240-644-6000
Servicing DC, MD & VA

Know Your Insurance

February 2nd, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Life Events that Affect Your Insurance Needs

As we age and reach different milestones in our lives, our insurance needs change. In order to ensure adequate coverage, contact your insurance broker if you’re affected by any of the following life events:

  • New home ownership— Purchasing a new home is a big investment—one that you will want to protect. After purchasing a home, ensure that you have homeowners insurance to protect against things like fire, weather damage, theft, vandalism and accidental damage. This advice also holds true if you are buying a new condo or vacation home.
     
  • Home renovations—Once you own a home, you may want to make updates to create a better living space. Be sure to report major home improvements to your insurance company to protect any increased value to your home.
     
  • New children—Having or adopting children is not only a huge life change, but it’s also a major financial commitment. As such, it’s important to purchase the right policy to secure your child’s future. Add your child as a beneficiary on any life insurance policies, and make sure your coverage is sufficient.
     
  • Teenage drivers— Teen drivers often carry the highest risk of auto accidents. While you want your teen driver to remain safe on the road, costly accidents can happen without warning. Consider adding your teen driver to your auto policy, as it is generally cheaper than purchasing a separate policy.
     
  • Retirement—When you retire, you may change residences. If you have more than one home, this is a good time to let your insurance provider know where you plan to spend your time.
     
  • Valuable purchases—A standard homeowners policy has limited coverage for highly valuable items. Supplement purchases and gifts that exceed the policy’s limits with a floater—a separate policy that provides additional insurance.
     
  • Marriage—When your marital status changes, so do your insurance needs. Marriage typically leads to the combination of households, vehicles and other property, so it is critical to update your insurance policies accordingly. What’s more, life insurance is vital to married couples as it can ease the financial burden in the event of an untimely death of a partner. Ask about discounts on car insurance for married policyholders.
     
  • Purchasing or selling a business—If you’re an entrepreneur, there will likely come a time when you will either buy or sell your business. During these times of major change, the proper coverage is crucial.

Insurance is critical for nearly every stage of life. Seeking coverage should be an active process, and individuals shouldn’t assume their insurance needs remain steady over time. Consider contacting your broker today to better understand your insurance and future needs.

Good Student Discount

February 2nd, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Specialty Drug Benefits Overview

July 6th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Specialty drugs (or specialty pharmaceuticals) are the most expensive prescriptions you can buy—around $1,000 or more per month. Unfortunately, they are also the only option for many people who have complex, and otherwise untreatable, conditions.

What are Specialty Drugs?

Specialty drugs are expensive prescription medications that are used to treat chronic, complex conditions. Individuals suffering through cancer, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis might be prescribed a specialty drug.

Special handling—like refrigeration and supervised injections—is often required for these medications, contributing to the high costs. Patients who need a specialty drug are usually monitored before and after it is administered to check for side effects and treatment progress.

Are Specialty Drugs Covered?

Whether a specialty drug is covered depends on your benefits plan. A

specialty drug could be covered under medical or prescription drug insurance. How the drug is administered often determines which benefit covers the medication. For instance, self-injections at home might place it under prescription drug insurance, whereas supervised injections in a clinic might place it under medical insurance.

What Do I Pay?

Specialty drug costs are steadily rising and projected to reach around $400 billion by 2020, according to UnitedHealth Group. In 2016, the United States spent about $121 billion on specialty drugs. Similarly, specialty drug spending is predicted to surpass traditional pharmacy spending by 2018, according to the National Business Group on Health (NBGH).

Specialty drug costs are steadily rising and projected to reach around $400 billion by 2020.

Due to the high costs of these prescriptions, many benefit plans include a separate tier for specialty drugs. The tier specifies how much an individual must pay for the specialty medication. For instance, the specialty drug tier would differ from what you pay for normal prescriptions. Your plan will determine if you pay a flat copay or a percentage of the specialty drug costs.

Where Can I Find Help?

Your doctor is the first person you should speak with regarding lower specialty drug costs. It is possible there are more affordable alternatives to your prescription or there is an option that would treat multiple conditions.

If you have any questions about your specialty prescriptions being covered under your benefits plan, please speak with HR to review your options.

Antique & Classic Car Insurance

June 2nd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Since you have purchased a classic or antique vehicle, you’ll want to insure it properly, as it is an investment.

Coverage Inclusions

A typical classic car insurance policy includes the following:

  • Agreed value coverage: Pays for the car’s full-insured value with no depreciation in the event of a total loss, less your deductible.
     
