Insurance Tip-Act NOW!

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Just a reminder to disconnect your garden hoses if you haven’t already! The Weather Service predicts lows in the single digits so to prevent freeze damage to your hose spigot, disconnect the garden hose so the spigot can drain properly. If the spigot does freeze and burst the pipe, you may not be aware of it until next spring when you use the hose again. A ruptured pipe can do significant damage in a very short period of time. An ounce of prevention can save thousands of gallons of water in your basement! We want you to keep your deductible and not spend it on home repairs!
Regards and stay warm!
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–How to avoid freezing pipes–

Unoccupied buildings are susceptible to damage especially when Mother Nature sends an unpredictable wave of frigid air across the country.
freezing-pipes-2We usually associate freezing pipes with cold climate states, but temperatures low enough to freeze or damage pipes can happen anywhere in the country.  The water damage can be more severe when pipes burst in areas considered to be “warm” because proper precautions and action plans are not in place.

Here are some tips to aid policyholders in protecting their properties:

  • Turn on the heat to keep the entire building warm.
  • Confirm cracks or wall penetrations are sealed, and doors and windows are securely closed.
  • Install devices to shut off water in the event a pipe leaks and water is flowing.
  • Inspect/replace appliances and water supply lines as recommended by the manufacturer, and when damage is observed.
  • Insulate or apply heat tape to water pipes, including wet sprinkler system pipes.
  • Install a monitoring system for building temperature.
  • Heat sprinkler control valve/fire pump rooms with UL approved devices.
  • Develop a plan and locate all water shut-off valves so quick action can be taken for a leak.
  • Use a qualified service or individual for interior inspections during weather events or any extended unoccupied periods to confirm the security of the property.

When small problems go undetected, they become big problems.  Business and rental property owners should prepare for events or seasons when buildings may go unoccupied for a planned or unplanned period of time.

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For your auto and home insurance coverage, should you go through an agent or online?

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For many people, the convenience of buying insurance online from the provider or from an 800 number is appealing; but when a CRISIS hits, it is in YOUR BEST INTEREST to have an agent who is LOCAL, whom you know personally and can serve as a liaison between yourself and the insurance carrier. It is always most beneficial to have your auto-home-life insurance, all with the same company.

At our agency, we know YOU personally, you never have to confirm your name, address, or give a policy number when you call. We take the time to meet and sit down with our clients and to do a review of all their policies. If you talk with an “800 Insurance Company” you’ll never speak to the same person twice and they have no idea who you are as a person and what coverage you need. If there is a serious claim, it’s doubtful that you could ever find the employee of the “800 Insurance Company” to ask them why they sold you the coverage that they did.

In times of trouble, our agency goes to bat for you. We help file the claim, we can speak the adjusters, and help out with any unforeseen situations related to the claim. This is especially important, especially with weather-related incidents where there can be quite a large area off affected clients. We’re here to be an advocate YOU, if something is not being addressed promptly or if there is a communication issue, we’ll help you resolve it quickly and get you back where you belong.

Another great attribute of having Farmers Insurance is that we only work with our own adjusters, meaning  the adjuster inspecting the damage is someone who is knowledgeable with Farmers Insurance policies. Many online insurers (as well as independent insurance agencies) use independent adjusters, who may not be as familiar with each insurer’s claims. This can cause larges delays as well as unfavorable outcomes when you have a claim.

For a review of your coverage, give us a call anytime 816-795-5977.

Claims, Claims, Claims-What your agent did NOT tell you.

In last month or so, I’ve had 2 vastly difference scenarios with 2 different insurance carriers, both “name brands.”  I’ve changed the name to protect the guilty!  It’s sad that the scenario happened, but the claims service you receive from your insurance carrier can be vastly different from one carrier to another.

Insurance Company A-Client files a home claim Oct 5. They drag their feet and finally send out an adjuster on Oct 31. However this adjuster is not an employee of Brand A, they are a ‘independent adjuster’ who is not allowed to bring the claim to completion (and submit payment to the insured). They are allowed (by law) to take 10 days to complete the claim after inspection. The took the entire 10 days to process the claim and the check. Claim closed Nov 9
**Process time from claim filing to claim closed—-
**35(THIRTY FIVE DAYS)

Farmers client (my insured). Files home claim Nov 8th. Due to high claims volume from the Liberty hail storms 2 weeks ago, our adjuster (who is a FARMERS employee), works OVERTIME on a SUNDAY. Client gets their check in hand before the adjuster leaves their home on Sunday Nov 13.
**Process time from claim filing to claim closed—-
**5 (FIVE) DAYS.

