Before You Hit the Road… Tips for the College-Bound

road-people-street-smartphoneA Few Tips for the College-Bound

College is expensive enough without the added cost of unexpected accidents or theft, not covered by your insurance policy. If you have a student heading away to school, below are a few tips to help you get the most out of your coverage.

HOMEOWNERS (varies by state)

  • Personal Property:  Most homeowners policies will cover personal property for up to 10% of your total policy while your child is residing at school (a $100,000 policy equals $10,000 in coverage). Not all types of damage are covered, so read your policy carefully. Some items such as jewelry or expensive electronics, require special coverage. Renters insurance is strongly recommended.
  • Liability Coverage:  General damage to a dorm room or apartment is not usually covered.
  • Documentation:  Creating an inventory of the items your child is taking to school is a good idea. Use photographs and keep receipts.

AUTO (varies by state)

  • Car Stays Home:  Keep your child listed on your auto policy if they will still drive your car while at home on school breaks.
  • Car at School:  Make sure to notify us if your child will be taking a car away to school. In most cases, if the car is registered to you and listed on your policy, it will be covered.
  • Driving a Friend’s Car:  Students are generally covered if they are listed on their parent’s policy and are not regularly using the vehicle. The coverage would be secondary.  The insurance for the friend’s vehicle would be the primary coverage.
  • Discounts:  A full-time student meeting certain academic requirements can qualify for a good student discount. Distant student discounts may also be available. Drivers under 21 who have completed driver’s education may also get a discount.

Before your child leaves for school, Duncan Financial Group at  (724) 863-3420 or e-mailbfornalczyk@duncangrp.com. We can walk you through the steps to ensure you have the right coverage. We’re here to help!

Let’s Keep Our Lawns – and Ourselves – Safe

For many of our neighbors in the Greater Pittsburgh Area summer means more than sunshine and vacations. It alsogarden-grass-meadow-green means working in the yard – often with tools that can be dangerous if not used properly.

Each year about 400,000 people are treated for injuries from lawn and garden tools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Don’t let your landscaping efforts land you in the hospital! Follow these handy safety tips.

Tool safety tips from the U.S. CPSC

  • Dress appropriately. To protect yourself from debris when using lawn tools, wear eye protection, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-fitting clothes and no jewelry. Sturdy shoes are recommended, and ear plugs may be appropriate depending on how loud the device is.
  • Before starting, remove objects from your work area that could cause injury or damage, such as sticks, glass or stones.
  • Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used. Never let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or riding mower, even if the child is supervised. And never assume children will remain where you last saw them.
    Use extreme caution when backing up or approaching corners, shrubs and trees.
  • Teenagers using power equipment should always be supervised by an adult.
  • Handle gasoline carefully. Never fill tanks while machinery is on or when equipment is still hot. Of course, you should never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline or any gasoline-powered equipment.
  • Do not work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
  • Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.

Lawn Chemical Safety Tips from Texas A&M University

  • If you use chemicals to control weeds or pests in your lawn, read the product label carefully so you understand the potential effects on humans, animals and the environment. Follow all instructions.
  • Keep children and animals away from the application area, and protect your skin, eyes and nose during and after application.
  • Remember, use only the recommended amount. Using more of the chemical will not do a better job.
  • Ask yourself if you truly need to use a general pesticide. Is there a product that will specifically treat only the problem you need to solve?

From all of us at Duncan Financial Group, here’s to keeping both you and your lawn healthy this summer!

General Home Security

pexels-photo-101808Keeping your home secure

Everyone wants to keep their home safe from burglars or intruders, but not everyone wants to have an alarm system installed. There are plenty of people who prefer the do-it-yourself route, whether it’s home improvement or home security.

And nowadays, there are more options than ever when it comes to home security, so we at Duncan Financial Group want to help you sort through those options with a few tips.

Do-it-yourself options
The widespread availability of electronic tools means that homeowners can set up their own monitoring systems if they choose, without the help of a home-security company.

  • Cameras: Smaller and more inexpensive than ever, cameras can be placed nearly anywhere on the exterior of your home and monitored from inside wirelessly — or set to record footage for review later. Available software even allows you to point your laptop camera in a particular direction (say, at the front door) and check the images from a remote location.
  • Lights: Motion-detecting floodlights are an excellent deterrent to thieves, because they don’t want to be seen. Make sure they’re installed near entryways, and that they aren’t easily reached from the ground. And using timers for interior lights is a good way to give the appearance that your home is occupied.
  • Alarms: Vibration alarms are available for windows, alerting you if someone is trying to get in. Similarly, other monitors can be installed near doors and programmed to sound if a person comes within a set distance. Some even emit barking sounds to make it appear that a dog is in the house.