  • Inflation guard: To compensate for how classic cars increase in value over time, the policy increases the vehicle’s value quarterly.
     
  • Spare parts coverage
     
  • Flexible usage: Ability to drive the vehicle up to 2,500 or 5,000 miles annually. Not limited to “parades only.”
 

Since classic and antique vehicles are all so different, your insurance coverage will be specific to your vehicle and how often you plan to use it. There are many considerations which you and Hodge, Hart & Schleifer will discuss while creating a policy to suit your classic car.

Additional Coverage Options

You can also purchase these additional coverage options for more specific protection:

  • Emergency towing in case of a breakdown.
     
  • Roadside assistance for items such as a flat tire, dead battery or running out of gas.
     
  • Emergency lockout
     
  • Lost key return
     
  • Emergency travel expenses in case your classic vehicle breaks down while away from home.
     
  • Car show expenses: Policy will pay for expenses associated with missing a car show due to a breakdown.
     
  • Theft reward
     
  • Personal effects: Policy will reimburse you for items that are vandalized or stolen when reported to police.

Live in the past while protecting your vehicle for the future! Contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer today at 240-644-6000 to learn more about all of our insurance solutions for your automobile needs.

Market vs. Reconstruction Value

June 1st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Ensure that your homeowners policy limits correspond to the cost to rebuild in case of a natural disaster, whether it is a wildfire, hurricane or flood. Unlike a home’s resale value (which includes the cost of the land), the cost to rebuild is based on the amount needed to hire a contractor plus building materials and other additional costs.

Purchase Adequate Coverage

You decide how much coverage to buy for your home, but Hodge, Hart & Schleifer recommends purchasing coverage at least equal to the estimated cost of rebuilding your home.

How Does this Differ from Market Value?

The market value of your home is the amount a buyer would pay for your home, including the land, no matter how much rebuilding would cost.

What is Replacement Cost?

Replacement cost is the rebuilding cost necessary to repair or replace the entire home, including construction costs. This cost is different than the following:

  • The market value
  • The purchase price or the cost of the land
  • The amount owed on a mortgage

How do I Know Replacement Cost?

Get an estimate of the replacement cost of your home from a reputable builder. Hodge, Hart & Schleifer can help.

Home Improvements

When making a major change, let us know specifics. For example, if you’re replacing a standard bathtub with a whirlpool tub, or if your new countertops are made of marble, your home improvements could add enough value to your home to justify reexamining your coverage limits.

We’re Here to Help

Have other questions or doubts? Hodge, Hart & Schleifer is ready to assist you in the process of determining the value of your home and purchasing the right coverage to protect your investment.

Purchasing Medications Online

June 1st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Sudent -Driver Away Discount

February 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Student-Driver Away Discount – Do You Qualify?

Student-Driver Away Discounts help you save while they learn

shutterstock_84343456Your child is away at school for the year and not using the family car regularly, so you may think it’s time to drop them from your auto insurance policy. That is certainly an option when your child leaves home, but the student-driver away discounts can be a better fit for your family than taking your child off the plan entirely.

Let’s see if you qualify for student-driver away discounts, why the discount is worth it and how much you’ll save.

Who Is a Student-Driver Away Discount For?

Most auto insurance carriers consider you eligible for a student-driver away discount if your child attends boarding school or college at least 100 miles from home and does not have regular access to a vehicle. Some may also require the student to be under 23 years of age.

Why You Should Get a Student-Driver Away Discount

While it sounds tempting to remove your child from your auto insurance plan while they are at school, there are significant reasons to consider the student-driver away discount instead:

  • Driving During Breaks: Your child will likely come home from school to visit, and while they’re back, they might borrow the family car. Having your child on your policy means they are automatically covered in the unlikely event of a car accident.
  • Financial Responsibility: If you still declare your child as a dependent, then you assume financial responsibility for them. This means that, legally, you are their financial provider, no matter how much pocket money they have on the side. This is important because if your uninsured child drives a vehicle and gets into an accident, you are financially responsible for that accident, even though you weren’t involved. Medical and legal costs can be substantially more than paying for a student-driver away discount.
  • Better Future Rates: Auto insurance companies often give discounts to new clients who were previously dependents on their parents’ policy. Other carriers sometimes charge new clients a higher fee for joining as a young driver without that experience. Keeping your student on your auto insurance plan now can give them a foot up later.

