So You’re About to Buy Your First Car Insurance Policy…

First Car Insurance PolicyCongratulations! Becoming an independent adult can be both exciting and scary. Finding your first job and apartment are milestones to be proud of. Buying your first car insurance policy? That can be a milestone, too, as it’s one more step in taking responsibility for your life and future financial well-being.

Here are some basics to consider as you shop for your first car insurance policy:

Why carry insurance?

Simply put, you must carry car insurance to drive legally. But insurance is really intended to protect you financially, not just make you “legal.” Think about it: if you’re in an accident, proper insurance coverage pays for injuries, as well as having your vehicle repaired—things that can cost multiple thousands of dollars. You’d never be able to afford this without insurance coverage.

What coverages should you carry?

To tag your car, Florida law only requires that you carry a minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 Property Damage Liability (PD). If you make car payments, your lender will most likely require that you carry comprehensive and collision. However, unless you absolutely cannot afford it, it makes much better financial sense to add Bodily Injury Liability (BI) to your policy. If you are at fault in an accident, BI will help pay for the victims’ injuries, up to the policy limits. This also allows you to comply with the Florida Financial Responsibility Law, which states that anyone responsible for a crash with injuries must be carrying bodily injury liability limits of at least $10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident, in addition to $10,000 each of PIP and PD. If you don’t have this coverage, you may be required to carry an SR-22 for three years. 

The increase in premium for adding BI coverage is far less than what it would cost you if you were sued following an accident (and statistically speaking, young drivers are more likely to be in an accident). 

How can you afford it?

There are a few ways you keep your car insurance premiums down. The most obvious is to drive safely and keep your record clean!

A second important thing you can do is protect your credit. Credit scores have become a major factor in quoting car insurance rates. The better your credit, the better the price of your car insurance.

If you have been on your parents’ insurance policy, you may be eligible for a discount for having continuous coverage, so let your agent know if this is the case. (Make sure you don’t let your insurance lapse once you buy it, too.)

Ask your agent about any additional discounts available, such as for safety features like airbags or anti-lock brakes.

And finally, shop around to find the best rate. Just be sure when you’re comparing policies that each agent is quoting you the same coverage and limits.

Providing affordable insurance is where an independent agency like Lakewood Financial really shines. We represent more than 40 different quality car insurance companies, including Progressive, Hartford, Infinity, Safeco, Nationwide, Metropolitan, Travelers, Mercury, GMAC, Foremost—and more. Please call us at 941-747-4600 for a free quote today! We’d love to serve you.

Improving Your Home? Don’t Forget to Upgrade Your Insurance

Upgrade Your Insurance

Spring weather has many of us thinking about home and landscape improvements. But It’s a perfect time of year to spruce up our surroundings, and prepare for the coming heat, humidity, and summer storms.If you’re planning renovations or landscaping projects this spring, consider what effect these projects might have on your homeowners insurance and liability. Some projects can make your home safer (thus reducing the chance you’ll have to make a claim on your insurance), some projects will increase the value of your home (so your current homeowners policy might not be adequate), and some projects might even save you money on your insurance. Whichever the case whenever you make any major homestead changes you may forget to upgrade your insurance

Here are five common home improvement projects and how they can affect your insurance coverage:

Tree trimming

Trimming trees not only improves their health and appearance, it can also make your home and yard safer. Proper trimming ensures that dead limbs can’t fall on your car, or be blown into your yard by high winds. You can also protect your roof and pool enclosure by having overhanging limbs cut back. This reduces the likelihood that your home or car—or a guest’s car—will be damaged by falling tree limbs.

Planting trees or shrubs

Before planting anything with invasive roots, find out where your water, sewer or septic lines run. Most homeowners insurance policies don’t contain coverage for water or sewer back-up damage—damage that might be caused by roots that grow into your water, sewer, or septic lines. One way to find out where those lines are is to “call before you dig”.

Roof replacement

Even though it can be an expensive home improvement, having your roof replaced can offer you peace of mind, increase the value of your home, and save you money on your homeowners insurance. (See “A Wind Mitigation Report Can Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Premium” for more information.)

Adding a pool

Having a pool in Florida is almost a must—but it can leave you open to liability claims if someone is hurt while playing in or around your pool. You may want to consider adding an umbrella policy to boost your liability protection. Also, remember to increase the amount of your homeowners coverage to include the value of that new pool. And think twice about adding a slide or a diving board. Most homeowners policies exclude exposure to slides or diving boards. Some only provide $25,000 worth of coverage, and others won’t write your policy at all if you have a slide or diving board.

Significant kitchen or bath upgrades

Installing granite or marble countertops, custom cabinetry, or professional-grade appliances? You may want to upgrade your homeowners insurance coverage at the same time, to be sure you’d receive the increased value should you have to make a claim. If your renovations involve rewiring, you may also be eligible for discounts on your policy.  If the remodeling is extensive, you may need to buy a builder’s risk policy.

 

It’s a great time of year to spruce up your home. Please call us at 941-747-4600 with any questions you have about how your proposed home or landscaping projects might affect your insurance. Happy home improvement!