Are you a new homeowner? If so, congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of homeownership. There is also a lot of responsibility that comes with owning a home, as you are likely figuring out right now. Once of the most important things you can do is make sure you are properly insured to protect this valuable asset. Take a look at some key things you need to know about home insurance.
Know the exact value of your home
To start, it’s very important to know the exact value of your home. Underestimating your home’s value could result in not enough coverage and overestimating the value could result in paying too much for insurance you don’t really need. Work with both your insurance agent and a real estate professional to fully assess the value of your home.
Decide how much coverage you need
Based upon the value of your home, and the assets within in, your insurance agent will work with you to determine the right amount of coverage you need. There’s a lot more to consider than just insuring your physical dwelling. You will also want to consider personal property, other structures on your property, liability protection, guest medical protection and more.
Make an inventory list
Once settled in your new home, you will want to make a comprehensive inventory list that accounts for your home and the property in your home, assigning a value to each item. Keep this list in a fireproof safe or somewhere other than your home so it’s available to you even if your house should sustain severe damage. This will be a great help to you when it comes time to work with your insurance company to replace your belongings.
Understand replacement cost vs. actual cash value
Your insurance policy will want you to select whether you want replacement cost or actual cash value. Most simply put, actual cash value (ACV) is equal to replacement cost, minus any depreciation. The right choice for you will depend upon a couple of variables and so you’ll want to talk with your insurance agent to fully understand what makes most sense for your particular situation.
Utilize things that can lower your premium
Make sure you are aware of all the ways you can save money by making your home safer. Adding things like a security system, shatter-proof glass or updating your roof may help save you money on your insurance because your home is likely to better withstand a disaster.
Review your policy often!
Finally and most importantly, meet with your insurance agent annually or upon making any major change to your home to ensure your policy is still offering you the most appropriate coverage. As your home ages or you make upgrades, you may need to change certain aspects of your policy. It’s better to do this early and often than be left underinsured and experience a disaster.
What other questions do you have about home insurance? Leave a comment or contact me directly and I’d be happy to offer some insight.
4 Signs You Need to Break Up with Your Insurance Agent
February is a month to focus on love. However, it’s likely there are some things you may not “love” about your current insurance agent right now. If a lack of customer service, rising prices or poor communication have you feeling frustrated, it just might be time to break up the bad relationship. Here are 4 tell-tale signs that you and your current insurance agent need to “start seeing other people.”
They are unresponsive.
You call and email but never seem to get a timely response to your questions. This is a big problem! In case of an emergency, you may need information quickly. If you can’t count on your insurance agent to respond to your questions in a reasonable amount of time, this isn’t a sustainable relationship. Your insurance agent should be easy to reach and quick to reply. A good agency will have customer service line that you can reach outside of business hours, should disaster strike late at night or on the weekend.
Prices continually increase, but quality service declines.
Have you found that the price of your premiums increase with every passing year for the exact same coverage? Sure, increases may be needed to adjust to inflation & increased claim costs, however this shouldn’t be the case every renewal. Customer service is really important when it comes to your policy as agents can’t always control costs, but they can offer you any available discounts & make sure your policies still match what your family needs. If you find that you’re paying more for worsening customer service and coverage, it’s time to get out there and shop around!
They don’t follow through.
When your insurance agent says they are going to do something, you want to be able to trust that they will follow through. In any business, you are only as good as your word. When it comes to insurance, it can be a major problem if your agent fails to make sure your paperwork is properly submitted and your billing is up to date. Should their forgetfulness cause you to lose coverage, this is more than just a headache, it could be a big financial problem for you, too.
You are not their priority.
If you get a sense that you are anything but top priority for your current insurance agent, it’s time to starting looking for an agent who will put you first. The safety and security of your family and assets should be their foremost concern, not just making money off of your business!
What other reasons have you found to be a sign to “break up” with your insurance agent? Share your experience by commenting below!
