Water. We love it when it’s clean and tasty. We love it when it makes our gardens grow. We love swimming in it or watching it in fountains, waterfalls and oceans.

We love water as long as it stays where it’s supposed to be. But that life-giving, cleansing force can be powerful and destructive despite our best efforts to tame or contain it.

• Every water-based system or appliance, whether it’s a sink or a dam, will eventually need maintenance or replacement.

• No building code can guarantee a structure will withstand a relentless barrage of tidal surge.

• No stormwater drainage system can be endlessly effective when hammered for unprecedented periods of time by unprecedented amounts of rainfall or snowmelt.

And cleaning up the mess flood water leaves behind isn’t cheap. One inch can easily cause $25,000 or more in damage to your home.

Depending on the cause of that damage, it may be insurable by your homeowner’s insurance. Or it may be covered by flood Insurance. Or you may have to pay out of pocket.

Flood insurance covers damage claims arising from the overflow of a body of water or the accumulation of surface water due to events like torrential rain, snowmelt, mudflow or storm surge.

Flood insurance doesn’t normally cover water damage resulting from a mundane event, like a burst pipe or an overflowing appliance — even though your home may flood dramatically. Some homeowner insurance policies cover common sources of water damage, but others don’t. Be safe and review your policy with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent.

No Flood Insurance? Do You Feel Lucky?

Every homeowner should consider purchasing flood insurance. If you wait until you need it, you won’t be able to buy it in time to help you. Flood insurance normally includes a 30-day waiting period between the date of purchase and the date coverage takes effect.

Flood insurance is typically provided by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through insurance agents who sell the policies on its behalf. Limits on NFIP insurance policies are capped and may not be enough to fully repair or replace a flood damaged home and its contents. For this reason, many insurance companies offer special flood policies — often called “excess” — that offer additional dollars to pay for flood claims.

Many of the 12% of U.S. homeowners who now have flood insurance were required to purchase it by their mortgage lender because their home is in a FEMA-defined “flood zone.”

But FEMA also reports that 20% of flood damage occurs outside of designated “flood zones,” and flood maps are often redrawn due to changes in development, weather patterns and stormwater drainage systems.

It’s in the Forecast

While flooding events are unpredictable, when it comes to flood water itself, there are four
universal truths:
1. There’s more of it there than you think.
2. There’s more coming than you think.
3. It’s moving faster than you think.
4. It’s more powerful than you think.

Don’t let your eyes or instincts deceive you. Flood water easily destroy things and can kill you.

Once you appreciate that, you’re in a good position to protect yourself, your things and your financial well-being the next time water sloshes or rages through your neck of the woods.

Talk with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to learn about primary and excess flood insurance for your home and its contents. And remember, don’t delay: That next storm may be less than 30 days away!

Buying a car is a big purchase!

Here are the top 10 tips to steer you in the right direction:

1. Do your research ahead of time. Check out vehicle features and compare prices online. Being knowledgeable will help you negotiate and get the best deal.

2. Compare prices with local dealerships. You are never bound to one dealership for simply scouting out the market.

3. Consider obtaining financing from your bank, rather than the dealership. Banks and credit unions usually offer better rates than dealerships when financing.

4. Always negotiate: The price of the car, terms of your loan, value of your trade-in. Bargaining can save a ton of money.

5. Selling your vehicle is better than trading it in. Receive more value for going the traditional route, and selling your car.

6. If you do decide to trade-in, plan ahead and know your vehicle’s most value. Consider having the car appraised by a professional.

7. Test drive the car. Schedule an appointment in advance so the vehicle is ready to go, when you are. Make sure the car is a good fit for you before committing to the big purchase.

8. Shop mid-week and early in the morning. Not weekends. If you shop during a less busy time, you’re potentially the only serious buyer. The salesman wants to make a sale and might give more wiggle room with negotiations.

9. Negotiate the add-on fees. You can save money by negotiating add-on fees, like documentation, delivery costs and advertising fees.

10. Finalize details. Make sure to do a final review and walk- around of the vehicle to make sure the car is in-tact and clean. Ask any questions about features of the car before you drive off of the lot.

Congratulations on the new purchase!

Remember to talk to your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent about insuring your new car.

You’ve properly registered, licensed or certified your home childcare business according to the requirements in your state and are ready to get to work. Before allowing a child to walk (or crawl) into your home, consider a few essentials for your business liability insurance.

Liability Coverage

The law in some states may not require you to carry insurance for your home childcare business but operating such a business without at least some essential liability insurance is extremely dangerous and could cause irreparable financial harm. Liability insurance covers claims of property damage and bodily injury for which your business is responsible. A single, severe injury to a child could result in millions of dollars in damages, medical bills, rehab costs, pain and suffering or other expenses. And depending on how you’ve decided your business should legally operate—for example, as a sole proprietorship or a corporation, and so on—you may also become personally responsible, thus putting personal assets at risk, for any claims of liability against your business and resulting damages.

To determine how much business liability insurance is adequate for your business, you’ll need to start with two questions:

1) How comprehensive do you want your coverage to be? There are many choices of policies for your home childcare business, and some will offer more extensive coverage than others. For example, some may cover injuries resulting from special events like parties or field trips while others may specifically exclude such activities. Discuss coverage options with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent.

2) How high should your limits of liability be? Severity of a claim is unpredictable, so there’s no way to say how much is enough. Your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can provide you with the cost of a base limit of liability—such as $1 million. The cost to exponentially increase this limit may be less than you think.

Medical Insurance

Business liability insurance is essential should your business be legally responsible for an injury to a child in your care. It may also be possible to secure a type of medical insurance—often called “medical payments” or “medical expense” insurance—designed to pay an injured person’s medical bills regardless of fault. Some business liability policies offer a small amount of this coverage—such as $1,000–automatically while others may include or allow for the purchase of a much higher limit.

