Tag Archives: life insurance

5 ‘Must Do’ Steps to Insuring Your Engagement and Wedding Rings

Once you have the perfect wedding rings picked out, it’s important to make sure you protect your precious investment. According to The Knot’s Real Weddings Study, Americans spend an average of $6,351 on an engagement ring. Here are some tips for adding your rings to your homeowners or renters insurance policy, along with other ideas for keeping them safe.

1. Find out the current value.

Your insurance company needs to know the current value of your wedding rings to provide sufficient coverage to repair or replace them. Keep the original purchase receipt on hand and make sure to inform your insurer with details about the gem’s four Cs — color, cut, clarity and carat size.

2. Have the ring appraised.

If your ring is an heirloom that has been passed down through generations in your family, find a jewelry store that has a certified gemologist or a quality appraiser on staff. Be prepared to pay up to a few hundred dollars for the appraisal and to drop your ring off for a week or so. When the appraisal is completed, you’ll receive an insurance replacement report that informs the retail replacement value of the ring. The insurance replacement document also will include information about the physical properties of the stone and metal. The gemstone will be described by characteristics such as shape, weight, clarity, color, polish, symmetry and fluorescence, which dictate the price of the ring.

Be sure to have your ring appraised every few years as the cost of precious metals and stones fluctuates. This step will ensure that you have the right amount of coverage because when the price goes up, you’ll be fully insured for the replacement value. And when the price goes down, you’ll save on premiums.

3. Stay organized.

Don’t toss that receipt! If you need to replace your ring, you’ll need to provide some paperwork for a speedy claims process: the original receipt, the appraisal certificate, any warrantees or coverage policies from the jeweler. Keep everything together in a file or folder so that it’s organized and easily accessible.

“First and foremost, always keep an up-to-date inventory of your possessions,” said Jane Li, Mercury’s senior product manager. “Be sure to take photos, provide descriptions, documentation to support what you paid for the item, and include the purchase date, serial numbers and copies of receipts when possible.”

At the same time, take stock of any other expensive jewelry or valuables you have on hand, and gather the receipts and certificates for those. When you get your ring insured, you can also get coverage for your other valuables, too.

4. Inquire about coverage options.

If you already have a homeowners insurance policy, call your insurer and ask about coverage options for your rings. Most homeowners policies provide minimal coverage for jewelry and high value collectibles, so you may need to purchase a “personal articles” or “floater” policy to provide protection for these items. This way, if you lose your wedding ring while scuba diving on vacation or damage the metal band while working, your insurance company will pay the cost to replace or repair the ring. There is an extra cost for these policies, however, and this cost will be determined based upon the value of the items you are insuring. Talk to you agent to learn more about these policies.

5. Keep your ring looking brand new.

If your ring is a family heirloom and you had it appraised, the gemologist or appraiser will let you know if there need to be any repairs. Some common repairs include fixing the prongs that hold the gemstone in place and cleaning the ring and stones. Also make sure that the ring fits snugly, so it doesn’t slip off during exercise or other activities.

Once you have your ring professionally cleaned, it’s a good idea to clean it on your own at least once a month by soaking it in a mixture of warm water and dishwashing soap for 30 minutes. Gently brush any diamonds or gems with a soft toothbrush and let the ring air dry to avoid scratching the metal.

When doing housework that involves harsh chemicals like bleach, avoid wearing your ring so you don’t damage the metal. Take off your ring while doing work with your hands, such as gardening or crafting, and put it someplace safe until you’re finished.

At home, invest in a safe for when you aren’t wearing your ring. When traveling, be sure to stow away your rings in the hotel room’s safe. While it’s good to know you have insurance in case something happens, you should always take precaution to protect your rings as best as possible.

Marissa Hermanson is a lifestyle and wedding expert whose work has been featured on The Knot, Southern Living and Cosmopolitan. She currently writes for Larson Jewelers, an online jeweler offering a wide variety of unique wedding rings.

Understanding Car Safety Ratings

Understanding-Car-Safety-Ratings

Although newer vehicles are generally more expensive to insure than older ones, consumers can often get discounts if their new vehicles have the latest safety features. Advances in crash and accident avoidance technology mean that consumers who buy a new vehicle equipped with the latest safety features are often less likely to be seriously injured in a car crash.

Safety ratings are a function of two major factors: prevention—how well the vehicle is designed to prevent an accident—and, crashworthiness—how well the vehicle performs in a crash.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranks its Top Safety Picks based on good, acceptable, marginal or poor performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, and evaluations of seat / head restraints for protection against neck injuries during rear impacts. Crash tests are conducted on a half-dozen types of vehicles, including large cars, mid-sized cars, small cars, minivans, mid-size SUVs, and small SUVs. You can also visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website for a full report on recalls and defects.

