New Delaware Law Prohibits Use of Cell Phones While Driving

January 6th, 2011

On January 2nd 2011, Delaware’s law prohibiting the use of hand-held cell phones while driving took effect & local authorities say there won’t be a grace period when it comes to enforcement.

Drivers can still talk on the road, but they must use a hands-free device like a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone.  Drivers are also forbidden from performing other phone-related activities such as text messaging, checking email and browsing websites.

Breaking the new cell-phone law is considered a primary offense which means police officers who spot an offending driver can pull the person over for that violation alone.  The fine is $50 for the first offense and as much as $200 for a subsequent violation.

Delaware joins 8 other states and Washington, D.C. plus numerous cities, counties and towns, on the list of jurisdictions nationwide that have enacted similar bans.

Distracted Driving Is Dangerous Driving

October 22nd, 2010

Think alcohol is the single biggest cause of traffic deaths?  Guess again.

Drinking and driving is a serious issue.  But we now face a 21st century phenomenon:  driving while distracted.  It’s so pervasive it has its own acronym, DWD.  There’s no doubt that DWD – texting and fiddling with electronics – is incredibly dangerous.

Safety experts are reporting traffic deaths related to DWD have surpassed those attributed to alcohol.  And DWD is now the # 1 traffic killer of teens.

Today’s drivers crave cars with in-vehicle technology.  We can integrate phones, music, navigation and videos into a dashboard touch-screen computer.  We can turn our car into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.  Some have even retrofitted their dashboards to install an iPad. 

When we stir in all this technology to feed our addiction to the Internet and social networking, we have the recipe for disaster.

Talk with your teens.  They are most likely to be distracted and they’re the most inexperienced drivers on the road.  The best way to change habits is through education.  The real power to curb DWD lies in you, the consumer.  So make sure everyone in your family adopts safe driving habits and understands just how dangerous DWD behaviors are.

In the long run, fewer crashes lower insurance costs.  But more important, reducing DWD accidents saves lives!

9 Easy ways to cut insurance costs, who knew?

September 27th, 2010

So, you’ve left no stone unturned in your quest for savings.  Dinners out are a thing of the past, you probably cancelled your gym membership months ago, and you’ve discovered the joys of carpooling with your heavy-metal-music-loving neighbor!  But have you thought about your auto or homeowners insurance as a place to look for hidden dollars?  Our agency offers many discounts, but not everyone understands how to find these savings.  Consider the following…

1.)  Insure both your auto and home with us!  A policyholder who has auto insurance with us and then adds on homeowners coverage can earn a 15 percent discount on the homeowners policy and a 10 percent discount on the auto policy.  That can really add up!

2.)  Take a defensive driving course.  Check out www.delawaredriver.com or call Mastercraft Safety at: (302) 368-7833.  Depending on the course you take, you can save around 10-15% off the cost of your auto insurance.

3.)  Renovate your home.  If your cost-cutting measures shelved that renovation project you were considering, add this factor to the math:  upgrading your home’s heating, plumbing, electrical or roof may create opportunities for insurance savings.  Talk to us about your recent upgrades & we’ll see where the discount falls!

4.)  Consider life insurance.  If you take advantage of life insurance or an annuity through Nationwide, we will soon be able to offer you a 5% discount on your auto policy.

5.)  Take the SMARTRIDE.  Nationwide has created a special online learning center to help parents and teens talk about driving smart.  The Smart Ride site, nationwidesmartride.com is full of online learning sessions, interactive quizzes and tests.  And when you’re done, there’s a discount!

6.)  Install a security system.  Discounts of up to 10 percent are also available when you install a monitored alarm system in your home.  Contact us first to learn how to receive the maximum discount.

7.)  Hit the books.  Good students are disciplined and, chances are, they paid attention in Driver’s Ed.  So we reward students with a GPA of 3.0 or better with a Good Student Discount.

8.)  Make membership count.  Be sure to tell us where you went to school, what you do for a living and any groups or associations you belong to.  You could receive a special discount if you belong to one of our partner alumni associations, fraternities, financial institutions, professional groups or sports organizations.

9.)  Keep your home safe.  Believe it or not, simple things like solid exterior doors, secondary locks, and smoke alarms can earn you a 5 percent discount.

So has all of this talk of discounts got you thinking it might be time to take a look at your home and auto insurance?  Cool!  Call us to schedule an On Your Side Review where we can sit down & review all of your policies with you.  Of course, this is free of charge!