A Few Potential Gaps

While it’s true that business liability insurance policies vary, there are some common characteristics —and that could pose problems for you. For example, if your home has a swimming pool or a trampoline, you may have more difficulty finding coverage for your home childcare business. In addition, if you have a dog, you may find that many insurance companies will decline to offer coverage, depending on its breed.

It’s also important to remember that the liability insurance policy for your home childcare business likely will not cover injuries to your own children and thus should not be viewed as an alternative to a family health insurance policy.

Insured? Prove It!

As more consumers become educated about the importance of insurance, it’s increasingly likely that a potential customer will require you to furnish proof that your business is insured. You can easily accommodate such requests with a certificate of insurance (COI). Even if you are not asked by a potential customer for a COI, consider furnishing one anyway. A COI can help a potential customer feel more comfortable leaving their child in your care, and it could also create a competitive advantage for your business.

Rely on Your Insurance Experts

Simply put, it’s far too risky to operate a business entrusted with the well-being of children without adequate liability insurance. For more information, contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent.

What Is Condo Insurance?

When you purchase a condominium, you want to protect that investment in case of adversity — whether a fire, plumbing catastrophe, liability or theft, to name a few. The condo association should maintain insurance on the building, but it will not deliver all the coverage a condo owner needs

An HO-6 condo policy will insure your unit and can provide liability coverage. Condo association insurance typically does not cover all damage to the structure or contents in a member’s condo unit, leaving an insurance gap and making you vulnerable to financial loss. You can close that gap by buying a condo policy.

A condo policy is a contract between you and an insurance carrier. You agree to pay premiums in a timely fashion, and the carrier agrees to provide you with specified coverages. Your insurance coverage is determined by the insurance policy you select. Clauses in it may address:

  • Structural damage to the interior of your condo unit — for example, from a fire or plumbing problem — that requires ceiling, wall or floor repair.
  • Appliances.
  • Loss of personal property and valuables, such as computers, jewelry, antiques, art or other items.
  • Temporary housing costs incurred after a fire or storm made your condo uninhabitable.
  • Liability for accidental injuries or damages to others, such as a pet biting a neighbor; water damage in an adjacent unit because your child overfilled the bathtub; or other damages associated with a lawsuit.

To evaluate your condo insurance needs and purchase the policy that is right for you, be sure you know what master policy coverage your condo association purchased. A “bare walls” policy will provide you, the condo owner, with little to no coverage in your unit while an “all-in” condo master policy may cover some items, such as appliances, electrical wiring or plumbing.

Your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can review your condo master policy and help you determine your insurance needs. Your Trusted Choice agent is independent and can provide rate comparisons for policies offered by numerous companies and help you make your policy selection.

If the Condo Association Has Insurance, Why Would a Unit Owner Buy a Condo Policy?

Condo association insurance may not meet all your coverage needs as an owner.

Condo associations oversee management of the common property owned by the condo association’s membership (the condo unit owners), including grounds surrounding the structure(s), any amenities, and structural aspects of the building(s) that must be maintained. The insurance they purchase to protect the association’s interest in this property may or may not include aspects of the interior of a member’s condo unit.

The extent of coverage carried by an association will affect what policy you, as a condo owner, need to buy. Condo insurance may cover damages resulting from theft, fire, or a severe storm, including temporary housing costs if your condo is significantly damaged. Condo insurance provisions also may cover your loss of personal possessions and personal liability and medical coverage in the event someone is injured in your unit. Policy deductibles and payment limits govern when payments kick in and define maximum payments that the insurance may make in such instances.

Additionally, the purchase of HO-6 policies (which are specifically for condos, townhouses and co-ops) often are stipulated by lenders.

How Do I Know How Much Coverage I Need in My Condo Policy?

This is not a one-size-fits-all question. The answer hinges on what it would cost you to replace your belongings or restore your unit in the event of a burglary, a fire, or some other calamity.

You should create an inventory of what you have and identify the value of your furniture, electronics, clothing, and other personal items. (Use photos or video to make the task easier.) Then compare the level of coverage in the policy you are considering with how much it would cost you to replace the items.

In some instances, you many need to purchase additional coverage for jewelry or other high-value items if they exceed the coverage limits (maximum that can be reimbursed) in the policy.

To find appropriate coverage at a competitive price, ask your Trusted Choice agent to assist you.

When Should I Supplement My Condo Insurance Policy with Other Coverage?

You may want to supplement your condo policy under certain circumstances.

For instance, if your valuables would appraise for more than the limits (maximum that can be reimbursed) stated in your condo policy, you should consider beefing up your coverage with a personal property rider. It is a good practice to keep an inventory of your high-value items and get them appraised. Work with your Trusted Choice agent to purchase the policy rider or endorsement that you need to make you financially whole in the event your items are lost, stolen or damaged.

You also may want an umbrella liability policy (a supplement to your condo policy) to protect you against personal claims. For example, if someone is injured in your condo; if a grease fire in the kitchen goes out of control, damaging your neighbor’s unit; or if your child throws a ball and breaks a neighbor’s window, a liability policy can come to your aid. Costly claims can arise from unanticipated situations, and adequate liability coverage can save an individual or family from financial ruin.

Your local Trusted Choice agent is a trained professional on whom you can rely for a complete evaluation of your insurance picture.

How Much Does Condo Insurance Cost?

The cost of condo insurance varies. Geography, weather, the size of the unit insured, and the amount of coverage (including the size of the deductible, which is the amount you agree to pay up front) are among the variables that can affect the insurance rate. Produced in 2019, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Dwelling Fire, Homeowners Owner-Occupied and Homeowners Tenant and Condominium/Cooperative Unit Owner’s Insurance Report: Data for 2017 lists the average annual rate of condo insurance in the United States as $488 per year. Wisconsin had the lowest average annual rate ($249), and Florida had the highest ($942).

