I am a broker. This means I represent MULTIPLE carriers which allows me the opportunity to review rates with each carrier. This helps me determine which carrier is offering the best package to fit your family’s needs. There is NO additional cost associated with working with a broker.
Each year Patti and I review your renewal. If there is a $100 increase to your home or auto insurance renewal, Patti will contact you to inform you of the increase and ask if it is okay to review options. I have saved some of my own clients $800+ per year just by reviewing their renewal!
I represent A+ carriers. Some of the carriers I represent are Travelers Insurance, AAA, The Hartford, Nationwide, Progressive, etc. When classified as an A+ carrier, this means they pay claims, have a good customer service department, and billing department.
It is easier to call one person for all of your insurance needs.
I have consistently saved people money on their home and auto insurance.
Patti will be reaching out to you soon to discuss your home and auto insurance policies renew and options to combine your policies.
What You Need to Know About Auto and Home Renewals
The summer months are the time that most homeowner’s insurance policies renew. The biggest reason is that many people purchase/move during the summer months.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when reviewing your renewals.
When looking at rates, always review the total package (i.e. home and auto). Often, some carriers will have a better rate on home as opposed to auto however, the total calculation needs to be reviewed when determining the best scenario.
Consider a higher deductible. Most people now have a $500 deductible on auto and $1,000 deductible on home.
When reviewing rates, make sure to consider the wind/hail deductible. Some carriers will now require a 1% deductible for wind/hail claims. If your deductible is $1,000 and your replacement cost is $250,000, your wind/hail deductible would be $2,500. This means any claims related to wind/hail are subject to a separate, larger deductible. If your current policy has $1,000 deductible, you’ll need to get an accurate comparison.
Do NOT skimp on coverages. Dropping your liability limits saves very little in your annual premium.
If you own a rental, also assess the total package when shopping rates. Some carriers will require the primary residence in order to consider the rental property. Their rates can be ½ of what the other carriers offer by packaging your primary residence with the same carrier.
Ask to have your home’s replacement cost recalculated. Each year the carrier will increase the dwelling coverage to protect against inflation.
Make sure you are matching coverages. Some carriers are notorious for removing full coverage to reduce the rate. Sadly, some people do not realize that until they have an accident. Full coverage means the carrier will fix your vehicle in the event of an at-fault accident. On the flip side, liability only means your vehicle is NOT getting fixed in the event of an at-fault accident.
Choose your words wisely when calling other companies. If you tell an agent you want the “cheapest rate possible” or “basic coverages”, this often means the lowest possible liability limits ($25,000/$50,000) and liability-only coverage. Again, you do not save much by reducing the liability limits.
If you would like to get a free quote and find out how you can save money by about combining your insurance policies, please call Kelly or Patti at 708-444-0050. Get Ready to Save!
The U.S. economy is struggling to come back from the coronavirus. One area that proves to be surprisingly strong is Housing. Because of low mortgage rates, real estate in many cities, including Illinois, are selling nearly as briskly as it was before Covid-19. Properties that come on the market that are priced right are gone in a matter of hours.
According to Redfin, more than 41% of homes faced a bidding war in the four weeks ending May 10. That’s up from just 9% in January before the pandemic hit the U.S
If you’re hoping to buy a home in a hot real estate market, here’s what you need to know:
Do your research
A Travelers Insurance article states, Starting your hunt virtually while sheltering in place can be beneficial if you find you have the time to shop online more thoroughly; that extra effort may give you an advantage in finding a home you love within your price range
Many real estate agents post virtual tours of properties for sale on their websites and YouTube. When you take a virtual tour or attend a virtual open house, you can get a realistic view of the property.
Get Preapproved for a Mortgage
The Travelers article also mentions, get a mortgage preapproval before you begin house hunting. It may be possible to get preapproved online, so consider looking into that option. A mortgage preapproval is a letter from a lender that indicates how much you are qualified to borrow from the lender, at a specific interest rate.
Check your credit reports and get your credit score. Good credit, such as a FICO score of 620 or higher, will qualify you for a conventional mortgage and lower interest rate.
