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Questions to Ask Your Agent at Every Stage of Life

Questions to Ask Your Agent at Every Stage of Life

6 QUESTIONS TO ASK AN INSURANCE AGENT IN YOUR 20’S AND 30’S

1. We’re getting married. Should we wed our auto insurance as well?

If one of you has a Mad Max-like driving history, then auto insurance might be one of those things you don’t merge once married. But if you and your spouse both have good driving records and no recent gaps in insurance coverage, you might save money by combining policies.

For a few more dollars a month, you can add ERIE Auto Plus, which includes features such as additional days of transportation expense coverage1 and waived deductible in certain situations that make ERIE’s great auto coverage even better.

2. We’re hunting for our first house – should homeowners insurance weigh into what we buy?

In the excitement of finding that first home, some buyers forget to consider the cost of homeowners insurance, and how different locations and types of homes might impact it. According to Realtor.com, the average annual cost for homeowners insurance is $952. However, factors such as distance from a fire department, proximity to storm-prone coastal areas, age of the home and your claims history can play a role in what it ultimately costs to insure a particular house.

A conversation with your ERIE agent as you start your search can give you a better perspective on potential costs and how they may impact what you can afford.

3. We’re having a baby. Should we get life insurance?

A new baby brings new responsibilities – and new expenses. Life insurance can help make sure that if an untimely death occurs, the surviving spouse can handle those responsibilities and costs without interruption.

Life insurance pays money to a chosen beneficiary — a spouse or co-parent, for example — when the insured person dies. In the short term, you can use the life insurance proceeds to pay for funeral expenses. Over time, it can help pay the mortgage and fund your child’s education.

These 8 tips for first-time life insurance buyers provide useful information to get you started.

4. Term or whole life?

So you’ve resolved to get life insurance. Now you face a new question: What kind?

  • Term life: Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific number of years (such as a 30-year policy to sync up with your new 30-year mortgage). For young people starting out, term is often the easiest, most affordable option.
  • Whole life: If you’re looking for lifelong coverage, then consider a whole life policy, sometimes called a permanent life plan. A smart approach is to get term insurance and make sure you’re covered now. During your policy term, you may often have the option to renew it or convert it into a permanent life plan.

A local ERIE agent can explain your options and help you decide what’s best for you.

5. What do you offer beyond the basics for homeowners insurance?

We get it: Your home is often the biggest investment you’ll make. It’s worth it to add on some extra protection to protect what you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Ask your local agent about ERIE Secure Home Bundles, which allow you to expand your protection beyond our standard homeowner’s policy with coverage available for underground service lines, appliances and more.

6. We’re digital natives… why do we need a human insurance agent?

It makes sense to buy a lot of products online. Buying online is often easier – and sometimes more cost effective. But when it comes to insurance, a DIY online policy isn’t always the best choice. Because insurance protects the things you care about most, there are benefits to working with an insurance agent.

Savvy Questions Before You Turn 45

The ages 35 to 45 are kind of the tweener years for grownups. You’re no longer just starting out – but you don’t really feel ‘middle-aged,’ either.

Conversely, as Bruce Springsteen would say, perhaps ‘you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore.’

With a growing family and responsibilities, you’re at the stage in your life that making the right insurance decisions is key. Doing so helps make sure you are prepared for whatever life throws at you, while also laying the foundation for a financially secure future.

Here are seven questions you should be asking now to help make sure you’re making smart decisions.

1. What is guaranteed replacement cost?

Losing your home to a fire or other catastrophe is a terrible experience. Yet, it can get even worse if, in the aftermath, you learn that you don’t have enough coverage to rebuild your house back to the way it was before tragedy struck – or increased costs of labor and materials make construction more expensive than what your policy is set up to cover. This is why it’s vital to consider getting guaranteed replacement cost on your homeowners insurance policy. ERIE’s guaranteed replacement cost coverage can pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house back to its previous size and specifications after a covered loss.1 (Keep in mind that guaranteed replacement cost isn’t available in all states. In North Carolina, ask about Enhanced Replacement Cost.)

2. Should I do a home inventory?

Short answer, yes. You’ve spent your hard-earned money on furnishings, electronics, jewelry, clothes, collectibles and toys large and small. In the event of a fire, theft or other loss to your home and belongings, the best way to make sure you are fully covered is to conduct a home inventory that creates a video record of your belongings and the condition of your home.

