Insurance Blog

Home security is an important topic these days. Unfortunately, a home burglary happens once every 15 seconds in the United States. This translates to a staggering 2.2 billion burglaries each year. Burglars targeting residences will mainly strike during daytime hours when they assume most homeowners are at work. Many people are surprised to learn that the main point of entry for burglars is through the front door. Deadbolt locks help a lot, but they are not enough to deter a determined burglar. A home security system can be a crucial defense against thieves. The best security system for you might take some research – but we hope this guide will help you make the right decision for your family.

 

 

What Are the Advantages of a Home Security System?

Most people purchase home security systems mainly to protect their homes from burglars. In addition to serving as an effective deterrent against property crimes, these systems can also save your home from excessive fire damage and protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. They are typically equipped with several types of sensors that can notify a team of experts of problems around the clock. This way, if you leave an appliance on and it begins to smolder, the security company can have the fire department at your house within minutes to contain any flames.

Another advantage to having this type of system installed in your home is that most insurance companies will reward you for being proactive. They do this in the form of significant discounts on your home insurance policy. These discounts can range from 2 to 20 percent and this can help to mitigate the cost of 24/7 monitoring of your home.


What Features Should I Look for in a Home Alarm System?

When it comes to deciding on a home security system, think “layered security.” Layered security is having more than one type of protection. This can include sensors on the doors and windows that trigger home alarms, alarm services that include security cameras mounted outside your residence, and motion sensors that can turn on lights and activate alarms. Glass-break sensors are also a smart addition, as many wireless sensors will not detect the shattering of glass.

Some features that you can expect the best home security system companies to provide include:

  • Control panels and keypads
  • Smoke and heat detectors
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Motion sensors
  • Wireless window and door sensors
  • Glass break sensors
  • Pressure mats
  • Panic buttons
  • Alarmed screens for your windows
  • Video monitoring
  • Flood monitoring in your basement, bathroom and garage
  • The ability to monitor and control your system remotely

Not all of these features may be important or appeal to you. The best home security system for you is one that offers everything you want at a price you can afford. There are many home security companies out there, so there is no need to compromise and give up a feature you want just because the company you choose does not offer it.

How Do I Select the Best Home Security System Provider?

Hiring a home security system provider is easy; hiring the best home security system provider takes a bit a research. Consumer Reports recently noted that the range of services and costs among home security companies varies significantly. Because you have many options and the prices can vary greatly from company to company, it’s a good idea to make careful comparisons when you shop.

  1. Assemble a list of providers near you. You may want to include both smaller, local companies and large national companies in your list.
  2. Compile a list of features that are important to you. Eliminate any companies on your list that do not offer those features.
  3. Research each of these companies online. Sites such as Consumer Reports and Angie’s List will provide unbiased reviews of the companies you are considering. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that the companies you are considering are trustworthy. Eliminate any companies that are rated poorly by these sites.
  4. Research price quotes from companies on your list. Keep in mind that there may be additional, less obvious fees such is if you must pay to lease the equipment used each month or if there are added costs if the service alarm is activated.

Based on the rates, narrow you list down to three or four companies and arrange to have each of them come to your house to give you an quoted price for installation and monthly service fees.

An important factor to consider when choosing a home security system is customer support and monitoring. Customer service should be friendly and efficient and the representative who came to your home should have been knowledgeable about what the company does and does not offer.

Home security systems include round-the-clock monitoring and can range from $20 to $60 per month, depending on the company and the features and services you choose.

Beware of Hidden Costs or Pitfalls

Scams and of hidden fees may be charged by one company, but not others. For example:

  • Early termination fees: Some companies will require you to sign a contract for a given number of years. Sometimes this is required of all customers and other times it is offered as a way to get discounts or free installation. Be aware of high early termination fees that are are applicable even if you move out of the house.
  • Promises by a salesperson: Sometimes, less scrupulous sales personnel will make promises to entice you, but if these terms are not in the contract you sign, you could be locked into an agreement that isn’t ideal. Be sure to get all sales agreements in writing and included with your contract.
  • Security company liability limits: If your home is broken into or damaged, your home security company may be liable for a portion of your losses. The liability limit your security company has may cover the deductible on your home insurance policy, or it may be used to cover your entire loss. Some companies have very low limits for how much liability they will pay and you may be agreeing to these low limits when you sign the contract. Be sure to ask about this and read the contract carefully.

