Charlie's Blog | Spencer Insurance Agency, Inc

Is your child settled into college?

 

Now is the time to ask “How does my college student affect my car and home insurance?

Congratulation on your child’s achievement!  As you prepare to send your child to college let’s review some important items.

Is their “stuff” covered on while at a dorm or off campus apartment?

Generally, as long as your child is a full time student, was a resident of your house before moving to college, and is under age 24 there is some coverage for the students “stuff” while they are away at school. However, that coverage is generally limited to 10% of your contents (Coverage C) on your homeowner’s policy. For example, if the contents limit on your policy is $140,000, your child would have $14,000 of coverage for the “stuff” in his dorm room. There are limitations on certain items including computers, jewelry, musical instruments and collectibles.  If your child is taking any of these items with them to school, give us a call to review.

What if my child has a roommate and they buy “stuff” together?

In this situation you should consider a Renter’s policy to cover both your child’s and roommates stuff.  As long as both children are on the lease most companies will write one renter’s policy covering both children.  Call us to discuss your situation.

How does my child going to college affect my car insurance policy?

If you have a student away at a college that is over 100 miles and they do not have a car with them, we can add a discount for “Child Away at School.”  If your child is taking their car to a college that is in the same state you reside, then we may be able to rate the car as being “garaged” at the college, rather than your household.  If the collage is out of state, however, it would need to remain as rated at your home address.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 215-885-2200 or contact us from our website and discuss your situation with our experienced staff.

Why should I use an independent agent?

Spencer Insurance Agency is a local, second generation, family, independent insurance agency located in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. The agency was founded by Edward F. Spencer and Walter R. Hauck in 1963. The family tradition continues with Ed’s sons Charlie and Steve. The agency’s personal and business clients are located throughout state of Pennsylvania especially in the Philadelphia area including Montgomery county, Delaware county, Bucks county and Chester county. With our friendly and experienced staff you can rest assured you are talking to someone that understands your insurance needs; not just another 800 number operator across the country.

Spencer Insurance Agency customizes your insurance package to reflect the risk you face in your business and at home. As Independent Insurance Agents, Spencer Insurance Agency represents several top rated insurance companies and can choose the company that has the right insurance package for your needs. We do the research for you. Spencer Insurance Agency may not be the lowest or highest price, but you will know you have the proper protection at a very competitive price At Spencer Insurance Agency, “Your Protection and Peace of Mind is our only Business!”

Call us at 215-885-2200 or contact us from our website for a review or second opinion on your coverage.

Are you getting ready to downsize and prepare for retirement?

 

Here is some information from our website about downsizing and preparing for retirement.

Your life has changed.  It is a lot different than it was a few years ago. Your children graduated from college, possibly married and are out on their own. You and your spouse are now empty nesters.  Or possibly your child has moved back into your home. Sometimes these events are good and sometimes not so good.  Grandchildren may be in your future and you look forward to spending time with them.

Your thoughts are turning more and more to the days when you are going to retire, whatever that means to you.  Today only a few people are truly ready for a financially independent retirement. You may have 10 or even 20 years to retirement and may spend 20 to 30 additional years in retirement.  Are you ready?

What is next for you?  You may be thinking about retiring, reducing your hours at work or volunteering.  What does this mean for your employment, living arrangements, hobbies and insurance needs?

It is time to start planning for your retirement, so we have put together some suggestions for you especially when thinking about your insurance needs during downsizing and retirement

What are you changing?

  • Your job– if you are considering retiring from your current job give some thought to what you will do with all that time.  You may want to look into a part time job, volunteer work or put more time into that favorite hobby.  Before you make any changes check out a few items:
    • Your health insurance – what happens to your coverage if you retire? Are you eligible for Medicare?
    • Your income – Check with a financial planner to understand how prepared you are financially before quitting your job.
    • Your health – What is the status of your health?  Will you need assistance with daily activities of life?  Is your current home appropriate living arrangements for you future?  You should discuss this with your family.
  • Your Home– You may want to consider different living arrangements.  You may decide a single family home is right for you or you may want to downsize and move into a townhouse, condo or apartment.  You may even want to discuss an independent living community or moving in with a child using an in-law suite.  Discuss your options with your family and if needed a realtor.  You also may want to make some renovations to your current home if you plan to stay there.
  • Your estate plans – Have you reviewed your will?  Are your power of attorney and medical power of attorney documents up to date?

