Archive for the ‘ Insurance ’ Category

Travel Insurance Makes for a Worry-Free Vacation


cute family at airport

How many times have you planned a vacation and something has come up. Be it a family emergency, work conflict or medical situation, travel insurance can be a trip investment worth making. Travel insurance covers many unforeseen expenses while traveling.

Members 1st Insurance Services offers a broad range of travel insurance options to fit your specific travel needs whether your trip is a domestic summer vacation or you’re heading abroad. Options offer higher limits and family packages. 

Coverage includes:

  • Trip Cancellation
  • Trip Interruption and Delay
  • Emergency Medical Coverage
  • Medical Evacuation/Repatriation
  • Air Flight AD&D
  • 24 Hour Emergency Assistance
  • Concierge Services

Options for Everyone
We offer a broad range of travel insurance options to fit your specific travel needs.

Coverage and Services may include a Pre-Existing Condition Waiver, Primary Medical Coverage on International Travel, Family Plan Perks, and Medical Assistance Services.

Contact Members 1st Insurance Services today to learn how we can help you with Travel Insurance by calling (800) 283-2328, ext. 5218.

FREE Insurance Quote

 

*Travel insurance is available to PA  and MD residents only. Ask an Insurance Services representative for details.

Does Minimum Coverage Mean Minimum Protection?


woman-auto accident-2

In the event you cause an accident, your auto insurance liability limits cover injuries to the other driver, the other driver’s passengers, and your passengers. Most states, including Pennsylvania, require that you purchase a minimum amount of car insurance. However, purchasing only state minimum limits may not be enough. Having adequate liability coverage can be the difference between being well protected and potential financial disaster.

Q. Pennsylvania requires minimum insurance coverage of 15/30/5. What does that mean?
A. Minimum liability limits of 15/30/5 means the insurer will provide bodily injury liability coverage up to $15,000 per person injured in any one accident, and $30,000 for all persons injured in any one accident, and up to $5,000 for property damages in any one accident.

Q. If I have minimum limits, what happens if I have an accident and damages exceed my policy limits?
A. Your insurance company will only pay up to the amount of your policy limits. So, if you’ve chosen Pennsylvania’s minimum property damage limits of $5,000 and cause
an accident which results in $25,000 in property damage, the insurance company will only pay $5,000, and you will be responsible for payment of the remaining $20,000.

Q. Why would I want to buy more insurance than state law requires?
A. Auto insurance is your safety net, and works best if it provides proper protection. Carrying state minimum protection may be more affordable in the short term. However, because you could be personally liable for damages which exceed your policy limits, you
should seriously consider purchasing liability insurance with limits higher than is required by state law.

Q. Is there another coverage option in lieu of increasing my policy limits?
A. Yes. You could also consider purchasing a personal umbrella policy (“PUP”) for added protection. A PUP is designed to “kick-in” when the liability limits of your auto policy have been exhausted. The bottom line – if you’re legally responsible for damages which
exceed your coverage limits, you’ll be responsible for the difference. The time to discover you don’t have adequate insurance/coverage is BEFORE you’re involved in an accident, not AFTER.

Q. Is increasing my limits right for me?
A. Increasing coverage limits (and/or adding a PUP) may not be as costly as you think. If you’re interested in protecting your and your family’s present well-being and financial future, and securing a little more peace of mind, as your independent insurance agent, we’re here to help answer any questions and help you review your available options.

Contact Members 1st Insurance Services today for a FREE quote!

Personal Insurance:
(800) 283-2328, ext. 5218 or 5245

Medicare, Long-Term Care, Group or Individual Health Insurance:
(800) 283-2328, ext. 6269

Petplan Pet Insurance:
(866) 467-3875

*Personal insurance services available to PA residents only.

Think Spring Home Improvement


african american couple_vertical_doorway with tools_blog
We’re dangerously close to March and if you’re like most people in Southcentral PA you have had enough of this winter weather. You’re looking to get outside and start enjoying some sunshine and some warmer weather, right?