Do Not Rely Exclusively on Your Burglar Alarm

While home security systems can alert authorities of an intruder in your home, unless you live next door to a police station, you should not expect the police to arrive instantaneously. Burglars will still have time to grab some belongings and run. This is where layered security comes in. By taking additional precautionary steps, you can minimize your risks.

Some things you can do to keep your property safe include:

  • Always lock your door when you are not at home
  • If you have an alarm system installed, be sure to use stickers on your window or signs on the lawn to alert potential burglars that you are protected
  • Even if you do not have a dog, “beware of dog” signs may give a burglar pause
  • Keep your lawn and front porch clean and well kept, so that the front door to your home is easily visible by passers-by
  • Leave a radio on and tuned to a talk station when not at home
  • When you go on vacation
  • Ask a neighbor put some garbage in your cans and put them out on collection day
  • Put in a stop mail request with the post office
  • Put some lights on timers
  • Avoid advertising that you are on vacation by posting on social networking sites

 

Get Peace of Mind Knowing that Your Home Is Protected

Of course, home security systems are not all created equal. The brands available to you may vary depending on your home’s specifications, and it is possible that one company might better meet your budgetary and some security needs than another. The important thing is that you review everything that your prospective companies offer before making a decision about which is the best home security company for you.

Once you have chosen a home security system and install it in your home, you can breathe a little easier knowing that your family and your possessions are safely protected from the dangers of fire and theft.

And of course, as an additional measure of protection, make sure your insurance is up-to-date and you have the best coverage for your needs. Contact us at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker (BWP) for personal attention.

As Spring’s ‘April showers’ conclude a record-breaking winter, the potential for damage to your home or car grows. Here are four insurance tips to help provide you with peace of mind and more protection as shared by Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance, a Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agency.

 

 

  1. Review Your Level of Insurance Protection. Contact your agent and review your level of insurance protection now. Make sure that both your home and auto insurance are up-to-date and offer the protection best for your needs. Share any changes, renovations, large purchases, additions or specific concerns, and ask your agent about the best options regarding replacement value.
  2. Consider Scheduled Coverage for Special Items. It is important to understand that most insurance policies have separate coverage sub-limits for high-value items or collectibles – like that new Valentine’s jewelry—or your electronics, art, or sporting equipment. Ask about insuring these items separately for maximum coverage.
  3. Keep a Comprehensive Home Inventory. Comprehensive and accurate records help you replace belongings after a loss during the claim process. And there are now easy ways to create a home inventory. For example, “Know Your Stuff®,”is a top-rated free online application provided by the Insurance Information Institute. Using these computer or smart-phone apps (many of which even allow you to upload photos of your home inventory) is a great way to finally get this off of your to-do list!
  4. Find and Fix Gaps in Coverage. One of the worst experiences you can have when filing a claim after a loss is being told that you don’t have the right coverage. While your Winthrop Welsh & Parker insurance agent will work with you to try and eliminate those scenarios, there are also times when your circumstances change, and if you don’t update your insurance coverage accordingly, you might find yourself with a gap in coverage. If you have certain high value items such as jewelry or collectibles, they may not be fully covered under a homeowners policy, despite coverage being available elsewhere under an add-on called a “personal articles floater.” Similarly, in the wake of storms with intense flooding, many homeowners find that their homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood losses. Even if your mortgage company doesn’t require it, a flood insurance policy can be an important piece of protection you should investigate.

Speaking with one of our Trusted Choice agents can help you identify where there may be potential gaps and obtain the coverage to fill them.

In summary, review insurance needs and coverage with your agent and update. Make sure you understand the limits to your current coverage. Complete or update your current comprehensive home inventory. Find and fix any gaps in your insurance policies while considering flood or other specialized insurance to help mitigate against losses.

Committing yourself to these four tips will help provide you with peace of mind and the right amount of protection.

Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance Agencies are a local Trusted Choice® agency as well as a national “Best Practices Agency” that represent multiple insurance companies, so they offer you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs. Call us for any of your insurance questions or needs.

Tuesday, 08 March 2016 18:15

Women’s Guide to Insurance

March is Women’s History Month! We are taking this opportunity to focus attention on insurance issues and are happy to share this special Women’s Guide in Insurance from IIABA’s Trusted Choice website in honor the month.

The environment in which women now live, work and care for their families is much different from previous eras. Women juggle many roles: career, marriage, motherhood, caregiver to aging parents. And, even in dual income families, women still handle major responsibility for household management. Regardless of our stage in life, educational background, economic situation, marital status, or number of dependent children, women make–or strongly influence–decisions affecting our financial well-being and that of our families. Women must be prepared to act as advocates and financial decision makers for ourselves and on behalf of our spouses and families. They also must be able to plan effectively for our futures to ensure financial security.

The Women’s Guide to Insurance was created by our friends over at IIABA’s Trusted Choice® to help you plan for and achieve your financial security goals. We have provided information regarding the different types of insurance available and suggested when various forms of insurance are most appropriate. Our goal is to assist you in making sound, informed decisions to meet your specific needs. 

Baldwin / Welsh & Parker (BWP) Insurance Agency is a Trusted Choice® independent insurance agency. We belong to this special association to bring value to clients by offering the best combination of coverage, service and price. BWP represents many insurance companies and, as a result, can “shop” for policies that best meet our client needs. Because we are not tied to a specific insurer, we also serve as advocates of their clients’ interests.

Your life will most likely differ greatly from your mother’s, just as her life differed from your grandmother’s. Happily, the role of today’s women in family and business finances is broader than previous generations ever could have imagined. BWP agents are here to help you meet each new financial challenge, helping to ensure your success and your financial security.

Women continue to emerge as an increasingly powerful economic force in today’s society:

 

Why Insurance?

Whatever form, insurance addresses risks and how to effectively control your exposure to loss. Insurance is a means to an end; a way to help ensure that you have sufficient resources to survive the financial crisis that could be caused by fire, auto accident, successful lawsuit, health problem or loss of an income provider. By covering your exposure to risk, you minimize the financial damage you might suffer.

Insurance works by spreading the risks of an individual–you–among many individuals. The chances that everyone in the group would experience a crisis at the same time are statistically very small. Insurance premiums are collected from everyone in the insurance pool and paid only to those who suffer a loss. The cost of your insurance policy is determined by the likelihood that you will file a claim. That’s why, for example, an individual or family with several speeding tickets or car accidents will pay more for insurance than those with clean driving records.

To protect your financial security, independent insurance agents recommend that you carry auto, homeowners/renters, life, disability and health insurance in amounts appropriate to your situation and needs. Agents also suggest that you revisit your insurance coverage as changes in your life alter your financial security needs.

Lifestage Defines Need

Various factors significantly impact the types and comprehensiveness of insurance you and your family or business require. For example, a single woman just beginning a career may not be interested in or able to afford the broad coverage that is required by a more mature worker with dependents. Similarly, a woman approaching retirement age will have different financial security requirements.

Your marital status influences your needs. A married woman who is a full-time homemaker may rely on the insurance benefits provided by her spouse’s employer. Divorce or the death of your spouse may change the scope and nature of the health, disability and life insurance coverage you carry. Becoming a parent also impacts your insurance needs.

Employment status is another factor. If you receive adequate health and life insurance from your employer, you may not need supplemental coverage. However, if you are a full-time homemaker, self-employed or receive inadequate employee-related benefits, you may have insurance gaps. And, if you are self-employed–with a business in your home or other location–you need to secure business insurance to protect your business and yourself.

Each time your lifestage changes, it is important to reassess personal, family and business insurance needs. This evaluation can be done with the assistance of our area BWP Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent representing a wide range of insurance providers. Ultimately, your insurance choices will be determined by your individual situation and the needs of your family.

