2
Jun

Wet Basement?

   Posted by: marty   in Homeowners Insurance

With the recent storms and heavy rainfalls, we are hearing many stories again of wet basements.  If this happens to you, here are some good things to know: Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Aspire Insurance Agency!

Thanksgiving represents a much needed reminder in our lives that we should stop and count our blessings and to thank God and the people around us who make these blessings possible.  Many of us lead such hurried lives, struggling to get from task to another that we often forget to appreciate the beauty in life. 

I for one, have much to be thankful for.  I am so blessed with a loving family, true friends, a loyal dog, a business I enjoy and that I am proud of, great customers who treat us like friends, amazing employees and beautiful fall days.

Thanksgiving is also a good time to reflect on those who may find it difficult to find things to be thankful for this year: people who are lonely, depressed, ill, out of work or worried about where they may live.  Let’s make an effort to reach out to those that could really use a hot meal, some help in the yard, a friendly visit or even just a warm smile.

Thank you all for your support and helping to make our blessings possible.  We wish you and your family a very

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Marty

Looking for a fun activity to do with the kids this week?  Try making these great Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies!

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30
Sep

Do Red Cars Cost More to Insure?

   Posted by:    in Auto Insurance

Contrary to our parents’ and grandparents’ insistence, the answer is NO.  Insurance companies are color blind when calculating your rates.  In fact, companies do not even ask the color of your car when calculating rates.

The Insurance Information Institute agrees, “It doesn’t matter if your car is red, green or purple.  What does matter is the type of car you select”.  Auto insurance premiums are based in part on the make, model, body type, engine size, age of the vehicle, garaging zip code, age of the driver, driving record and credit history.  They are also based, in part, on the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft.

Ok, but red cars are involved in more accidents and are profiled by police so they get more tickets.  Right?  Well that is the story we have all heard.  They say the color of car you choose reflects your personality.  People who choose red tend to be more adventurous.  The fact is that there really have been no significant studies to prove that red cars are involved in more accidents.  And as for being profiled and getting more tickets, this has been clearly dismissed as false by Snopes.com.

When in doubt, it is always best to consult your independent insurance agent.  These licensed professionals are qualified to help you make the right choices and clarify any confusion.

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23
May

A Recipe For Memorial Day

   Posted by:    in Just For Fun, Miscellaneous, Recipes

American FlagMemorial Day is this weekend and a great opportunity to honor our fallen soldiers and remember our lost loved ones.  It is also the unofficial start to summer and many people take this long weekend to get together with family and friends.  Lots of people will be going to cookouts and enjoying the nice weather.  Here is a recipe we thought you might enjoy trying out.  Have a great holiday weekend!

Smoked Baked Beans

4 to 6 slices bacon
1, 32 ounce can pork and beans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
3/4 cup barbeque sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses

Cook bacon to remove grease but not until crispy; cut into small pieces. Combine bacon pieces with remaining ingredients in large oven-proof dish. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. May be cooked in a smoker for 1-2 hours. If cooked in a smoker, do not add liquid smoke.

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Here is Marty to talk about how Aspire Insurance Agency strives to provide you with choices for your insurance while offering superior customer service.

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Marty RobbinsHaving been in the insurance business 23 years, I have been privileged to meet some great insurance agents over the years.  The really good ones work very hard to please their customers and are very passionate about what they do.  Unfortunately, there are also many agents who seem to do little for their present clients but collect their premiums.  Not knowing where your agent sits on this spectrum, allow me to share some information on what you should be able to expect from your insurance agent.

Your agent is in the business to know insurance so you should be able to get sound advice from your agent.  Over time, you may change cars, change jobs, buy a house, get married,  have children, start a business, watch children leave the nest, prepare for retirement and a million other things along the way.  How will each of these events change your need for insurance coverage?  How will these changes affect what you are paying for insurance?  Your agent knows and you should feel free to rely on their advice to help you through life’s many transitions.

I am amazed how many people tell me they have not talked to their agent in years.  It is no surprise then, that as I look at their policies with them, I find many important coverages missing or outdated.  You rely on your insurance coverage to protect you from a financial tragedy following an unexpected event.  Simply having insurance does not mean that you will be protected from all possible pitfalls.  But a good agent will help tailor your coverages to fit your needs and then check in on you each year, or upon request, to make sure that your insurance needs have not changed.  When was the last time you had a review with your agent?  If has been awhile, insist on a meeting to go over your insurance coverages.

Insurance can certainly be a big part of your financial budget.  Does your agent have recommendations on what you can do to save money on your premiums?

