Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


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All posts by Duane Long

Boost Your Home Resale Value

7 DYI Projects to Boost Your Home’s Resale Value

Whether you need more space for your growing family or are relocating for a new job, moving to a new home is something most of us will encounter eventually.

But while looking for the perfect house can be an exciting process, you’ll also be faced with the reality of selling your current one.

Putting your home on the market is a daunting task. Not only do you want it to sell quickly, but you also want to get the most out of your investment. After all, the more money you make at the sale, the more you’ll have available to put down on your next house.

See also: Home Buyers Reveal What Features They Would (And Wouldn’t) Choose Again

Wondering if there are any simple improvements you can make before the “for sale” sign goes in the lawn?

Here are seven easy do-it-yourself projects you can tackle to get the best bang for your buck – and impress a potential buyer:

  1. Clear your clutter. Believe it or not, experts say this simple project can add nearly $2,000 to your home’s value! A full house can distract buyers and make rooms look smaller. So go room by room to clean out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Use large trash bags or empty boxes to throw away what you don’t need and donate items in good condition.
  2. Update your kitchen. Kitchen remodels can be expensive. But you don’t have to completely gut your kitchen to wow a potential buyer. Simple updates like new appliances, countertops, backsplash or flooring can give your room a more modern look. Installing stainless steel appliances or quartz countertops can cost as little as $5,000 while boosting your home’s resale value between 3-7%.Want more inspiration at a lower price? See what made our list of easy and affordable kitchen upgrades.
  3. Landscape your yard. Good curb appeal has been shown to increase a home’s value between 5-20%. Cut back any overgrown plants and trim your trees and bushes. Pull those weeds and put down some fresh mulch. A little landscaping will go a long way to ensure the exterior views of your home aren’t blocked. And it will make your house look like a place buyers want to live.
  4. Paint your walls a neutral color. Studies have shown a fresh coat of paint can bump up your home’s value between 1-2%. Consider using a neutral color like light grey or a shade of white. This will help cover any stains, scuffs or chipped paint. In turn, you’ll liven up the space and help a potential buyer imagine how they can make your home their own.
  5. Improve your energy efficiency. Lower utility bills can help attract potential buyers. Projects like adding insulation, high-efficiency windows, energy-efficient appliances or LED light bulbs can all reduce the energy your home uses. Overall, making sure your house isn’t an energy hog can improve its worth between 1-3%.
  6. Make changes to help people of all ages. Consider adding features to your home that make it more accessible. That may include installing a walk-in shower or creating a master bedroom on the main floor. These “universal design” elements could increase your home’s value between 1-2%. Learn more about how universal design can help you age in place.
  7. Be smart with technology. Technology evolves fast. But products like a smart thermostat or keypad locks can be useful for years to come. Features like these can help boost your home’s value between 3-5%.

You’ve worked hard to get where you are today. The people and things in your life are a big deal. That’s why we think the insurance that protects them should be a big deal, too.

At ERIE, every homeowners insurance policy comes with a local agent who’s there to help you understand and feel confident about what you’re buying and how it works. And, yes – we offer 100% guaranteed replacement cost* for worry-free coverage that protects you without surprises.

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Neighbors Tree Falls

What Happens If My Neighbor’s Tree Falls in My Yard?

Trees can be tricky, but for the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard. So if a storm causes your neighbor’s tree to fall in your yard, your homeowners insurance could help cover the cost of removing the tree and remedying the damage it caused on your property, after your deductible.

The same is true in reverse: If a tree on your property falls in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor should contact his or her insurance company to determine what type of coverage is available for damage or cleanup in their yard.

In most cases, neighbors are able to work things out without too much trouble. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to file a homeowners insurance claim. Your homeowners insurance may or may not cover the cost of tree cleanup, depending on your policy and the company you work with.

Good news: Homeowners insurance from ERIE typically pays for the cost (subject to sublimits) of removal of fallen trees if it’s due to a covered peril, such as a storm.

