Tag Archives: qualifying life events

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.

Still Don’t Have Health Insurance? Don’t Worry!

Special Enrollment Period for Health Insurance

Even though the open enrollment period to invest in health insurance ended on February 15th, you still have a chance to enroll in a policy to ensure that you do not have to pay the fine. Covered California is offering a special enrollment period for those who were not aware of the tax penalty for not having health insurance in 2014, or learned that they may now face a fine in 2015.

The special enrollment period runs from now until April 30th, and gives people the chance to be covered with the right health insurance policy if they are not already. In order to qualify, you must prove that you were not aware of the penalty for not having health insurance by selecting the “Informed of Tax Penalty Risk” on the Covered California website.

Along with the new special enrollment period, there are other qualifying life events that can qualify you for a special enrollment period so that you can sign up for health care. Some of the most common qualifying life events include:

  • Getting married, entering into a domestic partnership, or getting a divorce.
  • Having a child, putting a child up for adoption, or adopting a child.
  • Moving your permanent residence to a different state that does not offer the same health plan that you are currently enrolled in.
  • Having a change in your income that effects your eligibility for cost sharing reductions or other government assistance.
  • Being a member of a federally recognized Alaska Native or American Indian tribe. If you fall into this category, you can change your health insurance plan, or enroll in a plan once a month.

Contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your Conejo Valley health insurance coverage needs.

What Happens If I Miss Open Enrollment?

Your Next Steps After The Deadline Passes

February 15th is not just the day many people will wake up in a panic because they forget to do something special for their sweethearts on Valentine’s Day. It also marks the day that open enrollment ends. Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals and families have been able to secure healthcare in the marketplace since November 15th, 2014 and will be able to do so until the 15th of February. If you fail to secure coverage by that date, you have two options.

  1. Qualify For A Special Enrollment Period: If you have experienced major changes in your life (e.g. getting married or divorced, having or adopting a child, moving to a new state), you might be able to get an extension on your enrollment period. These qualifying life events or loss of coverage through your work can yield a sixty-day extension from the date of the qualifying life event.
  2. Pay The Penalty Fee & Secure Short Term Insurance: If you miss the open enrollment period and do not have a qualifying life event enabling you to secure an extension, you will face a penalty fee when you file your 2015 taxes. For 2015 the fee is 2% of your household income or $325 per adult ($162.50 per child), whichever is greater. You will not be able to secure a marketplace healthcare plan, but you may be able to secure short term insurance to save yourself from significant out of pocket expenses until the next open enrollment period begins.

Fortunately, you still have a little over a week to secure coverage before the upcoming open enrollment deadline! Contact Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your Conejo Valley health insurance needs. Get started by securing a quick and easy quote today!

Don’t Miss the Open Enrollment Period

Make sure to mark your calendar for the 2015 Open Enrollment Period! The Open Enrollment Period starts on November 15, 2014 and runs through February 15, 2015. If you miss the Open Enrollment Period, you will likely have to wait for the next enrollment period to purchase health insurance and you may face fines, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period due to a qualifying life event.

For any questions or concerns you have about the Open Enrollment Period or qualifying life events, contact Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California. We will work with you to help ensure that you have the most comprehensive health care coverage.