Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Create A Winter Weather Prep Kit

It’s the time of year for icy winter weather.  And as your insurance agency, we'd like to share a few things to get you prepared before the winter storms hit!

First things first, you want to have the right supplies on hand. Create a basic emergency kit that includes a battery-powered radio and at least one week’s worth of food and safety supplies.  Also include:

• Drinking water
• Canned/no-cook food
• Blankets, hats and warm clothing
• Non-electric can opener
• Prescription medicine as needed
• First aid kit
• Bag of cat litter or sand to add traction on walkways
• Battery-powered lamps
• Carbon monoxide and smoke alarm in working order

And what about when bad weather hits? Here are a few things to put on your winter storm checklist:

• Leave water taps slightly open so they drip to prevent frozen pipes.
• Open kitchen cabinet doors under the sink to keep the pipes warm.
• Have an alternate heat source in case the power goes out. If it's a generator, make sure you have plenty of gasoline to keep it running. If it's the fireplace, make sure you have plenty of dry firewood handy.

The most important thing you can do?  Be prepared!  One benefit to winter storms is that you generally have plenty of warning that one is on the way. Don’t wait until the roads are icy and dangerous, get your supplies packed, your pipes protected, and a backup plan in case of a power outage.  If you can afford it, a generator can be well worth it if the power outage lasts for more than a few hours.

And make sure that you have great homeowners Insurance!  We can help with that.  Call us at 888-867-2866 for a free quote today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Protect Your Belongings This Holiday Season

The holiday season is in full swing!  For many of us that means shopping, gifting, decorating, partying, and traveling.  And a whole lot of it!

Insurance agents are always on the look-out for things that might put our clients at risk.  That’s why we wanted to share a few quick reminders this month to make sure you avoid any potential claim situations or holiday disasters.

Properly Care for Live Christmas Trees

Be careful with a live Christmas tree.  Real trees are beautiful but can be hazardous as they dry out.  Water your tree daily to keep the needles from drying out. To avoid a house fire, make sure to turn the tree lights off when you go to bed in the evening or when you leave home. It only takes a minute or two for a dry Christmas tree to turn into a roaring inferno!

Holiday Shopping Precautions

When you're going from store to store trying to find just the right gift for Aunt Martha, don’t leave the other gifts in plain sight on the seat your car! A lot of people don’t realize that items in their car are NOT covered by auto insurance. And, while property off premises is covered by home and renters insurance, it is typically subject to a much higher deductible.  If you must leave anything in the car, put it in the trunk and lock the doors. In addition, if you have a car alarm, use it!

Holiday Travel

Traveling out of town?  Don’t make it too obvious!  Leave lights on in the house, stop your mail and newspaper, and leave your number with a trustworthy neighbor who will keep an eye on your home. Burglars know this time of the year there is a treasure trove of gifts in most homes, and will strike if they know nobody's home.

Proof of Insurance

Make sure to keep an updated insurance card in your car when you travel.  Not only is it important to have if you get pulled over, but all the information you need is in one place if you ever have to make a claim.

Protect Valuable Gifts and Jewelry

Did you receive some special jewelry for Christmas?  Make sure to call us!  We’ll review all of your options to make sure it is properly covered and protected. 

And most important? Have a safe and joy-filled holiday.

Merry Christmas from all of us at SAV-ON Insurance!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Home Maintenance Tasks

Now that the holidays are upon us, there is a lot of time spent in the kitchen. There's Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to cook, cookies and pies to bake, and lots of holiday treats to make! All that cooking can put a strain on your appliances and cookware, so it's a good idea to keep them in good shape so they perform for you.

 Maintain Large Appliances 

Appliances are a big long-term investment!  That’s why it’s important to take good care of them all year long.

Get Your Furnace Tuned Up

After a summer and fall where the furnace doesn't need to work very hard, the sudden drop in temperatures means your furnace is working overtime keeping your home warm. If it has any maintenance issues, this is probably when it will decide to stop working. At the same time, furnace repair businesses are being overwhelmed by calls for service when this happens, so you might end up shivering in the house for quite a while before a service tech can get to you. In addition, if you have your furnace serviced before it 'gives up the ghost', it could end up being less costly. Not only do furnace repair firms charge a premium when the demand is high, but the furnace might cause additional damage as its parts breakdown and damage other parts of the appliance.

Check the Refrigerator

Your refrigerator is a great place to start.  Accumulating dust can make your fridge cooling system less efficient. To prevent trouble, regularly pull the fridge away from the wall and clean the condenser coils with a vacuum cleaner.  It’s also a good idea to dust and clean the front lower grill.  This five-minute task can add years of service to your refrigerator! Check around the refrigerator to make sure you're not leaking coolant. And make sure the doors close tight and the seals aren't cracked or loose. If refrigerated air is escaping it forces your refrigerator to continually run and wear out prematurely.