Can Condo Policy Owners Deduct the Insurance Cost from Their Taxes?

Condo insurance is normally not tax deductible. However, if the property is used as a rental to generate income, the owner may be able to treat the insurance as a business expense.

Similarly, if the condo owner operates a home-based business, they may be able to deduct a percentage of the insurance cost, depending on what square footage of their living space is solely dedicated to their work. The owner should adhere to government requirements in making such calculations and may find a tax adviser’s guidance helpful.

How Do I Purchase Condo Insurance?

We recommend purchasing condo insurance through an independent insurance agent in your community. Your local Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent is a trained professional who understands your neighborhood (for example, are you in a food zone?) and can provide you with a comparison of rates based on your insurance needs.

Your Trusted Choice agent also can advise you on various coverage options and tell you about insurance discounts for which you may be eligible. For instance, insurers often give lower rates to customers who purchase multiple policies from them, such as a combination of condo, umbrella, and car insurance policies.

To feel confident that you are adequately protected and are not overpaying, let your Trusted Choice agent help you. It couldn’t be easier. Just click “Find an Agent” at TrustedChoice.com.

Is Theft Covered by Condo Insurance?

If the condo policy you purchase includes personal property, it will most likely cover theft or burglary. Sometimes it also will include coverage for items stolen from your car.

To be sure you have the insurance you need, ask your Trusted Choice agent to help you review the terms in your policy so you know what it will cover. You also should inventory your personal property and calculate its value. If your belongings would cost more to replace than what your policy would pay in the event of a loss, you may want to buy more coverage.

Also, in today’s world, many face the threat of cyber theft, and purchase products to guard against malware, hackers, bank fraud and identity theft online. However, just 20 percent of those participating in a Verisk study purchase personal cyber insurance. If you shop or bank online or use the internet for other activities that could put you financially at risk, you may want to consider cyber coverage.

As always, your agent is best able to help you evaluate your needs and identify the coverage that is right for you.

Is Storm Damage Covered by a Condo Policy?

Condo insurance generally provides coverage for personal property losses resulting from a hurricane, tornado, or windstorm.

Other related structural damages to fixtures, electrical wiring or plumbing caused by a storm may be covered by the condo owner’s policy or that of the association, depending on whether the condo association’s master policy is a “bare walls” policy.

If it is a bare walls policy, a condo owner may want to ensure that the policy they select includes some coverage in the event of damages caused by a storm. Work with your Trusted Choice agent to verify that the coverage you select will include the coverage you might need in the event of a hurricane, tornado or windstorm.

Earthquakes generally are not covered by condo policies. In California, where the risk of an earthquake is particularly great, the state’s Earthquake Authority, established in 1996, has worked with carriers to offer more affordable earthquake insurance. The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) has become one of the world’s largest residential earthquake insurance providers. These policies are purchased in addition to a condo policy.  Your Trusted Choice agent can assist you.

Are Special Assessments Covered by Condo Insurance?

A loss (or special) assessment occurs when individual owners are required to help the association make good, or when individual owners are required to help the association meet a high master policy deductible.

Here’s an example: A hailstorm severely damages the building roof and landscaping, and the repair bill is $750,000. But the master policy limit is only $500,000. The unit owners will each be assessed their share of the $250,000 remaining due after the policy claim is paid.

Another example: A child is killed on the association’s common playground equipment, and the child’s parents successfully sue the association for $3.5 million. The master policy liability limit is $2 million. Unit owners will be assessed their share of the $1.5 million remaining due to the parents after the insurance company has paid the policy limit.

Loss assessment oftentimes are not adequately covered by an HO-6 condo policy. Your Trusted Choice agent can help you review your policy and whether it provides adequate coverage should you receive a special assessment. You may want to add more coverage. Depending on the circumstances, a loss assessment could run into the tens of thousands per condo owner.

Is Mold Covered by Condo Policies?

Condo insurance plans usually exclude mold remediation. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports that insurance carriers frequently define mold as an “excluded peril” so costs associated with its remediation may not be factored into condo insurance policy costs.

Still, depending on the cause of the mold, you may be able to secure assistance from your insurer under certain circumstances. For instance, if you return home from a vacation and find mold growing in the aftermath of a water leak that occurred while you were gone, the insurance may pay for the repair. However, that also hinges on whether the origin of the problem is a covered peril in your condo owner policy.

If you are concerned about how your policy will cover you, talk with your Trusted Choice agent.

Are Appliances Covered by Condo Policies?

If your condo association’s master policy is “all-in,” it may include coverage for appliances, and it may be included in the policy you bought for your unit. To understand how appliances are covered in your insurance, be sure to review that aspect of your insurance with your Trusted Choice agent so that you know what the coverage requirements and limits are.

When you purchase a new appliance, you should let your agent know so your condo policy remains current.

How Does a Condo Owner File a Claim?

If you are a condo owner and you need to make an insurance claim, first consider whether the loss falls under your condo association’s policy or your own. If the loss rightfully falls under the coverage provided by the condo association’s master policy, then you need to follow the steps outlined in your condo association’s governing documents. You also may want to reach out to your condo association’s management team for guidance as it relates to making a claim.

Under certain circumstances, such as a fire or theft, you may need to contact your agent and the condo association’s insurance company. For instance, if a fire originating in your unit breached another part of the condo structure governed by the condo association, your condo policy and the master policy may both be involved. In the case of a theft, the robber may have done structural damage in a common area while gaining admittance to your unit.

When you are unsure what to do, contact your Trusted Choice agent to help you navigate the process.

If I Decide to Rent My Condo Out, Will My Condo Policy Still Cover Me?

If you plan to turn your condo into a rental property and will not be living there, you must discuss the change with your agent. Condo policies are written with the understanding that the owner is the resident, so a change in policy will be required. Also, as you become a landlord, you may have other potential risks and liabilities to consider with a tenant.