Your stage in life often determines the type of insurance and amount of coverage you need. Lifestage is defined by:

  • Age
  • Single, married, widowed or divorced
  • Parent or childless
  • Own or rent a home or other major property
  • Employed or unemployed
  • Work in traditional setting or at home
  • Own business or employed by others

Insurance Types

You essentially have three avenues to purchase personal and business insurance: telemarketing companies (who use sales people via 800 numbers), captive agent companies (who employ agents to represent only their insurance company), and independent insurance agents. For you, BWP Trusted Choice® independent agents mean access to numerous options that lead to the best combination of coverage, service and price.

Property/Liability Insurance–Provides protection for your home, automobile and household or other possessions, and from claims against you for something you did or failed to do which resulted in physical or financial loss to the person filing the complaint.

Life Insurance–Pays money to the person(s) or organization(s) named as a beneficiary by the policyholder if the policyholder dies. Some life insurance policies also function as investment vehicles by accruing value as premiums are paid or by replacing estate assets depleted by inheritance taxes. Your employer may provide basic life insurance for employees during their tenure with the company. Often, employees are advised to maintain some level of separate coverage if their employer’s coverage is not adequate. A personal policy also is good insurance in the event that you are laid off and, due to health problems, would not be able to get coverage for a new life insurance policy.

Health Insurance–Covers costs related to your health and your family’s health, such as doctor visits, hospital expenses and diagnostic tests. While many employers provide some level of health insurance, you may need to supplement the coverage or, when self-employed, secure health insurance for you and your family.

Disability Insurance–Pays the individual(s) covered for income lost due to a disabling injury or illness. It enables your earning power to continue even if your earnings do not. Again, some employers offer basic disability insurance that covers extended illnesses, but you need to determine if the coverage is long or short-term to adequately meet your needs.

Long Term Care Insurance–Provides coverage for skilled and custodial care in a nursing home. Some policies also may cover home health care expenses. You can purchase coverage for yourself, your spouse and your parents to offset the costly expense of nursing home care, which most people pay out of their savings. Policy costs are determined by the age and health of the individual, type of care and other factors.

Government Benefits–The government offers several types of supplemental insurance to the elderly, retirees, disabled and disadvantaged individuals. Programs include health care, disability, and compensation to laid-off or injured workers. This insurance provides only minimal base coverage. Individuals receiving government benefits should consult their independent insurance agent to determine proper coverage to meet their needs.

Your BWP agent can offer more information regarding the limits and types of coverage required by you, your family and business.

Driving Coverage For Your Automobile

Automobile insurance protects you, your family and your vehicle in the event of injury or damage resulting from an array of occurrences. Your policy will cover the cost of repairs or replacement and furnishes protection against personal liabilities. Your BWP agent can tailor a policy that meets your needs and provides several types of insurance coverage, including:

Liability–Covers injuries and damage you cause to other people or their property while operating an automobile.

Collision–Covers damage to your vehicle in an accident.

Comprehensive–Covers damage to your vehicle from fire, break-ins, vandalism, theft and natural disasters.

Medical Payments–Covers emergency and related medical payments for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault.

Uninsured Motorists and Underinsured Motorists–Protects you and your passengers in an accident with drivers carrying insufficient or no liability coverage.

Additional Coverages–Pays for expenses such as towing, labor, “no-fault” coverage, etc.

Protecting Your Personal Property

Homeowners insurance provides coverage for damage to structures and personal property. Coverage includes protection from damage caused by:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosions
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Aircraft and other vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Weight of ice, snow or sleet
  • Freezing of plumbing, heating, air conditioning or other household system
  • Theft or vandalism
  • Falling objects

This insurance covers the repair/ replacement of your property and furnishes protection against personal liabilities. Because your home likely is your most valuable asset, it is critical to insure it properly. For example, if you live in a geographic area prone to certain weather problems–such as floods, earthquakes or hurricanes–you need special policies to protect your investment.

In addition, you should be aware of monetary limits on groups of items, including jewelry, artwork, some furnishings, etc. You can purchase additional insurance, usually by endorsement, by listing items that fall outside the limits. Based on the value of your property, the cost of the endorsement is often minimal and outweighs the risk of leaving family heirlooms, equipment and prized possessions underinsured.

