Stratford Insurance Blog

Is your roof adequately protected?

April 11, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

A trend is for home insurance companies is to insure your roof for actual cash value, not replacement cost. Actual cash value is defined as, “The cost to replace with new property of like kind and quality, less depreciation.” Therefore, if your roof was damaged in a hail storm and was 15 years old, an actual cash value policy would deduct 15 years of wear on the roof from your reimbursement. In contrast to actual cash value, there is replacement cost. If your home’s roof is insured for replacement cost, the insurance carrier will reimburse you for the current cost of replacing the asset with a new one of equal effectiveness.

This is a huge difference. Check your policy and call your agent if you have any questions.

Do you work out of your home?

April 9, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

When your workplace is also your home, you might be under the mistaken belief that your home business is insured under the liability and contents coverage you have with your home insurance policy. Well, unless your home insurer knows you operate a business out of your home, it’s not. 

A Will

April 7, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

Many people, both young and old, die without having a will. If you have kids, you need a will. If you own a house, you need a will. If you have property, you need a will. If you want to protect your heirs, you need a will. And yes, some of you may need a trust. But, at the very minimum, you need a will. A will can protect your heirs from having fights over what to do with your estate. It can detail your final wishes. It can make sure that people know what you want after you die. Finally, if you do have a will, update it. If you do not have a will, get one.

Avoiding Identity Theft Tips for Self-employed

April 4, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

When you’re self-employed, your good reputation and business credit history are among your most valuable assets. From loss of funds stolen from financial accounts to damage to your personal credit rating, loss of customer or partner confidence, and even lost business, the risks of identity theft are high. Common cases of identity theft include the misuse of your business credentials, falsification of business filings, or using your business identity to defraud consumers, vendors, banks or even the government. Here are eight identity protection tips you can start today:

  • Protect your tax ID number as carefully as you do your Social Security number. The number of organizations that truly need it is limited. Never imprint your tax number on business checks or other documents.
  • Secure business PCs, mobile devices and networks with firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software, and password protection. Most self-employed people will store a great deal of personal and proprietary business information on just one or two devices.
  • Use a secure mail box, such as a PO Box or locked postal box, to ensure mail fraud doesn’t occur. Business mail boxes are especially vulnerable to theft since they can contain invoices, paychecks and other confidential items.
  • Learn what to toss and what to keep. Keep tax records, insurance documents and business related invoices.
  • Don’t forget to secure paperwork. Business documents can contain a lot of information for identity thieves. Never leave them unsecured. Use locking file cabinets to store sensitive documents.
  • Be cautious when completing business forms online or making transactions over the Internet. Be sure the site you’re dealing with is legitimate and ask vendors how they will keep your information secure online.
  • Keep business and personal finances as separate as possible, and never allow someone else to use your business debit or credit cards.
  • Monitor both your business and personal credit. If fraud occurs, your business credit report and accounts may be where evidence appears first.

Uninsured & Underinsured Coverage

April 2, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

Uninsured and Underinsured insurance coverage can play a critical role in protecting you if involved in an accident. These coverages come into play when an insured is involved in an accident and the person who caused it either doesn’t have any insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your injuries. It also helps if you are the victim of a hit-and-run (by vehicle, bike or as a pedestrian), leaving you without the option of collecting from that persons insurance policy. Remember when it comes to Uninsured and Underinsured coverage, it’s about the coverage not the cost. You can’t rely on somebody else to have enough to cover your injuries.

Why do I need umbrella insurance?

March 31, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

Suppose you cause a multiple-car accident resulting in several injuries that racks up $1 million in hospital bills. The problem? Your auto insurance policy will cover a maximum of $300,000 per incident. You are found legally obligated to cover the remaining $700,000. Don’t have an extra $700K lying around? That’s where umbrella insurance can help. Umbrella insurance may cover the cost of personal liabilities beyond your current auto, home and/or condo insurance policies.

Retired? Are you getting these discounts on your auto and home insurance?

March 28, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

Between the ages of 55-65 is statistically one of the safest years of your life. You’re a good driver. You take pride in your home. You’re likely not adding on teenage children to your auto insurance. Insurance companies recognize this and offer discounts and great rates to this age group. Here are four discounts or rate changes retirees should be eligible for … contact your agent.