How Can You Validate Your Child for a Student-Driver Away Discount?

Most auto insurance carriers will require verification that your child is at school. Providing your carrier with the correct validation for a student-driver away discount can be very easy. Here are some common ways to prove eligibility:

  • School Address: Providing the address of your child’s boarding school or college to your insurance agent is usually enough verification for some carriers.
  • Current Class Schedule: Providing your child’s class schedule shows that your student is currently enrolled in school.

How Much Money Will You Save?

Student-driver away discount rates can depend on which carrier you have. In most cases, you will save between 10 percent and 30 percent on your auto insurance. Though it might seem like a hassle to keep your child on your policy when they do not drive frequently, it may be smart over the long run.

Secure Your Student-Driver Away Discount Today

With a student-driver away discount, you won’t break the bank, and you’ll help your child start on the path to their own insurance policy one day. As your independent auto insurance agent, we take it upon ourselves to make sure that you and your family can drive safely with the peace of mind that you’re getting the best rates possible. Contact us today to find out if you qualify for a student-driver away discount, as well as other auto insurance discounts.

Source: Sudent -Driver Away Discount – Do You Qualify?

Protecting Your Home from Fire

February 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Protecting Your Home from Fire While It’s Under Construction

Building or remodeling a home is an exciting time filled with many decisions. A consideration often overlooked is the importance of fire protection during this time when your home is most susceptible to fire due to construction-related activities.

Luckily there are a number of simple and cost-effective solutions that will significantly reduce the threat fire poses to your home:

  • Install and activate a temporary fire and burglar alarm system reporting to a central station once the home is fully enclosed with roof, doors and windows. Because smoke detectors are susceptible to false activation from construction dust, heat sensors are better suited for temporary fire detection. If permanent power is not yet available, a temporary power source can be used. Cellular communication to the alarm monitoring station will suffice if an active phone line is not yet available.
  • Fire extinguishers should be kept in highly visible locations throughout the jobsite. Multi-purpose extinguishers (Type ABC) of at least 10 lbs. are recommended.
  • Because of the increased threat of arson and vandalism while your home is unoccupied, security fencing should be installed and kept locked on weekends and non-working hours. Motion-activated lighting, video surveillance systems and security guards are additional options that will substantially reduce the risk of unwanted visitors or trespass.
  • no smoking signSmoking should be prohibited with no-smoking signs posted in visible locations throughout the jobsite.
  • Flammable liquids like paints, varnishes and solvents should be stored in an approved flammable storage cabinet. The cabinet should be locked during non-working hours.
  • Oily rags should be disposed of in U.L.-approved fireproof cans due to the risk of spontaneous combustion.
  • Because many commonly used construction materials are highly combustible, the jobsite should be thoroughly cleaned and all extension cords should be disconnected at the end of each work day.
  • If your home is in an area susceptible to wildfire or not serviced by a public fire hydrant, advanced planning should be made with your nearest responding fire department regarding defensible space from flammable vegetation requirements, adequate turn around space for fire crews and equipment, and installation of and/or use of alternative water sources.

It is important to discuss these loss prevention measures with your general contractor before construction begins. These established protocols will help keep your home safe during this critically important time.

It’s Raining Lawsuits

July 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

Do You Need An Umbrella Policy?

shutterstock_222746809It’s impossible to predict whether you might lose a lawsuit resulting from a car accident or an accident on your property. Nor is it possible to predict the amount that might be awarded to the winning party, an amount that you would be responsible for paying. To protect yourself against the possibility of devastating financial loss from these unforeseen events, you may want to purchase anumbrella policy.

What Is an Umbrella Policy?
An umbrella policy protects your existing personal assets and future personal assets (like wages, your inheritance or that lottery you’re planning to win) against the cost of losing a lawsuit over a car accident or an accident on your property. If you were to lose such a lawsuit, you would likely have to pay the winning party for costs such as medical expenses and lost wages, which can quickly become very expensive.

You don’t have to be wealthy to need an umbrella policy – even if you don’t have any assets, your wages can be garnished.

An umbrella policy picks up where your auto and homeowners insurance policies leave off. It has a high deductible because the deductible is designed to be met by your other policies. Expect to pay around a few hundred dollars a year for this coverage.

