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In a world filled with uncertainties, one practical shield stands ready to protect us from life’s unexpected twists and turns – insurance. It’s more than just a contract; it’s a promise of security and peace of mind. Whether you’re a homeowner or a leader in business, understanding the nuances of insurance is key to safeguarding what matters most to you.
Property insurance is a pillar of protection for homeowners and renters alike. We’ll uncover the secrets of securing your sanctuary against the unforeseen – from natural disasters to unexpected mishaps. You’ll learn how to choose the right coverage to shield your property, making it more than just a house; it’s your home.
We’ll demystify the various types of policies and show you how life insurance can be a beacon of financial security for your loved ones in times of need. It isn’t just about preparing for the unexpected; it’s a testament to your enduring love and commitment.
In the world of business insurance, where risk and reward intersect, protecting your hard-earned success is paramount. We’ll explore how the right insurance coverage can shield your business from setbacks and help it thrive in an ever-changing landscape.
Policies with a Purpose: The Importance of Life Insurance
There’s no doubt that your passing will leave a hole in someone’s life. Your presence, laughter, friendship, and maybe that dish you cook the absolute best will be missed beyond measure – it’s the price we pay for love. Your death could also leave a financial gap in your loved one’s lives, especially if you are the primary or majority provider for your family’s needs.
“The purchase of a life insurance policy is the single, most thoughtful gift you could purchase for your family,” says local State Farm agent Shayne Laughlin. “In fact, unlike car or home insurance, I can tell you that it is the only product I sell that I know, without a doubt, you will use some day.”
If you polled the public, the chief complaint surrounding life insurance would probably be the cost of a policy. Laughlin says the key is to lock in those rates early in life. “The biggest issue I see is that people typically don’t start thinking about life insurance until after age 40, and at that point it’s more costly.” She adds, “It’s never too early. Purchasing policies on your children is inexpensive and guarantees them coverage for life at that premium. They can assume the policy and payments when they are of age.”
Typically, as people advance in age, they are more prone to develop health issues which can make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to obtain coverage. That’s why Laughlin advises that, at the very least, you should purchase a policy with enough money to cover funeral expenses and a burial of your choosing. “Going without life insurance is, simply put, a poor decision,” she says. “We pay for cell phones and other luxuries that will never put food in our families’ mouths. But, for that cost, most people can have an adequate life insurance policy.”
Laughlin is passionate about life insurance for her clients. “My mother passed away when she was 38 years old,” she says. “She had a State Farm life insurance policy that gave my dad and our family time to grieve and figure out how to move forward with our life, our family, and the business they owned together. We think we are promised tomorrow but the reality is that we aren’t and death leaves a lot to be figured out.”
Term? Whole? What’s the deal? The names of these policies line it out. A term policy is purchased for a set term and expires at the age listed in the policy. It is not meant to last your lifetime and, while it can be an asset, Laughlin advises you shouldn’t have it be your stand-alone policy. “Term life insurance is a useful tool in planning for your financial future, but a whole life insurance policy will pay out upon your death no matter what age.” Whole life insurance is just like it sounds; you are covered for the entirety of your life.
Another ill-advised stand-alone policy is a life insurance policy secured through an employer as part of an employee benefits package. “If that option is available to you, you should get as much as you can, because it’s usually inexpensive, but you don’t own that policy. If you change jobs, become disabled, or retire, you no longer have life insurance,” says Laughlin. “It is necessary to purchase a policy independent of your employer that will always be yours, regardless of employment.”
The other burning question on most people’s minds is “how much life insurance should I get?” As you would expect, in something as nuanced as life, it depends on your situation. Primary earners should aim to include a multiple of their yearly income, to help their dependents sustain their customary lifestyle while they adjust to their new normal. Other things to consider include debts, liquid assets, and real estate. A licensed life insurance agent can walk you through the appropriate amount for your unique situation.
“Don’t leave your family unprotected,” says Laughlin. “There are so many hurdles to clear when a loved one passes away. Knowing you are leaving behind a plan is a lasting and final act of love.”
Navigating Homeowner’s Insurance
In the ever-evolving landscape of homeownership, securing the right insurance coverage is paramount to ensure peace of mind, especially here in Southwest Louisiana. There’s no doubt that the current market is in turmoil and much work remains to be done to fix it. However, in the meantime, homeowners still need insurance. So, what should you be looking for to ensure you are covered and what should you know about your policy? Alisha Ashby, local Goosehead agent, shares the following guidelines to keep you informed and knowledgeable about your policy.
Understanding the Basics of Deductibles
Homeowner’s insurance is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and Alisha emphasizes this point. “One of the biggest misconceptions I encounter is that all policies are the same,” she says. “In reality, homeowner’s insurance is highly customizable, tailored to the unique needs of each homeowner.” However, deductibles are one thing that everyone should be well versed on.
All Other Perils (AOP) deductibles are used for every type of damage other than hurricane or wind/hail such as fire, lightning, or theft. These deductibles are typically set at a flat rate dollar amount such as $2,500.
Hurricane, tropical cyclone, or named-storm deductibles are applicable in the event a named storm causes damage to your household. “It is important to note that this deductible goes into effect once an advisory, watch or warning for a named storm has been issued for your area and for up to 72 hours after the watches and warnings expire,” says Ashby. “This time frame can vary by carrier. It is important to read the definition of your particular deductible in your policy. So, for example, if you have broken windows that happened from strong wind gusts that occurred prior to landfall or up to 72 hours after may be considered under the hurricane deductible. Many customers do not realize this window exist.” These deductibles are typically applicable per calendar year and range from 2 percent to 5 percent of the home’s insured value. “It’s important that customers understand that the deductible percentage is based on the dwelling A coverage amount and not the amount of the damage,” Ashby says.