This has many benefits – the biggest, of course, is to help you estimate the value of your stuff so you can work with your insurance agent to get enough coverage. But your home inventory can also help you file claims faster and potentially apply for certain tax breaks or disaster assistance in the event of a major loss.

Read our related explainer on how to start your home inventory.

3. Have my life insurance needs changed?

Probably. If you have put off getting life insurance, now is the time to stop procrastinating and make sure your family is covered if something happens to you. Further, if you bought life insurance coverage when you were starting out, now is a good time to revisit your policy to make sure what you have meets your current and future needs.

Now may be a good time to consider extending the years on a term insurance policy or discuss the benefits of converting it to a whole life policy. A local insurance professional like an ERIE agent can help talk you through your options and help you decide what’s right for you.

4. But I have life insurance through work – shouldn’t that cover it?

Many employers provide life insurance as one of the benefits they offer employees. That’s great! But, unfortunately, many people falsely assume that gives them all the life insurance coverage they need.

For instance, your employer might provide group insurance that pays out two times your annual salary in the event you die. If you make $50,000 a year, that $100,000 payout will certainly help your family in the short term. Over time, however, it will likely fall short to cover expenses such as college tuition or healthcare needs. It’s best to talk to your ERIE agent about to make sure you have enough coverage to leave a legacy that keeps your family secure for the long haul.

Read more in our related explainer: I Have Life Insurance Through Work. Isn’t That Enough?

5. Should I be thinking about writing or updating my will?

You’re at the age  you should definitely create a will if you haven’t already. Life just gets more financially complex when you own a home or have kids. And if it’s been several years since you initially wrote your will, now is a good time to update it. When you do, make sure your beneficiaries are updated if needed on your life insurance policies and investments.

Not sure where to start? Read our tips for how to choose a life insurance beneficiary.

6. Do I need a home warranty, or are my appliances covered in my homeowners policy?

Home appliances don’t last forever – and when they break down, you can face costly repairs. Sure you can purchase extra warranties, but those aren’t cheap either and they are often limited in coverage. Fortunately, ERIE customers ErieSecure Home®who also purchased Select bundle endorsement with Sewer and Drain Backup Coverage2 get an extra cushion of protection for major appliances and home systems right in a homeowners insurance policy with our Equipment Breakdown Coverage. Check with your ERIE agent to make sure you’re covered.

7. I’m on a tight budget. How can I avoid unexpected auto insurance rate hikes?

We all love a good deal. First: Check in with your local ERIE agent to make sure you’re getting all the insurance discounts you qualify for. (For example: With a multi-policy discount, you could save 16% to 25% if you insure multiple cars with us, or one car plus a home or life policy.)

IN YOUR 40’S AND 50’S

1. We’re on a collision course with college tuition and expenses. What can we do to ease the pain?

No doubt, expenses can be tight when you’re parenting teens and a “send money” request is just a push notification away. It pays to find ways to reduce costs any way you can.

Your ERIE agent can talk you through a range of potential insurance discounts, from multi-policy discounts and first accident forgiveness to a diminishing deductible option. Make sure to ask about the ERIE Rate Lock®  feature1, which assures your auto rates won’t change until you add or remove a vehicle or a driver, change your address, or where you usually park your car. This policy endorsement freezes your auto premium year after year, even if you file a claim. Cha-ching.

2. How should we prepare for having more drivers in the family?

Sweet 16 can be a bit bittersweet for parents of a prospective driver. It can be nerve-wracking but there are steps to take to make sure your teen drivers are as safe as possible on the road. One great option is YourTurn®, ERIE’s driving safety app that measures certain criteria such as speeding, hard braking and phone usage, helping to make drivers of all ages more aware of their driving behaviors and identifying areas for improvement2. ERIE also offers several insurance discounts for youthful drivers, from 5 percent to 20 percent, which could apply to your family if you have new drivers.

3. Are we covered if we – or our teens – lend our car to a friend?

Whether you are willing to hand the keys to your car over to a friend or family member is a personal choice. But know that doing so does carry some risk.

Read more in our related blog on whose insurance pays when you lend your car to friends or family.