Even if you aren’t interested in installing security equipment around your home, there are a number of things you can do to increase safety:

  • Keep your home locked. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people leave windows or doors unlocked. Make sure that sliding doors and windows have extra security, such as a track lock or dowel in the track.
  • Don’t leave a key outside. If you need to provide access to your home while you’re away, leave your key with a trusted neighbor or friend.
  • Watch the landscaping. Thick shrubs and bushes around your porch or yard can give thieves a good place to hide. Keep them well-trimmed and ensure that problematic areas can be illuminated with your outdoor lighting.
  • Use common sense. If you’re going away on vacation, cancel your newspaper and other deliveries. Ask a neighbor to keep watch, and park a car out front. Don’t post publicly on social media or leave a message on your answering machine or voicemail indicating that you’ll be away for an extended period.

Burglars really do consider deterrents such as alarms, cameras, dogs, etc., when looking at targets, according to a study released by the University of North Carolina.  So a small investment in security can make a big difference!

 

Employee Spotlight: Daneen Hayden

Daneen email sign pic fav

From the July Newsletter- Employee Spotlight: Daneen Hayden

Daneen Hayden is the Commercial Insurance Lead Account Manager at Duncan Financial Group. Every day she is responsible for handling claims, working through client’s issues, and ensuring that the other Commercial Insurance Account Managers are ready to handle whatever comes their way. Daneen’s hard work and enthusiasm for her job does not go unnoticed. She has been with the company for the past 12 years and since then, she has constantly focused on a commitment to clients and continuing her insurance industry education.

Recently, Daneen earned her Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation through the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors. The extensive program consisted of five courses and exams over a period of five years. Daneen completed the program in three years. This designation, along with her Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) designation, will provide her with a better understanding and comprehensive knowledge of insurance risks and exposures. Daneen considers her clients as family and feels they should be treated like family–this is what motivated her to continue her education. Her favorite part of working with clients is building relationships and friendships, and knowing that she provided the services best suited for her client’s business to succeed.

Please join us in congratulating Daneen Hayden on this great achievement!

Even though Daneen commits a great deal of her time to her clients and Duncan, she is a dedicated mom of three. Family is an important part of Daneen’s life and she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, her daughter, Gracie, and two sons, Josh and Brandon, as well as a Border Collie mix named Jax. The family`s favorite part of summer is traveling to Myrtle Beach. However, Daneen’s dream vacation would be traveling to Ireland or Scotland.

When she is not spending time with her family, Daneen can be found exercising. She enjoys swimming and biking, but after a long-hard work out, she is ready to sit down and watch HGTV. Her favorite show is Tiny Houses and she hopes that one day, she will be able to use her furniture restoration skills to help build her very own tiny home.

Daneen’s passion can be seen in every aspect of her life, from family-life to working with clients. She is committed to making it all work together for her clients and the company, and bringing positivity, dedication, and humor into the office each day.

Client Spotlight: TPE Industries

From the July NewsletterTPE Industries Logo 2017- Client Spotlight: TPE Industries

TP Electric began operating in 1988. The company was founded by Thomas Porter (TP), a well-respected and highly skilled, knowledgeable electrician. TP Electric offers complete electrical construction, including Oil and Natural Gas, Industrial Electrical Construction, and System Integration Systems; all provided with family values and safety in mind.

Although TP Electric currently has over 120 full-time employees, the company started from the ground up. Before owning and operating his own business, Porter was a line electrician at the Volkswagen Plant in New Stanton, PA. When the plant closed in 1988, Porter needed to find gainful employment in order to provide for his family.

It would not be long before Tom would return to where the Volkswagen Plant once operated. After the plant closed, he was able to lease space at the abandoned plant and start his own company, TP Electric. In 1992, the abandoned plant came under new ownership, as Sony took over the plant that TP Electric was already heavily involved in converting from an automobile assembly to an electronics manufacturing facility.

Today, TP Electric is still owned and operated by the Porter Family and still serves their customers with the same family values that lead to the company’s original success. In 2006, Shawn Porter took over the family business, as president of TP Electric.

As the company continues to grow and change, TP Electric needs to remain informed on their financial requirements and safety culture. When seeking new insurance cover and ways to minimize their risk, TP Electric turned to another family owned and operated business, Duncan Financial Group.

Since 2014, Duncan Financial Group has worked with TP Electric. With the industry of electronics and manufacturing constantly changing due to emerging technologies, TP Electric looks to Duncan Financial Group to keep their employees and company safe. The company says Duncan Financial Group has been extremely knowledgeable and helpful during our transitions throughout the years. We were fortunate to have them on our side; their guidance and meetings provided us the experience and confidence to continue growing now and into the future.

