Archive for Insurance Tips

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!

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

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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

Don’t Fear the Unknown

Accidents happen, and theres nothing we can do about it.  But fearing what may happen will only add to the stresses of daily life.  At Duncan Financial Group we have qualified professionals to help you prepare for all of those what ifs.  Give us a call today at 724-863-3420 and let us help you with all of your insurance needs.

 

Fast Food Eaters Getting More Than They Bargained For

Who doesn’t love a quick stop at the drive thru? Grab a meal without ever leaving your car; just a quick stop, no prep, and you’re on your way. Now most everyone realizes that the contents of the bag you’re about to dig into isn’t the healthiest meal choice ever, but a recent study is showing customers are still way off on how many calories they are actually intaking.

Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute have found out that people eating at 89 different fast food restaurants were underestimating the calorie count of their meal by up to 500 calories. Teenagers have proven to big the biggest culprit, ordering meals containing an average of 756 calories, but they underestimating them by an average of 259 calories. Adults were not much better underestimating their meals by an average of 175 calories. Now all the information for exactly what is in each meal from each restaurant is available to consumers, be it on the boxes or on their website, and diners should really take the time to see what they are eating in order to make healthy choice.

The same logic can be applied to your insurance. Sure you can estimate what would be a good deal, but why guess when we here at Duncan Financial Group can provide you the real answers that you are looking for. Before you take a chance on what policies to choose, give us a call at (724) 863-3287.

Fashion Has Gone Postal

Have you ever looked out the window to see your friendly mail carrier walking by and then instantly think “Where can I get an outfit as cool as that”. Well worry no more because the USPS has announced plans to come out with a line of clothing and accessories, called “Rain, Heat & Snow.” The USPS licensed its unofficial motto to a Cleveland-based fashion apparel company called Wahconah Group, Inc., which will design the line of accessories and apparel.

It’s a win-win for the Postal Service, which will get a percentage of sales and they won’t have to include a budget item in their financials to produce the line since Wachonah will pick up the tab. Rain Heat & Snow will release a line for men by spring 2014, which will be sold in premier department and specialty stores. A line for women is also in the works. It will feature all-season, all-weather gear with the latest technology such as sweat-wicking fabric and jackets that can sync up with your MP3 players. The line also includes coats, head gear and footwear.

Now that you are going to replace your whole wardrobe with post office gear, make sure you start saving now. What easier way to start saving then by calling Duncan Financial Group and finding out more about competative auto, home, and life policies that offer you great service at a great price.

Parallel Porking

Anyone who drives know they dread being put in a position to parallel park. Well count your blessings because chances are this is not the outcome you’ll be running into.

However, if you are to run into issues, be sure your Auto Policy is sufficient. Contact Duncan Financial Group at (724)-863-3420 today for more information!

Winter Isn’t Totally Full of Holiday Cheer

With winter soon to come into full swing, temperatures will continue to drop and weather will continue to become harsh. Though this does signal the beginning of the Holiday season, its also a signal for potential dangers to you and your loved ones. Both your home and your vehicle require extra attention when the weather beings to change.

Your car is your daily source of transportation and you can’t afford to be without it.  Make sure battery, brakes, and all fluids are properly maintained. Try to keep your tank partially filled to help prevent damage from freezing. Be sure to know the difference, that without anti lock brakes, a pumping motion of the pedal is used to stop progress in poor road conditions, whereas with anti lock brakes, slamming on the breaks is what puts the system into action.

When your not traveling in your car, a lot of time will be spent in your own home. Winterizing your home is a good practice, that not only makes your home safer but can save you money. Make sure walls, attics, doors, and windows are properly insulated to cut down on heating and energy costs. Keep fire extinguishers handy to deal with those potential kitchen disasters. And know how to shut your water off in case of possible pipe bursts.

All the preparation in the world can be done but that doesn’t mean that all crisis can be avoided. That’s why the best protection against the winter weather is good insurance. Reliability and fast service are necessary to keep up with all the demands this time of year. Take a little bit of stress out of the season by calling Duncan Financial Group at 724-863-3240.

$3000 Trip, 150 Yards Traveled

Tom Kosta, an 84 year old man from the Sacramento area, almost had to shell out $3000 in order to be transported from the hospital to medical offices for an MRI. Tom said he was able to make the walk or be taken by wheelchair, but nurses would not permit it due to patient safety policy. The ride approximately was 75 yards each way, totaling less than 30 seconds in travel time. Under normal circumstances, a man of Tom’s age would have Medicare Part B coverage, but because he is still employed full-time, he still has private insurance which does not cover the full amount. AMR (American Medical Response) stepped in and after evaluating the situation, wiped clean the debt that Tom Kosta owed. David Durand, an employee of AMR, says “costs are high in part to cover the 50% to 60% of patients who don’t have money to pay for their rides”. Also because they are a private company, the receive no taxpayer dollars that subsidize what they do.

Arming yourself with proper knowledge about your insurance policies is more important now than ever. Every dollar saved counts, so knowing how your policies work and what exactly they cover for you is crucial. Don’t have enough information on your current policies or even looking to enhance what your policy already offers you? Make sure you give Duncan Financial Group a call, 724-863-3420. A quick phone call could be the all the difference in being prepared for whatever life may throw your way.