It’s the time of year to start thinking about rediscovering the outside world and if you’re a homeowner, that rediscovery should include some annual springtime home maintenance. As the days hopefully get nicer, you may want to spend some time on the following so you don’t end up with costly repairs or damages later on:

Inspect your roof – Look for any water damage, missing shingles or related defects. A leaky roof can add up to a whole host of issues inside and out.

Clean your gutters – Clogged gutters are a recipe for disaster. They can break off, cause leaks and more.

Check your HVAC filters – Now is a great time to clean or replace your filters which you should be doing more than once a year anyway. Dirty filters cause your HVAC systems to work harder which means higher heating and cooling bills. And, let’s face it, if the motor blows on your system, then you end up with yet another costly repair.

Dryer vents – Dirty, clogged dryer vents lead to one thing – fires. The lint trap on your dryer doesn’t catch every fuzzy. Make sure you’re cleaning them out with your vacuum. Clean dryer vents help your dryer run more efficiently.

The washer – Check all of your washing machine’s hoses for cracks. Cracked hoses end up causing leaks. Leaks mean you’re going to get water all over the place – either as one big flooded floor or you could end up with a slow drip you’re unaware of that seeps down between your floor and subflooring and the next thing you know, you have an issue with rotting wood and extra repairs.

Window screens – Gently scrub your window screens, patch holes or replace them.

Decks, driveways, fences and more – These these don’t clean themselves, even when it rains. You may need to power-wash, repair, paint, stain and so on to keep them looking extra spiffy.

Cracks – Check for cracks in concrete, wood, and so on. Fill ’em up. Seal cracks around windows and doors, your pipes, bathtub and so on.

Paint – Peeling, chipped, cracked paint just doesn’t look good. Touch up painting is an easy fix.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – If you don’t have them, get some. If you do have them, change the batteries. Do this more than one time a year. You cannot underestimate the power of these inexpensive alarms and how much impact they can have in saving your life or the lives of your loved ones and pets. Invest in some fire extinguishers as well and know how to use them.

The frig – Vacuum your refrigerator coils to keep them nice and clean. If they’re covered in layers of dust, they’ll work harder, and you’ll have a higher electric bill. Clean them often. And while you’re at it, give the inside and outside of the refrigerator a good cleaning and disinfecting.

Prepare your power tools – Sharpen your lawn mower blades and check all of your other tools like chainsaws, trimmers, etc. so that they can run as efficiently as possible.

Reduce heating & cooling bills – Consider shades, shutters or other window treatments such as curtains that keep heat out and cool air in.

Check your homeowner’s or renter’s policy – Now is a great time to review your coverage. If you’d like a free quote to compare your current policy give our Insurance Services department a call.

Need help financing a home improvement project? Check out our home equity loan.

Make Sure You’re Covered in 2015!


Health InsuranceYou can sign up for health insurance, renew your current health insurance plan, or enroll in another plan for next year now through February 15, 2015.

Don’t have coverage? You can purchase health insurance on your hold if your employer doesn’t offer it, if your employer’s coverage is unaffordable, or if you’re self-employed. Plus, you can no longer be turned down because of pre-existing conditions. You may qualify for tax credits and savings on out-of-pocket costs, which could help make purchasing health care more affordable. Keep in mind that the fee for not having health insurance in 2015 is increasing to 2% of your income or $325/person. Make sure to enroll by December 15, 2014 in order to be covered on January 1, 2015.

Confused by HealthCare.gov? We have a tool that can simplify the process. To review your health insurance options and enroll/update your plan, go here and click on Get a Quote Today.

If you have any questions, our local expert Health Benefits Specialist Ben Lausch provides excellent service and would be happy to assist you with your choices. Contact him at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6269 or lauschb@members1st.org.

This article has been reprinted from the November/December 2014 edition of Avenues.

Medicare Advantage Enrollment Is Coming!


