March 2009 - Bradford PA Insurance - Williams Insurance Agency

Important Notice for Homeowners

March 19, 2009 in bradford, Bradford PA, bradford pennsylvania, Uncategorized

Insurance Insider Reveals Little-Known Secrets:

10 Ways You Can Save $ on Your Homeowners Insurance — And Provide Better Protection for Yourself and the People You Love!

By Dan Williams

Your home is probably your most valuable asset. It is also a huge risk for you financially. What if something happens to it? A fire? A flood? Vandalism? What if someone visiting you slips, falls and suffers a serious injury? And sues you? An accident like that could put a dent — or worse — in your financial security.

For most people, insurance is a mystery. They know they need to have insurance for their homes (mortgage lenders require it), but they don’t understand the coverage provided by the policy. And they don’t know which insurance companies offer the best — the best! — prices. Because they don’t understand the product, many people think insurance is a rip-off, and it is — if you pay too much or buy coverage you don’t need.

All homeowners insurance is not created equal. In fact, almost none of it is. There are thousands of different products out there, from hundreds of insurance companies. How do you find the insurance and the insurance company that are best for you? You read this special report and tap into my vast knowledge of the products and the companies that offer them.

I am an insurance “insider.” A licensed member of the “club.” I’ve sold the product. I know what kind of insurance fits your needs. And I know what insurance companies sell this kind of insurance at the best — lowest! — price. Because I’ve specialized in the insurance needs of homeowners and their families, I have decided to dedicate myself to solving for you some of the mysteries of homeowners insurance.
Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value

Your homeowners policy does not provide coverage for all potential catastrophes that could damage or destroy your home. Earthquake and flood are two “perils” for which there is no coverage. (You can get coverage for earthquake and flood damage in a separate policy or as an endorsement to your homeowners coverage.) Also, there is no coverage for damage caused by water that seeps into your home from the ground. You do have coverage for losses related to fire, smoke, lightning, wind storms, hail, explosions, vandalism and theft.

There are different ways to insure your home, both the structure and your personal property. Let’s take the structure first. There are two types of coverage: replacement cost and actual cash value. Replacement cost is better for you, the homeowner. Under replacement cost coverage, the insurance will cover the cost of replacing the part of the structure that is damaged, up to a maximum dollar amount. Under actual cash value, the insurance will cover the cost of replacing the damaged structure minus an allowance for depreciation. If you have an older home, that allowance could be quite significant. Unless your policy specifically says it provides replacement cost coverage, the coverage is for actual cash value.

So how much insurance should you have? Basically, unless you want to pay some of the costs yourself, you should insure your home for what it would cost to rebuild it if your residence were destroyed. How do you find this out? Your insurance agent can have an answer for you in no time. If you don’t have an insurance agent — and you should — you can contact your local builders association. In the home construction world, building costs are calculated on a square foot basis. As such, to determine the cost to rebuild your home, take the square footage of your house and multiply by the average per square foot building rate in your area.

Your possessions are also insured on a replacement cost or actual cash value basis. Again, unless specified otherwise, the coverage in your policy is actual cash value. Homeowners policies also have limits on coverage for such items as jewelry, fine art and computer equipment. Read your policy and see what these limits are. For example, the standard policy will provide a maximum of $1,000 coverage for your jewelry if it is lost or stolen. If you have lots of jewelry, fine art or computer equipment, you should consider purchasing a special personal property endorsement or “floater” that provides the coverage you need.

Speaking of need, you need to take written and visual (still pictures or video) inventories of everything you own in your home and in other buildings on the property. Include all furniture (indoor and outdoor), appliances, stereos, computers and other electronic equipment, hobby materials and recreational equipment, china, silverware, kitchen equipment, linens, jewelry and clothing. For the major items (computers, televisions, stereo systems, etc.), write down the serial number, make or model number, purchase price, present value and date of purchase of each item. If you have the receipts for the items, attach them to the inventory. Make at least two copies of the inventory and store one of those copies offsite — a safe deposit box is a good place. Store the pictures or video of the inventory offsite as well.
10 Ways to Save $

Now that you know the basics of a homeowners insurance policy, here are 10 ways you can pay less. In many cases, you can get the same level of coverage for fewer dollars.

