1So the police pulled you over and you got a speeding ticket? Don’t despair. Along with the chunk of change you’re required to send the state or city, you might be eligible to take a traffic class that will keep the points off your record — and your Auto premiums from rising.

In 41 states, the DMV transfers these points to your driving record. Insurance companies generally check this record when you take out or renew an Auto policy, change coverage, or drop or add cars and/or drivers.

Garner a few points and your premium will increase at renewal, especially if you have more than one violation in three years. For instance, according to Insurance.com, a speeding ticket will raise your premium by 11% to 13%.

To keep your record clean and avoid a surcharge if you’re cited for a minor violation, you might be able to complete an in-person or online traffic course. Laws, deadlines, and limitations vary by state. Most states also allow drivers who have accumulated points to have them removed by taking a safe driving class.

If you have a clean driving record and go to traffic school, most insurance companies will offer a 5% to 15% discount on Liability and Collision coverage when you renew your policy.

As a rule, taking a driver safety class will either remove points from your record for minor violations or give you a discount, but not both.

There might be some variations, depending on state laws and insurance company. For example, only drivers over age 25 might be eligible for the discount, or all drivers of the insured vehicle must take the course to qualify.

For more information, just give your Tracy Driscoll Insurance specialist a call.

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Many consumers have faced rapidly escalating Homeowners insurance premiums during the past few years. In some cases, they’ve had trouble getting coverage, particularly if they have filed several claims.

To reduce the possibility of future losses, you can take a number of precautions, including:

  • When washing machine hoses start to deteriorate, replace them with stainless steel hoses, for which your insurance company might offer you a discount. The hoses should not rub against the wall. Also, to prevent leaks, turn off the machine’s water faucet when the appliance is not in use.
  • If you experience a water leak, make sure it that it’s repaired properly and remediated as soon as possible; this might include removing and replacing building materials, such as sheetrock. For larger leaks, call in a professional that specializes in remediation. These measures will reduce the possibility of hazardous and expensive mold losses down the road.
  • Consider an automatic water shut-off system for your home. These systems have sensors which detect water leaks and send a wireless signal that interacts with the shut-off valve to turn off the water to the home. Some insurance companies offer discounts for these systems.
  • Maintain your roof in optimal condition. A quality roof inspection on a periodic basis can identify sections that need repair, and thus prevent water losses. If you live in an area that’s prone to windstorms, use roofing materials that are resistant to high winds.

To learn more about keeping your Homeowners insurance premiums under control – and making sure that you have the coverage you need – please feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

For more recommendations on repair and maintenance of your home, please feel free to get in touch with your Tracy Driscoll Insurance specialist at any time (860) 589-3434.

 

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The main reason that Americans go bankrupt is because of unpaid medical bills. Most of these people carried Health insurance, but didn’t have enough coverage. It’s your health, and as a consumer, your responsibility, to look out for yourself.

As of next January 1, the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will require all adults to buy a Health policy or face a tax penalty, The penalty for not carrying insurance in 2014 will be the higher of $95 a year per person or up to 1% of annual income. Starting in 2016, this will rise to $695 per individual or 2.5% of annual income, whichever is higher. For families, the penalty will be capped at $285 in 2014, rising to $2,085 or 2.5% of household income in 2016.

The good news: as of October 1, 2013, online Health insurance marketplaces or “exchanges” in every state will open their virtual doors for business, selling coverage that will take effect on January 1. What’s more, individuals and families with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level who buy through these exchanges will receive subsidies or tax credits on a sliding scale to help pay for premiums.

These marketplaces will offer a variety of Health coverages, and the tax credits or subsidies can help you afford a level of care that suits your needs.

Don’t wait to be told to buy insurance. Start looking at your options now! As an early adopter, you’ll be more likely to find a plan with a better rate, one that saves your wallet, and – should you ever need it – your health, as well!

For more information, please feel free to get in touch with on of our Tracy-Driscoll health insurance specialists to answer any questions you might have on the new laws at (860) 589-3434.

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Metal car keys are going the way of the land line, as most drivers have graduated to a key fob or remote with a transponder that needs programming before use. If you own a high-tech luxury vehicle you might have a “smart key” – a remote control to plug into your dashboard or leave in your pocket.

Although these devices add convenience, they’re pricey. You’ll pay $200 to $400 to replace a smart key on a luxury car, plus $100 an hour for labor. If you lose all your keys, you might need to replace the locks, which could cost $1,000.

Auto insurance will cover the cost of replacing smart keys (or metal keys) only if the loss comes from a peril covered under the policy. For example, if your keys are damaged when you collide with another car, Collision coverage would pay to replace them. Comprehensive coverage –which reimburses you for loss or damage to your vehicle from theft, vandalism, fire, hail, or flood – would include replacement of the keys, as part of the vehicle.