Gather all the information your lender will need to start the mortgage preapproval process: income information (W-2 statements from the last two years and recent pay stubs); asset information (bank statements and investment account statements); and your personal identification.
According to Money.com, homes that are clean and priced well will sell in the first weekend or week on the market. Just as COVID-related shutdowns began, you should look at properties as quickly as you can when they come on the market.
If and when you make an offer, stay available to accept or reject counteroffers. The listing agent isn’t going to wait for you. Also, choose a lender who can do a speedy closing — within seven to 10 days.
Since there has been bidding wars on house buying, you may need to make an offer on more than one property, and yours may be just one of multiple offers. Multiple offers are increasingly the norm, especially in the spring market. The money.com article also suggests because you might need to bid higher, don’t look at homes at the top of your price range. Know your maximum price and look at properties listed for less than that, so you have room to make a higher offer if that’s required.
Put 20% down and bump up your earnest money
Money.com also states the more money you put down, the stronger your offer will appear. The same is true of earnest money.
Even during these challenging times, there is still much you can accomplish in your quest to find your dream home. If you’re planning to buy a house, you’ll need homeowners insurance.
Insurance Steps to Consider When Purchasing a New Home
The most obvious step is to obtain quotes for the new residence. You’ll need to know specifics about the residence: year built, square footage, construction, etc. Most of this information is available online. Your agent should be able to obtain this information with a proper address.
Have your agent review your auto as well for a complete package. Typically, you obtain the best rate by packaging your home and auto together.
The agent will calculate a replacement cost estimate to determine how much coverage you need to insure your home (aka dwelling coverage). The replacement cost estimate is obtained by using the information above.
Think about how you will title your property. Homeowners insurance should list all names that are listed on the title.
Be sure to discuss any areas of additional concerns with your agent (i.e. if you run your business from home, if you have expensive jewelry, or if you have any collections). Coverage is inexpensive to add and will make your life easier during the claims process.
If your new home has a pool, consider an umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is extra liability. A pool always means more visitors which inevitably leads to an increased opportunity for injury. With a cost of $150+ per year for $1 million in coverage it may be worth it to consider the policy.
Share your agent’s contact information with the person handling your financing. They will eventually want to obtain proof of insurance and confirm the home is properly protected. It is also helpful for the agent to obtain a copy of your appraisal to ensure the replacement cost estimate is accurate. Not everything online is accurate!
Same as above, however you should also let your agent know what you will be doing with your existing home. This is important because the coverage type will change. If you are not properly covered, the carrier may NOT cover your claim. Often people plan on selling the existing home, but the property ends up vacant for a longer time frame than anticipated. In the event of a loss, the carrier will DENY coverage because the property is vacant. We can fix this by switching the policy to a Landlord policy or Vacant policy. Most carriers will allow for a property to be vacant for 30-60 days.
What you NEED to know about your Insurance and COVID 19
There have been many questions that have come up concerning the effects of your insurance during this COVID-19 crisis. I understand these are stressful and unsettling times for everyone and I am here to help and answer the questions you have about the changes and updates for health and auto insurance.
Health, Medicare, Short-Term Medical, including Marketplace plans
Ambetter: Ambetter will cover COVID-19-related testing and treatments at no cost to you. You do not need prior authorization.
BCBS: (Includes Individual health plans, Group/Employer health plans, and Medicare)
Testing: You won’t pay copays, deductibles or coinsurance for medically necessary lab tests to diagnose COVID-19. You do not need prior authorization to test for COVID-19.
Testing-Related Visits: You won’t pay copays, deductibles or coinsurance with in-network providers for visits related to COVID-19, whether at a provider’s office, urgent care clinic, emergency room or by telehealth. (Testing must be medically necessary, consistent with CDC guidance and at the direction of a doctor.)
Treatment: You will not pay copays, deductibles or coinsurance related to treatment for COVID-19. This applies to costs associated with COVID-19 treatment at in-network facilities and treatment for out-of-network emergencies.
