Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Shhhh... life insurance

Nobody likes to talk about it, and the stereotypical image of the life insurance agent standing all alone at cocktail parties and other gatherings is well established. That being said, no other financial product can do as much for you and your family as life insurance, and at a time when you (or they) need it the most. You see, upon the death of the person insured, life insurance creates an immediate estate . . . an immediate source of money.

However the buying process is much more involved than to just "go out and get some." In spite what some of the big, faceless advertisers would have you believe, life insurance is far from being a one-size-fits-all type of purchase. There are very different needs for life insurance, depending on your particular circumstances and stage in your life cycle.

Term or Perm?

This is the age old question when it comes to buying life insurance. Is it better to buy Term insurance, or some form of permanent coverage, such as Whole Life, Variable Life, or Universal Life? Answer: It all depends. But the good news for you is that we have several fine companies to choose from who have excellent and very competitive policies in either or both categories. And we will be happy to sit down with you at your convenience to assess your needs and match them up to a policy that is right for you. Call us today – 800-482-6426.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Be Careful With Candles

As Autumn is now here, with Winter (or the potential for winter weather) approaching, please take a few minutes to review the following information and be safety conscious when it comes to candles. When a storm hits and the electricity goes out at night, most of us will go in search of some candles and/or flashlights, (and in the process bump into numerous items of furniture, stubbing toes or bruising shins, but that's another tip for another time).  For now, let's concentrate on being safe when using candles.

Most of these tips are simply common sense.  However, as a good friend of mine likes to say, "Common sense is anything but common."

If you're going to use candles, just make sure to:

  • Keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that could catch fire.
  • Use candle holders that won't easily tip over.
  • Put them only on surfaces that are level, sturdy, and free from clutter.
  • Don't let them burn all the way down. 
  • If oxygen is being used in the house, never, ever use candles.
Finally,
  • Blow out all the candles before going to bed or leaving your house, even for just a little while.  

More great tips can be found on the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) web site: www.nfpa.org.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

NATIONAL FIRE PREVENTION WEEK: OCTOBER 5 - 11, 2014

THIS IS NATIONAL FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

Now is a great time to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.  But don't stop there...  
  • Test your smoke detectors at least once a month to make sure they are functioning properly.  (Remember, you should have at least one smoke detector on each floor of your house, but having more than that certainly can't hurt.  You should have at least one located near sleeping areas of the house, such as in a hallway leading to the bedrooms. 
  • Have a written escape plan and practice it periodically with fire drills.  Because fires may happen at night, that is a good time to practice your evacuation procedure. 
Can you answer these questions?
    • How will you get out of the house from each room?
    • Where will you go once you get outside your burning home?
    • What if you have guests visiting you... will they know how to exit your house, especially from the bedrooms, in the dark?  
If you cannot answer the above questions, you should work on you plan.  In addition, what happens if your house catches fire while you are out of town?  Do you have a designated Emergency Contact who knows how to get in touch with you as well as your insurance provider to report the claim?  Ask us about our exclusive Emergency Contact Program.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Check Your Bank Accounts Online DAILY!


Do yourself a favor, check your online bank accounts on 
a daily basis (if not more frequently), especially if you 
have a credit or debit card tied to any of your accounts.  



Trust me, I speak from experience.  While online yesterday, looking at my balance and transaction information, I noticed that one of my accounts had outstanding card charges in excess of $3500 -- far, far more than I ever use on that card.  As soon as the detail screen opened up, it was immediately apparent that my card had been hacked.  It started off with rather small charges to a foreign Paypal account -- obviously not mine, and continued on with increasing charges for the same  description.  

Fortunately, those charges were all made yesterday, so checking out my online accounts really paid off, as the bank was able to cancel that card and send me a new one before any/many more charges appeared.  

If this ever happens to you, call your bank's local branch, or the telephone number on the back of your credit/debit card (you may need a magnifying glass...), and ask for the Fraud Department (or press the appropriate keys on your phone).  Tell them your card has been hacked and ask them to cancel the card and send you a replacement.  If you have access to your charges, tell them which ones are legitimate and which ones are fraudulent.  They should put a hold on those charges that you claim are fraudulent and put that money back into your account.  You may need to follow up the next day to make sure the charges have been reversed, as well as to see that they have allowed no further charges to your card.  Also, change your passwords and/or PINs related to that account.

I hope this NEVER happens to you!

Friday, September 5, 2014

"My roof was damaged by hail, why won't the insurance company replace the whole thing?"