Your Trusted Choice agent can help you evaluate what policy will be right for you.

What Is Auto Insurance?

An auto insurance policy is a contract between you and an insurance company. You agree to pay a premium for protection, and the insurer agrees that as long as your premium payments are current, the company will pay for covered losses. The policy outlines specifically what is covered and how much you would receive in compensation if you are involved in an accident, your car is stolen or vandalized, or if your car is damaged by some other cause — for example, a rock thrown from the tire of a large truck or a fallen tree.

Exactly what risks are covered and how much you would be compensated depends on the details of your specific policy, the deductible you select, and the limits of compensation you agree to. A deductible is the amount that you’re willing to pay up front before the insurance company pays any expenses when you file a claim. A limit is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay you. In general, the lower the limits and the higher the deductible you choose, the lower your premiums — and your protection — will be.

Policies are usually issued for six-month or one-year timeframes, and premiums can change with each renewal cycle depending on a variety of factors.

What Does Auto Insurance Cover?

Auto insurance coverage depends on what you buy. There are several categories of auto insurance, and different states have different requirements for what kind of coverage drivers must have. Here are the basic types of auto coverage:

● Liability. Fault is an important factor when it comes to auto coverage. If you cause a car accident and therefore are at fault, your property damage liability and bodily injury liability will pay for the other vehicle’s repairs, the medical costs for anyone injured in the other vehicle, and such things as legal fees or other accident-related costs. Liability coverage has limits that are established when you purchase your policy. You must pay for anything above that limit, unless you have an additional insurance policy.

● Collision. If you crash into another vehicle or some object like a telephone pole, collision coverage will pay for damage or repairs to your vehicle after you pay the deductible. For example, if your collision coverage has a $1,000 deductible and the damage to your car costs $2,500, your collision coverage will pay $1,500 after you pay the first $1,000.

● Comprehensive. Sometimes this coverage is called “other than collision.” It will compensate you for damages caused by something other than a traffic accident. For example, if a bear looking for food damages your car, or your car is stolen, you will be reimbursed for some portion of the loss if you have comprehensive coverage. As with collision coverage, you choose a deductible for comprehensive coverage.

● Medical expenses. Regardless of who is at fault, your medical coverage will pay for medical bills to treat any injuries that you or your passengers may experience in a car accident. It also will pay the medical costs for injuries that you or your family members may suffer while passengers in someone else’s car.

What Doesn’t Auto Insurance Cover?

It depends on the policy, but most standard auto insurance policies will not cover:

● Personal belongings stolen from inside a vehicle.
● Drivers who live with you but aren’t listed as drivers of your vehicle on the policy.
● Damages or medical bills not covered by an uninsured or underinsured at-fault party.
● Commercial use of a personal vehicle, such as ridesharing or delivery side-hustles.
● Aftermarket additions, such as a sound system installed in a car after purchase.
● The difference between your car’s value and what’s left on your loan (for that, you need gap coverage).
● Rental car reimbursement for when your car is being repaired or replaced.
● Roadside assistance.

Separate coverages like homeowners or renters, uninsured/underinsured motorist, gap, and roadside assistance can be bundled with or added onto an auto insurance policy for additional premium to cover any of the above.

Why Do I Need Auto Insurance?

Even the best drivers take a significant risk every time they get behind the wheel. Auto insurance provides financial help when you or another motorist make mistakes. If you don’t have insurance, you must pay for damages and injuries yourself.

If you are in a state with no-fault laws, each driver involved in an accident is responsible for their own damages and medical costs. However, if you’re in a state with tort insurance laws and you are at fault in an accident, you are typically liable for the cost of not only your vehicle damage and medical bills, but also the other driver’s and injured victims’ damages and medical costs — as well as the cost of legal fees if you are sued. If the other driver is at fault and is under- or uninsured, they are responsible for your compensation, but chances are they don’t have a lot of assets and you may not be able to recover damages even if you win a lawsuit against them — so the financial risk will ultimately still fall on you.

For the cost of your premium, the insurance company will absorb much of that financial risk for you.

Is Auto Insurance Required?

State requirements vary, but 48 states require some level of coverage, typically for property, liability, and/or medical — at minimum, enough liability insurance to cover any damage or injuries you could cause. If you don’t maintain auto insurance in these states, you can be fined or serve jail time, and your license can be suspended or revoked. Although New Hampshire and Virginia don’t require you to purchase auto insurance, they do require you to prove that you can afford to be without it, and Virginia won’t issue you a license to drive unless you pay an uninsured motorist fee.

How Do I Get Auto Insurance?

You can get excellent coverage designed for your specific needs through your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent®. You also can shop for coverage directly from an auto insurer online, but it can come at the expense of professional expertise and quality customer service.

Your local Trusted Choice agent knows the insurance requirements for your state and can help you find a policy that meets them. Trusted Choice agents also do the work of shopping among many different companies for you, so you can be sure to get reasonable rates and coverage appropriate for your situation.

Not sure what you need? Use the Trusted Choice independent agent matching tool to find a reputable independent agent near you. Just tell us what you’re looking for. Any information you provide will be sent only to the agent you designate.

How Expensive Is Auto Insurance?

Auto insurance is a manageable expense, particularly when you weigh it against the financial risks it protects you from. Rates do vary from state to state and are affected by several factors, such as whether your car is new or used, its safety rating, your driving record, and your age and gender. Because some areas are more prone to accidents and claims than others, even your ZIP code affects your insurance rates.

No matter how bad your driving record is, you almost always can find insurance. But if you have a record that includes tickets, accidents, or points on your license, you may be considered too risky for a company or you may be charged a higher premium to compensate for the greater risk of insuring you.