Currently, this covers treatment from April 1 to May 31, 2020.
You may also access your Virtual Visits benefit2 provided by BCBSIL and powered by MDLIVE3. You can consult a board-certified doctor for non-emergency situations by phone, mobile app or online video 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Virtual Visits doctors can even send e-prescriptions to your local pharmacy. (MDLIVE is not available for Medicare.)
Cigna: Cigna is waiving out of pocket costs for COVID-19 testing-related visits with in-network providers, whether at a provider’s office, urgent care center, emergency room or via virtual care, through May 31, 2020.
National General: National General will waive 100% of customers’ out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 diagnostic tests and will ease access for customers seeking diagnostic testing. This waiver will extend to all National General Short-Term Medical customers.
United Healthcare: (Includes Medicare Advantage, Individual and Group health plans) United Healthcare is also waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and the testing-related visits. Cost-sharing is also waived for COVID-19 treatment until May 31, 2020. * Starting March 31, 2020 until June 18, 2020, UnitedHealthcare will also waive cost-sharing for in-network, non-COVID-19 telehealth visits for its Medicare Advantage, Individual and Group/Employer plans.
Marketplace: As a reminder, if you’ve had a loss of income, you may qualify for the additional annual premium tax credit.
Auto Insurance Updates
Because COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, there have been fewer drivers on the road, which means few accidents. Auto Insurance companies are recognizing this and rewarding customers with discounts and refunds.Here is a full list of the discounts by provider.
Travelers: Launched the Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program, which will automatically give U.S. personal auto insurance customers a 15% credit on their April and May premiums
Kemper: Providing a 15% deduction for April and May as long as the policy was in effect April 30.
Hartford: Giving 15% for April and May
Mercury: Giving up to 15% discount by May
Safeco: Providing a 15% refund on two months of auto premium, based on your premium amount as of April 7.
They are planning to issue the refund in the manner you made your most recent payment or by check.
They will begin issuing refunds in the coming weeks after they have approval from state insurance regulators.
Your refund will happen automatically, and you do not need to call to get your refund.
AAA – The Auto Club Group: Providing $60 million in premium refunds to its auto insurance customers. Every policyholder with auto insurance in effect as of April 30 will receive a 20% policy refund applied to two months of premium, for April and May.
We all have been affected by this COVID-19 crisis and I want you to know that I am here to assist you in any way I can. You can contact me at 708-444-0050 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions. I am also offering remote meetings by Phone, ZOOM or GoTo Meeting to help answer any concerns you may have.
February is the month of love, and although Valentine’s Day is over, your love for those close to you never stop. The act of insuring your love with Life Insurance is no better way to protect your loved ones and show them you how you feel. It can provide security when those left behind need financial help the most. “There are no guarantees. You have to prepare for those ‘what ifs.’” Lifehappens.org presents Real Life Stories. These are True Love Stories that illustrates why it’s so important for people to include life insurance in their financial plans. These families highlighted in these stories could have anticipated the challenges they’d face.
Think!! How would you and your family manage financially if faced with similar challenges!
Stephen Miller: Protecting the Future
A mutual friend with a new dog brought Stephen and Katie together. Stephen had headed to his friend’s house to meet the new furry member of the family, and when he got there, he saw Katie playing with dog in the backyard. “Katie was so outgoing,” says Stephen. “She was the nicest person you’ll ever meet.”
That first meeting led to beach outings and concerts, and over time to getting married and thinking about starting a family.
It was Katie who suggested they get life insurance. Stephen admits he wasn’t too happy about the idea. They were young and healthy, so he didn’t see the point. Katie, however, convinced him to sit down with insurance professional Rose Goheen, who walked them through the process and presented them with affordable options. They both decided to get life insurance coverage.
When the couple welcomed Chase, they decided to reevaluate their life insurance. Given their expanding family and responsibilities, they both bought additional life insurance. It was during her recovery from giving birth to Reid that Katie realized something was wrong. Her doctor confirmed her suspicion that the abdominal lump she felt was something much more serious. In fact, it was an aggressive form of cancer.
