Vacation Insurance: Do You Need It?

 

As you start making summer vacation plans, think about vacation insurance. It’s available on almost any trip you might take, whether you travel a few hours away from home or across the globe. Before you buy vacation insurance, though, decide if you need it.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

You’ll pay five to seven percent more for your vacation if you buy trip cancellation insurance. However, you could lose more money than that if your child contracts chickenpox the day before your vacation, you’re called to jury duty, a work emergency comes up or you otherwise can’t take your trip.

Travel Health Insurance

Traveling is safer now than ever before, but your current health insurance coverage may not cover a life-saving hospital treatment or medical evacuation as you travel internationally. Likewise, if you travel frequently, are pregnant or suffer from a chronic health condition, travel health insurance makes practical and financial sense.

Baggage Insurance

If you travel with valuables worth more than a few thousand dollars, consider baggage insurance. It costs five percent of the total cost of the items you wish to cover. While most airlines will reimburse you for lost baggage, that money may not cover your lost, stolen or damaged expensive valuables.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance

An adequate life insurance policy typically makes this type of vacation coverage unnecessary. However, check with your insurance agent before your trip to be sure.

Rental Car Insurance

Check with your rental car company to see if your auto insurance policy covers your rental car. If not, purchase additional coverage.

Especially for your expensive, once-in-a-lifetime or international trips, vacation insurance provides the peace of mind you need. Just be sure to buy insurance not a waiver or protection plan. Your insurance agent will help you make sense of all the options and discover which vacation insurance is right for you.

We all want to be protected this summer. Please call Tracy-Driscoll today at (860) 589-3434 to assure you are covered properly. We appreciate your business.

 

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Tim Freeland, local business owner of Freeland Bros Construction in East Berlin was awarded National Association of Home Builders Remodeler of the Month! Even through rough economic times Freeland has maintained a steady flow of customers and quality work. “Good building quality is a given,” says Freeland. “The key is good communication between the builder and the client, before, during and after the project.” Congratulations, Tim!

Tim Freeland, Owner of Freeland Bros. Construction

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Congrats! We are proud to announce that our Personal Lines department is the recipient of the Model Book of Business award from Central Insurance Companies. This is Tracy-Driscoll’s second win in five years. Pictured below, in the center, is Lisa Rhodes.

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What do you most appreciate about being a dad? With Father’s Day approaching on June 15, there’s no better time than today to protect your health. Learn about the top health risks men face and ways to combat these risks so that you can enjoy many more years with your children.

1. Heart Disease

The top killer of men, heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease are preventable. However, you will need to address the leading causes of heart disease. Do that when you stop smoking, lower your blood pressure, reduce your bad cholesterol levels and get your diabetes under control. An exercise regimen and healthy diet also help.

2. Lung Cancer

The top cancer among men is also the most preventable. Because smoking is the cause of 90 percent of lung cancer cases, talk with your health insurance company about available cessation programs and tools that assist you in getting healthy today.

3. Prostate Cancer

The second-leading cancer in men, prostate cancer can be prevented when men undergo an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and rectal exam. These tests should begin by age 50 or sooner if this cancer runs in your family or if you eat a high-fat diet.

4. Diabetes

If diabetes isn’t controlled, you could contract vascular disease, which leads to heart attacks, amputations, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage. Medical treatment, a balanced diet, routine exercise and an active lifestyle can help you prevent or control diabetes.

5. Suicide

Four times as many men than women commit suicide. Men are also more likely than women to resist treatment for depression, frustration and other challenges. Asking for help is a sign of strength and can help you cope with life before you feel self-hated or a desire to commit suicide.

As a dad, focus on your health this Father’s Day. Schedule a physical exam with your primary care physician, and commit to living a healthier lifestyle. Your children will thank you.  Feel free to give Tracy-Driscoll a call at (860) 589-3434 to discuss options for life insurance that may be available to you and your family.

 

The difference between personal automobiles and business automobiles is the name under which it is titled. If you use your personal automobile in business, the business should have hired and non-owned automobile coverage to cover the business’ liability of your driving.

If the business owns the car, you should either have a personal automobile policy or a “drive other cars” endorsement on the business policy to cover your liability for driving a company car. The car owner and driver are often both sued.

So, what’s the difference between Commercial Automobile and Business Automobile?

Commercial automobile coverage includes several policy forms. Garage, business auto, and motor carrier are each forms of commercial auto.

Business automobiles are cars, pick-ups, small trucks, large trucks, dump trucks, even ambulances can be on the fleet list. Business automobile is for standard usage owned vehicles for businesses.

Garage forms are used for public repair shops, dealerships, attended parking lots, any other situation where the general public might drive the business vehicle or you have care, custody or control over other people’s vehicles. The risk is different from business auto because either the cars or drivers do not belong to the same organization. Garage liability also covers towing other vehicles.