If there’s ever an issue between neighbors, you can rely on your claims adjuster to help straighten everything out.

THE CLAIMS PROCESS

If a tree falls on your house, the first thing to do, if it’s safe, is to try to prevent further damage to your home and property. Make sure to take some photos to document what happened. Then call your insurance agent, who can explain your options and help you understand if and how to file a claim. When you file a claim, a claims adjuster will come by to evaluate the damage and explain how your homeowners coverage comes into play. It’s recommended that you call your claims adjuster before you contract to have the tree removed.

Sometimes trees fall on cars. If it’s not safe or possible to remove the tree from the car yourself, you should call a professional to remove it. (Again, talk to your insurance agent and a claims adjuster first and take a few photos of the fallen tree on your car.) Depending on the damage and terms of your insurance coverage, the optional comprehensive coverage you may have under your auto policy could provide coverage for the loss.

PREVENTING TREE DAMAGE

Preventive measures matter when it comes to trees. Start by looking for signs of distress such as dead limbs, cracks in the trunk or major limbs, leaning to one side and branches that are close to a house or power line. Mushroom growth on the roots or bark can also signal trouble.

Homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It’s possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor’s house or property, if your tree falls due (in whole or part) to your own neglect. One of the best things to do is to regularly have large trees trimmed. (The Tree Care Industry Association lists accredited tree care professionals.)

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Guess The Cost of Life Insurance

Accurately Guess The Cost of Life Insurance?

Life insurance: It’s not exactly the kind of topic that comes up during family dinner. No one really wants to talk about the death of a loved one. But when it comes to securing your family’s financial security, it’s a conversation that needs to happen.

The fact is, there are many things about life insurance that people don’t know.

Find out what people had to say about the cost of life insurance and their reasons for (or against!) buying coverage in the new national survey from Erie Insurance.

LIFE INSURANCE: IT’S MORE AFFORDABLE THAN MOST PEOPLE THINK

When asked why they don’t have life insurance, almost four in 10 (38%) said it would be too expensive. However, survey results show most people probably overestimate the cost.

For example: With Erie Family Life, a 20-year, $250,000 term policy would cost roughly $200/year for a healthy 30-year-old man and $185 for a healthy 30-year-old woman.

When asked to estimate the cost, more than half of respondents (56%) said that policy would cost $300/year or more, including 10% thinking it would be $500/year. A full 11% more than doubled the actual cost, estimating the cost at more than $500/year.

The good news? Life insurance is probably more affordable than you think. Estimate your coverage with our life insurance calculator, or talk to a local ERIE agent who can provide you with a customized quote based on your specific circumstances (and budget).

TOP REASONS AND MOTIVATIONS FOR HAVING LIFE INSURANCE

So why do people buy life insurance, anyway? It’s not for you – it’s for those you leave behind.

The survey asked life insurance policyholders to list their top one or two reasons for buying this coverage.

The top answers were:

  1. To have money to leave as an inheritance for loved ones: 37%
  2. So my loved ones would have money to pay for my funeral expenses: 37%
  3. So my spouse and/or children would have enough money to maintain our current standard of living without my income: 32%
  4. So my loved ones could pay my debts: 17%
  5. So my spouse and/or children could keep our current home: 10%

See more surprising facts and statistics about life insurance in the infographic of survey results.

CAN YOU GET A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY DURING COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health event in many of our lifetimes.

Have you ever wondered how someone diagnosed with the virus would be affected when it comes to purchasing life insurance?

When asked, 10% of respondents said they believe people who have had COVID-19 cannot get life insurance.  Four in 10 people (41%) said they don’t know how the virus could affect someone’s eligibility to buy a life policy.

The truth: Some insurance companies have developed specific screening questions during the quoting process, related to COVID-19.

Generally, a person who had tested positive but had been asymptomatic may see no impact on their ability to get life insurance. However, a person who had tested positive and been hospitalized may see an impact. For eligibility questions, talk to a local professional such as your local ERIE agent.

