Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Winter Weather Pet Care Tips

Winter is tough on everyone—less daylight, more cold, and of course, that pesky white stuff that wreaks havoc on just about everything! People aren’t the only ones affected by the dramatic shift in weather—our pets notice it, too. Like people, animals need to stay warm, dry, and hydrated. The cold weather affects every animal differently so be sensitive to their needs, but the list below are some tips that generally apply to any type of pet:

Limit their time outside.  Pets enjoy fresh air and sunshine as much as their humans do, but obviously, that’s tougher to do in winter.  For dogs, limit walks to no more than 30 minutes (15-20 minutes for smaller dogs; 20-30 for larger breed), and make sure you shovel a path for them in the backyard.  If your dog has short hair, he might be more comfortable in a coat or sweater with a high collar. According to the Humane Society of the United States’ website, cats should not be left outside for any reason during the winter (even if they go outside during the rest of the year), so get out the litterbox and make sure you have plenty of cat litter.

Check their paws.  Dogs love licking their paws, but during the winter, their paws may touch things they shouldn’t consume, namely ice melting compounds and antifreeze.  Wipe down their paws when they come in from a walk or roaming around your backyard to minimize their risk of consuming something harmful. Also, check their paws for redness between the toes or dry, cracked skin—common side effects of winter weather.

Know their limits.  If your pet is very young, very old, or has a known health condition, the less time spent outside, the better.  

Watch the ice! Watch for slippery spots on roads and sidewalks (your cat or dog can slip and fall just like a human), and avoid lakes or ponds at all costs. If the body of water is not completely frozen, you or your pet could get seriously hurt or killed if the ice breaks.

Make sure they’re warm. Your pet should have a warm and comfortable place to sleep. Try to move their beds away from drafty doorways 
If your pet is used to spending time outside, the winter months can seem like an eternity. Be sure to play with them and keep them stimulated while they’re inside so they’re not getting into trouble!

Pet insurance is another way to care for your pet all year long. ETA Benefits Group is proud to offer pet insurance exclusively through Petplan, with various plans available. This coverage gives you peace of mind if your pet gets sick or injured, and it will also reimburse you for wellness visits. Contact us to learn more!

How do you help your pets get through the winter? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Year's Insurance Resolutions

The start of a new year is a great time to commit to starting new habits or ending bad ones. It’s also a good time to plan for any big changes coming your way in the next 12 months so you can buy the appropriate insurance for them.

Insurance gives you extra peace of mind when the unexpected happens, and the good thing is that there is insurance available for virtually every life occurrence or personal possession. Think of it this way—you wouldn’t go skydiving without a parachute. Why would you not have insurance that will protect you, the people, and possessions that mean the most to you?

With this in mind, let’s look at just a few major occurrences that could mean new or adjusted insurance coverage:

·         Life events.  Marriage, new baby, divorce, retirement, death—each of these milestones are important and need the right protection…sometimes several different lines of coverage.  For example, getting married might mean event insurance (for the wedding itself), travel insurance (for the honeymoon), valuables protection (for wedding jewelry), a homeowners’ policy, and life insurance.  Milestones like marriage, a new baby, and divorce would affect your life insurance, so notify your agent if you anticipate one of these life events this year.
          Home remodeling projects. Your home is one of those ongoing investments—there’s always something to work on.  If you’re planning a major home remodeling project, such as an addition, new fa├žade or roof, it could mean an adjustment to your homeowners’ policy. Also, if you purchase any valuables, such as jewelry, art, or antiques, these items can also be included in your policy. (Keeping a home inventory list is another good habit to get into. List all of your home’s contents on a spreadsheet or an easily-accessible location so if anything gets lost or stolen, it makes the claim process easier for everyone. This list should be updated every year.)
      Changes to your driving status. If you’re in the market for a new car (which will likely come equipped with a host of safety features), adding a new driver, or your car is older and needs less coverage, all of these factors will affect your car insurance coverage in various ways. Discuss any changes with your agent so they can find you a new plan or adjust your existing policy accordingly.
            Traveling abroad. Whether you’re planning to travel abroad for home, business, or volunteer work, insurance is always a good investment. You can purchase a policy for the trip itself, so you are covered if the trip is cancelled or cut short, and there are international medical and health insurance plans available—most regular health insurance plans may only cover a portion of your expenses (at most) if you get sick or injured while traveling.