* One Insurer, Multiple Policies — Do you have an automobile insurance policy? If so, is it with the same insurance company that provides your homeowners insurance? If the answer’s no, you’re paying too much — for both policies. Almost every insurance company that sells homeowners insurance wants its policyholders to also buy auto insurance from that company. These insurers offer so-called multi-policy discounts. Usually, these discounts are at least 10% — and some insurers apply the discounts to both the auto and the homeowners/renters policy.

* Raise Your Deductible — The deductible is the amount you pay before insurance kicks in if you have a claim. For example, if you have a $250 deductible and you file a claim for $1,000 in damage to your home, you pay the first $250 and your insurer pays the balance, $750. The higher the deductible you choose, the more you pay. Also, though, the higher deductible, the less you have to pay for your policy. Depending on the insurance company, you can save between 12% and 37% if you have a deductible of $500 to $5,000.

* New Is Better — Insurers really like newer homes. That’s because it’s less likely something will go wrong with the electrical, heating and plumbing systems. In addition, the structure itself is in better shape. Insurers offer discounts of as much as 8% to 15% if your residence is new.

* Location, Location, Location — Where do you live and what is your home made of? If you’re in the Eastern United States, it’s better from an insurance perspective to have a brick or masonry residence because such a structure has a greater resistance to wind damage. By contrast, frame homes are better in the earthquake-prone West. The right structure in the right region can save you 5% to 15%. Further, if your home is near a fire station, you will pay less for homeowners insurance. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, you may be required to buy a flood insurance policy, which costs about $400 a year. If you are not required to buy the coverage and still live in a flood-prone area, your homeowners policy will not provide coverage for losses arising from flooding.

* Insure the House, Not the Land — Nobody is going to steal your land. Fire and high winds won’t “destroy” it. As such, when deciding how much homeowners coverage to have, don’t include the value of the land, only the value of the house and any other buildings on the property. If you include the value of the land, you’re paying too much.

* Don’t Insure What You Don’t Have — Each year, you should review your policy to see what coverage you have for your possessions. If you have made a major purchase, you will want to increase your limits of coverage, but what if you sell something or somethings? You don’t need as much coverage. Pay particular attention to items that are covered by endorsements or “floaters” to your policy, items such as jewelry and computer equipment.

* Better Safe(r) Than Sorry — Smoke detectors, burglar alarms and deadbolt locks are usually worth discounts of at least 5%. You can get even bigger discounts, 15% to 20%, if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system or an alarm system that rings at the police station or a security company. However, not all of these systems qualify for discounts. Before you install one, check with your insurer to find out what type of system qualifies for a discount and how much you would save on your premium if you installed the system.

* Where There’s Smoke . . . – There’s fire. Smoking (unattended cigarette butts, etc.) produces more than 23,000 residential fires in this country each year. That’s why some insurers have discounts if all the residents in a home are nonsmokers.

* Group Discounts — Some insurers offer discounts to certain business or alumni associations. If you are a member of such an association or associations, ask the director(s) of the association(s) if there are any insurance companies providing discounts to association members.

* Don’t Jump Around — If you’ve been with an insurer for a while and you like that insurer, stay put. Some insurance companies automatically have discounts for policyholders who have been with the companies for a certain number of years. For example, 5% for at least three years, 10% for at least five years.

Is Your Coverage Adequate?

I won’t kid you. There’s more to this insurance game than saving money. In fact, while it’s nice to lower your insurance costs, it’s probably even more important to make sure you, your loved ones and your assets are covered adequately. It’s not a pleasant thought, but insurance is about worst-case scenarios. It’s also about peace of mind, knowing that you have the worst-case scenarios covered.

Because I know peace of mind is so important, I am willing — actually, I’m excited — to reveal to you the secrets about insurance. Secrets that ensure you have all the protection you need.

Why would I just give these secrets away? Because it’s just as good for my business as it is for you. I want to let you in on the knowledge I have accumulated as an insurance industry professional and insider. I want to do this because I have found, time and time again, that generosity and the willingness to provide really great service come back to me. Tenfold. In fact, that’s how I have built my business.
Three Steps to Protection

There are three basic steps you can take to protect your and your family’s financial well-being:

* Have an insurance specialist conduct a risk analysis of your home, car(s) and family. How can you adequately address your risks with insurance if you don’t even know what these risks are? I’ve found that most people face more risk than they know. Because everyone is different, it’s not like you can ask a friend or relative to assess your insurance needs — unless they are insiders in this business. If you haven’t had your risks assessed by an insurance professional, you could be inviting financial disaster. You need a professional, a knowledgeable insurance insider, to put together a comprehensive insurance plan that truly protects you. Our office will do that for FREE.

