Category Archives: Health Insurance

An A to Z Guide to Auto Insurance

A to Z

Auto Insurance: What You Should Know

 If you drive a car chances are you carry some level of auto insurance. If you don’t, then you better get it quick, because it’s the law in most states. But how do you choose the right company and coverage? You should start by doing a little homework so you know what you’re buying when you begin shopping.

Auto insurance can be pretty complicated and it can be difficult to understand if you don’t know the basics, so we’ve tried to highlight a few things you should consider when searching for auto insurance.

Auto Insurance –An auto insurance policy is an agreement between you, the insured, and an insurance company to help protect your financial assets if a covered loss occurs. A loss may include damage to your vehicle, liability for damage caused to another vehicle or individual, theft, medical, rental car, etc., depending on your coverage selections.

 Bodily Injury Liability (BI) – Bodily injury liability coverage pays for injuries to other people, within the policy limits you selected, of course.  This may include drivers and passengers in another vehicle, pedestrians and, in some cases, passengers in your vehicle, when the insured vehicle’s driver is legally at fault. It does not cover injuries you may have personally sustained in the accident. Bodily injury is often used to pay for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

 Collision Coverage – Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle – or provides you with a settlement that could allow you to replace the vehicle in the event of a total loss – if it collides with another vehicle or object (e.g., potholes, speed bumps, poles, etc.), regardless of fault. Typically, you must first pay a deductible, an amount for which you’ve agreed to be responsible before insurance pays – usually ranging from $100-$1,000.

Comprehensive Coverage – Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle that occurs in a non-collision situation, including damage from wind, flooding, fire, hail, vandalism or theft. As with collision coverage, you must generally pay a deductible before your insurance company offers financial assistance towards repair or replacement costs.

Deductible – The amount you must pay out-of-pocket for damages before your insurance policy will pay an insurance claim is your deductible. If you have a $100 deductible, for example, and your car sustains $1,000 worth of damage, you must pay $100 before your insurer pays the remaining $900. Deductibles are most often found in amounts of $100, $250, $500 and $1,000, but may vary from state to state or by carrier. Also note that the amount of your deductible is inversely related to the amount of your insurance premium. Plainly stated, the more money you’re willing to pay out-of-pocket towards your repairs, the lower your insurance premium will be and vice versa.

Electronic Proof of Insurance – Uh oh, you’ve just been pulled over and, as the officer approaches your car, you realize you never put your new insurance cards in your glove box. Electronic proof of insurance allows you to display your insurance card to the officer on your smartphone. Before you get excited (not that you’d ever get pulled over, right?) check if your state has adopted this law and, as a backup, be sure to always keep a hard copy in the car in case your phone decides to die or freeze at an inconvenient time. Mercury offers customers the ability to save a digital copy of their I.D. cards when they establish an electronic account on the company’s website.

 Filing a Claim – The unthinkable has happened and you’ve gotten into an  accident or your car has been stolen. These aren’t the only circumstances for which you might file a claim, but they are certainly some of the most common. Try to gather as much information as possible at the scene. Notify the police immediately and file a police report. Collect contact information from everyone involved, including witnesses. Document and photograph the damage and the scene, and contact your insurance company immediately. You can use your phone to take pictures of the other party’s driver license and insurance I.D. card. These items will contain most of the information you will need to file a claim, but don’t forget to also get a phone number.

 Discounts – Everybody loves to get a discount! Most auto insurance commercials talk about discounts that can help you save money, but do they? Sometimes yes…sometimes no. Just because you get a discount doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be saving money. Look at the total cost, not the discount. You may notice that some companies start with really high rates and then pile on the discounts to make it seem like you’re saving money. When you compare final rates, however, you may notice the company that didn’t have big discounts is a lot cheaper.

It never hurts to ask, though, because it all adds up. Some of the more popular discounts include the following: Good driver, good student, multi-car, and one of the best is the discount you can get when you insure both your auto and home together. Mercury offers up to 15% off when you buy both, which can save you a lot!

 Liability Coverage – This is not an option in most states. The law says you must have liability coverage, but what is it? Simply put…if the insured vehicle is involved in a covered, at-fault accident, liability insurance is what pays for the property damage (vehicles and property like lampposts and fire hydrants) and bodily injury damages (medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages) for the other people involved. Most states require that you carry some level of liability insurance. However, there are a handful of states where you can drive without a motor vehicle liability insurance policy…if you can prove you’re financially able to pay the liability costs in the event of a collision. All insurance policies have exclusions and conditions, so make sure to review your policy carefully with your agent so you know what’s covered and what isn’t.

Medical Payment Coverage – If you’re injured in an auto accident, this coverage will pay your reasonable and necessary medical expenses regardless of who is at fault for the accident (up to your policy’s limits).

