Do You Know What You Should Look For in an Insurance Agent?

So you find yourself in the market for an insurance agent. Congratulations! You are making a very wise choice. Insurance protects us from disasters that we would otherwise have a tremendously hard time recovering from, and your wise choice to seek out insurance will pay off with great peace of mind. In this particular post we would like to offer you some suggestions for what you should look. These ideas happen to be:

Most states regulate their insurance agents. They do this to make sure that you, the customer, will obtain the very best info on the insurance products you wish to purchase. You should ask to take a look at the agent’s insurance license. Make sure that it is current.

Find out the number of companies the agent represents. If the agent represents many companies then they can pick and choose the insurance policy that best suits your needs and budget.

How did you find out about this agent? Did you happen to learn about him from someone you respect and trust? A wonderful recommendation can go a long way.

Does the insurance agent belong to any trade organizations? This is often a sign of professionalism and their commitment to continuing education. Make sure that the insurance agent is on board with learning more about insurance products as they come on the market.

Ask about the insurance agent’s involvement in the local community. Do they happen to belong to any special organizations or involve themselves with any volunteer activities? This may often translate into a better understanding and commitment to the hopes of the customer.

So there you have it, some things to consider when shopping for an insurance agent. With a little homework on your part you will be well on your way to starting a relationship that will benefit you greatly in the years to come. Best of luck!

The Hidden Dangers of "Permissive Use" Restrictions in Your Auto Insurance Policy

One of the most frequent questions I get as an auto insurance agent is “who is insured to drive my car?”

Sometimes the answer to this question can be trickier than most people realize. If you never loan your car to others and you never will, none of the restrictions I discuss here will matter to you and you can stop reading now.

Short answer:

People that are listed on your policy enjoy the full benefits of your policy coverages with no restrictions. For those that borrow your car that aren’t listed, they are generally covered as long as you have given them permission to use your car; this is called “Permissive Use” and all policies have some form of, or interpretation of, permissive use. Excluded drivers are never covered nor are un-named drivers who “use the vehicle without a reasonable belief that the person is entitled to do so” (sometimes referred to as “theft”).

Depending on the company you are insured with, interpretations of permissive use can vary dramatically and some insurance carriers are very strict in their enforcement of the rules.

By reducing or restricting coverages through different applications of permissive use, carriers can reduce their risk (and claims costs) thereby reducing the cost of their policies to make them more affordable for their policy holders.

Three examples of the “Permissive use” restrictions carriers utilize include: “Drop-down limits”; “Double deductibles”; and “No physical damage coverage”.

Drop-down Limits:

Oftentimes there are dramatic reductions in coverage amounts on insurance policies even when a permissive user has an accident. One such reduction is called “drop-down limits”. “Drop-down limits” means that if a person has an accident while borrowing your car, the limits of liability are reduced to what the state’s minimums are. For example, the state of California requires minimum limits of only $15,000 per person for bodily injuries (BI)/$30,000 per occurrence maximum for bodily injuries (BI)/$5,000 for property damage (PD).

Example: Driver “A” has an insurance policy with full coverage with permissive use and his liability coverages are $100,000 per person (for BI)/$300,000 per occurrence (for BI maximum)/$50,000 per occurrence (for PD). His policy has a “drop-down limit” clause. Let’s say he loans his car to a friend (driver “B”) and that friend has a serious accident where the bodily injuries to other party amount to $65,000 and he totals the other car which has a value of $28,000. In this scenario, the “drop down limit” is in effect and the most Driver A’s policy will pay is $15,000 for the other persons injuries and $5,000 for their vehicle which clearly isn’t enough. In this case, Driver A is legally liable for the balance of the damages because he is the owner of the vehicle; $50,000 for injuries and $23,000 for the vehicle. If Driver B has coverage, their coverage would be secondary and their limits would then apply until they run out as well. Otherwise, Driver “A” will most likely be sued by the other party.

Double Deductibles:

One coverage that is available with your auto insurance is called collision insurance. Collision insurance protects your vehicle for damages that are a result of a collision with another object. I.e. another vehicle, a building, etc. Collision coverage has a deductible which is the “out of pocket” amount you have to pay first before the insurance carrier steps in to repair or replace your car. Typically deductibles can range from $100 to $2500 but most of the time they are either $500 or $1,000.