Recommended: Life insurance for college bound children

August 19th, 2010

Back to school season is upon us. Pencils, pens, paper, folders, life insurance…huh? I came across an article recently on Delawareonline.com which stopped me in my tracks. The title reads, ”N.J. couple left with $81,000 in student loans when son dies.” The article mentions the couple’s son, who recently graduated from Monmouth and was studying for his Series 7 exam to become a stockbroker when he hit the back of a truck. His parents said police haven’t figured out what happened that night; they said toxicology reports came back negative. Devastated by the loss of their son, the couple was stunned to find a notice in the mail explaining that they were on the hook for more than $81,000 in student loans from NJ Class, the state’s college loan program.

So this leads me to pose a question to parents of college bound children. Have you ever considered what would happen if this scenario occurred in your family? Could you afford to pick up the monthly bill to the tune of $550 a month? One simple solution, and the article mentions this as well, is to purchase a life insurance policy for your child. We understand money’s tight, especially trying to get your kids through college, but for just several dollars a month, you could purchase a ten-year term policy and put this worry to rest. Give us a call or send an email to find out how we can help.

5 Things Every New Parent Must Do.

July 30th, 2010

Protect your baby’s future by taking these legal & financial steps.
Stroller? Check.  Car Seat?  Check.  You have all the gear to take care of your bundle of joy now, but have you thought ahead to the future?  As a new parent, I know it’s challenging just to get through the day and manage to squeeze in a shower.  It’s easy to forget about your child’s long-term needs.  Being a responsible parent means you need to consider all of your child’s needs, not just the ones right in front of you.  Follow these 5 important steps to make sure your little one will always be taken care of, no matter what happens.

1 / Get your child a Social Security Card
The quickest & easiest way to take care of this is at the hospital.  When you fill out the form for your child’s birth certificate, check the box indicating you want a Social Security card for your baby.  This card is needed to obtain medical insurance and to open up a bank account.  Take care of it right away.  If you wait till your child is 1, you will need to apply at the Social Security office & provide documentation of your child’s age, identity, and citizenship.  This process can take up to 12 weeks.

2 / Write a will
Did you know that approximately 70% of families with children under the age of 18 do not have a will?  That’s crazy…this is the single most important document for ensuring that your wishes for your child’s care are honored in the event of your untimely death.  Talk to a lawyer or visit LegalZoom.com or BuildAWill.com

3 / Buy life insurance
Life insurance isn’t for the people who die; it’s for the loved ones you leave behind.  Don’t you want to make sure even if you’re not around, your family has enough income to cover the cost of diapers, diplomas, and everything in between?  And don’t count on the life insurance your employer provides to be there when you need it.  Make sure you buy your own policy.  Contrary to what you might think, its sometimes cheaper – and definitely more advantageous – to get your own individual coverage.  That’s because group plans cover plenty of individuals who are older or in poorer health than you, which bumps up the premium each person pays.  Also, you will not be covered it you switch jobs or are let go.

4 / Purchase disability insurance
Now, you might be reading this and saying, “I don’t want to be insurance poor.”  But really, between the ages of 35 & 65, you have a one in three chance of having a disability lasting more than 90 days.  Please don’t think that just because you sit behind a desk in a cozy chair that you’re not at risk…it’s not just about accidents on the job.  What if you get breast cancer or your husband hurts his back wrestling with the kids?  Who’s going to pay for groceries?  About 46% of all home mortgage foreclosures are caused by the disability of a family’s breadwinner.

5 / Set up an education savings fund
The estimated cost of a four-year public college 18 years from now is about $150,000!  Crazy isn’t it!  A private education is at least double that – and don’t forget all the expenses that pile up from kindergarten through high school.  Luckily, now there are a lot more options to help you save for education costs than there were just a decade ago.  There are state-sponsored college savings plans, known as 529 plans.  These allow you to sock away as much as $250,000 over the life of the account to pay for your child’s college education.  You don’t pay taxes on any interest your money earns, as long as the money is used for qualified educational expenses.  Now you might be wondering how am I going to save $250,000…your family & friends can contribute into these funds as well!

Another option is a Coverdell Education Savings Account, which allows you to put away up to $2,000 a year.  With a Coverdell, you don’t pay taxes on earnings or on qualified withdrawals.  While 529’s can only be used for costs related to higher education, a Coverdell account can be used to pay for educational expenses from kindergarten on, including private-school tuition, books, even Internet access & tutoring! Read the rest of this entry »