Clean The Oven & Stove Drip Pan

Next move on to your stove.  It’s another appliance that needs a good regular cleaning to keep it working well. After the holidays are over, it's a good time to clean the dried food that has spilled over onto the floor of the oven. Many ovens have a self cleaning feature that will do the hard work for you.

The only problem?  It can take a while to run the cleaning feature and it usually smells pretty bad while it’s running.  Save this task for a nice day and open up the windows to keep it well ventilated.  Check your stove manual for instructions  and take a few minutes to clean the burners, too. 

Have Problem Trees Trimmed

Cold, rainy weather has arrived. Have you noticed any large branches hanging over onto your roof?  Get them trimmed as soon as possible.  In the Northwest it's not unusual for the constant rain to mix with a cold front and cause a big ice storm. The ice clings to branches, weighing them down. This can cause the branches to break onto your roof or car, leading to more damage and insurance claims. 

Save on Home Insurance

Homeowners Insurance is an important part of protecting your home and belongings.  To make sure you have the best coverage, call SAV-ON today at 888-867-2866 for a free, no-obligation quote. And have a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What Are the Most Important Reasons for Having Insurance?

Thanksgiving has almost arrived. This is the time of year when we sit back and reflect on all the things that we are thankful for. What immediately comes to mind?

For most of us it’s things like our family, our home, and our good health. And guess what they have in common? All of these things are what insurance protects!

That’s why it is so important to us that our clients have excellent insurance coverage. It’s not just about having an ID card in your car so you don’t get a ticket or fulfilling your mortgage company’s minimum loan requirements. It's about family.

Insurance is there to make sure that if the worst happens, you or your family can recover from it. It might not be easy, but we’re here to ease the financial burden after your car is wrecked in an accident, your house burns down, or a loved one passes away.

All of those TV commercials that just tell you to find the cheapest rate are completely wrong! Cheapest isn't always the best. Of course, no one wants to pay more then they have to, but it’s not the most important part of the equation. When something goes wrong, you need local agents who will help you through this stressful time. Right away. Because they care.

Rather than looking for a cheap bare-bones policy that will do you no good if you need to use it, take the time to interview and meet with one of our friendly local agents. See who is looking for the best coverage and truly meeting your needs while keeping the rates affordable. When you're shopping around, ask about how they handle claims and if they do annual policy reviews. That's something we pride ourselves on!

This Thanksgiving, SAV-ON Insurance Agencies is extremely thankful for all of our wonderful clients. If you need a local agent to look out for your most prized possessions, or you just have an insurance question, we'd love to help.

Give us a call at 888-867-2866 for a free no-obligation quote.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fire Safety For Your Home During the Winter

It's still fall, but with winter arriving soon, now is the time to get your house and family safely protected against the cold winter temperatures. With more time spent indoors and the heater on there's a greater chance of a fire.  Below are some ideas for preventing fires and saving money, too.

Furnace Maintenance

Have your furnace inspected and serviced by a professional at least once a year. When the weather is the coldest -- and the furnace is being run the hardest -- is when it inevitably will decide to quit working! Then trying to get a repairman out for service is difficult, since the demand, and the cost, is the high. When you have a long wait in bone-chilling temperatures, you'll wish you had done this earlier.

Chimneys and Fireplaces

Have chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected. Built up creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires! Occasionally critters will make nests in a flue and end up blocking the flow of air up the chimney. In addition, make sure the damper is tight and working properly, so the expensive heated air isn't going up the chimney (along with your money!).

Check the condition of your fireplace screen. If it is in poor condition, sparks from a fire can jump onto furniture or carpeting and start a fire. Get a covered metal container ready to dispose of ashes, and keep it at least 10 feet from your home. Ashes can smolder for hours and ignite flammable materials near it. Never dump ashes into a paper bag or onto a newspaper for disposal.

Now is the time to stock up on dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood stove. Once the wind starts howling and the temperatures drop, it's more difficult to find and more expensive.

Fire safety is important. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and know how to use it. Go over fireplace rules and restrictions with your kids. It may look like fun, but they need to have a healthy respect for fire. You should never leave a young child alone near a fire for any reason!

Portable Heaters

If you use a portable heater for warmth, make sure the electrical cord is fully insulated and it has an automatic shut-off. Keep heaters at least three feet away form anything that can burn (like bedding). Never try to heat your home with a gas barbeque grill. The fumes it gives off are odorless and can sicken or even kill people! Even wood stoves need to be properly ventilated to the outside, or they can produce lethal gasses.

Finally, test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they're in good working condition. They are your first line of defense in the event of a problem, and can save you and your family's lives!

Follow these tips and your home will be safe this winter. If you're concerned about protecting your belongings, give us a call at 888-867-2866 to review you home insurance policy today!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Insurance: It's Protection for Your Finances, Your Family and Your Future

There are many aspects to successful financial plans.  Most include a family budget, emergency savings, retirement savings, and…insurance!