For instance, in the event of an accident, it’s your auto insurance policy that typically would have to pay. Depending on the situation – and the specifics of your policy – you might get stuck paying a surcharge on your auto insurance premium for an at-fault accident, even if you weren’t the one driving at the time. (Every policy is different, so ask your ERIE agent if this applies to you.)

4. We’re driving some nicer vehicles these days; should we get nicer insurance?

It’s worth exploring. ERIE’s standard auto policies offer great coverage, but there are some affordable ways to get extra layers of protection in the event of a crash or damage to your vehicles.

For instance, say you bought a shiny new car 18 months ago, and it ends up getting totaled. Typically, your insurance will cover the current value of the vehicle… but with depreciation, that policy might not get you back in a ride that has the same quality and features of the one now destined for the junkyard.

But by adding the ERIE Auto Security endorsement3, if you total a new car4 that’s less than two years old, ERIE will pay for the cost for you to replace it with the newest model year. In short, your car will depreciate, but your insurance doesn’t.

Also worth checking out is ERIE Auto Plus. For an additional $35 per year, this endorsement provides added benefits and protection such as diminishing deductible5 and additional transportation expense coverage6.

5. Our roof doesn’t seem to be aging as well as we are. Do we have the right coverage?

Replacing a roof is often one of the biggest investments you make as a homeowner. And it’s important to remember that your insurance policy covers sudden, unexpected damage… not routine wear and tear. Roofing insurance claims can be complicated – and each insurance company covers roof damage differently – which is why it’s so important to have the right coverage.

Learn more in our related explainer on what homeowners should know about insurance and roofs.

You also should be thinking about all the stuff that roof protects. Taking a home inventory creates a video record of your belongings and the condition of your home. This can help you choose the just-right coverage for what you own. And if you have a loss, having an inventory can expedite claims filings and applying for certain tax breaks or disaster assistance in the event of a major loss. Read more in our guide to starting your home inventory.

6. Are there life insurance moves we can make now to help us plan for a better retirement?

Short answer, most likely. As you age, your life insurance needs change. In your younger years, you may have gotten a term life policy. That’s typically the most affordable option, but does not offer the same benefits as a whole life policy that can become part of your investment/nest egg planning.

WHEN YOU APPROACH RETIREMENT

1. It’s been a while since we looked at our home and auto policies. What are the must-haves we should know about?

With your thoughts likely turning to checking off your bucket list and prepping for a comfortable retirement, you don’t need any roadblocks that steer your plan off course. That should start with making sure you have home and auto insurance aimed at effectively handling any major losses.

When it comes to your home, ERIE’s guaranteed replacement cost coverage1 can pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house back to its previous size and specifications after a covered loss – even if increased costs of labor and materials make construction more expensive than expected. Additionally, ask your agent about ERIE Secure Home Bundles, which offer ways to expand your protection beyond our standard homeowners policy for underground service lines, appliances and more.

Cruising into retirement with a new ride? Ask about the ERIE Auto Security2endorsement. If you total a new car3 that’s less than two years old, ERIE will pay to replace it with the newest model year. (In short, your car will depreciate, but your insurance doesn’t.) And if you’re looking for an affordable way to boost your auto coverage, ask about ERIE Auto Plus for extra features for just $35 (or less) per year.

2. We’ll likely be on a fixed budget in retirement. What can we do to avoid unexpected rate hikes?

Your ERIE agent can talk you through a range of potential insurance discounts, from multi-policy discounts and first accident forgiveness to a diminishing deductible option.

As you cruise into your golden years on the road, ERIE offers a few discounts and perks:

  • 55+ Driving Discount: Yes, a discount for all of your good, hard-earned driving experience. Talk to your Agent about this discount.4
  • Reduced Usage Discount: A good option for snowbirds: If you plan to store your vehicle for 90 consecutive days or more, ERIE offers a reduced usage discount in most states (except Kentucky).4
  • Accident Prevention Course: Updating your driving skills, just like in your younger years, there’s a driving discount available for drivers 55+ who retake a driving skills course.

Beyond that, ERIE provides some additional options that help avoid untimely rate hikes. With the ERIE Rate Lock® feature6, you will pay the same auto premium year after year. Even if you have a claim, your rates won’t change until you make certain changes to your auto insurance policy, such as adding or removing a vehicle or a driver from your policy, changing your primary residence or where you usually park your car.