Katie, with the love and support of her family, valiantly fought the disease, but just over a year later it claimed this young mom’s life. She was just 30.
Michael, 32, was a fit and healthy family man. As he left to run a 10K race, he kissed his wife, Traci, good-bye along with newborn Calvin and “big” sister Josie. He never made it home. As he crossed the finish line, Michael collapsed and died. The Kovacic family would never be the same.
Thankfully, they had life insurance. Even though the young couple had been living paycheck to paycheck, their insurance professional had convinced them to buy an affordable policy.
Traci says the hardest part for her was knowing that the love of her life was never coming home. “But the reality is that everything else stayed the same,” she says. “The paychecks stopped immediately, but I still had to keep the lights on, buy food, pay the mortgage and take care of the kids. Having life insurance meant I didn’t have to make any immediate decisions or sell the house.”
“The life insurance saved us—and it still does today,” she says.
Jenny was single and in her 20s, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t thinking about the future. In fact, she knew she wanted to have a family one day and that saving for retirement—even this early on—was a priority.
That’s why after meeting with insurance professional Jim Silbernagel, she decided to buy a permanent life insurance policy. She knew it would help her with both goals: provide the life insurance coverage she sought and the ability to accumulate cash value to help with saving for retirement.
Jenny’s dream of having a family did come true. She met Jim on a blind date, and once married, they welcomed a son, Michael, and then several years later twins, Samuel and Nathaniel. As often happens with growing families, finances got stretched tight, and Jim suggested they cancel Jenny’s policy to save money. Jenny was adamant that they keep it. Instead, they used some of the accumulated cash value to pay the premium and keep the policy in force.* That decision would be life changing for her family.
The Chich family was looking forward to welcoming their fourth child—a girl, but tragically Jenny died while giving birth. The shock to her family was overwhelming. While life insurance could never replace their vibrant wife and mother, Jim says that Jenny’s policy helped the family in the aftermath of her death. He was able to take a yearlong leave of absence from his job to care for newborn Emma and the boys, who were all younger than 6. “I was able to focus on my kids and not worry about how I was going to buy a gallon of milk,” says Jim.
You may not always be there for your loved ones but you can always take care of them. These Life Insurance Love Stories are examples of the benefits a policy will serve if an unexpected or tragedy occurs, and you know your loved ones will not bear a financial burden in addition to the loss they feel.
If you’d like more information on life insurance or would like to purchase a new life insurance policy, I can help. Kelly Burke Insurance represents the brand-name insurance companies you know and trust. Contact us at (708) 444-0050 or email@example.com
We all know that living in Illinois we can experience temperatures and wind chills that are below -20. Our heating systems are not designed for. -20º to -30º temperatures with wind chills down to -50º, and can create a lot of damage to your house.
Homes can struggle to keep up, and the temperature may drop while the heating system is working at full capacity. To help your home make it through the winter without any mishaps, here are tips to properly winterize your home, inside and outside.
Inside The House
Keep your house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees might not keep the inside walls from freezing.
Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
If you use fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters, watch them closely and make sure they are working properly.
Remember to close the flue in your fireplace when you’re not using it.
When traveling, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly. If there is a problem with frozen pipes or water leakage, attending to it quickly could mean far less damage.
If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, have the water system, including pool plumbing, drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.
Outside The House
Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.
Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house.
Clear gutters of leaves and debris to allow runoff from melting snow and ice to flow freely.
If you own a swimming pool and temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, run the pool pump at night to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
Make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed. The door leading to the house is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door.
If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break loose when stressed by ice, snow or wind and damage your house or car, or injure someone on or near your property.
If your home suffers water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to prevent any potential problem with mold. Remember, mold cannot survive without moisture.
Frozen or Burst Pipes
If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills to avoid further damage.
Your Insurance Coverage
Standard homeowners policies will cover most kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For instance, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.
Most policies do not cover backups in sewers and drains or flood damage, which can also happen in winter. To be covered for flooding, you need a separate flood policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.