Let's review the important parts of your insurance financial plan:

Protect Your Stuff

This is what we think of first when it comes to insurance. Fixing your car after an accident and replacing your belongings after a fire. When you review your financial plan, you want to make sure that all of your valuable assets are protected here.  Cars, homes, high-priced jewelry or artwork, boats, motorcycles, RVs, ATVs, etc.  Protect it all and make sure that the deductible is reasonable and that you have full replacement cost coverage. (We would be happy to explain all the details. Just call us!) In the event something is damaged, lost or stolen, you will be extremely happy you took the time to do this.

Protect Your Money

Liability insurance is a misunderstood coverage, but it's extremely important. When you are held responsible for an accident, your assets and money are at risk!  What if your teenager caused an accident and you were sued?  What if you caused a major accident and didn't have enough liability coverage?  Adequate insurance can make sure this doesn't happen!

We look at how much you have to protect (total assets) and create a plan to cover it all. This may also involve an umbrella policy, which adds to the coverage you have, protecting your assets from a major claim against you that your regular insurance won't cover. It is only pennies a day, but is worth its weight in gold!

Protect Your Family 

You can protect all of your belongings, but the ultimate way to protect your family is with good life and disability insurance.  If something happens to you, you don't have to worry about your family being protected.  You can plan to pay off debt, pay for college, or anything else that is important to you.  But, don't put this off. The younger you are when you take out the policy, the lower the premiums. Call us today to get a free quote!

All of this might seem like a lot for think about, but it doesn't have to be.  With a great insurance agent, you can meet once a year and trust that all of these things are taken care of.  Why not take a few minutes to schedule an insurance financial planning review with one of our agents?  Call us at 888-867-2866 today! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Get Your Home Ready for a Cool, Rainy Fall

After a long, warm summer, the temperatures are beginning to drop in Western Washington. That means wet, rainy weather isn't far behind. Now is the time to get those home maintenance chores done before the rains begin.

Here are some simple tasks that you can perform now, before it gets too wet:

Check Gutters and Downspouts -  Take a few minutes to make sure your gutters are clear.  With rain and falling leaves, gutters and downspouts will be working overtime.  By making sure they’re clear now, you’ll avoid water damage later on. It's a good idea to remove your downspouts to make sure they're not blocked with debris. Even if your gutters are clear, a clogged downspout will cause rainwater to back up and spill down the side of your house. This can cause siding damage and wear away the ground along your foundation. By making sure everything is clear now, you'll save yourself a big bill later.

Clean The Dryer Vent - Lint accumulating in the dryer vent can cause a house fire.  A couple of times per year, unplug the dryer and thoroughly vacuum the area around the dryer vent and hose.  Remember to check the outside vent too! 

Gather Firewood - Will you be burning a wood stove or fireplace this winter?  Start gathering up firewood now and save yourself from the task when it’s cold outside. By harvesting wood when it's still dry, and storing in a dry area, the wood will be easier to light and you'll have less smoky fires this winter.

Get Ready For Autumn - Now is a great time to start planting some fall flowers.  Mums make a great addition to your front porch! 

Rid Your Home of Allergens - As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, people spend more time indoors. Many people suffer from allergies due to dust mites.  But there are ways to rid your home of the dust without spending all day cleaning. Look for where dust lurks. Use a damp cloth to clean all window blinds and fan blades once a month. If you have carpet, make it a priority to vacuum on a regular basis.  These things will get rid of dust and prevent allergies.

Save On Home Insurance - Homeowners Insurance is an important part of protecting your belongings.  To make sure you have the best coverage, call us at 888-867-2866 today for a free, no obligation quote.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Driver Safety Report: Seattle and Tacoma Drivers are Accident Prone and Getting Worse

An insurance company just released its 10th annual "America's Best Drivers Report", and it isn't good news for the Seattle/Tacoma area. Out of 200 top cities ranked for "safest driving city", Seattle ranked 173rd and Tacoma was only slightly better, coming in at 153rd.

Could it be all the hills in the city? San Francisco, a notoriously hilly city, came in 190th for safety and an even-worse 192nd in rainy or snowy conditions.

The safest cities to drive are Fort Collins, Colorado and Brownsville, Texas. Even in rain and snow conditions -- and Fort Collins gets plenty of it -- that city is ranked second for safest driving in the entire U.S.

In addition, Seattle drivers can expect to get in an accident once every 7.4 years, and the relative accident likelihood is a whopping 36% compared to the national average!

Tacoma drivers fare only slightly better, getting in an accident on an average of every 7.8 years, and having a 28.6% likelihood of getting in an accident compared to the national average.

Both Seattle and Tacoma have slipped in the safety rankings in the last couple of years, Seattle falling from 160th in 2013 to 173rd, and Tacoma from 144th to 153rd.