The garage form, simply stated, anticipates the owner of the vehicle and the operator will be different people on a regular basis, as part of the business.

Motor carrier forms anticipate different ownership of either the power unit or the trailer it hauls. The nature of long haul trucking is independent contractors “owner operators” hook to other business’ trailers and move them from one spot to another.

Motor carrier coverage is designed to cover the nuances of the independent operator system. Long-haul trucking has different exposures than the average salesman’s vehicle, and needs different coverage.

Of course, these commercial forms can confuse. Please call Tracy-Driscoll today at (860) 589-3434 to assure you are covered properly. We appreciate your business.

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lady_computerData breaches continue to place millions of Americans at risk of identity theft and fraud. Almost 50 percent more breaches were reported in 2008 than the previous year, exposing the records of more than 35 million people, published reports say. More than a third of those breaches occurred at a business.

It’s important that a business take steps to protect personal information. Here are 10 tips to help you safeguard sensitive data.

1. Keep Only What You Need. Reduce the volume of information you collect and retain to only what is necessary. Minimize the places you store personal data. Know what you keep and where you keep it.

2. Safeguard Data. Lock physical records in a secure location. Restrict access to employees who need to retrieve private data. Conduct employee background checks and never give access to temporary employees or vendors.

3. Destroy Before Disposal. Cross-cut shred paper files before disposing of private information. Also destroy CDs, DVDs and other portable media. Deleting files or reformatting hard drives does not erase data. Instead, use software designed to permanently wipe the drive, or physically destroy it.

4. Update Procedures. Do not use Social Security numbers as employee ID or client account numbers. If you do so, develop another ID system now.

5. Train Employees. Establish a written policy about privacy and data security and communicate it to all employees. Educate them about what information is sensitive and their responsibilities to protect that data.

6. Control Use of Computers. Restrict employee use of computers to business. Don’t permit use of file sharing peer-to-peer websites. Block access to inappropriate websites and prohibit use of unapproved software.

7. Secure All Computers. Implement password protection and require re-logon after a period of inactivity. Train employees to never leave laptops or PDAs unattended. Restrict tele-working to company-owned computers and require use of robust passwords that are changed regularly.

8. Keep Security Software Up To Date. Keep security patches for your computers up to date. Use firewalls, anti-virus and spyware software; update virus and spyware definitions daily.

9. Encrypt Data Transmission. Mandate encryption of all data transmissions. Avoid using Wi-Fi networks; they may permit interception of data.

10. Manage Use of Portable Media. Portable media, such as DVDs, CDs and USB “flash drives,” are more susceptible to loss or theft. Allow only encrypted data to be downloaded to portable storage devices.

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MarshaTripp

Marsha Tripp

“We’re saving everyone’s time and effort by asking a few questions up front,” she explains. “We need to ask clients, ‘What do you have in mind?’  What do you mean when you ask about Obamacare?’” After all, when someone asks about “Obamacare,” he or she may be referring to the requirement to carry health insurance, potential penalties, new benefits or subsidies. This is why Marsha and her colleagues work hard to “delve a little bit deeper and find out what people are actually asking;  what do they want to know and where can we help.”

For example, Marsha first needs to know if a customer currently has medical insurance, and if so, what level of coverage it provides, how satisfied the customer is with that insurance, and what role the person’s employer plays in providing that coverage. Then, Marsha helps the customer understand the new terminology of medical insurance.

“There’s a whole other language out there,” she explains. Plus, benefits look different than they used to, so Marsha takes time to make sure her customers know what benefits are called, how their prices are figured out, and what options might work best for them.

“Prior to the Affordable Care Act, you’d take the employee’s age or the applicant’s age on an individual application, and the whole family would be priced according to that one family member. Now, the cost is broken down into a separate price for each individual person in the family, but capping the number of dependent children under 21 to three. It could be, before ACA, that when one spouse was 60, the other spouse was 40, and it didn’t matter: you would always write the policy on the 40-year-old. But now the 60-year-old is going to get the 60-year-old price, and the 40-year-old is going to get the 40-year-old price, and so on.”

This is just one of the changes that the Affordable Care Act has brought about, so it’s no wonder that getting health insurance can seem confusing or even impossible.

Marsha believes that the Connecticut Access Health CT website is “as user-friendly as possible.” She points out, though, that “there are a lot more choices [than there used to be]. That’s where a broker comes into play. We understand how the system operates. We understand what the questions mean. We understand the plans, and what the benefits are of each plan. What may look like a very inexpensive plan may not be, depending upon how and where you use the plan and what your personal need is for using the benefits under the plan.”

So while contacting Marsha, or any of the other health benefits specialists at Tracy-Driscoll, may seem like yet another step in an already long and confusing process, it’s a step that could save you time, stress, and even money in the end.  To get started, contact Marsha today at (860) 314-4584 or email her at mtripp@tracy-driscoll.com.