Some times after a widespread storm (such as the one that came through Oakland on June 3), property owners believe that since their roof was partially damaged the insurance company owes them an entire new roof.  After all, you would't replace just part of your roof.  The problem with this situation is that insurance companies are only obligated to pay for the "damaged" portion of the property.  Often times a storm will cause enough widespread harm to the surface of the roof that the whole roof must be replaced.

However, if a person has a roof that consists of two sides and only one side was affected by the wind and/or hail, the insurance company only owes for the half that was damaged.  This particular scenario is unfortunate for the property owner because they will want/need to replace the whole roof, not just half.  Who's going to pay for the difference?  Answer:  The property owner.  As mentioned above, the insurance company is only responsible for the damaged part.

Granted, this scenario hardly seems fair, particularly if the property owner has been insured by the same company for years, perhaps even decades.  As much as your company and agency appreciates your business over the years, they cannot use that as a consideration to pay for something not allowed by your policy (such as the undamaged half of your roof).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hail Yes We've Got Claims!

Certain parts of Southwest Iowa look much different today than they did just over a week ago on June 3, when the EF-2 tornado, 100+ mph straight winds, and damaging hail paid a little visit. Many trees are gone or severely trimmed, a lot of windows were broken, siding and roofs damaged and at least here in Oakland, our population has doubled, just by the addition of contractors and loss adjusters. Plus, if you can't hear a chainsaw running, chances are it is only because the operator had to stop to put more gas in it. Fortunately, in spite of all the damage, there hasn't been one report of injury. For that, we are most thankful.

Our agency has submitted well over 200 loss reports on behalf of our customers and countless more have been reported directly to the company from policyholders. Regardless of the amount of damage your property has received, it is never a picnic to go through the claims process. Toward that end, we do our best to make the experience as smooth and painless as possible for you. Whether your loss is insured through our agency, or with another company or agency, here are some things to keep in mind:
  • The insurance companies have received thousands of claims in a very short period of time. They are doing everything they can to get to your particular claim(s) just as soon as possible, and most companies have brought in extra help, either using outside independent adjusting firms or pulling adjusters from other areas of the country. 
  • There is no “pecking order” that determines which claims get looked at first other than the most severe losses generally get earlier attention. You may have insurance with the same company as your friends and/or neighbors and see an adjuster days before they do, or vice versa. That’s just the way it is.
  • It is a good idea to write down the names and contact information for everyone you talk to in regard to your loss.
  • If you have damage that leaves your property exposed to further damage from the elements, it is your right and obligation according to your policy to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
  • We appreciate your business, as does your insurance company. However the adjuster is not able to consider the length of time you have been with the company when calculating your settlement. Your insurance policy is a legal contract between you and the insurance company, and adjusters must follow the policy guidelines when handling your claim.
  • While it is human nature to compare your damage and recovery with that of your friends/neighbors, it would be incorrect to assume that your settlements can be easily or accurately compared. Each situation is different due to a variety of factors: construction and age of your property, amount of damage sustained, age and type of materials used in your siding, roof, windows, etc. Just because you receive a settlement for a new roof does not mean your neighbor will or should receive the same compensation, and vice versa.
  • Some adjusters will call beforehand to try and set up an appointment with you to examine your damage. Others will simply show up and hope to find someone at home. If you are not at home at the time they stop, they should leave a card in your door, telling you they were there. They do NOT coordinate their appointments through our office or even notify us when they will be meeting with you. 
Having an insurance claim can be an inconvenience so the sooner your claim is settled, the better. If you have questions or concerns throughout your claims process, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Call 712-482-6424 or toll-free at 800-482-6426.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Things to Know This Week at Hummel Insurance Services

  • CD rates getting you down? It’s no secret that CD rates have been lousy for a long time. There is some good news, however. The Personal Choice Annuity from Sentinel Security Life actually raised their interest rates recently and offers a very competitive rate of 3.3% guaranteed for 5 Years! If you have as little as $2500 (Qualified or Non-Qualified) that is earning less than 3.3%, why not take advantage of the tax-deferred benefit of an annuity?
  • Have you ever:
    • Been overcharged for a repair?
    • Received a speeding ticket
    • Been audited?
    • Signed a document?
    • Prepared a will?
If you are like most people, you have had to deal with at least one of the above situations at some point in your life. If you haven’t completed the last item on the above list (Preparing a Will), what’s stopping you? Maybe you just put up with being overcharged, receiving a ticket, or any of the other items in the above list (which is just a small sample) because you were worried about how much it would cost to hire an attorney. With LegalShield, a small monthly fee puts you in touch with an experienced and respected law firm. You’ll be only a phone call away from the legal services you may need. Go to: www.legalshieldassociate.com/hub/craighummel for more information, or call Craig at 712-482-6424.