The report takes into account population, city density and weather conditions in its rankings. In fact, many of the cities in the top 20 are from Midwest, where heavy rain and snow is a factor much of the year.

The best advice for becoming a safer city in which to drive? Slow down, be alert at all times, and don't text or talk while on the road.

Make sure you're covered in the event you're involved in an accident, whether it's your fault or not. Call SAV-ON Insurance at 888-867-2866 for a free policy review. If you're one of the 36% that has an accident, you want to be adequately covered!

Source: Allstate's 2014 America's Best Drivers Report

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Back to School" Insurance

As August ends, it's time to start thinking about going back to school! What does that have to do with insurance? More than you think! Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Good Grades - Do you have a teenage driver in the house (or one soon to be)? Many policies allow discounted rates for students with good grades. Don't forget to talk to your kids about the importance of keeping those grades up! These discounts can apply to college students, too.

Driver Training - There are different discounts available for Drivers Education
classes. We can review all the options and let you know which discounts will impact you the most.

Moving To The Dorm - Is your college student living in a dorm this semester? Your homeowners insurance may cover their belongings without additional coverage being needed. This is called Property Off Premises coverage. Find out more by calling your friendly SAV-ON agent.

Remember, any claims are subject to your deductible, which is usually higher on home policies! Let us review your policy to check for the specific amounts of coverage included.

Moving To An Apartment - Let's say your college student has graduated from the dorms and moved on to an apartment of their own. In this case, your homeowners insurance would not cover their belongings and they would need their own renters insurance policy.

Renters Insurance is very affordable and covers all of the contents of the property. It also provides liability insurance if someone were injured in the property or if the student caused a fire, etc. By making sure they are properly insured, you are also protecting yourself.

Call SAV-ON Insurance Today. We're Here to Help!

We work hard to make sure all of our clients have the right coverage at all times. The fastest and easiest way to make sure your student is receiving all the discounts they qualify for and that their belongings are covered when they are in college is to schedule a review! Call  888-867-2866 to review your policy and situation and we'll make sure all of your questions are answered.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Insurance Claim Hassle? We're Here to Help!

Insurance claims can be a stressful process.  At SAV-ON, we've worked with many clients after car accidents, home fires, storm damage, and burglaries. Because it's about a loss or other horrible occurrence, insurance claims are tied to the most stressful events in our lives.

That's why it's extremely important that you work with an agent and a company that you trust.

After an insurance claim, you will work with an adjustor to evaluate your loss. Depending on the type of claim, they will examine the property and gather more information.  You will then be offered a settlement and the process will begin to restore your loss.

So what happens if things don't go smoothly at first?  Maybe you don't agree on the amount or can't get the right documentation?

That's where SAV-ON comes in.

Our job, as your agency, is to also be your advocate.  Our office goes to work to help you communicate with your adjustor if there is a problem.  That means that when you need help, we're there. With 50 years of experience, we know how to work with adjustors to get you a reasonable settlement.

Yes, sometimes you can get cheaper rates with unknown companies.  And you might enjoy being able to buy online without talking to an agent. If nothing ever happens, and you never have a claim, then you may save a few dollars.

But when it comes down to those stressful moments when something unfortunate has occurred and you aren't getting a fair shake from your insurance adjustor, it's great to have someone on your side.

If you live anywhere in Washington, call SAV-ON Insurance Agencies today at 888-867-2866 and let us help you get the insurance you need, at a great price. And, should you ever need to make a claim, you will be able to count on us to help you through it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Insurance Tips When Planning Your Vacation

It’s getting warmer, schools are out, and everyone has summer vacation on the brain!  But, before you load up the car and head out, here are a few insurance tips before you take off.

First, contact the post office and put a hold on your mail.  You can do the same for your newspaper service, too. These are often big indicators that a homeowner is out of town and will be a target for thieves.  This is an easy way to help keep your home protected while you're away! 

Consider putting a few lights in your home on a timer to further give the illusion that someone is home.  Outdoor security lights are also a great option.

Do you have a neighbor who you trust?  Let them know of your plans, share your emergency contact number, and consider leaving a spare key just in case.

Imagine that a big thunderstorm hits while you’re out of town.  It knocks out power or even causes a tree in your yard to fall.  Your neighbor can make sure that your freezer is back on when the power is restored, or verify that there aren’t any leaks in the roof from the storm damage!  This can help prevent unhappy surprises when you get home.

What about once you’re on the road?

The biggest tip we share with our clients is to avoid leaving valuables in the car! 

Many people believe that their belongings are covered by car insurance, but that is not the case.  The only coverage for your luggage, computer, etc. would be on your homeowners insurance, and it’s subject to your deductible! So, if you can't take it with you when you leave the car, the best idea is to hide the items in a trunk, or at least park in a well-lit area that has foot traffic all the time. A thief wants to have as easy a time as possible. No witnesses, no lighting to call attention to his crime. If he can see it,  he can easily get in and steal it.