If you know of someone who has had a claims ‘runaround’ those are great referrals for me. We are proud of our company, offer great service, take care of our clients, and most importantly proud of our claims service. #WeAreFarmers 

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Homeowners and Renters–Tips for Holiday Security

The FBI reports that nearly 400,000 burglaries occur between November and December each year in the United States, but some burglars can be deterred; here are some tips:

  • Do not hide spare keys under flowerpots or doormats.
  • Use a timer to turn household lights on and off even if you’re not home. Burglars watch for occupancy cues especially unlit homes.
  • Do not display your Christmas tree and presents in front of easy-access windows.
  • Keep your windows and doors, including sliding doors, secured and locked.
  • Make sure you’re home to accept any packages that are scheduled for delivery. If not, request that the packages are left with a trusted neighbor, the post office, or shipped to your work address.
  • Request to suspend your mail if you are going out of town or on vacation.
  • Do not leave notes on your door announcing that you’re away from home.
  • Do not leave empty boxes from high-priced items outside your home for trash collection. Burglars would love nothing more to swipe your brand new flat screen TV, your children’s newest game system, and your computer.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to check up on your home if you’re out of town.
  • Arm your security system if you have one installed and monitored. Studies show that homeowners with security systems only arm them 50% of the time.

Moving and Selling Your Home? What To Do When Your House Is Vacant

Selling your home can be a stressful process, especially when it doesn’t move quickly.  With a new job looming, you may have no choice but to leave the home vacant for a short time until it sells.

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So is there a problem?  Truthfully there can be.  When you have a homeowner’s policy, on of the insurance company’s requirement is that the property is “Owner Occupied.”  Since you no longer occupy the property, generally these now vacant homes fall under different insurance rules and can leave you at risk.  Homes are typically considered vacant when the utilities are shut off and/or furniture has been removed.

Insurance companies view a vacant home as a higher risk.  There are more opportunities for vandalism and no one living there to protect the home from fire or storm damage should they occur.

So what should you do when moving?

First you need to talk to your insurance agent and get the details on your policy.  Since policies vary by state and insurance company, there is no single right answer.

Explain the situation to your agent.  Ask what coverage is included and what is excluded (specifically for vandalism as well as water damage).  And find out what changes can be made to protect your home.

Selling a home doesn’t always follow a quick timeline.  If you’re facing the possibility of leaving your home vacant, contact us first  and find out how to best protect yourself and your property.

We are always here to answer your questions. Call 816-795-5977 or email anytime-jolson3@farmeragent.com

 

Are you looking for a career rather than looking for “just another job”?

Our Agency is expanding and we are looking to add an additional inside sales/customer service representative.

Job Purpose: This is a small insurance business environment that is very fast-paced and requires an Inside Sales / Customer Service Rep. who is creative, a self-starter, and a hard worker. Must be able to be punctual, multi-task, and work well under pressure with great customer service skills. This can be a career rewarding opportunity for you to grow with us!

Hours: Monday-Friday: 8:30am-5:00pm

Responsibilities includes (but not limited to):
1) Provide prompt, accurate, and friendly service by responding to inquiries from existing policyholders and the general public regarding insurance, policy changes, billing clarification, and payment plans.

2) Timely and courteous follow up with prospective and current clients regarding current insurance policies as well as additional insurance policies.

3) Provide service in a pleasant and courteous manner.

4) Meet customer service goals and assist with marketing goals as directed by the upper management.

5) Perform other related duties as assigned by the upper management.

Qualifications:

-High School Diploma minimum. 4 year college degree preferred.
-Technological Savvy: Computer experience with Word, Excel, and Outlook is mandatory
-Experience in Social Media-Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Blogs, Pinterest
-Communication Skills: Strong listening, oral, and written communication skills
-Initiative and Self-Reliance: Make decisions on a timely basis and take necessary actions without directions from others
-Problem solving ability: Apply and balance conceptual and analytical thinking by breaking down complex problems, evaluating alternative sources of action and their likely outcomes, and selecting the best alternative.
-Goal oriented:  Highly motivated and resourceful to achieve results
-Truthfulness & Respect: Proven track record of trustworthiness, dependability and ethical behavior with the ability to learn and apply product and customer knowledge to professionally service policy holders
-Experience in service, sales, and/or retail sales is desirable.
-Must be able to pass a background check and be able to pass 2 tests for insurance licenses with 60 days of hire (this includes Property/Casualty and Life/Health).
Starting pay DOE and pay increase and opportunity to earn commissions after successfully passing insurance exams.