Most of us pay premiums for years without really needing to use it.  But when the day comes that you do, you want to make sure the coverage is right and the process is simple.  Should you turn in a claim?  What will it do to your premium?  You will also have questions on what to do next and what to expect following a claim.  If you have an auto accident, storm damage to your home or an injury at your business, rely on your agent to help you with these issues.  Your agent should always be YOUR advocate.  If you call a claim in directly to your insurance company, you will have that claim on your record, even if a claim will not benefit you.  Call your agent first to get their help before talking to the insurance company unless you know for sure that you need to file a claim.

If you do not feel that your agent is doing enough for the money you are paying, you may need to shop for a professional.  If you need a new agent, or at least a second opinion, call Aspire Insurance Agency today.  We would love to work with you!

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The idea for this blog came from my dad, who was talking about a common fire hazard that people were unaware of.  The hazard is WHAT? Aluminum foil?  I thought  the stuff was fireproof.  As it turns out, there’s a few other things about aluminum foil that I was unaware of.  Here’s 5 things you may not have known about a product that we use all the time.Don't Put Foil In Microwave

1.  OK, the first one is a given. NEVER put aluminum foil in the microwave.  If you didn’t know this already, maybe you should stay out of the kitchen.  We have to start with this one though, because the National Fire Protection Association estimates that an average of 7200 fires in the home per year are started with the microwave oven.

2.  The second one will catch some people.  NEVER line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil.  The foil can trap heat, start a fire or damage your oven.  Many manufacturers will void your warranty if you line the oven with foil.  The reason many people have lined the oven with aluminum foil is, of course, convenience in cleaning.  This little tidbit was handed down from parents, grandparents and their parents before them.  A few generations ago, people were using tin foil (yes, there is a difference).  Tin foil was, of course, made from tin and the term stuck although we have been using aluminum foil since right after World War II.  Aluminum has a lower heat tolerance than tin and should never be used close to your heating element.  According to Reynolds Wrap, it is safe to place a sheet of aluminum foil on the shelf below the one you are baking on as long as the sheet is only slightly larger than your cooking dish.

3.  What side of the foil is supposed to face out?  Shiny or dull?  That’s an easy one I thought…but I was wrong.  Truth is, it doesn’t matter.  The difference comes only from the manufacturing process and has no bearing on cooking.  If you are using a non-stick foil product though, the dull side faces the food as that is the side that has been treated with a non-stick coating.

4.  Is it safe to wrap left overs in aluminum foil?  Yes, as long as the food is not high in salt or acidic value.  Aluminum foil is generally a safe way to wrap leftovers and keep smells out of the fridge.  Just don’t warm them up in the microwave with the foil still on!  Adding a layer of foil over plastic-wrapped foods that you are freezing is a good idea as it will help keep out oxygen, which causes freezer burn.

5.  What if the foil-wrapped foods you bake have dark spots from the foil?  I actually threw out a ham one time because I was afraid to eat it.  As it turns out, it is normal to get these spots on the food if the foil comes in contact with foods high in salt, vinegar or acid.  Just remove the spots and food is safe.

So there you have it.  A good safety tip from your insurance professional, a history lesson and food storage tips all rolled into one.  And we thought it was just tin foil.

 

 

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15
Nov

Winterizing Your Home

   Posted by:    in Homeowners Insurance, Insurance

As the nighttime temperatures drop and sweatshirts come out, it is time once again to prepare our home for the onslaught of winter.  We have compiled a list of things to consider to keep your home safe, warm and energy efficient.  Here we go:

  1. Disconnect and drain all garden hoses.  Shut off all outdoor spigots.Home Covered in Winter Snow
  2. Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace.
  3. Remember to keep your furnace filters changed regularly.
  4. Check all windows and door for cold drafts.  Draft snakes placed under leaky doors can save a lot in energy consumption.  For a more permanent solution to drafts, it is recommended to check the weather stripping and caulking around your home to ensure that warm air is not escaping.
  5. Chimneys should be screened to make sure that birds and animals will not create debris that could cause a chimney fire.  If your chimney hasn’t been cleaned in a while, call a chimney sweep.
  6. Store any fire wood in a dry place away from your home.
  7. Remember to open your fireplace damper before lighting a fire.  Close it after all smoke has cleared.
  8. Clean gutters to make sure they drain properly.
  9. Add insulation to the attic if necessary to prevent ice dams.
  10. Replace any broken glass and install storm windows if they are available.
  11. Trim branches that hang too close to your home or electrical wires.
  12. Replace batteries in smoke detectors and test them.
  13. Add carbon monoxide detectors in your home.  If you have them, test them and replace any that need to be replaced.
  14. Turn ceiling fans to “winter” mode so they can actually help you churn warm air in your home.
  15. Keep a supply of batteries and flashlights in case the power goes out.
  16. Stock up on water and food in case you become snowed in.
  17. Buy your snow shovels early.  Why do we always have to learn this one the hard way?
  18. Clear all dead vegetation from around the foundation of your home.
  19. Check and seal any crevices around your foundation where air can escape or rodents can get in.
  20. Have your emergency numbers in a handy place and let neighbors know if you will be away.  Give your neighbor the contact information for your insurance agent in case something happens to your home while you are gone.

