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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.

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.

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.,

Is Long Term Care Insurance right for you?

Long Term Care - Be Prepared

Is Long Term Care Insurance right for you?  You need to ask that question.

Well tax day, April 15, 2019, is behind us now.  Taxes are paid or you received an extension.  Taxes are bittersweet.  They take money out of our pockets but yet provide much needed services.  I don’t have a problem paying my fair share.

But how much is fair?  We work every day and try to put money aside in 401K plans or IRAs so we can have a secure retirement. Our retirement assets could well be our largest asset.  Do you protect that asset?

The chance of a house fire is 1 in 300 but we would not hesitate to get homeowner’s insurance. The chance of an auto accident is 1 in 30 and it is required in Pennsylvania that we have auto insurance. The chance that you will need long term care is 4 in 10 yet few of us have any insurance to protect our retirement assets from the dangers of expensive long term care.

Genworth’ 2018 cost of care report tells us that the average cost in the Philadelphia area for a home health aide is $54,912 a year. The cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $124,465 a year.  How long would it take to use up your retirement assets to pay these costs?

Long term care policies have only been around since the 1970s.  But they really did not catch on until the 1980s and 90s.  There was very little data to help insurance companies set rates for these products so as a result costs have gone up dramatically over the years.  Some policies had multiple increases of 15% or more.

In the last few years many new options have been introduced by life insurance companies.  These new policies referred to as hybrid policies are life insurance policies that contain long term care riders.  These riders allow you to take out a percentage of your life insurance death benefit early to help pay for long term care costs. If set up properly these payments would be tax free.  For example if you have a $250,000 life insurance policy, one company’s rider would allow you to take out 4% a month ($10,000) to help pay your long term care costs.  When your death benefit is exhausted the policy ends and there would be no life insurance.  However, if you never need long term care or die before using all the benefit then the remainder of the life insurance benefits would be paid to your beneficiary.

Many clients we talk to are not aware of these options.  Since these policies are life insurance you need to be healthy to get the coverage.  Also, the younger you are the less the cost.  Contact Spencer Insurance agency to learn your options.  Don’t assume these policies are not affordable for you.

Let us help you protect those retirement assets you spent years accumulating.

Join Spencer Insurance on the NAMIWalks

It’s not too late to join us!

 

Join Spencer Insurance on the NAMIWalks . . .

Spencer Insurance will once again support team “Take it in Stride” for the 2019 NAMIWalks. As the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website states “Every journey begins with that first step. Through NAMIWalks Greater Philadelphia’s public, active display of support for people impacted by mental illness, we are changing our community and ensuring that help and hope are available for those in need.  The walk is a great day to promote mental health awareness and celebrate recovery!”

Many of us with loved ones who suffer through mental illness know about Nami’s commitment to educate and support.  We want to give back to NAMI for all the support services they have provided our family by our participation in the walk.

Spencer Insurance Agency will provide a “Take it in Stride” team T-Shirts to all walkers.

Go to our team page to sign up to walk with our team or if you can’t make the walk but would like to support our team go to my fundraising page. We appreciate anything you can do to make the walk a success.

Here are the details:

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Montgomery County Community College

Registration Opens: 8am | Walk Begins: 10am

 

Hope to see you there!!!

Spring is here at last.

   

Finally, Spring is here!

What a strange winter.  Hope it is over and we don’t get any surprise March/April snowstorms.

Spring brings the Spencer Insurance Spring tips.  This time of year we focus on a few things:

As always please contact us at 215-885-2200 if you have any questions.  We are here for you!

Do you have a drone?

Did you get a drone for Christmas?  I imagine they are a lot of fun.

I know the first thing you did when you purchased the drone was to call your insurance agent to see if you have property or liability coverage for your drone, right?  Well, the funny thing is that I have not received one call from a client asking if their new drone is covered.  I imagine at least one of my clients owns a drone.