3. We’re thinking of downsizing. How might that affect our homeowners coverage and cost?

One might assume a smaller home translates to smaller insurance costs as well. But that’s not always the case, as a range of factors drive homeowners insurance rates. For instance, if your downsize lands you in a seaside bungalow, you could be facing a spike in what you pay for homeowners insurance because of the risks associated with coastal living.

The age of a home factors in, as well. On one hand, a newly built house needs fewer repairs and has the latest equipment, technology and safety features that can mean to lower risks — and (potentially) lower payments. On the other hand, if all that newer stuff costs more to replace, it could prove more costly to insure than your current home. Even your proximity to a fire department can impact rates.

It really comes down to a case-by-case situation. That’s why it’s a great benefit to have your ERIE agent involved during the house-hunting stage.

4. Does life insurance still make sense at this stage of our lives?

There’s no set answer for that question, which is definitely worth exploring with your ERIE agent. How much – or little – life insurance you have as an empty nester depends on a range of factors including your current and anticipated financial situation, the status of your dependents or grown children and your future plans.

Keep in mind that retirement savings might not stretch as far as expected after factoring in taxes, inflation and less-than-stellar investment returns. With a whole life policy, you can borrow against your policy cash value as well as use it to supplement your income during your retirement years. And while you’re thinking about life insurance make sure your will is updated and your beneficiaries are clearly defined.

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Getting Married

6 Smart Insurance Questions for Newlyweds

So you’ve tied the knot – or at least are starting to prepare for the big day. This major life step often leads to plans to buy a house or upgrade your apartment so there’s enough room for the two of you…  and perhaps some future bundles of joy.

Amid the whirlwind of excitement and change, insurance may not be top of mind as you’re mapping out your new life together. But making some smart decisions now can help ensure sure you are well protected and positioned to thrive into the future.

Here are six smart questions to discuss with your insurance agent.

6 QUESTIONS TO ASK AN INSURANCE AGENT IN YOUR 20’S AND 30’S

1. We’re getting married. Should we wed our auto insurance as well?

If one of you has a Mad Max-like driving history, then auto insurance might be one of those things you don’t merge once married. But if you and your spouse both have good driving records and no recent gaps in insurance coverage, you might save money by combining policies.

For a few more dollars a month, you can add ERIE Auto Plus, which includes features such as additional days of transportation expense coverage1 and waived deductible in certain situations that make ERIE’s great auto coverage even better.

2. We’re hunting for our first house – should homeowners insurance weigh into what we buy?

In the excitement of finding that first home, some buyers forget to consider the cost of homeowners insurance, and how different locations and types of homes might impact it. According to Realtor.com, the average annual cost for homeowners insurance is $952. However, factors such as distance from a fire department, proximity to storm-prone coastal areas, age of the home and your claims history can play a role in what it ultimately costs to insure a particular house.

A conversation with your ERIE agent as you start your search can give you a better perspective on potential costs and how they may impact what you can afford.

3. We’re having a baby. Should we get life insurance?

A new baby brings new responsibilities – and new expenses. Life insurance can help make sure that if an untimely death occurs, the surviving spouse can handle those responsibilities and costs without interruption.

Life insurance pays money to a chosen beneficiary — a spouse or co-parent, for example — when the insured person dies. In the short term, you can use the life insurance proceeds to pay for funeral expenses. Over time, it can help pay the mortgage and fund your child’s education.

These 8 tips for first-time life insurance buyers provide useful information to get you started.

4. Term or whole life?

So you’ve resolved to get life insurance. Now you face a new question: What kind?

  • Term life: Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific number of years (such as a 30-year policy to sync up with your new 30-year mortgage). For young people starting out, term is often the easiest, most affordable option.
  • Whole life: If you’re looking for lifelong coverage, then consider a whole life policy, sometimes called a permanent life plan. A smart approach is to get term insurance and make sure you’re covered now. During your policy term, you may often have the option to renew it or convert it into a permanent life plan.

A local ERIE agent can explain your options and help you decide what’s best for you.

5. What do you offer beyond the basics for homeowners insurance?

We get it: Your home is often the biggest investment you’ll make. It’s worth it to add on some extra protection to protect what you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Ask your local agent about ERIE Secure Home Bundles, which allow you to expand your protection beyond our standard homeowner’s policy with coverage available for underground service lines, appliances and more.