 

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I keep thinking about those poor tornado victims in Joplin and I know there is a valuable lesson we can all take from their tragedy.

kitchenThey say a man’s home is his castle.  And in that castle we keep all of our treasured worldly possessions.  But what if we came home tomorrow to find that our home wasn’t there? What if we lost everything to a fire or tornado?  That’s what homeowners or renters insurance is for, right?  Well, sort of.  But the insurance company isn’t going to just write us a check for our coverage limits.  They are going to ask us what we lost.  To say, “I lost everything!” will certainly lead to the insurance adjuster’s compassion but really won’t speed the process along very much.

You loved your great grandmother’s antique dresser and your prized Mickey Mantle autographed baseball but what proof do you have that you really owned these?  ”What?  I need proof!”

If you are ever in this situation, rest assured you will be plenty stressed out already from the calamity of losing everythingbookshelf.  How would you ever remember everything you owned?  Having an inventory of your household items will not only lend credence to your insurance claim but will help you remember the things you owned if you can no longer see them.

There are software programs that can help. There are even iPhone and Android apps that will walk you through the inventory process.  There is still so much work involved in entering everything into the program, that the work may never actually get done.  There is an easier way.  Use  your camcorder, digital camera that has the ability to take good video, or borrow a friend’s and take 30 minutes to walk through your home videotaping your things.  Open up each cabinet and dresser drawer.  Videotape your closet, your garage and even the pile of junk you hide under the stairs that you haven’t had time to organize yet.  As you videotape, talk to the camera. kids room Describe the items of particular value.  Talk about when you purchased the item, the price you paid, what you think it is worth, the year, manufacturer, model or anything else that may be pertinent.  You can videotape serial numbers of appliances and electronics if they are easily accessible.  Just don’t make the task too overwhelming.  Remember, the main goal is just to get it done.

You don’t have to pull everything out nor will you be limited to just the items on the recording.  It will be a tremendous asset to you though in recounting your possessions and will provide a clearer picture to the insurance company of the type of items you had.

The video should be kept in a safe deposit box at the bank, with a trusted friend or family member or in a fire-proof safe. As long as you’re at it, go ahead and put negatives or backup disks of your precious photos in this box.  After all, there are some things insurance just cannot replace.

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yellow umbrella It is often said that proper insurance can keep a bad day from turning into a bad life.  A personal umbrella policy may do just that. Lawsuits   are prevalent today and since no one can predict the size of a court awarded settlement to an injured person, umbrella policies are an essential part of your insurance protection.

Umbrella policies are sold to protect over and above your underlying insurance policies such as auto, home and boat, in the event of a claim.  If your underlying policy limits (your auto or home insurance) are exhausted, the umbrella kicks in and adds additional coverage.  It pays more money toward a claim, to protect your assets and future earnings.  Umbrella policies can also dip down to pick up coverage that did not even exist in the underlying policies.  These could include claims of false arrest, libel, slander and invasion of privacy.

Most financial advisors require an umbrella policy as one of the primary foundation blocks of any sound financial plan.  After all, there is really no sense in building your wealth if you have huge gaps in your defenses that could let it all slip away.  Umbrella policies are sold in increments of $1 million dollars and typically range between $1 million – $5 million.  Even if you have less than $1 million in assets, you should consider an umbrella as a way to protect your assets, like your home and your future earnings.  If you are sued, the court could demand a judgement in excess of the coverage you have on your auto and home insurance policies.  Defense costs, even if you win your case, can be financially devastating.  An umbrella policy can absorb the cost of your legal defense.  A $1 million umbrella policy is suggested for people with annual earnings up to $100,000 or up to $1 million in assets.  Umbrella policies typically cost around $200 a year for $1 million in coverage.  Each additional million runs around an additional $100.  Additional charges will apply for youthful drivers, additional properties, additional cars, boats, and motorcycles.

The premium for an umbrella policy can be offset by carrying higher deductibles on your auto or home policies.  Call your insurance professional today and ask for a coverage review.

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