They way the “double deductible” restriction works is if an un-named driver has an accident while driving the car with your permission, the collision deductible is doubled. Hence your $500 deductible is now $1,000, or your $1,000 is now $2,000. Hopefully your friend that borrowed your car is willing to chip-in and pay the extra deductible amount.

Sometimes the “double deductible” restriction is based on the age of the driver who borrows your car. For example, the deductible for collision is only doubled if the driver is younger than 25 years old.

No Physical Damage Coverage:

This restriction works just like the “double deductible” described above. However, this restriction is much more punitive.

Simply stated, if an un-named driver borrows your car and has an accident the insurance company will pay the third-party damages (liability), but the damages to your vehicle will not be eligible for coverage.

All of these “permissive use” restrictions are described in detail in your policy initially and also in your renewals. These restrictions should also be disclosed by your agent when you buy your policy, which is why you want a professional insurance agent/broker who really understands these intricacies and can effectively explain these restrictions to you when you apply for coverage.

Permissive use restrictions are also very common and are employed by some large, reputable nationwide insurance companies so be sure to examine your policy carefully.

Auto insurance policies are not all standardized. They are different from carrier to carrier and there are a multitude of coverage benefits, restrictions and exclusions that are unique to each company. Make sure to consult with your agent to see how your particular policy works.

Food for thought – next time you are considering buying a policy “online” without a human helping you, or from an “800#” with an “order taker”, consider how details like these may not be adequately described or may somehow get lost in translation – it pays to have an agent who can really look out for you.

How Can You Lower Your Auto Insurance Deductible?

Many people raise their car insurance deductibles in order to have more affordable car insurance premiums. By doubling your insurance deductibles, you can shave as much as 40% off the price of your premiums.

However, this is only a good idea if you have money put aside to pay the deductible if you have an at-fault accident. If you cannot access this money easily, you may not be able to pay your portion of repair bills, and your car may not be fixed in a timely manner. Worse, you could be under obligation to pay for a portion of damages to someone else's property, and be unable to do so. Many people without large reserves of cash must keep their deductibles low. In order to do this, however, they often have to pay higher premiums.

Is there a way to lower your deductible and still keep your premiums manageable?

There are several ways you can accomplish this goal. Each method takes some planning and discipline, but each can be achieved by anyone looking for a low deductible and a low premium.

First, you can choose to insure with a company which offers a "vanishing deductible" program. According to these programs, your deductible decreases by a set amount each year that you are accident-free and claim-free. Some of these programs allow you to lower all of your deductibles, and some only allow you to lower your collision or liability deductible. Different companies offer different amounts for the deduction and at different rates. You can compare programs to find one that works well for you.

Another option is to create a plan in which you gradually save the amount of your deductible while slowly raising your deductible each six months. Here is how this would work: suppose that your current deductible is $ 250, the lowest your company allows. Now suppose that you would save $ 100 per renewal period by raising your deductible to $ 500. If you do so and save the money you saved on your premiums, plus your initial $ 250, you would have $ 450 in one year, almost enough to pay your new deductible. You can continue to save money so that you can gradually raise your deductible to $ 750, then $ 1000. You may even choose to raise your deductible higher than this if your company permits you to do so. As you slowly raise your deductible, your premiums will decrease, allowing you to save up the money you will need to pay the new, higher deductible.

You can also find a company which offers "accident forgiveness." With accident forgiveness, you can be "forgiven" for your first accident with no deductible if the accident does not exceed a certain dollar amount in total cost. This is very useful to save your deductible fund if you have a minor fender-bender. You can also save money and pay for damages yourself if the accident is very minor; in this way, by not making a claim, you keep your premiums lower and do not have unexpected increases in the price of your automobile insurance.

Other ways you can lower your deductible are to apply for a deductible reduction with your insurance company, which can be balanced by other discounts for which you may be eligible. If you are not currently taking advantage of all possible discounts, you may be cheating yourself out of savings which could pay for a lower deductible.