Please email resume, references, and cover letter to careers@olsoninsurancekc.com

The Worst Part of My Job is….

Want to know the worst part of my job? Telling people it’s too late. Here’s a fact. We will ALL die. Everyone of us. We will get sick and assuming we aren’t killed in an accident we will be too sick for anyone to insure us at some point. And you know who will be left to figure out the puzzle?

YOUR KIDS.     YOUR HUSBAND.      YOUR WIFE.      YOUR FAMILY.

DO NOT do this to them. The most heart breaking of conversations that happen in my office are the ones that are too late. Work life insurance policies are great, but they don’t last beyond retirement, OR if you get sick, OR if you quit them OR if they let you go. Does that seem like a lot of variables to you? It does to me.  But I HAVE A SOLUTION-Purchase a life insurance policy that YOU OWN, not your employer.  You pay for it directly, you can see the policy and hold it, You can update beneficiaries easily as needed. Trust me and start something now, so your kids don’t have to beg someone later.
‪#‎WhoIsYourAgent‬?

Still not convinced? See our other article on “Fool’s Gold

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Click on the picture for simple, easy ways to help pay for your life insurance.

To set up a personal assessment and to get coverage in place that is the correct coverage for you and your family call 816-795-5977 or email jolson3@farmersagent.com to set up a meeting. We can meet in person at our office, at your home, or even talk over the phone.

What you NEED TO KNOW about Homeowner’s Insurance

Everybody who owns a home and has a mortgage has to have home insurance—but understanding the policy in it’s entirety?  Well as your agent and insurance adviser we know you’re not wizards at this stuff and that’s why we have such an important job. It’s truly about education.

Here are seven things that smart homeowners need to understand when shopping and comparing policies.

1. Insurance companies look at replacement cost, not market value

Did you get a ‘good deal’ when you bought your current home?  Did it appraise for $325,000 but you only paid $305,000?  Do you think your home insurance policy should list the coverage on your home for exactly $305,000 then since that’s what you just paid for the house?  Not so fast, my friend.  In the event of a claim what do you want your policy to do?  The answer of course is to REPLACE/REPAIR the damage whether it was to the structure or your contents after your deductible is met.

When you buy a house here are factors that affect the house value: age of the house, size of the lot, school district, local neighborhood–just to name a few.

There are a myriad of factors that go into determining a homes replacement cost including but not limited to: age of the house, square footage, style of the house, number of bathrooms, if there’s a basement and if the basement is finished, number of garages, square footage of the deck. I think you get the idea.

 

2. You should never, ever ignore water or flood risk

Planning to skip flood coverage because you’re in the middle of the high plains? Think again. Lakes, rivers, and oceans aren’t your only watery concerns. Forgetting about your sump pump or sewer can be a catastrophic mistake.

Back up of sewer or drain is NOT COVERED under any company’s base home insurance policy. You have to select additional coverage (typically from $5,000-$25,000) and pay and additional premium for coverage. The #1 cause of this type of claim is a failed sump pump. Even brand new ones can fail if you have heavy rains for several days or if you lose power during a storm.

If there is a power failure and it causes the pumps to fail and you have flooding in the basement this is the ONLY way that you’ll have coverage; otherwise you’re on your own to clean up the mess and repair any damage.

3. Don’t use insurance for maintenance issues

Making a claim on your home insurance will likely cause your premium to rise. That’s no fun for anyone, so unless you have a major catastrophe it’s always best to contact the agent first to discuss the situation to see if it merits filing a claim.

Also, too many claims could result in cancellation of your policy. So keep your claim activity to a minimum.  As a general rule of thumb I would suggest not turning in a claim unless the total amount of damage is twice your deductible or more.