10 Unique New Year Eve Tradition’s in Central Pennsylvania
Across Central Pennsylvania, towns and cities of all sizes ring in the New Year with quite a variety of celebrations that include a twist on the traditional ball drop. From food items like pickles and bologna to roses and wrenches, each item has its own connection to the city in which it is dropped (or in some cases, raised). Let’s take a look at 10 of these creative New Year’s Eve celebrations that take place across Central Pennsylvania and the meaning behind them!
Dillsburg – Pickle Drop
Of course a town named Dillsburg would choose to drop a pickle! The idea is as delicious as it is fun. The full evening of celebration includes vendors, children’s activities, Irish clog dancers, magic show, balloon artist and wintery refreshments. Especially for the children who may not stay up late enough to see the official pickle drop at midnight, a “baby pickle drop” takes place at 7 p.m. The big pickle drop is followed by a grand finale of fireworks!
Carlisle – First Night Button
What was once a car drop for the town of “car”lisle, has since been changed to the raising of a button (as of 2013). A large replica of the buttons used for admission to the night’s festivities is raised instead of dropped because the community wanted to raise their spirits for the New Year. What does the button look like? The design changes from year to year! Children can enter a drawing using the year’s theme, and the winning drawing is used on the buttons for admission as well as for the large button that is raised 21 feet in the air at midnight.
Lower Allen Township – Lowering of the Yellow Breeches
Upper and Lower Allen Townships are known for their prime location next to the Yellow Breeches, so it’s only fitting that their New Year’s Eve celebration would involve a nod to this local attraction. The township’s celebration involves a variety of games, activities and refreshments for families and takes place at the Barn in Lower Allen Township Park. At midnight, a pair of five-foot-tall “yellow breeches” are lowered by children attendees.
Mechanicsburg – Wrench Drop
The name does most of the explaining! Mechanicsburg drops a large, lighted wrench in the middle of downtown with many activities taking place throughout the evening.
Harrisburg – Strawberry Drop
Market Square in downtown Harrisburg is most recognized by the building known as “Strawberry Square.” This location is home to offices and retail space and also connects to the Hilton Hotel. Because Strawberry Square is such a central point in downtown Harrisburg, it’s fitting that they choose to drop a strawberry at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. The full celebration includes music, theatrical performances and children’s activities, plus a ton of activity on restaurant row.
Hershey – Raising of the Hershey’s Kiss
What else would the town made famous by chocolate raise on New Year’s Eve other than its signature Hershey Kiss? What’s great about Hershey’s celebration is that it is extremely family friendly with activities beginning as early at 11am that day. Music, games and refreshments make it an enjoyable event for attendees of all ages.
Lebanon – Bologna Drop
Lebanon, a town very well known for its delicious Dutch treat, Bologna, chooses to drop a 12 foot, 250 pound replica on New Year’s Eve. What a sight to see! This fun and amusing celebration is a great way to ring in the New Year. Be sure to come hungry and enjoy the many different treats Lebanon has to offer its guests.
Highspire – Candy Drop
The New Year’s Eve candy drop in Highspire is not only fun, there’s a special meaning behind it too! At midnight, a variety of small candies are dropped from a Knight’s Candy bin and children dash to collect their share. The candy drop is in commemoration of the Knights Candy Store that operated there during the 1950s to 1970s. Counting down to the candy bin tipping over and spilling out candy is exciting for guests of all ages.
York – White Rose Drop
In the town square, the city of York drops a white rose at midnight followed by a large fireworks display. Why the white rose? This symbolizes the War of Roses which were a series of wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The House of York’s symbol was a white rose.
Lancaster – Lowering of the Red Rose
Similarly to York’s NYE celebration, Lancaster lowers a red rose to symbolize the House of Lancaster which was associated with a red rose throughout the War of Roses. This is such an interesting piece of our history here in Central Pennsylvania (which you can learn more about here). It’s a great tradition that each town honors its heritage, and looks to the future, by celebrating with a special rose to ring in the New Year!