* Use an independent agent. There are several ways home insurance is sold in this country. Some people buy it by calling a toll-free number and talking to an employee of an insurance company. Others take advantage of direct mail offers. And some buy from agents who represent just one insurance company. A direct mail piece is not going to be able to assess your level of risk. Do you really want an insurance company employee to be your agent? And what happens if the agent who represents just one company doesn’t have the kind of insurance coverage you need? You need someone who’s going to work for you. And you need someone who can offer you several options. Someone who can go to numerous insurance companies and compare their products and prices. Someone who, if necessary, can place parts of your insurance program with more than one company. Do you want a good price? Do you want options and flexibility? And do you want protection against worst-case scenarios? There’s only one option here: Use an independent agent.

* Don’t trust the financial protection of you, your family and your assets to an insurance agent who is not a homeowners insurance specialist. A specialist? Absolutely. Look, insurance is a huge industry. There’s insurance for everything. And nobody can specialize in all of it. In fact, a professional independent agent can specialize in only a few niches — and really understand them. And I do. I’ve studied the homeowners insurance market in our community for years.

I know:

* Which homeowners insurers have the best rates.
* Which give the most discounts.
* And which provide the best claim service.

I will give you this information for FREE. No charge. No obligation. I do this because I’ve built my business on my reputation. I never hard-sell insurance. I’m in the service business. The better service I provide, the better it is for all of us.

My clients stay with me because of my service – and they refer me to their family and friends.

I believe I serve families in our community better than anyone in this area — in any profession. I believe this because I spend a lot of time with my clients, determining their needs, their level of risk, and finding the perfect insurance program for them.

So if you want to protect yourself, your family and your assets from a crisis or catastrophe or just see if you can save money on your insurance, call my office. My staff and I will be glad to help.


Dan Williams

Safe Driving Tips for Young Drivers

March 19, 2009 in bradford, Bradford PA, bradford pennsylvania, Uncategorized

Over 100 Safe Driving Tips For Young Drivers
Driving around school

* Get to school five to ten minutes early and leave five minutes late to avoid the mad dash into and out from the parking lots. Many accidents happen when kids are rushing around.
* If your school lot has perpendicular spaces (not angle parking), park in a space you can pull straight out of instead of having to back out. Backing out in crowed lots is tricky.
* Watch for kids getting on and off school buses–and don’t run into the school buses, either.
* Go slow.
* Don’t leave valuables like wallets, shoes, leather jackets or sports equipment in your cars where they can be seen because they invite break-ins.
* Always stop for school buses with flashing lights. The flashing lights mean that students are either getting on or off the bus–and may be crossing the street. Their safety depends on cars obeying this law.

Driving around town

* Avoid making left hand turns across busy intersections that don’t have turn signals. It takes a while to learn how to gage the oncoming traffic. Better to go down a block or two until you come to a light, or plan a route that doesn’t need this turn.
* Don’t make assumptions about what other drivers are going to do. The only thing you can assume about another driver with a turn signal on is that he has a turn signal on. He might not be turning at all and forgot to turn it off the last time he used it or has changed his mind.
* When there’s an obstruction in your lane, wait for oncoming traffic to clear before you pull around. Just because someone’s blocking your lane doesn’t mean you have the right of way in the next or oncoming lane.
* Watch out for aggressive drivers and try to stay out of their way. They are the cause of a lot of accidents–especially on the beltways.
* Watch out for anything that is connected to the U.S. Mail. (This tip submitted by someone who has had run-ins with a mailbox and a mail delivery station wagon, and a fender bender in front of the post office.)
* Don’t do anything that will cause another car’s driver to slam on the brakes such as pulling out in front of him or swerving into his lane.

Driving in the country

* Watch out for deer and other large and small animals. If you see a deer approaching, slow down and flash your lights repeatedly. Often, the deer will run away.
* Also, if you see one deer, watch out for others close by–they often travel in pairs or groups.
* Watch out for pigs, chickens, cows, and skunks, too.
* When driving in the desert, watch out for animals like camels. One visitor from Saudi Arabia wrote in that a relative was severely injured in an impact with a camel.