You can also talk to your agent to determine if you or a driver on your policy qualifies for one of these common discounts:

● Good student discount.
● Good driver discount.
● Multi-car discount.
● Multi-policy discount (meaning you have more than just an auto policy with the insurer, perhaps adding homeowners, renters or umbrella insurance).

Is Auto Insurance Tax Deductible?

While auto insurance policies typically don’t cover commercial use of personal vehicles (such as for ridesharing or delivery side-gigs), you can get a tax deduction if you are self-employed. However, you can deduct only the actual number of miles you drive for business — not the miles you drive for personal reasons.

Why Has My Auto Insurance Premium Changed?

When it’s time to renew your policy, your premium may go up or down (though in most states, costs are currently rising). Some factors that contribute to premium fluctuations include whether or not you filed a claim recently, if there are any incidents on your driving record, if the number of crashes in your area have been increasing, and if the cost of auto repairs or medical care in your area have increased.

Moving to a different city or state can affect your premium. As a general rule, premiums are higher in riskier locations and where there are more uninsured drivers.

Can an Auto Insurance Company Drop You?

You can cancel or void your policy, and your auto insurance company can too in the following circumstances:

● If you fail to pay your premiums.
● If you lie on your application.
● If you lose your driver’s license, temporarily or permanently, because of bad driving behavior.

Insurance companies can cancel policies for additional reasons in some states. A local Trusted Choice independent agent can help you better understand the laws in your state.

Why Was My Auto Insurance Claim Denied?

There are a few reasons why your claim can be denied, including:

● A claim that misrepresents an accident, damage, injury or loss.
● A claim filed for coverage or a loss not included in a policy.
● A claim filed while insurance is suspended for lack of premium payment.

Do Auto Insurance Companies Check Credit?

Your credit score indicates your ability to pay your bills, so auto insurance companies do check credit to determine if you are a good risk.

Does Getting Auto Insurance Quotes Affect Credit?

A credit check for a car insurance quote will not affect your credit rating because insurers are not extending you credit, but simply determining whether you are a good financial risk.

Do Auto Insurance Companies Share Information?

Insurance companies do not share your personal information among themselves. If you file an insurance claim or you are switching insurance companies, information about your claims history is placed into a national loss-underwriting database. That information can be accessed by the insurance companies you want to purchase a policy from.

Remember too that your driving record is public information — including tickets and accidents.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

When you rent a car, you will most likely be offered special coverage at the rental counter. Do you need it?

Most auto insurance policies cover you whether you’re driving your own car or a rental — unless you’re renting the car for business use. If you’re not sure what your own policy covers, ask your Trusted Choice agent.

Can I Get Auto Insurance with a Suspended License?

Most insurance companies won’t insure a driver whose license is suspended or revoked. You may be able to work with your local DMV to get a hardship license. Many states require high-risk drivers to file an SR-22 (or FR-44) form, which certifies that you have met your state’s requirements for car insurance. Your Trusted Choice agent can help you file an SR-22 form.

Will Auto Insurance Cover Me If I’m a Gig Driver?

If you’re a rideshare or delivery driver, your personal auto insurance usually doesn’t cover any accidents that happen during your gigs. The company you drive for may offer commercial auto insurance, but the policy will only cover you for specified times.

For example, most rideshare companies have insurance plans that will cover drivers after they have accepted a trip and are on their way to pick up a passenger; they’ll also cover the miles driven after the passenger has been picked up until they are dropped off. However, the plans usually won’t cover drivers who have their ridesharing app turned on but are waiting for a pickup request. And personal policies won’t cover that period either because it’s considered as commercial use of your vehicle.

Fortunately, many insurers now offer rideshare insurance as a separate policy that can be bundled with a personal auto insurance policy for a more affordable premium or as an endorsement or rider to their personal policy. Hybrid policies that cover both ridesharing and personal auto use are also out there. If you’re using your personal vehicle for commercial purposes, you need rideshare insurance solutions to fill the gap in that gray area between personal and commercial auto insurance.

Remember to contact your Trusted Choice agent to get your insurance needs squared away:  Call our office directly.

Moving. It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times.

But for better or worse, the average American will change homes 11.4 times during his or her

Amid the excitement and stress, it’s easy forget that moving will affect your home and auto insurance. You want to be prepared.

Changes to Your Home Insurance

When you realize a move is in your future, turn to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent for help. Here are a few subjects you’ll want to discuss:

Your current home. If you’ve accepted an offer to sell, remember that a fire, windstorm or other damage could easily delay closing or even cancel the sale. Your agent will assist in making sure the insurance coverage lasts until the ownership change is formalized.

If you’ll still own your current home while living elsewhere, your agent needs to know immediately. Failure to inform the insurance company that a home is no longer owner-occupied can significantly affect or even eliminate coverage on it.

Can you keep the same agent and insurance company? Your current agent and insurance provider may be able write the policy on your new home, transfer any credits you’ve qualified for and apply any premium you’ve already paid.

But if your current agent or provider doesn’t operate in the area where you’re moving, your Trusted Choice agent can help you find a new agent and provider.

New neighborhood. New rules? Your Trusted Choice independent agent can also offer information about differences in insurance rules between one location and another. For example, your new home may be in a designated flood zone and require flood insurance or be in an area where policies include a separate deductible for windstorms.

What about personal property? Our stuff is important! Whether you own or rent your current and new home, talk with your agent about how coverage will apply:

1. If your property is damaged while it is being packed or is in storage or transit.

2. If your property is damaged while it is being unpacked at your new place or after it has been moved.

If you need more coverage, your agent will help you explore options. Also, if you are hiring professional movers, remember that they are required by federal law to provide at least a basic level of liability insurance with additional insurance available for purchase.

Changes to Your Auto Insurance

You may be moving, but chances are you’re not changing cars at the same time. Even so, it’s still essential to contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent. Here are a few reasons why:

Your risk exposure could change. This can happen even if you move just across town or to a different city in your own state. For example, your exposure will change if you are moving from a rural area to a higher-traffic area, or if your new home is further away from your work, increasing the total number of miles you normally drive.