Have questions about your Homeowners Insurance?  Give SAV-ON a call anytime at 888-867-2866 to discuss your policy or to get a quote!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Buying a Home? Let Us Handle the Homeowners Insurance for You!

Many people begin house hunting during the spring and summer months.  And while you may know all the basics for getting a mortgage and finding the perfect house, many people have no clue where to begin when looking for good, low-cost homeowners insurance.

That’s where SAV-ON Insurance comes in! 

Home buying is a long and sometimes stressful process, but getting the proper insurance doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to make it incredibly simple: When you find the right home and have an accepted offer, let your lender know that SAV-ON Insurance will be handling your homeowners insurance. 

They’ll typically send us the loan information, but you can speed up the process by calling us and letting one of our friendly agents know all the important details.  We’ll need to know things like what year the home was built, how many square feet it is, what construction materials were used, and other items like that.

Then we’ll contact your lender to determine the closing date and the mortgagee clause.  (You don’t need to worry about and of this. Just let us know who is taking care of your loan and we’ll handle all the details.)

We’ll fax all of the insurance documents to your lender before the closing date and you’ll be ready to go when the house closes! 

To save a little extra on your home policy, let us know about any security systems or if you’d like to quote your auto insurance at the same time. Having more than one policy with us qualifies you for big multi-policy discounts!

Home buying can be stressful, the insurance side is really simple with the right communication and team.  Call us at 888-867-2866 today to discuss your new home.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

Whether it’s the recent landslides we’ve experienced in the Northwest, the tornados that ripped through the Midwest, or the wildfires that are raging in Southern California, it seems like Mother Nature is behaving at her worst these days.

Are you prepared in the event a natural disaster strikes where you live? There are a number of things you can do to prepare, so that you can make the best of a bad situation and get the help needed to start the recovery.

Inventory Your Belongings

Take a full inventory of all personal belongings. This will help the claims process go more smoothly if they are damaged in a natural disaster. Making a video of your home and garage will give you visual evidence during the claims process. Remember to put this inventory in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box so it doesn’t get destroyed should disaster strike!

Use Technology

The American Red Cross offers free disaster safety apps for mobile phones that help homeowners prepare for a natural disaster, stay up-to-date on the latest wildfire news and find a shelter in their area, should they need to evacuate.

Put a Supply Kit Together

Encourage customers to put together a basic supply kit for wildfires and other natural disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a list of recommended items on its website, plus tips on maintaining the kit, where to store it and more.

Safeguard Your Home

Protect your property with tips from FEMA or The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, including how to create defensible space, protect patios and decks, and more.

If you’re in an area susceptible to wildfires, tornadoes, floods or landslides, you can take steps to protect your property and your family. Check out www.ready.gov for tips on how to prepare, survive and get emergency assistance in the event a natural strikes.

Make Sure You've Covered

Having an effective insurance plan that can help you replace and rebuild after being the victim of a natural disaster is extremely important. Standard homeowners insurance will not cover many natural disasters, so if you’re in an earthquake zone, near a landslide-prone hill or a low-lying area near a body of water, call SAV-ON Insurance and make sure you’re covered should they occur. It’s protection you can’t afford to pass up!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Summer is Coming! Make Sure Your Boats, RVs and Cycles are Ready and Properly Insured

Before we know it there will be Memorial Day barbecues and weekends at the lake or park.  Time to get the boat, RV or motorcycle out of storage and ready for action!

That's why now it's also a great time to review extra insurance coverage on all of your summer ‘toys’.  Read below for things to consider and review with your insurance agent before the big items come out of winter storage.

RV insurance
RV - Your motorhome or travel trailer needs insurance coverage, especially if you'll be driving or pulling it this year.  Even if you don't have a loan on your RV, you will want it covered for theft or damage.  Whether they are parked on a lake lot for the season or driving across the country, SAV-ON offers several RV policies to fit your needs.  Just call us for a quote: 888-867-2866.

boat insurance
Boat - The same thing goes for your boats and jet skis.  You've made a big investment and it's important to protect them.  Not only should you worry about damage to your boat, but also make sure you have the proper amount of liability coverage.  Don’t forget your life jackets!

In addition,Washington state requires that you also will take and pass a Boater Education Course before you can legally get out on the water in your boat or personal watercraft. If you're 59 years of age or younger, you must pass the online test and receive a Boater Education Card.  The one-time fee for the boater's card is $39.95. Visit the state's website to get started: http://www.boaterexam.com/usa/washington/?gclid=CJXZgrO6n74CFcOBfgod7YIAPA

- Ready to hit the road for a long drive?  Remember to brush up on your safety skills and always wear a helmet.  Don’t forget to make sure your motorcycle has liability coverage just like your vehicle!  We can help you determine what coverage you need. 

