Tag Archives: premiums

Stricter Laws For Hand-Held Devices While Driving

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What Californians Need to Know About Assembly Bill 1785

Smartphone technology is ever-evolving and while these phones conveniently allow us to carry the Internet in the palm of our hands, they’re also a source of distraction for modern-day drivers.

Many states have passed laws against hand-held cell phone use to combat distracted driving, and California’s is about to get stricter.

Distracted driving has declined since 2009 due to laws regulating cell phone use for drivers, but it continues to be a big problem and it’s the cause of many collisions.

The new law Governor Jerry Brown recently signed, Assembly Bill 1785 (AB1785), prohibits ALL hand-held use of electronic devices while driving. Drivers should be encouraged knowing that the law is intended to protect them by keeping their undivided attention on the road. So, put down those smartphones while driving because it’s now against the law to:

  • Read, write or send a text message.
  • Hold your phone and talk.
  • Check or post to social media.
  • Take a video.

Basically, it’s against the law to use technology in your hands in any way while behind the wheel.

This new law requires drivers to mount their smartphones to the windshield or dash, similar to the mounting of GPS devices in vehicles, provided that the device’s use is activated by a simple swipe of the screen to turn features on or off. These conditions impose much stricter rules surrounding cell phone use in vehicles with the aim of reducing distracted driving crashes that are caused by smartphone or electronic device use.

Mercury Insurance wants to remind everyone that distracted driving is not worth the risk. Visit our Drive Safe website for driving tips, vehicle tips and tools to help keep you and your family safe behind the wheel.

 

Health Insurance Open Enrollment Ends Soon

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Open Enrollment for health insurance ends January 31, 2017. This is the deadline to change or get health insurance.

Please call Integrity First today @ (805) 495-1122. We can help find the best coverage available for the lowest premium.  We can help with Covered California, the marketplace exchange, or direct.  You may eligible for a subsidy to help pay your health insurance.  We offer Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and more.

After January 31, 2017 you will need a special exception to buy medical insurance. If you do not have medical insurance there will be a fee/penalty.

The fee for not having health insurance in 2016 & 2017

The fee is calculated 2 different ways – as a percentage of your household income, and per person. You’ll pay whichever is higher.

Percentage of income

2.5% of household income
Maximum: Total yearly premium for the national average price of a Bronze plan sold through the Marketplace
Per person

$695 per adult
$347.50 per child under 18
Maximum: $2,085

Please call us today @ (805) 495-1122

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.

Car Insurance Thousand Oaks Ca

Hidden Costs Of Electric Cars

Car insurance costs are typically higher for electric vehicles. 

One of the main draws to electric vehicles is the nonexistent gas bill. However, investing in an electric car may mean spending hundreds of dollars more in other areas, such as your car insurance premiums. Knowing what costs to look out for when buying an electric car can help to make sure that you are able to invest in a car that you can afford.

A recent study compared the auto insurance costs of electric vehicles and their gas-powered counterparts and found that auto insurance quotes for electric cars were more than 20 percent higher than quotes for gas cars. Keep in mind that this is just an average, meaning you may end up paying much more or even less than that average depending on what type of car you buy and your insurance company.

One of the main reasons that electric cars cost more to insure is that they are typically worth more than gas cars. The base prices for electric cars were, on average, 70 percent more than a gas vehicle. Since insurance companies will have to provide a bigger payout for expensive cars that are totaled or stolen, it will lead to higher premiums.

Another reason for the increased premiums is because it costs more to repair electric cars than it does gas cars because of the expensive components, such as the battery system. Mechanics also need special training to work on electric cars, which increases the price of the work that needs to be done.

For all of your car insurance needs to make sure that your electric or gas car has the right amount of protection, contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California. We can help with all of your Conejo Valley auto insurance coverage needs to keep you safe on the road.

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.

What to do if your car is stolen

It’s important to know what to do if your vehicle is stolen. Here are a few suggestions:

  • The best offense is a good defense. Consider purchasing comprehensive car insurance coverage. Comprehensive covers your vehicle if it is damaged in anything other than a collision. This includes auto theft, vandalism, floods, hailstorms and fire damage.
  • Contact police immediately if your vehicle is stolen and file a report. The chances of recovering a stolen vehicle decreases as time passes.
  • Be sure to have the following information when filing a claim with your insurance carrier:
    • Policy number
    • When and where you last saw your car (date, time and location)
    • Year, make and model
    • Vehicle identification number
    • License plate number
    • Police report number
  • Be sure to list any additional valuables that were in your car at the time it was stolen.
  • Offer photos of your car, if possible, to the police and your claims adjuster.

Deductibles Explained

Deductibles 101

When investing in insurance, the word deductible gets thrown around a lot. While most people know that a deductible is part of their policy, they do not fully understand what it really is. Knowing exactly what your deductible is and how it will come into play when you make a claim can help to ensure that you choose the right deductible for your needs.