You may qualify for new discounts or (eek, we’re sorry!) lose ones you currently have. For example, if you rent your current home but are buying your new one, you may now qualify for a homeownership discount.

New state? New laws. If you move to a new state, you’ll need a new policy because auto insurance is regulated by state law. Note that, as was the case with your home insurance, your current agent and insurance provider may not operate in your new location. Ask your current Trusted Choice agent for help in finding a new one.

Make New Memories

It’s important time to evaluate the insurance on your home, stuff and autos whenever you move. It’s also the perfect time to take inventory, including photos and video, of your possessions. That inventory is key to accurately insuring the things you treasure.

Happy moving! Enjoy making your new house or apartment into a home. And remember, you can rely on your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to help you along your way. Contact Us today!

Thinking about a DIY home improvement project? Maybe a new kitchen or bathroom makeover?

If project excites you, you’re not alone. The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) says do-it-yourselfers complete two-thirds of home improvement projects — and spend less than those who depend solely on contractors. While saving money is satisfying, the sense of accomplishment DIYers feel is even better.

But before you pick up a hammer or grab a paintbrush, you’ll need to do some homework. As you draw plans, budget, purchase materials and secure permits, you also need to think about insurance. Talk to your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent® before you start work. Your agent can help you assess the unexpected risks of your project.

Here are five common renovation projects that may require additional insurance:

Kitchen renovation
Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a new kitchen, one with quartz countertops and Wi-Fi-enabled appliances. Kitchen remodels can add convenience and significant value to your home, but there are a few insurance considerations:

• Depending on your level of experience, you may need the help of a plumber or electrician. Make sure the contractors you hire are bonded and insured. Do they carry liability insurance? Ask to see their certificate of coverage.

• Check with your agent to see if you should increase your homeowners coverage. If your renovation substantially increases the value of your house, you could be underinsured if you haven’t raised your limits. Generally, you need enough insurance to replace 80% of your home’s value.

• Will friends be helping you? Ask your agent about adding no-fault coverage or raising your medical expenses coverage.

Bathroom makeover
You have visions of a soaking tub, new vanities and imported marble tile. Sounds delightful, but keep these points in mind:

• You may need a plumber to help you move a water line or drain. Bear in mind that water damage caused by your faulty workmanship won’t be covered by your homeowners policy. On the other hand, if you use a contractor, their business insurance should cover the damage to your home.

• Will that expensive marble be sitting in your driveway after it’s delivered? Costly materials have a way of walking away from a job site. Check to see if your policy covers theft or damage to your building materials.

Home office
You’ve decided to convert a spare bedroom into a home office. It’s an easy renovation, but
here are some insurance considerations:

• Most homeowners policies only provide limited coverage (up to about $2,500) for office equipment. If you have items that exceed that amount, you’ll need additional coverage. Your agent can recommend some options.

• If you’re doing work for your firm at home, make sure you’re covered by the company’s business and workers’ compensation policies. If you’re self-employed, you may need a separate business policy, especially if clients visit your house.

You’ve always wanted a room off the kitchen to take advantage of the morning sun. Sunrooms can provide enjoyment year-round, but you do need to keep a few things in mind:

• Talk to your agent about adding a new room to your homeowners policy. You may be able to get a discount if you install energy-efficient windows or heavy-duty locks on an exterior door.

• Is the project insured against severe weather? Theft or vandalism? You may need a builders risk policy.

Finished basement
You’re planning to create extra living space in the basement for your growing family. You’ve contracted to have a French drain and a sump pump installed to prevent water from leaking in. You’ve also decided to live in a friend’s house while you work on the project.


• If your house is unoccupied during construction, you may need vacant home insurance.

• Be sure to get a warranty on the French drain. Flooding isn’t covered by homeowners insurance. However, you can add water backup coverage to your policy to pay for damage if your sump pump fails.

• Game room? Home theater? Extra bathroom? You may need to increase the limits on your homeowners policy. On the other hand, upgrading old wiring or installing a security system could lower your premiums.

If you’ve got the home renovation bug, maybe it’s time you joined the ranks of millions of satisfied DIYers. Just remember to contact your Trusted Choice agent to get your insurance needs squared away:  Call our office directly.

A vintage home affords character, imagination in design and unique features not available in homes built today. With that said, homes and apartments built prior to the 1980’s are bound to have some safety elements that are worth investigating and updating for the optimal health and safety of your family.

If you are moving into a home with some vintage flair, consider investigating the potential health hazards that come along with it.

Home safety is part of home ownership

Take responsibility for potential hazards before they become an issue for you, your loved ones or your guests.

While you may not be able to eliminate all of the hazards from your home, with some effort, you should be able to minimize as many potential hazards as possible.

If you start with the top five common hazards and evaluate room by room, you should be able to cover most of the potential issues in your home, whether your home is new or not.

After that, as a responsible homeowner, you should make regular evaluations of your home every season or so. This will also give you a different perspective on what is needed as some hazards in and around your home are often seasonal.

While the responsibility of home safety can be a drag, the benefits far outweigh the risks. The effort it takes to assess and reduce the dangers vs dealing with the potential dangers (fire, disease, poisoning) is definitely worth making time for.

Top Five Home Hazards:

1. Falls
2. Poisoning
3. Fires/burns
4. Choking/suffocation,
5. Drowning/submersion.

These hazards don’t only affect children or older people, however a comprehensive study by the Home Safety Council found that home injuries cause 21 million yearly medical visits and almost 20,000 deaths, 2,000 of which are children.

But don’t be shocked. Most homeowners are not preventing injuries because they don’t know any better, not because they are lazy.

You can avoid these tragedies in your own home simply by being more conscientious in your evaluation of your surroundings and making a few simple adjustments if needed.