Motorcycle insurance
Swimming Pool - If you own a pool, then you need extra liability coverage including a personal umbrella policy.  Why?  Because there is a lot more risk of someone being injured when you have a pool.  Don’t skimp on your coverage and make sure you have the pool area secured and safe. 

Summer is a lot more fun when you know that your high-priced recreational vehicles are properly insured and protected.  It only takes a few minutes to call us for a quote or to review your current coverage.  Call SAV-ON Insurance at 888-867-2866 today and be prepared for summer fun! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Heartbleed Virus – And How It Will Affect You!

The latest virus, called ‘Heartbleed’, is making headlines around the world due to its impact. While other viruses targeted certain operating systems or email programs, this nasty bug affects not only emails, but everything on the Internet: apps, hardware and websites. Nothing seems to be immune from its reach, including antivirus software. Even some versions of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus software were impacted.

To give you some idea of its pervasive nature, by mid-April there were still 150 million vulnerable apps running on Android smartphones, according to cybersecurity provider FireEye. And that’s just one manufacturer of one device. It is non-discriminatory, affecting all makes and models.

“The fallout from this is likely to continue for weeks and months to come,” said Tom Brennan, a computer security expert who developed a free add-on to the Firefox web browser that detects if a website is at risk.

For you to be safe from Heartbleed, you need to know that everything you use to connect online needs to be updated: smartphone apps, Wi-Fi routers, office servers, websites you visit, etc.

There are some important steps you can take to minimize the threat: Update all your passwords often, and update your software to the latest version. And don’t trust any app, device, computer or website until the security experts specifically say they’ve fixed the problem.

This isn’t your grandmother’s computer virus, either. Heartbleed doesn’t get automatically deleted by your computer’s antivirus program like previous viruses. This one exploits a flaw in the software devices use to talk to one another and, because they’re all interconnected, it only takes one weak spot to allow hackers to find their way in and create a huge problem – with your financial accounts and credit cards.

For more information, and to watch a video regarding Heartbleed, go here.

Be Proactive: Check Your Credit Score

Of course, this means that even though you change all your passwords, update your software and download patches for your router or server, your accounts may still have been exposed to hackers, and your credit affected. That’s why it’s important to check it in the next couple of months, to see if it has been affected.

Your credit score is important in many ways.  It allows you to purchase a home, buy a car, and can even be a factor in getting the best insurance rates. 

Here are 3 ways to help protect your score:

1.  Order an updated credit report each year for you and your spouse.  Many people don’t realize that there may be mistakes on their credit report that lowers their score!  In fact, a recent study showed that 79% of credit reports contain some kind of error!  Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to request a free copy annually from each of the three major credit bureaus.

2.  Avoid excessive credit inquiries.  Only run your credit report when you are ready to apply for credit and make a purchase.  Consistent and ongoing inquiries can lower your score because the bureaus assume that you will be taking on more debt.

3.  Long history counts!  The best scores have many years of positive credit history.  That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your unused accounts open rather than closing them.  They continue to show positive long-term history and help your score even if you’re not using those credit cards on a regular basis.

If you should discover an recent problem with your credit score, and fear it was caused by Heartbleed, notify your financial institution immediately. Most banks and credit unions have fraud control procedures, and can put a freeze on the accounts affected, so you won’t be liable for the full amount. It will also stop the thieves from stealing more.

This is a problem that won’t be going away soon, either. Bryan Harris, a researcher at analytics software maker SAS, called it "a systemic issue" with a long, uphill road ahead.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April Home Maintenance Tasks

April has arrived in Western Washington, and brought spring with it (finally!). There is no better time than now to get focused on home maintenance and spring cleaning. Here are a few things you can do in April to protect (and organize) your home. 

Check For Damage - Winter can be really hard on your home. A quick inspection around your property can reveal a lot of home improvement projects! Look for any damage to your roof or outdoor window screens and doors. Make note of chipped paint or areas that are in need of general maintenance. With all the rain we've had this year, some of that rain may have seeped into your siding and started to cause warping or even dry rot! It's best to remedy the situation now, before it gets worse -- and very expensive. Decide what you can do yourself and what will require a professional. 

Spring Clean - It's also time to tackle the inside of your home. Start working on clearing out and donating unused items (think tax deduction next year!). This could be the perfect time to take inventory of any high-value items that need to be documented for your insurance, like guns, artwork, and jewelry.  It's a good idea to take photos or make a quick video of those items and store it in a secure (and fire-proof) location. If something should happen, this will  be of great value when making your claim.

Organize Your Tax Documents - You probably just finished your taxes in the past few weeks.  Were all of your documents easy to locate?  What could make the process even easier next year? Update your filing system or schedule a meeting with your accountant and get prepared now.

Car Maintenance - April is Car Care Month.  If you’ve been putting off an oil change or a tune-up, get it scheduled now.  Summer usually means vacations and more driving outings. Your car will run better, use less gas and maintain it’s value longer!