If your car keys are stolen, Homeowners insurance should pay to replace them because theft is a “named peril” under the policy.

Bear in mind that your Auto or Homeowners deductible will apply against the cost of replacement.

Technology is well on the way to eliminating car keys. According to the AAA, smart phone apps that allow you to unlock and start your car will be standard on many vehicles as soon as 2015.

In the meantime, you can avoid paying the high cost of replacing smart keys by keeping spares in a safe place.

To learn more, please feel free to get in touch with on of our Tracy-Driscoll Auto Insurance agents today at 860-589-3434.

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One of the most exciting and terrifying moments for any parent comes the first time you watch them drive away alone. You trust your child, and you’ve either taught them well or hired a professional to do so. Still, there might not be anything quite as scary as the moment when those taillights disappear from view.

Having a solid Auto insurance policy for your teen is essential to give you peace of mind when they’re on the road without you. Although insuring a teenager won’t be cheap, you can easily get the coverage you need at an affordable price.

Most Auto insurance policies for teens will offer discounts to teen drivers who maintain good grades, usually rewarding a B average with some not insignificant savings. Because the vehicle your teenager drives will significantly impact the cost of coverage, when shopping for that first car look for reliability, not flash. Choosing a car with good safety ratings and consumer reviews will help keep premiums under control. Pick a model that’s not too old to need constant maintenance, but isn’t so new that repairs will break the bank. Most car insurance companies keep a list of vehicles and the cost of insuring them.

Many insurance companies also offer premium discount if you have your child receive some extra driving instruction. Most states require a minimum number of hours of driving spent with a certified professional.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is far better than a pound of cure. It makes sense to pay for a comprehensive, cost effective Auto insurance policy now, rather than shell out big dollars for repairs and legal costs after your teen has a car accident.

As always, our Tracy-Driscoll auto insurance professionals stand ready to help you make the right choice – call us today at 860-589-3434.

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You’re facing a deadline to complete work under a major contract – when a voltage spike surges through your electrical lines, burning out computers and telephone equipment. How would you pay for replacing or repairing the damaged equipment, taking the steps needed to get back in production, and replacing lost income?

In today’s high-tech electronic world, more and more companies are buying Equipment Breakdown insurance policies(formerly known as Boiler & Machinery insurance) to protect themselves against losses from a variety of mishaps that are sometimes unpredictable and often unavoidable: everything from mechanical failure or electrical short circuits to “arcing” (faulty wiring or motor burnout. The rapid growth of Internet marketing and “just in time” inventory make businesses more dependent than ever on computers – while critical data often exists only on the Internet or online databases that can’t be accessed when equipment breaks down.

Depending on their size and sophistication, some businesses include this coverage in their Property insurance, while other purchase it as an endorsement to the policy.

A comprehensive Equipment Breakdown insurance policy should include:

  • Reimbursement for the cost of repairing or replacing damaged equipment (Some policies also cover green construction, disposal and recycling methods)
  • Replacement of income lost from downtime (“Business Interruption” or “Service Interruption” coverage)
  • Assistance from your insurance carrier, ranging from maintenance guidelines and checklists and crisis planning templates to identifying sources for repairs, unusual parts, or replacement equipment that can be obtained quickly.

Our Tracy-Driscoll Business insurance experts would be happy to help you obtain a cost-effective Equipment policy that’s tailored to your needs. Just give us a call at 860-589-3434.

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Small Business InsuranceUnfortunately, many small businesses ignore business continuity planning – perhaps because this seems so simple that they just don’t need to do it. Here are five basic (and cost-effective) steps you need to take before disaster strikes:

  1. Define who’s in charge. Because you might be unavailable after a disaster – injured, ill, on vacation, etc. – designate an order of succession to avoid confusion and unclear responsibility during the recovery process.
  2. Avoid a communication breakdown. Normal communication infrastructure might be disabled after a disaster, so make sure you have alternatives for employees, customers, clients, key suppliers, and subcontractors. At a minimum, have phone numbers (landline and cellular), and e-mail addresses. Don’t rely on outdated, unreliable methods such as phone communication trees. Use a voicemail system supported by a vendor with communication equipment offsite. Don’t forget to consider backup power needs.
  3. Perform data backups. Be sure to make duplicate copies of data regularly, with one copy at a location that’s easy and inexpensive to access.
  4. Have a Plan B. if your facility is destroyed or access is denied by civil authorities, can you conduct certain business operations from home or a local hotel? For example, what steps can you take to replace computers and retrieve data?
  5. Make sure you have enough business insurance. In a worst-case disaster scenario (major fire, windstorm, civil disorder, etc.), you might well lose your business assets and face a period of downtime – zero cash flow. Business insurance can keep you afloat until you’re back on your feet.