Let’s go room by room and see where the hazards may be…

Exploring the house for hidden hazards

Bedrooms and Bathrooms – Where you sleep and shower may seem like the safest place to be alone with your thoughts, in a quiet space but your bedroom and bathroom may harbor hidden hazards you are least expecting Here are some things to consider:

Slippery surfaces/non slip surfaces – In the bathroom, consider adding non slip surfaces to the tub and floor surrounding the tub/shower/sink. In the bedroom, look for potential slipping on rugs and runners or clothing left on the floor to keep slip hazards at bay.

Candles – Ambience is sweet but consider safety first with candles in bathrooms and bedrooms. Keep open flames away from flammable chemicals and fabrics and never leave open flames unattended.

Safety rails – Are handy in bathrooms and bedrooms around the toilet, bathtub and bed for getting safely up/down or in/out
Toys – Keeping toys cleared off of the floor and out of the tub after use is always a good idea to prevent trips and falls

Bathroom sharps – Keeping razors, scissors or other sharp objects safely stowed away is a good idea for safety’s sake.

Poison – Cleaning products as well as hygiene products found in the bathroom or bedroom can be harmful if accidentally ingested. Remove, contain and safely store anything that may be unintentionally or potentially harmful to children or pets.

Falls – Can be a potential hazard around bed and cribs. Put soft, protective surfaces under play equipment or furniture where accidental falls are a potential hazard.

Drowning – This is truly one of the most potential hazards in the bathroom area and drowning happens quickly. Ensure thorough monitoring of children and pets around the tub and toilet.

Kitchen, Pantry & Laundry – While these are the most common areas for healthy housework to be done, they are also common places for health and safety hazards. Look for potential safety issues in the following areas:

Carbon monoxide – Every home should have a carbon monoxide monitor installed wherever a source of natural gas is present. A CO2 alarm plugs into an electrical outlet or is installed like a smoke detector. This device will notify you if there is a harmful gas leak, which otherwise may be undetectable as it is odorless, highly toxic and potentially fatal.

Lint trap – The lint trap on your dryer is a potential fire hazard if it isn’t cleared away regularly. Ensure your family’s safety by emptying it after each use.

Lock up kitchen tools – Knives, scissors and other sharp kitchen accessories are dangerous for those who don’t know how to use them yet. Keep them safely out of reach.

Detergents, cleaners – Even though these are effective ways to keep our spaces fresh and sanitized, they can be poisonous if ingested or used inappropriately. Keep your detergents and cleaners safely out of reach of children and pets.

Burns – Another potential hazard is a burn from the stove. Getting burner covers is a great solution. Burner covers are available for ceramic, gas and electric stoves.

Stairs, Basements & Attics – These are the hidden areas of home and health hazards.

Stairs – The most common areas in the home for slips and falls are stairs. Check for irregular stair placement, install railings and place grip mats of carpet on the stairs for protection from slipping. Consider installing a light on the staircase and paint your bottom step a bright color to make it more visible. For outdoor stairs, use nonslip mats and salt in icy weather.

Fire Alarms – Install fire alarms in the attic, basement and stairwells of your home for added assurance of fire protection.

Pests – Pests such as rodents and insects tend to be found in the hidden areas of your home such as attics, basements, sheds and stairways. Regularly inspect these areas for yourself and hire a professional if needed. Preventing infestations before they happen will save you time and money.

Living Rooms and Sitting Rooms – The hazards of the most relaxing areas of your home may not be so obvious.

Air quality – Good indoor air quality can reduce allergies and asthma. One way to eliminate allergens is by choosing hardwood or laminate flooring over carpeting. Air-filtration systems and certain houseplants can also help to improve indoor air quality

Strangling – Check the blinds and drapes for potential strangling hazards. There may be a manufacturer suggestion to avoid strangling hazards.

Window rail safety – Putting window guards on windows could result in a 50% reduction in falls and 35% reduction in deaths.

Yards, Garages, Sheds – The working spaces of your yard have hidden hazards, too. Check out these hidden spaces:

Yard tools – Sharp tools are generally used for yard work so it makes sense to keep them safely and securely stored to misuse or injury.

Poisons/toxins – Toxic chemicals are generally found in these areas, keep them safely contained.

Always use a step stool or ladder for things out of reach – Make sure to use a sturdy step stool or ladder when getting things out of reach. Avoid balancing on furniture and fences, it can be dangerous!

Removal, Upgrade, and Prevention of Risks is the Key to Home Safety Success

Once you have identified the types of hazards in your home whether they are potential injuries, toxins or other damage hazards, you need to establish the best way to remove, replace or repair the issue.

You may want to evaluate if you can make the repairs yourself or if you need to hire an expert. Evaluate options if removal is not possible at all, or just partial

Lead paint and how to remove lead paint from your home – In the past, lead was used as an ingredient for paint. Now, sanding and scraping lead paint can be ingested and toxic. If your home was built before the 1970’s, there is a chance your home has lead paint. Check online to find out safe ways to remove it. It may be more convenient to hire a professional.

Asbestos and removing asbestos from your home – If your house was built before 1980, it’s likely that asbestos is present. Asbestos is a natural fiber found in insulation and drywall that has been known to cause cancer. Insulation, floor tiles, and textured ceiling tiles can be made with asbestos. If you do find asbestos, find a professional to safely remove it.

Keep Yourself and Your Home As Safe As Can Be

When you are buying or renting a home, it is important that the safety of yourself and your family is top of mind.

Evaluating and identifying health and safety hazards is extremely valuable and important when making your choice.

You may need to ask your landlord to make adjustments before you sign a lease, negotiate repairs before buying a property or simply update your existing home. Whatever you need to do, ensure you are covering the basics of the potential hazards throughout your home.