Gone are the days of using your home insurance for maintenance issues that arise from daily wear and tear. Insurance should only be used for larger claims or catastrophic incidents.  If you do have multiple claims in a short time period (2 claims in 3 years; 3 claims in 5 years) it will be very difficult to move your insurance when you choose to shop. No insurance carrier wants a client who is “claim happy.”

Want another way to think about your home insurance? Here is another thought– When you use your home insurance, it should be with a sense of “Thank God I have insurance.”

4. Tell us before remodeling your home

Very seldom do our clients tell us about home renovations until well after the fact. But letting us know what you thinking or planning on doing can help eliminate some surprises down the road.  If you don’t, otherwise you might find yourself paying some big bucks in either premiums or lack of proper coverage down the road.

Not only do you want to ensure any possible mishaps are covered under your policy, but your insurer likely will need to reassess your property, especially if renovations affect the value of your house.

Some renovations—like a new roof—can lower your premiums by as much as 25%. But others, like putting in a pool or trampoline, can cause your premiums increase due to liability concerns. In fact some insurance carriers will cancel or non renew your policy if you have an unfenced pool or unfenced trampoline. Double check with us before finalizing construction plans.

5. Buying insurance isn’t “like shopping for gas”

Understanding the intricacies of your policy can be immensely overwhelming, tempting many homeowners to shop exclusively for the lowest price. But being more methodical can make a huge difference.

Don’t view buying insurance like shopping for gas.  You are buying coverage for the MOST EXPENSIVE  possessions that you own. Make sure to ask plenty of questions, such as ‘Is this replacement cost policy or actual cash value?’ and ‘what are limits on my personal property (jewelry, guns, etc)?’

Go through your policy with us every 1-2 years, asking questions whenever you’re confused. We do this for all our clients; it’s called a Farmers Friendly Review.  Don’t feel bad about asking questions, that’s what we’re here for.

Insurance can scare even the most educated consumer. So take your time, ask questions, and don’t just go with the cheapest price because seldom is that the best decision.

6. Insurance is not a conspiracy theory.. No, seriously.

Believe it or not, we (your insurance company) don’t set out to smash your dreams of reimbursement with an iron hammer. And we are not the type of company to cancel your insurance if you have a claim or two.

One area that makes things very difficult as an agent are people who think the insurance companies are out to deny every possible legitimate claim.  There is not a vast conspiracy against the clients.

You might not want to believe it but we (the insurance company) do want to keep you happy. And sure, we also want to protect the bottom line as well.

7. Don’t get frustrated about increasing premiums

As your agent and adviser of choice we are your ally. Remember: We are not the ones setting the rates or raising your premiums. You might be upset, but just give us a call to understand what exactly is happening with your policy.

Remember we are NOT the the insurance company, but we understand that we are your liaison between the insurance company and yourself as the client. We understand that increases are difficult on you as the insured.

If you have an issue with your coverage or rate, remain calm during discussions.  What we do is to go over the coverage line by line and see if you’re eligible for any new discounts or if dropping a coverage or raising a deductible might be a good fit for your situation.
If you’re a client and it’s time for a review call 816-795-5977 or email jolson3@farmersagent.com.

If you’re not currently a client and have learned something in this post that you should’ve been taught by your agent years ago, contact us today for your personalized proposal.
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I Am Starting a New Business and Need Insurance, What Should I do?

Congrats on starting your own business!  It can be exciting, nervous, scary, and overwhelming all at the same time!

One of the first things that you need to do before you sign a lease, sell a product, or open your doors to the public is to get proper business insurance set up.

Most people will go straight to their auto, home, and life agent for a policy quote and then buy the policy without completely understanding the coverage and the risks of their business and this can be a HUGE mistake.

The issue at hand is having the correct coverage. Most State Farm, Allstate, Farmers, American Family agents know auto/home/life policies but don’t completely understand commercial or business policies. This equates either paying too much for the coverage or paying for a policy that WILL NEVER help you if you truly did need it. Also all of the above companies only carry general liability and NOT professional liability. Not every business needs professional liability but quite a few do and often they don’t realize it. I represent Farmers Insurance and we write quite a bit of commercial policies with Farmers but if it’s a hard to place business or something that we cannot write thru Farmers I can broker it to a carrier who will help place the risk.  If you’re are either starting a business or if you’re not comfortable that your agent sold you the correct coverage at the correct price, give us a call at 816-795-5977 or email at jolson3@farmersagent.com.

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