Category: The Daily Staple

5 Things to Know About Getting Life Insurance for Your Children…

Depending on what you read, buying life insurance for children is a great act of love. The coverage is a way to save money for kids and “protect their insurability” – meaning their ability to buy more life insurance later, no matter their health, in addition to the death benefit. So in addition to internet debates about how to get your baby to sleep or what kind of diapers to use here are a few things to know about life insurance for your child…

Life Insurance Policies Grow Up Too

A child who develops a medical problem early in life might have trouble qualifying for coverage later. By purchasing coverage now, you guarantee the child has some coverage and can buy more as an adult, regardless of health. This is a big reason people purchase life insurance on their children.

It Creates a Sensible Foundation

The savings component of a permanent life insurance policy, called cash value, grows over years. The policy owner can borrow against the cash value or surrender the policy for the money, minus a possible surrender fee. The cash value growth is tax-deferred, meaning it isn’t taxed as income until you withdraw money or surrender the policy. The cash could be used for anything, including college expenses or the down payment on a home. A whole life insurance policy guarantees a certain percentage return on the cash value and compares well with other conservative savings vehicles.

Don’t Buy the First Policy That Crosses Your Mailbox

Be sure to compare prices, and it is always helpful to talk to an insurance professional or adviser who can help you navigate through choices before committing to a policy. Look at your entire financial picture to make sure you’re saving enough and covering bigger risks.

Add the Children to Your Policy

Talk to your agent to see which policy makes sense for you. Once you or your spouse is covered by either a Term or Whole Life insurance policy, just add a rider to help protect the rest of your family.  Add a Children’s Term Rider. Just one rider could provide up to $20,000 in life insurance coverage for each child in your family, including children yet to be born. So as your family grows, new children are covered once they reach 15 days old. Term coverage will terminate when the child reaches age 25 when it could be converted to permanent coverage.

The Safety Net Is There

If the worse happens and your child passes away then juvenile life insurance can help provide a buffer, covering funeral expenses and allowing parents to take time off, care for their other children and grieve as needed.

An independent insurance agent can help you buy life insurance for every member of your family, including your children. Sometimes children’s life insurance is bought by extended family members, like grandparents. If this is the case, your independent insurance agent can help you integrate this generous gift into the rest of your life insurance plan.

Contact Stapleton Insurance for help with any of your insurance needs!  419-720-6446

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Home Insurance: What to Know About Homeowners Insurance

What is Home Insurance?

Do you know what home insurance is and how it works? The idea of homeowners insurance might seem simple, but it can be easily misunderstood. We’ll be taking a look at everything you need to know about home insurance.

Homeowners insurance is a way of covering you against loss or damage that occurs to your property. It makes sure you have insurance protection if there is damage done to the furnishings within your home, as well as other possessions you own.

Home insurance can also cover you against accidents that happen on your property. Whether you will be buying a traditional home, townhousemodular home, or even shipping container housing, having home insurance is one of the best investments you can make.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage

This type of insurance will normally cover the policyholder on four types of loss. The insurance will cover you for damage to the outside of your home, the inside of your home, damage or loss of your belongings, and injuries on the property.

Though when the homeowner makes a claim on their insurance policy for any of these types of loss, they will be expected to pay a deductible. These deductibles will vary depending on the terms of your insurance policy and are an out-of-pocket cost if you need to make a claim.

The higher your deductibles’ cost, the lower your monthly or annually payable premiums will likely be. Though you have to claim on the policy, you could need to pay a significant amount of money out-of-pocket.

These are things you can expect your coverage to protect:

  • The dwelling.
  • Other structures such as outbuildings, sheds, and fences.
  • Your property inside the home.
  • Liability coverage which pays in the event you injure someone due to neglect.
  • Medical payments if someone gets injured on your property.
  • Living expenses in the event something happens and your home needs repairs.

Home Insurance Liability Limits

Every house insurance policy will have a limit of liability. This is the maximum amount of coverage the homeowner has should something go wrong.

Typically, this amount is set at $100,000, though if the homeowner needs more coverage than this, a higher limit can be available. If more coverage is required, premiums are likely to rise accordingly.

