Archive for Personal Insurance

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!

Love Bites—Get Umbrella Coverage

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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!

 

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!

Share the Road!

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Summertime is finally here! Kids are splashing in the pools, cookouts are in full force, and sporting events are happening everywhere.

The warm summer months also mean that more motorists are on the roads…especially, more motorcyclists.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds to safely “share the road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcyclists are reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists.

And, if you are in the market for motorcycle coverage, Duncan Financial Group offers customizable insurance programs to meet your specific biking needs. Whether you ride a cruiser, trike, touring bike, custom, chopper or sports bike, we are here to help you choose the coverage that is right for you and your bike…at a reasonable price!

Contact our expert staff today to learn more and receive a free, no obligation quote! Call 724-863-3420.

Happy Travels to You!

Spring Ahead this Weekend!

spring-ahead

It’s Daylight Savings Time! Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead 1 hour on Sunday, March 9. An extra hour of daylight will be quite welcoming after the long winter we’ve endured. And, the temperatures will be feeling much more spring-like this weekend, with Saturday’s high in our area reaching 50! Why not do some savings of your own and contact Duncan Financial Group to find out more about our  auto, homeowners’ and life insurance policies? We offer great services at competitive prices!

With a break in the cold and snow, more people will likely be out on the roads. Be careful in your travels and watch out for motorcyclists while you’re driving.

Cheers to a great weekened!

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.