  • No Commute  If you’re no longer making the daily commute to work, notify your agent of this change. Auto insurance companies charge more for those who are commuting daily, especially if that commute is long.
  • Mileage  When you talk to your agent about the change in your commute, also let your agent know the total amount of miles you now plan on driving per year. If you were driving 15,000 miles a year but now only drive 5,000, you’re eligible for a cheaper auto insurance rate.
  • Different Rates for Retirees  Between the ages of 55-65 auto insurance and home insurance rates begin to decrease. Therefore, just turning this age,  you’re likely pay less in insurance.
  • Credit Score Change  Insurance companies offer much lower rates for those with a high credit score. As a retiree, there’s a good chance your credit score has improved since you lasted quoted your insurance.

Your life has changed since retiring. Has your insurance changed as well?

Motorcycle Insurance

March 26, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

Safety should be a primary concern for all motorcycle riders. Here are a few tips:

  • Have an annual insurance review to make sure you have the right combination of coverage and price.
  • Wear a Helmet. Buy a full-face helmet for the best protection for your head and eyes. A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is 40 percent more likely to sustain a fatal head injury in a crash than a rider wearing a helmet.  A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study reports that, “Helmets saved 1,483 motorcyclists lives in 2009, and 732 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.”
  • Wear other protective gear as well; heavy leather or synthetic gloves, long pants and jacket, and over-the-ankle leather boots.  Leathers can keep you warm and protected.
  • More than 90 percent of riders involved in accidents had never taken a formal motorcycle driving course. Get to know your bike’s capabilities, like how it performs on a curve or slick roads, and you’ll become a much safer rider. Errors like over-braking, driving too fast and under-cornering are major factors in most solo mishaps.
  • Driving impaired is more deadly for cyclers than other drivers. In fact, more than half of all motorcycle deaths occur when the rider has been drinking.
  • Service your bike to make sure it is working correctly.

Directors and Officers Coverage is Critical

March 24, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance is intended to protect the personal assets of Directors and Officers. Why should you have it?

  • Directors and officers litigation is common and virtually routine in situations where one public public company acquires another.
  • Side A insurance is a D&O policy feature providing direct coverage to an organization’s directors and officers in situations where the employer is not legally required to indemnify them.
  • Today, it is the indemnification issue that most concerns directors and officers.

The D&O policy is designed to protect the personal assets of the directors and officers, and inadequate limits or the erosion of coverage from other exposures puts these personal assets at risk.

Unoccupied Property Insurance

March 21, 2014 by Stratford Insurance Group

If you are a probate solicitor or an estate executor you’ll know just how difficult it can be finding unoccupied property insurance which doesn’t break the bank. Most home insurance policies don’t provide cover if a property is unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days; which means you’ll need to find a specialist product from a specialist provider.

Calculating insurance premiums is all about calculating risk and empty properties are more risky to insure.  Not only are they more vulnerable to certain types of claim (such as vandalism and metal theft), but claims tend to be high as damage quickly gets worse if it isn’t immediately fixed. So it’s hardly surprising that the majority of standard home insurers either aren’t interested or charge sky-high premiums. Instead choose an unoccupied property insurance broker who specializes in working with legal professionals. As a solicitor you’ll have a unique set of demands, which should include the following:

  • Choice of Cover: Expect a full range of policies from basic FLEE Cover (Fire, Lightning, Earthquake & Explosion) to extended Building & Contents Cover.
  • Competitive Cover: As a rule of thumb you can expect established brokers to have access to better rates, so chose a provider with a proven track-record.
  • Convenient Cover: Sometimes you’ll need to arrange cover quickly and that means a broker who can provide online quotes and online cover.
  • Tailored Cover: At other times you’ll need a ‘made-to-measure’ policy and that means a broker who can provide expert consultation.
  • Flexible Cover: It’s impossible to know exactly how long it will take to settle an estate, so choose a policy that can be renewed every 3,6 or 9 months.
  • Non Standard Cover: A good broker will be able to arrange cover for all types of property and construction.
  • Trusted Cover: Knowing that you are in safe hands, and that the property you are legally responsible for is completely covered, means you can get on with other business without a worry.