LIFE INSURANCE AND HEALTH CONDITIONS

When you’re looking to buy life insurance, how does your overall health come into play?

Survey says: The majority of people know that certain health conditions affect the price of a life insurance policy, but there is some uncertainty. When asked if high blood pressure can impact the price of your policy, 65% of people accurately said that insurance companies consider that when determining a rate. Others (20%) weren’t sure, while 15% incorrectly assumed high blood pressure doesn’t affect your rate.

Many people were also unsure about how a history of cancer might affect someone’s ability to get life insurance. Almost one in five (19%) think a person who has had cancer cannot get life insurance, while 37% don’t know whether they could or not.

In fact, cancer, along with other past serious conditions like a heart attack or stroke, often will not automatically disqualify a person from getting life insurance. Erie Insurance considers the type and severity of the illness, the time that has elapsed since the diagnosis, and current medications or treatment regimen when determining if a person is eligible for a life insurance policy.

WHO ARE THE MOST COMMON LIFE INSURANCE BENEFICIARIES?

According to our survey, most people name their spouse (59%) or child/children (38%) as their life insurance policy beneficiaries. However, some people want to take care of their furry friends who are left behind. Surprisingly, 10% listed their dog as their beneficiary while 4% listed their cat!

Generally speaking, a person cannot literally name a pet as a life insurance beneficiary. This is because, legally speaking, pets are considered property and are unable to sign off on legal documents.

Learn more in our related blog story: How to Choose a Life Insurance Beneficiary.

AFFORDABLE AND FLEXIBLE LIFE INSURANCE COVERAGE

“Just as with any type of insurance, what’s right for your neighbor may not be right for you,” said Lou Colaizzo, senior vice president, Erie Family Life. “Your agent can help you determine the best life insurance policy for you and your family based on your individual circumstances and needs.”

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Parking Lot Accidents

How Does Insurance Cover Parking Lot Accidents?

Parking lots can be crazy places. Whether you’re at the mall, the grocery store or even just grabbing a quick coffee… all those cars coming and going can up anyone’s chances of being in a parking lot accident.

Which may lead you wonder: How does insurance cover parking lot accidents? Let’s walk through a few common scenarios.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I HIT SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR IN A PARKING LOT?

Accidents happen. That’s why having the right auto insurance can give you peace of mind.

If you do hit a car in a parking lot, here’s what to do next:

  • Don’t leave the scene. If you drive away without telling anyone, that’s considered a hit-and-run. You could face a whole other set of legal issues if a security camera or witness spots you in the act. So do the honest thing and stick around.
  • Get out of harm’s way. Even a simple fender-bender can block traffic or scatter broken glass. Make sure you’re a safe distance from anything dangerous and be mindful of the flow of traffic. If needed, put your hazard lights on to alert nearby drivers.
  • Try to locate the car’s owner. Ask a store employee to page the owner of the car over the loudspeaker.
  • Leave a note. It’s the right thing to do… and potentially even the law. Not leaving a note is considered a hit-and-run in the vast majority of states, even if the damage was just a small scratch. Keep it simple and polite. Include your name, contact information, and a brief explanation of what happened. Leave it in a secure spot where it won’t blow away.
  • Consider calling the police. If the damage is serious, they can help you file an incident report and track down the car’s owner.
  • Call your insurance agent. When you’re with ERIE, you don’t have to go it alone. Your local ERIE agent is there to answer questions and help you understand what’s covered.

Remember, policy conditions might require you to tell ERIE or your agent about the incident – even if you decide not to file a claim. Learn more about what to do when accidents happen.

SOMEONE HIT MY PARKED CAR. NOW WHAT?

An at-fault driver’s auto insurance should cover the property damage they caused to the other vehicle. Hopefully, they left a note and you can get in touch without too much fuss. Unfortunately, some people won’t do the right thing. If you return to a dented or dinged car with no indication of who did it, you can ask around to see if there were any witnesses. If there aren’t any, ask the store if they have security cameras.