Do you have another unique New Year’s Eve celebration to share? Leave us a comment!
How to Keep Your Pets Safe & Healthy in the Winter
Winter can be a fun and exciting time for your pets who enjoy watching the snow fall or running around in the cooler weather. However, winter can also pose several new dangers to your pet’s health and safety. It’s important to use common sense, plan ahead and exercise some caution to be sure you furry friends are kept comfortable. Take a look at these seven tips for keeping your pets safe and healthy this winter!
Keep them inside
It’s a myth that pets are more tolerant of the cold than humans. For most breeds, dogs and cats get cold just as quickly as we do. Try to keep your pet inside during the coldest winter days and especially overnight. Provide several sleeping options so they can choose if they need to be warmer or cooler in the home. Finally, watch for signs that they may be seeking more warmth or are too hot. Trust your intuition!
Offer protective coverings for fur & paws
It’s likely that avoiding the outdoors altogether is simply not possible. Your pet will need to go to the bathroom and get exercise at some point! When you do take your furry friend outside, cover their paws with booties or paw pads that add an extra layer against the cold and ice. Also consider investing in a pet coat or vest to insulate their core while still giving them full mobility.
Wipe down their fur after being outside
Once you bring your pet in from outside, wipe down their coat and paws. This ensures any ice that may have gotten stuck will be removed before it can cause damage or discomfort. It will also keep your home a lot cleaner!Additionally, a quick wipe down will remove any potential chemicals like anti-freeze or salt that your pet may have picked up during their time outside.
Make guests aware of food allergies & rules for table scraps
If you plan to host a holiday gathering of any size, be sure to mention to guests your ground rules for feeding the pets. If your furry friend is not used to table scraps, they can become very ill. Additionally, a house guest may not be aware of a food allergy and accidentally slip them a treat that turns deadly. Avoid this scenario by being upfront about pet feeding policies in your home.
Keep them up to date on vaccines & their medicine in stock
Preventative care is one of the easiest and most obvious ways to keep your pet in good health throughout the winter months. Keep them up to date on check-ups and vaccines. Also, if you pet is on medication, be sure to stay well stocked especially if there is a threat of a winter storm that might prevent you from getting to the vet for a refill. To help lessen the financial burden of visits to the vet, consider investing in pet insurance.
Be sure their collar information & microchipping is up to date
Now is a smart time to check your pet’s collar information to be sure it reflects your current address and phone number. In the winter, a pet can get lost more easily because familiar scents and landmarks may be covered up by snow. This is an especially dangerous time of year to get lose due to the cold temperatures. Give your pet the best chance of being found and returned by keeping their emergency information up to date.
Give your car a quick check before starting the engine
During the winter, stray animals will seek out any available heat source which includes your car engine. Its takes only a few seconds to give your vehicle a quick glance for any sleeping critters before you turn on your engine. Make some noise and give any potentially sleeping animals some time to scurry away!
What steps do you take to ensure your pets are kept safe and comfortable during the winter months? We’d love to hear your ideas!
Whether we are excited about it or not, winter weather is rolling in which means icy and snowy conditions on the roads. Just as you winterize your home and your wardrobe, you should also take special care to winterize your car so that it functions safely and efficiently. Take a look at these six tips for keeping your car running smoothly this winter season!
Clean all debris from your vehicle
Start by clearing dead leaves and debris from your windshield, engine, tires and tailpipe. This ensures you have complete visibility and creates clear and open channels so that your car can function as it is designed.
Install wipers and tires made specifically to handle winter weather
Winter wipers are equipped with rubber to prevent ice from collecting on the blade. Winter tires provide better traction because of their special compound to resist hardening in cold temperatures. If you live in an area that regularly dips below freezing, it’s a smart idea to swap out your regular wipers and tires for something made to handle extremely cold temperatures.