If a claim is made on the insurance policy, the liability limit sets out how the cash will be available. The terms of the liability limit will set out the percentage of coverage available to replace items lost or damaged, repair the property, and pay for the homeowner to live somewhere else while any repair work is being carried out.

Call Stapleton Insurance Group and we would love to walk you through the process of getting the best homeowners insurance that is right for you and your situation! 419-720-6446 

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5 Tips When Taking your Car out of Storage

5 Tips When Taking your Car out of Storage

With warmer weather approaching, stored vehicles will soon be making an appearance on the roads. Here are 5 tips to consider when taking your vehicle out of winter storage:

  1. Check the tires – tires can be adversely affected by cold weather. Check the inside of the driver’s-side doorjamb for the prescribed PSI and fill the tires accordingly. You may also want to check for any cracks or bulges in the rubber.
  2. Check for leaks under the car – Be sure to look in the engine bay and under the vehicle for potential leaks.
  3. Test the engine oil – Check the dipstick and see if any oil needs to be added. Or, if the oil is old, it should be changed as soon as possible. A fresh change of oil will help keep the engine running smooth.
  4. Test other fluids – Other fluid levels, such as coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and fuel should be checked prior to taking the vehicle out on the road. It will help keep the vehicle from running rough.
  5. Check the battery – It is a good idea to put your battery on a maintainer to keep it fully charged during the winter months. If the battery isn’t fully charged, re-up its charge before you take the vehicle out for the first drive. Check to ensure the cables and terminals don’t have any corrosion.

Most important, contact Stapleton at 419-720-6446 to discuss adding liability coverage back on to the vehicle before taking it out for a drive!

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Why Personal Liability Policy’s Are Always a Good Idea

Personal Umbrella Liability Policy

We’d like to take this time in the New Year to discuss the importance of having a personal umbrella liability policy.

Lawsuits claiming high damages are becoming more common every day. You’ve probably read about them in the papers or heard about them from friends. An unfortunate incident or accident often leads to a large lawsuit. Even when you win, the defense costs alone can be substantial. The best way to protect your assets is with a personal umbrella liability policy.

Individuals whom own a home or other property, have financial assets in excess of their insurance liability limits, own a dog or other animals, or own a swimming pool to name a few, are prime targets for civil lawsuits. Here are a few examples of incidents which may lead to a lawsuit:

Example 1: An insured was driving their boat. An occupant on the boat was standing on the front of the boat while it was moving. The occupant fell in the water and sustained injuries as a result. The occupant has sued for limits above the watercraft liability policy.

Example 2: The insured’s dog jumped up at the neighbor, causing the neighbor to fall and injury their back. The neighbor sued for limits above the homeowners policy.

Example 3: The insured’s son was operating an ATV while two friends were riding on the back. While going down a dirt trail too fast, they hit a stump and crashed. The friends were severely injured and sued the insured for limits above the recreational vehicle liability limits.

A personal umbrella policy provides excess coverage above your basic homeowners’ personal liability, automobile liability and other liability policies of a personal nature. For example, if you have liability limits of $250,000 for your auto, a personal umbrella can provide an additional $1 million of protection. Higher limits are also available if needed. A personal umbrella may also provide coverage for certain occurrences not covered by the underlying policies. Although the actual coverage will vary depending on which insurance company you have, typical personal umbrellas provide insurance for:

• Incidents involving operation of most motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, and most watercraft.
• Incidents involving any property covered by your basic homeowners policy.
• Incidents involving slander, libel, defamation of character, invasion of privacy, or false arrest.
• Defense costs, even if you are found not liable.

Call Stapleton today at 419-720-6446 to discuss your needs in greater detail and let us help you find a solution.

 

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Winter Car Care Tips: Keep Your Vehicle in Peak Condition During Frigid Weather

Don’t let cold temperatures wreak havoc on your car.

Keep these five car-care tips in mind as the mercury plummets. You don’t want to be stranded by a dead battery or get into an accident because you can’t see out your windows. If you haven’t taken some of these preventive-care steps, do them as soon as you can so you’re prepared for the next big chill.

Keep the Battery in Good Shape

Your vehicle’s battery is especially hard hit when the mercury plummets. Cold temperatures reduce its cranking power. In fact, at about 0° F, a battery has only about half the cranking power it has at 80° F.  To check a conventional battery, remove the plastic caps on the top and check the fluid level. (See your owner’s manual.) If the fluid is low, add distilled water. On maintenance-free batteries, check that the window at the top of the battery indicates a fully charged state. If it’s more than five years old and shows signs of weakness, replace the battery with a top-rated model.

