Insurance policies can be confusing to many and you should never assume that you have the right coverage for your specific situations unless you ask your insurance agent about it. Here are some questions you should ask your agent if they apply to you:
Do I need to change anything with my insurance policies since I have added new family members to my household?
I’ve changed jobs (or finished school, started working, stopped working, or retired). Do I need to change anything with my insurance?
Do I need a different coverage if I am remodeling or adding an addition to my house?
We’re getting married. How do we combine policies and make sure we have the right coverage for our new family?
I’ve started a home based business or I’ve started working from home. Do I need any additional coverage for this?
I’ve gotten some new expensive items (jewelry, sports equipment, musical instruments, business equipment, collection, etc). Are they covered on my policy or do they need specialty coverage?
Is my pool covered? Trampoline? Four-wheeler? Golf cart? Lawnmower? Etc? What if someone gets hurt on them?
Does my policy have enough coverage if I’m in a bad car accident or if someone gets hurt on my property?
Are there any exclusions on my policies?
One of my kids will be driving soon. What’s the best way to cover them?
Does my policy provide coverage to replace my items or give me their current value?
I have this insurance policy through work or another company. Can you review it?
How much would I have in out of pocket costs if _________ happens?
What are the payment plan options? Which ones give the best pricing?
What should I do if I’m in a car accident or if something happens to my home? What’s the process for filing a claim?
How do the discounts on the policies work? Are there ways I could lose or gain discounts?
Are there any more discounts or ways to save on my insurance?
In the end, it is worth a phone call or an email to ask a question to make sure you have the coverage your family needs instead of assuming. Your agent is there to guide you to what best suits your needs.
This summer will be different for everyone’s family as each of us navigates the best way to both have fun and stay safe and healthy. Here are some ideas for your family to try out this summer!
Have a backyard barbecue! Stock up on your family’s favorite meats and veggies and grill them up! Pass on your grilling tips to your children and don’t forget to enjoy this mouth-watering meal outside!
Enjoy a book (or book series) together! Maybe there is a movie your family loves and has heard that the book version is better. Start reading it out loud together one chapter at a time. Depending on the reading difficulty, let your children take turns reading as well.
Watch fireworks! There will be plenty of them this summer. Find out where they are going to be and find your own spot to comfortably watch them. Don’t forget the lawn chairs, blankets, and bug spray! Get glow sticks as a bonus item!
Take a virtual class as a family. Although some may be tired of the online learning by now, many items that were not available virtually now are. Maybe you choose a cooking class or start learning the basics of another language. Maybe a music lesson is available for the whole family.
Spend more time outside! Let your kids help you redo your landscaping or plant and maintain a small garden. Give them a little section that is just their own to choose what goes there and keep it alive daily.
Make the most use of your local library. Not only can you check out books there, but they often have other activities to participate in. If you want to stay more distanced, consider tapping into their virtual library which should have plenty of books and audio books for all ages.
Have a picnic! Prepare portable foods together as a family then choose a nice shady place to enjoy your meal outside. Make sure you have a nice large blanket to lounge on and all the snacks you could want. Take along a ball or a frisbee for some fun after you eat.
Play in the water! Think local creeks, rivers, lakes, pools, sprinklers and slip & slides in the yard, or even water tables for the little ones. This can be a ton of fun for those warm summer days when you need something to do that allows you to cool off. With a little more preparation, you could always go kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding as a family. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Do an outdoor scavenger hunt! You can either hide specific items for your kids to find in a localized area or yard. Or choose to find items already found in nature. Follow this link to see an array of wildflowers found in Pennsylvania that you can find and name on your scavenger hunt.
Build something new. This could be making a roller coaster or obstacle course for a marble or a ping-pong ball. Maybe you finally teach your kids to build a birdhouse the way you learned as a kid. Or make that pretty wall hanging that you’ve wanted on your wall for a long time, but haven’t gotten to yet.
Do whatever activity your kids are always asking to do, but something always comes up and you just haven’t gotten to it yet!
Serving the community has always been part of the fabric of the Downey Agency. These past weeks have been unprecedented and leaving many in need of assistance and many asking, “How best can we help?” Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, our community is banding together to serve each other the best we can. With unemployment so high, food scarcity has become a larger issue (the need has doubled!) in our community as a whole — and especially for vulnerable seniors and children. We want to help you navigate this time as best we can. Please review the links below to make a difference or to receive assistance as needed from these reputable community organizations:
I want to help:
New Hope Ministries
Volunteer at their Dillsburg, Dover, Hanover, Littlestown, Mechanicsburg, New Oxford, and West Shore locations. You can see their list of volunteer options here.
Donate food at their Adams, Cumberland, and York county locations. You can find the list of accepted products here. They accept fresh and frozen foods along with non perishables and household and hygiene products.