Currently, some of the top-rated safety features are:

  • Adaptive front airbags
  • Side airbags
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Knee airbags
  • Electronic stability control
  • Anti-lock braking systems
  • Brake assist
  • Tire pressure monitors
  • Back-up sensors
  • Park assist
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Smart headlights
  • Crash-alert systems (such as OnStar)
  • Built-in car seats

Technology is ever-improving, and, as time goes by, manufacturers and the government are standardizing these features. Doing your homework ahead of time and knowing what your options are can make the decision-making process smoother and get you into that new car faster!

Insurance 101 for College Students … And Parents Too

college-student-insuranceMoving away from home to go to college is an exciting time for most kids. It’s their first real taste of independence, but this newfound freedom also comes with increased responsibility.

Mom and dad aren’t around anymore to nag you about the hours you spend on your smartphone or to wake you up for school in the morning, but this also means they aren’t there to fix problems either. What, for example, would you do if someone were to steal your precious smartphone?

Students can easily get swept away in the excitement and bustle of the college social scene, forgetting that not everyone they meet at school has the best of intentions. Crime exists in most communities, and college life is no exception. According to the FBI, 97 percent of crimes reported by college students in 2012 were property crimes and a whopping 41 percent of these crimes occurred on campus grounds.

Students bring many pricey belongings from home – electronics like laptops, smart phones, tablets, televisions and gaming systems are common dorm room items. They may also have a skateboard, bike, vehicle or combination of all of the above.

Another on-campus threat to personal property is fires. Firefighters responded to an average of 3,870 college housing structure fires per year1. These fires caused an annual average of $15 million in personal property damage and losses.

So, how can you protect your belongings while you’re away at school? The first step is to check with your insurance agent to see if your stuff is covered under your homeowners insurance policy. Some policies, like those offered by Mercury Insurance, will extend coverage to college students living away from home.

Another option is to purchase renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance is designed to protect property owners in the event that their belongings are stolen or damaged in a fire. It will also provide liability coverage in the event someone is injured while visiting your apartment or dorm room.

To maximize your college experience, here are a few tips to protect personal property:

Cover personal belongings with an insurance policy. Students who live on-campus may have coverage available through their parents’ homeowner’s policy. Some companies have policy options that extend personal property coverage for students away from home. Students living off-campus may not be covered by their parents’ policy and should look into purchasing renters insurance.
Create an inventory. Record the value of all personal property to determine the right amount of coverage needed in the event of a loss.
Always lock doors. Talk to roommates and make sure to communicate the importance of securing personal belongings.
Conceal valuables. Never leave electronics or other valuables out in plain sight, and do not advertise their presence on social media.
Secure valuable electronics, like TVs and laptops, to stable fixtures with locking mounts in your room so they can’t be easily removed. Also, protect personal electronics with passwords to guard accessibility and discourage theft.
Use a bicycle lock when you’re out and about or for added security while on-campus. Steel and titanium locks are difficult to cut and provide thieves with a challenge. Reinforcing these locks with cable locks, which can be threaded through wheels, will provide extra security.
Install or activate an alarm if you have a vehicle on-campus. Insurance companies frequently offer discounts for vehicles equipped with anti-theft devices. Students with good grades – at least a B average – may be eligible for an additional discount as well.
Ensure your auto insurance is up-to-date. Coverage for vehicles left at home while in school should be maintained to protect the vehicle from theft or any damage that may occur while it is parked. This will also protect you if you forget to notify your agent to add coverage back to your vehicle when you return.

Consult with your local Mercury agent to learn more about renters insurance and they’ll help build the protection plan that best suits your needs.

The bottom line: with greater independence, comes greater responsibility.

1 The National Fire Protection Association reports this annual average occurred during the five-year period from 2009-2013.

life insurance thousand oaks ca

Life Insurance Considerations

What you need to consider before investing in a Thousand Oaks, CA life insurance policy.

Finding the right life insurance policy that will provide the right amount of protection can be much easier said than done. The features that are offered with life insurance are different depending on what insurance company you decide to work with. Keep these considerations in mind to help you find the right amount of coverage.