Be sure to consider all the separate deductibles which apply to your policy as a whole. If you have full coverage, which includes liability, comprehensive, and collision, you probably have separate deductibles for each policy. In addition, you probably have a deductible for such things as uninsured motorist coverage. Some states set the deductible for uninsured motorist coverage by law; you cannot raise that deductible even if you want to. However, most states allow you to pay with the deductibles on your collision and comprehensive policies, raising or lowering them as you see fit.

Rhode Island Divorce Strategy From Finding a RI Attorney to Filing for Divorce by a RI lawyer

The first step in obtaining a divorce from your spouse is finding a Rhode Island attorney who you are comfortable with. Many attorneys give free initial consultations while others charge for the first consult. I have always taken the position that the initial consultations will be free.

It is important to ask the proposed lawyer about his or her experience and qualifications to handle your case. It is also crucial to determine the hourly charge and the amount of any initial fee or retainer.

It is often impossible to determine how much a divorce will cost from beginning to end. However, it is a good idea to get an educated estimation of the eventual fee. This will never usually be more than a estimation because the cost of the divorce usually depends on several factors. Those factors could include how quickly a settlement is reached, the number of motions that each party will file, the amount / nature and complexity of assets to be equitably divided, the amount of documents involved in the case, the animosity of the parties to each other, the waiting time while you are in court and many other potential issues.

The Golden Rule is that the longer it takes to reach a settlement the more the divorce will cost because the lawyers will spend a lot more time working on the case. If there is no settlement and the case goes to trial or the day of trial, the divorce could get very expensive. If everything is agreed or nearly agreed to and the parties are relatively amicable then the divorce should take a lot less time and therefore be much less expensive.

Uncontested divorces in Rhode Island should be much less expensive then contested divorces. However, there are many different types of uncontested divorces. There are uncontested divorces with no real assets and uncontested divorces with assets to divide. If the divorce is uncontested and there are assets then the lawyer may need to prepare a property settlement agreement, deeds, qualified domestic relation orders etc. Therefore, the cost of an uncontested divorce could vary depending on the circumstances. For example if a lawyer has to draft a property settlement agreement , the lawyer will devote more time to the case.

I believe that a fair price for an uncontested divorce from soup to nuts in Rhode Island with no assets and no property settlement agreement is about $800 flat fee plus costs. The typical costs are a filing fee of $100 and service of process fees of approximately $40.

After you have retained the lawyer there is typically an intake process in which the lawyer gets the basic information so that he or she can properly represent you. The lawyer typically drafts the divorce documents and you sign them in front of him/her or another notary. These documents include a divorce complaint, DR(6) financial statement, statement of children of the marriage, counseling statement, report of divorce, summons and automatic divorce order etc. It is important that the DR6 form otherwise known as financial statement is accurately filled out.

There are many important decisions that may need to be made before you file for divorce in Rhode Island. Strategy is crucial in many instances!

In some cases, the attorney will file a motion for temporary orders when the divorce complaint is filed. A motion for temporary orders should be filed if the husband or wife is in need of temporary resolution of issues while the case is proceeding. These temporary motions typically request temporary child support, payment / contribution to daycare , contribution to medical bills, alimony, payment of household expenses, payment of the mortgage, taxes and insurance. A motion for temporary orders can also address child visitation and child custody issues related to the minor children as well as issues concerning exclusive use and possession of the marital home. The temporary motion can also request temporary orders concerning: restraining orders both financial and personal and a myriad of other temporary issues. The motion for temporary orders will typically be heard by the Court within 30-40 days of the filing of the complaint for divorce.

If no temporary orders enter then there is no legal obligation of a spouse to pay anything while the case is proceeding until there is a decision by the judge or the parties sign a property settlement Agreement. If there are no temporary orders, the financial issues, visitation and custody issues will be up to the parties to figure out while the case is proceeding without the benefit of a court order.

If there is an emergency in which irreparable harm will be caused if the party has to wait for a court date, then an emergency motion should be filed with the complaint. An emergency motion must either be verified under oath or be accompanied by an affidavit. The attorney will bring the emergency motion to the proper judge and ask for an ex parte order. Ex parte means that the other side is not present to object. The Rhode Island judge will only consider the affidavit and documentation before him. If the judge signs the emergency order than it will be served on your spouse by the constable along with the divorce complaint.