Make a monetary donation here. With monetary donations, they are able to buy products at wholesale prices so they are able to get more food per dollar than you can at a grocery store.
Donate food at its warehouse location at 5 N. Orange Street in Carlisle, open Monday-Thursday from 8am-4pm and Friday from 8am-12pm. If you have a question about whether or not Share accepts a certain item, you can contact them at (717) 249-7773 or check here for a list of their prioritized items.
Volunteer to assist with packing and distribution. You can sign up for a volunteer opportunity here.
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
Make a monetary donation: Click here. The need for food assistance has greatly increased while previous donors like his grocery stores cannot donate as much since they are struggling to stay stocked and restaurants are not cooking as much.
Consider hosting a virtual food drive. This allows you to carefully purchase food for the food bank from the comfort of your home while allowing the least contact to the food products. Directions can be found here.
Consider volunteering. Contact them to find out their biggest needs and the locations that need assistance here. Their volunteer inquiry form can be filled outhere. Please note that they have enacted strict guidelines for volunteers for the safety of all.
Get involved with volunteering locally by filling out their form here. They are looking for sorters & packers, volunteers at no-contact sites, meal deliverers, and people to spread awareness & host fundraisers.
Help fight hunger on a national level by donating moneyhere.
Downey Agency Blessing Box
Non-perishables and household supplies may be placed in our 24/7 blessing box located right outside our office at 11 N US Hwy 15, Dillsburg, PA. This box is here year round.
Contact any local non-profit you are involved in and find out what they are currently doing to help the community and assist them further!
I need assistance:
New Hope Ministries assists with food, rent/mortgage assistance, utilities assistance, transportation needs, and referrals to specialized programs. Please stop by the closest center to you in Dillsburg, Dover, Hanover, Littlestown, Mechanicsburg, New Oxford, and or West Shore. Their addresses, hours, and contact information can be found here.
Project Share of Carlisle hosts food distributions. New clients should call 717-249-7773 to schedule a time to talk to a staff member about your situation. More information can be found here.
If you are in need of food or other assistance, click here. This will take you to Central Pennsylvania’s Food Bank search tool to help you find the closest location to you to receive food and other services. You can also call Central PA’s Food Bank hotline at 1-877-999-5964.
If you would like assistance applying for Pennsylvania’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you can be walked through the process with a knowledgeable expert. Click here or call Central PA’s Food Bank hotline at 1-877-999-5964.
Find a food bank location on a national level using Feeding America’s search tool here.
There is a 24/7 blessing box located right outside our office at 11 N US Hwy 15, Dillsburg, PA. This box is here year round and available to anyone who needs it.
Contact any local non-profits that you are involved in to see what services they are currently offering.
With so many different types of insurance policies existing, it is hard to think of something that you can’t insure. You can insure your home, car, motorcycle, boat, belongings, and even your life. But can you insure your neighbor’s car? Surprisingly the answer is no. You can only insure the items that you have an insurable interest in.
So what is insurable interest? Insurable interest means that the destruction of the property or the death of the person insured would cause you to take a direct financial loss. You can’t insure your neighbor’s car, because you would not suffer a financial loss over it being totaled. You also can’t insured your barely known distant relative with life insurance since their passing isn’t going to directly impact your personal finances. You can insure the home & car, and belongings in your name as if they are destroyed or damaged, you will be directly responsible for repairing or replacing them. There can also be life insurance on your spouse that you can benefit from as their untimely death would create financial hardship for your family.
Insurable interest is required so that you only benefit from insurance payouts for losses that would actually affect you financially. Insurance companies often require you to have insurable interest when you start the policy on the person or object and insurable interest at the time of the loss. For example: you owned a car and added it to your auto insurance policy, but later you sold it to your cousin. Let’s say that cousin then had an accident. Your insurance would not cover this vehicle even if you still have it listed on your policy as now it belongs to your cousin. It is your cousin who would take the financial loss, not you.
Sometimes, with families, friends, and romantically involved parties, this can be complicated. Insurance policies have listed named insureds for the policy and these named insureds are the ones that receive the funds. Usually named insureds are an individual or an individual & spouse combo.
So can you insure your child’s vehicle? If a child owns a vehicle in their name, is paying the payments on the vehicle, would suffer the damage to their credit if they don’t pay, but insure it on their parent’s auto policy, the parents receive the funds for the totaling of the vehicle. So it is better in this scenario for the child to insure their own vehicle on their own policy as they have the insurable interest and should receive the funds vehicle in a claim. Sometimes insurance companies will allow for a child/parent co-owned vehicle to be insured on a policy in either the parent’s or the child’s name. This makes it so that the loss funds can be put in both names.