Driving in bad weather

* Turn your headlights on anytime you need to turn your windshield wipers on–in rain, fog, sleet, freezing rain, or snow. It will help your visibility–and also help other drivers see you. (It’s now the law in Maryland that you have to turn your lights on whenever you need to keep your windshield wipers on.)
* In winter, keep an ice scraper with a brush in your car in case it snows or sleets. Also check that you have wiper fluid/de-icer in your car. If it gets messy while you are out, these will come in handy.
* Double the space you normally leave between you and the next car. You’ll need more space to stop on slick roads.
* Brake gently
* Make sure your exhaust tail pipe is clear if you’ve had to dig your car out of snow or ice or if you’ve backed into a snow bank. If your tail pipe is blocked you could get sick or die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
* When driving on slippery surfaces like ice or snow use gentle pressure on the accelerator pedal when starting. If your wheels start to spin, let up on the accelerator until traction returns.
* Check that windshield washer works-you may need it in snow and sleet.
* Braking in bad weather can be tricky. When braking on wet roads:

1. if you have ABS (anti-lock) brakes, do not pump brakes
2. if you skid with non ABS brakes and your wheels lock up, let up on the brakes to unlock the wheels, then brake gently.

* Listen to radio traffic reports and adjust your travel plans accordingly.
* Keep windows and windshield clear. Make sure wipers are working.
* Leave a window open a little bit to keep windshield from fogging up and to give you fresh air.
* Watch for danger spots ahead. You’ve probably heard that bridges and overpasses may freeze before the roads do.
* When starting out in bad weather, test your brakes to see how far it takes you to stop. This tip was sent in by someone who didn’t do this and ended up wrecking her car. She also called her dad on his car phone to tell him about the accident–and he was so upset, he wrecked his car, too. So her second tip is not to tell your parents that you’ve wrecked the car while they are driving.
* If you are stuck in ice or snow, try putting your floor mats under the edge of the tires to give them traction.

General tips

* Always wear your seat belt–and make sure all passengers buckle up, too.
* Adjust your car’s headrest to a height behind your head–not your neck–to minimize whiplash in case you’re in an accident.
* Never try to fit more people in the car than you have seatbelts for them to use.
* Obey the speed limits, Going too fast gives you less time to stop or react. Excess speed is one of the main causes of teenage accidents.
* Don’t run red lights.
* Use turn signals to indicate your intention to turn or to change lanes. Turn it on to give the cars behind you enough time to react before you take the action. Also, make sure the signals turns off after you’ve completed the action.
* When light turns green, make sure intersection clears before you go.
* Don’t drive like you own the road; drive like you own the car.
* Make sure your windshield is clean. At sun rise and sun set, light reflecting off your dirty windshield can momentarily blind you from seeing what’s going on.
* Don’t blast the radio. You might miss hearing a siren or a horn that could warn you of possible trouble.
* Make sure your garage door is completely open before backing out of it. This was submitted by another teen who learned this one from his dad’s mistakes.
* Drive into your garage straight, not on an angle. Another teen thought her car would straighten out before she got inside, but instead she dented the car and broke the molding on the garage.
* Make sure your car has gas in it. Don’t ride around with the gauge on empty–who knows where you might get stranded.
* Don’t drink and drive, and don’t ride with anyone who has been drinking. Call parents or friends to take you home if you need a ride.
* Don’t take drugs or drive if you’ve taken any. Don’t ride with anyone who has been using drugs. Even some over the counter drugs can make you drowsy. Check label for warnings.
* Don’t drive with small children or even small teenage friends as passengers in a front seat that has a passenger-side air bag. They should be buckled up in the back seat. Recent transportation studies show that small children may be injured by the air bags even in low impact collisions. (Actually, it’s safer not to drive with friends and kids in the car when you’re learning to drive. They can be distracting.)
* Don’t talk on the car phone, put on make-up, comb your hair, or eat while driving. People who talk on car phones while driving are four times more likely to have an accident. If you need to make a call, pull off the road to a safe spot and park.
* Don’t fiddle with the radio while you are driving. It’s better to wait until you can pull over and stop because even taking your focus off the road for a few seconds could lead to an accident.
* Use good quality tires and make sure they are inflated to the right pressure (check your owners manual for what is right for your tires and car). Many visitors to this page have recommended radial tires and in some states, radials are ok to use in snow emergency conditions. Check your state to see what the requirements are for driving in snow.
* Maintain your car. Bald tires, a slipping transmission, or a hesitant engine could lead to accidents.
* Use headlights during daylight driving, especially on long stretches of desert highway and rural roads to make you more visible to oncoming drivers.
* Many people have suggested selecting a designated driver when going out for a night on the town with friends. This person does not drink and has the responsibility of getting people home safely. (Drinking and driving DO NOT MIX)
* Watch out for potholes, especially after bad weather
* Be on the lookout for motorcycles, bikes, and pedestrians
* When driving to a new place, get complete directions before you go. Figure out what exits you need to take before hand. One visitor hit a divider at an exit ramp location after being told too late that this was the place to get off the highway.