You  can have the battery professionally tested at a service station, auto parts store, or repair shop. A tired battery may just need to be charged. But if it’s defective or just worn out, it’s best to replace it before it goes completely dead. (Check our buying guide and ratings for car batteries. Worst case, be sure you know how to jump-start a car.)

Replace Wiper Blades

You have to replace wiper blades more often than you might think. Our tests have found that even the best-performing wiper blades start to lose their effectiveness in as little as six months. Streaks or missed expanses of glass are sure signs that the blades are ready for retirement.

While it’s possible to stretch their life by cleaning the rubber edge of the blade periodically with a paper towel and glass cleaner, it isn’t safe to do that all winter long. Instead, get yourself new blades. We recommend replacing wiper blades as often as twice per year. Most wiper blades are easy to install, and some stores, such as Advance Auto Parts, will perform the replacement work free of charge.

Clear the Windows

If you can’t see out the windows, you’re a danger to yourself and everyone around. Don’t try to use the wipers and those brand-new wiper blades to remove ice from the windshield. Instead, use an ice scraper on frosty mornings. If you park outside, place the wipers in the raised position when it’s going to snow overnight to keep them from freezing to the windshield.

With dirt, mud, and salt residue being kicked up off the road, it’s likely that you’ll be using your windshield washers a lot, so keep your windshield-washer reservoir filled with a winter-blend washer solution that contains an antifreeze agent.

Also make sure the heater is functioning properly and that plenty of warm air is being directed to the windshield when it’s in the defrost mode. To help prevent your windshield from fogging up, run the air-conditioning system (with the temperature set at a comfortable level) to dehumidify the air.

Finally, check that all the vehicle’s lights are working properly and that the lenses are clean, so that you’ll have optimum visibility at night and motorists front and rear will be able to see you.

Check the Oil

Cold weather can beat up your engine, too. Motor oil thickens when cold, making it harder for the engine to turn over. Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation. Generally, you should be using multi-viscosity oil that has a “W” in the viscosity index, signifying that it’s formulated for winter use. Typical formulas that are recommended for modern engines include 5W-20, 5W-30, and 10W-30, which provide good oil flow at low temperatures and can often be used year-round. Whenever you have the oil changed, replace the oil filter as well to ensure the system has the maximum amount of flow.

While the car is in the shop, have the radiator and heater hoses checked for cracks, leaks, or contamination from oil or grease. The hoses should be firm yet pliable when you squeeze them. Scrap them if they feel brittle or overly soft.

Try to keep your coolant mixture in a 50/50 ratio of antifreeze and water. This will keep your coolant from freezing until temperatures are well below zero. Colder conditions, however, can call for a 60/40 or 70/30 ratio. Under no circumstances should you use a higher antifreeze-to-water ratio than this.

Check out these 5 things to know about oil changes for your car.

Consider New Tires

Spinning out in the snow and ending up in a ditch isn’t the best way to discover your tires are worn out. So if you’ve been waiting to pick up a new set of tires, don’t delay as your safety depends on tire traction and winter-grade tires tend to be in short supply when the snow begins to fall. (Find out how winter/snow tires compare to all-season tires.)

If your area gets occasional snow, a new set of all-season tires should do the job. Look for a highly rated set that has performed well in our snow-traction and ice-braking tests. (Check our tire buying guide and Ratings.) Remember that it’s safest to replace all four tires at one time.

If you live where snow and ice are ever-present, consider buying dedicated winter tires mounted on inexpensive steel wheels. These have tread patterns and rubber compounds specially designed to grip snow and ice for optimum traction on slick roads. Winter tires typically have shorter tread life and generate more road noise than the all-season tires that your vehicle came with. But the extra safety they provide is generally worth the compromise.

Even if your tires are in good shape, make sure that you keep them properly inflated. Big drops in temperature mean your tires will lose air, because tire pressure declines with the thermometer.

Finally, keep a roadside emergency kit in the car.