We stand ready to help design a comprehensive, cost effective business insurance program that can make your business less risky. Give one of our Tracy-Driscoll business insurance specialists a call today 860-589-3434

 

 

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Although searching for the prices of health care insurance has traditionally been an exercise in frustration, it’s getting easier and easier to find this information.

With health care costs rising and consumers on the hook for a growing share of their medical bills, doctors, hospitals, and health insurers are feeling the pressure to bring make their prices more readily available.

Most health insurance plans give policyholders the average cost for procedures in a geographic area or ZIP Code; some even show cost by specific healthcare providers.

If you get Health insurance at work, chances are that your employer can provide pricing information.

You can also access such online healthcare cost estimating services as:

  • FairHealthConsumer.org offers a comprehensive medical cost estimator. Enter your ZIP code, indicate whether you have insurance find your procedure on a drop-down list – and up pops the estimated price, together with the amount your insurer will probably cover (and how much you would pay).
  • Pricing sites such as HealthBlueBook.com and NewChoiceHealth.com provide the average amount that insurance companies pay for many inpatient and outpatient procedures in your area.
  • Use SaveOnMedical.com to compare prices and quality ratings for services such as MRIs, X-rays and CT scans listed by cost, based on your ZIP Code or city.

When using any of these cost estimation tools, remember that hospitals, doctors, anesthesiologists and labs might all bill separately and to get a handle on your likely costs, consider the full picture. Also, be sure to do your pricing homework before you seek non-urgent care.

As always if you have questions about health-care pricing resources, please feel free to call us anytime at 860-589-3434.

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Your credit scores help determine what you’ll pay for a car loan – and Car insurance.

Studies by state regulators, universities, and independent auditors show that such credit information as how often you’ve paid a bill more than 60 days late can predict your probability of making an Auto insurance claim and its cost. Car Insurance companies use this data to help set premiums.

However, one study found that 96% of Americans don’t review their credit report once a year, even when they can do so for free. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in four consumers had errors on their reports that could affect credit scores – and 5% of these mistakes could mean that they’re paying more than they should for Car insurance and financing.

To make sure that your credit report is accurate, improve your score, and keep your Auto insurance premiums down, experts recommend these guidelines:

  1. Order free reports from the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) through AnnualCreditReport.com , one every four months. Correct any errors immediately.
  2. Pay your bills on time. Payment history counts for 35% of your score.
  3. Keep your credit card balances below 20% of available credit.
  4. Monitor your credit history. Because credit bureaus look at how long you’ve had an open and active line of credit, the worst thing you can do for your credit score is to close credit card accounts. Not only do you lose your credit history for that card, but your overall utilization ratio goes up.
  5. Don’t open new accounts in quick succession. This represents a greater risk, especially for people who don’t have a long credit history.

If it has been a while since you have reviewed your credit history or received an updated quote for car insurance give one of our car insurance specialists at Tracy-Driscoll Insurance a call today (860) 589-3434.

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If you have Health Insurance, you’re probably all too familiar with what your plan won’t cover. The list of expenses denied when you try to file a claim can seem endless. It’s easy to wonder what actually is covered.

This February, Americans got more clarity about what Health Plans must cover starting in January 2014, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published its list of ten “essential health benefits” under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These categories apply to both individual and small employer insurance, as well as new plans under Medicaid.

Here are the mandatory categories of treatment and care:

  1. Outpatient medical care.
  2. Emergency care.
  3. Hospitalization.
  4. Maternity and Newborn care.
  5. Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder services.
  6. Prescription Drugs.
  7. Rehabilitation Services and Devices.
  8. Lab Tests.
  9. Preventative and Wellness services, and Chronic Disease Management.
  10. Pediatric Services, including Dental and Vision care.

In response to the release of the new standards, American Association of Health Insurance Plans spokesperson Robert Zirkelbach noted, “The minimum essential health benefits standard will still require many individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage that’s more comprehensive and more expensive than they choose to purchase today.”

This is all the more reason for people planning to buy coverage under the ACA to be well informed when the State Health Insurance exchanges open on October 1.

HHS offers an enrollment checklist for individuals, families, and small businesses that includes questions to ask about Health Plans, a primer on coverage basics, and guidelines for budgeting.

As always, our Tracy-Driscoll insurance specialists stand ready to offer their advice to help you select the best value for your Health Insurance dollar. Just give us a call at (860) 589-3434.

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