Your deducible is the amount that you will have to pay out of your own pocket before your insurance coverage will kick in after you make a claim. The point of your deductible is to help you share the risk of an accident with your insurance company. All insurance policies, from your health insurance to your homeowners insurance have a deductible.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to choose the lowest deductible policy to help save money when you make a claim, it may not be the best choice. Even though a low deductible means less cash out of your pocket after a loss, it can increase the cost of your policy, leading to much higher payments each month. When choosing the right price for your deductible, you should choose the highest amount that you can comfortably pay in the event of a loss to help keep your premiums as low as possible.

Your deductible is basically a way to help you control the cost of your premiums, as well as share some of the risk that your insurance company takes on when you open a policy.

For all of your Conejo Valley insurance coverage needs, contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California. We will work with you to ensure that you have the protection that you deserve, all at the right price to fit your budget.

Why You Need an Earthquake Insurance Policy

Earthquake Insurance 101

With the recent earthquakes in Nepal, you should start thinking about how you are protected from the next California quake. While your homeowners insurance policy will provide coverage for many disasters, it will provide no protection for the damage that is caused by an earthquake, only a specific earthquake insurance policy will.

Even with this knowledge, less than 20 percent of homeowners in California have an earthquake insurance policy. One of the most common reasons that people opt out of an earthquake insurance policy is the cost. However, not investing in an earthquake insurance policy can be much more expensive than the cost of the premiums you will pay if you do invest in a policy.

Along with the cost, there are many other reasons in which people choose not to buy an earthquake insurance policy, including:

  • Their home survived the last quake – each earthquake is different, which means even if your home has never been damaged during an earthquake before, it does not mean that you will not have to deal with damage when the next quake hits.
  • Their home is bolted to the foundation – although this is a better argument than many others, it still does not meant that your home is protected from any damage. Bolting your home to the foundation works best for wood framed, single story homes, so if you live in any other type of home, you may not be as safe as you think.
  • They are planning on getting a loan from FEMA – FEMA is designed to help people after a disaster, including earthquakes. While they do offer loans, that money will need to be paid back. The coverage that is provided by your earthquake insurance policy will never have to be repaid.

For all of your earthquake insurance needs to protect you home, contact Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California.

What You Need to Know About Long Term Disability Insurance

Basics of Long Term Disability Insurance

Many people who have desk jobs assume that they never have to worry about becoming disabled. However, one in four people in their 20s have a change of becoming disabled before they reach retirement. Average long term disability absence from work lasts for 34.6 months, which is just shy of three years. Investing in the right long term disability insurance policy can help to ensure that you stay financially stable after being disabled.

Long term disability insurance is meant to kick in once your short term disability has expired, typically after three to six months. The policy will provide a financial payout of a portion of your salary, typically around 50 to 60 percent. The benefits will last until you are well enough to go back to work, or for the duration of the policy.

If you pay for your premiums of your long term disability policy with after tax dollars, the benefits that you receive from your policy will be tax free. If you receive a long term disability policy from your employer, it will most likely be paid with pre-tax dollars, meaning that you will have to pay income taxes on the benefits that you receive.

If you are not able to get a long term disability policy from your employer, or do not think that the plan that is offered will provide enough coverage, it is important to invest in your own policy. Everyone is at risk of becoming disabled in their life, and having the right protection can give you the peace of mind knowing that you are covered in case of any unfortunate incident.

Contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your disability insurance needs. WE will work with you to make sure that you have the protection that you deserve, all at the right price.

No on 45

It is almost time to vote, which means it is the best time to look at new propositions and how they can affect your life. Proposition 45 is up for vote, which deals with health insurance premiums. This proposition is not good for tax payers.

In summary, Proposition 45 would:

  • Give one politician new power over what treatment options health insurance covers
  • Grant the insurance commissioner more power over health care while allowing millions in campaign contributions from special interests
  • Give one politician sweeping new power over rates, co-pays, and benefits for millions of small business employees, and could force many small businesses to lay off workers, drop coverage, or even go out of business
  • Propose special interest reforms of a large and complicated health system without the input of patients, doctors, hospitals or health plans
  • Create ANOTHER expensive state bureaucracy which will ultimately be funded by higher health insurance premiums
  • Cost tens of millions of dollars and duplicate existing bureaucracy and regulation with a new program, causing confusion and overlap with other state and federal laws and regulations

Allow trial lawyers to make hundreds of millions of dollars by filing suit against any insurer that proposed changes. The law would require the insurers to pay the very law firm that is suing them up to $675 an hour!

Contact the insurance experts at Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California for more information on Proposition 45 and how it would affect your health insurance costs. We can also help make sure that you have the most comprehensive health insurance plan that will best fit your needs.