Are you on Medicare? Don’t forget– the Annual Enrollment period is coming up soon! From October 15 – December 7 you have the chance to make changes to your Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) or Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Plan (Medicare Part D) for the following year. There are many reasons why a different Prescription Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan could be a better fit (perhaps your health has changed). Since premiums and benefits for most plans are changing for 2015, you may want to take a moment to evaluate if your current plan will best meet your needs for the coming year.

If you’re concerned about your choices and need some guidance, Members 1st Insurance Services can help. Call me at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6269. I’ll help you better understand your Medicare options, help you find a plan that fits your budget and lifestyle, and ensure that you’ll avoid any late enrollment penalties.

 

Guest Blogger: Ben Lausch, Health Benefits Specialist, Members 1st Insurance Services (reprinted from the September/October 2014 edition of Avenues)

Protect your family with Flood Insurance.


Flood InsuranceEvery day, the forecast seems to have the potential for rain and stormy weather. Be prepared for the next flash flood warning with flood insurance and water/sewer backup coverage.

Flood insurance covers physical loss caused by floods, related erosion, severe rainstorms, flash floods, hurricanes and snow melt. It’s covered under a Federal program called the National Flood Insurance program. Flood insurance can be purchased directly through your insurance agent, the same way you purchase your life or car insurance. You can purchase flood insurance for your home, apartment, business or condo.

You may not live near water, but flooding can still affect you. Almost 25% of all claims occur in “low to moderate risk areas. If your home is located in such an area, you may be eligible for a low cost Preferred Risk Policy.

What does a flood policy cover? There are two types of flood insurance coverage. They include building property and personal property, each of which is purchased separately, although you are encouraged to purchase both types. You need to understand that there is usually a 30 day waiting period before a flood policy becomes effective. There are exceptions, so speak to your agent.

 

Building property coverage protects the structure, and generally covers:

–          The insured building and its foundation

–          The electrical and plumbing systems

–          Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces and water heaters

–          Refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances, such as dishwashers

–          Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor

–          Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases and cabinets

–          Detached garages (up to 10 percent of building property coverage).

–          Detached buildings (other than garages) require a separate building property policy

–          Debris removal

 

Personal property coverage generally covers:

–          Curtains

–          Personal belongings, including clothing, furniture and electrical equipment

–          Portable and window air conditioners

–          Carpets not included in building property coverage

–          Washers and dryers

–          Food freezers and their contents

–          Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs

 

It is important to know that your homeowners or business policy does not cover you for a sewer/drain backup or sump pump failure. However, most insurers do offer endorsements or add-ons to their policies, which can cover the cost of damages and clean-up after this type of event.

If you are interested in purchasing flood insurance and/or water/sewer backup coverage, contact Members 1st Insurance Services at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5218 or 5245. Members are eligible for an additional discount with several national and regional carriers through our insurance agency.

How to Handle Your Finances after a Divorce


divorce
While young adults are living together in increasing numbers, possibly avoiding the fate of being a split-up statistic, divorce rates have actually doubled over the past two decades for couples over 35, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota . When it comes to marriage, baby boomers may be two-time losers. But young or old, divorce, whether legal or laid back, can be an emotional — and financial – train wreck. Here’s how to get back on track.

The credit you deserve
After years of being in a joint financial partnership, it’s time to reestablish your individual credit identity. First, obtain a free copy of your credit report. The three major credit agencies are mandated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide a free copy of your report once a year. The official website is annualcreditreport.com, or you can call 1-877-322-8228 to request yours.

In case you haven’t already; cancel any remaining joint credit cards so that neither former spouse is liable for the other’s debt going forward. If you don’t have a credit card in your own name, you might want to consider applying for one, in order to build your new credit history.

It’s also quite likely that you’ll be carrying a bit of debt with you out of the divorce, such as court costs and attorneys’ fees; perhaps some credit card debt, as well. You may be tempted to pay off those debts all at once with any cash acquired through a settlement, but it might be a better idea to preserve those dollars until you see how your after-marriage money situation works out.