These types of emergency motion typically deal with issues concerning abuse of a child, dissipation or unreasonable spending of marital assets, domestic violence, child abuse or a plethora of other potential emergencies. If there is domestic violence involved in which you are in imminent fear of physical harm or have been abused or threatened with abuse please discuss with the attorney the benefits of filing a separate case called a Complaint Protection from Abuse! Please note that the Complaint Protection from Abuse is very different from an Emergency motion.

The timing of whether the divorce or Complaint Protection from Abuse case is filed first or whether they are filed simultaneously could be crucial to your case.

If an emergency motion is granted and emergency orders enter then a hearing will be set approximately 20 days to determine if the order should stay in effect while the divorce case is proceeding. At that hearing your spouse has an opportunity to contest the motion and tell his or her side of the story. At that hearing, the Court will determine whether the emergency relief will stay in effect while the divorce case proceeds.

Please see part two to be finished later which describes the process from filing the complaint to the nominal divorce hearing.

Tips to Purchase Your Travel Insurance

Buying travel insurance is not as simple as you think. Firstly, it is way more different than buying an article you’ve long desired and wait for its price to drop soon. It’s even different from buying an airplane ticket where you go online and do a price comparison to look for the cheapest one.

People who are new to it often find it very hard to get their way around it. Firstly, they struggle with the idea of whether they really need to get it or not. Most travelers believe they don’t really need it and coverage is simply spending more money unnecessarily.

To solve your confusions, here is an ultimate guide to buying travel insurance.

1. Do You Need Insurance?

To begin with, there are many countries that won’t let you in if you don’t have it. But the chances are that you’ll get away with many destinations that allow you to get away without it.

So do you wonder why you still need that? You’re right in thinking so. But it’s mandatory to be traveling with valid travel insurance. You plan a vacation because you want to escape all the stresses of life and have the time of your life. That is great thinking, but might not always end up being how you’ve planned.

Accidents never come with an invitation and are never welcomed. But they can become very bitter if you’re not prepared to battle with them. This is where travel insurance comes extremely useful.

2. Buy it Early

We all refrain from buying travel insurance because it is expensive. One of the sensible ways of saving on your buy is to get your travel insurance early. You’d still be only paying for the time you’re traveling.

However, you would still be covered for that time free of any charge.

So if you choose to purchase your insurance three months prior to flying, any changes to your travel plans are likely to be covered by your insurance company. It’s better not to wait last minute for things to go wrong and get your insurance beforehand.

3. Purchase Online

Nearly all of us admire online purchasing simply because there are plenty of discounts available. This is why it may be a great option to buy your insurance cover online.

However, this is not as simple as it may sound. Online purchases are mostly done with a low price indicator. But when buying travel insurance, there’s way more than just looking at the price. Before making the purchase, it is a must to carefully examine your policy and ensure you’ve studied it in depth.

What Will a Corporate Bankruptcy Attorney Do for My Business?

Some business men want to take the easy way out and make as much savings as they can. It's only natural that they would want to do so. The economy is not in the best shape and every business has to worry about spending their finances wisely. When people advise some business men about hiring a corporate bankruptcy attorney for them, business men often end up in a debate with themselves, asking about the benefits of a corporate bankruptcy attorney and what such an attorney will do for your business. So here's a write-up for all such people who have ever found themselves double minded or in doubt about what a corporate bankruptcy attorney will do for their business.

First of all, the laws of some countries, especially those pertaining to bankruptcy are quite complex. It's not something that a lay man can be well aware off. It's professionals like corporate attorneys who know the know-how of the business laws and they will be able to provide you with professional help when it comes to dealing with legal matters, the law and the courts. It's very important for business men to understand that the corporate bankruptcy attorney you hire for your business will have to have access to all your financial information. That's right; hiding any part of the information from the lawyer could prove to be very damaging to your business, so it's important that you disclose every piece of information you are holding. Another thing to keep in mind is that the ultimate decision of handling the resources of the business rests with you. The management of the business resources is not the responsibility of the corporate bankruptcy attorney you've hired for your business.