6. We’re digital natives… why do we need a human insurance agent?

It makes sense to buy a lot of products online. Buying online is often easier – and sometimes more cost effective. But when it comes to insurance, a DIY online policy isn’t always the best choice. Because insurance protects the things you care about most, there are benefits to working with an insurance agent.

As an experienced local pro, an ERIE agent can answer your questions, help you understand what you really do (and don’t) need and talk you through things if you ever need to file a claim.

Still curious? See what made our list of 6 reasons why customers love working with a local ERIE agent.

GETTING MARRIED? GET A QUOTE WITH ERIE

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How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frigid winter temperatures can cause pipes to freeze – or even burst. Do you know how to tell if pipes are frozen? We’ve pulled together tips to help prevent frozen pipes and a list of suggestions for you to follow if they do freeze.

Pro tip: Know ahead of time how your homeowners insurance can kick in to help repair damage from a frozen and burst water pipe. Not sure if you’re covered? Talk to a local ERIE agent to find out.

SYMPTOMS OF FROZEN PIPES

One of the earliest signs of a frozen pipe is when no water comes out of your faucet when you turn it on. If you notice that, head first to the basement and check to see that the water is still turned on and that you don’t have a leak. Once you’ve confirmed these two things, continue your inspection to make sure one of your pipes has not burst. If your search reveals that your pipes are frozen but none have ruptured, you have two choices:

  • Call a plumber to help thaw your frozen pipes. Most times, this is a better idea if you don’t think you can safely thaw the pipes yourself, you don’t know where the frozen pipes are or you can’t access the frozen area.
  • Attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself. Be aware this option can be dangerous if not done correctly.

HOW TO FIX FROZEN PIPES

If you’re not an experienced DIY-er, it’s safer to defer this one to a professional. However, there are fast fixes you can try if you’re experienced with home maintenance work. If you attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep your faucet open. Water and steam will be created during the thawing process, and your pipes need an opening to discharge this. Keeping the faucet open also allows for moving water to run through the pipe, which will expedite the thawing process.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. This can be done by wrapping an electronic heating pad around the pipe, heating the area with a hair dryer or both. If you lack either of these items, using towels soaked in hot water will help as well.  Remember, this is a temporary fix and the heating pad should not be left unattended to prevent a fire.
  • Know what not to do. Never use a blowtorch, propane or kerosene heaters, a charcoal stove or any other open flame device to thaw your frozen pipes. That presents a severe fire hazard. You should also avoid using a space heater unless you are sure the area is clear of any flammable material. Again, never leave the space heater unattended.
  • Continue applying heat until water flow returns to normal. Once you have successfully thawed the pipe, turn on other faucets in your home to check for any more frozen water pipes.
  • Take swift action if the frozen pipes are located inside an exterior wall. This is a serious situation when you should call a professional contractor, as repairs may involve cutting a hole in the wall toward the inside of the house to expose those pipes to warmer air.

HOW TO PREVENT FROZEN PIPES

While we can’t control the weather, there are things we can do to prevent pipes from freezing. To prevent pipes from freezing and causing major damage, follow these steps:

  • Drain water from pipes that are likely to freeze. This includes your swimming pool and sprinkler water supply lines.
  • Disconnect any hoses from the outside of your home, drain the hoses and store them in the garage. Make sure to close the indoor valves supplying these outdoor access points.
  • Insulate the area around vents and light fixtures. This helps prevent heat from escaping into the attic.
  • Seal any wall cracks. Be sure to pay careful attention to the areas around utility service lines.
  • Open kitchen cabinets. This allows the warm air to circulate around the pipes.
  • Keep the garage doors closed to protect water lines.
  • Allow your faucets to drip cold water on the coldest days. The movement will make it harder for the water to freeze.
  • Keep your thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Never let it fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you leave your home.
  • Ensure you have proper seals on all doors and windows.
  • Place a 60-watt bulb in areas where you’re concerned about pipes freezing. Make sure there are no combustible materials near the bulb.

PROTECTION FROM FROZEN WATER PIPES

Frozen water pipes and the damage they can cause are a reality for thousands of people each year. That’s especially the case when you are at below freezing temperatures for an extended period of time.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety says a burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage. That’s because the damage can be extensive.