 

How does all this affect my insurance coverage?  Let’s discuss several different insurance policies you have now that will be impacted by downsizing and/or retirement.

  • Health Insurance– What happens to this coverage if you retire?  Will your spouse lose their coverage?  Are you and your spouse eligible for Medicare?
  • Auto Insurance
    • Did you know that in Pennsylvania if you are age 55 or older you can get a discount of 5% on your auto insurance if you take a driver’s safety course called 55 Alive?  To find a location of a 55 Alive course near you contact AARP.
    • You may want to consider increasing the medical coverage on your auto policy to $1,000,000.  Although this only applies if you are injured in an auto accident, this coverage does not have deductibles or coinsurance.  You get to choose your providers.
    • Did you stop commuting?  Call us and see if your rates can be lowered since you are driving less often.
    • Check with us to see if any other discounts are available to you.
    • If you are retired, see if there is any coverage you no longer need such as work loss. You may need work loss coverage if there are others in your household who are still working so check with us.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
    • If you are considering moving, check with us to see what type of coverage you will need.  You still need property and liability coverage if you move into a condo, apartment, Independent Care Facility or Assisted Living Facility.
    • Are you changing the ownership of your home to a Trust?  Contact us to make sure that you have the proper liability and property coverage.
    • Are you purchasing a second home in another part of the state or out of state?  Check with us to see how this affects your auto and property policies.
    • Are you starting a home based business in your home?  This may void some of the coverage in your homeowner’s policy so discuss this business with us to make sure you have the proper coverage for the business.
  • Disability Insurance– Many people think that since they are considering retirement their disability policy is not important. However if you are ten years away from retirement and downsizing this is one place you should not downsize.  Many people in this situation are earning more now than ever before and putting more money away for their retirement now than before.  What would happen to your retirement income if you were unable to earn those wages for the next 10 years? This may be the most important time to have disability insurance.  See our free report: SPENCER TIPS ON “How to Protect Your Family When You Become Disabled and What You need to Know About Disability Insurance.”

 

 

  • Life Insurance– As you downsize you may be asking yourself “Do I still need life insurance?”  That is a good question and now is a good time to review your life insurance needs with us.  You may have a 20 or 30 year term that is about to expire.  Do you still need the coverage for a few more years?  Here are a few things to consider:
    • If you die will your spouse be left without your pension?
    • If you or your spouse dies will the surviving spouse get less Social Security benefits?
    • Will your mortgage or debt continue past your date of retirement?
    • Do you have any special needs children that need your support?

Check out our free report: What you need to know about Life Insurance and How to Make sure the People You Intended to get your Life Insurance Benefits Actually Get the Benefits!”

Preparing for retirement should be an exciting time of your life.  Start planning now so your years in retirement will be very enjoyable for you and your family.

How does divorce and separation affect my insurance?

 

Here is an important article from our website on how separation and divorce affects your insurance coverage.

You are thinking or have decided that separation or divorce is your only solution.  What do you do now?  We at Spencer Insurance Agency are not attorneys and do not provide legal advice.  However, we understand that separation and divorce have a huge impact on your insurance coverage.

Our goal for this article is to educate you on how divorce or separation can impact your insurance coverage.  We also intend to provide some useful links on topics that are related to your insurance.

What is the first thing I should do? Call us at 215-885-2200 or contact us from our website!!!  Discuss with us your situation so we can make sure you are properly protected while going through this process.

What you need to understand:

  • Privacy laws may prohibit or limit our staff from discussing with you information concerning your spouse.
  • We do not take sides. Since both you and your spouse are our clients, we want to make sure both of you have the proper coverage during this process.
  • We will need written authorization from you to speak to one of your advisors (lawyer, financial planner, insurance agent) concerning any of your insurance coverage.