The big question: “Is my drone covered under my homeowner’s insurance coverage?”  And the answer is “Maybe.”  What if you crash the drone into a person and hurt them? What happens if you crash your drone into a car and cause an accident?  If your drone is used for recreational purposes only, then you may have some coverage.  It depends on the language in your policy.  Different companies have different language.  Some limit the size of the drone to under 10 pounds.  Others companies’ policies state “we do cover model airplanes not used or designed for transporting cargo or persons.”

Did you know that all drones over .55 pounds (yes, that is only half a pound) need to be registered with the FAA (the Federal Aviation Administration)?  If you operate an unregistered drone you are subject to fines.  You may also lose your liability coverage since you are operating the drone illegally. Go to the FAA website (https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/) and make sure you know what is required.

The best thing to do is call us at 215-885-2200 and discuss your drone with us.

Why does my homeowner’s insurance premium increase every year?

We hear this question from clients so I thought some of you are probably not asking us this question but are thinking about it.  So let me answer the question.

There are many factors that will affect your homeowner’s insurance premium including making a claim and increases in replacement value coverage on your home. Weather related catastrophic losses also affect your rates even if you do not make a claim.   Also, each year the insurance company will increase your dwelling coverage to keep pace with inflation.  So you may see a 2%, 3%, or 5% increase depending on the cost of living increases for building materials in your area.  All of us know it will take more money to replace our home today than it did 20 years ago.

But these factors are not why homeowner’s insurance premiums can vary from carrier to carrier.  That is why I always ask our clients to send me a copy of any quotes they receive for a lower premium than they are paying now so I can make sure they are not losing any valuable coverage.

Think about the last time you bought a new car.  I just recently purchase a Toyota Camry.  I could have just gotten the base model but I wanted the hybrid.  I also wanted some safety features.  The one I really like is that my headlights turn when I am making a turn.  Pretty cool.  I also chose some other features that cost me extra money (a navigation system and Apple Car play for example).  I could have just gotten the basic model for less money and that would have been okay, but I wanted more features so I knew I would be paying more. So I paid the extra money and got the car I wanted.  Homeowner’s Insurance is very similar.

What I see when clients send me their quotes is that they are being quoted a basic homeowner’s policy.  Of course the premium is less because they no longer have the coverages we discussed that were important to them. If they want a basic homeowner’s policy I will sell them one IF that is all the coverage they want. But I will make sure they will know what coverage is now missing. Just like my Camry if you want more features you should expect to pay more.

As you know Spencer Insurance Agency represents several quality homeowner’s insurance companies. It seems that all our companies are coming out with new versions of their homeowner’s policy and/or new coverages. Should you switch?  Should you update to the new version? Should you add additional coverages that were not offered before?  One thing I know for sure is that you SHOULD talk to us about your policy.  Our agency tries our best to be as proactive as possible and reach out to our clients if we feel you should make changes. In a perfect world we would talk to all our clients about these updates but we are not perfect and this is not a perfect world.  We can’t get to everyone right away so feel free to call us at any time for a review.

Here are some new coverages being offered by our companies just recently:

  • Service line coverage – Now you can get the coverage you may be paying your water company for to replace a broken pipe from your house to the curb.
  • Mechanical Breakdown – Coverage for appliances, heating/air conditioning systems when they break down
  • Loss forgiveness/decreasing deductible
  • Hidden seepage coverage
  • Roof and siding matching in event of claim

Of course if you add some coverage you will be paying more premium.  You have to decide if it is worth the additional cost to have the coverage.  Just like my Camry I will pay more if I add more features/coverage. Price is important but remember the “True Cost of Insurance” includes the cost you pay out of pocket when you don’t have the proper coverage. If you want a basic homeowner’s insurance policy great, you can have it.  But if you want some better coverage you should expect to pay additional premium.  It is very hard from the policy pages to know all the coverages that are included or missing.  Let us help you.  If we can’t determine whether the quote you received or policy you have with have another agent has a certain coverage , we will tell you what to ask the other agent to make sure you do have that coverage.  Call us today for a review of any policy.

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