The hectic job of a corporate bankruptcy attorney includes dealing with the creditors and debtors of your business, along with various other municipal, while trying to make them come to a mutual agreement for the settlement of debts and expenses of a business. This is a very uphill task, especially when it involves thousands of dollars. A mutual settlement is not an easy task and it involves a lot of negotiation. If you have hired multiple lawyers to work on the case, your bankruptcy attorney will have to co-ordinate his / her plans with those of the other lawyers. This is to ensure a unity of direction in the financial crisis. The bankruptcy attorney will have to deal with other issues besides the owners. These issues include court representations, legal contracts signed by the business before declaring bankruptcy, taxation, real estate and corporate finances.

The bankruptcy attorney will provide you with all the options open to you, to get yourself out of the situation. After carefully investigating the finances of the business, they will be able to tell you about the assets you can save and the assets you have to let go off. They will be able to devise a debt management scheme which will allow you to pay off your creditors over a period of time. This will be with the approval of the court, of course. If the various lawyers, working on your case, are unable to come to a mutual agreement about your situation, you may have to face a huge lawsuit. It is the responsibility of the bankruptcy attorney that you've hired to prevent that from happening. The counseling role and the advisory role that a corporate bankruptcy attorney plays are of great value as well. The stressful situation needs counseling, and the bankruptcy lawyer adds that to the pack of the services he / she will provide your business.

Buying Health Insurance Through a Broker

In its most simple definition, a health insurance broker (also commonly known as an agent) is someone who is licensed to sell health insurance. However, there are many other services they provide you that fall under the umbrella of selling health insurance. Here are some of the most important:

  1. Perhaps the most important fact to know about working with an agent is that it’s free. Insurance agents are paid by insurance carriers, not by consumers. So don’t worry about having to pay some service fee for signing up for a plan with an agent, because it will cost you nothing more than if you were to do it yourself
  2. Health insurance is confusing, and an agent will explain it to you until it makes sense. Ask all the questions you want, that’s what they’re there for. Want to know what your coinsurance will be on a certain plan? Want to know what coinsurance even means? Ask away!
  3. An agent can help you compare plans that you’re interested in. When you let an agent know what it is you’re looking for, they will narrow down your possibilities and explain the benefits of each. They can check to see if your doctors and preferred medical facilities are in-network, and they can just to see if any prescriptions you take are covered (and how much).
  4. Your agent is your agent as long as you have your policy. This means that you have someone you can contact when you have questions or even when you want to shop around for a new plan. You’ve got someone in your corner, as opposed to just winging it and picking out a plan on your own.

Because I’m sure you don’t want to be here reading all day, those are only a few of the biggest benefits of using a licensed agent to buy health insurance. That’s not even including how much time and frustration an agent can save you (we’ll save that for another article!).

To make it even more convenient for you, many brokers have the ability to access plans that are both on and off-exchange (government-run Marketplaces for health insurance). This provides you with even more options. Additionally, for agents who can access on-exchange plans, they can also determine your subsidy eligibility that can lower your premium and out-of-pocket expenses. Again, saving you yet another headache.

The next time you need to enroll in or change a health plan, keep a licensed agent in mind- it won’t cost you anything, but it will certainly save you a lot.

How Can Going Back to School Be Green?

Pupils and teachers alike are probably trying not to think about going back to school as the long summer holidays have only just begun, but as it is actually only a matter of weeks away, we have been thinking about how you can stay green as the new academic year approaches.

Firstly there is the equipment and kit that is invariably required whether you are teaching or learning. Many of these requirements are similar from primary school up until university so keep reading whichever type of educational establishment you work or study in. Stationery is a good start, much of which can be bought made from recycled materials. And when it comes to paper, remember to use both sides whether writing or printing. Also plan ahead with regards to lunches and invest in a lunch box rather than using plastic bags every day. If you need new school uniform check whether your school offers second hand clothes and donate your old good quality ones.

With regards to getting to your school or college, try to walk or cycle whenever possible, or use public transport if it is too far. Alternatively, set up a car sharing pool to reduce car use and save money.

Once you are there, you could think about how to make your school or college greener. Why not set up some eco-iniatives with colleagues or peers? You could become a Fairtrade school, set up a recycling scheme or move towards using renewable energy.