Originally posted in Porch.com

Inherent risk and control risk are two of the three parts of the audit risk model, which auditors use to determine the overall risk of an audit.

Audit risk is the danger that arises from incorrect company’s financial statements, despite auditors saying that they don’t contain any misstatements. Some examples of inappropriate auditors’ opinions include:

  • Presenting an unqualified audit report despite the qualification being reasonably justified
  • Providing a qualified audit opinion where the qualification isn’t necessary
  • Not giving attention to major issues in the audit report

Therefore, audit risk is the product of the different threats auditors may discover when they conduct audits. The purpose of audits is to cut down audit risks to an acceptable level.

Additionally, auditors have to evaluate the hazard level of each of the components of the audit risk for accuracy in the monetary statements. Audit risk may carry legal liability since investors and creditors depend on the financial statements when making decisions.

What is the Audit Risk Model?

The Audit Risk Model is a critical tool that editors use to determine an audit’s overall risk.

This approach of risk assessment takes into account three types of risks, namely:

  • Control risk
  • Inherent risk
  • Detection risk

Here are in-depth insights into each of these components.

Inherent Risk

Inherent risk refers to the hazard of material misstatement in the financial statements of a company. This happens when internal controls don’t get the consideration they should receive from auditors. It stems from the nature of trade or operations without implementing the rules that mitigate risk.

A company can’t successfully cope with a quickly changing business environment if it can’t manage inherent risk adequately.

Besides, a company’s inherent risk can increase if the firm records complex relations and activities. For example, a company that collects data from several subsidiaries to combine it engages in intricate work. The process could comprise a high level of inherent risk.

Another factor that gives rise to inherent risk is dealing with audits previously performed by other auditors. The reports from the audits could have been weak or prejudiced, which arises if auditors intentionally ignore material misstatements.

Lastly, inherent risk could arise from transactions from related entities. This is because the transactions bring the danger of an overstatement or understatement of the value of the assets involved in the financial deal.

Control Risk

Control risk happens because of material misstatement in financial statements. It’s a result of a lack of relevant internal controls to mitigate risk. It also occurs when the internal controls in place have malfunctioned. When a company lacks adequate internal controls to detect and prevent fraud and error, it sets itself up for control risk.

Factors that increase a company’s control risk include:

  • Lack of segregation of duties
  • Transactions not being verified
  • Approval of financial documents without a review by the management
  • A supplier selection process that isn’t transparent

The consequences of a significant control risk failure also lead to undocumented asset losses. The statements might indicate a profit while in the real sense, the company has incurred a loss.

An organization’s leadership is responsible for creating, implementing, and maintaining a reliable system of internal controls. However, it’s not always easy to have a reliable method to mitigate risk and prevent asset loss.

A stable long-term internal control system requires the management to alter the platform periodically to cater to ongoing business changes. Failure to review the procedures periodically will see them lose their effectiveness over time. The best practice is to check and upgrade the internal controls annually.

Examples of adequate internal controls include:

  • Periodic reviews of the payables details by the chief financial officer to determine the completeness of the list
  • Reviews of all invoices by the payables manager to see that they’re entered into the payable system
  • Reviews of the budget-to-actual reports by department heads
  • Analysis of the unprocessed invoices from all payables clerks by the payables manager

While inherent risks are independent of internal controls, control risk depends on the ability of the operation or design of a control system to eliminate the risk of a misstatement.

Detection Risk

This type of risk arises from an auditor’s failure to detect a material misstatement in financial statements. Using the audit risk model, an auditor can understand the relationship between detection risk and the other two types of audit risk. This creates an environment where the auditors can determine the acceptable level of detection risk.

However, it’s essential to note that it’s not possible to eliminate detection risk in totality. An auditor can only manipulate the risk by modifying these factors:

  • The competence and skill of the auditors that makeup the engagement team
  • The types of the audit procedures, for example, the degree of substantive procedures in relation to the internal control tests
  • The rigor of the audit procedures, including the sample sizes and length of the audit engagement
  • Quality control like the CPA’s firm system of reviews and quality control by qualified personnel

Final Thoughts

The auditing process has risks that arise from business processes and transactions. These risks include inherent, control, and detection risks, which form the Audit Risk Model concept. Auditors can reduce the likelihood of asset losses if they understand how each of these risks arises and how to mitigate them.

Breast exams are extremely useful in detecting cancer early. Clinical exams, breast self-exams (BSEs) and mammograms should be completed regularly so that it is possible to determine if there are changes in breast tissue, indicating breast cancer or other potentially harmful conditions.

Clinical Exams and Mammograms

The American Cancer Society recommends clinical breast exams every three years for women between 20 and 40, and annually for women 40 and older. Starting at age 45, healthy women should have yearly mammograms.

Performing Self-exams

In between clinical exams and mammograms, women should complete BSEs to become familiar with the look and feel of their breasts when healthy, so that changes can be detected as early as possible.

  • Lie down and place one arm behind your head.
  • Use the pads of your middle three fingers on the opposite hand to check your breast tissue in overlapping, dime-sized circular motions.
  • Use an up-and-down pattern starting at your underarm and moving all the way to the middle of your breastbone to feel for changes.
  • Standing with your hands on your hips, look in a mirror for changes in size, shape, contour or coloring of your breasts.

Breast Tissue Changes

Contact your doctor if you notice any of the following changes to your breast or nipple tissue while doing a BSE:

  • Lumps
  • Dimpling, red or scaly skin
  • Nipple discharge or pain

It is normal for breast tissue to change during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, or while taking birth control pills or other hormone therapy. However, if you notice changes at other times in your life, it is strongly suggested that you visit a doctor immediately.

More in-depth information on how to perform a BSE is available at ww5.komen.org. This website also provides a Breast Self-Awareness Interactive Tool that you can view. Or, check out this diagram on www.breastcancer.org, which illustrates how to perform a thorough self-exam