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Take a minute to count the number of cellphones, TVs, computers, gaming systems and music players in your home. Do you own more than 5, 15 or even 25 devices? What are they all worth? Your homeowners or renters insurance policy might not cover your electronics, so learn how to insure all your valuable devices.

Check Your Homeowners or Renters Insurance Policy

Under the Contents section of your policy, take a look at what’s covered. If your electronics aren’t specifically mentioned, ask your agent for details about available coverage. Remember to ask if your devices are covered in case they’re damaged accidentally, dropped, immersed in liquid, cracked, vandalized, stolen or affected by a power surge.

Think About Actual Versus Replacement Value

You may have purchased your computer a few years ago for $300, but replacing it with a comparable model today may cost $700. Be sure your insurance policy covers the cost of replacing all your electronic devices. The extra premium you’ll pay is usually only a few dollars but pays for itself multiple times over if you need to file a claim.

Consider the Deductible

Most policies include a $500 deductible that’s your responsibility to pay if you file a claim. Your deductible might even be higher if you’re on a strict budget. Include that deductible into your calculations as you decide how much coverage you need for your devices.

Keep Thorough Records

Insurance companies typically need to see proof before they pay a claim. So, carefully store all your receipts when you purchase electronics and accessories. Additionally, record the serial numbers and take pictures of all your insured devices. Copies of these records should be kept in a fireproof safe and at a friend’s house or safe deposit box. Update the records as you buy, sell and upgrade electronics.

Call Tracy-Driscoll today at 860-589-3434 to add the necessary electronics coverage you need. Then, stay in touch, enjoy your favorite tunes and watch the movies you like with peace of mind.

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Avra A

Avra Aubin

Avra Aubin, a personal lines sales associate at Tracy-Driscoll, is proud of what she calls the agency advantage. Thanks to the agency advantage, “you have a more personal relationship with the agency than you would have with a larger insurance organization,” she explains.

That personal touch is evident from a customer’s very first phone call to Tracy-Driscoll, when a person, not a machine, answers the phone. There is no automated voice system save for voice mail, and there are no automated services. Every time someone calls, a person answers.

When a customer—either prospective or existing—inquires about coverage, the agency advantage can help the customer save money. Simply providing a quick quote on possible policies is really a disservice. “It’s not just order-taking,” Avra says. “I try to explain the reasons why [a particular policy is a particular price] and what we’re going to do over the course of our relationship to get that price down.”

Tracy-Driscoll’s relationships with over 15 insurance companies help the agency speak for their customers and get the coverage needed within their financial parameters. Recently, Avra worked with a customer who’d experienced a significant loss, and her insurance company elected to not renew her policy. “I was able to place her coverage and get her a very good rate. That’s 100 percent because of all the relationships that we have with the underwriters.”

Through the agency advantage, customers receive all the information they need to choose the best policy, because every individual and situation is different. Familiarity with companies that specialize in younger drivers, for example, can help Tracy-Driscoll find the best policy at the best possible price. “When life changes, we can change with you,” Avra promises.

Of course, the agency advantage doesn’t stop once a customer has the most appropriate policy, because the agency automatically reviews policies on a regular basis. As Avra explains, “If you have a crazy increase, we’re going to look at that. We have specific teams within our agency who handle those individual needs, such as increases in policies that just do not make sense, so that we can take care of our customers and make sure that they’re satisfied. They’re not paying more than they should, and they’re not insured for less or more than they should be.”

And that is the agency advantage.

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“Term” and “whole” life insurance are phrases thrown about quite frequently in the insurance world. You may well have some idea of the definitions of each without really understanding their effect. So what is the actual impact on daily life of each type of life insurance?

Whole Life Insurance

Put as simply as possible, whole life is an insurance contract that combines life insurance with a savings plan. You may also hear whole life referred to as permanent insurance. Whole life premiums are higher compared to those for term insurance due to their cash value option (savings). You see, after 30 years of paying on this type of policy, you can either cash it out as a lump sum, or you can use the cash value to continue paying the premiums. Thus, you can keep the insurance policy for your entire life.

Term Life Insurance

Term insurance, on the other hand, is life insurance which has a start and stop date –hence the name “term life insurance.” A typical term policy has a term of 15 to 20 years. The premiums are much lower than those for whole life for the same insurance coverage simply due to the fact that there is no savings option; you are paying for insurance coverage alone. Some term policies offer the option of renewing for another term once they expire, but of course the premiums will be much higher at that point because of your age.

Whole vs. Term

The practical differences between term and whole life insurance come down to need. If you need insurance for only a specific time frame, then term insurance is your best bet. However, if you are looking for life insurance with level premiums for 30 years or more that will accumulate cash value during that time, then whole life insurance may be a better option. Your financial adviser can help you decide which is the best choice in your unique situation.

Give Tracy-Driscoll a call at (860) 589-3434 with any questions you may have on life insurance.

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