How will separation or divorce affect my insurance coverage?  Depending on the type of insurance coverage, actions taken by you could have a huge impact on your insurance coverage.  We suggest you call us and discuss your situation. Here are some examples on the impact that divorce and separation have on your insurance protection:

  • Auto Insurance
    • Who is the named insured on your policy?  In your auto policy the words “You” and “Your” are used often to refer to the Named Insured on the Declaration page and the spouse if a resident of the same household.
      • If you are not the named insured and move out of the household, you may not have coverage under your auto policy
      • If you are not the named insured and your spouse moves out of the house, you may not  have coverage under your auto insurance
      • If your spouse is the only named insured, your spouse may be able to delete your vehicle from the auto insurance policy without your knowledge. (Note: If we don’t know you are separating, how can we protect you?)
      • Whose policy will carry your teen drivers?

What is the solution?  That depends on many factors, however it may be best for our agency to split your cars onto separate auto insurance policies

  • Homeowner’s Insurance
    • Who is the named insured on your policy?  The named insured could be one or both spouses and still cause you problems.
      • If both spouses are named insureds and one of you moves into an apartment, you have limited personal property coverage.  Your policy says that personal property at other residences is limited to 10% of your Coverage C limit on your Homeowner’s policy or $1,000, whichever is greater. In regards to liability coverage, the new residence may not be covered if coverage is not extended to that location from the original homeowner’s insurance policy.
      • If you are not a named insured on the Homeowner’s policy and you move into another residence, then you may have no personal property or liability coverage
      • If your spouse is the only named insured, your spouse may delete coverage or endorsements from the homeowner’s policy such as jewelry, musical instrument or other valuable items coverage.
      • Both Named Insureds move out leaving the property vacant.  If a home is left vacant then some of the provisions of the policy may be voided.  You may need to get a Vacant Dwelling policy for the home.

What is the solution?  You may want to purchase a renter’s policy to give you the proper coverage for your new residence.

  • Life Insurance– It is critical that you review your life insurance policies and wills when considering a separation or divorce. Don’t forget the group life insurance policies you purchased through your job.  Check out our Free Report: What you need to know about Life Insurance. . . How to Make sure the People You Intended to get your Life Insurance Benefits Actually Get the Benefits!  You need to consider the following:
    • Is the life insurance on my spouse for the benefit of our children?  What happens when that spouse dies and you no longer receive child support?  To make matters worse, what if your ex-spouse’s life insurance lapsed because of failure to pay the premium?  Discuss with us options available so this does not happen.
    • Whoever owns the life insurance can change the beneficiary at any time.  You may never know the beneficiary change was made. Consider making sure you are an irrevocable beneficiary.  However, this may not matter if the policy lapses for non-payment.
    • Do you need more or less coverage now?
    • What happens if you or your ex-spouse has children with a new spouse?  Who will benefit from the life insurance?
    • Health Insurance– Our agency does not handle Health Insurance but can recommend someone for your needs.  It is very important that you check to make sure your health insurance benefits for you and your children are not impacted by the divorce.  Know the answers before you finalize the divorce.  Check out this link from the US Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-consumer-cobra.html

Other Important topics you need to consider:

  • Wills– make sure you have updated your wills throughout this process.  Talk to an attorney.
  • Retirement plans and investments. Know your rights.  Talk to your financial planner or get one if you do not have one. Check out this link from the US Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/qdros.html
  • Social Security Benefits– Make sure you know how your benefits will be impacted by your divorce.  Check out this website from the Social Security Administration: http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/divspouse.htm

Many times the separation and divorce process can be very amicable, especially when children are involved. Even so, our agency usually learns about separation and divorce too late in the process to protect you properly.  Don’t wait until it is too late.  Call us at 215-885-2200.

This information was meant to provide you some guidance when you are considering separation or divorce.  It is not meant to be considered legal or financial advice.  Spencer Insurance Agency suggests you seek the advice of an attorney and financial planner among other professionals.  Your insurance policies will dictate what coverage is provided to you.  Nothing in this article is meant to replace your policy provisions.  Consult your policy and agent for details on coverage provisions.

School is out! Time for that talk with your teen driver . . .

 

Summer brings a break from school and an increase in the time your teen drivers spend in the car.

Here are a couple tips:

  • Spend some time with your teen driver in teaching them how to merge onto an expressway or interstate highway and practice changing lanes. Many of us will travel to vacation spots and use interstate highways. Why not use this as a teaching moment for your teen driver.
  • Set the rules for Teen Driving. Remind them of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations “5 to Drive Rules.”
    1. No cell phones while driving
    2. No extra passengers
    3. No Speeding
    4. No Alcohol
    5. Always buckle up.