  • Premiums – if you are looking for life insurance that will provide coverage for at least 10 years, you should choose a policy that has guaranteed level premiums instead of a policy that will have increasing premiums.
  • Duration – if you are looking at a term life policy, choose a policy with a term duration that will provide coverage for the entire time of your financial obligations that you are looking to cover.
  • Renewability – make sure that you work with an insurance provider who guarantees that they will renew your policy, no matter what situation you run into. If you get diagnosed with a terminal illness, you will want to make sure that your insurance company will renew your policy.
  • Customer reviews – before you choose a life insurance company to work with, make sure to read the customer reviews about the company. An insurance company that is difficult to work with will be more trouble than it is worth if you ever have any questions about your policy or when your loved ones try to collect the death benefit after you pass away.

Contact Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your Conejo Valley life insurance needs. As an independent insurance agency, we will work closely with you to help you find the perfect policy that will fit your needs, all at the right price to fit your budget.

Making Sure Your Family Can Keep That Home You Just Bought

The amount of paperwork involved in the purchase of a home can be overwhelming. If you’ve recently purchased a home, there is one more piece of paperwork you should consider. That is a life insurance policy that provides coverage in the amount of the outstanding mortgage.

Sadly, upon the death of a loved one, many families find themselves in a position of either struggling with their house payments, or being faced with moving. This can be avoided with the proper amount of life insurance. Remember, the amount of the mortgage balance should be the minimum amount of coverage. That is because your family will also be faced with the other costs of home ownership, including repairs, maintenance, taxes and insurance.

The good news is there are a variety of forms of insurance that can work in concert to provide you the best coverage at an affordable price. If you live in the Thousand Oaks or Conejo Valley area, contact us for a free, no obligation quote. We are Integrity First Insurance of Southern California and we will be glad to work in finding you the coverage your family deserves.

Young, Cool and Ready For – Life Insurance?

You’ve graduated college, have landed your first real job, are on your own and are living life. Money isn’t nearly as tight as it used to be, you’ve got a nice car and you love to have fun with your friends. So, why worry about something like life insurance now? Actually, now is one of the best times to establish a life insurance plan for several reasons. Here are just a few:

– Life insurance is an investment. Starting a solid life insurance plan now gives you financial flexibility you’ll be able to take advantage of later.

– Life insurance adds security. If something were to happen, life insurance can cover a lot of bases. Not only can a plan cover mortgages and car loans, but funeral expenses and a wide variety of other expenses someone else would have to cover.

– Life insurance as stability. While you may not have dependents or those who would benefit from insurance monies in your life now, starting a family and finding ways to meet there needs isn’t that far away. You’re setting up a stable, solid future for yourself, and for the family to come.

Having the right life insurance coverage now isn’t something to worry about, it’s something to take advantage of later. Contact Integrity First Insurance in the Conejo Valley, California area (or all of California, actually) and see how they can help you secure your future today with a great life insurance plan. 

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.

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.

Why does it makes sense to buy term life insurance?

When you have a family and are responsible for the financial well-being of your spouse and children, you need to have a plan for the future. You can contribute to your company’s 401-K retirement plan and have a Roth IRA. You should also consider purchasing life insurance to provide financial security for your family if you should die prematurely. Term life is often the best choice among the different types of life insurance policies that you can buy.

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific length of time. Typical terms might be 10 or 20 years. Your premium will remain the same every month.  As long as you pay your premiums, your policy can not be canceled, even if you are diagnosed with cancer and given only two years to live.

The amount of coverage you can get for the price is the primary reason to chose term over whole life insurance. For less than the cost of a steak dinner for two, a healthy 40 year old man can get $500,000 in life insurance coverage. 

For more information about life insurance in the Thousand Oaks area of California, contact Jason Mayling at Integrity First Insurance

 

Different types of life insurance

There are three primary types of life insurance. A lot of people have been under the impression for years that they do not need life insurance. On the contrary here, you may want to stop and think who will be primarily affected if you unfortunately happen to pass away. The family members that you leave behind will have to pay for each and every debt that you leave behind. The most astronomical expenses that are left behind are medical bills.

When you have a life insurance plan properly set up, the loved ones that you leave behind will have a great head start on paying the expenses that you may leave behind. This insurance provides families with money when you pass away to help them continue to pay household and other expenses for a while. There are three types of insurance that you need to know about, which include:

  • Universal life insurance

This form of coverage offers flexible plans that you are able to customize to meet all of your requirements for coverage.

  • Term life insurance

This form of coverage offers a coverage plan that offers a level premium for a specified amount of time. Once this specific amount of time has passed, an individual has a choice of renewing the coverage or getting a new coverage plan.

  • Whole life insurance

This is a form of coverage that offers a guaranteed death benefit with a cash value that is also guaranteed with a guaranteed premium. Many people choose this form of insurance. For more information regarding life insurance, contact Integrity First Insurance today!