  • Dental, Vision, Hearing. Three types of expenses not covered on Medicare Supplements (unless a medical necessity), or some health insurance policies unless resulting in a medical diagnosis. As little as $25 per month will give you some protection against these routine costs.
  • Critical Illness Coverage. The good news is that more people than ever before recover from a Heart Attack, Stroke, or Cancer. The bad news is that recovery can be very costly, with many of those expenses being non-medical and excluded from your health insurance policy. Critical Illness coverage pays YOU a lump sum upon your being diagnosed with any one of twenty-two conditions.

Friday, May 23, 2014

HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

Everyone at Hummel Insurance Services wants to wish you and your family have a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend.  To help make sure your weekend is SAFE, remember this acronym:  SWFFT
SUN:  Be careful whenever you are outside; you can get a sunburn even on cloudy days.  It can help to wear a hat and sunglasses, but the best way to protect your skin is using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
WATER:  Don’t ever swim alone.  If you are boating or riding a personal watercraft (Jet Ski, Sea Doo, etc.) make sure you wear a life vest.  Avoid alcohol while or before operating a boat or PWC, and always watch out for children.
FOOD:  Make sure you thoroughly cook your foods, particularly when grilling ground beef, pork or poultry.  Yeah, I like juicy hamburgers too, but they say they aren’t safe to eat that way, so govern yourself accordingly.  Also, perishable foods need to be refrigerated within two hours, and always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food and after touching raw meat.
FIRE:  Grilling out and sitting around a fire pit can be a source of great fun on a summer weekend; just remember to keep them away from flammable areas and materials.
TRAVEL:  Don’t take off without making sure your vehicle has been serviced recently, don’t drink and drive or get in a vehicle with anyone under the influence.  Also, don’t be a distracted driver…leave the phone alone when driving.  DON’T TEXT WHILE DRIVING.  EVER.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Be Prepared for Disaster

With storm season sneaking up on us, we should take advantage of every tool possible to protect our families.  The following tips and guides appear on the Ready.gov web site. For 2014, they are stressing family and including children in these important conversations.  Regardless of whether or not you have children, there is plenty of good information to be had.  Here is just a sample, but more can be found at:  http://www.ready.gov/prepared2014.

RESOLVE TO BE READY 2014

Resolve to be Ready. #Prepared2012 - Ad Council, Ready and FEMA

The campaign includes age-appropriate tools and resources to introduce conversations about disaster preparedness to children on www.ready.gov/kids, including a downloadable family emergency plan, emergency kit checklists and guidelines on how to make preparedness a year-round family activity. Check out the materials that you can use in your community to get families prepared in 2014.This year's Resolve to be Ready campaign focuses on 'Family Connection' to reinforce the importance of parents including their children in preparedness conversations in advance of potential disasters. The Ready campaign makes an emergency preparedness resolution easy to keep by recommending families consider these three ideas when making a plan: who to call,where to meet and what to pack.
  • Preparedness social media messages
  • #Prepared2014 Thunderclap message
  • Ready Kids public service announcement and emergency preparedness videos
  • Downloadable family emergency plan templates, emergency kit checklists, and disaster fact sheets for kids
  • Facebook cover photo, banner, and square graphic
  • Learn about these tools in Spanish: Propóngase estar listo en el año 2014





Thursday, January 2, 2014

Have You Ever... ?



Have You Ever...

  • Been overcharged for a repair?
  • Received a speeding ticket?
  • Been audited?
  • Signed a contract?
  • Prepared a will?
Many people experience these situations, but for one reason or another don't seek out the advice or help of a qualified lawyer.  Maybe it costs too much, or they don't know where to start, or feel intimidated by the whole process.  Whatever the reason, going it alone puts you at a distinct disadvantage.

That is why I'm pleased to introduce LegalShield, available now to clients and friends of Hummel Insurance Services.  You can quickly and easily learn how LegalShield can help your family by going to:  www.legalshield.com/hub/craighummel and click on the "Learn More" button under the "LegalShield Plans" heading.

Then, simply call me at 800-482-6426 for more information.  Or, if you're ready to sign up, just click on the "Buy Now" button.  Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Craig Hummel, Independent Associate