Account for every account
Remember to update the names on all other accounts, such as life insurance beneficiaries and authorized users. You may also have to change the names on deeds and titles to property that was granted to you as part of the divorce settlement.  Assets that may need to be retitled can include investment accounts, vehicles and houses. You may also want to consider refinancing any debt or mortgages that you have acquired in the process. And of course, you’ll want all of your bank and credit union accounts in your name only.

A fresh beginning
If you received the home as part of your settlement, think about if it’s financially feasible – or even emotionally beneficial – to stay. Not only do you have to consider the mortgage payment, but all of the associated expenses, too: insurance, upkeep, taxes, utilities and all the rest. Children can play an especially important role in this decision, depending on their age, school activities and social involvement. From a financial perspective, you will also want to weigh the tax consequences of a sale, though as a single-filing taxpayer you may qualify to exclude $250,000 of the capital gain from your income.

Emergency and retirement savings
The financial transition may be difficult, however you want to remember your short-term and long-term goals. First, having three to six months of income saved for unexpected expenses can help you get back on your feet. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will guide the terms of transfer for any qualified retirement account, such as a 401(k) retirement plan or pension. If you are to receive such assets, a trustee-to-trustee transfer will prevent an unnecessary mandatory tax withholding.

Make a money plan
While few people may guide their personal finances by a formal budget, it’s a good idea to have at least a “back of the envelope” money plan. You may be facing new expenses on your own, such as rent or mortgage payments and even legal costs. The household income has almost certainly changed.  Consider all spending as “up for review.” Total up every fixed expense, determine what can stay and what has to go – and then tackle discretionary spending, at least until you can get into a new financial routine.

Divorce can force you to think ahead, not back. And in matters of money – that’s a good thing.

Note: If you are facing a life changing event such as divorce or are suddenly single for other reasons and you need money management assistance, consider GreenPath, a financial management service that can help keep you on track.

Check out our brochure, Getting Married/Suddenly Single

Guest Blogger: Hal Bundrick, NerdWallet

Has Old Man Winter Done a Number on Your Home?


ice and snow on roofIce, snow, freezing rain, melting snow, refreezing snow – we sure have had our fill this winter, haven’t we? How’s your home holding up to all of this winter abuse? Old Man Winter has the potential to do serious damage to your roof, other areas outside your home – not to mention the possible ripple effects that can occur inside. Obviously pre-season prevention helps, but if you didn’t prepare your home for winter a few months ago, keep the following in mind as we move towards the end of the winter season.

Be aware of an ice dam forming on your roof. This happens when water from melting snow re-freezes at the edge of your roofline. If you don’t remove the snow from your roof, this ice dam could grow large enough to prevent water from draining off of the roof. When this happens, just like when the drains are covered on the street, water builds up, backs up and then it could make its way inside your home. The last thing  you want is your roof or ceiling having issues. As a property owner, you are responsible for the cost of preventive maintenance. You may find it helpful each winter season to develop a snow removal roof monitoring plan. 

If you have an attic, be sure it is thoroughly insulated. When heat escapes through the roof, it will melt what’s on top of it and then when it re-freezes, you could end up with a serious issue.

Make sure you’re turning off your outside water faucets and draining them before the deep freeze sets in. Add weather-stripping around doors and caulk your windows to guard against drafts and heat loss. Maybe you need to make the investment into new windows and doors. Be sure to get your chimneys cleaned and your furnace checked out each season. Change your furnace filter. Don’t turn off your heat or set it below 55 degrees. You need to have some heat circulating in your home, even when you are not home. You really don’t want to have to deal with frozen or bursting pipes, do you? Clean a clear path around your outside dryer vent, ventilation pipes and so on.