If the incident is a hit-and-run—or if the at-fault driver has no auto insurance or not enough insurance—you’ll have to rely on your own auto insurance to cover the damage. That’s assuming you purchased optional collision coverage on your own vehicle.

Also, uninsured motorist property damage coverage that is available in some states protects your car if it’s struck by a hit-and-run driver. (A deductible may apply.)

Just keep in mind that you’ll likely need uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This insurance coverage is optional in some states and mandatory in others. It covers you and your passengers’ damages if you’re injured by an uninsured driver or a driver who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Whether it’s a simple fender-bender or something more serious, remember – your local ERIE agent is there to help answer questions and provide advice.

WHAT HAPPENS IF TWO CARS HIT EACH OTHER AT THE SAME TIME?

There is usually an at-fault driver when there’s a parking lot accident. But there are some cases where an accident is two drivers’ fault—for instance, two people may back out at the same time and hit each other. What typically happens in these cases is that each driver files a claim with their own insurance company.

HOW TO PREVENT PARKING LOT ACCIDENTS

Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep you, your car and others safe. Get our list of tips for how to avoid a parking lot accident.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. But when you’re with ERIE, you have your own personal insurance advisor – your local ERIE agent – when they do. Learn more about auto insurance or find a local ERIE agent in your area.

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Data Breach

5 Things to Know About Small Business Data Breaches

A data breach is not something that just happens to mega retailers – small businesses are also at risk. From customers’ credit card numbers to employee tax information, it’s likely that your small business handles sensitive data on a regular basis. (Learn how to keep data safe in this related blog post.)

All it takes is one convincing phishing email or a stolen laptop for that sensitive data to get into the wrong hands. Here are five surprising things to know about small business data breaches – and how you can protect yourself.

DATA BREACHES: WHAT SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS SHOULD KNOW

  1. They affect any business, large or small: In 2020, almost a third of data breaches involved small businesses, according to Small Business Trends. Larger businesses might have the money and resources to help them recover, but smaller companies face greater challenges in the recovery process.
  2. They’re costly. If several records are compromised, you could easily be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses. These expenses can include legal fees; costs to upgrade or replace your POS system (depending on the source of the breach) or even a forensic examination. Some of the more serious small business data breaches have led businesses to close. For those that do stay open, it can be costly to repair the damage to their reputation and restore customers’ trust.
  3. They have multiple causes.  Small businesses can experience a data breach in a number of different ways. In 2020, 70% of breaches were caused by external sources. Phishing scams top the list. Phishing is a tactic scammers use to contact others by email, phone or text– acting as a legitimate institution – to lure them into providing sensitive data.  Another popular method for hackers is to install spyware to get into your system to steal private information.
  4. They can take a while to detect. The complexity of today’s technology combined with the sophistication of many hackers can make a data breach fly under the radar for weeks or even months. It can be hard for a small business, lacking the resources that many big businesses have, to uncover a breach.
  5. If it happens to you, take action and alert those involved. It’s important to let your customers and employees know what’s going on. Be transparent and be prepared to address any questions from affected individuals. Several states even require that businesses contact any individuals whose private, nonpublic information is exposed through a data breach. For trusted advice, read this guide to data breach response for business owners from the Federal Trade Commission.

PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS WITH BUSINESS DATA BREACH COVERAGE FROM ERIE

Having the right data security procedures in place can help reduce the risk of small business data breaches – but a data breach can still happen.

Here’s the good news: A business insurance policy from ERIE can help protect you with specialized coverage to get things back to normal.

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Avoid Hitting a Deer

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, we’re here to help get you back on the road as soon as possible. At Erie Insurance, deer-vehicle collisions are covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance, which is an optional coverage you can choose to add on. Learn more about how to customize your ERIE auto policy.

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