ETA Benefits works with several carriers that can meet all the insurance needs above and many more! As independent agents we have the flexibility to shop around and select the plans with the best levels of coverage at the best price for our clients.

Are you planning any big changes in 2018? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

What to Look For in Auto Insurance Coverage

Price is important when buying auto insurance, but there are other factors to consider, as well.

Whether you’re buying your first policy or you’ve been buying auto insurance for many years, if you’re only looking at the bottom line (cost of your monthly premium) and not reviewing your whole policy, you may be missing out on some important cost savings or benefits offered by some carriers, such as those mentioned below:

Discounts.  Believe it or not, some carriers like rewarding good driving habits and saving their customers money.  There are a wide range of discounts available from different carriers—everything from Good Grade Discounts for student drivers to discounts for mature drivers who take an improved driving course.  You can even save some money if your car has certain safety features. One of the most common (and popular) is the bundled policy savings you can receive if you purchase your home and auto insurance from the same carrier.  

Rental expense.  Auto insurance is meant to protect you financially from the unexpected.  If you have an accident and need to use a rental car, some policies will cover some or all of the costs for the loaner while your vehicle is being repaired.

Ability to drop comp and collision. Your car loses value as it ages, so there may come a point where you decide to drop certain coverage.  For example, if your car is 10 years old and it has a few dents or dings, or it’s worth only a few thousand dollars, you might want to drop the comp and collision coverage.  The repairs from any future scrapes may cost more than the car is worth.

Coverage for work use.  If you work in sales or are a delivery driver, you may be using your own vehicle. Make sure your personal policy includes this coverage—otherwise you might need a separate business car insurance policy.

As always, not all carriers offer the above discounts or benefits. It’s important that you review your policy with your agent so you know what you may be entitled to. You can always contact us if you have questions about your coverage.

How do you choose your auto insurance? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Insuring Your Christmas Gifts

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving gifts, and sometimes, we receive gifts with significant financial or sentimental value.  These are the items that we’ll not only enjoy for years to come, but perhaps pass on to the next generation as meaningful heirlooms.

These are the items that should be properly insured.

Different types of insurance will cover different types of possessions.  Of course, you should have the appropriate policies for big-ticket items like vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and other “toys”.  But what about the rest?

Most homeowners’ policies will actually cover items such as:
  •  Jewelry
  • Electronics (including computers and cameras)
  • Antiques
  • Artwork
  • Collectibles (such as porcelain dolls, stamp and coin collections, and political memorabilia)
  • Firearms
  • Rare books
  • Sports equipment
Although your homeowners’ policy will recoup some of your losses if the item is lost, stolen, or damaged, not all of them will pay the item’s full value. Another option is to purchase a policy specifically for that item (such as jewelry) that will provide full protection.

First, you should decide what kind of coverage you will need. For example, if you want to buy a policy for an engagement ring, you can purchase an individual rider.  If you have a large collection of certain items (like wine, artwork, or memorabilia) you can purchase a policy for blanket protection (be advised that most blanket protection policies will only cover items with a maximum value of $2,500).  If you’d like to insure something worth more than $50,000, then you would need to have it appraised.

There are a few options for protecting your valuables. Of course, you should speak with your agent and choose the right kind of coverage for your most precious items. Everyone wants to enjoy gifts for as long as possible, and purchasing a personal valuables policy can help you do that.

Have you ever bought insurance for your valuables? What type of policy, and what was your experience? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!