Keeping your safety in mind first, should you have a roof full of snow and ice, be sure remove as much snow as you can after every storm. The amount of snow and ice that your roof can handle varies according to a number of factors such as the roof type, age, and condition of the structure. And remember to inspect your roof each season, keep gutters free from debris such as twigs, leaves and the like. Clean out your down spouts.

Use a roof rake to clear the snow. Rule of thumb – if you have more than a foot of heavy, wet snow up there along with ice, do what you can to get it removed. If you can’t do it yourself or with a neighbor, call a reputable contractor or check with your home, landscape or roofing contractor or call your property maintenance company. Remember, climbing a ladder in snow and icy conditions is never a good idea. Safety first.

Before filing a claim, be sure to have seasonal maintenance done on your home to avoid those costly repairs. The cost of snow removal may be considerably less in price than the cost of roof damage, interior damage and other issues caused by water leaks.

Would you like a free quote for your homeowners insurance? Check out Members 1st Insurance Services*.  Also, ask us about renter’s insurance – protect your personal property while renting under someone else’s roof.

Keep Your Furry Friends Safe at the Holidays


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While there’s no place like home for the holidays, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind for keeping your pets safe during the festivities. Holiday decorations and celebrations can prove dangerous for your furry friends.

  • Trade in the tinsel. Although it adds some pretty bling to your tree, tinsel can wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive tract if ingested. Ultimately, it can block your pet’s intestines, leaving your pet in pain and facing possible surgery. It’s best to find an alternative way to bring that extra sparkle to your tree.
  • Tree trouble. Make sure to anchor your tree so that it doesn’t tip over, possibly hurting your pet. If you have a real tree, it’s also a good idea to keep the area tidy – free of loose pine needles. If ingested, they could puncture your pet’s intestines.
  • Pass up poisonous plants. You probably know that poinsettias are poisonous to dogs and cats, but did you know that holly and mistletoe can be even more toxic if eaten? If you do chose to bring these items into your home, make sure to keep them in an area where your pet cannot reach them. Even better – choose artificial plants instead.
  • Wrapping this weekend? Make sure to keep your pet away from the supplies and the scissors. Before you know it, they could be swallowing your string or chewing the wrapping paper and you could be in for a trip to the emergency vet.
  • Merry and bright. Candles create ambiance, but they can be dangerous to pets. Always place lit candles on a high surface and blow them out when you leave the room. Curious kitties could burn themselves or knock a candle over in a heartbeat. Looking for an alternative? Choose  battery operated candles. They’re just as pretty and safer for you and your pets.
  • Ringing in the New Year? While the New Year presents lots of fun for us, your pets may not enjoy them as much. Fireworks and noisemakers can scare your furry friends and damage sensitive ears. Throwing a party? Keep your pets inside at all times (they could bolt if outside during  fireworks) and provide a safe haven for them. Stock a comfortable room with their beds, toys, food, water and a litter box.

It’s important to keep your loved one’s health in mind throughout the rest of the year, too. Did you know? We partner with Petplan® Pet Insurance to provide dogs and cats the care they deserve.* You can obtain comprehensive, flexible and affordable coverage for your  furry friends. Petplan policyholders may visit any licensed veterinarian in the United States and Canada for treatment of all unexpected accidents and illnesses – including hereditary and chronic conditions. For a free instant quote, go to www.GoPetplan.com. Just enter promotion code SUB0109C and you’ll receive a 5% premium discount and an additional 5% discount for buying online. Questions? Call Petplan® at (866) 467-3875.

*Terms and conditions apply. For full details, visit www.GoPetplan.com. Coverage under any pet insurance policy is expressly subject to the conditions, restrictions, limitations, exclusions and terms of the policy documentation issued by the insurer. Availability of this program is subject to each state’s approval and coverage may vary by state. Pet insurance policies are issued by AGCS Marine Insurance Company and administered by Fetch Insurance Services, LLC (Fetch Insurance Agency LLC in Michigan) d/b/a Petplan (Petplan Insurance Agency, LLC in California).
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