You also have the option to insure your personal property for the actual cash value or the replacement cost, which determines the amount of compensation you receive. Replacement value enables you to replace property at the current market price, regardless of its age or condition; whereas, under actual cash value coverage, depreciation for age or condition is deducted from the replacement cost, reducing your compensation.

Renters insurance provides coverage for your personal property when you pay to live in a building owned by someone else. Personal property includes all of your household possessions. You are protected from disaster by a policy tailored to meet your needs and based on the value of your belongings. Similar to homeowners insurance, there are monetary limits on groups of items, coverage can be supplemented with endorsements and you have compensation options.

Whether you own or rent your home, your policy should include liability coverage. This important coverage protects you against claims of bodily injury or property damage that result from your negligence and may prompt a lawsuit. These claims can be caused by any non-auto incident that occurs on or off your premises, such as a dog bite or slippery sidewalk. Coverage also includes medical payments for the injured person, such as first aid or emergency room treatment. You need to consider a limit of liability sufficient to protect you for the cost of a lawsuit and today’s high medical bills.

Backing Your Business

Commercial or business insurance offers property and liability coverage whether you operate from your home or another location. While homeowners insurance may cover business property within specified limits, it typically is insufficient and does not protect against lawsuits related to your business activities. Selecting the right insurance is just as important as the choices you make for company stationery, equipment or services. Your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent can help you review your options and tailor coverage that best meets your needs.

Ensure Your Financial Protection

Insurance is an important component of your financial planning. It is the safeguard to protect you, your family, your home and other possessions, and your business from financial disaster in the event of a catastrophe. As your life changes, so do your insurance needs. A BWP agent can assist you in matching insurance protection to your specific situation. Personal service–based on an understanding of your needs and your goals–is the hallmark of our BWP Trusted Choice® independent agents. For you, it means protection and peace of mind.

Various factors significantly impact the types and comprehensiveness of insurance you and your family or business require. –Pays money to the person(s) or organization(s) named as a beneficiary by the policyholder if the policyholder dies. Some life insurance policies also function as investment vehicles by accruing value as premiums are paid or by replacing estate assets depleted by inheritance taxes. Your employer may provide basic life insurance for employees during their tenure with the company. Often, employees are advised to maintain some level of separate coverage if their employer’s coverage is not adequate. A personal policy also is good insurance in the event that you are laid off and, due to health problems, would not be able to get coverage for a new life insurance policy. –Covers costs related to your health and your family’s health, such as doctor visits, hospital expenses and diagnostic tests. While many employers provide some level of health insurance, you may need to supplement the coverage or, when self-employed, secure health insurance for you and your family. –Pays the individual(s) covered for income lost due to a disabling injury or illness. It enables your earning power to continue even if your earnings do not. Again, some employers offer basic disability insurance that covers extended illnesses, but you need to determine if the coverage is long or short-term to adequately meet your needs. –Provides coverage for skilled and custodial care in a nursing home. Some policies also may cover home health care expenses. You can purchase coverage for yourself, your spouse and your parents to offset the costly expense of nursing home care, which most people pay out of their savings. Policy costs are determined by the age and health of the individual, type of care and other factors. –The government offers several types of supplemental insurance to the elderly, retirees, disabled and disadvantaged individuals. Programs include health care, disability, and compensation to laid-off or injured workers. This insurance provides only minimal base coverage. Individuals receiving government benefits should consult their independent insurance agent to determine proper coverage to meet their needs. –Covers injuries and damage you cause to other people or their property while operating an automobile; –Covers damage to your vehicle in an accident; –Covers damage to your vehicle from fire, break-ins, vandalism, theft and natural disasters; –Covers emergency and related medical payments for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault; –Protects you and your passengers in an accident with drivers carrying insufficient or no liability coverage; and –Pays for expenses such as towing, labor, “no-fault” coverage, etc.

Call us for your consultation. We are here to help and have four offices to serve you and provide personalized service!  Click here for our phone numbers.

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Hudson, MA - 978-562-5652

Wayland, MA - 508-358-5383

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