 Premium – The price you pay for your insurance policy. It’s typically charged monthly, semi-annually or annually. Some insurance companies will offer insurance discounts if you pay your premium all at once instead of in monthly installments or if you have your payments automatically deducted from your bank account.

 Property Damage Liability (PD) – Covers you if your car damages someone else’s property. It mainly applies to damage caused to another person’s vehicle, but can also apply to fences, shrubbery, trees, light poles, houses and other property. This does not cover damage to your own vehicle.

 Rental Reimbursement – Rental reimbursement is an optional auto insurance benefit. If your car is damaged and the cost to repair it is more than your deductible, this coverage pays for a rental car, usually with per-day or per-accident limits. This benefit is only available; however, if you selected this coverage and the accident is a covered loss.

 Roadside Assistance – Did your car break down on the side of the road? As the name implies, roadside assistance comes to your aid. It is often available as an additional coverage option from your insurance company. For example, Mercury offers this coverage at a cost of less than a quarter a day. It covers a variety of services, up to the policy limit, including towing, reimbursement for expenses if you’ve locked your keys in your car, need a flat tire changed, etc. Roadside Assistance is another optional coverage, so be sure to talk to your agent about adding this coverage if you need it.

 State Laws – Every state has different requirements regarding insurance, including the minimum amount of insurance coverage you need to carry. You can learn more about your individual state’s insurance requirements by visiting the insurance commissioner’s website.

 Tort (PIP) Insurance – The Tort system, which operates in 38 states, makes the driver who causes an accident responsible for paying for damage to the victim’s property and medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. The other 12 states use some form of no-fault insurance coverage. Kentucky, New Jersey and Pennsylvania allow residents to choose between limited-tort and full-tort insurance when seeking insurance policies. If you’re the victim of an accident in one of those states and you opted for limited tort coverage, this means that you give up the right to seek damages for pain and suffering, whereas full tort coverage allows you to seek compensation for whatever you think you’re owed.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage – Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage pays for injuries to you and other people in your vehicle, within the policy limits you selected, when the loss is caused by an uninsured driver. Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage may apply if the person who caused the accident doesn’t have enough liability insurance to fully compensate you and your passengers for injury claims.*

 Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage/Collision Deductible Waiver – Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage will compensate you, up to the policy limit, for damages to your vehicle caused by an identified uninsured motorist.  Collision Deductible Waiver will pay your deductible if your covered vehicle is damaged by an identified uninsured motorist.*

*  In some states these coverages may be combined into one coverage.  Please check with your local insurance agent to learn about different options.

There’s no “one size fits all” insurance policy so your best bet is to do some research and speak to a local insurance agent about your specific needs.

Health insurance deadline extended

Once again the Obama administration has extended the deadline for affordable health care coverage. The final day for open enrollment was March 31st. However due to technical difficulties caused by the masses logging on last minute many seeking health insurance were unable to complete their registration by the deadline. An extension was given to assist those in fear of being penalized for missing the deadline.

Those who have started the process to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace now have until April 15th to sign up for health insurance. This extension is only for those who have started the enrollment process, have a user name and password and were unable to complete it due to technical difficulties.

After April 15, those who have not signed up for health insurance may face penalties on their next year’s tax return. Plus, they will not be able to sign up for private health insurance until the next open enrollment, which is expected in November 2014.

For more information about your health insurance options in the Conejo Valley area, contact Integrity First Insurance. We are based in Thousand Oaks, but proudly serve all of California.

It’s never too early to purchase life insurance when a baby is on the way

If you are a man or woman expecting a baby, you probably plan to purchase life insurance. However, you may wonder whether you should do so before or after the baby arrives.

The general answer is to buy life insurance coverage as soon as possible. Life rates depend on health and age, so the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper your rates will be. Meanwhile, most insurance companies will underwrite healthy pregnant women for the same rate as they would if she were not pregnant, so there is no cost savings in waiting until after the baby is born.

If a woman experiences pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes or eclampsia, however, it might be advisable to purchase life insurance coverage immediately after the baby is born when the mother’s health returns to normal.

Fathers should purchase life insurance coverage immediately upon learning that there is a baby on the way. 

If you live in Thousand Oaks or Westlake Village, California and have questions about life insurance coverage facts, contact Integrity First Insurance to learn more today.

What to Know About the March 31 Health Insurance Deadline

With Obamacare open enrollment ending on March 31, you might be among the many Americans with questions about how the deadline affects your health insurance coverage.

For those who have not enrolled to purchase health insurance coverage through the federal marketplace, March 31 marks the last day they may do so. Any United States citizen without health insurance coverage following that date will be required to pay a penalty, according to the Affordable Care Act.

Despite a rocky start on healthcare.gov, the website is now running fairly smoothly. However, not everyone will want to use the website as a means of purchasing their insurance coverage. By law, no one is obliged to use the marketplace, and may purchase insurance through any agency they choose.