 

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Protect Your Home From Fires

Fire prevention tips

The thought of a house fire is incredibly scary, but most home fires are quite preventable. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of home fires, that couldn’t be more accurate. Follow these 10 fire prevention tips to protect your family and your home.

1. Keep your kitchen safe.

The kitchen is the heart of every home. But did you know that kitchens are the most common place where fires begin? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires.
Follow these tips to keep your kitchen safe:
     *Make sure nothing flammable is near the stove, such as curtains, towels, cookbooks, etc.
     *Clean your stovetop and oven regularly.
     *Stay nearby when something is cooking on the stove or in the oven.
     *Turn pan and pot handles inward so that no one accidentally bumps them off the stove.
     *Keep your clothing away from the stove by wearing short-sleeved shirts or shirt sleeves that are close fitting and tightly rolled.
     *Regularly clean your toaster and toaster oven to remove crumbs.

2. Install and maintain smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms are only helpful if they’re working properly. Make sure your home has a smoke alarm in the kitchen, in every room with a heat source (such as a fireplace), and in each bedroom.
     *If someone in your home is hearing impaired, install smoke alarms with flashing lights.
     *Test smoke alarms monthly by pushing the “test” button.
     *Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year to keep them functional. It’s easy to set a reminder on your smartphone’s    calendar to help you remember. If your smoke alarm starts chirping, that means it’s time to replace the batteries immediately.
     *Replace the smoke alarms themselves every 10 years (the average lifespan of a smoke detector).

3. Place fire extinguishers in the appropriate areas.

You should always have a working fire extinguisher in your kitchen and in any room with a fireplace. Just remember to store the fire extinguisher in a place that’s far enough away from the potential fire source (stove, oven, fireplace, etc.), allowing you to easily access it if needed.

4. Inspect electrical cords, power strips, surge protectors and extension cords.

When it comes to these items, attention to detail is key:
     *Be on the lookout for things like frayed wires and melted plastic—sure signs that the item needs to be replaced immediately.
     *Make sure electrical cords aren’t trapped under rugs or furniture. Since electrical cords can produce heat, this is a fire risk.
     *Purchase trusted name brands and highly rated power strips and surge protectors.

5. Maintain your clothes dryer.

Here’s how to keep your dryer safe:
     *Empty the lint filter on your clothes dryer after each use.
     *Regularly check beside and behind your dryer to pick up any stray lint or clothing (such as those pesky missing socks!) that may have become trapped.
     *At least once a year, clean your external dryer vents to remove all lint and trapped debris (you may want to hire a professional for this task).

6. Use proper wattage with light bulbs.

Lamps and light fixtures should have stickers on them indicating the maximum light bulb wattage that’s safe to use. For example, if a lamp says 60-watt bulb maximum, it’s a potential fire hazard to use a 100-watt bulb on that lamp!

7. Use candles with caution.

Yes, candles make your home smell lovely and add beautiful ambiance, but they can be risky. Always stay nearby when a candle is burning, and make sure there aren’t any flammable items near the candle (like clothing, curtains or furniture).

8. Follow fireplace safety best practices.

According to the NFPA, home fires are more common between November to March when people spend more time inside and use heating equipment, such as fireplaces.  Here are some tips to keep your fireplace safe:
     *Never leave a fireplace unattended when it’s lit.
     *Install a metal fire screen and keep it pulled together to prevent any sparks from escaping.
     *Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving your home or going to bed. Never go to sleep with a fire going in the fireplace!
     *Allow ashes to cool off before cleaning them out of the fireplace.
     *Dispose of fireplace ash in a metal container that isn’t used for anything else.
     *Hire a professional to clean your chimney at least once a year to remove any materials that could cause a chimney fire. According to the NFPA, chimney fires are the most common type of heating fire. 

9. Grill with safety.

When you’re grilling on your back patio, deck or outdoor living space, make sure the grill isn’t too close to your home’s exterior walls or next to a wooden fence or deck railing. And never leave your grill unattended when you’re cooking.

10. Make sure you have the right insurance coverage.

If it’s been awhile since you reviewed your homeowners insurance, now is a good time to take a look and make sure you have the right amount of coverage on your home in the unfortunate event of a fire. Contact McGriff today for a personalized and consultative review. We’ll take a look at your options and find the right policy and insurance carrier to meet your needs.

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