Archive for Home Insurance

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!

 

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.

Why a Home Inventory Is Important?

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Let’s try a little exercise: Can you list everything you own from memory?
Didn’t think so.

The fact is most people own more things than they realize. It’s easy to remember the cars, the computer, the TV. But what about that holiday china in the garage?  Or every pair of shoes?

All of it is regarded as personal property for insurance purposes. And if your home is destroyed by fire or some other disaster, having a list of your possessions makes filing a claim easier — and helps you put your life back together.

Why should I complete a home inventory? What’s the best way?
Comparing the value of your belongings to the “contents” limit listed in your policy helps you make sure you have enough insurance to replace them if they are lost, stolen or destroyed as a result of a covered loss. The easiest way to take an inventory is to use a video camera, recording and describing items as you walk through your house. Or, you can use a regular camera and create a home inventory checklist.

Here are a few tips for completing and storing your inventory:
Add brand names and descriptions where you can, especially on large-ticket items. Serial numbers are helpful to note.
Keep any receipts you have with the list to make the claims process easier.
Store your video or photo inventory offsite so you won’t lose it if your house is damaged.
Update your personal property records when you purchase new furnishings and valuables.
Though the task may seem daunting, it’s important to try. An incomplete inventory is better than nothing at all.

How much insurance do I need?
We can assist you in analyzing your insurance needs and help you decide how to most effectively protect your personal property. You should consider full-value coverage, which will pay for the replacement value of your personal belongings. A standard policy typically covers personal property only up to its actual cash value, determined by taking the replacement cost and deducting depreciation, which can be substantial. (For example, a 5-year-old TV is usually worth much less than what it would cost to purchase a new one.)

Finally, remember your homeowners policy covers valuable items such as jewelry, furs, art and antiques, only up to set dollar amounts. If the cost of replacing them exceeds these limits, you may want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage.

The Insurance Information Institute has a FREE online tool that can help you create your inventory. Just visit www.knowyourstuff.org  for more details.

We hope you’ll never need the home inventory, but preparing for the worst can prevent a lot of hassle later!

What you should know about flood insurance

flood-insurance-2

 You’ve probably heard this horror story before — someone loses a home due to a flood and learns after the fact that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.

At Duncan Financial Group, we want you to be educated about all of the risks you may face – before a loss occurs – so you can determine what insurance coverage is appropriate. Spring is a prime season for flooding, so now is a good time to review your options.

Because very few companies offer flood insurance, the U.S. government created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968. Available to homeowners, renters and business owners, this insurance often is required to obtain a mortgage in areas at high risk of flooding.

But you might want to look into a policy just for peace of mind, even if you don’t live in a flood-prone zone. According to the NFIP, nearly 25% of the program’s claims occur in moderate- to low-risk areas. Check out the questions and answers below to help determine if flood insurance is right for you.

Is flood insurance available in my area?

To participate in the NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance with rules regarding construction in certain flood-prone areas. In exchange, the government makes flood insurance available within that community. We’re happy to help you find out if you’re eligible for flood insurance. Just give us a call at 724-863-3420. You can also visit  http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.

What does it cover?

The NFIP provides coverage for both the structure and its contents. Coverage for contents is optional in some cases, so you may want to give us a call to discuss other coverage for your personal property.

Keep in mind that you typically can’t purchase flood insurance and have it take effect the next day. There is usually a 30-day waiting period. (Exceptions to this rule apply, however, particularly when the insurance is required by a lender and is purchased during the process of securing a mortgage.) If you think you need flood insurance, don’t wait to buy a policy!

What doesn’t it cover?

Generally, government-issued flood insurance will not cover the following: Buildings entirely over water or principally below ground, gas and liquid storage tanks, animals, aircraft, wharves, piers, bulkheads, growing crops, shrubbery, land, roads, machinery or equipment in the open and most motor vehicles.

How much does it cost?

As with all insurance policies, the cost of flood insurance varies depending on your situation. If your home or business is in a high-risk area, such as a “special flood hazard area,” your premium naturally will be higher than those in low- or moderate-risk zones. Premiums are based on how old the building is, how many floors it has, the location of its contents, your deductible and more. Renters insurance is typically less expensive, as renters generally insure their belongings and not the building.