Ultimately, going back to school is just one more part of our lives where we can easily make a difference to our carbon footprint by making small changes to the purchases we make and actions we take. So as you start making plans for the next school year, think about how these could be a little greener.

Tips for Picking a Immigration Lawyer

While going through the immigration process, it may be overwhelming when you first sit down and begin to prepare all of the immigration forms. It may cross your mind that an immigration lawyer may be important to assist you in managing the process.

Although it is possible to go through the immigration process without a lawyer, there are many reasons it is helpful to hire an immigration lawyer to handle your case. If there is an obstacle that must be faced along the way, it may be necessary to have legal assistance to work through the problem. If your immigration circumstance is complicated, or you have no time to prepare your immigration case, it may be beneficial for you to have the assistance from an immigration lawyer.

Prior to hiring an immigration lawyer, it is crucial to do your research. Below are some tips to keep in mind while doing your research.

Obtaining references – Ask any family and friends if they know of any immigration lawyers. Although they may have never been through the immigration process they may be able to assist you in finding an individual who has been through the process and knows the services of an immigration lawyer.

The AILA website is a national association of attorneys and lawyers who instruct and practice immigration law. The purpose of this website is to be assured that you are hiring someone who has the knowledge in immigration law and policies.

Make a short lift of the attorneys that have caught your interest, and then interview these attorneys to find the one who matches your needs. Discuss with these attorneys if they have any experience with the type of case you have. Immigration law is specialty so it is crucial to hire a lawyer who is familiar with your type of case. If the lawyers you are interviewing provide you with a list of client references, use those contacts in order to obtain a better perception of the work styles of the lawyer.

Compare the fee programs. There are some lawyers that will charge by the hour and others who will only charge a flat rate. Ask the lawyer if there are any other additional costs such as courier feed, long distance charges and postage.

Check credentials. Once you believe you have found the lawyer who is right for you and you feel comfortable with, there is one step to do prior to signing a contract for the services. Get in contact with your local state bar to obtain information on your lawyer to see if they are licensed and in good standing. It is also crucial to find out if they have ever been subject to disciplinary action.

Bicycle Accident Attorney: Find A Top Legal Defense For Your Rights

Auto related accidents happen all the time and you are all the more vulnerable when riding on a bicycle alongside cars. Many drivers are careless and reluctant to share the streets with cyclists, so even with a helmet and careful biking skills you are still at risk. In the event that you are a victim in a collision, then take it upon yourself to find the best legal representative that is available. To learn how to locate the most qualified and affordable lawyer, then keep reading.

You will want to ask around amongst the people you know and trust if they know of any attorneys that can be recommended. Referrals are a great way to seek out reliable and efficient individuals in this line of service. In addition, doing some research on your own will be necessary. Check through local listings and online for qualified law offices that you can retain the services of.

Once you have come up with a few offices or practitioners that seem to offer the dedication and experience that your case will require, then it will be time to start making phone calls. Call and ask about win/loss ratio of a particular defense attorney and the overall record of his or her firm. In addition, inquire about the qualifications this person has to be suited to help you.

To receive the proper compensation for any potential injuries sustained from a collision, it is ideal to retain a lawyer you feel comfortable working with. Legal cases of any kind can be potentially stressful and taxing in both funds and patience, so you will need to be able to attain a solid rapport with your representative. Nearly all law offices offer initial consultations at no cost or obligation to potential clients, so use this opportunity to discuss all the specifics of your case and to gauge how well you work with the individual lawyer.

There are many different types of injuries and accidents in this field of collision cases, so be sure to make sure the attorney you are considering has experience handling situations like yours before, successfully. Medical bills can be expensive and extensive treatment may be necessary, so strive to obtain the best legal help you can to ensure you are given what you deserve.

A solid defense lawyer for a bicycle accident case should not be difficult to find, but do not simply base your decision on the first advertisement you see or on grand promises that are made during a consultation. Take the time to find out as much as you can with all potential representatives and/or firms before retaining any of them. This will be the best strategy you can take and pay off in the long run in more ways than one. Do your research, ask plenty of questions, and trust in your intuition. This way, you will locate the best attorney for your case and get properly compensated.