Pack a winter emergency kit
You may not want to think about your car breaking down and leaving you stranded in the cold, but in case the worst should happen you will be glad you packed an emergency kit. Include items like a coat, gloves, blanket, matches, flashlight, car tool kit, jumper cables, non-perishable food, water and a first aid kit. All of these items will be immensely useful while you wait for help to arrive.
Keep your gas tank half full
Many people don’t think about the importance of keeping gas in the tank during the winter months. These can help to prevent a gas line freeze ups in extreme cold. Also, if you are ever left stranded, the gas in your tank might be the only thing keeping you warm. Don’t run on empty, especially in the winter!
Check tire pressure
Most cars will let you know when you tire pressure drops, but don’t rely on that little light. The next time you fill up your gas tank, check your tire pressure to be sure they are at their optimal level. As the air gets colder, you can expect your tire pressure to drop, meaning you will need to check it more regularly in the winter.
Service your vehicle regularly
Finally, be sure your car receives the service it needs to run efficiently. Many people wait until the last minute to get an oil change or check out why the service light is blinking. This is especially dangerous to do in winter because this could result in you being stranded in bone-chilling temps. Give your car a check-up as soon as there is a chill in the air to be sure all fluids, belts, hoses, wires and batteries are in full working order.
Keep your family safe this season by following these tips to prepare your car for winter weather!
If you need assistance in preparing your vehicle for winter or if you need other mechanical services, please contact Kreitzer’s Automotive Services at 717-732-3556. They are located at 2385 Wertz Lane in Enola, PA 17025 or visit their website here.
It’s the holiday season and it’s likely that many of you will be doing some type of travel to celebrate with your family and friends over the coming months. While the time spent together is priceless, the stress and frustration often associated with holiday travel can be downright painful.
Check out this helpful advice for making traveling over the holidays just a little more enjoyable, whether it includes an international plane ride or merely a couple hours in the car. Take a look!
Give yourself a lot of extra time
Especially if you’re traveling with children, give yourself ample time for setbacks and pit stops along the way. You are likely to also encounter some holiday traffic and having some time to spare will make you less stressed while you’re inching along. Even if you don’t use all of your buffer travel time and end up arriving at your destination a little earlier than planned. All the better! This means more time to visit with family.
Share driving responsibilities
If your holiday travel includes driving for long distances, you will want to share this responsibility with at least one other driver. Have a schedule for when each person will go behind the wheel and let the other person rest. This will keep you and your family safe while making the long travel a little more enjoyable for you.
Be flexible with your travel dates
If possible, try and avoid the heaviest holiday travel days which tend to be the day before or the day of a holiday. If you can swing it with your work schedule, take a long weekend or use an extra vacation day to make your stay a little longer. Not only will you avoid the headache of holiday traffic, you’ll have more time to spend with your family.
Ship presents in advance
Having presents directly delivered to where you’ll be celebrating the holidays is a smart and savvy idea. You’ll reduce the amount of luggage you have to carry with you, which is valuable no matter how you’ll be traveling. Just be sure to let the recipient know to not open the packages before the holidays!
Keep your essentials within arm’s reach
Water, snacks, a book, phone or iPad are all items you’ll be grateful to have nearby to make your travel a little more bearable. Don’t make the mistake of packing these items away deep in your suitcase. Rather, be sure to pack them in your carryon or a bag you keep in the front seat of the car.
Plan your pit stops
Pit stops are a necessary part of travel. If you’re traveling with multiple children, you should plan out your pit stop strategy to avoid someone needing to stop every 20 minutes. Give everyone a heads up as to when the next stop will be so they can plan ahead with their bathroom and food needs.
Always be kind
Finally and most importantly, remember to be kind to one another even during the most stressful moments. This goes for your family members traveling with you as well as strangers who you pass at a pit stop or sit by on a plane. The holidays should be a happy and care-free time where people go out of their way to spread some cheer. Let this be your inspiration for doing something nice for someone else and hopefully they will pass it along too!
What piece of holiday travel advice did you find most helpful? Share your thoughts by commenting below.