 

Most accidents are caused by driver inattention and distraction. Stress safe driving habits with your teen driver. Review the parent/teen contract on our website to set expectations for your teen driver

Check out our “Parents of teen drivers” website for more tips:

  1. Links to the PA, DE and NJ Motor Vehicle departments
  2. Tips and suggestions
  3. Safe teen driver course

Contact us today to make sure you have the coverage you need with a teen driver in your home.

Are your summer toys insured?

The hot, hazy, lazy days of summer are here.   I hope you are having fun taking some time to kick back and relax.  Summer is a time to enjoy outdoor activities like golf, boating, fishing, water skiing, swimming and a barbecue.  There are a lot of summer toys like golf carts, trampolines, swimming pools, boats, jet skis, ATVs, motorcycles and motor homes,  just to name a few.

Summer is the time to enjoy these toys, but make sure you have the proper coverage.  An accident with one of these toys could lead to property damage and a lawsuit.  Are you prepared for that?  Many times people are surprised to find they have limited or no coverage under their auto and homeowner’s insurance policies for these toys.

 

Does your homeowner’s or auto insurance cover these toys?  Sometimes the answer is yes but way too often the answer is no.  Call us today at 215-885-2200 to make sure you have the proper protection or contact us from our website.

 

Let’s discuss a few of these toys. . .

  • Liability from backyard toys such as a trampoline or pool is covered by your homeowner’s insurance but there is a problem.  Due to the nature of the injury that can occur, most homeowner’s policies provide only limited coverage.  You should purchase an umbrella policy and make sure your policies don’t restrict claims from these items.
  • Jet Skis/personal watercraft– These items are fast and fun and you probably have no liability coverage under your homeowner’s policy.  You need to buy a personal watercraft policy and umbrella policy if you own a personal watercraft.  Be careful, not all umbrella policies cover your personal watercraft.  If you rent a personal watercraft while on vacation you have no liability insurance.  You are riding around with no insurance. Purchase the coverage from the marina.
  • Boats– You have some limited coverage on your Homeowner’s policy for damage to your boat, but sinking and banging the dock is not covered.  You also have limited coverage for liability as long as the boat is a sailboat under 26 feet or your boat has an outboard motor less than 25 horsepower.  If you rent a sailboat under 26 feet or a boat with an outboard motor you have some liability coverage from your homeowner’s insurance.  Why risk having limited or no coverage?  Purchase a boat policy for your boat.
  • Motorcycles or ATV – If you own a motorcycle, your auto and homeowner’s policy provide no coverage.  You need to purchase a motorcycle policy or recreational vehicle endorsement.  If you rent a motorcycle while on vacation you have no coverage from your auto policy and no coverage on your homeowner’s policy if the motorcycle requires registration (Hint – Most do!).  Hopefully the place that rented you the motorcycle can provide you insurance; otherwise you are riding around with no coverage!
  • Golf Carts– When you play a round of golf and rent a golf cart you have liability coverage under your home and auto policies.  You have some limited property damage coverage in this case.  What if you own a golf cart?  This gets tricky so talk to us.  The golf cart is covered while on a golf course, but you may need an endorsement if you travel off the golf course.

Contact us today to check your coverage or get a second opinion.

Congratulations to all our college graduates!

 

Many of our clients have sons or daughters who graduated from college.  Spencer Insurance would like to congratulate all the graduates!

As your graduate moves on in life let us help guide them in their insurance needs.  College graduates need insurance too!

What happens to your car insurance if your graduate moves out of the house and takes one of your cars or buys a new car?  What if they move to another state?  New Jersey Car insurance is not the same as Pennsylvania car insurance.

Another insurance policy that is often overlooked is renters insurance. Many young graduates feel their personal property is not worth insuring.  I know he is my son but read what Brian says about renters insurance at his Philadelphia apartment.  “Spencer Insurance Agency has always been there for me, but when it comes to renter’s insurance, they really came through. After college when I moved into my first apartment in University City, my roommate and I had never heard of renter’s insurance and had no idea it was something we should get. Luckily for us, my dad and Spencer Insurance Agency were there to keep us covered. Now, I must admit, my dad is the owner of Spencer Insurance Agency which obviously makes me bias. However, what follows is 100% true and will hopefully convince anyone that renter’s insurance is crucial for any renter, even if you don’t use Spencer Insurance Agency.