Employee Spotlight: Kim Smith

Kim email sig

From the July Newsletter- Employee Spotlight: Kim Smith

Kim Smith has been in the insurance industry since 1984. Three years ago, she brought her extensive knowledge and expertise to Duncan Financial Group, where she’s been a valuable asset ever since. Kim is a Personal Insurance Account Manager with a CISR designation, which helps her make it all work together for her clients. Communicating and interacting with clients is all in a day’s work for Kim, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Whether it is over the phone or face-to-face, her dedication and commitment to the well-being of her clients is what helps her thrive.

Kim says one of the most enjoyable things about being part of the Duncan Financial Group Team are the individuals she works with on a daily basis. She says that her co-workers’ hard work and willingness to support others in the department creates an exceptional work environment. If she has a question or needs a helping hand, she knows she can depend on her co-workers to have her back.

Despite her busy work schedule, Kim still finds time to relax with her family. On the weekends, this mother of two and a grandmother, plans family trips to new and exciting locations. One of her favorite places to visit is Myrtle Beach. This beloved vacation spot is close to Kim’s heart, as it was where she and her husband of 34 years spent their first vacation together. Family is the most important thing to Kim, so when she is not thinking of a beach getaway, she dreams about visiting her grandson in Germany. Kim finds a way to integrate her family into every aspect of her life, even her hobbies. She and her daughter both share a love for ceramics. She delights in making ceramic Christmas pieces and gifts for her friends and family. She and her daughter even make center pieces and candle holders for her daughter’s home.

Kim makes an impact in the lives of her family and her co-workers every day, and Duncan Financial Group is proud to have her as an outstanding member of the team.

Cut Road Trip Costs

pexels-photo-1052344 Tips to Help Cut Road Trip Costs
There’s no better way to see the country than a road trip, and it’s also the way to travel if you’re looking to keep costs under control. To that end, here are a few ideas to help ensure you have a frugal good time out there on the road.

1. Cut your gas costs. Planning your route in advance will help you estimate your gas costs for the entire trip. Then, when you’re on the road, use the GasBuddy smartphone app to search for the lowest gas prices near you. Of course, you’ll also want to stick to the speed limit and keep your tires properly inflated to help improve your gas mileage.

2. Cut your food costs. Think about picnicking and cooking in rather than eating out. Packing healthy snacks in advance won’t just save you money, it may help save your waistline from the drive-through line, too. You’ll also get to explore the local grocery stores and see the different foods available in different parts of the country. And, don’t forget your reusable water bottle to fill up at water fountains.

3. Cut your lodging costs. Why not book a “room” outdoors? As long as you have room in the car for your camping gear, that is. Oftentimes you can book campsites in advance online. Look for campgrounds with nice facilities, such as showers and even Wi-Fi, and you won’t even sacrifice much in the way of comfort. But, you will save a considerable amount compared to staying in hotels. If the outdoor life just isn’t for you, look for last-minute hotel deals using apps from Hotels.com, Priceline or Orbitz.

4. Cut your entertainment costs. No matter where you’re headed, you can likely find some enticing entertainment options that are either free or low-cost. Check the official tourism websites of the cities and states on your route. Depending on the season, you might come across free concerts, lectures or plays at local parks and libraries. Or, check with museums about free admission days.

Whether you’re planning a long weekend or a couple of weeks on the road, we here at Duncan Financial Group wish you happy travels! Remember, we’re here to handle all of your car insurance needs to help keep you on the go.

Love Bites—Get Umbrella Coverage

night-animal-dog-pet

In today’s economy, everyone is pinching pennies. So why worry about umbrella coverage? Shouldn’t a home and auto policy leave you adequately covered?

Unfortunately, we live in a world of lawsuits. Large damages can be awarded, be extremely expensive and have long-term financial impact. Those lawsuits can come from unlikely sources, such as our furry friends.

Take Herschel for instance. Herschel is a much-loved, rather timid labradoodle who enjoys taking naps on the driveway while his owner mows the lawn.

Herschel watched from eight feet away as his neighbor, a 39 year old man, showed off his rollerblading skills to his kids. The man wiped out on the sidewalk in front of Herschel’s house and broke his leg. He required surgery, costing around $35,000 in medical costs and $18,000 in lost wages.

Fair or not, the man brought a lawsuit against Herschel’s owner, suing for $220,000 in damages. He alleged that Herschel had caused the accident by getting in his way, despite multiple witnesses to the contrary.

But Herschel’s owner was lucky–a jury vindicated Herschel. However, lawsuits such as these can easily exceed the limits on a homeowner’s policy, leaving the insured responsible for the remainder. An umbrella policy would prevent that, giving you an extra $1 million to $5 million in coverage.