To pass or not to pass

Don’t pass

* When there is a solid yellow line on your side
* When you’re uncertain there is enough time or space
* When you can’t see around a curve or over a hill
* When behind multiple cars and passing one car doesn’t really make any difference
* On two lane roads, don’t pass tractors or trucks or other vehicles you can’t see around
* In hazardous weather conditions
* When another car is coming toward you in the opposite lane
* When a car is passing you
* When there is construction or road work
* When the car in front of you is going the maximum speed limit
* When on narrow roads, on bridges, or in tunnels
* When you are unfamiliar with the car you are driving and its capabilities
* Don’t play leap frog by passing a friend that just passed you

Passing with caution

* Only pass if there’s a dotted line on your side.
* Check that the passing lane is clear.
* Make sure you have plenty of space to pass safely.
* Signal before you pass.
* Pass at least ten miles per hour faster than the car you’re passing while not exceeding the speed limit.
* Make sure you have cleared the passed car with enough space before pulling back into your lane.

Major factors in accidents

* Speed
* Alcohol and drugs
* Ignoring right-of-way
* Tailgating
* Improper passing and driving to the left of center
* Fatigue
* Reckless Driving

Danger signs for fatigue

* Drowsiness can sneak up on you when you’re driving. For teenagers, driving late at night, between eleven p.m. and two a.m. is particularly dangerous for falling asleep at the wheel. Here are some signs to watch for–and do something about before you run into a tree or another car.
* Yawning a lot
* Having trouble keeping eyes open
* Not being able to concentrate
* Not remembering the last few minutes or seconds
* Jerking of your head or body from the brink of falling asleep
* Car wanders from the road or into another lane

What to do:

* Slow Down
* Pull off road into a safe parking space.
* Call home if you can.
* Talk to passenger if you have one
* Turn radio to a lively station, try singing
* Roll down window and get some fresh air for a few minutes, or turn vent on full blast
* Make a pit stop, use the bathroom and get a Coke or coffee to drink

Buying a used car

* Some older used cars have airbags. Many Chrysler cars 1990 (also a few from 1989) and later have airbags. Other makes and models have airbags in 1993, 94, or 95 models.
* The Consumer Guide Used Car Rating Guide has listing with good and bad points of used cars.
* Check the horn, lights, heat, air-conditioning, brakes, seat belts, steering, and seats out before you buy. Also look for evidence that indicates the car was in a major accident.
* Check with the previous owner for the car’s accident and maintenance record. You may find the owner’s name written on the owner’s manual in glove compartment. Also for a fee, you may be able to get some information from your state department of motor vehicles if you have the car identification number which can tell you if the car has been in previous accidents.
* Have a mechanic you trust go over the car and alert you to any potential problems.
* Check the car for evidence of tampering like any marks on the odometer or numbers that don’t line up. Also see if the odometer miles are more than mileage entered on oil stickers, inspection stickers, or tire warranty cards.
* Look at the tires. If the odometer reads less than 25,000 miles, the car should have the original tires–and they should all be the same brand and probably radials.

Williams Agency is an Independent Insurance Agency located in Bradford, Pa. We represent different insurance companies, which means we work for our clients, not a company. We will shop the market to find you the best insurance coverage at the most competitive price. If you have a problem, you can always count on us working to help you and make sure you receive all the benefits of your policy.
Give us a call today, we can help.