Wind/hail deductibles apply to damage that occurs to a home for all windstorms and hail including hurricanes, unless you have a separate hurricane deductible. “We frequently experience strong storm cells in Southwest Louisiana where the wind gusts have damaged our property from limbs flying off trees or objects thrown into the air. That is what this deductible is for,” Ashby says. This deductible has a percentage applied to all instances that occur regardless of the number of wind/hail events.
Older Home Updates
For many carriers, roofs can be a huge pain point. “Homes with roofs older than 10 years can be challenging to secure good rates for and may have coverage modifications such as a roof claim payout schedule for a wind/hail or hurricane loss,” says Ashby. “If you have an older roof, the payout schedule on a claim may mean you’re coming out of pocket should a loss occur.” If replacing your roof isn’t feasible, it’s important to understand how your policy will pay out. If you do replace your roof, always obtain a paid in full receipt from your roofer or contractor and contact your agent right away to update your policy. Some carriers now offer new roof discounts and better replacement coverage.
This same process goes for any major updates or replacements to home systems including HVAC, plumbing, electrical, water heater, etc. “If you make any updates on these systems to bring them up to code, contact your agent to update your policy,” Ashby says. “You may realize some costs savings as a result.”
Review Your Policy Regularly
Over the years, homeowners’ needs change, so it’s essential to revisit your policy periodically. “Life events like renovations, additions, or the purchase of valuable items can affect your coverage requirements,” she says. “Don’t wait for an emergency to discover that you’re underinsured.”
Ashby suggests conducting an annual policy review with your agent to ensure your coverage aligns with your current circumstances.
A comprehensive policy typically covers five primary areas:
DWELLING COVERAGE: This protects your home’s structure, including walls, roof, floors, and built-in appliances, from various perils like fire, vandalism, or severe weather.
PERSONAL PROPERTY COVERAGE: It extends coverage to your belongings, such as furniture, electronics, and clothing, in case they are damaged, stolen, or destroyed.
ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSES (ALE): If your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss, ALE helps with temporary living expenses like hotel stays and meals.
OTHER STRUCTURES: helps pay to repair or replace structures other than your home, such as a fence, if they are damaged by a covered risk
LIABILITY COVERAGE: covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people.
Protecting Your Business with Amerisafe
In the heart of DeRidder, Louisiana, an insurance company with a remarkable legacy stands tall, providing a lifeline to businesses operating in high-risk industries. Workers’ compensation insurance is a vital safety net that plays a pivotal role in protecting both businesses and their employees. This essential coverage offers financial and medical support in the event of workplace injuries or illnesses, ensuring the well-being of the workforce and the stability of the company.
AMERISAFE, a pioneer in the industry, has been protecting companies for over three decades; specializing in small to mid-size companies, particularly those engaged in high-hazard sectors such as construction, trucking, logging and lumber, agriculture, manufacturing, maritime, telecommunications, and roofing.
On its face, workers’ compensation insurance shields businesses from the potentially crippling financial consequences of workplace accidents. Without this coverage, companies could face substantial legal costs, fines, and even bankruptcy. But AMERISAFE’s commitment to safety is what propels them to the front of the pack in workers’ compensation providers.
The in-house safety team provides one-to-one consulting for policyholders on safety procedures, training, policies, and ongoing maintenance to ensure that, above all, people are protected. It’s a practice that has earned this Southwest Louisiana company a policyholder retention rate of over 90 percent. The long-standing partnerships that AMERISAFE focuses on building are a key component to not only the success of their company, but to the success of their clients’ companies.
One of the unique aspects of AMERISAFE is its status as a one-stop shop for all insurance-related needs. Unlike some competitors who outsource various services, AMERISAFE employs everyone required to deliver comprehensive insurance solutions, from sales and safety experts to claims specialists. This holistic approach allows them to provide personalized, high-quality service to every client.
Promoting safety as the top priority means continually reinforcing training and providing the resources necessary for management and employees. Through a partnership with Evolved Safety, AMERISAFE is able to offer free and reduced priced training to their policyholders through a 24/7 online platform. These trainings ensure employers are meeting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
For employees, workers’ compensation insurance is a lifeline that guarantees access to medical treatment and wage benefits in the aftermath of workplace injuries or illnesses. It ensures that employees receive prompt and appropriate care, contributing to their recovery and overall well-being. This coverage offers peace of mind to employees, knowing that they are protected in the event of an accident or occupational illness. It eliminates the need for costly and protracted legal battles to secure compensation.
Workers’ compensation insurance is not just a financial requirement; it’s a fundamental component of responsible business practices. It safeguards businesses from financial ruin, supports the physical and financial well-being of employees, and fosters a culture of safety and trust within the workplace. Ultimately, it’s an investment that ensures businesses and employees can navigate the challenges of the modern workforce with confidence and security.
In a world where risks are inherent, AMERISAFE stands as a guardian, offering a shield of protection to those who keep our communities thriving. Their legacy of reliability, dedication, and excellence continues to be a source of pride for DeRidder, Louisiana, and a beacon of security for businesses across 27 states.