“We see about 2,000 claims per day during an average January winter,” says Chris Zimmer, senior vice president of claims for Erie Insurance. “A number of them are due to frozen water pipes.”

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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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Medicare Supplement Insurance

Medicare Supplement Insurance: Is Plan F Going Away?

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, Medigap plans sold to people new to Medicare won’t be allowed to cover the Part B deductible. Because of this, Plans C and F will no longer be available to people who are new to Medicare on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

However, if you already have one of these two plans (or the high deductible version of Plan F), you’ll be able to keep your plan. Also, if you were eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020, but haven’t enrolled yet, you may still be able to buy one of these plans.

For individuals with existing Plan F coverage: If you ever decide to switch carriers for any reason, you’ll still be allowed to maintain your Plan F coverage. This type of change will be subject to underwriting, so those considering a switch should keep this in mind.

WHY IS PLAN F GOING AWAY?

On Jan. 1, 2020, MACRA officially takes effect. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) is the Federal Law that will be impacting Medicare Supplement plans in all states. Only beneficiaries with existing Plan F coverage will be able to keep Plan F. Plan G will be the new “go-to” plan for those newly eligible for coverage after Jan. 1, 2020.

WHAT IS PLAN G?

Medicare Parts A and B provide insurance coverage for health-related expenses, but they don’t cover all of the health care costs you may have. While all Medicare Supplement plans help offset those costs, Plan G will now offer the most comprehensive coverage for those becoming newly eligible to Medicare.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAN F AND PLAN G?

The key difference between Plan F and Plan G is that Plan G does not cover the Part B deductible. This is because the federal government wanted to have each beneficiary have a vested interest in their care. The good news: premiums for Plan G are generally less expensive by more than the $250 deductible amount. Meaning although you’ll be responsible for the $250 deductible, you could save more than $350 in total premium. (Premium savings will vary by carrier.)

WHAT DOES PLAN G COVER?

If you choose Medicare Supplement Plan G from Erie Family Life, you won’t incur any out-of-pocket costs for expenses such as:

  • Part A deductible
  • Part A hospital copayments
  • Part B copayments
  • Part B excess physician charges
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance
  • Foreign emergency care

Medicare Supplement Plan G will still be a great option for those becoming newly eligible for Medicare. Plan G continues to allow you to choose any physician for your care, including specialists, while eliminating many out-of-pocket expenses associated with that care. Instead of paying copays and deductibles, you’ll pay a monthly premium for your Medicare Supplement plan.

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR A MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT PLAN?

If you are age 65 or over and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan policy.

You can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan policy if you are age 65 or over and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. The one-time Open Enrollment period, which begins on the first day of the month an individual is 65, or older, and enrolled in Part B provides for guaranteed issue. Individuals under age 65 eligible for and enrolled in Part B; are not eligible for guaranteed issue unless they have lost or are losing creditable coverage. In some states, Medicare Supplement insurance policies are available to people with disabilities who are under the age 65.

If you’re considering a Medicare Supplement plan, a great place to start is by contacting your ERIE agent or find a local agent. Have your Medicare ID card ready. Your agent can help answer your questions to determine which plan is right for you, and provide a free quote.

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Customized Emergency Kits

5 Customized Emergency Kits to Weather Any Disaster

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 48% of Americans do not have emergency kit supplies.

Building a basic emergency kit for evacuations or stay-at-home orders will help to keep your family safe. (Having the right homeowners insurance helps give you peace of mind, too.)

You might already know the basic 31 items that should be in every home emergency kit. But when it comes to survival kits, one size doesn’t fit all. Here are five different ways to personalize yours so you’re prepared for whatever weather flies your way.

EMERGENCY KIT FOR POWER OUTAGES

When the power goes out, immediate concerns involve food and safety. (Read more about how to manage a power outage.) If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t worry about losing your perishable foods; an unopened fridge will keep foods cold for about four hours. Here are some helpful things to have on hand:

  • Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers preserve food when packed with ice.
  • Digital quick-response thermometers check your foods’ internal temperatures to ensure they remained cold enough to consume.
  • Generators are especially essential if you live with someone who depends on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment. (Read our list of 9 things to know if you have a backup generator.)
  • Flashlights provide safety by guiding you through a dark house and preventing fires from candles.