In the case of romantic relationships and friendships, insurance companies sometimes do not want to insure something owned by two unrelated individuals. If they start a policy together, but part ways, how does an insurance company decide to whom the funds belong? Insuring married couples is safer as if they split, lawyers help decide to whom funds and property belong. This will vary from company to company following their rules about how they will insure co-owned items or items owned individually insured on a co-owned policy.
The best idea is to ask your insurance agent before you buy anything co-owned or buy something and expect to be able to insure it on someone else’s policy. To make sure that you will receive the funds for the loss, make sure to insure everything correctly. Provide your agent with your proof of purchase for an item showing who has ownership and let them know if you transferred ownership to someone else. For life insurance policies, make sure all of the beneficiaries are kept up to date. This way you know in the case of a claim, the correct people (you including) receive the benefit of the insurance you are paying for!
Well it depends, but it never hurts to have a will. If you do not have a will, this means that the court will distribute your property according to the laws of intestacy. These laws may actually follow your wishes if you die without a will, but they may not.
First, the court considers giving your physical and monetary possessions to your surviving spouse. If there is no spouse or they cannot take it, then it looks to your children. If there are no children, then it looks to your grandchildren. If there are no grandchildren, then it looks to your parents. If you don’t have surviving parents, then it will look to an established list of more remote family relationships. You can read the full list and details here. If you have no remaining family that the court can find, your monetary and physical property will become the property of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
If you leave behind more than one person with the same degree of relationship to you, it will be equally divided among then. For example: if you leave behind no spouse, but four children, each child will each receive one-fourth of your estate.
If you leave behind minor children (and no spouse), the court will establish a trust and choose a trustee to handle the funds. They are then distributed to your children when the court-appointed trustee chooses. Another court will also help designate an appropriate guardian for your minor children.
So if the laws of intestacy result in a desirable division of your property, you are satisfied with a court-appointed administrator of your estate, and you believe the court will choose an effective trustee to serve your children, you don’t really need a Last Will and Testament.
You need a will, however, when any of the following apply:
You want to have more than one degree of relationship inherit anything. Example: you want to leave your child and your mother property.
You would like to specifically list who would get certain items (jewelry, china, cars, etc.) instead of them being equally divided.
You would like to give gifts to charity upon your passing.
You want to have a trusted person follow your wishes as an executor of your estate.
You want to set up a trust for your children with specific guidelines and choose a trustee to manage it. This trustee can release portions of the funds at designated ages or milestones that you choose.
You want to list your wishes for a guardian of your minor children. Your will cannot establish a guardianship as that is a separate process, but the court will consider your wishes. Without a will, you have no input.
If you would like assistance setting up a will, a local attorney can help you navigate the details of what you would like contained in your will and file it with the Register of Wills. Please contact:
You take many precautions to get the best returns on your investments, minimize taxes, and protect your home & family from financial hardship. However, most people don’t think about protecting their wealth from legal judgements. Some people believe the risk is so small that it will never happen to them, but all it takes is one accident to completely overwhelm your current insurance limits leaving you with a pricy legal defense bill. Don’t think it can happen to you? Check out some local recent lawsuits here and here.
Often home insurance policies have about $100k-$300k in liability coverage & auto policies with good coverages may have between $300k-$500k in bodily injury liability along with $100k in property damage. However, a lawsuit can often quickly surpass these limits leaving you to pay for your legal defense and whatever settlement amount the court may decide on. Your home, business or real-estate holdings, future income, and non-qualified retirement assets are left to foot the bill. Although rare, the court can order up to a 25% wage garnishment until the settlement is paid off.
To cover claims in excess of either your auto or homeowners policy, you can purchase excess liability coverage through a Personal Umbrella Policy. They are called umbrellas since they cover excess liability from any policy you have under it. These could be homeowners, auto, motorcycle, boat, renter’s, landlord, recreational vehicle, and others. Another area Personal Umbrella Policies help protect families is in personal injury lawsuits, such as in liable or slander cases; for example a family member posts a negative online review that results in an alleged defamation lawsuit.
You can usually purchase $1 million in liability coverage for around $150-$400 per year depending on your risk factors. Umbrella policies usually have $1 to $5 million in coverage, but also come in larger amounts for celebrities, business owners, executives, and politicians.
Everyone has the risk of being sued over an accident, but if you have any of these risk factors, you may need an umbrella more than the average person:
You have a dog (or other large animals like horses).
You have teenage or young drivers in your household (or you are accident-prone).
You have a long commute to work or drive a lot.
You volunteer for (or are on the board of) a non-profit, or coach youth sports.
You have a pool or trampoline (or other fun structure at your home).
You (or your children) play sports in public areas.
You are a landlord or own multiple properties.
You have a boat, motorcycle, ATV, or other recreational vehicle.
You frequently entertain guests at your home.
You own a business.
You have a job that others associate with making good money.
Your income is higher than the average for your community or you live in a high income community.