In January of 2007, a fire broke out in the row home connected to ours. The firewall between our two apartments kept the fire from spreading into ours, but it did not stop the smoke. It also did not stop the water from flooding into the apartment through the hole the firefighters cut in our ceiling to release the smoke as they put out the fire. When all was said and done, we started the process of cleaning the things that could be cleaned and replacing the things that needed replacing, as we also searched for a new apartment. Before the fire, when I was first told how much coverage we should get, I laughed at my dad, thinking there was no way the old second-hand stuff I had collected while in college was worth that much. However, the cost of coverage was cheap and I trusted my dad’s advice. When the final costs of the fire had been settled and I realized I had spent close to $15,000 cleaning/replacing everything, I was very happy I had taken his advice. I didn’t pay for a thing, just my renter’s insurance and a small deductible.

Hopefully my story will convince anyone on the fence that renter’s insurance is well worth the cost. If you decide to get it, I highly recommend Spencer Insurance Agency. Yes, Charlie is my dad, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is one of the most honest men I have ever met, and he will provide you the same level of service he does to his own son.”

I hope you listen to Brian’s advice and give me a call.  Renter’s insurance policies can cost less than $150 a year.

There are other insurance policies you should consider for your college graduate. If your graduate has student loans that you personally guaranteed then you should consider a very inexpensive term life insurance policy.

Give us a call at 215-885-2200 or contact us on our website. Check out information on other life changing events like getting married, getting divorced, having a baby, adding a teen driver or downsizing and preparing for retirement.  Check out how these life changing events impact your insurance policies.

Send your graduation pictures to me at cspencer@spencerinsurance.com.  We would love to congratulate your graduates on our Facebook page and newsletter.

Thank you to all who supported our team

What a great turnout for our team “Take it in Stride.” at the NAMIWalks at Montgomery County Community College. We had 56 walker to support mental health awareness. Thank all who donated to help us exceed our goal!! Thank you NAMI for all you do for mental health awareness and support.  Here are a few more pictures.

“Why did my car insurance rates go up when I haven’t any accidents or claims?”

Teen Driver Insurance and Resources

 

We hear this question often from our clients.  Car insurance rates for all companies have increased over the last few years and I’d like to address some of the reasons:

  • While technology in cars can make them safer on the road, it also adds to the cost to repair the car. My new Camry has five cameras to help me back up and see what is around my car. It also has lane departure warnings and helps navigate me back into the lane. I also have headlights that move as I turn my car.  All these features are great but to repair a bumper or windshield is now a lot more expensive.
  • There are more cars on the road than ever before and with stable gas prices people are driving more. More driving leads to more accidents.
  • Distracted driving. Do I need to say more?  I was on the road the other day when the driver in the car next to me was holding his cell phone to his ear talking with one hand as he drank his coffee using the other hand.  Not sure how he was driving.  It used to be when one of our clients was rear ended at a traffic light they were hit at about 10 MPH. Now due to distracted driving, drivers don’t even realize the light is red and smash into the car in front of them going 40 or 50 MPH. This leads to much more serious claims and higher payments. Over the last three years our agency has had three claims over $500,000 in liability payments.  Fortunately for two of our clients they purchased an umbrella policy that we recommended.

All these factors contribute to the rise in car insurance rates. Our goal at Spencer Insurance Agency is to make sure you are paying a competitive price for your insurance coverage. We review your renewal policy to make sure it is not out of line.  As independent agents we have several companies to choose from for your auto insurance rates.  If you ever feel your rates are too high let us know. We will check it out.  If another company’s rate seems a lot lower please call to discuss the quote with us to make sure you are getting the same coverage.  The “True Cost of Insurance” is not just the premium but also the additional out of pocket costs you incur because you had the wrong coverage.

Contact Spencer Insurance Agency for a second opinion on your car insurance.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

All of us at Spencer Insurance Agency want to wish all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day.

If you are not a mom then I hope you can celebrate the day with one.

Happy Mother’s Day  from your Friends at Spencer Insurance Agency, Inc.,

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