Spruce Up Your Front Entryway
- How does your front porch look these days?  Could it use a little extra care?  Buy a new welcome mat, plant a pot of flowers, and make sure you can easily read your house numbers. 

Get Great Homeowners Insurance - The best way to protect your home?  Having the right amount of insurance!  Let us give you a no-obligation review of your current policy.  Call 888-867-2866 to schedule your appointment today.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Protect Your Property From Landslides and Other Natural Disasters

This massive landslide destroyed an entire neighborhood.
We’ve all been following the tragedy that happened Saturday, March 22 in Oso, Snohomish County, Wash., where a huge landslide broke loose and buried an entire neighborhood, rerouting a larger river in the process. 90 people are dead and more than 100 are still missing.

Then, on Wednesday, March 26, another big landslide struck Whidbey Island, taking one home with it and leaving 33 more perched precariously on the edge. Although no one died in this slide, many homes were evacuated and there’s still the danger of more landslides in the area. Many of the homes will not be inhabitable after this, since they are perched on the edge of an unstable cliff now.

This slide took one home and left 33 others in danger.
All this tragedy is a painful reminder that the Northwest is an area prone to landslides, especially when heavy rainfall seeps into a hillside and softens the earth into a muddy fill. Gravity takes over and the result is a massive movement of earth that takes down everything in its path.

If you are a homeowner, you need to be aware that typical homeowner policies do not cover damage done by land movement or landslides due to:

• Rain runoff
• Snow melt
• Flooding
• Earthquakes

Companies do not include landslides in the standard home policy because if they did, they would be requiring people who have chosen to live in safer areas to subsidize those who live in riskier places, said Karl Newman, president of the Northwest Insurance Council in Seattle.

Homeowners need to consider buying additional insurance to protect their property from possible damage caused by these forces of nature.  The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner encourages owners to look at these various options:

Landslide Insurance ('Difference in Condition' Policy)

The 'Difference in Condition' policy covers landslides, mudflows, earthquakes and floods.

Content coverage - Buy a special rider for your homeowner policy that includes coverage for the contents of your home from all earth-movement perils. This rider only covers contents, not the structure. Some insurance companies may not offer this option, so you may need to shop around.

Separate earth-movement coverage - Buy this coverage that includes structures, such as your house or any other unattached buildings on your property. Your agent or broker may be able to get you this coverage in the surplus lines market. These are companies that insure risks the industry traditionally doesn't insure. Note: If your home is on a hillside, this coverage may be difficult to obtain.

Flood Insurance

Typical homeowner policies do not cover flood damage, so you must buy flood insurance coverage separately. Flood insurance may apply to some kinds of earth movement, such as water-related erosion, mudflows, and flash floods.

Earthquake insurance

You also must buy earthquake insurance separately, either as an additional policy or as an endorsement to your regular homeowner policy.

If you're concerned about your property, but don't know if you need to get additional coverage? Call your SAV-ON agent and find out what, if any, coverage you need to be protected. Remember that this coverage typically requires a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins, so call us today! 888-867-2866.

Source: Office of the Washington State Commissioner of Insurance
Photos courtesy of CNN, The Chicago Tribune

Friday, March 7, 2014

Auto Insurance: What is Rental Reimbursement?

Rental reimbursement is an important part of your auto insurance coverage.  Let’s discuss what it is and why you need it!

When you suffer an auto insurance claim, it’s not uncommon for your vehicle to need to go to the shop for a few days for repairs.  Even minor scratches or dings can require you to be without a vehicle for an extended period of time.

If you have multiple cars this is probably a mild inconvenience.  But if you only have one vehicle or limited access to others, then it could be a major problem.

Think about this...

If you were without a car for a week, how would you get to work?

How would you get the kids to school?

If you use public transportation to commute, what about going to the grocery store or the kid’s soccer practice?

If any of these things would be a major problem, then you need Rental Reimbursement!  This coverage pays for your rental car while your car is in the shop due to a covered claim.

When you look at your policy, you’ll see rental coverage listed as a “per day” coverage.  It might be $50 per day, or $25 per day.  That amount is how much the insurance company will pay for that rental car, simple as that!

If you have a lower amount, but need a larger vehicle, then you’ll be responsible for the additional cost.  Let’s say you need a minivan to drive your 4 kids around, but only get enough Rental Reimbursement to cover a tiny economy car.  That additional per-day cost will fall on your shoulders, so make sure your policy is adequate before you end up needing it, or you'll have some unpleasant out-of-pocket expenses!

This is what SAV-ON Insurance is here for.  We’ll look at your individual situation, ask these questions, and recommend the right amount of coverage to make your life easy when those inconvenient situations occur.

Call SAV-ON today at 888-867-2866 to discuss your auto Insurance coverage.  If you’re a current client, we’ll be happy to review your policy and let you know how much rental reimbursement coverage you currently have.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Life Insurance Is For Those You Love

A lot of people put off purchasing life insurance because it seems like a hassle. You don’t want to do any sort of medical appointment. It’s an extra expense. And, for the most part, you just plain don’t want to think about death.

