. Keep the temperature inside your home no lower than 65 degrees. This step will help prevent freezing pipes.
  10. Repair broken stairs and banisters located outside. People need these more than ever when the sidewalks are slippery.
  11. Turn off portable or space heaters before going to bed or leaving your home.
  12. Never use heaters that burn kerosene or similar fuels in the home. They could ignite a fire and cause a build-up of carbon monoxide gases.
  13. Store combustible materials away from furnaces, fireplaces and portable heaters.

Contact TLIG today to make sure that your home is fully protected against everything that Old Man Winter will dish out this coming winter. We will review your homeowners insurance policy with you and will recommend any necessary additions to your insurance coverage.

TLIG is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs.

Visit us online at or call us at (434) 582-1444.