Where can I find more information?

As always, we are happy to help you determine your insurance needs. Stop by our office at 311 Main Street, Irwin, PA,  or give us a call at724-863-3420. The NFIP website, at http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program, has plenty of answers as well.

Insurance Coverage You May Be Overlooking That Could Cost You $$$

fiscalcliff_piggy_bank

Unforeseen accidents can happen at any time. That’s why the insurance professionals at Duncan Financial Group want to ensure that you and your family are completely protected. When you are designing an insurance policy, certain coverages may be overlooked.  We can help you determine what coverages you need and get you covered without any hassle…all while working with our friendly and highly knowledgeable professionals. Below are just a few of the sometimes overlooked insurance coverages that we offer and you should consider investing in:

Automobile

  • Property Damage: If you are the at-fault driver in a three-car pileup, is your property damage liability enough to cover the cost of the damages? This mandatory coverage can often be overlooked. Any damage you cause to other people’s property will be covered up to the limit you have, but it may not be enough.  If the damage you cause is greater than your limit, you are responsible to pay those damages out of your own pocket!
  • Work Loss Benefit: What if you get injured in a car accident and can’t work because of your injuries? This coverage will pay you income up to the coverage limit. Is $1,000 per month enough, or would $2,500 be better for you? 

Homeowners

  • Water Backup of Sewers/Drains: What if there was a backup of your drain system? Would your insurance cover the damage? Did you know that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy excludes coverage for damage of water drain backups or if a sump pump fails? If you have a finished or unfinished basement, or if your mechanical systems are located in the basement, you should strongly consider this additional layer of protection.

Call the insurance professionals at Duncan Financial Group to learn more and get covered today!
(724) 863-3420

Rolling Into the New Year

evgeni-malkin-pittsburgh-penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are hot in December.  Halfway into the month’s schedule the Pens are 6-1-0 and sit atop the Eastern Conference with 49 points.  Despite a slew of injuries to top players including Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins continue to roll due in large part to the great play of young, inexperienced players who have stepped up when called upon.  With 7 more games left in December, Pittsburgh looks to stay hot going into 2014.

Here at Duncan Financial Group we’re also rolling into 2014 with our 36th year of business.  Call us today at 724-863-3420 and let our professional staff help you with any of your insurance needs.

Don’t Be a Last Minute Shopper

christmas-shopping1 It’s inevitable.  Every year millions of people wait until the very last minute to shop for the holidays.  Not only are these people often missing out on many deals offered early in the month, but they are also oftentimes enduring unneeded stress that comes along with procrastinating. There are still two weeks until Christmas.  And there is still some time left before it would be considered last minute.  So get your shopping done today and leave yourself more time to relax and unwind over the holidays.

Insurance is another thing you never want to put off shopping for.  In life we rarely know what to expect.  So, by being covered we can always feel prepared in case things ever go awry.  At Duncan Financial Group, we will always do our best to find the insurance options that work for you.  Give us a call today at 724-863-3420 and rest easy this holiday season.

What Do You Want To Do?

No matter what it is you like to do, the struggle is always finding the time to do it with our busy and sometimes stressful lives.  Having reliable insurance coverage can give you the peace of mind to enjoy those things.

Call Duncan Financial Group today at 724-863-3420.  Our staff will help you find the quality insurance coverage that works for you.  And your time can be better spent doing what you like to do.

Happy Thanksgiving

turkey

Thanksgiving is one of those special holidays based on tradition. It is a day where we not only give thanks for what we have, but a day of parades, watching football and stuffing ourselves full of turkey. It is a warm and comforting day, surrounded by family and friends. However, without proper preparation the Thanksgiving meal would not be successful.

Here at Duncan Financial, our agents are always prepared to meet all of your insurance needs, and they won’t stuff you full of empty promises. So give us a call today at 724-863-3420 and have a Happy Thanksgiving from all the staff at Duncan Financial Group.

Don’t Wait to Make Sure You’re Covered

 

Procrastination is a theme many of us are all too familiar with.  Although it may not always hurt us, when it comes to insurance it is better to be prepared then to put off protecting what matters to you.

Call Duncan Financial Group today at 724-863-3420 today and find out what options we have for you.