EMERGENCY KITS FOR WINTER STORMS

During a nasty winter storm, staying warm and safe take priority. Make sure you have these safety items:

  • Sand, rock salt or non-clumping cat litter make walkways and steps less slippery.
  • Warm coats, gloves, mittens, hats, boots, extra blankets and warm clothing are essential for all household members.
  • Fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves provide necessary alternative heat. Pro tip: No matter which heating source you use, keep a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector and a fire extinguisher in the same room it’s in. Read more in our guide to safe home heating.

EMERGENCY KITS FOR HURRICANES AND FLOODS

Hurricanes and floods often mean evacuation. Have these additional items on hand so you’re ready to hit the road if needed:

  • Tools and supplies for securing your home.
  • Emergency blanket(s), extra clothing, hats, sturdy shoes and rain gear will help protect your family from extreme weather elements.
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen can come in handy if you are unable to be sheltered.
  • Map(s) of the area help you navigate out of the area, especially if cell service is unavailable.
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys can be used in case one set is lost while evacuating or if you and other household members split up.
  • Camera for photos of damage.

If you’re safe enough to weather the storm but under a hurricane or flood watch, here’s how to prepare.

  • Fill plastic bottles you have on-hand with clean water for drinking. Learn more about how to store drinking water during a natural disaster.
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water to keep your household running. Never drink or bathe young children in this sitting water because lead can leak from the glaze in bathtubs and sinks into water stored in them. Use this water to clean floors, do laundry and flush the toilet.
  • Fill your car with gas, in case you need to evacuate later.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe if flooding occurs. Flood water can be contaminated with waste or other contaminants that lead to illness. Discard food and beverage products and anything you use to eat and drink that have contacted flood water (even if it’s only a little bit), including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. The Red Cross says: “When in doubt, throw it out!”

EMERGENCY PREPARATION FOR TORNADOES

Tornadoes can form quickly. While your basic emergency kit covers your basic needs, it’s also important to take these major steps well in advance to stay protected:

  • Strengthen existing garage doors to improve the wind resistance, particularly double-wide garage doors.
  • Decide on a safe space within your home where everyone knows to meet when tornado watches or warnings appear. Basements are the best place to shelter. Your next safest option is the lowest lying level of a sound structure in a hallway or an area without windows. According to the American Red Cross, mobile homes are never safe during tornadoes. It is best to safely get to a sturdy shelter immediately.
  • Always wear a seatbelt if you must drive your car during a tornado and toward safety.

EMERGENCY KIT FOR WILDFIRES

In wildfire-prone areas, experts recommend having supplies to stay at home for up to two weeks. However, if you have to evacuate, it’s recommended to have three days’ worth of supplies on hand – so make sure it’s portable if authorities say you have to move now. Beyond your basic kits, here are some tips to prep for wildfires in the long term:

  • Portable air cleaners work best when run continuously with doors and windows closed.
  • Water sources outside your home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool should be identified and maintained, so they can be easily accessed if needed to fight flames.
  • Gather tools like a rake, ax, hand saw or chain saw, bucket and shovel that you can use as fire tools before emergency responders arrive.
  • Regularly clean roofs and gutters. Dry, loose debris can spell trouble if sparks fly. See what else can happen if you don’t clean your gutters.
  • Keep a long garden hose that can reach all areas of your home and other structures on the property.
  • Install outdoor outlets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. Make sure they are freeze-proof exterior water outlets. In addition, you may want to install outlets 50 feet away from your home for more electricity accessibility.
  • Clearly mark your house number or address where fire vehicles need to enter your property.

PRINTABLE CHECKLIST FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

Want a handy printable? Check out these PDF checklists from the American Red Cross for the following disasters: power outageswinter stormshurricanesfloodstornadoesand wildfires.

LOOKING AFTER YOU

Emergency situations can be stressful, but you can feel confident knowing you’re prepared with the right tools on hand. When you’re with ERIE, you can rest easy knowing that your local agent is here to provide a little kindness on even the most difficult day.

For more than 95 years, we’ve been committed to providing claims service that comes from actual people, with empathy, in real-time. Depending on the size of the storm or weather situation, ERIE will deploy our Catastrophe Team to the scene to help service our customers who have claims. A helping hand and friendly face are a phone call (or walk to the CAT van) away.

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