But life insurance isn’t about you. It’s about the people you love. And what better time than February to think about love!

So let’s get real. You do a lot for your family and if you have family members who depend on your income, then you need life insurance

The Sooner the Better

For one, life insurance is cheaper when you are young and healthy! With each birthday you’ll see your premium go up unless you lock in a great rate now. And you don’t want to look for life insurance after you’ve been diagnosed with an illness. So, the best time is right now!

Another great thing about life insurance is that there are a lot of options. And we’re here to discuss all of them with you. You can purchase a policy for the short term or even as a long-term investment. It all depends on how much you can afford to spend and what your family needs are. 

Whatever your situation, sitting down and discussing your needs and budget with an agent is a great first step. We'd love to help you better understand how life insurance will help your family in the event you're no longer around to support them.

Call SAV-ON today at 888-867-2866 or visit our website, www.sav-on.com,  to set up a free, no-obligation appointment!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February Home Maintenance Tasks

During 2014, we’ll be sharing a short list of tasks that you can do to help take care of your home, vehicle, and family. Consider them a helpful reminder of what needs to get accomplished throughout the month to keep your important items protected.

Purchase A Fire Extinguisher
If you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, now is the time to get at least one. Plan a family meeting and teach everyone in the household when and how to use it. Easy way to prevent a small kitchen fire from getting out of hand.

Schedule High-Value Jewelry On Your Insurance Policy
Did your Valentine surprise you with a new piece of jewelry? Make sure it’s covered! While your Homeowners or Renters policy will cover jewelry, there are some limitations. Get an appraisal and bring it in so we can discuss the best course of action for your piece. (This also applies to artwork, guns, and other collectibles or antiques.)

Seal Up Drafty Windows - Feel cool air blowing in around windows or doors? Seal them up now! You’ll be glad you did when those summer air conditioning bills arrive.

Newlywed Insurance Review - Did you get married this month? Call us to schedule a newlywed insurance review! We’ll look at your individual policies and discuss how best to combine them for your new household.

Show The Love! - There is no better way to show your family how much you love them, then with the proper amount of life insurance! We can give you a quote on an affordable term policy and help you get this important coverage in place quickly. [Insert any benefits here like no medical exam or a special rate.]

We LOVE our clients! Let us know if we can assist you in any way with your auto, home, business, or life insurance. Call SAV-ON Insurance Agencies at 888-867-2866 or visit us online at www.sav-on.com.

We'd be happy to review your policy to make sure you're adequately covered and to see if we can save you some money, too!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Home Maintenance to Tackle in the New Year

We've compiled a short list of tasks that you can do to help care for your home, vehicle and family.  Consider them helpful reminders of what needs to get accomplished throughout the month to keep your important items protected.

Make A Home Inventory - January is all about getting organized, right?  So what better time to document what you own in case you were to suffer a serious insurance loss (like a fire).  Grab your cell phone and make a short video of each room in your home, focusing on big ticket items.  Many times, it’s difficult for our clients to remember every little possession after the shock of a large claim.  You’ll be glad you took the time to make the videos if you ever need them.

Deep Clean Your Dryer Vent - A large percentage of home fires begin in the clothes dryer!  Lint builds up in the vent and hose which can spark a fire.  Unhook the hose and vacuum the area well on a regular basis to keep your home protected.

Organize Your Warranties - Do you have a big pile of warranties, product documents, and receipts stuffed in your desk drawer?  Do you even own those items anymore? These days, many owners manuals can be found online without taking up valuable drawer storage.  Also consider scanning and keeping a digital file of your receipts and warranties for easy storage and retrieval if needed.

Check Your Circuit Breakers - How often do you actually look in the breaker box? Open it up and make sure the labels are correct and readable. If you are trying to isolate a certain area of the home, it will be extremely frustrating if you're trying to figure out which breaker is the correct one. Also, it's a good idea to stash a spare flashlight (with working batteries) close by in case of a power outage. Finally, make sure that all breaker switches are clicked all the way on. A "tripped" circuit breaker will mean a loss of power somewhere in your home or garage. If it's a refrigerator, that means a bunch of spoiled food that you will need to throw out

Gather Your Tax Documents - It won’t be long until you’re filing your 2013 taxes. Start gathering up all the documents you or your accountant will need. Need a copy of your insurance policies or premiums?  Call us at 888-867-2866 and we’ll be happy to help! 

Know Your Deductibles - When was the last time you reviewed your deductibles?  This is what you would pay out-of-pocket in the event of an insurance claim. It’s a good idea to keep this amount in your savings account so it’s available when you need it. Feel free to give us a call to review all of your insurance policies in detail.

January is a great time to get organized for the new year! Let SAV-ON Insurance Agencies know if we can help in any way!