The Obamacare penalty for those who do not have health insurance after March 31 is $95 per adult and another $47.50 per child, or 1 percent of your annual house income, whichever amounts to more. 

If you live in the Thousand Oaks or Westlake Village, California areas and you have questions about insurance, contact Jason Mayling at Integrity First Insurance today.

Does Term Life Make Sense for You?

Term life insurance appeals to many people because it offers lower rates and efficient coverage.  Coverage is at a fixed amount and rate of payments for a time period such as 10, 20 or 30 years.

Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California can help find the insurance plan that suits their needs. To learn more, contact us.

Remember to Sign Up for Health Insurance before the March 31st Deadline

Anyone who is in need of health insurance should keep in mind that the deadline is looming to sign up for coverage made available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The deadline is March 31, 2014 to sign up, and is the last time you can sign up for coverage this year.

Don’t delay in signing up, because the more you delay, the longer you will have to wait for your coverage to take effect, according to the government’s HealthCare website. For example, if you enroll and make your first payment by February 15, your insurance coverage will commence on March 1. If you wait until March 12 to sign up, your coverage begins April 1. Anyone who waits until the March 31st deadline to sign up and pay for insurance will have their coverage start on May 1.

At Integrity First Insurance, we are devoted to helping people in the greater Thousand Oaks, California area and beyond obtain the perfect insurance for their particular circumstances. For more information on getting health insurance at highly affordable rates in Conejo Valley, California and surrounding locations, please contact Jason Mayling at Integrity First Insurance today.

When can I cover my child on my plan?

If you have questions regarding your health insurance plan in regards to national health care reform, then you are not alone. As the U.S. moves toward a nationwide insurance plan in 2014, many different issues are coming up including coverage of children. While you may not have been able to provide insurance coverage for a young adult in the past, this may change with the upcoming changes.

According to the federal law regarding health care reform, a child will be able to stay on their parent’s health care plan until they turn 26 years old. Check with your state, however, since this age limit may be extended at the state level. A child does not have to live with their parents, be financially dependent on them, be single or be claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns to be covered by their parents’ policy.

A child who is sick cannot be turned away for coverage, which is called guaranteed issue. However, some states are implementing limits on this statute. For example, in California children will be guaranteed coverage only during their birth month. Here at Integrity First Insurance we are skilled at providing personalized insurance for families with children. If you would like more information regarding your insurance in the California, please contact Integrity First Insurance today.

What if I need help choosing health insurance?

The new reform laws are helping the entire country with health insurance coverage and California is no different. If you are joining or considering Covered California, then it is helpful to know what you can do if you have questions. There are a few tips you should keep in mind.

  • Later this year, the marketplace will have a tips and tools page that will help you to find the right plan for you.
  • Every part of the state has trained staff that can help you either in person or over the phone to answer the questions you have about the new plan.
  • You can also talk with different organizations and insurance agents Covered California has partners with to get the information you need.
  • Since the state is lingually diverse, there will be help options in different languages to help with this.

If you need more help or are looking for an insurance agent that can guide you through the changes with the healthcare reform, then you need to contact Integrity First Insurance. Not only will they help answer your questions, but will also help you to find the right policy for your needs.

What is Covered California?

With the health insurance reform laws going into effect in the new year, it is important that you start to get an understanding of what this will mean for you. One of the options for health insurance for California residents is Covered California. It is important to know what this is and what it can do for you.

 

What is Covered California?

Rather than being just one health insurance plan, this offers a marketplace of different options. Since the funds are pooled together with people across the state, you are able to get a better price than if you went with an insurance plan as an individual.

 

Who is it For?

This is really for anyone that needs health insurance, though it was designed for small businesses and families that will not have the coverage they need from their employer.

 

What it Can Do

One of the nice features is that it will let your compare the aspects of the different insurance plans so you can ensure you are getting the one that will be right for you. With this, you will find that you will have all medically necessary features covered and yet still have affordable insurance.

 

To find out more about Covered California, contact Integrity First Insurance.

Am I eligible for tax credit?

The health insurance reform laws can be quite confusing for many people. If you have heard of the tax credit for insurance premiums, then it is good to know what it is and how it can affect you.

 

What is It?

This is a tax credit that is designed to help make insurance premiums more affordable for individuals and families. This is offered only for Covered California members though. The nice thing about it is that you do not have to wait until tax time to take advantage of this. Rather, it will be applied when you sign up for the insurance.

 

Who is it For?

The idea of this is to help low and middle income families get the coverage they need by giving them a little more help. This is why your income is compared to the federal poverty level to find out if you are eligible for the tax credit.

 

What Can I Do?

The best thing you can do is to find an insurance agent that has partnered with Covered California to give you the help you need. This is just what you will find with Integrity First Insurance. They will look at your current situation as well as your needs for health insurance to help you find the plan that will not only meet your needs, but fit into your budget as well.