Our furry friends can put your assets at risk in other ways as well. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with half of those occurring on the owner’s property. Dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute, account for about a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims, which only cover limited damages.

Protect what you love. Call us to talk about your umbrella options.

We Didn`t Start the Fire, but We Can Help Keep the Fire Safe: Fire Pit Safety

pexels-photo-25344Be Careful When You Play With Fire, Even in the Backyard

It’s a great feeling to hang out with friends and family around a blazing fire in your backyard in Western Pennsylvania — unless, of course, that fire blazes a little too much.

While a fire pit can be a wonderful addition to your home, all fires are potentially dangerous. So before you sit down with some marshmallows to roast, we here at Duncan Financial Group have gathered up some tips to help you keep that fire in the pit (and away from everything else).

Are you legal?
• Before building or buying a fire pit, check the regulations in your area to learn about restrictions.
• Your fire pit may be legal, but a fire might not always be. Monitor and follow community burn bans.
• Be respectful. Nothing can extinguish the good vibes of a nice fire more quickly than police complaints from smoked-out neighbors.

What kind of pit do you want?
• You can buy a fire pit or build one. If you choose the latter, there are plenty of resources online to help you design it. Don’t dig a hole just anywhere and throw some rocks down. Put some thought into it and you’ll have a better — and safer — spot to enjoy.
• If you want convenience, a propane model might be right for you. They produce less smoke and have an adjustable flame.

Ready to build your fire?
Actually, you probably aren’t ready yet.
• First, ensure the area under and around the fire pit is clear of flammable materials. Keep the pit itself at least 10 feet from any structures.
• Before you start the fire, have a fire extinguisher or a garden hose handy.

Okay, now are you ready to build your fire?
• Choose hard, seasoned woods. Sparks from softer woods like cedar can increase the danger of igniting something nearby.
• Don’t use liquid fuels, even lighter fluid, to get your fire going. And don’t burn paper, cardboard, leaves, garbage, etc.
• If you have a metal fire pit, don’t overload it and always use the included safety screen.

Is the fire out?
• When you’re done, spread out the ashes and let them cool off for a bit. Then gently pour water or sand over them. Stick around for a little while to watch for flare-ups.

We want you to have plenty of nice, warm nights — without getting burned. Here’s to making memories around the fire!

This article provided courtesy of Safeco Insurance.

Star, Stripes, and Safety Forever: 10 Ways to Keep You and Your Family Safe This Independence Day

Fourth of July Fireworks

In Western Pennsylvania, summer truly begins when the Fourth of July arrives. It’s a holiday full of fireworks and food, barbecues and boating, family and friends. It can also be full of danger and we’re not only talking about the fireworks.

Whether you’re lighting your own fireworks at home, going to a community show or heading somewhere else, here are 10 ways to help ensure a happy and healthy holiday:

  1. Stay protected and hydrated. If you’re going to be outdoors during the day, use plenty of sunblock (and bring extra). You’ll also want to drink water throughout the day, particularly if you’re drinking alcohol (in which case don’t drive). It’s easy to get dehydrated in the heat.
  2. Watch what you eat. We’re not talking about counting calories. We’re talking about making sure your food is fully cooked. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meats (steaks, roasts or chops) need to be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground meats to 160 and poultry to 165.
  3. Watch what you serve. If you’re heading to a party and bringing food, put it in an insulated cooler with ice or ice packs so it doesn’t grow harmful bacteria between the time you leave your house and the time people dig in. Pull it from the fridge right before you leave for the party.
  4. Don’t drink and drive. We shouldn’t need to tell you this, of course, but the period around the Fourth of July holiday is a deadly one for drunk-driving fatalities.
  5. Don’t drink and boat. Alcohol is a factor in about one-third of recreational boating deaths, says the Coast Guard, so boating under the influence is never a good idea.
  6. Make sure everyone’s got a life jacket. If you’re going to be near or on the water, life jackets are a must. On a boat, there should be enough life preservers for everyone, and remember that kids need an appropriately sized jacket.
  7. Lighting fireworks? Be prepared. Keep a hose or bucket of water close by, and make sure you’re not aiming at people, animals, homes, plants or cars.
  8. Supervise the kids. Youngsters shouldn’t be lighting fireworks at all, and older kids need to be watched closely. Even sparklers get much hotter than you think.
  9. Keep your distance, too. Thousands of people show up in the emergency room this time of the year with firework injuries. Don’t be one of them!
  10. No matter what you’re doing, keep safety in mind at all times.


Those of us at Duncan Financial Group wish you and yours a happy and safe Fourth!