SEE: Protect Your Personal Assets

What It Covers
An umbrella policy provides excess coverage above and beyond what is provided by your homeowners and auto insurance policies. As an example, let’s say your auto insurance pays $300,000 of medical expenses per accident and your umbrella policy is for $1 million. If you are sued for $900,000, your auto insurance would pay $300,000 of the damages and your umbrella policy would pay the remaining $600,000. Umbrella policies usually provide roughly $1 million to $5 million of additional coverage, and it is possible to get more if you have lots of assets to protect.

What about the legal expenses you’ll incur if you’re sued? With umbrella policies, legal expenses are covered on top of the policy amount. The policy may also pay you if your appearance at legal proceedings causes you to lose pay from work (for example, if you are an hourly employee or if you don’t have any personal or vacation days available). Since the insurance company’s money is at risk when you’re sued, it’ll want to protect that money with its own legal team, possibly a better legal team than you could afford on your own.

In addition to covering you for accidents on your property or car accidents you are found to be at fault for, an umbrella policy can also protect your dependent children (for example, if your daughter causes a car accident), any accidents caused by you or your dependent children while operating a watercraft, accidents that occur on rental property you own and personal injury lawsuits arising from slander, libel, defamation of character, false arrest, detention or imprisonment, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, shock/mental anguish and possibly more. Be sure to consult your specific policy for details.

What It Doesn’t Cover
An umbrella policy is a form of personal insurance, so it won’t protect you from lawsuits related to a business you own. This includes babysitting, or “compensated child care” in insurance lingo, by the insured (because that would be considered a business). However, your policy may still cover your children if they babysit part-time on someone else’s property.

SEE: Insurance Coverage: A Business Necessity

Umbrella insurance also does not cover activities like drag racing or any other high-risk, unnecessary use of your vehicle. Also, it may not cover all types of vehicles, such as recreational motor vehicles, truck tractor trailers, farm tractors or trailers, or more generally, vehicles exceeding a certain weight limit, such as 12,000 pounds. The policy won’t cover damage to your own car (your auto insurance should provide for that) or damage to your own property (your homeowners insurance should cover it).

If you commit a crime (such as driving under the influence) and are forced to pay restitution, an umbrella policy won’t cover it. Likewise, intentional acts, such as sexual harassment, discrimination, intentional bodily injury, intentional property injury and other willful and malicious acts by the insured are not covered. (As the old saying goes, “crime doesn’t pay”.)

Furthermore, an umbrella policy does not provide you with excess health insurance coverage. Most health insurance policies have annual and lifetime limits on what they will pay. If you’re concerned that those amounts are too low, you will need to purchase more comprehensive health insurance, because an umbrella policy won’t help you.

These are just a few examples of things that an umbrella policy generally will not cover. Because there are quite a few exclusions, if you’re concerned about being covered for a specific event, ask your insurance agent if an umbrella policy will cover it and, if not, what additional policy you can purchase to protect yourself.

Underlying Insurance Requirements
Because an umbrella policy is designed to be a form of secondary insurance, it will have underlying insurance requirements. This means that you’ll have to have a certain amount of auto insurance and homeowners insurance coverage as a condition of being approved for an umbrella policy. The underlying insurance requirements will vary depending on the company you get your umbrella through, but typical coverage includes:

  • Auto insurance bodily injury coverage of $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident
  • Auto insurance property damage coverage of $100,000 per accident
  • Homeowners insurance personal liability coverage of $500,000

Additionally, some umbrella insurance providers will require you to have your auto and homeowners insurance with them before they will issue you an umbrella policy. Sometimes having all of your policies with one insurer saves you money, but sometimes it doesn’t – switching your homeowners and auto insurance policies to the umbrella provider can potentially make umbrella insurance more expensive than just the umbrella insurance premium itself. If you don’t already have the underlying insurance required by an umbrella policy, this will also effectively make your umbrella policy more expensive.

Things That Increase Your Risk of Being Sued
If you always take public transportation and don’t own any property, you are much less likely to need an umbrella policy. On the flip side, there are a few things that increase the likelihood of requiring an umbrella insurance policy:

  • A long commute
  • Driving during rush hour, when drivers are more likely to get into an accident
  • Your home has a swimming pool
  • You own a dog
  • You frequently have guests over

The Bottom Line
Just because you aren’t at high risk of being sued doesn’t mean you are at no risk. Even if you are very careful, umbrella insurance can be thought of as bad luck insurance. The safest course of action is to be insured. And remember that as your financial situation changes, you may need to add more coverage in the future.

Source: investopedia.com